Thursday, November 30, 2023

Pharrell Williams Defines The Future Of Dandy

Hong Kong welcomed Pharrell Williams with open arms. With one of the world’s most memorable skylines as the backdrop for the Men’s Pre-Fall 2024 show, the first Louis Vuitton (PARIS:MC.PA +0.87%) men’s collection to ever be shown in Hong Kong, brought in guests from around the world, including global superstars from South Korea, China, Japan and more. Located right on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront overlooking the picturesque Hong Kong skyline, the location set the tone for both the collection and gave a nod to the brand’s strategic direction and focus towards the Asian market.

Pharrell’s debut show set the bar high as it saw pop culture’s royalty — Beyoncé, JAY-Z, Rihanna and more — attend. The pomp and circumstance of Pharrell’s first show with the house saw a live gospel performance by Voices of Fire as well as one from Pharrell and JAY-Z to cap off the night. For his second showing, Pharrell brings Louis Vuitton to the vibrant and eclectic city of Hong Kong, a spectacle in itself. As a part of their invitation, show attendees received a t-shirt featuring a playful and colourful graphic of a beach island scene, setting the tone for the collection ahead. As evident in this show and the last, Pharrell is no stranger to using vibrant colors to accent traditional patterns like the Damier, as seen on cloud like sandals and Keepall bags. Almost an ode to the colorful cityscape and sunny beaches of Hong Kong, the collection itself is resonant and astounding. In an exclusive conversation with Hypebeast, Pharrell explains the concept of the show and how the city of Hong Kong inspired the collection and presentation,

”It was inspired by the idea of a businessman in Hong Kong who has decided to spend a week or so in Hawaii on holiday. But in the middle of his trip, he has to go back to Hong Kong for one day for a meeting he couldn’t move. The archetypes that we chose were like a sailor one and an another archetype was one on holiday. There’s a lot of floral inspiration, a deep dive into exotic colorways, interesting pairings of colors. The silhouette that you’re going to see is consistent with what I’m infatuated with when it comes to formal…which is the future of chic, dandy in a sailor suit, dandy in resort holiday.”

Significant to some, the show in Hong Kong lands a couple days following the second anniversary of Virgil Abloh‘s death. As a subtle nod to the late-designer, Pharrell continues his legacy, bringing his own unique play on colors with heritage Louis Vuitton emblems, patterns and styling. Hypebeast spoke to Pharrell about how he hopes to carry on Abloh’s legacy while moving forward with his own at the house and in a matter of conviction Pharrell said, “V’s legacy for me is something I want to hold up and always want to give reverence to while I’m at Vuitton.” Pharrell remembers the past, talking about when he first started with Marc Jacobs 20 years ago and the viral photo of Kanye West, himself and Abloh wearing the Millionaire sunglasses, “Never in a million years did I think I would be doing anything after sunglasses.” Pharrell talks about how when Abloh was appointed he felt that they were “intrinsically” tied.

In the conversation, the multihyphenate designer shares a story that highlights where he got the idea of “LVERS” and it starts with Abloh attending his first ever Something In The Water festival in his home of Virginia and later Pharrell going to Paris to support him when he was appointed at LV, “He came from Paris to VA. Paris to VA…and when I got appointed, I’m from VA and we went to Paris. In Virginia, our state slogan is ‘Virginia is for Lovers’ so when you see ‘lovers’ it’s where it all started.” It is evident that Pharrell holds Abloh close in everything that he does with the house of Louis Vuitton and that it is all tied together at the end of the day.

Under Abloh, skate culture has always been incorporated into his design ethos and Pharrell carried this on. Much of his influences continue on to footwear in the form of sneakers and bold patterns. Modern silhouettes adorned the runway to match the theme of Pharrell’s modern day dapper man. Versatile silhouettes take you to from beachy to formalwear in an instant, making it fit for the modern day businessman. Footwear saw exaggerated sandals and sneakers inspired by the formality of loafers arriving in vibrant hues. For the minimalist, the Damier pattern arrives on the suede mule in tonal camel brown. As for the beach theme, the island getaway fantasy was a common print on button down shirts, Keepall duffle bags as well as full suits. Staples including denim shirts, varsity jackets and more adorned Pharrell’s signature “LVers” motif, matching the drone show at the end where the text was seen in the sky.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Fashion Critics Will No Longer Wake Up For Less Than $10,000 A Day

At a late-evening show on the penultimate day of London Fashion Week, a staff writer at a competitor magazine turned around to me and said: “When am I going to be cast in something? What’s wrong with me?” Fitting, because he spent a large proportion of our conversation listing all of the times he had been included in street-style galleries recently. But this wasn’t a question of an outsized fashion ego. The past couple of seasons have seen a steady increase in the number of industry insiders taking turns on the catwalk. That an aspirant cool-kid journalist should be waiting in the wings for his big “debut” is now entirely plausible. There’s real kudos in being positioned as that kind of cultish figure on the scene.

This interaction took place weeks before fashion critic Cathy Horyn joined the cast of Demna’s spring/summer 2024 show at Balenciaga, alongside blogger Diane Pernet and publicist Robin Meason. The fashion designer Mowalola Ogunlesi then made a cameo in Mugler’s makeshift wind tunnel, following Sinéad O’Dwyer’s appearance at Chopova Lowena during London Fashion Week, while i-D writer Joe Bobowicz walked for Olly Shinder’s debut at Fashion East. His editor, Mahoro Seward, was cast on Chopova Lowena’s spring/summer 2023 catwalk, the same season that Acne Studios’s CMO and former Dazed editor-in-chief Isabella Burley was trundled out at Vaquera.

In casting members of their own professional (and social) circles, it would seem these designers have realised the value of running a fashion person’s fashion brand. “I think we all love an ‘if you know, you know’ moment,” says casting director Sarah Small of Good Catch, who works with Chopova Lowena. “And runways are perfect for this because you have the opportunity to bring a group of people together with shared attitudes. So it makes sense not to base casting decisions on aesthetics alone.” Small’s work (along with Emma Matell and Troy Fearn’s) has given rise to a new genre of model, one that puts an emphasis on street-cast faces: real, eccentric and often unpolished, revealing a sense of humanity beneath the clothes.

“Street casting has paved the way for less expected beauties to make an appearance on the runway,” she says. “It’s connected to, but different from, casting insider talent, which is more closely linked to what those people represent.” A co-sign from a well-respected name is perhaps worth more to a designer than hiring a professional billboard for a couple of minutes. It’s why Jo Ellison walked for Dolce & Gabbana in 2017 and Matthew Schneier walked for Vaquera in 2018. These relationships go deeper than those of a traditional model-designer set-up. It’s a dialogue. The same goes for Alexander McQueen, who modelled for Rei Kawakubo in ’97, and Martin Margiela for Jean Paul Gaultier in ’98.

And yet this all felt markedly different from those ’90s cameos. Since lockdown ended, celebrity, spectacle and the collision of the two have been central to fashion month’s rebooted IRL offering. The image of Dua Lipa licking her lips on the spring/summer 2022 Versace catwalk haunts me like a World War II flashback. See also: Balenciaga’s bomb craters and Bella Hadid clasping her breasts as a latex dress is sprayed onto her in real-time. The clothes have been just as attention-seeking. This shift has been met with scepticism from critics, who consider these antics concept-thin, attention-grabbing stunts. Case in point: the publicity-starved Tommy Ca$h aping as a homeless person at Y/Project.

But this season, it felt as though the industry was turning its gaze back on itself: presenting post-meme wardrobes on pre-Instagram models like Agyness Deyn and Malgosia Bela. There were some VIP cameos (among them Troye Sivan and Cailee Spaeny at Miu Miu, Angela Bassett and Paris Hilton at Mugler, and Mia Khalifa at KNWLS) but there were fewer headline-generating appearances. In general, the appetite for A-listers wasn’t quite there. “There will never be a time without models and celebrities, but once anything becomes conventional, it no longer creates the stimulus necessary for someone to pay attention,” says W David Marx, the author of Status and Culture. “And so you have to keep subverting those conventions.”

“The idea of using very attractive, model-like people has felt quite stale for a long time,” he continues. “So to use a different kind of person is a good marketing trick. Relevance is such a scarce currency at the moment, and there’s so few ways to drum up the right kind of attention.” Was Balenciaga’s SS24 casting an attempt at pandering to the fashion establishment? Even if the collection had lacked in substance (which it didn’t), the presence of Horyn would have bathed Demna in a halo of intellect. “It works both ways,” Marx adds. “The insider gets a level of fame they might not have had before, and the brand acquires relevance. Remember, not all insiders want to be hidden behind the scenes anymore.”

If someone wants to create a name for themselves, there is now an expectation to be an active participant in the fashion circus. Brands will continue to rely on celebrities to disseminate their message to as wide an audience as possible, but it’s perhaps a much nobler task to win the approval of the in-crowd. To cast an esteemed journalist over a famous supermodel is an explicit endorsement of the virtues they’re seen to uphold: knowledge and integrity and hard-won connoisseurship. It’s a small gesture, with enormous subtext for those who happen to be in the know. And if you don’t know? Well, you might look at the clothes these people are wearing instead.

Monday, November 27, 2023

The Surprising Return Of Analog Cameras

A generation used to unlimited access to information and tools is recovering the charm of objects that invite the opposite of smartphones’ immediacy. Interest in old-fashioned film cameras is increasing, especially for those whose childhoods are documented on film. “We take a lot of photos that last only until we change phones. But almost all of us keep albums from when we were little that are memories of our lives, places to return to and revisit,” say Cristóbal Benavente and Marta Arquero, managers of the Sales de Plata store, a stop for lovers of analog photography.

We are seeing a return to analog documentation of events: at festivals, people put away their cell phones and take out a disposable camera instead. Only once the film is developed does one encounter the final result, which becomes a treasure. Film photography is synonymous with beauty, melancholy and memory. It is also a limited service: since a film roll is not infinite, it forces photographers to choose with precision the moments to capture, creating an emotional bond with the subject, something which has been lost with smartphones. “Currently, we have images of absolutely everything we do and experience, whether it has value or not. Now, your wedding photos are interspersed with the image of the toast that you had for breakfast the previous week,” reflects Clara Sanz, Social Media Strategist at the creative agency Porque Pasado.

Normally, after taking a selfie or asking for a photo for a potential social media post, there is an almost obsessive scrutiny of all the supposed defects of the face and body. This image is studied from all angles and, on some occasions, editing and filters are used, modifying the people who appear in it beyond recognition. Researchers at the Boston Medical Center speak of “selfie dysmorphia,” referring to the disorder suffered by those who undergo plastic surgery with the purpose of looking like the version of themselves they see with social media filters.

Alternative social networks like BeReal, which was born in 2020 to fight against this lack of reality and the complexes that derive from Instagram and other applications, offer a less artificial option. Members of Generation Z, who have shown a clear concern for mental health, have embraced them. But, as Clara Sanz points out, “from the moment you can choose the moment to take the photo and you can repeat the image, it loses a bit of its meaning.”

Analog photos may not be perfect, and everyone may not look their most attractive. But they capture the memory of a certain moment and what it felt like then, as well as a window to understand how others see: “Analog photography is authenticity and reality. It’s seeing your birthday photos around a cake with a stain on the tablecloth. It is having chocolate on your cheek and remembering how much fun you had at those parties,” says Sanz.

These imperfections are what millennials miss so much. The youth of Generation Z long for what they never experienced. The rise of analog cameras comes as a response to the need for naturalness lost after so many years of feigned perfection. Photography once again becomes a means of expression and a tool to materialize memories. In the case of disposable cameras, there is also the added attraction of not knowing what the result will be like until the roll is developed, which for many young people is a totally new experience.

The owners of Sales de Plata say that they receive a lot of questions every day regarding the management and characteristics of cameras, since many people who are curious about the subject have never had contact with it before, not even as children. “The curious thing is that the question is very common among older people: does this still exist? There is a great difference in perspective according to age regarding analog photography: those who see it as a creative medium full of possibilities and those who experienced its decline in the early 2000s, sold all their equipment and feel that it is obsolete,” say Benavente and Arquero.

There are countless photo editing tools that create a vintage look. This fixation has existed for a while. Many young adults now remember those teenage years when they spent hours in front of the computer screen visiting Tumblr accounts where this aesthetic reigned. It was common to want to live inside the music videos for Lana Del Rey’s Video Games and Summertime Sadness, which were suffused with the romanticism of home videos, found footage — fake documentaries— and, in general, a nostalgic, dreamy atmosphere.

“Going back to the past means returning to comfort, to the familiar, to the place where one feels safe. Perhaps this explains why there are now young kids taking photos at trap concerts with cell phones from years ago and taking the trouble to transfer these photos to the computer. Or people shooting video clips with MiniDV cameras. It is the same type of nostalgia that Wim Wenders includes in the film Paris, Texas, scenes from years ago in Super 8 films: it takes us back,” conclude Benavente and Arquero.

Hashtags like #filmphotography have 40,764,153 followers on Instagram. In videos on social media, couples imitate photographs of their parents when they were their age, filling social networks with flashbacks to the 1980s and 1990s. “People want to feel natural again, to have references on which to base ourselves without fearing that everything is false. We are tired of not being able to believe what we see, of being bombarded with messages that are not real and that generate toxic feelings for no reason. I think it is a trend that should be maintained and promoted by all creators and that would give them added value,” says Sanz regarding the trend of images taken with analog cameras on social networks.

The analog camera industry experienced an evident decline with the arrival of digitalization. In 2012, the journalist Ramón Peco wondered in an article in this newspaper whether analog photography would survive. “It may seem like a romantic statement, and it probably is, but we must not forget that the photography business fuels many dreams. And for some, those dreams cannot be captured with digital technology,” he reflected at the time.

Maybe that is the crux of the matter. Charlotte Wells manages to capture all that melancholy with Sophie’s home videos in the film Aftersun. It is not a coincidence that a film about memory and the survival of images in the brain revolves around those files, nor that the memory of Sophie’s last night with her father in Turkey is an instant photograph taken with a Polaroid. That crucial moment, materialized with an analog camera, is physical proof that all those scenes existed, even though they are now blurred and confused with those in your mind. The Polaroid stops being an image and becomes a treasure, something that can still be touched when everything else is gone.

As Y2K becomes fashionable again, so has the use of digital cameras. Surely many millennials remember carrying one in their bag alongside their keys or mobile phone, as well as arriving home after a gathering with friends or a trip, plugging it into the computer and downloading all the photos. They may remember the flash that dyed the eyes red and the skin nuclear white. Celebrities like Paris Hilton carried them on their wrists. Now, social media influencers are recovering those cameras: they may appear in videos in which current couples imitate their parents’ photos, filling Instagram with a retro aesthetic thanks to digital cameras.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Would You Wear Louis Vuitton’s Optical Illusion Boots?

Lately, fashion loves to make you do a double take. Optical illusion attire has been all the rage on the runways, as designers have taken everyday silhouettes – hoodies, coats, heels – and given them a surreal twist. At Loewe, Jonathan Anderson has debuted dresses that are spray-painted to appear like smaller dresses; at Bottega Veneta, Matthieu Blazy created sock-boots, jeans and dress shirts that are (surprise!) actually made out of buttery leather. It’s been a chic game of trickery – and Louis Vuitton is the latest label to get on board. The French fashion house’s new stiletto pumps are, well, in fact not pumps at all.

Debuted during the label’s autumn/winter 2023 presentation in Paris, Louis Vuitton sent below-the-knee boots down the catwalk that are constructed to appear like a leg wearing white ribbed socks and black pumps, both of which have been hand-painted onto the upper. Dubbed the “Illusion High Boot”, the trompe l’oeil style comes in two different skin tones, and they retail for £1,880 (They even come in a calf-length version, too.) They’re a cheeky – if not provocative – shoe silhouette, but not out of line with Vuitton’s house codes, which are all about innovating in the leatherwork space.

Now, are the boots off-kilter? Definitely. Not everyone wants to wear a shoe that looks like something else. However, they do come at a time where unexpected shapes are ruling the accessories realm. Very on-trend. Have you seen Loewe’s make-up-brush heels? Or Balenciaga’s five-toe sheepskin booties? Or GCDS’s wedge pumps with built-in chrome teeth? If ready-to-wear is all about stealth wealth (where quietly luxurious brands, such as Phoebe Philo and The Row, designed by women for women, are dominating), then the shoe world is all about having a sense of humour, and injecting your look with a bit of kooky personality. Not everything can be so serious. To quote Sex and the City, “No one’s fun anymore! What ever happened to fun!”

Thursday, November 16, 2023

This Balenciaga Towel Skirt Will Make You Look Like You Just Hopped Out Of The Shower

From the brand that brought us the Croc heel and the bin bag handbag comes a £695 towel skirt. Balenciaga unveiled (or, perhaps, unrobed) their latest viral moment: a grey terry cloth towel worn as a unisex, mid-rise, knee-length skirt. The piece comes from the label’s spring/summer 2024 collection, however it did not seem to appear on the runway during the Paris Fashion Week show and appeared online for the first time this week. While it is made of towel material, it is fitted with two buttons and an internal belt and comes in beige, black and stone grey. What apparently sets this look apart from every other bath towel is the embroidered Balenciaga logo on the front of the skirt, and – perplexingly – the fact that it’s dry clean only.

Unsurprisingly, the towel skirt inspired many strong opinions on social media. “Remember someone actually pitched this idea, managers agreed to it, someone manufactured it, someone made the marketing for it, someone uploaded it on the website, and still no one thought this is a bad idea,” one person wrote on X. “I can literally buy one that looks like that for $15 at Kmart,” another added. Others, however, seemed to be here for the controversial item. “Oh I will be buying,” one user commented, while another wrote, “How much is the Black Friday price? Asking for a friend.”

The eyebrow-raising skirt comes months after Balenciaga’s creative director Demna told Vogue that he was planning to turn away from gimmicky pieces and pare down the brand’s image. “It’s a serious job, you know, to make clothes. It’s not about creating image or buzz or any of those things,” he said in a February interview.

And this may not consciously be a gimmick at all. While plenty have created memes of this look already, Balenciaga is far from the first to present towels as a high fashion item. For spring/summer 2020, Prada, Fendi and Ludovic de Saint Sernin sent towel skirts down the runway, while Miu Miu and Acne Studios did it in 2017 and 2015, respectively. In 2018, Donatella Versace even revived a butterfly-printed terry cloth ensemble from Gianni Versace’s 1995 collection. Marc Jacobs made a sequined take on a towel dress that was featured in the February 1989 issue of American Vogue.

The intimacy of wearing only a towel has long been captured by photographers and models. Scores of past issues of Vogue have featured models in various stages of the getting-ready process. A 1954 image by John Rawlings features a model posed in a strapless one-piece swimsuit with a white terry-cloth towel wrapped around her head. And in 1967, Franco Rubartelli caught Veruschka with just an orange towel and a string of beads. Arthur Elgort has also photographed the likes of Linda Evangelista and Patti Hansen in various states of undress – post skinny-dip or fresh out of the shower.

While towels have largely been associated with women’s getting-ready routines, Balenciaga joins in the long tradition of towel dressing, making it a genderless experience. For anyone with £695 to spare, that is.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Balenciaga Is Chic And A Little Street With SS24 Campaign

It’s no secret that Balenciaga remains one of the foremost houses in contemporary fashion – continuously crafting its own universe of styles that blend chic, couture, street and everything in between. Now the Paris-based luxury house has revealed its new Spring/Summer 2024 campaign.

Shot in an elegant Parisian apartment, the new campaign reveals Balenciaga’s air of chic refinement alongside subtle street stylings. But what remains impressive about its design skillset is the ability to blend the two style codes in blissfully tasteful ways. The lineup of shots reveals pieces like sleekly strong-shouldered overcoats paired with thigh-high moto boots, exaggeratedly oversized denim, cacoon coats, an eye-catching crystal dress, knitted dresses and more.

The star of the show is Michelle Yeoh, who is Balenciaga’s newest house ambassador. “Wearing Balenciaga makes me value the artistry and craftsmanship behind every piece,” said Yeoh. Alongside Yeoh, the campaign sees brand ambassador PP Krit Amnuaydechkorn and Balenciaga’s friends Malgosia Bela, Arthur Del Beato, Eva Herzigova, Soo Joo Park, and Khadim Sock. Alongside ready-to-wear pieces, the campaign also reveals bags like the Le Cagole Sling, 24/7, Crush, Crush Sling and Monaco.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Davide Renne, The Creative Director Of Moschino, Is Dead At 46

Davide Renne, the newly-appointed creative director of Moschino and former longstanding stalwart of the Gucci design team, has died today in Milan. He was 46.

Renne’s death after a “sudden illness” was confirmed by Moschino today. In a statement issued by its owner Aeffe, executive chairman Massimo Ferretti paid tribute to Renne: “Even though he was only with us for a very short time, Davide was able to immediately make himself loved and respected… Our deepest sympathies go to his family and friends.”

It is only 10 days since Renne assumed his new role as creative director of Moschino. When the appointment was announced last month he had said: “I can’t wait to begin.”

Last month’s elevation of Renne to the lead design role at Moschino by Ferretti was widely celebrated in the city’s close-knit fashion community, where he was extremely well-regarded. Renne had been due to present his first collection for the house next February.

Anticipating that moment, Renne had considered the legacy of Franco Moschino in a personal statement last month. He wrote: “Franco taught us that fashion cannot be explained, can only be lived because it’s essentially, intimately, about life – about the world around us. This is, to me, the poetry of fashion. I see fashion as a dialogue where the creation of beauty happens. So, thank you Mr Ferretti and thank you house of Moschino for giving me the keys to your playroom.”

“We still can’t believe what happened,” said Mr Ferretti today.

Before his recruitment to Moschino, Renne was a pivotal member of the design team at Gucci. He joined the Kering-owned house in 2004, working under both Frida Giannini and Alessandro Michele. He rose to the position of head of womenswear design, and had overseen the autumn/winter 2023 collection presented this February between the tenures of Michele and Sabato De Sarno.

In the personal statement that accompanied his appointment to Moschino’s creative director position, Renne had described his professional progress, noting: “Fashion, like life, is about discovering ourselves.” He was born and raised in the seaside town of Follonica, Tuscany. “I realised in high school while studying at Liceo Scientifico that for some mysterious reason I kept drawing women’s clothes,” he wrote. Renne studied his vocation at the Polimoda fashion school in Florence, an educational experience which he said: “endowed me with a sense of absolute freedom, paving the way for a journey of creativity that, I soon discovered, became my life.”

After graduation he moved to Milan, where he worked for four years in the studio of Alessandro Dell’Acqua, who he described as “my first teacher and mentor in fashion.”

In 2003 Renne briefly worked at Ruffo Research, a label whose other alumni include Nicolas Ghesquière, Sophia Kokosalaki and Riccardo Tisci, before his recruitment to Gucci. He wrote: “There, I spent the past eight years with Alessandro Michele who taught me to dream bigger and pushed me further ahead, and helped me to make my dreams come true.” Davide Renne, fashion designer, born July 7 1977; died November 10 2023.