Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Nicolas Ghesquière Turns Photographer For Louis Vuitton

While we were all at home baking sourdough bread, Louis Vuitton’s Nicolas Ghesquière took up a new quarantine hobby: photography. The result is a fall Louis Vuitton campaign that brings the designer’s friends and muses in front of his lens. Léa Seydoux, Dina Asher Smith, Marina Foïs, Sora Choi, Akon Changkou, Stacy Martin, and Noémie Merlant have all posed for Ghesquière in LV’s time-traveling fall 2020 collection; the shoot location was at his home on the Quai Voltaire.

A cross-pollination of not just ideas but also of communities is central to Vuitton’s fall ’20 collection, which crisscrossed time to pair passementerie jackets with moto-trousers and skirts with mannish blazers. “I thought it would be interesting to extend my work to photography, to follow through to the end of the creative process and give the collection its final punctuation.” 

Ghesquière wrote in a release. “In this portrait gallery, everyone is there for my own personal reasons, and I liked discovering new connections with people I knew already.… For me, moving into photography came from a desire to reflect the feeling we share when we’re working on a collection.” Maybe the designer-photographer mash-up is the 2020s answer to the model-DJ multi-hyphenates of the 2010s? Pierpaolo Piccioli did something similar for Valentino’s resort look book. Who’s next?

Japanese Designer Kansai Yamamoto Has Died At 76

Kansai Yamamoto, the exuberant Japanese designer, died on July 21, 2020, of acute myeloid leukemia. He was 76. Yamamoto was born in Yokohama, in 1944, a year before his city was firebombed in the war. He studied civil engineering then dedicated himself to fashion, a commitment that was deeply personal. “Design is self-realization,” Yamamoto told Kuniko Miyanaga, author of the 1993 book The Creative Crackly Edge: Emerging Individualism in Japan.

The August 15, 1970, issue of Vogue includes a street style snap of the designer, in the States from Tokyo, giving “folks a nice turn, wearing his creamy snakeskin suit”—accessorized with teased hair, cowboy boots, and a bag half as big as his torso. “I felt every day I was the model in a fashion show and everyone around me were members of the audience,” Yamamoto said in a 2018 talk at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. “There were many times people looked at me weird.”

Self-expression through dress was the designer’s rebel yell; he was a proponent of fluid dressing, and on a deeper level, he rejected rigid societal norms. (No wonder civil engineering held no interest for him.) “I disliked and resisted square clothes whose quality was in their expensive material and good sewing,” Yamamoto told Miyanaga, revealing a hippie-ish countercultural streak. It makes sense, then, that in 1971 Yamamoto would choose to make his international debut in London, the city that had been the beating heart of the Youthquake, in a country where it was still possible to épater le bourgeois.

Today Yamamoto’s name is indelibly linked to that of David Bowie, who, as the gender-bending Ziggy Stardust, was wearing Yamamoto’s work before he met the designer. The two started collaborating in 1973. Among the better-known pieces Yamamoto made for the pop star are a glam-meets-Deco space samurai one-piece with circle legs, and a one-armed, one-legged multicolor Lurex-shot knit jumpsuit. The two men, said Yamamoto at the Brooklyn Museum talk, were united in their dedication to “radical appearance.”

One of the ways the designer pushed boundaries on the runways in the 1970s and 1980s was through exaggerated proportions. He made use of quilting to give dimensionality to his garments and delighted in color, once saying it was “like oxygen.” Some of his strongest work has a Pop-slash-glam rock look. Yamamoto liked to give a populist twist to imagery taken from Japanese art, particularly Kabuki theater—and those were the looks Nicolas Ghesquière revisited with their creator for Louis Vuitton’s 2018 resort collection.

Yamamoto’s involvement with projects like Kansai Super Show Hello! promoted positive cultural exchange, but there were also times when his work was insensitively appropriative, gimmicky, and seemed to trade on tired, stereotypical ideas of “otherness.” He did, however, pave the way onto the international scene for Japanese designers like Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto by showing in Paris as early as 1975, a few years after Issey Miyake. Even in photographs it’s apparent that Kansai Yamamoto was a man who pulsated with energy. He lent some of that to clothes that were bright, gaudy, tactile—and, for the most part, irrepressibly optimistic.

Missoni Home - Fashionising Joie De Vivre Filled Interiors

When Rosita Missoni handed over the reins of her world-famous fashion label to her daughter Angela in 1997, she had her sights set on looking after her grandchildren for a while. But only for a while. Why? Because this exuberant and lively lady simply can’t sit still. Today, aged 88, she’s the Artistic Director of Missoni Home, one of the first-ever Italian lifestyle brands to have grown from a fashion label. The adventure began in... 1997. In other words, just a handful of school runs into her false-start retirement. “It simply doesn’t feel like work” says the woman whose unbelievable get-up-and-go is universally admired. 

Missoni boasts a truly unmistakeable style. Multi-hued florals, graphic kaleidoscopes and zingy zigzags are all showcased by the brand’s now iconic knits. Those zigzags are no other than the herringbone motif that’s so well known not just in embroidering circles but amongst interior designers, too, being the design so often adopted for traditional parquet floors. That’s the fashion and lifestyle boxes both ticked. Rosita Missoni, née Jelmini, was born into a family of weavers in the northern Italian village of Golasecca in the Varese province. Her parents and their parents before them produced housecoats and bedspreads. Crossing paths with Ottavio Missoni, a handsome Italian athlete who was taking part in the 400m at the 1948 Olympic Games in London, proved to be decisive in shaping her destiny. As well as running at lightning speed, Ottavio was also an up-and-coming entrepreneur who had designed the Italian delegation’s uniform. They married and jointly founded a knitwear brand in 1953, which soon made it onto the radar of legendary fashion writer Anna Piaggi, before going on to become a firm favourite of none other than Diana Vreeland, star editor of American Vogue. Rosita and Ottavio crafted a legendary family empire with their own bare hands, focusing on the kind of Italian elegance embodied by the likes of Ferragamo, Versace and Prada. At Missoni, endless combinations of motifs and hues were rooted in joie de vivre, good times and fun. Not to mention art. 

Rosita’s decision to branch out into interiors certainly didn’t come about by pure chance. “She was one of the first to foresee a possible union between fashion and interiors” explains Patrice de Robillard, the brand’s French Sales Director. Just like fashion, “the home is a constantly evolving space of creativity”, Rosita can often be heard to say. An old hand at changing direction each time one prêt à porter collection made way for the next, she loved nothing more than giving her interiors a fresh new look each season. And for this well-seasoned traveller, no hotel stay was ever complete without flinging her throws over the chairs and adding her own finishing touches to the flowers. “I’ve always been passionate about interiors”, she says. It has to be said that life has given her the opportunity to enjoy some of the most stunning dwellings, including her 1930s apartment in Milan, her Parisian residence, and the family home in the Italian town of Sumirago, close to the Lombardian factory where it all began. 

The brand had already been producing a handful of rugs since back in the 1980s. But when Rosita decided the time was right to launch a full collection, she instantly turned to her brother, Alberto Jelmini, who had taken over the family firm T&J Vestor. What she was looking for was true technical expertise to create fabrics specifically for the home. Her homewares were set to mirror the fashion collections’ mix and match vibe, but what was needed, amongst other things, were fabrics that could withstand both wear-and-tear and ultra violet light. The designer delved deep into her own archives, proceeding to enlarge or adapt old sketches. She designed the perfect Missoni home as a colourful space packed with a profusion of artwork and a myriad of motifs. Large sociable tables were made roomy enough to seat children and grandchildren alike. 

Nature was invited into every space, notably through an abundance of all things floral. Clematis-like wild passion flower, the designer’s own favourite bloom, was singled out to play a starring role. The fusions of stripes, spots, flowers and colours for which Missoni was already so well-known were deftly transposed to rugs, sofas, cushions, poufs, curtains, loungers and bed linen, seeing Rosita sashay smoothly from the catwalks to the world’s biggest design fairs. Each January without fail, she makes a beeline for Maison&Objet. “The second our inaugural collections were ready, we booked a stand to exhibit at Maison&Objet”, comments de Robillard. “Milan is a very furniture-focused fair, where we exhibit because we produce furniture. But we simply couldn’t manage without Maison&Objet, which is the Mecca for interior design and the place where our collections are launched.”

Helmut Newton’s Controversial Career Spotlighted In New Documentary

Bowing today virtually, ”Helmut Newton: The Bad and the Beautiful” offers a behind-the-scenes view of the lensman at work, interspersed with commentary from many of the bold-faced names he worked with. Divisive in life, his photos and their respective back stories remain thought-provoking or repulsive, depending on the audience, more than 16 years after his death at the age of 83 following a car accident in Hollywood.

Insistent about his artistic freedom, Newton’s voluminous archives include images of a naked woman lying in the mouth of a crocodile, another half-stuffed in a garbage bag on a rocky beach, a raw butcher shop chicken wearing high heels loaned from the doll museum in Paris and a teenage Claudia Schiffer ignoring his temptation of a piece of candy. In the 90-minute documentary from Kino Lorber, Newton advises a naked model smoking a cigarette shadowed by the Marlboro Man billboard on the Sunset Strip, “There is a kindness to your look. That is the last thing I want.”

Isabella Rossellini, one of the high-profile Newton devotees featured in the film, said, “Whether you work with David Lynch or Helmut Newton, they’re not photographing you. They’re photographing an idea that is in their heads and you are the vehicle. So you have to make yourself available or say, ‘No.’”

More than anything, “The Bad and The Beautiful” strives to portray Newton as a free thinker who loved women (he says so in one clip) and controversy. In the documentary, Vogue’s Anna Wintour reads from a grateful fax sent by Newton after the aforementioned heel-clad chicken shoot. “‘Look forward to the readers’ letters.’ He lovvved to hear about the readers’ letters — the worse they were, the better. As Kaiser Wilhelm II said in 1914, ‘More enemies, more honor.’”

Thorough in his craft, despite his father’s belief that taking photos was a weekend hobby not a career, Newton apprenticed with the photographer Yva. He notes in the film how “the great master” photographer Brassai influenced his approach to lighting. Effort was essential to Newton, who quipped on location, “Everybody remembers a bad picture. No one remembers the pain that everybody went through to get a good picture.”

Love them or loathe them, Newton’s racy and debatable photos exist. The documentary’s director Gero von Boehm told WWD, “These pictures are there and nobody is forced to look at them. It’s very dangerous to have a dictatorship of taste. This I am really afraid of. This should not be. We are overly politically correct. I understand every viewpoint, but everything has to be visible. It’s very important that things are visible. And the freedom of art is important. That’s why those pictures should be there and be seen.”

Asked about a Newton-shot magazine cover of a naked Grace Jones with chains around her ankles and another dominatrix-inspired photo of Schiffer standing with a whip as a kneeling maid puts her head in an oven, von Boehm said, “Nobody would print that any more. It’s not politically correct, but it’s Helmut humor.…Grace Jones saw it more as a sexual fantasy [referring to her explanation in the documentary]. Now we see it differently. I swear to you this photo couldn’t be done today. At the time, there was freedom. People didn’t care very much about political correctness. The term didn’t even exist. We have to see them as historical pictures actually.”

Newton was a contradictory character, who was “the combination of a boy from Berlin and also a real gentleman from the Jewish bourgeoisie of the Weimar Republic,” von Boehm said. “At the same time, he was a big provocateur, an anarchist and a great artist. He didn’t want to be called an artist, by the way. He didn’t like the word. ‘I’m Helmut. I’m not an artist. What I’m doing is not art. I’m just taking pictures.’ That’s what he always said.”

In 1938 at the age of 18, Newton fled his hometown of Berlin and traveled to Asia and later to Australia. After starting his career in London, it really took off in Paris, thanks largely to French Vogue. Living between Monte Carlo and Los Angeles, Newton was “constantly working, working, working,“ the director said. “He was absolutely obsessed. This is a story for a film. It’s a bit Hollywood, but I prefer documentary to fiction. I shot a lot with him in his life. I always thought his pictures and his personality needed the big screen.”

Beyond the beautiful essays and intellectual, analytical texts by curators, gallerists and art collectors, there weren’t any statements about Newton by women, so the director set out to change that. Jones, Rossellini, Schiffer, Charlotte Rampling, Marianne Faithfull, Nadja Auermann and Carla Sozzani were among the Newton fans who obliged. Unlike his many critics — who included the late Susan Sontag, who has a testy exchange with him about misogyny in the film — these women enthuse about his work.

As for how his jarring imagery may be received, von Boehm said, “Most of his pictures have to be re-seen in the context of the time, when they were taken. The sexual liberation had just happened at the end of the Sixties. That was his big time. The naked body was no longer taboo. Also, everybody was waiting for a revolution in fashion photography. At this time, feminists were against this development. The sexual revolution and the revolution in fashion photography came together.”

Coming of age in Germany between the two World Wars, the plethora of Nazi imagery influenced Newton’s photography, said von Boehm, citing how he played with shadows and photographed women from below. Suggesting there is some truth to Rossellini’s claim that Newton photographed women similar to how Leni Riefenstahl pictured men, von Boehm said the two photographers were friendly at the end of their lives. “They wrote letters to each other. They met. He hated her and he admired her photography in a way.”

Newton’s camera was a source of protection at times, his wife and collaborator June said in the documentary. She recalled overhearing two nurses en route to a hospital operating room. “One nurse said to the other, ‘What does he think he is going to do with the camera?’ The other replied, ‘He thinks he’s going to take photographs of himself,’” and the pair roared with laughter. (Newton of course did.)

Newton could also be disarming about his own personal life and body of work. One clip captured him surveying the installation of a joint photography exhibition of images he and his wife took of each other. Concerned about exhibiting such intimate shots, including nudes, Karl Largerfeld cautioned Newton, “Are you sure, Helmut?” He was and in the end Lagerfeld liked it as well, said von Boehm, who made two films about the late fashion designer. “Karl and Helmut were very friendly. They had the same sense of humor, a little bit sarcastic at times,” he said.

Despite having become fast friends after meeting at a dinner party in Paris in 1997, Newton was not always the most willing documentary subject for the just-released film. “Photographers don’t like to be filmed, so he was biased about it,” von Boehm said goodnaturedly.

However complicated and controversial Newton’s photographs could be, he maintained a playfulness, as evidenced by the many snippets of the jaunty photographer on set, jesting with the models, dancing uninhibitedly and mugging for the filmmaker. Critics’ insistence that Newton was a misogynist was off base from von Boehme’s point of view. “They think he was simply a macho and that’s why he photographed women in those poses. No, it’s not true. He wanted us men, and also women, to know how strong women are.”

Auermman, for example, refused to be photographed nude and subsequently did not work with Newton for a year or two. In the film, she addressed images of her appearing to be disabled — in a wheelchair in one shot, with a prosthetic leg in another and struggling up a set of stairs with two canes and the assistance of two male assistants. She implied the photos were more about how stilettos immobilize women. Newton’s Vogue photograph of her outstretched on a bed embracing a stuffed swan (borrowed from a natural history museum) led to complaints of animal cruelty and promoting sex with animals. What they missed, the model said, was an homage to the mythological story “Leda and the Swan.”

Noting several times that Newton was not a womanizer or the epitome of macho, von Boehm said his work was more complicated than that. “Women in his photographs are often objects, which is totally banal, because everything in front of a lens becomes an object. Men, who are attracted to women then resent women, because they make them vulnerable. This is an interesting thought. The vulnerability of men towards women is absolutely intolerable. Then they say, ‘Go away. I’m afraid of you.’“

That ideology reveals a whole culture, according to von Boehm. “You can call it a macho culture. If Helmut partially represented that culture, why not? What’s wrong about that? It exists and thank God artists were able to express it,” he said.

What Does A Modern PR Agency Look Like?

In January, American boutique public relations agencies Black Frame and Siren PR both announced they were closing their doors. Siren PR’s founder Winnie Beattie said in a statement, "the industry has changed dramatically since we launched in 1999, and I am sorry to say we could no longer operate the way we once did.” Black Frame’s Brian Philips was more blunt, telling BoF he no longer wanted “to be a PR guy.”

Being a "PR guy" is hard these days. Brands and the agencies that represent them are increasingly at odds. The clients want their representatives to be strategic consultants, social media gurus and data analytics specialists, all while still scoring clippings in top-tier fashion magazines like it was 1999. At the same time, large brands are steering a bigger share of their marketing budgets in house, leaving outside agencies fighting over the scraps.

Brands still need plenty of outside help managing their image and reaching consumers. But the most in-demand public relations jobs would be unrecognisable to professionals in the field even a decade ago: analytics, influencer marketing and content creation are the areas PR executives see growing fastest this year, according to a survey by the International Communications Consultancy Organisation, a trade group.

I think the idea of PR as an overarching descriptor is no longer relevant.

PR firms are having to adapt fast as they’re asked to do more with less. Agencies that once worked primarily to funnel clients’ advertising campaigns to the world now aspire to create the messaging themselves. Some even invest in the brands they represent. Relationships and media placement still matter, but they’re just table stakes.

“I think the idea of PR as an overarching descriptor is no longer relevant,” Phillips said. “It acts as a catch-all for other types of services that are separate specialities in their own right … everything from copywriting, deals with talent, sponsorship development, events.”

Phillips’s Black Frame closed its doors for good at the end of February, as its founder has moved on to launch a “creative direction studio.” But what about agencies still in the game? Read on to find out how some firms are pioneering a path beyond traditional public relations.

Develop a specialty

In the past, many PR firms were generalists, deploying the same media strategies for a fashion client as they might a tech firm. Now, they’re rebranding as specialists, stocked with experts ready to help brands navigate unfamiliar territory.

BPCM, an agency launched in 1999 with fashion and beauty clients including Brock Collection and Shopbop, started a sustainability practice last year, and a cannabis and CBD division in January. The agency hired Lisa Gabor, a founding editor of InStyle, to help the new division’s clients develop luxury branding, and to find opportunities for existing clients to enter the cannabis space.

“Diversify and start taking a deeper dive into all the opportunities to touch a consumer with a story that your clients are telling,” said Vanessa von Bismarck, BPCM’s co-founder. “[If] you stick with just sending samples to magazines and churning out press releases … that kind of PR is not sustainable.”

No. 29 Communications bills itself as “a communications agency with a mission,” and co-founder Erin Allweiss said she screens potential clients by asking whether they can have a positive impact (the TED conferences, a No. 29 client, is one example). With consumer brands, Allweiss and her team evaluate the materials they use as well as supply chain practises, making sure sustainability claims are “scientifically rigorous.”

I don't want to offer a service that makes us the jack of all trades and the master of none.

By taking on like-minded clients, the firm finds ways to “cross-pollinate.” For example, No. 29 connected the eco-friendly sneaker brand Veja with children’s book illustrator Oliver Jeffers, whose picture book, "Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth," offers children an explainer on the physical world and how people occupy it. The two clients collaborated on a sneaker collection that sold out in 24 hours, Allweiss said.

Compiling the right client list is more important than growing the longest one.

“[PR firms] just chase growth or sign every … client they could possibly get their hands on, which is a really short term strategy,” said Jesse Derris, founder of the namesake communications firm, which represents direct-to-consumer brands like Glossier and Everlane. “You need to be able to say ‘no’ to companies ... it's quality brands that are going to get your calls returned.”

Don’t be just a middleman

Few public relations executives will say outright that a credit in Vogue or a feature in The New York Times is irrelevant. The ICCO survey found the most common client requests are still for media clippings, and the right mention in the right publication can provide an instant sales bump.

But big media mentions won’t sustain an agency anymore. There are fewer big-name print publications, and with PR professionals outnumbering journalists six to one, press releases tend to get lost in an inbox black hole. Online, it’s Google and Facebook, rather than Condé Nast or Hearst, that dominate advertising budgets. And brands can always reach potential customers directly on social media.

The goal is to add value, rather than merely acting as the conduit passing along new products or advertising campaigns. Many PR firms now offer brand consulting services or have their own creative teams to develop advertising campaigns.

At Krupp Group, founder Cindy Krupp has built out a team of experts across services — including VIP and celebrity dressing, events, consulting and digital strategy — who present a unified strategy to clients, rather than one focused solely on media communications.

It's about how they are sharing the content that's created at an event to the world.

“When I was in the beginning of my career, there was a PR department and marketing department and an advertising department and they had nothing to do with each other,” said Krupp, who founded her agency in 2005. “There was zero crossover. And now those things are all morphed.”

Coyne PR, whose clients include Timberland, Longines and Lane Bryant, earned recognition at the 2019 Brand Film Festival for a Hilton commercial it produced with advertising firm BBDO. The Praytell agency, a hybrid PR-social firm, also has a film production studio that produces documentary and commercial films for its clients.

Agencies are moving quickly to embrace new forms of communication. Krupp launched an influencer marketing group called 28Row, which focuses on nano-influencer talent on college campuses.

To be sure, it takes significant resources to pull off this transition. Black Frame created well-regarded commercials for clients, including a Kenzo World fragrance ad directed by Spike Jonze and starring Margaret Qualley.

“I’m a bit dubious about the future of jack-of-all-trades agencies unless they are really large agencies with dedicated divisions to distinct business units for the various business needs that get grouped under PR,” Phillips said. “Smaller PR shops need to be quite focused on a narrower array of services that they do better than anyone else to thrive.”

Fashion PR powerhouse KCD in 2018 began expanding its events service, long focused on fashion shows and brand activations, including headline-making events like Apple conferences. More recently, KCD managed the front of house coordination for the opening of Manhattan’s Hudson Yards retail development, which hosted nearly 15,000 people.

Awards shows in particular — like The Tony Awards, which KCD has helped coordinate since 2015 — create the opportunity for KCD to have 360-degree control over an event; while a traditional PR firm might dress a celebrity for an event or send a publicist to a red carpet to facilitate press interviews, KCD’s reach now extends to consulting on the flow and feel of the red carpet, which media players gain access and how guests and celebrities arrive. In addition, over half of KCD’s PR event work globally comes from non-retainer based clients, said KCD partner and managing director Rachna Shah.

“The press value and the social value of doing an event has become greater and greater because of the fact that it's not any longer about just the people in the room,” Shah said. “It's about how they are sharing the content that's created at an event to the world.”

Follow the money

Some full-service agencies are going a step further and taking stakes in their clients.

The model was pioneered by Derris, who was an early investor in Warby Parker. His agency’s venture fund, Amity Supply, launched in 2017 and has taken equity stakes in, or helped secure pre-seed funding for, roughly 60 companies.

The biggest issue PR has always had is the ROI.

BPCM’s von Bismarck, who started her career in finance, launched Aligned Endeavors, the firm’s venture capital arm, in late 2019. The division invests in the brands it works with, creating incentives for both sides to work together and raising the potential rewards for the PR firm.

“The biggest issue PR has always had is the ROI,” von Bismarck said. “If I am an equity partner, I’m more likely to get insight into their actual sales figures, into their traffic to their website, whatever it may be.”

Find partners

For boutique and mid-size PR firms, scaling up may not make as much sense as finding the right strategic partners.

In Europe and the UK, for example, clients still expect a personal approach to PR, and networks and relationships may be more compelling than data. Lucien Pagès Communications, which operates as a traditional PR firm, specialises in facilitating big-name introductions. The firm opened a New York office in December 2018, but keeps its operation small.

“In New York, I feel our human approach works very well, and people are very receptive to it,” Pagès said, adding that the team often shares clients with American PR firms looking for a partner in Europe.

Derris acquired the London PR agency Sample in 2019, in part because Sample had strong relationships in the UK that would have taken years to build without an acquisition, Derris said. He added that the deal’s success has him looking at other European markets for future acquisitions.

Be realistic

While there’s certainly an arms race-style acceleration in PR to becoming, as Derris puts it, a “one-stop-shop” for all of a brand’s business needs, it’s just as important to take a careful look at where your expertise actually lies.

“I definitely feel like there are aspects of the full scope of communications like branding and performance marketing that we don't do,” said Krupp. “I don't want to offer a service that makes us the jack of all trades and the master of none.”

‘Fashion Is An Important Testimonial Of Our Time’: Stefano Pilati Debuts A New Film And Collection

Many of the films created as a part of Europe’s digital fashion weeks have been beautiful and personal, but few have done it better than Stefano Pilati, who debuts an off-schedule production, “Domestic (Between Wars), today. For the film for his brand Random Identities, Pilati enlisted performance artist M.J. Harper, director Konstantin Bock, and cinematographer Christopher Aounto to craft a meditative portrait of his clothing from current and past seasons, shot in his home in Berlin. “The narrative ... is evidently a reference to old haute couture shows formats: intimate and exclusive,” Pilati told Vogue over email. “Parodying it by mixing elements of diatonic harmony was what I found intriguing to pursue.”

With new music by Isola Music and saxophonist Mat Clasen, the film weaves together a calming narrative of personal style embodied by Harper’s intentional and delicate movement. The clothing is a best-of from Pilati’s Random Identities oeuvre, a brand radical in its thoughtful design and accessible price point. “From pattern cutting to styling, I’ve chosen the looks by their actual functionality from day-to-evening; a concept that can be updated to home-office-wear, which is revealed also in the choice of very light fabrics or almost no-accessories combinations,” the designer said, noting that most of the collection is made from jersey. “I think to insist on proposing beautiful sleeves on uppers as well as some sheerness and/or some beachwear combined with bottoms rich in fluidity and vibrancy could very well represent the mood I am in right now: to feel safe, chic, understated yet present, minimal, and expressive.”

The brand’s “Berlin baggies”—a blouson take on workwear trousers—appear throughout, as do new “club nostalgia” looks, as Pilati calls them, that harken back to a time when going out and getting capital-D dressed was the norm. “The tailoring, dear to me, I’ve avoided ... nevertheless, silhouettes to me have equal ‘uniform-authoritarian’ formality,” he says. “I find the result particularly chic: a word opposite of cool, which in my case I find obvious to make them co-exist.”

Here, Pilati discusses his new film and outlook on fashion.

Random Identities has existed mostly on its own schedule; why did you want to release a video project this summer adjacent to some of the Digital Fashion Weeks?

It was simply coincidental. Unfortunately, but fortunately in my case, some of the clothes represented in the film are from old productions partially on sale right now, some [are] new arrivals, and some [are] atelier-first-prototype pieces for future releases. The latter have been combined with some of our best-selling items for style and also to maintain “past and future” naturally balanced in the overall choice of looks. Therefore, I have discovered an interest in letting the process end in a so-called “ideal calendar” timing ... when the timing is right for me and for the brand.

Although, a fashion schedule (in a digital moment, if not an era) still seems like a constriction to have to put energy towards [it] simply to be “different” in establishing new formats.

How did you meet the many collaborators on this project? Why did you want to work with them?

Berlin is a city of crossing paths and souls, I’ll state. Part of its charm is being able to appreciate encounters between people more than “role-keepers” and work-related interests. Exchanges are created to support synergic passions and the legitimate freedom to express them. The remaining space is left to individual taste and ethic. I wanted to work with them because their skill is phenomenal and culturally aligned with my aesthetic.

How has your relationship to design or making clothing changed over the past couple of months? Are you finding that clothing has a renewed purpose (or uselessness) in life?

I questioned and still question the role of the fashion system at large, the concept of fashion and its role in society, including the meaning of it. The symbolic aspect of fashion is what I cannot help to abandon (despite the inevitable feeling of pressure from an irrational load of skepticism and hopelessness which tries to desensitize us from the importance of beauty all while trying to appear positively grounded in the simple habit of “dressing up”). I still believe fashion is an important testimonial of our time.

These are the reasons I actively started to aim at developing Random Identities’s brand strategy. Old systemic mechanisms should change as in politics and economics: inevitably, creatively, or strategically. The pandemic is something that caught me off-guard personally, but not professionally.

What do you want this video to communicate to your clients and fans?

I always start a brand project or design confident that I will reach a certain number of people that have the good taste to appreciate and understand the brand, my style, my work. I prefer, instead, to focus the research for quality in documenting my work well and to share my vision on beauty, fashion as a societal vehicle and, ultimately to please any eventual audience, for which I am always grateful.

What have you learned or gotten better at during the period of self-isolation? What has this experience taught you?

I wouldn’t have any form of self-esteem left if I hadn’t practiced a certain personal questioning and introspective observation way before the pandemic’s lock-down. It is an important process which instills the vital principles of how I conduct my own navigation through these hard times. Facing our relevance and role in society shouldn’t be an individual issue to address in an emergency. Facts and information are there for everyone to process for the good, even when facing a reality that we never expected to be. I did slightly increase my activity on social media though.

The Nominees For The 2020 CFDA Awards Are Revealed

The Council of Fashion Designers of America (more commonly known as the CFDA) has today revealed the nominees for the 2020 CFDA Fashion Awards. For the first time, this year’s awards won’t have any honoree awards, however two new international awards have been introduced. The awards were scheduled to be held on June 8, however due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was postponed indefinitely. Now, the CFDA has confirmed the event will go ahead virtually on September 14 instead – marking the official start of New York Fashion Week. 

Speaking of the shift, Steven Kolb, president and CEO of the organization, said, “In lieu of the in-person event, we will be prioritizing new and existing programming to support our designer community during the global pandemic – by redirecting efforts toward next generation scholarships and making important changes to bring racial equity to the fashion industry. The annual gala serves as our largest fundraiser and our hope is to continue raising money to support this work through industry contributions.”

Discover the 2020 CFDA Awards nominees below:

American Womenswear Designer of the Year

Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen for The Row
Brandon Maxwell
Gabriela Hearst
Marc Jacobs
Tom Ford

American Menswear Designer of the Year

Emily Adams Bode for Bode
Kerby Jean-Raymond for Pyer Moss
Thom Browne
Todd Snyder
Tom Ford

American Accessories Designer of the Year

Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen for The Row
Gabriela Hearst
Jennifer Fisher for Jennifer Fisher Jewelry
Stuart Vevers for Coach
Telfar Clemens for Telfar

American Emerging Designer of the Year

Christoper John Rogers
Kenneth Nicolson
Peter Do
Reese Cooper
Sarah Staudinger and George Augusto for Staud

Global Womenswear Designer of the Year

Daniel Lee for Bottega Veneta
Dries Van Noten
Miuccia Prada
Pierpaolo Piccioli for Valentino
Rick Owens

Global Menswear Designer of the Year

Craig Green
Dries Van Noten
Jonathan Anderson for Loewe
Kim Jones for Dior
Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton

Catch all the action live on CFDA.com on September 14th.