Monday, March 1, 2021

What Can We Expect From The New Azzedine Alaia?

More than a mere fashion designer, Azzedine Alaïa sculpted the body in ways that rivaled the work of Rodin and Michaelangelo. The designer arguably invented the body-con silhouette, highlighting the curves and flares of the body while challenging notions of femininity. Alaïa was an innovator, someone who constantly toyed with ideas of beauty and also the fashion industry in general - he was one of the first designers to flout the traditional fashion week schedule. And with notoriously close relationships with supermodels such as Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, and Stephanie Seymour, Alaïa became the go-to for ‘80s glamour and chicness.

In typical defiant Alaïa fashion, the designer announced that he would be retiring from the fashion calendar all together in 1992. Though the house never closed, it has not reached the same level of notoriety it once attained. The brand's most recent collections have been stealthily strong - both a nod to the house's DNA and a look to the future. Operating solely in look book format, the house has produced soild collections but has failed to resonate within the wider industry. The designer’s tragic passing in 2017 left the fashion industry in mourning and the fate of the boundary-breaking house up in the air. Would the house be shuttered permanently or would it see a vibrant revitalization à la Casey Cadwallader at Mugler?

It seems as though the answer to the question is the latter. Almost three years after Alaïa’s passing, Mulier’s appointment is destined to shake up the house and the wider fashion industry. With an architecture background like so many of today’s biggest designers, Mulier will most certainly continue the sleek and sexy Alaïa we have come to know and love.

Though not much is known about Mulier’s personal aesthetic, if his work with Raf Simons is any inkling into his performance at Alaïa, we are in for a treat. Known as Simons’ “Right Hand Man,” Mulier has traveled with the designer to and from his various high-profile stints at Jil Sander, Dior, and Calvin Klein where Simons curated his now notorious cult following. Simons' emphasis on tailoring and structure are a perfect fit for Mulier to transfer to his new appointment. As director of accessories at Jil Sander and design director at Dior, Mulier is a well-versed veteran poised to debut a strong collection - expect a lot of tailoring, style lines, and of course, body-con.

Prior to the announcement, the brand made head-waves through the wardrobe of musical powerhouse Normani. In the explosive song that was "WAP", Normani wore a black and white houndstooth ensemble with a coordinating beret, gloves, and heels. The matching outfit bore striking resemblance to the designer’s 1991 Tati Collection - a mix of body conscious check and gingham pieces.

Another modern patron of the house is none other than Kim Kardashian. The mogul has worn Alaïa on several occasions, most notably the full leopard ensemble from Fall/Winter 1991. Kardashian is naturally an Alaïa girl - the designer’s animalesque creation perfectly molded to the star's body and shows just how timeless an Alaïa piece is.

Though it is impossible to know exactly what Mulier will bring to the famed house, we are certainly excited about its prospects. If the brand’s work with the aforementioned stars are any indicator, the new Alaïa will combine its notorious streamlined aesthetic with modern trends and movements like body positivity and cultural representation. Mulier’s streamlined background combined with Alaïa house codes are sure to be a match made in heaven.

In a statement to the press, Mulier stated "Always ahead of his time and open to all arts and cultures, Azzedine Alaïa’s powerful vision has served as an inspiration, as he always sought to give the necessary time to innovative and enduring creation.” Mulier undoubtedly has huge shoes to fill, but his architecture prowess and fashion prowess are certainly set to create magic. And let’s be real...who doesn't look amazing in an immaculately cut Alaïa dress?

Emma Corrin’s Custom Miu Miu Gown For The Golden Globes Is Inspired By A Pierrot Clown

This year’s Golden Globes will mark Emma Corrin’s first major awards ceremony – a surreal experience under normal circumstances, but one that’s hard to even process 5,000 miles away from the Beverly Hilton. “It’s difficult to believe it’s actually happening,” the star of The Crown’s fourth season tells British Vogue over the phone from her mansion flat in north London. “I’m hoping that it will hit me at some point. For the moment I’ve been banned from the living room by my four housemates, who are getting it ready for tonight, as if it were my birthday or an engagement party, and I’ve sent my cockapoo Spencer to my parents’ house, in case he gets overwhelmed by it all. I feel incredibly lucky, but I do wish I could be with the cast as well.”

By the cast, of course, she means her Netflix co-stars: Oscar winner Olivia Colman, her newfound mentor Helena Bonham Carter, national treasure Gillian Anderson, and her close friend Josh O’Connor – all of whom are nominated at the Globes for their performances as Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret, Margaret Thatcher, and Prince Charles, respectively. She will, however, be Zooming with O’Connor – whom she generously credits with the success of her performance as Diana, Princess of Wales – throughout the night.

And while Corrin may be celebrating her nomination – and predicted win – at home, she’s dressed for a celebrity red carpet courtesy of Miu Miu. “Lamby and I actually sent in some reference pictures,” she says, using the nickname for her friend and stylist, who is best known for his work with Harry Styles. “It probably sounds a little bit crazy, but we were inspired by Pierrot clowns, with their giant ruffs and androgynous silhouettes.”

For those not familiar with the cultural trope, the Pierrot character originated in 17th-century Paris as part of the so-called Comédie Italienne troup, and has served as an aesthetic reference for everyone from David Bowie to Lady Gaga through the years. As for Corrin’s make-up for the virtual ceremony? The actor is recreating the dramatic lashes in a 1966 portrait of Twiggy taken by Barry Lategan with a single tear drawn on in eyeliner – a slightly less dramatic take on the heavy paint normally associated with Pierrot.

And while Corrin is thrilled about her nomination at the Globes, she’s already looking ahead to her next project: an adaptation of Bethan Roberts’s 2012 novel, My Policeman, with Styles. “We’re due to begin shooting in early April,” she explains. “I’m currently doing a lot of preparation, reading the script again and again. It’s funny, because Diana is not only a real person, but an incredibly famous one, so I did so much highly specific research for the part. Now, I’m back to playing someone fictional, and it’s like – how do I do my job again?! It’s strange not having a biography to turn to, but actually it’s a lot of fun. I’ve done a sort of moodboard for my character, and I’m really excited about working with Harry, because we’re so close.”

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Photographer Releases 'Ken Doll' Photo Series Depicting Modern Life For Gay Men

One New Jersey-based photographer has unveiled a photo series reimagining the Ken doll as various modern-day gay stereotypes, including a beauty blogger, a drag queen, and a Disney prince.

Taking inspiration not only from Ken dolls but also the face-smoothing filters that people are so obsessed with currently, the subjects featured within the project have their skin smoothed over to give a plastic effect and, much like the real dolls, even have their nipples removed. Completing the look, each model has black lines around his neck and arms, signifying where the plastic dolls would have their limbs constructed.

Speaking on the project, photographer Courtney Charles said: "With the 'Ken' series, I hope to show that there isn’t just one common ideal of the modern man. Regardless of who you are, you can still be the 'plastic-perfect' version of yourself."

Unlike the original dolls, Charles’ series features models of all races and builds. It’s simply part of his aim to break down stereotypes and illustrate how fluid ideologies of men continues to be in 2018: “Much of my work strives to shift people’s perceptions of gender, sexuality, and social norms by showing that being different is beautiful."

Charles is hosting a live Ken event in New York City this Saturday, entitled "The Modern Ken" and featuring a cast of life-size Ken doll models. The event is in conjunction with Christos Bakalexis, founder of Match Bak Entertainment, who serves as executive producer of the occasion.

LVMH-Backed Private Equity Firm Buys Birkenstock

After news of a potential takeover emerged earlier this year, Birkenstock has found a new owner. The previously family-owned business has been bought by L Catterton, a private equity firm backed by Bernard Arnault and LVMH (PARIS:MC.PA -1.13%) . The deal is believed to be worth around €4 billion EUR (approximately $4.8 billion USD) and will see owners Christian and Alex Birkenstock maintain a minority stake.

L Catterton — which was formed when LVMH and the Arnault family holding company partnered with Catterton in 2016 — will own the company alongside Financière Agache, Arnault’s family office. Previously L Catterton had invested in a wide range of companies such as Everlane and Peloton.

Announcing the deal, Birkenstock Chief Executive Oliver Reichert described L Catterton and Financière Agache as “not just shareholders, but also partners for achieving our global growth ambitions. They have a great deal of knowhow and excellent access to international markets.” L Catterton will pursue new growth for Birkenstock, including expansion in China and India, and a new focus on ecommerce and direct-to-consumer sales. Birkenstock is believed to have recorded a record year in 2020, partly bolstered by its footwear becoming the work from home shoes of choice.

Bruno Mars’s First Clothing Line Channels His Alter Ego

Bruno Mars—who once famously sang, “Got Chucks on with Saint Laurent”—says fashion brands have been knocking on his door to collaborate for years. But it’s Lacoste creative director Louise Trotter who finally broke him down and sealed the deal. “Louise called me and begged me,” jokes Mars, adding that he was actually a big fan of Lacoste growing up. “Going to school, if you had that crocodile on your chest, that meant something,” he says. When Lacoste said Mars could design whatever he wanted, he was instantly on board. His new line debuts March 5.

When the singer sat down to actually work on the collaboration about a year ago, Mars began adopting an alter ego to help him think like a designer. He dreamed up Ricky Regal, an extremely fashion-forward man with an eye for design. The line, titled Lacoste x Ricky Regal, now serves as a representation of what Mars thinks this elevated version of himself would wear. “It’s been great to get to know both Bruno and Ricky; I don’t know who I know better actually,” says Trotter, while Mars adds, “I wanted it to feel like, whoever that person is wearing it, they’re the coolest guy at the party. They’re not trying too hard. It just flows and feels right.”

Mars recalls beginning the design process. He got the Lacoste creative team together for a formal PowerPoint presentation. “I couldn’t find a laser pointer, so I used a drumstick and pointed to the different colors and shapes [that I wanted to use],” he says. “At the end of the PowerPoint there was a picture of a big explosion with the caption ‘World domination.’”

That resulted in a collection of ready-to-wear, footwear, and accessories that nods to the ’70s but has a decidedly more dressy, modern feel. Of course, it being Lacoste, there’s a heavy dose of sportswear influences too, including striped tracksuits and groovy camp-collar shirts with exaggerated collars. “I wanted collars down to my elbows,” says Mars. “There’s something magnificent and powerful about a collar being big. It gives confidence to whomever’s wearing it; it feels like a cape.” Lacoste’s classic tees and polo shirts, bearing the iconic crocodile logo, are also present. “The crocodile brought a sense of sport heritage to it,” says Trotter. Prices range from $90 for tees to $280 for the patterned zip-up jackets.

Given that this was Mars’s first time designing, Trotter says she was overall surprised by his knowledge of fit and eye for details. “I’d sometimes have my husband take our children for ice cream, so they didn’t see [Bruno] on the screen and tell all their friends,” she recalls. “Bruno is obsessive. He had a clear vision, and he knew instinctively if something wasn’t right.”

In the campaign Mars can be seen wearing the ’70s-inspired pieces along with sleazy-chic items like aviator sunglasses, which he also designed. Mars enlisted friend and singer-songwriter Anderson Paak to model along with him. “He and I have been quietly working on a project together,” Mars teases on the music front.

In fact Mars found that the design process wasn’t all that different from writing music. “When I’m writing a song, it’s about the emotion: What do I want people to feel?” he says. “I approach clothing that same way: How do I want to feel when I put on that jacket?” He wants people to experience life as Ricky Regal—like they’re “levitating when they walk into someplace—a grocery store or a party.”

Fred Segal, Famed L.A. Retailer, Dies

Fred Segal, who’s name is well known from the red, white and blue lettered sign of the famous ivy-covered Los Angeles store he founded, died on Thursday. He was 87.

The cause was complications from a stroke, according to a representative of the brand. He is survived by a large family, including his wife, five children, ten grandchildren and even two great-grandchildren. Many of them are also tastemakers, who have been involved in the retail and fashion business over the years, including Michael Segal, Nina Segal, Sharon Segal and Annie Segal.

“To the very end, he inspired us to never give up. He will be forever loved and celebrated,” a statement from the family reads. “He was a true artist who dedicated his life to evolving as a human being in every aspect. He challenged us to expand our minds and our hearts, to go deeper and to do better. He was an innovator, a forward thinker, a rule breaker, a mentor to so many, such a lover of life and a humanitarian. Anyone who knew him, felt his powerful energy. He worked his whole life to have self love and to teach all of us to love one another.”

Born in 1933, Segal in 1961 opened his eponymous store on Santa Monica Boulevard in L.A.’s West Hollywood, in a 300 square-foot space with an inventory of almost entirely denim. The jeans sold for the then unheard of price of $19.95, making him the first to to market premium denim. His “jeans bar,” as he called it, was a revolutionary concept for the time. As the store grew in popularity, so did the size; Segal eventually moved to Crescent Heights and Melrose Avenue, and started asking employees to manage their own spaces inside the store as it expanded, leading him to pioneer the “shop-in-shop” style of retail.

“I loved that man. He was a true original,” said retail developer Rick Caruso, who met and became friends with Segal 25 years ago. “I most admired him for his instinct and ability to innovate, but he was also kindness personified. He was truly the first disruptor in the retail business and he dared to break every rule and in doing so created an energy that became the best shopping experience of its time.”

“He had the vision as a landlord to move from Santa Monica to Melrose, and to start buying up homes to add another shop and another to create the center,” said John Eshaya, who worked at the Melrose center from 1984 to 2008. “There were no stores in the neighborhood at that time, but eventually, Miu Miu and RRL opened nearby, then Marc Jacobs further down the street. He also opened in Malibu Country Mart, the first to bring fashion retail to Malibu.” A number of influential retailers had stores in Fred Segal on Melrose, which became the epicenter of L.A. cool, including Ron Herman and Ron Robinson.

“His whole thing was to get young people to open their own stores. He didn’t go after huge chains,” said Eshaya, who was the women’s creative director for Ron Herman. “He knew and gave opportunity to young retail entrepreneurs.”

The buyers at the stores in Fred Segal helped cultivate the L.A. look, discovering early on local-turned-global fashion and beauty brands Hard Candy, Earl Jeans, Guess Jeans, Jeremy Scott, Trina Turk and Juicy Couture, which sat beside European luxury labels such as Dolce & Gabbana and Prada.

Many people who worked at the stores went on to become designers themselves, among them Pamela Skaist-Levy (Juicy Couture), Nina Garduno (Free City), Jeannine Braden (Le Superbe) and Eshaya (JET Clothing) giving Segal the distinction of being a kind of godfather of L.A. fashion.

“Fred really helped give respect to L.A. We weren’t on the fashion radar, but he opened up a space for L.A. designers and creatives. People started admitting they were from L.A.,” said Braden, who ran the Fred Segal Flair store in Santa Monica from 1992 to 2009.

Fred Segal Melrose was a global stop for cool spotters from Anna Sui to Jenna Lyons. Its restaurant, Mauro’s, was a place to see and be seen for Hollywood celebs including Leonardo DiCaprio, Diana Ross, Jennifer Aniston and Tobey Maguire.

“He would always call the store a daytime nightclub,” said his daughter Sharon Segal, who started working at the Melrose store at age 13, and with her sister Nina now has her own boutique in Westlake Village.

The name Fred Segal became synonymous with L.A. style, name-checked in shows and films such as “Entourage,” “Clueless,” “Legally Blonde” and “Less Than Zero,” and the de-facto wardrobe department for “Melrose Place” and “Friends,” exporting the L.A. casual look through pop culture.

Segal opened a second center on the site of a former skating rink in Santa Monica in 1985, and had an outpost in Malibu. They were all popular with locals and celebrities through the 2000s, and paparazzi would wait outside.

“When I was working at Fred Segal Santa Monica, I remember the biggest commotion one day when Britney Spears mother called to warn us they were coming in,” said Sharon. “This was when Britney first started dating Kevin Federline and the helicopters were for her.”

The centers became prime examples of lifestyle retailing, featuring luxury European fashion, contemporary brands, home decor, beauty, a skate shop, eyewear shop, men’s, children’s wear and sneakers under one roof. Going to Fred Segal became a pilgrimage for out-of-towners to see what cool new California surf line Ron Herman had hanging next to Junya Watanabe.

“We had a place called Bright Child in Santa Monica, with an indoor playground and mommy-and-me classes, and everyone used to bring their kids there–Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver–these people were coming in and hanging out on a weekly basis,” said Sharon. “Fred tried to create an experience.”

“He was bold, innovative and ahead of his time and if we study what he did back then, I know we will keep learning how to connect to our consumers today,” Caruso added. “It was an honor to know him and I’m so grateful to have learned so much from him.”

Segal worked in retail most of his life, and always enjoyed walking the floor, where he was a stickler about what kind of music was playing, and making sure sales associates were not chewing gum or leaning on the counters.

“We all had to operate in a similar manner, and sometimes people didn’t even know the stores were separately owned,” said Braden. “It felt less corporate and more family. We operated in an indie, intuitive and alternative way.”

After graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles, Segal started working in the apparel business in the now-defunct HIS Sportswear and rose to be a sales manager. But by the early 1960s, he had his own ideas, like a fashion-driven jeans line that would pull more than the $3 going rate for a pair at the time. “I called my boss who was in New York,” Segal told WWD in an earlier interview. “It’s midnight there and he got so mad, he said, ‘Go do it yourself.’ So I did.”

“Denim was his first love, his first excitement, going way back to the 1950s when he was traveling salesman,” said Sharon, explaining that he introduced styles in leather, velvet, and with flared legs, and relished discovering new brands including Chemin de Fer, A. Smile and Brittania. After making his fortune in denim and real estate, Segal hobnobbed with celebrities and influential figures, including hosting the Dalai Lama when he visited L.A. in 1989.

“You’d be sitting in your store, and he’d come through with a group of Buddhist monks on a tour. Fred was on a spiritual path before everyone,” said Braden, pointing out that the mantra, “Look See Feel Be Love All” was on Fred Segal shopping bags, and that later in life, the retailer became a peace activist, opening a Peace Park in Malibu. (He also had plans for a “green” marketplace in the early 1990s, before sustainability had become the topic in fashion it is today.)

Segal and his family maintained ownership of the brand’s intellectual property until 2012, when he sold the licensing rights and all intellectual property to Sandow Media. But the physical store on Melrose Ave. that started it all was sold in 2000 to Bud Brown, Segal’s longtime insurance broker. When Fred Segal in 2017 moved from the Melrose location to a new flagship on Sunset Blvd., the ownership of the physical store and the classic Fred Segal signage outside caused a protracted legal fight over it.

Although Sandow said upon its purchase of the Fred Segal IP that it was making a long-term commitment to the brand, it did not last. Licensing company Global Icons took over ownership of the brand in 2019. The company has since closed several international Fred Segal locations, but is set to open a new flagship in Las Vegas.

Jeff Lotman, the current chief executive officer and owner of Fred Segal said this of the brand’s legacy: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of our founder and original curator of cool, Fred Segal, who created a retail scene that continues to be the heart of LA pop culture…His forward-thinking concept continues to discover and support up-and-coming designers,” Lotman said. “We’ll continue to honor Fred’s legacy by always offering an unparalleled retail experience, searching out new brands, bringing LA style and culture to people around the world, and loving one another.” According to the family, Segal did not want a funeral. Instead, there are plans for a future celebration.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

“I Predict A Resurgence Of Dressing Up”: Giorgio Armani On His AW21 Collection & Fashion After Lockdown

This week marks a year since Giorgio Armani became the first designer to cancel attendance for a fashion show amid the pandemic. After our lives in lockdown, Armani – ever the realist – proposed an autumn/winter 2021 collection tempered to a cautious return to reality. Practical and elegant in nature, the garments were invigorated by a bright green gorilla statue Armani said was there simply to delight. He echoed that sentiment in surprising details scattered around the collection, lifting our post-pandemic mood. For as he told British Vogue’s fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen, our appetite for dressing up needs that boost of energy.

If the vaccines work, this collection will be in stores when we return to ‘normal’ life. Was this something you considered?

I certainly designed this collection with better times in mind. I think this moment calls for kindness, and perhaps even a touch of romance. This is an element that is merely hinted at, captured by the detail of a small ruche on the collar, by light flashes of crystals on a surface, or by delicate and surprising colours. This is a collection that is gracefully reassuring.

What was your intention with the men’s leopard jacket and the kimonos, as well as the women’s ruffled ponchos?

Fashion is surprise, isn’t it? I want to surprise, and this is why I added such pieces. Fashion should also be a boost of energy and irony.

One of the evening dresses is adorned with your own portrait in crystals. What motivated this?

Again, this is an ironic wink. The T-shirts with my portrait by Bob Krieger sell so well at the Silos, and there was a famous dress emblazoned with my face a few years ago in a collection. The public responds well to me being on the dresses, and I do not mind that. Please forgive this whim.
How do you think the pandemic and its lockdowns will have impacted the way we will dress and shop once we return to real life?

We have been living through a period of strange disruption, and our habits of dressing have been impacted by the requirement to stay at home. And though we may have started to value comfort and ease more and more in our outfits, this has somehow worked in my favour, as comfort is something I have always seen as paramount to the success of my work. If you feel comfortable in your clothes, you feel confident.

Will the comfort-wear of a year in lockdown prevail?

The dressing-down trend will have done nothing to dent our desire to look good and our craving for beauty and elegance. And do not forget, you can still be elegant even if you are dressing in a more casual and relaxed way. However, I do predict that when we are allowed to pursue our lives in a more normal way, there will be a resurgence of dressing-up as people socialise again. And in this context, elegance never goes out of style.

At this stage, how do you feel about digital shows?

No event can be compared to a fashion show, an instrument that we cannot do without in terms of format, energy, effectiveness. We will certainly have to rethink the format of fashion shows and fashion weeks, by looking at smaller, more intimate groups only for professionals and using the digital formula to reach a wider audience. But I don’t think the solution is to rely entirely on digital. It can be done in an emergency, but buyers and the press must be able to see the clothes up close, touch them.

What is the future of fashion week?

In addition, the fashion week is a fundamental social moment for the industry: we get together for the shows but also to discuss. It is an extremely important moment and, albeit virtual, is a web that includes both established and smaller brands, and it offers everyone the opportunity to present their work in the same moment. Therefore, I am convinced that fashion weeks, as such, must be preserved. The virtual fashion show can be a support, but it is not the future.