Thursday, March 26, 2015

American Apparel's Latest Ad Controversy

American Apparel may be keen to move away from the controversy of its past, under former CEO and founder Dov Charney, but even good intentions go awry. A leaked email revealed that a model agent acting on behalf of the brand - which has been vocal about its desire to move away from the suggestive, often Lolita-esque, "real people" advertising of its past towards a less ´offensive´ marketing image - looking for "real models" in a less than desirable way.

"Company is going through a rebranding image so will be shooting models moving forward," an agent from Photo Genics  said in the casting-call email, shared by Animal New York and reported by The Independant."Real models. Not Instagram hoes or thots."

The agency has since assumed "full responsibility for the email contents," and its director added: "The casting email and its contents were intended for a handful of models that would be attending the casting. The comment made at the end was made in jest with models whom I have a personal relationship with and did not reflect the views, or directives by the client. I apologise to all those who were offended or affected by my comments, as it was not my intention."

The company's new CEO, Paula Shneider, told Bloomberg  recently of the advertising changes: "It doesn't have to be overtly sexual. There's a way to tell our story where it's not offensive."

The Future Of Digital Fashion: Insta-Theatre

The clue is in the title: fashion show. Performance, production, exhibition. But this time we're highlighting the word "show" and pulling it apart for the sake of social media, an ever-increasing box to tick when it comes to creating that all-important catwalk money shot, something the international shows seemed to kowtow to more than ever this season.

Tea at the Chanel Brasserie anyone? Zoolander fashion moment at Valentino ring any bells? Moving Kenzo catwalk memories? Punch Drunk-style visit at Erdem? No longer were sets simply spectacular, they were Insta-spectacular; finales were no longer just a bit more fancy than the show itself, they were Insta-fabulous and wild and made with the social-media snap in mind. Or so it seemed. Welcome to Insta-theatre. Welcome to the fashion social network.

"It's hard to remember but in the time before social media, access to images of shows was very restricted. Now they are immediately accessible but they have to be spectacular in order for the editors to want to share them," says Ian Griffiths, creative director at  Max Mara where a romantic beach walk was projected onto an LED screen, waves gently tumbling in and out, and in fromt of which paraded a series of modern-day Marilyns, led out by a smouldering Gigi Hadid. Swoon. And quick, quick, take a snap!

The collection had been inspired by the photographs captured by George Barris of Monroe in a man's cardigan on the beach.

"The collection itself grew into a story and when we started to think about the show we naturally wanted to do something with a strong narrative. The giant screen with the waves reflecting in the runway, the models with their arms wrapped around their coats appearing to walk through the surf, Johnny Dynell's soundtrack, Sam McKnight's windswept hair and Tom Pecheux's natural glow: we saw the whole production as a piece of theatre with a message of inner happiness. Self-assurance and sexy intelligence," explains Griffiths. And it translated, making for the ideal "moment": editors' phones were poised from the first look out to that sensual finale turn.

"It's become more apparent that social media is imperative to get our story across," reiterates set designer Gary Card, who worked with Roksanda lloncic, Ryan Lo and Sophia Webster  this season. He feels there is a democratic aspect to it. "I love that there are so many points of view, when you search the hashtags, you see the amount of different ways you can see the collection." The set, of course, contributes and enhances this. Increasingly, Card has found himself becoming more involved with the design process, and earlier on, in order to communicate this story effectively - and ultimately socially. "Providing a set to reinterpret the collection is crucial now," he says.

Does knowing that his endeavours will be viewed more than ever before add any pressure? "It's great for me, there's more freedom, you almost have to up the ante with every show. The sky is the limit."

And of course it was for Chanel and Kenzo, two standouts for him. "The Chanel show was sickeningly amazing. A world you dream about. My favourite was Kenzo, those moving set pieces that chased the models was one of the coolest things I've ever seen. It's about thinking how to constantly re-invent the experience," he says.

And that's the other word to note: experience - one of the reasons we're taking these pictures in the first place, to relay to the non-fashion world what's going on in the show bubble right at that moment and what it means.

"Fashion as high-speed entertainment in your pocket?" offers designer Thomas Tait, who took a renegade approach to social media when it came to his show, albeit a little by accident.

"I was more concerned with creating a space and moments which feel utterly immersive," he says of his darkened spot-lit catwalk, upon which models were guided out Knightmare-style to follow an invisible runway. It was a strong concept, felt like a "proper" show and had phones all a fluster to somehow capture it. But of course, they couldn't. You really had to be there.

"The show for me is still an intimate event rooted in creative communication," says Tait, who later found out there was no telephone signal at his venue either - something he also discovered caused a bit of a stir. Appropriate subversion.

"It's fascinating for me to observe just how much social media has become a part of people's work and interaction with fashion," reflects Tait. "Especially whilst keeping in mind that Instagram and Twitter figures rarely offer quantitative commercial growth." What it does offer, he thinks, is an edited and filtered view of "behind the scenes", which is an interesting point. It's part of an overall branding dialogue after all. Even social media, as real-time and impulsive as it supposedly is, has become to a degree set up then (just as its street style counterpart has ended up becoming too).

"Nevertheless, it's not just a question of spectacle for spectacle's sake," points out Griffiths, going back to the shows themselves and those Insta-opportunities. "There has to be genuine content. The emotion can't be faked. So for me, social media has necessitated a more heartfelt approach to fashion," he concludes.

And there's no doubting that those moments, whether they're witnessed in person by a fashion editor or by a spectator at home, are "moments" - the bar for which, raised substantially this season, should make the next round of shows all the more Insta-incredible. Smile.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Is Lanvin For Sale?

Lanvin could be heading for a sale if industry rumours are to be believed, with the label's owner, Shaw-Lan Wang, reportedly considering offloading the French house. Although no formal talks are said to have taken place, the Taiwanese publishing magnate made an "informal approach" to a family of investors in Asia about possibly selling her stake.

"Madame Wang has received expressions of interest to acquire Lanvin, as in the past years, but she didn't respond," a spokesperson for Lanvin told WWD.Wang - who recruited Alber Elbaz to the house in 2001, the same year that she acquired Lanvin from L'Oréal - has described the business as a "long-term investment," but that hasn't stopped the rumour mill from swirling.

"It's a very fluid situation. My guess is something will happen this year," a source said.

Questions Unanswered As Jacobs Confirms Marc By Marc Closure

Marc Jacobs has confirmed the merger of his Marc by Marc Jacobs diffusion line with his main line, but many questions about the future of the brand remain unanswered. Although keen to talk about the future and growth of his eponymous label as it approaches a rumoured IPO, Jacobs was less forthcoming on the fate of his two lead creatives - Katie Hillier, who is creative director of the Marc by Marc line, and fellow Brit Luella Bartley, who is the womenswear designer at the label.

As a long-term collaborator, with a wealth of experience in the lucrative accessories arena, Hillier is likely to be retained by the label in some capacity, although Jacobs has not confirmed how her role will change once Marc By Marc is no more. Although Sebastian Suhl, the brand's new CEO, insisted that the team will grow rather than shrink as a result of the merger, he did not comment on Bartley's future or whether her services will be required once the lower-priced offering falls again within Jacobs's remit.

Between them, Marc Jacobs and the Marc By Marc line have around 200 stores worldwide but since many of them - including those on Bleecker Street, New York; Melrose, LA; and Mount Street, London - are only a few doors from one another, their future, and that of the teams working within them, is by no means guaranteed.

Suhl hopes that the closure of the Marc by Marc label and expansion of the main line will allow the company to inhabit a greater breadth of price points, claiming territory in the so-called "white space" between contemporary and luxury.

At the time of Jacobs's departure from Louis Vuitton in 2013, WWD reported that LVMH controlled only a third of the Jacobs trademark, while Robery Duffy and Marc Jacobs each owned a third. Since then, LVMH has acquired a controlling interest in the company, with sources speculating that the conglomerate now owns 80 per cent, and Jacobs and Duffy now only 10 per cent each.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Is Marc By Marc Jacobs Folding?

Marc By Marc Jacobs is being absorbed into the Marc Jacobs mainline, if industry rumours prove to be true. 

Currently headed up by design duo Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley the absorbtion of the Marc by Marc line - which has always had a lower price point and more youthful aesthetic than its older sibling - will apparently allow the unified brand to expand its product offering, encompassing contemporary and luxury items at their corresponding price points.

While Marc Jacobs himself remains at the helm of his eponymous label, the position of Hillier and Bartley is unclear if the unison happens. The brand could not be reached for comment when contacted earlier this week.

Pharrell Is Officially A Fashion Icon

Pharrell Williams is officially a fashion legend, having scooped the 2015 CFDA Fashion Icon Award. The accolade was decided upon by CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg, and the other members of the board.

"If cool was a person, it would be Pharrell, not just for his looks and sense of style but for his kindness and openness,"  said Von Furstenberg. "I cannot imagine anyone not seduced by him."

Williams joins past honorees including Rihanna, Johnny Depp, Lady Gaga, Iman, Kate Moss and Nicole Kidman in receiving the honour, which is "given to an individual whose style has made a significant impact on popular culture on an international stage".

The awards, in collaboration with Swarovski, will take place at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall on June 1. 

Is Gisele Really Retiring?

SAY it ain't so: rumours today suggest that  Gisele Bundchen - the world's highest-paid model for almost a decade, and a catwalk veteran of almost 20 years - could be ready to take her final turn on the catwalk.

Whispers originating from Brazilian daily Moda Estadao suggest that the supermodel plans to end her prolific catwalk career on home turf, walking her final show for Colcci at São Paulo Fashion Week in April. Bündchen is a long-time face of the brand, and has walked in the show many times before -including when four months pregnant in 2009 - and even  chose the show as her first catwalk appearance after the birth of her son Benjamin in 2010.

Although her catwalk appearances have decreased in recent years, as is normal for models reaching the peak of their earning power, Bundchen most recently walked at one of the major fashion weeks in Paris for Chanel  in September 2014 but then walked for Colcci in São Paulo in November.

Stefano Calls Elton "Ignorant"

Stefano Gabbana  has defended design partner Domenico Dolce over comments he made about IVF - and has attacked Elton John for wading in on the matter. The singer criticised Dolce and Gabbana for expressing their beliefs that the "traditional" family - of a mother, father and children - is how it "should be", saying that he found their beliefs "out of step with the times".

"Dolce has his own ideas. These attacks are fascist," Gabbana told Italian newspaper  Corriere della Sera yesterday. "I wasn't expecting it from a person like Elton John whom I considered - I underline considered - intelligent. You preach understanding, you preach tolerance and then you attack? Just because someone thinks differently to you? Is that supposed to be a democratic way of thinking? Enlightened? He's ignorant, in the sense that he denies ways of seeing things that may not be his but are just as deserving of respect."

Gabbana responded to the attack initially yesterday, with a measured statement asserting that, "it was never our intention to judge other people's choices. We do believe in freedom and love."

Several other designers - including Victoria Beckham, who  sent her love to all the ´beautiful IVF babies.´ and Balmian's Olivier Rousteing, who told us of Dolce "Sometimes it is better, when you have these kinds of thoughts, just not to talk at all" - have waded in on the debate, and so far all high-profile support has been for Elton John rather than for Dolce and Gabbana.

Model Josephine Skriver, who walked in the brand's final D&G show in 2011 and has also appeared in catwalk shows for the main line, added her voice to the debate yesterday, posting a picture of herself as a child on Instagram along with the caption: "I am a child born of love and nothing else.#IAmNotSynthetic #IVF." Skriver, who calls herself a ´rainbow baby´ was born to a mother and father who were both gay and who met with the intention of having a baby.

Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty Review

The upstanding feathers, the dying roses, the vivid plaid, the skulls and bones… Can there have ever been such a sensory and stimulating fashion exhibition?

Savage Beauty, the homage to the late Alexander McQueen at the Victoria & Albert museum (until August 2) is a visual treat even more potent than the original version at New York's Metropolitan Museum in 2011.

Bigger, bolder and braver about showing the raw sexuality and discomfiting focus on death, the London version pays scant attention to the word "romantic" that ran through the American show and accompanying book.

The "cabinet of curiosities" - at least one third bigger than in New York - is the bleeding heart of the exhibition. The fierce feathers, tottering "armadillo" shoes and the reproduction of model Shalom Harlow being sprayed with paint by robots all tell the story of McQueen's creativity. The inserts of videos of the unforgettable shows themselves makes the double-height room the epicentre of what this exhibition, and McQueen's legacy, stand for.

Generous sponsorship for this exhibition from Swarovski, supported by American Express, M∙A∙C Cosmetics and technology partner Samsung, has created a powerful theatrical experience.

Yet, in spite of enjoying every moment, from the Kate Moss hologram - turning Britain's best-known model from vapour to reality and back again - to the digitally realised backdrop of McQueen's final Atlantis show in 2010, before his suicide - there are questions to be asked.

Many are proposed by the V&A in its accompanying book, Alexander McQueen, edited by Claire Wilcox, the show's curator. Already, when I was in conversation with Claire, she raised with me issues that are nowhere in the exhibition itself: specifically the cultural context in which the designer worked.

Wilcox described the influence on McQueen of Generation Sensation, referring to the YBAs or Young British Artists. They were all those creative figures picked out by art dealer Charles Saatchi in the Nineties. McQueen was close friends with Jake and Dinos Chapman, known as the Chapman Brothers. The designer also seemed to have a similar attitude to the presence of death in life as seen in Damien Hirst's infamous dead shark of 1991.

I am not an art critic, but I cannot understand why the V&A did not put McQueen into the context of the art world of his era. Dead cows, dead birds… You don't have to be a sleuth to see the cultural connection.

Then there is McQueen in Savile Row - the years when he learnt the tailoring which would become the backbone of his work. Not to mention the period in Paris at the house of Givenchy, where he had an in-depth experience of haute couture. Both subjects are diligently discussed in different chapters of the book but they are not referenced at all in the exhibition.

Since 2001, McQueen has been part of the luxury group now called Kering. But this show does not even answer a question that might well be posed by visitors: how did they turn any of these weird clothes into a buck?

The frustrating thing about the V&A show is that there was every opportunity to chart McQueen's fashion course in the first two display areas, before the visual story unfolds with a gilded section labelled Romantic Gothic.

The tone is set by a striking frock coat, inspired by thestory of Victorian serial killer Jack the Ripper, from the first collection the designer created for his graduation in 1992 from Central Saint Martins. A low-slung pair of trousers, known as the 'bumster', is a reminder of the look that McQueen unleashed into the world of hip-hop and street culture.

If you already know the trajectory, the information is there in these opening rooms that Wilcox presents. But there is little more to explain the early part of McQueen's life - unless something is hidden in the cream-on-stone, rather unreadable captions at floor-level.

In these rooms, you hear the voice of McQueen (if the crowd of an already-sold-out show does not obscure them). Nowhere are there visual images of the designer talking - but that is perhaps because the museum is eager to move things along at a reasonable speed.

I enjoyed the show, finding it intriguing and gripping. I greatly admire the visual presentation by Sam Gainsbury, McQueen's long-term show producer. She also laid out the original exhibition for the Metropolitan Museum. But even in that show, I was dubious about the "romantic" tag attached to McQueen by Andrew Bolton, the Met's curator and a former curatorial assistant at the V&A.

Was McQueen a romantic in fashion terms? Maybe, if you look at the dead roses clinging to an evening gown. No, if you compare his work to that arch romantic Christian Dior.

I see all those McQueen flowers, shells, horns and bones as props for storytelling. As expressed in one essay, Show And Tell, in the book, McQueen's urge was "to elevate a fashion show from the mere mechanical act of showing fashion into a narrative medium". In that, he was the soul brother to John Galliano, who also gets no mention in the exhibition.

Context is so important in fashion. Clothes do not come to life by themselves, but from roots which are watered by the culture of their time.

Go and see the Savage Beauty exhibition. It is a must. But if you are a dedicated follower of fashion, invest in the Alexander McQueen book, too.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Rihanna Becomes A Dior Girl

After seasons of sitting in the front row at the shows, Rihanna  is finally becoming a Dior girl. The singer will star in the fourth installment of the label's Secret Garden campaign, shot by Steven Klein in Versailles. "Film and print versions of the campaign are scheduled to run this spring," a spokesperson for the house confirmed this morning.

Previous Secret Garden films - which show models in the new collection walking through the Palace of Versailles and its elaborate gardens - were shot by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, and have starred models including Daria Strokus, Melissa Stasiuk and Xiao Wen Ju.

Rihanna joins actresses Jennifer Lawrence, Marion Cotillard and Natalie Portman - who are all current faces of different elements of the Dior collection.

Has Zoolander 2 Cast Kloss?

All eyes were on the Valentino autumn/winter 2015 catwalk this week when Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson appeared in character as Derek Zoolander and Hansel McDonald (in doing so confirming that a Zoolander sequel is very much in the production stage). But they may have a run for their money when it comes to strutting their stuff, as seasoned catwalk Karlie Kloss is rumoured to have signed up for a starring role.

The exact nature of the role is unconfirmed, although the former  Victoria´s Secret Angel does have more time on her hands since hanging up her wings last month and if she were to appear would join Will Farrell, Penelope Cruz and Christine Taylor as a member of the supporting cast. According to E! On-line. Gigi Hadid turned down an offer of appearing in the hotly anticipated film, however Naomi Campbell, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn and Alessandra Ambrosio are still said to be favourites to join Kloss.

Despite having little acting experience (she once appeared as herself in an episode of Gossip Girl), Kloss knows how to command attention, as we've seen in her confident appearances on the Victoria's Secret runway. But how will she fair against Derek and Hansel? We say let the walk-offs commence.

Kendall For Calvin?

It wouldn´t be the first time that we've seen her in her lingerie, but we could soon be seeing a lot more of Kendall Jenner if - as is rumoured - she becomes the face of Calvin Klein Underwear.

Industry sources suggest that the model - who has had a sterling catwalk season with appearances at Chanel, Balmain, Fendi, Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta and Diane von Furstenberg to name but a few - could be on the cusp of signing a deal that will see her follow in the footsteps of Lara Stone (currently appearing with Justin Bieber) to front the next campaign.

Jenner has posted pictures of herself in Calvin Klein Underwear several times over the past year, and a campaign with the brand would further cement her status as one of the industry's most sought-after names. Previous Calvin Klein faces include Kate Moss and Eva Mendes, and since Jenner already has a make-up contract (with Estée Lauder) a fragrance and lingerie deal would be the next rungs on the ladder to the bigtime.

The deal could throw a spanner in the works for Jenner in another sense though. She has been vocal about her desire to one day become a Victoria's Secret Angel, and another lingerie deal would almost certainly make that dream impossible. With  Karlie Kloss and Doutzen Kroes both stepping down in recent weeks, there are some wings going spare, but it seems Jenner could have built her nest elsewhere by then.

The Truth About Cara’s “Fight” With Naomi

Naomi Campbell  has rubbished rumours that she was involved in an altercation with fellow Brit model Cara Delevingne.American tabloid Page Six alleged that the two were seen "pushing and shoving" each other, but Campbell denies that the fracas ever took place.

"Don't know where this story has come from about @Caradelevingne and I fighting!" Campbell stated this morning on Twitter. "It is completely untrue, ignore the rumours."

Witnesses reported hearing Campbell and Delevingne - who sat front row together the Burberry show this season - shouting at one another at a private party at Paris club Castel on Sunday night. A source explained that if any pushing did take place, it was likely to have been caused by the problem that every nightclub wishes for: too many party goers.

"Naomi didn't do anything wrong," Page Six's source asserted. "We are talking about a very tiny club in Paris with a very busy table - if someone pushes someone, it's because there is no space."

Westwood Accused Of Tax Avoidance

Vivienne Westwood has found herself in the midst of a tax-avoidance storm, after the publication of company accounts revealed that her main UK business is paying £2 million a year to an off-shore account in Luxembourg, for the right to use her name on her fashion label.

It means that the company allegedly "cheats the UK treasury out of about £500,000 a year," reports The Sunday Telegraph (as it reduced the company's UK profits by £2 million for the year ending December 31, 2013) - a process that American coffee chain Starbucks was criticised for engaging in last year.

"What's odd about Ms Westwood's arrangements is that the rights were held in the UK, but were then transferred out of the UK. The transfer means that the deed is no longer subject to UK tax," Jolyon Maugham QC, a leading tax barrister, told The Sunday Telegraph. "And that's tax avoidance by any sensible definition."

The revelation has also raised questions about the relationship between Westwood and the Green Party, with the party being accused of hypocrisy for accepting a donation of £300,000 from Westwood, given its calls for a staunch Tax Dodgers Bill that would "outlaw such payments to offshore companies in jurisdictions including Luxembourg", and Westwood being criticised for apparently supporting a political party whose agendas she allegedly doesn't adhere to.

"Vivienne Westwood Ltd and all the companies belonging to the group pay all the required taxes in all the countries in which they trade or operate, in accordance to audited financial statements," read a statement from Vivienne Westwood Ltd. "All British entities based in the UK paid the required taxes. Within the UK, Vivienne Westwood Limited paid £780,228 of taxes in 2013 and £1,250,858 of taxes in 2012. Profits, as per the decision of the board of directors, were invested in the structure and in the international development of the company. The donation of £300,000 to the Green Party was made by Dame Vivienne Westwood personally and not by the Vivienne Westwood Group."

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Olivier Rousteing: Mr Popular

Olivier Rousteing has had a busy week. Not only has he presented his eighth applauded collection for Balmain but he has hit the one-million-followers mark on Instagram, making him the most popular French fashion designer on the platform.

So what is the magic formula? Rousteing regularly posts pictures of himself enjoying nights out (and nights in) with his glamorous posse of famous friends - including Naomi Campbell, Kim Kardashian West, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Rihanna and Karlie Kloss to mention a few - and gives his loyal following an exclusive insight into his private life and childhood. J

He is also not afraid to parody himself, which has proven time and time again to endear even the harshest of critics. On learning that he had hit the one-million-followers mark, Rousteing posted a still of himself on a chat show, with a contented grin on his face, accompanied with the caption: "The face that I do when I realise I reached 1M followers #Myfollowersarebetterthandyours #BalmainArmy #thankU #loveU #itsallaboutLOve #dreamteam #colgate".

When asked about his success on the social-media platform, Rousteing had a firm grasp of what his secret is: "I'm young, I'm black, I'm a designer, I have famous friends, but I also eat hamburgers and have both feet on the ground. It's real life and reality always excites people," he told WWD.

The Tale Of Chanel Couture

When Chanel brought its couture collection to London for the first time in the fashion house's history last month, we delved beneath the mille-feuille of tulle to find out exactly what is required to create a couture collection of dreams.

As each Chanel haute couture look arrived on Karl Lagerfeld's glamorous greenhouse-themed runway in The Grand Palais this January, each elicited a sigh of desire longer than the last. Floral epaulettes, all-over sequins, rainbow-hued bouclé-tweed, and flowers absolutely everywhere made up his spring / summer 2015 vision. But it takes more than an idea to bring such spectacular creations to fruition, as we found out when we visited the collection at the label's London atelier last month.

To start with, the almost insurmountable figures speak for themselves: the collection of 73 looks that we saw on the catwalk comprised just short of five million sequins in total; took 100 seamstresses a grand total of 22,000 hours to make, of which the final bridal gown took up 2,000 hours alone; and it was all done and dusted - from start to finish - in just three short months.

The process is just as fascinating as the figures would suggest, but far from the frantic hysteria that one might expect the above to insight, it is nothing but utter, meditative calm in the Chanel ateliers. There are four haute couture ateliers in total: two devoted to tailoring - comprising those of Madame Jacqueline and Madame Josette - and two specialising in the loose and soft fabrics known as the "flou" - those of Madame Martine and Madame Cecile. In the true bespoke spirit of haute couture, the label of the atelier where each item is made is sewn into the seams of each piece, to give the relevant studio its dues.

Lagerfeld begins the process with an annotated sketch, which he then hands to his studio directors, who distribute accordingly to the four ateliers. These are then handed to the seamstresses that range in age from young apprentices to mature women, known as "le petites mains" - translated as "the little hands" - who set to work bringing the illustration to life. One seamstress is responsible for one look, apart from the bridal gown which requires three.

But as Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel established all those years ago, Chanel is not about one item, it is about the total look - and every element counts

As we learned at the New Bond Street atelier, it's not just surface work that counts with Chanel couture. On the inside of every item is detail that deserves to be seen - seamless satin lining, luxurious quilting on a coat's reverse, and layers of crystals and appliqué among them. It's not just what can be seen, we were told, but what the wearer knows lies beneath - a secret if you will.

But as Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel established all those years ago, Chanel is not about one item, it is about the total look - and every element counts. Maison Michel, the early 20th century French milliner owned by Chanel is responsible for the millinery, which for this collection in particular was an important and collaborative effort - the extravagant wide-brimmed hats were made more "cloud-like" just before the show at Lagerfeld's request.

Utterly mesmerising in every way, watch the film below showing "le petites mains" at work - the tale of a Chanel couture collection from start to finish.

JPG Moves On

Jean Paul Gaultier´s first ready-to-wear venture since he shuttered his eponymous line last year will be withJapanese retailer Seven and i Holdings, it was announced today.

The capsule collection is slated to comprise over 50 items and will be called "Jean Paul Gaultier for Sept Premières" - citing the new company that will launch under the Seven and iHoldings umbrella at the same time, reports WWD. Ranging in price from $32 to $250, the collection - which is currently planned to last for two seasons - aims to provide high quality clothing at affordable prices.

Available from later this year, it will be sold at Seven and the iHolding-owned Sogo, Seibu and Ito Yokado department stores in Japan, as well as its 7-11 convenience stores, meaning customers will be able to order online and pick up from one of the 17,000 outlets in Japan. Here's hoping the collection makes its way to European shores.

Armani's New Womenswear Line

Giorgio Armani is set to add another string to its bow as it has announced that a new womenswear line is in the works, entitled New Normal. While no details have been disclosed as to when the line will launch, it is known that it will be a full collection, full of "classic" items.

"It will show how I think today's women should dress," Giorgio Armani said himself yesterday, reports WWD. "The idea is to start from classic designs to create a new classic. It's a collection meant to last, which will be renewed as we go but will remain rooted in the classic style."

It adds to what is already shaping up to be a busy year for the designer and his eponymous fashion house. Silos Armani, the former Nestlé space that Armani purchased last year, will complete it´s renovations in time for Expo Milano 2015 in April while he will be busy curating an exhibition of his archive, which will also be shown in the space.

Dior And I, The Film

There was a moment before Raf Simons´ debut for Dior (a couture collection no less) that it all got too much. The designer stepped outside the catwalk space (as it busily filled with people and anticipation) and could no longer hold back the tears.

It's all too easy to think that a fashion show and the clothes just happen when it comes to Fashion Week. Amid a social and style circus; a pit of flashbulbs, stars; celebrity and front row gossip; a collection struts out down a catwalk. We want to be that girl; we want that hair and make-up; and we want those clothes. It's a grand feat of production. And it happens twice a year. But behind it, there are the designers: terrific geniuses but humans also. They have feelings, are scared and feel the pressure too. We forget that. Until you see it up close, which is exactly what Dior And I, the new fashion documentary film by Frederic Tcheng does.

"Up until that show day still I could feel his emotions but wasn't sure if they would come across. I really wanted an emotional dimension to the film," recalls Tcheng, who had been in talks with Dior pre-Raf about making a film following the success of his ventures with Valentino: The Last Emperor (2008) and Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel (2011). When the announcement came that Raf was the new creative director, he called straight up and said: "What should we do? I'm ready!"

And what he did was create a beautiful and emotive storytelling of that now famed first show back in July 2012 and everything you didn't know that went on in the lead up to it.

As the film shows, Raf is actually a rather shy character - we get to know him and feel for him along the way - he has, after all, got quite the challenge ahead of him. "He was a little reluctant to be filmed. I wrote him a letter first, a director's statement: how we would film and what interested me in the story. I was already clear that I wanted the seamstresses to play a big role in the film, the encounter between the two," says Tcheng, viewing this as a sort of sequel - what happens when the house has to continue the legacy. The house's former creative director,John Galliano was famously dismissed in 2011 following a public anti-semitic rant.

Tcheng went and filmed for a test week and after being suitably quizzed by Raf and relaying that it was a down-to-earth approach he was after, he was allowed to stay on. And so all those lovely and real, heartfelt and stressful, funny and compassionate moments were captured: when Raf is introduced to the atelier for the first time; when he comes up with seemingly impossible-to-realise ideas (you'll have to watch to find out their fate); when he's too scared to do a finale bow circuit of the catwalk for fear he might faint; when he's being photographed by the great and the good of fashion and film; and most poignantly when he's being photographed post-show with his parents. Aww. Because he's just like us too.

"For me, the process of empathy is crucial when making a film," reflects Tcheng, who found himself personally affected. "Raf, c'est moi. I felt a strong connection with Raf's story, our journeys were similar." This film, the biggest and most emotive he had done yet. "Emotionally I was in a very similar place: excited, scared, overwhelmed. After two months, I felt like I had made that collection with them."

In those two months (by comparison the Valentino documentary was filmed over two years), Tcheng ended up with over 250 hours of footage - not to mention some wonderful characters in the seamstresses and Raf's right-hand man, an incredible insight into one of fashion's biggest appointments and a film that really should go straight to the top of your film viewing list.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Lupita's Oscars Gown Stolen

Lupita Nyongo´s beautiful pearl-embellished Calvin Klein Collection dress, which she wore to Sunday's Oscars ceremony, has been stolen from her Hollywood hotel room.

The dress, which is reported to comprise over 6,000 Akoya cultured pearls of five different sizes, is worth $150,000 according to Los Angeles Police Department and is thought to have been removed from the room at some point on Wednesday when Nyong'o was absent from The London Hotel.

"A representative of Lupita Nyong'o reported the theft of a Calvin Klein dress that was worn by the actress on the night of the Oscars," deputy John Mitchell, at the West Hollywood Sheriff's Station, told People. "The sheriff's department here in West Hollywood and our detectives are investigating."

As for the hotel, a representative stated, "This is a terribly unfortunate situation, and we are working with law enforcement in their investigation."

Lulu Kennedy For M&S

Marks & Spencer has enlisted Fashion East founder Lulu Kennedy to create a capsule collection for its Indigo denim range. Kennedy, who is also co-founder of fashion label Lulu & Co. has never collaborated with a high-street retailer before.

"My love affair with denim began at an early age - so it was second nature for me to develop a casual range as my first high-street venture," Kennedy explained. "Working on the Indigo Collection for Marks & Spencer has been very natural and fun."

"Collaborating with Lulu on this capsule range has been an exciting process," Karen Peacock, head of design for Indigo Collection said. "Her love of travel and holidaying in Mexico has inspired this summer collection and brings a fresh look to the Indigo range and her wealth of experience in the industry has been invaluable. We are eagerly anticipating the reaction."

The 19-piece collection - comprising bold, printed separates, distressed denim and global inspired accessories - will launch in May.

Donatella's Achilles' Heel

One would assume that running a global fashion empire throws up its fair share of problems, but far from any logistical nightmares, Donatella Versace has revealed that the trickiest part of her job lies closer to home.

"It's my self-esteem," she told the International New York Times when asked what she found the hardest. "I trained myself to hide my vulnerability and my insecurities for a long time. I give into these two emotions only when I am alone. At the end of the day, I'm just kind of thinking: 'Is it good enough?' The next day I wake up and I'm like, 'Oh yeah, that was fine.' But usually, in the evening, I have that half an hour when I think I did everything wrong."

But the Versace boss does have friends that she can call on - even if they aren't in Milan where she works.

"I'm the most anti-social person you can think about - even if no one believes me," she said. "This is the city where I work, you know. I don't have many friends here. Actually I don't have any friends at all, out of my office. My friends are around the world; I call them on the phone and talk."

Did You Know Doutzen Is No Longer An Angel

Doutzen Kroes has walked her last Victoria´s Secret catwalk, having finished her contract with the company at the end of 2014. The issue has only been addressed by Ed Razek, Victoria's Secret's chief marketing officer now, following the departure of fellow Angel, Karlie Kloss earlier this week.

"After I posted the news about Karlie Kloss leaving VS I got a number of texts asking me why I hadn't said anything about Doutzen leaving at the end of last year. Fair question," Razek said. "The simple answer is I should have. Doutzen had a lucrative opportunity in Europe and it would have conflicted with her VS obligations.

So, at her agencies' request, we released her from contract. There was no conflict. No animosity. None of the nonsense I've read on Instagram. She had a great business opportunity, and I wanted to be fair to someone I adore and respect. That's all. I honestly believe Doutzen is one of the most stunningly beautiful people in the world. And I always will. I have told her that many times. Now you know."

Kloss became an Angel ahead of her first show in 2012 - the first model ever to graduate to wings automatically - whereas Kroes is a veritable veteran, walking for the first time in 2005 and boasting eight shows since.

Her last appearance for the brand was in the Super Bowl advertisment, screened in January, which saw Kroes and her fellow Angels trying their hand at American football.

Why Granny Vivienne's "Disappointed"

Being told off by your grandmother is nobody's favourite way to spend a Monday, but if you're  Cora Corre, granddaughter of Vivienne Westwood, the feeling is worse still. Westwood chose to reveal publically that she was "disappointed" in Corré for choosing to go skiing rather than walk, as she has done for the past two seasons, in Westwood's Red Label show on Sunday and, as is typical of the outspoken designer, she didn't pull any punches on the topic.

"I think she is wasting her opportunity," Westwood said after the show. "She should use me. I'll be dead and she will think, 'What was that woman talking about?'"

A family friend insisted that there was "no animosity" and that Corré was simply taking a break as she prepares for her A-levels. But this isn't the first time that Westwood has passed comment on the 17-year-old's choices, saying last year: "She's a beautiful girl, but I wish she would use it to stand for something, although it's terrible for me to impose that on anybody. I would also like to see more of her. She's a teenager, she's busy."

Corré stated last summer of her plans to continue modelling once she completes her studies, and revealed that her parents, designers Joe Corré and Serena Rees, who together founded Agent Provocateur were supportive but had cautioned that she shouldn´t get wrapped up in it.¨

Stella On Her Love Affair With Pringle

"I grew up near Hawick so I've been aware of Pringle forever," Stella Tennant told us at the launch of Pringle of Scotland's new knitwear exhibition in London yesterday. "This is a brand that has a 200-year tradition of innovation, clever engineering and an incredibly rich heritage. Pringle presents a really powerful identity, as does Scotland as a country, and that comes through in the contemporary and modern garments that we see today."

Created as part of the brand's bicentennial birthday celebrations, the exhibition traces the brand's history from 1815 to 2015, and will leave London's Serpentine in a few days time to head back north of the border. Entitled Fully Fashioned, the exhibition follows Pringle's evolution from small hosiery firm to international fashion house, and features brand imagery of Tennant, as well as artists David Shrigley and Robert Montgomery, actor Luke Treadaway and Edinburgh Fashion Festival founder Anna Freemantle, all shot by Scottish photographer Albert Watson.

"For me, the most powerful part of the exhibition is the moment when you see the all-in-one hosiery and how clean and modern it is," Tennant explained. "Its simplicity means that it's a timeless undergarment that could be given a context in any decade. You can't quite believe that it's 200 years old because it's something that would be wearable now."

The exhibition includes three short films choreographed by Michael Clark, which explore the role of knitwear in the development of the modern wardrobe including archived items drawn from the Royal Wardrobe, Hawick Museum and The Women Golfers' Museum.

"This bicentennial milestone is so significant when you consider that Pringle was around during the industrial revolution when knitwear wasn't considered fashionable because it was worn as underwear," Massimo Nicosia, the label's head of design, told us. "In the 20th century, Pringle first proposed knitwear as outerwear and subsequently provided sportswear for women when they were given access to golf courses and sports clubs."

"As a designer I enjoy the glamourous side of fashion and think the Fifties was the most pivotal point for Pringle in terms of its image," Nicosia added. "It was all about show-stopping airport arrivals with celebrities wearing the Pringle twinset and carrying the handbag of the moment. Times haven't changed really; women still enjoy making that kind of statement today."

"Fully Fashioned: The Pringle of Scotland Story" will be open to the public from Friday April 10 until Sunday August 16 2015 at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. The exhibition will then tour America and Asia.