Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Introducing Puma x Sophia Webster

Sophia Webster is following in the footsteps of Rihanna by collaborating with German sportswear giant Puma on a line of trainers and - for the first time baring the shoe designer's name - a line of womenswear.

Known for her tropical, colourful and irreverent take on footwear, the designer has ensured that this collection strays little from the aesthetic that saw her pick up the Vogue/BFC Fashion Fund award in 2016. Trainers and sliders come laced with her signature butterfly design, while the clothing is tailored to those - like Webster - who place dance at the front of their exercise regime: sheer leotards, cut-out leggings and crop-tops emblazoned with an Instagram-friendly unicorn design.

Joining the likes of Cara Delevingne, Rihanna and Kylie Jenner who have all worked with Puma over the last few years, Webster's collaboration will introduce her signature to Puma's loyals, while those that collect her Bibi Butterfly, Lacey and Rosalind styles will welcome the addition of a Webster-altered Puma creeper into their everyday wardrobe.

As the collection launches, we caught up with the London-based designer to talk perfect collaborative pairings, how rhythm informs her work and the prospect of branching into womenswear.

This is the first time that your shoes need to consider function and performance - how did this inform the creative process?

I take weekly dance classes with Sarah Richards, a childhood friend and professional dancer, and my friend Joelle d'Fontaine a dance and fitness instructor. We had a mini focus group to discuss comfort, favourite apparel and shoes to dance in and went from there. I designed the collection exactly how I wanted it to look and worked with the experts at Puma to make sure the fit and functionality was spot on.

Did you find that this limited your creativity at all?

I consider limitations a challenge. I love figuring out ways to bend the rules to get the product looking exactly how I want it to. Like my shoes and bags, there are restrictions in certain materials and techniques with rules that suppliers try and make you stick to. I like to push the boundaries.

There are also ready-to-wear pieces - how involved were you personally with these?

Partnering with Puma has been fantastic as they allowed me full creative control of all the entire collection of footwear and apparel. So, for me it was my first opportunity to design ready-to-wear and think of how my aesthetic would translate into womenswear. I have loved the challenge.

What do you think is the key to successful brand partnerships and collaborations?

I think the best collaborations are when they make sense with the brand’s aesthetic and feel like the right fit. I only agree to collaborations if I can immediately visualise in my head how the end product would look. If I get inspired and excited by that then I'm up for it. With my dancing background (I used to compete nationally in freestyle disco dancing competitions) and the fact that dancing is my favourite and only form of exercise, designing a dance-inspired sportswear collection with Puma seemed like a dream collaboration. Not only is Puma a leading sportswear brand but it is innovative, it takes risks - I love that. I have enjoyed the process so much and feel super proud of the collection.

How did this collection start?

I started posting some videos from my dance classes on my Instagram. I'm not sure if that is what got Puma’s attention or if it was fate, but the brand approached me. I had been itching to get into sportswear for a while so I knew it was right and I was so excited to get going. Designing apparel was a completely new world for me. I wanted to offer individual statement pieces that you can not only wear to dance or the gym but also incorporate into your everyday wardrobe or for a night out.

What was the key inspiration?

The collection is dance-inspired. There is a variety of vibrant and colourful pieces using tropical graphic prints on crop tops and black leggings with side-panelled details and oversized tees. I took inspiration from my signature black suede Mila heels when designing the bodysuit which has black ornate hand-drawn flocked detailing over stretch mesh. It’s always been important to me to offer something for everyone in my collections, whether it is a statement embellished shoe or a simple black pump. I wanted this collection to reflect the way I design by offering the same variety. It was important for me to include my own aesthetic on a classic Puma silhouette. The Puma suedes combine a pastel colour palette with bold pops of neon and a multi-coloured speckled translucent sole.

Where do you find yourself to be most creative? 

I think I'm most creative when I'm travelling - I usually come up with the best ideas sitting in traffic in an Uber when my mind has time to wander with no distractions! I have an Apple Pencil on me usually so I can quickly sketch into my phone and email off to my design team to start working.

This collaboration exposes you to a new customer base - what do you want them to take away from the shoes?

I hope they feel they have bought something that is creative and unique. If someone is going to part with their money, I want to make it worth their while.

Do you have a favourite piece? 

The reversible bomber jacket is my favourite as it includes both characteristics of the collection. The playful tropical prints on one side with the reverse featuring black textured tonal detailing offer the versatility of a bold statement jacket as well as being sassy but sleek everyday bomber.

Who would you love to see wearing Puma x Sophia Webster?

There is a dancer I follow on Instagram called Jade Chynoweth who I am obsessed with. When she posts a new dancing video, I always watch it a million times over - she is crazy talented! I would love to see her dancing in the collection.

Candice And Behati Have News...

Victoria´s Secret has announced that its 2017 show will be held in Shanghai and will see Candice Swanepoel and Behati Prinsloo make their return to the famous winged runway after taking a year's hiatus to have their first children.

They will join seasoned Angels Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, Lily Aldridge, Elsa Hosk, Jasmine Tookes, Josephine Skriver, Lais Ribeiro, Martha Hunt, Romee Strijd, Sara Sampaio, Stella Maxwell and Taylor Hill.

The African duo, who made their debut together in 2007, both became mothers for the first time within weeks of one another in 2016 - Prinsloo and husband Adam Levine welcomed their daughter, Dusty Rose, in September, and Swanepoel shared the news of the arrival of her son, Anacã, with fiancé Hermann Nicoli in October.

Around 400 hopefuls attended the casting for this year's show in New York last week, but the brand is yet to release its official list of Angels, returning models and newcomers. Casting director John Pfeiffer gave British Vogue the inside scoop on which fresh faces to look out for on the runway come November, including rising stars Grace Bol, Roosmarijn de Kok and Vanessa Moody.

Details of musical performances will be revealed at a later date, but Victoria’s Secret does promise that the CBS show - set to be broadcast on the network on November 28 at 10pm EST - will include pink-carpet interviews, model profiles and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the show, as well as the usual catwalk spectacular.

Stay tuned for more information, including who will wear this year's fantasy bra.

All Change: Burberry Unveils September Show News

It's so long Maker's House, hello Old Sessions House this afternoon, as Burberry has announced the location of its forthcoming September show. The British brand revealed its new Clerkenwell base as it announced that it will be hosting a "major photographic exhibition" curated by president and chief creative officer Christopher Bailey, entitled Here We Are, in the show space. The show will accumulate the work of over 30 social and documentary photographers who made their aesthetic mark on the 20th Century, including Shirley Baker, Ken Russell, and Alasdair McLellan.

"When we started thinking about curating Here We Are, I knew I wanted it to celebrate a certain strand of British photography that I have always loved - one which documents the many and varied tribes and clans and classes that make up this island of ours," said Bailey, who introduced the concept on Burberry's Instagram account this afternoon. "It has been an extraordinary privilege to gather together this collection of photographs, that have influenced me so much over the years. They provide a portrait of British life, in all its nuances, both exceptional and mundane, beautiful and harsh. It’s the spirit of those photographs – sometimes ironic, sometimes tender, always truthful - that has guided our September collection. Together they will form an exhibition in our new show space, celebrating a very British way of life and way of dressing."

The simultaneous announcement makes a departure from the place the brand has come to call home for the last two seasons in Soho, but stays true to its constant revival of Brit culture and heritage from myriad centuries, which will no doubt inform the aesthetic direction of its third see-now, buy-now collection. The teaser imagery released today points to a sartorial ode to the nostalgia of bygone everyday wardrobes with the focus on the familiar, albeit in a new light.

While that remains to be seen on the evening of September 16 (although because of the brand's runway-to-retail structure, key press and buyers have already been treated to a necessary preview under embargo), we do have firm facts when it comes to the exhibition which is co-curated by Lucy Kumara Moore, director of the cult Claire de Rouen Books. It will be open to the public and run from September 18 to October 1 (a longer period than previous installations at Maker's House); the work will be divided into different themes over three floors "which reflect different aspects of the British way of life"; and will incorporate a celebration of its new collaboration with McLellan, in the form of a special presentation of over 70 photographs – the largest number of his works shown to date.

"I have long been enchanted by British 'social portraiture'," said Moore, "photography that reveals the ways in which we live, work, dream, celebrate and challenge, both individually and collectively. I was therefore honoured to be invited by Christopher to curate this exhibition with him – he has such a deep personal interest in the work and his idea to host this exhibition reflects the brand’s expansive approach to the relation between fashion and visual culture."

The extravaganza and show will be the first under the brand's new management structure, which saw Marco Gobbetti arrive from Céline to take the CEO reins from Bailey, and Bailey resume full creative duties along with the added title of president. With more time to focus his full attentions on the clothes, might this be Bailey at his best? Stay tuned.

When Shopping Meets Art: Sterling Ruby's Latest Calvin Klein Installation

Fashion designers and artists have long collaborated, typically with the artists illustrations ending up on clothes, but the creative partnership between prolific multi-media artist Sterling Ruby and Raf Simons at Calvin Klein takes things to a new depth. Ruby is one of America’s most celebrated contemporary artist and Simons is using him to help define Calvin Klein in 2017.

Simons has a long history of collaboration with Ruby. In 2014, the pair created a collection together based on Ruby’s paint and bleach splattered work attire. Together, designer and artist are determined to challenge traditional art and fashion hierarchies. So far, Ruby has designed the showroom space at 205 W 39TH Street, created an art installation on the building’s ground floor within which Simons put on his debut show and produced a striking yellow interior installation for the austere John Pawson-designed Calvin flagship in New York.

The latest iteration has now come to the UK with a corner of Selfridges, made-over for Calvin Klein by Ruby. The biggest in store drop of Simons' debut Calvin collection is displayed on coloured plinths and canvas backdrops created in Ruby’s four acre, LA studio complex alongside multi-million dollar paintings, totemic poured sculpture and fabric collages for which he has become famous. Art world purists may disapprove, but Ruby sees all his fashion collaborations as an extension of his artistic practice.

The idea is that you can flick through cocktail dresses sheathed in plastic, deconstructed varsity knits, side stripe trousers and hoodies sporting leather patches printed with an image of Brooke Sheilds in her infamous Calvin ad within the context of Ruby’s work.

The Selfridges experience itself feels far more like shopping that visiting a gallery. Draped on one rail is an oversized woollen cheerleader pompom, similar to those see hanging in the Calvin Klein catwalk space. Created in Ruby’s studio, it has a security tag, to deter art thieves. (Ruby’s work sells for upwards of $1m.)

“I like to think about art as being similar to poetry,” the Ruby once said. “It can’t be proven. It just exists and there’s an aura about it.” The same can’t be said for the transactional act of shopping, although if you can create an ‘aura’ around a product, it is far more likely to fly off the shelves.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Inside Amal’s Sister’s Fashion Line

If Amal Clooney’s style is defined by tailored separates and a slew of sleek handbags, her sister, Tala Alamuddin, is the polar opposite. Bold, bohemian fashion is her calling. So much so, that she’s channeled her love of fringing into her own brand: Totally Tala.

Sign up for “Totally Tantalising” updates on the brand’s online launch and you’ll receive a note from Tala saying that she’s “Totally Thrilled”. It’s a brand not for the faint-hearted. Currently only available to buy in Singapore, where she lived with her former husband Nagi Hamiyeh, is working on getting “sharper and brighter” for its customers.

So, what of the collection? Tasselled leather totes, belts and shoulder sweeping earrings in a myriad of different colours appear to be the brand’s bread-and-butter, with Tala adopting the role of model on Instagram.

Though the zany accessories might seem incongruous with Amal’s polished workwear, one thing the sisters have in common is a penchant for statement drop earrings. On a date night with her husband in Lake Como this summer, Amal offset her monochrome striped jumpsuit with a pair of pink tasseled earrings from the “rock ‘n’ fringe” line. Tala promptly posted the picture with the hashtag #fringedandfabulous.

With a personal mantra of “rise, rock, repeat”, it’s her zest for life (as well as tassels) that makes Tala a breath of fresh air. We might not be in a rush to invest in her flouncy fashion, but we can’t help but think that we could all be a bit more Tala.

Introducing The Solange-Approved Brand: Tigra Tigra

Solange Knowles joined Dave Chappelle on stage at New York’s Radio City last night wearing a pink silk smoking suit by US brand Tigra Tigra. It took us less than 24 hours to become obsessed.

The singer’s "Texas Pink" separates were hand-woven in Patan, Gujarat, as part of Tigra Tigra’s partnership with an Indian non-profit organisation, which employs over 500 women to make the brand’s textiles that are then sewn in LA.

The crushed, sheeny fabric of the suit is not silk, but mashroo, a fabric originally formulated to conform to the principles of Islam which forbade silk to touch the skin. Weavers crafted a fabric with a cotton weft, or base, so that the silk sitting on top would not graze the skin. Islamic nobility could subsequently wear luxurious fabrics without breaking their religion, and mashoo became a popular export of the Ottoman Empire. A rich colour palette, such as Solange’s blush hue, grew over time.

It’s not the first time the singer has dabbled with mashroo. Solange owns ivory and emerald Tigra Tigra pieces that, like the pink suit, complement her love of loose tailoring in vibrant block colours. With an interesting and ethical fabric policy to boot, Tigra Tigra is not just a cool-girl brand that's made for Solange (a champion of under-the-radar labels), but the discerning shopper too. The only snag? Her $760 suiting currently only ships to the US.

Did You Know Sweatshops Exist In The UK?

As Asos and New Look speak out about the challenges - and dark realities - of 'Made in Britain' products, ethical fashion author and journalist Tamsin Blanchard speaks to the Ethical Trading Initiative's Debbie Coulter about the working standards in Leicester and what we can do as consumers.

You might think that ‘Made in Britain’ is a badge of honour when it comes to the label inside your clothes, but did you know that the conditions in some garment factories in the UK are as bad as those in many of the factories in the developing world?

Leicester, home to a third of the UK’s fashion manufacturing, has been the subject of ongoing investigations into unsafe conditions, blocked fire exits, and £3 per hour wages for the past three years since the Ethical Trading Initiative, which campaigns for workers’ rights around the globe, commissioned a report on clothing manufacturing in the area.

"People will be shocked, but it’s not exaggerating the reality of the situation,” says Debbie Coulter, Head of Programmes at the ETI. £3 per hour is an average wage, although she has spoken to women who were being paid as little as £1 per hour.

Things are so bad that the chief executives of Asos and New Look have spoken out, describing the factories in Leicester as “a ticking time bomb.” They want to support British manufacturing but right now, the industry is being tarnished by working conditions and breaches in basic human rights more common with Bangladesh, not 21st Century Britain.

New Look’s Anders Kristiansen told the Telegraph this week: “Many of these factories have unsafe conditions with fire escapes blocked up, workers exploited and paid far ­below minimum wage. What happens if there is another massive fire, what will it take for people to wake up?”“This is an industry that is endemic with bad labour practices”

Demand for British-made fast fashion is rising. Increased shipping costs means that it’s cheaper to manufacture in the UK for local markets rather than import from Asia or Bangladesh. Both Asos and New Look would like to manufacture more in the UK and have been at the forefront of trying to address this issue in Leicester. “This is an industry that is endemic with bad labour practices,” says Coulter. “These are incredibly poor terms and conditions of employment that people can’t imagine are being enforced in the UK in the 21st Century. It is pure and blatant exploitation and abuse of labour rights.” Typically, the workers being exploited are women from different countries who speak little English. Some come to UK on a six-month visa and work every hour they can before returning home.

Conditions in UK factories vary hugely, as they do in any country. According to Coulter, some factories are very good and modern, “but some of the worst are housed in buildings and units that frankly you’d be fearful of entering – lack of fire safety equipment, fire safety risks, building safety risks. Some of the buildings I’ve seen, I don’t think people should be working in them. There are raids and we know there have been prosecutions, but it’s a common practice for some of these companies to go out of business and open up the following day under a different name. They act with such impunity it is quite frightening.”

Fashion brands have a responsibility to ensure their supply chains do not use sweatshops but they often claim that orders are subcontracted out to other factories they have not authorised. Auditing the entire supply chain is a complex business, especially when the majority of these factories in Leicester have fewer than 20 workers and some exist illegally under the radar.

As consumers, we can help to put pressure on our favourite brands to make sure they are actively supporting initiatives like the ETI’s working group in Leicester. “At one time you would have felt comfortable about saying you only buy British-made garments, but there are no guarantees, no safeguards,” says Coulter. “It’s a stark wake-up call. If we are having problems trying to manage and address severe labour rights violations just up the M1 in Leicester, it puts into the spotlight how difficult it is to address these issues throughout global supply chains.”

Inside Arket

The  time is now. Arket, the newest store to come from the H&M stable, is opening its doors for the first time on London's Regent Street this week - and the wait has been worth it.

Finding its aesthetic niche somewhere in between the clean cuts of Cos and the more insouciant prints and silhouettes of & Other Stories, Arket successfully stands apart from its sister brands. No more so than because of its lifestyle and kidswear categories and café offering - a close rival to the clothes for our attention when we had a preview earlier this week (the homewares are French-market-meets-stripped-back-Scandi chic; the mini Arket edit is irresistible; and the coffee is delicious).

It has also achieved independence in the atmosphere of its first bricks-and-mortar home. True to its name, which translates from Swedish into "piece of paper", the store design is minimal and fuss-free - industrial even - letting the clothes and the concept take the spotlight with mini explanatory installations informing customers about the bespoke yarn creations and dying techniques adding substance to the style.

And what of the style? The timeless and relaxed pieces we saw back at the first press preview in June have been expanded on, creating an extensive edit that particularly specialises in stripes, sweaters and swimwear - not to mention shirting and suiting.

It's a welcome addition to the British high-street which is increasingly seducing its shoppers with Scandi style.

Former BHS Boss To Be Prosecuted

The  battle of BHS continues this morning, as the Pensions Regulator has revealed it is to prosecute the ill-fated retail chain's former boss, Dominic Chappell, reports the BBC. He will be charged with "failing to provide information and documents the regulator requested during its investigation into the sale of BHS".

The history of the chain's demise is a complicated one. In 2015, Topshop owner Philip Green sold the brand from his Arcadia group to Chappell's Retail Acquisitions for £1. The following year, the collapse of the companyresulted in the loss of 11,000 jobs and a pension deficit of £571 million, leaving many employees who had worked at the company for years without any financial compensation.

In June last year, Green and Chapelle were summoned before the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee and Work and Pensions Committee to answer questions surrounding the demise of the high-street retailer. Green said he would not take responsibility for the store's closure, but apologised to his former employees and vowed to help resolve the pension deficit. Following warning notices that were sent out last November which outlined why the regulator believed they should both pay into the pension schemes, Green agreed to hand over £363 million in cash to the BHS pension scheme.

Chappell will now appear at Brighton Magistrates' Court on September 20 to face three charges of neglecting or refusing to provide information and documents, without a reasonable excuse. On news of Chappell's prosecution, chair of the committee Frank Field said: "If The Pensions Regulator is frightened of landing the whale, I suppose going after the sprat is the next best thing. Why was Sir Philip Green allowed to get away with an inadequate settlement, in which pensions have been cut, yet Dominic Chappell is going to be sued? I'll be consulting the House of Commons' lawyers on when I can begin to unlock that puzzle, so that Mr Chappell has a fair trial."

What Amal Clooney Wears To Work Out In

Known for her immaculate workwear, Amal Clooney has never been photographed in anything but her designer power uniform, let alone her gym kit. Until now.

Continuing her holiday in Lake Como, the human rights lawyer stepped out to play tennis with husband George Clooney. At first glance, her work-out kit - a Sundek logo top, loosely-pleated miniskirt, box-fresh white trainers and matching socks - looked no less considered than her nine-to-five wardrobe. Monochrome, clean-cut, with just an ounce of femininity via that flouncy skirt.

It was her headwear - a blue-and-black visor with straw peak - that caused us to linger a little longer on the sporting snap. Shielding her make-up free complexion, this - along with the hair piled atop her head and left wavy - is the most natural we have ever seen the lawyer.

As noted again this August when the couple stepped out for a parents-only evening at restaurant Il Gatto Nero, Clooney wears her new motherhood well. Could the Sundek vest, which retails for just $39, be a sign of more laid-back style to come?

How Elvis Presley's Style Lives On

Priscilla Presley couldn’t have timed it better. In a season where Elvis’ wardrobe is being referenced far and wide, his family – marking the 40th anniversary of the King’s death this week – has announced plans for a sprawling show at the O2 in November exhibiting his most memorable tour costumes and guitars from 1969 to 1977, in all their shiny, sparkly glory.

“This carefully curated selection of over 200 artefacts from the Graceland archives will give [people] the opportunity to gain an even greater insight into his life and how he impacted popular culture around the world through his music, movies and personal style,” Priscilla said in a statement.

Nothing could be more appropriate in fashion times currently rich on the rock‘n’roll Americana embodied by Elvis’ stage wardrobe. When he wore his legendary head-to-toe black leather outfit for the Elvis comeback TV special in 1968, he got so hot they had to cut him out of it backstage.

50 years on, young Jonas Glöer looks a little less snug in the virtually identical leather look Raf Simons put him in for his autumn/winter 2017 Calvin Klein show. Simons showed an identical look on female model Lex Herl proving that The King’s style looks just as good on women.

The finest example of that is from London’s new hope Michael Halpern, who graduated from Central Saint Martins last year and consults on Atelier Versace.

Halpern’s super-flares and Studio 54 tailoring, meticulously sequinned by hand, nodded at some of Presley’s more flamboyant outings, like the disco ball blazer he wore during the same 1968 concert special as the leather look. From Elton John to Michael Jackson, you can see that jacket’s influence in the entertainers for whom Elvis paved the way — and it was never even meant to exist. When the singer’s costumier Bill Belew wanted to recreate a gold lamé outfit made for him by Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors in 1957, Elvis protested. “I always hated that suit and I won’t wear it,” the King declared. Instead, the sequinned jacket came to be.

For his swansong at Givenchy, Riccardo Tisci dedicated his spring/summer 2017 couture collection to Americana. This was the flared, feathered, fantastical prairie-verse ingrained in Elvis’ own idea of the Land of the Free: cowboys’ clothes elevated to bubblegum confections.

At her cruise 2018 show in the Calabasas desert, Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiurialso drew on the American pioneer look and Native American adornment so entrenched in the classic cowboy uniform, mined by Elvis’ dressmaker for his fabulous costumes.

Just look at the embroidery of his perhaps most famous costume, the so-called Indian Feather Jumpsuit. Or the cape the singer wore with his white knight jumpsuit in the Aloha From Hawaii special in 1973, which was really more rooted in the Mexican poncho than superhero uniforms. An intricate thing embellished with gems in the shape of an American eagle, the cape went missing during dress rehearsals (Elvis threw it into the audience) and so, Bill Belew had to make another one in record time. That cape ended up getting its own first-class seat on a last-minute flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu, and the rest is history.
At Pierpaolo Piccioli’s Valentino, the American eagle, of course, has long been a staple back patch on coats that would make a modern-day Elvis swoon. Off-stage, the singer embodied a rather more casual take on the American wardrobe. His suede jackets, rolled-up dark blue jeans, and Fifties camp shirts (sometimes substituted for denim or rodeo numbers) were really very Prada – or vice versa – and lo and behold if Miuccia Prada wasn’t one of the designers to make a case for the return of the jumpsuit for the spring/summer 2018 men’s shows.

Elvis impersonators shouldn’t get too excited, however: fashion’s modern-day incarnation is rather less flamboyant than what their hero wore on stage. Prada’s recalled the uniforms of race car drivers, while at Lanvin, Lucas Ossendrijver showed a rather luxe boiler suit. Either way, though, Elvis lives.

The Enduring Appeal Of Thomas Burberry's Iconic Check

If post-irony is the buzzword for our time, nothing quite nails it like the return of the Burberry check. “I have never met her,” Christopher Bailey admitted when I asked him about Danniella Westbrook, the most infamous Burberry check fan. In 2002, she was famously photographed wearing it head-to-toe with her toddler daughter in a matching buggy. “Should I?” he smiled.

Come spring, Westbrook’s dreams will come true once more as the British fashion institution’s check-tastic collaboration with Russian streetwear designer Gosha Rubchinskiy hits stores.

Around the urban landscape, you may have noticed, early adaptors are already digging out their early Noughties check shirts - a testament to the power of the new-generation social media designers hooked on Nineties nostalgia to whom Rubchinskiy belongs. Needless to say, the Burberry partnership came as a surprise when it first walked down Rubchinskiy’s runway in St Petersburg in June.

"You know, I have never been snotty about it, because I feel that’s a very important part of our history," Christopher Bailey told me before the show as I quizzed him on a topic once presumed off-limits. In the UK it took Burberry years to elevate itself from the hooligan element who had adopted the brand’s prestigious tartan as their trademark but the check meant different things to different people.

Across the Atlantic, Burberry’s check became the power emblem of hip hop culture. “The only time you wear Burberry to swim”, Jay-Z serenaded Beyoncé in '03 Bonnie & Clyde from 2002. She sizzled in a check bikini in the video, just years after Ja Rule sported a Burberry bucket hat in his and Ashanti’s Always on Time clip.

In the late Nineties, the Burberry check made a trendy revival courtesy of the logo wave, which was taking fashion by storm - from Gucci belts to Chanel bags and every logo in between. Madonna, circa mid-highlands florals-and-tweeds phase, dressed her daughter Lourdes Leon in a Burberry kilt, and some of us may have saved up for the famous check golf trousers and worn them to school. Meanwhile, in 1999, designer Miguel Adrover put an avant-garde spin on it showing inside out Burberry macs re-cut as day dresses.

It all culminated in Burberry’s spring/summer 2000 campaign starring Kate Moss in a Scottish-style wedding party entirely checked out in the Burberry tartan.

Rubchinskiy's 2018 take fuses European football culture with the drab but ingenious youth culture he experienced growing up in post-Soviet Moscow in the Nineties. "I see Burberry as the perfect thing for now, for us,” he told me after the show in June, although he kept his references vague. "I only reflect what I see and know in Russia. English people know more about chavs. But I have football fan friends, who are a generation older than me, and they were all about Burberry.”

Christopher Bailey watched from the front row as Rubchinskiy brought back to life this most chequered era of Burberry’s past, re-appropriating it for a new generation of fashion fans to whom Daniella Westbrook is a post-ironic legend. As for his collaboration with Rubchinskiy, Bailey told me it took him back to his early beginnings at the brand. "It’s why I was excited to join this company. I was very familiar with the fact that someone like that," he said, referring to the Danniella Westbrook stereotype, "or someone like the Queen, or like my granddad, or like me as a young fashion student, would go to jumble sales and look for trench coats. It crosses different privileged backgrounds, working class backgrounds, cultures, subcultures, music, the arts, football, sports, and I love that diversity. I think it’s what makes Britishness British."

Friday, August 18, 2017

From Supreme to Selfridges: The Cult of Fashion Merchandise

As Supreme's autumn/winter 2017 drop arrives in stores, comprising everything from branded blimps to Box logo chopsticks, Olivia Singer examines the cult of merchandise taking over fashion.

There are few brands who have had such an immediately visible impact on contemporary fashion as Supreme, the American streetwear brand that has made it cool to queue around the block for launches and resurrected the value of scarcity, collaborating with everyone from Comme des Garçons to Louis Vuitton. Last year, they released a red clay brick stamped with their Box logo – and, priced at $30, it sold out within minutes. Today, they are dropping a new batch of branded novelty goods in stores alongside their autumn/winter 2017 collection, the likes of which includes a set of chopsticks, a collapsible shovel and a sled. It is the ultimate example of fashion merchandise: essentially, banal basics printed with a logo and put on sale before they subsequently fly off the shelves.

The merch phenomenon is hardly limited to Supreme; at the start of this week, Raf Simons started selling a roll of duct tape – the sort that fastened together the clothes of his autumn/winter 2017 catwalk collection – for $200. It comes in black and white, with the phrases “RSVP YOUTH PROJECT” and “WALK WITH ME” printed upon it, and is strangely covetable (if only for its strangeness). When Balenciaga took over Coletteduring Paris Menswear Fashion Week, they produced a bespoke series of mugs, sleepmasks and lighters which sold out within a matter of hours, designed in the same spirit as their autumn/winter 2017 collection which riffed on the theme of branding; Louis Vuitton currently has everything in store from monogrammed yo-yos and ping pong bats, to skipping ropes and spinning tops. Virgil Abloh of OFF-WHITE even designed a tracksuit sold on Travis Scott’s tour earlier this year reading the word itself: “MERCHANDISE.” While the success of a monogram is nothing new, explicitly branded luxury goods are clearly trending like never before, and building the same cultural cachet as insider band T-shirts – but why?

“Merchandise allows individuals to be aligned to a particular sect or tribe... it’s a very direct and immediate way to communicate,” explains Yang Li, whose capsule brand SAMZIDAT is explicitly inspired by the ephemera commonly found at gigs, and translates that aesthetic into garments alongside the novelty goods that are catching on so readily: mugs, lighters, patches. “That’s just part of the offering of a well-equipped merch stand at any gig,” he says, “it’s become part of the culture for bands to propose odd items.”

“Music is always a thread running through every element of the fashion industry,” continues Heather Gramston, Selfridges’ Womenswear Buying Manager, who is at the fore of the department store’s Music Matters campaign, an initiative that has been designed to explicitly tap into the merchandise phenomenon. “We’ve seen the relationship between fashion and music become closer – and in some ways more literal – over the past three or four seasons with the success of tour merch, but also with high fashion brands playing with recognisable merch codes and references in their ready-to-wear collections.”

It seems that what contemporary consumers are demanding from luxury fashion is a visible affiliation with a group of people, something once reserved for people wearing Nirvana T-Shirts or tour hoodies. These certainly aren’t necessities, or even practical purchases – who even knows what a collapsible shovel is – but queuing around the block to buy one invites you into a world of like-minded consumers, allows you to stamp your interior, your paraphernalia, your entire world, with the markers of your chosen tribe. Such a statement is a tangible and explicit shorthand for your personal values and it appears that, in the digital age, that sense of intimate, physical connection reigns supreme.

Avenue 32 Closes Down

E-commerce fashion site Avenue 32 has ceased operations.“After six wonderful years, we have decided to focus on new projects," the holding image on the site reads, "and so, sadly, is now closed. Thank you for being such loyal customers.”

Earlier this month Drapers reported that the fashion site had cancelled ordersfor autumn/winter 2017 and would place no new orders for spring/summer 2018. In June the fashion site had announced it was up for sale following a “strategic review of the business” in order to “improve its long-term positioning”.

The news comes after the e-commerce platform ceased UK press operations in June, and as rivals - including and - have gained extensive ground in the luxury e-commerce space, announcing lucrative investments and major technology innovations in recent months.

Founder Roberta Benteler set up the label in 2011 at the age of 26, finding a niche in offering emerging designers the platform to sell their collections online. In March this year, she told Miss Vogue about her inspiration to start the business that not only brought her business fame, but secured her own credentials as a fashion influencer.

"Coming from a family of entrepreneurs and starting my career in finance were hugely important to me, as it gave me the confidence and the discipline to start my own business," she said. "That, together with a huge passion for fashion, and the naivety of a 26-year-old slightly under estimating the size of the project I was taking on!"

Topshop Appoints New Co-Ed Creative Director

Topshop and Topman have appointed a new creative director who will oversee both the womenswear and menswear labels, the brand announced this afternoon. David Hagglund, who will start in the newly created role on September 4, replaces Kate Phelan and Gordon Richardson in the new position.

"The appointment of David Hagglund in the newly combined role continues to mark the start of a new era for Topshop and Topman in moving both brands forward in their ongoing global expansion," said owner Philip Green this afternoon. "I am delighted to welcome David, who will be joining Paul Price, our new CEO, on the same day and I look forward to working with them both to drive the business forward."

The company said that Phelan and Richardson will leave the business later this year. "The Arcadia Group would like to thank them for their contribution and commitment to both brands over a number of years," read a statement.

Hagglund joins the international retailer from his own creative agency in Sweden where he worked with brands including H&M and Hugo Boss, prior to which he was managing director at Swedish advertising agency Storakers McCann and art director at Vogue Paris.

His appointment comes a month after Topshop recruited its new CEO from Burberry HQ. Paul Price, who was chief merchandising officer at the luxury British fashion house, had been with Burberry for over a decade, where he was in charge of all product in womenswear, menswear, accessories and childrenswear. He, like Hagglund, will also commence his new role on September 4th.

Why We're Excited About The Return of American Apparel

There are few items as indispensable within my wardrobe as an American Apparel bodysuit: scoop-backed, plunge-necked, long and short sleeved, always black. They are machine-washable (up to about 20 wears, when they start to get a bit faded and are thus relegated to my secondary stash), crease-resistant, ethically made, cheap enough that you can buy a job lot of four with no shame and stretchy enough to work as travel wear.

I have worn them under every single one of my favourite skirts, beneath all my best trousers, to every fashion week, on abundant long-haul flights. A deep V-neck bodysuit worn beneath an Alaïa blazer and a Prada pencil skirt is my failsafe example of executive realness. When, after a protracted media frenzy, American Apparel finally closed their stores in April, I went into blind panic and bought them in bulk. But, as of last night, American Apparel is back.

Its return to the world of fashion has been stealthy, communicated primarily through newsletters to ardent customers signposting the quiet revival of an E-shop proclaiming that “we’re back… to basics.”

Now under the direction of Canadian brand Gildan Activewear, who bought the company for $88 million earlier this year, it has abandoned its Made-In-America premise in lieu of a tightly curated “globally made” offering utilising GA’s supply chain (a more expensive, eight-piece capsule collection manufactured domestically is still available).

It is a curious proposition, one which roots the brand in its stretchy activewear and sexy basics rather than the resolutely ethical Americanism upon which it was founded. It raises the question: how much do people actually care about where their clothes are made? Enough to pay an extra $10 for a hoodie?

“At American Apparel we’ve always believed in sweatshop-free and ethical manufacturing,” reads the new website. “We’ve also always believed that border lines are pointless.” Whether such a belief is authentically political, or simply well-spun cost-cutting, remains to be seen. I’m hoping that, by the time they’ll ship my bodysuits to the UK, there’ll be an answer. My bulk buy is fading fast.

Matches Fashion Announces Expansion

Matches fashion has announced this morning that it is to open a new 24,000sq ft home in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to house its growing content creation operations. The new creative hub will be situated at Here East; have up to 20 photography bays and video sets, as well as a new media studio space to create its e-commerce editorial (including shoppable editorial videos); and will boost its studio output to more than 2000 products per week - a 50 per cent increase from current production.

“Storytelling is such an important part of what we do and how we engage with our customer and service our brand partners through elevated content creation – we are renowned for the content we produce in house and the seamless integration with commerce," said CEO Ulric Jerome. "This move to Here East, and our investment in a new creative hub, will help us to achieve our plans to generate even more innovative and engaging content for our brands and our customer. We forecast that this move will not only attract new talent but create more than 150 jobs within four years. This is yet another exciting step forward for the business as we continue to scale”

The company's latest move comes after a string of impressive financial results. In January, it revealed sales were up 82 per cent in the six weeks to January 8, while in March it confirmed it was enjoying a 61 per cent year-on-year growth with total online sales for 2016 up by 73 per cent, reports theBoF.

The fashion retailer, which still has three bricks-and-mortar stores in Marylebone, Notting Hill and Wimbledon, is not the only prestigious name to be attracted to the area, which was originally developed for the 2012 Olympic Games. The London College of Fashion is prepping to permanently move there from its Oxford Circus base in 2021; while the V&A and Sadler's Wells have also secured spots on the site.

“Here East is unique in providing the space and infrastructure for entrepreneurs, global businesses and academics to come together and collaborate in the pursuit of innovation," said Gavin Poole, CEO of Here East. "’s decision to join our community of innovators, start-ups and tech specialists is exciting for the whole campus and further realises our vision for different sectors to come together and collaborate. The renaissance of fashion in East London has given rise to an emergent fashion cluster and it is driven, in part, by the growth in digital creativity.

It's yet another encouraging sign of growth for the retailer (which remains under the majority ownership of its founders Tom and Ruth Chapman), following its announcement earlier this year that it is opening a new showroom in Carlos Place in Mayfair. It also comes at a time when several of its competitors are upping their game in the digital fashion space. So far, 2017 has been an expansive time for, which absorbed the Condé Nast-owned in a deal with the publisher earlier this year, while the same can be said for LVMH, which announced its first fully fledged e-commerce platform,, in June.

Ugg Taps Jeremy Scott

He is known for his reinterpretation of cult items through his eponymous and Moschino catwalk shows, but Jeremy Scott's latest project will bring his bling to the masses. The LA-based designer has collaborated with they of cloud-like comfort Ugg to create an exclusive capsule collection using the brand's classic silhouettes and imbuing them with his signature statement embellishment. The pairing is, as the designer revealed today, a symbiotic one.

“I bought a pair of Ugg Classic boots and fell in absolute love with them. I could not pass up the opportunity to do my own take on the classic boot,” said Scott, who has created eight styles for women, men and children.

“Jeremy Scott and the Ugg brand share a mutual spirit, love for pop culture and California,” agreed Andrea O’Donnell, president of fashion lifestyle brands at Ugg owner Deckers. “We are honoured to collaborate with him for this fall and launch a collection that stars our iconic Classic boots reinterpreted by Jeremy in his own unique way."

There are plenty of unique elements to the collection - including the fact that on the new Classic Short Jewel style, each pair is made entirely by hand and takes up to one week to complete, explaining the price point which starts at an accessible £75 and rises to £995.

Ugg x Jeremy Scott launches on September 15 at select Ugg stores worldwide and Harrods, London.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Tom Ford On Returning To What Works

Tom Ford  has never been a designer to shy away from contention which, in addition to his cinematic work and eye-catching campaigns, was most recently witnessed when he ditched the see-now, buy-now model he was one of the first to pioneer and announced his return to the New York Fashion Week schedule in September. But as much as it marks a return to his tried-and-tested way of showing (he revealed that the retail-to-runway model hindered valuable editorial coverage earlier this year), the designer told New York Magazine this week that we can expect his signatures to shine.

"I have a very defined customer and a very defined look. I’m seeing a lot of collections I did in the Nineties referenced by other designers, and I look at that and I say, 'How interesting, maybe I should remember what it was that I was all about and go back'," he said. "That’s what this September’s show will be about. I hope that I’m returning to what I’ve always believed in, but in a new way. You will always have moments when you are more in fashion and less in fashion, and if you don’t stay true to yourself, you will lose your way. Hopefully I will look like what I’ve always looked like."

In addition to analysing his own aesthetic, Ford is confident to comment on what his contemporaries are up to - especially when it comes to the controversial topic of the ironically fun-sounding "Fashion Musical Chairs".

"This whole musical-chairs thing that’s going on now at brands I find so dangerous," he said. "I think Riccardo Tisci is brilliant, and he was doing a terrific job at Givenchy. I have no idea why he’s gone. Nicolas Ghesquière was doing a great job at Balenciaga. When the customer identifies with a brand and then you flip the designer and a new one comes in, how does that brand have consistency over time? How does it mean something? And with the number of collections that we’re expected to do now - before I show this one, I’m already working on that one - how is that supposed to work? It’s crazy. Maybe people will start longing for something that is not as disposable, but I really don’t know. I don’t think anyone knows."

What he does know, however, is how to target his customers around the world in different ways by tailoring his famously provocative campaign images for each market.

"There’s a real tightening in America," he revealed. "When we’d shoot an ad campaign, we used to shoot for the world, and then we’d shoot a Middle East version because there are certain rules, like a man can’t touch a woman and everyone has to be clothed. But now we shoot three versions: We shoot the world version, the conservative version, and the Middle East version. The conservative version is for America."

The Fashion Awards To Return To The Royal Albert Hall

This  year's Fashion Awards in partnership with Swarovski will return to the grandiose venue of the Royal Albert Hall, the BFC announced this morning. Following last year's extravagant inaugural event under its new name, which also saw a shake-up in the accolades being presented, this year's ceremony promises the same spectacle when it takes place on Monday, December 4th.

This year's award categories - which will be voted for by a panel of fashion-industry professionals - were also announced this morning and are as follows:

British Designer of the Year - Womenswear
British Designer of the Year - Menswear
Accessories Designer of the Year
British Emerging Talent – Womenswear (including accessories)
British Emerging Talent – Menswear (including accessories)
Business Leader
Model of the Year
Urban Luxury Brand
Designer of the Year

There will also be three special-recognition awards which will be presented on the night but announced beforehand. These are The Outstanding Achievement Award; the Swarovski Award for Positive Change; and the Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator.

"Last year, we set the goal of raising £10million in 10 years to educate talented young people. The resounding success of last year's awards, as a spectacular gala to honour so many incredible individuals and also as a fundraiser, reinforces that this is a target that the industry supports. Swarovski and the BFC share the goal to promote, support and educate talent," said BFC chairman Natalie Massenet today of the ceremony, which is the primary fundraiser for its Education Foundation. "We thank Swarovski for their generosity in supporting The Fashion Awards and our Education Foundation and look forward to welcoming the fashion industry on December 4th in London."

To support the foundation, Swarovski has pledged £300,000 to ensure "that young talent has access to the best education available, regardless of financial background", read a press release today, which came with a request to encourage the wider fashion industry to also donate at "By raising funds for the BFC Education Foundation each year, The Fashion Awards aims to secure a sustainable lifeline for the future generation of the industry, whose ability to study is impacted by the current level of tuition fees and living expenses."

"An essential part of Swarovski's mission is to nurture young designers and invest in the next generation of fashion talent," said member of the Swarovski Executive Board Nadja Swarovski. "Our mission aligns brilliantly with the British Fashion Council and The Fashion Awards, as these awards are both a celebration of the best in global fashion, and a vital platform to raise funds for the BFC's Education Foundation. Young designers are the heartbeat of our business, and it's up to all of us to foster and champion their visions to keep our industry thriving."

As well as Swarovski, the event has also secured big-name sponsorship from American Express, which will offer its card members an exclusive 72 hour pre-sale window to buy tickets to sit in the audience from August 15. After that, general sale tickets will be available from August 18th, on

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Ralph & Russo On Its First RTW Collection

British couture brand Ralph & Russo has shared its excitement about showing its first-ever ready-to-wear collection at London Fashion Week. The brand, headed up by Michael Russo and Tamara Ralph, is usually a regular on the Paris Couture Fashion Week schedule, but will bring its inimitable signature to the capital where it is based come September 15th. 

“With London being a cosmopolitan hub, we couldn’t think of a better place to launch our first ready-to-wear offering," said Russo today. "We continue to listen to the demand of our customer and the market, which will continue to fuel the expansion of the R&R product and universe."

It's a savvy move from the brand (favoured by Angelina Jolie) which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, during which time it has cemented its reputation as one of the hottest tickets in Paris and the worlds of couture and ready-to-wear to merge like never before in customers' wardrobes. A release from the label this afternoon said that its "first RTW collection will remain true to its brand DNA and heritage whilst expressing itself as an independent extension of the Ralph & Russo offering".

Praise came from British Fashion Council CEO Caroline Rush today, who said that she was "delighted to welcome Ralph & Russo to the London Fashion Week schedule. The craftsmanship behind their couture collection is a shining example of Britain’s artisanal heritage, and I’m excited to see their debut ready to wear collection."

The brand will be one of many new faces at the showcase next month, as Giorgio Armani and Tommy Hilfiger are both slated to join proceedings.

How Alibaba Has Turned The Tables Around

Alibaba, China's largest e-commerce platform, has made major headway in the last week to dispel the notion that it is a facilitator of counterfeit designer goods and solidify its position as a lead player on the international luxury fashion field.

Firstly, it announced last week that it has partnered with Kering to work together to stop rogue sellers profiting from illegally selling fakes on its numerous platforms (a major development, considering Kering and Alibaba have been locked in a legal tangle since 2015 when the French fashion conglomerate sued the latter twice for allegedly selling counterfeit versions of items from its stable of fashion houses that includes Gucci, Saint Laurent and Balenciaga). As per a report in the New York Times, the businesses released a joint statement in which they said "that they would establish a task force to share information and work with law enforcement to protect Kering’s brands", as well as "make use of Alibaba’s technology to seek out fakes".

Then, as a part of its "New Retail" plan, last week it created a special luxury pavilion on one of its most popular subsites, Tmall. Before now, luxury brands - while eager to target Chinese consumers who are increasingly investing in luxury at home and online - were hesitant to sell on the platform, which sells everything from food to fashion, as it could potentially be positioned alongside products that they felt were a bad match (like alcohol, pet food or medicine). By creating an environment that allows luxury houses to distance themselves from such brands and potential counterfeiters alike, as well as giving them access to the consumer market, Tmall boasted brands such as Burberry, La Mer, Hugo Boss, Maserati and Guerlain at launch, reports

Now, it has partnered with the Marriot Hotel Group to offer members of its new luxury loyalty programme access to benefits offered by both businesses. “Consumers today, things have completely changed. More and more young consumers not only want to find goods and services, they are searching for a more spiritual side to stuff; they want to go everywhere in the world and have experiences,” Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang said today, reports WWD. “There has been a lot of discussion about this ‘New Retail’ strategy but it all starts with the customers. Ultimately, it’s our job to bring new exposure to consumers, whether it’s a brand, experiences, services. It’s about giving consumers what they want.”

It's a far cry from last year when the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC) suspended the membership of Alibaba, one week after brands including Kering-owned Gucci, Michael Kors and Tiffany & Co were said to have departed the coalition as a direct result of its being admitted, saying that they felt it was a part of the problem. At the time, Jennifer Kuperman, head of international corporate affairs at Alibaba Group, said that "the only way to solve the complex, industry-wide issue of counterfeiting is through strong industry collaboration and we believe that intermediaries, like Alibaba, must be an integral part of the solution."

The last week's worth of announcements show that working together to help achieve a common goal is a concept that's certainly catching on.

Peter Marino Says His Look Is "A Decoy"

While Peter Marino is most respected for his architectural talents, he is most recognisable by his distinctive sartorial style. But, according to the designer, the latter is "a decoy".

"Would you think you're talking to a bright architect looking at a guy like me?" the designer told 60 Minutes this weekend, adding that people shouldn't underestimate his mathematical clout just because he pays close attention to his appearance. "I had to get my license, and you gotta keep your license up-to-date. You have to take 18 credits a year. That's the hardest part. You gotta keep taking courses. Dude, they don't let you forget it."

A Fashion Week regular, Marino has worked for the biggest names in the industry, designing their shop spaces and architecting customer experiences for premises all over the world - Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Dior to name only a few - which demands a deft touch and an alternate view of the references that inspire him, as he told the show.

"I like more the fact that I like to think out-of-the-box," he said, when asked if he enjoyed people questioning his wardrobe tastes. "Thinking out-of-the-box goes along with dressing out-of-the-box and living out-of-the-box. If you want to come up with a really original design idea and you want to capture a whole new design direction, perhaps the best way to arrive at that is not by acting and thinking and doing like everybody else. That's all."

You Have To See Rihanna’s Barbados Carnival Outfit

Rihanna debuted a new turquoise hair do over the weekend, and yesterday she donned full festival regalia to fete the annual Crop Over festival in her native Barbados.

The pop star wore a bejewelled bikini with matching diamante jewellery, body gems and huge plumed wings for the colourful harvest celebration. Crystal-flecked fishnet tights and bright turquoise nail varnish finished the head-to-toe look, which the singer shared with fans via Instagram.

While the vibrant fiesta outfit recalls Rihanna's previous Barbadian carnival regalia, it is certainly a departure from her recent public appearances surrounding the Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets promo tour, and her political work promoting education in impoverished countries.

Just last week Rihanna's Clara Lionel Foundation implemented a bike-sharing scheme to help girls in Malawi get to school safely. Earlier in July, she visited Paris' Elysée Palace to discuss French President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to aid the global education fund.

Her business-ready Balenciaga ensemble was ions away from the frothy couture dresses she wore on the Valerian red carpets, and her Barbados party ensemble another example of her chameleon-like style. Because if there's one person that can keep us on our toes, it's Rihanna.

Who’s Behind Celine Dion’s Couture Bag Prank?

When Dior posted an Instagram picture of Celine Dion carrying a Dior bag stamped with the word Céline above it, we thought – for a mere moment – that two of the most esteemed French fashion houses had collaborated on a bespoke accessory for the singer and couture fanatic.

Of course, no such accessory magic happened. The image, originally taken at the Dior Couture autumn/winter 2017 show on July 3, was doctored by fashion prankster Reilly. The artist superimposed the word Céline onto the bag to provoke “LOLs” on social media.

Similar spoof posts, such as Celine Dion starring as the face of Céline, or Chloë Sevigny as Chloé’s latest campaign star, have earnt the artist almost 60,000 Instagram followers.

If nothing else, the parody reminds us of Dion’s couture renaissance, a passion that earnt the singer her own hashtag “#celinetakescouture” at the recent couture shows. She might not have orchestrated a Dior X Céline tie-up, but she’s been a breath of fresh air on the scene of late. 

Bianca Balti Marries In Custom Dolce & Gabbana

Dolce & Gabbana darling Bianca Balti wed fiancé Matthew McRae on August 1 wearing a bespoke lace design by the Italian fashion house. Pictures of the nuptials at California’s Laguna Beach Ranch emerged on social media yesterday, as guests praised the bride’s beauty.

Widely known as one of Dolce & Gabbana’s leading ladies, having starred in campaigns and walked the runway shows for over 10 years, it’s no surprise that the Italian model looked to the brand for her big day.

Stefano Gabbana, who was in attendance, captioned his Instagram pictures of the bespoke gown, which featured voluminous cropped sleeves and an empire silhouette, “#DG family”, emphasising the close friendship between the brand founders and Balti. The Sports Illustrated star, who launched her debut swimwear line in June,made her vows alongside her two daughters, Matilde Lucidi and Mia McRae, who also wore white lace.

Hedi Slimane: "Design Will Always Be An Option"

There  may still be a role in fashion on the cards for Hedi Slimane yet. The former Saint Laurent creative director didn’t rule out a return to the industry in an interview for the August issue of Vogue Italia.

"Going back to design will always be an option, as long as I stay loyal to my principles, and keep protecting the integrity of my work," he told Vogue Italia editor-at-large Luke Leitch.

Slimane joined Saint Laurent for the second time in 2012 - his first stint as director of menswear ready-to-wear ended when he left for Dior - when he underwent a "Reform Project" of the 56-year-old fashion house. Four years later in April 2016, Slimane was out and Anthony Vaccarello was in as creative director, but not before he had put his stamp on the brand: he dropped the "Yves" from the ready-to-wear label; established a design base in LA, 9,000km away from the Rue de L’Université where the brand had been based since 1961; and changed the overall aesthetic of both the advertising campaigns and brick-and-mortar store interiors.

However, being a designer wasn’t always the plan for Slimane. "Very early on, probably at age 13, I had this fantasy of working for Le Monde, the French national newspaper as a reporter," he said, admitting that his style of photography is credited with a type of "perpetual photo reportage".

Parisian-born Slimane, who has lived in Los Angeles since 2007, also cited his two hometowns as his inspiration in both art and fashion, along with Berlin and London where he spent a lot of time with British musicians.

"I documented extensively what, for me, was one of the most exciting times in music," he said. "Dior Homme shows from 2005 were exclusively filled with this magnificent legion of UK bands, and the fashion I was designing was somehow dedicated to them, a stage wardrobe."

Since his departure, rumours have circulated almost monthly about where the former Saint Laurent designer will head next. Even though his primary focus is now on his photography and art career, his latest interview with Vogue Italia editor-at-large Luke Leitch has fanned the flames once again.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Introducing Reserved: The Polish High-Street Brand Kate Moss Is Backing

Kate Moss has introduced us to a new high-street brand: Reserved. The Polish store will launch in London on September 6, and ahead of the Oxford Street store opening its doors, Reserved has released a teaser image of Moss modelling its wares.

Naturally, Moss gives the clothing – a black PVC mini skirt and logo tee – her signature, mussed-up, rock ‘n’ roll aesthetic, so what else can we expect from Reserved? The Polish export already has 450 stores across 18 countries, and is popular due to its trend-conscious, affordable collections that are refreshed every two weeks. It’s part of the LPP Group, a European clothing conglomerate that is serious about expansion.

Speaking about the UK launch, co-founder and CEO Marek Piechocki commented: “The opening of Reserved Oxford Street is an important move for us. London is a fashion capital and having a presence in this prestigious location will be another step towards building global recognition of Reserved as a brand and LPP as a company.”

The next few weeks will see the brand drop more campaign imagery of Moss, all shot by Daniel Jackson. The recruitment of the model is a deft tactic to put Reserved’s European aesthetic into context for Londoners – those who still look to Moss for fashion inspiration.

“It was important for us to portray the personal, private and authentic attitude of Kate in this imagery - this is what the Reserved brand embodies, both style and individuality,” said global marketing director of the brand, Monika Kaplan.

Reserved is not the only European store to join the British high street this summer. H&M’s latest brand, Arket, will also open on Oxford Street on August 25, with a focus on sustainability, durability and quality within the same minimalist Nordic aesthetic as COS and & Other Stories, the successful Swedish brands already in H&M’S repertoire.Arket: The Ideal Everyday Uniform.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Designer Behind Rihanna’s 'Loyalty' Look

By now you will have seen Rihanna and Kendrick Lamar’s Bonnie and Clydeantics in music video ‘LOYALTY’. The duo are plunged into various surreal and dangerous situations – the edge of a high-rise building, a car chase – in order to demonstrate Lamar’s dedication to his lady, as well as defending his own honour, during the duration of the hip hop track.

Dangling off a tower block and doing doughnuts in Lamar’s motor marks just another day in the office for Rihanna, who is currently on silver screens as shapeshifting cabaret performer Bubble in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Throughout the ‘LOYALTY’ video, which is directed by Dave Meyers & The Little Homies, she’s immaculate as Lamar’s racy right-hand woman.

Styled by Anna Trevelyan and Jahleel Weaver, Rihanna wears two main looks: a white fluffy jacket and lace-up dress by House of CB, and a black Agent Provocateur slip and matching Juun. J trench coat. It’s the latter Matrix-style jacket by Seoul Fashion Week star Juun. J that piqued our interest.

Having graduated from Esmod Seoul in 1992, Juun. J has been in the fashion industry for some time. He founded his first menswear label Lone Costume in 1999, and transformed it into his namesake brand in 2007. Over the years he’s honed his avant garde style of “street tailoring” into pieces that appeal to those looking for attitude with their outerwear. Rihanna, who is known for her love of menswear, was the perfect candidate for Juun. J’s moment in the hip hop spotlight.

Watch Lamar’s Twerk-heavy video, and start considering men’s designers in your winter coat planning now.

How Naomi Campbell Does Wedding Guest Style

Naomi Campbell attended the glamorous wedding of marketing manager Carol Sabbagha in Beirut, Lebanon, at the weekend wearing not one, but two standout gowns.

For the celebrations at Chateau Rweiss, Campbell looked to Ralph & Russo,the first British brand to be elected in almost 100 years by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in 2014. Pictured posing next to the bride, the model looked at home in a red-carpet-ready autumn/winter 2017 couture confection, a turquoise one-shoulder silk gown with dramatic thigh slit. A diamond headdress and cuff completed her ensemble.

The Vogue contributing editor was in glamorous company at the lavish Lebanon celebration. Tamara Ralph, who founded Ralph & Russo with partner Michael Russo in 2007, was captured in the photographs that emerged on social media alongside Victoria’s Secret star Izabel Goulart, who wore Zuhair Murad.

Campbell joined her fellow model in showing support for homegrown talent via a second gown – a heavily embroidered red-and-black dress with train – by Hussein Bazaza. The local couturier scooped up the Dubai Design & Fashion Council/Vogue 2015 Fashion Prize and has since been stocked on Farfetch and Moda Operandi.

A couture turn in a native designer and one of the bride’s own descent, Campbell does wedding guest dressing with a dash of diplomacy.

Victoria’s Secret Model Vita Sidorkina Marries In Italy

A celebrity-filled guest list descended on Italy's Amalfi Coast this weekend to watch Victoria’s Secret model Vita Sidorkina walk down the aisle to marry her long-term partner, Valerio Morabito.

The Russian model and her property mogul partner hosted a glamorous pre-party for guests at the Belmond Hotel Caruso - a former 11th-Century palace boasting picturesque views of the Mediterranean - before the ceremony on Saturday afternoon held at Ravello Cathedral, Duomo di Ravello, in the historic town's main square. Guests returned to the Belmond Hotel for a reception filled with dancing, performers and floral decorations.

The 23-year-old looked to Zuhair Murad to design the "dream dress" for her nuptials; a long-sleeved lace gown with a high neck, teamed with an intricate veil for the church portion of the celebrations. Bridesmaids wore light pink floor-length dresses to match the bride's bouquet.

Fellow models including Iris Van Berne, Melissa Tammerijn and Madison Headrick were among the guests at the weekend-long celebrations. Also in attendance was British socialite Tamara Beckwith, along with her Italian husband, Giorgio Veroni, and their children.

Sidorkina made her editorial debut in 2013 for Cream Magazine before she signed a contract with underwear brand Victoria's Secret in 2014, walking for the annual fashion show in November 2015. The model told followers it had been the "best day of our lives".

Alessandro Michele's Exclusive Collection For Harrods

Alessandro Michele´s exclusive collection and DIY service has launched today at Harrods in a garden-themed Gucci takeover.

The partnership between the Italian fashion house and the British department store plays host to the House DIY program in a garden-themed takeover. Inspired by Michele’s love of self-expression, customers are able to personalise selected products with decorative patches, bringing the "complete Gucci DIY offering" to the UK for the first time.

Artist Alex Merry has created illustrations of the possible customisation as inspiration for the customer’s personalisation needs.

"This Harrods Gucci collaboration allows our customers the rare opportunity to challenge their own personal creativity with the same eclectic spirit that Alessandro Michele has brought to fashion over the past few seasons," Harrods chief merchant Helen David told us. "Gucci aficionados will be able to personalise their own statement items, from bags and shoes to all facets of ready-to-wear, in the ultimate interactive design experience within the Gucci Garden at Harrods. This is a true world-first exclusive, bringing together the best of Gucci fashion and beauty at Harrods. We know our customers will be so excited by this partnership and we cannot wait for them to have fun immersing themselves in the whole Harrods Gucci experience letting their imaginations and creative streaks run wild."

Throughout the month-long partnership, Harrods will also host a limited-edition Gucci ready-to-wear collection designed by Alessandro Michele, along with Ace sneakers, women’s jewellery, and childrenswear dresses. A variety of accessories have also been exclusively created for the store, including a version of the Lilith handbag, with patches, and mini Dionysus and Sylvie bags in a multitude of colours.

In another first, Harrods will host the debut of Michele's first fragrance for women, Gucci Bloom, with a dedicated installation in the beauty hall with the windows at the Gucci Sloane and Old Bond Street boutiques mirroring the same design. The brand partnership sees the Brompton Road exhibition windows feature a Gucci Garden in full bloom with green and pink velvet capitone walls, floral compositions, vintage oriental rugs and pink mannequins showcasing exclusive Gucci evening gowns.

See an exclusive preview of all Alex Merry's inspiring illustrations, along with the collection of ready-to-wear garments below, on sale from tomorrow at Harrods.

The Gucci Garden was unveiled at Harrods on July 31 and will run throughout August. The Gucci Bloom fragrance is exclusively available in store and at, as well as Gucci London boutiques.

Meet Marine Serre, LVMH's Latest Prize Winner

Earlier this summer, the 25-year-old Corrèze-born designer Marine Serre won the LVMH Prize - one of the most prestigious awards for young designers in fashion - pocketing €300,000 and marking her place as fashion’s newest darling. She’d been sipping water behind the stage when she heard Rihanna announce her name at the awards ceremony in Paris. “That was a weird moment because I was really not expecting anything,” says Serre, speaking in the 18ème arrondissement apartment-slash-studio she and her team of two moved into a month after winning the Prize. “It was kind of magical.”

Serre stands just over five feet tall, with short, cropped hair that frames a sly smile. Her petite frame is hunched over a laptop next to her sister Justine when I arrive, and her demeanour is all business. Hanging on the far wall are the two collections responsible for her win, “15-21” and “Radical Call for Love,” designed during her student days at La Cambre-Mode in Brussels.

A jury of industry legends had decided her fate, among them Karl Lagerfeld(whose own career launched after winning a design prize in 1954) and Louis Vuitton’s Nicolas Ghesquière. Serre, who joined Balenciaga as a design assistant in March, hadn’t expected to win. In fact, she didn’t think she was established enough to apply in the first place, despite the interest in her graduate collection from such influential stockists as The Broken Arm boutique in Paris and H. Lorenzo in Los Angeles. It was a scout from the French luxury group who asked the designer in January to participate in the competition against 1,200 other hopefuls. “[Our decision] was quite unanimous,” Ghesquière told Vogue shortly after her name was read. “It was the way she represents dressing today: the sports clothes, the body consciousness, and a kind of romanticism and femininity. It really speaks of [this] generation.”

Serre thinks her win bodes well for emerging talent in an industry that is increasingly shaped by the corporate parent companies like LVMH and Kering that financially back the major fashion houses. “That this big and huge company is actually giving a chance to someone like me, who is independent of them… I think it gives a lot of hope to people,” says Serre. “It’s hard for a lot of designers today because things move so quickly. I don’t want to do it only to make money.”

Serre’s designs contain multitudes. The two collections she’s produced to date deftly combine a range of techniques, silhouettes and fabrics, from lycra and velcro to screen-printed moiré. Much of her genius lies in the details. The tag inside one especially remarkable coat, with an open collar that brings to mind the work of Cristóbal Balenciaga, reads: “Orange Recovery Blanket, Satin Ribbon, Brussels, 2015.” The lapels of another jacket are fastened by small, tear-drop shaped French porcelain doorknobs. Her pairing of colour is masterful, too: The bell sleeves of a tailored camel coat lined in a burnished orange, a kelly green sports top contrasted with a skirt of sky blue. Like that other great alchemist of colour, Raf Simons, Serre doesn’t draw. That is because she “never sees things flat,” she says. “It’s important for me that you should dress directly and see how it fits on someone real.”

While her collars and colour palettes are plenty worthy of admiration, it’s Serre’s adroit fusion of styles, periods and references - a mish-mash of karakous, kaftans and other 19th-century silhouettes, combined with the materials and cuts of Nineties sportswear - that makes her work unlike anything else on the runways. It’s encapsulated in the crescent moon that appears throughout “Radical Call for Love” - equal parts modern sports logo and Islamic art reference. The moon is also the symbol of the woman, and Serre revels in the plethora of meaning. “It’s something for me that is a beautiful form, and then in another way it’s referring to a sportswear brand. So it’s also just playing with what is fashion today and playing also with branding,” says Serre. “I think it’s really beautiful, I’m not making a joke. I have irony, but I also think irony can be serious.” She plans to use the symbol again in her next collection, which she’s hoping to debut in January 2018.

The initial inspiration for “Radical Call for Love” came from the terrorist attacks in Brussels and Paris between 2015-2016 and Serre’s desire to braid the tensions of the East and West into something beautiful - a peace offering of sorts. Serre lived in Marseille and Brussels before moving to Paris in September 2016. All of the clothing and shoes in the lineup - 35 designs in total, three that have been added since its initial debut at La Cambre - are made either in a little atelier in Brussels or in France. One thousand pieces from the collection will be stocked for Autumn/Winter 2017 by Dover Street Market and Opening Ceremony. Isabelle Huppert and Ariana Grande have both been photographed in pieces.

Buyers have been watching Serre with keen interest for months. Guillaume Steinmetz, Anaïs Lafarge, and Romain Joste, the three founders of The Broken Arm in Paris, say it’s difficult to explain what exactly drew them to the young designer, “because the collection of Marine has generated for us an irrational emotion,” they wrote in an e-mail to Vogue. “Ninety-nine percent of the time another designer who tried to mix this kind of fabric with this kind of colours will do something that is too much, but not with her, she is an equilibrist. You can't really explain or define why you like it. That's exactly what we are looking for, when it's a little bit uncomfortable, not easy to catch.”

The next few months will be big ones for the designer, who will leave her role at Balenciaga after its next show and put a team together to start on her next collection. (“Come on, I cannot have two jobs at the same time, it’s impossible!” she says with a laugh.) But first, a brief pause. After a year of mounting accolades, press requests and industry acclaim, Serre will take a much-needed holiday in the Pyrenees - with only the open sky and crescent moon for distraction.