Thursday, September 21, 2017

Faustine Steinmetz: The Weaving Maestro Doing Things Her Way

Three years ago Faustine Steinmetz was a girl who had taught herself to weave via YouTube tutorials. Now she’s hosting her first catwalk show at London Fashion Week.

“I thought I’d never do catwalk,” muses Faustine Steinmetz. The 31-year-old Paris-trained, east-London-based designer, who launched her eponymous brand at LFW in September 2014, has executed a series of thought-provoking exhibitions in recent seasons variously presenting her models in peep show-style Perspex cubes, in museum-like white alcoves covered with crystals and blue metallic body paint, or with disembodied limbs poking out of walls. For spring/summer 2018, however, she’s shedding the conceptual sets and instead placing the focus firmly back on her clothes.

“The last presentation, I didn’t enjoy on a personal level. I had to explain my work, and I thought, ‘I don’t want to be here’ – so it was time for a change, because otherwise it would show in the work,” Steinmetz says in her heavily accented tones, running her hands through her chin-length chocolate brown hair, in a preview days before her show at her east London studio. “I wasn’t overwhelmed – more bored. I needed another challenge, something more exciting. And the relief of being able to just take care of your clothes? I quite love that.”

This season she will focus on 10 items of clothing that she deems universal: a pair of jeans, a trench coat, a pair of tracksuit bottoms among them. She plans to reproduce these in different finishes and fabrications, for instance in hand-woven indigo from India which has been pulled apart; in denim fibres meshed onto tulle that’s been coated in little silicone waves with the texture of an artist’s palette; in hand-woven yarns that have been inspired by an old Burberry trench coat unearthed in a car boot sale. “It’s about repetition,” she says. “It explains what I want to do with my brand: I want to repeat just normal clothes and work on the textiles, and by the textiles, I can make them go beyond what they normally are.”

Steinmetz has always stuck to her guns - when she breezed through the reception of the LCF campus where I was waiting for her that morning, I had noted her purposeful walk. Also her natural rebelliousness: as we reached her studio, her pomerian, Buzz, hopped out of her canvas shoulder bag, seemingly out of nowhere. "He's not allowed in here, so I have to hide him," she giggled. Some of the strongest pieces in her spring collection continue what Steinmetz has set out to do ever since she bought a loom on a whim for £150 from the Handweavers Studio in Finsbury Park, and taught herself to weave from YouTube tutorials: they reenergise the artisan.

This season she’s excited about a technique whereby she has tweezered apart fibres from vintage pairs of jeans sourced from a shop in Whitechapel (“it’s closing! It’s the end of my business!” she jokes), refelted them and printed a pair of standard vintage jeans on top. “I love that it looks like it’s disappearing, as though it’s made in lace,” she says, delightedly.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing. Losing the LVMH prize in 2015 knocked her confidence significantly and forced her to question whether she was "even a fashion designer at all".

"I felt I'm not like the other designers - I take pieces that already exist and I remake them. It's quite a specific way of working for a designer. After I lost LVMH, I was so tired of the whole thing. And last season was the nail in the coffin. I tried for it to be commercial. I tried for it to be fashionable. I tried for it to be feminine. And in the end? I felt so unhappy. The clothes looked good, they were beautiful, I liked it - but is this what I envisioned when I was 15, imagining my brand? No."

Steinmetz's method doesn't negate a commercial model. In fact, she considers this collection her most commercial yet. "I think that’s why I’m so happy with this collection. What most people will wear is a normal pair of jeans. We’re making recycled denim – old pairs of jeans, reworked with a little twist. But when I do crazy fabrics, people want them too. So all my handwoven things, the silicone, I decided not to compromise any more and just do what I want."

She'll keep things in limited edition, because it's unsustainable not to, but that will just add to their cache. She barely pauses for breath. "Let's be radical. I'm not doing this for the money - although we do live from it. I'm doing this because it's a passion thing, since I was a kid. So I need to do it the way I want."

Faustine Steinmetz will show her spring/summer 2018 collection at LFW this Tuesday, September 19th.

Vogue Discusses: The Future of Fashion Shows

Vogue fashion news editor Julia Hobbs took over the British Vogue Facebook page alongside model activist Leomie Anderson and curator Shonagh Marshall to discuss the relevance, importance and future of fashion shows.Is the industry shifting towards new creative methods of premiering collections, or does thrill of the catwalk still hold strong? Can the runway even compete with social media anymore?

Watch the video from their exclusive London Fashion Week studio in Somerset House to find out the Vogue view on how the way we digest fashion is set to evolve, with or without the rigidity of a fashion week schedule.

Charting 15 Years Of On|Off

Supporting and showcasing emerging talent is a hallmark of London Fashion Week, and On|Off is one of its leading advocates. As the initiative celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, we spoke to its founder, Lee Lapthorne, to find out how things have changed, what designers should be doing now, and why sustainability is at the core of moving the industry on.

Congrats on your 15-year On|Off anniversary - what do you think are the platform's major accomplishments?

"15 years on, On|Off is thriving and this is a major achievement in its own right. It’s been a rollercoaster of a ride and I’m proud of our many successes and the designers we’ve supported along the way. The biggest accomplishment is watching them flourish, building brands and businesses, and gaining prestigious positions in global design houses."

Why is the LFW showcase so important to maintain?

"More than any other fashion capital, London offers emerging designers the chance to get noticed and to learn and earn their stripes. It’s a forgiving and supportive environment that enables new creatives to break through."

What changes have you seen?

"Now, more than ever, it’s a serious business and the industry expects designers to be totally professional from the off. They are also expected to consider sourcing their fabrics and manufacturing ethically. Fashion journalists want to know where designers are based and trading from, and their price ranges. 15 years ago the landscape was about experimentation, drama and freedom. London was known for its avant-garde approach to showcasing. The collections were sensational, dramatic art pieces with an underlining nod to our inherent dark London aesthetic. The only problem was that many of the designers were criticised for not being able to produce what they showcased on the catwalk due to lack of UK manufacturing support, but there was certainly an excitement to those shows. Now it seems focused on production and sales."

What challenges do you think emerging designers faced in 2002, and how are these challenges now?

"Many of the challenges of building a new business are the same: building a brand DNA; gaining financial support; and press recognition are all still key. Growing a social-media following is an obvious new challenge, but designers still seek affirmation from the press and need the media to help build followers. Another new challenge is the implications of Brexit on import and export duties, and of course immigration rules that are likely to affect the industry’s work force."

What do you think are the most important things for emerging designers to comprehend and learn?

"Write a business plan and then secure stockists or commissions, or consultancy work, to gain an income. It would be beneficial for graduates to have had lessons in business planning and to learn about the importance of strategic market research too."

How do you encourage emerging brands to be green and sustainable from the get go?

"Many of the designers I work with are sole traders and are working day to day on their own production. By its very nature, being a new designer requires them to be creative with limited resources. This often leads to sustainability. Obviously we all have a responsibility to care for how we are sourcing and as the company grows so does production. I understand that the BFC offers connections and introductions to companies able to support new designers in this area. They are also encouraging high-street brands to lead the way."

What pioneering ways can new brands break the mould?

"Many emerging designers have grown up using websites to sell their clothes, like eBay and The Marketplace on ASOS. The next generation is more savvy when selling items online directly to their followers. It also seems that many designers are trying out new ways of showcasing and are preferring to stay out of official, traditional events. Growing a label organically is definitely a more acceptable direction to take, building a social following, creating a small happening, and trying and testing samples. I would always recommend designers visit the Paris showrooms to research the global market place and find out what and how their contemporaries are doing. Paris will continue to be the selling capital for fashion and it’s important, if not to sell from there, to at least do your research there."

What would you like to see the BFC do more of to help emerging designers?

"The BFC does a great job with limited resources. There are also many of us that offer years of experience who could be better utilised. This knowledge could be pooled together to help designers build sustainable brands. The strength of LFW has always been our diversity, I am very excited about the mix of designers at On|Off this season, they perfectly demonstrate why On|Off - and indeed London - is still relevant. They are diverse and all have a very different point of view, this is what drives me. Our event always brings a London sensibility."

What initiatives is ON|OFF working on at the moment outside of Fashion Week?

"We have a long-term strategy for each of our designers and we keep in touch with them throughout the year. We also work with designers, helping to build their businesses via carefully curated business plans. I connect designers to business consultants, sales agents, photographers, stylists, hair and make-up teams and companies (it’s important to keep contacts loyal and connected, which often leads to mutually beneficial relationships). I also lecture at universities across the country, spotting the talent of tomorrow. Stay tuned for the launch of our clothing range celebrating 15 years of creative talent and we are also currently pulling together an exciting new mentoring program, which will help deliver even stronger support for our growing network of talent."

What do you think the consumer is looking for now and how can emerging designers rise to meet the challenge?

"Great quality at a great price that offers individuality, sustainability and lasting key pieces that have modernity."

On|Off Presents... will take place tomorrow, Tuesday September 19, as a part of the official London Fashion Week schedule.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The First Look At Topshop September 2017

A highlight on the London Fashion Week schedule, Topshop made fashion critics sit upright when they broke away from the show season mould as one of the first to go where few brand's have ventured: to trial the see-now, buy-now retail concept this time last year. Ahead of the catwalk show later today, we can share the latest in what to expect from the British high street store one year on.

"We are inspired by the heady days of London’s Soho and its contrasting characteristics,” outgoing creative director Kate Phelan told us.

The collection - known as Topshop September 2017 - follows the brand's see-now, buy-now principle allowing items to be directly shoppable immediately after the catwalk show, on and at selected outlets globally.

Fans can expect a nod to the party season ahead, featuring “vintage-feel coats, crystal accents, and metallics,” along with a revised price point for September - customers can snap up their own piece of the “show-girl-meets-party-girl” collection from £39, with the upper echelon reaching £395.

“Music nods to clubbing sounds from Heaven and Mud Club and the girls walking have sass, and a confidence reflective of the pre-selfie era,” the Voguecontributing fashion editor added. “The individuality of this underground world perfectly captures the spirit of the Topshop girl and reflects our British style heritage.”

The spring/summer 2018 collection will be Phelan’s last for Topshop after the high-street brand announced the appointment of a new co-ed creative director David Hagglund, replacing Phelan and Gordon Richardson in the newly created position.

Preview the Topshop September 2017 collection ahead of today’s show below, and watch the Topshop show live on at from 16:15 Sunday September 17th 2017.

Tommy Hilfiger Brings His See-Now, Buy-Now Show To London Fashion Week

Following stops in New York City and Venice Beach, California, Tommy Hilfiger’s travelling spectacle of a fashion show, “Tommynow,” will arrive in London on Tuesday just in time to close out Fashion Week. The show, inspired by Hilfiger’s love of rock and grunge styles of the Nineties, will feature women’s and men’s looks together for the first time since 2010. It will also unveil the third installment of Hilfiger’s ongoing - and highly successful - collaboration with model and ambassador Gigi Hadid.

Plenty of designers have shuffled back and forth in recent memory, switching from city to city in search of a fresh stage; but few, if any, seem to share aspirations as ambitious or as inclusive as Hilfiger, who will host both industry members and as many as 2,000 members of the public at the event. To see these events merely as profligate undertakings, where supermodels with eight-figure Instagram followings parade against a colourful backdrop, is to miss the point entirely.

“Tommynow continues to put the consumer at the heart of the event, fusing fashion, pop culture and entertainment, and connecting with our global fans in an authentic way,” Hilfiger told Vogue over e-mail ahead of his show. Last year, for the inaugural Tommynow event, Hilfiger transformed a New York pier into a carnival on the boardwalk, inviting participation from the press and consumers alike. Earlier this year, he rebranded Venice Beach as “Tommyland,” a theme park complete with flamethrowers, food stands and a performance by Fergie for the 3,000 guests in attendance.

While some brands have abandoned the see-now, buy-now model in recent months, Hilfiger says it “continu[es] to exceed expectations season after season.” He sees nothing wrong in giving his customers exactly what they want, when and how they want it. “Expectations are constantly changing, and our [show] format fulfils that demand for instant gratification,” he explains.“Every brand is different, and each needs to consider what’s best for them.”

The London show will mark Hilfiger’s third see-now, buy-now event so far, but it will also be the first to take place in Europe, where his business is booming. That the event is being held at the Roundhouse, the legendary concert venue in Camden, is telling - reflective of the ongoing cultural exchange between the designer and the world of music. But picking a stage is just the first of many steps Hilfiger has taken in preparation for this international debut. “We love to break conventions,” he tells Vogue. “Tommynow acts as an incubator for innovation.”

In some sense, Hilfiger sees the present moment as being on the course of a trajectory he set himself on several decades prior, when he first started designing clothes. “Our original brand DNA is the starting point of everything we do, and our designs are rooted in classic American cool,” he writes. “It’s about celebrating individuality, breaking conventions and keeping the relentless optimistic spirit that I founded the brand on.”

Although the Tommy Hilfiger brand might be less established as a cultural institution in some parts of the world when compared to his native America, Hilfiger has sustained his brand’s momentum beyond geographical borders, well into the new millennium, with the help of a few stars. In the Nineties, Hilfiger’s clothes could be seen on the backs of Aaliyah, and Snoop Dogg; today, it’s on the likes of A$AP Rocky and Zayn Malik.

At the end of the night, his gaze will inevitably shift forward - into the future. “Each season, we continue to select locations and times that complement the collections,” Hilfiger tells Vogue. Though there is no word on where the next Tommynow event will take place after its departure from London, “I’m always dreaming of what we could be doing tomorrow,” he continues. “And as I always say, the best is yet to come.”

The Secret Behind Burberry's Styling Success

What's a global mega brand to do if it wants its styling to be on point for a new generation? Make like Christopher Bailey and ask the models. The Burberry designer revealed backstage at his show that he'd asked his army of models to help decide the finishing touches to their looks. "We worked on the looks and put them together, but made sure the models felt good in it. We asked them if they wanted those trousers, did they prefer it with this or with that," explained Bailey.

"It wasn't a forced thing it was more of a personal thing. It was important that they felt the clothes," he said.

The models embraced their styling duties with enthusiasm, giving Bailey valuable insight into how the cool kids want to wear high fashion now. Did his good looking focus group throw on any surprise combinations? "I was intrigued by everybody wanting everything to be really casual and really broken down," he said.

"But they loved a special piece. If it felt too done, too refined, too sophisticated it was, 'Oh, I need a hat with it,' he said referring the the Burberry check baseball hats that accessorised most of the 79 looks in this co-ed show. "I suspect they might run off with the hats, after," he mused. We suspect they did.

Michael Halpern: Meet The Designer Behind Fashion's Favourite Sequin And Satin Megamix

"I've been called tacky quite a lot!” laughs Michael Halpern, the candidate poised to take Bob Mackie’s title as Sultan of Sequins in 2017. "Fabulous" would be a better description: the 29-year-old Parsons and Central Saint Martin’s alumnus is currently dazzling London’s fashion scene with his sequin-smothered debut autumn/winter 2017 collection.

The good/bad taste doublethink offers up Studio 54 references and an unabashedly glamorous aesthetic: his eponymous brand is built on disco-destined mini dresses, bustiers, flared trousers and jumpsuits. “I always reference over-the-top glamour and juxtapose that with classic bustiers and draping that recalls Charles James, Lacroix, Christian Dior,” he says. Little wonder that he honed his glamorous instinct in the Atelier Versace studio, an experience he likens to “finishing school... I’ve never felt so welcomed and accepted. The Versace team is like a family.”

A New Yorker by birth, Halpern’s predilection is for American glamour fused with the savoire-faire of the couture house. The surprise is that his designs are made in Leicester. “It’s a bit more expensive than producing in Italy or France, but it’s such an incredible thing to be able to support England, a country that has given so much to me,” he says. Red-carpet dominance beckons - Marion Cotillard was the first to wear his designs on the Croisette in Cannes, sporting a sequinned bodice complete with 1.65 metre-long train - and there are numerous actresses queuing up to be dressed in a bespoke Halpern piece this awards season.

“We’re working with a few people who I can’t mention yet, but I place huge importance on the personal connection,” he told Vogue this week. For that read: hours of work with British seamstresses, carefully draping and pinning to ensure a perfect fit. It takes its toll on a small business. “Balancing the red carpet commitments [with the rest of the business] has been difficult because we are so small, but you just have to be organised. Thankfully all the celebrities realise there has to be a budget, we can’t do, say, four bespoke gowns for free. I think stylists understand it’s a reciprocal thing when you work with small brands.”

This season, Halpern will present his first catwalk show at London Fashion Week, and he’s expanded his vision to encompass daywear. Into the sequin and satin megamix comes mesh and velvet from a mill in Gloucestershire, plus a soupçon of leather. “The intense fashion pieces – the bustiers and jumpsuits – have been selling really well at, thanks in part to the amazing support from Ruth and Tom [Chapman] and Natalie [Kingham], but I wanted to make a point that we don’t just do eveningwear,” he said, speaking from his studio in the run-up to the show. “Less intense silhouettes have creeped in, but with the same energy and fabrication.” Inspired by Anjelica Huston - “I haven’t been watching her films, actually, just looking at pictures, in particular one where she has super glossy hair on the set of The Addams Family films” – there’s a dark undercurrent that’s new to Halpern, too. “There is a side of this spring collection that’s a bit tougher now.”

Post-show, which is set to be in a “very, very grand location”, he’ll be switching off by enjoying homemade matzo ball soup with his family (his parents have flown over from New York especially to see his catwalk debut). The Hackney-based designer sounds like a homeboy at heart. “I think it’s really important to have a social life outside of fashion because things become really one-dimensional if all you talk about is production, delivery, shoots, stylists.” The son of an engineer and a banker, he’s got his head in the real world. “One of my closest friends is a neo-natal surgeon.”

Five Ways To Do Glamour The Ralph & Russo Way

They´re  Angelina Jolie's go-to designers; Jennifer Laurence is a fan, wearing a gold haute couture column for the New York premiere of her new movie, Mother! ; whilst Celine Dion wears their couture capes and trousers to go sight seeing - that's commitment. Vogue caught up with designer Tamara Ralph backstage the brand's debut ready-to-wear show, for an update on modern glamour. Don't get dressed up without it.

Invest In Separates

Even clients shopping at the Ralph and Russo level (ready-to-wear ranges from £2,800-£15,000 and couture starts at around £20,000) want ease and versatility. To keep them happy, Tamara Ralph has designed plenty of dressy jackets in gilded jacquards or special high-shine satin, that could be worn with jeans as well as cocktail gowns. Ralph singles out a utility/denim inspired parka. “It could be worn quite casually or it could be worn zipped up as a cocktail dress. It’s quite versatile. It looks like denim but it’s actually a double-sided duchess with a lurex weave. It feels very dressy."

Have Fun With Feathers

Russo embellished several ready-to-wear dresses with ostrich feathers at the hem and neck. She even embedded them into ear cuffs for added effect. "They are our statement pieces. They’re just such fun and feminine and flirty. I love ostrich feathers, especially the burnt ostrich, where they burn away the feather in sections from the spine which makes it lighter. I love the movement of them."

Wear A Party Coat

Ralph is a big fan of the trench, recommending one to anyone who wants a fast track to looking chic and pulled together. "They’re so elegant," she says, pulling out this dramatic gold version. "You can wear it as a dress or as a coat, with sharp trousers or throw it over jeans. It has so many different feelings to it," she says.

Don't Be Afraid Of Sheer

Several gowns in the new collection came with matching knickers designed to be seen through their sheer skirts. "Now women take more risks and have more fun with fashion which is good," says Ralph. "It's part of the look when you wear it without a lining, it brings lightness to the pieces and people want a more relaxed glamour that feels effortless."

But Don't Show Everything

Ralph’s silk-crepe opening look, was studded with rows of glittering buttons and strategically placed slits. It played the flirty peekaboo game to perfection. “It’s very elegant. It’s very simple but there’s something very sexy about it. You don’t have to show it all, you can hint," she counsels.

Matty Bovan: The Designer Approaching SS18 With A Brutal Perspective

Matty Bovan, the Fashion East wunderkind, has approached his spring/summer 2018 collection with "a brutal perspective", and - as he told us ahead of his London Fashion Week outing with the collective - his "woman" is a modern one.

"I always feel she is a female version of myself, it's definitely someone who has a strong option on what they like," said Bovan. "I do feel my clothes are not just strictly womenswear though, and have never considered it so rigid."

Rigid isn't a term anyone who is familiar with the Central Saint Martins graduate's work would associate with his designs. His knack for experimental, thought-provoking collections established him one to watch immediately after his graduate show (he won the LVMH Graduate Prize in 2015) and has since cemented his place as one one London's pre-eminent young designers - as is often the case with Fashion East founder Lulu Kennedy's protégées.

"Having my own label was definitely something I always dreamed of," he told us of the opportunity the initiative has afforded him. "To have that platform to showcase your vision is amazing. I am grateful I got to do the MA at Central Saint Martins and have some experience afterwards, as I recognise it was a super important time for me to really develop my way of working."

Bovan's way of working harks back to other CSM alumni - Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, Riccardo Tisci, Phoebe Philo, and Gareth Pugh among them. It's brave, it's thought-provoking, and he knows who he is designing for - something the late, great professor of the institution, Louise Wilson, demanded of her pupils. It's heartening to witness Wilson's legacy live on, even in students she never got the chance to nurture, as is the attention that Bovan pays not only to the surface aesthetic, but the construction of the garments he designs.Louise Wilson's Vogue Interview.

"It's very important to me - I mostly start with textiles and fabrics as it really can dictate where the silhouette can go and how it can all work," he explained. "I trained in knitwear so it will always be a core of what I do, and it's something that excites me."

As for his offering this season, he tells us that we can expect a collection rooted in his own take on cinematic fantasy. "For a while now I have been inspired by films, particularly science fiction such as Blade Runner, Alien, Alien 3, Mad Max and so on," he revealed. "I really get into these self-contained brutal worlds and never get bored of any of it. I love the heavy atmosphere you get in these films."

Donatella Versace Announces CSM Scholarship

On Friday afternoon at Central Saint Martins, Donatella Versaceheld an intimate press conference to announce something close to her heart.

"We're proud to announce the Gianni Versace Scholarship," she said, flanked by course director Fabio Piras. "This is a tribute to my brother Gianni. This year marks twenty years since his passing, and there's no better way to honour his memory than supporting future designers. It's very important to me."

The grant will provide financial support for a CSM student to follow in the footsteps of alums like Christopher Kane and Michael Halpern, who were both taken under Versace's wing.

"Central Saint Martins has educated some of the most talented designers in the world, many of whom have worked for me," Donatella smiled. "And you really see the difference."

On Sunday evening, the Versace matriarch will present her younger diffusion line Versus in the college building, emphasising her keen interest in youth culture and emerging scenes. "I've always been an advocate of supporting the industry's young talent, and it is a pleasure to be doing this scholarship," she added.

Five London Shoe Designers To Know Now

One need only look to Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo to know that London has a knack for cultivating shoe designers. Patrick Cox’s Wannabe loafer and Charlotte Olympia’s Kitty flats were born on its streets, while 144-year-old Church’s and 168-year-old John Lobbremain stalwarts of luxury British footwear.

The new millennium introduced a triumvirate of talent from the capital, including Rupert Sanderson, Nicholas Kirkwood and Sophia Webster, all educated at the prestigious Cordwainers College at the London College of Fashion. Now a new wave of talent is making strides in London’s footwear scene. Here’s the stitch on five new London soles to know.

Malone Souliers

An address in Mayfair mattered for Pennsylvanian-born shoe designer Mary Alice Malone and her American business partner Roy Luwolt, who based their Malone Souliers headquarters and made-to-measure service there in 2014. “It has the advantage of the culture of exquisite craftsmanship borne of the legacy men exclusively enjoyed from Savile Row and Jermyn Street,” says Cordwainers alumna Malone. Her ornate velvet and satin shoes routinely seduce showstoppers from Amal Clooney to Beyoncé. “We’re often told that our heels tend to be the most comfortable one finds,” says Malone, who takes twice-weekly trips to their Italian factory and is collaborating with fashion label Roksanda for a third season. “Part of the beauty of high heels is a woman in motion, so if she's walking like an unoiled rickshaw, then I don’t really care how pretty the shoes are. I consider that an unsuccessful design.”

Camilla Elphick

Camilla Elphick’s rainbow-bright, decadently girly shoes are hits with Sienna Miller, Kendall Jenner and Chloë Grace Moretz. Elphick studied at Parsons School of Design in New York and Cordwainers College before training under Nicholas Kirkwood, Sophia Webster and Charlotte Olympia. She launched her eponymous London-based label in 2014 and flits between factories in Portugal and Milan. The best-selling style is the space age-y Silver Lining ankle boot. “They hadn’t even launched and Alexa Chung had already requested a pair, which was an amazing moment!” she enthuses.


Turkish-born designer Dora Teymur deals in decadent glam. His punkish mules, ritzy thigh-high boots and square-toe loafers - bedecked with flared heels, jaunty buckles and oversized regal rings - have lured in the likes of Keira Knightley, Chloë Grace Moretz and Alexa Chung. “The aesthetic I had was not what people were interested at the beginning,” says Teymur, who launched during his second year at Cordwainers in 2012. “I recall buyers saying, ‘Mules? Sorry, no one wears mules anymore.’ But then Browns was the first boutique to stock and they immediately placed a re-order two weeks later.” He is about to present his second show on schedule at London Fashion Week. “The brand evolved and got its place slowly and quietly,” says Teymur, who produces his shoes in Portugal. But now it’s pretty noisy. Solange Knowles wore his lacquer elephant-heeled ankle boots on tour this year as well as a blood-red patent pair.

Dear Frances

Dear Frances’s Spirit boots have been uplifting soles across Hollywood from Selena Gomez to Bella Hadid. “Barely a day goes by without someone new stepping out in a pair,” says Sydney-born designer Jane Frances of her now-cult crushed velvet and nappa leather ankle boots, elevated on a hand-sculpted block-heel. Elsewhere, satin slides are spotted with pearls and loafers come with merino-wool penny straps. Frances studied pattern cutting at London College of Fashion and footwear design at ModaPelle Academy in Milan before launching in London for Autumn/Winter 2015. “This city’s thriving with start-ups and encourages you to be at the forefront of new digital technologies,” the designer says. Frances bounces back and forth from New York – “the States are my largest market” – but ultimately she prefers a European base. “I spend a lot of time at the factory in Northern Italy sourcing materials,” she explains.

Alexander White

Happenstance at Heathrow Airport in 2014 launched Alexander White’s namesake label. “I was travelling to Hong Kong and thought I saw [Jimmy Choo Creative Director] Sandra Choi but she was wearing Vans so decided I was mistaken,” says White, who was named a finalist in Vogue Italia’s new talent contest, Who Is On Next?, in 2015. “Then she pulls out a Jimmy Choo purse and I felt like it was a sign and ran to her.” A meeting was set up and she encouraged White – who had worked in fashion design at Erdem and Giles before enrolling at Cordwainer's – to start his own label. “A few days later I incorporated my brand.” Now based at his old Erdem office in East London, he counts Sharon Stone, Kylie Jenner and Alicia Vikander as fans. Sophie Grégoire Trudeau - wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau - sold out his Baroque-inspired Brianna red mesh pumps on Canada Day last year. “I was so perplexed when we got so many orders. We even had a few special orders made straight from the factory in Italy as people were willing to pay extra to get a pair.”

How Amazon Fashion Plans To Become A Major Player

As Amazon Fashion partners with Nicola Formichetti and his Nicopanda show to not only stage the LFW extravaganza at its impressive London HQ, but to facilitate a see-now, buy-now capsule collection that will be available straight after, Ellie Pithers caught up with its vice president, Susan Saideman, to dig deep into the e-commerce giant's big fashion plan.

When it comes to selling fashion online, what are the key elements for success?

"I believe that it’s simply to give customers exactly what they are looking for. At Amazon Fashion, we are always exploring ways to do just that by offering the best and broadest choice, at the right price and with a convenient shopping experience. We also look for ways to offer our customers something that is unique to us that they can’t get anywhere else, for example our Nicopanda exclusive capsule collection."

Why did you decide to collaborate with Nicopanda selling the capsule and sponsoring the show?

"We are always trying to find something new and different for customers of all ages, something exciting and exclusive that will complement or add to the choice we already have, and we felt that this was a great fit right now. We look forward to Fashion Week season after season and we are pleased to be part of this exciting and important platform for designers. Sponsoring this show and hosting it at our East London studio, being a patron of the BFC and sponsoring India and Tokyo Fashion Weeks means that we can support the fashion industry and work with some truly creative and innovative organisations."

Do you think this is something that will strengthen the fashion credentials of Amazon and how do you decide on who to collaborate with?

"We hope that customers will be excited by this product and we hope that new customers will discover what Amazon Fashion has to offer through this partnership. Nicola is a fan of Amazon and our joint obsession with digital and innovation made this collaboration feel very natural. We choose partnerships based on shared values but mainly on how much we think our customers will love the additional choice – in this case we think Nicopanda’s popular street-style aesthetic will resonate well and delight Amazon Fashion consumers across Europe."

How did you come across Nicola’s work?

"We knew of Nicola through his high-profile work as a stylist, designer and artistic director, but for this project he initially approached to Amazon with some great ideas on how we could work together. We eventually landed on the idea of an exclusive collection with Prime Now delivery straight off the runway. As an innovator, one of the things that excited Nicola most about the partnership was Prime Now – using Amazon’s high-end technology to enable vast selection and lightning fast shipping speeds for customers.

How closely did Amazon work with Nicola to advise him on the pieces that will be immediately available on the runway?

"He had a really clear idea in his mind of what this collection should look like, an easy-to-wear, unisex capsule with his signature motif and colours, all of which we were really excited about. We worked collaboratively on what combination of pieces would resonate well with our customer and give them a strong slice of Nicopanda's style. We are really pleased with the outcome and can’t wait to see how our customers, new and existing, respond to the collection."

You’ve had an amazing reaction to your in-house fashion label Find. Did you expect the response from the press to be so positive?

"We are pleased with the response to Find, from both the media and customers. It is still very early days and we are learning from all our customer feedback which we keep a close eye on, on a daily basis - including the valuable comments that we get from customer reviews - to make sure that we get it right for this season and in the future. Our private brands, Iris & Lilly and Find, are important as they give customers another great reason to shop for fashion with us."
An easy returns process seems to be highly prized by customers and the secret to e-commerce success. 

How much importance does Amazon place on that process?

"We aim to offer the most convenient service to our customers and easy and quick returns is part of this. Fashion items sold by Amazon are eligible for free delivery and free returns and we also offer a number of ways for our customers to return items, including collection, drop off and Amazon Lockers."

Who do you see as your main competitors in the e-commerce arena?

"At Amazon, we obsess about our customers, who are at the heart of every decision we make. There are many brands and businesses that I admire, but every decision we make at Amazon Fashion is based on what we think will most benefit our consumer. The online market segment is becoming more and more competitive and that’s great for consumers, the result is higher standards and a better all-round shopping experience."

Where is Amazon putting most of its fashion spend – high-end, mid-range, or your own brand?

"We will invest in all areas that deliver fashionable choice, value and convenience to our customers. Thousands of well-loved fashion brands are selling their products at Amazon and they love that they can reach millions on new customers sometimes in brand new countries – in 2016 we added more than 350 new fashion brands to our European offering including Vanessa Bruno, Filippa K, Cacharel and Paul & Joe, as well as our private brands, which were launched at the start of 2017. In fact, just this week, we have also announced that we have added Swarovski to our jewellery portfolio."

Where have you seen the most interest globally?

"We wouldn’t break out that information in that way, but what I can tell you is that in Europe, fashion is one of the fastest growing categories at Amazon and to give you an insight into consumer interest in fashion at Amazon, in Q4 of 2016 we sold 60 million items of fashion from our European websites. In Q2 of 2015 this figure was 30 million items."

Will you be addressing key areas such as search on your website - I just searched for "black dress" and got 229,029 results? Do you agree that some customers could find this overwhelming?

"We are aware that when you have such a vast selection, the challenge is to be able to curate those products for the customer and make the shopping experience as easy and convenient as possible, and we are addressing this challenge. We have our own fashion homepage where we regularly update our content to showcase key seasonal brands, products and offers. We work with influencers and stylists to help create exciting and inspiring content for our customers to help them with their purchase decisions. We also like to surprise and delight customers with new and exclusive collections, collaborating with brands to create these, for example our Nicopanda collection launching this weekend. But we still have a lot of work to do, what’s good enough for today isn’t good enough for tomorrow so at Amazon we are always challenging ourselves to do better for our customer."

How do you want to go about changing people’s perceptions of Amazon as a fashion destination?

"Selection is at the heart of the brand, so letting customers know what we have to offer and always surprising them is key. We are always looking for ways to improve the customer experience so that we can become a favourite destination for fashion across Europe, for example, we are seeing positive responses to new images that we are creating in our studios in Hoxton. We also believe that delivery services like Prime and Prime Now, which the Nicopanda exclusive collection is available through, will be particularly exciting for fashion customers as it offers a two-hour delivery service direct to your door from the catwalk, what’s not to love about that?" And Eco Age Announce Collaboration

In yet more positive news to come from the fashion juggernaut, it has announced that it has partnered with Livia Firth's Eco Age on a sustainability programme "with the aim of placing sustainable and ethical practices at the heart of what it does".

“In our thirtieth year of business, we wanted to be sure the business was looking to the future of the industry, the second largest polluter in the planet," said co-founder Ruth Chapman today. "With our reputation for pioneering and nurturing fashion talent we are proud to continue to innovate by focusing our energies on addressing some of these issues within our own business and our broader supply chain. We hope to bring awareness to our brands, employees and customers and therefore spearhead change, however incremental, over the coming years. Eco-Age are without doubt the best partners for us to learn from as we begin this project.”

Eco Age is the most high-profile fashion business to shine a light on ethics and sustainability in the fashion industry, not only examining where clothes are made, from what and by whom, but also in advising businesses - especially emerging ones - how to grow their brand at an organic pace and enjoy longevity. For a brand like, which is famed for nurturing young and left-field fashion talent, the latter of these points will prove to be an invaluable asset in supporting the brands it buys and sells. Only this week did it unveil its new concept The Innovators, a retail hub dedicated to championing the non-conformist designers who they believe deserve their own arena.

But first things first: for the last couple of months, Eco Age has been looking at the e-commerce platform and how it manages its environmental and social risks.

"I have so much admiration for Ruth and Tom Chapman as they demonstrated leadership through all along," said Firth, herself indomitable in her pursuit of not just raising awareness but facilitating actual change in the industry (read about her Green Carpet Fashion Award initiative, set to take place at MFW, here). "The sustainability journey they have now embarked upon is not an easy task for a multi-brand retailer but the direct engagement both internally and externally of the ethos is fundamental to the success of it. This is such a unique opportunity to make a real change."

Change is the buzzword at the retailer right now. Earlier this month, after 30 years at the helm, the Chapmans sold a majority stake in the fashion business (subject to closing conditions) to private-equity fund Apax Partners, remaining minority shareholders.

"The business has never been in a stronger position and we want to thank our loyal customers, the exceptional brands and the brilliant people who we are fortunate enough to work with," they said at the time. "They inspire us every day to be better." The old adage "what goes around, comes around" has never been more apt.

Asai: The London Designer Turning Urban Inspiration Into Fabulous Fashion

When young British designer, A Sai Ta (Asai), made his London Fashion Week debut with the Fashion East collective last season, it was to resounding acclaim: the homespun finesse of his tie-dye silks, shredded layers of overlocking and shrunken jackets simultaneously evocative of nineties Gaultier and modern London. So compelling were the form-fitting multi-coloured stretch tops that they went straight into a Selfridges pop-up, and subsequently sold out. This season, he will be presenting his second collection – again, through Fashion East – and so here we present a primer: the things you need to know about Asai.

A Sai Ta grew up in Woolwich, South London, and spent his teenage years between learning how to sew (his mother was a seamstress) and hanging around on the local estate with his staffie and his BMX. This bizarre dichotomy of hobbies visibly manifests in his work, which elevates urban inspiration through exacting techniques: distressed skirts are actually carefully hand-sewn, low-slung skirts tailored to sit just so.

Then, after finishing school, A Ta went on to hone his technical understanding of fashion at Yeezy and The Row, each which has fed in to how he works today. “They have completely different design processes, completely different audiences,” he says, “but at Yeezy I learnt the finer details of how to make the best hoodie and the best tracksuit bottoms, and at The Row I learned how to create the best wardrobe for women. I think I am trying to do the same thing: design pieces and make them really special. I’m doing biker jackets, bomber jackets, denim jackets – taking something so casual and making it fabulous. I’m kind of creating a world where upper and lower class mix.” Championed by the London's creative set – women like Claire Barrow and Reba Maybury – his pieces are both remarkably beautiful and remarkably wearable – his is an aesthetic which we are sure to see more of in coming seasons.

For his upcoming Spring/Summer 2018 collection, Asai explains that he is taking his extravagant fabrications and voluminous silhouettes to a new frontier – bigger, and better – alongside interrogating his Asian heritage (or rather, how his Asian heritage has been filtered through a Western lens). “I’ve been looking at the Hang dynasty, at footbinding, at Chinese imperial clothing – but how, in the Western world, those motifs and cultures have been exoticised,” he says. “So many motifs of Asia travel in the Western world, but don’t relate that much to the culture itself. Dragons, and pandas and things. This season, I’ve almost created an Asian culture based on western perspective. It’s like Chinese whispers.”

Richard Malone: The Emerging Fashion Designer Preaching Practicality

Such a problem simply doesn’t come into play with Irish talent Richard Malone, who started his eponymous brand by creating custom pieces for private clients who spotted his designs in Dublin's Brown Thomas department store (their buyers snapped up his entire graduate collection). These women not only operated as the initial backbone for Malone’s business, providing the financial support that he needed to go forward with his brand, but equally proved to be the foundation for the philosophy behind his designs. “The feedback all of those clients gave me really informed my work,” he says now, a few years down the line, as he prepares for his first fashion show supported by the NEWGEN fashion fund. “We would have conversations about inspiration, and so the whole process becomes a lot more honest, and a lot more functional.”

One of the common problems that plagues young designers is that they can all too easily forget that the clothes they are wearing might, hopefully, be bought and worn by a woman – after all, if you aren’t used to selling, then it can be all too easy to get caught up in concept and forget about your customer.

That’s certainly not to say that what Malone designs is prosaic – his collections are anything but, filled with remarkable shapes, geometric patterns and good/bad taste colours. In fact, all it means is that the clothes that he designs incorporate elements like pockets or well-positioned fastenings, that they wrap around and flatter the body, and are always made from the sorts of material that you will be actually able to wash (in fact, early on in his career, one of his proudest achievements was that he’d made a machine-washable showpiece). Even the more avant-garde, sculptural showpieces he creates are so cleverly designed that, after being packed into a suitcase, they spring into shape. It might sound like common sense but, in an industry that can quickly forget about the women who invest in its success, it is anything but.

Besides the consideration he exhibits for women and their bodies, another of Malone’s remarkably compelling characteristics is that he is dedicated to sustainability – but without falling into the tiresome or worthy narratives that often surround such a missive. He grew up in Wexford, a small county in southeast Ireland, in the midst of a recession, and thus quickly learned how to make do and mend; his graduate university collection was made from leftovers that he found in his father’s shed after he had lost his job on a building site. Over the years, such an approach has developed into resolute resourcefulness executed with refined finesse; in fact, his spring/summer 2018 collection uses a fabric made from the bark of eucalyptus trees, which is as malleable as polyester but with the appearance of silk. “I think it’s the only way you can do something that is really contemporary,” he explains. “You really need to consider where it’s coming from – and I think the customers really want to know about that side of things.”

That’s the thing with Malone – that, no matter what he’s talking about, he always returns to the women who might buy his pieces, women like Belmacz founder Julia Muggenburg, or MoMa curator Paola Antonelli (who is including one of his pieces in upcoming show Is Fashion Modern?). “I get a lot of feedback from my customers about why they’re not buying clothes from the megabrands, and it’s because there’s a lot less consideration for their bodies and their image than there used to be,” he says. “Hearing them talk is so important to how I design, how I cast my show, for the consideration I have for clothes. Hearing that they buy Yohji Yamamoto – and not just because it’s beautiful, but because it’s functional, too – is nice, and it’s important to remember.” Important, yes – and something which sets him in good stead for seasons to come.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Enduring Appeal Of Ralph Lauren And Diane Keaton

Last night, in Ralph Lauren’s garage, amidst an impressive assortment of Bugattis and Bentleys, the all-American fashion icon presented his see-now-buy-now Autumn/Winter 2017 collection to an audience that included an equally impressive line-up of Hollywood stars. Seated alongside the likes of Katie Holmes and Jessica Chastain was Diane Keaton, a woman who has played an integral part in Lauren’s career and, dressed in a tuxedo suit, looked as brilliant in the brand as ever before.

So what role does Keaton have to play in Lauren’s success story? Well, when she took the role of Annie Hall in Woody Allen’s 1977 film, it quickly became one of fashion’s greatest hits, signifying the moment when androgynous tailoring entered the mainstream, made covetable as was by Keaton’s self-styled ease. With a wardrobe of patterned ties, oversized blazers and waistcoats supplied by Ralph Lauren – who was then relatively new on the scene – as the film became a hit, so did Lauren himself and sales spiked. As costume designer Ruth Morley told Vogue back in 1978, “Now people tell me that all the girls in London and Paris are turned out like Annie Hall... It’s crazy; it’s practically become a household word!"

“Annie’s style was Diane’s style - very eclectic,” said the designer himself in Vogue on Ralph Lauren. “Oversized jackets and vests, floppy men’s hats and cowboy boots. We shared a sensibility, but she had a style that was all her own. Annie Hall was pure Diane Keaton.” That being said, he had a significant role to play in it all – and, when Keaton turned up last night wearing a bowler hat to the show, it was clearly paying tribute to Hall and Lauren alike.

For those looking to channel Annie Hall’s insouciant cool today, Lauren presented a collection that not only offered grease-monkey glamour, but came complete with an assortment of tweed tailoring fit for an androgynous revival. It proves that Lauren, and Keaton, are embedded in fashion’s history and future alike.

The World According To Michael Kors

He's known as much for his one-liners and straight-talking interviews as he is for his "sexy, sporty, glam" creations (look up Project Runway on Youtube to lose a good hour of your day). Here, we look back at some of his most profound musings on everything from family and fashion to fame.

On his rise to fame...

"It was like Oz. One minute, you're in school and you're obsessed with fashion, and the next thing you know, you're sitting in a banquette with Nan Kempner at Studio 54. It was an amazing thing."

On his design ethos...

"The reality for me about everything I design is that women want something that is luxurious, glamorous and indulgent. But at the same time we are all conflicted. She also wants something that is comfortable, pragmatic and practical. If you combine it all - that is how I work."

On casting his campaigns and shows...

"I don't like it when the models all look the same. To me it's so incredibly boring to turn them into mannequins, it's so much more interesting if we have different ages, ethnicities, body types, heights."

On looking effortless...

"I think the trick is, how do you spend time doing it but make it look like you haven't spent time doing it? Over the years you look at women like Lauren Hutton and everyone says: 'She just pulled her hair back and ran out of the door.' I've been in fittings with Lauren and she definitely thinks about it. She just knows how to make it look easy."

On the Michael Kors look...

"I like streamlined but glamorous at the same time. I like simplicity but I hate minimalism. I think with minimalism, the next thing you know it has no personality. I'm always appreciative of the things we use every day being great to look at."

On his husband, Lance...

"We are very well-balanced. I am louder, more outrageous, a New Yorker; he's low-key, methodical, and from the West. I'm a Leo, so I'm about the big picture. But Lance, being a Virgo, is all about detail. And I think the combination of the two together is great from a fashion point of view."

On his beauty regime...

"Well as a blonde I'm a flag waver for men who are naturally blonde, of a certain age. I have been a propagator of Klorane camomile shampoo for many years. My hair can get really dull and start to look like dead beige hair, so that's a must. I travel like crazy so my lips are always dry so Crème de la Mer lip balm is a guaranteed success and I use it actually to groom my eyebrows - great for an unruly brow!"

On bringing sexy back...

"Sexiness is all about self confidence. Many people think that sexiness is about wearing a provocative dress or looking plunged to the waist, but to me sexy is more of an attitude or a mood."

On his legacy...

"My legacy would be that you don't have to give up anything. You can be chic but have a sense of humour, you can be sexy but comfortable, and you can be timeless but fresh."

Behind Matches' Shoppable Celebration Of Fashion's New Avant-Garde

Over recent years, the frenetic speed of the fashion industry – and the pressure that such a pace puts on designers’ creativity and production processes alike – has been a hot topic, to say the least.

Less discussed, however, is the impact that such a grueling regime has on young designers: the emerging talent who struggle financially to put one collection together – let alone four, or eight, per year – and who aren’t practically equipped to engage with the logistics of the industry (that is, if they want to engage with them at all).

Now, with the launch of their latest initiative, The Innovators, is offering a new generation of creatives an opportunity that sits outside of the traditional fashion system. A retail hub dedicated to championing the non-conformist designers who they believe deserve their own arena, it is simultaneously subversive and remarkably helpful – both to the designers themselves, and the people who want to invest in their pieces.

“The Innovators came about because we kept seeing very talented designers coming through Fashion East and other channels that we loved, but were quite disruptive and didn’t work to the regular calendar,” explains buying director Natalie Kingham. “It struck me that there is a young, cool audience, and an older, pioneering fashion customer, who are both looking for something unique and who understand that these designers have a strong fashion point of view.”

Launching with limited-edition collections from Claire Barrow, Art School, Matty Bovan, Wanda Nylon and Paula Knorr, which distill the codes of their respective brands into new, exclusive pieces, The Innovators is essentially a who’s-who of the new guard: those whose radical approach to fashion is pushing the industry forward.Edward Meadham Launches Behind-The-Scenes Videos For Blue Roses

“We are a fashion company and there is something different happening in fashion so we wanted to speak to that,” Kingham continued. “Fashion and the way designers are showing is already changing and these designers don’t all want to do things in the normal way. Each one has their own point of view and a strong voice.”

They most certainly do: so here they each tell us a little about the pieces that will go on sale today...

Art School

“Art School defines itself through its queer identity – which means that our aesthetic is quite organic as we evolve and work with new people – but we always say that our work comes from the idea of decadent minimalism. The Innovators has enabled us to create something away from a show or seasonal collection, and has given us the opportunity to create a really pure representation of our world right now. We are in an age of post post post modernism and the whole world is on the brink of mass hysteria. In response, fashion will either harbour these anxieties or completely set itself free from any constraints. There is a wave of strong minded and pure designers in this moment and to be working amongst and around them is truly exciting.”

Wanda Nylon

“I think that beauty is found in the story of a personality, so I like a direct design, and strong women who totally possess the clothes that they wear; determined women who dress for themselves, and not to please the boys. This project has given me the freedom to sculpt this character in my work, reinterpreting masculine and bourgeois codes at the same time. It is rare to hear someone tell you, ‘do as you like, make yourself happy’ – and it was a total pleasure.”

Paula Knorr

“My brand aesthetic is influenced by the idea to create an intense and powerful picture of femininity; I design clothes that don't overpower the wearer, but instead work with her unique body shape and movement. I like my designs to reveal a personal and realistic ideas of sexiness, and this collection captures the essence of my brand: I combined my way of pattern cutting with a strong colour palette as well as sensual fabrics like metallic lamé and silk velvet. I am now in my third season showcasing at London Fashion Week, and there are new responsibilities and tasks that I have to fulfil everyday. It felt freeing and nurturing to sit down and re-focus on the essentials of my design aesthetic again.”

Claire Barrow

“I think my aesthetic is quite instant, but it comes from a mixture of fun and ugliness, sometimes good and bad taste, bringing opposites together – and everything has a drawing on it, usually faces, figures of animals. It was freeing to do everything in pink, and for the team at Matches to support that; we used silhouettes and fabrics from previous seasons, but in pink, and all of the drawings are brand new. It’s the first mini collection that I’ve done in a while – ever since exiting the official schedule”

Matty Bovan

"My work is generally textured, fluid and energetic – and I’m super excited to be able to showcase some of my key autumn/winter 2017 pieces in new colourways and patterns. Right now, I really love that designers are crossing the boundaries and pushing what it means to be a fashion designer. In 2017, the role of designer has become more diverse than ever before.”

How Coach Became New York’s Ultimate Millennial Brand

Over the past four years, Coach, the heritage American accessories house has re-cast itself as a beacon of millennial taste. Under the direction of dynamic CEO Victor Luis and Brit-born bag king Stuart Vevers, the brand has transformed its fortunes. Coach, which is 76 years old, is now riding high with a legion of young fans and sales that are on track to reach $5.9 billion for 2017. Vogue caught up with Vevers before his spring/summer 2018 show to gain some insight on what he's doing right.

First he says, choose your muses wisely. When Vevers joined the brand in 2013, he made a conscious decision to take Coach to a younger audience, but he didn’t just do that with product rooted in American nostalgia (prairie dresses and varsity jackets) - he did it with people, making clever choices about who his gang of "Coach Gurls" would be.

Women like Hari Nef, Winnie Harlow and Chloe Moretz were all more than pretty faces, they had something to say and they connected to their generation. “It’s not just the people we choose, it’s their communities and their people,” says Vevers. “It has to be authentic, it has to be natural.”

Coach gets involved with its muses, and recently co-hosted campaign girl Adwoa Aboah’s Gurls Talk festival of female empowerment in London. It's not just the price points that are democratic. "It’s really interesting seeing a Facebook thread talking about the Coach casting. Our campaign last season was seen as one of the most diverse. It’s great and it resonates," says Vevers.

Next, he took fashion advice from Selena Gomez. Coach signed her to design her own range earlier this year. With 135 million Instagram followers, she is the ultimate millennial sweetheart. An eloquent spokeswoman for issues of mental health and female advocacy, her sassy style is also perfectly in tune with the taste of her generation. Her recently launched Selena Grace bag is already the brand's top seller, so no wonder Vevers listens to her on matters of how her generation want to dress.

“She feeds back what she wants to wear," he says and for SS18 that means plenty of sparkle. "There's loads of shine and glitter, not materials I would always use at Coach but there's something about that exuberance that feels right."

Finally says Vevers, pay attention to the fashion nuances of his target audience. "It's really important to be personal today with your work. I don’t want to get formulaic. I want to be influenced by actual things I see." He's obsessed with how his customers style up their clothes and tells a story of the model Hari Nef who wore a Coach prairie dress to the brand's 75th anniversary show but took the dress off and just wore the slip to the after party. Cue a plethora of slip dresses for SS18, styled with satin bedazzled varsity jackets. They look right, they feel now. Job done.

Oscar De La Renta Keeps It In The Family

Three years after the passing of its founder and namesake, the house of Oscar de la Renta has achieved a delicate parity: courting a new, more casual customer while continuing to outfit the elegant women he dressed for decades. Vogue speaks to co-creative directors Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia, and son-in-law Alex Bolen, about the American fashion house’s next chapter.

Last February, when Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia presented their first collection as co-creative directors of Oscar de la Renta, they took an impressive first step towards ensuring the brand’s legacy. For the duo, it marked a triumphant return to the place that they began their careers in fashion. And for the company, it signalled the beginning of a new chapter after a rudderless few seasons.

It is no exaggeration to suggest that Oscar de la Renta was one of the most important figures in 20th century American fashion — and one of its most beloved, too. De la Renta learned his craft through an apprenticeship with Cristóbal Balenciaga, and then worked as a couture assistant at Lanvin. With his own label, founded in 1965, he established a sartorial blueprint for a certain sort of aspirational woman — a woman for whom dressing up was de rigueur, for whom cocktail dresses were more than a once-yearly occasion. His designs, rendered in sumptuous fabrics and vibrant colours and patterns — he favoured floral motifs — were devoted to making women look and feel their best.

De la Renta, along with contemporaries like Halston and Bill Blass, proved that American brands could drive trends rather than simply follow them. But times change, and maintaining a legacy is at least as difficult as building one. It requires adapting to a shifting social context — the cocktail dress may have been Oscar’s bread and butter, but in an increasingly casual world that no longer calls for them, the label has needed to adjust. It falls, now, to Kim and Garcia to shepherd it into a new era, and update its offerings in a way that remains true to its history.

When Oscar de la Renta CEO Alex Bolen refers to Kim and Garcia as part of the family, he is not doling out platitudes. The pair has contributed hugely to the brand since Kim joined in 2003 while in the midst of completing her BFA in Fashion Design at the Pratt Institute. Says Bolen: “Laura and I started working at Oscar de la Renta in the same week. Laura started here as an intern, and I started as, I thought, a consultant who was going to help sell my wife’s family’s business. But, for both of us, it turned into a much longer engagement.” Garcia joined the company in 2009, as an intern reporting to Kim, after completing a degree in architecture at Notre Dame at his family’s behest.

Just before Oscar passed away in October of 2014, British designer Peter Copping was named his successor, and Kim and Garcia — by then design director and senior designer, respectively — left the company shortly thereafter. Oscar was deeply concerned with ensuring a smooth transition, fearing the slide into irrelevancy suffered by Blass and Halston after their founders’ deaths. Oscar was directly involved in bringing Copping aboard, courting him while he held the position of creative director at Nina Ricci. The hiring looked great on paper — Copping had couture training, which mattered to Oscar, and the two shared a proclivity for refined, colourful, joyful femininity in their designs. But Copping’s tenure at the house lasted just three full ready-to-wear cycles. His resignation was announced abruptly in July of 2016, not quite two years after he joined the company.

While Copping was helming Oscar de la Renta, Kim and Garcia were busy building Monse, one of New York’s buzziest young labels. Monse’s presence was immediately felt when it debuted at New York Fashion Week in September of 2015 — the collection they showed, built around playful, sexy reinterpretations of the traditional dress shirt, earned rave reviews. The brand quickly became a fixture on red carpets, worn by such sought-after stars as Sarah Jessica Parker, Selena Gomez and Lupita Nyong’o. These prominent placements were partly the result of relationships with A-list stylists Garcia cultivated during his early years at Oscar de la Renta.

And while it appeared to outsiders that Monse emerged from thin air, that, of course, was not the case. The years Kim and Garcia spent under Oscar’s tutelage left them amply prepared to launch a label with a strong commercial foundation. Though Monse skews funkier than the ready-to-wear offerings at Oscar de la Renta — it’s more adventurous in its fabric selections, more provocative in its cuts, more directional in concept — it shares a focus on wearability that Kim and Garcia picked up from Oscar himself. Says Kim: “In fittings, Oscar always said, ‘What does that dress do for her?’ That’s something I always keep in mind.”

“Oscar always said that it’s not fashion until a woman buys it and wears it,” adds Bolen. “I think that Laura and Fernando very much take that to heart.”

Bolen is refreshingly candid about his reasons for hiring Copping over Kim and Garcia. “I was not aware of the extent of their maturity,” he admits. But the interlude proved beneficial. “I was not a boss, so to speak, when I was at Oscar,” Garcia explains. “I’ve learned, since I left and came back, how to manage a team, how to make everyone feel listened to, feel involved in the design, and feel excited every day. The most important thing that you need to run a company is a happy team.”

For Kim and Garcia, the challenge of juggling both labels has turned out to be a blessing, an energizing challenge that generates free-flowing creative momentum.“You get to switch off your thinking for one type of woman and turn it on for the other,” says Garcia. “The ideas stay — in a positive way — as naive as possible.”

While Kim and Garcia wasted no time in adding new categories to the Oscar de la Renta repertoire — denim and suiting, for instance — they are keenly aware that they have a dedicated customer base that mustn’t be alienated. Says Garcia: “It’s very important to have an evolution, not a revolution, as people say. We’re protecting that client who loves the brand and has bought so many clothes throughout the years — decades, for some. If this was a brand that relied on beauty or accessories, sure, it would have been fine to toss the DNA of the ready-to-wear out the window and start fresh with a brand new idea, but it’s a brand that’s strongest in ready-to-wear, so it has to be protected.”

Seven Bad Gal Takeaways From The Fenty X Puma Show

Fresh from her Fenty Beauty launch at New York Fashion Week, anticipation surrounding Rihanna’s latest collaborative collection with Puma was high. From the millennial-pink mountain range set to the motorcross mania and day-glow make-up, here are the seven things to note from the high-octane show.

The Millennial Mountains

Pastel peaks of sand erupted from the floor of the Park Avenue Armory, as Rihanna staged her Fenty spring/summer 2018 show against a millennial-pink mountain range. Motorcyclists zoomed from glitter-strewn piste to piste, and got fashion editors G-ed up about the fast and furious show.

The Motorcross Mania

RiRi eschewed the traditional designer post-show wave and bow in favour of a victory lap on the back of a motorbike – tongue out, hand above head in the gutsy “rock on” signal. There’s a reason why the popstar-turned-designer’s Instagram handle is “badgalriri”, and Sunday night she reasserted that when she goes to werk, she’s the boss.

The Model Line-Up

Slick Woods – the LA-born model who has walked every Fenty show and stars in the new Fenty make-up campaign – joined a blockbuster line-up of models including Joan Smalls, Duckie Thot, Adriana Lima and Stella Maxwell. “I’m just gonna say this how Rihanna would say it,” 17-year-old beauty Selena Forrest told British Vogue as she came off the runway. “I felt like a bad bitch! The adrenaline before the show, the bikes, the vroom-vroom… It. Riled. Me. Up.”

The Highlighter

The scuba-meets-surfer streetwear - and the hip cleavage induced by those high-rise swimsuits - certainly made an impact, but there was plenty of above-the-neck action too. Using the designer’s newly launched Fenty Beauty line exclusively, make-up artist James Kaliardo gave models some serious cheek shimmer. The secret to that day-glow? The Trophy Wife highlighter, which happens to be RiRi’s favourite Fenty product, naturally.

The Footwear

Stiletto-heeled flip flops? No problem for Rihanna’s crew who sauntered around the pink sand dunes in rubber heels in a variety of hues. Beachwear never looked so fab-u-lous.

The Frow

Alongside Rihanna's fellow artists Cardi B and Diplo, Whoopi Goldberg took a front row-view of the motorcross spectacle. Just as the model line-up was a celebration of diversity, the FROW proved that when it comes to wearing Fenty x Puma, everyone looks sassy. Shout out to Goldberg's socks too.

The After-Party

Cut to the after-party and Rihanna showed off outfit number two from her spring/summer 2018 line: a high-vis pink tracksuit, turquoise crop top and mesh knickers. As Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful said after the show, "Every single look you see on the runway you can see her wearing. It comes from her, and that’s what people respond so well to.” Letting loose with Kaia Gerber and Stella Maxwell at the post-catwalk party, the pink lady proved him right.

Gucci Announces Collaboration With New York Icon Dapper Dan

Ever since Alessandro Michele took the reins of Gucci back in 2015, he has been an emphatic advocate for the power of collaboration, working with artists like GucciGhost and Coco Capitán to both inspire and decorate his collections. Now, he is adding a new name to the roster: Dapper Dan, the Harlem couturier who directly influenced his 2018 resort collection. Renowned for designing bespoke pieces for everyone from LL Cool J to Mike Tyson in the Eighties and Nineties, Dan's legacy is one that is embedded in hip hop culture, and is now being suitably revived.

Not only does the debonair legend star in the new, Glen Luchford-shot men’s tailoring campaign, but a capsule collection created in partnership between Michele and Dan will be sold as part of the brand's pre-fall offering this Spring, and Dan – whose eponymous boutique closed in 1992, amidst a flurry of lawsuits from fashion brands whose labels he was reprising on his designs – will be opening his store again, powered by Gucci.

A man who once came under fire for ripping off the Italian powerhouse's double Gs, but who later came to inspire their clothes, is now being directly supported by their financing. Fashion is certainly coming full circle (especially considering Michele came under fire himself earlier this year for directly reprising Dapper Dan’s designs), with remarkably appealing results – after all, in a time where hip-hop culture is having such a directly visible impact on the runways, who is better placed to return to the spotlight than the original tailor behind it all?

Five Reasons Why Everyone Is Talking About Philipp Plein's S/S18 Show

New York Fashion Week may be undergoing a few changes, with more than a few regulars defecting to London and Paris, but there is one thing that is likely to never change: the drama, exuberance and general extravaganza that is a Philipp Plein production. His spring/summer 2018 show certainly was no exception. Rumoured to have run into seven figures, there were plenty of headline-stealing moments from “Good Gone Bad.” Here the top 5...

 The (shortage of) space

Bursting at the seams is an adequate description. Hosted at the Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC - a massive space by any count - even this gargantuan venue failed to contain the extent of the festivities. Over 2,000 uninvited guests surrounded the venue pleading to get in. Inside, the scramble for space was real.

The FROW was as glitzy as ever

Nicki Minaj, Bella Thorne, 50 Cent, Young Paris, Ne-Yo and (of course) Paris Hilton were all in attendance. It just wouldn’t be a Plein show without them, would it?

It was a night of big performances

Plein likes to put on a show, this much we know. Kicking off proceedings was Dita Von Teese with a sparkly burlesque which ended with her swirling around in a massive martini glass. Providing the soundtrack to the event was Future, with Fifth Harmony, Yo Gotti and Nicki Minaj all in the room. In the middle of the show, Teyana Taylor burst out some serious moves with her (wild) interpretation of a catwalk strut.

The casting was as diverse (and surprising) the crowd

Adriana Lima and Irina Shayk opened and closed the show, but in between there was a great - and surprising - mix of talents. As well as Teyana Taylor and Kinoshita Manama, there was Rae Sremmurd, Matthew Noszka, Stella Maxwell, Amilna Estevao, Golden Barbie (aka Jasmine Sanders) and the real surprise: Snoop Dogg’s father and son making their way down the runway. (Snoop took a turn too, naturally.)

The hair had an empowering message

The Rapunzel-length hair seemed to play into Plein’s fetish fairy tale, but in fact they were about empowering women. "They are a symbol of female empowerment, but with a sensitive touch of romance," explained hair stylist Tina Outen backstage. Love it or loathe it, you can't escape how fun it was to see Lima snap her four-foot-long braid around like a whip on the catwalk.

20 Years Of Mert And Marcus

From their chance first meeting at a party on Hastings pier to their current position as one of the preeminent forces in fashion photography, Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott are marking 20 years in the business with their first retrospective book. We took 10 New York minutes with the pair ahead of their star-studded launch to discuss a choice selection of their greatest hits.

"We have worked a lot with Naomi, she’s a very good friend of ours and we have taken a lot of pictures over our career with her. In general, we are interested in a strong powerful woman but we approach male and female subjects in the exact same way. It’s not about a vision of a woman or a man, it’s more about a story, a character, a roleplay. We have an idea, a story, a dream in our heads to start with and eventually we create the character." Here are some of the highlights to look out for when the book is launched:

Saskia de Brauw in Self Service Magazine, London 2015

"The girls that inspire us are like movie stars. They feel it in front of the camera, they’re waiting to try anything and ultimately just come through in any situation. Saskia de Brauw is definitely one of those girls. She’ll perform, she’ll dance, she’ll give you her utmost and I think that’s the most important thing."

Kate Moss in Vogue Japan, London 2011

"Kate is a dear friend, she is also one of our most photographed muses. She is completely fearless in front of a camera and will try anything, day or night. Her beauty is something incomparable and the mixture of all those elements together gave us one of our best muses."

Mia Rae, Tamy Glauser, Ava McAvoy, Ruth Bell and Grace Bol in W Magazine, New York 2016

"We are known for a sort of cult girl, glossy, big bum and tight clothes but this shot of Mia Rae, Tamy Glauser, Ava McAvoy, Ruth Bell and Grace Bol was about something more androgynous and a homage to all different kinds of girls."

Missy Rayder in Pop Magazine, Ibiza 2005

"Ibiza, where Missy Rayder is shot here, is so close to home and was kind of our playground for many years. It has light, you’re not restricted with weather and don’t need to have permits months or weeks before or know exactly what time of day or where we were going to be. It was a place where you could be free and be naked and run around."

Help Yourself: How Zara Is Elevating The Self-Service Experience

When Zara announced earlier this year that they were to start trialing self-service checkouts stations in-store, I couldn’t have been more delighted. Two of my favourite things would be combined: 1. Shopping in Zara and 2. Being able to be master of my own checkout. Having never worked in retail when I was younger (I worked in Starbucks, where I was never allowed to touch the till), the very idea of it was thrilling.

On a recent lunchtime shopping trip, I came across the self-service droids at the Zara on Oxford Street by chance. All my teenage checkout dreams were about to come true. But just to be clear, there has never been much enthusiasm over self-service stations like the ones found in food halls. I always seem to do it wrong. I scan things incorrectly, there’s always an “unexpected item in bagging area” and the red light that flashes embarrassingly, announcing to everyone in the vicinity that you don’t know what you’re doing. The tech just isn’t fast or sophisticated enough. I now avoid them at all costs, even if it means having to wait for longer in the assisted checkout queues.

But there was something different about these voiceless (joy), touch-screen Zara wonder machines. The experience was seamless. The interface is clean and bright - like their app for anyone who has used it - the touch-screen is ridiculously responsive, you even get to remove the security tags yourself (dreamy). But the piéce de la résistance was that there was no individual scanning required. You simply stand by the till and it wirelessly picks up what you're holding and adds it all into your virtual basket on the screen in front of you. What if someone is standing next to you with items that also get picked up on your tab? No problem. You can delete them from your screen in seconds.

From start to finish it took me seven minutes (it probably could have been quicker, but I really relished the process of de-tagging the security tags). With Zara being the leader in the pack of high-street fast fashion, it seems only right that transactions should be swift, speedy and efficient to mirror their production line. As it stands, the machines are only for checkout. If you want to return something you will invariably still have to wait in what always seems to be a ridiculously long queue in the least air-conditioned part of the store, but this is most definitely a step in the right direction and the future of offline retail experiences. Oh, and in case you’re interested in what I actually purchased, I got a skirt, a jumper and a dress. But that's completely besides the point; the process far surpassed the actual purchase.

Pierre Bergé Has Died

Pierre Berge has died aged 86. The co-founder of Yves Saint Laurent died in his sleep this morning at his home in Saint-Remy-de-Provence.

"It is with immense sadness that the Fondation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent, Paris and the Fondation Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech announce the death of their founding president Pierre Bergé, which occurred on September 8, 2017, at 5.39 am, at home in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. He died in his sleep at the age of 86 following a long illness," read a statement today.

Bergé has remained an influential figure at the fashion house he founded in 1961 with its eponymous designer and his partner, Yves, who died of a brain tumour in 2008. He was also closely linked with countless other arts and cultural initiatives in his native France; in 1973, he was elected president of the Chambre Syndicale du Prêt-à-Porter Des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode and he founded the Institut Français de la Mode in 1986. He was also a vocal campaigner for gay rights and AIDS research, donating millions of pounds to the fight against the illness through the Fondation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent. He was also an active supporter of Act Up-Paris and SOS Racisme.

In 2015, the French president, François Hollande, awarded him the Grand Officier of the Ordre national de la Légion d’Honneur and last year he was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Ouissam Alaouite for eminent service to the Kingdom of Morocco by the King of Morocco. Bergé and Saint Laurent made Morocco their adoptive home, acquiring the Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech in 1966 - it remains one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.

"He was a magician who made his life and those who he loved a symphony of happiness," former French culture minister Jack Lang said today. "Pierre Bergé was above all a marvellous and loyal friend, who was there to take on all the good fights, the noble causes, in particular to provide the means for research to defeat AIDS."

Tributes have been made from throughout the industries in which he worked, including one from current Saint Laurent creative director, Anthony Vaccarello. “It is with a deep emotion that I have learned of Pierre Bergé’s passing, he welcomed me with kindness since my first day at Saint Laurent. His advice and his support have always guided me. I am infinitely sad that he will not be able to attend the opening of the two museums in Paris and Marrakech that he cared about so much. A great figure in french culture has left us.”

His words were echoed by Francesca Bellettini, Yves Saint Laurent's president and CEO, who praised Bergé with being "always ahead of his time".

"He believed in the power of creativity. He believed that art, fashion and culture could change lives and the way we live," she said. "Mr Yves Saint Laurent and Mr Bergé founded the eponymous maison with creativity at the heart of the house. Creativity is fundamental and believing in it is the key to success. Mr Pierre Bergé was an inspiration for me. He trusted his instincts. He fought for what he believed in. He stayed true to himself being the founder and supporter of incredible cultural and educational activities. This extraordinary heritage is the DNA of the maison and we are honoured and thankful to have the chance to bring his values and his spirit into the future. My thoughts are with his closest friends and family."

Rihanna Revisits A Favourite For Fenty Beauty Launch

Is there anyone who could look quite as fabulous in a banana-yellow twinset as superstar beauty guru Rihanna?

The Oscar de la Renta two-piece, with its knotted crew-neck crop top and high-waisted full skirt with tumbling hem and side slit, put her centre stage at the much-anticipated launch of her Fenty Beauty line during New York Fashion Week.

Addressing fans, press and make-up enthusiasts who were keen to get their hands on the line with bodyguards and security in excess of the woman herself, Rihanna said she felt more excited than a birthday or an album launch and that the celebration was the culmination of a two-year passion project which will continue to grow.

Her head-turning Oscar de la Renta, complemented with fierce, thigh-high diamond spiral strap Y/Project sandals, was the perfect loud, proud and positively glowing culmination of her beauty project, and reminiscent of her most-hyped product: the gold-pressed highlighter powder called the Trophy Wife. If it will give us that RiRi glow, then, bitch, she's gonna have our money.

Of course, the Wild Thoughts songstress is no stranger to a canary palette. Remember the fur and brocade embellished Guo Pei dress that generated a handful of memes and headlines at the 2015 Met Gala? Or the silk mustard Alexandre Vauthier gown she wore to the 2014 pre-Grammys gala? The Stabilo-Giambattista Valli frou-frou at the 2008 BET Awards? No? Just us.

The Horror Film Heroines Behind Calvin Klein S/S18

There are few contemporary designers as versed in both image making and mixing as Raf Simons: a man who, at his eponymous label, has previously created entire collections collaged from the work of one iconic photographer (Robert Mapplethorpe, spring/summer 2017) or the world of one film director (David Lynch autumn/winter 2016). His ability to take the visual tropes of pop culture and rework them into a new narrative is perhaps unparalleled within fashion – and never has such a skill been more apparent than in his newest collection for Calvin Klein.

Not only do the pieces incorporate screen-printed Andy Warhol imagery, but broader inspiration riffed off “the dream factory of Hollywood and its depictions of both an American nightmare and the all-powerful American dream,” said the brand, creating an heart-racing ode to “thriller heroines, heroes, and antiheroes.” Simons has spliced together some of the silver screen’s most iconic figures to form covetable cultural commentary at its best: a remixed medley of horror’s greatest hits during a time when modern America appears more sinister than ever.

Here, in celebration, we present a (by no means exhaustive) list of some of cinema’s most iconic horror heroines, those whose influence on Calvin Klein spring/summer 2018 is immutable.

Sissy Spacek in Carrie

One of American horror’s most renowned protagonists is, of course, Carrie: the poor prom queen drenched in blood during what ought be her proudest moment. The accompanying visual has earned cultish renown – but, when seen through Simons’ lens, is transformed into something particularly beautiful. Not only were her delicate nightdresses reworked into ethereal eveningwear, but a raining shower of pig blood and its subsequently dripping streams become layers of red, shimmering fringing stitched upon fishnet. Carrie, you did not suffer in vain.

Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby

The baby blue babydoll that Mia Farrow wears as she attempts to murder her hideous progeny is cinematic wardrobe at its finest: simultaneously paying homage to all of the visual cues of Puritanical innocence and Balenciaga’s Trapeze silhouette. Here, it is reprised as an almost sickeningly sweet anorak with functional fastenings – because who said fashion can’t be practical?

Shelley Duvall in The Shining

The enduring influence of The Shining appears in multiple incarnations at Calvin Klein: through the Eighties plaid suiting of Jack Nicholson’s character, which appeared in the menswear looks, but also in Simons’ version of Shelley Duvall’s primary-coloured pinafore. As if to prove a point, he even gave his new version of Wendy Torrance sunshine yellow shoes in accordance with the original costume. A remarkable remix indeed.

Grace Kelly in Rear Window

When Simons was creative director of Christian Dior, he proved particular prowess in updating the codes of the French couture house: by his hand, Dior’s New Look became new once more. Such an affinity for Mid-century design was directly echoed in looks at Calvin Klein that paid tribute to Grace Kelly’s wardrobe in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window but now rendered in new, synthetic fabrications (waterproof nylon, to be precise). Expansive, blooming skirts with cinched waists and a wipe-clean finish: what more could a woman want?