Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Say Hello To ‘Hard Chic’, The Look Sweeping Fashion Week

There’s been something of a current of ‘hard chic’ emerging in New York this season – tighter waists, sharper shoulders, a lot of black, glossy fabrics. Generally, a graphicism – an edge. It was there, sharply in focus, at the Self-Portrait show, where Han Chong streamlined his silhouettes, showing slick black and white, stripes of crystal and lurex as embellishment, and a fair amount of leather (albeit lace-trimmed). “It feels very French,” he said backstage, “very chic.” Which is, of course, where this whole idea came from in fashion – namely, Yves Saint Laurent. He dressed women in slick trouser suits back in the 1960s – a period when women wouldn’t be permitted entrance to smart restaurants if wearing them – and paved the way for subsequent sartorial liberation.

‘Hard chic’ was an idea coined in the 80s, although it reflected the aforementioned 60s, and earlier still. It dressed women for the cut-throat business world competently, with streamlined beauty. And it’s an idea that has come to define a subset of powerful fashion that nevertheless refuses to surrender femininity. Here then is a dissection of a few of the major moments in the history of ‘hard chic’.

Adrian dressing Joan Crawford, 1930´s

Gilbert Adrian was head of costume at MGM for 13 years, creating outfits for some 200 films. Seen by millions across the globe, his clothes were, arguably, more influential than any couturier’s output of the same period, and his fruitful relationship with Joan Crawford made her a Kardashian of her day. Crawford was tall, with broad shoulders – Adrian allegedly referred to her figure as “a regular Johnny Weissmuller,” referencing the actor famous for playing Tarzan in the 1932 film. He dressed her in squared shoulders to exaggerate her natural figure, and a fashion was born, accompanied by razor-sharp tailoring. After years of sinuous bias-cuts and flapper dresses, this vision was new – and decidedly hard.

Yves Saint Laurent, Spring/Summer 1971

30 years after Adrian left MGM, Yves Saint Laurent paid homage to ‘hard chic’ in his Spring/Summer 1971 collection – dubbed the ‘Forties’ collection by the designer, but drubbed as a ‘tour de force of bad taste’ by the press. It was, however, as influential as Garbo and Crawford had been in Adrian’s clothes. This show introduced the Saint Laurent shoulder, an emphatic sharp shape to his tailoring (seen in this rare video of the collection) which the designer would use for the rest of his career. It also profoundly influenced the silhouette of the decade to come.

Dynasty, 1980´s

Building on those shapes established by Yves Saint Laurent, by the end of the 70s wide padded shoulders had emerged as the favoured design detail among avant-garde Parisian designers. It would take a few years for them to be assimilated into the mainstream – and the designer who managed it was Nolan Miller, who created costumes for the television soap opera Dynasty between 1981 and 1989. He won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Costumes for a Series in 1984 and, with a weekly budget of an astounding $35,000, devised some of the most extreme visions of ‘hard chic’ – or, perhaps more evocatively, ‘bitch dressing’. His designs were ripped off widely, and Miller himself launched a mass-market line to capitalise. His costumes both epitomised the zenith of 80s conspicuous consumption – but also a powerful vision of the assertive new woman.

Addicted to Love, 1986

The video the musician Robert Palmer released to accompany his single Addicted to Love is, perhaps, the purest embodiment of the idea of ‘hard chic’. Directed by the fashion photographer Terence Donovan, it features a phalanx of tightly chignoned, heavily made up models (intended, apparently, to look like mannequins) clutching instruments as Palmer’s backing band. “I would simply dress a group of international models in Azzedine Alaïa dresses,” wrote Donovan in his original treatment for the video – which paid attention to hair and make-up, but only specified Alaïa as the fashion. “This designer at the moment produces clothes that make men quite irrational... He understands the linear engineering of a woman’s body unlike any other designer.” Alaïa’s hard chic was, of course, the defining mode of the late 80s and early 90s – but his hardness came with softness, a gentleness and a true femininity seemed into those streamlined, man-eating clothes. Perhaps more ‘power chic’ than ‘hard chic’.

H&M Announces “Flirtatious & Feminine” Collaboration With Colombian Designer Johanna Ortiz

Hot on the heels of H&M’s tulle-laden Giambattista Valli collection, the high-street giant has unveiled its latest collaborator: Johanna Ortiz. The Colombian designer’s work is defined by bold prints in unabashedly-bright colourways and structured ruffles. H&M’s brief? To channel all of that into a purse-friendly “flirtatious and feminine” edit for the masses. Ortiz has delivered.

An exclusive pre-drop of four H&M X Johanna Ortiz dresses will be released in select stores and at Hm.com on 3 December, and the main collection will follow in March 2020 (Valli opted for a similar formula of teasing select products). The first pieces are fresh and floral-heavy in flattering silhouettes. Think wrap mididresses with long sleeves that balloon ever so slightly, and high-neck silky styles that are cinched at the waist and then fall to the floor in tiers. The final offering will expand to include separates and swimwear using more patterns from the flamboyant fashionista’s archive.

Ortiz is the first Colombian designer the Swedish fast fashion titan has tapped for its much-hyped collaborations, and she’s “proud [to give] the world a little bit of our Latin flair”. “I’ve never lived for a long time in any fashion capital, but now I’ve been reached by H&M,” she tells Vogue. “They came down here to visit me to start working together. It feels like I’m doing things right.” Sixteen years after she launched her namesake brand in her hometown of Cali, Ortiz is finally about to go global.

Alexander Wang Is Skipping His Next Fashion Show in Favour Of A 15th Anniversary Blowout In 2020

Since moving to the pre-season schedule, Alexander Wang has found new ways to one-up himself, none more memorable than when Pete Davidson hit the makeshift catwalk in the Rockefeller Center last June. How would he top that this season? Well, it’s definitely his most shocking proposition yet. By doing nothing.

The designer is sitting out the pre-fall season entirely with plans to celebrate his brand’s 15th anniversary in the spring of 2020. “It was really thinking about: How can we dedicate and really focus our resources where we felt it was necessary?” Wang said. “For us that was the 15th anniversary. A show in December felt like it maybe wasn’t the best place to put our focus. I don’t want to say that this is a decision that means we won’t return to a fashion show again, or that we don’t believe in the format, but it just felt like the right moment for us to do something different.”

Wang was one of the first designers to move his shows to a June-December schedule in 2017, helping to establish micro-fashion weeks in New York. At the time, the thinking was that the off-season schedule allowed for bigger impact shows – less competition for editors’ time and eyeballs. It also aligned better with wholesale buys, meaning that retailers could allot higher percentages of their seasonal budgets to Wang. “I think the proven success [of the pre-collection schedule] is that we’ve seen orders be able to really grow under this cadence,” Wang said. “I think that was the right move for us. It was definitely a good learning experience.”

The fact that a pre-fall 2020 collection would deliver at the height of Wang’s planned 15-year celebrations was one reason the brand chose to leave the schedule. Another is his ongoing inclination to innovate and disrupt the fashion system. “When we look at some of our most memorable shows, I think the things that we remember and the things that resonate with our audience have always been about more than just the clothes: It’s the entire experience,” he said. “It was the story, it was the location, it was the concept. It was always more than just a fashion show. We want to be able to look at this from a different point of view that will allow us to be a little more experimental. That’s really where the intention to do something bigger next year came from.”

The form that “something bigger” might take is still mostly under wraps, although the designer did admit he’s planning a big-time consumer-facing “moment” for the second quarter of the year. Wang stressed the importance of speaking directly to his shoppers. “All of this energy and effort has always been in service of the customer. In thinking about how we’ve shown before, as exciting as it has been to put on these big events, most of the customers don’t know what season it is, what collection it is, when it’s really arriving in stores. They love the energy of the Rockefeller Center show but when they go to the store, it’s not really reflected there,” he said. For the 15-year celebrations, Wang is brainstorming new ways to create immediate connections between idea, event, and product. Though product might actually come last in that hierarchy.

“I said to the team: It doesn’t even matter if we’re showing product,” Wang said boldly. “I think that today, the relationship between brand and customer is much deeper than that. Obviously, there is going to be other pieces of content and things that we’ll do after this big kick-off that will service the product in a really direct way. The kick-off is going to be something that is more about establishing who we are... At the end of the day I think that anyone can buy product anywhere. We want to be deeper than that. I think it’s more important to build and establish our roots so that we can be around for another 15 years, that is really my main message.”

Thanks to social media and various personal projects, Wang is in contact with his consumer more than ever. He can track comments on his YouTube web series while he personally reads through the DMs on his Instagram. “Some are crazy, some are scary, some are heartwarming, but you get this direct connection with a person who either appreciates the brand or has some criticism,” Wang said. “I think that is something that we really take to heart. These are people who have something to say and they want to tell you.” He’ll get even closer to his fans when his talk show, Potty Talk, debuts on Quibi next year too.

In describing this multi-faceted approach, Wang begins to sound a lot like someone pursuing a lifestyle concept. That’s not surprising – he paid homage to the American icons Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein on his last runway. “Sometimes I think it’s good that people can’t classify you,” he said, shirking the traditional label of fashion designer. “There are other exciting projects coming up that I can’t necessarily announce right now,” he continued, “but they will definitely push the limits in terms of how we can be able to build lifestyle. That’s a hope and an ambition for the future.”

The Wang lifestyle, of course, is about partying and having a good time. Last week, Wang hosted a holiday party on the Lower East Side, and in January, he’ll put together a Chinese New Year celebration. Later in the winter, he’ll open his second flagship at the American Dream mall in New Jersey. All this, plus a springtime of 15th anniversary celebrations, guarantees plenty of opportunities for a #Wangover in 2020. As the designer talks about connection with his clientele and upping the ante on what a fashion brand can be, he starts to wax poetic. “What’s going to make us feel different? What’s going to leave a lasting memory?” A word of advice from the designer himself: Take some milk thistle before hitting the bar to ensure that the memories from these upcoming #Wangfests actually last.

The Race Is On To Make Biodegradable (& Beautiful) Lingerie

For 140 years, Solstiss has manufactured lace on Leavers machines in northern France. When the company, which supplies brands including Givenchy, Alexander McQueen and Valentino, decided to create its first organic cotton range, it faced a significant technical challenge.

The looms, between 100 and 150 years old, process only extremely thin yarn like viscose, nylon and wool. The thicker organic cotton that was then available would withstand the loom but Solstiss clients, including French brand Fleur du Mal, demand a much more delicate fabric. It took two years of research and technical adaptation for the company to successfully produce the world’s first Leavers lace made out of organic cotton, which was completed in October.

The challenges encountered by Solstiss highlight the finickity nature of making premium-to-luxury undergarments eco-friendly. Thus far, the industry has largely centred on recycled fabrics, per Raphael Camp, CEO of body fashion network Eurovet Americas. But some manufacturers are pushing to integrate natural and biodegradable fibres into lingerie and undergarments as customers question the impact of synthetics.

Consumers are anxious about toxic chemicals in clothing. Victoria’s Secret, for example, faced allegations in 2009 that its bras contained formaldehyde after customers reported breaking out in rashes. A lawsuit was dropped after the label produced test results showing there was no trace of the chemical, but the furore shows the scrutiny that products in intimate contact with the body come under. Yet, in the fragmented lingerie market, no brand has emerged as a clear leader in sustainability.

Biodegradable products are a promising alternative since composting standards require no harmful chemicals to be released during the breakdown period. Wolford released its Aurora collection of compostable leggings and pullovers in September 2018, following four years of development. To create the collection, the Austrian hosiery manufacturer had to find a way to reduce the toxicity of black pigment production and rebuild 10 of its knitting machines to utilise renewable energy. The range uses modal, a fabric made from dissolved wood pulp, in addition to compostable polyester and elastane. Lyocell, modal’s sister fabric made through a similar process, is used in other products by Wolford. (The stretch of both materials make them good fits for bodywear.)

The Aurora collection earned Wolford the textiles industry’s first Cradle to Cradle certification, which recognises circular production standards. Wolford’s work has also created a roadmap for other brands in the sector. Premium male underwear firms CDLP and Hamilton & Hare have experimented with lyocell, while Marks & Spencer, Dolce & Gabbana and Howies have used modal in their underwear lines.

According to Edited, the number of products described as containing lyocell has increased by 36 per cent in the US over the last year. While potentially more expensive — Aurora leggings sell for £20 more than Wolford’s equivalent leggings made from viscose — the process has proven zero-waste garments are a possibility with the proper investment. The success of the material has led Lenzing, modal’s creator, to dedicate €1 billion to lyocell production facilities over the next few years.

While synthetic fabrics like elastane and polyester are easy to criticise, they also help give bras their shape and support. These undergarments need to be flexible enough to move with the rib cage, while strong enough to support the bust. Mark Sumner, a former fabric development technologist at Marks & Spencer who now lectures at the University of Leeds, describes them as one of the most highly engineered pieces of clothing.

Compostable polyesters and elastanes have been developed but not deemed up to standard by most lingerie producers. In May 2018, Australian businesswoman Stephanie Devine launched a Kickstarter for funding the “world’s first zero-waste bra” that omitted these materials entirely. She had spent 18 months developing the bra using sustainable Lenzing products and tree-rubber elastic before launching the Kickstarter, which raised more than AUD 69,000 (about £36,500).

When placed in an industrial composting facility, the “Very Good Bra” would last about three months before it fully decomposed, Devine says. Wolford’s Aurora range decomposes in 60 days in similar conditions.

But while zero-waste products are an attractive prospect for sustainably-minded consumers, durability can be a concern. “People ask me ‘If I lie down in the garden, will it start to disappear?’” says Devine, stressing that the materials only degrade that quickly under composting conditions. (Wolford specifies decomposition only begins when products are treated with a natural enzyme in a facility maintained at a temperature of 60 degrees Celsius.)

Sumner remains unconvinced that a wire-, polyester- and elastane-free bra can offer the same level of support that customers expect. Despite gaining buzz from the Kickstarter and a primetime TV spot in Australia, the Very Good Bra is still a small brand.

Whether biodegradability is something bra manufacturers should aim to produce en masse is debatable. Bras, as they are currently made, are durable products that can be reused and recycled, according to Sumner.

An alternative to biodegradability is circularity. In practical terms, this means elements of a garment that do not decompose easily can be reintegrated into the production cycle. Rather than develop biodegradable products, more work could be done to encourage take-back schemes, such as offering discounts to those who donate old lingerie products, something Marks & Spencer does in the UK. Some brands are also integrating recycled fabrics into lingerie and underwear: Asos makes a range made out of polyamide, Reformation uses recycled elastane and polyamide across its lingerie line.

Still, some manufacturers are seeking out ways to make disposable products that resonate with customer demand for natural materials. Brazilian company Rosset manufactures biodegradable yarn and Hong Kong firm Hang Sang now sells elastic that will erode under the right conditions. French knit specialist D2P Billon showcased a delicate creation made out of polyamide produced from castor oil at the October Interfiliere bodywear conference in New York.

For Eurovet’s Camp, biodegradable lingerie is likely to grow in importance as shoppers shift away from bedroom-only pieces to intimate apparel that is versatile enough to belong in a number of settings.

“This is well-aligned with the adoption of more sustainable lifestyle habits overall, and lingerie, swimwear and activewear brands are responding,” he says. “As an extension of this, we expect the interest and experimentation with natural and plant-based fibres… to continue to expand,” he says.

Introducing Pradidas: The First Box-Fresh Products From The Hotly-Anticipated Collaboration

After much teasing via the Prada and Adidas social channels, the luxury house and the sportswear giant have released a glimpse of the first products from their collaboration.

Naturally, trainers were top of the agenda. The Prada Superstar sneaker is the Italian label’s limited-edition take on the Adidas Originals sports shoe, which launched in 1969 and is still one of the German titan’s universal signatures. Created in Italy in a limited run of 700, each new unisex model features the edition number and the Prada logo embossed on the side, plus the combined brand tag on the tongue.

Next up, Prada’s bowling bag gets an athletic makeover, aligning one of its trademark silhouettes with an Adidas gym bag. The optic-white calf leather base is punctuated with a black trim, stamped with the twinning logo and, again, the serial number. Both clean, streamlined Prada for Adidas Limited Edition product lines will be available from 4 December – just in time for Christmas.

The tie-up marks yet another foray into the fashion sector for Adidas, a brand that continues to offer a subcultural lilt to the luxury sphere via collaborations with Stella McCartney, Rick Owens, Raf Simons and Kanye West’s Yeezy. Prada, too, has long integrated sportswear into its offering via its Prada Sport collection, which is now branded as Prada Linea Rossa. What’s next in the partnership? Our money is on athleisure. Imagine the tracksuits.

Tiffany & Co Sells To LVMH In Landmark $16.2 Billion Deal

LVMH has sealed a deal to buy Tiffany & Co for $16.2 billion (£12.6 billion), after weeks of back and forth negotiations that sent the industry rumour mill into overdrive. The French conglomerate initially bid $120 (£93) per share for the American jeweller, and finally settled on $135 (£104). The business move strengthens the French luxury group’s position in the jewellery sector, and indeed the fashion industry as a whole.

What does Tiffany & Co gain by joining forces with the powerhouse? A holding hand to guide it through the rapidly expanding digital sphere. The household-name brand – which was founded in 1837 and is known for its signature duck egg-blue boxes – already has an invaluable heritage, but needs assistance navigating the tech space and connecting with a younger audience. “Tiffany will reach new heights, capitalising on its remarkable internal expertise, unparalleled craftsmanship and strong cultural values,” said Alessandro Bogliolo, chief executive officer of Tiffany & Co, of the union.

Bernard Arnault, LVMH chairman and chief executive officer, pledged that the parent company would “develop this jewel with the same dedication and commitment that we have applied to each and every one of our maisons”. LVMH currently owns Bulgari, Tag Heuer and Hublot in its hard luxury (watches and jewellery) portfolio, but Tiffany & Co is the largest acquisition Arnault has made during his 32-year tenure. The ambitious deal aligns the holding company with the likes of Richemont, a key competitor in the personal luxury goods market.

How LVMH will evolve the storied jeweller’s reputation from its perfectly-packaged Breakfast at Tiffany’s heyday will prove interesting to watch. As Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly character mused in the 1961 film, which bolstered the house’s mainstream status, “Nothing very bad could happen to you” at the Manhattan flagship. It’s now Arnault’s job to make sure customers keep visiting the other 300-plus stores, too.

Lizzo Amps Up Her Red-Carpet Game With The World’s Smallest Valentino Bag

If there was one popstar in particular who was feeling “good as hell” at the American Music Awards, it was Lizzo. The Vogue cover star, who was nominated for three prizes, chose a peach Valentino one-shoulder minidress with tiered ruffles for her red-carpet moment. But it was the tiny bag counterbalancing her frilly confection that scored the nod for Best Accessory.

Lizzo balanced a Barbie-sized Valentino Garavani Vsling bag in the same Tipp-Ex shade as her Stuart Weitzman heeled sandals between her thumb and first finger. While previous micro handbags, such as Jacquemus’s best-selling Le Petit Chiquito, are sizeable enough to contain a pair of EarPods, Lizzo’s logo bag, made in collaboration with Obvious Plant, was smaller in diameter than one of her jewel-encrusted nails. It was simply for the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it fashion kudos – there are only three in the world, according to the singer, who joked that she had a flask of tequila and tampons concealed inside. (See clips of her boasting about its capacious credentials at the newly-created fan account @lizzostinybag).

Fans cooing at the “Juice” singer’s itsy bitsy teeny weeny accessory can find similar sized bags at Fendi, Jil Sander, Versace, Tod’s and Emporio Armani next season – enough time to orchestrate a major spring clean of your handbag essentials to, well, nada. Lizzo might have lost out to the likes of Billie Eilish and Beyoncé in her artist categories, but her granular Valentino has pushed her ahead of the curve for spring/summer 2020.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech

Dedicated to the work of the legendary French fashion designer, the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech (mYSLm) opened its doors in autumn 2017. It houses an important selection from the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent’s impressive collection, which comprises 5,000 items of clothing, 15,000 haute couture accessories as well as tens of thousands of sketches and assorted objects.

The building has been designed by the French architecture firm Studio KO, founded by architects Olivier Marty and Karl Fournier. Situated on Rue Yves Saint Laurent, adjacent to the famous Jardin Majorelle, the new building spans over 4,000 m2 and is more than just a museum. It features a 400 m2 permanent exhibition space, showcasing Yves Saint Laurent’s work within an original scenography designed by Christophe Martin; a 150 m2 temporary exhibition space, a 130-seat auditorium, a bookshop, a café-restaurant with a terrace and a research library housing 5,000 books.

The library’s collection includes books on Arabic and Andalusian history, geography, literature, and poetry, as well as numerous volumes related to botany, Berber culture, Yves Saint Laurent’s oeuvre and the world of fashion. While researching the designer’s archives in Paris, Studio KO was intrigued by the duality between curves and straight lines, and the succession of loose and clean cuts. From the outside, the building is composed of cubic forms adorned with bricks which create a pattern resembling threads of fabric. The inside is markedly different, like the lining of a luxurious couture jacket: luminous, velvety and smooth.

Built of terracotta, concrete and an earthen coloured terrazzo with Moroccan stone fragments, the building blends harmoniously with its surroundings. The terracotta bricks that embellish the facade are made from Moroccan earth and produced by a local supplier. The terrazzo used for the floor and facade is made using a combination of local stone and marble.

Exceptionally precise methods for conserving textiles have been put in place by the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent, which has worked for over a decade towards the archiving of the late designer’s work. In collaboration with X-Art, specialists in preventative conservation, the Marrakech museum features an air conditioning system complete with temperature and moisture control to ensure that each item, be it a couture dress from the collection on show in the exhibition space or a rare book in the basement archives, remains preserved in perfect archival condition.

The auditorium’s state-of-the-art acoustics were designed by the architects in collaboration with Theatre Projects Consultant. This allows for the programming of concerts, film screenings, and conferences in a separate and soundproof space.

After a thorough study, the lighting engineers I.C.O.N installed the lighting of the external spaces surrounding the museum, the museum’s interior, and the atmospheric lighting for the exhibition space. 

Could Having To Try On Jeans Become A Thing Of The Past?

Weekday’s organic cotton jeans were the best-selling denim of 2019 and the ninth most-coveted product, according to global fashion search platform Lyst, which tracks consumer data. The latest innovation from the Swedish high-street retailer is rooted in the same sustainable business practices and has the potential to change the way we shop jeans entirely.

Working with the start-up Unspun in H&M’s innovation hub, The Laboratory, Weekday has developed size-free jeans using digital software. An algorithm uses a customer’s 3D body scan to create a paper pattern and list of measurements. The jeans are then produced in partner factories within 10 days of the initial blueprint – complete with any bonus trim, stitching or pocket personalisation required. The rigmarole of wriggling into pair after pair of ill-fitting jeans in clinically lit changing rooms could be no more.

Out of the 100 guinea pigs who trialled the service – including Laura Coppen, H&M sustainable and circular business developer, who said she was “sceptical on how all the pieces of the puzzle of this model would fit together” – 80 per cent of consumers said they were satisfied with the end product. (The retailer had predicted that 65 per cent would respond positively).

There are issues that need to be resolved before the first scanner is installed in the first (as yet undisclosed) Weekday store. Namely, returns. If custom pieces are returned due to customer dissatisfaction, the denim will become deadstock, which negates the direct-to-consumer strategy of reducing excess fashion. Over the last 18 months, The Laboratory has been road-testing the technology on various Weekday products to ensure it becomes increasingly accurate over time. The biggest challenge is adapting the algorithm to ensure that each pair of jeans, which will roughly retail for $93 (£72), resembles the original Weekday style after resizing. This development process comes at a huge cost, and H&M is still looking for suppliers that will be able to produce more than one style at a time. Scaling up to supply demand will then be on the agenda.

“This has the potential to be very disruptive. It’s about redefining the entire system,” Coppen told WWD. “This disrupts every stage of the production cycle, from design to supply chains to how we offer the experience to the customer. On-demand production is a great opportunity to be both sustainable and profitable.” If successful, Weekday jeans will have “better emotional durability” than competitor models, and service the buy-less, wear-more mentality fashion is moving towards – one step at a time.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Couture Comes To Christie’s With An Extravagant Dolce & Gabbana Exhibition

It’s quite possible that Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana were born in the wrong century. Their dedication to an unfailingly bombastic, gilded aesthetic would neatly lend itself to a Renaissance existence. No wonder, then, that the designers took the 15th century as inspiration for the Alta Moda show they staged in December 2018 - and that it informs a new exhibition at Christie’s.

Art Adorned, which runs from 22nd November until 3rd December at Christie’s London, takes twoscore Dolce & Gabbana couture gowns and displays them alongside the Renaissance originals. A full-skirted, corseted dress featuring a cross-stitched replica of the 1505-1506 painting Madonna del Prato by Raphael, for instance, sits alongside Francesco Botticini’s similarly rich oil painting Madonna and Child with Two Angels. There are objects, too: an extraordinarily opulent north European Ormolu and crystal-glass 19th century chandelier is suspended near a pair of Alta Gioielleria chandelier earrings in yellow and white gold and studded with diamonds.

Deep-pocketed clients seeking a pair of Russian mahogany parcel-gilt and ebonised armchairs on which to recline in their couture are in luck, as well as those for whom a dramatic portrait of Francesca Gambereschi, by Santi di Tito, in a red and gilt-embroidered gown would comprise the perfect backdrop, perhaps, for a paillette-choked Dolce dress framed with gold and red silk ruffles.

Such is the synergy between the art and the fashion that the exhibition came about quite naturally, according to Sandra Romito, senior consultant for Christie’s Old Masters department. “There was a dialogue between the designers and us, where they showed us their dresses and we thought about what might go alongside them,” Romito told Vogue. “It’s a celebration of craftsmanship, of inventiveness, of ideas - there is a natural flow between the works of art, the couture and the jewellery in rooms dedicated broadly to the Baroque and the Rococo.”

Christie’s hopes that the exhibition will make Old Masters feel more accessible to a younger audience. “It’s a way to get rid of the dust that’s associated with Old Master paintings and decorative art,” Romito said. “We’ve worked hard to create an exhibition that is academically correct but not heavy. The exhibition is open to everybody, and there are works of art on sale for £1,000 - not just those in the millions.” Several of the works are loans, though most are for private sales. “There is a physical relationship that you can have with the works when you step into the gallery - it’s phenomenal, and that’s why I love working here,” said Romito. She added: “It makes the art and the haute couture more human - we’re not at the National Gallery, we’re not at a boutique.”

The other headline-making element? A painting that has recently been reattributed to a woman: The Triumph of Galatea, formerly ascribed to Bernardo Cavallino, now attributed to Artemisia Gentileschi, an Italian Baroque painter who was the first woman to become a member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence. “Exhibitions dedicated to female Old Master painters are on the rise,” said Romito. “There are so few of them - as women, we weren’t allowed to paint, to go to the academies, to study anatomy. The few women that could make it as painters were those whose parents were painters, those who grew up in studios. Most of them became portrait painters, because to paint history - which is the main field for Old Masters - you had to study anatomy.”

The Triumph of Galatea, therefore, makes for an interesting conversation piece. “It’s a beautiful painting, very large, quite grand,” said Romito. “I avoid the feminist spin when it comes to female Old Masters - I just want the facts. But this painting is really stunning.” And with the first major exhibition of Artemisia Gentileschi’s work going on display at the National Gallery in spring 2020, now’s the time to invest - your hand-painted corset dress, after all, deserves better than a mere handbag as a companion piece.

Chanel’s Fanciful Hat Maker Is Bringing A Pinch Of Parisian Whimsy To London

Couture milliner Maison Michel is opening a London flagship in December. The location on 26 Conduit Street will replace the brand’s small Burlington Arcade space, which opened its doors in 2014. “London is a key market for Maison Michel,” a spokesperson told WWD. “In London there are both local customers who are highly educated in terms of hat-making and millinery as well as a dynamic and diverse international clientele.”

“We wanted to stay in Mayfair, but with a larger space to display our collections and where we can offer the best possible service to all our customers,” they continued. “The new boutique also has much better visibility from the street.” The new Mayfair outpost will see the 1936-born Parisian hat maker experiment with a new boutique concept centred around the idea of contrasts – a play on the monochrome boxes that encase its whimsical creations. The shop will also stock a new limited-edition capsule collection called Legacy Parade before it is rolled out to other markets.

Acquired by Chanel in 1997 and integrated into its Paraffection subsidiary of specialty ateliers in 2006, Maison Michel has grown from a bespoke milliner into one of the industry’s chicest purveyors of original head toppers. Under the artistic direction of Priscilla Roye, who climbed up the ranks at Vivienne Westwood and took the helm of Maison Michel in 2015, it has grown in US and Asian markets, as well as continuing to manufacture for brands such as Maison Margiela and Lemaire. With Roye’s mission to rethink hats for everyday at the core of the company, prepare to see a lot more boaters, berets and cat-eared headbands embellished with lace veils around London in the run-up to Christmas. How festive.

Rihanna Names Normani Savage X Fenty’s First Ambassador As Victoria’s Secret Cancels Show

As the death knell sounded on the Victoria’s Secret show and the airtime of its Angels, another lingerie modelling career was inaugurated. Rihanna announced Normani as Savage X Fenty’s first ambassador within hours of the news from L Brands, Victoria’s Secret’s parent company, that it was axing its signature show format and working on “evolving its messaging”. Social media rejoiced that the US underwear giant’s outdated business model was finally coming to an end, as the number of likes on Normani’s celebratory post rose.

“Normani is the perfect choice for a Savage X ambassador” Rihanna said in a statement. “She exudes confidence and power. Everything she does is executed with passion and the belief she’s going to kill it. That’s why people gravitate towards her.”

The “Motivation” singer reciprocated the admiration for her fellow popstar: “Rihanna is always at the cutting edge and continues to push the boundaries in everything she does,” said Normani. “The way she embraces her sexuality and exudes grace is such an inspiration to me and so many other women around the world. Rihanna and Savage X celebrate and empower women of all shapes, sizes, and colours everywhere – it’s a beautiful thing and is truly revolutionary.”

Normani appeared in Rihanna’s boundary-breaking lingerie show during New York Fashion Week’s autumn/winter 2019 season, which pushed the envelope in terms of how underwear is presented to consumers. Described by RiRi as a “fashion musical”, the multi-layered performance piece, streamed on Amazon Prime, celebrated bodies as “works of art” and empowered viewers through its all-inclusive casting, choreography and unapologetically sassy attitude. It was thrilling to watch and, as creative director Willo Perron said, summed up how “fashion should approach its messaging moving forward”.

Victoria’s Secret, meanwhile, is struggling to work out its place in a market populated by a “woke” audience demanding more from brands. “We will communicate to customers through lots of vehicles including social media and other channels,” L Brands CFO Stuart Burgdoerfer said with regard to company strategy, after pulling the plug on its show following dwindling viewer figures. The lingerie giant has had long enough to grow from its regressive policies and, transphobic remarks made by former marketing chief marketing officer Ed Razek, but still lacks authenticity. While the Fenty empire is resolutely made in the image of Rihanna, a thoroughly progressive, 21st-century mogul – “It’s all me as the muse, it’s all me behind everything,” she has said – there are still questions over whether Victoria’s Secret can find a formula that works for an increasingly clued-up customer whose definition of femininity has inclusivity at its heart.

Victoria's Secret Cancels Christmas Fashion Show

The annual Victoria’s Secret televised fashion show, known for its jewel-encrusted bras and supermodels sporting angel wings, will not be held this holiday season, according to an announcement by parent company L Brands Inc. The official confirmation comes months after Shanina Shaik, an Australian model and Victoria’s Secret Angel, told the Daily Telegraph the show would not be going ahead.

In May, after years of declining viewership, L Brands chief executive Leslie Wexler announced the runway show would no longer air on US network television. At the time, Wexler said the company was evaluating its marketing strategy for the show.
Advertisement The December 2018 show, aired on Walt Disney Co’s ABC network, was watched by 3.3 million Americans, compared with 12 million in 2001 when it was first broadcast.

When asked if the fashion show would be held this holiday season, chief financial officer Stuart Burgdoerfer said: “¨No, we’ll be communicating to customers, but nothing that I would say is similar in magnitude to the fashion show. We think it’s important to evolve the marketing of Victoria’s Secret,” he said on the earnings call on Thursday.¨

The brand has been losing customers as more women shift to more contemporary underwear from companies such as American Eagle Outfitter’s Aerie and pop singer Rihanna’s lingerie line, Savage X Fenty. More than 53 Victoria’s Secret stores are set to close in the United States this year. In addition to slumping sales and viewership, Victoria’s Secret has faced a string of controversies.


In August, Victoria’s Secret’s chief marketing officer Ed Razek stepped down. In a much-criticised interview with Vogue in 2018, Razek said the brand would not cast transgender or plus-sized models “because the show is a fantasy”. At the same time his retirement was announced, Victoria’s Secret cast its first transgender model.

Earlier this year, Karlie Kloss, super model and former Victoria’s Secret Angel, stated: “The reason I decided to stop working with Victoria’s Secret was I didn’t feel it was an image that was truly reflective of who I am and the kind of message I want to send to young women around the world about what it means to be beautiful.” She told British Vogue that leaving the brand was “a pivotal moment in me stepping into my power as a feminist”.

The cancellation of Victoria’s Secret’s runway show does not put an end to the blockbuster lingerie catwalk. At New York Fashion Week in September, Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty show garnered great attention, and was later made available for streaming via Amazon Prime.

Kendall Jenner Is Obsessed With Limited-Edition Louis Vuitton Bags

Limited-edition Louis Vuitton bags created in collaboration with artists hold serious celebrity caché. Rihanna has a particular predilection for vanity trunks given makeovers by Takashi Murakami and Frank Gehry, and now Kendall Jenner is showing off her cultural credentials via arm candy from the house, too.

The model has been pictured carrying a shoulder bag from Stephen Sprouse’s tie-up with Louis Vuitton in New York this week. The 2001 collaboration was born out of former creative director Marc Jacobs’s desire to deface the brand’s iconic monogram, and was subsequently revived in 2008 in homage to the US artist, who died in 2004. Known for his graffiti prints and fluoro fashion, Sprouse injected the storied French maison with a dose of anarchy that chimed with Jacobs’s own vision.

Two decades on, Kendall Jenner might, at first read, seem like an unlikely champion of Sprouse’s iconic scrawl. But the reality TV star is the owner of a burgeoning vintage bag collection that also includes Hermès Birkins and Kellys, such as the buttercup-yellow one she toted this week. The rest of the Kardashian-Jenner clan has a plethora of Louis Vuitton Speedies and Néos between them (remember when Kim brought back Nano Speedy bags for all the kids from Japan?), but Kendall’s pochette has kudos that can rival that of Rihanna, the ultimate influencer.

Chanel Reschedules Métiers D’Art Show

Chanel has rescheduled its Métiers d’Art presentation, because a national strike is set to take place in Paris on the 5th December show day. The 2019-2020 collection will now be staged on 4th December at an undisclosed location in the French capital.

The pre-fall ready-to-wear line, which honours the craftsmanship of Chanel’s artisan collaborators, was introduced by Karl Lagerfeld in 2002. The 2019-2020 collection will be the first Métiers d’Art edit designed exclusively by Virginie Viard, who took the reins when the creative director died in February. Lagerfeld’s last Ancient Egypt-themed Métiers d’Art vision was displayed in Manhattan’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, and he had previously taken the work of Chanel’s illustrious ateliers to Scotland, Dallas, Shanghai and Rome.

Although the Métiers d’Art show enjoyed a pit stop back in Paris when the Ritz hotel reopened in 2016, the decision to stay in the City of Lights follows recent moves made by the brand to strengthen its bond there. In February 2018, Chanel signed on as the exclusive private sponsor of the Grand Palais renovation, and pledged €25 million to the works, which are due to be completed in time for the Paris Summer Olympics in 2024. The current social upheaval in France has caused other brands, including Dior, to move events in the fashion calendar, too.

In September, Chanel began works on its new Métiers d’Art workshops in Aubervilliers, a northern suburb of Paris. The site will house the majority of the 26 specialty ateliers that Chanel oversees, including milliner Maison Michel, cashmere specialist Barrie, feather maker Lemarié and embroiderers Maison Lesage, once it is complete in 2020.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Ella Balinska Wears Cartier’s 610-Diamond Necklace Backwards

Ella Balinska’s custom Prada gown gave her a first-class pass to the thigh-high dress club at the Charlie’s Angels premiere, but it wasn’t her exhibitionist leg reveal that turned heads in the Vogue office. Balinska’s accessory game marked out Hollywood’s new recruit as a red-carpet dresser to watch as her star ascends.

The south-west Londoner, who plays machine gun-toting, ex-MI6 agent Jane Kano in Elizabeth Banks’s reboot, looked to Cartier for jewels to pepper her high-neck, long-sleeved Prada design. She wore a Panthère de Cartier platinum necklace comprising one sapphire, onyx and 610 brilliant-cut diamonds totalling 14.97 carats, backwards to highlight the cut-out on the reverse of the dress. An Écrou de Cartier onyx ring added sparkle to her black nail polish.

“To go from zero to 100 doesn’t really happen that often,” Balinksa told Vogue of her career trajectory, which has, in turn, brought household-name brands knocking. “It shows how the industry is changing and opening up to new actors.” Cartier, for example, has invited Balinska to join its Panthère tribe, a collective of women who represent the message of the collection and the storied panther symbol that dates back to 1914: freedom.

Rihanna Plugs New Fenty Trouble Sunglasses In Pool Shoot

Another day, another Fenty fashion drop from Rihanna, the entrepreneur extraordinaire, who found time to promote her new Trouble sunglasses while wading through the depths of a swimming pool on holiday. RiRi took to Instagram to share a carousel of seven pictures of the shades in situ on the waterborne designer, laid next to an apple-green iteration of Bottega Veneta’s The Pouch – the ultimate Insta accessory – and in a suitcase spilling patterned resort wear.

The rectangular sunglasses with rounded corners come in jet black, tortoiseshell, white marble and blond Havana acetate – all priced £190 at Fenty.com. The popstar packed the tortoiseshell pair for her vacation, and showed the versatility of the frames by wearing them with a zebra-print bikini and a loud Bermuda shirt, which she kept on in the water (all in the name of ’gram content, natch).

The latest drop – Rihanna takes a direct-to-consumer approach to releasing her designs – follows Fenty’s nomination for best Urban Luxe brand at the Fashion Awards 2019. It marks the first time the musician-turned-mogul has received a nod for her solo endeavours, rather than off the back of a collaboration with Puma, and will see her go up against Alyx, Marine Serre, Martine Rose and Moncler Genius on December 2. Her all-inclusive, progressive business model backed by French powerhouse LVMH has a strong chance of taking home the prize.

“Everything Ri does is about making people feel beautiful and recognised, whatever shape, size or colour,” Fenty collaborator Jahleel Weaver, who also shared news of the Trouble product launch via his own social channel, told Vogue earlier this month. “She’s built a community with her brands. [Her Fenty empire] takes into consideration [the fact] that women can be so many different things at once. It’s the ‘no rules’ mentality.” It seem the no-holds-barred approach applies to impromptu pool photo shoots, too.

Welcome Inside Thom Browne´s Spring 2020 Fever Dream

Trying to find the meaning or the inspiration behind a Thom Browne collection is a fool's errand, not because Browne isn't deep, but precisely because he is such a thoughtful designer, someone who is able to weave together seemingly disparate narratives to create one crazy, theatrical runway show which also moves commercial products. He's a fashion magician.

All this is to say that Browne's latest presentation was another one of his wild rides, or more accurately, that Spring 2020 was a trip. It opened with a quartet of models in Browne's take on a bathing suit in pink, green, yellow and blue: a blazer set over a pannier frame and briefs, complete with flat brogues and floral swimming caps. Each flitted around the set, stopping to smell the seersucker flowers, before a voice came over the PA: "It's time for your medication, Mr. Browne." In kicked the heavy metal music and it was off to the races as a series of models in demented New England-meets-Marie Antoinette get-ups strolled down the runway. 

Some carried miniature straw boating hats on a stick, à la parasols, and sported Oxford wedges with negative space where the heels should be paired with ruffled socks or dainty mules laced up with Browne's signature red, white and blue ribbon. There were tweed jackets and coats, some woven with sparkle.

A ship motif ran throughout, embossed onto coats, along with waves created from white-and-blue roped fabric on a skirt or whales sitting at the top of the hips of a pannier skirt. Oh, and the models mounted podiums wearing dramatic whale shoes though, considering they had to be helped into and out of said footwear, "shoes" may not be entirely the right word. 

Preppy patchwork worthy of a summer at the Cape covered a seahorse-shaped backpack; Bermuda shorts were layered over ruffled pantaloons. Corsets and bustiers were layered over crisp white shirts and ties, and Browne took the sweater vest and extended it down the body in exaggerated shapes.

At one point, a model entered the runway with a Thom Browne baby carriage as the theme song to, wait for it, "Teletubbies" played. Why? Who knows. But by the time the models came out for the finale, lead by a Thom Browne princess bride wearing a white gown with his signature trompe l'oeil detailing and gold tassels worthy of Versailles, the "why" of it all didn't really matter. It was just fashion at its finest: Inventive, impeccable and fun.

Try To Get Your Hands On An Ikea x Virgil Abloh Piece

Just like Virgil Abloh’s multiple collaborations with the likes of Nike, Levi's, Moncler and Takashi Murakami, Abloh’s collaboration with Ikea – available around the world wherever the Swedish giant has its stores - remains firmly anchored in the history of fashion and design. In May 2018, accompanied by an Ikea representative, the designer gave a preview of ‘Markered’ via a YouTube live-stream video. A series of rugs bearing the Off-White logo, a Scandi-style wooden chair with one leg shorter than the others, stabilized by a graphic red wedge, and a cardboard bag named ‘Sculpture’ that uses the same ultra-resistant handles as the original Ikea bag are all up for grabs.
Furniture adapted for small surfaces

During the conference, Virgil Abloh explained that he created the furniture with millennials in mind, who he hopes will take to the furniture as much as they do to his sneakers. Good news, Ikea has just unveiled all the pieces that will be on sale exclusively by sweepstake from November 1st to 6th, 2019. 

While the launch of the Ikea x Virgil Abloh furniture and decor collection caused a rush and quickly became a sellout, it is now possible to try again to get your hands on one of the pieces. How? By going to the Ikea site to reserve the product of your choice and select the shop and pickup date.

Loewe Has Designed The Most Artistic Collection Of The Season

Jonathan Anderson is an art lover, and his passion trickles into his inspiration for the clothes he designs. The proof is in the fact that after collaborating with Alasdair McLellan and creating a series of limited edition T-shirts and other accessories in December 2017, before designing a collection with the British artists Gilbert & George for his eponymous brand, the designer's next collection for Loewe will be inspired by the colorful oriental-style ceramics by William de Morgan, a 19th century British artist on the theme of ´A Mysterious Yet Colourful Wardrobe.´

The collection includes a peacock printed trench coat, the iconic Puzzle bag with an embroidered floral design and an extra long cardigan adorned with images of birds and wild flowers. This bold, colorful collection is already available in store and on the Loewe e-shop.

The Most Luxurious Christmas Present Ever

At the beginning of November, Celine revealed its hotspot on 390 rue Saint Honoré in Paris where Haute Parfumerie and exclusive home objects are presented like works of art in a marble-adorned shop. Hedi Slimane, creative director of the French brand, exemplified his stylish aura on various boxes with games inside, as well as beauty essentials and accessories for the office and home.
Luxury becomes nomadic

On the agenda? You can now take luxury everywhere with you: there are card games in a large zipped case, a set of metal dice with a leather case, a travel beauty kit with a horn hair comb, precious little accessories for smokers, and stationary items. What's more, Hedi Slimane's signature scents are kept in smooth leather cases or in "Triomphe Canvas" versions, the signature fabric of the French fashion house. In short, the pieces ensure a touch of elegance to slip into your bag. 



The "Maison Celine" collection of objects is exclusively available at the Celine Haute Parfumerie boutique located at 390 rue Saint Honoré in Paris, and prices range from 180 euros for small leather or metal pieces, to 2000 euros for the most precious objects.

Yves Saint Laurent Is Being Honored In Lyon

Head to Lyon and its Musée des Tissus which returns with the tradition of its successful retrospectives. For its reopening, the Lyon museum is honoring Yves Saint Laurent. On the verge of closure due to financial worries, the Musée des Tissus in Lyon is reborn from its ashes by offering an exhibition to the great master Yves Saint Laurent while waiting to launch its renovation work. An event that is perfect when you know the enthusiasm that the creator still provokes, 11 years after his death. Working with the Musée Yves Saint Laurent-Paris, Yves Saint Laurent, Les coulisses de la haute couture à Lyon (Behind the scenes of fashion in Lyon) looks back at the designer's links with the silk makers of Lyon, manufacturers and supplies of the region's fabrics and materials. 

This exhibition will display the over 40 year long faithful relationship of Yves Saint Laurent through modern and feminine silhouettes some of which are being exhibited for the first time. Guests will also be able to interact with textile samples, original sketches, photographs and unpublished archival documents and filmed interviews with employees. A true ode to the house's know-how. Yves Saint Laurent, Les coulisses de la haute couture à Lyon ((Behind the scenes of fashion in Lyon), until March 8, 2020, Musée des Tissus de Lyon, 34 Rue de la Charité, 69002 Lyon.

Stella McCartney & Adidas Team Up For A Playful Take On Vegan Stan Smiths

Stella McCartney is pleased that the “conversation is finally here”. The conversation, of course, refers to the rising chat around climate crisis. “The world is crying out for change,” McCartney tells British Vogue. “The younger generation are standing up and telling us that our house is on fire and that we need to respond like we are in a crisis (because we are in fact in a crisis). As one of the most polluting industries in the world, the fashion industry is now at a crossroads. We need to come together and achieve sustainable change to build a better future.”

Of course, McCartney has been championing and spearheading conscious business practices since she started out in the fashion industry. For her second interpretation of Adidas' iconic Stan Smith trainers, she ensured they were entirely vegan, again. “A few years ago my husband (Alasdhair Willis) commissioned Adidas to make me a special pair of vegetarian Stan Smiths for my birthday as he knew how much I love the iconic trainer,” McCartney explained. “It got me thinking… so every time I saw the Adidas team, I’d say, ‘why can’t you make all your Stan Smiths veggie?’ It took a lot of convincing, and then finally we collaborated on the first pair of vegan Stan Smiths last year.” Now, the trainers are made from a mix of materials: “The ‘leather’ upper is synthetic,” explains McCartney. “The Stans usual glues were replaced with animal-free alternatives because glues typically used in the production of shoes and accessories derive from fish or animals, and are full of chemicals which are harmful to the environment.”

McCartney's eco-friendly trainers look near-identical to the original, save for a few (fun) details: The Adidas stripes down the side are replaced with tiny punched-out stars in rainbow shades – a consistent motif in McCartney’s accessories. And while Stan Smith’s profile remains etched on the right tongue, the left one features the designer’s portrait. The vegan Stan Smith, in contrast, features black and white stripes and the colourful laces are interchangeable with white ones. “The Stella Stan Smith is unisex as it was important that the theme was inclusive and for everyone,” said McCartney.

For McCartney, the new design is something which she’s “very proud” of. “Consumers really are more conscious of where things come from now, and how they are made,” she explained. “But I think many people don’t really care or can’t tell the difference between the real leather and faux leather pair. It just makes me think how many animals' lives could be saved if Stan Smith and Adidas would change from real leather to vegetarian leather, and use non-animal-based glues like we use.”

“The launch of our vegan Stan Smith brought us a whole new customer which was predominantly the younger generation,” McCartney continued of banging the drum when it comes to sustainability. “So many young people came into our stores to enquire about the Stan Smith, asking questions about what the trainer was made with, telling our staff about why it was important for them to choose a vegan shoe over a leather one and what it represented. This is the future.”

A Virgil Abloh Exhibition Is In The Pipeline For 2020

After putting the brakes on his hectic work cycle, Virgil Abloh is back to the grind in Paris. The Off-White founder and artistic director of Louis Vuitton men’s has hit the ground running, and he’s promising more than fashion collections for 2020. Abloh has announced that he is staging an exhibition of new work entitled Efflorescence at Galerie Kreo in January.

The showcase follows Figures of Speech, a retrospective of the designer’s work at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago this summer. Unlike this journey through Abloh’s past, Efflorescence homes in on a singular proposition: concrete. Namely, how humans and the environment can change the rigid blocks that form the foundation of cities, such as graffiti adding decorative flair, or foliage filling the cracks.

Abloh has proffered few clues as to what the showcase in the contemporary Parisian store will hold, but he will be present at the reception on Rue Dauphine on 14 January. Works originally commissioned for the gallery’s “laboratory space” are now housed in some of the most renowned museums in the world, so Abloh’s world domination is set to continue apace.

Joan Collins On Being A New Face of Valentino... And Why She’ll Never Wear Jeans

Even if Alexis Carrington’s looks in Dynasty defined an entire era of fashion, Joan Collins seems bemused when I ask her to describe her style evolution across the decades since. “I suppose I just gravitate towards whatever catches my fancy, it’s eclectic. Why, how would you describe it?” asks the 86-year-old actress. “Glamorous, playful, with a bit of sparkle,” I offer. “Sequins! But, of course!”

As the star of Valentino’s new Christmas campaign, Collins is capping off a year in which the maximalist ’80s dressing (and sequins) she’s known for has undergone a renaissance in the fashion world – whether in the power shoulders and eye-popping glitz of recent Saint Laurent and Versace collections, or the resuscitation of labels that defined the era, such as Mugler and Claude Montana. Then, as if to remind everyone who was there first, there was her instantly iconic red carpet moment at the Met Gala in May. With its theme of camp, all Collins really had to do was show up; thankfully, she went the extra mile, wearing a delightfully frou-frou Valentino confection that was directly inspired by her Dynasty costumes, along with a diamond tiara from her own wardrobe. “Pierpaolo [Piccioli] and I went back and forth with designs for about three months – I wanted feathers, but he didn't want feathers,” she remembers. “So I said, ‘I really want feathers!’ We eventually came to an agreement.” (Needless to say, she wore feathers.)

Her relationship with the house of Valentino extends all the way back to the ’60s, when she first visited Signor Garavani’s atelier in Rome. Over the decades, there have been plenty of Valentino pieces in her wardrobe that have come and gone. “You can’t keep clothes for decades,” says Collins, firmly. “They just don't look right.” There is one piece, however, that has stood the test of time. “It’s this beautiful black, shimmery, chiffon column dress I bought from one of his couture shows in the ’80s. I was talking to Valentino a few years ago before I went to some event, and I said, ‘I don’t have anything to wear!’ But he has this amazing memory, and replied, ‘Well, darling, why don't you wear that black dress you bought from the couture show in 1989?’ And I said, ‘Oh my god – you remember that?’”

Her love of Valentino extends to now creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli’s vision for the house, too: the video accompanying the campaign sees Joan ring the doorbell to a Christmas house party in London in a red lace dress, opera coat and gloves, paired with the diamond jewellery she wore to the Met Gala. Greeting the guests in brilliantly pithy style – “I see it’s not just the champagne that’s flat,” she quips with a raised eyebrow – things are instantly livened up with a spot of Collins-led dancing and a stack of gift boxes from Valentino’s Dante-inspired holiday gift collection.

It seems fitting that Collins would opt for one of the label’s more classic designs, given her timeless sense of style. On the subject of the ’80s revival, she observes that it’s never really gone away. “I think that the flamboyance of oversized earrings and ill-fitting skirts might have gone – skirts never fitted properly in the ’80s, by the way – and the huge curly hair might have gone, too. But the sleek style that I wore a lot in Dynasty, the pared-back suits but with definitive shoulders and small waists and embellishments of colour and jewellery, I think smart women have been doing that through the decades.”

She does, however, mourn the days when dressing up for the day was more of an event. “I really hope that people will spend more money on clothes, because nobody dresses up anymore. If you do, then people stare at you, or make cutting remarks... well, maybe not cutting, but they’ll say something like, ‘Oh, look at you! You're all dressed up.’ I find that very sad, because it will be the end of women buying elegant clothes in stores. Everybody’s going to end up in jeans and T-shirts, which I think is tragic.” How does she respond if someone makes a comment like that to her? “Thank you,” she says, drily.

This move towards more casual dressing has created a very specific bête noire for Collins. “I hate jeans. I hate them, they’re so unflattering. And I hate jeans with holes in the knees, or holes anywhere. I’m not keen on T-shirts with logos, either. I like to be comfortable, but I want to be elegant, too.” It’s something that she particularly struggles with in her adopted hometown of Los Angeles, where she has lived since the mid-’50s. “I don't really fit in with the LA lifestyle, because everyone's in T-shirts and jeans, and I don't like that look. Oh, and neither does Valentino, by the way. Mr Valentino is always exquisitely dressed, which I love.”

In those sunny Californian climes, she admits it feels strange to already be getting in the festive spirit with a Christmas campaign, suggesting she’s not yet ready to start thinking about gifts for the holiday season. “I haven’t really got to that, but I mainly try to tailor the gifts that I'm giving to people to the individual.” As for what’s on her own Christmas list this year? “I have so much, I can’t really ask for anything. But I love to read, so I love to get an interesting biography that hasn’t been in print for a while, or a beautiful art monograph.” For those lucky enough to have Collins on their Christmas gifting list: get buying.

What Does The BFC’s New Membership Programme Mean For The British Fashion Industry?

The British Fashion Council has launched a membership programme inviting British designers at varying stages of their career trajectories to sign up to an annual paid-for service, which will give them the lowdown on various facets of the industry. Until now, the organisation has been funded via events, such as the Fashion Awards, donations and government grants.

BFC chair Stephanie Phair hinted at the membership scheme in the business’s first annual report published in July. She said that a subscription process – which will include access to news, data, government updates and a calendar of educational workshops and seminars to attend – would “open up our services to a much wider community, and not just the brands that are part of the schedule at London Fashion Week”.

Upon today’s announcement, BFC CEO Caroline Rush added: “The BFC is moving to a membership organisation as part of our mission to encourage collaboration and inclusivity, inviting designers to come together in support of the fashion industry’s eco-system.”

Membership is open to designers and direct-to-consumer businesses that have been trading for a minimum of two years, are a registered business with Companies House, produce collections that consist of ready-to-wear and/or accessories with a product vision set out by a creative director, and contribute both creatively and economically to the British fashion industry.

Membership levels are determined by annual turnover. Businesses generating £1 million must pay a £500 membership fee, which will increase incrementally, and brands producing a turnover in excess of £100 million, such as Burberry, will be asked to commit to patronage. Eighty members have signed up so far, according to WWD, and the BFC is now making moves to lock more London Fashion Week Men’s designers into the scheme.

The business move was born out of the BFC’s efforts to consolidate its future in an uncertain political and financial climate. By coming together and bolstering its community – members will also be asked to share their knowledge and expertise through roundtables and mentorship programmes – Rush believes that “we can be more powerful.” The first public-facing impact of the strategy will be the sway the members have on the winners of the Fashion Awards, when they will have a say in the voting.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Putting A Hadid Sister On The Runway Drives Sales

Moda Operandi, the trusted go-to for fashion lovers keen to snap up the freshest pieces first, has tracked the data from its real-time runway sales to predict what the industry will be wearing next season. Looks worn by Gigi and Bella Hadid generated, on average, 127 per cent more views than other spring/summer 2020 products featured on the e-tailer. That jungle-printed Versace dress, worn by Jennifer Lopez at Milan Fashion Week in homage to her iconic Grammys 2000 moment, sparked 22 times as much traffic as the average garment, as fans flocked to Modaoperandi.com to pre-order it.

Besides the influence of the celebrity elite, Valentino was the most popular collection featured in Moda Operandi’s 350-plus trunkshows (its curated shopping edits). Oscar de la Renta, Prada, Zimmermann, Loewe, Brandon Maxwell, and Versace were also coveted by online shoppers browsing more than 10,000 pieces. Bottega Veneta emerged as the breakout brand, while Tre by Natalie Ratabesi, Molly Goddard, Staud, Marina Moscone and Christopher Esber are the rising labels generating the most clicks.

The most-coveted pieces include Khaite’s bustier top, Simone Rocha’s giant pearl perspex bag, and The Row’s blue work shirt, drop-waist cotton shirtdress and PVC sandals. Blazers accounted for 30 per cent of all jackets and outerwear sold for spring/summer 2020 – a 275 per cent increase from spring/summer 2019. Bermuda shorts are set to dominate the scene owing to a 30 per cent spike in sales, and summer leather is going to be everywhere after Moda Operandi saw an 85 per cent increase in leather sales.

Grey is usurping beige as the Pantone shade of the season thanks to Prada and Miu Miu’s collections, but sunset shades too play into holiday wardrobes, with Emilia Wickstead’s fiery orange gown and the buttercream yellow dress at Cecilie Bahnsen topping pre-orders. This getaway spirit plays into how Moda Operandi customers buy fashion: two- thirds of shopping sessions took place on mobile devices, with customers spending about $2,000 (£1,546) per trunkshow.

Jennifer Lopez Ends Year As The New Face Of Coach

If there is anyone currently proving that life only gets better with age, it’s Jennifer Lopez. Not only has this year marked something of a career renaissance for the actor and popstar thanks to her part in Hustlers, but she also closed Versace’s spring/summer 2020 presentation in the plunging jungle-print dress that became legendary when she wore it to the 2000 Grammy Awards.

Now, the multi-award winning singer has been named as the global face of Coach. So far, we’ve been given a taste of her spring/summer 2020 campaign with a single shot of her wearing a belted trench, silk scarf and chain-strap leather bag. “I’m so excited for this collaboration with Coach,” J-Lo said in a statement. “It is a timeless brand that I’ve always been a fan of and the upcoming collection really speaks to my personal style – an uptown downtown mix.”

The appointment marks a new direction for the New York-based brand. Over the years, the label has worked with celebrities including Selena Gomez, Michael B Jordan, and Ariana Grande’s dog for its campaigns. Earlier this year, Coach named Yara Shahidi among its famous fans, as the Grown-ish star was chosen to feature in the brand's autumn/winter 2019 promotional imagery.

Of course, Lopez has shared her excitement on Instagram, writing: “Thank you, Coach! Exciting things coming soon!”

Bottega Veneta And The Ballet Poster Girl

Bottega Veneta’s The Pouch bag and Stretch Sandals have officially been named 2019’s most-wanted products, but Daniel Lee’s outerwear is swiftly rising up the fashion ranks too as the weather cools. Francesca Hayward, who joined HRH The Duchess of Sussex’s Forces for Change line-up in Vogue’s September issue, enrobed herself in the brand’s lustrous padded leather coat at the London premiere of Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words.

Reinterpreting Bottega Veneta’s signature intrecciato leather in cushioned proportions has been a part of Daniel Lee’s lexicon since he took the creative reins at the house in June 2018. The soft, puffy leather outerwear, which retails for £6,475, appeared twice on the autumn/winter 2019 runway in black and aubergine iterations that were both paired with Storm Trooper boots. Hayward shrugged hers over a ruched sheer black midi-dress with silk slip underneath, and offset the quilted silhouette with bonus Bottega accessories – square-toe leather and calf-hair pumps and the Pyramid bag.

“With a little bit of thinking you can do so much with the weave,” Lee told Vogue’s Sarah Harris about supersizing Bottega Veneta’s famed intrecciato. “I liked the idea of enlarging it because I like things that are bold and quite direct. I like things that are straightforward.” The creative director’s message is being heard loud and clear, and now his directional craftsmanship has a new poster girl in the Royal Ballet’s principal dancer.

The Duchess Of Cambridge Dazzles In McQueen

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended this year’s Royal Variety Performance on behalf of the royal family. For the occasion, which benefits and celebrates elderly and ill performers, Kate commissioned Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton to create a black evening gown for her. The elegant design features a black lace floral overlay on top of a nude slip and a velvet trim around the neckline and waist.

Eagle-eyed royal style watchers have been quick to draw comparisons with the Temperley Amoret gown Kate wore to the War Horse premiere in 2012, and again in 2013 for an engagement at the Natural History Museum. The McQueen look – which she offset with Jimmy Choo’s Celeste clutch, Romy pumps and a pair of Erdem earrings – is emblematic of her long-standing collaboration with the house. Form-fitting yet conservative silhouettes embellished with discreet, feminine craftsmanship have become Kate’s calling card thanks to Burton’s team.

Monday evening’s London Palladium event marks the first time Kate has worn McQueen to a Royal Variety Performance. In 2014, she wore a black lace Diane von Fürstenberg dress, and in 2017, she plumped for an icy-blue beaded gown by Jenny Packham. Last year, the Cambridges handed the baton to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who represented the royals at the long-running televised theatrical celebration. Meghan chose a custom black and white Safiyaa dress for her Royal Variety Performance debut, which fell shortly after she announced her first pregnancy.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Private Chanel Collection To Be Auctioned Online

For those keen to put some archival Chanel gems under their tree this holiday season, there is a great opportunity coming up online. From November 29th to December 5th, the fans of the luxury French brand will have a chance to bid on a selection of 177 Chanel designs on an online auction organized by Sotheby’s.

The pieces, which are part of an expansive collection owned by an undisclosed Italian admirer of the brand, span from handbags and dresses to jewelry and accessories. For example, the lineup includes a shearling “Pop Art” patchwork bag from the fall 2014 season; sunglasses with round lenses embellished by pearls; a gold logo chain belt with a matching bracelet, as well as a rhinestone snake jewelry set from the cruise 2018 collection.

The collection is also displayed in an exhibition organized by Sotheby’s at Milan’s Palazzo Serbelloni, running December 3-4th. In the meantime, the brand’s aficionados will have to chance to nourish their Chanel addiction with the “In Goude We Trust!” exhibition, open until Dec. 31, in the rooms of the Palazzo Giureconsulti building in Milan. Hosted by Chanel and unveiled at the Chanel Nexus Hall in Tokyo last year, the retrospective celebrates the 30-year creative partnership between the fashion house and artist Jean-Paul Goude.