Friday, February 28, 2020

The LVMH Prize Semi-Finalists Celebrate Sustainability, Community & Craft In Paris

There’s everything going against being a young designer in the fashion business. The pressure on creativity and the constant hunger for new ideas is high, not to mention the financial barriers. The industry is eating itself hand over fist for newness, coolness, buzz, and hype. Covid-19 threatens global sales figures, while the climate crisis puts an undue premium on design. That’s enough to make even the most optimistic person feel weary, and yet, despite all this, the 20 brands that held court in LVMH’s Avenue Montaigne headquarters this week showed no signs of defeat.

Together, they represent a cross-section of fashion and of the world, hailing from 10 countries, spanning age groups, and using techniques as disparate as growing moss (Piero D’Angelo), hand-soldering chain mesh (Area) and transforming a sleeping bag into a coat (Rave Review). Together they are making a bright case for the future of fashion. In total, the 20 brands are made up of 28 designers, each with a singular voice: Ahluwalia by Priya Ahluwalia, Alled-Martinez by Archie M Alled-Martinez, Area by Beckett Fogg and Piotrek Panszczyk, Casablanca by Charaf Tajer, Chopova Lowena by Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena, Commission by Jin Kay, Dylan Cao and Huy Luong, Ester Manas by Ester Manas and Balthazar Delepierre, Helmstedt by Emilie Helmstedt, Kaushik Velendra, Nicholas Daley, Nous Etudions by Romina Cardillo, Peter Do, Piero D’Angelo, Rave Review by Josephine Bergqvist and Livia Schück, Samuel Guì Yang by Samuel Yang and Erik Litzén, Sindiso Khumalo, Supriya Lele, Tomo Koizumi, Vaqar by Shirin Vaqar and Shiva Vaqar, and Yuhan Wang.

“It’s great to meet all these young talents because it’s really like a snapshot of fashion at a given point, and it reflects what a generation is thinking and thinking of creating,” says Delphine Arnault, the director and vice president of LVMH and a member of this year’s jury. Having been instrumental in the creation of the prize – and having shepherded talent through plenty of LVMH’s many facets – Arnault has long had her finger on the pulse of what’s new in fashion.


As she assessed the message of this year’s crop of designers, she began, “At one point there was a lot of sportswear; now you don’t really see it any more. Then it was genderless. You see a little bit of that still, and I think sustainability is really the big theme – but it’s not really a trend,” she paused. “I think [sustainability] is something that is going to stay forever.”

Problem solving fashion’s sustainability issue was something that almost all of the brands discussed during a whirlwind of meet-and-greets scheduled today (27 February). (The official cocktail, typically held on the first night of the showroom, was cancelled.) As guests and LVMH’s panel of experts wound through the displays, arranged alphabetically, they were greeted with Ahluwalia’s book, Sweet Lassi, showing stockpiles of textile waste in Panipat, India. Nearby, Archie M Alled-Martinez was explaining how his entire collection was knitted, reducing fabric waste. Later on Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena showed how they source Bulgarian textiles and deadstock mesh for their ensembles, while Helmstedt’s Emilie Helmstedt was bopping around in a necklace made of old dinner table china. The Rave Review designers pulled out a sexy pencil dress made from old plaid blankets, while Nicholas Daley showed how tartan scraps from his studio were knitted into a mega-sized scarf. Nous Etudions and Commission have both eliminated real leather from their production, while nearly every brand here has found sustainable ways to fabricate their materials, either with organic cottons, up-cycled or deadstock fabrics, and recycled polyesters.

Another message from the semifinalists is an importance on collaboration – something the big-name creative directors at LVMH have been pioneering since the Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton x Stephen Sprouse days. “There are a lot of duos and trios,” says Arnault. “I think it’s really interesting. It’s true that when you create your brand it’s an adventure and it’s always better to be two or three [because] you always need someone to share ideas and strategy with.” Of the 20 labels, seven are groups: Area, Commission, Chopova Lowena, Ester Manas, Rave Review, Samuel Guì Yang, and Vaqar. Also of note to Arnault is the rise in female designers; half the designers here identify as female.

“I walked through there and every semifinalist is so amazing,” Arnault continues. “I’m part of the jury and this year for the first time the jury can vote in the semifinals. It’s so hard to vote because I think the level this year is extremely high – and it’s always high – but it’s going to be difficult to choose. We received 1,700 applicants and we selected 20.” The final eight will be revealed soon, with the grand prize winner and special prize winner announced on 5 June at the Fondation Louis Vuitton. Arnault’s advice for the semifinalists – and for aspiring designers everywhere? “Work, work, work!”

The Off-White X Air Jordan Trainers Rihanna & Hailey Bieber Will Be Wearing Next Season

As iPhones happily snapped the Hadid model dynasty on the Off-White autumn/winter 2020 runway, it was almost possible to miss two key new accessories within the seasonal edit. Virgil Abloh paired looks 13 and 14 – neutral takes on deconstructed tailoring – with a white and buttery version of the Off-White x Air Jordan 4 trainer. Big news for sneakerheads.

Ever the hype master, Abloh posted a picture of his take on the 1989-born, Tinker Hatfield-designed style prior to the presentation, with the caption: “Forever attempting to jump from the free throw line.” Like his previous collaborations with Nike, the shoes feature declarative Off-White insignia, including the word “AIR” in quotation marks on the sole and “SHOELACES” on the laces, plus the Jordan brand tag.


Off-White followers (the brand was once again named the most popular brand in the world for Q4, 2019) will remember that a black and red iteration of the Air Jordan 4 was premiered at the Virgil Abloh Figures of Speech exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Abloh’s hometown, in June.

The discreet drop within a grown-up autumn/winter 2020 collection – which saw Gigi and Bella Hadid model voluminous tulle ballgowns and Arc’teryx outdoor performance jackets – was also a surprise given that Abloh has only just released a coveted new Off-White x Air Jordan 5 remake. On 15 February, he released a black pair of 5s with a reflective silver tongue, circular window detailing, and his customary Off-White branding.

“It’s such an awesome industry that we have,” Abloh told British Vogue of his trajectory, which has seen him break down boundaries and ink major brand deals as a black man with no formal fashion training. “Little things [like trolls] don’t even begin to slow me down. Anyone who has changed the course of history has to have an unsettling feeling… because otherwise you’re just in the crowd. I have this longer view, which is completely fine.” Nike, it seems, will be part of this game plan, as the drops for Abloh’s cult trainers keep coming and the wait lists grow longer. While the 5s were made available in men’s sizes, the Jordan 4s could be a women’s exclusive. Expect Rihanna, Hailey Bieber and, of course, the Hadids to kick it in them first.

NEHERA Autumn/Winter´20-21

NEHERA Winter 2020 collection is a curious quest that opens the door to a forgotten functionalist studio of a distant relative. A kindred spirit and eccentric personality who left behind a sophisticated 40’s wardrobe. The rediscovery unlocks a new perspective of rearranging pieces, ruffle up the old-worldly elegance, and disrupt traditions, only to revive the defiant spirit of the past in a new esthetic. The New Collection befriends the unwanted and harnesses the impractical in an ode to regenerative design and environment. Old fabrics revive in new patterns, leftovers wake up in new styles. Nothing goes to waste, everything is transformed.

The Pattern is a paradoxical, loud, yet subtle, unruly, yet calm. The prints are digitalized motives of trees and smoke of a pyrography artwork made by local artisans. The inside and outside mingle, the concrete embraces the nature through forest-inspired prints and in accessories handbags that use tree branches for handles. The Tailoring has shifted to explore more feminine direction. It is a nod to the history of Nehera that after streamlining the manufacturing of menswear tailoring, started the ready-made suiting for women in the late 1930´s.


The Accessories are boisterous and timeless. Tailored bucket hats are a splendid combination of molded wool contrasting with sewn softer brims. Knotted scarf bags play with raw or polished wood handles. Temporary woven sock shoes and shoe covers rolled down sheer tights at the runway.
¨The Fabrics bring a novel take on comfort and fluidity in blown-up twill, overly brushed or laminated wool coating. The menswear feeling continues through the fabric, an array of glen plaid suiting patterns, while subtle lodes are used for experiments with volume.¨ - Samuel Drira
The Winter 2020 collection upcycles materials from previous seasons to create exclusive patchwork styles in unique Shearling coats. The Palette represents a subtle dance of beige, ochre, pale grey and winter whites’ neutrals. Deep forest greens, teal and cobalt accents against more grounding burgundy, aubergine, and salmon.


NEHERA Winter 2020 collection is a journey of transformation and renewal that concludes in a harmonious balance between style and function. In this collection, the priority is comfort. Comfort that enhances performance. Each product is carefully considered, from the tactile materials, to the exemplary craftsmanship, such that every item evokes a sense of ease, purpose, innovativeness and elegance. Clothes are first pared back to their essence, reduced and refined to the tenets of utility. Then they are imbued with certain tenderness, warmth, optimism, and energy that has defined NEHERA from the very beginning.

The culture at NEHERA champions vitality and spontaneity through its dynamic and collective approach to design. The collections, however, still feel grounded and unassuming. It is the balance between emotive gestures and restrained classicism, in terms of silhouette, colour palette, print, and technology that results in a unique spectrum of possibility, a wardrobe of potentiality. It endeavours to establish signatures that are identifiable by way of their subtlety and straightforwardness - products that are wearable, honest, playful and above all, quietly compelling.

8 Reasons Why You Can’t Miss Christian Louboutin’s New Paris Exhibition

“I always liked to travel,” said Christian Louboutin, on a hot summer’s day last July. The designer has almost too many houses to count, all over the world, but he was referring to the travels he made in his mind’s eye, as a child. “My imaginary travels all came from that museum. I wanted to see other civilisations, I had fantasies about a different way of being. I have known the museum since I was a child, and am very attached to it for multiple reasons.”

“That museum” is the Palais de la Porte Dorée, in Paris, where a major retrospective of his work has just opened. Titled Christian Louboutin: L’Exhibition(iste), and brought together with the help of Olivier Gabet, the head curator of the Museum of Decorative Arts (MAD) it’s a sprawling, fun-filled tour through both Louboutin’s archive and his obsessions.

His intention? To make his red-soled brand of glamour available to all and sundry. “If you work in fashion, you have the feeling that everybody knows everything, but fashion really is a niche. It’s about giving people access to things which are exciting. I hope it is dedicated to people who love shoes but who are not necessarily clients, but who like to see beautiful things, to see how they are made. It’s to give a view into a dream world.” Following the emotional opening, where guests were serenaded by a live orchestra, Louboutin took British Vogue inside the must-see exhibition. Here’s everything you need to know. 


The museum was the first place in which Louboutin was exposed to a high heel 

As a young boy, Louboutin was a frequent visitor to the Palais, having been born two blocks away. He also attended two schools – the Elisa Lemonnier and Paul Valéry lycées – behind the Palais. “At the back of the building is a school that used to be my school when I was 13, 14. I got expelled from there, but my windows were facing on to this building,” he said. “Before that, my parents used to send me every weekend.” The Palais was, in fact, the location where he was first exposed to high heels. “The floor was so precious that you couldn’t walk on it with high heels, so there was a sketch from the ’50s showing a shoe with a red cross through it. As a kid in the ’70s, I was looking at it, thinking, ‘This is a nice shoe.’ It was the first sketch I had seen.”

It’s also responsible for his love of objects, and his methods of absorbing them

“The building had so many amazing collections, of all the ex-French colonies, from Africa, South America, so my eyes were really flirtatious to all the objects and all the weird and wonderful things,” said Louboutin. “If I like objects so much, it’s really because of this building. I owe it to this museum to look at objects in a free way.” 

The show is a celebration of craftsmanship – and not just in relation to shoes 

A series of fun films with a miniature Christian carrying scissors and tapping in nails to a giant shoe help to inject the process of shoemaking with some of the designer’s characteristic wit. But the exhibition also seeks to elevate craftsmanship on a more general level, with a series of specially commissioned works. “We wanted the exhibition to be a succession of surprises,” said Louboutin. In one room, a collection of stained-glass window panels created by the Maison du Vitrail light up the walls around vitrines containing early shoes and childhood photographs; in a second, a Sevillian silver palanquin made by L’Orfebreria Villarreal takes centre-stage, decorated with hundreds of candles; and in a third is a Bhutanese theatre, the woodwork sculpted in Bhutan and delivered to Paris by boat, in a shipping process that took over three months.

There are numerous archival surprises – including the Maquereau shoe inspired by a fish in the museum’s aquarium 

Louboutin’s very first creation, the Maquereau shoe, made in 1987, was inspired by the iridescence of the fish in the aquarium at the Palais de la Porte Dorée. “I have a fish allergy, I cannot eat them – but I love fish,” Louboutin said. “They are so inspirational, I have always been fascinated by them and loved to watch them in the aquarium when I was young.” Made of metallic leather, the tail of a herring forms the heel of the shoe, and the scales of the mackerel close over the toe. Louboutin photographed the shoe himself in 1988 in front of the tropical aquarium in the museum – side-stepping official permissions and authorisations.

All those Nineties shoe hits just keep on coming 

There are numerous other shoe gems in this collection, from the wedding shoes Louboutin made for his friend Marie de Beistegui – “all her family came and they were all in tears” – to Princess Caroline of Monaco’s ’90s favourites, the Andy-Warhol inspired Mary-Janes with a graphic Pop Art flower as a fastening. “She came in to my store by accident,” Louboutin recalled speaking of the Princess, “and she bought shoes for the Bal de la Rose [in 1995]. She was completely wrong – it was not a rose, it’s a pansy. There are only three petals. But I was inspired by Warhol, he filtered through my memory.”

The inspiration and the interpretation doesn’t always align 

The Molinier room, decked out like an English granny’s chintz-heavy living room – with plates on the wall and Mr Kipling cakes on the coffee table – is filled with some of Louboutin’s most provocative shoes. And close-up, those chintzy sofa patterns are composed of combinations of the body, inspired by the work of the photographer Pierre Molinier, who used to transform himself into an eroticised woman. It’s all in the service of Louboutin’s point that often people choose to misunderstand his work. “One has to interpret things, but it speaks about yourself more than it speaks about the creator,” he said. “Sometimes people are really thinking of a very specific thing which is pretty far from who you are. As a designer, you are provoking emotion, feelings – you are suggesting things. I am not disappointed if people don’t get [what] the original inspiration is. It is amusing.” A case in point? The spike-smothered, six-inch heels on display, which numerous observers interpret as erotic, S&M-style shoes, but which were originally inspired by 17th-century suits of armour.

There are some truly glorious celebrity moments 

Name a celebrity and it’s unlikely they haven’t at one time donned a pair of Louboutin’s famous red-soled shoes. From Dolly Parton to Sex And The City’s Carrie Bradshaw to Aretha Franklin, who was buried in a gold-plated coffin and 5-inch, cherry red, patent Louboutins, the museum’s hall of fame is here to remind you of the highlights. 
 
The final room contains objects which continue to inspire from Louboutin’s own collections

“The second part of the exhibition should be like a stroll… through objects that I have been loving for a long time,” said Louboutin. In this room are sculptures by Janine Janet, a bench by the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, kachina dolls, Hopi masks and a Gandhara bust from Louboutin’s own collection. “I am not putting my shoes next to them, but you may see a connection. It’s like when a woman once tried on a shoe and clapped her hands. The shoe was inspired by the flamenco. She didn’t know that, but something made her clap.” 

A 17th-century painting of Le Duc de Beauvau, for instance, comes from his home in Lisbon, and illustrates the principle behind his “nude” shoe collection, which was ground-breaking when it was released in 2013, recording as it did five, leg-lengthening shades of “nudes” for different skin tones rather than just Caucasian skin types. “What I love about this painting is the legs,” Louboutin said, when I visited his Lisbon home in December 2018. “The legs look even better – because [of] the way his stockings and his shoes are white. I am always saying that the idea of having your nude on your shoe gives you better legs. It’s funny because it’s a very classical painting but there is something quite disturbing. Those long legs! And that very, very short armoury! It’s a beautiful painting.” 

Even Off The Runway, Gigi, Kendall And Bella Are Nailing AW20’s Biggest Trends

Arriving at the Versace show in Milan on Friday evening, Kendall Jenner and the Hadid sisters ticked off three of autumn/winter 2020’s biggest trends between them – before they even set foot on the runway.  Reporting for duty first at Versace were Kendall and Gigi: the former in a longline leather coat of the type already seen on the catwalk at Fendi and Burberry, the latter in an exaggerated puff-sleeve coat that created the sort of inflated silhouette seen at JW Anderson, Max Mara and Prada, among others. 

 

Hadid wore her coat over blue and green coords and white boots, while Jenner stayed true to fictional character-turned-current fashion muse Trinity, adding a black dress, patent leather black boots and black micro sunglasses to her The Matrix-esque leather coat. A pink handbag (Versace, of course) was her only concession to colour.

Yolanda Hadid Joins Daughters Bella And Gigi On The Off-White Runway

Fashion week is always a family affair for sisters Bella and Gigi, who have appeared together at Marc Jacobs, Burberry, Versace and Lanvin this season, to name just a few. But Virgil Abloh had an extra Hadid up his sleeve for his autumn/winter 2020 Off-White show: the models’ mother, Yolanda, who joined her daughters on the runway in Paris on Thursday night.


Abloh had the Hadid siblings bookend his show, with Bella opening in a black dress comprised of a sheer pleated skirt, an explosion of ruffles at one shoulder, and the hood and sleeve of a drawstring parka at the other. It was part red-carpet gown, part raincoat. Gigi was the last model out, dressed in expansive tiers of white tulle that also morphed into a hoodie at the shoulder, prompting streetwear-obsessed brides-to-be everywhere to sit up and take note.

And the filling in this supermodel sandwich? Their mum. Yolanda, herself a former Ford model, breezed along the runway in a white, graffiti patterned blazer over a white bra top (very Bella), with tailored black trousers, sculptural shades and a heavy-duty chain-link necklace. Suddenly we see where her girls get it from.

Peter Pilotto Is Pressing Pause On Its Business

Just one year on from releasing one of the most internationally eyeballed wedding dresses of the decade – for the wedding of Princess Eugenie, in October 2018 – the London-based label Peter Pilotto has announced it is pressing pause on its business.

A statement released on the brand’s Instagram account on 27 February read: “After 12 exhilarating years of collaboration, Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos have decided to take a break and pause their eponymous brand Peter Pilotto.”

The statement continued: “During the imminent break, Peter and Christopher will reassess all aspects of the future of the brand, it’s [sic] structure, business model and operations.” A quote attributed to the duo said: “We have loved working together and love what we have created with Peter Pilotto. The brand is a true blend of our passions and creativity, but we need time to pause and rethink before we explore our next steps in this rapidly changing world. We are excited about our next phase, whether separately or jointly.”


The decision comes after the designers were noticeably absent from the autumn/winter 2020 schedule. Last season, they had decamped to Milan, following years of showing in London. Pilotto, who is half-Italian, had said at the time: “Recently we’ve come to Italy often working on leather goods, and fabrics have been made in Italy since the start of the label; we’re also producing part of the collection here.”

A caption underneath the post, appeared to suggest that the duo would continue to own the label, presumably following talks with their investors MH Luxe and Megha Mittal, who took an undisclosed stake in the company in 2015. “We are grateful to our investors who have confirmed that we will continue to own the Peter Pilotto brand. Thank you to everyone who has supported us,” it read.

Peter Pilotto was once one of the most exciting young talents on the London Fashion Week roster, having won the Vogue/BFC Designer Fashion Fund in 2014 and dressed stars including Kristen Stewart, Beyoncé and Carey Mulligan. The duo met while studying at Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 2000, and launched their label in 2007, quickly building a reputation for digital prints and feminine silhouettes.

Do Not Ask Emerging Designer Harikrishnan About His Inflatable Trousers

Emerging menswear designer Harikrishnan set Instagram alight, when he sent models wearing inflatable latex trousers of balloon-like proportions down the runway during his graduate show at London College of Fashion.

The idea for the exaggerated silhouettes first occurred to the 26 year old student from Kerala when he was walking his dog, Kai. Imagining how he looked from his pug’s perspective, he started musing on distortion. “Kai brought this collection to life,” he tells British Vogue post-show, pleased – if slightly bemused – by the amount his trousers have, for want of a better word, blown up.

The collection was not just comprised of memeable pants. Harikrishnan split the show into three sections – “craft, latex and tailoring” – with the concept of “familiarity versus unfamiliarity” at the heart of the edit. “People connect to the inflatable trousers because they are unfamiliar,” he explains of the striped catwalk creations he paired with boxy blazers. “We see the same things again and again through social media, so I wanted to invite them to question why this is by creating a new ‘unfamiliar’ visual.”


The 3D trousers started life in a clay model. Thirty individual panels made from three metres of Supatex were then stuck together by hand, leaving room for a seven millimetre-wide inflation valve at the bottom. Harikrishnan, who blew up his own trial pairs but used a pump for the show, maintains the wide leg-styles are easy to slide into, and require a mere two minutes of deflation time before hopping out of them afterwards. Once fully pumped up, “It feels like you’re floating,” he smiles.

“I have no intention to sell them,” says Harikrishnan, when asked about the commercial viability of the designs. Costume departments have, unsurprisingly, come knocking, and he has two music videos lined up to feature them. His main focus is the craft element of the collection, which saw Harikrishnan collaborate with a 200 year old artisan community in Channapatna, India. During his 30-day stay at the UNESCO site, he trained two women to adapt their woodturning skills to make linked beading for his ready-to-wear. To realise his vests and shorts, micro wooden beads were coated and coloured with beeswax and natural lacquer and fused together during a painstaking process.

“Exposing centuries-old craft and giving it a new direction is more rewarding than making inflatables for me,” says Harikrishnan. He hopes that after the publicity around his show has ahem deflated, he will return to India and work on creating more “wearables”, including bags, from the beads, which he will then sell.

What Is the Future of the Fashion Show?

Do a Google search of “What is the purpose of a fashion show?”—the search engine’s most popular query related to the term fashion show—and almost 4 billion results come up. That will look like a lot of results to the untrained eye, but an insider will tell you that’s nothing. There is no topic more thrilling, and more likely to wind us up, than the purpose of a fashion show.

But it’s not just the showgoers who are wondering for what higher purpose they are accruing both blisters and airline miles. As the international Fashion Week machine revs up for the industry’s first round of women’s ready-to-wear shows of the 2020s, it seems as though every corner of this business is questioning the purpose of fashion’s biannual system of organized weeks and hourly catwalks. “I think this is the big illusion in this industry, that it’s just about shows, but it’s not, really,” Loewe and JW Anderson’s Jonathan Anderson—by every measure a star of the fashion show system—told Vogue Runway at the end of last year. Anderson says the other aspects of his job as a creative director constitute at least 70% of his work. “The shows are a smaller proportion. Sometimes, people don’t want to hear that,” he said.


Phillip Lim, a designer who launched his 3.1 Phillip Lim brand at New York Fashion Week in 2005, is stepping away from the show system entirely. Also speaking to Vogue Runway last year, he bemoaned an industry-wide shift that has affected his business, saying, “It hasn’t been about clothes for a while [in fashion]. It’s been about everything else, and the circus of it all. I know we’re not in the circus business.”

Where some, like Lim, are rejecting runway shows in favor of store events, presentations, dinners, or social media–led campaigns, others seem confident that the runway is the only way forward. Perhaps none are more wholeheartedly pro-catwalk than Marc Jacobs, who has begun labeling his clothing with the word Runway and the date of his fashion shows.

What’s murkier and more confusing is the gray area between full-throttle fashion shows and nothing at all. Designers who want to stay engaged with the fashion system on their own terms must figure out where to show, when to show, and how often to show. With more than 500 collections to be presented in New York, London, Milan, and Paris over the next four weeks, the disparity in how this industry believes a fashion collection should be presented is immense.


So the $4 billion question: What will the purpose of a fashion show be in the next decade?

“People say that the fashion show doesn’t work, but I’m 100% for them,” says Nate Hinton, the founder of the public relations firm The Hinton Group. Hinton, an alum of PR powerhouses KCD and PR Consulting, mostly represents young designers and independent brands like Pyer Moss, Christopher John Rogers, and Vaquera. These are the upstarts often branded as “disruptors” for their off-piste locations, inclusive and diverse casts, and nontraditional approaches—and yet they can be the ones that benefit most from the tradition of a unified, scheduled fashion week.

“When a designer shows on that schedule, especially an emerging designer on that schedule, it makes a big difference in who wants to come from an industry and media standpoint,” Hinton continues. Being a part of a marquee fashion week—#NYFW— matters digitally too. “A lot of people are tuned in to look at that content at that time, which is why the numbers go up. After it dies down and the media is not reporting about fashion week in that way, you lose that momentum,” he says.

The sentiment is echoed by IMG Model’s president Ivan Bart. Speaking specifically about models, Bart tells Vogue, “If you’re not known in the industry, the only place to really be launched is on a runway. Where else can you be in a room with the most influential people in the industry who can actually elevate your career? The top editors are there. The buyers are there. The press is there. Social media is there. What we do to promote a model is try to find as many opportunities for them as possible, and with a fashion show, you have the eyeballs of the industry looking right at you.”


The Traditional Calendar—and Who’s on It—Could Use Some Innovating
“If we could find a lot of money for the super-talented new designers that have the coolest, best ideas and that aren’t afraid to do some crazy stuff—that would fix a lot,” Hinton says. As New York Fashion Week lurches to a slow start, that seems to be the general consensus. Young talents have taken to showing over the weekend before or after NYFW or partnering with stores to host pop-up shops in lieu of any official events.

For many young brands, sponsorships and/or other kinds of financial grants only last for one or two seasons. Telfar, the brand by Telfar Clemens and Babak Radboy, won the 2017 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, but after several years of showing in New York, has taken its shows on the road, partnering with London’s Serpentine Gallery in 2018, showing at Paris Fashion Week in 2019, and at Pitti Uomo this January. The moves were partially financial—Pitti Uomo offered a sponsorship—but also helped introduce the brand to a new subset of the fashion industry. “It is just a fact that moving to Europe was hugely important for us,” Clemens says. “The same show there plays out very differently. Our first show in Paris felt a little bit like it was our first show, period, in terms of how it was received—it couldn’t have gone better, and to follow that up with Pitti kind of cemented that we are actually not here to play. But moving forward, we feel a bit liberated—like we could show anywhere at any time and people are watching.”

Fashion East’s Lulu Kennedy, who has served as launchpad for some of Britain’s biggest talents, including Simone Rocha and Marques’Almeida, agrees that flexibility of location can help. This season, for the first time, she held a Fashion East showcase in Milan through a joint partnership between the British Fashion Council and Italy’s Camera Moda organization. “We obviously love our hometown, but we decide what makes the most sense for our designers and us. Last month we did an event in Milan instead, as the London dates fell so early in January and attendance is low,” Kennedy says. “We’re experimenting with rolling our menswear designers into the women’s schedule too. The idea of separate shows for gender seems antique in 2020.”

“From a commercial standpoint, I’m very much for brands showing in that men’s or preseason schedule, so resort or pre-fall, particularly when they’re smaller and they cannot achieve four collections a year,” says Lisa Aiken, Moda Operandi’s fashion and buying director. “If they are starting with two collections a year, or moving to two collections a year, showing in a main season does not give them very long form a production standpoint. That’s a technicality, but it really affects the bulk of their business. Resort and pre-fall will always have the strongest sell-throughs from a retail point of view, so showing on that calendar can have a very big impact on a brand.”


Using a fashion show as a marketing and communication tool isn’t some nefarious scheme. Look back to the most spectacular fashion shows of the last decade and you’ll see that those with the most lasting impact are often the ones in service of a greater message. That can be a social message, an aesthetic message, or a cultural message, but rarely is “Let’s sell some bags!” enough to carry a brand from year to year.

“The show is a huge part of how we communicate—about our project in general and a collection in particular,” says Clemens. As such, Clemens and Radboy have used their shows as platforms to explore other media like live performance, videos, cuisine, and good old-fashioned partying. “We are really not just a business—music and film and a social practice are inseparable from everything else we do,” Clemens continues, acknowledging performative and experiential elements as things that might be new to the industry, but not new to them. “We have been showing and collaborating like this for 15 years; I think the question [of why they incorporate performance elements] is better directed to other houses!”

Rag & Bone’s cofounder and creative director Marcus Wainwright started in the runway show system, but found that participating in other areas was a creative boon to himself and his teams. In the past five years, he’s staged portrait exhibits, screened films, and utilized technology—remember last season’s moving robots?!—to rethink the potential of how Rag & Bone can communicate. “Through working with dancers, choreographers, filmmakers, and musicians, we exposed ourselves to a whole different side of the art world and creative world, and got to work with some amazing people that we would never get to work with in a show format,” Wainwright says. “With that, we reached an entirely different audience.”

Of course, these multimedia experiences are very good for press. But they’re also good for morale. “We did hear a lot of feedback when we stopped doing shows that it was a huge breath of fresh air for people who were on that treadmill of going to show after show after show,” Wainwright says. “There are great shows within that system, but even just as a bystander looking in, it can get quite repetitive and it can get quite disposable.”


As fashion enters a new decade, a digital first strategy will be crucial, but cannot replace the IRL experience. “It needs to be edited and designed to fit well on a screen that fits in the palm of your hand and to fit within the technology that is available to the audience: the iPhone video and Instagram,” Alexandre de Betak, the founder of Bureau Betak and longtime show producer, stresses. “The purpose of fashion shows, for me, is to help luxury brands communicate and to continue to make that brand’s audience dream. What that means [for the future] is that we need to continue to make people dream in a more efficient, shorter way, and in a way that the POV of the audience matters more than the one from the traditional media.” The live experience for the guests is still important, but more so in the sense of how those guests might choose to depict the show on their own personal social media accounts.

So when there’s dozens of shows a day, how can a brand survive an oversaturated world? The message has to have heart. “The shows that I remember the most are the ones where the designer’s personality comes through more,” says Moda Operandi’s Aiken. “If I think about a Brandon Maxwell show, that’s so energetic and exciting, the music is great, everyone feels like they’re having a great time, or the Deveaux show that was at 9:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning and then you got there and it was so uplifting, amazing, and so Tommy [Ton] that you really see the person behind the brand coming through more. I hope that continues across the industry.”

Yes, this all might all translate into Instagram posts in the end, but for the people in the room seeing dozens of shows per day, these emotional gestures can create a deeper bond to the brands. A retailer might be more keen to buy into a label with a positive show experience. A critic could give it a better review. An influencer who had fun might be more likely to post later on.

With the help of talent incubators like Kennedy’s Fashion East, even the scrappiest of upstarts can present a fantasy during fashion week. “Young brands needn’t aspire to pass as luxury brands when they don’t have the finances to deliver that dream—putting on events and making collections that resonate with their own community seems a better way of building a future,” says Kennedy. “We’ve always kept our shows a raw and neutral canvas for our designers to go crazy on.”

Gaming the system for emotional resonance can’t be a brand strategy, though. “If I’m completely honest, [social media] is not much [of a factor in planning each show], and it probably should be more,” Wainwright says. “We are not a company that is led by social media; we don’t design clothes that are for social media only. We don’t create events for social media. We’re obviously very aware of it, we’re aware that is how the medium is consumed, and obviously trying to take full advantage of that, but we won’t build a concept that is for social media. I’m too much of a purist, and I believe that the experience should be a genuine human experience and it should touch people on a human level, on an analog level. If it does that, it will travel digitally.”

He continues, “If the people that are at the event find it moving then, yes, it is something that will travel socially. Clothes are emotional. Clothes are supposed to make you feel something.”


The resounding takeaway from every industry professional surveyed for this article was that who is in the room for a fashion show is crucially important—and for fundamentally different reasons. We’re talking about the indefinable world of vibes, and getting the right vibe translates across every platform.

A veteran retailer, Moda’s Aiken credits shows with helping shape her understanding of what will sell from a collection. “Being in environments where you are surrounded by the editorial world, the social media world, you very quickly can put together this picture of who is reacting to what and why, and I think we all feed off each other in that sense,” she says. “I think that’s a really positive thing.” Aiken name-checks Julien Dossena’s spring 2019 Paco Rabanne runway show as one that felt instantly important to showgoers—and translated into sales. “There was a direct line from what walked down the runway to what the client wanted,” says Aiken.

In a more recent example, she cites Jacquemus’s fall 2020 show at Paris Fashion Week Men’s. Held on the last day of the schedule, the show starred A-list models in the designer’s saucy, summertime clothes. A photo of Gigi Hadid, who modeled a beige empire slip dress instantly went viral. “That Gigi dress, that walk,” Aiken starts, “We sold over 100 units of that dress in about five days in the trunk show. You can say the best dress went on the biggest model or however you want to interpret it, but ultimately when you have the power of an amazing collection, incredible model, beautiful dress, it just works. It’s then that you start to think about how all of the different pieces of the puzzle fit together.”

However, de Betak, who consulted on the Jacquemus show, argues that not every fashion industry player needs to attend every show. Instead, crowds should be tailored to serve the purpose of the brand—i.e., if a brand is strong at luxury retail, more buyers. If it’s a press play, more editors. If it’s a hangout, make sure to invite the friends of the designers.

“I always pay attention to the designer’s friends,” Hinton says. “It’s important to understand your community and to pull those people in to what you’re doing. Who can be there? Who wants to be there? Who is supportive? Who has the right following on Instagram? Who do we need to introduce the brand to? Those are the questions I always ask myself when it comes to each individual designer. I try not to plug and play into any one formula for any brand because the audiences are so different.”


It’s a strategy that has worked well for Hinton’s client Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss, who took several big swings with collections shown in Brooklyn’s Weeksville neighborhood and then at its Kings Theater, locales considered remote to a Manhattanite fashion audience. But catering the shows to the brand’s message and its core supporters, Hinton says, only strengthened its impact on the fashion week calendar. “I use Pyer Moss as an example because he’s been getting attention to his shows for years, but they’ve been getting bigger and bigger and more people have wanted to come. When I first started, some members of the press I was begging to come a few seasons ago. Now people are begging me to attend.”

De Betak brings the conversation back to Simon Porte Jacquemus. Before his Gigi moment at PFWM, the designer staged a sun-kissed show in the lavender fields of Provence, France. “It was the least traditional show: off-site, off-calendar, and off-audience, because the audience was only about 10 or 20% professional,” says de Betak. “It was very, very small compared to other shows, but it had to do more. [It] proved that with a smaller audience you can still create a gigantic buzz.”


Sustainability isn’t a choice anymore; it’s essential. But maybe fashion is too late to the game. “The only no-impact fashion show is the one that we don’t do!” says de Betak. Some brands, like Gabriela Hearst, have worked to carbon-offset their shows, a process that can be difficult to measure—and thus hard to quantify. Others like Marine Serre are using recycled or upcycled materials to build venues. At de Betak’s firm, he has established an independently functioning wing to rethink fashion’s environmental problem from the ground up. “We’re building a manifesto of eco-consciousness for temporary event production and fashion shows. There’s a lot to say about that,” he starts. In fact, his team is preparing a full press release that will arrive in a few weeks’ time.

“Last year, we formalized internal guidelines to help make these events less impactful in all aspects, from the materials recycling to the promotion of renewable energy—these initiatives are already implemented in our houses,” says Kering’s chief sustainability officer Marie-Claire Daveu. “Making fashion shows more sustainable is an ongoing process of improvement.”

Of course, a fashion show’s environmental impact is small compared to the damage the production of garments does to the environment. Still, many see the press associated with a fashion event as a positive opportunity to advocate for change and raise awareness. “What I strongly believe will change the world is that we are one of the most visible industries and what we do in that industry, fashion shows, are possibly the most visible short events in the world,” says de Betak. “For that reason, it’s super important not just to do the action and help save what we can, but to communicate it and show it on a high level so that it creates awareness within and outside of the fashion industry.”

Helmut Lang’s New Campaign Is Shot By Indo-Canadian Photographer Sunil Gupta

In lieu of a runway event showcasing their Fall 2020 collection, Helmut Lang decided to put forth a special photographic series. It shows a diverse set of models dressed in the brand’s fall pieces hanging around on New York’s iconic Christopher Street, where the Stonewall Riots of 1969 served as catalyst for the gay liberation movement. The images look fresh and modern, but the inspiration for them dates back 40 years.

Sunil Gupta, a Delhi-born photographer who moved to Montreal in his teens, shot a series of images documenting the gay scene on that very same New York street back in the 1970s. A compilation of those images, titled Christopher Street 1976, was published in 2018 and caught the eye of Helmut Lang creative director Thomas Cawson, who decided to recreate the images—but through a 2020 lens—for his new campaign.

“When Sunil was photographing, I think the idea of queer liberation was quite solely amplifying a male gay identity, and I don’t think that reflects what 2020 looks like,” the designer told Vogue. “I wanted to make sure that if we were going to show 1976 versus 2020, that 2020 kind of looked like the broader expanse of what queer rights should be.”

The inclusive approach to the campaign is one of the first things that struck Gupta when he arrived for the shoot.

“What was interesting in the choice of models is they were sexually diverse but they were also racially diverse,” he says over the phone from London, where he now lives. “There were some black people back when I took the pictures in the 70s, but not that many. And there hardly any Asians. I could count only two Asians in my whole set of pictures. And one of them, the South Asian, is trying not to be seen; he’s looking the other way. Poor fellow thought I’m going to out him to his parents,” he laughs.

Despite his long career photographing queer communities in various cities, Gupta had never dabbled in the fashion world—which is why when Helmut Lang first approached him (via an Instagram DM)—he dismissed it. “This kind of thing doesn’t usually happen in my world, so I just ignored it,” he says. When the brand followed up by reaching out to a gallery that represents him in New York, he realized it was a legitimate project. Not knowing what to expect since he’d never shot a fashion campaign before, Gupta went back to look at images from the Christopher Street 1976 series to remind himself of the energy he captured at the time and how the gay rights movement has changed since then.

“Back then, people dressed gay, there was a gay semiotic,” he recalls. “It was a code, you had to be recognized.” Now, he says, queer people are much more fluid and don’t feel the need to do too much outward changing of their appearance. At the Helmut Lang shoot, it’s one of the things that most stood out to him.


“The fluidity was so imperceptible. [The models] were so diverse but they didn’t seem to be making much of a deal out of it.” Of the street style images he captured in that historic New York neighbourhood, he says, “I just tried to give it some emotional [weight] to show that there was something maybe happening, some intangible thing happening between the people.”

Even over the phone, the 66-year-old photographer’s exuberance and irreverence comes through loud and clear. Engaging and thoroughly transparent, he speaks easily about the struggle of being openly queer in India, the heady post-Stonewall days of New York, and life as a teen in Montreal at the height of the gay liberation movement. His photo series Friends & Lovers: Coming out in Montreal in the 1970s is part of a retrospective of his work that will be on display at Toronto’s Ryerson Image Centre in 2021.

“I had these pictures of what I’d experienced as an undergraduate in Montreal and the birth of gay liberation there,” he says of the series. “I thought I’d make an archival show out of it, about that particular history.” As a young immigrant from India, Gupta didn’t quite fit in during his early years in Montreal. “Nobody had heard of India in my [high school] class. So coming from India was useless baggage. It was completely uncool.” But a year after his arrival in 1969, he enrolled in college, where he says he was “saved” by the gay liberation movement that arose in Canada around that time.

“I came out and I was suddenly very cool. Thank god for gay liberation,” he laughs. “Otherwise I would be this uncool Indian standing alone, a friendless person… My gayness gave me a way of assimilating very fast.”

He documented the energy and liberation of that period by taking photographs of people he knew. “My classmates, my informal life around the local gay bars. There were six or seven, there weren’t that many then. We would go to them every weekend or every other day. Very soon you would have seen everybody who was gay who was coming to them. So after a couple of months, me and my buddy decided this was too boring so we invented names for people and back stories so we could create a soap opera about their lives… That extended into the work.” What began as a form of entertainment eventually went on to become the Friends & Lovers series.

That early exposure to gay emancipation in Montreal would prepare him for life as an openly queer person, an identity he refused to shed even when he returned to his native India, where homosexual sex was illegal under a colonial-era law until 2018 (apart from a brief period when the law was struck down between 2009 and 2013). Of his decision to return to India with frequent exhibits about the LGBTQ+ community, he says, “Well, people used to advise me against it. But I think I was too well trained in Montreal to not be out. I was [taught] that you come out, and then it’s other people’s problem, it’s not your problem. The good thing is I didn’t rely on a single place for my income. I was much luckier than people in, say, a corporate job, where they’re much more vulnerable to what the company or the boss thinks.”

In the intervening decades since that first Christopher Street series, his photography has been exhibited at the Tate Modern in London, the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi and the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver. From the very beginning, Gupta’s work has been deeply personal but also immensely political, considering the fight for queer rights is far from complete. For him, the two naturally coexist.

“I think it’s a kind of politics that grew out of feminism in the 1970s, that my generation embraced and I guess still does to a certain extent — that the personal is political.”

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Milan Fashion Week A/W´20 Review

Over halfway through a show season that’s gone ahead despite the absence of many colleagues from the Chinese and Japanese markets, the coronavirus reached Milan on the last day of fashion week. As Giorgio Armani cancelled his show and Michael Kors his party on Sunday in the Italian fashion capital, Miuccia Prada went ahead with a big announcement. In a small press conference, she and Raf Simons announced their indefinite co-creative directorship of her fashion house, to be unveiled in September. “A lot of creatives in different kinds of positions at brands feel troubled, feel that the fashion industry is becoming an industry that excludes creatives,” Simons said. “Miuccia and myself believe that collaboration between creatives could reposition that aspect of the whole business.”

At the beginning of the week, another designer had weighed in on an industry trapped in the hamster wheel of business. “Last season was about my love of fashion. This time, I asked myself, why am I repeating this ritual time and again? I’m exhausted after a fashion show. It’s really tiring,” Alessandro Michele said after a Gucci show that saw the backstage brought to the runway, spinning around on a big carousel for all to see. “Being in the fashion world is like being an isolated nun. We travel around the world, always saying, ‘One day we’ll give up and do something else.’ But that day never comes. Fashion is very powerful.” Fuelled by Michele’s earnest comments, the Gucci show got creativity levels in Milan off to an intense start that could only have delighted Simons’s desire for creative amplification.

On the first anniversary of Karl Lagerfeld’s death, Silvia Venturini Fendi is acclimatising to going it alone at the LVMH-owned house that carries her name. “I was asking myself, now that I am in charge of this collection, who is the woman I want to dress? She is independent, free and strong,” she said. “In a moment where we talk more about feminism than femininity, it made me want to analyse the concept of the feminine wardrobe through the decades. My wish for the new generations is to be perceived as strong while keeping the codes of femininity.” Venturini turned to the clichés of the feminine stereotypes: the colour pink, lingerie elements and delicate lace, along with the clichés of female power-dressing, from sharp tailoring to the idea of the dominatrix. “It’s a little perverse,” she smiled mischievously.


Her Fendi collection hit Milan like a revelation, demonstrating in womenswear what we already knew from Venturini’s men’s collections: her ability to encapsulate the zeitgeist as a social commentator, and her knack for a super strong show. Miuccia Prada joined in on the same dialogue. “I want to define femininity not through frivolity, but through what is considered ‘delicate feminine’. The discussion of having to give up femininity in order to be strong women always worried me,” she said, evaluating a Prada collection that dressed up fashion’s current affinity for masculine tailoring in beaded fringing, languid chiffon dresses, ruffled bibs and power sequins. To underline that point, Prada puffed up the gentleman’s blazer, coloured it and cinched it in to mould a supersized sculpture of the female form.

“Hyper masculine is okay for menswear, as hyper feminine is okay for womenswear,” Donatella Versace weighed in. Her first co-ed show wasn’t short on unisex and his-and-hers moments, right from the looks that opened it: two platinum blondes in Versace’s women’s and men’s versions of loosely the same black suit, hers worn sans trousers with a mini dress with a cut-out décolleté that echoed his top. Checked coats, knitwear and sportswear from the gentleman’s heritage and prep wardrobes were magnified and shrunk according to physiques. “What I’m trying to show with this collection is that sensuality comes from the brain, from the way one thinks,” Versace argued. “Clothes accentuate that.”

You need only look outside of the show venues to see why the codes of the feminine wardrobe were occupying the minds of designers in Milan. The most serious stars of the current street style scene are almost consistently clad in oversized suits, magnified shirts, and coats from the military and heritage sectors; grey, beige, camel, navy, black and white. You can imagine how it could trigger Versace, Prada and their fellow female designers, so sensitive to the nerve impulses between our collective wardrobe and mentality, to change that scenario. But this wasn’t just a female point of view. Daniel Lee opened his third Bottega Veneta show with a series of slenderised and clarified black tailoring looks for men and women, before launching into a kind of hyper-glamour for the ladies.


“We were thinking about how we could make structured tailoring occupy the space between the super formal and the street that’s been so prevalent in fashion,” he explained. “It’s about things that allow you to feel very elegant and done-up but at the same time very comfortable.” Things soon took that turn for the more feminine in looks founded in movement. Here, Lee interpreted the fringing that ruled the runways everywhere in Milan, letting it creep up from hemlines that looked like DIY T-shirt fringing from the 1980s before they materialised a thousandfold as dancing embellishment on skirts and a bag, and as macro shearling fringes on coats.

Along with sequined maxi dresses, the Bottega Veneta fringe fest made for a collection that resolved and refined the sparkly glamour segments of Lee’s two previous seasons. He also listened to last season’s encouragement to break away from lavish plexiglass sets and wasteful plastic invitations. Instead, he sent out email invitations and welcomed guests in an optical white space. When the lights came on, they projected the walls with images of Palladian gardens. “I wanted to build a set that was completely recyclable and doesn’t leave any kind of physical trace,” he said. It was an on-point statement in a Milan season that resounded with the industry’s call for sustainability. At Marni, for instance, Francesco Risso patchworked his garments from scraps, hand-spun things and artisanally sculpted metal pieces.

Dolce & Gabbana devoted their collection to Italian craftsmanship, knitting up a storm through suiting, outerwear, skirting, shoes, and bags. “Everything is handmade. We worked with artisans’ unions from the north to the south of Italy,” Stefano Gabbana explained, nothing that he and Domenico Dolce are making the necessary preparations for putting their handmade pieces into production for the stores. From reflections on sustainability to the sensibility of womenswear today, the shows in Milan dealt with the fashion industry’s ever-increasing impact on our collective mentality. As showgoers rushed to Paris amid increasing coronavirus alerts, this week fashion rarely felt closer to the eye of the hurricane that shapes the news landscape and our everyday lives.

London Fashion Week A/W´20 Review

Outside the runways of London Fashion Week, Storm Dennis was howling and hitting you in the face in transit from one show to another on this city’s phenomenally packed schedule. If the wind felt overwhelming, it was only an expression of the creative energy being generated in a British fashion capital that could have seen tumbleweed following Brexit, but is rising above it all. So popular is the London schedule that it’s virtually impossible to summarise the multi-faceted directions the city’s fashion scene now represents. (Stay with me, though, I’ll give it a go.)

From the often home-spun “London couture” gestures and giant volumes of Richard Malone, Matty Bovan, Simone Rocha, Molly Goddard and Halpern, to the ladylike ballroom dressing of Roksanda, Emilia Wickstead and Erdem, British grandeur is alive and kicking across the tiers of the designer establishment. On the other hand, London now rivals Paris and Milan in the sophisticated, intelligent and sensual daywear category, too. Victoria Beckham, JW Anderson, Rejina Pyo and Burberry proved that fact, along with newer designers such as Petar Petrov, Charlotte Knowles, and Nensi Dojaka, who made her debut at Fashion East.


What so many of them shared is a motivation for progressiveness advocated so strongly in this age by the younger generations. In London, youth has always found a platform that takes it seriously, from our runways to the colleges that keep us alive, and this year’s Central Saint Martins MA show didn’t disappoint. Bright young things from Paolina Russo to Cameron Williams, Ella Boucht and Sadie McCormack flew the flags for the issues closest to their hearts – sexuality, exploitation, authenticity, to name a few – reminding us that nearly everything in this industry, bar a few ageless geniuses, starts with young people and their ideas.

The creativity levels in London will always fluctuate, but around the fashion houses of Milan and Paris, there are more graduates hailing from this city’s colleges working behind the scenes than anywhere else. Of all people, the American designer and magnate Tommy Hilfiger, whose travelling #TommyNow circus came to town this season with a collection devoted to the London he loves, pointed this out: “We have a lot of Brits working for us,” he said. “Doing what we’re doing suits London very well. In general.” Hilfiger was referring to the progressive spirit that penetrates London’s entire fashion scene.

This season, sustainability was at the forefront of designers’ minds, from Tommy, whose ongoing Lewis Hamilton collaboration is now 75 per cent sustainable, to Richard Malone, who won the International Woolmark Prize on Monday evening and whose made-to-order business is sustainable to its core – with the facts and figures to back it up. At Burberry, Riccardo Tisci presented a carbon-neutral show and talked about the steps he’s taking: “It’s something I don’t even need to think about anymore because you are constantly aware of it,” he said.


Reflecting on the advancements that still need to be made, Tisci noted that “technically, things aren’t a hundred per cent developed yet.” For instance, “Nobody has the right, good-quality nylon yet.” As for fur, “I’ve used it my whole career, but I don’t miss fur. Today was all ecological and it looked real,” he said, referring to the sustainable faux fur he used in his Burberry show; his best to date. Simone Rocha based her collection around the Aran Islands, essentially devoting her show to the world’s most recognisable locally-sourced, artisanal product. And Michael Halpern partly used recycled sequins in the embroidery of his signature sparkly glam.

Between all the gestures of grandeur and couture aspirations that fill half of the London fashion scene, and the idiosyncratic and often modernist daywear wardrobe that contrasts it, this isn’t a fashion scene made for market segmentation. It’s a dynamic reality that could easily turn the London shows into a hot mess, but instead highlights the city as the industry’s beacon of self-expression and optimism in an era in which authenticity is the prime currency. Whether we’re hit by Storm Dennis or Hurricane Brexit, it’s a hankering for creation that prevails.

New York Fashion Week A/W´20 Review

In a season that saw every celebrity leave New York for the Academy Awards in Los Angeles, followed by a mass exodus of key designers from the schedule, the last thing you want to do is add grief to the state of America’s foremost fashion week. The shows in this city are surrounded by fading memories of glitz and glamour: the way we were... and could be again? We were hopeful last season when Tom Ford was made chairman of the CFDA and successfully restructured and revitalised the show schedule. But after the Oscars – gold for a designer like Ford – were moved forward to coincide with the shows, he relocated his own to Los Angeles. It caused a domino effect in New York: Jeremy Scott postponed his show to the haute couture week in Paris in July. Ralph Lauren never announced one. Tommy Hilfiger had already decided to show in London. Telfar, one of the city’s most coveted young designers, had already presented in Florence the previous month, while Pyer Moss didn’t show, either.

The situation left the city with a choppy schedule that made it hard to put a finger on what the New York season was all about. Mainly, it felt like there was a real sense of nostalgia in the air; a longing for better days when the show scene here reflected the glamour of New York society and the best sides of American celebrity culture. Marc Jacobs looked to the style legends of the Upper East Side in the 1960s in a dramatic show choreographed by Karole Armitage, which reminded us how great New York Fashion Week could be in an ideal world. At Coach, Stuart Vevers paid homage to the art scene of the Lower East Side in the early 1980s, in collaboration with the Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, and with a performance by Debbie Harry. Both shows painted great memories of the city’s influence on fashion, but also served as a reminder of a fashion week that has seen better days.


At Oscar de la Renta, Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia were likewise seduced by memories of an old New York. Their moodboard was filled with pictures from Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball, which de la Renta attended, but it was the addition of the designer duo’s own millennial points of departure that made the show. “After we finished the collection, we realised we were taking ourselves too [seriously] with this theme. We’re quite light-hearted losers,” Garcia quipped, noting how he and Kim - both big cartoon fans - had added the influence of Fantasia to their collection because they felt like the Sorcerer’s Apprentices. “We reminded ourselves that we are Mickey: we only know about all this from books and stories and what Oscar told us. This is who we are,” he said. It made for an exuberant, fresh and clarified collection, which demonstrated that memories of New York’s glamour years can easily – and must – be fused with a contemporary approach.


Vevers echoed that fact: “I’ve spoken to people who were living and working in that time,” he said, referring to his reference. “They really fed off each other as a group, and it created this burst of creativity. It was post-Studio 54. After the glamour, it was about authenticity and rawness, which translates to today: what the next generation is looking for.” Vevers was using New York’s “multi-hyphen” arts scene in the late ’70s and early ’80s to draw a parallel with his present-day audience. “It was a time when people were musician-artist-poets,” he said, exercising that hyphen, “and today I look at someone like Megan thee Stallion, who’s a performer but also studies social housing. To me that contrast is fascinating.” With the influence American culture has on youth around the world, this is exactly what New York Fashion Week should be reflecting.

Of course, the young designers were still present, from Khaite and Eckhaus Latta to Dion Lee and LaQuan Smith. Big brands including Michael Kors, The Row, Tory Burch, Longchamp and Proenza Schouler drew big-time attendance, and Rodarte staged a beautiful and highly theatrical show in Saint Bartholomew’s Church, which illustrated how fabulous New York Fashion Week could feel if more designers followed suit. But for this fashion week to truly reform an identity - whether it’s founded in something old or carves out a new character - American super brands, mid-tier brands and emerging designers need to come together and find a solution. Many talked about moving the shows to Los Angeles, which would make sense for the February presentations if the Academy Awards holds on to its current dates. For the September shows, perhaps less so. Either way, there’s a willingness in the industry for New York Fashion Week to be great; a support system that just needs a lot more encouragement.

The Best Vintage Boutiques For Men In The French capital.

From Le Vif, to Plus que parfait with Brut Archive, Vintage boutiques are making a name for themselves in Paris. Here are the four best mens vintage stores in the fashion capital itself.


1. Le Vif

For our first pick, we head to number 101 rue Boileau in the 16th arrondissement, where Gauthier Borsarello, a vintage enthusiast, opened his boutique Le Vif in December 2018. This temple of frivolity is dedicated to classic American ready-to-wear, with sweaters tattooed with loud logos, faded denim (with the iconic Levi's 501 at the head of the line), leather bombers, military pieces and T-shirts of all kinds that are found in abundance. Vintage boutique Le Vif, 101 Rue Boileau, 75016 Paris

2. Plus que parfait

It's the ultimate vintage insider boutique. Nestled in the heart of the Marais, in the Temple district, this high-end address, which defines itself as a sales depot, conceals a plethora of pieces from major houses and designers, from Prada to Louis Vuitton, Jean Paul Gaultier and Balenciaga. Please note that only pieces in excellent condition are accepted and subsequently sold. And prices defy all odds. Vintage boutique Plus que parfait, 23 Rue des Blancs Manteaux, 75004 Paris

3. Brut Archives

Don't look for Parisian style at Brut Archives. This vintage mecca, founded by Paul Ben Chemhoun of Brut Clothing, offers a real leap back in time with a selection of US military clothing from the Second World War, jeans from the 1970s and very American XXL jackets. The ideal address for all insiders, in short. Vintage boutique Brut Archives, 3 Rue Réaumur, 75003 Paris

4. Repair Jeans

Repair Jeans is the spot for all denim fans. Located at number 8 Avenue de Fontainebleau in the Kremlin-Bicêtre, Parisians flock there to have their jeans repaired. But it is also the temple of denim, as there is an astronomical quantity of vintage trousers, all classified by size. Vintage boutique Repair Jeans, 8 Avenue de Fontainebleau, 94270 Le Kremlin-Bicêtre

French President Invites Designers To Dinner

With concern about the coronavirus mounting, how to greet people at a fashion dinner? Handshake? Fist bump? Smile with your eyes? Well, it was kissing and hugging all around at the Élysée Palace on Monday night when French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte summoned pretty much every designer in town to a lavish dinner to kick off Paris Fashion Week.

Nicolas Ghesquière, Maria Grazia Chiuri, Rick Owens, Pierpaolo Piccioli, Alber Elbaz, Clare Waight Keller, Olivier Rousteing, Simon Porte Jacquemus, Andrew Gn and dozens more milled around the gilded ballroom embracing each other. “We’re one big, dysfunctional family, but still a family,” Elbaz said after Owens, on towering platforms, leaned in for a hug. “No competition. Much respect and admiration.”

“We need to be together and respect each other and help each other because I feel we all live the same struggles,” he said. “For example, I was speaking with some designer friends now and the coronavirus is a real crisis even for fashion and we all are facing it, no matter which brands we are and how much money we have. It’s a fashion crisis, a human crisis and we are together in that crisis.” “I think there’s a lot more camaraderie than people give credit for,” agreed Waight Keller, who chatted with Ghesquière about a reception room at the palace decorated by Pierre Paulin in a groovy modernist style.


Waight Keller recently invited Marc Jacobs to appear in a Givenchy campaign, and she collaborated with Piccioli on an issue of A Magazine, prizing this glimpse at other designers’ working methods. For his part, Piccioli gave a thumbs up to the news that Miuccia Prada invited Raf Simons to be her co-creative director.

“I know what it means,” he said, alluding to more than two decades codesigning with Chiuri at Fendi and later Valentino. “I think it’s great when you arrive at a common point of view that comes from two identities.” Before dinner, Macron took to the mic to tout the dynamism of Paris, a magnet for creative people. “At least half of you come from outside France,” he said, glancing at the packed room with designers hailing from India, South Africa, Italy, Belgium, Morocco, Beirut and points beyond.

He encouraged them all to embrace “eco-friendly design” and to reduce fashion’s environmental footprint through innovation and creativity. Macron also paid special tribute to the “French phenomenon” seated at his elbow: Jean Paul Gaultier, who last month staged his last fashion show. He praised his ability to disrupt and the freedom with which he approached his metier, “what France does represent to the rest of the world.”

Will Coronavirus Shut Down Paris Fashion Week?

Is it even Paris Fashion Week if there isn’t any kissing? As the show schedule got underway in the City of Light, show-goers resorted to dramatic air smooches and strong arming in lieu of hugs as coronavirus hysteria emanated across the French capital.

Celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow appeared to echo the concerns of an industry – admittedly, one uniquely prone to bouts of hysteria – when she posted a photograph of herself wearing a mask en route to Paris. She captioned the selfie: “Paranoid? Prudent? Panicked? Placid? Pandemic? Propaganda? Paltrow’s just going to go ahead and sleep with this thing on the plane. I’ve already been in this movie. Stay safe. Don’t shake hands. Wash hands frequently.”

Side note: Are celebrity face-mask selfies the new sheet-mask selfies? First, let’s rewind to Milan, where things started to get “a bit Bird Box”, as one editor deemed the reaction, right around the time when Giorgio Armani cancelled its show “due to the recent developments of coronavirus in Italy”. An email marked “urgent”, sent to guests at 7.50am on Sunday 23 February, detailed that the show would be livestreamed in front of an empty teatro and that the decision had been taken “to safeguard the wellbeing of all [Mr Armani’s] invited guests by not having them attend crowded spaces.”

As the mayor of Milan announced that offices and schools would close in response to two deaths from the virus in northern Italy, rumours began to circulate that Linate airport would be shuttered later that evening. Editors on the front row at the first show of the day, Ports 1961, desperately jabbed credit card details into their phones in attempts to change their flights. The virus almost overshadowed the unprecedented news that Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons would be joining forces as co-collaborators at Prada for spring/summer 2021.

When Dolce & Gabbana started its show – gasp! – on time, rather than observing the customary 30-minute delay that usually occurs at Italian fashion shows, we knew something was up. And, as the 121-look strong show came to a close (121. Count ‘em) frantic editors eschewed a trip backstage in favour of racing to the airport early to catch their flights. In the British Airways lounge, all anyone could talk about was that several American editors had decided to hire cars and make the 9-hour drive from Milan to Paris, instead of risking flights. Even Instagram wasn’t a distraction: many of the models, including Bella Hadid, had posted selfies wearing protective face masks from their planes.

British Vogue’s editors caught their flights back to London with no major disruption, though there were signs of unease at Linate: the check-in assistants taking our boarding cards at the gate insisted on a six-foot zone of inhibition, holding their arms out at right angles like traffic controllers, snatching the boarding cards, then virtually hurling them back at us before conceding entry. As I boarded the plane, a seated passenger wearing surgical gloves and a mask dropped their hand sanitiser on the aisle in front of me. I reached to pick it up, but she snatched it out of my hand with a look of fear. Coughs received frightened side-eye glances as we took our seats and tried to retain a sense of healthy British cynicism. But, when we landed at London City airport, no one was conducting temperature checks, which they had done when we had reached Milan. Were we worrying unnecessarily?


By the time I got to Paris on Monday afternoon, after having enjoyed a relatively empty Eurostar experience, reports were trickling in via text that buyers from Net-A-Porter.com and a number of other retailers who had been working in Milan had been advised not to come into their respective offices, nor to travel onwards to Paris. Nevertheless, the Dior show went ahead as scheduled at 2.30pm, though JJ Martin, the Milan-based editor-turned-entrepreneur who runs the colourful womenswear label La Double J, decided to cancel the dinner she was due to hold on Tuesday evening in celebration of her collaboration with the shoe designer Fabrizio Viti.

“On Monday evening, Fabrizio called me telling me the mood in Paris was very sombre, and very concerned, and so we felt it was not an appropriate time to be celebrating,” Martin said, in a call with British Vogue on Wednesday 26 February. “To be perfectly honest with you, I was not particularly nervous about coming to Paris. I think there is a little bit of hysteria, a little bit of a lack of education. But equally, when things like this happen, I am very much like: Go with the flow. When the universe is telling you to back down, don’t force it. I didn’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable.”

Will the city be forced to abandon its remaining shows? The catwalk production supremo Alex de Betak, simultaneously announcing a renewed sustainability push on all the shows his team were working on, stressed that the situation was evolving when British Vogue spoke with him on Tuesday 25 February. “We as producers are discussing with all our clients who are worried, how we can propose the best hygiene solutions,” he said. “There have been warnings, but no cancellations. I am crossing my fingers, but I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

De Betak had made the decision to close his Shanghai office when the epidemic broke out, but work is starting again. “Our industry is so dependent on China, for manufacturing, production, shows, events, clients. [But] I don’t believe in panicking. I read the news that comes in every hour and I make up my mind. Of course, lots of our big projects in China are put on hold for now, which makes total sense.” As for Paris? “If [the virus] grew tomorrow, then probably common sense would be to revisit the reasoning behind putting that many people together in a room. It’s true I sadly wouldn’t be surprised if we have to revisit the decision again in the next few days for Fashion Week. It’s day by day.”

Still, brands are making arrangements. At the Lanvin show, held on Wednesday morning, the brand had face masks and hand sanitiser available for guests, as well as backstage for the models and hair and make-up teams. It was a similar story later that day, at Dries Van Noten, where suited and booted assistants offered face masks to guests upon arrival, and at Lemaire. Marine Serre went so far as to put them on her runway, and by Wednesday evening, people had started to post selfies of masks and glamorous rhinestone earring combinations. Meanwhile, Milan has postponed its design fair, Salone del Mobile – due to take place in April – until June. Shanghai Fashion Week, originally scheduled for the end of the March, has also been postponed.

And on the front row, editors are trading vitamin C sachets and avoiding the urge to recoil when someone blows their nose. Autumn/winter 2020’s biggest trend, then? Long live the air kiss.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Colour Combos, Cryptic Signs & Critical Success: What Raf Simons Will Bring To Prada

The announcement of the co-creative directorship between Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons is a groundbreaker of such seismic potential that the entire world of fashion is hanging in anticipation of the double-debut, which will happen in Milan next season.

The primary question causing so much excitement is what the clothes — for women and men — might look like when two of the smartest independent heads in fashion begin to spark off each other. What does Miuccia most look forward to in doubling up with Raf? Her answer, unequivocally: having fun. She wants to “broaden the horizons of what fashion can be, and also to have fun. What I mainly think is that you have fun when you really do good stuff, and that fun comes with other people.”

That quote comes from an article in System magazine in which she and Raf sat down to have a free-wheeling conversation in June 2016. There’s a link to it on Raf’s website. Their brainstorm seems to have triggered the creative explosion about to take place at one of the most prestigious brands on the planet. “On all levels, I can sense Miuccia's very clear vision, her mindset, her view of the world, her view of art, her political opinions,” said Raf. “And as one person, she is able to construct and share that on such a huge scale. I find that mind-blowing.”


They’re long-standing friends, their relationship dating back to at least 2005, when Raf was hired as creative director at Jil Sander, which was then owned by the Prada group. It was his first chance to design for women, having established himself as the leader of Belgian brotherhood and of teenage subcultural style since 1995.

The critical success of Raf’s seven-year Jil Sander residency was his lift-off for a career that took him into the big league as a creative director. His three years at Christian Dior between 2012 and 2015 was followed by his rebooting of Calvin Klein as Calvin Klein 205W39NYC, which lasted from 2016 to 2018. All the while, he’s continued with his own label.

Now that he’s joined up with Miuccia Prada, here’s a forensic look at Raf Simons’ playbook — the differences and the similarities of style that he’ll be bringing with him to merge into the Prada universe.

Raf loves colour

A bold taste for strong colour combinations is a consistent stamp of Rafology. He’s consistently punctuated his collections with electric blue, primary yellow, fuchsia, emerald green, red, in pure shots and vibrating clashes.

He’s a minimal tailor 

The cut of a black tailored suit has always been insistently present in Raf-designed collections. The sensational black Bar Suit tailleur — with which he opened his first Christian Dior haute couture fall 2012 show — was an assertion of the Raf suit, which can be tracked in near-identical form through his own collections and his Jil Sander days. Miuccia Prada is likely to see eye to eye with that ungendered unifier.

He likes volume

From the beginning, Raf has supersized outerwear. What started with his own outsized hoodies and parkas in his underground fall 2001 show (which predated the ‘streetwear’ phenomenon by years and riffed off Martin Margiela, who he idolises) gave way to the spacious coat silhouettes that are now a permanent signature. He cuts that cool drama in classic and glamorous ways, for men and women.

White shirts, black ties 

There has hardly been a Raf collection when white shirts and skinny black ties don’t feature. What will happen at the feminist house of Prada when this signifier of male business uniform — with all its ambivalent power politics — comes up for debate in the women’s sphere?

He has a captive male audience 

Loyal followers of Raf’s insider-symbolism and his valorisation of teen subcultures of the 20th century — punk, techo, new wave, rave, gabber — mean that all eyes of two male generations (those who lived it like Raf and his friends, and now millenials and Gen-Z boys) will be magnetised by what will happen when he hits Prada menswear. Miuccia will get a crash course in tapping into northern European youth iconoclasm. How will the results differ from his own line?

He’s a secret romantic
 
Raf has a sensitive, emotional side, which goes beyond his nostalgia for lost youth. At times, it has given fabulous expression to a far more directly referenced kind of romanticism than Miuccia has ever allowed herself. Will Raf persuade her to let herself go with the unforgettable 1950s prettiness he created at Jil Sander, and the incredible museum-worthy, 18th-century-influenced gowns and embroidered frock coats at Dior? She might find that it’s fun.

He’s a fan of bare arms

Sleeveless tops are totally a Raf signature for men. Likely to go arm-in-arm with Miuccia’s same Italian penchant for women.

We will see shorts

Male leg exposure is a constant Raf-ism. Will we soon be seeing shorts transferred to Prada womenswear?

He likes to label 

Raf’s cryptic signs and symbols, stuck on in patches and sometimes printed on tape, have crossed over from his own collections to Christian Dior and Calvin Klein. Will he and Miuccia be concocting a new secret joint language to keep Prada fans tantalised into the 2020´s?

Kenneth Ize On The Craft Behind His AW20 Collection

“I’m not a religious person,” explains Nigeria-born, Vienna-raised Kenneth Ize, before reciting John 3:16. A hangover from a youth spent in catholic churches in Lagos, the verse may not guide his choices, but his sartorial memories from the time certainly do. Ize describes the vibrant traditional dress his mother wore to church (and the matching outfits she insisted Ize and his brother wear) as the starting point for the collection showing at Paris’s Palais de Tokyo this season.

Ize, who relaunched his eponymous label in 2016 with menswear, now shows on the women’s schedule with dual-gender collections, thanks to the fact that a majority of his men’s pieces were actually being bought by women. The 29-year-old is now based back in Lagos, but divides his time between Vienna (where he studied at Austria’s University of Applied Arts under the tutelage of Hussein Chalayan), Paris, Italy and Nigeria, where he works with artisans in the craft of aso oke handweaving, a technique developed by the Yoruba people to create the traditional cloth for special occasions.


From this vibrant cloth, he cuts boldly tailored separates that have already found fans such as Beyoncé, Naomi Campbell and Donald Glover. Speaking to Vogue from Vicenza, Italy, while overseeing the final touches of production of his autumn/winter 2020 collection, Ize reveals the story behind his Paris Fashion Week debut.

On fostering social enterprise

“When I moved back to Nigeria [in 2016], I was shocked by how many resources we had, not just natural resources, but artisans creating things with their hands. And then I fell in love with aso oke cloth because it doesn’t consume electricity to create, just a person and the fibre. [The artisans] are incredible; they empower me to open my mind, to think faster, to approach things in different ways and find solutions to problems. I started listening to the stories from the craftspeople and it broke my heart to see that you can have so much talent and you can’t feed yourself from it.”

On the ideas and inspiration behind autumn/winter 2020

“I tried to reflect back to the time when [my family and I] were in Africa and how things changed all of a sudden when we moved to Europe. My mother stopped wearing African outfits every day, only wearing them on Sundays. On Mondays, she would go to work in corporate clothing and be a completely different person. She was always so looking forward to Sundays because it was the only time she could really express where she was from and her culture.”

On his spontaneous approach to colour

“I choose my colours by going to the market in Lagos and buying yarn that I love. Then I show them to the weaver, she breaks down what she thinks — she has a very good sense of colour — then we start weaving this fabric, not knowing what it’s going to be. Do I ever have a colour palette [in mind]? I don’t know. You could easily find seven colours in one of my jackets!”

On being a 2019 LVMH Prize finalist

“Honestly, I don’t think I knew that much about LVMH until the prize! I went there so naïve and had the best time of my life. I’m happy that I made so many friends, I wasn’t just focusing on [winning] the prize, I was focused on the relationships I could build with people — and those relationships are what enabled me to show [at PFW]. I’m happy people can relate to what I’m doing, I’m happy that it’s starting a conversation. When I established [my label], it was during the ebola crisis and everything about Africa at that time was about ebola. I wanted to show people a different side [of the continent]. I’m happy with what people are speaking about and to change people’s lives by creating jobs. So the LVMH prize stepped up the game for me.”

On the materials he works with

“I’m working with aso oke from Nigeria and crepe with embroidery from Austria, which is funny, because that’s where Nigerians would travel to in the 1960s to get fabric. My mum probably went there with her friends to buy fabric back then! This season I’m also playing with knitwear and Japanese denim.”

On the significance of his PFW debut as an African designer

“For me, this year is about opening the brand to people and growing. It’s also for people to see something different, because I grew up knowing who Giorgio Armani and Gianni Versace were, but I didn’t grow up knowing any African designers. It’s a big problem, that not everyone’s included on this journey. [Designers] may say how much they are inspired by something from Africa or Mexico, but are they really including [people from Africa and Mexico] in the picture?”

On designing a collection for the every person

“It was very important for me, for this debut in Paris, to go back to my roots, to where I started from, to what I know best. I’m focused a lot on tailoring, it’s something I’ve always really loved. There are no dresses for the girls, just straight, tailored pieces. I’m playing with silhouettes a lot and trying to bring a relaxed feel into the tailored pieces and mix street culture into it — I want it to be for everyone.”