Tuesday, May 26, 2020

What Will Become Of Fashion When The Epidemic Is Over?

The longer we endure social distancing, and in some cases complete self-isolation, the darker our moods, and the lower our energy levels. At least, this is what’s happening to me. I have been in self-imposed quarantine in my hometown of Ragusa in Sicily since March 6th, a couple of days before the Italian government imposed the lockdown in Lombardy and other heavily affected northern regions and, then, the entire country. I was supposed to stay at home for a couple of weeks, unwinding after two consecutive fashion months and tending to my writing duties before going back to Milan, but here I am, still. It is the afternoon of March 20 as I write these lines.

I am secluded in the library, my most beloved room, filled with stacks of beloved books, now feels like a prison. I try my best to stay mentally and physically healthy, but some days are not easy. It must be the same for everybody, I guess. I am bad at calling and keeping connected. And yet, I feel optimistic and positive. At least, I want to. I have a lot of time to myself to read. I have rediscovered drawing, which satisfies me immensely. And I also have plenty of time to ruminate. I know it’s just thinking for thinking’s sake. Crystal balls are not my forte. Still, I cannot help but speculate.

What will become of fashion when the crisis is over? It’s easy to say that nothing will be the same again. The whole of our lives will be different, from the way we connect with other humans and other species — oh bats, oh pangolins! — to the way we travel. We are at a junction: we might all end up in a completely sanitised world of regulated seclusion and fluid-free digital connections, or we might rediscover what truly matters, and do away with the clutter, the overconsumption, the superficiality that’s been clogging our minds, and destroying our environment. I wonder if the crisis that’s hitting fashion — and it’s hitting very hard, on both the supply and demand sides of the equation — is one of those cases in which only the strong will survive. But are those strong, I ask myself, the usual suspects, the money-fuelled Goliaths? Or will the smart and agile Davids have their revenge?

The big conglomerates, for sure, are better equipped to survive the hardship right here and right now. They have the resources to weather the storm. And yet, they ultimately rely on huge volumes of consumption, which the current epidemic has perhaps already shown to be blatantly superficial. Who needs all this product? And, when this eventually passes, could we witness a comeback of small-batch, beautiful products, produced and sold locally by skilled artisans? When it comes to media, could we see a decisive shift away from large legacy print titles and the rise of new digital formats, mixing drawing, collage, memes, videos?

A few days before the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of Covid-19 a global pandemic, trend forecasting guru Li Edelkoort did not mince her words: “The virus will slow everything down. We will witness a halt in the production of consumer goods. It's terrible and wonderful because we have to stop producing at this frantic pace. It is almost as if the virus were an amazing grace for the planet. It might be the reason why we survive as a species.”

In the current turmoil, which in Italy is particularly hard, it’s difficult to see “amazing grace” right now, but I get the point. Here, the fashion industry is the second largest contributor to our national economy, and yet the government has been slow in acknowledging this, not even including fashion in the list of the industries heavily affected by the current situation, prompting the Camera della Moda to file an official request for support. But Italy is also the only place in the world where age-old artisanal skills have been turned over the years into unique industrial processes. If a return to smaller and more authentic production is really to come, it’s our manufacturing system that can make it possible, and this makes me optimistic.

Italians are as inventive as they are anarchic: we give our best in dark times and honestly times cannot get any darker than this. We are suffering a lot, but this might actually be our moment, again. It happened in the Fifties, and again in the early Eighties. Creativity and invention are among our national treasures. Creativity and invention do not stop, even now, and that’s a sign of optimism that is important to spread in this very moment.

I have spoken with everyone from Giorgio Armani to Pierpaolo Piccioli, from Silvia Venturini Fendi to Angela Missoni, from Alessandro Dell’Acqua and Alessandro Sartori to Francesco Risso, and none of these creators are resting. Despite the evident and unavoidable difficulties, they are working on the new collections, using Skype and video calls, doing more with less but doing it, stubbornly and proactively. And everyone in this transversal class of Italian inventors, each one in their own way, agrees on one simple fact: this crisis is an opportunity to edit down the superfluous, to regain our long-lost soul, to do away with heavy marketing and the insidious economy of influencing. Basta! These Italians are working on smaller collections with stronger messages and this might be the ultimate outcome of this whole turmoil.

They say difficult times are fertile ground for extreme outbursts of fantasy. The pandemic has forced us to focus, here and now, on the essential: surviving. But once we’ll get our lives back, we will need beauty, even a tiny zing of it, in order to live again and not just survive. And when it happens, this industry may have evolved for the good: getting out of the marketing trap and rediscovering its real purpose in beauty. Beauty as truthfulness, soulfulness, invention. Beauty as a remedy and a vehicle. Beauty as a reason to progress and a way, again, to be truly human.

Instagram Hustles To Become Global Hub For Digital Fashion Shows

With no way to safely host runway shows in the global fashion capitals any time soon, designers and fashion brands are in the thick of figuring out digital alternatives to share and promote their upcoming Resort and Spring collections. Is the best approach a YouTube runway show, like what Carine Roitfeld staged with Derek Blasberg and a slate of models and designers? Or a partnership with a fashion publication? Is a virtual TikTok challenge a smart way to stand out? Or a pop-up shop on Nintendo's Animal Crossing game?

Fashion brands tend to follow each other into unknown territory, so it's likely that a few leaders will set the pandemic standard for presenting online. And with the different regional trade organisations setting up their own digital destinations for collection content, popular social media platforms are aiming to become core to the strategy. Instagram, already fashion’s go-to, is no exception, making a strong play for digital fashion week hub status. On Wednesday, its fashion team, led by Vice President of Fashion Partnerships Eva Chen, released a comprehensive “playbook” for hosting digital fashion shows on the app, complete with tips on how to “invite” followers to tune into a livestream, strategies for showing “behind the scenes” clips and pointers for enlisting influencers to boost awareness.

Fashion brands already design their runway shows to pop on Instagram with elaborate sets and front rows full of popular influencers. Livestream presentations are standard. But without a physical event — and the amplifying power of celebrities and influencers in the room — brands will need to get more creative to stand out. Instagram’s guide will be distributed by the regional trade organisations in New York, London, Paris and Milan, and comes a day after Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg announced new e-commerce features for both Facebook and Instagram.

“I don’t believe there is a future where there is a one-size-fits-all fashion week experience anymore,” Chen told BoF. “I do believe Instagram, no matter what, is going to be at the heart and soul of it.” Chen said the playbook was designed for brands of all sizes, acknowledging that sometimes the largest brands in the industry are the least willing to take risks on the platform where already they have millions of followers. She also said the guide is not meant to be a prescriptive formula, but offer tools and best practises that a brand can pick and choose from, depending on their approach. Instagram is also developing ways to feature upcoming fashion week content more prominently to users on the app, Chen said.

The playbook lands during an interesting time for social media activity. Newer platforms like Tiktok, the Gen Z favourite which was downloaded more than 11 million times just in March 2020, are growing fast. YouTube is making major investments to court the fashion crowd, following its hiring of Derek Blasberg as head of fashion and beauty partnerships in 2018. Instagram was only projected to see time spent on the platform increase by 1.5 percent in 2020, according to data from eMarketer. But now the research firm expects Instagram will see the biggest boost from the pandemic, during which American and Europeans on lockdown have spent more time on their phones, with gains as high as 14 percent.

These last three months, we have seen a huge shift in the way fashion is using Instagram.“These last three months, we have seen a huge shift in the way fashion is using Instagram,” said Chen. “So many brands that had never gone live are suddenly going live.” Capitalising on the increased engagement is a challenge. Advertisers are scaling back marketing spend to cut costs as shoppers stay home and do some cost-cutting of their own. Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, reported a steep decrease in advertising revenue in March but said the market started to recover in April, during which advertising revenue was flat year-over-year. Brands are also spending less with fashion, luxury and beauty influencers, many of whom have their biggest audiences on Instagram. Branded content posts fell from 35 percent of influencer posts in February to 4 percent in April, according to tracking agency Launchmetrics.

But the pandemic provides an opportunity for Instagram to further weave itself into the fabric of the fashion industry as more users watch longform video and livestreams on the platform than they did before the pandemic — views of the latter are up 70 percent year-over-year in the last month. Instagram not only stands to gain by capturing more of the digital advertising market, but also by expanding its in-app shopping functionality. In 2019, Instagram made it possible to shop from brand posts without redirecting users to a web browser, and allowed influencers and spokespeople to cue followers to shop their posts, too. Instagram gets a cut of the transaction, and brands fulfill the sales themselves.

Chen said the functionality is still in test mode, closed to limited accounts in the US, but plans are still set to expand that product. On Tuesday, Zuckerberg announced that Facebook is introducing in-app storefronts for brand accounts, and Instagram will also soon add shopping tags to live videos, allowing brands to prompt shoppers to buy during a livestream. Instagram will also highlight the shoppable product in a tab on the “Discover” page, much in the same way it does on its editorialised fashion and beauty shopping account, @Shop.

Fashion brands now in desperate need to push their direct-to-consumer sales but lacking the know-how or marketing funds to draw audiences to their websites could consider using Instagram’s social commerce tools to reach shoppers directly. Instagram’s guide encourages brands to use their shopping tags to drive sales in the main feed and on Instagram Stories. “If you’re not see-now-buy-now, you can still take advantage of this high-traffic time by sharing posts with shoppable products before and after fashion week,” reads the playbook. “Use shopping tags to make this experience as seamless as possible.”

Chen and her team are rolling their sleeves up in the hopes of ensuring that Instagram becomes the digital fashion show go-to, encouraging designers to get in touch and join a private Facebook group for live updates. “Our general philosophy is: we want to teach you how to use the tools so you as a brand — or as an individual or as a creator — feel empowered to use Instagram in your own way,” said Chen, adding she expects to see brands be more experimental in their Instagram strategies moving forward. “In times like these, some of the most creative ideas will surface.” In the end, Instagram’s efforts may result in a single global gathering place for brands, but much of this advice has to do with speaking to the consumer, not the trade. In the coming months, brands must also figure out how to sell collections to buyers who are unable to visit showrooms. The Fashion Week Problem is far from solved.

Revisiting Richard Prince´s Nurse Series For Louis Vuitton

In an effort to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, surgical masks have become a sign of the times, and they're not going anywhere anytime soon. It seems wearing masks will be the trend of choice for the foreseeable future as the narrative around the face coverings has morphed into a combination of both protective gear and fashion accessory. Long before the current crisis, however, Louis Vuitton presented a subversive take on health and safety on the Spring/Summer 2008 runway. With Marc Jacobs at the helm and a creative collaboration with artist Richard Prince, a dozen models donned a chic take on the classic nurse uniform, complete with branded face masks. As healthcare workers have become the frontline heroes of the pandemic, CR honors National Nurses Day with a look back on this memorable moment in fashion history.

Throughout Marc Jacobs' tenure as creative director of Louis Vuitton, the designer made a name for himself by bending the house codes and modernizing the image of the French maison. In this process, Jacobs collaborated with a range of legendary artists like Stephen Sprouse, Yayoi Kusama, and Takashi Murakami, who all applied their flair to sartorial pieces for Louis Vuitton. “I was always really intimidated by the art world" Jacobs said. "Then I got to know these artists a little bit—some a lot—and that fed my interest in their work.

For the Spring/Summer 2008 runway show, Jacobs tapped Prince after seeing his 2007 exhibition Spiritual America at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. The end product unveiled a blend of fine art and fashion as the show opened to a series of 12 models–including Naomi Campbell, Eva Herzigova, and Natalia Vodinova–dressed in see-through nurse uniforms with each letter of the fashion house's name fixed on the center of their nurse's caps. Additionally, each model was styled with a black lace face mask adorned with the iconic LV monogram print.

The striking theatrics of the show's opening was a nod to Prince's famous Nurse paintings, one of which can be seen as the cover art for Sonic Youth's 2004 album Sonic Nurse. The nurses that appeared on Louis Vuitton's runway embodied the same sexually charged kink that Prince prescribed to his paintings, modeling them after the covers of '40s-era pulp romance novels.

Elsewhere, the show followed a playful style with bright colors dominating and sparkling sequins, glittery lurex, and crumpled taffeta adding texture. As for accessories, handbags were also touched by Prince, featuring the artist's Jokes series (also used in Raf Simmons' debut campaign for Calvin Klein) printed across the side of monogrammed bags in a washed out watercolor finish. The collaborative handbag collection would later receive a launch party at the Guggenheim, where the LV nurses would again model the exclusive pieces.

In the wake of the current pandemic, several accounts took to social media to recall Louis Vuitton's Spring/Summer 2008 show as an image of what fashion might look like in the coming months. Jacobs' himself even reminisced on the show in an Instagram post–"wish I’d have held on to one of these" he wrote.

Kendall Jenner To Pay $90,000 In Fyre Festival Lawsuit

Kendall Jenner has settled the lawsuit concerning her involvement with the 2017 Fyre Festival. The model has agreed to pay $90,000 in the settlement over the now-deleted Instagram photo she posted in January 2017 to promote the failed music festival, according to court documents filed Tuesday. Jenner was sued in August 2019 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York by Gregory Messer, who is recovering money for creditors that lost money investing in the festival. Other celebrities involved in the Fyre Festival, including model Emily Ratajkowski and musicians Migos, Pusha T and Lil Yachty were also sued.

Court documents state that Jenner was paid $275,000 for the Instagram post and that the post did not specify that she was being paid to promote the festival. The court documents also state that Jenner suggested in the post’s caption that her brother-in-law, Kanye West, would be performing at the festival. The Fyre Festival has resulted in several lawsuits since the music event failed to come to fruition. The festival spawned Hulu and Netflix documentaries detailing how the Bahamas-based music event lured guests on false claims of celebrity attendees and luxury accommodations, but later presented guests with FEMA disaster relief tents, food shortages and no musical acts.

The festival’s founder, Billy McFarland, initially raised $26 million for the festival, using most of the funds to pay musical acts that didn’t show up and launch the social media campaign that Jenner participated in. McFarland pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges in March 2018 and was sentenced to six years in prison. He’s also been ordered to pay restitution of the $26 million he raised.

Dior To Bring Museum Exhibit To China In July

As fashion exhibitions worldwide linger in lockdown limbo, Dior is preparing to bring its blockbuster retrospective to Shanghai in July. “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams,” which bowed at Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris in 2017, will run at the Long Museum West Bund from July 28 to October 4th. “After enchanting visitors to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, this unique retrospective comes to life anew in China with a fresh scenographic narrative featuring many exceptional pieces,” the house said in a statement.

Curated by Oriole Cullen, the exhibition will feature more than 250 haute couture dresses, illustrations by René Gruau and Christian Bérard, and works by leading Chinese artists to highlight the historic bonds between Dior and China. The French fashion house will host an event on July 24 to inaugurate the show, although it could not confirm whether chief executive officer Pietro Beccari and women’s wear artistic director Maria Grazia Chiuri will attend, given ongoing travel bans linked to the coronavirus pandemic.

The World’s First Animal Crossing Fashion Show Is Here

Nintendo has sold more than 13 million copies of Animal Crossing: New Horizons since its release on March 20. The avatar-style game allows players to create their own worlds and communities –but just as important, players can also design their own outfits. This is why it’s interesting: Unlike other video games where only specific customisations can be made, Animal Crossing allows users to essentially design a garment from scratch, creating the exact hem length, flounce, or pattern on the outfit their avatar wears. Unsurprisingly, the game has quickly been adopted by the fashion community, with dozens of Instagram accounts sprouting up to showcase runway-inspired designs from Dior, Sports Banger, and Louis Vuitton, while brands like Valentino, Anna Sui, and Sandy Liang create custom garments for the game.

Reference Festival, a Berlin-based fashion organisation, is taking Animal Crossing’s fashion potential one step further with a virtual fashion show of Animal Crossing avatars dressed up in current season looks inspired by Loewe, Prada, and GmbH. The show was conceived by photographer Kara Chung, who runs the Instagram account @animalcrossingfashionarchive, and stylist Marc Goehring of 032c. “We met through a mutual friend, curator Evan Garza, who had contacted the both of us for an Animal Crossing piece on Art Forum. We connected on a call right after, and thought it’d be a fun way to collaborate!” Chung and Goehring tell Vogue.

The final show takes the form of a three-minute video, and like a prestigious IRL fashion event, it’s soundtracked by Michel Gaubert. “This is the first all digital fashion show I have worked on, and I approached it the same way I would approach a physical show, which is instinctively,” Gaubert says. “The difference here is that the show is actually a video clip of an incredibly popular video game – and I aimed for a playful, free-spirited fashion moment; fun and games.” Set to music by Joon, the Animal Crossing figures hit the runway in Craig Green, Paco Rabanne, and Chanel looks while an audience of foxes, cats, and a hot pink Birdo-esque creature look on from the front row. “I hope it will reach a lot of people from every horizon, and especially people who may only have a vague idea of what a fashion show actually is like,” Gaubert continues. “It was important for me that the music remain as accessible as the game, the show had to have a fun and enchanting spirit as it is a bit of a sweet little parody—just like Animal Crossing itself is an imitation of life which connects a lot of people these days, for the same reasons.”

All-in-all, the final video is not that different from a real fashion show. Although, who’s to say what’s real nowadays? As Goehring describes it, putting together the event was quite similar to prepping a physical fashion show or shoot. “To be honest, [we prepared] very much like a normal pull in the first stage when working on a shoot: I went through my favourite collections of the season and picked the looks,” he says. Of course, as in any fashion editorial, there were a few wrinkles. Now, instead of working with PRs to determine which looks would be available for a shoot date, Goehring worked with Chung to select looks that would translate well to the aesthetic of the video game. “You have to really think about which specifics you can delete from a look and what you pixelate, so that in the end it remains this one specific look which everybody knows – and it’s recognisable!” he continues.

For Reference Festival, staging a virtual fashion show on a popular video game is an extension of the organisation’s non-traditional approach to fashion events. (Last year, the group debuted a 24-hour fashion festival-turned-party.) “I believe that the future of fashion is a broad field of many aspects, and that anything virtual and engaging, and gaming in particular, are among them,” Reference Studios founder Mumi Haiati tells Vogue. “An intention of the first edition of our festival was showcasing new formats of presenting fashion, innovation at its very core—a subject that has now become more important than ever. With the second edition we will carry on doing so and push the idea even further. Gaming specifically adds an aspect of community which of course is a most significant factor in contemporary communications.”

So will specific brands follow suit and stage their own Animal Crossing runways? Can we kiss dreams of Milan Fashion Week goodbye and instead pray we can find a Nintendo Switch? Let’s not go quite that far. Goehring says replacing IRL runway shows isn’t the point. “It’s just a fun project between two fashion industry related gamers. High-five, Kara!” he cheers. To Gaubert, the video represents a joyous escape from the physical world. “You can live your life in a game as you like while being stuck at home, and you can wear your favourite looks from Undercover, Prada, and Raf Simons as you buy turnips or plant red mum flowers in a gender-free environment.” Doesn’t that sound like a little slice of paradise? Though like anything good these days it comes at a cost. The Nintendo Switch gaming console is sold out globally, making it harder to score than a Supreme box logo tee. For now, this fashion show video will have to do.

Gucci Releases Alessandro Michele’s Lockdown Diaries – And Announces A Major Change To Its Show Schedule

Like most of the fashion industry, Alessandro Michele has been using the lockdown period to reflect on the system while self-isolating at his home in Rome – reaching some major decisions about the future of Gucci in the process. The brand will now show just twice a year, presenting seasonless collections.

On 23 May, the Italian house released several entries from Michele’s personal diaries over the last few months – which hint at a radical shift in the way the creative director will approach the “fashion circus” he honoured in his spectacular autumn/winter 2020 collection. Chief among his preoccupations? Drastically increasing the sustainability credentials of the house – with the brand due to share more details of his plans during a virtual media conference on 25 May.

“Our reckless actions have burned the house we live in,” Michele writes in an entry titled “We Turned Out To Be So Small” from 29 March. “We conceived of ourselves as separated from nature, we felt cunning and almighty. We usurped nature, we dominated and wounded it. We incited Prometheus, and buried Pan. So much haughtiness made us lose our sisterhood with the butterflies, the flowers, the trees and the roots. So much outrageous greed made us lose the harmony and the care, the connection and the belonging. We ravaged the sanctity of life, neglectful of our being a species. At the end of the day, we were out of breath.”

As beautifully poetic as his language is, Michele’s more recent entries make clear that he has concrete solutions in mind for repairing the “devastation” caused by the industry in the past. (As he warns in a note from 7 April, “Our history is littered with crises that taught us nothing.”) In a series of posts from the beginning of May, he announces his decision to “build a new path, away from deadlines that the industry consolidated and, above all, away from an excessive performativity that today really has no raison d’être”.

In practical terms, that means overthrowing the traditional fashion schedule of “cruise, pre-fall, spring/summer, autumn/winter” collections: “I will abandon the worn-out ritual of seasonalities and shows to regain a new cadence, closer to my expressive call. We will meet just twice a year, to share the chapters of a new story.” It will be, he promises, a different “creative universe” for Gucci – and, no doubt, for fashion as a whole.

The CFDA & BFC Join A Chorus Of Industry Voices Calling For A Reset

Last week Dries Van Noten wrote an open letter to the fashion community, signed by peers including Joseph Altuzarra, Mary Katrantzou, and Marco Zanini. It was followed days later by a Business of Fashion initiative with many of the same designer signatories. Both documents cited the need for radical change. The Covid-19 pandemic has crystallised the many challenges facing the industry, from the outmoded runway show system to the interrelated problems of out of sync deliveries and profitability eroding markdowns. Even as the lockdowns begin to lift, the crisis’s impact is reverberating — see: Neiman Marcus’s bankruptcy, the closure of Jeffrey and Opening Ceremony stores, and the 800-plus designers and companies that have applied for the CFDA and Vogue’s A Common Thread grants.

Now, it’s the Council of Fashion Designers of America and the British Fashion Council’s turn to weigh in. The two organisations have issued a joint message to their respective members. Dubbed “The Fashion Industry’s Reset,” the letter covers similar ground, calling on the community to rethink the ways in which designers and brands do business and present collections. “We are united in our steadfast belief that the fashion system must change, and it must happen at every level,” it begins. What follows is a series of recommendations, starting with slowing down. “For a long time, there have been too many deliveries and too much merchandise generated. With existing inventory stacking up, designers and retailers must also look at the collections cycle and be very strategic about their products and how and when they intend to sell them.” That means “focus[ing] on no more than two main collections a year,” and shifting the delivery cadence of merchandise “closer to the season for which it is intended”.

On the subject of fashion shows, the CFDA and BFC emphasise the importance, once the pandemic is over, of showing “during the regular fashion calendar and in one of the global fashion capitals”. Doing so would “avoid the strain on buyers and journalists traveling constantly”. But today’s letter does not go as far as the Business of Fashion proposal, which strongly encourages see-now-buy-now shows, “as events primarily designed to engage customers... just before deliveries arrive in stores.” (It’s worth noting that a handful of designers experimented with the see-now-buy-now formula several years ago, but it was abandoned by all but Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger.)

Sustainability, which had been fashion’s cri de coeur in the months leading up to the coronavirus crisis, is another bullet point: “Through the creation of less product, with higher levels of creativity and quality, products will be valued and their shelf life will increase.” The CFDA and BFC letter is the latest indication that the industry is starting to rally around the idea of change, but there are major players, especially in Europe, that have not yet joined the chorus. Perhaps that doesn’t matter. The last time the fashion show schedule shifted in any significant and lasting way was when Helmut Lang moved his show from Paris to New York circa autumn 1998. A season later, all of New York was showing ahead of Europe, breaking decades of precedent. Now is the time for action, so who is 2020’s Helmut Lang?

Jacquemus’s New Campaign Star? His Granny

Move over, Bella Hadid. Simon Porte Jacquemus’s granny is the chic new face of his zeitgeisty brand. The French fashion designer cast his own grandmother, Liline, as the star of his latest series of lockdown campaign shots, and his new muse can now be seen on Instagram dressed variously in a crisp white suit with hot pink waterfall earrings, an olive green spaghetti strap dress, and one of her grandson’s signature straw hats.

In one of the shots, Liline sits at a cork table spread with dozens of Jacquemus’s viral Le Chiquito micro bags, while another shows her dressed in a Stabilo highlighter-pink suit, holding an armful of wicker totes. The designer’s statuesque grandmother also strikes a regal pose in a field wearing his green button-down dress as part of the latest #JacquemusAtHome series, which the designer has said is, “One of the most special story for me [sic].”

Jacquemus recently posted a trio of homemade videos shot from his sunny studio balcony, which includes a clip of an unknown model dancing naked but for the Le Chapeau Bomba straw hat and the Le Panier Soleil bag. Another shows Jacquemus’s signature Valensole raffia hat on a chair, a feathered fuchsia Le Petit Baci bag strewn next to it on the floor.

Jacquemus’s star-studded lockdown series has already seen Bella Hadid and Spanish singer Rosalía shoot homemade FaceTime campaigns for the brand, while the designer also enlisted the creator of the viral “brassant”, Nicole McLaughlin, to construct a bra from his Le Chiquito mini bags instead of her usual croissants. One thing is for sure: we’re all in love with Liline.

“A More Inventive Product”: Alessandro Michele Outlines Gucci’s Radical New Fashion Model

“I am no anarchist. I want to share my idea with others,” Alessandro Michele said on a video call from Rome on Monday afternoon (25 May). On the previous weekend, in a poignant lockdown diary, Michele had announced Gucci’s departure from the traditional show cycle in favour of a seasonless approach to collections. Embracing a post-pandemic appetite for “the essential”, Gucci is replacing its current structure of five separate women’s, men’s and cruise shows with just two annual presentations.

“I have designed a future for this company by also looking to the past. I’m convinced that moving forward also means going back to the origins of this wonderful industry,” Michele said, acknowledging that his new vision for the industry has a lot in common with its old structure, before there were pre- and capsule collection shows several times a year. “We will update it, but we will have to restore what we had in the past, and maybe show you a more inventive product. To do that we need more time.”

Gucci’s decision will no doubt impact the fashion landscape beyond the brand’s own borders. As an industry leader (with a global power base demonstrated by a revenue close to €10 billion, or £9 billion), a move like this could be interpreted as a blueprint for other brands to follow. Since Covid-19 hit Europe and America in March – making this summer’s cruise, men’s and haute couture shows impossible – many in fashion have been eyeing an opportunity to slow down and reform the industry’s incessant production cycle.

“We are a big brand, so we have a responsibility to take care of our industry. We need to give it the time that’s needed. The things we make have a longer life than what we have allotted to them in the past,” Michele said, backdropped by the carved, coffered ceilings of his Renaissance office in the Palazzo Alberini. “We all agree that fall and spring are the most appropriate [time frames] to show our work, but I hope that other brands will follow us so we can have an open dialogue to arrange new dates.”

In expressing his desire to reorganise the existing fashion week schedule through industry effort, Michele deflated rumours that Gucci will leave fashion week altogether. As for this September’s fashion weeks, still up in the air, he said Gucci wasn’t counting on presenting a collection. “I don’t think we will meet in person next time. We have been shut down for a long time so I don’t think we will have a regular calendar for September. I want to recover a new kind of time – real and practical – so we’ll choose another date.”

In recent weeks, a number of initiatives fronted by independent designers and fashion councils have proposed new season structures. But, until now, conglomerate-owned brands like Gucci, which comes under the umbrella of Kering, as well as the councils that control the all-important Paris and Milan fashion weeks have largely remained silent. In April, Saint Laurent, also owned by Kering, proclaimed its withdrawal from the unconfirmed Paris Fashion Week in September, disclosing that “the brand will lead its own rhythm” going forward.

Gucci’s news, however, marks the most momentous move made in fashion as a result of the coronavirus. Backed up by Michele’s manifesto-like lockdown diary (which is worth the read), it isn’t merely business but a philosophy for a new age of awareness in fashion. “I hope that the choices we do make will respect the actual timing of fashion and factories, and the people who work there,” he said on Monday. By reducing the industry’s output, Michele wants to increase the sustainability of the fashion we buy.

“I haven’t got enough space for myself here,” he smiled, gesturing at his princely surroundings. “There are clothes everywhere. They deserve love and care, and if they stay in our care for longer, that will be much better.” A seasonless structure is suitable for Michele’s vision, which evolves unhurriedly within a highly established creative universe he once called “Renaissance street style”. A gift to retail, it has created a Gucci shopping realm that already feels seasonless: a candy store of diverse product provided in a steady stream that rarely looks as if any particular piece belongs to one collection or the other.

In that sense, while it doesn’t necessarily serve as an ideal blueprint for brands that sell themselves on more radical shifts in direction every six months, Michele’s seasonless revolution is a perfect fit for Gucci. Many are united in the belief, however, that post-pandemic fashion will be about creating a more humane and sensible take on the traditional seasonal fashion cycle. Asked how he is going to meet the revenue of five annual collections with just two, Michele smiled: “Since I started working for Gucci I have always had this dialogue. I am looking forward to being surprised once more.”

For the 48-year-old designer, the current situation seems cathartic. He spent his life as an anonymous team designer until his 360-degree proposal for a new Gucci won him the promotion in 2015 and turned that life upside-down. In five astronomically successful years at the helm, Michele has become a fashion superstar, business visionary and retail wizard, with a relentless schedule to match his ever-increasing responsibilities. He has made no secret of the pressures that come with that kind of success.

In January, Gucci returned to individual men’s shows after seasons of co-ed presentations, effectively adding a show to Michele’s schedule. A month after, he staged a meta women’s show that brought the backstage area to the runway as an illustration of the nonstop fashion cycle he inhabits. “I asked myself, why am I repeating this ritual time and again? I’m exhausted after a fashion show. It’s really tiring,” he said at the time. “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.”

Michele’s words perfectly captured fashion’s ambivalent relationship with itself: a passionate and incessant hamster wheel of desire and ambition. With its new initiative – the practicalities of which will be decided through industry dialogue – Gucci sets out to humanise that wheel by halting it and restarting it, with more sustainable fuel, at a speed less furious. “I had time available I never had before,” a kaftan-clad Michele said of the lockdown, occasionally fanning himself with a large black fan. Now, he teased, “I feel like a horse ready to start a race.”

Exciting News For Louis Vuitton Bag Lovers

Hold on to your Speedies, Louis Vuitton’s handbag division is about to get a shake up. The French house has announced the appointment of ex-Mulberry creative director, Johnny Coca, as its women’s fashion leather goods director. The Spanish designer will begin his role working alongside womenswear creative director, Nicolas Ghesquière, on 2 June 2020.

It is not Coca’s first stint working in Louis Vuitton’s ateliers. After graduating from Beaux-Arts and the Boulle school of applied arts in Paris, he began his fashion career as a leather goods designer at the storied maison. “I am very pleased that [Coca] is joining me on this journey that started a few years ago,” Ghesquière said in a brand press release distributed on 26 May. “The team and I look forward to working with him in the inspiring world of Louis Vuitton.”

Executive vice president of Louis Vuitton, Delphine Arnault, praised her new hire for his “perfect unison with Louis Vuitton’s spirit”. “He will strengthen our creative energy and our ability to innovate,” she said. Coca’s ambition landed him the job at Mulberry in 2014, after he had climbed up the ladder at Céline under Phoebe Philo. He had a clear remit at the British heritage label, which had tried and failed to compete with hyper-luxury brands: reboot, before its signature Bayswater bag became obsolete. 

A new Mulberry logo, two new bag families – the Amberley and the Iris – and a buy-back and repair service for customers revived the sleepy label’s marketability. Runway extravaganzas – including a brief sojourn to Tokyo and Paris-based salon previews – and see-now, buy-now models also raised its profile as a serious player in the industry. Despite all this – plus significant growth in Asia – Mulberry reported losses of £11 million in November 2019. The brand and Coca parted ways in March 2020.

Coca is looking forward to his new chapter: “I am very honoured to return to this prestigious maison, a symbol of travel and an invitation to dream, where imagination meets innovation and the highest standards of excellence,” he said of his appointment. “It’s with great pride that I join Nicolas Ghesquière and the Louis Vuitton teams to further develop the women’s handbag collections. For me, the journey now has come full circle, to the place where I was lucky enough to hone my passion first-hand and learn the fundamentals of leather craftsmanship in the ateliers at Asnières.... an extraordinary laboratory that blends heritage and modernity.”

Which handbag will Coca turn his attention to first? Ghesquière repeatedly serves up surprising new bedfellows for the brand’s Twists, Neos and mini Dauphines – such as spring/summer 2020’s Video Tape clutch. But he’s not afraid of bringing back old classics, such as the Keepall, a vintage weekender style, which Mona Tougaard reintroduced on the autumn/winter 2020 runway. The period of experimentation will no doubt prove interesting to watch – particularly as fashion redefines itself in the aftermath of a global health crisis.

This New Beauty Brand Is The First To Accept Payments In Cryptocurrency

Inclusivity is at the forefront of many beauty industry conversations, with race, age and gender all hugely important (and long overdue) elements of brand strategies in the past few years. Nowadays, an extended foundation range simply doesn’t cut it – we want brands that have considered how all different types of people live their lives. In step Air Cosmetics, a make-up brand that not only addresses the lack of cosmetics for women of colour, but offers an inclusive way of paying for them.

The first beauty brand in the world to accept cryptocurrency, Air accepts Bitcoin, Ether and Multicoin to allow women around the world, who are “unbanked” (meaning they’re not in possession of a bank account) to purchase wherever they are and in whatever situation they find themselves in. With stats that show women influence 83 per cent of all consumer spending, it seems an obvious port of call for a brand that aims to cater to every woman – more than one billion women worldwide aren’t privy to a basic bank account (for reasons that span from legal prohibitions to financial abuse in both developed and underdeveloped countries) and therefore do not have the autonomy to spend. What they can do now is spend online using cryptocurrency. It’s arguably the most inclusive way to spend.

With an onus on being luxury yet equally affordable, Peter Alfred-Adekeye, the brand’s founder, wanted to create a cosmetics line that was available to all – whatever their price bracket. So instead of slapping one uniform price on each product as we’ve come to expect from our beauty buying, he has implemented algorithmic, location-based discounts so that each shopper is charged based on their location – something that typically says a lot about their financial status. Before such thinking, consumers paid the same price whether they were in an affluent London suburb or somewhere rural and far flung – accessibility, for Air Cosmetics, is the name of the game.

From a range of liquid and powder foundations to mascara, Alfred-Adekeye and his team have created an all-bases-covered make-up line. The real star of the show is the lipstick: Africa. Dubbed by the brand as the “world’s sexiest lipstick”, it’s a universally flattering shade of red that looks as good on pale as it does on dark skin tones. With carmine pigments, shea butter, vitamin E and antioxidants in the formula, it sits softly on skin without drying or pulling, plus the packaging is stamped with a reflective gold wax print, an African textile.

“We want the world to discover Africa through our brand,” Alfred-Adekeye said. “All of our products are named after an African landmark.” From the places to the people and the culture, the brand also offers a snippet of life in the continent, allowing those around the world who are finally able to buy online a chance to enjoy the beauty of another place.

Solange’s Agency Is Partnering With Parsons On A Virtual Festival For Fashion Students

With colleges closed and graduation ceremonies cancelled, the members of the class of 2020 have seen the last few months of their education disrupted in ways that no one could have imagined. Rather than going out with a bang, their academic careers are coming to a sputtering end. For graduating students at the Parsons’ School of Fashion however, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. The school announced it would be partnering with Solange Knowles and Saint Heron on Here and Now, an immersive virtual festival designed to celebrate the work of final-year students.

“When we realised that we weren’t going to be able to hold our festival in the way we typically would, we started to brainstorm around what we could do, not just for the students, but also for the fashion industry and the creative community,” said Jason Kass, interim dean of fashion at the Parsons School of Design. “Solange and the team at Saint Heron instantly came to mind.”

The singer has close ties with the school and was honoured at the Parsons annual gala in 2018. In classic Solange style, she showed up to the benefit dressed in a daring deconstructed jumpsuit by then-Parsons student Shanel Campbell. That eye for emerging fashion talent has been honed over several years. The canary-yellow confection she wore to the Met in 2016, for instance, was created by David LaPort, a little-known Dutch designer she stumbled across on Instagram.

More recently, Solange has expanded her creative vision beyond the world of style with performances that push the boundaries of fashion, music, and art – her appearance in Grace Wales Bonner’s Devotional Sound project last summer is a prime example. As such, Solange and her creative collective are well positioned to bring a radical new perspective to the idea of an online showcase. “As the world confronts the challenges of our current global crisis, fashion and design communities must embrace new ways to pause, evolve, and adapt,” read the statement issued by Saint Heron. “These challenges open up opportunities to expand growth in our creativity and innovation.”

As of now, full details on the festival have yet to be released. So far, the artist Jacobly Satterwhite, a one-time Saint Heron collaborator, has been confirmed to create a 3D installation or “virtual environment” called Meronymy, which will host the final projects of more than 300 graduating students. What was usually a weekend-long round of fashion events in the month of May, will now take place over the course of a few months, with a programme of online lectures, special performances, films screenings, design workshops, and mentorship sessions kicking off in July.

“In these past weeks, so much of the focus has been on what has been taken away or lost. Right now feels like a moment to come together around that,” says Kass. “We’re not seeing this as a consolation, but rather a new way of celebrating creativity.”

Max Mara’s Spring Collection Breathes New Life Into The Pastel Trend

For spring/summer 2020, creative director Ian Griffiths has given the Max Mara woman a taste for powerful pastel shades. In doing so, he has whipped up a recipe for sweet-but-not-saccharine utility wear for all appetites.

When Max Mara creative director Ian Griffiths was mapping out the Italian brand’s spring/summer 2020 collection, he happened to be watching a lot of television – particularly spy thrillers. Accordingly, the sharp suiting and military-flecked utility wear – which supers Gigi Hadid, Doutzen Kroes and Candice Swanepoel modelled on the runway – looked almost special agent-worthy. Griffiths created a wardrobe for a would-be taskforce of strong women, with one disarming caveat. His Max Mara gang had a predilection for pastels, as well as gun-metal greys, camels and khakis.

“Thrillers are a way that we explore what might be dark and dangerous through a prism that makes them glamorous and exciting – that’s what we all need,” Griffiths told British Vogue post-presentation, while also waxing lyrical about his love of characters conceived by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, which, for him, are a form of escapism.

Just like Killing Eve’s Villanelle, the Max Mara woman has a taste for powerful pastel shades. She’ll be wearing a full look of barely-there pastel pocket-heavy shirts, crisply tailored shorts, sheer knee-high socks and clippy court shoes by day. By night, sinuous bias cut evening dresses in sugary silks are her modas operandi. Who said pastels can’t be pretty tough? Griffiths’s sweet-but-in-no-way-saccharine power troupe are setting the marching orders this season. We’re enlisting, what about you?

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Giovanna Battaglia Engelbert Joins Swarovski As Creative Director

For the first time in its 125-year history, Swarovski is naming a company-wide creative director. Giovanna Battaglia Engelbert was appointed to the position today, reflective of a restructuring that sees Swarovski family members Robert Buchbauer (CEO), Nadja Swarovski, and Mathias Margreiter joining the executive board. “I have already been committed to the creative direction of Swarovski’s B2B division since 2016 and was focussing on the areas of ingredient branding, design, and content curation then,” Battaglia Engelbert told Vogue. “My new role is a natural evolution and now covers all creative aspects of Swarovski as a whole.”

Born in Milan, Battaglia Engelbert started her career in fashion as a model — you can find her on Dolce & Gabbana catwalks in the early noughties — before launching into styling and editing. Her editorial work and personal style, which made her an international street style star, are marked by their joie de vivre, with bright colours, bold prints, and a clever mix of silhouettes. It’s not difficult to imagine one of fashion’s most exuberant figures finding kinship in the glimmer of crystal. “I just love the material — I love crystal!” she says. “Swarovski, to me, is a platform to express creativity in a very cross-disciplinary way. I have a passion for the joyful Embellishment of Life [brand message], which ultimately is what Swarovski crystal is all about—whether it is around your neck, in your home, or in your spirit.”

Fashion, jewellery, and accessories are natural categories for Battaglia Engelbert to focus on, but the creative director will be overseeing all of the Austrian company’s endeavours, from chandeliers to stemware. There, she emphasises the importance of craft as what will guide her strategy: “There are incredible people making magic happen. It was mind-blowing for me to deep-dive into the craftsmanship and incredible competencies Swarovski holds. I’m very happy that I have been given the magic wand now.”

The brand has for many years been tied to luxury fashion through its crystal embellishments; last season it collaborated with such labels as Missoni, Koché, Christopher John Rogers, and Khaite. The brand was also a longtime sponsor of the CFDA Awards until 2019 and currently sponsors the Fashion Awards in London. “As part of a new overall vision and growth strategy of the company, I have already started crafting a new creative vision for Swarovski,” Battaglia Engelbert says. “We are set to enter a new era and will reveal more in the collection for spring/summer 2021. I am proud to be part of shaping the future of Swarovski together with so many brilliant minds.”

Inside The Definitive New Book On Yves Saint Laurent

Yves Saint Laurent: The Impossible Collection explores the couturier’s forty-year oeuvre through 100 seminal pieces, from the Mondrian dress to Le Smoking tuxedo. The latest addition to publishing house Assouline’s ‘Impossible’ collection – a series of books on design, culture and luxury whereby each volume is entirely hand-crafted and comes with its own display box and curatorial pair of white gloves – is a tome celebrating the legacy of the French-Algerian couturier, Yves Saint Laurent. Titled Yves Saint Laurent: The Impossible Collection, it follows the release, late last year, of Assouline’s Chanel: The Impossible Collection, which charted 100 of Coco Chanel’s most enduring designs, written by AnOther Magazine’s fashion features director, Alexander Fury.

“Chanel offered women freedom, Yves Saint Laurent gave them power,” Pierre Bergé, Saint Laurent’s longtime partner in life and business, is quoted as saying in the book’s introduction by the author Laurence Benaïm (the journalist and writer has previously published several other books on Saint Laurent, as well on Christian Dior, where the couturier worked prior to beginning his eponymous house). Charting the 100 pieces which define Saint Laurent’s career, Benaïm pays testament to a couturier with “the freedom to stand up for one’s beliefs, to show one’s true self by defying taboos, living brilliantly and passionately, and breaking all the rules”.

It also celebrates the liberatory power of his collections, particularly those pieces which revolutionised the way women dressed – like the pinstriped suit, the Saharienne safari jacket and, most famously, Le Smoking tuxedo, once the reserve only of men – which continue to hang in wardrobes even today. “To serve women’s bodies, their gestures, their attitude, their lives. I wanted to be part of the women’s liberation movement of the past century,” he said towards the end of his career, in 2002.

Other pieces in the unique volume, which span his first collection in January 1962 following his departure from Dior to his final couture presentation in 2002, include the Mondrian shift dress – perhaps the first art-fashion crossover – costumes from Belle du Jour, in which he dressed his lifelong muse the actress Catherine Deneuve, the Ballet Russes collection, his coup de crayon gowns, as well as an exploration of the designer’s use of jewel tones, velvet, lace, and leopard print.

“Saint Laurent was the first designer to express his affection for women not as a father but like a lover to whom they could give themselves completely,” writes Benaïm. “It seems impossible to imagine a world without Saint Laurent, without his signature vocabulary, his liberated classic styles with their effortless fluidity of movement.”Yves Saint Laurent: The Impossible Collection, published by Assouline, is out now.

Luxury Industry Not Expected to Recover From Coronavirus Until 2022

As CNBC points out, Bain & Company has issued its latest luxury report, dubbed “Bain & Company Luxury Study 2020 Spring Update.” Published in partnership with Altagamma a foundation that represents Italian luxury manufacturers, the findings illustrate the long term effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Luxury conglomerates and retailers alike have taken the effects of the disease’s global spread on the chin. Bain estimated that luxury sales took a combined nosedive of 25 percent in Q1 2020 and expects sales to dip further by year’s end, dropping as much as 35 percent lower than 2019. The study expects year-end sales to hover around €180 billion EUR to €220 billion EUR (approximately $195 billion USD to $239 billion USD).

“There will be a recovery for the luxury market but the industry will be profoundly transformed,” said Claudia D’Arpizio, one of Bain’s partners and the study’s lead author. “The coronavirus crisis will force the industry to think more creatively and innovate even faster to meet a host of new consumer demands and channel constraints.”

Though the year began with strong sales across mainlaind China, Europe and America, global lockdowns smothered tourism, a key factor in luxury sales, effectively displacing the year’s initially positive expectations (this held true for sportswear brands as well). Furthermore, Bain & Company expects a substantial recovery time for the luxury industry, positing that 2019 sales levels won’t be reached until 2022 or even 2023, thereafter growth will gradually resume.

The study cautions that expectations are based on a host of factors, ranging from brands’ ability to anticipate consumer needs, economic trends, tourism and more. One element that Bain is particularly confident in is Chinese consumers’ hunger for luxury items — the consultancy expects that market to account for nearly 50 percent of luxury purchases by 2025, up from 35 percent in 2019. Of course, the luxury market isn’t alone in shouldering the burden of the coronavirus pandemic: fast fashion retailers are also feeling the sting.

More Sign Letter Demanding Change To The Fashion Calendar

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the fashion industry hard – however in amongst all of the uncertainty, there is a movement to affect positive change on the industry’s future. With stores shuttered and fashion weeks cancelled and going digital, this time of quarantine has given designers a chance to reflect on the traditional fashion calendar and a cohort of some of Canada and the world’s top brands has decided that things need to change – immediately.

In an open letter to the fashion industry, a group of designers and brand executives from the likes of Erdem, Holt Renfrew, Burberry, Mary Katrantzou, Carolina Herrera, Altuzarra, Proenza Schouler and Tory Burch, have proposed a new schedule that is not only kinder to the environment but allows brands to more accurately cater to their customers’ lifestyles. The letter begins by saying, “We agreed that the current environment although challenging, presents an opportunity for a fundamental and welcome change that will simplify our businesses, making them more environmentally and socially sustainable and ultimately align them more closely with the customers’ needs.”

It continues, “We hope to achieve this by adjusting the seasonality and flow of both womenswear and menswear goods, starting with the Autumn/Winter 2020 season.” The letter then outlines three ways in which they would like to see the schedule/old order of business change. “Put the Autumn/Winter season back in winter (August/January) and Spring/Summer season back in summer (February/July), create a more balanced flow of deliveries through the season to provide newness but also time for products to create desire, [and] discount at the end of the season in order to allow for more full-price selling – January for Autumn/Winter and July for Spring/Summer.”

The brands also outlined five ways in which to “increase sustainability throughout the supply chain and sales calendar” including “less unnecessary product, less waste in fabrics and inventory, less travel, make use of digital showrooms in addition to personal creative interactions [and] review and adapt fashion shows.” The letter finishes by saying, “Working together, we hope these steps will allow our industry to become more responsible for our impact on our customers, on the planet and on the fashion community, and bring back the magic and creativity that has made fashion such an important part of our world.”

Vogue And The CFDA Set Up Shop On Amazon

 Amazon is taking a Vogue-sanctioned step into designer fashion. The online retailer is setting up a shop with the American magazine and the Council of Fashion Designers of America that will sell items from 20 independent designers, including Phillip Lim 3.1, Derek Lam and Tabitha Simmons. The e-commerce hub will be branded Common Threads, referencing Vogue and the CFDA’s A Common Thread fund, set up to help designers struggling amid the pandemic.

It will be merchandised by Vogue and Amazon's fashion division, which also donated $500,000 to the fund. The hope is that struggling designers can benefit from Amazon’s success during the pandemic. The crisis has slashed fashion shopping, with analysts saying luxury spending is down by one-third or more.

But Amazon’s reported sales shot up $15 billion year-over-year in the most recent quarter. However, those gains have mostly come from shoppers stocking up on essential goods. Though Amazon is one of the world’s biggest apparel retailers, it’s better known to consumers as a place to stock up on cheap basics rather than designer dresses.

The new shop includes a mix of brands that already sell on Amazon through its fashion subsidiary Shopbop, including Lim and Victor Glemaud, as well as some, including Batsheva and Alejandra Alonso Rojas, that weren’t previously available on the platform.

“This is such a big opportunity for a type of exposure that a small New York City, made in the USA kind of brand doesn’t really have,” said Batsheva Hay, whose brand is known for its patterned, vintage-inspired dresses.

While the entire fashion industry is struggling as a result of the global lockdown, independent designers, who operate on razor-thin margins and rely on multi-brand retailers like department stores and e-commerce sites to sell their wares, have been hit particularly hard. Many are awaiting overdue payments from wholesale partners, or are stuck with extra inventory. Some didn’t have e-commerce operations of their own before the pandemic and haven’t been able to pivot in the middle of a crisis.

A Common Thread, which Vogue launched with the CFDA on March 24, has raised $4.3 million to date, according to CFDA President and Chief Executive Officer Steven Kolb. The first round of money will begin to be distributed to designers at the end of May, with a second round planned in mid-June, said Kolb.

The British Fashion Council in the UK and other regional trade groups are also raising money to support the industry’s smallest players. “It has been like steering a boat into a tsunami,” said Glemaud, whose namesake brand offers casual attire under $1,000. He said that, before the pandemic, he and his small team didn’t have time to design a collection and “sell it and market it and run it on a website all at the same time.”

Designers selling on the platform can set their own prices. They pay Amazon a referral fee to be a part of the shop and pay an additional fee if they opt to have Amazon handle the shipping. Vogue and Amazon will advertise the shop on their websites and social media channels.

Amazon has been trying for years to become a luxury fashion destination. Despite its massive reach and logistics network, the marketplace’s utilitarian aesthetics and the presence of knock-offs turned off many brands. Amazon is reportedly working on a new luxury platform, but luxury leaders like LVMH’s Chief Executive Officer and Chairman Bernard Arnault are staunchly against selling on the platform.

“Amazon wasn’t something that people would tell you to do if you’re a small designer,” said Hay. “I love the idea of direct to consumer and I’m trying very much to expand that, but it’s not easy.” The Common Threads shop could serve as a proof of concept that convinces other designers to consider Amazon as a point of sale coming out of the pandemic, which will likely force multi-brand fashion stores to consolidate. Neiman Marcus, for example, filed for bankruptcy in early May.

Meanwhile, the CFDA’s Kolb said the online store's namesake fund is talking to donors about additional funding rounds beyond June. “Does this become something more permanent in 2021?” he said. “We haven’t even spent that much time considering it because we have been so focused on the triage.”

With economists predicting a slow recovery, the trade organisation will likely need to find more ways to support challenged designers in the coming months. “While there isn’t one simple fix for our industry, which has been hit so hard, I believe this is an important step in the right direction,” said Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour in an e-mail.

How One Artist Is Using Tarot To Immortalize The Colourful Characters Of Tbilisi’s Fashion Scene

What looks like an ordinary deck of cards at first glance, is far more weird and wonderful. The brainchild of Georgian creative David Apakidze, The Last Tarot casts the eccentric personalities of Tbilisi’s fashion scene as characters in the major arcana. Look closely and you’ll find that all the familiar esoteric archetypes—the Empress, the Magician, the Lover, and such—are all decked out in fabulous clothes by local designers.

With his body engulfed by flames, the lanky model Matt Shally is unmistakable as “The Devil” in a red latex jacket by the buzzy designer Levau Shvelidze. Known for an outré look that includes doll parts as embellishments, street style favorite and designer Nini Goderidze is depicted as “The High Priestess.” “[She] is an introvert who always studies her personal world,” explains Apakidze of Goderidze who is illustrated wearing one of her own pale peach latex designs and perched on a crescent moon. Apakidze himself plays the “The Fool” in a short blue turtleneck dress by Aka Prodiashvili.

Apakidze’s interest in tarot started as a young child though because he grew up in a religious family, he was banned from practicing it. Eventually, when he left home, he began to explore tarot and, and currently teaches classes online with a friend. As he points out, traditionally the tarot deck has been evenly split between male and female energy. 

With the Last Tarot, he’s hoping to challenge that binary approach. “Tarot decks reinforce the stereotype that man is active and powerful, and woman is passive, emotional, and mystical,’” says Apakidze who worked with artist Gvantsa Jishkariani and photographer Nata Sopromadze to bring his idea to life. “I wanted to show that tarot is not like this anymore.

In the absence of fashion week in Tbilisi which was canceled earlier this month due to the pandemic, the Last Tarot is a bright spot in a difficult moment for the city’s burgeoning creative scene. “All designers used in the the tarot deck are ones who speak to us, along with their messages—queer designers who are not afraid to take risks,” says Apakidze who is currently working on a thesis about queer designers in Georgia and bartends at Success bar, one of the few safe spaces in the city for the LGBTQ community. “

And with no fashion week and in a frozen world, it’s so important for small brands from small countries to have visibility. And the same goes for queer culture. Step by step, we will change people’s minds to become more progressive.”

Pyer Moss Announces Plans For A Drive-In New York Fashion Week Event

The future of the fashion show, at least as we know it, seems increasingly uncertain. Amid the global pandemic, fashion weeks around the world have moved to digital-only format, starting with the men’s shows that were scheduled to kick off next month in Milan, Paris, and London. Whether this trend will continue into the fall remains unclear. Saint Laurent is the first major brand to announce it would be moving off the 2020 schedule entirely, and it’s likely that others will follow suit.

Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss is proposing an alternative to a virtual experience that is primed for the age of social distancing: a drive-in fashion happening. Set to take place during New York Fashion Week this September, the event will play host to a premiere of American, Also, a feature film documenting the two years leading up to the boundary-pushing Pyer Moss spectacular that took place last September at Kings Theatre in Flatbush, Brooklyn. A trailer for the forthcoming film was uploaded to the designer’s personal Instagram account earlier this month. In it, behind-the-scenes footage from the show at the historic New York landmark is spliced with archival clips of the neighbourhood as the designer narrates. “So many of us, when we get opportunities and huge platforms, the first thing we do is leave,” says Jean-Raymond over a soundtrack of choral music. “Slowly but surely, I’ve been finding my way back… now we’re finally home.”

The New York premiere will be followed by a series of drive-in screenings in multiple cities across the country, exact details for which are to be released later this summer. Though Jean-Raymond is not planning to show a new collection, there will be a drop of clothing to coincide with the event. As with previous Pyer Moss events, the guest-list will be a combination of invited press and friends of the brand, with a percentage of tickets available to the public.

“It’s always been our mission to show the amount of thinking and labouring that goes behind putting together a collection — we’ve been slowing down the speed of how much we produce and improving the quality of what we produce throughout the years,” said Jean-Raymond via email. “This film aims to show the love and care our entire company puts into every single moment we create and will show that we appreciate fashion as an art form and communication tool that we’ve used to embolden a community around us.”

With only a soft blueprint in place for the re-opening of New York City, the fate of fashion week still hangs in the balance. Regardless of what governmental measures will be in place at the time, the logistics of Jean-Raymond’s concept will be complicated to say the least, starting with the location. Save for one much-buzzed-about diner-turned-movie theatre in Queens, there are no drive-in venues in the city. And that’s not to mention the issue of transportation. That said, Jean-Raymond has always been the kind of designer to think big. With an audience of 3,000 and a choir of 70-plus voices, his last show set a new precedent for fashion experiences, one that reverberated on social media channels for weeks after. If Jean-Raymond can pull this off, he’ll be leading the way at a time when the fashion world is in desperate need of solutions.

Dior Shares Free Online Ballet Lessons To Get Us Pirouetting Through Lockdown

Dior has posted virtual dance tutorials designed to “awaken senses lulled by lockdown”. The mesmerising ballet lessons and movement workshops are led by principal dancers and choreographers from Paris Opera Ballet and Teatro dell’Opera di Roma. “Take advantage of this opportunity to learn how to feel and respond to the music, how to improvise and to perfect some key positions,” urges the French house, which has deep roots in the performative art form.

Monsieur Dior treasured the “hypnotic discipline” and, in addition to finding inspiration for Dior designs within dance, costumed the Roland Petit ballet Treize Danses during his lifetime. Current creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri has continued this special relationship and, last year, designed the utopian costumes for the Nuit Blanche ballet at the Rome Opera House. The poetic production went on to open the Dior spring/summer 2020 show in Shanghai.

Dior’s three new online masterclasses are divided into two parts, starting with a warm-up “that corresponds to what we call the bar for a classical ballet dancer”, explains professional dancer and friend of the house, Sébastien Bertaud. And then, a second section of guided improvisation, “meaning we’ll give you a few suggestions to really make the most of this time.” Bertaud assures tentative movers that the foundation-level postures can be finessed by holding onto a chair or table in lieu of classic studio equipment. As for pointe pumps and tutus to plié and pirouette in? Leggings and socks will suffice.

The intimate lessons are not the only virtual gesture Dior has made to connect with consumers during the Covid-19 pandemic. The house uploaded a video tour of its magnificent Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition to YouTube, so that viewers can immerse themselves in the brand history from the comfort of their own homes. “Fashion is not an image, it’s an experience,” Chiuri told British Vogue during a preview of the V&A’s version of the landmark Musée des Arts Décoratifs exhibit. “We’re all different, we all have different styles, but Dior is a place where all women can find a place.”

Everyone’s Favourite Designer Car Boot Sale Is Going Virtual

When it came to organising the now annual Car Boot Sale in aid of Women For Women International, a global pandemic did nothing to discourage Alex Eagle. Granted, she wasn’t able to gather her friends and family in a Soho car park to set up shop, but she could still mobilise them to delve deep into their wardrobes, pull a selection to donate, and host the whole thing virtually.

“This is the fifth year in a row that we have done the car boot sale,” says Eagle, who is creative director of The Store X and Alex Eagle Studio. “It was heartbreaking to me to think of having to miss a year. People rely on the money we raise, and I just couldn’t face the idea of not being able to help.” All funds raised (£700,000, to date) go directly to help women survivors of conflict and their families, many of whom are on the frontlines of the Covid-19 response in the countries where Women for Women International operates.

“During lockdown I feel like we are all craving an event – away from Zoom! – and while we can’t physically all be together we can come together for this. There is a real feeling of community right now, of people wanting to help one another, which became clear as soon as I started telling people about the Virtual Car Boot Sale,” Eagle continues. “Everyone wanted to donate, and they have all been so generous.”

Unlike previous years, where you might have had to rummage to unearth prize finds, this year is a much more edited offering (though the sale still comprises some 300 items). To whet your appetite: Ruth Chapman is donating a Celine bag, Louise Trotter is giving away her beloved Junya Watanabe jeans, Veronika Heilbrunner is putting her Louis Vuitton sneakers and Miu Miu bag up for sale, and Laura Bailey is offering her Victoria Beckham coat, Shrimps faux fur jacket and a pair of Stella McCartney trainers. Brands are also offloading, from Matchesfashion.com and The Outnet to Chinti & Parker, Jimmy Choo, Charlotte Tilbury Beauty, 111SKIN, and Frame.

There are Chanel handbags, too, and Manolo Blahnik heels. Unsurprisingly, one of the most coveted pieces has been donated by Alex herself: a leopard print coat by Daniel Lee for Bottega Veneta. “I love it, but I just thought, I can live without it,” she sighs. “I hope that it makes someone really happy to have it, and I know the money raised from it will be life-changing to someone, somewhere. What’s better than that? It’s a win-win.”

The Virtual Car Boot Sale will go live at 11am on 16 May across Instagram at @womenforwomenuk. Visit www.womenforwomen.org.uk/virtualcarbootsale to sign up for exclusive product previews and a first-look at the full catalogue of items ahead of the launch.

Vetements Launches A Provocative New Instagram Account

As we settle into indoor life, we’re leaving our clothing behind. Pants are optional for Zoom meetings. Bras are optional always. Shoes — who needs them? Our current state of undress goes hand-in-hand with the rise of at-home sex work and the uptick in porn viewing. We’re all totally nude, totally horny, and totally alone — and you can bet Vetements is prepared for this new way of life. Led by Guram Gvasalia, the brand has always acted as a sort of fun house mirror held up to our world, using celebrity doppelgängers and its runways to turn garments as basic as socks into evocative political statements. Its new, very well-timed project is an almost X-rated Instagram called @vetements_uncensored.

The account is set to private and began accepting requests last week. Those first followers saw an empty Instagram feed and the bio: “What you are about to witness will disturb you. Even shock you. There is a dark side of humanity the censors won’t let you see … but we will.” That slogan was printed on the opening look of the brand’s autumn/winter 2019 collection, but what has begun to populate Vetements’s new feed is mostly about current-season product.

Much like the brand’s main account, @vetements_official, this one seems to be reposting user submissions — the difference is the users featured in these are all partially nude. The first image is of a woman, naked save for a Vetements bomber. The next features no garments, just a topless woman in a balaclava. So far those are the only two posts, though the account has approved almost 60,000 followers in just a couple of days.

Vogue is still waiting to hear back from Vetements with a comment. Why so few pictures? Why only boobs? Can we expect live content? Stories? Shopping? Whatever the answers, @vetements_uncensored has already been tagged in thousands of images of people wearing Vetements products. We’d call that a success.

The BFC Unveils £1 Million Lifeline For Young Designers

The British Fashion Council has unveiled the recipients of its inaugural BFC Foundation Fashion Fund, established to support fashion businesses and independent designers affected by the coronavirus crisis. Bianca Saunders, Ahluwalia and the 2020 Woolmark Prize winner Richard Malone are among 37 British labels set to receive financial and mentoring support from the BFC’s new program, along with Bethany Williams, Phoebe English and Richard Quinn, all of whom have been making masks and gowns for the NHS during the pandemic. A portion of the £1million emergency fund will also be allocated to students, to support the next generation of British design talent.

The sum has been pooled together from a selection of BFC talent grants that would ordinarily have been awarded separately to designers in the early stages of their business, or applicants seeking assistance with growth and promotion. Those chosen will be entitled to a cash injection up to a maximum of £50,000, and get access to the BFC’s Fashion Business Network, which includes Eco-Age, Farfetch, Google, Instagram, LVMH and YouTube among many more.

Rosh Mahtani of jewellery brand Alighieri, the winner of the 2020 Queen Elizabeth II Award for Design and one of six designers sharing this year’s Vogue Designer Fashion Fund prize, is also among the beneficiaries, as are her fellow Vogue Designer Fashion Fund winners, Charles Jeffrey, David Koma, Halpern, Metier and Rejina Pyo. 16Arlington, Aries, Art School, Chalayan, Chopova Lowena, Craig Green, E. Tautz, E.L.V. Denim, Edeline Lee, Eftychia, King & Tuckfield, Kwaidan Editions, Liam Hodges, Matty Bovan, Nabil Nayal, Neous, Nicholas Daley, Palmer Harding, Paper London, Paria Farzaneh, Per Götesson, Raeburn, Roksanda, Stefan Cooke and Toogood are the other businesses being supported using the first wave of the fund.

While the £1million initial fund is a promising start, the BFC estimates that a further £100million will be needed to support future talent in the coming years. Applications will reopen each time the fund is topped up to £500,000, to ensure support can be wide-reaching. Donations from Alexander McQueen, Browns, Clearpay and Coach Foundation will be put towards the next instalment of funding.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Animal Testing In Beauty May Finally Be Coming To An End

It was hailed by animal rights organisations all over the world as one of the most exciting developments in recent years. A change in cosmetics regulations in China, announced at the end of 2019 by the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, implied that before April 2020, animal testing might come to an end. The ban had been a long time coming. Then, along came Covid-19 – and animal testing was pushed off the top of the priority list.

“It’s been a journey,” concedes Julia Fentem, vice president of product safety and environment at Unilever, who has been working on the project with the Chinese for nearly 10 years. “In 2011, we started bringing together the Chinese scientists and regulators with some of the leading US thinkers in the Unilever laboratories in Shanghai. At that time, we already had 20 years of history developing non-animal methods of testing, but for Chinese scientists this was new. As a scientist it’s easy to find common ground with other scientists, but sometimes working with officials was harder.”

The conversation was then opened up to the British government and other brands such as Boots, the Body Shop and Lush. The EU became involved and subsequently included key European brands L'Oréal and P&G, with similar movements from commercial interests in the US steered by brands such as Estée Lauder. “We needed the government to government conversations, ” says Fentem, “and the UK Department of International Trade has been particularly strong on this, helping us to build trust and collaborations in the laboratories to create a scientific community in China.”

Let’s recap the testing process: typically, a beauty product is tested before reaching our bathroom shelves so that a consumer knows it’s safe for them to use. Originally, those tests were carried out on animals. To test a cosmetic or moisturiser for skin irritation, for example, a rabbit or guinea pig would have its back shaved, and then be injected with the product. Occasionally the animals would have material injected into their eyes. Scientists would then observe how the animal’s skin responded – was it just red? Or were there blisters? Thankfully, significant breakthroughs were made in the 1990s with the growth of human tissue in petri dishes circumnavigating the need for animals. These processes were banned in the UK in 1998 and in the EU in 2013.

Not only was human tissue testing more ethically sound, it was also more effective. With that in mind, what has taken the Chinese authorities so long to adopt the newer methods? “The scientific community in China is very pro new technology,” says Fentem. “But if you’re a government official you have a huge responsibility for millions and millions of consumers, and that inhibits change. To find something that adequately protects your community, or that might not be understood properly, is a huge duty. It almost takes a crisis like the one we're in at the moment to make people take risks.”

The good news is, while it might have been delayed because of the pandemic, it looks like the new legislation is back on track. “Given Covid and what’s happened, they haven’t been able to do much for the last few months, but this hasn’t slowed things down.” What does this mean in reality? In China, beauty products are classified in two separate groups: non-special (moisturisers, make-up, and items like shampoos) and special (anything with an additional, more scientific function like sunscreen and hair dye). While imported special products will still require animal testing, the new legislation will mean that imported non-special products won’t need to be tested on animals, in line with the regulations for Chinese-made non-special beauty items.

For the beauty business as a whole, given the enthusiasm amongst Chinese consumers for international cosmetics and skincare brands, it will potentially open up a market forecast to reach £51.3 billion this year. And for animals, it will mean the beginning of an end to the pointless and unnecessary suffering they have endured for far too long. “There has been fantastic progress on product safety,” says Fentem, who is finally hopeful for resolution, “so I’m expecting soon - in the next few weeks - that the overarching regulations will be released.”

Why Brands Are Revisiting Old Advertising Campaigns

Two Sundays ago, The New York Times came with a curious Louis Vuitton advertisement. Not a new campaign, but a reprint of a campaign shot in Tibet back in 1998 by photographer Jean Larivière, featuring children wearing monogrammed backpacks and astronaut helmets that looked strangely pandemic-friendly.

Again, in this Sunday’s New York Times was another Larivière-lensed Vuitton campaign, this one shot back in 1997 on Inle Lake in Myanmar. The French label has also taken to Instagram to post images from old campaigns, shot by the likes of Annie Leibovitz, Carter Smith and Peter Lindbergh. Many of the images tap into our longing for travel, one of Vuitton’s core brand attributes, which lockdown measures have put out of reach.

But while its focus on travel is unique, Louis Vuitton isn’t alone in mining its archives. As the pandemic keeps many fashion creatives homebound, several major luxury brands are taking trips down memory lane and republishing old campaigns.

A recent series on Saint Laurent’s Instagram account featured images shot over the past five years by the likes of Collier Schorr and Inez & Vinoodh. Versace, no stranger to nostalgia, has also been using its Instagram to showcase a series of campaigns shot by Richard Avedon in 1995, 1996 and 1997 featuring Claudia Schiffer and Naomi Campbell. Burberry, too, has posted advertising from decades past to social media in recent weeks, as part of a ramp-up of the brand’s #BurberryHeritage campaign.

Recycling old campaigns is an interesting strategy at a time when social media’s penchant for tapping into our collective nostalgia has given rise to highly popular Instagram accounts celebrating fashion from the 1970s, 80s and 90s — like @90sanxiety and @velvetcoke — and social distancing measures, along with tightening marketing budgets, have made it harder for some labels to shoot new campaigns the way they once did.

Brands were reluctant to speak, but Donatella Versace addressed the phenomenon. “In the past years, people have shown great interest about the history of Versace,” she said in a statement. “We thought that [by running archival images on our Instagram account] we could give them a sort of escape from reality, respecting at the same time the fact that we could not shoot ad hoc content in any case and that the moment was — is — a unique one.”

Licensing agents who have access to unpublished shoots that were cut by publications (or were produced on spec by photographers) have become crucial collaborators for brands — as well as media titles — providing imagery that’s safer and cheaper than commissioning original content.

Trunk Archive — an image licensing agency that represents fashion photographers like Ethan James Green, Nadine Ijewere and Nick Knight and works with brands including Chanel and Dior and magazines such as Vogue and Elle — has seen an increase of 50 to 60 percent in requests to license unpublished work over the past two months.

“These brands are continuing to sell their goods and they need to find a way to market themselves,” said Trunk Archive’s Executive Vice President Leslie Simitch. “They can't create what they normally do.” As a result, brands and magazine photo editors have more openly shared briefs with licensing agents. In most cases, they use the images as they are. But some ask creatives to adapt the images to better suit their specifications.

Mark Fina, chief creative officer of creative agency Air Paris, has been revamping licensed images by adding CGI effects and motion graphics using Photoshop, Premiere Pro and 3D modelling software to animate the content. “The clients are really happy because we haven't missed a beat,” said Fina. “We're still on really aggressive timelines and we're meeting those deadlines, which is very important.”

Creatives locked at home, many of whom are struggling to find paid work, are also benefiting from the surge in requests to license old content. “It's not like you make the same amount of money selling an image as you would actually shooting the campaign,” said fashion photographer Pamela Hanson, who has seen an increased demand in old work over the past few weeks. “But it's better than nothing.”

While photographers and models may reap some reward from the images they sell, for hairstylists and makeup artists, who don’t have the rights to the images they help create, compensation for licensed photographs is often minimal, if anything at all. As markets across the world brace for a deep recession, putting further pressure on budgets, the uptick in the sourcing of imagery from archives and licensing agencies will likely continue well beyond the current lockdowns.

“I think the clients have seen what we're able to do,” said Fina. “And we'll continue to ask ourselves: is there another way to spin what is already available?” We’re tracking the latest on the coronavirus outbreak and its impact on the global fashion business. Visit our live blog for everything you need to know.