Sunday, February 28, 2021

Photographer Releases 'Ken Doll' Photo Series Depicting Modern Life For Gay Men

One New Jersey-based photographer has unveiled a photo series reimagining the Ken doll as various modern-day gay stereotypes, including a beauty blogger, a drag queen, and a Disney prince.

Taking inspiration not only from Ken dolls but also the face-smoothing filters that people are so obsessed with currently, the subjects featured within the project have their skin smoothed over to give a plastic effect and, much like the real dolls, even have their nipples removed. Completing the look, each model has black lines around his neck and arms, signifying where the plastic dolls would have their limbs constructed.

Speaking on the project, photographer Courtney Charles said: "With the 'Ken' series, I hope to show that there isn’t just one common ideal of the modern man. Regardless of who you are, you can still be the 'plastic-perfect' version of yourself."

Unlike the original dolls, Charles’ series features models of all races and builds. It’s simply part of his aim to break down stereotypes and illustrate how fluid ideologies of men continues to be in 2018: “Much of my work strives to shift people’s perceptions of gender, sexuality, and social norms by showing that being different is beautiful."

Charles is hosting a live Ken event in New York City this Saturday, entitled "The Modern Ken" and featuring a cast of life-size Ken doll models. The event is in conjunction with Christos Bakalexis, founder of Match Bak Entertainment, who serves as executive producer of the occasion.

LVMH-Backed Private Equity Firm Buys Birkenstock

After news of a potential takeover emerged earlier this year, Birkenstock has found a new owner. The previously family-owned business has been bought by L Catterton, a private equity firm backed by Bernard Arnault and LVMH (PARIS:MC.PA -1.13%) . The deal is believed to be worth around €4 billion EUR (approximately $4.8 billion USD) and will see owners Christian and Alex Birkenstock maintain a minority stake.

L Catterton — which was formed when LVMH and the Arnault family holding company partnered with Catterton in 2016 — will own the company alongside Financière Agache, Arnault’s family office. Previously L Catterton had invested in a wide range of companies such as Everlane and Peloton.

Announcing the deal, Birkenstock Chief Executive Oliver Reichert described L Catterton and Financière Agache as “not just shareholders, but also partners for achieving our global growth ambitions. They have a great deal of knowhow and excellent access to international markets.” L Catterton will pursue new growth for Birkenstock, including expansion in China and India, and a new focus on ecommerce and direct-to-consumer sales. Birkenstock is believed to have recorded a record year in 2020, partly bolstered by its footwear becoming the work from home shoes of choice.

Bruno Mars’s First Clothing Line Channels His Alter Ego

Bruno Mars—who once famously sang, “Got Chucks on with Saint Laurent”—says fashion brands have been knocking on his door to collaborate for years. But it’s Lacoste creative director Louise Trotter who finally broke him down and sealed the deal. “Louise called me and begged me,” jokes Mars, adding that he was actually a big fan of Lacoste growing up. “Going to school, if you had that crocodile on your chest, that meant something,” he says. When Lacoste said Mars could design whatever he wanted, he was instantly on board. His new line debuts March 5.

When the singer sat down to actually work on the collaboration about a year ago, Mars began adopting an alter ego to help him think like a designer. He dreamed up Ricky Regal, an extremely fashion-forward man with an eye for design. The line, titled Lacoste x Ricky Regal, now serves as a representation of what Mars thinks this elevated version of himself would wear. “It’s been great to get to know both Bruno and Ricky; I don’t know who I know better actually,” says Trotter, while Mars adds, “I wanted it to feel like, whoever that person is wearing it, they’re the coolest guy at the party. They’re not trying too hard. It just flows and feels right.”

Mars recalls beginning the design process. He got the Lacoste creative team together for a formal PowerPoint presentation. “I couldn’t find a laser pointer, so I used a drumstick and pointed to the different colors and shapes [that I wanted to use],” he says. “At the end of the PowerPoint there was a picture of a big explosion with the caption ‘World domination.’”

That resulted in a collection of ready-to-wear, footwear, and accessories that nods to the ’70s but has a decidedly more dressy, modern feel. Of course, it being Lacoste, there’s a heavy dose of sportswear influences too, including striped tracksuits and groovy camp-collar shirts with exaggerated collars. “I wanted collars down to my elbows,” says Mars. “There’s something magnificent and powerful about a collar being big. It gives confidence to whomever’s wearing it; it feels like a cape.” Lacoste’s classic tees and polo shirts, bearing the iconic crocodile logo, are also present. “The crocodile brought a sense of sport heritage to it,” says Trotter. Prices range from $90 for tees to $280 for the patterned zip-up jackets.

Given that this was Mars’s first time designing, Trotter says she was overall surprised by his knowledge of fit and eye for details. “I’d sometimes have my husband take our children for ice cream, so they didn’t see [Bruno] on the screen and tell all their friends,” she recalls. “Bruno is obsessive. He had a clear vision, and he knew instinctively if something wasn’t right.”

In the campaign Mars can be seen wearing the ’70s-inspired pieces along with sleazy-chic items like aviator sunglasses, which he also designed. Mars enlisted friend and singer-songwriter Anderson Paak to model along with him. “He and I have been quietly working on a project together,” Mars teases on the music front.

In fact Mars found that the design process wasn’t all that different from writing music. “When I’m writing a song, it’s about the emotion: What do I want people to feel?” he says. “I approach clothing that same way: How do I want to feel when I put on that jacket?” He wants people to experience life as Ricky Regal—like they’re “levitating when they walk into someplace—a grocery store or a party.”

Fred Segal, Famed L.A. Retailer, Dies

Fred Segal, who’s name is well known from the red, white and blue lettered sign of the famous ivy-covered Los Angeles store he founded, died on Thursday. He was 87.

The cause was complications from a stroke, according to a representative of the brand. He is survived by a large family, including his wife, five children, ten grandchildren and even two great-grandchildren. Many of them are also tastemakers, who have been involved in the retail and fashion business over the years, including Michael Segal, Nina Segal, Sharon Segal and Annie Segal.

“To the very end, he inspired us to never give up. He will be forever loved and celebrated,” a statement from the family reads. “He was a true artist who dedicated his life to evolving as a human being in every aspect. He challenged us to expand our minds and our hearts, to go deeper and to do better. He was an innovator, a forward thinker, a rule breaker, a mentor to so many, such a lover of life and a humanitarian. Anyone who knew him, felt his powerful energy. He worked his whole life to have self love and to teach all of us to love one another.”

Born in 1933, Segal in 1961 opened his eponymous store on Santa Monica Boulevard in L.A.’s West Hollywood, in a 300 square-foot space with an inventory of almost entirely denim. The jeans sold for the then unheard of price of $19.95, making him the first to to market premium denim. His “jeans bar,” as he called it, was a revolutionary concept for the time. As the store grew in popularity, so did the size; Segal eventually moved to Crescent Heights and Melrose Avenue, and started asking employees to manage their own spaces inside the store as it expanded, leading him to pioneer the “shop-in-shop” style of retail.

“I loved that man. He was a true original,” said retail developer Rick Caruso, who met and became friends with Segal 25 years ago. “I most admired him for his instinct and ability to innovate, but he was also kindness personified. He was truly the first disruptor in the retail business and he dared to break every rule and in doing so created an energy that became the best shopping experience of its time.”

“He had the vision as a landlord to move from Santa Monica to Melrose, and to start buying up homes to add another shop and another to create the center,” said John Eshaya, who worked at the Melrose center from 1984 to 2008. “There were no stores in the neighborhood at that time, but eventually, Miu Miu and RRL opened nearby, then Marc Jacobs further down the street. He also opened in Malibu Country Mart, the first to bring fashion retail to Malibu.” A number of influential retailers had stores in Fred Segal on Melrose, which became the epicenter of L.A. cool, including Ron Herman and Ron Robinson.

“His whole thing was to get young people to open their own stores. He didn’t go after huge chains,” said Eshaya, who was the women’s creative director for Ron Herman. “He knew and gave opportunity to young retail entrepreneurs.”

The buyers at the stores in Fred Segal helped cultivate the L.A. look, discovering early on local-turned-global fashion and beauty brands Hard Candy, Earl Jeans, Guess Jeans, Jeremy Scott, Trina Turk and Juicy Couture, which sat beside European luxury labels such as Dolce & Gabbana and Prada.

Many people who worked at the stores went on to become designers themselves, among them Pamela Skaist-Levy (Juicy Couture), Nina Garduno (Free City), Jeannine Braden (Le Superbe) and Eshaya (JET Clothing) giving Segal the distinction of being a kind of godfather of L.A. fashion.

“Fred really helped give respect to L.A. We weren’t on the fashion radar, but he opened up a space for L.A. designers and creatives. People started admitting they were from L.A.,” said Braden, who ran the Fred Segal Flair store in Santa Monica from 1992 to 2009.

Fred Segal Melrose was a global stop for cool spotters from Anna Sui to Jenna Lyons. Its restaurant, Mauro’s, was a place to see and be seen for Hollywood celebs including Leonardo DiCaprio, Diana Ross, Jennifer Aniston and Tobey Maguire.

“He would always call the store a daytime nightclub,” said his daughter Sharon Segal, who started working at the Melrose store at age 13, and with her sister Nina now has her own boutique in Westlake Village.

The name Fred Segal became synonymous with L.A. style, name-checked in shows and films such as “Entourage,” “Clueless,” “Legally Blonde” and “Less Than Zero,” and the de-facto wardrobe department for “Melrose Place” and “Friends,” exporting the L.A. casual look through pop culture.

Segal opened a second center on the site of a former skating rink in Santa Monica in 1985, and had an outpost in Malibu. They were all popular with locals and celebrities through the 2000s, and paparazzi would wait outside.

“When I was working at Fred Segal Santa Monica, I remember the biggest commotion one day when Britney Spears mother called to warn us they were coming in,” said Sharon. “This was when Britney first started dating Kevin Federline and the helicopters were for her.”

The centers became prime examples of lifestyle retailing, featuring luxury European fashion, contemporary brands, home decor, beauty, a skate shop, eyewear shop, men’s, children’s wear and sneakers under one roof. Going to Fred Segal became a pilgrimage for out-of-towners to see what cool new California surf line Ron Herman had hanging next to Junya Watanabe.

“We had a place called Bright Child in Santa Monica, with an indoor playground and mommy-and-me classes, and everyone used to bring their kids there–Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver–these people were coming in and hanging out on a weekly basis,” said Sharon. “Fred tried to create an experience.”

“He was bold, innovative and ahead of his time and if we study what he did back then, I know we will keep learning how to connect to our consumers today,” Caruso added. “It was an honor to know him and I’m so grateful to have learned so much from him.”

Segal worked in retail most of his life, and always enjoyed walking the floor, where he was a stickler about what kind of music was playing, and making sure sales associates were not chewing gum or leaning on the counters.

“We all had to operate in a similar manner, and sometimes people didn’t even know the stores were separately owned,” said Braden. “It felt less corporate and more family. We operated in an indie, intuitive and alternative way.”

After graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles, Segal started working in the apparel business in the now-defunct HIS Sportswear and rose to be a sales manager. But by the early 1960s, he had his own ideas, like a fashion-driven jeans line that would pull more than the $3 going rate for a pair at the time. “I called my boss who was in New York,” Segal told WWD in an earlier interview. “It’s midnight there and he got so mad, he said, ‘Go do it yourself.’ So I did.”

“Denim was his first love, his first excitement, going way back to the 1950s when he was traveling salesman,” said Sharon, explaining that he introduced styles in leather, velvet, and with flared legs, and relished discovering new brands including Chemin de Fer, A. Smile and Brittania. After making his fortune in denim and real estate, Segal hobnobbed with celebrities and influential figures, including hosting the Dalai Lama when he visited L.A. in 1989.

“You’d be sitting in your store, and he’d come through with a group of Buddhist monks on a tour. Fred was on a spiritual path before everyone,” said Braden, pointing out that the mantra, “Look See Feel Be Love All” was on Fred Segal shopping bags, and that later in life, the retailer became a peace activist, opening a Peace Park in Malibu. (He also had plans for a “green” marketplace in the early 1990s, before sustainability had become the topic in fashion it is today.)

Segal and his family maintained ownership of the brand’s intellectual property until 2012, when he sold the licensing rights and all intellectual property to Sandow Media. But the physical store on Melrose Ave. that started it all was sold in 2000 to Bud Brown, Segal’s longtime insurance broker. When Fred Segal in 2017 moved from the Melrose location to a new flagship on Sunset Blvd., the ownership of the physical store and the classic Fred Segal signage outside caused a protracted legal fight over it.

Although Sandow said upon its purchase of the Fred Segal IP that it was making a long-term commitment to the brand, it did not last. Licensing company Global Icons took over ownership of the brand in 2019. The company has since closed several international Fred Segal locations, but is set to open a new flagship in Las Vegas.

Jeff Lotman, the current chief executive officer and owner of Fred Segal said this of the brand’s legacy: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of our founder and original curator of cool, Fred Segal, who created a retail scene that continues to be the heart of LA pop culture…His forward-thinking concept continues to discover and support up-and-coming designers,” Lotman said. “We’ll continue to honor Fred’s legacy by always offering an unparalleled retail experience, searching out new brands, bringing LA style and culture to people around the world, and loving one another.” According to the family, Segal did not want a funeral. Instead, there are plans for a future celebration.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

“I Predict A Resurgence Of Dressing Up”: Giorgio Armani On His AW21 Collection & Fashion After Lockdown

This week marks a year since Giorgio Armani became the first designer to cancel attendance for a fashion show amid the pandemic. After our lives in lockdown, Armani – ever the realist – proposed an autumn/winter 2021 collection tempered to a cautious return to reality. Practical and elegant in nature, the garments were invigorated by a bright green gorilla statue Armani said was there simply to delight. He echoed that sentiment in surprising details scattered around the collection, lifting our post-pandemic mood. For as he told British Vogue’s fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen, our appetite for dressing up needs that boost of energy.

If the vaccines work, this collection will be in stores when we return to ‘normal’ life. Was this something you considered?

I certainly designed this collection with better times in mind. I think this moment calls for kindness, and perhaps even a touch of romance. This is an element that is merely hinted at, captured by the detail of a small ruche on the collar, by light flashes of crystals on a surface, or by delicate and surprising colours. This is a collection that is gracefully reassuring.

What was your intention with the men’s leopard jacket and the kimonos, as well as the women’s ruffled ponchos?

Fashion is surprise, isn’t it? I want to surprise, and this is why I added such pieces. Fashion should also be a boost of energy and irony.

One of the evening dresses is adorned with your own portrait in crystals. What motivated this?

Again, this is an ironic wink. The T-shirts with my portrait by Bob Krieger sell so well at the Silos, and there was a famous dress emblazoned with my face a few years ago in a collection. The public responds well to me being on the dresses, and I do not mind that. Please forgive this whim.
How do you think the pandemic and its lockdowns will have impacted the way we will dress and shop once we return to real life?

We have been living through a period of strange disruption, and our habits of dressing have been impacted by the requirement to stay at home. And though we may have started to value comfort and ease more and more in our outfits, this has somehow worked in my favour, as comfort is something I have always seen as paramount to the success of my work. If you feel comfortable in your clothes, you feel confident.

Will the comfort-wear of a year in lockdown prevail?

The dressing-down trend will have done nothing to dent our desire to look good and our craving for beauty and elegance. And do not forget, you can still be elegant even if you are dressing in a more casual and relaxed way. However, I do predict that when we are allowed to pursue our lives in a more normal way, there will be a resurgence of dressing-up as people socialise again. And in this context, elegance never goes out of style.

At this stage, how do you feel about digital shows?

No event can be compared to a fashion show, an instrument that we cannot do without in terms of format, energy, effectiveness. We will certainly have to rethink the format of fashion shows and fashion weeks, by looking at smaller, more intimate groups only for professionals and using the digital formula to reach a wider audience. But I don’t think the solution is to rely entirely on digital. It can be done in an emergency, but buyers and the press must be able to see the clothes up close, touch them.

What is the future of fashion week?

In addition, the fashion week is a fundamental social moment for the industry: we get together for the shows but also to discuss. It is an extremely important moment and, albeit virtual, is a web that includes both established and smaller brands, and it offers everyone the opportunity to present their work in the same moment. Therefore, I am convinced that fashion weeks, as such, must be preserved. The virtual fashion show can be a support, but it is not the future.

Timothée Chalamet’s Latest Off-Duty Look Proves He’s Fashion’s Biggest Fanboy

Since declaring himself a fashion fanboy in 2018, Timothée Chalamet has stayed true to his word. The young Hollywood actor is rarely seen on or off the red carpet without the latest offerings from his favourite brands. Case in point: at last year’s Academy Awards the starlet wore head-to-toe Prada with a Cartier brooch. In 2021, the Call Me By Your Name actor’s penchant for luxury is going nowhere.

While out grabbing a coffee in New York City this week, Chalamet stuck to his tried-and-tested formula for an off-duty look. The actor certainly has a number of Prada jackets on rotation, and it seems he’s added the brand’s black leather biker jacket into the mix, too. Always one to champion British designers, the actor paired it with Burberry jogging pants and a Stella McCartney Smile hoodie.

For Chalamet, no street-style look is complete without a baseball cap. Often seen wearing his blue Chelsea Football Club cap or his Elara baseball hat, he’s got an extensive collection. For this stroll though, he opted for his Super Bowl LV iteration.

Rarely seen without his New Balance, Converse or Nike trainers on his feet, Chalamet loves sneakers more than most. And it seems his box-fresh Off-White Out Of Office trainers are the latest pair to be added to his ever-expanding collection. What is fashion’s biggest fanboy going to covet next?

Friday, February 26, 2021

Prada’s Extrovert-Introvert A/W '21 Show

For autumn/winter 2021, Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons proposed a post-lockdown collection suspended between our lives in isolation and the desire to go out. Anders Christian Madsen reports.

The collection adapted Prada’s menswear

Miuccia Prada’s men’s collections have always forecasted her women’s shows. Under her creative partnership with Raf Simons – who cut his teeth in menswear – that dialogue has now intensified. Their second collection together was the ‘hers’ to the men’s show’s ‘his’, not only staged within the same faux fur set – as Prada tradition dictates – but proposing the same garments, tempered for a women’s wardrobe. “There was a sense of connecting men and women: the masculine in women and the feminine in men,” Raf Simons said in a video conference after the show. “They’re classic men’s silhouettes, but by changing the materials they become more feminine.”

Garments said “look at me, but don’t”

The masculine infiltration was exemplified in the suits that opened the show, their sleeves rolled up to form ladylike gigot shapes, or in the diagonal corduroy outerwear repeated from the men’s show, and the essentially genderless bodysuits likewise carried over. Like the men’s show, garments that isolate and shield the body were rendered in vivid patterns, colours or textures that made you stand out even more: giant faux fur coats and wraps, bodysuits and oversized cardigans in vivid patterns ranging Art Nouveau, Art Deco, the 1960s and 70s, and enveloping yet wildly sequined coats.

Prada said optimism is mounting

You might interpret Prada and Simons’s balance between the quiet and the gaudy as a post-pandemic approach to dressing: introvert girls in extrovert clothes. “What’s building up is the desire for movement and action and new energy and fashion. The desire to release again,” Simons said. “Slowly something is mounting, some more desire and excitement. Maybe it’s not correct but it’s there. Optimism is mounting very much,” Prada said. She expressed it in workwear jackets that desperately wanted to shape-shift into decadent opera coat, their sleeves dramatically expanding into an evening silhouette.

There were remnants of life in lockdown

Occasionally interrupted by rave-like scenes of models dancing and having a good time, the digital runway show was scored by a throbbing techno beat. “Movement was very important to us,” Simons said. “We desire movement; liberation of the body.” A lockdown-centric mentality, it wasn’t the only reminder of what we’re endured over the past year. Scattered throughout the collection, knitwear used as adornment on sleeves, collars and trims served as homespun remnants from our time spent wearing cardigans and sweaters in confinement.

The show was followed by a celebrity panel

Our collective post-traumatic lockdown disorder was echoed in wraps lined in dazzling sequins but held tightly together by hand, as if the models wanted to keep the insides to themselves. “It’s a gesture I’ve seen a lot in early Prada shows, a gesture of elegance but also of protection,” Simons explained. The show was followed by a digital panel of famous Prada fans and collaborators including Lee Daniels, Marc Jacobs and Hunter Schaffer talking about how much they loved the show. (Prada herself had fashioned a white 3M Covid-19 mask around her elbow, somehow making what’s become an everyday item look painfully cool.) Asked what “Prada-ness” means, Marc Jacobs simply answered: “Mrs Prada.” Amen to that.

London Fashion Week AW21: The Verdict

On one of the many phone calls that now shape London Fashion Week, Riccardo Tisci reflected on the way artistic expression is changing a year into the pandemic. “I’m sure, after all this finishes, it’s going to be amazing… for music, for arts, for fashion. We want to find a new freedom. For the last two decades, we’ve all been focused on numbers and money. Now, we want to live life.” His Burberry men’s collection – presented digitally like every other show this season – embodied the kinship and break with tradition that defined the London collections. Tisci’s menswear investigated the dress codes of British country dressing and re-coded them for a new era. For the many emerging talents he shares the show schedule with, it’s the attitude of a new world order.

Following the social upheaval of 2020, it’s hard to find a young designer whose work isn’t rooted in an aspect of cultural or subcultural reflection. And rightly so. Priya Ahluwalia – who received this year’s Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design on Tuesday – called her collection Traces, investigating the evidence of migration that exists within our wardrobes. Yuhan Wang took inspiration from the Tang Dynasty of her own cultural heritage. Saul Nash created a moving film about homosexuality in the context of the milieu in which he was raised, reflecting on the relationship between the codes of his elevated sportswear and ideas of gayness. Art School dedicated its non-binary collection to London Trans+ Pride, and Bianca Saunders continued her study of the changing face of masculinity and men’s approach to dressing.

Visually, compared with the exuberance of those who preceded them, the expression of the new designer generation is somewhat muted. Their analytical investigations of dress codes – from formalwear to sportswear – and how to change them for the anti-patriarchal, anti-imperialist environment they are calling for cuts a quiet contrast to a slightly older designer like Matty Bovan, whose explosive visual universe is still going strong. This season, he reflected on the dystopian reality of the pandemic in a collection that exercised naval references in a narrative about a sinking ship. “It’s definitely escapism, but the narrative isn’t necessarily resolved. Do we know if the characters are rescued? I like it to be open-ended,” he said, a realist in dreamer’s clothes.

Michael Halpern’s take on current affairs was more optimistic. Like most of the London establishment, his collection was about the “emergent wardrobe” of the post-lockdown world: “What people are going to wear when they come out of lockdown,” as he said. Halpern’s catsuits, jumpsuits and sarongs weren’t proposals for an autumn day look out of confinement, but they weren’t follies, either. “You want to feel like you’re putting on clothing again. You want it to feel different than normal. It’s not some chiffon thing you waft around in at home, but something you go out in,” he said. “I’m sick of comfort-wear.” Molly Goddard may be very pregnant, but she wasn’t giving in to sweatpants, either. Her sprightly collection was full of the jaunty silhouettes and bright colours that have made the hearts of her clientele grow fonder in the past.

Also very pregnant – and busy home-schooling – Simone Rocha’s tough romanticism had a rebellious back-to-school attitude about it; a uniform for a collective mentality, once we all get to go back to work, anyway. In that sense, the London collections were an exercise in concrete proposals as to what our emergent wardrobe might look like, informed by what we’ve been through, and often suspended between the comfort zone of loungewear and dressing up. Appropriately for a collection made in lockdown, Emilia Wickstead took inspiration from Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window in an indoor-outdoor collection that juggled domestic and formal dress codes. Casually, Roksanda Ilinčić shot a short film starring Vanessa Redgrave, her daughter Joely Richardson and granddaughter Daisy Bevan, illustrating through cinematic storytelling the “middle space” we’re currently living in – and dressing for.

Ever the poet, Erdem Moralioglu found a beautiful analogy to express that same transitional wardrobe, capturing it in a runway film choreographed by Edward Watson of The Royal Ballet. “When I was working at the Royal Opera House, that was the moment I found so exciting: the dancers shifting around, criss-crossing, half-dressed in what they wear during the day and half-dressed in their costumes,” he said, recalling Corybantic Games, the ballet he created costumes for in 2018. The contrast between a ballerina’s everyday dancewear and her ornate costumes served as a fitting illustration of our impending transition from domestic dressing to dressing up.

Kim Jones’s First Ready-To-Wear Collection For Fendi A/W '21

For his ready-to-wear debut at Fendi, Kim Jones paid homage to the women who have shaped the house past and present, proposing a modern wardrobe rooted in Roman glamour. British Vogue’s fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen brings you five things to know about the collection.

It was Kim Jones’s first ready-to-wear collection for Fendi

For his first turn on Fendi’s ready-to-wear runway, the F-shaped glass boxes that framed Kim Jones’s haute couture debut for the house last month had been filled with Roman ruins. “The couture show was about moving my mindset from England to Rome,” he said on a video call from Milan before the digital show. Now, he had arrived, ready to navigate that Roman landscape where the constant evidence of time has a way of pushing you into the present. “I wanted a wardrobe for women for modern times, with the DNA of what Fendi is to me.” That, he said, was the total sum of the many women that make up – and have historically made up – the Fendi family and its ateliers. They played muses to his collection, imbuing it with their effortless embodiment of modernist Roman glamour, and the no-nonsense charm that comes with living in a city that’s seen it all.

Jones debuted his Fendi silhouette

Jones presented his proposal for a new Fendi in powdery and earthy tonal looks, which he called “palate cleansing”, and which helped to clarify his silhouette through a screen. Lines either followed the contour of the body, or obscured it. In dresses – often knitted – the former case was made in a straightforward and easy silhouette, which Jones occasionally tempered with a soft magnified shoulder or a dropped armhole. His flou had a handkerchief sensibility to it, sometimes underlined by actual handkerchief hems, but most vigorously expressed in shirts and blouses oversized to the point of shrouding. Jones picked up those clues from his couture debut where some silhouettes entirely masked the anatomy, while others adapted a body-conscious Vionnet shape. That dress was repeated in this collection, in shorter versions with silk-satin wrap detailing that echoed that of Jones’s men’s suiting at Dior.

Silvia Venturini Fendi was a muse

It was inevitable that Jones’s work for Fendi would bear evidence of a life lived in menswear. In a transition that made it come full circle, he turned his spotlight to the wardrobe of Silvia Venturini Fendi, who remains creative director of accessories at her LVMH-owned family company. It was meta because Venturini doesn’t just design Fendi’s men’s collections but is known for her particularly handsome personal wardrobe, which incorporates elements of menswear, and has now ended up inspiring Jones’s womenswear for the house that carries her surname. Her signature look was evident in formidably-structured tailoring and jackets with an air of workwear about them, such as the caban in look 8, which Jones to referred to as “the Silvia jacket”. “When I met her, she was wearing a very chic safari sort of dress. It was immaculate. It has that almost regal feel to the quality,” he reminisced, noting how Venturini has been his biggest source for Fendi facts. “She knows everything by heart.”

Jones’s Fendi cut a contrast to that of Karl Lagerfeld

Where the Fendi of Jones’s predecessor Karl Lagerfeld was always quite ‘dressed’ – although religiously light in materiality – Jones’s Fendi emerged as a more low-key, perhaps practical wardrobe. “Daywear, tailoring, dresses… things that have a certain ease to them, but which you can dress up if you want to,” as he put it. “It’s what I look at with the family: the way they can look so chic at work, and half an hour later they come to dinner a touch different, having changed the look.” Along with Venturini Fendi, Jones had mined Lagerfeld’s Fendi archives for references to adapt. “I think she likes the idea of someone interpreting it, because she worked with Karl her entire life,” he said. “It’s good to look at things from the outside. You see things you wouldn’t see when you’re immersed in it.”

The show introduced new accessories

With his natural eye for marketing, Lagerfeld famously drew the Fendi double-F logo, declaring it stood for “Fun Furs”. “He trademarked it straight away, and got them to buy him one of the most expensive houses in Rome as payment for it,” Jones smiled. “Or so goes the story.” He riffed on the house’s monogram in architectural heels that evoked the sharp geometry of Fs, and introduced a large soft bag with massive double Fs forged in hardware – a detail echoed in jewellery designed by Delfina Delettrez, Venturini Fendi’s daughter. “When Karl played with the Fendi codes, it was always in very clever ways. Not that I’d ever compare myself to him,” Jones said, “but I’m trying to think of things that can echo that going into the future.”

Michael Halpern On The Real-Life Glamour Of His A/W '21 Collection

Last season, in September 2020, Michael Halpern paid tribute to the frontliners with a collection and a short film created in their honour. For autumn/winter 2021, the designer dedicates his collection to a feeling of emergence he hopes will become a reality once it hits stores in the late summer.

How do you follow last season’s film with the frontliners wearing your creations?

When we did that, we weren’t in a lockdown. This time we are. So, this season feels weirder to me than September. I personally didn’t feel it was the right thing to do a big production or a video-taped show. It would go against everything I was saying last season; why we did the frontliners and why PPE was so important.

Instead, you’ve done a scaled-back photo shoot?

Yes, we built a set in the studio and shot just one model. Sage Flowers in Peckham designed a huge landscape of dried flowers. It’s really nice to do something small and considered. It’s still optimistic, but it’s appropriate for the time. These clothes will be going into stores when we open, so I think this is the time to do something quite ostentatious for when we’re hopefully able to wear it. We just can’t showcase it like that.

Is it a party collection?

We’re not doing big crazy showpieces. We’re not doing fully-encrusted crystal and feather balls. This is a collection that is about what people are going to wear when they come out of lockdown.

So it’s opulent daywear?

I wouldn’t say “day”… It’s sort of like a figurative post-lockdown dance fest. You can move in these clothes. They’re not restricting like a big ballgown. They still have that design work behind them, but you can really move in them.

If the vaccines do their job, the store delivery of this collection will coincide with the end of lockdown…

Yeah, it felt sort of like the finality of lockdown for us. Everyone I’ve spoken to is so tired of what they’re wearing now – simple, comfortable – so this is the antithesis. You want to feel like you’re putting on clothing. You want it to feel different than normal. It’s not some chiffon thing you waft around in at home, but something you go out in.

No more “comfort-wear” for the Halpern woman?

I’m so sick of that. I wanted to bring back some of those sequined bustiers, I wanted to do catsuits, I wanted to do tailoring that’s not “luxe home tailoring” but real tailoring, in sequins and duchesse.
In that transition, it looks like you’ve stepped up your sex appeal?

The diamanté braziers are quite “revealing” for what we normally do. It’s about being really risk-taking and I think people are going to want to do that in the autumn: a high slit, a low V neckline, lots of waists, lots of shoulder. That kind of sexy is new for me. I really enjoyed it. It’s very different draping with a little piece of fabric rather than a big one. You have to be more considered: millimetres versus centimetres.

I spotted a gown with a super low-cut back…

It’s our dangerous dress. You have to be careful in her. It’s about being that ostentatious but not feeling cumbersome. It has to feel easy.

And what about that leopard-print party dress with the corset and the red sequins?

If you’re really going to go out, this is what you’re going to wear. It’s the furthest you can get from a Zoom call.

As someone who deals in glamour and eveningwear, how has the pandemic affected your business?

Between June and December last year, nothing was happening. Then, just before December, when the new collection went into stores, it picked up and sold out. I don’t know who’s wearing it or where they’re going, but it shows a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel.

Were you worried about sustaining your brand?

You’re worried if your business is going to continue on the path that it was, and after a time of not selling high glamour during lockdown, for people to be buying it again feels like all our work over this past year paid off. I wanted to keep making beautiful things, not in a trivial way, but in an earnest and sincere way. I didn’t think it would happen so quickly, but to see it moving again is beyond words for me.

Virgil Abloh Joins London’s Royal College Of Art As Visiting Professor

Virgil Abloh is going back to school — in London — becoming a visiting professor at The Royal College of Art, WWD has learned. The RCA, a graduate school that counts David Hockney, Tracey Emin, Ridley Scott, Zandra Rhodes and Christopher Bailey among its alumni, said the appointment will enable students from across the college to benefit from Abloh’s “wealth of experience as a leading figure in international fashion and design.”

He is set to present master classes and talks throughout the year as well as share “unique employment opportunities” with the students and alumni.

“It’s with great honor I join the RCA as a visiting professor to reinforce the importance of education and hands-on mentorship of future generations,” said Abloh, the founder of the Milan-based label Off-White and artistic director of Louis Vuitton men’s wear.

Sir Jony Ive, RCA chancellor, described Abloh as “a true force for change — a powerful combination of creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, whose experience and mentorship will undoubtedly inspire a new generation of creative innovators to realize the full value of their potential.”

Zowie Broach, RCA head of fashion, said that Abloh embodies “the RCA’s spirit of collaboration and ingenuity — he is a designer and polymathic entrepreneur who has combined the fields of art, architecture, craft and design. Ultimately, the way he uses his practice to create social change is inspiring.”

The RCA also noted that Abloh is “passionate about philanthropy, having recently created a fund to foster equity and inclusion within the fashion industry by providing scholarships to students of academic promise of Black, African American, or African descent.”

Abloh’s appointment follows a talk he gave last summer to the RCA community called “A lecture on potential solutions, ideas on race in areas of art, design and current culture based on experiences.” The RCA called it a “highlight for many of our students studying during an uncertain time.”

Abloh’s various talents and interests — across fashion, furniture, art, architecture and design — coincide with the many areas of study at the RCA, which describes itself as the leading university of art and design offering 30 academic programs.

It offers MA, MPhil, MRes and PhD degrees across the disciplines of architecture, arts and humanities, design and communications and has 2,000 students. It employs around 1,000 professionals from around the world, including professors, researchers, art and design practitioners, advisers and visiting lecturers.

Pearls For Men? Comme Des Garçons And A$AP Nast Endorse The Trend

As the Twitterverse quakes at men in skirts—insert faux outrage here—men with true style are embracing all the trimmings of a traditionally feminine wardrobe. Harry Styles flirts with nail polish and earrings. A$AP Rocky knots on silk scarves and tunic tops. The impeccably dressed and perennially stylish A$AP Nast has another idea: pearls.

In New York, Nast has been sporting a double strand of Comme des Garçons x Mikimoto pearls, part of the latest drop from Comme des Garçons x Mikimoto, a collaboration which brings spikes, studs, and silver hardware into the two brands’ ongoing partnership. “My personal style I’d like to say is an unorthodox one, maybe even spontaneous,” Nast wrote via email. “I never really know where it will go next, so I plan to do whatever comes to mind. I see no particular time for anyone to wear anything.”

The idea is resonating. Skirts, pearls, and an insouciant eclecticism are emerging as defining trends for all genders at the fall 2021 collections. No one pushes the agenda more than Comme des Garçons Homme Plus, which referenced Schiaparelli and Man Ray with black pump hats by Willie Cole and a lean, graphic silhouette. The Mikimoto pearls, which did not appear on the runway in Tokyo, extend the idea of sharp and aggressive spikes against a more lean, lovely silhouette.

“It’s our great pleasure to continue our partnership with Mikimoto, with seven new styles designed by Rei Kawakubo that merge the simplicity and timelessness of pearls with a modern view to who can wear them,” Adrian Joffe, the president of Comme des Garçons said. “We share Mikimoto’s approach to design and production—an unwavering commitment to quality, authenticity—and these pieces continue to uphold those values while subverting classical notions of what pearls can look like through the inclusion of studs, fangs, and safety pins. They are for everyone.”

The question remains: Is everyone ready? As Nast writes, “I believe people should wear what they please—but everyone should just wear pearls all the time everywhere.” The Comme des Garçons x Mikimoto collection will be available from March 5 at Dover Street Market, Comme des Garçons, and Mikimoto stores.

Dolce & Gabbana Discuss Couture For Men

Long before fashion weeks started splintering, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana set up their own haute couture ecosystem in Italy, immediately spying potential for male clients.

Six years after their first Alta Sartoria collection paraded through Palazzo Labus in Milan, the designers say men make up fully half of their couture clientele, numbering more than 200 people in Asia, the U.S., Europe, India, Russia and South America, in particular Mexico and Brazil.

What’s more, they described a close, collaborative relationship with their clients, offering them a familial, immersive experience exalting all things Italian. The designers have staged lavish couture events in Florence, Portofino, Naples, Monreale and Agrigento over the years, in addition to stops in the U.S., Japan, Mexico and China (where the company’s business has rebounded after a November 2018 scandal when the designers were accused of making racist comments on social media; they apologized and the brand has worked to reestablish relationships).

“It’s not just a fashion show for cool clothes. It’s a moment, it’s history, it’s a relationship, it’s food, it’s Italian, it’s everything,” Dolce enthused of couture in a telephone interview. “Couture is more about style of life. Prêt-à-porter is more fashion.”

While some men order styles directly from the runway, Dolce characterized the Alta Sartoria collections as a “suggestion” to open a conversation about wardrobing them for their unique style of life, or a very special occasion.

“We speak with our customers. We try to understand what people need,” he said, describing an exchange of sketches, color suggestions and swatches. “It’s a beautiful conversation.…We discover a lot of very different lifestyles.”

For example, two months ago a client asked if the Alta Sartoria ateliers could create a jumpsuit for skiing — something Gianni Agnelli might have worn on the slopes in the Sixties. Dolce said he and Gabbana relished the challenge of a technical couture garment, and managed to source a stretch wool reminiscent of the period.

Dolce recalled that his father was a tailor, and he always envisioned that role far beyond mere outfitter. “It’s organizing dreams for the customer,” he said.

The Alta Sartoria atelier stocks mannequins for all its important clients, which reduces the number of fittings required. Tailors are also dispatched with clothes to places like Singapore, Tokyo, New York or Los Angeles if necessary.

What compelled you to launch Alta Sartoria in 2015?

Alta Moda is a project on which we reflected for many years, until we concluded that closing D&G — our second line — was the necessary condition to embark on this new path. Therefore, in July 2012 we presented the first Alta Moda collection in Taormina and in January 2015, in Milan, the first Alta Sartoria.

History teaches us that man, by nature, has always chosen to mark time, a particular moment, choosing a special outfit. We have seen it with high aristocracy, princes and maharajahs. Similarly, with Alta Sartoria we want to satisfy male hedonism with a proposal that is consistent with the DNA and values of Dolce & Gabbana. With Alta Sartoria, we satisfy men’s desire to feel unique.

Did Alta Sartoria take off right away?

Yes, we immediately had an excellent feedback. Some important prêt-à-porter customers approached Alta Sartoria, the husbands of our Alta Moda clients started ordering for themselves and word of mouth was undoubtedly helpful.

How important are the couture shows?

For us, the Alta Moda and the Alta Sartoria events narrate Italy. They are not just a moment of showcase, but of sharing and exchange. We like to communicate a lifestyle, a feeling and live it with the clients — now friends — who participate in our events and who, after years, love to meet each other. With the Alta Moda events, we speak about Italy, its art, culture and excellence, from artisanship to food, of the places we choose. Each event has its own narrative, which represents the added value of the experience we give life to.

Has couture shopping become a couple activity?

Many are couples, but it is interesting to note that many young people are fascinated by the Alta Moda world. Often sons and daughters of our clients ask to participate in our events and we are happy about it.

How do you account for the growing popularity of couture for men, and how is it different from the made-to-measure suit business of yore?

We have a critical attitude toward made-to-measure because we think it often leads to a well-made product, but still industrialized. Alta Sartoria is a very different project that is based on the relationship, the dialogue between the client and our team — from the atelier, to the tailor. It is an intimate connection, almost a confession, through which we get to know the client and his world and he learns something new about himself. He is very fascinating.

What are the most popular garments or categories of couture garment for men?

Usually men approach Alta Sartoria asking for a traditional suit, maybe characterized by particular details, but still a classic. But when they relax and feel at ease, their personality and hedonism comes out and they really start to appreciate the project and to ask for clothes, or accessories, in line with their passions often linked to the world of sport. So, we find ourselves working on projects that are not really fashion and that represent a challenge, which leads us to a constant technical and creative research.

Are there any specialty techniques used only for men’s couture, or skills you had to bring into your ateliers?

Alta Moda and Alta Sartoria are synonymous with experimentation. This has led us, over time, to have to expand our ateliers and to acquire highly specialized employees. With the Alta Moda project, we want to give visibility to the artisan excellence of our country and, in each place where we choose to show, we go in search of a manufacture, of a particular technique to work on.

With the Monreale show, for example, we worked on the mosaic technique, weaving different fabrics and materials — leather, brocade and sequins.

For the collection presented at the Ambrosiana Library in Milan, we instead focused on the technique of punto-puttura and piccolo-punto to re-create the emotion of the paintings that we have chosen to reproduce on the garments.

Do men order couture mostly for special occasions?

Exclusivity is the concept behind the Alta Sartoria project. We only make unique and non-reproducible garments.

Unlike the woman who approaches Alta Moda for a special and unique occasion, the man tends to want to build a personal wardrobe made of clothes that satisfy and tell about his lifestyle, his dream.

The Ultimate Guide To The Spring 2021 Fashion Trends

If there’s been one fashion lesson learned during lockdown, it’s that personal style doesn’t disappear in difficult times. Exactly the opposite happens, if Vogue’s street style portfolios and DIY challenges are any indication: Fashion lovers the world over are staying home, but they’re still getting dressed and celebrating the joys of clothing.

The spring collections, which experienced a virtual makeover, provided plenty of inspiration for how to update our wardrobes at home. While we miss IRL fashion shows intensely—even thinking about the chaos of inching through traffic from one venue to another sparks wistful nostalgia—we’re certain that as we enter the new season, we’ll do it with a revitalized outlook on getting dressed. The designers we love certainly make the case for trying something lively and fresh, whether that means Nicolas Ghesquière’s roomy cargo pants at Louis Vuitton or Miuccia Prada’s micro miniskirts at Miu Miu.

In addition to surprising silhouettes like Loewe’s voluminous dresses and Tom Ford’s emphasis on surprising color combos, the spring 2021 shows also put forth the importance of thinking globally. To that end, models and photographers from around the world have captured the season’s best looks and trends from New York City to Shanghai and everywhere in between. Until we can travel again and wear our Marni frocks in Mexico and our Givenchy jeans in Los Angeles, trying out spring’s new trends at home will have to do.

Show Some Leg

It’s a tale as old as time: The weather heats up and hemlines rise. At Miu Miu, Miuccia Prada made a strong case for a micro miniskirt, outfitting Lila Grace Moss in a bejeweled mini to open the brand’s spring 2021 digital show.

Plenty of other designers agree that a long leg is the silhouette of the season, with Chloé offering A-line minis and Etro applying its signature paisley print to cut-off jean shorts. Of course, few do super-short with as much verve as Versace; Donatella mixed a clash of prints and patterns on a flirtatious pleated skirt.

Ditch Sweatpants for Statement-Making Trousers

It’s past time to break the cycle of dependence on sweatpants and leggings, and the spring 2021 collections certainly offer plenty of alternatives. Chief among them are wide-leg, roomy trousers seen everywhere from Louis Vuitton to Jacquemus to the affordable online collection Raey.

For more daring dressers, there are neon green cargos from Kim Shui and khakis painted with delicate tropical flowers at Oscar de la Renta. Yes, they’re great for sitting and lounging, but as Hailey Bieber has proven, wide-leg pants look best in action.

Spark Joy

Swirling, psychedelic prints from Tom Ford, textural stripes from Kenneth Ize, and vintage-inspired graphics from La DoubleJ all make for a vibrant and happy spring wardrobe—and who doesn’t need a little levity right now?

Make the look work for you by balancing large and small prints within the same outfit while paring down the accessories. Let your dress do the talking!

Cling Appeal

Sensual, body-revealing clothing is the story at brands like Givenchy and Versace. After a year of slouchy, cozy clothes, it’s not hard to see the appeal of a curve-hugging dress or a slinky knit top, unbuttoned to the sternum.

There’s a certain comfort in wearing close, stretchy clothing, and a declaration that when if we are dressing for ourselves our bodies are worth celebrating.

Get Crafty

Designers the world over have made the case for local production and craft.

Marni’s hand-painted jackets and Maison Margiela’s perforated dresses offer a textural feel, while Chopova Lowena’s deadstock tartans and Gabriela Hearst’s tie dyes are a thoughtful take on prints. Who knows, incorporating crafty pieces into your closet might even inspire a DIY project of your own…

Pump It Up

Only the daring might try out Loewe’s bulb-shaped skirt, but the continuation of a Victorian pouf-sleeve is truly for everyone. Whether in a pastoral print like the midi dress by Brock Collection or as a ruffled Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini mini, a voluminous sleeve offers a bold new silhouette.

Think of spring’s new volumes as all the better to make a statement on your Zoom calls.

Slink Into the Season’s Best Knits

Minimalist, ribbed knitwear is the thinking shopper’s alternative to athleisure.

With almond dresses from Jacquemus, tangerine turtlenecks from Ganni, and a cream set by Proenza Schouler, there’s really no reason to regress back into sweats this spring. With a casual sandal and carry-all bag, a knit dress or set is the perfect at-home to outdoors look.

Trust the Classics

While there is nothing more invigorating than trying out a new silhouette or pattern, there’s certainly a case to be made for trusting wardrobe essentials.

A Burberry trench, Prada coat, or Etro striped shirt will never go out of style. It’s a message designers have pushed both on the runways and in stores, and with so many colorful new options, this spring is a great time to refresh the classic pieces in your closet.

Bottega Veneta Deletes Account On Chinese Social Media Platform Weibo

After deleting all the posts on its Weibo account, which boasted 270,000 followers, the Italian luxury house has deleted the account altogether. The brand still has a presence on WeChat, another critical platform in China, but it hasn’t published any new posts since February 9.

Bottega Veneta declined to comment on the move, which aligns with its global communications strategy. The Kering-owned brand deleted its Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts last month.

Speaking to analysts on Kering’s fourth-quarter earnings results on February 17, chairman and chief executive officer François-Henri Pinault pointed out that “[Bottega Veneta is] not disappearing from social networks — it’s merely using them differently.” Rather than having the brand speak for itself, it will rely on ambassadors and fans to drive conversation.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

New To The Milan Crew: 6 Emerging Brands To Watch

With Milan Fashion Week kicking off today, we met some of the promising names on the city’s fashion scene. While most of them cut their teeth at prestigious houses, including Gucci, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and Givenchy, they’re now all ready to make their own mark on the global fashion map.


Probably the most anticipated debut of Milan Fashion Week, Daniel Del Core, former special projects and VIP designer at Gucci, will unveil the first collection for his namesake brand with a physical show today at Cittadella degli Archivi del Comune di Milano, a location in the northern area of the city where all the municipality’s official documents are stored.

Del Core established his women’s wear brand, with support from an anonymous private investor, in December 2019. Raised in a small village in Germany’s Black Forest, the designer moved to Italy as a teenager for a cultural exchange and then settled in the country, where he studied fashion and graphic design.

Prior to joining Gucci in Rome, where he collaborated with creative director Alessandro Michele on the creation of a series of spectacular looks donned by stars including Björk and Lana Del Rey, Del Core worked for a range of other houses, including Dolce & Gabbana and Versace in Milan, and Zuhair Murad between Paris and Beirut.

As he revealed during an exclusive interview with WWD last December, the designer aims to present two collections a year, transcending the idea of seasonality and including a mix of ready-to-wear and couture looks, identified by different labels.

During an interview a few days ahead of his debut show, Del Core said “the starting point for my first collection was nature and the organic realm. My inspiration came from the morphing and the mutations that take place in the plant kingdom.”

According to the designer, a study of different personalities will be central. “I like the idea of glamour and conceiving each dress for a specific personality. Every woman leads her own life,” he said.

Silhouette wise, the designer said he kept that sleek and sculptural, and that it will be counterbalanced by the richness of fabrics and decorations. “Much research and thought went into the materials, including our jacquard and fil coupé. And I also put emphasis on the embroideries, applications, intarsia and 3D techniques.”

Tailoring will stand out with sharp and graphic suits worn over lace underwear garments, as well as jumpsuits, including one crafted from a fabric showing a corrosion print.

“Working on eveningwear gave way to multiple interpretations of nature’s hidden beauty,” added the designer. “From an allover embroidered dress to a gown designed in different weights of jacquard to create both sculptural and fluid effects around the body.”

The collection will be completed by a range of accessories, such as shoes, including a pair of feathered sandals, bags, and jewelry pieces, such as gold chokers. — Alessandra Turra


For anyone familiar with the Milan creative scene, Christian Boaro is not a new name. With previous experience in-house at Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, MSGM and Gianfranco Ferrè, fashion remains Boaro’s first love, but he’s also explored different areas, training his camera on a series of Polaroids for an exhibition called “The Naked Truth” in which he explored today’s youth movement: Vocal, creative, gender-bending.

A multifaceted talent, throughout his 15-year career Boaro has dreamed of establishing his namesake brand but found one reason or another to delay it, until late last year when he launched his CHB fashion brand imbued with sensual femininity and a glamorous take on contemporary fashion.

“I’ve worked for different established fashion brands and I was always dedicated and absorbed but at a certain point I felt the need to have something of my own. After my mum passed away, I suddenly realized how uncertain and volatile life is and did not want to waste a minute more,” Boaro explained — his eyes moist — during an interview at his home-turned-atelier in central Milan.

After his debut collection last October unveiled via Instagram images and a look book release, he is set to present his first full lineup on Feb. 28 during Milan Fashion Week.

“This collection builds on the first one launched last year and which served as a manifesto for everything the brand is about: seasonless, genderless fashion,” the designer said. “They are both concepts that are dear to me and really ingrained in my professional and personal story. They are less of a trend and more values that I strongly believe in.”

Blending references that nod to traditional tropes of men’s wear and old-school feminine glamour, he designed gender-bending pieces that more often than not can be worn by women and men. “I think that since the metrosexual aesthetics came to the fore [in the ‘90s] men have started to fine-tune their taste and women have been embracing a mannish style,” he noted.

The collection is filled with desirable pieces, from lace-trimmed slipdresses to lace tank tops — one featuring attached gloves; black tuxedos; a wet-look vinyl trench, and a silk duchesse duster coat in butter yellow lined with cotton, an example of the high and low approach the designer is charting.

Boaro said the collection is rooted in minimalism but without looking stiff or out of date. “I don’t think a designer can really innovate anymore, and you would probably find references to the history of fashion in my collection, however you can always offer something new by presenting the clothes in a contemporary way,” he explained.

To wit, he cast a circle of close friends to appear in his look book images, including model Marie Sophie Wilson, a Peter Lindbergh favorite. “I don’t want to build a tribe of fans and followers, but rather a community that shares my vision,” he said.

Currently self-financed, Boaro is looking for a distribution partner and working on setting up his own e-commerce. — Martino Carrera


Geneviève Xhaët has been charming her customers with her surrealist take on headgear since 2013, finding inspiration in everything from artist Dora Mar to the mountains and ‘20s glamour. Now she’s ready to expand her brand’s offering.

Whereas many creatives were feeling pressured by confinement, Xhaët decamped to Sicily and found time to let her creativity express itself. For her Flapper brand’s fall 2021 collection she is introducing a knitwear capsule collection that is radical in its minimalist approach.

After years working alongside knitwear guru Pierangelo D’Agostin and for Malo and Dhrumor, Xhaët wanted to leave her own mark on the category and build on the interest her headwear has generated.

“My goal was to provide women with a Flapper uniform, complementing hats with a ready-to-wear capsule,” Xhaët said. “It is really in tune with my hat collection and because of its minimalist approach it can also be easily thrown into the mix of a boutique’s offering,” she noted.

Inspired by the uniforms of ‘70s professional skiers (the designer herself had a gig as a professional skier), the knitted pieces span from bras to floor-length, body-hugging dresses, tactile sweaters and soft pants, reminiscent of retro-tinged ski suits but way more comfortable. Adding her characteristic off-kilter touch, Xhaët translated the geometric details on the ski suits worn by the likes of Maria Rosa “Ninna” Quario, Anne Marie Pröll and Rosi Mittermaier into intarsia decorations on her fall pieces.

Xhaët largely employed cashmere and a ladder proof blend of polyurethane and elastane, nodding to the sportswear, high-performance trend in fashion. “Both yarns captured my attention because they are long-lasting and can stand the test of time, and there’s also a sustainable bent to them,” the designer explained, adding that the capsule is intended to be worn throughout the year. For her headwear creations she has already used a range of eco-friendly materials, including Econyl’s regenerated nylon.

While the designer is not planning to make a full foray into clothing, she said retailers have given the thumbs up to her knitwear offering, setting the foundation for a further expansion of the category, which retails between 200 euros for bras and 700 euros for cashmere dresses. — M.C.


For Alessandro Vigilante, presenting his namesake brand as part of the Milan Fashion Week official schedule is “a surprise, a gift and an opportunity” as he described the occasion as a “channel through which I can communicate my personal stylistic vision.”

He first gave it a try in 2007 when, after graduating in fashion design at IED Moda Lab in Milan, he won the My Own Show contest promoted by the school and the late Vogue Italia’s editor in chief Franca Sozzani, which gave him access and visibility during the fashion event.

But Vigilante opted to return to the starting blocks and cut his teeth at different fashion houses, piling up experiences and different skills over time. After spending seven years at Dolce & Gabbana, particularly overseeing eveningwear and embroideries, he moved to Gucci to manage special projects. There, he worked under Alessandro Michele, a designer “I admire a lot not only for his powerful and personal creative vision but also for his ability in catalyzing everybody’s attention and curiosity on the brand in such a short time, completely revolutionizing the label,” said Vigilante.

After working with Lorenzo Serafini on Philosophy from 2015 to 2019, Vigilante eventually decided to focus on developing his brand, through which he investigates the duality between femininity and masculinity via a minimal aesthetic.

In particular, his exploration of the human body and its movements is rooted in his long-time fascination for modern dance, a discipline he practiced in the past and that became a constant source of inspiration during his career as a designer.

For fall 2021, he looked at Pina Bausch and Merce Cunningham. Of the former, he praised the inclusive approach and the exaltation of humanity and imperfection in her work, while he revisited her personal style filling the collection with oversize tailoring.

Cunningham’s innovative cross-pollination of dance and technology and his penchant for technical perfection inspired Vigilante’s rigorous shapes and the contrasts in fabrics, as traditional wool, jersey and silk georgette are combined with neoprene and vegan latex in the range. In particular, sartorial jackets and coats, which often reveal sensual cut-outs on the back, are styled with wide pants, as well as high-wasted leggings and bike shorts. Feminine frocks with deep slits and leotards with seducing transparencies and geometric cuts contribute to the body-hugging silhouettes that counterbalance the generous proportions of tailored pieces.

The enhancement of the human body is also the main theme of the video the brand produced to introduce the collection. Directed by Attilio Cusani, the short movie has a voyeuristic approach in portraying a woman as she observes and studies her body while alone in her apartment.

“I would like to make women feel self-confident both when they wear my masculine suits and ultra-feminine dresses,” said Vigilante, whose ultimate goal is to “create an authentic and personal aesthetic, [one that is] sensitive and receptive of the world we live in, and to convey it in a way that is precise, recognizable, unique and courageous.” — Sandra Salibian


Take two women, blend their shared passion for shoes with their commitment to sustainability, add a generous amount of Italian craftsmanship and spice everything up with symbolism: luxury footwear label Iindaco will be served.

Named after the indigo color that marks the transition from day to night — a nod to the brand’s mission to dress women throughout the day — Iindaco is the venture of friends Pamela Costantini and Domitilla Rapisardi, who met in 2014 when both worked at Roberto Cavalli.

After Costantini’s stint at Givenchy in Paris and Rapisardi’s experience in a consulting firm working for brands including Emilio Pucci and Max Mara, as well as at Tod’s, in 2018 the two women ended one of their usual chats over the phone with the idea of establishing their own brand as an answer to a stalling industry in terms of environmental sustainability.

“For Iindaco, new luxury is responsibility,” said Costantini. “This is why Iindaco is committed to creating 360-degree sustainable collections: from the design to the realization, from the materials to the distribution.”

In particular, the brand, which made its official debut last year, sources excess fabrics and leather leftovers throughout Italy’s warehouses and stockists, diverting and reusing scrap materials in their creative process while reducing waste. Recycled and recyclable ABS heels, regenerated leather insoles, and certified linings in biodegradable leather are also deployed in the manufacturing of the shoes, while the founders are additionally eyeing scraps from fish markets, such as eel and salmon skins, as the next ground for experimentation.

In terms of aesthetic, Costantini and Rapisardi are influenced by the ’90s in their work and find “beauty and femininity in the seduction of the girl next door, a clean face, and naturalness.” This approach informs the essential silhouettes and no-fuss attitude of their offering, in which flat and midi-heeled styles play a big role.

Inspired by rationalist architecture, the fall 2021 collection comprises just one, four-inch heeled pump named Pegaso and the three-inch heeled Circe d’Orsay sling-back shoe, both featuring squared toes. The range includes the Persephone sandal and Ade mule with midi heels covered in crystals; the masculine Adone loafer embellished with the brand’s logo clamp on the front, and the Argo lace-up boot — a standout style, especially when crafted from Iindaco’s signature moiré silk and rendered in colors like mustard, red or emerald green, in addition to black.

All styles are also available in calfskin, often studded with rhinestones, while other details include splits on heels and soles winking to the two “Ls” in the brand’s name. The double use of the vowel nods to the two founders and forms the number 11, which recalls the month of November when they were both born.

Debuting on Milan Fashion Week’s official schedule, Iindaco will present the fall collection through a virtual showroom filled with photos, videos and details on the assortment intended to approach buyers in “a clean and direct way.”

Retailing at prices ranging from 390 euros to 690 euros, the brand is available at Rinascente in Milan, LuisaViaRoma in Florence and Bloomingdale’s in Dubai and Kuwait, as well as at its own online store.

“In the future we would like to expand our product range and have the opportunity to open the first physical stores [continuing] to collaborate with retailers through exclusive capsule collections,” concluded Rapisardi. — S.S.


Longevity is something that Pia Zanardi cares very much about. Probably because she loves to wear her grandfather’s shirts and her grandmother’s dresses.

Born and raised in Italy, Zanardi lived for two years in China, where she studied Mandarin, and during that period she fell in love with the country’s craftsmanship and textile heritage. Aiming to combine Chinese garment culture with a color and aesthetic sensibility rooted in her Italian origins, when after college she moved to New York, she decided to establish her own brand, Yali.

Zanardi started her entrepreneurial adventure in a space in SoHo, where she conceived a jacket, available in a short and long version, that immediately echoes the Chinese tradition but infused with a modern appeal.

“I basically launched the brand because I was getting very good feedback from the people around me, who started asking me to make one of the jackets I was wearing,” Zanardi explained. “I basically started with door-to-door selling and that’s how the Yali community was established and grew.”

Employing at the beginning exclusively high-end Chinese textiles, including raw silk from Suzhou and Nankeen linen, Zanardi has slowly and steadily enlarged the collection, which now includes also Made In Italy styles, such as refined silk pajama sets. “I call them the ‘Everyday Tuxedo’ because you can wear it to go to work and you don’t need to change to meet friends for drinks and then for dinner,” explained Zanardi.

Along with silk wrap dresses, Yali’s fall 2021 collection also offers a range of cotton quilted jackets and pants, which are filled with a silk padding. “I didn’t want to use goose feathers, so I opted for silk, which has incredible natural thermo-regulatory properties,” said the designer, who also introduced cute little bags.

Colors and textures play a key role in the development of the collection. “When I was a child I suffered from dyslexia and they treated me with textile and color therapy,” Zanardi said “That really helped me a lot and especially showed me the importance that colors have in the development of memories.”

For fall, Zanardi mainly focused on a palette of colors inspired by the nature surrounding her family’s countryside house close to Parma, in the Emilia-Romagna region. Warm tones of brown are juxtaposed with emerald and pine green, rust, terra-cotta, as well as baby pink and fuchsia.

Yali collections, retailing from 500 euros to 900 euros, are available at the brand’s online store, as well as at a select network of stores located across Europe and the U.S., including LuisaViaRoma in Florence, Tea Rose in Milan, as well as Just One Eye in Los Angeles, and Aerin in the Hamptons, to cite a few. — A.T.