Monday, March 29, 2021

What Bimini Bon-Boulash Did Next

Bimini Bon-Boulash fans who are still emotionally devastated that the fierce queen didn’t take home the bedazzled crown during the Drag Race UK season two finale will be overjoyed to hear Bimini’s new title: Next model. Signed to the management company’s main bookings list, rather than its talent section for special projects, Bimini paves the way for better representation of non-binary individuals in fashion. “Inclusivity should absolutely extend to all gender identities,” asserts president of Next Models Amanda Bretherton. “Bimini exudes beauty inside and out and carries such an important message which is needed right now: positivity and acceptance. It is what we all need for a beautiful future.”

For Bimini, a self-professed Kate Moss obsessive (they even have the super’s anchor tattoo), who grew up with their head in fashion magazines – this is not something they ever imagined for their future. “I just went on a TV show and stayed authentically true to myself,” they share of their stratospheric rise to fame. “If this is opening doors for more queer people, then that’s an incredible feeling.”

While fashion has celebrated androgyny being beautiful [John Galliano and Alexander McQueen are personal heroes in the field], Bimini says signing to Next models is significant because, “For the average person walking down the road, being androgynous is not easy. There’s just not been that many people out and proud as non-binary.” The tide, however, is turning and gender constructs are becoming more fluid, thus encouraging people to feel freer. “There shouldn’t be boxes or labels that we put upon ourselves,” shares Bimini. “I go against the norms of gender but that’s just how it fits me. Masculinity and femininity has always been quite difficult because I was never overly masculine, and femininity can be seen as a weakness in society. It’s a tricky path to navigate.”

The transformative aspect of fashion is what excites Bimini. “I love being a blank canvas and coming to life through hair, make-up and outfits,” they say. “I’m open to experimenting, pushing the boundaries and trying new things. I think that might be why people have resonated with my fashion; I’m not afraid to take risks.” Before finding acceptance in a notoriously tough to break into industry, Bimini studied journalism, and initially saw writing as a career path. “I’m shorter than people in the industry, so this all feels like a new thing. I’m grabbing every opportunity,” they say of making a mark in fashion. Gucci and Burberry are both high on the list of brands Bimini would most like to model for, but every shoot comes with a pinch-me moment. “I’m just a working class kid and the other day I was wearing Mugler and [Jean Paul] Gaultier,” they recall.

For now, Bimini is still riding high on the “explosion of happiness” that came from discussing representation with Next. After running on adrenaline during the Drag Race competition, which they describe as a “pressure cooker”, Bimini has been trying to stay grounded while preparing for the “mental” year ahead. What went through their head when RuPaul announced the winner of season two? “I’m really proud of Lawrence because they worked hard and the competition is tough,” says Bimini. A consummate professional, this is only the beginning of Bimini babes’s bright career.

Why Are Fashion Designers So Drawn To Rave Culture?

Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons asked electronic music mogul Richie Hawtin, aka Plastikman, to create the soundtracks for the Prada brand’s men’s and women’s fall shows. In particular, in the digital video presenting the women’s collection, models were captured dancing in a dark, techno club-inspired scenario.

MSGM creative director Massimo Giorgetti staged a rave party under the snow for his men’s fall unveiling; Matthew Williams re-created the atmosphere of a techno concert for Givenchy’s digital presentation, and GCDS presented a club-ready lineup with a trippy mood. Meanwhile, in Paris, Coperni brought its guests to the AccorHotels Arena to assist with a parade of club gear featuring techno music as a soundtrack, while newly appointed artistic director Nicolas Di Felice celebrated club culture with his fall collection for Courrèges.

These are just a few examples of the significant, ongoing influence of rave and clubbing culture in the collections presented by a range of fashion houses a year after the breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic, which shook the world, imposed restrictions on individual freedom and asked people to rethink their personal and professional lifestyles.

Escapism had already emerged as a theme in the spring 2021 collections presented last fall as the pandemic raged on. However, if then it was expressed more as sweet nostalgia and the desire for reassurance, a season later, escapism had a harder edge, more subversive in a way and surely more proactive.

“I think the lack of freedom has gone on longer than anyone expected and the novelty of being able to work from home, wear what you like all day and be free of the constraints of ‘the office’ have worn off. People are excited about the return of freedom, meeting others, seeing and being seen. I would expect there to be a rush to engage with the world at large whether that’s through clothing or socially (eating, drinking, clubbing, etc.),” said Professor Carolyn Mair, behavioral psychologist, PhD, author of “The Psychology of Fashion” and founder of “Fashion reflects the zeitgeist. Uninterrupted music and dancing with a lot of other people over a period of time enables us to lose ourselves in the moment. It takes us away from our thoughts outside the rave. It’s akin to listening to an audiobook or reading a book and loosing yourself entirely in the story. This escapism takes our attention away from everyday concerns and responsibilities to focus only on the moment.”

Doris Domoszlai, fashion historian and cofounder of Fashion Forward, a New York-based fashion think tank, also believes that fashion’s new desire for escapism is strongly connected to the lack of freedom we are all experiencing.

“With the world now living through year two of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m not surprised that many designers have turned to escapism to express their frustrations and hope for the future,” said Domoszlai. “The outdoors and rave culture make sense as venues of escape: they’re literally outside and away, and far more exciting than the closed spaces that we’ve found ourselves in for the past year.”

In particular, Domoszlai reflected on some of the digital shows presented during the fall 2021 fashion weeks.“Givenchy presented an exciting collection in the kind of warehouse that’s an ode to both the infamous acid raves of the ’90s and also the illegal raves rule breakers have been hosting during the pandemic. The electronic music to which the show is set emphasizes the urgency to escape this dystopian reality,” said Domoszlai, who also drew a link between the GCDS digital presentation and early Aughts’ Millennium Bag and the fear of a digitalized unknown future. “Referencing the infamous scene in ‘The Matrix’ — when the main character Neo chooses to eat a red pill that exposes the cold, hard reality that he’s been blind to — a model eats a red hard candy and literally exposes viewers to a collection that represents the current pandemic-plagued reality that we are living through. Taking place in various outdoor scenes, the GCDS collection is an escape to both the future as it was seen in the past, as well as to all the potential places we can go to get away from our long-term quarantine.”

In addition, Domoszlai spotlighted the digital presentation of Ottolinger, which channeled escapism in an outdoor perspective. “In their digital presentation, they transport the viewer to an unnamed, futuristic, rocky landscape. This scene, and the activewear-inspired clothing shown within it, simultaneously demonstrate the designers’ need to escape the confines of the closed spaces to which many were relegated because of COVID-19, and the feeling of being lost in uncharted territory as a result of it all,” she said. “The last few words of the soundtrack are very telling. The narrator describes the setting as ‘formerly known as somewhere, now known as nowhere,’ summarizing the disconnect the brand’s designers feel with the world today.”

An interesting fact related to how designers are interpreting escapism is the aforementioned switch from a sugar-coated type of nostalgia seen for the spring collections to the darker, more introspective and probably more rebellious vibe seen for fall.

“Nostalgia is an interesting construct. It is defined as a bittersweet emotion, yet fashion tends to think of it only as ‘sweet.’ When we look back, we do often see the past in a positive light, wishing for the return of a past when things were perceived of as better than they are now. But perception is selective and what we ‘see’ is not all there is,” Mair explained. “The idea of nostalgia triggering positive memories has come about in part through studies in which participants were asked to remember something positive in the past, but more recent studies have led to a different definition. Researchers found that when participants were given an artifact from the past, rather than when they were asked to recall a positive event form the past, it triggered a negative emotion. In sum, nostalgia, like all other psychological constructs, is more complex than it appears on the surface.”

Giorgio Riello, professor of early modern global history at Florence’s European University Institute, explained that “this alternation between more nostalgic and more proactive social and cultural responses is recurrent in modern history.”

In particular, Riello pointed out how, after World War II, Christian Dior evoked 19th-century fashion with the launch of the New Look in 1947. But how only a few years later, in the early ’50s, Italian designers proposed a new, more practical and unfussy take on fashion. “I believe that the nostalgic vision is transitory, especially because it normally refers to a vision of the past that in most of the case is not real,” said Riello.

The professor also created a parallel between the global situation during the pandemic, when people are indulging in comfort clothing as they work from home and are restricted in going out, with what happened after World War I.

“Coco Chanel opened her first store in 1913 before the war and with her creations she contributed to developing a more informal and more practical idea of elegant dressing,” Riello said. “However, a few years after the end of World War I, the Roaring Twenties came and they brought a new wave of excess and eccentricity.”

It is a point made by many others, from designers to retailers to financial analysts. With the trillions of dollars pumping through the global financial system, and consumers having spent the last year mainly at home with little chance to spend on travel or restaurants, predictions are that the end of the COVID-19 pandemic will see another ‘Roaring Twenties’ over the next decade. Fashion already is reflecting that for fall, with many designers creating exuberant collections perfect for dressing up to go to a party.

Riello explained that something similar happened after the French Revolution, during the French Directory, when members of Paris’ aristocratic subculture responded to the austerity and terror of the recent past by indulging in luxury and decadence. Called the Incroyables e les Merveilleuses, these men and women welcomed the new regime with hundreds of balls where they used to wear see-through dresses inspired by the ancient Greeks and Romans or wide trousers and huge neckties, bold wigs and giant hats, as well as sandals with ribbons to wrap around the legs.

But why do these different creative responses happen? Because, according to Mair, creativity is a complex construct.

“People we consider, or who consider themselves to be, creative may react to crises and emergencies in many different ways. Nevertheless, crises and emergencies demand the ability to think quickly to produce novel solutions that work. To do this, people need to take new and diverse perspectives to join concepts in novel ways. Not everyone has a natural ability to do this, we need to move away from the idea that creativity resides in the fingertips,” she said. “Creativity is a brain process and so in order to be creative, particularly in times of crisis or emergency, we need to be alert to changes in the situation, to be problem identifiers rather than problem solvers, be able to make good decisions quickly, have good communication, teamwork and leadership skills as well as the ability to stay calm and alert simultaneously.

“To answer the question, creative minds tend to react to crisis and emergencies calmly and decisively, drawing on a range of people they know to be creative thinkers also. They tolerate ambiguity and understand that the best they can hope for in the short term is to find the optimal solution. This will not be the only solution or even the best one possible. Once the crisis or emergency has passed, they review the processes to learn from them so they don’t repeat mistakes in future.”

First ‘Swappable Department Store’ Coming To New York City

Swapping is being taken to new heights this April, with what’s billed as the first “swappable department store” coming to New York City.

In a partnership announced today, Global Fashion Exchange is teaming with Walker Hotel — in its newly opened TriBeCa location — for its “SwapAteria” experience running April 22 to 30 from noon to 7 p.m. daily.

The experience is open to guests as well as the public to encourage swapping as a sustainable consumption behavior — a practice commonly relegated to more informal methods.

In each room or “swap closet,” there will be curated vintage collections and secondhand items from brands such as Gypsy Sport, Maison Murasaki, The Canvas, Now for Tomorrow, Carmen Gama and Carolina Bedoya: Make Aneew, among others.

GFX is being supported by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Brooklyn Style Foundation, New York Fair Trade Association and Fashion Revolution in the project, which includes a takeover of the second floor of the Walker Hotel TriBeCa (nearly 20 rooms in all).

“Our partnership with Walker Hotels is our first hotel partnership and furthers our mission to bring swapping to the masses, offering a unique opportunity to change how we engage with fashion,” said Patrick Duffy, founder of GFX.

The activation is powered by a real-time tracking system called the SwapChain, a blockchain-enabled data source in collaboration between tech platform Lablaco and GFX that shows the history of each garment featured in the closets. Guests are encouraged to sign up with a free account ahead of time. For goods swapped, guests will receive a token taking into account item condition, retail price and craftsmanship. The token serves as currency for the swap and can be used for another item of equal value and swapped within the duration of the SwapAteria’s session. Items originally valued up to $149 earns one token, $150 to $499 earns two tokens, while $500 to $1,000 earns three tokens.

Brand is not king, as the SwapChain goods are still graded by human eye in real-time, aiming to level artisan goods with heavily marketed brands in an effort to “dismantle value.”

But Duffy offered reassurance — “You’re not going to go into Bruce [Weldyn]’s closet and swap a T-shirt for a Balenciaga bag. There’s levels there.”

“As a retailer I thrive to drive full-price sales. Margin is priority, and to protect margin you have to present the dream and sell the dream,” said Bruce Weldyn, a seasoned store director for the likes of David Yurman and Gucci. He is setting up a swap shop with an all-black theme since the color dominates his wardrobe. “I would like to walk away from this event at the Walker with a full understanding and recommendations to retailers of how to successfully pair full-price sales with fashion sustainability.”

How does a boutique Art Deco hotel chain get into swapping in such a big way — handing over the keys to several rooms that can be reconfigured at each artist’s discretion? The choice is a push for sustainability and “experience-driven hospitality,” in the words of Atit Jariwala, founder and chief executive officer of Bridgeton Holdings (Walker Hotel TriBeCa, Walker Hotel Greenwich Village, Marram Montauk).

SwapAteria is one of many new Earth Month initiatives to get Walker Hotel guests excited again after the lull of the pandemic (in which the chain’s Greenwich Village location was closed for months from March to summer). The hotel chain is also doing activations like a locals-led city tour highlighting community members and essential workers, a creatives meet-and-greet and custom in-room CBD.

“We definitely are really excited about this [SwapAteria partnership] right now, and we’d like to continue it, maybe even change up the hotels in different locations,” said Jariwala, who reached out to Duffy with the suggestion after they were introduced, inviting him to stay in the Walker during SwapAteria’s build-out, which is still underway.

Already, designers and consulting firms are questioning what comes after simply selling stuff. Ultimately, the experience aims to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in an effort to educate consumers about sustainable fashion and fair trade — anything else, as Duffy said, is extra fodder for experimentation.

“Forever, I’ve been banging on the door for swapping and sustainability.…As soon as we added the data component, the [SwapChain] — that’s when things started to take off,” said Duffy who believes SwapAteria, although experimental in nature, could become a “blueprint for retailers in the future.”

Jacquemus To Open Flower Pop-Up Store For A Week In Paris

Jacquemus is opening a pop-up flower shop in Paris for the sole purpose of selling bouquets — for a week.

“I have always dreamed of having a Jacquemus flower boutique,” said Simon Porte Jacquemus. The designer noted he was also interested in sharing something other than clothing in the current context. French officials last week announced a partial lockdown to stem surging coronavirus cases, ordering shops to shut across the country.

Priced at 30 euros a bouquet, bunches of ranunculus will be wrapped in fabrics from past collections, and sold exclusively online — available for pickup at the store, in click-and-collect fashion or delivered to locations in Paris. Situated in the city’s northern 18th arrondissement, the store’s exact address will be provided when online orders are made, to avoid too much traffic.

The store will be staffed by sales people from the brand’s shops — which are shut due to the lockdown measures.

The flowers come from Les Fleurs de Paul, run by the Abeille family in the south of France, who cultivate seasonal flowers. The digital communications agency Yoann & Marco was also involved with the project.

Pre-orders start March 26, and the store runs from March 27 to April 3.

The temporary shop comes at a time when brands are casting around for new ways to connect with consumers during the pandemic. Jacquemus, who has held fashion shows on a beach in the South of France and in a wheat field, has also been involved in the restaurant business — the designer opened a café and a restaurant, serving Mediterranean-style food, in the Galeries Lafayette Champs-Élysées store.

Ted Baker Becomes First Fashion Brand With A ‘Club’ On Clubhouse

The British label is launching a branded-content series on the audio-only platform hosted by Abraxas Higgins, an active Clubhouse user with 370,000 followers on the app. Ted Baker has six talks scheduled with Higgins, where the hour-long conversations will discuss the intersection of British culture and fashion. Guests like artists Greta Bellamacina and Kojey Radical, both of whom appeared in Ted Baker’s most recent campaign, will participate in the discussions.

”We see Clubhouse as an opportunity to experiment with new and innovative digital formats and develop our cultural capital,” said Jennifer Roebuck, Ted Baker chief customer officer, in a statement.

Although Clubhouse, which is still invite-only, has been growing rapidly since it launched in beta last year, brands have not been officially allowed to join the platform — until now. “Clubs” are groups on the platform that users can follow, and Ted Baker’s “profile” on the platform will be in the form of a ‘club.’ Fashion and beauty brands, eager to get in on the action early, have been searching for the next crop of talent poised to be stars on Clubhouse while some founders themselves have actively participated in discussions. So far, the platform does not have advertising tools like those found on TikTok or Instagram.

Tiffany Taps Architect Peter Marino For Flagship

Now that Tiffany & Co. is part of the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton empire, the retailer has tapped the luxury giant’s go-to architect to polish its crown jewel.

Peter Marino has reportedly taken over the renovation of Tiffany’s Fifth Avenue flagship, putting his touches on the jeweler’s plans to make a statement commensurate with the store’s long history and place in American luxury retailing, WWD has learned.

But it might take a little while longer for the project to come together.

While Tiffany unveiled plans to remake the store in 2018 and closed the location down in January 2020, pandemic-related delays already prompted the company to push the completion date back to spring 2022 instead of the fourth quarter of this year. Now, one source said it looks like Christmas 2022 or early 2023 are more likely.

The source said that, under previous management, the company had scaled back some of its plans for the store due to budgetary constraints. Those constraints don’t seem as constraining after the company’s $15.8 billion acquisition by the deep-pocketed LVMH (after a contentious fight over Tiffany’s value that nearly scuttled the deal and prompted a price cut).

The 10-story building at 727 Fifth Avenue served as inspiration for Truman Capote’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and had an iconic movie star moment in the book’s film adaptation with Audrey Hepburn.

Reed Krakoff, Tiffany’s chief artistic officer until the acquisition, and former chief executive officer Alessandro Bogliolo kicked off the renovation and moved the business to temporary digs at the “Tiffany Flagship Next Door” at 6 East 57th Street.

When the remake was first revealed, Bogliolo told Wall Street: “Fifth Avenue and 57th Street in Manhattan is perhaps one of the most important luxury intersections in the world, and our flagship store is arguably one of the most iconic and recognized retail destinations in the world. While the flagship has undergone several renovations since its opening in 1940, the last of which was completed more than 15 years ago, our clients now call for much more: a transformation that is aimed to delight our customers.”

Now the high-profile renovation will be overseen by Anthony Ledru, CEO, and Alexandre Arnault, the second-eldest son of LVMH chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault and Tiffany’s executive vice president, product and communications — with some help from Marino.

Ralph Lauren’s Old Hollywood SS21 Film, Featuring Janelle Monáe

For his spring/summer 2021 collection, Ralph Lauren made his digital show debut with a silver screen experience starring Janelle Monáe.

The collection film featured a performance by Janelle Monáe

“Once upon a time, we gathered,” Janelle Monáe said as she took to the stage in Ralph Lauren’s collection film for spring/summer 2021. “We danced, we loved, we laughed,” she continued. “And we looked good.” Because the master of American timeless elegance has been absent through the past year of digital shows, Lauren’s return to the show scene felt like being thrown a post-lockdown lifeline. Over 20 minutes of pure Casablanca-style black and white glamour, his short film – featuring a classic performance by Monáe – was a reminder that some things never change. Ralph Lauren is a safe haven – a steadfast source of contentment when you most need it – and an everlasting wardrobe that feels even more desirable in a time of turmoil and resets.

The film evoked Lauren’s last show before the pandemic

In September 2019, Monáe performed in Ralph Lauren’s last live show at New York Fashion Week. Looking back at it over the past year, the evening was one of those experiences that sometimes feel like a dream. Watching Monáe sing Frank Sinatra’s All or Nothing at All in the spring/summer 2021 film was an almost surreal transportation back to that night in Ralph’s Club in New York, white-clad waiters serving martinis, and a few Hollywood megastars at the table next to you. Lauren drew a parallel between our post-pandemic memories and the way we look back on Old Hollywood today. “I’ve always loved the romance of black and white movies, [and this] brings that spirit of timeless glamour to life,” he said.

The collection felt distinctly comforting

Despite the silver screen atmosphere, this wasn’t an escapist collection of ballroom things that feel foreign to our current mindset. On the contrary, Lauren did what he does best: a women’s and men’s wardrobe fitted to our best versions of ourselves. It was the kind of daywear that makes your posture a little bit better, your manners a little nicer, and your mood a lot better. Through his Casablanca lens, Lauren eased his classic sartorial wardrobe in fit and contemporised it in fabrication: a handsomely cut Prince of Wales blazer for women looked positively comfy, while a three-piece suit for men was rendered in soft chambray. Trousers bordered on the slouchy – ever so louche – and shift dresses and jumpsuits felt dressy in an unchallenging way.

Ralph Lauren has been a super purveyor of lockdown dressing

“It is an expression of personal style that is modern, yet enduring,” Lauren said of the collection, with words that could describe his entire legacy. Much has been said about our shopping habits during lockdown. Few designers have ticked as many of the boxes we’ve desired as Lauren has. From the sportswear of his Polo brand to the countrywear of the RRL line and the casual luxury of his main collection, Lauren’s universe so brilliantly encompasses the “essential” and “investment” wardrobe we’ve all been talking about during the confinement period. Coming out of it, you can imagine we’ll turn to him for further guidance, too.

Was the film a nod to a brighter future?

The dichotomy between Lauren and Monáe’s film for spring/summer 2021 and the live performance they staged in New York in 2019 is interesting. Looking ahead to a new and hopefully more physical era of fashion presentations, perhaps there’s a trilogy in the making here.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Comme Des Garçons’ Serenely Monochrome A/W '21 Show

For autumn/winter 2021, Rei Kawakubo portrayed our post-lockdown ambivalence in an opulently restrained Comme des Garçons collection. British Vogue’s fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen brings you five things to know about the collection.

Rei Kawakubo called for “monochrome serenity”

After a year of lockdowns, the big reset we all talked about last summer has turned into reforms: loud and important social movements and debates on the internet, the news, and occasionally the streets, too. As it turns out, what mankind needed wasn’t a year of peace and quiet but a roaring revolution. While we’ve spent our “time off” wisely, our year of change has generated a desire for a different kind of reset – a deep breath before we step back into the real world. “Amidst the incessant overflowing of miscellaneous things, the deluge of colour, the flooding of sound and the inundation of information,” Rei Kawakubo wrote in her Comme des Garçons show notes, “I needed to take one breath in the monochrome serenity.”

The collection mirrored the present through Victorian glasses

Kawakubo reflected the mindset of the present day through that of another era: the codes of the Victorian age, a wardrobe informed by ideas of modesty and restraint attributed to mourning dress, but equally as reactive to the mechanical oversaturation and high-speed progress that fuelled the Industrial Revolution. In a different time of progress, perhaps we can mirror ourselves in Queen Victoria’s restrained opulence, as deconstructed by Kawakubo. In that sense, the collection didn’t reflect the idea of the “wardrobe reset” many designers toyed with during last month’s fashion weeks, but a more romantic notion of resetting, founded in the hyper-expression that embodies Kawakubo’s mastodon silhouettes.

Kawakubo deconstructed Victorian dress codes

Kawakubo exercised her psychological tension between grandiosity and restraint in monochrome super shapes that magnified and mutinied the properties of the Victorian wardrobe. A black gentleman’s cape morphed with a white petticoat and manifested in a mega-wrap. The black tulle layers of a full skirt inverted upwards and formed an orb dress that enclosed around the neck. A frilly white men’s shirt expanded into a dress with sleeves so long and wide they formed its skirt. The white underpinnings of a gigot-sleeved dress inflated into a supersized puff piece like a huge popcorn. And a white lumps-and-bumps creation that bore memories of breeches was scrawled with graffiti, expressing a sense of revolution.

It reflected a year of contrasts

Presented in Tokyo on a stormy studio backdrop with white smoke curling at the models’ feet, there was a certain amount of drama to Kawakubo’s “monochrome serenity”. In years to come – in a hopefully pandemic-free future – her collection will serve as a memory of how this odd moment in time felt: the big mishmash of ambivalent emotions that reigns as we prepare to re-emerge after a year of lockdowns. But her fusion of storms and serenity was also an apt image of that year’s weird contrasts, what with all of us being trapped in the comfort of our own homes, baking and Zooming, while outside, the world is changing.

It featured hats by Ibrahim Kamara

The deconstructed top hats featured in the collection were created by Ibrahim Kamara alongside Kawakubo, marking another milestone for the stylist (and newly appointed editor of Dazed), whose distinct and striking work has had brands including Virgil Abloh’s Louis Vuitton, Off-White, Burberry, Erdem, Philosophy and the young designer Maximilian Davis calling upon him to style their shows this season.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Seven Times Cult Films Inspired The Runway

The feedback loop between fashion and film is, at times, more of a scribble than a clean circle. From Yves Saint Laurent’s costume design for Belle du Jour to Miuccia Prada’s offering in the soon-to-be-released The United States vs. Billie Holiday, cinema frequently enlists favours from the fashion world. In turn, designers untack moments from the silver screen and pin them to their moodboards, patchworking together collections made up of rich filmic references.

Almost every season, we see cinema’s mise-en-scene reconstituted through the eyes of a designer and while this is usually subtle – a wallpaper print, a score, a scene’s colour palette – it’s key to uncovering the kernels of meaning burrowed deep within a collection. More Mubi than Netflix, these references tend to circuit back to movieland’s chinstrokey, cult classics. See Salvatore Ferragamo, who this season, built a collection indebted to Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke’s uniforms in the 1997 sci-fi classic, Gattaca. For AW21, Ferragamo’s creative director, Paul Andrew, proposed “a new uniform for our new world”, made up of colours like “boy-scout green, janitor brown, girl-guide mauve, and cheerleader pink”.

While often reduced to an aside in show notes, these cult-crossovers are not only proof of fashion’s polyphonic set of influences but are testament to a designer's capacity to melt down pre-existing worlds and remould them under a new, future vision. After all, a designer’s universe spans further than just clothing and the interrelationship between film and fashion is only the beginning. Below, we take a further look at some of the traces that cult cinema has left on the runway.


Tony Scott’s horny vampire flick The Hunger was the subject of Alexander McQueen’s SS96 show. In the film, an icey David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve romp about, feeding on the blood of goths and luring hopeless victims into sex-fuelled death traps.

It was this almost comedic level of blood lust that was translated onto the McQueen catwalk. Models staggered onto the runway like drunken revellers, writhing in grotesque shapes and flipping off the front row. Shirts were stained with bloody handprints, claw-slashed tops and spliced trews came together like gaping wounds, and transparent bustiers were sent out filled with real life worms.


Alessandro Michele’s dreamy-kitsch Gucci cacophonies are often compared to the light-headed cinematic world of Wes Anderson. Yet no character features quite as heavily as The Royal Tenanbaum’s Margot Tenenbaum.

As part of Gucci’s AW15 show, Michele’s first as creative director, the designer sent out a series of doppelgängers of the chain-smoking ingenue, complete with blonde bob, vintage-looking fur coats, and moneyed loafers. Then, as part of his SS17 collection, the designer turned out the same blood orange zebra print that covered the walls of Margot Tenenbaum’s bedroom. If the Margot clones of AW15 were too heavy-handed, then this was so niche it almost passed off as just another garish Gucci print.


For SS17, Jeremy Scott sent out a parade of life-size paper dolls, honouring the classic novel turned 1967 film Valley of the Dolls. Now, we’ve come to expect trompe l’oeil as part and parcel of the camp revelry that is a Moschino show, but this collection took it to a whole new level – every crease and every fold of fabric had been printed on, and as models turned, they exposed stark white, 2D backs as if every garment had been cut out of a stencil.

Within the film, the word “doll” is used interchangeably with “pill”, as the protagonists reach for prescription meds to numb the pain of their lives. Accordingly, the invitation for Scott’s show was actually a prescription pill bottle, filled with placebos, and a scrawled doctor's note. Dresses, too, came laden with kitsch pill motifts. Hammering home these references were the stiff paper tabs, which cut a dramatic silhouette as they stuck out of clothing, as if they were to be folded back and clipped onto a retro child’s toy.


As cult films go, The Night Porter sits high within fashion’s pantheon of references. A particular mention goes to Gareth Pugh, whose AW17 collection featured a look so overt in influence, that it could have been a screenshot from the film itself – particularly its flashback sequence where the film’s lead serenades a smoky jazz club, wearing only trousers, suspenders, and an SS cap.

Pugh’s collection was laced with allusions to Liliana Cavani’s controversial Nazi BDSM nightmare: there were black leather trenches, peaked caps, billowing capes, arm bands, and gloves, which dangled heavy sets of prison keys. It was menacing and uncomfortable, a comment on the (increasingly far right) structures of Trumpian power and abuse.


The visceral 1981 drama, Christiane F. – We children from Bahnhof Zoo, has been a constant reference point within Raf Simons’ body of work. First for AW01, where the film’s poster had been tacked onto clothing like DIY band merch, and then later for AW18, which took the gritty classic as its creative stimulus.

Set in a train station in former West Berlin, Uli Edel’s seminal film journals the true story of a 13-year-old tearaway’s descent into drug abuse and heroin addiction. The exploration of the film’s adolescent protagonists, whose sullen faces were printed onto shirts, coat patches, and jean pockets demonstrates Raf’s proclivity to subvert the tropes of youth culture and mine the darkest corners of the human psyche.


For AW19, Julien Dossena, Paco Rabanne’s creative director, sought inspiration from the monumental Mulholland Drive. Directed by David Lynch, the film follows the life of a young woman who, after surviving a car crash along Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood Hills, is left with complete memory loss. From there, a surreal, neo-noir narrative emerges, tracking the character’s efforts to fit the pieces of her mystery life back together.

The film speaks to the corruption of Hollywood, which Lynch presents as some merciless beast with a bottomless hunger for profit and power. In response, Dossena imagined the show’s setting as a “dream hotel lobby”, a wonderland where “everyone you want to meet passes by”. Here, art deco prints collide with animal stripes across decadent gowns, capturing a very Lynchian sense of glamour disrupted. And above the catwalk hangs fluorescent chandeliers, looming as if they could collapse at any given moment.


From A Clockwork Orange, to 2001: A Space Odyssey, to The Shining, Jun Takahashi’s back catalogue of Undercover collections read like an anthology of cult film classics.

For AW19, the Japanese designer leafed through its pages and picked out Suspiria. Not the 1977 Dario Argento movie, but its 2018 Luca Guadagnino remake, which, despite being a full hour longer than the original, tells the same, unsettling story of a Berlin dance company-cum-coven. In fact, Takahashi even approached Guadagnino about using stills from the film as part of the collection. The result? Lurid scenes and characters screen printed on trapeze dresses and blouson hoodies. Tilda Swinton stood emblazoned on a knee length coat. Truly styles to unite the arthouse and the hypebeast.

Supreme x HYSTERIC GLAMOUR Spring 2021 Collaboration

Following the release of its latest HYSTERIC GLAMOUR team-up last week, Supreme has now unveiled a Spring 2021 collaboration with The North Face. This time around the duo has readied a rock stud print in black, red and blue to mark signature TNF styles.

The collection features a Nuptse Jacket, Nuptse Vest, Nuptse Pant and Nuptse Blanket expressing the print with water-resistant, breathable nylon with 700-Fill down insulation, while the Mountain Light Jacket features waterproof, breathable and fully seam-sealed DryVent® nylon. Continuing to showcase the all-over print is the water-resistant 1000D PVC Camp Duffle Bag, Utility Tote with water-resistant 1000D poly with PVC coating and recycled P.E.T. ripstop upper Traction Mule with ThermoBall™ Eco insulation and durable rubber outsole.

Finishing up the Spring 2021 collection is a hoodie and T-shirt that expresses an image of a climber decked in TNF scaling an icy mountain. Each piece found in the range is also marked with the usual Supreme and The North Face branding.

The Supreme x The North FaceSpring 2021 collaboration will see a global release, available via the streetwear imprint’s website on March 25, 11 a.m. EDT in the United States and March 27, 11 a.m. JST in Japan.

Brooklyn Beckham Directs, Snaps And Stars In Pepe Jeans Campaign

Pepe Jeans London has tapped a Londoner, Brooklyn Beckham, to highlight its efforts in water conservation — and to promote its ambitions in the digital and social media space.

Pepe Jeans, a division of the Spanish group AWWG, today will unveil phase one of a two-year collaboration with the eldest son of Victoria and David Beckham, a photographer who counts 12.2 million Instagram followers, and who’s set to marry the American actress Nicola Peltz.

Beckham, who is the photographer and creative director behind the Wiser Future campaign, has snapped himself wearing Pepe denim at the beach.

Brooklyn Beckham has inked a two-year deal with Pepe Jeans.

The campaign also features a video made separately by the Los Angeles-based photographer and director Zhamak Fullad. The video plays with reflections created by frameless mirrors in various environments.

In an interview via email, Marcella Wartenbergh, chief executive officer of Pepe, and a former Calvin Klein and Calvin Klein Europe executive, said the campaign was “just the first chapter of what we are confident will be a fruitful and exciting two-year partnership between Brooklyn and Pepe Jeans London.”

Wartenbergh said that when Pepe Jeans and Beckham started talking, “Brooklyn was interested in authentically expressing his photography creativity, and his interest for sustainability. Our vision and priorities were aligned from the beginning, so the partnership developed quite organically.

“Brooklyn is a true and relevant icon of his generation. For this collaboration, we seek to leverage the heritage of Pepe Jeans London with the fresh and modern approach adopted by Brooklyn’s creative endeavors focused on photography.”

In the campaign, Beckham has taken pictures of himself by the ocean, with help from a frameless mirror. He is wearing pieces from Pepe’s collection that were made using the trademarked Wiser Wash process.

Beckham said the campaign is about “trying to bring attention to the precious commodity that water is. It is the most precious element we have along with the air we breathe, isn’t it? At the same time, we wanted to show the progress [Pepe] has made in figuring out how to use very little water, and almost half the amount of energy for the production of denim.”

Wiser Wash is a technology that substantially reduces the amount of water used in denim production, according to Pepe. It uses one cup of water for de-coloring a pair of jeans, versus 16 liters for a traditional wash. No toxic chemicals are involved in the process.

Beckham also offered up his own tips for conserving water, including “turn it off while you brush your teeth, measure your water for tea before you heat it up,” and turn off the taps “while you are washing up in the shower. Do not let it run.”

The campaign images, social-first videos, and behind-the-scenes content will continue to roll out across Pepe Jeans London’s social channels and media partners, from Monday until Earth Day on April 22.

Wartenbergh said Pepe began working with Wiser Wash technology in 2018, “and our goal is that, by 2022, one of every three jeans in our Pepe Jeans London collections will be sold as Wiser Wash. At AWWG, we’re very excited to be part of such a revolutionary process for our industry and our planet.”

She added that the group as a whole is “constantly looking for ways to improve sustainability across all our business activities, whether that be in design, production, supply chain or in retail stores. We are working very hard with all the teams to establish 2025 objectives that are real, and achievable. We want goals that we are able to deliver and grow.”

AWWG, she said, will be launching sustainability platforms across all of its brands, and there will be more initiatives to come ahead of Earth Day.

AWWG was founded in 2006 by the Spanish businessman Carlos Ortega, and its stable of brands includes Hackett and Façonnable. The group, formerly known as Pepe Jeans, is based between Barcelona and Madrid.

Asked about the impact of COVID-19 on business, Wartenbergh said that with stores closed, the company saw a 200 percent spike in e-commerce sales. AWWG has 238 owned stores, a presence in 54 countries and 2,800 employees.

She added that digital engagement is now a priority.

“Consumers want a different relationship with brands nowadays, and we are now truly connecting with them via social media and digital channels. Social media is the most inspiring way to connect with consumers, not just by posting, but via real engagement. We’re investing a lot of resources, financial and non-financial,” in connecting with customers online.

Wartenbergh said that, over the last 12 months, the company has shifted 85 percent of its marketing strategies to be digital-first through a whole host of different channels.

Serpenti Charmer—Mary Katrantzou Turns Her Imagination To Bulgari’s Most Famous Icon

Mary Katrantzou’s romance with Bulgari began with a bang. The Italian jewelry company loaned its high jewelry for the fashion show the Greek-born, London-based designer staged at Athens’s Temple of Poseidon in October of 2019. The ancient monument, the couture gowns, the Aegean Sea spread out below—it was a spectacular occasion purpose-built to give back. The ticketed event raised funds for the Elpida Association, a children’s cancer charity.

It was no one night stand, either. Together Bulgari and Katrantzou have created a new group of handbags inspired by the jeweler’s most famous icon: the Serpenti. “We felt there was a strong synergy and mutual appreciation, so when they invited me to collaborate on accessories it felt like a natural continuation,” Katrantzou says. What’s remarkable is just how tactile the pieces are considering that all the development took place under COVID lockdowns—i.e. entirely remotely between Bulgari’s Roman headquarters and Katrantzou’s temporary home base in Athens.

Katrantzou’s affection for bijoux has been obvious since her earliest days on the London runways. For her fall 2010 collection she collaged photographic images of all manner of gems. Her spring 2014 evening numbers were dripping in Maison Lesage embroidery, and her fall 2018 showstopper was a richly jeweled Renaissance portrait jacket. As she began work on this collaboration, “the first important thing was to understand what Serpenti meant to me,” Katrantzou says. “It’s a symbol that dates back to ancient Greek and Roman mythology, but its strongest symbolism to me is its power to transform—the way it sheds its skin to allow for growth. These ideas of evolution, rebirth, transformation—especially in the times we are in—felt very relevant. I wanted to look at Serpenti and see how we can amplify it as a symbol.”

Those investigations helped produce the new collection’s hero piece: a Serpenti head minaudière with crystals for eyes, a forked tongue clasp, and each individual scale hand-painted in enamel. It’s more jewel than handbag. Katrantzou fancies displaying hers on a side table or mantle, a treasured objet. The collection also includes nappa leather handbags with S-shaped Serpenti handles and another style featuring an embroidered mosaic that combines a coiling snake with a kaleidoscope of butterflies requiring 40 hours of hand work—metamorphosis in action.

Modeling it all is Natalia Vodianova wearing bespoke jeweled bodysuits Katrantzou made specially for the Hugo Comte-lensed photo shoot. Should Bulgari get into the clothing category those second-skin pieces would be a brilliant start. The model’s participation brings the charitable aspect of Katrantzou and jewelry house’s work full circle; Bulgari will be donating a portion of proceeds from sales of the bags to Vodianova’s Naked Heart Foundation.

It’s been nearly a year-and-a-half since Katrantzou’s monumental Temple of Poseidon show. She appreciated the slower pace and the care that went into developing this Bulgari project, and has been thinking about ways to incorporate some of that consideration into her own process. “To be able to see the prototyping, how many times it can be done, what attention to detail can be given, how it feels to work on a collaboration for a year instead of two months—it was very encouraging to think about as a creator. How you want to spend your time? And how you want to apply your own creativity? I felt like the right collaboration for the right moment in time.” Katrantzou has plans to present another couture collection in July. The details are still coming together, but she says it too is “inspired by the idea of metamorphosis.” Expect more butterflies and Serpenti.

The capsule collection will be available in selected Bvlgari boutiques worldwide and on from April 15. Online pre-orders will start from March 21st.

Burberry To Partner With Elle Digital Japan To Launch Virtual Store

The virtual and interactive experience will replicate the brand’s flapship Ginza store and will serve as a space to present its Spring/Summer 2021 collection. Customers will be able to purchase items from the collection by selecting the digital items in store for one month, beginning from March 19. The experience will live exclusively on Elle Japan and Ellegirl Digital Japan’s websites.

Burberry is among the leading luxury players to have invested in digital innovation to merge digital and physical store spaces, with Louis Vuitton and Gucci also joining the market. As part of the new experience, Burberry has also collaborated with actress Elaiza Ikeda to create five styling videos which will appear throughout the virtual store and assist customer’s shopping experience.

Legendary Jewellery Designer, Model & Philanthropist Elsa Peretti Has Died

Elsa Peretti, designer, former model and philanthropist has died aged 80. One of the most influential jewellery designers of the 20th century, she was associated for more than 50 years with Tiffany, and her designs for the luxury brand became synonymous with the emergence of the modern working woman that no one represented better than herself. “Tiffany & Co. is deeply saddened by the passing of Elsa Peretti, famed jewellery designer for the House and member of the Tiffany family since 1974,” reads an official statement from the luxury brand. “A woman who was larger-than-life has touched everyone at Tiffany & Co. The relationships she created defined her. Elsa was not only a designer but a way of life.”

Peretti was born in 1940 to a wealthy, conservative family in Italy and ever the rebel, left aged 21 to pursue a life of independence. She began modelling in Barcelona before moving to New York in 1968 to further her career. It was in Manhattan that she found her natural home. She quickly became part of its buzzy social scene at a time of great societal change when women were fighting to take control of their lives, their careers and their bodies.

She started designing jewellery in 1969, first for fashion designer Giorgio di Sant’ Angelo and then for her great friend and fellow designer, Halston, for whom she also modelled alongside Pat Cleveland and Anjelica Houston.

 Last year marked half a century since her creation of the Bone cuff, arguably her most famous and most influential design. In a bold departure from other fine jewellery of the time, the now iconic bracelet ditched the diamonds and the gold, and conveyed both strength and sensuality in its every organic curve of polished silver. It, and her other minimalist designs for Tiffany such as Diamonds by the Yard, the Open Heart and the Bean pendants, have a timelessness that means they are just as relevant today as they were when first created. No wonder that they became a core part of Tiffany’s business. What is more, these powerful designs were often in silver, making them an affordable luxury to a vast audience of women eager to express themselves and at the same time transforming the way they wore jewellery.

“The words ‘legend’, ‘artist’, ‘icon’ aren’t really big enough to describe her. You really can’t underestimate her influence on 20th-century design,” says Frank Everett, senior vice president of jewellery at Sotheby’s New York. As well as being prolific as a designer, Peretti became the point at which two worlds collided. “She was the bridge between jewellery and fashion. Her pieces made the outfit. A silver perfume bottle on a long chord, that was the statement. Who cared about the clothes?” he says.

Peretti’s independence of spirit was essential to her success in carving her own path in a man’s world. Her boundary-breaking creativity and colourful, sometimes contradictory, statements meant that that world was always trying to keep up with her. For her self though, her later years demanded a greater simplicity. She lived for many years in Sant Martí Vell near Barcelona, a house that she bought in ruins in 1968 and which, together with the surrounding village, she spent many years restoring.

In 2000, she established a charity in her father’s name, which is now called the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation. It has a wide remit of supporting environmental, social welfare and arts initiatives, particularly in her beloved Catalonia. Her great humanity was summed up by Peretti herself in a 1991 film to celebrate her 50th birthday. “For me to be a good designer is the simplest thing in the world. But to be a good human being, that is going to be hard,” she said. “I’d like to try though.”

Friday, March 19, 2021

Olivier Theyskens - 'In Praesentia'

Hailed as "Sensual but not flashy, impactful but not provocative, modern but not opportunistic and creative beyond fashion", Olivier Theyskens is the Avant -Garde sartorial storyteller who develops the narrative of the ‘infinitesimal’ into an aesthetic poetry that becons its wearer into taking a loving look at beings and things.

The designer's imagination wants to search, scrutinise and probe every which element within his process. A specific cut, a juxtaposition of colours, an embroidered monogram, the rustle of fabric right down to the obscured world of his workshop - covered with graphite dust which plays host to the fragility and delicacy of the lace arabesques it gives passion to.


His 2019-20 exhibition ‘In Praesentia’ took his philosophy to Calais, the historic city of lace which bears home to the Cité de la Dentelle et de la Mode. This same vision fed his approach to the influences of the Moorish culture which was preserved by the City of Lace and Fashion - whether it was a textile collection or an industrial one. His second publication entitled ‘In Praesentia’, pays homage to the 11 key detail elements in which the collection is dedicated to.

About Olivier Theyskens

Born in 1977, Olivier Theyskens is a Belgian fashion designer of Normandy descent on his mother’s side. He made his debut in 1997 and, from his very first Parisian fashion show onwards, his precocious talent attracted international attention, in particular thanks to Madonna who wore one of his designs at the Oscars ceremony in 1998.

His reputation has grown inexorably throughout a career that has seen him embarking on numerous creative adventures, not only under his own brand name but also that of Rochas and Nina Ricci – those “sleeping beauties” of French couture he helped brilliantly to relaunch in the 2000's - or the American consumer brand Theory, which he infused with Parisian flair. Since 2016, Olivier Theyskens has been back on the French fashion scene with his eponymous label. In October 2017, the Antwerp Fashion Museum (MoMu) staged a retrospective exhibition devoted to the couturier’s twenty-year career, accompanied by the book She Walks in Beauty, published by Éditions Rizzoli.

'Olivier Theyskens designs with a singular style: a subtle combination of pursuit of freedom and a couture spirit, shot through by great artistic sensitivity and a constantly renewed insistence on technical perfection. Dubbed the “Gothic Prince” of fashion by the media, his aesthetic of sober romanticism is reflected, in particular, in his “dramatic” silhouettes which are often created in black, a colour he brings out in all its textures and values, in which lace is given an eminent place.' - Charles Daniel McDonald

Throughout his career, Olivier Theyskens has collaborated with artists, designing costumes for the rock group The Smashing Pumpkins, for the Théâtre de la Monnaie opera house in Brussels and for New York City Ballet. He dresses numerous celebrities and a cosmopolitan elite.

Beyond the realm of time-based modus operandi, rejecting conventional chronological retrospectives as overly explicit, this exhibition invites celebration, a celebration of vision and untrammelled thinking. Like a metaphor, In praesentia evokes the imaginary, sensory and visual correlation created within the context of this dialogue: on the one hand, a body of work built up over 20 years in a perpetual exploration of the mysterious world of apparel in all its intensity: shapes, textures, tonalities, construction, symbolism, movement, plasticity, appearance; and on the other hand, collections standing silently in the museum’s reserves for 10 years, works bearing that patina of time that epitomises our poetic relationship with history.

'Sensual but not flashy, forceful but not provocative, modern but not opportunistic, creative above and beyond fashion, Olivier Theyskens regards objects and beings with affection, teasing out the poetry of infinitesimal detail which inspires his creativity. This same vision nourishes his approach to the works held by the museum, textile collections and industrial collections both, witnesses to the rich history of lace in Calais.' - Charles Daniel McDonald

The designer’s gaze delves, scrutinises, probes, passes from one thing to the next: a particular fold, an unexpected combination of colours, a minuscule detail, an embroidered monogram, the rustling of a fabric, the sombre world of the workshop covered in graphite dust, the fragility and delicacy of the lace arabesques it brings forth from its workings. Worlds collide, interact, melt together and complete one another through enchantment and delight. The museum thus becomes a place of creation, a matrix that fosters new associations, generates novel scenarios... so many poetic scenes reviving forgotten or neglected objects imbued in an ephemeral former glory, rich treasures of the collective memory.

Occupying the contemporary exhibition gallery and the preceding atrium, the exhibition is presented as a series of autonomous sequences of varying size and featuring differing colours and lighting ambiances. Each is staged as a photo shoot highlighting a central subject, accompanied by complementary pieces drawn from both Olivier Theyskens’ archives and the textile and industrial collections of the Museum for Lace and Fashion. Organised around universal themes recurrent in the work of Theyskens, these sequences simultaneously invite reflection and aesthetic delight, casting a fresh eye on the works featured.

On Black

Often called the “Gothic Prince Of Fashion” early in his career, in particular for his taste for black silhouettes, Olivier Theyskens stands out for the sophistication of his choices which, far from being anodyne, allow him to express a rich palette of emotions and aesthetic obsessions, this colour being so shot-through with contradictory meanings: melancholy, mourning, seduction, sexuality.

It is clearly not by chance that the only “historical” piece ever acquired by Olivier Theyskens, as a study piece and on show here for the first time, is a nineteenth century black bodice in silk satin and lace, embroidered with jet. In it, we see the juxtaposition of differing values of black, qualities that we appreciate in Theyskens numerous offerings; he aptly exploits their effects of brilliance and reflections, vibrations, reliefs or shadows. All sensations that contribute to the creation of a certain dramaturgy in appearance.

For example, we note the effect of surprise created by the hair (blond) embroidered on the back of a black wool trouser suit (summer 1999), and also the vibration achieved by the application of matching drops on a dress in silk gazar embroidered with dots (Autumn-Winter 2006-2007), designed for Rochas. In complete contrast, the brutalist coat in astrakhan, sleeveless, worn over a boned collar and wide silk trousers from the first collection (Spring-Summer 1998), aptly connects with a curious long 1970s skirt in astrakhan and broad flounces of black lace from the collections of the Museum of Lace and Fashion.

On Material

Developing a passion for all materials from a very young age, Olivier Theyskens felt his first aesthetic flutters when he was able to handle the textile treasures amassed at his grandparents’ farm in Normandy. Taking pleasure in fabrics, the variety of their falls, the curiosity about materials… these were already there, like the childish propensity to dress up, to dream for oneself the life of a princess, seated in majesty, an ample cape over one’s shoulders, cushions securely held at the waist forming an archaic crinoline.

At a very early age he understood the close symbiosis between a fabric and the movement it guides, in order to shape it. The material imposes a certain way of doing things, a specific cutting technique, as if dictating a precise arrangement of the folds, drapes and movement of the fabric. Two ensembles in silk leather satin (Autumn/Winter 2001-2002), made up of a draped stand-up collar blouse and a skirt with folded swathes requiring no less than 20 metres of silk, give the measure of this complex construction, this ingenious design thinking, where it might suggest a spontaneous, organic-looking drapery.

On The Train

Reminiscences of his fascination for the peacock, that magnificent bird invested with contradictory symbolisms, whose tail forms something like a beautiful train, the nineteenth century fashion plates collected for him by his Normandy grandmother, set the fantasies of Olivier Theyskens’ childhood. Contemplation of these images of voluminous dresses from the Victorian era, whose volume appeared even more extraordinary compared with the tiny waist supporting it, and the diffuse sensation of fragility and magnitude it created, were to be a permanent inspiration for the designer’s imagination.

Among the pieces most emblematic of this twinning with the past which Theyskens engages in, are the ensemble in blue moiré silk taffeta (AutumnWinter 2000-2001) photographed by Steven Meisel for Vogue USA in July 2000 or, from the previous season, this second ensemble in earth-coloured taffeta and organdie: two silhouettes whose spirit echoes with the two crinoline dresses conserved by the Museum of Lace and Fashion dating from the 1860s. “As a child, a wide crinoline represented for me an absolute dream and the ultimate in beauty,” Olivier Theyskens explains, “A very beautiful crinoline, precisely proportioned, allows the achievement of an ideal of grace and beauty, akin to a fashion plate.” So it is in seeking this fascinating magnitude, a sort of abstract composition, that the necessity for the corset is formed so intuitively, like a structure, an essential anchor point.

On Bias

Bias work continues to constitute a real challenge for those seeking to explore its qualities: quasi-organic, constantly in motion, it requires time to be fully expressed. Attempting to make the fabric fall softly, Olivier Theyskens approached bias as an autodidact, intuitively grasping the challenges of the law of gravity that deforms the fabric, testing its limits and overcoming the difficulties.

His first attempts appeared in the Summer 1999 collection, with a snail-shaped cut in which volumes were stretched, creating action and tension. The first successful dress saw the light of day in 2000, in beige silk crêpe with floating tails. From that time on, the bias-cut dress became a classic element in Theyskens’s vocabulary, that of technical know-how generating the appearance of motion, a femininity assumed yet without aggression. A final milestone was to be reached with the first collection designed for Nina Ricci in the winter of 2007, all spirals inspired by L’Air du Temps, the brand’s iconic perfume bottle; on that occasion, Theyskens explored all the plasticity of bias, enthusiastically walking in the footsteps of Vionnet, his guardian figure.

On Trompe-l’œil

Even when he ventures into the register of history, as in his Summer 2002 collection, the restitution of historical truth, the display of customary erudition is never a goal pursued by Olivier Theyskens. Rather than showing the beauty of the shapes of the past, he prefers to question the fleeting impressions stored in his memory, which immediately merge with his own idea of which is beautiful. The dream world is quite clearly more inspiring than the real world... and we can understand the shock felt by this dreamer when his vision of fabulous, immense trained gowns “à la James Tissot” was confronted for the first time with the tangible reality of bustle dresses seen in an exhibition of historical costumes. An alternative reality, much narrower and of prosaic proportions... a rude awakening from his dream!


His vision shaken, the artist was to rise above his feeling of disappointment some years later by designing some astonishing bustle dresses in the summer of 2002: clinging to the body in the form of a bustier, perfectly executed but in narrowed proportions, revealing “faux cul” dresses in trompe-l’œil style, beautiful for their melancholic strangeness.

On The House Of Rochas

A prodigious designer, reputed for his mastery of every step in the chain of production of a garment, possessing an innate sense of couture with no academic training other than his own technical explorations through every stage of his precocious career, until the age of twenty-four Theyskens remained based in Brussels, where he established his activities. In 2002, he moved to Paris, taking on the challenge of the house of Rochas, one of the “sleeping beauties” being encouraged back into life at that time in the early twenty-first century. In fact, for the first time he was entering the inner circle of historical fashion houses run by artistic directors, enlightened mercenaries of whom miracles were expected.

A particular alchemy came into existence: the post War world of haute couture, expressed by Marcel Rochas around a femininity that heralded profound aesthetic changes, merged with the intimate imaginary work of a designer, as if he had long prepared for this utterly exceptional experience. Olivier Theyskens explored and magnified Marcel Rochas’s affinity for Chantilly lace, an evocation of sensual and sophisticated femininity. Here, lace - duly rehabilitated, its every quality exploited - enters into dialogue with some of the label’s historic finery: 1950s gloves and bra conserved by the Museum of Lace and Fashion.

On Lace

Olivier Theyskens came to lace through the old coupons and ribbons he found in the family attics. In fact, it occupied a prime place from his very earliest collections, in the summer and winter of 1998. Eroticising a falsely ingénue appearance in ivory tones, or delivering a corseted torso, bare under its opaque transparency. Elsewhere, enhancing an embroidery with a heart motif, even acting as a stencil to decorate a jacket with an aerosol spray. Or making up a sleeveless dress, with a Medusa-like appearance generated by an impressive number of patiently assembled narrow ribbons.

A material loved for its nobility and the complexity and ingenuity involved in its creation, lace is also appreciated in the context of its unusual manufacture, somewhere between art and craft and industry. Theyskens retains an awed and astonished memory of the contrast between its characteristic lightness, delicacy and femininity and the roughness of its conditions of production - from the power of the action of the Leavers looms to the blackness of the graphite that covers everything with its clinging dust, not to mention the sound universe in which the ear of the designer imagines hearing a few notes of Ravel’s Bolero.

'The designer's imagination wants to search, scrutinise and probe every which element within his process. A specific cut, a juxtaposition of colours, an embroidered monogram, the rustle of fabric right down to the obscured world of his workshop - covered with graphite dust which plays host to the fragility and delicacy of the lace arabesques it gives passion to.' - Charles Daniel McDonald

Antique laces apart, Theyskens forges particular relationships with some historical lace-makers: Marco Lagattolla in Italy for its silk laces, Sophie Hallette in Caudry, in particular for reviving the iconic design of the Rochas house, but also Darquer in Calais, the lace-making region’s oldest company, founded in 1840. Brought out of the museum’s reserves, a Belle Époque period petticoat, a visiting cape embellished with jet and 1930s gowns designed by the great names of Paris haute couture complete the tableau dedicated to the subtle art of the arabesque.

On The Motif

Stripes, checks, dots, more seldom flowers, the motif according to Theyskens obeys a highly precise logic that is connected with the structure, the texture and the general look of the garment. Among the most iconic pieces demonstrating this art of composition is the Medieval-inspired gown in red striped cotton canvas, worn by Mylène Farmer in the video clip from 1999 of “Je te rends ton amour”, part of which was censored for television.

Also of note are the trousers in striped damask with a coordinating shirt cut from a linen serviette which, with its embroidered monogram, connects with a series of 1900s cotton stockings with red edgings and embroidered initials held in the collections of the Museum of Lace and Fashion. Another piece worthy of mention is notable for its subject, being one of the very few in Theyskens’ body of work to have an explicit narrative. It is a short jacket in antique linen embroidered on the back with a Vanitas, after the early seventeenth century painting by Philippe de Champaigne.

On The Hook & Eye

The reverie of the apprentice demiurge knew no bounds at the sight of a magical treasury at his grandparents’ house in Normandy: dozens of assorted boxes, all carefully labelled, containing buttons, hook & eye fasteners, hooks, ribbons, scraps of fur, lace, reels of different threads... All entries in the thesaurus of the future couturier. The hook & eye fastener in particular, comprising its two parts - the hook and the eye - is an article with much to offer: the promise of attachment, bringing together, of opening too.

Its metal, shining on the surface of the fabric, marks out scarifications, sutures, evokes the figure of the modern Prometheus, Frankenstein... objects of the inventor’s every fantasy. Olivier Theyskens seizes upon this object which is ancient yet of timeless modernity. Rather than seeking to gloss over its presence as is the norm, instead he determines to display it, in every available size, in black for preference, including extravagant variants of his own design. The hook & eye becomes a constellation, arranged in the shape of a cross, in parallel lines, highlighting the bust, the opening of a skirt, giving rhythm to the back or front of a dress, running the length of a boot. A modest utilitarian object promoted into a gem of industrial beauty, over the years the hook & eye has become the visual signature of Olivier Theyskens.

Du Corset

A paradoxical object, a troubling accessory to the body, the corset is an essential feature for Theyskens’s stylistic grammar, and it plays a full part in the legend of the Gothic figure and his romantic universe, whose image has been relayed over the years by the media. It was one of his very first models, a black bodice worn by Madonna at the San Remo festival in January 1998, that propelled the young prodigy out of anonymity. Then in October of that year, worn at the VH1 Awards again by Madonna, a yellow gown with a boned waist was to definitively launch the designer’s international career.

Since then, the corset has featured in every collection under various avatars: here, lengthened into a airy dress in black lace; there, like a precious neck brace, embroidered with jet, which helps to hold the head high but also constitutes a stiff cocoon for enveloping the bust and head in a single protective casing (Autumn/Winter 99-00). Or much later, appearing in the modernised form of a bustier (Autumn-Winter 2017) in homage to its inventor, Marcel Rochas, the spirit of that garment masterfully captured by Olivier Theyskens when he was responsible for the artistic direction of the fashion house.

Whether worn next to the skin or over a dress, an element incorporated into the structure of a garment (Autumn-Winter 2001-02) or completely stand-alone, sometimes a more or less discreet undergarment, sometimes a visible and asserted overgarment... the corset constitutes a focal point of the silhouette according to Theyskens. A recurrent principle that runs through his complete body of work, rarely anecdotal, much less the result of a fad or passing infatuation for a historical period, it is paramount in the construction of his ideal of beauty in which profound aesthetic aspirations perpetuate childhood emotions. An essential object, archaic, in the etymological sense of the Ancient Greek word, arkhế, that of “beginning.”

On Nostalgia

Although not cultivating it, in this sequence Theyskens chooses to take on the concept of nostalgia as a trigger for the creation of an emotion: the emotion generated by certain romantic shapes such as leg-of-mutton sleeves, or by the ethereal spirit of blouses in light tulle; or the emotion kindled by lingerie pieces in white satin, a vintage corset with a light reseau or, finally, a 1940s blouse in light satin, bearing the mark of time in its creases.

Olivier Theyskens 'In Praesentia'’ is the second of two monograph’s on Olivier Theyskens. This publication of collectives takes a look into his design process and the inspiration of lace and tradition within his colletions.

10 Trends From The Fall 2021 Season That Predict Fashion’s Future

The fall 2021 season marks a year of no-contact, virtual fashion weeks. What have we learned from 12 months of watching runway shows from behind our laptop screens? (You know, aside from the fact that this digital thing in no way compares to the theater of fashion, that our Wi-Fi connections will never be strong enough, and that blue-light glasses are a must?)

As I’ve been trying to make sense of the wildly different fall 2021 collections, one idea reverberates: No matter the expression, we crave clothing that feels close to us. At Prada, models clutched their sequin wraps; at Dries Van Noten, dancers clutched garments to their chests; and at Marine Serre, friends and family clutched each other in intimate films and look book imagery. The icy chicness and the bold statements of intent that helped define 2010s fashion have been replaced by warmth, togetherness, and function.

Of course, function looks different to different people. Some will call the outdoorsy patchwork puffers from Chloé and the charming and warming Miu Miu pastel coveralls useful. Others will find purpose in knit bodysuits like those at Givenchy and Courrèges or the many blankets and wraps from brands like JW Anderson, Stella Jean, and Jil Sander. Shoppers who deem dressing up an essential task will find plenty of grittily glamorous frocks from Simone Rocha, Prada, Paco Rabanne, and Rick Owens, and cocooning couture shapes from Louis Vuitton, Patou, and Roksanda. For those who want to move through post-pandemic life with an unfussy ease, there are roomy new jeans at Christian Dior and Balenciaga and pleated skirt suits at Molly Goddard, Max Mara, and Calvin Luo. Even monograms have toned it down, with new logo prints at Chanel, Versace, and Balmain. A rising generation of millennial power spenders has simultaneously dictated the return of escapist aughts nostalgia; forget the roaring twenties, when we return to parties, we will do it with the vigor—and itty-bitty, flitty little dresses—of Paris, Lindsay, and Nicole.

That’s a lot to digest, and as a season, fall 2021 doesn’t wrap up as succinctly as previous ones. Maybe that’s a good thing. As fashion adjusts to mirror our times, it must embrace smaller, more individually powerful notions of style. That explains why, like everything else right now, so many of the collections are in total disagreement with one another: Show some skin or cover it up! Be comfortable or be crazy!

One year ago, we were trying to predict what the 2020s would look like. After this season, our bets are on a period of rebellious personal style and a rebirth of subcultures. That will give us something to talk about from behind our screens—or even better, together again in person soon.
Collage Therapy

Designers like Gabriela Hearst, Marine Serre, and Stuart Vevers at Coach are patching together unused fabric scraps to produce coats, dresses, and upcycled tees. These collaged garments are not only sustainably minded, but also nod to a new, idiosyncratic aesthetic that is less about head-to-toe dressing and more about personal expression through style. It’s fashion with a little heart—and harmony.
Life Is a Cabaret—Dress for It

A brooding glamour is mounting across Europe, suggesting a reemergence look that is fabulous, but with a not insignificant bite. Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons placed their bets on sequins and stoles, while Dries Van Noten is bringing back taffeta volumes and a little campy glitz. Tinsel at Rokh and surreal proportions at Marni round out the trend, promising a vampish scene come fall.
One-Piece Wonders

What can’t a catsuit do? In the hands of Tom Ford and LaQuan Smith, it is the sexiest—and sheerest—garment around. Yuhan Wang, Ottolinger, and Maisie Wilen built one-pieces that are artfully patterned and strange, while Erdem’s ballet-style cover-up seems perfect for a WFH week of lounging. No matter your taste, there is a fall 2021 onesie to match your lifestyle.
Pleats, Please

The power suits of recent seasons have morphed into quirky but prim pleated skirt sets. Options from 3.1 Phillip Lim, Plan C, and Schiaparelli are breezily stylish and well suited to office life, should it ever return, while Chopova Lowena, Collina Strada, and Arthur Arbesser offer bolder takes on the look.

Signs of the Times

Attention-getting logo mania is falling out of favor, but branding is still a big game. Donatella Versace imagined a new kind of logo—an allover key print—for her fall 2021 collection, Givenchy’s sheer separates were stitched with interlocked Gs, and Kim Jones revived an archival FF logo on slips and stockings at Fendi.

Pop Princesses

Millennial nostalgia has reached a fever pitch, bringing back the halcyon days of It girl–aughts style. Blumarine, Conner Ives, Alyx, and Roberto Cavalli are serving up Sunset Strip sweetness in the form of pastel minidresses, crystal tiaras, and other itsy bits that could turn anyone into Britney, Xtina, Mariah—or their 2020s counterparts Dua Lipa and Rina Sawayama. “XS” is very in.
Wrap Party

Who says a blanket isn’t a garment? Jonathan Anderson’s artful throws definitely do double duty. Ponchos and capes had a resurgence at Gabriela Hearst, Alberta Ferretti, and Missoni. Stella Jean, for her part, collaborated with the Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to employ the craftspeople who made her scenic wraps.
Ski Bunnies

Nature has been a reprieve for many during the pandemic. By the time next winter hits, we’ll be expressing the urge to get outside on the slopes. Both Miu Miu and Thom Browne staged their shows on mountaintops, with puffers and accessories to match, while Givenchy, Christian Dior, and Chanel offered shearlings and Fair Isle knits that would do well après-ski. Just add powder.

Bulbous, bubble-like shapes started trending early in the lockdowns. For fall 2021, the silhouette veered from soft Romeo Gigli–style cocoons to more pumped-up ovoid forms, with an emphasis on the hips and thighs. Both womanly and protective, these new orbs offer coziness and a little forgiveness from the skintight silhouettes seen elsewhere.
Low-Slung Jeans for High-Stress Times

Sweatpants are not forever. Slouchy, wide-leg jeans emerged as a key look for fall at Balenciaga, Y/Project, and the up-and-coming London label Jawara Alleyne. Consider these roomy and durable trousers the ideal get-it-done pants for our post-pandemic lives.