Monday, August 16, 2021

Made In The U.S.A.: A Glimpse Behind The Curtain At ‘In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion’

The most ambitious exhibition to date from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute kick-starts with a question: Who gets to be American? A red, white, and blue silk sash from the grand finale of Prabal Gurung’s 2020 10th-anniversary collection bears the phrase, and it greets visitors from the threshold of the Anna Wintour Costume Center. It’s a query every immigrant must consider—but shrouded in golden light at the outset of a fashion retrospective, it takes on a new verve. “It was important to open with that,” says Andrew Bolton, the Costume Institute’s Wendy Yu Curator in Charge. “It tackles this notion of acceptance and belonging, which recent events have brought to the fore. Of course, these are questions that have always been present—but there are moments in history when they’re more resonant and resounding.”

“In America,” the museum’s two-part exploration of all things made in the U.S.A., is a yearlong celebration spanning three centuries of fashion. The first part, which includes pieces from such American standard-bearers as Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, and Calvin Klein alongside the current vanguard of millennial talent, opens on September 18, with part two opening on May 5, 2022. (While the pandemic forced the cancellation of last year’s Met ball, “In America” will debut with a splash on Monday, September 13, closing out New York Fashion Week with a gala cochaired by Timothée Chalamet, Billie Eilish, Amanda Gorman, and Naomi Osaka—with Tom Ford, Instagram’s Adam Mosseri, and Anna Wintour honorary chairs.)

“In America” echoes the work Bolton has done expanding the Met’s archives to include more contributions from designers of color and marginalized groups—and though it serves as a retrospective, the show’s observations about national identity are rooted in current concerns. “It was almost impossible to do this show without looking at it through the lens of politics,” says Bolton. “There’s no art form that addresses the politics of identity more than fashion.”

Language is the core theme of the exhibition’s first installment, “A Lexicon of Fashion.” Bolton credits 2020’s social-­justice movements with prompting him to reexamine the topic of terminology—​particularly when tackling such important issues—since, in the 20 years since the museum’s last overview of American fashion, discussions around style have changed. “American designers are at the forefront of conversations around diversity, inclusivity, sustainability, gender fluidity, and body positivity,” Bolton says, “and the framework of the show enables us to focus on the younger designers who are engaging thoughtfully and deeply with those ideas.”

Recent Central Saint Martins graduate and LVMH Prize finalist Conner Ives was a toddler in Bedford, New York, the last time the Costume Institute explored Americana, a theme that animates his work. (Ives’s graduation project, The American Dream, deals with feminine archetypes culled from pop culture in the states.) When he saw the announcement of the Costume Institute’s new exhibition, “I was giddy,” he says. “My collection was built around the concept of forgotten American designers—​people that had such a rich, influential history, but when you mention them to a fashion student nowadays, they ask who you’re talking about. You have to stop and think, Oh, my God—there were scores of people that came before me.” Ives’s modernized debutante dress—employing deadstock, vintage fabric, and recycled-​plastic floral paillettes—now illustrates the beauty of hopefulness in “Lexicon.”

After months spent indoors during the pandemic, Bolton toyed with organizing the exhibition as a kind of high-tech house inspired by Witold Rybczynski’s Home: A Short History of an Idea—but shoehorning designers into categories tied to places such as the kitchen or office proved limiting. Finally, inspiration came from an unexpected source: Reverend Jesse Jackson’s speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention. “America is not like a blanket, one piece of unbroken cloth, the same color, the same texture, the same size,” he told the audience at San Francisco’s Moscone Center. “America is more like a quilt: many patches, many pieces, many colors, many sizes, all woven and held together by a common thread.”

“The act of making a quilt celebrates the notion of community that is so strong in America,” says Bolton, who adds that quilts also connect ideas about family and about repurposing and recycling. “Each square is a different designer, who represents a specific quality of American fashion.”

Approximately 100 pieces from 80 or so labels and designers range from joyful 1994 Anna Sui dresses to Christian Francis Roth’s 1990 “Rothola” dress. Naturally, the show features quilting and handcraft prominently: Hollywood costumer turned designer Adrian’s 1947 dress, for example, references the floral designs found on traditional hand-sewn American quilts. Placed with the upcycled patchwork pieces from Nigerian-American textile artist Sarah Nsikak’s brand, La Réunion, and a custom piece from Emily Adams Bode made from a vintage quilt, Adrian’s look feels newly relevant. Floral styles also get the full-circle treatment. Adolfo’s silk evening­wear, a staple of nights out in the early ’70s, fits right in with the sumptuous closing number from Marc Jacobs’s spring 2020 collection, a play on the botanical theme taken to its extreme with giant watercolor petals.

Tying everything together meant constructing a space that immerses viewers in history—a task that fell to production designers Shane Valentino and Nathan Crowley of LAMB Design Studio. Having dreamed up a neo-noir Texas for Tom Ford in his 2016 film Nocturnal Animals and blown up a Boeing 747 for Christopher Nolan’s more recent sci-fi thriller Tenet, the two are also adept at pushing the design envelope for the Met—from 2008’s “Super­heroes” show to 2015’s “China: Through the Looking Glass.”

“We approach exhibition space in the same way we approach cinematic space,” says Valentino. As with an actual quilt, the right textiles made all the difference. “We’re trying to create a patchwork mentality,” Valentino explains, “but keeping it modern.” He and Crowley worked primarily with materials associated with filmmaking. “Scrim, silks, duvetyne, and velour were our architectural base,” says Valentino, who employed a few Hollywood tricks to fool viewers’ eyes. “One of the big metaphors that go through both parts of ‘In America’ is perception—changing how we look at things. We’re rethinking American designers and identity in the United States, and visually we’re trying to incorporate other ways of seeing.”

Crowley and Valentino have also added a sensory component with embroidered details that pop up throughout the exhibition. “Embroidery has this tactile quality—there’s a three-dimensionality to it,” says Valentino. “The way we understand language is often through a sentence or a phrase, and the show speaks in the same way, allowing the viewer to make associations.”

The exhibition also shines a light on American talent during a moment when such support is necessary. The economic fallout of the pandemic hit the fashion community hard, particularly independent creators. “We all share the tribulation of having to create a collection while constantly checking your bank account to make sure you can pay your staff,” says Hillary Taymour of Collina Strada, whose vibrant work is also featured in the show. “Creativity can counter some of the negativity—​and as artists, we’re supposed to be contributing to our culture. This show takes people out of their heads for a second.”

That transportive sensibility is something Christopher John Rogers is hoping to experience when he sees the exhibition’s quilted set pieces in person—including a voluminous magenta plaid-silk taffeta look from his fall 2020 collection chosen by Bolton to reflect American exuberance—a quality Rogers associates with the work being produced by many of his peers. “We’re seeing people from all across the country make evocative and emotional work that isn’t predicated on traditional ideas about what American clothes should look like,” he says. With its mile-wide skirt and multicolored hues, his ball gown is an appropriately delightful example of the dynamic, independent fashion the exhibition is meant to highlight.

That “common thread” that Reverend Jackson referred to in 1984—​unifying issues such as health care, education reform, and housing—remains relevant today, as does the idea that pluralism is the root of American society. For Bolton, the statement captured what he was trying to achieve. “I grew up [learning about] the concept of the American melting pot, which implies that we are all blended together and assimilated,” he says, “but what Jackson suggests is that our identities and experiences are woven together into this multifaceted whole that preserves the uniqueness of our respective heritages and voices. The beauty of American fashion is its heterogeneity.”

Part One, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Anna Wintour Costume Center from September 18, 2021, to September 5, 2022.

Why Fashion Designers Are So Superstitious?

Gabrielle Chanel’s lucky number was five. For Karl Lagerfeld it was seven. And for Riccardo Tisci, it’s 17, which is apparently why he puts that number on T-shirts and at the end of his Instagram handle.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to superstitions in the fashion industry, where fortune tellers, tarot cards, good-luck talismans and even shamans have been prized for eons. So today, on Friday the 13th — always considered an unlucky day — designers must be scurrying for any rabbits foot they can find.

It’s plain that an irrational belief in supernatural influences lies behind the fragrance the late Alber Elbaz created in 2017 with Frederic Malle, dubbed Superstitious; why former Dior couturier Gianfranco Ferré never included a look No. 17 in his collection — it was always 16bis, and why four-leaf clovers and evil-eye motifs have become so popular in recent jewelry collections.

While data and academic research about superstitions in fashion are scarce, psychologists have often cited a predisposition to them among people with financial insecurity, according to Valerie Steele, director of the Museum at FIT.

“I think since fashion is such an up-and-down business — you can be the cat’s meow one season and then totally left out the next — that would tend to make people hope that they could get a little bit of extra luck on their side because the whole business seems so irrational in general,” she said in an interview, rating fashion designers an eight on a scale of one to 10, 10 being the most superstitious.

“The idea that superstition comes in part from a feeling of a lack of agency and financial anxiety would be significant for people in fashion because it does so much seem like you need luck to get ahead,” she said, noting that designer Arnold Scaasi used to consult a fortune teller regularly about his lucky numbers, which would help him choose when to show his next collection.

According to Steele, Scaasi shrugged when a reporter looked askance at his practice.

“It doesn’t hurt to have a little extra luck” was the retort. “Diane von Furstenberg apparently had some coins with a family connection that she’d always put in her shoe before a fashion show. I think many people have this idea that they have a certain lucky piece of clothing or jewelry,” Steele added.

Christian Lacroix said he has been gifted so many good-luck talismans over the years — including a gold Napoleonic coin from legendary embroiderer François Lesage and a copper lion figurine from the late American editor Carrie Donovan — that carrying them in his pockets was no longer feasible.

Considering three, and multiples of it, his lucky numbers, he usually had 36 or 63 outfits in his collections. And he visited Madame Mallais, a fortune teller popular among the fashion crowd in the 1970s when he was still a student at La Sorbonne in Paris. She scribbled something on a piece of paper and asked Lacroix what it might represent, and also told him he would meet “a guy who will be very important in your life named Arnaud.”

Years later, Lacroix would realize the sketch was his CL fashion logo and that Arnaud (the French spelling for the name Arnold) in fact referred to Bernard Arnault, the luxury titan who plucked him from Patou and set up a couture house just for him in 1987.

Paris-based jewelry designer Elie Top has worked alongside many designers with superstitious tendencies, fishing out a photo of himself at age 18 when he was an intern at Dior. It shows him clutching look number 16bis on a hanger backstage at a fashion show, with Ferré in the background.

(Like many Italians, Ferré considered the number 17 unlucky. Tisci, by contrast, apparently embraced it because the 17th card of the tarot, known as The Star, is auspicious.)

Top also worked briefly with Yves Saint Laurent, who had been known to visit fortune tellers, believe his dog Moujik possessed special powers and kept bronze lions for luck, and with Elbaz, who would never hand anyone a pair of scissors, always placing them on a table.

In a 2015 interview, Lagerfeld recalled a spooky premonition from his youth. “It’s unbelievable, I don’t know how it happened — it’s so strange, this fame thing. But as my fortune teller told me when I was young, she said: ‘For you, it will really start when it’s finished for the others.’ It’s quite true.”

Top said he does not consider himself superstitious, yet he sensed a hunger for reassuring symbols during the pandemic, which led to a collection released late last year dubbed “Lucky Charms” hinged on clover-, heart- and star-shaped forms. He said it sold “very well.”

“That’s what I was feeling was relevant for people,” he said. “It’s something with a meaning, so it’s even more precious, and if you give it as a gift, it’s like you’re offering a person some protection.”

Top has also referenced zodiac signs and astrology in other collections — and he never hands anyone a pair of scissors.

Christian Dior ranks as one of the most highly superstitious designers of all time. He onsulted a clairvoyant, Madame Delahaye, for all his major decisions, and who clung to a metal star he stepped on one evening in 1946, taking it as a sign that he should launch his own couture house.

Among talismans he collected was lily of the valley, commissioning his florist to produce it year round so he could always carry a sprig of the spring bloom with him.

Legend has it that Madame Delahaye urged Dior not to travel to Montecatini, Italy. He died on the ill-fated voyage in 1957, at the age of 52.

Dior’s current couturier Maria Grazia Chiuri has referenced the house’s superstitious past, basing her spring 2021 couture collection on the divinatory arts, in particular a 15th-century tarot deck designed for the Duke of Milan, which informed the palette of dusty jewel tones and old gold.

Couture ateliers in Paris are renowned for the many superstitions bred in the workplace. Among them: A piece of tulle should never hang from the ceiling, as it foretells death, for example. Spilling pins is also looked upon as a dim omen.

By contrast, wedding dresses are harbingers of good fortune. Should a seamstress prick a finger while sewing, it is viewed as good omen for the bride. Similarly, if a seamstress sews a strand of her own hair into the wedding dress, it should speed her own route to nuptial bliss.

Turbulent times seem to breed superstitious beliefs. Fashion historian Pamela Golbin noted they were prevalent around the First and Second World Wars, when Elsa Schiaparelli created an entire collection based on horoscopes, when Dior relied on his lucky number 13 and mystical guidance from Madame Delahaye, and when Gabrielle Chanel would schedule fashion shows on the fifth day of the fifth month.

She also noted that lucky symbols, zodiac motifs and talismans have reigned as motifs across the decorative arts for hundreds of years.

In 2016, the house of Schiaparelli created a contemporary version of the iconic Zodiac jacket, part of the founder’s Astrological collection for fall 1938 that was inspired by astronomy, constellations and the Sun King.

Certain fashion elements have superstitious connotations.

Steele noted that the color green has long been derided as unlucky in fashion, which probably stems from Victorian times, when some clothes were dyed a vivid green using arsenic, with disfiguring or deadly consequences for the wearer and manufacturer.

With the pandemic spurring the popularity of outdoor shows, the use of shamans to prevent rainfall may become more prevalent.

To wit: According to sources, Alaïa hired a shaman for its open-air show in Paris on July 3, and while a few raindrops fell on guests who arrived early, Pieter Mulier’s debut collection for the Paris house was showered mainly with praise.

Louis Vuitton has engaged Brazilian shaman Osmar Santos Scritori, who goes under the handle The Weather Son on Instagram, for several of its destination cruise shows, according to multiple media reports. In a rare interview with French publication Technikart, Scritori’s wife, Adelaide, also a medium, explained that when she was little, an ice storm ruined her father’s coffee plantation and “that’s where it all started.”

Lily Allen Is Back & Chicer Than Ever

Back in 2006, when Lily Allen arrived on the global music scene with her album Alright, Still, she and her sporty-meets-retro-style were a breath of fresh air. Allen has remained in the spotlight for the past 15 years, but lately, she’s showcased another side of herself.

Currently garnering raves for her West End debut in Danny Robins’s play, 2:22 A Ghost Story, Allen is reminding audiences that she’s adept at the creative multi-tasking that defines modern celebrity. As a singer-songwriter, actor, host, writer, and entrepreneur, she can and does do it all. Onstage, that It-factor has made for thrilling performances, while off-duty, it’s meant one fantastic outfit after another.

Allen was always chic, but her latest looks reflect the positive place she’s in personally and professionally. This week in London, Allen celebrated her play’s success by exiting its press night at the Noël Coward Theatre in one of Taller Marmo’s feather-trimmed one-shoulder satin gowns. The look projected glamour of the old Hollywood variety, and Allen could have played up that aspect, but she and stylist Lucy Manning kept everything else minimal and monochromatic. Without big earrings and statement necklaces to distract from the details, the plumage was twice as striking.

On Monday, Allen exited the theatre in a casual yet equally compelling outfit. Dressed in a velvet Miu Miu crop-top with an oversized lace collar and a pair of skinny black jeans, she balanced whimsy and grit. Days earlier, she sported a similar Miuccia-designed look, in a lighter colourway with cuffed blue jeans and faux-fur Prada carryall.

Given that 2021 has seen the revival of nearly every aughts phenomenon, Allen’s stylish moment in the spotlight feels well-timed. Whether taking Kim Jones’ debut Fendi ready-to-wear collection for a spin on Instagram (as she did in July), sporting Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini’s puff-sleeved python print mini-dress at The Ivy’s launch party, or dazzling in turquoise and lime Bora Aksu alongside husband David Harbor at Chanel’s pre-BAFTAs party last year, Allen has continuously kept things interesting. The merits of some 2000s favourites are still up for debate, but nothing beats seeing one of the era’s biggest stars shine brighter than ever.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

The Fashion Awards To Return To An In-Person Event In November

The Fashion Awards will return to the Royal Albert Hall in London after it took place digitally last
year. The event will return on Nov. 29, the British Fashion Council (BFC) announced on Thursday. The Fashion Awards will take place at the Royal Albert Hall in London and will be held in accordance with the UK government guidelines at the time, the BFC said. Winners will be determined by a panel of over 800 members, with the voting period beginning in September.

The annual awards ceremony took place digitally last year due to restrictions on large-scale events and travel. The Fashion Awards will continue to celebrate industry leaders for their work during the pandemic, honouring the “Leaders of Change,” which will include designers, creatives and individuals who created positive change over the past year, under five categories: the environment, people, community and craftsmanship, creativity and a new category, culture. Raf Simons and Muiccia Prada were among the 20 industry stars recognised in 2020.

The return of the awards is the latest in-person fashion event to be announced. The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) also recently announced the return of the CFDA Fashion Awards in November and released the preliminary schedule with its partner IMG for New York Fashion Week in September.

H&M x Sabyasachi

H&M announced its first collaboration back in 2020 with the Indian designer Sabyasachi, a member of the Fashion Design Council of India who has also designed many costumes for Bollywood films. A year later, the H&M x Sabyasachi collection will finally be released, after being postponed due to the global pandemic that particularly affected India. “We decided on safety first,” the designer told Vogue India. An expectation that is worthwhile since it highlights the richness and meticulousness of the country's traditional fashion know-how. 

With its warm colors, shimmering fabrics and prints, golden embroidery, and flowing cuts: the pieces with a bohemian aura offer a one-way ticket to sunny Bombay or Calcutta, which is exactly the travel theme highlighting this capsule: “When H&M asked what I wanted to do, I told them that in my head and heart I’m a traveler, and I want to create a travel wardrobe. So I asked myself how a collection could journey seamlessly from a palace in Jaipur to a pool party in LA,” the designer told Vogue India, steaming from a desire to build multicultural bridges.

Not only does this capsule offer the opportunity to open up to different cultures, but it also invites us to escape, allowing Sabyasachi - who specializes more in couture and evening wear- to show his original designs to a wider audience. With prices starting at 19.99 euros, this is a collection of timeless silhouettes for women and men, revisited as a celebration of the richness of Indian craftsmanship.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Thierry Mugler’s Fashion Archive To Exhibit In Paris

As the world is opening up, Paris is set to host Thierry Mugler‘s fashion archive exhibit. “Thierry Mugler: Courturissime,” which was first showcased in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Canada, is wholly devoted to the French luxury fashion designer.

The exhibit will feature 150 outfits from 1977 to 2014, including various rare and iconic fashion pieces from the designer. Alongside Mugler’s couture outfits, some of the industry’s top talents including, the late Karl Lagerfeld, Guy Bourdin, Helmut Newton and David LaChapelle will also have their work showcased next to Mugler’s.

Mugler designs have been a hit amongst celebrities with Cardi B wearing Mugler’s 20th anniversary dress from 1995 to a recent Grammy Awards to Kim Kardashian, David Bowie, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé also showing love to the eclectic designer on the red carpet. Montreal’s museum curator commented on the collection stating, “Mugler wanted to stage the daily life of people through fashion, that’s what attracted so many celebrities. They love him because he’s one of the few designers who can help celebrities become characters and stage their acts.”

The exhibit is the first time the designer has opened up his archive to the public. “Thierry Mugler: Courturissime” will be opening on September 20 in Paris at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.

How Video Games Became Fashion's New Runway

Over the course of the last year and in response to the pandemic, several major fashion houses have largely shifted their marketing efforts into the digital sphere, and with that pivot came fashion’s steady creep forwards into the gaming world.

After years of modest collaborations that have yielded real-life trophy cases, esports apparel capsules and namesake gaming characters receiving their own fashion campaigns, fashion labels have since transcended the physical boundaries of those partnerships and entered the virtual worlds in a plethora of groundbreaking ways, expanding the possibilities of what a crossover between fashion and gaming can look like.

Most recently, Burberry has debuted a range of in-game accessories for the online game Blankos Block Party, which are being released as a series of NFTs on August 11. In its use of digital ownership, it represents a new frontier for the intersection of gaming and fashion — and one that seems likely to be highly profitable for brands that can take advantage of it.

Fashion’s movement into gaming is bridging the gap between the two industries in a mutually beneficial manner

“With video game play increasing upwards of 75 percent as of March in 2020, it’s no wonder that fashion is now interested in the future — or present — of gaming,” Dr. Kristopher Alexander, esports production and games user research expert at Ryerson University, told HYPEBEAST. “The population of humans who have the most time to play video games (ages 18 to 35), and spend the most money on video games (ages 36 to 39), are all excitedly clinging on to this ever growing medium of video games.”

Gaming represents an entirely new revenue channel for brands, and although in-game fashion collaborations existed prior to COVID lockdowns, the pandemic certainly catapulted labels into the esports realm. Gucci, for example, has partnered with Animal Crossing, Roblox, Pokémon Go, The Sims, Genies, Tennis Clash and League of Legends all within the last year, crafting virtual iterations of its runway ensembles and legacy motifs to coincide with each aforementioned domain.

Similarly, Marc Jacobs, Tommy Hilfiger, Valentino and shopping platform Klarna have virtually revamped a multitude of high-fashion outfits to meet the standard of Animal Crossing’s avatars. Burberry has also previously created skins for Tencent’s Honor of Kings characters, Louis Vuitton has launched a League of Legends capsule collection in partnership with Riot Games and Ralph Lauren remastered its clothing for Snapchat’s Bitmojis.

Some brands even went as far as to create their own gaming worlds — Balenciaga chose to show its Fall 2021 collection inside an interactive video game, titled Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow, while Burberry introduced its own range of website games, including its homegrown racing game B Surf last summer. In the mobile gaming space, Off-White recently released a stealthy game with New York street artist KATSU and Gucci added a slew of classic arcade-style games to its app. Notably, GCDS hosted the first-ever digital fashion arcade to debut its Spring 2021 designs, which included a virtual reality runway, a front row featuring famous avatars and video games that could be played once the presentation concluded.

“I got so excited about the idea to produce my own CGI cartoon,” said GCDS creative director Giuliano Calza of the fashion arcade. “I think this was a fresh breath on the idea of how to realize something new for a fashion show.”

While the brand’s gaming integration proved to be a pleasantly innovative substitution for a typical fashion show in a locked-down world, Calza disclosed plans to take GCDS even further into the space.

“I’m already working on a proper video game with a giant in the gaming industry,” he confirmed.

In another gaming move, Los Angeles-based streetwear label Born x Raised created digital apparel for Grand Theft Auto Online as part of the game’s latest update, Los Santos Tuners. Looking at the brand’s Instagram page, it is evident that Born x Raised references the same sector of Southern California culture as the popular game.

“The original connection point was completely organic,” said Chris Printup a.k.a. Spanto, founder of Born X Raised. “People would always comment on my lookbook photos, ‘GTA loading screen,’ ‘GTA loading screen.’”

In this case, the collaboration represents a cultural touchstone, more than it does a profitable expansion.

“Fashion is becoming much more integrated in all these games because obviously the goal with fashion is to make money, right?“ Spanto asked. “It’s profitable, but I didn’t start Born x Raised to make money. I chose streetwear as a medium or a canvas for me to express myself.”

Spanto points to a critical component of a brand’s decision-making process in merging into new channels like gaming, which is ensuring that, in doing so, the collaboration aligns with the brand’s overarching vision in order to maintain longevity in the industry.

Fashion’s movement into gaming is bridging the gap between the two industries in a mutually beneficial manner — on the one hand, brands can expand their reach to new audiences and remain on the cutting edge with pre-existing consumers, while esports companies can acquire cultural authority through profitable brand associations. And that symbiotic relationship is only growing stronger.

While the possibilities for fashion and gaming collaborations continue to expand, the two cultural genres will likely become more integrated over time. “I think that both as a place for advertising or for selling, games are going to be the future,” Calza said. “Look at NFTs and how they have shaken up the art world — not only have we created value but we are translating it into a new currency. I think this is just what fashion is about, to picture a world and create value by commercializing a vision into a final product, so — why not as a game?”

Louis Vuitton Releases Its Playful Oversized Coffee Cup And Carrot Pouch

Louis Vuitton has just dropped two playful accessories from Virgil Abloh’s Everyday LV Fall/Winter 2021-22 show.

First up is the Carrot Pouch which sees construction in the form of an oversized leather carrot with an orange monogram body and green leather leaves. Standing at 25cm in height, this pouch has a snap-hook for attaching to bags, and a main compartment with a silver-tone zipper.

Next, the Coffee Cup pouch is the embodiment of the trompe l’oeil pouch in XL coffee cup form. The cowhide-leather trim bag stands at 19cm and has bold branding at the front to match the white leather lid. Other details include matte-brown hardware, a removable and adjustable shoulder strap, and a double zipper.

The Carrot and Coffee Cup Pouch retail for $1,425 USD and $2,350 USD respectively and are both available now.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

New York Fashion Week Is Really, Finally Back

We’ve spent the past 17 months wondering not just when New York Fashion Week would resume, but if it’d ever feel the same. A cursory glance at the CFDA’s official spring 2022 calendar suggests its comeback will be worth the wait. Set for September 8th through the 12th, the jam-packed week of physical shows and events begins with Ulla Johnson and ends with Tom Ford, with a diverse mix of 91 establishment and indie names in between, from Tory Burch, Michael Kors Collection, Oscar de la Renta, and Carolina Herrera to Eckhaus Latta, Vaquera, Puppets and Puppets, and Maisie Wilen. (Realistically, we’ll be covering New York collections before and after the official dates, too; Collina Strada, Christian Siriano, and Harlem’s Fashion Row are already confirmed for September 7th.

There are a few exciting surprises, too: Moschino’s Jeremy Scott and Peter Dundas are trading their usual Milan and Paris shows for guest slots at NYFW, and New York designers that we haven’t seen on the calendar in some time are confirmed to show, including Telfar, Altuzarra, Thom Browne, and Maryam Nassir Zadeh. There’s a good chance many designers will be working overtime to finish their spring collections and prepare looks for the Met Gala, which will take place (in a smaller, more intimate capacity) immediately after NYFW on Monday, September 13th.

New York has a high vaccination rate and relaxed COVID restrictions (for the moment), but there’s still a lot we don’t know about the shows: Will international editors and buyers be able to travel here in September? How many guests will be permitted at the venues? Will we need to wear masks and bring our vaccination cards? We’ll be gathering more intel in the coming weeks. Until then, browse the schedule on their official website.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Met Gala 2021: Everything You Need To Know

Having initially been postponed due to the coronavirus crisis, a two-part Met Gala has been announced for 2021 and 2022.

What are the Met Gala 2021 and Met Gala 2022 themes?

The theme will celebrate American designers, as well cultural, political and social events that have occurred during the pandemic. “The main one was the fact that the American fashion community has been supporting us for 75 years, really since the beginning of the Costume Institute, so I wanted to acknowledge its support, and also to celebrate and reflect upon American fashion,” Andrew Bolton, the curator in charge of the Costume Institute, told Vogue. And he also felt it needed to be revisited (American Ingenuity in 1998 was the last big exhibition to cover the theme).

“I think that the emphasis on conscious creativity was really consolidated during the pandemic and the social justice movements,” Bolton said. “And I’ve been really impressed by American designers’ responses to the social and political climate, particularly around issues of body inclusivity and gender fluidity, and I’m just finding their work very, very self-reflective. I really do believe that American fashion is undergoing a Renaissance. I think young designers, in particular, are at the vanguard of discussions about diversity and inclusion, as well as sustainability and transparency, much more so than their European counterparts, maybe with the exception of the English designers.”

Inspired by Witold Rybczynski’s Home: A Short History of an Idea essay, Bolton will transform the Anna Wintour Costume Center into an imaginary house for In America: A Lexicon of Fashion. Every room will incorporate a particular theme such as joy, rebellion, warmth, nostalgia and more, and be occupied by an ancestor. “So for the porch, which is warmth,” continued Bolton, “the idea would be to have perhaps Bonnie Cashin’s blanket coat that we pair with André Walker’s coat made from Hudson Bay blankets. In the garden, which is joy, the idea is to have a Mainbocher printed floral dress with the Oscar de la Renta dress that Taylor Swift wore to the Grammys.”

In the second part, In America: An Anthology of Fashion, Bolton will focus on inclusivity in fashion. “Who gets to be American?” was a question posed at Prabal Gurung’s spring/summer 2020 show, and it will be addressed at the Met Gala 2022, too.

Who will host the Met Gala 2021?

This year’s event on 13 September will be hosted by co-chairs Timothée Chalamet, Billie Eilish, Amanda Gorman, and Naomi Osaka and honorary chairs Tom Ford, Adam Mosseri, and Anna Wintour. Due to pandemic guidelines, the celebrity-studded red carpet will be a smaller affair than usual with invites stipulating a dress code theme inspired by American Independence.

When was the Met Gala 2020 cancelled?

The Met Gala 2020 was postponed indefinitely on 16 March, due to increasing public health concerns over the spread of Covid-19. Earlier in the month, the Metropolitan Museum itself had announced it was closing “until further notice” after two employees showed symptoms of Covid-19. “Due to the unavoidable and responsible decision by the Metropolitan Museum to close its doors, About Time, and the opening night gala, will not take place on the date scheduled,” US Vogue editor-in-chief and Condé Nast’s global content advisor Anna Wintour revealed in a statement. On 19 May, the museum confirmed in a statement that the gala had been cancelled “due to the global health crisis”.
What was the Met Gala 2020 theme?

Andrew Bolton, curator of the Costume Institute, found inspiration for the Met Gala 2020 theme and exhibition in the 1992 Sally Potter film Orlando, which was based on Virginia Woolf’s novel of the same name. “There’s a wonderful scene,” he said, “in which Tilda Swinton enters the maze in an 18th century woman’s robe à la Francaise, and as she runs through it her clothes change to mid-19th century dress, and she re-emerges in 1850s England. That’s where the original idea came from.”

When is the Met Gala 2021 and the Met Gala 2022 set to take place?

Following last year’s Met Gala cancellation due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Costume Institute has announced a two-part Met Gala for 2021 and 2022. This year’s exhibition is called In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, and will open on 18 September. Pending government guidelines, a slightly smaller celebration is planned for 13 September 2021. The second part, entitled In America: An Anthology of Fashion, will fall on the first Monday of May in 2022 (5 May). Both shows will run through 5 September 2022.

Who was due to host the Met Gala 2020?

The Met Gala 2020 was set to be co-chaired by Nicolas Ghesquière, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Meryl Streep, Emma Stone, and Anna Wintour.
How did stars mark the absence of the Met Gala 2020?

To mark what would have been the Met Gala 2020 on 4 May, Billy Porter urged his followers to take part in the #MetGalaChallenge. Fashionistas around the globe recreated their favourite Met Gala looks from years gone by, including Rihanna’s Guo Pei “omelette” dress from 2015, and Porter’s own “sun god” look designed by The Blonds in 2019. Here are three of Vogue’s favourite entries to the social-media competition.

What is the Met Gala?

Organised and presided over by Anna Wintour since 1995, the Met Gala has become a much-loved annual celebration of fashion. Considered a fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, it has traditionally been timed to mark the opening of its annual fashion exhibition. Year on year, the event raises eight-figure sums; 2019’s edition raised a record $15 million (£12 million).

What happens at the Met Gala?

In short: it’s a secret. For this reason, guests must abide by the no phone (and, therefore, no social media) policy. However, the rules were famously broken by a cluster of celebrities smoking (ahem) and taking selfies in the bathroom in 2017. The event usually involves a high-profile performer (like Rihanna), and guests always explore the gallery before sitting down together for dinner.

How many people attend the Met Gala?

The event hosts around 600 attendees.

How much is a ticket to the Met Gala?

If you’re lucky enough to be on the guest list then you don’t pay to attend. If you’re not on the list, but have managed to secure a chance of attending, tickets are priced at around $30,000 (£24,000) each, with tables costing about $275,000 (£215,000).

Who is invited to the Met Gala?

Until the evening before the event, the guest list is top secret. But some of the biggest names in the business regularly attend – from Beyoncé and Lady Gaga to Madonna and Rihanna. More often than not, designers attend with their muses: think Marc Jacobs and Kate Moss, or Nicolas Ghesquière and Emma Stone.

Hypebeasts Assemble! Frank Ocean Is Launching A Fashion Brand

In typically elusive Frank Ocean style, the quietly disruptive auteur has launched a fashion brand. Today. Music’s version of a unicorn dropped the news with little fanfare and a lot to love about his label. Naturally, a full social media meltdown ensued, as Frank Ocean fans engaged in hypebeast mode, after what seems like aeons waiting for fresh work from the artist.

Ocean is one of the best-dressed men in the music industry, frequently using his clothes for social commentary and to subvert gender norms. The Blonde artist celebrated his Paris Is Burning-themed 30th birthday in crystal mesh Gucci leggings and pineapple sunglasses; writhed around in his “Nikes” video in a spectacular pearl-laden Balmain jumpsuit; and wore a deliciously minimalist black Prada hoodie to the Camp: Notes On Fashion edition of the Met Gala. You’re never quite sure what Frank will do next but, like his eye-watering bleached buzz cuts that sparked thousands of home hair-dye jobs, he continues to be a major influencer. He even got away with wearing Vans to the White House, for god’s sake.

The lowdown on Ocean’s fashion proposition: the brand name, Homer, is a nod to Ocean’s intentions of “carving history into stone”, while “childhood obsessions” and “heritage as fantasy” served as his biggest inspirations for the first collection, a range of fine jewellery and printed scarves captured by Tyrone Lebon in a digital catalogue. Designed in America and hand-made in Italy, the jewellery is created using 18K gold and hand-painted enamel, along with recycled silver and lab-grown diamonds from Homer’s own state-of-the-art lab in America. Those based in the States will need to make an appointment via the Homer website to drop into Ocean’s first bricks-and-mortar store, opening in downtown Manhattan on 9 August, while global orders will have to be placed via telephone – telephone! Maybe Ocean had a perfectly reasonable concern that he might be about to break the internet?

Saturday, August 7, 2021

The Scandal Of Carrie Bradshaw Wearing Fast Fashion

An entire cottage industry has cropped up around the filming of HBO Max's Sex and the City reboot And Just Like That. The appearance of various characters on-set—from Natasha (Bridget Moynihan) to Anthony Marentino (Mario Cantone, who is a fox)—is breaking news for the likes of us who watched live on Sunday nights, trademark HBO fuzz enticing us into a new episode. Then, of course, there are the outfits, chronicled in 2021 by dedicated Instagram accounts (@justlikethatcloset already has 52,600 followers and counting) and dissected by a social media-sphere that barely existed during Sex's maiden run. When the series finale aired in 2004, Twitter was still two years away from being created.

The latest sartorial saga from the set: fans aghast at the sight of Carrie Bradshaw wearing—gasp—fast fashion. Sarah Jessica Parker was photographed in character this week in New York with what appears to be a paisley Forever 21 maxi dress layered over a blue oxford shirt. Yes, she paired it with a Gucci x Balenciaga "Hourglass" bag and Terry DeHavilland platform sandals but fans couldn't help but wonder why the noted designer devotee, a woman who found herself teetering on the edge of financial ruin but with a $40,000 Manolo Blahnik collection, is wearing a mall brand.

There is the possibility of styling a high/low mix. On the one hand, Carrie has always been critiqued for how unrealistic her closet is, given what we know about writerly budgets. (According to a leaked script, she is also locked in a bitter divorce battle with Mr. Big, another financial snafu.) Perhaps Carrie—who reportedly hosts a podcast in And Just Like That— is finally dressing within her means. But a fast fashion dress isn't just a fast fashion dress: for some it's also a disturbing sign that the reboot isn't thinking harder about the fallout of fast fashion. And Just Like That is depicting re-wears, like Carrie's famed blue Manolos, but "in a time when sustainability is so important and ethical treatment of garment workers is a major problem in this industry, it is truly a crime for her to be wearing fast fashion," one former fashion editor said on Instagram.

The merits of the outfit itself are also up for debate. "The look in question just...isn't good," Mic wrote this week. "It's all too busy and discombobulated, and not in the artistically intentional way [Patricia Field] used to style Carrie." The outfit is reminding some spiraling fans that Sex and the City's rebel-genius costume designer, Patricia Field—mastermind of Carrie's opening-credits tutu and hits like the Dior newspaper dress—is not working on the reboot. It's an absence that is, frankly, almost as glaring as that of Kim Cattrall as Samantha. Field told WWD she was already committed to season-two of Emily in Paris; Molly Rogers, who worked in Field's store and with her on SATC, has taken over.

In a post-pandemic New York, during a movement for racial and social justice, Carrie and company should be wearing clothes that are not only ethical and sustainable but inclusive and thoughtful; not just Fendi baguettes but Telfar bags. Cue the clicking of Carrie's computer keys at the end of each retro episode. Now it's our turn to wonder: The fashion world outside of Sex and the City is changing—but will Sex and the City change with it?

Kanye West Introduces ‘Donda’ To The World With Creative Direction By Demna Gvasalia

Early in the morning of 5 August 2021, Kanye West was in his bedroom at Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz stadium doing push-ups. Later on, he tucked in for a nap. Throughout the day, he invited Chance the Rapper and Demna Gvasalia over, parsed through merch options, tried on a Balenciaga autumn/winter 2020 jacket, and welcomed several models into the room, two in red Balenciaga robes and armour boots who sat ritualistically under lit candles, and then another with a bob and sunglasses who sat cross-legged and hunched over an iPhone. All this was streamed in real time on Apple Music in the lead-up to West’s second Donda listening party.

The previous event had been held in the same venue on 22 July. In the two weeks since, West has been fine-tuning not only the album, but its visuals. Some of the new aspects of the Donda 2.0 tracklist include feature spots from The Weeknd and Kid Cudi. Meanwhile, Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia has stepped in for the creative, directing the look and feel of the listening event and its stream.

What in Ye’s name are Demna and Kanye doing together? As it turns out, the two share a lot of aesthetic common ground – and, apparently, the same art director, Niklas Bildstein Zaar, who made the heaven and brimstone graphics that appeared in both the autumn/winter 2020 Balenciaga show and last night’s Donda event. Both artists specialise in creating work that finds beauty in darkness. Gvasalia’s visions of hell and high water, and his interest in artificial intelligence and deep fakes, are premonitions of moments that seem just about to happen. His garments are uncannily redone versions of “normal” things like tracksuits, dad jeans, and puffer jackets rendered to the most luxurious degree. Even his debut couture show, the most trumpeted collection of 2021 thus far, had an eerie air about it, with the restored Balenciaga salons made intentionally dingy, with grease on the light switches and yellowed hems on the curtains. With Yeezy, West has a similar mission, making “essential” items like leggings, bombers, and tees into purposeful garments with an unusual vibe, an idea he’s extending with his ongoing partnership with The Gap. And depending on what rumours you believe, they’ve even worked together in the past, either on Yeezy Season 1 or Yeezy Season 3.

The experience of West’s fashion interactions the can be polar. (And at times polarising, especially his political inclinations of late.) You either get pared back, austere, earthy Kanye (Sunday Service, the Ye listening event in Wyoming), or something over the top (the Saint Pablo tour, The Life of Pablo global merch release, that Yeezy show on Roosevelt Island). Gvasalia, in most of his Balenciaga work, prefers the atmospheric and absorbing. But tonight’s display was rawer than anything we’re used to from either artist.

Inside the Mercedez-Benz stadium, guests like Migos and Rick Ross took in an industrial set with a circular stage. On it was a recreation of West’s room at the arena: mattress, blanket, coat, shoes, stereo, candle. Spotlights and floodlights surrounded the stage while the spidercam snuck through the air; a ring of clouds or sunbursts or flames lit up the stadium’s oculus. There was little else in the mix; the space’s dirty floors and guard rails were all exposed.

West’s performance mimicked what you would have seen on the stream earlier: dressing, praying, dancing, walking. A band of street-cast performers dressed in their own black clothing bounded out to circle the stage, walking and swaying, followed later on by barefoot dancers in mud-coloured nylon tracksuits, who flung themselves to the ground in a fit of heavenly possession and trudged towards the stage. (One guy in neon orange also made a run for it from the audience, before being promptly taken down by security.) It was all quite, dare I say it, humble? Well, humbler.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Cher Brings Her Unique Brand Of Fabulous To The New Pirelli Calendar

The Pirelli calendar is back! To resurrect the photographic tome, which has featured some of the most provocative imagery from the art and fashion worlds, after a year’s hiatus, the tyre giant called in the big guns to star on its pages. Cher, Grimes, Jennifer Hudson, Normani, Rita Ora, Iggy Pop, St Vincent, Kali Uchis, Saweetie and Bohan Phoenix were captured by Bryan Adams in Los Angeles and Capri for the 48th edition, entitled On The Road.

“On the road is where I have been for the last 45 years, because the life of a musician is made up of roads, travel, waiting in hotels, hours back stage,” says Adams, who saw the project as an opportunity to bring together and celebrate artists of different ilks, after a period that has wreaked havoc on the touring side of the music industry.

Naturally, anything Cher – soon to be the subject of a major biopic – stars in is fabulous from the off. But the stripped-back pictures of her graffiti-ing the mirror of a green room find the “Believe” singer in a more contemplative mood than one might expect from the powerhouse. It’s Kali Uchis, photographed poolside at Chateau Marmont, and Rita Ora, draped over the side of a bath in liquid silver sequins, who dial up the glamour. While a shirtless Iggy and costumed Grimes bring a sense of otherworldliness to the line-up. Our favourite? J Hud serving diva realness at the Palace Theatre. Top marks for the art direction from Dirk Rudolph.

With the world still in turmoil, the calendar – which moved away from its soft-core calendar-girl aesthetic in 2016, when the Italian company invited Annie Leibovitz to shoot women celebrated for their accomplishments, rather than just their looks – provides escapism and unabashed glamour at a time when most of us can’t remember the last gig we went to. Channelling the electricity of that pre-show moment and post-show revelry is no mean feat, but Adams, who has no doubt head banged and danced with the best of them, conjures it up well, albeit in an unexpected format.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

John Matheson & McQueen Vault

For Glass Archival Fashion Collectors series, we spoke to some of the most influential collectors from across the world to hear more about how they started their collection, the purpose behind it, and their take on the ever-growing industry. Today, we focus on: John Matheson – Alexander McQueen.

“I first discovered McQueen watching FTV [Fashion TV] cover his AW96 collection Dante. I was completely gobsmacked. It was one of those moments where the immediate shock of a creator hits all the right chords with their vision, and for me this was a deeply visceral connection.”

Soon after, John Matheson, the founder of @McQueen_Vault, a visual and social collage of Alexander McQueen’s life and legacy, began “collecting anything that had imagery of his work”. Ranging from magazine cut-outs, to newspaper clippings, to show invites, Matheson devoured it all.

It was after the death of his mother that Matheson sought a point of focus and began formally organising his collection of artefacts. “Arranging the materials, I could clearly see continual storylines and patterns that make his work endlessly explorable”. Shortly after, @McQueen_Vault was born.

As his influence grew, so too did his contacts and Matheson was lucky enough to be given some Alexander McQueen treasures. “Something I didn’t expect was having the honour to speak to and meet many of the McQueen family, friends and creators who worked with Lee McQueen.”

The purpose behind the Instagram account, Matheson tells me, is because “I want to share and collect with the people that love this culture as much as I do”.

He continues, “for my collection, it has never been about having the most “valuable” piece, but instead a sample of a fabric that portrayed a collection’s mood, or a shoe that carried a silhouette – having an evocative library of the essence of his work. I get more inspired by a rare photograph with an unseen detail than a dress worn by someone famous. That feels like keeping the true McQueen legacy alive.”

Unlike other archival collectors, Matheson is keen for certain pieces to stay in certain places for all the world to see, like at the Alexander McQueen London flagship. “Younger generations should have access to the work and be inspired by creators of the past,” he argues.

As a collector, Matheson doesn’t stick to a particular resource to source his items. “But it’s very hard work,” he tells me. “Some places can be untrustworthy. Sourcing pieces has now become a battleground given the absolute bonkers re-sell/vintage clothing market.” The internet has given “archival clothing visibility on another level, like injecting it with steroids, with both good and not so good results.”

Since platforms like Depop and eBay have grown as havens for designer thrifts, and social media accounts documenting archival fashion collections have risen to prominence, “designer pieces are not only seen as cut-throat profitable commodities, but also targets to copy ideas of what has been created”.

Since McQueen’s death in 2010, a huge influx of attention has been paid to collecting his designs to resell.

At the time of writing, a 1997 bumster La Poupée, gold dress with wear and tear is going for £1,500 on eBay. McQueen was famed for his construction methods and authentic pieces can be deciphered simply by studying the sewing. “It didn’t take long to start seeing threads and themes that ran consistently through his work. It is very exciting to connect stories across years and see their parallels.”

With a focus on the feeling behind a collection, Matheson is driven by the experimental and louder side to McQueen, noting Givenchy by McQueen AW98 the Blade Runner collection and AW06 The Widows of Culloden as two stand-out shows for this reason. “It makes for fewer ‘favourites’ versus flavours you crave at any given moment.”

As Matheson concludes, “Even if you may not have loved what he did, his creations made you respond, think and venture into ideas that might be uncomfortable or unsettling. It’s intriguing to watch the audience instead of the models when viewing his shows. Their range of reactions say it all.”

NYFW Will Only Allow Vaccinated Guests To Attend Shows

This New York Fashion Week, the hottest ticket in town will be a vaccination card. The Council of Fashion Designers of America, which is working together with IMG this year, will require all fashion week guests to be fully vaccinated. Anyone attending shows will be asked to have proof of vaccination, a spokesperson told BoF. Guests ages are 16 and under will be allowed to show negative Covid test results while those who don’t cooperate will not be permitted inside the shows.

“Together, we encourage the broader industry to follow suit and protect the wellbeing of our fashion community this September,” a spokesperson said. “We will closely follow updates and recommendations from the CDC, New York State and City, releasing comprehensive health and safety guidelines in mid-August.”

Earlier in the week, IMG organizations notified designers showing at NYFW: The Shows that vaccinations are required, as first reported by WWD. Designers hosting shows this year include Ulla Johnson, Rodarte, Moschino, Peter Do and Tom Ford. “Strict compliance will be enforced with admittance denied for non-compliance, subject to state and federal law,” the companies wrote in a memo, which was seen by BoF.

IMG told the designers that they will be responsible to enforce the rule, which applies to all staff, as well as contractors like models, publicists and makeup artists. The two hosts will decide on other health-related rules like mask requirements in the coming weeks.

The news comes just after New York City announced that proof of vaccination will be required in order for guests to enter gyms, restaurants and other indoor spaces. Pressure to increase vaccination rates is growing nationwide: As the spread of the Delta variant has led to the rise in Covid-19 infection rates, more workplaces are requiring their employees to get vaccinated.

Vaccine distribution has been a hot point of contention since the beginning of the year. Some 18 percent of American adults don’t plan to get the vaccine and nearly 90 percent of that group say they are more concerned about it than getting sick from the actual virus, a July poll from the Economist and YouGov found. Conservative American politicians like Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and Republican Party chairman John Bennett have even compared restrictions on unvaccinated Americans to Jewish persecution during the Holocaust.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

What Are We Going To Wear?

Ties. Dozens of patterns, colors and fabrics — discounts on 300 different styles. That’s what Nordstrom had planned for its big sale last July. The company had worked with trend forecasters and talked with designers, but history was its best guide. Based on previous sales, the retailer was confident that shoppers would be seeking out deals on office wear like ties, dresses, heels and handbags. By the end of February, it had ordered everything it planned to sell at the event.

Months later, the world had rearranged itself in a way no trend forecasters could have predicted. The summer sale was pushed to August and had just 15 types of ties. (People did still sometimes dress up for Zoom calls.)

“There was nothing for staying home and working remote,” Teri Bariquit, Nordstrom’s chief merchandising officer, said in an interview. The retailer threw itself into tracking terms that newly isolated customers were searching for on its website and on Google (“cozy” and “slippers” among them). It frantically contacted suppliers to buy more activewear and children’s apparel. And it created a tool so that customers could build lists of products they wanted from the sale before it even started.

The world of retail runs on predicting the future. What you buy in July was decided on in November. Trendspotting used to happen largely in person — retailers had eyes and ears on the ground, hunting for cool. Now it is an obsessive study in web traffic and reviews, Instagram and TikTok posts, bridal registry data and restaurant and hotel bookings. This was always a piece of the puzzle for many chains, but it became central to their survival in the past year.

So as we are preparing to head back into the real world, what we will wear and buy once we’re out there is being dictated more than ever by our lives online.

Big retailers have been feeling enormous pressure to make the right bets on what consumers will want in the second half of 2021 and beyond. Apparel sales in the U.S. declined 19 percent overall last year, while fashion footwear sales declined 27 percent, according to the NPD Group. A long list of pandemic bankruptcies included Brooks Brothers and the owner of Ann Taylor and Loft, while many other large chains laid off workers and closed stores.

Madewell, which is owned by J. Crew Group, has long relied on a panel of about 5,000 brand enthusiasts to weigh in on new products and styles. But once the pandemic hit, the company suddenly needed less on hemline lengths and more on what exactly their customers were doing every day. It was a shift in focus that many retailers made, and it seems likely to last well beyond when stores fully reopen around the world.

“Trends become irrelevant, and it really became about how people were living and what they were doing and how they were feeling,” Anne Crisafulli, Madewell’s senior vice president of merchandising said. “Those are the questions we started asking. It was less about, ‘Are mini dresses in or out,’ or ‘What prints are in?’”

A festive cape, draped from your shoulders, paired with a dress and glitzy heels while you sip on mulled wine. That’s the sort of scene Macy’s was envisioning for holiday parties in 2020, before the reality of Zoom nights in living rooms.

“We really felt good about this dress-up opportunity, people really feeling glam,” said Nata Dvir, Macy’s chief merchandising officer. “We were thinking about outerwear being as bold as capes.”

Bloomingdale’s, which is owned by Macy’s, had forecast “a mix of utility and romanticism,” which would have included puff sleeves, eyelets and maxi dresses, said Denise Magid, an executive vice president at Bloomingdale’s who oversees ready-to-wear apparel.

Major department stores have fashion offices filled with undisclosed numbers of employees who are keeping track of new styles, surfing social media and liaising with designers. Big retailers also usually subscribe to online services that aggregate signals from Google Trends and social media. They work with agencies that specialize in fashion forecasting, like Stylus and WGSN, which project broader consumer habits along with more granular details like seasonal color palettes, textiles and silhouettes. They all also obsessively track their competition.

Much of that work used to take place in person. WGSN, for example, offered city guides to American retail buyers on trips abroad. “If a buyer from a department store wanted to go to Paris, we’d have a guide that would tell them where to go and eat and which stores they should see for different things,” said Francesca Muston, the vice president of fashion content at WGSN. Runway shows were also important. At Bloomingdale’s, before the pandemic, “runway was a huge component of what we were forecasting, because what you saw on runway would trickle down to other collections,” Ms. Magid said.

As everything went virtual last year, including runway shows, social media took on new importance, and retailers rushed into anything that smelled like a trend, sometimes tapping Los Angeles-based manufacturers to help them out on a faster timeline.

“Instagram and TikTok have filled that void, and it kind of changes the dynamics again about speed and being reactive because things have a shorter life span,” Ms. Magid said. She recalled an overnight surge in demand for denim joggers in the fourth quarter after a “famous influencer” (the retailer wouldn’t say who) wore a pair by Rag & Bone on an Instagram Story.

“We happened to have it,” she said. But then the question became, “‘How quickly can we get more joggers on the floor?’ And it was in a matter of weeks we were able to react.”

The industry has undeniably been battered in the past year. But there were some bright spots, and retailers were able to make certain shifts, including last minute buys of slippers and lounging garb before the holidays.

TikTok also fueled a cottagecore trend, as characterized by long billowy dresses, “which has been huge for our clients,” said Ms. Muston. “It spoke to a need for escapism and fantasy at a time when people were locked up,” she said. When people did go outside, to eat under a restaurant heat lamp or to take a walk as their primary leisure activity, cottagecore was perfect, Ms. Muston said. It “spoke to that whole reconnection with nature.”

Jenn Hyman, Rent the Runway’s chief executive, knows what she doesn’t want to see anymore. As she told the clothing rental company’s buying team in September: “If it was lounge-y enough, comfortable enough, boring enough, gray enough to wear in 2020, we’re not buying it for 2021.”

Rent the Runway, which is popular for special occasions and workwear, plans much of its business three to six months in advance. To try and predict an unpredictable future this year, the company said it had been studying traffic on streets, OpenTable and airline bookings, and office occupancy rates in big cities to understand the economic recovery and demand for its goods.

“We got to the point where we were calling wedding venues in top destinations around the country to understand what their bookings were,” Ms. Hyman said.

The site has also reaped data from customers reserving specific dresses and other items ahead of time and adding “hearts” to desired items. It can see when women build collections of potential rental clothing with labels indicating whether they’re for birthdays, honeymoons or other events.

“We started seeing very interesting, very different data, starting at the beginning of February, that led us to believe that the recovery was going to happen earlier and at a steeper clip than what we originally had forecast,” Ms. Hyman said.

Bloomingdale’s has been watching people add new wedding dates to its bridal registries and has gleaned insights from its Florida stores, which opened earlier than elsewhere in the country. People came in “wanting sexier dresses, bodycon dresses and going out tops,” Ms. Magid said, which could be an early indicator for the rest of the country.

That demand prompted the retailer to seek dressier options than the “very casual” styles that vendors were showing the chain between the fall and March, though it noted that comfort remained key. She said that some of the whimsy and romanticism that the retailer had expected in 2020 could appear later this year as part of a possible “prairie trend.” (Indeed, the puff sleeve has become perhaps too ubiquitous in recent weeks.)

Macy’s saw consumers search for prom dresses in December even though they weren’t ready to purchase them, which gave the retailer confidence that proms, canceled last year, would actually be a thing in 2021. “People tend to browse before they’re really ready to convert,” Ms. Dvir of Macy’s said. “We had anticipated that it would be good because we did see people were searching as early as they had been. Same with wedding, mother-of-the-bride dresses.”

Despite the shock of the pandemic, retailers are cautiously optimistic about the year ahead — a sentiment buoyed by retail sales in March, which beat expectations and rose by nearly 11 percent, including a 23 percent jump in clothing and accessories. Sales have since fluctuated, keeping their optimism in check.

There is even good news in a potential mass movement to high-waisted, loosefitting, generation-dividing jeans away from a decade of skinny denim dominance. It offers hope that consumers are ready for something new.

Comfort does still reign king. Many retailers are hedging their bets, describing the importance of being “nimble” with inventory and championing “versatility” in their apparel assortments in 2021. There is a big focus on clothes that are designed to be worn between home and hybrid work and to post-hybrid work cocktails.

“I’m not super stressed if people are going to have weddings and things like that,” Ms. Crisafulli of Madewell said. “We’ll add and buy into dresses if that really starts to pick up, but where we’ve been more focused is this shift back into real life and what day-to-day life is going to look like.”

Ms. Muston of WGSN said her firm’s forecasts “have been looking much more at adaptability and versatility in something like dresses.” That extends to ideas like tying them in different ways for unique looks or crafting removable collars to maximize single garments. Versatility also connects to key ideas around conscious consumption and sustainability, which will also probably guide at least some portion of shoppers in the next year.

Retailers have been trying to find ways to shorten their time horizons — for department stores, private labels like Aqua at Bloomingdale’s often offer the best vehicle for jumping on whatever is striking it big on TikTok or Instagram. Madewell said that it can make shifts to its clothing in as little as eight weeks and that it has been testing demand for some items on its website before fully releasing them.

Nordstrom merchants, who initially predicted that shoppers would flock to its workwear and office dresses in the summer of 2020, have been talking with designers about how those definitions are changing as it prepares for this year’s sale, which is scheduled for the end of July. This time, even as stores are open, the company is bringing back the ability for customers to make digital wish lists of sale items before the event starts and said it is offering ways for shoppers to digitally communicate with salespeople.

“No one is envisioning a customer wanting to come back in with four-inch stilettos and a buttoned-up suit and tie,” Ms. Bariquit said. She is confident people will want to get dressed up again, she said, but thinks they will dress for work in a different way.

Customers are telling the retailer that they “love the comfort they’re feeling in their joggers, yet they don’t want to wear their joggers to the office,” she said. “So how does that translate to soft pants of the future?”

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

What Does A Male Model Think On The Catwalk?

Being a model may seem totally glamorous—think of all the free clothes and international travel!—but at the end of the day, it’s a job just like any other. On TikTok, male model Mathieu Simoneau is aiming to demystify stereotypes by offering an unfiltered, behind-the-scenes look at what a day in the life of a model really looks like (including the good, the bad, and the ugly).

Simoneau is a top Korean-Canadian male model who, at 20 years old, has already walked for Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, and Jeremy Scott. He started posting on the app in April last year, and he already has over 980,000 followers. “With modeling, it’s standard for models to post their work on Instagram; It can be seen as the social media version of your portfolio,” says Simoneau.“I thought it couldn’t hurt to post my work on TikTok as well. I had noticed that there was a lack of runway models creating content on the app.”

One of Simoneau’s most popular TikTok series is when he shares what he was thinking about while walking on the runway (it has ranged from “don’t laugh,” to “I can’t see at all”). “It was inspired by a trend where athletes made videos about what they thought during their competitions, so I transferred that over to modeling,” Simoneau says of the series. He also regularly shares what a day in the life looks like during fashion month or on a shoot. “Videos of models walking on the runway are cool, but the personal touch of what I’m thinking, or the backstage process, offers a different dimension,” he says. “I think it’s more fun.”

Below, Simoneau talks about his style, what his favorite show to walk in has been so far, and what video idea he’ll tackle next.

Sometimes the inspiration for the videos comes to me extremely easily. Last summer, there was a “Vogue challenge” where people were sharing their best pictures with the Vogue logo edited in. This trend was especially easy for me, because I just used pictures Vogue Italia took of me—effortless on my part. Other times, I just think about what people want to see: a good way of telling what people want to see is to read the comments on my videos. Often, I will make videos directly responding to a question a follower posted on one of my videos. Another thing I do is browse the app and see what other creators are doing.

How would you describe your style?

I would describe my style as a mix of avant-garde, designer, vintage, and casual clothes. I know that’s kind of a copout, because that’s like all genres of clothing, but when I want to dress nice, I will wear avant-garde/designer but usually I’m bumming around in comfy clothes. I shop for most of my clothing on SSENSE and Grailed.

What's the most special piece in your closet?

The most special piece in my closet is a shirt from Dsquared because it has my name imprinted on the back, so it’s unique. It also came with the sweetest handwritten note from the Dsquared team.

We love that you offer a real, behind-the-scenes look at the modeling world. What's the biggest misconception about the job?

People think that models get to keep all the clothes they wear on the runway and for shoots. This would never happen, because we are modeling clothes that will not come out for 6 to 18 months from the shoot date. To be honest, if I was a clothing brand, I wouldn’t trust a group of 17 to 23 year old’s with my unreleased collection either. Not to mention that giving some of these outfits would be giving away thousands of dollars.

What’s been your favorite show to walk in so far?

Every show is unique in every way, so I don’t know how I could possibly pick a favorite, but I know that the most memorable show for me will always be my first show, Calvin Klein 205W39NYC, for fall 2018. It was my first show, and it was so high profile. I made sure to soak in every moment of that experience. I was a high school junior and walking for Calvin Klein—I had to sneak out of French class to take selfies to send to my agency. The size of the show, the other models that were in it, the set, and the celebrities that attended was almost overwhelming for me.

What's the key to a good runway walk?

My agent drilled me on my walk for hours before my first casting—it also helps that I naturally walk very fast and have a mean resting face. I think the key to a good runway walk is not to think about it too hard. There are key elements like pace, facial expression, and direction that always need to be focused on, but trying to control every element of your walk can result in an awkward performance. For runway models, after a season the walk is something that comes naturally and is like a switch that can be turned on or off.

We love your series, "What I think about on the runway." What's been the craziest/funniest thing you've thought about while walking?

Probably my first show: As I was walking down the runway, I arrived at the main section where the cameras are filming, and I was very unprepared for what I was met with. Instead of 1 or 2 cameras, I was met with a wall of at least 20 cameras; it is surreal seeing the number of photographers and tripods meshing together to form its own entity. I had no idea which cameras my eye should be looking at and had a mini panic attack. I chose the middle one as a guess and it ended up being the correct one, it’s been my rule ever since.

What has been your most viral video, and why do you think it went viral?

Part 3 of the “what I think about on the runway” series is my most viral video with 11 million views, closely followed by (and will be surpassed by) the backstage video of Dior SS22. I think these videos go viral because it offers a more grounded insight into the world of modeling. Videos of models walking on the runway are cool, but the personal touch of what I’m thinking, or the backstage process offers a different dimension, I think it’s more fun.

What's your favorite TikTok of all time? And which one took you the longest?

My favorite TikTok I’ve ever made is probably the Paris fashion week day in the life of a model, because I had been wanting to show my followers what a fashion week day looks like forever—multiple shows that overlap each other in one day is just an example of how hectic it can get. The one that took me the longest was the Dior backstage, because I had to film multiple takes of nearly everything and find footage from other models to compile into one video.

What's the next big idea you want to attempt on TikTok?

I want to do a TikTok with my model friends that shows off the camaraderie of the group of runway models. There’s only a few hundred boys that are walking runway shows, so we end up working with each other constantly and become friends with each other. I also want to do it because it’s so funny to see a group of models hangout, because we are all built the same: a group of thirty 6’1 to 6’3 boys looks funny no matter how often I see it.

Monday, August 2, 2021

“#LiveLoveLift”: Marc Jacobs Explains Why He Decided To Instagram His Facelift Recovery

For Marc Jacobs, sharing – like, really sharing – has always been second nature. In the age of social media, the 58-year-old designer keeps nothing close to the chest... and a facelift is no exception. Last week, Jacobs caused a stir on Instagram when he uploaded a selfie post-op, his head wrapped in bandages and flanked by blood-filled drainage tubes. His caption – “#LiveLoveLift” – was met with much enthusiasm in the comment section, with many praising his honesty, openness, and sense of humour around going under the knife. “The transparency is everything!” said stylist June Ambrose. Beauty writer Jolene Edgar also credited his candour, writing, “Fighting stigma in true MJ fashion.”

Of course, while Jacobs’s 1.6 million followers are used to seeing him share the ins and outs of his daily life on Instagram, there’s something quite extraordinary about anyone, let alone someone of Jacobs’s stature, pulling back the curtains on their plastic surgery – and in real time, no less. While surgical and non-surgical cosmetic treatments continue to grow rapidly, especially amid the pandemic when staring at our faces on Zoom teamed with a more flexible recovery schedule have caused a boom, the secrecy and shame still largely remain. But Jacobs is more than happy to do what he can to help shift societal attitudes and shed stigma around plastic surgery. As he chronicles his experience in multiple posts on Instagram, he’s helping educate curious parties on the recovery and results of the latest cutting-edge procedures. (And let’s be real, the facelift could use some help in the PR department.)

New York plastic surgeon Dr Andrew Jacono performed Jacobs’s “more modern” facelift using the advanced deep plane technique he’s been pioneering for more than 13 years, which lifts only under the muscle layer, leaving the skin attached to the muscle layers to steer clear of tightness for a smoother, softer lifted look. The surgeon sees Jacobs’s willingness to be transparent as an important step forward for openness and acceptance. “A big frustration is that people in the public eye that have means seem to be genetic mutants and make the rest of us feel like we’re not up to par,” he explains. "But the truth is there’s a certain point in life where you can’t fix things without surgery. The people who look good never talk about it, so it only adds to the confusion. When someone of Marc’s status is sharing, it helps people realise that there are things we all can do to maintain ourselves and enhance our appearance. It sends people a message: Yes, it’s possible to look like yourself, it’s not as bad as you think, and you can get the results you want without looking like you had bad plastic surgery.”

Ever the open book, Jacobs discusses his decision to get a facelift, how admitting you’ve had cosmetic surgery can help others, and what he believes the future of ageing in our modern world will be, below.

To start, could you talk me through your relationship to cosmetic procedures and how you ultimately decided to get a facelift?

I started [getting cosmetic procedures] many years ago. I don’t remember exactly when, but Steven Meisel had recommended a doctor named Dr Brandt who was, of course, pretty famous and everybody knew. I started going to Dr Brandt like most of my friends did and would get some Botox and some fillers. But I was always very conservative with it. Unfortunately, we lost Dr Brandt, and then I started going to Dr Frank, who was also recommended by Steven. What was really bothering me was my neck and how loose the skin was. I started to become very conservative with the Botox because I don’t like the way guys looked when they were, like, very Botoxed and even with the filler, it seemed like it was just becoming too much. So I started doing thread lifts to hold up my jowls and the area of my face where the skin was sagging. But I found that those were only effective for a very short period of time. The fillers were too heavy and the threads didn’t really hold anything up anymore. So Dr Frank said, “I can continue doing stuff to your face, but it’s really not going to help much. It’s not going to be effective. You’re at that time where I think you should consider a surgery that requires cutting rather than like injecting.” So I got recommendations and, out of everyone, I fell in love with Dr Jacono immediately and definitely thought from everything we’d seen online that he was the best.

You’re about a week into your recovery. How are you feeling, and what do you think of the results so far?

I love the results. I’m very happy. I’m still in the process of going to this hyperbaric oxygen chamber every day for a couple of hours, which is supposed to help with healing. I’m just in the beginning of what will be a few weeks, or a couple of months, before I have a full recovery. There was some discomfort after the surgery where I took painkillers. I made sure I had a nurse who monitored those painkillers so that I wouldn’t abuse them, because I do have a problem with addiction, so I was very transparent with my people in AA, my sponsor, etc. Now I’m just taking extra-strength Tylenol and don’t really feel any discomfort. Just some tightness and pulling in my neck, which feels foreign, but not uncomfortable.

Did you have any reservations around sharing that you’d had a facelift, or had you been planning to share your journey all along?

I mean, there have been so many things that I’ve been transparent about. Like, once when I went to an event with a baseball cap, and people asked me, “Why are you wearing a baseball cap?” And I said, “Well, I just had a hair transplant.” People were amused and amazed that I answered. [Laughs] But, honestly, what’s the difference? I’m not covering my face. I’m not wearing sunglasses. I’m not incognito. I’ve got some scars around my ears, and my face is swollen, and I have a bruised neck, but I’m still posting on Instagram. I don’t care. I don’t even see it as an effort to be transparent. I’m doing what I normally do, which is living my life and sharing it with anybody who is interested.

Whether intentional or not, how might you want your transparency to help push the conversation around ageing and procedures forward?

I’m 58 years old. I don’t think I look bad for 58 years old. I didn’t feel like I had to do this, but I feel like all of these conversations around ageing or around plastic surgery are just like any other conversations to me. The problem comes with the shame around them. And I don’t want to live my life with shame, you know? I find that the way I do that is by being open, transparent, and honest about things. Yes, I’m vain. I find there is no shame in being vain. I find there’s no shame in wanting attention. I find there’s no shame in getting dressed up and showing off a look. You know what I mean? Those are some of the things that give me pleasure. Self-care on every level, whether it’s spiritual self-care or meditation, or whether it‘s getting my hair dyed and cut, or spending two hours at JINSoon getting my nails done… those are all part of wellness for me. External and internal wellness are really important. I say the same thing about all of it, which is that the better I feel about myself, the better I’m able to be to others.

Why do you think there’s still shame around getting work done, particularly for those in the public eye?

It all comes down to shame and these old paradigms. When you look at current male and female actors, and they’re expected to look a certain way in order for the audience to see them the way they want to see them, they have to uphold this myth that they are what you see on screen, that they’re not real. Who believes that someone will look the same for 30 years on screen? But there is this kind of standard and we’re very much a product of the world we live in. That’s the part that I find really strange. In a world, especially one where a younger generation is all about transparency, disclosure, and honesty, I don’t see why people have this shame around vanity or keeping up with a certain thing. You know, we all have filters on our phones. We all retouch and filter our pictures. That’s the world we live in. It’s like this thing we do because the audience wants it, but the audience wants it because we do it. So it’s this funny little circle. But the thing that I find disappointing or difficult about that circle is that you could just remove the shame, and be honest and straightforward. It seems so crazy when an actor or public figure denies that they’ve done something. And they say like, “Oh, it’s olive oil, I bathe in seltzer.” It’s like, come on. Like all those things might be true, but they’re not why your neck is tight.

In terms of cosmetic enhancements and plastic surgery, how do you see the ubiquity and societal attitude changing in the years, or even decades, to come?

I don’t know what the equivalent of this would have been like 30 years ago, but you can imagine that there’s always been something. Whatever the next thing, there will be a certain group of people that will find these treatments or suggestions of how they can alter their appearance. There will probably be different ones in years from now. But look, it’s not new. People have always been very youth-oriented. If you ask most older people how they want to look, they don’t say they want to look old. You know? I mean, youth has always been what people aesthetically want to achieve. There’s no disgrace in being old or looking old. It’s just a choice to want to look younger. I don’t think there’s any disgrace in that. There will always be products or treatments, and there will always be some people who prefer to use those products or things as a means to achieve the aesthetics that they prefer. It’s like everything now… to start a dialogue is really what it’s about. It’s just funny how many people responded to my posts in that way of like, “Thank you for your transparency, your transparency is everything.” I think you just need to start a conversation, and then maybe that will have a resounding echo that helps people feel less ashamed. I just don’t think there’s shame in being vain.

Saint Laurent Opens Tasteful New Stores In Greece And Spain

Saint Laurent recently opened new stores in Mykonos, Greece, and Ibiza, Spain of the Balearic Islands. The Mykonos store is located in the “Nammos Village” and features a design that is reminiscent of the local architecture. Specifically, the walls and floors are made up of white and gray tadelakt, which is a waterproof plaster. Inside the store, nickel-plated brass structures with clear glass and exotic frayed wood fill the space. Additionally, the store has a terrace with white and black marble tables and a pergola-covered seating area. This boutique features both men’s and women’s products.

The new Ibiza store is located in La Marina and simultaneously reflects the Saint Laurent store concept while featuring a timeless Art Deco style. The store is clad in white statuario marble walls offering a seamless look. Additionally, concrete floors, walls and other structures feature nickel-plated brass and clear glass. Contrasting the white and silver color palette are dark wood benches. The boutique offers a wide range of the house’s women’s products including ready-to-wear, leather goods, shoes, sunglasses and jewelry. Both stores are finished by a selection of African artworks and vintage furniture. Additionally, the Myknosos store is Saint Laurent’s first location in Greece.

A Look Behind The Artists At Maison Margiela's 2021 Couture Show

Craving more content from Margiela's couture show? Look no further, CR is here to bring behind the scenes footage from the show's looks created by skilled artisans Anna Sokolova, Celia Pym, and Hélène Vitali. The three leaders in their craft break down the true craftsmanship behind what it takes to create couture in a behind-the-scenes look at the making behind Creative Director John Galliano's latest Fall/Winter 2022 Haute Couture collection.


In this short clip, Soklova tells the story of how the hand-embroidered white wool jumper came to be. Each panel that makes up the jumper is meant to be read like a story with intricate details that forces a viewer to get a bit closer to fully observe the garment. When it comes to this collection, Galliano is focused on the devil in the details.


Galliano and Pym teamed up to work on the collection's attention to stitchwork and embroidery. Vintage newspapers were repurposed and sewn onto a select few from the collection's knitwear. Akin to when grandmother sews a hole in your jacket, Pym's work perfectly captured the sense of emotion we tie into our clothing.


Here, viewers get a glimpse into how Vitali's handmade stained mirror fragment dress with leather lacing paired with Recicla denim trousers and a white cotton vest came to exist. A local artisan, the vision of a mirror fragmented dress came from the idea of looking through a mirror and that "memories can be seen in a fragmented way". Blending the craft of jewelry making and garment making, this museum-grade piece pushes the boundaries of couture and the impossible.