Thursday, November 24, 2022

Alessandro Michele Is Exiting Gucci After A Wildly Successful Seven-Year Run

Alessandro Michele is exiting Gucci, the brand announced today. The Roman designer had an enormously successful almost eight-year run that reversed the fortunes of the Kering-owned Italian heritage label and changed the look of fashion.

Michele was a Tom Ford hire and worked under Frida Giannini. He was plucked from the accessories studio by Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri, an unexpected choice if ever there were one. Early requests for interviews with the scruffy haired designer, who came out for his first bow in January 2015 surrounded by his team, had to wait for the then-unknown to go through media training.

In a statement Bizzarri said: “I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet Alessandro at
the end of 2014, since then we have had the pleasure to work closely together as Gucci has charted its successful path over these last eight years. I would like to thank him for his 20 years of commitment to Gucci and for his vision, devotion, and unconditional love for this unique house during his tenure as creative director.”

But if he was a shy or reluctant front-man at first, he made an instant impact. His first hit walked his debut women’s runway for autumn/winter 2015. That season’s kangaroo-lined loafers had Gucci’s familiar horse-bit hardware, but otherwise announced that Michele would be taking the label in a more eclectic, eccentric direction.

From the get-go, he established his magpie aesthetic, lifting liberally from you-name-the-decade in time expanding style and ushering in an era of gender nonconformity that continues today, while growing a loyal fan base in usually-fickle Hollywood in the process. Michele’s singular vision seduced the likes of Jared Leto (a Michele doppelganger), Dakota Johnson, Billie Eilish, and Harry Styles, whose collaboration with the designer, Ha Ha Ha, recently arrived in stores. In him, perhaps they saw a kindred soul – he studied costume design at Rome’s Academy of Costume and Fashion. In any case, he cultivated a tight-knit group; his Gucci family was a merry band of artists who wore their hearts sometimes literally on their sleeves.

Michele had a flair for rule-breaking hook-ups. There was the autumn/winter 2021 Hacker Project with his Kering stablemate Demna of Balenciaga, and then a year later he beat Demna and Balenciaga to the punch with Gucci’s Adidas collab. Earlier in the pandemic, Michele enlisted the director Gus Van Sant to create a short film set in his hometown of Rome, indulging his love for movies. When he was taken to task for lifting from the Harlem couturier Dapper Dan, Gucci went into business with him. And it was during his tenure that the company launched the Vault, an online resale project for reworked treasures from the label’s jet-set era heyday and an e-commerce emporium for on-the-rise designers that won his seal of approval, among them Collina Strada’s Hillary Taymour, Bianca Saunders, and Rui Zhou.

His most prolific collaborator was his partner Giovanni Attili, who drafted what have to be fashion’s most scholarly, if sometimes impenetrable, show notes. Autumn/winter 2018’s source material, Donna Haraway’s “A Cyborg Manifesto”, helped produce one of Michele’s most memorable shows for the house, complete with models carrying lifelike replicas of their own heads. The collection was a metaphor for how people construct their identities with the help of machines and other non-natural additions – “we are the Dr Frankenstein of our own lives”, Michele said at the time – but he was the most human of designers: deeply ruminative and romantic.

Michele’s arrival at Gucci coincided with fashion’s newfound penchant for taking pre-season shows on the road, and he stage-directed some goodies. From the Roman necropolis that is the Alyscamps in Arles, France, to the Roman Forum itself, and from Westminster Abbey in London to LA’s Hollywood Boulevard, where as many celebrities walked the runway as sat in the front row, he was a master at creating an atmosphere. In Milan, Michele’s first shows took place at the Diana Majestic, home to Tom Ford and Frida Giannini’s collections for the brand, but soon moved to new headquarters on the edge of the city whose impressive block-spanning size signalled the brand’s newfound prosperity.

It was on Michele’s watch that Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci was released, and if it was Tom Ford whose likeness appeared on the big screen, in other ways it was Michele’s movie. His pal Jared Leto camped it up as Paolo Gucci, and Lady Gaga, the movie’s scene-chewing star, wore gowns of his design on the red-carpet circuit. Indeed, the Sara Gay Forden book that the movie was based on was published in 2000, but it was only after Gucci’s return to relevance under Michele that the movie finally went into production.

But in fashion even the brightest stars don’t shine forever. Perhaps because of Michele’s agenda-setting success, Gucci’s sales eventually started to dip, and in the wake of the pandemic parent company Kering’s shares fell amidst the brand’s slow-down. A recent WWD report quoted an anonymous source claiming Michele “was asked to initiate a strong design shift”. If that is so, it appears Michele resisted it. With a highly emotional show for spring 2023 featuring 68 sets of twins, he only doubled down on his vision. The show notes from his first women’s collection for autumn/winter 2015 are telling, in this regard. In them is a line from the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben: “Those who are truly contemporary are those who neither perfectly coincide with their time nor adapt to its demands…”

Michele offered his own statement: “There are times when paths part ways because of the different perspectives each one of us may have. Today an extraordinary journey ends for me, lasting more than 20 years, within a company to which I have tirelessly dedicated all my love and creative passion. During this long period Gucci has been my home, my adopted family. To this extended family, to all the individuals who have looked after and supported it, I send my most sincere thanks, my biggest and most heartfelt embrace. Together with them I have wished, dreamed, imagined. Without them, none of what I have built would have been possible. To them goes my most sincerest wish: may you continue to cultivate your dreams, the subtle and intangible matter that makes life worth living. May you continue to nourish yourselves with poetic and inclusive imagery, remaining faithful to your values. May you always live by your passions, propelled by the wind of freedom.” A moving sentiment, and a remarkable tenure.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Kingdom Of Dreams Lifts The Lid On The Paris Fashion Industry

"Fashion is a dream-maker, a myth-creator; an illusion, a spell," starts the first episode in a new fashion documentary series from Fremantle, "…driven by greed and envy." Starring Anna Wintour, Bernard Arnault and wall-to-wall 90s supermodels, the series charts a golden period in fashion history: the 1990s-2010s. Packed with fashion drama, the four-part series explores how luxury tycoons Bernard Arnault (LVMH Group) and François Pinault (Kering) built their rival empires in Paris, while US Vogue Creative Director Anna Wintour shaped contemporary fashion behind the scenes. The series premiered at the ASVOFF fashion film festival in Paris earlier this month, and is expected to be sold to networks and streaming services soon.

The series begins in the 1980s, when many of the iconic fashion houses in Paris had fallen into decline. Bernard Arnault, then a young and ambitious entrepreneur, seized the opportunity to buy ailing fashion house Dior in the 1980s. In doing so, he laid the foundations for what would become the most powerful luxury behemoth of them all: LVMH Group.

The Dior purchase was swiftly followed by the famously acrimonious acquisition of Louis Vuitton, and the sidelining of the Vuitton family which earned Arnault the moniker the 'Wolf in Cashmere' for his ruthless, US-style approach to business in the then much less dynamic French luxury market. It also set a precedent for buying designers' names, which would see a rash of designers stripped of their own houses in the 1990s.

Meanwhile his ally, Anna Wintour, then Editor-in-Chief of US Vogue, was reinvigorating the fashion industry by throwing her weight behind the dynamic young designers that would eventually helm household names. Fresh out of London's Central Saint Martins, we meet John Galliano, the picture of youthful joy and exuberant creativity, weaving fashion dreams that are so beguiling that supermodels like Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and Linda Evangelista walked for him for free, at the height of their fame. "You wanted to step into John's light," says creative consultant Amanda Harlech, "the rest was darkness."

With Anna's support, Galliano was able to bring the baroque drama of his fashion to its rightful place: couture, when he was appointed creative director of Givenchy in 1995. Just a year later, he was moved to Dior, opening up the creative directorship at Givenchy, which was filled by another Central Saint Martins graduate, Alexander Lee McQueen, also supernaturally talented. The pair went head-to-head with their debut collections for Spring/Summer 1997 and although the collection was dubbed "a disaster" by the label's founder Hubert de Givenchy, McQueen went on to have stellar success under his own name.

Episode two introduces Tom Ford, who revitalized the house of Gucci in Milan, and in doing so, entered the fray of family rivalry and mafia intrigue. He also made handbags sexy, a business model that Arnault took note of back in Paris, bringing the New York fashion scene's enfant terrible - and Ford contemporary - Marc Jacobs, to design at Louis Vuitton. Arnault also had his eye on Gucci but a hostile takeover was thwarted at the final hour by the man who would become his rival: François Pinault, who went on to buy Saint Laurent and build Kering.

The Arnault-Pinault rivalry is detailed in future episodes, as the pair compete by buying up Europe's fashion houses and developing them with ever-more glamorous power plays, extravagant flagship stores, artist collaborations and celebrity endorsement, all the while ensuring that each brand is accessible to everyone, even if only via a lipstick. No stranger to the world of celebrity, is Anna Wintour, who makes stars out of the new fashion players and reaps the advertising-dollar rewards of their success.

The designers' stories are tinged with sadness. They are each known to have battled drink and drugs and the series also explores the pressures loaded onto designers to drive the fashion machine forwards. Says Dana Thomas, a fashion specialist and author of the book from which the series is derived: "it's all about making noise. The noise will sell everything else," and within such a high-stakes and aggressive business model, the designer is king. Trouble comes, often in the form of addiction and mental health issues, when they begin to believe their own mythology.

What has emerged from this golden era of creativity, is a megalith of an industry, the second-worst pollutant on the planet and the epitome of 21st century globalization. A subversive quartet of designers changed the face of the fashion industry in the 2000s and it was off the back of their talent, that Arnault and his rival, François Pinault grew their businesses. In identifying and supporting them, Anna Wintour was able to extend her influence across both sides of the Atlantic, and the designers themselves were able to live out their dreams in the world's capital of fashion, but at what cost?

From the team behind the recent feature documentary McQueen, Kingdom of Dreams is an emotionally charged romp through the fashion business, coming soon to a screen near you.

Alessandro Michele Is Exiting Gucci, Sources Say

Could a major change be taking place at Gucci? Well-placed sources here say that creative director Alessandro Michele is exiting the brand.

A statement is expected as early as Wednesday. Gucci did not respond to repeated requests for comment late Tuesday Milan time.

A source who spoke on condition of anonymity told WWD that Michele “was asked to initiate a strong design shift” to light a fire under the brand, but the designer did not meet the request. Another source said François-Henri Pinault, chairman and chief executive officer of Gucci’s parent Kering, is looking at a change of pace for the group’s star brand.

This would not be the first time Pinault has shaken up one of Kering’s key brands. Last November, in a surprise move, Pinault ousted Daniel Lee from Bottega Veneta despite the designer’s strong performance at the brand and much critical success.

Lee, who is now creative director at Burberry, was succeeded at Bottega by Matthieu Blazy, who had been in the brand’s studio. Blazy in two seasons has rapidly put his mark on the brand, taking it back to its artisanal roots.

Pinault could be looking to do the same at Gucci, even though Michele’s most recent show for the brand in September was one of the standouts of the spring 2023 season. The designer sent out a stream of models in both his signature androgynous looks as well as some that were more restrained with an injection of more classic tailoring.

The twist came when a partition lifted to show that half the audience was watching the exact same show — the models in the show were all identical twins, in a personal reflection of Michele about identity. He revealed after the show that his mother was a twin and so he always felt he had two mothers.

Michele was officially appointed to the top creative role in January 2015, two days after he first took a bow at the end of Gucci’s men’s fall 2015 show.

With that seminal show he reinvented Gucci with a completely new, quirky and androgynous aesthetic that toppled his predecessor Frida Giannini’s sophisticated jet-set lifestyle image.

Gucci president and CEO Marco Bizzarri selected Michele to succeed Giannini, who had exited a week earlier, and has long been a strong supporter of the designer. However, one source believes “the honeymoon with Bizzarri is over, and the relationship is not as strong as before.”

It may be telling that Michele did not fly to Seoul for Gucci’s repeat Cosmogonie show, scheduled for Nov. 1, which was canceled following the tragic events in the South Korean city, where more than 150 people were killed and dozens were injured after being crushed in a large crowd in the Itaewon nightlife district while celebrating Halloween.

If confirmed, the news comes ahead of Gucci’s return to Milan’s Men’s Fashion Week in January.

Michele’s gender-fluid and romantic spirit has influenced a slew of other designers, and his tenure at Gucci helped the brand cater to a younger and more diverse customer, as well as boost its business. After his appointment, Gucci posted growth exceeding 35 percent for five consecutive quarters by the first quarter of 2018, prompting Bizzarri to set a 10 billion euro revenue target for the brand in June that year.

However, Kering last month reported that its cash cow Gucci continued to underperform versus the group’s other brands, although organic sales picked up pace in the third quarter. Revenues at the Italian label totaled 2.6 billion euros, up 9 percent on a like-for-like basis, following a 4 percent rise in the second quarter.

That was slightly below a consensus of analysts’ estimates, which called for a 10 percent increase in comparable sales at the maker of Dionysus handbags and horsebit loafers. By comparison, organic sales at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s key fashion and leather goods division rose 22 percent year-over-year in the third quarter.

Bizzarri took on his role at Gucci on Jan. 1, 2015, succeeding Patrizio di Marco. He told WWD at the time that elevating Michele to the post of creative director was “looking from outside, not the most obvious choice,” but that he was “exactly the right person” for that position, tasked with halting Gucci’s then-performance declines.

Michele joined the Gucci design studio in 2002 following a stint as senior accessories designer at Fendi. He was appointed “associate” to Giannini in 2011, and in 2014 took on the additional responsibility of creative director of Richard Ginori, the porcelain brand acquired by Gucci in 2013.

Kanye West Sells Balenciaga, Adidas, And Gap hoodies For $20

Kanye West gave a tour around his Los Angeles workshop to an online news site. He showed 100 cut-up hoodies from Balenciaga, Adidas, Yeezy, and Gap, which he will sell for $20.
The clothes are left over from when the companies cut ties with Ye after his antisemitic comments.

Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, says he's selling Balenciaga, Adidas, and Gap hoodies for $20, in a video published by celebrity news site X17.

The rapper-turned-fashion designer gave a tour around his Los Angeles workshop, where ten employees can be seen working with sewing machines. Hundreds of garments are hung on rails, or laid out on tables and across the floor.

Many of them are labelled with his "Ye24" campaign, as West also confirmed he will run for president once again in 2024 . It is unclear if the fashion houses' hoodies are part of this, or a separate endeavor, as they are unbranded.

Ye said: "I cut up 100 hoodies" from Yeezy, Balenciaga, Gap, and Adidas, "and everything we do is going to cost $20."

The companies all cut ties with Ye in the wake of his antisemitic comments last month, with Adidas consequently halving its 2022 earnings forecast.

The German sportswear company also said it will sell more Yeezy designs under its own Adidas branding, because it still owns the copyright, not Ye.

Explaining the thinking behind the $20 hoodies, Ye said: "We need to make sure everyone receives the same level of cuts, the same level of food, same level of water, same level of education."

"We're engineering opportunities, we're getting past the past, we're focused on the future," West continued.

On Monday, Ye made a comeback to Twitter as he tweeted the Hebrew greeting "Shalom" – having previously been suspended for saying he will go "death con 3" on Jewish people.

In the video, he also shows some new jackets he's designed, gifting one to the cameraman before correcting him on his new name, Ye.

He acknowledged "it's gonna take us a while to update," before adding: "As a species we need to update together. Everything's been so divisive: when they say 'diversity,' people look at that like it's a good thing, but we're the United States of America."

Balenciaga and Gap did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment, while Adidas declined to comment.

Albert Nipon, Chairman Of The Albert Nipon Design House, Dies At Age 95

Albert Nipon, chairman of the Albert Nipon design house, died at the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton in Philadelphia on Sunday of natural causes. He was 95.

A private service for friends and family was planned for Monday afternoon.

Together with his late wife, Pearl, Albert Nipon built one of the leading better dress companies in the U.S. in the ’70s and ’80s, selling in stores such as Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Nipon was born in Philadelphia on Sept. 11, 1927, to Louis and Sara Nipon, who owned a delicatessen. Albert Nipon graduated from West Philadelphia High School, where he was a star athlete, excelling in both football and track and field. He served in the U.S. Army for 18 months, ultimately as a sergeant. Nipon received a degree in accounting from Temple University in 1951, where he was a four-year varsity letter winner in football, wrestling and track and field.

In 1952, Albert Nipon met Pearl at an Atlantic City, N.J., hotel party. “He saw her and picked her up and threw her in the swimming pool, fully dressed,” said their son Larry Nipon. They married in 1953. Together they raised a large family and built a major fashion company based in Philadelphia. Pearl Nipon died in 2018 at age 90.

Pearl Nipon had been designing maternity clothing under the name Ma Mere, and Albert Nipon left his accounting job at DuPont in 1955 to manage the business. That business grew into a successful enterprise before it began to struggle. Pearl Nipon left the business to raise her children, but her husband convinced her to make a comeback.

According to Larry Nipon, Ma Mere’s most important client asked Albert if he would consider taking some of the best Ma Mere styles and convert them to career dresses, to accommodate the women who were entering the executive workforce. Around 1972, when separates and pant suits were at their peak of popularity, the Nipons decided to focus on the dress, a business that eventually exploded for them.

The Albert Nipon label would become well known for its use of pussycat bows, elegant collars, cuffs, tucks and pleats. Their risk paid off and at its peak Albert Nipon was generating $60 million in annual dress sales. In addition to Saks and Bergdorf’s, the dresses were sold at 1,000 stores including I. Magnin, Neiman Marcus, Bonwit Teller, Sakowitz and Lord & Taylor. The business eventually expanded to include Nipon Boutique, a dress collection at more modest prices, and Nipon Collectibles, which were separates.

In 1987, Ira Neimark, then-president of Bergdorf’s, told WWD that it was opening a designer shop for Albert Nipon which ranked in the store’s top five dress resources, and “possibly top three.”

“It’s a good dress company and a good dress line. We have a very strong dress business. Therefore a line like Nipon properly programmed has worked out exceptionally well,” said Neimark.

Celebrities such as Mary Tyler Moore, Barbara Walters and Rosalynn Carter wore Albert Nipon’s designs, and the label became one of the most popular of its time. Albert Nipon, regarded as a tough businessman, focused on running the business and Pearl was head of design.

But then the company faced some major problems.

In 1984, Albert Nipon was indicted for tax evasion and bribery. Nipon pleaded guilty in May 1985 to falsifying tax returns and to paying $200,000 to two Internal Revenue Service Agents to avoid paying about $500,000 in personal taxes and $300,000 in corporate taxes. He agreed to pay the back taxes and was sentenced to three years in a minimum security prison in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

When Albert Nipon returned to the business in 1987, the company was in the midst of trying to recover from the emotional and financial sting of his 20 months in prison.

“My coming back allows Larry to get more involved with marketing and sales, and it allows Pearl to get more involved with her designing and the creative end,” Albert Nipon told WWD in 1987. “Frankly I don’t know how they could have done what they’ve been doing. In addition to taking care of our personal matters and business matters that normally I would be taking care of.”

He said at the time that the comeback wouldn’t be complete until his company regained its stronghold in the dress market, which had suffered during Albert’s time in prison. “While I was away I think we got a little off course,” he said. “We got a little too price-driven.”

Ron Frasch, who at the time was a general merchandise manager for women’s apparel at Neiman Marcus, told WWD in 1987 upon Nipon’s return from jail: “You’ve got to remember that without Albert Nipon there never would have been a better dress market. They have always been an important resource. They still are.”

But the company experienced a series of setbacks and financial losses and never fully recovered. In 1988, Albert Nipon declared bankruptcy as a result of a $3.7 million jeopardy assessment by the IRS, and was sold that year to the Leslie Fay Co., which allowed the Nipons to continue running the design business.

Later in his life, Albert Nipon got involved with the Home Shopping Network in fashion marketing and product placement, and parlayed his industry relationships and knowledge into that channel, said Larry Nipon.

Larry Nipon, who is chief executive officer of Zer0 Frixion, which works with companies on revenue and cost management performance, recalled Monday that his father always found something positive in situations where few could. “If he couldn’t find it, he’d create it. He turned every adversity into an opportunity.”

He said no one could ever remember a time when they heard Albert complain. “Albert lived for two things, his family and his work. He wasn’t a man of many interests. His passion for and devotion to those two things left little room for anything else,” said Larry Nipon.

He also recollected the devotion and loyalty exhibited by their many employees. “They loved and respected him and they stayed with him and Pearl for decades. They were his and Pearl’s extended family.”

Stan Herman recalled Monday, “Albert was a mover and shaker. He never left any dust under his feet. He had Pearl, who was a magnificent commercial designer and was one of the best in the business.

“They were a team. He respected designers and he knew a good designer could make his profile that much higher,” Herman said. He noted that Nipon was also involved with home shopping. “He never stopped.” He recalled that when Nipon served time in jail, “it was a shock, but most of the industry handled it gentlemanly.”

Reached for comment Monday, Frasch, who now has his own consulting firm, Ron Frasch Consulting, said, “Albert was an amazing man. He really built a company back when companies had a lot of competition. He was a philanthropist, a great father and a really kind person who was very generous with me over the years in offering advice and counsel.”

He said about Nipon’s time in jail: “It was unfortunate but Albert came back with a big smile on his face and the support of Philadelphia, and moved on with his life.”

Albert Nipon was a lifelong Philadelphia Eagles fan, and even when his health was failing, friends and family would join him in his home on Sunday to watch the Eagles and enjoy his traditional bagels and lox brunch.

In addition to Larry and his wife, Lois, Albert Nipon is survived by his sons Leon and Andrew and his wife, Nancy; daughter Barbara Joy and her husband Craig Spencer, along with nine grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.

Louis Vuitton Scores Big With Campaign Featuring Cristiano Ronaldo And Lionel Messi

Louis Vuitton’s brand campaign featuring Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi is scoring big online.

Since the two soccer stars posted the image showing them playing a game of chess on Saturday, the French luxury house’s campaign has gone viral, racking up a combined 72 million likes on Instagram: 38 million on Ronaldo’s account, 29 million on Messi’s and more than 5 million on the Vuitton account.

In the wake of the ad, Ronaldo became the first person to pass 500 million followers on Instagram. Messi is the second most-followed person with 377 million. Although Ronaldo’s post has yet to beat the world record for the most-liked online post, which is held by @world_record_egg’s picture of an egg with 55.9 million likes, it’s already delivering rich returns.

Ronaldo’s post had a media impact value of $2.8 million in the first 48 hours, according to the Launchmetrics scoring system that assigns a monetary value to every post, interaction or article about a brand to measure its performance and impact.

Messi’s post had a value of $2.6 million, and Vuitton’s post was worth $1.1 million, according to the data and insights firm, which estimated the total MIV of the campaign at $13.5 million, based mainly on media reports about the ad.

Under the tag line “Victory Is a State of Mind,” the campaign was photographed by Annie Leibovitz and broke on Saturday, ahead of the opening day of the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar. It’s in the lineage of its 2010 Core Values campaign featuring legendary players Pelé, Maradona and Zinedine Zidane playing table football.

The concept was the brainchild of Antoine Arnault, head of communication and image at parent company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, who introduced the influential Core Values campaign, starring iconic personalities such as Bono, Mikhail Gorbachev and Angelina Jolie, during his tenure as communications director at Vuitton.

“Bringing these two living legends together, these two modern-day gladiators, had been a longtime dream of mine. I always knew that only the Core Values campaign by Louis Vuitton, the most iconic maison in the world, could do them justice,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The idea of them coming together to play chess came to me after watching my 15-year-old stepson spend hours watching chess championship games on YouTube,” said Arnault, who is married to Russian model and philanthropist Natalia Vodianova, referring to his stepson Viktor Portman.

“I thought that, under Annie Leibovitz’s unique lens, the result could be nothing but legendary. This photo’s beauty goes beyond my wildest expectations but its success on social networks doesn’t surprise me,” he added.

Messi and Ronaldo are shown staring intently at chess pieces placed on the checkerboard canvas of a Louis Vuitton Damier attaché case. Vuitton worked with Bruce Pandolfini, the chess teacher who consulted on the Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit,” to determine the positions of the chess pieces in the picture.

Eagle-eyed aficionados spotted that it mirrors a famous match between Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura from 2017, which ended in a draw, suggesting that it is impossible to declare either Ronaldo or Messi the world’s greatest footballer.

Between 2008 and 2017, the two players between them claimed every Ballon d’Or, the award given to the world’s best male footballer, and Messi has won it twice more since then. Heading into the World Cup, the stakes are high for Messi, 35, and Ronaldo, 37, since neither has won the sport’s most coveted prize despite their individual achievements.

The World Cup has been dogged with controversy over allegations of corruption at FIFA and questions over host country Qatar’s record on human rights, prompting many brands to keep a low profile during the competition.

Vuitton, which has a history of making trophy cases for sports including tennis, basketball, rugby and Formula 1, has had a partnership with FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, since 2010. In addition to designing the travel case for the World Cup trophy, it has launched a capsule collection of soccer-themed leather goods.

Balmain Resort 2023

Egypt seems to be having a moment in the fashion world, and Olivier Rousteing is throwing his gilded scarabs into the mix.

What a sight to behold if his sculptural, iridescent turquoise gown, with its quivering 3D scales resembling crocodile skin, were to glide across the desert at golden hour with the Great Pyramids as a backdrop?

Equally striking would be his famous friend Beyoncé rocking one of his heavily embroidered gold minidresses or bolero jackets on stage. (He memorably designed a glittering Egyptian bodysuit, cape and headdress for the singer’s 2018 Coachella performance.)

Rousteing finished his latest Egypt-inspired effort last May, but ultimately decided to withhold imagery until its retail release this month. While his pre-collection includes plenty of knits, which now account for 40 percent of Balmain’s ready-to-wear business, the designer also met customer demand for exceptional couture pieces.

Bravo to the Balmain atelier for its patience and skill embroidering micro beads so fine that the shoulders of his gowns look shaped from polished grains of sand.

There was also painstaking draping and knotting techniques applied to the T-shirts and jersey gowns, among the more accessible and affordable looks in this vast and diverse collection.

Rousteing has made his Balmain fashions increasingly autobiographical, and linked to his missions. While his runway blowout for spring 2023 during Paris Fashion Week, the one featuring Cher, put the spotlight on the designer’s sustainability ambitions, his use of rustic, natural fabrics including linen and organic cotton started with this pre-collection, employed for tailoring and languid pajama-style dressing.

His bandage dresses for spring 2022 — cathartic designs following his recovery from disfiguring burns after a fireplace explosion — were reprised as uber-chic mummy dressing. “It’s now part of my DNA,” he noted.

(He also must have still been in a Jean Paul Gaultier frame of mind following his one-off couture show for the house last January: He included a long black kilt, picked out with demonstrative top stitching.)

Rousteing noted that founder Pierre Balmain referenced Egyptian culture in the 1950s, so this ancient civilization is also part of the brand lore. “I love Egypt because there’s maximalism and minimalism, and the contrast is incredible,” he enthused.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Bob Mackie Revived One Of Elton John’s Most Iconic Costumes

Singer Elton John closed out his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour at LA’s Dodger Stadium on 20 November. “Tonight is a very special night, a very emotional night for me,” John said shortly after performing “Philadelphia Freedom” on the piano. “It’s been a long journey.” The choice of location was significant, given it’s where John performed a series of sold-out stadium concerts back in 1975 – and where he sported one of his most iconic costumes of all time. You may remember the fully-sequined LA Dodgers baseball uniform he wore, designed by Bob Mackie, master of stage style. It’s a look so memorable that stars like Harry Styles have even replicated it today.

For John’s farewell concert at the famous location, he and Mackie partnered up once again to revive the Dodgers look – though it had a different look and feel this time around. They started with the hat: Mackie wanted to replicate the exact crystal and pearl-encrusted “LA” baseball cap, as the original was lost years ago. “Since we didn’t have the original hat in our hands, and it was 47 years ago, we had to depend on our memory and photos,” Mackie tells Vogue. “But this is as close to the original as possible.” The statement piece was made using “royal-blue sequin yardage, crystal rhinestones set in white in two different sizes, and white embroidery with large, rhinestone buttons on each side of the bill,” says Mackie.

As for the clothing, John partnered with Gucci to update the Dodgers uniform. The Italian fashion house created a sequined robe in the team’s signature blue and silver. “The Gucci robe is a sweet nod to the original,” says Mackie, referring to the traditional baseball jersey and tapered pant combo John wore back in the ’70s. Almost four decades later, Mackie says he never imagined the original Dodgers costume he created would become as well-known as it is now. “I did not expect this – I was creating lots of different things for him at the time, and it was just another quick gag,” says Mackie of the look. “But I am delighted it has become so very famous, and an important moment in Elton’s career.”

Here Are The Eight Finalists For The 2023 International Woolmark Prize

Australia’s Woolmark Company has announced the eight finalists for its prestigious International Woolmark Prize, one of fashion’s most storied competitions. The menswear and womenswear designers in the competition will have a chance to win a grand prize of AU $200,000 (around £112,000), and the Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation, which is valued at AU $100,000 (around £56,000) – Lagerfeld won the top award in 1954.

John Roberts, the managing director for The Woolmark Company, said the finalists have “a passion for pushing the boundaries with merino wool, whilst [also being] focused on improving their brand’s environmental and social impact.” They include the menswear designers Robyn Lynch of Ireland, South Korea’s Maxxij, the French label Bluemarble, Rhuigi Villaseñor of the LA brand Rhude, and Nigeria’s Lagos Space Programme, along with the womenswear labels Paolina Russo from the UK, Marco Rambaldi from Italy, and Denmark’s A. Roege Hove. Roberts added, “this group of designers also aligns with the global trends of casualisation and performance-based apparel – two areas that are well-placed to be enhanced by merino wool.”

Each finalist will receive an initial AU $60,000 (around £34,000) to develop work on a capsule collection around the theme of “Dialogue,” which continues the trend of abstract prompts begun by last year’s “Play.” “We saw the need to ignite creative conversations across all generations and geographical locations,” Roberts explained. The finalists have already begun to parse what the concept means to them and the messages they want to convey through their work.

“My practice is committed to envisioning and partaking in African futures, not merely as a way to project our lives and stories into the future, but to uncover and rediscover the many avenues through which the past continues to inspire and instruct,” said Lagos Space Programme’s Adeju Thompson. Amelia Roege Hove, meanwhile, is keen on getting the point across that “true craftsmanship should be more relevant now than ever.” She added, “if you insist on working within a niche area and investigate its possibilities, it’s a gift more than a limitation.”

A hyper-focus has proven especially successful for past winners like Saul Nash, whose dance-inspired collection included trench coats in weather-sealed wool and jacquards inspired by the Guyanese flag. Among this year’s finalists, Robyn Lynch and Rhude’s Rhuigi Villaseñor are also looking to explore their identities. “I want a sense of pride to come across in my work,” Lynch said, “to change the stereotype of how the Aran knit jumper is seen, and to redesign the structure and shape of something with so much history and tradition; to bring [it] into a new light and a new audience.”

“These are labels which are extensions of very visionary human beings,” said Farfetch’s chief brand officer Holli Rogers, who is an advisory council member. “There’s an inspiring sense of expression in all of the work, the designers are thinking beyond the constraints of hero items and trends. Each of them has a universe; a visual language anchored in clear passion points.”

If the finalists’ collections represent the future of fashion, it’s not only because they are up-and-coming designers, but because they’re already thinking about many of the issues that the industry is grappling with. “The main message we want to get across is that designers and fashion creatives at large should open a global dialogue about the system and its operation; we want our impact to be global, but our production to be local,” Paolina Russo explained. “Pushing each other, from designers to fabric makers, to think about innovative ways of working is necessary for a sustainable future.”

A Peek Inside Sylvia Mantella’s Gucci-Filled Closet

Sylvia Mantella’s parents don’t know what to think about her Gucci collection. Now, that’s not to say they aren’t supportive — far from it — but the vice-president of marketing, sponsorship and philanthropy at Mantella Corporation admits that they’re often at a loss for words when they’re confronted by it. “I’m not shy with my fashion, so sometimes my dad just shakes his head at what I’m wearing,” she laughs, referring to her signature 15-centimetre platforms, patterned suits and flower brooches — all made, of course, by Gucci. And considering her humble beginnings, it’s easy to see why.

Although Mantella was born and raised in Toronto, her mother and father emigrated separately from the Czech Republic in 1968. “They had to restart their lives, so we didn’t have a lot of money for clothes when I was growing up,” she reveals. As a result, Mantella would recreate low-cost versions of looks she saw in magazines in an attempt to emulate the style of “any supermodel from the ’90s.”

But despite her early infatuation with fashion, she didn’t become a gigantic Gucci fan until 2015, when Alessandro Michele took over as creative director. “No one was doing anything else like it,” Mantella shares about the now famous Fall 2015 show, which is often credited with revamping the brand and taking the gender-bending fashion movement into the mainstream. “It was so polar opposite of what former creative directors Tom Ford and Frida Giannini did that, at the time, I just needed to process it.” Once the processing was done, the purchasing began.

Mantella’s closets, of which there are multiple, feel like Studio 54 on steroids. Between the colours, sequins, glitter, sparkle and shine, they’re a visual feast of epic proportions — and just one disco ball away from Saturday Night Fever. But once you get past the sheer volume of it all, you’ll see that the environment is filled with euphoria — and that’s exactly how Mantella likes it. “I get so much joy from seeing all of my items together,” she explains, referring to herself as part collector and part curator of her own mini Gucci museum. “I remember each show, era and season, and every purchase is like a time stamp of where I was in my life.”

Her first-ever piece by Michele was a “Dionysus” shoulder bag from his debut collection. Complete with sparkly lightning bolts, sequined lips and other embellished patches, the purse quickly became Mantella’s go-to accessory, and she claims she used it “every day for a year.” Nowadays, the items she wears most often are her ’70s-inspired Gucci suits. Why? “They make me feel powerful,” she explains. “I sit on a lot of boards with a lot of men, so, for me, wearing a good suit takes my confidence level to a 10.” Extra-high heels have a similar effect. “When I’m wearing a platform, I’m over six feet — taller than most people in the room. It gives me a position of authority, and I like that.”

Mantella also credits Michele and Gucci with the evolution of her style, describing her early years as “super feminine” and her current looks as “colourful, masculine and whimsical.” But the products she purchases aren’t always based on her personal preferences. She also buys certain clothes and accessories based on what she thinks are important to the brand’s history and Michele’s legacy.

So what’s the plan for Mantella’s designer mass? She’s not 100 per cent sure. “I’ll definitely pass a few things down to my kids, and maybe someday they’ll all be donated to a museum or something,” she muses. In the meantime, she will use them as much as she can. “As a collector, you can be scared to wear pieces because you’re afraid you’re going to damage them,” she admits. “But a few years ago, I thought, ‘What am I waiting for?’ So I stopped holding back and started pulling them out.” After all, little head-shaking never hurt anybody. Right, Dad?

Raf Simons Shutters Namesake Label

Belgian fashion designer Raf Simons revealed Monday on Instagram that he is shutting down his own label after “an extraordinary 27-year journey.”The spring 2023 show staged during Frieze London last month will be the designer’s last collection for his own brand.

“I lack the words to share how proud I am of all that we have achieved. I am grateful for the incredible support from my team, from my collaborators, from the press and buyers, from my friends and family, and from our devoted fans and loyal followers. Thank you all, for believing in our vision and for believing in me,” the designer said.

Simons launched his namesake label in 1995. The designer kept growing his brand while working for major fashion houses including Jil Sander, Dior and Calvin Klein.

Pieces from Simons’ early years often fetch high prices on resale sites and during auctions. In 2020, he reissued some 100 pieces of his signature designs throughout the years, including the high-profile collaboration with Sterling Ruby.

Andrew Groves, director of the menswear archive at the University of Westminster, said the moment he heard the news, he immediately thought of the film “Control,” which is about the life of Ian Curtis, the singer of the late-1970s English post-punk band Joy Division.

“Not only is Joy Division so entwined with Simons’ work, but this final move by Simons is surely about control. It has, after all, been what has driven his career over the last 27 years, it is in his approach to design, presentation, and communication,” Groves said.

“His work for me has always embodied the turbulent emotions of adolescence, bubbling just beneath the surface yet always just under control. When other designers have left their namesake brands, such as Helmut Lang and Martin Margiela, these have continued to greater or lesser success, and I can understand Simons’ desire for his brand not to suffer the same fate,” he added.

Groves also suspects that there will be a second act. “Similar to how New Order emerged from the demise of Joy Division, I’m hoping this is merely a prelude to something else, something unusual and surprising,” he said.

Simons will continue to work at Prada, where he was named co-creative director of the brand in February 2020, working in partnership with Miuccia Prada “with equal responsibilities for creative input and decision making,” the company said at the time. The first codesigned collection was unveiled digitally for spring 2021 during Milan Fashion Week.

The recruitment of Simons suggested that Prada and Patrizio Bertelli, co-chief executive officer of the Prada Group, were readying a succession plan at the Italian fashion house. However, asked if she was eyeing retirement at some point, the designer brushed off the suggestion.

Prada has described Simons’ contract with the house as “in theory, it’s forever.”

It is understood that Prada is increasingly focused on Miu Miu, although not to the detriment of Prada. She is still involved in the design of both labels.

The designers’ partnership underlines the strong complicity between Simons and the Prada Group, which originally tapped him to become creative director of Jil Sander in 2005 when the group owned that brand.

Simons and Prada have also enjoyed a long friendship.

They share a similar aesthetic hinged on modernism and occasionally futurism. They also share a passion for contemporary art and carry a torch for daring creative expression, and occasional provocation.

For his own spring 2023 collection, which was postponed from London Fashion Week to Frieze due to the national mourning for Queen Elizabeth II, Simons invited more than 1,000 guests. They gathered at Printworks, the cult party venue in Canada Water, southeast London, where Simons conjured a Berghain-style moment.

Guests gathered in the vast, cavernous venue around long black bars and drank beer and cocktails out of paper cups. Just before the show began, those bars were transformed into one long runway.

The designer’s obsession with mega-shoulders and big proportions appears to be over. Instead, there were lots of clean lines, minimal tailored jackets, and skirts paired with bright leggings in primary colors. A lineup of romper suits was made from fine-gauge knits, as light as lingerie, or breezy cotton.

Fans, though, would still have recognized spring 2023 as a Raf Simons show, albeit a more stripped-down version.

Models strode down the elevated bar-cum-catwalk in sleeveless coats in bright red or pale blue; classic double-breasted coats that Simons does every season; fishnet T-shirts, and cotton dresses and sleeveless tops with graffiti artwork, the fruit of a collaboration with the estate of the late Belgian painter Philippe Vandenberg.

Born in remote Neerpelt, Belgium, Simons moved to Genk and obtained a degree in industrial and furniture design in 1991. Drawn to the energy of the Antwerp Six, who put Belgium on the international fashion map, he segued from furniture into fashion and launched a street-inspired collection of menswear in 1995.

He started showing it in Paris two years later, and quickly caused a sensation with his skinny tailoring, street casting, and such imposing runway venues as La Grande Arche de la Défense.

A darling of critics and editors, prized for his exacting silhouettes and obsession with the here and now, Simons took up the creative director role at Jil Sander in 2005, where his designs were a critical success but not always commercially. In 2012, he was tapped to succeed John Galliano as Dior’s sixth couturier after the British designer’s antisemitic comments and subsequent downfall. Simons brought a gust of modernity to the house, sweeping aside the retro-tinged glamour Galliano had plied over a stellar 15-year tenure. He frequently referenced iconic Dior designs like the Bar jacket, as well as floral motifs — but abstracted them and indulged his predilection for minimalism and futurism.

After leaving Dior in 2015, Simons joined Calvin Klein a year later and served as chief creative officer there for three years. He left the fashion brand in December 2018 after tension grew between him and PVH Corp., Calvin Klein’s parent company.

At the time, Emanuel Chirico, chairman and CEO of PVH Corp said, in rather blunt terms on the company’s earnings call, that the reimagined Calvin Klein — under Simons’ direction — was not working.

He said the collection, renamed 205W39NYC, needed to become more commercial, and that investments in the collection and advertising would be shifted elsewhere. Sources indicated that Simons caused a lot of havoc in the company and overspent on everything.

In November 2019, Simons made his first public appearance after leaving Calvin Klein at a fashion conference in Antwerp.

Simons, who also lives in the city, shared his opinions about the state of the fashion system, the creativity and value behind a design, and the importance of staying independent and supporting the new generation, as well as his frustration and reflection on his previous positions at Jil Sander and Dior.

While he did not mention Calvin Klein during his 35-minute talk, between the lines, his views seemed clear.

“These big brands are very much now driven by marketing and growth, and it’s rare that a designer is good in both aspects. I am definitely not good at all aspects,” he said.

Monday, November 21, 2022


The ASVOFF festival celebrated its 14th anniversary this year in the elegant setting of the Hôtel de Coulanges, a historic manor house located at numbers 35-37 rue des Francs-Bourgeois in the Marais, which also houses the Dover Street Market boutique. This year, ASVOFF called on an exceptional jury, headed by actress and Chanel muse Caroline de Maigret and its honorary president, fashion designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac. Members of the jury included Andrew Taylor-Parr, brand image director of Comme des Garçons, musician Jay-Jay Johanson, multi-dimensional artist José Lévy, and writer and producer Cori Coppola.

Created in 2008 by journalist and stylist Diane Pernet, ASVOFF offers a hybrid fashion-cinema program combining short films, documentaries, and performances dedicated to the world of fashion and its great figures. For this 14th edition, documentary films have been given pride of place, notably with an Arte Documentary Series including "Klash! L'art entre acte" by Frank Perrin, Sisters with Transistors by Lisa Rovner, and Guy Bourdin, Creator of Images by Sean Brandt. 

Other documentaries included "Boom for real the teenage years of Jean Michel Basquiat" by the American director Sara Driver as well as the screening of the short film "Azzedine Alaïa un couturier français" by Olivier Nicklaus, the retrospective of the life of the designer Azzedine Alaïa. Also worth mentioning is the documentary "Love Infinity" by Oscar-winning costume designer and artist Tim Yip - an ode to East London with interviews with some of the key players in the local scene, such as fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, Gilbert and George, and activist and artist Daniel Lismore.

Fashion 2.0 was at the heart of the conversations, with a digital round table organized by Amber Jae Slooten, co-founder of The Fabricant, a pioneer in virtual fashion. A discussion about what fashion looks like in the Metaverse, an exploration of our digital bodies, and a look into the future.

 For its 14th year of existence, ASVOFF wanted to pay tribute to the designer Jean-Charles De Castelbajac by dedicating two short films to him, one directed by William Klein entitled "Mode in Paris - JC. De Castelbajac," a nod to his colorful career, as well as a digital show with 3D animations called "Lego x Jean-Charles De Castelbajac/Digital Fashion Show.” The famous designer also participated in a panel discussion about his passion for art and fashion collaborations.

The event ended on Sunday 13 November with a special screening of the documentary "The Treasure of His Youth: The Photographs of Paolo Di Paolo" directed by Bruce Weber - a moving account of the life of self-taught photojournalist PAOLO DI PAOLO, who captured post-war Italian culture with great skill. His daughter, Silvia Di Paolo, as well as Bruce Weber and Marco De Rivera, were present at the ceremony and led a fascinating debate about this unusual story.

The closing night continued with the awarding of prizes for the 12 categories rewarding the various short films and documentaries on the list, as well as for the 6 curation programs: Fashion Moves (Alex Murray Leslie), Black Spectrum (Mélissa Alibo), Conscious Fashion (Giorgia Cantarini), Manga/Anime (Charles Daniel McDonald), Chinese Films (Camille Mervin-Leroy and Gemma A. Williams) and the TikTok installation curated by (Ivo Barraza Castaneda).

"ASVOFF 14 is positioned as an avant-garde festival and continues to transcend the codes of fashion and film. This year's edition has highlighted an emerging generation of artists who shape our ideals, challenge and create conversations around our cultural heritage, trends and social ills. ASVOFF is definitely a timeless parenthesis, a tribute to the golden age of cinema and timeless encounters! "concludes Diane Pernet.


Featuring the biggest names in fashion, this four-part documentary series traces three explosive decades of contemporary fashion. The early 1990s through to the 2010s commemorate the golden age of fashion - a time when the disruptive forces of creativity and business converged and clashed, while rival elite kingdoms attempted to subjugate their global positioning. Using rare documents, never-before-seen personal archives, and interviews, we follow the meteoric rise of designers John Galliano, Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen and Tom Ford, as luxury emperors Bernard Arnault (LVMH), François Pinault (Gucci Group) and Anna Wintour (Vogue US) reshape the world of fashion and conquer the four great capitals: Paris, Milan, London, and New York.


Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat traces Basquiat's life prior to his fame by drawing parallels with New York City, the 1970s, and the individuals and movements that shaped the artist's life. Using previously unpublished artworks, writings and photographs, director Sara Driver, who was herself part of the New York art scene, worked closely with friends and other artists from that period: Jim Jarmusch, James Nares, Fab Five Freddy, Glenn O'Brien, Kenny Scharf, Lee Quinones, Patricia Field, Luc Sante and many others.


For 50 years, the photographs of Italian photographer Paolo di Paolo remained hidden. Even his daughter didn't know her father had been a photographer. But when she discovered a box of his photographs one day, she was amazed to find portraits of iconic Italian figures - filmmakers and writers like Pasolini, Mastroianni, Anna Magnani, Bernardo Bertolucci and Alberto Moravia. She persuaded her father to show his work to the world. For the American photographer and director Bruce Weber ('Let's Get Lost'), Di Paolo's photos were a revelation. Filmed in black and white, The Treasure of His Youth is a subtle and elegant portrait, a tribute to this shadowy artist who transports us for a moment to a bygone and romantic film past.


This year several hundred visitors and fashion film aficionados gathered in the 35/37 creative hub to discover the eclectic selection of the festival. Some of the documentaries and feature films made a lasting impression with their immersive and introspective dimension, portraying captivating protagonists and powerful moments that still resonate today.

The trophies were created by the artist, photographer and illustrator Miguel Villalobos. They are sculptures made from cardboard. All works are original - they are numbered from 1 to 10 and signed by the artist.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Pirelli Calendar 2023 Unveiled

Pirelli unveiled its 2023 calendar Wednesday, an opulent, dream-like edition featuring a star-studded cast. Titled "Letters to the Muse," the calendar is an homage to a group of "extraordinary women" -- artists, activists, athletes and other trailblazers -- said Australian photographer Emma Summerton, who have inspired her.

"I wanted to go back to the etymological root of the word 'muse' and portray women who inspire me for their contribution to literature, science and the arts," Summerton told CNN at the Italian tire company's Milan headquarters, where the calendar's press event was held.

"The idea was to represent what they really are, and create worlds that could reflect and tell their bigger stories."

Bella Hadid, Cara Delevigne and Emily Ratajkowski shoot for prestigious calendar
As such, the cast of 14 models are seen as various "muses" in highly-stylized photographs nodding to their work beyond the runway. Cara Delevingne, for example, who has starred in a number of movie roles in addition to her highly successful modelling career, appears as "The Performer", dressed in a macrame outfit and striking poses among giant dandelions.

Shot in New York and London over the summer, the models were photographed against elaborate backdrops, imbued with magical realism and surreal elements like the aforementioned dandelions, dark woodlands, owls and optical mirrors, courtesy of set designer Viki Rutsch. To complement them are fantastical costumes by fashion director Amanda Harlech.

"Having an almost all-female team made the whole experience feel extra special," Summerton said. "It was a great collaboration." The hotly-anticipated annual calendar has featured some of the world's biggest models, from Iman to Kate Moss. A different photographer is chosen each year, with Annie Leibovitz and Richard Avedon among those previously asked to do the shoot.

Summerton is the fifth woman to shoot the calendar since it was first launched in the 1960s by the Italian tire company. Before her, Pirelli enlisted Sarah Moon in 1972, Joyce Tenneson in 1989, Inez Van Lamsweerde (together with Vinoodh Matadin) in 2007, and Leibovitz in 2000 and 2016.

"It's something I've always wanted to do," the photographer said of the project. "And I hope more women will follow after me."

'Not your daddy's pinup.' From the moment she took on the project, Summerton knew muses would be the concept for her version. Her initial mood board featured some of the female creatives that have most influenced her work, from British-born Mexican painter Leonora Carrington and Italian actor Monica Vitti, to American experimental filmmaker Maya Deren and Australian artist Vali Myers.

Summerton used them as reference to build each character, "and create a sort of energy around each muse" that could help create a deeper, broader conversation between the subject and viewer around beauty, empowerment and vulnerability.

Guinevere Van Seenus -- "The Photographer" -- was the first model she shot ("starting with the photographer felt natural," Summerton said). In the photo, Van Seenus is pictured holding a camera in front of a full-length mirror, from which an owl is perched.

"Emma put together a dream, and watching her do that was an education for me to say the least," the American model and photographer said at the Pirelli event. "I think she was really looking for the depth of women in every picture."

Model Lauren Wasser, who also attended the launch, agreed. "These pictures leave you captivated and wanting for more," she said. "That's so hard to do with images nowadays, because we're so, so saturated with them. But Emma's photos resonate differently. She really captured me and my essence of resilience and strength." At 24, the model, Toxic Shock Syndrome activist (TSS) and once basketball player, suffered from TSS which led to the amputation of both of her legs. 

Continuing her career by storming the runway wearing prosthetic legs, she's been hailed as game-changer in the industry. For the calendar, she was cast as "The Athlete" and shot as Joan of Arc on top of a golden crescent moon against an ocean backdrop, clasping a large silver sword in the stance of a warrior.

"I felt really strong and powerful," Wasser said, who wore golden prosthetics for the shoot. "Emma knew how to depict our angles and our strengths. I think that's something that we don't really get to see in the fashion world."

Nor, for much of its history, in the Pirelli calendar itself. But in 2016, Leibovitz broke with its tradition of mostly artistic nudes and sex appeal, photographing a cast of high-achieving women in almost entirely clothed portraits. In recent years, it has continued to show more nuanced, diverse expressions of beauty. "It's not your daddy's pinup calendar anymore," said Ashley Graham, who featured as "The Activist."

"The calendar for 2023 is probably the coolest they've done because it actually lends a voice to everybody that's involved. And it bridges fantasy and reality, the model and body positivity activist said. For me, it really allowed me to be myself."

The photographer noted that the accompanying film showing the making of the calendar helps drive home the shift away from the objectification of women."I wanted to hear what these women had to say and see them talk about who they are and what they do," Summerton said. "It just went hand in hand with the photos, because when you look at them you want to know who they are."

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Balenciaga Leaves Twitter – Will Other Brands Follow Suit?

Luxury fashion brand Balenciaga has removed its Twitter account, the brand confirmed to Vogue on 14 November. The company has not yet publicly elaborated on its decision to leave, but the move comes at a turbulent time for the platform. The swift exit takes place weeks after Tesla founder Elon Musk purchased it for a reported $44 billion, and concerns grow over its direction.

Balenciaga is the latest in an exodus of major brands and users, including Whoopi Goldberg and Shonda Rhimes. Additionally, a rising number of major corporations and advertisers have paused activity and advertising on the platform since Musk took control of the company. 

On 28 October, General Motors publicly announced it would temporarily halt advertising on Twitter, while other companies, including United Airlines and Pfizer, have quietly paused advertising. Balenciaga’s Twitter ads will also be suspended. In a bid to calm advertisers’ fears, Musk held a Twitter Space last week and addressed their concerns, sharing his intentions to tackle fake accounts and hate speech on the app.

Balenciaga, which is owned by multinational conglomerate Kering, is the first fashion brand of its size and cachet to depart Twitter, prompting many to wonder if other brands will follow suit. It has always been a trendsetter.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

It Takes A Dedicated Fashionista To Slither Into Alexander McQueen’s Bumsters

For Sarah Burton’s McQueen spring/summer 2023 collection, she asked the question: “How do you dress a woman to empower her in the times that we live in?” Her answer to the unabashedly sexy trend that has ripped through fashion in recent seasons lay in the archives, specifically the ’90s, when low-rise trousers were creeping down torsos and climbing up the ranks as Planet Hollywood’s uniform of choice.

Lee McQueen’s low-risers, part of his first collection entitled Taxi Driver and presented on a rail at the Ritz in 1993, pushed the look to the extreme. His “bumsters”, which many first thought were inspired by builders’ bums, would have made even Christina Aguilera blush, but were in fact an avant-garde ode to anatomy. “To me, that part of the body – not so much the buttocks, but the bottom of the spine – that’s the most erotic part of anyone’s body,” McQueen said at the time.

Cut to today and bumsters are back on the menu, as Burton continues the house mission to create thought-provoking fashion that’s “always about a woman dressing for a woman”. “It’s not a male gaze,” she explained post-show, before admitting that even she was shocked about the proportions of her predecessor’s tailoring: “The crotch is very, very small. I had no idea!”

Despite the fact we’ve become immune to naked dresses and teeny-tiny bralettes, it was always going to take a special sort of person to step up to the mantle and wriggle into the bumsters. These are pantless trousers with no room for knickers (lest VPL spoil their eyebrow-raising effect), and afford little space for actually sitting down. Consider them Kim Kardashian fashion (this was the woman who lost 16 pounds to slither into Marilyn Monroe’s original “Happy birthday Mr President” dress), but young upstart Taylor Russell pipped the KarJenners to the post.

The Bones and All actor, who has been taking fashion memos from her co-star Timothée Chalamet, wore look two from McQueen’s spring/summer 2023 line – a razor-sharp suit featuring a cropped asymmetrical blazer, those extreme low-risers and a lot of torso – with the shoulders-back, head-up confidence that she has quickly become known for.

Vancouver-born Russell, who rarely buys anything new and is amassing quite the vintage archive, previously told British Vogue that she’s “in awe of the artistry in the world of fashion”, and honoured “to be part of its history”, whether that’s channelling Audrey Hepburn in Prada, becoming a Balenciaga muse in Demna’s couture or championing the anarchist style of one of Britain’s seminal designers: Lee McQueen. Admittedly, Burton might have conceded to raising the waistband a centimetre or so, but the commitment to serving a look – and risking a builder’s bum! – was there for everyone to see.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Adidas Confirms It Will Use YEEZY Designs Despite Parting Ways With Ye

After Adidas severed its historic and profitable partnership with Ye, the question arose whether or not the German brand was going to continue selling the artist’s vast array of sneaker designs to the masses. However, the Three Stripes’ third-quarter earnings call was held this morning, and the popular sportswear giant confirmed that it has every intention of selling YEEZY-designed products, only of course, without any YEEZY branding.

The company’s chief financial officer Harm Ohlmeyer — who is slated to be the interim CEO when Kasper Rørsted makes his departure from the company this Friday and former Puma CEO Bjørn Gulden officially steps in — stated that adidas owns all of the IP, colorways and designs related to adidas-YEEZY products aside from the YEEZY moniker, so this decision comes as no surprise. He also relayed that the brand expects to save €300 million (approx. $301 million USD) in 2023 in royalty and marketing payments that would’ve been paid to Ye and the YEEZY company. Ohlmeyer confirmed that consumers can likely expect to see these products release as early as 2023, so gear up to see more of the same 350s, 700s, 500s, FOAM RNNRS and more in the coming months, just without any YEEZY embellishments.

Cher Becomes Balmain’s Futuristic Superhero In New Blaze Handbag Campaign

Balmain has partnered with Cher to introduce the brand’s new leather bag that’s inspired by its trail-blazing superpower, The Balmain Blaze.

In a new video for the campaign, Cher is reimagined as a futuristic goddess, perched high atop a throne while wearing the same form-fitting catsuit she had on during Paris Fashion Week in September when she walked Balmain’s spring 2023 runway show. In a voiceover she said, “All of us invent ourselves — some of us just have more imagination than others.”

The new handbag also draws inspiration from the protective armor worn by superheroes. The silhouette features exposed hardware, strong juxtapositions of colors and textures and a modern-Baroque style aesthetic. The design incorporates couture-inspired embellishments and gleaming hardware. Rousteing’s goal was to create an eye-catching accessory.

“More than anything else, I wanted the Blaze to be a bag that was definitely going to be noticed,” Rousteing said in a statement. “As I explained to my team, I imagined these bags as being key components of the boldest entrances. For me, these designs evoke the impressive shields carried by the fearless superheroes of my youth — and I really love the idea of our Balmain Blaze adding an empowering sensation of invincibility as the perfect final touch for every ensemble.”

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Erdem Moralioglu Photographs Friends And Family For A Magazine’s New Issue

The fashion designer Erdem Moralioglu arrived at his first meeting with the team from A Magazine with what he calls a “Christmas wish list” of things he wanted to do. “And do you know what’s so funny? I haven’t thought back to that first meeting,” he seems to realise mid sentence, “but so many of those things on the list actually came to life.” He seems surprised. “It didn’t write itself,” he continues, “but I knew what it wanted to be, and I wanted it to be something that was really personal.”

Launching today, 7 November, A Magazine Curated by Erdem is indeed a highly personal tome that unlocks for readers the diverse range of influences – both personal and creative – that have shaped Moralioglu. “Doing what I do now has always been my dream,” he adds, “and there was something about doing this magazine that really reminded me of 17-year-old me, my hopes and dreams, and the things that I was obsessed with.” The issue explores themes of duality (the designer is a twin), gender, and queerness through his interests in photography, film, music, and art, along with fashion.

This is most evident in the four interviews conducted by the designer himself (there are many more in the issue), with the actor Glenn Close (star of Dangerous Liaisons, one of his favourite films); with the director of 1991’s Orlando, another one of his favourite films, Sally Potter; with the artist Roni Horn; and with the former host of Fashion File, now fashion critic Tim Blanks, who was an essential part of Moralioglu’s introduction to fashion as a young man growing up in Canada. “Dan [Thawley, A Magazine’s editor-in-chief] was like, ‘Well, who do you wanna get to have those conversations?’ and I was like, ‘Well, me!’” he remembers with a laugh.

With Close, who is now good friends with the designer, the magazine allowed him to sort of geek out on highly specific moments in their lives that he perhaps wouldn’t feel comfortable addressing during the normal course of their relationship. “I was fitting with her in Paris, and there was an opportunity to interview her on the relationship of historical costume and [her work as an] actress.” Perhaps because of the friendship, Close revealed candid details about shooting the movie’s pivotal final scene, just seven weeks after giving birth to her daughter. (You’ll have to read it in the issue to find out what they are.)

Also in the issue is a portfolio featuring 21 friends and family members photographed by Moralioglu, a selection of which is shown here. “I’ve always taken photographs of my collections over the last 17 years, but recently I kind of started doing it more seriously,” he explains. Alongside his twin sister, Sara, are the actor Keira Knightley and her husband, James Righton; his husband, Philip; and even his course director at the Royal College of Art, Wendy Dagworthy (“the one who gave me a scholarship that allowed me to stay at the Royal College and allowed me to kind of graduate with my class”).

Ethan James Green’s editorial was based around Fanny and Stella, who were born Frederick Park and Ernest Boulton and famously arrested in the 1870s for dressing in women’s clothes. The two inspired Moralioglu’s spring/summer 2019 collection. A portrait of the pair lives at the National Portrait Gallery. Photo: Ethan James Green / Courtesy of A Magazine

Other than incredible interviews – his sister Sara’s conversation with the painter Kaye Donachie, whom Moralioglu commissioned to do a portrait of their mother, is particularly special – the issue is filled with beautiful fashion editorials by Ethan James Green and Dara Allen, Campbell Addy and Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, and William Waterworth and Amanda Harlech. “I grew up looking at Amanda’s work in magazines, so to work with… such a legend, was amazing,” he explains, visibly giddy for what it means for his younger self. “It’s kind of like a window into what’s inside my head but also a kind of window into all of these extraordinary people, like Patrick Procktor and Derek Jarman and Roni Horn and Neil Tennant.” He continues, “Even just saying [their names] – it’s surreal to have them live together in the same issue. I read all of Derek’s diaries during lockdown, and I love him, and I love his work. The same with Patrick – their work is so beautiful and important.”

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Netflix Taps Balmain For A Limited Edition Stranger Things Collection

Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing recently hit pause on his French femme designs to capture the bold spirit of 1980s Americana in honour of the Netflix series Stranger Things. In the Balmain x Stranger Things limited-edition collection, clothing and accessories exude the bright and effervescent style codes of the time period — think flashy music videos, mall rats and a whole lot of jazzercise — all with Balmain’s expert tailoring. 

And as odd as this pairing may seem, it stems from authenticity. Rousteing is a true fan of the fantasy horror blockbuster (apparently he binges each new season as soon as Netflix releases them) and has always been mesmerized by the essence of the decade it takes place in. For anyone who can relate, the fashionable memorabilia becomes available on November 6th.

M&S Unveils First Virtual Influencer

Marks & Spencer is the first UK high street retailer to introduce a virtual influencer, which it will use to promote clothing and accessories on Instagram.

The digitally-rendered influencer is called Mira, which is an acronym for 'Marks & Spencer, influencer, reality, augmented'.

M&S has created a backstory for Mira by appointing her as digital designer at M&S Support Centre office in West London, where she designs updates for M&S website and app, "helping to drive innovation on these platforms, with her expert knowledge of AR and VR [augmented and virtual reality]".

Mira is part of the M&S Insider programme, which was launched in January 2018 now includes 13 'Insiders' - M&S employees who receive a monthly allowance to purchase M&S products and promote them on their dedicated Instagram accounts.

The programme includes six womenswear-focused influencers, two with a focus on Menswear, two for kidswear, two for M&S homeware products and one for M&S's beauty offerings, which include skincare, haircare and makeup brands Apothecary, Bumble & Bumble and Clinique.

All of the M&S Insiders work for M&S in jobs including store assistants, store visual stylists, to womenswear and beauty buyers and kidswear designers.

Anna Braithwaite, M&S marketing director for its clothing and home division, said: “We are excited to welcome Mira – UK retail’s first virtual influencer – to our M&S Insider family.

"Her introduction is the just latest example of how M&S is testing and learning with emerging technology and trends to inspire our customers – whether that’s our Live Shopping events or our expert online consultation services such as digital bra fit. A virtual influencer means we can be more fleet of foot in responding to trends and conversations and opens possibilities in both the physical and virtual world in the future.”

Louis Vuitton Opens The Hall, Its First Restaurant In China

Louis Vuitton has traveled to Chengdu, a major retail hub in the southwestern region of China, for its inaugural restaurant in the country.

The Hall by Louis Vuitton takes its name from the Guangdong Hall at Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li shopping mall. This urban landmark once served as a Cantonese merchants’ gathering place more than 100 years ago.

Formerly a retail space for luxury brand pop-ups before Louis Vuitton took over, The Hall is across the street from the three-story flagship, offering a full range of products from the French luxury house. Spanning more than 2,000 square meters, the Chengdu Maison is the third for Louis Vuitton in the country. It opened nine months ago.

Larger-than-life panda figurines and hot air balloons greet visitors at The Hall’s courtyard entrance. The vibrantly colored sculptures have already gone viral on Chinese social media in the months leading up to the opening.

According to Vuitton, the bistro-like restaurant offers a seasonal menu featuring pan-European flavors and classic dishes from both French and Mediterranean cuisine. Local produce sourced from the mountainous Ya’an city in the western part of Sichuan, China, such as Sichuan truffle and Oscietra, add some refined local flavors. The restaurant will serve wine, including selections from the Jura, the birthplace of founder Louis Vuitton.

Starting Thursday, foodies can secure a spot at the 60-seat restaurant via telephone to experience lunch, dinner and afternoon tea services. According to Yunmi, a Shanghai, China-based restaurant group in charge of operating The Hall, the restaurant has already been booked out for the balance of the year.

Vuitton appointed Michelin-star chef Olivier Elzer as its first guest chef, who has created a menu that blends local flavors with French finesse. Every six months, the restaurant will be inviting Michelin-star chefs from China or abroad to carry out seasonal menus and present a genuine sense of “Art of Travel.”

Exuding a calm and peaceful ambiance, The Hall is furnished with furniture and objects from the luxury house’s Objets Nomades collection.

A coral leather-embellished chandelier takes center stage across the two floors of the restaurant. Designed by Swiss architecture firm Atelier Oï, the fixture evokes the image of a traditional Sichuan hotpot.

Staying in line with Vuitton traditions, the restaurant is also adorned by artworks from noted contemporary Chinese artists, including Lu Xinjian, Zhou Yilun and Nanchuan Daocheng. A set of bright red and orange paper sculptures made out of Louis Vuitton shopping bags and combined with ancient Chinese stone sculptures add an element of surprise to one corner of the restaurant.

To create more buzz around the restaurant opening and engage with the Gen Z audience, Louis Vuitton linked up with local rapper MaSiWei to create an original song called “Shazi Fan” or “What’s Your Style” on the eve of the event.

On the morning of the restaurant opening, Louis Vuitton launched an interactive game on Wechat mini program called “Mah Jump,” which gets its name from Chengdu’s popular mahjong culture.

The game takes the player through major themes reflecting Chengdu today, including traditional and modern city walks, hotpot and nightlife experiences, tea culture in the Qingcheng Mountain and slow life.

A month before The Hall’s launch, Vuitton added Chengdu as a new destination to the Louis Vuitton City Guides. The brand enlisted world-renowned Chinese architect Liu Jiakun as the guest editor of Chengdu City Guide.

Based in his hometown of Chengdu, Liu has created some of the city’s most celebrated works, including the sweeping Chengdu MoCA in the High-Tech Zone and the iconic West Village, an open courtyard-style mixed-use space in Chengdu’s northwest.

The Hall is Louis Vuitton’s fifth hospitality venture in the past two years and the fourth in the Asian market. Michael Burke, chairman and chief executive officer of Vuitton, has hinted that more eateries and even hotels could be in the works for the megabrand.

In 2020, Louis Vuitton opened its first Vuitton Café and restaurant at its flagship boutique in Osaka, Japan, followed by an LV Café and chocolate shop a year later at the Ginza Namiki flagship in Tokyo, Japan.

In March this year, the brand opened a pop-up restaurant in Seoul’s Gangnam district in South Korea. This summer, the French luxury giant opened a seasonal eatery called Mory Sacko close to a Louis Vuitton store in Saint-Tropez.

Later this month, Vuitton will open at its Paris, France, headquarters the LV Dream space, which will include a café and chocolate shop run by Maxime Frédéric, the head pastry chef at the neighboring Cheval Blanc Paris hotel which, like Vuitton, belongs to luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Carrie Bradshaw Brings Back Her Vivienne Westwood Wedding Dress

Cast your mind back to 2008, when Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie Bradshaw almost walked down the aisle in her distinctive wedding dress in the first Sex And The City movie. But, of course, Big got cold feet and everything was ruined, resulting in a devastated Bradshaw running through the streets of NYC in said dress.

Fast forward to 2022, and the corseted gown from Vivienne Westwood’s autumn/winter 2007 collection – made of the most luxurious ivory silk duchess satin and Radzimir taffeta – makes a comeback on the SATC spin-off, And Just Like That. While on set filming the new season, SJP was spotted in her character’s infamous dress. This time, though, she’s opted to accessorise with dramatic turquoise silk gloves that extend into an off-the-shoulder capelet, as well as pointed blue satin Manolo Blahnik heels.

For now, we can only speculate as to the meaning of Carrie bringing back the momentous dress, while the world patiently waits for the second season of And Just Like That. Is it a part of her ongoing recovery following the tragic loss of her beloved Big? Or does she just enjoy wearing it on a Thursday? Time will only tell.

Friday, November 4, 2022

Michaela Coel Models Riccardo Tisci’s First Solo Work In 17 Years

Michaela Coel’s Black Panther London premiere look makes her feel like a “sexy winter beach minx waiting by water to catch sharks and devour them for dinner”. (Her words, not ours). The dark playfulness at the heart of this red-carpet narrative is not even the main headline. Coel’s stretch silk bodysuit and multi-layered Chantilly lace skirt, dotted with flowers and stars, is the first fashion her friend Riccardo Tisci has created since leaving Burberry, and the first under his eponymous label for 17 years.

Michaela and Riccardo met briefly at Cannes, but connected properly at a Soho House men’s style lunch, which Coel “gatecrashed” and, despite initially feeling “alien”, stayed for hours playing ping pong. She fell for Tisci’s story – “his life of struggle defies people’s assumptions” – and asked him to design her Wakanda Forever press look as a friend, not as a world-class creative in the middle of a career transition.

“It makes me feel major, major, major – no other word is required,” says Coel. Rowben Lantion

“It was very beautifully naive,” says Riccardo, who teamed up with Coel’s mother, Kwenua Osborne, in another creative first for a woman who fashioned many of her daughter’s looks solo before the Tiscis of this world came along. The collaborative process, which saw the trio swap references that evoked the heat and water of Coel’s Ghanaian heritage, reminded Riccardo of his own formative relationships with the strong women in his life: his mother, who recently passed away, and his eight sisters. The significance of a red carpet in London – the place that fostered his talent thanks to a Central Saint Martins scholarship and his base during his five-year tenure at Burberry – also struck a chord with the creative director who is currently taking a break from the industry to “chill”. “This look is a celebration, it’s not about business, it’s about a concept – there’s no announcement,” asserts Tisci, quashing every fashion fan’s assumption that Riccardo Tisci, the label, will be back in business after tonight.