Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Fashion Magazine / Journalist Of The Year

I’m truly honoured and delighted to announce that I have achieved yet another award for my work. I can now officially publish that both myself and my company, FORÇ Magazine, feature in the Corporate Live Wire France - Prestige Awards 2021 / 2022: as the overall winners of the fashion magazine and journalist of the year titles, for France.

Es para mí un gran honor anunciar que he conseguido otro gran premio por mi trabajo. Ahora puedo hacer oficialmente público que tanto yo como mi empresa estaremos presentes en los premios Corporate Live Wire de Francia como ganadores absolutos de los títulos de mejor revista y mejor periodista de moda del año en Francia 2021/2022.

Can The Algorithm Ever Be Spiritual?

In 2020, 17-year-old Marty Gonzalez posted a video on TikTok featuring photos of extremely flashy wealth — large sums of cash, a yacht, a mansion with a pool, watches, and loads of Chanel bags. Marty made an unusual claim, that, “If you see this it will be your lifestyle when you’re older”. In other words, if the mysterious algorithm that governs TikTok has chosen to serve you, of all the millions of videos on the platform, this video, it means something. Marty then encouraged anyone who came across the video to like it to ‘claim’ their future. Over three million people did.

The premise of the video (and others like it), is that the TikTok algorithm itself is a spiritual force, delivering a message of wealth to those who are meant to see it. Marty says he believes his videos get to the right people “with meditation and the right timing.” What we know about the TikTok algorithm, however, means it’s more likely Marty’s video shows up in the feed of people who had previously shown an interest in spiritual or manifestation videos (it used hashtags like #manifestation and #lifestyle). Still, it can feel coincidental since random videos appear on your For You page from time to time.

Marty’s video is one of many that claim to use the algorithm as a tool for divine messaging. “If you’re seeing this on your for you page, this message is for you” is a common phrase you’ll come across on tarot TikTok (a subsection of the video-sharing platform where tarot readers and spiritual workers share mass readings). One video assures viewers that they have three different people interested in them currently, another promises that something you thought had ended is coming back this weekend. Others claim that God inspired them to post their TikTok with a message for others, saying that those that come across the videos are “different” and are about to be blessed to “levels you never thought possible.”

We don’t often romanticize the other algorithms around us. Couples who meet on a dating app might consider their love “meant to be”, even if their compatibility was actually predicted by data analysts at Hinge, but it’s rare to consider scrolling past an Instagram post as divine timing or a recommendation from Uber Eats as having a higher purpose. Yet these systems live alongside us and shape modern life, bringing in a number of moral concerns when considering that they are built, controlled and manipulated by tech companies for profit.

“Everything is connected to spirituality because, at the end of the day, we are spiritual beings and these devices are spirited in themselves,” says Neema Githere, who describes herself as a “guerrilla theorist and curator” whose work explores “love and indigeneity in a time of algorithmic debris”. Neema claims that we’ve come to associate algorithms with surveillance capitalism, but many of them have been derived from indigenous mathematical practices. “There are crystals in our computers that are charging energy and used in the creation of the devices we’re using,” they say.

Since algorithms are created by and for people, they’re only as spiritual as the people using them. “Social media doesn't exist in a vacuum, in the sense that the things we are constantly thinking of and interacting with, do shape our reality, virtual or otherwise,” Lina, a Bruja who goes by Astro Lina and shares astrology videos on TikTok, says. “If I’m absolutely heartbroken and only interacting with videos about a lost love, then I am going to have a very sad, weepy For You Page.” Lina finds viral-specific tarot readings “mind-boggling and hilarious” as they show us how many of us are going through the exact same thing. “How many of us are actually dealing with a toxic Libra who wears black hats and drives a blue car?” she says.

Considering the current shift away from traditional religion towards more flexible new-gen spirituality, it’s little surprise we’re more open to viewing some social media platforms as a spiritual force in our lives. LA-based diviner Porsche Little, who offers one-to-one tarot readings and shares tarot readings for zodiac signs on Instagram each month, views the algorithm, like everything, as having divine timing. However, this doesn’t mean each video you come across holds a message that’s meant for you to internalize.

“I personally do not believe in coincidences, but do believe in discernment,” she says. “Every message is not for you and I believe that messages that require you to like, comment and claim, are just influencers who want to boost their engagement.” When Porsche herself does mass readings to share on Instagram, she names which demographic she’s referring to and asks for the messages to be delivered from spirit, via the algorithm, to those who are seeking it. “If I’m pulling on Capricorn’s energy, I’ll ask for spirit to align this message with every Capricorn whose eyes will hit it,” she says.

Gaymon Bennett, an Associate Professor of religion, science and technology at Arizona State University, says an algorithm is not very different from a pack of tarot cards on a table — they’re both just objects. With that in mind, if you’re a spiritual person, believing that a spiritually-charged video holds a divine message for you is similar to believing you were meant to come across a specific passage when flicking through a book. Yet social media algorithms have proven themselves to have a power of persuasion rarely seen from in-person interactions, leading people to niche and sometimes dangerous corners of the internet.

When considering the fact that the YouTube algorithm has been funneling people to the far-right, viewing algorithms as holding divine power becomes concerning if we’re no longer using our own judgment. After all, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before the Senate Commerce Committee last year saying the site’s algorithm, itself, is dangerous. “I hope we will discuss whether there is such a thing as a safe algorithm,” she said. Despite this, social media is obviously still a useful tool for sharing knowledge, resources and facilitating connections.

While it’s okay if a TikTok tarot reading about a toxic ex-boyfriend resonates with you, the rising message that the algorithm itself can be a useful tool for divine messaging can be concerning. Especially considering that young people’s screen time has soared throughout the pandemic. And if the algorithm itself is spiritual, anyone in charge of it can continue to play God — a role not suitable for any one person, never mind the likes of Mark Zuckerberg. Next time your TikTok feed presents an idea that resonates with you spiritually, be sure to look beyond the screen — where random encounters and “aha” moments take place away from tech overlords.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Who Owns Hoop Earings?

As models stomped down the runway at Marc Jacobs's fall/winter 2017 show last month, shiny gold hoop earrings swung from their ears. The jewelry ranged from giant three-tiered hoops to a single thin hoop with a diamond encrusted key dangling from it. The collection, which was also full of oversized fur collared jackets and monochromatic tracksuits, was inspired by the early days of hip-hop.

"It is an acknowledgement and gesture of my respect for the polish and consideration applied to fashion from a generation that will forever be the foundation of youth culture street style," Jacobs explained in the show notes.

Unfortunately, not everyone who borrows from street culture is as eager to acknowledge the contributions of people who created it, from cornrows to baby hairs to the hoop earring. The round jewelry has been a favorite accessory for decades from Cher in the 1960s to Madonna in the 1980s, but hoop earrings have a deep-rooted history in communities of color.

This cultural significance of the hoop earring was brought to light last week when three Latina students painted a message to their fellow classmates at Pitzer College in California about their earrings. They scribbled "White girls, take off your hoops" in bright yellow spray paint on a wall outside of a dormitory, after they noticed an influx of their peers wearing oversized hoop earrings.

Alegria Martinez, one of the students responsible for the graffiti, wrote an email to the student body that stated that they were sick of white women appropriating styles that "belonged to black and brown folks who created the culture." The controversy came shortly after Elle dubbed the hoop earring a must-have accessory for fall, thanks not only to Marc Jacobs, but others like Fendi and Michael Kors.

Designers, celebrities, and even retailers have been long accused of taking styles from marginalized groups they think are "cool" without any consideration for the context. Last November, people took to social media to call out Urban Outfitters when it attempted to re-brand oversized gold doorknocker earrings. "The same earrings that people find ratchet or ghetto on black women are now $16.00 and sold at hipsters R us. These are literally a dollar at the nearest black hair store. My culture says you're welcome," one woman wrote in a Facebook post that has now been shared over 21,000 times.

"This is about how women of color can't wear their own style and culture because they are looked down upon when they do so," Martinez explained to me over the phone. "But on the other hand, white females are allowed to appropriate the fashion when it is beneficial to them or makes them look edgy."

Hoop earrings have a very long history dating all the way back to the ancient Sumerians from modern-day Iraq in 2600 B.C. Different variations of the hoop have been adopted by a range of cultures around the world, from the Hmong women of Vietnam to the Gadaba tribe of India, as Vogue points out. But, in America, the style has often been adopted by women of color in an effort to reclaim their culture and celebrate their history.

Hoop earrings became especially popular among African American women during the Black Power movement in the 1960s when many were embracing Afrocentric dress. From activists like Angela Davis to artists like Tina Turner, more women were adopting an African-inspired look that embraced natural hairstyles and hoop earrings.

As Tanisha C. Ford writes in her book, Liberated Threads: Black Women, Style, and the Global Politics of Soul, "In African-inspired clothing and large hoop earrings and sporting Afros and cornrow braids, Americans and Britons of African descent envisioned soul style as a symbolic baptism in freedom's waters through which they could be reborn, liberated from cultural and social bondage of their slave and colonial past."

The statement jewelry carried on into the 70s when it was embraced by disco divas like Diana Ross and Donna Summer. When the 80s rolled around, their thin gold hoops were traded for thick gold "door knocker" and bamboo hoop earrings by hip-hop artists like Salt N Pepa and MC Lyte.

By the 1990s, oversized hoop earrings were a fixture of Chola style, which was embraced by working-class Mexican American women in Southern California. The radical look was defined by slicked-down baby hairs, dark lip-liner, and door-knocker hoop earrings.

But, it was about more than just fashion. As Barbara Calderón-Douglass writes in her piece "The Folk Feminist Struggle Behind the Chola Fashion Trend," "The chola aesthetic is the result of impoverished women making a lot out of the little things their families could afford."

Martinez, who grew up in Southern California, says she sees the style as a form of resistance. "We are women of color from Los Angeles, Long Beach, and San Bernadino and that is where this cultural style comes from," explained Martinez. "Whenever we wear our hoops, or when I wear bold eyeliner and red lipstick, I feel really proud to be from that background."

Fashion has always taken influences from different cultures. The problem with appropriating styles like hoop earrings is that many women of color still can't wear these "trends" without facing discrimination for looking too "ghetto." Not to mention, many of those who are eager to slip on a pair of hoop earrings fail to use their platform for any meaningful discussion about race.

As actress Amandla Stenberg wrote in response to Kylie Jenner wearing cornrows in 2015, "When u appropriate black features and culture but fail to use ur position of power to help black Americans by directing attention towards ur wigs instead of police brutality or racism #whitegirlsdoitbetter."

Just last season Marc Jacobs faced a fury of appropriation accusations when he sent a predominantly white cast of models down the runway wearing colorful pastel dreadlocks. The designer had attributed the collection to the style of club kids, but failed to mention that the hairstyle has history in African culture. So, when the designer made a point to attribute his fall 2017 aesthetic to the early days of hip-hop and the people of color who created it, many were eager to praise him for finally appreciating the culture rather than merely appropriating it. Hopefully, more in the industry will take note.

How To Become A Fashion Critic

Before hopping on the conveyor belt of shows, presentations and showroom appointments to discover, discuss and disseminate spring/summer 17 womenswear, i-D Fashion Features Director explains why an interest in people is just as important as any.

At weddings and wakes, I like to tell people I write about "purple dresses, sock lengths and so on". It's much easier than having to defend the social and political influence that I've always believed fashion, quite innately, has—and which is what I write about. 'Critic' is a big title, and in this advertiser-fuelled age of fashion in which you can't simply critique as you please but have to adhere to certain rules of business, I rarely write about collections in terms of 'good' or 'bad'. If I critique, it's all about contextualisation: why did the designer create this, what does it say about society right now, and how relevant is that? I never ask designers about fabrication and technique. There's nothing worse than writing about clothes, except, perhaps, reading about them. I didn't become a fashion writer to write solely about fashion, and although I studied Fashion Journalism at the London College of Fashion, I never thought of myself as a 'fashion writer'.

I'm just a writer; a journalist, hopefully as capable of covering a natural disaster, should I ever find myself in one, as I am a fashion show. Ten years ago my friend Susie Babchick told me: "Always keep a blank business card. Just put your name and email on it, no profession. Then you can do anything you want." I still use blank business cards today. Slightly serial killer, I know. I don't live and breathe fashion, and I didn't pursue fashion writing because I felt some kind of calling. History is what I really love: kings and queens and conquests, and with its historical significance and escapist extravagance, fashion seemed like the perfect representation of history. "Some people count carats," the Queen of Denmark once said. "We count centuries." She was referring to her vast collection of jewels, passed down through generations of monarchies as the perfect reference point for history. This is what clothes do for me, in all their historical and cultural references.

I'm just a writer; a journalist, hopefully as capable of covering a natural disaster, should I ever find myself in one, as I am a fashion show.

I have enormous respect for fashion, but I'm not geeky about it. On a day off I'd much rather watch the Kardashians than a fashion documentary, but thanks to all the research I have to do I learn something new from work every day. Speaking of the Queen of Denmark, it's where I come from—more precisely a small coastal town called Rungsted north of Copenhagen, where I spent high school as a Dior Homme fashion goth and dreamed of moving to London, away from provincial small-mindedness. You've heard that story before, I'm sure. Why fashion writing? Because it was an easy escape. My older sister, Susanne Madsen, was already making a career of it in London, and I pretty much just copied her. I was spoiled to have her as my trailblazer, advising me what - and most importantly, what not - to do. After I graduated she got me a job at Dansk Magazine, where she was already working. We edited it together from our shared flat in London for nearly three years. When we quit, Susanne went to Dazed and I to i-D.

At Dansk, I had forced myself to get into as many shows and events as I could, which is how I knew members of the i-D team. They commissioned stories from me, and I was soon introduced to Holly Shackleton, who's still my Editor-in-Chief, and Terry and Tricia Jones, the magazine's founders, who hired me. In fashion, there is nothing more important than social skills. Loving to meet and talk to people is the most important thing you can ever teach yourself, and in the case of fashion writers it will empower you to become the storyteller you need to be. I love nothing more than interviewing designers in their homes and hearing their personal stories. These are skills they can never teach you at college, and while I'm sure a lot of people benefited from their efforts on my course, no teacher ever taught me how to write.

Speak to people older than you, who are doing the job you want to be doing. Don't be afraid to reach out to them. Ask them questions, listen to their advice, read their writing, ask them to read yours.

If anyone did, they were the people I met outside in the real world while I was studying, like the pioneering Sarah Mower, who was always willing to have a nerdy conversation about the dos and don'ts of writing with me. Now I'm fortunate to work under editors such as Holly, whose feedback provides an ongoing education in phrasing and self-editing. I never need those skills more than at the shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris, where I get up before dawn every day for weeks on end to write my daily coverage. Doing the show rounds as a writer is gruelling, and I do them all. I always say every season takes another five years off my total lifespan, but fashion week is the church of fashion writing and where it most counts. When I'm not at the shows, I spend most of my time transcribing and writing the interviews I've done from my garret in West London, or from my other home in Denmark. I can only write when I'm alone, in total silence. (…wrote the writer, on an extremely turbulent flight to New York.)

The last part of my brief for this story says: "What I wish I knew then that I know now," which makes me feel as ancient as the answer I'm going to give. Speak to people older than you, who are doing the job you want to be doing. Don't be afraid to reach out to them. Most are terrifying, but anyone is flattered you seek their counsel. Ask them questions, listen to their advice, read their writing, ask them to read yours. I'll try to refrain from sounding like an Oscars acceptance speech, but if it weren't for all the amazing and generous women I've endlessly troubled for tips and thoughts on writing over the years, I dread to think what advice I'd be giving the next generation right now.

There’s A New Fashion Family In Town

Don’t tell Salma Hayek, but she and daughter Valentina (as seen together on the Balenciaga front row, and currently co-starring on the cover of Vogue Mexico) have got competition in the fashionable families stakes. The women behind the chicest mother-daughter moment on the style circuit this week? Actor Leslie Mann and her daughters Maude and Iris Apatow, who made quite a trio at Nicolas Ghesquière’s golden hour Louis Vuitton Cruise show in San Diego.

Mann was flanked by her LV-clad daughters on the front row at the clifftop Salk Institute, where Ghesquière unveiled space warrior-worthy looks on models including Olympic champions Eileen Gu and Dalilah Muhammad, as well as new house favourite Hoyeon Jung.

Her girls may be swiftly climbing the ranks in Hollywood – Maude is a star of Gen-Z obsession (and vintage fashion-fest) Euphoria, and fellow actor Iris is already one half of a burgeoning industry power couple, as the girlfriend of Kate Hudson’s son Ryder – but Mann was easily the coolest mum in La Jolla in her relaxed gold tweed trousers from Louis Vuitton’s androgynous autumn/winter 2022 collection, styled with a simple white shirt and a red lip.

And outfits aside, let’s not forget that Mann was putting her comedy chops to good use on the big screen since before Maude’s co-stars Zendaya and Jacob Elordi were born. She’s been a mainstay in her husband Judd Apatow’s ensemble casts since the couple met on the set of The Cable Guy back in 1996 – start with her turn as eye-rolling big sister Debbie in Knocked Up if you’re unfamiliar with her oeuvre. Although, this tailoring outing is by far our favourite Mann performance to date.

Tom Ford Steps Down As Chairman Of The CFDA

After three years as the chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Tom Ford is stepping down. “On May 31st, I will be ending my three-year term as Chairman of the CFDA. When I began my role as chairman in June of 2019, my goal was to help the American fashion industry become more globally recognised for its talent and importance. I could not have imagined the extraordinary circumstances that both the industry and the world would have to navigate – that a pandemic would shut the world down and change the course of our lives and of our businesses forever,” writes Ford in a statement distributed by the CFDA. 

Ford assumed the position of CFDA chairman in 2019, following the departure of CFDA chairwoman Diane Von Furstenberg. Ford’s tenure, for the most part, overlapped with the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic. During his tenure he launched the CFDA’s A Common Thread initiative with Vogue, donating over £4million to the fashion industry in the United States. He also helped bring New York Fashion Week and the Met Gala back in full force in 2021 and 2022, boosting a spirit of camaraderie amidst the American fashion community.

“The pandemic challenged all of us to think about our businesses in new ways – from the design process and production, to how we reach and speak to our customers,” he continued in his statement. “We were forced to come up with creative new ways to run our companies. Some may think that fashion is just about making beautiful clothes and accessories or having runway shows, dressing celebrities and throwing parties, without considering the incredible amount of work that goes on behind the scenes, or that the fashion industry is a $3trillion industry that employs millions of individuals. As Chairman of the CFDA, I have had the privilege to experience first-hand the remarkable determination and optimism that drives our industry. I am honoured to have been able to support the truly incredible talent in the American fashion industry for these past three years, and I look forward to continuing in my role on the CFDA Board.”

At the 2021 CFDA Awards, held at the Four Seasons’s Pool Room and The Grill, Ford hosted his first in-person CFDA ceremony. “I’m excited to show how American fashion has impacted the rest of the world, whether the rest of the world is ready to acknowledge that or not,” he said. “That is my goal, to help the rest of the world understand how much they have taken and how much America has given to fashion globally.” Few have given as much as Ford, whose career spans the United States, Italy, England, and beyond. Ford will stay in his advisory role through the summer while the CFDA votes for a new chairperson.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Anthony Hopkins Modelling For Loewe Is A Whole Mood

Even Sir Anthony Hopkins, whose career has spanned seven decades, could not have predicted his latest career move: Loewe model. The 84-year-old has landed himself a spot in the craft-centric Spanish brand’s pre-fall 2022 campaign, alongside the likes of Josh O’Connor, Jessie Buckley and Kaia Gerber. It is, as they say, a mood.

Photographed by Juergen Teller, with styling by Benjamin Bruno, a beaming Hopkins poses with the label’s new capacious Anagram Studs T tote, detailed with the Loewe logo and, in one spectacular case, a load of sink plug holes for a play on the phrase “everything but the kitchen sink”. Wearing a pair of great sweaters – one classic Loewe, one playful and covered in sprinkled doughnuts – slacks and classic Flow runners, the octogenarian looks wholly at ease in his role as fashion plate.

Comments on creative director Jonathan Anderson’s post flooded in, with users referencing quotes from cinema’s most chilling psycho. “Oh and senator, just one more thing… love your suit,” said fashion editor Alexander Fury, nodding to Hannibal Lecter’s disturbing line from The Silence of the Lambs. “There is only one Anthony Hopkins,” said Anderson himself, clearly basking in his coup.

The casting of Loewe, and indeed Anderson’s eponymous brand, is always stop-you-in-your-tracks (or at least scroll) good. Hopkins joins the likes of Gillian Anderson, Megan Rapinoe and Tracee Ellis Ross as Loewe faces, while Danish beauty Freja Beha Erichsen is a house muse. Zadie Smith attended the autumn/winter 2022 show and Björk recently wore one of the cult breast-plate dresses (also modelled by Kim Kardashian and Jeanne Cadieu this spring).

Hopkins, who has found success modelling for Loro Piana and Brioni later on in life, is not the only senior model in the latest campaign. Also starring the 80-year-old artist Lynda Benglis, who manages to pull off parrot-print leggings with the stony-faced ease of any professional model, Teller’s pictures show the multi-generational appeal of the artisan-focused, oftentimes surrealist house.

But it was, of course, Hopkins who was “mesmerising” on set during what Loewe calls a “blunt document of an extended creative community”. The acting legend, who has become something of a social-media influencer thanks to his cat Niblo, proved, as Anderson says, that there really is one one Sir Anthony Hopkins. Bravo.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Dr Jill Biden Discusses The Power Of Fashion In America

Dr Jill Biden made a surprise appearance at this morning’s press preview for the Costume Institute’s In America: An Anthology of Fashion exhibition.

The first lady joined a roster of Metropolitan Museum of Art executives and curators, and Eva Chen of Instagram, the sponsor of the two-part In America show marking the 75th anniversary of the Costume Institute, to discuss the power of fashion. Even before her husband assumed office, Dr Biden has used clothing to communicate, be it the Stuart Weitzman boots that read “Vote” on the side that she sported on the campaign trail or the Gabriela Hearst dress she wore to the inauguration ball embroidered with federal flowers from every state and territory of the US.

Taking the podium this morning in floral print Tom Ford, a dress she’s previously worn to the G7 Summit in the UK and at the Olympics in Tokyo, Dr Biden recalled the sunflower appliqué she added to the cuff of the royal-blue dress she wore to this year’s State of the Union address, as a symbol of solidarity with Ukraine. “Sitting next to the Ukrainian ambassador,” she said, “I knew that I was sending a message without saying a word.”

In America: An Anthology of Fashion was conceived by the museum’s Wendy Yu curator in charge of the Costume Institute Andrew Bolton to showcase the creativity of unsung American dressmakers and designers, and to reconstruct the narrative of American fashion with them in it. “The history of American design is rich and deep; it is a story of innovation and ingenuity, of rebellion and renewal,” Dr Biden said. “It has often been written by those in the shadows, not recognised for their influence and art, but here at The Met their stories are told. Their voices are raised and their work can shine.”

Helping them do so are nine of America’s most renowned film directors, Martin Scorsese, Julie Dash, Sofia Coppola, and Chloé Zhao, among them, who have styled 100-or-so garments across 13 of the Met’s American period rooms. Bolton called each room a distinct short film that together added up to a feature film with interconnected stories. “Ultimately, the aim of the exhibition is to offer a more nuanced and less monolithic reading of fashion,” he said, then aptly ended his presentation by quoting the famous storyteller J R R Tolkien: “A story must be told or there’ll be no story, yet it’s the untold stories that are the most compelling.”

Balenciaga x Acid Arab Unveil A Range Of Electrifying Merchandise

Balenciaga has teamed up with music collective Acid Arab for a range of electrifying merchandise. The line of pieces includes an oversized zip-up hoodie, a sweatshirt, a long-sleeve t-shirt and sweatpants all dipped in a vibrant shade of fluorescent green. Printed on the pieces is the Acid Arab name in Arabic and Roman lettering. Bringing the pieces to like is an augmented photography campaign that mirrors the high energy of the bright pieces.

As part of the collaboration between Balenciaga and Acid Arab is an accompanying playlist curated by the Parisian collective. The personal set of tracks invokes the spirit of Acid Arab, which is to foster spaces for Arab culture in contemporary electronic music.

Monday, May 2, 2022

“André Changed The World”: Inside André Leon Talley’s Moving & Joyful Memorial Service In Harlem

In life, André Leon Talley was a towering figure, famous for what he knew – and how he spoke – about culture and style; for the elegant circles that he ran in; and for the way that he carried himself in an industry where few people looked like him. Yet as a memorial for the late Vogue editor made clear on Friday, Talley was also a humble man, a generous man, and a man of deep and resounding faith. (He was, after all, a Southerner, brought up in Durham, North Carolina by his devout and beloved grandmother.)

At the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, where he was a congregant for decades, legions of Talley’s closest friends, family, and followers gathered both to celebrate his memory and reflect upon his legacy. By turns intensely moving and utterly euphoric, the service made for a suitably special tribute to a very special person. As a statement from Michelle Obama read, “Through his kindness, charm, and electricity, André changed the world.”

The service, overseen by Reverend Calvin O Butts III from a pulpit flooded with flowers by David Monn, wove together readings from scripture, performances by Valerie Simpson and the wonderful Abyssinian Baptist Choir, and heartfelt remarks from Talley’s cousin, Brian Nunn, as well as Marc Jacobs, Anna Wintour, Carolina Herrera, Naomi Campbell, Bethann Hardison, Paula Wallace, and Diane von Furstenberg, among others. (In the audience, meanwhile, were the likes of Edward Enninful, Pat McGrath, Grace Coddington, Hamish Bowles, Kerby Jean-Raymond, Zac Posen, Derek Blasberg, Karlie Kloss, Kimora Lee Simmons, and Gayle King, many of whom could be seen dabbing their eyes or clapping along in jubilation to rousing renditions of “Come Sunday”, “Down by the Riverside”, “Young Gifted and Black”, and one of Talley’s very favourite hymns, “How I Got Over”.)


Nunn remembered Talley as a king of cool. Jacobs described his expressive emails, occasionally written in all-caps “as if to shout with emphasis and urgency what must be heard”, and a madcap trip to Moscow with Talley and Campbell. Wintour spoke affectingly of Talley as a close friend and confidant. “Like all of us here today, I felt lucky to consider him part of my family,” she said. “He taught me to speak fearlessly and to see from the heart. I miss him in moments of sadness, but most of all, moments of joy.” Hardison recounted meeting Talley at Andy Warhol’s Factory, where he turned up wearing what looked like an extra-large Eagle Scout uniform, and Herrera called him the “fashion historian of our times”.

Campbell, clad in an exuberant white fur from Schiaparelli, quoted Talley’s assertion that the true meaning of luxury is being able “to take control of one’s life, health, and the pursuit of happiness in a way that is joyful”, adding that by his standards, over-the-top was actually exactly right. Earlier in the week, she and von Furstenberg had visited Talley’s family and childhood friends in North Carolina. “It was touching to see how close you still were with all of them. They told us funny stories about you, and they’re all so proud of following the journey of your life,” von Furstenberg said, addressing Talley. “You spoke perfect French, the language you wanted to learn; you travelled to all the places you wanted to see; you met all the people you wanted to meet; and you became intimate friends with the ones you admired most.”

If there was a common thread in all of those stories – from Talley’s comrades in fashion, as well as from Reverend Butts and other members of the Abyssinian community – it was that André Leon Talley was precisely himself at every moment, whether weighing in on how Bee Carrozzini should wear her hair at the Met Gala, or gifting Deacon Alexis Thomas a Fendi briefcase because it was “more becoming” than the plastic bag she typically carried her church papers in. To know him was to feel his warmth, his curiosity, and his unsparing attention to detail – and to fête him was to promise to somehow pass those virtues on.

Ib Kamara Is The New Art And Image Director At Off-White

Almost six months to the day since the death of Virgil Abloh, whose many achievements include the creation of Off-White, the label that is central to his legacy began detailing those who will succeed him. In a post on Instagram, Off-White announced Ib Kamara in the role of art and image director. The platform used was especially appropriate, as the post detailed: “Ibrahim’s relationship with Virgil and Off-White born and nurtured through DM messages on Instagram, blossomed both personally and professionally in the last three years creating a strong bond based on mutual respect and shared values. In the new role, he will further develop his influence and insight on the brand’s collections, image, and content.”

A few minutes later Kamara reposted his portrait, commenting: “Virgil will forever be with us. With me. He changed the world and left an indelible mark on anyone who encountered him and beyond. Generous with his time, mind and creativity – he saw everyone and created with all humans in mind. I am honoured to further link my ties to Off-White as their art and image director and be a part of the team that will tell the rest of the story Virgil started writing for us all.”

Following Off-White’s show in Paris this February, Davide De Giglio, co-founder of its parent company New Guards Group, signalled that the only way to continue the true spirit of Off-White would be to recruit a multitude of talents. Today’s announcement establishes one part of that collective.


Andrea Grilli, who has served as Off-White’s CEO since 2019, said: “In the wake of Virgil’s tragic passing we have been working tirelessly to keep his legacy alive and the brand relevant as a point of reference and platform in constant evolution. Inspired by Virgil’s vision and approach to his art we have nourished a collective of creative minds that represent the best in their category and have a strong and personal connection with Virgil. Having Ibrahim on board, who has been part of the Off-White family for years styling our shows, to oversee art and creative of the brand in this next chapter is a great honour. With his talent and vision we look forward to taking on the next chapter of Off-White together, always remembering the groundbreaking creativity and values that Virgil had at heart and that are the core of our brand.”

Conceptualised and overseen by Abloh from wherever in the world he happened to be on his endlessly peripatetic creative odyssey, Off-White is realised from its design studio in Milan. London-based Kamara, who in 2021 was appointed editor-in-chief of Dazed and is a former fashion editor-at-large for i-D , is a prodigious stylist and image-maker. He has worked across the fashion landscape with brands including Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Labrum London, Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini, Kenneth Ize, and Erdem.

Kamara was named winner of the Isabella Blow Award at the British Fashion Council’s The Fashion Awards last November, only a day before Abloh’s shocking passing. In an interview then with Vogue’s Steff Yotka, Kamara said: “I am looking for ways we can even connect more young people globally. I hope it will really change the image makers who are going to come in the next generation. Can you imagine seeing themselves in images that can inspire them to make even better, maybe even, the most incredible imagery that we’ve seen? That’s what I want to see when I’m 40.”

Thom Browne’s Toy Story

Despite being surrounded by models, coworkers, mood boards, racks of clothes and accessories in preparation of his fall 2022 show here on Friday night, the designer was in a jovial mood. But that could be because the show and the collection are centered around toys — for both kids and adults.

His inspiration was the Island of Misfit Toys from the “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” animated film. “In a way, I always feel New York is an island of misfit toys,” he said. “It’s a place where you can really be true to yourself and be comfortable. People are so much more accepting and it’s such an inspiring time.”

That translated into a true conceptualized collection that was based partially on kids’ toys such as Slinkys, Jack-in-the-boxes, wooden blocks and toy boxes, while the other half was based on adult versions of toys.

“So the adults are basically coming to the show to find their corresponding toy and their corresponding toy represents their true self,” he said, adding: “Toys are so individual and unique.”

Browne said he didn’t scour old toy stores to find pieces he could use when designing the line, opting instead to “remember what was in our heads when we remember kids’ toys. Everything is loosely based on that reference. I love being able to be free to create something that’s not so literal.”

He said the collection consists of “beautiful, unique one-offs” that include the use of heritage British, Irish and English tweeds and repp fabrics — hallmarks of the designer’s collection over the past two decades — but “brought into my world.”

During the preview, Browne unveiled his first toy and adult duo ahead of Friday evening’s show. Both looks included elongated white shirt dresses and multicheck and silk repp striped pleated skirts — his conceptualized toy look styled atop a voluminous white hoop skirt with small lobster embroideries underneath a standout jacket emblazoned with individual tweed, repp, and check multicolor embroideries and accessorized with a bulbous knit cap, oversized repp stripe pony toy bag and platform brogue boots with children’s blocks as heels.

“The whole thing is actually one whole look that spirals off,” Browne said. His corresponding adult look sported a tailored mixed check topcoat and trousers, high top hat, Mr. Thom bag and lace-up booties with repp platform heels.

The duo exemplified the designer’s messaging through a joyous balance of conceptualized individuality, a touch of whimsy and workmanship, as did his second toy-box-inspired look, with a fully lined and fabricated wooden trompe l’oeil suited toy box as top and a voluminous red, navy and white silk repp stripe corseted skirt and petticoat.

So while the pieces are trademark over-the-top Browne statements, they are familiar at the same time. “They’re classic shapes that I’ve been doing for 20 years and that I love and they haven’t really had to change that much, they still feel really new every season.

“It was important to do something that put a smile on peoples’ faces, too. I think there was something important about the story of finding your true self, but also having fun with it,” Browne said, hinting at Friday’s show installation, which will feature 500 teddy bears donning his signature gray suits within a conference room-inspired setting. “I like it to be a layered experience.”

Although fall fashion week has already passed for most brands, the timing of Browne’s show is intentional. It’s tied into the second part of “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” opening May 7 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, and curated by his partner, Andrew Bolton. The second installation is titled “In America: An Anthology of Fashion,” and will be housed within the museum’s American Wing.

“Andrew has done such an amazing job with his shows, really showing the world how important American design is,” Browne said. “I think there are really interesting ideas happening here in America and I like showing the world that America and American design are not just commercial. I want to be the champion for making sure that people see that you can have a conceptual idea and do conceptual collections, but also have a business. You can have both and I think that is important for the world to see.”

Indeed. Browne, which is now majority-owned by Ermenegildo Zegna Group, posted sales of 264 million euros last year, an increase of 47 percent.

Even though he has built an established business, Browne said he often wonders why other American designers have such a hard time breaking through and succeeding.

“I think about that all the time because there are really, really talented people here who have so many interesting ideas,” he said. And speaking from personal experience, he believes the key for any designer seeking to break through is to have a point of view and stick with it.

“I was very true to creating one image for people so they knew what I stood for,” he said. “But it took me 10 years to do that. And I think that’s the one thing you have to realize if you want to become a designer.”

Of course, it hasn’t all been a walk in the park, Browne said. “In 2009, we almost went out of business,” he said, but he hunkered down and stayed true to his vision and ultimately it worked out.

“The last thing we need is another designer or more clothes, so you have to do one good thing,” he said. “For me it was the gray suit, but the proportions were different than what people had done before. Nobody liked it at first — for the first three, four years. I had friends who said, ‘Why would I buy it when it doesn’t even fit you?’ But you have to stay true to [your vision] and be committed to it 110 percent. If you’re just doing it to be rich and famous, then it’s most likely not going to happen.”

So even though he plans to return to Paris to show his men’s collection in June, he’ll always be an “American designer in Paris.”

He said Bolton’s shows for the Met have shown the world that there is talent in America in terms of fashion, and Browne is just happy to be part of that story.

“That’s what Andrew has done,” he said. “He’s shown the world that there’s so much evidence.”

In anticipation of the opening of the exhibit next week, the big fundraiser for the museum, the Met Gala, will be held Monday night. Browne wouldn’t tip his hand on who will be seated with him at his table at the event or which celebrities he’d be dressing, however.

“It’ll be an incredible group of individuals,” he said. “We all get along and can relate to each other and they’ve been customers or fans for a long time. It’ll be new and old ambassadors.”

With so much on his plate, Browne also hasn’t had a lot of time to think about how he’ll be commemorating his 20th anniversary next year. But rest assured, he’ll come up with something.

“It just seems like yesterday and it feels like a lifetime, but it’s gone really quickly,” he said. “I remember working with Brooks Brothers and Moncler and other really important moments along the way. What I’ve been able to do is really special, and I’m still doing it.”

And his longevity can help deliver an important message to the American fashion community. Even though 20 years is a long time and should be celebrated, he said, “you still have to back it up with a strong business. Our business is good and over the last few years, it’s been better than ever, but there’s still so much work to do.”

His goal for the next 20 years is to keep on keeping on while introducing the Thom Browne brand to a whole new group of customers. “People still see us in a niche way, but there are so many more people who should be opened up to this world,” he said. “We have to make sure to stay true to that gray suit from 20 years ago, but we can do anything. There are no limits.”