Thursday, June 30, 2022

British Fashion Council Calls For A “Braver Approach To Hiring” Amid A Lack Of Diversity

The British Fashion Council says half of European fashion companies have coordinated diversity and inclusion strategies, but lack thorough data, specific targets, representation and transparency, according to a new report.

Among the more than 100 European fashion companies included in the report, 42 per cent said they do not collect data on diversity and 29 per cent conceded the data they do have is insufficient in providing full visibility of diversity in their companies. Only 29 per cent said their data is thorough, according to the report. Of the 51 per cent that have a coordinated strategy, few have specific targets for representation of underprivileged groups and even fewer have specific budgets allocated to diversity and inclusion efforts.

The BFC report paints a mixed picture of the European fashion industry’s efforts despite serving a global consumer. At the board, executive and direct report levels, representation for women was below 40 per cent and for ethnic minorities (sometimes referred to as the global majority) representation was below 10 per cent. The BFC highlighted that brands need to broaden their pool of talent by avoiding hiring for a “culture fit” because that places emphasis on a candidate’s prior experience which is often dependent on their access to the industry, socio-economic background and privilege.

“The fashion industry is historically an inherently exclusive industry which presents barriers to entry that deter social and geographical mobility,” BFC chief executive Caroline Rush says. “What we have found is that businesses that are furthest ahead are those invested in lowering the barriers to entry by removing unpaid internships, lowering qualification requirements and partnering with external charities.”

The 34-page report was published as part of the BFC’s Institute of Positive Fashion Forum taking place today, in partnership with executive and leadership advisory firm The MBS Group. It’s the first D&I report published by the BFC, and the first to include industry-wide data on leadership diversity, which will be updated annually. Industry advocates have said transparency is needed for the fashion industry to progress with its diversity and inclusion efforts, but data regulations including GDPR have caused logistical challenges.

Some brands are open about their demographic information in the US – such as Tapestry and Gucci – however many are unable to share demographics, specifically of ethnicity, in Europe due to GDPR data collection laws. The BFC’s American counterpart the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) also published a report about diversity and inclusion in fashion in February 2021 with Tommy Hilfiger owner PVH and McKinsey with data insights on US-based fashion brands.

“Many brands – even those with a positive story to tell – are very reluctant to discuss or disclose their challenges on D&I or share their leadership data from a diversity perspective in a public forum, which is why it has been essential to be able to offer brands a confidential space for these conversations,” says Mathew Dixon, director of fashion, luxury and lifestyle practice at The MBS Group.

The BFC and The MBS Group approached the top brands in each key European country, including a mix of luxury, mid-market, high street, sports, accessories and multi-brand companies with approximately €8 million (£6.9million) to €10 billion (£8.6 billion) in annual sales, however, not all the brands that they wanted to speak with were willing, Dixon adds.
Diversity’s data problem

Dixon highlighted three main challenges for gathering, analysing and publicising data on D&I. Firstly, data that businesses already have is often incomplete or out of date (for instance if it was captured during the recruitment process), and some aspects of diversity such as social mobility can be hard to define and therefore measure. Secondly, while regulatory frameworks can be helpful for encouraging businesses to address their lack of data (such as mandatory gender pay gap reporting in the UK), they can also cause difficulties when collecting personal information particularly for businesses that operate internationally. And finally, employee trust is essential when gathering data to ensure safety and protection.

Best practices around data collection include educating employees on the benefits of disclosing personal data for D&I and sharing how data will be used, according to the report. Some businesses are creating voluntary employee surveys to gather this data and network groups to collect anecdotal information about the lived experience of different groups.

The report also found that larger companies and public companies are likely to have more formalised D&I policies compared to smaller players due to resources and higher levels of scrutiny. Five brands – Burberry, Ganni, Lululemon, PVH Europe and Sinéad Burke’s Tilting the Lens – outlined their approaches to implementing and scaling diversity and inclusion initiatives for the report, which included overhauling talent retention and hiring practices, rethinking company culture and educational efforts.

Burberry sets clear targets of a 50/50 gender split and 25 per cent ethnic diversity when hiring and has introduced mandatory allyship training starting with the leadership team. Lululemon has a dedicated budget of $5 million (£4.1 million) for its D&I department and a further $3 million (£2.5 million) to support charities and nonprofits to advance the wellbeing of its communities and also uses a demographics survey to ensure its approach is intersectional. And, PVH Europe launched a self-identification campaign to encourage employees to share personal data in order to overcome the challenges associated with data collection in Europe.
“In business, what gets measured gets done. D&I needs not just to be on the agenda but to be led from the top. It must be seen as a business-wide, commercial imperative rather than an HR issue,” says Dixon. “Those brands that demonstrated better D&I best practice were led by CEOs who were fully engaged in incorporating it as a central pillar and value of the company. While standardised approaches to measuring D&I could potentially be of particular use to smaller businesses that can dedicate less resources to overcoming some of the challenges around data collection, many larger businesses simply cannot afford to wait.”

The BFC has been bulking up its focus on diversity and inclusion since 2020 as part of an industry-wide reckoning during the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. In September 2020, it created a dedicated diversity and inclusion steering committee that includes The Fashion Minority Report founder Daniel Peters, Vogue chief critic and BFC ambassador for emerging talent Sarah Mower, Yoox Net-a-Porter CMO Sheena Sauvaire and Burberry global diversity and inclusion manager Safia Kukaswadia among others. In May 2021 it published a diversity, equity and inclusion policy outlining its commitments, and in September 2021 it partnered with the BBC’s 50:50 The Equality Project to gather data on the diversity of brands involved in London Fashion Week with designers including Labrum London, Matty Bovan, Saul Nash and Roksanda taking part.

There is much more work to be done, Rush says. “Companies need to be brave in their approach to hiring to encourage diversity of thought, which will ultimately create a brand culture that reflects the consumers they serve.”

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Margot Robbie And Ryan Gosling’s Life In Plastic Is Fantastic

“I’m a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world, life in plastic, it’s fantastic!” You know those iconic Aqua lyrics, and Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling are embodying that spirit. The two stars are currently filming the upcoming Barbie film directed by Greta Gerwig, and this week we got a closer glimpse at their iconic characters’ flashy wardrobes. To our delight, they include those blinding neon hues that the stylish dolls infamously know and love.

Robbie and Gosling were spotted rollerblading around Venice Beach in LA wearing caricatures of ’80s-inspired athleisure looks that, naturally, matched (Barbie and Ken always coordinate). The hot-pink ensembles included neon-yellow knee pads, fanny packs, and sweat bands. Don’t forget the printed visors, either! We have costume designer Jacqueline Durran to thank for these head-turning outfits. She’s also outfitted films such as Little Women, Atonement, and Beauty and the Beast, but the photos of Gosling and Robbie prove she’s equally adept at dressing campy dolls as she is working on period pieces.

Every time we get a glimpse of Gosling and Robbie in their costumes, it goes viral. We’ve also seen Robbie film scenes in a western get-up including a pink vest, flared trousers, and white cowboy hat. Gosling has appeared in promo images wearing a denim vest and jeans as well, complete with the signature peroxide-blonde Ken ’do. Only a few weeks into filming, the film’s cheeky costume design already looks super promising. Plastic and fantastic.

“The Salt Mine Is My Runway!” VB Takes The Jacquemus Show

Victoria Beckham is feeling blessed and obsessed. Blessed to be at the Jacquemus autumn/winter 2022 show, and obsessed with everything from the social media potential the salt mine destination in Provence afforded her, to her new handbag line which she showed off in the south of France.

Brand Beckham was out in full force to support friend Simon Porte Jacquemus at his latest picturesque presentation: all ethereal white mountains and flyaway fashion blowing in the wind. It was, of course, breathtaking – even more so for VB, who stood out in all-black, including a pair of divisive pantaboots from her pre-spring/summer 2023 collection. “Heels in the sand is very VB!” piped up Derek Blasberg in the Instagram comment section. “It was salt Derek!!!” quipped back Beckham, who never misses a tongue-in-cheek moment.

VB’s notes on her pre-spring/summer 2023 collection were as follows: “Femininity is at the core; hemlines are high, ruched-detailing cinches, fluid jersey skims and delicate lace flutters across collar bones and waistline.” Arnold Jerocki

The former Spice Girl shared the story behind her clutch bag, featuring a chunky gold chain inspired by the men’s watches she always wears (David gifted her a special one when she was awarded her OBE), and a multi-purpose strap to facilitate hands-free ease. The word that came up again and again during her mini walk-through? “Chic.”

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

We Don’t Need Beauty In The Metaverse — Yet

Beauty brands have a natural edge on TikTok and YouTube but are lagging the fashion industry in making a splash in the virtual world. Without the logos and distinctive characteristics of apparel and accessories, it’s unclear how skin care, makeup and fragrance will establish a presence and a purpose in web3.

In early June, I got a pitch about Clinique’s latest web3 initiative, “Metaverse Like Us,” an NFT campaign created in “direct response to the lack of diversity, inclusion, and accessibility that exists in web3,” according to an email sent by a PR firm. The brand teamed up with makeup artists and content creators in a bid to “cement Clinique’s commitment to building a better and more inclusive digital beauty world focused on accessibility to address the lack of representation in the Metaverse.”

A corresponding image featured a diverse group: avatars of colour, including one that was disabled and another with vitiligo, a skin condition that causes parts of skin to lose pigment. “Change starts with us, and it’s our responsibility to ensure the same mistakes aren’t repeated in the real world,” the pitch read.

When the campaign went live, employees on LinkedIn posted an image of Clinique’s real-life team in the metaverse. A virtual rendering showed over 40 Clinique employees who work at the corporate level and were cheering, smiling and holding their arms up triumphantly; almost all of them appear to be white and able-bodied.

The image wasn’t shared with the media or meant to be seen by Clinique’s customers. But it’s a good example of a legacy beauty label missing the mark on what some believe is the next big thing. “Metaverse Like Us,” could have been impactful had it been created by a company that embodied the message it was broadcasting.

Instead, it’s simply a brand latching onto an issue (diversity and inclusion) and platform of the moment (an NFT campaign). It’s a time-tested way to grab headlines and gives the brand’s manager an answer when their bosses inevitably ask: “What are we doing about the metaverse?”

In a statement, a Clinique spokesperson said the campaign led to the “second highest weekly gain of followers on Instagram (in the last 2 years) and 400 percent increase of time spent on page vs site average,” and that it had received positive feedback from members of the communities represented by the NFTs.

“The Daz 3D Non Fungible People NFT collection was produced to promote greater representation in the Metaverse,” the spokesperson said. “It was done thoughtfully in consultation with many experts in various fields and with both internal and external communities to ensure the content was authentic.”

I don’t mean to single out Clinique here. Nars, Estée Lauder, Charlotte Tilbury and others have launched various metaverse initiatives. While inclusivity may not have been their focus, these efforts have one thing in common: each in its own way fails to meet customers where they consume beauty content, giving these projects a feeling of existing because the brands think they have to have some sort of presence in the metaverse. We aren’t going to talk about these things much beyond that initial burst of publicity. The return on investment on beauty is questionable already, and showing up in the metaverse for no reason feels like a misunderstanding of a beauty company’s purpose.

You could say many of the same things about fashion’s NFT experiments. But it’s easier to envision a world where those brands build real businesses selling virtual clothing or other products that tie into clothes people wear. It’s harder to imagine people applying an Advanced Night Repair serum NFT to enhance their avatar’s skin, and no beauty brand has come up with a truly compelling future for this technology in their industry.

So while it’s understandable why beauty wants to play in a space that’s been dominated by fashion, it also feels like someone’s younger sibling following them to a party.

There are plenty of places online where beauty has an edge on fashion — take TikTok and YouTube, for example. But when it comes to web3, fashion’s been quicker to find early ways to play in the space. It’s easy to understand how exclusive, limited apparel and accessories drops translate into the virtual world. The brands that have been loudest about their web3 projects, from Nike to Gucci to Balenciaga, fit nicely into the hype-y, visual representation of fashion. Clout is clout.

Without the logos and distinctive characteristics of apparel and accessories, it’s unclear how skin care, makeup and fragrance will establish a presence and a purpose in web3. A pink lipstick or a limited-edition serum NFT that makes your avatar’s skin glow can come from any brand; you might proudly show off a Chanel logo on your bag, but not on your avatar’s lips.

Some beauty brands have created highly visual products, like Dieux’s under-eye masks, that could translate to the metaverse. They can also sell merch — Glossier’s pink hoodie, which had a thousands-long waitlist, would probably be an NFT if Timothée Chalamet had worn it in 2021 instead of 2019.

But is there a place for skin care brands, which mostly sell products that can’t even be seen in photos or a video? For makeup, will the augmented reality and virtual try-on tools offered by Sephora or NYX translate to web3? It seems unlikely that a customer will head to the metaverse for a virtual try-on instead of using a retailer’s app or a similar in-store tool.

When it comes to products, will brands sell virtual versions of their existing products? Will avatars be able to wear digital versions of real-life shades of lipstick? How do you discern a virtual shade sold by Nars from Charlotte Tilbury’s?

There’s also FOMO. Despite these challenges, many of these companies, especially ones with the financial means to do so, are just trying it out because it’s the “hot new thing” and they don’t want to be left behind.

For now, the beauty industry is left mostly with marketing: NFTs based on bestsellers, virtual storefronts, advertising. That’s just not that exciting and isn’t going to transform how these companies interact with their customers. With much of the crypto world melting down right now, it might make more sense for brands to wait and see what emerges from the rubble rather than burn themselves rushing into cheesy one-off projects.

Why Runway Models Don’t Smile

“You smile a lot” has become my unofficial tag line — well, it’s not so much my tag line as it is a statement that always seems to find me. While those closest to me have learned to not only accept but also cherish my eternally optimistic outlook (“It’s a quintessential Annika-ism,” declared a friend), strangers are mystified, reacting as if they are seeing a pair of Balenciaga’s bright-green high-heeled Crocs for the first time. “But why?” they imply through their quizzical looks and fidgety body language. In an ironic twist of fate, I suddenly found myself asking the very same question — just not about me. After nearly two decades of sporting pouts and blank stares on the runways, models were seen actually smiling (gasp!) for the Spring 2022 shows.

Giorgio Armani’s muses sauntered blissfully as if on an oceanic stroll; at Chanel, models danced down the catwalk, twirling and hairflipping for the photographers; flashes of pearly whites added to the joie de vivre at Zimmermann; and even Monique Lhuillier and ERL, both of whom chose to release photographs in lieu of putting on shows, managed to capture a few happy faces.

In my attempt to simultaneously defend my demeanour and uncover the answer to this catwalk conundrum, I discovered that the industry’s penchant for the swing of the pendulum is partially responsible for this fanatical facial transformation: If fashion is heading in one direction, it must eventually go in the opposite.

The same is true for models, whose expressions have swung from aloof to elated over the decades. According to Rebecca Halliday, assistant professor at The Creative School (formerly the faculty of communication and design at Toronto Metropolitan University) and author of The Fashion Show Goes Live, it all began in the 1800s, when Charles Frederick Worth — the inventor of the couture salon presentation — referred to his shows as “mannequin parades.” “The ‘unsmiling model’ is the product ultimately of a European preference for a certain conformity,” she writes in an email. “The runway model is derived from the concept of the actual mannequin, so there’s a sense of blankness that fashion came to expect from these women.”

Just don’t confuse an empty stare for an empty pocket. Stoicism also reflected an air of wealth and status, points out Cathy LeDrew, president of Toronto-based LeDrew Models. LeDrew, who has represented the likes of Chanel Iman, Malin Akerman and Monika Schnarre, says that in the 19th century, models were asked to essentially emulate painted portraiture, where happiness was historically associated with the poor, the mentally ill or the drunk — certainly not great company for couture.

LeDrew says that the rise of ready-to-wear in the 20th century introduced an alternative to the stiff scowl of French houses. Mary Quant, who has been credited with pioneering the ’60s miniskirt, was one of the first to embrace elated expressions and actually instructed her models to smile when they were presenting her designs.

However, for the transformation from glares to grins to take full effect, it took the work of not one but five gorgeous women: Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer and Christy Turlington. Contrary to fashion folklore, these supers didn’t become stars overnight. Dr. Sonya Abrego, design historian and assistant professor at New York’s Parsons The New School, defines the ’80s as “an acceleration of what was already going on in terms of the celebrity and designer culture.” These models reached bona fide pop icon status (with paycheques to match) through unparalleled exposure in magazines, music videos, runways, commercials and billboards. “It changed from the clothes being the most important thing on the runway to the models,” notes LeDrew. The supers’ personality-driven and joy-filled catwalks famously culminated in Versace’s Fall 1991 show, when Evangelista, Campbell, Crawford and Turlington closed the presentation by linking arms and lip-synching George Michael’s “Freedom! ’90,” recreating his iconic music video onstage.

But to paraphrase Sir Isaac Newton, mouths that turn up must eventually come down. Although there’s no definitive moment at which a joyful countenance was outlawed, new deconstructionist designers, teenage angst and the rise of “grunge” and “heroin chic” and its poster child, Kate Moss, eventually led to the model pout we’ve all come to recognize

Japanese designers Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo (creative director for Comme des Garçons) arrived in Paris in the ’80s; their dark and disturbing design mentality diametrically opposed the theatrical opulence that defined the era. “The aesthetic was pared back so it would look almost goofy for models to have a grin or bouncy walk while wearing those clothes,” says Abrego. The trend was also born from the oppositional effects of the ever-swinging pendulum, and flirtatious runway walks were superseded by serious stomps.

But what ultimately cemented the facial transformation was the need for models to return to their mannequin roots and the garments to reclaim centre stage. “Critics around that time were feeling that fashion shows had become a forum for the display of the celebrity rather than a presentation of the clothes themselves,” says Halliday. “So part of the return of the less-performing (but still-performing) model was a stripping down of the fashion show into its core components.”

Perhaps it’s no surprise that as we deal with the bleakness of a global pandemic, the prospect of seeing pearly whites is more irresistible than ever. While spring and summer have come to represent a yearly renaissance of shorter pants, exposed toes and floral prints, in 2022, “they are also celebrating the re-emergence of in-person shows and simultaneously a throwback to a time when fashion felt like it could embrace some excess and spontaneity,” reflects Halliday. “It’s nice to see people’s entire faces again, even if it’s just for a moment!”

It seems that in these models and designers, I’ve finally found a kindred spirit. As I watched 2022’s new muses dance down the Chanel catwalk to a contemporary cover of “Freedom! ’90” by Christine and the Queens, I felt a wave of hope wash over me — not because I’m a fan of George Michael or shoulder pads in general but because, for now, smiling is cool. At least until the next fashion cycle.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Karl Lagerfeld’s Latest Collaboration Has A ‘Queer’ Bent

For his first collaboration with another brand, up-and-coming Spanish menswear designer Archie Alled-Martinez can’t believe his luck that it’s with Karl Lagerfeld, a designer pivotal in sparking his passion for fashion in the Aughts.

“I just share his vision or his way of seeing clothing, or clothes-making, I suppose,” he mused, mentioning the late German designer‘s high standards of creativity and craftsmanship, plus his respect for the industry. “It was really magic to be given the opportunity to sort of continue his legacy in a way.”

Alled-Martinez interpreted Lagerfeld’s brand essence and aesthetic codes through a queer lens for the capsule collection that debuts on on Tuesday, landing the following day on, and select Karl Lagerfeld stores. While not billed as a Pride Month initiative, the collection includes shrunken T-shirts declaring “Fluidity,” tight candy-apple red flares and sparkly knee shorts for guys and gals.

The Karl Lagerfeld brand will also give over its entire store on Rue Vieille du Temple in the Marais district to the Alled-Martinez project, which includes footwear and accessories. DJ sets will heighten the party atmosphere of the one-month takeover in a neighborhood flush with LGBTQ bars and businesses. The WOW concept store in Madrid will also stock the capsule, created for the pre-fall 2022 season.

In an exclusive interview, Alled-Martinez singled out irreverence and daring as key attributes of the clothes, which expose midriffs, hug curves and blur gender lines with such items as long kilts — a wink to one Lagerfeld wore to take his bow in 2004 when Chanel staged a fashion show in Tokyo.

“The deep message of the collection is about standing for authenticity, and being your true selves,” he explained, his English accent as thick as a London native. “I think the daringness is not giving a toss about how people are going to react to something. It’s an attitude.”

Lagerfeld skirted questions about sexuality and his personal life, if anyone dared ask, preferring to extol about his fashion, photography, film and publishing projects. His support for gay rights was expressed subliminally, but powerfully and presciently, such as in 2013 when at the conclusion of Chanel’s summer couture show, he sent out two brides holding hands.

By contrast, Alled-Martinez identifies himself as a queer designer. For his spring 2021 signature collection, he photographed scantily clad men in a gay cruising spot near Barcelona. His initial focus on tailored knitwear has yielded recently to extremely low-rise cargo pants, skimpy T-shirts and fashion videos exalting young lust.

“I consider myself an advocate,” he said. “Nowadays, you really have to have a message. I feel that in our industry it’s our duty to have a voice, you know, to represent something, to stand for something.”

He described Lagerfeld’s graphic and somewhat exaggerated personal style, which hinged on dark suits, white shirts with high collars, dark sunglasses and dollops of sparkle, as camp and flamboyant, though “I didn’t want to fall into cliches.”

Instead, he produced such looks as a Lurex jersey suit, driving gloves with full fingers, and a white polo shirt that zips up to the Adam’s apple. The late designer’s lucky number seven appears on a bowling-style handbag and an athletic jersey.

Alled-Martinez was so energized by the design project that he presented about 100 looks to the Lagerfeld team, ultimately whittling it down to 47 skus, far more than the 20 requested.

The young designer worked in tandem with Karl Lagerfeld design director Hun Kim, who lauded that “Archie doesn’t fabricate anything: He designs what he believes in and what he loves.…It’s authentic and true to both brands’ identities.”

For his part, Alled-Martiez confessed that “having to direct such a big project was thrilling. The team made it really, really easy. It was immaculate.”

Carine Roitfeld, style adviser at the Karl Lagerfeld brand, proposed Alled-Martinez for the project after discovering his designs when he was short-listed for the 2020 LVMH Fashion Prize for Young Designers.

“It was a lot about jersey, very fitted, and I thought immediately it was something Karl would have loved, because he loved tailored jackets in jersey,” Roitfeld related. “Also, Karl liked to do things he never did before and this collection was totally no-gender. We really pushed this idea very far in the campaign images.

“I love the idea of a sexy boy and girl in the same outfit. It’s very young, too,” she enthused. “It’s very wearable for the new generations.”

Alled-Martinez said the fashion shoots and shows Roitfeld styled — what came to be known as “porn chic” — had a big impact on him as a tween and teen, and fed the sexual undercurrent of his campaign and look book shoots.

Roitfeld’s name appears on a T-shirt in the new capsule. Ditto for Sébastien Jondeau, Lagerfeld’s longtime bodyguard and personal secretary, now a product consultant and ambassador for the brand’s menswear.

Alled-Martinez called the name shirts an homage to Lagerfeld’s entourage, key to his creative process, and an echo of his own devotion to his community of followers. For those who can’t decide between Roitfeld or Jondeau, there’s a “Team Karl” slogan.

The Alled-Martinez project follows a collaboration with Kenneth Ize, another buzzy designer who characterizes his label as gender neutral, and precedes one next September with model, actress and advocate Cara Delevingne focused on “inclusive, gender-neutral pieces.”

The Karl Lagerfeld brand introduced a unisex capsule with its spring 2021, with the company explaining that the late founder’s personal style, hinged on white shirts and dark tailoring, lends itself to both genders and is in tune with the current zeitgeist.

Barcelona-born Alled-Martinez is a master’s graduate in fashion knitwear from London’s Central Saint Martins. He moved to Paris in 2018 as his graduate prize included a one-year placement at Givenchy.

He launched his signature label for the spring 2020 season and is readying his spring 2023 collection, which tackles “the figure of the metrosexual” and will be unveiled on June 26 during Paris Fashion Week.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Dior’s Garden-Inspired S/S'23 Men’s Show

Dior’s spring/summer 2023 menswear show was a celebration of founder Christian Dior’s passion for gardening, staged in a set inspired by his sugary pink childhood home in Granville, Normandy. Anders Christian Madsen reports from Paris.

The collection was inspired by gardens

Continuing his celebration of the 75th anniversary of Dior this year, Kim Jones staged a spring/summer 2023 men’s show fusing the gardens of Christian Dior in Normandy and Granville with his own fascination with Charleston, the Sussex home of the Bloomsbury Group artist Duncan Grant. “We are mixing the utilitarian, natural and gardening elements with stylised New Look and Duncan Grant artworks – an idea of the casual with the formal at once. There is an idea of the passage of time, the changing weather and light of the seasons, as well as continuity, artistic community and the legacy of Christian Dior,” he said.

The show set evoked the childhood home of Christian Dior

The show unfolded in a garden set populated with bright green grass and flowers, against a backdrop resembling Christian Dior’s pastel pink childhood home in Granville. “Granville and Mr Dior’s garden impacts the entire collection,” Jones explained. “There is the idea of a private, countryside life, lived casually in more utilitarian clothes – focused on gardening, walking and fishing – contrasted at the same time with the more elegant and formal Dior codes.” Those contrasts were present throughout silhouettes founded in the slightly technical, slightly sporty, and very outdoor clothes that felt innately Kim Jones.

It was outdoor-wear through a Dior lens

Jones married camouflage performance-wear, backpacks and wellies with romantic oversized and sportified tailoring that was virtually picnic-appropriate – although you might want to keep its delectable fabrication off the grass. Handsome Bar jackets – Dior’s holy grail – in sheer silk organza looked as if veiled over their own construction in filters of dusty greys and pretty pastels that evoked the colours of Granville. They were paired with shorts either tailored or tight and sporty, layered with short shorts. Styled with garments printed or woven in the motifs of Duncan Grant’s paintings, it made for a sweet and lighthearted expression.

It was an ode to Duncan Grant

Often, the collection felt very English, a testament to Jones’s affection for Grant and the Bloomsbury Group. “I first went to Charleston when I was 14-years-old – it had a major impact on me. It just struck me how modern they all were, each of those individuals involved in Bloomsbury who were attached to Charleston,” the designer said. “It was primarily how they lived and worked in one place and how intense that connection was, resulting in the varying aesthetics in different mediums that were produced because of it.”

The theme inspired a wealth of accessories

On the accessories front, the show made a strong proposition for hats – the gardening type, of course – worn over, or perhaps fused with, caps whose visors poked out underneath the brim. Trekking and hiking boots and latticed sandals joined Jones’ wellies as contenders for the new summer it-shoes, while bum bags and sporty sunglasses cemented the outdoorsy mood.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Louis Vuitton’s Studio-Designed Men’s S/S'23 Show

A Tallahassee-based marching band parade and performance by Kendrick Lamar set the tone for an imaginative Louis Vuitton show created by the men’s studio in the spirit of Virgil Abloh. Here, everything you need to know about the rainbow spring/summer 2023 presentation.

The show was created by the Louis Vuitton design studio

A magnified kids’ racetrack swirled its way around the Carré du Louvre for a Louis Vuitton spring/summer 2023 show that felt like no other. Painted like the Yellow Brick Road, it was an homage to the theme of Virgil Abloh’s Wizard of Oz-inspired first collection for the house in June 2018. Since his death in November last year, the design team and creative collaborators who were in daily contact with him through eight seasons have been trying to come to terms with the loss of a genius, who wasn’t just their boss but their friend. Abloh was a master at putting people together and creating dynamics, and he loved his team. I know this because I’ve worked on that team since he first joined LV, and experienced the making of every show including this. Ultimately, the creative process of this studio-designed collection became a kind of therapy for everyone involved: a collective, cathartic exercise that felt healing.

It was in the spirit of Virgil Abloh

Contrary to January’s collection, which was almost finished when Abloh died, this season was entirely designed by the LV men’s studio. Some of them were already there when he arrived, others were hired by him, but they all share the massive influence Abloh had on every creative around him – aesthetically as well as philosophically. That’s why this collection was entirely in his spirit: an exploration of the imaginative, childlike and culturally significant codes he instilled at LV, and a demonstration of the creatorship, craftsmanship and showmanship that were already a major part of the house’s genetics before his arrival – and which inspired him so much. Much of Abloh’s practice was about claiming those ideas for groups of society, who hadn’t historically felt included in high fashion. Everything about this show demonstrated his success in doing so: how he inspired the people around him to do the same, changed the fashion industry forever, and opened the doors for future generations.

It featured pageantry and a performance by Kendrick Lamar

The show opened with a cinematic prelude by the American director Ephraim Asili, which explored the idea of turning imagination into reality through music. Gradually, its imagery began to come alive on the yellow racetrack runway: dancing flag-bearers heralded The Marching 100, the Tallahassee-based marching band, who put on a hugely uplifting parade that segued into a live set by Kendrick Lamar, who performed from his seat. “Long live Virgil,” he said, over and over again, but this never became a mournful show. Rather, Collection ∞ – as it was called – was a celebration of the proverbial graffiti Abloh has left on the walls of LV for infinity. Next to the racetrack, the house had erected massive bleachers and invited students from schools in Paris to watch the show. At the end, models carried a mile-long rainbow flag down the runway as a reference to the rainbow catwalk of Abloh’s first LV show.

The collection was childlike by way of superior craftsmanship

Expressed in a silhouette that played with the childlike idea of growing into and outgrowing clothes – with nods to the dress codes of the 1990s skater community – the collection was a powerful demonstration of the craftsmanship at the heart of LV. Ingenious creations included two “SpeakerMen” looks made up of real loudspeakers that connected wirelessly to the show’s sound system, a monogram briefcase carved entirely in marble and lit up from within, and a formal suit ornamented with “paper planes” in origami leather as a nod to one of Abloh’s favourite childhood symbols. The multi-pocketing “accessomorphosis” that’s now a part of the LV genetics appeared in supersized primary colours on shearling coats, while impressionist floral fields were evoked in garments through jacquards, prints and embroidery. References to playdough and kids’ building blocks appeared throughout the show, in bags and as embellishments on accessories and a blown-up sneaker called Le Boyhood.

It was about human value

Over the past months, rumours have been swirling as to who might follow in Abloh’s footsteps as the next men’s artistic director of Louis Vuitton. The focus on name designers is inevitable in fashion, but as a symbol of the grace period given to Abloh’s memory, this show was about paying respect to all the people whose group efforts, talent and ideas give life to the collections we celebrate every season, and whose faces and names we don’t normally get to see on a runway. When the design team emerged to take their bow after the finale, it was a poignant reminder of the human value behind a brand like LV: all the individuals who make up a grande maison and the number of minds and hands and feelings it takes to create a show like this.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Matthew M Williams’s First Men’s Show For Givenchy S/S'23

British Vogue’s fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen shares five key takeaways from Givenchy’s menswear spring/summer 2023 presentation in Paris.

Givenchy is spotlighting its menswear

Matthew M Williams joined Givenchy as creative director during the pandemic, and had to spend the first seasons at the house delivering presentations to a digital audience. When he finally got to put on his first show last year – mixing women’s and menswear – he came at the live format with the dimensions of a stadium concert. This season marked his first standalone men’s show: testament, no doubt, to the fact that the urban wardrobe Williams believes in at Givenchy is resonating with a male audience, but also to the fact that clothes like these – elevated workwear from denim trousers to leather jackets and hoodies – represent an essential contemporary wardrobe coveted by all genders.

It was about real clothes and covetable accessories

“It’s a dialogue with the time and culture that shape the way men dress today and tomorrow: the way new generations embrace and evolve the archetypes and dress codes of the past through their own progressive outlook,” Williams said. “It’s a thrilling evolution and the reason I have chosen this moment to stage a standalone men’s show for Givenchy.” The collection identified the clothes we wear the most: real, everyday staples like blousons, gilets, cargo trousers, hoodies and T-shirts, but interpreted through the Parisian craftsmanship of Givenchy’s expert ateliers. He styled it with the accessories that trademark his Givenchy look: iterations on the all-knitted TK-360 trainers, his big backpacks, and an angular new sunglass design called the G-Cut.

It was urban-wear through a couture lens

The show opened with a series of leather jackets over-embroidered with motifs that included a replica of a tarot card tattoo Williams carries on his leg. Among his most painstaking artisanal expressions were a jacket and a pair of shorts patchworked from upcycled scraps from the Givenchy leather factories, which had been laminated for a rigid, super luxe look. Shell jackets that looked like nylon were actually constructed from lightweight leather, while the camouflage of the highly textured pieces that closed the show was created from logo jacquard overlaid with laser-cut muslin, which had been meticulously destroyed by way of sanding for hours, by hand.

It featured an Alkaline soundtrack

The show took place on the grounds of the École Militaire where Williams had erected a large, white futuristic box surrounded by a moat of milky water with fog hovering in the air. He devoted his soundtrack to Alkaline, the Jamaican-born dancehall and reggae artists whose signature black contact lenses and rugged, industrial dress sense had caught Williams’s attention. As illustrated on Instagram, where posts from the show attracted endless likes and comments from Alkaline’s young but very diehard fanbase, this presence bore witness to Williams’s talent for snapping up artists, who are about to get seriously big, and welcoming them into the Givenchy family.

Williams is his own best muse

“Menswear was, quite naturally, the way I discovered fashion. In my practice at Givenchy, my men’s collections continue to be founded in an instinctive point of departure. This show is a reflection of myself and the men who surround me, from my close friends to the artists who inspire my work,” Williams said. When he came out for his bow dressed in black cargo trousers, a black T-shirt and his chunky trainers, you could see the personal approach. At Givenchy, Williams is creating a men’s wardrobe he believes in, because it’s exactly the type of fashion he has spent his life shopping for, himself.

From Balenciaga To Botox: A First Look Inside Flannels’s New Liverpool Flagship

Fancy some Botox with your Balenciaga? A Barry’s Bootcamp training session with your Stone Island? Perhaps a wind machine to help you put the latest ghds to the test, as you contemplate a masterfully mixed martini? If an all encompassing experience is what you’re after – a luxury retail ride that takes in everything from fine food to fillers, streetwear drops to sweaty workouts – you’ll find it in the new, 120,000 square foot, seven-storey world of Flannels Liverpool.

“We’re taking traditional retail to the next level. It’s not just about product,” managing director of luxury David Epstein says of the 46-year-old retailer’s most ambitious, immersive and conceptual project to date. It’s the most recent addition to its portfolio of 56 stores, joining outposts in London, Leicester, Doncaster and Manchester. Flannels’s new home is in the beating heart of Liverpool’s city centre, a cavernous space that was once home to Merseyside’s first department store 80 years ago. Billed as being about much more than shopping, it looks set to boost the city’s retail and cultural capital.

Epstein’s aim is to entice Flannels’s digital shoppers – who grew accustomed to the ease of the e-commerce experience during Covid lockdowns – back into a physical store. The Liverpool flagship incorporates an ambitious expansion of the retailer’s beauty offering (the Flannels Beauty category launched back in 2021), with monthly takeovers promised from rarely-seen-in-department-stores-labels, including Hermès Beauty, Dior Maison and Kylie Cosmetics. Fancy a glass of bubbly as you preen in Pat McGrath Labs’s latest products? Then visit Flannels’s Beauty Bar Changing Room, which boasts a call button for cocktails, a virtual mirror and a red carpet-ready wind machine.

Upstairs, Flannels Liverpool houses an impressive range of men’s and women’s luxury and contemporary labels, from Burberry to Billionaire Boys Club, Gucci to Ganni, Prada to Pucci. The store also features Flannels’s most expansive curation of costume jewellery to date, a made-to-measure tailoring service, a streetwear-dedicated pop-up from hype retailer 18 Montrose, a junior section (think Juicy Couture baby grows and tiny Moon Boots), plus, a VIP space-meets-click and collect corner, where customers can browse standout pieces as they pick up products they’ve bought online.

Bolstering Flannels’s experiential ambitions, the Liverpool store is also home to a roster of restaurants, from the ground floor Italian trattoria Bacinos, to more soon-to-open spots on the sixth-floor roof terrace. For fans of fashion and ab-crunching alike, the space also features an outpost of Barry’s Boot Camp – the first of its kind in a store – and a tweakments space with a champagne recovery room, courtesy of celebrity-approved cosmetic doctor Dr Esho. Forgot your gym gear? No fear, there’s a floor dedicated to workout gear, too. “You can start your day at Barry’s Boot Camp, then grab lunch,” Epstein says.

Experimentation is integral to Flannels’s ambitious retail approach. Defying a homogenous design approach, the store mixes up the topography of its locations. While Flannels Liverpool is situated slap bang in the city centre, its Leicester flagship sits outside the city in Fosse Park shopping centre. There are plans to open more spaces across the country in the upcoming months, from Cardiff to Leeds. Whatever the location, the immersive aim of Flannels is paramount. The message it hopes to get across? “You can literally spend the whole day here.”

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Harry Styles And Alessandro Michele Have Collaborated On A Gucci Collection

The inevitable has happened. Long-time friends Alessandro Michele and pop god Harry Styles have collaborated on a Gucci collection. Unveiled during the menswear shows in Milan, Gucci HA HA HA is described as “a collection born from a creative relationship that self-generates from amusement and ends with the tangibility of a product”.

“Harry has an incredible sense of fashion,” said Michele in a statement. “The idea of working together came to me one day while we were talking on the phone: I proposed creating a ‘dream wardrobe’ with him… We ended up with a mix of aesthetics, from 1970s pop and bohemia to the revision of the image of the gentleman in an overturned memory of men’s tailoring,” the creative director added.

The result, which characterises “the creative paths and peculiarities of the two artists”, incorporates traditional English tailoring with dashes of romance and eccentricity, from double-breasted coats in Prince of Wales check, to the mother-of-pearl buttons on shirts. Velvet suits in vibrant shades sit alongside printed pyjamas, bowling shirts and pleated kilts. From the striped tank tops to the flares to the heart motif on a pair of white boots, the collection is unmistakably Gucci – and unmistakably Harry.

Gucci’s creative director and Styles have been close friends since Michele made his debut at the helm of the house, as Harry was embarking on what was to become a wildly successful solo career. (News of the collaboration emerged the day after he played to an ecstatic crowd at Wembley Stadium, clad, naturally, in Gucci.) “The encounter immediately generated a relationship of exchange, of continuous creative contamination, and the drive to explore,” Gucci said.

The name of the collection nods to Harry and Alessandro’s first initials, but also to the way they’ve traditionally signed off their messages to one another over the years. “HA HA HA is the serial crasis of the initials of ‘Harry’ and ‘Alessandro’, but it is also the onomatopoeic sound of the written essence of an emoji, the ‘laughing face’,” said Gucci.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

The Mathematics Of Beauty And The Golden Ratio

Beauty In The “PHI” of the Beholder

Is beauty just in the eye of the beholder or is there a method behind it? Actors, actresses and models exhibit features that many people like. When someone mentions that a dog looks adorable or a baby looks cute, these are taken as compliments. Natural beauty it seems, is not a random thing. Observed in nature, it seems to show a repeated pattern that has symmetry but not quite a simple explanation. In humans and animals, it appears to be a genetic code that is passed on from generations through DNA. It appears that there is something at work here that cannot be created at will, but only by nature.

Observing beauty in objects and people, early mathematicians detected what seemed to be a pattern. This is what is called the “Golden Ratio” symbolized by the Greek letter Φ which has a constant value of Phi=1.618. Leonardo da Vinci used the ratio to define a symmetry in structures, including the human body in which it is aesthetically pleasing to the human eye. In Da Vinci’s study it is the proportion of the measurements of a person’s body parts in relation to another body part. So let’s say you compare the measurements of the two body parts, like the nose denoted by a to the lips denoted by b. Then the ratio is computed as:(a + b)/a = a/b
= 1.6180339887498948420 ...
= Φ (phi)

To further explain this relation, the number (ratio) is found by dividing the object into 2 parts. It must be divided so that the longer part divided by the smaller part is also equal to the whole length divided by the longer part.

Fibonacci Numbers

What interests me here is something called the Fibonacci number sequences, a very fundamental lesson in mathematics. It is related to the golden ratio in a way that the ratio of any two Fibonacci numbers is close. The first two numbers in the Fibonacci sequence are either 1 and 1, or 0 and 1, depending on the chosen starting point of the sequence, and each subsequent number is the sum of the previous two. The sequence is 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34 …. where F is:

As the numbers in the sequence get higher or larger, they get even closer to 1.618 in terms of decimal precision. A lot of the ratio results in 1.6xxxxx, so there is a close relationship here. Using the formula b/a here are some examples.Let's start with the following Fibonacci numbers a=5 and b=8.Take the ratio: 8/5 = 1.6Next, take the Fibonacci numbers a=21 and b=34.Take the ratio: 34/21 = 1.61904762Now take these two Fibonacci numbers a=144 and b=233. Take the ratio: 233/144 = 1.618055556

Another way to look at Fibonacci numbers is through visualization. A fine example of that is what is called the Fibonacci Spiral.

This illustration shows the sequence of Fibonacci numbers as it spirals from bottom of the box. It follows the numbers 1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34 …. The formula (a + b)/a = a/b can be used for this particular spiral example.

Photography and Retouching

It seems to follow a pattern in the most beautiful and attractive people. There is a template called the Marquardt Beauty Mask, which was created by Dr. Stephen Marquardt. This is just a template that describes the idealized form of the human face. In no way is this a standard for beauty, so don’t get me wrong on that explanation. It is a geometric mask that is based on proportions that are calculated using the golden ratio. The template can be superimposed on top of an existing photograph of a face to show how well it fits those dimensions.

I have tried to fit the mask on some photos I have taken to see if there is a perfect match. Some of them do not appear to come close. In others, it appears to be a close fit. This reinforces the notion that beauty is computational, based on instructions coded in a person’s DNA. However, let us not accept this as the scientific evidence just yet. The construct of beauty in human beings is rather complicated because of the diversity in culture and the human gene pool. People come in different shapes, sizes and forms. Therefore, beauty itself cannot be just based on proportions but also on the perspective of people.

In the photograph’s face, you can come to close proximity to the values of the golden ratio. In my example the model had a lip measure of 2"(b) and nose width of 1.23"(a). The ratio is 1.6260162601…. The mask fit is not perfect but the concept states the closer the fit the closer to the ideal proportions of the golden ratio.

When applying concepts of the golden ratio to photography, there is actually one common technique that many are quite familiar with. It is called the Rule of Thirds. This basically places an image in such a way as to not be too centered on the frame. Instead you are composing your subject as if the image were superimposed with the Fibonacci spiral. A photo shot using the Rule of Thirds shows the symmetry that seems to fit with the Fibonacci spiral. This is more open to interpretation because not all photographers compose an image the same way.

We can use the golden ratio to divide the frame into a longer and shorter part. Then apply the Fibonacci spiral principle. This is of course not visible when composing the image, so it will depend on the photographers framing of the subject when creating the image.

Applying the Rule of Thirds in photography. Rather than centering the wine bottle and glass in the frame, visualize it in a way where there is symmetry with the subject to the frame. Either place the wine bottle at the small square where the spiral begins or place it within the longer length of the frame. This tends to be where the eyes glance when people first glimpse the image. It is a point of interest in your image.

Photo editing software like Photoshop and the ones that come with smartphone cameras allow features to make photographs appear more stunning. In portraits, it can alter the shape of the face and enhance it as well to make the person look better. The software can automatically use a setting that can apply the golden ratio, but for the most part it is the user who can determine the proportions. The liquify tool in Photoshop is an example of this. The user can use this tool to make adjustments until the face or body in the photograph appears in good proportions. This is customizable, so it really depends on the user and is not generated automatically by software.

Art, Architecture and Science

The golden ratio is not just observed in people, but is actually used in architecture and art work as well. It is also observed in flower petals, seashells and sunflower seeds. In the Great Pyramid of Giza, the length of one side of the base is 756 feet with a height of 481 feet. The ratio of the base to the height is roughly 1.5717 (756/481) which is close to the Golden ratio. It is also seen in art like the Mona Lisa painting by Leonardo da Vinci. Euclid even linked 1.618 to the construction of the pentagram.

Remarkably, it has also been observed in DNA sequences as well. For example, a DNA molecule measures 34 angstroms by 21 angstroms at each full cycle of the double helix spiral. If you take the ratio of 34 to 21, the result is 1.61904 which is close to 1.618 in precision to at least two decimal places to the right. It doesn’t seem to be just coincidence when these patterns have been observed to repeat, not just random.

The Eye or The PHI?

In digital image editing today, software use these ratios to morph faces and body parts to look more symmetrically appealing to the eye and printed in glossy magazines for commercial use. The proportions appear close, but not exactly always to the value of the golden ratio. This does not mean everyone with proportions close to this ratio have perfect faces. It is just another way to describe how beauty is not just random, but a symmetrical pattern nature has determined. This is the x factor, that has universal appeal. When it comes to interpretation however, beauty is still in the eye (not the PHI) of the beholder.

Re-Editions Are The New Vintage

There is a "new" vintage and I'm not referring to those who make replicas of old garments from other periods to propose them as if they were brand new. There is also an authentic new vintage, with re-editions of clothes produced by the same fashion houses that created them many years before or that anyway are copies of archive items.

This new proposal of garments, shoes, handbags and more in the exact printing or colors as they were once, with a readjustment of silhouettes and sizes, is called generically vintage, but the more appropriate name is actually "re-edition".

Following flea markets, and vintage stores specializing in various eras, re-edition time has now started. This trend has been in the air for some time now. For years the renowned Parisian store Didier Ludot – a treasure trove for second-hand clothes by labels such as Dior, Chanel, Yves Saint-Laurent, Givenchy, Balenciaga or Pucci – has been producing re-editions of outfits, especially in black, by various designers, creating a book called La Petite Robe Noir that was distributed in many stores worldwide.

Balenciaga, when Nicholas Ghesquière was appointed creative director of the maison started producing a series of re-editions of classic Cristobal Balenciaga staples. And also Prada had started a series of dresses, coats and accessories from past seasons giving the opportunity to get hold of outfits we might have missed.

Ferragamo has successfully re-launched shoes and handbags created by Salvatore Ferragamo for Carmen Miranda and other stars, besides wicker and Plexiglas bags showing their great skills in creating not only shapes, heels and wedges, but also in the use unexpected materials for that time.

Also Pucci re-proposes its original style creating a small collection of garments designed by the Marquis Emilio Pucci in the original colors and prints. Gucci has also proposed true re-editions like the Jackie O bag with bamboo handles, besides re-launching bags with floral prints that featured in her foulards in the 60s.

Cardin, speaking of this trend, has been the first to reproduce clothes from the 60s, that are incredibly trendy now for their colors and cuts. Diane von Furstenberg launched a true vintage collection that features her famous "wrap" dressed paired to bags and foulards. The prints and colors are countless for a dress that made her famous in the 70s, and today is still worn and coveted by young girls that had never seen them before, but also by those who used to buy them at that time, finding them sexy and comfortable.

Therefore, also vintage clothes from top and established brands have evolved. And adjusted to today's sizes look extremely modern and quite different from the collections we see on runways. Vintage has been enjoying for years a well-deserved reputation for those who wish to experiment with their individual style outside classic shopping standards.

Such re-editions are also an opportunity to search through designers' archives and find clothes or accessories seen only in old photographs. They are realized almost always in limited edition which, as for true vintage, guarantees a certain degree of exclusivity. And in our time, when everything is often so repetitive, that's saying a lot.

From Versace To Helmut Lang - The Rise Of Re-Issues

In fashion, the line between creation and curation is becoming increasingly blurred. Nowhere is this more prominent than in the rise of "re-editions" — near-carbon copies of archive pieces from a brand's heyday, re-issued for an audience that may not have been alive when the originals first appeared on the runway. In some ways, it's the sartorial equivalent of a #TBT for a nostalgia-soaked post-internet generation.

Re-issues popped up at a number of prominent brands this season. In New York, designer-in-residence Shayne Oliver presented his take on Helmut Lang. But alongside Oliver's runway outing, editor-in-chief Isabella Burley introduced capsule collections of archive facsimiles, activating and solidifying Helmut Lang's heritage, while tapping into the demand for vintage garments from the eponymous founder's tenure. She made headlines with her designer-in-residence concept (the first of which was Oliver) but the counterbalance to that hyper-ephemeral business structure is Helmut Lang's 'Re-Editions', a seasonal re-issuing of 15 archive pieces, such as the silver Astro-parkas, painted jeans and bullet proof vests — all precise reproductions of the originals.

In Milan, Donatella Versace paid homage to her late brother Gianni at their namesake brand's show, sending down the catwalk lightly refashioned replicas of some of his most iconic designs from the early '90s, worn by uber-supermodels Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford — whose careers were bolstered by lip-synching George Michael's "Freedom! '90" on the Versace catwalk in 1991 — on one of the season's most Instagramed moments. "Times have changed," wrote Tim Blanks in his review of the Versace show, which was followed by news that the brand was reissuing a limited-edition collection of archival print T-shirts, arguably the humblest of garments. "The clothes now moved differently from the clothes then … How will these apogees of early-90s style look to an audience 25 years later? Fan-bloody-tastic."

The following week, in Paris, Kenzo’s creative directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim showed ‘La Collection Memento,’ an archival ode to Kenzo Takada, the brand’s founder who helped ignite a ready-to-wear revolution in early '70s Paris. Leon and Lim plan to present the collection each season as part of the March and October womenswear schedule. (The brand shows its main ready-to-wear collection in January and June, in line with the menswear schedule).

Of course, designers have always plunged into archives in search of inspiration, tweaking elements of a garment in an effort to create something modern. But the rise of entire collections of re-issues is a relatively new concept that comes with strategic benefits.

For one, re-editions are a powerful way of storytelling and can act help a new generation understand the potent essence of the brand in its original incarnation. Secondly, they can also offer direct commercial benefits, drawing on the power of ‘greatest hits’ as a way to create seasonless, replenishable product that is sure to sell. And thirdly, it can liberate creative directors from the shackles of paying homage to old ideas, and assert the ownership of a particular design amid accusations of design plagiarism and appropriation. Together, this combination can serve to deliver a powerful blend of brand storytelling and newness in a world where authenticity increasingly matters, despite that consumers increasingly expect newness at the speed of Instagram.

"Not a lot of people know much about the history of the past, but they do know about images," says Dr Valerie Steele, museum director at the Fashion Institute of Technology, who considers the modern consumer to be "visually literate." "They have a kind of mental rolodex of images from the past… It's divorced from nostalgia about the context, it becomes an image memory."

Re-editions are a powerful way of storytelling and can act help a new generation understand the potent essence of the brand.

Rumour has it that when Helmut Lang left his namesake label in 2005, he donated some key archival pieces to a handful of institutions and put the rest of the 6,000 items through an industrial shredder; others say that the pieces were mostly destroyed in a fire below his studio. Either way, the refuse was turned into 16 sculptures as part of Lang's entrance into the art world. According to Burley, however, there was an archive in New Jersey where many original pieces have been re-acquired, which she relocated to the studio in New York.

“There’s a dialogue between taking ownership of these pieces and being an authority on Helmut Lang, and also making sure there’s a newness and using the heritage to serve as a platform and discussion point for a new generation of creatives,” says Burley. It’s a shift from the traditional narrative of a designer arriving at a house and pillaging and re-inventing archive pieces. “It’s not about designers doing their own take on the Helmut bomber,” Burley concurs. “It’s less directly reinterpreting pieces and more about carrying a spirit and energy.” Re-edition pieces will be released every four or six months, and released just before the biannual fashion shows.


“It makes sense to say, ‘Right, if you're going to copy my old stuff, why don't I copy my old stuff?’ and then attract the audience that likes those things anyway. That way, you're getting the benefit from having had the original idea. I think it's a clever way to subvert the culture of replicating ideas from the past,” says Steele. “So many pieces that we take for granted now and have been reinterpreted by other designers were first done by Helmut and I think it’s important to celebrate that,” agrees Burley.

Whereas once the heritage brands were grand maisons steeped in early 20th century history, today there are brands that are 30 or 40 years old and whose archive is more timeless and modern-looking than pure period pieces. Jeans and sportswear, for example, can be plucked from the '60s or '70s and look just as relevant and desirable today. At Kenzo, which was founded in 1969 and rose in tandem with ready-to-wear houses such as Chloé and Yves Saint Laurent, Leon and Lim set out to re-contextualise the house and its history. "With all the information and noise in fashion, you forget that some of these brands are historical," says Leon. "As a creative director, I don't just want to put my stamp on it; I want to build a legacy where the time we've spent here, we've done it justice."

“For me, it’s less on a nostalgic level and more trying to inform a younger generation,” he stresses. “Today’s kids or Gen Z don’t know who Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera are! We need to let people know the history of the brand and that it’s not just a brand that Carol and I just started six years ago.” With the exception of a few design and material tweaks, almost all of the Memento collection comes from the extensive archive. “We’re not afraid of going into the archive and dedicating and using Kenzo as a platform for someone else’s work,” adds Leon, referring to Kenzo Takada. “It allows us to tell a story that gives relevance to the house.”

[We're] using the heritage to serve as a platform and discussion point for a new generation of creatives.

The strategy can have commercial benefits as well, reassuring consumers that there is a classic product as well as seasonal styles. "It used to be more typical in accessories or small leather goods, but now, more ready-to-wear brands are trying to create key pieces that they can propose every season," Mario Ortelli, a senior luxury goods analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, told BoF last year. "From a business perspective, the more you have of a style, the better your economies of scale and the more experience you have of producing and selling it, so it maximises your working capital. It also increases your profitability by limiting markdowns because you can keep items on sale for longer and they're not specific to the seasons, so you can work with your manufacturers to re-order throughout the year."

It chimes with the feeling from today's youth that trends are outdated and dictatorial. "Generation Z don't like having trends dictated to them and consumers are generally a lot more responsive to the idea of mixing and matching," says trend forecaster Victoria Buchanan. Last year, The Future Laboratory conducted a quantitative study that showed that 65 percent of luxury consumers would be interested in adopting 'seasonless style', which can be identified by lines of core year-round product, seasonless imagery and an emphasis on long-term vision over short-term hype. "Consumers will increasingly want brands to act not on the basis of short-term demand, but on long-term vision, with sustainability at the core of manufacturing," she adds.

It makes sense to say, 'Right, if you're going to copy my old stuff, why don't I copy my old stuff?'

Perhaps the most successful re-editioning has been at Adidas Originals, where the Stan Smith, Superstar and Gazelle sneakers have skyrocketed since their re-launch. The Stan Smith was first seen in 1971 and named after the American tennis played and later unveiled in late 2015. "Adidas hoped to sell 30,000 pairs in the first year, and ended up selling over a million," Leila Fataar, Adidas' former global director of social media and public relations, said at BoF's 'Inside the Industry' event in September. Sales of the shoe jumped dramatically, to 8 million pairs, in 2015, bringing total sales over the past four decades to more than 50 million.

"The best iPhone is the basic one; I think it's the best one because it was perfect when it was first made," Nic Galway, vice president of global design at Adidas Originals, told BoF in June. "It was a great piece of design and therefore you don't need these limited-edition ones." Galway's ethos is central to Adidas Originals, which was created more than a decade ago. The re-editioning sits alongside buzzworthy collaborations with figures such as Kanye West and Pharrell, and together, the two elements represent a synergy between the past and present.

Adidas says sales of its Originals collection, which includes the Stan Smith and another top-selling throwback model called the Superstar, popularised by Run-DMC in the '80s, increased by 80 percent in the US last year, which sold more than three times faster than the traditionally blockbuster footwear for team sports, such as basketball and football.

Perhaps one of the most obvious reasons for the success of re-editioning is that a younger generation will not be familiar with the originals. Just as a 20-year-old may not remember Helmut Lang or Kenzo Takada, the Stan Smith has a whole new meaning to them. “There’s a whole generation today whose memories will be around the 2000s,” said Galway. “If you speak to Stan, he will say: ‘I used to be Stan Smith the tennis player and now I’m a shoe.’”

Dior Cruise Show 2023

If you’ll indulge me, let’s talk about a radical idea: female dancers wearing pants. Pants! What an idea! A woman in men’s clothing? It’s downright shocking! Well, not exactly in 2022, but it was in the Spanish flamenco community in the fifties, and that’s precisely where creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri found her inspiration for the Dior Cruise 2023 show, which took place at the Plaza de España in Seville.

In a press release, the designer notes that the dancer Carmen Amaya was “an artist with singular, revolutionary movements” and “was the first dancer in her field to dress in men’s clothing, combining power and fragility through her art.” And the ghost of this iconic figure beautifully haunted almost every aspect of the show. The Dior Cruise 2023 show literally started with a flamenco dance-off between a black-clad man and woman, the latter eerily resembling Amaya. Although they continued to perform throughout the event — with a background of 40+ interpretive dancers — it was impossible to look away from the fashion.

Is it Dior? Is Dior the drama? It was like watching the most decadent of Spanish soap operas, with a new, more theatrical character coming around every corner: The Romantic Ingenue, innocently sexy in a red off-the-shoulder ruffled gown, probably in a love triangle; The Feisty Rule Breaker, daring to wear a graphic embroidered jacket and pants while secretly scheming to take charge of the family business; The Flirty Widow, dressed in all black lace, and showing maybe too much skin for a funeral. The list goes on.

Ultimately, the strongest looks were those that most resembled Chiuri’s source of inspiration and honoured the many Spanish artisans she employed to bring authenticity to the collection. There was bold colour. There was rich fabric. There were intricate details. And there were many different depictions of femininity (did we forget to mention the Equestrian Cousin secretly having an affair?) Whether you want to wear the damn pants or not, the Dior Cruise 2023 show is here for it, so long as you bring the necessary level of drama.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Gareth Pugh’s This Bright Land Festival Should Be On Your Radar This Summer

Gareth Pugh is a showman. For many years as a designer, he captivated the world with his extravagant seasonal presentations, which celebrated his avant-garde approach to fashion. Now, with his husband Carson McColl – a writer, artist and activist with whom Gareth founded the independent creative studio Hard + Shiny – he embarks upon a spectacular new project that’s bigger and more ambitious than anything he’s done before. “It’s a beast,” Gareth tells British Vogue.

Introducing This Bright Land, an annual summer festival taking place from 1 to 29 August at Somerset House. “We want to bring lots of people together and create a space for conversation, because we get the sense that [during the pandemic] there were all these different issues that people were dealing with across the country, but no one was talking with each other,” says Carson.

With 29 days to play with, they tapped into their respective networks to help build the programme. Kartel Brown, a prominent member of the Voguing scene, Kayza Rose, founder of BLM Fest, and Jo Cunningham-Alloway and June Lam, representatives of We Exist, helped kickstart the planning.

The line-up is mega, to say the least. “I hope that each time [people] come, there’s going to be something different,” shares Pugh. Without giving too much away, there’s a Clubhouse designed by Automated Architecture where workshops will be held, summer skating, a sensory Wonder Garden hosted by Jo Malone, live music, treasure hunts, Sunday street parties, and a world food market with culinary delights from Black Eats LDN and cocktails by Bombay Sapphire. For downtime, there are spaces dedicated to wellness and self-care. The pièce de résistance? A 35-metre observation wheel offering views across the city.

The weekends are where it’s at. Expect Friday takeovers from Daytimers, Nine Nights, ESEA Sisters and Movimientos, and Saturday open-air Vogue Balls hosted in collaboration with Vogue Rites – the finale of which aims to be the largest open-air Vogue Ball in UK history on 27 August. “We essentially want to make it feel very open to everybody,” says Gareth, who name checks his partners MAC Cosmetics, Jo Malone, Estée Lauder, Forest Essentials, Clinique, Bobbi Brown, Dr.Jart+, Aveda and Origins for helping to make it happen.

The end goal? “What we want people to take away from it is a sense of hope,” notes Carson, who sees This Bright Land as a “celebration of our resilience.” Gareth couldn’t agree more: “I think it’s something we all need right now.”

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

How Manga And Anime Influence Fashion

In Japanese street fashion, incorporating your favorite anime characters into your outfit is common place. Whether it be official merchandise or just an artistic rendition, anime and manga are a popular way for Japanese youth to spice up their style.

One of the more extreme instances comes from the substyle Decora, in which an abundance of colors and accessories create a stimulating layer of flare that completely coats the wearer. And some design their outfits to entirely revolve around their favorite characters. Two of Harujuku’s most well-known Decoras that go by Mepura and Creamy Sauce are a prime example of how fashion can used to declare.
 your passion for anime.

While anime’s influence on fashion might be overly apparent on the streets of Tokyo, what about the rest of the world? Anime has been prevalent in more places than just street style as more and more brands have picked on the anime trend both in and outside of Japan. Anime is used to inspire and advertise fashion around the world. Here are just a few examples:

Louis Vuitton and Takashi Murakami

In 2002, Japanese artist Takashi Murakami collaborated with Louis Vuitton to re-envision their signature handbags. The result is the rainbow design against white leather that you’ve probably seen carried on the street sometime in the past decade. A limited addition line of handbags more closely suited to Murakami’s style were also released.


In addition the new products were promoted with animated shorts, one of which features an anime version of Louis Vuitton himself as a young boy.

Takashi Murakami is one of Japan’s most influential contemporary artists and has referenced anime and manga as one of his main inspirations. That inspiration breathed a new life into one of fashion’s oldest brands.

Gucci and Hirohiko Araki

Gucci collaborated with Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure creator, Hirohiko Araki to promote there 2013 Spring Cruise Collection. The result was a manga spread in Japanese Fashion Magazine Spur featuring characters wearing the collection. Complete with manga themed store decor, this promotional campaign had international press and manga fans buzzing.

Anna Sui and 7 Manga

So anime and manga have been used as inspiration and advertising for fashion but what about influencing the design of the product itself? In 2015 American designer Anna Sui created a series of shirts and accessories that payed homage to 7 different Manga series: Those Obnoxious Aliens, Rose of Versailles, Unico, Princess Jellyfish, Paradise Kiss, Patalliro!, and Princess Knight.

So enough about high fashion bags and brands that break the bank. Fashion is more than runways and $100 t-shirts. For the average consumer anime is infiltrating your closet in less flashy ways. For Japanese consumers a full wardrobe is available from anime franchises like Neon Genesis Evangelion or Sailor Moon (even down to your underwear). However, even the international market is hopping onto the anime trend. 

H&M released two sweaters that pay tribute to otaku culture in its North American stores in 2015, one featuring an anime girl and the other the phrase “Kawaii Cutie”. H&M is one of biggest clothing companies in the world and represents main stream fashion. All the while smaller brands like Hot Topic and Urban Outfitters have already been selling anime apparel for years.

It seems that anime and manga have transcended the nerd niche and found a new home in American shopping malls and designer boutiques, not just in the streets of Harujyuku. Anime and manga are gaining influence in all levels of the fashion world and that influence is only going to keep growing.

The Unexpected Connection Between Manga Culture And High Fashion

The Japanese art of storytelling, manga, is known for its distinctive style and widespread popularity. Originating during the 12th century, the early form of comics presented itself as detailed scrolls with vivid visuals and provocative text. The title "manga" became linked to the artistic practice in 1798, during the historic Edo period. By the 1920s, the scrolls evolved into something that closely resembled conventional comic strips and were quickly circulated throughout the public via serialization in newspapers and magazines. Manga generally draws on the themes of satire, romance, and science fiction.

Since its inception, the genre and its video counterpart, anime, has grown to establish a lucrative industry and an international imprint. Well-liked series such as Sailor Moon and Doraemon, in addition to the kawaii character Hello Kitty, have been born out of an explosion of interest in manga all over the world. Moreover, the influence of manga is so powerful, that in recent years the pervasive comics have transcended glossy magazine pages and found their way onto major fashion runways.

But before the biggest designers were turning to manga and anime, the Japanese cartoon world was looking at the Paris runways for inspiration. Sailor Moon creator Naoko Takeuchi often fashioned her heroines’ clothes from designer looks from Chanel, Dior, Thierry Mugler, and more. Whereas manga’s influence on fashion is often interpreted as cute or novel, Takeuchi showed how designer fashion co-opted into her magical universe was empowering. In the anime, fashion often underlines the soldier sailor schoolgirls’ powers. When they transform into superheroines, it shows the sequence of their metamorphosis into the mini-skirted, bow-adorned femme fighters.

Today, sought-after manga series have blossomed into brands within themselves. Merchandise with popular characters and themed home goods are just a few things that have precipitated out the collective adoration of the various shows and series. However, the manga obsession does not stop there. Major labels such a Louis Vuitton, Moschino, and Prada have all embraced manga on the runway with statement pieces inspired by the signature comic style and direct allusions to viral characters. Recently, Gucci released a Doraemon X Gucci capsule collection for Chinese New Year, placing the manga cat-robot on bags, tees, and more. The artistry of manga, which is indicative of centuries filled with creativity fused with Japanese tradition, is similarly as detail-oriented and beautiful as clothing design. The intersection of the two feels natural yet nuanced as it mixes exclusive luxury with accessible art.

In Louis Vuitton's Spring/Summer 2021 menswear show, creative director Virgil Abloh sought out Reggieknow, an America-based anime artist, to create illustrations to accompany this collection. The manga-inspired motif hit the runway in the form of oversized inflated statues of Reggieknow's characters and clothing adorned with stuffed figures.

Anime styles and allusions are especially prevalent in streetwear. Accessible brands like Uniqlo and Adidas have put out highly successful collaborations with Manga series such as Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z. Moreover, high-end brands, closely linked to hype beast culture, like Supreme and Bape have also engaged in similar collaborations.

Altogether, the fusion of manga culture and popular fashion amalgamates vivid visuals and unparalleled artistry in a way that reminiscent of the playful nature of anime and the importance of clothing design. Many designers have recognized the fine line between the two art forms and have consequently created many memorable runway moments.

Gadgets, Groceries And… Designer Gowns: Your Amazon Basket Is About To Look Very Different

Given that almost nine in every 10 people in Britain shop at Amazon, chances are you’ve stocked up on books at short notice before a summer getaway, ordered the ubiquitous Alexa, or filled your fridge from Amazon Fresh. But clothes? The limited, somewhat confused selection of items (think: functional walking sandals and liberally embellished belts) that previously made up its fashion offering suggests not. From today, that could all change.

The online giant has today announced the expansion of its Luxury Stores shopping experience – which has been available to customers in the US since September 2020 – to Europe. Now customers in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain will be able to shop ready-to-wear collections from brands like Christopher Kane, Dundas, Elie Saab and Altuzarra via Amazon. The new addition to the e-tailer’s European offering has launched with a splashy campaign shot by Angelo Pennetta, featuring rising model Precious Lee and ’90s super Kristen McMenamy, and according to Ruth Diaz, VP of Amazon Fashion Europe, the roster of brands confirmed thus far is just the beginning.

“Having world class luxury designers, such as Christopher Kane and Elie Saab, trust us with their brands and their creations is such great news for Amazon and for our customers,” says Diaz, who adds that more labels – both established and emerging – will be joining Luxury Stores at Amazon in the seasons to come.

Collections are sold directly from the brands and designers, and decisions around inventory, selection and pricing are left up to the brand, says Amazon. Its tools and technology also allow brands to create personalised content, in order to bring their unique voice and identity to their Amazon presence. “Brands within Luxury Stores at Amazon are able to speak authentically about their collections to our customers, empowering customers to define luxury for themselves,” is how Xavier Flamand, VP of Amazon seller services, puts it. Shoppers will also be able to browse Mira Mikati, Rianna+Nina, Boglioli, Jonathan Cohen on Luxury Stores.

There has been much talk of the shift towards a “hyperphysical” approach to entice consumers back to retail (examples include Jacquemus’s playful bathroom-inspired pop-up at Selfridges, or the touchable pink faux fur backdrop Balenciaga created to display its Le Cagole in London). But Amazon is banking on the speed and convenience of its service which, when added to the line-up of established fashion brands, will prove to be an irresistible combination.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Kate Moss’s Jubilee Union Jack Blazer Is A Rare Piece Of Fashion History

Today in London, the stars have come out to celebrate the final day of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend with a carnival-like pageant through the streets of London all the way up to Buckingham Palace. But even among the illustrious line-up of celebrities attending the spectacle all dressed up, one fashion icon stood head and shoulders above the rest: Kate Moss.

Attending the event with her friend Charlotte Tilbury, who hosted a party at Claridge’s before the concert kicked off, Moss wore a silk bias-cut slip dress in black and a pair of red Vivienne Westwood stilettos, before adding layers of her signature boho-inflected necklaces. But the star piece was the Union Jack blazer Moss wore to top it off – and if the piece looked at all familiar, that might be because it isn’t the first time Moss has worn it.

Indeed, the jacket is a rare piece of fashion history, originally worn by Moss herself on the Paris runway for John Galliano’s spring 1993 collection, which paid tribute to British fashion history and naval prowess with its bustiers, bustles, military jackets and bold hairstyles that recalled tricorn hats. Galliano at the time was famous for recompensing his models with clothing from his own collections, which might explain how the piece (or a similar version) made its way into Moss’s treasure trove of a wardrobe.

Moss is far from the only one to re-wear a favourite piece hanging in her wardrobe this weekend. The Duchess of Cambridge paid a visit to Cardiff Castle in Wales on Saturday wearing a red wool-crepe Eponine dress that she previously wore last year, while her playful white Self-Portrait skirt suit for the Party at the Palace yesterday was also a piece she pulled from the back of her closet.

Still, there are few fashion stars who know how to pull off an archival moment quite like Kate Moss. With her brilliant nod to fashion history (and indeed, her own history as a model) yesterday, Moss staked her claim as a style icon all over again.