Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Felix Mas Fine Art

Felix Mas has enjoyed a vibrant success across the international art world. Born in 1935, in the Catalan capital of Barcelona, he began his initial studies within the fine art world at the city’s famed college of fine arts, Sant Jordi. After a period of military at La Vall d'Aran, Mas returned in 1957 to apply his talents at the Spanish art agency, Seleciones Illustrada. It was here that he engaged in commissions for a variety of projects such as romance comics Valentine and Fleetway. He continued working within this genre to draw for detective story Lt. Kane for T.V. Heroes. During the mid-60’s, he worked in Northern Europe and Scandinavia as an illustrator, before returning to comics and working with D.C. Thomson's Romeo in 1969.


Mas was contracted by Warren Publishing from 1972-75 and during his tenure, he produced around 17 horror stories for cult magazines Creepy and Vampirella. The Vampiress Stalks the Castle at Night from Vampirella #21 was incorporated within the list of top 25 Warren stories in the book, The Warren Companion by David Roach. After commercial success, Mas left Warren, where he stopped producing comic work and moved to Venezuela with his family. It was here he chose to focus on painting and a lifestyle which would take him to the cosmopolitan climes of Florida, a whole new client base and an increased passion and control of colour.

‘Felix Mas has always possessed a passion for art since his childhood and developed his fine art and illustration skills as he matured into adulthood. An attendee of the Reial Acadèmia Catalana de Belles Arts de Sant Jordi, he received a great deal of traditional training which is reflected across his works. Mas has also travelled extensively across Europe and the United States which he says has enriched his perspective and skills.’ - Charles Daniel McDonald

Felix Mas is an internationally recognised fine artist and famed for his artistic portrayals of “sensual elegance.” The majority of his works are dedicated to the female form as the subject matter, in a style which has been hailed as intoxicating and alluring. His works take inspiration from a multitude of travels and cultures, with influences from the historical grace of ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece, through to the fashions of India and the richness of Japanese woodblock prints.


The method in which Felix Mas selects colours for his artwork is quite unique, with many of them being personally created using natural pigments. His vibrant and controlled use of colour within his paintings act as expression of the emotion of his work, notions which are evident upon a multitude of mesmerising glances that are derived from the complete beauty and breath-taking intricacy of his work. Whether it is a woman adorned with iridescent gossamer butterfly wings or one clad within an imposing magenta kimono, Mas truly knows how to capture the grace and femininity of his subjects with a depth and passion that is unparalleled within his genre.

‘Mas’s inspiration comes from the diverse array of beautiful women he has encountered throughout his travels. His works are particularly influenced by ancient Rome and Greece, as well as his travels to Asia, Egypt, and India. Each of his subjects are painted using a precise elegance which is enhanced by a vibrant backdrop, carefully thought out to add a narrative and individualised flare to the central figure.’ - Charles Daniel McDonald

The talent of Felix Mas can immortalise a woman's soul and beauty on canvas in a way that very few artists can translate with such complexity. His work is subjective and left intentionally up to the viewer's own thoughts and translations. Mas currently lives between La Sénia and Barcelona, where he still indulges his passions on a daily basis, both on canvas and on his digital platforms.


You can discover more about the works of Felix Mas through his latest feature interviews for World Radio France and on his official website and social media channels.

Louis Vuitton Takes Over Tokyo For Yayoi Kusama Collaboration Launch

Louis Vuitton will launch its second collaboration with Yayoi Kusama on Tuesday with a takeover in Tokyo featuring a mix of physical installations and augmented reality activations.

The French luxury brand unveiled its first tie-up with Kusama in 2012 as part of its longstanding tradition of working with artists and designers, which the company traces back to Gaston-Louis Vuitton, the grandson of the house’s founder.

In the spirit of Kusama’s immersive happenings, the company will tease its second collection with the 93-year-old Japanese artist, set to hit stores in January, with a citywide event that will include landmarks such as the Tokyo Tower, Zojoji Temple and Tokyo station.

An anamorphic billboard in the buzzy Shinjuku district will take onlookers inside a Louis Vuitton trunk decorated with Kusama’s signature polka dots, via an avatar of the artist. At Shiba Park, strollers will be able to see chrome sphere sculptures and a hot air balloon in the shape of a pumpkin.

Tokyo Tower, an Eiffel Tower-inspired communications tower, will be transformed into a colorful holiday tree and the Tokyo station installation will include a fish-shaped food truck.

In each location, AR filters will unlock lively animations, while selfie features will allow participants to blend in among imaginary characters or dots, or to try on virtually items such as Louis Vuitton x Yayoi Kusama sunglasses.

Some pieces from the collection, including handbags decorated with hand-painted dots or metallic spheres, debuted as part of creative director Nicolas Ghesquière’s women’s resort 2023 fashion show in May at the Salk Institute in San Diego.

Vuitton will offer a further glimpse of the collection during Art Basel Miami from Thursday to Saturday, where the brand will host a booth dedicated to its artistic collaborations, in line with its presentation at the Paris+ by Art Basel show in Paris last month. Its new partnership with the art fair is surfing on the euphoria of post-pandemic social gatherings and trade events.

“When you’re given that opportunity to have that type of discourse and engagement with this crowd, who is still very, very hungry coming out of the pandemic, you want to contribute to that,” Michael Burke, chairman and chief executive officer of Louis Vuitton, told WWD.

“I think before the pandemic, we were so serious in everything we did, and then having been gone for over two years, when you come back, everybody’s a little bit giddy,” he said.

Could Alessandro Michele Go To Chanel?

Sylvia Mantella has mixed feelings about creative director Alessandro Michele leaving Gucci. “I had heard rumours within the fashion industry about the possibility of him leaving,” shares the prominent Gucci collector via email. “It was just hard to believe a move of this magnitude would actually come to fruition.” And, of course, we know what happens next.

On November 23, Kering — the Italian house’s parent company — announced that Michele would be leaving, effective immediately. While rumours were swirling the morning of the announcement, like Mantella, no one was quite prepared for them to be true. Luckily, the vice-president of marketing, sponsorship and philanthropy at Mantella Corporation made the most of his tenure.

As detailed in FASHION’s Winter 2023 issue, Mantella has amassed an unimaginable amount of Gucci products, making her the foremost collector in Canada. While the Italian name was always on her radar, she didn’t become a gigantic Gucci fan until 2015, when Alessandro Michele took over as creative director. “When he first came into the brand, I think we were all left a little bit speechless because he completely restructured everything we had known Gucci to look like,” she explains. “But it was beautiful, and he took huge risks.”

Thinking of herself as part collector and part curator of her own mini Gucci museum, Mantella reveals that almost from the very beginning, she knew Michele would “leave behind an enormous legacy, very much on the level Tom Ford did when he departed the house in 2004.” And now that she has an opportunity to look at Michele’s work as a whole, she thinks of it as “lovingly adding onto the existing DNA” of the brand.

So what does the future of Gucci look like? Mantella believes the brand’s aesthetic will drastically pivot with the arrival of a new creative director. After all, we’ve had almost a decade of Michele. “I’m sure the wheels are already well in motion within the company,” she muses. As for the former designer, the collector is sure we haven’t seen the last of him yet. “Alessandro’s style is thoughtful, meticulous and intentional, so I think he would make an incredible addition to any house. It would be very interesting to see him at Chanel.”

That would be a true shakeup, indeed. But for now, she will continue revelling in her Gucci reservoir while keeping an eye out for any missing pieces to her collection. “My eyes are always open for Alessandro Michele accessories,” she shares. “From the flower pins to the sunglasses to the shoes, it’s all super fun and collectable!”

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Jimmy Choo’s Sandra Choi On Designing A New Type Of Christmas Tree For Claridge’s Hotel

It’s a Jimmy Choo Christmas. The luxury accessories brand’s creative director Sandra Choi has unveiled her Christmas tree design for London’s Claridge’s hotel in Mayfair.

The brightest and most animated in the hotel’s history, the tree is a minimal geometric shape lit by white lights with a double-knotted neon pink bow.

“The bow as a symbol of bringing things together and this united ceremony is what I wanted to portray,” Choi told WWD on the morning of the tree’s big unveiling.

“The tree itself was a symbol to the core of our brand because what does Jimmy Choo mean? Glamour always comes like a boomerang,” she added. Glamour is a running motif in the brand’s winter 2022 campaign shot at the famous hotel, starring Iris Law, Mica Argaňaraz and Stan Taylor, photographed by Angelo Pennetta.

The tree has been given the name of The Diamond, a nod to the brand’s regalia-like accessories. The designer wanted to translate the allure of Jimmy Choo’s through light in collaboration with set designer Simon Costin who worked on the tree that stands more than five meters tall and took more than 350 hours to construct.

“We chatted and we dissected what it means to use light as a whole idea into the future. It’s about stepping inside the jaw, which I talk about often. Claridge’s is a place of heritage, it’s iconic and for us at Jimmy Choo, we needed to bring that glamour that Claridge’s has,” Choi said.

Simplicity and upcycling were at the forefront of Choi and Costin’s ideation when they met to plan the project.

“We produce a lot of stuff and Christmas is one of those times where you’re overloaded with things to bring the festivities alive, but we wanted to minimize the stuff element and have the ability to upcycle certain parts of the tree. We haven’t got there yet, but it’s something we discussed last night. What do we do with the materials and what do they mean to us?” said Choi, who will be hosting a cocktail party at the hotel on Wednesday evening to celebrate the tree commission.

Christmas for Choi is all about treating others. Her most memorable memory of the holiday is from 2019 when her family took a trip to Lapland in Finland, she said.

“We packed our bags, went to the cold and had a white Christmas. It was incredibly magical because it’s not about stuff, but rather just being together,” said Choi, who will be celebrating Christmas with her sister in Wales this year.

“I have volunteered my sister to treat me,” she said, jokingly.

Choi has already started forward planning for 2023, and hinted at a mentoring program in the works.

“I’m really into seeing what the new generation is looking at. I’ve got teams of people I work with and I always chat to them about what they see and how they feel. I’ve been in this brand for so long, I’ve seen it all, but to actually see it from another lens is very important,” she said.

Choi hinted at another project set for spring 2023 that she describes as a “nostalgic childhood project that is really artful, creative and feminine at the same time.”

Monday, November 28, 2022

Get To Know Canadian Fashion Designer Charles Lu

They say what’s meant to be, will be — and Charles Lu is a testament to that. When his career serendipitously kicked off after an unfortunate snub, Lu proved to the world that regardless of any setback, he’s destined to rise to success. From starring in the inaugural season of Netflix’s Next in Fashion to launching his eponymous label and having a runway show at Fashion Art Toronto’s annual spring showcase earlier this year, there’s no slowing down. Nicknamed “Panda,” Lu has established a signature black, white and grey palette on some of the most distinct silhouettes in the game.

For FASHION’s Winter issue, Lu spoke to us about how he got his start designing clothes, the hurdles faced along the way and the icons he dreams of dressing.

You were born in Hamilton, Ont., but your parents are from Vietnam. How has your background influenced your relationship with fashion?

“My parents came to Canada because of the Vietnam War and literally left everything behind. So I always remind myself to be fearless, and when I say fearless, I mean it’s OK to be scared — you just can’t let that fear paralyze you. But I’ve always been the dreamer of the family, and I took a very non-traditional route. I had to prove to my parents what I was capable of, and I said, ‘If I’m going to go into fashion, I’m going to succeed.’”

Is it true that your first fashion show was at age 12?

“Eleven or 12. When I was a kid, my mom never let me use her sewing machine, and I was like, ‘If you’re not going to let me use it, then I’m going to make clothes out of recycled materials.’ So in Grade 6, I proposed doing a stand-alone fashion show at my school and made dresses out of plastic bags, pop cans, tape and things like that.”

You’ve previously said that the fashion world wasn’t very kind to you when you were in London, England. Can you expand on that?

“During my time in London, I worked for a brand where I designed the collection as a full creative director. But before the show, I was demoted to a ghost designer and they took credit for everything I made. The company even took my sketchbook — the whole thing was crazy! Serendipitously, a couture buyer who attended that show started following my career and years later passed along my name to Netflix for its new reality competition series Next in Fashion.”

With a second season of Netflix’s Next in Fashion on its way, what advice would you give to the new contestants?

“Be willing to adapt, and keep everything honest. Remember that it’s a TV show first and a competition second.”

Where does your love of black and white come from?

“The first black-and-white piece I made was while I was studying at Istituto Marangoni in London. I was 21, and something just clicked that day. I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I really love this.’ Now it’s what I’m known for — also because I only wear black and white in my personal life, which is why my nickname is ‘Panda.’”

What was the inspiration behind your latest collection?

“This collection was all about lines. If you’re creating clean lines, you can’t hide behind anything — they have to be perfect. So, really, it was the ultimate flex of my skill. I also wanted to marry the worlds of couture and streetwear, so I took utilitarian fabrics, like parachute nylon, and made them look more classically beautiful.”

What’s next for Charles Lu?

“I want these looks to be available to the public, so eventually I’d love to set up e-commerce and a physical store with the help of a business partner and financial backer. In the meantime, I’ll probably do a few mini releases. The next collection is almost entirely designed in my head. It would just be a continuation of this one as I love the direction I’m heading in.”

Charles Lu shares three celebrities he would love to see in his latest looks:

Lady Gaga

“Gaga is the queen of avant-garde fashion, and she uses it as performance art. I’d like to see her in this look because it’s severe yet soft and balances feminine and masculine qualities.”

Gwen Stefani

“It’s always been a dream of mine to dress Gwen because I really admire her bold and experimental style. Not many people can wear black and white without having the garment consume them, but she can.”

Megan Thee Stallion

“Confidence is key when you’re wearing my designs, and Megan embodies that to the fullest. I think she could wear an oversized structural puffer and still have all that strength shine through.”

All That Glitters And A Lot Of Gold At New Musée Yves Saint Laurent Exhibition

“One day, my name will be inscribed in gold letters on the Champs-Elysées,” a 15-year-old Yves Saint Laurent once told his family.

With his name writ large in fashion and France, the “Gold: Les Ors d’Yves Saint Laurent” exhibition opening Friday considers the role of this precious metal in the late couturier’s work.

Its concept came to museum director Elsa Janssen, who also serves as curator for this exhibition, when she delved into the institution’s reserves. “I saw gold everywhere. It sparkled — lamé, belts, shoes — it was fabulous,” she recalled.

Six chapters grew from an initial selection of 40 textile creations, retracing 40 years of fashion but also a four-decade-long slice of life in the 20th century.

Opening the exhibition are three jackets with gilded buttons that nod to the wool peacoat that opened his 1962 haute couture show. Decorative gold buttons were a symbol of Saint Laurent’s desire to “illuminate his woman” despite his distaste for daytime jewelry, explained the curator.

Next to them on the wall are another trio, this time gilded sculptures by Belgian sculptor Johan Creten. At a preview, the artist explained that these pieces, from a series titled “Zwam” and subtitled “Glories,” connected to the idea of creation, of the divine but also to the seductive and dangerous duality behind the glitz and glamour of recognition.

“Those are two elements that touch always and were always [present] in his work and life,” said the artist, who also liked the idea of materializing Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé’s lifelong collecting of art of all epochs by participating.

Beyond their oval shape and texture that unintentionally nods to buttons, they symbolize Jansson’s desire to go beyond thematic readings of Saint Laurent’s creations and show the late couturier as “the most ‘artist’ of all couturiers,” one with a “magical power” that saw him “transform everything he touched into gold.”

Throughout the exhibition, if outfits opulent in texture and decoration exemplify the couturier’s desire to empower women with bared legs, power suits or the trappings of masculine nobility, it is that idea of a Midas touch that comes across the strongest.

Glittering from every surface are the “golden scissors” award he received, body casts created in collaboration with sculptor Claude Lalanne in 1969, the “Champagne” perfume that was later renamed to “Yvresse” after lawsuits by France’s Champagne producers and even hair turned into spun gold – a braided headdress figuring a Rapunzel-like cascade of blond tresses, as worn by the bride of the Saint Laurent fall 1967 collection.

“He was obsessed by blond hair, its purity,” a proclivity that continued in the tresses of lifelong muses Catherine Deneuve and Betty Catroux, Janssen mused.

Upstairs, the section is dedicated to glittering nightlife that was at once a source of inspiration and escape for the couturier, especially in a mirrored room recreating the 1978 opening night of the Palace club where the dress code was “tuxedo, evening gown or anything that suits the occasion.”

Mingling among the Rive Gauche and haute couture silhouettes is a deceptively simple black tux figuring Saint Laurent himself, whose voice can be heard on the soundtrack, blended with music of era.

On the wall is a pell-mell of party snapshots that embody the playful, joyful side of the man behind the couture house, surrounded by the likes of Catroux, Loulou de la Falaise, Grace Jones, Andy Warhol, Paloma Picasso or Mick Jagger, sporting a curly blonde wig for a soirée around gender-swapping.

It reinforced the idea that beyond an exacting and terrific fashion figure, Saint Laurent was “solar, an epicurean with a deep notion of joy, like a festive bubble,” as Janssen put it.

Back on the ground floor, to embody the jewelry that sprang from his lasting collaboration with Loulou de la Falaise on costume jewelry, Janssen called upon editor of art objects Anna Klossowski, also her daughter and his goddaughter, for the “Light Me Up!” installation that displays accessories in a chronological and chromatical retelling of decades of their collaboration.

Taking pride of place is the 1966 gold evening dress that features in the David Bailey shot serving as the exhibition’s signature. “You can see how Egypt and the pharaohs were a center of curiosity for him, as did the reliquaries of churches as well as the then-newly released [Joseph L.] Mankiewicz’s ‘Cleopatra’ featuring Elizabeth Taylor, everything that came together in his head through this dress embellished with semi-precious stones,” said Janssen.

The last showcases offered embroideries through samples and silhouettes livened up by specialist ateliers Hurel, Vermont, Pierre Mesrine and Lesage, as well as his knack for stage costumes and surrealist declarations — from Jean Cocteau’s words to the self-fulfilling prophecy made by his 15-year-old self.

Janssen hoped visitors will emerge “warmed by the sunshine [Saint Laurent] brings” through the “joy, splendor, emotion as well as the force of his creative genius” who became an icon.

Your Crocs Are Now King Charles-Approved

In the otherworldly annals of royal sartorial protocol, perhaps the most infamous tale regarding what is appropriate is the Duchess of Sussex’s claim that she was reduced to tears during a disagreement with the now Princess of Wales over whether flower girls should wear tights for her 2018 royal wedding.

Now we have a new headline. It’s hard to imagine that many colourful Crocs have trod the halls of Buckingham Palace, but for this week’s Order of Merit luncheon – hosted for the first time by King Charles – the once maligned slip-on shoe now beloved by A-listers including Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Kendall Jenner and FKA Twigs – made a surprise appearance.

When getting dressed for the formal lunch, the 85-year-old artist David Hockney opted for a striking plaid suit and checkerboard tie, worn with Crocs in an uplifting paintbox shade of yellow that evoked his own landscapes. In official photos from the event, his clogs are a splash of colour in a sea of shiny black lace-ups.

A brief history of the rise of the Croc from orthopaedic ugly shoe favoured by chefs and surgeons to acceptable formal wear. Back in 2016, Christopher Kane collaborated with the brand for his spring/summer 2017 collection, and made the practical rubber clog runway ready. The following year Balenciaga unveiled a platform iteration at Paris Fashion Week. Its lustre only increased when the pandemic hit four years later, as its mixture of fashion cachet and comfort chimed perfectly with the national mood.

During the lockdown, Nicholas Braun, aka Cousin Greg on Succession, wore a navy Paul Smith suit and Crocs to Zoom into the Emmys from home, while Questlove has sported them IRL to both the 2021 and 2022 Oscars.

First the runway, then the red carpet, and now – with a little help from Hockney – royal circles. The nifty gardening clog met with the approval of the famously green-fingered King Charles, who exclaimed: “Your yellow galoshes! Beautifully chosen”, when he caught sight of the artist’s unconventional footwear. Perhaps when His Majesty is next strolling the grounds of Balmoral or Dumfries House, he’ll swap his trusty Wellingtons for something more striking – and slip-on.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Kingdom Of Dreams Lifts The Lid On The Paris Fashion Industry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alessandro Michele Is Exiting Gucci, Sources Say

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But then the company faced some major problems.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Balmain Resort 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

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

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

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

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

Here Are The Eight Finalists For The 2023 International Woolmark Prize

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Peek Inside Sylvia Mantella’s Gucci-Filled Closet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raf Simons Shutters Namesake Label

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Simons and Prada have also enjoyed a long friendship.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 21, 2022


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Pirelli Calendar 2023 Unveiled

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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