Thursday, December 14, 2023

Librairie 7L

If the walls within Karl Lagerfeld's photographic haven on Rue de Lille in Paris could parle, their multilingual dialogue might yield enough captivating tales to fill numerous tomes, adding to the 33,000 volumes that already grace the perimeter, floor to rafters. Situated discreetly behind the cherished 7L bookstore, this was where the late German maestro passionately toiled into the late hours, several times each week. It was the birthplace of countless Chanel campaigns and press kits, and the backdrop for a renowned coffee-table book featuring portraits of global luminaries adorned in iconic little black jackets.

When not immersed behind the lens capturing editorials or experimenting artistically with Polaroid transfers, daguerreotypes, platinotypes, resinotypes, or digital prints, Lagerfeld would swiftly transition to an adjacent meeting space. There, he would engage in media interviews or collaborate with architects, filmmakers, playwrights, authors, publishers, musicians, and actors. The poignant silence that followed Lagerfeld's passing in February 2019 draped this iconic space. However, 7L is now experiencing a renaissance in a manner the designer would have wholeheartedly embraced. The venue is now pulsating with cultural events, dance performances, musical showcases, exhibitions, book signings, readings, lectures, bespoke services, and chic merchandise.

Emphasising that 7L is not a mere museum, Laurence Delamare, the recently appointed director since Chanel's acquisition in 2021, envisions the space as a hub for contemporary artists. "To continue a project that Karl created is an honor; it's exceptional and such an exhilarating mission," she enthuses. Over the past two years, Delamare and her team, coincidentally numbering seven, have been working behind the scenes on various fronts. They've crafted a rich cultural program, now available through subscription, initiated an Instagram presence, overhauled 7L's website and recommenced online sales, and revived 7L's role as a publisher.

¨In the vibrant rebirth of 7L, Karl Lagerfeld's creative legacy is honoured by the transformation of his iconic photo studio into a now dynamic space for contemporary artists. It's not just a cultural revival; it's a living testament to Lagerfeld's eclectic spirit and an invitation for artists, authors, and book lovers to unite in this avant-garde journey of inspiration and exceptional creativity.¨ - Charles Daniel McDonald

Guided by Lagerfeld's vision, who founded 7L in 1999, the venue specialises in displaying photo books like artworks, paying homage to its former life as an art gallery. Delamare, in her first interview, stresses her commitment to restoring creativity to this space. "It won't be a fashion photo studio anymore, but a place for contemporary artists," she declares. Lagerfeld's vast collection of 33,000 books, covering photography, visual arts, literature, music, and dance, dictates the thematic framework for 7L's activities. Even live performances draw inspiration directly from the library's eclectic selection.

Delamare, who spent 15 years at Lagerfeld's side as Chanel's global head of fashion public relations, acknowledges the challenge of upholding Lagerfeld's high creative standards. She affirms that all of 7L's cultural events must be live and exceptional, a sentiment mirrored in the commissioned press release penned by poet Claire Marin. Running 7L as a business, not philanthropy, Delamare has developed plans for the bookstore, publishing house, and cultural space. Revamping the website, restarting e-commerce, and introducing bespoke library services for clients' homes are part of the strategic initiatives. The curated book selection, reflecting Lagerfeld's taste, remains a cornerstone of 7L's appeal.

In addition to regular book signings, 7L now offers "book boxes" for holiday gifting, featuring a trio of books on a specific subject, stationery items, and a numbered artwork. Merchandise includes tote bags, sketch pads, pencils, and co-branded items like a Smythson slogan notebook with Karl Lagerfeld's maxim: "Books Should Be an Everyday Affair." Upcoming book signings include fashion illustrator Jean-Philippe Delhomme and fashion editor Carine Roitfeld. A Friends of 7L membership, offering admission for two to live events and a monthly Reading Room program, is also available.

With Lagerfeld having published numerous books under the 7L imprint during his lifetime, Delamare plans a different approach for Éditions 7L. Collaborating with various publishers, the imprint's first release was a reedition with Editions Seghers and Villa Noailles. Delamare anticipates the release of half a dozen books in 2024 and 2025. In concluding her vision for 7L, Delamare expresses a desire for the space to remain a source of inspiration for artists, creative minds, authors, and publishing houses—an avant-garde haven that is not nostalgic but vibrantly forward-looking, hosting events with artists of today and tomorrow.

Monday, December 11, 2023

London’s Fashion Talents Are Taking Arts Education Into Their Own Hands

Earlier this year, the education secretary Gillian Keegan called for a ban on mobile phones in schools, in an attempt to improve academic performance. It was at least the third time the Tories had tried to introduce this guidance, aimed at tackling distraction, classroom disruption and cyberbullying. And it will no doubt help, which is why school heads have implemented these kinds of rules for years. Fewer measures, however, have been taken to address underfunding, the challenge of teacher recruitment, and the dearth of SEN support. Perhaps if a child’s screen time was to decrease, it might also fill in the gaps caused by an accretion of immiserating cuts made to welfare and community services, which have contributed to more than a quarter of all UK pupils being categorised as persistent absentees.

All this is to say: it is perhaps more difficult than ever for state-educated children from lower socio-economic backgrounds to realise their talents, and to become curious. “When I was young, I attended youth clubs and it was there I first discovered an interest in the creative world,” says the London designer Saul Nash. “Inspiration can be found in all places, and it’s important to give back.” But Nash is now 29 years old and the past decade has seen England’s youth services cut by more than £660m. “I think sometimes we do not understand how much of an impact even a conversation can have on people, particularly at the start of their careers,” he says. “I think it’s essential to grow and build our community. And I think it’s valuable to share our experiences and perspectives.”

And so Nash – alongside Casablanca’s creative director Charaf Tajer, Fashion East’s Lulu Kennedy, stylist Elgar Johnson, designer Priya Ahluwalia, Mission Statement’s The Flag Twins and musician Hasani Offspring – has spent the past six months coaching a group of 16 to 25 year olds as part of Bisoye Babalola BEM’s Holiday Club. “It’s a testament to the fact that, sometimes, all it takes is a great idea. It’s important to give back in whatever capacity possible. After all, each and every mentor I’ve had has shaped how I view the world,” he says. Established in 2022, the Holiday Club is a free-to-attend summer school designed to provide an on-ramp – specifically for those at risk of social exclusion and crime – into the creative industries, with the scheme culminating in an annual zine.

From photography and set design, to writing and grooming, the publication’s second issue – titled The Origins – was edited entirely by this year’s Holiday Club cohort, featuring in-depth interviews with Nash, Ahluwalia and Tajer. (Which is a level of access that even established journalists struggle to score). “They were incredibly switched on,” says Tajer. “The questions they asked were so relevant, and they used film to shoot! It’s so rare for people to still use film. This culture of design and fashion is elitist, but the barriers are disintegrating. No more gatekeepers!” It should come as little surprise, then, that Babalola BEM managed to connect a number of these kids with real-life freelance gigs – because emotional investment is one thing, but economic change is just as, if not more, important for creatives to thrive. “It’s about access,” says Nat Bury, Holiday Club’s head of arts and culture. “These people have talent, so it’s about putting them in a space for that to be recognised.”

The club’s motto – “for us, by us” – is a guiding principle that has seen the Rubrik Initiative, Samuel Ross’s Black British Artists Grant programme, and The Wall Group’s incubator scheme also come to fruition over recent years. But – given that the proportion of working-class creatives has shrunk by half since the ’70s as a result of widespread defunding – it might also be read as: “If you don’t do it, nobody else will”. “Holiday club was a life-changing experience,” says student Vanda Szijj. “Not only did it boost my confidence, but it also provided me with multiple opportunities that I didn’t know were out there. And it didn’t end after summer school. I was given a mentor who constantly supports me, pushes me out of my comfort zone and keeps me grounded. I’m forever grateful for the opportunity.”

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Moncler x Sacai Is The Collaboration Of The Season

There are fashion collaborations and then there's Moncler x Sacai. The luxury outdoor brand and hybrid style star have joined forces on a tight edit of pieces speaking to our desire for functionality and longevity. Think: layered, multipurpose looks comprising hoods, belts, zips and gilets that offer myriad styling possibilities. Read: cool rather than normcore. It’s quiet luxury with a distinct purpose.

The four concise unisex looks – one in black and the others in off-white and ecru – came about after Moncler chairman and CEO Remo Ruffini enlisted Sacai founder Chitose Abe, who he previously collaborated with in 2010, to help him celebrate the Italian brand’s 70th birthday. But rather than reflect on the past, Abe looked forward, imagining what Moncler might look like in some seven decades’ time. Her answer? A sense of adventure will still be at the heart of the house, but there’s boundary-pushing techniques underscoring every move.

If the first Moncler x Sacai collection honed in on the down jacket – something that Abe had not yet introduced at Sacai and thus a valuable lesson to learn from the master in the field – round two centres on modular looks that fit together like an exquisite puzzle. Jackets, for example, can morph into boilersuits when attached to trousers, capes are suddenly conceived when the sleeves of a puffer are unzipped and a down jacket transforms into a backpack thanks to some nifty internal straps. The small but mighty offering projects a sense that its wearers will be ready for anything, while looking totally unflustered in the process.

While Ruffini has brought a community spirit to a house famed for its snowsuits that transcend the mountain ranges and reach urbanites, Abe’s work stands out among the other names jostling for attention on Moncler’s collaborative line-up (Rick Owens, Pierpaolo Piccioli and Giambattista Valli were also invited to put their stamp on the brand’s Maya 70 jacket for Moncler’s birthday). Abe’s unique pattern-cutting techniques and innovative use of materials are infused with the Japanese phrase kachikan – roughly equating to the importance of one’s personal values – which is not a common occurrence in a fashion industry known for peddling newness. It’s rare for a collaboration to benefit both parties equally, but you get the feeling there is much the two leaders in their respective fields are learning from the union.

Which pieces did team our snap up? Moncler x Sacai has made the decision simple by offering the pieces as full looks only at retail. It’s got to be the polymorphous muted parachute dress, which projects a can-do attitude, for us. Its wearer, for example, looks like she might scale a mountain and then nip into somewhere fabulous for high tea – or, indeed, something stronger if the descent was gusty. The Moncler x Sacai woman has stories to tell and don’t we all want to be her? Moncler x Sacai is available in select Moncler boutiques from 27 November. Discover more Moncler collections at

Friday, December 8, 2023

Chanel Métiers D’Art Manchester 2023-24

Chanel's venture into the urban streets of Manchester, a post-industrial metropolis standing proud 160 miles north of London, sparked a delightful stir. Virginie Viard, the visionary at the helm, unfurled the tapestry of her personal narrative, unveiling the intricacies that drew her to champion the audaciously layered working-class culture of this English town.

In a lyrical revelation, Viard intertwined her familial roots with the rich history of the French luxury house. "I like small towns," she proclaimed, distancing herself from the overwhelming grandeur of London, deeming it too reminiscent of Paris. With a nod to her grandfather and grand-uncle's football management legacy in Lyons, her provincial hometown, and their involvement in fabric production, she wove an intricate connection between her origins and Chanel's haute couture heritage.

The enchanting allure of Manchester, however, transcends familial ties. Viard, delving into the city's vibrant past, drew parallels to Coco Chanel's affinity for English-made tweeds during her liaison with the Duke of Westminster, spent amidst the picturesque Eaton Hall estate near Manchester. Viard's own generational love affair with the gritty arts scene and the music of bands like Joy Division further solidified her connection to this Northern rival to London.

The immersion into Northern culture began with a unique Chanel invitation to a Manchester United vs. Chelsea football match—an emblematic North-South showdown. Guests were adorned with personalized No. 5 (a nod to Chanel No. 5) Man U red football jerseys, fostering a spirited atmosphere that culminated in a victorious Man U with a score of 2-1.

"In the rain-soaked streets of Manchester, Chanel's Métiers d’Art show unfolds, a poetic dance between the timeless elegance of haute couture and the rebellious spirit of a city that champions style even in the face of adversity. Virginie Viard's designs pay homage to familial roots, football legacies, and the vibrant pop culture of the North, creating a tapestry where Chanel meets the proud resilience of Manchester." - Charles Daniel McDonald

As Manchester's renowned rain made a timely appearance, the Métiers d’Art show unfolded against a backdrop of L.S. Lowry's paintings, capturing the resilience of mill workers facing the elements. International guests, armed with umbrellas, occupied pub-style outdoor seats along the charming Thomas Street, Chanel-ified for the night.

Viard's interpretation of the Northern girl exuded a playful homage to working-class pop culture from the '60s to the '80s, featuring side-flicked fringes and defiantly bare legs, a characteristic trait of Manchester's resilient inhabitants. Channeling her penchant for infusing Chanel with a sense of reality and youthfulness, Viard showcased variations of tweed suits, knee-length A-line minis, cycle shorts under coats, Beatle caps, and chain belts. The New Wave club girls took center stage, adorned in black patent leather or baby-doll dresses with double-C safety-pin or vinyl-record jet embroidery.

Métiers d’Art, a tradition initiated by Karl Lagerfeld, spotlighted the craftsmanship of Chanel-owned couture supply houses—Lesage for embroidery, Goossens for jewelry, Le Marie for feather work, and Barrie for Scottish cashmere knits. Viard's playful touch extended to souvenir slogan-sweaters, beanies, and scarves inspired by football terraces and club flyer graphics.

While undeniably Chanel and inherently Parisian, Viard paid homage to the smartness standards of Manchester women. Even in times of financial constraint, the city's women, including factory workers, have consistently embraced the ethos of dressing impeccably to venture out. In myriad ways, the show showcased a profound and proud ode to the city of Manchester.

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Carolina Herrera Opens Boutique On Palm Beach’s Worth Avenue

Carolina Herrera has landed in South Florida. The New York-based house has opened its third freestanding store in Palm Beach, located on the Esplanade complex of stores on Worth Avenue. The brand has two other locations in the U.S. — the flagship store on Madison Avenue in Manhattan and another unit in Dallas.

“Since the company was founded in 1981, Herrera has always had amazing clientele in Palm Beach. But this is our first time having our own store here, and it’s super exciting. For me there were a lot of great options in Palm Beach but Worth Avenue was it, and I just felt that was really important that we were on Worth; there’s something so romantic about strolling down the avenue and the stores,” said Wes Gordon, creative director of Carolina Herrera.

The new outpost consists of a 2,200-square-foot corner location that will offer the brand’s luxury women’s ready-to-wear collection, as well as beauty and accessories including handbags, shoes and jewelry.

The store takes cues from Gordon’s renovated flagship on Madison Avenue, such as pink subtle blush Venetian plaster walls and rounded shapes and curved edges on everything from seating to fixtures and wall transitions, reinforced by bold columns finished in a textured limestone with a bit more grit to give it a beach feeling. The store was designed and developed in partnership with architect Mao Hughes and interior designer David Lucido.

The open-floor format is both subtle and visual, as shoppers entering are greeted by two expansive windows that hug the entrance, adorned with the signature graphic black-and-white limestone hexagonal floor inspired by the Roman apartment of artist Cy Twombly; plaster rope columns that are handmade as display pedestals; the addition of rope trims to pink couches that are located in the center of the store, and little touches, such as the whitewashed woods with rattan detailing to add an element of Florida. Vintage pieces from the main store chandelier and Crespi lamps on the store marble tables enrich the feeling of a younger generation.

“To me, what’s so special about each location are our customers that we have, such amazing women and friends at each location and to me it really feels like a gathering point for a group of friends in the city. And I’m excited to kind of see how this store evolves, and the women who gravitate here and spend their days hanging out in here. And, you know, it’s our latest store, so I always, for me, it’s like the newest iteration of our ideas and concepts,” Gordon added.

Other elements include dramatic archways framing dark brushed bronze hanging rails, the signature Herrera red facade detail with scalloped panels, a makeup and fragrance corner, customized soft seating for the spacious fitting rooms, marble furniture pieces and rug work with twisted rope details as a nod to the proximity to the ocean, which is just steps away from the location.

The Gucci Christmas Tree Is Not A Tree

Gucci has a new take on Christmas trees. This was clear as the Italian luxury house on Monday evening unveiled its own tree, which is only shaped like one, and placed it at the center of Milan’s iconic Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Succeeding Swarovski — which sponsored the Christmas tree for the city since 2013 — the Kering-owned fashion house opted for an installation made up of 78 gift boxes sealed with Gucci’s signature Horsebit buckle.

Coming in white and silver shades and topped with the brand’s logo, the boxes were lit up during a ceremony Monday evening, along with the LED illuminations that cover the domed ceiling of the Milanese landmark spot. Open to the public, the lighting ceremony was hosted by Milan’s Mayor Giuseppe Sala, Gucci president and chief executive officer Jean-François Palus, Italian actress and godmother of the event Margherita Buy as well as Anna Dello Russo, who faced the freezing cold in a black double-breasted blazer jacket, mini shorts and flatform loafers hailing from Sabato de Sarno’s first collection for the brand.

“The place where we’re standing is recognized around the world as a symbol of the beauty of this city. With the Gucci tree with which we’re decorating the Galleria, we want to spread a message of joy and beauty with all of you and the entire city of Milan,” said Palus during the ceremony.

The gift boxes will be a recurring motif for the holidays at the brand, as they also will adorn the Gucci store windows and embellish the interiors of selected units worldwide. Some of the materials that make up the gift boxes will be donated to ForMattArt, a cultural association for social advancement that promotes activities geared toward social solidarity and education.

Gucci’s sponsorship of Milan’s Christmas tree is part of an expansive project aimed at promoting beauty and enhancing semi-peripheral areas of the city. For example, in collaboration with ForMattArt, the brand pledged to light up parts of the Corvetto neighborhood — in Milan’s southern area — and embellish the entrances to three of the main schools in the district, in an initiative unveiled on the occasion of World Children’s Day on Nov. 20. Children were also involved in artistic workshops to create decorations for their schools around the topic of children’s and adolescents’ rights.

In his speech, Palus thanked Sala and the municipality of Milan “for giving us the opportunity to contribute in making Christmas special for the Milanese not only here in Galleria but also in the Corvetto district. May this Christmas be a reason for all of us to understand the importance of giving back to the community.”

“Our beloved Galleria is the expression of the city: when it’s full and buzzy, it means that the city is doing well,” said Sala. “We’ve sometimes received criticism about only big companies finding place here…but we ask them to do something for the city, in addition to promoting their brands….Because at the end of the day we’re privileged in living in this part of the world and in this city but, as per the Milanese spirit, without solidarity and attention to the others we don’t live well, it’s unacceptable for us. So every occasion of festivity…must be also an opportunity to think about the others,” concluded the mayor.

A Pinnacle Of Feminine Opulence: Unraveling The Tapestry Of 'Women Dressing Women'

In the forthcoming spectacle gracing the hallowed halls of the Costume Institute, an enchanting narrative unfolds in the exhibition entitled "Women Dressing Women." While the thematic undercurrents nod gracefully to gender identity, the true triumph of this exposition lies in its seamless unity—a harmonic convergence of diverse designers throughout history intricately interwoven with The Met's own sartorial treasures. Astonishingly, nearly half the exhibited artifacts—each a masterpiece in its own right—have yet to grace the public eye, adding an aura of clandestine allure. Mellissa Huber, the discerning associate curator at the Costume Institute, alongside the accomplished Karen Van Godtsenhoven, an alumna of CI, orchestrated this symphony of style that transcends temporal boundaries. As the doors swing open to this couture haven, visitors are beckoned by the whispers of Germaine Émilie Krebs (Madame Grès) and Rei Kawakubo—a white silk pleated goddess dress and a distressed wool sweater with a cotton-and-batting skirt—a ballet of contrasts resonating through the stairwell.

Descending further, one encounters the illustrious triumvirate of Madeleine Vionnet, Elsa Schiaparelli, and Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel, akin to fashion's celestial muses. In a mirrored display case, their creations, viewed from every angle, evoke a sense of reverence. Chanel's modernist vision, Vionnet's intricate bias cutting, Grès's artful draping, Schiaparelli's fusion of art and fashion, and Kawakubo's mastery of "ma" redefine the very essence of femininity. This curated journey refuses to bow to essentialism, as Chanel's streamlined elegance coexists with Vionnet's meticulous craftsmanship and Schiaparelli's artistic ingenuity. Kawakubo, standing as a disruptor, shapes space around the body, challenging conventional norms.

The exhibition's core theme, the lineage across history, pulsates through each meticulously arranged section. Even before entering the galleries, the notion of anonymity takes centre stage, transporting patrons to the era spanning 1675 to 1900. A nod to the genesis of the first guild of female dressmakers, this section unveils the transition from collaborative creation to the emergence of solitary geniuses, exemplified by Charles Frederick Worth. Moving forward to the period from 1900 to 1968, the exhibition delves into the concept of visibility. An entire room pays homage to the interwar period, highlighting an era when Paris witnessed a surplus of female creative directors. Chanel, Callot Soeurs, and Lucile become protagonists in this historical tableau, illustrating a feminine ethos radiating from within.

The theme of agency emerges as the narrative unfurls from 1968 to the present, capturing the evolution from the "boutique generation" to the modern era of individualized self-presentation. Here, the exhibition emphasises the symbiosis of business and creation, embodying a dialogue between designer and client. Amidst this fashion odyssey, the exhibition addresses societal realities and lived experiences that often evade the limelight. An entire section within the Agency theme explores how dress serves as a canvas for political and bodily expression, spotlighting the work of contemporary designers like No Sesso, Collina Strada, and Customiety.

¨In this subterranean sanctuary of style, the brilliance of women in fashion not only shines but radiates through the collective brilliance of their creations—a testament to the enduring, ever-evolving tapestry of feminine design. The constellation of talent celebrated in this exhibition beckons patrons to ponder the intricate threads that weave through time, creating a legacy that extends far beyond the confines of a gallery.¨ - Charles Daniel McDonald

The final thematic strand, absence/omission, positions garments in the heart of the gallery—a deliberate choice symbolising a lack of attribution or intentional obfuscation. Ester Manas's dress becomes a poignant commentary on the historical absence of body diversity in the industry. "Women Dressing Women" emerges not merely as a showcase of exquisite garments but as a celebration, an acknowledgment of the multifaceted roles women have played in fashion. The exhibition, like a constellation of talent, invites patrons to traverse the labyrinth of time and explore the evolving tapestry of feminine design. In this subterranean sartorial sanctuary, the brilliance of women in fashion radiates through the collective brilliance of their creations.

As visitors descend the grand staircase into this immersive experience, the irony of the exhibition's underground locale beckons contemplation. The subterranean setting, historically associated with the perceived second-class status of fashion in museums, adds a layer of significance to the narrative—echoing the resilience and determination embedded in the evolution of women's roles within the industry. What unfolds within the dimly lit galleries is not merely a chronological presentation of garments but a nuanced exploration of the complexities inherent in women's engagement with fashion across time. The curators, with meticulous attention to detail, have emphasized the collective nature of clothing creation, transcending the notion of the lone genius.

Huber and Van Godtsenhoven's focus on tracing a lineage of female fashion design becomes a celebration, an ode to the constellation of talent that has graced the industry throughout history. The exhibition offers a multi-layered lens through which patrons can contemplate not only the evolution of fashion but also broader movements, societal changes, and the dynamic roles of individual women. The exhibition's thematic richness extends beyond the exquisite garments on display, delving into the intricacies of museum practices, collecting biases, and historical time periods. The acknowledgment and celebration of women's contributions become a gateway to explore not only biographical narratives but also the larger tapestry of shifting societal norms and women's changing roles.

As the narrative unfolds through the meticulously curated sections, each defined by custom headpieces by Caitlin Keogh, the gallery becomes a temporal portal, allowing patrons to traverse the rich tapestry of feminine design. The detailed genealogy of women designers from the early 20th century, presented in a U-shaped room, provides a comprehensive panorama of interconnected creativity—an intricate dance of influences and inspirations. The exhibition's fourth theme, absence/omission, transforms the gallery into an immersive experience. Garments standing defiantly in the middle of the floor become symbolic pairings, speaking to the lack of attribution or deliberate obfuscation. The deliberate placement challenges patrons to confront not only the aesthetic allure of fashion but also the obscured narratives and overlooked aspects within the industry.

Ester Manas's dress, representing the absence of body diversity, becomes a poignant reflection on the historical limitations within the fashion realm. The curators' intention, as Huber articulates, was not driven solely by politics but rooted in the profound idea of acknowledgment and celebration. The exhibition becomes a nuanced exploration, a visual symphony celebrating the strengths and recognising the areas that demand improvement. "Women Dressing Women" is a complex masterpiece that unfolds its layers like a carefully crafted gown. The multilayered narrative invites patrons to delve into the interconnected realms of museum practices, historical time periods, and individual women's lives. It's an invitation to transcend the mere admiration of garments and engage in a reflective journey through the shifting landscapes of fashion and feminism. And long may it continue.

Finally, The EU Is Banning Fashion’s Dirty Secret: Destroying Unsold Goods

It’s an open secret in fashion. Unsold inventory goes to the incinerator; excess handbags are slashed so they can’t be resold; perfectly usable products are sent to the landfill to avoid discounts and flash sales. The European Union wants to put an end to these unsustainable practices. On Monday, it banned the destruction of unsold textiles and footwear.

“It is time to end the model of ‘take, make, dispose’ that is so harmful to our planet, our health and our economy,” MEP Alessandra Moretti said in a statement. “Banning the destruction of unsold textiles and footwear will contribute to a shift in the way fast fashion manufacturers produce their goods.”

This comes as part of a broader push to tighten sustainable fashion legislation, with new policies around ecodesign, greenwashing and textile waste phasing in over the next few years. The ban on destroying unsold goods will be among the longer lead times: large businesses have two years to comply, and SMEs have been granted up to six years. It’s not yet clear on whether the ban applies to companies headquartered in the EU, or any that operate there, as well as how this ban might impact regions outside of Europe.

For many, this is a welcome decision that indirectly tackles the controversial topics of overproduction and degrowth. Policymakers may not be directly telling brands to produce less, or placing limits on how many units they can make each year, but they are penalising those overproducing, which is a step in the right direction, says Eco-Age sustainability consultant Philippa Grogan. “This has been a dirty secret of the fashion industry for so long. The ban won’t end overproduction on its own, but hopefully it will compel brands to be better organised, more responsible and less greedy.”

Clarifications to come

There are some kinks to iron out, says Scott Lipinski, CEO of Fashion Council Germany and the European Fashion Alliance (EFA). The EFA is calling on the EU to clarify what it means by both “unsold goods” and “destruction”. Unsold goods, to the EFA, mean they are fit for consumption or sale (excluding counterfeits, samples or prototypes). “Our industry is also firmly committed to the development of new practices such as remanufacturing and upcycling, which give a second life to unsold products while allowing creative freedom to thrive, and we strongly oppose any ban that would put an end to these practices.”

The question of what happens to these unsold goods if they are not destroyed is yet to be answered. “Will they be shipped around the world? Will they be reused as deadstock or shredded and downcycled? Will outlet stores have an abundance of stock to sell?” asks Grogan.

Large companies will also have to disclose how many unsold consumer products they discard each year and why, a rule the EU is hoping will curb overproduction and destruction. The EFA, which lobbies the EU on behalf of the fashion industry and its various European fashion councils, has some concerns about the knock-on effects for brands’ reputations. “Considering the risk of such disclosure from a business and competition point of view, we request that it should be exclusively provided to the Commission or a competent national authority,” says Lipinski.

Could this shift supply chains?

For Dio Kurazawa, founder of sustainable fashion consultancy The Bear Scouts, this is an opportunity for brands to increase supply chain agility and wean themselves off the wholesale model so many rely on. “This is the time to get behind innovations like pre-order and on-demand manufacturing,” he says. “It’s a chance for brands to play with AI to understand the future of forecasting. Technology can help brands be more intentional with what they make, so they have less unsold goods in the first place.”

Grogan is equally optimistic about what this could mean for sustainable fashion in general. “It’s great to see that this is more ambitious than the EU’s original proposal and that it specifically calls out textiles. It demonstrates a willingness from policymakers to create a more robust system,” she says. “Banning the destruction of unsold goods might make brands rethink their production models and possibly better forecast their collections.”

One of the outstanding questions is over enforcement. Time and again, brands have used the lack of supply chain transparency in fashion as an excuse for bad behaviour. Part of the challenge with the EU’s new ban will be proving that brands are destroying unsold goods, not to mention how they’re doing it and to what extent, says Kurazawa. “Someone obviously knows what is happening and where, but will the EU?”

Jacquemus To Become Next Creative Director For Givenchy

After a slew of not-so-positive feedback involving his latest collections, it is rumoured that Givenchy Creative Director Matthew M. Williams could be set to be replaced by Simon Porte Jacquemus – of his eponymous brand Jacquemus – at some point in the future.

With the recent disappointment involving Givenchy’s FW23′ range, which failed to flatter for many, Creative Director Matthew M. Williams has had a difficult time of late as many in the fashion industry begin to question his role at the luxury French fashion house, whilst Jacquemus’ own brand has alternatively been making waves both on and offline and is expected to be continually popular throughout this upcoming SS23′ period. 

Whilst conflicting information around his appointment has cropped up online, with nothing having been totally decided, it is known that LVMH and those at Givenchy are admirers of Jacquemus and his various assets, of which include his ability to maintain lower luxury prices and his immaculate eye for marketing, as seen recently with the sending of giant car-like Jacquemus Chiquito handbags down the streets of Paris. This potential appointment – if it were to go ahead – would also most likely see Jacquemus take on two brands at the same time, with this having historically been a difficult feat.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Edward Enninful’s Tailored Fashion Awards Look Marked Phoebe Philo’s First Foray Into Menswear

The 2023 edition of the Fashion Awards was an unusually sentimental one. Charlie Casely-Hayford accepted a posthumous Special Recognition Award on behalf of his father, titan of British design Joe Casely-Hayford; the great and the good of the industry paid tribute to Sarah Burton following her departure from McQueen after 13 historic years; Sam Smith honoured Vivienne Westwood with a performance of “Unholy” in a gown designed by Andreas Kronthaler; and Vogue’s Sarah Mower thanked the designers who have fuelled her insightful fashion criticism while picking up her own Special Recognition Award: “I’ve always learned far more from you than the other way around,” she told the young luminaries gathered at the Royal Albert Hall. “So, thank you for teaching us to never be so arrogant to think we know it all.”

The ceremony also marked Edward Enninful’s final Fashion Awards as editor-in-chief of British Vogue, with the March 2024 issue set to be his last before he moves into a senior global role at Condé Nast. After being presented with the Trailblazer Award by Stormzy and Jodie Comer – both of whom feature on British Vogue’s December 2023 covers – Edward thanked his team before delivering a heartening message to those hoping to break into the industry: “To every young aspiring person seeking a future in fashion: fear nothing, fear no one, believe in yourself, and do things your way, and I can’t wait to see what you bring to our wonderful world.”

Naturally, such a special night called for a special look, with Enninful turning to the inimitable Phoebe Philo to dress him for the occasion. Marking her first foray into menswear, Philo created a custom grey suit for Edward, which he paired with sneakers – an insouciantly cool move that Phoebe would no doubt have approved of. “[Phoebe and I have] been close friends for a long time,” Enninful says of their collaboration. “We’re both West Londoners, and I’m really honoured to have worn her first design for men.” Let’s hope for the Philophiles’ sake that there’s many more menswear designs to come.

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Azul Tierra

In the heart of Barcelona, where the captivating architecture of the city meets the rich tapestry of Catalan culture, Azul Tierra stands as a beacon of sophistication in the realm of interior design. This renowned boutique, nestled in the chic Eixample district, seamlessly fuses modern aesthetics with timeless elegance, creating spaces that are both luxurious and inviting. Let's embark on a journey through the world of Azul Tierra and explore the brands and facts that make it a quintessential destination for those seeking unparalleled design experiences. At the intersection of innovation and tradition, Azul Tierra is not merely a showroom; it is an immersive experience that transports visitors into a world where design becomes a narrative. The ambiance is carefully curated, reflecting the Barcelona lifestyle—laid-back yet refined. The expansive space showcases an exquisite collection of furniture, lighting, and accessories that mirror the city's vibrant energy and artistic spirit.


Azul Tierra's signature lies in its meticulous selection of materials, a testament to the brand's commitment to quality and craftsmanship. From sumptuous fabrics to rich leathers, every piece tells a story of expert artisanship. The showroom proudly features iconic brands such as Ligne Roset and B&B Italia, whose creations grace the showroom with their presence, offering a glimpse into the world of avant-garde design. Ligne Roset, with its French roots, introduces an air of refined Parisian elegance to Barcelona. Visitors can explore the brand's innovative furniture designs, characterised by clean lines, bold shapes, and an unwavering commitment to comfort. B&B Italia, an Italian design powerhouse, complements the collection with its sculptural pieces, harmonising form and function in a way only the Italians can master.


Barcelona, with its architectural marvels courtesy of Antoni Gaudí and his contemporaries, serves as a backdrop to Azul Tierra's ethos. The gallery pays homage to the city's Modernist movement, seamlessly blending contemporary and classical elements. Furniture from Fendi Casa and Minotti takes centre stage, embodying the essence of modern luxury while paying homage to the city's architectural heritage. Fendi Casa, synonymous with opulence and sophistication, infuses the space with a sense of Italian glamour. Their furniture and accessories showcase a mastery of materials like precious woods, leather, and metals, creating pieces that are as functional as they are aesthetically pleasing. Minotti, a beacon of Italian design, introduces a sense of understated luxury, with clean lines and a neutral palette that complements the surrounding architectural beauty of the city.

¨Barcelona, with its architectural wonders and artistic heritage, finds a worthy ambassador in Azul Tierra. As the showroom continues to evolve, bringing together the best of global and local design, it cements its status as a beacon of inspiration for those who seek to elevate their living spaces to the sublime. In the heart of Eixample, Azul Tierra stands not just as a showroom but as a testament to the enduring allure of Barcelona's design spirit.¨ - Charles Daniel McDonald

While Azul Tierra pays tribute to international design giants, it also champions local talent, placing Spanish craftsmanship on a global pedestal. One cannot help but be captivated by the works of Spain's own GANDIABLASCO, a brand that transcends traditional boundaries with its avant-garde outdoor furniture. The seamless integration of indoor and outdoor spaces is a nod to Barcelona's climate and lifestyle, and GANDIABLASCO's designs flawlessly bridge this gap. The brand's commitment to sustainability aligns seamlessly with Barcelona's eco-conscious ethos. The use of innovative materials and a dedication to reducing environmental impact make GANDIABLASCO a standout choice for those seeking both style and ethical responsibility in their design choices.


Azul Tierra doesn't merely showcase furniture; it curates collaborations that redefine the boundaries of design. The showroom serves as a canvas for the artistic expressions of brands like Flos and Moooi, both known for pushing the envelope in lighting design. Flos, the Italian lighting maestro, brings a touch of magic to Azul Tierra with its iconic designs. The showroom becomes an immersive gallery of light, where fixtures like the Arco floor lamp and the Skygarden pendant transcend functionality to become works of art.


Moooi, a Dutch design collective, injects a sense of playfulness and whimsy into the space. The brand's boundary-pushing creations, such as the Random Light and the Raimond Suspension, showcase a fusion of art and design that captivates the imagination. Azul Tierra is more than a destination for acquiring exquisite pieces; it's a journey into the soul of design. The showroom's expert team, well-versed in the nuances of international and local design, guides clients through a personalised experience. From conceptualization to execution, Azul Tierra ensures that every project reflects the client's unique personality and lifestyle.

Iris Van Herpen - Sculpting The Senses

In the realm of time, there exists the conventional ticking of clocks and then there is the extraordinary tempo of Iris Van Herpen's universe. Stepping into the Musée des Arts Décoratifs exhibition dedicated to the trailblazing Dutch designer is an immersive journey through 16 years of transcendent creations, seamlessly blending the realms of haute couture craftsmanship with science, nature, technology, architecture, art, and dance. This unprecedented retrospective, entitled "Iris Van Herpen: Sculpting the Senses," unfolds within the prestigious Christine & Stephen Schwarzman Galleries, previously graced by retrospectives for Schiaparelli and Mugler. Van Herpen's singular approach spans millennia of inspiration, from ancient nautili to the cutting-edge technologies of the Large Hadron Collider. The exhibition is a masterpiece that induces awe on every level – from the technical marvels of the 100 exhibited dresses to the intimate glimpses into Van Herpen's artistic process. The showcase transcends traditional boundaries, offering a profound exploration of her conceptual approach enriched by a curated selection of art and objects.


Amsterdam-based Van Herpen, celebrated for her astonishing collections, creates garments that evoke hybrid creatures, ethereal earth goddesses, and futuristic female visions. Worn by icons such as Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Björk, Tilda Swinton, and Grimes, her creations seamlessly navigate the realms of wearable art and permanent museum collections. While her work has been featured in retrospectives globally, the Parisian exhibition marks a significant milestone in her illustrious career. The exhibition, meticulously curated by Cloé Pitiot and assistant curator Louise Curtis, unfolds through nine thematic explorations – from Skeletal Embodiment to Mythology of Fear. Studio Nathalie Crinière's thoughtful scenography enhances each theme, providing a backdrop that complements Van Herpen's visual language. The display includes customized mannequins in various skin tones, contributing a human touch to the ethereal creations.


Van Herpen's fascination with water, the origin of life, takes center stage in the exhibition. Dresses encased in solid splashes of PetG and vaporous waves of gradient organza evoke a transformative journey. The exhibition transcends the traditional boundaries of fashion, delving into Van Herpen's collaborations with architects, artists, and engineers like Philip Beesley, Shelee Carruthers, and Isaïe Bloch. Notably, Van Herpen was the first couturier to showcase a digitally printed 3D dress in 2010. The exhibition acts as a privileged window into Van Herpen's design process, unveiling the complexities and motivations behind her creations. As visitors traverse the exhibition, they witness a studio space adorned with material samples, offering a glimpse into the meticulous craftsmanship involved in creating her masterpieces.


Van Herpen's artistry extends beyond fashion, drawing inspiration from her surroundings, including Amsterdam's old wood harbor and her hometown's rich artistic history. Her expansive references include contemporary artworks, historical artifacts, nature documentaries, and fossil fragments, transforming the exhibition into a multifaceted exploration beyond the boundaries of fashion. The exhibition crescendos with "Cosmic Bloom," a captivating installation featuring mannequins seemingly defying gravity, adorned in Van Herpen's most vibrant designs. The climax is accentuated by images of the galaxy from the James Webb telescope, creating a celestial backdrop to the most recent collections. Noteworthy is the unseen photo of a model shot at CERN, underlining Van Herpen's research-based approach.


In an era marked by technological advancements, Van Herpen embraces the future, experimenting with artificial intelligence. The visionary designer reveals her ongoing exploration with "A-Iris," an AI system intended to interact with visitors, answering questions in real-time. However, she affirms that her designs will forever originate from her imaginative prowess, emphasizing the intrinsic value of human creativity. "Iris Van Herpen: Sculpting the Senses" invites patrons to delve into the captivating world of a designer who seamlessly intertwines the past, present, and future. This unprecedented exhibition, running through April 28, 2024, at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, is a testament to Iris Van Herpen's enduring impact on the intersection of art and fashion.

Los Angeles Welcome Balenciaga

Hancock Park may never be the same. On a bright Saturday afternoon Balenciaga staged their pre-fall 2024 show on a closed-down street in the placid, leafy neighbourhood that is typically the stomping ground for well-heeled Hollywood families. Today however, the wide, oak-lined streets saw different kind of heels – the ones that look like socks – traipsing down the asphalt, giving new meaning to street style.

For security, the exact show venue had been a secret to attendees, who were ferried from drop-off locations several blocks away. Given the snaking line of blacked-out SUVs, ear-pieced guards, and goth-glam outfits to match, the crowd looked less like they were gathered for a destination fashion show than the inauguration of a Transylvanian head of state. Security was lighter, however, for at least one show goer, a Hancock Park resident, who only had to walk out of her front door to take a seat at the show.

Kim Kardashian, seated with sister Kendall, carried a leather tote crafted to look like a brown paper Erewhon shopping bag – an ur-LA vision – full of flowers, which she gave to Demna after the show. Natasha Lyonne wore an early Aughts-esque bubble gum pink velour hoodie, while newly-announced Balenciaga brand ambassador Nicole Kidman parted the sea of onlookers in a velvet dress with a sculpted bodice. Nicola Peltz and Brooklyn Beckham, Vittoria Ceretti (more accustomed to walking than sitting), and Lil Wayne could all be seen lining the front row. The guest of honour, however, was the Hollywood sign, perfectly positioned in the distance between the palms of South Windsor Boulevard.

The show began with a sonic jolt of techno laced with wellness-themed radio advertisements, promising nonsensical power and enlightenment. (One of the lyrics, which were all written by Demna and his husband/music director BFRND, intoned: “Welcome hungry souls to the realm of hungry stomachs.”) The collection offered a sardonic commentary on Angeleno style: stilettoed, oversized Ugg boots; thongs arching out of low-cut tracksuits; the aforementioned leather Erewhon bags, as well as coffee thermoses and reusable metal water bottles. 

Cardi B, clad in a cobalt furry coat, played the role of instantly-viral celebrity model; while Brigitte Nielsen, the former Helmut Newton model, was cast as the IYKYK fashion icon. When Balenciaga CEO Cedric Charbit stood up after the finale, indicating that everyone else could too, a few guests shouted “Encore!”

Heading west on Melrose after the show, it was hard not to notice all the same accessories and sartorial details that Balenciaga had just exaggerated to critical, and even comedic, effect. Even a tried-and-true European like Demna knows one cardinal rule about Los Angeles: there’s nothing Hollywood loves more than a show about Hollywood.

Friday, December 1, 2023

Matthew Williams To Exit Givenchy As Luxury’s Creative Director Shake-Up Continues

Matthew Williams is stepping down as creative director of Givenchy after three years in the role, the house announced on Friday. Williams’s departure will be effective from 1 January 2024, and the men’s and women’s pre-fall 2024 collections, to be unveiled this month, will be his last for the brand. A successor has not yet been named, and the house’s studio teams will lead design in the interim, according to the statement.

Williams is the latest in a series of recent creative director shake-ups, including new appointments at Blumarine, Chloé, Alexander McQueen and Ann Demeulemeester. Other brands awaiting new creative directors include Moschino, whose creative director Davide Renne tragically died in November, just 10 days after taking over, and Tod’s, whose creative director Walter Chiapponi stepped down in July to join Blumarine.

During his tenure at the LVMH-owned house, Williams was known for drawing inspiration from the archives, constructing elegant evening wear and introducing a distinct tailoring style. The house’s statement credits Williams with “modernising its entire product range” under his creative vision, calling out the U-lock jacket and Voyou bag as notable releases. Prior to his appointment, he completed a stint at Dior Men’s under Kim Jones and was shortlisted for the LVMH Prize in 2016. His predecessor, Clare Waight Keller, also lasted three years in the role.

“I would like to thank Matthew for all the energy he brought to Givenchy. His collections, resolutely creative and contemporary, have sparked a new dynamic and found their audience. I join everyone who has had the pleasure of working with Matthew in wishing him every success in his next ventures,” said Renaud de Lesquen, president and CEO of Givenchy, in a statement.

In the meantime, the release states the American designer will “fully dedicate himself” to his own brand, 1017 Alyx 9SM, which he has remained involved in. Williams founded Alyx in 2015 and, since then, the brand has clocked collaborations with the likes of Nike and Moncler. On 17 November, the brand announced a business partnership with Hong Kong entrepreneur Adrian Cheng.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Pharrell Williams Defines The Future Of Dandy

Hong Kong welcomed Pharrell Williams with open arms. With one of the world’s most memorable skylines as the backdrop for the Men’s Pre-Fall 2024 show, the first Louis Vuitton (PARIS:MC.PA +0.87%) men’s collection to ever be shown in Hong Kong, brought in guests from around the world, including global superstars from South Korea, China, Japan and more. Located right on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront overlooking the picturesque Hong Kong skyline, the location set the tone for both the collection and gave a nod to the brand’s strategic direction and focus towards the Asian market.

Pharrell’s debut show set the bar high as it saw pop culture’s royalty — Beyoncé, JAY-Z, Rihanna and more — attend. The pomp and circumstance of Pharrell’s first show with the house saw a live gospel performance by Voices of Fire as well as one from Pharrell and JAY-Z to cap off the night. For his second showing, Pharrell brings Louis Vuitton to the vibrant and eclectic city of Hong Kong, a spectacle in itself. As a part of their invitation, show attendees received a t-shirt featuring a playful and colourful graphic of a beach island scene, setting the tone for the collection ahead. As evident in this show and the last, Pharrell is no stranger to using vibrant colors to accent traditional patterns like the Damier, as seen on cloud like sandals and Keepall bags. Almost an ode to the colorful cityscape and sunny beaches of Hong Kong, the collection itself is resonant and astounding. In an exclusive conversation with Hypebeast, Pharrell explains the concept of the show and how the city of Hong Kong inspired the collection and presentation,

”It was inspired by the idea of a businessman in Hong Kong who has decided to spend a week or so in Hawaii on holiday. But in the middle of his trip, he has to go back to Hong Kong for one day for a meeting he couldn’t move. The archetypes that we chose were like a sailor one and an another archetype was one on holiday. There’s a lot of floral inspiration, a deep dive into exotic colorways, interesting pairings of colors. The silhouette that you’re going to see is consistent with what I’m infatuated with when it comes to formal…which is the future of chic, dandy in a sailor suit, dandy in resort holiday.”

Significant to some, the show in Hong Kong lands a couple days following the second anniversary of Virgil Abloh‘s death. As a subtle nod to the late-designer, Pharrell continues his legacy, bringing his own unique play on colors with heritage Louis Vuitton emblems, patterns and styling. Hypebeast spoke to Pharrell about how he hopes to carry on Abloh’s legacy while moving forward with his own at the house and in a matter of conviction Pharrell said, “V’s legacy for me is something I want to hold up and always want to give reverence to while I’m at Vuitton.” Pharrell remembers the past, talking about when he first started with Marc Jacobs 20 years ago and the viral photo of Kanye West, himself and Abloh wearing the Millionaire sunglasses, “Never in a million years did I think I would be doing anything after sunglasses.” Pharrell talks about how when Abloh was appointed he felt that they were “intrinsically” tied.

In the conversation, the multihyphenate designer shares a story that highlights where he got the idea of “LVERS” and it starts with Abloh attending his first ever Something In The Water festival in his home of Virginia and later Pharrell going to Paris to support him when he was appointed at LV, “He came from Paris to VA. Paris to VA…and when I got appointed, I’m from VA and we went to Paris. In Virginia, our state slogan is ‘Virginia is for Lovers’ so when you see ‘lovers’ it’s where it all started.” It is evident that Pharrell holds Abloh close in everything that he does with the house of Louis Vuitton and that it is all tied together at the end of the day.

Under Abloh, skate culture has always been incorporated into his design ethos and Pharrell carried this on. Much of his influences continue on to footwear in the form of sneakers and bold patterns. Modern silhouettes adorned the runway to match the theme of Pharrell’s modern day dapper man. Versatile silhouettes take you to from beachy to formalwear in an instant, making it fit for the modern day businessman. Footwear saw exaggerated sandals and sneakers inspired by the formality of loafers arriving in vibrant hues. For the minimalist, the Damier pattern arrives on the suede mule in tonal camel brown. As for the beach theme, the island getaway fantasy was a common print on button down shirts, Keepall duffle bags as well as full suits. Staples including denim shirts, varsity jackets and more adorned Pharrell’s signature “LVers” motif, matching the drone show at the end where the text was seen in the sky.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Fashion Critics Will No Longer Wake Up For Less Than $10,000 A Day

At a late-evening show on the penultimate day of London Fashion Week, a staff writer at a competitor magazine turned around to me and said: “When am I going to be cast in something? What’s wrong with me?” Fitting, because he spent a large proportion of our conversation listing all of the times he had been included in street-style galleries recently. But this wasn’t a question of an outsized fashion ego. The past couple of seasons have seen a steady increase in the number of industry insiders taking turns on the catwalk. That an aspirant cool-kid journalist should be waiting in the wings for his big “debut” is now entirely plausible. There’s real kudos in being positioned as that kind of cultish figure on the scene.

This interaction took place weeks before fashion critic Cathy Horyn joined the cast of Demna’s spring/summer 2024 show at Balenciaga, alongside blogger Diane Pernet and publicist Robin Meason. The fashion designer Mowalola Ogunlesi then made a cameo in Mugler’s makeshift wind tunnel, following Sinéad O’Dwyer’s appearance at Chopova Lowena during London Fashion Week, while i-D writer Joe Bobowicz walked for Olly Shinder’s debut at Fashion East. His editor, Mahoro Seward, was cast on Chopova Lowena’s spring/summer 2023 catwalk, the same season that Acne Studios’s CMO and former Dazed editor-in-chief Isabella Burley was trundled out at Vaquera.

In casting members of their own professional (and social) circles, it would seem these designers have realised the value of running a fashion person’s fashion brand. “I think we all love an ‘if you know, you know’ moment,” says casting director Sarah Small of Good Catch, who works with Chopova Lowena. “And runways are perfect for this because you have the opportunity to bring a group of people together with shared attitudes. So it makes sense not to base casting decisions on aesthetics alone.” Small’s work (along with Emma Matell and Troy Fearn’s) has given rise to a new genre of model, one that puts an emphasis on street-cast faces: real, eccentric and often unpolished, revealing a sense of humanity beneath the clothes.

“Street casting has paved the way for less expected beauties to make an appearance on the runway,” she says. “It’s connected to, but different from, casting insider talent, which is more closely linked to what those people represent.” A co-sign from a well-respected name is perhaps worth more to a designer than hiring a professional billboard for a couple of minutes. It’s why Jo Ellison walked for Dolce & Gabbana in 2017 and Matthew Schneier walked for Vaquera in 2018. These relationships go deeper than those of a traditional model-designer set-up. It’s a dialogue. The same goes for Alexander McQueen, who modelled for Rei Kawakubo in ’97, and Martin Margiela for Jean Paul Gaultier in ’98.

And yet this all felt markedly different from those ’90s cameos. Since lockdown ended, celebrity, spectacle and the collision of the two have been central to fashion month’s rebooted IRL offering. The image of Dua Lipa licking her lips on the spring/summer 2022 Versace catwalk haunts me like a World War II flashback. See also: Balenciaga’s bomb craters and Bella Hadid clasping her breasts as a latex dress is sprayed onto her in real-time. The clothes have been just as attention-seeking. This shift has been met with scepticism from critics, who consider these antics concept-thin, attention-grabbing stunts. Case in point: the publicity-starved Tommy Ca$h aping as a homeless person at Y/Project.

But this season, it felt as though the industry was turning its gaze back on itself: presenting post-meme wardrobes on pre-Instagram models like Agyness Deyn and Malgosia Bela. There were some VIP cameos (among them Troye Sivan and Cailee Spaeny at Miu Miu, Angela Bassett and Paris Hilton at Mugler, and Mia Khalifa at KNWLS) but there were fewer headline-generating appearances. In general, the appetite for A-listers wasn’t quite there. “There will never be a time without models and celebrities, but once anything becomes conventional, it no longer creates the stimulus necessary for someone to pay attention,” says W David Marx, the author of Status and Culture. “And so you have to keep subverting those conventions.”

“The idea of using very attractive, model-like people has felt quite stale for a long time,” he continues. “So to use a different kind of person is a good marketing trick. Relevance is such a scarce currency at the moment, and there’s so few ways to drum up the right kind of attention.” Was Balenciaga’s SS24 casting an attempt at pandering to the fashion establishment? Even if the collection had lacked in substance (which it didn’t), the presence of Horyn would have bathed Demna in a halo of intellect. “It works both ways,” Marx adds. “The insider gets a level of fame they might not have had before, and the brand acquires relevance. Remember, not all insiders want to be hidden behind the scenes anymore.”

If someone wants to create a name for themselves, there is now an expectation to be an active participant in the fashion circus. Brands will continue to rely on celebrities to disseminate their message to as wide an audience as possible, but it’s perhaps a much nobler task to win the approval of the in-crowd. To cast an esteemed journalist over a famous supermodel is an explicit endorsement of the virtues they’re seen to uphold: knowledge and integrity and hard-won connoisseurship. It’s a small gesture, with enormous subtext for those who happen to be in the know. And if you don’t know? Well, you might look at the clothes these people are wearing instead.

Monday, November 27, 2023

The Surprising Return Of Analog Cameras

A generation used to unlimited access to information and tools is recovering the charm of objects that invite the opposite of smartphones’ immediacy. Interest in old-fashioned film cameras is increasing, especially for those whose childhoods are documented on film. “We take a lot of photos that last only until we change phones. But almost all of us keep albums from when we were little that are memories of our lives, places to return to and revisit,” say Cristóbal Benavente and Marta Arquero, managers of the Sales de Plata store, a stop for lovers of analog photography.

We are seeing a return to analog documentation of events: at festivals, people put away their cell phones and take out a disposable camera instead. Only once the film is developed does one encounter the final result, which becomes a treasure. Film photography is synonymous with beauty, melancholy and memory. It is also a limited service: since a film roll is not infinite, it forces photographers to choose with precision the moments to capture, creating an emotional bond with the subject, something which has been lost with smartphones. “Currently, we have images of absolutely everything we do and experience, whether it has value or not. Now, your wedding photos are interspersed with the image of the toast that you had for breakfast the previous week,” reflects Clara Sanz, Social Media Strategist at the creative agency Porque Pasado.

Normally, after taking a selfie or asking for a photo for a potential social media post, there is an almost obsessive scrutiny of all the supposed defects of the face and body. This image is studied from all angles and, on some occasions, editing and filters are used, modifying the people who appear in it beyond recognition. Researchers at the Boston Medical Center speak of “selfie dysmorphia,” referring to the disorder suffered by those who undergo plastic surgery with the purpose of looking like the version of themselves they see with social media filters.

Alternative social networks like BeReal, which was born in 2020 to fight against this lack of reality and the complexes that derive from Instagram and other applications, offer a less artificial option. Members of Generation Z, who have shown a clear concern for mental health, have embraced them. But, as Clara Sanz points out, “from the moment you can choose the moment to take the photo and you can repeat the image, it loses a bit of its meaning.”

Analog photos may not be perfect, and everyone may not look their most attractive. But they capture the memory of a certain moment and what it felt like then, as well as a window to understand how others see: “Analog photography is authenticity and reality. It’s seeing your birthday photos around a cake with a stain on the tablecloth. It is having chocolate on your cheek and remembering how much fun you had at those parties,” says Sanz.

These imperfections are what millennials miss so much. The youth of Generation Z long for what they never experienced. The rise of analog cameras comes as a response to the need for naturalness lost after so many years of feigned perfection. Photography once again becomes a means of expression and a tool to materialize memories. In the case of disposable cameras, there is also the added attraction of not knowing what the result will be like until the roll is developed, which for many young people is a totally new experience.

The owners of Sales de Plata say that they receive a lot of questions every day regarding the management and characteristics of cameras, since many people who are curious about the subject have never had contact with it before, not even as children. “The curious thing is that the question is very common among older people: does this still exist? There is a great difference in perspective according to age regarding analog photography: those who see it as a creative medium full of possibilities and those who experienced its decline in the early 2000s, sold all their equipment and feel that it is obsolete,” say Benavente and Arquero.

There are countless photo editing tools that create a vintage look. This fixation has existed for a while. Many young adults now remember those teenage years when they spent hours in front of the computer screen visiting Tumblr accounts where this aesthetic reigned. It was common to want to live inside the music videos for Lana Del Rey’s Video Games and Summertime Sadness, which were suffused with the romanticism of home videos, found footage — fake documentaries— and, in general, a nostalgic, dreamy atmosphere.

“Going back to the past means returning to comfort, to the familiar, to the place where one feels safe. Perhaps this explains why there are now young kids taking photos at trap concerts with cell phones from years ago and taking the trouble to transfer these photos to the computer. Or people shooting video clips with MiniDV cameras. It is the same type of nostalgia that Wim Wenders includes in the film Paris, Texas, scenes from years ago in Super 8 films: it takes us back,” conclude Benavente and Arquero.

Hashtags like #filmphotography have 40,764,153 followers on Instagram. In videos on social media, couples imitate photographs of their parents when they were their age, filling social networks with flashbacks to the 1980s and 1990s. “People want to feel natural again, to have references on which to base ourselves without fearing that everything is false. We are tired of not being able to believe what we see, of being bombarded with messages that are not real and that generate toxic feelings for no reason. I think it is a trend that should be maintained and promoted by all creators and that would give them added value,” says Sanz regarding the trend of images taken with analog cameras on social networks.

The analog camera industry experienced an evident decline with the arrival of digitalization. In 2012, the journalist Ramón Peco wondered in an article in this newspaper whether analog photography would survive. “It may seem like a romantic statement, and it probably is, but we must not forget that the photography business fuels many dreams. And for some, those dreams cannot be captured with digital technology,” he reflected at the time.

Maybe that is the crux of the matter. Charlotte Wells manages to capture all that melancholy with Sophie’s home videos in the film Aftersun. It is not a coincidence that a film about memory and the survival of images in the brain revolves around those files, nor that the memory of Sophie’s last night with her father in Turkey is an instant photograph taken with a Polaroid. That crucial moment, materialized with an analog camera, is physical proof that all those scenes existed, even though they are now blurred and confused with those in your mind. The Polaroid stops being an image and becomes a treasure, something that can still be touched when everything else is gone.

As Y2K becomes fashionable again, so has the use of digital cameras. Surely many millennials remember carrying one in their bag alongside their keys or mobile phone, as well as arriving home after a gathering with friends or a trip, plugging it into the computer and downloading all the photos. They may remember the flash that dyed the eyes red and the skin nuclear white. Celebrities like Paris Hilton carried them on their wrists. Now, social media influencers are recovering those cameras: they may appear in videos in which current couples imitate their parents’ photos, filling Instagram with a retro aesthetic thanks to digital cameras.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Would You Wear Louis Vuitton’s Optical Illusion Boots?

Lately, fashion loves to make you do a double take. Optical illusion attire has been all the rage on the runways, as designers have taken everyday silhouettes – hoodies, coats, heels – and given them a surreal twist. At Loewe, Jonathan Anderson has debuted dresses that are spray-painted to appear like smaller dresses; at Bottega Veneta, Matthieu Blazy created sock-boots, jeans and dress shirts that are (surprise!) actually made out of buttery leather. It’s been a chic game of trickery – and Louis Vuitton is the latest label to get on board. The French fashion house’s new stiletto pumps are, well, in fact not pumps at all.

Debuted during the label’s autumn/winter 2023 presentation in Paris, Louis Vuitton sent below-the-knee boots down the catwalk that are constructed to appear like a leg wearing white ribbed socks and black pumps, both of which have been hand-painted onto the upper. Dubbed the “Illusion High Boot”, the trompe l’oeil style comes in two different skin tones, and they retail for £1,880 (They even come in a calf-length version, too.) They’re a cheeky – if not provocative – shoe silhouette, but not out of line with Vuitton’s house codes, which are all about innovating in the leatherwork space.

Now, are the boots off-kilter? Definitely. Not everyone wants to wear a shoe that looks like something else. However, they do come at a time where unexpected shapes are ruling the accessories realm. Very on-trend. Have you seen Loewe’s make-up-brush heels? Or Balenciaga’s five-toe sheepskin booties? Or GCDS’s wedge pumps with built-in chrome teeth? If ready-to-wear is all about stealth wealth (where quietly luxurious brands, such as Phoebe Philo and The Row, designed by women for women, are dominating), then the shoe world is all about having a sense of humour, and injecting your look with a bit of kooky personality. Not everything can be so serious. To quote Sex and the City, “No one’s fun anymore! What ever happened to fun!”

Thursday, November 16, 2023

This Balenciaga Towel Skirt Will Make You Look Like You Just Hopped Out Of The Shower

From the brand that brought us the Croc heel and the bin bag handbag comes a £695 towel skirt. Balenciaga unveiled (or, perhaps, unrobed) their latest viral moment: a grey terry cloth towel worn as a unisex, mid-rise, knee-length skirt. The piece comes from the label’s spring/summer 2024 collection, however it did not seem to appear on the runway during the Paris Fashion Week show and appeared online for the first time this week. While it is made of towel material, it is fitted with two buttons and an internal belt and comes in beige, black and stone grey. What apparently sets this look apart from every other bath towel is the embroidered Balenciaga logo on the front of the skirt, and – perplexingly – the fact that it’s dry clean only.

Unsurprisingly, the towel skirt inspired many strong opinions on social media. “Remember someone actually pitched this idea, managers agreed to it, someone manufactured it, someone made the marketing for it, someone uploaded it on the website, and still no one thought this is a bad idea,” one person wrote on X. “I can literally buy one that looks like that for $15 at Kmart,” another added. Others, however, seemed to be here for the controversial item. “Oh I will be buying,” one user commented, while another wrote, “How much is the Black Friday price? Asking for a friend.”

The eyebrow-raising skirt comes months after Balenciaga’s creative director Demna told Vogue that he was planning to turn away from gimmicky pieces and pare down the brand’s image. “It’s a serious job, you know, to make clothes. It’s not about creating image or buzz or any of those things,” he said in a February interview.

And this may not consciously be a gimmick at all. While plenty have created memes of this look already, Balenciaga is far from the first to present towels as a high fashion item. For spring/summer 2020, Prada, Fendi and Ludovic de Saint Sernin sent towel skirts down the runway, while Miu Miu and Acne Studios did it in 2017 and 2015, respectively. In 2018, Donatella Versace even revived a butterfly-printed terry cloth ensemble from Gianni Versace’s 1995 collection. Marc Jacobs made a sequined take on a towel dress that was featured in the February 1989 issue of American Vogue.

The intimacy of wearing only a towel has long been captured by photographers and models. Scores of past issues of Vogue have featured models in various stages of the getting-ready process. A 1954 image by John Rawlings features a model posed in a strapless one-piece swimsuit with a white terry-cloth towel wrapped around her head. And in 1967, Franco Rubartelli caught Veruschka with just an orange towel and a string of beads. Arthur Elgort has also photographed the likes of Linda Evangelista and Patti Hansen in various states of undress – post skinny-dip or fresh out of the shower.

While towels have largely been associated with women’s getting-ready routines, Balenciaga joins in the long tradition of towel dressing, making it a genderless experience. For anyone with £695 to spare, that is.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Balenciaga Is Chic And A Little Street With SS24 Campaign

It’s no secret that Balenciaga remains one of the foremost houses in contemporary fashion – continuously crafting its own universe of styles that blend chic, couture, street and everything in between. Now the Paris-based luxury house has revealed its new Spring/Summer 2024 campaign.

Shot in an elegant Parisian apartment, the new campaign reveals Balenciaga’s air of chic refinement alongside subtle street stylings. But what remains impressive about its design skillset is the ability to blend the two style codes in blissfully tasteful ways. The lineup of shots reveals pieces like sleekly strong-shouldered overcoats paired with thigh-high moto boots, exaggeratedly oversized denim, cacoon coats, an eye-catching crystal dress, knitted dresses and more.

The star of the show is Michelle Yeoh, who is Balenciaga’s newest house ambassador. “Wearing Balenciaga makes me value the artistry and craftsmanship behind every piece,” said Yeoh. Alongside Yeoh, the campaign sees brand ambassador PP Krit Amnuaydechkorn and Balenciaga’s friends Malgosia Bela, Arthur Del Beato, Eva Herzigova, Soo Joo Park, and Khadim Sock. Alongside ready-to-wear pieces, the campaign also reveals bags like the Le Cagole Sling, 24/7, Crush, Crush Sling and Monaco.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Davide Renne, The Creative Director Of Moschino, Is Dead At 46

Davide Renne, the newly-appointed creative director of Moschino and former longstanding stalwart of the Gucci design team, has died today in Milan. He was 46.

Renne’s death after a “sudden illness” was confirmed by Moschino today. In a statement issued by its owner Aeffe, executive chairman Massimo Ferretti paid tribute to Renne: “Even though he was only with us for a very short time, Davide was able to immediately make himself loved and respected… Our deepest sympathies go to his family and friends.”

It is only 10 days since Renne assumed his new role as creative director of Moschino. When the appointment was announced last month he had said: “I can’t wait to begin.”

Last month’s elevation of Renne to the lead design role at Moschino by Ferretti was widely celebrated in the city’s close-knit fashion community, where he was extremely well-regarded. Renne had been due to present his first collection for the house next February.

Anticipating that moment, Renne had considered the legacy of Franco Moschino in a personal statement last month. He wrote: “Franco taught us that fashion cannot be explained, can only be lived because it’s essentially, intimately, about life – about the world around us. This is, to me, the poetry of fashion. I see fashion as a dialogue where the creation of beauty happens. So, thank you Mr Ferretti and thank you house of Moschino for giving me the keys to your playroom.”

“We still can’t believe what happened,” said Mr Ferretti today.

Before his recruitment to Moschino, Renne was a pivotal member of the design team at Gucci. He joined the Kering-owned house in 2004, working under both Frida Giannini and Alessandro Michele. He rose to the position of head of womenswear design, and had overseen the autumn/winter 2023 collection presented this February between the tenures of Michele and Sabato De Sarno.

In the personal statement that accompanied his appointment to Moschino’s creative director position, Renne had described his professional progress, noting: “Fashion, like life, is about discovering ourselves.” He was born and raised in the seaside town of Follonica, Tuscany. “I realised in high school while studying at Liceo Scientifico that for some mysterious reason I kept drawing women’s clothes,” he wrote. Renne studied his vocation at the Polimoda fashion school in Florence, an educational experience which he said: “endowed me with a sense of absolute freedom, paving the way for a journey of creativity that, I soon discovered, became my life.”

After graduation he moved to Milan, where he worked for four years in the studio of Alessandro Dell’Acqua, who he described as “my first teacher and mentor in fashion.”

In 2003 Renne briefly worked at Ruffo Research, a label whose other alumni include Nicolas Ghesquière, Sophia Kokosalaki and Riccardo Tisci, before his recruitment to Gucci. He wrote: “There, I spent the past eight years with Alessandro Michele who taught me to dream bigger and pushed me further ahead, and helped me to make my dreams come true.” Davide Renne, fashion designer, born July 7 1977; died November 10 2023.