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Fashion


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Future Shock: Technology in Fashion


Get to know the creative companies that are introducing a heavy dose of high technology to cutting-edge fashion

Future Shock: Technology in Fashion


Get to know the creative companies that are introducing a heavy dose of high technology to cutting-edge fashion

Lifestyle > Fashion



Future Shock

December 22, 2015 / by Babette Radclyffe

Once consigned to the fantasies of sci-fi filmmakers, the worlds of fashion and technology are now merging like never before. Take the rise of smart textiles, interactive garments and wearable technology, all of which are paving the way for a more interactive and stylish future.

Fashion designer Ying Gao produces innovative collections that merge the worlds of art, design and tech. Her work often features sensory technologies that allow garments to become more interactive and playful. The Incertitudes collection sees two pieces covered in noise-sensitive dressmaker’s pins and electronic devices, which effortlessly flow and react to spectators’ voices. 

Google is currently working on its state-of-the-art Project Jacquard in collaboration with its first project partner, Levi Strauss. Through a new type of conductive yarn, the project will allow designers to use connected, touch-sensitive textiles in their creations, transforming everyday garments into an interactive surface and creating future opportunities for clothing to connect to apps. 

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3D printing has been on the lips of fashion and tech fans alike for a while now, but few designers compare to couture specialist Iris van Herpen, whose pieces combine 3D printing, laser-cutting and hand-weaving – with stunning results. Van Herpen’s explorative collections are akin to wearable pieces of art; her spring/summer 2016 Quaquaversal collection sees the pivotal figure of the show wearing a circular dress that is being woven upon her.

The Post-Couture Collective is the world’s first maker-community for clothing; it aims to offer an alternative to today’s fast-fashion-focused system. Based on the principles of open-source design, the collective’s inaugural collection features six items of clothing that are produced on a laser cutter and then assembled by the end user. Consumers can either receive the garments as made-to-measure construction kits, or they can download the digital design and use a laser cutter themselves. Sustainability is key; pieces are only made when they are sold. In addition, the fabric is made out of recycled PET bottles, which can be recycled again after being worn. 

Unmade is a knitwear company whose software platform is set to change the face of textiles forever. It lets designers create a garment from scratch and print knitwear on demand, thus allowing for unique, exclusive production on an industrial scale. Unmade looks to bring personality – and personalisation – back into the design process. 

This Fits Me, a project from industrial designer Leonie Tenthof van Noorden and fashion designer Eunbi Kim, also allows consumers to create personalised garments. The project uses 3D body scanning and generative algorithms, ensuring that every piece is unique and fits the customer perfectly. Similarly, the collaborative Be-tween project builds on 3D body scanning to create an ultra-personalised dress that uses puff ink, a screenprinting ink that shrinks when heated and, when added to fabric, can be fitted to the body. 

Wearables, also known as wearable technology, is currently the fashion tech world’s hottest buzzword. London-based CuteCircuit is one of the sector’s leading players that’s pushing the boundaries of interactive fashion through the use of smart textiles. The brand has launched colour-changing dresses, iPhone-controlled miniskirts and even social media-connected couture. The brand’s Hug Shirt is the world’s first haptic telecommunication garment, which lets users “hug” a friend from a distance; the elegant Eiza dress is a black evening gown that changes colour when the wearer receives a tweet; and the Supertwirkle is a minidress that reacts to the wearer’s movements by changing colours – it’s USB-rechargeable and machine-washable.

The rise of wearables has also seen a revolutionisation of the jewellery and timepiece market; there are estimates that it will surpass US$16 billion in 2016. US company Fitbit has dominated, offering a range of award-winning products that track everyday health and fitness. Fashion meets tech with the Tory Burch for Fitbit Flex Fret Double-Wrap Bracelet, which transforms the Fitbit Flex’s wireless activity and sleep tracker into a chic piece of statement jewellery. Burch explains, “Wearable technology is an exciting new category, and we’re thrilled to offer a unique collection of accessories that transform the fitness tracker into a stylish piece of jewellery versatile enough to go from day to evening.” 

Bellabeat’s Leaf is another popular health tracker with a stylish edge, leaving the days of robust rubber bands far behind. The Leaf offers extra features on top of sleep and fitness tracking, such as reproductive health monitoring. 

Then there’s Neyya, the groundbreaking “smart ring” that uses Bluetooth to control mobile phones and laptops. Available in titanium and gold, the Neyya ring’s smart surface lets wearers play music, control a camera and direct presentations, all with a simple swipe-and-tap motion. Owners can even leave their mobile phones at home, as the ring buzzes when a family member is trying to contact them.

The future of fashion looks increasingly connected, interactive and stylish.

Images courtesy of: Bellabeat, Iris van Herpen, Unmade, Neyya, The Post-Couture Collective, This Fits Me, Tory Burch for Fitbit, Ying Gao, Be-tween; CuteCircuit Sparkle Booties: photo courtesy of CuteCircuit, photographer Fernanda Calfat (Getty Images Entertainment); CuteCircuit NYFW AW14 grand finale and CuteCircuit Mirror handbag: photos courtesy of CuteCircuit, photographer Theodoros Chliapas

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Futuristic Fashion on Film: 2046


The stunning cinematic landscape of Wong Kar-wai’s film provides the perfect backdrop for Faye Wong’s android-genous fashion

Futuristic Fashion on Film: 2046


The stunning cinematic landscape of Wong Kar-wai’s film provides the perfect backdrop for Faye Wong’s android-genous fashion

Lifestyle > Fashion



Futuristic Fashion on Film: 2046

December 22, 2015 / by Scarlett Thomas

It’s been over a decade since Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai’s acclaimed film 2046 arrived on screens. Widely seen as a sequel to his Days of Being Wild (1990) and In the Mood for Love (2000), 2046 continued the stunning shots, rich colour schemes and symbolic outfits that had become the calling card of the director and cinematographer Christopher Doyle. 

Despite the fact that the majority of the film is set in a romantically nostalgic 1960s Hong Kong and Singapore, with qipao-clad beauties gliding across the screen, a science-fiction arc runs throughout the film – and it showcases stylish and sophisticated representations of futuristic fashion by renowned art director and costume designer William Chang. The storyline features a time-travelling train that takes passengers to and from the year 2046, and a surreal ambience fills these scenes set in the far future. The film’s protagonist, Chow Mo-wan (played by Tony Leung Chiu-wai), is writing a science-fiction novel in which a Japanese train passenger, Tak (Faye Wong), falls in love with an android train attendant. Chow’s novel fictionalises many of the central characters of his own love life, including Wang Jin-wen (also played by Faye Wong), but this time she appears as an android.

The selection of 1960s outfits worn by Faye Wong includes high-collared qipao worn with striking earrings, while her costumes of the future 2046 have a distinctly futuristic feel, incorporating highly textured metallic fabrics that are set against extremely saturated colour backdrops. One jacket skilfully plays with cut-out details and 3D sculpting, while her metallic-heeled ankle boots employ LED lights – a stylish takeaway that designers around the world use today. 

Tak’s funky garments also serve to emphasise the character’s robotic side. The viewer is reminded of her role as a train attendant through the uniform feel of her clothing, such as the angular shoulder pads, collars and buttons. Pairing Tak’s outfits with a short, messy bob hairdo and natural make-up, the styling mirrors yet modernises her 1960s outfits as Wang Jin-wen. The large silver earpiece that acts as a piece of jewellery reminding us that she is not Chow’s lost love, but in fact an android. 

The futuristic vision of fashion throughout 2046 provides a wealth of inspiration for the runways today, a prime example of life imitating art.

Images: ©Sony Picture Classics, Orly Films, Jet Tone and 2046

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The New Nina: Guillaume Henry


With Nina Ricci now available at Joyce and I.T in Hong Kong, and at
10 Corso Como in Shanghai and Beijing, the brand’s creative director talks regional growth, Romy Schneider and l’air du temps

The New Nina: Guillaume Henry


With Nina Ricci now available at Joyce and I.T in Hong Kong, and at
10 Corso Como in Shanghai and Beijing, the brand’s creative director talks regional growth, Romy Schneider and l’air du temps

Lifestyle > Fashion


The New Nina:
Guillaume Henry

December 22, 2015 / by Wu Shiyuan

What brings you to Hong Kong?

It’s really an opportunity for me to meet people, because there’s hardly any time during Paris Fashion Week to explain the brand’s new goals. In China, our business isn’t that big, but maybe it’s a question of communication. I think it is important for me to explain that Nina Ricci is a historic French brand with strong roots in couture.

You’ve been credited with turning Carven around when you were artistic director from 2009 to 2014. Will you be luring Carven clients to Nina Ricci? 

Both brands carry a woman’s name. Madame Carven was petite, funny and optimistic. But even from the sound of the name, you can tell that Nina Ricci is different – mysterious, and juvenile yet also adult. It’s seductive, while Carven is playful. Carven was about dressing a girl; Nina Ricci is about dressing a woman. I’m constantly asking myself who this woman is. She’s tough and confident, with a French attitude that goes beyond mere rock ’n’ roll. I don’t want Nina Ricci to be cute, but elegant and sophisticated, which doesn’t necessarily mean an older audience. I don’t feel comfortable with the word “mature” – but rather, a woman who knows herself.

We see a sexy, bold, almost-street look, which is very different from Peter Copping and even more distinct from the past. How important is heritage to you? Do you have plans to retain or reject anything? 

I view brands as being like people, so this is about my relation with Nina Ricci as a woman – the brand and the historical person. The heritage of this brand is fragile fabrics; like most French couture, it was at its peak in the 1950s and ’60s, a period I love. When I put myself behind a brand, I’m not the same person with every brand. I don’t have very commercial plans, but this new chapter will be honest with a sense of femininity, seduction and poetry. But without sweetness, which is not in my vocabulary. 

Which celebrities would the Nina Ricci woman identify with? 

I have a little problem with celebrities; they’re demanding and many don’t have stable careers. My admiration for celebrities isn’t limited to living people, however. Romy Schneider, for example, is a true Nina Ricci woman; strong and feminine, yet vulnerable. She could elicit emotions merely by nonchalantly putting on a coat. The Nina Ricci woman is like a bird – free in spirit, and elegant but sometimes scary. 

What were your bestsellers for AW 2015? And could you talk us through your second delivery, SS 2016, and its potential bestsellers? 

My first collection was loaded with coats, which sold very well, although Nina Ricci was never known for its coats. But for me, a coat is practically a dress. You can wear nothing underneath and be feminine without a bias cut. My sequinned red dress [pictured left] did exceptionally well in Hong Kong. It’s a little loose and shiny, but very easy to wear. I’m hoping everything in SS 2016 will sell, but my bet is on anything made in paperweight laser-cut leather with a shine. Fabrics evoke emotions for me. Mixing design and the use of fabrics is an important process. I used to concentrate on shape and proportion, but today I like texture and the creation of contrast, because it reflects human nature. 

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Could you explain what l’air du temps – the spirit of the times – captures in terms of the brand’s history and your collections?

L’air du temps captures what is going on today, but without creating something that’s only valid for a season. I’m working with the concept that, in five years, you should still be able to be wear a coat that you buy today. Today, women don’t necessarily dress up formally. Even at big events, they want to be comfortable and ready to move and dance. That is l’air du temps – and that’s what I like when I think of cocktail and evening dresses. 

How do you feel about your current position and its challenges? 

Working for a brand is like a love affair or sharing your life with someone. I fell in love with the Nina Ricci brand, and now I am the face and voice of the brand. My story is like a relationship, where at the beginning it’s exciting. But to be truly fluid, you need time and understanding. 

I never ask what will be next, but hope it will be forever. There are many options in the market and if a woman chooses yours, it’s priceless. My products are like babies. I tell myself stories when I’m building a collection. 

What kind of stories?

I always start with a story, but then focus on a particular scenario or image. For spring/summer, I had a flash of inspiration with Romy Schneider’s look in Max et les Ferrailleurs [Max and the Junkmen, 1971]. She dressed with no rules and looked different, but a little off and removed – in a good way. That is real life. You don’t sing the same song every day. One day you make an effort, another day you don’t. It isn’t a question of opposites, but contrasts.

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Brimming with Pride: Masterful Millinery


After being relegated to the shadows for many decades, hats are coming back into the spotlight

Brimming with Pride: Masterful Millinery


After being relegated to the shadows for many decades, hats are coming back into the spotlight

Lifestyle > Fashion



Brimming with Pride

December 22, 2015 / by Timothy Chui

 

One of Europe’s top milliners is hoping to make her mark in China’s rapidly maturing fashion scene. Awon Golding is cultivating a fervent fanbase in China, Korea and Japan after establishing her brand in Europe, the US and Australia. A supplier of fine headwear for Lady Gaga (among others) and the winner of the 2013 Hat Designer of the Year competition, Golding calls China the new frontier for bespoke and one-of-a-kind hats.

“There’s so much potential for fashion and couture,” the Hong Kong-born, London-based milliner says. “There are long-established horse racing scenes in the UK and Australia, which go hand in hand with larger, more far-out pieces, while North America demands more smart-casual offerings such as fedoras. The Chinese are more comfortable taking risks in terms of fashion, looking for a more novel look.” Golding believes quirky cocktail pieces will sell especially well in China, as more women (and men) push the boundaries of being well dressed while paying closer attention to quality and innovation. 

Still far from everyday wear, hats are increasingly cropping up among the stylish set, driven forward by tastemakers at international publications as well as fast-fashion stores. Fedoras, trilbies and floppy sun hats are now seasonal regulars on the racks at H&M. Boaters are set to be the next trend, according to Golding, with their cleaner lines and versatility for day, night and event wear.

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While mass-produced hats are within the reach of most shoppers, the transition to a quality bespoke piece of headwear is a divide that many seem unwilling to cross. The common refrain that hats simply don’t suit a particular person is a total fallacy, Golding believes, and breaking through that wall is merely a matter of trying on a variety until you find one that suits you. “Hats make you stand out and are a great way of pulling an outfit together,” she explains. “It literally tops off an entire outfit.”

Golding continues, “Hats help create visual lines to suit one’s style and height. Shorter people should avoid massive hats and opt for something smaller with an upward sweep. The Queen of England’s personal selections show a favour for awkward sweeping hats, which fit her height and draw attention to her face, while China’s first lady Peng Liyuan would look splendid in a pillbox: it’s small enough to show off her beautiful lacquer-like hair while matching her very modern style.”

Celebrated milliner Philip Treacy says, “People, when they buy a hat, they can’t explain why they want to buy it or why they want it – but they do. It’s like chocolate.” Meanwhile, Golding thinks it’s simply a desire for something beautiful, not unlike picking flowers. “People want something beautiful in their lives,” she says, noting that, once acquired, a taste for hats can be quite habit-forming, on a par with shoe and handbag addictions.

Conversion comes quickly, according to Elizabeth Gomersall. She’s a former corporate finance lawyer, diplomatic wife and now the proprietor of Hong Kong’s only dedicated high-end hat store – and has transitioned into a daily hat wearer after eschewing them for many years. Steering her Central boutique through huge rental hikes over the past five years, she has bid farewell to no small number of neighbouring tenants, but retains a small, dedicated globetrotting clientele.

Golding calls Gomersall’s store one of two of the most carefully curated hat shops in the world. It’s stocked with adornments selected on creative merit and a seasonal pilgrimage for her loyal patrons, made up of affluent locals and Westerners alike.

An emerging class of affluent young Chinese are also drawn to the boutique by word of mouth; it has earned favour among rising stars such as 26-year-old C-pop sensation Sean Chen Xiang, who has posted photos with numerous hats on his Weibo account.

Gomersall’s wares are gathered from more than a dozen world-renowned milliners, including Golding. One of the most expensive is a HK$36,000 parrot-themed headdress by J Smith Esquire, the hat designer for Disney’s Maleficent.

Once ubiquitous indicators of social class and importance, hats have largely been relegated to posh weddings and important horse racing events in modern times. The manager of Stockport’s Hat Works museum in the UK, Christine Smith, attributes the decline of hats to the motor car doing away with the need to keep the weather off, while post-war attitudes eroded badges of status such as the banker’s bowler or the labourer’s cap.

Gomersall’s daughter, Cordelia Bradley, a UK-trained milliner, believes the counterculture’s embrace of more varied hairstyles also did away with the hat, while a multi-billion dollar haircare services industry has cemented people’s beliefs that one’s coiffure should be shown off.

Despite this, hats have been making a comeback in recent years, helped along by a wealth of trendsetting Instagrammers and cultural events such as Prince William and Kate Middleton’s 2011 wedding, which had a marked effect on sales, Gomersall says.

“Practical for keeping the sun off the face while staying cool in the summer or warm in the winter, hats are ultimately about making a statement,” she says. “It’s right on your head, quite prominent and almost impossible not to make a statement when wearing one.”

All images: ©HatwomanAwon Golding Millinery

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Nordic Nuances: Finnish Designers


Pre Helsinki is an intriguing platform that strives to promote emerging Finnish fashion talent abroad and help designers build international relationships. The work of these creative minds is visually, conceptually and experimentally driven

Nordic Nuances: Finnish Designers


Pre Helsinki is an intriguing platform that strives to promote emerging Finnish fashion talent abroad and help designers build international relationships. The work of these creative minds is visually, conceptually and experimentally driven

Lifestyle > Fashion



Nordic Nuances

December 22, 2015 / by Mary Kathleen Sutherland


SATU MAARANEN

This designer specialises in hand-painted prints and sculptural shapes; she focuses on made-to-order pieces and commissions

What’s more important to you, style or fabric?

I would say the fabric. It’s the most important component from which the product is constructed. Everything starts from research and conceptualisation. Then comes the fabric – materials, colours, prints and certain techniques. After these, I start thinking about the shapes, finish or cut I should use, so that they combine with the concept.

 

What inspires you every season? 

Nature. I always mix something from nature with something unexpected. Recently, for example, I used ’60s space age and ’70s psychedelia. I use nature as a starting point, but in an abstract way.

 

The pieces you brought to Hong Kong are extremely colourful, almost like paintings on canvas. How important are colours to you? And are your collections always like that?

My collections are usually colourful, but I’m also adept at toning down the colours if needed when doing commissioned work for various clients. For me, it’s important to create interesting colour combinations. I might mix natural tones, such as sand or mud brown, with neon pink. Or maybe forest green with salmon orange.

 

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Tell us about your co-branding project with Exception de Mixmind in China. 

We started cooperating together a year ago. I’ve designed the prints for their main collection for the last three seasons. The first prints for the autumn/winter 2015 collection, developed for jacquards, knits and embroideries, are in L’Exception stores already. They’re stocked at more than 100 stores in China, and used in jackets, skirts and dresses. I’m very happy with the collaboration. This season, I’ve used the Miao culture as an influence. I learned so much about Chinese culture at the same time; its beautiful visual history amazes me. The best part is that I get to use it as inspiration to design something contemporary.

 


ENSÆMBLE

The love child of Alisa Närvänen and Elina Peltonen, this label delivers a dark, poetic atmosphere infused with a sense of play


Your inspiration comes from the most unusual concepts. Could you explain your thought process?

For us, inspirations are intertwined, whether as knots, shamans or clothing – as a huge wrapping. Sometimes we know exactly what it is we want to achieve. We begin testing ideas, revising them and repeating experiments. This is an exciting process because we don’t know the end result beforehand. Things tend to reveal themselves in unexpected ways. 

What inspires you every season? 

Some things that consistently inspire us are ideas of clothing – how to research what clothing is about. Also other art forms, such as photography, video installations and performance, which have from the very beginning been a part of our sartorial practice. 

Is style or fabric more important to you? 

Material is very important. Its tactile qualities are of primary importance; this comes before what it looks like. We also tend to experiment more with materials, as we base our silhouettes on consistent ideas of wrapping, layering and the comfort of wearing them. However, in some cases, the way the garment is constructed can be essential, too. For our latest garment project, we made an outfit from a single piece of fabric almost six metres long.

How important are colours and prints? You seem to focus more on texture.

We like anti-colours – different broken tones of greens, blues, blacks, whites, beiges and metallics. We’ve tried bright colours as well, but for some reason they don’t feel very natural. The emphasis is definitely more on texture and structures, which we most often create by hand.


SOFIA JÄRNEFELT 

This Helsinki-based freelance womenswear designer specialises in jersey and cut-and-sew knits with clean, simple lines


What’s more important to you, style or fabric?

I don’t think you can really separate the two. Style and fabric go hand in hand, and in my opinion, one cannot exist without the other. With minimalists such as me, designing clean-lined fabric is one of the most important elements of the style. So, they really do go hand in hand.


What inspires you every season? 

When I look at my designs, I can see that each season there is a reduction of detail. It really fascinates me how far you can go with that without making a piece of clothing boring or basic. To have that one thing that defines it as a “must-have” item, whether it’s the fabric or the cut, the way a garment is finished or a small detail. So, I can say that minimalism inspires me from season to season.


How important are colours and prints to you?

Colours are very important; so is the knowledge of which shades work with which fabrics. Choosing the colours for a season is one of my favourite aspects of design. It’s essential to understand how to use big-scale prints so they are still flattering on the body. It’s easy for things to go wrong.

 

Why did you choose to work with jersey and cut-and-sew knits? 

I don’t think I really chose it – it just came to me. I was working on my master’s degree, researching the idea of slow fashion from the perspective of the consumer. Ultimately, it was all about which fabrics and colours calm people down. So, I ended up using a lot of jersey as it feels comfortable on the skin. Because that was my thesis work, it defined me as a designer.

 

 


JUSLIN MAUNULA

A collaboration between fashion designer Laura Juslin and architect Lilli Maunula, the brand creates clothing, accessories and installations


Lilli Maunula is an architect – that’s quite an unusual match for a fashion designer. How did this partnership arise, and how does the interplay work between the two of you? 

We have mutual interests in each other’s fields. I’ve always been interested in architecture and it inspires for my collections. Also we see our brand as going beyond wearable products, being more of a full three-dimensional experience, including the products and the space created around them. 

 

You also work with a Finland-based Taiwanese designer, Huang Ting-yun.

I’ve been working with her for a long time. She’s a highly talented designer, a technical expert. Her knowledge of patterns and sewing has been invaluable to the collection. As she is also a designer, her unique eye and attention to detail brings garments to life. 

 

What inspires you every season? 

I build stories. They can come from anywhere. All my collections are based on strong stories or theories. Collections draw theories from other fields of art, such as architecture, or might tell the story of an adventurer. As a native of southern Finland’s coastal region, I love the sea. I could spend all my time by the sea. That’s where the information in my head connects along new pathways to inspire me. Being so isolated from the cities of fashion allows me to develop my design by myself, without the constant influence of other designers. In the design process, a rich and rambling palette of ideas crystallises into a strong concept.

 

What's ultimately more important to you – style or fabric?

A strong, cohesive concept or story is the most important thing behind any collection. This includes photos, presentations and so forth, and then the fabric. We really pay attention to high-quality materials. We merge functional minimalism with unconventional elements and the experimental use of materials. The materials bring a twist to clean, classic lines.


Images: Ensæmble ©Chris Filippini and Ensæmble; Satu Maaranen and Juslin Maunala ©Diana Luganski; Sofia Järnefelt ©Marimekko



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Dresses of the Century: Arthur Dreyfus


Fashion denotes who we are and how our tastes evolve. Yet what we think of as new has often been reappropriated or inspired by previous generations. French writer Arthur Dreyfus envisaged a simple, elegant book on the history of modern fashion over the last 100 years, using trendsetting pieces of clothing and poetic phrases. We spoke to him about his labour of love – Defining Dresses: A Century of Fashion.

Dresses of the Century: Arthur Dreyfus


Fashion denotes who we are and how our tastes evolve. Yet what we think of as new has often been reappropriated or inspired by previous generations. French writer Arthur Dreyfus envisaged a simple, elegant book on the history of modern fashion over the last 100 years, using trendsetting pieces of clothing and poetic phrases. We spoke to him about his labour of love – Defining Dresses: A Century of Fashion.

Lifestyle > Fashion


The fabrics that are new this year are, to our great surprise, quite as rich in quality, as delicate and varied in hue, and as perfectly supple as those in use before the war ruined our northern mills, and paralyzed the Lyon dyeing factories owing to the absence of the workers. Coline, “Élégances parisiennes. Tissus nouveaux,” La femme de france, September 12, 1915 Mariano Fortuny Delphos evening gown, c. 1910–15 (haute couture). Pleated silk satin, Murano glass beads, white silk cord, silk.

The fabrics that are new this year are, to our great surprise, quite as rich in quality, as delicate and varied in hue, and as perfectly supple as those in use before the war ruined our northern mills, and paralyzed the Lyon dyeing factories owing to the absence of the workers.

Coline, “Élégances parisiennes. Tissus nouveaux,” La femme de france, September 12, 1915

Mariano Fortuny

Delphos evening gown, c. 1910–15 (haute couture). Pleated silk satin, Murano glass beads, white silk cord, silk.


Dresses of the Century

November 20, 2015 / by Natacha Riva

 

How and why did the idea for this book come to you?

I was frequently collaborating with the French Vogue, interviewing models or actors, and realised I didn’t know much about the history of fashion. I dreamed of a simple yet elegant book that would explain everything through stunning pieces of clothing and poetic phrases – so I created it!

During your research, what was the biggest discovery you made?

That season after season, nothing is completely new. Though newness seems to be the vital fuel of fashion, designers are constantly inspired by their predecessors. Fashion has its crazy, sober or baroque phases that recur every 30 or 40 years.

What strikes you most about the world of fashion in its evolution compared to 100 years ago?

I would say that two dimensions have changed over the century: humour and quotes. 1960s fashion lost its bulky 

seriousness and, with the emergence of pop art, designers started to reference other forms of art in their creations.

Futuristic retro design and metallic elements create a woman-as-armor. A kind of chic android, like something out of Robocop. A look back to the future as imagined in the 1980s, inspired by the 1940s. Get the picture? Jérôme Hanover, Sylvie Maysonnave, Patrick Cabasset, L’Officiel supplément, no. 912, 2007 Dolce & Gabbana Evening gown, prototype created by Hubert Barrère, 2007, Spring–Summer collection (ready-to-wear). Chromed lambskin, polyester resin, organza.

Futuristic retro design and metallic elements create a woman-as-armor.
A kind of chic android, like something out of Robocop. A look back to the future as imagined in the 1980s, inspired by the 1940s. Get the picture?

Jérôme Hanover, Sylvie Maysonnave, Patrick Cabasset, L’Officiel supplément, no. 912, 2007

Dolce & Gabbana

Evening gown, prototype created by Hubert Barrère, 2007, Spring–Summer collection (ready-to-wear). Chromed lambskin, polyester resin, organza.

The book itself is a work of art; there’s something very interactive about it. How did you come up with this unique concept?

I had the chance to create this book with Philippe Apeloig, one of the top graphic designers today – his work is shown in museums. My main desire was simplicity: reading this book had to be a smooth and natural journey.

What’s the dress that surprised you most and why?

The 2012 Comme des Garçons dress, because it looks like a children’s game, made with crayons and stickers. Besides, it’s a dress within a dress, as if to remind us that there’s a dream – a fantasy – hidden behind every dress.

Do you think dresses made women evolve, or was it women who made fashion evolve?

It’s women that have made dresses evolve. Women’s habits, rights, new tastes and influences have had a huge impact on the way they dress. Nevertheless, some designers may have provoked change, such as Paco Rabanne, who in 1968 imagined a metallic dress, so as to give birth to a new type of “warrior woman”…

Why do you think nowadays people look at old dresses and marvel at the nostalgia?

Nostalgia is as ancient as the idea of time. Humans have always been fascinated by the past and its cultural references. Maybe futurism becomes trendy when what’s behind us seems more comforting than what’s coming up. But beauty is eternal.

Couture has always looked to distant horizons for its inspiration. . . Fortunately, exoticism in Paris has never been a form of a disguise; and French couturiers through the history of couture have always succeeded in interpreting it . . . to such an extent that they made Parisian dresses out of it. Pierre Balmain, interview broadcast on French TV channel TF1, July 25, 1976 Pierre Balmain Suit-coat, 1977, winter collection (haute couture). Dyed ostrich skin, silk taffeta.

Couture has always looked to distant horizons for its inspiration. . . Fortunately, exoticism in Paris has never been a form of a disguise; and French couturiers through the history of couture have always succeeded in interpreting it . . . to such an extent that they made Parisian dresses out of it.

Pierre Balmain, interview broadcast on French TV channel TF1, July 25, 1976

Pierre Balmain

Suit-coat, 1977, winter collection (haute couture). Dyed ostrich skin, silk taffeta.

© Photo Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris / Jean Tholance, All Rights Reserved/Defining Dress book cover photo: Edmond Tang

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Man About Town: Gentlemen’s Tailoring


Awash in a sea of slob-chic? Never fear: there’s still space this season for the sharply tailored gent

Man About Town: Gentlemen’s Tailoring


Awash in a sea of slob-chic? Never fear: there’s still space this season for the sharply tailored gent

Lifestyle > Fashion



Man About Town

November 20, 2015 / by Babette Radclyffe

For the elegant urban gent, the recent rise of streetwear-inspired sport luxe on runways and streets worldwide might make it seem like tailored menswear is losing its allure. But never fear: the trim, tailored man about town can still get his sartorial fix thanks to another autumn/winter 2015 trend; city tailoring.

Layers in a rich range of deep berry and Bordeaux hues are key, whether it’s knitwear under a tailored jacket or winter coat, or fine knits layered over polo necks. Hermès seamlessly combines traditional pinstripes with an athletic, sporty vibe, seen in sports jackets matched with tailored trousers, and jumpers with elasticated hems layered on top of polo necks. King of cashmere Loro Piana proves why it’s the go-to label for knitwear, combining maroon knits with loose navy tailoring for relaxed, stylish ensembles.

Berluti’s dark-hued collection perfectly encapsulates the smart urban look, with youthful takes on classic pieces and silhouettes. Tailored trousers are paired with this season’s key items, polo necks and knitwear. Delicate scarves offer a neckwear alternative, and are both seasonal and stylish when paired with ribbed knitwear from Jack Wills.

For those looking for more structured silhouettes, Valentino offers sharp suits in greys and light browns while Dege & Skinner’s checked cornflower suit serves up Savile Row elegance for the weekend. Favourbrook’s take on traditional tailoring pairs a double-breasted waistcoat in beige and cream with a crisp open-neck white shirt and rolled-up sleeves for a more casual look. 

Accessories complete the look: suede boots, leather bags and scarves tied à la Berluti’s boys. For more than 150 years luxury bootmaker John Lobb has been creating bespoke shoes for men, and its Bordeaux-coloured ankle boot is a chic choice in this season’s key rich colour palette. Santoni’s buckled suede ankle boots offer a more fashion-forward option, while Marks & Spencer is a go-to for classic footwear. Louis Vuitton and Alexander McQueen’s patterned scarves come with skulls and Christopher Nemeth’s chic illustrations. Nemeth’s rope graphics adorn a wide range of bags, too, from youthful backpacks to classic cases.

This season, suiting isn't confined to the office; instead, off-duty city tailoring completes the man-about-town look.

Images: courtesy of Hermès, Louis Vitton, Marks & Spencer, Jack Wills, Loro Piana, Berluti, Dege & Skinner, Alexander McQueen; credit: Santoni, Valentino

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Eiffel of Style: The Parisian Gentleman


The French appreciation for bespoke elegance and refinement shines through in a new book

Eiffel of Style: The Parisian Gentleman


The French appreciation for bespoke elegance and refinement shines through in a new book

Lifestyle > Fashion



Eiffel of Style

September 25, 2015 / by James Oliver

“As the African proverb says: When an old master dies, a library burns. Thanks in part to the relentless passion and publicity Jacomet gives them, Parisian master shoe, shirt and suit-makers now have a new generation of fledgling dandies at their doors

“This book is here to right a wrong,” declares Hugo Jacomet in the introduction to his handsomely illustrated title The Parisian Gentleman. Received wisdom says Paris leads the world in dressing the female of the species and London’s Savile Row the male. But Jacomet argues that Parisian haute couture has cast a long shadow over the French capital’s history as a home to makers of quality bespoke suits and gentlemen’s requisites.

Paris couldn’t have hoped for a more dashing cavalier than Monsieur Jacomet to defend the honour of national treasures like Charvet, Moynat, Berluti and Guerlain, who for generations have proven that there’s more to male sartorial elegance than English tailoring. He has the right credentials, too; a film director and founder of the Parisian Gentleman blog, he is grandson of Maxime Jacomet, a shoemaker and cobbler from Deux-Sèvres, a rural area of western France, and son of Janick Jacomet, a Parisian seamstress.

The French Revolution of 1789 was an undeniable gift to the master tailors of London but it’s a myth that Savile Row is somehow still engaged in a Napoleonic War with Paris and Naples for title of world’s finest cutter of cloth. There always has been an entente cordiale between the master craftsmen of Paris and London, an understanding that such parochial attitudes would be an anathema to men who pride themselves on their manner and mode of dress.

The philosophy of French gentlemen’s attire is distinctive from the affected carelessness of the English aristocrat or the swaggering sprezzatura of Italy’s peacock males. An English lord would draw attention to his frayed Turnbull & Asser shirt cuffs as a badge of honour, and boast that his John Lobb oxfords are older than his children. The other extreme of the sartorial scale would have contempt for a fellow Italian who wasn’t as pristine as the promenade of Porto Ercole. The Parisian male’s appreciation for refinement is studied and acquired rather than inherited, and his style walks the line between tradition and flamboyance.

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The Parisian Gentleman not only follows in the footsteps of style icons, but also shares the secrets of famed ateliers such as eyewear maker Maison Bonnet, which framed the faces of Yves Saint Laurent, Le Corbusier and IM Pei; Guerlain, court perfumer to Emperor Napoleon III and the Empress Eugénie; Berluti, the Duke of Windsor’s shoemaker; and Charvet, whose shirts, ties and silk pyjamas graced the wardrobes of King Edward VII, Marcel Proust, Claude Monet, Oscar Wilde, Serge Diaghilev, Fred Astaire, Cecil Beaton, Jean Cocteau and John F Kennedy.

This book is more than mere nostalgia, a remembrance of things past or an elegy for dying trades. Jacomet’s commentary and Andy Julia’s photography celebrate a renaissance of the Parisian bespoke trade, with ateliers reporting year-on-year increases in demand of as much as 30% for individual handcrafted pieces. Jacomet might support independent maisons such as Camps de Luca, Simonnot-Godard and Francesco Smalto, but he pragmatically acknowledges that without the investment of LVMH, the jewels in its portfolio, Moynat, Berluti and Louis Vuitton, wouldn’t have the resources to meet demand.

As the African proverb says, “When an old master dies, a library burns”. Thanks in part to the relentless passion and publicity Jacomet gives them, Parisian master shoe, shirt and suit-makers now have a new generation of fledgling dandies at their doors.

As Jacomet writes: “This book does not provide a complete list of all the great maisons in Paris that deal in classic men’s style. It is rather the outcome of years of fastidious work, a tribute to these large or small-scale firms, world-famous or unknown, that keep creating luxurious suits, shoes and shirts, trunks and ties, perfumes, spectacles and handkerchiefs that stand out as the most beautiful in the world. It is also a tribute to the men and women in tailors’, shoemakers’ and trunk-makers’ workshops who anonymously produce exquisite articles (sometimes destined to sport an illustrious brand name) that express the extent of their skill and the depth of their very soul.”

The Parisian Gentleman by Hugo Jacomet, with photographs by Andy Julia, is published on October 19 by Thames & Hudson. (thamesandhudson.com)

All photographs ©Andy Julia; Le Mouchoir de Monsieur and Voilette de Madame: photograph ©Patrimoine Guerlain

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Timeless Tuxedos & Signature Sharp Suits


A small street in London that has written itself into fashion history, Savile Row continues to offer a range of suave tailoring choices to the cognoscenti with an eye for tradition

Timeless Tuxedos & Signature Sharp Suits


A small street in London that has written itself into fashion history, Savile Row continues to offer a range of suave tailoring choices to the cognoscenti with an eye for tradition

Lifestyle > Fashion


Timeless Tuxedos and Signature Sharp Suits

November 20, 2015 / by Babette Radclyffe

When picturing the archetype of a suave gentleman, it’s hard not to think of Sean Connery as an immaculately attired James Bond sipping a martini, shaken, not stirred – and of course wearing a sharp suit or a timeless tuxedo.

Ian Fleming portrayed his 007 buying his signature suits on one of the most important streets in global fashion history, London’s Savile Row. The Row has not only been a bastion of bespoke tailoring for the past two centuries, but one of its oldest tailors, Henry Poole & Co, also played a leading role in the creation of the tuxedo. The most famous story about the emergence of the tux involves a wealthy tobacco magnate’s son from New York State’s Tuxedo Park, Pierre Lorillard IV. Inspired by a dinner jacket designed by Henry Poole for the Prince of Wales, he decided to do away with the traditional long tailcoat, wearing his new short jacket to the Tuxedo Club’s first annual ball in 1886. Lorillard started a fashion revolution for men’s eveningwear and the tuxedo soon became a classic, the name of the small village where it made its debut famous the world over.  

Savile Row continues to serve tasteful tailoring to discerning gentlemen. Housed at arguably the most prestigious address at No.1, Gieves & Hawkes offers a autumn/winter collection full of rich textures and a sophisticated colour palette, perfectly embodying the trend of understated luxury. Another Savile Row icon, Dege & Skinner, draws on its 150-year heritage to produce a range of traditional tuxedos as well as beautiful velvet smoking jackets, fit for any gentlemen’s club.   

Alexander McQueen also worked on Savile Row, notoriously sewing profanities into the lining of a jacket destined for Prince Charles, and the menswear brand that bears his name continues to offer quirky alternatives to classic evening wear with items such as knotted skull cufflinks with crystal eye details.

No eveningwear ensemble would be complete without a fine timepiece and a pair of slick shoes. FP Journe, with a reputation for creating complex horological creations, is the only watchmaker to make its movements in 18-karat rose gold, and its Chronometre Souverain and Grand Sonnerie watches are the ideal evening wrist accompaniments. Santoni’s luxury leather shoes, completely handmade by Italian artisans, run the gamut from the classic to the innovative, and are the perfect way to complete the 007 look.

Images: courtesy of Philip Plein, F.P.Journe, Dege & Skinner, Alexander McQueen; credit: Santoni; Daniel Craig:Casino Royale ©2006 Danjaq, LLC and United Artists Corporation and Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc; Sean Connery:Dr No ©1962 Danjaq, LLC and United Artists Corporation. 

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Anything Goes: AW15 Trends


With everything from gothic glam to geek chic, there are few rules this season

Anything Goes: AW15 Trends


With everything from gothic glam to geek chic, there are few rules this season

Lifestyle > Fashion



Anything Goes

August 28, 2015 / by Babette Radclyffe

With female models starring in menswear shows earlier this year, and womenswear design details taking the menswear collections this season by storm, the genderless look is fast appearing as a contender for the future of fashion. From kaleidoscopic prints and ’70s shearling to Victoriana and geek chic, here is the lowdown on the key trends for both womenswear and menswear this autumn-winter season.

Last season’s key ’70s trend is here to stay as this season's womenswear collections took a folky turn. Valentino showcased floor-length patchwork fur jackets and continued the theme with delicate, high-collared dresses covered in multi-coloured lace. Derek Zoolander and Hansel, AKA Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson of cult fashion film Zoolander even made an appearance, closing the Valentino runway with their best Blue Steel poses.

Lanvin’s sweeping gowns were paired with fur-trimmed gilets, jackets and plenty of tassels. Chloé’s patchwork poncho perfectly embodied the trend in a collection full of floating boho-babe gowns.

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Balmain's collection mined another decade for its inspiration. Balmain’s models, who read like a who’s who of the hottest names around, took to the catwalks in a collection full of ’80s bright hues, one-shouldered dresses, layers of ruffles and huge waist belts.

Vivid colours and bold prints continued to splash across both womenswear and menswear catwalks. Christian Dior presented a plethora of prints, showing abstract animal prints paired with thigh-high uber-sexy vinyl boots as well as print-covered bodycon suits. Animal prints made an appearance in Burberry Prorsum men’s collection, which was also a playground of paisley. Prints also took pride of place in its womenswear collection, a carnival of colour aptly named Patchwork, Pattern and Prints. London fash pack darling Christopher Kane used striking scarlet and cobalt blue velvet naked silhouettes, while checks appeared as key patterns for menswear this season too: subtle squares were seen at Salvatore Ferragamo men and Giorgio Armani, where models took the runway as couples.

The top texture this season was a feel-me fluffiness, seen across womenswear and menswear collections. Models were nearly engulfed by fuzz, such as Louis Vuitton’s huge brushed-sheepskin coats, which opened a stellar women’s show, and Stella McCartney’s “fur-free fur” coats made snuggly look stylish. 

A distinctly ’70s shearling appeared on catwalks from London to Milan, such as in Sonia Rykiel’s shearling-lined navy pea coat. It took a shorter turn for menswear, with waist-length versions seen at Valentino, Fendi and Jil Sander.

A stark contrast from the fluffiness was the sombre look of Victoriana. 

Alexander McQueen’s women’s collection took a darkly romantic twist with an Edward Scissorhands vibe, closing the collection with a distressed lace gown. Thom Browne’s collection might have been inspired by the exhibition of Victorian mourning clothes Death Becomes Her but the collection was full of contemporary-cool pieces such as a zippered mini-skirt paired with Chelsea boots. Givenchy’s sombrely seductive collection with eye-catching facial jewellery and baby curls was reminiscent of fashion’s It girl of the moment, musician FKA Twigs, and featured exquisitely made corsetry, velvets and contemporary tailoring.

A 180˚ turn from gothic glam saw the emergence of the girl of Wes Anderson’s dreams. A Margot Tenenbaum-inspired glamourous geek took to the runways at Gucci with new head designer 

Alessandro Michele at the helm, while Prada’s pastel-coloured collection included cutesy two-piece suits, ponytails and kitsch jewellery. Burberry Prorsum’s spectacle-clad male models had a bookish charm and Sonia Rykiel added a normcore spin to a metallic mini-dress by layering it on top of a polo-neck. 

Polo-necks were also a key item in menswear collections. Seen paired with both urban tailoring and sport luxe-inspired garb at Hermès and Berluti, polo-necks were a basic item for this season’s key trend of layering, with layers draped, piled up and wrapped, and a mid-layer even introduced by Givenchy. Coats came in couples at Lanvin and Dries Van Noten, who layered two coats and a kilt on top of trousers.

Men's outerwear also went into the wild, with animal print leaving the jungle and running wild across the catwalks. Saint Laurent paired zebra-print coats with skin-tight leather trousers, while Calvin Klein Collection took a more subtle approach with grey hues.

Gender neutrality emerged as a key trend for menswear, with JW Anderson using cuffs from his womenswear collections to adorn men’s shirts, Gucci playing with delicate bows on crimson blouses for men and Rick Owens’ models wearing notoriously revealing draped tunics. Whether its ’70s boho, gothic glam or geek chic, trends are crossing gender lines and fashion is embracing gender fluidity this season.

From left to right, Womenswear AW15: Givenchy, Lanvin, Valentino, Gucci, Balmain; Menswear AW15: Valentino, Gucci, Givenchy, Calvin Klein Collection

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...And God Created Woman: Brigitte Bardot


Brigitte Bardot and the groundbreaking Vichy dress

...And God Created Woman: Brigitte Bardot


Brigitte Bardot and the groundbreaking Vichy dress

Lifestyle > Fashion



...And God Created Woman

August 28, 2015 / by Scarlett Thomas

Bombshell beauty Brigitte Bardot is without doubt one of the most enduring sex symbols of the ’50s and ’60s. A talented actress, singer and model, Brigitte Bardot, AKA BB, not only symbolised the youthful, liberated beauty of post-war France but also made a stylish mark on global fashion. The curvaceous star’s most iconic outfit, her Vichy wedding dress by designer Jacques Esterel, gave the Vichy dress an international fashion platform and spurred countless imitations. Produced in Europe since the 18th century, the Vichy dress, made of a material popularly known as gingham, got its first notable silver-screen outing in 1939 when Judy Garland, as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, with adorable pigtails and toy dog Toto to match, wore an iconic gingham dress in blue and white as she skipped across the big screen. Two decades later in the balmy summer of ’59, Bardot chose a pink and white gingham dress with lace trim to wed her actor beau Jacques Charrier.

Bardot’s choice of such a summery, youthful dress, in contrast to traditional structured white gowns, was ground-breaking; gingham has since been used to adorn countless garments, often in a tricolour of hues. Pay homage to one of the greats of French cinema and global beauty by opting for gingham.

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