Fashion Features

Kate Middleton, the Princess of Green Luxury in Boston

Kate Middleton, the Princess of Green Luxury in Boston

LONDON — The Prince and Princess of Wales came, saw and spread their message of sustainability, throughout Boston.
The British royal couple’s three-day trip to the city started on Wednesday, an on Friday Prince William presented the Earthshot Prize for sustainability at the MGM Music Hall at Fenway.

The lead-up to the Earthshot Prize was a test of Kate Middleton and William’s patience and future regality. 

The prince’s godmother and Queen Elizabeth II’s longest-serving lady-in-waiting, Lady Susan Hussey, resigned on Wednesday after a racist confrontation with Ngozi Fulani, founder of the charity Sistah Space, a domestic abuse organization that caters to women and girls of African and Caribbean heritage.

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On Thursday, Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex released a trailer for their six-episode documentary series “Harry & Meghan” that will be coming to Netflix in December.

However, the Waleses stuck to royal protocol — never complaining, never explaining.

Kate Middleton arriving in Boston wearing Alexander McQueen.

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Kate arrived at Boston’s Logan Airport on a commercial flight wearing a tailored Alexander McQueen suit in a deep navy in an identical style to one she wore in September when meeting sailors from HMS Glasgow. 

The princess nodded to her later mother-in-law Princess Diana with her sapphire and diamond earrings that she wore in 1985 to dance with John Travolta at the White House. The earrings resemble Kate’s engagement ring and were debuted in June at the Trooping the Colour ceremony.

Kate Middleton wearing Burberry in Boston.

News Licensing / MEGA

On Wednesday afternoon, Kate went for English labels. She changed into a custom Burberry dress in green tartan that paid respect to St. Andrew’s Day. She carried a new Mulberry handbag, the Amberley satchel, and wore chunky gold earrings by Shyla London.

Kate and William attended a Boston Celtics versus Miami Heat game that same evening, where the princess re-wore vintage cobalt blue tweed Chanel jacket with black trimmings and buttons from 1995, which was modeled by Claudia Schiffer on the runway at the time. The jacket retails for more than 6,000 pounds on Farfetch. She accessorized with another new pair of earrings by Shyla London and a chunky Laura Lombardi chain necklace.

Kate Middleton wearing Chanel in Boston.

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The double-breasted blazer resembles Princess Diana’s blue double-breasted Chanel jacket that she wore on a visit to Peterborough, England, in 1991 and re-wore in 1992 to the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children.

The blue-hued jacket was also referenced in Pablo Larraín’s critically acclaimed film “Spencer,” which the French luxury house provided the costumes for.

On Thursday, the princess opted for a plum Roland Mouret two-piece suit, and Prince William coordinated his jumper for a visit to both Greentown Labs, a sustainability company, and Roca, a nonprofit for at-risk youth.

Kate Middleton wearing a Roland Mouret suit and carrying a Chanel handbag in Boston.

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Kate carried her Chanel Nouvelle Flap Bag, which she first wore in Paris in 2017.

The couple met with Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, the first woman and the first person of color to be elected to that city’s post, to hear about how the city is combating rising sea levels.

Kate Middleton wearing Alexander McQueen and Gabriela Hearst in Boston.

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Kate wore a double-breasted Alexander McQueen coat that retails for around 4,000 pounds with a two piece knit turtleneck and skirt from eco designer Gabriela Hearst.

On the last day of Kate and William’s trip, the princess visited Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child wearing a custom Emilia Wickstead dress with a Mulberry Harlow Satchel bag and earrings from London designer Lenique Louis, who is a Prince’s Trust ambassador.

Kate Middleton wearing Emilia Wickstead in Boston.

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Kate and William’s “wow” moment came at the end of their trip at the Earthshot Prize ceremony, where the princess wore an off-the-shoulder acid green dress by Solace London from the rental platform Hurr. The rental price for the dress starts at 74 pounds a day, and it retails for 350 pounds.

Kate Middleton wearing Solace London in Boston.

WireImage

This is the first time that the princess has worn a rented item. She wore Queen Mary’s Emerald Choker with her long bodycon dress. The choker was passed to Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, who then handed it to Princess Diana as a lifetime loan.

Diana famously wore the choker as a headband in 1985.

Tim Graham Photo Library via Get

Diana famously wore the choker as a headband in 1985 on a trip to Melbourne, Australia, with a David and Elizabeth Emanuel gown.

Kate wore a pair of emerald and diamond halo earrings mounted in platinum from Asprey London that retail for 10,500 pounds.

Prince William wore a velvet navy blazer with a bow tie and an Omega watch with a green watchface.

The couple’s choices may have been too on the nose with all obvious signs pointing to the color green, sustainability and the Earthshot Prize, but that’s precisely the message Kate and William are riding these days — consistency, in marriage and work.

A Hankering for Horror

A Hankering for Horror

Fashion and horror are frequently close cousins, and seem to be having another moment in the sun — or should we say in the deepest, darkest shadows?
Consider JW Anderson’s recent drop of clothes depicting blood-drenched scenes from the 1976 cult classic “Carrie,” all the “Stranger Things” product collaborations emerging faster than Demogorgons after dark, and Valentino’s boxed set of three unpublished horror novels, including Lucy A. Snyder’s “Sister, Maiden, Monster.”

The murderous Villanelle from “Killing Eve” has inspired brands ranging from Hunter to Coco de Mer, while fashion also figures big in a new exhibition called “The Horror Show! A Twisted Tale of Modern Britain” at Somerset House in London.

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And isn’t it eerie how certain episodes of the Netflix hit “Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” nail fashion’s current fascination with all things ’90s?

“Horror is sort of like the color black and fashion — it’s a recurrent theme,” says Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum of FIT in New York City. “There are seasons when horror is more in and other times when it’s not, but it’s always there, lurking like a virus, ready to pop up again.”

Claire Catterall, senior curator at Somerset House, says that at times of acute societal and political dissonance, horror always seems to come to the fore.

“The current levels of anxiety seemed to have hit stratospheric levels, and horror has always been a place of refuge, as well as redemption. It has always allowed us to make sense of our world, and our fears. And as such, it is reassuring, and also gives us the tools to stare down our fears,” she says.

When designers take inspiration from horror movies, the results are often unforgettable. Consider when Jun Takahashi of Undercover took on Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” for spring 2018, Raf Simons’ ode to “Jaws” for his spring 2019 Calvin Klein 205W39NYC collection, and Rodarte’s creepy-yet-pretty spring 2019 show, amid a downpour in the Lower East Side’s Marble Cemetery in Manhattan.

Steele also mentioned Rodarte’s fall 2008 collection that blended Kabuki theater and modern Japanese horror films. The Museum at FIT acquired a silk tulle evening dress whose hand-dyed fabric intentionally evokes blood in water.

Undercover RTW Spring 2018

Giovanni Giannoni/WWD

Fashion tribes that adopt elements of horror include the goths, cyber punks and certain factions of the hip-hop scene, according to Steele.

In her estimation, fashion is associated in a strange way with death.

“Remember Gabrielle Chanel saying fashion must die and die quickly so that it can live again?” she asks, also mentioning famous quotes about fashion and death from poet Giacomo Leopardi and artist Jean Cocteau. “Fashion sort of has its own internal death drive, because then you’re reborn again. It’s like snake shedding its skin. So there’s nothing more despicable than a recent fashion. It’s like ‘Oh yuck, why did we wear that? Now we’re onto the next thing.’”

Elsa Schiaparelli was among early couturiers to play with the death theme via her skeleton dress from 1938, and many others have played with “sexy death imagery,” often zeroing in on the vampire, a powerful figure.

There’s even a London-based brand, The Vampire’s Wife, that mines “the sexiness of vampires, who are much sexier than, you know, certain other horror tropes like zombies,” Steele notes.

Why might the designers and the public have a taste for horror again, besides the cyclical nature of things?

“Nowadays the world is so horrible and everything is so stressful from climate, to war, to Republicans,” Steele says. “A lot of people are just wanting to hide out in a pretend scariness instead.”

In fact, she characterized horror-inspired fashions as a type of “dopamine dressing” that boost the wearer’s mood.

“While fear is not a pleasant emotion, the release of tension after the moment of being frightened is, in fact, a kind of dopamine moment,” she explains.

Rudolph Mance, costume designer for “Dahmer” and “The Watcher,” two of the top series on Netflix, adds that “people are always fascinated in real life crime stories, so the fact that both of these stories, albeit disturbing, actually happened I think also help to draw in viewers.”

In addition, he adds that trends in fashion and entertainment often echo each other. “It can depend a lot on what the trends are at any given time, but it does seem to go hand in hand in terms of what’s popular on the runways in relation to what’s popular on TV,” he says.

A scene from “Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.”

Courtesy of Netflix

Mance says he was struck how much of “Dahmer” style can be seen in New York City and beyond.

“I was just recently in Berlin, and it was the same story over there: The baggier, straight-leg jeans, the oversize jackets, crop tops, chunky sneakers,” he relates. “It’s interesting how it correlates.”

Olivier Tojn, director at Ghent, Belgium-based neuro-research and marketing company Beyond Reason, says psychology partly explains the correlation.

He cites 1983’s “The Hunger,” starring Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie, as the ultimate convergence of fashion meets horror.

“The theme of this movie, as it is the case for most decent horror flicks, is power and dominance. The vampire’s power over life and death, dominating the prey in the web,” he explains. “The link between horror and fashion can be found in the fact that power and dominance are also two of the main implicit purchase motives for luxury goods. Wearing YSL gives me — at least the illusion — of having power over others. When I make an entrance on my Gucci heels, I feel as if I dominate the room.”

The glamour of horror is irresistible to the public right now.

To wit, one of Hunter’s top-selling collaborations has been with “Killing Eve,” the BBC America TV series whose star is the psychopathic contract killer Villanelle. Despite (or maybe because of) her day job, she always looks polished and fabulous, using a glittering hair pin as a murder weapon, or bolting from the scene of a crime in stylish footwear.

Hunter’s chief executive officer Paolo Porta says the brand is always looking to speak to popular culture, as well as to different generations and audiences. And Villanelle’s look has proven a winner.

“What attracted us to ‘Killing Eve’ was the realism, the horror — and the incredible sense of style. People are so attracted to that glamorized universe. They want to be part of that story and, likewise, Hunter wants to be part of that narrative. The character of Villanelle has so much allure and attraction that we wanted to get closer to her on screen,” and to Jodie Comer, the star of the series, too, Porta says.

Hunter’s audience was so taken with the collaboration, they were willing to plunk down twice the average Hunter boot price, or around 395 pounds, for the “Killing Eve” Chasing boots and other styles. Hunter certainly took its work with the show seriously. One style, a pair of short boots, has a military feel and comes with a little pouch “where you can store your penknife, or anything else Villanelle might need,” Porta says.

An image from the Hunter x Killing Eve campaign.

Courtesy

Nostalgia for old horror shows and genres is also tugging at the public consciousness, one reason why Moon Boot decided to work with “Stranger Things,” where the latest season is set in 1986.

It has just unveiled three styles inspired by the Upside Down, a dark, parallel underworld dusted with ash and inhabited by monsters. The boots feature a reversed logo and some also showcase images of the dark vines from the underworld.

Best to store those in the closet, rather than by the bed.

Catterall of Somerset House says “Stranger Things,” in particular, is a “really good example of the kind of freshness of ‘new horror.’ It’s retro and also plugs into a whole kind of dark romanticism,” she says.

That mix of nostalgia and horror also speaks to a new audience. Catterall points to the way that Kate Bush’s 1985 song “Running Up That Hill,” the theme song of the latest season of “Stranger Things,” has become a hit among a generation whose parents were teenagers when it was first released.

A potent brew of glamour, and nostalgia for the horrific, fueled Jonathan Anderson’s decision to create a capsule inspired by the 1976 film “Carrie,” based on horror master Stephen King’s first published novel.

“I always gravitate toward strong characters, and Sissy Spacek’s iconic performance as Carrie was incredible,” Anderson says. “The film also presents a different kind of kitsch that’s really inspiring, with ’70s prom references and the horror of it. I like how it has become a complete cult classic with such a dedicated fan base and admirers.”

He says he was drawn to the film’s “great cultural relevance and the designs of the original film posters. It was really interesting to translate these on to ready-to-wear and accessories in a way that’s still so relevant now,” Anderson says.

The capsule was first introduced earlier this year with a series of images featuring actress Hari Nef, photographed by Juergen Teller. Printed as billboards and mounted on vans that traveled the streets of Milan during fashion week, the images were then shot again by Teller for the official release.

Gareth Pugh’s “Spirit of Ecstasy” part of “The Horror Show! A Twisted Tale of Modern Britain” taking place at Somerset House in London.

What other psychological factors explain the public’s taste for horror right now?

According to Tjon, “one theory within the entertainment industry is that horror is a convenient and risk free way of experiencing a ‘light’ version of mortal fear. Which is probably correct.”

He notes that horror evokes the feeling of relief from surviving a brush with death.

“It is only relatively recent that we don’t have to fear for our lives 24/7,” he says. “Picture yourself living in a cave. And your cave is raided by wild beasts. Some of your tribe die and some survive. Just imagine how much a relief that must have been. For our ancestors, it was probably one of the strongest emotions they’ve ever experienced. Horror might be a surrogate, allowing us to relive this. 

“Remember how good it felt that Clarice was not eaten by Dr. Lecter?” he asks, referring to the 1991 hit “The Silence of the Lambs.”

“Horror movies are about anxieties that lie within us and they kind of release those anxieties by exorcising them on the screen,” says director Luca Guadagnino, whose latest feature film “Bones and All” is a love story about two fine young cannibals, portrayed by Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet. “So I think there will always be appetite for that genre.

Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet in a scene from “Bones and All,” directed by Luca Guadagnino, a Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film.

Yannis Drakoulidis / Metro Goldw

“The problem is that because we live in very difficult, conservative, right-wing times, the movies reflect that kind of attitude — it’s the anxieties of the conservative right wingers, which are not very interesting.”

Guadagnino says he felt honored that Undercover’s Takahashi created a collection inspired by his 2018 remake of “Suspiria,” and he describes Anderson’s “Carrie” collaboration as fantastic — and radical, given that the designer is referencing a film from the ’70s.

“It’s about the irony, and the passion that these amazing designers encompass through their work,” he says.

Preview clips of “Bones and All” show its protagonists in typical American casualwear — jeans, waffle knits, camp shirts and the like. According to Guadagnino, “the codes of behavior that comes across via the clothing are more important than the fashion itself.”

Could it be a case of — gulp — you are what you eat? “These characters are people who are kind of taking over other people’s identity. And somehow you can see how this comes across the way they turn to use items of clothing from other people’s lives to make them theirs,” the director teases.

Whether it’s horrific or not, the moving image is exerting an ever more powerful influence on the public mind worldwide, and brands are eager to align themselves with the players on screen.

“We live in a time where television series, in a way, have become their own fashion brands. Just like people have a favorite dish or article of clothing, they now have a favorite TV series, which provides them with a sense of identity,” a Moon Boot spokesman says.

Porta of Hunter would agree. “We spend so much time looking at a screen, whether it’s in our palm or on our wall. And, for us, that’s one of the biggest ways of reaching new audiences,” he says.

Aleali May Launches Made in L.A. Collection

Aleali May Launches Made in L.A. Collection

Los Angeles-based stylist, influencer, model and Nike Jordan designer Aleali May has launched her own collection.
Called Mayde Worldwide, the unisex range is comprised of elevated essentials in silhouettes honed by May. The first drop includes a cropped hoodie, an oversize hoodie with dropped shoulders, slouchy sweatpants, bike shorts, a bra top and a ribbed tank, all in cobalt blue.

“I’m from South Central Los Angeles, the Dodgers, the water here, it’s definitely a Los Angeles color,” she said during a celebratory dinner at Horses in Hollywood on Thursday night. “A lot of people go with neutrals, but I wanted to start with something bold,” she added of the collection, which is designed to fit people with different bust sizes and suit “both the fitted and the baggy girl, and I’m both of those depending on the day,” she said.

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Mayde Worldwide

Prices are $50 to $185, and the collection is sold at MaydeWorldwide.net. There will be new drops every one to two months and collaborations starting in 2023. May is open to retail partners as the business grows.

“There’s not a lot of people who can carry a brand. I produce Stüssy, I produce Undefeated, I produce Chrome Hearts. There are so many people in L.A. who are looked at as a spectacle versus people who are looked at for influence, to dress like and be like. Aleali is one of those people,” said Jakob Deitell, who partnered with her on the brand. “I think this is going to be what Yeezy could have been — high-end, oversize specific basics we all want to wear. Things that can be worn every day that aren’t heavily branded.”

May attended college in Chicago and worked at Louis Vuitton and Virgil Abloh’s RSVP Gallery, which became fodder for her popular Tumblr account and set her on the path to influencer status. She moved back to L.A. in 2014 and quickly picked up modeling gigs with Stüssy and Vans and styled Kendrick Lamar and Tinashe. Her clients have also included Jaden Smith, Lil Yachty and Kali Uchis. A lifelong sneakerhead, with an interest in bringing more female representation to streetwear, she started collaborating with Nike Jordan on footwear and apparel in 2017 and is one of only two female designers to design for the brand.

She has influenced a generation of creatives in L.A. and beyond, as evidenced by the dinner crowd assembled to cheer her on Thursday, including photographer Sarah Khalid, who shot May for the recent Mugler campaign, and also took the first Mayde campaign images. “She inspired me to get into fashion,” said Khalid, who grew up in Lebanon following May’s adventures online.

Designer, stylist and DJ Monte Christo, who arrived late from a shoot with Foot Locker, pointed to May’s trailblazing legacy in the sneaker space, which resulted in Ehsani being appointed as the athletic brand’s first women’s creative director.

May launched Mayde to fill wardrobe gaps she’d noticed while styling, she said. All of the pieces are manufactured in L.A., at her studio in Vernon. “To be from L.A. and be a fashion girl at this time, there’s more opportunity than ever,” she said, rocking her cobalt tank top with vintage Dior leather pants and Balenciaga bubble sunglasses.

“It’s a destination, we get good weather, there’s great places to have shows,” May added, nodding to the Celine runway show coming to L.A. on Dec. 8 and the Versace show landing on March 10. “Rick Owens should do one here, too,” she suggested. “People underestimate the style of Angelenos,” she said with a laugh. “We’re here, we’re just spread out.”

Road to Awe Takes a New Direction, Hires Former Tom Ford Designer

Road to Awe Takes a New Direction, Hires Former Tom Ford Designer

For years, RtA, which stands for Road to Awe, has been a brand that adopted a Los Angeles, California, rocker aesthetic for its men’s and women’s collections.
Think urban rock ‘n’ roll with an edgy vibe, rooted in dark colors.  

But during the pandemic, cofounder and chief executive officer David Rimokh took stock of his L.A.-based label and decided it was time to update and elevate what the nine-year-old company had to offer.

“The pandemic hit us really hard as a company, and it gave me the opportunity to self-reflect and see where the next direction of RtA was going to go,” said Rimokh, who bought out his minority partner, Eli Azran, at the beginning of this year. “I felt our aesthetic was kind of rooted in the past and never evolved. I felt the rocker and the grunge look was being emulated in the market.”

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For his next chapter, Rimokh is ready to embrace a customer who wants a cool and comfortable look with some edge. “We want that sophistication. We want to elevate,” the executive said.

To elevate his men’s and women’s collections, Rimokh recently hired Robert Liptak as the brand’s new creative director. Liptak had been working as the senior women’s ready-to-wear designer at Tom Ford since 2019, and joined RtA in June.

“I feel that RtA has a very unique position where it is a streetwear brand, but it has that elevated edge. We have to push it a little more,” said the new creative director, who has patternmaking and tailoring skills he would like to apply to the new RtA collection.

Liptak wants to make sure there is a certain easiness to dressing incorporated into the collection with a sense of construction. He will introduce more fabrics, such as satin, silk and slinky jersey, for the womenswear collection. Colors will be more neutral with beige, dark browns and blacks to focus on different silhouettes.

Liptak also wants to introduce evening styles to the collection. “It is not going to be extreme couture, but something that is going to be easy to put together to go out for a beautiful dinner,” Liptak said.

The brand will shift more sourcing from Asia to Europe, primarily Italy and Portugal, and raise prices by about 20 percent to 25 percent. Currently, the RtA’s clothing collection retails from about $325 to $1,695.

The pre-fall 2023 collection debuts in early December and will be sold at the brand’s online site and its three stores in L.A., New York and Las Vegas, Nevada. It will also be available at Ssense.com, Fwrd.com and saks.com.  

Eventually, the company will be adding footwear and handbags, designed by Liptak.

Looking at Karl Lagerfeld From All Angles

Looking at Karl Lagerfeld From All Angles

How to unpack Karl Lagerfeld’s far-reaching impact on fashion, the luxury business, pop culture and the people close to him?
It takes a village, and more than three years after the German designer’s death, filmmakers, writers, curators and photographers are working furiously to cast light on different facets of his career and personal life.

Coming in the first half of next year: an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art‘s Costume Institute, and a book by former WWD journalist and author William Middleton titled ”Paradise Now: The Extraordinary Life of Karl Lagerfeld.” Next year, French television station Canal+ plans to air a four-part documentary series entitled “Lagerfeld Ambitions.”

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Word has it the BBC is also working on a documentary, and a little further down the road will be a feature film by Jared Leto in collaboration with the Karl Lagerfeld fashion house, with Leto playing the design legend.

Amber Valletta, Kristen McMenamy and Linda Evangelista backstage at Chanel’s spring 2005 show.

Robert Fairer

Next month, British fashion photographer Robert Fairer releases “Karl Lagerfeld Unseen: The Chanel Years,” a hardcover Thames & Hudson tome that captures many ‘90s supermodels; documents the designer’s immense range with the fashion house founder’s brand codes, and demonstrates the family spirit and culture of excellence Lagerfeld inspired and nurtured.

Fairer chose to focus on the “golden years,” from the mid-1990s through to 2006, selecting a little under 300 photos from the tens of thousands he snapped backstage, agog at the splendor of the clothes, the luxurious surroundings and the electrifying atmosphere stoked by having a living design legend tinkering with the looks right up to the last minute, and giving each model an encouraging word.

“It was in his nature to create, create, create every minute of the day,” Fairer marvels in an interview. “You knew you weren’t going to take three pictures of an outfit — more like 15.

“Out of all the designers, he was super approachable, always allowing you to photograph him,” adds Fairer, who has also published books of his behind-the-scenes photos at Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Marc Jacobs shows.

Backstage at the fall 2006 Chanel couture show.

At Chanel, Fairer mostly aimed his lens at the sumptuous and varied clothing — and the accessories, which the photographer came to appreciate thanks to the creativity Lagerfeld poured into handbags, jewelry, hats, gloves, shoes, earmuffs, surfboards — you name it.

In his pre-digital days, Fairer would typically bring 15 rolls of film to a show, but a Chanel one would require at least 40 as there was so much to capture.

“Over the years, I developed this sixth sense about what’s about to happen,” he says. “It’s like creating a little scene with the 20 seconds you have.”

Model Alek Wek at Chanel’s spring 2001 haute couture show.

Robert Fairer

He also describes a collaborative approach with the models, who usually obliged if he asked for a certain pose or attitude.

Fairer has snapped photos backstage at McQueen shows in waste recycling plants where “you were lucky if the floor was hosed down.”

Chanel shows, by contrast, were “on another level,” the vast backstage area always carpeted, superbly lit, equipped with great caterers, free-flowing Champagne and trays and trays of costume jewelry.

Flicking through the 352-page book, there are glimpses of fashion stars no longer with us: not only Lagerfeld, but also the model Stella Tennant and editor André Leon Talley.

Lady Amanda Harlech and André Leon Talley.

Robert Fairer

Fairer admits some nostalgia, lauding the “powerful aura” of Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell’s inimitable walk that can be detected a mile away, and Kate Moss’ punchy personality.

“My photography was always very collaborative,” he explains.

The book also features essays by journalists Natasha Fraser, Sally Singer and Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis, plus a foreword by Lady Amanda Harlech, who notes that Fairer captured “the joy, edge and beauty” of the backstage world, which Lagerfeld adored.

Backstage at Chanel’s spring 2005 haute couture show.

Robert Fairer

Luxury Brands Flock to Inaugural Edition of Art Basel Fair in Paris

Luxury Brands Flock to Inaugural Edition of Art Basel Fair in Paris

PARIS — Leading luxury brands took advantage of the inaugural edition of Paris+ by Art Basel to stage citywide events that had the French capital buzzing even before the art fair’s official opening to the public on Thursday.
Within minutes of the preview opening on Wednesday morning, the Grand Palais Éphémère temporary structure, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, was thrumming with visitors ready to whip out their credit cards. At the Louis Vuitton stand, staffers had to explain that the objects on display were not for sale.

The French luxury house partnered with Art Basel for the first time to highlight its longstanding relationships with artists including Richard Prince, Jeff Koons and Yayoi Kusama, who was present in spirit via a lifesize statue created for her first collaboration with Vuitton in 2012, which will be followed by a second collection set to launch next year.

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Among the 43 works on show at the hard-to-miss stand, located just to the left of the entrance, were a giant panda sculpture by Takashi Murakami, a travel trunk designed by Cindy Sherman, and a wall of handbags designed by artists as part of Vuitton’s Artycapucines collection, the latest edition of which launched in select stores on Wednesday.

“It allows us to put a little smile on everybody’s face,” said Michael Burke, chairman and chief executive officer of Louis Vuitton, surveying the early crowd. “Everybody can be so serious in the art world, and Kusama has taught us, Murakami has taught us, that you don’t always have to be deadly serious.”

Although the walls between art and fashion have crumbled in recent years, with a glut of collaborations between luxury brands and art world stars, the prominence of the Vuitton stand may raise a few eyebrows among purists — but Burke doesn’t mind.

“I would hope a few would be shocked. I’m convinced not all of them will be shocked. The snobs will be shocked. We’re not snobs,” he demurred. Vuitton’s partnership with Art Basel is surfing on the euphoria of post-pandemic social gatherings and trade events.

“When you’re given that opportunity to have that type of discourse and engagement with this crowd, who is still very, very hungry coming out of the pandemic, you want to contribute to that,” Burke noted. “I think before the pandemic, we were so serious in everything we did, and then having been gone for over two years, when you come back, everybody’s a little bit giddy.”

That was reflected in brisk deal-making. Hauser & Wirth president Marc Payot noted there was “discernible new excitement around both edge-defining contemporary art and discoveries in modern and historical art,” noting that the first day had signaled that “collectors and curators have gotten the assignment,” snapping major pieces within hours of the opening.

By Wednesday evening, the gallery had sold newly produced works from George Condo for $2.6 million; the energetic blue swirls of Rashid Johnson’s “Bruise Painting ‘Sanctuary,’” snapped up for $1 million; and an Avery Singer piece, which went to a European museum for $800,000.

Scuptures by Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne on display at Kering’s headquarters in Paris.

David William Baum/Courtesy of Christie’s

The sentiment was echoed by Cécile Verdier, president of Christie’s France, which partnered with Kering to display 15 sculptures from its upcoming New York auction of the works of Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne in the courtyard of the French luxury group’s picturesque headquarters, located in a former hospital dating back to 17th century. 

“There is an effervescence around Paris as an art capital that is due to several existing factors, and the fair is the extra ingredient on top,” she said. 

The announcement earlier this year that MCH Group, the owner of the Art Basel fairs, would dislodge France’s FIAC contemporary art fair from its traditional fall slot at the Grand Palais reflects a revival in the French capital’s status as an art market, reshuffling the decks for participating galleries and sponsors. In addition to Vuitton, partners of the Paris+ show include Audemars Piguet, David Yurman, Groupe Galeries Lafayette, Lalique and Guerlain.

The first edition features 156 leading French and international galleries, spread across the main exhibition space and citywide sites including the Tuileries Garden and Place Vendôme, where access is free, organizers said.

“I was at the fair this morning. There are a lot of familiar exhibitors, some of which also took part in FIAC, but it’s a smaller fair than it will be when the Grand Palais reopens [following renovations]. So there are only important galleries and important works, and you felt that the whole world was there,” Verdier said.

“There’s a lot of excitement around this fair due to the international reach of the Art Basel brand, which is a guarantee of quality. FIAC was a very nice fair, but perhaps more focused on emerging artists,” she added.

Verdier noted that Paris+ opened amid a busy calendar of fall exhibitions in local museums, with shows devoted to artists including Oskar Kokoschka, Sam Szafran, Edvard Munch, Joan Mitchell and Alice Neel, among others. “I don’t know any capital worldwide where this many exhibitions have opened between early September and mid-October,” she marveled.  

And the city has spruced up since the coronavirus pandemic broke out in 2020, with the opening of several new institutions including the Bourse de Commerce, the contemporary art museum owned by billionaire François Pinault, the founder of Kering and owner of Christie’s.

“It’s an ecosystem that was already there, but that’s expanding. When you look at Avenue Matignon, where Christie’s has its headquarters, a lot of galleries are setting up shop in the area. It’s changed a lot in the last three years,” said Verdier, pointing to the arrival in the area of art dealers including Emmanuel Perrotin, Per Skarstedt and Nathalie Obadia, and the upcoming opening of the Hauser & Wirth gallery on nearby Rue François 1er.

Laurent Le Bon, president of the Centre Pompidou, and Yana Peel, global head of arts and culture at Chanel.

Courtesy of Chanel

Yana Peel, global head of arts and culture at Chanel, was also feeling the buzz.

“Paris+ today had wonderful energy,” she said at a party on Wednesday night celebrating the launch of Assemble, a three-year partnership between the Chanel Culture Fund and the Centre Pompidou contemporary art museum that aims to foster a public dialogue with artists, architects, scientists and other innovators. “There’s amazing museum shows on at the moment, and I think what’s really exciting is to have all the artists here with us tonight.”

The event, held on a fifth-floor terrace with panoramic views of Paris, drew artists including Kehinde Wiley, Sheila Hicks, Mickalene Thomas and Mire Lee, as well as Ruth Rogers, the widow of Pompidou architect Richard Rogers, accompanied by her stepson Ab.

Among Assemble’s planned initiatives are an annual conference to shape the future cultural program of the Pompidou, which is scheduled to close in 2024 for several years of renovations, but will continue to host exhibitions off-site. It will also create a lab dedicated to advancing sustainability and regenerative practices in design and architecture.

Unlike some of its competitors, Chanel doesn’t funnel its artist collaborations into products. Instead, it is banking on the global cultural aura of its partnerships with leading art institutions, and the Chanel Next Prize, which supports individual creators. 

“We’ve had a century of cultural philanthropy. If we look at Gabrielle Chanel and her work with Stravinsky and Diaghilev, it was very interdisciplinary, it was very modern, and it was very focused on creating conditions for artists to dare,” Peel explained. 

“Artists are at the heart of life. You can see the energy in this room, and artists often show us the way forward. We live in such complex times and Gerhard Richter said art is the greatest form of hope. So I think we look to artists for their beauty and for their prescience,” she added. 

Peel noted that the Pompidou partnership was inspired by philosopher Bernard Stiegler, who encouraged institutions to think about knowledge exchange.

“What is demanded of future audiences who may never know a world without the internet? What are the questions that museums like this should be asking as they also preserve history? I think these are all really important questions, and I think it’s very, very exciting for Chanel to engage with the thinkers, the doers, the creators who are really defining what matters most and what’s coming next,” she said.

Supporting artists to create and exhibit to the public, rather than adding to a company collection, is also what Audemars Piguet is aiming for. Now in its 10th year, its contemporary art program commissioned Andreas Angelidakis for a three-week immersive installation at the headquarters of the French Communist Party, a landmark building designed by Oscar Niemeyer.Titled “Center for the Critical Appreciation of Antiquity,” the Greek artist’s first solo exhibition in Paris reframes antiquity through a queer lens, turning the building’s famous domed conference room into a subterranean archeological excavation filled with plush blocks in shapes inspired by classic architectural features.

Meanwhile, Lalique unveiled its collaboration with James Turrell, which includes two limited edition fragrances in crystal bottles, marking the first time it has created a perfume with an artist.  

The busy schedule of auxiliary activities was set to last for the duration of Paris+, which runs through Sunday. Hermès is staging what it bills as a “poetic and cinematographic” performance based on the myth of Pegasus. “La Fabrique de la légèreté,” conceived by choreographer Michèle Anne De Mey and her husband, filmmaker Jaco Van Dormael, is due to run at the Grande Halle de la Villette from Oct. 21 to 28.

With contributions from Lily Templeton

Finnish Designer Jenny Hytönen Wins Top Fashion Prize at Hyères Festival

Finnish Designer Jenny Hytönen Wins Top Fashion Prize at Hyères Festival

HYERES, France — Finnish designer Jenny Hytönen won the top prize at the 37th edition of the Hyères International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Fashion Accessories on Sunday, presenting a spiny, spiky knit collection to a jury headed by Y/Project and Diesel creative director Glenn Martens.
The Paris-based designer, currently interning at Olivier Theyskens’ label with a focus on knitwear, graduated from Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture in 2021 with an award.

Her untitled unisex collection was topped by the “Cyborg,” which featured a bridal veil incorporating 25,000 glass beads hand placed during the knitting process, and an LED bodysuit with a heart sensor that materialized the wearer’s heartbeat with pulsating lights.

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Another standout was a headdress, created with the support of Chanel-owned milliner Maison Michel, that resembled the titular character from the “Hellraiser” horror film franchise.

The lineup also won her the public’s vote after shows where she introduced herself as “loving knitwear and BDSM,” drawing laughter and applause.

Hytönen emerged as the winner after a hotly debated contest by the jury that included Ottolinger designers Christa Bösch and Cosima Gadient; stylist Ursina Gysi; artist Frederik Heyman; Mytheresa vice president of womenswear and kidswear fashion buying Tiffany Hsu; editors Mark Holgate and Eugénie Trochu; musicians Max Colombie and Sevdaliza, and last year’s Grand Prize winner Ifeanyi Okwuadi.

Martens lauded the quality of the 25-year-old Hytönen’s collection with a “very complete collection plan that nonetheless showed extreme creativity.”

Soft-spoken Hytönen felt the experience had already helped her grow from “being the shyest girl you’d ever meet.”

“My idea was always that I would work for myself but I didn’t expect it to happen so soon,” she said, noting that she wanted, for example, to find ways to combine her craftsmanship and more commercial products. For now, she’s in no rush as “patience is [her] superpower” – stringing 25,000 beads certainly attested to that.

In coming months Hytönen will be applying her learnings from Hyères by working on two commercially available capsule collections that will be commercialized in the second half of 2023, one with Galeries Lafayette and the other with incoming partner Icicle.

Overall Martens was impressed by a generation that “regardless of the aesthetics, or the story, or the background, [had] all embedded straight into the fundamental part of their work, social and environmental sustainability.”

“They’re really talking about the future of society, about loving each other, respecting each other, being free, doing whatever you want, as long as you respect each other,” on top of bringing “their own personal answer” to address “fashion [as] one of the topmost polluting industries,” he explained.

He hoped they would take from him the idea that “you just have to believe in yourself and go for it.” In his eyes, it’s important to understand that “the moment you start asking yourself too many questions based on [comments] by other people,” creatives get in trouble.

The Le19M Métiers d’Arts Prize in partnership with Chanel went to German designer Valentin Lessner, who was also singled out for the Mercedes-Benz Sustainability Prize for best applying the sustainable practices given by Fashion Open Studio, a nonprofit organization campaigning for a more sustainable luxury industry.

Jury member Hsu noted that craftsmanship was a recurring theme among the 2022 crop of contestants.

She felt that the pandemic and its isolation caused by lockdowns and restricted travels globally had pushed many to “start exploring within what’s available to them,” going back to “something quite primitive but also quite accessible” by learning crafts either online or from older family members.

While that was the situational component to the trend, Hsu also connected it to a ’90s trend of positivity and crafts-oriented personal expression.

Sini Saavala, also from Finland, scooped up the inaugural L’Atelier des Matières Prize, which comes with 10,000 euros worth of fabrics and leathers from L’Atelier des Matières, a structure created in 2019 on Chanel’s initiative and which collects unsold goods and unused materials to turn them back into usable resources.

The accessories grand prize went to Joshua Cannone and his work inspired by New York City, where he grew up, with human-sized bags and rat-shaped water-tight containers — to keep drinks or cigarettes safe, he said during a showroom tour.

One of Joshua Cannone’s designs.

Leo d’Oriano/Courtesy of Villa Noailles

Meanwhile, the duo formed by Lola Mossino and Indra Eudaric, both trained in product design, scooped up the Hermès accessories prize with their belt design inspired by the “pétasse,” a term for women in brothels in the 19th century that was later used in a derogatory manner to describe women considered too seductive or provocative.

Among the designs that captured the attention of the jury, the public and social media were a “chest piece” that outlines the bust in gold wire with pearls dangling in strategic places to make it Instagram-friendly.

“During preselections, we chose 10 very different projects with very personal visions of what accessories can be,” said accessories jury president Aska Yamashita, artistic director of Chanel-owned embroidery workshop Atelier Montex.

“What you’ve done in the past months is proof that you can do anything,” she told finalists.

Hermès’ creative director of fashion accessories Clémande Burgevin Blachman lauded the way all the contestants had delved back into the history of the belt, this year’s starting point, a process stemming from “their will to bear witness to an issue [they were speaking out on].”

What struck her in this “generation that surprises [her] and so unlike [hers]” is that “all their designs bear messages and are not in a gratuitous pursuit of beauty” as they seek to speak out on topics such as diversity, inclusion or ecological responsibility.

Though there was only one winning design, Burgevin Blachman would like these candidates, who arrived “pure and free” of the constraints learned by more seasoned creatives, to remember the idea of a collective and the importance of having an ongoing dialogue with craftspeople, noting that “the creative [person] is nothing without the hand that makes, that of the craftsperson.”

Supima, which was celebrating its fifth year as official partner of the festival, donated shirting, jersey, velveteen, denim and twill, a selection of “fabrics we know and love and wear almost every day,” as Buxton Midyette, vice president of marketing and promotions for Supima, put it.

“What’s so fun is to put [those] in the hands of these young creatives that aren’t carrying the baggage of all these preconceptions [on materials], and just treat them as fabrics,” he continued.

By bringing “so much energy and innovation” to how they use and manipulate these textiles, Midyette felt the Hyères finalists “challenge the industry in a good way, in terms of what they’re doing to really rethink the kind of orthodoxies of the fashion industry.”

All finalists will be exhibiting their work in Paris on Wednesday and Thursday as part of the cotton organization’s annual Supima Design Lab, alongside the works of the 2022 Supima Design Competition finalists and a selection of global designers including Julie de Libran, Victor Weinsanto and 2021 Hyères winner Ifeanyi Okwuadi.

Winning the top gong and the heart of the public was also what South Korean photographer Rala Choi did. His work wowed a jury led by Belgian visual artist Pierre Debusschere that included artistic directors Matthieu Blazy of Bottega Veneta and Pieter Mulier of Maison Alaïa. She won the 20,000 euros purse offered by Chanel and will also collaborate on a campaign with Bottega Veneta.

In parallel with exhibitions, which will remain open to the public until Nov. 27, the weekend in Hyères included live runway shows, exhibitions, workshops, book signings and artistic showcases, including a closing performance teasing the opera being developed ahead of the Villa Noailles’ centenary celebrations in 2023.

But the free spirit of the festival was not to everyone’s taste. The trio of gigantic inflatable characters from Diesel’s spring 2023 set, and exhibited at the Villa Noailles and the central plaza of Hyères, drew the ire of local officials, who called their suggestive poses and connection to a clothing label “bad taste.” The female figure was later vandalized on Saturday night with the organizers of the festival lodging a formal complaint with police.

For this edition of the roundtables organized by the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, Kering’s chief digital officer Grégory Boutté, Givenchy’s director of legal affairs Isabelle Franchet and Eric Peters, deputy head of unit at the directorate general for digital practices of the European Commission, were among the creatives and executives from fashion and technology debating the metaverse, with its technologies and opportunities but also the rules that this new world could require.

Conversations were brisk around whether the metaverse was a natural evolution and a new creative and commercial territory, or on the contrary, was leading down an unsustainable path for the environment and people.

Festival founder and general director Jean-Pierre Blanc expressed delight at the “good and beautiful energy of the festival that “shows we are not in a marketing-oriented industry [bogged down] by rules.”

Since its creation in 1985, the Hyères festival has helped raise the profiles of talents such as Viktor & Rolf; Saint Laurent artistic director Anthony Vaccarello; Paco Rabanne’s Julien Dossena, and Rushemy Botter and Lisi Herrebrugh, who design men’s label Botter.

“Thirty-seven years later, the mission [of opening doors] is still there and shows that the industry is still the one I loved at the start,” Blanc said.

Moncler Partners With British Photographer Platon on a Multi-city Art Event

Moncler Partners With British Photographer Platon on a Multi-city Art Event

LONDON — The worlds of fashion and art are coming together in London, with the timing of Frieze London and rescheduled fashion shows due to Queen Elizabeth II’s death.
Moncler’s Frieze partnership underscores that connectedness — the French-founded Italian luxury brand is presenting a special exhibition lensed by British portrait photographer Platon, who often captures politicians and public figures, including Russian president Vladimir Putin for the cover of Time magazine in 2007.

This is the first time that Platon has collaborated with a fashion house. “Moncler is clearly not a traditional fashion brand, they’re dedicated to using their extraordinary platform to celebrate extraordinary talent. How could I say no?” the renowned photographer told WWD.

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In the first room, Platon shot seven moving images of the Moncler Maya 70 jackets reinterpreted by seven creative individuals, modeled on subjects chosen by the designers that will drop on Saturdays. 

Moncler Maya 70 by Palm Angels

Courtesy of Moncler

These include, Elsa Hosk for Palm Angels; Lee Pace for Thom Browne; Nigel Sylvester for Frgmt; Michèle Lamy for Rick Owens; Bianca Brandolini and Honey Dijon Moncler for Giambattista Valli; Kristen McMenamy for Pierpaolo Piccioli, and musician Tobe Nwigwe for Pharrell Williams.

“This is a celebration of inclusivity and creative power. I’ve been so inspired to connect with all these amazing people who have a special relationship with Moncler,” said Platon, adding that the process has been “honest, authentic, humble and generous with their trust. Together we all made human magic.”

The photographer is also showcasing seven additional portraits that have been merged together to create a moving image. All the creative individuals are connected to London, including him.

“I’m currently making a short film with the United Nations honoring refugees from around the world, as well as finishing a 20-year large scale book highlighting human rights defenders,” said Platon of his future projects. He will be attending Frieze for “much needed inspiration, with my mum as my special guest.”

The second section is Moncler’s expedition, tracing the brand’s history with seven archive boxes.

Courtesy of Moncler

The second section is Moncler’s expedition, tracing the brand’s history with seven archive boxes that contain a padded sleeping bag from 1952 that would go on to inspire the brand’s first down jacket; 1968, when the French ski team wore Moncler for their record-breaking Winter Olympics performance, through to 2018, the year that the brand launched their collaborative platform Genius, working with the likes of Noir Kei Ninomiya, Simone Rocha, Craig Green and more.

Moncler has brought the roving exhibit to London as part of the brand’s 70th anniversary. The first was held in New York and it will move to Tokyo and Seoul after London, with a Chinese leg available digitally beginning Oct. 20.

The brand is entering into the world of NFTs with help from digital artist Antoni Tudisco. London landmarks have been merged with Moncler’s Maya 70 jacket in 500  limited edition NFTs.

The Top 10 Shows, Plus Top 5 Presentations of the Spring 2023 Collections

The Top 10 Shows, Plus Top 5 Presentations of the Spring 2023 Collections

Serena! Cher! Bella Hadid having a dress spray-painted onto her naked body!
The spring 2023 runway shows and presentations took the fashion pack from a rainy drive-in theater in Brooklyn to a London in royal mourning and on to lots of twins in Milan before wrapping up in Paris with the Eiffel Tower at Saint Laurent and Christian Louboutin and Kanye West’s controversial Yeezy show.

It was indeed a wild season, but also a supercharged one, with so many dazzling shows — and clothes — in every city, it was hard to choose favorites.

But WWD did. The criteria included showmanship, emotional impact, originality, clarity of vision and purpose, relevance, collection execution and all-around awesomeness. 

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Here, WWD’s top 10 shows of the season.

Top 10 Shows

10. Coperni

Coperni RTW Spring 2023

Aïtor Rosas Suñe / WWD

Ahead of their spring 2023 runway show, Coperni designers and married couple Arnaud Vaillant and Sébastien Meyer told WWD, “It’s an homage to women in general, and the evolution of the morphology and the body through centuries.”

“Technology and fashion have always been uneasy bedfellows, but if anyone can make science sexy, then it’s Coperni designers, who partnered with Manel Torres, the inventor of the Spray-on fabric, for the performance,” WWD’s Joelle Diderich wrote of the brand’s show-closing performance featuring a nearly naked Bella Hadid in “the world’s first live-action spray-on dress.”

“Beyond the wow factor of watching Hadid walk down the runway in her instant dress, the show raised all kinds of fascinating questions about how technology will change the way we clothe ourselves not only in the virtual world, but IRL,” Diderich added.

9. Fendi 25th Anniversary Baguette Collection 

giovanni_giannoni_photo

“Fendi is one of a number of European brands energizing New York Fashion Week this season, staging a full-scale runway show and clothing collection inside a packed Hammerstein Ballroom on Friday night in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the iconic Baguette bag, introduced in 1997,” wrote WWD’s Booth Moore of Fendi’s spectacular New York City runway show.

“To further a “New York-y vibe of uptown-downtown,” Jones tapped his lifelong fashion hero and former Louis Vuitton boss Marc Jacobs,” Moore wrote, adding the duo came together to design tribute looks, accompanied by collaborative Baguettes with iconic New York jeweler Tiffany & Co. in Tiffany blue with silver charms and handmade solid sterling silver “resembling a piece of jewelry itself, for the ultimate collector’s item.”

8. Richard Quinn 

Fran Gomez de Villaboa /WWD

“Richard Quinn closed fashion week — with two shows in one. The first was dedicated to Queen Elizabeth II, and the second was the spectacle he had originally planned months before her death,” wrote WWD’s Hikmat Mohammed.

“We wanted it to be appropriate for the time, and it’s really historic,” Quinn told WWD, who also credited the queen for the brand’s success since made a rare — if unparalleled — fashion week visit in 2018 to present him with the Award for British Design. “It’s how everyone first knew us, and it will always be a part of our journey and history.”

The designer honored the queen with an extra 22 show-opening looks, which were said to take him and his studio 10 days to create — stitching through the night and while watching the late monarch’s funeral — and shifting his show to the evening following the funeral. The second part of the show featured 26 looks inspired by space and sci-fi — ending with a white bridal lace number.

7. Khaite 

Courtesy of Khaite

“I was going through a very David Lynch ‘Lost Highway,’ ‘Wild at Heart’ phase this summer,” Khaite designer Catherine Holstein told WWD of her collection’s snakeskin, bold zippers, crystal and fringe motifs, and the sinister Southwest and Sin City Las Vegas vibes.

“Certainly there is a bit of a fashion outlaw in Holstein. But her collections don’t really have themes. Rather, they are about the perfect piece on the coolest woman in the room,” Moore wrote of the collection’s femme fatale lineup of perfect-fit ready-to-wear and accessories. “From age 20 to 80, there was something for everyone.”

6. Dries Van Noten

Dries Van Noten RTW Spring 2023

Giovanni Giannoni / WWD

“Bloom therapy. That’s what Dries Van Noten’s spring 2023 collection felt like as it unfolded from an all-black beginning, to a softer middle, then exploded into a beautiful riot of florals that was a master class in mixing prints,” wrote Moore.

“I thought maybe we have to start from black, really the essence, the base of what fashion and clothes are — pleating, volume, structures, then to introduce the same volumes going from stiff and hard to softer, fluid versions. The shapes in fact stayed the same, so it’s the same lexicon,” the designer told WWD during a preview, adding the storyline, or rather three storylines, could be a metaphor for our times. “On the one hand you want protection but on the other hand you want to show your softer side.”

5. Comme des Garçons

Ko Tsuchiya/WWD

“A lamentation for the sorrow in the world today. And a feeling of wanting to stand together” were the two phrases Japanese maverick Rei Kawakubo released to explain the collection, her first shown on a Paris runway since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Kawakubo’s parade of colossal hooded shapes took your mind to “The Handsmaid’s Tale,” of course, and all its sinister implications. In profile, they sometimes resembled the horn-shaped vents on old cruise ships, which made you think about the migrant crisis, too,” reported WWD’s Miles Socha.

Socha labeled the collection “ingenuity on steroids,” with “every exit revealed a never-seen-before shape; sometimes strange, often beautiful, all executed in beautiful brocades, rich lace and other dressy and ceremonial fabrics.”

4. Gucci 

Vanni Bassetti for WWD

“I’m a boy who had two moms, because when I was born, the first seven years of life my mom had an identical twin. So I usually called them mom and mom,” Alessandro Michele said in an interview, speaking of his late mother Eralda and late aunt Giuliana. “It was so beautiful my life with a double love,” he mused to WWD’s Moore of his “Twinsburg” spring 2023 Gucci collection that started with a straight runway show, before a center divider lifted to reveal the same one happening on the other side.

“So I grew up with the idea of the other one who is exactly like you but not you. It’s about humanity. It’s interesting that twins are the concrete vision of the other. It’s very attractive because it’s exactly like you. I did experience this from the outside in a deep way, constantly living with these two women who look the same, dress the same way, had the same hair, the same parfum, and it’s beautiful how in the bad moment they cared about each other. It’s very paradigmatic of our lives.…Especially now we need to care about the other that’s physically another person, but also the other you.”

“It was a gorgeous, and deeply introspective, moment for Michele,” Moore said of the 68 pairs of model look-alikes — all of them actual real-life twins — that came together from opposite sides on the runway, joining hands for a final walk, making a poignant visual statement.

3. Loewe 

Giovanni Giannoni for WWD

“Anderson settled on a few key silhouettes, and both were sensational,” Socha said of Jonathan Anderson’s’ spring Loewe show, which featured tight polo shirts that flared out into brief baby-doll dresses; minidresses with compact panniers, one of the more offbeat trends this season, and shrunken hunting jackets and shearling bombers, either snug or trapeze in shape.

“At the other extreme, supersized sweatshirts and wing-tip tuxedo shirts became soigné sack dresses, arms poking through the bodice and the overly long sleeves dangling free. Long jersey dresses, in literal hourglass shapes cinched with bows, were delicate and divine,” Socha said.

“Most exits consisted of nothing more than a dress and a pair of quirky statement shoes, which have become a Loewe stronghold and one of the most expressive categories in fashion today.”

2. Rick Owens

Giovanni Giannoni for WWD

“I’m saying there are different aesthetic options,” Owens explained backstage to WWD’s Socha, amid eco-tulle skirts so vast they stood on their own. “It’s a protest against conventional judgment. And this is what I have dedicated my life to.”

“His spooky stalactite shoulders were back in a big way, on everything from snug bomber jackets to Barbie pink cocktail dresses,” Socha said. “So were his crumpled volumes, here in gleaming metallic fabrics, looking like car parts crushed elegantly around the body. These continue to challenge the eye, and Owens isn’t relenting.”

“Newer and completely seductive were his languid and revealing gowns with long trains; his giant tulle skirts, and his swishy chiffon trapeze tops, constructed with endless godets,” Socha said.

1. Bottega Veneta

Aitor Rosas Sune/WWD

“While some luxury brands roll out collections and collaborations every five minutes, we haven’t heard much from Blazy’s Bottega since his debut last February. And no wonder: It takes time, and a village of skilled artisans, to conceive and create a collection this good,” WWD’s Socha said of the spring collection.

Backstage, designer Matthieu Blazy was almost apologetic trying to explain how his own jeans, also all leather, had no stitching, and how the fringe on the finale dresses were integrated into the fabric, and then trimmed by hand, Socha reported. “It’s very technical. The project is not easy,” Blazy said to Socha. “Craft — the things we can do at Bottega that no other brand can — this is our identity.

Top 5 Presentations

5. Christian Louboutin 

4. Quira 

3. Brunello Cuccinelli 

2. Loro Piana 

1. Schiaparelli 

The Buyers Are Back: Paris Trade Shows Breathe Collective Sigh of Relief

The Buyers Are Back: Paris Trade Shows Breathe Collective Sigh of Relief

PARIS — Trade show operators here could breathe a sigh of relief: the buyers were finally back in town.
Things were pretty much back to normal for both Première Classe, which once again filled two tents the length of the Tuileries (as well as a third showcasing resortwear event Splash), and Tranoi, back to two floors at its historic Bourse venue, over four days during Paris Fashion Week.

Both American and Japanese buyers returned in force. “I wasn’t expecting so many Japanese buyers,” observed Tranoi president Boris Provost.

“The Japanese buyers are really pleased to be back, they couldn’t go on without traveling; it’s so important to them to get a sense of the production, the materials and the cuts,” said Woman director Antoine Floch.

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The context was favorable for both brands and buyers, as most retailers stuck with tried and tested labels during the pandemic, observers said.

“Our business is about touch and feel,” said David Sahlin, cofounder and creative director of Danish label Rue de Tokyo, showing at Woman.

“I’ve missed it,” said Nathalie Maebe, owner of concept store Par Terre near Ghent, Belgium. “I’m always looking for new brands each season and you cannot find new brands when you don’t travel. I find my new brands at fairs.”

Demand from American buyers was high, exhibitors said. “The strong dollar is very advantageous for them at the moment,” said Floch.

“I have quite a lot of new American customers, they are more willing to buy more from European collections, in euros,” said Panos Papandreou, owner of the Monochrome multibrand showroom in Monaco, showing at Tranoi.

“It seems like there’s a lot of creative leadership coming out of Paris, it feels much busier than New York Fashion Week did,” said Charles Arnett, business development consultant for hemp specialist Jungmaven, showing at Woman. “With the dollar the way it is, it’s probably cheaper to come to Paris than to go to New York.”

Le Bon Marché’s style director Jennifer Cuvillier agreed about the creativity on show. “The fashion, accessories and resort shows were extremely rich in summery creativity with significantly more exhibitors than last season, with international labels coming back and a renewed mix,” she observed.

At Première Classe, some 350 brands were present, about a third of which were newcomers. Footfall was down around 7 percent compared with September 2019, said Frédéric Maus, general director of the fair’s organizer WSN Développement, although this was more because retailers are sending smaller delegations to Paris than in the past to reduce costs. “The number of companies attending was equivalent to pre-pandemic,” he said. “It was really dynamic.”

Increasingly the trade show operators are aiming to drive traffic by drawing in buyers with events and fashion shows. For the second time Première Classe hosted a show featuring South Korean labels Lie, Kumann, and Ul:Kin, in partnership with Seoul Fashion Week, on the steps of the Palais Brongniart (there was also a showroom for nine Korean designers inside the show). New trade show/showroom hybrid Together staged the first on-calendar presentation for Vincent Garnier Pressiat, meanwhile.

For Tranoi, structuring a space twice the size as last season’s edition was the biggest challenge, Provost said. Brands were grouped in thematic zones, with visitors circulating through the space. There was an area for African brands in partnership with incubator Canex, with exhibitors including South Africa’s Rich Mnisi, and specific areas for accessories, resortwear, contemporary brands and young labels.

Woman hosted a smaller edition with 31 labels in a showroom in the Marais, which Floch said was a strategic move to be closer to contemporary showrooms and in line with feedback that the show had become too big. “It was what both buyers and brands wanted,” he explained.

Continuing with a smaller event is also a means of offering support for independent brands in the current inflationary context, he said. “By reducing the cost of attendance, we are able to support brands,” he said. “We’re all in the same boat, we’re all independent businesses.”

This was also part of the premise of Together. Created by brand development agency Plan 8 founder Rafael Jimenez, the event, hosted in partnership with Double magazine, aims to home in on the essence of current trends. “We feel there is a need to create a new editorial setting that reflects the taste of Paris of the season,” said Jimenez. “We want to create an observatory of trends and an efficient platform for brands to broadcast their message.”

The event showcased 15 brands bridging contemporary, designer and accessories.

Brands showing included AsOne by Three as Four, which staged its relaunch; Foo and Foo; Netherlands-based sustainable cashmere label So Good to Wear, which is a not-for-profit operating its own goat farm in Nepal; Thom Browne-backed designer Luchen; India’s No Grey Area, which splices heritage motifs with sportswear silhouettes; swimwear and jewelry designer Charlott Vasberg, and eveningwear specialist Julia Clancey, who was pressing reset on wholesale.

The event was also the showcase for the launch of Consequences, a collaboration between nonprofit artist space and publishing house Goswell Road and Plan 8 on a limited-edition range of T-shirts featuring sketches from Richard Torry.

There was also a technology partnership with fashion tech federation Newfoundation with the launch of tokens intended to allow new forms of shared ownership through open-source software to help creators fund their brands.

Foo and Foo’s Elizabeth Hilfiger, hot off her label’s first New York runway show and showing during women’s collections in Paris for the first time, said how important it was to show buyers — the brand had appointments with several European and U.S. department stores — they are still in business in a context where many brands have dropped off the radar. “We’ve shown that we’re here to stay,” she said.

While the context is complex for smaller brands, there was a lot of creativity on show. Several returnees were showcasing a revamped positioning after wholesale essentially dried up during the pandemic.

“Before COVID-19 we were selling to Harvey Nichols, Liberty and Galeries Lafayette,” said Yasu Michino, founder and designer of leather goods label Michino, at Première Classe. “Now we are starting again. It’s almost like starting a new brand.” Thankfully, business has remained strong in Asia, allowing the Paris-based Japanese designer to stay afloat, he said.

“We stopped doing women’s wholesale because we couldn’t produce, we couldn’t deliver,” explained Esteban Saba, founder and managing director of U.S.-based Håndvaerk, showing at Woman. The brand has taken the opportunity to press reset, shifting from a loungewear focus to a collection of minimalist ready-to-wear pieces and sourcing fabrics in Europe and Japan (it previously bought mainly in Peru), favored by the strong dollar. Footfall at the stand had been brisk, Saba said. “We’ve been able to see some amazing stores, including some U.S. stores we didn’t see in New York.”

French jewelry maker Atelier Paulin chose to take stands at Première Classe and Tranoï to ensure maximum exposure as it reactivates wholesale. “The past two years have been up and down,” said co-founder and chief executive officer Matthias Lavaux on the label’s stand at Tranoï. “We had to close our boutique in the East Village [in New York] and we’ve managed to stay afloat thanks to e-commerce. We’re reactivating international now. The show’s been great; the Japanese, South Korean and U.S. markets, including the East Coast, have been very dynamic.”

Among brand revamps, Marie Marquet of MiniMe Paris was at Première Classe after six years away from wholesale. After several years offering upcycling workshops at her atelier and online customization tutorials, she was ready to present to buyers once more with a range of one-off pieces made to order, including tie-dyed felt hats with upcycled accessories as well as ready-to-wear pieces made from repurposed denim and bags crafted from Malhia Kent tweeds or old Adidas T-shirts.

“Customers buy an idea, a concept, rather than a finished product,” she explained.

The hats are offered at a price of 200 euros — she leaves retailers free to choose their own markup, she said. “People are coming back to craftsmanship and unique pieces,” she commented. “The reaction has been incredible.”

“The period is favorable for summer collections with a resort spirit and a joyful, colorful offer, with the highlighting of craftsmanship from various regions and countries,” said Le Bon Marché’s Cuvillier. “This links in with consumers’ search for craftsmanship and products with a story.”

Alexandra Senes, a former editor of Jalouse magazine who created her Kilomètre Paris label six years ago, agreed. “We’re benefiting from the trend for limited edition products,” she said.

She was pleasantly surprised by demand at Tranoï. “I really thought it was has-been to do a trade show,” she said. The brand offers shirts and now baskets embroidered with motifs featuring a range of travel destinations — it began with one-off pieces made with 19th-century white dress shirts and has since expanded, but cultivating rarity remains a focus.

Nevertheless, rising prices and supply chain difficulties were a concern for many.

“Everything takes longer, the suppliers have no stocks, and this is what the clients don’t understand,” said Munich-based designer Susanne Bommer, a longtime Tranoï exhibitor. “Fabric is 30 to 40 percent more expensive.”

“Labor costs are going up between 10 and 15 percent, and our production costs are 25 to 30 percent higher than pre-pandemic,” said Håndvaerk’s Saba. “We have a small price increase set for spring 2023, but way below what we need to cover the margin loss.”

Rue de Tokyo works mainly with European fabrics, but sourcing has been an issue, said Sahlin. “The raw materials are really difficult to get, especially woolen fibers,” he said. “Also, people in Europe don’t want to work in factories any more, and [mills] are downsizing, trying to have less customers and produce more high-end garments.” He continued, “Sourcing prices are up by around 30 percent, we are trying to absorb that in our margins.”

On the retail side, this is also having an impact. “I buy a little less from my most expensive brands,” said Par Terre’s Maebe. In such a context, upping creativity to stand out is key to attracting buyers in an inflationary context, Papandreou believes. “In this case, they are willing to pay a higher price. In other cases, they are being very sensible.”

Highlights at Première Classe, Tranoï Woman and Together

A design from JN. Mellor Club. Credit: Courtesy of JN. Mellor

JN. Mellor Club

Category: Leather goods

Showing at: Première Classe

Winners of last year’s Ville de Paris Grand Prize, Karine Arabian and Franck Blais take deadstock leathers from the big houses and transform them into accessories and decorative objects, creating one-off pieces like a striking tote adorned with a series of pebbles collected in the city and covered with pieces of skin in colorful hues.

Pricing: Bags 260 to 455 euros wholesale.

A bag from Laetis Design. Courtesy of Laetis Design

Laetis Design

Category: Leather goods

Showing at: Première Classe

The daughters of an Armenian Turkish family of leather manufacturers, sisters Letisya Hisarli and Alin Evihan respectively studied product design and business and marketing before deciding to launch their brand. With padded leather pieces in quirky shapes — one standout was shaped like a pyramid, for example — it was their first trade show as they open up for wholesale. Current stockists include Wolf & Badger and Vakko in Istanbul.

Pricing: Average retail price 750 euros.

Alkemeya’s Lava ring. Courtesy of Alkemeya

Dimitris Lantzounis

Alkemeya

Category: Fine jewelry

Showing at: Première Classe / Precious Room by Muriel Piaser

Playing with the precious stones her grandparents brought back from their life in South Africa was the inspiration behind trade show newcomer Daphne Tsitsiliani’s collection, inspired by alchemy, the “keme” in her brand’s name representing the fertile soil around the Nile, a motif evoked in the hammered surfaces of certain pieces in her delicate collection.

Pricing: 600 euros to 12,000 euros at retail.

Designs from Mussels and Muscles. Courtesy of Mussels and Muscles

Mussels and Muscles

Category: Jewelry

Showing at: Première Classe

Austrian Lea Koehn studied fine art before deciding to launch her costume jewelry label, using stones, glass and recycled silver to be as sustainable as possible. Highlights included glass ear cuffs and a quirky three-prong ring.

Pricing: 20 euros to 80 euros wholesale.

A design from 10.03.53. Courtesy of 10.03.53

@toutde.FAN

10.03.53

Category: Leather goods

Showing at: Première Classe

Leather specialist Luca Colosimo, who cut his teeth at brands including Gucci and Isabel Marant, launched his own label two years ago. “I wanted to get away from an imposed style and the unbearable schedule,” he said. Through a strong focus on research and development, he aims to reinvent classic bag shapes, by removing metallic parts for example, and turning technical features into design signatures.

Pricing: 250 euros to 680 euros retail.

A design by Violette Stehli. Photo by Fabrice Poincelet

Violette Stehli

Category: Jewelry

Showing at: Première Classe

Hyères Festival alum Violette Stehli has turned her childhood passion for collecting stones, shells and animal bones into a brand concept. After moving around a lot as a child, such mementos were her way of staying grounded, she explained. She now molds such items in silver or vermeil, turning them into striking jewelry pieces. Stehli also offers a made-to-order service where customers can send their own memories — baby and cat’s teeth and a crow’s foot are among her creations — to be transformed into jewelry pieces.

Pricing: 200 euros to 600 euros retail, around 1,000 euros for a made-to-measure piece.

Designs by Maison Maes. Courtesy of Maison Maes

Maison Maes

Category: Vegan leather goods

Showing at: Première Classe

Former finance executive Romain Boubert and graphic designer Géraldine Saquy launched their high-end vegan line in May, with classic esthetics and equivalent quality to the main luxury houses. Made with cactus leather — the manufacturing of which consumes nine times less energy and emits 20 times less carbon dioxide (the cacti are carbon positive) — the duo plans to introduce new materials, like mycelium, for future launches.

Pricing: 890 euros to 1,490 euros at retail.

A look from Jacquote. Courtesy of Jacquote

Courtesy

Jacquote

Category: Ready-to-wear

Showing at: Première Classe

Footwear and home furnishing designer Philippe Model debuted a new rtw line of silk, cotton and jersey pieces in simple shapes with prints taken from his colorful woven furniture.

Pricing:  210 euros to 530 euros at retail.

A look from Loraine Holmes. Courtesy of Loraine Holmes

Loraine Holmes

Category: Ready-to-wear

Showing at: Tranoï

Chilean designer Loraine Holmes, a newcomer at Tranoï who launched her label six years ago, takes her inspiration from the landscapes of her homeland, offering a sporty yet feminine wardrobe of denim and leather pieces mixed with transparent prints and quirky knits.

Pricing: 190 euros to 700 euros at retail.

A design from Carré Y. Courtesy of Carré Y

Carré Y

Category: Jewelry

Showing at: Tranoï

A former director of Thomas Sabo, Yacine Challal created his Carré Y genderless jewelry brand in 2014. The energetic designer is seeing strong demand for his fun costume pieces made from recycled steel and brass, especially since he created the crown and scepter for “Drag Race France” earlier this year. His latest collection has a “punk rock bondage” theme.

Pricing:  Average retail price 59 euros.

A hat by Jolie Su. Courtesy of Jolie Su

Jolie Su

Category: Hats

Showing at: Tranoï

After initially launching her brand as rtw, Alexandra Sulzynska turned her hand to hat making. She hopes to protect what she calls “a dying craft” in the process, working with Ecuadorian straw using a traditional weaving technique recognized by UNESCO and incorporating leather banding and deadstock ribbons on her minimalist designs.

Pricing:  From 195 euros to 330 euros at retail.

Bag by Bonastre. Courtesy of Bonastre

Bonastre

Category: Leather goods

Showing at: Woman

Fernando Bonastre is the designer behind Lemaire’s distinctive bags and has recently created collections for Marine Serre and Jacquemus. He is pressing reset for his own label, launched in 2011, with a genderless positioning to be implemented from next season. Bestsellers in the lineup, made from naturally tanned leather sourced from the food industry, include the “Bon-bon” crossbody bag.

Pricing: 395 euros to 750 euros at retail.

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