With Spring comes the Fair Season, and we personally cannot wait to join thousands of other design and art fanatics in roaming various convention centers across Europe for the coming months. The art/design fair is a strange and relatively recent phenomenon: a long-time stable for industry insiders of the fashion and design world, it became an increasing cultural destination in recent years, spawning a real explosion of them across the world, from Art Basel Hong Kong to SP-Arte in Brazil. The fair is a space of spectacle, amusement, and intense networking, and in the design world, there’s no more central than the Salone del Mobile in Milan.
One of the most enduring materials in the world of fashion manufacture is leather. The tanning of animal rawhides has served vestiary functions since the dawn of man, and has also become a degraded production technique in the age of mass-production. But luxury fashion has maintained an artisanal approach to this material and continue to prove its relevance in a sustainable fashion future. In this conversation, the French leather goods and fashion house Hermès is the ultimate ringleader, and yesterday, the family-owned business of a staggering 181 years announced a further commitment to artisanal leather production.
In this day and age, of Netflix and PirateBay, you may be more familiar with The Art of Binge-Watching than The Art of Style. The first is what you do in bed every time you’ve had more than 3 glasses of wine the night before, as well as most evenings in the months spanning October-April—the other is that fleeting thing that all of fashion evolves around, that thing that few posses, and even fewer manage to maintain. “Fashion fades, style is eternal” Yves Saint Laurent famously once said. Had he been alive today, we’re pretty sure he would have cancelled every online streaming memberships in his near vicinity—with the exception of a new fashion documentary series, which manages to capture the essence of fashion through the rapidness of the moving image. Art of Style, distributed by our favorite fashion channel M2M, is directed by Lisa Vreeland, fashion film maker and relative of the infamous Diana Vreeland (whose documentary, The Eye Has to Travel, she directed in 2011), and explores the creative worlds that inspire the world’s leading designers. In 10-minute episodes, we follow the creative director from the atelier to the streets, from fashion week to the library, and back again. Perfect for your lunch break, or a time-out in the bathroom hiding from your better half! The best part is: there are more than a dozen episodes. See the Iris Van Herpen episode above, and see more here.
If you dare to peek outside of the Western centers of fashion, you’ll find a sprawling landscape of young, international brands and fashion projects that are keen on challenging the conventions of the industry—be they formal, ethical, or social. In the young fashion scene of Manila, Philippines, emerging brand Toqa very much holds the baton, following the footsteps of peers like Carl Jan Cruz, whose highly personal take on ready to wear has made its mark globally. Shared between Toqa and Cruz is an international training and orientation—Toqa founders Isabel Sicat and Aiala Rickard met at the US design college RISD, and sharpened their teeth at Alexander Wang and Telfar—as well as a firm belief in using their origin and locale as more than a cheap place to produce. Launching at this year’s Manila Biennale with a dazzling runway show in the historic Intramuros’ Puerta Real Garden, Toqa revels in images of island life, while committing to a radically sustainable production model. We caught up with Toqa to learn more.
Even though it’s been well over a year since the passing of David Bowie, we still haven’t recovered. The British singer and rockstar was a genius much beyond what usually is allowed for in the fields of music, entertainment, fashion, even art, in that he transgressed all these categories. Bowie created a cultural myth that was transgressive in its form as much as its politics. Bowie gender-fucked before RuPaul; he did techno before Kraftwerk; and switched personas before Lady Gaga (even Madonna), and is one of the very few who straddles God-like status in both the mainstream and the underground. Bowie was finally subject to a large retrospective exhibition in 2013 at the V&A in London, presenting a vast selection of objects and material from his personal archive, including more than 60 custom-made performance costumes, handwritten lyric sheets, oil paintings, as well as a compilation of his many iconic media appearances, including 40 music videos, television clips, and filmed roles. The show has traveled the world without break, and now finally arrives at New York’s Brooklyn Museum, which will constitute the exhibition’s last institutional home. Roaring queues are guaranteed; so book your ticket in advance. You’ll probably rarely get to see this stuff again.
It’s finally Spring, and what better way to break out of your winter’s cocoon than to go see some exhibitions? Culture has proven to stabilize serotonin levels, and considering the bleakness of the season just past, God knows we need it. For March, we suggest you head to the Fashion City of all Fashion Cities, the birthplace of capitalism and thus of fashion itself: Antwerp. The Belgian port city boasts a historically rich urban center, and thanks to its prestigious fashion college, some of the most important designers to have emerged in the last 50 years. Margiela, Demeulemeester, and Van Noten all live in and around the city, which also boasts the best vintage designer stores in the world (our all-time favorite is Labels Inc). After your dose of consumption, head over to the city’s fashion museum to learn more about one of Belgium’s most cherished, yet still relatively unpraised designer Olivier Theyskens. The Belgian designer famously dropped out of Paris’ elite fashion college Chambre Syndicale to start his own brand, and would later assume the role as creative director at Rocha, and later, Nina Ricci. For over 20 years, Theyskens has mastered the balance between couture and casualwear, with a high technical precision and an always with a hint of the romantic. Open ’till 15th of April.
Fashion comebacks. We’ve seen plenty of them. We’ve seen the most ludicrous brand revivals; age-old labels bought by companies looking to profit from a brand’s aura by selling makeup, perfumes, or accessories. The fashion industry is keen on a comeback. But, bringing back a label into the game requires a certain dexterity. Jens Laugesen has that, thankfully. The Central Saint Martins graduate took a ten-year break, only to come back with a clearer aesthetic, a stronger creative message, and a commercially viable offering. During this hiatus, Laugesen spent time at Calvin Klein under Francisco Costa and taught fashion design in Paris at the École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture. The Danish fashion designer has decided to relaunch his brand, so we visited his studio nested in Haggerston, in busy East London, to take a look at his A/W 2018 collection. A smiling Laugesen welcomes us into his studio and we already know it’s great to have him back.
There is no better smell than the smell of fashion. For those who dismiss perfumes manufactured by luxury fashion houses as watered-down branding-proxies, a relatively affordable wiff the life in opulence that we all aspire to, they fail to see that the contemporary human being senses not through through chemical compounds floating in the air registered via the nose, but through taste. Didn’t you read Bourdieu in college? Even if Paris Hilton’s 32nd perfume just so happened to be the best in the world, we wouldn’t be caught dead with it in our toilet cabinets. No-uh. Rather, what you’d find is the latest olfactory innovation from Maison Louis Vuitton, the seasoned French luxury brand who arrived in the scent industry only two years ago. With incredible packaging and an actually ambitious scent design strategy overseen by Master Perfumer Jacques Cavallier Belletrud at their in-house atelier in Grasse (the capital of global perfume production). The new scent Le Jour Se Lève is characterized by the magical excitement of dawn, where the sun caresses the tree tops signaling a new day. Mandarin is the base note here, paired with the more subtle Jasmine Sambac from China, and finally, a subtle stint of magnolia petals, apricot-tinged osmanthus and a subtly tangy blackcurrant accord. What is getting my heart going right now, you may ask yourself – the olfactory ingredients? The answer is LV. It always is.
The mainstream eye-wear market is both mind boggling and pricey: a roster of luxury brands dominate the industry through opaque but far-reaching licensing deals and mass manufacturing, while retail is dispersed across individual and chain vendors. This leads to a particularly inaccessible system for emerging brands, as well as steep price points for consumers (a pair of frames usually falling around the €400 benchmark). Luckily, in recent years a number of young brands have found ways to circumvent this dissatisfying set-up, and one of the brightest shining stars in this generation is Amsterdam-based Ace & Tate. Known for their hip take on classic frame design, the young brand skip license-holders and retail by selling exclusively online and in their stores in Amsterdam, Brussels, Berlin, and Copenhagen (to name but a few locations). This results in frames offered at the neat price of €98 – quite a no-brainer! Keeping in the spirit of their hipster roots, their most recent campaign – called Come as You Are, echoing the infamous Nirvana anthem – sees Ace & Tate’s creative team take a closer look at the creative class of their Dutch home town, highlighting the work and stories of selected designers, artists, and other creatives. We caught up with Anoma Whittaker, Head of Creative at Ace & Tate, to discuss eyewear design and the future of the rapidly growing brand.
AW 2018 WOMENS SHOW – LIVE SATURDAY MARCH 3RD AT 6 PM