Saturday, November 30, 2013

Designer of the Day: Araks Yermyan

Subtlety in fashion is difficult for many. The casual observer often doesn't possess the context to know why something is special or innovative. The job of the press is to illuminate the subtle and sublime but right now we have a new wave of very young and inexperienced press so they're not able to do that very well even though many of them are passionate about fashion and are very talented writers/reporters. As a result of this unfortunate circumstance many talented designers aren't really getting the level of praise they should for the designs they're creating. Araks Yermyan is a great example of this unfortunate phenomenon. She's neither loud nor flashy but her creative use of shape and structure as well as her balance in detailing are extraordinary. As befits a designer who comes from a lingerie background her clothes are always comfortable and even when rendered in heavier fabrics they are not restrictive. There is an ease about her work but her clothes are never overly casual. Her greatest strength lies there. She gives her client the opportunity to express a very composed sense but get dressed in minutes. That's worthy of some celebration.

Spring '12
Arak's at her most casual is still balanced and together and full of great details.

Fall '12
And at her most formal the designs are still  easy and comfortable.

Spring '13
Her tailoring touches really put her work on a much higher plane.

Fall '13
She often creates extraordinarily sophisticated designs.

Spring '14
How wonderful is this? A riff on a classic American casual look precisely rendered in luxurious fabrics.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Designer of the Day- Julian Fournie

Fashion is afraid of sex. Fashion has a very tortured and ugly relationship with the sexuality of women. When designs leave the comfortable parameters that we have established for them all hell breaks loose. We still like women to accept roles that were created for them by men. You can be the country girl, the femme fatale, the school teacher, or the cheerleader but don't define yourself sexually if you're a woman. Yet we ultimately break down and celebrate the provocateurs who do provide the wardrobe for a woman to aggressively take charge of her sexuality. We call them horrible names and ban them for the first five years, then, if they survive, we're throwing retrospectives by the time they hit ten years. Julian Fournie is such a designer. His play with material, silhouette, and exposure mark his work as sexual but in a complicated way. In some designs you can't see a lick of erogenous skin and the woman never feels objectified. His clothes amplify rather than comfortably categorize a woman's sexuality. They are also being presented at the rarefied level of Paris Haute Couture which further complicates the relationship. I think Julian Fournie is incredibly healthy for fashion. Do you?

Fall '11 Couture
Julien Fournie
Haute Couture Fashion Show
Winter 2011 2012
His styling always adds an attitude of predatory aggression.

Spring '12 Couture
Note where the color tipped and longer plumes are coming from.

Fall '12 Couture
Elongating lines are a staple. They add stature and power.

Spring '13 Couture
His cuts are most often tight.

Fall '13 Couture
The elegant dominatrix.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Bad journalistic practices at Business Of Fashion

Updated: They just published my comment at 1:12pm EST.

Some days your blog post just writes itself. Earlier this week CEO & founder of Business Of Fashion Imran Amed wrote an Op-ed piece called Reasserting the Role of the Fashion Press. It was a reaction to a previous piece by WWD's Bridget Foley that detailed attempts by PR to control press and coverage in fashion. In it he claimed nobility and purity for Business Of Fashion on this subject. I responded thus, 

"You might have a little less trouble with authority on this topic if your site didn't sell publishing space for money & post unidentified sponsored content."

He responded to my accusations with the following, 

"Thank you all for your comments.

To be clear, we take editorial integrity extremely seriously. BoF does not under any circumstances “sell publishing space for money & post unidentified sponsored content” as suggested by Seth Friedermann in his comment.

Any content that is sponsored or supported by advertisers is always clearly labeled as such."

The problem with that is that they don't.

I found an article from July where they let a company shill on behalf of a textile client without identifying it and posted it as a comment. The comment is below.

"Imran, what you said in response to my comment simply isn't true. Here is proof from your own archives. On July 9th of 2013 in your Global Currents section you published the following piece written by Genevieve Flaven, Nowhere in or around this piece is Genevieve Flaven identified as anything other than, "Genevieve Flaven is CEO of Style-Vision Asia, a trend agency based in Shanghai." Clicking through to her agency and simply looking on her list of clients one finds LUTHAI as a paying client. You let a company write an article for your magazine and in no way labeled it as an advertisement for the subject of that article. On that day your claims of objectivity died.

I want to be very clear what my intent is, I do not wish you ill Imran. We've not met, I have no sense of you as a person. You might be, and most likely are, a decent person with worthy aims. Nor do I wish BOF any ill, I read it every day. In fact I asked every single member of Manufacture New York's executive staff to read the piece that Vikram Alexi Kansara wrote this week because I thought it provided critical insight into our industry's future. My job as the Director of Designer Relations for Manufacture New York is to help fashion designers. Whether that is aimed inward at helping them source fabric, find ways to keep production costs down, or merchandising a collection. Or if it is aimed outward at helping the fashion industry to be a healthy and more just place so talent wins over money. That is my goal here; to not let money win. Nobody should have the advantage of a free ad in a major publication.

BOF can be whatever it wants, do whatever it wants, but I do ask that it do so honestly."

They declined to publish my response which I anticipated they might do so I saved it and am cut and pasting it here. If there's one lesson that the world is learning here in the early part of the 21st Century it's that you can't hide ANYTHING any more.  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Designer of the Day- Naeem Khan

One of the premier evening wear designers in the world is New York's own Naeem Khan. The first Indian designer to transport his native culture's rich and unique high fashion sense to America. Naeem Khan's popularity is not solely due to his embroidery and embellishment as some might have you believe. He has that precise editors' eye that all the great ones possess and the ability to add subtle touches that elevate his work. 

Spring '13
His garments other than his gowns are too often not focused on. See the great movement he achieves with this day dress.

Pre Fall '13
Tremendous controlled draping in a short dress.

Fall '13
His level of luxury is second to none.

Resort '14
Maribou and gleaming and intricate fabric are dramatic but it's the subtle addition of the colored tiles that make this piece magical.

Spring '14
The line created by the silk mesh across the top of the shoulder and the fact that the dress is lace keep it from appearing heavy or overwrought.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Designer of the Day- Arzu Kaprol

The core of my love for fashion is that moment when I am standing in front of a garment which is obviously a dream brought to life. A vision birthed, with all the trial and pain that word owns, of human hands but from divine impulse. It doesn't happen all the time but it's sweet enough when it does that the mere memory of it sustains me for years till I'm blessed with it again. The first time I saw an Arzu Kaprol couture piece last year it was such a moment. An exquisite idea rendered in the finest material and executed to a level of precision that the Lord almighty must have been whispering in the teams' ears. An underground tip in European circles her slow but steady growth and magnificent designs finally brought her to Bergdorf Goodman this year. She's not done yet... You'll see.

Fall '11
Her work often features an aggressive spirit.

Fall '12
She has a light touch with embellishments.

Spring RTW '13
Her construction concepts are extraordinary.

Couture Fall '12
It's refreshing to see a couturier's love of detail executed in a modern way.

Couture Fall '13
She has an understanding of drama.

RTW Fall '13
The notches in the front of the jacket are a typical innovation and make me think of a reversed tailcoat.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Designer of the Day- Alice Temperley

By far the most critical and oft overlooked pillar of building a successful fashion company is client identification. If you know precisely who the woman is that you are designing for you will naturally generate consistency and a strong brand signature without even discussing them. This is because you will always know the answer to, "Would my client wear this?" Alice Temperley is a perfect example. All of her collections, including her bridal, sparkle with the same spirit and wit. Though she was raised on an English cider farm her designs possess an urbane sophistication. Yet any refinement is electrified with an adventurous and flat out fun energy. Luxurious but never stodgy, her woman is quite frankly someone most designers are dying to dress. 

Pre-Spring 13
A lovely ribbon of print in a perfectly draped gown. Elegant but lively.

Spring '13
There is often a spirit of romance in her work.

Pre-Fall '13
Alice at her most sophisticated and tailored.

Fall '13
She never fears packing a visual punch.

Spring '14
She can also be so soft and demure.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Designer of the Day- Todd Lynn

There are two truths about Todd Lynn that I have always enjoyed. He gets knocked off a lot by "bigger names" and the fashion press never knows what to say about him. His collections differ a fair amount from season to season which tends not to endear you to the press. In fashion though it's the buyers that matter and as of this season he has over twenty of the top boutiques in the world stocking his clothes with new accounts coming on board every season. This is because despite some writing to the contrary he has a strong and consistent signature. Todd Lynn enjoys rawness, roughness, deconstruction and the edge it gives to otherwise demure materials. He returns to those themes over and over. It will be muted,altered, and often accentuated by his inspiration for the season but it is always there. It's the consistency that often places him ahead of his peers but as Albert Brooks once perfectly said, "There is no line at the bank for being ahead of your time." 

Spring '12
An extraordinary experiment in linear play.

Fall '12
He doesn't always play with shape but the results when he does are spectacular. Note the diagonal "slashes" at the top of the chest, this is something he does often.

Spring '13
He is justly admired for his work in leather and suede.

Fall '13
The refined treatments on the skirt contrasting with the raw and animalistic nature of the top.

Spring '14
His latest collection saw him play with raw construction techniques using refined fabrics. I love the asymmetrical hip treatment here.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Designer of the Day: Tomas Maier

Bottega Veneta's brilliant designer for over a decade has won respect and admiration for his talents as the creator of a vibrant, romantic, powerful, and often risky body of work. His precise hand at draping insures that his higher volume dresses will never swallow the wearer, and yet he is equally adept at body conscious slinky and seductive shapes. One of my favorite qualities of his is his palette. He fears no color or print and works with color as a painter, populating his collections with vivid dashes and rich tones.

Spring '12
Of course he is a master at leather work. It's a job requirement at Bottega Veneta.

Fall '12
Luxurious fabrics are never compromised but he also is not mired in the 20th Century by them.

Spring '13
I love the repetition of the panels but in two different colors. 

Fall '13
One of the toughest challenges a designer can face is fabric on fabric embellishment. Especially in raised sections such as ruching, fins, pleats etc...

Spring '14
Again a complex high fabric volume technique done beautifully. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Designer of the Day- Douglas Hannant

Douglas Hannant is an extraordinarily gifted designer. But one of the skills I've always admired in him is his client knowledge. He knows his client's needs and desires as well as any designer I know. His clients live in a world that has a very high taste level and so they, and he, must maintain a discerning sense for the highest quality. It is his discipline in this that I deeply admire. His fabrics and construction are always impeccable in every aspect. 

Resort '13
His designs possess a vitality. They enliven as well as charm.

Spring '13
He has a master's editing skill. Embellishments that could easily go wrong in lesser hands are always handled flawlessly. 

Fall '13
He never allows his work to become overly complicated or weighed down.

Resort '14
He often includes play with updates on classic shapes. 

Spring '14
His draping skills are unquestionable.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Designer of the Day - Gary Graham

Gary Graham is as good a fashion designer as we have working in New York City today. You wouldn't know it though because Gary doesn't seek out press very loudly instead keeping his head over the cutting table creating his beautiful designs. He has a fascinating and complex aesthetic. His vibrant and kaleidoscopic textiles are combined with precise draping and often layered with tailored pieces to create a consistently compelling look. There is always a brilliant homespun feel to his work. It is, and this is seldom used as a compliment, very American.  

Spring '12
Such innovative construction!

Fall '12
His precise mixing and matching of multiple textiles creates his compelling complexity.

Spring '13
It's not just the print but the way it's used in combination with the beautifully controlled draping.

Fall '13
His fabrics are always beautiful and deeply luxurious.

Spring '14
There is often a delicacy to his work. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Designer of the Day - Alexandre Herchcovitch

There is a particular high fashion client who I've always found wonderful and alluring. She favors designers who craft clothes that are not easily categorized. They always seem a little unbalanced or have elements that seem like they shouldn't work together but do. The reason they do and the reason that woman is attracted to them is because they are designed with precision. Alexandre Herchcovitch is one such designer. When you study his designs up close you will have revealed to you a mathematical preciseness that were it not there would make the designs feel amateurish and clunky. Pay particular attention to the critical areas of shoulder, neck, breast, and waist and you may get a sense of what I'm saying.  

Pre Fall '12
Note the refined treatment of the cuffs and collar.

Fall '12
Working in metallics is always tricky. Using them in a non traditional shape requires a very refined touch.

Spring '13
The fact that this designs maintains balance is a testament to the correctness of Herchcovitch's approach.

Fall '13
This season was about flowers, but it was much about their seeming imperfections as the perfected romantic ideal of them. Hence the unbalanced curling in the layered silk treatment, clever no?

Spring '14
The rawness of the lace edges adds a wildness to what would normally be a super polished design,.

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