Cities in general and New York City in particular are a magnet, in that they violently repulse or attract people. While it's true that as E.B White observed there are those who, "give the city its tidal restlessness" in that they neither love nor hate it but tolerate and manage it. I have no love for them as their lack of passion in the face of so much of it marks them as dull. I am in love with New York City. Sometimes in my travels through fashion and design I find reflections of my ardor in others and their work. I felt that way when I first encountered Christine Elleni. I strongly suspect that her residence in both Sydney and now San Francisco confirms that she has an urban heart, and her work based on NYC further confirms that at the least she has a crush on the Grand Lady of Glass & Steel.
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Monday, December 30, 2013
Couture exists and will always exist because of the desire for exclusivity. There is no more powerful marker of taste and self awareness than having something made specifically for you or in purchasing a guaranteed one of a kind item. To be able to utter, "I had it made" in responses to the inevitable questions is to instantly set yourself apart. I predict a return to local and regional couture as a major component of fashion's future and indeed there are signs of it already occurring. With the internet as a globally reaching platform one area that will likely explode first is bags and packs. The lack of fit issues makes them among the most obtainable and the de facto lower price makes them the easiest way to tag yourself as a person of taste and understanding. Meet Maxxmaximus from California. His bags serve as one half of the perfect example. His availability on Farfetch as the other.
Sunday, December 29, 2013
Menswear is inching closer to freedom. Designers are finally begin to challenging the conventions of construction that have existed in menswear for over a century. Nimesh Gadhia hasn't radically re-imagined everything about men's clothing but he has created beautiful constructed collections featuring great tailoring, fine fabrics, and a plethora of innovative touches that are definitely pointing in the right direction.
Saturday, December 28, 2013
First, go look at Erika Cavallini's "Look book" http://www.semi-couture.it/video_lookbook/lookbook-fw-13-14/?lang=en. Okay now that you understand it's the 21st Century we can move on. Erika Cavallini is a complete brand. She does beautiful RTW that possesses a refined romantic softness. She does very understated luxurious shoes and accessories and very unique bridal pieces. As a designer she doesn't need to reinvent radical new structures and treatments every season. Her collection and everything in it all speak of a timeless approach that values quality, fit, and spirit over trends.
Friday, December 27, 2013
The bad news in fashion is that virtually all of the things that worked well in the 20th Century don't in the 21st. The good news is the same. As we as an industry grapple with the changes that the internet and the exposure of capitalism's faults have wrought, one question remains more vexing than the others. How will people dress tomorrow? That question is of course the alpha and omega of fashion and twas ever thus. In this age I've come to believe that the twin shocks of 9/11 and the economic collapse have much of the world in a collective PTSD. As we shake that off and regain our optimism about tomorrow I would bank on a return to highly individualized bold and confrontational styles returning to the fore. Serbian designer Ana Ljubinkovic is precisely the type of revolutionary designer who can set the tone. Her play with structure and her powdery color palette are the type of "uniform" that I believe the next, and much needed, generation of radicals will favor.
Thursday, December 26, 2013
A major weakness in American fashion today is the lack of the fantastical and experimental. When you design clothes solely to sell you get dull clothes. American fashion has for the most part lost it's willingness to risk rejection. "You're not supposed to give people what they want, you're supposed to give them what they don't know that they want yet" correctly opined Diana Vreeland only a few decades ago, yet that approach has been chained in a basement for what seems like an eternity. There can be no doubt that we have the talent, what is needed now is for them to either collectively raise their middle fingers to the powers that be. Or for those powers to admit that the efficient profit focused structure they've created is in fact a prison. Ziad Ghanem is a young talented British designer who is a crowd and editor favorite. We have his equals in America we need to let what he does happen here. I acknowledge that their are designers in America who do cut loose with fearless flights of fancy season after season. But it is only when they are celebrated by the Conde Nasts and Fairchilds of the world as much as the dullard copy cats who are "top American designers" these days that we can proudly take our place again on the world stage.
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
My first serious insight in fashion was that in order for a brand to survive the clothes have to be distinctive in some way. It is always best for them to be distinctive visually as this leads to immediate attraction from potential customers. It is the designer who is able to create this attraction with subtle and small touches who I always find most intriguing and attractive. Justin Thornton and Thea Bragazzi from Preen are both precisely that type of designer. The design choices they make in fabric, shape, embellishment, and detail are always of the type that draw your eye without being garish. See if you can spot their choices in the below highlights from their Pre-Fall '14.
Monday, December 23, 2013
Every single time your brand communicates with the outside world it's a branding opportunity. The separation between "Editorial" & "Industry" shots is useless and dead. Modern brands can and must communicate their brand values and "reward" via social media and their site daily. Your brand's look book for each collection is a huge opportunity for you to message. The model, the environment, and most importantly what he or she is doing in each photograph are a critical chance for you to tell your customers what values your brand possesses and what they will gain from wearing you. Sharon Wauchob sent a crystal clear message with her Pre-Fall '14 lookbook don't you think?
Sunday, December 22, 2013
A core component of every successful fashion brand is being identifiable. The ability for people to know whose designs someone is wearing simply by seeing them. We often refer to it as , "having a signature". In service to this aim a secret weapon that is often deployed is having "blocks". A block is a pattern that is repeated throughout a collection and it wonderfully kills not two but three birds with one stone. First it allows you to nail your garments fit across multiple styles. Make one core pattern for a blouse, test it on your fit model and once it's perfect use it in three to four styles. Done in a different fabrics, colors, and modified at the sleeve, collar, or what have you it ensures that all of your blouses fit exactly as you intend them. Secondly, it saves time which is always a huge deal in collection prep. Lastly it assists in creating a signature look. It's important to realize when you're trying to create consistency across a collection that you're speaking to the subconscious. It's how your looks are defined in that unfiltered reaction that matters most. You want a buyer to get the sense that everything is cohesive as quickly as possible, within the first three to five looks. It creates a positive inclination as they view the rest of the collection. Emilio de la Morena and his team have created a perfect example of this technique with their Pre-Fall '14. How many blocks can you spot?
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Good fashion should be difficult to describe. It should challenge your commitment to accuracy and stretch the reach of your vocabulary. This is often most challenging when there's something special about the designs but it's subtle and not revolutionary, flamboyant, or classically elegant. Sea of NYC is such a brand. Their construction is neither radical nor staid, their fabrics neither loud nor plain. What they do well is make very beautiful well made clothes that project a spirit of calm independence. Their designs are comfortable and interesting. In short Sean Monahan and Monica Paolini make good choices when designing. The result is sales and that's how it's supposed to work.
A beautiful clean leather dress, it's the one long vertical line in combination with the two lower horizontal ones that elevate it.
A soft warm sweater over a beautiful large lace maxi skirt. Different looking but not defensively spirited.
Another great large pattern lace piece. Intricate without being busy.
Great cut, great print equals great dress.
The large unbroken grey visual field allows for the animal print. It mellows it and keeps it from reading as loud.