Monday, 30 December 2013

Fashion news

Friends Ebonnie Masini-Thomson and Natasha Chernov Homann were shopping together for pyjamas when the idea for a business was born.

"There was a lot out there that was sexy or with cute ducks, teddy bears and clouds, but we didn't want that," said Masini-Thomson. "We wanted something sophisticated and fashion-forward, so we decided to do it ourselves."
A Kris Van Assche running shoe available at Sneakerboy.

Launched four weeks ago, luxury sleepwear brand Masini & Chern produces traditional pyjamas for men and women that can be worn on the streets as well as between the sheets.

The PJs, priced from $175 to $230 a pair, are already attracting significant interest. Actress Phoebe Tonkin received more than 50,000 likes when she posted a picture of herself in a striped pair on Instagram, and the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles has requested palm print pairs for its VIP clients that will come with monogrammed cuffs.

"The reaction has been really great, so we're planning a trip to Los Angeles in the new year and we'll start wholesaling to various fashion and lifestyle boutiques," said Masini-Thomson.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

'American Hustle' a portrait of swank '70s fashion

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- From Christian Bale's burgundy velour blazer to Amy Adams' plunging sequin halter dress, "American Hustle" is a cinematic romp through the over-the-top styles of the 1970s.

Set in New York and New Jersey in 1978, the film tells the story of a pair of con artists (Bale and Adams) forced to work for a cocky FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) bent on bringing down powerbrokers and politicians. This decadent world of power, crime and big money comes to life through ostentatious fashions and outrageous hairdos. All the characters are reinventing themselves, and it shows in their clothes.

"They had ideas, they lived large and they took risks," costume designer Michael Wilkinson said of the '70s styles that inspired his designs. "Clothes were less structured, had less underpinnings -- it was like people didn't give a damn."

Though the Australian-born Wilkinson said his childhood was drenched in American pop culture, "I approached this as a research project, just like you would study about the Greek ruins or outer galaxy."

He scoured Cosmopolitan magazine, along with advertisements, movies and TV shows of the era. "Goodfellas" and "Atlantic City" were particularly influential films.

"And 'Saturday Night Fever' from 1977," Wilkinson added. "(That) had the most pertinence to Bradley Cooper's character. He's a guy from the Bronx, and he lived life as a black-and-white moral shooter working for the FBI, and wears a cheap polyester suit that doesn't fit him so well."

The character ups his fashion game after meeting the dapper con-couple.

"He ends up in a silk shirt and silk scarf, which are pop-culture references," Wilkinson said. "And then he wears a leather jacket to the FBI."

The designer relished in Halston's vintage vault, to which he was granted access for the film, and he dressed Adams in authentic pieces from the '70s.

"The lines (of clothing silhouettes) of the late '70s, with designers like Halston, were reinventing the wardrobe of women," he said. "It was about being comfortable in your skin and walking tall."

Hair is so prominent in "American Hustle," it's practically another character. Lead hairstylist Kathrine Gordon studied old issues of Playboy and high-school yearbooks from the '70s for inspiration.

She and Bale worked together to create his character's elaborate comb-over, complete with fuzzy, glue-on hairpiece. The film opens with a scene of its careful construction.

"I came up with this idea to stuff it," Gordon said of the comb-over she cut into Bale's real hair. "And then (director) David (O'Russell) rewrote the script, and I taught Christian how to do it on camera."

Adams wears styles reminiscent of disco parties, Studio 54 and "the Breck girl" ads of the era. Jeremy Renner, who plays a New Jersey politician, has a fluffy bouffant. Jennifer Lawrence, an unhappy wife in the film, wears bouncy, sex-kitten updos whether she's going out or not. And Cooper rocks a tight perm: He's shown wearing curling rods in one scene.

Wilkinson, whose film credits include "Man of Steel," ''Tron: Legacy" and "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part II," said he especially loved playing with fabrics, colors and prints for Bale's charming con-man.

"I'm really proud of Christian Bale," the designer said. "It shows the possibility of an expression of personality in menswear. He explores his character in his clothes and he's a man of the world. He mixes prints

Friday, 20 December 2013

Are Fake Handbags Going Extinct? This Technology Makes It Possible

Even if you're a total expert on the Louis Vuitton linings and Chanel hardware, it can still be difficult to spot a fake handbag. So, the best way to keep track of the counterfeit goods that flood e-commerce sites and, yes, Canal Street? Make branding part of a carryall's DNA. Literally.

This is the technology currently in the works by Juan Hinestroza, a Cornell textile scientist, as well as Dr. Ken Kuno of the University of Notre Dame. “You can make signatures by coating individual cotton fibers [with nanoparticles of metal], like a barcode,” Kuno told Popular Science, explaining how their new marking system will only be trackable by metallic detectors. While the scientists have claimed that they're currently working with popular handbag brands, they haven't revealed which ones in particular.

Though there are other, similar DNA-like systems in place, this newest one also claims to be the easiest to use. Click over to read more about the new invention that could preserve the integrity of our favorite fashion labels forever. For real. (Popular Science)

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Supremebeing Menswear: AW13 Collection

British streetwear label Supremebeing has released their AW13 collection of vibrant and colourful casual basics with an edge. The label formed back in 1999 with a goal to fuse together the passions of street culture, art, music and fashion – and this latest collection certainly does that.

The collection has a vintage Americana vibe, with references to the current varsity/collegiate trend throughout. Pieces fuse together 1950s style with 1960s utility and military influences to create clothes that look good and actually serve a purpose. Pattern and texture is a prominent feature of the collection, ensuring it remains seasonally-appropriate and adding a welcome touch of character to the overall aesthetic.

Though colour features heavily, including bold colour pops that you wouldn’t traditionally associate with autumn/winter, Supremebeing have not forgotten Britain’s notorious weather, with a wide selection of outerwear in the form of parkas, hunting gilets & jacket liners taking centre stage.

A collection highlight is the ‘Guru’ olive nylon jacket, which features a new take on the camo trend. The brand’s Pine Camo print is based on the 1965 Strichmuster (Dash Print) used by the SWAPO, South West Africa People’s Organisation, in their fight against South African Apartheid. Reworked by the label, the graphic dashes have been super-sized in tonal colours. The jacket is also available in a navy/yellow two-tone colour way that offers more of a varsity appeal – a nice alternative if camo/military isn’t for you.

Another favourite, and a great way to inject some colour into our dreary winter months, is the ‘Billet’ short. The button-up long sleeve shirt makes use of colour-blocking to great effect, incorporating blocks of red, yellow and navy, along with contrasting collar and pocket details, within the design. It’s a piece that cannot fail to make a statement.

Overall, the collection is a strong mix of everyday pieces with a down to earth, youthful edge, in a vibrant colour palette that is versatile enough to integrate with existing wardrobe staples.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Style File: Going down the Tube - London Underground inspired clothing called Roundel

Any mod worth their mop top knows what a roundel is – the circular insignia

often to be found on military aircraft was adopted by that movement many moons

ago. But the roundel that people may be most familiar with is that of London

Underground’s iconic branding.

Although the 150th anniversary of the Tube has been celebrated this year, the

roundel did not come into use until the early 1900s, and its use is fiercely

controlled by Transport for London. So a new clothing line called Roundel, and

rife with motifs familiar to any Tube user – from typography to Misha Black’s

“District” upholstery for seats on District Line trains,  created in 1978 –

definitely has the seal of approval.

At the heart of the collection, a collaboration with Slam Jam, which has been

creating and  distributing streetwear since 1989, is the motto “Thanks to the

Underground, we are all Londoners now”, which has been taken as a symbol of the

 inclusive and democratic nature of the public transport system that many love

to hate.

As well as T-shirts bearing slogans and logos, softly tailored pieces include a

work suit, school blazer and a selection of work shirts modelled on the

historic Underground uniform. Another updated classic is the MA-1- style

bomber, which has been a  symbol of youth style across the generations.

Trainers come in the form of Nike Air Max, two styles of which have been

created in a jacquard of woven polyester in Black’s “District” design.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Screw Factory offers Last Minute Market for all of you procrastinators

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Are you a last-minute holiday shopper? Do you find the best treasures when Santa's deadline looms? The Last Minute Market and Screw Factory Open Studio event was created with procrastinators in mind.

The Screw Factory, also known as the Lake Erie Building at Templar Industrial Park (13000 Athens Ave., Lakewood) will be brimming with holiday shoppers and art enthusiasts from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m Saturday, Dec. 21.

There will be fine crafts, fine art, funky art, high-end jewelry and fun gifts, when some of the 30 or so permanent artists open their studios and more than 100 jury-selected crafts people and artists set up shop on the building's second and third floors.

The show is organized by Cleveland Handmade Markets. Market organizer Kathy Patton says that the event began in 2008 in a borrowed Westlake warehouse as a year-end party for about 25 artists who knew each other from Etsy and from the Cleveland Handmade group. They all brought their leftover stock and shopped each other's crafts during the party.

They moved the party to the Screw Factory the following year, opened it to the public and invited the artists with studios in the building to participate. That year, there were about 60 exhibitors, and it has grown every year since.

An eight-person selection committee chooses the 100 invited artists out of more than 200 applicants. This has become one of the more a competitive shows around, Patton says, so there's great work around every corner.

The market will offer paintings, drawings, woodwork, ceramics, beauty items, bags, leather goods, clothing, photography, edible treats, hand-blended tea, jewelry, candles, home decor, glasswork, stationery, and even honey wine mead that is produced in the building. The Umami Moto food truck will be parked outside.

Templar Motor Cars made automobiles in the building from 1917 to 1924. Check out the Templar Room on the third floor for a look at Dave Buehler's collection of beautiful Templar cars. They were built in that room almost 100 years ago.

With all the offerings, you just might discover that Last Minute is really the best time and place to shop.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

How Alyssa Milano Created a Fan-Gear Fashion Empire for Women

Alyssa Milano isn’t crazy about pink. “I was in Dodger Stadium, and I was freezing—it was the beginning of the season, before the poop smell sets in,” says the star of TV’s Who’s the Boss? and Charmed, recalling a baseball game she attended eight years ago. “I went into the store to get something warm to wear. And I was offended.” The only color available in women’s clothing was pink. “Their answer for female sports apparel back then was ‘pink it and shrink it.’ It was either that or buy something from the kids’ section. Which I did. I got a kid’s hoodie.” In Dodger blue.

Milano, 40, figured she could do better than the mini Pepto-Bismol tees. So in 2007 she paid a fashion illustrator to draw some less boxy, team-color-appropriate clothing. Her agent happened to be friends with someone at Major League Baseball’s marketing division and got her a meeting with some execs. They liked her idea enough to set her up with former New York Giant Carl Banks, who runs the sports clothing collection for G-III Apparel Group, the $1.2 billion company that has licensing deals with Levi’s, Guess? Calvin Klein and the major sports leagues. G-III Apparel agreed to manufacture and distribute her nascent line, Touch by Alyssa Milano, which had this motto: “Where the game meets the after party.”
“My idea was to make Touch fashionable enough for women to wear outside the arena,” Milano says. The line, which was launched in 2008, now includes $85 quilted jackets in team colors, $45 jeans with logos on the back pockets, and $30 pendant necklaces with the logo in a crystal-lined silver heart. Milano chose the designs and modeled every piece on her website.

Still, her pitch meetings were a bust. She had trouble convincing team buyers that she even knew enough about sports to understand what she was selling. “It was a lot of work to validate my passion and knowledge. It’s probably what every woman goes through when she’s a sports fan. Except I was trying to validate it to Jim Rome,” she says of being interviewed by the loudmouthed sports talk show host. Milano grew up in Brooklyn, where she bonded with her dad and brother over New York Giants and L.A. Dodgers games. (Her dad stayed loyal even when the Dodgers did not.) She’s dated several professional athletes, such as hockey player Wayne McBean and pitchers Carl Pavano, Barry Zito, and Brad Penny. She’s also had L.A. Kings season tickets since she was 15 and Dodgers season tickets for the past 10 years. Milano blogs for; hosts segments on the TBS network called Hot Corner; and wrote a book in 2009 called Safe at Home: Confessions of a Baseball Fanatic. Her Australian shepherd is named Dodger Dog.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Dice Kayek: Architects of Style

Architecture and clothes - one way or another, they're both dressing the human body, the former on a grand scale, the latter far more intimately.

Even so, it's a brave designer who bases a line of clothes around famous national landmarks. But Ece (pronounced Eecchay) and Ayse (Eyesha) Ege (Edgay), the two Turkish sisters behind Dice (Deechay) Kayek, have done just that with their Istanbul Contrast Collection. The results are spectacular, not least because they couldn't be further from those half-hearted attempts to incorporate some decorative drawings of buildings into dress fabrics that some labels pass off as "architectural".

Preview to the V&A's Glamour of Italian Fashion exhibition

On the contrary, this is a full-blown deployment of some of Turkey's most stunning structures. There's the ravishing white organdy cocktail dress composed of diagonal folds that replicates Istanbul's famous Blue Mosque, for instance, and the weighs-a-ton, but exquisite, angel-winged evening coat, hand embroidered with antique blown glass beads and clearly inspired by Istanbul's Hagia Sophia Mosque.

Impressive, they're probably not primarily intended for wearing, since they're part of the sisters' victorious submission for the Jameel Prize, an international award presented bi-annually to an artist or designer inspired by Islamic tradition.

This year's judging panel includes Zaha Hadid, Thomas Heatherwick (designer of the new Routemaster bus and the Olympic cauldron) and Martin Roth, director of the V&A. The Ege sisters, who were named as winners last night, are the first fashion designers ever to be nominated.

In some ways this is a natural evolution for them. When I visited their labyrinthine studio in Paris in October, I saw at first hand how sculptural the clothes for their Dice Kayek label are - full of sumptuous A-line silhouettes in beautiful duchesse satins and silks. Matchka, a less expensive label they design and sell only in Turkey, is more of an everyday collection, with floaty, fluid pieces in lovely fabrics. I wish it were sold here.

Dividing their time between Istanbul and Paris, the sisters are, as you'd expect, great observers of architecture, if somewhat wounded ones - their fabulously modern apartment in downtown Istanbul is about to have its sea-view obscured by a newer, taller block. Such is the way with planning regs in Istanbul, they told me philosophically.

Perhaps the exacting task of interpreting some of their country's most dazzling architecture into another medium has been a soothing distraction.

Not all white: wedding dresses at the V&A

Then again, architects and designers have found one another fascinating for years. Each discipline, at its best, represents a perfect fusion of form and function that should make us look and feel sleeker and more powerful than might be the case.

The most significant difference is that a building can take years to come to fruition - while fashion collections sometimes materialise within a week. Perhaps that's why so many architects end up adopting a distinctive style of dressing. From Corbusier's trademark specs (still inspiring wannabe modernist architects) and Walter Gropius's bowties and check jackets (the origins of smart-casual?) to Daniel Libeskind's beloved cowboy boots and Zaha Hadid's collection of voluminous Japanese silhouettes, architects understood the power of a Signature Look long before Anna Wintour decreed it a necessity. Maybe architects like a uniform because it's something over which they can exercise direct and absolute control.

It's no coincidence that numerous designers began their careers by studying architecture. Rifat Özbek, Romeo Gigli, Gianfranco Ferré, Tom Ford, Roksanda Ilincic…. Plenty more succumb to architectural ambition. One of the few titles Christopher Bailey, son of a carpenter and creative director and CEO of Burberry, cannot lay claim to is that of fully trained architect. That didn't stop him overseeing the transformation of the company's imposing 44,000 sq ft flagship on Regent's Street or designing the slick HQ in London's Victoria. Increasingly, all designers are expected to have fully formed visions of how their brand's retail presence should look, before an architect is approached.

The Eges don't have their own shops, and Dice Kayek should be better known. Perhaps this victory will help.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Sali Hughes on beauty: Christmas wishlist

No one buys me beauty presents, assuming, understandably, that gifting me a lipstick would be like buying a film critic a cinema pass. But each year, as the Christmas collections emerge, I still compile a mental wish list, if only for my own amusement. Top of this year's is Japonesque. I've been using their professional tools for 20 years (they also secretly manufacture brushes for some of the best luxury brands, such as Tom Ford, though you didn't hear it from me), and now they're selling makeup exclusively at John Lewis (from £12). The unique packaging is beautiful, and the eye shadows are superb. Equally flattering are makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury's eye quads, perfectly compiled at £38.

No Christmas is complete without new scent, and currently nothing compares to Frederic Malle's L'Eau d'Hiver, the most elegant (and, at £130, prohibitively expensive) perfume I've found. I unfailingly want a Diptyque Baies candle (£40) and Laura Mercier Crème de Pistache Honey Bath (£31). Finally, I'd like APC for Aesop's Post-Poo Drops (£20) for my bathroom, in the hope that my sons will be kind enough to use them. These look stylish, smell great and make me smile, as all beauty products should.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

It's all in the mix: the best fashion show music

"When you play something for a designer and you see their eyes light up, that's when you know it's going to work," says Rene Arsenault, the maestro behind Tom Ford's show music.

If you thought compiling the soundtrack for a top fashion show simply involves hooking up the designer in question's iPod to the venue's speakers and hitting 'play' you'd be seriously underestimating the process. According to Frédéric Sanchez, responsible for last month's Prada show pumping out Britney Spears's Work Bitch , "the whole process, which often ends hours, if not minutes, before the show - takes about 40 hours in total," he told Business of Fashion.

No surprise then, that the relationship between a top producer and a designer is an exceptionally close one, on par, perhaps with that of a woman and her hairdresser. Michel Gaubert, who made the inspired choice of Jay-Z's Picasso Baby for Karl Lagerfeld's art-themed show, has been working with the Chanel creative director for some 20 years and similarly, Simone Rocha turned to her brother, Max, to curate her own playlist which included the brilliant Atmosphere by Joy Division.

Gaubert was also charged with the music for Céline - a specially produced mix of Soul II Soul's Back to Life to match Philo's street style inflected collection. And when it came to the Sister by Sibling show, the designers turned to French producer Jerry Bouthier. They opened to You've Got Good Taste by The Cramps: "We though oh how brilliant to open a show with the line 'this one is dedicated to all you Gucci bag carriers out there,'" laughed Cozette McCreery.

As for the question 'what makes a playlist great?' the answer isn't cut and dried. "Anyone can play the newest sound in a show," continued Arsenault, but, "a good fashion soundtrack must feel unique." It's all in the mix - a mercurial one combining zeitgeist with taste and a certain je ne sais quoi…

Friday, 6 December 2013

Fashion’s Purest Visionary

Rei Kawakubo is about to redefine shopping in New York City. Her latest

collection for Comme des Garçons is strange, beautiful, singular and, for most

of us, unwearable. Yet fashion’s most powerful provocateur is also one of its

savviest commercial minds. While she is silent about her own creative process,

Kawakubo is a keen nurturer of young talent, bringing unknown artists and

designers into her fold. With the opening this month of Dover Street Market New

York, the sleepy neighborhood of Kips Bay is poised to become the epicenter of

the city’s fashion map.

Three pillars — fantastically decorated by three different artists — run

vertically through six floors of a vast former school building in Manhattan’s

Kips Bay neighborhood. Surrounded by curry and sari shops, it will be the

unlikely new home of New York’s first Dover Street Market, the multibrand store

from Comme des Garçons.

But this noble old building on Lexington Avenue has two other metaphoric

pillars, and these are names that lie at the heart of the current fashion

establishment. Miuccia Prada is building a permanent space on the top floor,

while Louis Vuitton is creating a three-month pop-up store in the main entrance


“Prada have been amazing, and have created a special collection just for us,

with their iconic shapes in new materials and classic prints from 20 years

ago,” says Adrian Joffe, chief executive officer of Comme des Garçons

International and the husband of Rei Kawakubo, who, for once, has broken her

inscrutable silence.

The lauded Japanese designer, who recently turned 71, has a great deal to say

about this new Manhattan project as well as about the design transformation of

her existing flagship Comme des Garçons store in Chelsea.

“For Dover Street Market New York, I wanted to keep the no-rule, beautiful

chaos feeling of the first two Dover Street Markets,” the designer says in

Japanese as Joffe translates. She is referring to the existing stores, one in

London’s Mayfair section, which opened in 2004 on its namesake Dover Street,

and another that opened in Tokyo’s Ginza district in 2012. (They also have a

franchise in Beijing.)

“But in contrast to New York itself, I wanted to design it with extreme

simplicity, unsophisticated, almost primitive and with naïve artlessness,”

Kawakubo says.

The designer, who came onto the international fashion scene in the 1980s with

distressed black clothes that served as a counterpoint to the era’s thrusting,

androgynous outfits, has always led her own counterculture movement. It hasn’t

been so much a political as a visual challenge to clothes based on cut, stitch

and shape and definitions of current society. Kawakubo still thinks along those

lines and avoids pigeonholing or developing one particular style in her stores

as much as on the runway.

“In conceiving seven floors and the interior design of each space, I took no

notice of the traditional need to separate by category, by sex, by lifestyle or

by age,” the designer explains. “And by designing a transparent elevator that

pierces all seven floors through the middle of the store, I have tried to make

the whole shop as if it is one shop — one total experience.”

The sheer bravado of taking on this massive 18,000-square-foot building is

breathtaking. It once housed the New York School of Applied Design for Women,

which was for a time associated with Columbia University and helped young women

to pursue careers in arts and crafts. On the worn boards and plain walls you

can imagine the spirit of female endeavor. The pillared structure dates back to

1909 and is classified as a New York City landmark building. But none of that

was likely to put off a designer who never compromises her aesthetic vision and

continues to push the boundaries of what “fashion” is and whether that word

even has to translate into wearable clothing.

Her recent spring 2014 collection used elaborate workmanship to created

curvilinear designs that seemed more like body architecture than clothing. Like

her poetic 2012 “White Drama” collection and her 2005 “Broken Bride”

collection, these designs appear to be outside commercial conventions. Yet the

“hyper-imaginative” collection clothes are always on sale right alongside the

more commercial Comme des Garçons lines, like Play and Black, that provide a

sturdy base for the sales pyramid. The clothing that seems most unlikely to end

up in customer closets — like the now infamous “lumps and bumps” collection of

1997 — is similar to any other modern art form designed to stir the mind and

surprise the eye.

Kawakubo’s conception of the new Dover Street Market store as “beautiful chaos”

thus has a method to its apparent madness. The idea is of a magical coalition

of fashion, art and commerce. While the store will feature all 15 Comme des

Garçons brands (Homme Plus, Shirt, Junya Watanabe, to name a few), the list of

other designers who will be showcased in their own individual spaces reads like

a who’s who of inventive fashion today, and includes Prada, Saint Laurent,

Azzedine Alaïa, Thom Browne, Rick Owens, Sacai and Undercover.

The main floor is where Louis Vuitton is setting up its pop-up shop; and Rose

Bakery, the cult French bakery that is also in the London and Tokyo stores,

will be on the first floor and mezzanine. But just in case that might seem too

“establishment,” Joffe has installed an “experimental” sound system from the

Brooklyn-based musical artist Calx Vive, which will play from various

sculptures throughout the building.

Always ready to support new talent, Joffe and Kawakubo have made space for

burgeoning British talent like Simone Rocha and J. W. Anderson, and a fourth

floor “incubation” area with small customized spaces for young designers like

the Russian Gosha Rubchinskiy, known for his skate-inspired fashion, and Max

Vanderwoude Gross, the 27-year-old behind the up-and-coming New York label

Proper Gang. Other designers on the floor, which will be called the “Energy

Showroom,” include Lou Dalton, Phoebe English, Craig Green, Lee Roach and


“Dover Street Market’s core value is to share a space with people with vision,

people who have something to say,” Joffe says.

But what about this unconventional, out-of-left-field location, so uncool and

far from any stylish shopping zone?

Kawakubo has an exceptional sense of place. When Comme des Garçons opened in

Tokyo’s Aoyama district in 1975, the neighborhood was far from bustling, but it

eventually evolved into a fashion hot spot. Similarly, when she opened her

first Comme des Garçons store in New York in 1983, she chose SoHo, which was

mostly a place for artists, not the downtown epicenter of fashion. And since

she moved the shop to Chelsea in 1999, that area has evolved into a district of

high-end galleries.

Now it’s all changing in Chelsea, as the famous aluminum tunnel weaving through

a former automobile repair building is spun with gold. Make that GOLD! For in

order to emphasize the spirit of Comme des Garçons and redefine it for the

arrival of Dover Street Market, Kawakubo has gone on a gilt trip that starts

with golden tree sculptures designed by the Japanese artist Kohei Nawa inside

the store.

“For the renovation of Chelsea, I wanted to create an even stronger, even more

forward-looking, even more stimulating shop — to try to fulfill the hopes of

our core Comme des Garçons customers,” explains the designer, who sees the

actual Comme des Garçons stores as havens for “the fundamentalists,” as Joffe

calls the hard-core fans, the people who might have started buying the label

during the years when the Comme message was almost entirely black. But black is

now, apparently, no longer the signature color.

“I imagined this time a magical world using my third color after black and red:

gold,” the designer explains. “I know that when babies are given the choice of

colors, they often choose gold.”

“So in this spirit of gold being the most enjoyable color,” she continues, “I

have transformed the existing space and architecture to create a new intimate

and concentrated shop. And as well as Comme des Garçons, I have also chosen to

add personally, for the first time, some other brands and accessories that I

like. Everything here is 100 percent my eye.” The store will carry brands like

the Pop Art-inspired British designers Meadham Kirchhoff and the New York-based

leather designer Zana Bayne. The notion that a designer’s store expresses the

creative personality behind it is a given. But constant change is not. At Comme

des Garçons, the search for the new and the need to evolve is part of the

brand’s DNA.

Joffe says creative retail strategies embody the main pillar of Comme des

Garçons’ sense of values: the never-ending search for something new.

“We are always forward-looking, always evolving,” he says of the company’s

pioneering spirit and its essential beliefs.

Kawakubo expressed the same idea but put it more profoundly.

“Without creation,” she says, “there can be no progress and man cannot evolve.”

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Fashion news: New innovative men's lifestyle store opens in the Short North

Editor's note: You can check out Web Smith in our What Are You Wearing feature this week. We loved his new store so much, we wanted to do a little more on it. So here it is.

Although they are young (Web Smith is 30 and Kevin Lavelle, 27), the co-founders of Mizzen+Main are already shaking things up in menswear shopping.

Their lifestyle brand, which sells American-made clothing and home goods, launched in July 2012 as an online only shop. They will unveil the next stage of their business model — a brick and mortar store — this Friday, Dec. 6, when their new 1,000-square-foot Short North store opens in the former Heyman Talent space.

In addition to the whisky that's always on tap for customers (!!!), Mizzen+Main is unique because anything purchased in the store will not leave the store. Instead, the items will ship to the customer for free in two days. Instead of racks of clothing, the store will have pieced-together, curated outfits available for perusal.

"Mizzen+Main is a truly American brand. It's a form of patriotism to me," said Smith, who previously worked in marketing for Rogue Fitness. "As we younger companies source from American manufacturers, we put pressure on the larger companies to follow suit."

The brand is also forward thinking in the clothing it designs. Its men's dress shirts, for example, are a proprietary fabric that is wrinkle free, antimicrobial and stain resistant; Mizzen+Main has two tech-forward blazer designs, including one launching in January called the Perfect Blazer that is made with a material that allows the jacket to be rolled up into a suitcase without ruining the integrity of the jacket.

Other clothing and accessories brands Mizzen+Main will carry include Allen Edmonds shoes and Heritage Handcrafted, a North Carolina company that repurposes whisky barrels into furniture. In the next few weeks, Smith said, the brand will also be the exclusive seller of Ohio State bowties by Rock Avenue, New Orleans Saints' Malcolm Jenkins' line.

"Starting as an e-commerce site was the quickest way to get our brand out with your label. We've already shipped to 47 states and 12 countries in a year and nine months of being open," Smith said. "We're excited to see what we can do with the store."

The line — with its preppy charm and modern innovation — has already gotten the attention of Saks Fifth Avenue. Mizzen+Main is set for a launch of items at the renowned retailer next year, Smith said.

Appropriately Inappropriate for ‘Festive Dress’

Even in a world where nothing should be taken for granted — banks, climate, Miley Cyrus — one may persuasively argue that most people are pleased to receive a party invitation. The old joke still holds: What are the two saddest words in the English language? “What party?”

But while most people may enjoy festivities, a party invitation can turn a mood ring to black with the inclusion of just one little modern-day directive: festive dress.

Perhaps you, too, are familiar with the stab of anxiety this edict produces? That little voice that cries out, “What do I wear that won’t make me look like the Joker, the Penguin or some other gleeful archenemy?” What, exactly, does festive dress mean?

“I agree, it’s pretty confusing,” said Zachary Sacks, an investment analyst in Manhattan. “I’ve read that it could mean black tie, or it could mean a tweed sport coat.”

The fashion designer Michael Bastian is more acerbic. “You need new friends, that’s what it means,” he said, laughing. “It’s so vague and confusing.”

Keep one thing in mind: Your potential host is not trying to torture you. A mood-killer for any party is bad décor, and like it or not, you are part of it. Nothing kills the fun faster than a bunch of guys who look as if they just finished moving stuff into storage, or just punched out at Dewey, Cheatem & Howe. There isn’t enough bourbon in the world to cut that ice. A good party requires a festive atmosphere, which requires guests who, however festive they really are, appear to have made an effort to look it.

One of the merits of a black-tie affair is that it offers a simple set of instructions — all you need worry about is whether your tux shirt is clean and pressed and the pants still fit. Festive dress, on the other hand, incites its own brand of fashion panic, its innocent-sounding premise being simply that you wear something special you wouldn’t ordinarily wear.

The trick comes in not under- or overshooting the mark. This requires, among other things, gauging both the setting and the host. Is the party in Lenox Hill or Vinegar Hill? At an apartment or an embassy? Is your hostess more Sally Quinn or Sally Bowles?

Your age is also a factor. The older or younger a man is, the more fun he can get away with. Who docks an 80-year-old or a newborn for style points? But a 40-year-old in a reindeer sweater may find that his name is, as they say, not on the list.

The advanced calculus required to gauge the appropriate degree of inappropriateness vexes even style veterans, though most have developed personal workarounds.

“I kind of have a uniform for office parties and Christmas parties,” Mr. Bastian said. “What I do is put on a basic tuxedo shirt with a solid navy or black tie, a tweed jacket, a red pocket square and some sort of fancy shoe or velvet slipper. I think a tuxedo shirt worn without a tuxedo is a great way to do it. It says, ‘I got the assignment, I made a little effort, but I’m still cool.’ I’ve been to parties where I’ve seen guys mess up. They’ve been dying to bust out those crazy embroidered corduroys all year long, and it doesn’t always fly. There’s still an expectation that you don’t abandon every shred of your regular style just because it’s a holiday. It’s not Halloween.”

Indeed, according to experts in such matters, part of what festive dress seems to suggest is that you steer away from anything that smacks of costume. (That includes the ugly Christmas sweater cherished by irony-loving merrymakers.)

In other words, leave the tinsel for the tree. “I see guys with gold vests and funky bow ties,” said Ralph Auriemma, design director for Paul Stuart’s Phineas Cole line, which seems made for festivity, with old-fashioned dandyish features, like colorful tweeds, peak lapels and three-piece suits. “Personally, I’m still an old-school advocate of elegant men’s wear, something with a point of view from another period of time. I’m not talking about Sherlock Holmes, though that would be festive.”

Men who overdo it are easy to spot and wince at, but there is no excuse for the many, many more who err on the side of safe. There are plenty of easy options, like a casually dressy sport coat or an elegant cardigan or pullover that’s a little too la-di-da for walking the dog. The velvet sport jacket that has come into fashion of late is perhaps the simplest and best example.

“Provided it’s well tailored,” said Madeline Weeks, fashion director for GQ, explaining that the soft, thick pile of velvet can make precise tailoring a challenge. All a man really needs, she said, is one item that shows you tried: a sharply cut silk sport coat with a dull sheen, silver leather tie or black-and-white spectator wingtips.

But make a plan, she advised: “Sometimes guys don’t think about it till it’s too late, and then run out the door in a T-shirt and a leather jacket. You don’t want to be the guy who didn’t make an effort.”

And taking a bit of trouble is, in the end, what it comes down to.

“ ‘Festive’ demands that you make an effort,” said Euan Rellie, a senior managing director at an investment bank, listing his own festive fail-safes: smoking jacket, tartan trousers, patent leather slippers (though not all at once). “Festive and sophisticated are not mutually exclusive,” he said. “It doesn’t mean ‘Pretend you’re a Christmas ornament.’ ”

While there may well be a formula for men anxious to compute exactly how much to channel the holiday spirit, it is also worth remembering that for more-daring souls, looking festive can mean flirting with decorum.

“Some people are good at dressing inappropriately,” Mr. Rellie said. “If you are confident enough, you can be underdressed when everyone is overdressed. When I was an undergraduate at Cambridge, we had the May Ball. The dress code was white tie. Rachel Gibson wore a denim miniskirt, and I fell head over heels in love with her.”

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

British Fashion Awards 2013: Christopher Kane Wins Womenswear Designer Of The Year

Scottish wunderkind designer Christopher Kane has made all the right moves every step of the way in his career. And now he can add winning the accolade of Womenswear Designer of the Year to his heaving cabinet of achievements! Fending off a challenge from Pheobe Philo (Celine) and Sarah Burton, Kane’s success was resoundingly toasted by the audience.

This evening Christopher was presented with his award by platinum haired fashion-titan Donatella Versace and he said the experience was 'truly amazing' and had special thanks for Donatella exclaiming 'I truly love her'. So do we Mr Kane!

From catching the eye of Donatella Versace while still at Central Saint Martins to selling his hit debut collection for S/S 2007 in its entirety to Browns, he burst on to the fashion scene with about the best credentials you could hope for. In the intervening years he has solidified his reputation as an ideas machine, coming up with iconic collections which have formed an archive of highly covetable pieces. Who wouldn’t want a piece from his Carrie inspired grunge collection? Or a zappy neon number from the ‘Princess Margaret on acid’ outing?

News this year that French holdings company Kering had made a majority investment in Kane’s growing brand was greeted with pride by the whole fashion community, and the influx of cash has enabled the designer and his sister Tammy to look to open their first store (planned to open on Mount street by the end of the year) and begin working on a debut bag collection.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

It's Not Sheep Castration.. But Fashion Can Have Its Moments Too

I'm listening to Mike Rowe talk about his Aha! moment, castrating a lamb in Craig, Colo., a few hours north of my current Colorado foothills hometown, which some folks call, "The Brooklyn of Boulder."

I cannot say I've "been there, done that" on the livestock spaying front the way Rowe has.

But I relate to his eyes-wide moment of wonder as he approaches the task.

"How did I get here?" Rowe wonders. I relate to that, too.

My mind flashes back from the little lambs on that Craig, Colo. pasture to a pile of Dalmatian-print polyester on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, to a table of live doves at a Reagan-era fundraiser. We're in the field of fashion now, as opposed to animal husbandry.

But the leap isn't as far -- or as tame -- as you might think.

With thanks to Mike Rowe for the memories, here are two of my favorite Aha! moments in the NYC fashion biz. They're not as overtly ballsy as his lamb job, and I don't include them on my LinkedIn profile, because who would hire me to do them again?

But these tasks scared me senseless and/or made my heart sing. And isn't that what the best jobs are about?

"Counting the Carnet for Jean-Paul Gaultier"

The Task:
Count a hundred dozen-ish Dalmation print fake fur hats, gloves and accessories imported by French fashion maverick Gaultier for his first U.S. fashion show, to be held in a Big Apple Circus tent in Battery Park City.

My Workspace:
Seated cross-legged on the floor of Bergdorf Goodman's atrium, seven stories above Manhattan's bustling Fifth Avenue.

How I Got This Job:
My new boss called her last version of me and asked, "Do you know anyone crazy enough to do this?"

The Aha! Moment:
The executives see my job as dirty work, the kind of task that Cinderella's stepsisters might event. But counting the carnet is Zen-tastic to me. I'm sitting in a quiet, sun-filled space, connecting with objects of pure design genius.

Tomorrow, taking on another job no one wants, I'll ride shotgun in the truck carrying the collection downtown to the circus tent. The city will stretch before me. The oddly gorgeous objects described in the carnet -- properly counted -- will follow behind me.

Color me one lucky faux fur trucker.

"Supermodel Management"

The Task:
Stop six supermodels from going AWOL from a fashion show fundraiser with clothes by Italian fashion house Jenny, attended by President Ronald Reagan and a host of mid-1980s A-Listers.

My Workspace:
An unheated hallway in the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel in DC.

How I Got This Job:
My Uncle Sidney's neighbors' friend's daughter needs an Italian-speaking American gal Friday for an event she's producing over Presidents' Day Weekend, which will feature live Italian doves on each table, and a six-pack of supermodels on the runway.

I'm studying Italian at college in Philly, so I get the job.

I won't be paid for this gig in money, I'm told. But I will get some real-world experience.

The Truth:
The models -- faces I know from the covers of Vogue, and Elle and W and Bazaar -- are threatening to fly back to New York unless I take them some place warm to wait out the hour before show.

The armed guard at the ballroom says civilians who leave a presidential event will not be readmitted.

What do I do?

I'll have to decide this on my own.

My boss is sneaking Julio Iglesias through the kitchen to avoid the paparazzi. And her boss is drinking Champagne with the Princess of Savoy. Plus, did I mention, this is 1984: there are no cell phones?

As we walk back to the ballroom, I'm sure I'm going to be arrested by the CIA. Or (even scarier) yelled at by the booking agent for Ford Models! How will that look when I apply to law school? -- Sharon Glassman

The models want cheeseburgers. They want to watch the Winter Olympics on TV.

I can make that happen, I think. I'm 19 years old. I know zip about team management. But I know a lot about cheeseburgers.

I escort the models back to my hotel room. We order room service. They watch Brian Boitano skate.

It's like a slumber party with girls in $1,000 dresses.

The Aha! Moment:
Time to lead the models backstage. But how? As we walk back to the ballroom, I'm sure I'm going to be arrested by the CIA. Or (even scarier) yelled at by the booking agent for Ford Models! How will that look when I apply to law school?

But when we get to the Scary Guard, he just nods and waves us backstage.

Why? you ask. I don't know.

Was I terrified? You betcha.

The Bonus:
But scary jobs can lead to great rewards.

Earlier that day, I delivered a Jenny dress to Mrs. Grant's room. Her husband answered the door in a dressing gown, holding a handsome hand of cards.

I was speechless.

He said, "Thank you."

And maybe this is the moral of my "how did I get here?" odd-job story:

Six supermodels may trump an armed guard. But no one will ever trump my memory of Cary Grant.

Writer/performer Sharon Glassman's new novel-with-songs is called Blame It On Hoboken. Visit for performance dates in Northern Colorado and beyond.