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How to Learn French with Camille Rowe: the reason why fashion should still love France

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Camille Rowe Pourcheresse was our hit-IT-heat-HIP girl in 2012 when our “friends” from fashion magazines were describing her body as “untypical” …Fashion history proved we were right as we now see everywhere a celebration of the diversity of women bodies. Anorexic shooting are now the realy “untypical”.

France as a brand is trying hard to redefine itself. We don’t have the American Dream, our myths and stories are moral, political. Not made for business per se.

Our know-how, our French Touch might be recognized worldwide, but who can really support this vision today? Most of the time, France is associated to a sort of Lost Paradise: Coco Chanel, Marie-Antoinette, Brigitte Bardot, even Carine Roitfeld…aren’t they from the past? Can they really root France in a contemporaneity?

That’s probably what Camille Rowe achieved in her French lesson: playing with clichés about the Frenchie (yes, in London, most of the guys think that our ladies are bipolar!), and suggesting a new interpretation…

A reconciliation of a sweet arrogance with an ultra-feminine power. A woman one might only desire, therefore respect.

As we like to be right, we believe far more in the Made in French instead of focusing on Made in France. France is a spirit before being a body. Camille Rowe proves once again that our French singularity is in this mix between a very physical attractiveness which empowers a captivating personality.

We love this sparkling Parisian woman: she’s evasive and so free. The best way to communicate about a French brand these days is not to tag it or qualify through the fact the brand is actually French. We need to leave the brand express its creativity. The most intriguing, disturbing, bizarre designers are the real French. A French brand should try to love complicated attitudes; French brands should maybe dive in absurdity. French brands should trouble its customers. That’s probably the only difference now of what French brands can bring on the table against every pop brand machine with a too clever, too simple speech. A French brand should be desired, should be tough to get.

Oh and Made in French don’t care about borders and territories: Camille is an American icon and / or French. Do we care?

Vive la République

 

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DKNY explores faith with #DKNYramadan

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DKNY has just launched a brand new collection called  “DKNY Ramadan”.

It’s been designed by two digital socialites, Yala Golsharifi, fashion editor for Styles Magazine and Tamara Al Gabbani, fashion designer in Dubai.

A daring collection as it plays with Ramadan. Who said that fashion could not match faith?

The general idea is to provide to Muslim women some outfits which are both convenient for this special month while it does fully hide feminine body. A great example of inspiring Modest fashion.

The collection is supported by a smart communication campaign, asking the models what’s their favourite Ghabka destination (an event made to connect and socialize) or their favourite places for Sahur (the first meal before the sun awakes)

DKNY focuses on the joyful part of Islam instead of insisting on some austerity cliché when it comes to religion.

DKNY explores a territory that not so many brands want to enter, fearing hostile reactions. Yes, faith is not the enemy of womanhood. Yes, being Muslim and liking fashion can work hand in hand. A

Now it’s time to look at which consumers are going to buy this collection: are they women living between L.A. and Dubai or is the collection dedicated to more “hardcore” countries?

Sales will tell the truth!

 

Christopher Kane SS15
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Why London is the Capital of Menswear

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These past few years have seen the rise to glory of a long-underestimated and underserved market: Menswear. With a boost given by the street culture generation now on the chase for looks and design, it’s never been more exciting to be a man in fashion.

But there is a tip to the spear and it is called London (UK).

While the British Fashion Council once again sets up a platform for creativity and business called London Collections: Men – bringing together names including Jonathan Saunders, Christopher Kane, Alexander McQueen, JW Anderson, Katie Eary, Tom Ford, Moschino, YMC, Topman and Lyle & Scott; one can not be surprised when this is the proud land of Paul Smith and the mean streets of modern Tailoring.

Furthermore, who could doubt menswear would find its energy on a market where online concept-stores such as Oki-Ni, LN-CC or Endclothing have thrived in the past few years.

London like no other place is encompassing everything that inspires the modern man: a desire for excentricity mixed with extremely codified formality. The geek generation finds its closet ready for a revolution – fashion can be optimized for efficiency with creativity. Rest of the world, behold. The times of Daddy’s preppy or douchey style is over.

Christopher Kane SS15

Christopher Kane SS15

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The art of shoe shining by Steven D.R Skippen

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It had been a while since I didn’t have a breakthrough momentum in London. Not that the place is not energetic anymore, but things tend to sometimes look a bit the same…
And there came Steven D.R Skippen, Founder and Shoe Artisan at Shoeshine UK that I met at Monsieur London.  I had never experienced such a sensation on my feet, through my shoes; I had only used automatic machines in some hotels here and there. Then I understood what bespoke and talent mean. With his own hands, Steven knows how to transform your shoes into YOUR shoes.
We can make a bet: if I were a brand collection director, I would directly hire Steven to create a capsule collection.
Hi Steven: when did you star shining shoes?
I started shining shoes over 14 years ago I literally fell into it as a stop gap but to this day am still shining shoes. For 13 years my big red chair has been installed in the lobby of The London Hilton on Park Lane, my hands have had the opportunity to dwell on the shoes of the Sultan of Brunei, The Dalai Lama, Mike Tyson, the King of Jordan, Jean Claude Van Damme and the great football star, George Best.
I started Shoeshine UK in October 2000“originally at The London Hilton Metropole but quickly transferred to The London Hilton on Park Lane. I brought a style of shoe care that the UK had never seen before and have cared for many icon’s shoes”.
Using just our bare hands and the best products available regardless of cost we are revolutionising the industry and need people to understand the difference in what we do to others.
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It requires very strong skills as you have a pretty unique approach: you use your own hands. How did you learn?
I only received one weeks training as to do what I now can achieve takes years of trial and error. I have perfected The Art of Shine and patina (colouring of leather with dyes) in effect never accepting that I can never improve and always striving for perfection.
I do all my work with my bare hands a skill not seen in Europe and achieve far superior results because of this.
Shoeshining is an amazing bespoke service: can we “book” you for special events?
Yes I do many private events my past CV includes Tommy Hilfiger, Esquire magazine, Browns fashion and Monsieur London. As you can imagine we are a very sought after service due to how unique we are.
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What are your favourite products for shoeshining?
I only use the finest ingredients Saphir and Angelus products renowned as unbeatable in our profession. It begins by feeding the leather with three different creams a combination of Beeswax, mink oil from Saphir, Lord Sheraton leather balsam and Ultra Creme, then a leather massage, followed by applying a multitude of colours at each location of the shoe; this can darken and lighten at will to emphasize the slenderness of the foot.

Brushes to me have no effect. If you applied cream to your face would you use a brush? I like to penetrate the leather with my bare hands giving care and a deep shine at the same time”. Believe what you see not what you read, redefining a dying artform.

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before / after colourization work

I know you have dozens of projects: when will we see your own range of products? :)
You are right my projects are endless. Establishing my patina service is paramount and trying to make people understand that not all shoeshiners are the same.
Regarding a product range this is just around the corner and has taken a long time due to getting it perfect.
What can we wish you?
Why use a service that gives you a result that you could get yourself at home when you could use a service that would change your perception of shoeshine forever?  The public are not aware of the differences and this is why shoeshine is sadly at the lowest point it has ever been. Its time people saw what shoeshine really could be like”.

 

Steven D.R. Skippen in brief:

 

Years in profession -14 years

 

Favourite shoe company – Berluti, Santoni, Gaziano Girling, Giacopelli, Pierre Corthay, Stefanobi, Septieme Largeur, Edward Green, JM Weston, Cleverley, Marc Guyot, Carlos Santos, Aubercy, Emling and Loding
First job in profession – London City Airport in 2000
Favourite products-Saphir, Angelus, La Cordonnerie Anglaise and Lord Sheraton
Greatest inspirations – Dandy Shoecare, Landry Lacour and JM Le Gazel for patina and Stephen Reynolds for shoeshine.
Experience – London City Airport, Bloomberg, Lehman Brothers, KPMG, Harbour Exchange Tower, London Hilton Metropole, The London Hilton on Park Lane, Dunhill, Marks club, George club, The Office group, Whites Club and Goodwood festival.

 

 

Steven D.R Skippen
Founder and Shoe Artisan
Shoeshine UK
The Shoe Whisperer
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BREAKS London: fashion UFO, daily contemporary art

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There are fashion UFOs on this planet; that’s exactly the reaction I had when I received the brilliant T-Shirt series of  BREAKS. Founded by Ryo Yamazaki in 2010, the brand grows between Tokyo and London. A twist of British modernity which matches with punk inspired materials. Not so surprising that BREAKS has an interesting collaboration with a frontman of The Horrors , Faris Badwan. The collection of T-Shirts is inspired by his universe. A melancholia slash dystopia slash new age materials that is very intriguing.

 

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The Courteeners in BREAKS for FAULT Magazine

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Pharrell on Elle UK. Why the controversy?

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Do you think Pharrell should not have worn a Native American head-dress on cover of Elle UK? We don’t.

Although this sparked understandable and respectable outrage from communities and commentators alike, resulting in a sincere apology by the cultural icon, we believe this new controversy shows society has figured fashion out all wrong.

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As a matter of fact, the base of controversy seems far-fetched to us, or at least most of commentators express it with little concision: most of the tweets bear judgments such as “it’s not ok”, ‘what’s wrong with you” and “this is scandalous”, only a few mention the reasons of anger:

“Urgh. Why does the fashion industry insist on turning sacred cultural items into fashion props? #NOTHappy @ELLEUK” – says @OnceAPARNATime.

Cultural appropriation seems to be the problem, as highlighted Refinery29. But the real question is where is the line to draw for offensiveness?

We believe blackfaceing a model is a mistake, but criticizing a graphic and photographic fashion job made with respect (at least benefit of that doubt can be given to the team in charge, right?) seems way over-crying. Why did fashion teams like this one chose this item? Because it bears positive symbols, it also has impeccable visual style and it may remind us that some cultures should not be lost in contemporary moments.

This cover is beautiful. It has character. It does not depict a community in any negative way. Let’s stop underestimating the fashion industry’s capacity to curate cultures. Fashion is not a superficial discipline, whatever twitter might say.

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The Feet Project: what feet mean to people

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1 year ago, we started to work with Flavie Trichet Lespagnol and Marion May on a crazy project with the agency. We were having a chit-chat and Chris looked at his feet. And he said: this is our topic.

Everybody has a story with feet; and feet tell a lot of stories about people. Very surprisingly, when it comes to shoes and brands, not so many products are really dedicated to feet. Is it because marketers think they have ugly feet?

We discovered many crazy insights: when you are pregnant, your feet grow. Women walk more than men every day in the world. We are a vast majority to buy shoes that are not at the right size for us.

Flavie and Marion went to Spain, France, travelled the UK; and interviewed a lot of interesting people. Asking questions about our feet was actually a way to talk about deeper topics: love, anxiety, self-esteem. Style as a bone of contention of our humanity; skins as the features of our journeys.

Discover the documentary right now:

Oh and if you’re brave enough, you can submit photos of your feet.

Viva The Feet Project!

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Adidas x Instagram: personalize your trainers with Instagram pictures

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Shoe brands are the main vectors of our personal journeys after all. And while we keep sharing our daily perks and hourly pace on Instagram, Adidas is set to launch a new app, which will allow customers to put their favourite Instagram pictures onto their trainers. The Adidas Photo Print app will help us in personalizing ZX Flux Trainers.

A step forward into mainstream bespoke.

 

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San Art Gallery – Saigon Contemporary Art

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Sàn in vietnamese means ground. Sàn Art Gallery is a unique space in Ho Chi Minh City that has provided a platform for art and creation for 6 years. Yesterday was the opening for a group exhibition called Mind, Flesh, Matter.

We have been impressed by the rich atmosphere offered by the space – formerly a reading space / library, but also with the diversity of works and the precision of curation by director of gallery Zoe Butt.

Mind, Flesh, Matter is the work of 3 vietnamese artists: Lai Dieu Ha, Le Phi Long and Nguyen Van Du and was part of a process called Sàn Art Laboratory. The residency program allowed the artists to exchange and find talking partners to further their research, resulting in quite an achieving set up.

Materials and ideas seemed to collide in a very subtle way. Installations were meant to provide depth to paintings and drawings, echoing how Mind, Flesh and Matter coincide. In a reserved way, we could think performance art would have in some way contributed to deepen the experience.

In our very specific way, we have ended up stumbling into hints of pop culture here and there, most probably unintentional or better totally unrelated.

Organic side cuts reminded us of recent imagery from Hannibal (TV version with Mads Mikkelsen), when the man in the wood somehow reproduced the post-apocalyptic post-human postulate of Danny Boyle heroes Di Caprio in The Beach or Cillian Murphy in 28 Days Later. There was also this distant memory of Six Feet Under’s legendary tree…

Art and design are making their way into the hectic life of the fast-growing metropolis. We Boulevardiers could not love it more.

 

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2 days in Ho Chi Minh City

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Vietnam is scoring higher and higher points in coolness these days while things heat up at its borders. While China and Vietnam go head to head on territorial claims in the South China Sea, the country took the scene in 2 world-leading media to show its fascinating new lifestyles.

First on May 7 – Louis Vuitton released its refined Travel Book – Vietnam, subtly edited and drawn by Lorenzo Mattotti. The introduction video makes the exploit of showing all the famous traits of Vietnam without an ounce of cliché-ness. Residing in the country for a little less than a year now, I can certainly appreciate even more that a fresh eye such as Mr Mattotti’s has brushed up the overloaded motorbikes, the tacky alleys, the incredible sights of Ha Long Bay in a poetic way. As he says, all these symbols can be looked at in a quite abstract way. Shapes are key to his vision.

See the video:

 

 

Then on May 8 – the New York Times took its famous 36 Hours In… series to Ho Chi Minh City. The well-documented article does walk through the hottest places of modern Saigon. I’d certainly +1 on designer Linda Mai Phung’s works (see our french column last summer in L’Express Styles), vouch for the artistic new wave led by Gallery Quynh, San Art and L’Observatory, and yum in on Cuc Gach Quan’s foodie delight.

But I could not help bring up the happy few spots and people overlooked by the article. So here’s an additional 48h you can add to your stay in Ho Chi Minh City with its extra recommendable experiences. Welcome to the exciting contemporary Saigon: authentic and futuristic, mostly at the same time.

The Street Treat – Unconspicuous Pho joints where you get to taste the unavoidable national dish include Pho Thai Son on Le Lai street, a short park-walk away from the backpacker area. Next comes Tan Dinh Market, a place to find an immense choice of weird to cool fabrics – the street food court there is highly cool too. By night time, join in a street quan nhau (literally binge eat-drinking joint) on Ham Nghi street to enjoy watered-down beers and grilled seafood.

The Liquor Tour – Saigon offers a still confidential taste of quality drinks. The best Negroni can be found at the Purple Jade, while great wines are curated by a team of passionates at Wine Embassy. Last but not least, drinks are usually more enjoyable with a cool musical scene. Venues such as Cargo Bar (Q4) – a huge warehouse turned into concert spot hosting international gigs of rock and electronic music (Onra, Poni Hoax among others in 2013) – or the hip and kinky Broma, and the experimental street-culture spot called Saigon Outcast (where contributors organized a Flaming Lips experience gig last winter) are all worth the visit.

The Shopping Spree – As we all love to explore local options, the fascinating thing about Saigon is how it opened to the most avantgarde cultural scenes lately and allowed subsequent shopping options. The most curious of them all would be Runway Concept Store, located in an otherwise uncharming Vincom mall. International contemporary designers like Helmut Lang, Phillip Lim, Alexander Wang or Acne Studios have found their place there for a cultured generation of vietnamese and expats, among luxury brands including Saint Laurent Paris, Givenchy or Maison Martin Margiela. VIPs looking for a more glamorous outfit could also turn to a more fancy cocktail dress at Luala, another local concept store offering Victoria Beckham, Azzedine Alaia and Elie Saab.