Did you know that there are already 40 fashion weeks in the world? That the first fashion week happened in NYC in 1943 and that London joined Milan, Paris and New York in 1983? Do you also know the minimum age for a runway model? And how much models earn for that?
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.
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.
Chinese designer Simon Gao was definitely one of the biggest sensations this year at London Fashion Week AW14. The show was packed and it was trending in social networks. SIMONGAO won the Mercedes-Benz China Young Fashion Award, 2013, which is one of the reasons why we had a chance to attend his show in London.
His collection shows a very “zen” attitude: colors are mostly playing with shades of greys, whites and blacks, with blue or brown fantasies. SIMONGAO played in a very subtle way with materials: draping and folding embrace dresses; belts and accessories might refer to a modern Geisha; this oriental inheritance matches with contemporary “street” influences we can see in London or NYC: models were walking with New Balance sneakers.
“I’ve done some research for different civilizations. I mixed them together to make Urban Chic.”
It was basically the best of Opening Ceremony machine without a too aggressive fuss: Beyoncé was not in the air (vs all the other shows I’ve attended) and Simon Gao was suggesting a more balanced vision of “women”.
“I want SIMONGAO girls to do sports, to experience different lives, to meet different cultures, to eat different foods, and run an optimistic attitude for life. It’s all about confidence, all about the language you want to tell to people.”
We had a chance to catch up backstage with the rising talent; discover more about Simon Gao now:
Film by Flavie Trichet Lespagnol
Photos by Lilzeon
It’s the fashion event that you must pencil into your calendar – of course it’s London Fashion Week. From Somerset House to Kensington Gardens, the streets were filled with fashion bloggers, journalists, socialites and the press who were all fortunate enough to get the first peek at the latest collections – I happened to be one of those lucky few!
On Monday, I set off to the beautiful Somerset House and saw the latest line by M&S who are aiming to bring out the ‘Best of British’. The scene was a simple, minimalist background with a ladder, chair and desk – an unusual set, but it did bring out the best of its 60’s-esque bold coloured swing coats and shift dresses.
I later went to a dim lit, carpeted car park behind Selfridges to see the latest line by Erdem, which was my favourite of the day. Erdem illustrated a mix of contrasting textures such as patent leather on crochet with subdued splashes of gold, grey and scarlet. To put it simply like The Fash Pack have quoted, it was ‘the type of collection that dreams are made of.’ With a revamped version of Heart of Glass by Blondie, the scene was buzzing with an edgy femininity. Simply amazing.
With the spotlights shining on their scraped-back hair, David Koma was the final show of the day. His collection highlighted bold purples and dark greys, with the clothes structured in sharp cuts and finishes. Again, it was a very minimalist, bright lighted scene to emphasise what Koma had to display.
There is nothing quite like being a part of the camera flashes and loud voices. David Koma and M&S both displayed lovely collections, but the aura was exactly how I imagined a fashion show to be, therefore I wasn’t taken aback. However, Erdem was the stand-out as its unpretentious setting was revamped into an electrifying setting – it was just a shame that it was over so quickly.
Oops, Topshop did it again. Yesterday, the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall was hosting another interesting performance of the 50 years old brand. And the design of the show is very similar to the essence of TOPSHOP: few rows downstairs with happy few (including me haha) and upstairs, a crowd of fans with smartphones ready to shoot, basically on a bridge.
The collection is going to work: a mix of tailoring fabrics and mohair; a lot of street influence (MIA was attending the show) and less an attempt to copy big designers (last year, some observers mentioned the fact that the catwalk presented a collection which was not really what Topshop is about: this year, this “mistake” is not here). Tattoo motifs try to challenge flowers; and the quality of materials is definitely here.
The soundtrack was all about female power. Beyoncé’s very own who runs the world? GIRLS was of course buzzing (as usual). As Topshop declared, this season is all about the girl (…) the soft girl wanting to be tough, the tomboy wanting to be pretty.
Oversize clothes were not the only originality: more formal suits were in the show but with a twist of blueish motifs.
‘Ten years ago, together with adidas we created something that did not exist before and completely projected the future. My desire was and is to make sportswear elegant and chic. adidas is a very personal inspiration to me … it enriches my creative life.’ – Yohji Yamamoto, 2011
True fact; as adidas was the very first to embrace hip hop, they were also the very first to understand how sportswear should become a tremendous part of our modern lifestyles.
The new collection, presented during Paris Men’s Fashion Week, is another exemplary set of art. The topic is sort of déjà vu “Superheroes might be the world’s only remaining hope”. But the way it’s executed is outstanding.
“Men’s and women’s pieces were presented together in a range of retro-tinged primary colors. Clothes emphasized functionality and modularity to underscore Y-3’s commitment to the vision of sport-style. Stunningly revealed in an epic black and white setting with a neon light backdrop, models stalked the runway to superhero music themes and were watched by a front-row crowd including music icon Kanye West, Parisian socialites Louise Monot, Caroline Proust and Louis-Marie de Castelbajac, German actor Clemens Schick as well as adidas athletes Gwladys Épangue (Olympian/Taekwondo), Laura Flessel-Colovic (Olympian/Fencing) and Jimmy Vicaut (Sprinter)”.
As in popular mangas, the collection plays with utopia and dystopia; silhouettes might become monsters, drapes and black pattern play with the devils. A bit like if Spiderman was part of Yves Saint Laurent.
“The collection is an hommage to the couturiers of he 60’s. I wanted to infuse a this spirit into it. I was also thinking of super heroes and the kind of clothes they wear. Cut for an active and fighting life style, so I brought these two worlds together.” Yohji Yamamoto
And we love it.
Elle Magazine is an institution everywhere it has settled in the world. Thanks to that status, the publication is now setting new standards of creativity in a new and unexplored market: Vietnam. Following the recent launch of a new web platform, the first media with a decent design (check these major news hubs for a bloodtearing benchmark) has raised the bar of its pionneering Fashion Shows.
Designers with inspirations connecting them to an exciting worldwide new turn in fashion (including hints to Givenchy, Balenciaga, Alexander Wang and Mary Katrantzou) showcased their work under a reversed garden, through sets of electro-pop and even more modern: trap music.
While some professionals are only starting to complain about indistinct trends on the street and lack of general fashion culture, this event showed that things were happening in Vietnam, and as we’re currently observing from the middle of there, we can tell you this: they’re happening fast.
Back to school. Back to super cool.
Check out that girl, dude. She’s a maniac.
She’s been dating Sk8er Boy since way back.
Can’t believe it. He’s a total douche.
Every ball he drops and swoosh!
Check out that girl, dude. She’s ice cold.
Seriously, such a do ‘s you’re told.
She’s sharp though,
Why, I don’t really know,
Check out that girl, dude. She’s a geek.
But somehow she’s like, magnifique!
I want her to take me into the future,
I want her to tell me about The Rapture,
[3.1 Phillip Lim]
Check out this girl, dude. She’s a lady, like.
Can’t take my eyes off of her, yikes!
Like a sunburn, she tears me apart,
Like a double-tap, what a gunshot.
Check out this girl, dude. She’s a hippie.
Wouldn’t date me and my fixie.
She lives in a strawberry field,
Riding the rainbow and chill.
Check out that girl, dude. She’s a traveller.
Worlds apart, she walks the line.
Far away, alone she wanders,
Home alone, she wonders away.
Check out this girl, dude. She’s the new girl.
She’s the face of the century.
She’s the silhouette of envy.
She’s the plot of our story.
She’s the mind of the city.
We attended yesterday at Protein a very interesting debate about what one calls “trash fashion”. Organized with Dazed & Confused (their last issue is called…Trash & Burn!) speakers included Hussein Chalayan, Caroline Evans (living legend from Central Saint Martins), Nasir Mazhar (who designed the hats for 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony), Luke Brooks, Claire Storey and Kieren Jones. And it was pretty intense
So why is there a new interest in Trash Fashion? Surprisingly enough, not so many of the speakers had an answer. The top insight comes from Hussein Chalayan, who thinks that because there’s a gentrification of everything, and that we’re trying to glamourize everything, well you need something new. As time popularizes everything, and even faster now through high-street big players and online platforms, designers need to shape something unconventional. According to Chalayan, it’s a bit ridiculous to talk about Punk these days whereas it’s from the 70s. We need to invent something, which faces new limits. And Trash Fashion, to a certain extent, can be a good playground to start with.
Today Trash is used in a far different way.
Hussein Chalayan starts with a series of snapshots that tries to define his vision of Trash Fashion
The Tangent Flows (1993) that he did for his graduation aims to explain that trashing garment was a way to give more features to daily elements.
With Cartesia (AW 1994), made of unreadable paper, the idea is to associate unexpected inspirations: packaging, papers, documents, to sublime unexpected materials.
Chalayan also mentions Afterwords in 2000: the collection starts with a mysterious combination of chairs with bodies. The designers starts with a scenery and bring it back to clothes. With Medea in 2002: layers come from cutaways, it’s like an archeological dig. With this process, Chalayan says that the creation of this sort of long-term hope link things.
Manifest Destiny in 2003 looks at disgust that can then be visually appealing, about to become live when a model wears it. Animal prints are then brought back to life
Finally, with Rise (2013) the body is spiritedly linked to urban environment especially walls. Disintegration of information is put in clothes through Printed textures.
The connection between all these ideas is that these clothes have lived something, are part of something bigger, bring a greater sense of life
Caroline Evans broadens the definition of trash fashion reminding that there are tons of examples where people were recycling or using materials in original ways (ex: during great depression in the US etc). Another field concerns the link between fashion and science. Maison Martin Margiela for instance created strange Red Bacteria Yellow Bacteria Green Bacteria pieces with a microbiologist. Specific bacterias were spread on clothes which changed the texture of clothes. Clothes were then exhibited outside the museum. It then generated a sort of furyness impression after rain and sun. Evans considers that when Chanel used jersey in 1919, which used to be a fabric only used for lingerie, is also connected to trash fashion. As she was using “poor” fabrics, it was then considered as trash at that time.
Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garcons) launched a very reductionist collection in 1982.
“When u work around a factory sometimes everything is too perfect”
The main purpose is to give an unfinished impression through deconstruction.
Luke Brooks who graduated from CSM MA recently, mentions his thought-provoking work, using materials that were present in his immediate environment…even under our feet! As he wrote for Dazed:
It emerged that there are many unusual headstones located in New England, USA, which had been carved by the early settlers (late 17th and 18th century stones). The Farber Gravestone Collection, which documents over 9,000 unique headstone images in the area, was a fascinating resource.
Using that and FindaGrave.com as a treasure map, I set off for America in December. Gravestone rubbing is a contentious activity. Some people believe that it subtly damages the stones even when performed with every precaution. Others consider it an affront to the dead. I resolved to be very cautious with my crayon and to thank the residents with a gentle pat on the headstone and a word of gratitude.
Despite having amassed perhaps 40 rubbings of varying sizes, only certain ones seemed to work on the body, proportionally, texturally and photographically. The construction of the collection was about how to best project this idea of the memory of these departed bodies in relation to the living wearer.
Trash is finally a sort of inheritance we’re going to transmit. Cheap fashion also creates a lot of trash. A parallelism can be made with Punk: we wanted to be dirty because everything’s so cheap. Same idea today. But even worse as there’s a vicious loop: how to bring new ways of approaching fashion whereas the industry is based on newness, the latest things, the latest marketing idea. And that the fashion industry is about making money.
So how to create something bigger?
Fashion knows deadlines. And one idea could be to postpone this deadline, including self-conscious elements of the quality of a material. Like a tracker for the very long term record.
People can be considered as investors or consumers. They consume Primark, but they can invest in other brands. Sustainability is an investment: trash fashion would be the signal to go back to economics principles?
There’s a need to educate people to like fashion, educate schools, otherwise only will rich have access to qualitative fashion. Before Prinark and ASOS, access to fast fashion was impossible. Let’s consider it as a big opportunity to raise sensitivity!