As a designer who has known both success and failure in the fashion industry, Miguel Adrover is the kind of mentor many students should hear from, and very few do. So when Adrover was in town from his native Majorca to speak at the Pratt Institute’s fifteenth annual fashion conference, Extraordinary: Icons, Iconoclasm, and Innovation, Pratt Fashion Department Chair Jennifer Minter took advantage of the opportunity and invited him to critique the school’s graduating class of designers. “Miguel has had an incredible influence on the culture of fashion,” explained Minter. “There’s so much commentary in his work, and it’s critical for students to understand it, so that they can understand their own vision, the practice, and the future.”
Adrover’s name is not as familiar to young fashion students as it once was. He broke onto the scene in 2000, with a critically adored collection that comprised repurposed Burberry trench coats and Louis Vuitton bags—a comment on luxry logo mania and consumerism. He was an early proponent of sustainable fashion (many of his garments were made from recycled clothing) and pushed the envelope in terms of fashion as social commentary. But following two Middle Eastern-inspired collections in 2001 that received mixed reviews, and his failure to turn strong profits at retail, Adrover lost the backing of his investors, and closed his namesake house. He returned to Majorca and began designing small collections for the German eco-line Hessnatur that, while well-received, failed to bring the designer back to the spotlight.
His experience, hard won, is part of what’s not taught in fashion schools. “It’s important to teach the students how this business works,” he said. “Students have an illusion of how the industry is set up…It’s all about big corporations, but I think there are a lot of people looking for an alternative to that road—because it’s a big road with lots of glamour and bling bling. And when you get to the end of it, you die.”
Despite a comeback show in 2012, Adrover has yet to relaunch his eponymous range. (It’s not out of the question though—the designer reasons that he still has a lot to say). However, he knows how he’d present it. “If I were showing, I’d do it in a really small place. These big runway events, with all these celebrities in the front row, it’s like [houses] need to do it to get people to respect them. And the clothing is so uninteresting these days—it speaks so little to society,” he said. “To change that, it’s a matter of these young people here.”
He seemed heartened but the students’ work that was well-constructed and well-conceptualized. He praised handmade fabrics like plastic chainmail and rubber-embellished jersey, and stressed the importance of pristine finishings. “They’re very individual,” he said approvingly. “They stand up for their own thing and their own techniques. They want to be authentic and create their own statement. And that’s important because it hardly happens now.”
“You need to play the game,” he conceded. “I don’t want to say names, but you need to have the top people open the doors for you. It’s hard to create a business if you don’t have the support of a big company.”
“But,” he added, “it depends on your definition of ‘making it.’ You could make things by hand, have a little store, and be happy with that. There’s no need to be everywhere.”
Chanel’s Métiers d’Art show is scheduled to hit the runway in an icy Dallas, Texas, this evening (an unlikely locale, we know, but Dallas’ Neiman Marcus was one of Coco Chanel’s first supporters after she revived her business in the fifties). Naturally, it’s a hyper-exclusive affair, and, according to WWD, the city’s fashion set has dubbed invites to the Western-themed spectacular “Golden Tickets.” Does this make Karl Lagerfeld fashion’s Willy Wonka? We bet the 2.55 bag is more enduring than an Everlasting Gobstopper…. In any event, check back later tonight to get the full rundown of Chanel’s Pre-Fall extravaganza.
Ever since she was a teenager, Mélyne Roi has had a thing about bags; she was always fashioning pretty patchworks out of a little bit of this and that. Eventually, an internship at Jitrois helped her zero in on her true passion: fine leathers and skins. Soon after, the self-taught stylist began piecing together poetic one-of-a-kind and limited-run handbags made of unwanted cuts of shagreen, crocodile, python, and other leftovers from luxury powerhouses. (You name the house, it’s a fair bet that Roi’s got the goods). A handful of directional boutiques such as Afwosh and Renhsen, in the tenth arrondissement, picked up her reasonably priced “vintage modern” satchels and pouches—some of which have antique drawer pulls as hardware. Before she knew it, Roi had developed a seriously cool following.
Last year, Roi made the leap, dropping her day job in order to create handbags full time—by hand, at home, on her own machine. She’s also recently teamed with three other up-and-coming female designers—Floriane Mothes, of Mademoiselle Flo (handmade cards and silk-screened T-shirts); Sophie Maitrot, of Ladylou (knits); and Olivia Braqueville, of L’Atelier d’Olivia (jewelry)—to open La Boutique Etoilée, a showcase for their “slow fashion” wares and philosophy, in Montmartre. And as if choosing between bobo-chic stripes and one-off colors and motifs wasn’t hard enough, just wait until her new boots hit the shelves next year.
Mélyne Roi’s handbags start at 120 euros and are available online, as well as at Le Boutique Etoilée, located at 16 Rue Durantin, 75018 Paris.
Giorgio Armani is dead set on reviving Milan fashion week. To contribute to its growth, the designer has started inviting emerging talents to present at his Teatro Armani show space. The first two up-and-comers awarded with a runway were Andrea Pompilio (menswear) and Stella Jean (womenswear), who showed their Spring ’14 ranges with Mr. Armani’s help. Today, the next rising star on his radar was announced: Swiss menswear designer Julian Zigerli. Having studied at the University of Art Berlin, Zigerli’s luxurious, sporty looks (think: a jacket merged with a backpack, relaxed silhouettes, and playful-yet-masculine prints) earned him the Swiss Design Prize in 2011 and also got him a spot in London’s Vauxhall Ones to Watch lineup in 2012. Zigerli will send his Fall ’14 collection down Armani’s catwalk on January 17.
Morgan Curtis spent several years as a painter and illustrator in addition to helping her mother, Jill Stuart, as an associate designer and all-around consultant. This season, however, she decided to branch out on her own with a lingerie line dubbed Morgan Lane. “My mom has always had a very feminine aesthetic that is often inspired by vintage lingerie, and that’s where I came to appreciate it. She started when she was so young and did everything all by herself. So I told her, ‘If you can do it, I can do it,’ and she’s been my biggest cheerleader,” Curtis told Style.com. She had previously been working on a series of oil paintings that referenced thirties Kewpie dolls and decided to incorporate those into her brand as a muse and mascot named Lanie, who appears on novelty pieces like satin panties, bloomers, an embroidered eye mask, and even the packaging. Curtis explained, “Lanie is kind of mischievous and a bit of a vixen. She’s named after my youngest sister, who’s always been a bit of a troublemaker. Featuring her helped keep things cute and playful instead of getting too dominatrix-y and over-the-top sexy.” These underpinnings may be sweet, but they still have plenty of allure. Highlights from the debut range include shapely mesh bras with hand-cut silk floral appliqués and matching knickers (a pair of high-waisted briefs with subtle side cutouts modernize a retro style), as well as versatile bodysuits and lacy sleepwear rompers. Every piece is carefully considered, down to details like silk-covered hooks and a flattering fit. “I found an amazing patternmaker who gets things right off the first sample,” Curtis said. “She has the same name as my grandma, which I thought was a good luck charm.”
Morgan Lane’s debut collection ($48 to $328) is currently sold at Matchesfashion.com and will be available beginning February 2014 on Modaoperandi.com.