“The original idea was Jesus walking on water.” Who but Lee McQueen could get away with that? In today’s Throwback Thursdays video, Tim Blanks revisits McQueen’s vivid Spring ’97 show, where models very literally walked on water—or, at least, a splashy runway. Contrary to first impressions, the collection wasn’t riffing on religion. “It was about the restrictions of fashion, really,” McQueen said. His starting point was Hans Bellmer, an artist who took dolls apart and put them back together in “fetishistic,” slightly eerie ways. (Side note: Bellmer’s work will be exhibited in That Obscure Object of Desire, a show set to open at New York’s Luxembourg & Dayan gallery on August 14.) “It’s the way I view fashion, chopping the proportions to make you feel longer, smaller, thinner,” McQueen explained. He created surrealist corsets, and enlisted Shaun Leane to design jewelry and frame-like contraptions for each memorable look, but you really have to see it to believe it. Watch Tim’s video, then take a look at the full runway show, here.
Entering milliner Heather Huey’s apartment, a fourth-floor walk-up in a heavily graffitied building in Bushwick, is a surreal shock. With rustic dark wood furniture, raw brick walls, and sewing supplies strewn across the center table, her home-cum-studio resembles something from another era. The walls are covered with the designer’s architectural “cage” garments, as well as her fiancé Billy Kidd’s black-and-white photographs. And then, against the back wall, there’s the 6-foot-high cabinet filled with her hats.
Huey makes the most spectacular—often one-of-a-kind—cranial confections. So when she invited me to preview her latest outing, which debuts exclusively here, I jumped at the chance. Fall ’14, the first collection Huey has designed since last year’s Pleated Project, boasts sculptural toppers crafted from manipulated black felt, distorted rosettes, tulle veils, feathers, chiffon-coated crystals, beads, and more. The embellished lineup is a departure for Huey, who usually focuses on form rather than frills. Though, as the designer tells it, “I love looking at old movies from the ’40s and ’50s. I’m such an admirer of the elaborate headpieces you see in them, so I thought I might as well just make my own versions and get that out of my system.” After seeing the results, like a beaded headband befitting a Spanish queen or an origami-ed bow-topped number that ever-so-slightly tilts to cover the forehead, I selfishly hope she hasn’t quenched her craving for such styles. But if this first foray into decoration is, in fact, her last, at least it packs a punch.
“I had accumulated all these random trims that my sister gave me,” Huey continued of the range, which looks like it belongs in a dark, decadent fairy tale—or, as she described it, “Marie Antoinette-meets-Man Ray.” “And they inspired me to start working on something that was a bit more regal. Something that had a little bit more pomp and circumstance.” Huey carefully fastened an abstract fedora—garnished with gauzy blooms and a lone feather—to the left side of her head. “Nothing too extreme, though,” she deadpanned.
In addition to these one-off designs, Huey sells a selection of everyday(ish) toppers, including expertly shaped straw sun hats, critter-inspired fascinators sold at Kiki de Montparnasse, and rhinestone rabbit ears, which I recently purchased for my own collection. It’s Huey’s special concoctions, however, that bring her the most joy. “I was raised in Ridgewood, Queens. Everything was always very low-key,” Huey recalled, while sitting in her living room in loose khaki pants and a faded gray tee. “I love dressing up, but within five minutes of walking out the door, I feel very self-conscious. I wish I were that woman, but in reality, it’s just not me.” She rarely wears her own hats, leaving that pleasure to models, pop stars like Rihanna, and eccentrics like Michelle Harper. But in making them for others, she gets her fix.
For more information, visit heatherhuey.com.
Giorgio Armani has become a major advocate for young designers. For the Spring ’15 menswear season, he hosted Christian Pellizzari’s show at the Armani Teatro, and for the women’s shows in September, Angelos Bratis will take the stage. This is the sixth season Armani has championed emerging design talents in Italy.
“My initiative in supporting little-known but promising designers is paying off, and personally I’m quite passionate about it,” Armani said in a statement. “The future of the system depends on new generations, and I am happy to be able to contribute in an active way.”
Bratis, who was born and trained in Athens, also studied in a Dutch atelier before landing in Milan. His aesthetic is clean and minimal, with quietly complex details that earned him the 2011 Who’s On Next prize. “I am truly honored to have been chosen by Giorgio Armani to present my new collection in his prestigious theater in Milan,” Bratis said. “For me, the great Italian maestro is the perfect example of a designer who has deep values, expressed throughout a long career. These are the same values that I try to express in my work: femininity and pure elegance without artifice.”
While Angelos Bratis’ show date is TBD, Milan fashion week will take place from September 17 to 22.
It’s only been around for 10 years, but Common Projects can already take credit for one classic design—the inimitable Achilles model—and for building a brand that is now synonymous with quality luxury sneakers.
Founded in 2004, Common Projects is the collective effort of designers Prathan Poopat and Flavio Girolami. For those who have ever worn or tried on a pair, there is no other option when it comes to high-quality sneakers. Comfortable, sturdy, and distinctively understated, the brand’s cult following is well deserved.
If there’s a secret to their success, it’s simply good taste and quality. “We produce in Italy, and that doesn’t hurt,” says Poopat. “We make what we would like to wear and that’s something usually pretty classic. We’re not so interested in creating the hot new thing and in fact prefer to make something that looks like it’s always been there.”
For the men’s Fall 2014 line, seen here first, rich, earthy-colored leather and suede make up most of the collection, with a few added pops, like the wool camo. Best of the bunch is still the Achilles, now available in low-, mid- and high-cut styles. Fall-appropriate boots will definitely be fan favorites, especially the brown Chelsea boot.
When understated style is the currency you trade on, consistency is of utmost importance. “In some ways we’ve really evolved, and in others we’re exactly the same,” says Girolami. “Starting with just two models, we have now grown to have over 50 styles a season between men’s and women’s. Apart from that, we are still a small independent company, and our process and execution have largely remained the same. We evolve when we need to, and that keeps things real for us.”
Visit commonprojects.com for more information.