Each year during the second week of April, the modest city of Milan hosts one of the world’s preeminent design weeks, drawing from the farthest reaches of the greater design community. While most major brands introduce their home furnishing collections at the convention-center-based Salone del Mobile just outside of town, various districts in and around the city center house events, installations, and group shows of both established and emerging designers. Amid the seemingly endless events, exhibitions, and installations peppered throughout the city, a comprehensive sense of innovation and creativity seeped through. Now that the festivities have come to a close, here’s a look at the highlights.
COS x Nendo
In the world of design, few studios generate as much buzz as Tokyo’s Nendo. Its eye for simplicity and detail-driven design lent itself nicely to the recently unveiled collaboration with Swedish fashion brand COS. To introduce the collection, Nendo founder Oki Sato created an installation in the Brera Design District with white shirts winding through a stark gallery space like dominos, displayed on stands and suspended from the ceiling in a gradient, from white to gray and black.
Kvadrat x Raf Simons
One of the more exciting collaborations launched during the week had to be the new collection of textiles by Raf Simons for Danish textile company Kvadrat. As Simon’s first foray into textiles for home furnishing, the range included eleven color and texture-heavy fabric designs—including velvet, which seems to be trending this year. To show the materials’ versatility, Milan’s Spotti showroom hosted a variety of vignetters with an extensive collection of iconic mid-century furniture upholstered in the collection.
Marni “Animal House”
As with last year, Marni again hosted a charity-driven installation of furniture and sculpture just outside the city center. Giraffes, ostriches, rabbits, ducks, donkeys, and flamingos, each made of metal and brightly colored PVC by a group of Colombian craftswomen, dominated the landscape of a perfectly deteriorating indoor/outdoor space. Every aspect of lighthearted installation played on the collection’s theme of asymmetry.
While ceramic, copper, and cork continued to dominate, it seemed bright colors, too, were having a moment in industrial design. From big brands at Salone del Mobile to the playful work of more up-and-coming designers showing in the Ventura Lambrate and Brera Districts, cool hues were cleverly being utilized across the board. Drawing on all aforementioned materials, Something Good—a new concept brand focused on the next generation of Italian design—did well to stand out with its second-ever collection.
Marimekko Unikko 50th Anniversary Installation
Marimekko’s most celebrated design turns 50 this year, and to commemorate the iconic Unikko poppy pattern—designed by Maija Isola in 1964—the Finnish brand debuted a modest installation housing the new anniversary collection of textiles and homewares. While the color added a nice burst of energy to the environment, a loft within the area packed with pillows offered a momentary refuge for exhausted design enthusiasts.
Safilo x Marc Newson
Italian eyewear brand Safilo recently tapped famed Australian industrial designer Marc Newson to create a new range of frames. Inspired by Safilo’s 80th anniversary, Newson drew on vintage silhouettes seen in the Safilo archives for his five new designs. Milan institution 10 Corso Como hosted the launch of the capsule collection, alongside an installation at the Triennale Design Museum.
Palace Skateboards Pop-Off Shop
Coinciding with design week, Milan’s celebrated streetwear purveyor Slam Jam set off on the first of many events to celebrate its 25th anniversary, starting with a pop-up shop for London’s Palace Skateboards. Inside the “Pop-Off” shop, you found the entire current collection of softgoods, a range of exclusive Italian-inspired colorways, and vinyl from Palace’s recent collaboration with house DJ Theo Parish’s Sound Signature.
Nike Aero-static Dome Installation and Event Space
To introduce the new Kobe 9 Elite Low HTM, Nike created a multipurpose gathering space near the famous Duomo Cathedral. Designed by Miniwiz founder Arthur Huang, the Aero-static Dome installation was a buoyant structure entirely supported by the movement of air. The public space hosted daily design talks, while a series of display cases offered a detailed view of both the Kobe 9 HTM and the new Magista football boot—all while simultaneously anchoring the dome via thread and carbon fiber.
The fourth issue of Document Journal hits stands tomorrow, and although it doesn’t bill itself as a strictly “fashion” title, you could never tell from the table of contents. The new issue features an array of editorials and interviews from the likes of hairstylist Didier Malige, Liya Kebede, Calvin Klein Collection’s Italo Zucchelli, Kris Van Assche, and Raf Simons. We’re particularly excited to see Style.com’s own Tommy Ton interview Hanne Gaby Odiele about what it’s like to be the constant focus of street-style attention. (Turns out, it takes serious nerves of steel to keep a calm look while running between shows and navigating through throngs of aggressive photographers.) Below, we have an exclusive preview of something a little more intimate than the street style we know and love Hanne for: a one-on-one tour of her favorite Chinatown spots with photoblogger Daniel Arnold.
Document Journal No. 4 hits stands tomorrow.
For Issue 06 of Style.com/Print we commissioned artist Luca Mainini to illustrate one key look from each of the four major fashion week cities to go along with our runway analysis by Nicole Phelps and Tim Blanks. For New York, Mainini did Marc Jacobs; London, Simone Rocha; Milan, Fendi; and Louis Vuitton for Paris. We flipped these illos into Web-friendly GIFs for your enjoyment. Order the issue now to read the full reports.
Sleigh Bells Frontwoman Alexis Krauss Talks Coachella Fashion Norms, Style Evolutions, and Wearing Crocs-------
Thank the rock-and-roll style gods for Alexis Krauss, front woman of noisy pop duo Sleigh Bells, whose sartorial-slaying style is greatly appreciated in the current sea of zanily dressed pop starlets with a penchant for trend-hopping. There’s the sea punk, the ratchet realness, the ghetto gothic, the lovelorn old Hollywood damsel in distress. Then there’s—sartorial sigh—the normcore. But with three Sleigh Bells’ albums under her studded belt, Krauss continues to keep it real with the classic rock-and-roll duds. She’s doing something very right, and we’re not just talking about Sleigh Bells’ inescapable bangers soundtracking Spring Breakers, The Bling Ring, and HBO’s Girls.
The Brooklyn-based band plays Coachella for the third time starting this weekend (Saturday at 9:10 p.m. PST between Lorde and Pharrell, to be exact), which will find Krauss hair-whipping (and probably crowd-surfing) whilst belting it out.
Style.com caught up with the former schoolteacher before she headed over to the festival. She spilled about her thoughts on the (oftentimes unfortunate) Coachella fashion norm, her dreams of working with Alexander Wang and meeting Pharrell, and her style evolution: her suburban alt-kid-meets-pop-diva high school style; her corporate, crocs-heavy schoolteacher style; and her (of course) current killer style as a punky princess.
What was your style like in high school?
It was kind of weird because I was also in a girl pop band, RubyBlue. It was this weird disconnect where among my friends I was wearing, like, creepers and studded belts and spaghetti tank tops with, like, the Gwen Stefani knots in my hair. But then in my professional life—which sounds crazy to say because I was, like, 15—but with RubyBlue, it was much more bubblegum-pop style. There were, like, sparkling bell-bottoms going on and hot pink corset tops. I went through my period in high school where all I would listen to was The Ramones, The Clash, The Smiths. I feel like I was the typical suburban alternative-looking kid but also, like, pop diva. It was a weird juxtaposition.
You were also an elementary schoolteacher pre-Sleigh Bells. How’d you dress then?
I’d like to think that I tried to be more fashionable than most teachers. The first year, I tried really hard. I thought, How can I embrace this corporate, casual world but do it in a way that’s fashionable? I did try to look cute, but then by my second year—I’m not gonna lie—I walked around in Crocs. I’d walk up four flights of stairs and stand in a classroom all day. When you’re waking up at 5 in the morning, you don’t really have the luxury of thinking of fashion like I do now.
What are your thoughts on the fashion and beauty expectations of women in pop music?
I definitely think women are held to a different standard than men, and as a female musician, you’re expected to engage with fashion and beauty in a way that men obviously aren’t. That being said, there’s this whole styling industry that goes along with being a female artist. A lot of artists engage with that but a bit haphazardly. People are giving them clothes, but they don’t really have a strong sense of personal style. Then there’s obviously artists who have incredible personal style and have that gift to curate amazing designers and pieces and kind of pull it all together seemingly effortlessly. It’s kind of hard because you have to figure out who you are. Are you gonna be the person who can wear crazy couture pieces, or are you gonna be the person who just kind of wears basics?
I’ve finally kind of developed my own space that I’m comfortable in. I like being adventurous to a degree, but I also really like keeping it simple with denim, black, leather—simple pieces and moods that obviously reference classic rock ‘n’ rollers like Debbie Harry and Joan Jett. I’m really interested in fashion as an accessory to the music, and not as the dominant show. But that’s just me. For a while, I feel like I tried to make myself into something I wasn’t by just saying yes to everything. It became stressful and disingenuous, so at this point, I like repping pieces by brands that I love and I know and I have a personal relationship with. I’m not looking to wear something because it’s on trend, or I should wear that because it will get me attention. I’m much more interested in calling up somebody I know and being like, “Hey, let’s work on this really awesome, badass, simple denim jacket” and call it a day.
Would you ever consider being the face of a major fashion brand? Alexander Wang, for instance, has a thing for musicians in campaigns and front-rows.
I was just gonna say Alex. I went to his show back in September, and I had the pleasure of meeting him. For the show, he gave me these incredibly skinny leather pants and a great, black simple tank top and these incredible boots. It was just like, “If I had the money, this is how I’d dress every day.” He was such a doll, and it would be such a dream to collaborate with him in some capacity. I think he’s really innovative and always does stuff that is fun and playful but never for the sake of being adventurous or silly or avant-garde. He manages to be that designer I think really caters to the New York woman who is interested in her basics and her blacks, her leather, her denim, her great pair of black pants and a classic dress. It never feels contrived to me.
I’ve had the privilege of going to a few Kenzo shows, and Humberto [Leon] and Carol [Lim] are so wonderful. I’m not naturally really comfortable with bold patterns and prints, but they do it in a way that I absolutely love. Their latest collection was so gorgeous. I’d love to do something with them at some point.
So, according to your Instagram, you also love nail art.
I see nail art as a really great accessory. I’m much more into having crazy nail art than a really crazy necklace. I think it’s a great representation of the rest of your style. I like to keep my nail palate pretty classic: black, metallic, gold. I’ve been really into different nude polishes lately. And I love studs. Nail art’s been great because it comes out of a personal relationship with my friend Ria, who has a Tumblr called RiaNailz.tumblr.com. She’s been a collaborator with me on nail art and styling and video things. It’s a really cool, badass, female-dominated culture.
What are you expecting to see style-wise at Coachella this year?
I think there’ll be a lot of crop tops and high-waisted shorts, which I have no problem with—I love it. And lots of florals and neons and updated hippie sort of stuff—which is cool, it’s not personally my thing. My whole wardrobe is black and lace and leather and studs and leopard print. I’m like, “God, man, I need a more summer look.” I think the best festival style is simple and sexy: really good denim cutoff shorts, a good tank top, jerseys are always good, a layer—whether it’s a badass leather jacket or a vest—and just keeping it simple. A good T-shirt and cutoff jeans always cut it, in my opinion.
Is there anyone in particular you hope to meet with that coveted backstage pass?
I wanna meet Lorde and Pharrell—speaking of fashion, I wonder if he’ll wear his hat. I’d probably die and go to heaven if I met Pharrell. I just wanna ask him, “How do you make your skin look so incredible? How do you not age?”
For six years now, Todd Selby has been offering us a portal into the lives of creative types with his photographic portraits and thoughtful, handwritten questionnaires featured on TheSelby.com and in his series of insightful coffee-table books. Two weeks ago, Selby released his latest publication, Fashionable Selby, which profiles a range of stylish individuals involved in all aspects of the industry.
What’s truly admirable about the new tome is its sheer breadth of subjects. In addition to taking us inside the workspaces and homes of notable influencers including Dries Van Noten, Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing, Isabel Marant, Nicola Formichetti, and Carla Sozzani, The Selby also goes behind the scenes with relative fringe-dwellers like Brooklyn-based knitwear designer Lindsay Degen and cruelty-free Angora rabbit farmer Ambika Conroy. “Fashion is a place that’s full of colorful characters, and I spent about a year researching and pursuing word-of-mouth recommendations,” Selby told Style.com of his selection process.
Some of Selby’s more eccentric entries came from Japan. “I’ve always had a fascination with Japan. For whatever reason, it’s a culture that embraces real extremes and pushes people to unique places. Every time I go to Japan, I’m like, ‘I can’t believe this exists!’” he said. One of the most enlightening odysseys in the new book is Selby’s exploration of Blackmeans, a craft leather collective run by hard-core punks in Tokyo.
Selby learned a lot about the spirit of punk from Blackmeans founders Yujiro Komatsu, Takatomo Ariga, and Masatomo Ariga. “I think punk is really about these do-it-yourself details—like I’m-going-to-start-a-band-even-though-I-don’t-know-how-to-play-an-instrument kind of concept,” Selby said. “These guys are technically very skilled and all self-taught, but what’s most important is their incredible passion and vision.” Considering Blackmeans’ growing cult following and a recent pop-up at Opening Ceremony in New York, it’s only a matter of time until it breaks through.
The Selby documented the Blackmeans gang in a short video filmed by Todd and friend Junsuke Yamasaki; it debuts exclusively here on Style.com.
For more information on Fashionable Selby, visit TheSelby.com.