Coming soon to the billboard on the corner of Lafayette and Prince Streets in Soho: Alexander Wang’s new Fall ’14 campaign, which will also appear in select print publications. Similar to Wang’s Spring ads, the new images strike a balance between naïveté and explicitness, channeling a subtle, naughty schoolgirl vibe. Steven Klein shot the series at St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. When it comes to models, Wang and casting director Anita Bitton definitely like to play favorites. This time around, they brought back Anna Ewers (the star of the label’s Spring ’14 campaign, who also turned up on the designer’s arm at the CFDA Awards back in June) and Wang’s new model muse, Vanessa Moody, who opened both his Fall show and Balenciaga. Other fresh faces appearing in the Fall ads include Lexi Boling, Katlin Aas, and Kat Hessen.
Having spent roughly half her life in the fashion biz, Liya Kebede has come a long way in the industry since leaving Ethiopia at the age of 18 to model in Paris. In the following decades, Kebede has established herself as a bona fide icon—not only as a “super” still busy with runway and editorial work, but additionally as a philanthropist/advocate for maternal health and an emerging entrepreneur. Back in 2007, she launched her ready-to-wear brand, Lemlem, as a way to create new opportunities for the traditional weavers and artisans based in her hometown, Addis Ababa. The word lemlem means “to bloom” in Amharic and is also a nickname Kebede gave her 8-year-old daughter, Raee. Indeed, the line itself—comprised of beach-ready wares that are handwoven and embroidered in Africa—has been flourishing in a big way: Just this week, Kebede was announced as a new member of the CFDA.
Fresh off of the haute couture and menswear circuits (in Paris, she walked Dior and posed for pal Haider Ackermann’s presentation), Kebede joined Style.com to preview her new collection. At our appointment, the supermodel was the epitome of summertime casual in a gray T-shirt, striped Lemlem skirt, and canvas sneakers. While the has introduced new jersey and merino wool categories in recent seasons, Resort ’15 focused on best-selling gauzy tunics, caftans, and scarves in vibrant hues. Kebede personally gravitates toward some of the more directional silhouettes, including strapless jumpsuits, raw-edged maxi ponchos, and long boy shorts. Our takeaway? Both Kebede and her beachy clothes are beautiful in every way. Read on below for five things we learned about Kebede and Lemlem.
1. Kebede started Lemlem on a whim:
“The whole thing came about when I was at home in Addis [Ababa] and walking around with the mayor. He wanted so much for me to do something, and I initially didn’t know how I could give back. We went through this big bazaar in Shola, where all the artisans work, but the market hadn’t been doing well because Ethiopian people are wearing machine-made outfits on an everyday basis and saving traditional clothes for special occasions like church or a wedding. We were talking about how amazing all these incredible weavers are, and that got me thinking that maybe I could start a line.”
2. Lemlem launched with kids’ clothes but is now primarily focused on womenswear:
“I had my kids back then already and thought it would be cute to start Lemlem as a children’s line because every mom would love a nicely handmade little dress for her daughter. Then every mom—including me—loved it so much we decided to make the clothes in larger sizes, which is when things really took off.”
3. Kebede maintains a close relationship with Lemlem’s artisans:
“I was most recently in Ethiopia in May. I actually went for my foundation [Liya Kebede Foundation], but every time I go there, I’m always multitasking. So we do the foundation thing for a few days, and then the family thing, and then we see the Lemlem weavers. It’s mostly men that weave, and the craft is passed down generationally, from father to son, father to son. But it’s women who hand-spin the cotton and do all the sewing. It’s been interesting to see how our weavers have grown to see Lemlem. When we first started with them, we were so demanding and they thought we were these, like, neurotic New Yorkers. It took a while to really gel and understand each other. Now they’re so proud of the product and exclusively want to work for Lemlem. It was great to see them last time all listening to the radio and throbbing to the music while they weaved.
4. Kebede believes there’s room in the market for both fast fashion and more conscious design.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about fast fashion versus slow fashion lately, and I think there’s space for it all to exist. If you want a Zara shirt, you want a Zara shirt. But I also believe that more and more people are becoming increasingly conscious of how and where their clothes are made. Aside from the fair labor aspect, many of our customers are simply coming to us for something that’s unique.”
5. Lemlem will continue to grow, but will always keep its roots in Africa.
“I really see Lemlem as a lifestyle brand and something that can ultimately be quite impactful. The whole motto of Lemlem is “Made in Ethiopia.” That will always be our signature and what makes our story a bit different. Even now as we’re introducing jersey and new categories, we’re going to stay true to our original Made in Africa mission. We want to prove ourselves and prove to the world that there’s a new destination for clothing production.”
Lemlem ($135 to $325) is carried by retailers including Barneys New York, Net-a-Porter, and Selfridges. For more information, visit www.lemlem.com.
If anyone could make “hippies in fur” look chic, it’s Karl Lagerfeld. In today’s Throwback Thursdays video, Tim Blanks looks back on Fendi’s Fall ’91 show, in which Lagerfeld presented an irreverent, ultra-luxe homage to the 1960s Haight-Ashbury scene. Iconic models like Linda Evangelista were decked out in reversible fur coats, miles of fringe, bucket hats, and beads. Consider it a glamorous alternative to festival style.
Looking at Fendi past and present, Blanks explains how fashion history has unfolded—the technology, the craftsmanship, and the constant nod to the future. As for the bona fide hippies who protested Fendi’s penchant for fur? The Kaiser put it simply: “As long as people eat meat and wear leather shoes, we shouldn’t discuss that subject.” Watch the full video here, and check back next week to see Tim’s latest look into the archives.
UPDATE: Multiple industry sources have now confirmed to Style.com that Nadège Vanhee will succeed Christophe Lemaire as the creative director of womenswear at Hermès. The house is believed to be sending out an official announcement tomorrow morning.
Let the rumors begin! According to WWD, word on the street is that behind-the-scenes star Nadège Vanhee, who cut her teeth at Delvaux and Maison Martin Margiela, worked under Phoebe Philo as the design director at Céline, and is now the design director at The Row, is Hermès’ top pick to succeed Christophe Lemaire as the head of womenswear. It would be nice to see someone like Vanhee, who has a wealth of experience and an eye for clean, sophisticated luxury, get a mega-gig like the one at Hermès—goodness knows she’s paid her dues. An announcement may be made as early as this week.
When I first heard this rumor, it reminded me of Jil Sander’s choice to hire Rodolfo Paglialunga—a designer who, save a stint as the creative director at Vionnet, earned his stripes working behind the scenes at Prada for 10 years. And then there’s the case of Julie de Libran’s appointment at Sonia Rykiel. Another under-the-radar gem, de Libran designed the pre-collections for Louis Vuitton, but was, of course, not as well known as the brand’s creative director and face, Marc Jacobs. Sometimes it makes sense to have a big name head up a big house. But it’s nice to see that the work of talented, though less famous, industry vets does not go unnoticed.
Last week we reported that Esteban Cortazar is relaunching his label with a new concept we’ve dubbed “see-now, wear-now.” A few weeks after his upcoming collection is shown in Paris this September (he’s calling it Spring, but it’s really trans-seasonal), the first deliveries will arrive at Barneys New York and The Webster, as well as on Net-a-Porter. It’s a forward-thinking concept, to be sure. In this video, Cortazar turns back the clock and reflects on his 1990s youth in Miami, when the likes of Gianni Versace, Herb Ritts, Madonna, and Todd Oldham were discovering South Beach. “It made me who I am today,” he says. Watch the clip above, exclusively on Style.com.