Dior can smell a trend in the offing. The label’s artistic director for menswear, Kris Van Assche—as well as, presumably, his corporate bosses—sensed the growing importance of pre-collections for menswear and have begun to treat them with the pomp and circumstance formerly accorded to Fall and Spring. “At the start, a few seasons ago, these pre-collections were basically pre-deliveries of the main collections,” Van Assche told Style.com. “But now, with their strong commercial success, I understood the need for four independent, freestanding collections a year. We have now started calling these in-between collections Spring and Autumn, and the show collections Summer and Winter. These independent pre-collections tell a whole new story, away from the runway. I chose to present them to the press through catalogs, videos, and installations, like the one we had in Omotesando, Japan, in November, for the Spring collection.”
The story Van Assche set out to tell for Autumn—what other labels call Pre-Fall—is about an art student from Antwerp or Berlin. (Van Assche is Belgian himself and graduated, in his student days, from Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts.) His wardrobe mixes the tailored pieces Dior Homme is famous for with more of the youth-inflected sportswear that’s a particular Van Assche fascination—sometimes in the same garment. (Blazer sleeves can be narrowed or expanded by zippers like those found on biker jackets, for example.) “His wardrobe is composed of various pieces bought on different occasions,” he says, “A blazer, a leather biker jacket, a bright red duffle coat, some knits, the typical ‘art student’ narrow black jeans, and, of course, black combat boots.”
There’s a new graphicism to some of the items, from printed suits to printed shirts, the latter of which owe a debt to the graphics of new wave (“which the art student would obviously be listening to”). But the main innovation of the collection is that, fittingly to its more commercial bent, it was conceived as separate, sales-friendly pieces. “The newest thing for me as a design concept,” Van Assche said, “was to think not in total looks but in strong separate pieces, and then make them work as an outfit.” The Autumn collection debuts exclusively on Style.com.
In less than four short years, designer Bouchra Jarrar has quietly accumulated a major following. Last year, she received the Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres medal for her contribution to the French arts. No less an expert than Olivier Saillard has likened her to a “modern Vionnet.” And, as those who are smitten by Jarrar’s take on urban dressing (a killer Perfecto, a mean pair of trousers, an understated dress that needs no further embellishment) can attest, the designer is truly a couturière at heart.
Today, the Commission de Classement Couture—the body in charge of deciding who makes the grade as a Couture house—made it official: Jarrar is now a member of the Couture elite, and, it’s worth emphasizing, she’s the only female designer in the bunch. Indeed, her presence is a welcomed one in this male-dominated class of masters, and we can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.
Fashion folk are a curious bunch, and we’ve found that they tend to collect equally curious things. In our “Take Five” feature, we get the lowdown on our favorite industry personalities’ most treasured trinkets.
There won’t be enough sun-filled English days in this lifetime for Tracy Sedino to wear each pair of vintage shades in the Linda Farrow archive. “Oh, my god, I must have thousands,” she said last week at a dinner in New York. Sedino was behind the revival of the Linda Farrow brand, whose namesake designer worked with houses such as Yves Saint Laurent and Emilio Pucci to create glasses in the seventies and eighties. Farrow closed her business to start a family in the late eighties, and her crates of luxurious lenses were stored away in a London warehouse.
Over a decade later, Sedino—then a student at the London College of Fashion—began dating (and has since married) Farrow’s son, Simon Jablon. “His father had some warehouses,” Sedino recalled. “And he asked Simon to get rid of all the stock, because they were getting turned into residential properties. So I went with him, and we found original Pucci and YSL sunglasses piled three-floors high.” Obviously, their discovery couldn’t go to waste, so she and Jablon used it as a jumping-off point and rebooted the house of Linda Farrow. They sold some of the vintage styles but, more notably, began partnering with young talents to turn out glamorous—and often outrageous—designs. (Remember those Jeremy Scott Minnie Mouse shades? That was their doing). Today, the husband-and-wife team continues the company in Farrow’s spirit and makes glasses for everyone from Dries Van Noten, 3.1 Phillip Lim, and Suno to Alexander Wang, Peter Pilotto, and The Row. “We thought there was a massive gap in the market,” said Sedino of her and Jablon’s decision to relaunch Linda Farrow. “You have these big luxury houses that sign licensing deals, but other designers, like Dries, will never do that, because they value their brands too much. We wanted to reinforce what Simon’s mother did in the seventies by working with designers to create eyewear as a fashion accessory, rather than a licensed product.”
Sedino and Jablon celebrated their company’s (and their relationship’s) tenth anniversary this year. And to mark the milestone, the duo have not only offered up a ten-year capsule collection but also opened a pop-up shop in collaboration with BOFFO, right here in NYC. The store, which is located at the Chelsea SuperPier, and open through December 24, boasts a bevy of Linda Farrow’s most covetable products. As for that archive of vintage sunnies, Sedino told us that it’s a constant point of reference. “We don’t want our collections to be too vintage, so we take inspiration from the vintage styles, and incorporate new technology and materials,” she said. Here, Sedino talks us through her five favorite pairs of old-school Linda Farrow frames.
1. “These are acetate Linda Farrow glasses from the eighties. They’re my holiday pair. I love them because the idea and design are fun, and they’re quite comfortable on my face. Ironically, it’s hard for me to find sunglasses that fit—for Asians, it’s difficult to find pairs that sit on the nose bridge. I’ve been wearing these for the last two years, and I’m particularly inspired their shape, because they’re almost like a big chunky Wayfarer. You can really wear them whenever.”
2. “These are Yves Saint Laurent glasses from the early seventies. They’re kind of a round Jackie O style. They’re handmade in acetate, with metal arms. This pair is a one-off, so we don’t have stock anymore. They’re one of my favorite styles, because they’re the perfect size. But I don’t really wear them, because I’m afraid of losing them.”
3. “These are Linda Farrow glasses from the eighties, and they were kind of inspired by Lolita. Whenever stylists call in for Lolita-style frames, we send them these. I wear them all the time in the summer.”
4. “These are amazing. This is another YSL pair from the seventies. They’re not one-of-a-kind—we still have a few—but not many. The lenses are polarized, and because of the orange, they’re my autumn glasses.”
5. “This is the most iconic Linda Farrow style. I love how the sides are beveled. We’ve actually launched a fine-jewelry collection of 18-karat-gold-and-diamond sunglasses, and this is one of the styles we used.”
Han Chong, the former creative director of contemporary British line Three Floor, feels there is somewhat of a white space between fast fashion and high-priced luxury wares. And this September, the designer decided he was going to do something about it by way of his new line, Self-Portrait. “It was important for me to launch Self-Portrait and create something that is sophisticated but still attainable for customers,” the Central Saint Martins-trained, London-based talent told Style.com. His eighteen-piece debut collection is all that and more. Priced between $97 and $423 at current exchange, the range fuses painstaking details (like the lace appliqués on trumpet-skirt frocks) and streetwear styles (think laser-cut tees and oversize bombers) to fresh and luxurious effect.
“I like to deconstruct classic shapes and develop these into new, more playful and mischievous designs,” Chong explained, noting that he is often inspired by the mix of visual cues he experiences outside the fashion realm (innovative industrial design and cinema, for example). The Spring ’14 outing boasts unexpected uses of sequins, mesh, and lace; a smart faux leather; and silhouettes that are both relaxed and hyperfeminine. And each garment, whether it’s a python-textured crepe skirt, a louche pair of trousers, or one of the designer’s intricate, geometric, multi-material dresses, receives the same amount of attention and care. “Most labels in our price point are based on rather minimal designs,” Chong said. Self-Portrait, however, is anything but.
The crusade to remedy the circus that is New York fashion week continues today. WWD reports that the CFDA has teamed up with Ruth Finley’s Fashion Calendar in an attempt to create a less manic, more comprehensive NYFW schedule. The project, which will debut this February, endeavors to fix scheduling glitches (i.e., prevent the overlap of major shows) and help editors and buyers to better organize their weeks.
In related news, despite IMG’s announcement last week that it will be revamping NYFW by slashing its size and doing away with “unessential” attendees, Vera Wang, who’s been presenting at the tents since the beginning, has revealed today that she’ll be skipping Lincoln Center and showing at a yet-to-be-disclosed location. This comes on the heels of Carolina Herrera’s suggestion to The New York Times that she, too, may be abandoning the tents. Indeed, the CFDA and IMG’s efforts to repair NYFW are noble and much needed, but the fact remains that the schedule is grossly overstuffed, and the distracting crowds are making it harder and harder for industry professionals to do their jobs. Will these fixes be enough to restore designers’ loyalty to the established runway platform? Tune in this coming February to find out.