This year marks the tenth anniversary of Portuguese-born, Paris-based designer Felipe Oliveira Baptista’s eponymous line. And to celebrate, Lisbon’s Design and Fashion Museum (MuDe) has asked him to put on a retrospective, which opens tonight and runs through February 16. Together with famed set designer Alex de Betak, Baptista—who created quite a buzz three years ago when he replaced Christophe Lemaire as the creative director of Lacoste—has put together a high-concept show that he hopes will tell the story behind his clothes. In addition to a comprehensive selection of the designer’s clean, sometimes severe, sometimes light-as-air looks from the past decade, Baptista and Betak have built an electronic brain of sorts that showcases his inspiration images, photographs, and sketches on a cluster of screens. “I think it’s really interesting to show people what they never see,” offered Baptista, who did stints at Max Mara and Cerruti before launching his own line in 2003. “I thought it was interesting to show them where it comes from, and how it gets there.” Here, Baptista talks to Style.com about the exhibition, his anniversary, and how he’s watched fashion change—for better and for worse.
Ten years is quite a milestone. When you first launched your line, is this where you thought you’d be a decade down the road?
I think when you start, you have to be aware that the chances of surviving the first five years are slim. It’s quite reassuring to arrive here, and it’s been exciting to experience this progression. And when Lacoste arrived three years ago, it was a big revolution in my life. It’s more than anything I expected.
How do you feel that the role of the fashion designer has changed over the past ten years?
It’s changed a lot. The rhythm has changed. When I first started working fifteen years ago, in all the houses I worked in we had two collections, and then three arrived, and then more and more and more collections, more fashion weeks, more of everything. Sometimes, you need some time to get a little perspective. On the other hand, it’s very exciting and fast-paced. But I always manage to escape into museums and see things. Trying to find some moments to breath is quite important.
Do you prefer the fast pace, or do you miss the old days?
Sometimes I wish that we could have more time to go in depth and try to do the best as we can. It’s funny, because when you talk to people from the industry, almost everyone complains a little bit about these things. [The fashion cycle] is a machine that I think no one can fight.
Jack McCollough And Lazaro Hernandez Talk Proenza Schouler’s New Store, Polished Vandalism, And Their Sunlit Accessories Garden
Following their blockbuster Spring ’14 outing, there’s no doubt that Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez are New York’s designer darlings. The pair has mastered a sophisticated cool girl aesthetic that appeals to the uptown and downtown sets alike. So it makes sense that on Friday, Proenza Schouler opened a flagship at 121 Greene Street to complement its Madison Avenue location. Like the uptown boutique, which became the brand’s first retail endeavor when it bowed last year, the 2,500-square-foot Soho shop was designed by David Adjaye.
With an affinity for contrast, McCollough and Hernandez gave their Madison store a gritty, downtown sensibility. And naturally, they’ve infused the Soho space—which boasts concrete accents, mirrored panels, and hardwood floors—with some UES panache. “One of the key elements references vandalized urban walls, but they are executed in veined marbles that speak to something urbane but in a polished way,” the designers told Style.com. Set inside an historic cast iron front building (just feet away from Saint Laurent, Chloé, and Warby Parker’s recently christened outposts), the Greene Street location will house every single product that Proenza produces—from runway looks to small leather goods. The latter will be showcased in the designers’ favorite room: the accessories garden. “The original architecture of the space made it possible for us to do serious planting in the back of the store, which brought life and color to the space. It’s important for us to always have a bit of the outdoors, a bit of a natural element, to everything we do.” Here, Lazaro and Hernandez talk to Style.com about the new boutique, Soho’s thriving retailscape, their plans for further brand expansion, and why, more often than not, it takes two.
Why did now feel like the right time to open your second store?
We have always known that we wanted a presence both uptown and downtown. The question was, which one would come first? When we found a location that spoke to us uptown first, we decided to pursue it. Soho seemed like a natural fit for us. It has become a real center for luxury brands over the last couple of years and we knew we wanted to be a part of that landscape. The brand experience felt incomplete with just one location uptown, and this new epicenter downtown completes our vision. One is complete because of the other. Sometimes things really are better in pairs.
Do you have any other plans for brand expansion in the works?
Retail expansion is definitely on the forefront of what we are working on at the moment. We have a language now that we are keen to explore and adapt to individual locations. Retail not only supports our business, but it is an incredibly fulfilling creative project that we are so happy to be able to work on, and there are definitely more [projects] on the horizon. Bergdorf Goodman just unveiled its new Proenza Schouler shop-in-shop this week using the DNA from the Greene Street location. The opening of these two spaces within one week’s time has been an incredibly fulfilling experience that we feel so lucky to have been able to do. We are currently opening stores in Singapore, Bangkok, and Hong Kong.
The Past Is Present: Azzedine Alaïa and Carla Sozzani on His New Store, His Forthcoming Fashion Foundation, And Their Decades-Long Friendship
They say that behind every great man is a woman. In Azzedine Alaïa’s case, that woman is 10 Corso Como’s Carla Sozzani—the designer’s friend since 1979, and business adviser since 1999. Sozzani joined Alaïa for the opening of his striking new three-story Paris boutique this weekend. Set in an eighteenth-century maison on Rue de Marignan in the eighth arrondissement, the shop is nothing less than we’d expect from Alaïa: clean and minimal, with paintings by Christoph von Weyhe and luxe decor by the likes of Charlotte Perriand, Angelo Mangiarotti, Marc Newson, and Pierre Paulin. Indeed, bringing the shop to life was no small feat. But even though he’s had a busy Paris fashion week (in addition to the store opening, Alaïa is the subject of a retrospective at the Musée Galliera, which opened on September 28), Alaïa shows no signs of slowing. Instead, he’s looking to the future and planning to launch a foundation to help preserve and celebrate fashion history. Here, Sozzani and Alaïa speak to Style.com about their relationship, the designer’s expansive vintage collection, and the new boutique.
Can you tell us a bit about your relationship?
Carla Sozzani: For me, there are two Azzedines. There’s the one who’s my chosen family—we’ll be friends all our life. And then there is the artist, the master. I love them both, for different reasons.
Azzedine Alaïa: Carla was behind this boutique; it’s thanks to her. But putting fashion aside, she is a great friend and a rare woman.
How did you choose this space?
CS: Azzedine wants to make his home in the Marais a foundation and museum for his clothes, his work, and his collections. He has compiled a huge amount of Vionnet, Balenciaga, Margiela, Comme des Garçons, African art. He agreed to this space, which is really like a house, because there are no shop windows. There’s a garden. It lets him be free. Azzedine always says that the best thing France ever gave him was citizenship, so he’s always happy to give back.
How did you begin collecting?
A.A.: In the beginning, I never considered myself a collector. It’s just that when I discover something I like, I want to learn more about it. It just so happened that when Balenciaga closed [in 1968], I realized that, for fashion’s sake, I had to do something. Everything was being marked down and sold, people were leaving. And I thought it was just stupid that this heritage would disappear and be lost. That’s when I started making a selection of pieces in function of whom I like, and I still do. Always. I pick things from each of Rei [Kawakubo]‘s collections. I have Vionnet, Dior. But Rei stands apart. Continue Reading “The Past Is Present: Azzedine Alaïa and Carla Sozzani on His New Store, His Forthcoming Fashion Foundation, And Their Decades-Long Friendship” »
There’s no shortage of deejays on the fashion scene, with your Misshapes and your Harleys and your Alexas and what have you. But Mimi Xu—who goes by the name of Misty Rabbit when she’s on the decks—has a particularly impressive knack for blending unexpected musical genres (think Berlin’s ambient electro mixed with classical jazz fading into a cool spin of disco-funk) into cohesive and oh-so-catchy sets. She’s an eager bunny, and knows just how to get the party going for the likes of Miu Miu, Prada, Fendi, Acne Studios, and too many others to name. This season, the Shanghai- and Copenhagen-raised but London-based sound designer is as busy as ever. She mixed the soundtracks for Yigal Azrouël, Catherine Malandrino, Tome, and Ostwald Helgason in New York, developed runway music for Topshop, Julien Macdonald, and Emilia Wickstead in London, and dropped a special Fall/Winter mix for Mytheresa.com just last week. Next up? A hotly anticipated party for Moncler’s Pharrell Williams collaboration in Paris this evening, and a personal design project, which will undoubtedly become the requisite accessory for music-loving cool girls come holiday season. Here, Xu talks to Style.com about her Mytheresa.com mix, the difference between playing parties and runways, and her favorite new artists.
You’ve done a lot of shows this season. How does deejaying a fashion show differ from deejaying a party?
Deejaying is about a spontaneous, fun, and playful way of sharing music. It’s about getting the party going. When you do a soundtrack, it’s very nerdy and unglamorous—you’re behind the scenes, you’re really working with the designer, and you’re creating something with the designer to really reflect his collection. It’s not about what I like. Of course, it’s about my influences and my take on music. But I’m there to showcase the collection. I love doing both, but they’re very different. Show soundtracks take a lot longer. It’s a much more technical process—it’s much more creative, and it’s more intellectual. And with soundtracks, everything’s set in stone previously. On the day of the catwalk, you don’t have to do anything besides cuing the show. But when you deejay, things never go to plan. Anything can happen on the dance floor. I can fill up the stage—who knows?
What have designers been asking you to play this season?
There are no specific trends this season. Each designer had their own inspirations. Musically, I went from Mississippi blues to Brazilian seventies experimental Tropicalia movement to psychedelic rave to classical theatrical to French electro. It’s a big range, so you need to be very erudite in your music knowledge. Designers need that.
What are you going to play for the Moncler-and-Pharrell Williams party?
I’ve been thinking today that we’re gonna do something quite hip-hop-y. But I don’t know! You can’t play Pharrell Williams tracks. I’d be embarrassed to play someone’s track when they’re in the room. So I’m not sure yet…. Obviously, I’m gonna have a lot of R&B and hip-hop, but it’s gonna go into disco and a few electronica-sounding tracks, too. I need to get people dancing, so I’ll see tonight how it will go. Continue Reading “Misty Rabbit Talks Spinning Fashion’s Soundtracks” »
When Nick Waplington began to document the making of Alexander McQueen’s fifteenth anniversary collection, the Horn of Plenty, he had no idea it would be one of the visionary’s last. A friend of the late designer, Waplington, who was living in Israel and shooting another project when McQueen approached him about the collaboration in 2007, chronicled Fall 2009′s production for six months. He watched its inception in the designer’s London studio—snapping away at model fittings and mood boards—and followed it all the way through to its now-legendary trip down a Paris runway, which was covered in heaps of spray-painted rubbish from McQueen’s previous sets. The resulting book, dubbed Alexander McQueen: Working Process, provides an intimate look at McQueen, his team (including Sarah Burton), and his methods—its pages depicting everything from moments of pain and anxiety to bursts of joy and laughter. “This project offers unprecedented insight into the mind of a notoriously private and at times willfully impenetrable man,” writes journalist Susannah Frankel, who worked closely with the designer, in the tome’s introduction. What’s more is that the book, which Waplington describes as “a historical document,” was largely edited by McQueen himself: He finished his selection before his tragic suicide in 2010. “It’s really the last thing he ever made,” Waplington said. Below, the photographer talks to Style.com about capturing the designer’s legacy, his experience inside the luminary’s studio, and what he learned of the real McQueen. For a first look at the contents of the book—which hits stores on October 31— click through our slideshow.
How did you come to work on this project in the first place?
We had known each other for some time, and he met up with me and explained that he was very worried, or interested, I should say, in his legacy. He was a very hands-on designer: He actually created the clothes himself, which I wasn’t aware of when we started. They would bring in big rolls of fabric, and he’d get up out of his chair and have a pair of scissors and pins, and minutes later, there would be this creation. He wanted people to understand this process. The book was going to be called The Process, and he thought I was the right person to bring his vision to the world, which was very nice of him. I wasn’t sure at first, and I was living in Israel at the time, so it was a lot of travel backward and forward. But luckily for me, I did it.
Did you have any inkling at the time why he was so intent on documenting his process—and preserving his legacy?
I did say to him, “Can I do this in a few years’ time?” and he said, “Absolutely not. It has to be this season.” But the season in question, the Horn of Plenty, was a season that he considered to be his retrospective of his first fifteen years. He was revisiting his old ideas, and for the show set, he created a big pile of rubbish out of all the sets from his shows over the past fifteen years, and he sprayed them all black. He got into this idea of recycling and renewal, and [this collection] was kind of like the end of one chapter of his life—that’s how he saw it. Obviously, after [his suicide], a lot of things went through my mind. But I’ll never know.
What did you find most interesting about his process?
I liked the layering—how he would create things in layers. His mind knew exactly what the cloth would do. The fact that he could turn something from just basically a roll of cloth into this wonderful creation in a matter of minutes was interesting for me.
How did you go about selecting what images to include in the book?
I insisted that [McQueen] edit the book. I shot on film, I made six hundred prints, I laid them out in a photo book for him, and I said, “The final edit is yours.” So basically, the choices are his and the sequence is his. It’s unique because it’s the only book that he produced himself. It was his vision and my pictures. I had a maquette made, which is this enormous hundred-pound book. It’s got handwritten notes inside from him to me. He’d take that book home and edit the pictures, and it would go by courier to me, and I would make notes and make changes, and then it would go back to him. Finally, we locked it down and were ready to go, but then circumstance intervened. Continue Reading “Nick Waplington Talks Alexander McQueen and Working Process” »