The panel of experts has spoken, the votes are in, and today we can announce the twelve talents who will move on to the final round of the heated LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers competition. Atto by Julien Dossena, CG by Chris Gelinas, Gabriele Colangelo, Shayne Oliver’s Hood by Air, Jacquemus by Simon Porte Jacquemus, Miuniku by Nikita and Tina Sutradhar, Thomas Tait, Tillmann Lauterbach, Tim Coppens, Simone Rocha, Suno by Max Osterweis and Erin Beatty, and Vika Gazinskaya will go head-to-head for the award’s 300,000 euro grant. A slideshow of the designers’ looks is available here.
But wait, you might be thinking. Weren’t there only supposed to be ten finalists? Yes, but LVMH’s team of forty industry insiders simply could not decide after surveying the work of the competition’s thirty semifinalists during an event at Paris fashion week. “It’s so hard,” offered Louis Vuitton’s executive vice president Delphine Arnault, who has been spearheading the initiative. “When we compiled the votes, four designers all had the same amount, so we let twelve in. I think it’s good.” We’re sure the finalists would agree.
The dozen men’s and womenswear designers, who hail from round the globe, will each have fifteen minutes to present their Fall ’14 collections at the LVMH headquarters in May. Judges including Karl Lagerfeld, Raf Simons, Nicolas Ghesquière, Marc Jacobs, Riccardo Tisci, and others will consider their efforts, and later choose a winner. “All the [LVMH Prize] designers are really enthusiastic,” offered Arnault. “I’m sure the contestants are nervous, but at the same time, it’s an amazing opportunity to meet all these people.” In a room filled with powerhouses like that, we’d be nervous, too, but the final twelve can take solace in the fact that at least one prestigious juror has been in their shoes. “Karl [Lagerfeld] started his career after winning a prize, but he told me there were 200,000 applicants, not 1,200 as we’ve had,” relayed Arnault. “Karl even had to sit and draw in front of the judges to prove that someone else hadn’t done his sketches for him.” As for the eighteen semifinalists who didn’t make the cut, they can take solace in the fact that they’re eligible to apply again next year. “I’m sure they must be very disappointed, but I hope they see it as an opportunity. And I hope we helped them to make some key connections in the industry.”
It takes a lot of balls to leave a gig at Calvin Klein Collection to start your own brand—especially when you’re a 25-year-old fresh out of grad school. But that’s precisely what Beckett Fogg, one half of new line Area, did. And if the innovative first collection that she and design partner Piotrek Panszczyk whipped up is any indication, she made the right move.
Fogg, a Kentucky native, and Panszczyk, a Polish-born 28-year-old who previously worked at Chloé, met at Parsons the New School for Design while pursuing their MFAs in fashion. “We started talking about teaming up a year before I graduated, but it was really just for LOLs,” offered Panszczyk. However, a pair of ribbon-trimmed shorts he stitched up, which, worn by Fogg, got rave reviews in the Hamptons, pushed the designers to make their pipe dream a reality. “Every single person was like, ‘I have to have them!’ So we thought, Maybe this is something we should actually consider doing,” recalled Fogg.
While their backgrounds differ drastically (Panszczyk is a die-hard fashion head, while Fogg studied architecture before heading to Parsons), the talents share a unique, unified vision. Inspired by fragments, transformation, and mind-boggling experiments with texture, their debut lineup expands upon unexpected techniques we saw in each of their graduate collections. For instance, while at Parsons, Fogg used a method of embossing that’s usually reserved for car interiors. Area employed it to bring new dimension to the sleeves of a metallic silver velvet tunic, the body of a handsome steel coat, and the skirt of a burgundy silk lamé slipdress. Meanwhile, the studied pleating Panszczyk featured in his graduate outing provided a sculptural edge to creased trousers and elegant coats.
Most interesting, however, is the pair’s obsession with textiles. The designers worked a heavy mohair—typically reserved for luxury upholstery—into an easy gray shift (above), which was made all the more special via organic patterns created by shaving. Another standout was their stonewashed velvet denim. “It didn’t exist,” said Panszczyk, pulling at a shearling-lined jacket, “so we just made it up!”
Walking me through their sundrenched, whitewashed Canal Street studio, Panszczyk in a frayed Jil Sander suit, Fogg in her own designs, the duo discussed their simultaneously cerebral, sexy, and commercial aesthetic. “We want to see people actually wearing our clothes,” said Fogg. “So I don’t think commercial needs to be a dirty word.” Panszczyk elaborated, explaining how a second-skin velvet jumpsuit (shown with leather chaps) or fluid shift could be sultry one moment and sophisticated the next. “Our work specifically focuses on manipulation. We like to take something and change it.”
As for why they named the brand Area, Fogg told me, “It’s clean, simple, and inclusive.” Never mind that the iconic nightclub was once housed mere blocks from their studio—a fact they didn’t learn until a few friends of a certain age clued them in. “It’s all about serendipity,” mused Panszczyk.
“You know what? I’m blessed: I’ve been working with people who I’ve been working with since I was 16. Why would they want me still?” exhaled Naomi Campbell at SiriusXM’s midtown center yesterday afternoon. She was talking with her longtime friend and mentor Diane von Furstenberg, who was quick to reply, “One of the reasons they want you is precisely that you are the woman that you were.” There’s no denying that at the age of 43, after twenty-seven years in the business, Campbell is (and always has been) exactly what she represents herself to be—no apologies, no facades. Her reality-TV project, The Face, returns to Oxygen tonight (the reason for the radio time), and in the midst of all the press and ongoing paparazzi chaos, she continues to serve as an advocate through her work with Diversity Coalition, Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, and others. Of course, Campbell still hits select runways and pages—experiences she draws upon as she coaches the young models of The Face. Of her most recent FW14 appearance at Philipp Plein’s flame-engulfed, cowboy-themed show, Campbell told Style.com, “I saw backstage how the safety people were there, so I understood they had it all worked out—but to feel that heat…I’ve done a few [risky things for fashion], like being on a crane. [But this time], I was more worried about the audience: Are they going to get up and run?”
The conversation with Von Furstenberg touched on everything from Campbell’s early ambitions (“I wanted to be a dancer and travel the world. I wanted it to be spontaneous—I was 6.”) to the state of diversity in the industry (“Are we making progress? We’re definitely making progress on the ad campaigns. On the shows, especially in England, it could be a lot better. We do not want it to be a trend. We want it to be consistent.”). She discussed what’s left to be done: more advocacy, Saturday Night Live, and a child (“With or without a man! I’m gonna damn well try,” exclaimed Campbell.). And she related what keeps her going: “I do pray. And I am nervous, because I don’t ever want to feel like, I am the best. I can do it with my eyes closed,” she said. “I think my nervousness and my fear are what keep pushing me to strive to be better as a person in what I do—that’s why I still enjoy what I do.”
After the show, Campbell revealed a few Fall ’14 thoughts to Style.com. “I loved the new Alaïa presentation. Miu Miu was great,” she said. “And I loved Dolce & Gabbana—the fantasy of Little Red Riding Hood. I loved it! I think everybody’s going back to doing their fantasies. I love fantasies. It’s nice to dream.”
Prada Marfa‘s somewhat infamous reputation remains firmly intact. The faux boutique, which last fall faced a legal foe in the form of the Texas Department of Transportation, was defaced on Sunday morning by a vandal calling himself TOMS Marfa. The building’s facade was stickered with the socially conscious espadrille titan’s logo, and spray-painted in TOMS’ signature powder blue hue. Seemingly worded for maximum provocation, a manifesto left on-site offered up the following: “TOMS Marfa will bring greater inspiration to consumer Americans to give all they have to developing nations that suffer disease, starvation, and corruption. So long as you buy TOMS shoes, and endorse Jesus Christ as your savior, welcoming the ‘white’ him into your heart. So help you God, otherwise you’re damned to hell.” Guerrilla philanthropy, performance art, or fanatical vandalism? Only time will tell.
As we’re sure you saw, the 2014 CFDA Award nominees and honorees were announced last night during a cocktail fete hosted by Nadja Swarovski and CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg at the Bowery Hotel. During the soiree, it was revealed that Tom Ford and Raf Simons will both receive honors, and Alexander Wang, Marc Jacobs, and Joseph Altuzarra will duke it out for the Womenswear Designer of the Year title. (See the full list of nominees here.)
While the news that director John Waters would be hosting was pretty great, we were particularly thrilled to learn that Hood by Air—the streetwise anti-establishment luxury line whose Fall ’14 show featured old-school voguers—was nominated for the Swarovski Award for Menswear. It seemed to signify that the brand, which Style.com’s Maya Singer recently dubbed the most exciting thing happening in New York right now, had finally cracked, well, the establishment. “When you put commentary out there, you hope that people realize what’s going on and like your take,” offered designer Shayne Oliver. “I’m glad that they’re actually listening,” added the talent, who was just back from Paris, where he had presented his collection to a panel of judges during the penultimate round of competition for the LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers. “We’ve been having some really cool meetings in Paris,” he later hinted. “I think there might be some European moves coming in the future.”
Tim Coppens, also just back from the LVMH event, stuck around for some revelry and received a nomination for the Swarovski Menswear honor, as well. “I’m excited,” he said. So excited, in fact, that he’s already started thinking about the June 2 awards ceremony. “What I’ll wear was actually the first thing that went through my head,” he laughed, adding that he’ll probably design something to don to the affair. Creatures of the Wind’s Christopher Peters, who, along with partner Shane Gabier, is up for the Swarovski Award for Womenswear, also pondered his ceremony attire. “I don’t have any formal clothes that don’t have food on them, so I might have to go shopping,” he deadpanned. “Last year, I wore this really insane Comme des Garçons jacket with embroidered music notes down the sleeves. I loved it more than anything, and then I wore it to a wedding in Texas and everyone thought I was with the band. So it was perfect.” When asked whether he was nervous about the competition, Peters replied, “We both feel extremely honored to be nominated, but we’re always nervous. About everything. I’m kind of, like, constantly panicked, so this is no different than my normal state.” Considering most of the designers in attendance last night were just back from sales in Europe and already working away on their next collections, we have to assume that Peters isn’t alone.