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April 21 2014

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9 posts tagged "Alaia"

Chez Alaïa: Low Fuss, High Impact

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Alaia

Only when Paris fashion week winds down—and the exodus of editors, photo bloggers, and pretty young things is nearly complete—does an e-mail arrive from the Azzedine Alaïa press office informing those who remain about a series of intimate presentations to showcase the latest collection. Inviting a small number of media and friends (spotted: Jean-Paul Goude) to the showroom while buyers place their orders has become the unofficial protocol chez Alaïa, and it works because you can touch and feel the collection with the same unhurried focus as, say, Ken Downing from Neiman Marcus, who seemed noticeably impressed with some of the new techniques Monsieur Alaïa introduced for Fall.

This is the first collection to follow the Alaïa retrospective that recently ran its course at the reopened Palais Galliera in Paris. Was there a correlation between that survey of his career and the openwork polka-dot dresses or double-face gabardine coats? Hard to say without word from the designer. But one look at the construction of a stunning cape-backed bolero, or some of the knit patterning, and you sensed a certain engineering imperative—that he set out to push himself a bit further this time around.

Alaia

To be sure, nothing was radically different. Mainly, Alaïa stuck to subtle silhouette updates, offering a roomier V-neck jumper and adding a rectangular fringe—occasionally knotted—to the edge of his skirts to give them a fresh swish in place of his typical flounce. A technique he dubbed “Religieuse” combined larger organ pleats with interior accordion pleats, and on a floor-grazing skirt or a truncated cape, the result was something akin to seeing Sister in the corner office. Indeed, with the recurrence of all those starched white poplin shirts, Alaïa further confirmed how his view of femininity has shifted since his heyday of cleavage-bearing necklines.

However, that’s not to suggest he’s repressed the sexiness: Witness the jagged booties, cut like leather spikes, and bicolor biker gloves. Body-skimming dresses benefitted from body-contouring jacquards so that waists seemed corseted by knit striping. If anything, he simply determined that the cues need not be as obvious. There were a few other dramatic—or better, dynamic—additions this season, namely the calf-hair pieces that had been striped with a slick lacquer and a grouping of wool suits in champagne and teal covered in a tonal coiled pattern. Metallic yarn reappeared this season, this time as a pixelated pattern and as a larger amorphous one. He also revisited the dimensional lantern-effect knits, in one example applying the dimensional technique around the bust of a cropped jacket that closed the show. The workmanship on these final looks was so deceivingly complex that it qualified as couture.

Alaia

And that’s the thing about Alaïa, the couturier-architect whose clothes are so seriously and rigorously crafted that he can’t help but be diametrically less serious about everything else. Regulars to these intimate rendezvous would not have been surprised by the nostalgic, bossa-nova-style hits “Mambo Italiano” and “Quando Quando Quando” that accompanied the show. Swishy music for studied fashion: Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it?

Photos: Courtesy Photos 

Naomi Campbell on Career, Children, and That Ring of Fire

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Naomi Campbell

“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.”

Photo: Courtesy of Sirius XM 

A Very DSM December

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Dover Street Market New YorkIt’s coming…. Last year, it was announced that Rei Kawakubo’s conceptual shopping wonderland, Dover Street Market, which already has locations in London and Tokyo, would be opening its doors in New York. But we didn’t know exactly when the Manhattan mecca would launch, until today. This afternoon, DSM revealed that the store, located on the fittingly unlikely corner of Thirtieth Street and Lexington Avenue, will bow on December 21. What treasures will be on offer, you ask? Prada, Thom Browne, Supreme, Simone Rocha, Christopher Kane, Alaïa, Atto, A.P.C., Rick Owens, Junya Watanabe, and a brand-new range from nineties fashion star Andre Walker are just some of the lines on DSM New York’s stock list. And don’t worry—wares from every breed of Comme des Garçons you could possibly dream of will be up for sale, too. Whether DSM will be able to transform the notoriously bland Murray Hill neighborhood into something with a little more elegance and edge is up for debate, but if anyone can do it, it’s Rei Kawakubo. For more information on DSM’s stateside arrival, read our Q&A with Comme des Garçons CEO Adrian Joffe.

Photo: Courtesy of Dover Street Market

Happy Birthday, Dear Joseph

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Joseph Window

There are only a handful of shops worldwide as iconic as the Joseph on 77 Fulham Road, or known in the fashion world simply as 77. With a prized position in the heart of South Kensington, Joseph is flanked on both sides by some other icons: Daphne’s, Princess Diana’s favorite restaurant; Boujis, her son Harry’s current nightclub of choice; and, of course, Bibendum in the Michelin House, where loyal customers have been enjoying oysters and champagne for generations. That was where yours truly first met the late, great Joseph Ettedgui in 2003, sipping his espresso and puffing a cigar, those eyes squinting behind his trademark round glasses in the glorious October sun, as he put his paper down to fill me in on details of the project at that moment in his life—the renovation of his home. During our many conversations, a constant stream of people was always stopping to say hello. Joseph Ettedgui was the most popular guy in the hood, his charms and charisma irresistible.

September 14 marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of 77, and celebrations are afoot for the man who brought Kenzo, Castelbajac, Alaïa, and Yamamoto to the world and who basically created the mold for concept stores like Colette and Dover Street Market. Celebrations start by revealing twenty-five quotes from Joseph’s nearest and dearest, like Naomi Campbell, Katie Grand, and Alexandra Shulman, and they’ll live on the Joseph Web site during London fashion week.

There will also be a window during LFW designed by Vanity Fair‘s Michael Roberts, a great friend and confidante of Joseph’s who, back in the day, worked as a stylist and was all but Joseph’s “right-hand man.” The window is inspired by one of Joseph’s only fashion shows, held around twenty-five years ago, styled by Roberts, where body mapping was somewhat of a thing. Louise Trotter, Joseph’s creative director, has also created a Haring jacquard jumper, inspired by the same fashion show, which will hit the shops September 14. On the eve of the anniversary, Style.com sat down with Roberts to discuss Mr. Ettedgui, who died from cancer in 2010, at age 74.

What are your fondest memories of both Josephs—the man and the brand?
I would see Joseph with a cigar and a coffee, listening attentively, and then motivating you to just “do it.” He was a doer, making sure that things got done. There would be one central meeting, then he would spring into action. Once you had done what it was you set out to do, he would become almost childlike, exclaiming and jumping up and down in celebration and excitement. Continue Reading “Happy Birthday, Dear Joseph” »

“Applause,” Please: Brandon Maxwell Talks Styling Lady Gaga’s Latest Video

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Just in case you haven’t gotten your fill of Lady Gaga’s paint-smeared face, it’s back in the video for “Applause,” the first single to (officially) drop from the singer’s forthcoming album, Artpop. Fittingly, for the woman devoted to living her life as a live-action editorial shoot, the video was directed by fashion photographers Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, who also shot Artpop‘s cover and Gaga’s four September V covers. “For me, it was one of the most memorable experiences that we’ve ever had,” Gaga’s stylist, Brandon Maxwell, told Style.com when asked about working with the photographers. Of course, the clothes—like an archival John Galliano gown accessorized with duct tape and safety-pin baubles by Mathieu Mirano, and Valentino Couture lingerie paired with Alaïa boots—added to the excitement.

“The concept was really, What would you do for the applause?” explained Maxwell. Donning a custom Gareth Pugh pillow gown (which explodes around a black catsuit by Mila Schön) and a Maison Martin Margiela Couture jacket (Gaga wears it atop a mirror-and-pin costume conceived by her sister, Natali Germanotta) seems a good place to start. However, Maxwell stressed that some of Gaga’s most memorable looks boast a DIY touch. “Nobody loves clothes and couture more than Gaga, but I think some of her most famous costumes are things that she made with her own two hands,” asserted the stylist. “So there are parts of the video that are incredible for fashion people—like, I was basically crying during that whole Galliano scene. But she has a huge fan base, and I like to choose pieces—whether they’re off the runway or made by us—that some of these kids can make at home.” This time around, those items included seashell pasties; a floating bikini bottom that Gaga’s in-house Renaissance man, Perry Meek, assembled from fresh flowers, glue, and string; and a surreal top by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac shaped to look as though two gloved hands are grasping Gaga’s breasts. The pop star also wears assemblage-style wings—fashioned from broken umbrella spokes—by L.A.-based Junker Designs. Continue Reading ““Applause,” Please: Brandon Maxwell Talks Styling Lady Gaga’s Latest Video” »