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August 1 2014

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71 posts tagged "Alber Elbaz"

Q&A: Lanvin’s Elie Top Is Launching High Jewelry, Was Bottle-Fed Chanel

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Elie TopElie Top, the fashion jewelry designer behind Lanvin’s remarkable baubles, announced today that he would launch a line of precious and semi-precious jewelry during the Couture shows in January. In an exclusive interview, Top spoke with Style.com about his lifelong influences, his friendships with Alber Elbaz and Loulou de la Falaise, and how he intends to handle high fashion as he ventures into the ever-expanding “haute jo” [high jewelry] category.

Finally! What convinced you to take the leap?
I’ve always had the idea of doing my own jewelry, but it was really about meeting the right people at the right time, ¬plus I’m not sure I was creatively mature enough before. And then there came a time to decide, and that’s when I met all the right people at the right time. They all complement each other. It was a good match. I’m really happy about it.

How do you envision your own brand?
I consider it sort of haute fantasy jewelry based on my experience in
costume jewelry. I want to take advantage of all the sophisticated techniques and possibilities high jewelry offers. For me, it’s a natural extension of my aesthetic and my taste for couture and costume jewelry, recast through the prism of high jewelry. I’m very French, so it will be a French brand, entirely. We’ll have a little salon where I can receive clients and design exclusive pieces. I’m obsessed with doing things myself from beginning to end. The point is to remain exclusive without being elitist.

Who do you look to from the past to define that style?
There are my basic-basics: I was practically bottle-fed on Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent, who are the foundation of fashion jewelry in the noblest sense. There are so many things I love: Art Deco, Despres, Fouquet; then Boivin and Belperron are always hovering in the background.

But a lot is about what I feel like now and the season, because I live in the world of fashion. It could be Belle Époque garlands one minute, or something very Baroque the next. And it’s not just jewelry—earlier this year I saw Einstein on the Beach in Paris and it was phenomenal, just extraordinary. But architecture, especially Art Deco, has always been important to me. I am always torn between that and things I loved as a child.

Which were?
Versailles, Vaux le Vicomte, Venice, Rome, and churches in general. From a young age I was crazy for Baroque. I would spend hours drawing my own meticulously detailed churches and castles that were a total mash-up of Italian Baroque and French classicism. My parents were kind of post-68 hippies—they had no idea what to do with that. Later I discovered the more radical, pure modern art of the inter-war period, which influenced me in terms of line and is much more mechanical, industrial, and constructed. So my aesthetic centers on two contradictory codes. It’s like a morganatic marriage between fantasy and nobility. At some point, much later, it dawned on me that I’m still doing what I was doing when I was 8 years old. Right now I’m calling it futuristico-Baroque. It’s an improbable fusion of two worlds.

What’s the storyline for your first collection?
There are many stories that compose the same story, about twenty pieces in all. I’m not obsessed by the value of the stone itself; for me, it’s more about design, conception, volumes, etc. If the stone is very important, that’s great, but I hope the value will be in the work itself. I’m totally not interested in doing just a diamond necklace. I love the
possibilities of mixing things up.

What did Alber Elbaz say about your decision?
He’s always been supportive; it’s a conversation we’d had for a long time. That was liberating, because he always told me I should be thinking about that, that it was important. I was just starting as an assistant when we met, when he joined Yves Saint Laurent. He’s the one who put me to work on accessories and jewelry fifteen years ago. I consider myself very lucky to have met him when I did. The same goes for Loulou.

What was your relationship with Loulou de la Falaise?
Love and admiration. She and Alber were the biggest influences in my life
between the ages of 20 and 30, and she was very intuitive. When it came to jewelry, among other things, she was so un-bourgeois; there was no snobbery, just a love of beauty. She didn’t overthink fashion, she just threw pieces together and it came out great. Precious things are not always what the world says they are. It can come in all sorts of shapes.

How will you juggle Lanvin and Top?
It’s easy for me, because its not the same story. What I do for Lanvin is for Alber—it’s guided by his collection, and it’s about the clothes and his world. But it’s costume jewelry, and it’s subject to the fashion calendar. High jewelry is based on other techniques, so I wind up doing something completely different. But I’m used to working a lot—I love it. Eventually I’d like to do other lifestyle objects, too. I’m only just getting started!

Photos: François Goizé

Why I Loved Louise Wilson: Katharine K. Zarrella Remembers What It Was Like to Be Taught by the Fearsome, Brilliant, and Irreplaceable Fashion Educator

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Louise WilsonI woke up to a devastating e-mail from Roger Tredre, my Central Saint Martins graduate tutor, this morning. “Louise Wilson has died,” read the subject line. “This is a great shock,” the message continued. “A very sad day.” Wilson, the revered Central Saint Martins Fashion MA course director, passed away in her sleep on Friday night. She was 52.

It is a sad day. Not only for the Saint Martins students fortunate enough to have been yelled at by the at once feared and adored professor, but for the fashion industry as a whole. Wilson, who was known to have some, let’s call them “unorthodox” teaching methods (screaming profanities was the least of it), helped mold many of the most brilliant design talents of the last twenty years. Alexander McQueen, Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders, Mary Katrantzou, and more all at one point stood (and probably cried) in her whitewashed office, the walls of which were covered in thank-you notes from graduates and heavy-hitting designers like Lanvin’s Alber Elbaz. He was a friend of Wilson’s who often came to speak at the school at her request. Such was the irreplaceable educator’s influence in the industry: While she was a force to be reckoned with—and a terrifying one at that—she was beloved by alums and movers and shakers alike. No one said no to Louise Wilson—not because they were afraid to, but because they didn’t want to.

I studied on the journalism pathway of the Central Saint Martins Fashion MA from 2010 until my graduation in 2012. And while I refused to admit it at the time, I was scared shitless of Louise. I remember the first day of my two-year stint at the school, when she walked into a room filled with aspiring journalists and designers and invited them to ask her questions about the course and the industry in general. It took a good while for anyone to come forward, thanks to Wilson’s famously intimidating presence. Eventually, I sheepishly raised my hand and inquired about her thoughts on a pair of American designers who were particularly hot at the moment. She leaned on the desk, looked me straight in the eye, and said, “Not much,” before taking the next question.

That was Louise’s way, both in conversation and education. She was refreshingly blunt, funny in the borderline offensive way that only the English can be, and had the ability to teach you more about not only fashion, but life in one terse sentence than most could in a decade. All eight of the students on my course initially thought Louise hated us. And who knows, in the beginning, she may have. She told us that we were “visually blind,” that we spat out too many words without saying anything, and, as a classmate noted today, she taught us that we needed to go to the design studio, not just the classroom, to learn how to be good fashion journalists.

I’ll never forget when I walked into her office to present the first draft of our class newspaper, The Central Saint Martins Journal, which was set to be distributed during the Fall ’12 CSM graduate show at London fashion week. Needless to say, she had her reservations (we were visually blind, after all) and wanted to ensure our work was fit to sit alongside that of her designers. At first, it wasn’t. She told me that the draft looked like a “venereal disease,” and proceeded to scream about writers’ lack of attention to aesthetics and the poor state of journalism for a solid forty-five minutes before dismissing me. After weeks of deliberating and arguing, the class decided that Louise’s disapproval only made us want our paper more.

She was surprised to see us back at her office door two months later, a second draft in hand. With a little guidance, we finally got her stamp of approval (we weren’t allowed to use any images, and our cover was blank, but that’s beside the point), and the final result still sits on my bookshelf. At the CSM show’s after-party, Louise gave me a hug, put her hands on my shoulders, and said, “Did you see it? It was on the seats!” before walking up the stairs of the since-shuttered London outpost of Le Baron nightclub.

That’s another thing about Louise. She didn’t wash her hands of you after you stepped off campus. Until her death, she attended many of her students’ fashion shows—I’d always see her backstage in London offering praise and, sometimes, advice to the likes of Louise Gray, Richard Nicoll, and Simone Rocha. She may have tortured them at Saint Martins, but she was there for them until the end. “She was a truly brilliant teacher because she showed students how to make ordinary work into extraordinary work, and took them on the journey with her,” recalls Tredre. “It was tough love all the way with Louise, but that tough love was, she believed, the best preparation for the real world.”

But it wasn’t just that Louise wanted her students to be prepared for the unforgiving beast that is the fashion industry—she wanted them to put their whole selves, and their best selves, into each stitch of their designs. She hated unnecessary flash; privileged, unwarranted arrogance; and, most of all, laziness. Nothing but heartfelt, sweat-infused perfection was allowed on the CSM fashion week runway. And given the caliber of collections we’ve seen year after year, her high standards paid off.

While I wasn’t as close to Louise as her design students, I still can’t begin to list all that she taught me. We don’t have the bandwidth. One thing I will say, though, is that her approach was flawless. For instance, during my final year, I needed to interview her for a story. She thought my questions were absolute crap and, as punishment, gave me only one-word responses. (Even so, they were some of the best answers I’ve gotten in my journalistic career.) Ever since, when preparing for an interview, I think to myself, Would Louise answer this? before settling on a query.

“There’s a phrase, ‘All fur coat and no knickers,’” Louise told me during a 2011 interview for Style.com. “Saint Martins has always focused on the knickers.” With that in mind, I’d like to say thank you, Louise, for helping me, and so many others, find our knickers.

Photo: Dave M. Benett/ Getty Images

In the MomentCam With Grace Mahary

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Grace Mahary

Wondering how models keep themselves entertained backstage during hours of hair and makeup? Grace Mahary, who recently shared her fashion week essentials with Style.com, is “currently obsessed” with MomentCam, a new photo-editing app that transforms camera pictures into fun, unpredictable caricatures. Along with a sketchy selfie (above), Mahary sent along several tongue-in-cheek portraits of fellow catwalkers, including Caroline Brasch Nielsen, Xiao Wen Ju, Tilda Lindstam, and Hanne Gaby Odiele (below). Over the next month, we’re hoping to see more MomentCam creations starring industry regulars. Could you imagine a cartoon Karl, Alber, or Pat McGrath? The possibilities are endless.

MomentCam is available at the iTunes App Store. Visit www.itunes.com.

model cartoons

Photos: MomentCam Courtesy of Grace Mahary

Designers Connect the Dots

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Stella McCartney Polka Dots Call it the Yayoi Kusama effect. George Clooney spotlighted an emerging trend when he turned up on the cover of W‘s Art Issue in a polka-dotted Giorgio Armani suit customized by the famed artist. (Her recent exhibition at David Zwirner’s gallery, I Who Have Arrived in Heaven, drew long lines.) We saw similar spots on Spring runways including Burberry Prorsum, Emanuel Ungaro, and Sportmax. Playful polka dots are popping up at this week’s Haute Couture shows, too. Raf Simons’ latest lineup for Dior featured intricate eyelets and cutwork details, while Marco Zanini put his own quirky spin on the quintessential spots at Schiaparelli. Cartoonish circles have also been popular in the new Pre-Fall collections, with designers like Stella McCartney and Lanvin’s Alber Elbaz making their respective points on cocktail attire and matching accessories.

Click for a slideshow of standout spotted looks.

From Jeanne to Alber, 125 Years of Lanvin’s History

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Jeanne LanvinThis year marks the 125th anniversary for Lanvin, the oldest fashion house in Paris. But age is just a number, and WWD reports that the storied brand is celebrating the milestone in a thoroughly modern way—via social media. Lanvin.com is launching a new section called “Lanvin History,” which will feature an archive of photos, videos, and original artwork by Jeanne Lanvin. And on facebook.com/lanvinofficial, significant milestones in Lanvin’s history will be posted each Thursday. With memorable moments such as the opening of Mme Lanvin’s first hat shop in 1889, the launch of menswear in 1926, Alber Elbaz’s 2010 collection for H&M, or even those must-have “Help” necklaces from Fall ’13, there’s no doubt a wealth of material. On Instagram, objects found in Mme Lanvin’s Paris headquarters will be shared with hundreds of thousands of fans, and pinterest.com/lanvinofficial will feature special boards to showcase the brand’s rich DNA.

The digital celebration will begin in early February, and a spokesman for the house confirmed a 2015 exhibition is in the works. After 125 years, we’d say it’s about time.

Photo: Harlingue via Getty Images