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9 posts tagged "Alexis Bittar"

Backed by Nicola Formichetti’s Diesel Power, Brooke Candy Shoots for Stardom

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“I own everything, baby!” sang the oft foul-mouthed stripper-turned-rapper Brooke Candy before wrapping up a phone interview last week. She wasn’t referencing any kind of newfound wealth—after signing with RCA Records in February, the formerly homeless L.A.-based artist is just finding her footing in the pop music biz. Rather, her proclamation was a line from her new song and music video, “Opulence,” which dropped at a Diesel-sponsored party in New York last night.

The flick is lensed by Steven Klein and styled by Nicola Formichetti, who, after discovering Candy online in Grimes’ “Genesis” video, has taken the starlet under his wing. In October, he cast her as the face of his Diesel accessories campaign and flew her to Tokyo, where, flanked by gyrating exotic dancers, she performed at a bondage-themed sex party to fete the collection. “I wasn’t really looking for anybody. I wanted to just focus on Diesel,” admitted Formichetti, Diesel’s artistic director and former stylist to Lady Gaga. “But when I saw her, I couldn’t resist.”

Before teaming with Formichetti, Candy, 25, already had a sufficiently severe look, one that involved braids down to her calves, velvet bikinis, platform sneakers, and more bare skin than Miley—a deliberate and independent choice, according to Candy, that she believes expresses feminist power. “I have an agenda, and I’m not selling anything,” she said of her penchant for nudity and raunchy dance moves, adding that not all pop stars fall into the same category. “I don’t want to say any names, but there’s a difference between being knowledgeable about what you’re doing, and doing it because someone is behind you, telling you to do it. You don’t have to be the most genius fucking person in the world to tell when a woman taking her clothes off is authentic, and when it’s sad.”

“I see her as a blank canvas, and I just want to elevate her,” said Formichetti. “I love who she is. She’s very involved, and I don’t want her to suddenly become a new person.” Indeed, Candy has maintained her raw, sometimes shocking appearance. But these days, the braids have been traded for finger waves, the teeny bikinis for custom Olima Atelier bustiers.

“She’s queen of the freaks!” laughed Formichetti, when asked about the video wardrobe, which includes upwards of twenty-five ensembles, among them a Gareth Pugh trenchcoat, bespoke Alexis Bittar jeweled masks, and leather Diesel duds covered in plastic gems that the stylist found in Chinatown.

The “freak” element, as well as the overall concept of the film—which traces Candy’s evolution from a skinhead exacting revenge on a man who’s just robbed her, to a glammed-out queen of the night who becomes a gluttonous, glitter-covered monster—both stem from Candy’s primary inspiration, Paris Is Burning, the cult documentary about gay voguers in the 1980s. “That movie changed my perspective on everything,” raved Candy. “And I really related to this one moment when they’re describing opulence. Basically, the idea is that you show off so much confidence and poise that you create the impression that you’re the wealthiest, most intelligent, powerful person on the planet, and you own everything. And when those people were performing at the balls in their costumes, they were safe,” said the singer, noting that she feels most at home in underground gay clubs. In fact, the video’s theme was conceived with Formichetti at a drag bar in Tokyo, and was shot in a Bushwick warehouse filled with Candy’s friends, namely a transgender woman, a gaggle of drag queens, and her loyal posse of gay men. “We’re all freaks and outcasts, and this was meant to empower them.”

Though she asserts she “can’t predict the future,” Candy doesn’t foresee herself turning into the materialistic creature depicted in the video—mainly, she says, because she hasn’t forgotten where she came from. “I literally lived on the street and was wearing outfits made of paper because that’s all I could afford,” said Candy. (Side note: She actually grew up in the L.A. suburbs but fell on hard times after her mother and father—the CEO of Hustler Casinos—didn’t quite understand her artistic pursuits.) With that in mind, she and Formichetti aimed to champion other outré up-and-coming talents, like Nasir Mazhar, Charlie Le Mindu, and Natasha Morgan, by incorporating their designs in the film.

Even so, Candy has undergone quite the transformation—aesthetic and otherwise—since she set out to become a star. Best known for songs like “I Wanna Fuck Right Now,” the artist has toned down her lyrics in “Opulence,” the first single she’s released under RCA. “I worked with Sia and she felt the vibration I was putting out, but she said to me, ‘You have two paths you can follow. You can keep doing what you’re doing, or you can tone it down and go that much further.’ I don’t really let anything cloud my head, but I thought, If that’s going to help me speak to a broader audience, that’s fine. I’ll just ramp up my imagery.” And ramp it up she did—in one scene, Candy rolls around on the screen covered in blood, touching herself, while wearing lingerie, three crowns, and a fur coat gifted to her by Formichetti.

So did she sell out? “No. The lyrics were my decision. It’s a smarter way to go. And it’s just a different vehicle.” It’s a vehicle that Formichetti supports. “I like that I can sing along with it now,” he said. “And we need more freaky people in the mainstream.” No doubt, Candy is pushing her way into pop culture—she has another Diesel campaign in the works, and she’ll be starting a small tour this May. Naturally, Formichetti will be making the costumes. But is pop culture ready for Candy? “I think so,” said Formichetti. “I hope so. She’s in between edgy and crazy and pop, and that is where the magic happens.”

Best In Class

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With the school year around the corner, budding young fashion designers and journalists—the scholars of the 75th edition of the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund—wrapped up a summer in the city last night with a panel of headlining speakers: Alexis Bittar (pictured, left), Lori Goldstein (pictured, center), Cynthia Rowley (pictured, right), Michael Bastian, Terron Schaefer, and the affable moderator Mickey Boardman who opened with the line, “I started at Paper 20 years ago. With luck, you’ll make it to the middle, as I have.” Much of the panel’s discussion, titled “The Future of Fashion, Starting Out: What I Wish I Knew Then and Other Insights from Fashion Leaders’ Early Years,” was centered on advice for surviving the industry. With the summer heat, the conversation at FIT flowed loose and unedited. For one, Bastian emphasized putting in the grunt work and warned, “Our industry is littered with these people who think they’re born to be only number-one.” The menswear designer was echoed via confirming nods from his colleagues.

Goldstein, meanwhile, pointed out the various strong personalities in the industry, admitting that she was something of a control freak. That wasn’t necessarily a negative, though; as it turned out, direction and execution apparently produced results. The award-winning Schaefer also professed to hold the reins close. “I’m often wrong but never in doubt,” Schaefer said.

And for those looking for a shortcut (a.k.a. the next young YSL), better to look elsewhere. It seemed there was more than one path to fashion stardom but the road was at best murky. “My first job, I was a bartender,” Rowley said. “I was a total dropout,” Bittar, who began hawking antique jewelry on St. Marks Place while still in elementary school, added. But for overcoming roadblocks and to pursue success, Bittar recommended, “Be really honest with yourself about what you want to be. What are your ethics? Your aspirations? And if you don’t love it, then get out.”

Photo: Laila Bahman / KSW

Good Or Bad, They’re Bringing Sexy Back

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Nobody forgets their first time. But not everybody feels compelled to recall it in print. Credit where credit’s due, then, to the contributors to the latest issue of Dossier, Skye Parrott and Katherine Krause’s glossy biannual, which rounded up a cast of characters—from Alexis Bittar and Cynthia Rowley to Miranda July and arty nouveau-pornographer Richard Kern—to muse, in pictures and text, on their first forays in the bedroom. (One brave soul even conducted a phone interview with his deflowerer, who estimated that they’d last spoken their junior year of college.) Was anything too raw to see the light of day? “We have a policy of printing everything we like,” Parrott said with a laugh at the packed launch party last night, which drew Rogan Gregory, Monique Péan, Timo Weiland, and Suno’s Max Osterweis to the New Museum.

Cobbled together in updated-zine style—with help from Buero’s Alex Wiederin, the magazine’s recently appointed creative consultant, who co-founded Another Magazine and revamped Ten and Vogue Hommes International—it’s a testament of sorts to letting it all hang out. And letting it all hang out is exactly what Andrej Pejic does in an editorial shot by Collier Schorr (who, Parrott says, is planning to use some of the images in an upcoming show). The androgynous beauty, shot in various states of undress, is in good company among the magazine’s cover girls. The previous issues have featured Freja Beha Erichsen and Daria Werbowy, and while the three aren’t the strangest of bedfellows, Pejic is definitely a departure of sorts. “We had Freja and Daria,” Parrott said of the decision. “As far as models go, how could you go bigger than that?” As any of the issue’s contributors could tell you, there’s a first time for everything.

Photo: Courtesy of Dossier

Looking For The Next Chloë? Try The Newsstand; The Faces To Watch This Fashion Week; Rihanna’s Feeling Fruity;
And More…

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How’d Chloë Sevigny kick off her career in film and style? By cutting school, it turns out. eBay’s Andrea Linett, the woman who discovered young Sevigny way back when and put her in an ad for Sassy editor Jane Pratt’s The Jane Pratt Show, discovered her loitering at a newsstand̵2during school hours. She did the ad anyway, and lo, a star was born. [Vogue U.K.]

In Rihanna’s new video, she wears newsprint dresses and giant-cherry headpieces. Fruit millinery? Sounds a little like someone we know. That someone, though, is 100 percent on board. “J’ADR!” Anna Dello Russo tweeted about the new vid. [Anna Dello Russo]

Meet the new ones to watch: Modelinia selects its fresh faces of the Fall 2011 season, including Xiao Wen, Ruby Jean Wilson, and Laura Liriano (left). See you on the runway, ladies. [Modelinia]

Speaking of modeling, Alexis Bittar scooped up one of the industry’s grandest dames for his latest poster campaign: Lauren Hutton. He first met the supe 20 years ago when he was still selling jewelry on the street in Soho. [WWD]

As if we needed another reason to hit the spa, The Standard Miami’s is now home to the Rafael de Cárdenas-designed STND/OHWOW store, stocked by the Miami Beach art gallery with accessories, jewelry, beach goods, gifts, and art books. [Racked]

Photo: modelinia.com

Looking For The Local Hot Spots?
Just Text Your Concierges

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Welcome to the future, St. Regis Hotel—and by the future, of course, we mean the App Store. New York’s storied hotel is the latest to debut its own PDA application, which will allow guests of the hotel (and those who wish they were) to find calendar listings and a directory of favorite places to shop, eat, drink, and sightsee in the Big Apple. (Guests will also be able to text with the staff—Champagne and hand towels, stat!) To curate the app, however, they went farther than the St. Regis’ own concierge and solicited tips from New York notables, including plenty from the fashion world. Below, a few of their picks, from a risotto not to miss from Barneys’ Simon Doonan to Met Costume Institute curator Harold Koda’s favorite shop.

“For a little risotto primavera, I am loving Il Cantinori (32 E. 10 Street, NYC, ilcantinori.com) on 10th street. The crowd is fashiony but not too fashiony.”—Simon Doonan

The Neue Galerie(1048 Fifth Avenue, NYC, neuegalerie.org) “houses an amazing selection of Wiener Werkst&228;tte’s work. It’s a perfect amount of culture and art that leaves you invigorated to design and create. Treat yourself to the café for some Hungarian goulash.”—Alexis Bittar

Ted Muehling’s shop on Howard Street (27 Howard Street, NYC, tedmuehling.com), near my second favorite, De Vera on Crosby. Both have the idiosyncrasy of discerning collectors as well as the refined aesthetic of true creators.”—Harold Koda

“I love Narnia Vintage (161 Rivington Street, NYC) on the Lower East Side—they stock beautiful, very unique designer pieces.”—Jason Wu

“My favorite classic is at Park Avenue and 53rd Street. You have Philip Johnson’s Seagram Building, across the street is the old-school elegance of the NY Racquet Club by McKim, Mead, and White, and then catty corner you have the Lever House.”—Peter Som

Photo: Courtesy of the St. Regis