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July 14 2014

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11 posts tagged "Armani"

Au Jour Le Jour Goes Back to School

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BLOG_dyptich_1Yesterday afternoon, emerging Milan-based brand Au Jour Le Jour transformed Florence’s old customs office on Via Valfonda into a club-age iteration of a primary school classroom. Showgoers sat at red, yellow, blue, or green desks instead of perching on benches (which made it incredibly easy to take notes, for the record) and the back staircase was lined with glowing neon lights. It was the perfect backdrop for designers Mirko Fontana and Diego Marquez’s debut menswear collection, dubbed #backtoschool. The duo, who last season won the support of Armani and presented their womenswear lineup at Milan’s Armani Teatro, turned out a Spring ’15 range imbued with playful, kooky kitsch.
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“I found my old notebook from primary school, and we decided to give this mood to the collection with embroidery and prints,” explained Marquez backstage. “But we also tried to show strong tailoring. It was really important for us to make something fun but sophisticated.” Prints comprising rhinoceroses, red apples, yellow school buses, pencils, glue bottles, and lions were scattered across cotton shorts, short-sleeve button-downs, skirts, and dresses. (The designers showed a smattering of womenswear, too.) These motifs, along with pink unicorns and orange lions, were repeated elsewhere in sequins. Also on offer were preppy pastel knits paired with the shortest of short shorts for him and high-waisted boy shorts for her, as well as leather handbags that took the form of the abovementioned animals. Striped soccer socks and bright-hued sandals completed each irreverent look. The clothes were a good bit of fun—and well-made fun, at that, incorporating double cotton, paillette, quilted nylon, and a selection of couture fabrics for suits. That being said, those cheeky short shorts, or the women’s cropped sweaters, would surely be a recipe for detention.

Photos: Courtesy of Au Jour Le Jour

Dressing for Fame: Samantha McMillen on Styling Elle Fanning and Suiting Hollywood’s Muscly Men

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If celebrity status is conferred in red-carpet appearances, then no actress today can compete without the help of just the right stylist. As Kerry Washington once told Glamour after she noticeably upped the sartorial ante, “There were a couple of actresses whom I felt were having the upper hand careerwise—because they knew how to work that red carpet.” A carefully crafted collaboration between stylist and client, the perfect look can create an indelible impact on agents, casting directors, and those of us watching from the sidelines. Straight from the epicenter of all things celebrity, we’ve asked some of the industry’s top stylists to share their experiences and impressions from their perch above Tinseltown. With our Dressing for Fame series, we bring you an exclusive, insider look at everything it takes to create those iconic moments captured by a million photo flashes.

Samantha McMillen

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Elle Fanning’s red-carpet presence and demure aesthetic have been carefully crafted by longtime stylist Samantha McMillen. Just take one look at the starlet’s dazzling ensembles on the Maleficent press tour and you’ll agree that McMillen has the Midas touch. And McMillen’s touch extends to her other clients, too, including Dakota Fanning, Ellen Page, Mark Ruffalo, and Johnny Depp. Here, McMillen talks to Style.com about why working in PR helped launch her styling career, dressing Miss Fanning, and suiting some of Hollywood’s most muscly leading men.

How did you get into styling?
I had been working at Giorgio Armani as VP of celebrity relations for almost eight years. I started as an assistant and, you know, worked my way up. The nineties at Armani was pretty hectic, as we were the first and one of the few fashion houses at the time that was actively—possibly at some times aggressively—pursuing relationships with A-list actors for red-carpet appearances. I wore a lot of hats, but I think one of them was sort of as an in-house stylist. Back in the early nineties, not many actors had stylists. They would come in themselves to the showroom and you did your best to dress them head to toe in the brand. I naturally developed relationships with publicists, managers, agents, and the talent themselves. When it came time to go out on my own, I already had a lot of resources and contacts and, thankfully, some people who were willing to give me a chance.

What was your “I’ve made it” moment?
I don’t think I think in those terms. I’m grateful for every little job I took that led me to the next bigger job, if that makes sense. I never assisted anyone. I just jumped right in and started styling, so I had to learn as I went along. It was really hard at first, and I had days and sometimes weeks in a row where I wasn’t sure if I was going to get more work. I think when the work started really flowing in, I felt like I must have proven myself to enough people that they kept rehiring me or recommending me. It wasn’t so much about whom I was working with, but that I was starting to get support, loyalty, respect, and, most important, trust from publicists, photographers, and talent. That felt really good and I am eternally grateful to those people who got behind me and gave me a big push.

How did your work in PR help inform this new path?
Well, having an understanding of both sides of this business really helps. I know what I need on my end and I think I know what designers and their representatives need on their end. Especially when working with women’s runway, you have to be extremely organized, diligent, persistent, and respectful when it comes to samples. I call it “air traffic control.” A lot of designers have only one sample in each exit and there are multiple people requesting it for different editorials or fittings all over the world. If you are lucky enough to get it, or know it’s coming, you need to be respectful about tracking it, getting it back out as quickly as possible if you aren’t using it, and doing your best to keep it in perfect condition. I think the PR teams really appreciate this, and it definitely helps the next time you need their help for a fitting or photo shoot. It’s as simple as the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

Elle FanningWhen working with young women (e.g., Elle Fanning), do you try to keep it age-appropriate?

I really just try to honor the wishes, style, and comfort level of whomever it is I’m working with. Elle is fun because she is daring, unique, and has an incredible knowledge of fashion, especially considering her age. She loves fashion and she loves to try new things. At the same time, she has a good sense of what is timeless and knows which occasion to do a timeless look and which occasions she can be a little bit more experimental. Truthfully, there aren’t that many 16-year-olds out there who regularly have access to haute couture, so the term “age-appropriate” when it comes to fashion kind of makes me laugh. But to answer the question…Yes. I just try not to age them or put them in anything that would draw attention to an area on their bodies that people shouldn’t be focusing on. On the other hand, for my more iconic ladies who are a bit older, we try not to go too young or trendy—just elegant, flattering, and timeless, and a little bit of edge, depending on who it is.

When working with a celebrity for a promotional tour, where do you begin?
I usually start with premiere looks and then take care of the photo calls, junkets, and TV appearances. The TV looks can be more challenging because it’s a bit harder to get new runway for things like that, but it’s a difficult thing to explain to your client. Designers definitely prioritize red-carpet dressing opportunities, so our hardest work is getting great looks for morning shows, late-night talk shows, and press junket days.

What has been your experience with styling men? How do you find it in comparison to women?
I love both. Dressing men and understanding menswear comes very naturally to me. I love when I have a male client who is willing to “go for it.” But I also respect the man who likes to keep it simple, dark, and clean. With both you have to prioritize tailoring and make sure everything is impeccably fitted. Men tend to have a lot more layers and pieces, so the tailoring can be very involved. I work with a lot of guys who do action films and have large muscles in their biceps, shoulders, and thighs. It’s hard to fit those guys off the rack and the pants tend to be gigantic in the waist and the shoulders and arms on the jackets too small, so unless you are doing custom-made suits, you constantly have to tailor and fit to check the tailoring. Most men don’t like to try on clothes or stand still long enough to have their clothing pinned. I think women have a bit more patience with the tailoring process and the trying-on process.

What’s more challenging, working on a campaign or a red-carpet look?
Working on an ad campaign is probably more challenging because there are so many people with different needs and opinions. You have the ad agency people, the client, the photographer or director, and the talent all asking for and expecting different things. You have to submit shopping images ahead of time for approval and your work is under constant scrutiny. You are receiving new info and requests until the last second. I have lost many nights of sleep doing commercials and ad campaigns. But I feel at home with red carpet. Both are time consuming and challenging. Red carpet, to me, is more enjoyable, exciting, and rewarding.

Is there any client whose style you covet?
I mean…there are several things at any given fitting that I would love to have in my own closet, but I’d never try to wear them the same way my clients do. We are individuals, and it’s important to find our own unique way to express ourselves and have the confidence to do so.

Photos: Courtesy Photo; Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

What’s Old Is Now: Byronesque Debuts Its Latest Vintage Lineup

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Alaia Alaia“There’s a lot of ugly vintage out there,” said Byronesque founder Gill Linton. “I look at some vintage stores, and I’m like, ‘This is trash. It’s not fashion. There’s no story behind it. And you’re giving it such a bad name.’” You won’t find any of that rubbish on Linton’s website, which she launched in 2012 with the help of Marvin Traub Associates and Theory’s Andrew Rosen. As a die-hard vintage addict (and frequent Byronesque browser), I can personally attest to the fact that Linton only sells the crème de la crème of previously loved designer clothes and that Byronesque is the prime source of authentic vintage—i.e., clothes over twenty years old—on the Web. Byronesque is a veritable vault of lust-worthy vintage wares by the likes of Azzedine Alaïa, Vivienne Westwood, Pierre Cardin, Thierry Mugler, and more. So naturally, when Linton invited me to a private viewing of the latest additions to the site—which will be available to stylists for shoots for the first time—last week, I scurried on over.

Buyers from the Met had beat me to the event and scooped up an original 1920s frock, an authentic 1980s Yohji Yamamoto bustle coat (famously snapped by Nick Knight), a rare white crucifix-embellished Alaïa, and a sculptural black-and-white Issey Miyake gown. “I do love when they go to good homes,” Linton said of the museum’s purchases. The Met’s interest in Linton’s finds is a testament to her well-trained eye and standout merchandise. And despite the museum’s informed acquisitions, there was still much in the collection to gawk at. A custom-made Alexander McQueen three-piece men’s suit (complete with his signature lock of hair), an almost uptown-apropos lemon Galliano frock (“Though you wouldn’t see quite this much fashion tit on the Upper East Side,” laughed Linton), and a 1990s warrior-inspired Comme des Garçons ensemble comprise just a sampling of what’s available. “This is what we call contemporary vintage,” explained Linton. “It’s different from being classic—classic is safe. But it’s relevant and wearable today, and nobody’s going to say you look like an extra in Downton Abbey or an Austin Powers movie.” To wit, one of Linton’s colleagues turned up to the soiree wearing shorts by Rick Owens, which were the spitting image of the vintage Armani “Wigger Shorts” that hung on the rack next to him.

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Many of the most covetable pieces, like a serious supermodel-era neon tweed bra, shorts, and jacket by Chanel; the abovementioned Issey Miyake look; a cracked leather McQueen coat; a sea foam tulle Yves Saint Laurent dress; and an iconic leopard-print Alaïa frock, are courtesy of two singular women: model Irina Pantaeva and pop star Cristina Monet. The former was a muse to Miyake, and was actually photographed by Irving Penn wearing the gown purchased by the Met. The latter was a post-punk music maven with a miniature waist and impeccable taste. Their clothes have stories behind them—not only because they were designed by icons, but because of the life these women gave them. And that life, along with the garments’ superior aesthetic and quality, is what Linton is selling. “I really want people to feel excited about these clothes and their past,” Linton told us. After thumbing through this selection, it’s hard not to be.

Byronesque’s latest offering will be available on the website next week, but to reserve your favorite piece ahead of the pack, e-mail personalshopper@byronesque.com.

Photo: Courtesy of Byronesque 

Dressing for Fame: Elizabeth Stewart Talks Styling the Stars

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If celebrity status is conferred in red-carpet appearances, then no actress today can compete without the help of just the right stylist. As Kerry Washington once told Glamour after she noticeably upped the sartorial ante, “There were a couple of actresses whom I felt were having the upper hand careerwise—because they knew how to work that red carpet.” A carefully crafted collaboration between stylist and client, the perfect look can create an indelible impact on agents, casting directors, and those of us watching from the sidelines. Straight from the epicenter of all things celebrity, we’ve asked some of the industry’s top stylists to share their experiences and impressions from their perch above Tinseltown. With our Dressing for Fame series, we bring you an exclusive, insider look at everything it takes to create those iconic moments captured by a million photo flashes.

Elizabeth Stewart

Elizabeth StewartIf this past awards season is any indication, Elizabeth Stewart is a practiced pro who shows no signs of slowing down. The woman behind Cate Blanchett’s awe-inducing array of Armani, Sandra Bullock’s colorful body-con dressing, and Julia Roberts’ delightful menswear flourishes, Stewart continues to keep her clients at the top of best-dressed lists while sticking to their individual styles with impressive ease. Having worked at W, WWD, and The New York Times Magazine before entering styling, Stewart’s editor’s eye brings a studied approach to the pull. Here, she talks exclusively to Style.com about how the industry has changed, the role of social media, and why she likes working closely with designers.

How do you think your experience as an editor has shaped your styling career?
It really, really helped me to work in the Paris office of WWD. Spending so much time in ateliers in Paris helped me understand what goes into making a dress.

When did you know you wanted to start styling?
It happened by accident…I was writing for WWD and they needed someone to style the covers of W Europe.

Your first client was famously Calista Flockhart during her Ally McBeal run. How do you feel styling has changed since then?
I still work with Calista. Red-carpet styling is a real job now! It’s become much more of a “thing,” with so much interest in it—and much more of a business.

Does the increasing role of social media ever affect your sartorial decisions?
Social media adds a crazy and kind of fun element to what we do. It does not affect decisions usually, although we refer to it a lot in the room, especially when making a choice we know won’t be popular. I think because I’ve been a fashion editor my whole life, and fashion editors are not only opinionated but think they’re always right, the court of public opinion is not a problem for me. If the world likes a choice, I think everyone is right! And if they don’t, it’s the opposite!

When you’re working with an actress like Cate Blanchett, who is closely aligned with Armani, do you find the brand affiliation constricting? Or does it allow for more options?
It’s actually quite interesting to work so closely with a designer. I love knowing the whole design team and discovering all the resources that they have available. It’s a depth of knowledge I wouldn’t have about them if Cate didn’t have the relationship.

If you were dressing yourself for an awards show, which designers would fill your “try on” racks?
I wear a lot of Proenza Schouler and Prada dresses. So maybe I’d start with them!

Do you have an infamous fashion blunder or red-carpet mishap that has affected your process?
Not really. I always have a backup dress, which I am convinced is why I never need one. My one funny story is that Amanda Seyfried and I decided we liked a certain minidress better backward. I said, “No problem, just make sure you mention it on the red carpet so people know we did it on purpose.” She did, but the press ignored that fact and just wrote about how she had put her dress on backward!

What’s your biggest awards season indulgence?
Indulgence and awards season…oxymoron. Although this last awards season I stopped e-mailing at midnight rather than 1 a.m. And OK, I was eating chocolates the whole time. There’s the indulgence!

How do you honor the various aesthetics of different clients while still staying true to your styling ethos?
I love all kinds of fashion and love the opportunity to work with different aesthetics. That is what is great about dressing other people—I’m not limited to what just works on me. I really like to channel a client and filter her likes.

Photo: Billy Farrell/BFAnyc.com 

André Saraiva to Expand His Kingdom of Cool

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Andre SaraivaLast night, Style.com caught up with André Saraiva at the Armani Privé fete, where the international party czar let us in on a little secret. Fresh off of a Basquiat-inspired shoot with Jean-Paul Goude (“I was covered in yellow paint and dressed in Armani,” he said), the nightlife impresario revealed that this spring, he’s bringing more of his French flair to the States via a new bar in L.A. and a café on New York’s Broome Street. “Café Amour is just a place where I can read French newspapers and drink coffee how I like it—allongé,” explained Saraiva, who brought his famed Parisian hotspot Le Baron to lower Manhattan in 2012. Unfortunately for caffeine fiends, the new coffee spot won’t bow until after fashion week (the L.A. venture will follow), but we have no doubts that the chic set will be getting its fix chez Andre by the time the Spring ’15 shows roll around.

Photo: Joe Schildhorn /BFAnyc.com