43 posts tagged "Azzedine 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.
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 email@example.com.
In 2012, it was Rodarte and Frank Gehry. Last year, Azzedine Alaïa and Jean Nouvel had their turn. On Friday, Hussein Chalayan and Zaha Hadid will be the last mega-talents to impose their visions on L.A. Philharmonic’s Mozart/Da Ponte Project. The opera trilogy–Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro and Così Fan Tutte, respectively, all conducted by Gustavo Dudamel – has been nothing short of ambitious in partnering architect with fashion designer (or designers, in the case of Rodarte’s Laura and Kate Mulleavy). Even for Chalayan, whose runway shows have often bordered on performances and who is no stranger to conceiving costumes (for Michael Clark’s current/SEE in 1998 and the Saddler’s Wells Theatre in London in 2010), this production challenged his thinking. When the designer spoke to Style.com from London, he was preparing to visit L.A. for the final rehearsals. And unsurprisingly, he remained somewhat elusive on details, only to emphasize that his interpretation of Così Fan Tutte will be contemporary. Certainly his sketches – alternately diaphanous and sculptural – suggest an outright dismissal of late-18th century fashion. They, along with Hadid’s vision for the set, debut exclusively here. With only four performances, it’s a short run for so much effort. But there’s no doubt that the reward will last long past closing night.
There is a long history of fashion designers trying their hand at ballet or opera costumes. How do you explain the appeal?
You put yourself into a different realm. You think of your clothes in a broader context. It’s something different from what you normally do. It helps to also be thinking within a team. You’re thinking not only about your part but all the other parts. Normally with fashion, you can feel quite isolated. I find these experiences kind of nice; you learn and, hopefully, you become culturally richer for it. Simple as that.
When you came on board, the Rodarte/Frank Gehry production had already taken place. Did it guide you at all?
I had not seen it other than in pictures. And remember, I have done collaborations like this, just never with an architect. So I had some ideas; but this was another situation entirely because what I am doing still has to work with what Zaha is doing and [our work] evolved as islands that met and separated and met again, let’s say.
How do the design considerations change when making costumes for performers?
It is very satisfying because your clothes are on realer looking people. And those people have to be in them for a long while. And they have to feel comfortable in them. And look good in them. It wasn’t like I just plunked onto them whatever I wanted; I needed to consider what I felt was right for their neck height, their shoulders, etcetera… It’s the same kind of effort that I would make for my showpieces plus more. Everything had to be done individually for each person. And they were all different sizes and shapes. It was quite a challenge in that sense – but also very enjoyable because these people animate your clothes in a way that you’re not used to. And that adds another dimension to what I’m doing.
Were you familiar Così Fan Tutte already and how did you go about distancing the costumes from typical period pieces?
Well, of course, I had heard of Così Fan Tutte before, but I had never sat down and watched it. So the first thing was obviously to get familiar with the plot. And the whole story is based on infidelity. I interpreted that as clothes that would change function a little bit or have a deceptive element that would appear to be one thing and then become another thing. I think those ideas as represented through clothes is a lot more abstract. But there’s no point in approaching a designer like me to do period costumes. Zaha as well.
Do you think the audience will pick up on these ideas?
To be honest, I think they’re not so in your face. I mean, there’s a lot of texture and color and stuff. But there is a minimalism to them as well. So I’m hoping they won’t become cliché or anything like that. I’m hoping that they will be unexpected.
Indeed, there is always some element of surprise and whimsy with your collections—a dress covered in artificial nails or a hat that doubles as an umbrella. Can we expect any of that in the production?
There’s some of that, yes, but there are no accessories; it’s all within the clothes. A lot of work went into them. Every single piece is quite monumental. With my collections, you have clothes for different occasions; I am always thinking of the wardrobe. But here, if you can imagine, every single piece behaves like occasion wear.
Costumes can shape how characters perceive themselves in addition to how the audience perceives them. Were you keeping both sides in mind?
The idea is not that the costumes take over the characters. The idea is that the costumes create an ingredient to help enhance the characters. It is about the storyline and the feelings that [director Christopher Alden] wanted to portray. I felt I had to honor what he wanted. And we got on harmoniously from the start.
What kind of synergy is there between your costumes and Zaha’s sets?
I knew right from the beginning what Zaha was doing and I went to meetings at her office so I had an idea. But the main way they connect is that there is a sense of change—an element in transformation—in both my clothes and in the sets. Apart from that, it wasn’t like I wanted the clothes to look like an extension of the set or they wanted the set to look like an extension of the clothes.
Aitor Throup’s eerie, anatomical drawings have always been a critical component of his body of work. If you’d ever seen only them, you’d be inclined to label him an artist, though it’s as a menswear designer that Throup has insinuated himself into pop culture. And yet, every time he surfaces on Style.com, it’s with a new project that is as much art as fashion. And so it is with this installment of our semi-regular ThroupWatch.
The blurred lines are amplified by the fact that Throup has never really functioned as a fashion designer. In the eight years since he graduated from the Royal College of Art, he has managed to duck the industry’s swinging seasonal timetable. He’s designed collections—though they are better described as “projects”—without ever actually bringing anything to market, until last year’s “New Object Research,” which was a carefully curated overview of his output to date. The clothes quickly sold out in the handful of stores around the world that carried them.
But if there has never been much with his own label attached, that doesn’t mean Throup hasn’t been shaping a singular and stealthily influential presence. He’s always busy with consultancies, for instance. The latest—for Amsterdam-based denim label G-Star Raw—was announced yesterday. He’s also created the visual identities for Damon Albarn’s new album, Everyday Robots, and he’s designing everything for the band Kasabian, from stage design to album sleeves to videos. The latest, “Eez-Eh,” features a cameo by Noomi Rapace (see it here, above), who gets to unleash her rock ‘n’ roll animal alongside the band. The immediacy of the whole thing suggests Throup is getting a much bigger kick out of this sort of stuff than fashion. The sneaky thought even occurs that he keeps himself so busy with outside projects so he never actually has to face up to his own.
Not at all, he insisted last night at a Q&A in London’s Design Museum. Throup claimed all his projects—whatever, wherever they are—feed into each other. They’re all part of the same curatorial exercise, refining his ideas with the ultimate goal of “creating an intrinsic style that only has itself as a point of reference.” And if that sounds grandiose, consider that it’s a similar obsessive impulse that has shaped the careers of true innovators like Azzedine Alaïa, Rei Kawakubo, and Vivienne Westwood. No surprise, then, that innovation was the key word in G-Star’s announcement. Throup’s own definition of what he does is “deeply charged art in the form of product innovation,” which not only provides a bridge between artist and designer, but also promises plenty more fodder for ThroupWatch.
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.
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.
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?
In the end, perhaps fashion isn’t so complicated. It boils down to this: How do I find my signature and how do I develop it over time? Three things that people have said to me on this subject have stuck in my mind:
Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele (stylist): “I get inspiration from Mr. Alaïa, Mr. Lagerfeld. They know, you know? They know. They are not like all these young designers who change every six months. I think this is strange, because when you have talent inside, you never really change.”
Azzedine Alaïa (designer): “It’s inconceivable to me that someone creative can have a new idea every two months. Because if I have one new idea in a year, I thank heaven.”
Riccardo Tisci (designer), speaking approvingly of Hedi Slimane’s tenure at Saint Laurent: “I think Hedi, he wrote his first chapter [i.e., at Dior Homme] in a capital of fashion, and then he took his time off, and then he started from the same page. It’s like when you go to bed and you’re reading a book: You do the little corner, and then the night after, you start from the same page. And the aesthetic that he does really belongs to him. For sure, it is something that doesn’t look like anybody else, and that’s what I like.”
These thoughts were thrown into particularly sharp relief during a busy day of shows in New York yesterday.
What’s more remarkable about Kors: the fact that he’s now worth a billion dollars or the fact that, after three decades in business, he isn’t resting on his laurels? With his last two collections, he has brought his vision of American luxury into razor-sharp focus.
A very different designer from Kors, of course, but in his own way as American as apple pie or Pop Art. Scott has done what you do if you have your own signature: lived through a few seasons where he enjoyed the support of the faithful—and it’s some faithful; he draws the liveliest crowd in town (hey there, Jared Leto)—but didn’t have the full attention of the fashion press. Thanks to his recent appointment as creative director of Moschino, he’s firmly back in the media spotlight. He didn’t waste the opportunity, delivering a collection that riffed confidently on two great American pastimes: sex and sports.
How do you define the signature of a commercial juggernaut, best known for its menswear, which is now making a serious push into womenswear? That’s Jason Wu’s brief at Hugo Boss. He’s started to do it with the collateral: an Inez and Vinoodh-shot campaign; Gwyneth Paltrow as the face of the fragrance. And his debut collection? As Nicole Phelps said in her review, “Wu’s challenge going forward will be to maintain the Boss polish while figuring out ways to loosen up and have a bit more fun.”
I would be remiss not to mention Sui in this recap. She is one of the treasures of the New York calendar. Here’s Tim Blanks on what made her latest collection such a decadent delight.
Krakoff has been giving this subject a great deal of thought lately. After a few collections that felt the anxiety of European influence, he is now focused on creating his version of American luxury. Read Nicole Phelps’ review here.
Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez were part of a pack of young New York designers who broke through in the last decade. When they celebrated their tenth anniversary a couple of years ago, they decided to drill down on their label’s identity, starting with a powerful but understated new logo. Their aesthetic, now reliably their own, is rooted in the contemporary New York art world. It’s no coincidence that yesterday’s show took place at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, a gallery in the West Village.
IT’S RALPH, THOUGH
As it happens, I’m writing this after seeing Ralph Lauren’s show on this snowy Thursday morning. Lauren showed looks from his Polo line alongside his top-end collection today, and the move invigorated him. These clothes were as clear and direct as a Hemingway sentence. If America didn’t exist, Ralph Lauren would have had to invent it.