151 posts tagged "Balenciaga"
Professor Louise Wilson, the renowned Central Saint Martins Fashion MA course director who launched the careers of former students like Lee Alexander McQueen, Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders, Richard Nicoll, and more recently Simone Rocha and Craig Green, has died. She passed away in her sleep last night while visiting her sister in Scotland. She was 52.
A Saint Martins grad herself (she was lucky enough to have Ossie Clark as her tutor in the eighties), Wilson worked at the London-based college from 1992 through her death, taking a brief hiatus in the late nineties after being headhunted by Donna Karan. She was famed for her brash, often outrageous teaching tactics and outbursts, though her dedication to her students was never questioned—Wilson would consistently go above and beyond to help them grow, succeed, and earn placements at such houses as Lanvin and Balenciaga.
Wilson had been in poor health for some time due to breast cancer. She leaves behind her partner of more than thirty years and their son. Wilson was not only a pillar of the London fashion community—she was a veritable institution and inspiration for designers and fashion lovers worldwide. Many of today’s greatest talents owe her a huge debt of gratitude. She will be sorely missed.
Cristóbal Balenciaga reputedly made only three journeys afield in his lifetime and certainly never traveled anywhere as far-flung as Asia. However, forty-odd years after his passing, the house of Balenciaga, with Alexander Wang at the helm, staged its own intrepid China expedition, bringing forty-eight archive pieces to Beijing.
Handpicked by Wang, the selection from Cristóbal Balenciaga’s Parisian years (1937 to 1968) highlighted the key pieces in his oeuvre. “I think it would be doing an injustice for everybody not to see it,” Wang explained. Enshrined at the center of the exhibition, therefore, was the famous Infanta dress (1949), which shows the unremitting influence of Balenciaga’s Spanish heritage on his work; the Babydoll dress of 1958; and the famed wedding dress from his last collection presented in 1967.
Though he epitomized that old world of couture, Balenciaga was the greatest pioneer of them all. Blockbuster pieces aside, the Fishnet dress (1964), an overlay of net upon a black sheath inspired by the fishermen in his hometown of Getaria, and a reversible fur-lined silk-nylon coat (1959) were just a few examples of the utterly modern. A little-known fact about the famously reticent designer was his penchant for filming his presentations in the last decade of his career, and the videos provided illuminating glimpses of “the master of us all” at work. A suit worn by Marlene Dietrich in the 1950s and the Sari dress, a design owned by Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor, and Dodie Rosekrans, also served as a reminder of his legendary clientele.
The venue, the China Academy of Oil Painting, was chosen for the church-like structure in its midst (actually the school’s lecture hall), where Balenciaga’s SS’14 collection was presented. “We could have easily shown the Fall collection,” Wang explained before the show, “but I wanted something that would penetrate immediately.” Along with the existing outfits, therefore, the models (Shu Pei, Ming Xi, Xiao Wen Ju, Hanne Gaby Odiele, et al.) sported fifteen new looks from a capsule collection released exclusively in Balenciaga’s China stores immediately following the show.
Fresh off a trip to Tokyo, where Balenciaga opened its first flagship store in the city’s Aoyama District, Alexander Wang is headed to Beijing this week. The house is staging a multipronged brand-building event there on Friday. Burberry and Michael Kors have put on their own extravaganzas on the mainland in the last few weeks. Balenciaga China Edition promises to be unique. Staged on the grounds of the Chinese Academy of Oil Painting, it will feature an exhibition, specially curated by Wang for the occasion, of forty important archival Cristobal Balenciaga pieces, including the couturier’s famous wedding dress from 1967 and his baby-doll dress from 1958 (more on that portion of the festivities on Friday). Linking past to future, the exhibition will be followed by a runway show of Wang’s Spring ’14 collection for the brand, which will include thirteen new pieces made exclusively for the Chinese market. Here, Style.com has an exclusive video first look at some of those designs.
If you live in West Hollywood, fur is not in your future. WWD reports that a federal court has upheld the ban of fur apparel, a ruling that was first enforced back in 2011. West Hollywood retailer Mayfair House challenged the ordinance as being unconstitutional, but chief judge George H. King of the United States District Court for the Central District of California dismissed the claim. He reasoned that West Hollywood’s intent to “promote community awareness of animal welfare, foster the city’s goal to be a community that cares about animal welfare, and further the city’s reputation as a cruelty-free zone for animals” by banning fur sales was a “legitimate interest.”
The ordinance could have severe implications for businesses. The Fur Information Council of America has estimated that more than half of the retailers in West Hollywood will lose sales as a result. The ban doesn’t just limit the sale of super-luxe coats—it includes any apparel item with fur fibers attached, like shearling and calfskin.
The ruling would have a little more clout if it applied to retailers across the board—not just clothing. As it stands, home design stores can still sell fur rugs, yet the Balenciaga boutique won’t be able to stock any of the fur sweatshirts from Fall ’14. However, it’s independent retailers that will really take the hit. They don’t have the luxury of stocking their fur pieces at additional locations around the world. Fur is a difficult—and emotional—subject. But whether you’re for or against it, it’s worth considering: In this economy, is stunting the growth of small businesses really the best move? We’ll soon find out.
It’s a funny thing, the connection between protection and clothing. On the most basic level, jackets, trousers, glasses, hats, et al. defend us from the elements. But sometimes, it’s the most superfluous accouterment that can make us feel invincible. Such is the case, to some extent, with V. Stiviano, the mistress of disgraced racist Clippers owner Donald Sterling, and her iridescent visors. No doubt you’ve seen photographs of her donning the accessory out and about in L.A. following the scandal in which Sterling forbade her from publicizing her friendships with black people. In a recent interview with Barbara Walters, Stiviano conceded that the full-face visors, which she owns in a myriad of hues, make it “easier to mask the pain.” Fair enough. And it’s not as though she’s the first visible public figure to hide behind headgear—you’d be hard-pressed to find a celebrity, mid-scandal or not, who hasn’t shielded themselves from prying eyes via giant sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats, hooded sweatshirts, or the like. But visage-enveloping visors are indeed an extreme—second only, perhaps, to the deeply bizarre black mask Leonardo DiCaprio sported at last year’s Venice Biennale. (Nothing says “under-the-radar” like channeling Darth Vader.)
“In the past, wearing things like visors or veils was more out of modesty, or maybe a sense of propriety,” explained The Museum at FIT’s associate curator of accessories, Colleen Hill. She cites the large-brimmed “poke” bonnets of the 1830s as an example. “In my opinion, they were an item of propriety. Not only did they shield the woman’s face from the sun, but they also provided a sense of security,” she told Style.com. “Today, [something like a visor], for celebrities in particular, acts as a psychological veil. Even if it’s something that’s transparent, it does create that little bit of a barrier. Making eye contact is such a personal thing, I think that is part of [face coverings'] appeal.”
Thanks to her shield, Stiviano has essentially been hiding from swarms of paparazzi in plain sight. But what’s funny is that while she’s sporting these visors as an invisibility cloak of sorts, they only make her more conspicuous. To wit, she’s more infamous now than before she broke out the accessory. And apparently, her Daft Punkian method of pseudo-protection has ignited somewhat of a visor boom. “We sold out this morning, and we’re waiting on a new shipment,” offered Gingie McLeod, the founder of Tribeca’s SaintChic store and label, which produces and carries Stiviano’s new staple, aptly dubbed the Paparazzi Visor. “They’re actually designed for tennis and hiking—for function. But people have been calling nonstop asking if this is the V. Stiviano visor and if it will cover their whole face or if anyone will be able to see them.” Before the craze began, McLeod had sold only four of the accessories.
Surely, Stiviano wasn’t aiming to start a trend with her quasi-disguise (or heck, maybe she was, though I seriously considered shelving my Chanel 2.55 after seeing a photo of her carrying a similar style). And certainly, part of this newfound visor obsession is in jest. (McLeod told us she just got a call from someone throwing a Stiviano-themed party.) But in truth, this perplexing “don’t look at me but do” mode of dressing has deep roots. Investigating visors alone, you might look back to Pierre Cardin or Paco Rabanne’s futuristic plastic shields from the 1960s, featured in numerous fashion shoots. More recently, there was Nicolas Ghesquière for Balenciaga’s giant Spring ’12 visor (inspired by an archival 1967 Balenciaga wedding hat), which completely covered the face and eyes. However, those who wore it, like Anna Dello Russo, attracted hoards of street-style paps. Same goes for Alexander McQueen’s mammoth Fall ’12 shades. Maison Martin Margiela’s couture masks should also be considered here: On the runway, they create a sense of uniform anonymity, yet on the street, they allow one to hide in style. But do MMM mask fans like Lady Gaga or Kanye West really want us to look away from their haute veils? Unlikely, particularly since West often wears his onstage. More than a striking visual, it has been interpreted as his commentary on fame, and it seems apt for someone who is both more open and uncensored than most celebrities and yet also a man of mystery.
Perhaps the trend is a sign of the times—not unlike our social media avatars, these outré shields afford us the opportunity to put ourselves out there without any risk of full-frontal exposure. They’re a superficial cushion—a buffer between the wearer and the outside world. Or maybe they’re just an ever-so-slightly less obvious plea for attention than the selfie. If that’s the case, let’s hope for a total transition—I’d rather look at an off-the-wall mask than an ill-angled iPhone snap any day.