12 posts tagged "Carla Sozzani"
To me, the most telling event of Milan fashion week did not take place on a runway. It happened on the corner of Via Montenapoleone and Via Pietro Verri, and the news was relayed by a simple printed sheet of paper in the window of a shuttered store. G. Lorenzi has closed, it announced. “Permanently.”
Why should that matter? If you weren’t familiar with Lorenzi, how can I begin to tell you what it did? Well, here’s what it did. Lorenzi sold nail clippers. Lorenzi sold hairbrushes. It sold knives. It sold shoehorns. It sold shaving kits. It sold corkscrews. Downstairs in the basement, it even sold items of less quotidian usefulness, cigar cutters and the like.
But, trust me, this was not your everyday array of nail clippers. Lorenzi offered everything from the most basic stainless-steel model to the most exquisite horn-handled variety. Every item in the store was either made by Italian artisans or sourced carefully from around the world and then often given a unique finish in an Italian workshop. And it was all displayed in a way that was both straightforward and reverent under the watchful eye of a stern whited-bearded patriarch and a team of sales assistants who combined the humility of lab technicians with the seriousness of art curators. Look, I know the world has bigger concerns, but at a certain level, it’s high art to take the most mundane of tasks—my nails need cutting, I could use a shave—and elevate it into the most refined of pleasures.
Located on a prime corner of Via Montenapoleone, Milan’s Madison Avenue, Lorenzi seemed as much a part of the city’s fabric as the Duomo. Carla Sozzani, the proprietor of 10 Corso Como, the forward-thinking Milanese concept store, remembers the ritual of going to Lorenzi to buy Christmas gifts. The line would extend around the corner from the tiny shop, and she would see and chat with everyone she knew in Milan as they waited their turn. A little Internet sleuthing sent me to a Lorenzi in the Brera neighborhood that claims affiliation with the original, but it did not have the same charm, selection, or staff. It did not seem like the kind of place that would inspire queues.
I’m surprised that Milan’s textile tycoons, who have given millions of their own money to restore the nation’s monuments, haven’t stepped in. At a time when there is so much soul-searching going on about the country’s place in the fashion firmament and all the talk is of “Made in Italy” and the unique heritage encapsulated in that phrase, why let a place that represents the pinnacle of local craftsmanship disappear from the main drag? Why not follow the example of the Wertheimers, the owners of Chanel, who have saved specialized Parisian houses like Lesage from oblivion? Perhaps it’s not too late. Even if the economics of that particular spot no longer make sense, it seems the tradition should be preserved in some form.
In any event, the space that Lorenzi occupied for so long will not go unused. In due course it will begin a new chapter in its existence—it’s reportedly been leased to the Swatch group.
The Past Is Present: Azzedine Alaïa and Carla Sozzani on His New Store, His Forthcoming Fashion Foundation, And Their Decades-Long Friendship-------
They say that behind every great man is a woman. In Azzedine Alaïa’s case, that woman is 10 Corso Como’s Carla Sozzani—the designer’s friend since 1979, and business adviser since 1999. Sozzani joined Alaïa for the opening of his striking new three-story Paris boutique this weekend. Set in an eighteenth-century maison on Rue de Marignan in the eighth arrondissement, the shop is nothing less than we’d expect from Alaïa: clean and minimal, with paintings by Christoph von Weyhe and luxe decor by the likes of Charlotte Perriand, Angelo Mangiarotti, Marc Newson, and Pierre Paulin. Indeed, bringing the shop to life was no small feat. But even though he’s had a busy Paris fashion week (in addition to the store opening, Alaïa is the subject of a retrospective at the Musée Galliera, which opened on September 28), Alaïa shows no signs of slowing. Instead, he’s looking to the future and planning to launch a foundation to help preserve and celebrate fashion history. Here, Sozzani and Alaïa speak to Style.com about their relationship, the designer’s expansive vintage collection, and the new boutique.
Can you tell us a bit about your relationship?
Carla Sozzani: For me, there are two Azzedines. There’s the one who’s my chosen family—we’ll be friends all our life. And then there is the artist, the master. I love them both, for different reasons.
Azzedine Alaïa: Carla was behind this boutique; it’s thanks to her. But putting fashion aside, she is a great friend and a rare woman.
How did you choose this space?
CS: Azzedine wants to make his home in the Marais a foundation and museum for his clothes, his work, and his collections. He has compiled a huge amount of Vionnet, Balenciaga, Margiela, Comme des Garçons, African art. He agreed to this space, which is really like a house, because there are no shop windows. There’s a garden. It lets him be free. Azzedine always says that the best thing France ever gave him was citizenship, so he’s always happy to give back.
How did you begin collecting?
A.A.: In the beginning, I never considered myself a collector. It’s just that when I discover something I like, I want to learn more about it. It just so happened that when Balenciaga closed [in 1968], I realized that, for fashion’s sake, I had to do something. Everything was being marked down and sold, people were leaving. And I thought it was just stupid that this heritage would disappear and be lost. That’s when I started making a selection of pieces in function of whom I like, and I still do. Always. I pick things from each of Rei [Kawakubo]‘s collections. I have Vionnet, Dior. But Rei stands apart. Continue Reading “The Past Is Present: Azzedine Alaïa and Carla Sozzani on His New Store, His Forthcoming Fashion Foundation, And Their Decades-Long Friendship” »
Never mind their guest lists of the avant-garde’s great, good, and badly behaved, Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles’ villa on a hill above the town of Hyères in the South of France must have seemed to the locals like a bemusing glimpse of the future when it was built in the mid-1920′s. Its blocky modernism is still incredibly striking in the pink-shaded and shuttered context of a typical Riviera town, and you couldn’t wish for a better setting if you were an arts festival looking to stage a competition that celebrates creativity untrammeled by the forces of Mammon. Which, for the fashion end of the festival, translates into exhibitions of work by recent graduates from around Europe, for whom Hyères offers one final attempt to Truly Express Themselves. It might be their one last grasp at the high-concept ring before they’re subjected to the external disciplines of internships, studio assistant positions, and judgmental barb-tongues telling them to get real.
Except the judges at Hyères this year weren’t like that at all. The composition of the jury embraced a universe of sensibilities, from the rigorous thought processes of chair Raf Simons and editrix Jo-Ann Furniss, through the not-much-older-than-the-finalists Christopher Kane, Lazaro Hernandez, and Jack McCollough, to the well-seasoned industry perspectives of Carla Sozzani, Floriane de Saint-Pierre, Cathy Horyn, and Michel Gaubert, with my rosé connoisseurship bringing up the rear. Juries are a challenging proposition. In both numbers and gender equity, we were nowhere near 12 angry men, but the differences of opinion—and the passion with which they were aired—were a surprise, especially given that there was genuine agreement on one thing: This was not a bumper fashion year in Hyères. In the spirit of the place, it was bemusing, and even blocky hyères and thyères. But bumper? No.
The jury saw the finalists’ clothes three ways: as a presentation, on the catwalk, and in a showroom. It was fascinating how our appreciation of the designers ebbed and flowed according to the mode in which we were encountering them. Here, the fabrics ruled, there, the showmanship. The eventual winner was Lea Peckre from France. Her collection, Cemeteries Are Fields of Flowers (above), was polished in its execution, intriguing in its fabrication. I’m a sucker for wood sequins—and she also used GodSpeed You! Black Emperor as her show music, which can’t hurt. The attention to structure and the concierge color palette of Peckre’s clothes also had hints of Jean Paul Gaultier, with whom she interned. That too can’t hurt.
The jury’s honorable mention—and the competition’s most polarizing designer—was Emilie Meldem from Switzerland. Some members of the jury were utterly seduced by her directness, her drollness, and what she referred to as “the minimal eccentricity” of the Swiss aesthetic. What I loved most were the showpieces woven from twigs. (“Half my village helped on the dress,” she said with what might have been a chuckle, but could have been a choke.) Each stick was, according to Meldem, treated like a piece of jewelry. The result was so pagan, so ritualistic, that I felt like I was looking at The Wicker Man à la mode. Which can’t be bad.
One final note: Hyères is open to independent applicants from all over the world, which seems to be a well-kept secret. It doesn’t matter where you live, where you received your fashion education. So one word of advice to fashion students everywhere: Apply! Hyères at this time of year? A small patch of heaven.
The International Fashion and Photography Festival that takes place every year in Hyères (sorry, couldn’t resist) in the South of France has an impressive pedigree, a point rammed home by the rapid-fire video appetizer for the 26th edition, which runs April 29 till May 2. (You can watch it, in its slightly hysterical glory, below.) The ten fashion finalists (from France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, and Switzerland) will be judged by a jury headed up by Raf Simons, who also has an exhibition running in the Photography Festival. He’ll have to ride herd on jurors Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough, Christopher Kane, Carla Sozzani, Cathy Horyn, Michel Gaubert, and me, though our verdict will undoubtedly be rendered unanimous under the ameliorating influence of Provence’s finest rosés. And there can be few more appropriate locations in which to judge a new wave of design talent than the Villa Noailles, one of the French Riviera’s great if-walls-could-talk houses. In its pre-war heyday, it played host to Picasso, Dalí, Cocteau, and a whole host of avant-gardists. With Raf, rosé, and Michel Gaubert’s iPod, we should be able to raise a few ghosts.