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July 22 2014

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3 posts tagged "Christiane Arp"

Dissatisfaction Is An Asset, And More Woolmark Wisdom From Alber Elbaz

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Last week, the first regional winners of the International Woolmark Prize were named in the U.S., Europe, and China; following the upcoming announcements of the Australian and Indian winners, the finalists will compete for the global award at London fashion week. Style.com’s Tim Blanks was on the judging panel of the European edition of the prize; he writes in with notes from the judges’ bench.


“I’m used to being judged, not judging,” sighed Alber Elbaz more than once during Thursday’s European heat of the International Woolmark Prize. The 21 designers from 11 countries that Elbaz and his co-judges—fellow designers Giles Deacon and Dean and Dan Caten; Vogue editors Alexandra Shulman and Christiane Arp; and me as the Sancho Panza of the posse—were assessing represented the usual apples-and-oranges challenge of all such contests, but at least the criteria were crystal clear so it was relatively straightforward to edit them down to a final handful. And then Twelve Angry Men Syndrome kicked in, with occasionally heated debate among jury members. Passionately argued positions dissolved, allegiances shifted, wine flowed (for at least one juror), but it was finally those closely studied criteria that carried Belgium’s Christian Wijnants (left, with Albaz)—at 34, almost a veteran in this context—to the top of the heap with a capsule collection of knit dresses that matched expert technique to an inspired color sense. He’ll face off against Sophie Théallet (U.S.A.), Ban Xiao Xue (China), and yet-to-be-announced designers from Australia and India at the grand finale during London fashion week in February.

For me, the real pleasure of the day was watching Elbaz rise to his responsibilities. Less judge than mentor, he gave all sorts of subtle insights into his own working methods. Turkey’s Ipek Arnas showed a dress with a complex intarsia covering its front. Too in-your-face banal for Elbaz. He advised the designer to reverse the dress, and presto! It took on an entirely different personality. “Now there is a surprise,” he said, satisfied. Elbaz was seduced by the ingenious top half of J.W. Anderson’s outfit, but less taken with the skirt, so he asked to see it just with the underlying crinoline. The result was scarcely as its creator had intended, but that top truly came into its own.

“When you finish a collection, do you love it the next day or hate it?” Elbaz asked a young Italian duo. He was clearly speaking from experience, so it wasn’t surprising that he confessed to being nonplussed by the unambiguously upbeat answers he got to his probing questions, at least in the initial stages of the judging process. “Unhappiness is the motor to move things forward,” Elbaz offered. Take this to heart, designers of the future: Dissatisfaction is an asset.

Photo: Courtesy of Woolmarkprize.com

A More Mature Turn At Berlin Fashion Week

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Mercedes-Benz Berlin Fashion Week is under way in the German capital. All week, reporter Hili Perlson will be sending back dispatches from the scene.

Day two of Berlin’s fashion week saw a change in direction, with many of the labels sending more mature and subtle creations down the runway, compared to the previous day. Black and white combinations ruled the palette, often with a minty pastel green or a bright tangerine for contrast.

Hugo by Hugo Boss (pictured) transformed an ice skating rink into a catwalk. White carpet replaced the ice, much to the chagrin of guests—including Kate Bosworth, Jessica Joffe, and China Chow—hoping for a break from the heat wave. The womenswear included A-line dresses with a below-the-knee cut, worn with geometric tops that gave the silhouette a futuristic look. Asymmetric shoulders made a big return at Hugo, accentuated with thin strips in a reflective metallic material. On the menswear front, standout pieces were a two-tone suit in black and white, with electric blue and red that melted on the border, and a playful suit jacket/blouson combination.

The collection of rising star Michael Sontag (a favorite of Vogue Germany editor in chief Christiane Arp) showed a strong development of the designer’s aesthetic, which is characterized by a special ability to do very feminine cuts without going über-femme. Extra fabric lining the contours on pants created a trompe l’oeil effect of round skirts and transformed tops into light sculptured capes. The show’s highlight was a wide charcoal overcoat in rich natural silk.

Romanian designer Irina Schrotter closed the day. This season, Schrotter, whose career spans two decades, entrusted her label to young avant-garde designer Lucian Broscatean, who gave the line his signature smart elegance. High-slit dresses in sand, nude, sheer white, and pale pink made up the core of the collection, matched with pieces in tangerine and bronze. The accessories drew inspiration from the art of Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei, giving the clean looks a crafty touch.

Photo: Courtesy of Hugo by Hugo Boss

Stella McCartney Likes Candy, Gerhard Richter

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With its verdant landscape and green viewpoint, Berlin is a natural fit for Stella McCartney’s eco-friendly clothes. It’s why Josef Voelk and Emanuel de Bayer, the visionary co-directors of The Corner (Berlin’s answer to Colette), decided to stock her line four years ago, before anywhere else in Germany. For last night’s party to commemorate the pioneering buy, they spelled McCartney’s name in balloons and invited Berlin’s leading fashion folk. The jolly fête at the high-end boutique was followed by an intimate dinner for McCartney hosted by German Vogue editor in chief Christiane Arp, where she was joined by guests like Veruschka and Olafur Eliasson. At The Corner, the menu consisted entirely of dessert in the form of mini candy bars, served by ladies in “I Heart Stella” T-shirts holding cigarette-girl trays. (For the record, they also offered cigarettes as well as flavored condoms and little samples of Stella perfume.) McCartney seemed overjoyed to see Michael Michalsky, the delightfully decadent Berlin designer. “You can’t talk to Stella without wearing gold alien ears,” he instructed me with German sternness. Of course, I obeyed. But even without the antennae, McCartney was willing to chat. “I would love to see the art galleries here,” she said. “I like Gerhard Richter. He came to one of my shows. Someday, if I sell a lot of dresses, I hope to own one of his paintings, but in the meantime, I have three children and need to hurry home.”