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August 29 2014

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3 posts tagged "Elizabeth von Guttman"

Peter Pilotto Celebrates Success and Looks to the Future

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Christopher De Vos, Amber Le Bon, Anna Friel and Peter Pilotto

You know things are good when you throw a party to celebrate an award six months after the accolade was given—just because you are too busy working away. Such was the case with Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos of the label Peter Pilotto, who, along with John Demsey, group president of Estée Lauder Companies, hosted a fete to celebrate the designers’ January win of the 2014 BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund—as well as their longstanding collaboration with MAC.

Held at Pilotto and De Vos’ new studio in East London on a rare sunny evening, the party attracted big names, many of whom were still hungover post-Serpentine gala. Amber Le Bon, Caroline Winberg, Tallulah Harlech, Elizabeth von Guttman, and Caroline Issa’s willingness to attend was a testament to the design duo’s pull.

The pair’s Target collaboration that launched in January (one of the rare high/low collaborations that was stocked by Net-a-Porter) was a triumph, with many pieces selling out within. Harlech in particular was fulsome in her praise. “Their detailed embroidery is pretty intense for me to look at—I once lingered in their archive, falling for all the pieces with incredible detail I’ve never seen up close.”

Naturally, winning the Fashion Fund honor has enabled Pilotto and De Vos to grow their brand. “Now we can make key hires and expand our team so we can carry on with our goal of reaching out to a wider global clientele. It has been an interesting road where we learned a lot along the way, so tonight’s dinner is our way of thanking a lot of people who have helped us get here,” offered De Vos. “After all, we came to London as outsiders, and the fashion community here really embraced us early on. We are humbled by the support,” Pilotto added.

Though the brand is best known for its vivacious prints, its journey to success, the designers admit, wasn’t always easy. “People can be very emotional when it comes to print: It can divide a lot of opinions,” said Pilotto. “But we always felt compelled to follow our instincts, and critically, look at shape and structure as much as fabric. We are as much engineers as we are print people.” So what’s next up for the duo? “Our team is five times bigger than when we started, so now we are in the thinking and planning stages to expand the collection to include swimwear and more accessories,” revealed De Vos. “It is a really exciting time for us right now.”

Photo: Courtesy Photo

Elizabeth von Guttman and Alexia Niedzielski Talk Going Green, Ever Manifesto, and That Little Balenciaga Vs. Nicolas Ghesquière Lawsuit

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 Alexia Niedzielski and Elizabeth von Guttman

Editors Elizabeth von Guttman and Alexia Niedzielski are not your typical sustainable-fashion activists. They’re not into hemp, and their vision of eco-clothing is more tailored metallic faux-leather Suno than organic cotton tee. They founded Ever Consulting, their eco-conscious think tank, along with Charlotte Casiraghi in 2009 on the premise that environmental awareness does not necessitate aesthetic or social restriction. Last week, the duo launched a new collaboration with mass retail giant H&M, as well as the latest edition of Ever Manifesto, their free print publication dedicated to thoughtful—and positively charged rather than reprimanding—conversation in eco issues. We caught up with Von Guttman and Niedzielski, who were dialing in from London and Brazil respectively, to talk about the new issue, “Ever Conscious”; what’s next for eco-fashion; and, as co-editors of System magazine, just how they feel about that Nicolas Ghesquière-Balenciaga lawsuit.

Tell us about the new issue.
EVG: This is the third issue. Each time we take a different theme. This one, since it was partnered with H&M, is so much bigger than what we’re used to. Before, we did one with Gucci, which was great, but it was much more exclusive and luxury-oriented. This one was a great opportunity to talk to a bigger audience and also to make sustainable fashion a bit more available and affordable. We collected all these amazing people we had met throughout the years who have inspired us in different regions—fashion, design, activists, celebrities—and gave them a platform to explain all the wonderful things that they’re doing. We included Pharrell Williams, who has a new company called Bionic Yarn that does all this tech stuff with recycled plastic; Elettra [Wiedemann], who is obsessed with food; and Dianna Cohen, who is an activist against plastic.

Ever ManifestoI love the cover.

EVG: It’s kind of funny, no? It’s a little tongue-in-cheek. We wanted to show some humor, too. We always collaborate with different artists, and this one was Carsten Höller, a great contemporary artist. He did the big slide. He’s been obsessed with consciousness. So there’s this thing that you do with chimpanzees, and he actually did it with his newborn baby. You put your baby in front of a mirror with a dot on its forehead and the moment where the child rubs the dot off its forehead, that’s where you realize that they gain consciousness. So this is the inspiration for the cover. It’s about the theme of self-reflection and awareness and consciousness.

I think that’s where this whole project started: around the self-consciousness idea and also the selfie. The selfie was added as a word into the dictionary last year. Selfies are so…everyone in the industry does selfies. It pushes this idea of self-consciousness but not always in a positive way. What we were trying to do was change that idea and to raise the awareness of collective consciousness. We wanted to make a conscious selfie instead of just this or selfish selfie. Through a social media campaign, we want to open it up to the public and ask people to take conscious selfies around the world.

From a sustainability standpoint, how do you feel the industry is changing?
EVG: I think that maybe trying to be a bit more transparent. That was not the case at all a couple years ago. People are starting to open up, and I think this is a good thing because no one should do great things on their own. People are much more educated and they are finally realizing that sustainable fashion is not only about organic cotton. But there’s still so much to do. That’s why it’s so important to keep on persisting and create more awareness and to propose ideas about how to create in better ways and more responsible ways.

AN: I think the customers and the brands have gained more consciousness over the last few years. The customers are demanding more information from the brands. It’s like a few years ago in the food industry—the customers demanded more organic food and now there is. That has to transfer to the fashion industry. If there’s more demand for these kinds of products, I think companies will produce more ethical products and more beautiful clothes.

They have to be desirable, as well as sustainable.
AN: Yes. You don’t want to just go buy something because it’s green. You want to buy it because it’s beautiful and also green. I think there are more and more brands, like Maiyet and Suno, that are doing great things. People are realizing that we can have both. There’s no compromise anymore.

So what are some things that we as consumers can do?
AN: We have a choice every time we purchase. I think they need to show it by buying something that they think is responding to their needs, and being responsible should be one of them. Elizabeth and I—we’ve changed along the way. We’ve consumed more responsibly.

EVG: We can just be a bit more informed. Information is out there now. Take a little bit more time before you purchase. Think twice about it.

I wanted to ask you as well about System, and the process of publishing more intellectual magazines in a climate where everything is about tweet-size consumption and being easily digestible.
EVG: We need content. We need consistency in content. So much of what is out there is a lot of the same, and that’s why we’re always trying to work and make new ways. I think it’s about pushing yourself constantly, about pushing the limits and redefining the limits. That’s what we’re trying to do with all the projects we do.

AN: I think, also, when we print something, we want it to last. We’re obviously against disposable fashion but also disposable printed material. We want to print passionate products—more like objects—and something that you can pick up a year later and it’s still relevant.

What are your thoughts on Balenciaga’s legal action following Nicolas Ghesquière’s words in System? You gave him the space.
EVG: Obviously, this was the kind of hot topic of the season. This is not really what we’re about. We’re not looking for the scoop. We’re just looking for great stories. We turned out to be the scoop of the season. But it’s not what we looked for.

AN: I think [Balenciaga] moved on. Most of us have moved on from the drama and tried to do great things. [Alexander Wang's] first collection was great, and I think there’s so much to look forward to. I just hope everyone has moved on, because it’s a shame to rest on the little quarrels, and I think everyone should be above all of that by now. There are so many other things to focus on for everyone.

Photo: Matthew Stone 

EXCLUSIVE: H&M Goes Green With Ever Manifesto

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H&M
H&M

This season, H&M has tapped Elizabeth von Guttman and Alexia Niedzielski of sustainable fashion and design think tank Ever Manifesto to design its environmentally friendly Conscious Exclusive collection. Founded in 2009 by von Guttman, Niedzielski, and Charlotte Casiraghi (the former two women are also behind independent magazine System), Ever Manifesto aims to act as a catalyst in highlighting innovation within sustainable production, manufacturing, and communication in order to create a design-led ethical product.

Ever ConsciousInspired by flamenco dancing and Spanish bullfighting, von Guttman and Niedzielski’s H&M effort, which debuts exclusively here, features ruffled dresses, sharply tailored bustiers, and jackets with rich embellishments. Also on offer is a dramatic navy gown, a romantic floor-length lace wedding dress, and, for the first time, shoes and accessories. All garments are made out of sustainable and ethically sourced fabrics such as organic cotton and silk, vegetable tanned leather from an organic Swedish farm, recycled polyester, and Tencel. If you’re not already enticed, get a load of the price point: Pieces range from $17.95 (for a headband) to $549 (for the wedding dress). “The great thing with H&M is that we can really prove to people that we can make beautiful clothes in a responsible and transparent way that is affordable at the same time,” explained Von Guttman.

Alongside the collection, H&M and Ever Manifesto have also collaborated on a magazine called Ever Conscious, a portrait publication whose purpose is to raise awareness about the gravity of purchasing power and consumer choices as sources for sustainable change. With a cover by artist Carsten Höller, the magazine boasts interviews with more than twenty environmental activists and cultural tastemakers from the worlds of design, gastronomy, music, and science. Lily Cole, chef Daniel de la Falaise, artist Matthew Stone, and renaissance magnate Pharrell Williams—who discusses his role as creative director for Bionic Yarn, a material created from recycled plastic—are just a few of the issue’s compelling profiles.

The Conscious Exclusive collection and Ever Conscious magazine will be out in selected H&M stores on April 10.

Pharrell

Photos: Courtesy of H&M; Carsten Holler; Matthew Stone