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4 posts tagged "Goga Ashkenazi"

Hussein Chalayan on His “Unobvious,” “Intelligent-Sexy” Vision for Vionnet

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Hussein Chalayan

On the surface, Madeleine Vionnet—the 1920s and thirties revolutionary known for inventing the bias cut and creating elegant, sculptural, corset-free looks—and Hussein Chalayan—the conceptual daredevil responsible for the bubble dress, wearable furniture, and, most recently, his Spring ’14 hat-umbrella hybrids—don’t appear to have much in common. However, upon further inspection, the grandmother of modern dress and the cerebral Cyprian designer are remarkably similar—namely in their obsessive attention to detail, forward-thinking attitudes toward femininity, and refusal to be slaves to the past. Perhaps that’s why Goga Ashkenazi, who acquired Vionnet in 2012, tapped Chalayan to design the storied house’s demi-couture range. “I can kind of see why they asked me, because of my, let’s say, architectural approach and my interest in geometry,” said Chalayan, whose first Vionnet collection will hit the runway on January 21 during the Couture shows in Paris. “I like to do work that looks new rather than referential. So I think it’s a good collaboration, to be honest.”

Since the announcement of Chalayan’s appointment last week, his forthcoming take on Vionnet’s philosophy has been hotly anticipated. And it will be interesting to see how his presence at the house affects its stature. After laying dormant for more than sixty years, Vionnet was awakened in 2006, and saw a veritable revolving door of designers—some of whom, to put it nicely, didn’t do its namesake justice. Since buying the struggling brand, Ashkenazi (who, in addition to serving as its chairman, is the creative director of the label’s ready-to-wear line) has made a noble effort to restore Vionnet to its former glory. Could Chalayan’s twenty-plus years of boundary-breaking experience be the ticket back to the top? Here, Chalayan talks to Style.com about his debut Vionnet outing; making couture more accessible (if only a little); and why, despite his artistic approach, he’s not just a conceptual designer.

How did Goga Ashkenazi approach you about this project?
Davide Dallomo, who works with Goga, reached out to make the introduction. Then I met Goga in Milan just after the summer. We had a few conversations, and we signed a month before Christmas. Goga liked my initial sketches. We got along right from day one, and I was happy that I was able to realize a lot of my ideas with a few of Goga’s suggestions and changes. We had our first fitting before Christmas, and I’m pretty pleased.

Why did you say yes to Vionnet? Did you have any reservations?
I had to think about it, of course. But when I met Goga, she’s honestly such a life force. She’s got this amazing creative energy. She’s a great entrepreneur, and I thought, “My God, you’re only 33.” Also, she talks about how we’re all honoring Vionnet here. It’s not [Goga's] personal line. Vionnet is such an establishment. It’s got an undisputable heritage, so I thought it might be an exciting thing to do.

Vionnet was a revolutionary in the twenties and thirties, and her work has been inspiring designers for almost a century now. Is it intimidating to design clothes that bear her name?
No, because it’s not old Vionnet. This is a modern interpretation of Vionnet, and the whole idea is to keep her name going. I don’t think there’s pressure because we’re not trying to replicate what she did. We’re trying to work through her spirit. We live in different times. I’d like to think that she’d be pleased with it. It shouldn’t be seen as intimidating. I like to be positive about it rather than to think, “Oh, my God, how am I going to manage?”

In the last decade, several heritage houses have been revived to varying degrees of success. As a designer with a distinct point of view, what do you think it takes to respectfully work for and thrive at a heritage brand?
The whole idea is to look at what Vionnet would have done if she were living in this place and time. We are genuinely looking at the principles and the worldview that Vionnet had, and thinking about how that could be interpreted for now. There are already parallels in my work because of my interest in graphicism and sculptural forms and their relationship to the body. But it’s about honoring the brand. It’s not about my brand. It’s a different kind of responsibility from doing your own thing. The whole project is surrounded by a big sense of responsibility to do the right thing, and to respect Vionnet. Of course, my name will be associated with it, but honestly, it’s an honorary project.

While haute couture can soar into the six-figure price range, demi-couture sticks at a still daunting—but more accessible—five figures. Why is that? And can you speak to the difference between the two practices?
It has nothing to do with the nature or the preciousness of the garments. It’s to do with the number of fittings that the client gets. The fittings are what really raise the cost, so we will do one fitting only, as opposed to ten fittings.

What is the relevance of couture today, whether it be demi-couture or haute couture? How do you think it fits into the fashion landscape in this economic climate?
Goga is the director of Vionnet, and its owner, but she’s also a couture customer. So one thing she was saying is that you spend endless amounts of money on the fittings, and that’s why she wants to do demi-couture. In this economic landscape, it’s a very good way of looking at couture—you are still offering highly refined garments, but customers are saving on the costs because of the reduced number of fittings. That’s quite a good move on her part. Continue Reading “Hussein Chalayan on His “Unobvious,” “Intelligent-Sexy” Vision for Vionnet” »

Hussein Chalayan Takes the Reins at Vionnet Demi-Couture

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Hussein ChalayanIt’s going to be an exciting couture season this January, full of fresh perspectives from old favorites. As we’re sure you’ve heard, Marco Zanini will present his debut collection for the revived house of Schiaparelli on January 20, and today, we’ve learned that conceptual fashion provocateur, Hussein Chalayan, has been tapped by the storied house of Vionnet to design its demi-couture collection, which was launched in Spring ’13. Chalayan will unveil his first outing for the brand in Paris on January 21. Goga Ashkenazi, Vionnet’s chairman and creative director who acquired the label in 2012 after a tumultuous round of designer switch-ups, told WWD she was “extremely happy about this collaboration,” and added that Chalayan is “a true artist, very conceptual, he thinks out of the box and has a strong architectural approach. He represents what Madeleine Vionnet represented in her era.” We have to admit, we’re excited to see what kind of cerebral kick that Chalayan—the man who, over the last twenty years, has been responsible for everything from the original bubble dress, to LED frocks, to conical wooden skirts—might bring to the house.

Photos: Marcus Tondo/ Indigitalimages.com

At Milan’s Salone del Mobile, Furniture Fit for a Medusa

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Next week’s Salone del Mobile, the annual Milanese furniture fair, will include plenty of Italian labels, as usual. Marni is releasing the latest of its colorful chairs, as well as hosting a workshop with the Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, where visitors can create “Abi-tante,” which the label describes as “small objects in the form of humanoids/robots made out of industrial waste.” Vionnet’s Goga Ashkenazi has blessed a variety of Italian designers with her patronage, and they’ve responded in kind with pieces like Nacho Carbonell’s chandelier inspired by the Maison.

But the festival queen may be Donatella Versace, who takes the occasion of the fair to show off Versace Home’s latest OTT wares. This year, she teamed up with the young L.A.-based Haas Brothers (their other brother, Lukas, is a sometime actor and rocker), who have already contributed one-off pieces to Mario Testino shoots and been commissioned by Peter Marino. For Versace, they created pieces like the Honeycomb club chair and the demurely named Bondage bench (above). “The process is very important to us,” Nikolai and Simon Haas told style.com. “It starts with a spark of inspiration and then becomes a tangible form. Donatella was the spark, and this furniture collection is our interpretation of the legend and the house of Versace.”

The spark herself had this to say: “I love the new iconic pieces the Haas Brothers have created for Versace Home. They have captured the essence of Versace today, with pieces that are grounded in tradition while also looking fearlessly to the future. It’s amazing how they have taken elements from Versace’s fashion DNA and remixed them to make pieces for the home that are fresh and new. I enjoyed working with the Haas Brothers so much, they also created some special graphic animal prints for my recent Fall 2013 womenswear show.”

Keep reading for a special video teaser of the collaboration coming together >

Continue Reading “At Milan’s Salone del Mobile, Furniture Fit for a Medusa” »

Art and Fashion Meet in Milan

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Vionnet’s Goga Ashkenazi and W‘s Stefano Tonchi hosted an opening party in Milan last night for Thayaht: Between Art and Fashion. Ashkenazi recently acquired a collection of illustrations Thayaht made of dresses designed by Madeleine Vionnet between 1919 and 1925. Famous for inventing the bias cut, the French couturier never sketched; rather, she draped all of her pieces on eighty-centimeter mannequins. Originally hired to design the house’s logo, Thayaht, an Italian futurist artist and industrial designer, born Ernesto Michahelles (he liked the palindromic qualities of his nom de paint brush, apparently), became her collaborator and documentarian. “There’s nothing more graceful than seeing the garment float freely on the body,” Vionnet once said. Thayaht’s drawings would seem to confirm that; some of the dresses look startlingly modern, despite being made nearly a century ago. Among the sixty sketches in the collection, a few include the name of the client for whom the dress was made. “They put the idea of body types in perspective, because the drawings were about the client, not about the idealized woman,” Tonchi told Style.com. “One of Vionnet’s big revelations was to eliminate the waistline,” he added. There’s some debate about who, exactly, freed women from the corset—Poiret, Chanel, or Vionnet—but Ashkenazi has her answer. “Vionnet—she made us all comfortable.”

Thayaht: Between Art and Fashion is open at Milan’s Museo Poldi Pezzoli until February 25.

Photo: Courtesy Photo