7 posts tagged "Melitta Baumeister"
On Saturday, after a two-day closure, Dover Street Market New York, Rei Kawakubo’s seven-floor multibrand fashion wonderland open since last December, celebrated its inaugural “new beginning,” with just-arrived Fall ’14 merchandise and fresh shop-in-shops. Melitta Baumeister, whose career was catapulted when Rihanna wore her oversize black biker jacket in Paris back in March, and Hood by Air’s Shayne Oliver are two new additions to the store’s fourth-floor DSM Showroom, which is devoted to emerging designers. They join a roster that includes Craig Green, Jacquemus, Phoebe English, KTZ, 1205, Gosha Rubchinskiy, Proper Gang, Shaun Samson, and Sibling. We checked in with the new recruits and a quartet of the floor’s returning talents to talk about Kawakubo’s lasting influence, their new installations, and the “beautiful chaos” that is DSM.
“The Comme des Garçons campaign collaboration with Cindy Sherman in 1994 stopped me in my tracks. I remember being completely blown away,” Baumeister recalls. “So I’m very happy to be with a group of creators [now] that have a mutual understanding on fashion, to be part of a showroom that believes in the importance of creating new experiences of how fashion can be consumed, in a world of beautiful chaos. To be in an environment where the brand is understood will no doubt give [me] the confidence to go further with bigger dreams.”
HOOD BY AIR (SHAYNE OLIVER)
“Going to the Comme des Garçons flagship for the first time here in New York changed my life, and molded my thought process on creating a fashion brand that is meant for you, and only you,” Oliver remembers. “The shopping experience at Dover Street Market is [likewise] unique and special. I think it really works well with the HBA concept and vibe. We want to make people feel immersed in our world, in the whole experience of the brand. [Our shop-in-shop] is a conversation with our customers outside of the traditional realm of fashion.”
“All the Dover Street Market stores have a totally stand-alone and unique way of working. The amazing and forever-changing interiors make for a dynamic and exciting space and experience,” Green says. “The main idea behind our new Fall ’14 space was to put the highly detailed, hand-painted pieces against the raw quality of untreated wooden structures. We used large hand-painted fabric rugs as hangings to demonstrate what the garments themselves have been cut from.
“DSMNY is different to other stores as it’s not really just a store, it’s a destination and an environmental experience, which heightens, celebrates, and elevates the incredible stock they hold,” English says. “In many ways it’s also a mecca for young creatives justifying and contextualizing the work they’re making; [that's what] the London store was for me when I was studying at Central Saint Martins. We wanted this space to [feel] unexpected, sort of like a surprise or a bit of drama injected into a retail environment. The raw naturalism of the collapsed cliff face against the clothes hanging on the suspended rails—something beautiful and refined in a broken space. I [also] wanted it to represent the dialogue of material, which informs each collection. I worked with art director Philip Cooper. It was about balancing the ethos of how I work creatively with the reality of shopping.”
“The opportunity to completely change the space seasonally allows us to truly represent the season’s ideas and concepts,” Roach says. “Our Fall ’14 space remains minimal with the introduction of new square metal fixtures. We’ve introduced stand-alone, industrial two-arm rails to highlight the collection’s fabrication and construction, which remain fundamental. I would like people to touch and try on the clothes.”
SIBLING (SID BRYAN, JOE BATES, COZETTE MCCREERY)
“DSMNY feels like being in an interactive art space but without any of the pretense,” the Sibling trio says. “It’s been fantastic to see how artists and creatives interpret the Sibling vision each time. We loved collaborating with Uncommon Projects [on the leopard shelving and screen unit], Richard Woods [using the catwalk recolored version of his iconic wood print as wallpaper], and now with artist James Davison. We saw James’ work recently via the journalist Charlie Porter. He’d uploaded a video of James’ window display with moving parts and amazing color. It also felt like he’d had fun doing it. All of which is very much what Sibling is about, so we didn’t think twice about working with him and sent him catwalk pictures and a very relaxed brief. Relaxed because we always like collaborative works to come more from the artist.”
Unfortunately, The Hills‘ opinionated but not terribly enlightened Kristin Cavallari launches her new fashion show, The Fabulist, on E! tonight. This morning, Fashionista tapped into an interesting conversation: What on earth gives celebrities such as Cavallari the gall to knight themselves fashion experts? The story’s headline asked, “Are Celebrities the New Fashion Critics?” Although the article went on to defend reputable, old-school journalists, like Style.com’s own Tim Blanks, it seemed to imply that the public may be inclined to turn to celebrities as their go-to fashion reviewers rather than, well, actual critics.
Celebrities’ fashion thoughts are often (but, of course, not always) molded by their skilled stylists and sponsors. And while Fashionista did not suggest that stars are the educated voice of fashion reason, it did refer to them as fashion critics. This caused me to raise an eyebrow, and it leads us to the question: What is a fashion critic? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe a fashion critic is an informed, hopefully unbiased individual who can discuss a collection’s or garment’s merits and/or downfalls in both a broader fashion context and, more important, a broader cultural context. It takes a certain knowledge base to do that.
During a 2010 interview with Style.com’s editor in chief Dirk Standen, Cathy Horyn noted, “Right now we have a lot of people who are coming at [fashion journalism] from left field, and they can have some really wonderful insights into fashion and they can see it from their generation, which is fantastic…But then there’s also just the question of the knowledge about it, the span of time, so you can make judgments and conclusions that reflect the sense of history.” I hardly think that Kerry Washington can do that while judging Project Runway. Kelly Osbourne certainly doesn’t do it on Fashion Police, and even the savvy Rihanna doesn’t bring that kind of expertise to the table on her show, Styled to Rock. Celebrities’ commentary about the sartorial coups or disasters we see on the red carpet or reality TV are indeed entertaining, but criticism isn’t merely about cutting takedowns and gushing praise—it’s about the bigger picture.
“Traditional criticism set standards, so traditional critics wielded enormous amounts of power,” Tim Blanks once told me. “But the role of fashion criticism now is to express an opinion as lucidly, as graphically, and as entertainingly as you can.”
Stars are undoubtedly fashion influencers—just look at how Rihanna’s choice to wear Melitta Baumeister and Hyein Seo in Paris raised the up-and-comers’ profiles. But critics? Hardly. Now, I’m not saying that celebrity, or general, opinions are invalid or unimportant. I’m just saying that they’re not criticism. There is room for all sorts of musings—and all are welcome. The viewpoints of celebrities, consumers, style obsessives, critics, and beyond all work together to create a narrative, however, looking back thirty years from now, Cavallari’s comment during E!’s Oscars preshow that “Lupita has been killing it this season” won’t really tell us anything.
Will the general public gravitate toward celebrities rather than journalists for criticism? Sure, they’ll tune in to TV shows and celeb Twitter accounts to be amused (it is funny watching Joan Rivers rip apart red-carpet looks), but if they want the facts, they’ll come to the critics. As Vanessa Friedman told me in an interview last week, “There will always be a need for some sort of analysis and an informed opinion, and despite all the white noise and opinions we see on social media, people still want real information and facts.” I have to believe that this hunger for knowledge isn’t in spite of fashion’s increasing presence and importance in popular and celebrity culture, it’s because of it.
We need to be careful how we throw around the phrase “fashion critic.” Let’s not do to it what fashion writing has done to “iconic” or “chic”—that is to say, make it meaningless. Because what critics write does have meaning, and purpose, and I’d like to keep it that way.
Instagram has dubbed Paris fashion week #PaRih. Why? Because while trotting from one show to the next, the pop sensation has completely stolen the style spotlight. That sophisticated gray look she wore to Lanvin? That sheer fishnet number she rocked post-Balmain? The cherry red fur she donned at Dior? We’ll go so far as to say she’s been flawless through and through. Team Style.com’s favorite outfit, however, was the one she sported to Comme des Garçons. It was a mash-up of wares by three emerging talents: Adam Selman (her River Island co-designer), Melitta Baumeister, and Hyein Seo. The latter two were featured in the VFiles Made Fashion show in February, and Riri’s choice to wear Baumeister’s oversize pleather jacket and Seo’s faux-fur “Fear” stole will no doubt help catapult these up-and-comers to stardom. “I think it was our best look of the week,” Rihanna’s stylist, Mel Ottenberg, told Style.com. “Melitta’s coat was one of the greatest coats of the season, even if a lot of people haven’t heard of her yet. That whole collection blew my mind. And Hyein Seo; I was flipping through Style.com, showed Rihanna pictures, and she loved it. She was totally amazed and wanted to wear the fur with a look from Adam [Selman]‘s collection.”
Naturally, the designers are over the moon about bad gal Riri scooping up their Fall ’14 styles. “It’s a reassurance that you’re doing something that people are reacting to,” said Baumeister, who has also dressed Lady Gaga. “And Rihanna is such a great star to wear it. It really proves that the collection is relevant to what’s going on right now.”
VFiles founder and CEO Julie Anne Quay shared Baumeister’s excitement—after all, she helped select Baumeister and Seo for the fashion platform’s Fall runway romp. “Rihanna wearing those designers shows that she believes in the next generation and the future of fashion,” Quay said. “And the fact that she would go to a Comme des Garçons show in that, where everyone around her is wearing Comme or Chanel, I mean, that’s a statement.”
When asked if that statement was intentional, Ottenberg offered, “When there’s a great moment to chose something unknown, it makes us really happy for the designer. It’s fun to do something that not everybody else is doing. Comme des Garçons is a huge supporter of young talent, and it felt right. It was one of those chances to do whatever we wanted.”
As for the future plans of Riri’s rising stars, Selman is storming the fashion sphere after his breakout sophomore presentation last month; Seo is wrapping up her master’s degree at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp; and Baumeister is aiming to hold her debut solo show next New York fashion week. “I hope it will be possible. I’m just going to have to make it happen somehow,” said the Parsons M.A. fashion grad. We have a feeling that she’ll persevere.