78 posts tagged "Raf Simons"
New York is gearing up for the start of the 2011 U.S. Open, when tennis fans flock day and night to Flushing to watch the world’s best players face off for glory. The focus is, of course, on the game, but fashion has always taken an interest in the sport too—like a certain editor who’s often spotted fronting Roger Federer’s cheering section. Style and sport meet in the on-court uniforms, and while tennis whites are the classic, there may not be much white in evidence this year. Nike’s athletes, at least, will be in roaring Technicolor. The label is dressing some of the game’s best for their games—including Federer and Rafael Nadal on the men’s field, and Li Na, Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, and Victoria Azarenka on the women’s—and they’ll be kitted out in brights, from deep reds and pinks for Federer, Williams, and Li to deep ocean blues for Azarenka and Nadal. (The latter—the defending Open champ—gets patterns inspired by the elements, too, with a rainy-looking geometric print.) “This season we really wanted to amplify color,” Nike Tennis’ creative director, Janice Lucena, said. And while fashion designers and athletic designers don’t always see eye to eye, in this she’s right in line with the designers, like Tomas Maier at Bottega Veneta, Nicolas Ghesquière at Balenciaga, Raf Simons at Jil Sander, and Giambattista Valli, who showed flashes of ultra-saturated shades on their Fall runways. Nike’s day outfits debut exclusively here on Style.com. Get a good look now, and focus on what’s important this game day—the game.
Top row, left to right: Day outfits for Li Na; Rafael Nadal; and Serena Williams.
Bottom row, left to right: Day outfits for Maria Sharapova; Roger Federer; and Victoria Azarenka.
The three-day celebration of the avant-garde that Raf Simons curated on behalf of Mercedes-Benz in Berlin last weekend could be seen as an ingeniously left-field way for the car company to establish its leadership in what the press release referred to as “automotive culture.” Those words would make me think of drag-racing or custom cars or maybe even Pixar long before I got to the list of cutting-edge musicians and artists that Raf corralled at the Berlin Congress Centre, sheathed for the occasion in a photographic installation by longtime Simons collaborator Peter de Potter. And I’m not sure the so-called Avant/Garde Diaries changed my pre-conception. But it certainly offered an opportunity to get up close and personal with truly special guests like Peter Saville, Paul Morley, Casey Spooner, and Michael Clark. And, Benz connection aside, it would be hard to come up with a better location. Ordnung und Vernichtung (Order and Annihilation), a new exhibition that covers the role of the police during the years of the Nazi terror, inadvertently underscored just how much garde there was to be avant—or après, for that matter—in Berlin.
The leisurely program opened on Friday with These New Puritans, whose first number apparently featured real car engines—although the glorious thunder of George Barnett’s drumming (supplemented for this performance by two additional percussionists) effectively drowned them out—and closed two nights later with the Michael Clark Company dancing to the music of David Bowie. Actually, Fischerspooner were on last, repeating their performance from Saturday, which had to stop when an over-refreshed audience member hurled a bottle that shattered on the stage. (A feature of the spare-no-expense event was the amount of freely flowing alcohol.) But Clark’s tribute to Bowie felt like a more appropriate finale, given that Bowie is not only one of Simons’ influences but also one of Berlin’s most famous adopted sons. The video for “Heroes” was projected behind one of Clark’s pieces, and to see and hear that song within walking distance of the locale that inspired it (“I can remember standing by the Wall”) was an emotional overload for some—well, for me anyway.
Benz’s hero of the hour was the Concept A-Class, which shimmered impressively in a phantom cocoon conjured up by artist Germaine Kruip and lighting wiz Thierry Dreyfus. If it wasn’t the first car launch I’ve ever been to, it was without a doubt the most provoking. And the fact that it was labeled Transmission 1 suggests that automotive culture is going to acquire even finer new shadings.
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.
Here comes Navy—and orange and cerulean, too. Jil Sander Navy, the secondary collection from Raf Simons, previewed back in May and available now in JS stores, debuts its new Web site, JilSanderNavy.com, this afternoon. The site will spotlight the new, David Sims-shot campaign with Valerija Kelava and styled by Beat Bolliger (that’s an exclusive shot from it, left). The photos will run in spring magazine issues separately from the main Jil ads. (Those, incidentally, were shot by Willy Vanderperre, starring Daria Strokous.) A behind-the-scenes video directed by Sims will also screen on the new site. That should whet your appetite for the pieces. It’s convenient, then, that the site will be able to satisfy, too: Selections from the 200-piece collection will be available for purchase online for the very first time. Continue Reading “Jil Sander Navy Heads Online” »