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April 16 2014

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3 posts tagged "The Future of Fashion"

The Future of Fashion, Part Nine: Azzedine Alaïa

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In this ongoing series, Style.com’s editor in chief, Dirk Standen, talks to a number of leading industry figures about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the fashion business.

There was an extra buzz in the front row at the Comme des Garçons show this season. A star was in our midst, and not just some movie actor or singer. Azzedine Alaïa, the great Tunisian-born, Paris-based designer, had come to support his friend, Rei Kawakubo. Fresh off the triumphant collection he showed during Couture in July, the first presentation he had opened up to the world’s cameras in eight years, Alaïa is more than great. He’s unique. He is the only major designer to produce collections on his own timetable, devoting his time to his private clients as well as to a thriving ready-to-wear business. (Richemont is an investor.) A few days after the Comme des Garçons show, I went to Alaïa’s headquarters in the Marais, a sprawling converted warehouse that houses his boutique, his cluttered studio (where the TV is usually tuned to the National Geographic Channel), and his living quarters. The thing that strikes you first is his vitality. He has the most infectious, mischievous giggle in fashion.

[Note: To see the full shoot of Saskia de Brauw, top, modeling Alaïa’s clothes, pick up a copy of Style.com/Print today. Photographed by Kacper Kasprzyk. Styled by Tony Irvine. Hair by Anthony Turner. Makeup by Janeen Witherspoon.]

You are one of the only designers who have managed to work outside the system. What is your secret?
No, it’s not a secret. Today I believe that designers are asked to do too much, too many collections. It’s inconceivable to me that someone creative can have a new idea every two months. Because if I have one new idea in a year, I thank heaven. I pray, I do everything, but God doesn’t always give me ideas. [Laughs.] That’s why I’m always late with the collection.

Is it possible for young designers to follow your example?
I don’t know, to be honest. Because it’s not up to the designers anymore, it’s up to the places that employ them and demand this work from them. In my case, no one demands anything of me. When I decide to do something, I do it. But I make sure it works, too. The proof is that you sell.

Do you think it’s possible to change the system?
I don’t know, but something has to change. There are too many designers who are in a bad state, who are sick, who feel obliged to take drugs. Me, I’m high on life.

Did the stress contribute to the Galliano situation?
Yes, and [Christophe Decarnin at] Balmain. McQueen. There is too much pressure. If it ends up destroying people, it’s not good. A human being is not a machine. Especially when it comes to creating. You wouldn’t ask a painter or a sculptor to do an exhibition every two months… I even think it’s hard for the buyers and the journalists. They have to run from New York to London to Italy, Paris. And when it’s finished, they start again. They can’t spend any time with their families, their children. It’s not good.

It seems very important to you to be independent.
Even if I was in prison, I could be free in my head. I can adapt easily.

Is it true that you were offered the Dior job?
I don’t want to go into that story again. [Laughs..] No, they asked me a while ago, at the same time as Galliano, when he was at Givenchy. They asked me for Dior, but I couldn’t do it.

Do you think you would have been happy working for a big house?
Anything’s possible. Continue Reading “The Future of Fashion, Part Nine: Azzedine Alaïa” »

The Future Of Fashion, Part Four: Olivier Zahm

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As we enter a new decade, the fashion business, like the rest of the world, is encountering significant economic and technological change. In this new series, Style.com’s editor in chief, Dirk Standen, talks to a number of leading industry figures about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Olivier Zahm’s love of women is well documented, not least by Zahm himself on his Web site, www.purple-diary.com. But the French editor and founder of the twice-yearly independent publication Purple Fashion has many other passions: art, fashion, his daily uniform of white or gray jeans and black Yves Saint Laurent leather jacket, parties, freedom. There may be an element of self-promotion behind some of this, but in an increasingly conformist world, Zahm offers an original, entertaining, and astute voice. During our conversation, conducted by phone last month between New York and Paris and somewhat condensed here, he discussed his conviction that magazines will exist as long as fashion exists, his suspicion that the financial crisis was just a pretext to scare people, and his fervent wish that the world in general—and Lindsay Lohan in particular—would stop spending so much money on clothes.

What was the original impulse behind Purple Diary?
[It happened] in a way by accident, because the Purple Diary was just a section of a bigger project I had, and because I started to take pictures every day of parties or pictures of my life, I needed an interesting way to use these pictures and not to let them go into digital archives and disappear. Because now everything disappears. It’s digital, but if you don’t copy your hard drive, pictures disappear after one or two years…So then I had this idea of having a personal diary, an intimate diary, mixing intimacy or privacy with my public life and creating a sort of contrast between what’s really intimate, like sex and love, and what’s really public, a party, a fashion show, an exhibition. What’s meant to be public and what’s meant to be private and make them, like, coexist. It was suddenly exciting because it was, in a way, breaking the barriers of something, which is actually what the medium itself, the Internet itself, does. For celebrities it’s a nightmare, but for me it’s a pleasure. It’s a decision. I would love to go further into intimacy, but my girlfriend and my lovers are sometimes a bit reluctant.

Have any of the reactions to the blog surprised you?
What surprised me is the number of people coming, because I print 60,000 copies of Purple [a season] and I have 100,000 [weekly Web site visitors], more visitors a week on the blog than I have readers in one season with the magazine…I can tell from the discussions I have that people know that I’ve been there, I’ve done this, I’ve seen that exhibition or this film, and then it comes into the discussion and it’s changing my life in a way and my interaction with the girls, with the friends. It hasn’t changed my interaction with the advertisers yet. [Laughs.]

Well, let’s talk about that.
I haven’t found the right way to make a little money off it because I don’t want regular advertising. I think it would be really bad. So I don’t want advertising [of that kind]. I’m looking for a way to involve brands, but I haven’t found it yet and it’s not my priority.

Continue Reading “The Future Of Fashion, Part Four: Olivier Zahm” »

The Future Of Fashion, Part One: Robert Duffy

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As we enter a new decade, the fashion business, like the rest of the world, is encountering significant economic and technological changes. In this new series, Style.com’s editor in chief, Dirk Standen, talks to a number of leading industry figures about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

When I spoke to Robert Duffy, the president of Marc Jacobs, by phone last week, it was 12 days till showtime. “I don’t have one finished sample, one piece of clothing that’s finished, not one,” he said from the label’s Spring Street offices. “I don’t have one shoe or one handbag that’s going to be in the show that’s finished.” He did not, however, sound particularly concerned by this state of affairs. In fact, he sounded cheerful and energized. That unflappability has presumably served Duffy well over the last two and a half decades, as he and Jacobs have gone from being the self-described “rebels” of American fashion to becoming the leaders of a global mega-brand. During our conversation, somewhat condensed here, he talked about his experiences with tweeting and live streaming, the reason a $15 flip-flop could be the future of retail, and why having celebrities at your fashion show is boring.

You’ve just started tweeting. What’s surprised you so far?
What surprised me is how famous Marc is.

Really?
I’m just working with the same person for, it’ll be 26 years in May, so I have absolutely no idea. I mean, sometimes when we walk down the street and stuff, I hear people screaming at him. But I was floored…The best thing about [tweeting] has been listening to what people have to say, and these are real consumers. People were commenting about what they bought and how they long they’d kept it and when and where they’d bought it. That’s really been an eye-opener for me.

Continue Reading “The Future Of Fashion, Part One: Robert Duffy” »