104 posts tagged "Yves Saint Laurent"
Following five collaborative capsules with Jean Touitou’s A.P.C., Vanessa Seward is taking things to the next level and launching her own brand with the financial support of A.P.C. She’s already begun working on her first collection, which is set to debut in Paris for the Fall ’15 season, and a series of stand-alone stores are already in the works. Here, Seward, an alum of Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, and, most recently, Azzaro, talks to Style.com about her vision of sensible luxury, why low-waisted jeans are the worst, and what we can expect from her new line.
How did your collaboration with A.P.C. start? Was it kind of an experiment?
It was not even an experiment: Two and a half years ago, it was a one-shot, because [A.P.C. owner Jean Touitou and I] knew each other, we liked each other, and I missed working. So he said, “How about doing a collection with us?” And because I loved the brand, I was really happy to. It was a brand I bought and used and understood, so it was a nice challenge.
Did it come as a relief after doing so much high-fashion?
In a way, because when you’re doing high-end fashion, it becomes very difficult to do casual because it’s always a bit overpriced. And somehow it never looks as good. The couture houses have a wonderful hand for evening dresses, but casual is more complicated. What looks cool is when you combine the two. With the very first [A.P.C.] collection, I did things with couture fabrics combined with jeans and Irish sweaters. That was a relief for me. And I think a couture sensibility with jeans made for a really good fit. They sold out really quickly.
Your catchphrase is “sensible luxury.” Could you define it for us?
Even when a woman earns a good living in France today, luxury is still very inaccessible—and among the more accessible brands, there is a heavy connotation: You’re either boho or rock-chic, etc. It feels like a disguise. In previous generations we consumed less—you bought something a little more expensive that would last for years, and that really speaks to me. Even if they’re not as expensive, clothes are still an investment, and a nice sweater or skirt should last and make you look good without making you look like a fashionista.
What do you keep in mind when shopping? Is there anything you’ve bought lately that you love?
When you buy something, it’s important to be able to see yourself wearing it ten years into the future, and knowing you won’t feel stupid when you look at it in a photo. I don’t like over-designed clothes. I like clothes that are simple, that have a nice fit, that make you look good and don’t have too many details. Your personality is what counts. Then, luxury has to come in the finishings, in the cut, in the color, and material.
What have you bought lately?
I love my new Michel Vivien sandals because they fit with my notion of sensible luxury and they are also timeless. I get an “old Saint Laurent” feel from them. And at the same time, they will not look dated. I could give you a whole list of what I bought at A.P.C. For example, the Victoire jeans from the last collaboration are an homage to my friend Victoire de Castellane. I’ve known Victoire since I was her assistant at Chanel, and she has always been a big inspiration.
Are you doing the muse thing?
Yes and no. Victoire, her sister, and the friends around me are all big inspirations. For me, the danger lies in always designing [for oneself]. The collaboration with A.P.C. is a bit like working with a publisher. I try to design things that appeal to a wide range of women.
Are you—like many of us—relieved to be getting away from low-waisted jeans?
Oh, my God, so happy. There’s nothing more depressing, there’s nothing that makes me feel fatter than low-waisted jeans! There was a whole period when I would just not wear jeans anymore. At every house I worked with, and especially with Mr. Azzaro, I learned a lot about respecting the body. I like things that make you look good without crossing the thin line into overtly sexy.
What’s your take on Parisian style?
It’s about knowing how to balance an effect. Those who grow up in a family culture of sensible luxury will hold on to an Hermès bag they inherited, or an old jacket, and they are good at mixing couture with jeans. If they are going to be really dressed up, they won’t wear much makeup and their hair won’t be too done. That makes it cool.
What can we expect from your debut collection?
I’ve started working on the collection and it’s almost like psychoanalysis. I’m basically reviewing my whole life: I was brought up in London, and my family is Argentine, but they are a bit English, and there’s a lot of Paris, too. Then there’s all the time I spent working at Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, and Azzaro. When I was working with those brands, I was thinking about their codes. Now I am creating my own. Just thinking about what my staples are is really exciting. What we call “affordable luxury” is just about the price; what I am trying to do is broader than that. I want to do something seductive that plays on bon chic, bon genre with a little naughtiness, and I think I can do that in a way that is mine.
“There’s a lot of ugly vintage out there,” said Byronesque founder Gill Linton. “I look at some vintage stores, and I’m like, ‘This is trash. It’s not fashion. There’s no story behind it. And you’re giving it such a bad name.’” You won’t find any of that rubbish on Linton’s website, which she launched in 2012 with the help of Marvin Traub Associates and Theory’s Andrew Rosen. As a die-hard vintage addict (and frequent Byronesque browser), I can personally attest to the fact that Linton only sells the crème de la crème of previously loved designer clothes and that Byronesque is the prime source of authentic vintage—i.e., clothes over twenty years old—on the Web. Byronesque is a veritable vault of lust-worthy vintage wares by the likes of Azzedine Alaïa, Vivienne Westwood, Pierre Cardin, Thierry Mugler, and more. So naturally, when Linton invited me to a private viewing of the latest additions to the site—which will be available to stylists for shoots for the first time—last week, I scurried on over.
Buyers from the Met had beat me to the event and scooped up an original 1920s frock, an authentic 1980s Yohji Yamamoto bustle coat (famously snapped by Nick Knight), a rare white crucifix-embellished Alaïa, and a sculptural black-and-white Issey Miyake gown. “I do love when they go to good homes,” Linton said of the museum’s purchases. The Met’s interest in Linton’s finds is a testament to her well-trained eye and standout merchandise. And despite the museum’s informed acquisitions, there was still much in the collection to gawk at. A custom-made Alexander McQueen three-piece men’s suit (complete with his signature lock of hair), an almost uptown-apropos lemon Galliano frock (“Though you wouldn’t see quite this much fashion tit on the Upper East Side,” laughed Linton), and a 1990s warrior-inspired Comme des Garçons ensemble comprise just a sampling of what’s available. “This is what we call contemporary vintage,” explained Linton. “It’s different from being classic—classic is safe. But it’s relevant and wearable today, and nobody’s going to say you look like an extra in Downton Abbey or an Austin Powers movie.” To wit, one of Linton’s colleagues turned up to the soiree wearing shorts by Rick Owens, which were the spitting image of the vintage Armani “Wigger Shorts” that hung on the rack next to him.
Many of the most covetable pieces, like a serious supermodel-era neon tweed bra, shorts, and jacket by Chanel; the abovementioned Issey Miyake look; a cracked leather McQueen coat; a sea foam tulle Yves Saint Laurent dress; and an iconic leopard-print Alaïa frock, are courtesy of two singular women: model Irina Pantaeva and pop star Cristina Monet. The former was a muse to Miyake, and was actually photographed by Irving Penn wearing the gown purchased by the Met. The latter was a post-punk music maven with a miniature waist and impeccable taste. Their clothes have stories behind them—not only because they were designed by icons, but because of the life these women gave them. And that life, along with the garments’ superior aesthetic and quality, is what Linton is selling. “I really want people to feel excited about these clothes and their past,” Linton told us. After thumbing through this selection, it’s hard not to be.
Byronesque’s latest offering will be available on the website next week, but to reserve your favorite piece ahead of the pack, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Julie de Libran is the new woman at Sonia Rykiel. The French house grew to fame in the seventies for its chic striped knits and little crepe dresses, but successive designers have failed to recapture the gamine charm of its legendary founder, who stepped down several years ago. With her recent experience at Louis Vuitton, where she was studio director of women’s ready-to-wear under Marc Jacobs, not to mention her previous stints at Prada and Versace, De Libran is poised to change that. The Paris-based designer hopped on the phone for an update on the state of the label before settling into the new gig this week. On her mind: Rykiel’s playful, feminine legacy, “desirable clothes,” and why she’s finally ready to be the face of a brand.
Sonia Rykiel is legendary, especially in France. Do you have early memories of the brand?
Absolutely, it talks to me so much. I was born in the seventies, and those were [Rykiel's] stronger years. My mother wore it, and when we moved to America when I was 8, it became one of my French references. Later, my mother gave me a lot of pieces; they’re part of my archive now. I love them: the quality, the techniques of the knits. I have an amazing little crepe shorts suit in black, it’s so stunning. They’re treasured pieces.
What do you feel you can bring to the brand that will help revive it?
When I first met with them and they told me it was for Sonia Rykiel, I literally had goose bumps. She was such an important woman of her time. She started in ’68, a time of revolution in France. She was Saint Germain. The kids in the street, politics, cinema—she was in the middle of all that. I think she had so much to say. I really could react to it, because for me, she was as strong as Saint Laurent was at that time. And Kenzo.
I’ve always been influenced by her work; she’s always been very present in my aesthetic. Her customer is a woman who is quite feminine and playful. You feel that her woman is happy, not too complicated. Rykiel always had a hat or a fox fur gilet, or some marabou, or a funky shoe. There was always a twist to her outfits; it was fun. It’s about desirable clothes, with a twist, of course. Nothing she did was flat, ever.
You succeed Geraldo da Conceicao. Does your being a woman make you better qualified to take up the reins?
It’s more a personal thing. When I was asked, I reacted to it right away. For me, personally, it made a lot of sense. I just have so much I want to do with it. I’m interested in working with the whole universe of Sonia Rykiel, not just the ready-to-wear, but creating a whole story around it, a home collection, a children’s collection. I don’t want to say lifestyle, but it’s a universe. I always like a story. Obviously I do want to go into the archives, but I don’t want to make it literal. It’s so open for me.
What are some of the first things you want to do?
I’ve met some of the family, but I haven’t met Sonia (left) yet. I can’t wait to meet her. That’s the first thing I want to do. Something also very important is to see the archive and get to meet all the teams that are there. I love that I’ll be able to walk in through the store in the morning, to have a closer relationship with the clients. It’s actually the neighborhood where I live, I’m a Saint Germain woman today. After always working for very big companies, I feel like Rykiel is more like a little treasure. I can’t wait to start designing, choosing fabrics, materials, threads. I’m already thinking of September because time goes so fast, and then I hope little by little to get involved with everything.
So, the ateliers are above the store on Saint Germain?
Yes! Everything is there. And I love that idea. Sonia Rykiel’s first shop at Rue Grenelle had a little staircase, and her office was upstairs. She could hear the women coming into the shops, and would listen to their comments from upstairs. She learned so much from the people coming in. Today, you really want to get closer to your clients, because fashion moves so fast. I like the idea of something a little bit more intimate, really designing for those specific women. Of course, I won’t be able to have a relationship with all the clients because at some point I hope it’s a huge success around the world. But I’d like to have a bit more proximity. [It's important] to hear from customers: They have different bodies, different needs, different lives. All designers need a bit more of that. Sometimes we don’t pay enough attention.
When you’re answering to management, to public relations, and so forth, I bet it can be easy to lose track of the shopper.
Yeah, you get a list of the things that you need to fill in. You fill in the box of all the categories you have to do. You don’t get [to address] the real part, [the customers]. I think someone like Alaïa has done it, or Alber Elbaz at Lanvin. I’m not comparing myself to them, but I think it’ll be interesting to get closer to the client.
What’s your directive at Rykiel?
They’re really giving me the possibility to do what I’d like to do, which is wonderful. I hope that we’ll create surprise. My most important thing is to make desirable clothes. It’s a big challenge, but I’m excited about it. The idea is to take the brand to the next step. It used to be important in America, and it’s not as present anymore. My idea is to give it the importance it had in the seventies, that power that she had. People would go to the shop and find their whole wardrobe. I want people to be able to go into the shops now and find those amazing striped knits, the great fitted pants, those great crepe dresses. She had so many references. I want to bring my versions of it—there’s so much potential.
When I moved to New York in the nineties, I went to vintage fairs to look for Sonia Rykiel sweaters.
Yeah, I haven’t bought something from Rykiel in a long time. I don’t want to say it was sleepy, I just want to make it desirable again. It’s not a destination right now, and I’d like to make it one. It’s not like you see it in the magazines, so you forget about it. Which is too bad, because from what I hear, as a brand everybody loves it. Everyone has a bit of a memory of it, like Saint Laurent.
I just found out Sonia Rykiel was at every Saint Laurent show. I think that’s great. I don’t want to say they were rivals. I love that she was supporting him and loved his work, because I feel they shared a similar aesthetic at the time, in the silhouette, the volumes.
At Vuitton, even though you were presenting Resort and Pre-Fall, Marc Jacobs was still the public face of the brand. How does it feel to be the face of a brand now?
To tell you the truth, I’m really ready now. I’m at an age when if I don’t do it, I don’t know when I’ll do it. I don’t think I was ready before. I’ve always loved working on a team. But I’ve done the work, and I really enjoy making the decisions and working with a team, and starting from the beginning and working until the end. I really like choosing the fabrics to draping to designing to deciding the strategy, what model I want to use, the photographer for the ad campaign. I really enjoy every step of the way. I feel ready.
I wrote a little message to Marc to tell him I was joining Sonia Rykiel, and I said to him, “It’s thanks to you that I’m ready.” It’s thanks to Miuccia Prada, it’s thanks to Gianni Versace, to Gianfranco Ferré. I wouldn’t be ready if I hadn’t gone through all of that.
What were the most important things you learned from Marc?
Marc is so into details, and it was so much fun putting on a show with him. He took us to so many places that we never would’ve done on our own. It was like, “Wow, you want that? OK, let’s get it done.” It was extraordinary: the elevators, the hotel doors, the carousel. It was over the top. I hadn’t worked with someone like that. At the same time, he was so kind, so open, so generous.
It must be intense to see a brand like Vuitton continue after you’re gone.
Yeah, you get attached to the people, the projects, to the brand. I was so attached to Miuccia and Bertelli, too—I was there for ten and a half years. You dedicate so much of your time and energy. It’s an incredible business, but it’s also a crazy business. You spend so much time [together], it’s almost like a family. You get attached to your team; I really created a team at Vuitton. But change is good. In fashion you do have to change. The change at Vuitton was good for me, otherwise I wouldn’t be here, and this is my next step.
With his Hugo Boss debut and thriving eponymous line, Jason Wu is having a banner year. So it comes as little surprise that the 31-year-old Taiwanese-Canadian designer is picking up the top honor at Parsons’ 2014 Fashion Benefit, which is set for tomorrow evening. Ahead of the festivities, Wu, who’s both a Parsons alum and—fun fact—a former toy designer, took time away from wrapping his forthcoming Resort collection to speak with Style.com about his secrets to success, New York fashion’s changing landscape, and his obsession with RuPaul.
Congratulations on the Parsons honor. Considering you studied at the school, do you feel you’ve come full circle?
I’ve kind of come full circle because I moved here in 2001 for my first year at Parsons. So it’s nice to go back and be a part of this new generation of the school, which has taught me a lot and done so much for me. It’s a very nice honor and I’m very proud. But I don’t think I’ve made it—at all. I think I’ve hit a nice moment in my career and it feels great to have your peers and people in your industry acknowledge your work. But that’s not to say that there’s not much more work to do.
Between your debut at Hugo Boss, the success of your own line, and now this award, it seems that you’ve really hit your stride this year.
I don’t know. I always think there’s more to do, so I never think I’ve hit my stride. I always want more and want to do more, but certainly I think it’s been a great year so far, having done two shows in New York for the first time, and then getting this award. I guess that comes with age and experience and just doing it for a while. And I guess I’m getting a little better at it.
Do people look at you differently now that you’ve become the big man at Boss?
I don’t know if I’ve knocked it out of the park yet, but I think we had a really successful first show and I guess people look at me a little more like a grown-up, a big person.
Do you feel like a grown-up?
Yeah, I feel a little older. I guess that means grown-up. Definitely achier.
Your Boss show was quite the star-studded event, and Jennifer Lawrence just wore a gown from your Fall collection to the world premiere of X-Men: Days of Future Past. What role does celebrity dressing play in a designer’s success?
Having people you admire wear your clothes in a very public way is inspiring, and it’s also a great way to get your work out there. It’s a great form of advertising. But for me it’s always about quality, not quantity, and it’s about dressing the few girls that I love. I’ve always been very loyal to Diane Kruger, Reese Witherspoon, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Kerry Washington—those are girls I dress over and over and over again. And you really develop a rapport and a friendship and a relationship. It goes back to the days when Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn, and Catherine Deneuve and Yves Saint Laurent, had those relationships that went [beyond commerciality]. Those were true relationships. It’s great to continue that tradition.
Can a young designer make it these days without a celebrity bump?
Everyone does it differently. There are some people who make clothes that are more appropriate for a red carpet and there are some people who don’t. I’m not sure if it’s a do-or-die situation, but you do have to seek exposure in your own way, in a way that’s right for your brand.
How did you come to dress Jennifer Lawrence for her X-Men premiere? Was that a big moment for you?
Yeah. Actually, we just found out [the day before]. I had no idea. I think there’s something so incredibly human about her. That’s why people love her so much—she’s so relatable. She shows a little imperfection—which we all have—and still looks stunning.
You mentioned that people like seeing imperfection in public figures. With that in mind, people seem to like you a lot. What’s your imperfection?
My imperfection is that I’m not as perfect as people seem to think I am. There’s a sense of controlled, sophisticated ideas in my clothes that are quite neat, and I think people sometimes think I’m that, but I’m not.
Are you messy?
I’m actually not messy. I’m terrible at waking up early. I’m terrible at a lot of things. I’m terrible at technology—anything computer-oriented. And I’m terrible at making anything on time, which I’m really working on. Actually, at Parsons, I was always really late, and you can’t be late at Parsons. You really get into trouble.
You, along with Alexander Wang, Prabal Gurung, Joseph Altuzarra, etc., are part of New York’s new guard. How do you think the creative climate here is changing?
Right now, New York fashion week is at its best. We have the most young talent [succeeding] at the same time for the first time in a long, long while, and this is the first time that we’ve really been acknowledged on an international level in a long time. That has to do with the fact that our generation’s outlook is global, rather than local. If you look at Style.com, you can read that anywhere in the world. That certainly helps. Having that kind of recognition all over the world is something that is quite rare. We’re experiencing something of a moment, a movement.
Why is that, do you think?
It is, in so many ways, New York’s time. All [of the young designers] in New York come from different international backgrounds. I think that’s a very nice representation of what New York fashion is about—it’s about diversity; it’s about fresh ideas; it’s about making its own statement, because we don’t have the hundreds of years of history. We’re really still, as a whole, quite new at it.
Do you remember how you felt when you were designing your Parsons graduate collection?
It’s so funny because I went to Parsons and my major was menswear, yet I make the most fit-and-flare dresses you could possibly imagine. I guess after going to the very masculine side, I felt like I was much more comfortable in the very feminine side, and eventually the combination of the two became my work as we know it today.
Why were you initially drawn to menswear?
I always liked the idea of tailoring. I always felt making a jacket was the most difficult thing, and it is still the most difficult. Sometimes the cleanest things with the least amount of details are the most intricate.
What do fashion students need to know that isn’t necessarily taught in school?
It’s that the fashion industry isn’t by-the-books. It’s not about following one specific route, it’s about paving your own way and making it your own. That’s what makes fashion interesting—individual visions—and not one person breaks through in the same way. We all get into it slightly differently—I worked in toys first.
Speaking of toys, I read that back in the day, you did a RuPaul doll?
I worked with RuPaul once! It was a long time ago. We made a RuPaul doll and it was wildly successful and that’s how I met him. Of course, RuPaul’s Drag Race is my favorite show ever. It’s like the best show on television. RuPaul is kind of the ultimate supermodel, and I have an obsession with supermodels.
Does your former life as a toy designer ever inform your fashion designs?
Attention to detail is what links my work as a toy designer and a fashion designer. Most people say I went from dressing toy dolls to real dolls. That’s kind of the press-y version of it. But in actuality, I did everything from designing the sculptural form of the dolls to the industrialization of the molds to the manufacturing. I always knew how to create a really good product, and I think that experience primed me for this industry.
How important has business savvy been to your success?
The balance between creativity and business-savvy is something that every young designer needs to be aware of, because it’s the reality of our industry. Having that balance is something that my generation of New York designers really thinks about.
What is your advice to fashion students who want to be the next Jason Wu?
I don’t know if they do want to be the next Jason Wu! But my advice is seize every opportunity and work hard. It sounds so obvious to say that, but the glamour of the industry can get distracting sometimes, and at the end of the day it’s about the work. I work weekends all the time—there’s no such thing as overtime for me because my own time is overtime. And I don’t have any vacations, so cancel those family plans.
In our new Throwback Thursdays video, Tim Blanks remembers Helmut Lang’s Spring 2005 show, a collection that wound up being the Austrian designer’s last for the label he founded. In the clip, Blanks calls Lang “the master of minimalism—possibly the most influential designer of his time, because what he did was such a clear reaction to what had come before. He changed the way clothes looked. He changed the way shows and models looked.” Now, nearly 10 years later, Lang remains a touchstone for a new generation of designers, who look to develop and interpret his ideas in the same way that a previous generation looked to the work of Yves Saint Laurent.
Watch the Throwback Thursday video with Tim Blanks here.