Think Chinese foot binding died out with the Qing Dynasty? Think again! According to a report in The New York Times, well-to-do women are seeking out plastic surgery so their tootsies can painlessly slip into high-fashion kicks by the likes of Christian Louboutin, Nicholas Kirkwood, and Manolo Blahnik. “On the surface, it looked shallow,” offered podiatrist Dr. Ali Sadrieh, who performs a variety of face-lifts for the feet. “But I came to see she needs these shoes to project confidence, they are part of her outside skin. That’s the real world.” I’d have to imagine that his definition of the “real world” is a loose one or, at the very least, exclusive to moneyed locales like Park Avenue and Beverly Hills.
Wouldn’t commissioning custom shoes or, maybe, petitioning designers to make more wearable stilettos be ever-so-slightly less shallow, not to mention less expensive? You could also try my (only mildly less ridiculous) method of choice—foot Pilates—for which I’m frequently, and rightly, laughed at by my friends. Even better, you could just buy Prada, who, thanks to its embrace of wide soles, makes some of the most comfortable skyscrapers on the planet.
My mind is in vacation mode—all I want to think about is summer days at the beach. For my seaside getaways, I like my outfits to be as simple as can be, and oversize cotton pieces are a must. Madewell’s white poncho dress will be in my suitcase for my next trip. Its graphic details make it city-appropriate as well, for those hot days in June. At the moment, summer seems but a dream, but as someone who likes to plan ahead, I’ll be ordering Madewell’s frock this week.
Madewell poncho dress, $138, Buy it now
Virgil Abloh spends a lot of time in the air. One day he’s busy globe-trotting for his full-time gig as Kanye West’s creative director, and the next he’s jetting off to Miami to represent Been Trill with a DJ set at Ultra Music Festival. In recent months, the 33-year-old Chicago native has been squeezing in trips to Milan, where he operates the atelier for his ready-to-wear label, Off-White, which premiered its Spring ’14 men’s range back in December.
Building his new brand is Abloh’s most personal project to date. His solo career as a designer began with his short-lived Pyrex Vision capsule of graphic tees and hoodies that quickly gained a fervent cult underground following. But he’s elevating the streetwear conversation altogether with Off-White, which is being championed by upscale retailers including Colette, Barneys, and Selfridges. The clothes themselves are marked by their worn-in, shabby chic-meets-street appeal, and often tagged with Off-White’s signature diagonal stripes that speak to Abloh’s passion for art and architecture.
Abloh recently conceived one of the sets for pal Sky Ferreira, who is the opening act on Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz tour. His stage scheme involves a grid of intersecting lasers, and Ferreira wears a custom Off-White biker jacket cut from neoprene and embellished with 30,000 black Swarovski crystals. The jacket is also in Ferreira’s new, shoppable music video for “I Blame Myself.”
That one-off Perfecto paved the way for Off-White’s first foray into womenswear for Fall ’14. Its corresponding lookbook, which was shot at the Barcelona Pavilion in Spain (designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who is a perennial source of inspiration for Abloh), debuts here on Style.com. The feminine side of Off-White is less street, more refined, and definitely influenced by the bohemian moodiness of Hedi Slimane with its wide-brimmed hats, fringed wool coats, velvet maxi skirts, and pumps offered, in addition to the now-trademark faded denim and branded biker jackets. During a phone interview over the weekend, Abloh discussed his evolving vision for Off-White, youth culture, his collaboration with Ferreira, and more.
How has launching Off-White allowed you to evolve your point of view?
It’s interesting now having the brand. It’s kind of like an onion, rolling back the layers of what does Off-White mean. And Off-White to me just means “now.” My reference points are: It’s a culture, it’s a lifestyle, it’s kids. It’s, like, same social circle—like, all my friends, I love their personal style. I think the main thing is that Off-White is a sort of attempt to represent youth culture and young lifestyle in the marketplace of established fashion brands. For me, it’s a way to show the world—from my vantage point as a hip-hop kid—that image of fashion. I’ve designed for quite some time. I have a background in architecture, so I’ve always been trying to find an outlet for all these ideas.
What is your womenswear aesthetic?
I just want chic, plus Air Force 1s. My guy friends dress in more of a streetwear manner, and my girlfriends dress in Céline or Saint Laurent. It’s very, like, Chateau Marmont, Café Select, The Mercer [Hotel], to [The] Westway, to 1 Oak, so I just merge all that. The most exciting part for me now is to just lay out this women’s world, and I see it as more of a boyfriend-girlfriend type relationship. The title of the women’s collection this season is “I Only Smoke When I Drink.” It’s a sentence that relates to that girl I imagine wearing the clothes.
Tell me about recently working with Sky Ferreira.
I’ve known Sky maybe for, like, a year and a half or so, just through being friends, kind of being in the same sort of circle of friends and creative kids, trying to make a mark. And it’s very cool—she is such a talented person and such a muse. I was immediately drawn to that. We have tons of similar likes and whatnot, so it all sort of organically happened. It all started, I think, with the stage production for her, and organically that led into a twofold concept where it was like, let’s merge the aesthetic of the stage with a fashion piece that kind of integrates it, kind of making it more 3-D. We both kind of naturally were inspired by Michael Jackson. [laughs] Everyone at some point tries to get out some Michael Jackson dream of their life.
Are you a fan of her music?
Super. I’ve always been a fan of many music genres outside of hip-hop and people’s music that is supremely natural talent, and she is that. Like, her charisma, her stage presence, and her off-stage presence are very intriguing. She symbolizes a lot for her culture, and I think authenticity and rock music is a thing that’s not common, so that’s what makes me a fan of her. Her personality—that’s what draws me to her. And her music, her sound, and what she puts into it is amazing to me.
Going back to the clothing, you referenced Martha Stewart and Montauk as influencing your first menswear collection, which was called “Youth Will Always Win.” Are you keeping that look moving into next season?
[laughs] Yeah, I’m super into that still. That’s a part of my personality, so I’m still on that sort of aesthetic—I’m not ready to move from it so fast. But I have a different theme building for the men’s. It’s all this Baja surf-inspired collection. It’s very coastal still—it’s more like Cali, and it’s called “Moving Still” and it’s about waves. It’s a graphic story, but then it’s also this sort of hippie, poncho-wearing, drug rug interpretation. In order for me to be happy with the season, there has to be a cool name to it. It has to have a theme, but then still the graphic-based aesthetic and prints on clothes.
Have you ever surfed?
I have. It’s kind of one of those things where you try to learn a new hobby. I’m 33, so I like the idea of forcing yourself to learn something completely new.
In general, how do you stay inspired?
The zeitgeist is what inspires me, this sort of collective thought of trends and how they move to different cities—what kids in Paris are talking about or what music they’re listening to. You find similarities in between Ultra and Café Select—the conversations are pretty similar.
What are your ultimate goals for Off-White as a fashion brand?
My goal is to transcend outside of the streetwear and surprise people in a way. I’m very honored to be selling at the stores that I’m at. These are the places that I love, so the goal for me is to intersect with a wider audience and just be a representative of what’s happening in the street but have that square footage in the stores to kind of attract new fashion consumers.
Speaking of, do you ever miss doing Pyrex Vision, or were you just over that?
My whole idea from the beginning was that it was sort of a limited thing—I wasn’t that into repeating and keep making that product. I have this whole obsession with collecting early Raf Simons pieces, and I like that the brand for myself, Pyrex, has a definitive start. I like that people who are fans of that can seek out and find that piece and it’ll feel nostalgic in a way.
So much of your professional career has been about collaborating. How does it feel to express your own vision with Off-White?
That’s mainly why I kind of wanted to start Off-White in this way, because I’ve been very collaborative in my whole design career, so I had to remind myself, like, what’s my own favorite color? That’s kind of where the name came from—just sort of a reminder to myself because it helps me in collaborative projects, too, like, this is my specific opinion without having to compromise it. I can paint a whole world, so to speak, so that’s what Off-White is to me. I’m honored to have a platform to create in. I’m just fulfilling a trend that I see on the street and things—just fulfilling a niche to be a young, credible designer with valid ideas.
Off-White’s Fall ’14 women’s collection ($180 to $2,000) will be available at select retailers including Browns, Colette, Selfridges, and The Webster. For more information, visit off—white.com.
Since opening Très Bien in 2006, brothers Hannes and Simon Hogeman have been helping to lead the direction of style for men all over the world. The Stockholm-based shop has become one of the most influential outlets for streetwear, high fashion, and the tricky intersection between the two. In fact, Très Bien is that intersection.
“It all comes down to our taste,” says Hannes, “which stems from growing up in Sweden with a general interest in fashion, style, and culture. We were brought up in the nineties with Helmut Lang and Ice Cube.”
But the real magic of Très Bien isn’t just taste, it’s a sensibility for how to create juxtapositions that work—how Stussy and Rick Owens can intermingle, or Nike and Tim Coppens, Carhartt and Comme des Garçons. The e-boutique’s selection is as important as the styling decisions. Pairing high and low is not a radical new idea in fashion by any means, but Très Bien has mastered the formula. “When we started out we wanted to do our thing and incorporate all these elements,” says Simon, “mixing high fashion and streetwear with youth culture, art, and music references. It’s more common now, but when we started out ten years ago, only some magazines like i-D represented something similar.” Now they’re going to see how far they can push it.
“We wanted to do our own collection all along,” Hannes says. “But we wanted to create a platform first, our own world with rules and standards distinct from the fashion world at large.” Seen exclusively here on Style.com first and available next week at tres-bien.com, the Spring 2014 collection is an amalgamation of all the things Très Bien has been championing: smart, luxurious, relaxed menswear with distinct design cues that mash up clean lines, bold graphics, and simple styling. The collection will also feature a special collaboration with Common Projects, a canvas with gum-sole Achilles sneaker.
“What it boils down to,” says Hannes, “is we want to express ourselves and what we’re about—the collection is 100 percent Très Bien.”