Stefano Pilati, Random Identities

19.11.2018 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

A few days ago Italian designer Stefano Pilati debuted a collection under his name with a runway show in Montréal. The collection, and label titled Random Identities, is the designer’s first independent venture since he parted ways with Ermenegildo Zegna in 2016.  A few days prior to the collection’s debut, the designer took to the internet to release a photo series of intimate images shot by photographer Luis Rodriguez. These images featured male bodies shot in black and white wearing nothing but black caps and boots from the collection. This was a series of photographs that at first glimpse on a timeline would instantly capture one’s attention, it felt as if Pilati had something to relevant to say, and this was one’s cue to listen carefully.

The fact that the designer chose to debut in Montreal as opposed to one of the European fashion capitals well within his reach enforced that he was not aiming to continue or tell a story of Yves Saint Laurent, Ermenegildo Zegna, or any of the previous houses he was associated with, but instead, this represented the flip of a blank page for a completely different type of fashion story.

“An honest statement is necessary: fashion at high prices no longer means exclusivity. My response is to produce moderately priced clothes — ‘the low’ — and present them in a high fashion context, creating limited edition items which by quality of design will justify the proposal — ‘the high’.’ The collection was menswear oriented and featured several looks of separates combined and styled to create silhouettes which were genderless. Dominated mainly by shades of black and olive green, the designer describes the pieces as forms of protective wear — constructed from twill and nylon  and offers a presence which is both friendly and secure, providing a feeling of power whether during the day or clubbing at night. Following such a powerful debut of the brand, it will be interesting to see what next he has to offer, as one who seems to have a different voice with an interesting perspective and story to back it.

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Antonio Marras SS19: The Fault of The Mistral

26.09.2018 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

Italian designer Antonio Marras dug deep into the unexpected for the inspiration behind his Spring Summer 2019 collection title The Fault of The Mistral.  Arriving to the show a few minutes early, the first familiar attribute was the sound of Nina Simone’s music playing from the outside as the models capped their final rehearsal. As the curtains opened and the audience was let in, what was to be discovered was a series of door jams aligned along the runway with sacks tied atop each one. This show was slightly different from all the others, it carried a message that came across as personal. Marras’ stimuli behind the collection was based on his wife’s recollection of an Ethiopian princess she once met. Princess Romanework, eldest daughter of Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia who was captured during the battle against the Italian army and forced to live on the exile island of Asinara.

The collection embodied a tropical woman dressed in shades of military green gowns, coats and sweaters. Flashes of floral prints, white, beige and lace appear throughout intervals. This was not just clothing being presented at a show, this was a story being told, some models wore headpieces which mimicked flower wreaths and at the end of the show there was a performance. An emotional bevy of men in underwear with shoes tied around their necks, rushing together to salute one another and then ripping the sacks tied atop the door jams, where a flow of sand emptied upon them. This was not just a show, it was a carefully orchestrated re-enactment of poetry. The only note to be taken is that since this was a story of an Ethiopian princess, it would have been ideal for the casting to better reflect that. If making an ode to Ethiopian princesses, go all out, hairstyling and everything. However the designer is definitely one to keep an eye on as he is one who chooses to go a little bit of an extra mile further.

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Marni’s Mattress Recipe

24.09.2018 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

For Marni’s spring summer 2019 collection creative director Francesco Rizzo invited his audience in bed as he presented a collection which celebrated the importance of human touch. Rizzo imagined a designer’s world where the clothing was all handcrafted as opposed to being manufactured, similar to the world of a painter or chef.

The collection glorified the inaccuracy of an artist’s hand in a way which highlighted the creative process. It was about that aha moment in the studio where the fabric is draped on the dress form with pins and tape and the light hits it and the character comes alive. The moment before the finished hems and tightened seams,  or as he said, “a journey from the white of the rough canvas to colour, seasoned with prints and embellishments.”  Vivid splashes of colour were complemented by prints of the human form along with draped skirts, finger painted patterned coats and skirts. Each piece of jewellery was crafted to mimic leaves and miniature versions of the female form. It was just the right balance between artistry and commerciality while still keeping in mind a very playful Marni signature. It might be safe to say the designer at Marni is just the perfect pairing. He has caught his stride on the path of equilibrium for high sales while still withholding the characteristics poetry and craftsmanship.

Marni SS19 seating

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Apparently, God Can’t Destroy Streetwear

24.09.2018 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

Last Saturday evening, creative director  of Milan based label GCDS Giuliano Calza brought forth a show which in fact might have lent truth to the components of the aptly-comprised acronym — God Can’t Destroy Streetwear.  Out of all the shows of the season, this was a gathering of the most diverse group of audience members, that which included fashion editors,  journalists, all types of hardcore streetwear enthusiasts along with a few Italian celebrities . All surrounded by GCDS branded vending machines , accessories and signs , all apart of the inspiration behind the SS19 collection labeled The Futuro Beach.

Upon initial sighting, the first few pieces which strutted took some getting used to. They left a taste in one’s mouth which made you unsure of wether it was a collection to enjoy or one to scrunch your face at in disgust. However upon further analysis, that taste began to simmer and one began to realize that it is nothing but vodka, and that this, was a party.

The designer aimed to give forecast on a new era, one where he says is not only about aliens and plastic material, but quality and craftsmanship. “I wanted to talk to young people and to get them thinking about the future, plastics water shortage and the environment. Full sustainability is impossible and I wanted this show to be a wakeup call.”

Three breasted women in midriff tops, transparent vinyl dresses, highlighter pink hair,  telephone handsets and fruits which hung like jewellery were all ornaments which  complemented a collection of streetwear.  The brand’s collaboration with Pokémon inspired animated sandals, character appliqué which strung a fun cartoonish feel  throughout the collection. Although streetwear might have been rumoured to be dead earlier this year, Giuliano’s ability to put on a show might have just landed him the title of the ringmaster and at his feet sits  quite a roaring audience.

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Stockholm Fashion Week Show and Casting Review

10.09.2018 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

On her subsequent return to Stockholm fashion week, photographer and writer Sarah Jane Barnes set out to review new designers, encounter previously unseen brands, get honest feedback and most importantly shed some light on the choices of casting at one the leading Fashion Weeks of Northern Europe.

Jewellery Designer, Marian Nilsdotter chose to go her own way, communicating her vision through an intergalactic display of electro music and harpist amidst laser lights beside creeping smoke it was matched by a choreography of models that moved like celestial beings. The show ended in a crashing silence that enabled the audience to photograph the models posed as the army of angels they were. Nilsdottor uses jewellery as a medium to depict her universe of surrealist fantasy, with her careful approach to materials, all pieces are artisan produced.  Her work is characterized by symbolic figures using precious metals, stones, and pearls to tell her story. This was the most well-presented show of the season, a true piece of theatre. The casting was inclusive and representative of a diverse Sweden. 

Marian Nilsdotter SS19 

At Lazoschmidl, the Swedish-German menswear brand established models Fillip Roseen & Carl Hjelm Sandqvist led the show. Fillip experiencing well-earned success as the star of Missoni’s current campaign brought a definite international presence to the lineup. Carl a musician who tours as the frontman of rock band Tellaviv proved himself to be a multitasker by not only walking the show but managing the hip soundtrack as D.J in between looks. The collection was a combination of sparkling lurex knitwear and iridescent sequins. This loungewear look brought humour to the table via the added layering of crop tops featuring childlike depictions of teddy bears and monsters. Overall this self-entitled ‘playdate’ collection was clearly Missoni inspired by the patterns alone, the similarity was uncanny. Founded by Josef Lazo and Andreas Schmidl, the brand has a penchant for design that subverts gender norms. Initially creating made to measure garments, they traded via social shopping company Tictail before partnering with American retailer Opening Ceremony. With a target demographic of carefree party boys, they have gained a strong following in the New York club scene. 

Fillip Rosen for Lazoschmidl SS19| Photo by Peter Hakansson

Soft Goat a commercial brand with proven international sales and accessible price point showcased cashmere loungewear styled in a refreshingly non-commercial way. Rich tones of colour supported by attractive shapes were displayed with a cultivated sense of streetwear modus operandi. Using the internet as the only distribution channel the brand is able to keep prices low with quick turnover. Building a brand with a sense of social responsibility they support Project Playground, an organization that works to provide aid to vulnerable young people in South Africa.

Celebrity favourite Jennifer Blom launched her brand in 2010, this season she continued her red carpet style with flawless precision, presenting flowing dresses of pale and hot pink tones, as well as more classic mint and blue shades. With a focus on femininity and glamour alongside her way of reading the female body, she created a stunning collection. The graduate of Sweden’s prestigious Beckmans College of Design practises sustainable production by using Italian and U.K farmed silk as her main material. 

Jennifer Blom ss19 | Photo by Peter Hakansson

Camilla Thulin’s casting choices were both socially aware and politically aligned. With a roster of actresses, personalities and academics including Sara Danius this became a fine display of age equality. A charitable collaboration with Sara, in particular, led to the creation of a limited edition silk blouse. The pattern of which shows a clenched fist symbolizing women’s liberation. This in aid of GAPF, a non-profit women’s charity working against honour-related violence and oppression was modelled by Sara with discernment. In a time when gender issues are debated more than ever, Camilla Thulin remains strong in her feminine expression stating “My goal is for all women, regardless of age or size, to feel strong and beautiful.” Having founded her company in 1992 Camilla is a long-standing name in the industry. She is famously known for having created Malena Ernman’s gown worn at the Eurovision Song Contest at a whopping cost of 400,000 kroner (over €37,000).

Presenting at Fashion Week for the first time, Stylist and Costume Designer Salem Fessahaye was on fine form. This debut show, a family affair with friends both walking and in attendance was almost entirely non-caucasian cast. Her designs maintain an interesting mix of streetwear and couture showcasing asymmetric hems on sublime gowns alongside oversize suiting. These suits similar in design to zoot suits, a style popularised by African Americans in the 1940’s were striking. Her styling pedigree recognized through work with global clients including Adidas, Nike and David Beckham was apparent. The atmosphere was electric throughout resulting in a standing ovation from the full house. Runway photographers unable to capture the elusive finale designer shot accepted defeat, after pleas to audience members blocking the usual line of sight were left unheard. 

Designer Salem Fessahaye

From initial inspection, Ivyrevel appears to be a typical commercial brand, however, attending the show I was delighted to see otherwise. Happening upon a new path under the creative direction of Sebastian Hammarberg, business is on point. Colourful and sexy pieces owned the runway, featuring styling nods to Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums and Studio 54, the show was opened and closed with undeniable finesse by Sapitueu Jeng. Meeting with Sebastian later that day it was clear how ingrained his work ethic is. Overseeing every inch of the show production this season he had left nothing to chance, unafraid of last-minute change. With this true determination for the future, he has the capacity alongside founder Dejan Subosic to lead Ivy Revel to a broader audience beyond the domestic market. 

Ivyrevel SS19 | Photo courtesy of Fashion Week in Stockholm

During my trip, I met two of Sweden’s auspicious modelling talents Anab Mohamed Abdullahi and Sapiteu Jeng both signed to Stockholm’s Mikas Agency. Anab’s family hail from Somalia, whilst Sapiteu’s parents are Gambian. Each maintaining a strong presence across the show lineup this season I was interested to learn of their casting experiences in Sweden and more specifically Stockholm fashion week. Anab although positive diversity was slowly improving was clear to inform me of her previous encounters, “They made us feel it was a competition because they only took one black model per show. After castings during my third season, most of the designers wanted to book me. Later my booker told me they cast another model but not me also because they didn’t want two black models. So, in the end, I only walked one show and I was the only model of colour in it.” Working for Sale Fes this season light was cast upon her hopes for the future “For the first time, I felt like other designers may open their eyes and see there is nothing wrong with many models of colour in the same show.” Sapiteu defining her observations expressed “Right now it feels like everyone is just focused on looking diverse without actually understanding what that really means. Hiring one or a few coloured models doesn’t make your company diverse.  Even though there is still much work to be done by the agencies, casting agents and brands, I can see a change.”

Anab Mohamed Abdullahi for By Malina | Photo courtesy of Fashion Week in Stockholm

I also spoke with Ken Gacamugani who walked for three of this year’s graduates from the Swedish School of Textiles, Helga Lára Halldórsdóttir, Dick International and August Gille. Ken originally from Burundi in East Africa was signed to the Sunrise Agency after been scouted on Instagram earlier this year. Sunrise founded by Beckman College graduate Matilda Dahlgren in 2018 is a street casting agency with the objective to offer a less normative selection to clients through diversity in size and race. Ken explained his findings of casting in Sweden “They always look for the skinny, tall, white models, the blond and blue-eyed, throwing in 5 black models to call it diversity. But Sweden doesn’t look like this anymore. It is 2018, Sweden is a rich multicultural country with generations of immigrants. I feel that these fashion shows and the industry should represent that. There is a whole world of diversity beyond those boundaries we should normalise and appreciate.”

Model Ken Gacamugani

As touched upon by Sapiteu there is more work to be done. With power comes responsibility and the hope those who attain it will make future choices without bias or tokenism.   

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Pure Alchemy

11.10.2011 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

Continuing her collaboration with Diesel Black Gold, Sophia Kokosalaki chose to reflect the label’s name at New York Fashion Week last month, with a collection of blinding metallic and midnight petroleum.

Bringing innovative techniques to everyday wear, Kokosalaki created cracked silver leather trousers and tiny shorts that were produced by photographing mirrors, printing them on foil and fusing them with leather.

While there was plenty of high-tech shine, fresh masculine tailored blazers in pink and cream toned down the glare and oil slick flares had the essence of Diesel’s rock chic DNA. This was a collection made from sophisticated fabrics but rooted in casual cool shapes, while the inclusion of Greek draped dresses had the unmistakeable Kokosalaki signature.

diesel.com

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