Jun Takahashi waxed a bit nostalgic in this collection for Undercover, covering basics with The album covers of Television’s seminal late seventies art punk “Marquee Moon” and “Adventure” albums. The album title in big text over straps and across the bottom of jackets, and a blow up of the album’s images of Tom Verlaine and the band across parkas and tunics or spliced and stitched back together on jeans, is mood board mode: instead of images inspiring design, here the clothes become a sandwich board for images. Takahashi filled out his vision with gingham checks for smock tunics and patchwork blousons, and brown leather jeans. RV
Maison Kitsuné’s “Effortless French” collection began with a stylish Skype chat between a French man and a New Yorker. Presented over the weekend at its house in Paris, the clothes displayed a certain deboanire sixties take on the eternal French man who can wear an exaggerated houndstooth check suit and still look relaxed. Kitsuné took the quiet urban blouson on a colorful trip to Florida in the collection’s abstract palm print and made military look arty, lining a satin flight jacket with an Op Art scatter pattern. The Kitsuné man is still the casual type who rolls up the sleeves and pant legs of his cottton suit to wear with a souvenir T-shirt. But he’s also elegant, even in shorts and a T-shirt. And he’s a bit retro too, in an endearing nerdy way in a mixed gingham check shirt style blouson. RV
Raf Simons turned the tables on the fashion show format—no seats, no runway, no lights—an interesting experience even if the filmy red haze made it difficult to see the clothes. It also precluded the Instagram contingent from celebrating its presence on Twitter. Simons packed the show with new shapes, patterns and colors and that came as jolt after seeing so many classics this season. One has the feeling he’s opening up the realm of possibilities, planting new style seeds that will grow and multiply for seasons to come.
The shoes stood out: Raf Simons for Adidas with punch hole Rs on the sides, light-up mechanisms and stacked, multicolored soles; with a dark suit they might be all one needs. In recent years, fashion media has made it de rigueur to view a designer’s mood board before the show. Simons’ inspirations (Japanese Hokusai seascapes, astronauts, shark sightings, a hemp leaf and an identity photo that might be him as a teenager) were layered portfolio style on the elongated flap backs of jackets and coats like a digital shawl.
Horizontal buttoning and those back flaps looked like sailor uniforms in some sci-fi cartoon dimension. These were shown with secondskin sweaters, some with sleeves covered with Japanese florals like tattoos, topped with two-tone space dye knit vests or mesh T’s. Finally, to show how simple it could all be, Simons created a new uniform: a shirt jacket, patched, I.D. badge style with huge RS reversed logo and photo of that Rafish young man and matching pants. Just the thing for a sailor in digital space. RV
Julien David has a Charlie Brown way with his men’s collections. His Japan/France cool guy dresses sharp, but never obsessively so. You get the idea he’d rather be surfing.
So it figures the surfers at Quiksilver would catch on to this good thing and work a collaboration. Surfers, after all, are the most stylish sportsmen on the planet.
As a jazz band wearing snorkels played behind a shadow screen, David showed ruffled dress shirts and bow ties with shorts. First out were his simple color block nylon parkas worn with the new boardshorts for Quiksilver in “Kamikaze Ghetto Dog,” “Classy Ghetto Dog” and “Ghetto Dogosaurus” print Repreve recycled fabric. But then, his surfers stepped out in cotton seersucker stripes short suits with mini board embroidery, matching hats and bow ties.
David mixed black watch plaids and hot shot stripes. He even tried sweater shorts with matching sweaters before going whole hog surf clown in a tuxedo print on recycled Yulex for a wetsuit worn by Swiss snowboarder Iouri Podladdtchikov, aka I.Pod, and French surf pro Marc Lacomare. RV
Haider Ackermann’s intricately studied, loose layers took inspiration from iconic rocker Keith Richards. The limp, drapey tailoring in dark seersucker, panne velvet varsity jackets, dressing gown coats in silk jacquard and skinny striped T-shirts looked louche and romantic thrown together with his trademark mock negligence. Patent leather pants in the midst of this soft men’s wear tangle were an exciting departure.
Ackermann mixed two pastel shades of matte/satin psychedelic check silk for a tailored jacket and drop crotch trouser mismatched suit that miraculously worked; proof that fashion rules are made to be broken for those who know how to mix. RV
Paris arrives at the end of the men’s fashion calendar, and just because it’s Paris it is considered more creative, subtle and cool than merchy Milan, kooky London and everywhere else. The city also has a fervent rooting section. The same crotchety crowd that counts every faux pas in Milan becomes ecstatic in Paris. They cheer even when the show is late, the idea questionable, or the collection repetitive.
The result of this boost is that designers here take more risks, stick to their guns and act like divas all to the delight of an audience suffering from boredom, lack of focus and fear of missing the next big thing; problems only shock and awe can remedy.
Let’s take a look at two brilliant, diametrically opposed designers, each with extraordinary design liberté, who presented thier spring/summer 2015 collections within hours of each other on the first day of the Paris men’s shows: Christophe Lemaire and Walter Van Beirendonck.
Christophe Lemaire stands out because he does not change, at least not in any overt way. the four patch pocket jacket with matching pants that opened his show was pure, French zen.
Lemaire’s balloon pants cuffed tightly at the ankle were actually quite challenging, but due to ideal proportion, impeccable fabrics and restrained color, they looked effortless.
The short sleeve shirt jacket suit in the collection’s one print, a shadowy beige check cotton, was as easy as pajamas, but could legitimately be worn beyond bed, on the street, or at the beach.
There was a beige, peak lapel double-breasted suit in gabardine cool wool that hinted at the thirties but came off thoroughly modern with white sneakers.
And even a long tunic shirt in poplin with parka in cotton/linen twill escaped the folkwear trap.
Walter Van Beirendonck was equally good; a chameleon with an unmistakable signature. He’s continually injecting new ideas, but they’re entirely him. The more he changes, the more recognizable his style becomes. This season’s “Whambam” line up was bold, celebratory and eccentric.
Ornate, animal kingdom brocades for jackets, patchwork kimono coats, wide, canvas judo trousers and screen sunglasses spiked at the bottom to mimic a cannibal bone through the nose were rare fashion moments. RV
Italy’s Who Is On Next women’s competition isn’t about prize money. The young designer finalists, all with collections made in Italy, are selected by Italian Vogue and Altaroma each year, but they are already in business and usually doing quite well. It was when Italy, a country where the lion’s share of fine fashion is produced, found itself without its own strong younger generation of brands, that this contest was launched. Now in its tenth edition, Who Is On Next has ushered in a slew of new Italian talents including Nicholas Kirkwood, Marco de Vincenzo, Arthur Arbesser and Stella Jean.
Nine 2014 finalists in clothes and accessories have just been announced and they will present shows and compete for Who Is On Next from 12-16 July in Rome during Altaroma. Coming from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, headquartered in France, throughout Italy or elsewhere, they are a picture of fashion’s diversity with one common thread: creativity intrinsically linked to Italy’s excellent artisanal tradition.
Israeli designer Aliza Shalali Daizy, 29, grew up in a village near Tel Aviv, but she opened her atelier in Milan last October where she now lives. Strong combinations of fabrics (mohair, leather and geo patterns) and bold prints combining digital and manual techniques, characterize the F/W 14/15 collection inspired by Daizy’s grandmother.
Marianna Cimini, 29, grew up on the Amalfi coast and after winning several design competitions she “learned the ropes” at Max Mara and Tod’s. She launched her label in Milan in 2012 and centered her look on what she calls “metropolitan graphics,” for clothes that are both easy and sharp. Her F/W14/15 collection is inspired by the end of a love affair, “the time we’re at our most fragile.” The collection is full of powdery pinks to hint at “the nakedness of the soul” and simple shapes caught between work and play.
Elsa Vigilante, 33, and Monica Mignone, 31, based Project149 (the number 149 joins their birthdays) in Cremona, not far from Milan where they work with local resources just beyond the Italian fashion capital. Their S/S 15 collection mixes trompe l’oeil and transparency to make prints “more real” and as a reflection of themselves.
Salvatore Piccione, 28, is a self-described lover of embellishment and so embroidery, kaleidoscopic pattern and jeweled accents are what his collections are made of. Raised in Sicily, he went on to work with Mary Katrantzou where he developed his print skills and Céline where he applied them in a completely different style before he launched his own label. Nature, “the contrast of small geometric elements mixed with natural structure” inspires his Alice in Wonderland vision for women in a mix of dreams and real beauty.
Ukranian Svetlana Taccori, 40, loves knits and has been collecting knit accessories, particularly hats, everywhere she goes. “They’re ethnic, colorful and voluminous and I decided to adapt them to myself because I believe if you want to make something others will like you first must please yourself.” Beginning with hand knit big bonnets which sell at Colette in Paris, Tak.Ori has branched out into coats, sweaters and skirts for a graphic total look in cashmere, mohair and wool.
It was natural that Caterina Zangrando, 30, would end up producing her jewelry in the Veneto. She grew up in Treviso and the region is Italy’s center for hand made jewelry. Inspired by contemporary architecture, her pieces incorporating delicate jeweled screws and bolts, are an intriguing mix of the hard and luxurious, past and present.
The name Corion comes from the latin word Corivm meaning leather, and designer Milica Stankovic has immersed herself in the technique of braided calf leather while working with one of Tuscany’s finest tanneries to come up with new combinations and finishings. Inspired by her grandfather, a former tailor to the King of Serbia, Stankovic worked with Jean Paul Gaultier and Jean-Claude Jitrois before she launched her label. “My grandfather taught me to see beauty in the unexpected, Gaultier taught me to dream and Jitrois opened my eyes to the unbelievable possibilities of leather.”
Giuliana Mancinelli Bonafaccia
After studying architecture, Giuliana Mancinelli Bonafaccia, 35, launched her collection in 2011 in Rome. Today she is inspired by architecture, art and the details of everyday life. Her F/W 14/15 Tie Break collection mixes colored Plexiglas in geometric shapes, brass, red, green and chocolate gold and braided metal cords.
“Most women are modern day Dorothys and Cinderellas. A special pair of shoes makes you feel like a million,” says Jordanian-born Amina Muaddi, 28, who grew up with a passion for everything beautiful under the wing of a mother with great style. After trying on all the shoes in her mother’s closet, Muaddi developed an obsession for footwear. “I have always seen shoes as beautiful pieces of sculpture and there was never a doubt where I would produce mine.” Oscar Tiye is made on the Brenta Riviera, a center of fine Italian shoemaking.
Pitti Uomo 86 will be flashing its sartorial wonders next week (June 17-20) in Florence and among those showing are six new labels competing for this year’s prestigious Who Is On Next menswear prize. They’re under the radar, but red hot and made in Italy.
Jimi Roos: The Embroidered Man
“The beauty of errors,” inspires the Swedish Roos who has trained in the art of embroidery in Florence. Roos operates a bepoke atelier in the city for large scale graphics in wicked inside out embroidery on man’s most humble garment: the simple, cotton T-shirt.
Studiopretzel: Printed Matter
Emiliano Lazlo’s “handmade in Tuscany” Studiopretzel is an Italian sartorial dream with Japanese overtones. Think Roberto Benigni meets Takeshi Kitano at Fiorucci.
Maison Lvchino: Always Dressed
Luca Bellei studied archiecture, but he admits “designing houses didn’t do it for me.” And although he never studied tailoring Bellei began Maison Lvchino by producing blazers to wear everywhere at all times. This is for someone between Fred Astaire and Daft Punk.
T. Lipop: England Goes East
The “less is more” English brand from Tom Lipop and Eser Aydemir, T.L. aims to capture the essence of moden menswear in a subtle blend of East and West.
Mobi: Footwear for Fops
Marco Betti’s Mobi (the name comes from the first and last letters of his first and last names), works with a Florentine shoe factory to produce the most refined shoes with kick ass style
Alberto Premi Design: Jumping Jack Flash
Alberto Premi employs bepoke Italian construction with street style flash for his collection of jazzed up sneakers and dazzling casual shoes.
ACF – Avec Ces Frères is the debut collection from Sam Lambert and Shaka Maidoh of the collective Art Comes First. Dedicated to traveling men with neo-dandy street style, the collection is filled with international guest appearances: hats by Matteo Gioli of Florence’s Super Duper Hats; glasses inspired by Thelonious Monk by Aroun Ducroux of France’s Lunettes de Lotho and shirts and ties by Sebastian Dollinger of Sweden’s Eton.
Coperni, a.k.a. Sebastién Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant, is a new French label in it’s first season competing for the 2014 ANDAM First Collections prize that comes with a grant of 75,000€. “We were dreaming about Nicolas Copernic’s heliocentric model of the universe. Our label is all about the sun and light, everything that is vital to life,” says Vaillant. “We wanted to create an idea of movement in the clothes,” says Meyer.