• Del Core Debuts Fall 2021 Collection at Milan Fashion Week – WWD

    A new star is born? The much anticipated debut runway show of Daniel Del Core didn’t leave guests disappointed. The designer, who at Gucci worked with Alessandro Michele on the creation of dramatic, intricate looks for A-list celebrities, including Lana Del Ray and Björk, showcased a multifaceted, well-executed collection. While it opened with some serious sartorial rigor, enriched with a sensual touch, the show offered a crescendo of fashion excitement, culminating in extravagant couture dresses, a rarity at Milan Fashion Week.

    The look: As Del Core learned from his latest boss, Michele, portraying personalities rather than defining a specific look is a winning formula in today’s world. The designer channeled a certain empowering 1990s minimalism with the opening tailoring looks and apron minidresses closed with bows on the sides. The eclectic collection moved toward eccentricity with gowns cut in a variety of silhouettes and embellished with precious decorations.

    Quote of note: “I really have to thank Alessandro Michele for helping me open my mind and [who] stimulated my creative vision, letting me free to have fun and experiment,” Del Core said. The designer also explained that “this collection is deeply influenced by not only my professional background, but also by my personal passions, including nature that is a huge source of inspiration for me.”

    Standout pieces: Sartorial suits worn with chic lace bras; power coats cut in sculptural silhouettes; jacquard spaghetti dresses worn with coordinated maxi duster coats; kimono-inspired maxi frocks with fringes, as well as an array of couture designs, showing crystals, floral appliqués and organic-inspired draping.

    Takeaway: At only 32, Del Core presented an imaginative, risky, sometimes provocative collection that telegraphed a message of positivity for the future of Italian fashion.

  • Six Emerging Designers at Milan Fashion Week – WWD

    With Milan Fashion Week kicking off today, WWD met some of the promising names on the city’s fashion scene. While most of them cut their teeth at prestigious houses, including Gucci, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and Givenchy, they’re now all ready to make their own mark on the global fashion map.

    DEL CORE 

    Daniel Del Core

    Daniel Del Core 
    Courtesy of Del Core

    Probably the most anticipated debut of Milan Fashion Week, Daniel Del Core, former special projects and VIP designer at Gucci, will unveil the first collection for his namesake brand with a physical show today at Cittadella degli Archivi del Comune di Milano, a location in the northern area of the city where all the municipality’s official documents are stored.

    Del Core established his women’s wear brand, with support from an anonymous private investor, in December 2019. Raised in a small village in Germany’s Black Forest, the designer moved to Italy as a teenager for a cultural exchange and then settled in the country, where he studied fashion and graphic design.

    Prior to joining Gucci in Rome, where he collaborated with creative director Alessandro Michele on the creation of a series of spectacular looks donned by stars including Björk and Lana Del Rey, Del Core worked for a range of other houses, including Dolce & Gabbana and Versace in Milan, and Zuhair Murad between Paris and Beirut.

    As he revealed during an exclusive interview with WWD last December, the designer aims to present two collections a year, transcending the idea of seasonality and including a mix of ready-to-wear and couture looks, identified by different labels.

    During an interview a few days ahead of his debut show, Del Core said “the starting point for my first collection was nature and the organic realm. My inspiration came from the morphing and the mutations that take place in the plant kingdom.”

    A look from Del Core Fall 2021 collection

    A look from Del Core fall 2021 collection. 
    Courtesy of Del Core

    According to the designer, a study of different personalities will be central. “I like the idea of glamour and conceiving each dress for a specific personality. Every woman leads her own life,” he said.

    Silhouette wise, the designer said he kept that sleek and sculptural, and that it will be counterbalanced by the richness of fabrics and decorations. “Much research and thought went into the materials, including our jacquard and fil coupé. And I also put emphasis on the embroideries, applications, intarsia and 3D techniques.”

    Tailoring will stand out with sharp and graphic suits worn over lace underwear garments, as well as jumpsuits, including one crafted from a fabric showing a corrosion print.

    “Working on eveningwear gave way to multiple interpretations of nature’s hidden beauty,” added the designer. “From an allover embroidered dress to a gown designed in different weights of jacquard to create both sculptural and fluid effects around the body.”

    The collection will be completed by a range of accessories, such as shoes, including a pair of feathered sandals, bags, and jewelry pieces, such as gold chokers. — Alessandra Turra

    CHB

    CHB's designer Christian Boaro.

    CHB’s designer Christian Boaro. 
    Courtesy of CHB.

    For anyone familiar with the Milan creative scene, Christian Boaro is not a new name.

    With previous experience in-house at Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, MSGM and Gianfranco Ferrè, fashion remains Boaro’s first love, but he’s also explored different areas, training his camera on a series of Polaroids for an exhibition called “The Naked Truth” in which he explored today’s youth movement: Vocal, creative, gender-bending.

    A multifaceted talent, throughout his 15-year career Boaro has dreamed of establishing his namesake brand but found one reason or another to delay it, until late last year when he launched his CHB fashion brand imbued with sensual femininity and a glamorous take on contemporary fashion.

    “I’ve worked for different established fashion brands and I was always dedicated and absorbed but at a certain point I felt the need to have something of my own. After my mum passed away, I suddenly realized how uncertain and volatile life is and did not want to waste a minute more,” Boaro explained — his eyes moist — during an interview at his home-turned-atelier in central Milan.

    After his debut collection last October unveiled via Instagram images and a look book release, he is set to present his first full lineup on Feb. 28 during Milan Fashion Week.

    “This collection builds on the first one launched last year and which served as a manifesto for everything the brand is about: seasonless, genderless fashion,” the designer said. “They are both concepts that are dear to me and really ingrained in my professional and personal story. They are less of a trend and more values that I strongly believe in.”

    Blending references that nod to traditional tropes of men’s wear and old-school feminine glamour, he designed gender-bending pieces that more often than not can be worn by women and men. “I think that since the metrosexual aesthetics came to the fore [in the ‘90s] men have started to fine-tune their taste and women have been embracing a mannish style,” he noted.

    The collection is filled with desirable pieces, from lace-trimmed slipdresses to lace tank tops — one featuring attached gloves; black tuxedos; a wet-look vinyl trench, and a silk duchesse duster coat in butter yellow lined with cotton, an example of the high and low approach the designer is charting.

    A look from the CHB RTW fall 2021 collection.

    A look from the CHB fall 2021 collection. 
    Courtesy of CHB.

    Boaro said the collection is rooted in minimalism but without looking stiff or out of date. “I don’t think a designer can really innovate anymore, and you would probably find references to the history of fashion in my collection, however you can always offer something new by presenting the clothes in a contemporary way,” he explained.

    To wit, he cast a circle of close friends to appear in his look book images, including model Marie Sophie Wilson, a Peter Lindbergh favorite. “I don’t want to build a tribe of fans and followers, but rather a community that shares my vision,” he said.

    Currently self-financed, Boaro is looking for a distribution partner and working on setting up his own e-commerce. — Martino Carrera

    FLAPPER

    Flapper's Geneviève Xhaët.

    Flapper’s Geneviève Xhaët. 
    Courtesy of Flapper.

    Geneviève Xhaët has been charming her customers with her surrealist take on headgear since 2013, finding inspiration in everything from artist Dora Mar to the mountains and ‘20s glamour. Now she’s ready to expand her brand’s offering.

    Whereas many creatives were feeling pressured by confinement, Xhaët decamped to Sicily and found time to let her creativity express itself. For her Flapper brand’s fall 2021 collection she is introducing a knitwear capsule collection that is radical in its minimalist approach.

    After years working alongside knitwear guru Pierangelo D’Agostin and for Malo and Dhrumor, Xhaët wanted to leave her own mark on the category and build on the interest her headwear has generated.

    “My goal was to provide women with a Flapper uniform, complementing hats with a ready-to-wear capsule,” Xhaët said. “It is really in tune with my hat collection and because of its minimalist approach it can also be easily thrown into the mix of a boutique’s offering,” she noted.

    Inspired by the uniforms of ‘70s professional skiers (the designer herself had a gig as a professional skier), the knitted pieces span from bras to floor-length, body-hugging dresses, tactile sweaters and soft pants, reminiscent of retro-tinged ski suits but way more comfortable. Adding her characteristic off-kilter touch, Xhaët translated the geometric details on the ski suits worn by the likes of Maria Rosa “Ninna” Quario, Anne Marie Pröll and Rosi Mittermaier into intarsia decorations on her fall pieces.

    A look from the Flapper fall 2021 knitwear capsule collection.

    A look from the Flapper fall 2021 knitwear capsule collection. 
    Courtesy of Flapper.

    Xhaët largely employed cashmere and a ladder proof blend of polyurethane and elastane, nodding to the sportswear, high-performance trend in fashion. “Both yarns captured my attention because they are long-lasting and can stand the test of time, and there’s also a sustainable bent to them,” the designer explained, adding that the capsule is intended to be worn throughout the year. For her headwear creations she has already used a range of eco-friendly materials, including Econyl’s regenerated nylon.

    While the designer is not planning to make a full foray into clothing, she said retailers have given the thumbs up to her knitwear offering, setting the foundation for a further expansion of the category, which retails between 200 euros for bras and 700 euros for cashmere dresses. — M.C.

    ALESSANDRO VIGILANTE

    Alessandro Vigilante.

    Alessandro Vigilante. 
    Courtesy of Alessandro Vigilante

    For Alessandro Vigilante, presenting his namesake brand as part of the Milan Fashion Week official schedule is “a surprise, a gift and an opportunity” as he described the occasion as a “channel through which I can communicate my personal stylistic vision.”

    He first gave it a try in 2007 when, after graduating in fashion design at IED Moda Lab in Milan, he won the My Own Show contest promoted by the school and the late Vogue Italia’s editor in chief Franca Sozzani, which gave him access and visibility during the fashion event.

    But Vigilante opted to return to the starting blocks and cut his teeth at different fashion houses, piling up experiences and different skills over time. After spending seven years at Dolce & Gabbana, particularly overseeing eveningwear and embroideries, he moved to Gucci to manage special projects. There, he worked under Alessandro Michele, a designer “I admire a lot not only for his powerful and personal creative vision but also for his ability in catalyzing everybody’s attention and curiosity on the brand in such a short time, completely revolutionizing the label,” said Vigilante.

    After working with Lorenzo Serafini on Philosophy from 2015 to 2019, Vigilante eventually decided to focus on developing his brand, through which he investigates the duality between femininity and masculinity via a minimal aesthetic.

    In particular, his exploration of the human body and its movements is rooted in his long-time fascination for modern dance, a discipline he practiced in the past and that became a constant source of inspiration during his career as a designer.

    For fall 2021, he looked at Pina Bausch and Merce Cunningham. Of the former, he praised the inclusive approach and the exaltation of humanity and imperfection in her work, while he revisited her personal style filling the collection with oversize tailoring.

    Cunningham’s innovative cross-pollination of dance and technology and his penchant for technical perfection inspired Vigilante’s rigorous shapes and the contrasts in fabrics, as traditional wool, jersey and silk georgette are combined with neoprene and vegan latex in the range. In particular, sartorial jackets and coats, which often reveal sensual cut-outs on the back, are styled with wide pants, as well as high-wasted leggings and bike shorts. Feminine frocks with deep slits and leotards with seducing transparencies and geometric cuts contribute to the body-hugging silhouettes that counterbalance the generous proportions of tailored pieces.

    A look from the Alessandro Vigilante fall 2021 collection.

    A look from the Alessandro Vigilante fall 2021 collection. 
    Courtesy of Alessandro Vigilante

    The enhancement of the human body is also the main theme of the video the brand produced to introduce the collection. Directed by Attilio Cusani, the short movie has a voyeuristic approach in portraying a woman as she observes and studies her body while alone in her apartment.

    “I would like to make women feel self-confident both when they wear my masculine suits and ultra-feminine dresses,” said Vigilante, whose ultimate goal is to “create an authentic and personal aesthetic, [one that is] sensitive and receptive of the world we live in, and to convey it in a way that is precise, recognizable, unique and courageous.” — Sandra Salibian

    IINDACO

    Iindaco's co-founders Domitilla Rapisardi and Pamela Costantini.

    Iindaco’s cofounders Domitilla Rapisardi and Pamela Costantini. 
    Courtesy of Iindaco

    Take two women, blend their shared passion for shoes with their commitment to sustainability, add a generous amount of Italian craftsmanship and spice everything up with symbolism: luxury footwear label Iindaco will be served.

    Named after the indigo color that marks the transition from day to night — a nod to the brand’s mission to dress women throughout the day — Iindaco is the venture of friends Pamela Costantini and Domitilla Rapisardi, who met in 2014 when both worked at Roberto Cavalli.

    After Costantini’s stint at Givenchy in Paris and Rapisardi’s experience in a consulting firm working for brands including Emilio Pucci and Max Mara, as well as at Tod’s, in 2018 the two women ended one of their usual chats over the phone with the idea of establishing their own brand as an answer to a stalling industry in terms of environmental sustainability.

    “For Iindaco, new luxury is responsibility,” said Costantini. “This is why Iindaco is committed to creating 360-degree sustainable collections: from the design to the realization, from the materials to the distribution.”

    In particular, the brand, which made its official debut last year, sources excess fabrics and leather leftovers throughout Italy’s warehouses and stockists, diverting and reusing scrap materials in their creative process while reducing waste. Recycled and recyclable ABS heels, regenerated leather insoles, and certified linings in biodegradable leather are also deployed in the manufacturing of the shoes, while the founders are additionally eyeing scraps from fish markets, such as eel and salmon skins, as the next ground for experimentation.

    In terms of aesthetic, Costantini and Rapisardi are influenced by the ’90s in their work and find “beauty and femininity in the seduction of the girl next door, a clean face, and naturalness.” This approach informs the essential silhouettes and no-fuss attitude of their offering, in which flat and midi-heeled styles play a big role.

    Inspired by rationalist architecture, the fall 2021 collection comprises just one, four-inch heeled pump named Pegaso and the three-inch heeled Circe d’Orsay sling-back shoe, both featuring squared toes. The range includes the Persephone sandal and Ade mule with midi heels covered in crystals; the masculine Adone loafer embellished with the brand’s logo clamp on the front, and the Argo lace-up boot — a standout style, especially when crafted from Iindaco’s signature moiré silk and rendered in colors like mustard, red or emerald green, in addition to black.

    Iindaco's Argo lace-up boot.

    Iindaco’s Argo lace-up boot. 
    Courtesy of Iindaco

    All styles are also available in calfskin, often studded with rhinestones, while other details include splits on heels and soles winking to the two “Ls” in the brand’s name. The double use of the vowel nods to the two founders and forms the number 11, which recalls the month of November when they were both born.

    Debuting on Milan Fashion Week’s official schedule, Iindaco will present the fall collection through a virtual showroom filled with photos, videos and details on the assortment intended to approach buyers in “a clean and direct way.”

    Retailing at prices ranging from 390 euros to 690 euros, the brand is available at Rinascente in Milan, LuisaViaRoma in Florence and Bloomingdale’s in Dubai and Kuwait, as well as at its own online store.

    “In the future we would like to expand our product range and have the opportunity to open the first physical stores [continuing] to collaborate with retailers through exclusive capsule collections,” concluded Rapisardi. — S.S.

    YALI

    Pia Zanardi.

    Pia Zanardi 
    Courtesy of Yali

    Longevity is something that Pia Zanardi cares very much about. Probably because she loves to wear her grandfather’s shirts and her grandmother’s dresses.

    Born and raised in Italy, Zanardi lived for two years in China, where she studied Mandarin, and during that period she fell in love with the country’s craftsmanship and textile heritage. Aiming to combine Chinese garment culture with a color and aesthetic sensibility rooted in her Italian origins, when after college she moved to New York, she decided to establish her own brand, Yali.

    Zanardi started her entrepreneurial adventure in a space in SoHo, where she conceived a jacket, available in a short and long version, that immediately echoes the Chinese tradition but infused with a modern appeal.

    “I basically launched the brand because I was getting very good feedback from the people around me, who started asking me to make one of the jackets I was wearing,” Zanardi explained. “I basically started with door-to-door selling and that’s how the Yali community was established and grew.”

    Employing at the beginning exclusively high-end Chinese textiles, including raw silk from Suzhou and Nankeen linen, Zanardi has slowly and steadily enlarged the collection, which now includes also Made In Italy styles, such as refined silk pajama sets. “I call them the ‘Everyday Tuxedo’ because you can wear it to go to work and you don’t need to change to meet friends for drinks and then for dinner,” explained Zanardi.

    Along with silk wrap dresses, Yali’s fall 2021 collection also offers a range of cotton quilted jackets and pants, which are filled with a silk padding. “I didn’t want to use goose feathers, so I opted for silk, which has incredible natural thermo-regulatory properties,” said the designer, who also introduced cute little bags.

    A piece from Yali Fall 2021 collection

    A piece from Yali fall 2021 collection. 
    A piece from Yali Fall 2021 collection

    Colors and textures play a key role in the development of the collection. “When I was a child I suffered from dyslexia and they treated me with textile and color therapy,” Zanardi said “That really helped me a lot and especially showed me the importance that colors have in the development of memories.”

    For fall, Zanardi mainly focused on a palette of colors inspired by the nature surrounding her family’s countryside house close to Parma, in the Emilia-Romagna region. Warm tones of brown are juxtaposed with emerald and pine green, rust, terra-cotta, as well as baby pink and fuchsia.

    Yali collections, retailing from 500 euros to 900 euros, are available at the brand’s online store, as well as at a select network of stores located across Europe and the U.S., including LuisaViaRoma in Florence, Tea Rose in Milan, as well as Just One Eye in Los Angeles, and Aerin in the Hamptons, to cite a few. — A.T.

    Read more on WWD:

    Milan Fashion Week Official Schedule Released

    The Men Behind the Camera: 3 Rising Film Directors at Milan Fashion Week

  • Megan Thee Stallion and Maroon 5 to team up on single ‘Beautiful Mistakes’ next week

    Megan Thee Stallion will team up with Maroon 5 to release the collaborative single ‘Beautiful Mistakes’ on March 3.

    Both artists confirmed the single’s title and release date today (February 22), sharing its cover art to social media. It will be their first time linking up in the recording studio.

    Maroon 5 have dropped hints about a forthcoming release throughout February. Most recently, they posted a photo of a car to Instagram which alluded to a joint single.

    The band also tweeted a possible lyric from the track on February 17, alongside a zoomed-in image of what appears to be the same car.

    Little else is known about the track, with neither artist having shared any audio snippets of it at time of writing.

    Megan Thee Stallion released her first original track of 2021 earlier this month. ‘I’m A King’, which features Dallas rapper Bobby Sessions, is set to appear on the soundtrack for the forthcoming film Coming 2 America.

    To celebrate her 26th birthday on February 15, Megan released ‘Southside Forever Freestyle’, a track in which the rapper declares herself “the hardest in Houston”.

    Prior to her aforementioned releases, Mean Thee Stallion guested on the official remix of Ariana Grande’s track ‘34+35’, alongside Doja Cat. The trio of artists dropped a music video for the remix earlier this month.

    Meanwhile, ’Beautiful Mistakes’ will be Maroon 5’s first release since 2020’s ‘Nobody’s Love’, which featured Popcaan. In January, the band’s frontman, Adam Levine, teamed up with Jason Derulo on the single ‘Lifestyle’.

  • L.A. Designer Kevan Hall Debuts Collection at New York Fashion Week – WWD

    “I got the directing bug, and now I want to do this every season,” Los Angeles designer Kevan Hall said of “Together Again,” the film he made to debut his see now, buy now collection Tuesday on the CFDA’s Runway360 platform.

    Hall, who is best known for his special occasion dresses, sells his namesake collection in New York every season. But it’s been more than a decade, he estimates, since he took part in a runway event — and that was back when he was creative director of Halston.

    “I wanted to show my collection in a lifestyle environment. I feel like the film is how a lot of my clients live, and if they don’t, who doesn’t want to aspire to live like that?” he said of the seven-minute short. The film features a group of girlfriends living it up in a Westlake Village mansion, clinking wine glasses while wearing floral print caftans from his Luxe Leisure collection and hitting a film premiere in ombré tulle gala gowns from his Signature collection.

    Hall admitted to asking his Hollywood-connected family members “for a few notes” during the filmmaking process. (The designer’s brother is film director Vondie Curtis Hall, and his sister-in-law is writer Kasi Lemmons.)

    “l wanted to convey how wonderful it will be to get together again after this time of trauma, loss and heartache,” he said of the project. The collection is available to order on his website and through virtual trunk shows he does from his L.A. studio.

    For Hall, showing on the CFDA’s Runway360 platform this season is a family affair; daughter Asia Hall showed her fashion-tech Neon Cowboys collection of LED-glowing apparel and accessories on Monday.

    “[CFDA President] CaSandra Diggs reached out to me to offer this platform to the Black Design Collective to present their collections and I was really excited about that,” said Hall, who is president of the group formed in 2019 to help Black creatives navigate the fashion industry. “I have been a member of the CFDA for decades and the Runway360 platform is a great way to present your collection virtually. I would have done it anyway, but they gave me the opportunity to also bring other designers along.”

    The BDC x CFDA Runway360 line-up is showcasing the work of 10 U.S.-based designers, including Byron Lars, Epperson, TJ Walker and Carl Jones of Cross Colours.

  • Why John Lennon Called the Beatles’ ‘Eight Days a Week’ ‘Lousy’

    The Beatles’ laid-back “Eight Days a Week” has become one of their signature singles: a widely covered No. 1 hit that even inspired the name of a band documentary. So it’s surprising to learn that John Lennon, the song’s co-writer and lead vocalist, hated it — describing it as “lousy” in a 1980 interview.

    In the beginning, though, it was just another tune — the latest from a Lennon/Paul McCartney song factory that, by 1964, could churn out product with minimal effort. This time, the creative spark came from the titular phrase, which McCartney has most frequently attributed to a chauffeur.

    “John had moved out of London, to the suburbs,” McCartney reflected in the Beatles’ 2000 Anthology book. “I usually drove myself there, but the chauffeur drove me out that day and I said, ‘How’ve you been?’ – ‘Oh, working hard,’ he said, ‘working eight days a week.’ I had never heard anyone use that expression, so when I arrived at John’s house I said, ‘Hey, this fella just said, ‘eight days a week.’ John said, ‘Right — ‘Oooh, I need your love, babe …’ and we wrote it.

    “We were always quick to write. We would write on the spot,” McCartney added. “I would show up, looking for some sort of inspiration; I’d either get it there, with John, or I’d hear someone say something.”

    The duo often worked in that seemingly backward style: name first, song later. “Once you’ve got a good title, if someone says, ‘What’s your new song?’ and you have a title that interests people, you are halfway there,” McCartney noted. “Of course, the song has to be good.”

    The breezy rocker — like much of its corresponding LP, Beatles for Sale — highlights the Beatles’ subtly evolving sound: the hint of twang in George Harrison’s 12-string electric guitar, the somewhat dark harmonies on the bridge, Lennon’s nearly anguished vocal ad-libs, the opening fade-in fanfare.

    Still, arranging “Eight Days a Week” took a bit of in-studio tweaking: As highlighted on the first Anthology compilation, Lennon and McCartney experimented with wordless vocal harmonies and falsetto swoops before settling on their final approach. Lennon later reflected, in an interview documented in Anthology, that the end result was “a bit manufactured.”

    “‘Eight Days A Week’ was the running title for Help! before they came up with ‘Help!’ It was Paul’s effort at getting a single for the movie,” Lennon told interviewer David Sheff in 1980, as documented in the 2000 book All We Are Saying. “That luckily turned to ‘Help!,’ which I wrote, bam! bam!, like that and got the single. ‘Eight Days a Week’ was never a good song. We struggled to record it and struggled to make it into a song. It was his initial effort, but I think we both worked on it. I’m not sure. But it was lousy anyway.”

    Despite Lennon’s disappointment, the public disagreed: After appearing on Beatles for Sale in December 1964, “Eight Days a Week” was issued as a stateside single on Feb. 15, 1965 and became their seventh No. 1 in America. (The song was in good company. The Beatles’ previous chart-toppers in one jaw-dropping, year-long streak: “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “She Loves You “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Love Me Do,” “A Hard Day’s Night” and “I Feel Fine.”)

    It’s no shock, given Lennon’s distaste, that the Beatles never played “Eight Days a Week” live. (They did reportedly mime the track for the U.K. TV series Thank Your Lucky Stars, but the footage is widely thought to be lost.)

    It’s more peculiar that McCartney, ever a crowd-pleaser, took so long to perform it. When he finally broke out the tune during a May 2013 show in Brazil, the crowd response was appropriately deafening.
     

     

    Who Was the Fifth Beatle?

  • Inauguration Fashion Designers Prepare for New York Fashion Week – WWD

    Meeting the moment.

    That’s what the new vanguard of American designers thrust into the fashion spotlight during events surrounding President Joe Biden’s inauguration has been trying to do since their businesses changed overnight on Jan. 20.

    For the diverse group of young talent, the race is on to capitalize on the media attention, satisfy customer demand for even a small piece of their brands, and get ready for the fall 2021 season, which officially starts this week — all while managing the harsh realities of working during a pandemic that has devastated the apparel sector and sidelined many of fashion’s bigger names this New York runway season (Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Marc Jacobs and Tory Burch among them).

    “We got the call from Dr. [Jill] Biden’s team at the end of December, and from then to the Monday before the inauguration when I delivered the dress, we completely dedicated ourselves to making it,” said Markarian designer Alexandra O’Neill, who with her three employees custom made the velvet-trimmed ocean blue coat, dress and mask the first lady wore to the ceremony.

    “I was designing her look and our fall collection simultaneously so there are elements they share.…We have a coat that’s similar but in a toned-down fabric with a skirt. And she had this really beautiful scalloped detail on her dress, and we have some different scalloped details in the collection. I can’t believe it came together so quickly,” she said of the lineup she will present Feb. 14 on IMG’s NYFW.com site.

    Los Angeles designer Sergio Hudson has lost count of the number of his signature belts he’s sold on his website since former First Lady Michelle Obama burned up the internet in his aubergine super hero-sleek suit and belt on Inauguration Day. (He also dressed Vice President Kamala Harris in a black sequin cocktail dress and full-length tuxedo coat for the star-packed “Celebrating America” event that night.)

    “We sold out but people wouldn’t accept it,” he said of the $295 cinchers he’s been making since a 2019 collection that was inspired by 1970s glam. “So we put them up for pre-order — and we needed to, because we don’t have any investment from anyone.”

    “There’s an argument to be made that the inauguration was a fashion week in and of itself,” said IMG’s director of designer relations Noah Kozlowski of the hours Christopher John Rogers, Kerby Jean-Raymond, Gabriela Hearst and other American designers put into creating memorable style moments not only for the president, first lady, vice president and second gentleman, but for their families as well.

    “And we have found creative ways for many designers to still participate even after doing all of that work,” he said of IMG’s weeklong, mostly digital New York Fashion Week event, where on Feb. 16 Hudson will present images of the spring 2021 collection he couldn’t afford to show last year, as a place-holder while he’s finishing fall.

    While the designers’ struggles are familiar to those who understand the less glamorous side of fashion, their varied approaches to growth and to showing during fashion week point to how the industry’s once hard-and-fast rules have changed with the contraction of the media and retail establishments that once determined them.

    “It was great that we could react and put the coat and dress up for preorder on our website immediately — and we did get orders,” designer Jonathan Cohen said of how his pandemic-fueled investment in his website allowed him to immediately offer for sale Biden’s unity purple wrap coat and dress, worn for her arrival in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 19.

    “All the less expensive lifestyle items on the website, like the hand-drawn digital greeting cards, the masks, the up-cycled products made of our fabric remnants, those are selling for people who couldn’t afford the $3,500 coat,” he added, noting average orders have been in the $150 to $200 range.

    Cohen will present his fall 2021 collection to buyers over the next two weeks, but won’t show it to the press or public until May, when his first delivery arrives on his website. “We want to be more fluid in how we present our collections,” said the designer, who has been in business nine years, adding that he will mark fashion week by participating in a Feb. 11 panel discussion about sustainability on the CFDA’s Runway360 digital platform.

    Designers are aware that financial success for those who get tapped to dress the first lady (or vice president, in this historic case) for the inauguration is not a guarantee. Thom Browne, who dressed Obama in 2013, credits her with jump-starting his women’s business, and is now backed by Italian conglomerate Ermenegildo Zegna. But Jason Wu, who designed inauguration night looks for Obama in both 2009 and 2013, wasn’t able to sustain his luxury business, which he closed in 2019 to focus on his lower price label.

    At the time, he said he regretted investing in expensive runway shows early in his career, advice more designers seem to be heeding as the focus shifts from impressing gatekeepers to engaging more directly with customers — and ensuring they can buy what they see when they see it.

    WWD visited with O’Neill and Cohen in New York, and Hudson in L.A., to see how they are basking in and building on their time in the inauguration spotlight.

    Markarian designer Alexandra O'Neill in one of her looks.

    Markarian designer Alexandra O’Neill in one of her looks. 
    Lexie Moreland/WWD

    MARKARIAN

    For O’Neill, dressing the first lady as well as Natalie, 16, and Finnegan Biden, 21, was a multigenerational goldmine for her thee-year-old feminine, whimsical and wearable brand, which is all made-to-order.

    “I still kind of can’t believe it. We almost doubled our social media following, had a huge surge of interest on our website and from retailers,” she said. “The ocean blue masks, we’ve sold quite a few. There was also a surge of interest in the Biden girls’ dresses because they were already available and it was possible to purchase those.” (Markarian gained 30,000 social media followers and mask sales increased 115 percent.)

    Coming off the big event, and going into fall, it was a challenge to get everything ready. But quarantine did offer some inspiration. “I looked to Ovid’s ‘Metamorphosis,’ which I started rereading a couple months ago. I thought it was relevant because of the changes we are going through personally and across the globe,” she said. “Ovid was making the point that through art and creation you can find salvation or an outlet. That for me was especially true. I found solace creating this collection through all the chaos.”

    That will translate to a bit of classical Roman romance, with draped pieces contrasted with more structured column silhouettes, as well as plenty of gold jewelry and jeweled hair picks.

    First Lady Jill Biden and President Joe Biden President Joe Biden exit the Inauguration Day ceremony of President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris held at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

    First Lady Jill Biden, wearing Markarian, and President Joe Biden exit the Inauguration Day ceremony. 
    Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA(Sipa via AP Images)

    “Even if things change, people have been trained to dress for comfort. So I have our more fantastical bejeweled pieces — one velvet dress is completely Swarovski crystal-encrusted with floral fireworks and dangling chains — mixed with fancy PJs and things people can incorporate into an at-home lifestyle,” she said, adding that her bestselling piece, carried over from season to season, is a corset dress.

    O’Neill is self-funded, and business is “not going as badly as it could be,” she said, laughing. “We were well positioned going into the pandemic luckily, and the fact we make everything to order, and everything in New York has been incredibly helpful.”

    All of her wholesale is cut to order, too — but that business has been difficult. “We do have retailers who have been supportive and great to work with, but it’s taken a huge hit,” she said, singling out Moda Operandi and Bergdorf Goodman as loyal partners.

    To broaden her direct-to-consumer offerings during the pandemic, she launched jewelry, a category she will be continuing. O’Neill is also interested in shoes and fragrance.

    A silver lining has been her bridal business, so much so that this year she is dropping pre-collections altogether and launching a separate bridal collection instead. “That’s been carrying us through. A lot of girls had to change their wedding plans so they are looking for dresses more befitting a backyard ceremony, or civil ceremony or at-home Zoom wedding,” she said, explaining that she’s been taking private appointments at her studio (one a day) or video calls with clients.

    While New York fashion has historically been defined by sportswear giants, O’Neill believes this could be the dawn of a new day, when smaller labels, made locally, are as much a part of the character.

    “Fashion is changing so much — for the better. People are trying to find more sustainable options; it’s becoming more inclusive and a kinder environment, so that’s something to be hopeful and positive about,” she said, adding, “Success for me really is a happy client.”

    Designer Sergio Hudson and one of his looks

    Designer Sergio Hudson and one of his looks. 
    Michael Buckner/WWD

    SERGIO HUDSON

    “This is the little closet I have worked in for two years,” Hudson said of his storage space-turned-studio in Boyle Heights, east of downtown L.A., crammed with rolls of fabric, bins of trim, a sewing machine and a dress form made to Beyoncé’s exact measurements. (Fun tidbit: He used the same one to fit Harris’ tuxedo look.)

    “The reality is, I’m an up-and-coming designer and we work in spaces like this,” said Hudson, who started his Made in L.A. label in 2014, had his first show in New York in February 2020, and has seen success dressing Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, Amy Poehler and more in his modern body-conscious gowns and sportswear, despite not yet being stocked by any major retailers.

    “One of the tricks is you find fabric that looks like it doesn’t stretch but it does, and make sure it has some weight to it. It gives you what Spanx would,” said the admirer of Azzedine Alaïa, Thierry Mugler and Gianni Versace. “I also use heavier weight lining that stretches as well to slim the body. And then you always bring attention to the waist, which is why I love a belt.”

    Hudson had already made clothes for Obama before his inauguration triumph. “Meredith Koop, her stylist, started following me on Instagram, so I DM’d her and said I would love to dress Mrs. Obama. Not a month later she was reaching out to me,” he said of the relationship. “She is really underrated as a stylist because Mrs. Obama, she likes to look nice but it’s not her number-one priority, but Meredith crafted a style for her. It’s her work and Michelle’s confidence. Even during the inauguration, it was how she carried herself that sold it.”

    Former U.S. President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama at the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol.

    Former U.S. President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, wearing Sergio Hudson, at the inauguration of President Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol. 
    Win McNamee/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

    Working with Harris’ team for the evening look, he used his signature suiting and tailoring in a different way. “The bad part about it was it was an inauguration gown to the floor and an opera coat of bridal satin. Then the insurrection happened, and it didn’t feel right for the moment, so we made the tuxedo coat to go over the dress, which they cut into a cocktail length,” he said.

    The looks epitomize his brand of glam, he said. “What I did for Mrs. Obama and the VP is me; it’s what I do, so it wasn’t really a step outside my norm. Michelle’s look was direct from my collection. The dress the VP wore under that coat was my sequin signature dress. I’m an American sportswear designer, it’s what I do.”

    Since January, Hudson has been getting so many e-commerce orders, he moved his fulfillment to his business partner’s apartment. Soon he will be leaving the “little closet” in Boyle Heights for a studio on Spring Street in L.A.’s Fashion District.

    “We dress celebrities all the time, when you’re an L.A.-based designer that’s the norm because it’s easy for them to get to us,” he said. “But this…it was a change overnight. I’m still in awe. The people you admire forever reach out and ask to have a meeting. It’s been different. It’s nice to be noticed.”

    The first two days after the inauguration, Hudson was stuck in an Airbnb in Atlanta, where he was shooting his spring collection to release next week. “I was doing nothing but press, I didn’t even order anything to eat because it was only me, and you can’t tell ‘Good Morning America’ ‘Hold on, let me get my food!’”

    Being recognized was a lift after being forced to scale back during the back half of 2020, when he decided to sell a basics collection on his website, including his signature black pencil skirts, sequin dresses and belts.

    “We are doing a full-out fall, which I was already doing, but now the pressure is on,” he said of the collection he plans to show in March.

    Hudson is interested in speaking to financial investors, but cautious. “You need that financial push, you need the assurance for retailers you have financing behind you so that if they send you an order, you won’t go out of business,” he said. “But I have a mentor in the industry, Joseph Altuzarra, who told me don’t take anything before you need it. And I want to make sure I stick to his advice because he has been a jewel to me.” The two were connected through the Harlem Fashion Row’s Icon 360 Fund, and Hudson ended up being one of 17 recipients of the $1 million grant awarded in September.

    “I’m a hard-working guy, and my team is, too, so we grind it out. I feel like when you hear everyday about people going out of business in fashion, I can’t imagine it. Most designers don’t know the craft of making clothing. I could never go out of business because even if I have to downsize to me, I can still put out a collection.”

    Hudson’s dreams are big, and could even involve a move to New York if the time was right. “My goal is to have a legacy brand like Ralph, Donna and Calvin, to be one of those juggernauts not just because I want to be rich and famous, but because I want to be a beacon for my people,” he said, naming handbags, shoes and jewelry as categories he’d like to go into, in addition to home, which he launched early this year with Nefertiti embroidered pillows and PJs. “At least in America, the industry is opening up and realizing we have to be more inclusive.”

    Jonathan Cohen and one of his looks

    Designer Jonathan Cohen and the purple unity coat he designed for First Lady Jill Biden. 
    Lexie Moreland/WWD

    JONATHAN COHEN

    For Cohen, a Mexican American designer whose parents emigrated from Mexico City to Southern California before he was born, being part of the Biden inauguration festivities hit close to home.

    “I wasn’t expecting how much it would mean to the Mexican community. Just hearing them talk on the news about it there, my family was texting me about it. From the get go, Mexico felt embraced again,” he said of how Jill Biden’s choice to support his brand resonated beyond him. “It is already going to help business relationships with American companies.”

    The first image the first lady posted on her official FLOTUS Instagram account was of Cohen’s unity purple look. “It reminded me why I got into fashion, not just because I love the craft, but it can really send a powerful message,” he said.

    Originally from San Diego, Cohen started his business in New York nine years ago, and like most has had to pivot during the pandemic.

    “When we started, we were in my apartment — and now we’re back in it,” he said, laughing. “We had a studio, then in June, we said let’s save every penny.”

    Peloton moved aside, and the first lady’s ensemble on a dress form in front of him, Cohen has been working on a table made from upcycled boat siding, which is appropriate for a designer who has made sustainability a priority. “Our remnants really saved us this year. We didn’t have to produce any textiles, we just used what we had,” he said, explaining that for the fall collection, he even sourced some deadstock from his friends at Carolina Herrera.

    The fall collection will have nods to the Biden ensemble, because Cohen was designing it when he shared sketches with the first lady’s team.

    President-elect Joe Biden's wife Jill Biden stands with Hunter Biden and Melissa Cohen, as they attend an event at the Major Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III National Guard/Reserve Center.

    First Lady Jill Biden with Hunter Biden and Melissa Cohen, as they attend an event at the Major Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III National Guard/Reserve Center. 
    AP Photo/Evan Vucci

    “Originally, purple was in my mind for the collection anyway because of everything going on and I was thinking of suffragettes and what purple means,” he said. “That wrap coat, we had done blazers like it that had gotten good attention, and I thought we should naturally evolve into a coat. After the first lady wore it, we thought we should also offer it in other fabrics and that it could become a great signature.”

    Last year, he began investing in and growing his website, opening a “flower shop” with hand-drawn bouquets he made himself to buy and send as digital cards, as well as other more affordable items, including fabric brooches and masks, which sold briskly after the inauguration.

    “It was great practice for when our whole ready-to-wear collection is on our e-commerce platform and how we sell these expensive pieces to people we haven’t met,” he said of the inauguration hustle. “It’s been good for sales, but also from top to bottom.”

    He’s encouraged by Biden’s agenda — on Mexico, on climate change, on bringing manufacturing back. “It was nice to see an administration not just talk about these things but promote them. They can wear whatever they want, but to support young talent.…I hope these conversations continue, and people understand these fashion brands are businesses, run by real people.”

    As for how he sees the landscape of New York fashion changing, he said, “We are learning we don’t have to be these juggernauts right away, and can take time to focus on our businesses and look at them realistically and where they are at. We have been in business nine years, and I don’t know how I would have handled this before now. We have gone through a lot and were able to be leveled and practical with the moment,” he said.

    He wants to continue the slow-and-steady approach, even in the midst of the newfound attention. “We’re not thinking now we have to go open a store and go back to doing runways — we won’t be shifting our business model,” Cohen said. “What we have realized is we are telling our story. We are not stuck in anyone else’s right or wrong. Fashion moves quickly, you can’t get wrapped up in what it was.”

    Read more:

    Moore From L.A.: Biden Era Marks the Arrival of Symbolic Fashion

    Fashion At The Forefront of Biden Inauguration

    Inaugural Fashion Sets a Course for the Future

  • Stockholm Fashion Week to Add Daily Live Shopping Program – WWD

    BUY THE WAY: As fashion weeks around the globe are increasingly adapting to virtual shows and presentations instead of in-person ones, Stockholm Fashion Week is adding a new twist to boost spending. Running from Tuesday through Thursday, the next edition will feature a daily event, “Watch & Shop.” Made possible with the support of Boozt, an online retailer, the plan is to showcase highlights in an interactive shopping experience within the video broadcast.

    Designers in different cities such as Tommy Hilfiger and Ozwald Boateng have staged buy-now events over the years with mixed reviews. The Swedish version offers a different format.

    Last year, the coronavirus crisis prompted Stockholm Fashion Week to relaunch digitally, thanks to the Swedish Fashion Association and Secretary General Catarina Midby. Through this partnership with Boozt, Midby said the aim is to encourage and develop entrepreneurship and innovation within Sweden’s fashion industry and showcase its technologies to help push boundaries to showcase Swedish brands.

    Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden will kick off the three-day event on Tuesday with a speech about sustainability and diversity in fashion. That will be followed by a seminar series that will address such subjects as the pandemic’s impact on fashion, sustainable design and substantive social media engagement, among other subjects.

    In addition, the Swedish Fashion Association’s partner, the Swedish Textile Initiative for Climate Action, will present its first progress report and what needs to be done for the Swedish apparel and textile industry to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.

    Weekday, Rodebjer, House of Dagmar, Blk Dnm, Stand Studio and ATP Atelier will be among the participants in Stockholm Fashion Week.

    With 2 million active customers, Boozt stands to draw from its own base for the live shopping. The event will have different themes, such as one focused on sustainable fashion that Elle Sweden’s Elian Gothenburg will host. There will also be one about trends that Odalisque Magazine’s Jahwanna Berglund will host with influencer Susan Stjernberger.

    Sustainable fashion also is in the spotlight at Ukrainian Fashion Week, which runs through Monday. It is being billed as “no season.” The “Action: Sustainable Fashion” project was created with support from the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation. The project highlighted the sustainable aspects of the work of such Ukrainian designers as Ksenia Schnaider, Litkovskaya, The Coat by Katya Silchenko and Bevza, among others.

  • Designer Charles de Vilmorin Is a Rising Talent at Paris Couture Week – WWD

    PARIS – Less than a year after launching his brand in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Charles de Vilmorin is preparing to make his debut at Paris Couture Week.

    It was to be his first runway outing, but French authorities have banned physical gatherings for the time being, so the designer will let his colorful monsters run riot in a video, due to be unveiled on Wednesday. Expect lots of hand painting, both on the clothes and on models’ skin.

    “It’s a little frustrating, obviously, especially since it was supposed to be my first fashion show, but I tell myself there will be others,” the 24-year-old said.

    He spent 15 days holed up in Compiègne, the town an hour northeast of Paris where his parents live, painting panels of fabric on the floor of a spacious basement studio. There will be 12 looks in all, including sculptural hourglass dresses with exaggerated breasts, inspired by French artist Niki de Saint Phalle.

    “When I heard that I’d been accepted at Paris Couture Week, I slightly changed my approach to the collection. I wanted to rise to the occasion,” he said. When he launched his brand and website last April, de Vilmorin was living in a tiny attic studio in Paris, which he recently vacated.

    Since graduating from the Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne in 2019, he’d worked mainly with prints, so reconnecting with his paintbrushes was elating. “I missed the manual aspect,” he said.

    While couture may seem an antiquated concept for a Gen-Z designer, de Vilmorin thinks the craft is as relevant as ever. “To me, it’s still a very current idea. I’ve always been very sensitive to French know-how,” said the designer, who dreams of being hired by a French heritage brand.

    “Haute couture has no limits. To me, it’s about experimenting, whether with materials or shapes, so it’s really a form of expression. It’s an artistic endeavor: the clothes are not designed to be sold or to be worn in a very accessible way, and that’s what I like about it,” de Vilmorin added.

    The couture film has allowed him to push even further his exploration of makeup, which he uses to transform models into avatars for the fantastical creatures he draws. “I love the idea that makeup erases the part of a person related to gender, in order to reveal their true self,” he explained.

    In “Repugnantam,” the short film he created as part of last November’s GucciFest digital fashion and film festival, his creations came to life and devoured him. The camera loves the fine-boned designer, whose almond-shaped eyes and floppy fringe give him an ethereal quality, not unlike a young Yves Saint Laurent. 

    Vilmorin likes to work with a group of friends that includes singers, dancers and even a law student. His best friend Anaelle Postollec, who has her own YouTube channel, models for him and oversaw the makeup for the upcoming couture short. 

    It’s kept him grounded through the rollercoaster events of the last few months. Almost immediately after unveiling his debut line of patchwork quilted bomber jackets, de Vilmorin was being celebrated by a fashion industry starved of newness. He followed up in September with a capsule collection of printed pieces.

    “The fact that I was spending a lot of time alone or with close friends really helped to keep my feet on the ground, because everything was happening virtually,” he said. “I know that if there had been physical events, it would have been quite different.”

    To be sure, he plans to remain loyal to his crew. “I know that if one day I get the chance to do a big project, it will be with the same people,” he said. “I want them to contribute to the evolution of the brand, and to grow alongside it.” 

    See also:

    Paris Couture Houses Adopt Remote Working

    Ralph Toledano Discusses the Continued Draw of Paris Couture Week

    Emerging Designer Charles de Vilmorin Has No Time to Waste

  • Mt. Wilson Observatory L.A. Hosts Reese Cooper Paris Fashion Week Show – WWD

    Capturing the essence of California, where the threat of natural disaster is everyday, and the future thinking to mitigate it a chief industry, L.A. designer Reese Cooper brought his men’s and women’s catwalk to the historic Mt. Wilson Observatory.

    The tailoring-meets-outdoor gear head collection stood up to the dramatic indoor-outdoor setting, further elevating 23-year-old Cooper as a sustainably-minded American sportswear designer to watch in both men’s and women’s wear, and a gifted storyteller.

    Located in the San Gabriel Mountains, the observatory has measured the size of the Milky Way and the distance to nearest galaxy neighbor Andromeda among its 116-year achievements.

    But this “chapel of astronomy,” as the executive director described it in the intro to the 17-minute runway film, has been nearly destroyed multiple times, most recently by last fall’s Bobcat Fire, which came within 500 feet, underscoring fashion’s most crucial mission–sustainability–which is at the core of the designer’s collections, made locally in L.A. almost exclusively of dead stock fabrics.

    “Once you see for the first time a mountain that is black, and the sky so orange you can’t go out and do anything, you realize how bad it’s gotten,” Cooper said of the record setting 2020 California wildfire season that burned over 4 million acres and inspired him. “The observatory is such a beautiful place that came so close to being destroyed. To me, it represents a sense of hope.”

    There was a lot to think about seeing aerial views of scorched earth contrasted with stalwart pines and new regrowth, with models in masks, protective-looking functional gear and Cooper’s debut hiking boots, walking around the 100-foot domed enclosure for tools that reach to the cosmos for answers.

    The idea of resilience also resonated in COVID times. (“What happens to the land happens to the people,” was a mantra for the designer.) Questionable though it may have been to produce a show in a global hot spot, Cooper’s team took precautions, including trimming the number of models from 45 to 15, and requiring them–against their wishes–to cover their faces with masks.

    He also had to do a fair amount of campaigning to get the U.S. Forest Service on board to host a fashion show for the first time in the spot, now closed because of the pandemic. Eventually, the chance to draw in a new generation won out. (A selection of buy-now accessible hoodies and Ts available for sale now on Cooper’s website benefit several wildlife organizations, including the National Forest Foundation. “The two show days of the year are when your site has the most traffic and traction and if you don’t have something there to capture that, it feels pointless,” said Cooper.)

    Cooper is demonstrating more maturity as a designer; he introduced tailored coats for the first time, slimmed down the overall silhouette, and perfected the boxy, slightly cropped bomber and hunting jacket shapes that are becoming signatures. Throughout, there were lots of technical straps, storm collars, buckles and utility pockets that outdoor-fashion nerds like to geek out over, but they were measured. A location-specific camo print of abstracted burning embers, and another of Phos-check flame retardant running red through woods, added a collectibility factor.

    Women’s wear is also becoming more developed (his first for spring is hitting stores now). A tailored dove gray wool coat with protective anorak collar, two-way zipper and paracord detailing showed sophistication, while drawcord-waist asymmetrical pleated skirts, wide-leg belt bag attached trousers, utility vests and expanded knitwear offerings (sweaters and scarves spelled out “Forest,” collegiate-style) rounded out the range.

    Even while sticking to his values, Cooper is managing to bring down prices by as much as 30 percent, placing him closer to the contemporary category and opening up a path toward building a more accessible brand like Rag & Bone, for example.

    As for Paris, as much as he misses it, bringing people to a special place close to home via film was almost better, he said. “I have so much more freedom to do what I want–and exposure. Doing a show there are 200 or 300 people in a room, our last show did 200,000 views.”

    Reese Cooper MenÕs Fall 2021

    Reese Cooper Men’s Fall 2021 
    Courtesy of Reese Cooper

    Reese Cooper MenÕs Fall 2021

    Reese Cooper Men’s Fall 2021 
    Courtesy of Reese Cooper

  • Ones to Watch During Paris Men’s Fashion Week Fall 2021 – WWD

    Valette Studio

    Pierre François Valette established his label Valette Studio last year, intent on updating men’s tailoring for the modern dandy. Winning the Saint Laurent Institue Prize in 2019 set the wheels in motion for creating his own label, earning him support from industry veterans, including Bruno Barbier, formerly of Balenciaga.

    “The idea is to work on a suit, but a cool suit, with fluidity, that can be worn all day, that’s accessible,” said Valette.

    For the Saint Laurent prize, the mission was to choose an iconic piece by Yves Saint Laurent from the 1960s, when the designer set down roots on the Left Bank of Paris, and rethink it for current times. Valette drew up a sharp, pin-striped jumpsuit, with no sleeves, a striking piece that serves as the starting point for the brand’s offer of precise tailoring meant to be worn with ease.

    The designer began his studies in law, but knew early on that he wanted to move on to a creative field.

    Quoting a French saying, which declares that law can lead you anywhere — as long as you leave it — Valette began mulling the idea of fashion or interior decorating his first year in law school. But he finished his degree before switching to fashion school — following his father’s advice of carrying a project through to the end, even if you end up changing direction afterward.

    His mother also provided support, giving him her sewing machine and admitting her interest in fashion. She became a doctor instead.

    “My mother supported me a lot — she would say, ‘I have two daughters and a son, and I gave my sewing machine to my son,’” he recalled.

    “It’s true, people say fashion is fast-moving, you’re always doing something, redoing it, doing it better, doing it differently — I like this about it,” said Valette.

    The law studies helped prepare him, he noted.

    “And I don’t regret having done this track, which taught me organization skills, rigor, the ability to work fast,” he said.

    Classical music training while he was growing up also gave him a background that would help his fashion career. As a youth, he studied at a conservatory — playing various instruments including the accordion and violin, and performing in concerts each week, as well as taking part in an opera production of the “Magic Flute” directed by artist William Kentridge.

    “I did a lot of staging and I think this is what drew me to the world of theater and costumes — fashion may be commercial, but it’s also, fortunately, artistic,” he noted.

    While studying fashion, an internship at the studios of Isabel Marant sealed his interest in pursuing the field.

    “Isabel Marant convinced me definitively that this is what I wanted to do,” he recalled.

    His education in fashion was then rounded out by a stint at Saint Laurent, where he joined the tailoring studio and as part of the brand’s institute, learned all aspects of the business, from suppliers, embroidery and merchandising. — Mimosa Spencer

    BassCoutur

    A look from the BassCoutur collection. 
    Courtesy of BassCoutur

    BassCoutur

    Fashion brands are scrambling to find ways to push into upcycling, recycling and making use of deadstock, but here’s a brand founded on the principle of breathing life into existing fabrics. Riad Trabelsi started out in vintage — ferreting out pieces for himself, then friends, and eventually setting up a stand in a flea market. Then he reworked the clothing, and his prototypes drew praise.

    “At the core of it, it was about wanting to be fashionable, in an economical way, and you can find cool things, and for me, there was also a personal side — like a lab for discovery, ” he said.

    “Little by little, things came together, it was really accidental,” added Trabelsi.

    Now the label is presenting its fourth collection.

    “For three seasons now we have been trying to do something cool, not too pretentious, current and in phase with our lives,” said Trabelsi. “For the moment it’s going pretty well.”

    French, with North African origins — his father is from Tunisia and his mother is from Algeria — Trabelsi has sought to mix French and Tunisian influences. He sources materials in Tunisia, and describes treasure troves of fabrics he has found in sprawling factories there.

    “You go somewhere to buy old velvet and you end up with tons of leather,” he laughed, explaining that stocks from Europe end up being sold in Africa, which gave him the idea of setting up the brand.

    “I thought there’s got to be something to do with this,” said Trabelsi.

    “In general, I don’t really have a period of influence, or a movement — I like army clothing, I like English tailoring, I like Italian tailoring, I’m passionate about masculine shoulders,” he said.

    Collections are fashioned according to what’s available — patching together old silk scarves to make new pieces, buyers didn’t understand that each item would be unique, he explained.

    “Buyers are still a little afraid of it — this is the only sticking point. But things are going pretty well,” added Trabelsi. — Mimosa Spencer

    Kidill designer Hiroaki Sueyasu.

    Kidill designer Hiroaki Sueyasu. 
    Courtesy

    Kidill

    A self-taught designer, Hiroaki Sueyasu launched Kidill in 2014 to express his admiration for punk music and the grunge cultures he encountered in the 1990s. The brand will be making its Paris Fashion Week official schedule debut this evening with its fall 2021 collection.

    Trained as a hairdresser in Japan, Sueyasu started learning about fashion as a hobby after he moved to London in 2002. The first item he made was a pair of denim pants remade from Levi’s.

    “I bought clothes at secondhand shops and disassembled them by hand, sewing embroidery and stuffed animal accessory parts,” he said. His designs were first carried by London concept store The Pineal Eye.

    The brand made its fashion week debut in Tokyo in 2014 and opened its flagship Kidill Room in Tokyo’s trendy Shibuya neighborhood. He later received the Tokyo New Designer Fashion Grand Prix in 2017.

    His approach to fashion resembles that of graphic artists from the punk age. The brand has collaborated with artists such as Public Image Limited, Sheila Rock, The Damned, Siouxsie Sioux, Peter Murphy, Jamie Reid and Winston Smith.

    “Punk is not only a fashion style, but also a way of life and way of thinking, and as a mentality, I want to be a punk,” Sueyasu said.

    For the new collection, Sueyasu collaborated with American visual artist Jesse Draxler on a textile graphic. “He is the artist that expresses the darkness by different methods such as painting and collage. I was completely fascinated by the beauty of jet black that he created,” he added.

    The brand also invited Japanese musician Keiji Haino, “the dark wizard of avant-garde rock” according to NPR, to perform during the filming, which took place last week in Tokyo.

    “His way of life is punk, and he pursues his own style without compromise and practices it at a high level. He is also a very romantic man. Without being bound by the category of noise music, I was fascinated by his style that always incorporates new elements,” Sueyasu said. “Music and fashion are different genres, but I believe there is definitely a spiritual connection.”

    Stocked at Dover Street Market in five locations worldwide, I.T., Ssense, Tom Greyhound, H.Lorenzo and Air Moscow, the brand also collaborated with Edwin and Dickie’s for the fall collection. — Tianwei Zhang