The Magical & Technological World of Couture: Fall 2018

Chanel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of W Magazine)

Chanel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of W Magazine)

Need an escape from a world filled with political unrest, nuclear threats and terrorism? Enter…haute couture. Yeah, we know covering fashion, especially the world of couture, may seem frivolous to many, but couture is about dreaming, escapism and fantasy. Who wouldn’t want to live right now in a world of beautiful handmade gowns while running through a garden in Paris or engaging in a leisurely walk along the Seine?

But the truth is, couture is so much more than fantasy. Costume and fashion history would not be the same without it and let’s face it… couture is the ultimate marketing machine!

We need only look back in time to a publication written between 1751 and 1772 by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert entitled Encyclopédie, ou dictionaire raisonné des sciences, des art et des métiers, to see how this pivotal tome gave instructions to the métiers (trades) in the art of dressmaking, forever placing this trade on equal footing with the arts and sciences of the time.

And of course we owe the ’Father of Couture,’ Englishman Charles Frederick Worth (Paris circa 1856 ), the fashion genius who together with his wife as muse, transformed the world of dressmaking into ‘high fashion’. Over time, the House of Worth, along with other couturières (female) and couturiers (male) were able to take the craft to a whole other level by creating perfumes, shoes, millinery and diffusion lines. These spin-offs planted the seeds which would later become lifestyle branding with lots of marketing hype!

 

Valentino Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of W Magazine)

Valentino Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of W Magazine)

We know that these one-of-a kind haute creations come with a hefty price tag. On average, one couture gown can take over 800 hours to create and cost several hundred thousand dollars. Even couture daywear starts at around $10,000! It’s estimated that there are only approximately 2,000 couture clients, mostly from Russia, China, the United States and the Middle East, with fewer than 300 that buy regularly.

So, do the numbers. With only a handful of steady customers, you got it…haute couture is not a money maker. Couture houses spend millions of dollars twice a year, by selecting exquisite fabrics, hand-sewing each garment, employing top métiers for beading and embroideries and producing larger-than-life runway shows, using A list models, hair and make-up teams. The profits are negligible, amounting to less than ten per cent of gross profits for some houses, though most operate at a loss. However, their true value is in the selling of the house’s fragrance, make-up line and other less-expensive branded items like shoes and handbags.

Draping Technique (Photos courtesy of Pinterest)

Draping Technique (Photos courtesy of Pinterest)

So why do these houses still invest in their haute couture collections, other than pushing their ancillary products? They are selling a dream. Fashion shows attract huge media attention and gain enormous publicity for the couture houses. Think about how many actresses wear couture on the red carpet. These designers are selling a dream of chic cachet, beauty, desirability and exclusiveness, that the ordinary person can ‘buy into.’

Here are some highlights of the Haute Couture Fall 2018 Season:

VALENTINO

Pierpaolo Piccioli has been on a role and his Valentino Couture show closed out Haute Couture Fashion Week in Paris with rave reviews. This season Piccioli offered a brilliant line-up of rich saturated hues and swaggering proportions. According to Vogue.com, Piccioli stated, “Couture involves a deeper and more intimate perspective, to go further into your own vision of beauty.”  His vision was a perfect blend of Greek Mythology, 17th- and 18th-century painting, the films of Pasolini and the photographs of Deborah Turbeville, medieval armor, and Ziggy Stardust. Whew, that’s quite a line-up of inspiration, eh?

This translated into intricate embroidered capes, a multiple brocade evening dress adorned with rhinestones, sequins and pearls, a red sculpted jersey gown and a trio of featherweight taffeta dresses that wrapped around the body.

Valentino Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Valentino Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Valentino Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Valentino Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

FENDI

How does a house known for its use of fur adapt to the changing landscape of the anti-fur movement? After all, major fashion houses such as Gucci, Versace and Michael Kors have all announced they would go fur free and use only faux fur in their collections. Fendi on the other hand, made no such promise, but did abandon their Haute Fur Show in favor of a couture show.

Though Fendi did include some fur pieces, what they also did was produce something much more creative than fur and faux fur (which by the way is also a major earth pollutant). They ingeniously manipulated textiles in such a way as to resemble real fur; case in point, a coat created with fine strips of chiffon that were frayed and stitched together so closely that it could have been easily mistaken for an intarsia’d mink. While there were plenty of real fur looks in the line-up, it was refreshing for a house like Fendi show alternatives. And oh, what a great upcycling concept!

Fendi Haute Couture faux fur Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Fendi Haute Couture faux fur Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Fendi Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Fendi Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

JEAN PAUL GAULTIER

Always known to break with tradition, Jean Paul Gaultier showed his haute couture collection on both male and female models as the versatility of the collection was genderless. With a strong emphasis on tailoring, his suits were oh so chic! Gaultier was able to take the iconic “Le Smoking” and update it for the 21st century.

Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

MAISON MARGIELA

John Galliano has now taken to podcasting and for Margiela couture he stated that this is collection is “the raw, raw, undiluted essence, the parfum of the house.” Following in the footsteps of his Artisanal collection for men, Galliano presented a highly innovative, high-concept collection exposing the craftsmanship of haute couture –  literally – by revealing the exquisite stitching that goes into the construction of a hand-tailored jacket. The true genius of Galliano came through by layering garments between tubes of filmy nylon, thus creating what Vogue called “translucent fabric sandwiches.”

“We’re all nomads today,” added Galliano, “. . . we do move in tribes.” Galliano calls it “nomadic glamour.” Reminds us a bit of Yeohlee and her “Urban Nomads” collection, only this time, on steroids!

Maison Margiela Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Maison Margiela Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Maison Margiela Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Maison Margiela Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

ARMANI PRIVE

Ahhhh, and then there was Armani. Known for his master tailoring and Red Carpet artistry, the fall Armani Privé collection didn’t disappoint.  Armani’s press notes noted “A sculptural, almost regal style.”  The first half of the show (there were almost 100 looks in all), was a sea of black and champagne-colored pantsuits and evening looks, all that captured the chic essence of Armani beautifully. However, in an attempt to keep up with the times, half-way through the show Armani switched gears and sent out electric hues in everything from an ostrich feather cape to a hot pink and turquoise pantsuit that was a complete disconnect to the first half of the show. Go Armani!

Armani Prive Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Armani Prive Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Armani Prive Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Armani Prive Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

CHANEL

We fashionistas can always count on Karl Lagerfeld to create a wonderful backdrop for his Chanel collection. And for this collection he did not disappoint by sending his models for stroll along the Seine with its wide sidewalks and low stone walls framing the magnificent Institut de France, built by Louis le Vau for Cardinal Mazarin in the 1660s (and where the Academie Française is housed). Perhaps with age, Lagerfeld is feeling a bit reflective about his first days in Paris as an 18-year old. In an interview with Vogue before the show, Lagerfeld remembered a city still suffering from postwar neglect, with dirty streets and dark, unrestored buildings. “People said to my parents, ‘but he can get lost,’” he added. “My mother knew better: I had a strong survivor instinct!”

The collection was filled with the House’s signature tweeds all in shades of grey. There were plenty of long skirts that unzipped to reveal sexy miniskirts adorned with magnificent embroideries. Lagerfeld also showed a silver foil ball gown skirt, a bevy of chic jackets and plenty of transparent chiffon pleated eveningwear.

Chanel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Chanel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Chanel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Chanel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

CHRISTIAN DIOR

After years of over the top glamour and in your face sex appeal at Dior, at the hands of Raf Simons and John Galliano, the tide seems to be turning toward a more minimalistic approach to fashion. At the forefront of this evolutionary change is Maria Grazia Chiuri. Her couture 2018 collection involved some feminist research.  She read up on Leonor Fini, one of the avant-garde artists Christian Dior chose to exhibit in the gallery he was involved with before becoming a couturier. The results were beautiful, somber, sculpted and pleated pieces that were way more complex than what met the eye. These were serious clothes. Only a seasoned designer like Chiuri knows how to design clothes, utilizing the talents of finest ‘hands’ in the business, that will attract the most discerning couture clients. Chiuri showed cashmere suits, simple strapless gowns that grazed the ankle, effortless pleated dresses and demure eveningwear.  This collection is timeless and elegant yet modern and refreshing. A hit!

Christian Dior Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Christian Dior Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Christian Dior Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Christian Dior Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

SONIA RYKIEL

For the past 50 years, the name Sonia Rykiel has been associated with fun, lighthearted knitwear. This season, designer Julie de Libran presented the first Sonia Rykiel couture collection. And, staying true to the Rykiel code, presented a collection with the same joie de vivre that the house’s founder was known for.

Gone from this collection were the traditional evening gowns that epitomize the world of couture. Instead, de Libran presented a youthful and edgy line-up. Looks ranged from a striped hand-beaded off the shoulder Marinière sweater to a black sweater dress with a trompe l’oeil bikini embroidery and a bridal corset look with front-lacing, a feathered knit veil and blue jeans. Surely de Libran is a couture disruptor but is this collection really worthy of being called couture?

Sonia Rykiel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Sonia Rykiel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Sonia Rykiel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Sonia Rykiel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

IRIS VAN HERPEN

Always a fashion renegade, Iris van Herpen decided to show her couture collection at the Galerie de Minérologie et de Géologie, a fitting choice, since the name of this collection was “Ludi Naturae,” translated from Latin, “nature play.”

However, Van Herpen’s idea of nature flirts with synthetic biology through her iconic laser-cutting techniques and 3-D printed illusion fabric innovations, which she has taken to new heights and labels it “syntopia.” To quote van Herpen: “I think we as humans don’t even come close to the intelligence within nature. It’s funny how people think that nature is simple and technology is complex—it’s the opposite; technology is simple and nature is complex.”

Known for her artist collaborations, this time it was Amsterdam-based artist duo Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta of Studio Drift who created the backdrop her runway ‘science fantasy. She also partnered with Dutch sculptor Peter Gentenaar who is known for capturing ‘organic memory’ and motion through his delicate, large-scale cellulose sculptures,  and together they created a show that was ‘other-worldly.’

Considered fashion’s ‘futurist-in-residence,’ couture season would be incomplete without Iris van Herpen and her vision.

Iris van Herpen's Fall 2018 Couture Show (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Iris van Herpen’s Fall 2018 Couture Show (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Iris van Herpen's Fall 2018 Couture Show (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Iris van Herpen’s Fall 2018 Couture Show (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

 

DO YOU THINK THE SONIA RYKIEL COLLECTION MERITS COUTURE STATUS? IF SO, WHY?

 

 

Is this a wrap on immigrant designers in America?

Diane von Fürstenberg, Immigrant from Belgium Photo courtesy of Variety.com

Diane von Fürstenberg, Immigrant from Belgium
Photo courtesy of Variety.com

Stop for a moment and imagine—what if the wrap dress didn’t exist?

You know the one.

The looks-good-on-every-body-shape, waist-slimming, made-in-every-color-and-pattern, made-popular-the-world-over-by-Diane von Fürstenberg wrap dress, also known as a staple in the vast majority of American women’s closets. The wrap dress has even earned it’s own Wikipedia page due to its longevity and popularity. Read More

Men’s Spring 2019 Shows: Major Fashion Moments in Menswear

Dior Homme set (Photo courtesy if Footwear News)

Dior Homme set (Photo courtesy if Footwear News)

The whirlwind of Men’s fashion week is coming to a close as its last stretch will be in New York, but there were plenty of dramatic moments.

 Virgil Abloh presented his first collection for Louis Vuitton

Virgil Abloh is an American designer, D.J. and stylist who gained recognition as Kanye West’s creative director. Today he is the designer behind the cult label Off-White and has become the newly minted creative director of Louis Vuitton Menswear collection. This is a major moment for Abloh. Not only is he the artistic director of men’s to one of the most powerful houses in history, but he is also the first African-American designer ever appointed as the artistic director to a heritage brand.

This was the most anticipated show of the season and his front row was a star-studded event with everyone from Kanye West to Rihanna supporting the young designer. Once his first look exited, the world new Abloh was the perfect fit for the job and elevated streetwear to the highest level of lux.

According to Vogue.com, Abloh was inspired by “the idea of white light hitting a prism, and dividing into its component colors,” which translated into an assortment of tailored white suits, most noteworthy was the double breasted blazer paired with pleated trousers. Then Abloh moved to bright, bold colors and plenty of 90’s Helmut Lang references. There were harnesses and a finale with lots of “Wizard of Oz” inspired prints. This collection was truly a magical, over the rainbow moment for Abloh and the giant hug he received from Kanye at the end was a testament to what a milestone moment this was for African-American designers.

 

Louis Vuitton Men's Spring 2019 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Louis Vuitton Men’s Spring 2019 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Louis Vuitton Men's Spring 2019 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Louis Vuitton Men’s Spring 2019 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Kanye West and Virgil Abloh cried at the end of his Louis Vuitton show (Photo courtesy of Harpers Bazaar)

Kanye West and Virgil Abloh cried at the end of his Louis Vuitton show (Photo courtesy of Harpers Bazaar)

Kim Jones makes his debut at Dior Homme

Another menswear designer debut was British designer Kim Jones at Dior Homme.  Jones, the former menswear artistic director for Vuitton since 2011, pre-Abloh, helped revitalize the house for a younger generation. His show was also one of the most anticipated of the season with a front row filled with celebrities ranging from Kate Moss to Victoria Beckham. For his Dior Homme collection, Jones announced that is was time for couture values to be imported into menswear, and dubbed his collection “romantic, rather than feminine,” according to Vogue.com. He opened his show in ‘royal fashion’ with Prince Nikolai of Denmark wearing a classic shirting-stripe, turned inside out, and paired the look with sneakers. Looking to the  past with a futuristic eye, Jones recreated many prints that referenced the late Monsieur Dior. For example: beautiful jackets with tiny feathered flower motifs made to replicate the pattern on Dior porcelain dinner plates, toile prints that imitated the walls on the Dior Boutique in 1947 and the bee motif Dior used in 1955. Jones even gave a shout out to John Galliano with his inclusion of tiny saddle bags. Among the sea of toile prints and florals, there were beautifully tailored suits, effortless trousers and terrific outerwear. Jones mastered the balance between fashion fantasy and commercial hits.

Dior Homme Men's Spring 2019 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Dior Homme Men’s Spring 2019 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

Dior Homme Men's Spring 2019 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Dior Homme Men’s Spring 2019 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Maison Margiela

John Galliano, known for his Vionnet -inspired bias cut gowns (among other things) brought couture references to his  Maison Margiela collection that he called ‘Artisanal’ menswear.  An absolute first for menswear! In a category where tailoring is the usual mainstay, Galliano told Vogue.com, “It’s the highest form of dressmaking, but for men . . . I hope it’s going to define a new sensuality, a new sexuality.” In a podcast released to the press, Galliano explained why he decided to  elevate his men’s collection to couture level. Part of it was an epiphany about the shifting codes of formalwear that he had seen at the Met Gala. “Seeing the youth present, and their interpretation of black-tie . . . a seismic change from the last time,” he said. Another part of the decision stemmed from his daily dialogues with interns at the Maison Margiela studio. But possibly the biggest reason was, he was just raring to exercise his dressmaking skills and bring imagination to menswear.

Galliano’s mixed British bespoke tailoring and couture techniques and the end result was a sexy and glamourous menswear collection. There were plenty of iconic Galliano moments, such as his use of corsetry as well as flamenco and bullfighting references from his Gibraltar roots.

Maison Margiela's spring 2019 collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Maison Margiela’s spring 2019 collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Maison Margiela's spring 2019 collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com

Maison Margiela’s spring 2019 collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Raf Simons left New York for Paris

After presenting three collections during New York Fashion Week, Raf Simons decided to return to where it all started for him as a designer, Paris, to show his menswear collection.

After many years of streetwear-inspired looks ruling the menswear runway (think Supreme, Off White, Kim Jones for Vuitton, etc.) and with every fashion-forward boy and girl owning a plethora of designer hoodies and sneakers, Raf Simons is looking to change that. The cult favorite menswear designer showed a highly energized collection of tailored looks with New Wave club references. His collection was a consistent parade of beautifully tailored jackets and coats, mostly in satin, all in bold colors. It was New Wave at its best with references to Stephen Sprouse and elevated glamour that he was responsible for bringing to New York downtown 80s club scene. Simons was quoted as saying: “There are all these references to punk, like  safety pins and studs and black leather, but I was thinking of how to do them in a way that was not that—so you don’t recognize them.”  That’s where it got interesting. There were glimpses of tiny knots of diamanté jewelry and silver D-rings embedded here and there, suggestive of piercings and fetish. And, wittily, a twisted translation of plastic six-pack holders, made into a version of a punk string vest. “Like when kids hang out, carrying their beers,” as Simons put it. “But also, like Paco Rabanne.”

 

Raf Simons Men's Spring 2019 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Raf Simons Men’s Spring 2019 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

Raf Simons Men's Spring 2019 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Raf Simons Men’s Spring 2019 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Saint Laurent takes on New York

Italian-Belgian fashion designer Anthony Vaccarello took us back to 1978 for his spring Saint Laurent collection. How inspiration was a party Yves Saint Laurent hosted to launch his Opium fragrance, which was held on a ship docked at New York’s South Street Seaport and featured a giant bronze Buddha with thousands of orchids flown in from Hawaii. Forty years later, Vaccarello hosted an equally impressive, ultra-modernized version of that event across the Hudson at New Jersey’s Liberty State Park.

Vaccarello said he wanted to represent “the idea of New York, the idea of the icons of New York, in the ’70s.” Parts of that were Studio 54 in verve: a diamanté shirt placket and  a double-breasted blazer with a gold-trimmed peak lapel. But more so, it was the New York’s dive-ier Max’s Kansas City that sprung to mind— the sort of dirty glamour that has proven itself an immortal style, with distressed denim hoodies, patchworked boots, and show-stealing high-waisted, boot-cut trousers with just a slightly amplified flare at the kick. Vaccarello noted that these were new.

The highlight of the spectacle was the finale, when every model made their final walk in silver disco ball body paint – the moment was pure Studio 54 glamour.

 

Saint Laurent Men's Spring 2019 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Saint Laurent Men’s Spring 2019 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

Saint Laurent Men's Spring 2019 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Saint Laurent Men’s Spring 2019 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 So tell us, what where your favorite moments from Men’s Spring 2019 shows so far?

Ball Culture: Inspiration from the LGBTQ Underground Scene

Pride month – there’s no more colorful month of the year. And what better opportunity to acknowledge a part of LGBTQ history that has influenced fashion, music, dance and culture for almost four decades?

Attention, legendary children!

We are about to give you the basics of ball culture.

Since the early 1920s (and possibly even earlier), LGBTQ people have been coming together, often in underground secret spaces, to celebrate the art of dressing a part, dance and creating a safe space for creative expression. In the 1980s, these gatherings, or balls, were where those often cast out from society (many black and Latino) could be whoever they wanted for a night.

And while many equate balls with drag shows, there is much more to ball culture than sequins and feathers. Runway competitions included categories like “Executive Realness” allowing LGBTQ people of color the opportunity to dress the part of a Wall Street executive—an option not available to minorities during the day. And for young LGBTQ kids kicked out of their homes, ball culture offered a family, shelter and safety.

Thanks to the summer’s breakout hit show Pose on FX, a new generation is getting schooled on what life was like for a segment of the LGBTQ community in the early 80s in NYC. Severe shoulder pads and all.

Pose is ground-breaking in that it stars/employs more transgender actors and extras than any other scripted show currently on the air, however, Pose is hardly the first show to document ball culture. In fact, any in-the-know designer should immediately move the documentary Paris is Burning to the top of their must watch Netflix list.

In addition to a primer on late 80s/early 90s fashion, Paris is Burning reveals the roots of voguing as a dance and art form, so named from the model poses seen on the actual pages of Vogue magazine. And as an emerging designer, the deeper your understanding of history, the bigger pool of inspiration you have to draw from for your future collections.

So sit back, children, and learn your ball culture. If you are a fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race (anyone else #TeamAquaria this season?), Mama Ru’s catch phrases are about to make much more sense.

Houses and Families

At a ball, participants walked as houses. Houses were often named after fashion houses or beauty icons, for example, House of Saint Laurent. Each house has a mother who sets the tone/rules for the house and takes in new family members. Family members often adopt the last name of their house, not only showing their loyalty, but also creating a sense of belonging not provided by a biological family. And house mothers refer to their children as legendary.

Walking in a Category

Balls are made up of runway competitions and each competition fits into a theme or category. The emcee of the ball will call out, “Category is….” and all those who are participating will prepare to show off their best super model, evening wear, military, school girl, uptown/downtown, etc. garb.

Serving (Category) Realness

In order to win a runway competition, participants are judged on realness, or how likely they are to actually pass in real life as the individual they are representing on the runway. Serving Park Avenue realness means the participant could fit right in strolling down Park Avenue with the ladies who lunch.

Mopping

Because the ball participants of the 80s had very few resources, some mopped or stole the materials they needed to create their runway looks. We don’t advocate stealing at U of F, however, we know many designers are operating on a shoestring budget and therefore, studying ball culture can be pretty inspiring to see what those who had nothing can create on no budget at all.

Reading and Throwing Shade

To read another participant in ball culture is to ruthlessly insult another’s outfit, look, walk or presentation without breaking a sweat. Reading is in good fun, and thus, the phrase “the library is open,” often clears the floor for a good read. Throwing shade is a more subtle form of reading, saved for the most clever and witty of readers. The library doesn’t necessarily have to be open for shade to be thrown.

From Marc Jacobs to Alexander McQueen to Jeremy Scott to Vivienne Westwood to…the list goes on and on… designers have drawn inspiration from underground club scenes over the course of history. You can, too. Just make sure to learn your history before attempting to throw shade, darling.

Spring’s Most Surprising Hot Trend: The Bike Short

- - Trends

Left to right: Nina Ricci and Dion Lee spring 2018 looks (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Left to right: Nina Ricci and Dion Lee’s spring 2018 looks (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

“Ugly-pretty” fashion trends have been making a mark on the runway over the past few seasons, from Balenciaga’s platform Crocs to Miu Miu’s socks with sandals look. Another surprising trend of the spring season was the return of the spandex bike short, and we’re not talking for cycling.

From New York to Paris the bike short took center stage and somehow it looked new again, especially when paired with a tailored jacket, a chunky sweater or… are you ready… for eveningwear!

 

Dolce & Gabbana spring 2018 look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Dolce & Gabbana’s spring 2018 look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

This trend has already been spotted on models, celebrities and influencers, who have been pairing their bike shorts with mini-skirts and stilettos. Celebrity stylist Elizabeth Sulcer told Vogue, “bike shorts are flattering because they show off your legs in a different, more discreetly sexy way, and they look great with heels.”

Saint Laurent spring 2018 look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Saint Laurent’s spring 2018 look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

But at UoF, we think the trend has more to do with the industry’s fascination with streetwear, youth culture and ‘looking fit’ (even if you haven’t hit the gym in years)! Just look at the buzz surrounding labels like Supreme and Off White and streetwear newcomers:  LA-based brand BornxRaised, the Japanese brand Doublet, Metropolitan US, MISBHV and Supreme’s ex-Creative Director Brendon Barbenzien’s brand, NOAH. They sell ‘cool’. And who doesn’t want to look cool?

Either way, it’s the latest trend and we’re predicting that it will make its way to the mainstream fashion-loving consumer by the summer. And oh, let’s face it, in our sustainability-conscious world, some of us still have our 80s bike shorts in our closet! What a great way to give them a face lift?

Fenty X Puma spring 2018 look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Fenty X Puma’s spring 2018 look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Here are some bike short pairings from MSGM, Nina Ricci and Saint Laurent worn under oversized jackets, dresses, and skirts, which definitely added an extra layer of interest.

MSGM spring 2018 look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

MSGM’s spring 2018 look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Virgil Abloh, the creative director for Off-White, was inspired by Princess Diana’s daily trips to the gym, and interpreted some of her most iconic looks for his spring 2018 collection, most notably, her biker shorts.  So, how did Abloh interpret Diana’s biker short look? Well, it was the show’s finale. Supermodel Naomi Campbell (who once participated in a prank orchestrated by Diana) brought down the house in a pair of white bike shorts under a white double-breasted blazer. Could this look qualify as a runway wedding outfit finale, 21st century style?

 

Princess Diana in biker shorts (Photo courtesy of wellandgood.com)

Princess Diana in biker shorts (Photo courtesy of wellandgood.com)

 

 

Off-White spring 2018 look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Off-White’s spring 2018 look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

So tell us, will you give the biker short a test run this summer? Send us pics of your own bike short pairing!

Introducing the CFDA’s Young Guns

Mike Amiri, Kristopher Brock, Nadja Swarovski, Aurora James, and Kerby Jean-Raymond - Photo courtesy of WWD.com

Mike Amiri, Kristopher Brock, Nadja Swarovski, Aurora James, and Kerby Jean-Raymond – Photo courtesy of WWD.com

As fashion educators and bloggers, we have a responsibility to cover important events in our industry—for example, the recent 2018 CFDA Fashion Awards—even when the CFDA honors Kim Kardashian (GASP!) with the CFDA Influencer Award. While we are still a little stumped on that decision, we are thrilled to introduce you to the honored newcomers to the fashion industry – also known as the five nominees for the Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent. Read More

RESORT 2019 – What is Resort and Why?

Chanel Resort 2019 (Photo Courtesy of Accessories Magazine)

Chanel Resort 2019 (Photo Courtesy of Accessories Magazine)

Over the past several years, the fashion industry calendar has twisted into something beyond recognition. In today’s era of rampant consumption, social media and the internet, designers and brands can no longer rely on two show-seasons a year (Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter collections) to stay relevant. This has placed a tremendous burden on designers who have become increasingly stressed with the workload. Burn out and, in some cases, death (think Alexander McQueen and L’Wren Scott) can play a role.

Earlier this year, designer Alexander Wang announced that would not be showing his main Spring 2019 collection during Fashion Week (in  September) and instead, is choosing to show that collection during pre-collection season. Maybe Mr. Wang is on to something?

Ten plus years ago, Resort and Pre-fall collections were only shown to buyers and were basically a brand’s best-selling items, used as store fillers between seasons. Once brands decided to open the season to the press (WWD and Style.com were the first publications to fully cover pre-collections) the flood gates were opened!  Today, Resort shows start in early May and continue through the second week of June. Some designers and retailers think that the resort season has become almost as important as the Spring & Winter collection seasons.

Valentino (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Valentino (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

For Resort 2019, designers have made it a lot easier for the press, celebrities and buyers by choosing to show in fashion capitals. Chanel, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and Gucci decided to show in France, while Valentino and Prada chose New York.

Gucci (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Gucci (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

 

LET’S LOOK AT THE HISTORY OF RESORT SEASON

While many fashion lovers enjoy the visual stimulation of Resort shows, many are in the dark about what this fashion season truly means and why it exists. So, here’s a brief history:

A Cruise or Resort collection (also referred to as a Holiday or Travel collection) is an inter-season or pre-season line of ready-to-wear clothing produced by a brand, in addition to their recurrent twice-yearly seasonal collections – Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter, shown during major fashion weeks in New York, London, Paris and Milan.

Cruise collections were originally targeted to wealthy customers or  seasoned jet-setters, cruising or vacationing in the warm Mediterranean sun during the winter months. Cruise collections usually consist of light spring or summer clothing, when weather at the points of sale actually calls for winter apparel. However, today, Resort/Cruise collections are targeted to consumers who have finished buying their fall wardrobes (ideally) and are looking ahead for something new. Resort collections range from warm weather looks, such as pretty sundresses and swimsuits, to winter looks, like fur coats and cozy sweaters (perfect for that Aspen getaway).

In the past, only high end houses like Chanel, Christian Dior, Gucci, Prada, Ralph Lauren and Marc Jacobs produced resort collections. But thanks to consumers who are always looking for something new, now almost every brand creates a resort delivery (November delivery), from Michelle Smith for her label Milly to Tory Burch.

Tory Burch (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Tory Burch (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Resort is also an opportunity to satisfy the generation of consumers who travel all the time. It also answers the climate change dilemma where these days, in many parts of the world, there is little to no winter. Additionally, thanks to online shopping, brands at every price-point have global customers. Some of the biggest spenders are in the ever-important Asian, Arab, and Russian markets. For major brands, the resort delivery is a commercial necessity.

Resort collections are available for consumer purchase in November and perfect timing for Holiday shopping. While Resort is an extra opportunity for brands to make money, it has become an incredibly important season for those brick & mortar retailers who are struggling with how to lure customers back to shopping in stores. Unlike Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter collections, Resort remains on the sales floor the longest (Spring merchandise arrives February) before hitting the sale rack, which makes it the most profitable season for most brands. Not  a lot of mark downs.

So, let’s take a look at some Resort collections from the start of this season:

Gucci (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Gucci (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Roberto Cavalli (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Roberto Cavalli (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Prada (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Prada (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Jil Sander (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Jil Sander (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

 

Chanel (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Chanel (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Burberry (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Burberry (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Valentino (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Valentino (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Givenchy (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Givenchy (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Christian Dior (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Christian Dior (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Louis Vuitton (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Louis Vuitton (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Oscar de la Renta (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Oscar de la Renta (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

DO YOU BELIEVE DESIGNERS ARE BURNING OUT BY CREATING FOUR COLLECTIONS A YEAR?

DROP Everything and Read This

From a death drop…

To a mic drop…

To dropping it like it’s hot…

Retailers and designers alike are taking advantage of the hype that surrounds the newest, hottest drop – or a limited edition release of a product for a short run of time. Most often, one-off drops take place in brick and mortar locations and attract droves of brand fans and devotees.

And in a time when “on the ground” retailers are struggling to stay alive due to online competition, finding creative ways to bring shoppers in is critical.

Last September, Barneys put a drop event to the test when the retailer invited more than 80 brands to release limited-edition goods that could only be found at Barneys. But Barneys didn’t just stop at offering limited edition products by brands with impressive social media followings. The social media savvy retailer also tapped additional influencers—think well-known tattoo artists and DJs—to sweeten the draw for the audience Barneys was trying to attract into its doors.

Add a branded café and a t-shirt bar, and BAM! Drop history was made.

According to WWD, of the 12,000 people that showed up to The Drop @Barneys on Madison Avenue in NYC, half were current customers and the other half brand new customers. The event was held over one weekend and sales increased 35% from the previous year on Saturday and 9% on Sunday. Most importantly, 40% of attendees returned at a later date to make a purchase at Barneys.

The Drop @ Barneys was so successful, a second drop is planned for June 2 and 3 at the Beverly Hills store on the West Coast.

But what can emerging designers pick up from what more established designers are dropping?

Several ideas:

1. Use what you know to give the people what they want.

If you’re lacking Barney’s vast resources and connections, not to worry. You can take a lesson from Barneys “mega drop,” and use your knowledge of your own brand and product success to create a “mini drop.” Take a hard look at your best sellers or perhaps your garments/accessories/items that get the most attention on social media.

In other words, many designers recreated their biggest sellers for The Drop @ Barneys, and the crowd flocked to the event. No need to make more work for yourself or reinvent an already popular wheel.

Reincarnate your best seller with a slight twist or alteration in a limited edition run. Set up shop at a local market, arrange for a pop up event at a local boutique or permits permitting, sell on a corner in a shopping area that caters to your audience. Blast your social media following a special date/time and look forward to existing fans of your brand bringing their friends for a peek at your drop!

2. Get creative—think of the long game.

This tip takes a shift in thinking. When your resources are limited, it can be hard to think about putting your time and energy into a “hype” event that may not garner too many sales. However, if you are in it for the long haul as a designer and business person, giving some focus to “getting your name out there” can pay off down the road.

Barneys didn’t just focus on garment sales during their first drop event, they thought beyond sales to provide an environment that would appeal to the demographic they hope to turn into buying customers in the future.

As an emerging designer, consider organizing a panel about fashion, design or owning your own business and invite your local community. Try offering to style customers at a local boutique for one afternoon a week. Seek out networking events in your area—offer to speak, help organize or provide a branded item for attendees’ swag bags.

3. Form like-minded partnerships.

Just like Barneys researched DJs, tattoo artists and other influencers that their desired audience might want to take selfies with, so can you.

Who do you follow and admire on Instagram? How might you partner with them, eventually turning their fans on to your brand? Can you swap a post for a post and somehow bring your like-minded followers together?

Think about your customer’s day, week, month and year. Sure, they might wake up and put on one of your accessories, but considering their 24/7 can give you great insight into who your beneficial partners might be. If your customer spends her weekends at the club, you might consider hosting a party in exchange for a pop up shop during the club’s off hours.

If you design golf shirts, networking with county clubs and offering a unique “meet the designer” buying experience for members during busy brunch times might be an option.

If sustainability is part of your design philosophy, try partnering with a recycling facility or donation organization, giving your customers (and new customers who will be appreciative of your efforts) a literal Drop Off the Old, Shop the New opportunity.

What are other ways you have attracted new customers?

We’d love to hear—and so would our students and followers. Maybe we can get creative and form a like-minded partnership? Drop your comments below.

Royal Wedding: Meghan Markle Stuns the World in Clare Waight Keller

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

It was the most anticipated wedding of the year; Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tied the knot today (May 19, 2018) at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. It was a ceremony that managed to meld centuries of British tradition with a distinctly contemporary American feel and British and America flags waved gloriously all over England.

As the world watched, Meghan Markle made the trip to St. George’s Chapel with her mother Doria Ragland. The stunning American actress has now become the Duchess of Sussex with a simple “I do” to Prince Harry. There was plenty of speculation on what she would wear on this momentous occasion. Many thought that she would wear a custom gown by Ralph & Russo – after all, she chose an embellished Ralph & Rosso for her engagement portrait. Up until yesterday, many were assumed she would wear a Stella McCartney, since McCartney is an ethical fashion designer and avid animal rights activist.

Meghan Markle in Givenchy Couture by Clare Waight Keller (photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

Meghan Markle in Givenchy Couture by Clare Waight Keller (photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

As Prince Charles walked Markle down the aisle, the soon to become Duchess of Sussex succeeded in a making global statement by choosing: a minimalistic gown from a French couture house designed by a British designer (Clare Waight Keller), a diamond tiara on loan from the Queen (once worn by Queen Mary), diamond earrings from French jeweler, Cartier earrings and a veil bearing symbols of the Commonwealth. While Markle respected British heritage and tradition, she has also ushered in a new age of simplicity and global inclusivity.

Meghan Markle's crown (photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

Meghan Markle’s crown (photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

William Hansen, an etiquette coach, said in an interview following the wedding “It’s a more traditional dress, although it does have a very contemporary and up-to-date feel to it. There are the covered shoulders and the veil. There’s a nod to the past with Queen Mary’s diamond bandeau tiara, and a nod to the present, which is seen in her veil and in the embroidered flowers that represent the countries of the Commonwealth and Prince Harry’s role.”

The dress, with its boat neck, clean lines and lack of embroidery, was quiet and demure, a stark contrast to Princess Diana’s wedding dress. The palace said that after meeting Waight Keller in early 2018, Markle chose to work with the designer due to her “timeless and elegant aesthetic, impeccable tailoring,” and relaxed demeanour. The gown was a surprisingly subdued choice compared to her sister-in-law Kate Middleton’s intricate lace wedding dress by Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton.

Left: Kate Middleton in Alexander McQueen Righ: Meghan Markle in Givenchy Couture

Left: Kate Middleton in Alexander McQueen Righ: Meghan Markle in Givenchy Couture

The lines of Markel’s dress were achieved using only six seams, and the dress extended towards the back where the train flowed into soft folds cushioned by an underskirt in triple-silk organza. Waight Keller worked with an exclusive double bonded silk cady, which she developed which gave the dress more shape. Both Waight Keller and Markle wanted a “pure white” color to bring a fresh modernity to the dress, the palace said.

Waight Keller described the dress as a close collaboration between her and Markle and said the two had wanted to create a “timeless piece that would emphasize the iconic codes of Givenchy throughout its history (think Audrey Hepburn), as well as convey modernity through sleek lines and sharp cuts.”

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry (photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry (photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

While the gown was relatively simple, the veil, in contrast, had plenty of intricate details. The bride wanted to have a distinctive flower from of each Commonwealth country with her on her journey through the ceremony, according to Kensington Palace.  The veil was five meters long and made of silk tulle trimmed with hand-embroidered flowers in silk thread and organza. Each flower was worked flat and in three dimensions, to create a unique and delicate design. The palace said the workers spent hundreds of hours meticulously sewing and washing their hands every 30 minutes to keep the tulle and threads pristine. In addition to the flora of the Commonwealth, Markle selected two personal favorites: Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox), which grows on the grounds of Kensington Palace, in front of Nottingham Cottage where the couple lives, and the California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) the state flower from Markle’s native California. Symmetrically placed at the very front of the veil, crops of wheat are meant to blend into the flora, to symbolize love and charity.

For those unfamiliar with Clare Waight Keller, here goes: She is a British mother of three and a talented, low-key British designer who is all about femininity, soft edges and beautiful fabrics. She also has a reputation for cutting a killer pair of pants. She attended both Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art in London. Waight Keller began her fashion career designing for Calvin Klein, where she worked for four years. She also worked with Polo Ralph Lauren as design director of Purple Label Menswear and was a senior design director with Tom Ford at Gucci. Waight Keller is known for her knitwear and her sleek, tomboyish, yet elegant style. In 2005, she became creative director at Pringle of Scotland and her first menswear collection was presented at Milan Fashion Week 2006. In 2011, she joined Chloé, where she coined the term “sister style,” a look that expresses clothes that are simple, comfortable and romantic. In 2016, Apple Music launched a fashion channel playlist and tapped Waight Keller and designer Alexander Wang to curate the music selections.  On March 16, 2017 she became the first female to become artistic director at the French House of Givenchy.

Clare Waight Keller

Clare Waight Keller

The stunning  couple married at St. George’s Chapel on the Queen’s Windsor estate — not at Westminster Abbey or St. Paul’s Cathedral in London — and invited more than 2,000 members of the public to join them for the ceremony. The wedding wasn’t a state affair, but one filled instead with family — and some famous friends — including Oprah Winfrey, Serena Williams, George and Amal Clooney, James Corden, James Blunt and Victoria and David Beckham. There were also a host of former classmates from Meghan’s alma mater Northwestern University were there, as well as the cast from her former TV series “Suits.”

So tell us, whose dress do you think was more fitting for a princess? Kate Middleton in Alexander McQueen or Meghan Markle in Givenchy Couture?

Stars Shine and Show Some Skin in Cannes

Screen Shot 2018-05-13 at 8.25.55 PM

Photo courtesy of www.standard.co.uk

Last Tuesday marked the start of the 71st Cannes Film Festival which runs through May 18, 2018. The beauty of reviewing fashion at this annual gathering of who’s who in film is that celebrities and attendees are not only wearing red carpet looks for film screenings and events, but also a chic variety of daytime head-to-toe looks for panels, photoshoots, promotional events and interviews.

No matter the time of day, three top trends are emerging as the stars promote their latest works. Read More