University of Fashion Blog

Posts by: Antonia Sardone

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Antonia Sardone is a new contributor to the University of Fashion. She is also a freelance fashion consultant, stylist and writer. Antonia Sardone graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in Advertising Communications, Marketing and Fashion Journalism. She is an industry veteran having worked for WWD for over fifteen years and has strong relationships with designers worldwide. Today, Antonia Sardone continues to write reviews for WWD as well as work with many contemporary designers on a variety of projects from helping to re-launch their websites to writing their brand books. She enjoys raising her children to be creative individuals, as well as styling, writing and traveling.

Move Over Hollywood- There’s a New Act in Town

Apple TV+’s  production of  The New Look, is one of a growing number of fashion entertainment projects. LVMH is now developing its own film production company. (Photo Credit: Apple TV +)

If you are an avid follower of fashion then no doubt you’ve have already watched all 10 episodes of  The New Look (Apple TV+). The clothes, the history, and the acting were all superb (despite its 57% average Rotten Tomatometer score). And, if you haven’t already viewed these 12 other must-watch fashion films, well…what are you waiting for? Get out the popcorn and get going: Cristóbal Balenciaga (2024-Disney+), Westwood: Punk Icon, Activist (2018-Amazon Prime); McQueen (2018-Amazon Prime, Hulu, Apple TV+); Saint Laurent (2014-Amazon Prime, Hulu, Apple TV+); Coco Before Chanel (2009-Amazon Prime, Apple TV+); Martin Margiela: In His Own Words (2019-Amazon Prime, Apple TV+); Lagerfeld Confidential (2007); Dior and I (2014- Apple TV+); Valentino: The Last Emperor (2008); House of Gucci (2021- Amazon Prime, Apple TV+); and although Bill Cunningham wasn’t a fashion designer, he was instrumental in putting many a young designer on the map, including UoF’s founder, Francesca Sterlacci, so you’ve got to watch The Times of Bill Cunningham (2020).

Image of Bill Cunningham movie

The Times of Bill Cunningham a film by Mark Bozek (Image courtesy: Greenwich Entertainment)

 

It was only a matter of time that the fashion industry, who have been dressing Hollywood’s glitterati for decades, would cross-over into the world of film making. One could argue that the  MET Gala started it all with their coverage of fashion’s version of the Oscars, which is live-streamed on DirecTV, Fubo, Hulu + Live TV and Sling. The MET turned their bi-yearly fashion exhibitions into red carpet media productions, with reported costs for mounting each exhibit upwards of $7 million. This year they raised $26 million just from the Sleeping Beauties show Gala. Ticket sales for the exhibition itself will be icing on the cake! By the way, if you ever wondered what goes into the making of a MET exhibition be sure to watch The First Monday in May (2016- YouTube) documentary

FASHION BRANDS TAKE ON HOLLYWOOD

Once confined to runways and glossy pages, fashion companies are now venturing into the entertainment industry and capitalizing on the connection between fashion and film. From established luxury houses to avant-garde designers, the allure of storytelling through film has become a captivating new frontier. Let’s take a look at how some of the biggest names in fashion are effortlessly infiltrating the entertainment space.

TOM FORD

Nocturnal Animals is Tom Ford’s second film. (Photo Credit: Focus Features)

Renowned for his impeccable taste in fashion, Tom Ford has made a remarkable mark in the world of cinema. Transitioning effortlessly from designing stunning couture to crafting compelling narratives, Ford has proven himself a visionary filmmaker. With critically acclaimed films like A Single Man (2009) and Nocturnal Animals (2016), Ford’s unique blend of style and substance has captivated audiences worldwide. His films not only showcase his talent for storytelling but also serve as an extension of his distinctive aesthetic, making him a true icon in both fashion and film.

SAINT LAURENT PRODUCTION COMPANY

The poster for Strange Way of Life, a new film by Pedro Almodóvar. Photo (Credit Saint Laurent: Productions)

Saint Laurent, the epitome of Parisian chic, has expanded its influence beyond the runway with its own production company. Led by creative director Anthony Vaccarello, Saint Laurent Production Company delves into the world of film with a focus on creating visually stunning content. From short films to documentaries, each project reflects the brand’s signature edgy glamour. With a roster of talented directors and actors, Saint Laurent’s foray into filmmaking offers a fresh perspective on the intersection of fashion and cinema.

The company screened three films at this past Cannes Film Festival, including David Cronenberg’s The Shrouds, which stars Diane Kruger and Vincent Cassel, and Jacques Audiard’s Emilia Perez with Zoe Saldana and Selena Gomez. It’s a clever way to strengthen a company’s Hollywood ties while recruiting prospective brand ambassadors.

LVMH’S 22 MONTAIGNE

Antoine Arnault will lead LVMH’s new Hollywood production company called, 22 Montaigne Entertainment. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

When two icons meet, the world pays attention. LVMH, with its constellation of 75+ luxury brands, and Hollywood, with its global influence, are joining forces to create something truly spectacular. The name itself, 22 Montaigne, resonates with heritage and prestige. It’s the address of the iconic Dior headquarters in Paris, a symbol of elegance and creativity. And now, it’s making waves in the world of entertainment.

22 Montaigne Entertainment is not just about fashion. It’s a groundbreaking collaboration, in partnership with Superconnector Studios. Co-founders Jae Goodman and John Kaplan will work with LVMH North America Chairman/CEO Anish Melwani to find the right match between its brands and creators, producers and distributors. LVMH will co-develop, co-produce and co-finance these entertainment properties. Directors, writers, actors, and fashion designers will be working hand in hand to craft immersive experiences that captivate audiences on and off the screen. It’s a fusion of storytelling and style, where every detail, from costumes to set designs, becomes a work of art.

NICK KNIGHT’S SHOWSTUDIO

Step through the looking glass and backstage with Naomi Campbell in this Nick Knight and SHOWstudio fashion film. (Courtesy of Nick Knight’s SHOWstudio)

At the forefront of fashion innovation, Nick Knight’s SHOWstudio is a digital playground for creatives. Through groundbreaking projects and collaborations, SHOWstudio explores the intersection of fashion, art, and technology. From live-streamed photo shoots to experimental films, Knight pushes the boundaries of visual storytelling. With its dynamic online platform, SHOWstudio invites audiences to engage with fashion in a truly interactive way, bridging the gap between virtual and reality.

KERING

Salma Hayek with François-Henri Pinault whose company Kering now owns CAA Talent Agency. (Photo Credit Getty: Images)

Beyond its portfolio of luxury brands, Kering has diversified its reach by acquiring CAA Hollywood Talent Agency. With a roster of A-list actors and directors, CAA represents some of the biggest names in entertainment. By merging fashion and film under one umbrella, Kering has created a synergy that opens up endless possibilities for collaboration. From red carpet appearances to brand partnerships, Kering’s presence in Hollywood solidifies its status as a powerhouse in both industries.

Hollywood and Fashion find a new synergy with Kering’s acquisition of CAA Talent Agency. (Photo Credit: The Wrap)

The convergence of fashion and entertainment has given rise to a new era of creativity and collaboration. Whether it’s through filmmaking, production companies, immersive retail experiences, or talent agencies, fashion companies are leaving an indelible mark on the entertainment industry. As these boundaries continue to blur, one thing is certain: the marriage of style and cinema is here to stay, captivating audiences and inspiring creatives around the world.

So, tell us, do you have a fav fashion film?

 

 

 

MOTHERHOOD, FASHION, AND SUCCESS: CELEBRATING DESIGNER MOMS

Three generations of designers. Margherita, Angela and Rosita Missoni. (Photo Credit: Martina Giammaria)

To all the Moms out there, we salute you! Whether you’re part of the 9-5 workforce or you’re a CEO homemaker, house manager and caregiver, we’d like to wish you a very Happy Mother’s Day. Fun fact: Did you know that from February to April 2020 among moms with kids under age 18, the mothers’ employment plummeted to nearly 16%, but by 2023 that number grew to 71.7%?  And, 24% of those women worked from home, according to the U.S. Labor Department’s Women’s Bureau. Talk about multi-tasking!

In this week’s blog, we thought we’d take a look at the women in fashion who have managed to balance the demands of raising young children with the fast-paced world of high fashion. Among the many talented designer moms making waves in the industry a few standout, not just for their entrepreneurial prowess, but also for their ability to build and maintain the successful fashion brands they’ve helped create.

CHEMENA KAMALI FOR CHLOÉ

Chemena Kamali on the Chloe runway after her Fall 2024 debut collection as her son runs to her. (Photo Credit: Getty)

Chemena Kamali, the creative director of Chloé, brings a touch of timeless elegance to the brand’s designs. As a mother, Kamali’s creations often reflect a sense of effortless sophistication, perfectly balancing the demands of modern motherhood with her passion for fashion. Her designs are celebrated for their fluidity and femininity, capturing the essence of the Chloé woman who is both strong and delicate. Who can forget her debut show for Chloé’s fall 2024 collection when one of her sons gleefully jumped up from the front row to cheer on his mom as she took her final bow?

MARGHERITA MISSONI

Margherita with her husband and sons in 2016. (Photo Credit: Instagram @mmmargherita)

Margherita Missoni, part of the iconic Missoni family, infuses her designs with the vibrant colors and patterns that have become synonymous with the brand. As a mother of two, Margherita brings a fresh perspective to Missoni, as well as her latest venture Maccapani. The brand combines cutting-edge Italian jersey fabrics with the Missoni scion’s post-streetwear, femicentric philosophy. Blending traditional craftsmanship with contemporary flair, Margherita’s creations embody a sense of joy and optimism, reflecting her own experiences as a mother raising a young family.

MOLLY GODDARD

Molly Goddart was creating her collection for Fall 2024 right before giving birth. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Molly Goddard’s eponymous label has become synonymous with whimsical designs and voluminous silhouettes. As a mother, Goddard brings a unique perspective to her work, redefining femininity with each collection. Her designs celebrate individuality and self-expression, empowering women to embrace their own sense of style while juggling the responsibilities of motherhood. During her fall 2024 show, her 11-week-old daughter made her front row debut sleeping while cradled against her father’s chest.

ALEJANDRA ALONSO ROJAS

Alejandra Alonso Rojas with her son. (Photo Credit: Coveteur)

Alejandra Alonso Rojas is known for her dedication to artisanal craftsmanship and sustainable practices. As a mother, Rojas brings a sense of purpose to her work, creating timeless pieces that are meant to be treasured for years to come. Her designs reflect her commitment to family and tradition, celebrating the beauty of slow fashion in a fast-paced world.

MARINA LARROUDE FOR LARROUDE

Marina Larroude, of Larroude, with her two children. (Photo Credit: Instagram @MarinaLarroude)

Marina Larroude’s eponymous footwear brand offers chic and versatile options for every occasion. As a mother, Larroude knows the importance of comfortable yet stylish shoes, and her designs reflect this ethos. From classic pumps to statement wedges, Larroude’s collections cater to the needs of modern women who refuse to sacrifice style for practicality.

HENRIETTA RIX OF RIXO

Henrietta Rix, co-founder of fashion brand Rixo and mom to a toddler. (Photo Credit: Citizen Femme)

Henrietta Rix’s vintage-inspired designs have captured the hearts of fashionistas around the world. As a mother, Rix brings a sense of nostalgia to her collections, reimagining classic silhouettes for the modern woman. Her bold prints and playful designs exude a sense of glamour and confidence, proving that motherhood is no barrier to success in the fashion world.

A FEW MORE OH SO CHIC DESIGNER MOMS

Felisha Noel and her son. (Photo Credit: Byrdie)

Elena Velez, Michelle Ochs, and Felisha Noel are the creative minds behind some of today’s most exciting new fashion brands. As mothers themselves, they understand the importance of versatility and comfort without compromising on style. Whether it’s Velez’s bold prints, Ochs’ architectural silhouettes, or Noel’s innovative use of textiles, these designers are paving the way for a new generation of fashion-forward moms.

Happy Mom’s Day!

SLEEPING BEAUTIES: REAWAKENING FASHION – THE 2024 COSTUME INSTITUTE EXHIBITION

Dress by Undercover, spring 2024. (Photo Credit: The Met)

Did you know that the Metropolitan Museum of Art is the fourth largest art museum in the world, and that its Costume Institute boasts the largest collection of fashion? This season the Costume Institute’s semi-annual exhibition is entitled Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion and opens to the public on May 10th. It promises to cast a spell of awe and wonder upon all who enter its realm and delves into the realm of dreams, where fashion becomes a vehicle for exploration, transformation, and reawakening.

Left and Right: Dresses by Loewe, fall 2023. Center: Evening Look by Nina Ricci, circa 1958. (Photo Credit: The Met)

The exhibition, runs from  May 10 through September 2, 2024, and features approximately 250 garments and accessories that are connected visually through nature, which also serves as a metaphor for the transience of fashion. According to the Met’s press release, “The show will bring to life the sensory capacities of these masterworks through a wide range of encounters: visitors will be invited to smell the aromatic histories of hats bearing floral motifs; to touch the walls of galleries that will be embossed with the embroidery of select garments; and to experience—via the illusion technique known as Pepper’s ghost—how the “hobble skirt” restricted women’s stride in the early 20th century. Punctuating the galleries will be a series of “sleeping beauties”—garments that can no longer be dressed on mannequins due to their extreme fragility.”

Ballgown by Charles Frederick Worth, circa 1887. (Photo Credit: The Met)

The glamorous Met Gala®, known as one of Fashion’s biggest nights, kicks off the exhibition on Monday May 6th.  This year’s gala is co-chaired by Anna Wintour, Zendaya, Bad Bunny, Chris Hemsworth, and Jennifer Lopez. The event is the Costume Institute’s prime source of annual funding for exhibitions, publications, acquisitions, operations, and capital improvements.

An Evening Cloak by Charles Frederick Worth. (Photo Credit: Nick Knight for the Met)

While gala attendees dress to impress, the official dress code for the night will be “The Garden of Time.” Shou Chew, Chief Executive Officer of TikTok and Jonathan Anderson, Creative Director of LOEWE, both serve as honorary chairs. The exhibit showcases approximately 250 rare items drawn from the Costume Institute’s permanent collection, spanning 400 years of fashion history. The masterpieces include looks by Schiaparelli, Dior, Givenchy and pieces that are too fragile to ever be worn again—such as a Charles Frederick Worth ball gown from 1877,  and therefore are displayed via video animation, light projection, AI, CGI, and other forms of sensory stimulation.

Venus ball gown and Junon ball gown, both by Christian Dior, fall 1949. (Photo Credit: The Met)

Upon entering the exhibit, guests will discover an arrangement of self-contained galleries organized into three sections. Each gallery will explore a different element inspired by nature – earth, air, and water – with historical fashions juxtaposed with contemporary counterparts in an immersive experience that will engage a visitor’s sense of sight, smell, touch, and sound. According to Andrew Bolton and Wendy Yu, Curators in Charge of the Costume Institute, “It is very much an ode to nature and the emotional poetics of fashion.”

A Dress by Alexander McQueen, spring 2011. (Photo Credit: The Met)

Watch The Met Gala® red carpet arrival live-streamed on Vogue.com or you follow the event on social media to join in the conversation. Use #ReawakeningFashion, #CostumeInstitute, @MetCostumeInstitute and #MetGala.

So, as your social media feed will be bombarded with Met Gala® coverage, tell us, which stars are you hoping to see on the Red Carpet?

A NEW CROP OF NIGERIAN DESIGNERS

Looks from Mai Atafo. (Photo Credit: Mai Atafo)

Nigeria, the vibrant heartbeat of Africa, is a kaleidoscope of cultures, colors, and creativity. It is home to the second largest film industry on the globe while also being the fashion, technological and creative hub of Africa, according to Nigeria’s tourism site. In recent years, a new wave of fashion designers have emerged, infusing traditional Nigerian aesthetics with contemporary flair and global appeal. There have been plenty of rising fashion designers coming out of Africa, here we will highlight a few from the new crop of fashion darlings – Mai Atafo, Banke Kuku, Cute-Saint, Dye Lab by Rukky Ladoja, and Eki Kere – all of whom are redefining Nigerian fashion and captivating the world with their unique styles.

A display from Brooklyn Museum’s Africa Fashion exhibition in 2023. (Photo Credit: The New York Times)

“Currently the global fashion community is looking to the African continent for more than inspiration,” said Ernestine White-Mifetu, the Sills Foundation curator of African art at the Brooklyn Museum, in an interview with NYT. “The fashion world at large is finally ready to pay attention.”

MAI ATAFO

A look from Mai Atafo. (Photo Credit: Ebuka Mordi)

With a penchant for luxury and sophistication, Mai Atafo stands as a beacon of haute couture in Nigeria. His designs are a seamless blend of classic elegance and modern glamour, appealing to fashionistas both locally and internationally. From meticulously tailored suits to breathtaking bridal gowns, Atafo’s creations exude timeless charm and impeccable craftsmanship.

Atafo’s influence extends beyond the runway; he is also a mentor and advocate for emerging designers, nurturing talent and promoting excellence within the Nigerian fashion industry. With his eponymous label, Mai Atafo continues to elevate Nigerian fashion to new heights, one exquisite ensemble at a time.

BANKE KUKU

A look from Banke Kuku. (Photo Credit: Bella Naija)

For Banke Kuku, fabric is her canvas, and she paints with an eclectic palette of colors and patterns. Drawing inspiration from Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage and her Yoruba roots, Kuku’s designs celebrate traditional Nigerian textiles while infusing them with a contemporary twist.

Each piece by Banke Kuku tells a story, weaving together intricate motifs and bold prints to create wearable works of art. From silky pajama-inspired looks to statement accessories, her collections exude a sense of joy and individuality, inspiring women to embrace their heritage with pride and style.

CUTE-SAINT

Looks from Cute-Saint. (Photo Credit: Cute-Saint)

In the fast-paced world of streetwear, Femi Ajose, the designer behind the label Cute-Saint is making waves with his bold, edgy designs that push boundaries and defy conventions with his genderless collections. He has a finger on the pulse of urban culture, Ajose’s aesthetic is raw, rebellious, and unapologetically Nigerian.

From graphic tees adorned with Afrocentric motifs to oversized jackets, Ajose’s creations for Cute-Saint resonate with a younger audience seeking authenticity and self-expression. His brand reflects the dynamism of Nigerian youth culture, celebrating diversity and individuality in all its forms. The designer also has sustainability on his mind as all his creations are made in Nigeria with dead stock fabric that comes from prior collections or has been found at the city’s famous Yaba market.

DYE LAB BY RUKKY LADOJA

Rukky Ladoja on Building a Socially Responsible Nigerian Fashion Brand Dye Lab. (Photo Credit: Okay Africa)

In an era of eco-consciousness, Rukky Ladoja is leading the charge for sustainable fashion in Nigeria with her brand, Dye Lab. Using traditional dyeing techniques and natural materials, Ladoja creates vibrant, one-of-a-kind garments that are as kind to the planet as they are stylish.

From tie-dye dresses to hand-painted skirts, every piece from Dye Lab is a testament to Ladoja’s commitment to ethical fashion. By championing sustainable practices and supporting local artisans, she is paving the way for a more environmentally friendly future for Nigerian fashion.

EKI KERE

Nigerian Actress Nancy Isime Stuns in Eki Kere. (Photo Credit: Fashion Ghana)

With her free-spirited designs and bohemian aesthetic, Abasiekeme Ukanireh, the designer behind the label Eki Kere, captures the essence of wanderlust and adventure. Drawing inspiration from her travels across Africa and beyond, Ukanireh ‘s collections are a tapestry of cultures, textures, and colors.

From flowing kaftans to embellished headpieces, Ukanireh’s designs for Eki Kere’s evoke a sense of wanderlust and whimsy, transporting wearers to far-flung destinations with each piece. Her brand embodies the spirit of exploration and self-discovery, inviting fashion lovers to embrace their inner nomad and journey beyond the ordinary.

 

Remember to view UoF’s lessons on West African textiles.

So, tell us, do you think Africa can become the next fashion destination?

RIDING HIGH: THE RESURGENCE OF COWBOY FASHION

Beyoncé is leading the Western trend with her Country Music Album Cowboy Carter. (Photo Credit: Blair Caldwell)

Western wear has always been a fashion staple at Coachella Music Festival (which began Friday, April 12th and ends Sunday, April 22 st). But saddle up fashionistas because Western cowboy style has officially galloped back into the mainstream! From the dusty plains of Texas to the bustling streets of New York City, the iconic attire of the Wild West is strutting its stuff once again, proving that some trends never truly fade away—they just lasso their way back into the spotlight.

In a world where trends come and go faster than a tumbleweed in a prairie wind, the revival of Western wear comes as a welcome surprise. But why now, you may ask? Well, we can mostly thank celeb designers, Pharrell Williams and Beyoncé. Queen B’s Renaissance world tour marked the launch of her cowboy era, with her crystal embellished cowboy hat and silver horse, a prop used throughout her performances. The midnight release of the pop star’s new country music album, Cowboy Carter on March 29th launched the trend with songs like Texas Hold ‘Em and 16 Carriages.

Pharrell Williams reinvents the cowboy for Louis Vuitton’s Mens Fall 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: The Hollywood Reporter)

Although Beyoncé is bringing the trend with ‘guns-a -blazin’, it was Pharrell Williams for Vuitton’s Fall 2024 Menswear show that started it all  with his epic take on classic Americana and the rich heritage of Western wear. Williams’ runway was filled with embroidered, fringed, and flowered leather and denim. And let’s not forget the accessories! From intricate Western belt buckles and bolo ties to cowhide-patterned bags and classic cowboy hats.

Bella Hadid cheering on cowboy boyfriend Adan Banuelos at the American Performance Horseman event in Arlington, Texas. (Photo Credit: Getty)

So, it seems that once again the timeless allure of rugged individualism, frontier spirit, and classic Americana has captured the hearts—and wardrobes—of the fashion set.  The trend is all over social media from Instagram and TikTok thanks to Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian, Bella Hadid, Rihanna, and Travis Scott, to name a few.

The Wild West aesthetic of cowboy hats, fringe, Bolos, denim jeans, western boots, and statement buckle belt, is reaching modernity with the embrace of colors and endless combinations. As on Feb. 22, 2024, “a simple hashtag search on TikTok reveals nearly 700 inspired posts and on Instagram more than a thousand”, according to ABC News Source.

Beyoncé goes country for a W Magazine cover story. (Photo Credit: Beyoncé)

How can you rock the cowboy look at Coachella and beyond? Let’s break it down:

EMBRACE FRINGE FEVER

A look from Chloé’s Fall 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Getty)

From suede jackets to leather skirts, fringe is having a major moment in Western cowboy fashion. Channel your inner rodeo queen or cowboy renegade with a fringed vest, a tasseled bag, or even a pair of statement boots that will have you kicking up dust in style.

DUST OFF YOUR DENIM

A look from Louis Vuitton Men’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Louis Vuitton)

Denim isn’t just for jeans anymore. Western-inspired denim shirts, jackets, and even dresses are all the rage this festival season. Pair your favorite denim piece with a bold belt buckle and some cowboy boots for a look that’s equal parts rugged and chic.

GET YOUR HATS IN THE GAME

Kim Kardashian rocking a cowboy hat. (Photo Credit: @KimKardashian)

No cowboy ensemble is complete without a trusty Stetson hat. Whether you opt for a classic felt design or a more modern twist with embellishments and unique shapes, a cowboy hat adds an instant dose of Western flair to any outfit—and provides much-needed shade from the desert sun, if you happen to be attending Coachella 2024!

PLAY WITH PRINTS

Diplo is embracing the cowboy trend. (Photo Credit: Getty)

From classic plaid to Southwestern-inspired patterns, prints are key to nailing the cowboy aesthetic. Mix and match different prints for a playful yet polished look that’s sure to turn heads in the crowd.

DON’T FORGET THE ACCESSORIES

Post Malone in a bolo tie. (Photo Credit: Getty)

Bandanas, bolo ties, and statement belt buckles are all essential accessories for mastering the cowboy look. Tie a bandana around your neck, swap out your usual necklace for a bolo tie, and cinch your outfit together with a bold buckle that demands attention.

Bad Bunny rocking the cowboy trend. (Photo Credit: Telemundo)

Whether you’re dancing the night away in the desert heat or running around the city, make sure to saddle up in style. After all, with Western cowboy fashion leading the charge as one of the biggest trends of the season, there’s never been a better time to embrace your inner cowboy or cowgirl and let your spirit run wild. Giddy up!

Emily Ratajkowski is embracing the cowboy boot. (Photo Credit: Gotham)

So, tell us, will you embrace the Western trend?

 

MARCH MADNESS: THE FUSION OF SPORTS & FASHION = ATHLUXURY

Mannequins wearing sports-inspired designs by luxury designers – part of the exhibition Fashion and Sports From One Podium to Another opening this summer at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. (Photo Credit: Christophe Delliere)

March Madness isn’t just about basketball, it’s a celebration of athleticism, passion and the unbreakable bond between sports and fashion. This annual collegiate basketball extravaganza not only attracts fans with its intense matchups and Cinderella stories, but also serves as a catalyst for designers and is a vast source of inspiration. Throughout history, sports have influenced fashion, shaping trends and inspiring designers to push the boundaries of creativity. From the iconic designs of Nike’s iconic Air Jordan sneakers, to the elegance of Chanel nautical stripes, the influence of sports on fashion has been profound, shaping trends and styles. In fact, it is now a new fashion category known as  ATHLUXURY. A licensing deal with a big sneaker brand like Nike or Adidas, or a collaboration with a sports apparel company is every designer’s dream come true, just ask Ralph Lauren, Dolce & Gabanna, Moschino, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Stella McCartney, Gucci and Balenciaga, to name just a few.

A look from Dolce & Gabanna at the Fashion and Sports From one Podium to Another exhibit at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Let’s take a look at how a few iconic brands have perfectly blended fashion and sports:

NIKE: THE POWER OF ATHLETIC INNOVATION

Nike’s designer collaborations. (Photo Credit: Re-Hub)

Nike, the titan of  sport footwear, has continuously revolutionized the fashion landscape with its cutting-edge designs and unwavering commitment to athletic performance. When Michael Jordan burst onto the basketball scene in the 1980s, he not only changed the way the game was played but also revolutionized athletic footwear forever. The release of the first Air Jordan sneakers in 1985 marked the beginning of a cultural phenomenon. With their innovative design and endorsement from the greatest basketball player of all time, Air Jordans became more than just shoes; they became a symbol of urban culture and athletic luxury. Hence the term athluxury. Today, Air Jordans remain a staple in sneaker culture, influencing streetwear and high fashion alike.

Dior’s Nike Air Jordan Sneakers were created in 2020. (Photo Credit: Designboom)

Nike’s emphasis on innovation and style has not only elevated athletic footwear but has also shaped streetwear culture, cementing its status as a global fashion powerhouse. Luxury fashion houses such as Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Off-White, have all collaborated with Nike sneakers to great success.

ADIDAS: WHERE SPORTS MEETS STREET STYLE

Looks from the Adidas x Gucci Collaboration. (Photo Credit: Adidas)

With its iconic three stripes logo, Adidas has become synonymous with sporty sophistication and urban cool. The brand’s collaborations with designers like Stella McCartney, Gucci, Balenciaga, and the defunct Kanye West, have blurred the lines between sports and high fashion, introducing a new era of athleisure chic. From classic sneakers to statement tracksuits, Adidas effortlessly combines performance and style, making it a favorite among athletes and fashion enthusiasts alike.

LACOSTE: BRINGING ELEGANCE TO SPORTSWEAR

Venus Williams modeling her Lacoste x EleVen by Venus Williams collection. (Photo Credit: Lacoste)

Notorious for its iconic crocodile logo, Lacoste has been synonymous with elegance and athleticism since its inception in 1933. Founded by tennis legend René Lacoste, the brand introduced the polo shirt to the world of sports, combining style with functionality. Lacoste’s influence extends beyond the tennis court, with its classic designs inspiring countless iterations in both casual and high-end fashion.

RALPH LAUREN: FROM POLO FIELDS TO RUNWAYS

Ralph Lauren’s Team USA closing ceremony outfits for the 2022 Olympics. (Photo Credit: ABC News)

Ralph Lauren’s equestrian-inspired designs have left an indelible mark on the world of fashion, seamlessly blending the elegance of sports with the sophistication of luxury. From his iconic Polo Ralph Lauren line to the sporty-chic aesthetic of Polo Sport, the designer has redefined American style, capturing the essence of athleticism in every collection. With its timeless silhouettes and flawless craftsmanship, Ralph Lauren’s influence on sports-inspired fashion is as enduring as it is iconic. Ralph Lauren has also designed the Team USA uniforms for the Olympics and has been the official sponsor since 2014, providing the U.S. team with uniforms, outerwear, and tailored clothing that were worn during the Opening Ceremony, Welcome Dinner and during play.

STELLA MCCARTNEY: CHAMPIONING SUSTAINABLE SPORTSWEAR

A look from Adidas by Stella McCartney. (Photo Credit: Stella McCartney)

As the demand for sustainable fashion continues to grow, designers like Stella McCartney are leading the charge by reimagining sports-inspired apparel with an eco-conscious twist. From her partnership with Adidas to her own eponymous label, McCartney’s commitment to ethical fashion has garnered widespread acclaim. With her innovative use of organic materials and cruelty-free practices, McCartney proves that style and sustainability can go hand in hand, inspiring a new generation of designers to prioritize the planet without compromising on performance.

LOUIS VUITTON: ELEVATING ATHLETIC LUXURY

Looks from Louis Vuitton ski collection. (Photo Credit: Louis Vuitton)

French luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton has long been synonymous with opulence and sophistication, but in recent years the brand has embraced the world of sports with open arms. From its collaboration with Supreme to its partnership with the NBA, Louis Vuitton has redefined athletic luxury, infusing its signature style with a sporty edge. Whether it’s the iconic LV monogram on basketballs or the sleek designs of its sportswear collections, Louis Vuitton proves that sports-inspired fashion knows no bounds when it comes to luxury.

A collaboration between Louis Vuitton and Supreme at the The Fashion and SportsFrom one Podium to Another exhibit at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Louis Vuitton has also returned as the official Title Partner for the 37th edition of the America’s Cup. The luxury house will back the prestigious sailing yacht competition, which will begin in Barcelona in August 2024.

LVMH HAS BECOME A PREMIUM PARTNER OF THE OLYMPIC & PARALYMPIC GAMES PARIS 2024

LVMH will sponsor the upcoming Paris Olympics, making the games more fashion-heavy than ever. (Photo Credit: LVMH)

“This unprecedented partnership with the Olympic & Paralympic Games Paris 2024 will contribute to heightening the appeal of France around the world. It was only natural that LVMH and its Maisons be part of this exceptional international event. The values of passion, excellence and inclusion championed by high-level sports are cultivated each day by our teams, motivated by an unwavering desire to surpass limits. Sports is a tremendous source of inspiration for our Maisons, which will unite creative excellence and athletic performance by contributing their savoir-faire and bold innovation to this extraordinary celebration.” – Bernard Arnault, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of LVMH.

“From the very outset of our project we have wanted the Olympic & Paralympic Games Paris 2024 to contribute to promoting the image of our country and France’s many remarkable talents. Today, with the LVMH Group, Paris 2024 has taken a decisive step forward. LVMH already supported us during our bid for the Summer Olympics and we are thrilled to have the Group with us 100% for this exciting adventure. With its exceptional know-how, the LVMH Group will bring its immensely creative talent to this project and enable us to benefit from its extensive experience. This partnership also sends a powerful signal that France’s leading businesses are behind the Paris 2024 Games, which will let our country shine brightly around the entire world. We want to thank the LVMH Group and its artisans for their confidence and their active engagement. Together we are going to make the Paris 2024 Games a truly exceptional experience.” – Tony Estanguet, President of the Paris 2024 Olympic Committee.

THE BIRTH OF SPORTSWEAR: CHANEL AND THE NAUTICAL TREND

Coco Chanel wearing her nautical striped top. (Photo Credit: CNN)

No discussion of sports-inspired fashion would be complete without mentioning Chanel. In the early 20th century, Coco Chanel revolutionized women’s fashion by introducing elements of comfort and functionality borrowed from men’s attire. Inspired by the leisurely activities of the elite, Chanel popularized the nautical trend, incorporating sailor stripes and relaxed silhouettes into her designs. This infusion of sportswear aesthetics laid the groundwork for the modern concept of athleisure, blurring the lines between sports and high fashion.

A look from Chanel’s Cruise 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Chanel)

The French luxury house continues to draw inspiration from the world of sports, infusing its collections with elements of athleticism and leisure. Examples include the iconic Chanel tweed suit, reminiscent of traditional equestrian attire, the brand’s signature quilted handbags inspired by the jackets worn by English polo players, and the sporty-chic ensembles inspired by tennis and golf; Chanel’s sporting heritage is woven into the fabric of its DNA. With a nod to the past and an eye toward the future, Chanel continues to redefine the boundaries of luxury fashion, proving that style and athleticism are truly inseparable.

BURBERRY’S HERITAGE OF EXPLORATION: FROM THE TRENCHES TO THE TERRAIN

Luxury brands like Burberry are stepping into the sports arena. (Photo Credit: ModernRetail)

For Burberry, a brand steeped in heritage and tradition, the spirit of adventure has always been at the heart of its designs. Inspired by the rugged terrain of the British countryside and the adrenaline of outdoor sports, Burberry’s iconic trench coats and weatherproof jackets exude a sense of timeless elegance and rugged functionality. Whether braving the elements or navigating the urban jungle, Burberry effortlessly combines style with substance, embodying the essence of modern-day explorers.

PRADA’S SPORTY CHIC: EMBRACING URBAN CULTURE

Prada sneakers dedicated to the America’s Cup, launched in the Nineties. (Photo Credit: Prada)

Prada, synonymous with innovation and avant-garde style, has long embraced the fusion of sports and fashion. From its nylon backpacks inspired by utilitarian gear to its futuristic sneakers adorned with bright accents, Prada effortlessly blends athleticism with urban chic. With a finger on the pulse of street culture, the brand consistently pushes the boundaries of traditional sportswear, infusing its collections with a sense of rebellious energy that resonates with fashion-forward consumers worldwide.

Miu Miu’s Playful Aesthetic: Blending Sport and Surrealism

A look from Miu Miu’s Spring 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Miu Miu, the whimsical sister brand of Prada, embraces a playful aesthetic that seamlessly integrates elements of sport and surrealism. From retro-inspired tracksuits to embellished sneakers adorned with whimsical motifs, Miu Miu injects a sense of youthful exuberance into every collection. With its bold colors and unexpected juxtapositions, the brand challenges conventional notions of athleticism, inviting wearers to embrace their inner child and revel in the joy of self-expression.

So, tell us, can you name how many other sports that have influenced fashion?

SHAMROCK STYLE: A LOOK AT IRELAND’S FASHION LEGENDS THROUGH THE DECADES

Couturier Sybil Connolly photographed at the launch of her US collection in June 1953. (Photo Credit: Irish Independent)

March is not only known as Woman’s History Month, but it is Irish American Heritage Month as well. So, it is only fitting on St. Patrick’s Day, to pay homage to Ireland’s rich cultural heritage, including its vibrant contributions to the fashion world. From the traditional craftsmanship of tweed and lace to the avant-garde designs of contemporary couturiers, Irish fashion designers have left an indelible mark on the industry.

As we honor Ireland’s rich cultural heritage, let’s also take a moment to salute the visionary designers who have helped to put Irish fashion on the map. From the timeless elegance of Sybil Connolly to the avant-garde creations of Simone Rocha, their contributions to the world of fashion will continue to inspire generations to come. So, whether you’re donning a piece of Irish knitwear or a bold statement hat, let’s tip a beer to the creativity, innovation, and style of Ireland’s fashion legends. Sláinte!

Join UOF as we take a journey through the decades to explore the legacy of some of Ireland’s most influential fashion icons.

SYBIL CONNOLLY: DUBLIN’S DIOR

A look by Sybil Connolly. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

No discussion of Irish fashion would be complete without mentioning Sybil Connolly, often referred to as Dublin’s Dior. Connolly gained international acclaim in the 1950s and 1960s for her exquisite couture creations, which often featured traditional Irish textiles like handwoven tweed and delicate lace. Her designs were celebrated for their romantic elegance and attention to detail, earning her a devoted clientele that included Jacqueline Kennedy and Elizabeth Taylor.

IRENE GILBERT: PIONEER OF IRISH FASHION

A selection of Irene Gilbert’s designs on display at the Little Museum of Dublin. (Photo Credit: Little Museum of Dublin)

Irene Gilbert was another true pioneer of Irish fashion, breaking boundaries and challenging conventions throughout her career. Gilbert became Ireland’s first ever couturier and the first woman to successfully run a fashion business in Ireland in 1947. She was known for dressing high society ladies throughout Ireland, as well as Grace Kelly. She will forever be known as the Irish designer who helped pave the way for Irish fashion designers.

NEILLI MULCAHY: HAUTE COUTURE

Designer Neillí Mulcahy at work. (Photo Credit: Little Museum of Dublin)

Neilli Mulcahy ran an haute couture salon in Dublin from 1951 to 1970 and was known for her bold use of color and extensive use of local materials such as linen, poplin and printed wool, but specifically tweed for evening wear. Along with fashion designers Ib Jorgensen, Irene Gilbert and Clodagh Kennedy, she founded the Irish Haute Couture Group to promote Irish fashion in the U.S..

SIMONE ROCHA: A MODERN VISIONARY

Looks from Simone Rocha’s Fall 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Harper’s Bazaar)

Simone Rocha has emerged as one of the most exciting voices in contemporary fashion, blending elements of Irish tradition with a distinctly modern sensibility. Since launching her eponymous label in 2010, Rocha has garnered widespread acclaim for her romantic yet rebellious designs, which often feature delicate embroidery, voluminous silhouettes, and unexpected twists on femininity. Her ability to seamlessly blend the old with the new has cemented her status as a true fashion visionary.

ORLA KIELY: QUEEN OF PRINTS

Orla Kiely and her playful bags. (Photo Credit: The Times)

Orla Kiely’s bold prints and retro-inspired designs have made her a household name in the world of fashion. Since founding her label in the late 1990s, Kiely has become known for her playful yet sophisticated aesthetic, which often draws inspiration from mid-century modernism and vintage motifs. Her iconic stem print, in particular, has become synonymous with her brand and has been featured on everything from handbags to home goods.

PHILLIP TRACY: MASTER MILLINER

Naomi Campbell modeling Philip Treacy’s iconic butterfly hat. (Photo Credit: Vanity Fair)

Phillip Treacy is not only one of Ireland’s most celebrated fashion designers but also one of the world’s foremost milliners. Known for his whimsical and avant-garde approach to hat design, Treacy has created iconic headpieces for everyone from royalty to pop stars. His sculptural creations push the boundaries of traditional millinery, transforming hats into works of art that defy convention and captivate the imagination. Camilla Parker wore a Philip Treacy hat at her wedding with Prince Charles in 2005. He’s also created hats for some f the most iconic women including Madonna, Lady Gaga, Princess Beatrice of York, Victoria Posh Beckham, Isabella Blow and Sarah Jessica Parker. Treacy has also created runway hats for Alexander McQueen, Marc Jacobs, and Valentino, to name just a few.

JW ANDERSON: REDEFINING FASHION

A look by JW Anderson’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Lauchmetrics)

Joathan Anderson has earned a reputation as one of the fashion industry’s most innovative and boundary-pushing designers for his label JW Anderson. Born in Northern Ireland, Anderson has become known for his gender-fluid designs and eclectic aesthetic, which often combines elements of British and Irish heritage with a modern twist. His eponymous label has garnered critical acclaim for its bold silhouettes, unexpected fabric combinations, and subversive approach to fashion.

LOUISE KENNEDY: TIMELESS ELEGANCE

Various looks from Louise Kennedy. (Photo Credit: Forbes)

Louise Kennedy is synonymous with timeless elegance, thanks to her sophisticated designs and impeccable tailoring. Since launching her label in the 1980s, Kennedy has dressed everyone from royalty to Hollywood stars, earning a reputation for her classic yet contemporary aesthetic. Her luxurious creations often feature clean lines, luxurious fabrics, and subtle embellishments, embodying the epitome of understated glamour. In 2013, Kennedy was called the “uncrowned queen of Irish fashion”.

SINEAD O’DWYER: PUSHING BOUNDARIES

Looks from Sinead O’Dwyer’s Fall 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Yahoo)

Sinead O’Dwyer is a rising star in the world of fashion, known for her boundary-pushing designs and commitment to inclusivity. O’Dwyer’s work often challenges traditional notions of beauty and body ideals, celebrating diversity and self-expression. Through her experimental use of materials and avant-garde silhouettes, she seeks to challenge the status quo and redefine the parameters of fashion.

PAUL COSTELLOE: FASHION ROYALTY

Princess Diana wearing a Paul Costelloe suit. (Photo Credit: ncweb)

With a career spanning over five decades, Paul Costelloe is a true Irish fashion legend. Known for his exquisite tailoring and timeless designs, Costelloe has dressed everyone from Princess Diana, Laura Whitmore, Vogue Williams and Binky Felstead. His eponymous label embodies the essence of classic elegance, with a modern twist, earning him a loyal following around the world.

So, tell us, which Irish designers have inspired you?

Celebrating Women’s History Month: A Tribute to Fashion’s Inspiring Muses

Jean Paul Gaultier and his muse Madonna. (Photo Credit: Herb Ritts)

Happy Woman’s History Month! As we celebrate women and their innumerable accomplishments, UOF would like to pay tribute to the many fashionable women, throughout history, have inspired some of the most influential designers through the decades. Like they say…”behind every great man is a great woman”!

Givenchy and Hepburn go for a stroll together in Paris in an undated photo. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

In the world of fashion, the relationship between designers and their muses is a tale as old as time, a symbiotic dance of  inspiration, creativity and innovation. Throughout history, these duos have shaped the very essence of style, leaving an indelible mark on the fashion landscape. From the glamour of the Golden Age of Hollywood to the avant-garde runways of Paris, the bond between male designers and their muses has been a driving force behind some of the most iconic fashion moments. To prove it, we are dedicating this blog to some of these timeless partnerships and would like to hear from YOU as to others you may be in the ‘know’ about and want to share.

PAUL POIRET AND DENISE BOULET

“My wife is the inspiration for my creations, she is the expression of all my ideals,” Poiret said. Here is the designer with his wife Denise Boulet. (Photo Credit: Getty)

At the dawn of the 20th century, Paul Poiret revolutionized fashion with his bold designs and visionary approach. Central to his creative vision was his wife, Denise Boulet. Poiret’s muse and collaborator, Boulet embodied the spirit of his designs, infusing them with grace and elegance. Together, they pioneered the shift from restrictive corsets to flowing, avant-garde silhouettes, forever changing the course of fashion.

HUBERT DE GIVENCHY AND AUDREY HEPBURN

Hubert de Givenchy and his muse Audrey Hepburn in 1988. (Photo Credit: The New York Times)

In the enchanting world of couture, few partnerships have captured the imagination quite like that of Hubert de Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn. Their collaboration began serendipitously when Hepburn, seeking a wardrobe for the film Sabrina,  crossed paths with Givenchy. The rest, as they say, is history. Hepburn became the epitome of chic sophistication, while Givenchy’s timeless designs adorned her with unparalleled elegance, creating an enduring legacy of style.

CHRISTIAN DIOR AND MIZA BRICARD

Christian Dior’s and his muse Mizza Bricard. (Photo Credit: MilkX TW)

In the aftermath of World War II, Christian Dior emerged as a beacon of hope, ushering in a new era of luxury and opulence with his iconic New Look. Central to his creative vision was Miza Bricard, his muse and confidante. With her impeccable taste and innate sense of style, Bricard inspired Dior to redefine femininity, thus shaping the fashion landscape for generations to come.

COCO CHANEL

Coco Chanel in her Paris apartment. (Photo Credit: Architectural Digest)

Not only male designers had muses. A fiercely independent Coco Chanel was her own muse, embodying the liberated spirit of the modern woman. Chanel’s timeless designs, from the iconic little black dress to the revolutionary Chanel suit, continues to resonate with women worldwide, a testament to her enduring legacy.

YVES SAINT LAURENT, BETTY CATROUX AND LOULOU DE LA FALAISE

Designer Yves Saint Laurent, Betty Catroux and Loulou de la Falaise. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Yves Saint Laurent’s illustrious career was defined by his close relationships with muses Betty Catroux and Loulou de la Falaise. With their androgynous allure and bohemian spirit, Catroux and de la Falaise inspired Saint Laurent to push the boundaries of fashion, creating groundbreaking designs that captured the zeitgeist of the era.

ROY HALSTON AND LIZA MINNELLI

Halston with his muse Liza Minnelli. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

In the dazzling world of Studio 54, Roy Halston reigned supreme, transforming American fashion with his minimalist yet glamorous aesthetic. At the heart of his creative vision was Liza Minnelli, the iconic entertainer whose charisma and allure captivated audiences worldwide. Together, they epitomized the hedonistic glamour of the ’70s, leaving an indelible mark on fashion history.

BOB MACKIE AND CHER

Bob Mackie and his muse Cher. (Photo Credit: Elle)

Few partnerships have ignited the imagination quite like that of Bob Mackie and Cher. With her fearless style and boundary-pushing creativity, Cher became Mackie’s muse, inspiring some of the most unforgettable looks in fashion history. From the infamous sheer gown at the 1974 Met Gala to the elaborate costumes of her concert tours, Mackie’s designs transformed Cher and secured this duo’s place in fashion history books.

AZZEDINE ALAÏA AND GRACE JONES

Azzedine Alaïa and his muse Grace Jones. (Photo Credit: L’Officiel)

Azzedine Alaïa and Grace Jones forged a legendary partnership defined by their shared passion for sexy, avant-garde design. Jones’s striking beauty and fearless attitude inspired Alaïa to create sculptural masterpieces that defied convention, blurring the lines between fashion and art.

RALPH AND RICKY LAUREN

Ralph Lauren with his wife and muse Ricky Lauren. (Photo Credit: Architectural Digest)

Ralph Lauren’s iconic brand epitomizes the American Dream, embodying a vision of timeless elegance and sophistication. Central to his creative vision is his wife, Ricky Lauren, whose impeccable taste and refined sensibility have shaped the brand’s aesthetic for decades, creating a legacy of enduring style and luxury.

MARC JACOBS AND SOFIA COPPOLA

Marc Jacobs and his muse Sofia Coppola. (Photo Credit: L’Officiel)

Another dynamic duo is Marc Jacobs and Sofia Coppola. This creative partnership is defined by their shared love of art, culture, and style. Coppola’s effortless chic and understated elegance inspired Jacobs to create designs that resonate with women of all ages, blurring the lines between fashion and culture.

GIANNI AND DONATELLA VERSACE

Gianni Versace and his muse Donatella Versace. (Photo Credit: Elle)

Gianni Versace’s bold, provocative designs epitomized the excess and glamour of the ’80s and ’90s. Central to his creative vision was his sister, Donatella, whose fierce style and unwavering support propelled the Versace brand to international acclaim, creating a legacy of bold, daring fashion that continues to captivate the world. When Gianni was murdered in 1997, Donatella took control of the Italian Luxury brand and kept her brother’s legacy alive.

HERMÈS AND JANE BIRKIN

Jane Birkin and her namesake bag created by Jean-Louis Dumas of Hermes. (Photo Credit: Wonderland)

The former chairman of Hermès, Jean-Louis Dumas met actress Jane Birkin in 1984 and witnessed the contents of Birkin’s carry-on bag fall out while on a flight.  In a 2015 interview with The Telegraph, Birkin recounted that Dumas, who was sitting next to Birkin, said, “you should have one with pockets.” Birkin replied, “The day Hermès make one with pockets I will have that”, and he said: “But I am Hermès and I will put pockets in for you.”  Shortly after the two collaborated, the Birkin was created, becoming one of the most covetable accessories in fashion history. It has been reinvented many times since it was first introduced to the public in the 1980s. The Hermès bag’s classic elements include two rolled handles, a flap top, a touret, a clochette, and four clou “feet” and is available in sizes, 20, 25, 30, 40, 42 and 50 centimeters, some featuring exotic crocodile skin paired with diamond-encrusted white gold hardware. Today, there’s a year’s long wait list with some vintage Birkin bags selling for up to $2 million. Now that’s one successful female muse collaboration!

Care to share your designer muse story?

 

MOVE OVER HERITAGE BRANDS- THERE’S SOME NEW KIDS IN TOWN PART 2

- - Fashion Shows

Looks from Feben’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

In the vibrant world of fashion, Milan and Paris stand as bastions of innovation, creativity, and timeless elegance. With their rich cultural heritage, a plethora of heritage brands and unwavering dedication to craftsmanship, these fashion capitals have finally opened their arms to new design talent. This week’s blog is part two in our coverage of fashion’s newest darlings.

Initiatives such as fashion incubators, mentorship programs, and grants are gaining momentum, providing invaluable support to emerging designers as they embark on their creative journeys. Through these initiatives, Milan and Paris are reaffirming their commitment to fostering the next generation of fashion visionaries and ensuring that their legacies endure for years to come.

By embracing and nurturing young talent, they are not only preserving their rich sartorial heritage, but are also pushing the boundaries of creativity and innovation. As emerging designers continue to make their mark on the global stage, one thing is certain: the future of fashion shines bright in the hands of those who dare to dream in the shadow of Milan and Paris.

MILAN

Milan, Italy’s fashion capital, is synonymous with luxury and sophistication. It’s a city where tradition seamlessly intertwines with modernity, providing a fertile ground for emerging designers to thrive. One of the defining features of Milan’s fashion scene is its commitment to craftsmanship and attention to detail, traits that are instilled in aspiring designers from the outset.

Milan’s Fashion Week serves as a platform for emerging designers to showcase their collections alongside established fashion houses. This exposure not only catapults their careers but also solidifies Milan’s position as a nurturing hub for burgeoning talent.

Here are a few of Milan’s emerging designers:

FEBEN

A look from Feben’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

This season, Feben was selected and sponsored by Dolce & Gabbana. Feben, is a London designer with Ethiopian roots who was born in North Korea and grew up in Sweden.

A Central Saint Martins 2020 graduate, Feben sells her designs to established retailers, Ssense and Browns. She is known for her colorful, form-fitting clothes and has developed a cult following with celebrities like Beyoncé, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, and Janelle Monáe.

The designer often plays with texture in her work, and claims “Because if you can work with textures, you can create really cool things.” She went on in an interview with Vogue: “I want you to feel something, either with your eyes, heart, or your hands, and I find texture so fun.” This season Feben cut her signature puckered “Twist” dresses in velvet, which was oh so flattering.

MICHAELA STARK LAUNCHED HER NEW LINGERIE LINE PANTY

A look from Panty’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Michaela Stark)

Australian artist/designer Michaela Stark’s bold lingerie and ready-to-wear line, Panty, goes up to a size 5XL, which is truly size inclusive. The collection is a celebration of all body types with its transparent bloomers, corsets, garters and baby-doll dresses. Panty celebrates the body’s natural curves and does not conceal them with rigid shapewear. Stark showcased her debut collection in Milan at the Fondazione Sozzani via an exhibition and a performance called “Michaela Stark’s Panty Show.” “I put an obscene amount of time into making lingerie that makes fat desirable,” Stark told Kerry Olsen for The New York Times.

Stark launched her couture business in 2022, operating on a made-to-order basis. She has quickly become known for creating avant-garde pieces created from corsets and ribbons. The pieces are constructed with strategically placed holes to create bulges or cradle the curve of a breast or stomach, according to Vogue Business.

Stark’s creations has been featured in photoshoots for a number of publications, including Vogue Italia, Dazed and Perfect magazine. She has also collaborated with Jean Paul Gaultier and in September 2023, was selected to design a capsule for the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, as the brand’s aim is to be size inclusive.

SAGABOI

A look from Sagaboi’s Fall 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Tagwalk)

Sagaboi was founded in 2015 by Geoff K. Cooper. The label is inspired by the Caribbean region’s culture, history, lifestyle, people and practices. So naturally for his Milan Fashion Week debut, Cooper brought Caribbean Flair to Milan with a calypso music-filled show for both his menswear and womenswear collections.

Cooper’s background was not in design, according to WWD, he was a menswear editor. Launching Sagaboi was very personal to him because he wanted to give a voice to the Caribbean culture he felt was underrepresented in the industry. Drawing its name from the West Indian word meaning “a playboy” or someone who dresses fashionably, the collection captures the essence of the Caribbean with vibrant colored skirts, tailored suits, fanciful furs, and a nod to safari.

PARIS

Across the border, Paris exudes an aura of romance and refinement that transcends generations. As the birthplace of haute couture, the city is revered for its unparalleled craftsmanship and visionary design. However, Parisian fashion isn’t just about adhering to tradition; it’s about pushing boundaries and challenging conventions. Young designers flock to Paris, drawn by its reputation as a melting pot of creativity and innovation.

During Paris Fashion Week, the world’s fashion elite converge to witness the unveiling of groundbreaking collections by both established and emerging designers. This global stage provides young talents with a rare opportunity to showcase their work on an international platform, attracting attention from buyers, influencers, and press alike.

Here are a few of Paris’ emerging designers:

MAXHOSA AFRICA

Looks from Maxhosa Africa’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: WWD)

South African designer Laduma Ngxokolo launched his Maxhosa Africa label in 2011 at the age of 24. The designer studied textile and pattern design in school before pursuing a degree in textile design and technology at Nelson Mandela University in his hometown of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. He then received his 2-year master’s degree at London’s Central Saint Martins.

A Missoni fan, Ngxokolo viewed knitwear as the best medium to translate traditional beadwork. These techniques rely on networks of pixel-like units — a stitch or a bead — but the Italian brand’s artistic approach echoed the way he wanted to “apply our [Xhosa] art in an African-centric way,” he stated in a WWD interview.

While it’s important for Ngxokolo to preserve his cultural heritage, he is adamant that people approach the brand as a high-end fashion line, one that is “sacred on the celebration of culture.”  He believes that  “Culture is magnificent and therefore can be celebrated globally as much as people celebrate heritage. My culture is bold and extravagant but the point I wanted to prove is that culture can be fashionable, tasteful and worn on a daily basis — if done right.”

RENAISSANCE RENAISSANCE

Looks from Renaissance Renaissance’s fall 2024 collection. (Photo Credit: WWD)

For designer Cynthia Merhej, her label Renaissance Renaissance is the story of renewal and keeping hope alive in the direst of  circumstances, as the name indicates.

Merhej grew up in the aftermath of Lebanon’s 30-year civil war, “everything was decimated and was just starting to be reconstructed,” the designer recalled to WWD. “A lot of what I learned about design, culture, art and so on came from a huge curiosity and desire to see what’s out there.”

Leaving Lebanon for London, the designer pursued visual communication and illustration courses at Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art. “But everything I was doing inevitably led back to fashion, my first love, [particularly] as the way I saw storytelling was always through clothes,” she said to WWD. After all, her mother, aunt, and great-grandmother all had ateliers of their own.

Merhej created her first collection in 2019, and in 2020 she was selected as part of Net-a-porter’s Vanguard program in 2020. The brand was on the way up when COVID-19 struck. To make matters worse, when she was back home in Beirut, the 2020 explosion at the city’s port happened, which left hundreds dead, thousands injured and scores without homes or livelihoods. “It was really like being stuck on a roller coaster and not knowing when it’s going to end,” she said to WWD. Yet she proceeded. Merhej opened an atelier for her brand Renaissance Renaissance in the Lebanese capital in 2022. The designer produces her collection in her homeland to foster creativity after all the trauma in her country.

Bringing her collections to Paris has already put Merhej’s work on fashionista radars. She was chosen to create the costumes for an upcoming adaptation of “Bonjour Tristesse,” the 1954 novel by French author Françoise Sagan, starring Chloë Sevigny.

JULIE KEGELS

A look from Julie Kegel’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: WWD)

“For me, it’s all about finding a balance between beauty and ugliness, seriousness and ridiculousness because while designing I just want to have fun,” Belgian designer Julie Kegels told WWD ahead of her debut collection. “I also want to feel a lot of emotions while also coming out of my comfort zone.”

Fashion design was a dream Kegels wanted since childhood, after all, her father worked in accessories and bags. She attended the Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts’ prestigious fashion department, where she sharpened her skill under the wings of Walter Van Beirendonck and Dirk Van Saene. She’s also worked under Pieter Mulier at Alaïa.

Eventually, she launched her namesake brand Julie Kegels. “I always had in mind the desire to start something when the time was right, but I thought that if I waited too long, I’d be a bit afraid,” she said in an interview with WWD.

 

So, if you are an aspiring and/or an up-and-coming designer, we hope this blog post will give you some encouragement. Passion is everything. So are the right skills. That’s why the mission of the University of Fashion has always been “Learn fashion design, one step at a time”.

 

So, tell us, as an emerging designer which city would you want to unveil your brand?

 

 

MOVE OVER HERITAGE BRANDS- THERE’S SOME NEW KIDS IN TOWN

- - Fashion Shows

Looks from Agbobly’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Move over Marc (Jacobs), Michael (Kors), Ralph (Lauren), Stella (McCartney) and all of you French heritage brands, there’s some new kids in town who are nipping at your heels. While the fashion capitals of the world, New York, London , Milan and Paris have long been touted as the breeding grounds for creativity, innovation, and style, it is really the up & comers are making their way into the spotlight. No, they can’t afford million dollar fashion show productions like the big guns but thanks to social media and and tons of talent, there is a new crop of young designers who are stealing the spotlight and captivating audiences with their fresh perspectives and daring designs.

From avant-garde creations to sustainable fashion statements, these young designers are not only making a name for themselves but are reshaping the fashion landscape as we know it.

In New York, the runway buzzed with excitement as designers like Jacques Agbobly and Meruert Tolegen made their fashion week debut, infusing the city’s fashion scene with a sense of youthful energy. Their collections, inspired by a fusion of cultural influences and personal experiences, offered a refreshing take on modern elegance. From striking silhouettes to unexpected fabric combinations, each piece told a story, inviting viewers to embark on a journey of sartorial exploration.

Meanwhile, across the pond in London, a similar sense of innovation permeated the catwalks as emerging talents such as Talia Byre and Zeng Yue, the creative directors for Momonary, captivated audiences with their bold vision. Embracing diversity and inclusivity, their collections celebrated individuality in all its forms, challenging traditional notions of beauty and style. With nods to streetwear and couture alike, these designers showcased the eclectic spirit of London’s fashion scene, where creativity knows no bounds.

But beyond the glamour of the runway, the importance of young designers presenting their collections extends far deeper. In an industry often dominated by established names and commercial giants, Fashion Week provides a crucial platform for emerging talents to make their mark. It’s a chance for them to share their unique perspective, connect with industry insiders, and gain invaluable exposure globally.

A look from Kate Barton’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Moreover, the rise of young designers signifies a broader shift towards sustainability and ethical practices within the fashion industry. Many emerging talents are placing greater emphasis on eco-conscious design, opting for organic materials, ethical production methods, and zero-waste principles. By championing sustainability, these designers are not only shaping the future of fashion but also driving positive change within the industry as a whole.

In a world where creativity knows no bounds, the importance of supporting young designers cannot be overstated. Their fresh ideas, bold experimentation, and fearless innovation are the lifeblood of the fashion industry, driving it forward into uncharted territory. As we reflect on the Fall 2024 shows in New York and London, let us celebrate the next generation of talent and embrace the endless possibilities they bring to the world of fashion. Because after all, the University of Fashion is the breeding ground for training new talent.

So, here’s to the dreamers, trailblazers and visionaries—these new young designers are reshaping the future of fashion, one collection at a time.

NEW YORK FASHION WEEK 2024

AGBOBLY

A look from Agbobly’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Jacques Agbobly is a 26-year-old designer whose namesake knitwear brand, Agbobly, honors the designer’s Togolese heritage while celebrating Black culture. Stemming from the designer’s first brand, BlackBoyKnits, Agbobly embodies numerous layers of the designer’s identity, through colorful knit pieces that tell a story with every stitch.

“Grateful,” Jacques Agbobly told WWD, a few minutes before his first show at New York Fashion Week. This up-and-comer was WWD ‘s One to Watch honor and was also just nominated for the LVMH Prize. Fall served as a “bienvenue” he said to WWD, a welcome to his work, his culture and his skills at a time when a lot of industry eyes are directed at the brand.

Agbobly seamlessly merges his Chicago and Togolese (African) roots in his collection. Western-inspired shirts with detailed topstitching came from watching countless western movies, while his suits had flashes of the Togo flag colors. The collection also featured plenty of bold knitwear, which is quickly becoming his signature look. Agbobly also played with eveningwear with a vibrant green corset minidress, proving that the designer is more than a one-trick pony.

MERUERT TOLEGEN

A look from Meruert Tolegen’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: WWD)

New York-based designer Meruert Tolegen presented her first runway show with a calming, romance-tinged fall collection. After debuting her namesake label in 2020, the bio-scientist turned fashion designer has honed in on mixing elements from her Kazakh culture and her New York life, with fanciful, and often historical fashion, touches.

“I’ve been exploring a lot with textures in previous seasons. This time, I haven’t shifted focus — I’m still mixing fabrics, but in a smarter way. In the creative aspect, I wanted to balance that with creating those interesting shapes and prints, which add to the quirkiness,” she explained backstage to WWD. Her whimsical “floral” print, was created with AI tools, and was seen on the season’s myriad sweet dresses and quilted topcoat. It’s actually a motif of flying ghosts, “which ties into that search of yourself, which is what the season is quite a bit about.”

In her runway debut, Tolegen featured bustiers, fitted shapes and interesting volumes,  crafting a mix of calico dresses, voluminous mantle, and pannier gowns. But the real winners of the collection were her bow-adorned, beaded, and ruffle-trimmed romantic dresses.

Tolegen also introduced menswear for the first time. “Let men be whimsical as well,” she said to WWD. And UOF couldn’t agree more.

NIGEL XAVIER

Looks from Nigel Xavier’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Nigel Xavier completed in Netflix’s show, “Next in Fashion” and went from reality TV star to fashion week darling. His unique upcycled designs struck a chord with judges and viewers, as he won the show’s second season last year.

“It was the perfect opportunity for me to just show all my talents because I always approached [design] from a more art standpoint than just fashion design,” he told WWD. “There, I could actually show just one piece and not have to worry about the business side of it. It was just like tailor-made for how I approached fashion this whole time. Then I got the win and now I’m just building the brand to be even more on that fashion house level, rather than just staying in the mode of what I’ve done before.”

Tapestry Collection is the title of Xavier’s debut collection, which continues the nostalgic vibe he’s always incorporates in his pieces. The limited-drop collection offers puffer jackets and trousers made from upcycled tapestries depicting images of angels, wolves, eagles, and other motifs. Xavier is making sustainability oh so fashion forward.

LONDON FASHION WEEK 2024

TALIA BYRE

A look from Talia Byre’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Who doesn’t love a stripe?  Talia Byre sure does. They were the central motif in her collection, which included every incarnation from Breton to candy and awning to pin.

Not only was the designer inspired by her love of stripes, but she also looked to the artist Amedeo Modigliani’s portraits of Beatrice Hastings, his longtime partner. The color palette took cues from Modigliani’s hues of browns and tans, with pops of blue and red.

“This season we wanted to hone the silhouette. We added collars, detailing, zip trims, but stayed true to our quite tight silhouette with flared flamenco hem,” the designer explained to WWD.

LUCILA SAFDIE

A look from Lucila Safdie’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Lucila Safdie’s emerging brand is an expression of femininity and empowerment, but with a flirty, girlish twist.

Motivated by the writer Sylvia Path’s work “The Bell Jar”, Safdie created a collection inspired by ’50s shapes, but with a more contemporary edge. Safdie told WWD, her label has a “schoolgirl, coming-of-age aesthetic of my brand”. 

The line-up was filled with A-line mini dresses, as well as cropped polo shirts and jackets. There were also low-waisted denim trousers, slouchy shirts and leggings.

MOMONARY

Looks from Momonary’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Zeng Yue, the creative director for the brand Momonary, was inspired by map-making and said in an interview with WWD, the aim was to layer lightweight material to create a heavily textured look. “Thin, map-printed chiffon layers cascade, revealing the ever-changing terrain. Gold-stitched embroidery flowers act as coordinates, marking our journey.”

Yue worked with a delicate wash of soft pastels and adding fragile floral and sparkling crystal appliqués to the collection.

For fall, Yue also created a partnership with 3M and used the organization’s animal-free loose fill insulation for outerwear. They were quilted and dotted with fluttering silk flowers and were paired with wide-leg trousers and bubble skirts.

FINANCIAL CHALLENGES YOUNG DESIGNERS FACE

Designer Carly Mark of Puppets and Puppets presented her final RTW collection deciding to shift her focus to accessories only. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Amidst the glamour of fashion, young designers encounter a formidable foe: financial hurdles that threaten to overshadow their creative vision.

In the competitive landscapes of fashion capitals, the journey from sketchbook to runway is fraught with challenges, particularly for those at the dawn of their careers. For budding designers, the quest for financial stability can feel like navigating a labyrinth, with numerous obstacles blocking the path to success.

One of the foremost challenges facing young designers in New York and London is the exorbitant cost of living and operating a business. In both cities, sky-high rents for studio spaces and storefronts devour a significant portion of a designer’s budget before a single garment hits the market. Securing a prime location in SoHo or Covent Garden may be a dream, but the reality often entails sacrificing profitability for visibility.

Moreover, the expenses associated with production and materials add another layer of complexity to the financial puzzle. From sourcing high-quality fabrics to hiring skilled artisans, the costs can quickly spiral out of control, especially for independent designers with limited resources. While mass production offers economies of scale, it dilutes the artisanal essence that sets emerging designers apart in a sea of fast fashion.

In the age of social media and influencer marketing, establishing a brand presence is essential for success. However, building a strong online presence requires a significant investment in digital marketing and e-commerce platforms. From website development to targeted advertising campaigns, the costs can accumulate rapidly, leaving young designers grappling with the dilemma of allocating limited funds between creativity and commerce.

Despite these formidable challenges, the resilience and ingenuity of young designers continue to shine through. Many have embraced innovative approaches to circumvent financial barriers and carve out their niche in the competitive fashion landscape. Collaborations with established brands and retailers offer a mutually beneficial opportunity to gain exposure and access additional resources, albeit with compromises on creative control.

Furthermore, the rise of sustainable and ethical fashion presents a silver lining for environmentally conscious designers seeking to differentiate themselves in a crowded market. By prioritizing transparency and responsible sourcing practices, they not only appeal to a socially conscious consumer base, but also align with the values of a younger generation increasingly disillusioned with the excesses of fast fashion.

In recent years, initiatives such as mentorship programs and incubators have emerged to support aspiring designers in overcoming financial obstacles and realizing their entrepreneurial ambitions. Through guidance from industry veterans and access to funding opportunities, these programs empower young designers to navigate the complex terrain of fashion business with greater confidence and resilience.

Ultimately, while financial hurdles may persist for New York and London’s young designers, they are not insurmountable. With perseverance, creativity, and strategic thinking, emerging talents can defy the odds and carve out a niche for themselves in the fiercely competitive world of fashion. As they navigate the highs and lows of entrepreneurship, they embody the spirit of innovation that defines the cultural fabric of their beloved cities.

So, tell us, what is the biggest challenge you’re facing as an emerging designer?