University of Fashion Blog

Category "Current Topics in Fashion"

CELEBRITY FASHION BRANDS – THEN & NOW

Nicole Richie’s House of Harlow 1960, Revolve Team on New Collection. (Photo Credit: House of Harlow 1960 x Revolve)

For decades, citizens of the world have looked up to their favorite celebrities and tried to emulate their sartorial choices. With the rise of the internet and social media it has only amplified the public’s celebrity obsession. Celebs are not only praised for their talent as musicians and/or actors, but also as tastemakers, which, more often than not, involves finding the right stylist. These stylist/celeb collaborations even have the power to make or break a trend, as we learned in last week’s blog post about Clark Gable’s ditching of his undershirt in the movie It happened One Night that sent the men’s underwear industry into chaos. And so, it’s no surprise that many celebrities decided to add ‘designer’ to their resume by creating brands that reflect their (and their stylist’s) personal style.

But alas! Celebrity fashion branding is nothing new, in fact, it actually dates back to the 1800s when renowned opera singers and dancers helped set the trends. One of the first celebrity fashion lines was created by Jenny Lind, a Swedish opera singer, who in 1850, became a cultural phenomenon in the United States. As a result of positive reviews and off the chart ticket sales generated from her first American tour with P.T. Barnum, Lind began to produce a range of Jenny Lind-branded merchandise that consisted of gloves, shawls, bonnets, and other fashionable pieces. While no one could confirm if Lind had any actual design input on the products baring her name, it became apparent that celebrity idolization and branding were here to stay.

Pamphlet advertising Irene Castle Corticelli Fashions, 1925. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Hagley Museum and Library)

With the introduction of cinema in the early 1920s, celebrity infatuation really began to soar. Ballroom dancer and silent film star Irene Castle, started the first true celebrity fashion brand circa 1917. Thie starlet was named the “Best-dressed Woman in America” at the time and was credited with designing her own collection in partnership with textile manufacturer, Corticelli Silks under the label, Irene Castle Corticelli Fashions. The high-end ready-to-wear collection was filled with glamorous gowns that Castle not only helped design, but also promote. Her role as designer/model/promoter helped create the rubric for celebrity driven brands of the future. Fun fact: Castle is also credited with popularizing the ‘bob’ haircut.

Earhart, putting finishing touches on a sleeve. (Photo Credit: Bettmann/ Getty Images)

Amelia Earhart became a household name in 1934 as the first woman pilot to successfully complete a trans-Atlantic flight. Married to George Putnam, whose family ran the successful publishing firm, G.P. Putnam & Sons Inc., her husband helped pay for her flying by coordinating Earhart’s press tours and endorsements, including lending her name to a luggage collection under the Baltimore Luggage Company. The Amelia Earhart luggage collection was produced from 1933 up until the 1970s. In addition, Earhart lent her name to a clothing collection in 1934 that was launched in 30 major cities, consisting of affordable clothes for active women. While it is recorded that Earhart’s designs themselves did not stand out from others at the time, it is believed that hers was the first collection sold as separates, meaning, women were able to buy a differently sized top to accompany their skirts.

For decades, the concept of celebrity fashion lines only increased and prospered with brands by socialite Gloria Vanderbilt, tennis star René Lacoste, super-model Twiggy, and Charlie’s Angels actress Jaclyn Smith  who found success with her women’s fashion collection for Kmart. Countless others would follow list is dizzying.

By the 2000s, celebrity fashion exploded, mostly due to the effect of influencer marketing and the internet. An insatiable public just couldn’t get enough of what their fav celebs were wearing or promoting on the red carpet, on their social media channels, or on TV. In the early 2000s, you weren’t a big star unless you launched a fashion line.

Jennifer Lopez Center with her models all dressed in her brand Sweetface which launced in 2001 but shuttered in 2009. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Early adopters of the celebrity fashion brand craze were celebs with mega star power such as Jennifer Lopez, Eve, Beyoncé’s House of Deréon, Gwen Stefani, and Lindsay Lohan’s short-lived stint for Emanuel Ungaro, which was a total disaster. While many celebrity fashion lines have come and gone, there are a number of them that have stood the test of time.

Here are a few of the most successful celebrity lines:

The Row

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen at the 2018 CFDA Fashion Awards. (Photo Credit: Angela Weiss/ Getty Images)

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have been in the spotlight since they were babies. The twins made their acting debut as infants (they were only 9 months old when they began filming) on the television series Full House. By the time they were six, Mary-Kate and Ashley were starring together in TV, film, and video projects, which they continued throughout their teenage years. Thanks to their company Dualstar, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are ranked as two of the wealthiest women in the entertainment industry at a young age.

A Spring 2022 look from The Row. (Photo Credit: The Row)

As the Olsen twins became young adults, their effortless, cool-girl style began evolving and they became fashion icons. The Olsen’s quietly launched The Row in 2006, and insisted on not giving any interviews about the label for three years, as they wanted to be taken seriously as luxury designers and not be seen as a ‘celebrity brand’. The collection is filled with luxurious, chic, minimalistic pieces, all at a high-end designer price-point. The Row can be found at Bergdorf Goodman, Net-A-Porter, Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as in their own boutiques. By 2012, they won their first CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year award, strengthening their status in the American fashion scene.

Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham channels a chic, minimalistic style. (Photo Credit: Karim Jaafar/AFP)

Who would have ever believed that pop star Victoria Beckham (of the British band Spice Girls) would turn out to be one of the most well-known fashion designers worldwide? Married to soccer star David Beckham, the singer-turned-designer was determined to shed her pop star image and be taken seriously as a luxury designer.

A Resort 2022 look from Victoria Beckham. (Photo Credit: Victoria Beckham)

Victoria Beckham launched her namesake label in 2008 with a low-key presentation but soon became a fixture at New York Fashion Week. Beckham’s collection is always filled with elegant and sophisticated ready-to-wear looks focusing on clothes that real women want to wear, all in luxurious fabrics. Beckham also offers lavish leather bags that are handmade in Italy as well as shoes and sunglasses. Her collection can be purchased on Net-A-Porter, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and a number of other high-end boutiques.

In 2011, Victoria Beckham launched a diffusion line, Victoria By Victoria Beckham. By 2014, she opened her first brick and mortar store on Dover Street and in 2017, designed an affordable Victoria Beckham range for the American retailer Target.

Beckham was awarded an OBE for her services to fashion and was honored by Prince William at an awards ceremony in Buckingham Palace. When she received her award from the Duke of Cambridge, she naturally wore her own creation.

Jessica Simpson

Jessica Simpson in her namesake label’s spring 2021 campaign. (Photo Credit: Jessica Simpson)

In terms of dollars and cents, one of the most successful fashion brands is The Jessica Simpson Collection. The singer and reality television star may not be as fashion forward and stylish as her counterparts, but her name and personality resonate with many consumers. Love her or hate her, Simpson is laughing her way to the bank.

Launched in 2006 as a shoe collection with business partner Vince Camuto,  Simpson rapidly expanded her brand to include clothing, sunglasses, handbags, accessories, and jewelry. Every year since 2010, the Jessica Simpson label has reportedly pulled in about $1 billion in annual sales and is the first clothing company owned by a celebrity ever to break this figure. The label now sells pieces in 30 different product categories in major department stores across America.

“I want to make every woman feel confident in what they’re wearing,” Simpson said in 2014, in an interview with Forbes. “I do feel like we’re very fashion-forward, but we also listen to the consumer.”

Fenty

Rihanna in center surrounded by her models for her 2020 Savage X Fenty show. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Everything Rihanna touches turns to gold. Not only has the pop queen received 9 Grammy Awards, 8 Billboard Awards, and 13 American Music Awards throughout her career, but she also has a number of successful designer collaborations under her belt. In 2014, she collaborated with Puma. Her Fenty X Puma collection not only had cool sneakers with ribbon laces, but Rihanna also had several fashion shows with cool athletic-inspired pieces under the Puma label.

In 2017, Rihanna launched Fenty Beauty, which helped to revolutionize the beauty industry. A year later she expanded her Fenty label to include a lingerie line Savage X Fenty and made waves as she presented her first size-inclusive lingerie collection. Her star-studded Savage X Fenty fashion show has become a must-watch pop culture event —even earning an Emmy nod.

“Before she was BadGalRiRi: music, fashion and beauty icon, Robyn Rihanna Fenty was a little girl in Barbados transfixed by her mother’s lipstick,” Fenty Beauty’s About page reads.

In 2019, Rihanna became the first black female designer at LVMH, the parent company of luxury design houses Dior, Givenchy, and Louis Vuitton. However, in February of 2021, LVMH announced that their partnership with Rihanna was put on hold.

 

Ivy Park

Beyoncé in her ADIDAS X IVY PARK collection. (Photo Credit: Ivy Park)

Pop diva Beyoncé is no stranger to the world of business ventures. Her first shot out of the box was the House of Deréon that she ran with her mom. In 2016 the singer launched an activewear line with Topshop. The popular activewear line labeled Ivy Park was a huge success. On November 14, 2018, Beyoncé and Parkwood Entertainment acquired total ownership of the Ivy Park brand away from co-founder Sir Phillip Green following allegations of sexual harassment and racial abuse.

The recording artist has been expanding her Ivy Park line and subsequently entered into a partnership with Adidas in 2019. In a statement released on the official Ivy Park website, Beyoncé stated, “This is the partnership of a lifetime for me… Adidas has had tremendous success in pushing creative boundaries. We share a philosophy that puts creativity, growth and social responsibility at the forefront of business. I look forward to re-launching and expanding Ivy Park on a truly global scale with a proven, dynamic leader.”

On January 17, 2020 the collaboration between Ivy Park and Adidas launched. In only six minutes the collection sold out on Adidas’s website. The line is available in select Adidas stores worldwide, as well as at Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Foot Locker, and Finish Line locations in the United States. The collaboration also plans to debut a children’s line soon.

So…it looks like celebrity brands are still the rage, even in a pandemic.

So tell us, who is your favorite celebrity fashion brand?

ICONIC FASHION DESIGNERS ON THE SILVER SCREEN

An image from the film Saint Laurent. (Photo Courtesy of Mandarin Films/ EuropaCorp)

Let’s face it, it’s been a tough year and a half, between the global pandemic, and all the political and social unjust in the world today, we can all use a break from reality and escape into the magical world of film. So here at UoF, we compiled a list of some of our favorite films based on, you guessed it, fashion designers.  Whether it’s a biopic on Yves Saint Laurent’s life, Gabrielle Chanel’s first steps into the fashion, or a brush up on some fashion history with documentaries covering the glamorous life of Valentino, the rebellious escapades of Vivienne Westwood, or the agony and the ecstasy of Alexander McQueen, one thing is for sure, we LOVE to peer into the secret lives of fashion designers. Just check out the 82% Rotten Tomatoes audience score that the latest Halston biopic series on Netflix got and the 88% score that the 2019 Halston documentary received.

Whether it’s a documentary or a scrumptious little slice of fiction, these films transport us to another world with eccentric stories and extravagant anecdotes that make up the theatrical, glittering and whimsical world of fashion.

START THE POPCORN

Without further ado, here are a few of our favorite films and documentaries based on some of the most innovative designers. I guess you can all them the University of Fashion Oscars!

SAINT LAURENT (2014)

Saint Laurent official trailer. (Courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment)

Saint Laurent is a 2014 French biographical drama film about Yves Saint Laurent. The film was co-written and directed by Bertrand Bonello;  the film stars Gaspard Ulliel as Yves Saint Laurent, Jérémie Renier as Pierre Bergé, and Louis Garrel as Jacques de Bascher. The film centers on Yves Saint Laurent’s life from 1967 to 1976, which was the peak of his career, as he becomes one of the most iconic designers in the history of fashion.

The film examines the mythical and sometime scandalous life of the late Yves Saint Laurent. The director transports the audience into the 1970s, to a time where the designer was known for sporting both innovative and elegant outfits. In a divine journey into Yves Saint Laurent’s mind, the director examines this era, filled with folly and changing tides. Gaspard Ulliel offers an intense portrayal of the designer, who dives into a world of drugs and partying to silence his inner demons and his chronic, acute depression.

Saint Laurent was selected as the French entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards, but was not nominated.  In January 2015, Saint Laurent received ten César Award nominations, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actor. It also received five nominations at the 20th Lumières Awards, winning Best Actor for Gaspard Ulliel.

COCO BEFORE CHANEL (2009)

A preview of Coco Before Chanel. (Courtesy of YouTubeMovies)

Coco Before Chanel is a biographical film based on the start of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s extraordinary career.  The French film was directed by Anne Fontaine and stars Audrey Tautou as she plays a young Coco Chanel. The story of Coco Chanel’s journey from obscure, headstrong orphan to the legendary couturier who represented the modern woman and became an eternal symbol of success, freedom and style.

The French director decided to focus on the designer before her time of glory, to better understand the woman behind the fashion icon, and portrays a wounded woman, bruised by her neglected childhood and her tragic love stories.

By day, young Coco works as a seamstress, but at night, she performs as a cabaret entertainer.  Coco then meets a wealthy heir (Benoît Poelvoorde) and becomes not only his lover, but also his fashion consultant. Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel throws herself as passionately into her work as she does into her love life. Audrey Tautou gracefully embodies this great Mademoiselle who liberated women with her sleek, straightforward clothes. Tired of the flowery hats, tight corsets and yards of lace that define women’s fashion, Coco infused her lover’s clothing as a starting point to refine an elegant and sophisticated line of women’s clothing that propels her to the top of Parisian haute couture.

DIOR AND I (2014)

Dior And I official trailer. (Courtesy of Madman Films)

Dior and I (French: Dior et moi) is a 2014 French documentary film written and directed by Frédéric Tcheng. The film captures the artistic genius of designer Raf Simons as he creates his first haute couture collection as the new artistic director of Christian Dior.

The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 17, 2014. The film focused upon Simons’ debut season at Dior and includes non-speaking cameo appearances by Marion Cotillard, Isabelle Huppert, Jennifer Lawrence, and Sharon Stone. The documentary received positive reviews by critics.

Dior and I brings the audience inside the storied world of the Christian Dior fashion house with a privileged, behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Raf Simons’ first haute couture collection -a true labor of love created by a loyal group of collaborators. Melding the everyday, pressure-filled elements of fashion with mysterious echoes from the iconic house’s past, the film is also a colorful homage to the seamstresses who serve Simons’ vision.

VALENTINO: THE LAST EMPEROR (2008)

Valentino: The Last Emperor official trailer. (Courtesy of YouTube)

Valentino: The Last Emperor is a documentary film about the life of famed Italian fashion designer Valentino Garavani, the designer and founder of the legendary label Valentino. It was produced and directed by Matt Tyrnauer, Special Correspondent for Vanity Fair magazine. The picture documents the dramatic final act of Valentino’s career, tells the story of his life, and delves into the heart of the fashion industry. The documentary also delves into the loving relationship between Valentino and his business partner and companion of 50 years, Giancarlo Giammetti.

Valentino Garavani opened his first fashion house in 1959. In 2007, Valentino shocked the fashion world as he revealed his retirement plans and began preparing for his final fashion show. The documentary follows Valentino during the last two years of his time as a designer, as he gets ready to conclude his fashion career; as well as his worries about the intentions of the corporation buying his namesake label.

The filmmakers shot over 250 hours of footage with exclusive access to Valentino and his entourage. “We were let into the inner circle, but we had to stick it out for a long time, practically move in, to capture the truly great moments,” says Tyrnauer in an interview with Italian Living. “Valentino is surrounded by a tight-knit family of friends and employees, but, eventually, their guard came down and they forgot there was a camera crew in the room.”

“Valentino was one of the first designers to make himself the inspirational figure at the center of the story he was telling,” says Tyrnauer in an interview with Vanity Fair. “He is a born dreamer and the last true couturier, who let us in on his creative process and also let us in on the life he built around him to sustain this process,” adds Tyrnauer. “He lives as lavishly as his clients and set a standard for the industry. He shuts out all that is not beautiful, and we followed him around the world to capture that special world.”

WESTWOOD: PUNK. ICON. ACTIVIST. (2018)

Westwood: Punk. Icon. Activist. official trailer. (Courtesy of Madman Films)

Vivienne Westwood has been disrupting British fashion for more than 40 years, using her fashion status fame as a platform for her political, social and environmental activism. In 2018, filmmaker Lorna Tucker releases a feature-length documentary about the designer, Westwood: Punk. Icon. Activist. chronicling the incredible career of the designer.

Vivienne Westwood ignited the punk movement with ex-partner and Sex Pistols’ manager Malcolm McLaren, and the iconic designer has been redefining British fashion since 1971. She is responsible for creating many of the most distinctive pieces of recent time. Blending archival footage and insightful interviews a portrait emerges of Vivienne’s fascinating network of collaborators, taking the audience on her journey — from a childhood in postwar Derbyshire to the runways of Paris and Milan.

Westwood: Punk. Icon. Activist. is the first film to embody the extraordinary story of one of the true icons of our time, as she fights to maintain her brand’s integrity, her principles – and her legacy. The documentary was screened at the Sundance film festival on January 20, 2018, in the World Cinema Documentary Competition.

MCQUEEN (2018)

A preview of the MCQUEEN trailer. Courtesy of YouTube.

McQueen is a 2018 biographical documentary film, directed by Ian Bonhôte, written and co-directed by Peter Ettedgui, and produced by Ian Bonhôte, Andee Ryder, Nick Taussig, and Paul Van Carter under the banner of Misfits Entertainment, and Salon Pictures. The documentary looks into life and career of the late British fashion designer Alexander McQueen.

The life of Alexander McQueen is a rags-to-riches story, a modern-day fairy tale, laced with the gothic, tragic twist. The designer started his career in his teens before gaining notice as designer for Givenchy and launching his own label in 1992, which continues to this day under the creative direction of Sarah Jane Burton. Mirroring the savage beauty, boldness and exuberance of his creations, this documentary is an intimate exposé of McQueen’s own world, both tortured and inspired, which celebrates a radical and hypnotic brilliance of great influence. Sadly the brilliant designer took his life February 11, 2010

The film is a personal look at the extraordinary life, career and artistry of Alexander McQueen. Through exclusive interviews with his closest friends and family, recovered archives, exquisite visuals and music, McQueen is an authentic celebration and thrilling portrait of an inspired yet tortured fashion visionary.

Let us know, which is your favorite film?

IN HONOR OF ASIAN AMERICAN & PACIFIC ISLANDER HERITAGE MONTH, LET’S CELEBRATE ASIAN DESIGNERS WHO ROCKED THE FASHION WORLD

Clockwise from top left: Joseph Altuzarra, Chris Lebe, Eunice Lee, Jenny Cheng, Gauntlett Cheng, Bibhu Mohapatra, Makié Yahagi, Jade Lai, Creatures of Comfort, Dao-Yi Chow, Public School, Yeohlee Teng, Phillip Lim, Kimora Lee Simmons, Richard Chai, Kevin Kim, Tommy Ton, Thakoon Panichgul, Kim Shui, Rui Zhou, Prabal Gurung, Sandy Liang, Laura Kim, Mary Ping, Snow Sue Gao, Peter Som, Jason Wu, Ji Oh; Dylan Cao, Jin Kay and Huy Luong, and Derek Lam. Photographed at the Morgan Library in New York City Feb. 17, 2020. (Photo Credit: Renee Cox for The New York Times)

In the United States, the month of May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The University of Fashion would like to take this opportunity to highlight and celebrate some of the most influential Asian fashion designers, both in the U.S and around the globe.

THE HISTORY OF ASIAN AMERICAN AND PACIFIC ISLANDER HERITAGE MONTH

Before we focus on the work of  these multi-talented designers, let’s take a look at how the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) helped shape our history and our identity from the first wave of Asian immigrants in 1763 to the present day.

According to the U.S. Government: the term “Asian American” includes persons having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent. “Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander” includes persons having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.

We could easily fill an entire volume listing the contributions made by the AAPI community, from the building of the transcontinental railroad to major breakthroughs in the world of science and technology. According to History.com, “Though the Gold Rush triggered the first major wave of Asian immigrants to the United States in the 1840s, their presence in America predates the country itself. For example, in 1763, facing a life of forced labor and imprisonment during the Spanish galleon trade, a group of Filipinos jumped ship near New Orleans and established the settlement of Saint Malo, forming one of the first documented Asian American communities in North America.”

More than 2.5 million Chinese citizens left their country and were hired in 1864 after a labor shortage threatened the transcontinental railroad’s completion (Chinese immigrants made up 90% of the workforce).

In the field of science, Chinese-born female physicist Chien-Shiung Wu, Ph.D., was instrumental in the developing field of atomic science in the 1940s and 50s, which included the Manhattan Project: the code name for research into atomic weapons during World War II.

Philippine-born Larry Itliong immigrated to the United States in 1929 and began working as a laborer. In 1930, he joined striking lettuce pickers in Washington and eventually became a union leader, forming the Filipino Farm Labor Union in 1956. Together with Delores Huerta and Cesar Chavez from the National Farm Workers Association, they formed the United Farm Workers.

Having spent two years in internment camps during World War II, Japanese American Yuri Kochiyama’s would dedicate her life to  civil rights work that extended to causes impacting Black, Latinx, and Indigenous Peoples, as well as Asian American communities. Together with her husband Jerome, she campaigned for reparations and a formal government apology for Japanese American interned during World War II. Their work became a reality in 1988, when President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act into law.

Indian American computer architect Ajay Bhatt not only had a hand in developing a range of computer-related technologies, but the one he’s best known for is the Universal Serial Bus—better known as the USB.

Taiwanese American Steve Chen and Bangaledeshi-German American Jawed Karim, were among the core team that co-founded YouTube.

And the list goes on and on…

In June of 1977, Representatives Frank Horton, and Norman Y. Mineta, introduced a U.S. House of Representatives resolution to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week in recognition of Asian Pacific Americans. A similar bill was introduced in the Senate a month later by Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga. The month of May was chosen for two reasons: the first, because on May 7, 1843, the first Japanese immigrant arrived in the United States; the second, because on May 10, 1869, the golden spike was driven into the first Transcontinental Railroad. On October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a joint motion for the celebration. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed a bill passed by Congress to extend Asian-American Heritage Week to a month and May was officially designated as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month two years later.

Although progress has been made with regard to  Asian American and Pacific Islander communities throughout the United States, sadly, anti-Asian attacks across the America have been on the rise, spurred on by the COVID-19 crisis and hateful speech by some of our nation’s politicians and media.

(Photo credit: CFDA.com)

In solidarity, the fashion industry is using its clout to stand up for the AAPI community, as demonstrated by the CFDA’s statement on their website. Brands like Valentino, Nike, and Adidas have been very outspoken in denouncing the violence and are donating proceeds to AAPI organizations. But, this it is not enough. We all need to do our part to support the AAPI community in any way we can.

Join us in celebrating some of the talented designers who have made innovative and groundbreaking contributions to fashion in the global community.

Yohji Yamamoto

A portrait of Yohji Yammamoto. (Photo Credit: Forbes)

Yohji Yamamoto is a Japanese fashion designer based both in Tokyo and Paris. The 77-year-old designer is considered a master tailor and known for his avant-garde tailoring, featuring Japanese design aesthetics. His fashion continues to influence the way we dress through his deconstructed androgynous pieces since the 70s.

Yamamoto debuted his collection in Tokyo in 1977 and in Paris for the first time in 1981. His first women’s collection under the label Y’s, mirrored typical men’s garments, cut in uncluttered shapes, in washed fabrics and dark colors. In an interview with The New York Times in 1983, Yamamoto said of his designs, “I think that my men’s clothes look as good on women as my women’s clothing […] When I started designing, I wanted to make men’s clothes for women.” More recently he has explained: “When I started making clothes for my line Y’s in 1977, all I wanted was for women to wear men’s clothes. I jumped on the idea of designing coats for women. It meant something to me – the idea of a coat guarding and hiding a woman’s body. I wanted to protect the woman’s body from something – maybe from men’s eyes or a cold wind.”

Yamamoto won notable awards for his work, including the Chevalier/Officier/Commandeur of Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon, the Ordre national du Mérite, the Royal Designer for Industry and the Master of Design award presented by Fashion Group International.

A look from Yohji Yamamoto’s Fall 2021 collection. (Photo Credit: Yohji Yamamoto)

 

Rei Kawakubo of Commes des Garçons

A portrait of Rei Kawakubo. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Rei Kawakubo, founder of Comme des Garçons and Dover Street Market, is a Japanese fashion designer who is also based in Tokyo and Paris. Her experimental creations have forever transformed the way women dress and given females the power to explore the boundaries of gender, body, and femininity through vanguard, deconstructed pieces. On May 5, 2017, in tribute to her notable design contributions, Kawakubo was only the second living designer to be honored at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with an exhibition entitled, Rei Kawakubo/Commes des Garçons, Art of the In-Between.

Looks from the MET Exhibit: Rei Kawakubo/ Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between. (Photo Credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Kawakubo established Comme des Garçons Co. Ltd in Tokyo in 1969 and opened her first boutique there in 1975. She launched menswear in 1978 and presented her collection in Paris in 1981, where she would open a boutique a year later. By 1980, CDG was on the global fashion map, with her signature color palette of black, dark grey and white. The emphasis on black clothing led to the Japanese press describing Kawakubo and her followers as ‘The Crows’. Her fabrics were often draped around the body, with frayed, unfinished edges, some with intentional holes. Kawakubo was part of the ‘decontruction’ movement, popular in the 80s, that followed the traditional Japanese aesthetic known as wabi-sabi, an acceptance of the beauty of imperfection.

Kawakubo continues to be hailed by other major designers for her originality and her impact on fashion. In a broadcast interview with NHK (Japan Broadcasting Company), Alexander McQueen stated: “When Kawakubo designs a collection, it seems kind of absurd, not just to the general public. But when you watch someone’s challenging themselves like she does every season, it makes you understand why you are in fashion in the first place because of people like her.” During the same broadcast, Viktor & Rolf added: “The first time we became aware of Comme de Garçons was in the 80s. I think we were 12 or 13. It made a very strong impression because fashion in general was something that we were starting to discover and Rei Kawakubo was part of this … an enormous outburst of creativity in the beginning of the 80s. So for us she was part of the way we started to think about fashion.”

Two other early supporters of Kawakubo were Jean-Paul Gaultier and Donna Karan. During the NHK broadcast for Kawakubo, Gaultier stated: “I believe that Kawakubo is a woman with extreme courage. She is a person with exceptional strength. Moreover, she has a poetic spirit. When I see her creations, I feel the spirit of a young girl. A young girl who still has innocence and is a bit romantic. Yet she also has an aspect of a fighting woman, one who fears nothing as she thrusts forward.” Donna Karan added: “Rei Kawakubo is a very interesting designer to me as a woman and a female designer. As a person, she is very quiet and rather withdrawn, yet her clothes make such an enormous statement.”

Issey Miyake

A portrait of Issey Miyake. (Photo Credit: The New York Times)

Japanese designer Issey Miyake began his career working at Givenchy Paris before launching his own brand in the 1980s, Miyake Design Studio. He is most known for his technology-driven clothing designs, such as his signature iconic thinly pleated pieces, that would allow both flexibility of movement for the wearer. His garments are cut and sewn first, then sandwiched between layers of paper and fed into a heat press, where they are pleated. The fabric’s ‘memory’ holds the pleats and when the garments are liberated from their paper cocoon, they are ready-to wear.

As a child, Miyake dreamed of becoming a dancer, and so he extended his talent in creating costumes for Ballett Frankfurt. Made from permanently-pleated ultra feather-polyester jersey, he designed hundreds of garments for dancers to wear, a different one in each performance of  ‘The Last Detail.’ This led to the development of his very popular label Pleats, Please.

A look from the Issey Miyake archives. (Photo Credit: Issey Miyake Archives)

In March 1992 Miyake was quoted in the International Herald Tribune as saying, “Design is not for philosophy—it’s for life.”

In 1994 and 1999, Miyake turned over the design of the men’s and women’s collections respectively, to his associate, Naoki Takizawa, so he could return to research full-time. He was one of the pioneers of creating innovative, technological advanced pieces.

Kenzo Takada

A portrait of Kenzo Takada. (Photo Credit: Harper’s Bazaar)

Japanese-born Kenzo Takada was always inspired by Paris, especially designer Yves Saint Laurent, and moved to the French city in the early 60s. But working in the fashion capital was not easy and he struggled by selling sketches of designs to fashion houses for 25 francs each. After only a few months in Paris he planned to move back home to Japan, but he was determined to open a fashion boutique first.

In 1970 the late designer’s dreams came true and he opened a small shop in the Galerie Vivienne. Takada hardly had any money to work with, so he mixed and matched fabrics from the Saint Pierre market in Montmartre, creating an eclectic and bold first fashion collection. The designer presented his first collection but without any money to afford professional fashion models for the event, let alone hair and makeup professionals, Takada and his friends decided to paint the pimples of an acne-covered model, green. Making quit a splash.

In June 0f 1970, Elle magazine featured one of Takada’s looks on the cover. As his success grew, he moved his shop from the Galerie Vivienne to the Passage Choiseul and presented his collection in New York and in Tokyo in 1971. By 1976 he opened his first flagship store in the Place des Victoires. Kenzo had a flare for the dramatics and has even had shows in circus tents with performers.

Kenzo Takda helped put Asia on the Global Fashion Map. (Photo Credit: WSJ)

Since 1993, the Kenzo brand has been owned by the French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, but in 1999 Kenzo announced his retirement to pursue a career in art. On June 2, 2016 Takada was given the Knight of the Legion of Honour and was also presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 55th Fashion Editors’ Club of Japan Awards in 2017. Sadly, he died of Covid-19 in 202o.

Anna Sui

A photo of Anna Sui. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Anna Sui is a Chinese American designer that hails from Detroit, Michigan. She was named one of the “Top 5 Fashion Icons of the Decade.” In 2009 she earned the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), joining the ranks of Yves Saint Laurent, Ralph Lauren, and Diane von Furstenberg. In addition to her clothing brand, Sui has added footwear, cosmetics, eyewear, accessories, and home goods to her brand portfolio.

Upon graduation from Parsons, Sui began her career designing for several sportswear companies in the NYC garment center. It was at one of these firms, Charlie’s Girls, that she reconnected with fellow friend and classmate Steven Meisel (famous photographer). Sui’s work as a fashion stylist for Meisel’s photo shoots were featured in the Italian magazine Lei, and were very well received.

Shortly after Charlie’s Girls shuttered, Sui began designing and making clothes out of her apartment inspired by a desire to dress rock stars and people who attended their concerts. With an initial investment of only $300, she brought her collection of five pieces to a New York trade show where they caught the attention of Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s. A few weeks later, her clothes were featured in an advertisement in The New York Times.

During the 80s Sui was one of the few designers who distanced themselves from traditional fashion houses and explored the grunge fashion scene, together with designers such as Marc Jacobs, Daryl K and Todd Oldham. Sui managed to carve out a niche for herself that allowed her to break through the noise and as a result, gained a global cult-like following. She expanded her brand in the mid 90s, thanks to a partnership with the Japanese fashion powerhouse, Onward Kashiyama.

Anna Sui’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Anna Sui)

Sui held her first New York Fashion Week show in 1991 at the persuasion of her high-power friends: Steven Meisel, Paul Cavaco (fashion editor/stylist) and supermodels: Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista. The show was the biggest breakthrough of Sui’s career, with The New York Times commenting, “That those beauties [Campbell and Evangelista] were then at the height of their fame helped stoke the reception Sui got from buyers and the news media.”

Of course, it didn’t hurt her career either, when Madonna wore one of her looks in Paris to a Jean Paul Gaultier fashion show and then again wore the same outfit for Meisel’s photoshoot for Vogue.

Anna Sui opened her first boutique in New York City’s Soho neighborhood in 1992 and received the CFDA’s Perry Ellis Award for new talent later that year.

Bibhu Mohapatra

Bibhu Mohapatra with his models. (Photo Credit Elle)

Bibhu Mohapatra grew up on the East Coast of India in Rourkela, Odisha. In 1996, he moved to America and earned his master’s degree from Utah State University in economics, however, he always had a love for fashion. So in 1999, he moved to New York City and enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology where he won the 1997 Critics’ Award for Eveningwear Designer of the Year.

Upon graduation, Mohapatra worked for prestigious brands such as Halston and J. Mendel, but in 2008 he decided to launch his namesake collection of evening dresses and ready-to-wear looks. One of his biggest honors was dressing former First Lady Michelle Obama.

Former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama wore Bibu Mohapatra during a trip to India. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Mohapatra has presented his collection of luxury women’s ready to wear, couture and fur, in New York, Mumbai, Frankfurt, Beijing, and New Delhi. His collections are sold around the world at stores including Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Saks, Nordstrom and in China at Lane Crawford. His work has graced the pages of many fashion magazine’s including Vogue, New York Magazine, Time, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Marie Claire, and Gotham magazine.

In 2010, Mohapatra received the “Young Innovator Award” from the National Arts Club and the same year was inducted into the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

We would also like to applaud the work of other AAPI designers: Hanae Mori, Vera Wang, Jason Wu, Alexander Wang, Prabal Gurung, Naeem Khan and the countless other Asian and Pacific Islander designers who continue to make an impact on the fashion industry!

So tell us, which Asian or Pacific Islander designer do you think had the biggest impact on the fashion industry?

 

AFFORDING LUXURY: THE ART OF DESIGNER AND MASS RETAIL COLLABORATIONS

Looks from Simone Rocha X H&M Collection. (Photo Credit: H&M)

Let’s face it, fashionistas everywhere crave designer clothing, but many cannot afford the hefty price tags that are often associated with luxury fashion brands. So how can luxury houses satisfy the desires of the working-class fashionista? Through collaborations of course! Overall, designer collaborations are well-received, highly sort after, and especially difficult to get your hands on before they sell out. Thanks to marketing and retail success, the number of designer collaborations have hit the roof in recent years, and with the help of celebrity fans, it’s not hard to see why these pieces are in such high demand.

An advertisement for Halston for JCPenney. (Photo Credit: JCPenney)

Collab History

Halston can be attributed to creating the very first mass-market collaboration in 1983 between his namesake label and JCPenney. Halston was a successful, disco-era designer who was known for his minimalist yet glamourous aesthetic; as well as his infamous Studio 54 days where he partied with and dressed close friends Liza Minnelli, Bianca Jagger, and countless others. Halston created the controversial, cheaper Halston III line with department store giant JCPenney but the collaboration was was poorly received by elite department stores, such as Bergdorf Goodman, which stopped carrying the high-end Halston Limited label out of fear that the JCPenney collab would cheapen Halston’s overall appeal.

An advertisement for Isaac Mizrahi for Target. (Photo Credit: Target)

In 2002, Isaac Mizrahi, who was known for his vibrant and playful joie de vie collections, teamed up with Target. The Isaac Mizrahi x Target partnership was the first and longest-running Target designer collaboration (lasting from 2002-2008), and it introduced the designer to mainstream America. The extremely lucrative collaboration bolstered the designer’s own career with the collection eventually including accessories, bedding, housewares and even pet products. This collaboration kick started the luxury designer mass market craze.

An advertisement for Karl Lagerfeld for H&M. (Photo Credit: H&M)

Swiss retail giant H&M jumped on the designer collaboration bandwagon in 2004 with the legendary Karl Lagerfeld. Known for his sleek black suits, skinny jeans and French rock and roll spirit, despite skeptics, the collection sold out within minutes of the launch. This wildly successful partnership opened the door for a plethora of high-end H&M collaborations to follow and set the precedent for numerous future high-street and designer collaborations.

Once the success of these collabs were made known, the flood gates were opened. Here are a few noteworthy mentions:

Giambattista Valli for H&M in 2019

Virgil Abloh, the creative director of Off-White, partnered with multiple brands ranging from Evian and Rimowa to Ikea and Nike.

Christopher Kane X Topshop in 2006 and Crocs x Christopher Kane Spring 2017

Rodarte x Universal Standard in 2019

Lanvin x H&M in 2010

Missoni x Target in 2011

Balmain x H&M in 2015

SOME OF THE COOLEST COLLABORATIONS OF 2021

SIMONE ROCHA X H&M

A video of the Simone Rocha X H&M collaboration.

The Simone Rocha X H&M collection launched on March 11th to  rave reviews. The Swiss retail giant and the Irish designer, collaborated on a collection that was based off Rocha’s archival hits filled with charming and whimsical pieces. Sustainability is said to be a key factor in this new designer collaboration. Rocha told Vogue US that, coming from a much smaller brand, H&M’s footprint was a big consideration, and that together they were able to source organic cotton, recycled polyester and a new compostable yarn.

Simone Rocha’s house codes are strong and were fully incorporated into her collaboration with H&M. There were plenty of neo-classical references, puffed sleeves and babydoll silhouettes, Lurex tweed, Broderie Anglaise, organza and cloqué fabrics, lots of embroidery, beading and even baroque pearls. It was all so delightfully sweet.

TARGET’S TRIO

Just in time for the warmer weather, Target is bringing back the Designer Dress Collection for spring 2021. This season the retailer is collaborating with three diverse designers: Alexis, Christopher John Rogers, and Rixo. The rising stars are adding their signature styles to Target, offering a much-needed boost to a girl’s closet. There will be over 70 styles available, ranging in price from $40-60 in sizes XXS—4X, making this Target’s most size-inclusive designer capsule to date.

A look from ALEXIS’ collaboration with Target. (Photo Credit: Target)

The Miami-based label Alexis, designed by Alexis Barbara Isaias, is known for its relaxed, feminine silhouettes made for the globetrotter, bringing a wanderlust feel to easy dresses and separates. Her Cuban roots and Miami upbringing definitely influence her free-spirited collections. In an interview with The New York Post, Isaias stated, “I never wanted a design office in New York. The vibrant colors, the culture, the feeling … it’s so important that our roots are in Miami.” And while Isaias loves the nightlife, her Miami is also made up of quiet moments in nature. “To me, it’s a place for family, for connections — to be by the water and feel the breeze. There’s just something in the air here.”

A look from Christopher John Roberts collaboration with Target. (Photo Credit: Target)

Christopher John Rogers shot to stardom when Vice President Kamala Harris wore his coat and dress to her and Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, 2021. The young industry darling is known for his unparalleled eye for color, voluminous silhouettes, and sharp tailoring. In only a few seasons he has already earned a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award and a legion of fans, including Zendaya, Lizzo, Tracee Ellis Ross and Michelle Obama.

In an interview with Teen Vogue, Rogers was asked how his background influences his style. Rogers stated, “I’m African-American, and I grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which is basically a large small town. I was fortunate enough to have my parents put me in art classes pretty early on, at the suggestion of my grandmother, and I was always surrounded by people of various backgrounds. My best friends in elementary school were Korean, Jewish, South American, you name it. I’ve always known variety to be standard.”

A look from Rixo’s collaboration with Target. (Photo Credit: Target)

UK-based Rixo, designed by Orlagh McCloskey and Henrietta Rix, bring a modern twist to vintage-inspired wrap dresses and patterns. The contemporary label evokes a Bohemian & free spirit, with easy-to-wear pieces in feminine shapes and high-quality materials.  The young design duo are known for their fusion of original hand-painted prints and timeless silhouettes that flatter all body types.

According to the brand’s profile, Henrietta & Orlagh met at University of Arts London, where on their first day enrolling as students Henrietta complimented Orlagh on her vintage handbag and the rest is history! Imminently discovering a mutual love for vintage, the pair have been best friends ever since and have also lived together through their first 5 years of Rixo – becoming more like sisters than friends.

JW ANDERSON X UNIQLO

Looks from JW Anderson x Uniqlo collaboration. (Photo Credit: Uniqlo)

Jonathan Anderson has been keeping busy the last few months. In addition to designing for his eponymous British label JW Anderson and for Spanish fashion brand Loewe, he has created a capsule collection for the Japanese mega retailer Uniqlo.

For his latest JW Anderson x Uniqlo collab, Anderson focused his attention on designing items that he would like to wear when the world fully opens up again. “I wanted something that was a bit crisp and subtle,” he says in an interview with Refinery 29. “I always think you have to subtly get back into things.” To help shoppers transition out of the sweatpants they’ve been living in for more than a year and into the forthcoming season, he also “wanted [to create] something that felt timeless.”

For the spring capsule he created boxy T-shirts hemmed with chain stitches; oversized, linen polo shirts; and baseball caps made of vintage-looking denim and detailed with embroidered daisies. To fully round out spring’s lineup of essentials, he also included chambray dresses, smocked midi skirts, and rigid denim in light blue and oatmeal.

Anderson says that he’s become “very obsessed with handcraft.” Craftcore-esque chain stitches and embroidery, therefore, became mainstays throughout the collection. “I love the subtlety of detail,” he says. “It doesn’t have to be so loud in the very beginning.”

So tell us, which fashion collaborations would you like to see?

Pandemicwear…a new fashion category?

Image credit: Naploungewear.com, Gentleherd.com and Onecozyday.com

We are thrilled to hear the news that Covid numbers are diminishing and vaccinations are on the rise. However, knowing that we’ll still need to take precautions, i.e. working from home, washing hands frequently and wearing masks until we reach herd immunity, possibly until sometime next fall, has some of us fashionistas thinking about what to add to our wardrobe in the interim.

Remember athleisurewear? That was the classification of merchandise that burst onto the fashion scene in the double aughts, that was a cross between sportswear and activewear. According to the Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry (authored by me, Francesca Sterlacci, and former FIT Dean, Joanne Arbuckle):

Athleisure became popular as a result of the yoga pant and leggings craze. This type of clothing, originally designed for working out, became suitable for wearing outside of the gym too. Brands like Lululemon popularized the look and other brands and retailers took notice. Cashmere sweatsuits and luxury workout gear soon found their way into both men’s and women’s wardrobes. An added benefit of wearing athleisurewear is that even if you don’t go to the gym, you can still look like you do. By 2016, athleisurewear entered the bespoke arena with Saville Row tailors showcasing items such as track suits.”

(Image credit: Cozy Earth)

But what about the merch category that preceded athleisurewear called ‘loungewear’? Those of a certain age will remember loungewear being worn around the house at a time when women had lots of leisure time (1950s), that is, before they got to have careers and were liberated in the 1970s.

Well, ‘loungewear’ as a category no longer seemed appropriate thanks to COVID-19. The fact is …home lockdown consists of remote working, teaching & learning, shopping and even Zoom socializing. There’s absolutely nothing ‘leisure’ about that, right?

Some of us have been wearing our PJs all day long, or sweatshirts and sweatpants. And we only feel the need to dress up, do our hair and our makeup if we have a Zoom business call. So, where’s the incentive to care about fashion?

(Image credit: Sew Sketchy)

Sew Sketchy, an illustrated New York fashion influencer created by artist Romy Schrieber, gets her quarantine-look right with her fashion preference for pajama-wearing, but will absolutely never forego her lavish painted nails and iconic sunglasses.

 

Pandemicwear Looks

(Image credit: Atritz.com)

After hours trolling the Internet, I am now seeing a new trend/category emerge that I’m calling, ‘pandemicwear’. When I Googled the word pandemicwear, the first thing that pops up was “Slob-Style Chic” (what to wear when there’s nobody to dress up for except your cat – and Zoom).

I don’t know about you but just knowing that there’ll be at least 5 more months of lockdown until we can all get vaccinated to achieve heard immunity, I’m needing a ‘fashion’ shot in the arm right about now. What I’ve researched is a trove of two-piece sets that are offered in a variety of fibers from cashmere and bamboo to silk blends, that can make you feel dressed up while you are still in lock down.

What I’ve laid out here is not to be considered influencer marketing, it’s just my personal opinion of what I might want to wear around my home to ‘feel’ dressed up without ‘being’ dressed up!

(Image credit: naploungewear.com)

Cashmere… how luxe can you get? I’ve been finding cashmere sets that are casual and chic and great for having to jump on a Zoom call.

(Image credit: Lellyan.com)

(Image credit: Tenmorden.com)

(Image credit: Tenmorden.com)

(Image credit: The Frankie Shop)

And let’s not forget about footwear…. like these comfy slippers from The Frankie Shop that come in a variety of chic neutrals.  And the feather pom-pom slip-ons from Nap.

(Image credit: The Frankie Shop)

(Image credit: Nap.com)

Let’s all hope that we can all get vaccinated within the next few months because, let’s face it, there are so many other clothes in our closets that are feeling pretty neglected right about now.

Got a fav pandemicwear outfit that you’d like to share?

FORGET POLITICS…MADAM VP IS A STYLE ICON IN THE MAKING

(Left to Right) U.S. second gentleman Doug Emhoff, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, and President Joe Biden at their Inauguration.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris just completed their first weeks in office. While the dynamic duo has already brought about plenty of positive changes, they also amped-up the fashion quotient in D.C. Thanks to First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and VP Kamala Harris, and finally, American young designers are once again at the forefront of the world fashion stage.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama was a true champion of young American designers and during her eight years as First Lady she has worn everything from Jason Wu to Narciso Rodriguez, turning American designers into household names. American Designers created custom looks for the former First Lady and when she wore a young designer’s creation, the publicity was a dream-come-true. In 2016 when former President Trump took office, many designers disagreed with Trumps’ political stance, and declined to dress the former First Lady Melania Trump, so many of Melania Trump’s outfits were purchased, as opposed to being custom-created or gifted, as is tradition. While this was great for retailers, American designers suffered not being in the political limelight.

Doug Emhoff and Kamala Harris, in Altuzarra, as she accepted the nomination for the vice presidency at the Democratic National Convention. (Photo Credit: Win Mcnamee for Getty Images)

Thankfully, this will all change as the United States moves into a new era of leadership, all eyes will be on Vice President Harris to see what subtle statements she will make with her wardrobe choices. Throughout the campaign trail, Kamala Harris’ wardrobe remained consistent: a business-ready pantsuit or blazer worn with jeans; her shoe choices were also limited to her signature Converse sneakers or a classic pointed-toe pump. The VP also consistently wore her beloved accessory, a string of pearls, a sentimental tribute to her Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority at Howard University. Kamala Harris has broken down many barriers as she is the first female, Black, and South Asian-American Vice President of the United States.

AMERICA’S VP COVERGIRL

Vice President Kamala Harris appears on the February print Vogue cover. (Photo Credit: Tyler Mitchell)

VP Harris’ style has evolved greatly since the early days of her campaign trail. She has even graced the covers of prestigious fashion magazines, including Elle in November 2020 and the Vogue February 2021 cover that stirred up plenty of controversy involving the most powerful woman in fashion and the most powerful woman in the White House. Social media ran ramped with many accusing the Vogue cover as being “disrespectful”, but Ann Wintour originally described the cover as “joyful, casual, and accessible.”

On the print Vogue cover the VP is dressed in a dark brown jacket by Donald Deal, narrow black jeans, a white t-shirt, her signature Irene Neuwirth pearl necklaces, and trusty Converse sneakers. But the second Vogue cover which was digital, featured a closer-cropped photo of the VP wore a pale blue suit by Michael Kors.

Vice President Kamala Harris wears Michael Kors on the February digital Vogue cover. (Photo Credit: Tyler Mitchell)

Many social media users argued that the Vice President should have been dresses more inspirational than casual.  When Kamala appeared on the cover of “Elle” in November, they captured her strength, warmth, intelligence, and beauty. She looked completely Vice Presidential. Sad that Vogue did not achieve those results in such a momentous moment in American history.

Vice President Kamala Harris appears on the November 2020 Elle cover. (Photo Credit: Inez & Vinoodh)

According to Sway, people familiar with the matter on both sides said that there had been no contractual cover approval agreement in place, the cover image was not what the vice president’s team had expected. The day after the first photo leaked, a second — more formal — digital exclusive cover was also released. Ms. Wintour said in a follow-up statement to Sway, “Obviously we have heard and understood the reaction to the print cover and I just want to reiterate that it was absolutely not our intention to, in any way, diminish the importance of the vice president-elect’s incredible victory.” In an exclusive interview on this episode of “Sway,” Ms. Wintour discusses the magazine cover, diversity concerns at Condé Nast, the future of the fashion industry.

Listen on Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/sway/id1528594034?i=1000505058648

VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS’ STYLE EVOLUTION

Vice President Kamala Harris’ fashion choices. (Photo Credit: Town & Country all Getty Images)

Through the years as a senator in California and on the campaign trail, VP Kamala Harris shied away from fashion. Her uniform consisted of muted pantsuits, blazers, skinny jeans, and her signature Converse sneakers and pearl necklaces. Her sartorial choices were meant to blend into the background while she fought for political change and policies that were dear to her heart.

Then Senator Kamala Harris grilling a Trump administration official in June, 2020. (Photo Credit: Pool for Getty Images)

But once Biden chose her as her running mate, Kamala Harris’ style began to evolve. For starters, Vice President Harris began to collaborate with Hollywood stylist Karla Welch, who is especially known for the perfectly imperfect off-duty looks she creates for her clients, a diverse crew that includes Oprah Winfrey, Justin Bieber, Karlie Kloss, Tracee Ellis Ross, and even Anita Hill. According to Town & Country, “Harris and Welch’s professional partnership is something of a secret—kinda open, kinda not. And neither camp returned emails requesting confirmation.”

During inauguration week, VP Harris’ sartorial choices where on point and rich with meaning, the most powerful woman in the United States wore looks create by designers of color, including Sergio Hudson, Prabal Gurung, Pyer Moss’s Kerby Jean-Raymond and Christopher John Rogers, whose brilliant purple coat and dress was accessorized with pearls by Puerto Rican designer Wilfredo Rosado on the day she was sworn in as Vice President of the U.S.

In a Town & Country interview with Robin Givhan, the only journalist to receive a Pulitzer Prize for fashion criticism, and who is now the Washington Post’s senior critic-at-large, chronicling politics, race and the arts stated, “On one hand, Harris’s clothes are straightforward and professional, especially while she was on the campaign trail. She looks like she could be walking into any major law firm, any Fortune 500 company. But I think there’s also this sort of inability to not discuss her clothes because of the historical nature of her position.”

Fashion is a way for people to get a little slice of Harris’s life and symbolism for themselves. It’s aspirational fashion in a new way. “I also just sort of worry to some degree that we are muddling the line between Vice President and First Lady,” says Givhan.

A First Lady she is not, but she is a first of so many achievements—first woman, first woman of color, first woman of South Asian descent, first daughter of immigrants to hold the office of vice president. So as the most powerful woman of the United States, should the public scrutinize over her sartorial choices? Naturally, her policies and what she does for the nation comes first, but there is nothing wrong with adding a little panache along the way.

Vice President Kamala Harris in Carolina Herrera (Left) and President Joe Biden (Right) on the night they accepted their victory. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Her rise to fashion stardom began in November, the night she took the stage alongside President Joe Biden and they accepted their victory as the newly elected President and Vice President of the United States. VP Harris carefully selected a creamy Carolina Herrera pantsuit and white silk pussy bow blouse, a nod to the suffragist movement, this look was analyzed across every form of media and many approved the look as it stood for how far women have come and she embodied power and beauty in her suit.  The public is watching what VP Harris wears so closely that there is already a useful website, WhatKamalaWore.com, by the journalist Susan E. Kelley, who also curates similar sites about Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton’s sartorial choices.

“I don’t think she needs to make a stand verbally, but I do think there are going to be expectations of her in her position as a woman,” says Peju Famojure, a stylist and fashion consultant who has styled Solange Knowles and consulted with Beyoncé in a Town & Country interview. “There are always expectations tied into women’s fashion choices. People would be happy to see her support brands that are made in America, but also Black-owned brands, giving them representation, not only from a visual standpoint, but also helping to drive monetary success.”

While VP Harris will want people to focus on her politics and not her clothes, as a history-making public figure, her sartorial choices are a part of the picture that many will focus on. So far, Harris’ outfits have been a lesson in a new form of power dressing: her suits and pointed-toe pumps convey an authoritative mindset, while the more casual Converse and jeans signify a relatable casualness, accessible and familiar to the average American.

U.S. second gentleman Doug Emhoff and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, in Pyer Moss, at the COVID Memorial. (Photo Credit: Patrick T. Fallon via Getty Images)

On January 19th, the eve before the historic inauguration, President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, along with Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff, gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for a COVID memorial honoring and remembering the more than 400,000 American lives lost to the pandemic so far.

Arranged along both sides of the Mall’s pool of reflection were hundreds of rectangles of light. “To heal we must remember. It’s hard sometimes to remember,” Biden said, “but that’s how we heal. It’s important to do that as a nation…Let us shine the lights in the darkness…and remember all whom we lost.” His words were followed by a moment of silence. While the moment was somber and full of sorrow, there was also a sense of hope.

There is no doubt that the Biden administration will set a completely different tone than the Trump administration, it will also be a breath of fresh air on the fashion front as First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have both been championing young American designers and their sartorial choices have been polished, sophisticated, empowering, and bold.  The VP opted to wear a chic camel cashmere coat by Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss, which, appeared as a more traditional silhouette from the front, but the back turned revealed a curved shoulder seam that gave way to a flowing, pleated back. Kerby Jean-Raymond is a young Black designer who is likewise weaving purpose into his mission. On his runways, Jean-Raymond has addressed African American narratives in popular culture. In September of last year, he gathered PPE for hospital workers and provided $50,000 in grants for small businesses affected by the COVID crisis.

A back look of U.S. second gentleman Doug Emhoff and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, in Pyer Moss, at the COVID Memorial. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Harris also took to the podium the night of the COVID Memorial and said, “Tonight we grieve and begin healing together. Though we may be physically separated, we the American people are united in spirit. And my abiding hope, my abiding prayer, is that we emerge from this ordeal with a new wisdom: to cherish simple moments, to imagine new possibilities, and to open our hearts just a little bit more to one another.”

The Vice President chose Prabal Gurung the morning Inaugural Prayer Service. (Photo Credit: @SecondGentleman Instagram)

On January 20th, Inauguration Day, Vice President Kamala Harris began the day at a church service alongside President Biden and his family. Here she chose a look from Prabal Gurung, an American designer who was born in Singapore and grew up in Nepal. She looked stunning in a garnet-hued double-faced wool crepe dress with a matching coat.

As Kamala Harris was sworn in as the Vice President, she wore a pearl necklace by Wilfredo Rosado. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Shortly after Kamala Harris was sworn in as the Vice President of the United States by Sonia Sotomayor, America’s first Latina Supreme Court justice. Our first female VP wore a stellar coat and dress by Christopher John Rogers, a young Black designer, who’s known for his love of bold and vibrant colors and shapes, as well as her signature strand of pearls. Her coat and dress were elegant and chic, while purple symbolizes strength, royalty, hope, and a call for unity at a time of political division; after all, when you mix blue (democrat) and red (republican) together, the color purple is created. A fitting chose for our Vice President.

Wearing Sergio Hudson, VP Kamala Harris continued to show support for black designers at the Inaugural Concert. (Photo Credit: The New York Post)

Later that night, at the Celebrating America event, Vice President Kamala Harris championed another young black designer, Sergio Hudson, as she wore an elegant liquid sequin cocktail dress with a floor-length silk tuxedo overcoat, both in inky black—and topped off the look with Irene Neuwirth earrings.

Since winning the election Vice President Kamala Harris’ fashion game has been strong, but we would love to see her step out of her comfort zone, but still be appropriate for her many meetings as VP.

So tell us, what looks would you like to see Vice President Kamala Harris wear?

PRESIDENTIAL STYLE: JOE BIDEN’S SARTORIAL CHOICES THROUGHOUT THE YEARS

President Joe Biden in his signature navy suit and aviator sunglasses. (Photo Credit: @Drew Angerer)

There is no denying that President Joe Biden has nailed the fashion formula throughout his campaign trail, state visits and even during his off-duty sartorial looks. Joe Biden turned 78 on Nov. 20, 2020 and has had a long and successful political career, including two terms as Vice-President of the United States (2009-2017). He is now the most powerful political figure of the United States of America and his clothing choices are being eagerly watched by the fashion industry, who are desperately in need of a shot in the arm (vaccine pun, unintended).

For the most part, men’s suits on the political stage are simply that: men’s suits and not much more. Apart from a pattern on a tie or shirt color, they all look roughly the same. But the truth is that everything from the fit of their shoulders to the size of their shirt collar matters. It can be the difference between looking put together versus wearing unbuttoned oversized baggy suits.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN’S INAUGURATION

(Left) First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and (Right) President Joe Biden wearing American Designers on his Inauguration Day. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

On Jan. 20, 2021, the world watched as Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States of America. President Biden is known for his effortless, classic American style, so it was no surprise that Ralph Lauren designed his suit for this President’s inauguration.  Before his big day, WWD published an article announcing that Ralph Lauren would be dressing the President for the inauguration. Sources stated that “Biden has been working with the designer on a suit for the historic ceremony. The custom suit will be made in the recently renamed Rochester Tailored Clothing in Rochester, N.Y., which has been making Hickey Freeman clothing for more than a century.” Throughout the years, Joe and Jill Biden have been regular Ralph Lauren customers. “You can’t go wrong wearing Ralph Lauren,” said one menswear designer to WWD.

As President Biden was sworn in, he was the epitome of classic American style. He wore a navy blue suit and overcoat by Ralph Lauren. In a WWD article, one observer commented, “ This is a symbolic sartorial statement for a return to decorum and upholding the values of America.”  President Joe Biden wore a navy, single-breasted, notch lapel, two-button suit, a crisp white dress shirt, and a pale blue tie to coordinate with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden’s Markarian coat and dress look was created by the young American designer Alexandra O’Neill. The color blue was a nod to the Democratic party, according to WWD, a symbol of trust, confidence, and stability. President Biden captured the essence of how a modern day leader of the free world would look like.

Wearing Ralph Lauren was a departure from Brooks Brothers the oldest men’s clothier, founded in 1818, who had outfitted 41 of the 46 American presidents, including Barack Obama during his inauguration in 2009. Due to their failure to adapt to the trend towards slim cut suits and business casual wear, Brooks Brothers fell into bankruptcy last year and was sold for $325 million to SPARC Group, a joint venture between Simon Property and Authentic Brands Group.

Ralph Lauren has a history of nonpartisan dressing, including moments with Michelle Obama and outgoing First Lady Melania Trump. Joe Biden even sported a classic Polo shirt recently to take both of his COVID-19 vaccinations on television.

 

FASHION CHOICES THROUGH THE YEARS

A young Joseph Biden, wearing a casual short-sleeved shirt, pictured in 1967. (Photo Credit: Twitter)

Joe Biden’s political career began in 1970 when he was first elected to a county council seat in Delaware. The law graduate and public defender worked as a senator and launched his first presidential campaign in the 1980s. In 2009, Joe Biden became the Vice President under Barack Obama, the two were a political dream team and had the cool-guy swagger that elevated the menswear game. Biden served as VP of the United States for two terms, ending his post in 2017.

President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama sharing a laugh and looking dapper. (Photo Credit: barackobama.medium.com)

Throughout his numerous years in political office, Biden has, naturally, refined his work wardrobe, moving from bolder prints and heavier fabrics to cleaner-cut tailoring and the occasional relaxed, open-necked shirt. The President also has embraced accessories to define his style, from his signature aviator sunglasses to funky print socks. President Biden has also been seen throughout his campaign wearing a face-mask, to protect not only himself, but everyone around him.

President Joe Biden in his elegant sartorial look and face mask . (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

When not on the campaign trail, President Biden has also been known to dabble in leather jackets, short-sleeved shirts and his signature aviators. A relaxed preppy vibe with a modern twist.

InStyle Magazine’s 2017 spread on Joe Biden. (Photo Credit Mario Sorrenti)

Here are some of Biden’s looks throughout the years:

Joseph Biden, in stripes and polka dots, checks in at the office of the Secretary of the Senate on December 13, 1972. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

 

Joe Biden, in a slick tux, pictured at an event on July 14, 1987. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

 

 

Joseph Biden, left, in a casual shirt and aviators, receives a briefing at the border village of Panmunjom, South Korea, on August 11, 2001. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

 

Joe Biden, in midnight blue, visits the Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 17, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

BIDEN’S STYLE TODAY

Joe Biden, in his favorite color of suit, navy, and his wife, Jill Biden, attend at his election night event at the Chase Centre in Delaware, US, on November 3, 2020. (Photo Credit: EPA)

Today, President Biden is one of the best dressed politicians in the United States. The President is known for wearing a well-tailored classic cut suit, which makes sense given his physique (slim and tall). To the unqualified eye President Biden’s suits might appear to fit a little on the large side, but the slight pull at his top button and the way the back of his jacket collar sits flush against his shirt collar indicate a well-fitted suit.

For the most part President Biden sticks to what works best for him. His suits are usually navy, although occasionally he pushes himself out of his comfort zone and wears black or khaki tones. It seems that the President also prefers to wear crisp white shirts, which give him a sleek and refined look.

President Joe Biden supports his local community. For years he has been working with his local tailor in Wilmington, Delaware and occasionally orders custom shirts from Wright & Simon, a narrow shop on Market Street. Leonard Simon, the shop’s proprietor, has plenty of selfies with the President, but Simon laughs in an interview with the local paper Northjersey.com; “The pictures are in my phone. That’s where they will stay,” said Simon, 71, whose father, Morris Simon, cofounded Wright & Simon in 1935. “I’m a small store in a small state. I have to have discretion.”

Custom suits created at Wright & Simon are beautifully tailored and fit to perfection on their clients. Leonard Simon boasts that his clients can receive a perfectly tailored suit at a fraction of the cost of a designer version. Wilmington is not a $3,000-suit kind of town. At Wright & Simon, a customer can purchase a custom fit and press suit in their tailoring shop above the store for $795. Now that’s a bargain!

President Biden also perfected the art of accessorizing with his cool signature Ray Ban aviator sunglasses, dapper pocket squares, sleek facemasks, elegant repp ties (repetitive woven ribs of the silk tie fabric) and playful socks.

A pair of American Flag themed socks that Joe Biden has worn in the past. (Photo Credit: HuffPost)

PRESIDENT BIDEN BRAND  CHOICES

President Biden mostly chooses his suits from his local tailor shop in Wilmington, Delaware for a moderate price, and the tailoring is impeccable; former President Trump on the other hand has his suits custom made by the Italian luxury brand Brioni for a whopping $3,000.

According to Patrick Henry, better known as LA designer/tailor ‘Fresh’, a slimmer, more tailored fit reads more youthful and modern like those worn by Biden, while a larger and more relaxed suit like that of former President Trump, may speak to a different audience.

According to Fresh, President Biden’s pants are a perfect choice for his silhouette. “Biden’s break sits right at the top of his shoe. “Even though he’s moving and walking, you can still see it hits right at the top. He’s not showing his whole sock off, he’s not trying to look super cool or like a teen, the whole leg fits great.”

Ultimately, Fresh said the tailoring on President Biden’s suits and details like pocket squares make him look more youthful, confident, and ready.

“The presidency isn’t about health and physical fitness, but Biden looks like a young man, like he could go toe to toe with anyone,” he said. “He looks confident and, in my opinion, gives a look of readiness. Whereas a more conservative, looser fit looks like he might be ready to go do something else.”

FASHION AT THE WHITE HOUSE

Throughout the history of the White House, the United States has had several very fashionable first ladies and dapper presidents; from John and Jacqueline Kennedy to Barack and Michelle Obama. These political powerhouses brought style and grace to the White House.

Former President Barack Obama and President Joe Biden have plenty of swag. (Photo Credit: The New York Times)

No one has championed young American designers the way Michelle Obama did, so today, designers are becoming excited again for a fashionable-forward president and first lady. In an article in GQ magazine, America’s most influential designers are celebrating President Joe Biden’s sartorial choices.

In an interview with GQ, American fashion designer and CFDA Chairman Tom Ford stated, “Joe Biden is the perfect American president for now. I have always said that true elegance is not about style but about the way that one treats others. And Joe Biden is elegant. He also happens to be sartorially elegant: understated and a kind of calm and self-assurance that comes with age and experience. Slim and long with perfect posture, I find him quite sleek. A dramatic contrast to his predecessor. In fact, a welcome contrast in every way.”

Tom Ford, you captured President Biden’s essence perfectly!

REMINDER – UNIVERSITY OF FASHION HAS A MEN’S PATERN MAKING SERIES TO GET YOU STARTED AS A MENSWEAR DESIGNER

Happy New Year From UoF!

(Image credit: @mark_higden – www.markhigden.com)

Well, you’ve got to admit, this was a year like no other!

Good riddance 2020. But before you go, we’d like to remember those who tragically lost their lives due to the pandemic and those of us who still mourn the friend or relative that is gone. Please accept our sincere condolences.

As we learned to adjust to the new 2020 normal, we gained insight into what’s really important in life. We even caught a glimpse what life might be like in the future. And there is some hope on the horizon.

We learned the term ‘essential worker’. Health care professionals and others who stepped up while many of us locked down. The ‘thanks’ list is long. From grocery store personnel and other service sector workers, to truckers, FedEx, UPS and Amazon workers, to farmers, meat packers and countless others. How can we ever repay them?

(Image credit: University of Fashion)

Schools and teachers found out what we at UoF have known for years…the future of education is online, and that content is King! When schools demanded their teachers start teaching remotely, hundreds of teachers from many different schools around the world wrote to us for help. We gladly gave free access to our content to help them through the semester. Many schools became subscribers as a result. In addition, we actively promoted Fashion Learning Pods on our blog page.

(Image credit: Homeschooling Parent Association)

Parents became teachers and had to adjust to a whole new lifestyle, many with the help of UoF. In 2020, the HomeSchooling Parent Association certified the University of Fashion as a qualified educational provider for its members.

UoF certificated by Homeschooling Parent Association (Image credit: Homeschooling Parent Association)

(Image credit: Custom Collaborative)

Our hearts were broken as we watched events unfold in May, beginning with the senseless killing of George Floyd. UoF responded to the #BlackLivesMatter movement by covering the fashion industry’s reaction on our blog and by offering free unlimited access to the UoF library to Custom Collaborative, a Harlem non-profit that advocates for women with low to no-income and immigrant women, to build the skills necessary so that they can achieve economic success in the sustainable fashion industry. We also gave free unlimited access to Black Fashion World an organization that provides black fashion professionals access to higher education, capital, mentorship and the advice of experts. We continue to showcase African American designers on our blog because together we can make a difference.

(Image credit: Menswear designer/bespokesman/UoF Instructor Rishabh Manocha -Photo credit: Mitchell Helson)

We were sad to hear that so many small businesses were forced to shutter and that some of our entrepreneurial subscribers and instructors with bespoke fashion businesses were completely locked down. We are hopeful that they’ll be able to reemerge and thrive.

(Image credit Jennifer Coffman)

Many of us made and wore masks, followed social distancing rules and continue to play by the rules. We watched in horror as others didn’t. Our mask contest in April brought out sewers from around the U.S and as far away as Africa, Iraq and Mexico. It warmed our hearts to see how the sewing community and the fashion industry stepped up to the plate. Our founder, Francesca Sterlacci, sewed 300 masks for her local nursing homes.

While we witnessed the most contentious election in our lifetime, we continue to have hope that as a country, we can unite and work together.

Now for some Silver Linings. The pandemic brought climate change into focus. The fashion industry is finally examining its carbon footprint and looking at textiles and technology to help. In March we reported how this is happening in our post Pandemic, Pollution – A Fashion Industry Wake-Up Call? Our 3-part series on  3D design explored how 3D design will help save the planet and our 3-part lesson series on how to design sustainably, taught by founder Noor Bchara of Upcycle Design School, continues to inspire designers to start their own upcycle/recycle brand.

So…the future. As we move into 2021, UoF is committed to delivering the best in fashion education with the best talent that our industry has to offer. Here’s a preview of a few new lessons and series that we’re working on:

  • Swimwear
  • Intimate Apparel
  • Advanced Draping
  • Advanced Menswear
  • Visual Merchandising
  • Advanced Pattern Making

As we eagerly welcome the mystery of 2021 with open arms, we would like to thank all of our UoF behind-the-scenes professionals (especially Brad, Myrna, Chen, Toni and Barbara), our instructors, our individual subscribers and our many school, library and company subscribers.

We wish you all a very Happy New Year!

 

Best wishes,

Francesca Sterlacci – Founder/CEO University of Fashion

Jeff Purvin – Executive Chairman

GAMECHANGERS: THE RISE OF FASHION VIDEO GAMES

 

Ralph Lauren collaborates with Snapchat. (Photo Credit: Ralph Lauren)

With the holidays just around the corner and our festivities limited to “home pod” celebrations and Zoom events, one thing is for certain, this was a year like no other. As we witnessed a global pandemic, an unprecedented number of deaths, a world in lockdown and a toppling of the world economy, we somehow managed to remain hopeful. With the rolling out a COVID-19 vaccine, we just need to have more patience. This year we learned to appreciate our families, health-care workers and first responders. We also learned that wearing a mask shows you care.

Face Masks have become the most popular accessory of 2020. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Despite the pandemic, this was a year of creativity. Fashion designers went into full scale production of masks and PPE, schools migrated to remote learning, parents threw drive-by celebrations for their kids’ birthdays, schools threw virtual proms and graduations for their seniors and families organized Thanksgiving  Zoom-ebrations.

The fashion industry, once a bastion of tradition, became exceptionally creative as a result of the pandemic, when it came to fashion week. Some brands held virtual audience-less fashion shows, some created short videos and others found artistic ways to shoot their lookbooks.

And now, one of the most inventive ways a designer can showcase their collection is the video game platform. If you are a fervent reader of the UoF blog, you will remember that on April 6th   we predicted this as an innovative way for brands to connect with their customers (Demna Gvasalia, were you listening?)  Here’s the link for reference:

https://www.universityoffashion.com/blog/fashion-computer-game/

BALENCIAGA

On Dec. 6th the video game “Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow” (set in the year 2031) was launched featuring Demna Gvasalia’s main collection for Balenciaga’s fall 2021 season. Enter the world of fashion-tainment!

According to WWD, the allegorical adventure features environments and characters using cutting-edge photogrammetry and the most advanced technology for game hosting, according to the Paris-based fashion house, noting that “Afterworld sets a record for the largest volumetric video project ever undertaken.” For those of us new to digital jargon, photogrammetry is “the science and technology of obtaining reliable information about physical objects and the environment through the process of recording, measuring and interpreting photographic images and patterns of electromagnetic radiant imagery and other phenomena.

Like many designers, Gvasalia must surely miss the excitement of a live runway show, but honestly, the pandemic didn’t stop him from presenting his fashion-forward collection in an avant-garde way. For Paris Fashion Week Spring 2021, Gvasalia was highly praised for his fashion film set to Corey Hart’s “I Wear My Sunglasses at Night,” which showcased Balenciaga’s summer pre-collection with models dashing through rain-slicked Paris streets after dark.

Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow

What better timing to launch a new computer game than the holidays, during a pandemic, with a stay-at-home order in place! Brilliant marketing, no?

So here’s how it works:

“A hero avatar advances throughout distinct zones, motivated by tasks and interactions,” the house said, sharing details of the online game first with WWD. “The narrative of ‘Afterworld’ is anchored to mythological pasts and projected futures with timeless archetypes and speculative imagery.”

Balenciaga’s pre-collection is futuristic and is inspired by what fashion might be like in 2031 in a conceptual way, and the idea carries over into what’s displayed in the video game.

“A theme of Balenciaga fall 2021 is human destiny, as seen by an interactive, gamified journey,” the house said. “The world may appear to be decaying at first, but it is far from a dystopian view, showing instead the slow return to a healthier balance of nature and industry.”

If you’re a true gamer with quick skills and can beat the game, the reward is “A real-life breathing exercise set in a virtual utopia. In the end, the hero has finally becomes (as it is referred to in Hero’s Journey analysis) a ‘Master of  Two Worlds’,” Balenciaga told WWD, apparently alluding to studies of archetypal heroes by the late American academic Joseph Campbell.

Gvasalia has been breaking the traditional fashion industry rules and they seem to be working to his advantage. Last September the designer revealed that he would show Balenciaga’s pre-collections during Paris Fashion Week, and his main collections for the house in June and December, reversing his previous show order.  The unconventional designer also stated in past interviews that he wishes to break away from the hamster wheel of doing runway shows every season; although he hasn’t ruled out runway shows in the future. Gvasalia is already planning to stage a show next July for Balenciaga’s much anticipated return to haute couture.

Demna Gvasalia, the Creative Director for Balenciaga. (Photo Credit: WWD)

“Fashion has become such a checklist. And I feel like I personally want to try to do it differently,” Gvasalia said in an interview with WWD.

 

OTHER FASHION COMPUTER GAMES

Balenciaga’s timing to release an online video game comes at a pinnacle time in the crossover between gaming and fashion, a relationship that has been progressively developing.

Animal Crossings designer collaborations. (Left) Looks from Valentino. (Right) Looks from Marc Jacobs. (Photo Credit: AllGamers HyperX)

Since lockdowns began, fashion lovers have been playing Animal Crossing, a Nintendo-created game (launched in 2001), but since May, designer brands such as Marc Jacobs and Valentino have created “New Horizons” looks and the game’s popularity took off.  Suddenly, the Nintendo Switch and Switch Light, the game system to play Animal Crossings on, were on everyone’s wish list and they became hard to find. Even Instagram accounts like Animal Crossing Fashion Archive, Nook street Market, and Animalcrossfits became a craze. 2020 has brought in a new area in fashion and gaming, and it’s so much more than just picking out your favorite color for a character’s t-shirt.

Across the board, luxury fashion houses are collaborating with the video game industry, as this promises to be the future of marketing and retail as Generation Z and Alpha are incredibly tech driven.

Gucci unveiled a series of new app features including the Arcade App, inviting customers to play with popular house motifs and characters, plus AR technology allowing them to virtually “try on” sneakers and watches. The Italian luxury brand also launched a collaboration with The Sims and a tennis-themed outfit game, Tennis Clash.

K slash DA in Louis Vuitton. (Photo Credit Louis Vuitton)

Louis Vuitton launched its League of Legends capsule collection last year, in partnership with Riot Games. Meanwhile, Burberry collaborated with Snapchat and created Animal Kingdom, an in-store gamified experience in which Snapcodes transport shoppers to a Burberry world. Snapchat also teamed up with Ralph Lauren to create virtual clothing for personal Bitmojis.

“With confinement, we started the year 2020 to wake up into 2025,” describes Christian Louboutin of such acceleration in an interview with Nylon magazine. “I’m not a gamer myself — I can barely switch on the TV — but I’ve observed in the last few years more and more people, especially at the airport or in planes, playing on their phones.” Just this past October, the footwear designer presented his Spring 2021 collection via the app Zepeto, enabling users to create personal avatars and discover his latest creations.

In an interview with Nylon magazine, “Our social lives are now predominantly playing out online. Therefore, our main channel to present ourselves and shape out identity is digital,” says Rachael Stott, futures analyst at strategic foresight consultancy the Future Laboratory, which estimates that when it comes to in-game spending, U.S. gamers each spend on average $229 on digital purchases. For comparison’s sake, the new stand alone XBox Series X and Sony PlayStation 5 both retail for $499, while the Oculus Quest 2 all-in-one virtual reality headset retails for $399.

According to the trend forecasting agency WGSN, gaming has an estimated global reach of 2.7 billion; and ‘skins’, virtual items that change the look of a character, accounted for 80% of the $120 billion spent on digital games in 2019.

“Fashion working with gaming is kind of the next obvious step in the evolution of fashion,” says Erin Wayne, head of community and creator marketing at Twitch (in an interview with Nylon magazine). The live-streaming platform launched in 2011, now boasts 26.5 million daily visitors. In September, Burberry became the first luxury fashion label to partner with the service and stream its Spring 2021 show, and in July, the UK-based university Ravensbourne streamed its graduating fashion students’ collections, which had been presented via a digital avatar project.

“Gen Zers are digital natives. They don’t want content pushed at them,” says Adam Harris, global head of brand partnership studio at Twitch. On Twitch, you can find anything from cats sleeping to ASMR to gaming to chatting. Teens today will seek out the content they are interested in, case in point, Fortnite’s Travis Scott spectacular in April: 12 million players logged into the concert. Meanwhile, Lil Nas X’s recent stint on gaming platform Roblox drew 33 million views.

“Fashion brands are primarily infiltrating gaming as a marketing tool,” points out Stott. With doors to physical stores shuttered, gaming devices have the potential to build communities. “Spending hours crafting a digital replica to show your peers currently makes sense,” she says.

The Puma X Tabitha Simmons Collection on Drest. (Photo Credit: Drest)

There are a handful of other fashion video games as well. “Drest” an interactive styling game, that was launched towards the end on 2019 now carries over 200 brands. The video game was founded by Lucy Yeomans, a former magazine editor-in-chief of Net-a-Porter and editor of the fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar in the UK. Another popular fashion game is DressX, which was founded by Daria Shapovalova and Natalia Modenova. They are a retail platform for digital fashion, carrying over 30 brands, mostly URL only, some IRL, too, sell between $25 and $200. It’s like digital couture.

“Gaming is starting to become such a cultural force. Our mission is to become one of those brands like the Dickies [of the world] or whoever was at the beginning of that culture,” Simon Brown, product director of Fnatic says in an interview with Nylon.

 

As you’re planning your holiday gift-giving list, don’t miss the opportunity to take advantage of UoF’s ONCE A YEAR subscription promo offers (expires 12/30/20)

$40 off our Yearly subscription (was $189 now $149)

https://www.universityoffashion.com/holiday-offer/ Promo Code: Learn1

 

$5 off the first month of our Monthly subscription (was $19.95 now $14.95) https://www.universityoffashion.com/holiday-offer/ Promo Code: Learn2

 

35% off any of our books: Beginner Techniques: Draping or Pattern Making or Sewing

https://www.universityoffashion.com/3-book-series-ad-lkp-discount/Promo code: Uof35

 

 

 

 

A NEW ERA FILLED WITH HOPE, UNITY, AND OF COURSE FASHION

From left, Doug Emhoff, husband of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Harris, President-elect Joe Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden on stage together, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (Photo Credit: AP)

Saturday, November 7th was an historical day in the United States. Not only did the country elect former Vice President Joe Biden to be our 46th President, but we also elected our first female, first Black and first South Asian Veep, Kamala Harris.

President-elect Joe Biden, delivered a message of hope, unity and possibility, during his victory speech in Wilmington, Delaware. Joe wore a navy suit and light blue tie, assuring that he will be a president who, in his own words, “seeks not to divide but to unify.” He told the crowd of supporters, “Let us be the nation we know we can be. A nation united, a nation strengthened, a nation healed. There’s never anything we’ve tried we’ve not been able to do.”

Kam & Joe rocking pantsuits and Joe’s signature ‘American flag’ socks. (Credit: People Instagram)

HERE COMES THE FASHION

Although this blogpost will mainly focus on Dr. Jill Biden and Kamala Harris, we thought we’d provide a teaser on Joe Biden’s sartorial choices (stay tuned for our next post on Biden Style in depth).

According to L.A. bespoke tailor Fresh (tailor to music icon, Weekend and other celebs), when asked about the difference between a Trump suit (Brioni, $3,000 loose and oversized) and Biden’s suits (Delaware’s Wright & Simon custom made ($795) and Hickey Freeman’s ($1500) Rich Fresh said, “The first thing to look at is the shoulder. Biden’s suit sits right on the shoulder, which allows the chest to sit right, the sleeve to fall beautifully. Biden’s pant break sits right at the top of his shoe. Even though he’s moving and walking, you can still see it hits right at the top. He’s not showing his whole sock off, he’s not trying to look super cool or like a teen, the whole leg fits great.” Oh, and speaking of socks…let’s not forget Joe’s signature ‘American flag’ socks and his cool pocket squares! The new men’s trend?

DR. JILL STYLE

Harris was not the only one who made a bold sartorial statement that night. Our incoming First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, chose a chic navy floral vine dress with an asymmetric hemline, created by Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia, the designer duo behind the Oscar de la Renta label. Dr. Jill  paired her dress with coral kitten heels, minimal jewelry, and the accessory of 2020, a simple face mask. On Instagram, the Oscar de la Renta company posted a picture of the first couple-elect to their 4.8 million followers. “Today we congratulate our President-elect Joe Biden and the [future] first lady Jill Biden.”

President-elect Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden, in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

In an interview with WWD, Oscar de la Renta’s chief executive officer Alex Bolen said, “We’ve been fans of Dr. Jill Biden’s for many years and have had the privilege of working with her in the past. Oscar adored the opportunity to work with accomplished women, finding role models such as [former] Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton, Mrs. [Laura] Bush and Dr. Biden particularly inspiring.”

“Like Oscar, Laura [Kim] and Fernando [Garcia] relish the challenge of helping women lead their lives — especially if those lives take place on the world stage — with a tremendous sense of confidence,“ said Bolen. He also congratulated the Bidens’ and Senator Harris, on behalf of the design duo, himself and his wife Eliza, the company’s executive vice president. “We wish them every success.” 

The late Oscar de la Renta, who passed away in 2014, dressed many first ladies (from both parties) in his lifetime, from Laura Bush to Hillary Clinton.

To see more of Dr. Jill’s fashion choices while Second Lady, follow this link https://www.huffpost.com/entry/jill-biden-style_l_5f7c91c7c5b6e5aba0d0b135

Designers are betting that the first lady-elect will help rev-up the American fashion industry, when she steps out and onto the international stage. Rumors are already circulating as to ‘who’ will she choose to wear for the inauguration ceremony? And those of us in the industry know how much of a BIG DEAL that is for the lucky designer!

Like her husband, Dr. Biden is known to support local shops. She asks about prices and considers her purchases in her home city of Wilmington, Delaware. But like many first ladies before her, Dr. Biden’s style decisions have begun to change (her Oscar de la Renta dress was a hefty $5,690). Mostly known for choosing classic looks from smaller, contemporary labels, within the past few months she has shifted to wearing powerhouse designers, such as Ralph Lauren, Christian Siriano and Brandon Maxwell.

Organizations like the National Retail Federation are also optimistic about the future under the Biden administration. According to WWD, the group issued a statement on Saturday, congratulating Biden and Harris and pledging to work with the new administration: “As the largest private-sector employer in the country, the retail industry looks forward to continuing our tradition of working with presidents and their administrations of both major political parties to advance the industry’s priorities in job creation, economic development and career opportunities for millions of Americans. We congratulate president-elect Biden and vice president-elect Harris on a hard-fought victory,” said National Retail Federation president and chief executive officer Matthew Shay.

“Throughout this year’s extraordinary circumstances, retailers have shown their resilience and adaptability and will continue to ensure the safety and well-being of our customers, the communities we serve, and the 52 million working Americans supported by the retail industry as we enter a busy holiday season,” he added.

OUR INCOMING FIRST LADY’S SIGNATURE LOOK

Dr. Jill will be unlike any other first lady before her. For the first time in U.S. history, this first lady will hold a job outside of the White House and will continue her work as an English professor at Northern Virginia community college.

Jill Biden wearing a Dolce & Gabbana dress and matching mask for the final presidential debate. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

While President-elect Joe Biden talks about bringing the country back together in unity, his wife Jill’s sartorial choices back up that rhetoric. Her fashion choices reflect a softer, gentle tone that has been missing from the White House. Unlike Melania Trump who is known for wearing austere, minimalistic, utilitarian fashions (who can ever forget her “I really don’t care, do you”?  jacket and the Alexander McQueen army green military suit she wore to the Republican National Convention)? Dr. Jill dresses at the opposite end of the spectrum, as she prefers feminine silhouettes, bold patterns, and rich, deep jewel tones. The one thing she does share with Melania is a love of statement heels. Dr. Jill has rocked Valentino heels and Stuart Weitzman ‘Vote’ knee-high boots — but unlike Melania, Dr. Jill has worn them for state events, not for humanitarian relief efforts.

Also, unlike Melania Trump and Michelle Obama before her, Dr. Jill’s sartorial looks have been low key and much more representative of how American women actually dress. The incoming first lady’s aesthetic has been understated, elegant, and at times preppy. She tends to favor flattering shift dresses and wrap dresses in bold hues, and with just a quick change of her shoes, these looks are perfect transition pieces for a day in the classroom to an evening at a political event for her husband.

Jill Biden wearing Alexandra Posen’s VOTE mask while campaigning in Texas. (Photo Credit: AP)Only time will tell if Dr. Biden will continue playing it safe with her fashion choices once she is in the White House and whether Kamala will stick to wearing only suits, but one thing is for sure, American designers are lining up. Young designers especially are hoping that they’ll be given a chance to shine just as Michelle Obama did for so many during the 8 years she was in the White House. We are all hoping that both Dr. Jill will Kamala will throw their muscle behind sustainable brands. Something tells us they will. Keep your eye on this space.

We thought it would be fun to make some sartorial recommendations for Dr. Jill:

A look from Rodarte’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Rodarte)

A look from Lila Rose’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Lela Rose)

 

A look from Carolina Herrera’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Carolina Herrera)

 

A look from Ulla Johnson’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Ulla Johnson)

 

A look from Thakoon’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Thakoon)

 

A look from Brock Collection’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Brock Collection)

 

A look from Altuzarra’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Altuzarra)

 

A look from Nili Lotan’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Nili Lotan)

KAM STYLE

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris also took the stage on November 7th, and emphasized the promise of America in her speech. She wore an ivory-colored Carolina Herrera pantsuit and a silk bow blouse accessorized with an American flag lapel pin. Kamala, known as Momala by her step children, spoke positively about what the future may hold and encouraged children to imagine themselves in ways that others might not yet recognize as achievable. The VP-elect also credited all of the women who went before her, “I stand on their shoulders,” she said of those who fought for voting rights at the beginning of the 20th century, and of the “new generation” that had exercised those rights last week.

The color white has long been associated with the women’s suffrage movement, adopted as a symbol of moral purity alongside green for hope and purple for dignity. The hue also signified their ethos of nonviolence, an olive branch to those threatened by their then-radical calls for political equality.

While the ivory Carolina Herrera suit that Kamala Harris wore to address the nation on November 7th was one of her best sartorial choices to date, we are secretly hoping that Harris will take a more fashionable approach. As the first female to ever hold such an important role, it has to be hard for her when making fashion choices. That’s why the Power Suit is the safest way to go! Or is it?

On the campaign trail, Harris stuck to her uniform of polished pantsuits and her favorite accessory – pearls, but while the traditional attire for female politicians can be a bit bland (think Hillary and her pantsuits), we would love to see Harris take a bolder approach to power dressing.

The VP-elect hails from California, so her laid back sensibility comes through in her sartorial choices. When the Senator stepped off a plane to assess the damages of the wildfires in Fresno, California, she wore a simple olive jacket, jeans, a white t-shirt and Timberland boots – American women everywhere connected to her, because this is how American women dress!

Kamala Harris’s love of Converse sneakers. (Photo Credit: Elle)

Kamala’s sartorial choices so far have revolved around Converse sneakers and have gained plenty of traction with younger voters. For Harris, fashion does not define who she is, its her fearless approach to politics and policies that define her.

To help get Kamala out of her pantsuit rut, we are suggesting a few day looks from the spring 2021 collections that we think would look fabulous on her:

A look from Christopher John Rogers’ Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Christopher John Rogers)

 

A look from Michael Kors’ Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Michael Kors)

 

A look from Gabriela Hearst’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Gabriela Hearst)

 

A look from Altuzarra’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Altuzarra)

 

A look from St. John’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of St. John)

 

A look from Adam Lippes’ Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Adam Lippes)

 

A look from Khaite’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Khaite)

 

A look from Tory Burch’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Tory Burch)

SO TELL US, WHAT LOOKS WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE ON OUR INCOMING FIRST LADY DR. JILL BIDEN AND VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT KAMALA HARRIS?