University of Fashion Blog

Category "Current Topics in Fashion"

WHO REALLY INVENTED THE MINI? AND THE Y2K BREAKOUT TREND: THE MICRO MINI

A look from Miu Miu’s Spring 2022. (Photo Credit: iMaxTree)

In August of 2021, the UoF blogged about Y2K fashion making a major comeback, and almost nine months later the trend is still going strong. The breakout Y2K trend is no doubt the micro mini skirt, according to online search engine retailer Lyst. Demand for mini skirts is at a three-year high, with over 900 searches a day for the now-infamous, Miu Miu-sanctioned bottom (reported on March 7, 2022, in Vogue Business).

Left to Right Zendaya, Yoona, and Hunter Schafer, a;; in the Miu Miu mini. (Photo Credit: Elle Singapore)

Miu Miu’s ultra-short, low-rise, pleated skirt has taken the fashion world by storm — with celebrities ranging from Nicole Kidman to Zendaya, all sporting it on their social media pages and magazine covers. The hottest item of the season has barely enough fabric peaking out from under its belted waistband; for those of us who were teens or young adults in the early aughts, the itty-bitty skirt reminds us of Britney Spears’ iconic, sexy schoolgirl outfit in her 1998 Baby One More Time music video.

Britney Spears music video Baby One More Time. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

While the micro mini is not a trend for everyone, some have even called the look trashy, nevertheless, demand for the mini is skyrocketing. The Miu Miu skirt is so popular it even has its own Instagram account, @miumiuset. Miu Miu has been sold out of the coveted item for weeks and has a long list of fashionistas eager to get their hands on the coveted skirt, despite its hefty price tag. Are you ready? Are you sitting down? The skimpiest version of the khaki miniskirt costs $950, with a slightly longer version available for $1,150. Those of us who can calculate garment fabric consumption, that’s about a quarter of a yard or 9 inches worth of fabric!!

Miuccia Prada presented the infamous micro-mini skirt during Miu Miu’s spring 2022 fashion show last October. It was an immediate hit as the skirt was seen on nearly every red carpet. After so much buzz and success of the barely-there skirt, the designer revamped the bold style for her fall 2022 Prada collection.  And of course, plenty of designers followed in her footsteps, creating their own versions, like Balmain and Valentino.

A look from Prada’s Spring 2022. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Now that we know the leggy silhouette will continue to reign supreme for fall, let’s dig into the history of the controversial piece.

HISTORY OF THE MINI

The Mini has always been on of society’s most controversial fashion items. (Photo Credit: Pinterest)

It is common knowledge that the mini skirt craze began in the sixties as an empowering fashion choice during the birth of the woman’s liberation movement. But hold on, let’s discuss.

British-designer Mary Quant has often been credited for ‘inventing’ the miniskirt, that started the mod fashion movement. In a 2014 interview with the New York Daily News, Quant stated: “A miniskirt was a way of rebelling.” The Quant definition of a mini required the bottom edge of the skirt to hit roughly halfway up the thigh and fall no more than four inches below the butt. In today’s terms, a ‘modest mini’.

Designer Mary Quant, pictured with models in 1967. (Photo Credit: PA Prints)

But perhaps the real truth about the birth of the ‘mini’ should be traced back to the 1950s when ‘above the knee’ skirts appeared in couture alongside rock & roll and the youth dance craze. In reality, the most era-defining look of the 1960s, the mini, was a gradual process. According to England’s Victor & Albert Museum, (which held an exhibit on Mary Quant’s fashion movement from April 6, 2019 – Feb. 16, 2020) very early signs of the mini were detected in late-1950s couture. Case in point, Balenciaga’s ‘sack’ dress, which introduced a simple, semi-fitted shape that took the emphasis away from the wearer’s waist and Yves Saint Laurent’s 1959 ‘trapeze’ line for Dior, that promised to show more leg, or even some knee. Paris couturier André Courrèges achieved international publicity for a couture collection featuring short skirts and space-age dresses in April 1964.

Contemporary photographs and surviving dresses show that it wasn’t until 1966 that skirts became really short. Quant herself has acknowledged how the trend for rising hemlines was influenced by an emerging London street-style, and a wider cultural shift towards informality and the break-down of social codes. Away from the rarified world of Parisian couture houses however, it took a young women like Quant and schoolgirls on the streets, who were improvising short skirts.

André Courrèges, 1969. (Photo Credit: AP Photo)

For decades fashion historians have debated who actually invented the miniskirt, André Courrèges or Mary Quant. Although Quant has famously said, “It wasn’t me or Courrèges who invented the miniskirt anyway—it was the girls in the street who did it.”

Quant was an early ambassador of the ‘above the knee’ look, rocking a knee-skimming skirt during a visit to New York as early as 1960. As a designer she enjoyed adapting minimal styles that disrupted traditional social and gender roles – short hemlines suited her simple shift dresses. With a growing presence in the media, Quant played a significant role in the adoption of the miniskirt by contemporary women in England, Europe, and the USA.

Mary Quant At Work Around 1967. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

In 1965 the term ‘miniskirt’ was used to reference above-the-knee hemlines by newspapers and magazines (Quant named her iconic skirt the mini after her favorite car). In 1966, Quant’s contribution to fashion was recognized by the Queen, with an OBE (Order of the British Empire) medal. Quant was photographed at Buckingham Palace wearing one of her own trademark jersey minidresses, which promoted her distinctive look around the world.

Twiggy and Justine De Villeneuve. (Photo Credit: AP Photo)

In the mid-sixties, supermodel Twiggy became the unofficial poster child for the miniskirt look. In 1965, model Jean Shrimpton caused a stir when she wore a miniskirt with no stockings, hat, or gloves to the Melbourne Cup Carnival in Australia. That year the mini also got a boost when Yves Saint Laurent debuted his famous and very short ‘Mondrian’ dresses.

Paco Rabanne introduced his iconic, plastic, chainmail miniskirt in 1966, followed by the throw-away minidress. The mini was officially a high fashion statement.

Goldie Hawn on Laugh In in the Sixties. (Photo Credit: Pinterest)

By the mid to late sixties the television show “Laugh In” debuted American actress Goldie Hawn in her mini, inspiring American girls to copy the actress’s signature mod style. By 1968, former First-Lady Jackie Kennedy cemented the trend with her Valentino short white pleated Valentino dress when she married Aristotle Onassis.

The historic Valentino wedding dress worn by Jackie Onassis in 1968. (Photo Credit: The Corbis)

When the Vietnam War began and political tensions began to rise, mini skirts fell out of fashion and the maxi skirt was the sartorial choice among young women.

Mini-skirts became fashionable again in the mid-seventies when singers like Blondie regularly wore mini skirts on stage. The mini also became a staple for the Punk crowd as it was reinvented in black leather and PVC.

By the early eighties, the mini-skirt was once again reinvented and became known as the rah-rah (or ra-ra) skirt, originating from cheerleading uniforms. The Oxford Dictionary noted this as the first successful miniskirt revival. And in 1982, the rah-rah skirt even appeared on the cover of Time magazine. In 1984, Madonna performed at the MTV Video Music Awards, wowing the crowd in a white tulle minidress resembling a wedding dress as she sang “Like A Virgin”.

Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell in the ’90s. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

In the early nineties miniskirts were all the rage with icons like Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and the Spice Girls keeping the powerful item, hip, trendy and in the public sphere. Once again, the controversial sartorial choice suggested both empowerment & vulnerability, liberation & exploitation, and shifted the dynamics, allowing women to take charge of their own sexualities.

Paris Hilton in the early 2000s wore mini skirts from day to night. (Photo Credit: Pinterest)

In the early aughts, miniskirts made a major comeback thanks to fashion icon Paris Hilton, who raised her hemline even further to “macro mini” length. And let’s not forget Tom Ford, who proclaimed the ‘mini-est’ of micro skirts to be the ‘it’ item of his spring/summer 2003 collection.

A look from Gucci’s spring 2003 collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Fast-forward to 2022. After living through a global pandemic and social and political unrest around the world, designers are raising hemlines once again to micro-mini status. And just as the miniskirt was provocative back in the ’50s & ’60s when the trend made its way into the wardrobes of fashionable girls everywhere, the micro-mini today offers the same kind of sartorial edge. Although today’s micro version may be harder to pull off, there’s no denying that it is becoming one of the most popular trends of the moment. As the saying goes, “what comes around goes around”.

A street style star in Prada during Milan Fashion Week, Feb. 2022. (Photo Credit: Phil Oh)

So tell us, who do you think invented the mini?

 

WELCOME TO THE FIRST METAVERSE FASHION WEEK – DIGITAL FASHION HAS ARRIVED

An Imitation of Christ look for Decentraland’s Metaverse Fashion Week. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Spring 2022 Fashion Month may have ended last month, but runway shows continued. Where you ask? Welcome to Metaverse Fashion Week (MVFW)!

For the past three years UoF has been reporting on the importance of the 3D design software and the concept of the Metaverse and its potential within the fashion industry. And so, at last, we finally got to watch the first major fashion industry-backed Metaverse fashion week, Thursday, March 24th to Sunday, March 27th. And just like that, fashion history was made.

Where was Metaverse Fashion Week Held?

Decentraland, a 3D virtual world browser-based platform, hosted the first Metaverse Fashion Week, with more than 60 luxury and digital brands presenting. (I wonder if the CFDA be adding  MVFW to the fashion calendar?).

Several innovative, early adopter fashion brands, and even some established brands, virtually presented their Spring 2022 collections in different “neighborhoods” or “districts” on Decentraland’s platform within their newly created ‘Fashion District’. The four-day event was packed with fun events that included digital fashion shows (which took place on three virtual runways), after parties, and even shopping events. Some merch was offered for sale as ‘wearables’, while others were offered as collectibles that were later uploaded to NFT marketplaces like OpenSea.

Before the event launched, Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro, head of Metaverse Fashion Week, told WWD, “I think people will be amazed, because our team has been working so much to really achieve unique spaces in 3D and unique shops for the stores.” The team created a broad range of activities, with multiple simultaneous events. Casimiro added, “But they will be planned in a way that people have a chance to see all of them.” There will be plenty of after parties. The idea is that we bring people to see the events, but they can stay inside the platform and see a great performer and DJs. It’s going to be really fun.”

Inside the Metaverse Fashion Week runway arena. (Photo Credit: WWD)

The MVFW team anticipated a large number of new visitors joining the metaverse for the first time, so Decentraland offered instructions on their website to help first time visitors enter as guests. They also helped newcomers set up their digital wallets to shop, but visiting and touring the venues was free and open to all.

The opening installment began with Selfridges’ Decentraland venue on Wednesday, March 23rd, which was followed by four days of runway shows, brand activations, interactive experiences and countless shopping experiences across multiple digital storefronts which showcased wearable looks on avatars, NFTs, artworks and more.

Brands participating included Tommy Hilfiger, Dolce & Gabbana, Elie Saab, Nicholas Kirkwood, Perry Ellis, Imitation of Christ, Estée Lauder, Etro and many more, with several setting up shop in digital stores where guests could teleport, browse, and of course, shop.

In the Luxury Fashion District, Decentraland’s newest district, visitors were able to attend fashion shows and shop for luxury items in the metaverse. The Luxury Fashion District, which was sponsored by UNXD, a curated marketplace for the best of digital culture, and Vogue Arabia, was where many brands made their Web3 debut, such as Dolce & Gabbana, Etro, Elie Saab, Imitation of Christ, Dundas, Nicholas Kirkwood x White Rabbit, Faith Tribe, and Guo Pei.

Tommy Hilfiger remarked, “When I founded my namesake brand in 1985, I never imagined I’d see a time when fashion weeks would be held in a 3D, fully virtual world. As we further explore the Metaverse and all it has to offer, I’m inspired by the power of digital technology and the opportunities it presents to engage with communities in fascinating, relevant ways.”

The Rarible District hosted a temporary space with pop-up shops that included Placebo Digital Fashion House, The Fabricant, Fred Segal, Perry Ellis, Artisant in collaboration with Puma, Miss J Collection by Crypto Couture, NFT artist Marcomatic and more.

According to sourcingjournal.com, “Mango’s development in the metaverse environment is yet another example of the company’s innovative character and its strategy based on constant innovation,” said Jordi Álex, Mango’s director of technology, data, privacy and security. “We have created a specific team dedicated to the development of digital content, where new professionals will be joining in the coming months, in order to develop new projects in the future that will allow us to add the virtual environment to the digital and physical environments in our channel ecosystem.”

Oh, and if you are interested in owning property in the metaverse, (yes, you CAN buy property there and will need a realtor) you could go to the virtual real estate marketplace Parcel x Metaparty Community Precinct.  The Community Precinct offered a multilevel experience with mini-games, chill-out floor, and fashion show experience that highlighted Decentraland’s wearables designer community. Meanwhile, the MetaTokyo community launched a museum, Space by MetaTokyo, plus its own wearable collection through the Decentraland marketplace. DRESSX, was virtual store inside Metajuku, another shopping district.

Boson Protocol’s metaverse marketplace hosted more than a dozen brands that were selling NFTs tied to exclusive, real-world luxury products. Modeled after Paris’ Avenue Montaigne, this boulevard of metaverse stores featured brands such as Tommy Hilfiger and Hogan tomWeb3-first brands like Cider, IKKS, Deadfellaz, 8sian, The Rebels by House of Kalinkin, Christine Massarany, Anrealage, Wildfangz by Fang Gang, Wonder and more.

At Threedium Plaza, brands ranging from DKNY to Phygicode by Wyldflwr showcased their 3D creations in the plaza. Here, shops featured 3D wearable pieces, but also went beyond fashion with fun experiences including General Motors’ latest electric vehicles.

Interior view of Cash Labs’s mixed media art gallery. (Photo Credit: WWD)

The Meta Funaverse

Metaverse Fashion Week also hosted plenty of fun parties, such as #FashionFridays a pre-party show that got fashion week off to a festive start on TwitterSpaces. Luxury fashion house Dolce & Gabbana held the first after-show party, while Hogan + Exclusible held a soiree on Saturday. And the parties and festivities kept going on and on.

A few other captivating projects took place, such as The Vogu x Hype and Sophia the Robot’s look at the future of A.I. fashion, Imitation of Christ’s installation and performance, and a luxury eyewear store by Garrett Leight, with exclusive frames and wearables for your avatar.

The Philipp Plein show at Decentraland’s Metaverse Fashion Week. (Photo Credit: Martino Carrera)

Metaverse’s Early Adopters

German fashion designer Philipp Plein took the metaverse by storm. Viewers attending his event were provided the full fashion show experience with a runway show held in his own $1.4 million Decentraland estate, an afterparty with real-life DJs, and a see-now- buy-now collection, which was available as limited-run NFTs on Decentraland’s marketplace. His show took place on Thursday night at the Plein Plaza central square surrounded by Plein-branded skyscrapers. The runway was a metallic skull-shaped animatronic that opened its mouth revealing avatar models in the designer’s latest creations. The collection was named Pleinverse $eason 1 and was developed by Crypto King$, the nickname behind Plein and digital artist Antoni Tudisco, who spearheaded the label’s metaverse activities. The label also hosted an afterparty, with the Australian DJ duo Miriam and Olivia Nervo who were pumping up the music.

Italian luxury house Dolce & Gabbana held one of the most realistic metaverse fashion shows. Guests had to “teleport” to the location, and that’s only if they managed to understand how to do it. The experience was not unlike finding the right show address down the winding streets of Milan, Paris, London, or New York, with the exception of being stuck in traffic. As for the show, the label featured cat-faced avatar models emerge from two giant lotus-like structures dominating the two sides of the runway. Just like a IRL show, there was strobe lighting, upbeat music and charming digital clothing. Case in point, a LED-lit broad-shouldered mini frock. As for showgoers, attendance was disappointing, and they were not your typical fashion insiders. Some avatars jumped onto the runway while the show was going on, while other attendees typed in the chat box so they really did not pay attention to the models. While it was a fun experience, Dolce & Gabbana’s regular clients were missing from the scene.

Imitation of Christ. (Photo Credit: WWD)

The Imitation of Christ store was an ode to punk-rock fashion, as well as an antiwar statement. There were signs aimed at Putin to stop his war, as well as support for Ukraine and the Ukrainian flag. On the first floor, mannequins were dressed in streetwear looks, such as hoodies, catsuits, kilts, and fashionable combat boots. Meanwhile, on the second floor, you could find the label’s signature couture-like designs.

Scenes from Decentraland’s Metaverse Fashion Week. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Guo Pei, the Asian designer best known for her luxurious, couture-like pieces, had a boutique on Luxury Street. There you could find a digital version of the designers exquisite creations, but unfortunately, the digital version did not compare to the magnificent embroidery of the real-life version.

Meanwhile, for Selfridges, the goal was to offer a “fusion of fashion and art,” Jeannie Lee, head of buying for Selfridges, told WWD.“We currently have launched a project called ‘Universe,’ based on a collaboration with Paco Rabanne and [Victor] Vasarely,” she said. “He used the prints of it from the artwork, and we were so inspired that we decided to build a physical installation featuring artwork from the Fondation, then also wearable pieces from Paco Rabanne’s archives, from the 1966 collection called the ’12 Unwearable Dresses,’ and everything is on display like a museum-grade, temperature-controlled [exhibit] in Selfridges.”

Selfridges’ Decentraland venue, which opened Wednesday, evokes its real-world Birmingham, England, location. (Photo Credit: WWD)

In the future, Selfridges does plan to release NFTs, but at this point the store was used to create a visual experience and to celebrate fashion and art.

The Etro “Liquid Paisley” fashion show at Metaverse Fashion Week. (Photo Credit: Martino Carrera)

Etro also held a virtual runway show and pop-up shop in the Luxury Fashion District. The brand’s digital collection launched the Liquid Paisley pattern, “a contemporary take on one of the house’s most iconic codes, in a vibrant palette of fresh and joyful shades, with a gender-fluid approach driven by Etro’s open and inclusive vision. A collection without gender boundaries in a fashion show that will be accessible to everyone,” Veronica Etro, creative director of the women’s collection, said in a statement to WWD. Customers will be able to buy Etro’s ready-to-wear and accessories, as well as customize their avatars with collection items.

In a recent interview with Luis Fernandez of @LUISFERN5 Creative Design Agency, published on the CFDA website, Fernandez was quite bullish on the future of the metaverse for fashion, especially the experiential ‘Store of the Future”.

As we enter this new digital universe, the opportunities are endless. It will take the creative and entrepreneurial minds of those of us in the fashion industry to push the boundaries and to be on the cutting edge of how to marry the ‘real’ world with the ‘tech’ world. Let’s face it, no one ever thought that online fashion education would ever be a ‘thing’ when University of Fashion burst onto to scene in 2008, right? Meanwhile…. We are now madly working on lessons for our subscribers on how to design in 3D. So stay tuned!

Tell us, are you as exited about the metaverse as we are? Will you use the Metaverse to build your brand?

HOW THE FASHION INDUSTRY IS SUPPORTING UKRAINE AS WAR RAGES ON

ALL WE ARE SAYING IS GIVE PEACE A CHANCE…….

It was 1969, in room #1742 of Montreal’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel, that John Lennon wrote “Give Peace a Chance“.  The anti-war song, originally meant to be a “revolutionary” song for workers, has once again become the battlecry for our times. When on March 9th, a Ukrainian maternity and children’s hospital in Mariupol, southern Ukraine, was bombed we were all shocked to our core. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said the bombing was “proof of a genocide.” No one could disagree. As the world watches, in horror, the atrocities being inflicted by Putin on innocent civilians in Ukraine, the fashion industry is stepping up, not only by banding together in solidarity, but doing much more. Read on.

An injured pregnant woman leaves the damaged hospital with her belongings. (Photo Credit: AP)

President Zelenskyy and his people are fighting back, a true David & Goliath story come to life. Most of the world is rooting for Ukraine to win, but in war, no one ever truly wins as the death toll is growing daily. As of this writing, over two million people have fled Ukraine and families are being ripped apart as women, children, and the elderly are leaving their loved ones, homes, and all their possessions behind to find refugee throughout Europe and the U.S. Men and many women are staying behind to fight for their land, many untrained, as civilians are given guns and quickly trained to aim and shoot to protect themselves.

For now, the West is aiding Ukraine with weapons, money, and medical necessities. As of March 9th, the U.S. House of Representatives voted with a wide bipartisan majority to pass a ban on importing Russian oil, natural gas and coal into the United States. A move that can further cripple the Russian economy. The bill will also take steps to revisit Russia’s role in the World Trade Organization and reauthorize the Magnitsky Act to strengthen sanctions on Russia for human rights violations.

Protests against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are being held throughout Europe and the United States. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Fashion Industry Responds

When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022 in the middle of Milan Fashion Week, many designers and brands immediately began donating to various charities, as well as temporarily closing their stores throughout Russia.

Protest pictures during Milan Fall 2022 Fashion Week. (Photo Credit: Acielle Tanbetova)

Designers from Giorgio Armani to Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia (who was a child refugee himself as he fled his homeland of Georgia in 1993 at the age of twelve) have been speaking up against the conflict; and numerous international brands and luxury fashion groups, from LVMH and Kering to Prada, Hermès and H&M, announced they were temporarily stopping their commercial activities and shuttering their stores in Russia as a sign of protest against the war on Ukraine.

A man walks past a closed H&M store in a St. Petersburg, Russia, shopping center. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

“We are currently living through a war in the heart of Europe. We strongly condemn it and we are close to the population involved in this tremendous situation,” said Italy’s Camera della Moda in a statement to WWD on the fashion retail situation in Russia. They went on to say that “the temporary closure of the retail stores in Russia is not contemplated by the regulations on sanctions currently in force in Europe, it is a voluntary decision that has been made by many national and international brands that have a direct retail distribution organization. However, we recall that many brands sell their collections in Russia through distributors or dealers and therefore cannot, including from a contractual point of view, close the sales areas in the season, as they already delivered the spring/summer collection in the past few months.”

The statement underscored that the Camera’s “commitment today is aimed at being close to all those who are suffering and this is why we have joined the UNHCR at its side in fund-raising to support the refugees with concrete aid for the people and families forced to flee within the national boundaries or to neighboring countries.”

Protests in Milan against the Russian attack on Ukraine. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Global and wide-ranging sanctions on Russia are bound to drastically impact those brands and businesses with a retail footprint in in the country, but in the humanitarian aspect of the crisis it is vital to take a stand. To that end, the fashion industry has united and is stepping up its efforts during this time of crisis.

Here’s a roundup of the initiatives taken by the fashion industry thus far:

LVMH

LVMH, the world’s largest luxury conglomerate (owning brands such as Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Fendi, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, and Stella McCartney to name a few) donated €5 million ($5.4 million USD) to support the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) “to help the direct and indirect victims of this conflict.”

In addition, the company stands in solidarity with Ukraine and closed 124 of its stores in Russia. LVMH will still continue to pay its 3,500 employees in Russia.

LOUIS VUITTON

The French luxury powerhouse Louis Vuitton, made an immediate donation of €1 million ($1.09 million USD) to UNICEF, to provide aid for Ukrainian children and families.

“As millions of children and their families are facing immediate danger, the Maison, through the Louis Vuitton for UNICEF partnership, pledges to support UNICEF’s emergency response on the ground, responding swiftly to any emergencies by providing children and families in Ukraine with humanitarian aid including access to clean water, healthcare and education supplies, child protection services and psychosocial care,” the brand shared in a statement.

KERING

Kering, owner of Gucci and Saint Laurent among other brands, said on Instagram that it was making a “significant donation to the UNHCR, the United Nations Refugees Agency,” though it did not specify the amount.

GUCCI

Gucci enacted its global charity campaign Chime for Change and donated $500,000 to the UNHCR.

BALENCIAGA

The French label Balenciaga donated an undisclosed amount to the World Food Program (WFP), which launched an emergency operation to provide food assistance for people fleeing Ukraine and in neighboring countries.

CHANEL

The iconic French fashion house closed its stores in Russia and halted all e-commerce in the country. The brand also donated €2 million (about $2.18 million) to two relief organizations, CARE and UNHCR-UN Refugee Agency, which is “recognized for refugee support at the borders and for the specific care of families and children.”

In an Instagram post, the fashion house also announced that “Foundation Chanel will be working closely with its local partners to provide future critical support over the medium and long term to women and children impacted by this evolving situation.”

GIORGIO ARMANI

After showing its latest collection in Milan in silence, out of respect for the war in Ukraine, the Armani Group announced a donation of €500,000 (about $543,000) to UNHCR “for the assistance and protection of those who have been forced to flee the war in Ukraine.”

The company is also donating clothing essentials to refugees through the Italian nonprofit organization Comunità di Sant’Egidio, which already has a presence on the borders of Ukraine.

FASHION MODELS

Argentine model Mica Argañaraz, a regular presence on almost every major runway, posted on her Instagram story, “I have to say it feels very weird walking fashion shows knowing there’s a war happening in the same continent.” She noted that she would “be donating part of my earnings of this fashion week to help Ukrainian organizations” and called on fellow models to do the same. Supermodel sisters Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kaia Gerber, Vittoria Ceretti, Kiki Willems, Francesca Summers, and Aylah Peterson have also joined the movement and will donate part of their earnings to Ukraine.

L’OREAL PARIS

The cosmetic giant L’Oréal Paris, has teamed up with a number of local and international nonprofits (including UNHCR, Red Cross and UNICEF) to support the growing number of refugees, and people on the ground in Ukraine with a donation of €1 million ($1.09 million) through its L’Oréal Fund for Women.

“We have already made a donation of one million euros and have started to deliver hygiene products to NGOs in Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania and in Ukraine itself,” a statement reads on the company’s corporate website. “We will donate 300,000 products over the coming weeks.”

The beauty brand continues: “We strongly condemn the invasion and war in Ukraine, which is causing so much suffering to the Ukrainian people. Our thoughts go out to our 326 Ukrainian employees, their families and the people of Ukraine whose lives have been changed so dramatically in the last eight days. Although some have managed to cross the border, the majority of our employees remain in the country in increasingly harsh circumstances. We are concerned about them and fear for their safety.”

HERMES

Hèrmes announced that it would “temporarily close our stores in Russia and pause all our commercial activities,” where they have three stores and 60 employees.

BURBERRY

Burberry has shut down its three stores in Russia. The British luxury house brand also donated an undisclosed amount to the British Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal. It also said it would match any employee donations to charities supporting humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.

VALENTINO

Italian luxury house Valentino donated €500,000 (about $543,000) to the UNHCR to provide immediate help to the Ukrainian refugees.

RALPH LAUREN

Given the urgency of the situation, the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation has made an immediate donation to @CARE.org, an organization working with partners to provide critical support and aid to Ukrainian families and is double-matching employee donations to CARE. In addition, it is partnering with its network of international charities to donate essential clothing that will be distributed throughout Ukraine as well as in bordering countries to reach refugees. The company has paused operations in Russia.

TORY BURCH

Tory Burch is supporting World Central Kitchen, which is on the ground in Poland feeding hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees. The company has made a donation and pledged to match any employee donations throughout the month of March.

COACH

Coach’s parent company’s Tapestry Foundation has donated to the United Nations Refugee Agency to provide safety and shelter to those who have been displaced.

MINIMALIST

Tamara Davydova is the fashion designer behind the brand MINIMALIST and was born, raised, and married in Kyiv, Ukraine. She founded the circular fashion brand MINIMALIST last year and is devastated by what’s currently happening in her homeland and affecting friends and family. She’s pledging 30% of the proceeds from sales of her collection to the Red Cross and UNICEF in Ukraine plus offering 10% off to customers using the code TOGETHER at checkout. The collection is available at minimalist.nyc.

ADIDAS

Athletic brand Adidas has suspended its long-term partnership with the Russian Football Union (RFU), the German sportswear company also announced it would be is donating €100,000 (about $108,700) as well as footwear and apparel to organizations helping children and refugees.

H&M

The fast-fashion retailer H&M has currently paused all sales in Russia and closed its 170 stores located throughout the country.

ASOS

Fast-fashion company ASOS said on Twitter that it would no longer be doing any retail out of Russia.

“We’ve been watching the shocking events in Ukraine in horror and disbelief. We’ve concluded it’s neither practical nor right to continue to trade in Russia & today have suspended sales there,” the brand wrote. “We’re supporting the humanitarian effort and our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine.”

MANGO

Mango has halted sales in Russia and donated €100,000 (about $108,700) to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

GANNI

Ganni, the Danish contemporary ready-to-wear fashion brand, donated 100.000 DKK (approx. $14,700) to the Danish Refugee Council, a nonprofit currently on the ground helping the crisis in Ukraine.

 

As governments around the world grapple with how to stop Putin’s war and the needless suffering, we will continue to keep an eye on how the fashion industry, and hopefully soon the music industry, is doing its part. At UoF we are donating to Ukrainian children through UNICEF USA.

Here’s a list of the organizations that the fashion industry is donating to:

International Committee of the Red Cross

United Nations Refugees Agency

Direct Relief

Mercy Corps

International Medical Corps

Save the Children

Unicef USA

So tell us, how are you helping to support Ukraine in these troubling times?

NYC’S WHIMSICAL HOLIDAY WINDOWS: A VISUAL MERCHANDISING BONANZA

Saks Fifth Avenue unveiled its holiday windows. (Photo Credit: Gothamist)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…..especially for stores as the holiday season is one of the most profitable times of year for retailers. In New York City, both department stores and boutiques alike get festive with creative windows that tourists and city residents line up to view. Last winter, due to the pandemic, most retailers opted for more minimalistic displays; but for the 2021 season, stores such as Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, and Bergdorf Goodman have pull out all the stops with their window displays. Their exceptionally positive holiday windows are sending good vibes out to the city streets.

Children gazing at the Macy’s Christmas window displays early 1900s. (Photo Credit: Bain Collection/ Library of Congress)

Macy’s is acknowledged as bringing holiday windows to New York City in 1874, with an extravagant display on 34th Street in Herald Square. Over the years, now-shuttered retailers along Fifth Avenue, namely Lord & Taylor, B. Altman and I Magnin,  competed to outshine each other with dazzlingly creative holiday window installations that drew crowds, inspired family traditions, and gave tourists another reason to visit New York City in December.

“Most of them did not feature merchandise,” said Sheryll Bellman, the author of Through the Shopping Glass: A Century of New York Christmas Windows“It was to delight the public. It was their gift to the city.”

This year, with retailers optimistic about the holiday shopping season, these creative and magical windows are drawing shoppers and fans of visual merchandising in droves to the city. They ogle and ogle and of course take selfies in front of the windows. Sometimes for good causes.

Michelle Obama unveiled the Saks windows and promoted her charity, Girls Opportunity Alliance. (Photo Credit: The New York Times)

Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship store in New York City, who has some of the most impressive holiday windows, drew former First Lady Michelle Obama. Mrs. Obama was there to promote a partnership between Saks and the Obama Foundation’s Girls Opportunity Alliance. December is the month for giving, and the department store donated $1 million to the foundation. Some of Saks’ windows featured looks from a few of  Ms. Obama’s favorite designers, Jason Wu, Philip Lim and Oscar de la Renta, with 100 percent of the net proceeds this year going to the foundation. The collections not only included clothing, but also housewares, beauty, and accessories.

Saks Fifth Avenue unveiled its holiday windows. (Photo Credit: Gothamist)

According to Andrew Winton, senior vice president of creative at Saks, who oversees the holiday displays, the company asked NYC children to draw and describe their holiday dreams — of homes, beaches, and games —and then the Saks window artists brought those images to life. “The style is sort of candy-coated imagination,” said Winton in an interview with The New York Times.

Shoppers walking by a Macy’s window. (Photo Credit: The New York Times)

Visual Story-telling

This season, Macy’s holiday windows tell the story of Tiptoe, a spunky reindeer who goes on a magical journey as she dreams of flying, attending flight school, and ultimately joining Santa’s crew. “Macy’s Herald Square is the home for holiday magic and our iconic Broadway windows have for more than 100 years showcased animated wonders that inspire and delight,” said Manuel Urquizo, National Director of Visual Campaigns and Windows for Macy’s to The New York Times. “With Tiptoe, we have created a whimsical story highlighting the important power of belief and the joy and wonder of the season.”

Macy’s 2021 holiday window displays. (Photo Credit: Gothamist)

Holiday cheer also filled the streets in front of Bloomingdale’s as the store’s visual team stuffed the Lexington Avenue windows with items that delighted them as children. One window displayed a T. Rex covered in ornaments riding a skateboard. Another window a hot pink mannequin in glitter roller skates twirling around in a sequined clamshell.

The windows at Bloomingdale’s are stuffed with oversize toys. (Photo Credit: The New York Times)

“Every year, we look forward to our holiday unveiling event as a gift to our customers and the city of New York. And, this year, we are even more excited to come back together and celebrate,” said Frank Berman, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Bloomingdale’s in an interview with Gothamist.

Bloomingdale’s 2021 holiday window displays. (Photo Credit: Gothamist)

The luxury department store Bergdorf Goodman ran with the theme “The Present Moment,” illustrating joyful moments in which characters are in the moment.  “Life is turning around again,” said Linda Fargo, the Bergdorf Goodman fashion director, as the department store unveiled its holiday windows.

Bergdorf Goodman 2021 holiday window displays. (Photo Credit: Gothamist)

In one holiday display, there was a mermaid wearing a sequined magenta dress by C.D. Greene resting on a bedazzled motorcycle surrounded by pointy-nosed fish. In another window, a mannequin wearing an embroidered gold Schiaparelli dress and jacket is dancing on the moon.

Each installation celebrates a different mood: adventurous, harmonious and frisky. David Hoey, Bergdorf’s senior director of visual presentation, told The New York Times that the windows were inspired by a psychedelic sculpture of a green bird. “Last year was kind of minimalism,” Mr. Hoey said. “This year is maximalism which is our trademark.”

The windows at Bergdorf Goodman evoke a psychedelic jungle. (Photo Credit: The New York Times)

“These windows are extremely complicated to install, considering the layers of scenery and props,” Hoey told Yahoo. “Windows are usually tight spaces. It’s like sensory overload. We purposely overstuff these windows in a designed kind of a way, attempting to induce an aesthetic delirium. To us, they are extremely holiday and festive. A state of mind. While we don’t necessarily have Santa Claus, we do have a spirit of holiday.”

 NEW UOF VISUAL MERCHANDISING LESSON SERIES LAUNCHES

If you’re a fan of store windows and in-store displays like we are, check out our new 9-part series on the art of visual merchandising, taught by Parsons & UoF professor Marcie Cooperman. You’ll find them in our Fashion Business Discipline

 

JUST A REMINDER

Take advantage of our once-yearly subscription deals. Gift that fashionista in your life or heck…why not treat yourself?

Get $40 off a yearly subscription (was $189 now $149) https://www.universityoffashion.com/holiday-offer/ Promo Code: Deal21

Or get $5 off the first month of our Monthly subscription (was $19.95 now $14.95) https://www.universityoffashion.com/holiday-offer/ Promo Code: Promo21

Offers expire 1/1/22

 

SO TELL US, WHICH RETAILER DO YOU THINK HAS THE MOST CREATIVE HOLIDAY WINDOWS?

 

 

 

 

HOUSE OF GUCCI: A TRUE STORY OF MURDER, MADNESS, GLAMOUR, AND GREED

House of Gucci Cast hits the Red Carpet for UK Premiere. Left to right: Salma Hayek, Jared Leto, Adam Driver, and Lady Gaga. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

How does a poor Italian bellhop become the genius behind one of the biggest luxury brands in the world? Meet Guccio  Giovanbattista Giacinto Dario Maria Gucci.  The rest is history! Read on….

Guccio Gucci – Fashion Elite

Guccio Gucci (Image credit: Wikipedia)

In the ’70s, the House of Gucci was all about high fashion, intrigue and murder- the fashion industry’s crime of the century (until the unfortunate murder of Gianni Versace). On November 24th (Thanksgiving weekend in the U.S.), the highly anticipated film “House of Gucci” will be released in theaters. The film stars Adam Driver and Lady Gaga, (as they play Mauricio and Patrizia Gucci) and details the rise of Gucci and the real-life murder of Maurizio Gucci at the hand of a hitman – hired by the fashion heir’s ex-wife, Patrizia Reggiani. While fashionistas and Gucci fans eagerly await the Ridley Scott film, members of the Gucci family have expressed disgust over the film. Sorpresa?

Left: A photo of Maurizio Gucci and his ex-wife Patrizia. Right: a photo from the House of Gucci film starring Adam Driver and Lady Gaga. (Photo Credit: The New York Post)

“They are stealing the identity of a family to make a profit, to increase the income of the Hollywood system,” Patrizia Gucci’s, Maurizio’s cousin, complained to Associated Press of director Ridley Scott and his collaborators. She is particularly piqued at Al Pacino playing her grandfather Aldo, son of the fashion house’s founder, Guccio. She claimed that “House of Gucci” based on Sara Forden’s 2000 book “The House of Gucci” — portrays her grandfather as “fat, short, with sideburns, really ugly. Shameful … ”

A poster for the House of Gucci. (Poster art copyright belongs to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bron Creative, and Scott Free Productions)

But nothing is as shameful as the actual events that inspired the film. A story so wild that not even Hollywood could have imagined. On March 27, 1995, Maurizio Gucci was excited to marry his girlfriend of four years, Paola Franchi, a beautiful artist with whom he shared a luxurious apartment on Milan’s exclusive Corso Venezia. That day was like any other as the fashion heir walked to his office in a designer suit and camel coat. He nodded to his doorman, and then bam, the first bullet hit Maurizio in the back. Another silenced bullet struck him below the waist and a third bullet glanced his arm. He fell to the ground and took the final hit, a fatal shot to the skull by an unseen shooter.

The doorman sat dazed on a step as he had also been hit by a bullet in the arm. Police rushed to the scene, but the killer got away.

“Never before do I remember a murder like that, right in the center of Milan,” Maurizio Manca, owner of the city’s Bozart Jewelry, told The Post. “It would be like seeing the president of Tiffany killed in front of his store on Fifth Avenue.”

THE HISTORY OF THE GUCCI FAMILY

As a young man Guccio Gucci worked as a bellhop at London’s Savoy Hotel. It was there that he was inspired by the elegant suitcases of affluent travelers and so in 1921 he unveiled his own luggage company in Florence. Gucci expanded to handbags and other accessories in the ’30s, followed by clothing with the 1968 opening of his Beverly Hills boutique. By then, Gucci’s infamous double-G logo counted Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren and Princess Grace of Monaco as devotees. A true rags-to-riches story.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis wearing a black dress, sunglasses, and the Gucci “Jackie” handbag in New York on September 18, 1968. (Photo Credit: Fairchild Archives)

Although Guccio Gucci built himself a fashion empire, throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s family drama would fracture the business. Two of Guccio Gucci’s grandsons tried to introduce spinoff brands to capitalize on the Gucci name. A third grandson, Maurizio, the only child of Rodolfo Gucci (one of Guccio’s five sons), inherited his father’s majority stake in the Gucci company. Naturally, this led to family infighting, resulting in Maurizio’s public legal battle against his uncle, Aldo Gucci, contesting for full control of the company. Then, in the early Eighties, Maurizio gained full control of the Gucci brand.

Maurizio Gucci greets guest during a party for the opening of Gucci’s Worth Ave boutique in Palm Beach on December 5, 1975. (Photo Credit: WWD)

“Maurizio was not a businessman; he was a playboy,” Karen Homer, author of Little Book of Gucci, told The Post. He became known for his excessive spending — buying homes around the world and a wooden yacht once owned by shipping tycoon Stavros Niarchos.

In 1972, Mauricio Gucci married Patrizia Reggiani, who came from a “humble background,” according to Luisa Zargani, the Women’s Wear Daily bureau chief in Milan.

Maurizio Gucci and Patrizia Reggiani married in 1972, had two daughters and divorced in 1985. (Photo Credit: MEGA)

Maurizio’s new bride loved spending as much as he did. Patrizia quickly became known as “Lady Gucci,” embracing her new life and embodied the brand. She became most eccentric as she swanned around in mink coats, dripping with diamonds, and traveling with the jet-set. “She loved jewelry and big furs. You could call her a social climber,” said Zargani. “She attended the big parties but was not sophisticated or refined. It was all about appearances.”

The lavish couple had two daughters together, Alessandra and Allegra. But in 1985, Maurizio left on a business trip, and never came home. He had left Reggiani for a younger woman named Paola Franchi. His ex-wife Patrizia reportedly received a half a million dollars a year in alimony as part of their divorce settlement.

But Maurizio Gucci was not a businessman and soon the Gucci brand was in major financial trouble. In 1988, the Gucci heir sold 48.8% of the company to Bahrain-based Investcorp, which also owned Tiffany & Co. But Mauricio kept up his lavish lifestyle and continued to spend freely on Gucci headquarters in Florence and Milan. By 1993, Maurizio sold the remaining shares to Investcorp — netting himself a payout of $170 million and severing family ties with the company his grandfather founded.

After Maurizio’s assassination on March 27, 1995, gossip circulated around Milan’s high society that perhaps his murder was tied to his financial troubles. “There were thoughts that he had borrowed money from the wrong people,” said Zargani. “They thought that maybe it was a vendetta.”

The murder scene of Maurizio Gucci in 1995. (Photo Credit: Shutterstock)

Two years later and the search for Maurizio’s killer had hit a dead end. But in 1997, a man named Gabriele Carpanese reached out to detectives with information— and a tale of jealousy, money and murder began to unwind.

Gabriele Carpanese claimed that Patrizia Reggiani wanted revenge on her ex-husband; the man who had catapulted her into Milan’s high society, lavished her with over-the-top gifts and then broke her down through their divorce. The final insult to Patrizia’s ego was when Maurizio sold the Gucci brand. “She was livid when he sold out to Investcorp,” author Homer told The Post. Even as his ex, “it took her crown away. She was not the Gucci Princess anymore.”

Reggiani did not hide her anger towards Maurizio. According to The House of Gucci, she told her maid: “If it’s the last thing I do, I want to see him dead.” She stated similar emotions to an attorney and even blamed her ex for a brain tumor she’d been diagnosed with, which caused crippling headaches and left her afflicted with seizures. She allegedly asked a butcher about killing Maurizio.

According to Carpanese, Reggiani had confided in psychic Pina Auriemma, who was staying at Hotel Adry, the two-star Milan hotel where Carpanese lived.

He claimed the women planned to kill Maurizio and that Auriemma enlisted the help of the building’s doorkeeper, Ivano Savioni, who, in turn, introduced them to a getaway driver (Orazio Cicala, a restaurant manager) and a hitman Benedetto Ceraulo, a cash-strapped pizzeria owner. According to The House of Gucci,  Carpanese claimed that Reggiani put up $375,000 for the assassination of Maurizio.

In court, Reggiani admitted to paying Auriemma the money, but contended that it was not for murder; she claimed that Auriemma set up the hit independently and threatened to frame Reggiani if she didn’t pay them. But, Reggiani inconsistently added: “It was worth every lira.”

Even after the murder on her ex-husband, Reggiani resumed living the life of Lady Gucci, and her co-conspirators felt short-changed. When they asked for more money she refused and so a frustrated Savioni complained to Carpanese, who immediately went to the cops.

Carpanese was now involved and offered to introduce the gang to a Medellín drug cartel enforcer who could apply pressure to Reggiani about extra money, the team jumped at the chance. But there was just one problem, the enforcer Capanese introduced them to was really an undercover cop and secretly recorded their confessions.

Thanks to Carpanse, all five collaborators in the Gucci murder were arrested. But Lady Gucci — now nicknamed “Black Widow ” by the Italian dailies — made the biggest splash at police headquarters. According to The House of Gucci, she wore a floor-length mink and glittering diamonds as police escorted her from her home.

Patrizia Reggiani was arrested in 1997. (Photo Credit: Associated Press)

All were found guilty. Reggiani and Cicala were sentenced to 29 years in prison each, while hitman Ceraulo was sentenced to life in prison. Auriemma got 24 years and Savioni received 26.

Patrizia Reggiani served 16 years of her term. Her attorney Danilo Buongiorno attributed the early release in 2014 to “good conduct” and health reasons. Remorse, evidently, had nothing to do with it.

When an Italian televison crew asked Reggiani why she hired a hit man instead of killing Maurizio herself, the feisty Black Widow replied: “My eyesight is not so good. I didn’t want to miss.”

To this day Patrizia Reggiani claims that she is innocent and was set up by the psychic. She even told Buongiorno, “I’m not guilty, but I’m not innocent.”

Buongiorno told The Post: “She thought she had made some mistakes in her life. But she always said she did not kill her husband … She always said she did not pay anyone to commit the murder.”

After prison, Patrizia Reggiani became a design consultant for the jewelry company Bozart. “She was like a queen before she entered jail and she was like a queen when she came out,” Bozart Jewelry owner Manca said of Reggiani. “When we met [in 2014], it was like a flashback to the ’80s.”

Reggiani worked for the jewelry brand until 2017 when she had a falling-out with Manca. “She lives in Milan, in her mother’s house and does not work anymore,” Manca said of Patrizia Reggiani who is now 72 years old. “I miss her a little bit.”

Reggiani told the Guardian that she is estranged from children, Alessandra and Allegra, both now married. In 2017 an Italian court ruled that Reggiani is entitled to some $1 million per year, which Maurizio agreed to provide her in 1993, from his estate.

“She lost everything when she had her husband killed,” Women’s Wear Daily’s Zargani said. “She did everything she could to be part of the jet-set world, and through the killing of her husband, she lost that.”

After all that has transpired between Patrizia Reggiani and the Gucci family and brand, Reggiani had the nerve to say she should be hired by the Gucci brand. “They need me,” she told La Republica. “I still feel like a Gucci — in fact, the most Gucci of them all.”

Want more Gucci drama? Check out the Wondery podcast, Even the Rich. Their three-part series, Murder in the House of Gucci, is lots of fun!

 

So tell us, which designer house would you like to see Hollywood bring to life next?

Welcome to the Metaverse: How Fashion and Cartoon Avatars Can Build Your Brand

(Image from the Balenciaga-themed episode of The Simpsons released by the brand during Paris Fashion Week Spring 2022)

In a previous UoF blog, we covered how Balenciaga’s creative director, Demna Gvasalia, co-created a bespoke 10-minute episode of The Simpsons, in which Homer tries to learn the correct pronunciation of the brand name, “buh-len-see-aa-guh” and seeks to find the perfect birthday gift for his wife Marge. The episode premiered during Paris Fashion Week 2022 at a red carpet event held at Théâtre de Chatelet, with a star power assist from Isabelle Huppert, Eliot Page, Cardi B and Naomi Campbell. It was a huge success, and the fashion industry took note. Another marketing avenue was paved.

Can I create my own DIY Cartoon Character?

The answer is YES! With computer gaming on the rise, especially among Millennial and Gen Zers, some famous fashion brands have already gotten in on the act, creating fashion outfits for computer game characters. Not only does fashion created for characters add prestige to the games themselves, but they help bring brand awareness to a new cohort of potential customers who wouldn’t ordinarily shop heritage fashion houses, such as Vuitton, Balenciaga and Ralph Lauren.

Today, cartoon generator websites like turnmeyellow.com and getcartoonizer.com instruct you on how to take your photo (2D only) and then create a downloadable digital file of yourself, for example, a Simpson’s “yellow” character, or a character from Comedy Central’s hit series, South Park. However, while these apps will transform your photo to have the “same look” as a Simpson’s or a South Park character, obviously you are not actually a copyrighted character from these shows and therefore they cannot be used for commercial purposes. In the case of Balenciaga, their team worked closely with The Simpsons’ creators directly, and received permission to use their characters (and created new ones) to promote the Balenciaga brand.

Are personalized fashion avatars the next wave?

(Image credits: Ready Player Me)

Yes. The next wave is to create your own personalized fashion avatar and the marketing possibilities are endless. Either way, these new marketing tools have designers jumping for joy.

If you are familiar with 3D design software, such as CLO3D, Browzwear, Optitex, Gerber, and Tukatech, then you know how realistic-looking fashion avatars have become. And so, it comes as no surprise that apps for gaming and fashion-generation are now available to the general public.

One avatar creation app is Ready Player Me by Wolf3D, where you can create an avatar with or without a picture, specify gender (or not), and specify skin tone and hair. By generating a personal avatar from a selfie image, you’re able to use it in different gaming and virtual applications. In a newly announced partnership with metaverse fashion leader RTFKT, you’re able to use their shoes and jackets to customize your avatar and you have access to hundreds of hairstyles, eyebrows, glasses and other options. All of these assets are free for Ready Player Me users. In addition, their avatars can be used with gaming platforms such as, Unity and Unreal Engine and have web and IOS integration.

By the way, the personal plans and/or student plans from the two main game engines are free.

Platform Link
Unity https://store.unity.com/compare-plans
UnReal Engine https://www.unrealengine.com/en-US/download

 

(Image credits: Ready Player Me)

How early 2D fashion toys helped build brands, thus paving the way for today’s digital fashion cartoons & avatars

(Image credit: Bunty’s cut-out paper dolls from Pinterest)

If you are of a certain age, then you might just remember a time when ‘cut-out dolls’ were all the rage. Girls would spend hours folding clothes with paper tabs over figures made of paper or thin cardboard (in fact, some of us even designed our own paper clothes!). Paper dolls, dating back to the mid 1600s, were mostly used as children’s toys. However, eventually they found their way into advertising. with movie stars and celebrities as the focus.

Fast forward to the 21st century. Now you can create your own fashion ‘doll’ (avatar) to use for AR experiences on your phone and to bring your own personalized avatar into your favorite computer games.

With some entrepreneurial spirit, some mad computer & design skills, why not create your own computer game or cartoon character to promote your brand?

(Image credit: House of Math)

Let’s take a look at House of Math for inspiration. It’s a good example of using avatars to promote personalized learning. According to House of Math: This gamified platform offers games, the whole curriculum for K12, math drills, boot camps, study techniques and problem solving. You can also create your own 3D-avatar which takes your through all your activities. In addition, we have Mentor-on-Demand: a teaching service where you can either chat, video chat or have a one of our over 140 mentors come and teach at your home.“

(Image credit: Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow on YouTube)

And let’s not forget Demna Gvasalia’s bespoke video game in 2020 entitled, “Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow”. 

How would I get my designs to games?

As you may have guessed, creating your own good computer game can cost thousands, and unless you or someone you know has some serious gaming chops, your best bet is to explore existing gaming platforms that allow you to design clothes for a particular game so that you can market your designs through your own social media channels. While there are services and software to make this easier, those may come with a fee.

To all our aspiring tech-savvy designers out there who are interested in promoting their own designs through computer games, let’s look at some popular garment design software and how to get your designs to games.

Remember, for games, you will need to export the garments and the avatar on whom you design the garments. CLO3D and Browzwear will allow you to export certain avatars. Marvelous Designer is similar to CLO3D and is focused on Animation and Gaming, but if you are using CLO3D for clothing design, there may be a different workflow.

Where to get started?

Let’s start with Browzwear and CLO3D. Since in any game, your avatar will want to move, both platforms have avatars that are already rigged and ready to export as FBX file types.

Tutorials on Automation Source
https://browzwear.com/watch-your-designs-come-to-life-with-the-vstitcher-animation-workspace/ Browzwear
https://support.browzwear.com/VStitcher/Export/settings.htm#ExportFBX Browzwear
https://support.clo3d.com/hc/en-us/articles/360055227373-Automatic-Rigging-Converter-ver-6-0- CLO3D
https://support.clo3d.com/hc/en-us/articles/115000526908-3D-File-FBX-Import-Export CLO3D

 

And if you want to use other poses or use other avatars, Mixamo works with Browzwear and this workflow is explained by Browzwear.

https://www.mixamo.com/#/ Mixamo Adobe

 

If your game allows import of your own avatar, they will give detailed instructions.

Game/ Platform Link
VRChat https://www.gameskinny.com/9c6x1/vrchat-guide-how-to-create-custom-avatars
Animaze https://www.animaze.us/manual/gettingstarted3d/animaze3d
Valheimians https://www.valheimians.com/article/how-to-import-custom-avatars-in-valheim-multiplayer-with-valheimvrm-mod/
Roblox https://developer.roblox.com/en-us/articles/using-avatar-importer

 

But what if I want to get my designs into video format instead?

Good news, Browzwear can save to an MP4 and CLO3D can save to an MP4 or MOV file. You can also download garments with movement without the avatars. If you know how to edit MP4 files, this is another method to get your designs visible.

Tutorials on MP4 / MOV files Source
https://browzwear.com/watch-your-designs-come-to-life-with-the-vstitcher-animation-workspace/ Browzwear
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adx8WPVA92o&t=380s Browzwear
https://support.clo3d.com/hc/en-us/articles/115004522187-Animation-Video-Capture CLO3D
https://invideo.io/blog/how-to-merge-videos-in-windows-10/ Invideo.io

 

If you are less tech-savvy but love to draw, why not create your own cartoon character?

(Image credits: Sew Sketchy)

Sew Sketchy

Sew Sketchy is the brainchild of fashion illustrator/influencer/Parsons graduate, Romy Schreiber. Followers of Schreiber’s Sew Sketchy character have a ball as they watch Sew Sketchy explore life as a fashionista. In Schreiber’s own words, “she is a sartirical personification of the fashion girl stereotypes yet what you read is 100% inspired by her real life.”

Image credits: Sew Sketchy

The Most Stylish Cartoon Characters Best Dressed Lists

(Image credit: Cosmopolitan magazine, 2014)

Oh, and did you know? There are several ‘Best Dressed Lists’ when it comes to rating the most stylish cartoon characters (spoiler alert…Olive Oil from Popeye is not one of them). For example, there is Anime Motivation’s “The Best Anime Character Outfits”, 3Dtotal’s “15 Stylized Characters of Spring 2021”, Sara Scoop’s, “The 10 Most Stylish Disney Characters”, Cosmopolitan magazine’s “The Most Stylist Cartoon Characters of All Time”, Attire Club’s “The Most Stylish Male Cartoons Characters on TV”, MsMojo’s “Top 10 Cartoon Characters Who are Totally Fashion Goals”, and Elle magazine’s “Fashionable Cartoon Characters”.

But, in my book, the best of all is Pixar’s character Edna “E” Mode, the half-Japanese, half-German fashion designer from the animated cartoon, The Incredibles. Why? Not only does she have her own personal style, but she also knows how to design for all of the characters in the show.

Design wise, Edna Mode from the start was all about shape and size inclusivity, even before it was popular. She designed to the ‘person’s strengths’ and made personalized clothes just for them.

“I never look back, dahling. It distracts from the now.”

—Edna Mode

Too bad I can’t hire her for any of my own future products!

(Image credit: Pixar)

So, tell us, do you have a fav cartoon or game character and how motivated are you to use gaming to market your brand?

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)

https://youtu.be/cVQVxcK6v3A

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?