University of Fashion Blog

Category "Fashion Events"

And the Winners Are……

- - Fashion Events
Adwoa Aboah, Model of the Year (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Adwoa Aboah, Model of the Year (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

On Monday, December 4th, the biggest names in the fashion industry – from Donatella Versace to Stella McCartney – partied it up with lovely Hollywood entertainers – like Selina Gomez and Pink – as well as fashion-loving socialites – Lady Amelia Windsor was one of the best dressed of the evening – for England’s biggest fashion event of the year, the British Fashion Council’s annual Fashion Awards (formerly known as the British Fashion Awards).  In partnership with Swarovksi, the 2017 British Fashion Council’s Fashion Awards ceremony took place at London’s famous Royal Albert Hall and the crowd looked fabulous.

Karlie Kloss in Vivienne Westwood Couture (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Karlie Kloss in Vivienne Westwood Couture (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Rita Ora in Versace (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Rita Ora in Versace (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

 

Kaia Gerber in Ralph & Russo (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Kaia Gerber in Ralph & Russo (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Selena Gomez in Coach (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Selena Gomez in Coach (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

The star-studded red carpet commanded much attention with fashion royalty and A-listers such as Naomi Campbell, Alexa Chung, Karlie Kloss, Kaia Gerber, Rita Ora, Zendaya and many more beauties; but not even such star-power wattage took away from the event’s purpose, to honor the best and brightest in fashion.

Nominees for the 2017 Fashion Awards were “chosen from hundreds of international names and they represent the most creative talent and innovative businesses of the year” said Natalie Massenet, the British Fashion Council Chairman, in a statement she released to the press this past October (2017).

Natalie Massenet (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Natalie Massenet (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

The evening was filled with plenty of emotional and touching moments as fashion’s finest paid tribute to industry veterans as well as the stars of the future. Christian Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri acknowledged the late Editor-In-Chief of Italian Vogue Franca Sozzani, while Naomi Campbell and a gaggle of models presented a powerful message that while Azzedine Alaïa might have passed away, his legacy will live on.

The British Fashion Council has a history of helping and supporting talented designers. According to Francesca Sterlacci, the Founder and CEO of University of Fashion and the author of The Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry, the British Fashion Council (BFC) was founded in 1983 and was borne out of the Incorporated Society of London Fashion Designers which was disbanded in the 1970s. The BFC is a nonprofit limited company that is financed by industry sponsors. In 1989 the BFC created the British Fashion Awards, to honor those who have made a major contribution to fashion industry throughout the year. The BFC also created New Generation (NEWGEN) in 1993, one of the most internationally recognized talent identification initiatives that continue to showcase and promote new designer businesses. Since 2001, the initiative has been sponsored by retailer Topshop and has been pivotal in nurturing emerging London talent. Designers that have been promoted as part of NEWGEN are, Alexander McQueen, Boudicca, Matthew Williamson, Julien Macdonald and more recently Christopher Kane, Marios Schwab, Richard Nicoll, Erdem, Mary Katrantzou, Meadham Kirchhoff, Simone Rocha, J.W. Anderson and Christopher Raeburn. Also initiated in 1993 was the Colleges Council, which provides opportunities for students to become involved in the industry through various activities including events, seminars and competitions.

In 2008, the London Fashion Showcasing Fund was created to support London Fashion Week. The BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund (The Fund) was launched by BFC Chairman Harold Tillman in September 2008 as part of the BFC’s 25th anniversary celebrations. The Fund is supported by Burberry, Debenhams, Harrods, Paul Smith, Topshop and Vogue.

Today, ( in 2017) the British Fashion Council has been focusing on its Positive Fashion initiative, which is a platform designed to create positive change in the industry through Sustainability: Origins & Ethics, Going Green, Fairtrade & Environmental Health; Model Health & Diversity: Education, Communication & Equality; and Local Manufacturing & Craftsmanship.

Here are the winners of the fashion industry’s biggest achievers according to the British Fashion Council:

Model of the Year: Adwoa Aboah

Urban Luxe Brand: Virgil Abloh for Off-White

Business Leader: Marco Bizzarri for Gucci

British Emerging Talent — Menswear: Charles Jeffrey for Charles Jeffrey Loverboy

British Emerging Talent — Womenswear: Michael Halpern for Halpern

British Designer of the Year — Menswear: Craig Green for Craig Green

British Designer of the Year — Womenswear: Jonathan Anderson for JW Anderson

Accessories Designer of the Year: Jonathan Anderson for Loewe

Designer of the Year: Raf Simons for Calvin Klein

Swarovski Award for Positive Change: Maria Grazia Chiuri for Dior

Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator: Pat McGrath

Outstanding Contribution to British Fashion Award: Christopher Bailey

Special Recognition Award for Innovation: Stella McCartney

Fashion Icon Award: Donatella Versace & House of Versace

British Designer of the Year - Womenswear Jonathan Anderson for JW Anderson (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

British Designer of the Year – Womenswear Jonathan Anderson for JW Anderson
(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Special Recognition Award for Innovation: Stella McCartney (Photo courtesy of  Getty Images)

Special Recognition Award for Innovation: Stella McCartney (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Fashion Icon Award: Donatella Versace & House of Versace (Photo courtesy of  Getty Images)

Fashion Icon Award: Donatella Versace & House of Versace (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

 

Do you agree with the winners nominated by The British Fashion Council? Let us know your choices.

 

 

“Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination”

Dolce & Gabbana Fall 2013 Collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Dolce & Gabbana Fall 2013 Collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Every year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City hosts a fashion inspired exhibit, and its 2018 theme, “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” could be their most controversial yet. The juxtaposition of fashion and religious artwork masterpieces will be designed to study fashion’s continuous fascination with the traditional practices of the Catholic Church. The Met has arranged to showcase a group of papal robes and accessories from the Vatican, highlighting the ongoing influence liturgical vestments have on designers.

The exhibition, which in turn prompts the theme for the annual, Vogue-associated Met Gala and its spectacular red carpet parade, will take place on the first Monday of May and the exhibit will open to the public on May 10th.  The Met Gala will be hosted by a trio of fashionable women: Donatella Versace, Rihanna and Amal Clooney. The exhibition will go beyond the usual confines of the Anna Wintour Costume Center, expanding to The Met’s medieval galleries and the Cloisters outpost in northern Manhattan.  According to The New York Times, the exhibition will be the Costume Institute’s largest exhibition to date; depending on how it’s executed, it may also be the most polarizing.

Christopher Kane spring 2017 Collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Christopher Kane spring 2017 Collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

“We know it could be controversial for right wing or conservative Catholics and for liberal Catholics,” curator Andrew Bolton told the Times. But president and chief executive of the Met Daniel H. Weiss noted that he has “confidence that the exhibition will inspire understanding, creativity and, along the way, constructive dialogue, which is precisely a museum’s role in our civil society.” Bolton also consulted local Catholic leadership in New York, not to mention partnered with the Vatican for parts of the exhibition, hoping that this may help ease tensions felt by the faithful.

“The Roman Catholic Church has been producing and promoting beautiful works of art for centuries,” director of the Holy See press office Greg Burke told the Times. “Most people have experienced that through religious paintings and architecture. This is another way of sharing some of that beauty that rarely gets seen.”

Left: Manuscript Leaf With Scenes From the Life of Saint Francis of Assisi, Italian, c. 1320–42, tempera and gold on parchment; right, Evening Dress, Madame Grès, 1969 (Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Left: Manuscript Leaf With Scenes From the Life of Saint Francis of Assisi, Italian, c. 1320–42, tempera and gold on parchment; right, Evening Dress, Madame Grès, 1969 (Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

The exhibition will not only present The Met’s own religious art collection but will also feature religious garments borrowed from the Vatican, attendees will be able to view 50 ecclesiastical masterworks from the Sistine Chapel sacristy, many of which were never shown outside of the Vatican. These works will be showcased along with papal vestments, rings, tiaras and accessories from more than 15 papacies in the Anna Wintour Costume Center galleries. That area alone will highlight work from the 18th to the early 21st century. The Vatican has not made a loan of this scope to The Met since its exhibition in 1982 entitled, The Vatican Collections: The Papacy and Art, which ranked third as The Met’s most-visited show.

Clothing from 150 designer collections that pay homage to Catholicism, will have their work on display. Designers included are: Dolce & Gabbana, Jean Paul Gaultier, Thierry Mugler, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Thom Browne, Azzedine Alaïa, Christopher Kane, John Galliano for the House of Dior, Claire McCardell, Madeleine Vionnet, Isabel Toledo, Pierpaolo Piccioli for Valentino, Elsa Schiaparelli, Raf Simons for his own label and the House of Dior.

Jeremy Scott Fall 2017 (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Jeremy Scott Fall 2017 (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

The fashion component will be mostly woman’s wear from the early 20th century to present. The exhibit is meant to provide an interpretative context for fashion’s engagement with Catholicism. The designs are meant to be considered within the broader context of religious artistic production to analyze their connection to the historiography of material, Christianity and their contribution to the perceptual construction of the Catholic imagination, according to press material provided by The Met.

Chanel on the cover of Vogue, November 1988 (photo by Peter Lindbergh)

Chanel on the cover of Vogue, November 1988 (photo by Peter Lindbergh)

As you can see, fashion has long borrowed from the Catholic Church’s rich visual history; From Dolce & Gabbana sending religious imagery down the runway to pop stars like Madonna and Lady Gaga, using clothing to set themselves up as new ‘spiritual icons’. Fashion’s relationship with the Catholic Church and churches in general, have  always been somewhat provocative. During London Fashion Week 2017, a bitter row  erupted with leading clerics after Turkish designer Dilara Findikoglu used an historic church to showcase her collection, with models dressed as devils and vampires sashaying in front of the altar. And who can forget Madonna’s controversy by inappropriately using Christian imagery in her songs, videos and concerts with songs like “Like a Virgin” (1984) to “Like a Prayer” (1989) and her Confessions Tour in 2005 ?

Do you think the Met’s exhibit is a marketing ploy to increase the number of museum-goers or one that hopes to bring the fashion world and the Catholic Church together?

Versace Spring 2018 (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Versace Spring 2018 (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

The New Influencers: Welcome to Revolve’s First Awards Ceremony

Janice Joostema, Rocky Barnes, Marianna Hewitt, Camila Coelho and Aimee Song. (Photo Courtesy of Revolve)

Janice Joostema, Rocky Barnes, Marianna Hewitt, Camila Coelho and Aimee Song. (Photo Courtesy of Revolve)

What is an ‘Influencer’  you ask?

Digital natives, who post, snap and tweet to their hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers — who then rush out and buy the products that these Influencers recommend. Women (and men) no longer look to fashion and beauty magazines for inspiration and ideas. In today’s digital age, those titles — and their editors — are quickly becoming a thing of the past, not only to consumers (latest casualty, Teen Vogue) but to brands themselves, who are now relying on these ‘brand ambassadors’ who are disrupting and replacing advertising and marketing ‘agencies’.

So why not celebrate these fashion and beauty influencers!

Well on Nov. 2, Revolve, the trendy mega-retailer who collaborates and works with Influencers daily, has hosted its first ever Revolve Awards Show. Revolve has successfully built its business on influencer marketing and are now celebrating and awarding their partners. It was a fun-filled and fashionably bold night.

The glamourous evening took place at Hollywood’s Dream Hotel and was hosted by E!’s Terrence Jenkins. Attendees ranged from Chrissy Teigen, and Nicole Richie to Hailey Baldwin and plenty of Instagram stars. The ceremony focused on influencer-centric categories – such as, YouTube Channel of the Year, Best Influencer Brand, BFFs of the Year, Best Beauty Influencer, Brand of the Year, #COUPLEGOALS of the Year and Influencer of the Year.  Half of the winners were chosen by a trusted panel of industry experts and fans had the opportunity to cast their votes as well.

Chrissy Teigen  (Photo courtesy of Revolve)

Chrissy Teigen (Photo courtesy of Revolve)

Revolve, a multi-brand online shopping retailer based in Los Angeles, was one of the first to identify bloggers as the new voice of fashion. Bloggers, Vloggers, Influencers and Insta-stars, have the ability to catapult a fashion or beauty label to the masses. These fashion crusaders have gained the trust of their audience base because they speak and dress in a way that most young women aspire and can relate and to, in contrast to traditional global fashion scene which is often perceived as intimidating and snobby. “We’ve been blogger -believers since 2009,” Revolve Chief Brand Officer, Raissa Gerona, said at the brunch. “They speak to our customers in a really authentic way that’s really meaningful,” co-founder and co-CEO Michael Mente told Fashionista.Com.

“We’re millennials too, so we automatically got it,” Gerona told Fashionista.com of the blogger boom. “Instead of being like, why are you writing about your outfit? It’s like, cool, you’re telling me what you’re wearing on your blog! I feel like I can get someone else’s perspective that I can trust. It’s not like Anna Wintour, who I’m never ever going to meet, you know?” It’s the difference between being talked down to – and talking with your friends.

On an earlier Instagram post (prior to the event), Revolve stated “We are nominating and honoring the best in the biz, our Influencers, our top selling brands and our ambassadors, for whom we wouldn’t be here without. And you, our followers and customers, are the core of everything we’ve achieved and hustle for. Thank you everyone who’s ever believed in us and supported us from the beginning.”

And the investment in Influencers is paying off. According to an article published by WWD in October, Revolve in on track to do over $1 billion in sales this year, attributing 70 percent of that sum to the might of the e-tailer’s influencers, a global network of 5,000 content creators.

Revolve’s Influencer of the Year, was the biggest award of the night and of course, the catagorie was filled with a talented and beautiful range of eight nominees: Aimee Song, Chiara Ferragni, Camila Coelho, Negin Mirsalehi, Rocky Barnes, Julie Sariñana, Tash Oakley, and Arielle Charnas.  But of course, there can only be one winner. So the ultra-stylish Negin Mirsalehi took home the prize.  The trend-setter called her boyfriend Maurits Stibbe to the stage to help her accept the award, and they were adorable. According to Negin Mirsalehi in an interview with Fashionista.Com, “They were the first ones to understand from the Influencer’s perspective. They see that Influencers are more than just people who take pictures all the time,”noting the company’s willingness to collaborate and brainstorm with Influencers to create maximum benefit for both parties. Currently Mirsalehi has 206K views on YouTube and 4.3M followers on Instagram. Now that’s a massive ‘influence’, don’t you think?

Below is a list of the Revolve Award Winners:

Influencer of the Year: Negin Mirsalehi

Best Beauty Influencer: Jenn Im

YouTube Channel of the Year: Camila Coelho

BFFs of the Year: Aimee Song & Camila Coelho

#CoupleGoals of the Year: Negin Mirsalehi & Maurits Stibbe

Best Influencer Brand: Shop Sincerely Jules by Julie Sariñana

Brand of the Year: For Love & Lemons

Best Activewear Brand: Alo Yoga

Best Beauty Brand: Ouai

Best Swimwear Brand: Beach Riot

Innovator of the Year: Eva Chen

Artist of the Year: Rae Sremmurd

Icon of the Year: Nicole Richie

Woman of the Year: Chrissy Teigen

Muse of the Year: Shay Mitchell

Whether you follow these influencers religiously, or you find them to be self-promoting, label-whoring, fame-seeking pretty young things, it is undeniable that Revolve has distinguished itself with a powerful marketing tactic that is leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the fashion industry. Many Influencers even have their own hashtags, such as Chiara Ferragni’s famous #TheBlondSaladGoesTo….   Love it or hate it, the fashion industry needs to pay attention to these teens and young adults, for the rise of social media is just the beginning.

So tell us, who is your favorite fashion or beauty influencer?

Nicole Richie (Photo Courtesy of Revolve)

Nicole Richie (Photo Courtesy of Revolve)

 

Raissa Gerona and Negin Mirshalehi (Photo courtesy of Revolve)

Raissa Gerona and Negin Mirshalehi (Photo courtesy of Revolve)

Jasmine Sanders and Rachel Zoe (Photo courtesy of Revolve)

Jasmine Sanders and Rachel Zoe (Photo courtesy of Revolve)

Shay Mitchell (Photo courtesy of Revolve)

Shay Mitchell (Photo courtesy of Revolve)

Michael Mente, Elsa Hosk and Mike Karanikolas (Photo courtesy of Revolve)

Michael Mente, Elsa Hosk and Mike Karanikolas
(Photo courtesy of Revolve)

 

 

 

Making the Mundane Meaningful at MoMA

T-shirts. Jeans. A little black dress. Underwear.

Not exactly garments you might think worthy of the MoMA’s first fashion exhibit in 73 years, and only second fashion exhibit—ever.

However, items many of us have had as staples in our own closets over the years are exactly the garments sparking current conversation in the fashion and art world since this collection of seemingly mundane clothes and accessories opened to the public on October 1, 2018. Read More

What’s Going On With NY Fashion Week?

What’s Going On With NY Fashion Week?

Michael Kors Fall 2017 Collection (Image courtesy of Vogue.com)

Michael Kors Fall 2017 Collection (Image courtesy of Vogue.com)

Labor Day weekend is upon us and that only means two things, summer is coming to an end and New York Fashion Week is literally around the corner.

Fashion is an industry that is rapidly changing and evolving, and now, New York Fashion Week is going through some major shake-ups. Last season, the NYFW calendar had a number of changes from several New York designers deciding to show in Los Angeles or Paris, to some designers leaving the schedule all together. Then let’s not even begin with all the confusion behind the see-now, buy-now schedules. Now the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) has strategically condensed the calendar, will this be enough to entice American designers to stay in NY?

Alexander Wang Fall 2017 Collection (Image courtesy of Vogue.com)

Alexander Wang Fall 2017 Collection (Image courtesy of Vogue.com)

According to the new schedule, the Spring 2018 season will begin on Thursday, September 7 and end on Wednesday, September 13. The CFDA has shortened NYFW by one day – say goodbye to the second Thursday in the schedule. This will allow editors, bloggers and buyers a much needed gap day between New York and London shows – now they won’t have to miss the Marc Jacob’s show (he has closed out NYFW since 2014) Marc Jacobs will still be the closing act of NYFW, but he will now show on Wednesday evening at 6:00 PM. Kicking off the week will Calvin Klein and Tom Ford, with 10:00 AM and 7:00 PM shows, respectively.

Marc Jacobs Fall 2017 Collection (Image courtesy of Vogue.com)

Marc Jacobs Fall 2017 Collection (Image courtesy of Vogue.com)

Last season, two of New York’s most influential labels — Proenza Schouler and Rodarte — switched things up as they decided to head to the City of Lights to showcase their collections. A few others headed for sunny California (such as Tommy Hilfiger, Rachel Zoe and Rebecca Minkoff). Ahead of the Spring 2018 season, more NYFW regulars have announced their imminent departure.

Altuzarra is the latest to join the growing list of designers exiting the New York Fashion Week and is heading to Paris. “I was born and raised in Paris and the city holds a very deep personal significance for me. This has been a dream of mine since the very beginning and now the time feels right. I am honored to be invited by La Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode to show in my hometown of Paris,” said Joseph Altuzarra in a statement released by the brand.

Altuzarra Fall 2017 Collection (Image courtesy of Vogue.com)

Altuzarra Fall 2017 Collection (Image courtesy of Vogue.com)

Meanwhile, Tommy Hilfiger, who has built his empire on the Americana dream, is opting out of New York for the second season in a row and will debut his next collection with Gigi Hadid in London. Then, let’s not forget about brands like Opening Ceremony and Vetements who are veering away from traditional runway shows altogether.

Tommy Hilfiger and Gigi Hadid at the Fall 2016 show (Image courtesy of Forbes.com)

Tommy Hilfiger and Gigi Hadid at the Fall 2016 show (Image courtesy of Forbes.com)

Narciso Rodriguez decided to opt out of the traditional NYFW runway show altogether. According to WWD, the brand is skipping a formal show this September and instead hosting private showroom appointments on the first official day of the NYFW calendar (September 6). Rodriguez’s usual time slot on the calendar conflicts with Ralph Lauren’s plan to stage his show in Bedford, New York this season—though that reportedly has nothing to do with the designer’s cancellation

Narciso Rodriguez Fall 2017 Collection (Image courtesy of Vogue.com)

Narciso Rodriguez Fall 2017 Collection (Image courtesy of Vogue.com)

Ralph Lauren will really send the fashion crowd in a tizzy as he decided to show his collection upstate New York. According to WWD, Lauren will stage his Fall 2017 see-now, buy-now show at his private garage located in Bedford, New York on September 12th at 7 PM. The garage houses Lauren’s personal automobile collection, which will serve as the backdrop to the runway. Ralph Lauren owns one of the most expensive car collections in the world, his’s rare automobiles include Ferraris, Bugattis and Bentleys which date back to the ’20s and ’30s. For the first time the designer will show his Ralph Lauren Purple Label menswear collection along with his womenswear collection. The show will reportedly be followed by a private and oh so chic formal dinner. It’s sure to be the invite of the season.

Ralph Lauren Spring 2017 See Now Buy Now Collection (Image courtesy of Getty Image)

Ralph Lauren Spring 2017 See Now Buy Now Collection (Image courtesy of Getty Image)

And if all these changes were not enough, it was also announced last month that Skylight Clarkson Square would no longer be the primary show location starting in 2018. New York Fashion Week has struggled to find a stable home since its departure from Bryant Park in 2010. Lincoln Center hosted the affair for five years (ending in 2015) but the neighborhood complained about all noise, traffic and the circus of what NYFW had become. After Lincoln Center, shows had two primary locations: Skylight Clarkson Square and Skylight Moynihan Station—though many designers have opted to show at alternative venues instead.

Clarkson Street Venue (Image courtesy of Racked.com)

Clarkson Street Venue (Image courtesy of Racked.com)

“The official venue of New York Fashion Week is New York City. The Skylight properties will no longer be an event space, so for season six of NYFW: Men’s in January and New York Fashion Week in February, there will no longer be a home base and the shows will be “decentralized,” Steven Kolb, CEO of the CFDA, said in a statement.

Mark Beckham, CFDA’s VP of marketing, also noted the challenge of fostering fashion’s runway changes, “The entire fashion week landscape is going through tremendous evolution and we want to be sensitive to the needs of the designers and be cost-effective. So if a designer is creating an original film, perhaps they can look at a screening room. If they’re planning a casual presentation, maybe an amazing penthouse would be better.”

Currently, the CFDA is in the process of looking for a new show venue that could act as a replacement for the Skylight Clarkson locations.

So among all the shake-ups this season, one must ask, is it time for New York’s Mayor De Blasio and Governor Cuomo to step up to the plate and preserve New York as the Fashion Capital of the World? Let us hear your thoughts.

New York Fashion Week (Image Courtesy of Huffingtonpost.com)

New York Fashion Week (Image Courtesy of Huffingtonpost.com)

Couture Takes A Modern Turn

COUTURE TAKES A MODERN TURN

Top left, clockwise, Viktor & Rolf, Christian Dior, Chanel, Atelier Versace, and Valentino (All photos courtesy of Vogue.com)

Top left, clockwise, Viktor & Rolf, Christian Dior, Chanel, Atelier Versace, and Valentino (All photos courtesy of Vogue.com)

Parisians represent the epiphany of chic. As French couture houses have long created a world of fantasy and beauty that only a privileged few were able to attain, today’s couture explores femininity beyond the ballgown.  The Fall 2017 Couture collections embrace the chance to find the feminine in both high-necked tailored coats, to bright floral frocks. Gone are the days when one style had to fit all – today’s couture is for everyone with the means to pay the hefty price tag.

Couture shows are an adventure, they are fashion fantasies come true. Although a majority of shows have focused on muted shades of grey, black and metallic silver, the pieces are far from drab. With splashes of pink and red, Fall 2017 Couture is an exploration in the space between feminine tailoring and flowing gowns. Just as impressive as the theatrics themselves, couture designers also have an impressive ‘front row’ following and the street-style scene is at its best. Here is the best of the couture season.

Chanel (photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Chanel (photo courtesy of Getty Images)

CHANEL

Leave it to Karl Lagerfeld to erect a giant replica of the Eiffel Tower as he took over Paris’ Grand Palais for his Chanel Fall 2017 couture show. The set was inspired by the iconic fashion house’s home-base: Paris, as models walked under the giant Eiffel Tower replica that was created to overarch the runway. The collection was a nod to the elegance and sophistication of the early 20th century. Lagerfeld showcased a collection that harked back to Chanel’s roots – reviving favorite textures, silhouettes and fabrications for a truly exquisite result. The line-up featured somber hues of grays and blacks. The first 25 looks were all variations of gray, later leading to head-to-toe black ensembles and for the finale, a gorgeous Chanel bride, all in white. The label is known for incredible accessories, and this season’s must have: The boater hat – each look was topped off with a variation of the hat in a variety of fabrics, from signature tweeds to satin and even leather. As always, the front row included a number of stars including Pharrell Williams, Julianne Moore, Tilda Swinton, Katy Perry, Tracee Ellis Ross, Rowan Blanchard, Cara Delevingne, Kristen Stewart and more. All looked on adoringly as  Karl Lagerfeld received Paris’s highest honor at the end of the show. The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, presented the designer with a Grand Vermeil medal, the highest distinction the city offers, for his work in the French capital. Congrats to Karl!

Chanel (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Chanel (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

CHRISTIAN DIOR

Maria Grazia Chiuri, the designer behind Christian Dior, transported us across the globe in full celebration of house’s 70th anniversary. Maria Grazia Chiuri has taken inspiration from travel, maps, exploration and the beauty of cultural diversity. She looked to the years following World War II, as Monsieur Dior traveled with his collections from California to Tokyo, and to parts of South America. Her theme ran wild with an elaborate set design by Pietro Ruffo, dressed with statues of wild animals from each continent. Chiuri embraced the power of finely tailored suits with a feminist bend. Case in point, a wrap-neck jumpsuit in wool herringbone, belted at the waist and with big functional pockets at the hips. She also showcased beautiful coats, floating chiffon dresses and a dramatic portrait neckline velvet dress. This collection was fit for Chiuri’s lady explorer.

Christian Dior (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Christian Dior (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

 ATELIER VERSACE

Less is more this season as Donatella Versace stages a low key presentation for her Atelier Versace collection. In an era where images are seen instantly, Donatella Versace opted for discretion as no-one in the audience was able to photograph the collection. A few looks were even hidden from the press and were only shown to those who buy directly from the fashion house. As for the collection, Atelier Versace showed some major evening looks that were extremely sexy and exquisitely hand-crafted: beautiful and intricate embroideries – all bronze metallic scale embroidery, silver chains suspended in cobweb-like formations, and silver leaf embroideries.  For the first time, the house featured a few pieces that were 3-D printed, such as an intricate scrolling neckline on a long gilded dress.

Atelier Versace (Photo courtesy of Atelier Versace)

Atelier Versace (Photo courtesy of Atelier Versace)

VIKTOR & ROLF

Life-size, giant, bobble-head dolls made their runway debut at Victor& Rolf this season as designers Rolf Snoeren, with Viktor Horsting suggested that “these [dolls] are fighting for a better world” via the patchwork-symbolizing unity. The duo certainly made a statement as they manipulated high-tech Japanese fabrics through pleating, padding, ruffles and intricate folds. Case in point: a giant, bow-shaped bomber. The designers also showcased relatively wearable dresses, coats, and plenty of jeans that will end up in women’s closets.

Viktor & Rolf (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Viktor & Rolf (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

VALENTINO

This season, Pierpaolo Piccioli found an unlikely source of inspiration for his Valentino couture collection – the Vatican. Valentino’s atelier literally sits in the shadow of the Vatican, but this collection was anything but solemn. Pierpaolo Piccioli drew a line between the notions of the church’s sacred rituals and the practice and of haute couture. The collection featured hooded capes and silhouettes that resemble the robes of priests, and there were hammered metal bags with enamel mosaic details in the shapes of animal heads meant to symbolize the seven deadly sins. Overall, the collection was heavenly.

Valentino (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Valentino (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons:

Art of the In-Between  

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

 

Is fashion art? This has always been a debate among the creative crowd, but a walk through this year’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute spring 2017 exhibit, the answer is clear.  The exhibition focuses on the avant-garde works of Rei Kawakubo, the reclusive founder and designer behind the cult label Comme des Garçons. The fashion forward exhibition, Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between, is on view from May 4 through September 4, 2017.

The show examines Kawakubo’s obsession with the space between boundaries. Her aesthetic can be viewed as unsettling at times, but upon close examination, her work wavers on creative genius. Kawakubo challenges the conventional perception of beauty, good taste, and fashion. A thematic exhibition, rather than a traditional retrospective, this is The Costume Institute’s first single-subject show on a living designer since the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition in 1983.

“Rei Kawakubo is one of the most important and influential designers of the past 40 years,” said Andrew Bolton, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute. “By inviting us to rethink fashion as a site of constant creation, recreation, and hybridity, she has defined the aesthetics of our time.”

 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Walking through the exhibit it is clear that Kawakubo has blurred the line between art and fashion. She is pushing us to think differently about clothing. Her creations are sculptural, intelligent and creative. She deconstructs fashion to the core. Her genius is that she is challenging us to think differently about fashion and beauty. According to Francesca Sterlacci, the Founder/CEO of University Of Fashion, “She challenged the status quo meaning of clothes and succeeded in disrupting the notion of  ‘traditional beauty.’ In light of the controversy over body fat and body shaming, Kawakubo sends a powerful message.”

 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

 

The exhibition showcases approximately 120 examples of Kawakubo’s womenswear designs for Comme des Garçons, dating from her first runway show in 1981 to her most recent collection. The white-walled exhibit is broken into nine dominate and recurring aesthetic expressions in Kawakubo’s work: Absence/Presence, Design/Not Design, Fashion/Anti-Fashion, Model/Multiple, High/Low, Then/Now, Self/Other, Object/Subject, and Clothes/Not Clothes. Each section examines the “in-betweenness.”  The exhibit guidebook suggests a pathway through the circular layout inhabited by puzzle-piece-like structures framing the looks, but guests also are encouraged to choose their own adventures and let their imaginations go wild.

 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

In her career, the 74-year old designer has been hailed a revolutionary; she has managed to break down the imaginary walls between these dualisms, exposing their artificiality and arbitrariness. Her fashions demonstrate the endless possibilities to rethink the female body and feminine identity. The exhibit reflects Kawakubo’s enduring interest in blurring the boundaries between body and dress.

Studying Kawakubo’s work it becomes clear, she loves to experiment with forms and clearly ignores the norm — she is in a constant search for “newness.” Her clothes are sculptural objects, non-functional at times, but maybe we should forget about clothing and we should view Kawakubo’s work as a true contemporary artist whose tools involve fabrics, utility and the body.

Rei Kawakubo said, “I have always pursued a new way of thinking about design…by denying established values, conventions, and what is generally accepted as the norm. And the modes of expression that have always been most important to me are fusion…imbalance… unfinished… elimination…and absence of intent.” A hallmark of the Japanese philosophy of wabi-wabi.

 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

To learn more about Rei Kawakubo and other key players in the fashion industry, pick up the second edition of “The Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry” (due out in August) by UoF’s founder Francesca Sterlacci, as well as checking out Google’s latest project “We Wear Culture” – Now the world will get to see Kawakubo’s genius.

 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

 

 

 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

 

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit

 

 

 

 

 

Instructor spotlight: Martha Palaza

There’s nothing like the excitement (and sometimes nerves!) that accompany the start of a new school semester. As fashion design students, you’re busy gathering the supplies you need for your next draping class, researching inspiration for your next project and possibly beginning to put together your professional portfolio. Most likely, you are also building your professional network as you work with your classmates and get to know your instructors. Read More