November 11, 2008
A graduate of Barcelona's Llotja Arts School and Milan's Domus Academy, Txell Miras certainly hasn't taken the obvious path to fashion stardom. Yet she has quietly assembled an admirable résumé, winning the Onward Tokyo Grand Prix fashion award the year she graduated from Domus, and designing Neil Barrett's womenswear line since 2003. Her layered, experimental style is darker than the usual playful Spanish fare, with black-on-black constructed looks showing off her subtle mixes of fabric and texture, and her conceptual art background serves as a jumping-off point for wearable musings on... well... it's hard to tell what, but she claims Kafka, Duchamp, and Bergman as her inspirations. Perhaps "The Fly" inspired the greenish-black metallic fabrics from fall/winter 2008, but frankly, the clothes are strong enough to stand on their own without a concept to lean on.
November 5, 2008
Taking their shared love of ballet as a departure point, German-born Susanne Ostwald and Icelander Ingvar Helgason together formed Ostwald Helgason, a finely crafted, highly theatrical line of womenswear. Their spring collection is inspired by Francis Poulenc's film Les Biches, and makes decadent use of the Rococo era's rich golds and cobalt blues.
Born in Germany, raised in Spain, schooled in Switzerland, the former bank trainee-cum-model Tillmann Lauterbach is another of the multifaceted, international generation of young designers coming out of the legendary ESMOD in Paris. Draped loosely around the body, his women's collection brings to mind a sportier Rick Owens, with more color and less leather, while his boxy menswear harks to Raf Simons gone grunge. With their asymmetry, colorblocking, and surprising fabric mixes, Lauterbach's clothes make imperfection an art.
Think Iceberg meets Akris with a touch of Gareth Pugh, and you'll have a picture of Jordan-born designer Rad Hourani's Fall 2008 collection. With its head-to-toe monochrome looks in a dramatic black-and-red palette, its severe construction, high hemlines, lavish use of leather, and tough future-Kabuki attitude, his androgynous women's line places the doe-eyed 25-year-old among the vanguard of current designers. Flitting constantly back and forth between Europe and North America, Hourani declares, "Paris inspires me with its art and New York gives me the drive." Make it so.
Awkward is the new flattering, and the new denim line from stylists Emily Current and Meritt Elliott rocketed to cult status this summer when their destroyed boyfriend jeans rode a wave of celebrity appearances to slavishly devoted press coverage. Lest we forget, they do offer other, slightly offbeat styles, all based on the designers' collection of vintage denim from Levi's, Oshkosh, and Wranglers, among others. Those would include a boot cut version, a skinny slouch, a legging jean, an elephant bell, and - in a timely nod, the "Obama," a flared carpenter jean. (Why they've chosen that particular style is unclear - a straighter leg would make a better upgrade for the president-elect from his infamous mom jeans.)
Sisters Pim (designer), Matina (accessories designer), and Kly (business partner) Sukhahuta started their ultrafeminine line in 2002, naming it Sretsis, or "sisters" spelled backward. Their Fall 2008 collection mirrors Martin Margiela's oversized tees and fantasy prints, taking as inspiration mythical beings and animals both real and imaginary, used both as screenprints and jewelry. Non-printed pieces include a caped coatdress with scalloped trim, as well as a plethora of easy-to-wear shorts, shirtdresses, drop-waist dresses, and boxy jackets for the girly-girl about town. Proving you don't have to be based in a traditional fashion capital to, well, earn fashion capital, the Bangkok-based line is sold in three stand-alone stores in Bangkok as well as Intermix and Albertine in New York.
Yohji Yamamoto's contributions to fashion have already been substantial: his own, avant-garde main line; Y's, a second line; Y-3, his sporty yet sophisticated Adidas collaboration; and more recently, his daughter, Limi Feu, whose line is a boxier, tomboyish take on Dad's fixations with black, Edwardian, and deconstruction. As if he weren't busy enough, his new under-the-radar label, Coming Soon, debuted this year with a 200-piece collection of utilitarian clothes and accessories, all marked by a discreet circle logo. Instead of a runway show, the line gets a 21st-century treatment: a grainy black-and-white YouTube video directed by Max Vadukul. Pieces include a black-and-white inside-out trenchcoat; boyfriend jeans; dropped-crotch "skirt-pants" (skants?); and button-downs with patchwork detailing.
November 3, 2008
Formerly a visual artist, Jean-Pierre Braganza knew he was in the wrong field when he worried more about what to wear to his opening than how his paintings were hung. (For the record, it was a silver skirt and blond mukluks.) A Central St Martins grad like nearly every London designer of note, Braganza worked for Roland Mouret before starting his eponymous line in 2004, and quickly garnered notice from the likes of Alison Goldfrapp and Joan Jett. For fall, he offers futuristic structured knits inspired by science fiction, with leather detailing on wool waistcoats, armor-like cinched jackets, cropped tuxedo jackets, all in his usual achromatic palette livened up with shocking pink.
Designer Leena Similu didn't mean to start her own line - it just happened to her. Having made herself a pair of leggings from some leftover PVC, she found them in demand by hordes of stylists after Kate Moss traipsed all over London in them. Not that Similu was a fashion newbie - far from it, she graduated from Central St. Martins and worked for Jil Sander and Stella McCartney. So for fall 08, she launched a full collection of her very own, featuring easy - and often shiny - separates for the girl about town: Les Chiffoniers, named after rag-and-bone men. The future is looking bright and shiny indeed.
Of Jane Birkin's wide-eyed daughters, Charlotte Gainsbourg is perhaps the better known - for her soft, wistful music; her leggy, tomboyish look, often described as jolie laide; and her acting, including a starring role in Michel Gondry's The Science of Sleep. But half-sister Lou Doillon is fast becoming a fashion icon as well, especially with the debut of her namesake denim line, Lou Doillon for Lee Cooper. Featuring high-waisted, wide-legged jeans, a pointy-hem tuxedo jacket, and metal buttons aplenty, her SS09 collection was inspired by the Artful Dodger from Oliver Twist, and gives a dandy spin to denim.
Growing up amid Mexico City's privileged class, Christian Cota would create his own costumes for his mother's lavish costume parties, a predilection that took him first to painting school in Paris, then to Parsons in New York, where his fashion design studies gave him the basis for what would become his solo collection. His painting background shows in the prints that grace his soft, feminine draped dresses and tops, slim swirls of pastel chiffon that, if not the most original thing going, have found their market among socialites dressing for the ball, whether in Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, or North Carolina. Thousands of miles from his hometown, it would appear that Cota has indeed found his milieu.
Drawing on a colorblocked palette of pastels and brighter tropical hues for his collection of easy sportswear, this Central St. Martins grad is quickly becoming the first of his generation of young British designers to mature into a maker of wearably chic clothing. While goth-shocker Gareth Pugh restrained his usual excess to put out an imaginatively sculptural collection for SS09, it's Nicoll who channeled the spirit of the moment into something women will want to wear, and not just for a costume party. Eschewing this year's omnipresent ombré for two-tone colorblocking, he created a selection of mix-and-match separates that include the season's popular sheer tops, long vests, boleros, and cigarette pants, not to mention a T-shirt-inspired silk shell.
With a surfeit of confidence, designer Ece Ege celebrated her 1994 graduation from ESMOD by immediately launching her own line, Dice Kayek. Her boldness shows equally in her clothes, sharply constructed evening pieces in a largely black-and-white palate that evoke past, present and future in their vintage references and streamlined construction. Designed for a strong woman, the pieces fuse feminine silks and embroideries with severe tailoring and structure.
Now that eco-consciousness seems to have gone mainstream, with the advent of organic apparel popping up at juggernauts like H&M and Banana Republic, and social responsibility manifestos now de rigeur at former sweatshop pariahs Gap and Nike, it's time to take another look at what sustainable really means. Which is, sustainable for the planet, the people, and as a business - since a shuttered company can no longer do good. Edun, the collective project of Bono's wife Ali Hewson and denim boy-of-the-moment Rogan Gregory, combines organic materials with a mission to boost African economies, building factories and teaching farming skills in poverty-stricken areas. And as Hewson points out, "We have the social aspect of Edun down, but we are also trying to make clothes that you can wear to look good" - with simple pieces including an oversized sweater dress, jeans, and silk shirtdresses.
M.I.A. defies classification. International and interdisciplinary, the British-born singer, graphic designer, and visual artist, daughter of a Tamil freedom fighter, is known for her wildly patterned stage clothes almost as much as her pastiched, multiethnic, hip-hop-influenced music. Her colorful handmade clothes were at the vanguard of the current tribal trend espoused by influential designers from Balenciaga to Junya Watanabe to Oscar de la Renta, and a stint modeling for Marc by Marc Jacobs cemented her status as eccentric fashion icon. Just this fall, tiring of being copied by others, M.I.A. launched a small line of tribal-print clothes, called Okley Run, which she sells from her website in her typical do-it-yourself fashion.
Mixing elegant with a dash of kink, topping slim shapes with puffy ruffles, Francesco Scognamiglio creates dramatic eveningwear a star could love - in fact, quite a few stars, including Angelina Jolie, Christina Ricci, Jennifer Aniston, and Madonna, who selected a sheer ruched blouse for her Sticky and Sweet tour. While he's been around for years, business seems to have taken off lately, with his sales hitting an anticipated $3.8 million this year, perhaps as a result of the resurgence of gothic glamor - Scognamiglio greatly admires Givenchy's Riccardo Tisci, and views his customer as a "contemporary warrior" and shirts as "protective armor". Whatever they may arm the customer against, it certainly isn't the gaze of strangers, seeing as most of his blouses (and even some trousers) fall into the range from sheer to invisible.
Swedish-born fashion illustrator Lovisa Burfitt was in a Paris nightclub, wearing a shirt from her defunct Stockholm-based line, when a buyer demanded to know where she, too, could pick up the illustrated tee. From there, Burfitt grew into a cult-fave line of illustrated tees and formalwear, its dark mood and almost-awkward silhouettes screaming Scandinavian, yet with a showy quality that fits perfectly into the current cabaret/circus craze. For the current collection, Burfitt started with a Victorian inspiration, featuring murky colors, corsets, and dark-washed denim.
New Yorkers got a fresh jolt of color amid all the black when the Scottish-born designer Jonathan Saunders began showing his print-happy collections in the Big Apple not year. With loads of colorblocking, bold tailoring, and of course his signature multicolored prints, Saunders also caught the attention of Target, where he collaborated on their latest Go! International collection, a younger but still edgy take on the designer's cheerful aesthetic.
photos of Target collection via Nylon
After leaving their quirky, young label, Trovata, designers Sam Shipley and Jeff Halmos started their eponymous line quietly last year, garnering rapt attention from buyers and fashion media without so much as a runway show. Shying away from the fanciful mismatched buttons and gaily patterned linings that characterized Trovata, Shipley & Halmos has an understated, almost quaint aesthetic, cribbing from traditional tailoring while keeping it young and fresh with charming details such as Peter Pan collars and bow ties on a girl's blouse, or a brash rock 'n' roll stripe on a slim men's suit.
Photos via Style.com