August 26, 2009

Anna Wintour, saving the world for fashion.

She was once so mysterious that "The Devil Wears Prada" resorted to thinly disguised fiction to betray her secrets — but suddenly Anna Wintour is everywhere: in the new documentary "The September Issue"; being interviewed on David Letterman; in this new commercial for her latest pet project, Fashion's Night Out; and even, on the big night itself, in Brooklyn and Queens. Shortly after, she'll make the hop across the pond to London, whose much-ignored Fashion Week she hasn't attended in two years — even though she was born and raised there!

But the big question remains: Can Anna Wintour save the fashion industry? Clearly, this season the rag trade has displayed an ingenuity and resourcefulness it lacked in flush times. Wintour's pet project, Fashion's Night Out, will bring top designers, fun, games, drinks, and shopping for all to stores around New York — and around the world — on the eve of Fashion Week; while London's Fashion Week, in a bid for relevance, has wooed back several prominent designers who had begun showing in other cities, including Burberry, Matthew Williamson, and Jonathan Saunders.

August 18, 2009

Moving Sustainability Forward: now in video form!

We're ready for our close-up! Here for the very first time, scrupulously edited down by the many-talented Laia Cabrera, is the video from our round-table discussion on sustainability a few weeks ago. If you weren't able to watch our Webinar in real time, this condensed version offers you choice bits of wisdom on greening your business from panelists Bill Hovard of WL2 Studios, Susanne Goetz of the Fashion Institute of Technology, Victoria Armentrout of Oval LLC, freelance event producer Brett Christina Thomas, Kim Ackert of Ackert Architecture, Dena Verdesca of Men's Health and, and yours truly of MBF Trend Consulting.

August 10, 2009

NYC print shows: an MBF exclusive report

Last week, MBF visited Direction by Indigo and PrintSource, where we spoke to a lively mix of established and up-and-coming print designers about their hottest trends for fall 2010.

While individual styles varied, the recurring themes were clear-cut: an overall move towards abstraction and textural prints, as painterly florals move into blurrier, barely-recognizable territory; nature motifs of feathers, leaves, and animal skins cropped up in neutral tones, morphing into blotchy, spotted abstract motifs; paisleys evolved into baroque scroll prints. On a more futuristic note, large-scale digital prints continued from previous seasons, some with a pixellated texture. Colorful, linear 3-d effect crystal prints and firework prints coexisted with flat, graphic black-and-cream geometric shapes, often with a pop of pink, orange, yellow, or blue.

At Direction, London-based Sukhanlee was having a surprisingly slow day, in spite of her whimsical, geometric collection. The first-time exhibitor, a RCA graduate who has collaborated with film director Wong Kar-Wai, was watching and learning, observing that "abstract splashy prints" were doing well, and that prints on the whole were, as we also noted, more abstract this season. Color, she felt, was denser and darker than usual; an observation echoed by Australian print house Karolina York, where a jewel-toned Cheshire Cat print was selling like hot cakes, followed by abstracted florals and what they called "non-prints" — splotchy, spongy, irregular prints. Their vintage illustration-inspired, gothic style was doing well among buyers, with prints on black bases — or just monochrome black.

Photos, from left: Sukhanlee FW10; Karolina York for Tigerlily, SS09; Sukhanlee FW10.

August 5, 2009

Designers to watch: Rodarte

Many high-end designers seem to be on the same invisible wavelength, spontaneously creating nearly identical versions of a mutton-sleeve blazer or drape-front pants for the very same season's runway shows. Not so with Rodarte, designed by sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy, which marches to a beat all its own — inspired not by other designers, but by a fantasy world of fairies, Frankenstein, and Japanese cartoons.

Season after season, the sisters pull out yet another beautifully hued collection of dresses and tights patchworked from their usual repertoire of draped, diaphanous fabrics; spidery, irregular knits; and tough, shiny leather. And every time, the fashion world goes wild: most recently, the CFDA bestowed upon them its 2009 Womenswear Designer of the Year award; and at the end of this year, theirs will be the latest of Target's Go International designer collaborations, launching Dec. 20.

While the collabos have garnered plenty of column inches in the fashion media, it seems doubtful that Target's core shopper really appreciates the edgy young designers the budget department store chain has been featuring, including Luella, Jonathan Saunders, and Erin Fetherston. Previous collections have been marked down to almost nothing, and this spring's much-hyped Alexander McQueen for Target launch was a bust: even here in fashion-forward New York, the pop-up store was nearly empty after early shoppers picked off the best pieces, and we've seen a large quantity of apparently unsold collection pieces pop up in local thrift stores, albeit with their original tags removed. Rodarte-obsessed fashionistas will undoubtedly plunder the upcoming collection as it hits big-city stores, but can this ultra-luxury brand cross over to the mass market? We'll just have to wait and see.

Photos: A few of Rodarte's relatively marketable looks, via

August 3, 2009

Wool and the Gang (Paris)

For designers and retailers, the inherent problem with the do-it-yourself trend is, what do you sell? Well, Paris-based Wool and the Gang has come up with an ingenious solution: these ultramodern knit-it-yourself kits, which come with needles, instructions, and luscious Peruvian wool yarns to be made into scarves, hats, or legwarmers in the season's hottest colors: for this fall, that's gray, teal, and purple, if you were wondering. For summer, there are vests, tanks, and boho shoulder bags in Pima cotton. Each kit also comes with a pair of pun-tastic patches so customers can customize their hand-knit pieces — and advertise for Wool and the Gang, of course — in '80s high style.
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