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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tee Party

This Saturday, Printed Matter is having its third annual One Size Fits All: Artists' T-Shirt Summer Blow Out, a bonanza of ironic, cynical, glow-in-the-dark, slogany, political and otherwise experimental tees by the likes of Larry Clark, Ryan McGinness, Jack Pierson, Scott Hug and Ryan Foerster, who made this fine specimen (ranging in price from $20 to $100). Tee-off begins at 11 am, followed by a party at 3:30, with nibblies provided by Sweet Tooth of the Tiger, a self-proclaimed "renegade bake-sale collective." Then, at 5 pm, K8 Hardy—publisher of FASHIONFASHION magazine—will stage a 50s-era catwalk show...


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Liquid Diet

You learned all about Fabien Baron's new book of photos, Liquid Light, in our Hinterview with the graphics guru, branding visionary, creative director extraordinaire and multitasking myth-maker. Now, finally, it's published and ready to fly off Steidl's virtual shelves...


Monday, July 28, 2008

The Punk Plot Thickens

Haidee Findlay-Levin puts her detective hat back on...

In the first week of July, about three months after I posted a blog on this website concerning the selling of fake Seditionaries clothing, originally made by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, I got a note from the editor saying that the suspected con artist, Simon Easton, had at last responded to his attempts to get his side of the story prior to publication. Naturally, Mr. Easton was none too pleased with what I had uncovered, and put out his own statement in an attempt to discredit me, my writing, my academic credentials, my knowledge of fashion history and what had gone down in general. But what I wrote was a story told to me by Malcolm McLaren himself. No one likes the messenger, however, and I had clearly touched a nerve.

We wanted to post the response from Mr. Easton, but we also wanted to get a response from Malcolm (or Damien Hirst, who also claims he was a victim of the con), confirming the facts of the story that I had been told. I decided to send Malcolm the response and to keep him informed. Away on a project, he responded a couple of weeks later, furious and eager to justify and confirm the story, absolutely.

In the interim, I learned that eBay had removed Mr. Easton’s listings and warned customers against any further transactions with him. I also received email exchanges between Malcolm and Damien regarding the matter, in addition to a series of emails between Malcolm and Rizzoli. It seems that Mr. Easton, who had self-published a book on Seditionaries that carried a foreword by Malcolm, had apparently pitched the book to the reputable book publisher, which was about to republish it, or a form of it, and possibly had an exhibition in the works as well. Malcolm was furious that Mr. Easton, whom he says misled him into writing the foreword for a book that he now believed was 80% fake, was further using his name to establish himself as an authority and important collector of original Seditionaries. Malcolm was also surprised that Rizzoli, along with himself, Damien, a slew of vintage dealers, and even auction houses and museums, had apparently been duped by Mr. Easton, whom Malcolm feels is not only discrediting the provenance of the original work, but also profiting from it.

Malcolm contacted Damien to discuss the matter further. He recalled being shown at least three garbage bags of clothes that Damien bought directly from Mr. Easton, as well as from Sotheby’s—all fake, according to Malcolm. He was first alarmed by the sheer quantity of it. How could so much of the stuff still exist, considering these were originally 50's and 60's clothes found in thrift stores and then personally customized by Malcolm and Vivienne out of their bathroom and kitchen with rudimentary and experimental techniques involving stamps, bleach, ink and potato cuts borrowed from their child. These pieces were never part of a large-scale operation, nor were they couture gowns to be preserved for eternity; they were clothes made and worn by punks, most likely to the bitter end.

This was reiterated to me again last weekend by Malcolm himself. Mr. Easton claims that this was not the case, and that many more clothes were made after Malcolm separated from Vivienne, and sold for many years at Boy London, a store on Carnaby Street. While this is certainly true, and I remember them well, these clothes were distinctly different from the originals and they all carried the Boy London label rather than the Seditionaries label. To Malcolm, not only were the labels cause for alarm, but the fabrics, thread and ink were noticeably different from those used in the 70s. Then there was Malcolm’s impression that the questionable pieces seemed to be by the hand of more than one person.

In Mr. Easton’s press release, he claims that he is not being sued by Damien Hirst, but that he is suing the artist. Yet in the email exchange between Malcolm and Damien, it's clear that although Damien had set out to sue Mr. Easton, he was advised to drop the case by his lawyers, concerned that they in fact had no case without Vivienne’s testimony. By withdrawing, under British law, Damien is under an automatic gag order and won't be able to bring the case to court again. Malcolm, on the other hand, is determined to retain the provenance of a legacy created by himself and Vivienne Westwood, as well as stop anyone who attempts to rewrite their history.

Over the last few days, I have seen and spoken to Malcolm several times and he is taking the matter very seriously. He has left no stone unturned in putting an end to Mr. Easton’s operation. He has contacted various members of the press, notifying them of the alleged scam. He says he has also contacted the Met (which has had dealings with Mr. Easton in the past, verified in a New York Times article prior to the Anglomania show), the V&A (which Malcolm believes owns several fakes) and other institutions and auction houses. Further, he has recently found several people who say they were approached by Mr. Easton to help make alleged fakes, one of whom agreed to be involved, one who did not, but who still has the relevant correspondence.

Only yesterday Malcolm received a call from Christie's requesting that he come in, at their expense, to verify the 80 or so pieces that are about go on the block in an upcoming auction. It was their feeling that as a result of the frenzy to separate the authentic from the inauthentic that original pieces could become among the most important and valuable examples of wearable art to date.

So what started off in my first blog as a colorful yet disturbing story of intrigue has had quite the snowball effect. By the end of the week, I'm sure all the gray areas will be fleshed out as more people come forward. I imagine I won’t be the only person absorbed with this scandal, nor the only one writing about it. To date, counterfeits and appropriations have become part of a huge crime syndicate, some say even larger than the drug trade. Ironically, there is a degree of anarchy here: new punks defacing original punk artifacts, allegedly conning the public and public institutions in the process. You heard it here first.

Simon Easton's response, criticizing me, my article and all the information therein...

Press Release – March 2008
Haidee Findlay-Levin article in “Hint Mag”

An ill informed, factually incorrect and badly written article has appeared under the by-line of Haidee Findlay-Levin on Hint Mag, an internet based fashion-gossip website.

The author of the article refers to ‘SEX & Seditionaries’ the book and has obviously mixed it up with a Japanese book produced by Jun Takahashi which is also referred to in the article. Findlay-Levin describes the cover artwork of ‘SEX & Seditionaries’ as featuring a series of pornographic playing cards. However, this is in fact the cover artwork of the Japanese book. A simple visit to a reputable book shop, by Ms Findlay-Levin, to inspect a copy of ‘SEX & Seditionaries’ would have provided her with a better understanding of the subject and the artwork of the book she purports to criticise in her misguided article.

Regardless of Malcom McLaren’s alleged comments about the ‘SEX & Seditionaries’ book it should be noted that McLaren only agreed to write the introduction to this book after he had viewed over 100 images that were to be included within it. Only once he’d seen the books contents and artwork did he happily agree to write for it.

Ms Findlay-Levin’s article states: “After all, there weren’t many of these clothes made in the first place”. Again this shows her total lack of knowledge on the subject and the way Westwood & McLaren operated in that period. Punk, as a fashion movement, as opposed to the music, lasted from around 1975 to 1980. In addition Westwood and McLaren still produced Seditionaries clothing to order after their shop closed down in 1979, and for a year or so these clothes were also sold through BOY on the King’s Road with a ‘Seditionaries’ label attached. To include the above quote is not only misleading, it is mischievous. After all even McLaren acknowledges he doesn’t know how many of the clothes were produced, and for much of the period he was touring in the USA with the Sex Pistols. Westwood and McLaren were living very separate lives for most of the period.

Again, Ms Findlay-Levin’s scurrilous suggestion: “that the fingerprints of someone young” (the author is 45, indeed went to Central St Martins to get his degree, and has not been back for nearly twenty five years) “and perhaps not one person” is inflammatory. To suggest that someone (anyone) can, at will, enter St Martins and order a few T-shirts from the students shows no understanding of academic life – perhaps this is what Ms Findlay-Levin’s past and suspect journalistic piece are sadly lacking!

Finally, on the article, Ms Findlay-Levin states that calls to the author of ‘SEX & Seditionaries’ have not be returned. I have spoken to the author and he assures me that he has never heard of or ever been approached by Ms Findlay-Levin.

I can comment, with some authority, on the claims made by Ms Findlay-Levin in her article about Damien Hirst. I took Mr Hirst to law, NOT the other way around. This can be substantiated by simply referring to the official UK Court records. Further, I am happy, on request, to supply my solicitor’s contact details to collaborate these facts.

No further comment will be entered into with regard to this article.

Email from Malcolm McLaren to myself following Mr. Easton's response...

Dear Haidee,

This is my response to your recently posted blog about Simon Easton and the Damien Hirst affair. I have subsequently investigated this myself as I personally feel so upset as to what has happened. I am presently writing a new letter to ... those in the media that I know...

I would like very much for you to post my responses so far which I am forwarding you.

Talk to you tonight. Best regards, Malcolm

Statement from Mr. Easton regarding his removal from eBay...

Dear Customers,

I turned on my computer this morning to discover that eBay had suspended my trading account and end all my listings. All they bothered to send me is a standard email which does not clarify what it is that I did wrong so I'm confused.

I fail to understand why nobody at that company bothered to email me first or even pick up the phone - obviously is easier to react like Nazi.

What angers me most is that I have discovered that they have contacted everyone I have sold to in the past and told them not to pay for goods as 'its possible I may not complete the transaction' - obviously I am now a thief! All of you that I have traded with know full well I do my best to offer a good service and I really do not appreciate being treated by a faceless hostile business like I'm an axe murderer.

I'd like to tell eBay to stick their company where the sun don't shine, but obviously trading on eBay is the easiest way to do business with people all round the World.

I shall do my best to get myself 'un-supended' or I may just open another account.

I am very sorry if eBay has alarmed you in any way with their overreaction and immature behaviour...

best wishes,

Letter from Malcolm McLaren to Rizzoli...

From: Office of Malcolm McLaren
Date: July 26, 2008 6:03:01 PM EDT

It has come to my notice that you are intending to publish a book by Mr. Simon A Easton on the Sex and Seditionaries clothing that I designed with Vivienne Westwood back in the 70s. If you go ahead, I insist first of all that you withdraw my name and my essay from such a book. Mr. Easton does not have the right to use this essay beyond the self-published limited edition already released in the UK. I request a confirmation in writing from you regarding this. If I do not hear back from you by close of next Tuesday, July 29, I shall have no alternative but to gain legal advice and then decide on what action to take against both Rizzoli and Simon Easton.

I enclose a letter for your information that I have written to Damien Hirst (the artist) today. It is a shocking indictment of the malpractices of Mr. Simon A Easton and indeed the contents of this book you intend to publish bear that out. John McWhinnie, a book dealer I know that you are aware of, recently told me how Rizzoli were informed by Simon Easton that he won a lawsuit against Damien Hirst. This is entirely untrue.

I would find it remarkable that a publisher of such repute as Rizzoli would publish such a book after knowing all the real and genuine facts. It is your moral duty to inform the public, not misinform.

If you wish to contact me further, don't hesitate to call me as I am in NY until August 1

And finally, emails between Malcolm McLaren and Damien Hirst...

Hi Damien,

I am in New York presently. That little fraud, Simon Easton has raised his ugly head again. I am shocked and confused by the allegations that have come to me via John McWhinnie, a rare book dealer who has been asked to give a party for and on behalf of Simon Easton and his book to be soon published by Rizzoli. A book, I understand and have seen, that contains much of the clothing sold to you. Clothing we both know that pretends to be work and designs by yours truly in partnership with Vivienne Westwood at the time. I am simply furious about this. But I would like to know, did he sue you? Did he win? Was it a question that he demanded these fake clothes back and in turn, you demanded your money back? And is that what he is saying by the fact that he won a lawsuit against you? Can you throw more light on this? I want to take this up with Rizzoli but I need the facts. Bless you. Hope you are well wherever you are.


Dear Damien

We will certainly not stop until this man is thoroughly exposed as nothing less than a crook. I am at present sending out to all the press that I know to pick up the story.

It is extraordinary to think that a gagging order has been placed on you whilst this rogue has been allowed to continue to ply his trade and rob people of thousands. Not just collectors, but museums, auction houses, shops, and deceive even major and reputable art publishing houses. If that is how the UK justice system works, let's blow it up.

Yes, I think your legal team are an absolute disgrace and you should fire every single one of them. I have never ever thought any English lawyer is worth tuppence. They are cavalier, and never do their job properly.

But we will pick up the fight! That, you can rest assured. You should though, whatever the legal courts say, talk off the record to Tracy Emin asap. and get the message to Vivienne, because it is a thorough disgrace. Don't let these bastards in the UK justice system grind you down. They never did it to me. And I don't believe they should ever do it to someone like yourself.

Best as ever,

Malcolm, yeah I feel really really bad about it, unfortunately my legal team handled it in the wrong way and fucked it up for me, he didn't sue me at all, but your email pretty much spells out what's been going on, I will send you all the clothes if you like, and ill get my office to send you the names and contact addresses of steve at relic and the woman who helps with sothebys, also murry who works with vivian knows simon easton as he used to share a flat with him and he has stuff to say about him. Its a shocking story this business and the balls of the guy coming to you to write something, mental, I hope you work it out man, I'm sorry i can't help you more as my case collapsed as I said and I'm bound by a court agreement to leave it alone but good luck.

HI Damien,
I just received a note from the writer on the Hint blog and Easton's press release. He is obviously used to writing this garbage defending his wares. The style is clear. First and foremost, I was not happy to write for the book because of the jpegs he sent me but because of the other writers who were contributing like Jon Savage, Ted Polhemus. He did send some jpegs of the clothes but they could hardly be used as serious reference as they were tiny images with artwork graphics all over them. I didn't give it much thought at the time and only when I looked at the book, did I realize the truth.

Furthermore, he is trying to create a murky situation between 1979 when Seditionaries closed down and another rather sleazy store on the King's Road called Boy who were for a while trying to copy the clothes and use the label, Seditionaries. That, to the best of my knowledge, and I was still living in London and working with Vivienne for the next 4 years is entirely untrue. However, Vivienne did do things sometimes without my knowledge. But the important point to understand is that clothes made by McLaren/Westwood for their shops ended in 1979. He is trying to pretend that is not true, giving him some loophole in pretense that these clothes may be part of thousands sold through Boy. One thing is clear, the clothes sold to you were clothes made yesterday.

Now we have also discovered that he was an art student at St. Martin's. so we are getting closer to how these clothes were made. But what is really worrisome for me is, the final statement that he took you to law. What does he mean? He certainly doesn't say he won. That is for sure. Which is contrary of course to what he told Rizzoli. Can you let me know more about this fact?

I would much appreciate it.


Malcolm, I've asked my office to send you everything on monday, I took him to court and when I realised that even with your help I wouldn't be able to prove that the clothes were fake I reached an out of court agreement with him which is legally binding that I could never accuse him again of producing fakes and could never say that the clothes I bought from him were fake. I will send you all the clothes and whatever else you want, one of the guys who recognisaed some of the clothes as being made by him was an old punk called debdon, I paid his taxi fare to come in and see me, and he openly copies the clothes and sells em on camden market as copies, another guy came down from sheffield and he's called murray fenton he makes seditionaries copies too and has some originals and is a big fan and he had a story that punkpistol comissioned him to make copies that he then sold as real, ill get my office to give you everything we've got on monday baby.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pink Lady

Speaking (or thinking) or pink, check out these photos of mini-colette—a bare-bones temporary version of the store (at 23 Place du Marché Saint-Honoré, through August 23) while the famed flagship undergoes renovations—taken for us by colette's Guillaume Salmon...

And here are some pics of the renovation itself...


Friday, July 25, 2008

Daft Pink

Cesar Padilla plugs Victoria's PINK Secret...

Last week I was asked by a designer for Victoria Secret's PINK line—a home run for the company, cited in WWD as one of the most visited brands on MySpace—where he could find cool inspiration in Los Angeles. My response? "I won't tell you, but I'll show you." A few calls to his travel agent later and off we were for two days in my hometown, with the bonus that I was to attend PINKAPALOOZA, a genius traveling publicity event held this time at the Santa Monica Pier, complete with 3000 TEAM PINK "coeds" and a live performance by Fallout Boy.

I love wearing the color, so when I first saw the pink facelift the Pier had been given, a wicked smile came across my face—pink floor, pink ferris wheel, pink photo booth. It was crazy, everything had been painted pink.

For those unfamiliar with TEAM PINK, it takes its iconography from the sports graphics of universities, focusing on a coed lifestyle with lots of pajama parties, pillow fights and frothy dreams of milk-white all-American boys. I love that. I want the team captain. Yeah bitch, and I'll fight you for it, too.

At TEAM PINK there was a silly rivalry between USC and UCLA, as cheerleaders from both teams circled the thousands of wholesome Jessica Simpson types and busted out their best rah-rahs. The only self-important moment came when Fallout Boy was finishing up their press conference and photo shoot. When it came time to exit and make their way backstage for their performance, Ashlee Simpson, clutching the hand of her hair-rock husband Pete Wentz, ducked in with her free hand shielding her face from paparazzi. Only, there was no paparazzi around.

Anyway, after one Fallout Boy song, I realized what I already knew, these guys weren't for me. I made my way off the Pier and headed home to L.A.'s East Side.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008


André do Val cuts to the chase...

After gracing the cover of Brazilian Vogue too many times to count, Barbara Berger appeared on the runway of Givenchy's last couture show as a stripy version of Daryl Hannah in Blade Runner. The next day the Blonde Runner walked for Jean Paul Gaultier. Did we mention she radically cut her hair recently?

Did you have butterflies in your stomach before your first show?
I always have butterflies before a show, especially if a like the brand. At Givenchy I got tense even at the fitting, because it is something I always dreamt of! The backstage was really warm and the air-conditioning was not fully working. But just before I reached the catwalk I remember Riccardo Tisci grabbing my hand and saying, “I know it’s really hot inside this outfit, but think it's worth it because you look gorgeous!” After that the butterflies were all gone. Jean Paul Gaultier is a very witty person. He makes you feel like the most beautiful woman on earth.

Where would you wear the looks you wore in the show?
Givenchy’s boots were adorable, as well as the coats. Good for the winter. And I'd wear the Gaultier dress to a fancy party because of the back cleavage.

Who decided you should have a haircut?
It was Ford agency in New York, together with Ford Brazil. Their fault! I needed something to make me look different and the haircut was perfect for that. The only thing I asked was that it not be ordinary. The first week I felt weird, especially going through old pictures. I couldn’t believe! I even kept a bunch of hair that got cut, but then I threw it away. What could a possibly do with that?

But did it help get work? And boys?
For some clients it was a shock. Some didn’t even recognize me before I said my name. In Brazil they never thought I would actually do it, but I think they liked it. About the boys, I think they prefer long hair, especially in Brazil, where the ideal woman is sexy and gorgeous. But I don’t mind. My boyfriend loves it and that is what truly matters.

What's next for you?
I’m in New York and still don’t know how is it going to be. I’m going to Paris to work and in August my family will come to spend holiday with me. I can’t wait!

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Going Under

You had to know it was only a matter of time until Acne wanted to cover your behind (not that you have bucne or anything). Behold the debut of their retro men's line of briefs, boxers, tees, tanks and pajamas...

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Your First Look: Hussein Chalayan at Dover Street Market

Check out Hussein's new shop-in-shop at Dover, a collaboration with British design firm Block Architecture. Intended to be permanent, the space "was based on being in a garden," says Hussein, "an interplay of indoors and outdoors." Five looks exclusive to Dover, together with key pieces from the fall '08 collection, are available for purchase or perusal. Either way, take time to stop and smell the racks...

Photos by Morgan O'Donovan/Diamond Rodgers

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Thank God It's Friday the 13th

On July 16, a night of art, music and fashion called Into the Woods, held at the stunning Kronprinzenpalais (Crown Prince Palace), kicked off Berlin Fashion Week. And it was the underground event of this season, a place for fashion that functions differently. The idea came from the art-meets-fashion platform Friday the 13th, who wanted to create a serene and thoughtful place for the exchange of ideas. They assembled a mix of sculpture, installations, photography and music from international artists that included Tal R, Jan Scharrelmann, Patricia Urquiola for Rosenthal and Julieta Aranda, whose explosions of sand within the confines of a plexiglas box was particularly amazing. A sound backdrop by musician Mathias Modica of Gomma Records accompanied the display, while the lawns of the Kronprinzenpalais were the setting for Jan Scharrelmannʼs vast sculptures and Markus Keibelʼs broken glass installation. Live acts included Richard Clouston, Nathan Gregory, Wilkins and Fetish, who played till the wee hours.

—Fiona Bryson, photos by Thomas Eigenheiten

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tokyo Street Style

photos by Rei Shito...

She's the owner of this shop
one-piece dress: Keisuke Kanda

She is a student
top: vintage
skirt: vintage
belt: vintage
tights: LABREA
bracelet: Louis Vuitton

He is a hairdresser
jacket: vintage
inner: I&I
pants: I&I
glasses: MOSCOT
bracelet: Louis Vuitton

He's a model and vintage shop staff
cap: Takashi Kondo
pants: Uniqlo

He's a designer
pants: Ralph Lauren
glasses: CAZAL
shoes: Cole Haan

She is a student
We don't know what labels she's wearing, but we love her style!

photos by Rei Shito a.k.a STYLE from TOKYO

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Sniffing Glue

Hint friends Gerrit Uittenbogaard and Natasja Martens of the Dutch label G+N have come up with an ingenious way to hold jeans together: glue. That's right, no stitching. Seams are held together only with glue, which comes in a variety of colors for extra statement. And naturally, their limited-edition Gluejeans—which will launch Amsterdam Fashion Week on July 19—are completely handmade in the Netherlands. In fact, so pragmatic are Gerrit and Natasja that they make their own muesli. That is so Dutch!

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Drawn Together

Up next at The Journal Gallery, new drawings by Brooklyn-based artist Eddie Martinez, who's previously shown at Deitch Projects and Peres Projects...


Puff Piece

Rick Owens walks us through the fog feature of his new New York store before heading over to Mr. Chow for a celebration dinner...

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Monday, July 14, 2008

You've Got The Look

Last Wednesday, Topman launched its newest line, The Look Presents, at London's swanky Tramp club, one of London's longest-running celeb hangouts where Peter Sellers, Joan Collins and Liza Minnelli held wedding receptions. And while Amanda Lear's Fashion Pack might have always smiled in limousines, I arrived with designer/filmmaker/DJ Pam Hogg via the 38 bus. (I've spied Kate Moss' latest fling and The Kills' guitarist Jamie Hince on that particular route, so no apologies.) Maybe people were staring at Pam's peach hair or perhaps they remember her from her early '90's semi-household name, appearing on prime-time talk shows, but they were definitely staring.

The Look Presents was inspired by Paul Gorman's gripping book The Look, a chronological record of each of London's key stores since the '50s and their respective links to the music business and wider undergound culture of that period—so good it should be required reading in schools. For anyone seriously interested in fashion, youth culture and/or music, the book is impossible to put down. For its The Look Presents series, Topman will collaborate with Antony Price's Priceless on a capsule collection of suits, coats and ties, as well as Wonder Workshop on tattoo and animal-printed T-shirts and Nigel Waymouth, of '60's cult store Granny Takes A Trip. Price, who hails from the theater business, found fame designing for the likes of David Bowie, Steve Strange and Duran Duran, as well as styling Roxy Music's record sleeves and Lou Reed's Transformer.

The dinner launch was filled with those who feature in the book, including social columnist and BFF-to-the-stars Nicky Haslam, seminal style commentator Peter York, former Playboy bunny Pippa Brooks, Michael Kostiff (whose store World has been revived at Dover Street Market) and Steven Philip of Rellik, every London fashion editor's favorite vintage store. Press included Style.com's braniac Tim Blanks (talking about the apocalypse, 2012, India and China), The Telegraph's Claire Richardson, Arena's Andrew Davis, Arena Homme Plus' Luke Day and Man About Town's Way Perry. Also present were amazing old-school drag queen Lady Bunny and Kevin Rowland of '80's music group Dexy's Midnight Runners, who penned an essay for The Look on suedeheads, as well as Kylie Minogue's best friend and B*boy underwear designer William Baker. Meanwhile, Topshop's billionaire owner Philip Green sat at the head table with Price, whose most famous customer, Bryan Ferry, hung off his every word.

Peter York and friend, Andrew Davis and Tim Blanks

Antony Price and Bryan Ferry

Lady Bunny and Steven Philip

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Giggles with Gareth Pugh and Gang

Gareth holding court in a toga, Richard Mortimer perfecting the burqa, Dazed and Confused's Katie Shillingford nearly breaking a leg, Seven's Joseph Quartana seeing porn in statuary and everyone holding poses in the "gothic garden," one of the many nooks of the sprawling estate where we were staying. These were just some of the boozy shenanigans that happened after Cassette Playa's show in Florence for Pitti Uomo...

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Get Your Sneak On

Sneakers are common yet complex inhabitants of our closets. While they may never become as indispensable as universally flattering denim, or displace formal eveningwear for anyone except Lily Allen, sneakers still retain their foothold as a highly functional, coveted cross-cultural shoe. And it can be a canvas for technological and artistic creativity. "It's often the search for better athletic performance that defines the way a sneaker looks," explains Nathan Gale, the head of London's Intercity design firm and author of Art & Sole (Laurence King Publishing), showcasing more than five hundred collaborations between graffiti artists, painters, graphic designers and sneaker innovators. The book was produced as an archive of rare running shoes whose ancestry might be the everyday athletic shoe, but whose cross-breeding endows them with a precious, privileged cult standing among sneaker junkies. "These are not always shoes you can find in your local sneaker store," he tells us. "To find them, you have to be knowledgeable, dedicated (i.e. camping out in line) and usually well-connected."

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Let Your Eyes Do the Talking

Really, what's the point of false eyelashes that are meant to look natural? All that time, patience and theatricality wasted on subtlety? No. Give me a tiara of hair for my eyelids, something fantastical, surreal and too expensive for your run-of-the-mill drag queen in a slime-green bob. Give me a set of Viktor & Rolf’s new babies, any of the three styles, all made for Shu Uemura. Swirl is a thick and luscious pair that nearly looks like a second hairstyle, calling to mind the elegant, elongated swoop of a pheasant’s tail. Wing looks like Dadaist paperclips, or the loopy fringe on the hand towels in a cheesecake starlet’s powder room. Rhombus—the arty version of the junkiest drugstore lashes that give an altogether too-alert and unnatural appearance—reveal a gold embossed harlequin pattern only visible when demurely lower your eyes. Inspired by Marcel Marceau, the recently deceased French mime, they make it so you don't have to say a word to get your point across. $170 per pair, at colette.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Hedi Heads to Tokyo



André do Val grills Daiane Conterato...

Ever since walking in Prada’s fall '06 show in Milan, Daiane Conterato has worked with Steven Meisel, Steven Klein, Juergen Teller, David Sims, Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin for the best rags around—think Italian Vogue, French Vogue and Numero. She's known for her angular face and stick figure, but Daiane insists she's the queen of the barbecue. We guess that makes sense, considering she's from Porto Alegre, Brazil, land of bloody meat and gauchos...

Backstage at Neon, Alexandre Herchcovitch and Redley during São Paulo Fashion Week

Did you manage to have some days off before fashion season?
Thank goodness for that. It was lovely. I spent a month at home with my family. That was exactly what I needed. And I ate so much. That was before Rio and São Paulo fashion weeks in June, right before I go to New York for the castings and everything starts again.

So you have been eating a lot, huh?
I always do! I love barbecues. My father does it really well. I really stuff myself with meat and potato salad and all that mayo that goes with it.

Is there something you don’t eat?
Don’t ask me to eat tomato salad. I don't mind healthy food, it's just that I hate raw tomatoes.

Have you found any fancy foreigners to go out with in your travels?
I think I still prefer Brazilians. They are tender and careful. And I don’t have very much time to go out with boys anyway.

Who do you go out with then?
Mostly my friends are gay, so I normally go with them to gay clubs to dance. It's better because I can actually have fun and relax, and the boys don't stalk me.

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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Greater Tokyo

Branding artist item idem (aka Cyril Duval) pays tribute to a master...

Yuichi Yoshii is my hero. The young-at-heart creative director of Tokyo's glam-metal retail temple Loveless, as well as the now-defunct Celux store (Louis Vuitton's private VIP salon in Omotesando), has always pushed the limits of Tokyo's shopping scene, at least since I moved here in 2004. I will always remember how enthusiastic he was when, as the freshly appointed fashion director of Tokion Japan, I proposed that I move my office into the Loveless shop window for an entire week. In the performance-art stunt, called THE WRONG OFFICE, I would go about my regular work with my team while also acting as a human advertisement for the magazine. I assembled a giant tableau, which amounted to an organized mess of papers, and it became a huge street success months before Karl Lagerfeld installed his office full of books in a similar project for Paris's Printemps department store.

After almost four years of brilliant creative direction for Loveless, Yoshii san is on the move again, with THE CONTEMPORARY FIX. Using guerrilla vocabulary, he destroyed his former (and popular) Aoyama restaurant, Pariya, keeping only the excavated foundations and adding metal structures from construction sites to create the very raw aesthetic of the new shop. It will change monthly and host various ephemeral projects.

It was a pure satisfaction, but not a surprise, to discover that the first guest in THE CONTEMPORARY FIX's program was renowned Japanese brand Mastermind, notorious for its cultivation of punk sensibilities within a high-fashion environment— their skull-and-crossbones logo appears on almost all of their products. Mastermind finally had their first flagship in Tokyo, if only temporary. On display are all their luxury items, from gold-coated Bearbricks ten times their size to an amazing logo-emblazoned motorbike, the ultimate must-have for wannabe-bosozoku, or Japanese Hell's Angels.

I can't wait to see what else Yoshii san has in store, in terms of both curation and retail design. I can't think of anyone else who's contributed as much to the constant rejuvenation of Tokyo's retail scene, except for Rei Kawakubo, of course, with her experimental space on Kotto Dori in Aoyama that I have seen evolve from colette meets Comme des Garcons (which I helped set up) to Dover Street Market Tokyo. And now comes news of her exciting joint venture with Louis Vuitton, launching in September. Clearly Tokyo is still the world's retail design laboratory.

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Friday, July 4, 2008

Stockholm Fashion Week: Day 3/3

Haidee Findlay-Levin...

This is beginning to feel like one long day, with a few naps thrown in! I overslept and missed the morning event, whatever it was. Instead I had breakfast with Fritz from Another Man and, between us, managed to have quite a critics pow wow. I tried to get some work done before heading off for an early lunch with my friend and photographer Martina Hoogland–Ivanow. She lives in Stockholm's Old Town, although we shared an apartment when I first moved to New York, and will be my host for the rest of the week. She looked great and glowing, which she attributed to swimming and saunas (I immediately signed up for both!) but as the conversation progressed, it was evident that she had that glow from being seriously in love.

We made our way back to Berns Hotel, where I was meeting Ben Gorham, a friend of the creative director/editor of Fantastic Man, one of the publications I contribute to. Ben works for a company called Byredo and develops fragrances, candles and beauty products that I had already had the pleasure of experiencing in my room and all over the hotel. [Read Hint's write-up in Beauty Duty.] He was in the process of developing a fragrance for a particular international men’s magazine, which will apparently have its own fantastic scent shortly. Ben is a bit of a Renaissance Man, not only running Byredo, but also injecting new energy into an old and long-forgotten Swedish bespoke men’s label.

I can’t say it enough, but in Swedish fashion, the focus seems very much a male domain. They have a solid grip on the concept of functionalism and refined the art of paring down design to its absolute essentials. There is a great courage of color, and they seem unafraid of wearing a bold primary or anything pink or purple. The only downside is that everything becomes quite two-dimensional and flat, with little surface texture or depth of tone.

My impression of the shows that I've seen so far this week, in general, has been that designers seem very much in the moment. People on the street are already wearing what was shown on the catwalk and sometimes in more creative or flamboyant ways. If all these clothes are for next summer, and there is still a long, long winter to get through, I get a sense that should I return in a year, everyone would be still looking and dressing exactly the same. I know menswear tends to move forward only in increments, but here there is already a forward-looking commitment to fashion among men, who seemed to fall into three distinct tribes: the squeaky-clean and posh prep who could have stepped out of a Boston college; a more modern version of that, with narrow chinos, shrunken jackets and a dash of dandy; and finally, a graphic 80's Berlin-like street style. Transcending gender was a palette of black, white and gray, spray-on skinny jeans and men's shoes. This style was especially prevalent in the collection of The Local Firm. The androgynous aesthetic was complemented with German punk music and shirtless male models, whose chests were painted with the same script that cropped up as a print on shorts that were shown over pushed-up leggings.

Other than this predominantly androgynous tribe, I saw very few women with distinctive personal style and even less of a direction on the catwalk. When you strip womenswear of its right to provoke and distill it to its absolute function, little substance or emotion are left. It was as if the street, and in this case I mean high street, was directly influencing the catwalk and not the other way around. This was my reaction to shows like Cheap Monday, the closing show of the day, and a collection that really functions best on the actual street, not the runway, even if the backdrop was of a street sprayed with graffiti. Granted there were some cool ripped jeans and denim finishes—over-bleached was my favorite of these—but this, along with their recent infusion of H&M money, was not sufficient to satisfy an audience already saturated with jeans.

I was looking forward to Minimarket, a completely women's collection designed by a pair of twins and their older sister. I was hoping a collection just focusing on girls would fair better. Granted, it was a cute collection of mostly tiny dresses—I'm talking micro-minis that should not be worn unless you own the most perfect pair of 16-year-old legs—and high-waisted mini-skirts. There were some neat shirts and blouses and the odd tailored trouser suit, but for the most part it was one silhouette. They showed bold blocks of primary color with a series of intricate tucks or a kind of smocking that added a little more surface to otherwise flat cotton. Then this capsule of styles was repeated, but this time in a taffeta, I suppose as eveningwear.

Relief from this sense of sameness came from Carin Wester's collection, shown in a park and open to the public. The music was the first clue as to where we were going, evoking images of Sylvia Kristel, the Dutch actress most famous for her soft-core title role in the 70's French film Emmanuelle. The casting was completely different to the army of skinny youths that had moved from show to show, but was a more unusual casting of atypical-looking boys from Marion Vain agency. They sometimes wore two pairs of glasses, one on top of the other, to quite bazaar effect—even for me, the world's biggest eyewear enthusiast! And the girls, in a variety of heights and sizes, were from a new Swedish agency called Kids of Tomorrow, which, according to my photographer friends, is apparently doing quite well here. Their hair was perfectly rolled with ringlets, while the lips were an obscenely bright red. There were traditional granny-floral high-neck blouses, but mixed with stretch-lace body suits, fingerless gloves and ankle socks. One of the British girls next to me commented that it was everything she wanted growing up, but her mother wouldn't let her wear. It was very much reveal and conceal, alternating between provocative nude jersey stockings with white garter belts and full-sleeved dresses in shades of peach and purple, both short and long. It reminded me not only of Swedish porn, but also of those hippie films showing Swedes hanging out in Goa or Majorca. The boys wore baggy trousers and long “grandpa” shirts in the same floral print, while there were also a lot of long over-shirts worn with a series of drop crotch knit trousers, which could also have been a sweater worn upside down. There were long cardigans, and finally, not only a sense of texture but also a most welcome sense of humor! Carin made my day.

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Alexis Mabille Takes Another Bow

and Rebecca Voight is tongue-tied...

Alexis Mabille, he of the wacky bow ties, is officially the Bright Young Thing of Paris couture, so anointed by style.com's Sarah Mower. She didn't write about his collection when it made its debut at the spring couture last January. (Click here for Hint's coverage.) But Mabille mania has gained steam since. Bzzzzzz. Luckily, the International Herald Tribune's Suzy Menkes and Women's Wear Daily have been on to this upstart from day one.

Mabille said he was inspired by his dream of the ideal co-ed academy, but those expecting mad schoolgirls and boys were surprised. Elegance prevailed. And despite his penchant for delirious accessories, he's turning out to be a refreshingly clean and simple designer when it comes to womenswear. For men, it's another story. If Little Lord Fauntleroy were alive today, he'd be thrilled with those curvy suits and jackets in Easter yellow and baby blue. But this is a look very few men can pull off.

Mabille turned dress shirts into evening columns in black with a white piqué bib-front. And he made a simply scandalous statement with a silk sheath that turned out to be nothing but nude tulle in the back. The most beautiful piece of flesh-tone embroidered silk was left to speak for itself in a simple shell top. Ditto the embroidered pants covered with embroidered tropical flowers. Several dresses with box-pleat skirts in odd pinks and royal blue looked intriguingly off-kilter, and he had fun with lace in peek-a-boo undersea blue. All these simple pieces were a great backdrop to accessories like satin pumps with matching bows running up the back and silver belts that looked like they'd been made from grandmother's dismantled tea set.

—Rebecca Voight

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MAN Hour

Daryoush Haj-Najafi...

MAN, the Topman-backed group show and one of few genuine must-sees at London Fashion Week, is launching a range of tees and bags designed by those appearing in MAN's forthcoming show in September: Hans Madsen, leather specialist James Long and hotly tipped sportswear tailor Christopher Shannon. MAN has even gained a French contingent with fashion and art collective Andrea Crews, chosen by Colette proprietress Sarah.

The launch party, Brit Disco, took place during Paris men's week at Rive Gauche club, a massive improvement over the usual Le Baron, where I once witnessed Gareth Pugh get booted for making out in the toilet. London DJs Disco Bloodbath provided the tunes, disco being the musical micro-trend of the summer, especially of the Italo and Cosmic varieties. The air was hot with impossibly twink-like fashion editors and talk of new appointments, such as Dazed & Confused's Nicola Formichetti's new title of fashion director of Vogue Hommes Japan. He sat with Arena Homme Plus' Jo-Ann Furniss and V newbie Jay Massacret, while on the dance floor, throwing mad shapes, was Charlie Porter, new deputy editor of Fantastic Man and now i-D. His boss at Fan Man, Gert Jonkers, said of Romain Kremer's men's show earlier that evening: "Helmet Lang, new rave." While it wasn't meant enthusiastically, it should have been, as it cleverly summed up the Clockwork Orange-referencing, codpiece-featuring collection. Meanwhile, in queue for a smoke, rumors of an upcoming Teen V bounced around.

Also in the house was Seven New York's Joseph Quartana and former Lindberg designer and model-cum-DJ David Lindwall, who managed to bag a Seven order for his conspiracy-theory tees earlier that day, joining Dover Street Market. At the end of the night, Cassette Playa's Carri Mundane—yet another Seven favorite—introduced me to Kanye West's ever-present front-row pals and Paris Fashion Week sensations Don C and Taz Arnold whose style was described by the New York Times' Cathy Horyn as "fascinating" and "cubist." His TI$A solo project's infectious, Ice Cube sampling, new release Vote Obama. Don C declared my Justice tee, "Fresh to Death," making my night. They then left to go to a strip club with Carri, who told them they should definitely check out Bernhard Willhelm's show come Sunday. They did, with Kanye in tow, so if he's sporting medieval tights in his next video, you'll know why.

Fantastic Man's Jop van Bennekom & Gert Jonkers, Carri Mundane of Cassette Playa
photos by Debbie Bragg

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Stockholm Fashion Week: Day 2/3

Haidee Findlay-Levin...

So this endless daylight is starting to take effect. I didn’t get to bed before 4 am and it was super bright and birds were chirping. I got up after only five hours and was already regretting it. As plans for my trip after Stockholm kept shifting, so did plans to meet another photographer that morning for breakfast. I didn’t ease into the day in quite as relaxed a pace as the yesterday morning.

I had breakfast outside with the sun already beating down on me, then crossed the street for the Hope show (everything here is super local and easy), where an early salmon lunched was served. Being a vegetarian in Sweden isn't such fun, but there's still plenty to indulge in. We are constantly fed, plied with drinks (yes, even at noon!) and given gifts from each of the designers. In Paris you are lucky if they hand you a bottle of water every three days. The best treat, though, was a live outdoor performance by Coco Sumner, the 16-year-old daughter of Sting and Trudie Styler. Equipped with an acoustic guitar and accompanied by one other, she belted out a few really energetic tunes about losing control and another about not being able to sleep (how fitting). The words seemed genuinely her own, yet of someone with a few more years notched on her belt. The voice was distinctly reminiscent of her father's, but with more guts.

The Hope show was good, with lots of cute boys in shortish trousers and narrow pleated khakis, worn with oversized trench coats or shrunken jackets. Longer jackets or light coats were shown with ultra short shorts and turtlenecks. Lavender popped up again among mostly neutral colors, particularly in ankle-grazing men's socks, which I later discovered turned up in my gift bag. Womenswear was stronger than I had seen before, especially when it came to the tailoring. They showed similar oversized trenches, great sleeveless jackets or vests and some 80’s dresses with an asymmetric contrast collar in mostly black, white or beige. Dresses had ease and the usual simplicity; others had some cutaway details that never quite measured up to the tailored pieces, even when worn by top model Freja.

Afterwards, I sat on the grass and waited with a few British journalists for the next show, Tiger of Sweden, back over the road at Berns, our hotel, when Coco Sumner joined us. She had changed out of her Hope garb and back into skinny jeans, high-top sneaker boots, a Rolling Stones T-shirt and Ray-Bans. She was also carrying a beat-up old fur jacket, which was funny considering it was summer and the sun was blazing. People rushed over to snap her picture. I laughed when she described her wardrobe to one blogger as her mother’s shoes, her brother’s girlfriend’s jeans and her brother’s T-shirt. I suppose whatever she has, it's all inherited from the family.

The Tiger of Sweden show felt long, and this more commercial collection was lacking in the subtleties of some of the others we had seen. The music pounded, the men’s suits were not quite as well-fitted, although I was pleased to see they had exchanged the now popular lavender for flesh tones and raspberry, with a touch of green for contrast. They also included some check to the usual sold block colors. This time the womenswear was stronger than the menswear, ironically in the tailoring. Sleeveless or belted jackets were shown with high-waisted trousers or pleated shorts. I also liked two drawstring jersey jumpsuits, one long and the other short, which had a relaxed ease about them. I have noticed in Sweden that womenswear generally comes across as more effortless than menswear. I wondered if this was because men were spending more time in front of the mirror.

There was a particular girl in the audience who had a fantastically pulled-together look. She could have been a ballerina or a young Grace Kelly. Today she was wearing a royal blue collar-less suit with a skinny belt wrapped around her waist, red platform shoes and a tan handbag. She carried large oval white sunglasses, although I never saw her put them on. I noticed she had nipped the pencil skirt in at the back in what seemed like her own urgent alteration work. I shared a Chinese high tea with Jacob from V and Marina, the very pregnant fashion editor at Bon magazine (one of the event's main sponsors), before taking in the Nicolaj D’Etoiles show. This menswear show was a slight departure from the others, much more flamboyant, down to the shantung silk shirts, trousers and jackets with contrasting silk linings. It was also the most accessorized of all the collections, with chain, string or rope belts and neck scarves, or cravats—even though the models were all barefoot. At the end it was revealed that the show was an homage to Yves Saint Laurent, clearly the 70’s/Tangier period.

Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair was by far the most impressive of all the shows I've seen so far. Inspired by the curvilinear, rusted steel sculptures of Richard Serra, the designers managed to bring together concept and cut in a clean and preppy way. Endless blue shirting was turned into full dresses for the girls and multi-layered reconstructed shirts for the men. We saw several examples of perfectly deconstructed and then perfectly reconstructed men's suiting and shirting, often with enlarged stiff collars and cuffs that morphed and cascaded down the body—quite reminiscent of Viktor & Rolf or Harajuku Girl ruffles. They took the method beyond the suiting and shirting to softer jersey pieces on which they displayed still oversized and ultra-low collars, contrasted with strict narrow trousers. These techniques of twisting, distorting, deconstructing and reconstructing men’s fabrics were taken to a level of Yohji or Junya. The inspiration was evident, but they handled their concept expertly while exhibiting an exceptional talent for cutting and draping. The final black short, full-sleeved cotton coat-dress was both wearable and exceptional. This duo is certainly one to watch.

Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair

The day was capped by the Acne show, starting with drinks at their elaborate atelier in Stockholm’s Old Town. The infamous brand, which began in jeans although they've dropped the word from their name (now Acne, not Acne Jeans), just about put Sweden on the fashion map—if you don't count H&M. The menswear portion of the collection integrated Bauhaus, while celebrating 50’s youth and rebelliousness. Womenswear, meanwhile, incorporated Bauhaus with the confidence of the 80s and the Urban Cowboy. Denim featured in both. The result was a nontraditional placement of effortless clothes, perfectly stylized into a strong and confident silhouette. I particularly loved the skirt-like, wide leather pants with a low, extra wide elasticized waist. It sounds tricky, but in fact they were incredibly simple, worn with a closed-collar white shirt and string tie. The leather biker jacket color-blocked to resemble faded paint on an old building was fantastic. This time the men's and women's sides were equally balanced, each with light-as-air, almost transparent suiting and vintage-looking denim in two shades, dark and light blue. Girls and guys wore high taupe felt hats, with snakeskin boots on the guys and fantastic wooden shoes and boots on the girls. These shoes, with their geometric wooden platform heels, even circular in some cases, were a step away from sculpture. The legacy of Bauhaus, which sought to harmonize an object's function and form, is respected by Acne and their concept of building collections as capsule wardrobes. I do think they would have been wiser, however, to stay away from sliced and frayed denim that was a little too reminiscent of the denim that Martin Margiela showed last summer, even if ripped jeans have always been a symbol of rebelliousness, which they were trying to capture.


At show’s end we were taken downstairs once more for drinks, while the room was redressed for a full buffet dinner. I caught up with my friend Thomas Persson, art director and editor of Acne Paper, for whom I also write, and his boyfriend Mattias Karlsson, who styled the show. In fact, we met the same night and at the same dinner that he met Matthias, in London eight years prior. I have become quite the Acne party groupie, going to several of their events in London, Paris, New York and now, finally, Stockholm. The dinner was a really fun sit-down affair. Stockholm’s most handsome and beautiful were assembled, so beautiful that it looked like the dinner was cast with models, along with the show. How can one country be so good-looking? Everyone was a little giddy from the previous night’s party in Paris—one of the few I managed to miss! Jonny Johansson, creative director of Acne, had collaborated with Alber Elbaz of Lanvin to create a denim and accessories collection. It sounded like Alber was as enamored with the Swedes as I was, and in turn they seemed equally smitten by his charm and talent. They had only good (and a few pretty entertaining things) to say about this collaboration. It sounded like a pretty wild party, disco being the music of choice, keeping them dancing until the early hours. Pulling off a show and this wonderfully civilized dinner the night after must have been no easy feat.

The evening—or was it morning again?—ended with more drinks (and boy can they drink!) and chatting back at Berns, along with some of my British friends from Dazed and Confused and Another magazine, who had flown in for the event. We were then joined again by the Acne lot and my photographer friend Andreas Larsson. Jonny was intrigued and soon mesmerized by my wooden glasses, which was the general idea. He promised to show me around old Stockholm when all the festivities were over. I guess no one sleeps here.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Out of the Bleu

It goes to show how appearances can be deceiving, especially under blue lights. At Lanvin's Blue Soirée at the Hotel de Crillon last night, I was certain I saw Inès de la Fressange in a tight jean jacket and denim short shorts. She looked statuesque—almost larger than life—with that stunning boyishness about her and the thick, wavy brown bob, her trademark. And those legs! De la Fressange was Karl Lagerfeld's Chanel muse when she was in her late 20s; now, at 50, she's the ambassadress of Roger Vivier shoes—and the recent recipient of France's Légion d'Honneur for being spectacular on all fronts. It's couture time in Paris, but it dawned on me that I'd recently read an interview with de la Fressange, who said the only thing she's given up at 50 is short shorts. Ah yes, the eye had played tricks on me. The Ines look-alike was really a boy. In fact, the party to celebate Lanvin's new denim collection with Acne Jeans was full of leggy young men in very short shorts—denim, of course. Alber Elbaz was in his usual bow tie and artfully rumpled suit. "I like to look at people in jeans on the street," he said of his reason to put the Lanvin label in denim, "and I love the people at Acne. Working with them reminds you that there are still nice people in this business." Johnny Johansson, Acne's creative director and founder, concurred: "We did this in a very short time and we don't even have a contract. Who needs lawyers?" Sounds like true love. Liv Tyler—on a couture-viewing trip to celebrate her birthday (she's 31) with her sister Chelsea Tallarico, Eva Mendes and French actress Roxanne Mesquida—spent the evening posing with balloons and the men in blue. Ah, Paris…

—Rebecca Voight

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Backstage at Dior Couture

Photos by Sonny Vandevelde...

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