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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Paper Pushing

Thomas Persson is the mild-mannered editor-in-chief of Acne Paper, the magazine published by the Swedish label of the same name. But as its latest cover makes perfectly clear, this is no dressed-up catalog flogging skinnies and tees. Rather, sold mostly in museums, Acne Paper is a large-scale, thick-stock, finely crafted art biannual with a mission all its own. Unabbreviated, the title says it all: Ambition to Create Novel Expressions. Thomas was in town recently to launch the new winter issue and met up with our very own Lee Carter to start celebrating a little early...

LC: Would I sound like a groupie if I told you I'm a fan of the new issue even before seeing it?
TP: No. Yes. Each issue does get better. I think because we have these themes, which makes the magazine stand apart.

What's the theme of winter?

What's your favorite thing about it?
There's one feature that's my darling. It's about two extraordinary tapestries from the late Middle Ages that went through a major renovation. They're enormous. They're from Belgium, now hanging in Genoa. It took this atelier five years to restore them, which they've been doing for hundreds of years. They tell the story of Alexander the Great, the Macedonian king—who was gaaaay.

So the tapestries are gay porn?
No, they're quite sexy though. It's interested to see how sophisticated things were. We think about the Middle Ages as something dark and gloomy, but in fact it was quite a colorful, glorious and glamorous time. You can see that in the tapestries. The women are beautiful with high foreheads and heavy eyelids. The men are very masculine and they all have their own individual expressions. There could be hundreds of men in one fragment yet every inch is so full of detail.

Um, hundreds of men? What kind of scene is this?
A battle scene. One tapestry is about Alexander's youth and the other is how he conquers the world. Then we have a wonderful cover shoot by Daniel Jackson with Guinevere van Seenus, beautiful pictures inspired by old master paintings.

She's perfect for that. She can do Renaissance, alien, anything.
We also have an interview with Nan Goldin, which is quite brutal in its honesty. It's sort of painful to read because she talks about love, but without being cynical. She's realistic about love and sex and relationships. We also have an interview with the great Noam Chomsky about language, which is really fascinating. And we have a really funny story about wine. It's with Raoul Ruiz, a filmmaker from Chile but based in France. He talked about a certain wine having so much acid that if you spilled it on a tablecloth it would burn a hole right through it.

I must try this wine.
Yes, you should. It was fun to do something about wine that wasn't snobby.

I like how Acne Paper has complete freedom of scope and tone. It's able to touch on so many times and places, and really go beneath the surface. It's a little universe.
That's very nice of you to say. And you're absolutely right. That's what we wanted from the beginning. I like to say it's dinner conversation, as opposed to cocktail conversation. Today, with the web, you can get information in a flash. So in a way, magazines have lost their purpose. I wanted to offer something different. We're more inspired by books than magazines.

How do you come up with your stories?
It all starts with a kind of feeling, which always seems to come when we're already working on an issue. We get an appetite for something else, so each issue is a sort reaction to the previous.

What's your dream story?
An interview with Irving Penn, because he's so reluctant. I love what he writes in his books, there's no bullshit. He's about finding the essence, like in his photographs. He's a great inspiration.

What's the mission of Acne Paper?
To be timeless, to mix the historical with the contemporary. A theme that was relevant 500 years ago can be relevant today. And it needs to have an aesthetic about it. I couldn't do a magazine about passion because what's the color palette of passion? For the color palette of tradition, I immediately think of wooden floors, rustic, old, textured. Then we just research for a while. We'll look at books, go on the Internet, talk to people and boil down the theme. And sometimes we do something just because we want to.

Are there stories you definitely don't want?
There's so much focus on celebrities and consumerism these days, which is fine. But I thought maybe we could not do that, not because we don't like it, but so many other people are doing it.

And clearly you're not funded by advertising.
No. Someone said to me once that we have to advertising. He said without advertising it's not a real magazine. But what is real?

He was saying the prestige of a magazine comes from its advertising, which makes no sense.
For me a real magazine has real content. If you look at most magazines, they're controlled by their advertisers, but we have freedom.

At the same time it's not just promotional material for Acne.
In the beginning, bookstores in Sweden would say, Oh, Acne is doing a magalog. But it's not about Acne. It's called Acne and it's part of the Acne collective, but one has to remember that it's published by all the Acne companies. People got that eventually. We're getting better distribution all the time, primarily through cultural institutions. We've been contacted by the Centre Pompidou and the Tate Modern. We're always sold out.

So in a way, it seems like Acne Paper has reached a kind of perfect form. Is there anything you still really want to try?
Of course, like anything, it can always be better. But if I wanted to try something radically different it would be to start a new magazine. Should we have another champagne?

Yeah, I'm easy.

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Hint Tip: Maison Martin Margiela

In what promises to be the sample sale of all sample sales, Maison Martin Margiela will hold one of its rare ventes privées at its Paris location from November 12-15. We suggest printing out and taking this handy tip sheet with you...

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bringing Up the Rear

Butt sluts and crackheads came together last week to celebrate Butt magazine's latest release and the opening of the NY Art Book Fair. Apparently economists aren't the only ones looking for a bottom. Photos by Miguel Villalobos...

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Big Fat Greek Fashion Show

Cesar Padilla...

I'm not a tit man (my boyfriend will attest to this), but the first thing I noticed at Hellenic Fashion Week in Athens recently were the breasts. They were real and big, just like the hips. We're talking women, not girls waiting for their first pube or starving themselves to be the next Kate Moss. Show after show confirmed the Greeks like to keep it real. Beautiful hook-nosed models with striking ancient profiles, sometimes even mannish, strutted down the runway in a barrage of hits and misses for spring.

Local talent mixed with a selection of designers shipped in from abroad made for an interesting week in the chaotic city. Highlights included Antwerp Royal Academy graduate Demna Gvasalia, whose collection won my heart with its goth agenda—high goth at that. I fucking love goth and anyone who pushes it for summer, in my book, shreds.

Demna Gvasalia, Maria Mastori & Filep Motwari

Angelos Bratis' collection, inspired by the world of perfume, featured some gorgeous and not so gorgeous asymmetrical gowns. There were a few moments reminiscent of Gianni Versace's draping, which is a good thing, but the best part were the large single earrings by Maria Mastori that dangled down to the nipple. Maria also teamed up with designer Filep Motwari. A little on the busy side, with unneccesary 1940's hair nets on all the models, his show featured amazing leather bags, massive rings, armbands and genius oversized neckwear. The clothes weren't as stunning, but props for using models well into their 50s.

The biggest problem with fashion in any city these days is the level of seriousness people place on it. It took guest designer Jean Charles de Castelbajac to remind everyone that fashion is serious, but also creative and fun. After several days of enduring bias cut after asymmetric bias cut and way too many pieces posing as expensive pajamas, it was refreshing to see his child-like sunglasses, hats and other accessories fashioned from Legos. They, along with dresses with huge printed faces surrounded by mounds of hair, made Jean Charles the star of the week. (Hanging out with him the day after his show, I found myself spouting confessions like, "I can't believe you're not gay" and "I'm so sad you're not gay." His reply? "That's why I got into fashion. Everyone was gay and there were all these beautiful girls around." Genius! I'm guessing he is a tit man.)

Jean Charles de Castelbajac

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Just In: Agyness Deyn to Women

Women Model Management now, officially, represents Agyness Deyn, confirming a months-old rumor that she would follow DNA's head booker when he, too, decamped for the Nolita-based agency. Agyness has also moved from London to New York City recently. Good on ya, Aggy! We love you back.

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Hint Tip: Berliner Strasse

If you ever wanted to know more about the young Berlin urban art scene (and of course you do—it's unlike anything you've seen), don't miss Berliner Strasse. Opening October 31, the group show features artists Jaybo aka Monk, XOOOOX, Emess, Nomad, Anton Unai, Marok, Charlie Isoe, Neon, Daniel Tagno, Mymo and Alex Flach, whose recent book of photos, Berlin Calling, says it all...

Projection on Berliner Dom by Jaybo aka Monk, conceived by Skudi Optix & Tristesse Deluxe

Sit Lady by XOOOOX

Daniel Tagno performing with The Gadget

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In a Flash

It seems their last pop-up restaurant, The Reindeer (read our review of the launch party), and their lasting claim to fame, Bistrotheque, aren't enough for Pablo Flack and David Waddington. The haute-restaurateurs are set to open their latest gallery-like eatery, Flash, located within GSK Contemporary, a large-scale, cutting-edge exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in the heart of London.

Open for only 80 days beginning November 1, Flash is described, rather cryptically, as a room-within-a-room. Meaning—unlike the flashy decor of The Reindeer, with its forty snow-covered fir trees—the interior design will consist of crates used to ship works of art. On display will be specially commissioned pieces by artists Alexis Teplin and Simon Popper, a coat of armor by Gareth Pugh, a Swarovski chandelier by Giles Deacon and porcelain dishes made in collaboration between artist Will Broome and Wedgwood.

A rendering of Flash's dining room

Will Broome for Wedgwood

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tar Trek

Remember tar, the arts magazine we told you would debut at Frieze Art Fair in London? Well, in case you missed it, Frieze was last week and we're happy to say tar had a rip-roaring launch party not only in London, but also in Paris...

Stefano Pilati, Kim Avella

Eleni Gatsou, editor-in-chief Evanly Schindler, creative director Neville Wakefield, Lisa Rovner

publisher Maurizio Marchiori, colette's Sarah, Neville Wakefield

Oh, and back in New York, tar graces a window of Barneys...

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Brasilia Nuts

Anh Tuan Pham...

I've always had my suspicions about Brasilia. Does the Brazilian capital actually exist or is it just a point on the map of the modernist imagination? According to legend, Brasilia is a meticulously planned city with a monolithic skyline of odd orbs and sensuous curves envisioned by the great architect Oscar Niemeyer. (By the way, in a testament to the longevity of modernism, Oscar is 101 years old this year!). But could such an idealistic place really exist? Short answer: yes. And I know this because I recently visited Brasilia for Capital Fashion Week, now in its fifth season, showcasing local talent with, not surprisingly, an emphasis on social and environmental responsibility. And naturally, architecture was an inspiration for many of the designers. Here, a collage of my favorite looks, along with photos of the city taken by yours truly...

1. Juliana Aragão e Giovana Maia's androgynous pieces seemed destined for android aliens disembarking their temporarily parked UFOs.

2. Although known mostly for jewelry,
Sandra Lima caught my eye with her complex, highly-constructed black mini-dresses with quirky architectural undulations.

3. A self-taught designer now in his third year,
Romildo Nascimento presented a number of deconstructed looks for men and women, including this vest repurposed as men's shorts.

João e Maria's loose houndstooth suits were reminiscent of David Byrne à la Psycho Killer. The young duo's light-hearted presentation was part of a group show organized by IESB, Brasilia's fashion school.

5. Girls from Brasilia, though landlocked, can still dream of the sea, as Camila Prado attested with her nautical-themed collection inspired by WWII sailor tattoos.

Mara Mac, who also presents at São Paulo Fashion Week, is already a fashion institution for the smart, sophisticated Brasileira set. His bubble dresses with colorful soap-bubble prints made me happy.

Lei Basica's casual creations are inspired by far-off, exotic places like...Brooklyn. Though images of the L train weren't conjured, the dreamy pieces and feather headdresses stole the show.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Tokyo Street Style

photos by Rei Shito...

Hair stylist
hat: Stephen Jones
coat: Sasquatch
cardigan: Public Image
pants: Ksubi
boots: Fad3

pants: Comme des Garçons
socks: Bernhard Willhelm
coat & boots: used

shirts: Banal Chic Bizarre
pants: Nasty
shoes: Adidas

Shop staff
hat & skirt: used
shoes: Umbilical

Hair stylist
sweater: used
shoes: Bought at Germain

photos by Rei Shito, aka STYLE from TOKYO

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No Fair

Why do South Koreans and Mexicans get to have their own Henrik Vibskov show? ...


Empirical Observation

Damion Matthews...

Andre Leon Talley may have come to San Francisco last week for a Halston retrospective at Neiman Marcus, but what he got was a surprise birthday party organized by the store's European couture specialist, Vicki Winston, who presented him with a birthday cake featuring October's Vogue cover in frosting. Partygoers, who included major Neiman patrons, were then led through a rousing rendition of the birthday song. Surprisingly, however, Danielle Steel was not among them, even though, as Andre later told me, "She's my best friend in San Francisco."

Andre also said he plans to spend the next two days exploring the city. One stop on the list: the de Young museum, which will soon sponsor a major Yves Saint Laurent exhibit. "The de Young is a wonderful museum. It's my favorite place in San Francisco." But he won't overdo it. "I've had so many glamorous birthday parties. This year I'm going to celebrate quietly. I'm going to watch a film about Versailles that someone bought me." Somehow, given San Francisco's courtly delights, we think his time here will stack up to the glamour and grandeur of Versailles.

photo Drew Altizer

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Game Girl

Swedish designer Sandra Backlund makes what we call wearable knitscapes—well, more or less wearable. Here are a few images of her spring 09 collection, Pool Position. We assume, looking at the Atari-esque pyramids, that it has to do with the 80s' video game Pole Position, only summery. Or not...

Photos by John Scarisbrick

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Dead Meat

You've seen slasher flicks and sensitive gay dramas. But have you seen a movie about hot young gay German zombies who crawl out from their graves, eat roadkill and have bloody orgies in abandoned buildings—all while hungering for true love? After premiering at Sundance earlier this year, Bruce LaBruce's OTTO; Or, Up With Dead People will screen at MoMA on October 27, followed by a reception, then followed by an after-party at Amalia (204 W. 55th St, next to Dream Hotel), hosted by members of the bands The Homophones, Misty Roses and Gio Black Peter...

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Play It Forward

Anyone who's met Kim Jones knows the new creative director of Dunhill works hard and plays even harder. And when he plays, he takes pictures. These are of artist Terence Koh, in London for Frieze Art Fair, and the antics that seem to follow him wherever he goes...

Terence and model Cole Mohr dancing
Terence presenting his manifesto, "which we all loved," says Kim

Roller disco in Hyde Park

Cole trying on a palm leaf at the Fantastic Man party at Bistrotheque
Kim draped in fur

Gallerist Simon Parris and Kim celebrating Kim's first centerfold

Terence, "the talented Mr. Edward Tang" and unidentified friend
Anouck Lepère, graphics guru Felix Neill and Kim (hiding) at Terence's show at Serpentine Gallery

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Quick Frieze

Pics from the Fantastic Man party during Frieze Art Fair in London, in collaboration with Peres Projects and Filippa K. Festivities began with a private dinner at Bistrotheque, followed by an Absolut-fueled bash with synchronized male dancers in tuxedos...

writers Caroline Roux and Stephen Todd, Fantastic Man's Gert Jonkers & Tim Blanks of Style.com
Royal Academy of Art 's Sir Norman Rosenthal & Terence Koh

artist Francesco Vezzoli
David Furnish

Rasmus Wingard and Sofia Hagglund-Wood of Filippa K
Fantastic Man's Jop van Bennekom and i-D's Ben Reardon

Filippa Knutsson of Filippa K
gallerist Maureen Paley

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hint Tip: Ace Hotel

Back in February we learned, and immediately spilled the beans to you, that Portland's cheap-but-chic, grunge-observant Ace Hotel (we know such things because we recently stayed there on a trip to the sprawling Nike campus) had plans to open smack in the middle of New York City. Now we're hearing the new space, in midtown at 29th & Broadway, will finally launch February 1, just in time for Fashion Week.

Some of the signature anti-glam things you'll find: a restaurant by the owners of the Spotted Pig, an old-timey barbershop, a gym with vintage equipment, Smeg refrigerators (from the time people called them ice boxes) in half the rooms and views of the Empire State Building. Apparently the place is full of history—until recently there was even a boxing ring in the basement. And even though they're all about cheap rooms, they want you to know they have rock star suites, too. You know, just in case.

(By the way, in a related tip, the elk-emblazoned wool blankets on the seats of Number (N)ine's Northwest-inspired fall collection, made in collaboration with Ace, will arrive soon.)

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Print Shop

Printed Matter may be a legendary art-book store on New York's West Side, but it's also the name of an exhibition showcasing 40 years of Comme des Garçons imagery, through November 22. Ad campaigns, pages from SIX magazine (which CdG published from 1988-91) and the work of Argentinean art collective Mondongo (seen here) span all six floors of Dover Street Market. Because Rei Kawakubo doesn't just design fashion; she "designs the company called Comme des Garçons," says the Dover site...

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Warsaw (that's Poland) Street Style

By Kasia Bobula...

Oskar Stelagowski (23) — DJ, music producer & club promoter
jeans: Cheap Monday
jacket, cardigan & glasses: vintage
bow: Tatty Devine

Ina Lekiewicz (23) — stylist & fashion editor @ Glamour
top: Eley Kishimoto
skirt & bag: Luella
shoes: Marc Jacobs

Piotr Chojnacki (20) — student
jacket: vintage
cardigan: Uniqlo
jeans: Cheap Monday
shoes: Camper

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Just Kidding

For all you Karl kultheads, watch the Kaiser kommit what he kalls a "bad taste joke" while kreating the imagery for his new scent, Kapsule...

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Pop, the Question

So everyone knows that Condé Nast UK, whose original plans to acquire Pop from Bauer Media fell through, simply poached the magazine's founder and editor-in-chief, Katie Grand, and her team last week to create a new-and-improved title under their own auspices. The larger, "bespoke" biannual promises to be an even more experimental and visionary blend of fashion and art. But the question is, what will happen to Pop? We hear that Bauer's initial reaction to keep the style bible alive has hit a snag and that, after twenty glorious issues over eight years, the winter issue will be the last pop. And here's another Hint exclusive. We also hear that the name of Katie Grand and Condé Nast's new baby is, appropriately, Love, due to arrive in March. Now that's what we call a love child. You heard it here first.

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Fringe Benefits

Henrik Vibskov is at it again with Fringe Projects—his conceptual collaboration with artist Andreas Emenius exploring illusion, surface and movement—this time focusing on obsession and loneliness...

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Ready for His Close-Up

Paul Jasmin—photographer, Factory worker, friend of Dorothy (and Judy, really!), voice of Mrs. Bates in Psycho and bedmate of Bruce Weber (way back in the day)—is himself the subject of Band of Outsiders' holiday collection...

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hint Tip: Queer Zines

Take the angry Revolting Cocks anthem from 1990, "Beers, Steers + Queers," subtract the steers, add a few rears and what do you get? Queer Zines, an exhibition of 100 indie rags with a radical queer sensibility—beginning with the seminal imagery of Straight to Hell in the late 70s to the more cleaned-up Butt of today—at Printed Matter's NY Art Book Fair at Phillips de Pury from October 24 - 26. (If you go on the 25th, you can catch the latest Saturday@Phillips, this time focusing on the art collections of Hamish Bowles, Humberto Leon & Carol Lim of Opening Ceremony and Everard Findlay.) And now, because we know you want to start googling queer zine titles in hopes of raunch: My Comrade, Dik Fagazine, They Shoot Homos Don't They?, Agony, Young Men at Play. Happy Searching...

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Buzz Cut

A bee's perspective was the inspiration for new designer Dharma Taylor's spring collection of oversized tees, pants and jumpsuits in primary colors and geometric prints (at ilil in Tokyo and Shop 172 in London), shown as this trippy short film during London Fashion Week. Enjoy ...

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Hint Tip: Antony & The Johnsons

What do lace gloves, suicidal thoughts and Butoh dance have in common? They're just a few of the things that make up Antony and The Johnsons' new five-track EP, Another World (available October 7), their first release in three years and a teaser of their forthcoming full-length album, The Crying Light...

Cover art (1984 photo of Butoh co-founder and Japanese dance legend Kazuo Ohno)

The video for the sublime yet depressing title track...

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Beer Mugging

Hint's Swiss style correspondent Play boozes it up...

Leather shorts and thigh-slapping dances aren't just perverse darkroom practices. I'm at Munich Oktoberfest, the world's biggest beer festival. And let me tell you, there's enough here to appeal even to non-devotees of wheat beer and dirndl chic. You see, if you hail from an over-styled yet narcoleptic city like Zurich (as I do), and are ever so tired of fast-fashion trends (as I am), the German tradition is full of kitsch curiosities, bar-wench charm, calorific treats and a dandy-esque disdain for what the arbiters of cool are wearing right now.


After the initial shock of encountering people of all ages strutting the city streets in embroidered deerhide shorts and dirndl dresses, you realize they actually look rather dashing. By the time you enter the Oktoberfest fairground, you feel seriously underdressed in your black hipster uniform. But it's okay, because once you've made it past the fierce security into one of the fourteen giant tents, anarchy rules. You fight your way past the masses of fellow revelers, somehow find your seat and in no time you have plates of Bavarian veal sausage with sweet mustard, pork knuckles and roast chickens arrive to your table—or, in my case, a very cheesy Swabian egg pasta. And pretzels, lots of pretzels. Of course, beer flows non-stop, from midday until 11 pm. Through it all, a live band performs sing-along anthems and before long, the cheery oom-pah-pah has everybody climbing on the wooden benches, swinging and swaying into blissful oblivion. That's what I call the sound of music.

As for Munich style, the locals love fusing Italian fashion with their own rustic DNA, which results in a preponderance of flashy sunglasses, perma-tans, contemporary Bavarian costume, brightly-colored sports apparel and BMWs. Which means the streets are refreshingly free of the Berlin Mitte brigade and skinny jeans-wearing wannabes. Instead, the luxury shopping area around Maximilanstrasse is bustling with groups of Middle Eastern women in Burqas carrying giant Dior bags, possibly to be unpacked at the legendary private pizza parties at Hotel Bayrischer Hof, Munich's premier address.

So while it's safe to say Munich won't be fashion's next erogenous zone, the city definitely cuts a dash when it comes to eccentricity. Blame Ludwig II, Bavaria's equally extravagant and bumptious king and uber-dandy icon. Think Michael Jackson-meets-Liberace-meets-Elton John-meets-Cinderella and you have some measure of the man who built Neuschwanstein castle as a fantasy retreat and an ode to his male muse, Richard Wagner.

The other dandy icon who's left his stamp on the scene is gay filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder, who introduced post-war femmes fatales and leather nazis to 70's German cinema. His hang-out, the gay district of Glockenbachviertel, is now home to the hip kids, among them up-and-coming fashion designer Patrick Mohr. Championing an eclectic personal style, the former model is living proof that a mustache and traditional Norwegian knit jacket can be very fashion-forward, especially if styled with Bowie pants and moccasins. Patrick's eye for what I call acid folk is most evident in Henrik Vibskov's fall 08 collection, which he worked on. Which reminds me I must now get back to making my acid dirndl for Oktoberfest '09. Watch this space.

Fassbinder graffiti, Patrick Mohr

Text & images by Play

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Male Pattern

By Suleman Anaya...

The art world A-list slummed it to the Bowery last Tuesday for the New Museum's opening of "Live Forever," the mid-career survey of artist Elizabeth Peyton, she of velvety little canvases of pale male beauties. Stephanie Seymour, Maurizio Cattalan, Kiki Smith and John Currin, with his sexy sculptress wife Rachel Feinstein, were among the notables who paid their respects as they imbibed a range of Thai libations (Thaibations?).

Most of us looked at the art first, which, as ever, split observers into two camps: those who loved it and those who considered it little more than precious trifle. We took it for what it was, realizing we'll never get over Kurt Cobain and admiring how Peyton has, over time, found an effective way to depict fashion, sometimes by just implying a pattern or silhouette, yet one that looks like something you know you've seen walking around Nolita.

Of course, everyone wanted to be on the top floor, with its terrace and stunning views—by far the best thing about the museum's new digs. Getting there, however, proved a little Sisyphean, as waiting for the elevator can take up half of your night. Thank goodness for Marc Jacobs, who made up for it by painting one of the sweeter tableaux of the night as we rode down together. Dressed in a three-piece pinstriped Bottega suit and tall man-heels, with his hair greased back, he looked every bit the Latin Lover, even holding hands with one, his hunky Brazilian boyfriend Lorenzo Martone.

Elizabeth Peyton, Marc Jacobs & Lorenzo Martone

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Hint Tip: Transformazium

Transformazium, a group of amazing women (artists, organizers, social reformers and sweethearts, each one of them), up and transplanted themselves to a mostly abandoned steel town outside Pittsburgh last winter as a sincere, long-term life experiment to fix up an old, beautiful, weird church and turn it into a community skill-sharing center. They are 100% living the change they want to see in the world, teaching themselves how to farm, taking responsibility for their own roles in their physical environment—and disinterested third parties can confirm it is working. Of course, this kind of thing takes money; hence, Transformazium's arty boat cruise without the boat this Saturday. Amber Valentine and Hint's Liz Armstrong will DJ the dance party afterward...

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Getting Busy

By Hynam Kendall...

Humble beginnings scrawling spray-can silhouettes on Paris walls are a distant memory for Fafi, who's basking in the glow of a successful foray into mainstream media by creating the lithe, strutting version of Lily Allen in Mark Ronson's video for Oh My God. She's also helming fashion and beauty campaigns for Adidas, MAC cosmetics and Luella, and sits assuredly at number ten on The Observer’s Who’s Cool Now Hot 50, above media-savvy contemporaries Lovefoxx, Santogold and Adam Neate. Not bad for a girl who does her day job "for fun."

“Yes, sex is a signifier. But not sex sex. It's not pornography,” Fafi pointedly urges in what can only be described as a sexy accent, dulcet and melodic. She then laughs a laugh that summons her assistants, who escort her and her guest—in the guise of Dictaphone-wielding journalist—to a meeting room, the same room that serves as her home-away-from-home when work is heavy, as it is today. “Sexy, funny and sometimes aggressive. That’s how I describe my style,” she continues in short breaths, as though the five-minute interval between her responses never happened.

Time is of the essence for an up-and-comer like Fafi (“Am I still an up-and-comer? Surely I’ve up and come by now.”). Her every waking moment is spent between interviews, phone calls, emails, photo shoots and listless appointments, all noted and accounted for in her hand-held calendar, with its color-coded post-its and cellotape strands. So busy is she that she alerts her international curator Melina to help answer to my questions. Fafi, it seems, is going to be late for a cover shoot accompanying an in-depth piece about her new sneaker range for Adidas, which "will be amazing,” she assures me in a seductive Lolita twang that leaves vowels suspended in mid-air. On top of that, one of her assistants says, she has a MAC collection to launch in the Middle East and subsequently bring to America. Moreover, she must explore her collaboration with New York-based brand M.O.B. and concentrate on pieces for her solo gallery show in Paris come December.

Then, of course, she must travel the world, for no other reason than she wants to see it. "I always travel around the world. It punctuates the end of a project and it keeps me sane,” she enthuses, flicking her hair the way the boys like. She is undeniably a wanted woman. “It's just my job,” she casually coos before dashing to her next appointment, another meeting of minds indeterminate from her sea of exchanges that make up her every day.

Before she's gone, I manage to ask whether or not she is deigned to fight the cause for street art and risk suffering the same de-evolution of art critique as graffiti artists like Banksy before her. "This art is a way to express myself,” she says. “I will go on to multiply the mediums of my art: canvas, walls, bags, stationery, clothes, make-up—as long as they are quality mediums. Graffiti is such a base term. People put it in a box and think it can only go so far. It doesn't need to remain on walls. I’m graffiti and not. Yes and no. I'm giving life to a new medium that is just X.” And with that, she is gone, her words lingering.

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Resting on Their Laurels

Remember our Q&A with &Son's Simon Foxton about his Blank Canvas collaboration with Fred Perry? Well, they're baaack—or rather, Ann-Sofie Back and Peter Jensen. For her part, Back has created merino wool shirts and dresses in black, turquoise and mustard, while Jensen has reinvented Fred Perry's classic Harrington jacket for men in red, black and blue gingham—all with the classic laurel-wreath insignia...

Ann-Sofie Back

Peter Jensen

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Dark Star

Even if you wanted to avoid him, and we all did, it was hard to miss Sacha Baron Cohen's alter-ego at Paris Fashion Week. We know several fashion observers with, let's say, an affinity for black who were targeted by Bruno, a flaming, mincing, petulant Austrian fashion show presenter, complete with a sleeveless leather get-up and blown-out hair. They mostly ran screaming (and giggling), but one unwittingly signed a release, which means she just might appear in his next big-screen send-up. Here's Bruno being thwarted by security backstage at Jean-Charles de Castelbajac...

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Paris Fashion Week: Gold Digging

Haidee Findlay-Levin...

One of the shiniest stars of Paris Fashion Week was shine itself. One would predict that in this current political and economic doom and gloom, designers would reflect this with something pretty sober, conservative or at the very least classic. On the contrary, designers have opted for all the glittery, excessive posturing of the 80s. And I am not just referring to a color or surface treatment; I mean this quite literally. Precious metals, to be exact.

Sophia Kokosalaki usually mines her Greek heritage for inspiration, but this time she traveled a little farther east, specifically the Middle East. Perched on the head of most of the girls was a miniature gold fez. Fabrics were mostly organza in black, beige orange and bright blue, accented with gold lamé, of course. Gold earrings swung loosely from their ears while a gold bustier peeked out from under a jacket and a gold bra could be seen under a cutaway jumpsuit. And like a moth to a flame, my eye was drawn from the fez to the feet, with their sculptural platinum heels in any number of strappy combinations.

Sophia Kokosalaki

Dries Van Noten showed a far more subtle, poetic and elegant collection, which is hard to imagine when graphics and geometry are the inspiration. Black and white grid prints on boxy shirts and jackets were followed by faded and dégradé versions in blue, saffron and sunset yellow on relaxed shifts, replacing his standard floral and ethnic prints. But once again, the metals sparkled most—first in the setting, the Palais Royal sculpture garden, where Pol Bury's giant silver ball fountains took center stage. They were the perfect connect to the bulbous necklaces and bracelets in both silver and gold, suspended on long black ribbons that fell down the back, while an ankle-grazing gold jersey skirt was paired with a crisp white shirt. Dries got my gold star not only for being one of the rare designers to give women something other than a showgirl outfit, but also for offering us a glass of tea and macaroons from Ladurée during a 12-hour day of nonstop shows.

Dries Van Noten

Sparkle came in many forms this season, not least of them crystals. Large jet or mirror crystals dripped from the shoulders of black and flesh-pink capes in Givenchy’s homage to the rodeo. Or take Bollywood to the circus and you have an understanding of Indian designer Manish Arora's recent rise and shine. Meanwhile, disco must have been on Alber Albaz’s playlist long before the girls strutted down his Lanvin runway to late 70’s soundtracks, as glittery crystals adorned large sunglasses and stiletto heels in an otherwise dark collection.

And Alexander McQueen, showman extraordinaire, sent out a veritable Noah’s Ark of creatures against a 3D video projection of a revolving earth. There were some incredible beauties, but I hate to say, this time there were some beasts. Never one for restraint, he closed the show with girls in shiny crystal-covered dresses with an imaginary deep décolleté. These looks seemed more Ice Capades than exotic. But perhaps this was his point: in order to save the earth we need to save the polar ice caps. He closed the show with an unforgettable skintight and short-sleeved catsuit, completely covered in amber crystals down to the heels—clearly, going for gold.

Alexander McQueen

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Paris Street Style

photos by Rei Shito...

at Ann Demeulemeester, in the metro after Martin Margiela

at Christian Dior, at Kris Van Assche

at Tsumori Chisato, at Undercover

at Gareth Pugh (Michele Lamy on the left)

photos by Rei Shito, aka STYLE from TOKYO

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Monday, October 6, 2008

Wode Warriors

We first showed you Wode—Boudicca's new art fragrance that goes on like a blast of ink-blue spray paint, then fades into delightful whiffs of the poisonous herb hemlock—in Beauty Duty back in June. It's passive-aggressiveness in a bottle, now hitting counters; specifically, colette, which has already had to reorder, and soon Barneys New York. To celebrate the launch, Boudicca's New York graffiti friends went out every night during Paris Fashion Week painting the town blue...

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Hint Tip: Gucci

If love conquers all, we think we have a solution to this pesky financial meltdown, and it's called GUCCI loves Bergdorf. The uber-exclusive 15-bag line—launching tomorrow at the 5th Avenue shopping mecca—features Gucci's Hysteria, Jockey and Indy styles in patent and Guccissima leather, as well as beyond-precious skins like crocodile, ostrich and python. Here's where the love comes in; they're all in Bergdorf's signature lilac color. Prices range from $1,295 to $29,800, so it seems that in these tough economic times, love means never having to say your card was denied. Take that, credit crunch.

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Paris Fashion Week: Alexander McQueen

Laurent Dombrowicz...

Despite his Buddhist beliefs, Alexander McQueen doesn't appear to be an optimist. At least not judging from his spring collection, which was all about unnatural shapes and disturbing alien-like forms—a kind of cyborg couture. The catwalk looked like Noah's Arc, with its tableau of stuffed taxidermy animals set against a giant replica of a spinning planet earth. The collection started with a woody trompe l’oeil on amazing frocks, then corsets with embroideries and prints of frozen roses. Kaleidoscope is the word for other prints recalling the Rorschach test. Sequined overalls closed the grand opus, followed by McQueen himself in a disconcerting red-eyed rabbit outfit.

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Paris Fashion Week: Hermès

Pia Catton...

Go-go gauchos roamed the Hermès runway, a long and dusty road covered with sand and dotted with cacti. Nary a lonesome doll was without a cowboy hat. Fringe, ponchos, bananas—all the trappings of the Wild West were here. Leather jackets and ponchos came in creamy shades of butter and tan. Scarf gowns were cinched with belts that sparkled with bits of silver.

The show opened with Stephanie Seymour, followed by Naomi Campbell. They closed the show (in reverse order) wearing tiered halter gowns. Say what you will, their steady sex appeal made the other girls look like the walking dead from a gold-rush ghost town.

It's debatable that fringe on a classic Hermès bag is a wise move. But Jean Paul Gaultier has to put all those leather goods into context season after season. And really, the Western theme has been off the radar since the last time Madonna left the gym wearing a cowboy hat. Ralph Lauren does it, but in a more turquoise-studded Americana sort of way. Here, the undercurrent was a certain Latin lustiness. The combination of feminine allure and masculine touches, like cigars, produced a frisson of sexuality, à la Zoro, plus bad guy, plus the captive princess—all in one bright orange box.

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Paris Fashion Week: Junya Watanabe

Haidee Findlay-Levin...

When I think about what I miss most about living in Africa, there are a few things that immediately spring to mind: the quality of the light, especially in the early morning and after a summer thunderstorm, the sound of African men and women singing as they go about their work and the constant hum of crickets and chirping of birds in the warmer months. It was to this familiar sound of birds, followed by voices of women singing, that Junya Watanabe opened his show and his homage to the elegance of African dress. To this day, every morning I wrap a piece or two of African fabric around my body and remain like this until I need to leave the house. As I work from home, this form of dress has fondly become known to my friends as my African office skirt. So it was natural that I felt a pang of nostalgia for his deftness at tackling this very personal theme that so many designers get so horribly wrong.

A multitude of colorful Kenyan prints in cotton were twisted, bunched and gathered in his familiar and innovative ways, sometimes even pleated. What I loved most was the intricate shoulder detail or knitted yokes. These prints were also wrapped into beautiful turbans filled with wild grasses that the girls carried gracefully on their heads. He flirted a little with this spirit and also with some of these twisted or bunched silhouettes last summer, in bold block colors of pink and cobalt blue but most memorably in a variety of liberty prints. This season he exchanged those for the bold and colorful African prints, as well as a mix of leafy, leopard or zebra prints, fluorescent stretch jersey, bright ginghams, light men's suiting and faded denim. It seems he wanted to make use of accessible fabrics, those appropriate not only to Africa, but the developing world in general.

He revisited his deconstruction of denim, this time showing some fitted and peplum jackets but mostly as long ruffled skirts made out of men’s jeans and worn belted low on the hip. A zebra thong peeked out above one of them, a surprising and somewhat tacky gesture. Sometimes the denim was broken up with contrasting fabric ruffles in print, gingham or white eyelet—another accessible fabric that he made good use of combined with denim, and later in the show with natural colored linen.

While all the elements seem so familiar and commonplace, it sometimes takes a foreigner (Japanese is as foreign as any) with as deft an eye as his to appreciate the style of the culture and to see and show it from a different perspective. I do wish he had pushed it even further though, left those tiny touches of colonialism behind and let loose on the idea without any restraint or trepidation. All the same, he has already given my old African office skirt whole new meaning.

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Friday, October 3, 2008

Paris Fashion Week: Hussein Chalayan

Haidee Findlay-Levin...

I joined Fantastic Man editors Jop van Bennekom and Gert Jonkers to see the Hussein Chalayan show. They weren't there to see menswear, but to lend their support to Jody Barnes, their new fashion director, who was stepping in to style the show in place of a pregnant Jane Howe.

There were the usual high expectations from Hussein, who seldom disappoints, usually presenting one of those shows that makes Fashion Week memorable. I have been there for almost all of them, ever since his student days. And sometimes I have been in the trenches, too, filling in for Jane or offering my loyal friendship and support. Last season, in all honesty, was my first disappointment. It just never jelled for me, so this season my expectations were especially high, in light of his new position at Puma and their financial support.

The runway was the familiar circular format, this time revolving. The narrow window in the back revealed a row of wine glasses. This became the stage for a live percussionist, who added further eeriness to the soundtrack by passing his hands rhythmically over the glasses.

The first look was a gray bodysuit, and from that point on we saw many variations of intricately cut bodysuits that revealed décolleté, legs and even a fair amount of butt. All this seemed very much in keeping with the season. But at a Hussein show?! This was dangerously close to the amount of flesh he showed in his controversial show of naked women under truncated chadors.

Some of the suits were fitted with small fins or wings at the hip, others had surgical corsetry or what looked like the inner workings of a vehicle, while others were embellished with shards of glass. Space travel and aerodynamics is a subject that greatly interests Hussein and although this immediately puts him in the “futuristic" camp, he insists this is not the case. In fact, he is adamant to shake free of the label and insists that it is the now that really interests him. After all, the future quickly becomes the present.

Besides a few touches of fluorescent yellow, the gray palette transitioned into blue photographic print, another theme that has recurred in his work. This time, it was a collage of car graveyards and car wrecks, complete with fragments of license plates. Narrow trousers were given the same treatment, as were softer layers of shroud-like chiffon or a harem jumpsuit that was cut out at the hips to facilitate the protruding fins.

Another interesting addition to the line-up, and for Hussein in general, were sunglasses with little panels or shutters in place of lenses, which seemed both retro and futuristic. In fact they seemed inspired or adapted from a series of glasses prominent in the 60s, originally designed by fellow Brit, Oliver Goldsmith. There was one style with vertical panels shown in a few bold colors and another with pinched holes, a style Goldsmith also introduced with smaller holes, known as the Alice Band, as it doubled as exactly that when popped up over the head. The shoes were really the only downside, steel heels which looked a little buckled and beaten up, interesting aesthetically but treacherous for the girls who had that revolving catwalk to negotiate.

For the finale—and there is always a much-anticipated finale at a Hussein show—four girls stepped onto the revolving platform as wind machines were fired up like twin plane propellers. The print of their dresses morphed into rigid fins in the back, like those of a classic car. As the wind blew, sending their loose hair into a frenzy, the screech of the musical glasses rose before ending in a crash, as the lights dimmed and the window snapped shut.

Backstage, Hussein spoke about the concept of the show. You can be sure he will never talk skirt lengths or trends, but is usually intrigued by some philosopher whose work feels contemporary and relevant today. This time he spoke about the world in a state of flux, pregnant with the anticipation of change brought on by an outside force. This change can be physical, shown here in the shapes and forms of the clothes themselves, or as a natural, social or political event. If all change looked as amazing as it does in the hands of Hussein Chalayan, bring it on, I say!

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Hurricane Hussein

André do Val rides on the gale-force winds of Hussein Chalayan's spring show...

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Paris Fashion Week: Chanel

Pia Catton...

Karl Lagerfeld is known to be a music obsessive. And at the show today, the only thing that topped his guitar case made of white Chanel quilting was a pair Elvis sunglasses with plastic sideburns.

But the two models-as-rockers were only one part of the tableau. To the pop strains of "Our House" by Madness, models emerged from a giant replica of the house of Chanel at 31 rue Cambon. After leaving the façade, they walked down a gray runway painted to resemble a sidewalk. And the collection seemed to reflect the catch-all democracy of the street. There were classic suits (some in blown-out proportions) for the ladies, sweaters and leggings for les jeunes filles and a sublime gray evening gown for the princesses. Even a group of gents emerged, looking ever so Karl-like with their jeans, tuxedo jackets and high collars.

With the natural light flowing in from the glass ceilings of the Grand Palais, the show looked every bit the ideal day: a street of chic where everyone is coming from or going to Chanel.

Lagerfeld has a way of celebrating the tradition of Chanel without devolving into brand narcissism, if such a thing exists. After last year's carousel of giant-sized Chanel objects, this was an homage to—with apologies to Led Zeppelin—"Houses of the Holy."

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Paris Fashion Week: Yves Saint Laurent

Laurent Dombrowicz...

In a way, all the fashion world is Yves Saint Laurent's grieving widow. As such, how could the maison present a spring collections and pay tribute to its recently-deceased founder and master who lives on in the hearts of so many? Stefano Pilati, as creative director, is not about nostalgia or commemoration; he is a designer focused on new ideas, as was Monsieur Saint Laurent. His solution was to take Saint Laurent's signatures and give them a modern touch. Transparency, safari jackets, saroual trousers (Marrakech was Yves' paradise and home away from home), tuxedos and padded jackets were transposed with a sleek and edgy style. More seductive than dominatrix, the YSL heroine is, for spring, the most elegant woman on earth.

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Paris Fashion Week: Sonia Rykiel

Laurent Dombrowicz...

“When I was born,” Sonia Rykiel, now 80, has said, "my hair was so red that my mother tried to wash my head with alcohol, thinking I was bleeding. No way! I was already as I am, as red as blood.” In the late 50s, Sonia worked for her father as a window dresser, where she was discovered by painter Henri Matisse while arranging ties—and she became his muse. Ten years later, at 40, during the socio-political revolution of 1968, she started designing under her own name. Her own muse was the Parisian woman. Forty years later, Sonia Rykiel had become an iconic part of the French culture of style. Multicolored stripes, rhinestones, floppy-chic knits, berets, bohemian styling, fur coats, jerseys worn inside out—these are all hers.

For her 40th anniversary show and after-party, mother and daughter (Nathalie Rykiel is the CEO of the company) presented a lifetime of signatures. In tribute, a few dozen of her friends and colleagues were asked to design special pieces. A Martin Margiela coat made out of red wigs and a Jean Paul Gaultier dress that the model, holding knitting needles, appeared to still be making were absolutely divine. Sonia, we love you.

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Paris Fashion Week: Maison Martin Margiela

Haidee Findlay-Levin...

When I read the article in the Herald Tribune the morning of Martin Margiela's 20th anniversary show, that this might be his last and that he was looking for a successor, I considered my own resignation from fashion. Although my departure wouldn't be nearly as dramatic or significant, if someone as inspired and inspiring as Margiela had nothing left to say, I found it hard to imagine carrying on.

After all, how can one individual—although he only refers collectively to his Maison—come up with so many original ideas twice yearly? He is a fish that swims upstream, one of the few designers who always does things his way, whether the rest of the industry comes around to his way of thinking or not, right down to his AIDS charity T-shirt that he consistently sells even if the fight against AIDS itself has slipped out of fashion.

Even the setting of his shows have set precedents. He has shown in the back of a pub, on buses, in dilapidated buildings and on top of tables in a dance hall. Perhaps the most genius of all was the simultaneous staging of a show in several countries, requiring no travel at all as we simultaneously witnessed the same experience. His idea long preceded live internet simulcasts.

I remember my introduction to his clothes, that blank white label and its curious four white stitches. On one of my first fashion trips to Paris, I saw a series of clothes in a store—it might have been L’Eclaireur on Rue Rossier—and I loved each and every piece. But they had no name, no identity; they were completely anonymous. From that point on I not only used Margiela for styling jobs, but also consistently bought and wore that white label, even when friends had grown tired of his anti-aesthetic.

I was drawn not only to the intelligence of the clothes, but to Margiela's humor and sense of irony. I also identified with the dark side of his work, which, while often macabre, can also be witty and silly. Margiela is one of the few designers who works through a concept over two seasons, sometimes even three, until he has completely explored and developed the idea, often revisiting it at an even later date. At his 10th anniversary show he presented exact pieces from the previous decade, but re-dyed them in a single color, showing the longevity of their design and how an old idea can be repackaged as new. Despite all his influence—acknowledged by Rei Kawakubo, Junya Watanabe, Yohji Yamamoto and Marc Jacobs among others—his clothes are so ahead of the game that they remain essentially timeless.

Now looking back at two decades, this latest show began with a single large shadow cast over the runway and then opened with a singe girl in a white lab coat dress, followed by a series of looks that entered from both sides of the runway. A screen-printed scarf dress referred to his screen-printing collection, with its sequin dresses and knit sweaters that had been screened onto silk tank dresses. This time it was like a carbon rubbing on jeans and an oversized jean jacket.

Accessories were as clever as ever, including shoes that were either too large or small, with a heel falling short of the foot or the strap extended well past the ankle but held in place with elastic. A red bag evolved and eventually draped right over the bodysuit like a cape. Newest to his repertoire is fine jewelry, which appeared as an oversized link chain on a model whose head peeked out of an oversized velvet jewelry box as the rest of the body fell out of the spotlight.

As usual the models remained anonymous, in bodysuits and masks. There is nothing misogynistic here, just that the clothes should speak for themselves. Playing with this concept, sometimes he put a dark-skinned girl in a huge blonde afro and a white girl in a huge black afro, both of which completely covered the face. Margiela has always had a love for hair and wigs, creating vests and jackets out of the inside netting of wigs, as well as fur hats in the shape of mullets. This time wigs not only hid the face of the girls, but also cascaded as full capes.

All birthday parties deserve a party dress and cake, and Margiela closed his show with two enormous party dresses, taking his familiar play on oversized volumes to extremes. Then a huge screen-printed garment in the shape of a tiered cake walked down the runway with the legs of two girls peeking out. When the curtain rose, Margiela was, as usual, nowhere to be seen as large silver confetti (oversized, of course) fell from above, models took their finale walk (this time with faces exposed) with the Maison team (in their customary white lab coats) and even a brass band took to the runway.

Happy Birthday, Martin! Here's to many more.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Paris Fashion Week: Jeremy Scott

Sophia DeArborne...

Jeremy Scott’s unique brand of cartoonish prints and over-the-top, satirical showmanship has always made his shows hilarious and poignant. And looking at the towering wigs and mini-dresses of his spring collection, I imagined an otherworldly meeting between Marty McFly’s visit to 2015 in Back to The Future and Madonna’s performance of Vogue at the 1990 MTV awards.

Living up to the title, Let Them East Gas, the models were fitted with extra-large, Marie Antoinette-esque wigs and corresponding make-up. The show opened with 17th-century, Waterford-style scenes in blue and white (think grandma's tea set), followed by girls in Scott’s signature skintight mini-dresses printed with gasoline nozzles, polka dots, flowers or airplanes. He also included his new Ksubi jeans collaboration, black high-waisted skinny jeans with a pink rose print.

The men were no exception. They, too, were fitted with the massive wigs and strutted out in signature Jeremy prints, pink-striped wrestling leotards and matching speedos with bleached out denim vests. They were reminiscent of the male play things Madonna had prance about on that MTV stage eighteen years ago.

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