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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hint Tip: The Convenience Store

Goodbye wire hangers, hello Eames chairs. That's how the conversation will go when the Convenience Store—the little underground boutique in London that sells hard-to-find anti-labels in a deliberately low-budget, corner-store setting—pops up and spreads out at St Martins Lane from March 19 - April 9. Finally, the Philippe Starck set can get their hands on Gareth Pugh's ventilated armor or Rick Owens' backless jumpsuits, or Bruno Pieters, Hannah Marshall and Boudicca, without leaving the swanky comfort and disco-lights glam of the hotel lobby.

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Animal Attraction

It was only day two of the Paris collections and already fashion trends are trickling in. Come fall, we predict you'll be craving a pair of fur arm warmers, the kind designer Sharon Wauchob showed to a packed house that included ever-bobbed Linda Fargo of Bergdorf. Bruno Pieters liked the fur trend as well, throwing in the arm warmers among the rather serious and angsty lineup of space-age corporate workers.

Otherwise, leather is turning out to be the big winner across all the Fashion Weeks. Leather pants, deconstructured leather coats, and fabric texturized to resemble leather (like at Lutz) have been everywhere. Even romanticist Olivier Theyskens at Nina Ricci turned in a harder edge today, with little leather jackets featuring multiple silver snap closures, angular shoulders and skin-tight turtlenecks. He also showed he can cut a suit, like a particular brown silk double-breasted jacket with aggressively padded shoulders. With rumors swirling that he's already been ousted by Nina Ricci's parent company, Puig, but refuses to leave, Theyskens smartly opted to show his versatility beyond flowy on-the-bias goddess gowns. Hmmm, the Rod Blagojevich of fashion?

—Bee-Shyuan Chang

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Paris Men's Week: Day 1

By Rebecca Voight...

Why worry about your shrinking bank account when the really big problem is what to wear to the financial crisis? On the first day of the Paris men's shows for fall, there were enough men in plaid flannel shirts and work boots to fill all the lumber yards in Canada. Desperately seeking sartorial propriety, the boys (and girls) of menswear are determined to face hard times with New Deal grit—not unlike Dorothea Lange’s black-and-whites of migrant workers fleeing the Dust Bowl.

But while radical change is in the air, not all designers are working workwear. At Hugo by Hugo Boss, Bruno Pieters appears to have been beating the financial blues by listening to a whole lot of Kraftwerk, especially 1978's vocoder-ific “We Are the Robots." Allowing his taste for razor-sharp tailoring and dueling checks to go wild, Pieters also veered into Devo territory with Clockwork Orange overtones. The response was either love or hate; others just had to close their eyes.

Number (N)ine's Takahiro Miyashita opted to escape reality by time-traveling to the early 17th century, invoking D'Artagnan and the Three Musketeers in tattered brocade frock coats, britches and grandfather shirts. I’m not sure how, but several of Miyashita's musketeers even managed to look like Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone's “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”


Number (N)ine

"When the going gets tough, just stay in bed" is what Yohji Yamamoto appeared to be saying in one of his best men’s collections in recent memory. Striped pajama sets and bathrobe coats worn with ski bonnets, oversized cardigans and leggings crumpled at the ankle like droopy socks are ideal for the laid-back, laid-off life.


Yohji Yamamoto

If Henrik Vibskov didn't stay in bed, à la Yamamoto, he only ventured as far as the hamper. The Danish designer capped the day’s shows with his “Human Laundry Service” performance at the Espace Saint Martin, one of those mysterious spiritual guidance places where people attend self-improvement seminars. I checked out a couple of their meetings, but unfortunately they weren’t doing anything seriously spiritual like channeling or flapping around on the floor. They should have seen what was going on upstairs!

Apparently the show Vibskov presented was only half of what he wanted to do because the room was too small to hold his entire Human Laundry Service apparatus, which originally involved water, of course. But he did manage to squeeze in five giant black-and-white striped treadmills manned by models dressed like surreal Tyrolean Elves. Oversized plaid shirts, bright and baggy long johns, shawls, blanket coats and candy stripe suits are for the man who combats economic adversity with joie de vivre.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Paris Fashion Week: Gareth Pugh & Bruno Pieters

There are always positives and negatives to Paris Fashion Week. This season, they've either come into balance or the very idea has become the trend. Probably the most rigorous of examples, Gareth Pugh's debut Paris show at Palais de Tokyo set the tone. After nine seasons in London, Pugh's move to Paris is the result of winning the prestigious and highly lucrative Andam award. From the glossy black and white fold-up poster invite to the Dan Flavin-like vertical lighting rods, we were prepared for extremes in black and white. And we got it. Bodies were completely covered in the two colors, from the top of the neck down to the two-toned booted wedges. Extreme Elizabethan ruffled collars were paired with skirt hems with the same scroll-like effect. Arms and legs were perfectly articulated and sculpted, while micro dresses were covered in patent-leather scales to futuristic-reptilian effect. Or like costumes for some sci-fi samurai movie; in fact Pugh's designs having already found their way into the Superheroes show at the Met. For me, the highlights were an amazing series of dresses with perfectly enhanced fish-scale protrusions down the sides of the silhouette. Light relief came in a few softer renditions in black and white chiffon and silk, both in hooded robe-like coats and collapsing curtain-ruffle dresses. The show played out like a chess set, except in this case the queens, pawns, knights, castles and even the board were all fused together.



Belgian designer Bruno Pieters, last year's Andam award winner, didn’t have chess in mind when he designed his own graphic black and white collection. Instead he dedicated his show to Pierre Cardin. Pieters traded Pugh's white lights for a black-out, which made navigating our way to our seats pretty treacherous if you didn't have one of those key-ring lights that a Japanese buyer had on hand. A very sporadic spotlight did more to obscure than enhance the impeccable tailoring and construction of these doll-sized clothes worn by doll-size girls. Pieters showed both black and white micro-mini suits of short skirts and short-sleeved square-shouldered, cropped jackets—mostly in patent raffia—complete with sleeveless turtlenecks. The square shoulder felt more reminiscent of Margiela than Cardin; on the other hand, they wouldn't have looked out of place on a 60’s Braniff stewardess. Other silhouettes in black and white silk taffeta may have been more of a nod to the old master, but their lightness proved that they were in the hands of a young pro. Our favorite suite was a little black raffia one worn by my friend Nathalie Joos, the show's casting director, who greeted us at the gate, although she could've easily joined her own line-up. She later joined me for the Nina Ricci show, where the paparazzi and bloggerazzi were already well-entrenched.

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