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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Paris Fashion Week: Gareth Pugh

This was the first show in Paris for London's boy wonder, Gareth Pugh. And living up to Hard and Shiny, the name of his company with Michele Lamy, Pugh sent out an all black-and-white blend (black in back, white in front) of space-age and Victoriana—think Star Wars storm troopers with ruffs—worn with stockings resembling those Lagerfeld used in his Chanel collection for fall. What the 27-year-old presented in the Palais de Tokyo on Saturday was surely Pugh's most commercial and classic collection to date. He even used chiffon, in what one could interpret as an homage to the grandeur of the world capital of fashion. The runway itself was staged in the lucent second story of the Palais de Tokyo, lit up by a cloudless day shining through ceiling windows and the vertical lights that Pugh used as his only decorative element. The soundtrack was an electro version of 1988's Goodbye Horses—suitably minimal and aggressive. Lamy's squeeze, Rick Owens, was in attendance, as well as Purple's Olivier Zahm, who cheerfully videotaped the show on his mobile phone.

Text by Johannes Thumfart, photos by Rachel de Joode...

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Tome After Tome

After recently returning to Berlin from busy Paris, I began to enjoy life again. That is, soaking up the sun on my balcony, grilling nori-wrapped tiger prawns and diving into fashion books. Here, my essential summer reading, starting with Lars Svendsen's "Fashion Philosophy." While those two words don't usually sit side by side, the Norwegian philosopher seems to be a secret fashionista, particularly smitten with the freedom of expression the populist art form offers, even if he admits the magic is superficial. His analysis runs from Beau Brummell and Oscar Wilde to H&M and Martin Margiela, and includes huge, almost hysterical sentences like "Fashion can be used as an indicator of the process of civilization, because an awareness of fashion indicates self-awareness." Other books on the subject include Roland Barthes' "The Fashion System" and Georg Simmel's "Philosophy of Fashion," but they're rather dated. Ulf Poschardt's "Anpassen" seems too marginal (perhaps because it's available only in German), while Jean Baudrillard's and Pierre Bourdieu's approaches are too critical. After the long death-march of classic French theory, as in fashion, all eyes could soon be on Scandinavia.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Johannes Thumfart and Rachel de Joode hustle over to Andrea Crews...

Andrea Crews is not a person, but a fashion collective with a shop and studio in Paris' red-light district of Pigalle. When describing the look, its mastermind Maroussia Rebecq was quick to let us know that the street-walkers outside would probably wear her clothes with the same conviction as the hipsters and fashion-drunk Japanese who blow through. "We do not believe in taboos," she said. "Ni maitre, ni dieu was the slogan of the French Revolution, and it's ours, too."

Befitting the anarcho-democratic, anti-authoritarian vision of the label, Maroussia herself is not a designer, but a conceptual artist who admits she has no idea how to make fashion. Instead, she gives the vaguest of instructions to her crack team, who then bang out naive-style pieces from vintage fabrics. Highlights include hoodies that transform into skirts, geometric overalls made from forgotten neon scraps and gigantic padded necklaces and rings.

A collaboration with Nike is in the works. Until then, you can find Andrea Crews at Colette in Paris and Henrik Vibskov's Copenhagen shop.

Text by Johannes Thumfart, photos by Rachel de Joode

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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Johannes Thumfart reporting...

Next to the rue Saint-Honoré and its somewhat outworn charm, c.neeon presented hyper-geometric camouflage prints in autumnal colors of gray, orange and green. Although the Berlin design duo has designed for global brands Topshop and Mango, they also know how to think locally, creating all their textiles in the German province of Thuringia, while the kaleidoscopic carpets in the presentation were made in conjunction with Vorwerk, a beloved interior design company that can be be found in nearly every German living room. The overall vibe: a yoga instructor who's tripped out on acid and comes down with natural-smoked black tea—throbbing and soothing at the same time.

photos by Rachel de Joode

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Friday, February 29, 2008

Johannes Thumfart on Chanel...

For Chanel this season, Karl Lagerfeld chose to surprise by not surprising—and that's good. In the center of the stadium-like Grand Palais stood a gigantic carousel on which, instead of horses, the many symbols of Chanel circled: flacons, shoes, bijoux, bows, hats, lipstick, interlocking Cs and so on. With the merry-go-round as museum, Chanel celebrated its own myth in grand style, as if these items weren't already larger than life. The clothes, too, were decisively classic, with an air of nostalgia. Everything we've come to know, love and covet from the house were on parade, in shades of black, white, dusty pink and navy. And, for the kiddies who want to take a spin in Chanel, nerdy new-rave glasses and transparent raincoats with abstract patterns.

photos by Rachel de Joode

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Johannes Thumfart reports from Paris...

Bernhard Willhelm's fall collection was all about vegetables on sticks, fairy-tale skirts, crazy plaids, hyper-hippie bandanas and other surreal surprises—after all, he did work with Björk on her tour outfits last year. And instead of a catwalk, which he never uses, Willhelm created a stage-like setting with stairs on wheels, bags of ready-to-use clay and potted trees around which models performed a bizarre fertility ritual. It's no secret that Willhelm, with his many influences, is one of the few designers who informs tomorrow's fashion today, so this fall we look forward to wearing crime-scene hoodies and batik shirts over folkloric patterns—even if we're going to mix it with his police uniforms from the year before. Willhelm's genius will hold it all together.

photos by Rachel de Joode

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