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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sink or Swiss

Our Zurich style correspondent PLAY on the Swiss Textiles Awards...

Bless the weird and wonderful imagination of Rodarte sisters Laura & Kate Mulleavy, whose go-go gothic vision—roughly resembling a pillow fight between a fairy-tale princess and Edward Scissorhands—won the 2008 Swiss Textiles Award. Who says dark times don't come with happy endings—and hefty prize money (100,000 euros)? Besides, you can't argue with a Vogue cover and Anna Wintour's nod of approval.



I had the opportunity to follow all the nominees, from fittings to the grand finale. It was amazing to watch Jean-Pierre Braganza spend hours perfecting his razor-sharp tailoring. Louise Goldin's extraterrestial knits and Richard Nicoll's pastel futurism blew me away. Throw in special guests Angela Missoni and Patricia Field, plus a judging panel that included i-D's Terry Jones, and you can see why global fashion villagers keep jetting to Zurich.


Richard Nicoll / Louise Goldin / Jean-Pierre Braganza

Last year's winner, Marios Schwab, treated us to an after-party aptly held in the old stock exchange, which brings us to the miserable world economy. Next year, the Swiss Textiles Awards will be celebrating its 10th anniversary—with past winners including Bruno Pieters, Bernhard Willhelm and Raf Simons, it will no doubt be a grand retrospective. But is the proverbial party over? It'll be a good opportunity to sober up, shed some weight and get a facelift.

And now, I humbly offer a tip to the organizers. Please no more monster shows. It really is quite hard, even for the most hardened fashion insider, to drum up enthusiasm for a two-and-a-half-hour runway show, even with Patricia Field's high-octane glam troopers. True, it's Switzerland, but even dry-as-bone bean counters lust for drama.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

London Fashion Week: Marios Schwab

Anticipation was thick for Marios Schwab's fall collection at Topshop’s University of Westminster show space, where I was squeezed into a banquette with the Daily Rubbish’s Piers Atkinson and ex-BoomBox don Richard Mortimer (whose Ponystep.com project is under construction).

And Marios didn’t disappoint, inspired by The Yellow Wallpaper, a feminist short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman in which a woman goes mad after being confined to a small room by her husband. (Marios also had a little help from the Swiss Textile Federation, whose prize of 100,000 euros he won last November). Out came models in double-layer stretch dresses (which were cut out at the hipbone to reveal fleshy patterns or skinny stonewashed jeans underneath), cropped deep-blue furs (with dramatically high funnel necklines), Swarovski beads, and even giant circular bags and variations on the peacoat (yes, Marios does bags and peacoats). Designed by Tom Gallant, the busy wallpaper-like prints were stunning, particularly on a black shredded dress.

This was Marios' strongest, most complete, most cohesive collection to date, one where his graphic leanings met soul (if tortured). London Fashion Week might have been up and running for two days, but now it feels like it's started.


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Monday, January 7, 2008

Following Hint's footage of its making, Ben Charles Edwards' "Eat Your Chiffon"—a dinner party hosted by Natt Weller and Zandra Rhodes, with a host of fashion names—finally goes live. Part I is the anticipation, Part II is Zandra multitasking in the kitchen while reminiscing about dressing Princess Di, the genius of Poiret and how “London still has a cutting edge, but the rest of the world doesn’t want to admit it.” Part III, the finale, sees Zandra and co. settling down to dinner and chewing the linguistic fat—Andrew Logan on how Divine was like a brother to him, Piers Atkinson on Zandra's brush-sweeping technique, Marios Schwab and much more. It's a fashion feast.

Part I


Part II


Part III

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Just Call Him Mario$

Alexandra Marshall from Zurich...

This weekend was the Swiss Textile Federation’s annual Stella Awards in Zurich. Set up for designers who have achieved a track record, but need a firm push on the small of the back, Stella’s purse is a cool €100k. (Euros, people. That’s $150k, but please don’t remind me.)

This year, Greek-Austrian Londoner Marios Schwab (Central St. Martins ’03), took home the prize, to the surprise of few. In but a handful of short seasons, Schwab has managed to build himself an actual fashion identity, sort of like a higher-concept Narciso. Last year he was named Best New Designer at the British Fashion Awards, and for the textile people, it probably didn’t hurt that his spring 08 collection—the same one he brought to Zurich—opened with a cool minidress fronted in heat-sensitive fabric.

Technically adept, and structure-happy but not ridiculously so, Schwab beat out crowd-pleasing Gareth Pugh, the brilliant absurdists of Bless and Felipe Oliveira Baptista, among others. Schwab's wares are provocative, but sensible and professional enough that he may not even need the most grounded aspect of the prize, that the €100k booty goes for services, rather than coming as a lump of cash. Apparently this is so young upstarts aren’t tempted to develop a new designer drug addiction or whip up a capsule lingerie collection in fuschia astrakhan.

Last year’s winner, Bruno Pieters, just started a menswear line and was hired to do Hugo, Boss’s bridge line. So depending on the savvy of the recipient, the prize money can show fast results. But based on Mario’s very interesting collection—and I mean that in a good way!—we’re hoping that he holds out if Body Glove calls. It’d be nice to see what he does of his own accord first.

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