Last year, a Brussels-based fashion multitasker named Aymeric Watine was wondering how he could soup up his store for the holiday season. Then he remembered the Sapins de Noël des Créateurs, an event created 19 years ago by French TV legend Marie Christiane Marek (her US equivalent would be Elsa Klensch). The concept was to have fashion designers use their imagination and recreate Christmas trees, which were then auctioned off for charity. With Marek's blessing, Watine took the idea to the Belgian capital. The first edition attracted 14 designers and 60,000 euros.
This year, 38 designers are on board, including high-profile names like Raf Simons, Stella McCartney, and Diane Von Furstenberg. To be auctioned December 1 for BIG, a breast-cancer awareness group, the creations range from the predictably phallic (such as Natan's spare wood structure) to the pious (Kryst's beautifully pixelated Madonna and child, made of tiny plastic tubes). Among the more unexpected are Jean-Paul Lespagnard's scarf — showing a popular Christmas meal of sushi, waffles, and a roast — draped over a man's head, as well as Wouters and Hendrix's downright campy tree admiring itself in a mirror. Simons' much-anticipated contribution is an large plush sofa in the shape of a tree — baby not included.
Wouters & Hendrix
It's not often that the 18th-century Queen of France and one of the greatest voluptuaries the world has ever known is invoked to describe a contemporary accessory. Nonetheless, Marie Antoinette and her exacting standards are cited by photographer and poet Christopher-Calvin Pollard when detailing his elaborate new shoe for his Iconoduly line, co-founded with the French-American artist Virginie Hauss. So lofty is its concept (and, at $15,000, its price tag) that it transcends footwear altogether. Indeed it's part of the duo's mission to revive, using centuries-old artisanal techniques, what they see as the lost art of adornment.
Let's break it down. Limited to 51, each pair of the Thyrsus shoe (named after a pinecone wand that, in Greek mythology, is associated with prosperity and hedonism) is handmade from beginning to end. The heel itself is carved by a master sculptor from solid cocobolo wood and finished with 24-karat gold leaf; the pinecone scales in the back are individually cut and stitched from fine ostrich-leg leather; the insole is wrapped in Lelievre embroidery; and the outsole is fire-branded with the edition number. Which is to say, nary a synthetic molecule goes into the production.
Incredibly, there is already a wait list, says Pollard. But unlike Birkins, buying into Iconoduly requires rules of ownership. "I am very picky about who I let purchase a pair. All women must first complete a Proust Questionnaire and then the selection process begins." Even when clients are allowed in, there is a shroud of secrecy that must be met at all times — it's a rule.
Pollard says he plans to make exactly one style of shoe per year, and he has the next 20 years already designed and sketched. Even the perks are planned out. For 2015, the Thyrsus will come with a skirt and earrings and, for 2016, the as-yet-unveiled object of adornment will ship with a 22-karat gold headpiece and a bench. Not just any bench, surely, but the most exquisite divan ever made.
Superheroes and supervillains, and several strong personalities in between, are reimagined by photographer Sacha Goldberger as Flemish Baroque portraits from the 1600s, complete with handmade costumes, props, and nobly introspective gazes. The photos demonstrate the use of centuries-old painting techniques to convey nobility while at the same time evoking a sense of fragility within us all.
Characters from Marvel and DC comic books, as well as Disney, Star Wars and other 20th-century classics, are represented. But Goldberger was hardly alone in the massive effort. An entire crew chipped in, from costume designers to casting directors. Which may explain why so many portraits resemble the actors who most memorably brought them to life on a screen, from Adam West’s Batman and Christopher Reeve's Superman to Hugh Jackman's Wolverine and Lou Ferrigno’s Incredible Hulk.
Sometimes the sentimental sappiness of the holidays proves too much to resist and you have no choice but to embrace it in all its mawkish absurdity. For those moments, why not don Viktor & Rolf's limited-edition Christmas sweater, from the Dutch label's Monsieur line? In the time-honored tradition of gaudy seasonal knits, the colorful wool sweater depicts the designers' coddled dachshund, Little Swan, with reindeer antlers. Yes, a dog with antlers, because Christmas. Be thankful it doesn't come with jangly tree ornaments.
€480, exclusively at Viktor & Rolf, 370 rue Saint-Honoré, Paris
The short video feels a little like being trapped in a snow globe, which is probably the point...
Like so many great works of art through the ages, the creator of these faux magazine covers — glamorizing princesses and princes from Disney's most celebrated and adored films — is unknown. Which of course adds to the magic. Diehard DIsney fans will assert they could only have come from the studio, given the cleverness of the headlines: Jasmine's Favorite Bikini Bazaars, From the Cinders to the Balls, Everything's Hotter Under the Water, Grumpy Speaks Out. So good! In a way, we almost don't want to know who the artist is, preferring instead to believe the covers are real, because Once Upon a Time...
Cinderella on Elle
Princess Tiana on Vanity Fair
Scar on Vanity Fair
Mulan on Harper's Bazaar
Prince Charming on GQ
When the guys at the cult men's accessories label KILLSPENCER handcrafted a black mini-basketball, leather net, and maple backboard to goof around in their Silverlake workshop, all they did from then on was exactly that. And they realized they had a hit on their hands. Thus, the Indoor Mini-Basketball Collection was born, available for the holidays in classic black or a special-edition 24-karat gold option, featuring a gold-plated breakaway rim and gold-foil skirt — all conflict-free, of course.
$795 (classic) - $995 (gold) at KILLSPENCER
Following collaborations with Proenza Schouler and Christopher Kane, the Californian denim label J Brand has joined forces with Simone Rocha for its latest capsule collection. Part of a new wave of young London talent, the graduate of Central Saint Martins and a favorite of Rei Kawakubo has brought her trademark ruffle embellishment to denim jackets, pants, dresses, and shorts in solid pink, red, or black.
Available at all Dover Street Market stores (November 14), Montaigne Market, 10 Corso Como, and Isetan (December 1) and online
The Apple Watch may have fanfare, but Pebble watches now have watchface apps made of pure energy, making them "more like ghosts than real things." So says the company that designed them, TTMM, winners of several awards for these new watchface apps, which, owing to their simplistic, black-and-white, retro aesthetic, makes some of them all but impossible to read — more like playing Space Invaders than telling time. But who needs time when you have ghosts?
Pharrell Williams is not only happy, but busy. His many recent collabs — with adidas, Comme des Garçons, Timberland, Uniqlo, G-Star Raw — now include bags for Moynat. According to the heritage maker of leather goods, during the rapper's visit to the Paris atelier a year ago, he was taken with a collection of vintage trunks and discovered an old Moynat label with the image of a train. He said it reminded him of the 1940s musical The Harvey Girls, a tribute to the working women of New England who helped settle the West. Coincidentally, Moynat's artistic director had been listening to Jimi Hendrix’s Hear My Train A Comin’. Thus a train theme was born. The Moynat x Pharrell Williams collection consists of four bags: a minaudière in hand-tooled plastic resin, a clutch in hand-sculpted ebony, and two pochettes, one featuring a toy train in leather marquetry and the other printed with Constructivist-style graphics.
At Colette in Paris starting October 13, Moynat boutiques starting October 20, and Isetan Shinjuku in Tokyo and Dover Street Market in New York later in 2014