Fur Sure

Perhaps under the influence of eccentrics Thierry Mugler and Jeremy Scott, where he held stints, Quentin Veron is crazy about fur. The young Frenchie, a newcomer to Paris Fashion Week, designs and makes his coats, jackets and accessories (like great Russian hats, or ushankas) at the esteemed Paris workshop of Patrick Lestarquit—but these aren't your grandmother’s heavy furs stuffed with mothballs...

You grew up in the middle of France, in Clermont-Ferrand. Did you have a strong fashion point of view early on?
When I was a teenager, you could be a skater and listen to rock or a bad boy and listen to rap. If you were out of those two groups you were considered a dork. Outside of Paris, it’s hard to find cool clothes and there are almost no vintage stores. I found my own style when I moved to Paris. Now I know where to find clothes I like, but I want to create pieces that are different.

Who inspires you, in real life or in cinema?
My collections are constructed like tales. I create my own characters, but I'm truly inspired by the universe depicted in Tim Burton films. That universe, tinged with darkness, also represents my creative vision.

Tell me about your experiences at Jeremy Scott in Los Angeles.
Jeremy is an amazing character with a superb energy. Sometimes, to reenergize us as we worked hard in his atelier, he’d come and sing and do a few dance moves. It forced us to smile. Or occasionally, when we were working late hours, he'd tell us stories about living in Paris, which I loved.

What did you think of L.A. fashion?
People really dress up there, they have fun. But of course I'm speaking of the crowd I was hanging out with, not the Hollywood crowd, who dress up only in designer clothes. It was interesting for me to start from zero in a city I didn't know anything about. Normally I love to wear layers, but it was so hot there that I had to find another way to show off my style.

Your clothes are made at Patrick Lestarquit's workshop. What is that like?
It’s amazing. I'm surrounded by fur. It feels like an older era with all the handcrafted work. I choose the skins, staple them, try out some mixes. Patrick Lestarquit teaches me techniques and how to choose my skins. He's like my mentor. Then I have two people working for me. One is a Greek man, a specialist of minks. He's been working with fur for at least 40 years, since he was 13. The other is a woman who takes care of all the linings, and she sews everything by hand. It’s going back to basics. It’s not like you just make a drawing and send it to the other side of the world to be made.

Is it true you only got into fur about two years ago?
Yes, but I always wore and liked fur. When I finished school, I asked Patrick if I could come to his workshop. I became a kind of apprentice and fell in love with the craft. Touching fur everyday reminds me of my childhood. My father is a professional horse rider, and I loved working with him.

You've said “fur always existed and human beings always wore it.” Okay, it's natural, but it's also controversial. Why fur?
The smell, the feel, the way it looks and moves. I mean, fur is like a diamond. It's unique, beautiful and makes women feel pretty.

What do you think of PETA protesters?
They make me laugh!

Have you ever been confronted by anti-fur people?

Where do you get your furs? Have you ever hunted?
I only use farm-raised furs, animals that are specifically raised to be fur, not wild animals. I don't think anyone would go hunt a cow to have their steak.

Could you envision yourself designing pieces in other materials, or is it fur forever?
I have a fashion designer background, I'm not just a furrier. In fact, for my next collection, I'm starting to add other materials. But fur will always be the center of my collections.

Jan 08, 2010 00:00:00
Linn Lømo, spring 10

Going Medieval

The slickest thing out of Norway since pickled herring, jewelry designer Linn Lømo is hitting New York with the force of one of her signature ball-and-chain metal baubles. Hint sat down with the Scandinavian superwoman in her Midtown atelier to discuss her handmade bijoux, body armor and cock rings.

Why did you base your business in New York rather than Paris or Milan?
I lived in several cities before coming to New York in 2004. I instantly fell in love with the city. It’s such a contrast to my native Norwegian forest.

Where's kinkier, Manhattan or the forest?
There is a hidden darkness in Norwegian culture. Growing up you'll hear stories of trolls and all kinds of mythical creatures, like beautiful women who will lure men into the deep forest and then captivate them for eternity. The only thing separating them from being human is that she has a long tail. The forest holds all kinds of secrets.

When did you start designing jewelry?
I was studying shoe design at Parsons. I took a class on metalwork with the intention to use it for shoes. I became obsessed with the material and had to continue.

What kinds of metals do you use?
The pieces in this collection are silver and gold, with semiprecious and precious stones. I am also working with leather, enamel and bone.

Everything in the collection is handmade?
Yes, I touch every piece.

Who are some of your design influences?
I'm mostly inspired by objects—body armor, medieval weaponry, fetish gear, equestrian equipment, historic Gaelic body jewelry.

Do you envision yourself designing things besides jewelry?
Luggage, like travel trunks. Large, grand pieces with a lot of potential for sculpture.

It's brave to start a jewelry collection in the middle of a recession.
You have to do what you love in life. There are always going to be hard times. That said, I do consider price points and try to make pieces that are very accessible.

There are lots of S&M-y things, like spikes and chains, in the collection. Are you an undercover dominatrix?
I think those things are sexy.

Would you ever produce a studded cock ring?
I’m working on one right now.

Do you approach designing men’s jewelry different from women’s?
I don't. Some might say my personal style is tough or masculine. My designs are, too.

Who are some girls and boys in New York whose style you really love?
The city is just filled with uber-cool people. And I love that you can pretty much just wear a black plastic bag, as long as you carry it well.

Who would you love to see wearing your pieces?
I’d love to see a random stranger wearing something I've made.

Any fashion designers you’d like to collaborate with?
I’d love to work with Ohne Titel.

I see you out at night all the time. Does the nightlife figure into your aesthetic?
I wear it in the day. I wear it at night.

Tell me what an evening with Linn Lømo might be like.
Lots of dancing, lots of jewelry, champagne, tequila, good friends, flirting.

Sweden has ABBA, Finland has Nokia, Denmark has Hans Christian Andersen. Does Norway now have Linn Lømo as its hottest export?

Email store and price inquiries

Dec 08, 2009 00:00:00
Cody Ross, Marianne Aulie

Priestess NYC

Designer Cody Ross, perennially shaded and very blond, could easily be the lovechild of Max Headroom and Missing Persons' Dale Bozzio. But his Priestess NYC label isn't (only) about the trashtastic 80s. Here, the former financier talks chaos theories, capsule collections and mud-wrestling pits.

Sarah Fones: First things first—if the eyes are the windows onto the soul, why the sunglasses?
Cody Ross: I don't sleep so well. I wear shades to camouflage the circles under my eyes.

You've described Priestess NYC as "kitschy." How does the aesthetic inform your designs?
It refers to pluralism, irony, allegory, parody—basically stuff that‘s tongue-in-cheek or outlandish. In photography, David LaChapelle comes to mind. In fashion, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac or Jeremy Scott.

You were born in Texas and later moved to England to study at the London School of Economics. Then you began taking evening courses at Central Saint Martins. A whim, or destiny?
Not a whim. I’ve always gravitated toward the art and fashion scene. I checked out the part-time curriculum at Saint Martins and got enrolled. It was the perfect counterbalance to economics courses, and only a few blocks away. 

How much of a leap was it to go from business to fashion design?
I think all the same methodologies apply: research, lots of conviction and setting realistic goals. In business and finance, unlike fashion and art, the precise mechanism that links trends to price, or cause to effect, is mysterious and inconsistent. Randomness plays a bigger role, and that’s why it can be a virtue.

Explain the virtues of randomness.
Well, a better characterization is chaos, in the mathematical sense. Designing a collection is inherently subjective and open-ended. Due to commercial pressures and limited resources, it requires a vision of the future but also a finite outlook. The simple logic of cause and effect breaks down. The result: anything that can happen, can happen next. 

Whoa, Cody, that's a lot to digest. Let's talk spring '10.Spring subsumes a lot of disparate references. There are kitschy, colorful prints, like over-scaled sperm and blowfish imagery on jackets, dresses and linings. I also got obsessed with statistical graphs and the work of meteorologist Ed Lorenz, who uncovered order in chaos and published some really beautiful mathematical images of the strange attractor.

The strange attractor?
It's an infinitely layered structure underpinning the chaos. I’ve incorporated the geometry into many of the silhouettes and prints for spring.

Mathematics aside, did you say sperm and blowfish? I take it you've got sex on the brain?
Well, I've been reading a lot of Nietzsche and Freud, so I guess it's my pulsating libido cascading onto the fabrics.

Very subtle. Moving on, who would you rather have dinner with, Ayn Rand or Martin Margiela?Ayn Rand. She’s a philosophical genius. It’s all about upholding the supreme value of the individual's life. The Romantic Manifesto still gets me worked up. Don’t get me wrong, I love Martin Margiela, too, but Rand is a quintessential bad-ass who revolutionized everything she touched!

Like some of your other icons—Grace Kelly, Amanda Lepore, Rainbow Brite—you're a blond. And it's natural. Has it proven an asset or a liability? In other words, do you have more fun or more work?
Dunno. I guess it’s been an asset. Being blond is pretty damn fun.

Speaking of hot blonds, tell us a bit about your recent collaboration with Norwegian artist Marianne Aulie.
Marianne and I are developing a capsule collection. She’s a really cool painter who produces a lot of abstract and surrealist works. She also does drip paintings of fractal dimensions on huge canvases. We're developing the styles now. We'll ultimately apply her prints to the clothes. Stay tuned.

Anyone you'd like to share clothes with?
Hot lesbians in my new mud-wrestling pit.

Seriously, you have a mud-wrestling pit?
Yeah, I just set one up next to my backyard jacuzzi.

Oct 21, 2009 00:00:00

Strap One On

It's been a long time since Howdy Doody (what an awful name that was, wow) jerked about his little black-and-white TV stage on human-operated strings, entertaining spellbound and rather unsophisticated children to no end. Nowadays children occupy themselves with Playstation, Wii and diabetes testers, so what better moment for Motoki Ito to bring back the marionette, the inspiration for the fall debut of his 1to3 line?

As the name 1to3 suggests, the manager of Seven New York with no formal design education has leapfrogged into the retail foray with his all-black, Druid-like men's and women's get-ups that you adjust by way of strings and straps. A pull here or there changes the length of a sleeve or a leg. Or, as they're also removable, you can tie a strap around your neck in a floppy bow or lop one on your shoulder in a kind of po-po-mo hot mess. Whatever you choose, you're your own puppet master.

Oct 18, 2009 00:00:00
José Castro

Madrid Fashion Week

Sandwiched, like bocadillo, between New York and Milan, Madrid Fashion Week feels a bit like sitting at the kiddie table at a family reunion, especially when the grown-ups of fashion are sitting front row at the London shows, happening at the same time. But this season was different: Madrid Fashion Week had reached its 50th edition, which meant the kids were on their best behavior. 

If you've wondered if the 80s will ever go away, José Castro thinks not. His collection—an ode to Michael Jackson, Grace Jones and greed-is-good excess—featured the trappings of the era: big shoulders, baggy pants, leopard print, neon, glitter, glam. All that was missing was a Nagel print and a mirrored coffee table.

By contrast, Amaya Arzuaga offered a subtler, more nuanced take. Like a fairy tale, her models floated by in lighter-than-air dresses adorned with puffs of sheer pleats, sculpted into cloud-like formations. I imagined these looks were for spouting charming architectural bons mots in MoMA's sculpture garden.

Like the beautiful ceramic tiles that decorate the haunts of old Madrid, Juanjo Oliva's use of rich and colorful graphic patterns—printed all over flirty dresses and high-waisted pants—were also pleasing to the eye.

Carlos Diez is, by any stretch, a freak. His show featured reconstructed long johns, military-like mesh, barber-shop-printed jumpsuits and shiny chemical-coated snake prints. Did I mention his models were in black face—or rather, tan face? And, dios mío, the music was 200bpm drum'n'bass soundtrack turned up full blast, with all of Madrid's club kids bopping along. It was an eye- and ear-opener, to say the least. 

Oct 16, 2009 00:00:00
Siv Støldal, photo L. Di Makawi

A Fjord to Be Reckoned With

A graduate of Central St Martins in 1999 with an MA in menswear, Siv Støldal has been showing her collections at London and Paris Fashion Weeks ever since, along the way collaborating with Fred Perry, Topman and Kickers. Add to that a nomination for a British Fashion Award and a win at the +46 Awards in Stockholm and you have one very ambitious Norwegian.

But Siv is also highly passionate about her work, making a point of embracing other artistic disciplines. She's collaborating with Guy Weizman and Norway's National Contemporary Dance Company on an experimental piece currently running at the Oslo Opera, while also working on Project White T-Shirt, a charity project launching this month with 33 other avant-garde designers from 15 countries.

I recently trekked to Norway to visit Siv and take a walk in the dreamlike landscape of Tyssøy, the village where she lives and works.

Jacy Varisha: Hey, Siv. So good to be here in your paradise. We first met a couple of years ago when you lived in London, which couldn't be further from this idyllic village. What's been the biggest difference?
The biggest difference is the scale of the fashion scene, of course. But there are some really good people here to collaborate with, so work-wise it has not been that different from London.

What's the best and worst thing about Tyssøy?
Tyssøy is amazing, beautiful, quiet, strong and green. The worst thing is that if [my husband] David has the car, I feel trapped!

There’s always something interesting happening around you. Tell us more about your contribution to Project White T-Shirt.
I made three T-shirts, one in classic white, one in ecru and one that's more of a polo shirt in navy, with silver snaps all around the edge. The snaps can be removed and the three shirts can be snapped together to make a tent. I made a short film about the process with [filmmaker] Bent Rene Synnevaag, [director] Alexey Layfurov and [model/actor] Daniel Karlsen. We shot it last weekend. It'll be shown in L.A later this month to benefit the charity Designers Against Aids.

If Siv Støldal were a musical composition, what would it sound like?
Hmmm, I love all the sounds you get in very strong wind. I also like the sound of clothes rubbing together, like denim trousers and nylon coats.

Do you have any catchphrases?
“Oh, come on!” I don’t know if this is a catchphrase but I do tend to say it all the time, when something is ridiculous.

What inspires you to create?
Random meetings and suddenly realizing how things are related. And stories about clothes from people who don't work in or follow fashion.

How important is fashion, really?
Fashion in its purest form expresses something very important.

When do you feel the most satisfied during the creative process?
I like the start of research, slowly discovering what the project will be while feeling the uncertainty of the unknown. But I guess I feel most satisfied when the main pieces of a collection are done and I can see exactly where I'm going. But then I really enjoy trusting the project to an artist, stylist, photographer, filmmaker or choreographer that will take it down a completely new road.

Nov 02, 2009 00:00:00
fall 09, ph Rémi Lamandé

Natalia Brilli

Skintight leather is one of fashion's perennial fetishes. Hell's Angels, Black Panthers, Marlon Brando, Peter Marino, Bettie Page and Dasha Zhukova's leatherette Lycra leggings are prime examples, but until recently it's been all about second-skin derrieres, not accessories so much. And then Natalia Brilli shows up. Imagine a world where everything you see and touch is covered in the thinnest layer of butter-soft, matte kid leather. Surface detail has been erased and what's left is an impression, a silhouette instantly recognizable but distant, shadowy and sexy. —Rebecca Voight

When she launched her eponymous accessories brand six years ago in Paris, Brilli was a set designer with a flair for the dramatic. Now, her wallet hinting at the credit cards and small change within, glasses pouch with a pair of frames in silhouette, fat "Nolex" wristwatch that never tells time and passport cover sporting a coat of arms from nowhere have become iconic pieces, which she refines season after season. Like a perfect pair of leather skinnies, Brilli's accessories reveal their contents without exposing a thing. And it's this now-you-see-it-now-you-don't game that has turned her into one of the hottest names in Paris.

As with most Parisian labels, Brilli's creativity comes with it impeccable craftsmanship. When she wanted to start her own collection while working on accessories for Olivier Theyskens at Rochas, her first thought was gainage, an upholstery technique of wrapping leather around an object. There might be a name for this in English, but peu importe because the French invented the technique and continue to excel at it—along with bookbinding, or reliure. The French have always liked to see people and objects wrapped tightly in leather. That figures, doesn't it? And it also figures, since handwork ateliers in France are now almost extinct, that Brilli, an Italian from Belgium, produces most of her collection in Italy, where savoir faire meets business as usual, and where the finest leather in the world can be found.

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May 31, 2009 00:00:00

Christopher Shannon

Sometimes fashion isn’t about clothes. Many designers think runway drama first, wearability second—or third, or fourth. But London-based men's designer Christopher Shannon is out to change all that, striking a balance between catwalk confection and strung-out street cred. Here, Shannon traces the improbable road that led from working-class roots in Liverpool to a scholarship at Central St Martins and stints with Kim Jones and Judy Blame—a long haul to becoming an overnight success story. —Kay Barron

When one thinks of Liverpool, images of football and music come to mind. Fashion isn't on the radar. How did you end up at Central St Martins? 
I hated school. I only went to college on Fridays for life drawing. I finished college at 18 and all I had was a big pile of life drawings and some textiles. One night my brother had a pair of Felix Blow trousers on at the pub, and later I met one of the designers in a club. Felix Blow was massive in Japan and stocked in really cool London shops. Around that time I heard about St Martins and I knew that I had to go. As a working-class kid, it was the only way I could see to get out of Liverpool.

Did you feel an instant affinity? 
Not after I got there. I had a total nervous breakdown. I hated everything. I was in a year of people who were really capable and older than me. I didn’t even know how to use a sewing machine, nor had I seen a pattern before. I hated it and still hate sitting at a sewing machine. But I got my shit together in the final year and pulled together a really good collection.

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Jul 08, 2009 00:00:00

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