That thing you've always wanted to do, tote around a fishbowl as an accessory, is now possible, thanks to the London designer Cassandra Verity Green, who's made quite the splash with her first collection since graduating from Central Saint Martins. Aptly called Neptune's Daughter, the range is based on the 1949 aqua-musical of the same name, starring the quasi-mermaid actress Esther Williams, as well as the designer's own grandmother, a 50s beauty queen. Hence the swimming caps, bright tights, and a bubbly insouciance.
While she brings a playful sense of avant-absurdism to the notion of luxury It bags, Verity Green is primarily a knit designer. So framing those eye-popping mobile fishbowls are her unique frizzy style of knit, incorporating coral-colored or transparent threads and crystal beading to create biomorphic shapes and prickly textures resembling undulating underwater sea anemones — not unlike the Internet phenomenon Seapunk. The result is a vibrant, slightly retro look that serves as both the bait and the catch.
Like Scarlett Johansson's emotionless alien character in Under the Skin, Melitta Baumeister's silicone pieces resembling leather, cotton, and knit — "casted garments," she calls them — imply an authenticity that their molecular sophistication can't give them. While they are made in recognizable shapes — a tank top, a dress, a biker jacket — their rubbery tactility and harsh, clinical shades of black and white give them away. The notion of going to extremes to perfect what has already been perfected is at once mesmerizing and mind-boggling.
“I consider what is fake and what is real," says the German-born, Parsons-taught, New York-based designer — who, at the upcoming spring 2015 shows, will present only her third collection since earning her MFA from Parsons. "And I consider the loss of tangibility and the importance of experience," by which she means she's playing to an online audience as much as an in-the-flesh audience. “I find advanced technology that is able to replace or simulate reality extremely interesting. What else could be in store in tomorrow’s world?"
Melitta Baumeister is available at Dover Street Market New York
VAVA sunglasses may be new (as in one month old), but the concept is so totally, so squarely from another era — the 80s. In particular, the unisex label looks to techno music of the era, an optimistic new sound that emerged from once-glistening, now-blighted cities like Detroit. Those contrasting extremes, promise and disillusionment, inform VAVA's two lines: the White Label draws from simplicity and purity, while the Black Label looks to darkness and the underground.
For Portuguese-born, Berlin-based designer Pedro da Silva, this sense of idealism isn't just conceptual; it's practical, too. The frames are created with cellulose acetate from Mazzucchelli, artisans of acetate since 1849, and the lenses are made from Barberini crystals. The flatness of the two lenses again harks back to the 80s and its preoccupation with computer graphics, while the cubed hinge, exclusive to VAVA, is influenced by the artist Sol Lewitt and his penchant for bold shapes.
With its inviting name, Come for Breakfast's spring 15 men's collection is a welcome feast for the eyes — a sweet and savory blend of childlike insouciance with more adult themes and silhouettes.
Launched four years ago in Milan, Come for Breakfast is both a women's and men's line, though the men's side seems to be gaining more traction. For spring, designers Antonio Romano and Francesco Alagna were inspired, they said, by "scribbles, the pages of an old diary, the curious staring of children and their way of portraying the world around them." Thus, the duo looked to the wee years with playful, oversized volumes and paper-placemat drawings, but using sequins and leather for a collection fit for both daytime alertness and nighttime cocktails.
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You might not guess it from the following eight words, but Oslo-based Australian men's designer Kevin Azzopardi is something of a purist, some might say control freak. No fan of the current means of production, he isn't comfortable with the idea of sending designs off to a factory and getting the finished product some time later, as if by magic — someone else's magic.
He recently completed a trilogy of collections that explored the manufacturing process and the notion of creative control. He had his men's pieces sent back from the factory in an unfinished state, which he and his team then completed. In so doing, Azzopardi reassumes responsibility and authorship of his garments.
For spring 2013, Azzopardi skipped the runways and tradeshows, instead meeting with buyers personally in their retail space. But rather than present the collection awkwardly from a suitcase, Azzopardi collaborated with Norwegian furniture designer Mads H Pålsrud on what he calls a Mobile Sales Unit, a wooden contraption wrapped in latex that folds out into a mini-stand. "A moment of pop-up bliss," he says.
Here it is in a film made with Icelandic artist Erna Einarsdóttir...
For fall 2013, Azzopardi made another radical departure. Rather than design a collection of garments, he focused on shoes — only shoes. He created exactly two laces-heavy styles, a high-top and a regular low-top, made by the same manufacturers who produce sneakers for Lanvin and Balenciaga. Who says conceptualism is dead?
Midway into the three-hour-long graduation show that ended the year at Brussels' renowned La Cambre fashion school, a young woman stoically stood in the middle of the runway while each of her fellow models fiercely ripped a piece of her Louis Gabriel Nouchi attire off. She herself removed the last piece of clothing covering her privates. A pause followed, fittingly, and the sweaty audience rushed outside for a drink.
"Hot" had actually been a buzzword long before that rough striptease, and not only because of the scorching heat in the venue, Schaarbeek Halles. The show's catalog, shot by Emmanuel Laurent, reproduced Steven Meisel's iconic 1990's CK One campaign, which itself reprised Richard Avedon's legendary pictures of Andy Warhol's Factory superstars. Like Avedon, Laurent photographed full-frontal nudity, and it's safe to say the brown-haired stud stole the show. Kinkiness was also prominent in Fabien Verriest's portion of the show, who came up with what can only be described as "power-bottom pants," trousers constructed to bare the male derrière.
Aside from these shock tactics, the show didn't exactly break new ground, as one could have expected from an institution that counts Olivier Theyskens as an alumnus. Some of the looks seemed a bit derivative (of Comme des Garçons) and the stagy choreography sometimes did the show a disservice. But there were some nice moments, like strips of flowery fabrics at Eddy Anemian, fur trapped in plastic at Julian Klausner, and nice houndstooth pants at Naomi Coureau. I also noticed particularly inventive accessories, like Alexandra Kengen's sneakers, Delphine Baverel's leis worn as leg warmers, Verriest's noisy wooden sandals or Samantha Cazenave's sparkly sneakers.
The Italian jewelry label Loha Vete launched its luxury Heist collection in 2012. Picked up by Moda Operandi and included in the Met's Punk show, Heist is made from reclaimed gold and silver, culled from police seizures around the world rather than newly mined metals. Spoils from Rio to Rome, "Rolexes in Manhattan to silverware in Mayfair," are melted down in Loha Vete's atelier in Italy and stored as bullion bricks before being recast as bleeding-edge pieces of jewelry, some of which apparently can be used as ashtrays. "From crime to the sublime," they say, to which we might add, "From punks to punk."
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Men's designer Thomas Van der Jeught left the minuscule (but not non-existent) fashion community of Antwerp for the even more minuscule fashion community of Vienna. Because, when you're a graduate of the Royal Academy of Art, the kind of school that encourages risk-taking, that's what one does. In the Austrian capital, he joined the design team of Fabrics Interseason before a stint in London working for the men's label Blaak before a quick return to Vienna.
Van der Jeught's collections are an exercise in fabric manipulation — strong, canvas-like pieces coexist with deconstructed, frail ones. Burning and singeing are techniques that factor prominently in his spring collection. As inspirations, he cites the seemingly irreconcilable artists Marina Abramović and Serge Lutens for their emotional and graphical weightiness, respectively. Intrigued, we wanted to know more...
How would you describe your line to your best friend?
A collection for an individualist, someone who knows how he wants to look.
How would you describe your line to a potential buyer?
My collection combines strong and elegant aspects with great caution. Therefore, the design is a mixture that contains experimental, canvas-like pieces that coexist with deconstructed, minimalistic ones. I see my work as a changing continuation.
When and why did you decide to become a fashion designer?
Around the age of 19. I liked the expression of fashion and it is very direct. It doesn't stay a concept, but becomes reality. It comes alive.
I lived in London, which I love a lot, but i saw the possibility of doing my own collection in Vienna, where I love the architecture, culture, nature, and all my friends here. As time changes, so can the city a live in.
Can you tell us a bit more about finding inspiration in Marina Abramovic? Have you met her?
It started with going to an exhibition of hers at the Galerie Krinzinger in Vienna called WITH EYES CLOSED I SEE HAPPINESS. She was also there and talked about art. I felt very related to her work, spiritually and aesthetically.
How does aggression factor into your collections?
Aggression is a statement, a way of interactive communication more than a form of active destruction. As my design aims to enhance the intimate relationship between skin and garments, aggression is displayed by the shapes, the particular forms of the garments. The shapes show a certain rawness by being industrial, burned, edgy or stiff. It's also the way I felt or feel about the fashion industry.
Since you mention it, please explain the burning.
I made the pieces perfect first. I search for the right proportion and shape using quality fabrics, then I burn them. The burning I did because you can barely control it. It shows reality.
Have you been told your pieces look post-apocalyptic?
Not yet. If so, maybe it's symbolic of an evolution or a new beginning in my work.
Does the man who buys your clothes want to grab attention or be left alone?
None of both.
Last Friday, the opening night of Berlin Gallery Weekend, the German label Closed (founded in 1978), presented its first capsule collection with new creative director Kostas Murkudis. The former first design assistant of Helmut Lang, Murkudis looked to the lifestyle of the nomad generation, specifically the free spirits who've chosen untethered lives and jobs for themselves.
A frequent traveler himself, Murkudis picked a favorite piece of clothing from his own closet—vintage aviator overalls—as the starting point for the collection, SKYWALK. The ensuing unisex pieces are small enough to fit into a single bag, but able to cover the basic needs of a wardrobe on the go. By playing with deconstruction and reconstruction, Murkudis replicated the cut and details of the overalls into a shirt, a jacket, and pants, as well as sweatshirts, a trenchcoat and two tees—all made in Italy of the finest materials.
For the launch event in Berlin, Murkudis invited his friend and longtime collaborator, the artist Carsten Nicolai, to create an art film. Called future past perfect pt. 04 (stratus), the video documents Nicolai's ongoing interest in cloud formations with footage he's filmed over the last 12 years, a fitting complement to the transient nature of Murkudis' debut for Closed.