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.
When they met as interns at Alexander McQueen, Agape Mdumulla and Sam Cotton couldn't have known that they would soon join forces and strike out on their own as the dandyish men's label Agi & Sam. Five years later, this past February, they brought the house down when they showed their fall '13 collection as part of MAN, the group show and sponsorship platform created between Topman and Fashion East. They had a trick up their sleeve, sending a basset hound down the runway in a whimsical nod to hunting and other traditionally British men's pursuits.
Humor is the duo's calling card, seen in elaborate prints and patterns that are not as they first appear. Look closely and you may spot a camel, a pheasant, a fox, or a dog among the busy plaids and paisleys. Calling to mind other English men's designers, most notably Paul Smith, the house that Agi & Sam built goes to show that not every cutting-edge London label is fashioned out of balloons, safety pins, or bits of driftwood.
Agi & Sam's fall '13 collection will be carried by oki-ni.
As everyone knows, A.P.C. is the place to go for sharp, seasonless basics with a touch of French Je ne sais quoi. Now the label is offering a little more luxe with its new Louis W. line. Fresh for fall, the capsule collection consists of three timeless leather jackets—motorcycle, aviator, police—tricked out in a soft deerskin usually reserved for gloves and infused with old-school French crime-thriller cred.
Hint talked to designer Louis Wong—a seven-year veteran of the brand who cut his teeth at Louis Vuitton—about his modern tweak on a French classic...
Tell us how the Louis W. line got started.
Basically, [A.P.C. founder] Jean Touitou offered me a chance to do a small capsule collection. The idea was to do something different from A.P.C., something a bit more luxury and with a specific concept, which refers to ‘70s French movies. It's really about bad boys, with the cop and the bad guy both wearing a leather jacket. All the detailing, all the references are related to movies. Like this type of quilt lining, the color of quilt, even the zipper—it’s all really specific to proper leather gear.
Any French films or actors in particular?
Like Gérard Depardieu in the ‘70s. He used to do a lot of movies where it’s all about Paris, actually a Paris that’s grittier and more dangerous than now. Usually it’s really beautiful, and all these young French actors were starting out and they all look really rough. That’s the look I bring to the collection. The next collection will be more related to American movies and the leatherwear in them.
Where did the idea come from?
I think I got the idea because in my neighborhood in Paris, the Marais, there are these young kids who dress like their dads. They wear, like, tight jeans but with a big leather jacket, like a really retro leather jacket. They are really young, and it’s a really funny look, you know?
This collection is under your name, but it’s part of A.P.C. What does it take from A.P.C.?
I developed a concept that’s more related to a specific man, whereas A.P.C. is more this abstract concept of clothing that can fit many people. That’s why I do the pictures. I work on specific images separately from A.P.C.
Yes, the fashion film looks great...
The movie was to push the idea of French cinema, so we worked with my friends on a concept about typical French movies. I find that brands that do short movies, sometimes it’s just visual. I think it’s really interesting to say something too. Not in a pretentious way, but I just think it’s good to have a proper story to tell, not just visual effects. That was the idea anyway. It’s about two guys of different ages wearing the same jacket. It’s a bit ambiguous.
Where do you want to take Louis W.?
It really depends on how people respond to it. So far it’s been really good, considering that they're expensive pieces. I want to keep it really tight. I just finished the third collection [fall 2013], which is only seven pieces.
Do you have specific influences in mind for future collections?
It’s always a bit thematic, but it’s mostly the story of leatherwear. Maybe it will change at some point, if I get bored, but it’s only the third collection. Already the second one is more about clichés than this one. Everybody does leather, but it’s always inside a fashion show and it’s just a piece or two. I think it deserves a proper story. Also, I think it’s really hard to find a good leather jacket. I mean, except if you go to Hermès. [Laughs]
Or now at A.P.C.
Visit Louis W. on A.P.C.