Ground Zero, fall 10

Look Book Look: Ground Zero

London-based Ground Zero is minding the gap between slogan tees and ready-to-wear. Launched in Hong Kong by brothers and graphic artists Eri and Philip Chu, the cheeky label is all about post-ironic playfulness. In their own words: "The decay of wealth doesn't stop us from enjoying life and fashion." Nor does it stop them from collaborating with other designers, including South Korea's Juun J. It's looking up for Ground Zero.

May 01, 2010 00:00:00
Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair

If Vivienne Westwood and Rei Kawakubo Swapped Half Their Wardrobes

Swedish label Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair slays us again, this time with their fall collection, a Burton-esque hybrid of traditional British and Japanese dress, with a little sportswear mixed in. A leather corset is distorted into a kimono bow as it swirls around the body, pinstriped shirting is cocooned within shredded cable-knit, argyle sleeves extend to the knee and beyond, while plaids are layered into enormous shapes. If Vivienne Westwood and Rei Kawakubo swapped half their wardrobes, this is what it would look like. 

Apr 28, 2010 00:00:00
Mandy Coon, fall 10

New Designer Alert

Label: Mandy Coon

Based in: New York

Provenance: used to be a model, apprenticed for Camilla Staerk, was a member of the all-girl electroclash band W.I.T. Also DJ'd at Le Baron in Tokyo and Colette in Paris.

The Takeaway: Mandy worked mostly in blacks, nudes, faux pony hair and long Chanel-like chains wrapped in fabric for fall.

Amazing: because, inspired by Bernhard Willhelm, she made a floppy-eared leather purse in the shape of the Velveteen Rabbit, which has become a kind of mascot for the label.

Also Amazing: because she got Jamie Bochert to model for her look book.

Apr 25, 2010 00:00:00
Noritaka Tatehana

What Happens When Lady Gaga Wears Your Shoes on Television?

“I need to go out and buy more material,” said, understatedly, Japanese designer Noritaka Tatehana, who was already planning to hit Asakusa, the Tokyo neighborhood known for its leather. A few days earlier, the hysteria-inducing pop star appeared on Japanese TV in a pair of Tatehana’s vertiginous platforms, taking the young cobbler from obscurity to prodigy with one three-minute clip.

That the 25-year-old would seem unprepared for the barrage of orders is endearing. “My shoes aren’t really for everyday wear, so I don’t get orders from ordinary people,” he explained. Lady Gaga’s stylists discovered Tatehana after combing Tokyo’s back-alley boutiques, resulting in a get-up that also included Yuima Nakazato, Somarta and Balmung.

Tatehana recently graduated from the Tokyo National University of Arts, where he studied traditional Japanese dyeing and weaving techniques. His first collection included a pair of stunning “geta” sandals in embossed leather hand-painted by the designer. Working from his studio in Kamakura (a former medieval capital, now a creative coastal outpost an hour from Tokyo), Tatehana custom-makes all of his fanciful creations by hand, down to the stitching. He designs, he says, for those “who have a high regard for individuality.”

Apr 24, 2010 00:00:00
Capara, fall 10

New Designer Alert


Designers: Vera and Olivera Capara (sisters)

Based in: Antwerp, Belgium

Provenance: assisted Dries Van Noten after graduating from the Royal Academy, then, in 2003, headed to Paris to work with Martin Margiela and develop his artisanal line.

Amazing: because, after they split up to design for Jil Sander and Delvaux following their stint at Margiela, the Sarajevo-born duo still embodies his unique vision in their own line, launched last year. He may have departed the maison, but the diaspora continues.

Also amazing: because, when it comes to showing their collections in Paris, they believe in pushing the boundaries, which means no old-fashioned runway shows, just videos and installations. Controlling? A bit, but at least they let their pictures be taken.

Apr 11, 2010 00:00:00
Calla, fall '10

New Designer Alert

Label: Calla

Designer: Calla Haynes

Based in: France

Provenance: worked with Olivier Theyskens at Rochas and Nina Ricci

Amazing: for sourcing her fabrics (Ikat, cashmere, moiré silk) from all over the word—not just Italy, but Japan and even Uzbekistan

Our Favorite Piece: a ten-layer detachable skirt in feather-print chiffon

Apr 03, 2010 00:00:00
Raphael Young, fall '10

Raphael Young

One of our fave avant-cobblers, Raphael Young, was in town from Paris last week to take in a little inspiration New Yorkaise. Over brunch, we caught up with the Seoul-born, onetime Yves Saint Laurent shoemaker (whose uncle, Alexandre Narcy, was the celebrated four-decade-long shoe designer for Monsieur) to discuss his own sublime fall collection.

Raphael's footwear—bold, quasi-futuristic and painfully beautiful—has always channeled equal parts high-fashion and architectural rigor. But this time around, he says the collection is more "couture" and less rock-and-roll, with its visual elements playing second fiddle to craftsmanship. "Most designers draw and then construct the shoe," he explains. "I sketch, build the shoe, and then take it apart again to create something new. Shoes are alive, nourished through material research and technological innovation."

When he isn't obsessing over deconstruction or reading the 19th-century poetry of Verlaine, Raphael has his hands full with any number of other projects. Following the creation of a custom Aston Martin for a French racing team (bespoke car shoe to follow), Raphael collaborated with Le Tanneur on a three-piece collection of robo-sexy bags for spring. Meanwhile, for the last six years, he's been working on a book. "It's about my life," he told us, "and fashion, and philosophy." Bien sûr.

Raphael Young is available in New York at Seven, in Los Angeles at Fred Segal Feet, in Paris at L'Eclaireur, in Antwerp at RA.

Apr 01, 2010 00:00:00
Alberto Marani, spring '10

Alberto Marani

If, as they say, behind every great man is a great woman, then behind every great designer is another great designer. Word in Paris is that Alberto Marani, the Italian-born secret weapon behind three of La Roitfeld’s favored brands, could be next in line for a major house—never mind that he already designs his own label. While we're sworn to secrecy about his talks, here are some nuggets you can take away...

You were the late Gianfranco Ferré’s assistant at Christian Dior Haute Couture in the 90s. Did he teach you anything that you’ve never forgotten?
Ferré showed me that fashion is real work, not some sort of joke. He showed me how to build dreams into reality.

What's the biggest difference between consulting for three well-known fashion labels and designing your own label?
It’s very interesting consulting with other people—all the different energies. It’s hard and exhausting, but very enriching.

Do you tell them when you think their inspirations are terrible?
If there’s something I don’t like I say it in a nice way. The reason a designer hires me is to give my opinion, not just nod my head and say everything is great.

What’s the best and worst thing about the fashion business?
The thing that I like the most is that every six months you’re creating something new. The worst thing is that I’m married to it. When you’re married to your work, it’s hard to be married to a person.

Architecture is in your DNA. You studied it in Italy and your father worked with Le Corbusier. Will you ever design buildings? Marani hotels, perhaps?
No Marani hotels, but I think one day I will go back to my roots and perhaps design a house.

Let's talk about your line. Who's the Marani girl?
She's a 24/7 kind of girl. I can’t say every girl can be a Marani girl. It’s something in the attitude. She’s between androgyny and femininity, simplicity and complexity. The woman that I like isn’t covered in jewels, but she’s wearing them.

Marani is a perfect anagram of Armani. Will you start showing football players in bulging men’s underwear?
Men’s collections, for sure. So far, the Marani guy is more a fantasy. I need to work on who he is. But to be honest, I don’t know about the football players. 

Mar 14, 2010 00:00:00
Deryck Walker's studio in Glasgow

Deryck Walker

London designers seem to come and go faster than a hustler in a hurry. Wham, bam, thanks, man. But exactly where do these rising stars go? In the case of Deryck Walker, back home to Scotland, at the very moment his men's label was morphing from edgy street to statement suit. (There's a difference.) Good move, too, because as he told me on a recent trip to the city (via the fine and generous folks at VisitBritain), he couldn't be happier...

Let's start with the basics. You're Glaswegian?
Well, I moved from here when I was 19, then went to London, then came back in between, then finally returned to Glasgow two years ago.

Why London? Saints Martins?
No. I kept meaning to apply, but every time I went to fill out the forms I got distracted. Someone would need help with a collection. I was assisting Boudicca and Robert Cary-Williams. Before I knew it, I was working in Italy.

Was that Versace?
Yeah, that happened through my mate Andrew Davis from Arena. It was dream come true to be 20 years old and working in menswear at Versace. But it lasted just under a year. There came a point when I realized it wasn't for me.

Your big break came later?
Around five years ago I did an all-black collection. Andrew came back in my life and arranged a meeting with Adrian Joffe of Comme des Garçons. He loved the collection and bought all of it for the shop [Dover Street Market]. We were there for four seasons, but…

There are so many labels in London. You're in a massive pool and there'll always be the favorites. Already there's a new generation of men's designers. Two years ago I decided to remove myself and come back to Glasgow. Here I can have a comfortable shop and studio.

So let's have a little tour.
Okay, well, this is my comfortable shop and studio. We also run a made-to-measure service out of here.

We have great incentives from the government to work with local mills and weavers. It's great to finally realize what's been going on here in Scotland, in terms of cloth. It changed everything for me. I used to work in jersey, but now I have tailors on the level of Savile Row.

What's this little number?
It's knitwear from John Smedley, which has a really famous mill in Britain. It's the finest-gauge knit you can get. The pattern of holes we added is based on sheet music from wind-up pianos.

Love. Where did the idea come from?
I found the sheet music and thought it would be cute as knitwear. Guys love something different, but not taken too far.

And this jacket?
I've done a couple of things like this for Harris Tweed. People think tweed is really rough and jaggy, but it can also be really soft. Over here we have a diamond pattern made with a mix of tweed and mohair.

Tweed is like a little miracle.
It's a national treasure, and it's protected. It can only be made on the islands. You can't make it in China. Or you could, but it wouldn't have the name Harris Tweed, and it wouldn't have the mark and number in the lining, which makes each piece unique.

What about this skimpy chain-mail piece? Tell me it's for women.
Definitely. I did women's for two seasons. It's made from joiner's biscuits, or wood chips that carpenters use. They come in white and we dye them different colors.

Speaking of biscuits, I heard you used to be a waiter at Bistrotheque.
I've done my time. Those were difficult years, working at a restaurant then working at the studio and setting up a label. I was one of Mandi Lennard's designers, along with Gareth [Pugh] and Roksanda [Ilincic]. She repped me the first two years and got me into Man [fashion show], but eventually I ran out of money.

Who do you keep in touch with in London?
Loads. Judy Blame will phone me up and want to use some of my tweeds. Last season he did a shoot with Juergen Teller for Arena Homme +. (Shows me the issue.) This is him wearing one of my tweeds. It was too small but he squeezed into it anyway.

You don't miss London?
Not really. We were always on the verge of being evicted and panicking all the time. I teach at a college here and I always tell the kids to really research what they want to do. They just see all the glamour of fashion. I say look at all the other stuff, don't just look at the golden child.

Are we talking about Christopher Kane?
Yes. His kind of success is rare. It's funny because Glasgow is a nouveau riche city and there used to be a Versace boutique here. It was one of the most successful Versace shops in Europe. Chris and his sister Tammy grew up with that. But anyway, I say to my kids they should be realistic.

If you were asked to head a big label, would you do it?
People ask me that all the time. I wouldn't want to go near the big couture labels. They don't interest me. There are some British labels that could use a designer. But I could never give up what I have here.

What's the most amazing thing that's happened to you recently?
The other day we got a beautiful envelope from the Queen, inviting us to a fashion reception at Buckingham Palace.

Po-o-o-osh! You've arrived.
Yeah, right! 

Feb 24, 2010 00:00:00

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