March '06
Hint pays attention to retail


In the last couple of years, Karl Lagerfeld has become a de facto rock star, with die-hard fans going berserk at the chance to catch a live appearance of the gloved maestro. Now, not unlike a music act who leaks a track on the internet before a record release, the white-haired, white-hot designer is throwing his followers a bone by offering a capsule collection for spring, one season before the official launch. The teaser sampler, available exclusively at Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, is inspired by the energy of New York, pop culture and music, and gives a taste of what to expect in six months: fitted street-smart sportswear reminiscent of the svelte Kaiser's own wardrobe, with razor-sharp blazers, lots of black, metallic accents, skinny denim and T-shirts printed with photos of Lagerfeld from days of yore. It's enough to tide the acolytes over until fall. -Suleman Anaya
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This spring, let your fun in the sun include shades by Jeremy Scott and Bernhard Willhelm, produced by Linda Farrow Vintage. For his part, Scott adds his autograph logo to the sides and, in the Caesar style, golden laurel leaves (pictured above). Meanwhile, Willhelm's sunglasses are so bright you'll need to wear, er, shades. His fluoro-fabulous plastic frames come with handy detachable visors in pink, yellow or white. In Paris at Maria Luisa, 8 rue du Mont Thabor, 75001, +33 1 42 96 47 81...The Bs have it: Belgians at Barneys in Boston. That's right, since earlier this month, Beantowners have no longer had to hoof it to New York for a piece of Ann Demeulemeester, Martin Margiela, Raf Simons or Veronique Branquinho—or, for that matter, the majority of the non-Belgian labels sold in the New York mother ship. They now have their very own Barneys New York in the Mall at Chestnut Hill, 199 Boylston St., 617-969-5354...adidas and Stella McCartney continue their sports collaboration with the launch of their third joint collection, now hitting adidas stores worldwide. New for spring are tennis shoes, apparel and accessories. Ace!...Similar to its collaboration with Jeffrey not long ago, Diesel has embarked on a one-time partnership with another retailer, 10 Corso Como, to create limited-edition men's and women's jeans—untreated and unmarked save for a large "10" on the back pocket. The two Italian companies have produced only 400 pairs, which, at $237, are quickly selling out at the store's two locations, in Milan and Tokyo...Hedi Slimane practically becomes English this spring with the arrival at Dior Homme boutiques of pendants, rings and pins in the shape of Union Jacks, musical notes and Ska-era scooters, themes which carry through to his new pool—yes, pool—range of towels, flip-flops and itty bitty trunks. Look for still more new DH products in June, when Slimane unveils a new skincare line during the men's spring '07 collections...Filling the GAP with substance this spring is Bono with his new Project Red range of African-made T-shirts, from which 50% of the proceeds go to the AIDS charity Global Fund. But this is no one-chain wonder. Additional Project Red products include special-edition sneakers by Giles Deacon for Converse, an American Express Red card, and an exclusive range of sunglasses by Giorgio Armani. Check out Joinred.com for more info.
From the many nude portraits Wolfgang Tillmans took of him in the early '90s, Lutz Huelle was a familiar face, among other things, before anyone knew he could design clothes. But trading in skin for fabric, the German exhibitionist completed his fashion studies at Central Saint Martins in the mid 90s and landed an internship at Martin Margiela's Paris atelier, eventually becoming the designer's knitwear assistant for three years. In 2000, Huelle debuted Lutz, his deconstructionist Paris-based women's line, and has delivered intentionally slouchy and threadbare pieces ever since. Inspiration for the spring '06 collection came to him, he says, "while listening to Deep Purple, Kraftwerk and Shirley Bassey one afternoon. It hit me that this would be my absolute favorite triple bill. The clothes fell into place after that: the weird rock-chick look of the first part, the androgynous pieces in black and red for Kraftwerk, and the dresses with gold leaf for Goldfinger." The show's finale featured a drag queen belting out that most famous of Bassey's songs, accompanied by three models playing air guitar. Dig for gold ($180 for knits to $1450 for trenches) at L'Eclaireur in Paris, Bergdorf Goodman and Opening Ceremony in New York and South Willard in Los Angeles.

Anyone mourning the (hopefully short) hiatus of Helmut Lang can take some solace in the pared-down designs of Christoph Froehlich, whose graduate collection from Antwerp's Royal Academy of Fine Arts won the Diesel Award at the 4th annual International Talent Support (ITS) competition in Trieste, Italy last fall. While the headlining cash prizes went to Denmark's Marcus Lereng Wilmont and Israel's Eli Effenberger, the Diesel Award earned the German-born Froehlich the chance to have his spring capsule hang on the racks of Diesel stores everywhere. The five-piece high-low range includes a black zipper tux jacket, a graphic tee and a white hooded sweatshirt, each with details such as double collars that call to mind the master of minimalism. Snap up Froehlich's work now, before he, too, slips between our fingers. Visit Diesel for store locations. -Stephen Morriss
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Click here for an animated homage to Undercover's spring collection by Polish illustrator Przemek Sobocki, who describes the drawings as "daydreaming about your dark side, or a romantic nightmare." Interested in how the clothes can be worn on top of each other, he wanted to present the images melding together. "The collection also contains words like Klaus or the Amazing Tales of Zamiang," he says, referring to designer Jun Takahashi's cryptic nod to mythical German rock groups of the '70s. "I, too, am fascinated by using words for an extra message. Words for me are often the hidden thoughts or secrets of the characters I draw." Undercover is available at Dover Street Market in London, colette in Paris and, in New York, at Barneys New York and Atelier (men's).

There's no shortage of designer sportswear lines fighting for attention today, but when the legendary Norma Kamali—the queen of swimwear and the multi-functional garment, who gained fame in the '80s—teamed up with gym and boxing-wear behemoth Everlast, a collaboration with serious punch was born. The extensive Norma Kamali Everlast debut spring collection takes '80's dance-class staples and a '90's aerobics aesthetic as its basis—skirts, leggings and sweats—and combines it with showier choices such as terrycloth puff sleeves, metallic fabrics, angled berets and wide elasticized belts. Clothing as knock-out (pardon the pun) as this will undoubtedly find popularity outside the gym, but given the hearty work-outs you're likely to have, we just hope the silver jumpsuit you wore is of the stainless variety. -Stephen Morriss
Despite having a name like a 14th Street wig shop, Kosmetique is more high-tailoring than high camp. Designed by Kanya Miki, 31, a graduate of the Royal Academy of Antwerp and a former assistant to John Galliano and Walter van Beirendonck, the one-year old men's line is a delicious jumble of sartorial conceits, starting with the name. "When we think of dress-up, sometimes cosmetics are more significant than the clothes themselves," says the Japanese native now living in Paris. "For example, in some African regions a tattoo is more important than dress." Blending concepts still further, Miki stresses that the jacket-centric men's line—a mash-up of narrow Euro-style tailoring and feminine details—can also be worn by women, explaining, "I create unisex-style clothes." Pull your hair out at Isetan and Midwest (located at Jinnan 1-6-1, 4th floor, Shibuya ku) in Tokyo, and Shine in Hong Kong.

Japanese designer Shinsaku Maehama believes in that fashion chestnut: what's old is new again. Except he's talking really old. In Jewish folklore, Golem—the name of Maehama's women's and men's line—describes the raw materials used to created man. Fitting, then, that his garments are handsewn from faded materials collected from flea markets and antique shops around Paris, where he's based. A graduate of the Bunka Fashion University of Tokyo, Maehama started his career as an assistant to Kenzo Takada in 2002, where he designed uniforms for the Japanese Olympic Team, before branching out on his own just two years later. For spring, Maehama has reincarnated more decayed cottons and laces in dusty off-whites, browns and blacks, which, along with his specialty, wonky waistcoats, are available at Boutique W (5-39-3 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, +81 3 5778 3433) and Isetan in Tokyo, and Shimji in Paris (7 rue du Perche, 75003, +33 (0) 1 42 72 10 01). -Erica Crompton