nov. 242017

i-D – 24 Novembre 2017


jil sander, grande prêtresse du minimalisme, s’expose pour la première fois

Sophie Abriat

Une nouvelle exposition célèbre les 40 ans de mode de celle que l’on surnommait dans les années 90 « The Queen of clean ». Le directeur artistique Marc Ascoli et l’illustrateur sonore Frédéric Sanchez qui ont travaillé à ses côtés racontent l’exposition.

Vidéos des défilés, vêtements, photographies de mode, campagnes de pub, parfums et cosmétiques, bande-son signé Frédéric Sanchez, salle dédiée à l’architecture des boutiques : l’exposition est une immersion totale dans l’univers de Jil Sander. A cela s’ajoute même un jardin (de l’artiste Norbert Schoerner) réalisé à partir de paysages filmés par des drones depuis une propriété du nord de l’Allemagne, à Plöner See, où la créatrice a l’habitude de se ressourcer. Une section est également réservée aux liens entre la styliste et l’art contemporain (notamment à travers le mouvement « Arte Povera » représenté entre autres par les artistes Mario Merz and Alighiero e Boetti). Très tôt, la créatrice a collectionné des œuvres de Robert Ryman, Cy Twombly, Ad Reinhardtouou encore Mario Merz (avec qui elle a d’ailleurs collaboré dans le cadre de la Biennale de Florence « Looking at Fashion » en 1996). C’est le Musée des arts appliqués de Francfort, un bâtiment construit en 1984 et dessiné par l’architecte New-Yorkais Richard Meier qui abrite cette rétrospective. Il fallait bien une exposition d’une telle ampleur pour cette adepte du minimalisme qui a transformé notre façon de nous habiller.

Le curating – élaboré par la créatrice elle-même et Matthias Wagner K, directeur du Musée – recrée l’expérience Jil Sander. Cette dernière ne souhaitait pas une simple juxtaposition de silhouettes, déconnectées de leur contexte, sinon une expérience totale. Les deux partenaires ont travaillé pendant 18 mois à l’élaboration de cette exposition. Pour l’occasion, la styliste s’est replongée pour la première fois dans ses archives. Elle a demandé à Frédéric Sanchez – auteur des bandes-son de ses défilés depuis le début des années 1990 – de créer l’environnement sonore de l’exposition. « J’ai travaillé sur l’idée du déplacement du son à travers 10 programmations informatiques. Quand on se déplace, les sons évoluent – comme un nuage du son ou un parfum du son. Une forme d’architecture dans l’architecture, indique l’illustrateur sonore. Ensemble, nous avons pensé le son comme une enveloppe protectrice, une coque, qui accompagnerait les visiteurs. Comme quelque chose de tactile aussi. Cette exposition est une expérience sensorielle, une vraie expérience de mode : tous les sens sont mis à contribution. Je suis très touché que Jil m’ait donné cette opportunité car c’est rare de pouvoir aller ainsi jusqu’au bout des choses ».

Des photos signées par les plus grands photographes de mode avec qui la créatrice a collaboré – Irving Penn, Peter Lindbergh, Nick Knight, Craig McDean, David Sims, Mario Sorrenti ou encore Jean-François Lepage – sont projetées sur les murs d’une salle immense. A la direction artistique de ces campagnes de pub : Marc Ascoli qui a travaillé pour Jil Sander pendant 12 ans à partir du début des années 1990. « C’était très émouvant de découvrir l’exposition et de revoir pour l’occasion l’équipe de Jil de l’époque. C’est une personnalité charismatique, qui met beaucoup d’intensité dans son travail. Il y a peu de femmes dans le secteur de la mode qui ont eu l’ambition de créer un tel univers. Cette exposition est une consécration de son travail », indique le directeur artistique. Dans l’exposition, les imagées créées par Marc Ascoli sont célébrées (on note la présence de quelques clichés jusqu’ici jamais dévoilés) : des images influentes et intemporelles. On pense entre autres à ces deux campagnes de pub (devenues aujourd’hui des posts classiques sur Instagram et Pinterest, indicateur de leur popularité !) : celle photographiée par Craig McDean avec Amber Valletta (automne-hiver 95-96) et celle shootée par David Sims avec Angela Lindvall (automne-hiver 97-98). « Ces images fonctionnent parce qu’elles sont réelles et incarnées. Ce sont justement cette émotion et cette incarnation qui sont recherchées aujourd’hui », souligne Marc Ascoli.

C’est en 1973 en Allemagne que la styliste lance sa première collection. Elle la présente dans la boutique qu’elle a ouverte cinq ans plus tôt à Hambourg. Coupes nettes, tissus de qualité (Jil Sander a suivi des études d’ingénieur textile), monochromes : la patte de celle que l’on surnommera dans les années 1990 « The Queen of clean » pour la précision et la pureté de son design est déjà là. En 1979, elle développe sa ligne de parfums ; « Woman Pure » et « Man Pure » deviendront des classiques. La créatrice invente un nouveau langage vestimentaire, définit une certaine façon de s’habiller. Jil Sander c’est « une signature » indique Marc Ascoli, « une grammaire » renchérit Frédéric Sanchez. Elle crée pour habiller les femmes indépendantes, actives et les invite à se libérer de l’ornement, du décoratif. « Si vous portez Jil Sander, vous n’êtes pas à la mode, vous êtes moderne », disait-elle à l’époque. Ses principes de conception – l’harmonie des proportions, la tridimensionnalité, l’euphémisme – constituent les bases de son design. L’habillement est chez elle le reflet de la conscience de soi. Pour Marc Ascoli « Jil Sander a vocation à raconter une attitude et pas seulement des vêtements. Avec elle, la personnalité des femmes est plus importante que les vêtements. »

En 1989, forte de son succès, son entreprise est cotée à la bourse de Francfort, elle défile alors deux fois par an à Milan. Le pull en V en cachemire et la parfaite chemise blanche deviennent ses best-sellers. En 1993, en collaboration avec l’architecte américain Michael Gabellini, la styliste imagine son premier magasin phare de 1000 mètres carrés à Paris, au 50 Avenue Montaigne. En 1999, elle vend sa marque à Prada, pour finalement quitter le navire six mois plus tard, suite à des désaccords avec Patrizio Bertelli, PDG et mari de Miuccia Prada. Coup de théâtre, elle revient en 2003 mais quitte une seconde fois l’entreprise en 2004. Raf Simons devient alors directeur artistique de la marque, perpétuant la mode minimaliste de la créatrice allemande. Il restera aux commandes du prêt-à-porter féminin et masculin jusqu’en 2012. En 2006, Prada vend la société à un groupe d’investissement britannique ; elle sera rachetée en 2008 par un groupe japonais. C’est aujourd’hui Lucie (ex codirectrice artistique de la mode femme chez Dior) et Luke Meier qui sont en charge de la direction artistique de la marque. « C’est un certain regard qui est donné à voir avec cette exposition. Un regard intimiste qui ne s’adressait en définitive qu’à un certain public à l’heure où la mode est aujourd’hui une industrie globalisée. C’est aussi une bonne leçon pour aujourd’hui : quand on veut plaire à tout le monde, on prend le risque de ne plaire à personne », souligne Marc Ascoli. « C’est une vraie proposition sur comment on peut montrer de la mode. Dans cette exposition, je n’ai rien senti de daté », conclut Frédéric Sanchez. L’exposition est d’ailleurs baptisée « Jil Sander : Present Tense ».

« Jil Sander: Present Tense » au Musée des arts appliqués de Francfort, jusqu’au 6 mai 2018.

nov. 142017

WWD – Novembre 2017

Vogue UK – 8 novembre 2017

Jil Sander On Her First Solo Exhibition
As Jil Sander’s first solo exhibition opens at the Museum Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt, Vogue caught five minutes with the designer to ask why now was the right time to delve into the archives.

by ALICE NEWBOLD

“Matthias Wagner K repeatedly proposed the project,” Jil Sander told Vogue of the museum director’s mission to house her first retrospective in his Frankfurt establishment. “He values my work, and I felt that it could be fruitful curating it cooperatively, so I finally found time to go through my archives”.

The show, which is set to run until May 16 2018, occupies over 32,000 square feet of display space in Frankfurt’s Museum of Applied Arts. Sander “immediately felt at home in the Richard Meier building from the 1980s,” she explained. “It was exciting to use the vast space and create a symbiosis between my and Meier’s work.”

Of narrowing down the pieces to populate the space, she said: “It was a long process. I knew from the beginning that I didn’t want to simply exhibit past collections, so I radically reduced the actual fashion pieces.”

“The display concentrates on three-dimensional cuts and sculptural silhouettes,” she continued. “Since I prefer to see my designs on living beings rather than mannequins, I included runway videos. Forty shows were recut in an interesting way to highlight details and create the Jil Sander atmosphere and perspective.”

Visitors can also expect flagship store architecture, interior design and beauty products which all have the same “modern design language” and “handwriting” that has stayed the same throughout her career. Shout outs also go to the artists she has collaborated with on brand imagery – Irving Penn, Peter Lindbergh, Nick Knight, Craig McDean and David Sims – in an extra room, and Frédéric Sanchez, who she has worked with on runway sound for 27 years, has done the sound installations.

“I hope that visitors understand that the vision applies to everything in life,” she mused. The standout piece to look out for? “I don’t have a personal favourite. Everything was right in its time. But I like to see that many designs don’t look dated today.”

Wallpaper – 8 novembre 2017

Taking form: Jil Sander reflects on her new exhibition at the Museum Angewandte Kunst

As ‘Jil Sander: Present Tense’ opens at the Museum Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt am Main, Nick Vinson speaks to the legendary German designer about the impetus behind her first solo museum exhibition. The 3,000 sq m show, curated by Matthias Wagner K, takes an immersive and multisensory approach, consisting of large scale tableaux and installations that celebrate Sander’s purist, understated and elegant approach to aesthetics. The exhibition spans genres including product design, garden art, architecture and cosmetics, and concretes the designer’s status in the canon of modern design.

Nick Vinson: Why did you choose to put on this exhibition?
Jil Sander: My archive was not very organised, and an exhibition deadline was a great way to make me speed up the archive revision.

How long have you been working on it?
About 18 months.

What would you say are your design principles?
Innovative quality materials, interesting proportions, perfection in details, energising shapes and a truly three-dimensional execution.

What is Jil Sander’s concept of purism?
The desire to capture the essence of the modern moment as it unfolds season after season. Purism to me means leaving behind unnecessary historical baggage, decorations, conventions, while concentrating on truly contemporary shapes and materials. I always wanted my designs to convey a readiness and openness towards the future.

People may be surprised to learn there has always been room in your life for the baroque. How is your personal taste different from the way you express opulence in your work?
As a fashion designer I tried to do justice to individual proportions by diversifying my collections and breaking them down to multiple possible combinations. The same thing happens when I have to choose the interior design for a building. The house I live in in Hamburg was built in the historicist period at the end of the 19th century by Martin Haller. I tried to give it a modern design, but that didn’t work. So I got Renzo Mongiardino to help me. Under his tutelage I learned that all style periods have a purist version of enlightened craftsmanship and choice materials. We chose a Renaissance interior which did justice to the house and created harmony.

When I think of you I think of the perfect white shirt. What is about your shirts that make them so covetable and why are they such an object of obsession?
I have about a hundred white shirts in my wardrobe. On the one hand, the periodical revision of the outlines of the white shirt is a study in shape, workmanship and quality. On the other hand, these revisions are echoes of a changing zeitgeist. You have to refresh a classic like the white shirt all the time.

Whether it’s a white shirt or a double-faced cashmere coat, fabric development has always been an essential element of your work. Why is research and development into yarn and fabric so important?
The shape and overall look of a piece of clothing is, to a great extent, a function of the fabric. I was interested in materials which lend themselves to a sculptural use. It helps if a fabric has character, a surprising lightness or even a distinct weight. If you want to create new shapes, to start with the material is a great way to get inspired.

Everything I own from you has a special label that reads ‘Tailor Made’. Why is construction so integral to a Jil Sander garment?
If you want to avoid clothes that just cling to the body, you need sartorial construction. This includes the development of patterns, innovative inlay and fine-tuning through repeated fitting. The result will be an autonomous shape that moves in dynamic harmony with the body.

You once said you had a marriage of aesthetics with your architect Michael Gabellini. This exhibition celebrates your creative collaboration with him, as well as with photographers like Peter Lindbergh, Irving Penn, David Sims and Craig McDean, sound artist Frédéric Sanchez and designers like Fabien Baron, Ezra Petronio and Peter Schmidt, who worked with you on your logo and perfume bottles. How do you choose them and what is the collaborative process like?
I like to collaborate with people whose creative work I find interesting. The collaboration itself is a process. You need to find a common language.

The last time I saw you we spoke about your garden in the north of Germany; your exhibition covers aesthetics, material and form of fashion and product design, architecture and garden art. Tell me about working with Penelope Hobhouse on that.
I was inspired by the famous Sissinghurst rose gardens. Our garden project encompassed the design of the surrounding landscape. It is an attempt to bridge the concept of the protected Renaissance theme garden and the English idea of a democratic landscape.

Frankfurter Allgemeine – 6 novembre 2017

Jil Sander in Frankfurt : Die Schau und die Scheue

Der Mode ganz nah: Die ersten Besucher in der Ausstellung am Freitagabend. Bild: Helmut Fricke
Modedesigner locken überall auf der Welt Scharen von Besuchern in die Museen. Schafft es das
Frankfurter Museum Angewandte Kunst mit Jil Sander?

Ihr Auftritt am Donnerstagvormittag in Frankfurt erinnert an damals nach ihren Schauen in Mailand.
Nachdem das letzte Model zum Finale vom Laufsteg Richtung Backstage abgetreten war, stand Jil
Sander für gewöhnlich von einem Moment auf den anderen dort. Sie zeigte sich dann kurz den
Fotografen, und weg war sie schon wieder. Sollten sich andere tief verbeugen oder gar ein paar Meter
über den Laufsteg schreiten. Ihr Ding war das nie.

Nun ist die Frau Jil Sander schon länger nicht mehr an dem Haus Jil Sander tätig. Vor vier Jahren um
diese Zeit verließ sie es zum dritten Mal in ihrer Karriere. Am Donnerstagvormittag aber erinnert ihr
Auftritt trotzdem an damals. Auf der zweiten Etage des Frankfurter Museums Angewandte Kunst (MAK)
haben sich etliche Fotografen und Journalisten versammelt, dann kommt die Modedesignerin um die
Ecke. Dunkelblauer Strickpullover, dunkle Hose, so wie damals, wie immer. Dazu trägt sie eine
Sonnenbrille auf der Nase. Sie schaut kurz in die Kameras, streckt die Arme hoch. Und weg ist sie
wieder. Es ist der typische, scheue Jil-Sander-Auftritt. Nur, hier geht es um mehr als damals nach ihren
Schauen. Es ist die überhaupt größte Schau dieser Designerin, und sie ist ihrer eigenen Person
gewidmet. Seit gestern zeigt sie das Frankfurter Museum Angewandte Kunst, und Jil Sander hat daran
in den vergangenen Monaten kräftig mitgearbeitet.

Eine Einzelausstellung über eine prominente Figur aus der Mode. Mit dem Konzept locken Museen
überall auf der Welt gerade Scharen in ihre Häuser. Wer zum Beispiel dieser Tage die Dior-Ausstellung
im Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris sehen will, muss sich nicht nur an Wochenenden hinten
anstellen, also Hunderte Meter weit vom Eingang entfernt. Vor den Türen des neuen Yves-Saint-
Laurent-Museums der Stadt sieht es nicht besser aus, Besucher brauchen hier sogar noch mehr
Geduld. Und das Victoria & Albert Museum in London zeigt in diesem Herbst das Werk des spanischen
Couturiers Cristóbal Balenciaga. An die Besuchermenge, die vor zwei Jahren durch die Räume zur
Ausstellung über Alexander McQueen zog, wird das Haus trotzdem nur schwer herankommen. 480
000 verkaufte Tickets waren es innerhalb von fünf Monaten, die am besten besuchte Ausstellung in der
Geschichte des Museums.
:
Kurz vor Schluss gab es sogar Zeitslots für mitten in der Nacht, zwischen 22 und 5.30 Uhr morgens. Es
handelte sich dabei ja auch um jene legendäre Schau, die 2011 im New Yorker Metropolitan Museum
(Met) zu sehen war (674 000 Tickets) und damit überhaupt erst das Konzept der Ausstellung über
einen Modedesigner auf ein neues Blockbuster-Niveau gebracht hat, mit Warteschlangen um die
Straßenecken. Klar gibt es seit Jahrzehnten Modeausstellungen, in jenem New Yorker Met etwa, seit
die ehemalige Chefredakteurin der amerikanischen „Vogue“, Diana Vreeland, dort 1973 als Beraterin
anfing. Aber Mode im Museum, das war zugleich lange Zeit ein schwieriger Fall. Mode will getragen
und nicht hinter Glaskästen konserviert werden. Mode im Museum, das könnte allerdings ebens0
gerade deshalb funktionieren. Da sie ihren Platz im Leben der Menschen selbstverständlicher hat als,
sagen wir, die Alten Meister.

„Man wusste, man zieht es an und ist gewappnet“

Die vage Vorstellung, die man schon von einem Modemacher habe, bevor man in die Ausstellung
gehe, sei ein Grund für den Erfolg in Museen, sagt auch Matthias Wagner K, Direktor des Frankfurter
Museums Angewandte Kunst und verantwortlich für die Schau über Jil Sander. Seit fünf Jahren ist er
hier tätig, Jil Sander habe von Beginn an ganz oben auf seiner Liste für eine Ausstellung gestanden.
Vor anderthalb Jahren habe man sich dann zum ersten Mal getroffen. Matthias Wagner K bot Jil
Sander nicht etwa eine Etage, sondern das gesamte Haus an, für die Gestaltung einer Ausstellung, die
jene vage Vorstellung für Besucher konkretisieren sollte. Besonders Frauen, die mit der Designerin
aufwuchsen, dürften sich angesprochen fühlen. Jene, die Jil Sander in den achtziger und neunziger
Jahren einkleidete, als diese auf dem besten Weg waren, sich in der noch stärker von Männern
dominierten Welt zu behaupten.

Matthias Wagner K erinnert sich an Frauen, die ihm in den vergangenen anderthalb Jahren während
der Arbeit an der Ausstellung begegnet sind und von jenem Gefühl berichteten. „Die gesagt haben, in
Kleidern von Jil Sander konnte ich so in den Gerichtssaal gehen und mich geschützt und präpariert
fühlen für das, was vor mir liegt.“ Wer sich die hochpreisigen Stücke zu der Zeit leisten konnte, musste
noch nicht einmal sonderlich stilsicher sein. „Man wusste, man zieht es an und ist gewappnet.“ Es ging
der Modemacherin Jil Sander ja um sie, um diese Kundin, und dadurch unterschied Sander sich
tatsächlich von ihren überwiegend männlichen Kollegen, die Mode oft als etwas Theatralisches
verstanden.

Dass Jil Sander das ganz anders sah, zeigt auch das MAK: Ein ganzer Raum ist einer Serie schlichter,
überwiegend schwarzer Kleidungsstücke gewidmet, Mänteln, so voluminös wie ein Kokon, oder mit
festen Gurten, Blazern, Cocktailkleidern. Die Entwürfe sind mal dreißig Jahre alt und jetzt neu
aufgelegt, mal vier Jahre. Alles ist stimmig – und stark, selbst an den leblosen Puppen. Und apropos
Mode, die im Museum schnell fad wirken kann: Der französische Klangkünstler Frédéric Sanchez hat
für jeden Raum ein Konzept entworfen. Der Sound zu den schwarzen Stücken: entschlossene Schritte,
Klaviertöne. Eine Video-Installation ihrer Laufsteg-Präsentationen aus den Jahren 1989 bis 2014 wird
hier nicht auf einer Leinwand gezeigt, es sind drei. Die Clips nehmen den Besucher ein, indem sie
chronologisch ungeordnet von Look zu Look springen und trotzdem sorgfältig editiert sind von dem
Fotografen Norbert Schoerner. Es sind Nahaufnahmen, die über den Zeitraum überraschend stimmig
geblieben sind: Kaschmir, technische Stoffe, scharfe Kanten, viel Dunkelblau, Schwarz zu Weiß,
Baumwollblusen, Hosenanzüge, Mäntel.

Mit Stücken wie diesen schaffte sie sich damals ja auch ihre treue Gefolgschaft, in den Achtzigern.
Heidemarie Jiline Sander, 1943 in Schleswig-Holstein geboren, hatte als Textilingenieurs-Studentin
einige Zeit in Kalifornien verbracht und arbeitete nach ihrer Rückkehr in den sechziger Jahren als
Moderedakteurin in Hamburg. Was ihr fehlte, waren die richtigen Kleider, die sie zum Erzählen ihrer
Geschichten brauchte. Also bat sie die Hersteller um Änderungen. Es war der Beginn ihres eigenen
kreativen Schaffens. Sie eröffnete einen Laden, begann eine eigene Linie zu entwerfen. Damals war
sie 24.

„Die positive Energie fand ich erstaunlich“

Später gründete sie einen Produktionsstandort in Deutschland, 1989 brachte sie das Unternehmen an
die Börse. Es waren dann auch in den Neunzigern nicht die Kleider, sondern vielmehr das wichtiger
werdende Geschäft mit den Accessoires, das ihr Lebenswerk bedrohte. 1999 hatte sie ihr
Unternehmen mehrheitlich an die Prada-Group verkauft, es sollte in Schuhe und Taschen investiert
werden. Die Zusammenarbeit lief nicht gut, ein Jahr später verließ die Kreativdirektorin das von ihr
gegründete Haus. Allerdings kam sie 2003 ein zweites Mal wieder, ging kurz darauf. Und übernahm im
Jahr 2012 abermals für drei Saisons die kreative Leitung. Jil Sander war also nie richtig weg, obwohl
sie schon länger keine Mode mehr macht.

Und obwohl Mode überhaupt in Deutschland nicht gerade als hohes Kulturgut wahrgenommen wird, ist
Sander eine Ausnahme. Es liegt vor allem an der engen Beziehung, die viele Kundinnen bis heute zu
ihr haben, selbst wenn sie seit Jahren keinen Fuß mehr in eine Jil-Sander-Boutique gesetzt haben.
Jene Frauen, die noch immer ihre Stücke aus vergangenen Jahrzehnten wie selbstverständlich tragen,
ohne dass man es den Teilen ansieht. „Die positive Energie fand ich erstaunlich“, sagte die
Modemacherin dem F.A.Z.-Magazin im September im Hinblick auf die Reaktionen zur geplanten
Ausstellung. „Ich begreife noch nicht so recht, warum die Kundinnen so intensiv mit meinen Entwürfen
leben. Diese emotionale Beteiligung ist mir rätselhaft. Ich konnte das nie richtig einschätzen.“
Jil Sander, die eine der führenden Modemarken schuf, ist wieder da. Die große Ausstellung im Museum
Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt zeigt, dass ihr Design schon deswegen nicht altert, weil es zeitlos ist.

„Eine tolle Frau“, „eine Heldin“, „eine Ikone“
Es ist auch die Geschichte einer Designerin, wie sie heute nicht mehr möglich wäre. Die Mode ist
längst viel zu flüchtig geworden, als dass so viele Kunden, besonders Frauen, für die das Angebot
riesig ist, einer einzigen Marke in der Form die Treue halten. Phoebe Philo bei Céline, Alessandro
Michele bei Gucci mögen große Namen sein und Kunden intensiv bedienen, über Jahrzehnte werden
sie trotzdem nicht diese Bedeutung in deren Leben haben können. Ganz zu schweigen von der Marke
Jil Sander, von der auch jetzt, unter den neuen Kreativdirektoren Lucie und Luke Meier, nicht klar ist,
an wen sie sich genau richtet.

Um die Marke geht es in dieser Ausstellung ausschließlich in Verbindung mit der Frau Jil Sander, aber
auch deren Bedeutung ist eben eine, wie sie nur in einer anderen Zeit entstehen konnte. Dass die
Bedeutung dieser Frau bis heute, jedenfalls in Deutschland, besteht, dass ihr Name – wie das
jahrzehntealte Logo – kaum Patina bekommen hat, ist außergewöhnlich. Man hört es auch am
Freitagabend, zur Eröffnung der Schau. Beim Smalltalk, in den Gesprächen, die Besucher vor den
Exponaten führen, geht es um „so eine tolle Frau“, „eine Heldin“, „eine Ikone“.

Das Frankfurter MAK nimmt es als Anlass, gerade nicht zu historisieren. Der Titel dieser Schau: „Jil
Sander. Präsens“. Es gibt keine Chronologie, keine Jahreszahlen an Stellen, die eigentlich welche
vertragen würden. Wie etwa die Making-off-Bilder, auf denen die Designerin mit Linda Evangelista zu
sehen ist. So zeitlos wie ihre Stücke tatsächlich sind, präsentiert das MAK hier auch ihr Gesamtwerk,
ihre Herangehensweise an Mode, an Architektur und Kunst, an die Lancierung ihrer eigenen
Kosmetiklinie. Über ihre Arbeit soll man der Designerin in der Einzelausstellung nahekommen; es sollte
ja auch damals, als sie noch Kleider entworfen hat, nie um sie gehen.

Ihre Scheu war, so gesehen, die große Chance. Lieber setzte sie die Kundin an erste Stelle. Maximale
Kontrolle behielt sie selbstverständlich trotzdem. Schuhe und Taschen sind auch hier so exakt stimmig,
als handele es sich um einen Showroom. Und eine Drohne, die zuvor über ihren selbstentworfenen
Garten auf ihrem Landsitz, Gut Ruhleben am Plöner See in Schleswig-Holstein, geflogen ist, hat vor
allem Perfektion aufgenommen. Der beeindruckende Film in der Ausstellung zeigt es. Auch die Skizzen
für diesen Garten von 1985 sprechen für sich: Die Bäume sind nach Farben geordnet, für Rosen, für
Schwertlilien sind konkrete Plätze vorgesehen. Die Kraft der Natur hat gegen sie keine Chance, das
Gartenkonzept steht bis heute.

Bleibt die Frage, ob Jil Sander ein weiteres Beispiel sein kann für das Phänomen der so beliebten
Einzelausstellungen über Modedesigner. Am Eröffnungsabend deutet jedenfalls einiges darauf hin –
die Schlange, die bis zur Straße reicht, die Wartenden, die schon mal am ersten Glas Wein in der Kälte
nippen, die überlegen, ob sie gehen oder bleiben sollen. Könnte erfolgreich werden.

„Jil Sander. Präsens“ läuft bis zum 6. Mai 2018 im Museum Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt.

Madame Figaro – 2 novembre 2017

Photo Peter Lindberg

Rare et secrète, une des stylistes les plus influentes des années 1990, elle signe à Francfort une exposition qui souligne sa quête de pureté dans tout ce qu’elle entreprend depuis cinquante ans.

Envoyé spécial à Hambourg. – Il s’agit d’une sublime maison vide sur les rives du lac Alster à Hambourg. Juste quelques tableaux contemporains, paysages abstraits, compositions géométriques et dessins au trait restent accrochés dans cette imposante demeure hanséatique, studio de création historique de Jil Sander, avant que sa fondatrice ne vende, en 1999, la majorité des parts de la maison portant son nom. « L’univers » de la créatrice a en effet été expédié le jour précédent notre rencontre au Musée des arts appliqués de Francfort qui lui consacre, du 4 novembre au 6 mai 2018, la première rétrospective de sa carrière.
Au loin, la voix de Mme Sander résonne dans le silence des showrooms quasi inoccupés. Puis, ses pas, sa silhouette agile et, surtout, des yeux qui aujourd’hui pétillent. Retirée de la scène mode après avoir renoncé une troisième fois à présider sa maison à l’automne 2015, elle ne voulait pas accorder d’interview dans le cadre de cet événement, préférant laisser parler les morceaux choisis de ses cinquante années de mode exposés. Les accords juridiques avec la société Jil Sander, propriété du japonais Onward Luxury Group (après avoir été détenue par un fonds britannique et, auparavant, Prada Group), expliquent aussi sans doute cette économie de mots.

Et puis si. La styliste a accepté de recevoir Le Figaro en exclusivité, en ce jour de relâche avant l’installation à Francfort, semblable à ces moments de suspens précédant les défilés quand les croquis ont été envoyés aux fabricants et les premiers prototypes pas encore réalisés. Une tension est perceptible. Une détermination, aussi. Comme tous ses confrères, elle s’est longtemps désintéressée de son propre passé. « On n’a pas le temps ni le choix. Il faut sans cesse avancer, se projeter dans la saison suivante, dit-elle. Le travail avait pris une grande place dans ma vie. Tout est allé très vite. Des modèles, des images, des films d’alors m’ont rappelé une multitude de choses et de personnes. » Il y a un peu plus d’un an, elle se plonge, non sans émotion, dans ses archives. Elle était proche d’accepter de rédiger ses Mémoires, finalement, ce sera une exposition sur 3 000 mètres carrés de modèles, de photos, de musiques et de vidéos reliés par une formidable intégrité. Et par une esthétique minimaliste traversant les années, appliquée à sa mode mais aussi aux cosmétiques, du podium aux boutiques. « Ce que j’ai créé me semble toujours d’actualité », glisse Jil Sander avec humilité, en fin d’entretien, pressée d’aller tout de même vérifier cette modernité in situ le lendemain, s’autorisant des arrangements de dernière minute afin que tout soit tel qu’elle a toujours aimé l’orchestrer.

Entretien exclusif avec la styliste Jil Sander, qui fait l’objet d’une exposition à Francfort.

Le Figaro. – Comment est né ce projet d’exposition  ?
Jil Sander. – Matthias Wagner K, le directeur du Musée des arts appliqués de Francfort, m’avait sollicitée il y a plusieurs années, mais j’ai tardé à accepter sa proposition. Le point de départ étant mes archives, je devais commencer par les classer et les digitaliser. Jusqu’alors, je n’avais eu ni le temps ni la volonté de m’y consacrer. Le passé ne m’intéressant pas durant toutes ces décennies d’activité.

Est-il facile de résumer sa carrière  ?
L’idée n’était pas de faire un résumé, mais de présenter une approche particulière avec une ligne claire. Mon travail est évoqué sous différents angles, à travers notamment une installation multimédia replaçant les collections dans leurs contextes, plutôt que de juxtaposer des dizaines de modèles déconnectés de leur époque comme souvent dans les musées. Bien sûr, il y a tout de même des vêtements exposés afin d’expliquer mes recherches en trois dimensions autour du corps.

Pouvez-vous nous en dire un peu plus sur cette installation ?
Le bâtiment qui l’accueille a été construit sur les plans de Richard Meier, un architecte d’une grande modernité qui a également signé le building du Paul Getty Center à Los Angeles. Avant tout, je suis allée à Francfort pour saisir la dimension du lieu. Puis, nous l’avons recréé, à l’échelle réduite dans mon atelier de Hambourg, afin de maîtriser les volumes, se projeter dans l’espace et imaginer pleinement le déroulé de l’exposition. Outre les vidéos des défilés, il y aura une section avec des modèles, une salle dédiée aux parfums et cosmétiques que j’ai adjoints très tôt à mon univers, ainsi que des images et des campagnes publicitaires illustrant mon esthétique. Une partie sera dédiée à l’architecture des magasins, plus précisément, à celui de l’avenue Montaigne à Paris, inauguré au début des années 1990. Cette adresse était très importante à mes yeux – et elle a été beaucoup regardée par d’autres -, car j’avais cherché à redéfinir le concept de la boutique de mode dans ce bâtiment historique. Des œuvres d’art ayant influencé mes créations intègrent aussi l’installation et, pour finir, un jardin virtuel réalisé à partir de paysages filmés par des drones, depuis une propriété dans le nord de l’Allemagne où j’aime me ressourcer depuis longtemps.

L’illustrateur sonore Frédéric Sanchez a été mis à contribution.
Je voulais transmettre ma vision de ce que j’appelle la pureté. Et le son, la lumière, le toucher participent à cette expérience. Par le passé, Frédéric a créé des bandes-son pour mes défilés, extrêmement élaborées et intimes, reliées à ma culture personnelle, grâce à sa formidable connaissance de la musique allemande, du classique au contemporain. Cette fois, il a imaginé un accompagnement musical totalement inédit et envoûtant comme des nuages flottants.

Quels ont été vos échanges avec le commissaire de cette exposition Matthias Wagner K ?
Nous partageons le goût pour une même modernité esthétique. Ensemble, nous avons parcouru tout ce que j’avais réalisé depuis le début des années 1970. La sélection n’est pas définitivement arrêtée au moment où je vous parle. Elle aura lieu sur place, dans la dernière ligne droite, de la même façon que le déroulé d’un défilé est décidé dans les dernières heures.

Qu’est-ce qui vous a rendu le plus fière au regard de vos archives ?
Je suis heureuse qu’un fil rouge apparaisse au final. Que tout ce que j’ai pu signer dans les années 1990, tant en termes de mode que de communication, ne soit absolument pas daté.

Il y a presque cinquante ans, en 1968, vous commenciez votre carrière en ouvrant une boutique à Hambourg. Est-ce cet anniversaire qui vous a convaincue d’accepter le projet ?
Peut-être, inconsciemment, mais je n’avais absolument pas cette date en tête lorsque j’ai accepté la proposition.

Vous avez débuté la mode par des études textiles : reprenons le fil de votre histoire, bien que vous n’aimiez guère vous retourner sur le passé.
Le fil de l’histoire est une jolie expression ! Aujourd’hui, quand je regarde en arrière, je perçois justement ce fil rouge qui relie tout ce que j’ai pu réaliser. Les matières y occupent une place essentielle. Dans bien d’autres domaines, tout comme pour le Bauhaus qui fête bientôt ses cent ans, ce sont des bases de la modernité. Un socle d’expérimentation et de création. Pour ma part, ces connaissances minutieuses renvoyant à l’origine de l’habillement m’ont aidée à trouver mon propre vocabulaire.

Dans les années 1970 où l’on parlait surtout de stylistes de sexe masculin, était-ce difficile pour une femme de percer ?
Ce n’était pas un obstacle. Ce sont même les tendances d’alors et le style de mes confrères qui imposaient les attitudes aux femmes, qui ont motivé ma propre démarche. Je ne trouvais pas de vêtements pour être acceptée et me faire entendre à l’égal des hommes.

Sobriété, qualité, intemporalité… Vos valeurs sont à l’opposé de la mode actuelle obnubilée par les nouveautés à partager sans délai sur les réseaux sociaux. Quel regard portez-vous sur cet univers, aujourd’hui  ?
Mon intérêt pour la mode ne cessera jamais. Et je ne peux que me réjouir que la communication digitale ait donné l’accès à cet univers, à un public plus large et moins élitiste. En revanche, je ne pense pas que ces nouveaux médias puissent totalement manipuler le goût des personnes. Depuis la fin de la guerre froide, nous enchaînons des progrès à couper le souffle. Nous sommes aujourd’hui dans une période de réajustement. À l’échelle mondiale, de nombreux consommateurs n’ont découvert la mode que très récemment. Ils ont un siècle de connaissances dans le domaine à rattraper ! La globalisation doit, elle aussi, trouver ses repères. Internet est un immense laboratoire qui, lorsque tout se posera quelque peu, pourra devenir une gigantesque vitrine pour des nouveaux designs réellement originaux.

Exposition Jil Sander, du 4 novembre au 6 mai 2018 au Museum Angewandtekunst de Francfort. www.museumangewandtekunst.de.

SHOWstudio – 5 octobre 2017

Lucy Norris reports on the Comme des Garçons show

Hello Kitty hairbrushes, dollies, My Little Ponies and seaside trinkets sat in the hair like hoards of goodies inside a birds nest. The childlike Harajuku aesthetic was Kawakubo engaging with the most Japanese of exports. Postmodern and street style influenced, the seemingly silly and inconsequential were as artful and low brow as graffiti.
Rei Kawakubo doesn’t need a catwalk show comprising of sixty outfits to let you know her proposal for the season ahead. Her S/S 18 collection, entitled ‘Multidimensional Graffiti’, comprised fifteen looks. Business as usual, yes – but with catwalk shows seemingly feeling longer and longer, it’s worth noting what a creative can achieve when pushed to edit. Operating almost like couture, these fifteen looks will also benefit the brand credentials of the label’s diffusion line Play, its fragrance line – and its collaboration with Converse, and the such like. Desire is the name of the game – and Comme des Garçons’s brand family remains desirable because of the power of this show.

A different location for Comme des Garçons this season, with a mad dash across town, we arrived at The Russian Embassy. The show’s first dress was covered with prints from the canvases of 16th century artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo. With faces and features made up of fruit and vegetables, this was surrealism 400 years before surrealism. As the following looks exited, each look was printed with the art of another artist. Some naïve and some kitsch, the soundtrack mirrored the aesthetics by way of an audio collage of taste levels: FKA Twigs (the millennial fashion equivalent to playing Björk at one’s show) was the ‘tasteful’ artist we kept returning to, but she was interjected with the decidedly mass market. However, by the time Lisa Stansfield came on, I was personally all for the beauty of the low-brow. Pannier dresses and Tudor shapes accessorised with sky high Renaissance wigs saw hair almost turned upside down. Hello Kitty hairbrushes, dollies, My Little Ponies and seaside trinkets sat in the hair like hoards of goodies inside a birds nest. The childlike Harajuku aesthetic was Kawakubo engaging with the most Japanese of exports. Postmodern and street style influenced, the seemingly silly and inconsequential were as artful and low brow as graffiti. (With Basqiat’s exhibition currently on show at London’s Barbican Centre, it seems that Kawakubo this season wanted to create her own.) But her ‘graffiti’ wasn’t quite as ‘multidimensional’ as one might think. From the front, the dresses looked 3D voluminous. From the back, some of them were simple shifts with 2D panniers stuck to the sides. A trompe l’oeil trick offered different dimensional perspectives from different angles. Harajuku trinkets also hung from the shoulder line of one PVC red dress that popped so bright, our cameras could barely capture it. As the models lined up at the end, in their bulbous near folkloric get up, they resembled a set of Russian dolls. The Russian Embassy may be architecturally brutalist but inside this room on a Saturday in October it was as decorative as they come.

Another – 5 octobre 2017

Comme des Garçons’ Multi-Dimensional Graffiti

Susannah Frankel takes us on a tour of the Place Vendôme showroom host to Rei Kawakubo’s extraordinary S/S18 collection

In a fashion world dominated by international brands, the Comme des Garçons empire stands alone. Neutral, like Switzerland, from the point of view that the company’s founder, Rei Kawakubo, is universally revered: other designers are more than happy to cite her as inspiration which is unprecedented. Her work – and the work of her protégés Junya Watanabe and Kei Ninomiya for that matter – is anything but neutral, however. Instead, it runs the gamut from breathtakingly beautiful to borderline violent, at times in a single collection, and that says quite something about both the technical skills and emotional power behind it. Comme des Garçons, then, stands outside – and more often than not above – the madding crowd.

As a business structure, too, Comme des Garçons is in a place all of its own. That is nowhere more clear than in the bright, white, Paris showroom where, after the initial impact of the runway presentation, all three collections may be seen up close. So too the commercial lines that make this among the most successful businesses today, from Comme des Garçons’ instantly recognisable tailoring with its sweet Peter Pan collars to Junya Watanabe jeans.

It is not insignificant that the space in question is located on Place Vendôme, among the French capital’s most famous squares and home principally to fine jewellery courtesy of everyone from Dior to Cartier and also to the Paris Ritz. It couldn’t be more bourgeois and, with that in mind, Comme des Garçons’ chosen HQ is as disruptive to the traditional French fashion system as any of the clothes.
At the heart of it all and, quite rightly, in pride of place are Kawakubo’s magnificent structures, majestically in line through the centre of the first, long, narrow room. It is well known now that this designer no longer shows clothing in the conventional understanding of the word on the catwalk but chooses rather to present huge, sculptural pieces – there were fifteen of them in total this time – in exploded silhouettes that positively dwarf their wearer and that speak volumes (no pun intended), season, after season, after season.

In fact, for Spring/Summer 2018, while Kawakubo’s collection was just as big and bold as has come to be expected, it focused as much on surface – on colour and print in particular – as it did outline. Drawing on the work of 12 different artists, from Giuseppe Arcimboldo who, in the 18th century, artfully painted faces out of still lives of vegetables and fruit, to the pixel landscapes of Berlin-based eBoy and the dewy-eyed girls with flowers in their hair that Macoto Takahashi is known for: they gazed almost hypnotically from garments. Colour, coming from a woman who still predominantly favours black, and pattern couldn’t have been more vibrant.
In the Rococo halos of mannequins’ pale frizz, crafted by long-time Comme collaborator Julien d’Ys, were buried pop cultural plastic toys in girlish, fondant-bright shades. Huge tangled clusters of these also hung around necks. Memento mori to lost innocence? Kawakubo said the thematic was “multi-dimensional graffiti”. On the surface there was joy for sure but angel wings on the back of one of two white looks and menacing ravens printed across another carried an undertone of melancholy. Another elaborately pieced and patched tulle design spoke of nothing if not a life in clothes. Frederic Sanchez’ show soundtrack, meanwhile, darted from FKA Twigs to Lisa Stansfield and concluded with the funereal Adagio For Strings by Samuel Barber.

There are only very few designers in history able to make their audience smile and cry in the space of no more than around 15 minutes. Rei Kawakubo is one such.

Business Of Fashion – 5 octobre 2017

A Contrary Spirit at Miu Miu

Miu Miu’s parent company is battling institutional stasis, but Miuccia Prada was fired up by the state of the world, delivering a dialogue of opposites with extraordinary skill.

BY TIM BLANKS

PARIS, France — There are few designers who appreciate the fact that fashion doesn’t exist in a vacuum as intuitively as Miuccia Prada. A Prada show is an object lesson in context. Everything — from the set to the drinks she serves — amplifies and clarifies the message of the collection. Obviously, music has always played a big part, maybe now more than ever. “Music is what holds everything together,” she agreed on Tuesday after a Miu Miu show where Frederic Sanchez, her longtime sonic collaborator, created a soundtrack that was so vivid it was almost another character on the catwalk. A list of the artists tells the story, among them, the Pixies, Bikini Kill, the Breeders and a finale tracked by the Ramones’ version of « Baby, I Love You » (chosen by Katie Grand, another longtime Prada collaborator, for her wedding). Sanchez’s picks had a hard, aggressive edge which took a few cues from the music he used for Prada’s signature collection in Milan.

Miuccia said she had two things in mind: “the girl” (which was why she worked so hard on the casting for this show – she saw a thousand models!), and the contrary spirit in which Miu Miu originally launched nearly 25 years ago. “The freedom I felt at the beginning,” she called it. In those days, Prada was a company whose clothes dazzlingly defied conventional notions of taste and propriety. Now it’s a massive global brand battling institutional stasis. But in her last few collections, there has been a pervasive sense of Miuccia Prada kicking against the pricks. It was strong in Miu Miu, in the way that an oversized distressed leather coat wrapped a white lace shift; in the strange granny crochet, with its undercurrent of purity defiled; in the confrontational oddities that rendered beauty redundant, or at least, as Miuccia said, “make it possible in real life, not just for the limousine or the hotel” (need to think about that one!).

Man tailoring was matched to fabulous graphic knits. Almost everything was veiled in a sheer overlay, which sometimes looked pure, and other times prurient. There’s a dialogue of opposites in there that Prada has always managed to conduct with extraordinary skill: prurience and propriety, restraint and release, the cerebral locking horns with the physical. Footwear flat and functional. Heads bound. Bodies primed for action. What is new now is that Miuccia is fired up by the state of the world. Back to that soundtrack: rough, tough, shreddingly dismissive of male crap. Not quite clothes to match just yet. But wait.

Dazed DIgital – 1er octobre 2017

Comme des Garçons tags PFW with multidimensional graffiti

For SS18, Rei Kawakubo enlisted the work of nine artists from the 16th century to today to illustrate the sculptural looks

There are very few designers in the world who can make you forget the fact you haven’t had a proper night’s sleep in several weeks (and that it shows), or that you’ve suddenly come down with the flu (hi everyone). Even if you’re feeling your best, it’s rare to have your attention captivated so fully for 20 minutes that your mouth is hanging open. Rei Kawakubo is one of those designers, and yesterday in Paris her Comme des Garçons show was even more proof of that fact. As if you needed it. Here’s what went down.

THE SHOW WAS HELD AT THE RUSSIAN EMBASSY
…in a long hall with polished wooden floors and ornamental glass panels hanging from the ceiling. (Also, appropriately I think I spotted Gosha Rubchinskiy pre-show, not far from a giant unfurled Russian flag). The white runway was raised in a zig-zag across the room, and models stepped out and walked its length one at a time.

REI’S WORDS OF THE SEASON WERE MULTIDIMENSIONAL GRAFFITI
Which might help to explain why the collection mashed up colourful art/illustrations with the sculptural looks that are tradition at Comme des Garçons. This wasn’t as basic as a tag you might find on the side of a bus shelter though, Kawakubo’s graffiti was of course much more conceptual – her silhouettes exploded outwards and had holes which revealed many layers of different fabrics. It was like the material version of when a wall is coated with different artists’ work – a mosaic of colours and styles.

IT FEATURED THE WORK OF NINE ARTISTS
From 16th century Italian Giuseppe Arcimboldo, whose fruit face portraits appeared on the first and fifth looks, to E-Boy whose pixel landscapes cropped up on look twelve. The florals were courtesy of Dutch artist Abraham Mignon and as for the giant anime-looking girl with glinting eyes? The work of Japanese-born Macoto Takahashi. The headpieces by Julien d’Ys, works of art in themselves, were made up of items that looked like the kitschy trappings of girlhood like toys, cupcake iPhone cases, kawaii Hello Kitty dolls and plastic rings.

THE SHOES WERE NIKES… WITH HEELS
Continuing Nike’s fruitful partnership with CdG, this season saw models wear Nike shoes – or rather, the hollow shell of Nike boxing shoes, which were placed over the top of pair of clog-like heels. They came in colour combinations of blue and white, green and white, and, naturally, black.

THE MUSIC WAS TRENDY, TACKY, SAD AND BRILLIANT
FKA twigs blended into this year’s smash dance hit “Falling” by Alesso, and then, even more unexpectedly, “Closer” by 80s pop singer Lisa Stansfield. It all concluded with “Adagio for Strings” – a version of the famous piece written by Samuel Barber conducted by André Previn, and taken from the soundtrack of David Lynch’s The Elephant Man. Someone wrote a book about how this is “the saddest music ever written” – and you would have had to be made of pretty strong stuff not to have been moved as the song swelled and the models filed back out onto the runway for the finale. There was something about the combination of the childlike, girlish accessories with the heart-wrenching music that was extremely affecting – beyond the graffiti byline, it felt like Kawakubo was addressing very human ideas of childhood innocence, lost youth and the passage of time.

Business Of Fashion – 1er octobre 2017

Comme des Garçons’ Monument to Irrevocable Loss

Just as girlhood is an inevitable prelude to lost innocence, Rei Kawakubo’s collection seemed to recognize another human inevitability, the most inescapable of all.

BY TIM BLANKS

PARIS, France — Before the Comme des Garçons exhibition opened at the Metropolitan Museum in New York in May, Rei Kawakubo seemed convinced that no one would show up. Hundreds of thousands of visitors begged to differ. For her first women’s presentation since the epochal Met event, Kawakubo chose to show in the austere grandeur of the Russian Embassy. She kept the raised catwalk from last time, so everyone got a good look. And she offered a collection which could hardly disappoint any of the vast audience who got acquainted with her work through the exhibition in New York. It was essential Comme in its defiance of fashion orthodoxy. The proportions challenged conventional notions of utility. Sleeves fell to the floor, hips were wider than any door. One bouclé coat-based ensemble was a full five feet wide. Time and space elided in the 16 looks, dressed with hair by Julien D’Ys that married Africa and the Middle Ages, collaged with work by eleven artists, from Renaissance master of illusion Arcimboldo and Zen monk Sesson Shukei, also from the 16th century, to contemporary outsider artist Anne Grgich and cyber star E-Boy. Frederic Sanchez’s soundtrack matched them with eleven snippets of music, all of them by young women.

It was tempting to attach some significance to this last point, because the collection did seem to be “about” girlhood, insofar as anything Kawakubo does lends itself to such direct interpretation. There were cartoons, and flowers, and maybe a little girl’s dream of a frilly princess something or other. Or might it even be a wedding dress? D’Ys compared some of his hairstyles to nests. They were filled with the detritus of Japanese kawaii culture, the cuteness that bequeathed us Hello Kitty. She was there, in the nest, along with dozens of girlish trinkets and plastic doodads. One of the eleven artists was Macoto Takahashi, who became famous in the 60s for his proto-manga paintings of dewy young girls with huge starry eyes. You could imagine them hoarding the stuff that decorated Kawakubo’s clothes.

There was something immensely sad in that. Just as girlhood is an inevitable prelude to lost innocence, Kawakubo’s collection seemed to recognize another human inevitability, the most inescapable of all. The clothes were monumental, but the monument was to irrevocable loss. Over all the kawaii, there hovered a big black raven. One of the most striking pieces looked to be composed of a huge, crushed mass of prettiness, petticoats and lingerie, draped over a bodysuit of the same. The model posed coquettishly on the catwalk, a cliché you’d never expect to see at CDG. But the act was so deliberate it felt like a direction. “Be pretty now.” Because it won’t – it can’t – last.

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Business Of Fashion – 25 septembre 2017

Marni’s Spin Cycle

There was discipline in the overpieces that held volumes in check, but Francisco Risso was more engaged by chaos, dissecting design with glee.

If you include menswear and pre-fall, the collection Francisco Risso showed on Sunday morning was his fifth for Marni, and what’s become crystal clear is that you don’t spend all that time at Prada without learning how to spin the kind of yarn that encompasses worlds. Risso’s was all about his dream of a girl on a skateboard surfing through a wardrobe of the ages, becoming laden with clothes from different eras as she went, couture structure mashed with flapper languor. It was the kind of cinematic trope that raised the roof in madcap chase scenes in silent movies (or even « The Naked Gun »), and it applied equally to the playful pile-up that Risso catapulted onto his catwalk.

He called his collection Treasure Hunt, describing it as “a game for adults”, comparing his woman to an archeologist examining her finds through a wide-angle lens to magnify the pieces. The clothes were BIG, classic couture shapes, waists, hips and full skirts, expanded to surreal proportions. “New Dada,” said Risso, referring to the movement that gleefully up-ended art world orthodoxy. And glee was the driving force that motivated his own dissection of design. It was almost as though in his own furious scavenging through trunks of clothing, he hadn’t had time to complete anything. hems and seams were unfinished, toiles and fabrics pieced together pell-mell, pearls and shiny things and faces by artist David Salle applied as decoration. There was discipline in the overpieces, like old-school one-piece bathing suits, that held volumes in check, but Risso was more engaged by chaos. That’s where he said he found real beauty: “Between cacophony and charm”. There was plenty of both in the collection. And if Risso put Marni on spin cycle, you couldn’t imagine anyone but Frederic Sanchez supplying the overpowering aural complement: he sent a crazy mash-up of the Cramps’ rockabilly, Yma Sumac’s pagan shrieks and Joe Meek’s extra-terrestrial twang racing around the room in a mind-boggling 360-degree rampage. It was the season’s finest cacophony.

Business Of Fashion – 25 septembre 2017

A Textbook Update of Missoni

The collection was a reminder of just how successfully Angela Missoni has managed to keep her family business humming well into its eighth decade.

Angela Missoni took over the creative direction of the family brand 20 years ago, so there’s been a bit of a celebration going on in Milan. Vogue Italia made a nice little supplement to mark her anniversary, and Missoni’s Spring/Summer 2018 show became the excuse for an evening-long wingding, from catwalk to dinner to after-party dancefloor. You needed to bear that in mind when you sat down to reflect on the real heart of it all, the clothes that Angela showed.

From the moment Kiki Willems stepped out in a sparkly, sheer slip dress, it was clear that Missoni had gone to another place. Head Space! Frederic Sanchez’s soundtrack was a flibbertigibbet rampage through dance tracks we knew and loved in the Second Summer of Love, and the girls walked in floaty, flighty, lacy, languidly clingy and oh-so-sheer bodycon confections that effortlessly evoked saucer-eyed sweethearts at the Café del Mar. “These are the kids I want to have at my party,” said Angela. It was gauzily gorgeous wish fulfilment, it was an education in Missoni’s ability to turn knitwear into gossamer, but it didn’t do an awful lot towards advancing Missoni’s claim on the everyday.

Fortunately, this was also the season when Missoni launched its women’s and men’s collections simultaneously. There were odd moments when the menswear embraced the sheerness of the women’s clothing, but otherwise, it was a textbook update of the brand’s grasp of colour and pattern. The standouts were the patchwork sweaters, but the ingenious, seductive layering of stripes, plaids, chevrons, and warping test patterns was a reminder of just how successfully Angela Missoni has managed to keep her family business humming well into its eighth decade.

Le Monde – 22 septembre 2017

Fashion week : La renaissance milanaise

Etat de grâce chez les créateurs à Milan, qui composent un vestiaire accessible sans renoncer à leur flamboyance baroque.

Par Carine Bizet

Les vertus commerciales de la mode italienne, qui ont enrichi les designers et fait de Milan un grand acteur financier du secteur, ont aussi longtemps englué la fashion week locale dans un classicisme un peu trop confortable. Mais, ces trois dernières années, les choses ont lentement commencé à bouger. Les voix se multiplient pour défendre une créativité plus originale et personnelle, une féminité plus complexe et sensible. Bonne nouvelle, ça se vend.

Aujourd’hui, le fossé est plus évident que jamais entre ces griffes novatrices et celles qui restent attachées à d’anciennes formules, plus orientées vers le produit. D’autant que la sainte patronne de la créativité italienne, Miuccia Prada, est en grande forme. Elle a confié le décor de son défilé à huit artistes féminines : Brigid Elva, Joëlle Jones, Stellar Leuna, Giuliana Maldini, Natsume Ono, Emma Rios, Trina Robbins, Fiona Staples, auxquelles s’ajoutent les archives de Tarpe Mills, créatrice de la première femme super-héros. Elles ont habillé le lieu de ­portraits de femmes fortes et ­glamour, entre le comics à ­l’américaine et le manga. La collection envoie sur le podium une bande de filles cool, féminines et dures à la fois, une vraie démonstration de style.

Les grands manteaux de la bourgeoise chic fusionnent avec les perfectos, avec des faux plis marqués en blanc, des pardessus en tweed rehaussé de motifs tigre ou panthère, des vestes cubiques habillées de clous, des trenchs reprenant les imprimés des murs. Les beautés punk-rock qui les portent aiment autant les shorts rayés avec des chaussettes rétro que les sur-robes de poupée déglinguée passées sur un jean noir. La bande-son qui tangue entre énergie punk et mélancolie schizophrène est signée Frédéric ­Sanchez, et elle est aussi magistrale que la collection. Tout en nuances ou en dérapages contrôlés, ce vestiaire ultra-désirable fait l’unanimité.

British Vogue – 22 septembre 2017

How To Channel The Spirit Of Prada SS18

Prada spring/summer 2018 was « a white canvas filled with ideas », said the renowned designer.
Here, we examine how to channel them.

by OLIVIA SINGER

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There are few designers who can present diverse eclecticism with such seamless allure as Miuccia Prada, nor any who set the tone for the seasons to come just like she does. It is for these reasons that the Prada show is one of the most hotly anticipated of the season: she is fashion’s favourite genius, offering up collections that are simultaneously avant-garde in their conception, covetable on the shop floor, and revered by reviewers, customers, and fellow designers alike. “Basically it was a white canvas filled with ideas,” she said backstage after this mash-up collection of hits. Essentially, we all want to be a bit more Prada – and so, this season, here’s how.

Eclecticism is key
Over the past couple of years, there has been a new trend for eclecticism – not just on the runways, but in the real-life wardrobes of women themselves. Wearing full look is out: instead, constructing your daily outfit from an assortment of different designers, different genres, different eras, is the modern way to dress. “I was really interested in somebody who wants to be active and present nowadays – I don’t want to say how they should dress, but how they should be free to experiment,” said Mrs Prada backstage after the show. Here, studded sandals were teamed with satin bustiers layered over pinstripe shirting; pretty, puff-sleeved dresses worn over workwear trousers; Herringbone jackets given leopard-print lapels; even flared, Fifties skirts made the occasional appearance (in a thoroughly psychobilly fashion). It was diverse, to say the least – and thoroughly shoppable, although “I don’t want to be judged by sales,” she laughed. “My life is so much more important than sales.”

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Get on Spotify
While talking about the soundtrack to a collection can often be a handy way to sidestep discussion of the clothes, the music that accompanies Miuccia Prada’s runways are routinely as considered as the looks she sends out. This time, the likes of Lana del Rey, Nirvana, Nina Simone, Sinead O’Connor, Suzanne Vega, The Cure, PJ Harvey and L7 all made notable sonic appearances in a poetic cross-genre medley. “They are different people, and each one has their own voice,” she said. This was a soundtrack for a generation who curate Spotify playlists rather than put on records, and it was brilliant. “It was a little bit like the bootleg that you might get in a certain genre of movie,” said Frédéric Sanchez, the composer behind the music. “I think there is something in the soundtrack that shows all these different women, each who represent something so strong in a certain moment of time.” And it was their combined eclecticism that made this music feel so thoroughly contemporary, so authentically 2017.

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Be strong (particularly right now)
“I want women to be strong because still there is so much against us. So we need a lot of cleverness, intelligence, and strength… particularly now,” Mrs Prada continued – and these women were: they were punk, wearing mish-mash combinations of studs and animal print, sometimes the pieces themselves looking like two distinct personas spliced together. There was a confidence in such an approach that was distinctly Mrs Prada – remember that John Waters Miu Miu collection? – but it felt fresh and relevant, particularly when teamed with bare faces and gamine haircuts (how many models got a Guido chop specially for the occasion is yet to be noted, but it looks like plenty).

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Reference… yourself
Souped-up versions of pre-existing pointy shoes; the same, sportif sock that Prada debuted for Resort 2018; the nylon fabric that propelled this brand to the forefront of fashion: this was a collection that riffed on some former offerings – after all, if everyone else is doing it, why shouldn’t she? Those who have noted the trend for transparency that has swept the spring/summer 2018 shows might remember that it was the Prada Resort show that first introduced the filmy fabrications now appearing on every runway – because, where Mrs Prada goes, the rest are sure to follow. It won’t be until next season that we see the impact of this collection, but it’s sure to make a mark.

Dazed and Confused – 22 septembre 2017

Prada channels teen angst and rebellious girl power

WHAT WENT DOWN
With an angsty remix of Lana Del Rey, Nina Simone and Nirvana as the soundtrack, the show space was transformed by the work of nine female artists. When it comes to comic books, women can seem truly two dimensional. Not so in the Prada universe, as last night’s SS18 womenswear show proved. Here’s what went down.

THE SET CONTINUED THE THEME OF MENSWEAR
Not surprisingly considering the SS18 menswear set this summer, the showspace was transformed with comic book prints. This time, however, they depicted different facets of women – from the blunt-fringed teen in her bedroom with her guitar (and a Black Flag sticker on the dresser) to a 40s-era illustration of a red-head knocking a man down with a single punch. Girl power.

THE SOUNDTRACK WAS ANGSTY AND AMAZING
No, but seriously – we’re talking Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games” meets Nirvana’s “I Hate Myself and Want to Die”, which I specifically remember downloading as a tween and playing on repeat so my emotional depth would be displayed to the world via my MSN. Cringe aside, Frédéric Sanchez’s mix for this season was beyond. PJ Harvey, loads of The Cure, Kim Deal, NINA SIMONE! It was a rundown of outsider anthems from different eras, and it was brilliant accompaniment to the collection.

THERE WAS A COLLABORATION WITH NINE FEMALE COMIC ARTISTS
The comic prints weren’t just on the walls – they also appeared in the collection, on everything from bags and shirts to coats and earrings, in what was a collaboration with a grand total of nine female artists. We’re not talking superheroes in impractically small clothes, or anxious Lichtenstein heroines pining over a man. From young talent to old legends, Prada said she was inspired by “how spirited (the artists) were and how they captured women in a very real way”. To read all about ‘em, head here.

THERE WERE LOADS OF CONTRADICTIONS
And, on a related note, lots of trousers. (That might not sound like a big deal, but Mrs P is famed for her love of skirts – she’s done whole collections with no trousers at all). Here they sometimes came with typically feminine, floral dresses or tops overlaid, like walking comments on the duality of women. Other times that contrast was channeled in the mixing of those same tops with shirts printed with black spiders.

YOUR STUDDED BELT IS BACK
Rejoice, ex-emos – that staple is making a return. The subculture nods didn’t stop there – in what felt like an exploration of the symbols of female rebellion, there was leopard print, studs, and a lot of that classic Hot Topic combination of black and red, too. Also, the coats added a distinct Teddy Girls vibe, like modern versions of those captured in the late Ken Russell’s photo series in 50s London.

MIUCCIA PRADA TALKED ABOUT FEMALE STRENGTH
“I want women to be strong because there is still so much against us. I think that we need a lot of cleverness and intelligence and strength,” the designer said post-show – adding that these qualities are needed now more than ever. And to a rather blunt question from someone about how the business was going, she certainly had the last word. “Actually, I don’t like to be judged by sales – my life is much more important than sales.”

Business Of Fashion – 22 septembre 2017

A Hunger for Intensity at Prada

Miuccia Prada usually questions orthodoxy in a passive aggressive way, but this collection was infected with a no-nonsense grunge-y sensibility of resistance.

BY TIM BLANKS

The young people Miuccia Prada spends time with believe there’s a war coming. Maybe that prospect infected her collection. “We are the last generation without a war,” she declared. MILITANT was her mot de jour, “not necessarily just for women but in general”. It translated into clothes that were fierce and graphic, partly due to Prada’s use of the work of female cartoonists from the last few decades, but also down to a no-nonsense grunge-y sensibility of resistance.

“I love those lesbians,” photographer Nan Goldin enthused to Prada after the show. That was how she interpreted the collection’s tough studded-sandal, sleeveless-jacket, shorts’n’tweed-coat union of male and female. Frederic Sanchez’s soundtrack worked an entire aural spectrum of the idea, from the melancholic sweetness of Suzanne Vega and Jimmy Scott’s astounding cover of « Nothing Compares 2U » to the spitting-tacks anger of riot grrrls L-7 and their guru Kurt Cobain. It was hard to miss the allusions to Cobain in the vintage-y floral dresses worn over pants.

If the musical accompaniment acknowledged vulnerability as well as female fury, the women in the cartoons that lined the wall and covered Prada’s clothes were fighters. Angela Davis was one of them. And I’d swear I saw Wonder Woman, though Miuccia disputed that. She would rather her women be distinctly un-super. “I wanted to see their human, simple, underestimated side,” she insisted.

But her collection wasn’t about humility (hence Angela Davis). Rather, there was a sense of the strength that comes through endurance. The youth cult subtext that has been a rich seam of inspiration for Prada in the past was once again mined for pieces that were here suggestive of rockabilly dress-up. The leopard print was this season’s deliberate engagement with a fashion element Prada dislikes. (It often works out very well for her when she utilizes something she despises, suede being a case in point.)

The use of the print underscored the particular, peculiar hybrid of past, present and future that is her design signature. The full skirt under the sleeveless jacket, the stripey shorts and the sleeveless top, the eerie palest pink twinset over a matching skirt were the kind of outfits that would slot effortlessly into a timeless David Lynch fantasia, because, like Lynch, questioning orthodoxy is what Miuccia Prada does best. She’s usually done it in a passive-aggressive way, but that trait didn’t seem so much in evidence on Thursday night. Instead, the collection she showed made you hunger for her next engagement. I predict a steady pre-war intensification.

Business Of Fashion – 19 septembre 2017

Music is the Muse at Erdem

Inspired by a dream of Queen Elizabeth II dancing to the Duke Ellington at the Cotton Club in Harlem, the collection was a rich hybridisation of couture and a flapper’s delight.

BY TIM BLANKS

LONDON, United Kingdom — For the first time in his career, Erdem Moralioglu let music be the muse for a collection. And oh! what music! The romantic, melancholic mood of « The Queen’s Suite » made it sound like it could have been written specially for the designer. In actual fact, it was composed by the bandleader Duke Ellington for Elizabeth II after the pair met at a performance in Leeds in 1958. “I’m going to write something for you,” he told the young Queen, so impressed was he by her love of jazz. “I’ll be listening,” came her pert reply. Two recordings were made of the suite, one for him, one for her, both subsequently lost to the world until his disc was located in the Smithsonian.

Such a story of two worlds intimately connecting across a social and cultural divide was catnip for Erdem. While he was designing his collection, he took the story a step further, dreaming of Elizabeth dancing to the Duke at the Cotton Club in Harlem, Dorothy Dandridge or Billie Holiday on the mike. It was a gorgeous conceit. The set for his show was an afterhours mirage of just such a place, the clothes a rich hybridisation of Norman Hartnell’s puffball couture and the sensuous, satiny dresses of the Cotton Club’s chanteuses.

At times, it bordered on the surreal, as with the cardigan decorously buttoned around the throat but skewed furiously sideways over a bra and bared midriff, with a princess-y dance skirt in a washed floral print floating genteelly below. At other times, it made perfect sense, like a swirl of lilac chiffon, its embroidery delicate, almost Japanese. The key was always movement, the young Queen dancing while the big band played, tulle petticoats flaring the hems of her dress as she twirled. There were pieces that mixed vermilion fringing and silver tinsel, a flapper’s delight.

“Neon pastels” was Erdem’s own description of the colour palette. If there was something vaguely hallucinatory about the intensity of emerald green brocades or shimmering pink moirés, he also offered a reality check in the form of Prince of Wales plaids: a smart tailored jacket, a pantsuit, a midcalf coatdress. The relative sanity of such items was a reminder that Erdem’s mass-market collection for H&M launches in November. But even here, hems were frayed, coats and jackets randomly studded with encrustations of embroidery. It’s easy to see why Erdem is so fascinated with the Queen’s wardrobe. Her dressing is codified. So is his. But her codes exalt propriety, his subtly unhinge it. That has always been his gleeful challenge, and he rose to it yet again on Monday. Next time, how about a look at Princess Margaret? The fun never stops with that one.

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Vogue Runway – 19 septembre 2017

The affection for Her Majesty the Queen among her British subjects knows no bounds. Nearly 65 years after ascending the throne in 1953, she’s had quite a year. At the age of 91, she has visited children who were terribly injured in the Manchester suicide bombing and the residents and families of the people of many cultures who died in the Grenfell Tower disaster in London. Now, curiosity about Elizabeth II as a human being—rather than a stiff royal cipher—is at an all-time high. Nothing illustrates that better than the Golden Globes–sweeping success of Netflix’s epic The Crown. Claire Foy plays Elizabeth from the time of her coronation (at the age of 25) on. This summer, Erdem Moralıoğlu found his own extraordinary path into expressing his admiration for the queen while researching her clothes at Windsor Castle (no less). He conducted his research under the guidance of Caroline de Guitaut, the senior curator of decorative arts of the Royal Collection. There, he made a discovery which blew his mind, kindling a theme for a beautiful collection based on the 1950s that touched on a personal connection to Black-American culture in the young queen’s life. “It felt kind of important at a weird time like this,” said the designer. “The exchange between two worlds felt really beautiful.”

Erdem had discovered that Elizabeth enjoyed jazz and dancing when she was young, and that she had met Duke Ellington in 1958 at a royal command performance. “It was at a theater in Leeds,” he said, pointing out a photo of the queen—wearing a tiara, a cream brocade Norman Hartnell evening gown, and white opera gloves—meeting the duke of jazz in a reception line. Ellington was so taken, he composed a piece for her called “Queen’s Suite.” “She had one record of it and he the other, which got lost in the Smithsonian until 2012. It’s sort of a piece of love poetry, really,” Erdem reflected. “She wrote him a note where she said, ‘I’ll be listening.’”
After absorbing that information, he made the leap to Harlem in the 1950s, designing into the fantasy that the young royal might have visited the Cotton Club to watch Dorothy Dandridge, Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald perform. It made for quite gorgeous fashion, a context in which to show diverse beauty and an evocative set furnished as a glamorous Harlem Renaissance–era jazz club.
There were brocade coats—fitted in front, with Watteau swinging in back—and variations on prim checked tailored coats. Ribbons inspired by royal decorations became fastenings on bustier dresses or shoulder-bows. Pearl and gold embroideries of leeks and flowers imitated the symbols Hartnell planted in the queen’s coronation gown. The sinuous ’30s- and ’40s-chic dresses of the Cotton Club’s great singers contrasted with balloon-skirted ballgowns (an emerging trend of the season, there). Will the queen be amused? She should be. It was a sincere tribute to a woman who has lived a life dedicated to duty and bringing people together. And it’s nice to know she’s had some fun along the way.

Dazed – 29 juin 2017

The menswear shows have wrapped, and after a journey from London to Florence, then Milan and finally Paris, it’s time to reflect on the season that was. While there were those which stunned thanks to their sets (Rick Owens’ towering scaffolding springs to mind), entertained with performance (the circus troupe Vivienne Westwood brought to town) and joined fashion and art together in unexpected collaborations (shout out to Jenny Holzer x Off-White) there was one show that was particularly notable for the immediate effect of sheer joy felt by its audience: Comme des Garçons Homme Plus.

A bit of context: This was Rei Kawakubo’s first show since the monumental Met Gala, where the elusive designer gave a few rare press interviews and even told Lynn Yaeger she wasn’t actually going to show up. (She did, in a slightly fancier version of her standard Lewis Leathers biker, black skirt and trainers uniform). Of course, Comme was already a fashion and business behemoth, but a Met retrospective is another thing entirely; the hundreds of thousands of public visitors standing in line is a pretty different stage for Kawakubo’s work than her intimate fashion shows. As for the show itself, once the initially reluctant designer had been talked into doing it, she went all out – even creating an 116,000 square foot mock-up of the space in Tokyo. If there was ever a time that the already mysterious Kawakubo seemed even more like a deeply serious, incomprehensible genius, this was it.

So, entering the grand Salle Wagram that made up the Comme menswear show space, it’s safe to say the audience was probably expecting something thought provoking, loftily conceptual, or even sombre. After all, the last few Comme menswear shows have explored ideas including boyhood, ‘the armour of peace’, and the emperor’s new clothes – this season has the added backdrop of a world which feels like it’s inching towards crisis, as exemplified by the hot new trend of bomb detector dogs outside shows. Instead, as the lights went down, something else happened entirely: the raised, square catwalk was lit with a myriad of swirling, technicoloured spotlights, the thumpingly loud soundtrack kicked in, and the young gang of models bounced up onto the stage with more energy than had been seen all month.

Dressed in a wild, hyper-saturated patchwork of colour, pattern, texture and print, they danced, paced, vogued, threw poses. They wore jackets that clashed red Flinstones-esque faux fur with colourful florals and rainbow lurex. Some looks were almost entirely constructed of thousands upon thousands of shimmering sequins which reflected the bouncing lights, while the shoes on models’ feet (limited edition Nike 180s) seemed to glow neon as if under an ultraviolet light. At points looking like teenage boys dancing clumsily at their first party, there was something seriously charming about the way the models moved around the space.

Sculptor Mona Luison (who worked on a capsule collection of jewellery in 2011 with Comme called Love Me Tender) was invited back to create a series of jackets. Imagine Louise Bourgeois let loose on a toy box after a strong dose of acid: rubber dinosaurs with rabbit faces and dolls with Barbie limbs extending out of their eye sockets all protruded from the fabric. “We spoke about inside/outside, explosion, strangeness, toys, dolls…” the artist said of the creative process, adding that being at the show (her first) was “amazing”. “I was very pleased to see such good spirits, I loved being in that place at that moment. It was a great privilege for me to work on the collection.”

“Imagine Louise Bourgeois let loose on a toy box after a strong dose of acid: rubber dinosaurs with rabbit faces, dolls with Barbie limbs extending out of their eye sockets”
For the energising soundtrack, long-term Comme collaborator Frédéric Sanchez had one word as his starting point. “I don’t really get briefs, but this time there was one,” he shared over the phone from his Paris studio. “Rei was thinking of disco.” He wasn’t going to focus on the past though – “it was not the idea to play Gloria Gaynor or Donna Summer” – but instead explore the core of the word itself. “What is everything you can put into a word like this to make it extreme? So I mixed all these tracks in a frenetic way with this idea of having this imaginary sort of club, and this moment where everything is mixed up in your head. A sort of extreme disco mix – so is it disco, is it rave?”

It certainly did the job, with the breakneck BPM leaving the audience bobbing up and down in their seats (Tyga, sitting in the front row, looked thrilled). After the show, the name for the collection was declared to be ‘what’s on the inside matters’ – almost all of the crazily colourful jackets were in fact worn inside out, so it was their linings the audience had been seeing. Kind of a funny phrase when you consider we’re talking about fashion, but nevertheless – the effect of the show was notable and immediate: it made people happy. Like the hours spent losing yourself on the dancefloor of an amazing club, it was a moment that got as close to euphoric escapism as fashion can manage. Disco died because it became formulaic, predictable and tired. Despite the blockbuster exhibition and the accompanying red carpet spectacle, Rei’s catwalk party proved that there’s no danger of that happening to Comme.

Dazed – 24 juin 2017

Kris Van Assche is still having fun after a decade at Dior

This year, Belgian designer Kris Van Assche celebrates a decade at the helm of Dior Homme. Even he can’t quite believe it’s been that long – “It’s gone really quickly!” he exclaims from his atelier at 3 Rue de Marignan, the afternoon before his SS18 show. Originally arriving at the house in 2000 with Hedi Slimane (who he assisted at Yves Saint Laurent), he left to start his own independent label in 2004. When Slimane exited three years later he returned, dividing his week between the two brands until 2015, when he decided to focus on Dior full time. “It became super exciting for me when I had to quit my own label. It really allowed for me to put much more of myself here,” he says. “I’ve kind of reinvented my role now, so it’s a whole new adventure.”

That new adventure hasn’t exactly been low profile, thanks to a list of headline-making campaign stars. As well as younger creative talents including A$AP Rocky, The xx’s Oliver Sim and Manchester By The Sea actor Lucas Hedges, there was Larry Clark, Boy George, and most recently Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan, revealed only last week. While the casting perfectly brings together both the cult and current, what’s perhaps been most brilliant is the unexpected nature of the protagonists: even Van Assche thought it would “for sure be a no” from the 74-year-old Clark, best known for seminal 1995 film Kids, and photobooks like Tulsa and Teenage Lust. “I’ve been very lucky,” admits the designer happily. Clark even made a short film for the house, and despite their wildly different backgrounds, each campaign star has felt unshakably authentic as a figurehead; they’ve been chosen out of a genuine respect for their work as opposed an attempt to tap into a trend or hit up the latest social media influencer.

Recent collections have been similarly high voltage, blending dark but impeccable tailoring with a subcultural and street edge. There was last season’s ‘HarDior’ collection, which saw a hardcore techno raver influence that had hints of Belgium’s gabber music fans. Then there was the punkish, gothic SS17 collection, which featured bondage straps, skull motifs, and Frankenstein-like red stitching. The season before that, 80s New Wave and 90s skaters were a key reference point, and models wore their hair in emo fringes. To top it all off, their fingernails were painted with black polish. “I am interested in a synthesis of generations and filtering subcultures through my own lens to tell a new story,” Van Assche has said.

“It became super exciting for me when I had to quit my own label. It really allowed for me to put much more of myself here” – Kris Van Assche

His SS18 show yesterday, was another exploration of youth culture through the lens of Dior’s longstanding heritage, as models marched out onto a turf runway to a jarring mix which veered between outsider anthems like Radiohead’s “Creep”, REM’s “Losing My Religion” and Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence”. Above them hung black streams of tinsel, which looked like the tape you’d find coiled in cassettes.

The collection was divided into two parts – first up was a desire to “re-think and re-work the DNA of the brand”: the black suit and the white shirt. “How can we re-make that and deconstruct it for the future?” was the question Van Assche posed. The answer was to approach the suit in what he called a “radical” new way: the first silhouettes were a menswear take on Christian Dior’s classic Bar silhouette for women while the backs of jackets were cut away to reveal bondage-like straps which bisected the t-shirts beneath. Some pieces saw sleeves chopped off entirely to become scarves wrapped around the neck, and trousers were blown up into raver-wide, JNCO-like proportions, or else replaced by super short shorts. In a direct tribute to the house, the address of the Rue de Marignan atelier appeared prominently, featuring on bags, tops, shirts, pins and more.

But there was also an ode to American adolescence – with varsity jackets and prints, a heavy sportswear theme, and what Van Assche said was a tribute to the all American prom night – when young men might put on their first suit. “For me it’s just youth culture, street culture,” he noted of the Stateside references – which have also been a famous source of inspiration for fellow Belgian, Raf Simons. “When I was 15 we all looked at America for that. Some of those memories come back… but now that street culture is everywhere, it’s worldwide.” One phrase came splashed across multiple pieces: “LATE NIGHT SUMMER”. “I really wanted to evoke when you get to stay out the whole night for the first time,” he says. “The sky’s the limit – having beers, your first boyfriend or girlfriend, that idea of becoming aware that the way you dress is going to help you socialise and exist, really.”

Trainers were matched with every look – like when teenage boys kick off their school shoes as soon as the bell rings and put on their freshest pair of sneakers. There was also a collaboration with artist Francois Bard, whose work depicts 21st century scenes – men in caps, trainers and hoodies – in fine art oil paintings. Similar to Van Assche’s own work, his practice mixes the contemporary and street with elevated, precisely honed techniques. The designer even has some of Bard’s pieces at home. “I think he has a very traditional way of portraying something very modern, so I very much like his work,” he praises. Beneath it all was an exploration of the line between boyishness and manhood, those moments young men start to discover their style, begin to dress with intent: “The idea of these guys at college… how do they enter into this process of seduction or being more sexy? By cutting off their sleeves, making their own necklaces… but with little skulls because of course they’re still tough.”

While some designers might be getting restless after such a long time, Van Assche seems perfectly content. The rest of the industry, it should be noted, appears to be in a near-constant state of flux, with new moves announced regularly and one designer – Justin O’Shea, hired at Brioni – only lasting a single season in his new job. “It feels like I’m growing into a new chapter, it doesn’t really feel like I’ve been doing the same thing for 10 years,” Van Assche says. He cites the decision to shake up the campaign team and start working with David Sims as an example – “I’m reinventing it because I want to change it on a high. I don’t want to get into a comfort zone.” That’s the risk of working in a big house, he admits: “You know the expectations, you know what will sell, what people will like. But in the end I really realised with my own label – I’m not having enough fun with this. So I had to clean everything out and I started having more fun here.” It’s certainly paying off.

Business Of Fashion – 24 juin 2017

Teenage Nights at Dior Homme

By Tim Blanks

The power of smell is such that when the first astronauts went into space, they carried vials of different scents as reassuring reminders of Planet Earth. The one that spoke most to happy memories was apparently fresh grass. It certainly worked that way for Kris Van Assche, whose latest show for Dior Homme, Late Night Summer was primed with his recollections of adolescence and staged on a carpet of grass that smelled almost overpoweringly summery.

The massive curtains of dark tape that hung above it might have been an abstract rendition of a night sky, but I thought of cassette tape too, and teenage boys like Assche slaving over compilations for their Walkmans. Frederic Sanchez struck all the right notes with his soundtrack: Radiohead’s Creep, Depeche’s Enjoy the Silence, REM’s Losing My Religion, Black’s Wonderful Life… more happy memories.

There was a sweatshirt in the show embroidered with a painting of flowers by the artist Francois Bard, whose pictures of boys in hoodies Van Assche also duplicated. Bard used some words in his original work, which the designer loosely translated as, “Time is only catching those who ignore it.” Van Assche has never been in any danger of that. He’s always been acutely aware of the passage of time, even more so this season as he celebrates his 10th year at Dior, which is also the house’s 70th anniversary.

The first half of the show was Van Assche’s reflection on what he considers to be the DNA of Dior menswear, a black suit and white shirt. His dissection was thorough, from an opening look where, for the first time, he offered a male take on the classic “veste de bar”, very tailored with a suppressed waist. Next, the jacket was sleeveless, paired with short shorts, gym shorts really, except they were in black ottoman wool. A little later, there was a tailcoat, Van Assche’s favourite piece in the collection, “because it was the most challenging.” It was cut on the bias, a break with tradition that gave the atelier’s tailors nightmares, according to the designer. Its formality was defused by being shown inside out and paired, again, with those shorts. And, again, it was also shown sleeveless. The orphaned sleeves were used in the collection as scarves or casually knotted round waists.

If that first half of the show was a celebration of his professional life — the address of the atelier was used as a decorative ribbon detail down a sleeve or writ small as a pinstripe — the second half was personal. “Late night summer, when we were kids staying out all night for the first time, drinking beers, falling in love…” Van Assche based these looks on school uniforms, with sweatshirts and bombers printed with a college-like logo, or those Bard images of hoodies.

He mentioned the “attitude of the street” often. Every model wore trainers. Some also wore necklaces that were supposed to look like they’d strung them themselves, from dice and skulls and shells. And there were so many more of the shorts that the teenage gam is incontrovertibly confirmed as the primary male erogenous zone of Spring 2018.

But (and there is always a “but” with KVA) something else Van Assche said illuminated why his signature hybrid of sport and tailoring will always err on the side of the latter, so that even the raging hormones of adolescence were subsumed here by adult abstemiousness. I asked about his own summer late nights, his own bittersweet memories of adolescent firsts. “I was way too good,” he answered ruefully. “That’s why I have to live it now.” So it’s all a fantasy. But, after a certain point, time will catch you, and it’s just too late.

SHOWstudio – 24 juin 2017

Lou Stoppard reports on the Comme des Garçons Homme Plus show

For seasons, we’ve all been complaining shows are mundane, repetitive, similar, safe. Kawakubo’s message, straight after opening her retrospective, is that she’s still setting the pace.
Comme des Garçons Made Me Hardcore. Rei Kawakubo has lots of reasons to celebrate – a stellar exhibition dedicated to her work opened recently at the Met’s Costume Institute in New York. It’s the second ever solo show to be dedicated to a living designer (the first was Yves Saint Laurent in 1983). Quite the achievement. So no wonder she was in the mood for a party.

Her past few collections have felt concerned, compassionate, reflective. Themes of war, displacement and masculinity have dominated her work. This was a more optimistic affair – what says optimism more than sparkle? Or disco lights? Or dancing? DJ extraordinaire Frédéric Sanchez set the mood and amped up the nostalgia by playing Supernature. Models danced with varying degrees of awkwardness. That added to the success of the show. The mood wasn’t mindless fun and happy hedonism. More that euphoric, urgent escapism of moving clumsily in a club – of whiling away hours on the dancing floor, bumping into fellow revellers, searching for meaning, looking for love. Models looked like boys at the end of the night, keen to find some vague purpose to keep them going for a few more hours.

Sounds fun? Yes, but there was depth too. The collection was dubbed What’s On The Inside Matters – strangely ironic, given that nights out are almost entirely about surface and luring others in with outfits, knowing glances and moves. The title was a reference to the clothes – jackets were almost entirely worn inside out. Only a Comme des Garçons jacket could be so beautiful that the internal panels, crafted often in florals or busy patterns, could look so at home on the outside. Three special styles were made in collaboration with Mona Luison, a textile sculptor whose work is childlike and warped, hence all those doll heads and terrifying baby faces. These pieces were the stuff of nightmares – a perfect version of a bad trip. For the finale, all the models reappeared on the square elevated platform that formed Kawakubo’s runway. They bopped mindlessly, bumping into each other, striking poses for the photographers. Close your eyes slightly and it looked like a scene from a Mark Leckey art film. As the last one left, and the music began to fade, the clapping began. It didn’t stop even after the lights went up and the sound finished. At most shows, just as the final model disappears from view, the front row leap to attention, rushing for the door. Here, we all stayed. Clapping. Smiling. Wishing for more. For seasons, we’ve all been complaining shows are mundane, repetitive, similar, safe. Kawakubo’s message, straight after opening her retrospective, is that she’s still setting the pace. After that, others need to work much harder.

Business Of Fashion – 24 juin 2017

Fierce Optimism at Comme Des Garçons Homme Plus

By Tim Blanks

Elevated catwalks are anathema to Rei Kawakubo, but the raised square that filled the centre of the Salle Wagram for Comme Des Garcons’ show on Friday afternoon looked a lot like a dancefloor in a nightclub. And sure enough, when Frederic Sanchez’s soundtrack blared and the coloured spots started to spin and a passel of boys shuffled onto the floor, Comme54 sprang into awkward life.

Kawakubo gave Sanchez a one-word brief: DISCO! He mutated it a little: as much disco as a skewed spin on rave. The clothes followed suit: Madchester made even madder, like the models’ Liam Gallagher hairdos, exaggerated and drowned in sparkly gloop. Glitter cascaded over Comme signatures like the baggy shorts and the elongated, voluminous jackets.

Kawakubo’s message was this: What’s on the inside matters. All the jackets were turned inside out. So the incredible patchwork of sparkle, fake fur and animal print that we saw was actually a lining? You could scarcely picture a more vivid analogy for the crazy turmoil of anyone’s inner life at this particular moment in the decline and fall of western civilization. But it was so upbeat, sweet even. There were shirts and waistcoats that looked like they’d been composed of candy. And the stumbling self-consciousness of the models (who really wants to dance in front of an audience?) was a charming antidote to the otherwise-frostiness of this season’s runways. The takeaway was a fierce optimism. It’s not always been an attitude that easily attaches itself to Comme des Garcons (collaborator Mona

The takeaway was a fierce optimism. It’s not always been an attitude that easily attaches itself to Comme des Garcons (collaborator Mona Luison’s doll-parts jackets harked back to Kawakubo’s ability to effortlessly disconcert) , but in the wake of a major exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum, the designer’s unique position in fashion has been brought to the fascinated attention of a much wider audience. You have to imagine that feels good. Well, something made her want to throw a party.

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Business Of Fashion – 18 juin 2017

A Graphic Pradaworld

In the face of so much conceptual complexity in her art world, Miuccia Prada opted for simplicity — the human touch — in her fashion world.

By Tim Blanks

Miuccia Prada hasn’t seen any of David Lynch’s new Twin Peaks. “I’m keeping it for the summer,” she said cheerily, “on the boat, when I’m bored.” It will be fascinating to hear her verdict, especially in light of the men’s show she presented on Sunday night, which she initially described as the result of her feeling “trapped between virtual reality and humanity.”

That seems to be more or less what is happening to everyone in Lynchland, with occasionally horrific results. No horror in Prada, of course, but the same effort to reconcile our primal human physicality (“Live real, love real, die real,” as Miuccia said) and the vast, unpredictable unknowability of almost everything else. Lynch advocates surrender to chaos, Prada is still bent on extracting some kind of order from it all.

That’s why she’d fallen in love with comics: their simple frame-by-frame logic, the humanity of the handmade. At the same time, Miuccia found their peculiar stop/start quality appealing. It’s a lot like life. “They’re the opposite of fake virtual reality, but at the same time they’re very fragmented.” In commissioning a couple of artists to create graphic analogies for her state of mind, she’d asked that they “do stories, push the human touch, not too superhero.”

The Prada showspace was lined with huge dislocated frames, alienation writ super-large. On Prada’s Instagram, the frames were allowed to form into short vignettes that offered a more cohesive glimpse of narrative possibility. Maybe that in itself was exactly the juxtaposition Miuccia was addressing. “You have to embrace the new world, but you don’t want to lose your essential humanity,” she mused. “Do you put them together, or keep them separate? The whole world is facing this challenge.”

Never mind that her challenge was to somehow convey all this in a collection of clothing. Truth be told, it was one of those seasons where the ebb and flow of the designer’s thought processes were more entrancing than the physical expression of those processes. Right now, the Fondazione Prada in Milan is showing a virtual reality piece by the director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu that is wringing tears from viewers. Meanwhile, the Fondazione Prada in Venice has a fourway between artist Thomas Demand, filmmaker Alexander Kluge, costume designer Anna Viebrock and curator Udo Kittelmann that is the most extraordinary, engulfing experience, literally stepping through a door (actually, there are many doors to choose from) into a parallel reality. (Lynch again!) So it was understandable that, in the face of so much conceptual complexity in her art world, Miuccia would opt for simplicity – the human touch – in her fashion world.

My takeaway from the show was a jumpsuit. “I’m crazy about jumpsuits,” Miuccia enthused. “I fell in love, no reason. Probably because it’s simple.” As well as which, it tied into the collection’s utilitarian subtext of functional human clothing (the apotheosis of the bumbag, right here, right now). Concerned that simplicity might be edging towards naivete, Miuccia weighted a number of looks with big heavy classic coats in flannel and herringbone. “The right counterpart,” she decided. “That’s just fashion.”

Frederic Sanchez’s soundtrack switched between New Wave radio stations, and all at once, the boys on the runway were cool kids in the 80s, with their semi-Stray Cat dos, and their Joe Jackson shoes, collars turned up, pants hitched high. And those coats, borrowed from dad, or pinched from a second-hand shop. In its own perverse way, it was a vision of innocence, comic strip clarity in a world spinning out of control. We know what happens to innocents in Lynchland. Can they survive in Pradaworld?

System Magazine – 02 juin 2017

My studio is more than a place of experimentation. It’s an extension of my own mind.’

The work and inspirations of one of fashion’s go-to music men.

By Frédéric Sanchez

Music-producer, Frédéric Sanchez, can be considered more than that. Known for featuring complex loops in his compositions, and creating audio-visual “soundscapes” with original films, Sanchez is best described as a sound-artist. The latter title, “artist”, is often also assigned to those Sanchez has collaborated with for many years, producing music for the shows of designers Martin Margiela, Miuccia Prada, and Rei Kawakubo at Comme des Garçons.

Sanchez revisited his archive for System, reworking footage from his various projects for a film that showcases his body of work, and the space in which it was created: his studio. Read Sanchez on the significance of this space, in his own words, below.

“My studio has become more than a place of experimentation; it’s like an extension of my own mind. With the many connections that are made, and interrupted there, it’s a space that leads me down previously unknown paths. Those paths meander and merge, responding to one another before inspiring something different – a new image. I give this new image to the viewers, who can then perceive it with their own emotions and dream up their own interpretation.”

For more from Frédéric Sanchez, read his conversation with fellow music producer, Michel Gaubert, in System No. 9. Click to buy.

Credits: Roma by Federico Fellini (1972), The Last of England by Derek Jarman (1988), Martin Margiela at Café de la Gare, Station Saint-Martin (1992), Siouxsie and the Banshees, Martine Sitbon at Elysée Montmartre (2008), Evening of Light by François De Menil (1969), Barbara Sukowa, Francesco Vezzoli, Visage, Vivienne Westwood’s ‘Café Society’ (1994), Merce Cunningham, Michael Clarke, Brian Eno, Roxy Music, Virgin Prunes, Prada, Comme des Garçons at Elysée Montmartre, Patrice Chéreau’s Bayreuth, Dior Homme, Last Year in Marienbad by Alain Resnais (1861), And the Ship Sails On by Federico Fellini (1983).

Le Monde – 09 mai 2017

Prada et ses fantaisies sucrées

Robes aux nuances de bonbons, blousons de nylon soufflé, imprimés lapin, Prada a présenté à Milan une première collection croisière faussement légère.

Par Carine Bizet

Dimanche, pour son premier défilé croisière, Prada a accueilli ses invités au nouveau restaurant Marchesi, à l’étage de sa boutique historique de la galerie Vittorio Emanuele II, à Milan. En 2014, la griffe italienne avait acheté ce salon de thé emblématique, fondé en 1824. Quel rapport entre les gourmandises de Marchesi et le luxe Prada ? Ces gâteaux à l’épaisse enveloppe sucrée et pastel, mi-kitsch, mi-désuets, révèlent des couches subtiles aux textures surprenantes, et sont un peu les allégories hypercaloriques de la mode Prada.

De la douceur, la marque peut en avoir besoin : le groupe Prada (qui rassemble aussi Church’s et Jil Sander) annonçait pour 2016 une baisse de 9 % de son chiffre d’affaires. S’inviter parmi les maisons du luxe qui mettent en scène leurs collections croisière n’est pas une dépense supplémentaire inconsidérée. A l’heure où le marché est malmené et saturé, les marques sont priées de se distinguer. Et à ce jeu, Miuccia Prada ne craint personne : il existe bien une esthétique Prada, mieux, un point de vue sur le monde, fait de dissonances et de faux-semblants.

Une fois les sucreries pastel dégustées, le public grimpe deux étages pour se retrouver sous le dôme de verre et métal de la galerie Vittorio Emanuele, et assister au défilé lui-même. Miuccia Prada adore les rondeurs de l’endroit, où son partenaire de toujours, l’architecte Rem Koolhaas, a installé un décor de miroirs qui démultiplie l’espace et file la métaphore des faux-semblants et des rencontres inattendues, celle qui guide toute la collection. Robes en organza superposé aux nuances de bonbons pastel et chaussettes de sport portées avec des talons aux architectures art déco, blousons de nylon soufflé et jupe portefeuille fermée d’une plaque de gomme gravée, imprimés lapins très Lewis Carroll, grands manteaux décolletés aux tombés sensuels et austères à la fois, chemise translucide piquée de bijoux graphiques façon Chrysler Building, robes bustier en coton à poches zippées et basket techniques… le mélange est fluide et vertigineux.

« Les formes se métamorphosent du sport à l’élégance, résume la créatrice. L’aspect érotique est lié à une forme de censure : quand j’étais jeune, on pouvait se promener à moitié nue, mais aujourd’hui, parce qu’il faut respecter les cultures et les religions, ce n’est plus possible. » De ce mélange s’impose une féminité complexe, moderne et opiniâtre, comme son auteure. « Je déteste tout ce qui contraint la femme à adhérer à une version “officielle” du beau. Déjouer ce conformisme est mon obsession, je n’utilise ces stéréotypes qu’avec beaucoup d’ironie. » Féministe par nature et conviction, Miuccia Prada n’a pas besoin de tee-shirts à messages pour le dire. Et son message est ici d’autant plus convaincant qu’elle paraît avoir retrouvé une légèreté, un sens de la simplicité raffinée.
Il semblerait que l’exercice de la croisière, qui permet de s’extraire des Fashion Weeks où l’on n’a le temps de rien et où il faut en faire beaucoup pour retenir l’attention, autorise la créatrice à s’exprimer avec moins d’urgence et de tension. Et elle a aussi décidé de donner un nouveau souffle à son travail : « Je souhaite désormais me montrer plus réaliste et honnête, pas seulement faire ce que j’aime et ce que je pense avoir du sens mais ce qui est utile pour aujourd’hui. S’isoler dans un monde de sophistication ne permet pas de progresser. Vous pouvez être le plus grand génie du monde mais si personne ne vous écoute, cela ne sert à rien. Je veux continuer à me confronter à la banalité et à la vulgarité, mais sans être isolée. »

Miuccia Prada poursuit donc son chemin entourée d’une équipe fidèle qui connaît bien son monde, comme Rem Koolhaas et Frédéric Sanchez, qui met en son ses défilés et a composé cette fois une mosaïque subtile et bluffante (la musique électronique de Mirwais, la voix du mannequin des années 1970 Veruschka, des reprises de Tchaïkovski par Malcolm McLaren, etc.).

Et puis il y a le bel « appendice » de son univers : la fondation Prada où elle orchestre ses goûts personnels en matière d’art. La présentation de la croisière coïncide d’ailleurs avec le vernissage de la nouvelle exposition de Francesco Vezzoli, ami et collaborateur de longue date, une œuvre consacrée à la télévision italienne des années 1970. Dans une mise en scène pop et très « cronenbergienne » (période Vidéodrome), l’artiste revisite et confronte, grâce à des installations vidéo, de riches univers : la variété délirante et désinhibée qui glorifiait la Cicciolina (présente à la soirée) ou Grace Jones, mais aussi les journaux télévisés ensanglantés par les attentats de l’extrême gauche italienne. Là encore, il est question d’éclectisme, de confrontations de contraires pour exprimer une réalité complexe. Comme chez Prada.

Business Of Fashion – 09 mai 2017

At Prada Cruise, New Heights of Spiky Femininity

The collection was a fabulously feisty female manifesto to the world of old white men who go on grabbing at the headlines.

BY TIM BLANKS

MILAN, Italy — This resort season is air miles madness for the hardy few prepared to chase fashion shows across the globe. Miuccia Prada opted for intelligent restraint. She showed at home, in Milan, but her choice of venue was so extraordinary and the bolt-on – an evening at the Fondazione Prada with Francesco Vezzoli’s new show « TV70″ – so stimulating, that I doubt there was a soul who missed the experiential thrill of a far-off land.

Miuccia presented five floors above the original Prada shop in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world’s grandest – and oldest – malls (150 years-plus, if you’re counting). We looked out over the rusted industrial bones of the dome and the arcade, a vantage point so rare it was enough to make you feel like the Phantom alone in his opera house. And all that metallic, masculine grandiosity seemed to provoke Miuccia to new heights of spiky femininity. Pink and pastel, feathers and crystal, scalloped hems of lace on filmy lingerie, delicate layers of transparency…she’d expressed ambiguous feelings about these traditional tokens of seduction after her collection in February, but the world continues to change at warp speed, and the impulse to co-opt and subvert, always an impetus in Miuccia’s work, can only have grown stronger.

She said she’d been thinking about modernism before she decided to show in the Galleria, a building which was, in its day, the elegant apogee of modernist architecture. Once the venue was chosen, she set out to marry that modernist elegance to the spirit she isolated as its contemporary equivalent in fashion: the lean, active, body-conscious essence of sportswear. But we are talking about Prada here, so the marriage was consummated under a topsheet of tantalizing perversity. Frederic Sanchez’s soundtrack used snippets from Francis Lai’s score for David Hamilton’s 1977 scandal-fest « Bilitis. » The soft-focus eroticism of that movie was reflected in a collection which luxuriated in a Lolita-like prettiness. Kate Moss in the first flush of her career came to mind: the feathered headbands, the pigtails, the provokingly sheer layers designed to exercise Prudence McPrude, the Mayoress of Prudie Town. Longtime Prada collaborator James Jean contributed an art nouveau graphic of frolicking bunnies.

It could have been cute, but Miuccia Prada doesn’t do cute. The kick in this collection was the sport. The first look – a black hoodie with Elizabethan sleeves over a sheer black skirt over a white slip and schoolgirl kneesocks with Chicklet and Concetta heels – was a virtual manifesto. Beauty with balls. And so it went on, a fabulously feisty female fuck-you to the world of old white men who go on grabbing at headlines with their self-aggrandising last gasps. There was a moment, not so long ago, when the Prada mojo went AWOL. On Sunday, that moment was a distant memory.

Business Of Fashion – 09 mars 2017

Engaging Escape at Miu Miu

The Miu Miu show fizzed with surreal joie de vivre, while the diversity of the casting energised both the collection and its designer.

Miuccia Prada gave full rein to her ambiguous feelings about glamour this season: its “stupidity” in Milan, its “madness” in Paris. Ambiguity should always look this good. In both cities, she mounted shows that fizzed with surreal joie de vivre.

Or maybe “fuzzed” is more appropriate. For her Miu Miu presentation on Tuesday afternoon, the entire venue was coated with sinus-tickling fake fur in a lurid shade of purple (the invitation was furry too). And the collection used the faux to maximum effect (except when it was fox): big coats, big collars and big caps, a full-on challenge to restraint in a palette that started with Singapore sling and ended on pink gin fizz.

Insert your own cocktail of choice. The point is, Miu Miu was in a party mood, with De La Soul underscoring the uplift. Prada dressed 21st century flappers in paillette-ed and feathery slips then wrapped them in lush, cocooning coats.

The same coats swathed silken loungewear last seen in Jean Harlow’s boudoir. The broad-shouldered, nipped-waist silhouettes echoed the 40s (in 80s activewear), the telephone and kittykat prints had a kitschy early 60s flavor. In other words, the collection was all times, and no time — or at least, no time that wasn’t a glamorous good time. And the footwear was nothing short of fabulous.

This season has offered a couple of clear choices: engage or escape. Miuccia Prada may have covered both bases. As exuberant as she was about “the madness of glamour,” she was even more enthusiastic about the casting for the MiuMiu show, as diverse as any we saw during these past few weeks when a vital new vigilance has arisen around the challenges facing women and girls inside and outside the industry. If it energised her show, it also energised her. And there’s a lesson for fashion’s old guard.

Neue Luxury – 08 mars 2017

CRAIG GREEN : Romance and Optimism
BY OSMAN AHMED

It’s a rare moment when fashion editors are moved to tears at a fashion show. Of course, there are stories of audiences weeping at the hands of Helmut Lang and Martin Margiela, but that was over two decades ago, way before the industry reached the apex of corporate capacity and widespread cynicism ensued. Imagine the sense of palpable optimism and sincerity that filled the Bloomsbury basement in 2014 where Craig Green would present Silent Protest, his first solo show since graduating from Central Saint Martins. It ended with a substantial part of the audience speechless and somewhat embarrassed by the glistening beads rolling down their cheeks. To use one of the industry’s favourite phrases, it was a fashion moment.

“It wasn’t a protest about anything specifically,” says Green, recalling the moment that struck a chord with his audience. “I just thought there was something really beautiful about that idea. It doesn’t start from a statement, like, ‘I’ve got something to say’. It starts with blocks of colour and fabric and thinking, isn’t there something beautiful about that? Or how can we make tarpaulin fabric look spiritual? It’s what’s used on construction sites, but we quilted it and deconstructed it, and mixed with sails and flags felt right in a weird futuristic way.” Green is being modest and like many designers, he is reticent when it comes to imbuing his work with meaning or intent. “I think the work should start conversation and discussion, but I can’t tell people what to think,” he reasons in his warm estuary twang. “I was thinking about this in relation to art … And the difference between what the artist says it is about, and what people view it as. Which is the truth and which is more important?”

Green’s collections get better every season, partly thanks to the stoic focus on his own evergreen interests: romantic and pragmatic variations of functionality through the looking glass of Ruskinian handcraft. On one hand, there’s the muslin trailing monastic sensuality in the form of intricate low-fi construction and barefoot styling—knotted together judo strings, billowing loosely slung trousers and ritualistically swathed washed silk straps and wraps travelling around the body. On the other, a consideration of functionality and workwear with much harder edged sensibility—quilted and padded cricketing panels akin to bullet proof vests, plasticised weather resistant fabrics and severely-strapped hooded hazmat suits. It’s no wonder that his work has already been acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute and The Design Museum in London, as well as winning best British Menswear Designer at the 2016 Fashion Awards.

“I’ve always been fascinated with that idea of a communal way of dress and it being a way of grouping people together,” he offers as an explanation to his self-proclaimed cult like vision. “My MA collection was about the relationship between workwear and religious wear, and how one was for function and one was for spiritual or imagined function. They have such similarities between them in terms of their utilitarian, simple nature.” Green insists that uniformity is at the heart of his work. His shows are increasingly split into distinct chapters of four or five looks that explore a singular idea, technique or aesthetic. “It has uniformity from the beginning—even before there’s clothing. I want it to look like an army, or march, or groups of people.”

For his Autumn/Winter 2016 show, Green sent down one of his best collections to date. The show opened with models wrapped, strapped and tied up in tailored hazmat suits, which unfolded into hypochondriacally protective wear. Hoods were drawn tightly around the face, with added straps to hold them in place. “They’re to keep out germs,” Green clarified. What appeared at first to be a message of restraint, became a story of sensitivity and self preservation with heavyweight cotton coats dissected by lacing or buttons only half fastened—as if caught in a moment before furling away. These were clothes that armoured against the madness of the world and its exhausting pace, whilst commenting on the vulnerability of living in it.

“This is going to sound really pessimistic, but there’s always that feeling of protection and that’s what clothing is,” says Green. That show came at a time when Britain and America were gearing up towards major political events, and at a time when fashion had accelerated to an unsustainable speed, culminating in several major brands installing revolving doors for its creative directors. Green admitted that “The shows are about trying to project an emotion. It’s about what feels right at that time and what would be exciting to see.”

Green’s Spring/Summer 2017 show was poetry in motion. It marked a collaboration with music producer Frédéric Sanchez, who compiled a soundtrack that journeyed through variations of Roy Harper’s Another Day, with layers of sound from Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel, Elizabeth Fraser and Oliver Coates. “We always try and do something slightly nostalgic and emotional,” laughs Green. “The first sample he sent was it, so we had the music before we had the collection.” The result was so utterly romantic that it somewhat washed away the harsh climate of the political landscape. “I think you have to be optimistic when you do this, you’re constantly looking forward and trying to excite. I try and find the romantic quality in things and that’s always the challenge.”

Business Of Fashion – 05 mars 2017


Essential Evolution at Comme des Garçons

BY TIM BLANKS

PARIS, France — “The future of silhouette” was Rei Kawakubo’s description of her new collection, but it could equally have been silhouette’s past that inspired her. Her designs exploded the female form into primal shapes that looked as much Stone Age as they did Space Age. Either way, they sidestepped any fashion consideration as efficiently as her defiantly non-fashion choice of materials. Nothing woven. That much we were told. We might have been looking at crumpled brown paper, a fake reptile texture composed of chemical by-products, the felt blankets that moving companies use, cotton wadding from a medical facility, silver foil…

And it was beautiful. Beautiful like the Venus of Willendorf. Beautiful like Warhol’s Silver Clouds. There were recognisable human forms in the exaggerated shapes. I’d swear I could see a figure with its hands thrust deep in pockets, for instance. One shape was belted. Another looked like a biker jacket melted in primordial heat.

It often seems like a Comme des Garçons show simply happens, beginning and ending quite randomly. With the upcoming show at the Met, a different level of scrutiny will be applied to everything the label does. One thing that was striking about Saturday’s presentation was its performance aspect: the placing and use of the suspended spotlights; the movement of the models, warily circling each other; Frederic Sanchez’s soundtrack, of course, which used the chill, drifting electronica of Biosphere, the Norwegian musician who once recorded the noise made by the Northern Lights.

There was a quiet deliberation to all of this which heightened an eldritch sense of drama, of something pre — or more likely post —human. These weren’t so much clothes as they were evolving thought processes. And they highlighted how essential such evolution is.

Vogue – 04 mars 2017

Meet Prada’s Music Man—And Hear His Fantastical Playlist for Vogue

by FERNANDO DIAS DE SOUZA

When I saw Frédéric Sanchez’s working files for the music for a Prada show, I understood the beauty and complexity of his craft: endless sound pieces, masterfully layered, finding harmony in chaos.
You might be familiar with his work. In addition to sound installations, music production, and artistic collaborations, Sanchez has been the sonic illustrator behind the sound of Prada, Christian Dior, Miu Miu, Comme des Garçons, and many other great brands. His approach to work is completely artistic: composing sound sequences from scratch.
We spoke to the French artist about his approach to work, his relationship with sound, and his exclusively curated Vogue playlist, which he titled “Musée Imaginaire.”
Hello Frédéric, can you talk a little bit about the “Musée Imaginaire” playlist you made for us?
Hello! This playlist is almost autobiographical; in a way, all these pieces of music really represent my taste. There are some artists who are very important to me, like the first track with Robert Wyatt, the drummer of Soft Machine, he did a few records that are so interesting and collaborations with a few musicians from jazz, rock, to experimental and other things. And it’s true that from these people, I learned very young, I learned a lot about music, but it’s where all my culture comes from. Also books, theater, opera, you know what I mean? I’ve been myself through these artists. Sound is very important for me because I express myself through sound.
The first track comes from Brian Eno’s record label in the ’70s called Obscure Records. All the Obscure Records covers are black, very beautiful, like video stills of buildings. They did a few very interesting records. There’s about 15 of them, including one with a John Cage piece of Robert Wyatt singing a cappella and another with an English composer called Gavin Bryars who worked on a piece called “The Sinking of the Titanic.” It’s a 27-minute piece that is very, very beautiful. I really like the John Cale piece, the speaking part where a woman talks about what you hear on the radio, at the beginning. The radio was very important to me when I was younger.
I also put this piece in my playlist called “Memories” with Whitney Houston, by a band called Material. They were incredible musicians. That was really the beginning of hip-hop, in the early ’80s with people like Grandmaster Flash. It was very related to Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. There’s this incredible jazz musician called Archie Shepp in the track, and what is interesting is that I think it’s one of the first recordings of Whitney Houston—and this song was written by Robert Wyatt. It’s all kind of connected. The song after, “Torture” by Kris Jensen, was in Scorpio Rising, a movie by Kenneth Anger. It’s an incredible film, almost like video art, using all this music from the ’50s and ’60s.
Listen to a preview of Sanchez’s playlist here.

How does something like books or even opera come into play in your work?
Opera has been very important to me since I was young. I had an aesthetic shock that was very important, that comes from theater. For example, at the end of the ’70s, there’s a German tango piece in the playlist from Juan Llossas. This piece, for example, comes from a Pina Bausch ballet. This is very important. At the end of the ’70s, I saw a Kurt Weill opera and I remember I saw this piece near my studio. The set there was neon lights, and the musicians came from the Krautrock universe. I think they were musicians from a German band called Ash Ra Tempel. It was synthesizer. That made me interested in, of course, German music, but also in old German music like Kurt Weill or Richard Wagner, and also in Bertolt Brecht plays. So from one thing . . . it’s what you call in French arborescence, suddenly it becomes sort of like a spider and your mind is going to different worlds. This is how I base my work, and this was very important for the work I started after. You know, in fashion a lot of people work with mood boards, images they put on a wall. And so the first time that I started working with a fashion designer, I already knew this language. I had no idea about fashion when I started working with fashion; I was more into music. When I was 14, 15, I was very influenced by the avant-garde, Pina Bausch, like I said. I think that when I started working with Martin Margiela at the end of the ’80s, his language and his way of working, I knew it instinctively, so suddenly I wanted to push further in that direction. His way of manipulating images was my work; I was manipulating sound images. That’s why I’m telling you that all these pieces I chose represent my work; they are a little bit like my mood board.
Talking about mood boards, when I saw the software you use to compose the tracks, and there was a working file on-screen, it was amazing to see the number of sound layers you use.
Yes, that’s the way I work. Usually when I start a project, it comes from images, it can be film, it can be from theater or opera, it can be photos, or even images I take myself. When I compose my own music, it always comes from images that I create. If you go to my website, all images on the homepage are mine. I call this composition “Film Sonore.” There’s a very fine line between sound and images for me; for me it’s exactly the same.
Since the beginning of my interest in music, album covers were very important. There are lots of artists that I discovered through the covers alone. Sometimes I was so fascinated by the artwork. I remember a band called Japan, there was an album called Gentlemen Take Polaroids, and the other one was Tin Drum, that was very influenced by Japanese aesthetic—I love those covers. It’s also how I discovered fashion because when I saw, for example, someone like Peter Saville was doing the covers for the Factory records like Joy Division and all that, and also in the ’80s doing Yohji Yamamoto catalogues. I was very interested in fashion because of this. So my interest in all of this comes from image.

When did you start your work with fashion?
I started when I stopped school; I didn’t know what I wanted to do and I had the opportunity to meet two designers who were very important to me, Martine Sitbon and Martin Margiela. During their first shows, it was sort of a collaborative work, and there was a big research process. For example, for Margiela’s first show, I really did what best represents my work. In a way, I was not mixing the music because at the time I didn’t consider my work the one of a musician or a producer; the approach was almost of editing cinema. So many of my first soundtracks were made with cuts, taking track one after the other. There were maybe 20 different pieces of music that were taped in a very raw way, in a way not very well done. I like the fact that if a record was scratching, I would leave the scratch sound; if it was not loud enough, I would put everything to the maximum volume. With Martin, the format of fashion shows changed; shows suddenly became more like performances, so I created soundtracks that went with this idea, continuous soundtracks that told a story from beginning to end. Later, I pushed this idea further with Marc Jacobs. We were using just one piece of music per show, which was very much “What you show is one idea,” very precise. I remember for his third show, we did the entire show with a record from Elastica when it came out, and then later we started to work with one piece of music. When we found the right piece, Marc was playing it over and over in the studio, like an obsession.

This repetition, the droning sound, is very much the Krautrock you mentioned before.
Yes, and all that I’m telling you at the moment, I did it naturally and then after, I discovered that people actually worked that way. For example, someone like Terry Riley, who’s so important, he was doing this thing with two tape recorders, which is called “Time Lag Accumulator.” He recorded a delay and the delay never stopped. This type of process of making music also influenced artists like Brian Eno, Robert Fripp; they used this idea of how to work with the delay. Now you can buy this little device, the Buddha Machine, which are loops. It plays loops. They just did one with Philip Glass. I’ve also been very influenced by American minimalist artists like Charles Ives, for example. There’s this piece called “The Unanswered Question,” it’s used in a Scorsese movie, I think Shutter Island. This piece for me is one of the basis of minimalist music. Then there’s another composer called Morton Feldman. In France, we have Erik Satie, he is very important to what I call “furniture music,” music that creates an environment, like how sound creates architecture in the architecture.
During Fashion Week, you must normally have a lot of work. When does it normally start for you?
When I started, it was kind of long, the process, and now it has become very last minute. At the moment, it’s all changing. I try to work with more time in advance, because I really want to feel this sort of creative process again. If you work too much last minute, it’s not relevant enough. There are also many things that have changed, for example, for a brand like Prada, I do the music for the show, but I also compose for the Internet, so it’s like I’m doing both things at the same time, and it takes me longer to compose the music for the website than to do the soundtrack of the show. I prefer to do many things for one designer and to do research all the time. There are so many things online that to create something new, it’s much trickier. There’s too much of everything and you can feel a little lost. So I think, in a way, starting earlier, talking a lot, it’s very important for me to communicate in order to create things.

In the most recent Dior Homme show, the music sounds like hard techno, but I don’t know if you would label it like that . . .
There were many elements. There was a sort of New Wave element. Kris Van Assche showed me this artist called Dan Witz, who made very beautiful photographs of people like they are in a rave; they are almost like 19th-century paintings. So there were these two elements, something quite classic and something quite punk, rave, that kind of thing. You feel that again in these photographs. The music was inspired by a rave, very electronic, with sounds of New Wave, but there was also a ceremonial feeling, so I picked this piece, from Depeche Mode, “Black Celebration.” We decided that if you go to a rave, it’s like going to a celebration of something, the same sort of feeling. There’s something religious about it. It’s the second time I worked with Kris Van Assche and I have developed the idea with him that the music could travel in the space where the show happens, meaning it plays in different speakers. The final result was very much like a sound installation, like a sort of kaleidoscope of sound. This one, for example, I worked on very far in advance. We started talking about it in November because after working in the music, there was the work of the sound in the space. It comes from my personal work; I do a lot of sound installations, sometimes with 50 speakers in a space.

When you are in the process of developing a soundtrack, do you listen to a lot of music or is it all in your head and you work from there?
I listen to a lot of music, of course. I also listen to everything new that comes out, but also, I go through things that I have in my head. What is important is that I compose music, too, so the moment that I start researching for my personal work, new ideas come in my mind. That’s why I don’t have one genre of music I draw from; I look into everything. It can come from jazz, punk, super-avant-garde things. I love strange, old folk music . . . it can be anything.
Is there anything particularly interesting to you happening in music in France?
The most interesting thing to me are people who mix influences, you know? I see that with a lot of young people. It’s interesting also the way people mix the digital processes of making music with analog, synthesizers and computers, but also old instruments. In my music sometimes I use old instruments, old synthesizers, but also music plug-ins.
What are you working on currently?
At the moment I’m working on the shows, and I have a few projects for after. But I can’t really talk about them; they are very much music-oriented. My head right now is very much into fashion.
Was going toward fashion a conscious decision?
It really happened by coincidence, but also, as I was saying before, when I was younger, I became interested in fashion because of music and the graphics of an artist like Saville. I remember in the mid-’80s there were dance companies, for example, in England there was Michael Clark who was working with a group of fashion designers called BodyMap. There are a few interesting videos on the Internet, where they were using a punk band called The Fall; I put them in my playlist. Then I used this piece in a Marc Jacobs show, maybe three or four years ago, because of this influence by Michael Clark. That’s what I was saying, in every track on this playlist I created, there’s a story. There’s a beautiful piece in there by Chet Baker that I really like; we used it in a Miu Miu show about a year ago.

You spoke earlier about the radio being important; is that how you normally listen to music?
No, it’s just that my grandfather couldn’t go back to Spain, so he would listen to Spanish radio in Paris. It was this ability that with sounds you can be in two places at the same time.
What is your main source of music now? Do you own a lot of records or use digital streaming services?
I have and use everything, not only music, but film, sounds, voices. I do recordings, I look on YouTube—anything that is sound, I’m open to it.
Do you compose more music than you mix?
My work has this evolution through the years: First cutting music very roughly, then composing it, then working with real instruments. I don’t see a border between the composing and mixing. One fits the other and it’s very important. For example, for Miu Miu, I did one soundtrack with people talking in films, with almost no music. There was another one for Margiela that had a piece from Sonic Youth’s “Providence,” which I was obsessed with at the time because it had the sounds of people screaming at concerts, so I did a collage of moments in which you hear the public screaming and clapping. The Margiela soundtrack was just this, with almost no music.

Do you have clients you always work with, or does it change every season?
They are the same: I’ve been working with Prada for years, Dior, Marni, Lanvin with Bouchra [Jarrar], because I have a long relationship with her. I just did Craig Green, in London, and I’m going to work with Erdem. So there are new designers, older houses, all different. Self-Portrait, Narciso Rodriguez, I think it’s very important to build a story with someone. I’m very happy because it’s what I’ve achieved these years. I have a long history with people and I like the idea of when you go to a show and people say it sounds like something. It’s like creating a perfume and the memories that it brings. I want the work to be timeless. It’s very important for me not to be considered a DJ, but more like a creator of stories where the narrative is very important. If you look at the video of a show from 10 years ago, it’s still very relevant. I’ve been thinking recently of how important the work of Margiela and Jil Sander is. The few shows I’ve done with Helmut Lang were interesting, too. It’s interesting when it’s super creative, like what I do with Comme des Garçons. It’s fashion but there might be an anti-fashion sort of element. Incredible people, they last a long time, like the work of John Galliano or McQueen or Miuccia Prada. I love the work of Anna Sui, how she manipulates images, and how she creates her own world. You should see her studio.
Today, I can consider myself a musician, but in the beginning, I didn’t. That’s why I adopted this label “sound illustrator.” For me, it was very poetic. It reminds me of the ’50s when Orson Welles did this radio program, La Guerre des Mondes—I don’t remember in English—and he was telling this story over sounds on the radio. There was still this idea of narrative. My work has evolved over the years, and I started doing more musical compositions, but still . . . maybe we have to create a new term. Because I don’t see a difference between sound and images.

mars 022017

Business Of Fashion – 26 février 2017

The Missoni March
BY TIM BLANKS

MILAN, Italy — The first track on the soundtrack of Missoni’s show on Saturday afternoon was Gil Scott-Heron’s The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. Frederic Sanchez had clearly taken on board that Angela Missoni wanted her new presentation to be infused with an activist sensibility.

She was disappointed that the spirit of the women’s marches which had galvanized the globe in January had bypassed Milan, and her reaction was to turn her show into a celebration of women’s rights. Pink pussy power! #pinkisthenewblack.

There was a pussy-eared beanie on every seat, and the audience was invited to join Angela, her family and the models on the pussywalk at show’s end for a moment of raucous jubilation, while Patti Smith’s People Got the Power blasted out.

We’re going to need such reminders in the years to come. Angela Missoni is uniquely placed in the fashion industry to offer them: not just the trans-generational aspect of her business (her mother and her daughters at her side) but also the nature of what it makes. If a product could embody the humanist impulse, it is surely an artisanal Missoni knit.

2017 is Angela’s 20th year at the helm, and she claimed that, in all that time, she’d never looked at the massive archives, 65 years worth. This season, she finally did. Wise move: the opening passage of the show — Gigi Hadid in a gorgeous rich plaid coat (the first of many), followed by a fractured chevron and Technicolor deco patterns — felt energised.

Missoni was always going to be one of those propositions whose time would come again. You could feel that shift kicking off with the men’s show in January. Maybe it was the idea of sweater dressing that has become so appealing. Consoling, perhaps — clothes you could cocoon in. A lot of the knits here were chunkier than usual for Missoni, more of the hand about them. But there were also form-fitting knits shot with lurex, clothes for going out, celebrating. Casual, easy clothes that could also say something definitive about who you are.

It’s something Missoni has always done. That consistency constitutes authenticity. And Angela’s passionate proclamation at the end of the show — inciting the fashion industry to stand unified and strong — was also a natural extension of her own commitment to encouraging and promoting women in her company. Where we’re going no one knows, but there will be lights along the way.

Business Of Fashion – 02 mars 2017

Perfectly Pretty at Lanvin
BY DAN THAWLEY

PARIS, France — The sonic accompaniment to Bouchra Jarrar’s first Lanvin show was the poetry of Marguerite Duras, her stirring words spoken by Rachida Brakni and Christina Bergstrom with an imposing allure. They accompanied a collection which needed that authority: her clothes were widely criticised for their departure from a Lanvin tied so intrinsically to Alber Elbaz’ decade long tenure. His legacy hung heavy over her debut.

Conversely, Jarrar’s Autumn Winter 2017 show took place in the same gilded rooms of the Hôtel de Ville, yet the mood was different. For starters, a spoken word soundtrack returned with a new lightness. This time, explained sound designer Frédéric Sanchez, the narrators were young actresses — and the sound of their screen tests warbling over the airwaves segued nicely into Jarrar’s preoccupation with birds for her sophomore show.

Birds and dancers, to be precise, were the starting point for Autumn — the latter grounding the former as appropriate muses for the ballerina dresses in iridescent black, white, and blush-coloured silks that returned throughout the show in various pleated, ruffled, and lace-encrusted variations.

Jarrar repaired last season’s issues with overt transparency, and a flat python boot was a smart styling tack — they skewed urban and worked to counter the frothiness of her high collars decorated with tulle and feathers. Panelled bouclé coats flecked with sequins added a more tactile, wintery softness to the lineup, recalling Berber carpets in a subtle nod to Jarrar’s own Moroccan heritage.

Due in no small part to her time at Balenciaga, tailoring was a key strength at Jarrar’s own label, and here it shone in stricter iterations: both a peak-shouldered trouser suit and coat draped with a single peplum held an after-hours allure that other looks lost via complications of texture and styling.

Case in point was Jarrar’s first foray into print with a delicate oriental landscape that, though perfectly pretty, lost its impact layered with patent leather jackets and ‘birds of paradise’ feathered jewellery. As pieces apart those are future heirlooms but, as a total look, there’s still work to be done in getting this remix right.

AnOther – 15 fevrier 2017


A Collection to Covet at Narciso Rodriguez
Almost every look had a defined core, a body-conscious column. Emphasising the body in this manner was a smart means to convey a woman’s strength and control.
By Tim Blanks
NEW YORK, United States — For years, Narciso Rodriguez has shown in an anonymous studio way over on the West Side, but something about the way it was reconfigured on Tuesday night made it suddenly less anonymous. He said it was the seating, arranged so the audience’s relationship with the clothes was more intimate. But I noticed that the room was enclosed ceiling to floor in sweeping curtains which loaned a theatrical grandeur to the venue, quite the opposite of intimacy.

Apparently, that was testament to my ignorance of my surroundings. Rodriguez insisted the curtains had always been there. Maybe they were just lit differently. In any case, the very notion of theatricality is anathema to him. And yet, there was a different tone to his new collection, a bigness that suited the scale of the room (at least as my eyes perceived it!). Frederic Sanchez’s aural complement was massive percussive beats that boomed through the space. So he got the bigness too.

Rodriguez said he’d found it hard to focus on designing, as the news took a tortuous turn for the traumatic leading up and subsequent to the presidential election. But focus he had to, and that’s what the collection embodied. Almost every look had a defined core, a body-conscious column, like the jumpsuit that matched a perforated leather top to wool gauze leggings. And often this column would be wrapped or overlaid in some way. Emphasising the body in this manner was a smart means to convey a woman’s strength and control, especially when the overlay was an upscaled coat or jacket in a menswear fabric. The volume was something new for Rodriguez, a move on from the elongated sinuous silhouette that is one of his signatures.

But those signatures were still gratifyingly present. The liquid mercury silks Rodriguez loves slithered around the body here in a seductive silvery shade he called “iris”. The hammered paillettes of last season returned in shimmering shifts. It was such items which validated the designer’s desire to create “a collection for women to covet.”

Antidote Magazine – 24 janvier 2017



QUE FAUT-IL RETENIR DE LA FASHION WEEK DE MILAN ?
Miuccia Prada reste fidèle à Frédéric Sanchez pour la réalisation de ses bandes-son. Ce studio parisien, qui signait plus tôt ce mois-ci le soundtrack du défilé londonien de Craig Green, imagine un mix inattendu et anachronique pour le 70’s show automne-hiver 2017 de la maison milanaise. S’y bousculent sans dissonance Gesaffelstein et Beethoven ou bien Jean-Sébastien Bach et Lady Gaga.

janv. 242017

Business Of Fashion – 24 janvier 2017



Hardcore Dior Homme

Kris Van Assche has vision. The set and soundtrack proved that. But he needs to surrender fully to it — step out of the corner and onto the dance floor.

BY TIM BLANKS
It was Christian Dior’s 112th birthday on Saturday, so Kris Van Assche threw him a party. HARDIOR – hardcore Dior was the theme. “They should just let us rave,” a sweater pleaded, next to a picture of Dior. How he would have responded to the thunderous, all-enveloping blast of Frederic Sanchez’s soundtrack is moot. But Van Assche did his usual respectful best to honour Dior’s memory with the tailoring that has become his own signature. In an homage to the atelier, he even turned jackets inside out so the details of their construction became a pattern.

Van Assche was never a raver. He claims he was the quiet Goth in the corner, in his army boots and stretch jeans. So maybe fashion is a way for him to work out youthful issues, a need to make good with everything he missed, for example. The collection went three ways: New Wave, Rave, MoshPit. The first was the tailoring, black, white and red. Sharp, precise, Numanoid. The second took a leaf out of the Candy Kids’ book. Acid colours were sponged onto big shearlings. A ponyskin trench was offered in a dazzling orange, a suit was crusted with tiny coloured confetti. The last section used Dan Witz’s mosh pit paintings, printed on a sequined jacket or a huge cape.

“I look for contrast,” Van Assche acknowledged. He definitely got that in his marriage of hardcore outlaw and suited gent. But the precision of the latter diffused the furiousness of the former. Lord have mercy, can we say it again? It’s always the way. Uptightness wins, which is infuriating because Van Assche has vision. Saturday’s set and soundtrack proved that. But he needs to surrender fully to it, step out of the corner and onto the dance floor, honour the wanton spirit of the mosh pit.

AnOther – 18 janvier 2017


Hypernormalisation and the Cult of Prada

“Now, protest is very necessary,” Mrs Prada explained backstage after the A/W17 show, which advocated for politicisation and normalcy through powerful 70s motifs

One of the stories often told about Mrs Prada is that, while a student in the 1970s, she was a card-carrying member of the Italian Communist party; rumour has it she would wear Yves Saint Laurent to distribute flyers on marches (she has, on occasion, explained that she found the dress codes prescribed for such proclivities to be tiresome). It is certainly true that Prada earned her degree in political science from the University of Milan during a time in which Italy was defined by student protest and political upheaval, but she is generally reluctant to discuss that period – after all, as she once told Alexander Fury in Document Journal, “Every young kid who was vaguely clever was leftist, so it’s not that I was so special”. Nonetheless, for her A/W17 menswear and womenswear pre-collection, that era’s aesthetic played a clear role in the designs she sent onto the runway: a combination of bookish 70s beatniks and the Red Brigades presented with somewhat sinister undertones. “I didn’t want to do the 70s… but it came out naturally,” she said backstage. “It was an important moment for protest, for humanity. Now, protest is very necessary.”

She’s right, of course – the week following her collection’s debut will see the inauguration of Donald Trump, and then the Women’s March on Washington, an event predicted to be one of America’s largest ever demonstrations. But here, size was not the solution to our current turmoil; instead she explained that “the main sentiment that I have is going from bigness to small” – it was a collection rooted in the unsettled normalcy that Prada revels in. Plus, it would be naïve to assume that Mrs Prada would design a collection simply to politicise her audience – “To be an opinionist as a rich fashion designer, I think is the worst possible thing to be,” she told Hans Ulrich Obrist in AnOther Magazine back in A/W08 – and she has never been prone to channelling monolithic inspiration. In fact, as she herself said about the collection, “my inspirations are so many and so complex that to summarise them is impossible.” So here, while there were the corduroy suits and berets typical of 70s students and Katie Morosky, there were also sinister leather trenches and scarves tied like nooses, a showspace comprised of pristine formica panelling and institutional leather-clad beds for the audience to sit upon; it made for a disconcerting scene, rather than a socialist utopia. “The badness was very strong,” she said. “Nasty.” And it was – but, of course, in the best possible way.

The Cult of Prada

There are few fashion designers who command the same level of cultish fandom that Mrs Prada achieves; so pronounced is her influence that whatever she sends down her runway visibly ripples throughout the industry. Case in point: last season, we saw her models strapped with plastic buckles and backpacks; this season, hiking ephemera has been visible in abundance on everybody else’s runways. For A/W17, in lieu of such overt utilitarianism, there was a return to nature: Mrs Prada proclaimed “a desire for reality, humanity and simplicity”. So, there were fur coats and fluffy moccasins, talismanic pendants and cosy jumpers, which, when positioned against the tense clinking overlaid upon classical music, all felt a little bit Manson Family or Father Yod – strange little sects of supposedly spiritual, liberal ideals that translated into terror. “We were talking about the stories of the 70s… and then came the idea of Wendy Carlos and A Clockwork Orange,” explained Frédéric Sanchez, the composer behind the soundtracks for Prada’s shows. “In the world we live today there is something quite frightening… beautiful, but terrifying.”

Hypernormalisation

It would be too easy for Prada’s current sentiment to refer simply to the right-wing bent of contemporary politics. In fact, the liberal left finds itself, presently, in a particularly strange situation, fractured by competing discourses and isolated within digital echo chambers. Six months ago, Prada asked (via Premonitions, the teasing series of short films which the brand debuts via social media ahead of the show itself): “Exploring a landscape of extremities, where do we situate the poles?” “Where to from here, when all of the horizon is in the cloud?” This time, the new series explained that, “The revolution starts at home,” and “Truth is subjective and necessary”. It seemed more of an existential nod towards the abstract and apparently impotent nature of digital-age revolution than a celebration of its virtues; a shoppable interpretation of Adam Curtis-style philosophising. As that director recently explained in documentary Hypernormalisation, “we have become lost in a fake world and cannot see the reality outside,” continuing to explain to DazedDigital that “There’s a whole generation that has retreated from an active engagement with power, who want to change the world”. Here, Mrs Prada seemed to be reminding us of those activists who once determined the personal to be political and sought revolution through action rather than Facebook status; of the importance of authentic, human reality during a time when detachment is bearing particularly frightening consequences.

Mrs Prada played a particular role in pioneering the wave of normcore that swept through fashion a few years ago; an intensely stylised version of blandness that was provocative in its banality and manifested in Miu Miu anoraks and Prada blazers “too perverse to be innocent”. Now, she explained: “I love the idea of corduroy and leather; basically the whole show is done of those two materials. They give a sense of normality.” It was an extension on a theme she has explored before, but where normcore felt unnerving in its sterility, this felt warmly weird.

There were those cozy knitted jumpers printed with fictionalised artwork that looked like the sort you might find in a hotel lobby – “we wanted the perfect idea of no art,” she grinned, “Sunday painters” – and faux-Cubist handbags that were as covetable as they were supposedly meaningless; naïve necklaces made from shells (that again harked back to that cultish 70s aesthetic) and fluffy socks and mohair cardigans (very hygge). Shearling-lined peacoats and cashmere V-necks were the epitome of the luxury workwear that she does better than anyone else, but skirts came with slits that were cut a little too high; suit trousers accessorised with weird ponyskin belts. “The whole point about the ‘normcore’ trend is that you’re pretending to be normal,” said Curtis. “Cool irony originally had a political analysis that said, ‘We’re detaching from this and looking at it’. Then it just became ‘We’re detached’.” Here, Mrs Prada seemed to be deliberately avoiding such a spirit, instead preaching intimacy as the antidote to the alienation and apathy. “Everybody in this world, we’ve all gone too far,” she explained backstage. “We’re at the point where there’s too much to follow, too much to do. You lose somehow your normal nature.” But, this season, such nature was celebrated in abundance, without detachment or provocative irony. It was a modern-day Love Story – and, perhaps most importantly, it left its audience desperate for autumn.

Dazed – 7 janvier 2017


Craig Green reveals the meaning of his anonymous travellers
The designer opens up about his AW17 collection, presented yesterday at London Fashion Week Men’s

Craig Green doesn’t really like talking about what his work means and much prefers people to come up with their own interpretations. His workwear-informed clothes are honest and sincere, and every time his words about them approach something more analytical, he checks himself in a self-effacingly jolly way, worrying he’ll sound too “fruity and conceptual”.

It’s hard not to go into analytical mode when you watch his collections unfold, though, because they’re always loaded with meaning. Last night we were lost at sea with fishermen in sou’wester hats and quilting with life vest-like attachments on their backs, styled by Dazed’s creative director Robbie Spencer. It was a beautifully haunting show where Aleister Crowley’s ominous voice and folksy Martyn Bates reverberated on the soundtrack, overlaid with faint radar sounds searching the waters ahead. The vibe: Is there anybody out there?

“I was watching this programme about old fishermen that used to leave their family and loved ones and not come back for thirty years, and there was no way to communicate with them for that entire period of time,” Green said when we spoke a couple of days before his show. That sense of isolation was felt throughout: a dark and foreboding kind of poetry, with waves crashing all around and bottomless black waters below. It felt like a commentary on the modern condition. We have all these ways of communicating (and presenting an idealised version of our lives) but at the same time it’s breeding feelings of loneliness for many, of being lost and aimlessly drifting around while everyone else is seemingly barging ahead full steam.

We’re under pressure all the time and Green’s recurring themes around protection had taken him to old cast iron pressure-resistant diving suits, which were translated into soft, padded garments wrapped in oxygen tubes – comforting but eerie. The team had also been looking at uniforms. “We found this book of all these military and police uniforms and we showed it to someone and they said ‘oh, it’s like real men’. And we were like, what’s real men?!” he says, chuckling at that archaic notion of what ‘masculinity’ entails. “It’s that weird idea of the man as the hero.”

Green’s boys wear their insecurities or anxieties on their sleeve, quite literally wrapped in padding. Or bits of embroidered carpet picked up on their travels that were stitched together into oversize pieces. “Carpet people”, Green called them. “Basically a man as a walking carpet idea.” Not to walk all over, but definitely the antithesis to masculinity as the hard, assertive man.

“We found this book of all these military and police uniforms and we showed it to someone and they said ‘oh, it’s like real men’. And we were like, what’s real men?!” – Craig Green
Sci-fi – which might not be the first thing you think about in terms of Craig Green’s work – had been on his mind as well. “There’s something very sci-fi about (sea explorations) and I feel like everything sci-fi is based around something to do with the sea,” Green noted. Here it was the abstract and philosophical aspects of the genre that came through: ideas of the unknown, a voyage into unchartered territory – the kind of existential or semi-religious themes you find in Battlestar Galactica, The OA or Prometheus (coincidentally, Green has made costumes for the imminent Alien: Covenant).

“I was reading about people that have phobias of the sea and how they’re directly linked to people that have anxiety about not knowing things and fear of the unknown,” he said. As far as the great unknown goes, the future is probably one of the scariest things out there, science fiction or not. But there was a flicker of a lighthouse here in all the sea metaphors, at least in Green’s mind. “It’s the romantic idea of all of that rather than the pessimistic view of it.” Romance triumphing over pessimism and dread – it was a beautiful thought to start the menswear season on.

Business of Fashion – 7 janvier 2017

By Tim Blanks

LONDON, United Kingdom — The sea is one of humankind’s most ancient terrors, home to monsters, symbol of the unknown, the unpredictable, separation from loved ones. Its vast reaches inspire enduring images of utter isolation. Craig Green somehow managed to convey all of that magnificent morbidity in the collection he showed.

He said his starting point was the sea, and you could imagine his clothes dressing a community on a stretch of desolate coastline where men worked on and under the waves, battling the elements, losing, looking to other men to restore their faith. They were all there on Green’s catwalk: lifeboatmen, deep sea divers, the monastic types who are one of the designer’s staples, wearing a collage of richly patterned but worn pieces that suggested religion turned make-do cult. I pictured cramped stone cottages, a ruined abbey, the maddening monotone of waves breaking on a barren shoreline. Played out against a Frederic Sanchez soundtrack that intertwined the folkish melancholia of Martyn Bates with the confused burble of occultist Aleister Crowley reading his poem At Sea over a voodoo throb. The presentation left an overpowering sense of a hermetic world turned in on itself. Masculinity in peril, maybe. Which, of course, it is.

That’s why the protectionist streak in Green’s menswear has always been its poignant calling card. He’s looking out for his boys. Here, they were encased in Michelin Man padding and quilting, their faces tiny inside padded hoods (like a diver’s helmet in fabric). A diver’s feeding tube was translated into ruched bandoliers in odd cartoon colours that Green said he’d lifted from school uniforms (So not weird!).

The huge, rounded silhouettes (were the models also carrying sleeping bags?) were half of the collection. The other half was narrow, tightly draw-strung. But the idea was the same: bodies swathed, entrance denied.

These were clothes to strike a chord. They were fearless in their conception, but paradoxically, they were driven by fear. The boundless ocean, remember? We hardly need Craig Green to illuminate us about the uncertainty of the future, but his marriage of beauty and terror will surely linger long after other Cassandras have folded their tents and stolen away into the night.

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Vanity Fair – Novembre 2016

nov. 032016

Vanity Fair – Octobre 2016

AnOther – 21 Octobre 2016


Five of Marc Jacobs’ Most Memorable Musical Inspirations

The score which accompanies creative omnivore Marc Jacobs’ shows each season is part and parcel of his collection. We consider the meanings hidden in five of his most memorable soundtracks yet

Text Ana Kinsella

A Marc Jacobs show is always a fashion week highlight, a stalwart on each season’s schedule. There are a few things you can rely on: unpredictable clothes that speak to how we want to dress now, a kind of sensitive perception of the cultural mood, and of course, a pumping soundtrack. For Jacobs it’s simple: his interests don’t start and end with dresses and hemlines. Think of him instead as a kind of creative omnivore, in tune with the sound of a downtown Manhattan club as much as in the women who frequent it. What emerges each season is the clearest distillation of a specific mood.
Inevitably, the music is more than just background dressing; it’s essential to Jacobs’ conception of his woman within each collection – a fact which makes his new collaboration with Apple Music, for which he has curated a personal playlist and featured additional playlists from the stars of his Autumn/Winter 2016 campaign, including Kendall Jenner, Missy Elliot and Susan Sarandon, under his curator profile – all the more exciting. Here, we examine the musical inspiration behind five of his most memorable shows.
Spring/Summer 2017
How do you express devil-may-care hedonism most accurately? To answer this question with his most recent collection, for Spring 2017, Jacobs landed on rave culture. With Underworld’s club anthem Born Slippy, itself a byword for nights of endless pleasure-seeking, playing in the background, the models walked out in metallic pastels, miniskirts and chunky heels, ready for their own rave moment in the spotlight. This collection was the pursuit of pleasure writ large, in snakeskin and pearlescent embellishment. Amid a sea of twinkling lightbulbs, the cumulative effect of the show was glittering and hazy, like the morning-after memory of a night spent on the dancefloor. 


Marc Jacobs S/S13

Spring/Summer 2013
A cursory stroll through downtown Manhattan will assure you of Marc Jacobs’ indelible link to New York cool – swinging shopping bags on the arms of SoHo shoppers, billboards on Bleecker St. A crucial part of how he maintains that year after year is by looking back at previous incarnations of what it means to be It in the city. For Spring 2013, that meant looking to Andy Warhol’s Factory to channel the laissez-faire cool of the Velvet Underground, Edie Sedgwick and their milieu. The modern update of this consisted of stripped-back monochrome stripes, long pleated skirts and silhouette-skimming separates, all soundtracked by the jangling post-punk of The Fall’s 1980s hit Copped It.


Marc Jacobs A/W11

Autumn/Winter 2011
Part of what always appeals about a Marc Jacobs show for editors and buyers is the temptation of the unpredictable. In 2011, he bucked expectations by embracing rigour, with a collection centred on latex, bindings and wiggle skirts. He furthered the almost cartoonish emphasis on feminine sexuality with a healthy dose of polka dots and embossed fabrics throughout. The soundtrack? Marilyn Manson’s 1996 single The Beautiful People, an anthem for the disaffected and for those disillusioned with what Manson calls “the fascism of beauty.” The overall result was startling, provocative and more complex than the straightforward fun often seen on a Marc Jacobs runway. 


Marc Jacobs A/W09

Autumn/Winter 2009
At a time when New York was still flattened by financial crisis and a general sense of ennui, Marc Jacobs brought us back to our senses. Fall 2009 offered a greatest hits of downtown party looks inspired by what he called “the good old days… when getting dressed up was a joy.” This was an exuberant romp through the wardrobe of a 1980s party girl as she gets ready for a night out. Dressed in velvet and metallic leather, with big, backcombed hair, her soundtrack came from Spinnerette, the punk band headed up by Brody Dalle of the Distillers, another favourite of the designer. Songs like Valium Knights and Ghetto Love injected a certain hedonism and merriment to the proceedings, at a time when the fate – and the purpose – of luxury fashion seemed precarious.


Marc Jacobs S/S06

Spring/Summer 2006
Consider Spring 2006 a harking back to Jacobs’ roots and to the Spring 1993 collection for Perry Ellis, the grunge-inspired collection that cost him his job at the American fashion house. The collection of luxury flannel-like silk shirts and chiffon check dresses had its share of detractors at the time but has since been somewhat venerated as a pivotal point in style history. In 2006, Marc called upon the Penn State University marching band to perform a raucous rendition of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit as proceedings got underway. The collection that followed – of shimmering cocktail dresses and oversized outerwear – showed how far Marc had come since those Perry Ellis days, but also that he is still the same innovative designer beneath it all. This was not the first time the song had cropped up in a Marc Jacobs show soundtrack, but never before had it sounded so joyous and celebratory.

Business of Fashion – 11 Octobre 2016

Miu Miu’s Scary Summer
If the collection wasn’t quite as extreme as it’s wont to be, it still preserved the edge of alluring oddness that always makes it Miu Miu.

BY TIM BLANKS

PARIS, France — “Summer is summer, the beach is the beach,” said Miuccia Prada cheerfully, explaining away the surreally seaside-y ambience of the new Miu Miu collection and show.
But if she was trying to suggest that there was no more to them than that, she failed miserably when she added the following: “They’re sunny but they’re scary. Because how much longer will we have them?” The sentiment sounded a touch environmental, but, years ago, there was a Prada collection which offered a post-nuclear beachscape as its primary graphic. The ability to isolate the strain of darkness in the midst of light is a long time Miuccia knack.
So if this collection had the superficial look of a 1960’s party in Forte dei Marmi, it was also a typically contrary Prada combination of kitsch, prim and racy, with princess coats and shirtdresses (tied in the back with a big bow) sharing catwalk space with ruched short shorts, shirred romper suits and printed latex coats.
The shoes, always a Miumiu fundamental, ran the same gamut: slides to platform sandals, flip-flops to wedges carved with seashells. There was typical perversity in flourishes like the anthurium bathing caps, the towelling stoles, or the terrycloth robes made from mink.
But that’s another Miuccia knack, to infuse the banal with a peculiar new insight. Frederic Sanchez played Siouxsie Sioux songs, enough to cast a chill over any sunny gathering. The Miumiu colour palette was also a tiny bit cold.  So it wasa scary beach. Which guaranteed that, if the collection wasn’t quite as extreme as it’s wont to be, it still preserved the edge of alluring oddness that always makes it Miu Miu.

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Space Magazine – Octobre 2016




AnOther – 11 Octobre 2016

A Daytrip to the S/S17 Miu Miu Beach
Susanna Lau examines the brand’s latest collection – a summertime medley with bittersweet undertones

Text Susanna Lau
Photography Federico Ferrari
Photographic Editor Holly Hay

Miuccia Prada likes to have the last word at Paris Fashion Week with Miu Miu – the last word that the fashion industry collectively revels in. Before you’ve even seen a single outfit, a Miu Miu show already puts you in a giddy mood: after all, the season is done. Entering the Palais d’Iena is a signifier that you’ve made it through the four consecutive fashion weeks relatively unscathed – and you’ve still got a Miu Miu collection to take in and enjoy before you leave Paris on a high. S/S17 was seemingly joyful with its message: “It’s a celebration of summer with all its pleasures and the scary idea of if we can have it again,” said Miuccia Prada after the show as she greeted guests, inviting them to stay for an end-of-season celebratory prosecco. The latter half of her short statement left you with some food for thought. Sure, the collection was an idealistic recreation of being sur la plage with its mix of retro prints, plastic fantastic accessories and saccharine smocking, but the joy of it felt ephemeral. This was Miuccia’s promise of a strange summer that lures us in with a wardrobe fit for sun, pool, sand and sea anywhere in the world. Where were we? And in what time era? Would these upbeat colours and textures last? That sense of sunbathing with anxiety on this fantasy beach left a lingering question mark at the end of the season.

Spiaggia Surreale
The sale hypostyle of the Palais D’Iena was transformed by AMO with a mix of vibrant matte and shiny PVC in virulent shades of teal, yellow and aubergine with graphic panels on the wall creating an artificial summer landscape of Memphis-esque parasols, loungers, sun and sky. To soundtrack this surreal summer, Frederic Sanchez went with The Creatures, Siouxsie Sioux’s project with bandmate Budgie, after the dissolution of Siouxsie and the Banshees. “We wanted something that was beautiful and grand without having to use classical music or something that is too summery,” said Sanchez. “Siouxsie Sioux’s voice came up in conversation and The Creatures was perfect because it had all these different elements to it.” The tracks summed up the surreal beach scenario painted by Miuccia. “It’s this strange beautiful beach, where you feel like you discover you’ve arrived on another planet, but at the same time it’s not psychedelic,” added Sanchez. That was an appropriate way of summing up Miuccia’s beach mix that spanned everything from 1940s open-backed smocked knickers and apron skirts to 1970s geometric prints. For all its retroisms, though, there was also something dystopian about these jolly colours and feel-good textures. Sioux’s haunting voice hung in the air like the siren call of an unpredictable future ahead, calling out long after the sun has set.

Summer Is Here to Stay
The see-now-buy-now mantra for this season has meant that some of the supposed S/S17 collections we saw, won’t in fact be intended for spring or summer: they’re in-stores as you read this. It seems that now, anything goes, and seasons are fast becoming an archaic way of categorising clothes. But this Miu Miu collection was as directly summer-focused as it could be, with all the obvious nods to the high season getaways that we’ll be busy planning for during the months of July and August. You could be forgiven for thinking that much of this was a high summer swim collection: acrylic wedges featuring seashells and starfish and plastic pool slides are ready made for summer suitcases, and Miuccia even provided a beach towel option that doubles up as a stylised shawl. Was this perhaps a comment that collections are still worth waiting months for? When all of this filters into stores in February, we’ll be storing them up for the summer months ahead (unless you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, in which case you can buy-now-wear-now). Still, nestled in amongst the crop tops, swim caps and short-shorts were fluffy coats styled like bathrobes, 1960s Courreges-esque suiting and fur-collared towel-stripe jackets. They will be the perfect pick-me-up when they arrive in stores in February.

Miuccia Past, Present and Future
The historical time periods of summer attire were jumbled up, but so were Mrs Prada’s snippets of self-referencing. Watching the show, you remembered Miu Miu’s early noughties geometric prints, seen here on sheer organza beach cover-ups, towel shawls and suiting. You might also have sensed the same vibes as the John Akehurst-lensed 1998 campaign, featuring a sombrely dressed Sarah Daykin on a deserted beach. The plastic flower-adorned swimcaps that featured heavily are definite successors to the ones seen in the Prada A/W11 collection of retrofuturistic mermaids. As for the 1950s housewife coats in a Doris Day pastel palette? That’s solid Mrs Prada territory. The sum of everything though couldn’t be pin-pointed exactly to one particular oeuvre. As Sanchez summed it up – and in distinct parallel to the most recent Prada collection – “It’s a sort of past-present-future.”

A Summer Soon to Be Lost
“Can we have this beautiful beach and sea again?” That was the mysterious rhetorical question Miuccia posed. Was there an environmental message behind the collection perhaps? “Maybe!” she said with a coy smile. If humanity’s impact on our natural surroundings was something that Miuccia was thinking of, it certainly wasn’t doled out to us in a heavy-handed message. Perhaps she was referring to the more general uncertainty that’s rife in our world today, and this Miu Miu fantastical beachscape is a mode of escape. Sanchez concurs with this idea that Miuccia’s summer getaway isn’t necessarily one that will exist on this planet for much longer. “It tells us a lot about the world today. Maybe you want to go on holiday on another planet.”

AnOther – 4 Octobre 2016

Frédéric Sanchez on his Immersive Tribute to Sonia Rykiel

The inimitable sound artist discusses the emotive installation he crafted in homage to the late designer, which preceded the house’s S/S17 show

Text Natalie Rigg

“I had worked with Julie [de Libran] previously on the score for her [Autumn/Winter 2016] show for Sonia Rykiel, which was great. She liked the outcome and asked me to work on a new project – an homage to Madame Sonia Rykiel after her passing, which was obviously very important. She asked me to do something with the sound of Sonia’s voice, but also with archive footage and imagery. I’ve done similar things before with imagery in the past, such as a show I curated about Serge Gainsbourg at Cité de la Musique in Paris.

I’ve always considered sound as images anyway, so the idea to radiate the sound of Sonia Rykiel in a more abstract way was very interesting to me. I have always thought of Sonia as a writer of fashion, creating her own story and language. I was able to go into the house’s archive and build a video of images (both still and moving) and sound. It was very emotional; I felt that I entered her headspace, in a way. I wanted to evoke a mood that was beautiful, simple and celebratory – but also in a way that each and every person could identify with. I also wanted to make the most beautiful tribute I could possibly make out of respect for the many people that worked for her for many years.

Sonia Rykiel – much like Rei Kawakubo, Miuccia Prada and Martine Sitbon – was a very strong and generous woman, and I’ve always been drawn to strong women. Julie [de Libran], too, has an incredible respect for the DNA of the brand and everything that Sonia Rykiel stood for. I met with her at the space before the show, and she was very moved. This was an important moment for everyone.” – Frédéric Sanchez

Though Sonia Rykiel departed this world last August, at the age of 86, her extraordinary influence and outlook will continue to permeate modern culture. The house, now under the highly capable steer of Julie de Libran, feted its founder’s remarkable life and output with a resplendent Spring/Summer 2017 show – which proudly showcased Rykiel’s iconic design signatures: finely woven striped knits in a kaleidoscope of colours; louche 1970s-inspired cuts that swing zealously with every moment; and sleek, contemporary iterations of her classic ‘Poor Boy’ sweater. The collection was accompanied by a custom-created score by Frédéric Sanchez, who additionally crafted an evocative video montage – or in his words: « a visual homage, » – of archive photography, sound clips and candid footage of the late designer, to precede the show.

Vulture – 4 Octobre 2016






The Business Of Fashion – 2 Octobre 2016

Invisible Clothes at Comme des Garçons
Rei Kawakubo’s latest presentation was majestic and mournful, a paean to hopes unmet, dreams unrealised. The collection had a medieval, ritualistic, emotional power that overwhelmed reason.

BY TIM BLANKS

PARIS, France — Henryk Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3 is also known as the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, so it made the perfect soundtrack for the Comme des Garçons show on Saturday afternoon. Rei Kawakubo’s latest presentation was majestic and mournful, a paean to hopes unmet, dreams unrealised. The collection had a medieval, ritualistic, emotional power that overwhelmed reason.

She is always exalted as an icon of modernity. Her take on a peculiar, idiosyncratic historicism is much more fascinating. Assume a child unborn: the first outfit in the show, jet black, swollen-bellied; the eighth outfit, a funereal crib; the sixteenth outfit, an all-red fantasy, like the lost child in Nicholas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now; the last outfit, back to the egg, a black prison, Anna Cleveland’s fingers fluttering futilely for purchase on a tight, white neckline. (Did anyone else see Alien here?) All in all, a fabulously macabre cycle. And instructive to have Simone Rocha in attendance. Long considered a Kawakubo acolyte, her last collections have dealt with the trials and triumphs of childbirth in remarkably primal ways, even more striking considering that it is the design of clothes where she has chosen to express herself.

But exactly the same thing could apply to Rei Kawakubo. Huge statements, couched in cloth. “Invisible Clothes” was her own cryptic description for her latest collection. “The purest and most extreme version of Comme des Garcons” was the addendum. Extreme, certainly, in the huge, square shapes, though Kawakubo’s silhouettes scarcely ever cleave to convention, and these were actually relatively rational in their geometry (at least in a world where Victor&Rolf once sent an upended bed down their catwalk). But in terms of invisibility, the collection exuded a palpable sense of absence, of hollows and shadows and disillusionment.

Which made the show a powerful counterpoint to the paeans to female empowerment that have attached themselves this season to the women taking over the creative director’s role in houses that were previously male-dominated. Although all of that is undoubtedly irrelevant to Kawakubo, a law unto herself for longer than she probably cares to think, her last few collections have explored notions of women on the margins. And now, childbirth, motherhood… scarcely marginal, but more difficult than ever in a world that is calcifying into rigidly held political positions, all of them shaped by men. For someone whose sensibility naturally tends towards revolution, these must be incredibly trying times for Kawakubo.

Dazed Digital – 2 Octobre 2016

Rei Kawakubo does Comme des Garçons in its most extreme form

At her SS17 show, Kawakubo reminds us what CDG is all about with 17 looks demonstrating the enduring iconoclasm of her design lexicon

Photography Evan Schreiber

“Invisible clothes.” Those two words uttered by Rei Kawakubo might seem laughable after witnessing the cavalcade of strong, bold and almost forceful Comme that came charging at us at her latest show, were it not for the fact that you were so eager to read between the lines of those cryptic clues. However, it turned out to be the perfect oxymoronic phrase to sum up those 17 ensembles, especially as further explanation revealed that the collection was “the purest and most extreme version of Comme des Garçons”.

It’s all but formally confirmed that Kawakubo will be the subject of the next exhibition of Met’s Costume Institute (if true, it will be the second time in the gallery’s history that a living designer has been feted in a exhibition), and so this feels like an especially pertinent time to be considering what the essence of Comme des Garçons really is. What we saw yesterday was the most instinctive, visceral and overtly direct expressions of what Kawakubo has been articulating with Comme des Garçons and its associated universe for the last few decades.

“What we saw yesterday was the most instinctive, visceral and overtly direct expressions of what Kawakubo has been articulating with Comme des Garçons and its associated universe for the last few decades”
This in-yer-face core for Comme was accompanied by a Colin Stetson reworking of Henryk Gorecki’s “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs”, which might bring your mind back to the AW15 collection and its ode to the passing of life. Here though, sorrow strangely soared into joy because the most radical of Comme iterations were there for the taking. Girly coquettish Comme? She was there in the Peter Pan collared dresses and puffed-up girlish sleeves that were tripled up. Fetishistic Comme? A coating of patent sat atop a sensual red velvet, blown up with frills. Comme cocoons for shutting off the world? Anna Cleveland demonstrated this deftly with the opening and closing of her own black bubble, revealing and hiding a pleated minidress. Comme’s respect for heritage and tradition? A giant straight edged frock in CDG uniform tartan. Comme for mourning? Physical constructions of black holes and shapes that threatened to suffocate and engulf the body were also here in abundance.

Banish the word retrospective though. The riffs of Kawakubo’s greatest hits were only faint. What was most apparent was the fundamental pillars of Comme. Adrian Joffe, who was at Kawakubo’s side backstage talked about the idea of not being able to tell where clothes ended and the body started, which perhaps has been an ongoing raison d’être for much of Kawakubo’s output – in that she consistently questions the boundaries of how fabric should be placed in context with the human body, throwing away conventions and eschewing the pragmatic.

Another way of looking at the invisibility that Kawakubo was thinking of was the intangible and often nuanced feeling that a Comme des Garçons garment imbues the wearer with. In other words, not seeing fashion merely as garments or things to wear, decorate and enhance the body. What was “invisible” here wasn’t necessarily the clothes, but the state of being that Comme clothes engender in you. And that felt as powerful as the rousing voices of Gorecki’s chorus built up and the spotlights in the Élysée Montmartre that flickered off one by one.

The Business Of Fashion – 26 septembre 2016

At Prada, Memories Are Made of This

Miuccia Prada’s new collection plumbs the past to reassure the future.

BY TIM BLANKS

MILAN, Italy — I can’t remember a time when Miuccia Prada looked so happy at the end of a show. Instead of her usual tentative nod from the wings, she walked down the catwalk to acknowledge David O. Russell, many times Oscar-nominated director and the man responsible for the film that played on multiple screens throughout the Prada presentation.

The subject of Russell’s film was the mutability of time. No surprise that Miuccia was feeling the same idea. Her new collection skated across Prada’s back pages with an ease so straightforward you could imagine that it would be charming if this was your introduction to the brand.

The same idea was at work with the men’s show in June. Memories. Reassurance. Brand icons. There, it was a revisit of the black nylon backpack on which the company’s fortunes were rebuilt in the 1980s. The collection had a rave-y, idealistic, community-of-travellers’ edge. Here, the dominant visual motif was a variant on the very particular graphic prints with which Prada flayed its mark on fashion in the mid-90s, when revenues soared as the label became the industry’s go-to for new.

But those days are gone. Prada is wrestling with reality (with the redundancy that seems to inevitably attach itself to mature businesses, unless you’re prepared to make a 180 degree flip like Gucci). Getting back to that notion of introduction, it made commercial sense to return to the heyday. But what was it that virgin eyes would actually have seen in this collection?

First thing: marabou. You could imagine a newbie wondering how and why the hell all those feathers were everywhere? A seasoned observer might conjecture that they were one of those things Miuccia had always hated, the thing she felt compelled to include to confront her loathing (suede is the most famous example). Not at all. She thought marabou was “the most silly thing”. Which sounded like the consummate back-handed compliment, by the way, because there’s something in Miuccia that wants to nail emblems of ultra-femininity to the wall alongside tokens of feminism.

So her marabou trimmed the business-y camel wrap top that accompanied the black wrap skirt of a model clutching a big, business-y clutch. Well, sort of business-y. The collection clarified how perverse Mrs P has always been in her various definitions of the way a woman can be. “A new way of elegance” were the words she used to nail this particular offering.

It was plain that her new elegance involved maximum mobility, a get-up-and-and-go physicality that could turn on a dime when breaking news intruded on your own patch. Short shorts, tank tops, jumpsuits, skirts slit for movement, everything calibrated for rapid response… but rimmed with marabou, and accessorised with sandals. A kind of best-of-both-worlds modernity… fact and fantasy.

There was an entirely brainiac postscript to this whole affair. Inevitably, it pertained to the soundtrack by longtime Prada collaborator Frederic Sanchez. The nu-Satie piano stylings of Alex Menzies mixed with Donna Summer’s MacArthur Park and Diana Ross’s Love Hangover. Sanchez called it an existentialist mash-up, here, the melancholic recognition of a world in flux, there, the sheer, wonderful denial of disco bliss. The world’s a darkening place. Thank fashion for shining its own light. In fact, thank it twice.

AnOther – 22 juin 2016


Layers of Clothes, Layers of Meaning : Exploring Prada S/S17

We decipher the digital origins, 1990s nostalgia and boundless optimism of Prada’s latest offering

Text Olivia Singer
Photography Federico Ferrari
Photographic Editor Holly Hay

If last season’s Prada collection was a journey across the oceans, this season was a trip of a different sort. « Let’s get unconscious, » drawled a Madonna remix over the sound system as a stream of models took to the runway, swaddled in outfits that readied them for any eventuality. Wearing torches and pac-a-macs, they exhibited the sort of preparedness one might have expected to see at 90s raver festivals like Tribal Gathering or Spiral Tribe. « The past is over and I want to take care of the present, » announced Mrs Prada backstage and, while there are plenty of bleak comparisons to be made between the current, separatist state of political affairs and the eclectic cultural references that she sent onto the runway, there was something distinctly lighthearted about it all.

There was an ecstasy-addled freneticism and trance party aesthetic present not only in the rainbow-thatched macs, geothermal prints and era-specific eyewear, or the trippy soundtrack of Björk and Faithless, but also in the zealous embrace of everything and everyone that marked the rave scene. As those of us in Europe await the result of Brexit ballot boxes amidst a climate of confusion, upheaval and fear, Prada offered an almost utopian reminder of togetherness – but without the kumbayas or explicit liberalism one might expect from such a determinedly contemporary collection.

While the world at large might be discussing immigration, isolation and inertia, over recent months it has been Prada’s financial situation that has dominated the fashion pages. The company’s losses have been broadly attributed to a lack of digital innovation (they have only recently announced they will be retailing ready-to-wear online for the first time) and a dependence on retail stores rather than e-commerce (a number of said stores are now closing) but, for S/S17, these issues were clearly being countered by the sheer abundance of product on offer. Clothes were literally heaped onto the models – extra coats spilled out of bags, additional pairs of shoes hung from rucksacks, entry-point knick-knacks were dangling from every strap – and thus there were perhaps more options than ever before for those who will choose to buy from the collection. But, with a wry wink at those critics who have remarked that Prada is behind the times when it comes to the digital age, Mrs Prada celebrated the era that marked both the internet’s inception and the start of her reign in fashion. She seemed to be reminding us that she’s certainly not lagging behind: she’s always been a few paces ahead.

“Google Earth: that is the world” – Miuccia Prada
It was during 1989 that Prada launched its womenswear – the same year that Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. As Prada quickly became synonymous with modernity, the world opened up and connected people to each another like never before, through Compuserve forums and AOL discussion boards and ICQ instant messaging. It was the second wave of free love; not only were plenty of people dosed up on MDMA, but a new world was on offer, and it was rife with possibility. “How do we embrace the architecture of limitless technology?” asked one of the captions to the lo-fi countdown to the show, published via Instagram. “What are the boundaries of technotravel?” read another. Prada’s boys and girls not only celebrated the literal freedom of travel – branded water bottles and saffiano-wrapped torches dangling in tow – but freedom of a more abstract kind; the freedom of information and communication that was seen on cartographic prints. As Mrs Prada explained, that reference was taken from Google Earth, and « that is the world.”

Everyone, Everything, Everywhere
There was also the far more literal rendering of cultural crossover, as seen in the cartoonish prints of Icelandic Inuits and praying Buddhas that appeared on shirts, the mini sombreros and little elephants that decorated assorted small leather goods. These prints were an affectionate allusion to tourist souvenirs, a celebration of exploration – in fact, just arriving within the Prada showspace felt like you were exploring something. Not only was it raining outside in Milan, and thus steamy and humid inside, but one had to traverse some dimly lit corridors filled with Prada’s new fragrance before arriving in a new world filled with a series of mesh structures illuminated by psychedelic neon lights. The sounds of birds, or crickets, or something of that sort filled the air – and, between that and the humidity, you suddenly felt as though you were in a rainforest, or the reptilian area at the zoo.

“What connects the competing grids between nature and technology?” asked another one of those aforementioned Instagram teasers. Upon speaking to Frédéric Sanchez, the man responsible for the music at Prada’s shows, that question was answered. He had composed these natural noises electronically: the sounds of rainforests, satellites, spaceships, the sounds that he imagined the planets might make as they turn on their axes. These are sounds that can only be detected through the use of electronic antennae: the product of nature and technology when they are aligned rather than posited in opposition to one another, and they were later woven between the layers of Primal Scream, Björk and Faithless that narrated the runway. It was the harmony of the 1990s and the contemporary, the digital and the human, the exotic and the prosaic, that made this collection just so appealing – a symbiosis of everyone, everything, everywhere.

Layers of Clothes: Layers of Meaning
We all know that a Prada show is composed of seemingly endless layers – this time, there were the multiple sheets of plastic that formed the invitation, the overlaid grids of metal that made up the runway, the soundscape composed of myriad origins. Thus, although there might have been an elaborately constructed optimism and connectedness that permeated the pieces, everyone seemed fully aware that this season was certainly a part two, the next chapter in the story initiated during menswear A/W16. But while the figures that walked that runway were travellers in clothes that addressed “immigration, famine, assassination, pessimism,” this time they had arrived to explore “this idea of travelling, of sharing, of joining cultures,” and they were welcomed with open arms.

« The backpack is where you put your home, your shelter, in case of difficult times » – Miuccia Prada
There was practicality in this self-stated “activewear”: ripstop fabric – the interlocked, reinforced nylon ordinarily used for camping equipment and firefighter gear – was used for overcoats and dresses; padded quilting – the sort that really keeps you warm – was turned into jackets; plastic sandals embellished with (plastic) flowers could probably be hosed down if they got muddy. But, peel away the layers and there were suits of kid mohair with perfectly elegant satin collars and woven silks that looked like polyester but felt luxuriant. “There was also the idea of safety,” Mrs Prada said. “The backpack is where you put your home, your shelter, in case of difficult times.” The backpack is also what reinvigorated the house back in 1984, its industrial-weight nylon revolutionising the fashion landscape with utilitarian chic. Now, stuffed with an abundance of pieces that are sure to sell – perhaps even online – it is where it might once again find salvation. “That was fun,” Mrs Prada summated as she closed her brief interview backstage. And she’s right, it was – fun, smart and utterly saleable.

Dazed – 20 juin 2016

Prada’s ravers make a case for a united world

Exploring the deeper meaning behind the brightly-hued camping hats, sandals, windbreakers and waterproofs of the house’s SS17 collection

When it comes to Prada, there’s always more to its collections than meets the eye. Yesterday, in a chainlink-constructed set illuminated by a rainbow of neon lights, Miuccia Prada sent models packing – literally. With colourful camping hats, sandals, windbreakers and waterproofs, as well as torches around their necks, and water bottles hanging from waistbands, they looked set for a weekend of raving – helped along by the soundtrack of 90s dance anthem “Insomnia”. The majority of models wore backpacks hung with extra pouches and with straps that crossed around the waist, as well as a spare jacket and even an alternative pair of formal shoes attached. “In case you want to have a beautiful evening,” Mrs Prada said with a smile.

It’s the second season in a row that the designer has explored the idea of travel – AW16 was a historic, violently beautiful vision of sea-tossed sailors, their clothes pulled asunder, collars askew, naturally prompting comparisons to the migrant crisis. With issues of immigration continuing to divide Europe, it’s still a relevant theme, and Prada weighed in by discussing the benefits that journeying brings – an expanded worldview, the sharing and joining of cultures. Such could be found in the childlike buddha, palm tree and mariachi band prints borrowed from Iceland, Mexico, and India, as well as maps taken straight from Google Earth. “The core goal is to share with other people, » Prada asserted. « Other cultures, other mentalities.”

“The backpack – where you put your home, your shelter. Just in case there are difficult times” – Miuccia Prada
But the idea of a coming storm was there, too – some garments were printed with weather forecasts that saw the red eye of a hurricane beginning to form. If last season was about the crossing oceans, this was arriving on land – carrying your possessions on your back, forging a new path into the unknown. As Prada warned: “The backpack – where you put your home, your shelter. Just in case there are difficult times.” These weren’t just festival campers or gap-year-goers – also present was the idea of travel for other reasons, in the form of a soldier like green suit and a series of more sombre looks (matched by Björk’s “Army of Me”, which fittingly kicked off the Frédéric Sanchez composed soundtrack). Of course, the collection was a visual feast, beautiful on the surface, and easy to appreciate aesthetically. But it’s the way Prada uses clothes to translate meaning at a deeper level that makes her work so special. Backstage, she emphasised that this season was focused on the present, the now – if you were willing to listen, these clothes spoke volumes about the nature of our world today.

Business of Fashion – 20 juin 2016

Prada’s Summer of love
Youthful idealism is Miuccia Prada’s antidote to a world full of violence and fear.

BY TIM BLANKS
MILAN, Italy — Miuccia Prada insisted she’d never heard the word “wanderlust” before, but it lit a fire under her new collection, with its tribe of boys and girls carrying their lives in their backpacks as they trekked into the unknown in their sandals and socks.

If travel was the inspiration for the last Prada collections, Mrs P saw those excursions as a journey through the past. Here, we were gazing into the gaping maw of an uncertain future. “I’m full of fear,” she said. “I’m optimistic on principle, but I see what is happening around, and my fear is mounting.”

Still, she offered a fully formed testament to hope, or, at least, the hope that accompanies youthful idealism. The show’s rave-iness evoked the legendary, ecstasy-soaked summers of love in the late 1980s, Frederic Sanchez’s soundtrack mixing the electro splendour of Faithless with Bedtime Story, the song Bjork wrote for Madonna. “Travelling to the arms of unconsciousness,” sang Madonna. “The trip always has different meanings,” Miuccia added cryptically.

For an incisive thinker like Miuccia Prada, it shouldn’t be difficult to put together a collection that repudiates all the bullshit that male-dominated constructs are spewing into the cultural mainstream. There was a sense here that she’s maybe just getting started. In the past, Prada’s collections for men have emphasized male vulnerability, ineffectuality even. What was shown today — a men’s collection for Spring 2017, a Resort collection for women — emphasised the commonality in diversity. The issue is no longer vulnerability; it’s survival, regardless of gender, race, colour or creed.

So both collections were about ready-for-anything mobility. It was a fashion show so boys’ backpacks dangled a handy pair of dress shoes. The girls’ dangled heels. So did the last male model’s. (That’s ready for anything.) But the overriding message was The Mix. There was an element of customisation, with embroidery and doodads and ethnic flourishes, ways to individualise your stuff. Otherwise, there was just that reassuring sense of tribalism. Back in some much more secure day, Prada created a world around a black nylon backpack. There it was today, nestled in the middle of a riot of pattern and colour. Back to the source — you know we have no choice but to go there.

AnOther – 13 Juin 2016

Craig Green’s Epic of Ascension
We reflect on the boy scout sentimentality and remarkable finesse of the young London designer’s S/S17 collection

Text Olivia Singer
Photography Dham Srifuengfung
Photographic Editor Holly Hay

It was only a couple of days before his S/S17 show that Craig Green told me, “We haven’t even put the looks together yet.” “It’s kind of mad,” he continued, “it’s still changing hour by hour.” In fact, it wasn’t until the day before the show that the structure of the collection finally took shape; fittings were still being done up until the last possible moment before the models took to the runway. If he wasn’t so open about it all, you’d never have guessed, simply because S/S17 had a grace that you can hardly imagine was created quite so close to the mark. Over recent seasons, Green has become the darling of London Collections: Men, his nuanced subversions of masculinity – explored through collections that, when dissembled piece by piece, are remarkably wearable – has offered some much-needed elegance in a week that can often feel a bit higgledy-piggledy. This season saw his aesthetic achieve its greatest heights yet: a considered development on familiar signatures executed with a gentle finesse in both fabrication and form. 

There were trousers cut to the knee, leaving their fabric to flap around the calves, sleeves loosely bound to jackets, scarves gently dangling from the hands of the models – even when hoods were pulled close around the face, they felt far from constricting but, rather, free. The outerwear was created to look “as though it was a tent flying apart” and sometimes backs were completely left bare and just laced with strings, because “there’s something tortuous about wrapping someone in all that quilting in summer”. While extending straps and half-undone stitching have become signatures of Green’s, this time that looseness felt romantic rather than deliberately appearing rushed – and, with a single white flag of surrender providing the starting point for his inspirations, that serenity made sense both on initial impact and on closer inspection.

An Accredited Confidence
While last season’s show was rife with ominous undertones – sutured straitjackets and hazmat safety suits, padded coats constructed from punching bag leathers – this collection showed a graceful, almost monastic, surety. It can be no coincidence, then, that just last month Green won the BFC/GQ Designer Menswear Fund: a prize that extends beyond endorsement and offers £150,000 investment alongside business mentorship. Green won’t receive the funding until September, so “there’s not a direct influence” he says – but to ignore the confidence boost that must surely accompany such accreditation would be naïve, and it was transparently visible throughout the show. There was a quiet power in its gentle masculinity, a refined beauty to its thoughtfulness – and, while Green’s clothes always seem self-assured, this time they were entirely without the underlying anxiety that can often colour them.

An Exploration of Peace
So, to the colours. While Green started out making his name through saturated palettes, last season’s was subdued: silks hand-washed again and again until they felt exhausted. This time, too, the pieces were boil-bleached and re-dyed – but even when they were more vibrant they felt dusky and sentimental: North African bed sheets were love-worn and faded, turned into delicate patchworks for gentle jackets and relaxed trousers. Boyscout flags – first in reds and greens, later in peaches and mints – were bleached into “really strange colours that you would never pick at first” and draped around waists and torsos but, rather than constricting their models, they were carefully slung, completely harmonious.
“I see [the collections] as one big story, and every season is a reaction to the one before,” he said and, between the influence of flags and the exoticism of prints, Green’s boys moved away from their A/W16 armour and became explorers; they were a modern rendition of Captain John Noel’s documentation of Mallory and Irvine in The Epic of Everest, paying nostalgic tribute to British mountaineers and schoolboyish scout escapades. With such mammoth investment for the business of a small designer soon to arrive, it felt as though, with this collection, Green was preparing to embark on a similarly epic adventure. For a man who last week told Tim Blanks that he’d “never even heard of St Martins” before he ended up there, whose shows have quickly become such a hot ticket and who has found himself with global stockists galore (he’s now in 59 locations), you get the sense that he’s set to reach the summit.

A Score of Sentimentality
Another distinct development in the collection was the score: surging and swelling with emotion and transforming the runway into something distinctly cinematic; you almost expected credits to roll during the finale. While, ordinarily, Green spends the night beforescrolling through YouTube for relevant tracks, this time the music was composed by the legendary Frédéric Sanchez – the man responsible for the auditory backdrops to the likes of Margiela and Marc Jacobs. 
“I saw what he was doing three years ago and I felt very close to his world so I got in touch with him,” Sanchez explained, “I think he was surprised that I wanted to work with him, but I really like to work with people I feel I am close to in some way.” The parity between the two – between the collection and the score – is interesting; once Green had sent Sanchez some references (pictures of fabrics, of boy scouts, of utility clothes), Sanchez started to search for what could work to accompany it, “something that felt familiar”. He ended up mixing different versions of Roy Harper’s Another Day, adding and subtracting layers of sound, fromKate Bush and Peter Gabriel, from Elizabeth Fraser, from Oliver Coates. “I was washing the songs, like he was washing the clothes; I wanted to achieve this strange romanticism,” he explains. Harper himself is determinedly Romantic (with a capital R), and so there was a bizarre and powerful synchronicity with the Keatsian sentimentality of the collection, and its somewhat sublime narrative.
“I saw the response to the show,” says Sanchez afterwards. “And people were touched. It doesn’t happen like that all the time; I have seen that at some Prada shows, some Comme des Garçons shows, but it’s not always like that. It was special.” And special it was. “We are at a crucial stage where we’re almost at the end of NewGen,” Green reflected last week, “and at the end of all of the amazing people who have supported us, doing stuff for next to nothing. Now it’s time to build some foundations, and create a brand that is sustainable.” You certainly get the feeling that he’s well on his way to the top.

Dazed Digital – 12 Juin 2016

Frédéric Sanchez on crafting Craig Green’s SS17 soundtrack

Exclusive: the legendary sound director discusses soundtracking the designer’s poetic SS17 show – plus, discover his track list

At his SS17 show on Friday, Craig Green captivated the fashion industry once more with a collection that drew on Boy Scouts and Indian draping. It was an emotional show, both because of the poetry of the collection and the touching soundtrack created by cult music composer Frédéric Sanchez.
“I’ve followed Craig’s work for a while,” said Sanchez, who has worked with Comme des Garçons,Prada and Jil Sander among others, speaking ahead of the show. “What I like about his work is that you have things from the past meet things from the future – like Symbolist paintings. There is something so inspiring and poetic about it. I wanted to work with him and, you know, try and enter his world.”
And enter his world he did, with a soundtrack featuring Oliver Coates, Colin Self, Kate Bush, Vampillia and Roy Harper. Music, says Sanchez, is like the “decor” or “perfume” that helps turn the presentation of clothes into something more special, engaging the audience’s ears as well as their eyes. Backstage at the show, Green said that the music we heard was the first mix Sanchez gave him to listen too. “It was just a really easy, natural process,” he said, commenting on his experience of working with the producer. 
Of course, Sanchez’s decision to work with Green is interesting in and of itself – he worked on Martin Margiela’s debut show in ’88 and has worked with other designers from the very start of their careers. “There’s something that attracted me (about Green’s work). You know, it’s exactly the same feeling I had when I first saw some things from Margiela, Yohji, and Comme.” As Green’s career goes from strength to strength (he’s just won a major grant), his collaboration with Sanchez is further proof that there’s much more to come from the designer. 

TRACK LIST
1. Oliver Coates, “Another Day (Bryce Hackford Remix)”, Another Fantasy
2. Colin Self, “Elation I”, Elation
3. Oliver Coates, “Another Day”, Towards The Blessed Islands
4. Kate Bush & Peter Gabriel, “Live in Europe 79 & 80”, Another Day
5. Vampillia, “Hope”, Some Nightmares Take You Aurora
6. Roy Harper, “Another Day”, Songs of Love and Loss, Vol. 1 & 2

Business Of Fashion – 9 Juin 2016

Can Craig Green Build a Real Business?

On the eve of London Collections: Men, the designer talks exclusively to Tim Blanks about turning his undeniable creative vision into ‘product that people want to buy.’

BY TIM BLANKS
LONDON, United Kingdom — Craig Green owns five t-shirts, two pairs of jeans and a jacket. It’s one of his own, a quilted, lace-tied worker’s jacket in indigo cotton that he based on the black jean jacket he’d been wearing every day up till that point. It’s all he needs, really, when his sturdy worker’s frame wears it so well. It’s always reassuring when a menswear designer looks good in his own clothes, even more so when those clothes pose a challenge to the sartorial status quo, as Green’s often have. But since his first show for Spring/Summer 2015, he’s been able to successfully insinuate his design signatures into London’s fashion lexicon, to the point where you can see Craig’s Children being born in the next generation of talent coming through. That influence was recognised in May, when Green scooped £150,000 from the BFC/GQ Designer Menswear Fund.

“We’ll have a table this season, we won’t have to sit on boxes.” That’s what his tiny team cried plaintively on news of his win. They’ll find out whether that’s the case when the money comes through in September. Before then, there’s Green’s show for Spring 2017, the highlight of the opening day of London Collections: Men. But first, the designer has to finish it.

I thought last season’s collection had echoes of North Africa in its desert tones and nomad stripes. They’re more explicit for Spring 2017. Hand-blocked prints in bleached-out pastel tones are borrowed, says Green, from old Moroccan bed sheets. “I wanted to go back to colour and print. We did it a lot at the beginning with all those hand-painted pieces, but not since then. Last season was faded, aged and washed. It was an older energy. So this time, we started with acidic, really saturated colour. But then we decided we didn’t like that, so we bleached everything out, going for a more romantic feeling. Then it all shrank, so we had to make it all again. We’re never really finished ‘till the last minute.” And that everything-changing-by-the-second chaos is, according to the designer, pretty par for the pre-show course in the Green atelier. “We’re never really finished to the last minute, we tend to make a lot of samples,” he adds drolly.

It’s something of a tradition for iconoclastic talents to announce themselves with their degree shows. Green’s MA presentation set a fearless precedent with three-dimensional forms that turned men into mobile sculptures. Since then, his collections have consistently evoked pagan robes, priestly vestments, warriors, wicker men and workers from a medieval future. But he himself never tried to define his own aesthetic until he applied for the BFC/GQ Fashion Fund. “We had to sit down and really work out what the brand was about. Why do we have shows like this? Why do we have products like this?” The whole procedure was compounded by the fact that Green is working with a music producer for the first time on his new show. Frederic Sanchez being the industry’s go-to guy for soundtracks that often provoke, occasionally bemuse, and always transcend mere music for models to walk to, this is quite a coup for Green, but he had no idea who Sanchez was when he started e-mailing three years ago. Now, working with him, Green finds once again that he has had to define himself, to help Sanchez create one of the complementary aural profiles for which he is famous.

So, was there definition forthcoming?

“I don’t know if we ever managed to,” he admits. And he’s aware that at some point, he’ll need to. “We’re about to come to end of the Newgen sponsorship and the studio sponsorship from [the Alexander McQueen foundation] Sarabande, so in the next year or so, we’re going to have put down roots to last a bit longer. There’s only so many favours and freebies people are going to do now, especially when they know we have the GQ money.” There’s a little rue mixed into the pride when Green adds, “We have no investment, no credit cards, no overdraft and no backers.”

But he has, at least, been able to nail the physical nature of his business. “One side is creative, the other side is uniforms and workwear. And sometimes, they’re fighting.” The creative side is theatrical, clearly responsible for the shows, and the sculptural pieces that end up in exhibitions, and gigs like the recent costuming exercise for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus sequel. (“We did all the sleeperwear and the clothes the mercenaries wear to fight the alien,” says Green.) The other side, the uniforms, hang in shops like Selfridges, Dover Street Market, Barneys, L’Eclaireur, 10 Corso Como, and Opening Ceremony, where women are drawn to them almost as often as men. That gender-neutrality might indicate something significant about the conceptual essence of Green’s clothes: strong but romantic, functional but emotional, the warrior’s edge tempered by an air of melancholy.

During LC:M a year ago, Nick Knight and Green collaborated on a photo shoot for the windows of Dover Street Market. The clothes reminded Knight of the torn sails of a ship after being ravaged by a storm, an almost classically romantic vision. “Craig didn’t pick up on that, he thought it too whimsical. He saw it in a much more brutal way,” says Knight. As brutal, in fact, as the images he brought Knight of rugby players crashing into each other. Green’s presentations have been serenely, markedly anything but brutal, but Knight’s images proved that his clothes look best in visceral movement, when all the ties and trailing laces and artful articulation come alive. So we could mark the tension between serenity and violence as another Green signature.

Something else I find more striking is the essential innocence of his work. It’s a measure of the man who arrived at Central St Martin’s in 2007 having never picked up a fashion magazine, having never heard of Alexander McQueen (so Frederic Sanchez needn’t feel so bad). “It just wasn’t in my realm of knowledge. I’d never even heard of St Martin’s. I quite liked doing art at school and I had this dream of going to do a fine art course in Edinburgh to be a portrait painter. I had a friend at school whose dad was a propmaker for the BBC who told me I had to apply to St Martin’s because it was the best art school in England, so I said I’d come along to an open day with him. I applied, because I thought at least I could do a foundation year, then I met some people outside smoking who said I should come and do fashion communication. ‘We just dress people up for two weeks and take photos.’ I thought that sounded like fun. Then I tried print-making, because it was somewhere between painting and fashion. My idea of fashion was so narrow I was really rubbish at it, and I thought at least I could go into art afterwards. It was really naïve the way it happened.”

At the end of his second year, Green discovered the designers Walter van Beirendonck, Bernhard Willhelm and Henrik Vibskov, and his horizons suddenly expanded exponentially.

“In my placement year, I spent six months with Walter, six months with Henrik, and my whole idea of what fashion could be changed. I saw how everything was a possibility, how everything and anything could be related to fashion. I saw how you could do it as an independent.” It’s not hard to imagine Professor Louise Wilson recognising a budding kindred spirit and impelling him onto her legendary MA course, the farm team of contemporary British fashion.

Commercial success or brand-building or even dressing men was never in Green’s mind. “I think my graduate show was just about creating objects. I was more interested in making something visual, what I would want to see walking around in a catwalk show. It was a really simple idea.” And the media played merry hell with it, as they did for Green’s subsequent efforts under the umbrella of the Lulu Kennedy-curated MAN presentation at LC:M, the “broken fence” collection of Autumn/Winter 2013 occasioning particular mirth. Now, he says, “My favourite shows are those old Galliano shows for Dior. They make me feel emotional. When I watch them, I wish I was there. That dreamy escapism is what we’ve always tried to start with, but you have to have a realism too. Because as soon as you start doing it, the reality kicks in that if you don’t sell, you don’t have money to do the next show.”

Still, even as Green talks about the need to make “product that people want to be buy,” broken fences now a thing of the past, the idealism of his early years in fashion remains unpolluted. “I love the community feeling of what I do. I love [that] I can work with my best friends, I don’t dread going into work, and that’s an amazing thing.” His epiphany, personal and professional, may have been his Spring/Summer 2015 collection, where he proved he could do what he wanted, still make a primal emotional connection with hundreds, maybe even thousands, of other people…and launch a business on the back of that connection. At the time, I wrote, “Zen was one of Green’s own reference points, but the mind spiralled away effortlessly into visions of samurais and gurus and barefooted penitents and the Polyphonic Spree and even, for one bedazzled brainiac in the audience, the Children’s Crusade.” Me being the ‘bedazzled brainiac,’ you can take that googly-eyed observation with a snort of sal volatile, but I was scarcely the only person in the audience who was profoundly moved. More to the point, retailers backed up their emotional response with orders. “That collection, we had sales for the first time,” says Green. “Suddenly, we became a business, rather than ‘Let’s do a show and see what happens because maybe we won’t be here in six months.’” Almost the most satisfying of all possible results, in other words.

And that’s the rail that Craig Green rides now, anticipating anticipation. The designer whose entire wardrobe could fit in a carry-on metamorphs those pieces into clothes that tug at the heartstrings, tickle the soul. Because his particular brand of alchemical pragmatism has already carved him an undeniable niche, there will surely be a moment when someone or thing much bigger comes knocking at the door, wanting to capture his lightning in their bottle.

He’s ready.

Photo: Bruno Staub

L’Officiel – 23 février 2016

Miu Miu dévoile Miu Miusic

Au hit-parade des bandes-son sur les podiums, Frédéric Sanchez se classe en tête. A travers son studio d’illustration sonore, le magnat des platines réussit l’exploit de transcrire l’adn d’une maison.  C’est à lui que la maison Miu Miu a fait appel, pour sa dernière nouveauté high-tech des plus désirables : l’application Miu Miusic. Conçue comme une playlist évolutive pour l’amoureux du beat, l’application applique les codes du luxe exclusif à ses dix tracks inspirés des shows.
Des manteaux à empiècements python ondulant au son des basses aux bottines néo-western qui arpentent le pavé de manière saccadée, les silhouettes contemporaines imaginées par Miuccia Prada se prêtent au jeu du digital. C’est dans la vidéo qui accompagne le lancement de l’application tant attendue par le fashion-system que les collections du label italien se déclinent en kaléidoscope de couleurs, dans une valse endiablée rythmée par le Studio Sanchez. Mannequin d’un jour, il est conseillé de lancer la playlist sur le pavé pour un effet catwalk garanti.

SHOWstudio – 15 mars 2016


Lucy Norris reports on Miu Miu show



In a season which has been awash with the new glamour, a late 20th century fixation with decon-recon and mish-mash referencing, Mrs Prada created a classic Miuccia collection.

With the fashion pack on the home straight, the pre-show sounds of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Heard It Through the Grapevine’ struck a chord. The Motown classic filled the venue with energy, and everyone had a front seat (or the option of lounging back on a large square sofa). The mood was relaxed, yet upbeat and exciting. Miu Miu’s placement at the end of the season is an essential one. Being one of the greatest minds in fashion, Miuccia Prada ensures no one gets on a plane – or train – that evening without her having the last word on the season. With an authoritative jubilance, this season’s collection was a celebration of Americana, decadence, romance and dress up.Martin Gaye’s all American soul anthem was eventually stripped back – bar by bar – to a raw acapella version. It sounded fantastic. Prada mirrored the notion by getting down to basics. Denim jackets were worn with men’s style boxer shorts and accessorised with pearls and stiletto heels. 



The American translations of English aristocratic worlds by designers such as Charles James and Ralph Lauren were called to mind. Another layering of referencing had an early 20th century Russian mood evoked via a juxtaposition of Constructivism and pre-revolution Romanov ostentation. Workwear cuts of denim created floor length swagged and ruched skirts, which were one stitch away from having a bustle. Wide velvet buckled belts and floor length tapestry skirts also evoked a Russo-American take on Edwardiana. Disposable tissues poked out of the pockets – and looked like an ironic stab at old fashion notions of formality.



Katie Grand was on board this season as stylist. Prada and Grand’s shared love for a pin up really shone through. A film star glamour twinned with a young irreverence evoked images of grown up American Graffiti style sweethearts. Slicked back hair, furry jewel incrusted slides and rhinestone encrusted denim all added to a nineties supermodel take on the fifties. A Parisian naughtiness also crept in via oversized black stockings, which evoked fallen women – within the highly evocative paintings by Toulouse-lautrec – whilst crisp white bows tied to the back of high heel pumps were Belle du Jour chic. 



It wasn’t just Christian Dior’s 1947 hourglass New Look silhouette we saw here. A lilac cocktail number  – worn by Lara Stone – reminded one of Charles James’ love for a shoulderless dress. A reference on a reference, the cinched waists and full volume waxed belted trenches also cued us in on the fact that Charles James was an overall influence on the mid twentieth century style at Dior. The collection was full of playful touches like oversized crochet dolly collars, and tweed plus fours – which articulated hyper masculine and feminine ideas of traditional dress up. There was a Ralph Lauren dandy portrayal of the English gent, which was layered under Hollywood film star tropes of faux fur, crystal embellished sunglasses and stilettos. The final section saw stately home magazines come alive with an upper Hamptons Edie Beale eclecticism. Beautiful baby blue flocked coats imagined curtains having been pulled from windows – and re-fashioned into high society dress up.



In a season which has been awash with the new glamour, a late 20th century fixation with decon-recon and mish-mash referencing, Mrs Prada created a classic Miuccia collection. Like a champagne toast to the season, she was announcing that she’s been here all along.



AnOther – 11 mars 2016

The Anarchic Revolution at Comme des Garçons

Susannah Frankel considers the creative motivations behind Rei Kawakubo’s magnificently evocative new collection

Text Susannah Frankel Photography Polly Brown Photographic Editor Holly Hay

« Eighteenth century punk, » was the phrase given up by Rei Kawakubo to explain her extraordinary Autumn/Winter 2016 collection for Comme des Garçons last weekend in Paris. If it seems somewhat contradictory in intention – and it would certainly not be the first time this great creator chose to do that – then first impressions may be misleading. After all, the 18th century, in France in particular but elsewhere also, was a revolutionary era. As far as dress in the Directoire period was concerned, the principally aristocratic Les Incroyables and their female counterparts Les Merveilleuses wore clothing that was intentionally and powerfully provocative in its decadence, flying in the face of the politically correct in favour of dressing to impress an inner circle and outrage anyone outside of it. Sounds familiar? Comme des Garçons has always been interested in – and subverted – notions of status in designer clothing. It is surely no coincidence, then, that with fashion (and the world in general) struggling both economically and creatively to recover its composure, this was the reference cited by the powers that be at the label, treated, as always, in an oblique and anarchic way. Kawakubo insists that she operates solely on an instinctive level and that her search is an endless one for the shock of the new but her instincts, albeit subconsciously, are very sensitively aligned to the zeitgeist. That only adds to her influence. Whatever the motivation behind it, this revolutionary fashion force continues to express herself in a manner that leaves others in the shade.

Ready to wear?

While Rei Kawakubo formerly took great pride in the fact that everything she puts on the runway is available in store – and indeed, that continues to be the case today – for the past three years she has reduced the looks in her biannual Comme des Garçons womenswear presentation to the most extreme while, in the showroom, the more obviously commercial pieces that will soon fill her stores are available for buyers and press to view at their leisure. This, in essence, has more in common with an haute couture business model than with ready-to-wear, in as much as her catwalk functions as the pure ‘parfum’ from which everything else – eau de parfum, eau de toilette and so forth – springs. The show pieces in question were as magnificent as ever, drawing on archive clothing and furnishing fabrics reinvented in a brilliantly imaginative and evocative way and transformed into increasingly overblown structures more reminiscent of sculpture than clothing.
The Comme des Garçons signatures were firmly in place: plump coils, huge ruffles, petals, ribbons, bows and a cute CdG take on the pannier all built up into larger-than-life-size constructions that only the fashionably courageous and most Comme des Garçons committed are ever likely to wear. They will look sensational. Those who do choose to invest in these very special designs will also rest safe in the knowledge that their five-figure price tag not only ensures extremely limited production but also serves as an investment. More than a few will doubtless end up as museum pieces. Deservedly so. They are among the most inventive – if not the most inventive – of our time.

The Finer Fabrics

Famously, Kawakubo tends to favour synthetics, quite the finest synthetics in the world. This time, however, she worked predominantly in fine silks and velvets although – more obviously in line with the punk side of the equation – opted for pale pink and true red PVC. Pink – the feminine fashion cliché of choice – and red – once cited by the designer as ‘black’, as in the new black – are both integral to her design process. Otherwise, floral brocades were the order of this particular day, painstakingly sourced and created by four Italian fabric makers, three French fabric makers and one Swiss fabric maker. There were 27 fabrics in total and the result was as colourful and uplifting a patchwork of blooms as has been for some time or perhaps ever here. And that’s quite something coming from a woman who has long upheld black as the non-colour of choice. Again, such rich pickings are traditionally the staples of the haute couture ateliers, although there was nothing even remotely traditional about the way they were treated.

From Top to Toe

If the clothing was rainbow hued, the make-up was pale and the hair black. Longtime Comme des Garçons collaborator Julien D’Ys, responsible for the latter, was given just « Eighteenth century punk » to work with and the end result was the type of sky-high, studiously un-natural design favoured by the eighteenth century upper classes to denote influence, wealth and power. For Comme des Garçons, wigs, while towering, were witty, pretty and abstracted to ensure a never overly literal pastiche. As for the shoes… Kawakubo has always preferred her footwear flat, of a sort which, however idiosyncratic, any wearer can run in. On this occasion, heavy white lace-up sneakers worn with wrinkled ankle socks were embellished with also white or pastel-coloured fluff bearing more than a passing resemblance to candy floss. Sweet.

A « Happy Classical » Soundtrack

The very clever show soundtrack specialist Frédéric Sanchez is responsible for the music at Comme des Garçons, and he too is given nothing more than the odd word as guidance only days before the show takes place. In this instance, Rei Kawakubo told him: « happy classical ». There is surely no more bright and breezy example of that than Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite. Spliced into short, sharp excerpts it was a perfectly bizarre accompaniment to these monumental exits. Perhaps inevitably, The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy brought the biggest smile to the lips of those in attendance. Because these were far from the average Sugar Plum Fairies it has to be said.

Business of Fashion – 6 mars 2016

An Empathy With Radicalism at Comme des Garçons

By Tim Blanks

Rei Kawakubo’s relationship with the punk spirit communicated by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood has helped define Comme des Garçons as the foremost challenge to fashion orthodoxy.

PARIS, France — “18th Century Punk,” was the opening gambit in Rei Kawakubo’s prepared statement about the collection she showed on Saturday. “The eighteenth century was a time of change and revolution. This is how I imagine punks would look like if they had lived in this century.”

Kawakubo has never been so explicit about her inspiration. But her relationship with the punk spirit as it was communicated by the physical and philosophical extravagance of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s clothing has been one of her most enduring and rewarding. And her empathy with their radicalism has helped define Comme des Garcons as the foremost challenge to fashion orthodoxy.

Which is why her collection today was initially something of a surprise. The 18th century had punks, the punkiest punks of all time, the lowborns, the guttersnipes, the sans culottes who herded aristos to the guillotine during the French Revolution.

But Kawakubo’s vision of 18th century punk was more of the salon variety, like the sans culottes had torn the curtains from Versailles’ windows, the fabric from the palace’s sofas, the garments from Marie Antoinette’s closets, and reconstituted them as a parody of court dress.

And that was where her idiosyncratic notion of punk insinuated itself. Courtly tropes — panniers, hoop skirts, brocades, bustles, corsets, elongated sleeves and any element of dress that interfered with normal function (because normal function was precisely what courtiers could/would not demand of their garb) — were ruthlessly dissected into extravagantly useless articulations.

And there could be no outfit more ineffective than Kawakubo’s closing look. A hillock of ruffles, six feet wide if it was an inch, edged its way cautiously down the catwalk. The 18thcentury, one hundred years of political and philosophical ferment, was stilled into stasis. Destruction of the status quo? Nothing beats it.

But Kawakubo is much too canny a social observer to fall for something that wholly obvious. When she spoke of 18th century punk, she was surely aware of the precursors to revolution, the ridiculous popinjays called Macaronis, whose extreme fashion inflamed the populace, and made it that much easier for the guillotine to begin its bloody work.

The soundtrack played decadent tinkly sounds, xylophone versions of cancans and sugar plum fairies, but that only heightened the genuinely aggressive edge to the sugary, flowery mounds of fabric that walked by. Kawakubo showed floral armour in her last men’s collection, which, at the time, seemed like a statement about peace prevailing.

Here, armour became armadillo, with jutting breastplates, scales of fabric, silhouettes extended into stegosaurus spines. Make war, not love! The clothes were carapaces. I kept thinking of Kafka’s Metamorphosis. You could go to sleep one night and wake up as a warrior, whether you wanted to or not. Julien D’Ys provided the helmets for your first battle — Macaroni wigs twisted into Weeknd or Basquiat dos.

Dazed – 6 mars 2016

Comme des Garçons imagines punk in the 18th century

We’ve had impassioned anger. We’ve had mournful tears. And now comes unbridled joy. Giddiness, even. It’s the Comme des Garçons emotional rollercoaster you want to ride repeatedly, with Rei Kawakubo setting the speed. This time around, we hurtled through history as punks somehow ended up in the 18th century.

“The eighteenth century was a time of change and revolution,” said Kawakubo in a quote sent out to journalists after the show. “This is how I imagine punks would look like if they had lived in this century.” And so the finest of rococo floral silk jacquards, brocades and damasks, the sort you might find in a Jean-François Bony painting were slashed, stitched and cut up into rebellious submission. Anna Cleveland opened and closed proceedings with a haughty stance, appropriate for these haute fabrics. Suits of armour were pitted against the most florid of fabrics. Corsetry and pannier skirt shapes were abstracted and collaged into uplifting pieces. Hair stylist Julien d’Ys fused mohawks with powder wig shapes in a burned-out jet black. Accompanied by a soundtrack of the Nutcracker suite re-rendered on a xylophone, you couldn’t help but be enamoured by Kawakubo’s show of outlandish punks, living through the age of revolutions and Enlightenment.

If the silhouettes and hair nodded at punk, so did the kinky pink vinyl that made up a cut-up teddy suit and the finale mantua-esque ruffled dress held together with bondage straps as worn by Anna Cleveland. It’s the exact shade of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s SEX boutique of 430 Kings Road back in 1974. It’s also the same shade of pink worn by the coquettish woman in Jean Honoré Fragonard’s painting The Swing. She’s being watched by a cheeky peeping tom in the bushes and so there was something salacious going on in Kawakubo’s powder pink punks too. The mini shift dresses underneath barely covered bums.

Beneath Kawakubo’s riot of florals and pompish punk, there was a bigger message to be mined. Turns out all these supremely beautiful fabrics were sourced from Lyon, once Europe’s centre of fine silk production and home to the most skilled weavers and craftsmen at historic fabric houses like Bucol and Prelle. Someone backstage even jokingly said, “This is going to be fucking expensive!” In a fashion age, where contemporary pricing and accessibility is lauded, trust contrarian Kawakubo to push back and say ‘No, thank you.’ This was Kawakubo’s clarion call perhaps to the industry to see the rebellious side of savoir-faire. Craftsmanship is often doled out to us with slow hands and quiet restraint. Here, Kawakubo utilised the crème de la crème of haute couture fabrics and pummelled them into assemblages that were boisterous and in yer’ face. How can we re-contextualise high-end quality and bring it to people’s attention? This was perhaps Kawakubo’s stroke of provocation.

As the show came to an end, a fairground-esque music played the audience’s exit out. Some scrambled up on the raised wooden catwalk to venture backstage, eager to find out what Kawakubo had to say. Others skipped outside with giant grins on their faces, as if enveloped in ebullience.

Dazed & Confused – February 26, 2016

Miuccia Prada explores the complexities of womanhood

Speaking backstage of the many roles women have to play, the designer presented a vision of strong and multifaceted femininity

Earlier this week in Milan, Alessandro Michele debuted a collection for Gucci that was based on the idea of fashion operating as a coded visual language in which history, time, politics, and identity are contained. Although he picked on references as far-reaching as the Renaissance, rock ‘n’ roll and contemporary street art, it’s not unfair to say that his signs were easy to follow – your eyes could seek out a Chinese-inspired collar, a disco-style platform boot, or a 60s velvet dress layered over a pussybow blouse. That’s not to say these garments weren’t visually arresting or technically complex, crafted with incredible, painstaking skill. But when the word “real” is spray-painted above a Gucci logo, it isn’t hard to get the message.

The same has never quite been true of Miuccia Prada’s collections – this is fashion that demands considered thought, reflection extending far into the hours, days and weeks after the final model has exited the catwalk. Yes, the signs are there and the references are familiar, but they appear somehow foreign – like the scattered, dreamlike symbols of a Giorgio di Chirico painting, which the show space’s chiaroscuro arches seemed to take inspiration from. Building on the foundations laid by January’s menswear show, last night Prada’s girls walked in sailor hats, fur coats and Hawaiian prints, decorated with keys, roses, corsets, notebooks, knitted gloves and socks and many other accoutrements besides. They were dressed, said Mrs Prada, for an adventure – rather than waiting, forlorn, for a long-lost love to return from a voyage, they were the ones doing the travelling.

“They were dressed, said Mrs Prada, for an adventure – rather than waiting, forlorn, for a long-lost love to return from a voyage, they were the ones doing the travelling”
The clue was in the music, where PJ Harvey’s grazing voice sung of having traversed “hell and high water”, and the alluring drawl of Nico name-dropped the Titanic. “Women – iconic women, strong women and poetic women”, summed up music maestro Frédéric Sanchez backstage of the soundtrack, which also featured Marilyn Monroe and Edith Piaf. From Harvey’s furry armpits, lurid green eyeshadow and expressive, handsome features, to Monroe’s archetypal blonde bombshell beauty, each of these women had radically different ways of performing their femininity and all of their interpretations were equally valid. Miuccia’s model muses may have been going on a journey, but Mrs Prada herself was the one travelling – into ideas and expectations of femininity, into the varied and complex nature of woman.

This found its footing in the prints by artist Christophe Chemin, which went from depicting what you might call A Room of One’s Own to surreal mountainous landscapes dotted with female figures. Then, the little objects in the collection – tiny diaries and charms – both decorated and commented on the way women themselves are often reduced to decoration (and made you wonder what secrets the models might have been scrawling in the gilded books). Corsets, a torturous symbol of constraint employed to force the female body into unnatural and yet desired silhouettes, were tied loosely over the top of tweedy jackets; trousers were not on the menu. Keys were worn on thick metal rings around the neck – a paradoxical, slightly kinky visual of both knowledge and imprisonment. Still, perhaps more than anything, this collection felt like a statement of strength in the feminine – these women were weather-beaten but proud, adorned with rose details which looked pretty, but came carved from steel. Backstage, Prada said succinctly that women simply have more facets than men. After all, they have to be mothers, lovers, workers, daughters and sisters – perhaps most importantly, they are supposed to be beautiful. The expectations of

Still, perhaps more than anything, this collection felt like a statement of strength in the feminine – these women were weather-beaten but proud, adorned with rose details which looked pretty, but came carved from steel. Backstage, Prada said succinctly that women simply have more facets than men. After all, they have to be mothers, lovers, workers, daughters and sisters – perhaps most importantly, they are supposed to be beautiful. The expectations of woman. Is there a more ‘Prada’ topic for a collection than that?

People and Politics at Prada – February 26, 2016

By Tim Blanks

In a tour de force, Miuccia Prada offered her own vision of a polarised world: the powerful and the weak, the rich and the poor — reflecting the huge upheaval in the air in fashion, a mirror of the wider world.

MILAN, Italy — For all that it was a triumphant return to form, Miuccia Prada’s menswear show in January turned out to be a mere appetiser for the deeper, richer women’s collection she showed tonight.‎ That was partly a reflection of her own feelings: « A woman is so much more complex than a man. She has to be a mother, a lover, a worker, a beauty… » But it was the way the clothes mirrored those multi-facets — and the emotional states that accompany them — that made the show a tour de force.

Longtime collaborator Frederic Sanchez’s soundtrack of female singers ran a full drenching gamut, from the fierceness of PJ Harvey, to the pain of Piaf to the chill anomie of Nico, by way of sterling accompaniment. Tears flowed backstage.

Her men were mariners, drifters. People on the move dominate the news. Prada’s women were also wanderers, stateless, “vagabonds” she called them, roaming across different times and places, with their clothing functioning as a record of their journey.

Some had tiny, padlocked books slung round their necks like pendants. Travel diaries, perhaps? “A little bit of culture,” countered Miuccia. “Secrets, symbols.” Always playing the provocateuse, she claimed she herself had never written one single word in her entire life, but it was intriguing how words were used in this collection. There were six, each of them a month in the Republican Calendar introduced during the French Revolution.

Why? Because huge upheaval is in the air in fashion, and — because fashion is a mirror of the wider world — everywhere else too. What are Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, after all, but a rejection of America’s political orthodoxy? By some lights, that amounts to revolution.

On her catwalk, Mrs P. offered her own vision of a polarised world: the powerful and the weak, the rich and the poor. A fur cape was duplicated seconds later in utilitarian cotton canvas. What looked like a surgical corset gripped a perfectly tailored coat. A brocade shirt was paired with a postcard skirt. Glimpses of Prada’s past were casually insinuated into the line-up, underscoring the idea that time and place are fluid.

Admittedly, a stylist’s hand could be detected in some of the more collaged looks, the combinations of high and low, but there were more than enough individual items that were rich with reference. When Mrs P. came across Berlin-based French artist Christophe Chemin, he’d coincidentally been working on a collage of the history of women. He was responsible for the paintings in a dozen styles — echoing Renaissance masters, Pop icons, movie poster art — that added an absorbing visual texture.

What I wrote after her men’s collection still stands, maybe more acutely than before. So why not just run it by you one more time? “Mrs Prada has always been a political animal, but her politics have rarely been obvious in her work (or should we call it her art?). Her faith in fashion is, however, something quite distinct. Watching her latest collection, one thought irresistibly asserted itself: clothes make memories, memories make history.”

Erotic listening with Frédéric Sanchez, 18 février 2016


The renowned illustrateur sonore presents a party playlist inspired by the secret sex ceremonies of Catherine Robbe-Grillet

Text Olivia Singer

There are few occasions as charged with secrecy as the Sadean ceremonies orchestrated by 85-year-old dominatrix Catherine Robbe-Grillet. From her Normandy château, she directs her disciples in complex interplays of sexual power; rituals designed to liberate one’s most transgressive fantasies from the confines of the imagination and make them real. The widow of esteemed writer and filmmaker Alain Robbe-Grillet, there is something determinedly artistic about Catherine’s own practice: it exists outside financial exchange (she feels payment would refigure the power dynamic) and her most extreme theatrics are available to only a few acolytes. Hers is a vocation, not a profession.

“I think that the aesthetic of these ceremonies has something very cultural, very sophisticated about it,” explains renowned illustrateur sonore Frédéric Sanchez, who has designed this issue’s soundtrack in homage to these erotic occasions, inspired by Lina Mannheimer’s documentary on Catherine Robbe-Grillet’s life, The Ceremony. “To look so deeply inside yourself, inside your fantasies, is something I find very interesting. There’s something artistic about it, in a way. Something pure.”

This sadomasochistic aesthetic – of almost overwrought intensity and the complete sacrifice of power – is reflected throughout Sanchez’s selection of tracks. “It is not a sensitive sentiment,” he says. “It is over the top, but there is something poetic within it.” Opening with the fragments of the Divine Liturgy that are incorporated within Jocelyn Pook’s Masked Ball, we are invited into a sacred world of almost spiritual purity, taken through the furious aggression of Mayhem’s black metal and into the orgasmic intensity of KTL before the relief of Elysian Fields. It is a journey that mirrors the frenzied passions of the ceremonies themselves; a narrative exploration of human desire and devotion.

1. MASKED BALL (1999 Extended Mix), by Jocelyn Pook, from Flood
2. ARRIVAL OF THE TRAINER, by Stephen O’Malley, from Eternelle Idole
3. OPENING SCENE: “MEGÉRKEZTÜNK”, by Béla Bartók, from Bluebeard’s Castle
4. ILLUMINATE ELIMINATE, by Mayhem, from Ordo Ad Chao
5. THE CENTRE OF YOUR HEART, by Swans, from Children of God/World of Skin
6. QUIERO IRME, by Mecanica Popular, from ¿Qué Sucede Con El Tiempo?
7. AENIGMA MESSIAH, by Violet Poison, from Aenigma Messiah
8. SWEET SURPRISE, by Chris ‘n’ Cosey, from Sweet Surprise
9. SILVER SAND AND BOXES OF MOULD, by Helena Hauff, from Discreet Desires
10. LE VALSE DE MARIENBAD, by Francis Seyrig, from L’Année Dernière à Marienbad
11. WICKED WAY, by KTL, from KTL IV
12. LA SVEGLIA, by Alessandro Cortini, from Risveglio
13. LES ODALISQUES, by Tuxedomoon, from The Ghost Sonata
14. MVT IV: ADRIFT, by Bérangère Maximin, from Infinitesimal
15. LES AMOURS PERDUES, by Elysian Fields, from Sombre

févr. 182016

The Gentlewoman n° 13, Spring Summer 2016.

The Show

On 19 October 1989, Martin Margiela staged a radical presentation for Spring / Summer 1990 that broke from the conventional 1980s fashion show and established a bold new aesthetic for a new decade. And did Margiela know how to put on a show! Although we may never know what the man thought about it himself — his legendary refusal to be interviewed prevents that — here the show’s architects, contributors and eyewitnesses tell the story of this singular moment in the annals of fashion history. Text by Richard O’Mahony, photography by Jean-Claude Coutausse.
The Speakers
Pierre Rougier, publicist
Jenny Meirens, co-founder, Maison Martin Margiela
Inge Grognard, make-up artist
Kristina de Coninck, model
Ward Stegerhoek, hairstylist
Frédéric Sanchez, music director
Roger Tredre, journalist
Jean Paul Gaultier, fashion designer
Geert Bruloot, retailer
Linda Loppa, professor
Raf Simons, fashion designer
Nathalie Dufour, founder, ANDAM fashion award
Suzy Menkes, fashion editor
Laurence Benaïm, fashion editor
The Build-up

Pierre Rougier, press agent, Maison Martin Margiela, 1989–1992: I’d just started out on my own in 1988, and I met Martin and Jenny when I was trying to get some people to sign with me. I met Jenny first, and she asked me to meet Martin. A few days later they called and said, “We really like you but we’re not going to need a press office. If you want a job, you can come and work with us.” So I did, and, I mean, it was a very small set-up. I think it was Martin, Jenny, maybe Nina Nitsche 1. Everybody was doing a little bit of everything.

Jenny Meirens, co-founder, Maison Martin Margiela: Only three of us! People had been helping when needed, but it was an extremely small company.

Pierre Rougier: After the Autumn / Winter 1989 show in March, Martin wanted a location for a magazine shoot. An actress friend of mine directed me towards this derelict area in Paris’s 20th arrondissement. She’d done a shoot there and thought it might work for ours.

Jenny Meirens: We usually looked for places that people wouldn’t have ordinarily used. Pierre asked me if we would be interested in this wasteland, and we thought, “Why not?”

Pierre Rougier: It was a North African neighbourhood on the outskirts of Paris. Martin, Jenny and I walked around the area; then they went off together to discuss things. They would always have these types of conversations in Flemish. I didn’t speak the language, so they’d go off and have their little powwow in Flemish.

Jenny Meirens: There was never anything secretive. We spoke Flemish because it was easier for us. To be honest, it was more for me — Martin wanted us to speak in French, but I thought that was ridiculous, because we’re from the same country.

Pierre Rougier: They came back and said, “We want to do a show here.” I thought it was crazy. They were like, “No, no, we’re going to do a show here,” and that was that. If Martin and Jenny wanted to do something, then it was going to happen one way or another.

1
Nina Nitsche was Martin Margiela’s design assistant for 19 years.
Jenny Meirens: The only thing Martin and I thought might be a problem was the weather. There was no protection.

Pierre Rougier: The other major issue was that it was a playground. It was pretty derelict, but an association that looked after the local kids used it. There were rules and regulations that didn’t allow them to accept money for use of the area. So Jenny and Martin had the idea that we’d take the kids on a day trip to the countryside, where various activities would be laid on for them. It was important to Martin and Jenny that we were respectful of the fact that this was the kids’ space and they were lending it to us for a few days.

Jenny Meirens: We wanted the children to stay around the area. Pierre suggested that we ask them to make the invitation.

“I always thought fashion was a bit superficial, but this show changed everything for me.” — Raf Simons
Pierre Rougier: Martin hated pretty printed invitations with calligraphy. Since we were staging the show on a kids’ playground, we thought it would be an idea to have the invitations drawn by kids, so it was like they were inviting you to their place. The next thing, then, was where do we find 500 kids to draw all these invitations? So we cut rectangular pieces of cardboard, gave them to the local schools, and in their art classes they were given the theme of a fashion show, and they drew their interpretations.

Jenny Meirens: The locals were very receptive and enthusiastic.

Pierre Rougier: And then we had to build the tents for backstage. That was another nightmare!

Jenny Meirens: I remember Pierre was very stressed, but Martin was always calm in preparing for a show. We were based on rue Réaumur in the 3rd then, and on one side of the studio all the outfits were being prepared, there were castings, people deciding on the make-up; and on the other side we were organising meetings with commercial clients.

Inge Grognard, make-up artist for Maison Martin Margiela, 1988–2010: I had known Martin since we were fashion-crazed teenagers growing up in Belgium and worked with him from the very beginning, so we had a well-established working pattern by this point. I was based in Antwerp. So a few weeks before a show Martin would phone and say, “OK, this is the collection,” and we’d talk about the ideas behind it, the feelings, the colours. And then I’d give my input. I’d also travel to Paris because I was involved in casting the models too.

Kristina de Coninck, model for Maison Martin Margiela, 1989–2005: Martin had seen some pictures I’d shot with the photographer Ronald Stoops and Inge for BAM magazine. Apparently, Martin said, “Who’s this woman? I want her for my show.” I met him in Brussels in ’89, and that March I walked in his second show, which was for Autumn / Winter. The fittings for the show were such an enjoyable experience. Martin always asked the models’ opinion on the clothes he selected for us — he wanted to make sure we felt good in them. For this show, he instructed us not to cut our hair.

Ward Stegerhoek, hairstylist for Maison Martin Margiela, 1988–1989: Hair in the late 1980s was very proper: chignons; big, bouncy curls and waves — that sort of Claudia Schiffer look. Martin said for this show it should look like anything but a hairstyle. He never really told us what he wanted, just what he didn’t want. He liked it when it looked as if the women could have put it together themselves.

Frédéric Sanchez, music director for Maison Martin Margiela, 1988–1998: This was my third show for Martin Margiela. Martin and I started work on it about two months beforehand. We’d talk about the live recordings of bands like the Velvet Underground or the Rolling Stones from the ’60s — the crowd’s screaming in the background, and the music’s cutting in and out. We were also listening to experimental artists like Meredith Monk and Annette Peacock and obscure tracks from Factory Records. Martin was very into Bowie, too — I think the video for “Life on Mars” was a big influence on the make-up for this show. The idea was to cut all the tracks short abruptly, chop them up the way Warhol cut his movies, mess with the levels to make them sound distorted or dirty, then put it all together like a collage. It was about evoking a feeling to create something poetic. When I was told the show’s location, I just thought it was very Martin. We did the first one in an old theatre, the second in a nightclub, so it was continuing this idea of using public spaces and the most lively parts of the city to present a bourgeois thing like fashion.

The Buzz

Roger Tredre, fashion correspondent, The Independent, 1989–1993: The Spring / Summer 1990 season was actually my first experience of fashion shows. I’d been sent to cover the collections because Sarah Mower, the fashion editor of The Independent at the time, was pregnant. Before that, I’d been working in Brussels on an English-language publication called The Bulletin, so I was very much aware of the Antwerp Six 2 fashion phenomenon. I think I did one of the first interviews with two of them, Dirk Bikkembergs and Marina Yee. There was confusion that Margiela was one of the six, which he wasn’t — he’d actually graduated a few years before them and had been working for a Belgian coat manufacturer, Bartsons, then worked in Italy, and then with Jean Paul Gaultier. As the Antwerp Six’s profile grew through the Golden Spindle 3 awards and following their presentation at Olympia during London Fashion Week in 1986, there was talk about this other guy who’d studied at the Royal Academy, who worked for Gaultier, and who was just as good as, if not better than the Antwerp Six.

2
The group of fashion students who graduated from Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 1980 and 1981 (Ann Demeulemeester, Marina Yee, Dirk Van Saene, Dirk Bikkembergs, Dries Van Noten and Walter Van Beirendonck) was allegedly given the title by the British fashion press, who were unable to pronounce their names correctly.
3
Belgium’s once-thriving textile industry was foundering by the 1980s. Its government created the Golden Spindle prize in 1982 to promote new Belgian designers and textile manufacturers as part of a wider regeneration initiative
Pierre Rougier: This was the height of Jean Paul Gaultier’s fame, and M. Gaultier was very supportive of Martin and very vocal about how he considered him to be the best designer of his generation. A lot of the interest from journalists and fashion editors came because of Gaultier’s support.

Jean Paul Gaultier, fashion designer: He was my best assistant. When after a few years he wanted to leave and start his own collection, I could only be happy for him and wish him good luck. From Martin’s first show I saw immediately that he had his own voice and his own way.

Geert Bruloot, co-owner of Louis and Coccodrillo stores, Antwerp: We were one of the first boutiques to stock Martin Margiela. I think Linda Loppa was stocking him, too. Initially, it was just a shoe line. Martin came into Coccodrillo — the shoe store my partner, Eddy Michiels, and I opened in 1984 — a few months after we opened and presented his collection. Mainly shoes for women, and a lady’s shoe based on a bishop shoe.

Linda Loppa, owner of Loppa boutique, Antwerp, 1978–1991; head of fashion, Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp, 1981–2006: It was like a traditional man’s shoe, but made on feminine lasts. The heel looked chunky when viewed from the side but narrow from the back. The insole was higher. That’s what made you taller. Already some of the classic Margiela tropes were there. They sold well.

Geert Bruloot: He stopped the line when he went to work for Gaultier. But we stayed in touch. Fashion then was bold colours, wide shoulders; everything was extravagant, very stylised — Montana, Mugler, Lacroix, Versace. Martin came along with ripped sleeves, frayed hems, clumpy shoes — we were still talking about stilettos! After seeing Martin’s first show in 1988 I didn’t know what to think. We watched it open-mouthed. It was like I had to erase what I thought and knew about fashion. There were production problems so the first collection was never made, and it wasn’t until the second collection that we actually had clothes to sell. They didn’t do very well at the beginning. But when it did start selling, it sold really well.

Raf Simons, fashion designer: There was so much buzz about Antwerp then. I was in my fourth year studying industrial design in Genk and had to go on work placement — I knew immediately that I wanted to do it in Antwerp. I ended up interning with Walter Van Beirendonck. It was such a fascinating period in Belgium. There were so many things going on — the Antwerp Six; Belgian New Beat 4 was taking off and bringing a new sound and dress code with it; and then there was Margiela. From the moment he did his first show in Paris, he was the one. Everyone was obsessed with Martin.

Nathalie Dufour, founder, ANDAM fashion prize: Martin Margiela was awarded the inaugural ANDAM prize in June 1989. I’d seen his first two shows in Paris and then invited him to present to our committee, which included Pierre Bergé. I remember Martin telling me that the recognition of M. Bergé, and his link with Yves Saint Laurent, was very important to him — Martin loved the work of Yves Saint Laurent. He had to provide a description of his next collection, how his company was organised, a press file and such. At that time the prize money wasn’t very much but it would go towards the production of the next collection and show. We weren’t entirely sure it would work, but we felt something was happening and didn’t want to miss it.

4
New Beat originated in Belgium during the late 1980s. Characterised by a sludgy, heavy dance sound pitched at 115bpm, it also incorporated elements of Chicago house music. Clubs such as Ancienne Belgique in Brussels and Boccaccio in Ghent were at the centre of the New Beat scene.
Pierre Rougier: There were a few influential people who got what Martin was doing and were incredibly supportive. Melka Tréanton from Elle — the grande dame of French fashion, who helped to make the careers of Mugler, Montana and Gaultier — she loved Martin. i-D and The Face in London were also supportive; Annie Flanders and Ronnie Cooke at Details in New York too. It was so different from everything else going on at that time, and people were trying to put a name to it.

Suzy Menkes, fashion editor, International Herald Tribune, 1988–2014: With half those Belgian designers it was a struggle just to find out how to spell their names! It was the end of the great explosion of extravagance of the 1980s when couture shows had become incredibly elaborate. The Belgian designers, along with the Japanese — Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto — were very much counterculture to the big Paris houses.

The Day

Pierre Rougier: We finally made it to the day of the show. It was like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe we’re making it happen!” But, of course, we didn’t have enough power, and we had to go around the neighbourhood knocking on doors asking to run cables and cords from the locals’ houses so that we could plug in the hairdryers, lighting and all that. It was fucking crazy, though it didn’t seem so at the time.

Inge Grognard: I had a small team of assistants. It’s not like now, where there’s 20 or 30. I didn’t have a big make-up room, just little places where we could put one or two assistants in with two models. There were so many models! And the spaces were really dark. It was chaotic.

Jenny Meirens: Backstage really was a mess. The children had been hanging out there all day, eating the food. But it was a very cheery and relaxed atmosphere.

Ward Stegerhoek: We did try to keep them out at first. In the end, we just gave up. The backstage area was this concrete, dusty space, which was a little cold, so we had some heaters in there. And a few plastic fold-up tables and some cheap chairs. We had music like Alice Bag playing quite loud to get everyone in this punky mood. There was a little red wine too.

Inge Grognard: I’d been thinking about when you have those little accidents when doing make-up, like when you pull a sweater over your head and it smears mascara across your eyelids. We put everything on a contrasting white base. The clothes had a lot of white and plastic involved, so we mixed in some roughness with the mascara. We liked it when it wasn’t totally perfect or finished.

Ward Stegerhoek: We used lots of hairspray to get the hair all matted and stiff, then started pinning it up and ended up with this rough texture.

Kristina de Coninck: Martin took one look at my wig — they used hairpieces on the models with shorter hair — and said, “It’s not wild enough.” So he took the hairpiece and ran it along the dusty ground.

Ward Stegerhoek: Martin was quite hands-on before the show, pulling at the straps on the clothes, adjusting the shoulder, fixing the hair before they went on the runway.

The Hour

Pierre Rougier: The idea that staging a show so far out of town might be an inconvenience never entered our minds.

Roger Tredre: I knew Paris well, and the location looked like a typical Paris street with terraced houses but with this space that looked like it might have been bombed in the war. The whole place was floodlit, with lots of people milling around.

Linda Loppa: There was a group of us from Antwerp — boutique owners, fashion students from the academy. We were like Margiela groupies! I should set the record straight, though: Martin was never a student of mine. But we did know each other from the Antwerp scene. Mary Prijot 5 was the head of the academy when he attended. Anyway, we weren’t surprised by the neighbourhood. Us Belgians were quite used to the rougher lifestyle — Antwerp wasn’t so luxurious and elegant then. I mean, sometimes the Royal Academy didn’t even have electricity. When we arrived in the 20th there was a bit of confusion about the precise venue — I’m not sure I even had an invitation. Of course, later on Martin’s invitations became highly collectible. So we just followed the other Belgians we recognised from their clothes — “Follow that one in black; that must be the way!” There was a cafe on the corner of a street nearby, and we gathered there drinking, talking. It was like a party.

5
Mary Prijot established the prestigious fashion department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 1963. Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten and Martin Margiela all studied under her tutelage.
Pierre Rougier: We never anticipated that all these people would turn up. Martin never let us hector people into coming. The attitude was, you can turn up, but if you don’t, that’s fine too. We were totally unprepared for the number that did.

Geert Bruloot: The narrow streets were filled with African people, Indian people, children, fashion editors, press and buyers. Martin and Jenny invited people from the neighbourhood too. They were a big part of the event.

Roger Tredre: There was no sense of trepidation. Maybe for someone like Suzy, chauffeur-driven, it was a bit strange. I recall being struck by the incongruity of these ladies in fur coats stepping over rough ground and slumming it a bit. It was quite amusing.

Suzy Menkes: I’m pretty certain I was taking the Métro in those days. I didn’t think we were going to the ends of the earth for this show, or that anything unpleasant might happen to us out in the 20th. Absolutely not.

Roger Tredre: It wasn’t clear where we were supposed to sit — were there even seats? Where were the models coming from? There were some children around, and locals began gathering to see what was happening.

The Scrum

Pierre Rougier: There was no seating plan. It was first come, first served. This was always the case; there was never a guest list like at other shows. But as all these people kept showing up, it became overwhelming.

Jenny Meirens: People were pushing and shouting that they weren’t being treated particularly well, didn’t have a seat… blah, blah. It was terrible. We didn’t have the budget for VIP treatment.

Geert Bruloot: Jenny was almost standing on the wall, shouting and directing people. It was quite hysterical.

Pierre Rougier: People were scaling the walls of the site to get in!

Raf Simons: I ended up gatecrashing with Walter Van Beirendonck, who was holding a presentation in Paris. Martin’s was the first fashion show I ever attended. I had the perception of them as big productions and quite glamorous — here, there wasn’t even a floor! It was like a trashy backyard.

Pierre Rougier: By the time the show started, we didn’t know who was an editor or who was a neighbour. We were like, “Let all the kids sit down!” and they did so along the runway, otherwise they wouldn’t have seen anything. They were so excited, screeching and laughing.

Roger Tredre: And then at some point the show just started.

17 Minutes

Frédéric Sanchez: There was a drumbeat on a loop from a live recording of the Buzzcocks that sounded very raw. I also had this recording of people playing music on the streets of different cities around the world — a tramp using some boxes as percussion and singing “Strangers in the Night”. I think “Roadrunner” by the Sex Pistols was in there too. There were concerns about rain in the lead-up to the show, so I used this moment from Woodstock where the audience are chanting, “No rain! No rain!” There were probably 20 tracks used on the soundtrack, cut, repeated — using 10 seconds of one, 20 of another, mashed up together.

Raf Simons: As soon as the models started to come out, you knew something special was going to happen. They looked so angelic and alien.

Roger Tredre: They didn’t move like regular models. They stumbled because they were picking their way across uneven ground.

Ward Stegerhoek: Martin didn’t want the models to walk like professional ones, with their hips swaying and all that, and he’d spend quite some time with the professional ones before a show, instructing them. He wanted them to walk more like boys.

Kristina de Coninck: Martin just wanted us to be ourselves.

Geert Bruloot: There was a lot of black and white around the eyes, and these dark lips. The clothes were a continuation of the ideas expressed in the previous two seasons — the elongated sleeves; the narrow, rolled piqué shoulders; wide, tailored trousers; frayed and unfinished seams and hems. They even reused the exact same Tabi boots 6 that had been used in the Autumn / Winter 1989 show. But then there was this burst of volume from the waist, with canvas coats and skirts belted around it, worn over wide canvas trousers, and large canvas bags worn like panniers. It had a bit of a Victorian look to it.

6
The Tabi boot is Margiela’s interpretation of the split Japanese tabi sock, which separates the big toe from the others and is worn with traditional thonged footwear.
Linda Loppa: The colours were mostly white and nude and looked so fresh in the midst of the graffitied and dilapidated surroundings. Tops were made from Franprix 7 plastic carrier bags — you know the French supermarket? I thought, Why a carrier bag? There were tops made from papier mâché, with metal breastplates… some models had bare breasts.

7
Franprix is a French grocery chain founded in 1958 by Jean Baud. It has 860 outlets throughout the country.
Kristina de Coninck: I was wearing a little white cotton vest top, a wide skirt, and underneath were large canvas saddlebags on either hip to create a hoop skirt. Each of the models wore the number 90 in some way — either sewn on to a piece of paper, stitched into the garment, drawn with a marker on the heel of a boot…

Suzy Menkes: It was a strange kind of bleak fairyland. The light cast an iridescent sheen on these plastic covers, and yet at the same time they were so banal — dry-cleaning bags.

Linda Loppa: The dry-cleaning bags were transformed into tailored coats, jackets, tunics and dresses, belted with ribbons, straps and metal fasteners. These were worn on top of oversized sheer slips with elegant drapery and pleating that looked quite disordered from a distance. But up close they were sublime. We loved it! I immediately bought one of those long canvas skirts.

“We always wanted to be free, to be spontaneous, and not respond to the impositions of the fashion world.” — Jenny Meirens
Suzy Menkes: The dresses were actually surprisingly pretty. They were very floaty, semi-sheer, chiffon, worn like a milkmaid’s but with no frills. They almost floated like a cloud on the body.

Jenny Meirens: There was never just one inspiration or precise idea in a Margiela collection. Martin would pull many different things together. Sometimes they would repeat over the different seasons.

Kristina de Coninck: The children couldn’t sit still. They were fascinated by what was happening. We would smile down at them as we walked by; they’d smile back. We were all laughing. And then at some point they joined in and paraded alongside the models.

Frédéric Sanchez: The music for the finale switched to classical music, harpsichord pieces by Rameau and Purcell.

Geert Bruloot: All the models and the backstage staff came out for the finale wearing the now-iconic blousons blanche atelier coats 8. The models had confetti in their pockets and threw it into the air.

8
The blouson blanche is a white work coat worn by the petites mains in the ateliers of haute couture houses. Margiela adopted it as a uniform for the company’s employees.
Jenny Meirens: One of the models’ boyfriends began to lift some of the children onto the models’ shoulders.

Raf Simons: I was so struck by everything I was seeing that I started to cry. I felt so embarrassed. I was like, Oh God, look at the ground, look at the ground, everyone’s going to see you’re crying — like, How stupid to be crying at a fashion show. Then I looked around, and half the audience was crying.

Geert Bruloot: It was all over in 17 minutes. We went backstage to see Martin and Jenny afterwards. It was in the days when Martin still stayed around after the show.

Pierre Rougier: Oh my God, it was such a happy, happy night. There was a huge sense of relief that we pulled it off. Martin was very happy.

Jenny Meirens: We felt very happy afterwards, enjoying the moment, drinking champagne from plastic cups.

Roger Tredre: I remember at the end thinking, This will be great copy!

The Reviews

Jenny Meirens: We were shocked that the press wasn’t very positive.

Pierre Rougier: Le Monde printed a scathing review.

Laurence Benaïm, fashion critic, Le Monde, 1986–2001: I thought it was like a parody of Comme des Garçons in the early 1980s. A little bit too postural. I don’t expect a fashion designer to give me a lesson about what life is or what it should be. The clothes were perfectly cut but I didn’t like the miserablist scenography. And I still hate drinking bad wine from cheap glasses!

Pierre Rougier: Libération was critical of how inappropriate it was to show designer fashion in a poor part of the city, saying it was exploitation of the neighbourhood and its residents. I read the article and thought, “Really? Is that what you got out of that show?”

Geert Bruloot: I think the industry loved it. We bought some pieces from it for Louis — the oversized slips with the plastic overlay, the canvas hip bags. For sure we bought the plastic hoods, as I still have one in my personal archive.

Roger Tredre: We trotted out of the 20th and felt we’d seen something that was special in ways we couldn’t immediately define. That a young designer staged his show in such an unusual location and a lot of high-powered fashion editors actually turned up made this show unique.

Suzy Menkes: I was definitely fascinated and intrigued, and I certainly thought it was something new.

Roger Tredre: Whether the choice of venue had anything to do with reflecting the disintegration of the Berlin Wall 9, as some publications alluded to, I’m not sure. But the timing…

9
Radical political change in East Germany in 1989 led to the removal of the blockade of West Germany on 9 November 1989. The wall’s official demolition didn’t begin until the summer of 1990 and wasn’t completed until 1992.
Jenny Meirens: Oh, no, no, no. That wasn’t in our minds at all. Honestly, I think that people perceive it differently than we meant it. It’s less heavy than people think.

The photojournalist Jean-Claude Coutausse shot these images for Libération, the French daily newspaper founded by Jean-Paul Sartre and Serge July. The accompanying article, headlined “La mode il y a des endroits pour ça”, was highly critical of the show.

The Legacy

Pierre Rougier: Well, it definitely ignited the cult of Margiela. The subsequent shows were just as weird, complicated and stressful to pull off. The sense that we had to outdo the last show with the next was never discussed. I’m sure Martin probably felt it, but he never said if he did.

Jean Paul Gaultier: I think that his way of staging shows and keeping out of the public eye was a reaction to what he’d seen while working for me. I was part of the first generation of designers to be mediatised, and I think that Martin wanted the exact opposite.

Roger Tredre: Right from the beginning, his approach to fashion was in line with the very pressing issue of sustainability, the need to recycle and the urgency of rethinking the whole system. Where to do that? Anywhere but the heart of the system.

Suzy Menkes: He was the beginning of making over clothes, of using existing garments and transforming them into something else. He was very far ahead of this trend.

Linda Loppa: It also showed that you could create a beautiful collection and put on a spectacular show with very little money. You can make garments that are elegant but rough and instinctive. You can have your friends around you to help and support. Interesting models can be found on the street. A simple statement of intent: “Come on! Do it!”

Raf Simons: As a student I always thought that fashion was a bit superficial, all glitz and glamour, but this show changed everything for me. I walked out of it and I thought, That’s what I’m going to do. That show is the reason I became a fashion designer.

Jenny Meirens: We always wanted to be free, to be able to do what we wanted, to be spontaneous, to not respond to the impositions of the fashion world. We wanted to make a simple show, but for us this one was no more important than any other.

févr. 022016

The Business of Fashion – 1er février 2016

Severity and Lushness
No longer couture’s best-kept secret, Bouchra Jarrar is still flying too far under the radar.

By Tim Blanks.

PARIS, France — Bouchra Jarrar compared her show to creating a world, with everything counting in equal amounts to make the mood. The soundtrack, for instance, Jarrar herself reading Marcel Proust over a sound tapestry by Frederic Sanchez that throbbed with the bass line from Bowie’s Subterraneans and hints of Prince. “Just as important as the collection,” the designer insisted. It certainly offered striking amplification.
Maybe there was something of Prince in a little gold waistcoat over a lace jabot, or the gold-buttoned, gold-braided drummer boy jacket (like Manet’s famous Fifer). Perhaps the Purple One even contributed a little to the ambisextrous nature of the collection. But Jarrar has always walked a tantalising razor’s edge between severity and lushness. You could read that as masculine and feminine if you so desired. This was her most glamorous expression of the duality to date. The tailoring was as acute as ever, but the textures were amped all the way up, with the dull glimmer of gold jacquardwrapped in shaggiest badger, coyote and curly lamb and a redingote shaped from a mass of feathers.
There was a mutter of paganism in the couture shows, with Schiaparelli’s harvest maidens and Valentino’s high priestesses. Jarrar’s take was intriguing, matching the shaggy wantonness to the precision of Napoleonic peacoats, jackets and gold-piped navy trousers. Duality again. It was more disciplined but just as convincing in an oversized coat in silver-shot houndstooth paired with an elegant column of creamy silk velvet. Now that was Proustian, truly the stuff of memories.

Libération – 26 Janvier 2016

Sons sur Mesure
Par Sabrina Champenois

La créatrice Bouchra Jarrar présente ce mardi sa nouvelle collection, sur une musique conçue par Frédéric Sanchez. Le duo décrypte une collaboration fondée sur la complicité.

Bouchra Jarrar et Frédéric Sanchez travaillent ensemble depuis cinq ans. Elle, roseau perfectionniste à la précision du geste et la sobriété notoires, tient depuis 2010 les rênes de sa propre maison de couture, après avoir travaillé auprès de Nicolas Ghesquière chez Balanciaga, puis chez Christian Lacroix. Elle présente sa collection haute couture printemps-été ce mardi à Paris. Lui, grand calme à rire homérique, est entré en piste en 1988, par un coup d’essai-coup de maître : la bande-son du premier défilé de Martin Margiela. Autodidacte passionné par la musique depuis l’enfance, il fait désormais partie du club très sélect des «designers de sons» de référence, ceux dont le travail contribue à l’intention d’un créateur plus qu’il ne l’illustre, et participe à son écho. A son actif, entre autres, des collaborations avec Miuccia Prada, Rei Kawakubo, Marc Jacobs, Jil Sander, Jean Paul Gaultier, Martine Sitbon, Helmut Lang…

Ce jour de début janvier où on les rencontre, Bouchra Jarrar est en pull anthracite sur pantalon et mocassins noirs. Frédéric Sanchez, en col roulé noir sur pantalon gris et bottines noires. Cette harmonie symétrique résulte-t-elle d’une consultation ? On opte plutôt pour l’heureuse coïncidence, leur communauté d’esprit étant telle que leurs enveloppes suivent.

Désolée pour ce retard, il y avait ce «colis suspect», dans le métro… Suivez-vous l’actualité ?
Frédéric Sanchez : Ça fait partie des choses dont on parle, avec Bouchra. Notre conversation se nourrit de tout, en continu.

Bouchra Jarrar : Absolument. On écoute tous les deux beaucoup la radio, on se reconnaît dans des choses, ça alimente cet échange. Par exemple, au moment des attentats de novembre, j’ai personnellement eu beaucoup de mal à revenir à la création de vêtements, je ne me suis jamais sentie aussi petite, tant le problème de l’humanité et des civilisations est au cœur de ce qu’on est. Maintenant, ça va, j’ai retrouvé la conviction que réfléchir, créer de la beauté, est nécessaire, aujourd’hui plus que jamais. C’est comme si les choses prenaient encore plus de sens. Et la création, c’est une réelle échappatoire, une respiration.

F.S. : Dans le même temps, notre travail fonctionne en interaction avec l’extérieur.

Le contexte actuel, tendu, peut-il s’avérer paradoxalement stimulant ?
B.J. : Quelque part, oui. Ça fait avancer ce que l’on fait et ce que l’on est.

F.S. : Oui, on est un peu des combattants ! Moi, par exemple, ça ne me fait pas peur, ce qui se passe actuellement, je ne vais pas partir sur une île déserte… Au contraire, même. Là, ça fait plusieurs années que je vis entre Paris et la Normandie, et j’ai presque envie de revenir complètement à Paris, parce que j’ai envie de faire beaucoup de choses ici. Tout d’un coup, je me rends compte qu’il ne faut pas lâcher. Il ne s’agit pas de militer mais de participer, de ne pas être dans une bulle, d’être conscient.

BJ. : Etre conscient qu’on est des faiseurs, des fabricants. C’est ce que disait l’autre jour à la radio Raphaël Glucksmann, à propos du projet de loi sur la déchéance de la nationalité : «Avec une telle loi, on toucherait profondément à ce que l’on est. Il ne faut pas. Il faut faire.»

F.S. : Sachant que Bouchra et moi sommes des enfants d’immigrés, à des époques et pour des motifs différents.

La mode fait partie de la frivolité dénoncée par les extrémistes religieux…
B.J. : En vue des prochains défilés, la Fédération [de la couture du prêt-à-porter des couturiers et des créateurs de mode, ndlr] a envoyé des mails qui stipulaient la nécessité d’avoir des vigiles à l’entrée des défilés. On va bien sûr le faire.

F.S. : Comme c’est le cas pour les spectacles. Depuis le 13 Novembre, il faut vivre avec ça, sans pour autant se terrer chez soi. Ce qui m’inquiète plus, c’est ce que ce climat pourrait nous mener à faire, se censurer notamment.

Votre échange est très fluide, l’un poursuit la phrase de l’autre…
F.S. : C’est une histoire qui a commencé il y a cinq ans. Bouchra a voulu me rencontrer, et ce jour-là, je crois qu’elle a prononcé le mot «révolution». Ça a fait tilt, j’ai pensé à la chanson de Brigitte Fontaine, où elle ne cesse de le dire, où elle dit des slogans de Mai 68 sur de la musique classique.

B.J. : C’était à la fois sérieux et amusant, on a commencé à se raconter des histoires, à se connaître. Avec Frédéric, j’ai le sentiment de ne jamais être dans l’effort.

F.S. : Le travail avec Bouchra prolonge celui que je fais avec d’autres gens. Je ne travaille d’ailleurs pas avec des marques, mes dialogues sont toujours très personnels : je procède avec un créateur de mode comme je le ferais avec un metteur en scène ou un autre artiste. C’est à chaque fois une discussion pérenne, qui dure. Avec Bouchra, on a commencé par Brigitte Fontaine, on a enchaîné avec Christophe, Holy Motors de Leos Carax, ça a été nos bases. A partir de là, on est partis dans quelque chose d’extrêmement personnel, on a commencé par mélanger des choses, Iggy Pop, Barbara, Francis Lai… On est passés de la révolution à l’évolution.

Comment collaborez-vous, concrètement ?
B.J. : Frédéric, désormais, c’est quelqu’un à qui je pense quand je travaille, il m’inspire. On ne se parle pas forcément tous les jours mais il y a des connexions, comme lorsqu’on a pensé en même temps à Agnès Varda, qu’on avait entendue chez Pascale Clark, sur France Inter.

F.S. : J’ai alors ressorti le film Jane B. par Agnès V. ; à la même époque, Jane Birkin jouait la Fausse Suivante aux Amandiers, ça a mené à Mozart… Ce sont des tiroirs qu’on ouvre, ça crée une arborescence.

B.J. : On ne fonctionne jamais directement par thèmes, d’après les vêtements. Je lui parle plutôt d’émotions et de sensations.

Ça suppose, pour vous Frédéric, d’être une sorte d’éponge ?
F.S. : Ah oui, super-éponge. Ça prend surtout du temps, ce qui est un peu anachronique avec l’époque dans laquelle on vit. C’est sensoriel, c’est comme mélanger des parfums… Très mental, en fait.

B.J. : On en est très conscients : on veut créer ça, un espace, un moment.

F.S. : Et il faut que ça se combine avec le lieu où se passe le défilé.

Les défilés Bouchra Jarrar sont comme des parenthèses, loin de toute hystérie…
B.J. : On crée un écrin, et on essaie de créer un bon et beau moment. La mode, ce n’est pas que du stress. C’est une proposition.

Sachant qu’un défilé dure en moyenne sept minutes…
F.S. : Quand j’ai commencé, un défilé durait en moyenne quarante minutes et ça pouvait aller jusqu’à une heure, avec 250 tenues, les mannequins qui arrivaient par quinze…

B.J. : Imagine quand la collection était moche…

F.S. : Quand on a commencé avec Martin Margiela, au Café de la Gare, on a fait tout de suite beaucoup plus court, concentré, avec une musique cohérente du début à la fin. C’était dans la lignée de ce qu’avaient proposé les créateurs japonais comme Rei Kawakubo.

Comment faites-vous avec les gens qui parlent peu, ou une autre langue ?
F.S. : Rei Kawakubo, par exemple, arrive juste avant le défilé et on ne parle pas la même langue. Du coup, elle me montre beaucoup les vêtements. Moi, j’ai beaucoup réfléchi le mois précédent à toutes les histoires qu’on pourrait raconter, et une journée avant le défilé, j’édite. Je travaille avec deux assistants, qui sont spécialement en charge de la partie technique, comme les droits, ou les recherches.

Votre dernière grande émotion sonore ?
F.S. : Moi, ce serait plutôt une sensation : en ce moment, j’ai une émotion étrange en voyant défiler la route très très rapidement, et plus je remonte vers le ciel, plus ça devient calme… Ça n’est pas un son à proprement parler mais ça m’évoque de faire des sons de l’ordre du rêve. En ce moment, je travaille beaucoup des sons au synthétiseur, qui deviennent des voix, des chœurs.

B.J. : En Normandie, Frédéric a un lieu fascinant, une boîte avec plein de machines, que je ne saurais même pas nommer, une usine à gaz hypercontrôlée, avec plein de fils connectés à des tas de trucs…

F.S. : Je travaille avec des synthétiseurs modulaires, des filtres, les logiciels de l’Ircam. Le son me passionne depuis l’âge de 6 ans, quand ma sœur a rapporté de Londres un disque, Abbey Road des Beatles, que je me suis mis à écouter comme un dingue. Surtout la face B, quasiment dénuée de blanc, donc c’est quasiment une histoire qui est racontée du début à la fin. Ensuite, j’ai toujours cherché ça : des musiques, des musiciens qui racontent des histoires. J’ai trouvé ça dans la musique progressive, Genesis, Van der Graaf Generator, Brian Eno, mais aussi dans la musique classique et l’opéra. Plus tard, je me suis demandé, pourquoi cette obsession du son, et du son qui permet d’être simultanément dans des espaces différents. Je me suis rendu compte que ça renvoyait à mon grand-père, qui ne pouvait pas rentrer en Espagne et qui écoutait beaucoup la radio espagnole. Ça lui permettait d’être à la fois ici et là-bas. Ce côté déterritorialisation mentale m’a beaucoup marqué.

B.J. : Pour moi, la musique est à la fois importante et inutile. Je peux passer des journées dans le silence, qui est ma musique naturelle. C’est un silence rempli, qui me berce. Dans le même temps, je suis une douce obsessionnelle et quand je suis amoureuse d’un son ou d’une musique, je vais l’écouter inlassablement, sans me fatiguer, pendant toute une période.

Par exemple, j’ai découvert Dominique A il y a six ans, je ne l’ai pas écouté pendant quatre ans, et il y a quelque temps, je l’ai réentendu à la radio avec un bonheur inouï. Du coup, je suis allée à la Fnac acheter ou racheter tous ses albums, et voilà : en ce moment, Dominique A me berce. Je suis aussi très sensible aux voix. Dernièrement, c’est celle de mon neveu qui m’a éblouie : il récitait un poème d’Artaud, de sa petite voix cassée, on aurait dit Gainsbourg jeune… A l’inverse, je ne supporte pas les voix aiguës, qui correspondent généralement à des gens aigus en tout, dans leur personnalité, leur allure, leur attitude.

F.S. : J’ai besoin d’écouter dans tout ce que je fais. Par exemple, si je nage, j’ai besoin d’entendre l’eau, je ne pourrais pas mettre des écouteurs.

B.J. : On parle très souvent de sons, avec Frédéric. Le battement du cœur, le bruit de la respiration, le souffle… La vie, quoi.

AnOther Mag – 19 Janvier 2016


Decoding the Military Precision of Jil Sander

Text Olivia Singer Photography Martina Ferrara

Jil Sander is a house renowned for austerity, for its stoic dedication to exacting minimalism and a spirit that verges on the brusque. During the noughties, Raf Simons’ tenure at the house saw it err slightly (and wonderfully) towards his own, subversive Belgian romance but, since it came back under Sanders’ own hand in 2012 – and now, that of her successor Rodolfo Paglialunga – the brand has determinedly returned to its Germanic origins. This season, Paglialunga chose to investigate a history of military dress, from medieval leatherwork simultaneously sinister and sexy, to jumpers with the bomber sleeves of 1930s aviation. It was a modern reworking of pieces designed to protect – a theme that we saw explored, albeit in a different spirit – at Craig Green, and one certainly analogous to Mrs Prada’s feeling « deeply serious and deeply human and trying to understand mankind’s difficulties » in her A/W16 collection. The world is currently undergoing a particularly confused period and, as Alexander Fury noted in his Prada show review, « it’s foolish to think fashion exists in an isolated cocoon, or an ivory tower. » Jil Sander’s offering showed just how true that is.

« Clothes have become so extravagant in the last few seasons, » explained Another Man’s fashion director Ellie Grace Cumming, who styled the show. « We were looking to create a wardrobe of clean, modern, Jil Sander staples for a man to wear, but also to be protected in, reflecting the uncertain climate not only in fashion but also in the larger world. » And, whether it was the cross-body straps that echoed bandoliers, the silhouette of a 1940s police coat transformed into a khaki cape, the black leather coats that looked something like a doctor’s uniform turned terrifying or the combination of it all, that sense of security was brilliantly present. « Jil Sander has such clear codes that it can almost become a uniform – and I suppose that’s why we looked at military, as a way of exploring that feeling, » continued Cumming – but not only was there a distinct atmosphere of militia, but equally there was sex. 

Frederic Sanchez’ imposing soundtrack of Coil, Broken English Club and Ministry was evocative of an industrial 80s nightclub – and the flushed young boys, fresh-faced and innocent with slightly tousled hair and pouting pink mouths were exactly the type one would hope to find there. Supple leather trousers were nothing if not S&M; the safety-pins adorning scarves similarly so. The tactility of the fabrics – the 80s Japanese tailoring nylon bonded to shiny, shiny leather, the plasticky pouffes that formed jumper sleeves, the jacquards printed with blown-up maps of an urban city – was breathtakingly desirable. It was a battalion of beautiful boys wearing the uniform of a modern man; as Cummings succinctly surmised, it was « the army within the city that you live in. » 

Business of Fashion – 18 janvier 2016

A Soaring Return to Form for Prada
Watching Miuccia Prada’s latest menswear collection, one thought irresistibly asserted itself: clothes make memories, memories make history.

MILAN, Italy — Prada menswear of late has been a little desultory. Rich in ideas maybe, but erring on the side of dreary in the actual delivery. All that changed tonight. Miuccia herself reeled off a litany of positives after her show: “Drama, passion, heroism, romanticism…” The new men’s collection had all that and more.

No Prada presentation ever wants for a complex, enthralling backstory. This one was particularly rich. The first looks instantly evoked sailors in their little hats, navy jackets, capes and peacoats. Waxed indigo denims looked like clothes for the working tar, and there were shapely officers’ coats for the men above deck. Fabulous shirt prints seemed to depict gods and monsters, the kind of mythic beings that sailors would spin yarns about when they returned from their travels. On closer examination, one tableau featured the likes of Pasolini, Che Guevara, Nina Simone and Sigmund Freud wrestling with classical figures. Each print was created by young French artist Christophe Chemin. His titles were part of the images (Che, Sigmund et al were named The Important Ones).

This blend of historical and contemporary was the collection’s cornerstone. Mrs P said the set was intended to evoke a town square, where people of all backgrounds could mingle. It also looked a little like a courtroom, which fitted with the invitation, designed as a ledger. In that inquisitional vein, by the time models appeared with detached collars and cuffs, I was perfectly happy to think of them as defrocked priests, or at least someone who’d lost their faith. Which, under the strangely romantic influence of the show and its haunting soundtrack, led to Arthur Rimbaud, which led to taking to the high seas to escape an impossible situation at home. From which, it was a short step to the current migrant crisis in Europe. And Mrs Prada was indeed talking about the challenges that confront our humanity in a much more direct way than she would usually, while maybe acknowledging the ineffectuality of fashion in any way other than to divert us.

All of this would simply be a huge red herring if it wasn’t for the fact that the clothes themselves were so winning. Historicism updated could spawn a very convincing cape in denim or tweed, or a Napoleonic smock with a botanical print (though it might just have been rotting fruit). There were those beautiful shirts, some wonderful elongated tailoring (the shearling collars again giving something Napoleonic, which would be the heroism that Mrs Prada spoke of). And there was womenswear, a sampling of the pre-Fall collection, with reconfigured sailors’ coats and long, lean dresses, some backless, all paired with diamond-patterned woollen tights, which suggested the girls waiting back home for the fleet to come in. On Frederic Sanchez’s soundtrack, Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue might have been singing « Where the Wild Roses Grow » especially for them.

Mrs Prada has always been a political animal, but her politics have rarely been obvious in her work (or should we call it her art?). Her faith in fashion is, however, something quite distinct. Watching her latest collection, one thought irresistibly asserted itself: clothes make memories, memories make history.

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Palace Costes – Décembre 2015
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Palace

Margiela

NOVEMBER 10, 2015 2:40 PM
by STEFF YOTKA

Today, Frédéric Sanchez is among the most respected sound designers in the world, but in 1988, he was a 22-year-old creative living in Paris who found himself at dinner with Martin Margiela on the eve of the Belgian designer’s debut collection. “It was really the beginning of the house. There was not an office; he was working with his partner, Jenny Meirens, in a little apartment in Paris; and he had just left [Jean Paul] Gaultier, where he was an assistant,” Sanchez recalls over the phone from his studio in Paris.

“We met through a friend. This friend said to Martin that he should talk to me because he was looking for someone to make his soundtrack for the show, so he invited me for dinner in his house. It was very interesting because he was living in a very bourgeois area in Paris, but in a courtyard, like in a very small place, where there were so many magazines and images and things like that. I remember that he had a table set with very, very beautiful white napkins and with chandeliers in silver. I thought to ask him what was the concept of what he was doing. The environment that he was putting together—like the table, which was very beautiful with the napkins and the silver chandeliers but with wax on the chandeliers—the idea of something that has lived, not something too polished, was, he explained to me, the idea behind what he was doing . . . and when I heard all this, it made me think about how I had this idea to do something with music and I was living with music. For me, music was almost like fragments of life, and there was something matching in his idea of the image and my idea of the sound.”

From there the pair began to collaborate on the soundtracks for Margiela’s early shows, really more like gatherings than traditional runways. “For the first show [in 1988], which was in a very old theater, we put some microphones backstage, so when people entered the venue, they were listening to what was going on backstage. It was a sort of introduction of what was going to come next. A sort of what is behind all this?” Sanchez explains. “We spent maybe two months working on this soundtrack and thinking of it. It was my first soundtrack and it was his first show, so it was important how we started. There was a lot of talking and we were spending a lot of time together. The process was quite long, and Martin was very involved in the process, but it was the beginning of my way of doing this and of his way of doing this.”

Remembering their early conversations, Sanchez recalls, “[Martin] also told me a lot about Warhol movies, of the way that Warhol treated the image, where he was scratching the image, almost like the cut of the editing was not very well done. Something that had lived. It reminded me of the way I was playing with records, where I liked very much 10 seconds of the song, and so I was repeating those 10 seconds with the needle. That was really how we started making the concept of what we were going to do for the soundtrack for this first show.”

The collaboration went beyond just the musical aspects of the presentations. “I have to say that not so many people know, but when I started working with him, I was doing the soundtrack, but I was also doing the casting, I was working on different things with him. It was only three or four people then, working on the preparation of the show.” Even in the beginning, all the staff would wear white lab coats, and even once, take a bow all together. “Actually, for the first show, at the end of the show, we all came out on the stage—the models, the people that were working in the house, Martin came on the stage. It was the first time that people saw him—and the only [time]—and I think there was a moment, I remember everybody was very moved, because there was so much energy in these things.”

Sanchez continued to collaborate with Margiela into the ’90s and again when the designer took the reins at Hermès in 1997. His personal highlight, he says, was Margiela’s Spring 1992 show staged in an abandoned metro station in Paris, where models sauntered down staircases lined with melting candles. For the soundtrack, Sanchez cut together snippets of people cheering and screaming from some 40-odd live recordings, creating a 12-minute collage of aahs! and woos! The clothes that season included midi-length skirts in plaids and florals whose prints were painted onto the forearms of models, the effect like that of a garment bleeding over onto flesh, blurring the line between the real and the surreal. “I like this soundtrack very much because it’s a composition with things that really exist,” Sanchez says.

Business of Fashion – 5 Novembre 2015

Frédéric Sanchez

PARIS, France — It was October 1988. In an old Parisian theatre playing host to a runway show, 22-year-old music producer Frédéric Sanchez was on the cusp of his fashion debut. He’d been invited to collaborate with a new acquaintance and a former Jean Paul Gaultier assistant named Martin Margiela. It was a seminal moment for both men — Margiela was also making his own debut. As the now-iconic Tabi boot made its first appearance, leaving its cloven footprint in red paint as the models walked along the runway, Sanchez provided the soundtrack.

“We had the same ideas about fashion, music, sound, how to create,” Sanchez recalls. To compliment Margiela’s unconventional design approach, instead of mixing, he made a sound collage using reel-to-reel tape. “I was editing music, like, in cinema,” he says. He also placed microphones in the backstage area, “so when people were entering the show, they could hear what was behind, what had been in the head of the designer.” It provided an unfettered peek into the mind of the elusive Margiela, who would come to be known as fashion’s “invisible man,” categorically turning down interview and photo requests.

Sanchez has since made a career out of collaborating with designers on a conceptual level, his carefully-curated, cerebral soundtracks cementing his place as one of fashion’s most respected show music producers. He’s matched Miu Miu with movie dialogues pulled from the films of Visconti and Fassbinder; he’s mixed Metallica and Beyoncé together for pop culture aficionado Marc Jacobs; played Britney Spears’ “Work Bitch” for an empowerment-themed Prada runway; and staged a Margiela promenade in half sound, half silence.

Sanchez is the master of a minimal soundtrack. He loves the idea of a “soundscape, layers that you don’t really notice at the moment of the show, but maybe a few hours later, you’re going to think about. Almost like a perfume that stays on your clothes. Sound is not like an image,” he continues. “It’s much more. If you have five people who listen to a sound, they might come away with five different impressions. That’s something I really like. There’s something quite magical about it.” The idea of audio-storytelling reverberates through Sanchez’s work. “Someone like Orson Welles when he was doing radio, sound illustrators in the ’50s and ’60s, they were almost doing films with sounds. This was very inspirational for me about how sound can be.”

Even at a young age, Paris-raised Sanchez intuitively connected with sound. His earliest childhood memory is his grandfather listening to Spanish radio. Abbey Road, the Beatles album his sister brought home from London when he was six or seven, acquainted him with the idea of music as a vehicle for storytelling. “I really fell in love with that record,” he says. “The second side, there’s no gap in between songs — it’s almost like you have one track.”

Music was also Sanchez’s gateway to fashion. As a teenager he “was really into” Joy Division and New Order, who had album covers by Peter Saville, the same graphic designer who worked on Yohji Yamamoto’s iconic lookbook-style catalogues in the ’80s. After dropping out of college, Sanchez dabbled in public relations work, first at a theatre and opera house, then as the assistant to fashion publicist Michèle Montagne. There, Sanchez recalls, “It was this environment of all these very creative people. She was working with Martine Sitbon,” who would soon be named creative director of Chloé, and “whose husband Marc Ascoli was the art director for Yohji [Yamomoto] at the time.” It was just before Sitbon started working with Helmut Lang.

“After three months,” he says, “I realised that public relations was really not my thing.” But a seed had been planted. “I was always playing music in the office. Once, Martine had a problem with her soundtrack, and Michèle told her, ‘Ask Frédéric — he knows music really well.’ She explained her collection to me, I pulled together a lot of records and ideas, and I started to think: maybe there is something to do with this.”

At the end of the ’80s, when Sanchez first delved into show soundtracks, “most of the shows were still in the format of the ’70s, which means a very, very long show,” he says. “There were 150 outfits, all with different themes. Usually there was one [type of] music by theme, so it was not continuous.” His first show with Margiela in 1988 was “25 or 30 minutes” long, he estimates. “Now, a show is eight or 10 minutes.”

The process of creating a show soundtrack depends on the client, Sanchez says. “With Miuccia Prada, it starts with incredible conversation about the clothes, the fashion, but also politics, what’s happening in the world. With someone like Rei [Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons], she’s not going to talk, but it’s very important for her to show me the clothes.” For her Spring/Summer 2015 show, Kawakubo simply gave him the word “red” as a starting point.

Sanchez characterises the process as a duet between the designer and himself, a creative back-and-forth that takes about 40 hours of work from start to finish. The working period can span months, a few days or, in an extreme case, overnight. “With Guillaume Henry from Nina Ricci, I’d only worked with him once before, so for the [recent] October show, we started working in July,” Sanchez says. “With [Miuccia Prada], we start maybe a week before the show. But it’s different. Because I’ve worked with her for 20 years, I’m looking for sound for her all the time. It’s not like I arrive a week before and say, ‘So, what are we gonna do?’ I already have all these things in mind.”

Sanchez is constantly researching. “We have over 100 hard drives [in my studio] covering every kind of music: classical, opera, experimental jazz, music scores,” he says. “Plus, I’m buying records, films, books almost every day. In the beginning [of my career], I was always going to record stores, but now with Amazon and eBay, it’s nonstop. I’m always reading about experimental music from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s; when I read something I don’t know, I go on the Internet and then, maybe this artist is related to this artist… suddenly you have a huge vast world [to research and discover].”

With Kawakubo, a sort of kismet happened this past season. Sanchez had been watching David Lynch’s Blue Velvet when he saw “this band I really like, Tuxedomoon, was going to release a record about Blue Velvet. I got a copy from the record label, listened to it and thought, ‘Maybe I should keep that for Rei.’ When I arrived at her studio a month later, I showed her the record, and she said, ‘You’re kidding. That’s something I’ve been thinking about also.’”

Often, Sanchez and the designer will decide on the base of the soundtrack — a general direction — and make tweaks as the show nears. “We build up the soundtrack as the collection and the styling [are decided],” he says. “The hair, the makeup, the attitude you want to give to the models, the venue — all these things are important to creating the soundtrack.”

“You have to be flexible,” he maintains. “It’s something you learn with fashion — it’s better to be quick and flexible. With theatre or film, you have something like eight months [to work through the creative process]. Two years. [With fashion,] it’s really quick and there’s no rehearsal. Often it’s a little bit like by magic that things happen.”

Indeed, sometimes shows don’t happen as planned. A few seasons ago at Marni, there was an unexpected power failure. “We had to do the show with no lights and no sound,” Sanchez says. A similar situation happened at a Givenchy men’s show in 2011. “I pushed the button, and everything stopped,” he recalls. “That’s the interesting thing about fashion — everything is last-minute. You can’t control everything.”

Flexibility can also mean having to change an entire soundtrack immediately before a show. “Once, for a Vuitton show with Marc Jacobs, we had the soundtrack almost finished the day before, when I realised that Gucci had done the same thing. We changed the soundtrack completely, overnight.” Sanchez prides himself on creating “made-to-measure” sound for each show. “For me, it’s very important to give this exclusiveness,” he says.

To that end, he sometimes composes an original piece for a show. At Calvin Klein this past season, “I had the sound moving in the space — it’s something that I do for my personal work, and so Francisco [Costa] asked me if I could do it for the show,” Sanchez says. “They built four huge speakers in the room, and with computers, I made it so that in a certain part of the space you could hear certain elements of the soundtrack — the sound was moving the whole time.” Each person in the room heard something different.

In a way, the runway soundtrack is one of the last pieces of fashion to remain exclusive to the people sitting in the show venue. Because of music licensing and copyright issues, the soundtracks Sanchez creates are often replaced in the videos of shows that appear online. “What people are listening to on the Internet is not what people are experiencing at the shows. [Only] during the livestream can they listen to [my soundtrack online]. Usually the sound is changed, because the rights [to the music] would cost a fortune.”

Thus, Sanchez creates his soundtracks “for a live performance,” he says. “The way you experience the show live in a big room is not the same thing as when you experience it on the screen. What you see is very different, which means that when I look up my work on the Internet, I [usually] wish to do something else.” Indeed, when it comes to the soundscape, Sanchez thinks designers should do more to consider the experience of the online show viewer. “I think there’s a lot of things still to be done with this.”

An Other Mag – 6 Octobre 2015

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The Sensational Sorcery of Comme des Garçons

Rei Kawakubo presented a powerful meditation on blue witches for her fearless and extraordinary S/S16 collection

There are fashion designers and then there is Rei Kawakubo, occupying a space all of her own: a space filled with power, emotion, fearlessness and even love. She is both mythical – an inspiration to every generation that comes after her – and a sorceress, working her magic in the creation of ever more extraordinary garments (to use the word loosely). How apt, then, that her latest offering was a meditation on « blue witches ». Every season, those privileged enough to witness her collections are given one or maybe two words to describe them and that is what she said. She likes her audience to come up with their own interpretation of her show and these gnomic statements only serve to fuel that fire.

In fact, this is not the first time she has explored the subject. In this designer’s eyes, witches are strong women, often misunderstood, who use their force for the greater good. The fact that she clearly identifies with them is poetic but not surprising. Rei’s blue witches appeared preternaturally in tune with the elements, the natural, the supernatural, the mystic… And it says quite something that such grand themes were explored and evoked in the Comme des Garçons S/S16 collection – within only 16 looks.

The Magnificence of Fabrication

What magnificent looks they were. Crafted principally in faux fur, from astrakhan to leopard, they sprouted tubular extremities, and were so huge that models’ slender frames were dwarfed by them. What looked like wet – or possibly oil damaged? – feathers enfolded narrow torsos. Huge cotton ruffles wound their way round circular structures, and even huger crossover straps gathered garments to the body from behind. The pointed toes of shoes – flat and in black patent leather – were directed to the heavens. Plasticized wigs, as big and fluffy as passing clouds, only added to the monumental nature of it all. The designer’s brief to Julien d’Ys, long responsible for the hair and make up of the house, was simply « red » – and how brilliantly that worked.

The Magic of Coincidence

The original swatches of faux fur, sourced in a factory specialising in the material in Spain, just happened to be blue, and Kawakubo fell in love with them. She then started thinking about Blue Velvet, David Lynch, and Isabella Rossellini – and about how such a beautiful woman ended up central to an intrinsically evil world. That brings us to the soundtrack, put together by Frederic Sanchez the day before the show. Call it (almost unbelievable) coincidence, or just witchcraft, but the music he brought with him was the yet to be released Blue Velvet Revisited, an album of tracks by young musicians all inspired by the film. From romantic, classical interpretations, to strangely unsettling animalistic sounds, it couldn’t have been more perfect. The music then moved on to Julee Cruise’s mesmerising Mysteries Of Love, and then ultimately to Rossellini’s performance of the film’s eponymous song. Like Shakespeare’s fool, that final unashamedly nostalgic gesture released the tension, bringing a smile to the lips of all in attendance.

The Alchemy of Kawakubo

Five seasons ago now, there was a revolution at Comme des Garçons. The woman behind it all made the unprecedented decision that she would no longer set out to make clothes for the runway and that, instead, her women’s ready-to-wear presentations would work more as an exhibition – from which a full collection (on display in the label’s Place Vendôme showroom for the days following the show) would spring. And so, here were presented fuzzy blue velvet separates, the black tailoring that the name is known and loved for, knitwear, bags, footwear inspired, as it always has been, by the masculine wardrobe all of which will go on sale in Comme des Garçons stores and in Dover Street Market – a retail concept transformative in its own right – six months from now. The catwalk looks themselves sell for five-figure sums and are bought mainly by collectors.

It is surely significant that the venue of choice this time around was the loud, proud Le Centorial (headquarters to financial powerhous Credit Lyonnais). However Rei Kawakubo presented her collection not in the splendid upper storeys of the building, where other designers have shown in the past, but in its depths – the smallest, most humble space available, and with exposed piping overhead. The plywood runway was so narrow that models struggled to pass each other and the audience could – and in at least some cases did – reach out and touch the clothes. The symbolism of this location alone – and its relationship to a woman behind a multi-million dollar name who, after more than 45 years in the industry, remains at the height of her creative power – needs no explaining. Magic.

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An Other Mag – 30 Septembre 2015

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Palimpsest: The Absence and Presence of Miuccia Prada

Jo-Ann Furniss explores the autobiography of Mrs Prada’s newest collection, and how she is the perfect imagineer for the fashion universe

Photography Federico Ferrari – Text Jo-Ann Furniss

Miuccia Prada was not present at the showing of her Spring/Summer 16 womenswear collection in Milan – and yet her presence could be felt everywhere. It was a Prada collection and show par excellence – both strangely familiar yet strangely strange. In OMA’s floating set, suspended sheets of curved and corrugated fibre glass and plastic were a ghostly mimic for a rougher, metal, real world version of events. So too were the clothes, where the bourgeois tweed suit became almost a delicate apparition, reworked in transparencies, sometimes intercut with aprons of original, traditional tweed. Then time would almost be literally sliced, in clothing made from strips of fabric in patent leather, fur, or the finest couture fabrics. Were these 20s Art Deco stripes? 60s youthquake signifiers? Signs of the sportswear of now? Or was this simply something of the future built on the many iterations of the past?

« Miuccia is always looking for the ‘tipping point’ – something slightly uncomfortable and unconventional. She has no fear in challenging people’s perceptions of beauty » – Guido Palau

What was taking place in fact seemed to be a rushing together of the past, present and future, an almost autobiographical overview from the person of Miuccia Prada – who was herself both there and not there (a personal emergency meant that she wasn’t physically present at the show). Her long-term collaborator Frederic Sanchez’s auditory accompaniment was composed of ghostly snatches and layers of jazz, which he defined as “A disorientation of time, where your head is full of memories – fragments of a life.” The stylist of the show, Olivier Rizzo, described “Miuccia’s life as an eccentric clash of culture and knowledge. Where there are so many years of her looking at the world and of her being in the world.” The show’s hairstylist, Guido Palau, created hair that purposely traversed the lines of kiss-curled flapper, skin girl rebel and ‘baby-fringed’ scally girl, “There is an idea of tricking the eye – it could be seen as nostalgic but it isn’t, » he explained. « There is always something else at work, something strange. Miuccia is always looking for the ‘tipping point’ – something slightly uncomfortable and unconventional. She has no fear in challenging people’s perceptions of beauty.” For Fabio Zambernardi, Miuccia Prada’s design director, “There were so many layers of information, but Miuccia ultimately thought it should be beautiful and chic. We simply wanted to do something chic for a Prada woman with experience and knowledge who likes beautiful clothes. That’s why Miuccia became obsessed with suits. Of course she gets bored of suits in a second! But that is why they also became an obsession for her.”

View Gallery 19 images
Prada perfection: Even when it’s wrong, it must be absolutely right
“’Who is this woman who wears a suit? Is it too old? Is it wrong?’ Very often she likes to hate things. She hates things so much it suddenly becomes what she likes!” So says Fabio Zambernardi, of Miuccia Prada’s spin on the Socratic Method that is her design process. In the world of Prada, perfection is paramount, but this is a perfection that is not easily won: even wrongness has to be absolutely right.

“The sensibility, knowledge and knowhow at Prada – a creative, sensitive and emotional combination – is like nowhere else,” says Olivier Rizzo. “To work for somebody so incredible, so legendary and larger than life as Mrs Prada, together with the wonderful Fabio Zambernardi – it’s like heaven. With the fashion show you are constantly challenged in a good way; every fibre of your being is challenged creatively, emotionally and mentally. You question yourself so much and Miuccia Prada encourages rebellion as a state of mind – she is constantly questioning and challenging herself, she sets the example. It is her detail, thinking process and freedom that opens up everything, that looks at and creates all the possibilities. Everything has to gel for a show, everything – and the openness of mind and courage it takes for her thought and word process blows my mind.”

« Miuccia Prada encourages rebellion as a state of mind » – Olivier Rizzo

Of course, Miuccia Prada knew every finite detail and process of her latest show and collection – she was there until its ultimate completion. But perhaps where her spirit was most present was in the rebellious, chic, wrongness of it all – the sort of wrongness that only Miuccia Prada as a designer can make seem absolutely right, and right now. The figure of Tutankhamen and the 20s Egyptian revival could be found in those coats made of strips of gilded python and delicate suede, as well as in make-up artist Pat McGrath’s gold lips; the ghostly versions of 90s Prada past, made transparent in brown and orange stripes; the fabric veils draped across the models’ chests, original fabrics from the 20s, unique and rare with a finite supply fully utilised for the show; the purposely plodding knits and prints layered underneath and throwing everything off… “When I was eight years old my grandmother decided to make me a sweater and asked me to choose the colours,” says Fabio Zambernardi. “I was very excited, so excited I actually could not choose… In the end I chose brown and yellow! As a kid Miuccia was also attracted to things that were so horrible and ugly, colours so wrong they become right.”

In the latest collection such wrongness of colouration was everywhere present, but particularly in the home-style domesticity of the knitted sweaters layered under elegant flapper dresses, or the ornately embroidered suiting of the finale. A touch of childlike domestic glee that could also be found in the key print of the show, again layered under elegant suiting or dresses, yet looking like a child’s bedspread or wallpaper. Here the details are a race car, a rabbit and a rocket – Miuccia Prada’s eldest son is a race car driver, the rabbit is for luck and the rocket for the future. Such autobiographical signs and symbols of Miuccia Prada can be found everywhere in the collection, as they can be in all of Pradaland – including one of its newest attractions: Fondazione Prada.

Prada-art-land: Fondazione Prada
On the outskirts of Milan, towards Linate Airport, lies the Prada Foundation. In a former industrial complex – a distillery dating back to the 1910s – Rem Koolhaas’ OMA has designed a home for the Prada Foundation and an art collection as idiosyncratic and personal as the S/S16 show. While other corporations present a fundamentally idealised, power view of themselves through art acquisitions to the outside world, Prada’s is distinctly different.

Weird, domestic, warm and witty – while at the same time displaying impeccable personal taste – it is perhaps the most revealing corporate art collection in the world; so wrong at projecting power, it’s absolutely right. Full of blind alleys, staircases to nowhere, nooks and crannies, it is almost as if the art is happened upon by accident at times in this diverse complex of buildings, giving the distinct feeling that you are exploring somebody else’s world, with particular clues to who these people actually are. And, quite frankly, they are mad people – in the best possible way. Less concerned with an ostentatious display of cold, blank power and more with a funfair flair for aesthetics as entertainment, the complex is dominated by a golden tower, only accessible at set times for restricted numbers, called the Haunted House. The Haunted House is home to a Louise Bourgeois installation from 1996 called Cell (Clothes). With traces of the artist’s life through clothing – from ghostly children’s clothes to elegant, grown-up eveningwear – it is perhaps the clearest link in spirit to the present Prada collection: an oddly moving, mixed media biography.

Downstairs, in one of the adjacent gallery buildings, is another clue to the present collection. In David Hockney’s Great Pyramid at Giza with Broken Head from Thebes (1963) is a figure seemingly wearing a coat from the show: a gold and green striped tunic, not unlike model Molly Bair’s look. In the Prada Foundation it is clearer than ever that Miuccia Prada is one of the great ‘brand auteurs’ and a ‘fashion imagineer.’ If any designer is making pop art today – and at this point it makes far more sense for it to occur in the realm of fashion than fine art – it could be credited to Miuccia Prada. With her synthesis of high and low, her unashamed embracing of the consumer experience mixed with a little bit of poisonous doubt in the sugar-candy desirability of her clothing, this commercial, self-referential form of pop becomes post-pop, and she is the Disney queen of it.

anothermag.com

Madame Figaro – 25/26 Septembre 2015

Madame-Figaro

Olivier Saillard – Historien de la et directeur du Palais Galliera
« Je l’ai connu par l’intermédiaire de son compagnon ,Gaël Mamine, l’un de mes plus grand ami, archiviste chez Balenciaga. J’ai eu un coup de foudre pour Olivier. Il est tellement brillant ! Nous avons la même sensibilité artistique, on peut parler des heures d’Azzedine Alaïa, de Rei Kawakubo ou de Martin Margiela. J’aime cette passion qui l’anime quand il monte des expositions de mode pour le grand public, cette envie de sortir du microcosme. Il m’a encouragée avec tact lors de ma première collection , en me disant: « j’aime profondément ce que tu fais. Tu es une auteur pas une suiveuse ni une copieuse. Alors vas-y ! »»

Frédéric Sanchez – Illustrateur sonore
« Il conçoit les bandes sonores de mes défilés. Nous avons croisé nos univers artistiques avec beaucoup de douceur et de fluidité. Je n’imaginais pas, derrière son personnage plutôt réservé, l’immense poésie qu’il a en lui. Il m’inspire énormément et je trouve merveilleux qu’il s’exprime aussi à travers  ses photos et ses vidéos.

Il a aussi effectué un travail sublime comme commissaire de l’exposition Gainsbourg à la Cité de la musique, en 2008. Il voit les choses sans hiérarchie; seule la dimension artistique l’intéresse. Récemment, il m’a dit qu’il aimait travailler avec les femmes créatrices, et il m’a citée aux côtés de Miuccia Prada et de Rei Kawakubo. »

Kamel Mennour – Galeriste
« J’admire son histoire, son parcours, la façon qu’il a eue de suivre dès le départ une ligne droite, représenter des artistes qu’il aime sans s’éparpiller. D’ailleurs, le fait que Daniel Buren soit fidèle est un signe. Depuis notre rencontre à la Fiac, nous nous sommes liés d’une douce amitié, et j’aime sentir sa présence à mes défilés. Récemment, il m’a fait un joli cadeau :  il m’a invité, en pleine effervescence de la Fashion Week, à visiter en privé sa galerie. Ça m’a fait un bien fou de m’échapper de ma bulle de travail et de sentir cette belle énergie qui circule autour de lui. »

Véronique Nichanian – Directrice artistique de l’univers masculin Hermès
« Avec Rel Kawakubo, elle est l’une de mes créatrices préférées, je regarde ce qu’elle fait depuis toujours. J’aime sa constance, ça vision et le fait qu’elle a dépassé l’idée même de mode pour installer un chic intemporel. J’adore la passion qu’elle met dans son travail, sans esbroufe, avec un côté structuré et souple à la fois. Je la rejoins sur cet amour qu’elle porte à la matière, point central de l’édition d’une collection. »

VÉRONIQUE NICHANIAN
Je ne rate aucun de ses défilés. J’adore sa rigueur, ses choix de couleurs, son sens des lignes. C’est une fille enthousiaste, sincère, fidèle aux gens, avec du discernement. Bref, c’est une belle personne !

KAMEL MENNOUR
Ce qu’elle crée est assez proche des lignes plastiques que je défends. Elle fait des vêtements justes, purs, sans excès ni subterfuge, avec une trame personnelle qui se renouvelle chaque fois.  Notre rencontre a été une sorte d’évidence.

FRÉDÉRIC SANCHEZ
Notre histoire est précieuse. Nous avons un rapport privilégié. Un vrai dialogue s’est instauré, facilité par le fil directeur de ses collections. J’aime sa sensibilité, sa poésie, sa détermination. Bouchra m’inspire, elle est comme une musique de film, un parfum.

OLIVIER SAILLARD
J’aime son exigence et sa pugnacité. Ses collections sont toujours très bien réalisées. Elle est comme un tailleur pour dame. Derrière cette volonté de fer qui la caractérise, c’est aussi une fille qui aime la vie, qui danse et qui rit. chaque été, je l’emmène à la fête foraine des Tuileries; aux autos tamponneuses, j’adore lui rentrer dedans !

BOF Prada Printemps/Été 2016

Capture d’écran 2015-09-25 à 17.18.23

A Spacey Flight of Fancy at Prada
Miuccia Prada wove more of her eerily dissociative magic, but will it cast its spell on a market that seems increasingly resistant to such blandishments?

MILAN, Italy — At first, the jacket and skirt looked like a bourgeois suit. Tweed and plaid. The conservative norm. But such a thing only exists for Miuccia Prada to turn it on its head. The skirt turned sheer, the jacket went pyjama, a mystery veil appeared from somewhere and stayed (for the record, they were real antique veils, the last stock of a company that specialised in such items in the 1920s and 30s).
There were sheer dresses with dropped waists that suggested the 20s — the Art Deco undertow was reinforced by the hair and makeup, gold lipstick and perfectly pasted-down bobs suggesting creatures from a Chiparus sculpture. The striped jacquards evoked Prada’s turning-of-the-tide “pretty/ugly” collection from Spring 1996, the prints of rockets, rabbits and cars, carried over from the last menswear collection had a spacey naiveté. The metallic bauble on a pointy flat? Straight outta Ballets Russes… There were layers upon layers of associations — which soundtrackist Frederic Sanchez (Miuccia herself absent due to a death in the family) artfully defined as “fragments of life”.

Which was just like his music, another of his signature hallucinatory blurrings of eras and sounds: Belgian chanteuse Viktor Lazlo crooning « Cry Me a River », Lydia Lunch’s no-wave anomie, the big band of Carla Bley matched to the edgy atonality of Siouxsie Sioux. The resulting aural stew was like post-apocalyptic cocktail music. Before the show, negronis with a significant kick were served. Afterwards, the passed canapés included specific items that Mrs P remembered from her parents’ parties in the 1950s.

How convincing — or even relevant — is such a cumulative mass of detail? Does it rationalise the co-existence of a cricket sweater, sore thumb in this context, and sensationally striped leather suits? The lack of a seamless whole must have delighted Miuccia. She has always loved kicking against the traces. But in so doing, she opens the doors of perception to multiple interpretations. That seems appropriate to a fashion proposal as wilful as Prada’s.
So, here goes. Think of the new Prada collection as a cocktail party for the strung-out wives of space jockeys. That rocket print was one cue, the neat little suits another. Consider the bauble earrings, the flat silver boots, the thicket of flying saucer paillettes enveloping shoulders, the canapés wrapped in plastic like astronauts’ freeze-dried food… booze and barbiturates accounted for the narcotised music. And then, a finale with more paillettes, translucent and luminous — like starlight, viewed through the bottom of a tumbler.

Business of Fashion – 21 septembre 2015

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New Calvin meets Old Hollywood
Francisco Costa’s distressed glamour was a wonderful blur of sensuous sequinned slips, silken floor-length florals and sensational silk trousers.

NEW YORK, United States — Francisco Costa was working on womenswear at Gucci in 2001 when Tom Ford stirred up controversy with his “Marilyn Monroe” collection, and even more with the Kate Moss campaign that accompanied it. So, Costa has form with blonde bombshells.

For his latest Calvin Klein Collection, he was thinking about Jean Harlow, the original 1930s bombshell, whose publicity shots often featured her in a silk charmeuse slip dress that could, in another era, have slunk straight off Calvin’s catwalk. One of Harlow’s most famous movies was Dinner at Eight. Costa imagined her the morning after such a social event, a little worse for wear, a little déshabillé. “Distressed glamour,” he called it. “Deconstructed, decadent.” It was obvious why they were called slip dresses. These examples slithered and drooped over the models’ bodies, deemphasising their natural assets. Decadent, maybe, but also oddly naïve — an impression that was reinforced by the unfinished hems and seams. Julia Nobis’ chain-mail knit was laddered to rags. Even the silk sneakers were frayed. The coats were so big and raw they looked like a child’s idea of a coat, like a work in progress. Same with those dresses loosely suspended from straps.

Costa claimed he didn’t usually pay much mind to evening-wear, but this collection had some of the evening before the morning after in the long, sensuous lines of slips lightly glossed with sequins, or silken floor-length florals and some sensational “silk garter belt” trousers. Costa outlined the dresses with slender chains, to which he’d attached little charms and found objects. Jean Harlow? No, Joan of Arc, he said. Martyrdom, medievalism… where did they come from? But then, Costa has always been snappy with an obscure reference.

Frédéric Sanchez contributed a perfect musical counterpart in a soundtrack that mixed Nina Simone, Massive Attack and the Orb into a narcotic blur. The morning was, in the end, all a beautiful dream.

www.businessoffashion.com

Dazed digital – 24 septembre 2015

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Backstage at Thomas Tait SS16
Photography Daisy Walker

Stream London Fashion Week’s most electrifying soundtrack
Cult composer Frédéric Sanchez offers up his twisted take on Thomas Tait SS16 with a synth-ridden mix

Nobody epitomises the sound of fashion more than Frédéric Sanchez, the cult Parisian producer who has been lending his musical talents to the runways of Prada, Comme des Garçons, Margiela and Miu Miu for over 25 years. This season, the synth hero crafted a hard and bass-heavy mix for young, agenda-setting designer Thomas Tait, who’s cosmic-inspired SS16 show took London Fashion Week and made it face firmly to the future.

Speaking about the soundtrack to Dazed, Sanchez explained: “Thomas Tait is full of energy. Before making the soundtrack, he sent me emails with a lot of images of what he’s doing as well as the fabrics he’s using, so he gives you a lot of mental images that can be really great to create a soundscape. Like space itself, we wanted to create something that was quite tough and electronic, but at the same time had a lot of poetry.”

“Because his collection was so contemporary, we thought we should look less to the past and talk more about what is happening now, and in the future. There’s an interesting new wave of electronic artists around at the moment, although many of them are inspired by incredible artists from the 70s and 80s like John Carpenter, Kraftwerk, Brian Eno and Alan Vega. The artists I have used are very strong, and the soundtrack is quite cinematic. It is about the future, but also about today.”

dazeddigital.com

Numéro – 18 septembre 2015

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La playlist de… Bouchra Jarrar et Frederic Sanchez
Bouchra Jarrar et Frederic Sanchez, le célèbre illustrateur sonore des défilés de la créatrice, partagent avec Numéro une playlist délicate et poétique.

numéro.com

Document Journal Automne/Hiver 2015

Cover

Document Journal Fall/Winter 2015, guest edited by Olivier Rizzo
Document launches its FW15 issue with a special guest edited edition by Olivier Rizzo and 12 covers by Willy Vanderperre, Alasdair McLellan, Guido and Harley Weir, Craig McDean, Jamie Hawkesworth, and Wolfgang Tillmans.

Document launches its FW15 issue with a special guest edited edition by Olivier Rizzo and 12 covers by Willy Vanderperre, Alasdair McLellan, Craig McDean, Jamie Hawkesworth, Wolfgang Tillmans and Harley Weir.
In this, the seventh issue of the magazine, Document collaborates with the legendary stylist and explores all facets of Rizzo’s inspirations and collaborations, including conversations between Miuccia Prada and Alexander Fury, Willy Vanderperre and Alix Browne, Giorgio Moroder and Deborah Harry, Boyd Hollbrook and Kris Van Assche, as well as revealing conversations with Jo-Ann Furniss and Raf Simons.
Additional profiles include Frederic Sanchez in conversation with Laurie Anderson, Vaginal Davis by Bjarne Melgaard, Delphine Arnault by Jo-Ann Furniss, Roselee Goldberg by Shirin Neshat, Andrea Rosen by Miranda July, and superteens Jack Andraka and Adora Svitak in conversation.
Additional features include an oral history of the legendary skateboard brand Powell-Peralta, who heralded the movement for the past four decades, and an unreleased screenplay by enfant terrible Bruce LaBruce.
Original artist portfolios include Wolfgang Tillmans, Jenny Holzer, Peter De Potter, Berlinde De Bruyckere, and Francesco Vezzoli. The 300+ pages of fashion include Willy Vanderperre in an epic 100+ page portfolio, Alasdair McLellan, Guido and Harley Weir, Craig McDean, Jamie Hawkesworth, and Gareth McConnell, alongside a special exclusive project with Fabio Zambernardi.

Document Fall/Winter 2015 launches October 3 and will be available exclusively at The Broken Arm Paris, Dover Street Market London, 10 Corso Como Milan, Dover Street New York, and Bookmarc Los Angeles. The issue will be available at all stores October 8th.

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Dazed – Aout 2015

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The cult composer behind the most iconic runway moments
With his sounds shaking up the speakers of Prada, Comme des Garçons and Miu Miu, we look back on the legacy of Frédéric Sanchez

With his carefully curated soundtracks blasting out from the speakers of Prada, Comme des Garçons, Margiela and Miu Miu, Frédéric Sanchez has become a catwalk icon in his own right. Whether he’s transporting you to another time with his live compositions or mixing up Metallica and Beyoncé, his vast and varied tastes have changed the game for fashion soundtracks. After speaking to Editorial Director Tim Noakes about his already formidable legacy at the Dazed Fashion Forum this weekend, we pick out some of his career-defining moments.

MIU MIU AW09

To accompany Miu Miu’s sultry 2009 show, Sanchez dusted off his 70s cinema collection – scrapping music for soft-spoken European dialogue. Setting a disquietingly sensuous scene, the show featured scores and sex-fuelled conversations from a number of romantic classics (including the films of Luchino Visconti, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Barbet Schroeder).

PRADA AW14

With two sunken orchestra pits hidden away in the shadows, this marked a dark and mysterious start to Prada’s AW season. Once again inspired by the German noir aesthetic of director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Sanchez used cult actress Barbara Sukowa’s vocal talents to resurrect the gloomy spectres of 20s composers Kurt Weill and Arnold Shoenberg.

MARTINE SITBON AW97

Combining the sleek raven-chic of Parisian designer Martine Sitbon with the drones and thrashes of experimental band Hovercraft, Sanchez claims this was one of his all time favourite fashion collaborations. “I really loved that show,” he remembers. “The music, very violent and poetic, had no reference at all. An important side in my work, beside creating mental images, is to take the audience on a sound journey.”

COMME DES GARÇONS SS15

The eerie drones returned for this bloodthirsty Comme des Garçons’ show, with Sanchez creating an atmosphere so heavy it was almost suffocating. Given just the word ‘red’ by Rei Kawakubo as a starting point, he ended up pulling together tracks from metal bands Earth and Sunn O))) to add another, darker layer to the already savage show.

dazeddigital.com

juil. 202015

Dazed – July 2015

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We admit it; the fashion industry has a pretty bad reputation for being hard to crack. You’re interested, sure – but how do you actually get an internship? Or start your own label? Or get your work seen by the right eyes?

Introducing the Dazed Fashion Forum, a day long event coming soon to the Amazon Fashion Photographic Studio in Shoreditch, designed to break down the barriers and bring the best names in fashion directly to those who want to find their feet in the industry. Happening on the 25th of July, the day will feature the likes of Louis Vuitton’s menswear style director Kim Jones unpacking the subcultural references behind his collections; designer Gareth Pugh explaining how he went from squatting in a Peckham department store to getting his graduate collection on the cover of Dazed; our co-founder Jefferson Hack going head to head with Diesel creative director Nicola Formichetti on youth culture tribes; make-up alchemist Isamaya Ffrench on pushing the boundaries of beauty for designers like Junya Watanabe; and much more from AnOther Magazine Fashion Director Katie Shillingford, filmmaker Ruth Hogben, writer Susie Lau, designer Ryan Lo, editor Reba Maybury and others.

There’ll also be a chance to hear from fashion’s unsung heroes who have the jobs you never knew you wanted (like composer Frédéric Sanchez, who’ll be revealing what it’s like to make mixes for Miuccia Prada and Rei Kawakubo to use in their shows) and live demonstrations throughout the day, including Rankin shooting members of the audience – styled by Senior Fashion Editor Emma Wyman – for the pages of Dazed. London designer Claire Barrow will be painting portraits, which you can get printed on your very own custom t-shirt, and set designer Gary Card will also be getting his hands dirty.

“Dazed Fashion Forum is open to all young creatives who want to break into fashion and media,” explains Jefferson Hack of the event. “It’s about leftfield thinkers, sharing radical ideas, opening up new possibilities and showing how youth can break into the industry and make a mark.” “Amazon Fashion is proud to be partnering with the Dazed team to bring the Fashion Forum to life,” adds Juliet Warkentin, Director Brand and Creative at Amazon Fashion EU. “This is a unique opportunity to bring creative role models together with young people just breaking into the industry. We believe in nurturing emerging talent and this is an inspiring project to be involved with.”

If you fancy covering the event for Dazed, tell us, in 200-300 words, what you think is this year’s biggest fashion moment so far and why. Send your answer to fashionforum@dazedgroup.com – winners will have the opportunity to interview any of the line up for a piece to be published online, and runners-up will also get free tickets.

dazeddigital.com

Numero – July 2015

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Bouchra Jarrar Couture show fall-winter 2016 collection
FASHION WEEK July 10th 2015
Numéro talked to Bouchra Jarrar and her sound designer, Frédéric Sanchez, just after her couture show at Paris’s Lycée Henri IV.

Numéro: Let’s talk about the importance of sound in Bouchra Jarrar runway shows. Each season, rather than a classic soundtrack you use a collage of music and spoken words, taken from film clips, that are essential for telling the story of your show.

Bouchra Jarrar: Yes indeed, they’re compositions. Frédéric Sanchez is someone I talk with a lot when I’m preparing my collections. He’s influenced me enormously – he’s like an artist brother. I talk to him a lot about sensations, about feelings… He’s someone I need so as to be able to tell my story. When I’ve found my central theme, once I’m at the stage of pure creation, that’s when we start to exchange ideas, four to five weeks before the runway show. We imagine a story, but without necessarily translating it into words, and we borrow from the words of authors we like. Today it was Agnès Varda.

Frédéric Sanchez: Our exchange is crucial, but the venue is also very important. The question is, how can you inhabit this space with sound? This was my high school, so my school memories from the 80s are mixed in with the story. I remember that at the time Jane Birkin was playing in a production by Patrice Chéreau, and that simultaneously Chéreau had also produced a Mozart opera. This mixture of things is woven into the story we tell – it’s a collage of memories and emotions.

Bouchra, in this collection, you give place of honour to two colours, champagne and azure, both of which are evocative of a rather 1970s, Studio 54 sensuality, and are very refined and very chic.

Bouchra Jarrar: I created my own textiles for the collection, so I also created these exact colours. They tell a story that is both strong and diluted at the same time. To say it very simply, they’re the colours of the sky.

Among the outfits that stand out are those that combine a sleeveless trench coat with trousers – we’re a long way here from the flouncy cocktail dresses so typical of haute couture.

Bouchra Jarrar: Cocktail dresses are a reality, and I can do them, but I wanted to show something else too, something that’s closer to our everyday experience. So this season I treated my trench coats like dressing gowns, like men’s terrycloth robes.

Interview by Delphine Roche

www.Numero.com

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Dazed – June 2015

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Frédéric Sanchez’s Synth Hero mix
The enigmatic Comme des Garçons soundtrack master digs deep into his dark electronic archive
Text Tim Noakes

Every month I invite a different artist onto my Synth Hero radio show to mix up an hour of their definitive electronic influences. This time it’s the turn of Paris based composer and producer, Frédéric Sanchez. Since 1988 he has created some of the most innovative soundtracks for the world’s biggest fashion shows. In the past year alone he has scored runway collections for Prada, Jil Sander, Comme des Garçons, Calvin Klein, Miu Miu, Alexander Wang, Thomas Tait and many more.

Designers come to Sanchez because he is an expert in creating the perfect atmosphere to compliment their clothes. Unlike other show DJs who may go for obvious hits of the moment, Sanchez’s soundtracks feature everything from Sunn O))) and Psychic TV to Sigue Sigue Sputnick and Nana Mouskouri. He uses unexpected sounds to help elevate the catwalk into an unforgettable spectacle, whilst simultaneously giving the fashion industry a musical education. On his Synth Hero mix, Sanchez explore the dark recesses of electronic music. « The way I understand my relationship with the sound and the music has always been autobiographical, » he says. « For me sounds and music are like fragments that I put together in order to create an organic and personal feeling.The way I proceed is always the same either if I use existing tracks or if I compose original music as my starting point has to do with storytelling in order to create mental images. This mix is a journey in my own world and my memories. » Sit back, put your headphones on and let Frédéric Sanchez open up your mind. You might be afraid of what you find…

CHRIS WATSON – “EL DIVISADERO” (from EL TREN FANTASMA, 2011) (00ʼ00 – 02ʼ20)
« In Mexico Chris Watson was one of the last passengers to travel cross country on the train line connecting the Atlantic and the Pacific coasts just before the railroad was cancelled. He recreated the journey of this ‘ghost train’  by capturing the atmosphere, rhythms and sound of human life, wildlife and the journey itself, ‘evoking memories of a recent past’. »
DAVID TUDOR – “PHONEMES” (from THREE WORKS FOR LIVE ELECTRONICS, 1996) (02ʼ07 – 02ʼ35)
« I often use audio generators in my work. I got familiar with them by listening to the work of some composers such as David Tudor. This piece was commissioned for a Merce Cunningham ballet.
ROBERT ASHLEY – “THE PARK” (from PRIVATE PARTS, 1977) (02ʼ12 – 06ʼ00)
« Robert Ashley’s voice is so evocative and enigmatic. You immediately picture situations and landscapes with his speech-songs. »
ELIANE RADIGUE – “TRANSAMOREM-TRANSAMORTEM” (from TRANSAMOREM-TRANSAMORTEM, 2011) (04ʼ04 – 07ʼ30)
“The journalist and director Anais Prosaic did a very intimate film portrait about Eliane Radigue, one of the pioneers of electronic music. In it she says that the meaning of her work is to play with the natural performance of the electronic sounds using all the possibilities the synthesizer ARP 2500 can offer.”

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CLUSTER – “LERANDIS” (from QUA, 2009) (05ʼ51 – 07ʼ35)
“Most of German electronic musicians from the 70s explain their work by saying that the war has destroyed the past. I have always found it fascinating that most of these electronic and avant-garde musics were not created in an industrial environment but in the middle of the countryside.”
GHEDALIA TAZARTÈS – “MERCI STÉHANE” (from DIASPORAS TAZARTÈS, 2004) (07ʼ29 – 10ʼ00)
“I only saw Ghedalia Tazartès perform once. It was maybe 20 years ago. What he is doing is so physical that I have never considered him as a musician.For me he is much more than that: somewhere between a singer, an actor and a dancer.”
ALESSANDRO CORTINI – “FANTASMA MODULAZIONE” (from SONNO, 2014) (08ʼ11 – 12ʼ10)
“You get everything by reading the title of this piece. It is always nice to watch videos of him playing with his Buchla music easel.”
GORDON MUMMA – “MEGATON FOR WM. BURROUGHS” (from ELECTRONIC MUSIC OF THEATRE AND PUBLIC ACTIVITY, 2005) (09ʼ45 – 13ʼ45)
“I chose this piece because of the connection between sonic art and the William Burroughs cut-ups. It’s a great lesson in how to create new form of compositions and how to put sounds together.”
SECTION 25 – “C.P.” (from ALWAYS NOW, 1981) (12ʼ50 – 15ʼ10)
“I remember that I bought this record because of the cover. I still own an original copy of it and will never give it away. I also remember the great impact the music and the sound had on me. Whenever I listen to it I feel the same emotion. It is timeless.”
FRÉDÉRIC SANCHEZ – “FILM SONORE 17” (15ʼ10 – 18ʼ20)
« An extract from my last piece. »
LAWRENCE ENGLISH & WERNER DAFELDECKER – “MAPPING PEAKS” (from SHADOW OF THE MONOLITH, 2014) (17ʼ05 – 21ʼ29)
“I recently discovered the work of Lawrence English and found similarities with my approach to sound design. I empathise with his ability to infiltrate and occupy the body and also how to listen to things in a creative way.”
ZBIGNIEW PREISNER – “LAMENT” (from DIARIES OF HOPE, 2013) (18ʼ47 – 21ʼ20)
“I find it interesting when a composer is so close with a film director, like Preisner was with Krzysztof Kieslowski. For me the soundtrack has a big part in what you remember of Kieslowski’s movies.”

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FRANÇOIS BAYLE – “EROS BLEU” (from ARCHIVES GRM LE SON EN NOMBRES, 2004) (21ʼ17 – 23ʼ24)
“It is fascinating in this piece how Francois Bayle manipulates the voice with the help of the computer. Just with a reverb and a filter module you can get endless possibilities.”
BRUCE GILBERT AND BAW – “THE VOID” (FEAT BRUCE GILBERT, A. DAVID CRAWFORTH, NAOMI SIDERFIN) (from DILUVIAL (FEAT BRUCE GILBERT, A. DAVID CRAWFORTH, NAOMI SIDERFIN), 2013) (22ʼ18 – 25ʼ20)
“WIRE was one of my favorite bands from the post punk era because of their cross-disciplinary edge. Each member of the band was also commissioned tocreate variety of film music, art installations, dance projects. One of my favourite collaborations was between Bruce Gilbert and the choreographer Michael Clark. »
JOHN T. GAST – “SHANTI-ITES” (from EXCERPTS, 2015) (24ʼ17 – 26ʼ19)
“This is an outstanding new artist who describes sound as ‘An ambient enigma steeped in post-hypnagogic tristesse’. So haunting.”
CABARET VOLTAIRE – “HALLUCINATION SEQUENCE” (from JOHNNY YESNO (THE ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK FROM THE MOTION PICTURE), 1983) (25ʼ21 – 30ʼ06)
“What a hallucinatory soundtrack for the Peter Care’s movie.”
TUXEDOMOON – “BLIND” (from TIME TO LOSE- BLIND, 1982) (29ʼ32 – 37ʼ03)
“In the 80s I used to spend a lot of time in Brussels which was a crossroad for musicians coming from all other the world. There is always something very sentimental for me while listening to this.”
JOHN GIORNO – “GIVE IT TO ME BABY” (from 10 + 2: 12 AMERICAN TEXT SOUND PIECES, 1975) (36ʼ42 – 37ʼ48)
“A few years ago I went to visit John Giorno at his place in New York. He was living in the Bunker: William Burroughs’s place on the Bowery. He showed me all his recordings of texts and the editions he uses to make of them. You must check out Big Ego – A Diamond Hidden In The Mouth Of A Corpse.”
BILL NELSON – “THE SHADOW GARDEN” (from FROM BRUSSELS WITH LOVE, 1986) (37ʼ10 – 39ʼ43)
“One track from one of the outstanding compilations made by the very stylish Belgian record label: Les Disques Du Crepuscule.”
WALTER DE MARIA – “OCEAN MUSIC” (from DRUMS AND NATURE, 2000) (38ʼ26 – 40ʼ26)
“Two songs from renowned sculptor Walter De Maria featuring a tribal drumming pattern and the sounds of nature. He used to play drums with The Velvet Underground and on Henry Flynt & The Insurrections’ « I Don’t Wanna ».”

 

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EDGARD VARESE – “POEM ELECTRONIQUE” (from ELECTRONIC MUSIC SOURCES VOL 2 (1937 – 1959), 2012) (39ʼ26 – 40ʼ12)
“This piece is connected to the architect Le Corbusier who was commissioned in 1958 to design the Philips Pavilion at the Brussels Art Fair.”
JON HASSELL – “MAP OF DUSK” (from THE MYTHS COLLECTION PART 2, 1990) (39ʼ26 – 43ʼ13)
“The Myths Collection are the very first production by outstanding Belgian record label Sub Rosa.”
MARTIN HANNETT & STEVE HOPKINS – “CONCORDE DRONE” (from THE INVISIBLE GIRLS,2015) (41ʼ23 – 43ʼ48)
“Steve Lillywhite, Brian Eno, Chris Thomas, Martin Hannett, Gilles Martin… producers have always been as important as musicians for me. How to work in the studio, how to make the sound, how to record, how to mix the music.”
JEAN NEGRONI & PIERRE HENRY – “IL Y EUT DANS LE CIEL UN SILENCE” (from APOCALYPSE DE JEAN, 1999) (43ʼ40 – 46ʼ09)
“I am not a religious person but when I listen to this Pierre Henry Oratorio with the very special voice of the actor Jean Negroni I can see angels.”
DIAMANDA GALAS – “DELIVER ME FROM MINE ENEMIES” (from THE DIVINE PUNISHMENT & SAINT OF THE PIT, 1988) (45ʼ03 – 47ʼ11)
“Derek Jarman used this music for his movie “The Last of England ”: a beautiful moment with Tilda Swinton.”

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SCOTT WALKER – “THE DARKEST FOREST” (from POLA X (ORGINAL SOUNDTRACK FROM THE MOTION PICTURE, 1999) (47ʼ10 – 49ʼ55)
“After the release of his masterpiece Tilt Scott Walker did this collaboration with the French director Leos Carax.”
ASH RAM TEMPLE – “SILENCE SAUVAGE“ (from LE BERCEAU DE CRISTAL (ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK FROM THE MOTION PICTURE, 1976) (49ʼ33 – 52ʼ03)
« Very poetic soundtrack from the Philippe Garrel movie starring Nico, Anita Pallenberg, Dominique Sanda, Pierre Clementi. »
EDGAR FROESE – “THE 31ST FLOOR” (from KAMIKAZE 1989 (ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK FROM THE MOTION PICTURE, 1982) (51ʼ27 – 53ʼ46)
“A cyberpunk thriller movie with Rainer Werner Fassbinder playing a detective investigating a string of bombings that lead to a corporate media conspiracy.”
FRÉDÉRIC SANCHEZ – “FILM SONORE 17” (53ʼ35 – 54ʼ39)
« Another extract from my last piece. »
JOHN CALE – “RISE, SAM AND RIMSKY KORSAKOV” (from MUSIC FOR A NEW SOCIETY, 1982) (54ʼ32 – 56ʼ45)
“I always find fascinating voices, sounds and music through airwaves. Most of the time you can listen to them clearly but sometimes they are just snatches. It is very similar to watch the stars in the sky at night, you have no idea about their distance, you see them appear and fade away but the all experience is so poetic.”
LOU REED – “PART 1” (from METAL MACHINE MUSIC, 1975) (56ʼ39 – 59ʼ36)
“In a world sometimes so plain and politically correct maybe this record should get visible again. When it came out the big joke was how many people could get to the end. On the other hand this record opened so many doors that other artists have been beyond. What I appreciate with this work is how the sound becomes more and more organic and mental.”

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www.dazeddigital.com

AnOther Magazine – Mai 2015

Frederic Sanchez on Miu Miu’s Afrobeat Inspirations
May 26, 2015

The illustrateur sonore discusses collaborating with Mrs Prada and the afrobeat influences for Miu Miu A/W15

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Text Olivia Singer

The soundtrack to a fashion shows is an element that can completely transform the atmosphere of a collection, and Frederic Sanchez has spent his career as an illustrateur sonore collaborating with everyone from Margiela to Marc Jacobs to achieve maximum impact. Since 1994, he has worked with Miuccia Prada – and for Miu Miu A/W15, his mash-up of Afrobeat-inspired eighties classics like Talking Heads and the B-52s, combined with the faux advertisements that littered Sigue Sigue Sputnik’s first album, gave a brilliant insight into the thought behind the collection.

« I work in a very special way with [Mrs Prada], » he explained. « It’s always very intimate. We speak a lot about very different things; what’s happening in music, what’s happening in the world in general. This season, there was this idea of a collection that was autumn/winter but with this idea of summer, and a certain idea of Africa – but Africa seen through the eyes of someone European. When we started talking about it, it reminded me of seeing that sort of thing happen in music at the beginning of the 80s. »

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he music of the early eighties – of Brian Eno and the B-52s, Talking Heads and David Byrne – was a time where Afrobeat and tropical influences were brilliantly combined with synthesisers. Eno and Byrne’s trips across the ocean saw a new and devoted engagement to Afrorock’n’roll, to Fela Kuti and Faycal Helawi, and resulted in what Frederic Joignot and Jean-Pierre Lentin described in Actuel 1981 as a period that « sought fusion between the breaths of Africa and electronic technology. »

As Sanchez explains, this issue of Actuel featured a cover with Brian Eno, David Byrne and Jon Hassell, « and the background was this piece called The Lighting Fields by Walter de Maria. It’s this giant structure in the middle of the mountains in New Mexico, with these poles that attract lightning and they set it almost on fire. You can go to see it, and it’s like seeing a living painting. So, I thought of those different elements – and then the Talking Heads record, Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, where David Byrne sampled different recordings from African radio, and made what became called world music. It became so trendy. And that was the idea of the show. »

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Combined with Sigue Sigue Sputnik’s spoof advertisments for Tempo Magazine and EMI, the soundtrack also gave a hearty nod to the consumerism of the 80s (something clearly explored through the heavily-sparkling costume jewellery adorning the ears and necks of models). « The African elements, combined with electronica, became like an urban schizophrenia. So then, we thought of Sigue Sigue Sputnik who had all that fake advertising in their records, » explains Sanchez. « And, you know the B-52s have that hairdo? I put the advertising for L’Oreal Shampoo right in the middle of their track. It’s kind of mental… like a manipulation. »

It is this wonderful sense of manipulation that arises throughout Sanchez’ work; we are taken on a strange yet brilliant journey through not only his mind, but the mind of the designers with whom he collaborates. « Because of copyright issues, my work can’t appear online, » he laughs, « the rights would cost a fortune! But it makes the show quite special and unique. Maybe it’s the last thing that we can call haute couture… »

 

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Track Listing for Miu Miu A/W15

Mea Culpa by Brian Eno & David Byrne
America Is Waiting by Brian Eno & David Byrne
The Jezebel Spirit by Brian Eno & David Byrne
One In A Lifetime by Talking Heads
Burning Down The House by Talking Heads
Deep Sleep by B-52s
Advertisement Tempo Magazine by Sigue Sigue Sputnik
Advertisement Network 21 by Sigue Sigue Sputnik
Advertisement Pure Sex by Sigue Sigue Sputnik
Advertisement The Sputnik corporation by Sigue Sigue Sputnik
Advertisement ID Magazine by Sigue Sigue Sputnik
Advertisement Studio Line From L’Oréal by Sigue Sigue Sputnik
Advertisement EMI records by Sigue Sigue Sputnik
Advertisement Love Missile F1-11 by Sigue Sigue Sputnik

Les Inrocks – Mai 2015

LesInrocks2015Frédéric Sanchez © Renaud Monfourny

Souvent cité par les journalistes de mode, Frédéric Sanchez s’est fait un nom en signant les bandes-son qui rythment les défilés des marques les plus prestigieuses. Son activité est pourtant loin de se limiter à cet exercice de style. Portrait de cet explorateur du son.

C’est une rencontre avec Martin Margiela, en 1988, qui amènera Frédéric Sanchez à travailler dans le milieu de la mode et du son. Avant cela, rien ne le destinait à cette carrière :

“J’ai toujours écouté beaucoup de musique, sans savoir exactement ce que je pouvais faire de cette passion. Elle a toujours eu une place extrêmement importante dans ma vie. La découverte de musiciens comme Brian Eno, qui a commencé par des études d’art pour ensuite envisager le studio comme un lieu où on travaille la matière, m’a vraiment influencé. J’ai beaucoup regardé du côté des producteurs, des gens qui façonnaient le son. C’est la musique qui m’a amené à m’intéresser à la mode : quand Comme des Garçons à fait défiler John Cale et David Byrne ou encore quand Peter Saville a réalisé un catalogue pour Yohji Yamamoto… Toutes ces interactions entre les disciplines m’ont amené à me questionner, à découvrir qui j’étais.”

Pasted-Graphic-1« Le Café de la gare » © Courtesy Frederic Sanchez

L’approche du créateur belge fait écho avec la pratique de Frédéric Sanchez :

“La première fois que Martin m’a invité à diner chez lui, il avait une nappe blanche parfaitement repassé sur la table. Il a froissé le tissu entre ses mains, ça a créé de la texture, fait couler la cire des bougies. Il me parlait de l’usure des vêtements, c’est cette vision qui l’intéressait. Tout cela résonnait avec la manière très concrète avec laquelle j’ai pu aborder la musique : écouter des morceaux par fragments, jouer avec le bras de la platine, faire des cassettes avec un seul morceau…”

De nouveaux arrivants qui parviennent toujours à susciter l’excitation.
Fort de cette première collaboration, Sanchez enchaîne les commandes. Il travaillera par la suite avec Hermes, Prada, Balmain, Ann Demeulemeester, Alexander Wang ou encore Marc Jacobs. La narration reste sa marque de fabrique : “Je cherche avant tout à raconter une histoire. Cela ne passe pas forcément par la musique. Il m’a arrivé uniquement à partir de bruitages.” Pour le défilé Jil Sander automne 2015, présenté en février dernier, il a mélangé les interprétations de My Funny Valentine de Chet Backer et de Nico, mettant en lumière les dissonances et les points communs.
Quant on lui demande si son travail a changé depuis ses débuts et la période faste des créateurs stars, il répond qu’il y a toujours de nouveaux arrivants qui parviennent à susciter l’excitation.
“Après avoir travaillé avec Martin, il n’y avait qu’une personne avec laquelle j’avais envie de travailler, c’était Rei Kawakubo. Je le fais depuis un an maintenant : il a fallu 25 ans pour que ça se réalise ! Depuis 3 ans, je regarde à nouveau les jeunes créateurs. À Londres, j’ai commencé à travailler avec Thomas Tait qui fait quelque chose de très fort.”

Pasted-Graphic-2« Silver » (travail photographique) © Photo Frédéric Sanchez

La musique, élément primordial dans la compréhension d’une collection.

On le sait, la musique des défilés est un élément primordial dans la compréhension d’une collection, tout comme la lumière, le maquillage ou encore la coiffure. Elle permet d’appuyer l’imaginaire développé par les vêtements. Le processus pour créer cette poignée de minutes musicales est toujours le même :
“Tout part d’une discussion avec le designer, cet échange provoque des images. Nous parlons beaucoup, ça me permet de comprendre l’esprit de la collection, que je vois rarement. Nous nous rencontrons souvent un mois avant le défilé, parfois un peu plus tard, mais tout se fait toujours très vite, souvent dans l’urgence. Avec la mode, il n’y a pas de répétition. Le défilé en lui-même est une répétition. Ce moment disparaît tout de suite après.”
Ce côté instantané est à l’opposé du travail de Sanchez que l’on peut découvrir en galerie ou en institution. Une autre temporalité s’installe :
“J’ai besoin de ces deux opposés. L’un nourrit l’autre. Mes recherches personnelles sont plus expérimentales, elles me demandent beaucoup de temps pour aboutir. J’ai fait des choses très différentes. Par exemple, Une Utile Illusion, présentée en 2010 à la galerie Serge Le Borgne utilisait des didascalies tirées de pièces de Maurice Maeterlinck. Toutes ces formes questionnent les principes de composition, de spatialisation, de narration… Aujourd’hui je travaille beaucoup avec des filtres, des générateurs de son, mais c’est très long.”

Pasted-Graphic-3« Le soldat sans visage », video still, 2007 © Frédéric Sanchez

Lorsqu’on lui demande s’il se sent plus proche du milieu de la mode ou de celui de l’art, il répond, après une longue pause, que ce dont il a vraiment envie aujourd’hui, c’est d’écrire. Un désir pas si éloigné de sa pratique actuelle que l’on ne demande qu’à découvrir.

Frédéric Sanchez en 5 titres

Bill Nelson – The Shadow Garden

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John Cale – Risé, Sam and Rimsky-Korsakov

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Robert Ashley – The Park (Part 1)

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The Stranglers – La Folie (Album Edit)

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Max Richter – Iconography

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Vogue Collections Automne Hiver 2015-2016

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Par PIERRE GROPPO. Photographe JONAS UNGER.

SOUND MAN
C’est l’un des hommes invisibles de la fashionweek – mais l’un des plus importants aussi.FREDERIC SANCHEZ signe depuis vingt ans les bandes-son des plus beaux défilés. Rencontre avec un story-teller musicalunique, dont le talent a séduit Miuccia Prada et Rei Kawakubo, Marc Jacobs …

C’est un grand studio tout blanc, quelque part du côté de la gare de l’Est. Dans la bibliothèque qui grimpe jusqu’au plafond, il y a des CD, bien sûr, des dizaines de vinyles – à moins que ce ne soit des centaines. Sur le bureau, on dénombre 23 disques durs externes – «mais il y en a beaucoup plus en bas», s’amuse Frédéric Sanchez. La quarantaine élégante, l’oeil pétillant, pantalon gris et pull sombre, l’ex-môme des années 80, arrivé à la mode par la musique, vient de terminer le marathon de la saison automne-hiver 2015/2016. À son actif, des big names ( Prada, Comme des Garçons, Marc Jacobs, CalvinKlein .. .) et des new-comers (Marie Katrantzou,Thomas Tait…), pour qui il travaille la matière la plus impalpable qui soit : le son. Egalement aux commandes d’installations sonores personnelles, commissaire d’exposition, du Louvre à la Cité de la Musique – on l’imagine «à la mode», exubérant. C’est un créateur discret qui vous propose un café, se réjouit de n’avoir, pour l’instant, aucun projet en cours, et n’hésite pas à confier son rapport complexe à la ville, de laquelle il s’échappe pour travailler dans son studio installé en Normandie.

Un défilé dure en moyenne dix minutes.
Comment raconte-t-on une histoire en un laps de temps si court?

Ça dépend des maisons. Pour chacune, j’ai une quarantaine d’heures de travail, et de deux à quatre rendez-vous. Au-delà du travail de studio, je parle beaucoup avec les créateurs.

Vous voyez les collections avant tout le monde?

Pas forcément. Parfois je ne les vois pas. Cette saison, j’ai travaillé avec Guillaume Henry: pour sa première collection chez Nina Ricci, il m’a surtout montré des photos, des objets … Mais chez Comme des Garçons, j’ai droit à un véritable défilé, pour lequel j’arrive avec une centaine de propositions différentes.

Pour l’automne-hiver, la tendance serait …

Une poésie chaotique. Pas mal d’entrechocs, sous tendus par une envie d’être créatif en allant jusqu’aubout. J’ai eu envie de recommencer à travailler avec des ruptures, des non-mixages, comme les collages chez Miu Miu, ou cet enchantement un peu acide du show Prada.

Ce goût du non-mixage, c’est l’inverse d’un travail de DJ?

Je ne suis ni DJ, ni disquaire, ni programmateur! Ce que je fais, c’est de la mode. De la mode sonore, mais de la mode avant tout. Il faut savoir être humble pour accompagner les collections. Après, je fais une différence entre mon travail de commande et mon travail personnel.

Quel a été votre projet le plus fou?

Une collaboration avec la fondation Prada, à Venise, pour l’exposition «Art or Sound». Miuccia Prada m’avait demandé d’orchestrer 250 oeuvres sonores – et elle ne voulait pas de casques. Il y avait tout un travail sur l’espace, la manière dont le son se diffuse, se répercute, se mélange – ou pas.

Quels sont les lieux que vous aimez?

Les endroits qui résonnent. Les endroits imparfaits, comme le Grand Palais, où j’ai travaillé à deux reprises. J’aime cette idée de réverbération, de délai, que le son prenne du temps pour se faufiler dans les imperfections de l’espace. Le son, c’est une histoire, un cheminement, c’est remonter le fil du souvenir.

Et les musiciens qui vous inspirent?

Ça a beaucoup à voir avec les années 70. John Cale m’a fait découvrir la musique minimaliste américaine, Brian Eno l’électro allemande ainsi que la nouvelle scène anglaise, Gavin Bryars, Cornelius Cardew. Et Robert Wyatt, pour la poésie sonore.

Un coup de coeur sonore – ou musical?

J’aime tout. Comme j’utilise pas mal la synthèse modulaire, je m’intéresse à des musiciens qui utilisent des systèmes appelés «West coast», les ancêtres du synthétiseur nés au début des années 60. Eliane Radigue, une artiste française, s’en servait: je l’ai insérée dans le défilé Nina Ricci… Et puis je me penche sur les nouvelles artistes femmes, comme Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, qui a sorti récemment Euclid, un très beau disque.

Et le silence?

Le silence, c’est une illusion utile…

Comme des Garçons – Dazed – April 2015

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Photo: Jeff Bark

Love, lust, life and death with Comme des Garçons

Taken from the Spring 2015 issue of Dazed:

In a season defined by an obsession with placid beauty, Rei Kawakubo – one of fashion’s most defiant and cryptic figures – hit us with a collection that raged violently against the surface level. Inside a derelict warehouse in Paris, she sent out an aggressive procession of explosive silhouettes rendered in an overwhelming, all-red colour palette. Red has always been a powerful signifier, but in the hands of the Comme des Garçons figurehead, its conflicting associations with rage, suffering, love, lust, life and death all came into emotional consciousness.

Kawakubo’s signature is to create clothes that demand an extreme reaction, but this season’s show felt powerfully unnerving, set to a jarring soundtrack curated by Frédéric Sanchez featuring drone metal bands such as Earth and Sunn O))). “With Comme des Garçons it’s different because Rei doesn’t tell you about a theme,” says Sanchez. “What was interesting – and something I hadn’t experienced in a long time – was that she really wanted me to look at the clothes very intensely beforehand. The moment I saw the collection, violent and emotional images came into my head. I thought of Derek Jarman movies, like The Last of England, and the Countess Elizabeth Báthory (the infamous female serial killer known for bathing in her victims’ blood). It was violent and passionate, but without the feeling of horror. The final idea was to do something subtle. Something that felt like no music, but which filled the space.”

Backstage, the notoriously elusive designer gave the words ‘roses’ and ‘blood’ as her explanation for the show. It was an interesting pairing: two disparate ideas that came together in this most conflicted of collections. “There was something almost operatic and theatrical because of the red,” says Sanchez. “It gave a feeling of unreality, while also expressing something about the violent world we live in at the moment. It’s not real, but it is – that’s what makes it so special.” For Kawakubo, clothes alone have never told the whole story. What she achieved this season was to trigger an emotional response that stayed with us, reverberating far beyond the catwalk. Fashion could do with more of that.

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Frédéric Sanchez – Style.com – March 2015

Style.com Fall 2015 Interviewprada-f

Fashion Month Behind the Music: A Conversation with Frédéric Sanchez Style.com

“One of the most aurally stupendous soundtracks to ever bend these ears at a fashion thing,” is how our own Tim Blanks described Frédéric Sanchez’s score for the Thomas Tait Fall 2015 show. The mix included “Holy Land Explosion” by Francis Kuipers, “Le Saint Guidon” by Monolithe Noir, and “Red Sex” by Vessel—a strange combination of experimental rhythms, electronica, and grinding industrial beats if there ever was one.

The first thing to know about Sanchez is that he’s highly organized and dedicated, with his thousands of albums categorized to the nth detail, from engineer to art director to producer—something his 25 show clients this season, from Alexander Wang and Calvin Klein in New York to Comme des Garçons and Miu Miu in Paris, surely appreciate. But more than just a good set of ears and a hyper-organized discography, the thing that keeps brands like Prada interested in him is his undying sense of fantasy. “Sometimes I get ideas like I don’t know how,” he began over the phone. “It’s like a moment of life in a way, and it’s what I bring to the people I work for. When I arrive in front of the person I work with—and you really need to know the person really well—I bring all my thoughts and what I’ve dreamt about and my ideas from the last two months. For example, with the Prada soundtrack, I had listened to this artist called Alice Coltrane, and I was listening to that for two months and I brought that to Prada. I had the same process with Thomas Tait and with all my clients: I listened to his story and I mixed it with my own story and my own fantasy in a way.”

Among Sanchez’s Fall 2015 fantasies were several that were covered in our reviews. Velvet Underground’s “Venus in Furs” got first mention at Calvin Klein; the thumping sounds he crafted for Thomas Tait came up in London; and his Fantasia samples at Prada, “My Funny Valentine” covers at Jil Sander, use of Max Richter’s Blue Notebooks at Comme des Garçons, and quirky ad mash-ups at Miu Miu cemented him as the aural experimenter to watch—or listen to—this season. While such prowess might allude to a systematic approach to creating a soundtrack, Sanchez’s methods are much more surreal in their efforts, emphasizing a holistic method over a pragmatic one. “To be very precise, it takes me three or four appointments and maybe 40 hours [to create a soundtrack],” he explained of the process as a whole, adding, “But what takes longer is to get the idea of things.”

The few hard-set rules he sticks to are: Don’t use music that’s been in other shows and don’t overdo it. He explains his process of mixing music for a soundtrack as something akin to mixing perfumes, combining the strange with the familiar in unexpected ways. “It’s a little like when you smell perfume and you don’t know really what it is, but at the same time you can understand where some elements come from and have some mental images that it calls to mind. That’s always the way I’m working.”

There’s also a deep sense of the personal in his work. “I like the idea of [the soundtrack] being made-to-measure,” he explained. “I think that fashion is so, in a way, mainstream. Everybody is talking about fashion and all that, and maybe the show soundtrack is the thing that gets special-er and more exclusive,” he said with a laugh, in reference to the fact that many of his soundtracks are not heard outside of the show environments they accompany. “It makes it a little bit like what was haute couture in a certain time—it feeds the fantasy of the people who don’t have access to this.”

style.com

Thomas Tait – Style.com – February 2015

Thomas Tait Women Fall 2015 Style

February 23, 2015
The shoe in Thomas Tait’s show was a stiletto skewering a crystal ball. Was that a comment on the impossibility of prediction with this designer? After all, who can ever really tell what’s going to happen with—or to—Thomas Tait? That was a point he made very clear with his show today, the first since he scooped the first edition of the LVMH Prize: 300,000 euros and a year’s worth of mentoring. It’s already paid off. « The money helped me get out of trouble and catch up on production, and the mentoring found me three factories in Europe, » Tait bottom-lined.

But his show hardly felt like a celebration. It was more like a deadly serious statement of intent: I refuse to be a cliché. As the audience filed down stairs into the subterranean gloom of an abandoned car park off Marylebone Road, an absence was obvious. There was no baying pit of catwalk snappers. No photographers at all. (The house would supply images later.) But there was noise: a grinding industrial throb that acted as an overture to one of the most aurally stupendous soundtracks to ever bend these ears at a fashion thing. (For the record—because a record really must be kept—Frédéric Sanchez mixed « Holy Land Explosion » by Francis Kuipers, « Le Saint Guidon » by Monolithe Noir, and « Red Sex » by Vessel.) And then the models began to emerge, at first in total darkness, and then following bridges of light that lit up as they walked, kind of like the way Michael Jackson illuminated pavestones in the « Billie Jean » video. But he danced, while these women moved through the shadows at the glacial pace of some eldritch ritual. « I wanted to slow things down, » Tait explained afterward. « My shows were always so fast. » And that’s also why he’d shed all the other hurry-up of a conventional fashion show.

And so to the clothes. They loaned themselves to the darkness. Tait’s not so given to talking about influences, but he did mention the photographer Gregory Crewdson, « for the way he elevates a semi-colloquial feeling into eeriness. » A reference point that seemed even more fitting might have been Crewdson’s kick-starter, David Lynch. One of these looks—a mink coat over a cashmere sweater and satin wrap skirt—could have been plucked from the closet of Dorothy Vallens in Blue Velvet. And Tait’s appetite for exaggerating the average—a giant-collared taffeta blouse, a huge-cuffed poplin shirt, trousers that swept the floor, enormous coats that dwarfed the body, utility jackets writ über-large—felt Lynchian. So did the collection’s struggle between restraint and release. There were tight little Pleats Please moments: Micro-pleated satin printed with screen grabs from Dario Argento films contrasted with those profligate volumes. And then there was the straightforwardly fetishistic lure of fitted leather coatdresses, festooned with zippers attached to oversize ring pulls. Their underarms were lined with mink. Think that mink, pull that ring…and ponder that skewered crystal ball.

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Thomas Tait AW15 – Dazed.com – February 2015

Thomas Tait AW15  Dazed

Dario Argento’s horror ‘Suspiria’ inspires an immersive experience staged in near total darkness – listen to Frédéric Sanchez’s atmospheric soundscape here

Initial reaction:

A welcome change of pace in a go-faster industry with increasingly less time to immerse yourself in anything. Thomas Tait sent his models out into Westminster University’s subterranean space in near total darkness, only lit up by snaking, glitchy rectangles of light that showed the way as they walked very slowly across the floor. It was frustratingly difficult to see the clothes at times, but it made you sit up and concentrate (hard) and really look at the garments. Like Giles Deacon’s return to a theatrical runway presentation yesterday, it brought a sense of emotion and drama to the catwalk after years of mechanical and detached conveyor belt shows.

What lies beneath:

Tait is one of fashion’s abstract thinkers and he doesn’t do pre-packaged theme collections. Backstage, he told us about how he’d been trying to explain the garments over the phone to people and it had somehow sounded a bit pedestrian. Of course, it was anything but. The languid, asymmetrical silks, innocent sailor collars and Tait’s kick-ass signature sculpted outerwear were accompanied by what he called “white trashy” elements and the “bionic and supernatural”. Sleeveless mink gilets played on the wrongness of 70s/80s furs with leather inserts and jackets had oversize metal hardware with big zipper rings – used slyly in places like the nipple region. It was normal made unnerving, like a piece by photographer Gregory Crewdson whose way of turning the everyday into something you can’t quite put your finger on had been on Tait’s mind. There was clearly darkness here in more ways than the set. The invitation’s still from Dario Argento’s 1977 horror masterpiece Suspiria was echoed on pleated dresses – a deliberately lo-fi foray into digital print for Tait, made from screen captures done on his laptop while watching films in bed. “They’re kind of really shitty and a lazy way of doing some kind of informal research. I thought it would be really interesting to make these highly intricate garments and undercut them with a crap image from the film I love.” Suspiria’s nearly all-female cast and explorations of the female psyche really ring true with Tait, who doesn’t bend to mainstream society’s obsession with the female body as a Photoshopped sex object. Case in point: a black leather and patent coat with a tuft of red mink showing like a defiant hairy armpit.

New territories:

Winning LVMH’s Young Fashion Designer prize last year has meant a huge difference to Tait, who like so many young designers struggles with keeping a business afloat – not for lack of ideas, but funds. “The money kept me from going out of business to be honest,” he said. The designer has always produced things to a very high standard, but this season he took it up a notch: LVMH have introduced him to three factories in Europe, who were all in attendance at the show to see the results of their work. “It’s really great because it’s like, this is what it’s meant to look like,” he said. For the soundtrack, Tait worked with Frédéric Sanchez for the first time. “It was amazing because I collected all the stuff I’d done in the past and sent him paragraphs of what I wanted to do for this show and he came back to me with huge zip files of different ideas and took all the old soundtracks and decomposed them and was like, ‘This is what you sound like’, but in little fragments. He totally got it,” Tait said of the dark and engulfing moodscape.

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The show soundtracks you didn’t expect this season – Dazed – March 2015

The show soundtracks you did not expect this season - Dazed

Grimes gave a digi-pop edge to Louis Vuitton, Dev Hynes created a new soundscape for Eckhaus Latta, and Azealia Banks invaded Philipp PleinA killer soundtrack has the ability to transform something good into to something ground-breaking. Each season, runway soundtracks are meticulously selected to highlight the themes of a collection – or even to contradict them. They are essential to shaping the show itself. In the aftermath of AW15 womenswear (http://www.dazeddigital.com/womenswear), weʼve sifted through every runway soundtrack to bring you the season’s finest. Headphones in, let’s go.

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Miu Miu – Dazed – March 2015

Miu Miu AW15- Dazed

Miuccia Prada creates an 80s inspired collection of slick snakeskin and buckled pilgrim shoes – but is there more than meets the eye?

Initial reaction:

“Something fun, something light,” were the sparing few words Miuccia Prada (/tag/miuccia-prada) offered up after the show, with a cheeky grin that told us that maybe there was something more to say. Or maybe not? We constantly mine Miuccia’s output at both Prada (/tag/prada) and Miu Miu (/tag/miu-miu) for deeper meaning but perhaps this time, she was just doing fashion for fashion’s sake. And thereʼs nothing wrong with that when the fashion is so damn enticing. Is it therefore about consumerism and our feverish fashion desires? The proof is in the lusting for next season’s smorgasbord of cute coats, sparkly gems, slick skirts and must-have shoes.

Mixing the decades:

Touches of the 50s, the 60s, the 70s and the 90s could all be found in the pick ʻnʼ mix of a collection that instantly read as a Miu Miu aficionadoʼs wet dream, with its abundance of Miuccia-isms. But, it also definitely referenced the 80s with the presence of Lady Di high-necked ruffled blouses. New Wave appropriate leopard print and Memphis Design zany colour combos surged through. J.W. Anderson (/tag/jw-anderson) and Nicolas Ghesquière (/tag/nicolas-ghesquiere) have also both recalled the decade, inspired by its devil-may-care excess. Miuccia too was eager to emphasise that she wasnʼt trying to do something with intellectual depth – instead it was just about “fashion” and mining the 80s with its overt visual style statements, which seemed fitting for this admittedly shallow fashion-fest. Of course, what was merely “fashion” in her eyes was already leaps and bounds beyond the fashion norm – with her rich mix of crayon-hued mock-croc, nubbly tweeds, sparkly jewels and pilgrim buckled pointy shoes.

Remixing the sounds:

Sigue Sigue Sputnikʼs album “Flaunt It” served as the soundtrack – a mixture of the bandʼs songs and spoken word ads, which included one for L’Oréal. This was combined with Talking Headsʼ greatest hits for a combination of sounds that summed up the genre and style-mixing attitude of the collection. Trust Miuccia to have the last word on eclecticism, which has emerged as one of the strongest themes of the season.

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Marni – Style.com – March 2015

Marni Women Fall 2015 Style.com

Fall 2015 Ready-to-Wear

March 1, 2015

When Consuelo Castiglioni mentioned « twisted femininity » as a reference point for her new Marni collection, it didn’t really strike an oh-that-sounds-new chord. Marni has always walked the skewed side of the street. But what did look new the minute Sophia Ahrens hit the catwalk today was the fierceness: Amazonian tunic, major belt, python boots and matching cross-body bag strap, hair dragged up and off the face, brows knit. Woman going somewhere, and best get out of her way.

Backstage, there was talk about the cult movie Hanna, with Saoirse Ronan playing a girl who was raised as a vigilante/assassin. Castiglioni was in love with the notion of a purposeful woman on the move. Her collection was infused with a sense of rawness, urgency—propelled by the ominous, pounding slab of John Carpenter music that Frédéric Sanchez had chosen for the soundtrack. Seams were ragged, fabrics raw-cut. One of the most striking effects was a floral print transformed into a jacquard that was brushed till it was part bald, part thick-piled. There were dresses that looked like bolts of fabric had been draped around the body and belted into place, no time for a finishing touch. The use of fur had a similar rough-hewn, patched-up flavor.

But the sheer power of the look was much less Hanna warrior than vintage Hollywood. There was also talk backstage of Hitchcock heroines: not the Technicolor blonds, but the black-and-white stars—Ingrid Bergman in Notorious, say—except they tended to be victims. It was more an iconic ball-breaker like Joan Crawford who registered in Julia Nobis’ finale look: a high-necked silk blouse attached to fur sleeves paired with a flaring tweed skirt appliquéd with a black velvet floral pattern that could almost have been something tribal, like the stenciled patterns earlier in the show. You could picture Mildred Pierce on a 21st-century rampage.

The militant mood never let up. Those cross-body bag straps were Castiglioni’s Buster Brown belts. And the major silhouette—the lean, elongated top over flared pants slit open at the hem—also had something of Mao’s militarized women who would take Tiger Mountain by strategy. But it was an utterly convincing and forceful expression of Castiglioni’s evolving vision. How far she’s come.

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Jil Sander – Style.com – February 2015

Jil Sander Women Fall 2015 Style.com

February 28, 2015

Frédéric Sanchez’s soundtrack—a blurry, impressionistic, almost atonal mesh of Nico’s and Chet Baker’s versions of « My Funny Valentine » —suggested chaos. But the set was a precisely ordered group of colored pillars, like a geometric Stonehenge. Rodolfo Paglialunga imagined his new collection for Jil Sander forming somewhere between the chaos and the precision. The designer would pluck order from disorder.

It’s all any artist tries to do, but Paglialunga’s challenge was a little more pointy, given the patchiness of his efforts to date. Still, he made huge strides

with this collection. It won’t set Planet Fashion alight, but it registered as wearable, real-world, and properly proportioned. Credit the designer’s precision for that coup. Long coats and matching pants made a new kind of elegantly elongated suit. A bone-toned leather coat was a standout. The lines that traced a navy blue coat suggested something military, the most precise association of all. And even when Paglialunga started to mess with precision, he didn’t lose that line; it simply went diagonal. Shaved black mink was diagonally pieced for a coat. Dark green pony got the same treatment in a skirt.

Coatdresses were shadow-striped or crisscrossed with tape, always maximizing the line. You could follow the footwear for a subtext. One look featured correspondents paired with a pencil skirt and a full-sleeved knit top. Joan Crawford? That, at least, underscored Paglialunga’s disdain when he dismissed the ongoing debate about the dialogue between feminine and masculine in Jil Sander’s women’s collection as « banal. » If he could silence that debate, he’d definitely be able to put his own thumbprint on the label. So he showed a lovely, simple slipdress, and he closed the show with Hedvig Palm in a blush-toned coat that was forceful in line but indubitably womanly. Paglialunga is finding his feet.

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Comme des Garçons – Dazed – March 2015

Comme Des Garcon Women Dazed

Initial reaction:

Think about everyone you’ve ever lost. And then think about how those emotions could be transferred into a raw expression where textiles and pattern making come together to emote, not necessarily to clothe. That’s what Rei Kawakubo achieved in her latest emotional opus. Afterwards, the show was simply described as the “ceremony of separation” – when you see someone off, you make them beautiful before they leave. And so it was that every aspect about losing someone to death was eked out, amplified and made undeniably beautiful. These figures of mourning were doused in the sheets of a deathbed, the satin puffiness of coffin interiors, the bows on funeral floral arrangements, and all the textiles associated with Victorian funereal attire (when Western society took mourning to extremes). Within this process of loss, we often struggle to see light at the end of a dark tunnel, and in one ensemble, a black circle with white lace peeking out from within it summed up this interplay between black and white – or being plunged into darkness when the light of life switches off. When Kawakubo enlarges and exaggerates forms on the body, it’s to mirror the largesse of emotion that Comme des Garçons shows instill within you. That’s why with only eighteen silhouettes, Kawakubo manages to say a lot. So much in fact that the audience were left tear-struck.

Songs of sorrow and longing looks:

Tracks from British composer Max Richter’s sophomore album The Blue Notebooks provided the main soundtrack. In particular “On the Nature of Daylight” built up to a crescendo to tug at heartstrings. As the music swelled, so did the each ensemble, exploding in volume with cage-like structures, lace and velvet covered bulges and a stream of white bows. It was as though the act of mourning was purposely besieging every model. These simultaneously serene and ghostly figures moved slowly down the runway, and as they passed each other, a tender look of longing was exchanged. In a nod to the way we lock ourselves away to deal with grief, every model had a hardened lace veil shrouding the faces or they were obscured by a sculptural cocoon by Julien d’ys. Unlike most Comme des Garçons shows where the soundtrack will suddenly cut off abruptly, Richter’s song carried on, and a light shone brightly at the set, willing for Kawakubo to emerge (of course she didn’t). The applause thundered and our hearts soared.

The aftermath:

Kawakubo’s last Comme des Garçons collection was about as intense as it could get. You emerged seeing red, impassioned and fuming because so few shows were able to elicit such emotion. That emotional journey continued here. Instead of anger though, we turned to sadness and the feeling that we need to put things into perspective so that we treasure what is dear to us. Eyes were moist. Real tears were shed. We momentarily suspended thoughts of how to sell it or shoot it. We were looking at a collection, not with our minds, but with our hearts. “Epic,” was the word repeatedly heard amongst after show chat. Outside as the sun was gorgeously setting over the Jardin des Plantes, people lingered on to take it all in. When a swell of emotion is that big, you just have to let it wash over you.

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Comme des Garçons – Style.com – March 2015

Comme des Garcon Women Fall 2015

March 7, 2015

There is now a ritual for Rei Kawakubo’s Comme des Garçons shows. Word comes that the designer is really not sure, that this time it has taken so much out of her to produce the latest collection, there really might not be another one.

This is not some sort of false modesty or strange dance with members of the press. She is never blithely or blindly confident in what she is doing, this woman who has proved herself time and time again throughout her career. But this is also one of the reasons she is a great designer: She pushes herself beyond a comfort zone, struggles and never rests on her laurels, expects more from herself and in so doing, knows she is asking much from her audience.

What Kawakubo produced today could be seen as part of a quartet of shows that began with Spring 2014, when the designer knew she was stepping beyond bounds that had seemed set in fashion. This season felt like a culmination, linking many of her concerns through the past, present, and future of her collections. This was the real epic of the four—despite only being 18 looks long. Away from the bloody anger of last season, that revenge play of sorts, it turned into a kind of requiem today. There was a sense of sadness, grief, and finality in the collection—and the audience who were there at the staging of it really felt it. But this was not the finality of Rei Kawakubo’s last stand—you believe her compulsion to express and make something will continue to outweigh her self-doubts. This was the finality of death she was addressing in these clothes.

« The ceremony of separation » was how the designer defined what she did today. A strange, mournful pas de deux between the living and the dead—expressed in the steps as the models passed one another, turning and facing their counterparts in their massive silhouettes, moving to the side, and carrying on slowly and deliberately. It brought to mind a line from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations: « Life is made of ever so many partings welded together. »
In this ceremony, most of Kawakubo’s key power colors were at play: white, black, and gold. The significance of this palette cannot be underestimated; these hues are the expression of meaning time and again for Kawakubo. Here they took on the ritualized connotations of grief: white as the Eastern expression of loss, black as the Western, and gold the most ornately ceremonial with its role in the burial rituals and death masks to be found in ancient tombs, particularly those of the Egyptian pharaohs. The living and the dead often faced each other in an opposition of color, the living in black, almost as if in Victorian mourning, with those that have gone in gold and white.

Lace was the material predominantly used for these silhouettes, ornately embellished or built with bows—another familiar Comme motif. These features gave the collection a ghostly delicacy and intricacy that cannot be seen so easily in photographs; neither can the overall complexity of these silhouettes be conveyed in a catwalk shot. It is a collection somewhat more refined than the other parts of the quartet. The color and decoration also brought to mind shows of Comme past—particularly « White Drama, » the Spring 2012 offering that conveyed the connotations of the marriage ceremony. Yet here was not the celebration of coming together: The bows were the ties that bind while pulling apart; the wedding dress became a death shroud.
Frédéric Sanchez’s choice of Max Richter’s music—remixed from the Blue Notebooks album—reinforced much. As did Julien d’Ys’ startling hair, which from a distance looked like a lace veil. It is not often that a fashion show becomes moving, with each part set in motion to convey real meaning. This was one of those times.

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Style.com – Prada – Janvier 2015

Prada Men Fall 2015 Style.com

Miuccia Prada did something she’d never done before with her show tonight. On every seat there was a printed manifesto for the collection — or, rather, collections. (She was showing both Fall menswear and Pre-Fall womenswear.) « Gender is a context and context is often gendered, » read the notes. There could scarcely be a timelier idea to address, what with vigorous new debates about feminism, the heightened profile of LGBT activism, and the misogyny of religious fundamentalists around the world. And, in outlining her rationale for the show, it was clear that Mrs. P wasn’t prepared to leave it as open to freestyling interpretation as she has in the past.

And yet she couldn’t help but excite conjecture. The invitation — a rectangle of black nylon — was a reminder of Miuccia’s foundation in the family business, and she went back to the well with an opening passage of pieces cut from the material. She claimed that blending collections for men waiting to do for a while, because working on menswear always left her wondering how she could apply the same ideas to women. The shared aesthetic today was simple. « Uniform, severe, elegant: This is the fashion I like at this moment. »

It was industrial, too—not just that black nylon, but a stark, metal-floored, metal ceilingedset; Frédéric Sanchez’s soundtrack of Front 242; and the grim, urgent mien of the models. The boys might have been refugees from Madchester; the bouffanted, eyelinered girls could have been fleeing Le Lipstique, Baltimore’s finest beauty parlor. Either way, as a manifestation of Prada’s ongoing « analysis of the relationship between men and women » (thank you, manifesto), their presence together on the catwalk implied profound alienation, even with shared style tropes such as strictly belted waists and double-breasted closings. Gender as a context, indeed. Maybe it’s always been that way with Miuccia. She presents men as compromised boys, whereas women have been paraded as paragons of strength. Today, she whipped the epaulets off hermale models’ shoulders and repositioned them as decorative bows on the dresses of.

But even that flourish was deeply ironic. « Abow wraps a present, » Miuccia mused. »Am I presenting woman as object? » It is typical of Prada that, after taking in a collection that wasn’t as stellar as some in the label’s longtime roster of winners, you still walked away with such a thought provoking, destabilizing notion lodged firmly in your mind.

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