Business Of Fashion – 15 janvier 2018

Tradition as Salvation at Prada

The Prada set was a warehouse stacked high with crates, like the final scene of « Raiders of the Lost Ark. »

« There are strange things happening in those boxes, » Miuccia Prada mused. « Strange animals, strange machines, strange preparations for some strange transformation. » Like an entire civilisation in cold storage. Or like an Amazon warehouse, as captured by Andreas Gursky in a recent numbing panorama. All human endeavour distilled into a brown cardboard box, borne by drone to your address. The show invitation was a mini-flatpack version of just such a box.

Last season, Miuccia was energised by a simmering anger. This season, that idealistic energy initially seemed as though it had surrendered to a dystopian what’s-the-point?. The designer asked a handful of her favourite architects to re-interpret black nylon, the ground zero of the Prada phenomenon, and what they came back with amplified the initial end-of-days impression. Instead of the classic backpack, Rem Koolhaas made a front-pack, perfect for absorbing an apocalyptic wallop. Konstantin Grcic made an apron and a hood (why was I thinking Cormac McCarthy?). Herzog & de Meuron envisaged a world in which language had lost its power, where words were mere decoration. The models sported corporate IDs on their industrial nylon ensembles. “We are all controlled,” Miuccia declared. ‘We think we’re free, but we’re a kind of species.” Another brick in the wall? Was that Pink Floyd on Frederic Sanchez’s soundtrack?

We are a species, of course, just one that has profound difficulty slotting itself into the continuum of life that otherwise dictates the rhythm of the planet on which we evolved. It was riveting watching the way Miuccia built a collection of clothing on such a notion, juxtaposing graphics from previous collections, making mutant combinations, like a banana-print shirt laid over a fairisle sweater. The bananas were licked by the flames of another Prada print and — apologies in advance for the quantum leap — all I could think about was Hawaii’s false alarm on Saturday. It was, of course, pure coincidence that Miuccia reanimated yet another print from years ago of a post-nuclear Honolulu landscape, but I will always give her credit for a rare prescience in fashion.

Maybe the prescience is pragmatism. Either way, she persuasively nullified that initial negativity when she said that « intelligence, humanity, generosity and possibly love » would save the world. But note that she didn’t mention lovey-dovey beauty. That wasn’t this collection. If Amazon is the contemporary repository of human knowledge, the 21st century simulacrum of the Great Library of Alexandria, Miuccia chose to turn her latest outing into a comprehensive education in the history of her house: from the uniformity of the black nylon, puffed into exaggerated power silhouettes, through the myriad of prints, into colour and finally the reassuring classicism of tailoring in camel and charcoal grey. From hard to soft. Tradition as salvation…it was a potent closer. And Michael Nyman’s lyrical theme from « The Piano » played as an additional acknowledgment of the profound truth that beauty can, in fact, offer succour at the cold, hard, bitter end.

SHOWstudio – 11 janvier 2018

Georgina Evans reports on the Craig Green show

Crochet patches, almost corset-like in shape and orange in tone, were a welcome addition sat atop slim knits and wide, straight jeans. These were romantic too, they felt a little like delicate life-jackets but perhaps that’s too much of a literal image for Green – he is drawn to more abstract and conceptual references.
After the loud, vivacious frivolities of Charles Jeffrey the night before, Craig Green’s Monday morning offering – showing in a spacious warehouse in Lambeth – was a welcome reverence to London Fashion Week Men’s. Green’s designs are soothing, often deeply intelligent and honourably humble – the latter still pleasantly surprising considering Green has picked up the British Fashion Award for the second year in a row.

This season, Green showed us both the expected and the unexpected; candied brights, the return of knits, drawstrings and patchworks and the familiar, structural almost altar-like aspects too.

Green had been drawing from ‘the dutiful idea of falling in line’ and linear patterns and silhouettes were certainly a focal point here, and indeed often are in Green’s work. Looks were trimmed with fin panelling, giving a black linear shadow around each model and forcing the eye to scan in full circle, tubular piping followed up the legs and in some cases onto arms and chest, giving a slightly aquatic aesthetic. As too, did the slim rope ties across the sternum and the layered boxy trouser – the latter reminiscent of foam floats and buoyancy.

Similarly, the set – a huge sprawling blackened out space, with floor-to-ceiling sections and an audience divide down the runway, provided the rhythm of lapping waves as models moved in and out of visibility. In the light, out of the light. In the light, out of the light. The sombre darkness mirrored that of the soundtrack – Van Der Graaf Generator’s House With No Door spoke of knowing lines so well ‘I am ready to tell whoever will finally come in of the line in my mind that’s cold in the night’ – highlighting Green’s aforementioned explorations. 


Beautiful hooded patchwork coats and jackets reminded one of the S/S 18 offerings, but these were less printed and more focal on drippings of string and strong gig lines from neck to hem.

The final looks, the more structural of the pieces, were a continuation from last season, here with bow-like shape and dangling strings, springing as the models walked. There was something romantic in these pieces, they bounced with the quick march of the model as if with intent and purpose, yet there was also a dark emotion to them that felt a little lost at sea.

Crochet patches, almost corset-like in shape and orange in tone, were a welcome addition sat atop slim knits and wide, straight jeans. These were romantic too, they felt a little like delicate life-jackets but perhaps that’s too much of a literal image for Green – he is drawn to more abstract and conceptual references.

As the show drew to a close, it felt as though the audience had let out a peaceful sigh. Consistently silent, consistently strong. Green had done it again – effortlessly stoic, calm and handsome.

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.

sept. 252017

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

INDIGITAL
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.”

INDIGITAL

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.

INDIGITAL

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.