high end fashion

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What is luxury? A fur coat, a silk Hermes scarf, a vintage Chanel 2.55, or a Guerlain lipstick? Or is luxury time, or even knowledge? Ultimately, everyone has their own version of luxury, but the V&A’s new exhibitionexplores the history of the subject and questions the traditional norms of what is usually thought of as luxurious. By collecting a highly curated selection of objects—from furniture made of human hair, to a classic Hermes saddle—the exhibition investigates the future of luxury through culture, economics, art, fashion and design.

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Below, BAZAAR talks with one of the curators, Leanne Wierzba.

HB: How do you define luxury in terms of fashion?

LW: In terms of fashion, we’re really looking at the motivations of the designer and also thinking about the investment, time and application of skills that’s involved in the production or making of an object. So, it would be difficult to say that any one type of material could be considered universally luxurious. One of the fashion designers we included in the exhibition that we think epitomizes luxury is Carol Christian Poell. He’s Austrian by birth but based in Milan and does menswear, primarily. What’s interesting about Carol is that, unlike most designers who begin with the fabric, he begins with the thread. He spends a lot of time and puts in a lot of research in developing textiles himself. He’s developed a textile that is 15% glass beads—they reflect light in a particular way. Another interesting thing about his work is that he doesn’t use lining. You can actual see all the internal seams. All though there’s a very raw aesthetic, it’s completely precise because the lining typically hides a lot of mistakes or other fabric that hasn’t really been dealt with.

HB: Which fashion objects throughout time have represented luxury?

LW: One of the objects we have in the exhibition is a 17th Venetian lace chasuble, of course used in the church. Another fashion example that we have in the exhibition is Iris Van Herpen’s work. What we think is interesting about her is her compulsion to innovate and collaborate. Most of her work is done collaboratively, people from different fields—architecture, industrial design, or music, and she is bringing in knowledge and expertise and disciplines from other industries and applying them to fashion. We have a Savile Row suit in the exhibition, but it’s actually a military uniform. We thought that was incredible that the object is so heavily codified and it has so much cultural meaning—that’s luxury as well.

Snuffbox, Jean Guillaume George Krueger, Berlin 1775-1780

HB: Can luxury be inexpensive?

LW: One of the increasingly recognized luxuries in busy cities like London is time. Regularly, when we speak to people about luxury they say time is their biggest luxury. Time for yourself, time to spend with loved ones and family, and also time to develop knowledge and to become a connoisseur of luxury.

HB: Does sustainability play into luxury?

LW: One of the resources that will continue to grow will be human hair. In the exhibition, we have a project where they’ve created furniture and accessories using human hair, and resin. They’re quite beautiful, but once you look closely and realize its human hair, people are quite disturbed by that—which is interesting, because there’s a huge global hair trade at the moment. Having it re-contextualized as furniture is a really strong statement.

HB: What does the future of luxury fashion look like?

LW: It’s really tied up in supply chains and thinking of production. That’s really the focus of the exhibition. I think the supply chain will have to be more adapted to resolve ecological and ethical issues related to current fashion models. We agree that the future of fashion, especially pertaining to luxury is about small batch production and imbuing the kind of objects you’re creating with meaning and intention. Something that you would really want to invest in, value and hold on to. Luxury is something you’d want to repair rather than discard and replace.

What is Luxury is on view at the Victoria and Albert Museum from April 25th-September 27thand is in partnership with the Crafts Council and sponsored by Northacre.

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What has become of the traditional fashion trend, now that fashion seasons have multiplied and blurred into an almost constant stream of ‘newness’ and an Instagram post can make a look go viral overnight?

LONDON, United Kingdom — In 1937, the English author, critic, curator and fashion historian James Laver drew up a rudimentary timeline of how trends evolve. According to Laver’s Law, when a trend is in fashion, it is ‘smart.’ One year before this it is ‘daring.’ And 20 years later, it becomes ‘ridiculous.’ 50 years, Laver said, was how long it took for a trend to begin to creep back into style.

For years, Laver’s Law made sense. And though the pace of the fashion industry picked up rapidly throughout the twentieth century with the growing mass production of clothing, trends maintained their relatively long and predictable life cycles. Each season, fashion forecasting houses released hefty books containing their predictions on which styles and fabrics would come ‘in’ in future seasons. Designers and brands worked with these bibles and brought their contents to life for consumers when the clothes hit stores a few years — literally, years — later. In this business of books, assessing trends so far in advance and publishing them in hard copy kept the turnover of new styles to a steady, seasonal pace.

How things have changed.

Social media dictates trends today. The trend emerges overnight and disappears almost as quickly.

“Today, the idea of a bunch people sitting in a room and deciding what the colours are going to be in two years’ time or what materials are going to be used in three years’ time is a complete nonsense,” said Marc Worth. In 1997, Worth and his brother Julian founded Worth Global Style Network (WGSN), the trend-forecasting service whose clients today include Coach, Kate Spade, H&M and Victoria’s Secret.

While some of the traditional fashion forecasting houses, such as Paris-based Peclers, still issue their seasonal tomes, Worth believes today’s fashion cycle requires a different approach to understanding trends. “As things have evolved, we’ve moved into the four-season approach, then into drops and the whole nature of forecasting, I think, has gone out of the window.”

In 2005, Worth sold WGSN to British media company eMap for £140 million and, last year, launched the fashion division of Stylus, a service which offers creative research and advice to businesses, but does not, he insists, forecast trends. “We don’t forecast, we don’t predict. We provide inspirations for creatives to create trends; we track trends as they evolve, but we’re not forecasters in the traditional sense,” he said. “Social media dictates trends today. The trend emerges overnight and disappears almost as quickly.”

Indeed, James Laver could not have predicted that the fashion industry would break loose from its traditional, stately bi-annual cycle, moving towards something that, at some retailers, has begun to more closely resemble a feed of constant product drops. Driven by the Internet, media, too, has dramatically sped up, serving up a stream of new fashion trends all day, every day.

Today, trends are born and die within an infinitely faster and more turbulent environment, in which brands, celebrities, magazines, bloggers and end consumers on social media all jostle for influence over what’s ‘in’ and ‘out’ of fashion.

“Social media has absolutely, totally changed the trends landscape,” said Ruth Chapple, head of content at Stylus Fashion. “It’s making some trends stick, while long ago we would have been over them more quickly. The Valentino rock stud, which everyone expected to be a one-season wonder, has been going strong for eight seasons,” she said. “The death of the stud was forecast long ago, but that was very much a social media trend, where the bloggers made that trend stick.” On the other hand, digital media can quickly overexpose a trend, and kill its ‘edge’. “TheKenzo tiger sweatshirt,” Chapple recalled. “Over and done with in a month.”

“The word ‘trend’ is a little bit like the word ‘luxury’ — nobody really knows what it is anymore, where it starts, where it ends,” said Pierre-François Le Louët, president of Paris-based trend forecasting agency NellyRodi.

Like Marc Worth, Le Louët claims his trend forecasting firm is not in the business of predicting trends, which, he says, are plain to see on social media and often prove to be very short-lived. Rather, NellyRodi uses its network of representatives in 18 countries to track the trends happening on the ground in different markets, and then help clients pluck out of the vast array of things ‘trending’ at any one time the specific trends that will work for their brand, in their chosen markets.

“You don’t sell the product of the season that well anymore,” he said. “The most important thing is to work on your brand identity, who you are, how you differentiate from your competitors. Trends are tools that might help you convince your clients how you and your brand understand how the world changes.”

Anne Lise Kjaer, founder of trend management consultancy Kjaer Global, which counts Gap, Swarovski and La Perla amongst its clients, also takes a holistic approach to trends. “A trend is a tipping point, from when a few people are doing it to when many people are doing it. ‘Trendy’ trends, as such, are unsustainable and short-lived. We don’t even look at those,” she said. “More than going to a shop and having a look, you find someone you follow on Instagram or a blog. It becomes a lifestyle rather than a trend. We’re moving from being trend-focused to lifestyle-focused… Some trends turn out to be short-lived, whereas others continue to evolve as they are more about lifestyle choices and style, rather than conspicuous consumption.”

In a sense, the role of today’s trend analysts is comparable to panning for gold. The abundance of ‘trending’ content and the loss of a single, authoritative source that predicts and starts trends have created a serious need for a filter. Brands turn to trend analysts to trawl through this overload of information and find the real treasure; that is, the trends that will work for their brand, the trends that have staying power, and the trends that can be leveraged in specific markets and with specific consumer demographics.

“Brands and retailers have just had to get savvier in how they process information about trends in order to understand which are the macro-trends and identify micro-trends in time to react,” said Katie Smith, a senior retail analyst at Editd, a data-driven fashion analytics platform. “Our customers use trend analysis at every stage of a product life cycle. From designers who are analysing which colours have performed best in retail, or which sleeve shapes continually see discounting, through to buying and merchandising, where trend analysis forms a critical part of every decision around pricing, depth of buy, timing within a season and replenishment.”

“It’s about helping people decide what they should be purchasing and buying at the same time. You need a lot of information at your fingertips,” reasoned Catriona Macnab, chief creative officer at WGSN, which, like NellyRodi and Stylus, uses intelligence from local teams around the world to give clients advice on what’s trending — and what is likely to trend — in specific markets.

On the high street, some of the biggest and most successful brands have built their business models around the ever-increasing speed and volatility of trends coupled to consumer demand for constant newness: it’s less about forecasting and more about responsiveness.

Zara’s highly responsive, vertically-integrated, data-driven business model has made it one of the most agile fashion brands in the world, taking just two weeks to take a product from design studio to its stores, which feature over 10,000 new designs per year. Topshop drops new items every day.

“They have to be able to react faster, they have to be able to keep up with trends and there aren’t many that are able to do so,” said Marc Worth. “People like Topshop can, people like Inditex (which owns Zara) are able to, but the behemoths like Marks & Spencer still struggle to because of the manufacturing and supply chain process.”

Ruth Chapple concurs: “It boils down to speed to market.”

“I think the biggest change has come in high end fashion,” said Alice Fisher, a commissioning editor and style correspondent for The Guardian newspaper’s Observer Magazine. “It’s something I always ask designers about when I meet them because I’m fascinated by how their workload must have changed with the promotion of pre-collection, resort, capsule collections, special collaborations, etcetera.”

Luxury brands, largely still bound to the anachronistic cycle of seasonal runway shows, are forced into a balancing act when it comes to trends, releasing major new styles at the pace of the traditional fashion calendar, while keeping their brand looking fresh between seasons with additional lines, products and digital content.

“Some — like Raf Simons — love it because they always have new ideas and relish the pace,” said Fisher. “Others say it’s really relentless.”

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If their experience was anything like mine, they probably felt they were walking on air. At the opening celebrations I attended, including the ceremonial ribbon-cutting on Thursday with Michelle Obama and Mayor Bill de Blasio present and Adam D. Weinberg, the Whitney’s director, presiding, the atmosphere was euphoric, unlike anything I’d experienced in over four decades in the New York art world. Now we know how it feels, I kept thinking, when a museum emerges bigger but better from the excruciating process of building a new home. Now we know what can happen when an architect — in this case Renzo Piano — and trustees, a director and curators are on the same page and keeping their priority straight. Namely, to accommodate art and people with equal finesse.

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The new building offers 50,000 square feet of galleries. CreditMichael Appleton for The New York Times

When a structure like this opens, a sensation of transformation occurs in real time. The Whitney and its collection are shifting shape — growing and deepening before our eyes.

At Thursday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, the city’s cultural metabolism seemed to quicken noticeably as successive speakers affirmed art’s importance to society. That’s because the new Whitney forces a decisive yet organic realignment of the balance of power among New York’s main museums that is good for all concerned. With its enlarged galleries and the reveal of its collection, the Whitney, and to some extent American art, should begin getting the full respect both deserve.

One sign of this realignment: Last Friday, the Museum of Modern Art congratulated the Whitney in a quarter-page ad in The New York Times. It seemed magnanimous but weird. “Welcome to the top tier,” it seemed to say. And yet, except for the white lettering, the entire page was black, like a death announcement.

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In my years in New York, I’ve seen a lot of disappointing architectural activity among the city’s museums: expansions and new structures that displayed glaring flaws from the outset that either got worse or became, at best, bearable. The most prominent include two expansions at the Museum of Modern Art, one at the Guggenheim, two at the Brooklyn Museum, two at the Morgan Library & Museum, a new building for the New Museum and the coming — and going — of the American Folk Art Museum.

The Whitney is palpably a different order of achievement. Art looks better here, to my eyes, than it did in the old Whitney, and it is amazingly comfortable to be in. I didn’t understand this fully until last Friday night, my third time inside the building.

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The museum’s new home in the meatpacking district shifts the balance of power among the city’s major museums.CreditBebeto Matthews/Associated Press

Up to that point, I’d seen Mr. Piano’s eight-floor structure empty, looking big and fabulous inside but somewhat anonymous. I’d visited again when the first show, of roughly 600 works by some 400 artists, was nearly installed, which was thrilling. For a permanent collection display spanning more than a century of art, the opening show has an unusually high (for the Whitney) percentage of works by women (nearly one-third) and a strong representation of African-American and Asian-American artists, if too few works by Hispanic artists. But this isn’t just a matter of numbers; diversity is broadcast by the art itself, throughout the show and in numerous outstanding works and telling juxtapositions.

To cite but a few: Among the works unfamiliar to me were I. Rice Pereira’s “Boat Composite,” a large, vivid yet grisaille canvas from 1932 that dominates a gallery of Precisionist paintings and photographs with its bold scale and paint handling, learning from Fernand Léger while presaging the great late works of Stuart Davis and Philip Guston. And old standbys suddenly became new knockouts: Lee Krasner’s “The Seasons” from 1957 commandeers the Abstract Expressionist gallery, which is further enlivened by excellent lesser-known works by Norman Lewis, Alfonso Ossorio, Hedda Sterne and Eldzier Cortor. In a gallery centered on the use of non-art materials, assemblages by Raphael Montañez Ortiz and Noah Purifoy hold their own against a Rauschenberg combine, and Jim Dine’s “The Black Rainbow” from 1959-60 shows him at his rough-edged best.

But to see the new Whitney in active use is to understand its success as a place for visitors. It instantly became the most physically welcoming art space in New York outside of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And it accomplished its new level of comfort without carving a huge event space out of its center, as many museums have done. For better or for worse, the Whitney is in something of an event space, the meatpacking district, but it also has a series of events spaces at its margins: a flexible auditorium and four large terraces, three of which are linked by an outdoor staircase.

The Whitney may be too hospitable for its own good, but only time will tell. It has timed tickets that are designed to control crowding, but people may linger longer than expected. After art they can retire to the eighth-floor cafe, the terraces or the lines of comfy leather couches facing glass walls overlooking the Hudson and Greenwich Village at either end of the fifth floor (an unmitigated luxury for denizens of New York museums).

The outdoor staircase epitomizes the operative and symbolic logic of Mr. Piano’s design. The meaning and function of a wide switchback three-level affair in steel grating will be parsed for years to come. It is the most aggressive part of the multiple components that make the building a kind of architectural assemblage. From the street, the switchback juts out over the building’s east face like a fire escape on steroids or a fragment of an aircraft carrier. From the galleries, it is a people magnet but also a people mover, integrating the indoor galleries and the outdoor terraces and eliminating dead ends in a way that rarely happens in buildings of any kind. It affords a third way to move among three (if not four) of the museum’s main display floors. It is something like the Whitney’s very own High Line, except that it works for its living.

Mr. Piano has built more than his share of disappointing museums, including his expansion of the Morgan Library. But the new Whitney reaffirms why museums began turning to him in the first place. Moreover, it shows that despite Manhattan’s treacherous real estate market, the borough can still accommodate a gracious museum that is equally receptive to art and the viewing of art. It proves that these conditions are mutually dependent. You can’t have one without the other.

PHOTO: MCV PHOTO.

Whether you’re talking about high-end splurges like Chanel bags, or mass-retail staples (think the Nike swoosh), the designer logo has long been considered a status symbol. But, as anyone who’s clicked through pics of the Fashion Week collections — or even breezed through the mall recently — knows, the role of the ubiquitous fashion logo has been moving in the opposite direction.

Some brands have embraced minimalism. Louis Vuitton made news back in 2013 when it pulled back on the use of its iconic LVs in accessories. And, logo-less purses, such as the understated Mansur Gavriel bucket bags, have usurped the popularity of branded carryalls. Now, there’s a noticeable change happening on the other end of the fashion spectrum: Major fashion labels are flaunting the logos of brands other than their own.

Call it the Jeremy Scott effect. For his debut fall 2014 Moschino show, the designer sent models down the runway decked out in McDonald’s and SpongeBob SquarePants motifs. Scott’s throwback vibes continued for spring 2015, with a Barbie-inspired Moschino collection that was almost exclusively pink and plastered with the Mattel doll’s logos. Scott has been repurposing logos — both commercial and indie — for his eponymous line for years, and he’s not the first to do so, but following the financial success of his Moschino collections, others in the industry are rushing to get in on the business.

PHOTO: COURTESY OF JOYRICH.

The trend picked up more steam this season with additional designers hopping onboard: Opening Ceremony showed tops printed with old-school Kodak branding, NYFW newcomer Bobby Abley debuted a collection featuring characters from The Jungle Book, and Joyrich referenced retro Coca-Cola logos in its pieces. David Melgar, creative director of Joyrich, explained the inspiration behind the logo-centric design: “Being that we are heavily influenced by ‘80s and ‘90s pop [and] street culture, I wanted to do something that reflected this time. I liked how the logo had a nostalgic, vintage feel to it and I felt that with the combination of the fabrications that we used, it would bring life to a whole new story.”

Inspiration aside, tapping into these instantly recognizable images is also a strategic move. Jeremy Scott is consistently one of the top-ranked brands on social media for both Scott’s eponymous line (its spring 2015 collection earned 650,000 likes, posts, and tweets), as well as Moschino, which essentially won the Internet last season with 1.5 million total interactions.

It’s smart for designers to capitalize on our nostalgia for other brands, but we have to wonder: How is this even legal? Turns out, there’s a line between nodding to another company’s logo and infringing on its intellectual property rights, and it all boils down to the message the design sends to consumers.

According to Christopher Sprigman, a professor at NYU School of Law, brands that evoke other brands’ logos must first negotiate licensing deals. “I had seen a report that there was a deal made between Kodak and Opening Ceremony,” he said. “If there hadn’t been one, it would raise questions in the consumers’ minds about whether the product was sponsored.” Not having a deal could have spelled major trouble for OC.

PHOTO: COURTESY OF OPENING CEREMONY.
Kodak, on Opening Ceremony.

In this case, the partnership with Kodak was part of a collaboration between OC cofounders/designers Humberto Leon and Carol Lim and the photo company. As the duo said in an interview with Kodak, “We’ve always loved Kodak’s logos and trademarks, and admired Kodak’s dedication to continuity. We think the capsule celebrates all [the] Kodak values we appreciate.”

Unsurprisingly, this type of licensing deal usually entails a financial transaction. “It’s a situation in which a brand like Opening Ceremony would say, ‘We want to use T-shirts with your logo,’ and Kodak would say, ‘Okay. Pay us money.’ The fashion industry is notoriously for-profit, so this would be typically a deal that exchanges a license for money,” said Sprigman. The goal is to define the relationship between the parties, and if a designer incorporates a logo in a way that might cause confusion about whether it was sponsored, he or she runs the risk of being sued.

The exception? When logos are used in a way in which there’s no risk of misleading consumers into thinking they’re endorsements. One example is using multiple logos. Sprigman cites the streetwear designer Heron Preston. Hissignature tees feature 17 logos splashed all over them, including Google, Nascar, Home Depot, and M&Ms. But, despite all the branding, Sprigman says the message remains clear: “If I had looked at this shirt, I wouldn’t necessarily think that any of these companies were sponsoring the shirt,” he said. “I don’t think the trademark law would require this to be licensed, because I think consumers would conclude that this is a commentary about brands as opposed to a T-shirt sponsorship.”

With London, Milan, and Paris still left in Fashion Month, these clearly aren’t the last of the logos we’ll be seeing on the runway. So, designers, take note: Imitation might be the highest form of flattery, but don’t forget to ask permission first.

Moschino show, Autumn Winter 2014, Milan Fashion Week, Italy - 20 Feb 2014

 Warhol’s 1962 work Campbell’s Soup Cans

Warhol’s 1962 work Campbell’s Soup Cans (Credit: Andy Warhol Foundation/ARS, NY/Licensed by Campbell’s Soup Co. All rights reserved)

Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans was mocked when first exhibited – but the work went on to have a lasting impact not only on the history of art, but on the way we dress, writes Sara McCorquodale.

However, this unpopularity didn’t last. Irving Blum, owner of the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles where the work was first shown, realised the 32 paintings of the piece had to be kept together rather than sold off individually as intended. This made it different; it made it a statement. The work seemed to speak of the spirit of a new America, one that thoroughly embraced the consumer culture of the new decade. Before the end of the year Campbell’s Soup Cans was so on-trend that Manhattan socialites were wearing soup can-printed dresses to high-society events.

These days the piece influences collections by fashion houses in Paris, London, Milan and New York every season: from the Pop art palette of Chanel’s spring/summer 2014 show to Prada’s graphic prints the same year, to everything Jeremy Scott has sent down the catwalk since becoming creative director of Moschino in 2013. As far as the fashion industry is concerned, referencing this particular Warhol is a sartorial statement worth making.

Now, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York is exhibiting the Campbell’s Soup Cans in a manner that confirms its ongoing relevance. It is being displayed exactly as it was for its debut show: in a continuous line across five walls, as opposed to the grid-like structure in which it has often been shown. This has only happened four times previously – and never before at MoMA. In addition, the frames and Perspex surrounding each piece have been removed to allow visitors even closer scrutiny.

“It’s kind of amazing to see it like this – you realise how major it is,” says the curator of the exhibition, Starr Figura. “The paintings are all exactly the same except for the name of the soup. You realise how methodical Warhol must have been to work in such a mechanical, repetitive way.”

Campbell’s Soup Cans was the breakout piece that gained Warhol widespread fame after spending most of the 1950s working as a graphic artist in advertising.

“It was about produce being plentiful and industrial fabrication; great prosperity and convenience,” says Figura. “He figured out what American culture in the 1960s was before anyone else.”

Supermarket sweep

In 1962 Warhol became one of the first Pop artists to turn his work into fashion items when he began printing this design onto dresses. “These weren’t sold commercially,” says Alistair O’Neill, a Senior Research Fellow at London art school Central St Martin’s, “but were made as one-offs for New York society women who wore them to gallery openings.” Wearing one of Warhol’s very first Campbell’s can dresses, which were printed on paper, was a sign you were part of a very exclusive club – an ironic inversion of the mass-produced consumer item.

Campbell’s Soup Company took advantage the popularity of Warhol’s work

 

Campbell’s Soup Company took advantage of the popularity of Warhol’s work and created the Souper Dress, a paper garment featuring the iconic print (Credit: Andy Warhol Foundation)

 

This exclusivity was short-lived: in 1965 Campbell’s took advantage of its new cult fashion status and produced the Souper Dress. It was made from paper and could be bought by anyone who sent $1 and two Campbell’s soup can labels to the company. These days, a ‘Souper dress’ fetches approximately £5,000 ($7,500).

The impact of doing fashion the Warhol – and later the Campbell’s – way had a ripple effect on the rest of the industry. Dr Hazel Clark, head of fashion and design at Parsons Design School in New York, says: “The Souper Dress certainly led the way in mainstream fashion for cheap Pop art printed dresses.” After wartime austerity, when clothes were sturdy luxuries created to endure, the dress also changed how women thought about shopping.

“It tapped into progressive design ideas about the disposability of consumer products,” says O’Neill. “That you could literally wear the dress and then throw it away.”

Warhol’s influence seeped into the mass-market fashion and not just in the US. British boutiques Biba and Mr Freedom began commissioning Pop art-printed dresses and t-shirts in the 1970s to sell to the style-conscious public and outfit icons such as Twiggy, Mick Jagger and Jean Shrimpton.

Then, the artist’s prints were made catwalk-worthy in the 1980s by his friend, designer Stephen Sprouse, while Jean Charles de Castelbajac included his own Campbell’s Soup Can dress for his 1984 Spring/Summer collection.

Warhol’s 1967 series Marilyn Monroe has also inspired fashion designers

 

Warhol’s series Marilyn Monroe has also inspired fashion designers such as Gianni Versace, who riffed on it in his 1991 Pop art collection (Credit: Andy Warhol Foundation/ARS)

 

However, it was Gianni Versace’s 1991 Pop art collection featuring a jewel-encrusted version of Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe prints that truly made the artist synonymous with high fashion. Modeled by Linda Evangelista, it encapsulated the sexy, daring aesthetic that defined ’90s fashion and is seen as so important that it is now owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

More recently, Prada’s Spring/Summer 2014 collection was dominated by graphic faces in primary colours, and Céline abandoned its signature colour-blocking for a line of loud prints in the same season.

Pop goes the catwalk

So what is it about Campbell’s Soup Cans that continually inspires fashion? Designer Philip Colbert has a few ideas. Founder of label The Rodnik Band, he was anointed the “godson of Andy Warhol” by André Leon Talley – a high-profile editor for US Vogue – for his bold collections which heavily reference the artist’s work. “Fashion loves to dip into art and big fashion houses look for a new artistic theme every season,” he says. “However, referencing Warhol is about more than just the art itself – the art is symbolic of an incredibly glamorous era. Studio 54, New York, excess, style. It is a very powerful message.”

O’Neill believes we still want Warhol-influenced designs because Pop art communicates something we recognise and understand. It takes something traditionally consumerist and reassuringly familiar, but presents it compellingly in a high fashion context. Take Moschino’s Autumn/Winter 2014 show. Inspired by fast food restaurants, it was knowingly witty – no one wants to wear an actual McDonald’s uniform or logo but you’d consider Jeremy Scott’s better cut, distinctly similar versions.

Like Warhol, Jeremy Scott has celebrated symbols of consumer culture

 

Like Warhol, Jeremy Scott has celebrated symbols of consumer culture. His Autumn/Winter 2014 womenswear collection for Moschino took cues from fast food (Credit: Rex)

 

“One of the reasons the work of Jeremy Scott for Moschino is so popular in our age of digital fashion is because of the motifs it draws upon,” says O’Neill. “Barbie dolls, McDonalds and M&Ms are visual icons of popular culture with a high visual impact.” He adds that the use of these logos and motifs is readily informed by Warhol’s experiments made over 40 years ago.”

Figura thinks that Warhol’s soup cans are still representative of something essential about Western culture and therefore resonate with us decades after they were created. “Consumer goods are our culture and the idea of reproduction and repetition is even more prescient in this digital age – it’s like something a designer would do on Photoshop now,” she says.

So, if you have graphic prints in primary colours or fast fashion in your wardrobe, their inspiration is rooted in an artwork created 54 years ago. Does this make Warhol the most far-seeing, most referenced artist of consumerist culture ever? Not necessarily.

Figura believes Warhol’s background in advertising informed ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans’. The piece was a canny move, not just a eureka moment. “He knew how to find the next thing that would grab people,” she says. “He had instinct and incredible talent, but he was also trained.”

Regardless of where his inspiration came from or what propelled him to paint the piece, one thing is certain – it’s influence remains strong and there is still an appetite for Pop art-style clothing. The latest evidence? Rita Ora’s selfie of her modeling Warhol-esque printed pieces by Au Jour Le Jour earlier this month. It was liked by 101,000 people.

“Campbell’s Soup Cans still speaks to us because it still says something about the world now,” says Figura. “Warhol had an eye for this – you can’t help but be compelled by it.”

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He has never been photographed, is very tall and nobody know what he looks like. But that’s pretty much all we know about the fashion designer Margiela. So how on earth did they make a film about him?

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Still image from The Artist is Absent, documentary about Martin Margiela Photograph: PR

When we heard that filmmaker Alison Chernick had made a biopic about Martin Margiela, launching at the Tribeca film festival and now online, we were excited. The cult designer has never been photographed in public, and never once taken a catwalk bow. No one outside his inner circle knows what he looks like, beyond one grainy and unverified picture on Google Images. Finally, we’d get to see the real Margiela!

Well, actually, we don’t. (The clue is in the title.) Although this documentary was made with the full support of Margiela, he never appears in it. (We do get one nugget: Jean Paul Gaultier, whom Margiela assisted earlier in his career, tells us that “Martin is very tall”.) So, how do you make a biopic about a man who has never appeared on camera?

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You do it the Margiela way, that’s how. Margiela is about fashion and design in its purest form: no glamour, no image, no ego. In an industry where superstar designers are the norm, he insisted on working collaboratively with his teams. He made collections, which became the hot tickets of Paris fashion week, out of plastic carrier bags and wire coat hangers. He never booked celebrity models, and often covered his models’ faces in hoods.

The result is a 12-minute film which may not show us Margiela, but gives a real sense of the man. You get to see his awesome “collaborators”, the coolest talking-heads ever, who wear black and chain-smoke in the rain while talking about how Margiela subverted the media-circus of fashion and “forced you to look at the clothes”. You get to hear Suzy Menkes talking about the “Greta Garbo of fashion”, footage of his packed-out early fashion shows, and of make-up artists obscuring models’ faces backstage with black paint on decorator’s brushes. Apparently Chernick, who had found some early footage of Margiela with Jean Paul Gaultier, was disappointed when this was vetoed. But as fashion historian Olivier Saillard says in the film, Margiela “proved that you could make things out of nothing, and that’s a very comforting idea for the world”. An anonymous biopic: what could be more Margiela than that?

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The Artist is Absent Photograph: screengrab

The Artist is Absent is the first documentary produced by Yoox Group, the internet shopping portal that in March announced its merger with Net a Porter.

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Gizmag met with the company at Baselworld to take a look at the luxury bracelet (Image: Ch...

Gizmag met with the company at Baselworld to take a look at the luxury bracelet (Image: Chris Wood/Gizmag)

Christophe & Co’s high-end Armills are luxury jewelry pieces that offer optional built-in technology, running for a year or more on a single charge. The highest-end model, the Apollo, retails for a US$149,000, making it just about the priciest wearable around. We got the chance to check out the bracelet at Baselworld 2015.

While describing the entry price for the bracelet as “steep” would be a vast understatement, Christophe & Co’s Aleksandr Bernhard was keen to point out that the bracelet should be viewed as a high-end jewelry piece first, wearable tech product second. Discussing the piece at Baselworld, where six-figure watches and jewelry items are comparatively commonplace, provided perhaps the best context for this.

However, while the company might not want us to view the product as a technology piece first and foremost, it’s difficult to get past the sky-high price tag when discussing the tech on board.

The box that the piece comes in is designed to mirror the product itself, constructed from...

Optional technology

The wearable tech side of the Armill is entirely optional, and takes the form of an upgradable module, allowing it to stay technologically relevant as time goes on. It makes use of NFC and Bluetooth LE, and features a kinetic energy generation system that recharges the battery using the motion of the user’s arm, allowing for a year or more between charges.

“We decided to take a watch movement similar to an auto quartz, but create a lot more electricity and actually charge the electronics.” said Bernhard. “This is something that, when I had the idea, I wasn’t sure we’d be able to do it, because nobody had done it with wearable tech before.”

What’s interesting about the technology side of the Christophe & Co Armills is that the company is willing to tailor its abilities to the specific requirements of the client. For example, if the customer wants the bracelet to, for example, unlock their car or work as a contactless payment method, then the company will work to develop the module to make those desires a reality, even if it takes months of development.

The wearable tech side of the Armill is entirely optional, and takes the form of an upgrad...

The company is in the process of creating a network of partners around the world, who hold prestigious events – such as Formula One races – where the Armill will act as a physical entry key using the built in NFC technology. Users can also set up the device to message a specific contact, such as a personal assistant, by tapping a combination on the built-in capacitive sensor.

A luxury construction

All three versions of the Armill – the Apollo, Orion and Virtus – have ceramic shields that the company claims exhibit a level of complexity and precision never before seen. The manufacturing process involves calculating the exact degree of shrinkage that will occur during the sinteringprocess – something that’s made extremely difficult due to the small-scale, precise dimensions of the product.

The Apollo Armill that we saw at Baselworld features more than 1,500 micropavé set GVS dia...

“From a manufacturing perspective, nobody has ever done a piece of ceramics like this.” Bernhard told Gizmag. “People in the ceramics industry have told us ‘you can’t do that, it’s impossible’, and we did it. The ceramics are more expensive than anything else on the piece.”

The Apollo Armill that we saw at Baselworld features more than 1,500 micro pavé set GVS diamonds. All the gems are fair trade, and each and every one is set by hand under a microscope. The engraving is carried out by UK artist Maryam Golubeva, with three different designs available, each tailored to different markets.

The bracelet features a kinetic energy generation system that recharges the battery using ...

Despite the delicate nature of its construction, the Apollo Armill feels solid and substantial in the hand. It has a reassuring weight to it and features a custom-made clasp that’s designed to ensure the pricey wearable won’t slip off your wrist.

Designed in conjunction with Pininfarina, the piece exhibits the same quality of finish you’d expect from a luxury sports car. The opulent design certainly won’t appeal to all tastes, but the construction feels every bit as high-end as its creators insists, with the engraving, hand-set gems and glossy ceramic finish giving it a luxurious feel. Given the price point, we wouldn’t expect anything less.

The Armills – and the Apollo in particular – are targeted at the same audience that would usually be interested in ultra high-end watches and jewelry pieces, with each bracelet selling for US$149,000. The majority of the smart features are similarly tailored towards ultra wealthy clientele, and would be of less value to your average consumer, not to mention that they could mostly be handled by wearables costing a tiny fraction of the Armill’s asking price.

Reiterating a jewelry-first perspective on the product, Bernhard stated, “This is built to a standard, and to an ideal, and the price is the price. It’s not for everybody, it’s very specific, very small volumes, it’s made in the UK so it’s extremely expensive to make, but it’s made at the very top level.”

Only 25 of the Apollo variant will be constructed, while the Orion and Virtus models will sell for $93,000 and $75,000, limited to 100 and 300 units worldwide.

Source: Christophe & Co

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Apr. 15, 2015 | By Simon

Between the wild and crazy concepts that we’ve seen from Lady Gaga to the incredible linked-assembly dresses we’ve seen from Nervous System, the intersection of additive manufacturing and fashion is nothing short of one of the most futuristic applications for 3D printing technologies that we’ve seen.

More recently, New York City-based artist and designer Alexis Walsh – whose inspiration stems from developing wearable designs from more rigid structural forms – has been experimenting with using additive manufacturing technologies as a part of her fabrication process.

“The majority of Alexis’s work focuses on the notion of using the human body as canvas,” says the designer’s website.

“Through unconventional materials such as metal and plastic, and the exploration of technologies including 3D printing, Alexis transcends the traditional modes of fashion to push the boundaries of wearable art.”

For her most recent collection, the LYSIS COLLECTION, Walsh drew inspiration from virulent formations and deterioration to develop a body of work that consists of shapes that mimic the growth of viral structures while blending organic shapes with rigid structural silhouettes.  To make these geometrically-complex shapes real, Walsh combined both traditional garment manufacturing techniques as well as CAD modeling and additive manufacturing to bring her vision to life.

The 3D printed components were modeled using McNeel’s Rhino and were printed in white nylon through the 3D printing service Shapeways.  To add further details, a 3Doodler 3D printing pen was used before the the 3D printed parts were sanded, dyed and finished by hand to be added to the existing handsewn garment pieces.

In total, the LYSIS COLLECTION is made up of six full looks and ten individual garments.  Among other components within the collection that were created using additive manufacturing technologies include 3D printed neckpieces, 3D printed hems and sleeves, a 3D printed skirt shell and a 3D printed bra shell.  The collection was made possible in part thanks to the first-ever Shapeways Education Grant, which was advised by computational smart textiles and wearable technology expert Sabine Seymour of Moondial.

This isn’t the first time that Walsh has been creating 3D printed textiles, either.  Previously, the talented designer worked as a part of a collaboration with Francis Bitonti Studio in 2014 to create a 3D printed dress made from smaller hand-assembled parts and then handsewn with fur lining as a part of the New Skins 2014 Workshop.

It looks like Walsh might be one of the few designers these days who is embracing 3D printing as a medium in textile design and perhaps might be one to watch as we move into the future of 3D printing applications in wearables.  You can check out more of her work by heading to her website.

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This season, the most successful fashion films attracted audiences with surreal storylines and unexpected plot twists. Sit back, relax and enjoy BoF’s Top 10 Fashion Films of the Season.

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Sir New York is the brainchild of designer Auston Björkman, the first openly transgender designer to emerge on the high-end fashion scene. A crossover brand, Björkman’s designs have been seen across the spectrum, from big names in hip hop and rap to prominent drag queens emerging from “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Read the interview below to learn more.

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The Huffington Post: What types of clothing does Sir New York tend to produce?
Auston Björkman: I was recently looking back at some planning I had done in the beginning and saw that I didn’t even know exactly what to call it — I was using the term Technical Tailored Sportswear. Complex Magazine aptly named us as the start of “athletic street goth,” which I love, but I would say both have something true, in capturing some of the essence of what is in the brand.

What is your focus for Sir New York? Do you specifically intend for your designs to be for the queer and trans community?
No, I never wanted Sir New York to be for any specific type of person. If anything my thinking was way too broad. I wanted all genders — everyone wears menswear. I wanted to appeal to the boy next door who likes clothes, to the club kids who are all about turning a look, to the fashion kids who pay attention to design. Whenever you study fashion they really try to make you hone in on “your customer.” But my vision is exactly what happened, with people wearing my designs like A$AP Ferg, Wiz Kalifa and Detox from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” — who has worn it in and out of drag.

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You’re hailed as the first trans male designer to emerge in the high-end fashion scene. What have the reception and your experiences been like?
My experiences in the fashion world have been interesting. It is a very intense and tightly orchestrated industry with billions of dollars dedicated to making you want to look a certain way. It’s very hard for the majority of fashion designers ever to even get to this level and I am far from where I ultimately want to be… I’m still very much an “outsider.” I think most people don’t automatically assume I am trans. Most people only get as far as thinking I’m this odd little gay fashion designer.

The fashion industry has historically been open to all kinds of gender expression and misfits, so I don’t think I stand out in any kind of loud way — partly because that is my nature. I would rather let my work speak for me. I tend to talk about my work and not me, the person. So the positive reception I have gotten from both street wear and high-end fashion has been very much in response to the clothing, the brand and the aesthetic.

I think I have a unique perspective on the gender spectrum. I don’t believe in absolutes, nothing belongs solely to masculine or feminine. I like finding subtle balances.

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Where have your designs appeared?
Usher came into our pop up shop with Liberty Fairs Concept Space in Los Angeles, copped a grip of the Seahole Future Surf gear and the next day it was on “The Voice.” French Montana has also worn it in videos and interviews and I saw my first stranger on the street rocking it, which is strangely a whole different amazing feeling of accomplishment than when someone high-profile is wearing it. Seeing it in print is also really exciting: Vogue Italia, Flaunt, GQ. I don’t know, I guess we’re getting around a little bit.

Do you have any showcases on the horizon?
Sir New York previewed our AW15 collection and hosted a mini pop-up shop last weekend at dapperQ’s “(un)Heeled: A Fashion Show for the Uncoventionally Masculine” at the Brooklyn Museum. “(un)Heeled” celebrated the style of masculine presenting women, gender nonconformists and trans* identified individuals, offering an alternative narrative to the museum’s current “Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe” exhibition.

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Historically the fashion world has been extremely queer friendly — what role do you think the fashion world has played within mainstream acceptance of LGBT identity?
Fashion has accustomed people to gender bending. We are more open to human expression rather than binaries. People are starting to let go of being uncomfortable about other people being different. Gender is often best expressed in presentation, how you wear your clothes and the swag you have when you feel good about your look. Fashion communicates identity with options.

Want to see more from Björkman and Sir New York? Head here to check out the Sir New York website.