Posts for February 24th 2011
>> Vena Cava's Sophie Buhai and Lisa Mayock — whose past collaborators include Via Spiga, Gap, and Bloomingdale's — have a new partner. “We’re about to do [a collaboration] with Uniqlo,” Buhai announced at a Fashion Group International-hosted panel discussion on entrepreneurship yesterday. “Lisa and I were at a point where we felt like we were getting stagnant,” Buhai elaborated. “Fashion is cyclical, but when you add in different projects, you feel like you’re learning again.”
“It’s an opportunity for us to articulate our brand in a way that’s more mass,” Mayock added. “We just want to make sure whatever we do has our stamp on it,” Buhai concluded, giving no further detail.
>> Stefano Pilati may be staying put at Yves Saint Laurent, but another Paris Fashion Week-showing label is experiencing a change of designers: Dai Fujiwara is stepping down from Issey Miyake after the house's Fall 2011 show on March 4. With five years in his pocket as Miyake's creative director, Fujiwara wishes to take "the next step forward in his career," according to the statement; he will, however, support the Miyake design team through the Spring 2012 presentation. His replacement is expected to be announced next month. [Vogue UK]
New Alexander McQueen Documentary, McQueen and I, Recounts Designer's Struggle with Drugs and Offers Rare Interview Footage
>> Tomorrow night, a new documentary on the relationship between Isabella Blow and Alexander McQueen premieres on British television. The documentary, McQueen and I, includes rare McQueen footage and interviews with his brother, ex-boyfriend, friends, co-workers, models, and Blow's husband.
McQueen's brother Michael is shown revisiting the crowded house where they grew up in on London's East End and tells the filmmakers: "It was three boys all in one bedroom. You could see the birds flying around the top there. If you see Lee’s shows there was a lot of feathers and birds going on. That is where Lee got a lot of his ideas." Asked about McQueen's death, which came shortly after their mother passed away — an event the designer struggled to cope with — Michael replied: "She wouldn’t have been over the moon with my brother for what he did. I’m afraid no one was. It was very disappointing in that respect. He always thought the world of our mum." The film also relates how McQueen's mother made sandwiches backstage for the models at some of his first shows to keep budget down.
The designer's former design assistant Catherine Brickhill recalls in an interview that at one of his Givenchy shows: "There wasn’t a lot of space, people were running around and I remember [McQueen] running over to Eva Herzigova and cutting the laces on her corset and saying ‘You f**king bitch' and y’know dragging her to get her to exit on time. She was in tears by the time she was out there. No one had ever treated her that way."
Former head Givenchy publicist Eric Lanuit is captured in the documentary saying: "The press officer’s role is also to be a nanny. [McQueen] would call to ask for certain ‘vitamin substances’ to help him stay up all night and through the day of a fashion show. I’m not talking about vitamin C, I am talking about cocaine."
And model Jodie Kidd says: "I was just beginning as a model and he was just beginning as a designer. Every time we went out on the catwalk we would be lined up and he would say ‘Come on Jode, go for it,’ psyching me up and then he would say ‘Out’ and off we would go."
>> Kate Moss, who's reportedly set to be married to Jamie Hince on July 2, isn't staying quiet on the designer of her wedding dress: it's her longtime friend John Galliano, she revealed at a Topshop dinner during London Fashion Week. Her bachelorette party plans, however, are off-limits; when asked about them, Moss told the Times UK: "I’m not going to tell you." [Telegraph UK, Grazia UK]
Video — Watch Anna Wintour Talk Alexander McQueen's Trickle-Down Effect, Mirroring Devil Wears Prada Movie Quote
>> On Tuesday in London, Anna Wintour previewed the Costume Institute's Alexander McQueen exhibit, set to go with this year's gala and opening May 4. A selection of the pieces that will be on view — primarily from the McQueen archives — can be seen here, and Wintour spoke to the BBC about the designer's legacy: "His influence is everywhere. I always remember, very soon after we lost him, talking to a number of designers — we were all in New York at the time — about how huge his influence had been on them, how his runway shows really taught them to be daring, and that the runway wasn’t just about a nice beige suit, that it was a place to explore the imagination and to take risks and to dare. That might sound sort of difficult to understand, maybe to the average woman, but the effects of that imagination had an extraordinary trickle-down effect, so what you may see looking very extreme on the runway would end up in people's closets in a much more understandable way."
Planned or not (although she has seen the film), we couldn't help but notice how Wintour's words in that last sentence parallel those of Miranda Priestly (whose character is supposedly based on Wintour) in The Devil Wears Prada. In one well-known scene, Priestly also talk designers' trickle-down effects: "You go to your closet and you select . . . I don't know . . . that lumpy blue sweater, for instance, because you're trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don't know is that that sweater is not just blue, it's not turquoise. It's not lapis. It's actually cerulean. And you're also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent . . . wasn't it, who showed cerulean military jackets? And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs, and it's sort of comical how you think that you've made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you're wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff."
>> We can always count on Milan Fashion Week to offer up some amazing street style. From off-duty models to attendees, we gathered our favorite snaps — including a rare sighting of Anna Dello Russo wearing pants and Tank's Caroline Issa looking pretty in pink and black — for you to peruse. Check out all of these molto bella looks, starting with cool girl Christine Centenera from Harper's Bazaar Australia (left), right now in the slideshow!
>> Fall 2011 Fashion Week has us seeing spots — but there's no need to call the doctor. We're talking about polka dots, swiss dots, and the ones that fall somewhere in between, as seen on Marc Jacobs, Diane von Furstenberg, and David Koma's runways. Mix together different sizes and colors for a perfectly clashed look, or stay chic in a one-piece ensemble. Can't wait until these masterpieces hit the racks? Check out what's in store right now.
>> There's been many an argument over the correct pronunciation of Proenza Schouler, and in the March 2011 issue of Interview, Lazaro Hernandez admits of the name, "I actually regret it." Jack McCollough agrees: "Yeah. One of our biggest regrets is the name of our company. It's like alphabet soup. There are so many letters. Even coming up with a font was a mission. We had to do these fine, little letters. We couldn't do strong, bold letters because it would be, like, out to here . . . . The whole reason why we even picked that name in the first place was that when we started, Barneys had just bought our collection and we didn't have a name. We thought, Hernandez McCollough? Doesn't sound so high end, does it?" Hernandez adds, "Proenza Schouler is better."
Their close friend and interviewer for the piece, Chloe Sevigny, points out that she likes the initials PS. McCollough notes: "We like PS, too, but Paul Smith has taken it. It's trademarked." Perhaps that's how their signature bag, the PS1, got named — it's as close to PS as they could get.
McCollough and Hernandez also cleared up questions surrounding their relationship — they are together personally as well as professionally (even though rumors have circulated that Derek Blasberg caused them to split years ago). And Proenza Schouler's CEO from the beginning, Shirley Cook, who McCollough says "was a friend of a friend from school" and "would come over and help us organize the part of running a business that we were clueless about" while working PR at Helmut Lang, has been dating McCollough's brother for six years. "What if they get married?" Sevigny asks.
Hernandez: Or what if they break up? That's even worse. [laughs] If they get married, it's fine. It's still the family.
McCollough: It could get messy. But you know, all relationships can potentially get really messy.
Hernandez: Like Jack and I could break up and then what would happen? Hmm.
McCollough: Whoa! What are you insinuating? I don't need you. [Hernandez laughs]
Hernandez: Those are all ifs. You gotta just . . .
McCollough: . . . move forward.
As far as their design relationship, Hernandez says it often works on compromise: "What's cool about us, if I want black and Jack wants white, we won't do either. We'll do grey. We have to find something in-between what we both want. It's hard. But Proenza Schouler wouldn't look the way it does if it were me by myself or Jack by himself. We do grey because I like white or he likes black. But none of us really likes grey, in a weird, metaphorical way." And between them, they design "90 percent of what you see."
That includes the pre-collections, which many other designers farm out to their design director (they don't have one). McCollough says, "If anything, the biggest stress these days are these pre-collections. They eat up so much of our time." But: "It's become just a huge part of the business. I think the pre-collections are about 60 percent of the business."
Nonetheless, they maintain that while designing, they don't think about sales. McCollough asserts, "If anything, we're anti-sales." And Hernandez adds: "We're really bad about that. We tend to think, 'What does my woman want for next season? What does she need? What does her closet lack? What has never crossed her mind?' It's never, 'Oh maybe she has enough short skirts made by us, now we need to do longer.' That's beside the point."
Sevigny notes that the designers are friends with Joseph Altuzarra and Alexander Wang, and asks if they feel a healthy competition with other designers. "Totally," Hernandez responds. "I think in the very beginning when we were trying to break through, we reacted to people who had already broken through a bit with something like, 'I hate him!' But now we feel more like there's room for everyone. Everyone does something different. All the young designers now are doing something interesting." McCollough chimes in: "There can be some crossover in places, absolutely. But for the most part, when people are doing well, they have their own thing going on."
It's well-documented that McCollough and Hernandez enjoy stepping away from the erratic fashion cycle on their farm in upstate New York — "People say New York is really inspiring and stuff, but for us, New York is a place to get sh*t done. Leaving the city and exploring things outside of the city is really inspiring," Hernandez says. And for such young designers — both men are 32 — it sounds like they've already mulled the idea of exiting fashion:
McCollough: We're not in this forever. We're not going to have the longevity of Karl Lagerfeld, who's doing this stuff at his age.
Hernandez: We respect people who have the stamina.
Sevigny: So are you going to become like Helmut Lang and do fine art?
McCollough: His career is kind of genius.
Hernandez: Helmut Lang's our hero.
McCollough: He stopped at his peak, you know?
Sevigny: But that wasn't exactly because he wanted to.
Hernandez: I think, probably, in retrospect, that served him well. For our generation, he's like God. He stepped down and left everyone wanting more.