Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Another Future

by Angelo Flaccavento,JC Report,27 Jul 2006

Futurism has not often been on designers' minds of late; nostalgia and romanticism prevail. Even fashion's current flirtation with sport has a persistent, blue-blooded, retro aftertaste. Master modernist Raf Simons, though, has different ideas. He always did. Putting the stress on formal perfection and angst-ridden classicism, the quiet Belgian continues drawing a unique path that points resolutely towards tomorrow.

Simons' obsessions are well known and consistent: youth, disaffected adolescence, and post-punk/new-wave angularity, among them. Season after season, his vision gets more distilled — distant even. The collections he recently delivered for his own label and under the Jil Sander umbrella are particularly noteworthy. Imbued with a soullessly dry, robotic quality that is as fascinating as it is puzzling — a trait that takes a slightly more grown-up turn at Jil and a subtly insouciant one at Raf — these efforts herald nothing less than a tech-tainted, man/machine aesthetic. On the one side, you have the ultramodern concept — industrial approach, functionalism lack of romance — and on the other, the faultlessly traditional execution and the careful and expert finishing. Welcome to the era of the sartorially splendid clone, future classic.

The future according to Raf Simons is not about silvery jumpsuits and flowing capes (save for the occasional neoprene all-in-one, of course). It's all about unavoidable, boyish staples: parkas, wind coats, skinny knits, skinnier trousers, sleeveless tops, precise shirts, and suits stripped bare of distracting extra details. This perfectly classic repertoire morphs and twists through a careful placement of seams, via graphic intersections of colors, with mind-blowing alterations of volumes and proportions. The resulting pieces are deceptively simple and full of thoughtful details. Techno inserts curl around the pockets on a pair of shorts, for instance, while industrial-strength zippers replace closures. One puffa jacket is hidden inside another, with the two seamlessly joined at the collar; contrasting textures recur. Sculptural collars frame the face, and summer knits are bulletproof-thick, insistently addressing the topic of shields and protection. Yet what really sets Simons apart is his ability to sum up all these single elements into an iconic silhouette as bold as a well-dealt blow — one that truly speaks fashion volumes. Upon seeing a boxy top paired with narrow bottoms, the association with Simons is automatic, and that's the sign of a true master.

From the sideline, Simons' futurism bears an intoxicating inclination towards repetition. The designer likes to send out multiple variations of the same garment worn by models, each looking more or less identical, in what, rather surprisingly, comes across as an inverted celebration of uniqueness. As Simons once knowingly declared in an interview, "individuality is in your mind." It's the person, not the clothes, that counts

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Star Starck

Saw the above in and love the interior. Here's an excerpt of the article:

Katsuya, a Brentwood sushi joint with decor by one Philippe Starck. Does the world really need another Starck-designed restaurant? Er, no, but in this case the Frenchman seems to have reined his ego in a bit. The space, patterned after a bento box, is relatively minimal with dramatic bursts of punctuation courtesy of the oversized photographic blowups of a geisha's eyes and lips. The result is a harder-edged, more disciplined form of whimsy than we've seen from Starck lately. Even better, the food should live up to the scene. Decorated sushi chef Katsuya Uechi (Katsu-Ya sushi bar) is centering the cuisine around the (literally and no doubt figuratively) smoking-hot Japanese robata grill. Expect char-grilled duck breast rubbed with yuzu pepper, and beef-rolled asparagus with spicy teriyaki. By the way, whether the world is ready or not, more Starck eateries are on the way: This is the first of a series of projects the designer is working on for Sam Nazarian's SBE Restaurant Group.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

"Bespoke" Is Old News To Armani

by James Shi,, 16 June 2006

The Armani man has always been able to order made-to-measure suits through the Giorgio Armani and Armani Collezioni labels. But beginning in September, that man will be privy to a new luxury tailoring experience: Giorgio Armani Hand Made to Measure.

“In these times of big fashion corporations, globalization and brands run by accountants, I believe it is important to remember where fashion design started—with the desire to make beautiful clothes for people to wear,” Armani said two years ago when he entered the world of couture with Privé. The process of producing a women’s collection entirely by hand inspired Armani to revisit his first love—tailoring—and thus, Giorgio Armani Fatto A Mano Su Misura (Hand Made to Measure) was born.

Customers will receive swatches of fabrics at their homes or offices, and they can literally order a new hand made garment over the phone, with the reassurance that it will match the fit of any they already own. The service, offered in selected Giorgio Armani boutiques worldwide, allows access to the designer’s studio, and invites the client to become part of the design process. It even features a personalized label.

Italian actor Raoul Bova, star of What About Brian, appears in a testimonial for the Giorgio Armani Hand Made to Measure service.

Must Read for Fall

by Jim Shi,, 20 June 2006

Have an anniversary to celebrate? Then publish a book. Lately, that seems to be the designer’s mantra and Gucci is no exception. The Italian fashion house will debut Gucci by Gucci, a 450-page retrospect on 85 years worth of the company’s glamorous red-carpet moments culled from its archives, tossed in with a healthy dose of its iconic horse-bit, bamboo, and double G logo accessories. Designed by Doug Lloyd and published by Mondadori Electra, the book will launch in Milan this September to coincide with Gucci’s spring show before going on sale at select bookstores worldwide in November. For those seeking an extra-special, limited-edition version—wrapped in a sleek “La Pelle Guccissima” case—will be available exclusively at Gucci stores.
As part of the initiative, Gucci will make a sizable donation to restoration of A Woman Under the Influence, the 1974 film directed by John Cassavetes and starring Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk as part of The Film Foundation.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Metrosexuals: A Well-Groomed Market?

by Vivian-Manning Schaffel,, 22 May 2006

Since the advent of metrosexuality, companies have realized that they have a new market to capitalize on—men who spend their money on grooming and appearance supplies. Walk through the aisles of any US drugstore, and you’ll notice an abundance of male-targeted personal grooming products, such as anti-aging eye-creams, shower gels and formula facial cleansers, slowly monopolizing the shelves.

With so many brands clamoring for their slice of the pie, metrosexuals have out and out become their own market segment. And as sales figures roll in, there is clear evidence that the metrosexual market is indeed quite viable.

“With men becoming more involved with their grooming habits and the explosive growth in the men's segment (dollar volume +49% in 2005), we saw a huge opportunity to introduce the male consumer to a new proposition in skincare,” says Carol J. Hamilton, president of the L’Oréal Paris division of L’Oréal USA, Inc., whose Men’s Expert line was among the first to hit the mass market a few years ago.

According to L’Oréal Paris’ 2005 annual report, men’s skincare—with its 11% growth in sales—was L’Oréal Paris’ fastest growing sector. And it’s not just a US-based trend. There are numbers that quantify this as a global trend. The same report states only 4% of European men used a skincare product in 1990, compared to a whopping 20% in 2003.

Interestingly, younger men seem to be leading the charge, which points to a generational shift in thinking. In Europe, 24% of men under 30 use skincare products, compared with 20% of the population as a whole. In Japan, some 30% of men under 30 use a skincare product, and in South Korea the figure clocks in at over 80%.

The numbers do not lie. Younger men are clearly more interested in taking care of themselves than their fathers or even their older brothers. But is it because metrosexuality has become more widely accepted by the masses or simply because of their generation’s habits?

Edina Sultanik-Silver, owner of BrandPimps and Media Whores, a New York-based men’s fashion public relations company, thinks metrosexual tendencies are a sign of the times.

“It’s a generational thing. I think that Gen Y and millennial guys view all the creams and grooming preparations out there as OK and perfectly natural for them to use, rather than girly,” says Sultanik-Silver. “The guys in these generations get their bodies waxed, work out, style their hair, go to tanning salons, etc., more than their predecessors. Possibly because they were raised on MTV, the Internet and reality shows, every minute of their lives is a photo-op, they always want to look like they’re ready for their 15 minutes of fame, and don't think there's anything feminine about that.”

So what liberated the inner metrosexual in these young men? Sultanik-Silver thinks it’s the marriage between the media and consumerism, producing a sector that will continue to grow for some time.
“It (this trend) was mostly media driven, I believe,” says Sultanik-Silver. “Everyone wants a piece of ‘the next big thing.’ Our popular culture is driven by image and consumerism right now. Word on the street was that men were interested in dressing up more, spending more on clothes, moisturizers, etc. Men's fashion and style were the hot buzz segment of the youth market and as a result, more brands began targeting young men as more retailers begin catering to them. To me, this signals the mainstreamization of metrosexualism,” says Sultanik-Silver. “And it’s going to continue to grow.”

As the success of Men’s Expert bears testament, L’Oréal Paris has played an active role in the ongoing mainstreaming of metrosexuals. “In our first year, we brought a significant number of these ‘men on the cusp’ into the category and we will continue to do so,” states Hamilton. “Our efforts, combined with other heavy activity in the category, will mean continued growth for many more years.”

Although she agrees that the remaining stigma about men who are keen on grooming is dissolving rapidly, there is still a serious learning curve in regard to marketing to metrosexuals.

“Despite tremendous growth rates over the past several years, the men's treatment segment is still in its infancy,” surmises Hamilton. “Today, less than 20% of men use a facial moisturizer. However, another 25% of men today say that they are interested in trying skincare treatments, but have not yet made the leap. On the whole, most men have moved away from any stigma associated with using what could be considered a more female product, but they are still not sure what to do and how to do it.”

Young or old, metrosexuals apparently are here to stay. Eventually, the term “metrosexual” might even become dated. Then, metrosexuals simply would be known as men who enjoy their right to groom and shop for clothes.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Check In and Check Out - Part II

If you have forgotten your beach cover-up, then One&Only Reethi Rah in the Maldives offers a silk karftan specially designed by Matthew Williamson (US$1,395), not to mention a beach bag from Anya Hindmarch (US$190).

In the same vein, the Plaza-Athenee in Paris can supply you with a pair of red leather slipper by Loewe (Euro$150). And if you've just run out of lipstick, it also carries a range of branded Lancome Juicy Tubes (Euro$30).

Cowley Manor in the Cotswolds (near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire) keeps a practical selection of Calvin Klein underwear for emergencies (price on application). And the Four Seasons George V in Paris sells disposable designer bathers (Vilebrequin for men, Eres for women) for just Euro$12.

If you've shopped so much, you'll need an extra bag to carry it home in. In which case, Nine Zero in Boston, a city with no sales tax, has a navy and balck courier bag which it sells in-house for US$45.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Check In and Check Out - Part I

Convinced their guests want not just to live the brand but wear it, more hotels are setting themselves up as fashion retailers.

St Regis has commissioned a limited edition Bottega Veneta weekend bag in nappa leather (US$4,500) while New York's Mandarin Oriental provides each room with a pair of horned specs (US$150) by Manhattan optician Morgenthal Frederics.....

Sunday, June 11, 2006

50 Most Stylish Things In The World Right Now recently complied a list of 50 stylish things globally to own now. Other than the expected inclusion of designer wear and wine, the titanium dildo (at no 5) and doll matches (at no 8) caught my eye. Both are pictured here.

Take a look at what they say respectively:

Vibrator: "At this brand-new upscale erotica store, Kiki de Montparnasse, they have a beautiful sleek titanium dildo amongst other beautiful objects. Ask for Andrew Pollard to show you around. It's a stunning store."
—Serge Becker, designer/restaurateur

Doll Matches: 'With heads hand-painted with the faces of birds and animals, these artful incendiaries are meant to be seen, not burned. They're available exclusively through Tokyu Hands, the seven-story "creative life store" in Tokyo's ever-hip Shibuya district. The only word is, uh, striking.'