Browsing Tag

Fashion Designers

Fashion

On Queer Lives, Fashion, Mourning, and Pulse (Fashion Conscious: A Column)

August 18, 2016

by Dominique Michelle Davis

The mass murder in Orlando at Pulse Nightclub, which claimed the life of 49 people, had me feeling less than optimistic about the future of our country, although I believe that love has a true power to heal pain and hurt. I tread lightly with the following words as not to unintentional offend anyone. I am not trivializing or trying to marginalize the LGBTQ community to a world of fashion and the arts, we know that LGBTQ people are and bring so much more to the world than that, so know that I get it. Still, the recent murder of all of those people, and the target specifically of the LGBTQ merged with a due date for a article. Unable to mourn without writing, and grieve without mourning, I thought I would try to find a way to accept the clear synthesis of the two for me over this summer. So this column is dedicated to members of the community that identify with the LGBTQ community as allies or otherwise. People have dedicated their life’s work to our society whether embraced or not.

victimsfrom PulseMurder

As a member of the human race and being doubly oppressed as an African American woman, I was floored by the inhuman hatred that we still harbor toward our fellow humans. The human existence is thought to be one of the highest levels of transcendence as we have the ability to intellectualize thoughts and act beyond our worse instincts. The human struggle is difficult enough with the games and systems that exist within our society, and for us to choose to add on the persecution of our fellow human beings based on whom they choose to love or who loves them is deeply sad. This Fashion Conscious column then pays respect to the lives lost to senseless violence due to a hatred caused by lack of understanding, a lack of empathy and persistent intolerance.

Numerous people have written about the many wonderful contributions LGBTQ people have made to history, culture, politics, and religious life. Fashion is, of course, only one such area. In February 2015, for example, Queerty ran a story called “The 15 Greatest Gay Designers,” while legendary fashion scholar Valerie Steele of the Museum at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) presented an exhibit and accompanying book called “A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk.”

Jenny Shimizu - QueerHistoryOfFashionBookCover

Writings like this article and book provide such important insights into some of the many contributions that queer people have made to fashion for more than a century.Confirmation of these contributions are all around me. Every time I look around at the day to day fashion in the city of Chicago alone, I stand to view at least 1 person wearing a Michael Kors watch, purse, or shoes, not to mention he was a major factor in project runway, Yeezus shouts out Ver-say-ce in “when it all falls down”, Nikki Minaj repped Alexander McQueen, Calvin Klein has been an influential figure within the fashion industry and the list continues beyond the world of fashion of how many people have contributed to advance our culture and broaden the perspectives of curators and critics.

In the days following the murders at Pulse, many people took to news and social media to grieve. Several noted that what was sad was that so many of the people were so young and had so much they would do with there lives and contribute to the world. I understood that and share that sense of loss, and and yet, I hesitate to highlight or mourn these contributions in the same way I have talked about what queer people have given to fashion here because, what Pulse taught me about mourning queer lives taken with such disregard is that it shouldn’t take for a person to be a great designer, dancer, singer, actor, politician, religious leader, teacher or anything at all for us to mourn them. The death of any person, and in the context of what I say here any queer person, is a loss because it is a loss of a human being who other people loved and needed. So much of the focus on those who were killed at Pulse, and the queer people who are killed everyday because they are queer, makes the well intentioned point that their death means also the death of potential for what things they will have bought to the world. My point here is that their potential doesn’t matter. It is a loss regardless and tragic regardless. The simple taking of a life is sad enough, and focusing on what those people could have or would have been seems also a bit too insufficient. So this column ends, perhaps rather abruptly and still very sadly, in not really knowing what to say, but hoping that we can create a space to be.

Fashion, News, Runway Review

#NYFW: Derek Lam is Totally My Valentine and…

February 14, 2016

… YES, I confess that I am totally just saying that because I want one of these gorgeous coats he showed in his Fall 2016 collection for New York Fashion Week, I already got a man. As for those extraordinary coats, here are the receipts:

DerekLam9-Fall16

DerekLam2-Fall16

DerekLam3-Fall16

DerekLam1-Fall16

DerekLam8-Fall16

On the strength of these looks alone Lam’s show was, by far, among my favorite of today (being edged out just a teeny, weeny bit by Public School because their clothes make me think a lot and I’m a fashion nerd).  But to top off these already phenomenal looks, he also gave us this, and this, and that!:

DerekLam7-Fall16

DerekLam6-Fall16

DerekLam5-Fall16

Slayed. Annnnnd, scene.

 

-edp

Fashion, News, Runway Review

#NYFW Fall ’16: Public School Resists Fashion’s Gender Gazing Problem

February 14, 2016

Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne of Public School have a lot on there plate these days. In addition to designing for the label they have successfully built into a must-see, award winning fashion and style brand, the two also now occupy the helm of the legendary DKNY. In a time when many are lamenting the death of creativity in fashion as a result of designer’s being tasked with too much to do, these two clearly still have steam as we saw in their recent Fall 2016 Menswear collection that slayed the runway, and now their Fall 2016 ready-to-wear collection for NYFW.

What I love about Public School is that, even when fashion sticks to basic notions of gender identity and expression in terms of clothes, and the fashion house does play by those old rules in terms of having a separate menswear and womenswear show (which, to be fair, is actually somewhat recent for their company), the fashion house and the clothes they produce do emerge from an aesthetic that is agender. The payoff of this, besides the obvious gender radicalness of it all, is that they can play with color and texture in their garments, but above all with silhouette’s as the form and function of their designs don’t appear to constrain on the basis of rigid rules of gender identity and expression we find in most mainstream fashion houses and others operating at the top levels as Public School. For this show we see large ponchos, oversized trousers and jeans, and layers that work to conceal rather than convey particular attention to any of the markers much of fashion draws the eye to in an effort to distinguish those features that denote men’s clothes and women’s clothes and rigid notions of what femininity and masculinity are and could be in and through fashion and style. In sum, I appreciate the cerebral nature of what Public School does each season and this collection keeps that going.

Here are some of my favorites from the Fall 2016 ready-to-wear line:

 

PublicSchool2-Fall16

PublicSchool3-Fall16

PublicSchool4-Fall16

PublicSchool5-Fall16

PublicSchool6-Fall16

-edp

Fashion, News, Runway Review

#NYFW: Christian Siriano Made us a Believer in Yellow.

February 14, 2016

I’ve said it before, and I’ve said it again. Christian Siriano is one of the best in the evening wear game. The risks he takes with fabrics for evening, his use of color, his imagination that what one could wear for evening could be something more than just a gown but something more edgy and fun are among his strengths and what make his collections one to watch for me.

For Fall 2016, I am most transformed by his use of yellow. Yellow has never been a color I love, but in both his Spring 2016 collection and this latest Fall show, Siriano used yellow in ways that have made be a believer in this “Big Bird” couture. And I mean that in a REALLY< REALLY good way. The yellow wasn’t all the same, some verged on a more pale side, others vibrant, and at least one leaned very chartreuse. All of them, in my eyes, were by far my favorites from the collection and are among my favorite for NYFW so far, and I don’t know what to make of that as yellow usually calls up my shade button. Here are my favorites from among them:

CSiriano5-Fall16

CSiriano6-Fall16

CSiriano7-Fall16

CSiriano8-Fall16

I also enjoyed what Siriano did with so much knitwear for evening, and some that could also work for day. In addition to the yellow knit pieces above, there was other that really caught my eye:

CSiriano4-Fall16

Staying true to his strength and signature, Christian Siriano’s gave us so many dresses that gave so much life. Among my favorites and most “RCR” (red carpet ready) were these:

CSiriano3-Fall16

CSiriano1-Fall16

Fashion, News, Runway Review

#NYFW Fall ’16: Alexander Wang Redefines “Beauty and Taste”

February 14, 2016

The only thing that says f*** the fashion establishment better than sex worker chic, is sex worker chic done through fabrics, separates, and styling that are the status symbols of said establishment. This was the Fall 2016 show of Alexander Wang, unarguably himself part of the fashion establishment, after a meteoric rise from his eponymous label to the head of legendary French house Balenciaga, and back. And so it was fitting that in his first show since leaving his Parisian perch, that Wang would give a collection that remixes those establishment symbols with his own signatures – especially that hardware – to make a clear statement that there was life before and after Balenciaga for him, and that fashion and style has a life that is bigger than the establishment and its symbols.

With this intention, Wang’s collection outfits a couture street fight in which the models looks prepare them for battle with the establishment: studded boots to kick its ass, stockings already ruined with labels emblazoned on them so one doesn’t have to worry about the running while they “fight the power.” Wang did struck me as the kind of thing Hedi Slimane has attempted to do at Yves Saint Laurent since he took over that house, much to the chagrin of many fashion critics, though the YSL customer seems to love it as Slimane’s work brings in lots of coins. Somehow, however, Wang’s approach went down a bit easier than Slimane’s grunge girls and Hollywood pilgrim looks at Saint Laurent. Maybe this supports the overall takeaway from Wang’s Fall 2016 collection: the taste and beauty standards of the industry that the establishment desires is no sustenance for the 21st century fashionista who insists on being and dressing free.

Here are three of my favorite looks from Alexander Wang Fall 2016:

AlexanderWang1-Fall16

AlexanderWang2-Fall16

AlexanderWang3-Fall16

AlexanderWang4-Fall16

AlexanderWang5-Fall16

AlexanderWang6-Fall16

AlexanderWang7-Fall16

AlexanderWang8-Fall16

AlexanderWang9-Fall16

 

-edp

Fashion, History, Interview, On the Street, Pop Culture

Sankofa Couture: Interview with School of Thought Collection Creators

December 15, 2015

by Stephanie “Rhythm” Keene 

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 9.18.25 PM

photo credit: Mike Ryan/Brick x Birch (all photos in this post)

I recently I sat down with Maryam Pugh of Philadelphia Printworks and Donte Neal of Mars Five to discuss their fashion design collaboration, the collection “School of Thought.” The “School of Thought” collection “imagines a different world where colleges and institutions have been established based on the philosophies of Marcus Garvey, Audre Lorde, Ida B. Wells, Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver and James Baldwin. The collection represents the double consciousness experienced by” African diasporic people in America  “and creates a safe space for the praxis of liberation.” [Editor’s Note: The interviewer, Stephanie “Rhythm” Keene, is also featured in the “School of Thought” campaign photos wearing the ‘Tubman’ shirt]. 

Keene: How did this idea come about?

Neal: I had an art studio at the Window Factory in North Philly, and so did Maryam. I got to see the beginning of what Philadelphia Printworks was, and I always wanted to collaborate with them. Then in the beginning of 2015, we came up with this cool idea to do collegiate sweatshirts. I always wanted to do something that had a collegiate theme, and [liked] being able to do that with Philadelphia Printworks by way of using very significant black intellectuals.

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 9.19.26 PM

Keene: How did you choose which intellectuals to use? Will others show up later?

Neal: There was a much larger list. We wanted to, at least for this run, to do names that were a good balance between men and women.

Pugh: Any time we design a collection, there’s always that balance of trying to find people that we think are impactful and someone that has done things that we feel deserve to be brought to the light and recognized and honored. If it goes well, we can expand the collection to include other names and other products.

Neal: We wanted to make sure that we grounded ourselves somewhat in reality; if these schools existed, what would be the cornerstone of their educational system? So [for example] Garvey Industrial Institute. So we focused on the technology of industry, the building of factories, etc. Ida B. Wells was one of the writers who started writing about the lynchings in the South in the height of it, when it was going down. [Someone going to that fictional school] could be someone who maybe wants to be involved in politics, bringing important subjects to light regardless of what kind of adversity they’re [facing] at the moment. So we didn’t want to pick names out of a hat because these names are cool. These are the ‘schools of thought.’ These are the ideas of importance, and here are some people that represent these ideas.

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 9.20.20 PM

Keene: The timing of this project feels really important given the current state of affairs for black people, particularly in America. How intentional was that, and what are your thoughts about the images of this line, juxtaposed against images of what’s happening in America right now?

Pugh: Philadelphia Printworks has been doing this for 4 or 5 years and it’s interesting to see how the climate of the world affects the things we do. Specifically now, it’s very important that we have these positive images and think of ways we can manifest the future we’d like to see.

Neal: I hope this collection and this effort can bridge the gap between people who started with the same fire that [the youth] have now. It would be great to have youth adopt these names into their way of thinking and draw a comparison between what they’re going through now in their fight and what was going on in the times of the folks that appear on these sweatshirts.

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 9.21.29 PM

Pugh: Historically, the younger people are where the revolution comes from, but we can’t lose what we learned in the previous generations. It’s the idea of Sankofa – going back and trying to apply what we’ve learned from the past. With the concept of this collection, we were able to take past revolutionaries and apply it in a very futuristic way.

Neal: This is very Afrofuturistic. We are imagining our future, planting the seed for a manifestation of a bright future.

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 9.20.07 PM

Keene: The “A Different World” [late 80s and early 90s NBC sitcom about a fictional HBCU called Hillman College] connection is seamless. How did the idea to make that visual connection come about?

Pugh: “A Different World,” [the films] “School Daze,” “Higher Learning,” they all talked about really important topics, that unfortunately we’re still experiencing now. And I’ve seen the younger generation reach out to these shows [and films] that we grew up on and use them as a conduit, so it made sense for us to also tie our collection into it.

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 9.19.09 PM

Neal: For a lot of black folks, that alternate universe in which these characters existed, there was hope in this show. Being young and impressionable, seeing that show I was just like “Wow. Here are these completely normal… They don’t fit like a stereotype. This black person is like this and this black person is like that, and they’re friends and they exist in the same [space].” Seeing that was really inspirational. The impact and the positive influence that show had on black folks, that was imagined. That was written by somebody. If someone can imagine that and make such a great impact and inspire black people, why can’t we at any point imagine a product, whether it’s a book, a movie, a piece of clothing, art… We can imagine things and create a space in the future in which these ideas can exist. Who knows? Maybe one day we might have a Tubman University.

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 9.18.51 PM

You can purchase items from the “School of the Thought” collection here.

Follow Philadelphia Printworks on Twitter, IG, and Tumblr: @philaprint

Follow Donte Neal of Mars Five on Twitter: @donteneal_

Stephanie “Rhythm” Keene is a Philadelphia-based writer and performer. She is a co-host of The Harvest, the largest open mic experience in Philadelphia. A proud graduate of The Lincoln University (PA), she is an ally and advocate fighting for the freedom of all people. Follow her on Twitter and IG: @rhythmkeene

Fashion, Runway Review

Volume 2: Pre-Fall 2016 Fashion Favorites

December 10, 2015

by Eric Darnell Pritchard

I’ve already shared my favorite looks from the Pre-Fall 2016 fashion shows and presentations here. Those presentations continue, and so here is Volume 2 of my favorite looks forecasting all that is chic, elegant, and fierce for that season.

Public School

PS-PreFall16

photo credit: Public School

PS-PreFall16-3

PS-PreFall16-2

 

Tomas Maier

TomasMaier-PreFall16

photo credit: Tomas Maier

TomasMaier-PreFall16-2

 

Tory Burch

photo credit: Tory Burch

photo credit: Tory Burch

ToryBurch-PreFall16

ToryBurch-Prefall16-3

ToryBurch-PreFall16-4

 

Zac Posen

ZacPosen-PreFall16

photo credit: Zac Posen

ZacPosen-PreFall16-2

ZacPosen-PreFall16-3

ZacPosen-PreFall16-4

 

 

What are your thoughts on these looks? Any items among these looks that are at the top of your Pre-Fall 2016 shopping list? Leave a comment below or share your opinion with me on Twitter and Instagram too. You can find me @glamourtunist.

 

 

Fashion, Runway Review

Pre-Fall 2016 Fashion Favorites: Volume 1

December 7, 2015

by Eric Darnell Pritchard

Sure, we are close to a year away from Fall-ish 2016, however all the recent Pre-Fall 2016 runway shows and look books from designers has us on a fierce fashion fast forward. Today I present Volume 1 of three installments of my favorite Pre-Fall 2016 looks thus far.

Altuzarra 

Altuzarra-PreFall16-2

credit: Bruno Staub via Altuzarra Altuzarra-PreFall-16

Burberry Prorsum

Burberry-PreFall16

credit: Burberry Prorsum

Burberry-PreFall16-2

Diane von Furstenberg

DVF-PreFall16-2

photo credit: DVF

DVF-PreFall16

Fendi

Fendi-PreFall-16

photo credit: Fendi

Fendi-PreFall16-2

Fendi-PreFall16-3

Michael Kors

MichaelKors-PreFall16

photo credit: Michael Kors Collection

MichaelKors-PreFall16-2

MichaelKors-PreFall16-3

MichaelKors-PreFall16-4

What are your thoughts? Any items among these looks that are at the  top of your Pre-Fall 2016 shopping list? Leave a comment below or share your opinion with me on Twitter and Instagram too. You can find me @glamourtunist.

Fashion, History

Rewind, 1970-1999: A (Bill) Blass from the Past

November 12, 2015

by Eric Darnell Pritchard (photo credit: Richard Avedon)

“Red is the ultimate cure for sadness.” – Bill Blass

“When in doubt wear red.” – Bill Blass

The proof is Lauren Hutton, photographed by the iconic Richard Avedon, wearing a gorgeous Bill Blass red handkerchief dress in georgette, a dress that is timeless, elegant, and indeed for any style ennui (that’s french for boredom!) we may be suffering now or ever.

This month, fashion wunderkind Chris Benz’s long awaited debut has creative director of legendary American fashion brand Bill Blass finally came true. And from the looks posted in stories in the fashion press, and the items currently available for purchase on the company’s site, Benz, did not disappoint. I’ve already eyed a piece I will be buying as a gift for a friend.

Blass, the son of a dressmaker mother and a salesman father, had been obsessed with style and designing his entire life. Indeed, the double-B logo for what would become his company emerged from sketches he had done from as early has his pre-teens. In 1970, after working in fashion since 1959 and eventually becoming the head designer of the fashion house Maurice Rentner, Blass purchased that brand and renamed it Bill Blass Limited, formally establishing a brand that would go on to great success for the next three decades until Blass’s retirement in 1999. Following his retirement, several designers were installed as the head of Bill Blass Limited and charged to keep the fashion brand’s legacy going starting with Steven Slowik (who was Blass’s choice to succeed him), Lars Nilsson,  Michael Vollbrecht, and finally Peter Som (a former assistant to Blass). Blass passed away from cancer on June 12, 2002, and  Som’s leadership would be the last big attempt at keeping Bill Blass Limited alive until, in October 2014, when it was announced that Benz would be the creative lead of a relaunch of Bill Blass, the latest chapter in a story of returns for a fashion house that once epitomized the ideal of American sportswear. This chapter, however, looks to be the perfect combination: Blass’ chic, attainable glamorous Americana aesthetic, and Benz’s irreverent, sophisticated, and whimsical approach to design.

With the roll out relaunching Bill Blass underway, it is both imperative and impossible not to take a brief, though glorious trip down memory lane with some of the best in the company’s history under its founder’s creative leadership.

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 8.29.12 PM

Blass in his element

mrp_billblass_chessymica

Blass also designed menswear his career, his own personal style is a glimpse at that part of his career.

 

a-woman-modeling-bill-blass-fashion-everett

Get into the sofa pillow with the Bill Blass logo on the sofa. Blass had a fondness for interior decoration, and his impeccable taste was also evident in his Connecticut estate.

 

Bill-Blass-Francesco-Scavullo-480x649

Socialite, designer and Anderson Cooper’s mama, Gloria Vanderbilt, wearing a giraffe print Bill Blass tunic and pants in the 1970s

 

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 8.30.19 PM

A beautiful Bill Bass turtleneck dress, and also a beautiful model with the most glorious afro. I live!

 

OB-CV723_billbl_H_20081219150713

It’s time to play “Name that fashion decade …”

 

tumblr_inline_nwxkdcITqv1r105dn_1280

Chris Benz at work for Bill Blass today. Good luck, Mr. Benz and so far, so good. We’ll be watching.

 

 

Fashion, Runway Review

Chicago Fashion Week: Alexander Swain (Review)

November 9, 2015

by Dominique Michelle Davis (photo credit: Dominique Michelle Davis)

The 2015 Chicago Fashion Week presented a runway showcase called “Fashion Focus: Style Bias, Street Style.” The event was held downtown at Block 37. This was my first year attending this particular event for Fashion Focus Chicago. What intrigued me about this event was the platform to highlight and promote Chicago street style, local designers and boutique owners. In addition to presentation of collections there were performances by Huey Gang.

Artist Alexander Swain designed what I found to be the most intriguing collection. The collection included the repetition of multicolored patchwork as a detail in many of the garments, paint splatters on vests and pants, and really wonderful accessorizing on men’s and women’s looks, including some really chic hats and a unique make-up looks on many of the models, some of whom appeared to have face jewelry and other make-up looks that gave texture to the face. Among my favorite looks was the long patchwork shirt dress (pictured above).

A-Swain 8

A-Swain 5

What I found most provocative was a garment with an illustration of a caricature in black face. Initially this detail gave me pause, and I wondered about the inspiration behind this collection given this reference of what is racist iconography. The look was a shirt with the face of a person that accessorized with bandanas and handkerchiefs put you in the mind frame of the antebellum south and the ways gingham bandanas and head scarves were often depicted as being worn by the Mammy figure, a representation of enslaved Black women and free domestics as popularized in films like “Gone With the Wind” wherein Hattie McDaniel played a character named Mammy, a role for which she became the first African American to win an Oscar in 1940.

A-Swain 1

Hattie McDaniel, Actress

Hattie McDaniel, Actress

My awareness of Swain’s artistic commitment to fashion being seen as on par with other visual arts, and the other ways in which race and diversity were so deliberate in this runway presentation, made it clear to me that this reference of a painful racist iconography was not a haphazard reference, but deliberately trying to evoke a  conversation about the complex relations between race, art, and retail or commerce.

Despite the ways Swain’s historical reference transported one to the past, the music kept one consciously anchored within and aware of the present. To that point, in 2015, in light of the culture of frustration, distrust, and anger many people (including African American Chicagoans) feel for Chicago’s political scene, and with Chicago widely known to be one of the most segregated cities in the United States, this collection was timely in its provocative commentary. Alexander Swain’s collection spoke volumes and created the appropriate context for intersecting conscious art and fashion. I would definitely rock his collection and add a piece from his collection to my wardrobe.

A-Swain 6

In addition to Swain, other collections presented in the showcase include the following fashion labels: Ameerah Vania, The Albert Ray Collection, Royal Apparel, Bornmade, House of Lerenn, Daniel Jacob, Urban Threads Studio, Stefan Meier and Aqua Vita.