Ella Emhoff Makes Her Runway Debut at New York Fashion Week

New York Fashion Week Was More About Content Than Creativity

What exactly to say for a Fashion Week that its hallmark is the surprise runway by a celebrity stepdaughter? No offense, Ella Emhoff’s runway appearance at Proenza Schouler bore all the characteristics of a fresh face donning power dressing, a la Gen Z; tailored pants, and a relaxed jacket. Interesting, but that was it all.

Perhaps the problem lies in the calendar or otherwise in the lack of a calendar, Back in  January, Tom Ford, the chair of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, released the American Collections Calendar as an effort to unite all American names under one roof, including those showing in Paris and London. Later on, IMG presented a schedule of its own that included  Jason Wu, Veronica Beard, Markarian, Tadashi Shoji, Badgley Mischka, Anna Sui, Victor Glemaud, and Rodarte, amongst others. Further adding to the ambiguity, many of them are also on the CFDA’s “American Collections” schedule. Not exactly handy for all of us trying to tune up with all the digital presentations, live-streamed shows, and talks.

Not surprisingly, big brands seem to acknowledge the problem, by completely opting out. Several large American brands such as Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, and Tory Burch have snubbed this season’s New York Fashion week and chose not to show. In the end, we had Proenza Schouler’s tailored knits (Ella Emhoff included), Gabriella Hearst’s monastic dresses, Rebecca Minkoff’s, relaxed florals streamed on Instagram, TikTok, and Only Fans (yes, the X-rated platform).

With many great names away, some might say this would be an opportunity for new designers to shine-in any calendar. Then again, how do find those new names where they don’t have a platform or have too many? One of them it was the Black In Fashion Council Showroom, created by The Cut‘s editor-in-chief Lindsay Peoples Wagner and fashion consultant Sandrine Charles of the newly launched Black in Fashion Council in June, Their virtual showroom presented work of emerging Black designers such as Marrisa Wilson, House of Aama, Chelsea Paris, and Michel Men, There was some true talent there if you knew how to look.

What’s left to say here is that the format is wrong for many smaller brands and designers that do great design and tailoring-but can’t get through the digital noise or simply don’t have the resources to bring their vision to digital life. They need support as much as editors need a clear calendar to look forward to. One that doesn’t just include anyone American showing anywhere. As far as I know, New York Fashion Week has always been about New York’s buzz and vibe, its cultural zeitgeist. A post -covid New York City will be a challenge for everyone, not only fashion designers. Tough, not less exciting, though. Let’s hope.

Kamala Harris Vogue US

Politicians on the Cover-What Happens When Politics Become a Fashion Spectacle

In today’s material world, politicians are not strange to fashion and lifestyle magazines. Most recently, US Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris has made the February cover of magazine Vogue cementing her status as both an influential figure-and a style icon, despite of the controversy following the move. A daring choice but not a rare one as politicians often chose to grace the cover of fashion and entertainment magazines, grabbing some of the allure connected with the fashion world. Former US President Barack Obama appeared on the cover of InStyle and Vanity Fair while former First Lady Michelle Obama has graced the covers of several fashion and women’s magazines in the past, including Vogue. Hillary Clinton appeared on the cover of Vogue in 1998 in a portrait-like shoot that oozed glamour and authority while Newsweek got under serious under fire for choosing Sarah Palin -in shorts! – as its 2009 cover.

Fashion magazine covers appear irresistible for members of the state hierarchy. For Michelle Washington, Fashion Stylist & GQ Insider, fashion is inherently political. “ When we question if fashion is political, the answer is…yes. The fashion industry is all too aware of the significance clothing carries and within the past decade, people have become politically polarized; played out before our eyes on various platforms of social media. ” Indeed, any cover star appearing on Vogue or Vanity Fair signifies less than the epitome of a cultural moment-and becomes part of a spectacle unfolding before the public’s eyes.

This mass spectacle is one that equals influence and power For Marco Briziarelli, Associate Professor of Communication & Journalism, at the University of New Mexico; politicians who seek symbolic expression through fashion seek political power. “Political power, as any form of social power, is relational and in many ways abstract, i.e. objectively there but invisible, you don’t see particles or atoms of power right? In this sense, the spectacle is a form of representation as well as attainment of power, like money is a form of representation of economic value. What are the implications of that? Well, politics, even genuinely good politics, has a necessary spectacular aspect. ” he explains.

If so, it’s not hard to see why certain politicians seek to appear in fashion media. It’s part of the public persona and constitutes their narrative. It is also, about embracing the political and social zeitgeist. As Michelle Washington points out, for decades, fashion has been the zeitgeist of our times.“ It really shows the intersection of fashion and politics while revealing how powerful people in politics are also influential fashion icons. Having politicians on the cover of fashion magazines certainly increases the visibility of complex issues, but it should not negate the expectation of fashion escapism that we anticipate from fashion magazines.”

Still, what happens when politics become a spectacle, albeit a very poignant one,? For Marco Briziarelli, the answer is based on those abstract relations of social power that become visible only through representations. “ Representations (the principle don’t tell me, show me) are very useful in order to visualize abstract or complex things. The problem with spectacular representations is that they also tend to provide gross simplifications of any issues, thus reducing the complexity of the social or history to ‘fairy tales’, false dichotomies and unjustified polarizations of meanings. Politics, ideally, is a rational form through which we deal with the complexity created by living together. Spectacular politics does not address nor grasp such complexity. ”

Can Couture Hold the Answer to Fashion’s Turbulent Future?

Is escapism relevant today? Where does our inner urge for exhibitionism go when we are on lockdown sporting sweatshirt bottoms? Enter couture. For the season,designers made some serious effort to both consider those questions and present their own version of response. Some brands are producing photograph portfolios of their collections while others are hosting presentations in a socially distanced setting. Opulent daywear, elaborate craftsmanship, and coed collections set the tone for the season. Daywear for couture might sound innovative enough in an era where we all live and work in sweatshirts but actually, it isn’t.

In fact, daywear has always been a couture staple, at least for the last 50 years. From Yves Saint Laurent’s Christian Dior debut with an ingenious take on the Mod look in the form of a crocodile jacket with mink trim and Givenchy’s elaborate daywear, couture had always had something to say when it comes to the everyday life of the rich and fortunate, This season also included menswear, something interesting to observe, yet not new to couture collections, either.

Lets speak with examples. In Valentino, Pierre Paolo Pizzioli decided to Italian palazzo, the Galleria Colonna in Rome, to show his high fashion slash intellectual take on  Couture as daywear.“My idea is to witness the moment,” Piccioli explained, as he fittingly named the collection ‘Temporal.’ We spotted lush evening skirts paired with turtleneck sweaters and slinky dresses in creams and neutrals along with sudden bursts of super-bright pinks and neon greens. Those were wearable couture clothes for the everyday activities of the fortunate and rich. There was fantasy, imagination, and a solid sense that everything that is beautiful has a place in our everyday world. In that sense, our routine has become the ultimate ceremony, For Piccioli, “the roots, the rituals, the processes of the haute couture are an exaltation of the human being. Time is a code and a mantra, as time spent by the seamstresses to work on a dress is the most valuable aspect.”

Kim Jones’ Fendi Haute Couture show was a debut but somehow didn’t feel as such. It was his first collection for the Roman house, of course; it was also his first-ever womenswear collection and Fendi’s debut spring haute couture show. Kim Jones’s approach echoed the idea that as soon as this is over, we will all go for glamour and embellishments in gender-fluid styles. Think roaring twenties meet futurism. The resulting collection was soft, delicate, and combined traditionally delicate shapes with masculine detailing. Flowing capes with soft trouser suits, marbled dresses, and the epitome of Jones coed concept, a beaded dresses affixed with part of a tailored blazer. Modeled by a stellar cast of icons that included Kate Moss Naomi Campbell, Demy Moore, the collection was a sincere effort to deliver something that matters, yet it didn’t.

Will technological innovation then help increase couture’s relevance to an ever-changing postmodern world? Iris Van Herpen thinks so, and has a point to prove with her collection.The designer paired with Parley for the Oceans and used their proprietary fabric, made from ocean waste to make an interesting point, that sustainability can very well reach couture levels.  “Basically, there’s not a lot of reason not to use sustainable materials anymore, other than changing your mindset,” she said. In a couture sea of opulence and ostentatious waste, the idea of creating sustainable luxury that looks and feels greats, sounds surprisingly fresh, ”I really believe that couture can be the frontier for fashion, innovation, and sustainability”, noted Van Herpen, and we cannot but applaud.

For World AIDS Day, We Shop Designer Collaborations From Designers Against Aids

If there is one day you can shop, and shop guilt-free, this is World Aids Day, today. That is, if you plan to visit the Designers Against AIDS website and indulge in unique products of collaborations between the charity and all the designers you love. Non-profit organization ‘Beauty Without Irony’ has launched the international project ‘Designers Against AIDS’ (DAA) in 2004 in order to raise AIDS awareness in the international media and towards the public, using the power of contemporary pop culture (music, fashion, design, arts, sports, film, celebrities) thus establishing unique collaborations with fashion and pop idols.

Ninette Murk, the Founder and Creative Director of Beauty without Irony is the soul and voice of DAA, pursuing her dream to unify fashion and social change for years. “Never take the easy road, but the one that is shown by your heart,” she says. “We believe that fashion can really help charity causes if the intentions are authentic and the products are good and attractive, and that’s what we aim to do. Everything in the online store comes from donations or collaborations. We use 100% of all the proceeds to help fund our work raising awareness about safe sex, mental health, and tolerance- and building a better world together.” Today she handpicks her favorite collective items from the DAA online stores especially for World Aids Day-and for you.

Véronique Branquinho/Delvaux for DAA

” I know Véronique for a long time, Delvaux is a Belgian classic and condoms cases… how much more logical can you get? This is an example of a perfect synergy. These cases are quite popular in Japan, they call them ‘Kawai’- not sure they use them to carry condoms in though.”

Robert Smith (The Cure) for DAA

” Robert was one of the first people to design a print for DAA, in 2005. My then creative director, Javier Barcala, also worked for MTV Spain and he asked him for a design after an interview. Thankfully he said yes. And I love The Cure.”

Designers Against AIDS: The First Decade!

“Our first book: no explanation needed so proud of it!”

Katharine Hamnett Slogan Tee

She’s also an activist who uses fashion as the carrier of her messages (another one is Vivienne Westwood), she is very honest and outspoken and passionate a woman to admire. Plus her slogan tees are iconic.

XL Hand embroidered scarves made from vintage silk saris

” I sourced these scarves myself in India, love the old embroidery techniques, the colors, the beautiful silks (vintage saris)… They look like they’re designed by Dries Van Noten (who manufactures a lot of his special pieces in India) but these are more affordable. Best Christmas present ever! We have around 15 of them left I think.”

Anything from NACO Paris

” Another designer friend who has been supportive from the start. His designs are fun, upbeat, well thought out and he always goes his own way. I love that kind of people.”

Gucci Fest Video by Gus Van Sant with Silvia Calderoni

Gucci Fest Was Full of Good Intentions. Is That the Way to Judge It Though?

It seems fashion cannot live without fashion shows, or at least something that will replace them. A few days ago, the British Fashion Council, Florence’s Pitti Uomo trade fair, and Paris’s Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode have announced their A/W 2021 line up packed with physical or digital shows and presentations. Balenciaga, on the other hand, is set to unveil “Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow” which it’s billing as a “record-breaking video game” set in the year 2031 and featuring Demna Gvasalia’s main collection for fall 2021. Exciting but hardly considered new.

Before that though, we had witnessed a series of retakes over the traditional formats with most prominent the Gucci approach to the fashion agenda. Alessandro Michele had expressed his goal to reshape the fashion calendar in his “Notes from the Silence,” open letter two months earlier; Now, he materialized it by presenting a series of events from November 16 to 22 that included several short videos directed by no other than Gus Van Sant and prominent collaborations with other creators such as Italian performing artist Silvia Calderoni. Dubbed the Gucci Fest, the house presented an agenda full of fashion and cinema in which, in addition to the latest Gucci collection by Michele, the works of 15 talented young independent designers were also exhibited, specially selected by the creative director himself. A very promising description, indeed.

We watched it all, probably along with most fashion experts and lovers.And we also read the reviews-they were mixed. What was surprising though was that most comments focused on the intentions and not on the overall content. Anyone who wishes to revolutionize the fashion calendar and offer something new should be judged favorably but not everything new is great, innovative, or useful in the long-term. Sometimes, it’s never even new.

That brings us to the question: Overall, in fashion, is the idea that matters or the execution of the idea? How should we approach a fashion show followed by a lot of show notes or a digital experiment that comes with a written (or spoken) manifesto? In the end, does it matter what designers have to say about themselves and their work? We let the Gucci Fest controversy to fuel further a discussion on concept and final product, on good intentions and good (or bad) executions.

For Iolo Lewis Edwards, the Director of High Fashion Talk, everything is important. “I think it’s a bit of both, but I like to focus on the ideas when thinking about them, and how they are expressed. “ he notes, “Of course the way you communicate this is also important.I try not to think of high fashion in terms of what I would wear but as an artistic expression.”Still, what if, in our perception, the show manifesto corresponds to the live or digital experience? “I think if this happens it’s just a missing link somewhere. Maybe I don’t fully comprehend a reference, maybe I have missed something. Of course, you have to take into consideration the limitations there are for a designer to realize their ideas; budget, time, capability.” he concludes.

Shonagh Marshall is a curator and the founder of Denier,a digital platform with conversations on fashion’s relationship to the three pillars of sustainability: people, the planet, and profit. For her, the show notes as another object to consider, a paper-based object that accompanies the collection to the archive. “Within the show notes, you hear how the collection was intended to be perceived, as an artist statement, you are welcome to imprint your own meaning on to the collection, contextualizing it within history, and contemporary discourse. Likewise, the catwalk show and the casting leave further clues for what the designer was thinking when designing this collection. What cannot be ignored is the commercial intention, this is a space for selling.” she adds.

Designers love to speak, write manifestos, proclaim their intentions to revolutionize design, the fashion calendar and the overall experience. Then we are faced with a final product, a show, a series of digital content that says otherwise-or says nothing. At the end of the day, there is only one question to ask: what matters more, the designers’ manifestos or what we see through their work? Do we need to actually take notice of what fashion creatives have to say about their work?

“I think so” says Shonagh.”Whether we disagree with what they tell us about their work it is important in the process of analysis to take their words into account. However, I think that the industry needs more critical voices, those who have historical and socio-political knowledge to analyze designers’ contributions. I think of fashion as ideological, and therefore it plays a large and important role in the construction of society. So the language employed to talk about it cannot hinge on accepting the words the designer has offered. These words have often been crafted as a clever and potent marketing pitch, adding constructed narrative elements to the garments and rooting them within a created trend.”

For Iolo, the designer’s narrative is perhaps the only thing that matters: “Nobody else can know everything that goes on in their head, and a designer is continuously trying to communicate this. If they have to provide a few notes to help everyone understand what they are saying it is great because I think one of the best things in life is to have a greater understanding of the world.”

Mary Katranzou SS 2020 show at Temple of Poseidon, Sounio, Greece

Meet Generation G: the Modern Greek Program at the University of Michigan Introduces Greek Creativity to the World

They say the definition of true creativity is going back to your roots-only to project them further into the future. Greeks have been doing it since the beginning of history, carrying a tradition that once set them at the forefront of innovation. Modern Greek creators masterly incorporate this tradition into new perspectives in all aspects of creative arts.

Showcasing this creative buzz was exactly what the C.P. Cavafy Professorship initiative aims: to create a video series of interviews with creative people who self-identify as Greek and aim to make the world better and brighter. Those series of conversations with Greeks that have made their mark on modern creative arts aim to further showcase their work and their perception of society. The overall project is the brainchild and the joint venture of Professor Artemis Leontis and journalist VOGUE Greece editor Giota Tachtara and is set to present into the world the view and creative force of Greek creatives that make a difference.

.“Like any other exciting project, it started out as a friendly conversation over coffee and tea with Professor Artemis Leontis and the amazing team that makes the Modern Greek Program here, at the University of Michigan. We always talked about how foreigners see Greece and how they’re not really familiar with anything contemporary, so we thought we should put together a project that would focus on artists, scholars, activists, etc to introduce to the world the amazing things that this generation is doing.” says Giota Tachtara in an email interview for TheStyleTitle.

In fact, the vibrant Greek-American community in Ann Arbor has been more than supportive of the initiative; it actually felt like a communal team effort. The covid-19 pandemic did felt like a threat to the execution of the overall program, but Greeks do thrive through difficulties. “The original idea was to invite everyone here to give talks and interview them and give them a chance to interact with the brilliant students of the Modern Greek Program and the community, but the traveling restrictions and the new covid rules about gatherings in the university changed everything. Even with zoom though, I think we’ve achieved our goal to have inspiring talks, κουβέντες while exploring the challenges of this era and all the new ideas that come out of it.” comments Ms. Tachtara.

The program has launched with no other than Mary Katranzou herself- it even incorporated audience questions that allowed the revered designer to further elaborate on her work and inspiration from her Greek roots. And what an inspiration it has been! Interviewed by VOGUE Greece editor Giota Tachtara and featuring questions from students and the broader community, Katratzou had the rare opportunity to talk about her approach on textiles, shapes, and design, her appreciation of ancient Greek mythology-and that iconic SS2020 fashion show at the ancient temple of Poseidon in Sounio, Greece. Her journey from central Saint Martin’s School to fame has been the blueprint for many aspiring Greek creatives that aim to present their work to the world through innovating techniques, returning to traditional craftsmanship, and fresh strategy plans.

In the end, this is what Generation G is all about, a new generation of artists and creatives that redefine Greek culture and widen its reach. Ms. Tachtara sums it up: “G stands for Greek, Gifted, and Global. They identify as Greeks, they’re doing amazing things and they can live anywhere on the planet. It’s a generation that could truly change the world and make us feel very optimistic about the future of Greece and Greek culture.  “Amen to that. From a fellow Greek.

Learn more about the program here

Lil Miquela Instagram

Created Perfect: Virtual Influencers Are Redefining What is Real

Mugler’s artistic director Casey Cadwallader isn’t one to be afraid of a challenge. The new post COVID19 reality meant Mugler’s new film showcasing the collection starring Bella Hadid, had to be done differently and safely-from a distance. Then the idea came up: “What if we make her into an avatar?” Bella was prepped in a New York studio and styled by Haley Wollens -with Cadwallader monitoring the digitization shoot via Zoom. “Digi-Bella”, Bella’s virtual avatar for Mugler was born.

Digi -Bella isn’t the first: In an era where influencers, or as now called, public opinion leaders, dominate social media, H2R (Human 2-Robot) interaction is evolving at a rapid pace. And while we seem to be years away from actually encountering robots on the streets, social media is the place when virtual influencers are taking center space. Fictional computer-generated people, with realistic human characteristics, features, and personalities to match, are becoming our newest social media friends and influencers.

Some of the most popular virtual influencers such as Lil Miquela and Seraphine Song have already reached well over the million-follower milestone as people all over the world continue to be infatuated with their ‘lives’ Lil Miquela, perhaps the most popular of all, is an avatar operating under a strict code of directions while working with brands and advertisers creating partnerships to promote products or services. Her success has inspired more venture capitalists to invest heavily in virtual creators and progress the technology forward; it’s of no surprise that for Danika Laszuk, general director of Betaworks’ startup boot camp, the future is digital beings that actually are powered. “Avatars and robots are the future. I would very much commission a digital model for a project,” tells us No.3 Media owner Mark Barnard. “Imagine how easier it would become; tiredness and needs would be eliminated. Still, he confesses, I feel there will be no real spark, no personality.”

Still, doesn’t it all feel a bit… weird? “The boundary between science fiction and social reality is an optical illusion,” wrote Donna Haraway in her famous 1985 essay “A Cyborg Manifesto.” And while she was talking about ways to use technology to make bodies more livable and society more ethically coherent, it very much feels she is actually talking about Lil Miquela and her friends. The question remains: in a world where personas can be created specifically to be famous, how do human influencers compare? Virtual influencers are programmed and monitored, allowing the owning company total control over their actions. The issue of human influencers acting out of persona and hurting their image and followers is simply eliminated.

When some of the most popular influencers are actually digital beings powered by AI, the questions are mounting. Can a collection of pixels represent anything, while taking a job that could have gone to an underrepresented group? And what is the true representation after all? If a medium has the power to shape the truth, then we have to wonder if anything is actually true at all. Are we dreaming of an idealized future where human difference is resolved not through political struggle but through digital morphing? Are we in fact in a quest for algorithmic sublime ideals? To address those questions, we caught up with industry experts, Ollie Rankin, VR Storyteller and a VFX Supervisor at Pansensory Interactive and Christopher Travers founder of  Virtual Humans.

So are virtual influencers the future of fashion and advertising? For Ollie Rankin, they are. “I would instead say that virtual influencers are part of the future of fashion and advertising. It’ll be a while before virtual influencers are able to engage in anything more than superficial conversations, so humans will still have a place. But there are already a number of reasons it makes sense for virtual influencers to become more common. They are very low maintenance and low risk compared to humans. What brand doesn’t want an influencer that’s always awake, never asks for anything, is always on brand, has no skeletons in their closet, and zero risk of quitting or creating bad press?”

Travers is aware that the fashion and advertising industries are in need of value content. “The fashion and advertising industries as flashy industries that depend on glance value, followed by substance, to succeed. Virtual influencers provide that nuanced glance value and, when paired with a captivating story, provide the substance consumers crave out of media experiences. The ability to engage consumers strongly concretes virtual influencers as the perfect pairing for brands. Virtual influencers are the perfect tool for fashion and advertising heads to accomplish their goals.”

Virtual influencers are indeed created perfect. And yet, how does this align with the age of body positivity and acceptance? “That’s a great question and it’s too soon to answer with certainty, says Rankin. “On the one hand, virtual influencers could reinforce ideal body stereotypes and encourage body shaming. But, by being known to be artificial, they could also lead us to finally internalize as a society the fact that the public image of celebrities and influencers isn’t a realistic portrayal of human imperfection. The best case here is that it actually leads to more body positivity and acceptance.”

For Travers, the whole idea is  knowing whether an experience is real or ‘created real’. “Virtual influencers are perfectly imperfect. Every decision they make or freckle they have are preconceived for a purpose. I would say that as long as people know whether or not the experiences they consume are fictional or nonfiction, they can derive a proper judgment of their own self-worth in relation to that media or message.” Still, he showcases the dilemma: “Humans derive ideals of self-worth from the fictional storylines out of Hollywood and the non-fiction storylines out of social media influencer culture. The Kardashians built an empire blurring the lines between fiction and non, negatively morphing millions of impressionable humans’ perception of self along the way. Virtual influencers, while fake, are as capable as any human at promoting body positivity and acceptance—it all comes down to the message they try to send and the story they tell.”

And this is an important question to ask. Are AI and VR technology actually blurring the line between what is ‘real’ and what is not? Definitely, says Rankin. “And we’re only just at the beginning. Deep fake and related AI approaches to creating images and video are becoming closer and closer to reality every day. At the moment the computational demands of AI and VR are too high for current consumer hardware to create a virtual reality that is indistinguishable from the real reality. Frame rate/latency and resolution/fidelity are the barriers right now, but the hardware and software continue to improve, almost exponentially. When AI is able to create real-time photoreal spatial recreations of reality in VR, it will finally be possible to fool all the people all the time.”

Christopher Travers also believes there has to be a solid distinction of those worlds. “There’s the real world, then there’s the digital world, which is a construct existing inside of the real world. The digital world is growing thanks to the onset of stereos, televisions, phones, computers, and now smartwatches/AR glasses. These devices are literal windows to digital consumption. When we open those windows, we create a new connection between the digital world and the real world. When we power down a device, we close a window. The line between what is real and what is not existing at and only at, these windows. It’s up to you to recognize that everything you consume in the digital world is idealized and constructed, just like the digital world itself. Today, the line between what is real and what is not is simply numb.”

‘Imagine The Future’-The 35th Hyeres Festival Promotes Creativity in a Time of Crisis

We already know this is a fashion season with many changes-and the Hyeres International Festival of Fashion and Photography was no exception.  Its new corona-affected version, took place at the Villa Noailles, as usual, but with several members of the jury not physically attending it. Nonetheless, with the help of Zoom, both the president of the fashion jury Jonathan Anderson and the president of the photography jury Paolo Roversi as well as Tim Blanks, model Kaia Gerber, Tyler Mitchell were able to exchange insights on artistic freedom, fashion creativity-and vote for the winners.

Did all that influence the perspective of the jury? Unavoidably. This 35th edition of the Hyères Festival was indeed significant in many ways. It showcased the importance of digital presentation over physical events and questioned the very idea of creativity in a time of crisis. The work of the competing designers focused on hard questions and offered solutions based on traditional craftsmanship, personal experiences, and no-limits experimentation.

“What I thought was so amazing was that all the designers are incredibly honest. And the authenticity level in each designer’s work is there—and it’s in them. I quite like that it’s not a total defined thing; it’s more about experimentation. We sometimes in this industry like things to be overnight successes. We want designers to immediately start a business, and we want what’s next. What’s really nice here is that each individual holds his own court, and at the same time, they have ideas that they are willing to experiment with. I think that we should allow that. It shouldn’t be like we want you to start a business tomorrow. I think it should be an experimental moment” , president of the jury J. Anderson told Vogue.

Perhaps nothing showcased this shift in values better than Tom Van der Borght, winner of the Hyeres First Award. The 42-year-old impressed with a menswear collection of intricate, colorful garments blurred the lines between fashion and performance art. Using diverse materials such as ropes, plastic cable ties, and Swarovski crystals he presented a very personal yet very modern new version of haute couture based on craftsmanship. His win told us exactly what we seemed to forget:  the idea of the fashion designer focused on a persistent seek for experimentation only to illustrate a very personal point of view. In his view, there is nothing more modern than being unique.

Uniqueness perhaps is the message from Hyeres and the one that could save this season. The industry needs to remember it’s not youth per se that will save the world, is talent, experimentation, and perseverance.  A clear point of view- and a dream, this is the luxury of the future. “We need to find a new definition of luxury. We are so used in classic luxury materials such as gold or leather –but I love using materials others don’t find interesting.”  Tom Van der Borght told AFP. And we couldn’t agree more.

Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons Co-design the Uniform of a New Generation

Fashion collaborations are usually met with excitement and expectations from both sides. Still, no else can be compared to the buzz created by Raf Simons’s and Miuccia Prada’s first co-designed collection moments after its announcement. The coronavirus pandemic made their dialogue a mostly remote one-but as the Prada show proved yesterday, a fruitful one whatsoever.

The much-expected show began in a runway overhung with camera rigs and screens displaying each model’s name while walking the runway. This concept of exploring the relationship between humans and technology as shaped by current reality is a pivotal part of the collection and a theme that runs through it. This “dialogue”, as the designers stated in the show notes, was “the first example of myriad possibilities” based on an “a fundamental examination of the meaning of Prada”. The collection indeed was a hybrid of the two creators’ best qualities, a dive into their best moments applied into a distilled version of what is essential. Some might say a new everyday uniform for out turbulent times.

In fact, the pair spent recent months working on the importance of a uniform –something to feel well in it-and think. They also discussed the nature of clothes that make us want to wear the most. “The thing I’ve talked most about with Miuccia over these past months is uniforms. True, metaphorical ones.” said Simons. “It’s something in which you feel good, in which you can express what you want to express without it being a season-specific fashion item,” he noted.

The show opened up with what can be seen as their first take in the idea of a Prada ‘uniform’; 90s inspired trousers and a sleeveless, tunic-length tee worn with sling backs in strong, contrasting colors. One could not avoid noting the supersized, almost space-like Prada logo on all T-shirts, in case you forgot we are talking about the perfect fashion uniform, an elevated take on the leisurewear we all came up wearing daily during quarantine. The next silhouettes were a nod to both Simons’ last shows at Jil Sander as well as Prada’s take on minimalism in the 90s; there were jumpers worn with belted, full pleated skirts, roomy coats clutched a-la Miuccia, and slim-fit trousers worn with tunics. Then, there was the occasional Raf touch: the hole jumpers, the prints on skirts, the tailoring of the anoraks.

In a quote provided by the house for Vogue, Miuccia explained further the thinking behind the collection: “In a time of incredible complexity: What matters? What is meaningful? That is a question we asked ourselves. We wanted to create something that makes sense to people, something that is useful. Everything we do should allow people to live better.” In another provided quote, Simons elaborated: “The show is about emphasizing humanity. It is about women, and everything around them supports them, showcases their characters.”

Sometimes new things come up through the unification of tried and trusted qualities. This was a collection that questioned the very idea of newness for the sake of it. For both creators, the present is a direct result of the past-of all the things we love and define us. In that sense, it was successful-and humane.

New York Fashion Week Was All about Individuality, Not Fashion

There two ways to react to an almost post-apocalyptic reality: to address it or to ignore it altogether while diving in frenzied escapism. For most New York Fashion Week designers, the idea of setting trends appeared less and less enticing-instead they opted to celebrate individuality and self-acceptance. A good cause, indeed. From luxury pajamas to re-invented classics, this stripping back to fashion basics had a lot to do with manifestos-but nothing with design.

Optimism aside, New York Fashion Week has been having a serious identity crisis even before the pandemic. This season, one with no buyers and no influencers, street style stars or international press, most of America’s big names saved power for later. The Row, Proenza Schouler, Ralph Lauren were absent while the typically flamboyant Tom Ford show was replaced by a series of images showcasing the designer’s offering for the season. Ten new names made their debut but did very little to overturn the feeling that there was something seriously lacking-be it emotion, inspiration, or simply, design.

In fact, all the best moments were those that fashion innovation gave way to fierce manifestos on individuality and uniqueness. For the resurrected Imitation of Christ, Tara Subkoff enlisted a group of LA-based teenage female skateboarders to create a film showcasing their bad-ass confidence and skils. Initially, a “political art project disguised as a ‘fashion house’”  the brand’s team staged a show in L.A. and one in New York where they screened the collection video unexpectedly accompanied by opera hits. It was nothing new but was refreshing, full of youthful energy, and fitting for a brand that started off with tremendous success 20 years ago.

Maisie Schloss, who launched her brand, Maisie Wilen, last year, had her own statement to make. Schloss started as a designer at Yeezy and knows one thing or two about unexpected materials and on-trend design. For her collection, she focused on creative ‘weirdness’ and the idea of seeing clothes through screens.The designer didnt shy away from the back her work is almost made to be Instagrammed, in fact, she embraced its two-dimensional qualities by using strong trompe l’oeil techniques.

Yet, it was Private Policy’s collection that summarized the New York season. The genderless streetwear label used CFDA’s new digital platform Runway 360, to present their Spring 2021 collection called “Searching for Aphrodite.” For designers Haoran Li and Siying Qu, Aphrodite is a notion of beauty that goes far beyond the stereotypical approaches, a call for inclusion and representation that is characteristic to the brand since its birth. Their many Afrodites included vitiligo Calvin Klein star Yvesmark Chery, amputee musician Marsha Elle and Dominique Castelano, who dedicated her inclusion to “all the hot queer Asians,”. As in most New York Fashion Week cases, the message was indeed powerful, the clothes came second best. Or as Tom Ford best-summarized it “the last thing I want to see is serious clothes”. Well, you got it.