The High Street is taking Electro styles and cleaning them up for mass market, and it’s working. Sloany girls and South London boys are raving about the graphic printed tops and better basics at Top Shop, which change weekly and have friends cooing, “Is that Diesel, is that Chloe?” Watch out H&M!
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It’s party time in London. Electro is the hot music; the drug crazy nightlife is over-the-top; and clothes are a mishmash of toxic colors and wacky prints wrapped in a do-as-I-please attitude. The result?
Where’s the party?
The Matrix created a new style language down to the sunglasses. Each character’s eyewear enhanced their personal style. Trinity’s aviators matched her cool aura, Morpheus’s bridge clip lenses fit his mystical spirit, and Neo’s wraparound frames enhanced his stature. Even the Agents’ menacing disposition was crystallized by their thin, rectangular shades. The man behind the glasses that elevated the cool quotient of The Matrix is Richard Walker of Blinde Design Project. His fans include Madonna and Jack Nicholson, who both wear a one-of-a-kind prototype. Coinciding with The Matrix Reloaded premiere, Blinde Design’s Matrix collection entered Barneys NY, Saks, and high-end optical stores around the world. Most of the styles are already on back order until September.
Poised for swift global domination on summer sandal feet everywhere, Havaianas are quickly making tracks into every echelon of society. Created in 1962 and inspired by Japanese zori sandals, these 100% rubber flip-flops are quickly becoming a favorite among celebs like Kate Moss and Jade Jagger and are a standard among the DJ set-they even stole the spotlight from more expensive baubles in this year’s Oscar goodie bag. Havaianas have become so ubiquitous that upscale brands like Sigerson Morrison have been inspired (Havaianas claims Sigerson took proprietary detailing to inspire their latest collection of flip flops-with-a-heel, and now the lawyers are sorting it out). What’s the secret?
Nicole Kidman is the toast of Hollywood style and a fashion icon, which may explain the Aussie style buzz across Manhattan these days. Australian’s hottest designers are making a mark on New York and injecting the city’s stagnate retail market with a needed dose of down under therapy that goes beyond the hip Sass & Bide jeans and sexy Collette Dinnigan dresses. In search of newness and a prick of the exotic, boutiques in Manhattan are looking in the land where men plunder for the next crop of designer talent.
To discover the future of fashion, last month a flock of fashionistas descended on Hyeres in the south of France for the annual “Festival international des Arts de la Mode.” The influential show is responsible for launching venerated talents such as Viktor and Rolf, Alexandre Matthieu and Gaspard Yurkievich and now 1999′s first prize winner of the event,
New Swedish label Curious Colour rebels against conventional fashion antics. The designer duo and founders, Mathilda Tham and Martina Norell, turned their backs on practical aspects of the industry like seasonal collections and elitist attitudes. The Curious Colour way of doing things is far more challenging and refreshingly abstract, where collections are replaced by “issues,” each exploring a certain theme, “delivered when we have something to say,” says Tham. “An issue can consist of a large range of clothes, products and concepts, or just a few t-shirts or a technology project. The issue system ensures short lead times, constant news value, high flexibility and mobility.” Curious Colour’s first issue, “the party is open,” is based on openness and the importance of having fun. And the clothes exudes just that; cute separates all intended to be kept for a long time, as opposed to be tucked away come next season.
One night last winter, rapper Eve stepped out in a pair of Manolo Blahnik Timberlands. Soon after, Jennifer Lopez strutted through her “Jenny From the Block” video in the hot hybrid boot followed by Destiny’s Child Beyonce Knowles rocking them in the “Bonnie & Clyde” video with Jay-Z. The limited edition re-launched boot from a decade ago quickly sold out and second-rate copies began to pop up in shoe stores throughout Manhattan. The “tims” are done for another decade but there are some other choice footwear inspired by dressed down favorites to replace it.
Unassuming knits, leather bombers and paired down denim targeting low-key fashion boys keep the eponymous house of Martin Margiela going. But from the inception of the ellusive Belgian designer’s label, his image has been marked by the break-apart, put-back-together styles of deconstructed clothing. For fall, he showed tuxedo tops morphing into satin skirts; sleeves turned inside out, exposed lining and patchwork knits bunch together to sublime effects. And not since the intellectual fashion statement years of the mid-nineties has Margiela’s signature aesthetic been so pertinent. Fashion is embarking on one of its thinking periods and the heady potion of deconstruction is leading the way.
Under Cover, the label from Japanese designer Jun Takahashi is providing Paris a whiff of the underground, but in London where edgy designer talent seems to blossom with the season, the buzz is out on Johnathan Saunders. Retro prints gone future and a precise skill for working slim and voluminous silhouettes together is winning Saunders quick friends while he simultaneously defines a rather desirable blend in fashion right now.
With all the hot home design items out there, cocooning shows no signs of letting up as the fashionable trend for the 21st century. Staying at home is especially good if your spread is Capellini loaded, Frette counts the threads in the sheets and Ozone, the new hot Paris-based lighting architects, customizes the lighting. Working from a modest Marais storefront, design team Eric Jahnke and Etienne Gounot are quietly and charmingly (they happen to be both easy on the eyes) securing some prime business with bold faced names across Europe for home and commercial properties. Their brand of geometrically cut lighting is right on target for any room with walls.
The denim wave shows absolutely no signs of abating. From Tommy Hilfiger’s replenishable on call service (making jeans available to retail stores globally, 24/7) to the ubiquitous Earl and Seven jeans seen on every downtown rear in Manhattan.
Ethopian model Liya Kedebe‘s unprecedented contract for Estee Lauder isn’t indicative of multi-culturalism on the catwalk but it’s positively in step with the avalanche of fashion magazines finally depicting the lifestyle of people of color. And it’s not all about hip hop culture.
Is it possible to appreciate beauty and still be cool? That’s the essential question Antwerp-based Ninette Murk poses through her project, Beauty Without Irony. Murk, a hipster fashion journalist herself, is urging those of the fashion world and elsewhere to embrace their love of beautiful things that aren’t necessarily the coolest on the block. Claiming that “romantic sunsets and newborn puppies have a certain appeal, they’re not clichés for nothing, right?” Murk urges us all to drop gloss and embrace imperfection (do I hear a little Wabi-sabi?
It’s time to bust out the must-haves for spring. Step into those satin combat trousers, tropical printed skirts, metallic pumps and pick up a just-delivered (across Europe and Asia) Xelibri mobile phone. Mimicking designer collection schedule, Xelibri is parading onto the fashion calendar, not only showing new models every spring/summer, fall/winter seasons the phones are made to hang onto clothing or dangle from the neck and produced in a wide variety of tangy Pantone colors to match any look. To seal the phone-as-fashion category, they’re sold, like clothes, at fashion retailers and department stores.
The Apartment, owned by Christof and Kristin Rueker and located in the Mitte district is the foundation of a new stylish Berlin. The store is a fierce mix of “it” and designer fashion labels that capture the madcap style and lack of clear marketing and merchandising rules in this once-torn city. There’s a trendier and more unexpected mix of designers here than you’d find at the resident designer outpost Quartier 206.
The New York juggernaut for the next generation of design talent has reached a fever pitch in recent seasons. Characters from Lars Nilsson, formerly creative director at Bill Blass to Heatherette, have been touted as the next wave of talent, but a recent viewing of an off fashion week, (off all conventional fashion calendar scheduling for that matter) unveiled an underreported-on, meta-gifted star waiting in the wings. The name is Shelly Steffee. A designer of the seasoned variety, Steffee has held senior design posts at a variety of American fashion companies.
French home girls have been donning a curious mix of dark tights with their Puma flats on the streets of Paris for some time now. On the runways for fall, a barrage of covered leg looks (especially with the season’s mini) is turning the bare-leg-as-cool-quotient on its head. A connection between the two is arguable but the point is women are working with the leg again and not just with lace up to the knee Ernesto Esposito gladiator pumps.