In the design-led arts, the search for beauty unfolds as a constant dialogue between the creator, the created and the receiver.
By RADHINA ALMEIDA COUTINHO
Photography LUKE GILFORD & ERICK FAULKNER
In the world of fashion, architecture, spatial engineering, jewelry and textile design, photography, painting or sculpture, the creation of beauty hovers between one hailed as a worthy pursuit or a fool’s chase of a mercurial idea.
Defining beauty is elusive, but it has never stopped people from trying. The classical ideals of beauty have often been celebrated, but they’ve been just as regularly rejected by proponents of the avant-garde and other counter culture movements through the ages. In the 21st century, the pursuit of beauty has truly evolved into the ultimate expression of individualism. But what does this mean to artists expressing their vision through their work? And what does it mean for those who need to strike that delicate balance between broad appeal and the allure of what speaks specifically to each person?
MATCHESFASHION.COM’S new retail, broadcast and experiential hub, 5 Carlos Place, which opened late last year and is set in an elegant Queen Anne-style townhouse in Mayfair, aims to encapsulate those myriads of expressions under one roof.
Chief Executive Officer of MATCHESFASHION.COM Ulric Jerome, Peter and Philip Joseph, Creative Directors of architectural and interior design firm P Joseph, Nick Hornby, the artist behind the extruded hanging sculpture of Michelangelo’s David suspended within the house’s central stairwell, and Alan Crocetti, whose unconventional unisex jewelry collection is but one example of the individualistic designs one might find at 5 Carlos Place, share their musings on the concepts of beauty and masculinity and their views on sensory expression within an evolving retail experience.
Fashion, architecture, sculpture and art are all disciplines that revolve in some way around how different individuals express and perceive beauty. What makes something beautiful to you?
JEROME: Beauty is something that comes from the right place. Something that is genuine and with passion. And I think ultimately it has to trigger curiosity and conversation.
CROCETTI: There’s a lot of conflict in the word ‘beauty’ alone. I often find beauty in the unconventional, maybe even in things defined as ‘ugly’. However, I also tend to find ugliness in what is conventionally defined as beautiful. I feel like it’s important to pay attention to how things move you in a way.
JOSEPH: I find beauty in balance, proportion, harmony – in a space or an object or image, the combination of materials, forms, elements in perfect balance. Nothing superfluous and all coming together to create a wonderful feeling of rightness and timelessness.
HORNBY: It so depends on context – a line, a pause, a shape, an idea. But I think beauty is an incredibly controversial idea. The Greeks were obsessed with it, and it was entangled with goodness, but in the last 100 years, traditional beauty was turned on its head - rejected and problematized, along with ideals, subjectivity and absolutes.
In your opinion, what qualities make a piece of clothing, a physical space or a sculpture masculine?
HORNBY: I think masculinity shifts in meaning in different periods and different places. Heracles, 18th century aristocrats with wigs and makeup, The Dandy, Superman, RuPaul…today the idea of gender is less binary.
JOSEPH: I think one person’s perception of a feeling of masculinity and what that means to them is very different to another, regardless of gender. I think today, thankfully, gender stereotypes and codes are being swept away and we don’t have to place these limits on creativity.
CROCETTI: We have always been fed ideas of masculinity and femininity from birth, so it’s imbedded in our brains from a young age. I questioned it a lot in my teen years. The whole idea of masculinity being related to strength and femininity to fragility is a patriarchal ideology that unfortunately has lasted for far too long… so I don’t really have an answer to this question.
Do you think the concept of beauty - and masculine beauty in particular - has become more fluid over the years?
JEROME: The real question is ‘what is beauty?’ We actually never mention beauty in our business. We talk about taste, lifestyle, the aesthetic of certain trends but we leave beauty – and the definition of it – to the interpretation of the individual. Personally, I think that we all interpret and define gender in our own way.
CROCETTI: Yes, there’s still a lot of room for growth but I’m happy to see people getting more and more unattached to these past historical values.
5 Carlos Place encapsulates that all important tangible and sensory aspect of luxury fashion and lifestyle experience. How big a role does the sensory aspect play in the perception of beauty, especially in the era of digitization and virtual reality?
JOSEPH: At 5 Carlos Place, we wanted to design the entire experience to feel more like being in someone’s home than a store. We wanted all necessary conventional ‘store’ components to recess into the background to allow the curated contents and pieces such as furniture, artwork, textiles or plants to come to the fore. We wanted to create a space that felt great to be in first and foremost – the focus is shifted and the space feels less transactional, more experiential and curated.
JEROME: We have always tried to emotionally connect with our audience so the balance of physical and digital is very much part of our foundations. Whether this is via fashion shoots, video content, a podcast…all of these enhance the personal approach. The way we try to trigger the sensory aspect is through storytelling, and the beauty for us isn’t about one item or moment but about the story. That’s beauty for us – building a narrative around our products, projects and business.
HORNBY: Yes, I agree - Carlos place is a wonderfully tactile experience – the floor, the banisters, the transparency surfaces. The sensory – as you call it – plays a critical role in my perception: how a viewer empathizes with an object…via its size, material, surface. For example, Brancusi’s Bird in Space – an uncanny object – where the surface has been smoothed to a mirror. A sculpture is entrenched with narratives, a polished surface tells a different story to a rough construction.
How do you seek to create a sensory reaction to your work? Whether it is creating a digital shopping platform or a bricks and mortar space, a sculpture, a piece of jewelry or an art installation?
HORNBY: Your relationship to a sculpture is always in comparison to your own body. When you look at a smooth door handle, you know how it will feel, and what it means…the same is true with a sculpture, you empathize with how it fits against the surface of your body.
JEROME: We are all about sensory reaction. We try to bring exclusive content and events and products, but we want to show it to the world in a very inclusive way which means that the first sensory reaction is that it should be participative and that’s how fashion should be.
CROCETTI: I love working with different artists and medias because my brand is not just a product. It has an identity and a world surrounding it. I have worked with musicians, sculptors, digital artists, set designers and so on. It also makes so much sense to me the idea of taking my pieces out of my own context and integrating with someone else’s. The possibilities are endless and the appeal is magnetic.
JOSEPH: We find we can elicit an emotional connection to our work when we have a strong story to tell. We are always interested to uncover the story of the place and how that place has come to be. Whether that be a building, a street, a neighborhood…we then work on the narrative surrounding the people who will be there. Who are they? How would he or she experience this space? What music do they listen to? What art do they collect? What would they want to feel under their feet?
I believe that the well-designed sensory experience is very much driven by a sensitivity or awareness of who he or she is.
A lot of contemporary art, fashion, photography and architecture re-imagines classical concepts or ideals of beauty from previous eras. Do you think the concept of beauty remains static at its core?
JEROME: We live in a constant cycle and things always come back. Nothing is static. What is the norm today may not be tomorrow and beauty reflects life. The interpretation is different from one individual to another and the nuances change as time does.
HORNBY: Artists often look back in time to various past eras and some historic ideas can seem to transcend their time of creation. We always experience artworks in the present. We are naked to the present.
CROCETTI: Beauty evolves with the ephemerality of life. We are now more than ever able to acknowledge the beauty of ageing, the beauty of diverse forms and deformities. So in this case, it’s a wider understanding of what beauty entails. It transcends acceptance, because it’s not about accepting that people are different but it’s about celebrating everyone’s individuality and that also promotes integration.
Do you think men have dominated the creation of ideals of beauty?
CROCETTI: 100%. The whole idea regarding the aesthetics surrounding gender identity where women are regarded as vulnerable and their only power is linked to sensuality came from men to silence women and make them submissive.
JEROME: I think to say that would also mean that men have dominated the appreciation of beauty and that is not the case. Aesthetic beauty is a by-product of the time, the culture, the community and even the politics of the moment and none of this exists as one gender.
JOSEPH: Of course, across the world ideals of beauty vary hugely and I don’t think men have dominated their creation. Rather I think they are born out of an expression of what individuals, communities, cultures consider at that moment in time to be beautiful.
Do you think men and women perceive beauty in different ways? Is this something you think about when you work and does it influence your creative output?
JEROME: I’ve always felt that beauty is perceived differently by everyone. It’s not down to gender. It’s in the eye and in the senses and in the context of your experience. In terms of our output at MATCHESFASHION.COM we work incredibly collaboratively across teams so the end product whether a shoot, an event or a special collection is not just the result of a single vision.
JOSEPH: In terms of our output at P Joseph as Design Architects we always try to avoid perpetuating gender stereotypes and rather have an unencumbered freedom of expression in the pursuit of beauty which is blind to gender.
CROCETTI: I don’t think men and women perceive beauty in different ways. Individuals do. That’s the subjectivity and the beauty of beauty. It never influenced my work because I don’t design with the intent to appeal to a certain demographic and I design pieces that come from a place that is completely unrelatable to gender norms. My brand is true to who I am as a person and as a designer, for everyone who identifies and appreciates them regardless of gender, sexuality, belief or race.
HORNBY: I think every human perceives the world in different ways. I don’t think about the gender of my audience - only that each person brings their own biography with them - which I can’t control… and that’s great! It’s incredibly enriching and this is where the work is made… in each person’s interpretation.
Sébastien Meunier’s restrained yet edgy designs are leading a quiet revolution to push the boundaries of individual expression without going over the edge.
By HASSAN AL-SALEH
Photography MATTEO CARCELLI
Power is silence. It may sound like an oxymoron, but not for French fashion designer Sébastien Meunier. For the Creative Director of cult Belgian brand Ann Demeulemeester, his silence is steeped in symbolism, and hypnotically speaks volumes on the contemporary yearning for romantic androgyny and poetic nostalgia.
In 2014, Meunier took over the reigns from the label’s namesake founder Ann Demeulemeester – one of the iconic “Antwerp Six” – who founded the brand in 1985 and carved her own niche and remained fiercely independent with her punk rock, romantic spirit. Imbued with emotion and personal purity, today Meunier continues the exploration of humanity’s soul, allowing its beauty to authoritatively speak the transcendent language of time and eternity.
“Romanticism is something that comes from centuries and millennia and it has always shown the softness of humanity. A kind of poetry that expresses a warm, precious and educated life. At the end, it’s about love. I would like people to live together with the freedom of being who and what they are.”
Photography MARIE SCHULLER
Styling CHRISTOPHER MAUL
Kim Jones’ deft synthesis of insouciant streetwear and couture craftsmanship is redefining what it means to be a man today and tomorrow.
By LAURA BOLT
Photography SOPHIE CARRE
Few menswear designers these days generate quite as much attention and critical acclaim as Dior’s Kim Jones. At just 39 years old, Jones has already achieved icon status thanks to a visionary style that’s redefining masculinity and what it means for couture fashion to hit the street. He is bringing Dior into the future with bold innovation and quiet confidence, while paying homage to its illustrious past.
Before taking the helm at Dior, Jones earned his stripes at luxury brands like Dunhill and Alexander McQueen. It was through his tenure running menswear at Louis Vuitton, however, that he truly came into his own, infusing the heritage brand with a dose of streetwear cool.
“‘Streetwear is sometimes used as a dirty word”, he has said, “but these things are better made than lots of designer stuff.”
Jones’ artful combination of street style and high fashion has created a moment in men’s fashion that is impossible to ignore. In his world, boundaries seem to blur, with feminine florals meeting masculine tailoring, and insouciant comic book-inspired prints mingling with futuristic metallics. Looking at Jones’ work, it’s easy to tell that his appreciation for skatewear runs deep, but his appreciation for beauty runs deeper.
Growing up, Jones had something of a magpie mentality which continues to inform his work at Dior today. He collects everything from toys to art to avant-garde club clothes from the 1970s, worn by underground luminaries like Leigh Bowery. “Everything you have in life passes through you,” he said. “ You’re only here for a short amount of time.”
This appreciation for the past and how it influences the future makes Jones the perfect poster boy to reflect a generation of men who have all knowledge at their fingertips, a generation that has every past trend available to them to mash up and reimagine. “That excites me, that mix of classic and youth culture. I’ll take something old, take something new, mix it together and see what you get.”
It has become clear that what you get is something incredibly special. Jones’ vision for Dior is something that is informed by the classic sophistication of the past, imbued with bold, graphic, and playful touches of a man who has spent decades collecting and came of age in the era where street style reigns supreme. The mélange of influences Jones has brought to the brand have manifested as a kaleidoscope of old meets new, from sharp-cut suits created using an innovated “metalized” technique that had never beforebeen used on fabric, to graphic oversized bumblebee icons that nod to Dior’s classic logo, and bright florals.
Jones has acknowledged that he uses womenswear as an inspiration for his work at Dior, “We’re looking at women’s wear references, but you pull those forward and they reflect masculine influences...The rest is about tailoring, but you do need to have that element that lifts you up, away from your competitors. What makes Dior Dior is that it’s a couture house.”
With so much attention and money in fast fashion, designers who put in the work are quietly revolutionary, providing a new way of appreciating the art of fabrication and what it means to take pride in your clothes. The conversation about the art of construction in menswear is no longer relegated to discussions about Saville Row, but has been expanded into the street. For Jones, “the skills of artisans working in the Dior atelier are a source of my energy. I’m always thinking of the atelier and the craftspeople. And of course, we’re closely connected with factories where items are also produced, but the work of the craftspeople is indeed extraordinary.”
One other notable aspect of Jones’ work, and the one that’s most reminiscent of renowned womenswear couture, is how he expands the idea of fashion into the expression of an art form.
It’s an old trope that high fashion is wearable, moveable art, but menswear has traditionally been bound by a sense of formality or functionality. Jones, however, takes inspiration from Dior’s rich history in the art world. Christian Dior himself “was a gallerist who worked with Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst and lots of artists who were famous while alive. I wanted to do that for the digital generation,” he said.
Jones, who studied photography at Camberwell College of Arts in London before attending Central Saint Martins for menswear design, also works with contemporary artists to both inspire and capture the zeitgeist in his designs. At Dior, he has collaborated with punk provocateur Raymond Pettibon, an illustrator who has worked with bands like Black Flag and Sonic Youth. Emblazoned on shirts, jackets, and beaded vests, the juxtaposition of Pettibon’s graphic novel-style illustrations create a sense of brash romanticism that is typical of Jones’ work. Before Pettibon, Jones worked with street artist KAWS and futuristic illustrator Hajime Sorayama. The carefully curated work that Jones does feels born not just of respect, but a genuine sense of almost adolescent fandom and enthusiasm. As a designer, he has wisely taken advantage the modern culture of collaboration, but infused it with Dior’s history of artistic exploration.
Jones’ work at Dior has made him a trailblazer in a moment when men’s fashion is being taken more seriously than ever. The blend of high technique and streetwear inspiration both elevates and democratizes fashion for men, proving that there is art to be made out of the shifting male identity. It points to a philosophy of abiding respect for tradition and craftsmanship, but with an eye that brings couture out of the ivory tower.
In the world of fashion, accessible is rarely synonymous with desirable but Alexandre Mattiussi’s AMI is breaking the mold.
By JON ROTH
You know those people you see on the street: talking together under the eaves of apartment entrances, sprawled across cafe chairs, barreling off on bicycles toward their next appointment. They are young, and beautifully dressed, but they’re never trying too hard. Their knit caps are tilted just so, their jackets are oversized, their pants are loose, tapered, and perfectly cropped. They don’t radiate the buffed and highlighted polish of Instagram influencers. They don’t have the edgy, alien gawkiness of most runway models. They’re just kids with an ineffable, easy-going style you can’t quite reproduce. Many of them are wearing AMI.
That’s the fashion house founded by Alexandre Mattiussi- the Normandy native who’s managed to distill the unstudied cool of Parisian style into an export that’s adored the world over. Those kids in the cafes are his tribe - muses that inform his designs because in many ways he is one of them: a handsome 39 year old man with an unpretentious attitude, an apartment in the buzzy Pigalle district and a trademark red knit woolen cap. He speaks with the straightforward approach of a merchant. He is here to make clothes for you to wear, not to incite a fashion revolution. And because of that, he’s become something of a oracle all the same.
To look at his resume, you wouldn’t expect Mattiussi to design for the everyman. At 24, he was already working at Dior - creating looks for the storied house’s 30 Avenue Montaigne line, a sedate counterpart to the razor-thin suits Hedi Slimane was turning out at the time. After that, he moved on to Givenchy, another house with a long history and a luxury cache. Then it was to Marc Jacobs - more accessible, but still wrapped up in a jet-set lifestyle that traded on glamour, wealth, and exclusivity. It was there that Mattiussi had his own personal revelation. He was designing a sweater that he wouldn’t be able to afford himself, and that felt wrong to him. He didn’t just shrug and keep sketching. He decided to try something new.
Mattiussi decided to make clothes for everyone. He founded AMI (the name combines his initials, but also means ‘friend’ in French) based on a simple proposition: that men, by and large, don’t yearn for edgy, conceptual fashion. They want handsome clothes that are cut beautifully and don’t necessarily raise eyebrows. He took his inspiration from those cool kids he’d pass on the street, and he turned out a line based in beautiful-but-unpretentious overcoats, easygoing knits, and roomy trousers and denim. He cast his models from the sidewalk, and he adjusted his looks to fit their personal style. The fashion world, perhaps fatigued with menswear designers that reliably made too much of too little, responded to Mattiussi’s work with near-unanimous acclaim.
Reviewers have described the clothes as “artfully thrown-together” and “masculine,” “comfy” but also rooted in a “progressive classicism.” And all along, AMI has maintained price points that make it possible for his inspiration - those fast-talking, easy-going, chic-but-friendly kids - to actually afford his pieces. Eight years since the founding of AMI, Mattiussi’s label is only growing stronger.
Inspired by the droves of women who entered his stores to purchase menswear, last year he decided to introduce AMI’s “menswear for women” concept - a line of clothing that’s firmly rooted in the core men’s line but adjusted ever-so-slightly to fit the shapes and sensibilities of women. If there is a groundswell now toward familiar, comfortable, easy dressing, then Mattiussi is certainly at the forefront. He has been for years. He recognizes that beautiful clothing doesn’t have to be weird, or challenging, or rarefied. He knows it can be found in the everyday, subtly improved.
Who is the man you design clothes for? What is his relationship to his clothes?
AMI offers everyday menswear that can be worn by all types of guys. The AMI guy is myself, my friend, the guy I see walking in the street. I’m proud of the fact that the end customers are from a very broad age bracket. His relationship to his clothes is neither intellectual nor too conceptual.
We often think of ‘beauty’ as something that’s rare. Can beauty be for everyone?
Beauty for me is anything that is awe-inspiring. It can be rare insomuch that it can be very commonplace. Beauty in nature being an example of that. Ironically, I think a platform like Instagram has shown us that you can find beauty in even the most mundane of objects.
I think of the AMI man as being very self-aware and comfortable in his own skin. Whether he frames that as beauty or not is secondary to this sense of confidence.
What to you is the mark of beautiful dressing?
Something that is elegant and casual at the same time in which the person feels at ease.
Your clothes are more wearable than they are ‘conceptual’ but are there ways in which you stretch men’s perceptions of what they could wear?
The AMI wardrobe plays on the tension between timeless classics and more fashionable, seasonal pieces. We like to challenge the guy who walks into the boutique to find a T-shirt or sweatshirt, by proposing him our carrot-fit pants or an oversized jacket. Getting people outside their comfort zone is the challenge but once they are there, they tend to like it! So, if we are stretching perceptions, it’s at a very comfortable pace, one step at a time.
You’re a native of Normandy. Is there a particular style native to that region? Has it influenced your designs?
Our Spring-Summer 2019 collection, currently in store, is inspired by Normandy. I felt like taking a pause from Paris; going back to my roots for some fresh air. There is so much going on in fashion, so much noise. I wanted to do something more poised, quieter, considered. The show was set in the enormous field of wheat; it had a really poetic feel about it.
Dressing like a ‘cool Parisian guy’ has become a goal for men across the world. What is it about Parisian style that men find so appealing?
I am constantly inspired by Paris so I’m naturally influenced by its streets, its people and its energy. I think people find Parisian style so appealing because it’s so honest and genuine, and never forced or exaggerated. There is a nonchalance, or coolness without the sense of trying too hard.
What governs your women’s designs? Is it truly menswear for women?
My menswear for women designs are a declination of men’s looks, adapted and adjusted with female clientele in mind. It’s really about researching the structure of the garment, the silhouette. Keeping that AMI ‘easiness’ that translates into a relaxed yet elegant silhouette on a woman.
Why is it that we find men’s clothing on a woman so appealing?
For me, the strength of seeing a woman wearing menswear is in the attitude that comes from men’s clothes. I also think that womenswear is getting more comfortable and relaxed too: sneakers, backpacks, and a movement towards less restrictive ready-to-wear means that the men’s market is now an on-trend option for women too.
Who, to you, is the epitome of male beauty? Female beauty?
I find beauty in every single person. It’s hard for me to name one person as more ‘beautiful’ than another.
What to you is a beautiful work of art?
Art for me is something that stirs emotion, incites a reaction. A beautiful work? Something that lifts me.
If you were not a designer, what would you be doing?
I’d be dancing. I started dancing at a very young age but stopped at around 14 after an audition at Opéra de Palais Garnier, when I realized that type of competitive environment wasn’t for me. But the love of spectacle and the theatrical ambiance rubbed off on me. Particularly the costumes and set design. Fashion for me was a natural extension of that world.
What was the most important thing you learned at the houses where you worked in the past?
The importance of quality and longevity of a garment. Something that is not only beautiful, but that is constructed to last. But I also learnt the importance with connecting with what you are designing – it needs to be relevant to you. If it’s something too detached from your own reality, for me it loses purpose.
In your opinion, how has fashion changed our understanding of beauty and masculinity?
It’s hard to say whether fashion is a cause or a result, but there are definitely boundaries being broken down between men’s and women’s fashion so that beauty is becoming more of a gender-neutral concept.
What’s one thing you’ve done in the past year to make your life better?
I’ve been listening to my intuition more.
What’s something you think we should all do to make the world more beautiful?
Be grateful for what we have.
Photography MARIUS W. HANSEN
Set Design THOMAS BIRD
Photography EMMA DALZELL-KHAN
Creative Direction JORDAN ROBSON
Styling LOUISE FORD
For artist and photographer Mustafa Sabbagh, real beauty stands witness to personal stories - it touches, stings and cuts but does not reassure.
By RADHINA ALMEIDA COUTINHO
Photography MUSTAFA SABBAGH
Uncomfortable. There’s no other way to describe a photograph by Mustafa Sabbagh. No matter how exquisite the body in the image, it’s not quite beauty that draws your eye. It’s a visual oxymoron – classical poses placed cheek by jowl with fetishist symbols, perfectly sculptured muscles engulfed by a limp teddy bear suit or vulnerable bodies constrained in corsets and gimp masks.
For an artist born in Amman, Jordan – in a region steeped in a tradition of non-objectification of the human body in art and ornamentation – Sabbagh’s eye seems permanently drawn towards the human form.
“The body is not an object but a message; making each body a story – sometimes, even an erotic one – gives us the chance to become a masterpiece ourselves,” says Sabbagh. “The body is a democratic act, bearer of personal stories. Denying his imperfection is like erasing his past.”
Mustafa Sabbagh’s preoccupation with the human body has led his images to be considered among the 70 most beautiful photography portraits of all time, as immortalized in the publication Faces - curated by renowned photography historian Peter Weiermair.
His artworks are included in several sold-out monographs, such as About Skin acquired by the permanent book collection of London’s Tate Gallery and a place at the Musee de L’Elysee, a veritable temple of photography. Sabbagh’s work is showcased in several permanent private and public collections in Italy and around the world - including the historical Farnesina Art Collection, the Orestiadi Foundation Collection and as part of the permanent contemporary art collection of MAXXI – The National Museum of XXI Century Arts in Rome. A former assistant of Richard Avedon, teacher at the Central St. Martin College of Art in London and considered by many to be a polymath of fashion photography, Sabbagh’s own distinctive style and prolific body of work has unsurprisingly earned him a well-deserved place among the 100 most influential photographers in the world and one of the top 40 most important nude portraitists of our time.
Sabbagh may have made his name as a fashion photographer, but he says that he is no longer interested in what a person wears but why they wear it. “The naked body tells its story, it has few veils, it is less hypocritical. A dressed body is a lie, and I always look for the truth,” says Sabbagh.
For Sabbagh, vestments and props are symbolic – whether it’s a police constable’s hat or an army helmet, a louche cigarette dangling from the fingertips, a bandage or a black bridal veil – they serve as emblems that add context to the image.
The dense symbolism of Sabbagh’s pieces sometimes makes attempting to appreciate his work feel overwhelming.
The Italian-Palestinian artist’s creations reveal a multitude of layers almost impenetrable to the conscious mind. Sabbagh has likened his creative process to a theory of psychology that involves assimilation of a galaxy of influences – from frames in a movie, to classical sculpture, religious motifs, mythology and epic poetry, line drawings, music and multi-lingual literature. What Sabbagh creates when he stands behind a lens – or styles what’s in front of it –has been fed by an unconscious that is well-nourished by years of consuming numerous visual influences and imbibing classical and cultural references.
The result are images and clips of video art that consistently depict a riveting dance between the beautiful and the grotesque.
Sabbagh has said that for him, perfection represents the true nightmare of contemporary man. What his images present time and time again is the desecration of perfection to reveal virtually limitless idiosyncrasies and variations.
“Dark circles from too much work, or too much pleasure. Veins pulsing life. That rough, raw beauty between Caravaggio and Pasolini. I do not like flat faces, I do not like flat things, I don’t like flat life,” says Sabbagh. “I do not like things that cannot sting me, cut me, touch me deeply. That’s why, to me, real beauty hurts: real beauty does not reassure. It’s uncomfortable.”
Nowhere is this ethos of disturbing beauty more strongly expressed than in Sabbagh’s repeated destruction of gender stereotypes. His subjects consistently flirt with gender fluidity – men strut proudly in tulle skirts, women wear their hair closely cropped, female chests are bandaged flat while men’s bodies are draped in poses that highlight voluptuous curves.
“Accepting the other as an integral part of our being. Contemporary beauty does not feed on appearance but on essence. Living through truthful gestures, perceiving time as passage, rather than as decay. Beauty is looking into ourselves to comprehend the world around us with both temporal and ethical value.”
According to Sabbagh, each gender must be celebrated “but thinking that the human being is a reproductive organ is the mere negation of humanistic progress.” He says: “Feeling yourself in your own body is the first step towards happiness. Diversity stands as the real sine qua non of the modern man. I feel man or woman in a way beyond these two polarities. The only way is to see eroticism is through their habitat: their house is their skin, their dress is their desire.”
So how does Sabbagh approach the depiction of this complex enigma that is the human body?
“Exactly like Lucio Fontana’s canvases,” says Sabbagh. “Through a few gestures I arrive at the perfect cut.”
Photography YUMNA AL-ARASHI
Styling GABRIELLA NORBERG
Designer Rick Owens blends the strange and alluring, creating a world that’s truly one-of-a-kind.
By MAX BERLINGER
With his angular features, long, straight black hair, and his gym-chiseled frame cocooned in his own Grecian-Galactic ready-to-wear, Rick Owens is a sight to behold. The iconoclastic designer has been creating visual feasts—fashion as sculpture, clothes as armor - for more than twenty years, and today has a reputation in the fashion industry that hovers somewhere between cult mainstay and boundary-pushing elder statesman. His vision of glamour is unexpected and stark, yet at the same time, it transcends typical ideas of beauty to present something darker and transfixing; a more inclusive and exciting vision of what fashion can ask of its wearer.
Mr. Owens was born in Porterville, California and studied painting and sculpture in Los Angeles before moving into the world of fashion design, learning pattern making and draping and creating a ready-to-wear collection in 1994. In 2002, he presented his first collection at New York Fashion Week, a manifesto of moody glamour and hard-edged rock ’n’ roll cool that has been at the heart of his work ever since. He subsequently left the West Coast for Paris where his company is currently based. In recent years his work with its languid silhouettes, dramatic draping, and asymmetrical lines have made his runway shows the most anticipated of the Paris leg of fashion week. His look both foretold the current mania for streetwear and the sporty aesthetic currently dominating the industry but also pushed it forward in an intelligent, expansive way. One thing he’s always done, though, is create a look that is utterly unique and completely recognizable.
“There is an earnestness to what I do. It can be corny, that I would probably make fun of, but it’s about genuinely connecting with people who believe in a certain kind of rigorous pursuit of a certain aesthetic. It’s a very specific aesthetic that I’ve been very loyal to and I think people have responded to that. They respect somebody who has a very strong opinion on something. And this opinion is inclusive and tolerant and affectionate and has a fair amount of drama—and everybody loves a little drama.”
Photography KATJA MAYER
Styling VICTORIA BAIN
Photography EMIL PABON
Styling KOEN T. HENDRIKS
John Galliano embarks on a journey to help us discover a new sensuality and a new sexuality by breaking down preconceived ideas of what is masculine and what is feminine.
By MAX BERLINGER
Photography JASON LLOYD-EVANS
Maison Margiela’s first Artisanal Collection signified an unrestricted foray into the territory of haute couture for men in conversation with a new masculinity in motion. Reflecting on the streetwear culture of the current menswear climate, John Galliano exercised his pyramidical approach to creation through an exploration of new values. It was an appreciation of the current evolution of male dress codes, and the desire to take it to unexplored places of craftsmanship for a young generation.
Balanced on the dangerous edge of tradition and avant-garde aesthetics, it served as a bridge from ideologies of style that we all known and are familiar and comfortable with, but then pushing those concepts into the unknown, toward the outer edges of imagination. That being said, it was rooted in something real and understandable, a form of dressing that is recognizable - but then questioned.
Galliano explodes archetypes of masculinity and gender while showing off his virtuosity of tailoring and design. His ability to combine romance and tradition is nonpareil, the results are certainly beautiful, but not in any conventional way - which only adds to their allure.
“What is sexy today?” Galliano asks. “It’s a moment to collectively redefine what it means, what it could mean today. The millennials and the Z generation - gay marriage is history, the abolition of abortion rights is history. For them. It’s like old news. So their view of the world is completely different. Of course one understands it. You can’t put yourself in those shoes of these people.”
The garments are so layered, so nuanced, that they require a deeper look. Not only that, they ask of the request that you reorient yourself and your relationship to what fashion is, what it’s used for, how it’s made, and what it means. The intricacy, techniques and time inherent to haute couture are applied to traditional ideas of male dress in a transcendence of gender-specific uniforms. It is the experimental proposal of a reimagined sexuality, sensuality and individuality for a new mentality.
“The philosophy of this Artisanal man is a proposal of how one could consider bespoke for today,” Galliano says. “That’s rooted in authenticity and that can perhaps redefine what is a new masculinity - or even femininity - through cutting.” It’s wonderful to hear the designer think about big picture ideas concerning our culture and humanity, but also bring those ideas back to his craft of cutting and storytelling through cloth. Galliano remembers a collection he made in 1996 called ‘Fallen Angels’ where he cut the sleeves on an arc, which led to a cowling on the arm. It was at that time that someone explained to him cutting on the bias, which led him to the work of Madeleine Vionnet. “I did and a whole new world opened up.”
While it’s often used in womenswear, it’s not used as much in men’s clothing. Galliano manipulates it for his own purposes, to inject a glamour into his clothes. “It’s liberating, it’s light, it gives you an illustrative line, it’s relaxed looking, sensual, louche.”
Not only did he conjure that energy, he used it to question ideas we have about modern dressing. “That street culture will always be an inspiration and an influence on us all because that’s where the energy is, that’s where the kids are, when their backs are against the wall, that energy has always influenced creation - always. It’s often effected by politics, society, it has a huge influence. It will help to shape what we consider masculine or feminine, formal or informal, in the future.”
He expressed that idea beautifully with fantastical and intricate designs both in their scope and construction. Full body rubber wader coveralls and a satin kimono shirt, a coat enclosed in plastic or a slick black leather jacket with hand-picked vents, landing finally with a crystal-embroidered silk jacquard jacket with a corset and wool trousers and sneakers festooned with glittering gemstones. It was beautiful and otherworldly. It was utterly unique, a nod to historic but also completely separate from it. It was truly forward thinking and in our world of sameness and homogeneity, it was an image and garments worth stopping to look at, closely, deeply: clothing that gives you something to think about for a long, long time.
“What I am showing is just an example of what we can achieve. I’m just trying to exercise the craft of dressmaking. We call it men’s but traditionally I’ve used it for women’s but hey, why not? Preordained conformist ideas of masculinity and femininity, what is masculine today and what is feminine today really?” explains Galliano. “I hope this is the beginning of a journey to help us discover a new sensuality, a new sexuality. Breaking down preconceived ideas of what is masculine and what is feminine through cutting skills that I have learned and I am still learning.”
Hedi Slimane’s vision for Celine is completed by casting austere yet delicate models to illuminate the archetypes behind the clothes.
By MAX BERLINGER
Photography HEDI SLIMANE
The fashion industry is one where every detail counts, from the buttons down to the shoe laces. As such, each creative choice is not desultory but part of a larger statement about the comprehensive and all-encompassing vision of a brand, from the sweep of a model’s hair to the color of his or her eyes. In fact, contrary to popular belief, the model isn’t merely a human hanger, but a living embodiment of what the brand strives for, for the type of person who is supposed to live a life in these particular clothes. It’s no mistake that some runways are populated with beefy muscle-bound men who bring to mind sun-kissed Greek gods, while others feature willowy, brooding boys who look just this side of adolescence. These are choices that have been thought out to an obsessive degree. The model is, in a way, a substitute for the viewer. It’s saying that yes, these are the clothes you should wear, but, more importantly, this is the person you will become when you wear them. What more tantalizing dream of fashion, of beauty, is there?
Hedi Slimane is perhaps one of the most prolific brand builders and image makers of our time. From his attenuated silhouettes and his vintage rock-n-roll garments, he’s created collections that evoke entire worlds of out-all-night nightlife denizens, incredibly chic and aloof partygoers who are as effortless as they are unflappable. The clothes, with their sharp silhouettes, penchant for black and a blunt straightforwardness have been instrumental, of course, but so has the models he casts in his seasonal campaigns, especially in his recent years at Saint Laurent, and now as Creative Director at Celine.
“You arrive with a story, a culture, a personal language that is different from those of the house. You have to be yourself, against all odds.”
Photography KATJA MAYER
Styling EMIL REBEK
Model LUC DEFONT SAVIARD at SUCCESS MODELS
Grooming PIERPAOLO LAI at JULIAN WATSON AGENCY
Set Design MIGUEL BENTO at STREETERS
Floral Artist YAN SKATES
Photo Assistant DAMIEN FRY
Digital Operator KADARÉADU
Stylist’s Assistants LUCA BALZARINI and EMILIE BEYUERE
Set Assistant AMELIA STEVENS
Eight years after Lee Alexander McQueen’s untimely death, designer Sarah Burton continues to move his beautiful legacy forward into the light.
By MAX BERLINGER
Photography CHLOÉ LE DREZEN
When Lee Alexander McQueen took his own life in 2010, the fashion community not only mourned the loss of a complex and deeply brilliant man, they mourned the loss of a singular talent. During the course of his too-short career, McQueen channeled his turbulent moods and rebellious spirit into clothing that was shockingly modern, darkly intelligent, and stunningly beautiful. He made incredible clothing, yes, but he also made fashion that reflected the strangeness of the world, and pointed toward a new future.
When it was announced that then-unheard-of Sarah Burton, McQueen’s longtime colleague and head of womenswear at his brand since 2010, would take over the house as creative director, some had to ask: Who? It was risky to appoint a relative unknown to head up a brand that traded on runway revolutions, but also one that made sense. In her former position, Burton was intimately acquainted to McQueen’s creative process for many years and was, in many ways, the one tasked to transform his dramatic impulses into wearable works of art.
In the time since she’s taken over, the McQueen brand has flourished — she was responsible for Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress — and no place is that more clear than in the brand’s invigorated, exciting menswear offering.
The Alexander McQueen brand, of course, is quintessentially British at its core, and Burton honors that and mines the rich history of things like Savile Row and punk, but is never too deferential or self-serious. Slim suits with cinched waists and flared pants in traditional men’s patterns — windowpane checks, businessman pinstripes, argyle schoolboy sweater vests — have an undeniable McQueen swagger. Overblown paisleys and grandma florals are proof that the renegade spirit is still alive, and a cheeky one at that.
“I think what’s amazing about McQueen and what was amazing about Lee was that he created this process where it was never really about fashion,” Burton said. ‘It was always about a feeling and telling a story. And I think he sort of trained us all— trained me—to try to tell a story and to find a world that doesn’t necessarily relate to what everybody else is doing and to believe in your own instincts. And that went for everything. Lee really did believe in creating things that were unique to him and very special to the house. A lot of the prints and embroideries and jacquards are specifically designed not just for the collection, but for each garment.”
That feeling of specialness has moved from the women’s offerings — which is the heart of the brand — and transcended to mens in recent years. Burton mixes classic menswear with more forward-thinking fare with references as diverse as the tailors of Savile Row to the styles favored by the kids of Ireland. It’s a sensual journey of the elegant modernism of the British male where the classic British wardrobe is subverted and the codes of tailoring are renewed featuring romantic hand-painted English roses inspired by folkloric florals and a magnified monochrome paisley jacquard. Together, it has that aching beauty and sense of wistfulness that McQueen is known for.
It’s eight years later and Burton has more than proven she’s up for the task of taking McQueen’s brand and moving it into the future, deftly blending traditional menswear with more eccentric styles, creating a full wardrobe for the modern man, no matter how he dresses. And while she’s already done so much, it sounds like Burton has much, much more planned. “Fashion will never stagnate so long as there are teams of people willing to tackle the soul of the culture. That’s what we do here at McQueen, that’s what we’ve always done.”
Taking over for one designer and making a name for yourself under his name makes one thing of legacies, remembrance, and heritage — how could you not. It’s something that has weighed heavily on Burton’s mind. “Lee was very much his own person so it's impossible to know quite what he would have thought but part of the reason for me staying is that I believe he always wanted this to be a house that would be here forever, that he never wanted his name not to mean anything any more,” she said. “And I want that too. I want Alexander McQueen to continue. Then, in a hundred years time, there will still be this house that he created, this great place that represents modernity and creativity and beauty and romance and all of those things. That, I think, would be amazing."
Boasting an illustrious career spanning over 40 years, Giorgio Armani is one of the most influential designers of our time. At 84 years old he continues to make lasting contributions to the fashion industry through his codes of sophisticated, subtle simplicity.
By HASSAN AL-SALEH
There are not many designers who have endured the test of time the way that Giorgio Armani has. He has proven, time and time again, to be an unstoppable force in the fashion industry. He is the powerhouse behind one of the world’s most successful independent fashion labels that today has become a fully-fledged, global lifestyle empire. As other elder statesmen take diminished roles at their companies, Mr. Armani, at the age of 84, still oversees every single detail.
Working as a window dresser at a department store during his formative years, before securing a menswear design role at Nino Cerruti, it was only at the age of 40 that he truly found his calling. He reinvented himself into the man he is today by founding his eponymous brand in 1975 thanks to the encouragement of his partner, Sergio Galeotti. With no formal fashion education, it has always been his innate talent that has carried him to reach the highest echelon of the industry.
Today, the celebrated designer is known for his trademark minimalism and fluid, unstructured tailoring and credits his success to both consistency and innovation. His approach to fashion is pragmatic; not inventing new collections, each inspired by different themes, but rather creating something that people desire and need for life.
Armani has always seen his work as a reactionto the time we live in, because as he rightly says, clothes affect people’s behavior and attitudes. We sat down with the polymath of fashion to learn more.
How do you stay lively and curious for over four decades?
I think curiosity is something you are born with. I have always wanted to know about things – about different cultures, about people, about film, art, photography, architecture, sport, all sorts of things. As for lively, I believe that is related to curiosity. If you have energy and a love for what you do, you will always be active, engaged, and inquisitive.
What new perspective has time given you?
That a work ethic can get you so far, but that you need the love and support of friends and family too. If I have one regret, it is that I have not spent enough time with those I love.
What is the biggest change you have seen in fashion throughout your career?
In some ways fashion has changed beyond all recognition, and in others it is the same as it ever was. What has changed is the speed with which products come to market and the rise of the big groups, that sometimes neglect individual creativity. The Internet too, of course, has changed the way in which people communicate about fashion, and the way in which they purchase it. But what has not changed is that fashion is still fundamentally about someone finding something that they want to wear, and that will make them look and feel good. In this sense, no matter how much marketing and fast fashion and digital buzz there is, fashion still concerns the relationship between a designer and his customer.
How has your role as a designer changed? Does it get easier with time?
Actually, apart from becoming busier as we expand the areas that Armani works in – to include more accessories, interiors, hotels, beauty, even chocolates – the job has remained the same. It is about having a clear vision and making decisions based on that vision. It doesn’t get any easier, but it remains just as satisfying and rewarding, — and exciting of course.
What era do you find most fascinating and why?
Today. Always today. I am, of course, inspired by the past, as is every creative person, and there are periods in history that hold a particular fascination for me. For example, America in the Forties and Fifties, when Hollywood started to exert its pull on the collective imagination. And then there is the Eighties, the decade in which my name became known internationally. But I have always been someone who looks forward. I am committed to evolving, to developing new manufacturing techniques and new fabric technologies. I ask myself constantly, what do my customers want today? And tomorrow? That is how you stay relevant as a designer.
What is your response to fashion’s constant need for “newness”?
There is good newness, and deceptive newness. Good newness requires you to be open minded to change, and to strive for progress. Deceptive newness is to do with trends for the sake of trends – change for the sake of change, not driven by any need, any cultural shift. Many designers chase trends, and if you do, I believe you can easily lose your way.
You have said that avoiding excess at all costs is your rule. Can you please explain?
It is something I learnt from my mother. She taught me that if you wish to create beauty, only do what is necessary, and no more. For example, one piece of advice I always give to women, is that when they go out for an evening, they should take a look in the mirror and ask themselves whether there is something that they could remove. It may make them look more elegant. Excess for me is often a way of disguising the personality. I want people’s personalities to shine through.
In your opinion, what is your greatest contribution to fashion?
Almost certainly the realization in the late Seventies that we could change the nature of tailored clothes to make them more comfortable. At that time, we were still thinking of tailoring as our grandfathers had done, and using very similar materials and techniques to make it. With the advances in fabric technology, I wanted to make jackets more lightweight and comfortable, without giving up elegance and a perfect cut. I saw comfort as being a modern quality in clothing. This really was a revolution, and I am very proud of the fact that today people take comfort as a given in their clothing.
To who or what do you attribute your success? How have you been able to stand the test of time?
To my great passion. To my work ethic and drive. To my family and friends. To my team. And to my conviction that the success of any fashion business depends on people actually wearing the clothes. I have always put the customer’s needs first.
What is the most important lesson you have learned along the way?
That fashion only becomes fashion if people buy it and wear it. If it stays on the catwalk or magazine pages, or indeed, folded up, or on a hangar, in store, not bought and enjoyed and worn, then it is not fashion. Maybe it is something else – art? A vanity project? But it is not fashion.
Looking back, would you do anything differently?
Maybe I’d take a bit more time off to recharge more regularly. But I know myself well enough now to acknowledge that I am a workaholic.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Life is an adventure. Enjoy it.
What is your secret to longevity in fashion?
Stick to your personal vision, hold your personal beliefs with passion. Do not get distracted. Do not listen to too many people and differing opinions and advice. Stay focused. Believe in yourself.
How is Armani, both designer and brand, embracing the future?
With hope, determination, energy and, as always, a whole barrage of creative ideas!
A partnership between Gucci and the legendary Harlem designer Dapper Dan bridges past and future, and revives the storied culture of a New York neighborhood
By MAX BERLINGER
Photography AN LE
Dapper Dan didn’t expect all this. When he shut down his Harlem atelier in the 1990s, he figured his work — which took the logos from high-end labels like Gucci and Louis Vuitton and made them into bold and flashy streetwear — was done. But last year the Italian luxury label announced they’d be partnering with the legendary clothier, who’s real name is Daniel Day, helping to continue his legacy and introduce it to a new generation. This was a big surprise, considering that Day’s original designs attracted unhappy attention from the luxury brands — how things have changed.
Today, Dapper Dan’s multi-level store and studio inhabits a corner townhouse around the corner from his original store, in a neighborhood where the designer has spent the entirety of his life. On a sunny spring day, the sidewalk has a subdued energy — young people stroll past arm-in-arm while others walk along hurriedly to the nearby subway stop. Thanks to Gucci’s support, you can once again get custom clothes made by Day or shop the collaborative capsule collection, which riffs on Day’s original designs from the 1980s and ‘90s. The thing that’s so striking about the pieces is how timelessly cool they are, how Dapper Dan was truly ahead of the curve, how he saw casual street styles and integrated luxury labels with that aesthetic, long before the current streetwear mania that has swept the menswear industry.
Day is a loquacious, welcoming host, and undeniably cool in his three-piece suit and dark shades. He sits regally in the well-appointed living room area of the townhouse, with its ornate and rich decor, happily talking about his life and worldview. He’s clearly a man who has seen a lot and knows a lot, and is happy to share.
“It’s not a collaboration, it’s a partnership. It involves everybody straight across the cultural platform, and I love that.”
The incomparable Donatella Versace has found strength from adversity to revive the family brand while still honoring her brother Gianni’s legacy, but in her own voice.
By HASSAN AL-SALEH
Photography ZEB DAEMEN
Styling GABRIELLA NORBERG
Versace is a name that will forever live in infamy. A name that tells a traumatic tale of a visionary man, of glamor, glory, tragedy, heartbreak, addiction, and rebirth.
They say time heals all wounds. It has been more than two decades since the assassination of legendary fashion designer Gianni Versace, and now his sister Donatella, who is at the helm of one of the most renowned fashion houses, has come into her own to preserve the family legacy and bring the brand into the 21st century.
Donatella was Gianni’s best friend, muse, confidante, and accomplice. Soon after his untimely death in July of 1997, she assumed creative control of Versace. In addition to shouldering this mammoth responsibility in the aftermath of Gianni’s murder, she was tormented by the loss of her beloved brother and was fighting demons of her own to mask her pain.
While not all great stories have a happy ending, Donatella seems to have found her own. She is more comfortable in her own skin than ever before.
“I discovered that I’m stronger than I thought, that I’m a fighter. I alsounderstand now that I have been my own worst enemy for a long time.”
With whimsy and wit, designer Thom Browne challenges us to open our eyes, hearts, and minds to new ideas and reimagine what the future looks like.
By LAURA BOLT
Photography THOMAS GOLDBLUM
It’s not difficult to spot a Thom Browne suit. Shorts, cropped sleeves, tight jackets—it’s wrong done right. For almost two decades, the American designer has upended our ideas of what suiting can be, playing with fit and non traditional silhouettes. His garments are as perfectly made as they are distinctive and unique, and have brought the idea of uniform dressing back to the forefront with a twist, of course. Celebrated throughout the industry for his ingenuity, Browne’s signature style is equally classic and irreverent.
Browne’s dramatic and theatrical runway shows have always pushed viewers to think about what fashion means beyond clothing. By asking questions about identity, authenticity, and what constitutes personal style, Browne illustrates the role fashion can play in determining who we are and how we see the world.
The Thom Browne brand has always championed the idea of uniform dressing. What does that mean to you?
For me, the idea of uniformity and a uniform speaks to true confidence. It’s about knowing yourself very well. A true individual knows themselves well enough to be comfortable in a uniform. I’m in fashion and I design clothes, but fashion is not always so interesting to me. That’s why I like my shows, I like my collections to transcend fashion and become more important than the clothing. I think, in a way, how we represent ourselves at Thom Browne in a grey, very uniform way, I think it becomes almost like a piece of living art, which I think is more interesting and just transcends fashion.
Your SS19 show ended with the note, “See the world through my eyes.” What world do you want people to see?
Really, this collection was just showing the way I take classic ideas in reinterpret them in regards to proportion, and sometimes in ways that make things more interesting. The idea at the end of the show was about being playful and encouraging people to get along.
I hope that the world they see is one in which everyone is open to new ideas, and ideas you might not be comfortable with. A future that is more open.
Your collection was so vivid and bright, an interesting contrast from a lot of the dark and somber clothing that was shown by other designers this season.
It was very colorful, very open, and I hope people saw a very uplifting collection. I want to encourage people not to always take shows so literally, and just be open to interpreting it in their own way. The way I approached the collection from a design point of view, was that I wanted to make sure they’re not just seeing clothing. They’re seeing ideas that are moving things forward. Things that are relevant to the season, but also telling a story that hopefully they leave with something they remember.
Where did your inspiration come from?
It started from the idea of an East Coast American aesthetic in regards to colors, and fabrications, and iconography. I wanted to introduce the original proportion to this season’s proportions. I don’t really always think in terms of how it’s going to become reality. I think of, in a way, how it’s all going to feel right for now and how it will make the classic ideas of what I do more interesting this season. Then the reality just comes from there.
Your shows always make a statement, but at the end of the day, you also need to sell clothes. How do you balance conceptual ideas with the need to create a commercial product?
I keep them both separate in my mind. It starts with the conceptual side, and then the commercial comes from there. Everything starts with the conceptual part of what I do. The collections evolve through the season, but when it comes to translating something to the commercial side, it’s really just about taking the ideas and adapting them to represent the collection.
How do you convince customers to buy the more conceptual, runway pieces?
The most important thing is just for people to be open to seeing different things, and to considering things differently, and not to be so stuck on just seeing things that they understand. That’s the most challenging part, especially after the show and what happens in the showroom commercially. Challenge your customers, for God’s sake. Try to make them consider something new, as opposed to just being safe and just doing the same thing. There’s nothing worse than being safe. The key is making sure that what people see is actually then being offered to them.
Do you ever struggle with self-doubt?
I would never put something in front of people that I wasn’t 100 per cent comfortable with. I like to make people think. I also like presenting something beautiful, because the collection is beautifully made and I hope people see the beauty in them. But I would be troubled if everyone loved what they were seeing, I think its important that some people don’t love it. When you want to put something in front of people that provokes a conversation, you have to expect the good and the bad.
You’ve referenced style icons like Steve McQueen, JFK, and Cary Grant in your collections. What is it that draws you to them?
It’s really just about how effortless they were, and how simple they were. They had such a sense of individuality and confidence in the way they lived their lives, but they were also really effortless.
Film is also a recurring reference point in your work.
It feels like something very true to me as a person. Movies like Metropolis, or the films of Stanley Kubrick have always been an inspiration.
Could you ever see yourself going into the film industry?
I do think about it. The art world is interesting to me, the world of film is interesting to me. I would never want to take away from what I do in fashion, because there is still so much I have to do with my collections with both women’s and men’s. But I think it’s important for people to see me doing things outside of fashion.
How do you reinterpret the past in a way that feels fresh and new?
I think I forget enough about things that it makes it easier to make things my own, and relevant to the modern day. It’s easy for designers to get locked into literal references. One of the challenges that I give myself and everyone here is that I never let literal references in the studio. We don’t have things right in front of us, so we have to reinterpret them in our minds.
Dress codes have become more relaxed today, greatly influenced by sportswear and streetwear. Has the suit lost relevance, or is it more interesting because of the sense of rarity?
I think suits will always be interesting. I there will always be an appreciation for something that is well made. I feel like I’m back to where I started 18 years ago, when no one was wearing tailored clothing. We’re kind of back in that moment again. I feel like tailored clothing is so much more interesting than everything else that’s out there, because it is so unique. The interpretation, the proportion, and the quality is what makes it interesting.
Clothing is so disposable nowadays, but there’s nothing more fashionable than something that is beautifully made.
Have the needs of your customer changed in the past 18 years?
I don’t think much has changed, actually. Of course the collections develop and expand, but I think that’s the reason why the business is doing so well. I’ve stayed true to what I do, and people know what to come to me for. I think that’s the reason business is as strong as it is. I think my customer is expecting more of the same.
We live in a culture that’s obsessed with Instagram and immediate gratification. How do you feel about working in social media obsessed world?
I think it is important to stay up with the times and not to fight technology and to be relevant with what’s going on. For me, however, the most important thing is that I do it my own way, and I don’t do it like anyone else. I never have.
What do you think the role of fashion is in the larger dialogue about global affairs and how the world is changing?
I think its different for everyone. I like it to be a more charming, under, softly spoken message than hitting people over the head. Personally, I like to put ideas in front of people that maybe aren’t even relevant for today, but speak to what might happen in the future.
Photographer and filmmaker Yumna Al-Arashi’s work intimately captures where past and present, work and personal, public and private life intersect.
By MAX BERLINGER
Photography YUMNA AL-ARASHI
The first picture Yumna Al-Arashi remembers having an impact on her was from 9/11, of a man falling, having jumped from New York’s Twin Towers. “That was really intense to see and so moving,” says photographer and filmmaker Al-Arashi. “I think that’s when I understood the power of a photograph to tell so many stories — to be moving.”
Ms. Al-Arashi’s work does just that — moves people — with it’s deeply personal approach and exploration of female identity, nature, sexuality, loneliness and personal connection. It also reflects a sense of time and place, and how these ideas intersect and exist simultaneously. It makes sense that this is what her work would focus on: a self-taught artist, she studied social inquiry at The New School in New York City. “The course was amix of political science, history and sociology,” she says. “It was incredibly valuable for my work.”
Identity and personal history connect her images, but also connect Ms. Al-Arashi to the viewer. A Yemeni-American, she was born in the late 1980s and was raised in the Washington DC area by her father from the age of three. “I had older siblings, much older than me, so I spent a lot of my time on my own in my own world. It was nice. We were surrounded by beautiful naturethat I’d spend a lot of time in.” The human body in nature, the connection between flesh and earth, haunts many of her images with a sort of quixotic yearning that gives so much of her work an unexpected heft.
By being a woman, by being multi-racial, by working in a field dominated by men and the male gaze, Al-Arashi is challenging what we see when we look at an image. “What I’m more concerned with, is how we as women are on our way to being as successful as any man has the chance tobe. I want to help pave a road for our daughters, just as the women before me did.”
That she looks to her past, thinks about the foremothers that brought her to the present, is telling, and is the sort of thinking that she brings forth in her images, which often feature the female nude, but never in a predatory or suggestive way. There’s a warmth, an empathy, that she brings to the soft and muted, dusky colors. “It’s me,” she says of her sensual, dreamy aesthetic. “I’m soft and although I’d like to deny it, I’m a romantic. I love to love and I love beauty.”
That you can see beyond what she shows you — a woman’s body in nature, the curve of a flower, the deserted cobblestoned street in a village — and feel the emotion beneath, the layers of humanity contained within, is a special talent. But in a way, it’s also shockingly simple. She allows the camera to capture what she sees, who she is. “My interests lay comfortably in the seat of identity,” she said. “It’s a journey being a first generation person in a world which suddenly decides your identity is the root of all evil. Can you imagine? Being a young person, hearing the racist and war-driven rhetoric in America? My entire life has been unlearning the noise of western media — and asking everyone watching to join me on my journey.”
Al-Arashi moved to London almost two years ago, in part to escape a culture that recognized her identity but could not move past it, to see the humanity beneath. “I really needed to get out of America. It felt suffocating. The racism, the classism, the politics and exploration of Americans. I needed a break. There was a trauma my father tried to escape from in his war-torn home. He took us to America and, in turn, America felt like it was headed in the same direction. I’m learning so much away from it — but I’d be learning anywhere. That’s just a part of getting older and living life. Any form of growing would help my art. Whether in London or in Tokyo or in Yemen. Life helps my art.”
“While her images may have a hopeful, positive beauty — almost meditative in their feeling of acceptance and peace — that doesn’t obscure their more plaintive, thoughtful moments. By showing herself, complementing the beauty of nature, and then placed alongside images from her past, a portrait that is nuanced and layered emerges. It’s avisual representation of past and present, of everything that made her who she is today, and how all those facets are working together to create the harmony of selfhood. The pictures are plain in their straightforwardness, but contain a shocking feeling of profundity.
“I’m speaking with my body and it reflects on time and ruins and change and the fragility of life. I hope people feel good when they look at them. I hope people can feel me.”
Four industrial designers express the depth and versatility of Prada’s iconic Black Nylon in a special transformative collaboration that celebrates four decades of fashion’s modern classic.
By LAURA BOLT
Photography WILLY VANDERPERRE
Miuccia Prada is and forever will be the mother of reinvention and a continual bellwether. When she joined her family’s business in 1978, she was determined to imbue her work with a sense of modernity and mobility. Values she undoubtedly continues to carry with her until today and have become the very doctrine of her global empire.
Mrs. Prada eschewed conventional luxury fabrics the brand was known for in favor of something more rugged and experimental. The young designer began playing around with nylon, at the time simply used for covering and protecting luggage. A simple rucksack dubbed Vela was born and soon the unconventional fabric substitute would be used in everything from handbags to apparel. “I wanted to do something that was nearly impossible, make nylon luxurious. But obviously it made sense to people because, if you think about it, now black nylon is everywhere,” she said.
This newfound artistic territory catapulted Prada’s reputation as a world class fashion house that understood the real lives and needs of its customers, resolute to move the old world of high fashion into the modern and technological age. Equal parts experimental and pragmatic, Prada Nylon has become as influential as Marcel DuChamp’s Fountain in shifting perspectives on fashion from luxury materials to conceptual ideas. As fashion continues to challenge our expectations of luxury and desire, we look for new ways of uniting form and function.
Today, forty years later, Prada Black Nylon has become an iconic symbol of the brand and a timeless, yet avant-garde expression of elegance for today. As we get deeper into the digital age, re-conceptualizing the structural elements of the clothes and accessories we use every day becomes more and more relevant. We are constantly evolving as a community, reflecting a diverse sense of needs, lifestyles, and challenges. Consumers look to the fashion world as a beacon, showing us what is possible and how to be a better, true version of ourselves. This conversation between our shifting technological, personal, and social needs is what fashion is all about. Prada did just that: challenging four diverse creators to reinterpret Black Nylon.
Dubbed ‘Prada Invites’, the selection of designers and architects reflects the industrial underpinnings of both the Prada identity and the Nylon heritage. Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Konstantin Grcic, Herzog and de Meuron, and Rem Koolhaas were all tasked with designing a unique item using Black Nylon, highlighting its poetic, practical, technical, and aesthetic aspects. They were given total creative control to achieve the stylistic application of Black Nylon they felt the world needed right now, considering the ever changing demands of a modern consumer. The resulting creations are a fascinating comment on where we’ve come in the past four decades, and where we can look forward to going in the future.
A half-decade in the making, Louis Vuitton’s Les Parfumsfor men pays tribute to the fashion house’s fervor for travel.
By ADAM HURLY
Photography SEBASTIEN ZANELLA
Travel arouses the senses. This is the reason many fragrances are inspired by far-off lands and off-road excursions: Wanderlust simply colors the memory. The most fantastic moments from any journey remain the most vivid in our minds. Thus, the most deeply inspired and best-researched scents make a big impression on their recipient.
Jacques Cavallier Belletrud, the Master Perfumer behind Louis Vuitton’s fragrances, took five years to create a new line of men’s fragrances for the fashion house. Recalling visits and sourcing raw materials from five continents, with stops in Calabria, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nigeria, and more, he carefully marries one sensation to another—and often in stark contrast to one another. Our minds travel with his, to a specific time and place, to experience the emotions he felt when each light bulb flicked on.
Cavallier Belletrud conjures all of Louis Vuitton’s fragrances at Les Fontaines Parfumées in Provence, France, where the memories of his semi-annual fragrance voyages settle into his senses. These five fragrances, simply known as “Les Parfums”, are the first men’s fragrances bottled for the fashion house. The bottles are created by legendary industrial designer Marc Newsom, and are fresh on the tail of the eight women’s fragrances that Cavallier Belletrud has created for the storied French house since 2012.
Travel has always been at the heart of Louis Vuitton. Les Parfums, is positioned in the same way: these five fragrances are each breathtaking journeys that inspire self-revelation and a boundless, pioneering spirit.
“All my trips to discover ingredients are experiences which are necessary for refilling my emotional library,” he says, before quoting Michael Edwards, author of Fragrances of the World and Perfume Legends: “‘New places, new scents, and new impressions inspire artists, musicians, perfumers; they always did, they always shall. Fragrance and travel make great companions…What they have in common is dreams.’”
And so he dreamt up Les Parfums:“I wanted to pay homage to the adventurer on a journey of self-discovery and invoke the energy of his skin. The aim was to compose fragrances that captured the energy of this historic moment yet remain timeless.”
Noting a recent shift in men’s fashion, he says that these fragrances follow a similar trajectory: “The perfume market is full of all the stereotypes of masculinity. I wanted to break this because I believe men are ready to use their perfumes as women do: with more sophistication. Nowadays, men dare to wear colorful clothes. They are more disruptive, less classical, but still chic. Clothes and accessories are more and more creative. I think it is time for men’s perfumes to be in the same mood.” He also sees them as scents that women would love to smell on men, but also might want to wear themselves, adding that gender is not as important as it once was in perfumery. “In my opinion, smell has no sex. For the women’s collection, I noticed that a lot of men bought our fragrances for women but also for themselves.” He suspects the same will happen with these five: Women will wear them proudly.
Cavallier Belletrud says he wants men to understand that a unique perfume adds a dimension to one’s own persona. “Creating a perfume awakens one’s most hidden thoughts, deepest recollections, it questions the most intimate and profound part of our personality,” he says of the five fragrances.
First, there’s L’Immensité, a ginger and amber blend. It evokes boundlessness, and uses Nigerian ginger roots and Spanish labdanum.
Next, Nouveau Mondeis a meeting point of the Middle East, a mix of oud from Assam in Bangladesh and cocoa from Ivory Coast, inspired by his visit to Guatemala.
Orage, is an ode to patchouli and the ebb and flow of a tranquil sea. To achieve this, Cavallier Belletrud combines the patchouli with notes of iris.
Au Hasardcenters on sandalwood from Sri Lanka. Cavallier Belletrud pairs it with cardamom from Guatemala, to focus on the contrast between woody and spicy.
Lastly, Sur la Routewas inspired by a trip to Calabria, Italy. “On the road, I discovered some citron with a fantastic smell,” he explains. Cavallier Belletrud blends the acidity of bergamot with leathery, spicy, and vanilla-tinged Peruvian balsam wood oil, which actually comes from El Salvador, not Peru.
Even the shaded color palette of these fragrances is as intentional as each ingredient: stormy gray, desert sand, cashmere beige, watery green. Together they’re harmonious, and would stand uniformly beside the brand’s eight feminine scents. And now, with a collection of 13 scents at Louis Vuitton, one of Cavallier Belletrud’s top priorities—while continually researching new scents—is to maintain relationships with the growers in each market. Doing so ensures that the ingredients for each scent are of top quality from one season to the next. Also, this means that he doesn’t have to fly to El Salvador every few months to walk five hours into the forest, climb midway up the trunk, and extract the resin himself. Even then, his job is more perpetually hands-on then one might expect: At the Calabria, Italy farm where he gets bergamot, “the fruit variesever so slightly from one orchard to the next,” he explains. “As with winegrowing, you find subtle differences in citrus trees depending on their exposure to sunlight and wind. Some bergamot is fruity; others are more unpolished or more incisive. Comparing harvests allows me to choose the one whose quality is best suited to a formula.” If he and his growers stay synchronized, the scent remains the same from one batch to the next.
Be it a repeat trip or initial expedition, Cavallier Belletrud cherishes this process, especially since it fuels his creativity. Hearing him describe his travels paints a clear understanding of why his scents are so inspired, and why he fits so comfortably in the Maison Louis Vuitton:“After a journey like this, you’re never quite the same. Experiencing the scent of Peruvian balsam in its natural environment is a memory that stays with you forever.”
With no destination ever being the last, these scents become the essence of exploration, arousing curiosity and boundless potential: the truest spiritof travel.
Photography PHILIPPE VOGELENZANG
Styling MARK STADMAN
Anthony Vaccarello looks to Yves Saint Laurent’s illustrious past to evoke a mood, an emotion, and an attitude as a way of living in the present.
By HASSAN AL-SALEH
Photography ARNAUD MICHAUX
History and continuity have always been central to SaintLaurent and the same can be said for Anthony Vaccarello, who is now at the creative helm of the storied French house. The Belgian-Italian designer’s creations are composites from Saint Laurent’s rich past, fused together with his instantly recognizable modern, deft approach, to speak to the present. But for Vaccarello, it is also about liberation from the past and living in the now— which, of course, echoes the same rebellious spirit that characterized Monsieur Yves Saint Laurent himself.
You can never re-create the past. From the very beginning, Vaccarello made it very clear that he is making Saint Laurent his own by imbuing it with the same sense of empowerment he conveyed with his namesake label: the unabashed freedom to explore and celebrate identity, gender, and sexuality. The parallels between Yves and himself are uncanny.
Since the fabled house was established in 1961, Saint Laurent has become one of the most influential brands in the world, both creatively and culturally. Now, Vaccarello is pushing the Parisian brand forward for a new generation and keeping the spirit of its legendary founder, who revolutionized fashion as we know it, alive today.
“The point is to keep the spirit alive and to make the house and the collections relevant for today. Saint Laurent is an attitude, an effortless chicness but always with a twist, a sense of confidence.”
Photography MARIUS W. HANSEN
Set Design THOMAS BIRD
Photography SERGE LEBLON
Styling JEAN-MICHEL CLERC
Model SERGE SERGEEV at BRO MODELS
Grooming TERRY SAXON at ARTISTS UNIT
Photo Assistant NICOLAS KENGEN
Stylist Assistant FLORENTIN GLÉMAREC
Photography MAXIME POIBLANC
Set Design David DE QUEVEDO
As Alessandro Sartori returns home to Ermenegildo Zegna to assume his destined role of artistic director, he embarks on a journey to redefine luxury menswear for a multitude of generations.
By HASSAN AL-SALEH
Photography DANIEL BERES
Call it fate or destiny, but everything that designer Alessandro Sartori has worked for has culminated in his role as artistic director of Ermenegildo Zegna.
The son of a tailor, Sartori was born in Trivero, the birthplace of Zegna, and studied fashion design at Istituto Marangoni Milano. His life story is intertwined with Zegna; first joining the brand after graduation and then coming back for eight years as the artistic director of Z Zegna. His five years at the creative helm of Berluti transformed the Parisian label from a heritage shoemaker, renowned for its unique leather finishing, to an all-encompassing menswear and lifestyle brand of inconspicuous luxury.
In his new role at the world’s largest luxury menswear brand, Sartori is focusing on creating the perfect fit of modern and classic and writing a new chapter of contemporary timelessness in the brand’s rich history.
In many ways, your return to Zegna is a homecoming. How does it feel to be back?
Coming back after such a long time, five and a half years in Paris, was particularly special and touching. Also, because I’m very attached to the family.
Special, interesting, and challenging, but beautiful. Interesting because it is not only the largest and most complete menswear house in the luxury market, but it is constantly changing. Challenging because times are changing. Today, we need to update ourselves, we need to be open. We need to have a very clear point of view.
Beautiful because it is a house full of new solutions - from new fresh talent to the workshops.
How have things changed and developed under your direction?
I think teams are more connected and the energy and speed is very high. We work as one big team, even if each one has his or her own responsibilities, we try to be connected as much as possible. Not only because I’m a strong believer that if we work with confidence and listen to each other, we can do much more than what we can produce individually but, mostly, because I think if you cultivate, like a forest, new interests, you let young people express themselves. You show that there is possibility to grow and to develop responsibility, if you prove that you can do it. It doesn’t matter what age you are.
Today, Zegna is a place where young trees are growing, with ideas that are growing.
You are cultivating a new generation of creatives who then become entrenched in the Zegna family.
Yes, creativity is part of each step of the process, and we are much more open with a unified vision.
What do you find most intriguing about designing for men today?
I like to build an aesthetic without tricks but with new solutions. There is a very strong part of the work that is related to this new world of modern classic that starts from where the modern classic was a few seasons ago until overdesign took over. Where I stop, is where the overdesign starts. Overdesigning or over-styling is not interesting to me.
I think that’s very evident in your collections. Details such as belts can add such an interesting component to the whole look and the technical solutions, which you offer, speak to a multitude of audiences.
Absolutely, and the details are particularly interesting if they are simple to use and not over styled. If I put three jackets one over the other, for sure, that’s interesting, but how many people will do that? How real is that? Or, if I use a very long woven belt, that ties around the waist three times with a little buckle on the side, how many people are going to do that in real life?
I like garments that have a beautiful fit and offer styling solutions that are real.
How have customers responded to these changes?
Faster than what we thought. Of course, it changes from market to market because we have different clientele, but faster than what we thought.
The sportswear side of Ermenegildo Zegna - the Z Zegna line - and the couture line, is growing very fast.
How has the Zegna customer evolved along this journey with you?
Today, the aesthetic is different and diverse. How many images do we see per week? Thousands and thousands. This has changed the perception of everyone, including the Zegna customer. There is increased awareness and education and it’s evolving very fast.
The way you communicate with customers has most definitely evolved to changing consumer consumption of information. Talk to us about your on-going collaboration with Benjamin Millepied.
The collaboration with him is very honest, open, and frank. It’s not about giving him money, or giving him clothes. It’s about the possibility to do something great. It’s about a feeling. We met over a friendly dinner in Paris and since then we connected, and we liked each other.
He is a deep, personable and interesting person that you can listen and talk to for a long time. The collaboration was organic, and it was a great thing to do. We were in Marfa for five days. It was beautiful.
I think what was most appealing was that it felt very authentic. It didn’t feel like a forced collaboration, it wasn’t about the fashion, it wasn’t just about the dance. Everything married so effortlessly together. It felt very true to who you are as a designer but also very true to Benjamin and very true to the brand.
Thank you for that.
Even during your time at Berluti, you introduced a lot of artistic collaborations. How do they all fit within your bigger narrative for Zegna?
I feel that you need a reason to go back to the store. That’s why I’m a big fan, or a big believer of, when you do the buying for a big store, being very creative is important. But when you do the buying for a small store, even more creativity is needed.
The collections and the shows are the most important part of the creation of the aesthetic of the brand but, also the excitement, the freshness, the freedom of doing new projects is important. They need to be in the same aesthetic, but arriving as a parallel agenda to refresh the offer. And so, we started, and we have a lot of ideas, a lot of things to come.
As an example, I want to talk about the one with Master & Dynamic, which we did with Zegna Toyz. Part of it was just games, or leather products but a very technological part was working together on leather devices; headphones, vinyl players and so on, it’s fantastic.
Zegna is synonymous with high quality fabrics. What is your emotional connection to fabrics as a designer?
It is a very tactile feeling. The first thing you are attracted to, immediately, is the color. Second, most probably, is the design and then you see what type of fabric it is.
I really like the fact that we are in a very good “kitchen” so we can build things from scratch. Like the Achill Farm, as a project, is fantastic and starts from how we feed the animals for example, for the cashmere. We start from natural elements from coffee beans to actual flowers and that is really interesting because it’s like creating a very good meal, putting together all the components.
A the end, when I touch a fabric, it's a very sensual feeling and questioning the difference between two is fantastic. But the reaction that each one, even a very similar one, according to the design, could be very different, that’s why you have to work a lot on the technical part.
There is a lot of talk about sustainability in fashion. How do you see things developing and moving forward?
This isn’t just marketing, I see this as a fantastic story. The real story, and one of the most creative things to me, is the 360 Economy, where you take a thing, transform it and then go back and reintegrate it in the process.
As an example, Bonotto, one of the mills that the company owns, has a beautiful project on recycled polyester that starts from recycling plastic bottles.
I feel that these sustainable types of ideas for design and materials are important and I am a strong believer of them.
How do you honor the legacy of Zegna while speaking to such a modern, contemporary audience?
Keeping the craft, the roots, the DNA, the artisans, which is the core of the brand. That has to be at the center of our world. So, if I do a modern aesthetic with a beautiful quality fabric using the craft and the style, which belongs to the house, even if it is very modern and fresh, I think I’ve done my job. If I move everything into a territory that doesn’t belong to the craft of the house and I use a bad quality fabric, I didn’t get the job done. That’s my theory.
You said when you re-joined Zegna that you were obsessed with the vision that the family had for the brand. Can you explain?
When looking at the archives, they look and feel super modern, which is unbelievable. So, I like the idea of how transformation always kept craft in modernity, always kept a very strong legacy tied to the brand’s roots but a very brilliant vision of the future. So, that is what is interesting to me and what was interesting in the past and what should be interesting in the future.
What do you hope to achieve at Zegna?
An updated recognizable style for multiple generations. It’s more about the lifestyle, rather than the age.
Men’s fashion is in a state of flux. What do you think is your responsibility as a designer to establish order when so many things are changing?
Three or four years ago, we saw certain brands create very chaotic styling and aesthetics and that worked particularly well.
In my opinion, today is another moment and in fact, also brands are reacting and doing different things. Today, there is a lot of chaos in politics and what is happening in every social aspect. I think the work that includes music, art, design, and fashion should be very inspirational for our time. It should be much more organized, less chaotic. So, I try to be as clean, sharp, and modern as possible. Also, because I want to communicate a certain aesthetic that fits with that.
That makes perfect sense. It’s about balance. If there is chaos on the outside, there needs to be stability inside to create that equilibrium.
What is your hope for the future of men’s fashion?
Have you seen the movie by Luca Guadagnino entitled “Call Me By Your Name”?
Yes, it’s incredibly beautiful and moving.
How inspiring is that film? That’s my hope for fashion.
Photography MARIUS W. HANSEN
Styling JOHANNE MILLS
Designer Haider Ackermann evokes the idiosyncrasies of the places he inhabits and the emotions he experiences all to compel us to keep reaching, searching and traveling.
By HASSAN AL-SALEH
Photography RAPHAEL LUGASSY
Styling ROBERT RABENSTEINER
Haider Ackermann is a rare breed and a man of exacting standards. Despite the pressure and demands of the fashion industry, he is one of the most sartorially forward-thinking designers of our time. He goes beyond the necessity of fashion to craft people’s dreams with his sculptural yet soft silhouettes and urban avant-garde aesthetic. Dreams that come alive when worn, and then set in motion.
Ackermann’s formative years as a child traveling the world with his family have informed his designs: the masterful use of textures, artful draping and rich fabrics. A graduate of fashion from the famed Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, he launched his eponymous label in 2003 to critical acclaim and in 2016 was tapped as creative director of Berluti. Carefully guarding his vision of deeply personal luxury with a flair for romantic bohemianism, he plays with the notions of duality between rigidity and sensuality. The result is sophisticated and eclectic, asymmetric designs that are recognized for an exquisite sense of androgyny and bourgeoisie spirit. But perhaps most importantly, they are charged with unapologetic attitude and evoke a serious case of wanderlust of the heart, mind and soul.
“I grew up in a family, which was so far away from my own sensibilities. My life used to be about contradictions, but we’re all made out of contradictions and perhaps I explore them more than anyone else. I like that, because it makes everything more fragile, but in every form of fragility there’s a force in it.”
Leaving a lasting legacy of transformation, Christopher Bailey’s swan song for Burberry delivers a powerful message of love, hope and tolerance.
By MAX BERLINGER
Photography BRETT LLOYD
It was the end of an era.
When Christopher Bailey presented the Spring-Summer 2018 collection for the British mega-brand Burberry, it was his last big gesture for the brand that he had worked at for 17 years, and that he had transformed from fusty heritage label to modern newsmaker favored by fashion-conscious shoppers across the globe. It was big news and everyone was watching.
So it makes Bailey’s message so much more meaningful, that the designer chose this moment to share a message of inclusivity, hope, and optimism. He recognized that the best way to show his appreciation would be to thread the collection with bits of personal history for added significance. It’s as if Bailey knew the best way to properly say goodbye to the brand and close a 17-year chapter in his life was to look inward, and give a glimpse of himself as a small but meaningful parting gift. The rainbow colors, beautiful and tender, were a lovely, moving way to do that. Burberry also made donations to three charities: the Albert Kennedy Trust, the Trevor Project and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association to support their efforts in raising awareness, mentoring and providing resources to LGBTQ+ communities worldwide, which happen to be at higher risk for suicide, abuse, and depression.
“My final collection here at Burberry is dedicated to - and in support of - some of the best and brightest organizations supporting LGBTQ youth around the world. There has never been a more important time to say that in our diversity lies our strength, and our creativity.”
Jonathan Anderson, creative director of Loewe, realize the full potential of art to unite people into a collective mind.
By JON ROTH
Once, we had patrons. Popes, kings, and first families of trade funded the great artists of the past, trading humble gold for masterpieces that have carried on through time. Think of the Medici, or Louis XIV. They were the still points around which spheres of creative influence spun. Then that model broke. Today, many artisans — those who ply their craft by hand — have been left in the cold. Their output is shrugged off as too quaint, or old-fashioned, or precious for a world that prizes convenience and commodity. There is no patron to champion them.
Except for Jonathan Anderson. He looks out for his own.
At 34, Anderson is the creative director of Spanish leather goods and fashion house Loewe (as well as his eponymous line, J.W. Anderson). He’s also a man who deeply appreciates the value of making things by hand. Which is why, in 2016, the Irish designer founded the Loewe Craft Prize, an international competition accepting applicants of all ages and nationalities, seeking handmade pieces on a basis of excellence, artistic merit, and newness. In many ways, Anderson and the Loewe Foundation are fulfilling the role the patrons of yore once did: they are giving artisans the space and resources to thrive.
“As we head into an incredibly digital landscape, we want to connect to things made by hand more. We are living in such a period of non-reality. We communicate via email all day, we have dates via social media… We’re in this moment where we’re trying to become more tactile again.”
The Loewe prize does just that: lifting up artisans who work with their hands, creating pieces you can touch, and hold, and treasure. Both designer and brand are firmly rooted in a respect for the slow, painstaking, human effort required to create pieces of timeless beauty. Now they are becoming a new kind of patron
Anthony Vaccarello, creative director of Saint Laurent, honors the love and legacy of one of the most prolific designers of the 20th century through a spellbinding celebration of tradition and functional design.
By ADAM HURLY
Photography RORY VAN MILLINGEN
When Saint Laurent hired Anthony Vaccarello as its creative director in 2016, it wasn’t because Vaccarello was provocative or innovative. He is both of those things, but Vaccarello’s appeal as a leader and visionary comes from his love of process, his veneration for order and legacy. His Spring-Summer 2018 collection was a love letter to the recently departed Bergé, and an artistically optimistic celebration of life. It was so very Parisian, so Yves and Pierre.
“I think of everything Saint Laurent when I begin a collection, but I don’t set out to make a Saint Laurent collection. The weight of the house is so heavy that I would be blocked. Anyway, when you’re inside the house, you don’t think about it. I think it’s mostly in the eyes of other people. Everyone has a vision of what they think Saint Laurent should be, and that’s something I knew when I started.”
Vaccarello is a student of fashion, sans an ego that might get in the way of Yves’ hopes for the brand, and of his and Bergé’s legacy. You get the notion from Vaccarello’s humility in the spotlight that everything is matter of fact: I am good at design, so I design. I love the process, so here I am. How can I do my job in the best way? He doesn’t set out to be provocative, but he is. He doesn’t try to be Yves Saint Laurent. But in honoring Yves’ vision—and in trusting his gut, above all—Vaccarello has proven that if you love something, set it free.
Photography ROBBIE FIMMANO
Styling LIZ MCCLEAN
Hairstylist JENNY KIM at M.A.P
Makeup Artist ERIN GREEN at ART DEPARTMENT
Photography CRISTA LEONARD
Styling GABRIELLA NORBERG
Grooming BRADY LEA at STELLA CREATIVE ARTISTS
Model RHYS PICKERING at MODELS 1
A dreamer grounded in reality, Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli uses his enlightened sense of freedom to progressively break the Italian label out from the confines of the past and move it into the present.
By HASSAN AL-SALEH
Photography GREG KESSLER
Pierpaolo Piccioli, creative director of the storied couture house of Valentino, uses fashion as a powerful vernacular to express freedom. The freedom to choose and not adapt to rules or any stereotypes that take away from creativity.
After working for 26 years alongside his longtime creative partner, Maria Grazia Chiuri, first designing accessories at Fendi and then at Valentino before being appointed co-creative directors, Pierpaolo Piccioli has been going it alone at Valentino for the last two years, developing his vision of what fashion means today. While the duo worked harmoniously together to cultivate and synthesize differences, now Piccioli is making Valentino his own; more intimate, more personal.
There is no denying that Valentino has undergone a renaissance, which has propelled the brand back to the forefront of fashion. Its couture DNA has been modernized to fit the contemporary consumer of today. Piccioli’s creative energy is striking in its originality and his thoughtful, intellectual approach to fashion, which explores how humanism can nourish creativity, pushes the couture ideals and traditions of the house forward, into different worlds. Take, for example, the birth of haute athleisure. It is in sportswear that Piccioli finds diversity and unification, which he uses to spread the message of authenticity, individuality, and diversity.
“I really believe in values of freedom and individuality. I think that beauty is about uniqueness. All these values are the values I want to deliver every season with every collection because it is something that I believe in my life and not only in fashion.”
Photography MAXIME POIBLANC
Styling & Set Design DAVID DE QUEVEDO
Grooming MIGUEL LLEDO at ARTLIST NEW YORK
Model JUSTIN PETZSCHKE at SOUL ARTIST MANAGEMENT
Constructing something new from something old, Designer Walid Al Damirji breathes new life into history with his deft approach and multi-layered vision of fashion.
By MAX BERLINGER
Photography TOMO BREJC
In today’s vast, global economy, brands are struggling to break through and be heard. The madness of Fashion Week and the bombardment of images on social media have made it difficult for labels to stand out. Designer Walid Al Damirji, of the label By Walid, has found a way to do just that and it’s not by going bigger, bigger, bigger. It can be done by something as simple as stepping out of the ongoing cycle of newness and looking at something revolutionary: old textiles.
Al Damirji uses old, deadstock, discontinued fabrics and textiles and creates new, hand-crafted, meticulously-made, and stunningly-detailed works. They are garments that mix cultural background and historical references; things that look both like pieces from the distant past and the distant future, clothing that effortlessly mixes eastern and western influences, oftentimes one-of-a-kind and breathtaking in their originality and beauty.
This bold way of working not only allows Al Damirji to create exciting work, it is an ecologically friendly way to participate in the fashion system without creating waste - in fact it does the opposite.
“I love creating something out of what are often shredded remnants. GivING new life to something so discarded yet with a history of its own. It can often be very time consuming and frustrating to produce a series of one of a kind garments. There’s so little that’s tactile in these times.”
Photography SERGE LEBLON
Styling EMIL REBEK
Hairstylist PIERPAOLO LAI
at JULIAN WATSON AGENCY
Model JOSEPH SIGNORET at SUCCESS
Drawing inspiration from the vibrant, underground nightlife of New York, Desi Santiago transforms his Club Kid past into a visceral creative force.
By Hassan Al-Saleh
Multidisciplinary visual artist Desi Santiago is a continuum of reinvention. He first made a name for himself as a 90s New York City Club Kid with his ‘Desi Monster’ alias, then had a brief stint as a jewelry designer. He is now the mastermind behind creating immersive experiences for Opening Ceremony, Loewe, Y-3 and Cartier’s Ecrou de Cartier launch at Salone del Mobile in addition to creating the dynamic onstage narrative for Madonna’s MDNA World Tour. He also conceived theatrical masks and headpieces for the record-breaking Alexander McQueen ‘Savage Beauty’ show at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and for Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton’s retrospective installation at Paris' Musée des Arts Decoratifs. Most recently, he art directed Bruce LaBruce’s film ‘The Misandrists’ and teamed up with Randy Weiner and Ryan Heffington as Production and Costume Designer of the critically-acclaimed theater show ‘Seeing You’. An impressive roster of collaborations that are both visceral and involving.
From set and costume design to editorial and film credits, every project feels like the birth of a cultural movement starting with his New York nightlife heydays. We are just playing catch up.
For the New Jersey born artist of Puerto Rican descent, it is always about seducing the audience and transporting them to a fantastical and otherworldly dreamscape.
“I really like inspiring people and taking them to another place. I consider a lot of my installations like these pockets in reality and of the moment. It’s a physical connection.”
Read the full interview in our latest issue out now.
Photography Philippe Vogelenzang
Styling Ferry Van Der Nat
Model Parker Van Noord at Bananas Models
After taking over Dior Homme ten years ago, Kris Van Assche continues to lead the French couture house toward a brave new world of experimentation, self-expression and liberation.
By Hassan Al-Saleh
Photography Morgan O’Donovan
Over the past decade, the private and methodical Artistic Director of Dior Homme, Kris Van Assche, has created a radically new vocabulary for the illustrious French couture house. The Belgian designer has defined a strong aesthetic of his own by reinventing contemporary tailoring, imbuing sartorial suiting with street-cool edge with great rigor and skill.
Expressing Monsieur Christian Dior’s modernist and anti-conformist spirit, Van Assche believes that one needs to reinvent to stay relevant and that could not be more true of his tenure at Dior Homme. After weathering the early storms of his appointment and putting his eponymous label on hiatus, he has come into his own during what can only be categorized as a boundary-breaking journey at Dior. By consistently presenting a study of contrasts through a conscientious balance between heritage and innovation, Van Assche has gained subversive power against storied codes.
As Van Assche explains, he has transformed Dior Homme and Dior Homme has transformed him.
“It has taken me some time to believe that the significance of what we are doing could affect and inspire people outside the industry.”
Read the full interview in our latest issue out now.
Photography Mariano Vivanco
Styling Teddy Czopp
Model Jacob Hankin at Soul Artist Management
Grooming Ali Pirzadeh at CLM
Stylist Assistant Maya Pambagiun
Gucci’s Alessandro Michele enlists the talents of visual artists for a string of high-profile collaborations to build a community that embraces his creative genius and signature eccentricity.
By Max Berlinger
Photography Coco Capitán
It’s no secret that Alessandro Michele created a revolution when he took over the Italian behemoth Gucci as Creative Director, back in 2015. His androgynous, bookish maximalism has swept the fashion industry by storm, causing competitors to play catch up to his ornate and eccentric take on luxury. From his fur-lined slippers to graffiti-style logo T-shirts to his embroidered denim, Michele is a virtual hit machine, cranking out covetable must-haves season after season, seemingly never lacking for inspiration.
Michele, who has many times waxed poetic on philosophy, has tapped visual artists a few times during his short tenure, each with delightful results. The most recent collaboration, unveiled during the Fall-Winter 2017 collection, is with artist Coco Capitán.
“Fashion and art are mutually informed by one another, and they are really part of a connected dialogue.”
Read the full article in our latest issue out now.
Photography Zeb Daemen
Styling Gabriella Norberg
Model Julian Schneyder at New Madison
Photography Marius Hansen
Set Design Annette Masterman
Model Bertie Pearce at Elite Model Management
Grooming Samantha Cooper at Carol Hayes
First Assistant Photographer Richard Turner
Véronique Nichanian, the longtime Artistic Director of the Hermès Men’s Universe, has redefined luxury menswear by capturing timeless values with contemporary design.
By Hassan Al-Saleh
Photography Ilaria Orsini
Behind every successful man is a woman and that could not be more true of the Hermès man and the woman behind him, Véronique Nichanian. For almost 30 years, the Artistic Director of the Men’s Universe has been designing for an ever-evolving man who is sensitive to quality, details, and exceptional fabrics. The result is timeless allure and purity; living proof that fashion can defy seasons and trends.
Nichanian’s pragmatic approach to menswear coupled with her penchant for innovation and craftsmanship, gives her a refreshingly clear focus on what both menswear and luxury needs to be today. She juxtaposes the old with the new to push the Hermès brand forward without losing its core DNA.
According to Nichanian, fashion is not something totalitarian. Instead, her philosophy centers on men developing a special, invisible bond to their clothes. She seduces the senses of sight and touch through a meticulous design process informed by color and fabric.
For a brand permanently inscribed in the lexicon of luxury goods, Nichanian believes that Hermès has to be a positive force, bringing strength and happiness to fashion.
“Luxury does not mean anything anymore. I think it’s about being demanding of what we propose to men and the way we do things. Luxury should be about proposing the best we can propose from our soul and from our heart.”
Read the full interview in our latest issue out now.
Alessandro Sartori’s interplay with the other arts and mediums serves as a preview of his modern-day vision for Ermenegildo Zegna.
By Jon Roth
Photography Patrick Fraser
You wouldn’t expect to find a sought-after Italian designer like Alessandro Sartori knocking around in the middle of the Texas desert. The context is all wrong, the setting feels like a glitch. But then Sartori has never been interested in merely meeting expectations. And so in between his comeback show and his second collection as Artistic Director at Ermenegildo Zegna, he made time for a project with longtime friend, dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied.
Sartori knows that fashion can’t exist in a vacuum - that a designer’s mind works best when it’s in dialogue with other artists, responding to their ideas and their output. His partnership with Millepied is just the first page of a new chapter for Ermenegildo Zegna, proof that a modern designer doesn’t just make clothes, he makes aesthetic statements, no matter what the medium.
Read the full article in our latest issue out now.
By Kurt Markus & Eric Hansen
Photography Kurt Markus
What began in 1996 as a magazine assignment quickly became an obsession. Yemen hooked me, hard. I went back, on my own dime, for the following three years. I covered the various, distinctive regions, lost in the rush of discovery. That’s the way I felt, as if I was the only photographer to fall in love with this wonderful landscape and people. Each of the four trips took me to the limits of my endurance, both physically and emotionally. Nothing came easily. I packed a large 4x5” format camera and lenses, making photographs as if they were carved out of stone. No snapshots, just pure, unmanipulated images. No shortcuts, one picture at a time, often surrounded by a couple hundred villagers, clamoring to see what I was doing.
With me was the great travel writer Eric Hansen. Whenever we traveled together, I did the pictures and Eric told the story. We were brothers.
From the beginning, we knew our goal: to create a unique body of work that deserved to be showcased in exhibitions and a book that would travel to major institutions. But the world changed in 2001. Eric put away his notebooks and I stopped printing, although by this time I had made over 400 exhibit-quality prints. The archive has sat on shelves for 20 years, waiting for a right time to bring the archive out of darkness.
Now, the time is right. Maybe these photographs and stories will go some distance to heal what separates us. Maybe we can find common ground. A world without violence.
The central purpose of this body of work is to introduce Yemen to a worldwide audience; and in the process, serve as an evocative and lasting tribute to a unique culture in the midst of political, social and economic change that is presently sweeping across Yemen and the rest of the Middle East.
Yemen is an ancient country, situated at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. Largely unknown to most of the Western world, Yemen is a place unto itself - a land of warriors, poets and builders. Even compared to other Middle East countries, Yemen is unique. It is populated by proud, independent people who consider themselves the aristocrats of the Islamic world. In addition to history and culture, the visual impact of Yemen is powerful: stark, hauntingly beautiful landscapes, medieval looking cities with their whimsical brick, stone and adobe architecture, and mountain slopes sculpted with undulating stone terraced fields. It is all the work of thousands of years.
Tom Ford’s preternatural love of film has transformed the celebrated fashion designer into an honored filmmaker with an arresting vernacular that intrigues and inspires audiences of both worlds.
By Hassan Al Saleh
Tom Ford is a model of reinvention. With impeccable taste and meticulous, unmatched attention to detail, image-making has always been his forte. The genius re-imaging of Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent with bold, controversial and hedonistic campaigns will forever be a cornerstone in fashion history. Therefore, it came as no surprise when he stunned the film world with his 2009 directorial debut of A Single Man starring Colin Firth and Julian Moore. The film was a critical sensation, earning Oscar, Golden Globes and BAFTA nominations.
Seven years later, Ford made lightning strike twice with his spectacular second cinematic work, Nocturnal Animals starring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal.
It won top prize at the Venice Film Festival and garnered Golden Globes, BAFTA and Oscar nods, affirming his remarkable storytelling acumen that is intelligent, powerfully moving and artistically thought-provoking.
Simply put, Tom Ford is a rarity in every sense of the word. He injects the same artistic vision and brilliant sartorial splendor of his fashion designs into the painfully beautiful and sumptuous films he writes, produces and directs. We sat down with the man himself to understand how and where the realms of fashion and film collide.
“For me film really is the ultimate design project. I think fashion does have permanence – you can go to a museum and see something created – but I don’t think that it necessarily affects you in the same way as a film.” – Tom Ford
Anthony Vaccarello bravely takes on one of fashion’s most illustrious legacies at Saint Laurent.
By Max Berlinger
Imagery Nathalie Canguilhem
For most designers who take over a storied brand like Yves Saint Laurent, it’s part of the job to deal with the founder’s legacy and at YSL, that legacy casts a long shadow. Yves Saint Laurent is one of the most prolific designers of the 20th century, a man who firmly moved clothing into the modern era, a man who was obsessed with making clothing that was made for living, not just couture made for society of ladies. It has been said that no designer has ever been closer to godliness, in the eyes of the fashion industry, and specifically the French, than he.
But Italian-Belgian fashion designer Anthony Vaccarello, who was named Creative Director of the iconic French brand in April 2016, has to also wrestle with the tenure of his immediate predecessor, Hedi Slimane, whose rock ’n’ roll energy sent critics wringing their hands but sent consumers to the stores, happily buying the ineffable style of cool proffered on the runway.
“If you attempt to do the amazing things he did, the incredible things he brought to fashion, you will never re-create the past, so you always have to think of the now for Yves Saint Laurent. It’s not even really thinking about the future with this house: it always has to be about the now.” – Anthony Vaccarello
Photography Robert Fimmano
Styling Andrew Mukamal
Models David Alexander Flinn at the Lions
Grace Corton at Soul Artist Management
Digital Tech Dean Podmore
Photography Assistant Timothy Shin
Stylist Assistant Chris Lee
Makeup Artist Seong Hee Park at Julian Watson Agency
Hairstylist Bok Hee at Streeters
Set Designer Holli Featherstone at Mary Howard Studio
Photography Coppi Barbieri
Set Design Kelly Russell
Dries van Noten’s proud independence has transformed his eponymous fashion house into a beacon of creative ingenuity and intellectual integrity in living color.
By Max Berlinger
Belgian cult fashion designer Dries van Noten first showed his work in 1986, as part of the powerful collective known as The Antwerp Six. Since then, as the industry has unfurled in an explosion of globalization, van Noten has remained a man apart from the madness, maintaining his aesthetic tinged with timeless eclecticism and nostalgia.
Today, as corporate collectives like Kering and LVMH snap up big brands, van Noten remains the Chief Executive and Creative Director of his business, which still remains headquartered in Antwerp. This autonomy has helped inform his work, which mixes a sense of athleticism and wistful romanticism into an undeniably cool, intellectual look.
“I have always believed that economic independence informs and sustains creative independence, a principle of my work. My parents set an example in that they owned their own retail ready-to-wear business. Besides this, I have always enjoyed all of the aspects of my business as one's attention drawn to one area can be a welcome respite from another. It is clear, too, that getting clothes made as an independent company in these days of vertical integration is increasingly important.” – Dries van Noten
Photography Pablo Saez
Styling Gabriella Norberg
Model Felix Gesnouin at View Management
Hairstylist Carol Guzman at Kasteel Artist Management
First Assistant Photographer Fede Delibes
Second Assistant Photographer German Gomez Criado
Stylist Assistant Cesar Sanchez
Belgian-born Moroccan makeup artist Sammy Mourabit masterfully peers into the soul of his subjects to blur the line between the familiar and the fantastic.
By Jon Roth
Photography Steven Klein
Almost from the beginning, Sammy Mourabit has been fascinated with the human face: its textures and contours, the angle of a cheekbone or the jut of a jaw. Certainly, that’s evident in his massive body of work. Over the past 30 years, the makeup artist has left few facets of the visual world untouched - taking his vaunted talents from the old-world tradition of opera and ballet to the glossy sheen of fashion editorials. But even before he picked up a brush, Mourabit was an earnest student of the human form. In his earliest years, he seriously considered becoming a plastic surgeon.
Years of experience have given him a wide-ranging skillset, from wig making and prosthetics to stage makeup and runway-ready looks.
There’s too much work to summarize it neatly. But it may be in film where his talents shine most
Mourabit moves deftly between the outlandish and the approachable. He does this because he’s a professional who can read a client’s needs, sure, but he’s an empath who can read his subjects, too.
“I listen to their soul and their pain and create a visual that fits them perfectly. It all depend who is sitting in front of me. It's a powerful process, that exchange between two human beings.” – Sammy Mourabit
Fendi’s foray into the restorative arts underscores its deep pride in its Made in Italy heritage.
By Radhina Almeida Coutinho
Photography Matteo Piazza
Two intertwined bronze trees holding an 11-tonne sculpted block of marble by celebrated Italian avant-garde artist Giuseppe Penone took residence at Lago Goldoni outside the Palazzo Fendi, a gift from the luxury fashion house to the Eternal City in which it was born a little more than 90 years ago.
The sculpture called “Leaves of Stone” is the latest in a series of projects supported by Fendi that put art and architecture front and center of the brand’s community initiatives – notably revolving around monuments and artists that are iconically Italian.
Penone has described “Leaves of Stone” in a language that evokes a similar concept. He speaks of the sculpture as “something that changes and develops in response to the elements, like a three-dimensional drawing, with nature as the ultimate draughtsman. The oxidized bronze will eventually color the white marble, which is like a blank sheet of paper waiting to be written on over time.”
Photography Marius W. Hansen
Set Design Annette Masterman
Photographer Nicola de Cecchi
Set Assistant Ali Bailon
Creative Director Christopher Bailey takes the iconic British heritage brand Burberry gallantly into the future.
By Max Berlinger
Despite fashion’s obsession with the new, in many ways, it can be an industry that is cautious about trying new things. Take, for example, the fashion calendar, which dictates that brands show their collections to press and store buyers a full six months before they’re available to customers. It’s been this way for the entirety of the modern fashion era, and the timing made sense to give labels time to take orders and then fill them. Those days are gone. Thanks to the Internet, average fashion fans are now able to access the images at the same time (if not sooner) than magazine editors and store buyers. Blogs are able to report on the season before traditional media is able to. Buyers, quite frankly, are bored of the clothing they saw six months ago by the time they land in stores.
There’s a reason that fashion is reluctant to change: it’s hard. Huge corporations can’t easily reimagine the logistics of a supply and demand chain they’ve relied on for the sum total of their existence. And yet Burberry, despite its enormity as a company (not to mention cultural presence) is dedicating itself to adapting, as it has since the dawn of the digital age, thanks to its Creative Director Christopher Bailey.
Despite its heritage and its size, the company has been quick to embrace technology to help spread its message. It was one of the first brands to livestream its runway shows, starting back with its Spring-Summer 2010 show, and to offer customers at home a chance to purchase pieces they see on the catwalk from the comfort of their own home, just click and go.
This season, Burberry made a huge leap, and decided to close the six month gap between the unveiling of its seasonal collection and selling it, adopting a nascent business plan in the industry called by many, “see now, buy now”. During September, when many other brands were showing their Spring-Summer 2017 shows, Bailey showed his Fall-Winter 2016 collection, which was made immediately available via its own stores across the globe and selected retail partners, like Barneys New York in the United States, and MR PORTER online.
“For an industry that loves moving forward - that’s about newness and inspiring people -how can we not be excited about the thing that has changed every one of our lives?” – Christopher Bailey
More than 20 years since his debut film Kids, Larry Clark turns his singular lens on Dior Homme.
By Jon Roth
Photography Larry Clark
There they go, strutting ahead, long and lanky, cocky in the way that only teenage boys can be. Behind them, the Art Deco bas-relief of the Palais de Tokyo. Before them, skateboarders speed and spin, held aloft less by physics than sheer exuberance. The boys walk on, talking with their heads down, laughing, looking up here and there to smirk, to wink. They loaf together on a stone ledge, legs dangling. It looks like they’ll live forever young.
No one captures surly, rambunctious youth like Larry Clark.
The auteur has just created a short film in collaboration with Dior Homme, a skate-centric montage of sudden jump cuts, shaky close-ups and superimposed imagery meant to highlight the release of seven new sneakers. And sure, we see the shoes, but the focus is much broader than that. Mostly, we see four models, and the skaters surrounding them, inhabiting the space outside the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris.
It’s a fitting subject and setting for Dior, and particularly for Dior Homme’s Artistic Director Kris Van Assche, who has worked diligently to reconcile the fashion house’s historic roots with the forward-thinking vitality of youth culture.
"Larry Clark is intimately linked to the youth culture of my generation, and for this reason he is one of the indelible references in my inspiration. It has been an honor and a pleasure to be able work on this project with him." – Kris Van Assche
It might be the innate Dutch ability for effortless ease tinged with flashes of mad ingenuity, but Lucas Ossendrijver has inadvertently shaped the defining look of 21st century men’s fashion.
By Radhina Almeida Coutinho
Photograhy James Bort
He has described himself as the master of the reserved. No obvious gimmicky references, no muses, no forced attempts at creating a defined “look”.
Instead, what Head of Menswear at Lanvin, Lucas Ossendrijver, has consistently preached during his decade at the high fashion French label is his desire to create a complete wardrobe – one that naturally fits any man, in any situation. Comfortable and confident in its individuality – it’s the ability to wear a suit with sneakers and still look elegant that is the mark of the modern man.
Having grown up in the Dutch country around Utrecht, watching his father build up his lumberyard and construction business, Ossendrijver has said that he always knew he wanted to work with his hands. It’s a way of working that has stuck with him – Ossendrijver is known for employing a very intuitive and tactile approach to creating his designs – one that exercises instinct and develops organically rather than strictly from a drawing board.
“I try to touch people through my collections and bring the passion that we have for making clothes to the customer.” – Lucas Ossendrijver
Photography Philippe Vogelenzang
Styling Peghah Maleknejad
Simon Nessman at Soul Artist Management
Anna Mila at IMG Models
Paul Donovan at CLM Hair and Make-Up
Jo Frost at CLM Hair and Make-Up
Manicurist Trish Lomax
Digital Assistant Robert Self
Producer Sandra Gormley
In just a few short years, Irish designer Jonathan Anderson is taking the Spanish brand Loewe from sleepy traditionalist to cutting-edge newsmaker.
By Max Berlinger
Photography Steven Miesel
Jonathan Anderson looks innocent, but the way he has imposed himself on the fashion landscape with willful determination suggests that there’s something fiery beneath his boyish facade. And the results are hard to ignore. At his own eponymous label, JW Anderson, the 32-year-old designer has become known for his wildly innovative and intellectually challenging collections which feature his prescient penchant for asexual wardrobes where he blends men’s and women’s garments with aplomb. So it was something of a shock to the industry when the news was announced, in 2013, that the designer would be taking the reins at the iconic Spanish brand Loewe, a much more conservative label on the fashion landscape.
Loewe was founded in 1846, originally as a cooperative of leatherworkers in Madrid. The brand’s Spanish heritage, artisanal history, and focus on leather accessories have remained central aspects to the brand. Yet when Anderson presented his first collection, a menswear collection for the Spring-Summer 2015 season, he made it clear that he would be relying less on history than on transformation.
“Brands need to move at the speed the world does, and today that is fast. We live in the era of content. We put something on Instagram and it gets reposted and it’s everywhere and a minute later it’s gone, over. I don’t see that as a negative thing; it’s the way my mind works, too. It’s not just about consumers not getting bored of the brand, it’s about me not getting bored of it.”
– Jonathan Anderson
One of the most influential figures shaping modern menswear, Kim Jones’ perpetual wanderlust has built a powerful narrative for the venerable house of Louis Vuitton over the last five years.
By Hassan Al-Saleh
Photography Kim Jones
Kim Jones has been a voracious international explorer since the age of three months old, when he and his family moved to Ecuador. He has not stopped traversing the planet since, with the stated intention of visiting every country in the world. The London-born Men’s Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton has collected, and continues to collect, a globe’s worth of references that feed his wondrous imagination and have helped him build the menswear collections he designs for the Parisian megabrand Louis Vuitton, into major seasonal statements. Very becoming for a brand founded on a steamer trunk and where travel is the essence of its soul.
During his 5 years at Louis Vuitton, Jones has given the menswear collections a real fashion identity, doing “interpretations of himself” with worldly intelligence and a trademark mix of youthful irreverence, through the language of culture. It is his ability to move between worlds that has made a profound impact on luxury menswear, fusing formal with casual and ingraining sportswear in the modern man’s wardrobe.
“Of course, travel is a huge inspiration. Besides the discovery of techniques, fabrics, crafts that is crucial in my work especially at Louis Vuitton, traveling is a massive part of the modern life.” – Kim Jones
Bottega Veneta may be the original proponent of the no-logo philosophy, but Creative Director Tomas Maier will definitely leave an indelible mark.
By Radhina Almeida Coutinho
There’s something to be said for a 50-year old brand breaking with tradition at the very moment it pays tribute to its past.
Bottega Veneta brought together its men’s and women’s collections on the same catwalk for the very first time at its Spring-Summer 2017 show in Milan. It was a deliberate choice that many believe heralds the brand’s desire to confidently embrace its future.
In between the rich leathers, crinkled lamé biker jackets, silk suits and moleskin pants that graced the runway, the models paraded 15 classic archival bags alongside 15 brand new designs - a mirror tribute that was fitting for a twin celebration - 50 years of Bottega Veneta and 15 years with Creative Director Tomas Maier at its helm.
“When I joined the house it was losing its identity and roots, so I instituted our four cornerstones of outstanding craftsmanship, timeless yet innovative design, contemporary functionality and the highest quality materials.” – Tomas Maier
Syrian-born Swedish artist Jwan Yosef is shattering boundaries with his innate raw talent and structural vision of art that conveys a greater and purer expression of today’s modern existence.
By Hassan Al-Saleh
Photography Tomo Brejc
To conceptual artist, Jwan Yosef, subtlety is intellect. Since graduating from Central Saint Martins in London, he has honed his craft of layered simplicity with great dexterity to evolve his figurative work to almost “hyper minimal” but equally self-referential. The unpretentious complexity of his work is filled with an unabashed sense of intimacy. Strong with purpose, the simplicity is captivating, seducing even, with expressions of mystery that heighten intrigue and ignite the imagination.
A prolific painter of beautiful abstractions, his relationship with art supplies and materials - and his attempt to make sense of their purpose and value in contemporary art - has become a defining quality of his work. He brushes his canvas with broad strokes of commentary on dualisms, absence, acceptance, identity, gender, and sexuality in today’s modern existence. In an era of blurred lines, Jwan bends the boundaries of mediums to transcend form and function.
Born in Syria, raised in Sweden and now living in London as he prepares to move to Los Angeles, Jwan describes himself as a modern-day gypsy. He does not conform to Arab or Scandinavian archetypes and considers himself a foreigner wherever he goes. We caught up with him in his studio in London just before his first solo show at Stene Projects in Stockholm entitled “Masking”.
“The platform for art is certainly shifting; it’s becoming somewhat more loose and fluid, somehow maybe more digitalized, less dependent of actual objects.” – Jwan Yosef
Photography Mariano Vivanco
Styling Hassan Al-Saleh
Hairstylist James Brown
Makeup Artist Alex Babsky
First Assistant Tomas Hein
Digital Robert Self
Casting Director Paul Isaac
Stylist Assistant Sayuri Bloom
Set Designer Trish Stephenson
Producer Junietsy De Marcos
Photography Coppi Barbieri
Art Direction Luca De Salvia
Styling Johanne Mills
Photography Stewart Shining
Styling Andrew Holden
Jesse Gwin at Soul Artist Management and Impy at Next Models
Hairstylist Davy Newkirk
Makeup Artist Matthew Vanleeunwen
First Assistant Andrew Roque
Stylist Assistant Mel Eligon
Production Walter Schupfer Management
Photographer Damnien Ropero
First Assistant Andres Guillard
When it comes to holding up a mirror to the present day, no one does it better than the visionary and founder of intellectual fashion Miuccia Prada.
By Radhina Almeida Coutinho
When Miuccia Prada presented the Fall-Winter 2016 collection of her eponymous label at Milan Fashion Week, it seemed as if she transported an entire human city in flight straight onto the catwalk. The thrown-together look of the ensembles was palpable – long coats belted over brocade gowns, cagoules paraded alongside fur coats, hemmed trousers cut as though the wearer expected to walk through a damp field, sneaker-clad feet tramping alongside leather dress shoes.
The overall image would have seemed unsettlingly familiar to those we have watched repeatedly on our television screens in recent months – that of a crowd on the move.
But then Miuccia Prada has never shied away from tackling the issues of today. Her boundary-pushing aesthetic, bordering at times on the avant-garde, is deeply rooted in the reality of these tumultuous times we live in.
“We need to understand who we are now…Maybe it’s useful to look back to the different characteristic moments, difficulties, love, no love, pain, happiness... this was the main concept,” said Mrs. Prada.
The overall impression is one of world-weary individuals who had journeyed through the rough and had emerged on the other side.
The storied house of Valentino embraces genderless clothing with a capsule collection of unisex basics.
By Max Berlinger
Valentino is accommodating a new generation who doesn’t get hung up by men’s clothing versus women’s. But it is handled in a way that feels true to the brand, with the release of the 12 piece collection, titled Rockstud Untitled.
“We wanted to render the unisex items unique, we therefore worked on the Rockstud Untitled Collection and on the idea that signs are the element that make objects and human beings unique,” said Piccioli. “We used golden studs to render the items immediately recognizable.”
The collection, which takes its inspiration from the Japanese idea of wabi-sabi, or the concept that things find perfection in their imperfections, is part of the brand’s Fall-Winter 2016 offering. The designs lean on classic items, with most of the fripperies stripped away, leaving each garment and accessory represented at its essence and instead of traditional labels, they’re merely identified by numbers, one through 12. These are, in a sense, Valentino’s idea of a core wardrobe, pieces that aren’t tied to a particular season or gender or even country or aesthetic, they are just iconic items that every person should own.
After a short hiatus from the industry, designer Khalid Al Qasimi is back with a deeply personal menswear brand that confronts the issues of today’s world.
By Max Berlinger
Photography Brett Lloyd
In fashion, things are rarely easy. No one knows this better than Khalid Al Qasimi, the designer who took a break from his namesake brand in 2013, to rest and redouble his efforts for his re-launch, with a focus on menswear and aspirations to transform Qasimi into a lifestyle brand.
Qasimi, who was born in the United Arab Emirates and now lives in the United Kingdom has drawn on both places as inspiration for his deeply personal, elegantly romantic designs. His background as an architect has also come into play, wherein Qasimi takes traditional garments and imbues them with touches from his childhood, adding a flow and lyricism to slouchy pants, embroidered knitwear, and keen eye for color. The Central Saint Martins graduate employs a disciplined approach to creating menswear though a unique perspective that sparks dialogue with his signature trademark of blending cultures, social issues and politics in fashion.
“I feel that it is extremely important to discuss and debate my cultural background and the political discourse that surrounds it. The media is generally very biased towards a certain agenda and it is key for me to voice my views through this medium. I hope that we can all begin to work together to get a better understanding of each other’s cultures and beliefs and that we can find a lasting solution to the conflicts going on around the world today” – Khalid Al Qasimi
We speak with the designer about his inspirations, how his upbringing has influenced his aesthetic, and the most difficult part about working in the fashion industry today.