Some of my favourite photos at the moment. Apologies for the lack of meatier posts and personal style photos…my day job’s crazy these days and I’m taking on a lot of new projects outside of work that I probably don’t have time for. But when I’m stressed, there’s nothing that makes me feel calmer and more inspired than a quick perusal through my inspiration folder. Happy Friday, everyone!
There is something deliciously perverse about thick layers of knit stripped away to reveal naked, alabaster skin. Perhaps it’s because sweaters have never been thought of as a particularly sexy garment. They’re that thick and nubby outer layer your mom made you wear in the weeks after October hit, likely embroidered with an unsightly print.
Of course, thoughtful styling and beautiful editorials are impactful because they subvert our expectations, and the way designers and stylists are using sweaters this season is a long way from how your mom dressed you in them when you were a kid. The sweater dressing of now, as seen in this recent editorial from Tank magazine, and on the runways of The Row, Edun, and Calvin Klein, are elegant, dramatic, and usually monochrome. No longer interested in merely knitting tops, designers are going all sorts of wacky and applying the cozy texture to everything from skirts to dresses to pants. Us Northerners with the insane winters couldn’t be happier about it.
Something I’ve had to come to terms with in recent years: when your wardrobe consists of primarily blacks, whites, and neutrals, you have to get a little creative when injecting your winter wardrobe with a lil’ zest. You can wear comically large pants with tiny tops. You can channel Lenny Kravitz and wear a scarf that’s dangerously close to swallowing you whole. Or you can opt for a subtler technique and play with contrasting textures in your ensembles.
There probably isn’t a texture more different from the cozy knitwear than the decidedly un-cozy, industrial polyethylene. While the sweater is essential for colder seasons, experts aren’t quite sure what seasons polyethylene, otherwise known as the common plastic, is most suitable for. What is known is that polyethylene looks dope when draped effortlessly, its sheen both delightfully tacky and attention grabbing. If you’re into fashion trolling the public with your outfits, try pairing a luxurious cashmere cardigan with a dress that looks suspiciously like a garbage bag.
This mini editorial, also copped from Tank, reminded me of a summertime favourite, my Jeremy Laing polyethylene dress. I will report back with pics once I figure out an elegant way of wearing shower curtains in November.
Images via Tank
Where do I begin with Yang Li? Born in Beijing, raised in Perth, Central Saint Martins dropout, former intern of Raf Simons and Gareth Pugh. This impressive 24 year-old designer has proven only after a few seasons that his minimalist designs are what grown women with sophisticated tastes want to wear, myself being one of them.
Li is unabashedly honest about his approach to design. Dismissive of the his alma mater’s (and much of the industry’s) preoccupation with “original design”, Li prefers to think of himself as a DJ/producer, sampling from a variety of sources to make a totally new track. You definitely get that sense when you’re looking at his signature blend of classic tailoring and avant garde shapes. There are familiar techniques and silhouettes, but the result is always modern and impeccably made.
Yang Li’s methodical way of thinking about design and his influences is refreshing, especially in an industry that has long had an inferiority complex about not being thought of as art. Sure, there’s lots of designers out there making garments that are highly artistic, but make no mistake about it: the end goal of fashion is always profit. Li’s devotion to making high quality clothes that are wearable (and will sell) but still pack an element of romanticism is making plenty of influential stockists take notice. Shops like 10 Corso Como, LN-CC, and Dover Street Market all carry his designs. I’m crossing my fingers that soon those of us in the 6ix can see his clothes in person at The Room, or perhaps at 119 Corbo.
South Korean-raised and Ryerson U graduate Rani Kim showed one of my favourite collections from the recent World Mastercard Fashion Week here in Toronto. While most designers opted for familiar trends like all white and fringe, Kim approached her collection from a less predictable and more playful angle, using graphic prints of geometric shapes and sourcing materials in earthy neutrals and steely blues. Smooth, matte silks were juxtaposed with coated nylon that packed a lot of shine. Models kept it unfussy and wore unisex Korean rubber shoes (called gomushin).
Of course, like a lot of garments I’m drawn to these days, a number of pieces from Rani’s collection featured mesh sheaths, but in ways I didn’t always expect. Rather than worn alone with plenty of fearless nipple action, Rani layered them on top of other fabrics in order to create the look of a whole new material. The result is fun, maybe a little crafty, but always eye-catching. I like how the overall vibe of her SS15 is part tribal (because of the olives and browns), part futuristic fantasy (because of the textures and prints). The clothes have an easygoing, undone quality to them, like something you’d wear while planting trees or lounging on your couch. Kim was motivated to make clothes she can bike in, which excited me way too much, as a daily commuter cyclist.
Kim currently works full time as a production design assistant at Joe Fresh and prouces her own garments in her free time. Her background in menswear, her time spent working under Jeremy Laing and Astrid Andersen, have all influenced her tremendously to become one of a handful of working Canadian designers making utilitarian, androgynous clothes that also pack a lot of interesting design. I tend to bemoan a lot of big names in Canadian fashion as dull and uninspired. Here’s hoping that Kim quits her day job soon to focus on her own work, without ditching our cold and, at times, creatively stunted city.
Images vis rankbyranikim.com
The Guaranty Trust Bank Lagos Fashion and Design Week is the preeminent showcase for Nigerian designers. Over the first week of this month fashion insiders descended upon the burgeoning fashion and creative scene in Lagos to take in the latest talent. The annual event, now in its fourth year, is a launching pad for independent designers, importantly situated in the economic epicenter of the continent. It’s where Nigerian fashion label Maki Oh gained international recognition and a loyal following and it’s no doubt where future visionaries’ careers are being paved this year. Browse all the collections here (psst to the dudes: Adeju Thompson‘s line is especially wicked).
(All photos via Lagos Fashion & Design Week)
I just can’t get into working out. Sure, being trim and toned is nice. I like the idea of putting in work to better my body and push myself to become stronger, but the execution leaves me cold. Or rather, sweaty and cranky and as red as an heirloom tomato.
What’s much easier to get behind, though, is wearing clothes designed for working out. This was something I didn’t really understand until maybe a year ago. Being brought up in a family of dorks, I viewed the athletics and everything related to it with complete derision. So I missed out on the luxury of wearing clothes made from fabrics that breathe when I’m hot and insulate when I’m cold. My childhood was sweaty, ok?
These adidas track pants do exactly that, and since purchasing them it has been extremely difficult not to wear them everyday. I can no longer say with confidence that skinny jeans are comfy. Just last week alone, I wore these three times. Because they’re a simple black and white, they go with pretty much anything. It’s a very sporty look, no doubt, and incorporating them into your daily wardrobe can be challenging at first. Unlike the slouchy black and white trousers from the high street that’s merely inspired by activewear, this is the shit real athletes who play real sports wear. Or, like, high school boys.
Above: No. 21 A/W 2014
Above: Christopher Kane A/W 2014
It’s Fall! Everyone’s favourite cozy layering season and fashion media’s cue to dig deep, back into its collective memory to try and remember what went down the Autumn/Winter 2014 runways way back in early Spring. It used to make sense for the fashion-concerned to take care to follow trends, find It-pieces, and look forward to runway influences eventually trickling down to mass market retailers once the seasons had lapsed. I can remember a time not so long ago when fashion was slower and toed the line of designers’ visions and editors’ seasonal picks. Especially vivid is the stranglehold boho-chic’s particular vapidity had on the fashion industry — I remember it so well because it coincided with the year I started my first real adult job. I saved a lot of disposable income steering clear of shop after shop filled with the same bland faux-hippie offerings. I remember wishing I had bought more basics during the seasons previous when mod reigned supreme at Club Monaco and on the sales racks at Holt Renfrew Last Call, worrying about the scarcity of miniskirts and turtlenecks in the brave new boho world.
Above: Sharon Wauchob A/W 2014
Then the recession happened and the fashion industry catapulted into a fevered pitch of consumerism. Fast fashion picked up speed, online retailers started making their presence known, streetstyle photography and the proliferation of fashion blogs satiated the fashion-hungry masses, events called Fashion’s Night Out spread across big shopping cities around the globe, and all these moving parts contributed to the massive, churning contemporary fashion industry and what is too often coined its “democratization.”
Above: Emilio de la Morena A/W 2014
Ceding power to mass retailers and hobbyist fashion enthusiasts did not bode well with industry insiders until they learnt to use amateurs to their advantage and made aspects of accessibility through social media and designer collaborations incredibly lucrative. At the height of recession panic, designers were interested in reforming the established fashion week schedule and the timing of retail clothing delivery to better coincide with consumers’ pace of consumption of not only goods, but also information about fashion.
Above: Marchesa A/W 2014
Now half a decade since Donna Karan heralded the fashion industry’s own demise, you can really see the incredible changes that mass retailers have wrought on an unresponsive fashion establishment. Just today, November 12, 2014, I received an email (that went straight to spam, mind you) from Style.com entitled “45 of Spring’s Best Accessories!” Ok, that exclamation was my own addition, but, seriously. 45 accessories for Spring [!]. Are there even enough days in Spring to wear all of the featured accessories? Do readers have enough untold millions to spend on them? Furthermore, unless the accessories you’re trying to hock via email in mid-autumn are keeping my cheeks from getting frostbitten, your content is utterly irrelevant and will be completely forgotten by Spring.
Above: Tod’s A/W 2014
While the fashion industry continues its loopy scheduling, it risks being completely overshadowed by a maniacally efficient fast fashion industry that regurgitates runway looks and has garments in consumers’ hands before designers might even begin mass-producing pieces they’ve just shown. Zara stands out as the most monstrously zealous of all the fast fashion companies – it designs 40,000 new products annually and produces about 10,000 of those in a plethora of colours and sizes. While the fashion chain keeps prices relatively accessible, its constant pushing and pulling of products encourages impulse purchases and drives a kind of exclusivity — shoppers know items won’t be there long and opt to buy runway looks long before their mimicked original even gets to luxury department stores. The pace of fast fashion is what has perhaps most influenced fashion media and the inane “45 Best Summer Heels that go with the Season’s Hottest Hemline” listicles we read in the dead of winter.
Above: Christian Dior A/W 2014
As a result of not only the current over-saturation of fashion marketing and commerce, but also the incredible lag in time between the presentation of designers’ lines and the seasons they’re meant to be worn in, the idea of any kind of definitive guide to fashion seasons has become obsolete. In my own attempt to look back at my meticulously plotted out Excel spreadsheets tracking trends from A/W 2014 fashion weeks, my efforts to put forth any kind of guide were quashed by fuzzy memories of lines I was surprised to revisit, it’d felt so long ago. Among my neatly kept list of favourites (all of which I’ve captured pictorially in this post) there is no real abiding trend or style. Bulky coats in every fabric under the rainbow is the closest I could come up with. How about “45 Bulky Coats in Every Fabric under the Rainbow for Fall” – damn, I could write content for Style.com!
Above: Anthony Vaccarello A/W 2014
Ultimately, in attempting to survey Fall trends we’ve ended up taking stock of the utter dysfunction embedded in an industry that attempts to court artists, but lets corporations get away with the merciless over-production of copied goods. And ultimately, I’ve surrendered: this Fall (and every season after), wear anything!
Above: Honor A/W 2014
Credit: If you’re interested in the business side of fashion (as well as the history, culture, and theory that envelopes fashion), you would do well to subscribe to Jason Hirschhorn’s FashionREDEF daily newsletter. The impeccably curated links come to your inbox every morning and broach a range of subjects that inspired this post.
Above: Zimmermann A/W 2014
White utility socks worn with kitten heels. Grecian pink dress paired with killer combat boots. A dramatic ankle-grazing gown painted with—probably the last thing you’d expect on a gown—90s grunge flames. A printed mesh maxi skirt with Air Force 1s. Always Air Force 1s.
I’ve been collecting street style snaps of Harper’s Bazaar Germany‘s style editor, Veronika Heilbrunner for about five years now. Like a lot of the fashion industry insiders whose personal style I’ve come to respect, I didn’t really notice my fandom until way after the fact, which makes sense. We all have styles we are drawn to and we tend to take inspiration from the same people over and over again, even when we don’t recognize the face.
Being a loyal reader of this blog, you might not immediately guess that Veronika‘s feminine style would be so appealing to me. Case in point: I’m wearing Adidas track paints right now. Although monochrome and sporty might be the style tip I’m on these days, there’s no telling how my tastes will change in a year. As A$AP Rocky says, “Your perception of fashion sometimes changes; one day is red, the next day is blue.” Very true, A$AP.
Three things I am always attracted to in a person’s style, though, are contrast, effortlessness, and unexpected details. Veronika’s style may be feminine, but it’s not without its idiosyncrasies. Why wear skinny leather pants when you can wear ones with bell bottoms? Why pair plum with black when you can clash it up with burgundy? Girl definitely likes to have fun with her clothes, and doesn’t really care if you think it’s “on trend”. And, as one of the only women in fashion who’s unabashedly practical about footwear (just read her interview with The Coveteur), I feel like I’ve finally found my style role model.
When we were still wearing chunky ankle boots three years ago, she was wearing white sneakers. Way before everyone and their grandma started wearing Nike socks with their girly frocks, she was wearing them with Erdem minidresses. Because she likes tempering dressy apparel with casual accessories, she never looks too done up. She reminds me of that cool girl at a party you’re just dying to talk to, but you never do because you don’t have the heart to interrupt her precious moments with the equally stylish boyfriend, and Mytheresa‘s executive buyer, Justin O’Shea. I’m still trying to pick the better couple: her and O’Shea, or her and those too-gorgeous-to-be-real Calvin Klein calf-hair boots.
Images via Stockholm-Streetstyle, The Coveteur, Garance Doré, styledumonde,
Vanessa Jackman, I Am Koo, & Tommy Ton
Eckhaus Latta are Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta, both American, and graduates of the Rhode Island School of Design. The former classmates both have backgrounds in art (Mike in sculpture and Zoe in textile design), and are particularly well known for their use of unconventional fabrics, many of which are sourced from recycled deadstock. They like doing wacky shit like paint their models’ faces in purple and incorporate shoe layering in their runway shows. Male models flaunt in crop tops and minis, and artistic concepts are prioritized over fashion trends. Many of their looks aren’t pretty per se (those mesh lavender pants though) but all of them exude loveable exuberance. I love the generous use of light denim and the impressive variety of textures like patio furniture plastic, Moroccan rugs, and transparent leather. It’s like a really intense episode of Project Runway at Home Depot, with a healthy dose of tumblr vibes. Oh yeah. They also soundtracked their SS14 collection to a track by White Mateiral co-founder DJ Richard‘s . Sold.
Images of AW14 and SS15 collections from eckhauslatta.com
Last night I was pretty darn pleased with myself. Because of my day job and its various perks, I was invited to the Thom Browne media presentation and reception inside The Room, Toronto’s answer to luxury ready-to-wear (a la Saks or Bergdorf Goodman). Located inside The Bay at the corner of Yonge and Queen, the high end boutique also hosts fashion events and exhibitions, like the recent one on the late, great style luminary Isabella Blow.
The evening was a celebration of Thom Browne’s design and textile career, as well as a presentation of his acclaimed SS15 collection. Despite the frigid and damp night, guests were quick to forget once we locked eyes with the lavishly dressed mannequins inside. The kaleidoscopic decor transported me to a world of stilt walkers, freshly manicured gardens, and literally every pastel colour of the rainbow. It was, honestly, quite easy to forget the appeal of monochrome once I started to take in the intricate details of each garment, all of them miraculous and joyful in their own way. I especially loved the jacket constructed from translucent chiffon pieces, and the clear raincoat with primary colour trims.
So sorry to say that once again I am wearing my satin culottes, an item that I’m practically living in these days and making the entire world endure with me. Paired with my raw-edged button down and vertiginous platforms, I felt delightfully wacky in my own way, albeit without much in the way of colour. My ladypal Karolyne also went with the monochrome look, but with a few more accessories, pairing a textured white leather top with cropped palazzo pants.
You can shop Thom Browne’s AW14 collection right now at The Room.
All images by me