Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Off-White // Fall 2018 // Menswear

Is it even worth attempting to define Renaissance man Virgil Abloh at this rate? The Chicagoan is here, there and effectively everywhere. His high-flying multi-hyphenate life recently extended into the realm of an original song, something he’s working on when he’s not designing for his successful label Off-White. 

His menswear is renowned for its pastiche nature with some critics accusing Mr. Abloh of bastardising the archives of Raf Simons, Helmut Lang, Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto, seminal designers in the fashion craft. (His womenswear is more instinctive, more original at the best of times.) He presented his Fall 2018 menswear collection at Centre George Pompidou at Paris Fashion Week. He cheerfully emerged at the end of the show, ‘Business Casual’, to offer an obligatory wave to the fervent supporters and those buyers gearing to drop thousands of their budget on his work.
Originality is relative in terms of fashion buying. If it sells, it sells. Mr. Abloh’s primary obligation is to sell clothes and with all the collaborations afoot, he makes this loud and clear. (The past 12 months have been impressively packed—he collaborated with Nike, Warby Parker, Ikea, Jimmy Choo, Levi’s, the New York City Ballet, Umbro, Kith, rapper Lil Uzi Vert; opened global outposts for the brand; performed at countless events in his DJ guise; appeared on the multi-cover issue ten of System.) He showed pinstripe trousers with the logo emblazoned on the hip, tailored overcoats with tracksuit pants and trousers—he reinterpreted the idea of ‘casual Friday in the office’. It grew rather tiresome. 

Some things were distinctly reminiscent of the recent Calvin Klein show, spearheaded by one of Mr. Abloh’s design idols: Raf Simons. There were mild appropriations of his Sterling Ruby work and his Western influences which dominated the Spring 2018 show. Other parts, particularly the emphasis placed on peculiar proportions, were evidently redolent of Demna Gvasalia’s turns at both Vetements and Balenciaga. This has always been the case. 

The parts integral to the Off-White handwriting, the quotation enclosed words or phrases, were nods to the Beastie Boys and to the theme of business casual. They weren’t overt which is a shame, it is clear to see—from recent jaunts to high street superstores—that they are having a trickle down effect to the fast fashion market. A quick sconce in the men’s section of H&M and one will see dress shoes, each part of the pair labelled either “LEFT” or “RIGHT”… It’s a rather dull interpretation but Off-White is going global, undoubtedly. It is fashion’s latest marketing success story in the post-Vetements landscape.

Mr. Abloh has somehow broached the fashion circle’s impenetrable circle and he’s accepted. It is rather perplexing though, how his hyper-communicative tendencies have won most of the fashion industry over in the way that Kanye West deterred members. He’s on time, at least. 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Versus Versace // Spring 2018 //

The most headline-worthy moment of the Versus Versace show at London Fashion Week last September at London Fashion Week was the animal rights protestors who expressed their disapproval outside the venue of Central Saint Martins. The activists were angry, although one man was wearing leather Nike trainers, he told the street style photographers to “stop diverting the cause”. His ethics aside, the Versace diffusion line’s show didn’t have the same lustre as in previous seasons. They are currently without a creative director. (Anthony Vaccarello was previously at the helm but he decamped to Paris to assume the reins at Saint Laurent where he has heightened Hedi Slimane’s 60s sensibilities with a feisty femininity.)

Versus Versace is a label centred on “millennials”—as odious as that term is, at least the brand was designed to serve that function, rather than those other brands who started as high society labels before pandering to twenty-something-year-olds. It was founded in 1989, a gift from Gianni Versace to his sister, Donatella Versace. It closed for many years but it was revived by Donatella Versace’s appointment of Christopher Kane, who was then succeeded by J.W. Anderson, before Anthony Vaccarello had a two year stint. What was common to every outing was the pervasive sexuality that is unique to Versace. Each of the three knew how to interpret the codes of the house and present something vaguely fresh, even if it was hopelessly commercial. This season strived to achieve the same, it was successful albeit it was all weak-willed and unassertive.

There were references to lifeguards with those bucket hats and bikinis, interpenetrated with a Britishness in the form of those checks. Sun-kissed bodies was clearly a major takeaway, possibly a celebration of youth with the characters who walked the show. There were a few more formal pieces but mostly it was party dresses with neon accents and sportswear for the men.
There were a few things plucked from the archive with the intent of capturing the Instagram generation’s nostalgia-fuelled feeds. There was the classic grommeting, alluding to the founder’s Fall 1992 bondage collection; a Miami Beach car-print and a few other motifs. The brand does have the luxury of mining an extensive archive and propose the ideas from the 1990s to the customer of today, but the commerciality of the Versus collections eradicates the sheen of newness. 

The worst thing about a brand presenting without a creative director is the irrefutable fact that nobody at the show cares. It’s pointless. Outside the show, one street style photographed explained, “they’re currently without a creative director, I don’t think anyone ‘big’ is coming.” The clothes were fine, they’ll serve the twenty-something-year-olds well—the focus was clearly on the accessories though, what with those bucket hats, clutches and chokers. However, everyone at the show weren’t really pushed. All they wanted to know was who’s next? Two words can reduce a collection to nothing. Perhaps the industry should take note and not needlessly waste resources. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Maison Margiela // Spring 2018 // Haute Couture

What characterises innovation in fashion anyway? Seemingly, it is an industry bereft of original design, relying on the successes of the past to light the way for the future. Remixing it is known as.

John Galliano, creative director of Maison Margiela, having presented his first menswear collection for the house the week previous, presented the brand’s Artisanal line to couture clients and press at Paris Fashion Week’s couture stint last week. 

It was a week rocked by controversy: light was shed on Russian entrepreneur Miroslava Duma’s past transphobia and homophobia; her dissemination of racism on Instagram made headlines, sharing a letter from her friend Ulyana Sergeenko. As Vanessa Friedman wrote for the New York Times, the women had “metaphorically” faded from the front row.

Couture week is about escapism and undoubtedly Mr. Galliano provided that. The show took place at the company’s headquarters on Rue Saint-Maur in the 11th. The venue was painted black, from ceiling to floor and UV lighting filled the room with blue light. The attendees were invited to use flash photography for optimal viewing. Once the Instagram Stories arrived, it was clear the clothing was reflective. The iridescent fabrics created beautiful colours, like light shining on an oily surface. The clothes were exciting—not just the setting (Jessie Reaves provided the site-specific backdrop consisting of raw, deconstructed furniture). The technicality of the prismatic clothing is a testament to the direction couture should be taking—one which prides itself on innovation, to present the customer, who is already paying hundreds of thousands, with something new and inventive. 
What’s more is the social commentary imbued in the show. Gone are the days of shows that appeared in newspapers and shopfronts six months after their presentation. Secret shows like Tom Ford’s Spring 2011 outing with Beyonce and Lauren Hutton as models don’t happen anymore. Shows exist for Instagram now and Mr. Galliano is certainly aware of that. These clothes, like men and women today, have multiple personalities. There is the reality and the online presence. The clothes stood for that. On first glance, you could be staring at a deconstructed macintosh-denim jacket but upon examining your photograph you were confronted with an eye-watering metallic rainbow. It wonderfully deconstructed perception.

Deconstruction is a cornerstone to the Margiela brand and Mr. Galliano has paid his utmost respect to it, honouring the founder Mr. Martin Margiela and his contribution to fashion history. He once again looked at an idea of decortiqué, which translates to “dissected” or “hulled”. Jackets were dismantled and pieced together again, skirts were hollowed, bodice lining was visible. 

His honouring of the house codes doesn’t necessarily mean he was blind to his own design handwriting. Elements of his affinity for Chinoiserie bubbled at the surface. Models carried parasols, dresses were overtly decorative and proposed the upcoming Oscar nominees with options aplenty. His penchant for infusing low-culture was also noted with ‘ugly’ trainers accompanying every look, instead of the traditional heel or sandal. It was a provocative choice for a haute couture collection but perhaps reflective of the kind of customer who would buy a look—or an iteration of one—from this catwalk.

Couture: remixed.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Comme des Garçons Homme Plus // Fall 2018 //

The imperious intellectualism embedded in the Comme des Garçons universe is a fascinating entity, truth be told. Rei Kawakubo is the most revered designers in the industry, and recently the subject of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual centrepiece fashion exhibition. Her Comme des Garçons Homme Plus collections may feature less tricky design concepts but they are no less complex than the womenswear—perhaps post-womenswear fundamentals. 

Macon Blair’s under-appreciated Netflix film I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore, starring the exceptional Melanie Lynskey, immediately sprang to mind when considering Ms. Kawakubo’s latest output. Seeking purpose after being burglarised, Lynskey’s character and her offbeat neighbour pursue the offenders but an unfortunate series of events ensues, embroiling them with a group of dangerous criminals. The essence of the movie is to capture the impertinence and degeneracy underlining the world today. The first slew of models emerged wearing cotton-stuffed tyrannosaurus rex and triceratops skulls, as if they were protesting the times, and searching for solace in the prehistoric era. 

Perhaps childhood was on her mind—bringing things back to the beginning. After all, Superman comics were printed on jackets and billowing trousers. There were brick patterns and silhouettes were tilted; it reminded one of children’s Lego. The colour white, a symbol of purity and innocence, was used intensively throughout. The childlike sensibilities were also prominent in the use of blonde, blue and pink wigs the models wore in the show. There was even a playfulness—albeit macabrely—to the dinosaur headpieces by artist Shimoda Masakatsu. 

Like all good poetry, Rei Kawakubo’s designs are tricky to interpret, inaccessible design to most. However, the most difficult part is to presume, to guess, to opine. Intellectual fashion is repellent, undoubtedly. One figures this collection could be a riposte to the times? Or is it purely based on expert craftsmanship and an attention to detail?

It’s just a guessing game.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

At Couture, a Reminder Racism is Still Not Fashionable

Russian socialite and fashion designer Ulyana Sergeenko’s Spring 2018 Haute Couture presentation was about “creating stories through memories and emotions.” Fittingly, she created the biggest story of the Paris haute couture shows when a friend of hers, Buro24/7 founder and street style star Miroslava Duma posted an Instagram story of a handwritten note she had received from Ms. Sergeenko. The note which contained racist content, a reference to Kanye West and Jay Z’s 2012 single ‘Ni**as in Paris’, was plastered across social media and quickly gained traction on news sites. It read, tastelessly, “to my ni**as* in Paris”. 

Model Naomi Campbell reposted the image of the memo on her Instagram story, demanding to know the truth behind the image. 

Ms. Sergeenko’s presentation on Tuesday was boycotted by members of the fashion industry who—in the post-Galliano-incident landscape— have grown increasingly intolerant to such injustices. Was her show attended by many? Based on Instagram stories, where this story originated, one could issue a resounding “no.” It appeared her comment, highlighting bad taste and outdated attitudes, deterred guests. Those who watched the show would be complicit. (The brand still posted the lookbook to Instagram despite the media maelstrom, and presented in their showroom. According to Garage Magazine's review, Ms. Sergeenko was defensively glued to her phone throughout the appointment.)
“I deeply respect people of all backgrounds and detest racism or discrimination of any kind,” read Ms. Duma’s apology on Tuesday afternoon. It would appear the definition of “racism” and “discrimination” had escaped the Russian at the time of posting.

Ms. Sergeenko’s *apology* was about as much reviled as her initial comment. She weakly tries to use her East Kazakhstan upbringing and her daughter’s half-Armenian blood as an excuse to say the N-word. “And yes, we call each other the N word sometimes when we want to believe that we are just as cool as these guys who sing it.” Amusingly, she asks that people withhold their anger seeing as there is so much of it in the world already. “Can we stop it here?” We most certainly can not. Thankfully the internet exists to hold someone like Ms. Sergeenko accountable for her actions and spotlight the fact that the N-word will never be fashionable amongst white people...

Will she be subjected to the Galliano Treatment? If so, she will be exiled for a number of years and the industry will pretend she no longer exists and then they will welcome her with open arms all of a sudden, proclaiming her brand one to watch again. (Will her army of famous friends rally around her or refuse to be tarnished by the incident? That remains to be seen but one hopes they condemn the act.) Chances are, the brand will survive amongst those oligarch wives who’ll keep it in business but one doubts the fashion industry or the Fédération de la Haute Couture et la Mode Paris has enough interest in her or desire to keep her around for much longer. Her designs were never particularly enrapturing to begin with, they lacked intrigue and their repetition grew tiresome.

Ultimately, this is a news bulletin reflective of the couture circuit. How so, you may ask? Well, the attendees of couture shows are the ultra-rich, whose disgustingly lavish life is defined by an unabashed affinity for excess and decadence. They hail from Russia, China, America—they are new money, they are old money. Many of them won’t be responsive to Ms. Sergeenko's abhorrent comment. Why? They’re too rich to care. That’s what couture is about after all, isn’t it? Beautiful dresses costing millions that are ordered nevertheless, simply because the buyer is so wealthy they can afford to do so. The 1% lives on. 

Louis Vuitton // Fall 2018 // Menswear

Is there something about the Instagram moment that is inherently detrimental to fashion criticism? Or is it a good thing? Does it separate good journalism from bad journalism?

Those were this critic’s thought following Kim Jones’ final show at Louis Vuitton at the Palais Royal last week at Paris Fashion Week’s menswear instalment. His seven year tenure—a remarkable feat in modern fashion, where designers last up to three years before their contracts aren’t renewed—was marked by a final procession that counted Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, the eminent nineties supermodels, in monogram-clad trenches. Ms. Campbell walked first to a symphony of applause, followed by Ms. Moss. They emerged with Mr. Jones at the end, accompanying him for his last bow. The subsequent reportage was centred around how he sought the two women for to commemorate the occasion, rather than the clothing which were a career-best.

Mr. Jones’ helm at the house has been underscored by his singular fusion of sportswear with the house codes, ones which link the worlds of travel and luxury. His collaboration with hype-beast brand Supreme, in 2017, was one of the fastest selling collaboration of the year and also the most widely reported. It shifted the landscape in terms of luxury, flagging questions about the integrity of luxury and luxury brands and whether they should interact with things like skate culture. His Fall 2018 show bore hints of his previous work, but it also engaged with modern masculinity.

The models wore monogrammed tights and although one could interpret them with a view to sportswear, one found them inherently feminine. Skin-tight, accentuating the models’ slim legs and underneath tented trousers, they could easily have made their way from Nicolas Ghesquière’s womenswear division at the house. 
The hallmarks of the season ahead included those brilliant biker boots which had been spotted on a number of street style stars at Paris Fashion Week soon after the show. There was a sweater reading “Peace & Love”, Mr. Jones’ outgoing propagation. He also introduced American football jerseys emblazoned with ‘Louis’—despite it hopelessly pandering to the millennial consumer, it managed to work and wouldn’t look odd on Brooklyn Beckham or Joe Jonas, both of whom sat front row.

The overall mood signified the outdoors. The outerwear was exemplary, light but durable—symbolising his dexterity as a menswear designer. There were aerial images of Kenya, where he spent much of his childhood. The safari motifs were incontrovertible, and they were intriguingly partnered with polished workwear. Similarly, he encapsulated a wintery atmosphere with thick scarves but offset this against sleeveless sweater, revealing sinewy, tanned arms. The pairing off—sportswear and streetwear, athleisure and the normalcy of gym clothing, casual wear and workwear—was oftentimes questionable but as individual pieces they succeeded with aplomb.

And by the end of it, after having posted the photographs of the former artistic director flanked by the two supermodels, the next line of questioning led people to the ‘all-important’: “Was Naomi and Kate’s presence indicative of a shift to womenswear design? Will Kim Jones succeed Christopher Bailey at Burberry? Or will he be shipped to Versace in Milan, to assume the reins from Donatella Versace?” Throughout all of this there was absolutely no mention of the clothes. An awful shame. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Rick Owens // Fall 2018 // Menswear

Rick Owens is akin to an abstract painter in the sense that his work plays hard to get bet when it finally ‘clicks’, it exposes you to an enlightening, poetic world of wonder, one which holds fashion in such high regard it could easily be perceived as lofty. He’s a designer’s designer, a purveyor of avant-garde fashion which is later distilled into commercialist outerwear which is displayed in stores worldwide. His Fall 2018 show was a return to the idea of violence which permeated his collections for so long before he charted positive territory, exploring the serenity of the world, a mere few seasons ago—which arrived in the advent of President Donald Trump which undoubtedly uprooted global discourse and his presence was felt during the primary season and a year ago, when he was officially inaugurated. 

‘Sisyphus’ it was entitled. According to Greek mythology, Sisyphus was a greedy king of Corinth punished for his conniving nature. His sentencing was to push an immense stone uphill, only for it to career down the hill over and over. Albert Camus claims the myth explores the conflict between what we want from the universe and what we find in the universe. 
Mr. Owens told Charlie Porter of the FT backstage, “I’m kind of pissed.” There was a palpable sense of anger. Nineties terror techno attacked the audiences’ eardrums, permeating the show space with a distinctive unease and discomfort. Clothing was slashed, sides were removed from tunics, pant legs jutted leftward; silhouettes were ravaged by an animalistic rage, an uncontainable force seemingly. It was brilliantly visceral and wholly original.

(Some models had faces painted in a serene yet imposing shade of off-white. It reminded one of the description in Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin’s poem Lucina Schynning in Silence of the Nicht: “plague shadowing pale faces with clay the disease of the moon gone astray.”)

It wasn’t a collection spearheaded by avant-garde propositions, however. Mr. Owens made room for sumptuous outwear which will undoubtedly make it to department stores in the coming months. There was a certain tranquility to those looks that contrasted with the terror techno overhead and the drama of the avant-garde. It also referred to the designer’s responsiveness to the needs of his customer who will buy Rick Owens not only because it is a unique entity unto itself, earmarked for its peculiar tendencies, but for its beautiful tailoring.

At Rick Owens you are constantly affirmed that the future of menswear has been with us all along. It’s unapologetically difference and although it may not be what we thought we wanted from the universe, it’s what we find in the universe. Surely, there are worse things to be found.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Palomo Spain & GmbH // Fall 2018 // Menswear

Something made crystal clear at London Fashion Week Men’s this season was that designers were no longer centred around the cisgendered white man. It was a London season marked by its indifference to gender constructs and an affirmation that we live in a post-gender landscape, where men wearing dresses and skirts and make-up and heels is just as common as them wearing tailored suits and masculine silhouettes. Such a statement wasn’t echoed at Milan Fashion Week, where legacy labels like Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, Fendi perpetuated the bog-standard heteronormative male ideal which isn’t as exciting as it once was, in comparison to the new world order carved by brands like eclectic Art School, ebullient Charles Jeffrey’s LOVERBOY and the Elizabethan-tinged eccentricity of Edward Crutchley.

On the opening day of Paris Fashion Week, two brands occupying the post-gender design world were among the first to show. First was Palomo Spain, spearheaded by Alejandro Gómez Palomo, a Spanish outpost that has presented in Madrid, Moscow, New York and now the French capital, at the Place des Vosges in the Marais. Paris is an appropriate place for Mr. Gómez Palomo to establish themselves in terms of the global fashion system. There they will be able to draw a greater an audience than they would at New York Fashion Week: Men’s which is still in its infancy. Also, the unique brand of flamboyant fashion will electrify the city’s reputation; Paris Fashion Week is renowned for the presence of heavy hitters including Rick Owens, Thom Browne.

Seeking perversity in the staid nobility of the countryside, the designer explored the pastoral setting and infused an inherent sexuality in it, one which was both glamourous and mocking. It toyed with masculinity, the masculinity traditionally associated with hunting—there was wool and foxtails and ring belts, but also Little Red Riding capes and fetishistic undertones. Eroticism and masculinity and the boundary between the two was where Mr. Gómez Palomo situated himself. It was there he built a case for Robin Hood and red velvet, Elizabethan pomp and splendidness, a fetishised country dress code and a femininity at odds with models’ hirsute legs stemming from abbreviated hemlines. 

Despite the fun, often comical nature of the work, Mr. Gómez Palomo devised a unique strategy—Charles Jeffrey did something similar in London—whereby he channelled his eccentric output into something more commercial and ultimately more sellable. His clothes envision an old-world glamour but are presented with the post-gender landscape in mind, it’s a tongue-in-cheek operation. However, to an untrained eye, it could just be lace-trimmed navy wide-leg trousers or a duck egg, fur-lined jacket. But on their backs would be the product of the mordant critique of an outdated society. Chances are though, Palomo Spain is speaking to the converted.
A few hours later GmbH (a German acronym for ‘Gesellschaft bit beschränkter Hafting, or ‘company with limited liability) presented their latest work. Designed by Benjamin Alexander Huseby and Serhat Isik, their presentation at the art-centric Aérosol in the 18th arrondissement was entitled ‘My Beauty Offends You’. An electric show with diverse cast of eccentric characters contrasted society’s perception of beauty with a more unconventional, modern vision, one which encompasses models from various ethnic backgrounds, different gender identities. 

Their recent advertising campaign cast second-generation immigrants, calling it ‘Europe Endless’, in an effort to portray an idealistic utopian Europe, one which doesn’t discriminate against immigrants and creates berries, rather welcomes them. It is especially pertinent in their native Germany where the subject of immigrants is a bone of contention in the eyes of the public. Their runway was comprised of the people who were included in the recent campaign and many more.

There were notable reflections upon workwear here, albeit with a slick touch. The colour were sombre—bottle greens and greys aplenty. The models stormed the catwalk, contending with the blustery evening and incessant rain. The atmosphere contributed to the models’ emanation of power. Braving the elements, they were prepared as though to take the world in their stride. Unsurprisingly, backstage, Huseby and Isik spoke about the clothes acting as a means of protection, a recurring motif in the fashion industry over the past few years. Their casting was instrumental in solidifying this—second-generation immigrants, sons and daughters of those who left their own country in search of a better life abroad. It’s a sad but endless tale, one which continues to touch the entire world. 

Coupled with a disregard for gender constructs, GmbH, like Palomo Spain, is a brand which is part of the redefining of what constitutes ‘normality’ in fashion. 

To show at Paris Fashion Week, to an audience including eminent editors and buyers, solidifies this changing fashion landscape, one which encompasses more than rail-thin or machismo men in sharply-tailored suiting and sportswear. Proving fashion stretches beyond that are these emerging brands. Their collective energy, power, and most importantly, message defies expectations and shifting the un-shiftable—all the power to them.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Prada // Fall 2018 // Menswear

Miuccia Prada has been adapting to the digital age, expressing pointedly feminist statements in her womenswear and questioning the fundamentals of masculinity in her menswear. Her Fall 2018 menswear—conjoined with her Pre-Fall 2018 womenswear—took place at the Fondazione Prada as per usual.

Of late, the creative direction of the brand has shifted, perhaps due to budgetary constraints after the brand’s unsatisfactory commercial performance in the middle of the 2010s. Former collaborator Steven Meisel has been replaced with Willy Vanderperre and Olivier Rizzo—stalwarts of Raf Simons. Seemingly, their aesthetic has been pervasive enough to influence this menswear outing which was reminiscent of Simons’ Spring 2018 Blade Runner-inspired. The clothes essentially ‘sat’ on the models and there was an undercurrent of dystopian doom which marked Simons’ show back in July.
There has been a noticeable lack of romanticism in Prada collections and it corresponds with Vanderperre’s minimalist oeuvre. It’s not to say the collections haven’t been good, the majority of them have been noteworthy and impactful but none of them have provoked nearly as much as they did, as little as three years ago. 

The show announced the revival of the banana prints of the exotic Spring 2011 womenswear show; the flames from the 50s-inspired Spring 2012 womenswear; the unforgettable Christophe Chemin illustrations of medieval tapestries and intergalactic love from Fall 2016 menswear. They were all compounded into single garments or outfits. Secondly, returning to the runway was the red-outlined Prada logo which was added to windbreakers. In a time when nostalgia is currency, the reappearance of all these items—recognisable, memorable aspects of recent fashion history—is unsurprising. However, it didn’t really strike one as groundbreaking and the remix didn’t enthral in the way one would expect Prada to. 

The show arrived the day after the New York Times’ published a piece documenting sexual misconduct allegations by male models against once-esteemed photographers Mario Testino and Bruce Weber, respectively, both of whom had made inappropriate advances on set at photo shoots. The #MeToo campaign has proliferated over the past few months and it’s clear to see the abuses of power have broached the menswear industry too. Does it make a collection like this, one which preoccupied itself with commercialising nostalgia, redundant? The spotlight on injustices the day previous cast a dark shadow over proceedings, unquestionably.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Versace // Fall 2018 // Menswear

The last Versace womenswear collection saw the revival of the 1990s classics, with Donatella Versace reintroducing the most memorable Gianni Versace shows: Warhol, Icons, My Friend Elton, Vogue, Metal Mesh, Butterflies, Native Americans, Animalia, Baroque. It was to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of her late brother’s death, memorialising his indelible impact on the fashion industry and the feminist undertones that defined his sexually liberating work in the 1990s. 

It arrived on the eve of The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, which airs tonight on American television screens. The Versace family has chosen to distance themselves from Ryan Murphy’s series, which is based on Maureen Orth’s book Vulgar Favours: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in US History. The Versace family declared in a statement, “[we] neither authorised nor had any involvement whatsoever in the forthcoming TV series… which should only be considered as a work of fiction.”

Donatella Versace continued to elude the show’s imminence with her Fall 2018 menswear and Pre-Fall 2018 womenswear at Milan Fashion Week on Saturday night. Perhaps inspired by the presence of Versus at London Fashion Week for the past couple of years (although not for the upcoming season as the diffusion is currently without a creative director), Ms. Versace took the brand for a highland jaunt, only briefly referencing the label’s signature animal-print and baroque tendencies. She also combined regal aspects with gloriously lavish and decadent sportswear and varsity references with ‘Versace’-emblazoned scarves.

Her technicolour tartans exuded a spirited sassiness and a sense of humour. Wherein lay the difference between the tartan and the baroque element of the show. The tartan expressed a bolder, tongue-in-cheek version of masculinity, one which expanded upon the camp nature of last season’s menswear. However, the baroque, although elaborate and decadent, lent itself only to an overindulgent life of luxury, presented in the gold-laden hall of the Società del Giardino—a gentleman’s club—and comprehending its grotesquely rich facade was more negatively standoffish than the typical virile Versace boisterousness. 

Undoubtedly it casted the audience back to the nineties, a splendorous time in fashion when careers were built—Gianni Versace, Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, Helmut Lang, Martin Margiela were all designing era-defining clothing. It wasn’t so much a tribute as it was a reaffirmation of the evolving Versace codes—irreverence, pervasive sexuality, a fetishisation of empowerment and strength. 

Donatella Versace, clearly, as expressed by this show, doesn’t need a television series about the brand’s founder to remain relevant, for she has expertly maintained its importance. However, the discordance between the the aesthetics in this show muddled the expected lucidity.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Marni // Fall 2018 // Menswear

Francisco Risso’s initial response to his appointment at Marni lacked the frenetic, emotional and peculiar touches that were inherent in his predecessor, the founder Consuelo Castiglioni’s magnificent oeuvre. He faced a tall order, Ms. Castiglioni was a well-revered member of the fashion industry and her shocking departure was met with bitter disappointment from the press and buyers. Mr. Risso, her replacement, sourced from Prada, had a rough start in terms of design. The press’ response was lukewarm—and in some cases, quite negative. However, he expressed a different mood with his womenswear in September, and his Fall 2018 menswear echoed a similarity last weekend at Milan Fashion Week. It was as if he kept stalling the engine. Now, it appeared, he finally managed to ignite the engine and accelerate, creating a visual landscape with as many twists and turns as a windy, uncultivated, bramble-defined back road. 
The emotion this critic expressed as lacking last season was well and truly present this season. His seating was made up of nostalgic items. Bumper cars, old microwaves, oil tanks, box televisions, water tanks, children’s playthings. It was an engaging preamble to the show and it was successfully plastered all over Instagram. However, the clothes held more fascination. It opened rather sombrely, with long black overcoats and relaxed 70s tailoring. However, it was quickly electrified with bold prints, rather childlike illustrations, of random objects—chairs, a man on horseback, apes, cellos, helicopters, squirrels, chimpanzees,  a travelling stuffed animal equipped with a suitcase. It was random, offbeat and effortlessly encapsulated the Marni spirit—an indefinable urge to express oneself creatively, akin to the childlike jubilance associated with dressing oneself for the first time.

Ties were crushed—perhaps chewed—and jewellery was layered excessively, has were added, scarves and blankets too. It was a brilliant amalgamation of accessories as much as it was outwear replete with a frisson of excitement and bubbly eclecticism. Trousers were oversized; coats were overlong; coats were rendered in a primitive patchwork; fabrics clashed, fusing high end silks with striped cotton tops; there were boiler suits and fashion’s gravest sin—socks with sandals.

There mightn’t have been much of a discernible message from this. Perhaps the designer wanted to communicating his growing understanding of the house codes and use it as a starting point for future outings, in which he restores the intellectualised painting of modern menswear, which Ms. Castiglioni carved ever so wonderfully. Hypothesising based on this season and last season’s womenswear would prove useful in assuming that there is more good to come from Mr. Risso. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Xander Zhou // Fall 2018 // Menswear

Xander Zhou is a Chinese-born, London-based designer. He was one of the first designers to present Fall 2018 at January’s instalment of London Fashion Week Men’s and one of the few offsite shows. One of the defining quotes on his website which accompany a minuscule biography is: “preserving traditional culture through fashion might be respectful towards tradition, but it is not respectful towards fashion.” As proven by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 2015 exhibition ‘China: Through the Looking Glass’, Western fashion likes to pick and choose disparate tenets to Chinese culture and melds them however it pleases as a means of preservation. As exhibition director Andrew Bolton astutely noted, it creates “a pastiche of Chinese aesthetic and cultural traditions.” 

However, when designers like Mr Zhou this season—or Feng Chen Wang last season at New York Fashion Week Men’s—issue their personal stamp on Chinese culture it contributes to the dearth of authenticity in fashion, but it also acts as a means of progression. He is prepared to adapt Chinese tradition to the future. But he does also assert “fashion is much more about individual expression than about nationalism. 

Permeating the ancient youxia warrior regalia, the tangzhuang jacket, the changshan dress, hybridised gongbi brushwork were unmissable cadences of sci-fi mysticism, which portray a dystopian vision of the world. They were also visible last season, in his American Psycho-inspired show which subverted mundanity and posed a response to surveillance, with models wearing wire taps. This warped humanity, the atmosphere of dystopia contributes to the idea that the world is currently devoid of positivity, or even progressiveness. Mr. Zhou may not have tackled the motions of the day—natural disasters unleashing destruction about citizens; the incontrovertible effect of climate change; the troubled rhetoric of political leaders—but like a writer, he captured a moment in time, one where cynicism is more prevalent than compassion.

Is it easier to be cynical? Is mustering a positive demeanour too much effort? Is propagating positivity worth it? 

It wasn’t all bleak, truthfully. His effort to advance traditional techniques unfurled before the audience’s eyes excitingly. Emblazoning Chinese symbols on blazers, or dividing a jacket between the yin and yang pushed things in a commercialistic direction, but the pieces didn’t lack intrigue. His tailoring has also improved upon last season, and readily apparent is a desire to explore proportion. 

Another question that presented itself is the saleability of the Chinese-influenced pieces. If purchased in the West, will the wearer be subject to cultural appropriation allegations? Will they purchased in the East if they are already engrained in the culture and perhaps advancements could be perceived offensively? Only time will tell. One hopes Mr. Zhou remains positive. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Alice Archer // Spring 2018 //

There is something so wonderful about the fusion of something grand, opulent with something kitsch, ironic. Designer Alice Archer compounded two art references in her Spring 2018 show at Mary Ward House at London Fashion Week last September. The American portraitist John Singer Sargent painted characters from all walks of lights, capturing a glimpse of their personalities and aspirations. There is an inherent element of innocence to his work which Ms. Archer sought inspiration from. She contrasted this with the garish boldness of photographer David LaChapelle’s modern pop-art oeuvre with its highly saturated colouration.

She then transported these references to the South of France, to the south of Italy. She was thinking of the summer months languorously spent on the Riviera, at the Cap d’Antibes or one of the other affluent coastal communes on the Côte d’Azur; also, bearing in mind the July Sicilian sun shining overhead, illuminating sunbathers. There were lemons aplenty but also grapes, cherries and strawberries. They acted as an elixir, breathing an exotic air into the clothing. 
Hailing from the Royal College of Art, Goldsmiths and Central Saint Martins, her credentials don’t stop there: she was employed as an embroidery designer for Dries van Noten, the pinnacle of luxury fashion, and produced work for British artist Tracey Emin also. Integral to the brand is her textural prowess, the way the embroideries act like a life-force in the collections, imbuing them with a warmth and depth without which her designs would be rendered uninteresting. Embroideries of fruits and flowers brought a three-dimensional quality to the frothy tulle dresses. 

Ms. Archer’s approach to the summer season, to Sicily differs wildly from many other designers today. For the Dolce & Gabbana duo their collections are paeans to the Italian island, it is a fertile source of inspiration but they continually reproduce the same idea with the same effect as beating a dead horse. Marco de Vincenzo emblazoned medieval names of the island on his clothes for the spring season, rather esoterically one notes. The advantage of Ms. Archer offering her input is that it is one of the outsider, the tourist. It reminds one of exploring a new destination for the first time. Ultimately, she succeeds in capturing the universality of holiday excitement.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Wales Bonner // Fall 2018 // Menswear

Grace Wales Bonner is an academic. She told the Guardian during the summer, “I am very interested in post-colonial theory, black literature and post-black literature.” Her Spring 2018 show was accompanied by an excerpt from an exhibition press release at The Artist’s Institute called Hilton Als: James Baldwin/Jim Brown and the Children, and a poem by Essex Williams . She explored black masculinity, bearing in mind observations from the exhibition. Her latest outing, presented on a chilly Sunday evening, on the second day of London Fashion Week Men’s, continued in a similar vein with a noteworthy art reference.

African-American painter Jacob Lawrence painted a 60-panel Migration Series on cardboard in the 1940s. He garnered critical acclaim and national attention in the epoch for his cataloguing of the Great Migration, when 6 millions African-Americans moved from rural Southern states to the North post-World War I. Some of the paintings were visible in the collection with hand-painted renderings on garments. Therein lies the commercial gambit but it speaks much louder than that.
The premise of the collection was around migration. Quotes such as “a black sailor returning to land” and “the port as a site of exchange of transgression” were noteworthy ascription supplemented at the show at Grosvenor Place. The ongoing narrative around the migrant crisis picked up many years ago in the advent of the Syrian War, when displaced migrants moved to mainland Europe and faced the xenophobic and racists attitudes of many doltish citizens who saw no place for immigrants in their society. The 1940s, when Lawrence’s paintings were set, were a time when the subject of immigration was also making headlines. During and post-WWII, the disenfranchised, the displaced and the destitute were scattered across Europe. The decade was reflected in the tailoring which avoided (as Karl Lagerfeld bowed to with his 60s-inspired ode to Hamburg) the tropes of a sailor’s wardrobe; in lieu of that Ms. Wales Bonner paid tribute to the decade where sumptuous masculine tailoring was in fashion. 

Her casting stands out for its approach to casting mostly non-white models, turning the tables on an industry which fails to represent ethnic minorities. Moreover, one noticed again how alarmingly thin the models were. While it opposes the stereotypical vision of black masculinity—virile and of Herculean proportions—with unisex and decorative outfits, one questions whether this is the vision of manhood that should be propagated. In the context of what it stands for, perhaps it is a refreshing perspective, but in a wider sense, it may over-subscribe to fashion’s preconceived attitudes towards sizing. 

At a sparse London Fashion Week Men’s, now shortened to a three-day affair, a brand like Wales Bonner rises to the top. It may have been a few short years, her rise meteoric, but she is a distinguished young woman designing intelligent, thoughtful menswear. Never has there been a deeper understanding of the intersection between blackness and masculinity, and never has a designer accumulated the attention she’s got, in terms of educating the fashion industry on black culture. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

MAN // Fall 2018 //

MAN is the menswear equivalent to Lulu Kennedy’s Fashion East, the paean to youthful creativity and energy that presents a group show at London Fashion Week Men’s in January and June. This season’s line-up consisted of the returning Art School, fronted by Eden Loweth and Tom Barratt, and Rottingdean Bazaar, steered by James Theseus Buck and Luke Brooks; newcomer Stefan Cooke. 

The thing about Art School—and it’s something they have made a decent effort to counteract this season—is that the prospect of it is far more exciting than the actual clothing. For all its vibrance, for all its exuberance, there’s something about the label’s uncontainable effervescence that doesn’t match up with the early-aughts-influenced clothing. For Fall 2018 there were pinstripe schoolgirl uniforms, shirts worn as dresses, belts worn as bandeaus, skintight dresses that would’ve attracted the attention of unsuspecting fan Kim Kardashian West. 

The outfits don’t bear as much drama as those brilliant characters who wear them. As a collective, it is brilliant—it stands for queer culture, it protects club cultural, it is countercultural in a way that will appeal to the fashion industry at large. On paper, it works. However, translating this to the clothing has proven tricky. There have been some improvements from last season—the clothes, generally, have a veneer of more experience but much of them look rather bland for what it supposedly stands for. Luckily, with the backing of MAN, the influential fashion editor Katie Grand of LOVE too, they will be given a chance to test the waters and truly establish what works best for them.
Self-assured, knowing, Rottingdean Bazaar is simply brilliant, with a modern day rendition of pop art, critically analysing the social context and exploring the boundaries one can push with clothing.  A dartboard-cum-sweater? A personalised cheese board on a t-shirts? It channels mundanity into something delightfully perverse. This season’s inclusivity and themes made for their most powerful outing to date. 

They harshly criticised contemporary commercial fashion. One of the first models out was a stout man, wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the exclamation: “We Do Big Sizes! 2XL 3XL 4XL 5XL!!!!”. And in a smaller typeface, “We Do Very Small Sizes!!” was written. Fashion famously caters to a specific body type. It is pertinent for Rottingdean Bazaar to pose a blistering counterattack at this exclusive, unrepresentative systematic failure. They elaborated on this by casting models who didn’t necessarily conform to the traditional sizing in fashion—something they have done in previous collections also—and established a new normal. 

They also expanded on commercialism. An oversized red dress, made from buttons, read “Sale” and a striped top in red and green, blue ‘jeans’ were made from sticky price tags. A dartboard top and headpiece featured commonly purchased items such as “Sellotape”, “Duvet”, “Ripped Jumper”. It was all tongue-in-cheek, delightfully humour, and a welcome departure from the perpetuation of dour thematic influences in fashion today. Do not be confused: this wasn’t escapism, this was plonking the audience front and centre and facing the facts of commercialism and the crippling exclusivity of the fashion industry.
Emerging talent Cooke’s debut was spectacular. This time last year the London-based designer was gearing up to present his MA collection at the Central Saint Martins group show at London Fashion Week. His MA won him the prestigious L’Oréal Professionnel Creative Award. Since then he has appeared in the pages of magazines globally and Fall 2018 marked his breakout show, with an on-schedule placement. His mentality is to revitalise and elevate the everyday wardrobe and to subvert the sensory experience, manipulating the fabrication to conjure a peculiar response. 

He takes the conventional items: trousers, coats, jackets and sweaters and reworks them in odd ways. For example, his trousers are materialised piece by piece, like a jigsaw puzzle. Similarly, the coats are origami-like in their assembly. Argyle sweaters are disembowelled, with diamond shapes precisely removed. Light shining on PVC gives the illusion of buttery leather and the paintwork resembles denim in a disconcerting display. There is an almost claustrophobic off-ness to the garments that begins to play with the mind—it is a newfound interactiveness in fashion. 

(Removed from the inclusivity of both Art School and Rottingdean Bazaar was Stefan Cooke, whose work presented a stereotypical vision of masculinity in fashion. His models were rail-thin for one, with slicked back hair, hollowed cheekbones. His models were also mostly white. It starkly contrasted with the other two. In the way Art School’s underwhelming clothes don’t reflect the extravagance of their perspective, Stefan Cooke’s models don’t reflect his searing, unique, instinctive fashion.)

Designers like Cooke are in desperate need of nurturing. Talent incubators like MAN, Fashion East must continue to mentor brands like this to ensure their viability. One expects to see great things in the future from him. Like many others, perversely dissecting mundanity has proved to be a tenet of modern fashion. Cooke’s cultivation of new territory on the trope is what excited the audience who bestowed upon him a rapturous applause. He’s off to a great start. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Sharon Wauchob // Spring 2018 //

Sharon Wauchob’s membership in the Irish contingent at London Fashion Week is often overlooked. Presenting on the last day of fashion week, in Marylebone at St. Cyprian’s Church, the geographical discord of the day of shows can prove disadvantageous to her exposure. However, she is a seasoned designer, she’s been in the industry longer than most of the designers presenting in London and her aesthetic oozes a glamorous sensuality that few can replicate. Her collections aren’t preoccupied with the politics of today, rather it is a personal response to womanhood. An instinctive approach, she glamourises loucheness and fashions something sumptuously elegant.

This season she was thinking about her beginnings, at Central Saint Martins. She discovered a sketchbook from her time at the college. Her pedigree as a designer strengthened when she worked with Japanese designer Koji Tatsuno. She was appointed, by U2 frontman Bono and his activist wife Ali Hewson, as creative director at Edun where she defined the brand’s position as a sustainable fashion brand. She joined Louis Vuitton in 1997, at the same time as Marc Jacobs, and left in 2001. Her eponymous label was launched in the meantime, she presented at Paris Fashion Week for sixteen years before returning to London, where she studied. It is an important time for her to take stock and reflect on her past, and propose a direction for the future. 

As a purveyor of drapery, her output this season was especially strong. Diaphanous organza was layered as if it was the delicate foamy residue from waves; coats were precisely cut but effortlessly loose; tendril-light feather embroidery was added to romantic polka-dot dresses. The romantic touches added to her designs are truly beautiful, in the way they pay attention to the female form but also acknowledge the importance of fabrication. 

There is something triumphant about rediscovering an old sketchbook and cataloguing the progression one has made in the creative industries. It is a feeling that reaches beyond fashion design, broaching writing, artful endeavours, editing and skewering other industries—STEM fields namely. Ms. Wauchob’s work wasn’t a greatest hits collection, rather a reiteration that she is an accomplished designer and she is exceptional at what she does.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Faustine Steinmetz // Spring 2018 //

It is almost incomprehensible—the rapid growth of Faustine Steinmetz—for it flashed before our eyes like an electrifying bolt of lightning. Several years ago she presented her debut at London Fashion Week at the Insitute of Contemporary Art. This was an introduction to her technical mastery, her deconstructionist prowess. As seasons went by she challenged the ‘denim designer’ moniker she quickly attained; Swarovski crystals were added as an illusory device, yarns spun in Senegal injected a savoir-faire touch to proceedings. For Spring 2018, her first catwalk show, her couture-like sensibilities were catapulted to new heights: she grappled with mundanity, reworking our everyday ‘uniforms’ and using artisanal techniques and sustainable fabrics to forge a new identity for them. ’Facsimile’, it was called. 
The archetypal wardrobe, according to Ms. Steinmetz, consists of a pair of jeans (a prerequisite at this label), a trench, a tracksuit and a shoulder bag. It would be easy to present them as they are, make a statement with styling. However, this wasn’t the designer’s intention. She entirely reshaped the garments by making them from scratch, exploring forgotten about artisanal techniques, ensuring the fabrication is completely sustainable. Tracksuits are emblazoned with the brand’s logo and made from frayed denim; t-shirts are artfully slashed. Perhaps the most inventive technique, the thick brushstrokes applied to trousers reappeared, creating a washed denim effect.

The psychology behind clothing played an important part in the collection. Last season she explored the democracy of denim, its indiscriminate personality.(To reiterate the point she made last season, she wants her clothing to be perceived as unisex; once again, there were male models alongside the women.) Secondly, she strives to create an ethical business, so not to subscribe to the fashion industry’s bad reputation. Furthermore, one could look at this and ponder the repetition of archetypes’ reflection the blanched society we live in. Everyone dresses the same. The beige trench, the white tracksuit, the blue denim. They are wardrobe tropes common to us all. Here, with an artisanal touch, they are given a new lease of life and with Ms. Steinmetz’s deconstructionist flair, they appear brand new. 

It’s only been a few years and Faustine Steinmetz carries itself with a level of sophistication and maturity that many other emerging brands have failed to secure. Constant innovation, fruitful experimentation collide with deconstructionism. It all melds together quite nicely, fusing the techniques made famous in the 1980s by the Antwerp Six with a modern day, artisanal touch. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Edeline Lee // Spring 2018 //

“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do,” once said the American artist Georgia O’Keeffe. Fashion designer Edeline Lee echoed this ethos in her Spring 2018 collection. She continued her exploration of womanhood by referencing one of the most famous painters in recent times. It wasn’t so much O’Keeffe’s work that inspired Ms. Lee, rather the life she led in the secluded badlands in New Mexico. It was there the painter experienced heartbreak and a subsequent nervous breakdown, it was there where she braved the terrain, teaching herself to drive, obtaining found objects such as bones and stones, bleached from the sunlight.

The set design was poetically sparse, emanating a certain sense of incontrovertible melancholia. It captured the sense of the outback in New Mexico. A bench with laser-cut design; a single chair; the frame of a mantel and a patterned rug. Models emerged in pairs, interacting with the space. Ms. Lee was striving to connect “the vulnerability and the strength at the core of every woman.” 

The clothes were also a continuation of what she always does. Feminine shift dresses and skirts. This season there was—as with Fall 2017—an emphasis on architectural sculpturing. The floral iconography of O’Keeffe’s work pervaded the drapes and folds of dresses and coats; it created a delicate, gestural effect which worked quite nicely in tandem with the softness of Ms. Lee’s aesthetic.
This show made headlines for its inclusion of a model wearing a hijab. In recent years, the only hijab-wearing model to make the catwalk was Halima Aden, a Kenyan-born American-based former Miss World USA pageant competitor, who appeared at Yeezy, Alberta Ferretti and MaxMara. She went on to cover Vogue Arabia. Dolce & Gabbana, despite their unethical actions, were one of the only brands to sell a designer hijab to the ever-growing retail market in the Middle East. Given Ms. Lee’s feminist approach, the addition of a hijab-wearing model symbolises the modest dressing movement while also skewering the debate about religious dress, secularism. It is a divisive argument but truthfully, inclusion is imperative.

O’Keeffe rejected the feminist art movement of the 1970s. Despite the “sensual and feminist imagery” seemingly present in her artworks, she chose to forego titles, preferring to be called just an “artist”. One reckons the same dilemma will face Edeline Lee. Her collections have become increasingly representative, she collaborates with talented women (stylist Jeanie Annan Lewin, set designer Kyung Roh Bannwart, makeup artists Maria Papadopoulou, hairstylist Cinta Miller). Is it a burgeoning feminist collective or is it a multidisciplinary group of artists. However they choose to define themselves, it is especially admirable in the current sociopolitical structure.

Monday, January 1, 2018

5 Questions with... Christene Barberich

First published 12/7/16
Refinery29 is perhaps the most prolific online fashion, beauty and lifestyle website for young women. With over 27 million monthly unique users on its websites and a global reach of 225 million across platforms—including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat—it is inarguable that the website is having a significant effect. Behind the website is an army of hardworking people, led by Christene Barberich, the co-founder and global editor-in-chief.

In today’s instalment of 5 Questions with… I wanted to interview Christene, a marvellous woman, who founded Refinery29 in 2005, when the digital fashion industry was in its nascency. She has written at length about fashion and, candidly, about fertility. Recently, she launched a podcast called Unstyled. She has interviewed Leandra Medine, Ashley Graham and Danielle Brooks.  Over the years Christene has transformed her business into a multimillion dollar enterprise. That’s no small feat. 

This interview encapsulates Christene’s background, advice she’d give to her younger self and her opinions on the current state of the fashion industry.

I hope you enjoy 5 Questions with… Christene Barberich.
What did you study in college and do you think it is necessary for people today to study something fashion-related to embark on a career in fashion?

I studied visual arts and creative writing in college, so, no, I didn't study fashion per se when I was in school. In my case, my professional journey kept intersecting with Fashion in new and unusual ways, so my entry into the industry wasn't exactly orthodox. I think it really depends on what your passion is—and, it's important to note, your passions change quite a bit as you get older, so if you didn't study fashion in college and you want to pursue a career in that space, it's never too late to learn and find a job that can start to inch you in that direction. On the other hand, most of the fashion designers I know have all been pursuing their craft from the very beginning. Some paths are more defined than others, but that never means you can't pivot along the way. 

What advice would you give to your younger self?

To not worry so much. I wish my present self could have time-traveled a note of reassurance to my 20-something self to say, it's not going to be exactly what you expect, but it's actually going to be better...and remember, always, you have every tool you need right now to go where you want to go. You open the doors. More and more, as I get older, I realise how much of the power rests in our own hands. No regrets, just make your own shit happen. You know?

You are Global Editor-in-Chief of Refinery29, what does your day to day involve?

Anything from sitting in on a big-picture content planning meeting, to work-shopping an upcoming feature with our Editorial Director, to attending a meeting with one of our brand partners, to speaking at an event or symposium about the vision and what's to come from Refinery29. And writing and editing, too....I still do those things as well, just not as frequently. 

What is the most difficult aspect of working in the fashion industry in 2016?

Wishing the industry itself would adapt more quickly to how consumers want to shop and what they want to shop for. Even the very basic experience of shopping in a store has to be rethought to pave the way for a new and better shopping experience. 

In your opinion, what are the biggest issues facing the fashion industry presently and what are possible solutions?

I feel I answered this above.