Tuesday, 31 January 2012

flawless YOUniverse

A few years ago I very much enjoyed reading ”How to Create
a Flawless Universe™ in just eight days”, a hilarious manual
by now defunct Godfather publications teaching readers 
how to create the universe of their own personal whim 
following exhilarating step-by-step instructions and handy 
hints thus I recalled it in a flash when I cast my eyes 
over YOUFootwear's new collection.

Your Own Universe™ men's footwear brand debuted last
year in Florence's Pitti Uomo summer edition as an invitation
to restore a simple and natural style with a contemporary
language. Following up on the fledgling label, the new
AW 2012-13 collection features different materials placed
side by side in riveting combinations reminiscent of ethnicity.

High quality leather strictly made in Italy and tanned using
natural occurring tannins from tree galls and barks is
amazingly combined with recycled fabrics ranging from
coarse weaves and old felt in various colors to the rough
canvas used in rucksacks, former curtains and military
bedspreads as well as sheepskins and woolen Kilim carpets.

The Milan-based label holds such a distinctive dash made
of counterpointed materials for the man looking at the world
around him as an ever-changing reality in which ”the idea
of cross-fertilization is a plus to be looked at with interest
and where style is first of all an attitude towards life”.

> all images courtesy of YOU™ <

Monday, 30 January 2012

Bravoure's glass nouveau

”Life is our stage” is the statement of serious resoluteness
of Dutch womenswear label 'Bravoure', a newbie
that came to show a distinctive theatrical approach 
to fashion ever since its first appearance last year 

The steadfast duo-run label bears a confident signature
style ”inspired on aesthetics found in life, theatre and music”
as Bravoure's founders and chief designers Patricia Hofstede
and Kim Jansen pointed out ”to embrace the little moments
you just feel special and elighten a bright spotlight 
when you're ready for.”

The Dutch upcoming talents showcased their ”Glass Nouveau”
AW 2012 collection during the last edition of the Amsterdam's
event ended yesterday: a worldly collection with art-deco inspired
colors and geometric patterns in boldly delineated shapes 
that suddenly caught my eye for its artistic reminiscences.

Working with rich materials and fabrics understanding 
the freedom of the body, Bravoure dares to create  
”something special for the moments you will 
celebrate life as never before.”
Undaunted, the duo keeps on creating 
center stage moments.

> designers' b/w portrait and all images from the label's website <

Friday, 27 January 2012

winter dragonflies

Where do dragonflies go in wintertime?
I guess I know it now: darners and skimmers enjoy
a warm winter in the coastal city of Barcelona where
Celia Vela's AW 2012-13 ”Segon Segona” (Catalan for
two, second) collection has been showcased at 
080 Barcelona Fashion a few days back.

Dragonfly-shaped brooches adorne the appealing
silhouettes designed by the Spanish designer who began
her fashion career in 1994 signing for the first time a
collection for MerkamodaFAD followed a year later
by the opening of her store in Figueres and the launch
of her eponymous label at the very same time.

Celia first individual show came  in 1998 at the Pasarela
Gaudi and that same year her RTW label was introduced
to Japan starting up a boundless entanglement with the
country and its culture: she designed and made the
uniforms for the Japanese pavilion at Zaragoza Expo
and opened a showroom in Tokyo's Ginza.

No wonder the urban and romantic Celia Vela '2.2' collection 
shows an intense Oriental allure in the clever mixing of prints
and color combinations as well a fussy use of fine fabrics
layering embroideries and patchworks with gripping floral
prints juxtaposing thick wollen fabrics with sheer silk and
fuild satin. A collection that skillfully puts together 
the raw look of workmanship with couture details.

> all images © 080 Barcelona Fashion Week <

Thursday, 26 January 2012

knights in leather armors

Like medieval gentlemen-soldiers riding gallantly through
the darkest night along perilous pathways to keep their
princess safe, face-covered models of both sexes wear 
Peter Morvin's powerful graduate menswear 
collection ”FranzMadonna”.

Based in lively Slovenia's capital city, Ljubliana, where he
studied at the local University graduating last year, the gifted
young designer shows a gripping Gothic aesthetic with
uncommon laser cut leather coats paired with silk underskirts
whose eerie look is mitigated by tiny ruffles and lace 
decors giving a romantic undertone.

Architectural inspired, carefully constructed shapes that jog
my memory back to the ones by Polish designer Anna Dudzinska,
elegantly accessorized with knitted Balaclavas in a really
interesting take on medieval attire: no wonder ”FranzMadonna”
won Peter the Mercator prize for innovative approach.

The young Balkan talent works with fellow designer Almira Sadar
on a consultancy basis as well as stylist (he came to style 
the video ”Krinolinije”) and his works are featured in Squat 
gallery shop in Ljubliana, the independent lab whose main 
area of work is fashion design providing creative solutions 
to artists, designers and independent brands.
”FranzMadonna” is available on NJAL, Not Just A Label
the creative hub which is always an early bird when it 
comes to discover new talents and thriving trends.

> all images © Peter Morvin, via NJAL <

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Mabille's femmes en fleurs

Don't get fooled by the big floral headpieces in Alexis Mabille's
spring 2012 haute couture collection yesterday on the runway
of Paris Haute Couture nor by the painted faces of the models
matching the overwhelming flowers, it seems to be just a 
dazzling coup de théâtre hiding the lack of new ideas.

The Lyons-born designer whose reivention of the bow tie
came to define his work began his career as a costume
designer at Lyon Opéra before completing a three-year
degree course at the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute
Couture and started training at Ungaro and Nina Ricci.

He joined Christian Dior working on jewelry and men's
accessory collections under John Galliano and Hedi
Slimane, his professional mentors, and in 2005 launched
his own RTW unisex collection and Treizeor, the line
of butterfly knots that became his distinctive sign and 
briskly made his name as the French breakthrough 
designer with a fresh take on unisex fashion.

I love his attitude towards fashion and I think he has the
right dynamic for haute couture: Mabille knows how to be
traditional and revolutionary at the same time, his looks
are ”couture unisex” being inspired by Couture itself yet
IMHO the whole collection tells nothing new except for
the candy-colored dresses: maybe Mabille chose not to
risk in these troubled times when the whole concept
of doing couture is rejiggered by the day.

> all images via fashionising.com <

Monday, 23 January 2012

Armoire or the chemistry of style

”To engineer the perfect dress” is the proud motto of
Malaysian ready-to-wear brand 'Armoire' founded by
emerging designer Evon Tan, an absolute newcomer
in the competitive world of fashion who graduated 
from Melbourne's Monash University with a 
degree in chemical engineering.

After returning to Malaysia she joined a garment
manufacturing and exporting company dealing with
European brands where she gained the knowledge
of dressmaking and understood the work behind it.
Guided by her inborn sense of style, Evon began
creating outfits for confident and sophisticated young
ladies based on modern simplicity and fine tailoring
from her engineering grounding's viewpoint strongly
pursuing her dream to establish her own brand.

Armoire's debut collection ”Happiness, Freedom,
Love & Sophistication” was released and launched
in Singapore last year receiving a favorable outcome
and a wide media coverage that came to boost the
opening of the first flagship store in Johor Bahru.
Evon's passion leads her to develop new designs
such as the latest s/s '12 romance bridal and evening
gowns collection made with superb workmanship.

I had the pleasure to set my eyes on Armoire's upcoming
s/s 2012/13 collection which is a clever interpretation of
how ladies of the 1960s would dress like if transported
through time to the modern days; an essential set,
down to the nitty-gritty of tailoring in which cut, quality 
fabrics and attention to detail make the difference.
Clean, feminine silhouettes with minimalist designs
and delicate detailing bearing a timeless yet versatile
allure of modern daywear, utterly true to the 
”to engineer the perfect dress” brand's philosophy.

> all lookbook images © by Coolcat.artz courtesy of Armoire™ <

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Laura the brave

collage with images © by Stephan Kogelman/AP
Kudos to Dutch teen sailor Laura Dekker who docked 
her boat 'Guppy' in Simpson Bay Marina in St. Maarten 
yesterday after the yearlong voyage that made her 
the youngest person ever to sail alone around the world.
Born on a boat in Whangarei harbor, New Zealand, Laura
has always dreamed of sailing but she proved to be much
more than a dreamer: she's the lionhearted young woman
who fought rules and regulations as well high seas and
heavy winds. ”I learned so much about myself along the
way...” she writes on her blog modestly neglecting 
how much she's able to teach us all. Brava Laura!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Berliner cat-titude

image credit: Johannes Eisele/Afp photo
A few days ago at Mercedes-Benz Berlin fashion week
a model walked the runway mimicking a cat introducing 
German couture designer Guido Maria Kretschmer's AW
2012 collection. Kretschmer is known for his glamorous
dresses made with swanky materials and has been
celebrated as 'the German Valentino' but to be frank I'm
nuts more about the show's styling than the collection.
Hope you had a nice Caturday.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Japan's beauty pioneer

Felice Beato (1833-1908) was one of the first photographers
to take and sell pictures in East Asia as well one of the
first war visual reporters whose work indisputably 
represents the prototype of photojournalism.
The British-Italian pioneer photographer was born in
Venice, began to work around the Mediterranean and as war
reporter documenting several wars before landing in Japan
in 1863 to open his own commercial studio in Yokohama.

Established as a treaty port, the town rapidly grew bustling
with activity during a period of increasing modernization 
for the whole country, the Meiji period.
Beato brought to Japan a considerable inventory of negatives
and captured memorable portraits, landscapes and genre
scenes (unfortunately his first images in Japan were 
lost in the fire that came to destroy much of the 
city three years later his arrival).

He frantically worked to rebuild his archives producing
hundreds of images that catered to the taste of foreign
merchants and the growing tourist market, Beato
introduced the hand-colored technique and his work
had great impact on other photographers and artists,
originating the so-called 'school of Yokohama'.
His ”Photographic Views of Japan with Historical 
and Descriptive Notes” album is hailed as a 
milestone in photography.

He developed an extraordinary visual record of Japan
but I obviously picked out only some women studio portraits:
pictures of sublime beauty, delicately colored with watercolors,
often oval-framed, with amazing and quite up-to-date hues
revisiting the traditional Ukiyo-e woodblock prints
showing beautiful women in wide sleeved kimonos and
traditional costumes. Images whose appeal and elegance
are undoubtedly unique, awe-inspiring and timeless,
just like 'the land where the sun rises'!

Felice Beato's images of bygone Japan are on display together
with the ones by Kusakabe Kimbei in the current exhibition
Fotografia del Giappone (1860-1910). I capolavori”
at the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti of Venice
with more than 150 breathtaking original albumine prints. 

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Ophelia in the rough

'Ophelia' is the name of Gregory Nicholas' graduate
collection, a convincing capsule showing a romantic
yet rotten and decayed aesthetic inspired by the
ethereal beauty of Shakespeare's heroine.

Gregory is a young independent fashion and print
designer graduated from the unending breeding grounds
of Central Saint Martin's with a BA in fashion print
and a penchant for raw materials and rough textures
whose contemporary, feminine shapes mix together
printed silk and leather in a clever urban-dark 
interpretation of Ophelia (definitely not the Millais' one).

But what I like the most are Gregory's prints and his
idea of surface painting, he works with dyes and skillfully
creates patterns by hand before digitally rework and
arrange them for the fabric: I love their 3-D appearance
as well the plain contrast between silk's 
brightness and leather's blur.

”I wanted something extremely tough and raw to co-exist
with the romantic element of the collection so using
leather which I distressed in a number of ways 

allowed me to achieve the idea” he declared.
Gregory reshapes the familiar image of drowned
Ophelia carrying flowers into a cool goth she-warrior.

all images © by David Abrahams, styled by Gemma Hyslop & Heather Lyttle