Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Thom Browne Fall 2014/15 - The Deepest Fantasy

As the Fall is approaching and the light is fading away, the setting around this double-act play by Thom Browne was perfect. Separated into two distinct sides; the Animal Kingdom and the Nobles; the hunter and the hunted. This play was a disturbing parade. The first part was the animals in multiple shades of grey, walking around the squared-park, all grey. The garments were all messy with topstitched seams, to reflect the wild and raw nature of the animals in front of the spectators. The prey was being watched alongside a delightful Prologue by Alexandre Desplat, carrying us away to a wonderland emphasised by the elephant’s head with a well-known similarity. The head of Cthulhu, who is a "source of constant anxiety for mankind at a subconscious level", here, genuinely transplanted into the animals’s mind.

The second part; the Nobles, blowing hard with their magnificent outfits, on a military rhythm along the Rendez Vous by the same compositor as the prologue. Like a milice showing off their weapons and armour before running after their prey. Bearing an imposing silhouette, with a oak-leaves camouflage covering the faces and almost all of the outfits, intertwining a royal tapestry and the colours of Alice in her wonderland. This surreal catwalk, is a great representation of the mankind's mind. The perception of our surroundings is always a matter of apprehension, here the dominance claimed by the hunters are nothing less than a mask, a mask of fantasy, a bleak fantasy of superciliousness.

Friday, 25 April 2014

コム・デ・ギャルソン SS14

Designed by Rei Kawakubo, this new collection from Comme des Garçons is the result of the house, unstructured and totally apart form the human body. Sometimes you can feel an harmony with the body like a symbiosis but not on this catwalk. Each outfit is only carried by a model and there is no accord, the model is like a prisoner, like a doll from her dress. At some points she reminds me of Thom Browne, they both don't really think about ease and "wearability", they just do what they like, what they think about how to achieve what they want to show. This is a huge advantage that Rei holds, because she does not play with the whole marketing and trendy thing that remains outside the catwalk and in the street, she does not play with money. Of course she mades loads of money, but like an artist she will do her job first and see after that if it works like she thought it would, and like an accomplished artist it will work perfectly. Therefore she did not follow the trend of printed jumpers which invaded the catwalk since at least two years by now, and I am quite happy with that because we need some defiant, who will not give in just because of the greedy marketing aspect of the "brand", and who will carry on the arty way of thinking of the designers.

Créé par Rei Kawakubo, cette nouvelle collection de Comme Des Garçons n'est que la suite logique de cette maison, dé-structurée et complètement mise à part du corps humain. Parfois il nous arrive de sentir une harmonie entre le corps et la tenue comme une symbiose mais pas dans ce défilé. Chaque tenue est portée par le mannequin et il n'y a pas d'accord, le mannequin est comme prisonnière, un peu comme une poupée de sa robe. Quelque part, elle me rappelle Thom Browne, tous deux ne pensent pas vraiment aux termes d'aisance et de "portabilité", ils ne font juste que ce qu'ils aiment, ce qu'ils pensent afin de pouvoir obtenir ce qu'ils souhaitent montrer. C'est un énorme avantage que Rei garde, parce que elle ne joue pas avec l'aspect marketing et les tendances qui restent dans la rue et en dehors du défilé, elle ne joue pas avec l'argent. Bien sûr elle en engrange énormément, mais comme un artiste elle va d'abord faire son boulot en premier et observera les conséquences après, et tout comme un artiste accompli ça marchera. De ce fait, elle n'a pas suivi les tendances des imprimés sur les pulls qui n'ont fait qu'envahir les défilés depuis au moins deux ans maintenant, et j'en suis assez content car il faut bien quelques réfractaires, qui ne se plieront pas à une tendance juste pour suivre un plan marketing avide, et qui vont perpétuer l'aspect artistique des créateurs.

Monday, 21 October 2013

The fashionable social runner

A decade ago, running was synonym of efforts, a lot of efforts and just by the idea of running you could get tired or bored already. Recently we see a new trend coming up, brought by Nike with its Nike fuel, and Nike + technology and "social" application. All of that mixed with a really strong trend of running "club", because people do care a lot more about their health and want to have a good one therefore running is one of the easiest way to get a good health and to get fit. They also call themselves more a family or a crew rather than a club, they do run together sharing this amazing experience of running with friends among the city's street, often at night time. Recently around two years now, Nike introduced Nike+, an application recording and gathering your performances during your runs through your devices, iPhone, iPod, or Nike+ SportWatch GPS.

“We continue to innovate around the Nike+ ecosystem to deliver the very best experiences for our consumers, motivating and inspiring athletes at all levels,” said Stefan Olander, Nike’s VP of Digital Sport. “The Nike+ Fuel Lab, along with new Nike+ FuelBand SE and Nike+ Apps significantly enhance our NikeFuel platform.”

It is a bit geeky to wear a FuelBand I have to admit but it helped a lot of people to mix effort and game as Nike+ allows you to challenge your friend and to record everything you do even when you walk. I do not use the FuelBand I only use Nike+ to record my run with my iPhone at the moment, but soon with my SportWatch! To even be more social since the last update you can even take picture during your run and share them with your friend, quite interesting during a night run when you explore your town.

We also all know the hype around Nike shoes, Blazer, AM, Roshe, FreeRun, and now Footscape (I would kill to find my red/black again and this time I will not even wonder if I should buy them or not, I will definitely buy them). Nike is really good at Fashion by offering all kind of sneakers we may need during the day, to run, to a daily use to be worn as a proper outfit, therefore we find the same scheme for their clothes, new collection each summer/winter (roughly) and also collaboration and the most recent one is the one with Undercover Gyakusou which gave us some amazing pieces that I really would like to own.

But also do check the Fleece line by Nike which give us a good idea of what is trendy as streetwear, also use in darker outfit mixed with some brands as silent, RO, julius, visvim, damir doma, ...

Friday, 18 October 2013

Branding what's new? #1

As we all know Slimane made a noisy come back, from the media to the front row, this bazar was not expected from the famous French designer but he can handle it. He did what a lot of designers did before him at a small range, they invited bloggers and removed people from the front row who were just there by habit and not by interest nor by a worth interest from the House anymore, therefore Slimane did invite more bloggers and more celebrities because they are the main free-advertisement for any brand, who does not want a free sandwich man wearing your own clothes to give envy to people in the media, blog and even in the street?

But Slimane was at the right place at the right time, people were just jealous that this guy, from Dior Homme who re-branded the whole Homme line, was able to reach the new DA position at Yves Saint Laurent. Conservatism peoples, as always, were and still against the total YSL rebranding in Saint Laurent Paris (SLP), Hedi S. wanted to remove all roots from the past, going through the present to reach the future is not easy when you carry a spirit like YSL, you have to bring a new fresh air to the House if you do not want to stay in the shadow of the big man. That is what H.S. did, his ego does not want him to be in the shadow of someone, he wants to be under the spotlight, on the stage, like a rock star, that is what he likes the most, the scene. But he just did what he has to do, by changing the name as a lot of others designers like Balenciaga, Givenchy, and almost all of them, he just updated the brand to be in the modern era of fashion.  The whole design of their marketing tools (bags, hanger, and so on) also changed to be more simple and also very strong, black and white, the Slimane's favourite setup, it is one of the most powerful combination you are very attracted by it by curiosity but also fascination, yes same as Dior Homme.

So to get back to our new branding directive, they want to focus more on social media and their images from customer’s eyes and also by upcoming customers. Therefore PR and strong designers are becoming more social, through Twitter, Facebook, random events in store, this will bring a new relationship with the public, they are now part of the business, they are not only looking at the window, they can be now the model to which everyone looks at.  This strategy is  also dangerous because you cannot control it and by getting free advertisement, it can also drag your reputation down or at least dye it, everyone wants a famous lifestyle blogger wearing your new collection, but what is the point? If you are an Haute-Couture fashion designers, will you seriously think that people will buy your most expensive clothes when they see a £3K dress on a random “famous” blond girl from the internet? They will not, except if you are like Kenzo Paris (for example they are not the only one) if you have a street line you will obviously be able to boost your sales as people will buy this cheap line because it is part of a Haute-Couture house and it is cheap so why would you not buy it? You have to decide what you want to be, do you want to look like a brand which is spreading its products through the crowd just to be seen everywhere? Does it really boost your sales? If you are from the Haute Couture world, do you really need that kind of cheap advertisement to get new customers when you are established since more than 60 years?  Your choice, your reputation, this whole new thing is too young to be blamed nor analysed properly but I am pretty sure that this kind of advertisement will kill the Haute Couture fame and prestige if you embrace it. 

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Angela Ahrendts left, what's behind? Creativity.

We all know by now, that Angela A. is leaving her Chief Executive position at Burberry to join Apple in the middle of next year, obviously she did an amazing job by holding the business and she has this sense of the market that mades her successful into the fashion world. By recruiting her and a bit earlier the ex-CEO of YSL, Paul Deneve, Apple does not want to miss their attempt to reach the catwalk with their upcoming tech-wear lines, and to be honest I am quite hurried to see it. 
So who is the next Chief Executive of Burberry? The man who transformed the whole Trench line, the most conservatism line of Burberry, into one of the most trendy-social-networking garment from a fashion brand. By making the Art of the Trench in 2009 when he became the chief creative director, Christopher Bailey "rebranded" the whole line, by gathering customers from all around the world through pictures taken by themselves and shared on the official website of Burberry. It was way more than just a trench, from the beginning it was also a part of the company put in each trench but now it is a link, a lifestyle shared by all of these customers. As the chairman said in the video made by the company to announce the major change inside the company : "I have no doubt that Christopher’s vision and leadership, with the excellent management team in place, will keep Burberry on the forefront creatively, digitally and financially" - thus yes we have no doubt about the creative and digital skill of Christopher B. but will he be good enough to endorse his new role as CEO? Leading a company such as Burberry is not like running a local company, there are billions played there, but we can believe into their choice, if Bailey is the new chief executive of Burberry that means he can do it, maybe not easily but smoothly and surely. His creativity and digital sense will open some new possibilities and directives to the brand which may have not be seen yet in the fashion world. It is pretty obvious that he will encounter difficulties and hopefully his advisors will be there to help him to carry on what Angela Ahrendts has done for the company and carry it in the same direction where it is going now; Burberry is the current leader in the fashion world stirring the modern digital world and the luxurious world together.

+ From Reuters: Burberry also released yesterday morning recent trading results, revealing 17 percent growth in retail sales in the last six months. Total revenue rose 14 percent to £1.03 billion (about $1.59 billion at current exchange rates) helped by high single-digit growth in the America, and double-digit growth outside in the rest of the world. The company shares faced a lose of 6% because of the CEO departure it may regain its strength soon.