Thursday, September 22, 2005

Best Collection's of the Last Few Years - Part 1, Women's........ News: Junya Watanabe - Aquascutum Collaboration

I thought long and hard about choosing a proper adjective for the title of this post. What is a good collection - is it beautiful, influential, unique, artistic, innovative? I guess the word "Best" has a bit of everything, and that's why I chose it. Anyway, below are my favorite women's collections since 2000. I will follow up with the mens next week.


This breathtaking collection was so innovative in terms of fabric.
Each piece is made of the multiple
layer light fabric,
and could be folded completely flat.


The theme of this collection
was shipwrecks and pirates.
Some of the most beautiful
creations I have ever seen.
One thing I love about McQueen
is how his themes really
translate onto the runway.
Many designers can not do
that and have to resort to
verbal descriptions.


Another incredible collection
from one of the strongest seasons overall.
All silhouettes were twisted and wrapped
- no straight lines.
And it worked beautifully!


I can't seem to get away from that
womenswear season, but I couldn't pass this collection. Chalayan is a genius, but his genius is often hard to see on the runway, because of the incredible amount of detail that is not apparent at first view. I picked this collection because that's where his skills are most visible.


I think that right now Junya
is the most talented womenswear
designer on earth. His
creations are not just gorgeous,
structural, and complex,
but his fabrics are interesting
and used in uncommon ways.
Really, did you think one can
do such things with denim?!


And last but not least.
This was just an incredibly
strong collection,
full of layering, amazing coats,
jackets, and boots.
The equestrian theme is apparent
and beautifully executed.
Romantic, yet powerful.


So, Comme des Garcons is on a real collaborations kick.
Today I read a blurb in the current issue of Surface magazine that Junya Watanabe collaborated with Aquscutum to recreate their two classic English trench coats. He did one version in hand-shaved (whatever that means) black denim, and one in bright neon colored nylon. There was a picture of the nylon version - can't say I was impressed. Maybe because it was extremely orange...

Monday, September 12, 2005

Fashion Critic's New York City Shopping Guide - Map included!

Shopping guides are like opinions – everybody has one. It's easy to get lost in the maze of these guides, just like in the maze of any type of information. I personally have been frustrated plenty of times by shopping guides that offered Bloomingdales as a prime shopping destination. What I want to present here is a shopping guide tailored to my fashion philosophy – stores with an interesting selection by creative designers. Reading my recommendations will also let you shed some light on my personal tastes.

So, without further a due:

ATELIER – My personal favorite. A beautiful, dark, romantic space filled with beautiful dark, romantic clothes – I can not ask for more. This is a small men’s shop and the people who own and work there – Karlo and Jo-Jo are knowledgable, friendly, and have a genuine passion for what they do. The store carries: Carpe Diem/Lmaltieri/Linea, Carol Christian Poell, Ann Demeulemeester, Raf Simons, Rick Owens, Undercover, Number (N)ine, Cloak, and jewelry by Sean Leane. Black and white colors dominate the racks.
125 Crosby Street, between Houston and Prince – SoHo

IF – A great unisex boutique, but the service can be very spotty. This store has been in business for a long time and has a loyal, artsy clientele, somewhat more mature than most store. IF was responsible for introducing Martin Margiela to the US, and has been his biggest supporter ever since. Other designers in store: Comme des Garcons, Junya Watanabe, Dries van Noten, Undercover, Sacai, Carpe Diem, Paul Hardnen, Veronique Branquinho, Gary Graham, and more.
94 Grand Street, between Greene and Mercer - SoHo

SEVEN – A young cool unisex store that is not afraid to take chances. The staff is really laid-back, which is always a plus. Their stock is a mix of “indie” hype (Imitation of Christ), and substance (A.F. Vandevorst). Other designers featured – Raf Simons, Boudicca, Veronique Leroy, Preen, Bless, Gaspard Yurkievich, Cosmic Wonder, etc.
They should be moving into their new space any day now (which is what they’ve been saying for half a year already), but for now you can shop directly from their website.
110 Mercer Street (coming soon) - SoHo

KIRNA ZABETE – This is a women’s only boutique. I have mixed feelings about the store, as I can’t exactly underline their aesthetic. Some of it is very girly la-la land type of clothes, but sometimes it has flashes of brilliance. Designers featured, Rick Owens, Gaultier, Hussein Chalayan, Viktor and Rolf, Chloe, etc…
96 Greene St – SoHo

OTTO TOOTSI PLOHOUND – Shoe Mecca, baby!!! A large and interesting unisex selection of shoes in their three locations. Goodies by Dries van Noten, Collection Privee, Prada (meh), Costume National, and many other, more obscure, but nevertheless interesting designers. They mix and match as they please from season to season, which is pretty cool. Beware – their flagship store on West Broadway closed because of the greedy landlords. I think their best location now is on 5th Ave.
137 5Th Avenue – Flat Iron
273 Lafayette St – Nolita
38 East 57th St – Midtown

CLOAK FLAGSHIP – Finally, Cloak, which is the only good brand that came out of the US fashion in a while, opens a store of its own, thanks to the owners of The Opening Ceremony (thank you, Umberto!). The space is beautiful in its austerity and seriousness. A dark library-like back wall hides a back office and fitting rooms. Gorgeous!
10 Greene St – SoHo

COMME DES GARCONS FLAGSHIP – Well, this is pretty self-evident. The service is aloof, if you care. The thing I like about the store (besides the funky interior) is that they have more CDG/Junya Watanabe accessories than other places and they sometimes are not that expensive.
520 West 22nd Street – Chelsea

ISSEY MIYAKE FLAGSHIP – Even if you are not into Miyake’s clothes, you must visit it for the architecture alone! The interior, designed by Frank Gehry is made of huge sheets of twisted metal, which makes a nice juxtaposition of the solid and the fluid.
119 Hudson Street – TriBeCa

DESTINATION – This store has mostly accessories and shoes, but also some clothes in a very eclectic mix. The space is vast and white, and the staff is friendly and non-chalant. They have stuff from Xavier Delcour, Collection Privee?, Kashura, Mastermind Japan, Jack Henry, and many many others. It’s definitely worth checking out. Besides, there is not much interesting left since the Meat Smelling District suffered from Death by Trends.
32 Little West 12th Street – Meat Packing District

VIA BUS STOP - This is a newcomer. The outpost of the Japanese Onward Kashimaya might prove to be a hit. Any store that carries Hussein Chalayn gets props from me, regardless. Other highlights include Ann-Valerie Hash and Viktor+Rolf. Women's only for now. They should get the menswear next spring.
172 Mercer St at Houston - SoHo

BARNEYS – Well, I guess I don’t have to tell you about this one. However, I go there for different reasons than the bubbleheads from Sex and the City. I like their service – none-intrusive, yet helpful. Their selection can vary by season from wonderful to so-so. What I like about Barneys is that they are willing to take a chance on an upcoming designer, as they’ve done with Label Under Construction, Ato and Cloak. They also don’t have problems dropping one (in my shopping history they’ve dropped the menswear by Ann Demeulemeester, Raf Simons, Carpe Diem, Carol Christian Poell, etc.), but hey – if one has to choose from the big bad department stores – Barneys is way better than the rest.
Men’s highlights – Dries van Noten, Martin Margiela, Comme des Garcons Homme Plus/Evergreen/Shirt, Junya Watanabe (unexplainably stuck on the 5th floor, while the rest of the designers is on the 3rd), Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, Dior Homme, Alexander McQueen, Rick Owens, Carpe Diem, Premiata and Collection Privee? footwear.
Women’s highlights – Ann Demeulemeester, Martin Margiela, Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garcons, Junya Watanabe, Boudicca, Rochas, Dries van Noten, Veronique Branqhuino, Rick Owens.
Madison and East 61st – Upper East Side

Friday, September 09, 2005

Designer Profile: Ann Demeulemeester News: I missed a Stephan Schneider show!

Designer Profile: Ann Demeulemeester

I guess I wouldn’t be true to myself if my first post (after the introduction) would have to be about other than my favorite designer, Ann Demeulemeester. Ann is my fashion love. Her incredibly romantic, androgynous style touches me like no other. Her designs are intelligent; the amount of thought she puts in them is amazing;

“I want to cut nonchalance into my clothes. To do that, you have to work with balance. For example, a jacket pocket will hang differently after you've put things in it. Clothes will eventually take the shape of your body — a favorite coat will have a completely different soul than an identical jacket before it has been worn. The idea that garments are alive is a big inspiration. I want to fill them with soul. I've worked on that for a long time through the cut, the fabrics, and the treatments. I want to create the shape of your arm in the sleeve of the jacket.”

Ann loves layering, and primarily works with black and white colors. Her signature, neo-gothic rock-n-roll look is unmistakable, and gives an edge to her collections. I think Ann is also a master of the moving silhouette. The way she cuts, along with her omnipresent use of tassels, buckles, and strings creates a sweeping, exciting movement. Yet, Ann manages to keep a sense of a soft romance in her clothes, and it is that mélange of soft edge, the masculine femininity, the dark romance that makes her a true artist – a designer with a clear philosophy and a strong identity. She never bows to trends, although trends sometimes intersect with her collections. She does not advertise. She lets the clothes speak for themselves, and to me they speak in the most beautiful voice.

A bit of the bio:

Ann graduated in 1981 from the fashion department of the Royal Academy of Art. She was one of the (in)famous Belgian Six, who have brought a fresh wave into world fashion. She produced her first for-sale collection in 1987. Her first catwalk fashion show took place in Paris in 1992. She launched her menswear line in 1998. She originally showed the menswear mixed with the women’s collections. Ann held her first standalone menswear show several months ago in Paris.

You can read the two available interviews with Ann by following these links:

Index Magazine

Here are some memorable images from her past and present work.

Spring/Summer 1992

Spring/Summer 1993

Spring/Summer 1996

Spring/Summer 1998

Fall/Winter 1999

Fall/Winter 2000

Fall/Winter 2001

Fall/Winter 2002

Spring/Summer 2003

Fall/Winter 2004

Spring/Summer 2005

Fall/Winter 2005

News: I missed the Stephan Schneider Show!!!

Let's face it, in the daft and drab circus that passes for a fashion week in New York, there are almost no shows that a discerning fashion critic would want to attend. I'll let others sneer at JLO & Co, though. I have access to virtually any show in Bryant Park thanks to a friend of mine, but I am not going to any - I simply couldn't be bothered. The only two shows I wanted to see were Cloak and Boudicca, but they don't show in Bryant Park. Imagine then my horror when I checked my Yahoo email yesterday to find out that I was invited to a surprise Stephan Schneider (who is one of the more interesting designers of the new Belgian breed) show and afterparty at Gigantic Brand the day before. Gee, thanks. Who the hell sends out an invite the day of the show?! Yes, I'm pissed.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Welcome to the Fashion Critic blog.

My goal is to create a blog that will examine and comment on fashion in general and on its cultural underpinnings. Fashion has a unique position because it stands at the intersection of art, utility, and commerce. The purpose of this blog is to explore all three sides. I have a great amount of experience and knowledge in that field, so I trust that you'll find a lot of interesting and new information here. I will post about my views on fashion, about my favorite and non-favorite designers, about fashion-related books and art exhibitions, about interesting stores I've come across, about fashion news, and so forth. I will try to do this in a critical and objective manner. However, I'm just a human, and I am bound to express my feelings, failry or not. To give you an indication of what this blog will be like - if you are a fan of the Japanese and Belgian fashion - you will feel right at home here.

Now for what this blog is not. I am not a fan of most mainstream designers and celebrities who exploit fashion solely for their own material benefit. I think they are a disease. So, you will not see me praising Louis Vuitton and Tom Ford here. This is also not a blog where you will see the latest Paris Hilton-like fashion pictures.

I will try to post at least once a week, but hopefully more often. Stay tuned and I hope you will enjoy it.


Fashion Critic
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