#2015 – Hillier Bartley

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Coming from the British designer duo, Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley, Hillier Bartley is a brand which breaks the industry codes. In February of this year, the first AW15 collection of Hillier Bartley was quietly presented to a few buyers; then, a mysterious Instagram account appeared which instantly felt like an intimate, designer mood-board. But how the new vision of these two contemporary designers really look like? The collection, just like the brand, reflects the edgy, slightly decadent style of the designers – it also celebrates British tailoring with a feminine twist. The tuxedo scarves, floor-sweeping dresses and knits gave the overall effect a seductive softness / slouchiness. Bartley has recently stated in the autumn issue of i-D, “as you get older you become so much more in tune with your own sexuality. This collection I feel is the sexiest thing I’ve ever done.” Even though it’s filled with men’s basics, it’s elegant, and indeed, sexy at the same time. Warm wool coats, fringed bags, satin blouses (“A satin blouse with no bra! That reminded me immediately of Madonna in a blue Gucci silk… Oh yeah, you could see her nips. That’s what I like” Hillier describedand lady-like silk gowns – and all of that kept in a moody, nostalgic manner.

But what makes this brand even more outstanding  is the way the women behind it do the “business”. As the industry is in a constant marathon and it doesn’t seem to slow its pace, Hillier and Bartley don’t want their baby-brand to become a fussy institution. “At the moment I feel like I could happily not do another show. I don’t think it fits what we’re a trying to do. I would much prefer to show someone, and talk about it myself and have them trying things on and feeling it” the designers said in the interview. Love this hearty and humane approach so much, as it’s frequently missed in today’s fashion. Wishing the designers to keep up with their exceptional project in 2016!

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#2015 – Alessandro Michele

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The year of 2015 was a strong nod to the beauty of Italian craftsmanship, and it’s all thanks to Alessandro Michele. At the beginning of the year, nobody has suspected the designer will revamp Gucci from an Euro-sleek wardrobe of Tom Ford and Frida Gianini into a poetic journey with such success. Michele’s feminine silhouettes, pussy bow shirts and Dionysus bags are the world-wide best-sellers – and I am a great fun of his romantic Gucci girl.

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AW15 – Once upon a time, Alessandro Michele entered the house and everybody was like “who is this guy?” His first collection for Gucci perfectly highlighted his style. Michele gave us Wes Anderson-like aristocratic grannies, romantic poets and lots of other things that Frida Gianini has never introduced to the label. The sheer lace tops are totally opposite to the “woman of success” blazers Frida used to show off so oftenly. The entire attitude changed and even the advertisemnt campaign’s (now elusively photographed by Glen Luchford, not enhanced-filter of Mert & Alas) mood evolved into something more chilled-out, relaxed and… surprisingly, appealing.

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Resort’16  – The pre-summer Gucci show was not only a surprise due to its appearance in New York. It was intriguing.   The word “eclectic” came up constantly, when Michele was talking about the collection backstage. He also talked of “love” fuelling the collection, which incidentally appeared on a sweater in French –”aveugle par l’amour”. So hippie and optimistic, which is what Michele’s vibe is all about. “I’m inspired by a lot of things – from the street, antiques, vintage wardrobes. It’s impossible to explain the exact point of inspiration. It’s about being free to love, free to express, free to show who you are through the way you dress,” said Michele. “Luxury means that you show the way you dress with eccentricity. It’s almost like a new kind of jetset – instead of roaming around the world, you’re roaming with your clothes.” As you see, even the approach to luxury, which is up to now an essence of the brand, has changed.

But coming back to the venue. Gucci chose an inustrial, gallery space in New York’s Chelsea, furnished with Persian rugs. As a remix of orchestral soundtracks started up, the garage doors to the gallery were raised up and the models walked in from the street, looking flawless and so realistic. And the street is certainly where Michele sees his eclectic cast existing. No wonder why the clothes might (or even should) remind you of Williamsburg’s thrift shops and Milanese flea markets, where the clothes are all about kitschy embroidery and cheesy patterns. But in case of Alessandro Michele and his mesmerising Gucci affair, it was all about hand-made embellishments (the snakes!), gold glitter on the shoes, soft lace and imperial Astrakhan jackets.

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SS16 Men – “Detournement is the art of taking some parts of the past and using them in the present with a contemporary approach and away from their original contest” is what Alessandro Michele of Gucci said before his SS16 show for men. “I love to work with the past to translate the future,” explained Michele, and although his designs are certainly rooted in Gucci’s heritage (those horse-bit loafers, the green and red equestrian stripes, bee motifs and famous GG logos) they update the house’s codes in a way that’s unrecognisable, thanks to his desire of not wanting “to stay a prisoner inside of the brand.” There are many retro references, with suede jackets and wide collars adapted from classic silhouettes of the 70s, but there is, as Michele puts it, no room for nostalgia – his focus is on youth. “They really are the future – when someone asks me what the future is? The future is now, between us, between young people,” he says. Also, the dynamic, new creative director of Gucci has a truly amazing point of view on beauty for men fashion. “My idea of masculinity is beauty,” Michele said backstage. “If you want to be beauty you can be beauty how you want; it doesn’t mean that you are not a man or woman.” This statement is strongly visible in this collection – hand-made embroideries, royal textiles, tudoresque rings and that Italian “dolce vita” attitude towards life is felt all over these clothes. As it is in Italian fashion philosophy (thank you, Miuccia Prada) to have female models in a menswear collection, the mesmerizing robes and silk scarves were jaw-dropping for both genders. And even though, many of these clothes feel like out of this era, they are all looking far into the future. It is a great pleasure to have a peek at all that artisanal beauty and reflect on it in the same, poetic way. Maybe because Michele himself is a great poet?

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SS16 – Breaking down Gucci‘s recent spring-summer 2016 collection is like reinterpreting every painting in a museum. Each look is totally different. And each has its own woman and story behind it. For his first, womenswear summer season, Michele made embroidery his first privilege. Hundreds of embroidered, tiny sequins created cartoonish trompe l’oeil bows, frills and collars. One look with a bra and skirt was entirely constructed in this style – and if you are an observant person, you could notice adorable lady-bugs embellished on ties and parrots over-laying lace shirts. There is no better way to experience the craftsmanship of Alessandro’s vision as to see the newly renovated Gucci boutique on Via Montenapoleone. Here, you can touch the clothes from both autumn-winter 2015 and resort 2016 collections – each piece is absolutely different. A hand-embroidered bird on mink-coat lining; velvet flowers decorate the head-pieces; surely, “the devil is in the details”. I totally agree with that in terms of Michele’s Gucci, and Italian fashion in overall.

Moreover, the designer of Gucci tipped his toes in Italian fashion history for this season – there were references to early Missoni’s lurex zig-zags and the bold 70’s of Italy. Michele said he had been thinking about the Renaissance and the 70s specifically – both great eras for Italy in their own ways. Although this very bright collection was all about femininity (the ruffled dresses, the flower pussy-bows), it had a lot to do with punk. Biker jackets (of course, embroidered with roses), spiked killer-heels and sharp and mini-skirts were there too, during the fashion show. Gucci by Alessandro Michele is generally called “vintage” or “nostalgic“. But the designer totally disagrees with these two words. “It’s a big trip! Of course I am interested in personal style and quirkiness. There are things here that look vintage, but don’t really exist as vintage—it’s the illusion of it. I’m not nostalgic! I’d like to shake it up again.” You can love or hate the new Gucci. Spring-summer 2016 might look too bold, if you look at the collection through the thumbnails – however, one thing’s sure for both of the sides. The attention paid to the detail was missed for a long time in ready-to-wear seasons, just like the real splendour and beauty of Italian craftsmanship. And Alessandro Michele is pioneering it once again in 2015. And in 2016 as well!

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#2015 – Vetements

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Vetements in French means “clothes” – but Vetements goes far beyond the meaning of clothes in today’s fashion industry. It exaggerates clothes. It elongates the sleeves, gives volume to cowboy boots and makes floral grandma dresses look provocative, and kind of sexy. Led by Demna Gvasalia and six other anymous designers, who met while working as design team at Maison (Martin) Margiela, Vetements is the new force which makes fashion rules feel even more useless than ever.

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AW15 – Even their autumn-winter fashion show wasn’t a typical event where clothes were celebrated in a traditional way. But don’t think it was done in a fussy, Chanel way – oh no. The “creative network” of the brand took their guests to Le Depot, a sleazy sex-club, where everybody felt a mood of anti-fashion. At first sight, you might not really understand the collection – but in reality, it is not that deep in its meaning as you might think. These clothes, even though look pretty grotesque, are wearable. Gvasalia claims “as long as we can make clothes that people want to wear and they find them cool and relevant, that’s my understanding of hype”. Although the styling is complicated and well-considered (or not), separately the clothes are easy. Take the over-sized trench coat. You can wear it with everything – even if you might look like a hobo, you look like a anti-fashion person. But the thing about Vetements is, that you need to feel this anti-fashion thing. And live in it, consciously.

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SS16 – For summer, Vetements presented its collection in a tacky Chinese restaurant. But, even though the SS16 mood-board wasn’t focused on China nor on Asia, it reflected the spirit of this place through old-fashioned kitsch. Floral dresses inspired by aprons of Gvasalia’s grandmother, sequined capes, velvet sweatshirts and tunics – and all of that bound up with ultra-long leather belts with Harley-Davidson-style buckles. The eerie soundtrack of the collection perfecly described the new season’s attitude – it began with gentle waltz and then abruptly descended into Mayhem – the Norwegian heavy metal group. The  black hoodies featuring a print based on Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet in Titanic burst confusion (maybe one of Vetements’ designers loves / hates this film?), however the leather jackets that were constructed to be comfortable when sat on real bikes made much sense. The must-have, best-selling jeans were renewed to be more comfortable and affordable. In other words, the summer version of Vetements  is rather an expansion of the last season’s wardrobe than a new idea. But in reality, it absolutely made the collection feel more desirable, just like the cowboy boots or sock heels.

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2016 will be a very special year for Vetements’ leading designer, Demna, as he is going to take Balenciaga under his creative direction! And basically, I can’t wait to see his debut collection in March.

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#2015 – Rosie Assoulin

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So, 2015 approaches its end, and it’s the perfect time to look back at the fashion designers who really made the cut this year. New York, London, Milan and Paris are full of great minds – but some of them have truly changed the course of trends, or rather the tendency for anti-trends. In my subjective choice, I searched for both, individualism and something more than “fashion”. 2015 is a year of designers, who made their creative vision a contemporary philosophy of everyday dressing and, of course, beauty.

Many designer who do evening-wear think that an excessive amount of Swarovski and flesh-exposing-cuts is just it. But thankfully, Rosie Assoulin is the woman who says a loud “NO” to that nonsense. The New York-based designer creates dresses which are mostly categorised as “evening” ones, but surprisingly look as good with white sneakers as with heels. By looking at her previous collections, it’s easy to conclude, that these simply cut, boldly coloured dresses look at their best with sweatpants and yes, even with hoodies.

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AW15 – The stand-out pieces of this collection are the signature, cropped tops worn over white shirts, corduroy pants and of course, the dreamy maxi-gowns. The winter collection went totally against the grey-scale colour palette, giving us a diversity of reds, pinks and greens.

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Resort’16 – Ruffles! Everywhere! On trousers, on shirts, on dresses – a ruffle mania. Rosie Assoulin presented a playful collection, which fused her evening attitude with something more R&B. The statement culottes had those huge, hand-made daisy-shaped cut-outs while her classy dresses smartly flipped into a fancy party or a friend’s brunch simultaneously. Also, the Woodstock-like dyed over-sized trousers had a moment. But again, the ruffles were really the stars of this collection – the curcuma coloured top with ruffled sleeves was everything. Just like the pink top which surrealistically reminded an ethereal waterfall made of ruffles.

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SS16 – For her spring-summer 2016, the designer took us to one of New York’s public pools, which had its murals painted by Keith Haring. The location had a lot to do with the collection – swimwear was the key, and that was visible by looking at the very first looks. Bikini tops were worn in different configurations, while happy, slightly trippy stripes covered the voluminous flares. The colours were bold and nutritious – intensive colours made me want summer to come back as fast as possible! Assoulin’s signatures gowns are famous among New York fashionistas for their carefree attitude – this season, they had something to do with Diana Ross’ glamour. Ruffles, bows – and beautiful silhouettes are as usual ruling. That’s sure – Rosie truly enjoys her play with fashion! And I wish her the same in 2016!

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Berlin: Gallery Weekend 2015

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This year’s Gallery Weekend in Berlin was awesome. The people present during the event, the beautiful moments and of course the artworks shown to the public felt fresh and absolutely creative. I discovered a lot of new artists, but two of them were definitely the highlights for me – Hans Aichinger and Philipp Fürhofer. Aichinger’s works are characterised by the sophisticated lighting and his precisely painted figures that are emphasised by the minimal backround. Fürhofer art is totally different, though – his installations suggest the artist implements a range of techniques by working layers of impasto over transparent materials. At times they appear as three-dimensional objects brightened up with light, while at other times they are absorbed into the surrounding space, blurring the reality with imagination. Also, while visiting the whole event, I visited my favourite store, Andreas Murkudis and a pop-up store of vintage furniture which had a great variety of rugs from Nepal.

Here is my photo-recap from this über-Berliner trip.

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