Serendipity. Lauren Manoogian Resort 2021

Switching from digital couture to one of the most heavenly labels in New York – Lauren Manoogian. For resort 2021, the designer’s earthy, tonal, and textural designs go side by side with her sculptural, wabi-sabi knits and accessories. Due to the pandemic, Manoogian was confined to her studio in Brooklyn and as such, her lineup, based on some greatest hits and forgotten gems from her archive, had to be captured with a more localized, low-key approach – no architectural backgrounds as usual. She hired two models, one that came in the morning and one in the afternoon, and photographed the clothes inside the studio with natural light and a backdrop made from items she picked up at the local hardware store. The finished images are unretouched, further emphasizing the organic look and feel of Manoogian’s new pieces. Soft blue and gray turtleneck dresses and bouclé blanket capes looked right at home in the serene, natural setting of Manoogian’s at-home studio. So too did the roomy, oversized trousers, cozy cardigans, and voluminous robes. Manoogian’s designs are grounding and unfussy but still striking, ideal for uncertain times like ours. The knis really speaks for itself, simple and timeless.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Eccentric Girl. Chanel AW20 Couture

Things started looking up for this unusual, digital haute couture season the moment Chanel revealed its gorgeous collection by Virginie Viard. No pointless mega-productions with special effects, just a short video and a proper look-book shot by Mikael Jansson starring Adut Akech and Rianne Van Rompaey. The focus is on the clothes, which are a delight. “I was thinking about eccentric girls,” Virginie Viard said of her autumn-winter 2020 couture line-up. In particular, Viard was remembering Karl Lagerfeld heading off to parties with his sometime muse, the madcap Princess Diane de Beauvau-Craon, who as a teenage debutante got herself an American crewcut to give some punk edge to the pretty but detested pink dress her mother had chosen for her coming-out ball. “Life with her around is the ideal for me,” Lagerfeld said of de Beauvau-Craon when he spoke with Vogue, “because life must never be flat. She gives a light spirit, yet she is deeply spiritual.” Viard wanted to swing to some escapist opulence after last season’s soulful austerity – and because we all need the dream of a grand party right now! Viard was thinking of “things that maybe I would not do in a show – punk hair, fine jewelry.” Those Chanel haute bijoux included yellow diamond lions (Chanel herself was a Leo) and tiaras. The de Beauvau-Craon touch erupts in the form of a short frothy taffeta dress and faille ball skirts or a full-skirted retro cocktail dress of flowering black and white lace spliced with lacquered pink lace – and in punk feather mohawk bangs worn in the hair, and the lace-up court shoes that would have been perfect for dancing the night away in the great 1980s Parisian nightspots Les Bain Douches and Le Palace. As usual in her work, Virginie looks towards the essence of Chanel. Tweed figures large in the collection for day and night: a knee-length tunic worn over boot-leg pants, for instance, or a minidress with the traditional Chanel braid trim reworked in rhinestones. There is more amazing trompe l’oeil in the allover Lesage embroidery of a lean jacket worn with an ankle-length skirt, or in the Emmanuelle Vernoux–embroidered sleeves of a decorous wool ball gown, or the Montex sequin and wool tufts of an off-the-shoulder minidress. Viard provides subtle elegance too –  which I always adore the most in her collections – in pieces that include a sheath of inky faille with bishop sleeves or a solemn evening gown of steel gray silk velvet (my favourite), discreetly dusted with embroidery at the waist and cuff, and jackets with midriffs defined by hand smocking. Viard aptly describes the looks as “casual and grand” – and this is what I call relevant couture.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Théâtre de la Mode. Dior AW20 Couture

Yesterday was the first day of the autumn-winter 2020 haute couture “week”, digitally streamed from Paris due to confinement reasons. To be honest, I had a huge dilemma with it. After seeing all the look-books and pretentious, confusing videos, I felt like everybody would be completely fine with skipping this season entirely – designers the most. Schiaparelli released a look-book featuring Daniel Roseberry’s sketches, just to have a brief moment going on on Instagram. Illustrations are beautiful and all, but the execution of this concept felt completely empty. Olivier Theyskens couldn’t imagine a worse timing with his Azzaro debut – the blurry music video the label released tells nothing about his vision for the brand, and it would be simply best if they postponed it. But the fashion industry seems to still not know that word: “postpone”. Everything must be immediate, even if there’s nothing to show.

Maria Grazia Chiuri‘s Dior collection, clothes-wise, was surprisingly good. And they really, really could just leave it the way it is, a proper look-book photos of mannequins wearing couture and a well-written press release. Unfortunately, the brand decided to start with a visual, where everything went wrong. I’m talking about the film directed by Matteo Gerrone, which I found cheesy in production and, well, so, so ignorant towards current events going on in the world. As if Black Lives Matters never happened, an all white cast without a single model of colour held it all back to the maximum. And having models of colour in a casting is the easiest way for a brand to confront the term “diversity” – something Chiuri used to say was so important to her, with all her “feminist” themes… – and believe it or not, Dior failed with it. Which is sad and frustrating. Ok… lets go back to the collection. The film showed mermaids, nymphs, a live Venus statue and a travelling trunk of dresses (a nod to Théâtre de la Mode, the tour of miniature gowns on dolls in 1945-46 to revive the French fashion industry post-war) exploding into the woods in an Ancient dreamscape, and all that lead us to a collection filled with references of Greek mythology, fairytales and pre-Raphaelite times. Maria Grazia Chiuri name-checked the likes of Lee Miller, Dora Maar, Leonor Fini and Jacqueline Lamba – 20th-century women who are often remembered by history for their beauty or for their famous lovers and husbands, but in fact did important work of their own as artists. With a surrealist twist, that was a line-up of delightful diaphanous gowns and voluminous New Look-inspired coats, all kept in neutral colours. The bondage details in some of the dresses made me think of Man Ray and Lee Miller’s work, were kinky merged into sensual. At some points it all looked overly historical, even theatrical. Not sure if it’s relevant couture, like the one Virginie Viard does at Chanel. But if any sort of MET Gala is coming up in 2020, those dresses will perfectly match the About Time: Fashion and Duration theme.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Italian Summer. Valentino Resort 2021

This is the ideal summer state of mind: Mariacarla Boscono dancing, laughing and sun-bathing at the Italian sea-side, wearing Valentino and being photographed by her friend – and the brand’s creative director – Pierpaolo Piccioli. Italy was the European country that was first tragically hit by COVID-19, and to many it seemed that good days aren’t coming back anytime soon. Now the country seems to gradually revive and the dream Italian summer is back on track. Optymism is winning. “I never stopped working,” Piccioli told Vogue during a Zoom call. “I profoundly love what I do; this is my passion, something fundamental for me – it isn’t just work.” The resort 2021 collection is the byproduct of the time spent alone drawing and painting, while remaining connected with his team. “I wanted to convey spontaneity and truth, even imperfection—but it’s the feel of human imperfection you long for right now,” he explained. “The collection was born out of flat drawings – paper and pencil, no styling, no mood board, just researching on paper shapes that linger in your head. A pure fashion process, as it should be done.” The human quality of creativity is paramount to Piccioli’s practice. He has imbued the rarefied world of couture with emotional values – exposing and revealing its craft and handmade processes, and shining a light on his team of seamstresses and artisans as essential players behind his fabulous creations. This center still firmly holds. “I wanted [to communicate] something even more personal, very close to myself. Conveying a sense of intimacy, a sentiment of individual connection, of emotion. I decided to photograph the collection myself because it seemed more coherent in this moment to send out a message with no filters, no manipulation, no other interpretation or mediation. I didn’t want the usual glamour of a fashion shoot,” he continued. “What I was interested in focusing on was what I’ve missed most in this confinement – the simple feeling of human connection, of shared love and friendship. This is what I wanted to bring about in my images.” Not surprisingly, simplicity is the collection’s key word. “It’s a radical simplicity though,” reflected Piccioli. “I wanted to be even more radical, in that the simplicity I’ve tried to achieve in shapes, volumes, and construction comes at the end of a process of resolved complexities. It’s a study and a project on cut, proportions, balance. Reducing and subtracting to reach the core, something essential and pure – but not more banal. Simple, not simplified.” There’s an ease and a fluidity of movement, a feel for freedom and effortlessness exuding from the lean silhouettes of caftans, elongated shift dresses, capes, and separates. Defined by strong, solid colors inspired by Mark Rothko’s chromatically powerful palette, pure shapes were infused with a vibrant, joyful flair. A few prints inspired by 18th-century tapestries were rendered as inconspicuous abstract strokes of color, as if they were just traces of memories, or shadows of the decorative motifs’ former selves. And what’s more special than a dear friend you’ve known and loved for years? “Mariacarla and I, we go back a long way,” he said. A spontaneous energy radiates from the images, shot by Piccioli in the natural surroundings of his home: a lake where he goes swimming; a sulfur mine where Pier Paolo Pasolini shot some scenes from his 1964 movie Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo. There’s a palpable sense of intimacy and of a familiar bond between photographer and model. Again, individuality and humanity are the pivots around which the collection, which was designed to appeal to both genders, came alive.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Simple Things. Molly Goddard Resort 2021

Going back to the roots, enjoying the simple things. In the uncertain times – and 2020 is a winner in this category – designers and labels yearn for a more organic approach, one that opposes mindless abundance. In her resort 2021 collection – which is more of a capsule really – Molly Goddard is serving her all-time signature, tulle dresses, in a more everyday mode.  Molly’s clothes are as cheerful as ever, dresses and skirts made “in all the ways I can think of,” she told Vogue, with the smocking and ruffling techniques she developed as a student. The shirred polyester taffeta – this season in neon pink with burgundy velvet trims, or inky blue flounces – is “so comfortable to wear, because it just stretches with you,” she explained. “So you can sit down, lie about, do anything in it. I think that’s why people like it. Because you can wear these things in an everyday way, not just for parties.” True to her hands-on resourcefulness, the designer decided to keep things going during the height of the lockdown. “We all worked remotely, doing fittings on ourselves, which was quite funny.” She runs a tight and friendly business. “I didn’t furlough anyone. I thought it’s important to maintain our relationships with all the people who we rely on, the fabric suppliers and the local London factories who managed to keep ticking over, with people taking work home.” There’s knitwear, too, now –  shrink-pleated stretchy sweaters and wool cardigans made in England. She’s also spent her time developing accessories: ruched bags made from her signature fabrics, and solid-but-perky leopard-spot and emerald green creepers in collaboration with the British brand Underground. And how does the designer see the future? Who knows whether there will be a usual London fashion week schedule this September. But then, do creators like Molly need those? “Really, I never meant to get into that whole fashion week thing of having huge shows and all the nightmare that goes with it,” she says. “Honestly, I’d love to get back to what we did at the beginning, just being able to do something that feels spontaneous and fun.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Stay Curious. JW Anderson Resort 2021 + Men’s SS21

From all the resort and men’s collections we’ve seen so far this summer, it’s JW Anderson‘s take on a fashion show presentation in the times of COVID-19 that feels most different and somewhat suited for the current circumstances. Is it possible to convey feeling and tactility without being physically at the show? Of course yes – just see those marvelous press-kits that Jonathan Anderson has sent out to all the press and friends of the label. He also tells the entire logic behind them in this video. Created with available resources in rather limited conditions, men’s spring-summer and women’s resort 2021 are a playful celebration of what being restricted can mean and spawn in creative terms. The divide between wardrobes is intentionally blurry, but still present. What in menswear takes a slouchy feel in womenswear gets a classic sense of poise and elegance (something Anderson examined so masterfully in his show last February). Presented on fictional characters – enlarged personalities with heads illustrated by the super talented Pol Anglada or masked by Bertjan Pot – the collection juxtaposes notions of pragmatism and playfulness within a context of cozy domesticity. Volumes are round and enveloping, or elongated and sleepy, with blown-up details that keep their function in off-kilter scale, and unexpected touches providing jolly, frivolous diversions. Dresses, capes, pillow sweaters, cropped trousers, elongated jumpers and loafer mules reiterate and recon-textualize tropes of the brand’s DNA. Patchworked jockey coats sprout patch pockets as roomy as bags. Sleeves get excessively long, trailing to the floor. Military capes spawn an excess of buttons. Long knits have an home-spun immediacy and a cozy intimacy. Slits create movement on tailored pieces. Pompoms (!) draw the giddy contours of a plain sleeveless jumper. Blanket stitching underlines the addition and accumulation of elements. Texture, either real or suggested by way of print on fabric as well as knit, adds another layer to the story: brocade impressions, tapestry motifs, targets, stripes, flowers, Anglada’s erotic, blown-up faces. A sentiment of youthful, care-free amusement is here – and that’s we all really need right now.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

New Reality. Y/Project Resort 2021 + Men’s SS21

Business really isn’t as usual in the times of COVID-19 (and even in the “post” moment that’s now in Europe). Traditionally, end of June and beginning of July is the the moment for all the resort and men’s collections, and in general this time of the year is a sort of “summer September” of fashion. But not entirely in 2020. Showroom visits for the press and buyers are done via Zoom only. Majority of collections feel very safe and are based on the brand’s signatures. Still, some of the line-ups impress, and moreover, appear to be some of the best work coming from the designer in a while. Glenn MartensY/Project is a great example of how crisis and chaos can bring new ideas and trigger a kind of brand evolution. Martens’ innovatively constructed, apparently woozily skewed garments whose conventional templates are drawn from across the demographic landscape of womenswear and menswear, are brain-bending at first glimpse, and often only make sense upon second look. “Obviously, these looks are distorted, and that is part of the fun of the brand. But most of them you can wear calmed down. Have you seen the video?”, he told Vogue. This season, instead of holding a menswear fashion show, Martens worked to create a video show-and-tell for Y/Project newbies that he said was partially inspired from the opening scene of Dangerous Liaisons, in which Glenn Close is laboriously installed into her pannier dress. Here Martens and two colleagues show how looks from these jointly digitally presented collections can be worn; take a fitted, ruched-body womenswear jacket, pull a drawstring, and – ta-da! – you have a full-length dress. Or reach into the innards of a louchely cut suit and – voilà! – you have a double-layered look with a new denim foundation. Martens concluded: “It’s a kind of lava lamp of looks… showing how you can personalize your clothes and how you can make it look as crazy as you want or you can tone it down as much as you want.” The collections here are around a third the size of a normal-times Y/Project offering, and Martens said that the restrictions of lockdown meant that many of the pieces were hewn from deadstock. The collection includes past designs that have been redesigned and upgraded to be even more twisty the second time around. This is a virtue, as is that distorted adaptability that is at the core of Martens’s work – for what could be more sustainable than a single garment that you can wear in a multitude of ways? Also, as the press was informed, Martens discussed Evergreen, which is the title of a new all-sustainable collection of core Y/Project pieces that will start with a launch of 16 pieces online in September, and then be added to going forward. “It’s a selection of garments, which I believe can go into your wardrobe forever. And we also decided to only make them in the most basic materials which are not at all oriented to a season, so it’s really black, white, and denim.” These garments are not “basics” – the initial lineup includes Y/Project’s much-socialed, super-skimpy, jean/panty “janty” hybrid – and bear all the usual twisty codes of Martens’s design-eye, including rotating-collar shirts and hoiked-shoulder blazers. Looking forward to see it!

Collages by Edward Kanarecki.

ASAI’s Hot Wok Dresses & Their Intention!

A big, big shout-out to ASAI, the London-based label by A Sai Ta, which has launched a micro-collection of two already cult dresses (all thanks to Rihanna!) with a truly admirable intention: by offering those piecec directly to customers, the designer is donating all of the profit (after the cost of production), to these charitable organisations: Black Lives Matter, Solace Women’s Aid, and The Voice of Domestic Workers. The Hot Wok RIRI dress and Hot Wok Hope dress are patchworked from 16 to 18 panels with the label’s signature overlocked seam detail with raw edges. The dresses are made from stretchable nylon fabric, in mixed pink, chili red and ivory tie-dye. Both of these summer-perfect dresses debuted at Arise fashion week 2019 in Lagos, Nigeria, and were worn by Elizabeth Osagie-Ero and Aderonke Akinyemi. Citing ASAI’s site, “AS An Intention It will be produced exclusively for the first time, in an effort to support, not to profit.” The suggested price for this dress is £333, if you are able and willing to contribue more to support the charities – further pricing options are offered. Also, you can get that A.S.A.I. poster!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Post-Confinement Berlin

Yesterday I went to my dear Berlin for the first time since the pandemy started in March, and I must say that the post-confinement crisis is real here. It was sad to see that some of my favourite restaurants and shops have completely closed down, and in general the city is quite sleepy. Hopefully good times will come back as soon as possible… Here’s a recap of my all-time Berlin places, as well as some new discoveries. Just remember to take your face ask. If you’re planning to visit the German capital anytime soon, make sure to look at my address book here for more great spots!

König Galerie

This gallery was founded by Johann König in 2002, and currently represents 40 international emerging and established artists, mostly belonging to a younger generation. The program’s focus is on interdisciplinary, concept-oriented and space-based approaches in a variety of media including sculpture, video, sound, painting, printmaking, photography and performance. In May 2015, König Galerie took up St. Agnes, a monumental former church built in the 1960s in the Brutalist style, where museum-like exhibitions take place in two different spaces, the former chapel and nave. Until the 26th of June, “Messe in St. Agnes” exhibition is happening here: over 100 works by artists such as Elmgreen & Dragset, Alicja Kwade, Andy Warhol, Juergen Teller, Isa Genzken,  Eliza Douglas, Alex Katz and Katharina Grosse are exhibited and sold at the gallery.

Alexandrinestraße 118–121
Andreas Murkudis
Nothing compares to brick-and-mortar, especially after living the confinement life for the last few months. Andreas Murkudis is probably my favourite store in the world, and I hope places like this will survive the hard times. Get your Dries Van Noten, Cecilie Bahnsen, The Row, Loewe and Issey Miyake right here, just like niche perfume labels and gorgeous porcelain.
Potsdammerstraße 81E
Tschoban Foundation

What is still drawn today? Which architects continue to master the art of hand drawing? What place has the skilled use of pen and ink in an age of computer aided design? In the 21st century, virtually no architect seeks to persuade clients of their capacities as a designer by means of sketches or perspective views. In architectural education today, there is also less emphasis on learning the craft of drawing although the ability to convey ideas through drawing by hand remains essential in developing form and proportion. It is at this point that the Tchoban Foundation intervenes. Established in 2009 by Sergei Tchoban, himself a passionate draftsman and collector of historic architectural drawings, its extensive collection serves as a source for research on the history and nature of architectural drawing. An extensive library on the subject is accessible to experts and visitors. The overall aim of the foundation, however, is to present the imaginative and emotionally-charged world of architectural drawing to a broad public through regular exhibitions.

Christinenstraße 18a

MDC Cosmetic

MDC Cosmetic offers a range of exclusive, international cosmetics, supplies and accessories for a home spa and nutritional supplements. From Santa Maria Novella 1612 perfumes and Susanne Kaufmann bath salts to Astier de Villatte candles and Rahua cosmetics, this adorable, cozy space got you covered with all the ‘treat yourself’ kind of products. Cosmetic advice and treatments are available on request.

Knaackstraße 26

The Store x Soho House Berlin

A classic. From Bottega Veneta and vintage Irving Penn books to Balenciaga and avocado toast, this place has it all.

Torstraße 1

And for the end… flowers! I love walking around Berlin, because it’s so full of nature, wherever you go.