The Look – Christopher John Rogers AW20

In support for the Black community, I continue celebrating and highlighting the talented individuals that shape fashion today. I wrote about Christopher John Rogers not a while ago right here, and I must admit: I’m obsessed with his work! Here’s this gorgeous finale gown from the Brooklyn-based designer’s autumn-winter 2020 collection to brighten up your Tuesday.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Balade en Méditerranée. Chanel Resort 2021

Many dreams and plans had to be thrown away to the trash bin due to coronavirus. The Chanel resort 2021 collection was originally intended to be shown on Capri, the heavenly Italian island. Virginie Viard has a hard time with the critics, but I find her work attractive and purely Chanel. She’s focused on the essentials and signatures of the house – making each collection feel truly timeless. So maybe a look-book, photographed by Karim Sadli, works just fine for those clothes. Viard spent lockdown in her French country house, a time, as she says, for “rest and family time,” that was no holiday. In addition to preparing this resort collection (which she had begun before lockdown), Viard was also working on a capsule haute couture offering, which will likewise be presented virtually. Viard returned to Paris and the Chanel studio on May 4, when the city partially reopened, but in the depths of the countryside she was thinking and dreaming, as she told me, about “summer in Capri – or the South of France,” and the kind of destination wardrobe of “easy clothes” that “a sophisticated but also cool girl would want to travel with.” Her proposal includes swimsuits to wear as bodies under cardigan jackets, wide-legged pants, or handkerchief-hemmed skirts, and no-nonsense iterations of the classic Chanel suit or saharienne jackets in cotton tweed. “There are no evening dresses, no heavy things,” says Viard, who proposes instead some day-into-night options including those bathing suits printed with scattered trompe l’oeil Chanel costume jewels and worn with skinny cardigan jackets and wide pants in a fine-gauge knit or bandeau tops embroidered by Lesage with flowering branches of bougainvillea  (the emblematic Mediterranean summer flower) that that can be worn under suits or veiled under sheer black chiffon blouses. No ground-breakers here, but I’m fine with that. It works. Also, I might say that the Chanel team had to have a closer look at Jacquemus and his mediterranean lifestyle for a while – I found echos of that light, playful sensibility in the resort offering with all the volumes, body-revealing cuts and mini-accessories. But the the most exciting thing about this collection is the least visible. Finally, at least some sustainable thinking at a house this big as Chanel. There was a new approach behind the works with supply chains compromised by the pandemic. The collection, as Viard explained to Vogue, was made using “all the fabrics we had in stock – all the buttons, all the galons – we had a shop in the studio, it was so cute!” Moreover, Viard pulled some staple pieces and accessories that are currently available in store, but that haven’t yet been shown in campaigns – among them some denim jeans and a very stylish woven wicker beach basket purse. “I love it,” reasoned Viard, “why would we have to do another one?” A silent revolution is going on in here.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Focus On: Kenneth Ize

In support for the Black community, I continue celebrating and highlighting the talented individuals that shape fashion today. Take notes! Kenneth Ize made his official debut at Paris fashion week this season, though his eponymous label has been making waves on the international circuit for the past few seasons. The Austrian-Nigerian designer was an LVMH prize finalist this past September, having first caught the world’s attention at Lagos Fashion Week a few months earlier. Images of Naomi Campbell and Imaan Hammam striding down Ize’s runway in his signature handwoven checks, a traditional Nigerian fabric known as asoke, caused a global social media frenzy within minutes. Both super-models were present at his autumn-winter 2020 show – Hammam opened, while Campbell closed what was a truly impressive first outing for Ize. The designer is best known for his men’s tailoring, though he kicked things off on a distinctly feminine note with a quilted striped miniskirt and matching funnel-neck zippered jacket. Ize is also inspired by workwear – think carpenter pants spun from silk and fringed at the hem. Adwoa Aboah looked especially striking in one of his quilted boilersuits. Ize has been working with a small circle of asoke weavers in Nigeria with the hopes of preserving the centuries-old craft from the brink of extinction. For autumn-winter 2020, he expanded on that commitment to local artisanship by collaborating with Austrian lace-makers in Vienna where he was born and raised. The green and orange lace tunics and suiting were a nod to Ize’s mother, who, like many West African women, would source Viennese lace to make custom outfits for special occasions. The collection was largely inspired by her meticulous approach to Sunday best in particular; the devil was in the details here, with matching fringed bucket bags and clutches made in collaboration with Austrian accessories label Sagan. It’s exquisite transcultural fashion experiments like these that will make Ize’s brand stand out in the fashion crowd. Discover more of Kenneth’s work here!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

The Look: Stella Jean AW14

In support for the Black community, I continue celebrating and highlighting the talented individuals that shape fashion today. Take notes! Stella Jean, Rome-based designer with Haitian origins, is recognized as the first Black Italian designer. She is considered to be Giorgio Armani’s protégé, and her collections are some of the boldest moments every Milan fashion week. The basis of Jean’s work is multiculturalism applied to fashion, resulting in a cultural fusion of her own métisse identity. Her work often merges classical Italian tailoring with stylistic features of varying cultures, whether its wax prints from Burkina Faso or artisan embroideries made in India. Above is my all-time favourite Stella Jean look from her delightful autumn-winter 2014 collection. For more of the designer, see my previous posts on her or check out her site!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

The Look(s) – Pyer Moss SS20

In support for the Black community, I continue celebrating and highlighting the talented individuals that shape fashion today. Take notes! Kerby Jean-Raymond‘s spring-summer 2020 collection, presented in Brooklyn’s Kings Theater in Weeksville and entitled Sister, is the third and final chapter in the Pyer Moss’ “American, Also” trilogy – and it paid homage to Sister Rosetta Tharpe. A singer-songwriter who rose to popularity in the 1930s and 1940s, Tharpe is widely considered to be the godmother of rock & roll, though her legacy has been diminished in music’s history book. “I think relatively few people know that the sound of rock and roll was invented by a queer black woman in a church,” Jean-Raymond told Vogue backstage. “I wanted to explore what that aesthetic might have looked like if her story would have been told.” Sending you to my review of this beautiful collection right here!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Focus On: Victor Glemaud

In support for the Black community, I continue celebrating and highlighting the talented individuals that shape fashion today. Take notes! Haitian-born, New York-based designer Victor Glemaud launched his eponymous leisurewear collection of statement knitwear, designed for all people, genders, races, sizes and personalities, marrying comfort and style, in 2006. The designer was a finalist in the 2017 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund and honored for his achievements by the Ambassador of Haiti to the United States. For his recent collection – autumn-winter 2020 – Victor used three materials: merino wool, cotton cashmere, and a merino-cotton-ramie blend. Glemaud’s unparalleled sense of color makes his knitted garments even more compelling. A lavender-tomato back-to-front knit set is a highlight. Within his ringer midi dresses and pooling flares are a variety of stitched details that amplify the power of his clothes. His coats, actually fully knit, have the weigh and potency of felted wool. But the best thing Glemaud did on his runway (his first) was show his clothing on a glamorous cast of people of all types. As his turban-clad models – an homage to both his friend Camilla Staerk and the women he grew up with – sauntered around a lounge in the SoHo Grand hotel, audience members could be heard whispering, picking out a must-have pant or bolero sweater. That kind of inclusivity translates to real customers who will be delighted at the prospect of wearing a square-neck minidress with Nike sneakers. Looking back at his previous collections, the autumn-winter 2019 look-book starring Indya Moore, the incredible trans actress from Pose, makes you dream of all the tangerine knits. Pre-fall 2020 has seen Glemaud leaning into his grooviest, hip-swiveling impulses, filled with gorgeous crochet dresses, tunics, and flares. Discover Glemaud’s universe here.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki, photos of Victor Glemaud‘s looks from autumn-winter 2020, pre-fall 2020 and autumn-winter 2019.

Focus On: Christopher John Rogers

In support for the Black community, I continue celebrating and highlighting the talented individuals that shape fashion today. Take notes! Christopher John Rogers is definitely one of New York’s brightest stars among young and independent designers. Baton Rouge–born, Brooklyn-based designer is known for resurrecting glamour, and his whimsical take on eveningwear (think cascading tulle, slimming taffeta suits, pleated skirts) that got Rihanna, Michelle Obama, Lizzo, Cardi B, SZA and Tracee Ellis Ross obsessed and take it to the red carpet. Moreover, Chistopher became one of the 2019 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalists – this only motivated him to buckle down further. His autumn-winter 2020 is the perfect balance between dramatic gowns and statement pieces that you will love in your day-to-day wardrobe. Spanning a full 40 looks, Rogers’s show had his signature silhouettes – there was the bulbous strawberry-shaped waist, which reappeared on the runway in violet, and he worked in some past references, like Pierrots, the French cinematic clowns that informed last season’s ruffled necklines. As for new inspirations, he cited trash bags, of all things – he told Vogue that a curtain brushing the floor in a Renaissance painting has the same energy as a crumpled garbage bag – and mid-century couturier Madame Grès, whose later work skewed more graphic and progressive than the goddess-draped gowns that made her famous. But what really makes the collection stand out is the masterful combination of bold colours and gorgeous fabrics. Whereas before Rogers had to be resourceful with his textiles, often working with deadstock materials, now he’s able to make patterns and sumptuous fabrics factory-made for his brand. “All of the things that my team and I have been dreaming up, we were able to execute on a level that you haven’t seen from us before,” Rogers summed up. The label is now producing on a larger scale thanks to a purchase from Net-a-Porter. In thinking about the potential commercial nature of his work, Rogers cited the popularity of that strawberry silhouette. “For something that morphs the shape so much, which maybe historically hasn’t been seen as flattering, women from a size 0 to a 14 have ordered the dress,” he said. “It goes to show that it’s not about dressing for the world—it’s about dressing for yourself. We’re not out here making 2,000 units of anything. We’re trying to make a few things for the few people who love it, and really make things that will last.” I can’t wait to see what this designer has in store for the upcoming seasons, looking forward to more of his fantastic splendor!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki featuring artworks by the late Christo; selected looks from Christopher John Rogers‘ SS20 and AW20 collections.

Focus On: Mowalola

In the light of the extremely sad and disturbing events that have happened in the past few days – and not only – I would like to state that my site, my work and my outlook always stand with the black community. Racism is alive in America, and in the world, and we must be vocal about it (the way you personally choose to). I believe that educating yourself, having conversations (private and public) and spreading actual awareness is much more meaningful than just reposting a slogan on your social media feed (even though doing this little is better than nothing). I also think that in the creative industries – the one I can speak for – reflecting personal beliefs should be more than welcomed. Other than this, donate (click here and here), share links (here, here and here), support! You can even buy the dress Rihanna wore by Asai, and the entire 300 pounds it costs will be donated to three charities – just DM the designer with your order or send him an e-mail. In the domain I’m most active in – fashion – I feel like the situation should be highlighted as well, and more designers and brands should join that dialogue. On my side, I want to introduce you to the most exciting, emerging, independent black designers out there, who are often overlooked during fashion weeks or simply underrated. Their stories and visions shape and inspire today’s industry, we should all acknowledge that!

Starting with Mowalola. The Lagos-born designer Mowalola Ogunlesi arrived to London when she was a kid. At first she planned medicine as her life path, but in the end she went to Central Saint Martins. Three years ago, she presented her diploma collection dedicated to contemporary Africa. She made waves – fashion insiders and international magazines were obsessed. Mawolola’s vision was completely one-of-a-kind: through sexy, at points kinky garments she managed to convey the power of erotic tension in the times of social uncertainty. “In my country, I grew up with sexuality being very judged. So I wanted to transform people’s ideas of what sexy is. That it’s okay to show skin”, she told Vogue Runway. To embrace her origins, the designer chose psychodelic rock from Nigeria as her main reference, and her music inspirations lead to creating the new romantic menswear. Mowalola models wore sultry leather jackets, low-waisted super-slim pants and skin-baring crop tops with assymetrical cuts. All that kept in bold colours, reminding her of the Nigerian landscapes and streets. For her spring-summer 2020 collection, presented with Fashion East, Mowalola expanded her unique take on men’s fashion. Her signatures were styled with belts buckled with sacred and profane symbols: a cross, a religious icon, the Stars and Stripes, the words “sexy” and “mother fucker”. “I base it on what I’m going through – I’ve just fallen in love for the first time; I feel as if no one talks about the horrific side, the dangers of love, of losing control of your emotions and feeling like you’re crazy. It’s like how I see a horror movie!” she related. “So this is as if I’m in a black Woodstock Festival, and someone has been murdered.” See selected looks from her collections below, I can’t wait to see what she’s up to in the upcoming seasons. Make sure to follow her on Instagram and take a look at some of the pieces available from her on ssese.com!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki

The Look – Marc Jacobs AW20

Marc Jacobs‘ phenomenal autumn-winter 2020 collection is probably one of my favourite moments of the entire season. The runway featured a dance performance choreographed by Karole Armitage, New York’s „punk ballerina”, with the catwalk staged like a bistro. At some point it was hard to tell who’s the model and who’s the dancer (everybody was dressed in Jacobs), and that was the intention: beauty in chaos, told through powerful movement. Infinitely inspired by his heroes of the past and present, it is style, in which different people dress at the various stages, ages and times in their lives, that provokes Marc’s love for fashion and possibilities of what it can be. The designer especially had the fading image of disappearing New York in his mind – forever mythical and chic, with its „beauty, promise, sparkle and grit”. The simple, yet unbelievably elegant look Sara Grace Wallerstedt wore – black bra worn underneath a cable-knit cardigan, black pencil skirt, kitten heels with socks and a head-band – is the style refinement level that equals to Holly Golightly’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s wardrobe. When I rewatched this film a few days ago, I just couldn’t not think about Jacobs’ recent line-up.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki featuring Steven Meisel‘s photo for Vogue Italia‘s April 1999 issue.