Virginie Viard takes Chanel to its (at times clichée) codes. Viard titled her Métiers d’Art show “Paris 31 rue Cambon” for the street where Coco Chanel first set up shop as a milliner in 1910 (“Chanel Modes” at Number 21), and where she later expanded her fashion empire to embrace six additional 18th-century buildings, with her legendary haute couture salons at Number 31. The guests sat inside of Coco’s legendary apartment, XXL-scaled and set up in Grand Palais (there was even the famous mirrored staircase). “I adore the apartment,” Viard said backstage, and she evidently found inspiration in this setting where Chanel retreated from the running of her house and entertained friends. The designer described the collection as “the things we like, a mix of Karl and Chanel—the codes.” Of course, comparing to Lagerfeld’s globe-trotting Méters d’Art fairy-tales – think Moscow, Edinburgh, Texas, the Met in New York – seeing Viard show in Paris felt quite unamusing. Nevertheless, the collection was properly Chanel – elegant, refined, refreshingly minimal, yet far from modesty. The pre-fall collections of Chanel showcase the incredible work of the luxury suppliers of the fashion industry – embroiderers, feather and artificial flower makers, milliners, custom shoemakers – many of which Chanel has acquired to keep them operational and the skills alive. Viard, who directed the Chanel studio under Lagerfeld for decades, has a fine appreciation of what these ateliers are capable of. A bolero jacket with broad feathers overprinted with a shadowy pattern of Chanel’s iconic camellias; a feather blazer worked into a subtle trompe l’oeil plaid; eveningwear kept in the most gorgeous, sorbet ombré colour palette… delightful. Viard proves once again that her Chanel takes a slower approach, one that cherishes the timeless classics and the artisan work. Less Instagram moments, more beauty in the details.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
Chopova Lowena is currently one of the most fascinating, emerging labels from London. Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena‘s Central Saint Martins MA graduate collection began with them looking at Bulgaria’s mountain dwellers, particularly the women, and the way they dressed. There, they found all the contrasting elements they felt so intrigued with, like intricate handmade folk costumes worn with secondhand western sneakers and sunglasses. Chopova Lowena is beloved for its juxtapositions, subtly combining modernity and nostalgia, luxury and kitsch, craftsmanship and humour. The same spirit of new and old, rare and mainstream, is reflected in their spring-summer 2020 lookbook. Skin-tight layers of tartan-checks printed mesh are paired with their signature Bulgarian pleats in wool and nylon (they sell out super fast and you’ve surely seen them gracing street style slideshows this fashion month). Big, punk-ish belts double as mini-skirts underneath delicate harnesses made from metal hardware. The folky, peasant dresses and blouses with theatrical sleeves are another highlights. Chopova Lowena has an anthropological approach to design, observing traditional customs and revisiting them through a contemporary lens – often through collaborating with craftsmen in small Eastern European and English communities.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
To adorn a person’s head is probably one of the most intimate pleasures to celebrate one’s visible personality. Next to the thoughts, the eyes, the ears, the mouth and nose, the sensual relation is almost obvious. In contrary to a mask, which hides and transforms the identity of the wearer, a hat reveals the features of the face, embraces the profile and donates the head with regal attention. It’s a signature to the one who dares to decorate their features as well as it offers a moment of intrigue to the observer. Fiona Bennett does all that with her gifted hands and creations. She passionately revolutionises the classic headwear through a subtle balancing act into new dimensions and unusual, but highly poetic shapes. Her mission and true intention is to invent a perfect frame for an individual. Her precious and most significant attribute as a millinery reserves that one will always recognize the beauty of the wearer first, then, by a second glance, the beauty and art of the millinery. As outrageously visionairy and exquisitly designed her charming creations might be, they never overwhelm or dominate the face underneath. That’s the magic of Fiona and her beautiful boutique-studio in Berlin. For the gorgeous dames, non-chalant mad-hatters and not only.
Potsdamer Straße 81-83 / Berlin
All photos by Edward Kanarecki.
Meet Chopova Lowena, one of the most fascinating, emerging brands in London. Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena‘s Central Saint Martins MA graduate collection began with them looking at Bulgaria’s mountain dwellers, particularly the women, and the way they dressed. There, they found all the contrasting elements they felt so intrigued with, like intricate handmade folk costumes worn with secondhand western sneakers and sunglasses. The same spirit of new and old, rare and mainstream, was reflected in their autumn-winter 2018 look-book shot by Charlotte Wales (with whom the designers worked on Kukeri – Chopova Lowena, a photographic portfolio focusing on Bulgarian culture and the traditional fur-clad masked Kukeri).The label is already known for its harmonious juxtapositions, subtly combining modernity and nostalgia, luxury and kitsch, craftsmanship and humour. Skin-tight layers of brightly printed mesh are paired with their signature Bulgarian pleats in wool and nylon. Big, punk-ish belts double as mini-skirts underneath delicate harnesses made from metal hardware – very Vivienne-Westwood-gone-ethnic. Chopova Lowena has an anthropological approach to design, observing traditional customs and revisiting them through a contemporary lens. Their design ethos stems from a desire to work with niche and forgotten techniques, and to collaborate with craftsmen in small Eastern European and English communities. By working with artisans, they aim to preserve disappearing crafts – that is quite a t to praise in today’s fashion industry. Take a look at the designers’ works, from 2017 and 2018, below.
Chopova Lowena’s latest offering is actually a mini-collection of three, hand-knitted sweaters. With this project, which launched on their website just now, the Emma and Laura “sought to take this one step further by attempting to create knitwear with the sole purpose of highlighting the manufacturing processes behind it”, as Another puts it. The process behind the sweaters spanned across borders. The works began with wool from Yorkshire mills, which was then knitted into the pieces by three skilled craftswomen from a village in Bulgaria’s remote mountain region. The knits look more than lovely – it’s visible that they’re warm and will serve for years, years to come.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki. Photos by Charlotte Wales and Laura Lowena.
While travelling the Algarve region in Portugal, we came across a number of pottery ateliers where the true magic happens. Algarve is known for its incredible ceramic pottery heritage, quite possibly due to the natural presence of clay here. But I guess it’s also thanks to the local people, who make this craftmanship so alive these days. In the small, but charming town of Silves, Luis and Teresa of Al-tannur Ceramica create some of the most fantastic tiles, jewellery and plates using the ancient Arab dry-rope technique. The couple doesn’t fall into well-known clichés of sunny fields; rather, they choose to depict such motifs as sharks, dogs, people’s affairs and historical scenes (most likely kept in bold colours). Meanwhile in Monchique, we’ve entered Leonel Telo‘s studio by accident. The artist creates moulds containing herbs and flowers, but as well does incredible kitchen-ware and vases. Plus, the artisan’s garden filled with lemon trees just outside his studio-slash-boutique is a beautiful addition to his works.
Al-Tannur Ceramica / Rua da Sé / Silves
Leonel Telo Ceramicas / Rua Engenheiro Duarte Pacheco / Monchique
All photos by Edward Kanarecki.