R.I.P. Pierre Cardin

2020 has far too many sad news. Pierre Cardin, the prolific avant-garde French designer best known for his geometric, space-age couture and his maverick approach to business that would reshape the French fashion industry, died yesterday in a hospital in Neuilly in the west of Paris. “It is a day of great sadness for all our family. Pierre Cardin is no more,” the family said in a statement. “We are all proud of his tenacious ambition and the daring he has shown throughout his life.” He was 98 years old. “I don’t like to stop, I like to continually prove myself,” Cardin said in an interview with CBS back in 2012, a sentiment that his tireless work ethic all the way up until his death pays testament to. Renowned throughout his career for his groundbreaking approach to both design and business, Cardin expanded his empire through licensing of everything from automobiles to restaurants (he turned Maxim’s, the historic Parisian Belle Époque restaurant, into a global brand), to hotels, jewelry, glasses, fragrances, furniture, and even tableware. Though the practice of a fashion house lending its name to a variety of different products and concepts is now commonplace, Cardin’s approach was pioneering. So too did Cardin revolutionize the business model of a high fashion brand by introducing the concept of ready-to-wear in 1959, a reflection of his firmly-held belief that quality design should be accessible to all. The fashion world won’t forget him.

Visit the maison‘s website to go through some of the most striking archive works by Cardin.

Junya Watanabe’s Techno Couture

Pre-Instagram times, a collection worth thousands of posts (and unforgettable, eye-catchy content…). Back in 2000, Junya Watanabe presented one of his most ethereal collections ever. At first glance, the honeycomb ruffs Watanabe showed in his “Techno Couture” line-up called to mind those seen in Rembrandt portraits. Well, not exactly: those starched confections couldn’t fold and be stored in an envelope, like Watanabe’s ground-breaking designs. They certainly weren’t made of a “techno” fabric like polyester chiffon, from which the designer created his exaggerated take on the ruff, transforming it from an accessory to a garment with an organic-meets-space-age aesthetic. The material might have been unknown in Rembrandt’s time, but its method of production – hand sewing – certainly was. In the above collage, some of my favourites looks from the collection interact with Malwina Konopacka‘s “Forms” collection of ceramic tableware.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki, ceramics and photo by Malwina Konopacka.

Lets Talk About Prada SS05!

I’m always obsessed with a Prada collection. Sometimes, I’m completely absorbed in her take on bourgeoisie and conservative dressing. Another time, I drift away in her more surreal styles. But lately, Miuccia Prada‘s spring-summer 2005 keeps popping over and over again in my mind. It’s like a scent of summer holidays, which are the perfect balance of heavenly relax and active experience of discovering. Back in the day, Miuccia acknowledged that this collection was a leap from her more demanding line-ups. “A vague idea of birds; birds of vanity, like peacocks, parrots, and swans,” was a starting point in her restless search for change, she explained. “I also wanted to move toward something more young and sporty, tall and narrow.” To bring the audience into her new reality, Prada stripped her familiar clean, boxed-in stage set down to the bare industrial walls, then projected Rem Koolhaas’ mind-scrambling collage of live news images onto them. It was a lot to take in before the show even started – but that, one suspects, was exactly Prada’s intention with the clothes, as well. There was so much going on. A rhapsody of colour, an excess of textures. But also, a different silhouette (short hemlines, worn mostly with flat sandals), a return to one of her favorite palettes (brown-ochre-rust), and as always, lots of artful eccentricity, like peacock feathers (I saw this dress at Didier Ludot vintage store in Paris and its magnificent) and knitted flowerpot hats. There was also a Jamaican dance hall vibe, with reggae on the sound system, Rasta stripes in the knitwear, and Caribbean crochet in the raffia hats and cardigan coats. And, oh, please note how relevant it is! That’s the power of Prada.

P.s. Happy Birthday, Miuccia!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Betty Catroux at Musée YSL

When walking down the streets of Paris, you just can’t miss the street posters promoting the current exhibition at Musée Yves Saint Laurent. A naked woman sits on a sofa, with her icy blonde hair and big sunglasses. It’s of course the iconic Betty Catroux. In 2020, the YSL museum is devoting a special exhibition to Catroux, the one and only Saint Laurent “female double.” The pieces displayed in the exhibition come from a major donation Betty Catroux has made to the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent back in 2002. The museum gave Anthony Vaccarello (Saint Laurent’s creative director) carte blanche for curating this event. The designer approached Betty Catroux’s wardrobe from an aesthetic perspective by selecting the pieces that best reveal her unique personality and ongoing influence on the label’s signature style. “She lives and breathes Saint Laurent. An allure, a mystery, an almost nefarious aspect, an elusive yet desirable nature, all that underlies the house’s aura, and you understand the magnitude of it when you meet Betty.” That elusive aura is perceivable all over the space. Approximately fifty designs show the extent to which Betty Catroux embodied Yves Saint Laurent’s physical ideal and an attitude echoing the “masculine/feminine style” that he was developing when they first met at the nightclub The New Jimmy’s in 1967. Yves immediately fell in love with her androgynous look, which was radically different from the usual codes of femininity and seductiveness and remains the subject of ongoing fascination. Below are some photos I took during my visit. To read more about the museum, here’s the post I wrote about the place when I was here about a year ago.

All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

(P.S. If you are inspired by my Parisian coverage, I’m really happy about, but please have in mind that now isn’t a safe time for any sorts of travelling. Stay at home!)

The 2010s: Phoebe Philo’s Céline.

Believe it or not – I can’t! – but we’re heading towards a new millenium. So, how do you choose the most important collections, designers and labels of the decade? The ones that made an actual impact in the 2010s? Well, it’s not an easy task. It all began in September 2009 with New York’s spring-summer 2010 shows and ended when the autumn-winter 2019 haute couture shows wrapped in Paris. Few thousands of shows, by the way. There will be 19 posts (that’s really the only possible minimum!) reminding about the best – and if not the best, then strongly influencing – moments in fashion.

Phoebe Philo‘s Céline.

This one is no surprise to anyone who reads my journal for a longer while. Phoebe Philo’s contribution to 2010s fashion – through the medium of Céline – is exceptionally significant. Phoebe’s fashion wasn’t minimalist as many tend to sum up. It was eclectic. Intelligent. Feminist. Feminine. Intimate. Lasting. Beautiful. From all the photoshop-free Juergen Teller ad campaigns (feauturing Phoebe’s favourite women like Daria Werbowy and Joan Didion) and store interiors (they felt like home!) to the music playing during the fashion shows (Cymande’s “Dove“, Soul II Soul’s “Back To Life“, Method Man and Mary J. Blige’s “I’ll Be There For You / You’r All I Need to Get By”…) and the shockingly rare on-line shop absence for an established label like this, Philo’s Céline was the ultimate favourite of many people (including me) for different reasons. While Phoebe is still off the fashion horizon, just look at all the brands that turn to her collections for inspiration (or actually try to copy her…). Yes, yes, we’ve got Daniel Lee’s Bottega Veneta, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s The Row, Christophe Lemaire and Sarah Linh Tran’s Lemaire. But I really, really, really hope that 2020 will see Phoebe Philo’s comeback. Dreams come true!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki. Photos by Juergen Teller and Tyrone Lebon.