The Society Archive

New collections come and go, but in the end, nothing feels as good as the timelessness of vintage. The Society Archive, a stylist-curated retailer of rare vintage finds from fashion and accessories to books and art, opened its by-appointment showroom during New York Fashion Week, and it seemed to be the most truly exciting event during these hectic couple of days. But The Society Archive isn’t just about selling vintage. The brainchild of the runway and editorial stylist Marcus Allen, the brand weaves a complex narrative capturing moments of past youth – the result being an extremely covetable time capsule of seasonally curated selections of vintage and ephemera paired with a curated edit of must-haves from The Society Archive’s capsule collection of designs. Hard-to-find pieces from pretty much every decade are hand-selected and styled together with a couple of in-house designed essentials, creating a cohesive collection. According to this Vogue feature, Allen especially has a long history with Abercrombie & Fitch. The stylist estimates he has more than 1,000 items, some of which date back to the 1960s. Allen worked at the infamous “all-American” mall brand when he was in high school in a small town outside of Boston. But his obsession boils down to the quality of yesteryear Abercrombie & Fitch, not its ethos that’s promoted today. “The technical and fleece vests are all Patagonia-level quality,” he says. “All of the distressing and vintage details are super authentic and not contrived-feeling at all.” Allen is not the only collector; there is a community of Abercrombie & Fitch archivists in Japan, which is primarily where he gets his pieces. “While runways were informing what mall brands were doing design-wise, they – A&F, etc. – were not skimping on the quality of the pieces.” He makes the comparison with a pair of jeans. “I have 5-pocket leather Gap bootcut jeans that are the same exact quality and cut of a pair of Tom Ford-era Gucci ones,” he says. And as a testament to the quality, currently, Allen keeps the first piece he ever bought, a multi-color striped Shetland wool sweater in his freezer.

So, what can you get from The Society Archive’s current capsule? First of all, some big styling ideas for autumn season – the look-book photos are just too inspiring! There’s The Face’s iconic issue 22 featuring Kate Moss photographed by Corinne Day. A vintage Banana Republic t-shirt which has the best imaginable fit. A couple of 1960s flannel shirts – to die for. Maybe a classic, over-sized A&F hoodie? I certainly need these beige snow pants, like now.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
Don’t forget to follow Design & Culture by Ed on Instagram!

NET-A-PORTER Limited

Fusion Rave. Chloé SS23

Gabriela Hearst went for a more laid-back look for Chloé‘s spring-summer 2023 collection. Her sustainability-forward ambitions, however, aren’t taking a rest. Hearst dedicated her latest offering for the Parisian maison to the promotion of fusion: “It’s basically the energy of the stars and the universe,” she said, flanked by representatives from ITER as well as Commonwealth Fusion Systems and Helion – companies which are working on harnessing this benign source of energy through giant round devices known as tokamaks. They can’t be used to produce a fashion collection, but, as Hearst said, “Eventually they will, because we’ll need the energy to make clothes. Imagine that whatever is a coal plant now will be a fusion plant in the future. The future is close.” She arranged the seats of her show to mimic the circular shape of the tokamak and surrounded the structure with hoops hanging from the ceiling and laser lights that evoked an industrial rave. That feeling reverberated through a collection that served as a figurative ode to fusion power, adapting the curves of the tokamak into silhouettes and surface decoration that looked part power plant uniform and part retro warehouse party. “The most important thing you need to know is that this is a source of clean energy with very little waste. A glass of fusion fuel can power a house for approximately 800 years,” Hearst said. All that sounded promising. But what about the actual clothes? I feel like the designer still has a problem in establishing her signature Chloé look. Knitted dresses with cut-outs created from recycled cashmere and blazers constructed in linen could use some rigor in their cut. Utilitarian outfits in head-to-toe certified European leather had the trending “Motomami” vibe that felt slightly out of place in Chloé’s lexicon. There was a coat with metal fastenings, made from recycled cotton that looked like denim, fully adorned with heavy-duty eyelets. In this spectrum of ideas, the concept of “fusion” was quite visible. Hearst needs a more bold, stylist-like approach to truly make her collections appealing in the future.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
Don’t forget to follow Design & Culture by Ed on Instagram!

NET-A-PORTER Limited

Empowerment. Gabriela Hearst SS23

The runway photos tell only part of the story about Gabriela Hearst’s spring-summer 2023 show. Just beyond the picture frame, the runway was lined with members of the Resistance Revival Chorus. They sang “This Joy,” a gospel song written by Pastor Shirley Caesar. Joy has been the buzzword of the week; few designers have failed to mention it. But only Hearst booked this choir, and the singers more than delivered on the song’s promise. It was a feel-great moment, made more so by the diverse group of friends that Hearst cast, from the former president of Planned Parenthood Cecile Richards to the young climate activist Xiye Bastida to the anti-toxic shock syndrome advocate Lauren Wasser. Hearst has woven female empowerment into her brand DNA. She likes being a connector, hooking up one woman on a mission with another, and in the process side-stepping the male dominated systems that disadvantage us. This season she made those intentions more explicit in the clothes. The opening series of dresses were constructed of black jersey fixed with molded gold leather whose ruffled raw edges extended beyond the shape of the torso. These nodded in the direction of the Yves Saint Laurent gold breastplates made by Claude Lalanne, but the vibe here was more Athena, goddess of wisdom and war. Later on came a pair of knit pieces inset with crocheted segments in fiery shades of red and orange, and these too conjured thoughts of warrior women who dared to approach the flame. Heart’s friend Cecile Richards’s book is called Make Trouble, don’t forget.

The collection was a showcase for similarly fine handicrafts. Soft ruched leather for a pair of looks worn by the ’90s stars Kirsty Hume and Carolyn Murphy; three-dimensional gold thread embroideries on an ivory dress and well-tailored suit; silk ladder stitch knit dresses as gossamer as spiderwebs. A gold version worn with a matching poncho was especially striking. Hearst came out for her bow wearing a cap stitched with the logo of Sound Future. Her friend Brandy Schultz, who walked in the show, is the co-founder of the non-profit, which seeks to “measure, discover, and deploy meaningful environmental solutions for the live event industry.” Fashion is in need of a meaningful environmental solution. It’s a long way from positive intent to measurable change, but Hearst is making the right connections.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
Don’t forget to follow Design & Culture by Ed on Instagram!

NET-A-PORTER Limited

Dries Van Noten Beauty

During my recent Berlin trip, I finally had the chance to discover the Dries Van Noten beauty line IRL at Andreas Murkudis (which is the only retailer in Germany who stocks these goodies). I wasn’t disappointed. For most designers, perfume and cosmetics are a rite of passage; they waste little time getting into the lucrative businesses. But not Dries Van Noten. For over three decades, he has been one of fashion’s rare independent operators who made his name not on licenses, but on clothes. And yet the 63-year-old is probably better suited to these things than many of his peers. “I said I wanted a rose perfume that is kind of a punch – really not a sweet, beautiful, feminine thing. It had to be something that men could easily wear. That was kind of the symbol of how we started to work,” he says of his fragrance lineup, which includes Neon Garden, one of the scents the designer himself has taken to wearing that pairs the freshness of mint with powdery iris, and Jardin de l’Orangerie, which blends traditional orange blossom with sandalwood for a grounded, earthy effect. What Van Noten didn’t want: “easygoing” perfumes. “I think there’s already so much out there in the market. The idea was that every perfume really tells a story – in my fashion, I’m also a storyteller,” he told Vogue. In total, the new line includes 10 genderless eaux de parfums alongside 30 lipsticks, a lip balm, as well as a select few soaps and creams. The collection also includes a series of accessories, such as a mirror, a comb, and more. The scents are personal, and so too are the apothecary-inspired bottles that they come in. Each is meticulously designed and outfitted with a cap that features the brand name engraved onto it. The bottles are colored to match the scent inside, and is bound to become a centerpiece on your beauty shelf as soon as you add them to your collection. As for the beauty offerings, the 30 lipsticks are available to shop in a range of three finishes. Fifteen of them have a satin look, 10 have a matte appearance, and five will be sheer. While some are neutral-toned, the collection also includes a vibrant purple shade, proving that the brand’s love of color runs deep. The lipsticks in this new collection are just as much about the final payoff as they are about the process of applying and playing with them. With this in mind, you can also buy a lip brush to go along with the shade of your choosing. What’s important, sustainability was also key in the new collection. Aside from being reusable and refillable, the lipsticks are packaged without plastic. Love!

Photos by Edward Kanarecki.
Don’t forget to follow Design & Culture by Ed on Instagram!

NET-A-PORTER Limited

Tabula Rasa. Chloé Resort 2023

To create a responsible brand in the 2020s entails more than choosing sustainable materials and cutting down on manufacturing and shipping costs. As Gabriela Hearst, the creative director of Chloé sees it, building awareness into the marketing plan is part of the process. “The problems fashion has are the problems that all industries have,” she said. “The world’s energy supply is 85% from fossil fuels, and if we don’t eliminate that situation we’re really walking into suicide. All these alternate energy sources – wind power, solar panels – don’t have the capacity.” Fusion, Hearst explained, could make up the difference as we wean ourselves off of oil. “In a nutshell,” she said, “fusion is how stars are made. It’s the energy that moves the universe.” She promised “a much bigger experience of it,” at the Paris show in September. Here, the fusion lesson consisted of broderie anglaise and laser cut leather in the form of stars and a night sky palette of strictly black and white, save for a single red dress with a scoop neck and full poet sleeves. She credited Joel Cohen’s recent adaptation of The Tragedy of Macbeth for the corset shape of dresses accented with knotted leatherwork evocative of medieval chainmail, and leather jackets and vests patchwork paneled like armor. The novelties this season were twofold. First, she collaborated with Barbour, the British outerwear company renowned for its waxed jackets, on a trench ruffles details and on a poncho, a shape she has a soft spot for. The denim corset dress, duster coat, button-front vest, and a-line skirt are the results of a project Hearst dreamed up with the California jeans expert Adriano Goldschmeid. They’re composed of 87% recycled cotton and 13% hemp; that’s an earth-friendly equation. The only thing that Heart could work on – and that’s something she started last season – is her aesthetical direction for Chloé. Should this brand really be all about minimalism? Monastic and prim? There’s no need for another Jil Sander or The Row.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

NET-A-PORTER Limited