Thursday, June 21, 2018

BEAUTY: Clothing--Sadak

Serbian designer Saša Kovačević's label Sadak is new to me and I am quite curious about it from this quirky, askew SS '19 collection lookbook presented during Paris Fashion Week.  I understand that Sadak regularly works with subverting ideas of gender, sexuality, race and religion and the odd details in this collection--ethnic patterns grafted onto traditional men's shirting, ethnic shapes such as kurtas and sarongs, asymmetrical seaming, feminine silk shells and skirts and tunics, and cheeky slogans like "I'm only hot online" and "This is Sadak, This is why I'm broke"--feel so relevant, not only for now, but for the future. Contemplate this collection and I think you will see it is the shape of things to come.

BEAUTY: Clothing--Walter Van Beirendonck

I think one of the things I like about clothing at this level is the possibility for symbology. I have written before that fashion at this level, and in the hands of designers who function as sculptors or performance artists, can serve as a kind of visual shorthand, as a way to convey an idea or a concept.

Belgian designer Walter Van Beirendonck (one of the original Antwerp Six, along with other notables Dries Van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester) has always created work that is layered and complex while being wild and colorful. His talent lies in not sacrificing either the cerebral or the visceral. Oblique references to other cultures and ways of being abounded in his earlier work.

Yet for several seasons now, Van Beirendonck has been incorporating protest and activism into his collections, and rightly so. The world is a tighter, uglier, more volatile place than it was, say, even five years ago. Daily atrocities abound in ways sadly expected but still shocking when they happen. His FW '15-'16 collection (here) was shown shortly after the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris and is about terrorism and the concept of censorship, featuring the phrase "STOP TERRORISING OUR WORLD." "Crossed Crocodiles Growl", his Fall-Winter '14-'15 collection (here) addressed diversity and racism. His targets are clear and the wrongs targeted are easily identified.

But for his Spring Summer '19 collection called "Wild Is The Wind" (versions of the classic song by Nina Simone, David Bowie, and George Michael were played during the show), the anger and activism is there but the targets are not as clear as they have been. The oblique layering is back and that is not a bad thing. Slogans and phrases abound in this collection: "It's only a story, it's not real, don't worry, there is a happy ENDING," "Loving the alien" (a possible reference to Bowie's song of the same name from his sixteenth album, "Tonight"--Van Beirendonck is a Bowie fan and incorporated him into his '14 SS "Home Sweet Home" collection here), "riot," and "Create your own idol" showing a polka-dotted character puzzlingly holding a shamrock. But more outright references to politics show up in the phrase "HELL TO THE LIARS" (hmm, who is the biggest liar of them all right now, maybe a certain egomaniacal con-man running one of the super powers of the planet?) and, more importantly, a recurring motif of a donkey along with the simple word "hope." Now, I know Van Beirendonck lives in Belgium, a long way away from the politics of the United States...and I certainly don't mean to insinuate that ours are the only problems in the world right now, but who could have foreseen that The Monster-In-Chief would have had such a destabilizing effect on the entire world. I mean, we knew he was going to make the United States into a sh*t show, but we have seen how his withdrawing from accords and treaties and how he has started tanking the global economy with tarrifs means trouble for us all. Perhaps what Van Beirendonck is suggesting is that the only hope in this situation is with the donkeys, the symbol for the Democratic party. Because someone needs to overthrow the Fascists in charge right now.

Aside from the messages and politics, the collection also featured some dark ideas in the form of structure and silhouette. There were outright skeletal references on lycra running suits and a dangling skeleton earring, but the rest of the collection referenced the idea of a skeleton or the underlying structure of any object in bands of webbing that reminded me so much of Milla Jovovich's Leeloo wearing those wide white bandages and later an orange thong-suspender set in "The Fifth Element." We can see the bare webbing by itself (covered with patches) or peeking out from under deconstructed suits like seeing a rib cage visible under removed flesh. Also present in this collection is the idea of volume. Many of the garments are cut wide and roomy. I would say loose but the ultimate presentation is simply as something over-sized and boxy, giving the impression of padding or protection...which actually does play into the skeletal structure idea too: seeing the bones on the inside is a privilege since we normally don't get to see inside others in that way...we only see the protective outer shell. Of course these physical manifestations are stand-ins for psychological states. Even the shoes are chunky--check out the amazing clogs made in collaboration with René van den Berg (please look at his amazing work at his site here). And look closely at the shark clogs in image 13.

While the direct slogans and pleas for sanity are toned down, the anger is still present as is the earnest yearning for a better world.

Happy Summer Solstice 2018!

Happy Summer Solstice 2017!
The longest day of the year. Enjoy.
After today, the days grow shorter as we begin our descent into autumn...

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

BEAUTY: Clothing--Misc. Milano Moda Uomo

Milano Moda Uomo closed Monday (we are now off to Paris) and here are some interesting details from the Spring Summer 2019 shows there:

Daks celebrated its 125th anniversary for this collection and with all that history, current creative director Filippo Scuffi chose to emulate the 70s. No, not the 1870s of course, the 1970s! I like how he walks a fine line between clothing and costume (the idea of clothing as costume does not bother me at all since I think all clothing is costume, but for the sale-ability of a brand, it is a concern), taking the original color palette of the period but brightening it up...

Alessandro Dell’Acqua at No.21 created a cheeky black and white toile de Jouy that featured martini glasses, vintage race cars, and surfers riding waves.

Skorts at Fendi.

BEAUTY: Clothing--Sartorial Monk

Italian tailor, ex-model, and designer Sabàto Russo (born and raised in Foggia in the Puglia region) started his brand Sartorial Monk in 2016 after a stint as an assistant designer for Issey Miyake in Japan. Russo's interest in a Japanese aesthetic is evident in his few past collections (and the name of his label!) as well as this lovely, lyrical Spring Summer 2019 co-ed offering at Milano Moda Uomo. Wide legged trousers and flowing tops in linen and silk, layered tunics and skirts for all captures an Elysian insouciance in which I'd love spend summer. (This collection comes after yesterday's post here about the SS '19 Etro collection, also beautifully Asian-inspired.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

BEAUTY: Clothing--Etro

Kean Etro set aside the traditional paisley of the Etro house and instead focused on an Asian-influenced collection, called Natura Manifesta, with kimono silhouettes and obi waist wraps for his SS '19 collection at Milano Moda Uomo (Etro has a very Eastern-inspired sensibility...he is a seeker with a metaphysical bent--just look here at his FW '17-'18 collection based on the psychedelic and metaphysical allegorical novel MOUNT ANALOGUE by René Daumal).

A bamboo-stalk-and-leaf motif woven into fabrics signaled the fact that many of the garments are made of spun bamboo. There is interest not only at Etro but also on a global scale in sustainable materials. "Bamboo is virulent, infestate! You don’t need water to grow it. And hemp! We should go for these fibers, and we do. I don’t know why cotton was chosen—it’s not cotton’s fault, it’s humanity’s fault," Etro said at the show while the website confirms, "The word sustainability immediately refers back to love: love of Nature, pure love, the love that’s deeply rooted inside each one of us, something that’s primitive and ancestral, close to our origins. First and foremost, a way of 'feeling' that should be transformed into 'action', for companies, too."

Garments were colored with natural dyes made from beetroot and coffee. In addition to the bamboo material, he also showed pieces made from nettle, raffia, hemp, and linen as well as sandals of cane woven in the style of Viennese canework. It's a beautiful sentiment made manifest in a beautiful collection...but I confess, I do miss the paisley just a little...

BEAUTY: Clothing--Pal Zileri

Pal Zileri's new creative director Rocco Iannone (this is only his second outing), showed a glorious, easy-to-wear, yet sumptuous SS '19 collection at Milano Moda Uomo that proves that today's streetwear style is tomorrow's discount rack. I'm so tired of the athleisure/streetwear/sportswear obsession and it must stop. Truly, because just look at this lovely, loosely tailored collection that feels as if it could be dressed up or worn as shown in a sort of, almost--dare I say it--Romantic sense, like one is lounging in a Pre-Raphaelite painting. Now, this is what one wears for spring.

The show itself sounds wonderfully relaxing and refreshing as well. Vogue's Nick Remsen said that Iannone "staged a tranquil outdoor Spring show in the annex of the Museo Diocesano on Corso di Porta Ticinese. A choir, seated centered on a gold-foil platform, enriched the recorded soundtrack. The models walked languidly. The sun shone and the Milanese swallows skittered overhead." What a perfect description of the kind of place one would wish to wear these sipping a Campari and soda on a loggia overlooking a Tuscan valley as the sun sets... the draped lightweight sweaters, the brocade and jacquard jackets, the floating striped trousers (I adore a striped trouser), the gorgeous fringed sandals, the understated yet beautiful insect pins on lapels, and oh, may I please draw your attention to the STUNNING corded belt with long tassels (Looks 8 and 18). I simply have to have that belt...

Monday, June 18, 2018

BEAUTY: Clothing--Billionaire

Billionaire is not, how should I say, my cup of tea. The brand is owned and run by over-swaggering, toxically masculine, blowhard/braggart Phillip Plein and is as ostentatious and hollowly showy as he is, but damn it, they cast almost exclusively mature models. And for that reason alone, here is the Billionaire Spring Summer '19 collection from Milano Moda Uomo, a fantasia of mature men checking into The Billioanire Hotel and heading down to the pool or spa. In Plein's mind, this Billionaire Hotel is based on the Hotel Bel-Air in L.A., hence the palm tree motifs on the clothing. As gaudy goes, I suppose it's not so bad--there are some very nice suits on display here. But just look at the handsome models representing any man over 30! Thanks Plein and thank models for showing that age is not something to be avoided or ignored.

BEAUTY: Clothing--Robert Cavalli

Roberto Cavalli's twenty-five-year old son Robert has started his own label, Triple RRR, which debuted this winter at Pitti Uomo. With fashion in his blood, he seems a natural to create clothing. While this lookbook for his Spring Summer '19 collection does not show anything groundbreaking or avant-garde, I give him kudos for trying to steer clothing away from the dreadful, bland "athleisure" and streetwear trend of late. I love that his casual wear does not reference sports but instead a kind of decadent, pajama-esque lounge wear. His use of burn-out velvet on jackets and coats resembling bathrobes only supports this rakish ideal.

He also pays tribute to his roots, not only in the name of his brand (R for Roberto his father, R for Robert, himself, and a final R for the brand) but in the prints he created featuring photos of his famous designer father and his mother Eva. One shirt even says "VOTE FOR EVA," a reference to when she was a finalist in the 1977 Miss Universe contest. Elsewhere, he brings in the kind of animal print beloved by his father and several images of horses, a play on his last name which means "horses" in Italian. "I AM A HORSES BABY!"

I can't find a site for the brand.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

BEAUTY: Clothing--MP Massimo Piombo

Moving on to our next stop for fashion season: Italy for Milano Moda Uomo.

When I last featured the work of designer Massimo Piombo here, the collection's silhouette was a mash up of Indian kurtas with Western blazers and jackets. And for his SS '19 collection at Milano Moda Uomo, he headed off in the same direction. An inveterate global traveler with a love for the exotic, Piombo set up a mustachioed, cowboy-adjacent character wearing black leather engineer boots in loose kurtas block-printed with Indian florals, or wearing and holding pashminas. It's kind of what summer is all about, really: vacationing in exotic locales and soaking up the beauty of another culture. I love the kurtas, and if a man in a horseshoe belt and motorcycle boots wants to wear one, more power to him!

BEAUTY: Clothing--M1992

A newer label, M1992 is headed by creative director Dorian Tarantini and for his Spring Summer 2019 collection, he made a bold statement about our planet and the climate. Concern for the ocean (plastic pollution, petroleum pollution, changing oceanic temperatures, etc.), and a speculative meditation on the future of our current trajectory gave rise to a very dark vision that melded surfer wear with a dark, frightening sensibility. Shirts printed with the flaming word "OIL," oil rig platforms, and a businessman in chest deep water were set off by neoprene wet suits as everyday wear, something we will need if we are to live with the rising waters of climate change. The collection can be broken down into wearable pieces now, but ultimately, it is a heavy, sarcastic, warning statement.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

BEAUTY: Clothing--The Style of Pitti Uomo

The twice-yearly trade show Pitti Uomo wrapped up in Florence yesterday and the attendees of the this global fashion gathering are often as or more interestingly dressed than the clothing inside the venue, the Fortezza da Basso. I love to see the "street style" of people in the fashion industry, to see how they take key pieces from runways and collections to incorporate them into an everyday look.

The Italian style is to be impeccably dressed, and while there were many men who followed this snappy tradition, a more Bohemian, artistic, eclectic look has made great headway, with Western wear, Hawaiian shirts, and a mix of expected masculine elements like khaki and camouflage.

Photos below by Gianluca Senese via

Photos below by Kuba Dabrowski for