London Fashion Week Grows Up

London Fashion Week has always been famous for eclectic, avant-garde and so-called in-your-face styles, mostly due to the city’s creative freedom and freshly graduated design students from the likes of Central Saint Martins. The wild streak is still there, but this time it was often overshadowed by more grown up, more refined and even sometimes conservative fashion from designers including Erdem and Emilia Wickstead.

London Fashion Week Grows Up

My Personal Highlights

Edeline Lee left me wide-eyed and absolutely enthralled. I was reminded of how much I truly love fashion. And her own love and respect for the craft is unmistakable in her S/S ’18 presentation. I’ll admit it- a few joyous giggles escaped from my mouth. What a divine collection! 

Flowing, easy designs in exceptional fabrics was the rule at Emilia Wickstead. Sometimes the looks were daring with unexpected details here and there, but they were never too over the top. A lesson in movement and texture, there was also something for every Wickstead Woman with modest and see-through styles alike.

The Emporio Armani show featured just about the most stunning casting of models I’ve ever seen. As for the clothing, there were some odd (not in an alluring way) pieces but I choose to ignore them and focus on the stunning coats, blazers, dresses and suits that confidently made their way down the runway.

Erdem wowed the world by bringing the story of the time Duke Ellington met Queen Elizabeth II to life. Apparently they became acquainted in 1958 for the occasion of a royal performance and, inspired by the queen’s love for jazz, Ellington composed “Queen’s Suite” for the royal. This story was the inspiration for a collection filled with majestic vintage prints, rich fabrics and other delights.

MM6 Maison Margiela presented immaculate cuts and tailoring but nothing wore too seriously or too strong. Winners include a pair of jeans creating challenging optical illusions through texture and light and a denim poncho that looks as if it could be the softest, most comfortable garment in all of LFW. It’s luxury streetwear done right. The clothes feel street and have that edge, yet they draw on intelligent design and still feel refined. There’s nothing “mass” about it.

At Palmer Harding, cascading, asymmetric ensembles paraded down the runway on models with sculptural earrings, artfully undone hair and even a model with a “sleeve”- an arm entirely done up in tattoos. These subtle details strategically added to the presentation’s cool factor which, like the clothes, felt natural the entire time. Each look was expertly styled and the models looked completely at ease.

King of the Avant-Garde

I’m not a fan of Gareth Pugh’s often gothic and sometimes disturbing creations, however, this season is the exception when it comes to his designs (the video presentation is a totally different story). I hope to see the likes of Bjork sport these glossed and metallic, origami-like designs. 

Despite All of the Concern, NYFW Was One for the Books...

Will big media ever stop leveraging fear to move print copies and gain online views? Let's not hold our breath. However, we can choose to wise up and read between the lines. After weeks of concern about key players opting for Paris instead, a funny thing happened. We witnessed what I consider to be one of the most impressive editions of New York Fashion Week in years.

Fashion Month Armageddon it was not and it actually opened my eyes to some really fantastic designers who may have otherwise escaped my radar. Full disclosure here: NYFW was never my favorite of the top four. I’m much more excited about couture than what can often be described as ho-hum reiterations of sportswear. But as is always the case, we’re able to be left with wondrous impressions when we’re entirely without expectations. It was a gorgeous fashion week. And besides inspiring designs from the likes of Delpozo, Zimmermann and Oscar de la Renta, I was impressed by designers I’d previously been unfamiliar with, such as Brandon Maxwell.

I adore Altuzarra (and company) as much as any other high fashion fan, but how much can we believe in fashion’s future if we think the weight of an entire fashion week can be carried by only a few names? In fact, I’ll go slightly off-topic here. A similar sentiment is being echoed online with yet another headline-making shift in fashion- the exit of some of the industry’s strongest and most seasoned editors. NYFW isn’t dying and neither are print magazines. As professionals in a creative sector, it’s time to embrace change - no matter how it’s served - and trust the well of talent and ideas can never run dry. 

Thankfully unbridled creativity was the week’s tacit theme. Comparable to the reach of the powerful “non-trend”, NYFW spoke to individuality and the joys of cultivating personal style. In another similar fashion, it would be equally challenging to lump all of NYFW into a general, overarching message. Designers showed collections on runways and in private presentations alike, they opted for venues scattered across the city and some stuck with the traditional retail calendar while others gave “See Now, Buy Now” another chance.

Oh, the irony that the so-called demise of New York Fashion Week proved to be it’s strongest season in quite some time. It’s been years since I’ve witnessed the fruits of such a memorable week in the American fashion capital and it’s thrilling to wonder what comes next. Certainly, each season of every year offered at least a few moments to remember. But the difference is Spring/Summer 2018 is strong across all of its spheres - thanks to establishing and emerging brands alike.

My NYFW Highlights

If you’ve been too busy to catch the entire selection of shows, you may want to peruse my favorites (listed in alphabetical order). 

Brandon Maxwell

Delpozo

Jenny Packham

Oscar de la Renta

Rosie Assoulin

Yigal Azrouël

Zimmermann

 

The New Creative Renaissance

Now things are really starting to get interesting. If you’ve never been one to follow the crowd, you must be thrilled with what can only be described as a new creative renaissance- spurred on by the speed, widespread access and expanded opportunities offered by digital and new technologies. 

A Globalized World

We are all connected. Globalization and the internet (especially social media) have connected denizens of this planets in ways never before witnessed in the entire history of humankind. To know what is happening and what is trending in places as scattered as Italy, Singapore, Kenya and New Zealand, you’d only need to turn on your mobile device to scroll a social feed, search hashtags or implement a simple search.

It was one thing to see many of the same brands and styles when we visited showrooms and stores but when we started to get bombarded by one homogenous image after the next each time we’d connect to the net an era of great change was bound to occur. 

Homogenous Merchandising

And so… here we are. That era is now. The world of design has been turned on its head - and to the very best outcome. Designers are responding to bored and jaded shoppers with some of the most creative and diverse options we’ve yet to see in the marketplace. Trends still exist, however, the greatest movement of all is that of the non-trend. To each his own… a celebration of individuality…  and wanting to stand apart from the crowd. 

At the risk of appearing to be Gucci’s greatest fan, I must once again refer to the groundbreaking changes at the luxury fashion (and now furniture and homewares) house. Creative director Alessandro Michele cultivated the cult of Gucci from his very first season with the brand and most of us are happily following along. Why? The house’s design aesthetic has shifted to celebrate kooky individuals with a flair for magpie and bohemian style. Just about anyone can find at least a few pieces that speak to their tastes and the overwhelmingly majority of pieces are unmistakably Gucci with bold, colorful and experimental design motifs expressed through luxurious craftsmanship and materials. They’re wonderful for mixing and matching (yet another way to stand out from the crowd) and they look as equally stunning mixed with other designer creations or vintage or high street finds. What’s more, the looks offer timeless appeal, opening up even more opportunities for creative personal styling and ensuring you won’t meet your “twin” in your head-to-toe look. 

I suspect we primarily have Instagram to thank for the mass exodus towards looking distinctly like ourselves. Now established designers are differentiating their offerings accordingly and we’re discovering all sorts of alluring and inventive designs from a new generation of emerging brands like Cult Gaia, Sophie Buhai and Stella Jean.  

Content is everywhere and images and video have saturated our screens. Yes, the only vaccination for boredom is fearless and exhilarating design. 

We are indeed living in exciting times. This is likely only the beginning of a newfound respect and appreciation for all things creative. The seeds have been planted for the flourishing of design - in every sphere.

 

Are Markdowns the Antithesis of Luxury Shopping?

An article on Glossy really struck me last week. They heralded Gucci as the star of the luxury industry (already a well-known fact) but gave this reason for their current status "the brand hasn’t had to mark down a single item so far this year".

It seems so simple and yet it's something many brands have forgotten about through years of fluctuations in consumer behavior, shopping platforms and technology. Brands should strive to avoid markdowns. Those who haven't reached the magic of Alessandro Michele's Gucci image overhaul, other methods should be taken to avoid putting items on sale.

It's a fine line to balance because investments in stock must be recovered (and profits made), however, putting items on sale also creates the short and long-term side effect of diluting the exclusivity and sophistication of a brand.

The truth is, if you love a product, you'll be more than willing to pay full price. If luxury houses focus on making us more delighted with their images and offerings and work on cultivating "cult status" devotion, it can only be a winning situation for us all.

Cartier Joaillerie: What Dreams Are Made Of

A friend of mine recently left a highly coveted position at Cartier - in Manhattan, no less. My mouth gaped open upon receiving the news of his departure. I had so many questions...

"But why?" "How?"

And I was instantly transported to memories of equally bewildered reactions to my adoration for certain cities over others. The details of his exit aren't relevant- but my initial reaction is. The highly revered 170 year old jewelry house has achieved what the youngest luxury firms can only dream of - the very mention of their name conjures up images (and feelings) associated with beauty, glamour, exceptional craftsmanship, confidence and rich and exquisite materials.

Which pieces draw you in? A classic panther with captivating emerald eyes or something from the once again hot (but old favorite) Juste Un Clou Collection? What about a Cactus De Cartier ring, which is just impossible not to touch?

If you adore these offerings, you will be in awe of the sheer opulence and attention poured into the 600 designs currently on display at London's Reform Club. The selection includes vintage and new fine jewelry in addition to 49 one-of-a-kind high jewelry creations (Haute Joaillerie) with prices stretching from just over $300,000 to millions.

Instantly drawn in by details of the show, I couldn't help but notice the sharp contrast to the apparel side of haute couture. Haute couture sees limited sales to an extremely small group of people scattered around the world. In fact, most fashion houses continue the craft primarily as a means to market their brands in their entirety, leading to mass global sales of products such as sunglasses, handbags, cosmetics and perfume. But when it comes to haute joaillerie, these couture creations find themselves in the hands of many more buyers.

Their price tags may feature many more 0s, but they're a lot more practical from an investor's point of view. Not that many of us would be willing to part with a creation so spectacular.

Excess inventory from the U.K. show will be shipped to 13 Cartier boutiques around the globe, so pay attention if you find you must take a jewel-encrusted beauty or two home.

Fur Is Finally History for a Growing Number of Luxury Brands

Some of the biggest names are fashion are saying no to fur. They said it would never happen, but what it means for fashion to be luxurious is quickly transforming every day. Add it to the list of new forays into sustainability and transparency- luxury fashion is adopting new morals and a new point of view.

As someone who made the personal decision to give up fur last year, this new wave in fashion history hits close to home. With the exception of humans living in the coldest and most remote regions of our planet, it's a staggering challenge to justify the donning of furs for style.

Who are the most notable anti-fur converts to date? Armani announced they would move on from fur in 2016 and just this month, none other than YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP has announced a similar move.

With some of the most prestigious names in luxury fashion leading the charge, it's inevitable others will follow suit. But the question is how long will it take for brands closely identified with the textiles to perform the inevitable about face? Brands like Dennis Basso and Fendi, for instance. 

We can thank the internet for the ever-growing dissemination of information and the growing consciousness of consumer bases worldwide. If not for morality's sake, the hope is they'll soon have to join the ranks of more responsible brands in order to secure continuously robust bottom lines. 

Do we really need fur in 2017?

Luxury Fashion Pushes for Change

Sure, we’re hearing a lot about the notorious fast fashion, high street brands that are starting to clean up their acts in the name of sustainability- but if you ask me, it’s the luxury brands that are really leading the charge when it comes to eco-friendly innovation. 

Many people still can’t wrap their heads around the idea of a luxury firm acting sustainably, but to do so is to miss the point entirely. The Cambridge Dictionary defines luxury as “great comfort, especially as provided by expensive and beautiful things". How much comfort and beauty could one enjoy on a barren, resource-stripped planet? Thus the biggest players in luxury are taking charge and diving into action. 

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Here’s a look at some of the most notable contributors to date...

Kering

We’re seeing fashion incubators pop up all over the beauty and fashion space, including Kering focusing strictly on sustainable innovation. They’ve partnered with Plug and Play to select 10 startups in the textiles industry to receive 3-month long mentoring programs including support for technical capabilities, business models and growing to scale. 

What’s more, the luxury conglomerate is leading the charge with sustainable textiles and production processes including research into lab-grown leather and commitments to do away with hazardous chemicals in their production cycles across all Kering brands - including Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen, by the year 2020.

Fashion Tech Lab

Street style darling and serial fashion entrepreneur, Miroslava Duma, has recently launched a new venture focused entirely on fashion's sustainable revolution, Fashion Tech Lab.

Fashion Tech Lab serves to bridge the worlds of science and fashion to bring about faster progress and development for considerations such as performance textiles and wearable technology to support environmental efforts. One such company they’ve invested in is Orange Fiber, an Italian textiles firm which has just developed a fantastic textile made from orange peels. Ferragamo recently released a capsule collection using the textile with such designs as silk-like scarves to rival the likes of Hermès. Orange Fiber is made from the waste products of oranges used by Italian juicing companies and does not contain any pesticides or other chemicals. 

LVMH

LVMH is another sustainability leader with plans to convert to 100% renewable electricity in its French LVMH facilities by 2018, numerous initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint across brands ranging from fashion to spirits, recycling programs and more.

6/8 Update: LVMH has just appointed a CSM LVMH Director of Sustainability and Innovation!

And while these brands are leading the pack, there are numerous other luxury brands that are taking action to reduce carbon footprints, provide safer and cleaner production processes and fabrics and reduce waste. A few of these are probably brands you already shop and love - names like Maiyet, EDUN, Osklen and Chinti & Parker. 

Linking to the Latest in Fashion and Luxury

There is so much going on lately.

Here's a quick breakdown of some of the most exciting news in the worlds of fashion and luxury - links to explore and all.

1. Free Castles 

Italy wants to loosen up the flow of tourists in cities like Venice and Rome by deflecting crowds away from the usual suspects to lesser known, even remote regions of the country. To make matters more interesting, the plan is to give away monasteries, castles and other historic buildings in these areas for free! If you submit a winning proposal (by June 26), you'll enjoy a 9-year lease and commit to restoring and renovating a space to attract future droves of international sightseers. Fabulous! 

2. Arab Fashion Week 

The fourth edition of Arab Fashion Week just came to a close (May 16-20 at the Meydan Hotel in Dubai) after presenting collections from a host of regional talent and an international roster of designers including Antonio Marras, LaQuan Smith and Marchesa. Look out for the fifth edition coming up in November. Arab Fashion Week is the only international fashion week to feature Ready-Couture and Pre-Collections.

3. Penhaligon's Offers Exclusive, Bespoke Scents at Harrods

Penhaligon's has relocated to the Salon de Parfums at Harrods, launching the Your Penhaligon's concept in a space that's part laboratory, part salon and part boutique. Shoppers may enjoy semi-bespoke fragrances or the biggest fragrance lovers can immerse themselves into the deluxe bespoke fragrance experience. The bespoke journey is for those wanting to learn more about the art of fragrance and consists of a consultation, tests and subsequent retests for a truly custom, exquisite fragrance with prices beginning at just over $45,000.

 

Why the New It Bag Has So Much More Appeal

...and just as if it had never gone away, the It bag has returned to the arms of fashion.

It seems we've all forgotten about the It bag or filed it away as a relic of the past. Take a moment to recall partly faded memories of rainbow-logoed Takashi Murakami collaboration Louis Vuitton bags, for instance. The mere mention of the phrase can conjure up images as diverse as logo-clad, aviator-wearing celebrities toting Nicolas Ghesquiere-era Balenciaga Motorcycle bags on the streets of L.A. or paparazzi-dodging stars shuffling through airports with denim D-logo Dior Saddle bags in tow.

Of course the industry hasn't forgotten about the It bag's glory. It's every designer, retailer and luxury conglomerate's dream to have the chance to feel the effects of a bonafide handbag frenzy. Every fashion house wants a winner like the iconic Fendi Baguette.

Well, the industry's dream has come into fruition... almost overnight, we've found ourselves in the midst of a new era for the It bag. And it's a lot more appealing! 

Scarcity

While some brands are foregoing scarcity altogether (Hermes is even opening more workshops to produce more Birkin bags), others see the newest revival of the It bag as a chance to really do things right. Of course they can sell scores of bags but then they'll be everywhere - again, including their knockoffs... and the desire will fizzle out as quickly as it came. Mansur Gavriel is doing an amazing job with scarcity. They produce limited quantities of each style, and many of the models sell out in an instant. They're also proving that It bags don't need to be astronomically priced to woo shoppers. The requirements? Look good and be difficult to come by.

Scandal

Do It bags still come with a healthy dose of scandal? You bet they do. The new MASTERS LVXKOONS Collection by Louis Vuitton is a stunning example. Debuted at an ultra-exclusive dinner at the Louvre (in front of the Mona Lisa, no less), the bags are the creative brainchild of Louis Vuitton, Jeff Koons and some of the finest master artists in the history of mankind. 

Are you confused yet?

The bags are absolutely adored for their daring takes on art classics but also scorned by many as sacrilegious, commercialized rip-offs of Da Vinci, Fragonard, Rubens, Titian and Van Gogh. The bold and colorful bags and accessories feature famous prints from these artists with metal LV monogram details, Koons and LV logos and each artist's name in bold block fonts. Accompanied by hanging bunny chains, reinforcing Koons' involvement, these bags are both the hottest and most hated item in fashion.

If you wonder how I feel about them, I think they're brilliant and utterly gorgeous.

Style

Of course design is another reason the newest wave of It bags feels so sophisticated. The bags look better than ever from the regal Gucci Dionysus shoulder bags available in dozens of colors and materials to the slightly odd yet attractive Triangle Duffle from Balenciaga Fall 2017 (causing a stir before it even left the runway), today's It bags are truly irresistible.

Embark on a Grecian Journey with the Chanel Cruise 2018 Fashion Show

Karl Lagerfeld has done it again. The maestro of fashion, photography, art and design wowed audiences this week with a Chanel Cruise show to remember. 

Though you’d have a hard time believing it based on photos and images of the event, the Cruise 2018 show was actually staged in Paris. Chanel proved set skills rivaling those of blockbuster Hollywood films with a column-lined, sandy-pebbled scene of a a fictional and ideal Greece - "The Modernity of Antiquity". 

Somehow the hair, makeup and Chanel designs still managed to keep viewers’ attention with a sea of exceptionally modern looks, including many more youthful designs than we’re used to seeing from the storied fashion house. 

Highlights included tweed minidresses - whether with frayed hems or structural silhouettes, body conscious dresses with bulbous skirts, high waisted bikinis, diaphanous dusters... and one incredibly rich color palette.

Nearly natural lip colors, Egyptian goddess winged eyes and elegantly adorned headbands completed the looks along with gladiator sandals and bracelets, Chanel gloves and, naturally, an array of beguiling handbags. 

Dear Baselworld 2017, Traditional Luxury Timepieces Are Here to Stay.

Spring is almost here along with warmer days, greener foliage and Switzerland's BASELWORLD.

As the weeks draw nearer for the internationally-renowned jewelry and timepiece show, talks of new innovations for smartwatches are creating a frenzy.

This time, Movado Group, Inc. is the talk of the town. The watch group is set to introduce a line of smart watches with Google: Movado Connect. The watches are compatible with both Android and iOS and they offer fitness tracking, customizable dials, access to 1000's of apps and more. The Google collaborations continue with two Movado Group brands, Tommy Hilfiger and Hugo Boss, set to introduce their own smartwatches for Fall 2017.

Chopard - Traditional Luxury Timepieces

Do you remember all of the buzz and hype when the Apple Watch came onto the market? How many of your colleagues and friends wear an Apple Watch today? When is the last time you've heard anything about this device?

Technology is wonderful. As a professional who largely creates online, I'm a huge supporter of the internet and the slew of conveniences it has on offer. However, technology works best when it only supports or enhances the real world. It's the co-pilot, not the star of the show.

After all, there's nothing more enchanting than the real, the physical, that which may be experienced with all of the senses...

As fun and flashy these devices may be, digital devices don't stand a chance at replacing traditional objects of fine craftsmanship. These are objects perfected and refined over the course of 100's of years of design.

Buy a smartwatch for the opportunity to try something new and you'll likely find you miss the type of timepiece that can adorn your wrist offline. 

One of the greatest luxuries is spending more time offline and a smartwatch is a step in the wrong direction.

On the other hand, traditional, Swiss movement timepieces are excellent lifestyle purchases that continue to make worthy investments. 

I say, if you have a luxury watch collection - have no fear. The smartwatch trend is merely a trendy distraction.

At least that's how I see it. In the end, only time will tell...

The Gucci Effect: When Casual Clothes and Opulence Collide

Unless you've been completely hiding away from the world, you've witnessed at least some of the waves produced by the newly revamped Gucci. Spearheaded by designer Alessandro Michele, Gucci is breaking all of the rules and garnering plenty of attention. In fact, many of the trends of the last few seasons have been directly or indirectly influenced by the brand from colorful embroidery to maxi skirts filled with color and shine.

The style works because it's one part rebellion against casual clothes and one part a solid embrace for it. These design choices shout "I want to dress well but I don't want to suffer for it".

It's an exciting time in fashion, indeed. We're ready to elevate our style but we insist on doing it in a way that's easy, effortless, fun and filled with comfort. 

I think we've found the much sought out for balance. Let's allow this be the wave of the fashion future. More colors and creativity with less rules coupled with enough comfort to keep this wave going on an uninterrupted flow.

It's a "trend" that never has to go out of fashion.

A Stylish Way: A Luxury and Fashion Blog

Of course, everyone knows the greatest luxuries in life are absolutely free. Listening to children as they laugh and play, feeling the sunlight warm your face, giving to enrich the lives of others...

This life is meant to be enjoyed to the fullest.

Here, I’ll focus my thoughts on what’s new, what's exciting and what's shifting in the worlds of luxury goods, luxury services and fashion. 

Visit A Stylish Way to enjoy such content as exotic travel destinations and exceptional objects of design, but also opinion pieces and points of view on the ever-changing landscape of these industries.

Let’s celebrate the aesthetics, designs and experiences that add just a little more pleasure to our lives.

So sit back, grab a cup of hot tea - and enjoy

Kotor, Montenegro