Raf Simons, ‘I Don’t Want To Do Collections Where I’m Not Thinking’

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Last spring, months before Raf Simons announced he’d be stepping down as Creative Director at Dior, the designer agreed to a series of intimate interview with prized fashion critic Cathy Horyn, Business of Fashion reveals.

Caught inside Dior’s unstoppable money-making machine, the pair’s conversations shed light on Simons’ creative suffocation during his time at the European house—his genuine artistry falling second to systematic processes in order to meet strict deadlines. For a dreamy romantic like Simons, such a regimented fast-paced environment became a heavyweight burden, as shown in the following interview excerpts via BOF, below.

On the Dior fall ready-to-wear show:

“You know, we did this collection in three weeks […] Tokyo was also done in three weeks. Actually everything is done in three weeks, maximum five. And when I think back to the first couture show for Dior, in July 2012, I was concerned because we only had eight weeks.”

On the Dior process:

“When you do six shows a year, there’s not enough time for the whole process […] Technically, yes—the people who make the samples, do the stitching, they can do it. But you have no incubation time for ideas, and incubation time is very important. When you try an idea, you look at it and think, Hmm, let’s put it away for a week and think about it later. But that’s never possible when you have only one team working on all the collections.”

On inspiration:

“I just did a show yesterday. Just now, while waiting in the car, I sent four or five ideas to myself by text message, so I don’t forget them. They are always coming […] I was just thinking about this kind of very masculine tailoring you see in the navy. It can be stupid things, like a certain button. But I’ve been doing this my whole life. The problem is when you have only one design team and six collections, there is no more thinking time. And I don’t want to do collections where I’m not thinking.”

On his schedule:

“I have a schedule every day that begins at 10 in the morning and runs through the day, and every, every minute is filled. From 10.10am to 10.30am, it’s shoes, let’s say. From 10.30 to 11.15, it’s jewellery. Everything is timed—the whole week. If there’s a delay in a meeting, the whole day is fucked up.”

On fashion:

“Fashion became pop. I can’t make up my mind if that’s a good or a bad thing. The only thing I know is that it used to be elitist. And I don’t know if one should be ashamed or not to admit that maybe it was nicer when it was more elitist, not for everybody. Now high fashion is for everybody.”

On accessibility:

“Everything is so easily accessible, and because of that you don’t make a lot of effort anymore. When we were young, you had to make up your mind to investigate something—because it took time. You really had to search and dig deep. Now if something interests you, one second later, you can have it. And also one second later you also drop it.”

On personal versus professional life:

“There’s never enough time. You get a tension. I know how to pull out from this in my personal life. We go and look at nature for three hours. It’s heaven. We go to a bakery and buy a bag of stuff and lie in the grass. Sublime. But how to do that in the context of your professional life? You buy a house and you start doing pottery or something?”

The complete text of Cathy Horyn’s interview with Raf Simons appears in the Autumn/Winter 2015 issue of System Magazine.

Margiela Changes Its Name + 5 Fashion Meltdowns to Remember

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Maison Margiela Artisinal Spring 2015, Courtesy of Maison Margiela

With regard to everything except the clothes, John Galliano‘s much-talked about return, the debut collection for Maison Margiela was a drama free affair. The location? The 4th floor of a new London office tower. As Vanessa Friedman put it for the New York Times, In case you missed it: new building, new businesslike beginning.” All of this quiet professionalism is intentional. The clothes will speak for themselves, giving Galliano a chance to cement his status of “in recovery” from the infamous drunken, anti Semitic rant of 2011. 

Something else happened too, almost silently. What’s been “Maison Martin Margiela” since 1988 became “Maison Margiela.” It seems a wise choice to make this move with little-to-no fanfare–after all the noise surrounding the Saint Laurent rebranding was louder than anything else, for quite some time.

The name change has avoided controversy, perhaps because Galliano himself is already enshrouded in it. With the demands of a countlessly expanding seasonal schedule (spring, fall, resort, pre-fall, couture, and so on,) immense financial pressure, and fierce competition, fashion can break one down and chew one up ’til there’s nothing much to do but pitch a fit. Here’s a look back at a few designers who did:

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1. John Galliano’s Anti-Semitic Rant

First up in our short history of fashion tantrums, let’s revisit the incidents that led to Galliano’s firing from Dior. In 2011, Galliano went on a drunk tirade, one he later said he remembered nothing of, verbally attacking a couple in Paris, starting with ethnic slurs and moving on to criticize the woman’s clothes, thighs, and more.

At trial, he cited the immense pressures he felt on the job and said he was addicted to alcohol, sleeping pills, and valium. The judges disagreed, deeming him to have had “sufficient awareness of his act despite his addiction and his fragile state.” 

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2. The Saint Laurent vs. YSL Debacle

This infamous name change must have had public relations professionals everywhere shaking in their boots, and probably paved the path for Margiela’s approach to rebranding — a what not to do.

Hedi Slimane’s entrance at the house formerly known as YSL was shaky on many grounds. Around 2012, it was a straight-up disaster though. Business of Fashion‘s founder and Editor-in-Chief Imran Amed wrote extensively about the ongoing interactions with the communications team after they were asked to edit a tweet (as BlackBook’s social media manager, I know very well that this is impossible) and ultimately neglected invitations to Slimane’s debut collection “because they were unhappy with the ‘tone of voice’ that we have used when writing about YSL.” There was also mass confusion over the name and to how the company would be referred. A lengthy press release was concocted to divvy up appropriate nomenclature.

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3. Christophe Decarnin Ordered to Stay in Bed

The crowd was confused when the 2011 Balmain show closed and then-designer Decarnin was nowhere to be found to take a bow. Immediately, conflicting reports emerged. Had the designer suffered a mental breakdown, was his absence due to drugs, or had he simply stayed up too late the night before, putting finishing touches on the collection?

Reps for Balmain cited “Doctor’s Orders” to account for his absence. Decarnin was reportedly recovering from nervous exhaustion, reigniting a frequent discussion about the potentially dangerous pace of the fashion industry today.

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4. Cathy Horyn Calls Oscar de la Renta a “hot dog”

After a harsh review with a colorful if misunderstood quasi-insult from Cathy Horyn (“far more a hot dog than an éminence grise of American fashion,”) the late ODLR wasted no words nor money to address his response, which he issued vis-à-vis a full page ad in WWD, entitled “An Open Letter to Cathy Horyn from Oscar De La Renta.”

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5. Is Jil Sander at Jil Sander?

Jil Sander founded her eponymous house in 1968. Since then, she’s exited and re-entered so many times that her comings and goings are both hard to keep track of, and met with incredulity.

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Exits, Returns, and Debuts: The Fashion News You Need to Know

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Photo: Matteo Prandoni/BFAnyc.com

1. Peta Protests Men’s Woolmark Prize

While Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow were celebrating another big win for their line Public School, PETA protestors (in the form of three vegan male models, carrying a replica of a bloody sheep carcass and signs, wearing synthetic sweaters,) protested the use of wool, pointing to a study that showed severe mistreatment of the animals in Australia. Woolmark contests these claims.

2. H&M & Coachella Collaborate

Festival attire inspires an Instagram frenzy and countless blog posts each year, so H&M decided to make it official with a collaboration with Coachella inspired by the classic American festival aesthetic.

3. Isabel Marant Casts Natasha Poly

Isabel Marant’s new campaign explores the female’s feline side, with hair inspired by a lioness and a decidedly playful characterization for model Natasha Poly, who, Marant told WWD, has a lot of different characters and we knew she would play the game.” The playful campaign was shot by fashion faves Inez & Vinoodh. 

natasha poly4. Pringle of Scotland Exhibition

Pringle is celebrating it’s 200th anniversary in a deservedly big way. The brand will debut a major exhibition called “Fully Fashioned: The Pringle of Scotland Story” at the Serpentine Gallery during London Fashion Week. In addition, the show will feature new campaign images will be presented, shot by Albert Watson of Scottish figures including Stella Tennant, David Shrigley and Luke Treadaway as well as a collaboration with Michael Clark Dance Company. Finally, Pringle will introduce, Deconstructed, a customizable service allowing shoppers to add a personal touch to their cashmere purchases. 

5. Frida Giannini’s Left Gucci Earlier Than Expected
GUCCI and Spinello Projects Present Smell The Magic by Kris Knight
Photo: Joe Schildhorn /BFAnyc.com

We knew Frida Giannini was leaving Gucci, we just didn’t know how soon that would be. Apparently, Giannini left last week, a full month earlier than anticipated. According to WWD, sources say Giannini was asked to leave the company last Friday, rather than after her Fall women’s show on February 25th, as originally planned. It is believed this is a result of efforts to speed up the company’s process for upcoming decisions regarding creative direction for the company.

6. Viviane Sassen for 3.1 Phillip Lim

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First of all, 3.1 Phillip Lim is verging on it’s 10-year-anniversary, which is insane! To celebrate, the brand returned to ideas Lim views as essential to its DNA, bucking convention by eschewing hair and makeup, and heading to Morocco with art photographer Viviane Sassen for a shoot based around the theme “Romancing Reality.”

7. Kim Kardashian Lands Vogue Australia Solo Cover

vogue australia

Though we can’t help but wonder if she’ll ever land the U.S. cover spot on her own, this cover adds more fuel to Kim’s fashion fire. We know we have her coming up soon clad in Prada on the cover of LOVE, and her ad campaign for Balmain just launched. When Kim sets out to become a fashion icon, you better believe she’s gonna get it done.

8. Cathy Horyn is Back


CAUDALIE + L'WREN SCOTT Launch EventPhoto: Angela Pham/BFAnyc.com

It turns out her exit from The New York Times after 15 years was not a final bow. The famed critic will join The Cut as critic-at-large, starting with the fast-approaching February shows.

9. Adidas Questions the Meaning of “Superstar”

Rita Ora, Pharrell Williams, David Beckham, and basketball player Damian Lillard come together in this video to make probing and skeptical claims about what it means to be a superstar (“If you think a superstar is people wanting to know where you are, who you’re with, and reading about what you had for breakfast, or caring about what you wear to an event…”) –while wearing the athletic brand’s classic 1969 sneaker of the same name.

FashionFeed: The Best ‘Best-Of’ Lists of 2011

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● Fashionista’s roundup of top fashion editorials features that memorable Vogue spread with the ageless Natalia Vodianova cuddling with stylish wunderkinds Elle Fanning, Chloe Moretz, and Hailee Steinfeld. [Fashionista]

● Here’s a roundup of the 10 best pop-up stores of the year, which includes Nicola Formichetti’s spectacular concept store. [Racked NY]

● Derek Blasberg’s best-dress of 2011 features a mix of obvious choices (Alexa Chung, Kate Moss), but also includes some surprises, like breakout star Elizabeth Olsen. [Harper’s Bazaar]

● Cathy Horyn’s picks for notable moments in fashion range from the John Galliano debacle to Giovanna Battaglia’s gravity-defying Stephen Sprouse gown at the Cannes Film Festival. [NYT]

● Fashion Gone Rogue’s best beauty editorials include Anais Pouilot‘s striking braid game and Joudan Dunn’s intricate headwear in Vogue Paris.  [FGR]

● Some of this year’s top fashion magazine covers include a crying Hailee Steinfeld for LOVE and a provocatively positioned butterfly for Garage.  [Styleite]

 

Calling Jimmy Choo a Cobbler, and Other Famous Fashion Feuds

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Thanks to an extraordinarily forthcoming Tamara Mellon (formerly of Jimmy Choo, currently anti Jimmy Choo,) the word on the street is that the man for which the shoes were named never actually designed anything. Now, Mellon has publicly called him a “cobbler”. (Burn!) Mellon, who departed Jimmy Choo to focus on her own brand, continues to air her dirty laundry for our horrified amusement (in interviews, a book, and excerpts published everywhere.) So what other fashion feuds gathered us in the schoolyard to watch?

But a year ago, respected fashion writer Cathy Horyn disrespected Oscar de la Renta in her review of his spring 2013 collection, calling de la Renta a “hotdog,” (in the surfer lingo sense of the word, meaning a showman, obviously.) A seething ODLR retorted with a full-page ad in WWD, calling Horyn a “stale, 3-day old hamburger.” The two have sort of since made up.

That time Keifer Sutherland head butted Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough at the Met Ball in 2009, breaking the designer’s nose. McCollough was supposedly defending the honor of Brooke Shields, who Sutherland had bumped into. Let’s assume Sutherland will never attend one of Proenza Schouler’s shows.

Hedi Slimane versus everyone ever. A few of his grievances include: making sure Cathy Horyn wasn’t invited to his debut show at YSL Yves Saint Laurent Saint Laurent because of comments she made in 2004, and cutting ties with retailer Colette (and losing hundreds of thousands of wholesale business for one season alone) over those AIN’T LAURENT without Yves tees. More to come, probably. 

Nicolas Ghesquière v. Balenciaga. When the designer left his post at Balenciaga, he broke his contracts by speaking ill in an interview with System magazine. Now the house is seeking about $7 million in damages. But who knows, maybe we’ll see him turn up at Louis Vuitton, and this will all be history.

Writing Open Letters to Cathy Horyn Is a Thing

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There’s a new designer drinking the Horyn haterade. Following Oscar De La Renta’s open letter to New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn where the iconic fashion designer called her a "3-day old hamburger" as a rebuttle to her calling him a "hot dog," Saint Laurent creative director Hedi Slimane took to Twitter yesterday to blast her in an open letter titled "My Own Times." The piece is a response to a negative review of his debut Saint Laurent collection and is written in newspaper style font to drive the dig home. Slimane gets straight to the point by calling the fashion critic a "a schoolyard bully" and deems her personal style as "seriously challenged." What is this world coming to?

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While the cool and classy ODLR has already moved on from the mini-feud and assured Horyn that she is invited back to his show, Slimane makes it clear in his letter above that, "she will never get a seat at Saint Laurent." Ouch.

Designers aren’t the only ones that have publically slammed Horyn; at the Mugler show in Paris a few days ago, Lady Gaga debuted a new rap song (yes, she raps now) that includes the following lyrics: "Nicopanda got style, trick, Cathy Horyn your style ain’t dick. Walk a mile in these foot-high heels, I run in these you ain’t running shit. You chew beef, I wear meat – I’m getting fat and so is my bank. From a sold-out world tour, bitch." 

FashionFeed: Planet Blue Parties in the USA, Kate Moss Weds in the UK

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● Planet Blue’s “Party in the USA” look book arrives just in time for the patriotic weekend. [Planet Blue] ● Kate Moss looks ever the blissful bride in her custom John Galliano dress. Jamie Hince wears a suit by YSL’s Stefano Pilati. [Grazia] ● Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s monthly fashion club, StyleMint, launched today. Watch the intro video and create your style profile ASAP – it’s actually kind of fun. [Olsens Anonymous]

● Cathy Horyn questions the lack of fun at fashion shows lately. She must have missed the Band of Outsiders musical. [NYT] ● Peep the debut of Rachel Zoe’s line at Neiman Marcus and be sure to take the “Oh So Zoe” Facebook challenge for a chance to win a $2,500 shopping spree at the legendary luxury department store. [NeimanMarcus]

Michelle Obama Has a New Personal Shopper

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Since before fashion week slammed into New York City, questions about who, exactly, was outfitting the first lady in Marc Jacobs and McQueen were left artfully unanswered, though most everyone fingered Meredith Koop, a White House aide, as Michelle’s latest stylist. “For what it’s worth, I hear that Ikram Goldman, the Chicago retailer, is no longer directly involved with Mrs. Obama’s wardrobe, since December,” the New York Times’ beloved baritone Cathy Horyn smuggled into a recent article. Last night, the Washington Post put an end to the speculation.

29-year-old Koop, a former Kappa Delta and graduate of Vanderbilt University, has officially stepped into the unofficial role of Michelle Obama’s stylist. (The first lady has long claimed that she doesn’t require such sartorial servicing.) “Koop learned fashion gospel at the altar of Ikram,” wrote the Post about the famous, avant-Midwest boutique run by Goldman. Says Kristina Schake, a spokeswoman for the first lady, “Ms. Koop’s responsibilities include advising the first lady on her wardrobe and acting on her behalf in arranging for purchases, including considering the best offered price and buying on discount if discounts are available.”

The Posts’ article is as in-depth a profile of a heretofore unknown White House aide as one can reasonably hope for (now-typical Facebook crowdsourcing journalism is applied, as is ‘I sat next to Koop on a plane once’ reportage). Let’s just hope Koop learned enough at Vandy to keep Michelle looking elegant, singular, and controversial.

The Androgynous Trend Continues

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With boys dressing like girls and girls dressing like boys, there’s no stopping androgyny this fall. Out are the sexed up short skirts and sky-high stilettos of last fall, in are unisex and gender-bending silhouettes, including tranny-friendly styles. Not only did Givenchy’s Ricardo Tisci cast a transgender muse as lead model for the brand’s FW10 campaign, Acne has now teamed with Candy (fashion’s first transgender and transsexual-themed magazine) to create a line of tailored shirts specifically for cross-dressers. “The Swedish label and the publication’s editor, Luis Venegas, have together designed a capsule collection of three androgynous shirts, made in both silk crepe and Italian denim. The styles are available in two washes – stonewashed and bleached,” says Vogue UK of the shirts, which are named after Dynasty stars. Choose from Alexis, Sammy Jo, and Krystle.

The trend is affecting model casting for NY Fashion Week’s upcoming SS11 shows, too. One of the trends casting agents are predicting for this upcoming season is “a somewhat androgynous girl, with linear proportions and striking features; maybe some freckles,” writes Cathy Horyn. Gone are the days of “the militias of blank-faced models.” Expect to see pale-faced mannequins whose features’ lack of overt gender alliance may incite a few double-takes.