All photos via Sxfia
All photos via Sxfia
The Asian market is a huge deal when it comes to sales in the fashion industry. Meanwhile, Eastern cultures and traditions have served as inspiration for countless designers’ collections. However, something’s missing.
There’s quite a lot to be seen between New York, London, Milan, and Paris during Fashion Month, while certain fashion shows gain tons of attention when they pop up in other cities. But what about Tokyo?
There’s nothing wrong with any of our other major fashion capitals, but we’ve got to play favorites for a second. Only in Tokyo – or all of Japan for that matter – can you find everything from the sharpest, sleekest minimalism to the brightest and boldest styles of the future to over-the-top Harajuku style and everything in between. In all elements of Japanese culture, precision and perfection are pivotal, whether more outlandish or pared back designs. More importantly, the things that we’ve seen from Tokyo-based designers never follow trends, always representing genuine individuality and artistry, regardless of the aesthetic.
Yes, some of the biggest Paris-based fashion entities have Japanese ties, including Rei Kawakubo / Comme des Garçons, Junya Watanabe, Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, and Kenzo. But over in Tokyo, there’s still labels worth noticing like Atsushi Nakashima, Jun Okamoto, Phenomenon, Yasutoshi Ezumi, Kamishima Chinami, and Nozomi Ishiguro Tambourine, to name a few. Although Style.com made the major move of covering Tokyo Fashion Week during the spring 2013 and fall 2013 seasons, the underrated fashion mecca still hasn’t seemed to have gained the traction it deserves.
Again, various elements of Japanese fashion have contributed to and inspired endless collections and editorials, so it would only make sense that there would be a stronger focus on Tokyo, if not the entire country of Japan. So, what gives? Let’s make this a thing. Let’s make Tokyo happen!
Check out some of our favorite examples of Tokyo-based fashion below
You’ve probably heard the name Bethann Hardison at least once recently. The Brooklyn native first made waves as one of the most successful black models during the 1970s, appearing on countless top-tier runways and magazine covers. Shortly after, she started the Bethann Management Agency, subsequently followed by the Black Girls Coalition, both of which aimed to help diversify the fashion industry. But that was just the beginning.
There’s no denying that race has played and interesting and often difficult role in fashion, as the industry noted for its unique viewpoints and varied ideologies has an unfortunate discriminatory tendency. However, Bethann Hardison has been arguably the most crucial player when it comes to integrating the industry, comparing her activism in one interview to the MTA’s “if you see something, say something policy.” There’s no doubt that Ms. Hardison is saying something.
And the world is finally listening.
Hardison’s biggest push towards diversifying the fashion industry – particularly in terms of modeling – came in 2013, when she teamed up with Naomi Campbell and Iman to launch Balance Diversity and the Diversity Coalition. Sure, most people noticed when the team wrote letters to the major governing fashion bodies in New York, London, Milan, and Paris, naming several major fashion houses that were guilty of the racist act of casting only white models in their presentations. But the statement was more than just some juicy gossip. Instead, it was the wakeup call that the industry finally needed.
Bethann Hardison’s valiant, thoughtful, courageous, and inspirational battle towards changing the immensely disappointing trend of implicit and explicit racism in fashion was honored at the monumental CFDA Awards on Monday, June 2. Receiving the Founder’s Award for her relentless work, the iconic figure finally received the support of the American fashion realm – looking stunning in an embellished Prabal Gurung gown, nonetheless.
Of course, change doesn’t happen over night, a fact that Bethann Hardison has mentioned before. However, we have been seeing some – albeit small – improvements regarding diversity in the fashion industry. While we can only hope for this to progress, we have to note Bethann Hardison’s pivotal role in making one of the greatest changes imaginable.
Thank you Bethann Hardison.
We’ve all got our favorite designers, and there are a few names that are basically ubiquitous. But as much as we love Riccardo Tisci’s Givenchy, Nicolas Ghesquière at Louis Vuitton, and all of the other fashion superstars, there’s an abundance of lesser known talents who deserve some mention.
Take the Pratt Institute’s graduate students, who presented their collections a few weeks ago in hopes of receiving the Liz Claiborne Concept to Product Award and $25,000 from the Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation. The winner, Julia Wollner presented more than just an impressive selection of looks, but also a powerful message that puts her at the forefront of a new generation of skilled designers. Wollner’s inspiration for her collection came from her two-year battle with Bell’s Palsy, a nerve disorder that paralyzes half of the patient’s face. Her experience was most directly reflected through the prints, which channeled facial exercises that Wollner did in physical therapy. With many of said prints done on laminated organza, an extra dose of space-age color and shine was juxtaposed with otherwise minimal white pieces. Meanwhile, other silhouettes were defined by exaggerated, oversized shapes. By enhancing such striking innovation and experimentation with a moving story, it’s no surprise that Wollner’s work won her the grand prize, which she intends to use to further expand her line.
While we anxiously await Julia Wollner’s promising design advances, we can also recognize Ximon Lee, a BA/BFA graduating menswear student at Parsons. Inspired by what he witnessed during a recent trip to Russia, Lee also experimented with materials and textures in the creation of his final thesis collection, “Children of Leningradsky.” Near suburban Moscow, street children are often seen in ill-fitting, heavily layered ensembles in order to survive the brutal winter. Yet Lee’s interpretation was not merely about homelessness, but instead the protective shield surrounding these children, symbolic of strength and power. The young designer deconstructed and re-patterned clothes from the Salvation Army, bonding fabrics and incorporating materials like trash bags and cardboard in his development of new shapes and multilayered ensembles. The end result presented another reflection of a profound topic into unique garments, while Ximon Lee’s work certainly stands out from the often one-note menswear archetypes.
And Ximon Lee isn’t the only one pushing the boundaries. Benji WZW comes from Benji Wong Zhen Wang, who is currently in pursuit of a BA in fashion design from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. In a prestigious school that boasts alumni such as Dries Van Noten, Kris Van Assche, Ann Demeulemeester, Walter Van Beirendonck, Martin Margiela, and other fashion icons, it’s no surprise that Benji WZW has already shown some exceptionally impressive work. And it’s certainly nothing like any other range. Instead of strongly identifiable elements of inspiration, the designer shares austere pieces such as a long shirts and outerwear with optical prints, embellishments like angel wings and micro-flowers, or a provocative vocabulary that consists of words like “love,” “fall,” “fast,” and “fuck.” Sure, a little more explanation would probably help, but it’s hard not to be impressed either way.
The world of fashion has and will always be a beacon of creativity. Although many elements of today’s industry can seem often commercial or commonly commonplace, it’s the inspiration, creativity, and unique vitality that comes from these fresh artists that truly drives this niche. There’s plenty more where that came from in terms of impressive new designers, and we can’t wait to see what’s next for these few and the rest of the young talents out there.
Check out a gallery of work from Julia Wollner, Ximon Lee, and Benji WZW and share your thoughts below!
Sporty chic is on the mind. Stay tuned for where this concept will take us…
Before you reference some of today’s best fashion photographers, before you mention some of the most iconic fashion images, you have to acknowledge Erwin Blumenfeld.
Erwin Blumenfeld was born in Berlin, Germany in 1897. Originally an artist, specifically with sketching, Blumenfeld began his photographic journey when he received his first camera in 1908. Though never formally trained, Blumenfeld developed his inspiration when working at women’s department stores after moving to Amsterdam. He eventually started a series of predominantly nude photos of his female clientele, created in the quirkiest, most unique style of the time. Said images proved influential enough to have his first published picture featured in French magazine Photographie, and shortly after, photographer Cecil Beaton helped him score a contract with French Vogue. Blumenfeld subsequently moved to Paris, where he stayed until relocating to New York in 1939.
Of Jewish descent, Blumenfeld was sent to Camp Vernet upon his return to France. He stayed in the concentration camp until 1941, when he reunited with his family and fled back to New York. Meanwhile, his experiences with anti-Semitism were reflected in his dadaism-influenced collages, showing his presence as a socio-political commentator and his captivation of another art form.
Drawing inspiration from the solarization darkroom technique used by Man Ray, Erwin Blumenfeld made use of vibrant color in his photos as soon as it became available. He also mixed concepts from classical and modern paintings, while using mirrors, veils, double exposure and sandwich printing in his work to create his one-of-a-kind style. The photographer’s Picasso-like abilities immediately led to his foray into fashion photography, where his influence was most substantially noticeable. Carmel Snow of Harper’s Bazaar immediately put him under contract, leading to countless iconic images for the publication. Meanwhile, he started to work for Vogue, ultimately shooting more covers for the magazine than any other photographer before or since. By 1950, Blumenfeld became the highest-paid photographer in the world.
Once seeing Erwin Blumenfeld’s photographs, you’d naturally have an “aha” moment, recognizing the iconic shots. Who could forget socially relevant works like 1933’s “Hitler,” featuring a blood-stained skull with Adolf’s features, or “Do Your Part for the Red Cross,” the March 1945 American Vogue cover that captivated the nation? Another unforgettable Vogue shot, January 1950’s “Doe Eye” created what was referred to as a “visual haiku.” “Lisa Fonssagrives on the Eiffel Tower” showed an adequate representation of Blumenfeld’s daring creativity early in his career, as well.
Although the world lost a true genius when he passed away in 1969, Erwin Blumenfeld’s inspirational life and work could never be forgotten. His photographic mastery is the stuff of legends, and his influence still continues to this day.
From October 15, 2013 until January 26, 2014, Erwin Blumenfeld’s work was showcased through the exhibit, “Erwin Blumenfeld (1897-1969): Photographs, Drawings and Photomontages” at Paris’ Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume. All photos in this article via the exhibition Catalogue
Blumenfeld’s work under the same exhibition can currently be seen at the Multimedia Art Museum in Moscow.
With Paris Fashion Week right around the corner, the City of Lights is on plenty of people’s minds. Sure, we’re looking forward to Fashion Month’s grand finale, including Nicolas Ghesquière’s comeback with his first collection for Louis Vuitton, the always-anticipated work by Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy and more stunning presentations from some of the world’s elite design experts. But there’s much more to be seen in this iconic city than just a few runway shows. Whether you’re a front row regular, a newbie fighting to make it into the standing section or simply someone taking in the abundant beauty, here’s your guide to navigating Paris.
Getting There and Getting Around:
If you’ve been at it since New York Fashion Week, your bags are probably already packed. If not, pack accordingly. While this doesn’t mean striped crew-neck sweaters and berets (please, don’t), plenty of versatile black garments, stylish scarves, sharp outerwear and fresh footwear will serve as a solid base to the “Parisian chic” sensibility. Some smart tips would be to bring a pickpocket-proof bag, as theft is an unfortunate possibility, and of course, bring a few standout statement pieces to get in on the Fashion Week festivities.
Transportation is definitely an essential for Paris Fashion Week, and while some people are lucky enough to have a driver cart them around to all of the shows, many will have to rely on the cities resources to get from A to B (and everywhere in between). Boasting one of the best transportation systems in the world, the RATP’s Metro, RER, bus and tram lines will surely get you wherever you need to go, so don’t hesitate to pick up a Navigo or carnet. If you do choose the taxi route…don’t. Trying to get a cab is borderline torturous, wasting precious time and potentially missing shows. Instead, set aside some extra euros for the Uber app, which seems more efficient in Paris than many other cities. And if all else fails, the city is small enough to make walking a somewhat reasonable option. If you have the time, you’ll definitely be treated by the ubiquitous beauty at every corner along the way.
For any last-minute hotel plans, it’s always best to avoid the wild tourist traps. Why not treat yourself and go the luxury route? Easily one of the most elite would be Hôtel Costes, situated right on the high-end Rue Saint Honoré in Paris’ 1er arrondissement. The lavish lodging features a restaurant, bar, florist, perfume boutique and more. For something a little more “off the beaten path,” check out Hôtel Amour, the epitome of “Parisian cool.” A diamond in the rough, located in the stereotypically seedy Pigalle neighborhood, this spot features a delicious restaurant on a picturesque terrace and painfully chic chambres.
Sightseeing and Museums:
Not only is it the fashion capital of the world, but Paris is also the home to some of the world’s best artwork. While museums like the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay and the Centre Pompidou earned their fame for a reason, it never hurts to switch it up a bit. Tucked away in Montmartre is the impressive Espace Dali, showing several of Salvador Dali’s sketches and sculptures. The Palais de Tokyo in the 16e arrondissement is a unique and provocative modern art museum where one can expect to see the unexpected, too. If the Jardin des Tuileries doesn’t impress you, head over to the far corner of the gardens and check out the Musée de l’Orangerie, which holds Monet’s iconic water lilies alongside other incomprehensibly fantastic art.
And while the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe are all must-see landmarks, you won’t have trouble finding them during a casual stroll, and there’s really no need to climb them. Instead, opt for the Grande Arche of La Défense, the centerpiece of the ultra-modern commerce district just to the west of the city limits. The Catacombes de Paris are also an astonishing experience, while you can keep up your grim pleasures with a visit to Père Lachaise, the enormous cemetery that hosts Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf and more. If it’s a church you seek, there’s no shortage of those, either. Right by Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle trumps its more famous neighbor, noted by mind-boggling, kaleidoscopic stained glass. Overall, Paris is the type of city where you can literally stumble upon beauty and inspiration at any second, making it exponentially easier to find another captivating landmark or exhibition.
Let’s not forget about French cuisine. You could walk into any brasserie and get a perfectly done croque monsieur (or madame), satisfy your post-night-out cravings with a 4am crêpe or indulge in macarons so pretty you almost don’t want to eat them…almost. But if we absolutely have to talk about a few standout places, then Paris has definitely got those, too.
Les Deux Abeilles is one option, located in the 7e right near the Eiffel Tower, while Restaurant le Châteaubriand and its neighbor/sibling spot, Le Dauphin are also great bets. If you choose to stop by the Palais de Tokyo, why not grab a bite to eat at the trendy, Kris Van Assche-endorsed Monsieur Bleu? Le Schmuck is yet another fantastic restaurant, and it’s nothing like its name suggests; high-quality dishes and superb ambience confirm this place’s undeniable 6e arrondissement sophistication. But hey, who says these are all the best Paris has to offer? Like previously mentioned, this town is home to some of the best cuisine on the planet, which is noticeable just about everywhere.
Not everyone likes to do their meals big, and not everyone wants to go out on the town for a drink. For that, there are great options for low-key boissons and conversations with friends. Despite its historical prevalence and reputation as a Parisian hotspot, Les Deux Magots is still a perfect place to grab arguably the best coffee in the entire city. For something a little out of the ordinary, Toraya is one of the oldest Japanese patisseries. Definitely try their to-die-for green tea hot chocolate. For an immaculate wine selection in an intimate setting, head straight to La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels, which also has amazing champagne and exceptional tapas.
It’s no New York or Barcelona, but Paris likes to party. And during Fashion Week, that’s exponentially more noticeable. While the City of Lights has the tendency to lean on the more selective side, there’s no shortage of hotspots. The go-to venues for the fashion crowd tend to be Le Montana, Le Carmen, Le Baron and of course, Silencio. Meanwhile, Derrière and Le Tango are a couple underrated favorites.
Shopping, Shopping, Shopping:
Okay, where does one even begin when it comes to Paris’ shopping? This might as well be a guide of its own, as the fashion capital of the world is, by default, the shopping capital of the world. Let’s break it down piece by piece, focusing a bit on some of the best neighborhoods to get your own personal slice of Parisian chic.
Passy (Metro: Passy)
Start off in the 16e arrondissement, the peaceful, upscale quarter of Paris that embodies all of the dreams you’ve had of picturesque streets and authentic French culture. Of course, such a sophisticated area is bound to have some great shopping finds. Passy is a go-to neighborhood, featuring any major chain retailer you could imagine next to some of the most astonishing boutiques. While vintage isn’t Passy’s strong point, any second-time-around pieces you might find would only be the highest quality Chanel, Dior, Lanvin or other A-list Parisian labels. A postcard glimpse of the Eiffel Tower in between stores doesn’t quite hurt, either.
George V-Montaigne (Metro: George V; Alma-Marceau)
If Passy’s luxury finds don’t do the trick, George V and parallel Avenue Montaigne aren’t too far away. With the same beautiful scenery, old-fashioned buildings and fairytale-like cobblestone streets, this little area is home to some of Paris’ top maisons. For goods from the likes of Jean Paul Gaultier, Valentino, Chloé and many, many more, this area will definitely have what you seek.
Champs Élysées (Metro: Champs Élysées-Clemenceau; Franklin D. Roosevelt; George V; Charles de Gaulle-Étoile)
Just behind the quaint George V-Montaigne area is the hyper-famous Champs Élysées. It’s substantially less secluded than the former; you’ll be navigating through immense crowds of tourists along this celebrated street, which is finalized by the Arc de Triomphe in all its grandeur. However, there’s something enticing about the juxtaposition of commercial labels like H&M and Zara with luxury giants like Louis Vuitton. Whether or not you’ll find an adequate piece of Paris fashion is debatable, but you can’t leave Paris without stopping by the Champs Élysées.
Saint-Honoré, Vendôme, Madeleine and more (Metro: Concorde; Tuileries; Madeleine)
The entirety of the 1er arrondissement is like shopping heaven, set in possibly the most dreamlike area imaginable. Sure, it’s still a little touristy, as the Louvre and the Musée de l’Orangerie are both right down the street. Yet the unlimited supply of acclaimed retailers is unbeatable. Rue Saint-Honoré – which holds Balenciaga, Givenchy, Sandro, Saint Laurent, Hôtel Costes, Colette and countless other beautiful boutiques – runs directly into Place Vendôme, the drop-dead-gorgeous square that’s lined with hotels, restaurants and jewelers. The Marché Saint-Honoré offers a selection of spectacular eateries, too, all perfect for a quick break during what could easily be an all-day affair. Walk just a bit further, and you’ll be in the Madeleine neighborhood, which makes it seem as if shopping heaven will never end.
Haussmann (Metro: Opéra; Chaussée d’Antin-La Fayette; Auber; Havre-Caumartin)
And who says it has to end? Though the Grands Magasins on Boulevard Haussmann are virtually surrounded by Metro stations, you could easily walk from Madeleine after embarking on the previously suggested shopping excursion. If you crave the convenience of a department store, Haussmann is all about that, with Galeries Lafayette and Printemps right next to each other. And department store is putting it lightly, as both shops are like nothing you could ever imagine. Each one features separate stores of equal inventory for men, as well as beauty products, ready-to-wear, shoes, handbags, jewelry and more under one roof. And that’s not all. Lafayette Gourmet serves as a grocery store of sorts, only with the highest quality products around. Meanwhile, Brasserie Printemps next door offers a selection for more of a sit-down meal, all under an incredible stained-glass dome. Oh, Galeries Lafayette has one of those beautiful domes, too, don’t worry. Shoppers can even stop by the salon at the top of Printemps if they’d like to get pampered in between trying on all of those international designer outfits, and to top it all off, both retailers offer a 12% tax refund to foreigners. Yes, it’s a little overwhelming, and breaking down on the floor and crying tears of joy is a possibility.
Le Marais (Metro: Saint-Paul, Hôtel de Ville; Filles du Calvaire)
A vibrant neighborhood with even more history and culture, Le Marais spans between both the 3e and 4e arrondissements. Sure, there are some high-end designer boutiques, but it’s the world-renowned vintage shops and jaw-dropping art galleries that really set this area apart from the rest. Verging on the hipster side, Le Marais is quickly reinventing a modern idea of Parisian cool, with a lively youth culture and eclectic sense of style. You can find one-of-a-kind stores like the Broken Arm or Les Vignoles for those items that will have your friends back home feeling insanely jealous, while the expressive, fun neighborhood is home to plenty of places made cool simply by their appearances. A historically Jewish neighborhood, Le Marais is one of the very few places in Paris that you’ll find things open on a Sunday, which will definitely come in handy for your day-off shopping, dining or art-hunting desires.
Saint-Germain-des-Près (Metro: Saint-Germain-des-Près; Rue du Bac; Sèvres-Babylone)
It doesn’t get more “Parisian chic” than this. The quaint neighborhood that embodies Rive Gauche style is home to even more high-end designer boutiques, including Karl Lagerfeld, Alexis Mabille, Sonia Rykiel and just about any others you can think of. Though not as off-the-beaten-path as some of the side streets in Le Marais, Saint Germain is far more peaceful than many other overcrowded Parisian shopping districts. Le Bon Marché is a fantastic alternative to the department stores on Boulevard Haussmann, featuring an incredible inventory in a less chaotic environment. With tons of authentic French cuisine and cultured, educated inhabitants, it’s not hard to feel at home when finding your new favorite outfit.
Okay, so maybe it will be a little hard to find time for even half of these things during the rush of Paris Fashion Week. But there’s still so much more to mention in this incredible city, as beauty, art, fashion and inspiration all pop up just about everywhere. Keep these things in mind during your next visit to the City of Lights, whether you’re attending fashion shows or simply wandering around. Enjoy!
All photos in this article by Scott Shapiro
It was recently announced that fashion critic Cathy Horyn will be leaving her position at The New York Times. Horyn plans to spend more time with her partner, Art Ortenberg, who is currently struggling with health issues. Since 1999, Cathy has been the head fashion critic at the Times (and arguably in the fashion industry as a whole), and she leaves behind an incredible 15-year legacy.
Few writers have come close to Cathy Horyn’s bold commentary, and even fewer could so much as dream of doing so with the same elegant, poised language. Her writing style is witty and intelligent, while it works to engage and inform readers, whether avid followers of fashion or not. Sure, we can remember the controversy surrounding her comments towards the likes of Hedi Slimane, Oscar de la Renta, Alexander Wang and Lady Gaga. But Cathy’s deep and comprehensive knowledge of the fashion industry forms phrases that aren’t catty, rather the words that we all wish we could so eloquently express. Fashion should be at the pinnacle of sophistication, and Cathy Horyn has long been the first to point out who reaches that standard and who hasn’t quite achieved his or her potential.
But Horyn is more than just a critic, presenting countless examples of excellent reportage through her over 1,100 pieces for The New York Times. During a time in which journalism is regarded as a dying field, Cathy has been the leader of a select group who has maintained the integrity and professionalism of the hallowed practice. Outside of fashion, the writer has covered compelling topics such as the famous pink suit worn by Jackie Kennedy on the day of her husband’s assassination. Just as intellectual and thought-provoking as any other article she’s penned, the piece further proved Cathy’s impressive expertise.
We sincerely hope for the best for both Horyn and her partner, Art Ortenberg, and we can’t wait to read her upcoming book on how The New York Times has covered fashion from the 1850s to the beginning of the 21st century. Although we are extremely saddened about having to face the absence of Cathy Horyn’s unique, essential voice, we are infinitely grateful for the work she has provided and how it has contributed to the overall fashion industry.
Feature image via The New York Times
After an amazing experience in Paris, our time has come to a close. Of course, leaving such a beautiful, historical, inspirational and iconic city is heartbreaking, but Des Phosphènes wouldn’t be half as developed as it’s become if this incredible experience hadn’t taken place.
On a professional level, the inevitable involvement in the world’s most elite fashion industry has opened several doors. The initial introduction to the beautiful chaos that is Paris Fashion Week provided the knowledge and motivation that allowed our firsthand coverage of the fall 2014 menswear shows. Meanwhile, the stunning scenery that makes up every inch of the City of Lights helped create the Paris Editorial Series, which consisted of several projects that became defining elements of this site. Though we didn’t necessarily skyrocket to the top of the fashion industry, thanks to Paris, there has been more progress than ever before.
Never before have I fallen so deeply in love with a city, and I’m extremely thankful for all that Paris has given me. Although I’ve already commented on how much Paris has touched me, nothing could ever adequately explain how magical this city truly is. I can’t wait for the next opportunity to return to this dreamlike experience.
Paris, je t’aime et à bientôt!
All photos in this article by Scott Shapiro
Things began to change in Paris during the late 10th century. As many inhabitants began to move to the Right Bank, mass cemeteries in the city centers started to pollute the region. Eventually, due to famine, plague, war, and other factors, the graves became excessively overcrowded. As a result, city officials exhumed and relocated the bodies of the dead, stacking skulls upon femurs with eery precision in a long series of tunnels in the Left Bank, now known as The Catacombs.
Today, visitors can venture to Paris’ Denfert Rochereau neighborhood and explore the maze of the mort on their own. Dark and grim, The Catacombs present a spooky look into Paris’ past, while there’s an undeniably enticing element that comes with these expansive tombs.
All photos by Scott Shapiro