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Category Archives: fashion
Go behind-the-scenes on an original editorial…
Images coming soon to Smoke & Mirrors.
Photos by Ashton Do / Styling by Marcus Holmlund / Video by Jeff Smith
The Blonds are known for combining couture-level embellishment with Bob Mackie kitsch. The duo’s Swarovski-covered corsets have become signatures for many a pop star (Rihanna, Katy Perry, to name a few).
Designers Phillipe and David Blond’s latest creation was a commission for superstar Beyoncé’s latest world tour, The Mrs. Carter Show, and although the set list provides no new material (sad face), she’s retired her vintage Thierry Mugler for a provocative new number by the pair that’s making news the world over. Yeah, we’re talking about that crazy sparkly boob corset. We chat with the designers about the shocking look, their inspiration behind it, and working for Queen Bey.
MH: Who was the first star to wear one of your design?
Beyoncé was actually the first star to wear one of our pieces. It’s interesting because we were so inspired by what her mother, Miss Tina Knowles, was doing with Destiny’s Child before we ever started The Blonds. The looks were so fresh because they were one part Motown girl group, with a bit of the Golden Age of Hollywood, and a little downtown twist, fused together… it made a huge impact on us. We would always watch out for the girls on MTV knowing that they would be wearing something glamorous, individual and always amazing! We certainly share her love for the sparkle and music combo! It’s one of the main reasons we do what we do.
Tell me how you came up with Beyoncé’s design. Was this one of many?
Although this theme is a reoccurring theme within all of our collections, it was a collaboration. We proposed several different options and this was the one that won.
What is the piece made of and how long did it take to create?
To start, Phillipe hand painted the suit on Beyonce to achieve the correct shading. The piece was then hand embroidered with approximately 30,000 Swarovski crystals that took over 600 hours to apply. It was a close collaboration with Beyonce, Tina Knowles and her stylist, Ty Hunter, to finish what would become one of the most glamorous and provocative looks she’s ever worn.
Hailing from Ghana, designer Kwame Richard Braqo first landed stateside to attend Parsons The New School for Design at the ripe age of 18. He honed his skills in womenswear before graduating in 2009. He unexpectedly found his niche in accessories when he entered his thesis collection on a whim into a design competition underwritten by Cesare Paciotti.
“That year, I had won the accessories designer [of the year] award and the accessories collection kind of just took off,” explained Braqo, who later had to change his namesake line’s name to Richard Braqo due to copyright issues. “The win led to a collaboration with [Cesare] Paciotti as a sort of capsule of five or six shoes, and [they] ended up selling the collection to Barneys New York and Saks Fifth Avenue.”
Working for Helmut Lang and later Acne once in London, Braqo got his footing in production firsthand, finding that commuting from the U.K. to Italian factories was a much easier feat than traveling overseas from America month-to-month.
Last July, he debuted his very own shoe collection and gained the attention of the British Fashion Council, who subsequently approached him to show during London Fashion Week at the Somerset House both for Spring and Fall of this year. “The response was overwhelmingly positive with both press and buyers,” he noted. “Leading to accounts at Wolf and Badger in London, Mahani in Dubai, and Ssense.”
Retailing from 560 to 1,000 Pounds, Braqo’s collection sources the finest skins and artisan craftsmanship from Italy. He recounts his experience collaborating with Paciotti as the thing that “taught me how to liaise and really work alongside [such] artisans and grasp their craft and understand the whole culture.” Braqo’s heels are made exclusively in Bologna and create what he calls an “illusion of being too high” at five or more inches, using specially developed hidden platforms for comfort.
Now in its third season, the Richard Braqo collection is for customers with discerning taste. The designer defines his woman as “one who likes refined footwear. She’s somewhat severe and fashion-forward…and a bit feisty as well. It’s really for the girl who knows how to wear stiletto heels.” (Already a fan of the brand is none other than pop provocateur, Rihanna.)
His self-proclaimed obsession with astrology also lends influence. “Being a Gemini, I like to play on dualities, for instance the duality of masculine and feminine, and for my color palette I tend to work with rather dark, deep hues much like the night sky: bordeaux, cobalt, sapphire, emerald, black, and of course, gold-plated hardware. It’s all very adult coloring,” dished Braqo, whose next move will be collaborating with ready-to-wear designers for his first runway outing.
Beyond proud to be selected as a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Award Guild! This should stand as a message to any PR person who left me at the door, any email left unanswered, any job opportunity “not qualified for”, or shade the industry’s thrown at me thus far… My voice now matters. And this makes the struggle all worth it. Lets hope this changes things once and for all… ‘cuz I ain’t leavin’. Below find this year’s nominations which I had a hand in choosing… (Such an honor) !!!!! Stay tuned to see who wins.
Womenswear Designer of the Year
Marc Jacobs / Alexander Wang /
Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez
Menswear Designer of the Year
Michael Bastian / Thom Browne /
Duckie Brown’s Steven Cox and Daniel Silver
Alexander Wang /
Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez / Phillip Lim
Swarovski Award for Womenswear
Creatures of the Wind’s Shane Gabier and Christopher Peters /
Cushnie et Ochs’ Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs /
Suno’s Erin Beatty and Max Osterweis
Swarovski Award for Menswear
Public School’s Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne /
Tim Coppens / Todd Snyder
Swarovski Award for Accessories
Irene Neuwirth / Jennifer Meyer / Pamela Love
Designers Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen were on hand this past New York Fashion Week to unveil their latest Elizabeth and James offering atop Chelsea’s Hotel Americano.
You could tell how much the line–which originally consisted primarily of flowy party tops and boyfriend blazers–has matured since its inception, just by looking at the presentation’s set-up. The brand no longer offers only clothing but a full-fledged lifestyle, which the Olsens have developed slowly but surely throughout the seasons. Items were displayed throughout two rooms: accessories (shoes, sunglasses, jewelry, and for the first time – affordable handbags!) in one room and ready-to-wear in another. If attendee smiles are a reliable indicator, it appears the twins have a hit on their hands for fall.
The ready-to-wear collection was comprised of three main elements: the coat, the jacket, and the sweater. Coats came knee-length, in wool, mohair and faux shearling in a palette of bordeaux, charcoal, black, and hot pink. Jackets were quilted bomber-style, some made of coated cotton, adding a streetwear-edge to an otherwise prim arrangement. Sweaters were pullover and designed with a slight slouch; some featured foil details, and others feather yarns. These looks, paired with surefire hit shoes like black-and-white kitten booties made of shiny patent and red patent penny loafers with an innovative invisible tab, made easily wearable clothes look surprisingly inventive.
In hip-hop, to boast is to breathe—and some fare better than others. The genre’s become so synonymous with braggadocio, it’s practically a no-holds-barred palace of self-inflated “triple beam dreams,” most times so extreme, listeners can never be too sure what, or rather, who to believe. For New York (by way of D.C.) newcomer, Njena Reddd Foxxx, one doesn’t have to listen to deem her top-notch at anything (although it helps)—just look to her credentials. The emcee beat out more than 93% of the competition to be accepted into America’s most revered design institution, The Cooper Union, only a few years before taking a chance with rap. “It had to be luck… but it also had to be talent,” she claims. “I worked my ass off. I’ve always been one to give my all no matter what I’m doing at the time. And now, I’m honing my skills as a rapper.”
Her debut came as a feature on last year’s voguing-tinged, web-cum-fashion runway hit, “Ima Read” with Zebra Katz (released under Diplo’s Mad Decent label). Surprisingly, it was her first time rapping. Now, she’s upping the ante and taking the art form as seriously as she did her college admissions. “‘Ima Read’ was really just the beginning of the beginning for me. I didn’t take it seriously at all when we were doing it. But when it finally came out, I saw people’s reaction and knew I had to do this for real, for real. I mean, it’s kind of like, how couldn’t I?”
Song of the Day, Pt. I: “Dominos” – Njena Reddd Foxxx
I speak with Interview”s ‘one to watch in 2013′ and “Jill of all trades,” about her menacing sound, artistic upbringing, future plans, and why those three D’s and three X’s are more than just a misspelling.
[Click to read my full story on Interview here.]
photos by van sarki
styling, article, & bts pics (below) by marcus holmlund
Song of the Day, Pt.II: “Silly Bitch” – Njena Reddd Foxxx
For a constant stream of past and present inspiration:
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It’s the closest you’ll get to ‘outfit posts’ (ha)
What do K-Pop, gummy bears and tambourines have in common? Well, they were all essential components to last night’s madness at Jeremy Scott’s Fall/Winter 2013 after-party. Noted for throwing a hell of a bash each season, Scott’s usual suspects of downtown club kids and freak show contestants donning his duds, descended upon Le Bain’s sweatier-than-thou dancefloor to toast his latest collection. Past seasons’ parties have boasted surprise performances from the likes of A$AP Rocky (Spring/Summer 2013), cameos from designer peers like Alexander Wang, and of course, memorably insane outfits.
“Inspired” by Rob Roskopp’s skater graphics, which sort of look like angry Spongebob Squarepants’ on acid crossed with Garbage Pail Kids; this season’s collection truly came to life off the runway and at the party. One guest traipsed around with a tambourine in hand, while another searched the floor for missing gummy bears, which had come un-safety-pinned from his shirt whilst dancing to The Misshapes’ set. Scott, posted beside K-Pop star, CL, of 2NE1, greeted friends, Natalia Kills, Kat Graham, Leigh Lezark, among others, while appeasing his fans and followers with the occasional Instagram pic. The party climaxed when 2NE1’s hit, “I Love You”, blasted through the fog and CL took to her feet to show off her moves. DJ’s Frankie Sharp, dressed in a totem-print Scott x Adidas Originals tracksuit, and Mazurbate in his signature cornrows, pleased partygoers with powerhouse sets of indie and pop remixes until the wee hours. Notably absent were Big Sean and Waka Flocka Flame, two of Scott’s hip-hop devotees, who sat front row at his F/W ’13 show… perhaps it was past their bed times.
Thirty-one-year-old Parsons alum, Brandon Sun, has been one to watch since first showing his namesake collection two short seasons ago, although his buzz began far before. Heading up the fur divisions of Oscar de la Renta and J.Mendel, Sun quickly made a name for himself, which lead to his appointment as designer for legendary mink house, Blackglama. (You’ve probably seen his designs on billboards around the world, touting the famed tagline, “What Becomes A Legend Most” and featuring music icon Janet Jackson, without even knowing it.)
This season, Sun took his fur expertise to new levels, finding inspiration in artist Kazuo Shiraga’s paintings created with his feet. You could see Shiraga’s influence come to fruition in certain garments, which used a thematic intarsia-like print that mimicked the movement in many of the artist’s most famed works. Tones were kept dark, giving an extra dose of edge to shiny silken pieces in plum, hunter green, midnight, black, and an eye-catching brown wood print.
Sun excels when he uses different materials to create one cohesive look: for instance, pairing the softness of draped silk kimonos with distressed leather jackets, or a dyed fur coat broken apart by tightly wound satin obi-belts. His signature fur snood appeared atop several looks, a highlight being a hammered silk v-neck floor-length gown. Overall, the twenty-look collection proved worthy of Sun’s acclaim, and although not as experimental as it could have been, it provides breadth to progress his aesthetic forward.
View more Brandon Sun on Smoke & Mirrors here.
photos courtesy of mercedes benz fashion week
One of my favorite illustrators (and fellow Parsons peers), Hannah Lee, is back with a new zine based on what she’d give up for those four digit designer shoes. Entitled “Shoes Over Bills”, the 42-page edition of 200, is like one big Destiny’s Child infographic… had Tina not dictated their steez. (Purchase it here)
Alexander McQueen RTW, F/W ’09
(top) image courtesy of the suzanne geiss company
Much has been made of the fashion magazine’s last stand–the dying-off of print, thanks to digital platforms–for some time now. And while it’s been encouraging for print enthusiasts to see sites like Style.com, GILT and Net-a-Porter turn to print once their digital assets succeed, these instances are few and far between.
Count 18-year-old blogger and North Carolina native Willie Greene as one of those rare instances. He’s the man behind one of Tumblr’s most followed fashion blogs, WeTheUrban. And he’s turned it into a magazine–marking the first time a tumblr has ever turned into a serialized print publication.
Greene, along with pal (and my former employer), WeTheUrban cover star, Nicola Formichetti (who has his own Fashion Focus here), toasted the mag during New York Fashion Week at a party atop the new Hotel Americano rooftop. I spoke with the entrepreneurial wunderkind on the eve of his sixth issue’s release (featuring Formichetti posing with legs wide open in a bed of toys on the cover), about growing up blogger.
What made you start your Tumblr, WeTheUrban, in 2009?
In 2009, I had already been a huge internet enthusiast and I had wanted to start a blog of some sort for the longest time. I was 15 at the time and after experimenting with other blogging platforms like Blogger and LiveJournal, my good friend Aly Silverio (of Shop Jawbreaking) finally convinced me to join tumblr. And my life has changed ever since! No other blogging platform, creatively, is on the same level as Tumblr. The real sense of community really drew me.
How did you then turn this platform into a widely-read force?
If you go back and look at the first posts ever on WeTheUrban, you’ll see that there was no clear direction. It wasn’t until a few months of having the blog that I decided to post specifically on fashion. Then it all eventually turned into all of my loves: music, design, art, and fashion. I jumped aboard Tumblr right as it was popping off, so starting early and ahead of the game was a big plus for me. This helped me get placed into Tumblr’s first-ever directory (if you can imagine a Tumblr with no ‘Ask boxes’, directories, or radar… that’s the way it was) which quickly started getting me hundreds of followers a day. After staying consistent with the blog for about a year, I decided I wanted to take a stab at making an online magazine. The first few issues were real learning experiences, but people seemed to really like them. Fast forward to today, we’re now nationally distributed in print, have over 270,000 Tumblr followers, and over 10 million page views since the site’s inception. It’s amazing what you can do when you have a clear vision and are smart at utilizing the internet.
What made you turn your blog into a full-fledged print publication? Why go into print when it’s dying?
No matter how digital my life becomes within the next few years, there is not one person on earth that can convince me that holding a magazine in your hands isn’t a different experience from reading it online. Fashion and magazines to me are tangible arts that should never be limited to the confines of an iPad or computer screen. Secondly, I think a part of me did it as a symbolic way of commenting on the way our insanely fast and often vicious industry works. Maybe I’m doing it just to say that I could? That an 18-year-old black kid from the middle-of-nowhere North Carolina can be one of the youngest Editor-in-Chief’s in history to create a nationally distributed publication. Don’t get me wrong, though… I still realize that it’s business at the end of the day, and I definitely want WeTheUrban to push things forward.
You’re from North Carolina and still live there. What’s the fashion like?
Pretty much just as bad as you could imagine [laughs].
How do you keep your site and magazine afloat, both staff-wise and financially?
This is probably the hardest part of doing all of this. I actually have no clue! [laughs] I still handle all of the postings on the site along with all social media accounts and that’s not including the strenuousness work it takes to actually create and edit a magazine, practically by myself. I do have a Chief Operating Officer (who also regularly contributes to the magazine) who has been a dream in helping bring in sponsors and get the magazine in front of the right eyes. I also just hired a new Executive Editorial Assistant (Jillian Mercado), who is basically both a godsend and a second pair of creative hands that actually lives in New York while I’m still in NC. Right now, we’re all just going with the flow and it seems to be working!
You have a great relationship with Nicola Formichetti, as he is your Issue 6 cover star. Tell me about how this blossomed.
This actually came about in a really genuine way. I had met Nicola about a year before the cover shoot (we shot Issue 6 last April) and to my surprise, he had already been following the blog. One thing about Nicola is that his taste is always ahead of the game – whether it’s fashion or technology, Nicola, by nature, just knows what’s good before the rest. So after chatting with him a few times through Tumblr messages, I finally got up the nerve to ask him if he’d like to be our Issue 6 cover star and he was 100% down and really into the blog, which is still really surreal for me. He ended up letting us get really intimate and shoot inside of his home and ended up giving a beautiful in-depth interview. He’s really one of the most inspiring and down-to-earth people I’ve met in the industry thus far.
Within this short time, what have you learned about the industry and more importantly, about yourself?
I’ve learned that you absolutely have to follow your gut, watch your mouth, and stay humble. About myself? The main thing I’ve learned is–cliché, I know–that with enough hard work, literally anything is possible. Anything.
What’s next for you and WTU?
This year’s going to be really exciting. First thing’s first, I need to finally move to New York. After that, we’ve got a pretty big site re-design and some great events this April.
Congrats to Janet on marrying Wissam… months ago.
I promise I’m not mad I wasn’t invited.
Third time’s a charm.
Find more J on the blog here.
WORLD PREMIERE: “TKO” – Wynter Gordon
(Feat. The Oxymorrons)
The blog’s been M-I-A for a minute, but, that don’t mean I ain’t still on my grind. Peep MY MUSIC VIDEO DEBUT… yes! You read it right… I’ve officially been crowned a ‘video hoe’ by my girl, Wynter Gordon, with a cameo spot in her accompanying ADHD visual for fire-track, “TKO” (off of her upcoming Sanguine EP) beside model Shaun Ross. Check the full clip below to watch me grace your screen as I cross one off my bucket list. Check. Behind-the-Scenes images to come… click images to enlarge.
MH Clothing Credits:
Celine aviator sunglasses, The Row tee & leather leggings, Nine West booties,
Vintage marines silk bomber jacket, Tom Binns gold necklace,
Miscellaneous estate jewelry (rings, watch, bracelets).
Anyone who knows me, knows I reek of Le Labo’s “Santal” fragrance – inside and out… myself (cologne), my home (candle and room spray), my clothes (detergent – yes! they make one!). I contributed a quote to a piece on the made-to-order brand’s burgeoning cult status for Paper. Peep the feature here.
The countdown begins…
Maison Martin Margiela x H&M takes the world over
November 15, 2012
Watch MTV’s “House of Style” documentary on Smoke & Mirrors now!