Nominated by a panel in 2005 that included Tim Blanks and Alexander McQueen as one of the ‘most talented fashion and accessory designers to emerge recently onto the global stage’, Jasmin Shokrian is, unsurprisingly, busy.
The ’fashion innovator’ and designer has granted me a scant half hour in her studio - and even then I am grateful she has managed to fit me in to her busy schedule. She gives me a brusque, no-nonsense description of what’s on her mind in regards to both her eponymous main line and her ready-to-wear line, Draft No. 17, until I, in a fit of Frontline-worthy journalistic incompetence, forget that my recorder hasn’t been on and ask her to repeat a few sentences. Graciously trying to remember what she said the first time, her mind is occupied and she loses some vivacity, but fair enough - this is a woman whose intellectual manner is too expressive to be repeated like a machine.
A machine certainly couldn’t design like Shokrian, who expertly creates pared-back minimalist garments that then allow her more sculptural talents to shine through in the details. This deftness with design comes from her schooling in fine arts, a background which also means she considers garments in situ, as pieces of clothing that inhabit specific spaces. “I get very interested in positive and negative space,” says Shokrian. “One thing I really like the idea of… [is] a person within an image: the shape of the clothing within a photograph or within a space. I [imagine] this idea of how that shape would look - and then I aspire to achieve that.”
There’s no doubt that the highly analytical, intellectual and creative Shokrian would have succeeded had she chosen to focus on any of the other creative pursuits that, throughout the years, had their doors open to her, namely film or sculpture. She focused on fashion, though, because “I think I was always searching for a media that would encapsulate everything…. Fashion as a media is pretty interesting because you’re dealing with movement, you’re dealing with narrative, you’re dealing with composition and you’re dealing with sculpting of the form. It’s all encompassing.”
However, this doesn’t mean she’s forgotten her roots: she often presents her ideas through film, and her latest film, a moving, contemporary short focusing on Draft No. 17 was included in Style.com’s Video Fashion Week. I ask her what she thinks of Video Fashion Week. “It [makes] lots of sense,” she says. “I mean I’m always thinking about things in a different way… And actually for me, when I started Draft, [video] is how I wanted to show it.
“I mean this,” she gestures towards the collection, hung on the rack and organized in an orderly, precise manner, “could definitely be shown on the runway, but it needs to be seen in motion. And maybe it will be, but [at the moment] I’m just really excited about showing the collection in a different way than I thought.”
Lover release a capsule collection called White Magick
Lover’s aesthetic has long been tied in with lace, so it comes as no surprise that designers Nic Briand and Susien Chong have decided to release a capsule collection based on what has become their signature fabric.
Exploring some of lace’s underappreciated qualities - “it can be evil and naughty and kinda cheeky and be really virginal and really pure,” said Chong of the duo’s fascination with lace - the delicate collection was launched on Tuesday night with a casual, low-key party at the label’s Strand Arcade store, the pieces hung bewitchingly on display, almost daring us not to fall under their spell. I caught up with Susien to find out more.
So tell me about the collection White Magick.
So pretty much this is pieces from our archives and they’ve basically either been refitted or just revamped in some way to bring them into a modern context and also basically be put together as a capsule for White Magick.
Can you talk me through some of the changes?
We lengthened some things and we slightly brought up to date some of the fits. Because they’re from the archives too, a lot of the pieces are from our earlier collections, where we hadn’t quite refined our fit, so we kind of basically buffed and polished some of our older styles up.
What was it like going through the archives?
Oh it was great fun! I mean there’s actually a lot we’ve done over the last ten years and twenty seasons now that we could keep drawing from but we kept to the looks that we felt were the most influential of their time, and also that we keep getting consistent requests from customers about.
Do you regularly go through the archives?
No actually, we don’t. Sometimes we’ll remember stuff that was really good and that we think we should do again or that maybe, you know, like the first time round they didn’t get enough airplay and we feel that there’s real value in them, so occasionally we’ll be like, ‘Oh, remember this style?’. But we never actually consciously go through things and go ‘Oh we should do that again’. And I think this is what White Magick is about, consciously going through and finding styles we thought were really fun and adding more life into them.
Did you feel, especially going through some of your older pieces, that you’ve really grown as designers? Were there any pieces where you were like, ‘Oh gosh, I can’t believe we did that’?
I think we’re really proud of these pieces and that’s why we selected them. There are some pieces we decided to leave in the archives…
There’s a reason they’re not out?
Yeah. But I think [with the pieces in the White Magick collection], we’re really proud of them and we feel like they all have the essence and spirit of Lover in them and for that reason, that’s why they’ve been selected for White Magick.
Interview: Clare Vivier is trés chic in L.A.
In the raggedly bohemian, character-filled suburb of Silver Lake in Los Angeles, the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Micheltorena stands out for the modern, light-filled studio standing on it. Inside, designer Clare Vivier is discussing plans to introduce travel luggage to her eponymous leather goods line.
“It can be done,” says the soft-spoken Vivier with conviction, empathetic emphasis on the can. “You can make a really pretty weekender/overnighter on wheels.”
It’s the tone of someone utterly confident in reaching their goal - all that’s left are the practicalities. But Vivier is not being cocky - her unpretentious, down-to-earth nature is the antithesis of this. Rather, her steely self-assuredness comes from experience: after all, her now cult-status luxury leather goods label was only born when the former French television journalist figured out how to turn her vision of a line of simple, practical and yet stylish laptop bags into reality.
It’s a reality that has since blossomed: the team have since moved studios and the same location will turn into a store filled with Vivier’s made-in-L.A. buttery leather goods, each characterised by their bright colour accents and simple, chic silhouettes. She’s also planning to expand into men’s accessories soon, while adding new twists to old favourite - the best-selling Tropezienne tote in cherry pink, for example. Quelle élégance, non?
And the travel goods? They’re not reality yet, and with the number of projects in line for the company, it might be a while until they are. But will they be reality? Given Vivier’s track record, it would be almost foolish not to think so.
What do you like about L.A.?
I love the weather and I love that there’s a big creative community around, people doing creative things and anything is possible is here. Like any ideas that you have, you can make them happen here, I don’t know why.
So have there been any ideas you’ve made happen? Obviously this…
How did it start?
It started when I was making my own bags and then I looked around for factories - and that’s another thing about Los Angeles, there’s a lot of production here. I didn’t know anyone in the business so I just had to ask around.
So I found production and then I started to design and thinking I could design anything I wanted now that other people were sewing my bags. But then I discovered production in the US, it’s very expensive. So you have to work within the confines of that price structure. Like, you’re not going to… I realized that my first bag I made was very complicated and it turned out to be a very expensive bag and then I didn’t have a name yet so I couldn’t really justify charging a lot. Stores weren’t interested in a bag line that was unknown and charging 600 dollars for a bag and competing with the big brands.
What was the first bag like?
It was a work bag. It was a laptop bag but it just had canvas and leather and a lot of pockets and piping and structure to it. It was complicated to make.
Okay. But do you think it’s worked in your favour? Because part of what’s appealing about your line is that it is simple.
Yeah, it definitely has worked in my favour. I had to just make it work. I remember one day I had some leather, the Trop leather, and I thought, I want to do something with this leather, how can I make it work?
So I put it on the ground to see the way it formed and I folded it into a bag and I thought, I could do something really simple. And I made these leather strips, and even mocked up a handle and just stared at it for a while and then I placed some hardware, like where the hardware was going to be, and just stared at it, seeing if I could get a visual of what it was going to look like and I thought, that’s good.
What piece would you say represents you the most?
Oh gosh, I don’t even know. I would say the Trop but I don’t even carry the Trop much anymore.
…I can’t really name one. There’s the canvas tote I’ve been carrying lately… I think they all do in a way because they’re all simple and classic and what I like to think of as very chic.
Are there are any designers that you like, like your favourite labels or artists?
Hmmm. A lot of the Frenchies, Isabel Marant and, um, Céline I like. A.P.C. I love; I don’t wear many of their clothes but I love the aesthetic.
I love A.P.C. They don’t quite do sizes that fit me though…
No. I mean you’re quite small… And I like Steven Alan.
I know you did a collaboration with them, what’s been your favourite collaboration?
Hmm. Probably with Steven Alan, it was the easiest.
And right now we’re doing a collection with Wren, with Melissa Coker and her line, that’s always very easy and fun to do.
Are you excited about where the store is going? When you first started, did you ever think it would be like this?
No. I hope it would. We wanted it to be. And I want it to keep growing, I don’t take anything for granted, I take it day by day because I know the fashion business is so fickle and you just have to keep going and keep making yourself relevant and keep making designs that people want to carry and keep it interesting… it’s a lot of work.
But you love it?
Interview: Melissa Coker of Wren talks colour and Minnetonka memories
I was lucky enough to be invited to check out the Wren studio when I was in L.A.; situated in a nondescript neighbourhood, its factory-like exterior showed nothing of the riot of colour and brightness that was inside. Unfortunately the woman behind the brand, Melissa Coker, was in New York while I visited (doing bigger and better things - video to come in another post, love it!) but I still managed to ask her a couple of things about those awesome Minnetonkas I spotted in her studio:
Minnetonkas! Can you tell me what your inspiration was for the Minnetonka collection?
I grew up Lake Forest, Illinois, where we spent summers in Wisconsin. The highlight of each trip was a brand new pair of Minnetonka Moccasins. These prized shoes would be worn into the ground year in and year out, gleefully replaced at the start of the next summer.
How did the collaboration came about?
As I began working on the fall 2012 line, still in my Minnetonkas after all these years, I started thinking what a perfect pairing this could be and what a great fit it would be, not only for Wren, but also for myself. That sense of history and authenticity would make for a great collaboration.
The Minnetonkas are indeed very cool. Your line is known for colourful prints (which came up beautifully in the photos!). What attracts you about print, and colour?
The whole line usually is born from a favorite print or two. It’s my key for the design process. I know I’ve found something special when I see a print that gives me a giddy & excited feeling.
Have you ever had an all-time favorite print and why?
My favorite print was a floral that looked like it had been hand painted & had a very brushstroke-y look. It also has a vintage feel which I love.
Zimmermann at MBFWA / backstage
To see the collection on the catwalk, check out Xiaohan Shen’s vid of the Zimmermann show on Xssat.
Manning Cartell part 1: stylist Peter Simon Phillips talks hardcore Latina b*tches
What were you thinking when you styled the collection?
I was… thinking about who the girl was from the collection.
Okay, so who was the girl?
She was inspired by Frida Kahlo, so we kind of made a bit of a hardcore Latina bitch… can I say that? Just a strong type of woman.
A hardcore Latina… I don’t think I’ve ever met one of those.
You haven’t? Well you’ve just met 21 of them.
Meet meat meet Vera from VeraMeat
I met Vera Balyura outside Hemingway & Pickett, a store in LA’s Silver Lake district that is run, funnily enough, by an Australian (owner Toby Burke Hemingway is from Melbourne). The store was hosting a trunk show for her label VeraMeat, and the slender, hauntingly beautiful designer was at the door personally to greet guests with her gorgeous companion Fred (a girl, by the way).
Fascinated by her quirky jewellery, I nabbed her for a few quick questions. She was lovely, and I cannot say enough how much I’ve fallen in love with her pieces. I mean c’mon guys - a dinosaur eating fried chicken? ‘Sif not cool.
So you’re a jewellery designer. How did you start?
I started off making things for myself. I was modelling at the time, and I’ve always made stuff with my grandfather, like miniatures and stuff so I just wanted to just make things for myself that I kind of wanted to wear. And then a stylist saw some of my stuff and she was like, ‘Oh’, you know, ‘I’d love to feature this’. And she worked with Nylon a lot and so she said ‘You really need to make a line,’ and so I did, and I sent it to her and they ended up featuring me so it was really great.
It’s just something I enjoy doing for myself and I kind of then got into the swing and it grew and grew and grew and now I have a store in Manhattan and other stores like this (Hemingway and Pickett) carry my stuff.
Are you originally from New York?
Yeah. Well I was born in Europe but I grew up in New York. I’ve lived there for over ten years, I went to school there and everything but yeah, I come to LA a lot and my sister lives here and I need excuses to come here.
Yeah? Why do you like LA?
I like the weather the most.
Funny, that’s what most people say about Australia.
It’s so good. I’ve actually been to Sydney and I love it, I like the ibises and the bats in the park, it’s very inspiring. Fred looks like a little bat so…
Is Fred your only pet?
She is, I used to have a little bluebird with a red belly, it was really interesting and I used to just let it fly around and I had the window open and it would leave and everything and then about a year and a half after I had it, it was just sitting on the windowsill and it was kind of like looking at it me and I could tell it waslike, ‘Can I go?’ and I was like, ‘You can go if you want.’ So he went outside, and then he came back every few months to visit me.
Oh! Do you still see him?
Well that was when I was in Brooklyn and now I’ve moved to Manhattan so…
He’s probably gone back and seen new people in your apartment and been like, ‘Who is this?’
I know. He doesn’t see me anymore. But he was such a beautiful, beautiful little treasure.
So have you always loved animals?
Yeah I have, especially unique animals or animals that I feel like me pick me. I have a lot of weird animal stories.
Well animals, like even really mean dogs that don’t like anyone, they really like me. And for some reason they’re very calm around me.
Like me and my friend went to this insane asylum just to check it out and it was closed [but] we went to take photos, and one of the family members of the family that watched it - he used to be in the asylum, he stuttered and had a lot of issues - he was there by himself …
He came with this huge pit bull on a chain and the pit bull was just barking ‘ar, ar, ar,’ and then he let it go off the leash and it ran towards us, but it went right past me towards my friend and my friend was terrified with his hands up and I was like, ‘It’s okay, come here,’ and he just sat next to me, like super calm.
It’s fun. I don’t know why it is, but it just is.
So animals are where you get most of your inspiration from?
Well, I just make things I want for myself, mostly.
And where does the ‘meat’ in VeraMeat come from?
Yeah, the meat comes from me laughing [while] walking near the BQE (Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in New York) after work and thinking, ‘What’s honest, that I love [and] yet think is funny?’ ‘Meat’ came to mind as it’s something hard to like these days as being vegan is the politically correct thing yet my body type doesn’t allow that nor does my blood type. Long story short, I just thought ‘VeraMeat’ and started laughing. Then I knew I would have to stick with it.
Also, my company is the ‘meatier’ side of jewelry - more interesting subject matter and better materials.
[And some] fun news - Werner Herzog the director just picked up a VeraMeat Edward Scissorhand necklace for good luck!
Susie Lau of Susie Bubble X Portable
Soft-spoken, charmingly self-deprecating, intelligent and passionate about all that is good about fashion: Susie Lau of Style Bubble comes to Australia for Portable (which, I might add, is my new go-to for all things quirky, gorgeous and beautiful about film. Watch some of them. You’ll never go back to Youtube again.)
Head to Portable for tickets + more info. You really shouldn’t miss it. I know I won’t.
Grace Kelly: style icon at Bendigo Art Gallery
The exhibition Grace Kelly: Style Icon, on display in Bendigo, explores the former Princess of Monaco as a royal, movie star, bride and enduring icon through her fashion and personal tastes.
/ © Everett Collection / Rex Features, courtesy of Bendigo Art Gallery
Under the dim lights of the Bendigo Art Gallery, film excerpts and family photographs are woven in amongst Yves Saint Laurent, Dior and Givenchy gowns in a sartorial exploration of Grace Kelly’s multilayered identity.
“We really wanted to make her quite human, to give the audience a view of her not just as a Hollywood star or as royalty, but also as a mother, and a wife, and a very important part of the history of Monaco,” said Tansin Curtin, senior curator of the Bendigo Art Gallery. “The exhibition adds a bit more of a holistic approach to her and her style.”
Working with Andrew Cannon, Honorary Consul of Monaco, and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London where the exhibition was originally curated, Curtin assisted in organising over 100 pieces of clothing and jewellery into four aspects of Grace Kelly’s identity - as a princess, a bride, an actress and an enduring style icon - to depict her as more than a movie star who traded a burgeoning film career for love and the regal life.
Curtin also added three dresses to the original exhibition collection: a pastel green Maggy Rouff evening gown, an official copy of Kelly’s wedding dress designed by US designer Edith Head, and the gown worn at the centenary celebration of the kingdom of Monaco.
The pieces “showed the kind of fashion that [Grace Kelly] loved and her personal taste,” said Curtin. “She had a really lovely personality and that really comes through, particularly in the centenary ball gown [which] we selected for inclusion because it shows Princess Grace’s love of dressing up and fancy dress balls.”
“The gown… is both extravagant and whimsical and allows us to see how Grace Kelly grew into her role as Princess of Monaco.”
The exhibition was opened last week by Princess Charlene of Monaco, whose custom Swarovski-beaded blush dress by Sydney designer Johanna Johnson would have done her mother-in-law proud.