THE LIFE & LEGACY OF OSCAR DE LA RENTA

de la renta

the only thing more impactful than the life of oscar de la renta is that of his legacy. a representation of the american dream, de la renta was born in the dominican republic’s santo domingo. a classic tale of art into design, de la renta studied art in spain, which soon spun into an apprenticeship. during his development as a designer, de la renta was mentored by cristobal balenciaga, yes, of the balenciaga. this mentoring relationship soon led de la renta to an assisting gig at the house of lanvin, alongside antonio del castillo. castillo was spanish costume designer who, alongside pierre balmain, balenciaga and christian dior, was considered among the design elite. castillo helped to relaunch the house of lanvin, and with de la renta by his side, this helped drive that mission home. the classical appeal, and internationally influenced design sense of de la renta began to develop further through the cultivation of such relationships, in the glittering industry of fashion.

in the 60’s, during the vogue editor-in-chief tenure of the legendary diana vreeland; oscar went to seek her advice about career and take over. to which, vreeland suggested he segue into ready-to-wear. with de la renta’s background in assisting and being mentored by design legends in europe, the american market was his next big footing. a footing which would become his home for the next lifetime of his career. working with elizabeth arden, de la renta was able to solidify his place in fashion, and soon opened his own namesake label which was established in 1965. during his life in style, oscar was a first of many firsts. he was internationally known for dressing jacqueline kennedy, the ultimate style seal of approval in the world of high end society. he became the first dominican to ever design for a french fashion house, as the head of the haute couture atelier at the house of balmain from 1993-2002. no doubt, his development put him ahead, and his masterful skills of networking all helped to etch his name into fashion history. but while all of these developments did assist in making such marks of indelibility; the true sense of impact for the designer was his own namesake label’s rich sense of consistency. to his credit, de la renta has enjoyed 50 years in fashion.

with an arsenal of fashion and style accolades to his credit, the 82 year old designer is definitely amongst the iconic and heroic as representatives of beauty. with unstoppable forces of design in areas including bridal, ready-to-wear, accessories, fragrance and home collections- the name of de la renta, privately owned, will continue to flourish as the real meaning of what de la renta’s legacy will be. quite the shake up for fashion, one does have to wonder what will happen next for the house. no greater sense of loss can even begin to describe my own sentiments on recieving this news yesterday, but it is with a full heart backed by fact that i say to you, that oscar de la renta will always be an icon in the world of fashion. not from a mere sense of luxury, but for what he has allowed individuals of color to pursue in design.

visit oscardelarenta.com for the latest collections
by the empire label of american society

ACT OF CONTRITION: THE RETURN OF GALLIANO

galliano

in the fashion industry, there are no guarantees. the now cliched line from the now sub-par reality tv show project runway states the truth, though rather in articulately. “one day you’re in, the next day you’re out.” in this statement alone, one would think it’s that simple. that there are no explanations, that there are no layers to peel back. all false. there are calculated moves that happen in fashion, and in many image driven industries. beyond that, there are some things that simply cannot be calculated. beyond publicity and closer to the backroom discussions of fashion politics and executive board meetings comes the real truths. those truths are almost as ruthless and unforgiving as a casting agent overlooking a model who missed her call time.

but as fashion becomes less about creativity, and more about the monetizing of style; what is there left to say of galliano. a celebrated return for an undoubtedly talented artist. an artist of design, of beauty and of vision. but with all things balanced, one has to question. does the root of such great design come a lacking formulation of structure? of beauty, is there not an equally sinister, ugly side? does that vision seem short sighted by way of lacking the ability to see ahead to the consequences of one’s actions. while fashion continues to push boundaries of color lines with model castings, does the inclusion of one figure seemingly push all these efforts three steps back instead of encouraging progression?

it was announced today that john galliano, previously ousted creative director of christian dior, is not set to take the helm at maison martin margiela. no doubt a qualified candidate through proven skill, if even only looking at his work at dior. but this move seemingly attempts to remove margiela from it’s own DNA of anonymity. for several years, many have questioned even the existence of an actual creative direction, that’s how severly the house was shrouded in mystery. galliano is the type of designer that demands all forms of drama, in press and in design. his succession into dior was orchestrated with the help of anna wintour. and while there has been a long cooling off period for the designer, is now the right time?

they say there is no better time than the present, which may be true. but they also say that some things take time- and in using such phrases to annotate circumstantial periods of career, celebrity and impactful works of art in the world, i’d say it’s a case-by-case type of thing. anti-semitism is almost an end all, be all. this is not a topic that we haven’t covered before. but with galliano’s announced return. the celebration seems tainted. it’s almost like a holding period of sorts. this opportunity is the equivalent of a house arrest, or probation- like a criminal, you kind of wait to monitor such progress but with limited access. all in all, i won’t take this as an opportunity to school you on the history of margiela, or the history of galliano. but i will cite this as an opportunity to set the marker. with his design debut for the house scheduled for january, this post will be one in a series which will catalog galliano’s steps from here, to the course in which notable events may lead.

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for past works on galliano

LIFE IN STYLE

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new york city is a terrain known for it’s dashing models. scattered amongst the crowd, that off-runway glamour. the tossled hair, or slightly undone men’s dress shirt with that fresh make-up. but there are real people there too, that are not fashionable, that don’t care about style. some maybe care too much about it. there’s a way that style is effortless. there is a certain air of casual-ity about real style. a way that is organic, thoroughly developed and strikingly individualized. these bouts of style change from person to person. a large aspect of style has a great deal to do with function. how to look good while living, and being able to function during day-to-day activities. in thinking of style every day and steadily as i grow, i’ve long channeled sentiments of awareness of self. in this, the idea of fashion seems so narrow.

i’ve worked to develop a style for myself, which began with a collection of references. this compilation of such references, some digital and some mental, started many years ago. i would sit with magazines and create collages, as well as save clippings, memorize promo art for musicians and think about stage performances. i think most great moments of capitalization in style start with a great reference. whether a film, or a song, a music video you’ve seen or an expertly angled street style image- which basically rules the internet in this age. to understand style, is to understand a personality, a person’s true sense of character. we see the beloved fable of cinderella; beautiful girl with potential becomes a vision realized but only with the help of a fairy godmother, who acts as a stylist. she ends up giving ol’ cindy her life, complete with a new attitude and glass kicks. these themes play out in many other aspects of film and/or television. shows like ‘sex and the city’, films like ‘the princess diaries’ or ‘the devil wears prada’ or even before that, ‘pretty woman’. perpetrating style in these ways gives off the idea that- it’s just an outfit. or it’s just a look, a change in hair color or a plucked brow. it’s about bringing out what’s already there, and pronouncing it. there are so many more complex ways to highlight someone’s inner qualities, but those inner workings need to exist before an exterior can be polished enough to drive that point home.

not to say that there aren’t exceptions to that type of pairing- inner and outer beauty. for the past few months, i’ve thought about inner beauty and myself. existing in a moment where there is an extended form of scrutiny, jealousy and even violent forms of rejection- exists me. in this overly stylized way, i feel as though I’m unfairly judged on the basis that i put so much into certain visual components of who i am. these components stretch far beyond the limitations of digital life and are blasted outside of the world we know as the internet. on several occasions, i’ve been told, “you’re real? i didn’t think you existed outside of the internet” or “it’s nice to meet you outside of the internet”. is there a certain intentional nature about the ways that i am closed off? absolutely. that closed off nature is often times seen as maintained exclusivity, but as an artist- it’s about preservation. there is an objective view that i am able to maintain existing outside of the worlds that i speak of. there is a lost nature that exists within those places, where darkness lurks and validation pends amidst expectations that thrive on unrealistic beauty in a real ass way. i know me. thus, all the beautiful exterior only becomes more necessary. the interior matches the exterior. it’s about an experience. i’ve been lucky enough to receive reminders from the most beautiful corners of emotion in the past few months. these have reminded me of my own value in a time where i began to lose focus. and even if these moments are a distant memory, not something that will remain, i intend to look back and be reminded of all the ways that i transcend exterior beauty and resonate more greatly from within.

there are a plethora of ways to showcase style, or individualization of taste, through aspects of social media. everything is image driven. there is a reason why this space is clean, or that the logo has certain spacing to evoke more modernity. there is a reason that my tumblr photos cascade from gray scaled selections to bold colors, and my instagram mimics the same visual association in palette. it’s all style. style is about making who you are visible through use of function and clothing- but not limited to just that. style is evoked in the way someone’s presence is memorable, unforgettable. the largest compliment, for me, is when someone loves what i’ve selected for them, from a styling perspective. they show gratitude with this epiphany of a discovery. it’s that, “why didn’t i think of that?” type of reaction. there is a way to scale it back, while raising the bar. whether those choices are seen in the option of using denim to evoke classicism, or opting for a long sleeve shirt as oppose to a short sleeve shirt to exaggerate lines and the toning of one’s arms- it’s all very calculated in a way that is minimal but poignant. in the last few months, i’ve thought about these concepts in my collaborative relationships, and really have generated an aroused sensibility of style in this new way that is refreshing, but in this familiar way. familiar enough to excite me and keep me there.

and for the reminders i’ve received, i’ve looked for ways to contribute greater senses of style. picking things that i felt would impact the situation in a way that will linger. as a life of style, you have to think- what will this legacy be? what will remain when all is said and done. people know me for my fragrance. they state that they know I’m in the building because they smell my scent. in this exists my hope for my legacy. to have a lingering beauty that is thorough enough to be unforgettable. to be remembered through phrases and faces. my own face, which has been emblazoned on just about every avenue where i am on the internet. there is an aptitude i’ve demonstrated through branding that i feel has a stronger, lingering impact on things. i always fear that i wasn’t enough. that it could’ve been stronger, louder, more vivid. but then I’m reminded, in these subtle ways, by the universe, through elements pieced together by god, that I’m doing okay. that i am memorable because I’m a good memory. i thought of him, as i picked his jean jacket, or his denim shirt, his heavy knit blue sweater or those sneakers, and that military duffle bag. how handsome he looks in his black long sleeve shirt. he expressed a love for the items as each was received. while i hoped that his love for the materials were mirrored in the ways he felt for me, much like style development, that too is a process. i hope to be remember like his now favorite jean jacket. the more you wear it, the better it looks. better when worn. transcendent, the heart i put into style is not to be trivialized or misunderstood. undervalued or discounted is not how i will be remembered because i stress quality in all the things i’ve done. from what i’ve said- all my text messages, the songs i’ve referenced, the songs i’ve played in my car, the glimmer from the blue interior lighting that cascades against my leather interior the nights we went to look at the stars.

there is a strange duality that i feel about style. where it’s like the lessons of style are also playing out as the lessons of my life. to scale it back, to retreat to simplicity. to keep clean, and to remove clutter. style reminds me to be thoughtful, and style to me is really a gift. there is a trust in style, and the ways that i’ve styled or accentuated people in the last few months can only come from a place of love. there is a marination process that i’ve had with both style development and in emotions. my emotions run just as deep as my imagination because that is what sources my hope for love. my love of self is seen in the ways i represent myself. that representation then seeps over into the ways that i interact with others, and the care that i show for those i love. that love for others in turn becomes an extension of who i am, connecting me to all who i choose to share energy with. i keep few in my mind, and even fewer in my heart. but when i keep you in my heart, forever you’ll stay. protected from all things impure. this love that i give is like denim, one of the most durable textiles to be used. it’s a classic textile that has no need to rely on trendy marketing, it’s tried and true. american roots with international influence. beautifully strong. blue, but worn with clean crop edges of white which give it both history and added beauty. dimension is seen here and even torn, it’s still chic. built to last and even be turned into something new through such destruction. some things last forever.

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my fascination with editorial

THE FALL 2014 COUTURE REPORT

 

each season, i question the relevance of couture. and though i’m one for the glamour, the concepts and the imagination- i also find great importance in wearability and everyday function. real women- that’s what fashion is really about. the couture collections begin with versace, and have since the italian fashion house made it’s way back to the runways of paris with atelier versace. fresh off the runway, the versace collection was inspired by the time period of 1947-1957. dark and appropriately as a fall collection, there were deep purples and use of leather in the collection. always a stunning cast at the house of versace, this season was no different. mariacarla bosocono opened the collection, as late 90’s supermodel stella tennant brought the collection to a close. there was a greater amount of restraint and modesty in this collection, which was nice. the versace collections from ready-to-wear to menswear have been more gimmicky in recent years. i can fuck with theatricality but the label has seemed to try to remain relevant in the mainstream with associations with rappers and especially musical fixtures like nicki minaj. these things do keep a label in the eyes of consumers at a range of levels within the market, but there is a certain grade of style that should be executed. i loved this atelier versace collection and really loved the modernized take on the 40’s and 50’s. donatella is really a master of feminine charm, and this collection was chic and refined with a female sense of mystique. that balance is necessary for their archives, and that almost crass aesthetic that they toss to the masses is definitely, regardless of how i feel about it, a part of the versace brand. it’s that in your face, more-is-more, maximalist approach. all things balanced, loved the concepts of this couture collection.

leaning to my mention of theatricality once more, i still cannot help but think of galliano during show season; especially at the house of dior. old habits die hard, i suppose, but when looking at the dior collections, there is a complete 360 that the house has done. admirable, in trying to refine their aesthetic and draw it back to the original code of the house, the new dior look relies on intricate details seen in construction. while there lacks a sense of drama, in obvious ways, the drama is filled into these collections at a different angle. that angle, from what i have seen and can foresee seems like it may become dulled if worn out for another season. the backdrop of the runway show, though stunning, seems too familiar in comparison to the last three seasons that raf has been at dior. couture is an especially important aspect of the house, and for a fall couture collection- the drama did seem a bit more turned up. there was use of fur, and greater attention to a range of silhouettes. simple dresses with flowing lines were accentuated properly with couture details- duh, that’s what this shit is all about. the white lacquered floors of the runway accented the clothes in a pure way. that’s what the work of raf simons has done for the house of dior- it’s cleaned it up. and though this beauty is visible, i wonder how much longer it will be before this classically sophisticated direction will be traded in for a more modernized take on things. obviously, ready-to-wear is just around the corner, and all eyes are usually on dior in paris, along with the other big labels, like givenchy and louis vuitton. but in the arena of haute couture, dior wins. and almost by default before vuitton does not produce couture, while the house of givenchy has made the conscious decision to opt out of the historically haute tradition.

the usual romanticism was seen at elie saab, again- another house that has no issues with dissing beauty in the droves- it seemed all like something that we’ve seen before. armani privé continued it’s lull in a way that really only makes you feel like it really is time for giorgio himself to retire and for new, young blood to remix the codes of the house. while i respect the legacy of the armani label immensely, i often don’t take the time to speak on what they are doing out of the sheer annoyance of what they are not doing. the progression of the label, in ways that are visible in each and every collection they present is heavily weighed down with stagnancy. it’s almost as if giorgio’s refusal to retire, or clear avoidance of such are all for show- to prove a point. while no valuable points, in the form of design, are even seen. it may be a long shot; but it’s all boring. and then they shoot these excellent advertising campaigns that make the clothes look better than how they were presented on the runway. with giorgio’s comments about the fashion calendar, and his gripes of non-attendance from editors during his shows- with all due respect, it seems as though it’s unnecessary. there is a lack of growth. fashion is a business, and it seems like armani’s point in not retiring is as dull as his collections. it is now beginning to come off as grumpy old man gripes. if there was a concern with the label and it’s relevance through style and design, a plan to re-energize the label would be put in place. speaking to what appeals to me as a fashion consumer and spectator, no one is really checking for armani in the facets of armani exchange, giorgio armani and yes, armani privé. as seen in the collection and mentioned in reviews, it was noticeable that shorter hemlines were intended to appeal to new, younger customers- but those attempts to entice will fall flat. the approach is old, dated and expired. it’s time for the armani label to rise back into relevance through new creative direction. or nah?

in lieu of my mention of what this new direction looks and feels like in these modern days of couture; and yes, you might think that modern and couture is touchy. considering the historical techniques of couture, i think it’s almost just as important if not more important to apply those techniques and weld them with undeniably innovative approaches to silhouette and character. fashion is really about an energy, the clothes can disguise this, accentuate it, balance it or kill it all together. alexandre vauthier has quickly become a master of modernization, and a viable competitor of what such competition looks like. then you have the margiela approach of intentional awkwardness or their fuck-with-the-psyche approach to dressing. the thing about this sense of modernity is that it can also read like a gimmick, as i did mention with the house of versace. modernization, when done the right way should not cheapen, but cool. it should add layers of content instead of stripping them away in a way that makes it more digestible to more people. couture is the unapologetic approach to design- we’re talking hundreds of hours on one garment, for one customer- it’s the lap of luxury that many fail to even touch, much less become aware of. giambattista valli seemed to almost marry the philosophy of design seen at margiela with what we seen at vauthier, as well as at dior. they borrowed the flowered girlies from dior, while fucking with the silhouettes in a way that reminded you of margiela in an intentionally psychological way. then there was the purple fur numbers that incorporated or gave vauthier a run for his money. this is the type of competition worth keeping score for. concepts are only as great as their interpreters and the giambattista valli collection housed and personalized his take on what all the other labels were doing, and have done. perfectly executed in my opinion.

collections that fell flat for me were schiaparelli. a label to watch more closely since they are attempting to revitalize the brand, but perhaps its only because i am not as familiar with the house and their codes. the collection was seemingly animal themed, which again lead me to my pet peeve, no pun intended; for collections that rely on gimmicks to sustain or gain greater traction. it’s difficult to make a way for yourself as a free standing fashion entity, but to be held to an existing legacy and to deal with the pressure of properly reintroducing that level of aesthetic to a set of future and present day consumers who almost always lack a sense of understanding and information must be a challenge. while i am holding out on forming a real opinion before a few seasons are under marco zanini’s belt, i will say- i am not a fan of such a design direction. modern, yes- not cheap. and these concepts felt that way to me. granted, construction could’ve been on-fucking-point, the visual was just not desirable to my eye that seeks and gravitates towards beauty. unnecessarily resorting to gimmicks as well, was viktor & rolf, with a fleet of red velvet looks. which i hated. understanding that the fashion design duo are more avant garde, this just wasn’t pretty, nor did it embody the attitude of couture. this could’ve been something really strong and great, but instead- if seemed like a joke.

the house of chanel is king, and alongside it was valentino as it’s queen equivalent. the juggernaut of a house, chanel took inspiration from architecture of le corbusier, while valentino referenced the 19th century. both collections contained a true sense of romanticism, beauty and regality that was unmatched by many others this couture season. a pleasant surprise was to see much more variation at valentino, and to see the ways that lagerfeld abandoned more modern ideas seen last season for couture, like sneakers. true range, growth and beautifully executed method of interpreting inspiration. both collections were standouts for me this season, beautiful and sparing in their own ways but balanced by all the other gimmicks that seemed to stumble onto the catwalks. overall, fall is where you bring the drama and that’s what these two did. while the other labels are still perfection in waiting, it’s all one big process. it’s not even about what collections do from season to season, it’s monitoring that progression and looking at things down to the detail, and from the bigger picture. with show season looming, we’ll get our big picture soon, then we can rest on the beauty, the cool and the elegance through the holidays to do it all over again, come january. welcome to SS15 show season.

visit style.com for complete coverage of the FW14 haute couture season
stay tuned for coverage of new york fashion week this september

THE TOP SPRING 2015 MENSWEAR COLLECTIONS

the most exciting area of growth, to me, is menswear. this show season, that growth continues to thrive. visible in concept, and defense of the classics- these ten selections are in no particular order and present a range of style. whether minimal or maximal, i love the idea of balance. weighing drama with the subdued, in a way that is progressive and challenges the ways that we perceived style for the modern day male. there seems to be more creativity that is poured into the collections, allowing the menswear sector more competitive edge than ever before. women dominate high fashion, but these collections have proven that they playing field is currently being evened. these are my absolute favorite men’s collections for spring.

acneACNE STUDIOS there is something so essentially cool about acne studios. there is a mainstream relevance that is executed in this super cool, indie sort of way. this spring, exaggerated knits were my favorite element of this collection. the color story, a routine aspect of dope for the label, were spot on. i’m always a fan of the ways that acne does outerwear, and loved all the brown and green tones presented in the pieces from this collection. while some of the fits were much more wide, different then my normal taste of well tailored-ness, i appreciated the deviation from what has become the norm in menswear design. desirable in ways that are classically undeniable. the almost hybrid sneaker-dress shoe, velcro inspired design was also another high note from this collection. there was something almost vintage about this collection, the soft yellows were too dull for my liking, but overall, the collection presented well and struck a cord in me, stylistically. it’s always interesting to see the ways that fashion brands play with silhouette; but even more intriguing when done so in the realm of menswear. there is a certain code of etiquette in menswear, and that code is seemingly being re-configured more and more with each season. acne is still closely guarded to their minimalistic aesthetic, which i love, but this show season in particular it seems as though they are breaking away in a subtle manner to create a greater sense of variation in design. simple and striking, just as i prefer- love this collection and absolutely had to include it in my spring selections; it’s functional and wearable, which are two of the most important elements for menswear and style all together.

balenciagaBALENCIAGA the house of balenciaga is deeply rooted in the legacy of womenswear, and always will be. clean lines and wider shapes were also seen from the house of balenciaga as their menswear collections seem to also further develop. with alexander wang’s installation as creative director, the house has been afforded a greater opportunity to appeal to a clientele base that is significantly more street. the house of balenciaga is reputably one of the most sophisticated, but in a way of progression. the use of shapes and remixing of the ways that women look has long been the history of the house. as a spring collection, the menswear set had its share of shorts, but was also paired with more transitional season style wardrobe pieces like trench coats, and outerwear. black, white, grey and blue in palette- the collection also continued to incorporate aspects of suit and sport. aspects of sport were more clearly pronounced in the collection’s footwear. the presence of men’s bags was interesting, though not powerful enough in my opinion. interesting as well was the continued use of leather for the spring season, which seems to haunt these high fashion collections and poke fun at any real aspects of function and/or seasonal appropriateness. all in all, the collection presented a number of strong points, but has long been presented through look book images, off runway. it’s interesting to see that a house as influential as balenciaga, in the world of womenswear, is somehow unable or reluctant to garner some of the same influence in aspects of menswear. progressive, and valuable, i like this collection and admire the greater alignment of design from men’s to womenswear design at the house.

dries van notenDRIES VAN NOTEN intellectuality by way of dress is the dries van noten way. taking a more serious fashion approach to the often lighthearted direction of spring, dries van noten was reportedly inspired by sensuality of masculinity, which you feel in the clothes. there is a relaxed air to the collection, an ease and effortlessness- which i often look for in fashion collections. style should not feel forced, and the van noten approach to design mirrors that methodology perfectly. dries mentioned in runway reports that he was tired of the “rock aesthetic” and this collection seems to raise the bar on what that flavor feels like. as oppose to hard, or edgy we got soft and graceful. exposed chests, loose necklines and relaxed blazers danced throughout the collection in rich, deep tones of navy, bold shots of red and partial use of print. delicate use of off-white and beige were also seen which drove the feel of romance even further. footwear in the collection communicated the feel of sensuality as well, as each pair of shoes looked like ballerina flats- which allowed masculinity to be accentuated to a greater level of sensuality through reference of femininity. i may have stated this once before, but oh, well- this collection calls for a re-referencing of such; there is always something poetic about dries van noten. with a more concentrated sense of awareness to menswear, as a man who also has an appreciation for womenswear, i appreciate that delicate nature in the menswear side of things. since so much of being a man is tied to aspects of strength or structure, it’s beautiful to see such fragility or sensitivity in clothes. that ease is what being a man is all about, that’s the allure of masculinity.

 

valentinoVALENTINO the house of valentino has made great strides in allowing their menswear collections to be seen as individualized entities apart from their iconic womenswear line. as the label that brought use of camouflage into the trend stratosphere, this season, that trend seems to be in use with greater intention to also fade it out. the collection was surprisingly decorated with use of print, while patch worked butterflies reminded me of boy scout patches. the palette was more fall, while the sandals reminded us of the spring direction. i loved the brown tones that warmed this collection and thought it was a nice graduation from what we seen last season from the italian fashion house. in the spirit of bespoke, or male couture, the true quality of the work in the valentino menswear collections are seen in the details. details that cannot possibly be described or rivaled through any piece of writing. some use of print was a bit ambitious, which i respect, but didn’t favor as much as i did with the solid toned designs. the solid tones make a stronger impact to my eye, personally. from what we seen at dries van noten, to also givenchy- print is often a design addition that is expected during the spring/summer show season. all in all, i have liked other collections more than what was presented by valentino this spring, but i appreciate their differentiation and extended efforts at individualization in menswear. menswear can often times be dull, but the house of valentino, through simple concepts and remixing of sport luxury have been able to successfully transcend upward.

off whiteOFF-WHITE C/O VIRGIL ABLOH the most culture enriched collection selection of my spring round up, is the work of virgil abloh. as the creative director for kanye west, i was only made aware of virgil last year. through friends and industry chatter, i had inquired about work at DONDA and virgil’s name came up as creative gatekeeper. surprisingly, and like a stroke of fate, his name began to appear. in the form of off-white. the interesting thing about fashion and the true artists that exist within that sub-set is the fact that so much visibility is between these limitations and borders that encase culture, style and publicity. fashion labels these days need to master the art of balancing all three and many do, quite beautifully. in garnering a greater public sense of visibility, virgil had major traction as the mind behind pyrex vision; which was a smaller scale urban clothing brand that was and still is gaining more and more visibility on digital platforms like instagram and tumblr. consisting of sportswear elements like basketball shorts and long sleeve t-shirts, off-white is almost the high end counterpart to what virgil started with pyrex vision. quickly becoming an outfitted element of the hip-hop/rap star sub-culture, off-white borrows simple graphic elements and welds them together in cool ways that appeal to hard hitting fashion kids. what i will say of off-white though, is that is borrows a bit from what we’ve seen from saint laurent. the whole alternative or rock star element is incredibly similar, but off-white lends a greater independent feel which is surely a reason why consumers will feel encouraged to buy. there is a rapid sense of development through the vision of abloh, and what we see here is just the beginning. one to watch, most definitely, virgil is a bold talent that has not only the creative genius, but the cultural context to really catapult himself into the style stratosphere far beyond then what we see here.

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THE TOP FIVE RESORT 2015 COLLECTIONS

the start of show season is usually guided by the pre-season collections, and this season was no different. clean lines are my choice aesthetic, thus that theme was recurring in my selections. whether it was classic 70’s re-invention, or greater modernization of new school leaders, these five were my absolute favorites from what was presented, off runway, before the start of the true chaos known as show season. acting as an appetizer of my runway coverage, this countdown was kept quaint with great intention. the selections themselves were kept smaller in scale, in an effort to not too heavily distract from other stronger collections which are seen in areas of both menswear and womenswear. this is just the tip of the iceberg.


halstonHALSTON
– as one of the great american originals in high fashion, the house of halston is no stranger to success. but at present day, the halston heritage collection is not as visible as it should be. i was pleased to see this resort collection and the modern approach, in classic halston form was served well. easily competitive with other new school labels, the halston brand has enjoyed it’s share of attempt to re-introduce and while this collection is nothing completely groundbreaking, the collection still shows promise. with creative director, marie mazelis at the helm, the label seems to show promise of a different grade. that said, there is still more to come. a successful runway show, for starters. a strong campaign, and even stronger collection that houses concepts that raise the bar of the 70’s fashion house in a way that is reflective of their history, and progressive enough to open doors of new opportunity. much like what we’ve seen at balenciaga or christian dior; the idea of re-establishing a house in a modern way without compromising it’s DNA is definitely possible. a controlled palette allowed the collection to remain unchained by too much trend, in order to tap into the houses roots. with show season around the corner, we’ll be able to see which ways halston, label, re-envisions it’s heritage. with so many disappointments in trying to revitalize the label, i am not willing to bet on their efforts, but can definitely appreciate a committed approach to re-birth. an applauded effort, but unsparingly, i am expecting to see much more development in the new show season, as well as in the following three years. with a campaign and strong direction- this shows potential.

jason wuJASON WU – the new school sophisticate, jason wu continues to dominate with unending chic- even in the pre-season. a strong collection of concepts that are mindful of past work, i am excited to see the ways that these looks are aligned with his new collection during new york fashion week. milky pastels ruled the color story for the collection and fashion seriousness was all over the models faces. jason wu has steadily marketed and improved his aesthetic in an interesting way. representing some of the greatest american talent on the scene currently, wu has moved with greater ease and stronger concepts season after season, and this pre-season, that approach was powerfully felt in delicate delivery. the broken crown molding on the backdrop of the collection images was interesting, and almost representative of wu’s modernized take on the classics. the collection was overtly sexual, and poses a certain energy that crosses boundaries of age. piece by piece or complete look, each wardrobe visual provided in this set was immaculately done. there was enough prowess to communicate strength, while there was also enough gentle coordination of what it takes, in our modern times, to be a lady. admirably so, i expect the same level of sophistication from wu’s collection come this show season, on the runways of new york fashion week. i love seeing the ways that he further remixes the classics in ways that allow you to appreciate what is protected, while being inspired by the ways that those elements have also become revitalized.

max maraMAX MARA – clean and crisp femininity are among the common themes that tie all of my selections this pre-season, together. the max mara collections all contain a certain cleanliness about them, which i love. often times, too clean can border boring- but that’s not the case with the mara label. there’s a way that italian labels do minimalism which seems to come from a pure place of contrast, as much of milan as a fashion scene has been built on maximal-ism. this pre-season, though simple and clean, the label opted to ornament their clean looks with more maximalist elements. resulting in a new, fresh approach that packs more power from look to look. the privately owned family label has done an excellent job at consistently competing with more of the new school labels who have adopted minimalist concepts. from pre-season, to show season, and through campaign season, max mara is one label that serves the classics in well rounded form, and feminine charm. loved the use of fur in this collection, and liked that i felt more personality, which is important for labels who are committed to the simplistic design approach. in palette, i loved the ways that the contrasting tones were combined with the soft greys that i have grown to associate with the label. while some of the styling seemed to be a bit forced, i definitely respect the slight alteration in direction. it’s ambitious enough for the pre-season, and hints at an even greater effort that waits in the wings for this show season. a great lead in for the spring show season.

muglerMUGLER – structural chic void of theatricality, but in a good way. the mugler label has seemingly been built on the basis of drama and exaggerated silhouettes. this pre-season collection beautifully ushers the mugler label into more modern design territory. there is a simplicity in this collection, and a very stripped manner in which beauty is shown. the debut collection by newly appointed creative director, david coma; the collection is beautifully conceptualized and sharply executed. the use of sheer, the strength seen in the use of shape or even lack thereof- there was nothing particularly mugler about this collection aside from that strength. there was a purity to this resort set, and the combined use of color and black and white images was done perfectly. as another collection of clean lines, this selection proves that the aesthetic of high fashion minimalism is only growing more popular with time. mostly black and white in palette, with notes of blood orange and cobalt blue, the collection proves to be a stunning entry for koma, whom is sure to lead the label into greater, more serious fashion avenues. nicola formichetti seemed to respect and align the direction of the label more closely with past work of thierry mugler; but this presented limited sense of new and revitalization in my mind. relying on celebrity cameos and overly aggressive characterization on the runway, that presence seemed to overwhelm the clothes, only further distracting from them. which is what makes all the simplicity of this collection that much more stunning. simplicity is the silence amidst noise, and in fashion- there is plenty of noise. any moment of solace is appreciated, and this here was pure.

lapointeSALLY LAPOINTE – graduating from goth aesthetics; sally lapointe is a design label which thrives on the brink of the new era in fashion. lighter, more feminine and progressive- the collection we see from lapointe is everything that sophistication is for the modern woman. true growth is seen here, and the lapointe label has a relationship with this site. as one of the first designer labels who has consistently remains in contact from season to season, regarding new collection, fashion show invites- the lapointe label is one that has been on this site’s radar for sometime. as the final selection for my resort collection round-up, i am truly proud of the growth that is visible in concept and execution. the use of fur in this collection was by far my favorite; the use of color was done so in a way that was very adult. that maturity was well balanced with a sleek set of design lines that felt unlike any other collection from lapointe, that we’ve seen in the past. that’s what fashion is all about, growth, and monitoring a certain type of evolution. super excited to see what ways lapointe has grown on the runways of new york fashion week this coming show season. i love the blurred lines of feminine and masculine, while femininity is leaned more toward in a subtle manner. perfect combination of appeal to the modern fashion market. clean lines, careful selection of color, and attention to detail in all the ways that draw you in. this is pre-season, next up? menswear.

visit style.com for full more 2015 resort collections
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SOUND VS. STYLE: MARIAH CAREY

MC

when mariah carey burst onto the scene in 1990, her hit “vision of love” broke the mainstream format of what music sounded like at radio of that time. this groundbreaking instance would become a regularity in her career. in the first three years of her career, a blockbuster set of four albums were released, including the best selling christmas album of all time, “merry christmas”. through the early years, mariah dominated the adult contemporary and pop billboard charts. throughout her career, mariah’s musical journey has touched genres of soft rock, gospel, jazz, hip-hop and R&B. quite literally the most influential vocalist of the 1990’s, mariah’s resume is as extensive as should be an artist of her caliber. set to take home the icon world music award, carey has sold over 200 million records worldwide. the artist known as mariah carey is still at present day an untouchable name in vocal, lyrical and production that cannot be touched. to her credit, carey is the best selling female artist of all time and moving into the 2000’s continued this reign with the need to transform. blending genres of urban sound into the pop musical mainstream, mariah’s influence goes far beyond what can be awarded through grammy’s or what can chart billboard.

“butterfly” the album, was particularly important for mariah’s musical journey and personal growth. it became the first time she was able to have a true footing in her image, and you felt it. a genius songwriter, mariah has co-written her entire catalog, produced or co-produced much of that catalog as well. she had long established an identity in the composition and lyrical components of her career, which created a strong foundation for her career to sustain upon. most artists in today’s industry have a strong image component but a weakened musical identity. for carey, this inverse is likely a large factor as to why she has been able to soar as a top billing female entertainer from the golden age of the music industry. the ethereal, melismatic arranging of vocals with a colorful word play something like a fairy tale have become mariah’s trademarks since the very beginning. emotions, music box, daydream, butterfly, rainbow, charmbracelet- all album titles from her catalog, and all synonymous with her artistic persona.

but beyond just pretty words, and whistle register vocal arrangements, mariah is an icon of culture. her 1995 hit, “fantasy”, became the first single by a female artist to debut at #1 on the billboard charts, and only the second single ever to do so following the lead of michael jackson’s “you are not alone”. spending eight weeks at #1 and a total of 23 weeks in the top 40 on billboard, “fantasy” was a best selling single in 1995, moving 1.5 million units and becoming certified double platinum by the recording industry association of america. it was during this era that mariah began to transition away from her adult pop contemporary home in music, and ventured more into the genre that would soon become the hybrid of hip-hop/R&B. working to produce a remix for ‘fantasy’, carey enlisted sean “puffy” combs. the result of this pairing came a greater merging of rap and R&B, when it was decided that wu-tang clan’s ol’ dirty bastard would become a feature on the hit. the lyrics, “me and mariah, go back like babies with pacifiers” became emblematic of the hard vs soft image that mariah would become much more enchanted by for the remainder of the years she would spend as an artist representing R&B. soaring higher and higher with each record release, the album which fantasy was produced for “daydream” became an international best seller, moving 25 million units worldwide. also from that album, “one sweet day” became, and still is to this day- the longest running number one single of all time. the song spent 16 consecutive weeks at number one. these feats during this leg of mariah’s career in the year 1995-1996 sealed her position on the music scene as one of the most untouchable female singer/songwriter/producers in the history of music. a title she still holds today.

much of mariah’s early career was guided by the hand of her then husband, sony music boss, tommy mottola. as her voice flourished on the airwaves, and her album stats began to stack, things got rocky in the marriage. resulting was a divorce, which resulted in the musical works that revealed her freedom, an album we know as “butterfly”. released in 1997, the album welded together the elements of mariah the woman, and mariah the artist. influences of hip-hop thumped into carey’s poetic lyricism- moving five million units while in the process. revealed and represented were a fleeting type of beauty that resounded in the sensibility of freedom and escape, the very taste of fantasy with a daydream like sequence- heroic in a way. the album felt genuine. while other albums held up against billboard chartings and platinum certifications, you seen a real identity with the butterfly LP. this would become the formula for mariah’s albums to follow. there was the classical, R&B feel of both ‘music box’ and ‘daydream’. but rather than poising thoughts of freedom, ‘butterfly’ accentuated and realized such daydreams in music boxes. the particularly interesting element of ‘butterfly’ was the bold references and depths in which hip-hop were seen.

as mariah has developed as an artist she has seemingly graduated into the R&B roots in which she was always destined. beyond the commercially acceptable, chart-topping, diamond album certified confines of industry, mariah is now where she needs to be. and that position is as a representative of the musical genre most affectionately known to music fans as rhythm and blues. criminally underrated, though heavily decorated with accolades in comparison to her other contemporaries and peers- there is no greater female artist than that of ms. mariah carey. with an arsenal of an album catalog, a wardrobe to rival a queen and talent that has secured the future of her children’s children, this style vs. sound feature could forever, due to the simple fact that mariah is the most influential female figure of the 1990’s and 2000’s. while this cultural influence often is not seen in accolades at the grammy’s- culture speaks for and represents itself. the trajectory of her career can never be surpassed, nor can it be made equivalent. a cultural diva of unmeasured talents, mariah is still a relevant force in music and cannot be dethroned simply because, no other female artist has lent their talent or taken risks to merge genre’s and bring art forms together in the ways she has- as an artist. her latest studio release is evidence that her taste level, instincts and understanding of music remains untouched.

a sound for all who have enjoyed any of her music for the past 20+ years is found in the new album. for the critics who have felt that she has deviated from her adult contemporary roots, mariah has created: “cry.”, “camouflage”, and “heavenly”. for those who have shifted into her fan base through her contemporary hip-hop inspired production elements, all other records on the album just about quench that thirst. which is actually one of my favorite album cuts, produced by hit-boy, “thirsty” – which was submitted to urban radio as a single. the album includes the worldwide success “#beautiful” which features R&B superstar, miguel. but the album is different than other albums by mariah. it’s more sophisticated, and well rounded. they say history repeats itself, and here we see another moment of glory for carey, similar to the way that we seen freedom flourish with “butterfly”. all in all, this post is long over due and my dedication to mariah as a fan can never be met properly with words or expressions. nor can it even begin to be expressed in just one feature, but many, and made evident in more emotional transactions that surpass words. i could praise the album to high heaven, but it’s up to you to listen and hear what i hear.

this is an installment of the sound vs. style music feature series
click here to view past artists featured