Fashion TV Shows that don’t suck

With so many die-hard fashion lovers around the world, why is it that only a handful of (poorly made and utterly boring) fashion centred TV series seem to garner attention? I mean sure, there is a plethora of fashion reality tv shows like America’s Next Top Model and Project Runway kicking around, but why is that fashion lovers around the world are confined to having to watch Sex and the City, Gossip Girl, or some random show that has nothing to do with fashion, but has a great wardrobe none the less. This article could have easily been filled to the brim with shows that have stunning costumes like Versailles and Downtown Abbey, but that would be unjust to those who live, breathe, and work in the fashion industry. Luckily, Novella is here take away your woes and provide every fashion lover out there with a list of great fashion centred tv shows that won’t have you lying in bed wondering if sleep really is a better option than binge-watching an entire season before work.

Atelier (Japan)

Photo: Netflix

Atelier (Andâwea) is one of those series that sadly gets overlooked on the Netflix roster because of the simple fact that it isn’t in English. Now, some may be hesitant to delve into the world of subtitle reading, but the sacrifice is well worth it: This single season powerhouse of a TV show packs a mighty punch. Throughout the series, you follow a young textile design graduate, Mayuko Tokita (Mirei Kiritani) as she navigates the world of high fashion lingerie. Immediately our young protagonist is met with resistance by the series’ main antihero, a veteran lingerie designer (Mayumi Nanjo, played by Mao Daichi) and owner of Emotion Lingerie, who uses tough love to guide our hero through the often times brutal fashion world. The greatest thing about this show is the emotional response it generates in its viewers. It’s so easy to fall in love with Mayu and connect with the ups and downs of her career at Emotion as if they were your own, making Atelier a very enjoyable watch.

The Fashion Fund (USA)

Photo: Vogue

Now everyone is very well aware of the dominance Project Runway has over the fashion design competition category of reality tv. Season after season, fashion lovers are treated to a group of designer hopefuls fighting for a chance of winning a chunk of cash and a spot on New York Fashion Week’s illustrious schedule. However, once you get past all of the flash and bang that Project Runway creates, you soon come to realize that it really just is the fashion lovers’ version of American Idol. Luckily, not all is lost when it comes to design competitions. From the brilliant marketing minds at Vogue magazine comes a little design web series based on one of the most intense competitions the fashion world has to offer. Follow editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, designer Dianne Von Furstenburg, and countless other fashion elites as they mentor and oversee the Vogue Fashion Fund, a design competition aimed at kick-starting the careers of fashion designers who exhibit the most potential for becoming the next American fashion heavyweight. The best part about the series is how real and relevant it is to today’s fashion industry. Rather than watching a design competition for the sake of drama and good tv, this series aims to showcase the reality of what it takes to play with, and impress, the big kids in fashion. And if that isn’t enough incentive to start watching The Fashion Fund, then you might find some in the fact that you get to watch the designers behind brands like Gypsy Sport, Chromat, and Jonathan Simhkai do their thing all under the watchful eye of Ms. Wintour.

Absolutely Fabulous (UK)

Photo: Fox Searchlight

This British tv classic should be hailed as a national treasure at this point. With six seasons under its belt and recently a feature-length movie (with appearances by fashion legends Kate Moss and Suzy Menkes, to name a few) Absolutely Fabulous is a glittering gem among drab fashion related shows. The show follows the everyday life of self-proclaimed PR guru Edina Monsoon and her fashion editor best friend Pasty Stone as they navigate the world of British high fashion. The series itself is brilliant enough based on the constant bombardment of British wit, but the real laughs come with the catastrophic scenarios Eddy and Patsy manage to get themselves into. Ab Fab really is a melting pot of quick English wit, drugs, Bollinger champagne, and laugh out loud moments that will change the way you look at the glamorous lives of the fashion elite forever.

Fashion War (Hong Kong)

Photo: TVB

Fashion War is what they call on the Eastern hemisphere a drama. A television drama can best be compared to a soap opera. But Fashion War doesn’t play out like its melodramatic western counterparts. It follows the lives of a group of people employed at an important Hong Kong fashion magazine. Viewers are taken on a ride through the often ugly and brutal side of the fashion industry, where decisions are made at the cost of others’ feelings and jobs, which is an interesting take on the often comical or uplifting and inspiring portrayal of the fashion industry in media. Unlike the other shows on the list, Fashion War focuses on the more intense side of the industry, where loyalty and betrayal come hand in hand; a perfect edge of your seat nail biter for those of you who want a show with a little more edge to it.

Velvet (Spain)

Set in the late ’50 and early ’60s, Velvet is yet another series that showcases fashion through a different lens. In the world of Velvet, Alberto (Miguel Ángel Silvestre), heir to the prestigious Spanish department store Galerias Velvet, is faced with the daunting task of running his late father’s store while trying to keep his own personal life in pristine condition. However, things take a more difficult turn when he begins to fall for Ana (Paula Echevarría), a seamstress who works at the store. What ensues is a whirlwind of love and the tough decisions that come with it, especially when facing the responsibility of keeping a business afloat.

The Paradise (UK)

Photo: PBS

Now, this list wouldn’t be complete without a British costume drama. Luckily, among all of the historical series that features stunning costume design, the Brits managed to make a show that’s based on the industry that created those stunning costumes. Set in 1875, this two-season series follows the changes shop workers and owners must go through when the first English department store opens its doors. Alive with romance and loss, The Paradise is one of those shows that reignites the creative flame all fashion lovers have within them. The stunning costumes hark back to a time when clothing represented more than just self-expression and every detail was of the utmost importance. Another fun aspect to the series is seeing how retail fashion all began, which could be a very interesting concept to those on the business side of the fashion industry.

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Highlights from Resort and Pre-Fall 2017/18

Pre-fall, Resort, Cruise. What does it all mean? Now some people feel pre-fall and resort collections are completely unnecessary, but the truth of the matter is, resort and pre-fall collections do play and important role in the fashion world. In most cases, pre-fall and resort are meant to showcase what’s to come for their respective season. For example, cruise and resort are meant to give customers a taste of what’s to come for spring/ summer, while pre-fall is meant as a tease for the coming fall/winter shows. Now you could argue that brands could cut their costs and just lump these small capsule collections into their respective seasons, but fashion is just as much about tradition as it is about innovation, so letting go of the mini mid-season collections may feel like a betrayal of traditions for some designers.

Proenza Schouler (Pro-Enzuh Skool-er) Pre-Fall 2017

Photo: Proenza Schouler

Yes, that’s right, it’s pronounced “Pro-enzuh Skool-er” not “Prenza Shooler,” but that’s beside the point. This time around, the boys at famed New York fashion powerhouse Proenza Schouler created a pre-fall collection packed full of all the things Proenza fans look forward to in the regular seasonal collections. A mix of modern edge and grungy industrial look come together in the form of a simple minimalist crop top, grommeted trousers, and what appears to be a simple black bomber. It seems like once again the Proenza boys have redefined New York cool girl chic with a simple silhouette and perfect styling. What more could you ask for?

 

Prada Resort 2018

Photo: Vogue Runway

Miuccia Prada is undoubtedly the reigning queen of design in today’s fashion landscape. Her constant quest for creating chic clothing that represents not only the here and now but also the future has solidified her place among the legends of fashion. For her resort 2018 collection, Miuccia dove into the world of feminine sexiness. The collection featured a plethora of sheer separates in macaron pastels. Pistachio greens flowed beautifully against strawberry milk pinks and champagne sequins, giving the collection and immediate feminine softness. But Madame Prada could never allow her collection to just solely rely on femininity to look good. Underneath the prettiness lies a strong sense of vintage intensity. The graphic socks and over the top shades, and shoes give off the impression that this woman is soft and sensitive, yet dominant and completely capable of fending for herself. A staple Miuccia has spent perfecting.

Mary Katrantzou Pre-fall 2017

Photo: Mary Katrantzou

Mary Katrantantzou has been passed the torch that was given to many a designer. Like Dries Van Noten, Christian Lacroix, Anna Sui, and Hanae Mori before her, Katrantzou now holds the title as the grand poobah of print designers. This pre-season collection saw the designer create a collection heavily based on different jewel toned prints. The most beautiful of the bunch is this stunning paisley print that almost leans towards a Mediterranean style of design seen in ancient Greece. However, there’s absolutely nothing ancient about this look. Between the beautiful royal blue suit and stole, the entire look screams modern elegance. A redefining moment for the modern woman’s power suit.

Louis Vuitton Cruise 2018

Photo: Vogue Runway

Nicolas Ghesquiere has been turning out fashion forward it-girl style since his early days in fashion. Recently, his endeavours at historic french powerhouse Louis Vuitton have produced some of his most successful and celebrated collections to date. For his cruise 2018 collection. Ghesquiere took Vuitton to Japan. Where he showcased his stunning collection against the backdrop of a mountainside museum.  The collection employed heavy use of texture to create layers and depth throughout the collection. One of the most stunning pieces in the collection came in the form of an oversized sleeve blazer worn over a crisp white shirt and matching shirts. Now the look isn’t the most elaborate in the collection, but it’s in its simplicity that you find the beauty. The simple amplification of an office staple creates a modern take on something every day; like finding the beauty in the mundane.

Jason Wu Pre-fall 2017

Photo: Jason Wu

The standard office uniform can sometimes feel like a coffin rather a form of personal self-expression.  Luckily at Jason Wu pre-fall 2017, the modern woman is finally given some standout options. Take this beautiful two piece ensemble. The pinstriping adds a faint hint of rigidness to an overall relaxed office look. The beautifully soft draping of the fabric along the waist adds shape and excitement to the look, while the simple wide legged pant adds and even more relaxed look to the ensemble, yet it never manages to lose its importance or elegance.

 

Australia Resort 2018: The Highlights

Australia is a paradise of sun, sand, flora, and fauna, but did you know that the land down under also doubles as a fashion lover’s paradise? Ir’s true! As each season rolls by, it seems that Australian fashion week is quickly becoming a fashion powerhouse, with strong brands having spent years headlining the week and countless young brands growing into local fashion staples just as quickly as they burst onto the fashion scene.

Akle

Photo: Vogue Australia

Part of Australia’s Innovators showcase, Akle represents one of Australia’s many upcoming talents, and for good reason. Heavy knitwear is one of the hardest materials to create something elegant out of. However, at Akle, elegance came naturally in the form of a long boat neck knitted dress that paired the fun aspect of a patterned crochet kit with the edginess of a plaid bustier overlay. It allowed the look to take on a multifunctional (carrying the wearer from daytime events to evening ones without losing charm) and more impressive persona than a regular body-con stretch-knit dress.

Bec & Bridge

Photo: Lucas Dawson Photography

It seems that ’90s influences are one thing the fashion world refuses to let go of. At Bec & Bridge, the ’90s influence seemed to be discreetly sprinkled here and there. Take this sexy ensemble here for example. Everyone remembers that boxy black pinstripe suit every man and woman had laying around in their closet. And to dive even further, nothing says ’90s like a crisp white shirt menacingly slipping out from the sleeves and collar of a suit. In fact, there may even be a Mc Lyte music video that has the rapper dancing about in a black suit and bright white shirt. However, this look takes away everything that went horribly wrong in terms of fit and sizing during the ’90s and filters the essence of the decade into something far more modern and appropriate for today’s fashion connoisseur. The pairing of the leather skirt with the almost corset like long sleeve blouse infuses the look with a modern sexiness that conjures up comparisons to some of the modern fashion world’s kings of sexy like Vaccarello and Vauthier.

We Are Kindred

Photo: Vogue Australia

A long time ago in the fashion world, John Galliano flipped the script on what sexy could be. He took a simple idea, flouncy fabric, a bias cut, and a 1930s silhouette and created one of the most overlooked and underrated phenomena’s in fashion history. Forget streetwear or embroidered denim. The ’30s siren vixen dress has probably walked the runway more times than any new trend combined. However, there are ways to pull it off, and there are ways to crash and burn with this particular style. At We Are Kindred, the flouncy ’30s dress was in full swing, and they were as perfect and sexy as they were when Galliano sent them down the runway all those years ago. For this look, a soft bodysuit is paired in periwinkle florals with a stunning dress/robe hybrid that looks far more appropriate as a daytime stunner than a boudoir robe.

Bianca Spender

Photo: Vogue Australia

What would the fashion world be without gowns? Dressmaking really is the cornerstone of the fashion industry. So when a designer hits the jackpot on a gown, it’s something to really celebrate. At Bianca Spender‘s 2018 resort show, a group of gowns walked the runway with this one being the most eye-catching and lovely of the bunch. The simple combination of white, silvery grey, and copper in the fabric’s print swirl in a pattern that almost looks animalistic in nature. But that isn’t the only thing that makes this dress so stunning, the draped silhouette and sheen of the fabric itself add a sense of movement to the dress that is rarely seen outside of the couture world.

Macgraw

Photo: Vogue Australia

What is it about the Edwardian age that keeps drawing designers back to it for inspiration these days? Is it the elegantly high collars and long sleeves, or maybe it’s the notion of being able to alter clothing once meant to oppress women and turning into something sexy, modern, and expressive. At Macgraw resort, the uptight 1900’s woman was given a playfully devilish makeover with mini dresses, high waisted shorts, sequins, sheer fabrics, and an injection of mischievousness that take your great-great grandmother’s clothes from mother goose to sexy siren in one fell swoop. One of the standout looks from the show is this playful mini dress. The playfully innocent swan motif print pair beautifully with the dark and light contrast of the collar and ribbon around the neck. The bell sleeve of the dress also give the dress a modern playfulyness that’s completely relevant and on trend with today’s fashion scene.

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Talking Old School Technique and New School Design with Ken Chow of KRANE

Photo courtesy of Krane

‘Old-school leather techniques meet a new-school design attitude’ in KRANE. The rarity of the meeting of the pair in today’s fast-fashion industry is so well known that it’s become a platitude — all the more reasons to appreciate the conjoining of beauty and utility in Ken Chow’s label.

Ken has many backgrounds — he was born in China, grew up in Ontario, and studied at F.I.T. in New York; his early passion was for drawing and fine arts; and now he is the founder and creative director of KRANE. But with Ken, it’s easy to see a sense of continuity in all his endeavors, as though his efforts from early on has somehow directed him to his success today and his renowned military-inspired designs.

We recently had a chance to chat with Ken regarding KRANE, its latest Spring Collections, and what the designer likes to do in his home city, Toronto.

Photo courtesy of Krane

Hoon: Tell us about Krane’s latest collection.

Ken: Spring takes Krane into a slow(er)-fashion territory for the main Krane line. A new category called Krane Artisanal will be introduced later in the season with emphasis on handwork and reworked, up-cycled, remixed one-of-a-kind pieces. K by Krane — Krane’s more accessible line of essential carry-alls — is coming back with core silhouettes with an injection of energy.

H: Take us through your creative process. How do you begin new designs? Do you revisit your old work for inspirations?

K: As you may know, the brand has a military DNA. I have a go-to book of military uniforms that I refer to — you could say that it’s Krane’s bible of a sort — and I do a light trend research every season to update the core silhouettes. The majority of the time, it starts with the inspirational industrial or military detail, then the materials, the sketch, the pattern, the first proto, and finally the final sample. There are different names for the collections. The permanent collection is organized according to the Morse Code alphabet starting with the Alpha Collection — Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, etc. Because the inspiration and design ideas originate from specific themes, I absolutely recycle and re-explore past ideas. Fashion moves too fast at times and too often, and I feel that certain ideas are not given enough time in the market. With time, your audience grows and reinterpreting past collections allows them to be loved again and appreciated for what it is.

H: You’ve been interested in the military aesthetic since early on. What draws you to it? And what keeps you going back to its essences?

K: My attachment to the military derives from my spiritual side, which I got from my mom. I have always believed that the activities we engage in as kids are precursors to later stages in our lives; and that every event that you are in tune with is leading you to that next stage. Growing up in Halton Hills, Ontario, I entered a lot of Remembrance Day Poster Design Competitions, which peaked my interest in the military aesthetic. The Military theme has so many positive qualities associated with it. At its core, it is utilitarian and focused on good quality. It also has a sense of strength attached to it, which are all qualities that I want Krane to represent.

Photo courtesy of Krane

H: What does it mean for you to have Krane products made in Canada?

K: Canada has an abundance of skilled artisans, so keeping production local allows me to keep the products at a desired level of quality. Keeping production in the country also allows me the opportunity to create jobs in the industry. As Chinese manufacturing takes over (with the takeover of Fast-Fashion), this is becoming increasingly important for the Canadian apparel industry.

H: What would you say are the challenges behind being a creative in Canada in the context of its economy, society, and culture?

K: Economy – attaining a cost-effective production cost to meet the desired MSRP to stay competitive with the (international) market.
Society and culture – introducing forward thinking ideas into the collection due to the conservative buying habits of the majority of Canadians

H: Tell us about your time at F.I.T. and working in New York. What did you see, learn, and do? What was it like working with Geller and Plokhov?

K: F.I.T was a well-rounded fashion experience. Everything you wanted and needed to learn about fashion, they had, but the curriculum alone wasn’t going to give it to you. You had to be focused and hungry and seek it out for yourself. I attended special guest lectures by Renzo Rosso, Anna Sui, Rose Marie Bravo (CEO of Burbery in 2000); I saw the Antwerp Six (including Martin Margiela) and Visionaire exhibition at FIT Museum; I made use of workshops outside of my program to teach myself accessories design; and I scored myself a Marc Jacobs internship!

Also GenArt was huge then with their famous International Styles Competition, so I entered and won an opportunity to showcase my designs with them for the Styles 2001 Edition. That was the year I competed with Cloak (by Alexander Plokhov and Robert Geller) in the Menswear category. We both didn’t win, but we formed a friendship in the process, and I got to spend some time working with them aftewards where I learned more about precise Russian tailoring and the cool German style.

Photo courtesy of Krane

H: How has drawing and fine art in general influenced your work?

K: My dad is the artistic one in my family, and he passed onto me his gift of photo-realistic technical precision. The key to this ability is training your eye to hone in on every little detail. I think this has affected my design style in the sense that it made me a detail-oriented designer.

H: Controversies regarding cultural appropriation pops up in fashion rather often. In this context, what does it mean to be a designer with multiple cultural heritages? Or does it have no bearing in your creative process.

K: I think if Krane were strictly an apparel brand this question would have more relevance. Because my themes are niche and all fall within certain directions, this doesn’t have too much of an effect on my creative process.

H: It’s been over ten years since you moved back to Toronto to start Krane. How has menswear — its aesthetics, qualities, understanding, etc. — changed since? Where do you see it going and where do you want it to go in the next five years?

K: Menswear has changed and evolved so much since I moved back from New York. I remember how hard it was being one of the few working specifically in this area. Because there were next to zero brands focusing on menswear, it made you feel like you had to be either extremely conservative or extremely loud. Luckily I studied in NY, so I had American ties, and I was able to play in the American market, which gave the brand peers and relevancy. Because I participated in tradeshows like Capsule (one of the first Contemporary Men’s Tradeshows), Canadians started to take notice.

I feel as if menswear had this huge boom in the mid 2000’s and that, all of a sudden, overnight, there were all these new menswear designers in Canada. Fast forward to today, we have so many menswear designers now, and they are not just concerned with the tailored conservative aesthetics that we would stereotypically associate with the Canadian aesthetic. The variety in aesthetics is a good sign of growth for menswear in Canada, and I see more diversity happening in the future, especially since we promote multiculturalism.

H: What kind of positive impacts, if any, would you say fashion has on society and the culture in general?

K: Fashion allows people to dream and become who they want to be. Through the way you dress you can be the change that you want for yourself …and society, if that is your goal in life. Fashion’s constant concern with newnewnew keeps pushing the art forward and enriches life in general.

Photo courtesy of Krane

H: Changing gears, the latest collection is called Travel Essentials. What are some things you never travel without? And with those things, you have a month to travel — where you would you go and what would you do?

K: Essential items – a good duffle bag, backpack, and a nice size dopp kit (like the ones by HALEY, ANDER and MATTEO). I would take these on a trip to Peru, do ayahuasca, hang out with alpacas, and explore the ancient country.

H: What are the key pieces in your wardrobe?

K: An M-65 jacket, a good pair of denim, a solid sweatshirt, a black T, a suit, a mid-top sneaker, a Chelsea boot, and a nice pair of oxfords.

H: What is the one fashion item every man should own? Or is there no such thing?

K: A nice pair of leather boots.

H: Describe to us your ideal Sunday.

K: A bike ride (or other leisure physical activity) to the island, art gallery, or park with my favorite person(s), and then just let the day develop organically.

H: Where and what do you like to eat in Toronto?

K: I love noodles, and there’s a ramen joint on Dundas called Sensotei that is so fresh and yummy.

H: Fill in the blank: I would like to live without….

K: War.

H: Anything else you’d like to add.

K: I love tennis.

Learn more about KRANE here. Krane products are made entirely in Canada. The Krane Man and Krane Bag lines are manufactured in factories in Toronto, Canada, with the handwork done in-house.

Iconic Moments in Fashion: Viktor & Rolf Haute Couture ss 2016

Have you ever imagined what a child’s imagination would look like if it came to life? What if a child’s imaginary friend sprung from their head and began to dance around the room? That was the beauty of Viktor & Rolf’s spring 2016 couture show. Childhood memories came out to dance and play among the very adult world of fashion. Unfortunately, in today’s fashion world, we rarely get to see whimsy and childhood charm walk the runway. Designers have created brands and taken them from the realm of imagination into the realm of industry, creating an engine hell-bent on pumping the world with constant doses of trends, fast fashion, and see-now-buy-now collections whose sole purpose is profit, not wonder.

Photo: Alessandro Garofalo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luckily for fashion lovers around the world, the haute couture house of Viktor & Rolf has for years been associated with design that reaches beyond traditional fashion. While some houses’, like Chanel’s or Dior’s, primary focus was to modernize tradition, Viktor & Rolf are renowned for reinventing traditional haute couture values rather than modernizing of something that has been held dearly.

Photo: Alessandro Garofalo

Viktor & Rolf have created a brand that delves into some of Europe’s most important design niches. On one hand, V&R embraces deconstruction; they embrace the art of taking a garment apart and putting it back together in new and exciting ways. On the other hand, the brand is also deeply rooted in detail and high fashion prestige. This intense marriage of raw design and refined beauty encompassed their spring 2016 couture show. It was a dance between the cut and paste imagination of a child and the rigidness and simplicity of adult life.

Photo: Alessandro Garofalo

When we first see the collection, the clothing presented seem simple enough. A utilitarian shirtdress with a few paste on appliqués in white. A secret sprinkled here and there. Soon after, the dresses become more elaborate and more abstract. Audiences are left watching as the imagination of a child takes a simple idea and allows it to grow and blossom into something far more magical than just a cut out of an eye on a dress.

Photo: Alessandro Garofalo

As the collection progresses, the dreams of a child’s unchained mind come face to face with the stern rules of adult life. But the clash of the two isn’t what makes this collection so memorable. It’s the sheer dominance nostalgia and childhood imagination have over our adult lives. Even though the collection still adheres to its strict couture guidelines, the childhood dream world that began as a simple eye on a stark white dress grew into something more extravagant — something far more important than just fashion. The idea that Viktor & Rolf wanted to get had more to do with the flame of wonder that is ignited in childhood never truly going out than trying to parade models around in towering polo shirt totem poles for the sake of “fashion.” For both Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren, creating fashion for the sake of fashion doesn’t seem to be the name of the game. Bringing dreams to life by taking inspiration from the world around them has always been the motive and lesson at V&R couture. And it’s a lesson in creativity all future designers should be listening too.

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