Milan Men’s Fashion Week Recap

Milan is the name and graphics are the game! This spring, designers brought the same precision to classic, tailored looks that we expected. However, graphics distinguished their pieces this year. While these details allude to fun and vibrancy for the coming fall and winter months, what they also do is indicate a theme or attitude that the brand is trying to convey aside from the pieces themselves. Here are the highlights from Milan Men’s Fashion Week!

PRADA

Prada’s futuristic theme paid homage to old and recent comic books. The setting had a comic strip mural wrapped around the venue. The models sported multiple looks, each one showing a unique way of showcasing the theme. A truly unexpected show from the brand and definitely a main standout from Milan this season.

FENDI

Fendi is known to use small, random style graphics in their pieces. This season, a desk light was repeatedly seen. The random embellishment placed over muted colour stories and and oversized pieces added depth to the looks and brought playful detailing to what could otherwise could have been seen as a more understated collection from the brand.

VERSACE

The use of graphics and patterns was nothing short of what’s expected from Versace. Nevertheless, the collection had a superb mixture of patterns and pieces with colourful images that looked exceptionally vibrant against the dark and edgy, black pieces. The use of graphics added an element of fierce confidence.

RALPH LAUREN PURPLE LABEL

The all-American Ralph Lauren shook things up (slightly) in his Ralph Lauren Purple Label as he played up the Tour De Ralph theme, while still staying true to his red, white, and blue combinations. Graphics were used to play on the athleisure theme, which was placed on some very tailored and old-school varsity type pieces.

DSQUARED2

Dsquared2 is always known to have standout, fashion-forward pieces. This season, they did not disappoint and played up contrasting pieces to create a shocking and unique look. The brand contrasted the very edgy leather pieces theme by adding Hawaiian, floral, and colourful graphics, which allowed each individual piece to standalone. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say the brand took inspiration from envisioning Edward Scissor Hands going on a beach day!

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Tried and Tested- Clean Intensity This Season at Marc Cain

German brand Marc Cain is really something to explore when thinking about how you will update your summer wardrobe this season. I visited the store in the CF Toronto Eaton Centre location, and found the pieces to dignify their wearers, as the pieces are clean and minimalistic. You can complete a look by only wearing two items as the patterns and fabrics stand out.

I find it hard not to accessorize and add extra pieces such as scarves, belts, hanging sweaters, etc. in order to make the outfit my own. However, the stylists at Marc Cain had such confidence in their clothing that it encouraged me to only try on about two pieces per look. This allowed me to see the strengths in the pieces by themselves. I find this season at Marc Cain to be fun, flattering, sophisticated, and stylish!

Here are my top 5 favourite looks from my Marc Cain trip.

FAN OF THE FAN PANT

These wide leg pants are flattering as their silhouette is emphasizes at the legs. The size of the wide leg is incredible and when standing, it looks like a dress. This is paired with one of the store’s white tops that has a light and baggy feel to it. Out of the store, to make it more ‘me,’ I would wear these pants with a band shirt on a casual day, and a fitted-sheer tank if I were going out. And if I were ever at a party close to water, this would definitely look great over any bathing suit.

AN ELEVATED SHIRT DRESS

As we drift into summer, we are going into a “no pants zone”, meaning it’s WAY too hot to wear certain styles of  pants. This shirt dress is fun, sophisticated, and is perfect for an evening dinner or something else that is semi-casual. This is the only outfit that I added accessories to. I paired it with a Marc Cain belt and their jaguar scarf. Marc Cain does a great job at mixing patterns within colors palettes so I thought mixing the patterns here was on-brand but also a hint at my personal style. If you’re not a huge accessorize-er, this dress looks amazing on its own as well.

PERFECT PAIRINGS

This outfit was suggested to me by a staff member, as this mix of patterns has been shown on popular talk shows recently. As individual pieces, the silk pants are a summer staple with an amazing fit and the jacket gives you that tailored feel and is both edgy and playful. I can definitely see myself wearing this to an event and would try my hardest not to add too much to it as the two pieces speak all on their own.

THE PERFECT SUMMER SHIRT

Between the colour, the fit, and the style of this shirt, I really can’t say what I love most about this look. It is so simple yet stands out that I truly did not want to take it off! I paired it with some beautiful, slightly oversized straight leg jeans (now on sale) because I wanted to be cautious and not have something too busy get in the way of this blouse. Wear it to dinner, wear it on a walk, wear it to a party, wear it EVERYWHERE— it is a stunning piece that deserves a place in a summer wardrobe.

‘MATCHY MATCHY’

Last summer, we saw a lot of matching body-con skirt and shirt combos as well as fitted suits. The trend continues this season but with a different fit. I love the baggy look! It gives off the vibe that you are both carefree and conscious of what goes well on you. Not exactly my style but once I had it on, I loved the outfit. I totally think that investing in a good summer set is a great idea when wanting to have a standout look.

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A conversation with Robyn Clarke: Head of the National Ballet School’s Wardrobe and Costume Department.

Ballet has held the title of being the most poised and elegant, yet physically demanding style of dance for centuries now. Its grace and beauty are equally matched with a sense of determination and raw athleticism. This year, Toronto’s prestigious National Ballet School hosted the Assemble International, a prestigious and exciting event that brings 21 ballet schools from around the world to Toronto for a chance at experiencing one another’s curriculum. The most interesting and rewarding aspect of the event is an intermingling of international students under one roof, allowing for strong relationships and wonderfully beautiful collaborations to take place.

Recently, Novella had the chance of speaking with Robyn Clarke, head of the Canada’s National Ballet School wardrobe and costume department on just exactly what it means to be a ballet costume designer in a world hell bent on moving away from tradition.

Photos courtesy of Canada’s National Ballet School and Eighty Eight Agency

Christopher Zaghi: The first question I’d like to ask you is about the Assemble Internationale itself. The Assemble Internationale takes place every four years, can you tell Novella’s readers a bit more about the event itself?

Robyn Clarke: Our part in the Assemble is to prepare for all of the performances with international schools and NBS, so, they all arrive over the weekend and classes start on Sunday. Each brings two to eight students and they partake in classes and workshops. They also bring their own repertoire, and that’s what we’ve been working on for the last few days. AT the end of the week we’re having a choreographic workshop with returning NBS alumni, there are some pretty cool people on that list, and that’s going to be with a blended cast. SO international and NBS students.

CZ: I saw that there are 11 countries being represented at this year’s event. Do you find that different countries and schools place the importance of their wardrobes differently?

RC: No, I think that’s the nice thing about ballet is that it’s really similar. I mean we might have schools that do more things themselves, but wardrobe plays a very important role and they take care of it.

Photos courtesy of Canada’s National Ballet School and Eighty Eight Agency

CZ: Ballet Fashion has always popped up throughout the years. You have designers like Lacroix who are inspired by ballet. Recently bodysuits and leotards have become a very big thing in fashion. Why do you think that is?

RC: Personal opinion. I think it’s because leotards are pretty breathable girls like it that their shirts don’t ride up so it’s nice when they stay tucked in. And the nice thing about leotard is that you’re able to move in any way that you need to. I think that’s what brought it back. Also, it was kind of big in the 90’s.

CZ: Does designing costumes for ballet differ from high fashion design or haute couture design?

RC: I think so because at the end of the day functionality is the most important thing. If they can’t dance in it, they aren’t going to use it. So you’ve essentially just wasted your time. But beyond that, aesthetics are still very important, but functionality overall.

Photos courtesy of Canada’s National Ballet School and Eighty Eight Agency

CZ: What do you find most rewarding about costume design itself?

RC: It’s just really nice to see your work on stage and to see it working with dancers. One time, one of the dances here said to me “I really appreciate the work we’ve done together.” They talked about it being a collaboration being performer and costume, so for me, that was a really special moment. Knowing that work that I do helps them and that we work together to make what you see on stage possible.

CZ: Could you through a typical day of what you would do here at NBS?

RC: Sure, everyday kind of differs. Ever since I’ve started working here, it’s always been challenging in new and interesting ways. But usually, I’m just working on certain projects at certain times of the year. Sometimes I’m making tutus, sometimes I’m shopping, sometimes I’m designing, sometimes I’m making lists, sometimes I’m doing fittings, it just depends on the time of year. But for an average day in the fall, I’ll spend doing tutus. I’ll measure the students, and then I figure what we need to build, then I’ll order all the supplies.

Photos courtesy of Canada’s National Ballet School and Eighty Eight Agency

CZ: How much time generally goes into the construction of a costume?

RC: A really great way to answer that is with a practice tutu. It’s a half tutu, so it’s just the net and the knickers and the Basque which is the belt that attaches it to the waist. So that itself takes about 20 hours to build so you can just imagine a fully decorated costume, which can take 150 hours or more depending on the design.

CZ: Are most of the National Ballet school’s costumes made entirely by hand?

RC: It’s a blend of purchasing and designing. Often you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for in the size, colour, and quantity that you need. So often I do make a lot of our leotards and costumes.

Photos courtesy of Canada’s National Ballet School and Eighty Eight Agency

CZ: Do you think the ballet world has moved towards contemporary costume as opposed to historical costume?

RC: No, I think there’s a nice blend. This year we’ve seen a lot of nudes and mesh, a lot of mesh. Mesh T-shirts, mesh tank tops, mesh leotards, you name it, it’s in mesh.

CZ: Personally, what do you prefer, historic or contemporary?

RC: I feel like I like both. They both have their place. The shows are a perfect example of the blend. We had a lot of the schools doing classical works and the other schools doing new repertoire. So there’s a lot being stored in our wardrobe.

Photos courtesy of Canada’s National Ballet School and Eighty Eight Agency

CZ: Do you have any particularly favourite costumes in the wardrobe department?

RC: That’s a hard one. A few years ago we did a piece called chalkboard memories, which we’re doing again this year, the girls wear these kilts with nude leotards while the boys wear these kinds of grey uniform pants. There’s a couple that is the chalk couple, so they’re completely made of chalk. Their school uniforms are done in black with the chalk outline, which is really cool. I think that’s one of my favourites.

CZ: Do you think someone in the fashion industry could transition into the ballet world as a costume designer?

RC: Yes! A lot of them actually do.

Photos courtesy of Canada’s National Ballet School and Eighty Eight Agency

CZ: With major fashion houses like Carolina Herrera and Rodarte making costumes for the New York City ballet, do you think schools and dance companies will over towards designer costumes?

RC: Often the difference between schools and dance companies is that they have different funding structures, so never say never, but those costumes that the New York City Ballet have are pretty expensive in relation to things that are made in house.

CZ: Do you think it’s important to keep the detail-oriented and intensive design process of ballet costume design alive rather than looking for more cost effective methods?

RC: Absolutely. I think at the end of the day, performance costumes like tutus and tunics all look the same for a reason. I mean it’s years of development to make them look like that and once we kind of lose that detail and handcraft, they’ll be no getting it back.

Photos courtesy of Canada’s National Ballet School and Eighty Eight Agency

CZ: Do you have any advice for future costume designers that may read this article?

RC: I guess I’d say take every opportunity you can. Even if it’s not necessarily a well-paying gig, often just learning more about the body is totally worth it in the end. Making connections with choreographers and with dancers will really take you places.

Photos courtesy of Canada’s National Ballet School and Eighty Eight Agency

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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.