Natural growth. This basic principle is not only valuable for UK based fashion label Cotton Love‘s fabric choice, it is also their very healthy idea of developing a brand. Having established a neat niche online shop which started out as a vintage curation platform, it is a natural and highly welcomed next step to establish Cotton Love’s in-house collection for both sexes, galvanizing the style and attitude of its trustful customers. It is no question that the Kickstarter funding project, which is a requirement to start production, will be a success. Launching via Kickstarter on a pre-order basis ensures that, as a small independent brand, we are able to fully realize our vision, manage production quantities and maintain manufacturing within the UK. I really like the attitude of founder Nigel and creative director Ruth, focusing on independence in a very competitive industry. But, more importantly, being a potential future customer, I love the very pure and refined clothing they design, focused on honesty of construction and a distinguishable identity.
Coming across LA based designer Kieley Kimmel’s Autumn Winter collection Revolt, She Said, was refreshing because it has both masculine and feminine details in a warm, approachable quality that we don’t come across often in high fashion brands. This collection was inspired by a strong feminist essay by Donna Haraway and named after a book by the philosopher-feminist Julia Kristeva, yet in contrast, the general feel is soft and understated. I can’t help but appreciate that it is this balance of androgyny that heightens the minimalism in the art direction, a revolt that our expectations of feminism isn’t always what we’re used to. Photography by Logan White.
Protagonist is a new label with slightly less feminine details yet maintains the silhouettes that, one might say, reflect the modern woman of today – of comfort, confidence and style. As the designer Kate Wendelborn, who is behind this line of the new label, reaffirms that the clean, minimalist direction is a lot more work than it looks: I spend a lot of time to make each piece look effortless. Subtleties – of shape, fit and material – allow Protagonist to be worn in either an elevated way or a more casual way. Indeed. I love how she has used the men’s pinstripe in a simplified women’s suiting. Calf leather, silk crepe and sculptural wool are so rich as materials themselves, yet tell another story when designed around the calmness and simplicity within Wendelborn’s collection. This collection was a collaboration with renowned minimalist stylist Vanessa Traina and photographed by Paul Maffi.
It is a very special thing to be invited by the highly reputable Le Chambre Syndical de La Haute Couture to present a collection during couture week in Paris. It must feel even more special to be the first designer to do so with a complete unisex collection. The talented man who received this honor was Jordan born fashion designer Rad Hourani. After relocating from Montreal to Paris in 2006, he established his namesake haute couture collection and a ready to wear line named RAD by Rad Hourani. Both lines focus on a luxurious but stark look, cut in razor-sharp precision. They are asexual, aseasonal, they come from no place, no time, no tradition, yet they could be at home anywhere, anytime. They exude a sense of discreet chic, the essence of timeless style, drawn on a monochromatic and graphical canvas. On the occasion of the brand’s 5th anniversary, Montreal based art center phi. invited Rad Hourani to curate an interdisciplinary show presenting the designers work in the context of his inspirations. The doors will open today. If you are in the area, don’t miss it.
Two designers, Starr Hout and Laura Cramer set out on a trip to explore the austere texan west. Inspired by the beautiful but harsh landscape they decided to found a clothing label called Apiece Apart. Back in their home town of New York they go to work designing a collection of simplified, impeccable garments. The idea is that it could be packed into a single bag and mixed and matched to fit any occasion or scene you might find yourself in. Starr Hout, one half of A Piece Apart, explains: I will go hiking in Apiece Apart, and I love that. I think that is just so cool, and I wonder why more people don’t hike in silk and linen. Upon examining the beautiful, well chosen fabrics and the chic but simple shapes of the A/W 13 collection, the suggestion seems all the more tempting. I adore the way Hout and Cramer fit color into the winter concept. Color is mainly used to emphasize the shapes and the high quality of fabrics. It is not ornamental, but used as a shade of light to sculpt the silhouette. Just like the texan landscape is mainly structured by light and shadow.
Overall, Fashion Month was very disappointing. However, perhaps the fall of big houses give rise to smaller brands, such as Cédric Charlier. Rather new to Paris Fashion week, the Belgian designer’s collections have been solid, with evidence of impact from his two years workmanship under Michael Kors for Céline. His runway for Spring Summer 2014 might not be minimal or even sophisticated, but the clothes completely contrast this. With Eastern inspirations, very clean cut garments were sent out, primarily in black, white, and navy. The hanging belts seem extraneous sometimes, but subtle elements like the black elastic blazer holder in look 10, with a starch white base, grab my interest. The trend for this season seem to be sheer blocking, and this can again be seen through the striped dresses toward mid-show. I especially love the sequin dresses at the finale, due to their ironic image. Here, they are matte, mute, and modest – a perfect way to leave the audience wanting more. The collection only consists of 30 looks and I must give praise to Cédric Charlier for the ability to edit. Some can argue that he didn’t have enough people or budget to curate 70 looks at once...
You can trust Jil Sander to deliver the right amount of minimalist language to the youthful, sportier line, Jil Sander Navy, at the recent New York Fashion Week for her Spring 2014 Ready-to-Wear collection. Blocks of subtle pastels coordinated within the collegiate identity of A-line skirts, mod collars and bomber jackets. Capped sleeves and boatnecks hint at stronger femininity, defining the chic in its overall design direction. Even the introduction of tropical prints are subdued, embedded in the texture. It is the masterful proportions of the clothing that reveal Jil Sander’s minimalist identity which remains the protagonist within the playfulness of the collection, even in the art direction of the presentation. It is simply lovely. Photos courtesy of Style.com.
Although Fashion Month had run its course through London and to Milan, there’s one collection that still pulls me back to New York: Lacoste. People often disregard its capability, or should I say Felipe Oliveira Baptista‘s capability, in terms of design aesthetics due to the lodged image of the brand’s well-known polo shirts. But it is the understated collections that hold so much of Lacoste’s spirit. Spring Summer 2014 is like a ballad to its preceding Fall Winter 2013. Structures were broken down into flows with crisp contours covering hem lines in the first few looks. Those lines then widen as the collection progresses, becoming strips of sheer that reveals the skin underneath. Eventually, at the end of the collection, the garments become completely translucent. By engulfing the whole body and showing it to the audience, in a way, it’s showing the most important element of sportswear: the body. Needless to say, Lacoste Spring Summer 2014 is one of my favorite collections so far. It’s poised, simple, clean, and wearable. And by that, it’s asking the consumers to re-evaluate the brand for its designs, and not its popular image. Photos Courtesy of Style.com
And so Fashion Month has just begun with its start in New York City. When talk about minimalism in fashion, one can’t help but think of Helmut Lang and his legacy. Although the designer departed from the house in 2005, the new duo of Nicole and Michael Colovos makes sure that the same aesthetics are still carried throughout. For Spring Summer 2014, the conversation of the garments seems to be Hello sports, please meet minimalism. The collection was shown with a strong number of black and white pieces, all slouchy and much less structural from their previous collection. The monochromic show was broken by sheer fuchsia dresses, with prints that reminisce of Piet Mondrian, held up with only two thin straps. In a way, that fragility gives an elegance to a much less formal vibe. Comfortability was what the Colovos strived for and that can be seen apparently from the start to the end. Helmut Lang S/S14 sets up a strong promise for the upcoming fashion weeks and I’m excited for that. Photo Courtesy of Style.com.
The Australian label Bassike is well known for their structured collections that emulate both minimalism as well as the carefree attitude of beach living. In their Spring Summer 2013 Women’s Campaign, each piece appears well tailored while looking relaxed; chic in the minimal palette and elegant in forms and material. Reputed for using high quality in material and an emphasis on local production, Deborah Sams and Mary-Lou Ryan, the duo behind the label, always design with comfort in mind for both sexes: The beauty of bassike is its appeal to men and women whose easy-going style still requires an element of subtle luxury. Bassike’s very specific aesthetic is influenced by the contrasts of loose australian beach style and the integrity and simplicity of japanese design. Draw-string and dropped-crotch pants have not looked any more stylish on women with Birkenstock sandals. This collection Bassike has taken relaxed luxury to another level.
Devon-born and London-based fashion designer Charlie May (of the blog Girl a la Mode fame) launched her Autumn/Winter ’13 collection in the beginning of the year, giving continuity to her signature minimalist, androgynous style. The collection plays with solid, pure colors and instances of sheer transparency, gravitating stoically from pure white to pure oxblood, going through blacks and grays. In counterpart to the contained color palette, May plays with layering and materials, adding texture and depth to her pieces. The collection is bold and equally ethereal, two interesting contrasting sentiments. The collection’s styling and makeup, achieved with the strong red lip look, add an impeccable finish to the whole. I’m quite enamored with the featured long white dress myself!
Matthew Ames is an American fashion designer, graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. With a minimal aesthetic much comparable to Christophe Lemaire, Ames started his own brand in 2005 in New York. In 2011, the designer took a break for a tutorship at the Savannah College of Art and Design. For Spring 2013, Matthew Ames came back to the fashion scene with a collaboration with Weekday simply called Prairie. Prairie is a loose-silhouetted collection whose garments show off a certain ease both to the mind and to the eyes. What’s exciting about the collection is the excess use of denim, a fabric of casualty. Nevertheless, different shades of blue denim embrace every stitch – presented through square pockets, mandarin collars, deep slits, and asymmetrical cuts – giving an elegance to the collaboration. Ames said: It’s about focusing on what is integral to the design. It’s something quiet, but powerful. Photos Courtesy of Weekday.