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.
Berlin based studio The Medley Institute is found and led by fashion designer Jana Patz. Since 2010 she has developed a constantly growing variety of sculptural but filigree accessories and bags, which she presents at Paris Fashion Week. She finds her inspiration in materials untypical for fashion, such as wood or porcelain. Her main aim is to make these materials correspond to the wearer and the surroundings. That is why – she claims – communication and conversation are the basis for all her work: There will be new ways of reflection and unexpected suggestions for wearable objects, accessories and pieces of jewellery. That is how the design will get to be a stunning single piece in an outfit and there will be a chance of a fusion between body, textile and object. The brand name incorporates these ideas perfectly. Besides the concept, I am very taken by the fundamental clarity and powerful appearance of pieces which are visually very subtle. The latest collection, Fold & Pleat, is a mix of pure and elegant leather bags accompanied by a selection of various accessories shaped by a clear geometric rhythm. A rhythm you can easily tune in to. Photography by Patrick Houi
Some things are so ubiquitous around the internet that they just get taken for granted, even – or especially – in the design world, which is a small one indeed. So let’s set that aside for a moment and talk about Garance Doré‘s fashion illustrations. I’m not a fashionista particularly, but I do enjoy fashion design, and to me Ms. Doré’s work has always brought an extra dose of fun to that world. The line work is simple and direct, and the use of color is always limited, usually with a pop of bright tones, just enough to give it life and movement. The story of her persuit of illustration as a career is also an interesting read – her writing style is humorous, open and lighthearted, even when looking back at difficult patches, and that is always inspiring.
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.
Pure is a new shoe collection by the French architect, Jean Nouvel for the Italian brand, Ruco Line. The minimalist shoe was unveiled at this year’s Milan Design Week gaining great relevance, and strong opinion. This is Nouvel’s first footwear project as he looked for basic and essential lines to apply to the shoe design, which is a characteristic often seen in his architectural work. The result is an incredibly simplistic shoe with a strong identity. Pure is made up of high-quality calf leather with a rubber sole. The collection is available in a variety of colours, including; black, white, yellow and fuchsia. The shoe also features the abbreviated name of the design at the top along with its style, colour code, and date of production.
Building Block has delivered once again with their AW 2013 collection. Los Angeles sister duo, Kimberly and Nancy Wu, has launched yet another line to add to their seamless and beautifully crafted curation. Their latest offering is again a fusion of handsome leathers and considered disciplined design. Their signature wooden building blocks also make the cut, of course. There exists a particular drawcard in the collection, in the unique form and functionality of the Wooden Sphere Clutch. Its execution and innovation of use are to be commended. In a similar and rightfully considered vein as the rest of the collection, the integration of natural elements, namely wood and leather, are spot on. The clutch includes a seamless magnetic closer and rubber handle with smooth black leather exterior. Measuring 12.5cm in height by 25cm in width, it stands as a statement piece. With the intent of magnifying essentials and editing out excess, Building Block finds continual inspiration in returning to square one. And for this reason, I am happily along for the ride. Photography courtesy of Kimberly and Nancy Wu.
During this week’s London Design Festival, London based design brand Minimalux have announced the launch of a range of new minimalist products. One such announcement was of their natural vegetable tan leather sleeves for the iPad, iPad mini and iPhone. This is the result of a collaborative project with leather goods specialists, MES. Traditional hand skills and saddlery tools are used to make these tough, durable leather sleeves. Each one is hand stitched with strong beeswaxed linen thread, hand burnished and hot stamped with the Minimalux mark. The leather is untreated other than a light coating of mink oil to protect it from moisture, allowing it to age naturally and develop a rich dark golden colour. Admittedly, not the cheapest of accessories, but there’s no denying these are high end, beautiful sleeves.
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.
Recently I have been on a search for a beautiful new minimal backpack to serve my everyday needs, but at a reasonable price. A search that is not as easy as you may think. Of course, I have come across many bag designs over the years, many of which however, have been discontinued. Just yesterday, I discovered Derbyshire based accessories brand, C6. Their range of accessories includes this beautiful and protective minimal backpack, ideal for laptops and various tablets. Available in two sizes; Large (37cm x 50cm x 25cm) and Small (32cm x 45cm x 25cm), the backpack is also available in two colours; Black and Olive. The large black version is particularly appealing and currently tops my wish-list. Further backpack suggestions are always welcome.
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.