KARL LAGERFELD FOR FENDI (50th Anniversary)
Partnerships are aplenty in fashion, but none has been as enduring as the collaboration between Fendi and Karl Lagerfeld. With 2015 marking the 50th year since Lagerfeld signed on for design duty, it was fitting that he would oversee the brand's first couture collection in its 90-year history in July. And it was haute fourrure, no less.
“We didn't have the space in the [Autumn/Winter 2015] collection to do high fur, because ready-to-wear is now doing so well,” he told British Vogue. “There's the market for [couture], so I thought it could not be a bad idea to show the top of the craftsmanship in that business,” he said of the fur extravaganza on FT.com. The show gathered not just buzz but also People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) protestors outside the venue. “It's very easy to say no fur, no fur, no fur, but it's an industry,” Lagerfeld countered, pointing out that workers would lose their jobs if it weren't for the use of fur in fashion.
Following the phenomenal success of its Bag Bugs, it made sense for LVMH to elevate Fendi's status as the go-to brand for fur. However, a couture presentation may not be a permanent arrangement, due to the growing scarcity of fine fur, Lagerfeld acknowledges. Launched around the same time as the collection was Fendi by Karl Lagerfeld, an aptly titled book that immortalises the longest relationship between a designer and a fashion house. The wooden box-enclosed tome delved into the Fendi archives to gather brand logos and a selection of 200 sketches drawn by Lagerfeld over the five decades. More access to the enigmatic designer comes via a 50 question-and-answer interview. A poster comprising 50,000 thumbnails of his sketches and a DVD of him sketching while sharing his memories of the Roman house offer further insight.
3.1 PHILLIP LIM (10th Anniversary)
The profile picture on Phillip Lim's personal Instagram (@therealphilliplim) shows him with his head turned away. Scroll down and you'll see more of the same, apart from the occasional selfie with his godson. This sums up his modus operandi — in the open age of social media, Lim prefers to let his work speak for him.
As he prepares to celebrate his 10th anniversary in the business, it is still the case with his Autumn/Winter 2015 collection, except he's now ready to break from his tried and tested. Dangling straps, handkerchief hems, frayed denim, distressed lace and eyelash knits all convey a sense of movement and at the same time, the process of disintegration, as if this was his way of deconstructing the 3.1 Phillip Lim aesthetic he'd established in the past decade.
It's also notable that he has given shearling — featured regularly in the past five years — a miss. Bright colours are eschewed in favour of a darker, moody palette that underscores this tougher attitude. This yearning to deviate from the norm was also seen in his new ad campaign shot in Bhutan. Travelling with only photographer Viviane Sassen in tow, he wrote on his label's Instagram: “No models, no hair stylist, no make-up, no stylist, no worries.” There and then in the Himalayas, he cast local girls Tshewang Zangmo and Dawa Pem, as well as 70-year-old trek guide Phago for pictures that exuded raw, natural beauty.
While the break could signal a next chapter, Lim will always be recognised as a leading figure in the New York wave of Asian-American fashion designers. The Thai-born Chinese has established a fast-growing label with a thriving wholesale business and four free-standing stores in New York, Los Angeles, Seoul and Tokyo. “I would never do this alone. Hell to the no. There's a lot of pressure. Wen shields me from a lot of it.” Lim said to Fast Company of his business partner Wen Zhou. The Ningbo-born CEO is credited for her business savvy and knack for sourcing fabrics and managing production — leading 3.1 Phillip Lim to that sweet spot between strong fashion direction and high-quality construction at accessible prices.
To commemorate the brand's 10th anniversary, a collection of five signature bags will be released in Metallic Tin hue. Christened Tin for Ten, the collection is limited to a total of 200 pieces worldwide. Singapore will offer three of the styles — the Mini Pashli, the Soleil Small Bucket Drawstring and the 31 Minute Cosmetic Zip — at its Marina Bay Sands boutique this October.
GIORGIO ARMANI (40th Anniversary)
Giorgio Armani was 40 when he set up his own business. Now his brand — a multimillion-dollar fashion juggernaut that spans ready-to-wear, diffusion lines, leather goods, watches, eyewear, cosmetics, fragrances, home interiors, hotels and even confectionery — has its turn celebrating its 40th anniversary.
New product releases commemorating the event started with the limited edition Le Sac II bag. Launched in March, the top-handle tote gets its name from Armani's birthdate and the headquarter's address in Milan. Customers can customise their bag with a choice of croco skin, tanned leather or calfskin in various colours.
Armani also launched an entirely new womenswear line that hit stores in June. With the “New Normal” collection of timeless pieces, he makes the point that a designer can be relevant to the modern woman without following trends. “It will show how I think today's women should dress,” Armani told Women's Wear Daily. “The idea is to start from classic designs to create a new classic. It's a collection meant to last, which will be renewed as we go but will remain rooted in the classic style.”
The line-up goes beyond fashion. The Vespa 946 Emporio Armani moped is a joint celebration with Vespa, whose parent company Piaggio Group celebrates its 130th anniversary this year. The special edition scooter is dressed in a blend of grey and green earth tones, a nod to Armani as the King of Greige.
He also unveiled a four-storey megalith exhibition space Armani/Silos, filling it with a showcase spanning his 40 years in fashion. The jaw-dropping 600 garments and 200 accessories are arranged by theme, not chronology, and the mix of showpieces will be changed every six months.
To top it all off is a lavish book of memoirs slated to be released this month, which will include the who's who of photographers and icons in the fashion world. His team has also launched a celebratory website — atribute.armani.com — that showcases a visual history of the influential brand, including a compilation of its memorable ad campaigns.
RICCARDO TISCI FOR GIVENCHY (10th Anniversary)
Riccardo Tisci's daring proposition of drawing street influence into haute couture and his injection of sensuous mystique into Hubert de Givenchy's aristocratic elegance has brought the House of Givenchy to new heights of cool.
Only 29 when he took the helm of womenswear (spanning ready-to-wear, accessories and haute couture) in 2005, it wasn't long before the Italian was entrusted with menswear and its accessories in 2008. Never one to go by the book, this move afforded him a refreshing sense of liberty in his approach to gender distinction. Under his vision, the Givenchy woman epitomises strength and confidence; the Givenchy man is self-assured with no qualms of even putting on a skirt. His men's shows often turn up female models and he even cast his transgender personal assistant Lea T in the brand's Autumn/Winter 2010 campaign.
Such defiance keeps the Parisian luxury house firmly on the fashion radar. Growth of its business in America has prompted a New York flagship and Givenchy is taking its Spring/Summer 2016 women's runway show to New York for one season only. In Singapore, the Paragon flagship will double in size for a brand new look that will reflect the evolution of the Paris concept store, which draws inspiration from the iconic Givenchy boxes used to deliver haute couture garments.
Meanwhile, Tisci's first bag for Givenchy, the Nightingale, has turned 10 too and the designer has revitalised it without its superfluous T-seam on the front and 4G logo on the handles. He has even released a fun furry rendition in limited numbers.
One can expect more from Tisci, who has expressed a desire to create a more holistic brand. “I want to make Givenchy a lifestyle,” he told Financial Times. “Because I can see the versatility of the label — from the kids in the clubs, to the women in the dresses. When I signed with Givenchy, I said: ‘I'm not going to leave here until the company is where it should be: A lifestyle brand.' I would love to make Givenchy furniture and a line for children. People didn't understand that at the beginning: They thought that every season should be a trend. I don't want to be a trend designer. I want an identity.”
GARETH PUGH (10th Anniversary)
Most remember it as just yesterday when Gareth Pugh unhinged jaws over his conceptual designs, so it may come as a surprise to some that it's already the London-based designer's 10th year in the fashion business.
Actually, it's his 20th, if you consider that he actually started out a decade earlier as a 14-year-old costume designer for London's National Youth Theatre — perhaps the reason why outré runway spectacles, futuristic fantasies and unwearable art have become his calling cards.
But from the onset, Pugh had influential supporters in the fashion fraternity, namely Anna Wintour, Hilary Alexander and Michèle Lamy, who he had met while interning for her husband Rick Owens in 2004. His partnership with fashion consultant and financial backer Lamy in 2006 afforded his collections luxurious materials such as leather, cashmere and mink.
Another collaborator since 2012 has been Brazilian shoe brand Melissa, with whom he marked his 10th anniversary with a three-month retrospective (ended in May) at Galeria Melissa in London's Covent Garden. His iconic looks were all styled with Melissa shoes and art-directed by Pugh himself. Melissa was also the lead sponsor of his comeback Autumn/Winter 2015 show at London Fashion Week, where its shoes shod Pugh's models.
A gothic, all-black ode to Britannia, the presentation also marked his return to home turf for his anniversary, having presented in Paris since 2008 (save for his Spring/Summer 2015 presentation in New York). Between the imposing face-framing collars and Grim Reaper hoods, and the grandiose volume of full skirts were almost feather-like outer pieces made of hand-cut drinking straws.
“It hasn't been easy, but nothing of value is ever won without sacrifice — 10 years is a massive chunk of my life. Giving up was never an option,” Pugh shared with Wallpaper.com. “I've had the opportunity to do such amazing things and I've worked hard to maintain the original point: To do something singular and compelling.”
ALEXANDER WANG (10th Anniversary)
New York's Prince of Cool is on a roll. In April, he was included in Time magazine's list of 100 Most Influential People of 2015. In July, after three years at the creative helm of Balenciaga, he confirmed his final collection for the Spanish brand would be presented this October (a departure nowhere as sour as his predecessor's, nor as controversial as his own appointment). Days after the announcement, wasting no time in expanding his eponymous fashion house, he unveiled his first European flagship boutique in London. The label celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.
To mark the milestone, he will launch a “greatest hits” capsule collection at boutiques and online this month. The 10-piece collection was voted by fans on Instagram (using the #WANG10 hashtag) from an initial selection of 25 designs he pulled from his past works.
What's next? Bigger things to come, if this nugget he revealed to W Magazine is any indication: “I've always seen fashion as more than just clothing,” he said, citing Ralph Lauren as an example. “He can do furniture, he can do restaurants — a whole lifestyle. People know what he wants without him having to even say it.”