Sunday, March 31, 2013

Plastic Fantastic: Melissa + Karl Lagerfeld

Earlier this month, Karl Lagerfeld revealed his capsule range for accessible Brazilian “jelly” shoe brand, Melissa, via a campaign starring Cara Delevingne. The Lagerfeld-lensed images, which depict Ms. Delevingne as a leather-clad bondage dominatrix, stirred up the requisite buzz. And last night, at the label’s Soho boutique, the wares made their much-anticipated New York debut. Featuring a range of pointy plastic flats and sparkly ice-cream-cone-heeled pumps, all of which are fruit scented, the collection boasted a subversive, but almost silly sex appeal. Naturally, this was only enhanced by Lagerfeld’s snaps, which were displayed at yesterday’s fête. “The shoes are amazing, and they smell so good,” offered Delevingne. “In one of the photos, I’m drinking Champagne out of them, so I got to know them pretty well.”

Since launching over thirty years ago, Melissa has worked with some pretty impressive collaborators—Jean Paul Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood, and Jason Wu among them. On hand to discuss the latest joint effort was Melissa’s US CEO, Michele Levy, who noted that Lagerfeld “wanted to capture who we are.” (However, the photo shoot, she affirmed, was “Karl’s touch.”) “We are a Brazilian brand, although we’re in 71 countries, and he wanted to embrace that spirit.” One pair of pumps shown in the colors of the country’s flag was particularly patriotic.

The capsule marks the first time Lagerfeld has worked with a Brazilian label, which, apparently, was one of the draws. “It’s something I didn’t really know about,” said Lagerfeld when asked about Brazil’s fabled sensuality. “That’s why I wanted to work with Brazilian people, to better learn how that works.” As for conceiving plastic shoes—another first for Lagerfeld—the designer said it was “fun.” “I have nothing against plastic. I love plastic. I’m plastic myself! You know, it’s a fashionable material today.” But, he insisted, making the once taboo material luxurious was not one of his goals. “Luxury is not modern,” he said. “The whole idea of this was to make a modern shoe.”

Melissa + Karl Lagerfeld will be available in New York at the brand’s Soho store, and at Bloomingdale’s, from April 5.

Tao Okamoto Trades the Catwalk for the Silver Screen

Although she starred in the recent Mario Sorrenti-lensed Rihanna for River Island campaign (above), Japanese model Tao Okamoto has largely been missing from the catwalk. And now, our suspicions as to why have been confirmed. The trailer for the new X-Men film, The Wolverine (out this summer), was released today, and guess who plays Wolverine’s (i.e., Hugh Jackman’s) love interest, Mariko Yashida? Sure, we know the stigma surrounding the “model-slash-actress” title, but perhaps Okamoto will follow in the footsteps of peers like Milla Jovovich and Amber Valletta to make her mark. Take a peek at Okamoto’s acting debut in the film’s trailer, below.

Killer Shoes

A sufficiently outrageous shoe exhibition, featuring eccentric specimens like ice-cream-topped go-go boots, platform heels that look like evil anime characters, and pink-poodle sneakers, bowed in Germany today. Titled Starker Auftritt: Experimentelles Schuh Design (Strong Step: Experimental Shoe Design), the show, which is set in Leipzig’s Grassi Museum, brings together over 150 of the world’s most bizarre kicks, many of which are one-offs. Compared to the wares made of pins, straw, and cutlery, the swirling, sole-less Mojito sandals by architect-turned-designer Julian Hakes seem relatively normal, and even comfortable. However, we suspect that Barbara Zucchi’s vampire-slaying shoes—complete with garlic cloves and a pointed wooden-stake heel—are less wearable, no matter how aesthetically amusing they may be.

Starker Auftritt: Experimentelles Schuh Design will run through September 29 at the Grassi Museum, Johannisplatz 5-11, 04103 Leipzig, Germany; +49 341 9731900 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Past Meets Present at Mumbai Fashion Week

Mumbai’s Spring/Resort 2013 fashion week wrapped on Tuesday. In a roster of roughly 80 new and established names, most designers deftly balanced a modern sensibility with India’s rich legacy of fabrics, colors, surface ornamentation, and its most ancient silhouette—the sari. For instance, Sailex Ngairangbam (above, left) presented a pre-pleated sari topped with a T-shirt instead of the conventional, heavily embellished, rib-skirting choli. “My business was suffering because I wasn’t designing traditional Indian wear,” admits Ngairangbam. “Sadly, that’s where the money is. The way out, I figured, was to get into the sari and lehenga-choli space, but with modifications.”

Ngairangbam isn’t alone. “I’d be a fool to shy away from Indian craftsmanship,” says Kolkata-based designer Nupur Kanoi. Her Spring collection borrowed from masculine shapes like the Pathani (loose pants), safari suits, trenchcoats, and military jackets. The wares were sparsely embellished with Ari work, a technique native to Kashmir of using beaten gold on fabric.

Old and new sentiments were seen in Namrata Joshipura’s range of sorbet orange, acid yellow, and pop pink skirts, pleated palazzos, jackets, and shorts (above, center). A closer look revealed intricate Indian workmanship and proved she was willing to catch up with the present without abandoning the past. Meanwhile, Anushka Khanna collaborated with London-based artist Rewati Shahani to to transfer images of buildings and birds onto separates via digital prints, appliqué, beading, and threadwork.

There’s no question that India’s designers offer a wealth of creative contemporary clothes, but tradition was still a Spring focus. Veteran menswear designer Narendra Kumar offers one explanation: International trends don’t make economic sense for his ilk. “For me, it’s not trends, but stories that matter. My fashion is not disconnected from the society I live in,” said Kumar, whose collection, Thought Police, took a potshot at the Indian government’s recent attempts at silencing youth protests. The show began with beige, yellow, blue, and orange—colors representative of youth—before moving to grimmer shades.

Suhani Pittie seconds Kumar. “Indians prefer to invest in classic pieces,” said the jewelry designer, who turned out a tribal-inspired Spring range of copper and acrylic (above, right). “And that works for me, because my forte is Indian with a modern twist.”

Salvatore Ferragamo Launches Fashion Foundation

ITALIAN fashion house Salvatore Ferragamo has established a foundation that aims to encourage and educate prospective fashion talent.

The foundation, entitled Fondazione Ferragamo, will be based in the label's birth place, Florence, and will involve a curriculum based on the values of the label's namesake, Salvatore. Wanda Ferragamo - his widow - said of the foundation: "Young people are the engine of any society, the force that ensures continuity and the future. They must have the chance to demonstrate their worth and their abilities."

In addition to offering training and support, the foundation will also grant awards and scholarships to selected students and arrange cultural events in collaboration with the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum.

"Adults, institutions and businesses are responsible for giving them these opportunities," Mrs Ferragamo continued. "Providing them with know-how, creativity, technology and, above all, the desire to move forward, to overcome all obstacles - values exemplified by my husband's life and his life's work." 

Victoria Beckham Enters E-Commerce

VICTORIA BECKHAM has launched an e-commerce website . While the label's former digital home served as a way of showcasing lookbook pictures of recent collections, the designer's latest site is the first time the brand has offered online shopping.

"My new website has been in the making for a very long time," said Beckham. "It was so important that the concept, tone and look of it were true to me and my aesthetic and that the shopping experience was the very best that it could be for my customer. The site will be ever evolving featuring never seen before insights into my world through the medium of film. I'm incredibly excited with what I have created and the unique access to the brand I am now able to offer."

The site is divided into two sections, Look and Shop. The first option gives users the chance to watch show footage, documentary content and browse collection inspirations and latest news, while the second category features the designer's handpicked selection of spring/summer 2013 pieces.

The website will sell Icon - a line of ready-to-wear dresses inspired by the label's most popular designs and available exclusively online - in addition to accessories, eyewear, denim and Beckham's contemporary line, Victoria, Victoria Beckham.  Customers will be able to shop from the UK, USA and Europe, although there are plans to expand to additional regions in the future.