Tag Archives: Fall Fashion

Has New York Fashion Week Lost Its Luster?

This is the first February, in a very long time that I have not gone to New York City for fashion week. While I used to have a first-hand account of the over-saturation that is fashion these days, I have no choice but to rely on viewing the collections posted to Style.com and reading the witty wisdom and talent of fashion writers like Vanessa Friedman (http://nyti.ms/1wJFNwy) and Cathy Horyn (http://thecut.io/1CixejB) – who held nothing back this season.

Between the two of them (and many more) it was made abundantly clear that fashion week just isn’t what it used to be – and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Friedman, who dubbed the ever-expanding spectacle “fashion month,” was concerned about finding focus among the “hundreds of shows in four cities on two continents.” Horyn, was refreshingly blunt with her “colorful” language, and after having been out of the industry for quite some time, was able to come to fashion week with a different perspective, one that helped her see the “yawning gaps” and “oversaturation” of the business. I think they were both trying to be upbeat, despite the state of affairs.

Of all the reports I saw, fashion week was over-run with an over-arching trend to revisit the 70’s. Platform shoes, suede coats, copious amounts of fringe and an abundance of psychedelic patterns ruled the runways. Now, I realize the millennials have yet to experience the fashion statements of that decade, but I’ve lived through it twice – once in the actual decade that was the 70’s, and again when it had resurgence in the 90’s – and sadly fall 2015 fashion is not experiencing a fresh take.

From where I sit, revisiting the 70’s seems a little too safe for my taste, and I was really hoping that more than a designer or two would take more risks and go deeper into territories unknown – and a few did, but in doing so really just pushed the limits of all things absurd instead.

As I scrolled through show after show, image after image, I began to wonder why this theater of the absurd had become the choice. I wondered where the middle ground that represents the socio-economic climate of the times was. Instead I kept seeing regurgitated “looks” pumped out and every critic giving it a sartorial “thumbs up.” And it solidified, for me, that just because you call yourself a critic and claim to have an opinion, it doesn’t make you an expert or an authority in fashion. The truth is, you don’t have to “be” in fashion to know that everything looks the same.

If you want to know how I really feel, there is just so much bad taste out there – and good taste is not being honored…and it’s sad.

I feel for those who tried to cover fashion week this year. Summing up hundreds of fashion shows in one week…in the middle of some of the worst snowstorms ever…with nothing to write or talk about. Caught between the mediocre and the absurd, witnessing designers using crowd sourcing as a way of putting out their collections. Don’t they understand that by doing so they aren’t creating a desire for what they do anymore? Don’t they see that they are creating a paradigm of repetitiveness, and there is only so long a consumer can stay on the hamster wheel with nothing new presented to them before they become bored and turn their backs on an industry that can only continue to deteriorate?

I could relate to Cathy Horyn, and I sensed her struggle as she looked for bits and pieces to write about so she wouldn’t come across as some old lady. However, I don’t believe for a minute it’s generational, I think it’s just not so good anymore. I find fashion to be redundant, and not really what consumers want or need.

I have a profound appreciation for those who expose their jugular veins and really take risks in fashion. But they have to put their necks out with purpose, not simply to put on a show.

I’ve been surrounded by the business of fashion my entire life, and have been standing next to it for the last couple of decades, at least. And when I look back to the fashion of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s through the 90’s, it was apparent that designers of those times were really putting a mark on a world that they greatly influenced. Now I can’t help but wonder, who is making a mark, where is the passion, what is the legacy that is going to be left behind?

I wonder.

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Meanwhile, in Paris…

Each season I board a plane to Paris and expect to find some inspiration when I land. I attend shows and visit showrooms; I talk to other businesswomen and men; I meet with designers and exchange ideas with magazine editors…all in an effort to find and bring new ideas and inspiration back to Boston.

I don’t want to sound like a curmudgeon, but as my trip came to a close last week and I found myself ready to come home, I realized that overall, I wasn’t so inspired.

Actually, I’m quite happy with what I bought while I was there, and I had no problem committing to the designers and ideas that I did, but I’m glad I went into it with a definitive point of view – because when people walk into the major department stores in spring, I don’t know if they’ll be able to find one. Sure, you’ll see the trends – but inspiration? I’m not so sure.

I really enjoyed what designers like Haider Ackermann, Jonathan Saunders, Victoria Beckham, and Roland Mouret had to say, but beyond that most everything else smelled quite unauthentic. It seemed the creative air was sucked out of the city in some odd way. Paris has always been about the artistry, but more and more it’s become about going “global,” and the art is getting lost.

I understand that the name of the game is the bottom line, but we can’t forget that ingenuity has paved the road to the bottom line for many incredible designers throughout the ages. There is no question that fashion is losing its edge and becoming too commercialized overall. Authenticity is becoming lost and not only is it affecting the subconscious behaviors of consumers, it’s taking an evident toll on the industry itself.

One of the last shows of Fashion Week was Chanel. Karl Lagarfeld transformed the Grand Palais into a Paris Boulevard and it seemed, a feminist protest. Models strutted together in a large group, shouting with and without megaphones, carrying posters to protest…I don’t know what, or more importantly perhaps, why. Was it a protest of fashion? Quite honestly it left me feeling confused, not inspired.

It seemed there was a sense of anti-fashion off of the runway as well. I couldn’t help but notice the fashion bloggers who are usually very well dressed were a bit more casual in Paris. I saw a lot of boy jeans and white shirts and man-style shoes, indicating that none of them wanted to fall into fashion? I got the sense that Tommy Ton didn’t know what or who to shoot because everyone was dressed so similarly. Nary a Christian Louboutin heel or Céline bag could be found. The tone was definitely toned down and it felt unsettling to me that people were holding back.

Other unsettling news came via WWD where I learned that New York would be adding five new 250k square foot department stores to the borough of Manhattan. Why? So they can sell everything on sale? So the conglomerates that own a great deal of the fashion space can continue to seek a dominant space in the market? At what price?

Quite often I feel like Vanessa Freidman, Fashion Director and Chief Fashion Critic of the New York Times, is one of the only other people who sees what I see, and is willing to talk about it. If you read her articles it’s clear she wants to know what the purpose is of fashion these days, and why the industry is behaving as it is. What’s going on and what’s it really all about? Do we need another paparazzi picture of Kim and Kanye arriving late to a fashion show?

Unfortunately, my need for authenticity and integrity wasn’t quite satiated this season. It seemed the designers wanted to say or demand something, but they didn’t quite know what it was – and it’s for this reason that the reaction of the industry to build more toward dominance seems quite counterproductive at this time.

My hope is that the industry starts to see and dismantle the hamster wheel they’ve built for consumers to build an appetite with, and instead find ways to encourage consumption that has some meaning behind it. Find a way to encourage originality and authenticity, and understand that people want to devour that even more.

Meanwhile…I’m walking around the city streets of Paris wearing pieces that I brought from Boston. Pieces from Louis, past and present – all mixed up but with a distinct point of view. People were stopping me, asking me how I put things together – finally something to talking about!

…and so I ask, do you really care where Kim and Kanye are today?

Haider Ackermann

Haider Ackermann

Jonathan Saunders

Jonathan Saunders

Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham

Roland Mouret

Roland Mouret

(all images: style.com)

No Categories. No Repeats. No Hesitations.

I suppose it makes it easier for everyone when fashion and fabric are separated into categories. And it’s probably safe to assume that when the typical consumer walks into a department store, large or small, it’s easier to ask where the silk blouses are so both they, and the sales person, will know exactly what the shopper is referring to.

But to be honest with you I’m beginning to feel like the “category” has seen its day, and that day is passing – at Louis anyway.
Right now, when you walk into Louis, you’ll find carefully curated pieces that don’t fall absentmindedly into any particular category, and that’s just the way I wanted it. Designers including SUNO, GOAT and Proenza Schouler have all created spectacular garments in matching and/or coordinating fabric that ironically make them some of the most versatile pieces you’ll find for the Fall 2014 season. While pants are pants, and skirts are skirts, and dresses are dresses – what goes along with them are not tops, blouses, or jackets. Instead they are pieces that compel you to discover how you want to embrace and incorporate them into your life. Wear them together or wear them apart – they are stunning, and they are going to allow you to really own your individuality.

The other half of the affair I’m having with fashion this fall has arrived in the exploration of innovative fabrication. From GOAT’s denim wool crepe fabric, to Proenza’s viscose knits and razored leather and wool, to Otto’s ultrasuede, to Simone Rocha, Alice Roi, Jonathan Simkhai, and Jacquemus’ bold and beautiful use of neoprene, technology has gone further than it ever has and is ultimately answering the needs of a generation.

Neoprene? Yes. Neoprene. Invented by DuPont scientists in 1930, it thrills me to no end that designers have taken hold and are using it for something other than what it was originally made for – as they should! The fabric has incredible flexibility, provides stunning shape and volume, and keeps you warm without adding any additional weight.

Even after all this time that I’ve been in the business, I still find a fashion season like this to be incredible. Overflowing with innovation that gives us all an opportunity to honor those who refuse to fit into a category and purposefully create things that should be seen and touched and APPRECIATED.

For those who find satisfaction in discovery…I look forward to meeting the women who are bold enough to wear these looks this season.

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GOAT

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SUNO / Proenza Schouler Shoes

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Jacquesmus / Robert Clergerie Shoes

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Proenza Schouler / Paul Andrew Shoes

“Loose Luxury” – Fall 14 – @Louis_Boston

For the first time since I’ve been in this business, I find that the evolution of fashion has moved us into a moment of androgynous, and/or ambisexual dressing. I suppose you could say punk and deconstruction flirted with the notion, but today any distinctly feminine element you may have found there have all but been omitted.

It’s no secret that I’ve been attracted for some time now to the casual, luxury, athletic inspired designs that line the racks at Louis, and as we move into fall, that tone continues to evolve. A lot of the new pieces arriving here hold on to those sensibilities, but increasingly they are embracing androgynous qualities that effortlessly accompany them. And it’s been interesting to observe our customers as they approach the new season because I’m finding the pieces I have bought, whether cut for men or women, show very little difference in the nuance of the design, yet they are being very well received and appreciated by both sexes.

In particular, pieces from Baha East and Greg Lauren.

Baja East, the recently launched brainchild of Scott Studenberg and John Targon is a new line to Louis. Studenberg and Targon met while working on the wholesale side of the businesss for Lanvin, and Celine and Burberry respectively, and come to us in Boston with what is only their second collection.

Creating clothing that “everyone wants to wear all of the time,” the pair has coined their look “loose luxury” and produce pieces that are easy and casual, but finished in luxurious fabrics.

From their sleeveless hoodie made out of the softest glove leather you will ever lay your hands on, to another made from luxurious pony hair – I saw the collection in their showroom in New York, and I knew you had to have it.

Greg Lauren, Ralph’s nephew, has also created quite a buzz at Louis with his incredible distressed pieces. Since 2011 he has been finding vintage army duffle bags and tents at flea markets and vintage dealers, and manipulating them to create collections full of astonishing contradictions. The pieces for men and women differentiate a bit, but I didn’t buy that way for the season. Instead I bought similar pieces for everyone. His cashmere patchwork coats look and feel like nothing you’ve ever seen before and his exquisite, yet casual pants have sold out for women and soon will for men.

And while I would like to say the success of both lines at Louis should be attributed to my good taste, that’s honestly not the case. It’s truly just the confluences of things that are going on right now. With no other real way to describe it, pieces from both designers are just very “now,” and that kind of says it all.

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Make no mistake about it, the mainstream industry at large doesn’t quite know how to describe it either, but they are determined. True to form, the fashion rags (magazines and trade publications) want so badly to talk about this new incarnation of luxury, but they first need to categorize it and make it accessible to everyone by lining it up nicely along side of the “athletic” inspired brands of the moment (think LuLu). And while one could argue that there are shared components as things relate to comfort, the Common Project sneakers and the elements of Baja East and Greg Lauren are truly in a category unto themselves, yet there is nothing categorical about any of it.

Not to mention the fact that each and every garment produced is made purposefully, by hand, one at a time. And you won’t know what that means in terms of unique look and delicious feel if you are shopping from your computer. You simply have to try it on. The garments are made to drape differently on every body. You really have to throw out your ideas about traditional sizing because some prefer these pieces more fitted, and others with a little more room. Either way they look fabulous but they have to be tried on.

And this is what I’m referring to when I speak about the evolution and movement in fashion. Your jeans are an option, but now they are only that…an option. If you embrace new ideas and are open to evolving the way you think about clothing it’s inevitable that you’ll find pieces that may not replace your favorite jeans, but they will certainly make you think twice before automatically reaching for them. You have options now – Incredible, luxurious, forward thinking, innovative, versatile, striking options.

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Nothing thrills me more than when a customer comes to Louis, sees what we have to offer them, and understands the philosophy behind it. They get it.

Just last week a woman came in and grabbed a pair of Greg Lauren pants that were washed and dyed to give them a very unique look and texture. She put them on her body and her face lit up. Before we had a chance to explain anything to her she was explaining to us how she would wear them with heels or sneakers, and dress them up or down as the occasion dictated. When she said she thought they would look great if she wore them under a silk slip for an evening out I couldn’t hold back my smile. She had to have those pants. She got it.

These pieces that embrace “loose luxury” represent a new way of dressing and a new generation. The designers are really putting their stamp on things and owning something fresh that is also holding steadfastly on to luxury and elegance.

When you come to Louis I want you to discover incredible pieces and understand that you can use them in ways you never would have considered before.

I want you to invest in a wardrobe you actually want to wear…

And I promise you will.

 

Baja East

Baja East

Baja East

Baja East

Baja East

Baja East

Greg Lauren

Greg Lauren

Greg Lauren

Greg Lauren

Greg Lauren shirt, Belvest jacket, Haider Ackermann pants

Greg Lauren shirt, Belvest jacket, Haider Ackermann pants

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Discover Kiton, Cashmere for Fall. Luxury Like No Other.

I would hope this goes without saying, but it’s important that you understand I’m not just out here preaching about EXPERIENCE and APPRECIATION. I live it.

I want you to know that I don’t buy for Louis, and ultimately for you, from my computer. Doing so would be insulting to all of us, including the artists/designers who work tirelessly to craft impeccable garments that must be seen and touched to be appreciated. In my every effort to keep Louis looking and feeling like Louis, and make sure it never morphs into a “trendy” department store, I step out from behind my own computer and travel the world so I can ensure that the pieces I intentionally bring back to Boston are like nothing you’ve seen or touched before.

With that said…

While we’ve all been enjoying the sights and sounds and smells of the summer we never thought would begin, I find myself looking forward to seeing the leaves change color and feeling the slight chill that Autumn brings to Boston every September. New items for the season have finally started to make their way to the store, and while I am excited by every piece that comes in, none excite me quite like the menswear that has arrived from Kiton – especially their cashmere.

If you live in Boston, you simply have to have a different kind of appreciation for cashmere. We all need outerwear that’s deliciously warm, and while a puffy down parka will suffice, albeit awkwardly over a suit, it will never look and feel as luxurious as cashmere. In menswear, most outerwear cloth is purposely created to be an in-between weight that translates just fine in other parts of the world, but it just doesn’t work here in New England. Do you remember last winter?

When you visit Louis you will see cashmere from Kiton you likely won’t see anywhere else. From luxurious overcoats crafted from 600 grahams of blanket soft and incredibly warm cashmere, to lightweight cashmere jackets that look wintery, but feel comfortably cool. Offered in rich palettes that include beautiful browns, bright blues, and interesting olives, it’s immediately apparent that the man who shops here simply isn’t interested in adding another navy blazer to his wardrobe. The man who shops here is looking for depth and dimension, and Kiton delivers.

Not only will you see things here that you likely won’t see elsewhere, the shopping experience at Louis is also quite different. While other stores only offer “try on” pieces in navy or gray, along with fabric swatches to confuse you and make you wonder what your garment will actually look like once your order comes in, we want to do better. And we do so by investing where others won’t.

The bottom line is, when I visit the Kiton showroom I like to take some risks. Risks that other stores won’t take because having pieces handmade in interesting (and expensive) fabrics to carry in inventory is just not within their comfort level. Perhaps they don’t have enough confidence in their buyers, or perhaps they don’t have enough confidence in you. So in the end, they put the risk on you – with a navy “try on” and a 6-inch swatch.

Me? I’m I more than willing to take that “risk” because I have confidence in Kiton, I have confidence in my experience as a buyer after all of these years, and I have confidence in you.

Kiton has a taste level that’s unparalleled in the industry. They are the best at what they do, and I have no problem investing in the best.

Once you come in to DISCOVER and APPRECIATE the Kiton tradition of luxury, you won’t be able to live without it either.

Trust me. Try it on.

 

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