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Cracow Fashion Week keeps on evolving and renewing itself

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Special Review & Interview by Agata Mayer, Editor-in-chief

After 20 years of experience the Cracow School of Art and Fashion Design (SAPU) has achieved a high standard and an excellent reputation in the fashion industry, locally and overseas. As the only private fashion school in Poland, SAPU has received the Honorary Golden Thread – a prestigious award for distinguished individuals and institutions in fashion. Its graduates work in top fashion houses, for such icons as Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, John Galliano or Claude Bonucci. Thanks to SAPU’s diploma show and an intensive promotion of its graduates, the City of Cracow was in 2013 described as one of the world’s fashion capitals ranked higher than Moscow, Frankfurt, Vienna, Miami, San Francisco and Rio de Janeiro. The Diploma Show Cracow Fashion Awards takes place in late March, where the best collections, as the highlight of the school’s academic year are presented. The show is always attended by many distinguished guests, international experts, industry representatives, gallery owners and media. And it is just a small part of the Cracow Fashion Week – a huge, artistic event jam-packed with diverse workshops, lectures, fashion shows and exhibitions of graduates’ paintings, drawings, photography and jewelry works.

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Agata Mayer (Fashion Culture Magazine) amongst the international Jury. Photo by Tytus Kondracki

As fashion expert and one of the main partners, Fashion Culture had the pleasure to sit in the Jury with international guests to judge highlighted collections from Poland for picking winners in each category. 2 days of competition, 38 applicants, 14 wisely selected collections classified to the Cracow Fashion Awards and in the end just a few winners. Hardly sharing views on whose collection is the best, Fashion Culture decided to grant a private award to the collection that explored rhythm and lines – Laura Slepowronska caught our attention.

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INTERVIEW

There was nothing new. Nothing that swept me off my feet. Out of habit I was looking for something out of the assembly line, something that doesn’t follow the rules and undergo the collective judgment. I was looking for a collection that would be addressed to the 21st-century fashion explorers. Instead, I saw the copy-paste phenomenon, trashed styling, vain attempts of experiments, empty promises. While waiting for any kind of new ideas, I noticed only one outstanding collection. By challenging current codes and by combining contrast, deriving inspiration straight from the 1950s, Laura Slepowronska proved that she is able to create something authentic, that will protect us from the pre-packed shapes, we are constantly pushed into.  Playing with different shades of black and pastel blue, Laura brought out the youthful femininity characteristic for the 1950s and showed it on the catwalk during the Cracow Fashion Week 2015. Her bell-shaped silky skirts and hand knitted cashmere sweaters with three-quarter sleeves caught my attention. Each look reminded me of the neat, versatile and chic shirtwaist dress popular in the 1950s as the ‘ultimate uniform’ of US women.
I met up with the talented Laura right after the Cracow Fashion Awards to grant her our magazine’s award and talk about the ‘ÉCLAIR’ collection. Afterwards, she mentioned it was her runway début .

Agata Mayer: What was your motivation and idea behind the ÉCLAIR collection?

Laura Ślepowrońska: Fashion needs to be aesthetic, appropriate and useful. That is why I focused so much on proportion and good quality fabrics. I wanted to create a ready-to-wear collection inspired by women from the 50′s. I wanted it to be feminine and delicate, but also outstanding by using diverse fabrics like leather, jacquard, lustrous nickel, seagrass and mohair yarn (a silk-like fabric).

A.M. What was the biggest challenge while creating?

L.Ś. To be careful not loosing myself in making up theories and unnecessary philosophy around my own concept. To remember that it is an universal, timeless and well-designed product. It is always a big challenge to create compatible pieces and at the same time so diverse. It is too easy to follow existing patterns, so I truly recommend to get out sometimes and clear your mind focuing on something completely different.

A.M. Just mentioning, you had your show at Cracow Fashion Week / Cracow Fashion Awards this spring. How did you like it?

L.Ś. Oh, I will remember this year’s Fashion Week for a long time. It was such an important day for me. The show lasted just a few minutes but the feeling seemed eternal! For me it was a shot of adrenaline that allowed me to be in two or even more places at the same time. It also forced me to stay focused. There was no place for panic anymore! I must say, it was – and will be – a really addictive feeling. Definitely worth waiting for this moment!

A.M. What were the biggest challenges preparing the show?

L.Ś. Time, or rather the lack of it, is the biggest objective. You have to be really focused and self-disciplined to make it all work. Suddenly everything depends on you and the decisions you make. All details need to be worked out and really precise. You should concentrate on details and overall look at the same time. It is really challenging.

A.M. How did you feel when the show was over? You received a lot of positive feedbacks – didn’t you?

L.Ś. Physically I was really tired but it was a good feeling. I was thunderstruck when I realized how many people appreciated my work. I got such a positive feedback receiving so many awards. I knew I was heading in the right direction. To release the tension after the show I went out for a party with all my closest friends. It was an amazing night!

A.M. Looking back, how and when did your passion for fashion design begin?

L.Ś. In our home everybody likes to dress up. We have always taken great care of our looks. We give each other advices and talk about this a lot. When I was a little kid, my mom taught me how to distinguish the best and the most precious materials. She loves silk, cashmere cotton and linen – all natural and high-quality, never synthetics. She taught me how to love all that too. I have always been thinking about fashion, so one day I have just decided to start sketching, painting and sewing. Finally I started designing my own things at Cracow School of Art and Fashion Design.

A.M. Has Cracow influenced your collection? If so, in what way?

L.Ś. I have been living here for three years now and I have to say that I really like this city. There are some places that stimulate creativity a lot and they are always far away from home. The best ideas always come during my travels.

A.M. What does the future look like for you after graduating from KSA?

L.Ś. I am planning to start working on my second collection soon and to show the final result during the Fashion Week, next year. For sure I would like to paint and to draw more. Also a few trips already planned, so to be honest I can’t wait to get a new boost of inspirations and motivations and to see where it will take me.

A.M. Thank you.

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Photographer: Gabriela Bazan

Model: Katarzyna Kmiotek

Make up: Agata Pikulska

Designer: Laura Slepowronska

Assistance: Ewa Manka

Take a quick look at other highlighted collections. Enjoy!

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Anna Pietrowicz

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Joanna Organisciak-Plachta

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Magdalena Orzel

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Katarzyna Haratym

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Paulina Fiuk

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Monika Wierzchowska

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Marta Kapala

 

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FASHION CULTURE JOINED FASHION REVOLUTION!

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Review by Agata Mayer, Editor-in-chief

FAST FASHION IS NOT FREE. SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE IS PAYING…

I am more than sure you all have heard of the Fashion Revolution Day! Or maybe not…
Two years ago, photos of the unimaginable devastation at a clothes factory that collapsed in Bangladesh shocked the entire world.
1133 people died in the Rana Plaza catastrophe in Dhaka, Bangladesh. A further 2500 were injured. They were killed while working for familiar fashion brands. For me, one of the most surprising aspects of the Rana Plaza disaster was that, afterwards, many brands did not know whether or not they had been producing clothing within the building.
“We knew a disaster like this was going to happen,” Orsola de Castro, co-founder of Fashion Revolution Day, tells Mashable. “There were workers complaining about the infrastructure for months but were threatened with being fired if they did not show up to work. There was so much wrong that could have been prevented, which is what prompted outrage.”
“It’s a very unclear process, finding everything from fabrics and fibers to what the supply chains are. The truth is, the companies don’t want to know where their fabric is from. The less they know, the less responsibility they feel they need to have. We’re at the point where apparel brands need to be accountable.” said Linda Greer, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and health director of Clean by Design.

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THE TRUE COST!

Fashion Revolution is a global coalition calling for systemic reform of the fashion supply chain. It is the catalyst that brings together those who want to see change within the industry. It raises awareness of the true cost of fashion, showing the world that change is possible. It is a simple but important connection between us – fashion lovers and the people who made our clothes. Whether you are high street or high end, independent designer or a large brand, fashion lover, blogger or wherever you are in the world – you should join this initiative. It is about re-connecting broken links and celebrating the relationship between shoppers and the people who make our clothes, shoes, accessories and jewelry – all the things we call ‘fashion’.
“We aren’t just purchasing a garment or accessory, but a whole chain of value and relationships,” said the people behind Fashion Revolution.
Fashion Revolution is about building a future where an accident like this in Bangladesh never happens again. Last year this action reached number 1 trending worldwide on social media such as Twitter and got over 8 million Google hits. Fashion icons, celebrities, supermodels, artists, designers, academics, press, writers, business leaders and parliamentarians lent support to the campaign. This year, the movement was even bigger.

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Business of Fashion hosts a special extended preview of the new film, The True Cost. Source: Fashion Revolution’s Fanpage

BE CURIOUS, FIND OUT and DO SOMETHING!

On Friday the movement was calling us all to upload a pic of our clothes inside out with a hashtag #whomademyclothes and #fashrev. Social media was being flooded with images of garments showing the labels to raise awareness of the true cost of fashion and to celebrate best practice. For instance, established designer Stella McCartney shared with her million-plus Instagram followers a picture of herself wearing a jacket from her collection inside out, with the caption: ‘Show your label and ask #whomademyclothes for Fashion Revolution Day’.
“If companies don’t know how and where their products are made, then there’s no way for them to ensure their workers are protected,” said Orsola de Castro, co-founder of the event. “Transparency is important because it shows a company’s willingness to be held accountable for its supply chain and this builds up public trust.” Fellow co-founder Carry Somers added: “The fashion industry supply chain is fractured and producers have become faceless. This is costing lives. We have incredible power as consumers, if we choose to use it.”
Knowing who made our clothes requires transparency, and this implies openness, honesty, communication and accountability. Changing the world is possible. By using the power of fashion we all are able to inspire a permanent change in the fashion industry and reconnect the broken links in the supply chain – the whole chain of value and relationships. In 2015 we focus on transparency. Why? Transparency is not that easy. It involves fully understanding how your business runs and with whom it works. This is a journey for our industry to celebrate those who are doing something about it. Transparency means that companies know who makes their clothes – at least where they are stitched as a first port of call – and then communicate this to their customers, shareholders and staff (in accordance to the Fashion Revolution Report).

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HOW TO CHECK IF YOUR CLOTHING IS ETHICALLY MADE?!

 

Looking down at what you’re wearing now, do you exactly know who made it and where?

• Make a research where it’s from – even a simple web search
• Buy less, choose well, make it last
• Go vintage and try to exchange your clothes and accessories
• Reduce and recycle
• Buy organic – many companies started offering organic lines. By purchasing organic materials, you’re adding less to the landfills full of clothing that cannot decompose

The Fashion Culture Team encourage people. I personally encourage people to start asking ‘who made your clothes?’ in order to initiate human connections throughout the supply chain. By asking this question you support worker welfare. It is extremely important to stay focus and be curious. You have to remember that the Fashion Revolution Day is the day on which we all celebrate fashion as a positive influence, and all those who contribute to making it so. It will rally the innovators, the buyers, the shoppers, the media, the commentators, the activists and everyone in between. Everyone!

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Scandinavian Minimalism

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 Interview by Agata Mayer, Editor-in-chief

Since 1950s Scandinavian style has been associated with highly functional design inspired by nature and the northern climate. In Sweden this ‘Modernistic Spirit’ is called funkis and it transformed into what we today know as Scandinavian Minimalism with all its clean, beautiful, uncluttered, minimal elements and simple lines.
I caught up with Annaleena Leino Karlsson – a Swedish designer and interior stylist – and asked a few questions about her understanding of minimalism, proportion and her passion.

Agata Mayer: Why Minimalism?

Annaleena L. Karlsson: I didn’t really plan to create minimalistic design, I just happened to fall for simplicity and explicitness.

A.M. You work with exciting materials. Can you explain your working process? Are your designs developed in the process or do you prepare yourself by making a lot of sketches and technical drawings?

A.L.K. My design is developed in processes. Often I choose the material first, and then comes the shape. I usually sketch a rough outline, but the design is mostly developed gradually through samples.

A.M. How is it to experiment in the matter of minimalism. Is it just simplifying?

A.L.K.Minimalism isn’t simple, really. You need to find a balance and a distinctiveness, which takes courage.

A.M. Do you have any favorite materials to work with?

A.L.K. I prefer raw, genuine materials. Steel is a favorite. Stone as well.

A.M. Can you explain what good design is, through the objects placed in your studio / apartment?

A.L.K. I believe an object should highlight the character of the room. Bringing beauty to the room, adding a little extra to it – like a pair of shoes that makes the outfit even better.

A.M. What fuels you when you are developing something?

A.L.K. Innovative ideas. Usually shapes. Explicitness. Things that awakens something within me.

A.M.  Is there a project that you are particularly proud of?

A.L.K. It’s hard to pick one. But I love projects where I’ve been asked to design a custom-made product for a customer and the result is appreciated. Like when I designed a counter for a photographers studio.

A.M. You also work as a Set Designer. What qualities does a person need to have nowadays, to become a successful Set Designer?

A.L.K. You need to stick out, to dare. And you need to be socially competent. Often you work in different teams, and it is preferable if you like to cooperate…

A.M. What defines a beautiful piece of furniture in your opinion?

A.L.K.  It must have personality, character. A simplistic shape, and be made of natural material – for example stone or wood.

A.M. How do you live personally? How important is furniture in your own home?

A.L.K. It is really important. I don’t own especially many design classics, but I choose carefully every object that gets over my doorstep.

A.M. Have you ever thought about entering into the fashion branch and start working with recognized fashion photographers and clothing brands?

A.L.K. I’m not planning to, but I wouldn’t say no to it. I enjoy different projects. And I also believe that interior design and fashion aren’t far from each other. It wouldn’t be foreign to mix the two of them, but rather exciting.

A.M. Are there any designers that influence you more than others?

A.L.K. Absolutely. Faye Toogood from UK, as well as a bunch of Japanese designers. And I also love Finish design.

A.M. What do you like to do besides designing?

A.L.K. I like to photograph, and to style. To combine these three things are my favorite.

A.M. Thank you.

 

 

Below a sneak peek of Annaleena’s living.

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All pictures are shot and styled by Annaleena.

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Getting Animal – Getting Warm

agata-mayer-getting-warm-fendi-furs-staying-warmSpecial Review by Agata Mayer, Editor-in-chief

Fashion Weeks came to an end. It’s been a hectic period jam-packed with exciting activities, business meetings and jet lag feeling. The most prominent fashion weeks are held in the four fashion capitals of the world: Milan, Paris, New York and London. But more often, everybody’s eyes are looking at other corners of the world, where countries like Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, China, South Africa, Russia, Singapore, Mexico are going to set tongues wagging, in a very positive way. Fashion Weeks held several months in advance of the season. From January through April designers showcase their autumn and winter collections. From September through November they present their spring and summer collections. This season, furs and animal prints were a common denominator on the catwalks.

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KEEP CALM & LOVE FUR

In the 90s, Italian designers celebrated the return of high-voltage fashion. Their fascination with animal skins and luxurious furs evoked an impression of decadent glamour. Leopard, cheetah and zebra prints that have long provided inspiration for fashion designers are back again. In contemporary fashion, wearing animal skin is interpreted as a desire to convey predatory instincts. A spotted woman in a animal coat might represent the archetypal femme fatale. Italy became an international centre of fashion after World War II. During the 1950s, combining traditions of Parisian haute couture with the Italian aesthetic the Fontana Sisters designed clothes for many Hollywood’s world-famous divas, such as Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor or Ava Gardner. They specialized in luxurious evening wear that contrasted perfectly with the softness of the silver fox stole draped around the arms.
In addition to animal prints, real fur had to finally find a way of interpreting it in fashion without compromising ethical concerns, having the animal rights movement from 1980s and the both national and international legislation from 1973 against it. Karl Lagerfeld, which originally specialized in fur and luxury leather goods, being creative consultant to the Italian Fendi modernized the label and changed the perception of fur as a conventional symbol. Nowadays, over 70 % of recent catwalk shows featured fur, from Marc Jacobs or Louis Vuitton to J. Mendel, Max Mara and Marni.
But there are still anti-fur designers such as Stella McCartney. She has never bowed to pressure to use leather or fur in her collections and has even resisted the lure of faux-fur in the past. But suddenly she has created a cruelty-free collection for Autumn/Winter 2015 with faux fur. Being asked why, she answered: “I feel like maybe things have moved on, and it’s time, and we can do fabrics which look like fur, if we take them somewhere else”, adding “Modern fake fur looks so much like real fur, that the moment it leaves the atelier no one can tell it’s not the real thing. And I’ve struggled with that.”

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Fur, fake or not and animal motifs played a key role throughout this season. It is said, that in fashion world leopard is a color. Animal prints are timeless, chic and always in style. The leopard trend never fades that easily and can be used in almost any form. This year’s catwalks showed more wildness and savagery than ever. For instance, Raf Simons, Dior’s creative director turned to more raw and primal inspirations for the Autumn/Winter 2015 Dior collection. He pushed fashion boundaries again. From floral, romantic, emotional pieces to swirling psychedelic panther prints and strong, contrasting colors. Christian Dior first offered leopard print in 1947, which was revolutionary at the time. Today, it doesn’t bother anyone anymore. Roberto Cavalli’s ready-to-wear collection displayed an array of ombré dresses, fur coats and iconic animal prints. “Instinct? I like that word,” said Miuccia Prada after her show. Her collection was also full of multi-colored leopard and python prints and dense patterns.
Is the fashion industry trying to force it on us or maybe society is finally ready to embrace fur?
Take a look at some ‘furry’ printed fashion statements.

House of Holland show, Autumn Winter 2015, London Fashion Week, Britain - 21 Feb 2015

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Image source: www.vogue.co.uk

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The next generation in fashion

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Special Review by Agata Mayer, Editor-in-chief

I was invited to the Sneak Peek experimental show organized by the second-year fashion students of Beckmans College of Design. The message was simple: thirteen students presented their individual collections of three outfits each. After crossing the threshold of Beckmans Designhögskola I was surprised by modest but still very nice ‘welcome treatment’. Strawberry smoothies, cookies and some drinks – as a nice gesture while waiting for the pre-presentation. A white carpet referred to the event, sponsor’s logos and typically Swedish minimalistic mood of the displayed pre-presentation, marked the route to the room where the bags full of gifts were waiting for the newly arrived guests.
I must say that at the beginning I was very sceptical, watching one collection after the other. I didn’t see anything new, I didn’t see anything that stuck in my mind. For being  second-year fashion students – collections were really good, but being the second-year fashion students of Beckmans College of Design, I expected something more. Not only ‘plastic’ influences drawn from the 90s techno-generation. I was aware that presented textiles and garments have been crafted by hand and that every collection was diverse and rooted in the students’ ideas and visions of what experimental fashion can be, by researching and analyzing fashion communication, media and society.
For sure, I was impressed by the spectacular video effects and the well selected music. Without exception, music plays a vital role in the interactive process of audience behavior. In this case, tempo, volume and genre influenced a lot, changing the powers of my observation. A pure visual entertainment that held the attention and interest of the gathered audience.

“In search for authenticity and dignity the communications students decided to tell thirteen different fashion stories using models, styling, body, face and camera movements only, without other props. With fold-out sheets in the catalogue and names partially visible they emphasize the fashion students work and create a sense that the industry successively unveils and discovers their work. From now on everything can happen!” – said Annika Berner, Course Director Visual Communication. Marie O’Connor, Course Director Fashion added: “To look is one thing, but to really see means to scrutinize and question what is and what can be.”
Following her words, I started to look deeper and suddenly I was astonished by a few really well–composed pieces. The menswear collection stood out from the rest.

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Behind the ‘Nollvisionen’ collection by Olle Daunfeldt stood the car crash idea and the relationship between power, technology and fragility. He created a dramatic silhouette as a physical confrontation with the car. He sees the clothes as a car body – emotionally and visually, and the feeling of safety is just an illusion. Fashion illusion. Asked in what way he has researched his materials, Olle answered:
“The material research has in many cases been sort of a creative laboratory. The meeting between a textile fibre and an industrial product is an opposition, but they belong together in my head. Most important to me was to find a balance between the collections separate parts and to find materials that effectively expressed the different moods I was interested in shaping”.

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Jenny Larsson is the other name worth remembering. Her ‘Allt är bra’ collection made me think. Inspired by the street culture, Jenny underlined what is beyond the aspect of function in a garment. By function she meant both the physical and the aesthetic aspects.

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Anna Scholz and her ‘Imperfect pearl’ moved me into 17th century, Madame de Pompadour’s look and Marie Antoinette’s silhouette. Anna was definitely inspired by the baroque in her cuts. She worked in a sculptural way with volume and strong colors, with the desire to push an expression of femininity to extremes. And she did it in an outstanding way.

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I admired also Klara Modigh’s statement in her “Fake fur” collection. Klara said – “My collection is about the fake and the real. Animal, fake animal, fake human and synthetic materials. There’s a glitch in the fact that a lot of people, including myself, would never wear fur but buy leather shoes without blinking, and never think that down jackets contain feathers. I’ve tried to play with the material choices in a way to twist the eye on how they are being used. It’s an exploration into how nature is usually interpreted in clothing; like in floral prints and fur”. She also added: “Creating is always political. In every creative action you can choose to reproduce and work within the society that exists or go against it. My garments don’t have an obvious political message, but I create within an ethical framework; not using extremely thin models, not using fur, and not using references of violence”.

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The result shown in images, digital communication and film was moved to the showroom, where collections previously seen on the screen could now be experienced in person, organoleptically on still-standing live models. It was very interesting to experience something out of the adopted fashion framework. It reminded me how long tradition of interdisciplinary student collaborations has had Beckmans College of Design. Fashion as a tool of experimentation, allowed students to blur boundaries between clothing, technology, craftsmanship, fantasy and reality. At this stage, you can’t demand from the students – who are in the middle of their education and whose main goal is to experiment and play with fashion, at the same time trying to find themselves – well thought-out statements and mastered skills. One thing is sure. My eyes travelled and it was an interesting journey. And these thirteen talented students left their individual, bold mark as young creators.

See some of my other favorite pieces from the show. Enjoy.

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Johanna Welinder ‘I love cats’ collection

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Victor Lind ’2.0′ collection (left) and Siah Javaheri ‘Nomadized’ collection (right)

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Isabelle Larsson Knobel ‘Plz like me’ collection

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Emma Röstlund ‘Refined Practicality’ collection (left) and Amanda Blom ‘Stay until the room is blue’ collection (right)
All images above by Hedvig Jenning. Selection by me.

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 Images by Agata Mayer.

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Mayla’s show was a highlight of Fashion Week In Stockholm

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Special Review by Agata Mayer, Editor-in-chief

Recently, I am intrigued by Mayla’s progress into women’s collection. Marlene Abraham has done an excellent job reanimating the ’60s feeling, doing it in a modern way. I am delighted to see that the mid ’60s and the early ’70s trend we saw this Spring and Summer is continuing through to next season. Mayla is a contemporary ready-to-wear brand dedicated to the beautiful women and style setters of the time. Originally known for luxuriously crafted silk dresses, the popularity of Mayla has allowed the brand to quickly expand into outerwear, knitwear, shoes and accessories. It’s the French luxury combined with Scandinavian simplicity that has found a loyal clientel from around the world including Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden.

Agata Mayer: Marlene, looking at your previous collections I get the impression that you were inspired by the most important moments, styles and epochs in fashion history. Your newest collection for Autumn / Winter 2015 again refers to such a point – when for the first time in fashion history youth subcultures openly rebelled against wearing the same clothes as their parents, demanding their own unique identity. What sparked your interest in the Hippie Deluxe era?

Marlene Abraham: I’ve always found this period fascinating, and it’s a source of inspiration that I keep going back to, for music, art and fashion. People explored their creativity were openminded to different lifestyles and it reflected their personal style.

A.M. It was a time of preppy clothing, modern simplicity and “back to the nature” lifestyle underlined by floral and geometric prints, patchworked diverse fabrics, contrasting scales and colors. How would you describe this collection? Any focal points to which we should draw our attention?

M.A. I chose to mix the preppy proper from the mid sixties with the more bohemian feminity of the later part of the decade. I wanted to balance the two styles together. Key items for the collection is the bouclé dungarees, a gun printed layered silk dress and the tight polo neck sweaters.

A.M. Are there any plans to do a men’s collection?

M.A. No.

A.M. Mayla, the brand which you stand behind as a founder and designer, has grown since 2010. How is it received internationally?

M.A. We have a small but loyal following all over the world, especially in Japan. We just recently started to focus on the UK market.

A.M. As a ‘Stockholmare’, how have you perceived the evolution of fashion in recent years and how would you define the contemporary flux of this city?

M.A. Stockholm has changed a lot in the last 10 years and we have seen a few brands strong internationally as well as the Swedish music industry. There’s a kind of creative fashion, music and design movement going on, which is a great growing ground for new brands.

A.M. How much does travel influence your designs?

M.A. I’ve always travelled a lot, so it definitely influences me. I love going to places like London and New York.

A.M. How would you describe your personal style of clothing?

M.A. I’m not an eccentric person, so “show stoppers” are not for me. I would describe my style as feminine with an edge. I like quirky prints and dressing down exclusive pieces. For me it’s all in the mix. Materials and craftsman ship is important.

A.M. What has been the biggest highlight in your career so far?

M.A. I think it’s a mix of different things. I’m happy to been able to open two concept stores within the five years since I started and the fact that we got into the Japanese market almost immediately. Our crown princess has been a loyal supporter since the start of the brand.

A.M. What’s next for you professionally?

M.A. Right now I’m looking to grow the company and my main target is the UK, Scandinavia and Japan.

A.M. Thank you.
Sharp lines and monochromatic meet sheer silks in graphic prints. Glossy leather flat shoes in black. More dimensional dressing with tone down layers of knit. It’s been also exciting to see denim dungarees and culottes:

See some of my favorite pieces from Mayla’s SS 15 and AW15 Collectionagata-mayer-mayla-3agata-mayer-mayla-4agata-mayer-mayla-1
agata-mayer-mayla-2agata-mayer-marlene-abraham-3Agata Mayer (on the left) interviews Marlene Abraham (on the right)

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Love Them or Loathe Them

agata-mayer-beard Article by Agata Mayer, Editor-in-chief

Beards are having a moment. Quite a long one. For the past few years we have observed a sea of fashion-conscious men who have let their beards grow. How long this trend will last, and what lies behind it, is difficult to say. Men behave according to the influences of the society they live in. Growing a beard is a conscious decision and can be so for a variety of reasons – from cultural to religious. The history of beard was as stormy as the fate of humanity, and the dilemma for leaving or removing hair from the body grew even to the level of highest political importance. Facial hair played a significant role in past societies and has been ascribed various symbolic attributes, such as sexual virility, wisdom and high social status.
But some cultures also associated beards with poor hygiene, poverty and threat. For instance, Fidel Castro accused the CIA of attempts of destroying his image by causing his beard to fall out. The CIA figured that the loss of the beard would show Cubans that Castro was weak and fallible. They obsessively believed that Castro’s beard possessed some sort of super power that made him immortal. Albert Einstein and Henry Miller claimed that they came up with some of their best ideas while shaving.

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TO BEARD OR NOT TO BEARD

Over time, attitudes to beardedness and shaving have constantly shifted. During ancient times, Egyptians were generally clean shaven. Natural hair was considered as unwanted and disgusting. Only the poor and the foreigners remained hairy.
In Greece, beards were a sign of honor, wisdom and dignity that predominated until 4th century B.C. at which time Alexander the Great ordered his soldiers to be clean shaven. He was afraid that opposing soldiers would grab on to the Grecians’ beards and use it against them while in battle.
In Rome, the use of the razor was encouraged by Lucius Tarquinius Priscus in an effort towards hygienic reform.
Shaving was not generally accepted until a group of traveling Greek Sicilian barbers appeared in Rome. When shaving started to become the trend, philosophers continued to keep their beards.
Amongst Celts and Germanic tribes, facial hair played a huge role and was a matter of honor. The Lombards or Langobards derived their fame from the length of their beards.
In 1698, Peter the Great – the Tsar of Russia ordered men to shave off their beards, and in 1705 levied a tax on beards.
For centuries Russian men had worn long beards. It was a deep-rooted cultural tradition and it embodied Orthodox views on manhood and the image of man as God created him. Many considered shaving as a sin and a deeply symbolic act.
In the Renaissance, beard-wearing was a sign of masculinity. In the 15th century, most European men were clean-shaven, but the 16th century brought a new statement “the beard made the man”. Growing a beard represented the transformation from a boy into a man.
Beards in 17th century were closely linked the very essence of manhood, and concepts of health, sexuality and the body.
The 18th century, by contrast, was almost entirely clean-shaven. Beards fell dramatically from favor for some reasons. After decades of beardedness, the face of the enlightened gentleman was smooth-cheeked. This was the age of dandies and massive wigs and the shaved face has been the rule.
During the 19th the mustache was a mark of the fighting man, mainly amongst British soldiers and officers. Most men who retained facial hair during the 1920s and 1930s limited themselves to a mustache or a goatee. Hitler, Stalin, Trotsky or Einstein are just a few examples. One thing was sure – after its peak, beards went into retreat.
In the United States, due to cinematography, movie heroes were portrayed with clean-shaven faces, also due to a sudden appearance of the Gillette Company. The beard was reintroduced to mainstream society by the hippie movement and became a symbol of dropping out from society – a clear statement against detrimental actions taken by the American government (the Vietnam War).

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Theorists say we might have reached peak beard and the era of fashionable facial hair may be coming to an end. According to researcher Robert Brooks “The bigger the trend gets, the weaker the preference for beards and the tide will go out again”.
Well, looking at London – a melting pot for what’s going on in fashion, where being inked, having a beard, wearing a denim shirt is just a fact now – it is hard to believe. Brooks thinks that these trends usually move in 30-years cycles, but with the Internet, things are moving faster. For me, there are certainly no signs of change at the moment and what’s more 2014 proved being the year of the beard. There is actually a World Beard Day; the British Beard Championships occurred in Bath this September and in No-Shave November, or for those who prefer – Movember, everyone was talking about a campaign raising cancer awareness and encourages all men to grow out their facial hair and embrace their beards, mustaches, goatees, sideburns in honor of the people who loose their hair during cancer treatments. To “change the face of men’s health” – literally and figuratively.

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From Paris with love – Parisian Chic

agata-mayer-megan-hess-illustrationIllustration by Megan Hess, www.meganhess.com

Special Review by Agata Mayer, Editor-in-chief

Paris – the city of love, the cradle of European style and elegance. The city of light has inspired poets and artists for centuries, with its iconic art and architecture, cafe culture and air of romance. Paris is always a good idea in Audrey Hepburn’s opinion.
And whoever does not visit Paris regularly will never really be elegant – said Honoré de Balzac.
The definition of female elegance differs depending on where you live. For instance, Italians are very fashion-conscious. They follow the trends religiously. The English are more extravagant. Americans are exaggeratedly perfect.
In a book „Paris Street Style: A Guide to Effortless Chic“ by Isabelle Thomas and Frédérique Veysset, French actress and singer Emmanuelle Seigner said: „American women are pulled together perfectly from the moment they wake up in the morning: perfect hair, varnished nails, high heels … as if they were bound for a cocktail party or some red-carpet affair. French women don’t bother their heads so much.“
Parisian style with the image of a tall, aristocratic Inès de la Fressange silhouette, sipping a glass of red Pinot Noir, smoking Gauloises, and walking down the street as if strutting down the catwalk, turned into myth.
Nowadays, French women are very practical. It is all about looking ‘naturelle’. Their golden rule is moderation and minimalism.
As we already know „Only great minds can afford a simple style.“
This rule was noticeable on the Parisian streets during Paris Fashion Week, which has been more of a marathon than a sprint.

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Source: Pinterest

FASHION IS NOT SOMETHING THAT EXISTS IN DRESSES ONLY

This famous quote belonging to Coco Chanel, legendary French fashion designer and style icon who ruled over Parisian haute couture for almost six decades, was perceptible on the catwalk during this year’s Paris Fashion Week SS15.
Chanel was a woman of many wise words and her influential quotes could fill an entire book.
A little more than a decade after her death, designer Karl Lagerfeld took the reins at her company to continue the Chanel legacy.
In the past Lagerfeld has been criticized for his negative comments about women.
He always courts controversy with his fashion shows as well. And he surprised again. Karl Lagerfeld created a fashion demonstration.
Cara Delevingne, Joan Smalls, Kendall Jenner and Georgia May Jagger, as well as the world’s richest model, Gisele Bündchen walked in his show holding a megaphone-wielding and a banner reading Women’s Rights are More than Alright, and a sea of placards reading Ladies First, History is Her Story, We Can Match the Machos and Boys Should Get Pregnant Too?
Media was flooded by titles and headers: Karl Lagerfeld’s new look for Chanel: feminist protest and slogans; Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld turns the Grand Palais into a feminist protest; Lagerfeld under fire after staging mock feminist protest at Paris Fashion Week.
In my opinion Chanel wasn’t making a political statement, especially when the apolitical designer famously said, „I’m in fashion. Politics is not my job.“ It is also worth remembering that one of Lagerfeld’s quotes is: „Everything I say is a joke. I myself am a joke.“ So what was he trying to say? They were just attracting attention by making noise and fuss, shouting about all that what is wrong with the world. Following this scent and continuing Coco Chanel’s quote we all have to admit that „Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.“

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Marie-Helene Arnaud with a fish in Paris, 1957. Image credited to: Georges Dambier

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STYLE & THE CITY

Leaving all feministic stuff behind, let’s concentrate on the real Parisian chic. The synonym of timeless classic, elegance and comfort. All this, we could see on the catwalk at the turn of the September and October 2014. The Paris Fashion Week was the finale of the „big four“ fashion weeks. From Louis Vuitton, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Hermès, Dior, Givenchy, Balenciaga to Miu Miu, Avelon, John Galliano, Valentino, Yiqing Yin, Kenzo, Junya Watanabe, Gareth Pugh, Comme des Garcons or Guy Laroche.
The world’s best designers have always operated from Paris, which is currently home to the headquarters of some of them.
It is worth remembering that the concept of Haute Couture (‘high sewing’ | ‘high dressmaking’ | ‘high fashion’) also was invented in Paris and began in the 18th century.
Are you ready to see my favorite Spring / Summer 2015 Ready-To-Wear samples? Enjoy.

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Gareth Pugh Collection, Source: Vogue.com

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Ode to the 70s at Milan Fashion Week

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Image: Moschino, Backstage,Vogue

Special Review by Agata Mayer, Editor-in-chief

By the early 1970s it was difficult for many people to decide what was in style and what was not. For sure, the 70s were one of the most individualistic decades for fashion ever. People experimented a lot and wore anything that they wanted, combining hippie, ethnic look together with fancy wear such as hot pants, mini skirts, skin-tight t-shirts or fitted blazers in the early 70s, through mid 70s where vintage clothing, kimonos, turbans, puffy skirts, maxi dresses, knee-high boots and platform shoes were worn by women, to the late 70s that became more baggy in style and more conservative. This relaxed look transformed into the disco look, which was mostly inspired by clothing from the early 1960s. A real rollercoaster through “Me Decade”.

agata-mayer-stella-jean-milan-fashion-week-vogueImage: Stella Jean, Backstage, Vogue

Ciao Milano

In the 1950s and 60s the main industrial centre of Italy and one of Europe’s most dynamic cities – Milan – became a world capital of design, architecture and fashion. Today most of the major famous Italian fashion houses and labels are based in Milan. Milan has been home to numerous fashion designers, including Giorgio Armani, Gianni Versace, Miuccia Prada, Moschino, Trussardi, Missoni and Dolce & Gabbana.
Furthermore, the city hosts the Milan Fashion Week. Are you connecting the dots now?

Those 70s shows

The ’70s were a big reference this season. Several of Milan’s most storied design houses decided to put a more wearable spin on their collections by showing jeans with mixed results, billowing maxi dresses, neck scarves, flared trousers, floral and geometric prints and retro accessories.
Last season Frida Giannini captured the 60s. This season she moved on a decade.
Gucci channeled the ’70s in a slightly different manner, diverging from the bohemian vibe with washed out denim to add some glamour and sophistication. She mixed denim with drummer-boy jackets and silk kimono jackets and it worked!
Miuccia Prada also draw inspiration from the 70s. The first few designs that hit the runway were mostly black with very strong brown stitching featured on both dresses and trench coats. We were soon exposed to the amazing color palette that Prada is so adored for with each look completed with calf-length socks featuring blocks of color and patterns.
’70s tailoring, bows and Victoriana collars – Roberto Cavalli’s show was opened with an array of punchy, bright, graphic prints. Loose fitting floor-length pleated looks came cascading out in maxi dresses and tops and skirts – not immediately the vibe that springs to mind when you think of Cavalli.
Sunset colours made for an optimistic and summery palette and the psychedelic collection had a clear ’70s influence with tie-dyed chiffon dresses, suede trousers and coats and crocheted mini and maxi dresses. Pucci’s signature sports aesthetic was translated into easy separates, some slightly more tailored pieces.
Alberta Ferretti made a romantic statement with sheer embroidered dresses, ethereal, romantic and free-spirited. The brand’s spring/summer 2015 collection captured a true essence of the summer of love. Suede vests, fringe edges, denim and laser cut floral ponchos clearly showed what the designer’s muse was for the spring season. The designer was clearly in a ’70s state of mind.
Etro delivered its signature bohemian vibes with the usual dose of psychedelic paisley and fringing. Beads, feathers and amulets hung from the models’ hips, hands and ears. That trademark paisley swirled through movements of blue and red. The New Mexico shaman Pocahontas swaying into Morrison’s „Riders On The Storm“ hit.

Milan Fashion Week brought a diverse range of looks for fashionistas, such as the crafmanshift of the 1970s and did not disappoint. And one thing is sure, since now, denim is no longer just for dress-down Fridays.

agata-mayer-missoni-fashion-week-milan-vogueImage: Missoni, Backstage, Vogue

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Image: Emilio Pucci, Backstage, Vogue

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Image: Gucci, Backstage, Vogue

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Image: Marni, Backstage, Vogue

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Image: Roberto Cavalli, Backstage, Vogue

All images are credited to www.vogue.com

You don’t have to be in London to witness London Fashion Week

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Image: Marques’Almeida SS15 (Daniel Sims, British Fashion Council)

Review by Agata Mayer, Editor-in-chief

As you probably know, London Fashion Week (#LFW) is one of the ‘big four’ international catwalk influencers along with New York Fashion Week, Milan Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week, since the first show in 1984.
This high profile fashion event is set within Somerset House, takes place biannually and features some of the world’s leading designers.
The schedule is always packed with amazing shows, installations, showrooms and parties from the brightest names in the industry.
Today, #LFW has become a city-wide celebration, while before it was just a trade event.
This summer, Oxford Street and Regent Street, two of the busiest shopping streets in Europe, joined in #LFW Festivities by hosting educational seminars, displaying architectural installations or supporting architect practices and fashion brands together within London Design Festival.

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Source: British Fashion Council

The Hollywood Factor!

World-famous models, the hottest celebrities and Hollywood movie stars who dropped in at this event. Welcome to London Fashion Week SS 15.

Drew Barrymore, Samuel L. Jackson, Mario Testino and Alexa Chung followed Stella McCartney and the cohost Livia Firth at the Royal Institution of Great Britain. All these big names were there to celebrate Stella McCartney’s Green Carpet Collection.
Colin Firth, who no doubt went to the show to support his wife Livia, proud father sir Paul McCartney, Salma Hayek together with her husband François-Henri Pinault, Rita Ora also joined the designer to see the show.

Another day, supermodels Kate Moss and Cara Delevingne took a short break from the runway and arrived to watch the Burberry Prorsum show at Kensington Gardens, snapping ‘selfies’ and giggling on the sidelines.
The same show was closed by Suki Waterhouse, Bradley Cooper’s girlfriend. The Hollywood actor caused a huge stir when he appeared at Tom Ford‘s show the same day. Cooper sat next to Vogue US Editor-In-Chief Anna Wintour on the front row.

Another beauty, the stunning blonde Georgia May Jagger (the younger daughter of Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger and model Jerry Hall) opened the Marchesa Spring/Summer 2015 show in Whitehall. The American label celebrated its ten year anniversary in London.

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Georgia May Jagger walking for Marchesa SS 15

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Image: Margaret Howell SS15 (Shaun James Cox, British Fashion Council)

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Image:Erdem SS15 (Shaun James Cox, British Fashion Council)

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Imgaes: British Fashion Council