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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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Waleria Tokarzewska

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Anna Tronowska
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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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Fashion is about more than just pretty heels

agata-mayerArticle and design by Agata Mayer, Editor-in-chief

2014, Washington D.C., The White House – First Lady Michelle Obama brought some of the biggest names in fashion to celebrate their talent during the cocktail party, which was totally off the grid. The main purpose of this event was to bring members of the fashion industry, such as designers, industry insiders and publicists and enlighten, educate and mentor the next generation of fashion leaders. It should be noted at this point that Americans spend over $350 billion a year on clothing and accessories, and there are plenty of jobs to be had, with 1.4 million Americans employed in fashion and retail. Well, the fashion industry had always a major impact on the economy.

2014, London, The White House – The Duke John Zylinski hosted a major fashion blowout for an army of designers to celebrate their talent on the catwalk and during the garden cocktail party.  It’s common knowledge that becoming an esteemed fashion designer is not the kind of thing that happens overnight or even to every eager and passionate college design major. But the Duke had some sound advice for the young designers who were invited to his palace. He was discussing with the students the glamorous and un-glamorous sides of the fashion industry. It has to be added that £6.2 billion has been spent across the UK over the last five years on impulse-buys such as clothing and accessories and the average British woman will spend £500,000 on fashion over a lifetime, in accordance to Daily Mail.

Did you detect a slight similarity between them? Of course you did!

ALL ROADS LEAD TO EALING!

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The Duke, John Zylinsky at his palace

The concept of fashion education workshops and events has been on the table since at least a few years. Both sides spent many months planning and researching their new business ideas, but the British side spent even more time. The Duke wouldn’t have done this without Katarzyna Kwiatkowska – Działak, the CEO of Fashion Culture Project and a very dear friend to the fashion world.
One day, 3 years ago they just met and decided to work together, after considering fashion as a business and an art. They thought that thanks to its global nature and role in pop culture, fashion will be seen as a useful symbol for national creativity. They weren’t wrong!

The descendants of many aristocratic families still support the national culture, tradition and education or they perform an important function in politics. It’s also generally known, that the aristocratic families took care of their image. They adopted prevailing trends coming from other courts and even countries, or they just simply determined their own styles. I know that John is passionate about the 18th century. It was a specific period, when various historians consider the industrialization of society to be the starting point of fashion. Time, when changes in dress ceased to be the prerogative of small elites and became adopted by the majority of urban people in western Europe. For instance, women’s fashion was dominated by Paris, while men’s fashion was set by London. But in John’s line it looked completely different. The Duke was raised by his grandmother who charmed him with the magic of pre-war manners and elegance. It speaks for itself. He was the first person in his lineage interested in ‘fashion’. His family house has a huge history. It was a place for the whole exile elite. John’s grandmother was a person to whom he promised that he would rebuild the family palace, which on numerous occasions transform into a place promoting broadly understood Art. I know that not only fashion is close to his heart, but also Ballet and enterprising women…such as Katarzyna Kwiatkowska-Działak. But more about that, later.
Born in Ealing, West London, the Duke John Zylinski has been supporting fashion initiatives continuously since many years. Every year he opens the gates of his residence ‘The White House’ for the Fashion Culture Show and brings together promising designers. The main objective is to establish and strengthen contacts between European countries, to promote promising talents and to provide them with a wider audience.

katarzyna-kwiatkowska-jan-zylinski-by-piotr-apolinarskiThe Duke John Zylinsky & Katarzyna Kwiatkowska-Działak at the White House, London
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I was wondering how it feels to be an aristocrat in today’s era of the perdition of moral values and ethics, in comparison to John’s childhood, therefore I caught a flight to London to meet the Duke in person. Unfortunately, questions concerning his family tree or how he sees symbols associated with tradition, honor, bravery and the bonds of brotherhood nowadays, in hands of fashion designers as an act of performance and their own statement “in a multibillion-dollar global industry” have to wait.
John threw himself into work and couldn’t participate in the meeting. Instead of that, I met Katarzyna Kwiatkowska – Działak in John’s private residence, lovingly designed and built by him. The whole property is breathtakingly beautiful, and not surprisingly, the neoclassical Louis XVI house had been used by TV crews and high profile clients including Victoria Beckham, Britney Spears, Leona Lewis, Kelly Rowland, Rihanna, Lady Gaga; world-famous designers such as Christian Dior or Roberto Cavalli; magazines such as Vogue, GQ, Guardian, Marie Claire, Vanity Fair, Korean Elle for their fashion photo shoots.

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Katarzyna Kwiatkowska-Działak – a real Lady of a thousand faces and passions told me everything about their collaboration, difficult beginnings, bad and good sides of being in this branch and about the concept that stands behind the Fashion Culture Project. She was born and brought up in Warsaw, Poland where she graduated in Journalism and PR. After over fifteen years of assisting, organizing and directing many fashion shows, events and live concerts, in 2008 she decided to move to London, where now she supports talented fashion designers from the most prestigious European fashion schools. She proved that people who think that the fashion industry is all about catwalks, red carpets and who wore it best, are wrong. Garments that we see in the magazines as a finished product, required a very long and complicated process that is based not only on passion and creativity, but also on specific knowledge. Her project was described by many international and influential specialist periodicals as “the must-to-visit place on the map of Europe”.
“Fashion is really about passion and creativity, just like music or dance or poetry” – claimed Katarzyna. When I asked her what Fashion Culture is, she answered immediately: “Promotion art through fashion and fashion through art“. What can be more simple?
At the beginning it was a bridge between international fashion colleges in both Poland and the UK. But now the project is in its fourth season drawing in people from the world of culture, visual arts, fashion and photography.  After due consideration she added: “Fashion can be a powerful instrument for social change. It allows us to think about who we are as individuals and as a society”. The designers who participate first in the contest, then in the show represent a wide spectrum — from mass brands to high-end glamour to the more intellectual.
“Every season one pearl is discovered by our jury. Last year we represented Erïk Bjerkesjö, Swedish designer who was awarded by Cracow School of Art and Fashion Design and got an invitation for Cracow Fashion week organized in March 2015 in Poland. This outstanding artist has received many honors & awards globally” – said Katarzyna.

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The 4th EDITION OF FASHION CULTURE PROJECT IN LONDON KNOCKS AT OUR DOOR!

Kwiatkowska – Działak, a master of both high and low sartorial styles, will be hosting the 4th edition of Fashion Culture Project at the White House palace this September. She is going to transform the White House into a venue again for an elite judging panel for selected outstanding students from University of the Arts – London College of Fashion and Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design (UK); Polimoda (Italy); Flanders Fashion Institute (Belgium); ESMOD (Germany), ASP (Poland); Beckmans Designhögskola (Sweden); The Cracov Schools of Art and Fashion Design group – SAPU Fashion Design Department (Poland) and for many influential representatives from the wide circles of art, culture and diplomacy.
Dear reader! Save the date and see you in London!

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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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Every level of art you want is here!

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Special Review by Agata Mayer, Editor-in-chief

Art Basel Miami is an orgy of luxurious excess, and it always has been. The perfect setting for an international show rich in cultural diversity, offering visitors a selection of premier works from the entire Americas as well as Europe, Asia, and Africa. The main fair itself is wildly profitable – galleries from around the world pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for the privilege of being able to stake out a few square meters of exhibition-hall space. Miami is very special for its link between art and the community. „The community rallies around art creating a unique energy. And art dynamises the community, in a very unique way“ – said Axelle de Buffévent, style director at champagne house Martell Mumm Perrier-Jouët. “Art Basel has put art on everyone’s mind. Everyone wants to be involved somehow.” – said Jumaane N’Namdi, Miami gallerist.

Art Basel in Miami Beach – the winter meeting place for the international art world – celebrated its 10th edition in December 2011.
A record number of fifty thousand collectors, artists, dealers, curators, critics and art enthusiasts – including 150 museum and institution groups from across the globe – participated in the show. This year, on December 4 through 7, 2014 marking its 13th anniversary as the most prestigious art exhibition in the Americas, Art Basel Miami Beach welcomed the international art world to Miami Beach. You were allowed to experience rare museum-caliber artworks and performances from both, renowned artists and emerging talents from all over the world.

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Let’s take a look at some Art Basel history first

I had the pleasure to participate in this amazing event twice, after hearing it is one of the top events of Switzerland. And it was a truly unforgettable experience. Three annual shows bring the art world together in some of the world’s most exciting venues: Basel, in the heart of Europe; Miami Beach at the nexus of North and South America; and Hong Kong – the gateway to Asia.
Art Basel was founded by three art dealers and connoisseurs of art, also known as Basel Gallerists – Trudi Bruckner, Balz Hilt and Ernst Beyeler in 1970. It provides a platform for galleries and their artists, giving them access to an international audience of private collectors, museum directors, curators and public institutions. The dynamic relationships between them play an essential role in today’s art world, and connecting the international art community has been Art Basel’s goal since its beginning. The shows attract people with an appreciation of Modern and Contemporary art who experience it as a cultural event. In 2002, Art Basel was launched in Miami Beach and it immediately established itself as the premier show in the Americas (North and Latin) and ranks among the favorite winter time events of the international art world. In 2013 Art Basel debuted in Hong Kong. Half of the participating galleries came from Asia confirming desire to build a cultural bridge between Western art world and the Asia-Pacific region.
In 2015, BMW and Art Basel will launch the BMW Art Journey, a first-of-its-kind award that enables selected artists to design a journey of creative discovery to a destination of their choice. Inspired by travel and the boundless diversity of places, artists will have the chance to conduct research, discover new ideas and themes, and create new work.
Watch the video below:

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Celebrities hit up Art Basel parties!

All celebrities want to be here, not only as a star but also as a buyer. One year, Hollywood actor Brad Pitt popped up in Switzerland at Art Basel. He was a customer of contemporary “design art” furniture at the Design Miami/Basel fair. Another time, Leonardo DiCaprio was spotted at Story nightclub, hanging with several ladies until the wee hours of the night. He was also at Basel’s VIP opening for serious art buyers, along with designer Vera Wang.
Kim Kardashian, Kate Hudson, Emily Blunt, Usher, Victoria’s Secret models Karolina Kurkova and Adriana Lima, Beyonce’s little sister Solange Knowles, Gone Girl’s Emily Ratajkowski, supermodel Heidi Klum, James Marden and Owen Wilson were amongst guests sipping champagne who walked the red carpet in grand style. Surrounded by art collectors and fashionistas from around the globe. All eyes were on Miley Cyrus and her bizarre private performance, where she smoked weed on stage in a silver wig, sang a duet with a topless woman and sang an original song she said she was inspired to write after her friend’s cat spoke to her in a dream. “This year has constantly challenged me, and that’s why I started doing art” – she told crowd. Well… In my opinion, the Miami “art extravaganza” always attracted collectors and artists from all over the world, but in this case the real meaning of “art” just fell into a decline.

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Leonardo DiCaprio seen at the Art Basel exhibition in Miami

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Clearly, art week is not just about aesthetics, personal enrichment and community building. It is also about enterprise. The 13th edition of Art Basel Miami Beach was all about more new art fairs and just-to-see shows, more record-breaking sales, more CEOs, more luxury properties. But also there was another kind of “more” as well — more spillovers, touch points and art for all manner of South Floridians, from entrepreneurs to pre-teen fashion designers.

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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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