Ruinart Jaume Plensa Launch Event in Paris

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Two weeks ago, I flew to Paris to attend the exclusive launch event of Ruinart’s new artist for 2017: Jaume Plensa, the renowned Spanish artist who is known for his monumental sculptures in steel, glass, marble, polyester resin, concrete and bronze.

He is recognized for his silhouettes of human bodies seated or kneeling who seem to scrutinize the horizon in a meditative manner, like the contemporary thinkers. His sculptures, which play with the relationship between words, signs and the human body, have today become his signature. They are recognisable amongst all the works of art throughout the world and have turned Jaume Plensa into one of the most important players of the contemporary artistic scene.

Jaume_Plensa_Artwork_RuinartPlensa’s amazing art work for Ruinart

Each year, Ruinart invites an artist to create a special artwork for the oldest Champagne house of the world. With Plensa, Ruinart has chosen an artist who has been able to express language, but more importantly the alphabets, the cultures of the world, their spiritualities, their transmissions and the visionary and erudite spirit of dom Thierry Ruinart, a key personality in the history of Ruinart at the confluence of philosophy and the art, merging the heritage with the future.

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The event took place at the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris where Plensa also gives lectures. First we had the possibility to explore historic documents while enjoying my favourite champagne, Ruinart‘s Blanc de Blancs. Later, we were asked to move into the next room where the stunning installation by Jaume Plensa was revealed in his presence that will later tour the world.

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The sculpture takes up the shape of characters that he has already created, but there is never any repetition in his work. Every piece is unique. Every letter, assembled by hand, creates a second skin for the form, which is always reborn in a different manner. In the base of the sculpture he has engraved two dates: 1729 and 2016. They are like a secret code, an encrypted message, linking the history between the foundation of Maison Ruinart and the creation of the work of art.

Jaume_Plensa_Sandra_Bauknecht_RuinartWith artist Jaume Plensa at the event in Paris

The next morning, I had the chance to interview Jaume Plensa who is a very witty, charming and interesting gentleman. I loved his answers, the most significant quotes are in bold. Enjoy!

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What are the basics of creating for you? With what do you start?

That is a very interesting question as this is something I am asking myself every day in the studio. I guess the main subject in my work is that I try to create something that people could touch and be touched by. I work a lot in public spaces. Mainly my work is based to identify yourself in the myth of others. We have to break borders and the walls we have been permanently creating throughout history. When I am working with alphabets or portraits of people from different cultures, it is interesting to recognize that we are all so similar. It is just the little things that differ.

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You use a lot of letters in your work. Do you have a favorite letter or alphabet?

You cannot compare one alphabet with another. When you see Hebrew for example which is very rigid and you compare it with Chinese, that seems to be fireworks. Hindi is so beautiful always with a line on top which makes it so rich to look at.

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How long was the process to create for Ruinart and did you have immediately something in mind when you were approached?

In general the way I work is that an idea is born with the shape, the material and the specific scale. Obviously depending if it is for a show, a gallery or for a public space, my attitude can be changing.

It took me around 6 months to create the piece that had been revealed last night. I never understood art as a direction. My obsession was to grow up as a person, art was just the consequence of my life. I have never been interested in being in artist, but I enjoy it very much to express my emotions with visual art. The main material is life.

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When I listen to you, I don’t get the impression that you will ever loose inspiration. Do you ever feel pressure to not being inspired?

Not at all. Creation is a way to breathe. I love when I am flying and the flight attendant is saying «If the pressure is low, please pull the oxygen mask, press it firmly on your mouth and breathe normally.» There are many moments when life asks us to breathe normally, I think it is something we must honor, it takes a little while but the most beautiful experience is when you understand that you are breathing normally.

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Do you ever get frustrated when you are creating because something is not working out the way you have planned it?

Of course. My assistants are happy when I am not there. I have a lot of temperament. Creation is a dialogue with you and yourself. You could be your best friend, but also your worst enemy. That is one of the most beautiful experiences in creation when you must understand yourself, when you must accept yourself and this gives always a lot of frictions.

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The best about Jaume Plensa?

I have the privilege to be an artist, so I have the capacity and ability to observe the world. That is an amazing situation.

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Only 20 bottles of the special edition signed by Jaume Plensa will be available worldwide for €3500 worldwide.

LoL, Sandra

Photos: Courtesy of Ruinart, © Sandra Bauknecht

Interview with Ryan Reynolds

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In 2016, PIAGET launched a new line of men’s watches that has brought envy to our girls’ faces, the so-called PIAGET POLO S. Originally created in 1979, the new Piaget Polo S takes its name from the elegant and demanding sport of polo, its motto «play a different game». Yves Piaget was one of the first ones to link celebrities to watches in the ’80s.

PiagetPoloS_Watch_collectionThe Piaget Polo S watch collection.

Piaget_Polo_SMy favorite model: The Piaget Polo S Chronograph 42mm.

While I was in NYC for the launch party, I had the honor to interview the house’s international brand ambassador Ryan Reynolds, a real game changer. For us, the 40-year-old Vancouver native opens up about his many titles: «Sexiest Men Alive», «World’s Sexiest Dad», «GQ Man of the Year for 2016», massive movie star, and «Deadpool», the biggest achievement of his life so far. He has been obsessed with the character for a very long time, trying for 11 years to get it to the big screen, so the outstanding critical and fan success of the film has been a gratifying experience for him. Driven by passion, that is a tailor-made role for him.

The Canadian actor and producer, who is married to no other than the beautiful Blake Lively (Do you remember the interview I did with her just before their wedding… if not click here please…) and father of two daughters, is a man in a hurry, constantly on the move, and yet his style epitomizes a certain kind of timelessness mirroring that of the Piaget brand.

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Ryan, you are the ambassador of Piaget. What was your first encounter with the brand?

My first encounter with the brand was as a kid because my favourite film «Planes, Trains and Automobiles» featured a Piaget watch. This movie influenced a lot of what I do today. Even in my movie «Deadpool» there are six or seven hidden references to this film. For example I am reading the same book that John Candy is reading in the train station. Then there is a scene where Steve Martin’s character experiences a critical moment as he needs to sleep more than anything else in the world but he has no money left because his wallet has burnt in a fire. All he has left is his Piaget watch and six dollars. So he tells the hotel guy that he will give him six dollars and «one hell of a nice watch». The watch still exists, it is so beautiful. That was my first experience with Piaget, a symbol of a relaxed kind of luxury. It was a pivotal point for me as I took note of a brand for the first time in my life.

If you had to design a watch, how would it look like?

It would be mostly made of wood and cheese. It would be very bad for anyone who needs to be anywhere on time. I couldn’t even get a sundial together. But if I had to design a watch, I would look for this beautiful intersection between function and fashion, something that is timeless and classic. I have been doing this job for longer than most people realize which is 26 years. I started as a little kid. So I can look back and catalogue myself for this amount of time and see the different styles I was into. The only ones that stay are the classic things. Watches are accessories that men can hang on to for the rest of their lives.

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How do you wear your Piaget Polo S?

I like the idea of relaxed luxury. I’d wear it to the Oscars or for my kids’ first grade graduation. It’s one of those things you can pretty much wear anywhere, with anything from a tuxedo to sportswear. It’s a watch for a new generation. As I said for a man a few accessories count, my daughter’s initials are engraved in the back. She loves to play around with it. She will get it when she is older. It is not necessarily a watch for a girl but if she is any daughter of mine, she will want Dad’s watch.

RyanReynoldsFirst family appearance: When Ryan Reynolds accepted the Walk of Fame honour last December, he was accompanied by his wife Blake Lively and their two daughters.

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Speaking of your daughter. How has fatherhood changed your life?

It has enriched it in every way. I don’t sleep anymore. I am a little bit more protective, I noticed those «Papa Bear» instincts are coming out in a way I have never experienced before. When you live in a public eye to a certain degree, it can be a little stressful because my child has not expressed any interest in living the public eye, it is not a choice she is making. I try to protect her as much as I can while at the same time being somebody who volunteered for this job, not also hiding her. There is a difference between secrecy and privacy. I never wanted to be secret but private and most people respect that.

What is the biggest challenge you have ever encountered in your life?

Wow, that is a very lofty question. Let me think. Growing up and taking responsibility for myself has been the biggest challenge. Most kids are not fostered or taught dialogue or taught to emphazise and understand other people. That has been the biggest challenge for me as a young man at the age of 20/21, I really took this task on myself. I realized that anything that happens in a relationship I have a stake in it. Learning this nurtured a lot.

GQCOVER_RYANGQ Man of the Year 2016 Ryan Reynolds on the December cover.

You are 40 now. As a man do you also feel pressure aging especially in the industry you are in?

I welcome age. You should never mourne a birthday. We are all lucky getting a year older. I hope to be so old one day that I look like a deshelled moleskin. I do also understand the certain imbalance with men and women in that regard. I see it shifting incrementally and I hope it keeps happening. It also needs us men to foster that change. I certainly try to anywhere I can. I think, excluding my wife of course, the sexiest actress on planet earth is Helen Mirren.

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What do you do to stay fit? Any special nutrition plans? Sports?

When I am not shooting «Deadpool» or something like that, I run and do a lot of weights. But when I film a movie like this, I have three months in advance to get prepared and that is a whole new ball game.

How do you prepare yourself for a role like that?

It is a lot of writing. That is the part that is the hardest. Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick (both screenwriters) and I wrote all the material for «Deadpool». That is the biggest challenge.

buried-ryan-reynoldsRyan Reynolds in «Buried»

What is the role you played that you are most proud of?

That one is «Deadpool» because it took me eleven years to get it made, to convince the studio. Actually we didn’t convince them, we held them hostage until they said yes.
But seriously, «Buried», a movie that most people probably haven’t seen but it is a very challenging Spanish movie.
(About Buried: The story is about an Iraq-based American civilian truck driver, who, after being attacked, finds himself buried alive in a wooden coffin, with only a lighter, flask, flashlight, knife, glowsticks, pen, pencil, and a mobile phone. It was shot in a time period of only 16 days in Barcelona. The director Rodrigo Cortés’ inspiration was the film Rope directed by Alfred Hitchcock.)

Do you have a dream role that you would love to play?

I would love to play Chet Baker but the problem is that I cannot sing. «Deadpool» was my dream role. It goes in line with the «game changer» theme. It was a game changer for me, a game changer for film, for comic books and for comic book movies.

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How do you see yourself as a game changer?

Yes, I do. Game changers typically fight for something they believe in against great odds, against everyone saying it will never happen. I still have e-mails from the head of the studio at FOX, who is no longer there, saying that we will never make that movie. Sticking with something like that, hanging in there, believing in it, even when everyone else doesn’t. And being given very limited tools in order to make that movie, our budget was nothing compared to what a normal superhero movie would be. And then still making it even better than everything ever been done. Those are game changing moments. It is easier to walk away. Emotionally it would have been easier seven years ago to stop those e-mails and move on. But I did have a nice moment the weekend after the movie came out. I walked into the head of the studio’s office and said: «You can thank me now». It was a very nice moment for me.

Your wife, Blake Lively, is an actress herself. Do you see it as a blessing or a curse? Are the two of you ever in competition?

We are never in competition. I think that is why we have a great relationship. We don’t work at the same time. Recently, she shot four movies, and I shot none. We never travel and work at the same time. That seems work out for us. The key to our relationship is that we are friends first.

The-Green-Lantern-Ryan-Reynolds-and-Blake-LivelyRyan and Blake met on set of the movie «The Green Lantern» in 2011.

Could you imagine shooting a movie together with your wife?

Probably. We are kind of working together every day anyway. Living in our house and doing all those small daily things. But thinking of it, yes, it would be nice doing it one day.

Ryan Reynolds in three words.

Integrety. Father. Husband.

Thank you, Ryan, it was a pleasure talking to you!

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And I am looking forward to seeing you tonight again at dinner with Piaget…

LoL, Sandra

Photos: Courtesy of Piaget, © GQ Magazine, © Reuters, © Sandra Bauknecht

Interview with Carol Lim and Humberto Leon

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Dear readers, the big day is almost here. This Thursday, the KENZO x H&M collection will hit the shelves. I am thrilled to introduce you today a little more to this great collaboration and to the two masterminds behind it. Get to know the designers, that are truly two amazing people, and dive into the must-have pieces. I took many photos for you when I met them in NYC at the H&M showroom on Fifth Avenue.

sandra_bauknecht_kenzoxhm_look_day1_carol_lim_humberto_leonFramed by lovely Carol Lim to the left and Humberto Leon to the right in NYC.

Here is a little bit more insight about CAROL LIM and HUMBERTO LEON, the creative directors of KENZOicon, who have been friends since their studies at the University of California Berkeley.  In 2002, they opened their first store in New York. They took this decision after they had quit their corporate jobs at different fashion houses. Carol was a merchandise planner at Bally and Humberto was at Burberry. Even that it was a little bit of a risky time in New York, they dared this adventure. Not too surprisingly, OPENING CEREMONY went on to become a global sensation because Carol and Humberto bring such enthusiasm and fun to everything they do in fashion.

sandra_bauknecht_balmain_opening_ceremony_backMe running to the OPENING CEREMONY store in Los Angeles in 2013

The street wear brands that the designer duo brought into their store and made partnerships with, the things that they’d seen from their youth when they were growing up in the Los Angeles area, the celebrities who walked into their shop and expressed interest in the collection. This journey lead them to a big milestone in their lives. Five years ago, they became the creative directors at KENZO and transformed the brand immediately into something every fashionista wanted. Do you remember the hype about their tiger head sweaters (click here for a previous post from 2012)…

As you can see from the success, Carol and Humberto were clearly the right choice for the revival of the brand. KENZO TAKADA himself – when he started his brand in the ’70s in Paris – opened a store that was really visionary at the time. He mixed all these different cultures and design elements, and was one of the first ones transforming couture to street wear in a super accessible and fun way.

Therefore, H&M was eager for them to join their long list of designer collaborations. As ANN-SOFIE JOHANSSON, creative adviser at H&M, pointed out: «I think the timing was really right. We had our eyes on KENZO for a while, ever since Carol and Humberto joined and kind of recharged it. It’s really nice to have a house with kind of a history but also new creators giving it new energy

carol_lim_humberto_leon_anne_sofie_johanssonCarol Lim, Humberto Leon and Ann-Sofie Johansson, all in Kenzo x H&M

To begin, Carol and Humberto, looking at the beginning of these collaborations, 2004, the first was with Karl Lagerfeld, a couple years after you opened up your store, what was it like as retailers to see this phenomena happening in fashion, breaking the rules of what a designer brand could be, and what’s happened since then that made it possible for these partnerships to continue to be a success even 12 years later today?

HUMBERTO LEON: I think when we first heard about the Karl Lagerfeld and H&M collection, we were not only store owners but also lovers of buying and shopping and super excited. We were two people who lined up like everyone else. We just recounted all the pieces we had bought. I still own the suit, the dress shirt, the jeans, all these amazing things. I felt like it really gave us as consumers not only a chance to buy a designer, but also something that was created specially for this collaboration. So a really unique experience that is beyond just being able to buy the designer’s goods.

CAROL LIM: Yeah, and I think that having collaborated and having had a store, we realized the importance right away. We were excited to see the two brands coming together, creating something really magical. So for us, we had it marked in our calendars that it was something we were really excited to experience.

KENZO x H&M launch event : directed by Jean-Paul Goude - FIRST LOOKS

Carol and Humberto, why did you think this was right for KENZO as the first brand under the LVMH umbrella to do a partnership with H&M, which is interesting in itself?

CAROL LIM: First, we love the idea of storytelling and also speaking to a broader audience. It is also the perfect opportunity to not only talk to people that know KENZO, but to a whole new customer that could discover the brand. For LVMH, it is the perfect brand to test such a project.

HUMBERTO LEON: The idea of being able to experience the KENZO brand in different ways is really part of our ethos. So this was a no-brainer. H&M has an amazing portfolio of designers that have done this. It feels exciting to be a part of this group of people.

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That’s a really good point. The hesitancy some designers had at the beginning is completely gone now. There’s no reason to not think this is a great thing for them. Tell us about your concept. What is KENZO x H&M?

HUMBERTO LEON: The most exciting part about this collaboration is that every piece we created is somewhat unique for this KENZO x H&M collection. We wanted to treat this as if it was a true conversation between the founder, Kenzo Takada and us. We went into the archives and actually resurrected pieces in their original form but we obviously modernized them. For instance, the dress behind us is one of the famous dresses from a 1978 collection where there were only two pieces made. There’s over I think 300 meters of ribbons. We own one of the two pieces and a museum owns another. So it’s super exciting that the H&M customer can actually come in and get a piece of this.

For Carol and I it was important that everyone knew that this house has a really, really unique story. It started in 1969 by one man before all the other Japanese designers came that now show in Paris. Kenzo Takada was the first. It’s exciting to tell the story of him, his struggles and the joy that he brought to the French capital.

For instance, there are a lot of little details that we found when going through the archives, he finished all the pieces so beautifully that they look like they should be reversible, so we decided to make some reversible as Carol’s skirt among other pieces. I think knitwear is another great example. We did a really amazing knitwear exploration, probably more than a lot of the other collaborations. It’s a big code of the house. So it’s exciting that people can actually buy a piece of this part of history.

sweater_kenzo_hmThe «watermelon» sweater is super soft.

Some of the 110 looks are a little bit wild. Jean-Paul Goude, who did the advertising and imagery, and  worked on the show, described them as nutty. There are pieces that when you look at them out of context, people may not even know how to react to them. There’s like a pink and green tiger striped sweater that could have been inspired by a watermelon. What you were thinking when you decided to go in such a strong fashion approach?

HUMBERTO LEON: We came into it as us, as the fanatical shoppers. We wanted to approach this, and we’re obviously showing really strong looks on the runway, really strong looks on the presentation and the campaigns. But in reality I think, as consumers, you only have a chance to grab as much as you can as there are only a couple of pieces. And the idea we’ve always said is that we want people to mix with what they are already having in their own wardrobe.

We always feel a lot of times when you design fashion, when you give a really strong proposal on the runway, it ends up being really expensive. It’s the €3,000 piece. We thought this would be a fun opportunity to be able to buy a piece of fashion at a really incredible price. I think that’s why we wanted it to be super unique. Most of the stuff was never in our collection. It’s really almost kind of buying a piece of history. The idea is that you can make it your own. And, yes, there are strong pieces. I think that the brand is known for the prints and the color and the fun. We’re showing it one way, and we really feel like in the end people will kind of interpret it their own way.

CAROL LIM: I think true to the spirit of how we work and also the brand we wanted there to be a joyfulness. When you walk into the room and you see the clothing, you can’t help but smile. I also think Humberto is right, when you pull it apart, you’re going to find things. But each piece can stand on its own. Hopefully it’s going to be the kind of piece that, you know, even if you may not wear it at this point in time, you put it in the box and save it and it comes back out. We wanted to approach every single item that way.

KENZO x H&M launch event : directed by Jean-Paul Goude - FIRST LOOKS

It seems there is something for many different types of customers, different generations in this collection. Who do you think is the customer for it, in your mind? With all this fashion, what challenges did you face, given the huge scale of this project?

HUMBERTO LEON: I feel like the customer who has grown and loved KENZO for the last almost 50 years will look at this and say, Whoa, they really arced back into the spirit of KENZO. I think that customer who is probably in their 50s, 60s, will be super excited to see what this is and reminisce about what this brand is. I think for a younger generation, there’s a lot of stuff that Carol and I injected into the brand that you can easily understand and  incorporate into your wardrobe. In many ways, there’s almost something for everyone. We always said, and Kenzo Takada also mentioned, it’s not about an age, it’s really about a spirit. So this collection is for a youthful spirit. That can really be an ageless notion.

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CAROL LIM: Actually H&M were incredible partners. The ribbon dress was not an easy feat to accomplish but they were able to create everything. They were equally as excited about pushing it to the right quality and the finishing. So everything, even the small little buttons for which we created specific hardware, down to even the thread. 

74f89b2552b6e7fe5213c3e02af4c60bHans Feurer, Kenzo ad campaign, 1983

Let’s go back to the specific references within the collection. It’s really quite fascinating what you found in the archives, more so than perhaps you even do in the KENZO collections. There is the net print from maybe the second collection you showed in the showroom. What other elements are actually from the archives here?

HUMBERTO LEON: All the florals are from the archives. So you see all the florals and the ribbon tapes. There’s these floral dresses. The original kind of leopard print is from the archives.

One of the things we decided to do was do a mash-up between the archives prints and our prints. So you see the original tiger print that was on these amazing photos that Hans Feurer shot of the three women in these body suits, three-colored body suits. So this is from the archives. We recreated those jumpsuits in the collection. They’re two pieces, so it’s not one full body suit. But they’re these amazing, washable wool. So it’s an amazing fabric. H&M really took the time to redevelop these fabrics for today’s times, so they’re super cool, washable wool jerseys.

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Aside from that, the fuzzy coat is one of the first things that Kenzo Takada made. He made these hoodies, jackets and everything, even faux fur, the latter was kind of a great little fabric that really kind of brings us back to when he began, almost this kind of great naïve way of working that was just raw.

floral_top_hm_kenzoThe cropped floral top.

But I think the off-the-shoulder thing is something that if you are a KENZO fan through the years, like, different journalists have told us, I bought my first off-the-shoulder piece back in the day. We recreated those pieces both in a little crop top and this floral pleated ensemble. These are all really kind of signature details of the house.

img_3781The must-have sweatshirt

Then obviously Carol and I brought in the sweatshirts, made those a big thing for the house. We wanted to celebrate that and give the icon, which says KENZO Paris, with the running tiger in the back, is actually from the archives. That is from a piece from the ’80s. So we really, really brought in a lot of archival elements into the mix, which we felt like was such a great way to celebrate the brand.

CAROL LIM: Then we also have a lot of silhouettes we created in our first and second collection. There’s a sleeveless reversible silk dress with the medallion in the larger and smaller scale. There’s kind of a long tiger striped dress. Each piece is kind of speaking back to the archives or the period of time we kind of put our collections out.

HUMBERTO LEON: Yes, the medallions come from a little tie and a silk square that is from the archives, as well.

Kimonos over the must-have ribbon dresses.

You are mixing global cultures, there are the sandals, there’s a kimono in the collection. How do you approach that as designers when you’re kind of sampling from different cultures in a sense? What kind of message does that promote for the brand?

HUMBERTO LEON: Carol and I have always used our travels as a prime example of where we gain inspiration. We try to really embrace the authenticity of cultures. Similar to Kenzo Takada, who also had these famous travels that he brought back into his brand. But you have to give it your own take and twist it. I would say that our kimonos, it’s not a rub-off of a traditional Japanese kimono. It’s really a fashion take on that silhouette. We made them reversible. We made them cropped. I think the idea is to be inspired by culture, but at the same time I think hint and reference to it, but also give it your own take, your own personality.

hm_kenzo_lookbookFor the lookbook, click here.

There’s a lot of personality in the lookbook. I’m sure the reaction you’ve seen to this already tells you quite a lot about how welcome the representation of diversity is in fashion today. How did you select the group represented? How did you approach them? How do they reflect the values of KENZO x H&M?

HUMBERTO LEON: When we sat down and talked about this project, Carol and I wanted people to represent, first and foremost, themselves, something that they stood by. Individuality was a really big expression in what we were looking for. People that were authentic and that expressed themselves. So we  didn’t look at the models how they looked but what they stood for as human beings. It was a really kind of genuine approach Then as a bonus, they all looked amazing in the clothing. There was a big diversity. There’s a makeup artist, a performer, a singer, a journalist. I think that we could really relate to these people as you could imagine sitting down at a dinner table with them and having great conversations. They felt like great ambassadors for us. 

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And what about the campaign?

HUMBERTO LEON: For the campaign, we have everyone from Chance The Rapper, Iman, Rosario Dawson, Martinez, Suboi. These amazing people from all around the world that in many ways are our idols that we think stand for something so great and so exciting. The look look together with the campaign presents a great group of people, really authentic and real to us.

kenzo-2012-fallKenzo F/W 2012 campaign shot by Jean-Paul Goude

Tell us about Jean-Paul’s involvement. How did you approach him? Isn’t there’s a slight connection to Kenzo Takada himself. Why was he the person for the ad campaign?

CAROL LIM: Humberto and I have been fans of Jean-Paul from growing up. I think we’re familiar with his work as an art director, as a photographer, and as really an image maker. When we first joined KENZO, Humberto and I, we were brainstorming about who would shoot the first campaign? Humberto came up with Jean-Paul. As we were dreaming up who we wanted to collaborate with when we joined the house, he was the first person that we approached. Through luck and perseverance and through developing a relationship with him, he came and he actually said to us, I know Kenzo Takada. Through scheduling conflicts, they never worked together. I can sense the energy of what you’re bringing. He’s very much about a personal connection. So he shot our first campaign for us at KENZO and we formed a very deep bond with him.

So when this partnership came about, we even deepened his involvement with the event. If you’ve seen any of his happenings, for example this incredible bicentennial for France. What he’s able to do on an event level, even on windows, a lot of different things, we thought if he would be open to it, would he be interested in working with us on this project.

untitled-article-1461238096-body-image-1461238226Grace Jones by Jean-Paul Goude

HUMBERTO LEON: I mean, even prior to everything Carol just said, I don’t know if everyone knows how amazing Jean-Paul Goude is, but he obviously did all those amazing Grace Jones covers, all this amazing, amazing work with different brands, incredible people. But Carol and I, even before we joined KENZO, when we were doing our interview for the job, the first question they asked, they said, Who are you going to get to shoot the campaign? We said, Jean-Paul Goude. They said, Oh, wow. Do you know him? We said, No. They said, How are you going to get him to shoot the campaign? We said, We don’t know, we’re going to figure it out. Okay, you get the job, let’s see if you can figure this out. In our first and second campaign, Jean-Paul shot it. We became friends. That was really the main thing that happened. We went into this as a part two of what we had done. I think that the show and the runway experience, it’s a deepened relationship because he really hasn’t done too many performances, art directed, creative directed too many performances. The bicentennial is probably the most famous.

kenzo_takadaSince selling KENZO to LVMH in 1993, Kenzo Takada has travelled the world and set up his own interior company.

What would Mr. Takada say about your collaboration with H&M? Would he approve?

HUMBERTO LEON: I think he would love it. I mean, number one, I guess it’s not good to say he’s a fan. But he’s a fan of what we do. He comes to our shows. We’ve had conversations with him where he really feels like we brought the energy and spirit of what he did in the ’70s and ’80s back, and that our values feel very similar to his values. In many ways, I feel like one of his biggest objectives and things that brought him the most joy was just seeing people wearing his clothing. I think this is an amazing opportunity to see more people wearing this brand that he created. I think that Carol and I have never shied away from our efforts really kind of being an homage to what he does. So I think he’d be thrilled, excited to see, I don’t know, after November 3rd, just people on the streets wearing these prints and these propositions that he once created, obviously newly thought about and newly done, but in a way seeing these things walk on people.

CAROL LIM: He’s known for being, and still, one of the most generous people in terms of his spirit and kindness. He’s had amazing, legendary parties, not only at his home but his shows. He staged them in elaborate ways and always included people he admired, his friends,different artists. I mean, before there was this term ‘collaboration’, he was doing it naturally. I think he would be really excited about this.

The reversible kimonos are amazing.

I would like to know more about your creative process. Do you sit down together or do you start separately from each other? Do you present then your ideas each other? Have you ever had an argument about a design one of you wanted to do and the other didn’t approve?

HUMBERTO LEON: Never about that. I think Carol and I talk a lot. The reason we were able to do as much as we do is because we’re together. I think we also know what we’re both good at. I think in 15 years we’ve been able to learn the other side of what we’re not good at. I feel like we’ve been able to really communicate well. We definitely never argue over, you know, whether or not something is good or bad or right in terms of design. I feel like we’re pretty in sync. At the end of the day we have the same end goal. Both of us are trying to work towards that end goal.

What are you strongest at and what is she strongest at?

HUMBERTO LEON: Inherently, I was the creative director doing more of the creative, and then Carol came in more as the business person. I think as everyone has learned today, the two really go hand-in-hand. I think that’s where we feel like our strength is, is really questioning every aspect of it and making sure what the end consumer gets is exciting and of value.

Thank you, Carol and Humberto, for giving us an amazing insight in the collection!

The Kenzo x H&M collection will be available in over 250 H&M stores worldwide, as well as online, from this Thursday, November 3, 2016.

LoL, Sandra

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Photos: Courtesy of H&M, Kenzo, © Jean-Paul Goude and © Sandra Bauknecht

My Life Is a Play

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In the magnificent setting of the famous Forte Belvedere in Florence with stunning views over the Tuscan city, Salvatore Ferragamo launched their newest fragrance. A creation dedicated to women who like to play with their different characters. “My life is a play” is their credo.

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When I arrived in my hotel, a game waited for me: a little bag filled with wooden letters. I was asked to come up with the possible name of the new fragrance that would be presented in the evening. As I love playing scrabble, I did a pretty good job and wrote the actual name «Misteriosa» which I didn’t know at that time yet. I took a photo on instagram as proof.

Misteriosa RevealLuciano Bertinelli, CEO of Salvatore Ferragamo Parfums, unveils the new scent.

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Setting

My life is a play” was also the theme of the exclusive cocktail party and gala dinner. We were welcomed above the city of Florence with stunning installations by Patricia Urquiola. The perfect backdrop for the newest addition to the Signorina family, «Misteriosa». The new oriental fruity scent offers an innovative olfactive interpretation of black shades with a strong gourmand core.

Pyramid Olfactory Ferragamo

Top notes: Wild Blackberry and Neroli
Middle notes: Orange Blossom and Tuberose
Base notes: Black Vanilla Mousse and Patchouli

Zhanna Bianca, Massimiliano Giornetti, Grace Hartzel, Sandra BauknechtPhotographer Zhanna Bianca, Massimiliano Giornetti, Grace Hartzel and my humble self.

Dinner Misteriosa

A dance performance, a gourmet menu and many more surprises waited for me. I had the honor to be seated next to Massimiliano Giornetti, Creative Director of Salvatore Ferragamo, and the special guest star on scene: top model Grace Hartzel, the new face of Signorina, with whom I had a lovely conversation.

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What does it mean to you to be the face of this new fragrance?
It makes me feel so wonderful! It has always been my dream to be the testimonial of a luxury fragrance brand. Working with the Salvatore Ferramamo team was so amazing, they are all fantastic and we had so much fun.

What was your immediate thought/emotion when you smelled Signorina Misteriosa for the first time?
I could feel the unpredictable, daring and mysterious belladonna phantom and become her.

You like Mangas, you cut a bang yourself which gave you a lot of success, you seem to do everything your very own way. Today, you were the star on the dance floor. Are you a Signorina Misteriosa? And if you feel like it, please tell me why.
Yes I do feel like a big part of me is her, because I love to be independent and do things my own way.

What do you like most about Mangas?
I love how it’s such a different world. It’s so fantasy. The characters are very inspiring, and the artwork is beautiful.

What would be the best advice you would give to a young upcoming model friend?
To express your own style and personality. Have inner strength and be kind.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? What would be your biggest dream to come true?
I want to pursue music and acting.

Graze in 3 words.
Joy , groovy, cosmic.

Grace_On_StageOn stage: Luciano Bertinelli, CEO of Salvatore Ferragamo Parfums, with Grace Hartzel.

What a great night. Later, Grace and I went on the dance floor. That is the beauty of life. We can choose every day which one of our facets we are going to interpret. Let the play start, but always remain the same person!

Signorina Ferragamo Bottles

Signorina Misteriosa is available now as Eau de Parfum 30ml (CHF 69.00), 50ml (CHF 99.00) and 100ml (CHF 129.00), as Duschgel 200ml (CHF 40.00) and as Bodylotion 200ml (CHF 45.00).

LoL, Sandra

Signorina by Zhanna BiancaPhoto: © Zhanna Bianca
The perfect backdrop for Misteriosa: Florence

IMG_5384One of my favorite dishes in Florence: the traditional pappa al pomodoro – bread and tomato soup.

Misteriosa PerformanceBeautiful dance performance with spectacular views of the Duomo in Florence.

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The new ad campaign and below the video:

Photos: Courtesy of Salvatore Ferragamo, © Sandra Bauknecht, © Zhanna Bianca, @ Grammio
A huge thank you to my fellow Marionnaud blogger and friend Katrin Roth for taking all the photos of me! Love traveling with you!

Tea Time at Elton John’s Home

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One beautiful sunny day last fall, I flew to London to follow Lalique‘s very exclusive invitation to have tea time at Elton John’s gorgeous home. The reason for this once in a lifetime experience was the launch of the ELTON JOHN MUSIC IS LOVE FOR LALIQUE collection that includes four exceptional crystal sculptures. As you can imagine, the estate is breathtaking and Sir Elton John is absolutely lovely to talk to.

elton john_music_is_love_Lalique_Sandra_BauknechtInside Sir Elton John’s beautiful home

«The ultimate goal of this project is to raise money to support urgently needed projects that address the continuing challenges of the AIDS epidemic across the globe. In doing so, we also want to create beautiful and meaningful pieces for people to purchase that speak to the high standards of the Elton John AIDS Foundation and Lalique. Through purchasing one of these crystal pieces, people are also learning something about EJAF’s work and helping to make a real difference in the lives of people in need.»
– Sir Elton John

elton john_music_is_love_Lalique-3Inside the house’s art gallery where Sir Elton John and David Furnish officially tied the knot in 2014.

IMG_1084David Furnish and Lalique designer Marc Larminaux listen to Sir Elton John’s speech.

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Four Special Editions (the unique Angel Cire Perdue, the Heart in platinum enamelled red crystal, the Heart in gold enamelled clear crystal and the Angel in gold-stamped clear crystal) each signed by Sir Elton John, will be auctioned during this weekend’s 2016 Academy Awards, in partnership with Paddle8, to benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

IMG_1181The unique Angel Cire Perdue.

«I don’t think that I have ever seen a more beautiful piece of glass than the big Angel. It is breathtaking!»
– Sir Elton John

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The standing Angel in clear crystal and the Heart in clear or red crystal are available at Lalique boutiques and their select retailers. Lalique will contribute 10% of sales to the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

elton john_music_is_love_Lalique-12The socle of the statue engraved by Sir Elton John.

Sir Elton John, the theme of the pieces is ‘Music is Love’. Why do you think music and love have always been so intricately entwined?

Love is one of the primary forces that can unite us and bring us together despite our differences. Indeed, love shows us that the differences dividing us from each other are ultimately very superficial, that we have so much more in common than not. Music is a powerful medium for expressing all the many faces of love, and it is a participatory medium. Music draws us together. It is a universal language. We come together to make music, to listen to music, to share music. This is why I believe that music and love are synonymous, that music IS love.

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Music is your passion and your most widely-known medium of expression. How have you found working in sculpture, particularly in crystal?

The process of artistic creation – whether for music or dance or visual art – arises from the same impetus, the same need to express thoughts, feelings, ideas. I found the entire design process for this project – from theorising, to working and revising with drawings, to realising the concept as a three-dimensional object – to be absolutely exhilarating. Working in crystal is fascinating, and Lalique crystal has an amazing way of constantly changing with light and shadow, the time of day… Such a beautiful, magical medium!
The finished piece is even more exciting and beautiful than I ever could have imagined. I’m completely thrilled with it and really looking forward to the auction in February 2016.

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You’re a collector of glass and crystal, and have a number of Lalique pieces in your collection. What is it that you appreciate about crystal and Lalique in particular?

For me, Lalique stands for craftsmanship, luxury and a strong tradition of devotion to the art of producing the highest quality, most beautiful objects using these materials. Lalique sets a standard of craftsmanship that is simply unparalleled in the world. I think glass is a much underappreciated art form. That is why I collect it and I love it very much and Lalique to me represents the Rolls-Royce of glass.
As an oral artist who makes music, the visual arts of glass inspire me when I write a song or when I play the piano, because every day I get up and I am surrounded by glass and a lot of Lalique. Subconsciously, it inspires me to do better things, I think.

heart-red-white-crystal--elton-john-music-is-love-for-laliqueMUSIC IS LOVE Heart Red Crystal (limited edition of 499 pieces) and Heart Clear Crystal (limited edition of 999 pieces).

«The heart is a universal symbol of love.»
– Sir Elton John

elton john_music_is_love_Lalique_Sandra_Bauknecht2

You have also been working with the Lalique design team to create three other sculptures – a smaller angel and two heart sculptures, with part of the proceeds going to the Foundation. What do these symbolise for you?

The heart is a universal symbol of love, as well as the Angel. Love is ultimately what guides and inspires the work of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and love is what we need to end this epidemic. Science has made amazing advances in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. But unless we love each other enough to make sure that everyone – no matter who they love, what they do, how they look or what they believe – has the resources to stay healthy and prevent further transmission of the disease, then all the science in the world will be for naught. LOVE is the ultimate solution to AIDS.

Thank you, Sir Elton John, for this amazing invitation!

To visit the Lalique website where you can shop the limited edition pieces or bid for the collector’s items, click HERE please.

LoL, Sandra

elton john_music_is_love_Lalique-2The beautiful library.

elton john_music_is_love_Lalique-8The estate is truly breathtaking.

elton john_music_is_love_Lalique-23Sir Elton John in front of the three other sculptures that are available in stores.

elton john_music_is_love_Lalique-32Sir Elton John is a dedicated art collector.

elton john_music_is_love_Lalique-33Art plays a very important role in the life of the famous singer.

IMG_1034I loved this statue inside the guest bathroom.

Sandra_Bauknecht_Silvio_DenzWith Lalique owner Silvio Denz in front of the unique Angel Cire Perdue.

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Being at Sir Elton John’s home was a truly special experience that I will treasure forever. I am wishing Lalique and him good luck this weekend to achieve the best result possible in the auction.

Stay tuned for more coming up from Los Angeles where I will be from Thursday on…

LoL, Sandra

Photos: © Sandra Bauknecht, Stills: Courtesy of Lalique

Poison Girl

Poison girlPOISON_EMPIRE

The House of Dior has written history. It was 1985, I was a little girl and absolutely fascinated by that gorgeous green box and the curvy aubergine bottle: POISON. Either you have loved it or you have hated it.

I wanted it so badly but I was obviously too young. My time would come. 1998, HYPNOTIC POISON was launched. A rebel on the perfume market. The first so to say aphrodisiac scent. A vanilla oriental, tempting and with so much sex appeal, lush and beautiful.

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2016 marks a new chapter in the Poison story: POISON GIRL. A bitter sweet floral, scandalously delicious. Camilla Rowe is the face, a young femme fatale. She is a party girl full of power. She is a pop-feminist who seduces and fulfills her dreams. Enjoy this short interview with Dior’s newest face:

Did you know the mythical Poison perfume universe?

I’m too young to have experienced the Poison “phenomenon,” but entering a house as legendary as Dior already means so much!

Do you like the Poison Girl scent?

Yes, I really like sensual, assertive perfumes. I really like the idea of noble raw materials. You need to know how to strike a balance with this type of perfume, but I adore its instant personality.

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Your favourite music?

Difficult!! I have so many. At the moment I’m listening to Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra’s album again and again.

The Stones or the Beatles?

Oh I hate that question! But I do have an answer. In fact, I love all the Stones’ albums but I don’t love all the Beatles’ albums. But, in my opinion, the Beatles’ music that I do I like beats everything else!

Dior poison girl

A director you like?

I like Jim Jarmusch for the way he derides her characters. They are very funny, without being in a comical register. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen “Down By Law”!

An unforgettable journey?

Definitely Iceland. I went there one day on a sudden impulse. Since then I’ve been back several times. I adore the country and I adore the Icelanders. They are incredible and genuine. Today they are still steeped in their magical folklore. They don’t have any problem talking to you about trolls! I love that capacity for imagination, and for keeping a fresh open mind.

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Any particular diet?

I eat everything in moderation, but I don’t follow any particular diet. I avoid fast food because I don’t like it, but I allow myself everything else.

Any particular sport?

I do Yasa Yoga every morning in New York. I also go surfing in Montauk and Rockaway near New York.And a close friend and I have got into the habit of going “speed” walking, and we cross the Williamsburg bridge together. Generally I like to stay active.

Camilla rowe

Best Shopping?

I like really comfortable clothes. I love Jane Birkin’s style: jeans and a shopping basket. I have a pretty impressive collection of jeans and t-shirts.

Best Make-up?

When I go out, just a beautiful red lipstick. And Diorskin Star foundation by Dior, which I love. I really like their concealer too.

Skincare?

In the plane before a shoot I hydrate my skin enormously as it is hyper-sensitive and reacts to everything. In fact I have adopted Dior’s “Hydralife” line which I love.

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Regarding your online life (you have thousands of followers), do you think it would be so intense if you weren’t a top model?

My Instagram is mostly personal. The fact that my name doesn’t appear proves it – I use my pseudonym, “Fingermonkey.” I’ve never wanted to use my real name, even when Victoria’s Secret asked me to so that I would have even more followers.

I hardly ever post anything work-related unless it’s something I really care about. All the content is very personal – I’m not looking for the perfect photo. I don’t think my followers are the same ones that follow other models. My Instagram is coherent with who I am, and that also enables me professionally to attract houses that appreciate who I really am.

Why the name “Fingermonkey” for your Instagram account?

Matt Jones, a photographer with whom I work a lot, has always called me “Monkey” because I’m very… boisterous!

One day, on set with him, I had just discovered this new app – it was in the early days of Instagram. I wanted to create my account immediately with the nickname “monkey” but it was already taken, so we came up with “Fingermonkey”! So this weird name began as a joke, but today there are lots of people who only know me through my “Fingermonkey” account!

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POISON GIRL will hit the shelves in Switzerland on January 27, 2016.

Eau de Parfum 100ml (CHF 187.00), 50ml (CHF 133.00) and 30ml (CHF 85.00).

LoL, Sandra

Photos: Courtesy of Dior

Merry Perry

Merry Perry Cover Final

It is a Monday evening and I am at home when my phone rings. It is Katy Perry from Rio de Janeiro where she is currently on her Prismatic World Tour 2015. A lovely chat about fashion, style and her collaboration with H&M for Christmas!

Katy Perry is one of the highest paid celebrities in the world and was the first artist to surpass 75 million digital downloads, and the only female singer to have five Billboards no1s from the same album (California Gurls, Teenage Dream, Firework, E.T. and Last Friday Night). The 31-year-old has the most Twitter followers as a single person with over 78 million and 33 million Instagram fans. This holiday season, the pop sensation, who writes most of her songs herself, has teamed up with H&M for a collection that offers all you can dream of for the Christmas season.

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How were you involved in the creative process of the collaboration with H&M?
Cozy and cool are the key words. H&M approached me to be the face and represent the holidays for them. I wasn’t involved in the design process but I put the actual looks together.
For me it was an easy decision as I am so into all of the fall holidays, such as Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

It felt also very authentic to me because at the age of 13/14/15 I was starting my own style and I was always mixing H&M with my vintage clothes.

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What is your favourite piece of the collection and why?
I actually have three. First I love the «elfie selfie» sweater, it is a funny, great piece with lots of embellishments and shows the outline of an elf.
Then there is a beautiful well-fitted black suit jacket that has sleeves like a kimono and the red dress that I wore for one of the shots with black dangling earrings. I have this latin flair in the photo which I like.

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You are definitely no wallflower when it comes to fashion and trends. It seems like you truly enjoy dressing up. You are always catching eyes. Was your style always that eccentric? How did it evolve?
For me it is either dressing all the way up or a black and white tracksuit. It is never inbetween. It is a hundred percent or zero percent. In my teenage years or even in my twenties, I had always been very colourful and looked like in a cartoon. I never wore black as this is very boring to me. Lately, I started to wear a little black like black leather pants.

How do you dress when you are at home?
At home, I like being casual. I wear a tracksuit or my Calvin Klein top and bottom. But I always wear a lot of different stuff when I go out. I take a lot of chances not to be nominated for the best dressed lists but I like to have fun.

Katy Perry HM Shoes

What does fashion mean to you?
It is just another way to express my creativity and how I feel about myself. So many times, I am out in public to do something but I don’t get to meet people. I don’t get to shake everybody’s hand, but fashion is a way to present myself. What I wear gives everyone a feeling of how I feel that day. Sometimes it is fun, sometimes it is flirty but ninety percent of the time my outfit has a sense of humour.

What is favourite piece of clothing in your closet and why?
Not a favourite piece but I find that really nice jewellery never goes out of style. I have a big wardrobe and I go through it maybe twice a year and pull out all the stuff that doesn’t make sense to me anymore but I my jewellery tends to stand the test of time.

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Three pieces of clothes or accessories every woman should own?
A nice pair of diamond earrings and they don’t have to be real. A little sparkle close to your face always highlights your face. A nice corset underwear. One of those pieces with a bra and undies that shapes your waist and a timeless black jacket that can go on for ten years.

Do you have a style icon? Somebody whom you admire for her or his looks? If yes, who and why.
Yes, I do. Two people come to my mind. I like Chloë Sevigny, the American actress, she can go in between, very chic and very hipster. Grunge, a little bit of 70s, she tries a lot of different things.
And my friend Rihanna. It is so fun to see her walk out of her hotel room in something that you never thought it could be wearable and she pulls it of so well without trying too hard.

Katy Perry H&M

You have changed your hair colour so many times. How do you keep your hair looking healthy despite all the colour treatments?
Whenever I die it, I will take a long time to get to the new colour. I would never go overnight! I play with a lot of a wigs that make it look like I am dying my hair all the time. I also trim my hair a lot along the way and luckily I am able to work a lot with super professionals.

Do you have a personal stylist? If yes, how do you work together. If not, how do you choose and get your looks?
I work with a couple different stylists for different themes. For the H&M campaign for example together with B. Åkerlund, Jonas Åkerlund’s wife, who shot the commercial. They are a team. She helped style it and was extremely creative. She is very costumy and knows how to put an outfit together. She is larger than life and works with the likes of Beyoncé and Madonna.

Katy Perry

How would you describe your personal style?
It is all about having fun and expressing myself, not about playing a political fashion game. I don’t play by the rules, I don’t care if I make it to the best dressed list. If I feel my best, that is the list I want to make!

Thank you, Katy, for this very refreshing interview!

I still cannot believe that Katy Perry called me at home on a Monday night… this is just too cool!
The Katy Perry x H&M Christmas collection is in stores now.

LoL, Sandra

Photos: Courtesy of H&M
This interview is now also available in German and French in the recent L’Officiel Switzerland issues!

Bobbi Brown Luxe Lip Colour

BOBBI BROWN LUXE LIPS

Bobbi Brown‘s boldest, most vibrant lip color ever: LUXE LIP. This sumptuous formula dramatically boosts moisture levels while intensely rejuvenating lips, keeping them comfortable and conditioned—even after it’s removed. Now in 30 shades, with a sleek gold tube. It’s luxury, redefined. I am obsessed.

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Kate Upton is the face of the campaign. You can watch the video at the end of this post but before I would like to invite you to enjoy Bobbi Brown’s insider tips on the right lip make-up.

What makes this new lip color formula so special?

BB: Luxe Lip is our most luxurious lipstick yet. It glides on effortlessly and gives lips rich, vibrant color with an ultra- luxurious finish. The nourishing formula is packed with moisturizers and peptides that work behind the scenes to make lips look softer and smoother—even after it’s taken off.

What does luxury mean to you?

BB: It’s all about the simple pleasures – a book you can’t put down, really good espresso, a hot bath after a long day. When it comes to beauty, luxury is defined by things that are timeless and made with the very best ingredients.

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 Can you describe the process of how you name lip colors?

BB: Inspiration for shades comes from everything I see in my daily life – from fabrics to countries to food. In this collection you’ll find names like Red Velvet, Sunset Orange, and Raspberry Pink. It’s also important that each name help women understand what the color actually looks like—makeup shouldn’t be complicated. Russian Doll is inspired by the color of cheeks and lips after being outside in the cold—rosy red. It’s a subtle, yet statement-making lip color. Parisian Red is inspired by French style. French women are known for their sexy, effortless brand of cool so this is the color that you can wear without any other makeup and still look pulled together. It is true red that instantly brightens up the complexion. And the shade Your Majesty is inspired by London—one of my favorite places in the world. When I’m in London, I’m constantly on-the-go—visiting my favorite sights, restaurants and meeting with friends. Your Majesty delivers just the right amount of depth – it’s sophisticated and royal – making it the perfect lip color to wear from day to night and on any occasion.

Any tips to finding the perfect everyday lip color?

BB: To find the most flattering nude lipstick, use the natural coloring of lips as a guide. The best shade will either match or be one or two shades brighter or darker than lips.

What is a beauty must when wearing bolder lip colors?

BB: Make sure lips are smooth and conditioned before applying lipstick; bright color can accentuate uneven lip texture. And for the most precise look, use a Lip Brush to apply lipstick; keep color within the natural lines of lips. Also, make sure to keep the makeup balanced—bright and bold lips look most modern with simple eye makeup.

When Luxe Lip meets the Lust List: super-talented Australian artist, Sally Spratt, created 15 hand-drawn mood boards featuring the gorgeous new shades and the countries that inspired them.
For the full list, click here please.

12119168_10153621877245539_2511724057596730362_nFor girls who love fast cars, you’ll love Retro Coral.

1458481_10153621877365539_6987699484916210991_nFor the woman who’s the epitome of modern glamour, meet the gorgeous Hot Rose shade.

12118819_10153621877170539_4354138128154048061_nThe brilliant Great Barrier Reef inspired this beauty in Atomic Orange.
The new lipstick collection is in stores now for CHF 47.00 each.

LoL, Sandra

Photos: Courtesy of Bobbi Brown

Interview with Olivier Rousteing

Interview_Olivier_Rousteing

At the age of 30, Olivier Rousteing, the creative director of Balmain, is H&M‘s latest designer collaborator. Since five years , he has been at the helmet of the French fashion house and is one of the youngest creative directors in the world. He has shot to fame in the succeeding thanks to his glamorous designs and also his groundbreaking sense for social media. His vision is to combine pop culture, music and fashion.

         Together with Ann‑Sofie Johansson, the creative advisor at H&M, he answered some questions regarding his upcoming collaboration with H&M that will hit the stores worldwide tomorrow, November 5, 2015.

H&M-BalmainOlivier Rousteing and Ann-Sofie Johansson

            Olivier, how did you feel when H&M called you and asked you to be their newest collaborator?

       OR: It was just something amazing like «Oh, my God, it’s happening to me..». It was a dream come true because I’m H&M generation boy. For me being part of the H&M story, it’s an honor, it’s a privilege, it’s something that celebrates a vision and aesthetic.

            10 years ago I was part of the Cavalli collaboration. I was an assistant and now 10 years later I’m with Balmain, the creative director, and am building that amazing story. When H&M calls to ask for your aesthetic and vision, it’s a big achievement for a designer. I’m very proud to be part of it.

         Ann-Sofie, why did H&M want to work with Balmain and Olivier?

            ASJOlivier is a fantastic designer, of course. He achieved so many great things at Balmain. WE at H&M have a wish list of designers we would like to collaborate with. Olivier was on it. We also get a lot of questions from our customers, demands really, who to collaborate with next. Olivier was also one of the top names there.

            We were super happy when Olivier and Balmain said yes. It’s also fun to have a collaboration that is opposite to what we did last year with Wang, that was really sporty and streety. This time, it is opulent, glamorous and sexy. 

Olivier_Rousteing_Balmain

            Olivier, we all know about the #BalmainArmy. The hashtag for this collaboration is #HMBalmaination. It is like a message of unity, something that is very important to you. Talk a little bit please about why is that so integral to Balmain and H&M.

            OR: I think I love fashion for two reasons. Because I love to do clothes and to deliver a vision of diversity and unity the same time. With H&M it was literally expressing the diversity.

            Also, why ‘nation’? In this nation I could have so many different people. First because obviously this line is more affordable than my own line. Building the Balmain Army means creating a nation that believes in my universe, the DNA of Balmain. With this collaboration, I can reach more people, different ages, also different continents because Balmain has not so many stores as H&M.

Kylie Jenner wearing H&M x Balmain

 Olivier, can you explain please why you decided to remake and sort of revise some of the greatest hits from your past four years?

OR: Because I still remember around 10 years ago when I was in the line to actually get the pieces from different collaborations for myself. I loved watching the runway shows and thought so many times, I wished I could afford this jacket or those pants. I remember my feeling of frustration.

            So now I can see with my Instagram, my followers, dreaming of some pearls, some different craftsmanship. Once in my life I want to make it up. Thanks to H&M, we can make it happen.

         Ann‑Sofie, like you said, this collection is very different than last year’s, which was Alexander Wang, really sporty. What was the process like for H&M? It obviously has a lot of lux detailing. Was that a new experience for everyone?

            ASJ: It was a challenge. Of course, there are different challenges with different collaborations. This time, it was the handcrafted details. We were I have to say a little bit scared if we were able to pull it off or not and now we’re super happy with the result. I know that Olivier is, as well. We work with really skilled suppliers that we’ve been working with for many, many years. They are also super proud of being part of this collaboration.

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  Was there a specific piece that was the most challenging?

            ASJ: All the pieces, but definitely the black and white dress, which is fully beaded. 250,000 pearls are on that dress.

          Olivier, how about you, how did you experience the collaboration?

OR: Drama (laughter). Working with H&M, it’s a big achievement because as a designer you push yourself so much more. You know the price range and it’s obvious that you can’t use some techniques, but you want to make sure it looks the best. I wanted to bring affordable couture and that’s why I’m really, really proud of the result.

Balmain HM Shop

            To see the collection on the racks over there, there is a mix of embellished pieces, but you put some simpler things, like the sweater that Ann‑Sofie is wearing.

            OR: I think it’s important. When H&M contacted me, I asked myself: what is the Balmain DNA, what do we want to bring to the store? I said there are two pillars, the couture, but also the tailoring. Even for the simplest pieces, the fit is amazing, the fabric is good. I think we managed to find a real good balance for this collection. You can get a dress to party all night long and be really glamourous or you can opt for a jacket with buttons which you can wear during daytime.

         That’s why I talked about diversity. I think it was important to reach different kind of women.

_73A9065Olivier’s three muses: Jourdan Dunn, Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner

            You are an Instagram star with 1.6 million followers now. I don’t think many other designers come close. Obviously your fans get a lot from you through social media. They learn about you and your life. What do you get as a designer and also what does Balmain and H&M get as brands from Instagram?

            OR: I think the most important part is that you get feedback from the people that love you and also from the ones that hate you. Social media today is a really nice way of advertising and showing who you are, what is your vision, what is your aesthetic.
 What is amazing with Instagram, if you want to know it, you can follow me. If you don’t want to, you can unfollow me. I think it’s a more honest way to actually share with people. You’re not really advertising, you’re just being yourself, taking selfies in the morning after showing what’s happening in your studio, showing the clothes, showing also how it could be hard work to make it up. I think people love to see the process.

  Personally speaking, it’s also a way to keep my feet on the ground because I find a way to keep contact with reality. I can read some comments, I can see how hard life can be for some people. It’s a good balance for my glamorous life.

     Let’s talk about the menswear, too as there’s a big selection. Did you approach that the same way with the idea of keeping the tailoring central but also the embellishments and embroideries?

            ORThis men’s collection is like an access to my closet. I love my double‑breasted jacket, I love my coats, my leather pants, my T‑shirts, my embroidered jackets. It’s like my personal wardrobe. Reminiscent of Instagram where I like to share, I wanted to give the exact same clothes to those who can’t afford what I’m doing. I’m really, really proud.

          Moreover, I am so happy that this menswear collection is something that a lot of women like and could actually wear. Balmain DNA is when a woman can also get the menswear jacket and everything. This is really interesting. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of women are going to go for the menswear line also.

          Androgyny is very of much in the current vogue. People are talking about it a lot in fashion. Considering that Balmain’s DNA is so opulent and glamorous, it seems like it perhaps doesn’t really fit with this new trend. Like you say, it actually does.

            OR: Completely. I think Balmain is not only flamboyant and rich, because it has 200,000 beads on a dress. It’s because you can wear a menswear jacket and feel really strong, confident, not  afraid. That’s what I’m building with my Balmain Army, the H&M Balmain Nation. You know who you are with a menswear jacket, with a really short beaded dress. It’s about confidence and about believing in yourself.

What will this collaboration do for Balmain as a brand?

            OR: I think as a brand, is going to open the doors to our stores because Balmain is not known in some countries. It’s a great access to understand the Balmain world better, that it’s not only about the embroidery dress, but more about the tailoring. And it’s a great way to give younger people an access to Balmain.

Alessandra Ambrosia wearing the must-have jacket on the runway.

       Speaking about the clothes, do you both have favorites, any predictions on what you think will be the top sellers?

            OR: Yes, I have my favorite, it’s the double‑breasted jacket with the pearls and velvet that Kendall was wearing at the Billboards when we announced the collaboration. I love the pearls because it’s part of my first season. It’s kind of emotional for me, but I’m really proud that this jacket is going to be in stores.

Sandra_Bauknecht_Jacket_HM_BalmainMe wearing the black jacket with gold buttons.

What are a the key pieces of this collection that you can recommend that you can start a great closet with?

            OR: The black jacket with gold buttons is a perfect start. You can wear it as a dress if you want to or you can wear it as a jacket. Thanks to Ann‑Sofie who made it slightly longer.

            This jacket in particular is really iconic for me because it’s really Balmain. It’s black, simple with six gold buttons. Wear it like a tuxedo jacket with pants, or as a dress with the high boots that we also sell. It’s a real statement jacket.

Thank you, Olivier and Ann-Sofie for this lovely interview!

Don’t forget tomorrow the Balmain x H&M collection will hit the shelves…

LoL, Sandra

Photos: Courtesy of H&M, Balmain and © Sandra Bauknecht

Interview with Viktor & Rolf

Viktor&Rolf Portrait  ∏ HyungsikKim

THE INSEPARABLES
MEET FASHION’S BOMBASTIC DUO

Ten years ago, Viktor Horsting & Rolf Snoeren wished upon a star. Their wish was to create a fragrance that would make the world a better place. Their wish came true and with Flowerbomb another success story of the avant-garde Dutch fashion house was born.

FLOWERBOMB_12_CAKE_DEF_S

The sun is shining in Paris. It is the morning after the 10-year anniversary party of Viktor & Rolf’s highly succesful fragrance «Flowerbomb» and the day after their latest Haute Couture fashion show. Even I feel a little tired because of all the great impressions from yesterday. Yet, I am full of energy and excited to meet the designer duo in person.

I wear a silk top and skirt with bow embellishments from one of their previous collections (for the outfit post, click here please) and when I enter the suite at the Peninsula hotel, they recognize it in a second and I am greeted with two big smiles.

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«REALITY IS BORING. WHAT IF WE MAKE IT UP?»

My first impression? As trivial as it sounds, I like them immediately. Fashion and fragrances, both are about fantasy and the designer duo knows exactly how to cater to that. In an intellectual, yet theatrical way, I am immeditaley transported into their world.

But who are those two Dutch men that would like to make the world a better place with their creations? Their vita reads like a bedtime story, like twins who were seperated by birth and found themselves at a later stage in life. Both were born in 1969 not far away from each other. They met during their studies at the Arnhem Academy of Art and Design and began working together upon graduation. In 1993, they won a talent contest and launched their namesake label.

d9b18c5e736113cbcac8109253affb4aViktor & Rolf x H&M (2006)

First, their creations were presented in art galleries until they showed their first Haute Couture show in 1998, followed by their ready-to-wear collections in 2000. In 2006, H&M worked with the avant-garde pair for the at that point only third of the mass-retailers designer collaborations. Many more were about to follow, such as a luggage range for Samsonite, a reinterpretation of the Piper-Heidsieck champagne bottle (they turned it upside down and labeled it pink) and a line of false couture lashes for Shu Uemura. Just to name a few.

1Viktor & Rolf x Piper-Heidsieck (2007)

In 2008 Italian clothing magnate Renzo Rosso, President of OTB Group, the holding group of Maison Martin Margiela,, Marni and Diesel, bought a controlling interest in the company which gave Horsting & Snoeren the possibilty to create pre-collections and catwalk shows that kept the label on everyone’s lips.

Viktor&Rolf FW15 Haute CoutureViktor & Rolf Haute Couture F/W 2015

This fall, Viktor & Rolf will take a break from the ready-to wear schedule after their F/W 2015 presentation to focus on their couture line which is every season a creative atomic bomb.

«WE SEE OURSELVES AS FASHION ARTISTS»

The day before the interview, they had presented their so-called «Wearable Art» F/W 2015 Haute Couture collection at the mezzanine space of Palais de Tokyo. During the show, the designer duo interacted on stage by taking broken picture frames filled with fabric of a wall and transforming them into gowns that they draped over the models.

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Ten years ago, another artistic runway presentation had taken place. With three whispering words at the mid-point of the S/S 2015 ready-to-wear show featuring a collection rendered in black and dark tones – «Flowerbomb, Flowerbomb, Flowerbomb» – the stage revolved, revealing a completely transformed tableau vivant of models in a palette of pinks, roses and creams. It was a defining moment for Viktor & Rolf to launch their first female fragrance and intricately linking it to their powerful fashion collections – both a symbol of transformation and empowerment.

«WE FEEL A STRONG NEED TO REFOCUS ON OUR ARTISTIC ROOTS.»

F/W 2015 will be your last ready-to-wear collection because you would like to concentrate on couture. Why is that?

V&R: It was an artistic decision. We started to show couture in the beginning of our career and we returned to it for our twentieth anniversary two and a half years ago. This is what we really love so we want to focus on it. The great thing about couture is that you can take it to the extreme. It is like poetry for ideas. It gives us more freedom as the fashion system can be very demanding.

Will couture influence your fragrance line? It seems rather obvious that you would enter the world of Haute Perfumery as a next step.

V&R(Both smile): Kind of the next project. It is too early now to speak about it.

How did the «Flowerbomb» project get started? Were you approached by L’Oréal or vice versa?

V&R: L’Oréal came to us. They recognized the storyteller in us. We dreamt of a fragrance that had the power to spread a positive message.

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«Flowerbomb», that is very innovative in its gourmand approach, was created by Oliver Polge, Carlos Benaim and Domitille Bertier. How were you involved in the process of making your first fragrance?

V&R: Well, it started with the word «Flowerbomb». That was our idea because we are very drawn to flowers. It becomes easily just pretty. The name is about opposites that attract. Opposites that create something new when put together in an unexpected way. A perfumer is an artist in its own. When we smelled it first, we knew that is it.

In 1996, we already had done an art project in a gallery. At that time, we didn’t have a career yet just big dreams so we visualized our ambitions in small installations with dolls. There was for instance a doll in a photo studio or a shop.

A fake perfume was also part of the exhibition because we thought it would be great to have our own scent. It was made in a limited edition of 250 and you couldn’t open the bottle. It was sealed so that its smell stayed a mystery. Everything showed our desire and ambition to be a designer.

campaignviktor-rolf-flowerbomb

What does perfume mean to you?

V&R: It’s a very direct and tangible way to express an emotion. And that is the challenge to create a perfume, to do it in a good way. To be clear. You have a name, an image, a bottle, a fragrance, a message you sent. So you have to get all those factors right in the beginning.

When you smell a woman wearing «Flowerbomb», how is that for you?

Viktor: Sometimes it is weird when you see somebody in the street wearing «Flowerbomb» or «Spicebomb», our male fragrance. It almost feels like borderline and inappropriate as if you know something about this person you shouldn’t know.

Rolf: I always want to see who wears it when I smell it.

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The ad campaign was created together with your friends, the famous photographer duo Inez van Lambsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin. It hasn’t been changed for a decade. Couldn’t you imagine a famous face for «Flowerbomb» as most of the fragrance houses do?

Not so easily. What we like about the ad is that it is a mystery. It is about the story of «Flowerbomb», the emotion, the feeling and not about one woman. It is about an idea, not about a celebrity and wanting to be that celebrity. It is aspirational in a different way.

Tori-Amos-3-600x399Tori Amos on stage at the 10-year anniversary party of Flowerbomb.

Do you have a woman in mind you would love to dress?

Rolf: Yesterday, hearing Tori Amos sing «Wishing Upon a Star» in our couture cape from the Zen collection a few years ago was a dream come true. She is a real «Flowerbomb».

Would you agree, Viktor?

Viktor: I would agree, we dressed many celebrities. But with Tori a personal relationship has evolved over the years and that adds a meaning to the dressing.

How can I imagine your creative process?

It is a constant discussion. We whats up from the moment we wake up. It is very continious, one thing informs the other. Right from the start already, we felt that our work flow went really well. We had a conversation 23 years ago and it is still ongoing. Literally we start with words, then come up with ideas. We have to make it very clear and visualize it before actually getting started.

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You always seem to be in line. Do you ever fight or argue?

V&R (Both laugh): Not so much. It is very easy. If we disagree in work, we talk about it and it means to us it is not finished.

What do you admire about each other?

Rolf: He is my best friend. I cannot really decribe it and I don’t want to because he means everything to me.

Viktor: That is very sweet. Thank you! It would be diminishing to put it into words but Rolf you are a genius. That is it for starters.

If you are in a relationship. How do your partners cope with the strong bond you are having?

V&R: If there is a partner, it is a given. They know from the beginning how close we are.

IMG_8082Viktor & Rolf’s Paris store is located at 370 rue Saint-Honoré.

You seem to wear similiar outfits a lot of times. Do you whats up each other in the morning what you are going to wear?

V&R (Both laugh): It used to be but not so much anymore. It is more about the same style.

Do you wear other designers?

V&R: Not really other designers. Mainly our own things or things that we don’t make like a Nike sneakers.

Which scent are you both wearing?

V&R: Spicebomb in the extreme version.

How do you get creative?

V&R: We talk a lot, it doesn’t always come easily. Sometimes you have to force yourself to sit down. just work and pull it out of yourself. Getting a deadline helps a lot though.

IMG_8092Viktor & Rolf sweets during the interview.

In our times, being in business for 10 years is an amazing success for a scent. Do you see your fragrance line in collaboration with L’Oréal as a marketing tool?

V&R: Oh yes, in our times, when everything is so disposable, it is amazing to have something that has a meaning. Especially considering the fact that when we started making it, we weren’t thinking of other people. We wanted something that we are prone to, that is important to us. That it became such a success, is just amazing.

What do you think about social media and its fastness?

We are very ambivalent. Thinking of how we grew up in the Netherlands, there was not a lot of fashion. It is great how up-to-date and connected the kids of today are. At the same time it looses mystery, and it becomes so disposible, but we use for example Instagram. For our last couture show we tried to make images that didn’t exist before.

Do you manage your own instagram account?

We have an assistant with whom we do it together but we look at it as well.

viktor_and_rolf_caw15_0069Viktor & Rolf Haute Couture F/W 2015

What are you most proud of in terms of your career?

Our friendship.

Is there a collection that you are most proud of?

V&R: Several ones, but the last couture show was for us an achievement, as we tried to get to the essence of our work, who we really are.

Viktor & Rolf. The brand in 3 words.

Viktor(smiles): Can it be six?

Provocative couture. Unexpected elegance. Conceptual glamour.
These are the creative pillars that define the avant-garde house of Viktor & Rolf.

Thank you, Viktor & Rolf for this amazing interview!

A lovely surprise waited for me upon my arrival in my hotel room: the Mini Bombette bag. 

Viktor & Rolf surely cannot be pigeonholed. They are like the magicians of fashion for me and I am very curious to see their future projects and collections now that they can concentrate on their artistic skills. «Flowerbomb» is still growing a stronger audience and for the designer duo a good base to make most out of their business. Trust your heart, and success will come to you. In case of Viktor & Rolf, it absolutely seems to be true.

LoL, Sandra

This interview is also available in German and French in the October 2015 edition of L’Officiel Switzerland.
Photos: Courtesy of Viktor & Rolf, © Sandra Bauknecht
Illustrations: Franáois Berthoud