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 Look: In NYC for Kenzo x H&M

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Yesterday, before the big launch party at Pier 36 in NYC, I went to the H&M Showroom on Fifth Avenue for the press conference where I was able to explore the Kenzo x H&M collection and to speak with amazing Carol Lim and Humberto Leon. The interview and the report from the party last night will be coming up shortly.

My look: Blouse by Chloépleated brocade mini skirt iconand tiger-embroidered leather shoulder bag, both iconby Kenzo, multi colored suede sandals by Yves Saint Laurent, mirrored sunglasses by Chanel and diamond ring by Vainard Fine Jewellery.

LoL, Sandra

sandra_bauknecht_kenzoxhm_look_day1_carol_lim_humberto_leon-2In the showroom with Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, Kenzo’s Creative Directors.

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Photos: © Sandra Bauknecht

In NYC with Estée Lauder

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«All great things begin with a vision… a dream.» – Estée Lauder

On Tuesday, I flew to New York City as the first digital influencer for Estée Lauder Switzerland. During the next days, I will experience and share with you some really amazing moments. I will be meeting with Aerin Lauder and Carolyn Murphy, who has been the face for the American beauty brand since 15 years. I will visit the brand’s archives and be celebrating six decades of limitless luxury as the famous «Re-Nutriv» cream turns 60. In 1956, Estée Lauder introduced the «cream of creams» that marked the first milestone in creating a beauty empire. She was a true visionary and sold the product for $115 at a time when the average price of a moisturizer was $10.

estee_lauder_re-nutrivA warm welcome by Aerin and Carolyn with a handwritten note and some of my favourites.

Today, the American beauty brand is as trendsetting as 60 years ago, catering to different needs of women of all age groups. Their newest coup? The absolutely mind-blowing collaboration with Victoria Beckham.

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«I love to make women feel like the best versions of themselves.» – Victoria Beckham

That was Victoria’s vision for her collaboration with Estée Lauder. Incorporating her taste for wearability, quality and femininity, this makeup collection includes flattering hues, sleek packaging and blendable formulas.

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Don’t miss my hero buys that I brought with me to NYC (from left to right):
Eye Metals – Bitter Cloveicon, Lipstick – Brazilian Nudeicon, Lip Pencil – Victoria and Lip Gloss – Moroccan Heat.

The collection is inspired by four different metropoles that you can buy as a set, just click on the highlighted text to be transferred directly:

vbxel_new-york-city-look-on-black_global_free-online-print-editorial-only_expiry-december-31-2016New York City Lookicon

vbxel_paris-city-look-on-black_global_free-online-print-editorial-only_expiry-december-31-2016Paris City Lookicon

vbxel_london-city-look-on-black_global_free-online-print-editorial-only_expiry-december-31-2016London City Look

vbxel_la-city-look-on-black_global_free-online-print-editorial-only_expiry-december-31-2016LA City Lookiconicon

TO SHOP THE COMPLETE VICTORIA BECKHAM x ESTEE LAUDER COLLECTION ONLINE, CLICK HERE. In Switzerland, it will hit the shelves on October 13, 2016.

LoL, Sandra

Photos: Courtesy of Estée Lauder and © Sandra Bauknecht

Akris Goes NYC

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Albert Kriemler, who was awarded this week by the Couture Council of The Museum at FIT with its award for Artistry in Fashion, is one of the designers who has been impressing me with the creative background of his designs since many seasons. He is taking the term «inspiration» to the next level. For the first time, the Swiss designer showed in NYC at Lever House. The collection, which is one of his best ones, is dedicated to the work of New York artist Carmen Herrera.

187950_1140Carmen Herrera (b. 1915), Blanco y Verde, 1959. Acrylic on canvas, two panels: 68 1/8 × 60 1/2 in. (173 × 153.7 cm) overall. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Painting and Sculpture Committee 2014.63 © Carmen Herrera; courtesy Lisson Gallery, London

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Albert Kriemler’s sketch for his first look.

img_0011_20160910023241The first look of the Akris S/S 2017 collection has obviously been inspired by Carmen Herrera’s work «Blanco y Verde».

“On my first visit to the new Whitney Museum in New York, in June 2015, I saw a painting I could not take 
my eyes off. It was „Blanco y Verde “, from 1959, an off-white plane with a green arrow-shaped triangle, by Carmen Herrera, born in 1915 and living in New York. Her sense of color and proportion,
a blend of euphoria and perfect order, stunned me.” – Albert Kriemler

img_1095_20160910023438Albert Kriemler at the finale of his S/S 2017 show.

The starting point in my creative thinking is pure intuition. It started with „Blanco y Verde “. It is a process of choosing from a multitude of options the one that blends emotion and purpose perfectly. I set out to translate her abstract, geometric lines which captured my mind and heart into a woman’s body language expressed in a relaxed and refined wardrobe.” – Albert Kriemler

quote_carmen„To Albert, My best wishes for a great success, Carmen Herrera, May 31st, 2016“ (her 101st birthday).

On her 101st birthday, I met Carmen Herrera in her studio and we spoke about our work. I received her approval to design my next collection with the inspiration of her exceptional paintings.” – Albert Kriemler

Albert Kriemler seems to have truly a nose for trends. On September 16, 2016, Carmen Herrera‘s solo exhibition «Lines of Sight» opens at the Whitney Museum. It is her first museum exhibition in New York City in nearly two decades and it will close on January 2, 2017. Find out more about the amazing artist and the upcoming show here.

Below you can enjoy some of my favourite looks of the show!

LoL, Sandra

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Carmen Herrera (b. 1915), Iberic, 1949. Acrylic on canvas on board, diameter: 40 in. (101.6 cm). Courtesy the artist and Lisson Gallery © Carmen Herrera

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Photos: Courtesy of the Whitney Museum and © Akris

Taking a Ballet Beautiful Class in NYC

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I started dancing ballet at the age of 4 and it has become one of the biggest passions in my life besides fashion. Being a huge fan of Mary Helen Bowers since quite some time, I was so excited to visit her studio in NYC and take a class (Thank you, Piaget, for this amazing invitation!).

She has trained many celebrities, among them Natalie Portman for her Academy Award-winning role in Black Swan. The former ballerina with the New York City ballet and founder of the Ballet Beautiful® fitness method has created a new way of working out that even allows women that have never danced in their lives to sculpt long and lean muscles like ballerinas have. It is such a great workout that you can do in a hotel room while traveling, at home or wherever you feel you need a little training. Moreover, it is great to get back in shape after a pregnancy.

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If you are looking for ballet clothes, Mary Helen Bowers has designed a collection of dance-inspired activewear. Lightweight, flexible and flattering, don’t miss those wrap sweaters, classic leotards and handcrafted Italian-made slippers.

 TO SHOP THE BALLET BEAUTIFUL COLLECTION ONLINE, CLICK HERE PLEASE!

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The Ballet Beautiful studio is located in Soho.
98 Greene St, New York, NY 10012

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The unexciting door bell that leads you…

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… up the stairs to the fifth floor.

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Bravo! You finished your warm-up.

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Welcome to Ballet Beautiful!

Ballet Beautiful Books

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Exhausted and happy after the class… I loved it!

LoL, Sandra

Photos: Courtesy of Ballet Beautiful and © Sandra Bauknecht

My Look: Crochet Top

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Hello from NYC! I arrived Wednesday and had to go straight to my first meeting with Piaget. After a quick change at my hotel, the Park Hyatt, I took those photos in two minutes as it started drizzling. It was extemely hot and humid but I couldn’t wait to put on my new crochet-like cardigan. I adore its logo-embossed faux pearl buttons and lace Peter Pan collar that both add to its heritage feel.

My look: Metallic lace-trimmed cotton-blend cardigan and blue knitted dress, both by Guccidark blue suede strappy sandals by Miu Miu, metallic patchwork camera bag by Saint Laurenticon, Limelight Gala watch and rose diamond ring, both by Piaget.

LoL, Sandra

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Photos: © Sandra Bauknecht

At the #HMBalmaination Party in NYC

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What a night in NYC! I am still overwhelmed by this glam and fun event where the fashion and Hollywood elite joined forces on Wall Street to celebrate the launch of the amazing collaboration between Balmain and H&M. More is more is definitely something that goes for the Parisian Maison and yesterday was proof for it!

”Tonight has been a dream come true for me. The energy and vibe are unbelievable.” – Olivier Rousteing

Sandra_Bauknecht_Olivier_Rousteing_BalmainOlivier Rousteing with me last night

Just like the opulent collection designed by Creative Director Olivier Rousteing, the party in the Big Apple was extra everything. Rousteing, who is bringing the brand’s DNA of music, couture, luxury and pop culture – he is the designer with the biggest instagram follower ship – together, said: ”Tonight has been a dream come true for me. The energy and vibe are unbelievable.” He created the hashtag #HMBalmaination where people could follow live the best moments of the night.

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When I arrived at 23, Wall Street, I entered the highly secured venue over the stairs and found an ambiance similar to a subway system, referencing the campaign film – where Kendall Jenner, Olivier’s muse and friend, stars as the leader of a dance crew. While enjoying champagne, I mingled with the A-list crowd of top models, celebrities and Hollywood actors.

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Sandra_Bauknecht_Ellie_GouldingSinger Ellie Goulding with me

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After the cocktail reception, I entered the next hall where the runway was built over two stories. Before the show actually started, a live dance performance took place as well as an exclusive sneak peek of the campaign music video. The guests were truly cheered up when Kendall Jenner opened the  catwalk, followed by some of the hottest models in the industry right now.

Front Row_HMBalmainationSwiss front row power: Kerstin Netsch, Editor in Chief Friday Magazine and Caroline Piccinin, Le Matin with me in the middle.

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Alessandra_AmbrosioAlessandra Ambrosio wearing Olivier Rousteing’s favorite piece from the collection: the pearl-embroidered jacket.

Gigi_Hadid_HMBalmainationGigi Hadid

KarlieKloss_HMBalmainationKarlie Kloss was my favorite on the runway.

Toni_Garn_HMBalmainationToni Garrn

The collection is all about affordable luxury. Olivier Rousteing took some of his best creations he designed over the past seasons and made them into one collection. Compared to other designer collaborations H&M did in previous years, the pieces are more expensive but I am still pretty amazed how this craftsmanship is possible for that amount of money. The collection is truly beautiful with lots of items you can enjoy for a very long time.

BackstreetBoys_BalmainationThe Backstreet Boys

After the show, it was all about the music and energy. A live concert by the Backstreet Boys took guests back in time, especially my humble self as over 20 years ago, I was with them on a Germany tour with my own band. Personally speaking, the Balmain x H&M launch party was one of those nights you never want to end!

BackstreetBoys Perform in front of the ALISt CrowdOlivier Rousteing and his friends, among them Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid and Alessandra Ambrosio, cheered to the Backstreet Boys.

The Balmain x H&M collection features fashion and accessories for both men and women, and will be available in selected stores and at hm.com starting November 5.

Now have fun to scroll through some more impressions of the night and check back in for more updates as I just uploaded my own photos today. The internet is too slow… there is much more coming up. Now I have some appointments in NYC before I am heading back home!
Talk to you when I am in Europe…

LoL, Sandra

Sandra_Bauknecht_Rene_ZiboldRené Zibold, PR and Communication Manager at H&M Switzerland (@monsieurené), is looking good in my marabou stole.

HMBalmaination - 11Guests being crazy about the red carpet arrivals.

Sandra_Bauknecht_Diane_KruegerGerman actress Diane Kruger

IMG_3327Amazing ambiance.

BackstreetBoys_HMBalmainationWe couldn’t get enough of the Backstreet Boys!

Caroline_Peccinin_Sandra_BauknechtAlways a lot of fun with my colleague Caroline Piccinin from Le Matin in Geneva.

IMG_3324The normal craziness at the pop-up store late at night.

POP_UP_STORE_HMBALMAINATIONThe clothes come well-protected in plastic hangers.

Olivier at the pop-up storeOlivier Rousteing even joined in the shopping fun late at night.

All Photos: © Sandra Bauknecht

Next Stop: NYC for #HMBalmaination

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On Monday morning, I will be on my way to NYC for the launch event of H&M x Balmain and I couldn’t be anymore excited about it. First of all, I love the French Maison as you know and second of all, H&M throws the best parties for their designer collaborations.

Do you remember…
2011 H&M x Versace in NYC
2012 H&M x Maison Martin Margiela in NYC
2013 H&M x Isabel Marant in Paris
2014 H&M x Alexander Wang in NYC

Below you can take a peek at what’s to come. I included for you photos of the campaign and the lookbook. You will be absolutely amazed!

From draped satin skirts to skintight pants, from embellished dresses to the iconic wide belts, all pieces are shockingly affordable Balmain signatures that are as desirable as the runway collections Olivier Rousteing shows on the Paris catwalk season after season.

Balmaination 4A little preview of the collection that took place in May 2015 Balmain designer Olivier Rousteing showed up with models Jourdan Dunn and Kendall Jenner, all wearing Balmain x H&M, at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Many of those must-haves are reimaginings of the French Maison’s classics, here are some examples:

Balmaination-Look 1Left: H&M x Balmain – Right: Balmain F/W 2013 Look 8

Balmaination Look 2Left: H&M x Balmain – Right: Balmain F/W 2012 Look 7

Enjoy the whole collection below and stay tuned for more coming up from NYC. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @sandrascloset for live updates!

LoL, Sandra

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Photos: Jason Merritt/Getty Images, via Vogue.com and Courtesy of H&M

Meet Gal Gadot, the Face for Gucci Bamboo

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Meet the face of GUCCI‘s newest fragrance BAMBOO: GAL GADOT. In 2004, the Israeli actress and model won the Miss Israel title and is known for her role as Gisele in The Fast and the Furious film series. She also stars as Wonder Woman in the upcoming movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice along with Ben Affleck and Jeremy Irons.

Gadot seems to be the epitome of a Wonder Woman as she is a wife, a mother of a 4-year-old girl and a successful businesswoman. She served for two years as a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces. Strong and beautiful, the same duality that Gucci Bamboo reflects. I met her in NYC for the launch of the new campaign.

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Were you involved in the creative process of creating the fragrance? Or was it already finished?
I came to this beautiful result. It was already done. But before we shot the commercial, I really wanted to know what am I shooting. The moment I smelt it, I was so happy because it is just so good. It has all the right elements, it’s sexy and floral, but not too heavy. It’s sweet, but not too sweet and it’s fresh! I love it.

What is a bamboo for you? A strong wood or a weak plant?
It is both. It’s adjustable.

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You seem to be a Wonder Woman. Model, actress, wife and mother in one. How do you accommodate all those tasks?
I just do it. I don’t sleep much.

How do you look so gorgeous when you don’t sleep a lot?
(Laughs) Two hours of hair and makeup. And I try to stay healthy. I work out a lot and eat good things. I keep my skin always clean before I go to bed. I try to wear light makeup and I drink a lot of water. And the most important I stay happy and positive.

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You were in the Israeli army. How was that?
It’s mandatory in Israel. We all have to go, men do three years and women two. It was a good experience for me, I learnt a lot. It is not about you, it is about giving back to community which I find a beautiful thing. The discipline taught me a lot. You need to get up at 6 am, you run, you are on your legs constantly.

Did you learn how to use a weapon? Did this help you with your role as Wonder Woman?
Yes, of course, I learnt how to use a weapon. But it didn’t help me for Wonder Woman as she only uses a sword, a lasso and a shield.

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In the commercial for Gucci Bamboo you are a multifaceted woman. In one scene, you are even fencing. Please tell us a little more about shooting the campaign.
Unfortunately, that is the only scene I couldn’t do myself due to my busy schedule. Art Director Fabien Baron came up with this beautiful vision how we wanted to promote this fragrance on the big screen and make people experience this perfume visually. It is basically a woman how is strong and powerful but at the same time she is feminine, sexy and elegant.

What is your first memory of a perfume?
I remember the first time I ever used a perfume. I sneaked in my mother’s bathroom and I just bathed myself in different scents. I was around 8 or 9 years old.

Do you ever worry about aging?
Not yet. I just had a discussion with my husband about the fact that women don’t age as good as men. And I was asking myself why. We try so hard to stay young, use all those facial creams and treatments. So I came to the fact that it is just nature. Once we cannot reproduce anymore, we start aging. But on the other side, there are so many older women today that are relevant, so strong and symbolize so many good things. I have four grey hairs already and I feel good about them. I don’t tear them out, I feel I earned them.

What makes you the most happy?
My family.

Do you have a role in mind you would like to play in the future?
I actually do, but it is kind of depressing. I would like to do a movie that deals with the Holocaust.

By whom do you get inspired?
By people who are optimistic, who are grateful for life, who are original and think outside of the box.

Israeli women have a special aura. Why is that?
We say what we think, there is no filter. Stylewise it is just affected by the weather. It is so hot we dress less.

Gal Gadot in three words.
Mother, wife and actress. Heart, smile and fruit.

Thank you, Gal, for this lovely interview!

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To find out more about GUCCI BAMBOO, please click HERE for the previous post.

LoL, Sandra

Photos: Courtesy of Gucci and © Sandra Bauknecht

My Look: At the Bowery

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Last Monday, I flew for 48 hours to NYC for the launch of Gucci‘s newest fragrance Bamboo that I will tell you all about soon. Here you see me at the Bowery Hotel where I attended the revealing of the campaign.

My look: Black cardigan by Miu Miucolor block dress, Bamboo Shopper large textured-leather tote and new Adina suede pumps, all by Gucci, beaded bracelet by Saint Laurent and Lady Excalibur watch by Roger Dubuis.

LoL, Sandra

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Photos: © Sandra Bauknecht