Tribute to Alber Elbaz and AZ Factory

I am still so in shock. One of my favorite designers, especially because of his amazing character, Alber Elbaz, died Saturday in Paris from Covid-19. He was such a warm-hearted person, always thinking about his employees. Instantly recognisable for his broad smile and distinctive personal uniform of bow ties and thick-rimmed glasses, he was best known for his star turn leading couture house Lanvin. At their peak, sales were as high as €235 million. He definitely died too young, in June he would have turned 60.

Born in Morocco and educated in Israel, Elbaz climbed the ranks of the fashion industry from a small dressmaker’s shop in New York City to serve at the helm of Guy Laroche. Then appointed by Pierre Bergé, Elbaz next worked as creative director of Yves Saint Laurent from 1998 until he was fired after three seasons when Gucci bought the company and put Tom Ford in charge.

Designer Alber Elbaz walks down the runway at the S/S 2004 Lanvin show in Paris.

Elbaz began designing for Lanvin in 2001. He also held a minority stake in the company of nearly 18 percent. During his 14-year tenure, he was credited with the house’s renewed appeal thanks to Elbaz’s «classic with a twist» takes on silk cocktail dresses and other feminine designs, often playing with color or other unusual variations on hallmark elegance.

Alber’s sketches for Lanvin

His humorous sketches of everything from lollipops to his own face became a brand signature, also remember the amazing collaboration he did with Lancôme. Elbaz’s simple, feminine clothing, which has been compared to Lanvin’s 1920s outfits, was lauded by the fashion press. In 2005 Suzy Menkes wrote: «Elbaz is every woman’s darling. And that includes Nicole, Kate, Chloë Sevigny, Sofia Coppola and a slew of rising movie names

In October 2015, Elbaz announced that he had been let go from Lanvin after disagreements with the company’s major shareholder, Shaw-Lan Wang. He then took some time off until he launched a new label together with Swiss luxury group Richemont, AZ Factory, in January.

A tribute to Alber today on the AZ Factory homepage.

The following text has been written months ago but sometimes time flies and I always postponed to post it. It feels so bizarre to show it to you now post mortem. However, it is a tribute to Alber, to his latest venture in fashion, that hopefully will also have a great input how the world consumes fashion. It is all about inclusivity and diversity. I invite you to get your last piece designed by Alber…

In a Zoom call with Alber in January…

So let me introduce you to AZ Factory, the eagerly awaited fashion concept from Alber Elbaz. Launched at Paris Haute Couture Week in January, it had not only marked the comeback of Elbaz but also Richemont’s first foray into launching a fashion label from scratch, a €25 million investment, that is focusing on online distribution.

Described as Elbaz’ «dream factory» and created with «women of our times» in mind, the label is an expansion of the playful, confident pieces that have become his calling card through the years. This is a marvellous fashion moment! Neither a revolution nor an evolution but a refreshing reset! AZ Factory might change the face of luxury fashion as long as we’ve known it and Alber Elbaz might have become the new «Hervé Leger». Over the next few months a six part capsule collection will be launching.

Alber wanted to design for «All Women».

And one of the most exciting elements surrounding this new brand is the diversity in its sizing, with an emphasis placed on the fact that this entire six capsule series is inclusive for «All Women placing importance on body positivity and inclusivity. Sizing ranges from XXS-4XL or FR34 – FR48.

MyBody ribbed stretch-knit mini dressicon and MyBody paneled stretch-knit leggingsicon

MyBody
The essence of the MyBody capsule is bodycon styles made from a technical weave fabric that sculpt the female form. The AnatoKnit technology provides hugging tension that shapes your natural curves. The boning at the back supports your posture and the ergonomic design features allow for movement and breathability. The idea behind this is functional fashion that has been made for «women on the move» and Alber wanted to encourage us to wear these with their sneakers. I think they’d look perfectly splendid with heels too.

Your Body color-block ribbed stretch-knit mini dressicon and Your Body striped stretch-knit leggingsicon

MyBody 2.0
The sporty edition of MY BODY. This additional story features colourblock designs paired with matching leggings. It’s the next level of athleisure.

Pijama Valentine printed silk-twill shirticon and Pijama Valentine printed silk-twill wide-leg pantsicon

Switchwear Pyjamas
Uplifting printed silk pyjamas are equally suited for sleep or for styling your look day or night. Made in collaboration with several artists and designers, which Alber found on Instagram due to the pandemic, these touching visuals reflect the emotions of our times and the wish to spread messages of hope, love and togetherness.

Switchwear recycled duchesse-satin maxi skirt
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Switchwear
From bed, Zoom, to yoga, to the supermarket, to couch, to date night – Switchwear takes you from cozy to couture (and back!) in under 60 seconds. Upgrade your supremely soft Switchwear Prime-layers with the iridescent, satin-like Switchwear Duchesse Add Ons.

Neoprene and mesh sneakers
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Pointy Sneakers
Hybrid footwear that combines the comfort and function of a sneaker with the elongating benefits of a pointy-toe shoes. Performance sneaker construction so you don’t have to trade off all-day comfort and stability.

In light of this, I was invited by Alber Elbaz and NET-A-PORTER to a live launch celebration for AZ Factory in the end of January. I also received a spectacle in a box to open during the event that included sweets, a puzzle, ….

Alber is such a sweet human being. He told us that he started his new venture by thinking: «How can I hug women? Who’s my customer? Is she an architect, who’s her mother, does she have kids?» He went on: «I wanted to create something for all of them. I never had one muse. I have never understood how to design for only one woman. It is the variety that counts. The world doesn’t exist of one song, one book or just one woman. Life is not black and white. I wanted to find something in the middle without being mediocre. I thought due to my own body shape that you have to hide who you are if you are a plus size. And the tiny women are sent to the children’s department. I wanted to change that. I also created the long zip opener so that women are not dependent on a man to open their dress. My sneakers are hybrid footwear, pointed like pumps to elongate the legs with all-day comfort. SwitchWear plays a key role for me. For example you wear leggings for travel and once you arrive, you just put a skirt over it. It’s modular dressing and also includes pyjamas. It is comfort, technology and a couture dream in one

Creativity? «The moment I feel and don’t be asked…» Az Lazy, Az Crazy

Thank you, Alber, for your creativity, your positivity and for making us dream… you will never be forgotten!

TO SHOP AZ FACTORY, CLICK HERE PLEASEicon.

LoL, Sandra

Photos: © AZ Factory, Net-à-Porter, © Sandra Bauknecht
DISCLOSURE: We may earn commission from links on this page, but I only recommend products I love. Promise.

Rest in Peace Elsa Peretti

Yesterday, Elsa Peretti’s family office in Zurich announced that the jewelry designer, who was famous for her creations for the US jeweler Tiffany & Co., died Thursday at the age of 80 in a village near Barcelona, ​​Spain peacefully in her sleep.

Just last October, Tiffany & Co. had tapped Peretti to design nine one-of-a-kind pieces, based on archival designs from her personal library, in celebration of 50 years since the introduction of her widely recognized bone-cuff bracelet – and 45 years since she began designing for the company.

Tiffany’s Instagram post.

A pioneering designer

Elsa Peretti was born in Florence and trained in Switzerland and Rome, where she later returned to for a degree in interior design. In the late ’60s, she had established herself as a model in New York City and Barcelona, and she also began to design her own jewelry. A small silver bottle worn as a necklace became her first successful creation. She found the inspiration for this design in Portofino, where women used to wear fragile gardenia flowers as a fashion accessory: the small silver vase necklace made the flowers last longer. Throughout her career, she would always try to combine beauty with practicability.

Elsa Peretti’s bottle pendants for Tiffany & Co.

The American fashion designer Giorgio di Sant’Angelo used some of her pieces in a fashion show, where they immediately became a huge success. The very next day she was a star in New York. During this time she met the legendary US fashion designer and seventies icon Halston, with whom she had a lifelong friendship and with whom she worked frequently. The US jeweler Tiffany & Co. became aware of the young designer and in 1974, she started an exclusive collaboration that would last through her entire career.

Elsa Peretti with Halston in 1977

She often seeked inspiration from everyday objectsa bean, a bone or an apple could be turned into cufflinks, bracelets, vases or lighters, scorpions and snakes were turned into attractive necklaces and rings, often in silver as one of their preferred materials. She herself said: «There is no new design, because good lines and shapes are timeless» and in fact her pieces are as modern and wearable today as ever.

Elsa Peretti’s famous bone cuffs.

Elsa Peretti’s designs are in the permanent collections of the British Museum in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas. In recognition of her remarkable work, Tiffany established the Elsa Peretti Professorship in Jewelry Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, the first endowed professorship in the history of FIT. In addition to other honors, the designer was awarded an honorary doctorate from the FIT in 2001. She also received the Coty American Fashion Critics’ Award for Jewelry in 1971 and the Rhode Island School of Design President’s Fellow Award in 1981. In 1996, she was named Accessory Designer of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

Elsa Peretti photographed by Duane Michals, Vogue, December 1974

Philanthropic work

Elsa Peretti was also known for her charm, and friendliness towards others. She had a profoundly humanitarian vocation, supporting cultural, scientific and educational initiatives and advocating the defense of human rights. In 2000, she founded a charity in honor of her father, which was renamed the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation in 2015, that focuses on the protection of the environment and wildlife. Furthermore, it also aims to fight poverty. Over time, the foundation’s work has expanded to support a wide range of projects promoting human and civil rights, with a particular focus on the right to education, the rights of children, and the rights and dignity of women.

Sant Martí Vell, her Catalan hideaway

The Italian designer had been living a reclusive life in the tiny village of Sant Martí Vell in Catalonia, Spain, where she has lived permanently since the ’80s in a mustard-yellow home she purchased in 1968. She had restored it over years and the little village became her preferred place of residence. As a result, she restored entire sections of the village, acquired and preserved other buildings, including the church, and supported the excavation of Roman ruins and the archiving of the history of the village. She also founded a winery that has been selling exclusive wines under the Eccocivi label since 2008.

She promoted the visual arts and worked to consolidate, protect and disseminate the historical, artistic, cultural, architectural and craft heritage of Catalonia. In 2013 Elsa Peretti became the first non-Catalan person to be awarded the National Culture Prize of the National Council for Culture and the Arts (CoNCA).

Rest in Peace, Elsa!

A truly creative mind and great should has left this planet. Thank you, Elsa, for leaving us such a lovely legacy. You will never be forgotten. Fortunately, also much photographic evidence remains of her, such as Helmut Newton’s 1975 shot of her leaning languidly on a terrace in Halston’s take on a Playboy Bunny costume. «Helmut and I were having an affair. He was a Scorpio. There is something between Scorpio and Taurus,» she said in an interview with Vanity Fair, taking on a suggestive tone. «One morning, he said, ‘I want to do a picture of you.’ I didn’t know what to wear. I went to my closet and came out wearing this costume I’d worn to a party with Halston. Helmut was flabbergasted. He took me on the terrace and took the photo. It was 11 A.M.»… what a beautiful life!

LoL, Sandra

Matthias Schneider, Studio Director and Head of Design at REPOSSI, paid homage to Elsa Peretti on Instagram.

Photos: Courtesy of Tiffany & Co. / Elsa Peretti

Birkenstock x Central Saint Martins

Birkenstock’s partnership with London fashion institution Central Saint Martins is launching the result of a two-year project with the BA Fashion History & Theory and MA Fashion courses. Releasing four designs and Birkenstock’s first-ever Archive style. Initiated in 2018, the project saw the CSM BA Fashion History & Theory course research and enrich Birkenstock’s prolific archive. Enabling students to immerse into Birkenstock’s culture and legacy to finally extract and define the core elements of Birkenstock’s history spanning over 250 years. The result of this research translated into a second project with the MA Fashion course. Inviting students to give their interpretation of emblematic styles in their contemporary way, thus shaping the future of the iconic German brand.

The four winning students with Fabio Piras.

One year later a jury of 12 renowned industry leaders led by Birkenstock CEO Oliver Reichert, MA Fashion Course Director Fabio Piras and fashion critic Sarah Mower MBE, were invited by Birkenstock to review all student portfolios and selected a shortlist of 10 finalists awarded as the winning designs with a first bursary award.

My favorites: Moto Sandal by Alex Wolfe.

Over a year of product development, four of the student designs have qualified for serial production.  Each design has the student’s name embossed in the iconic Birkenstock footbed. Experiencing the challenge to realize the product innovation delivered by these students is a good challenge. «We are proud to have a proven impact on these early careers and are counting this as one of our most relevant projects», states CEO Oliver Reichert.

Bukarest style in white by Alecsander Rothschild

The release of the collection is supported by a short film, seeing the jury and the professors exchange their views on the final product with the students. The jury was headed by Sarah Mower MBE and included CSM alumni Mary Katrantzou and Roksanda discussing with Gert Jonkers, Claudia Croft, Mimma Viglezio, Osman Ahmed, and Nick Vinson.

THE COLLECTION

Moto Sandal by CSM graduate Alex Wolfe (1991*)
Using Birkenstock’s expertise in orthopaedic shoe design Wolfe’s take on the Rotterdam Moto sandal challenges us with urban graphic as well as a striking upper leg design. Relying on Birkenstock’s very own eudermic material Birko-Flor he creates a flexible shield, whereas the foot lining of Nappa leather and suede offers a soft and soothing bed.

Cosy style by CSM graduate Dingyun Zhang (1995*)
Zhang’s pillow like version of the Arizona sandal takes inspiration from futuristic outerwear and oversized puffers. As a homage to comfort Cosy transforms the Arizona into a supportive, timeless classic. Its monochrome, contrasting color choice of snow white straps and black sole (and vice versa) fortifies the long-lasting design approach.

Terra style by CSM graduate Saskia Lenaerts (1993*)
As a reference to the classic Milano sandal, Terra’s prominent stitches replicates footlines, while Suede, Nappa and Nubuk leather offer comfort. Using contrasting colours like black/white and black/ultra blue the designer recreates the shadow play of an engraved footprint in the sand.

Bukarest style by CSM student Alecsander Rothschild (1992*)
Inspired by Brancusi’s contrasting use of different materials and textures Rothschild works equally with three kinds of leather to express his version of Birkenstock: Rustic black oiled nubuck leather or innocent white debossed leather, Rothschild offers a third version in shiny Silver.

Tallahassee Archive Style
To complement the student designs, the iconic Birkenstock Tallahassee Style from the 1990s sees a rebirth in contrast color designs. Uniting an artistic touch with long practiced craftsmanship the Tallahassee ornaments the foot without compromising comfort. As a woven coat the debossed leather enrobes the wearer like a second skin.

The collection is available with select stores worldwide and on 1774.com from now.

LoL, Sandra

Photos: Courtesy of Birkenstock, © Walter Pfeiffer
#BIRKENSTOCKxCSM

Gabriela Hearst’s First Chloé Collection

Personally speaking, it was THE show of Paris Fashion Week that I have been eagerly waiting for: Gabriela Hearst’s first collection for Chloé.

Hearst called her first collection for the French Maison the «Aphrodite» to her own brand’s «Athena». Chloé in Greek means «blooming». The question is if it is a new bloom for the Maison with Hearst at the helm. It definitely is in terms of sustainability and this key word was Hearst’s approach to Chloé’s F/W 2021 collection: sustainability was her inspiration, her technique, her fabrics and even her volumes.

The Uruguayan-American designer claimed in the press release that Chloé’s F/W 2021 collection could be considered «four times more sustainable compared to last year,» and she explained that she got there by «eliminating virgin synthetic fiber (polyester) or artificial cellulosic fiber (viscose) and sourcing recycled, reused and organic denim,» adding that «more than 50% of the silk comes from organic agriculture and more than 80% of cashmere yarn for knitwear is recycled

This earthy point of view is also something Hearst is known for at her own eponymous brand. For me, I had to look at the collection many times until it has started to warm up to me. You have to understand it to like it as there is not something really excitingly new for the eye, but for your consciousness. I can see the DNA of both brands. However, it is missing this romantic, bohemian playfulness I have always loved at Chloé, even that Hearst only sent dresses down the digital runway.

Gabriela Hearst presented the last look herself.

My favorite item was the coat Gabriela wore for the finale of the show, along with the eco-leather dresses and the printed puffer coats. Hearst created them by repurposing from Chloé overstock spanning designers and eras, with Sheltersuit, a nonprofit organization providing aid to the homeless, which also collaborated on a series of backpacks. The marble prints on blouses and dresses had been created by the artist Peter Miles using seaweed and eggs.

The show was presented digitally last week on March 3rd, one hundred years to the day of founder Gaby Aghion’s birth. Both Gaby and Gabi, as is Hearst’s nickname too, are two strong fashion designers that interpret femininity in their own independent way and respective generations. It is surely a very viable wardrobe with lots of investment pieces to last for a very long time. As Hearst noted to Gaby in a statement, «your House is in good hands» – I would sign that! At least she made me start to re-think the state of fashion today.

LoL, Sandra

The rebirth of Chloé’s Edith bag by Gabriela Hearst.

Photos: © Chloé

Simone Rocha x H&M

Designer collaborations have had their time. Today, it is more trendy that two brands team up together, such as The North Face x Gucci, Jimmy Choo x Marine Serre and many more. However, H&M, the Swedish retailer, that made designer collaborations fashionable, is sticking to its concept, not as loud as before, but definitely something for the fashion-loving customer around the globe, as for the first time, the Simone Rocha universe is opened up and extended to everyone. Meet the London-based Irish designer and get a glimpse of what this year’s collaboration will bring.

Fashion Designer Simone Rocha

History and heritage. Details and fabrications. Family and community. The many facets of womanhood. For fashion designer Simone Rocha, born in Dublin in 1986, her work and collections are a tribute to what she holds dear. She began her career as part of the talent hub Fashion East, where her take on modern beauty won praise as she reclaimed ‘girlish’ elements — florals, embellishments, collars, pearls — in a nuanced manner. Since debuting at London Fashion Week in 2010, she has become internationally renowned for her intricate and meticulously-researched collections, always with a nod to her own heritage: Ireland and Hong Kong.

In creating the collection for H&M, Rocha spent time reflecting on and revisiting her brand’s archive, combing her past collections and carefully reworking beloved pieces into unexpected new designs that feel right for now.

«To be honest, it was really emotional going through all the pieces — it was a wonderful chance to reflect on seasons I was especially proud of, and to revisit collections that felt like milestones, and little gems of ideas that we maybe didn’t push as far as we wanted to the first-time round. The archive is so important to the way I work as a designer anyway. We are not a brand that abandons ideas each season — we often look back on past propositions or continue to evolve a silhouette, or shape,» says Rocha.

The Simone Rocha x H&M collection includes her signature womenswear alongside menswear and kidswear, marking the first time she has offered a wardrobe for the whole family. All the garments are designed to be in conversation with each other. So, what to expect from this year’s awaited collaboration? Delicate tulle dresses, tartan tailoring, beaded shirting, cable knits, outerwear such as trench coats and signature accessories like sparkling jewellery and pearl-embellished shoes. The entire range comes in Simone Rocha’s identifiable and poetic colour palette that mixes cream, pink, red and black. The majority of the Simone Rocha x HM women’s collection goes up to size EUR L=44/46 and UK L=16/18 and US XL=48/50.

«My approach at every stage of the design process was to remember that for some this would be an introduction to Simone Rocha, a chance to enjoy the brand for the first time, while for others this will be a chance to recall the history of a brand that they have followed for a while. Maybe they will be able to buy a version of a piece that they missed the first time, or a piece they always wanted but didn’t get. Through H&M, they will be able to access a new, timeless, special piece to mix in with their existing items from past runway collections. I really hope there is something for everyone — every woman, every guy, the whole family,» says Rocha.

Family is of utmost importance to Rocha, as well as her community of friends and collaborators. Therefore, the Simone Rocha x H&M story is brought to life by the people who surround and inspire her. To name a few: stylist, collaborator and close friend Robbie Spencer, model and friend Tess McMillan, sisters Adwoa and Kesewa Aboah, activist and artist — and acclaimed actress Daisy Edgar-Jones.

«Any time that I’m on set with Simone, or behind the scenes at a show, you just feel this certain warmth — there’s never any stress, and you can tell that she fills her work space with people who really inspire her in her everyday life, and that’s what brings this certain sense of community, and certain sense of ease. I always just feel so comfortable, because you are surrounded by people who are just really fun to be around. I have worked with her for four seasons now, and every time I’m just so excited to see everyone — to see the designers, the stylist, all the people who help me get dressed, it’s the same faces. It’s a really, really amazing community, truly. And I always look forward to laughing and catching up,» says McMillan.

The Simone Rocha x H&M collection launches 11 March.
I love the campaign… reminds me so much of a Jo Malone ad. To see me wearing Simone Rocha, have a look here.

LoL, Sandra

Photos: © H&M

Meet Fashion Superstar Tomo Koizumi

Born in Japan in 1988, Tomo Koizumi‘s interest in fashion began from watching his fashion-loving mother in his childhood. His encounter with the book «John Galliano for Dior» in his early years was a very eye-opening event and made him decide to become a fashion designer. He has no formal fashion training and studied fine arts in his hometown Chiba, which is close to Tokyo, but has always had a passion for fashion, getting his hands on every fashion magazine he could.

It only felt natural, that he launched his own brand TOMO KOIZUMI successfully in 2011, after a boutique owner became interested and picked one of his dresses – which he created while he was a university student. He started as a stylist and costume artist assistant, before moving on to his next career step, becoming a costume designer. In February 2019, his very first runway show took place in New York with the support of the world-famous super-stylist Katie Grand, who discovered his works on Instagram, Marc Jacobs, and KCD Public Relations, Inc.

Koizumi came to show his rainbow fantasy gowns at her friend, and long-time collaborator, Marc Jacobs’ Madison Avenue store during New York Fashion Week for F/W 2019 and it became one of the most talked about shows of the seasons. Two of his pieces were also exhibited at the MET museum and the museum bought one of his works for its permanent collection. In April 2020, he was finalist and joint winner pf LVMH 2020 prize. Bright colors and bold silhouettes are the signature of his made-to-order collections and costumes, that international celebrities and artists love.

Thailand-based fashion editor and entrepreneur Nichapat Sop Hap wore one of Koizumi’s designs to the Met Gala in 2019.

Lady Gaga in Tomo Koizumi in 2016

You won’t find Tomo Koizumi’s voluminous pieces in stores. He is not interested in creating for retailers. Instead, he prefers to produce one of a kind creations. Star-studded clientele includes: Lady Gaga, who wore one of his designs on a visit to Tokyo in 2016, Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus. Therefore you will be very excited to read about his collaboration with Emilio Pucci in my next post that is available now!

LoL, Sandra

Photos: © Tomo Koizumi and by WWD/Shutterstock

Leonard Paris Appoints Georg Lux

Leonard Paris is pleased to announce the arrival of Georg Lux, the Maison’s newly appointed Creative Director.

Graduated from the Modedesign school Lette-Verein of Berlin, Georg Lux joined Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, where he successfully achieved his studies. In 2011, he was appointed by Tara Jarmon who also entrusted him with the responsibility for her Bal Edition line and the illustration of her collection books.

Georg Lux

Georg Lux’s talent for sublimating the silhouette with elegance and femininity will be supported by the Leonard studio, with whom Georg will share a fresh vision of the House’s exceptional heritage. He will develop sustainable ready-to-wear collections in close collaboration with the best craftsmen, at a time when taking time is essential.

Leonard Paris is determined to offer the opportunity to a young generation of designers to share their design vision, whilst preserving the heart and essence of a well-established brand with solid values.

Leonard Paris S/S 2020 Campaign

«I am honored and delighted to be able to work with talented craftsmen with exceptional know-how. I am looking forward to continuing to carve the history of Leonard, inspired by its exceptional heritage,» comments Georg Lux.

Nathalie Tribouillard

«We are very pleased to work with Georg to continue to win over Leonard’s devotees across the globe. His work at Leonard comes at a turbulent time, but one that heralds an extremely demanding post-crisis period, full of hope for reinventing our French craftsmanship around digital technology and respect for our planet», comments Nathalie Tribouillard, Maison Leonard CEO.

Georg Lux’s first collection for Leonard Paris is Pre-Fall 2021, and his first presentation for the French Maison will take place during the upcoming Paris Fashion Week on March 5th 2021.

LoL, Sandra

Photos: © Leonard Paris

Rest in Peace Pierre Cardin

French couturier Pierre Cardin died at the age of 98 on December 29, 2020 in Paris. He became famous for his 1960s-era avant-garde and Space Age looks, pioneering fashion ready-to-wear and the fashion licensing system. He sold everything from cars, perfume to food with his name and maintained that he built his business empire without ever asking a bank for a loan. This made him rich but also diminished his brand’s reputation at the same time.

In 1995, quotes from WWD included «Pierre Cardin—he has sold his name for toilet paper. At what point do you lose your identity?». However, the Cardin name was still very profitable, although the indiscriminate licensing approach was considered a failure. All these things that we know today, Armani hotels, Cartier chocolate, Dior Vespas, Gucci sunglasses is based on the imagination of Cardin. He was a marketing genius and saw this endless merchandising potential at a very early stage.

A scandal: He presented his first ready-to-wear collection for women in 1959 at Printemps departments store in Paris.

Spanning a 60-year career, Cardin was the first designer to sell clothes collections in department stores in the late 1950s. «It’s all the same to me whether I am doing sleeves for dresses or table legs,» a telling quote on his website once read. His competitors criticized him for destroying the notion of luxury which didn’t affect Cardin at all.

Dior’s famous New Look success created by Christian Dior and Pierre Cardin.

Born Pietro Cardin on July 2, 1922 near Venice to French parents of Italian descent, he was educated in the not-so-glamorous French city of Saint Etienne. From an early age, he was interested in dressmaking, starting work at age 14 as an apprentice even though his father wanted him to become an architect. He moved to Paris in 1945, where he studied architecture and worked with the fashion houses of Paquin and Elsa Schiaparelli. A year later, he joined the then-unknown Christian Dior who rose to fame with his 1947 New Look collection.

The famous bubble dress in 1954.

In 1950, he founded his own fashion house and only four years later, he introduced the iconic «bubble dress», a short-skirted, bubble-shaped dress made by bias-cutting over a stiffened base. He was the first couturier to turn to Japan as a high fashion market when he travelled there in 1957. That same year, he was expelled from the Chambre Syndicale for launching a ready-to-wear collection for the Printemps department store as the first couturier in Paris to do as such, but was soon reinstated. In 1966, he resigned himself and began showing his collections in his own venue, the «Espace Cardin» (opened 1971) in Paris, formerly the «Théâtre des Ambassadeurs».

Pierre Cardin in 1970 in front of the Espace Cardin.

He also blazed a trail outside France long before other fashion multinationals in search of new markets. In 1979, he went to China to presented a collection when it was still largely closed to the outside world. And only two years after the Berlin Wall came down, in 1991, he staged a fashion show in Red Square in Moscow before 200,000 people, a first in Russian history.

In 1975, Cardin opened his first furniture boutique on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. His furniture designs were highly inspired by his fashion designs. In both 1977 and 1979, he was awarded the Cartier Golden Thimble by French haute couture for the most creative collection of the season.

In 1974 he became the first couturier to be on the Time magazine’s cover. He was 52 at that time.

In 1975, Cardin opened his first furniture boutique on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. His furniture designs were highly inspired by his fashion designs. In both 1977 and 1979, he was awarded the Cartier Golden Thimble by French haute couture for the most creative collection of the season.

Maxim’s restaurants are part of Cardin’s portfolio.

In 1981 Cardin bought Maxim’s restaurants in 1981 and soon opened branches in New York, London, and Beijing. A chain of Maxim’s Hotels (Palm Springs, California, 1986) were included in the assets. He also licensed a wide range of food products under that name.

Palais des Bulles

Like many other designers today, Cardin decided in 1994 to show his collection only to a small circle of selected clients and journalists. After a break of 15 years, he showed a new collection to a group of 150 journalists at his bubble home in Cannes, the so-called Palais des Bulles, woven into the cliffs on one of the most exclusive strips of the French riviera.

Pierre Cardin and Pierre Courtial in February 2020

For his latest venture in February this year he teamed up with Pierre Courtial, 27, who unveiled a collection at Cardin’s studio on Paris’s chic Rue Saint-Honore, with pieces that echoed some of the veteran designer’s geometrical aesthetics.

Pierre Cardin in 1950

«I’ve always tried to be different, to be myself,» Cardin told Reuters. «Whether people like it or not, that’s not what matters.» He also defended his zeal for licensing in an interview with the Wall Street Journal: «I don’t want to end up like Balenciaga and die without a nickel – then, 20 years after I’m dead, see others make a fortune from my name.»

Rest in Peace Pierre Cardin!

LoL, Sandra

Photos: © Pierre Cardin

Gabriela Hearst Is Chloé’s New Designer

Today, the House of Chloé has already announced its new designer after Natacha Ramsay-Levi’s exit was announced last week. It is no other than Uruguay-born, New York–based designer Gabriela Hearst, whose eponymous extremely successful label turned five this year.

Gabriela Hearst’s famous It-bags have been successful from the beginning.

While Ramsay-Levi’s designs were much appreciated by industry insiders, the brand’s heat with consumers, especially in terms of It-bags, cooled under her reign. That might be one of the reasons why Gabriela Hearst has been chosen. She is bringing a track record of success with handbags. Her iconic «Nina» style has been a huge hit from the beginning, followed by models such as «Patsy», «Diana» and «Demi». These bags are all highly sought after and trying to get them is almost impossible with extremely high waiting lists.

A true rancher by heart: Gabriela Hearst  

Gabriela Hearst grew up on her family’s 17,000-acre ranch, Santa Isabel in Paysandu, Uruguay, surrounded by horses, cattle and sheep, where the notion of luxury meant things were beautifully crafted and made to last. Her approach to «slow and conscious luxury», which is defined in her craft-forward aesthetic and focus on sustainability might be the other reason for being Chloé’s lead candidate.

Chloé’s new CEO Riccardo Bellini

CEO Riccardo Bellini, who joined from Martin Margiela in late 2019, who welcomed Hearst in a statement this morning. had already indicated in an interview with WWD last month, that Chloé was seeking B Corporation certification for its social and environmental performance and was creating an advisory board to hold the company accountable.

Hearst’s first runway show for F/W 2017 was produced to have as low as an environmental impact as possible, and from there her commitment to the issue has only grown. Now, she opts for eco-friendly fabrics and chooses to use recycled yarns whenever she can.

Power couple: Gabriela and Austin Hearst

Hearst’s lead investor is her husband, publishing heir Austin Hearst, whom she married in 2013. She opened her first store in New York in 2018, followed by another in London the following year, and made her Paris Fashion Week debut in September. In 2019, LVMH Luxury Ventures, an investment arm of LVMH, took a minority stake in Gabriela Hearst, making it the only American brand other than Marc Jacobs in which the global luxury conglomerate is invested.

My two favorite looks from the Gabriela Hearst F/W 2020 runway.

I am loving her cashmere knitted pieces. Incredibly soft and each piece has a tag where you can explore its garment journey. Stay tuned for many outfit posts coming up! Honestly speaking, I am truly looking forward to seeing her at the helmet although I liked Natacha’s designs a lot.

TO SHOP GABRIELA HEARST ONLINE, CLICK HERE PLEASE.
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Gabriela’s first collection for Chloé will be presented next March. All the best, I am sure it will be different and fabulous!

LoL Sandra

Wearing Gabriela Hearst dress and Nina bag

Photos: © Sandra Bauknecht and © Gabriela Hearst
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Chloé’s Natacha Ramsay-Levi Steps Down

On December 2nd, I was invited by Net-à-Porter to join a live event hosted by Alison Loehnis, President of NET-A-PORTER and MR PORTER and Natacha Ramsay-Levi, Creative Director of Chloé to discuss the S/S 2021 collection. I was so keen on it and hoped to make it on time as the moving company was still unloading my boxes. However, all of a sudden I received a message in the morning of the 2nd that due to Natacha Ramsay-Levi being unwell, Net-à-Porter was regrettably cancelling the event with Chloé. Today, I found out why Natacha was not feeling well.

She is stepping down from her role at the Parisian luxury leather goods and apparel brand owned by Richemont after only 4 years. A new creative director was not named yet.

«Over the last months of health, social and economic turmoil, I have thought about the changes I want to see in our industry and how to better align them with my own creative, intellectual and emotional valuesMs. Ramsay-Levi said in her statement. «It is this reflection that makes me consider my future differently and desire to pursue new opportunities.»

Me wearing some of Natacha’s key looks for Chloé

Personally speaking, I truly liked Natacha’s vision, who worked as a key deputy of Nicolas Ghesquière during his time at Balenciaga and during his early seasons at Louis Vuitton, as it was a less commercial take on the house’s bohemian and very feminine codes. However, what had been driving the most sales at Chloé previously, were all the It-bags under previous designers like Clare Waight Keller and Hannah MacGibbon, that have been lacking recently. Even that the collections were broadly well received by fashion lovers, they were ultimately lacking in strong-selling items unfortunately. Sometimes, it drives me nuts that people don’t understand the greatness of some pieces and that they opt for mainstream.

TO SHOP THE CHLOÉ F/W 2020 COLLECTION, CLICK HERE PLEASE.icon

LoL, Sandra

Chloé F/W 2020 finale

Photos: © Chloé and © Sandra Bauknecht
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