• BARBARA I GONGINI - Nordic Luxury Avant-Garde

    Written by Jahwanna Berglund

    Intro by Ksenia Rundin
    BARBARA I GONGINI is a Nordic luxury Avant-Garde fashion design brand founded by designer Barbara í Gongini, who introduces a conceptual aesthetics, consisting of powerful geometric cuts and soft elliptical silhouettes. While beholding the garments, you imagine a strong fashion cocktail, mixed of Rick Owens’ gothic-grunge of essentiality and Maison Margiela’s androgynous architecture of tailoring, flavoured with vigorous artistic identity, genuine craftsmanship and raw authenticity of BARBARA I GONGINI. It is an intellectual celebration of cuts and shapes, encouraging a broad fashion discourse.

    What is the inspiration behind this season’s collection?
    I think we all have that little place somewhere in our inner core that emanates very much of where we come from.  I originate from the Faroe Islands. By living not just on the islands, but also outside - we have our Headquarters in Copenhagen - you get another perspective on that place. You start romanticizing, as it becomes very dear to your heart, making you longing for this peculiar place. I have been looking very much into that feeling and just compressed it in a visual way. I believe that it comes from this place within. The inspiration itself has never been questioned. We have selected the monochromatic shades, which mirror the natural elements such as sawing grass, mud and rough basalt cliffs. The choice of colors remains as a silent canvas, where on the contrary the cuts and shapes of the garments are set in the limelight.

    While keeping your signature moody Nordic avant-garde construction, this season you bring in some lighter colors that haven’t been so prominent in recent collections.
    Even though, the Avant-Garde is not influenced by trends, you sometime slightly have to bend to adapt to market needs.  Therefore we decided to implement a selection of styles in a variety of color. We are touching a new terrain with earthy shades, depending on which season; we either go in the darker or lighter realms of color. It broadens our selection but it still lies in symbiosis with our monochromatic designs.

    Have you always incorporated used leather into your collections and production?
    The process of reusing leftover fabrics as well as leather has always been incorporated into our design DNA. We get the leather scraps from the manufacturer and sew smaller items from those.  Another approach is to create Showpieces from leftover material. Our Modular Human Showpieces were created from a carpet, which we found on the streets and are now traveling around the world for being displayed at well-known design museums.

    Your collections have always captivated a broad audience in regards to gender and age. Do you see this becoming more prevalent in the fashion arena?
    We at Barbara I Gongini, celebrate the male, the female and everything what lies within. We don’t think exclusively in terms of gender. A lot of our female customers buy our Menswear and the other way round. We celebrate this fluidity!

    Besides your current clients, what person would make you happy to see dressed in your SS18 collection?
    I am personally not very impressed by the mechanism of fame. Don`t get me wrong, I really appreciate when people succeed with something that they really burn for! Personally, I love to see the different types of people on the street, the ones who made an effort and considered what to wear. This can be a form of pure art. Therefore what really inspires me is the people, not a particular person. Of course, I was happy when I got the opportunity to dress Lenny Kravitz’s band, for instance, it filled my heart with joy. That was really cool, because I dig his art, too.

  • Hail, the Dark Lioness!

    Written by Ksenia Rundin

    South African visual activist Zaneli Muholi has turned Stockholm’s frosty Friday morning into a subtropical celebration of self-reflection and contemporary identity politics. Her solo exhibition “Somnyama Ngonyama” (Hail, the Dark Lioness) invites us into the hard everyday life of LBTQI-world of the Republic of South Africa and narrates their story through her personal experiences expressed in a myriad of reality-embellished and self-speaking black-and-white photographs. Tyres, torn plastic bag, clothes pegs, metal sponge, a vacuum cleaner hose and, all of a sudden, a Japanese kimono - every item, besides creating an aesthetic aura for the beholder’s eyes, bears a deep and significant reference to the past and challenges the future. Using all these attributes, Zaneli Muholi claims the right to her own body without waiting for someone to validate her existence.

    By turning the camera towards herself, she creates a conversation filled with a deep emotional cascade and a long camp for freedom of individuality and freedom of love. Meanwhile, she also creates an expressive intimacy based on a cultural context and wrapped into a complex notions of sustainable beauty and desire. The photographer draws attention to urgent environmental issues, sexual politics and violence by creating strong emotional ties confiding her personal trauma to the camera lens. She establishes her own artistic language, dancing as a robe-walker between classical portraiture, fashion photography and ethnographic imagery, letting the dark lioness become the focal point of the moment eternalised.

  • Style, Substance and Simplicity of Mr. Smith

    Written by Pari Damani

    Starting the interview, the founder of Mr.Smith David Justin says that for a brand owner, the print becomes so much more valuable. Print gives recognition because I feel when I read something in print, even about another brands, it has more merit to it due to the thought process behind. It’s a long lead that needs to be prepared, as it is not just instantaneous. The Creative Director Freda Rossidis calls herself “an ever magazine buyer”. And we are diving into the world of Mr.Smith to speak about the brand, its products and life around it.

    Do you guys work together, or did you use to work together? How did it start?
    David: I have a background in Business and Commerce. My mother has always had a salon, so when I was a kid, I was always there sweeping hair. On Thursday night I was there making coffee for the clients. I also travelled a lot with my mother when she was going to fashion week. After my university studies, I worked for an Australian hair care company a number of years. After that I developed Mr. Smith and with professional help of Frida created and launched balancing shampoo conditioner. We worked on the product for 15-18 months and finally made it absolutely perfect. We never release any of our products until they reach our level of perfection. Freda works with the product as such, concentrating on quality and professional need and imagery, while I deal with marketing. Such division of duties, constitutes, I suppose, the concept of the brand.

    Did you try it on people at the salon first?
    Freda: Yeah, it was all salon tested. I was doing all the testing and it went on for quite some time.
    David: We tested it in Australia and America on different hair types and at salons with different price points. I think we achieved an amazing result with the balancing shampoo conditioner, and I still consider the latter as my favourite product today.

    What made you think that there was a need for (this sound really bad) but another hair product in this world?
    David: I don't think there is a product on the market that stands for what we - an Australian owned brand - are offering. It is an Australian made product which is sulfene and paraben free, PETA-certified and also packed in an aesthetically pleasing way, adding a luxury feeling to it.
    Freda: The product is not available online, as we do not just want to sell. We believe that it is a premium performing product and the client needs that professional knowledge and guidance we could provide in store. It is not just a cookie-cutter product but a customised commodity. Thus, when customers come in we ask about their hair, how often they wash it, how they like it to feel etc. Then, we can adjust the product specifically to a customer’s hair. Possibility to do it online is rather limited and a customer usually ends up with buying a product for a wrong hair type, what changes the effect of the product and consequently, the customer’s experience as such. Therefore, we put a lot of effort in educating our hairdressers about the products and how to use them. Like David says, we want to support the salons and we do not ever want to be presented online.

    Oh, that is nice, like going back to how it used to be. Freda, how involved are you within Mr. Smith, is it your brand?
    Freda: I do the creative direction for the brand, what means all the imagery that you see, work with the fashion week and putting teams together. Furthermore, I do all the testing of all the products, because I do not just want to know how to use the product, when putting it on the market, but also to know how the product feels. I know exactly what we need because I’m in the industry, working from inside and reaching out to the customer. However, I am not physically at the salon anymore but attending shows, photo shoots and working with different celebrity clients. I am not engaged in the packaging process, as it is David’s area.

    The name, Mr. Smith, where does it come from and why Mr. Smith?
    David: We wanted something chic, minimal, clean and that reflected the packaging. We didn't want anything ego driven. I didn't want my name on the bottle because my aim was to avoid the product to be associated with a certain person. We were looking for something that reflected what we stand for as a brand and fit in as a premium product. Our idea is to let the product speak for itself, rather than have a spokesperson on behalf of the product, advocating for it. Thus, it is a fictitious name. Mr. Smith really does reflect ambiguousness and it is androgynous as well. It also allows the consumer to ask questions about the brand.

    A lot of beauty brands which are coming from Australia, promoting healthy organic life and are not tested on animals. Why do you think that is?
    David: I think at the moment we are probably the only professional brand that actually is manufactured in Australia. Many brands are based in Australia but not produced there, so we are one of the few that physically produce in Australia. Our factory is situated in the vicinity of our office in Melbourne. Hence, everything is locally sourced and produced. This is how we try to support our own network, our own community and also help with the QC [quality control]. It gives us an opportunity to just dash down to the factory, check the production process and control the quality before it's filled. Hence, before the product goes out, we know that is has been tested and we also make sure that the consumer actually gets a premium product that is really made in Australia. We also confirm that the product lives up to the “PETA-Approved Vegan” logo.
    Freda: I think we are all pretty conscious of what we use on our bodies all the time. I have always been very aware of having organic vegetables and cleaning products at home. And we have always loved animals, even before we had Mr.Smith, therefore we are against testing products on animals.
    David: The clients and the price point expect that these days.
    Freda: We are wiser now, ready to pay more for the product that is made in Italy, because we know people have been paid fairly.

    If you didn't do this, what do think you would do?
    David: I would probably have done skincare. Yeah, if I hadn't done haircare I would have done skincare, cosmetics, grooming or fashion.
    Freda: It would have been skincare for sure. David has always been meticulous, even as a child. Whenever he would draw something, it had to be perfect. If the paper had a mark on it, he wouldn't use that piece of paper.
    David: I think you need to be like that to create a brand.
    Freda: Yes, you do. Everything is meticulous and I think that is why David is successful. He really cares about and loves his brand and is really detailed with everything, which goes in the products, even what concerns product placement and distribution.
    David: We feel absolutely blessed here in Sweden.

    Were the products made, thinking of the Australian woman or were they made for women worldwide?
    Freda: No not really…
    David: There is no Australian woman, because everybody has this idea about the Australian blond woman, but she doesn't exist. It is so universal and that is why we have specific products for different women, men, hair types, whatever it may be. The product is completely unisex, universal. We don't have a specific woman in Australia, as it is so multicultural. The product is very universal and I think that is why I have had so much success in such a short time. It works for any clientele.

    You feel that you can build it. It's light. I think that people have been sick of the heaviness in other brands. Has that been a focal point as well?
    Freda: One thing that I always say with an editorial brand is that when I test the products I test them like I would use them for a shoot or on a show. I like to mix the products and if I have used a few products at the same time, I still want you to wear your hair tomorrow without having to wash it. Therefore our products are light, they are not heavy. I had a girl for an educational day last time I was here and I did about six different looks and I layered and layered so many products and the next day we had a show and it was a model that called in sick and I said to the coordinator, “Get the girl we had here yesterday, her hair was perfect I can use her again today”. When she came to the show, I asked her “Did you wash your hair” and she said, “No!”  I felt her hair, it was perfect, and I used her again on stage and reworked everything, using more products. And it didn't look heavy. I'm sure if you talked to all of the sellers, they would say the same thing. The products are really easy to work with. They don't build up any heaviness in the hair and they are water soluble and colour-safe, what means using the shampoo does not wash all the colour out.

    Do you ever get sick of working with each other?
    David: We don't work together all the time, otherwise we would kill each other.
    Freda: I work at fashion week, so I go to New York and we see each other then but after I go to Milan and Paris. I am the Creative Director, he is the CEO and then we have a lot of other stuff as well. The funny thing is that, on the show that we did in Norway David could be in one room and I would be in another, but when we had to style someone, our aesthetics would be very similar. David has a really good eye.
    David: Freda can do what I am thinking about with hair and I can basically do what she is thinking with packaging.
    Freda: I do my job and he does his job but we often think alike.

    What shows do you do?
    Freda: We have Mr.Smith shows.
    David: We did Noon BY Noor in New York. We did Rachel Comey. We always get four or five shows every fashion week period, so we try to do it for brands that reflect our aesthetics rather than just choosing any mass marketing brand. Usually we go with the younger cool brands, as long as we stay true to us.

    So what is the must-have? What is the product that everybody needs in their hair?
    David: The Foundation, I feel like there is nothing comparable to it on the market.
    Freda: The Foundation, if we talk about styling. If I styled your hair, I would use the dry foundation what would make your hair feel really gutsy. It provides heat protection and gives the hair substance, what makes it stay the way it originally was styled. If you have fine and curly hair, I would use the foundation mixed with some of the cremé, because it would give your curls hold and softness. So that is probably our most popular styling product around the world. Not just here. I think the dry foundation is our biggest seller. It is not a shiny hair product, but a bit more matt. It is a cool product. Again, you need to know how to use it in order to get the most out of the product.

    What inspires you the most? Where do you get your inspiration?
    David: Creating new products.
    Freda: I am fortunate to get to work on the biggest shows in the world, because I do that as well as working with Mr.Smith, so I assist some amazing talents. I have worked on every show from Givenchy to Chanel, from Fendi to Hermés and Marc Jacobs. Thus, I just feel blessed that I get to assist these amazing artists. When I am backstage I look at the fashion, so I can see what is happening next season so I am always there, seeing what we are going to be doing, and I am able to bring that back to Mr.Smith. I get my inspiration from fashion week and venues that I attend. And travelling, and just meeting new people, getting inspired by the people and the environment around you. Like other hairdressers. I am inspired by people we have met in Stockholm just the last few days and by talking to them and seeing the way they dress.
    David: I think our inspiration comes from the effortlessly cool, it is about not overdressing it or overstyle it. We are not about the sexy or sexy type of hair. We are about minimal and chic. I feel that people that use our brand are more self-aware and self-confident. They don't need to be in your face or over the top. They are understated and self-confident.

    Are all of the products organic?
    David: All of the products use organic ingredients. However, to say that they are 100 percent organic all the way through is not true, because it is so hard to do that. We just state facts and as a brand, we think we are honest and we tell the truth. We use organic ingredients and botanicals, but not completely organic. All the products except for the three tubs product are “PETA-Approved Vegan”. We have a lanolin and bees wax, an animal extract in the three tubs, what means it is not vegan but it is still PETA-certified and absolutely not animal tested.

  • Let's Talk with Jimmy Neda

    Written by Jimmy Neda

    Mother-daughter duo, Martina and Gun, the creators of the legendary brand, Face Stockholm celebrated 35 years in the biz back in November and are still rockin the beauty buisness., The celebration took place at Bukowski’s in Stockholm, I had a moment with them to chat about the past and future.

    Congratulations to 35 years in the makeup business, what’s the key to you and your mom’s success with Face?

    Besides having the right product at the right time, I think it has been years of hard work and pure stubbornness Looking back we realize we were first with a lot of things in Sweden. We had the first neon nail polishes in the early 80s then we had the crazy earth tones that nobody else had at the Swedish department stores in the mid 80s. Then came the breakthrough pastel nail polish us that brought us to Barney’s beauty counters all around the world. When we open SOHO we were the first cosmetic company to retail from tables as supposed to the traditional counters that customers were used to. I also think our merchandising with eclectic antiques and humorous window displays brought us a different style than had been seen previously. Mom and I are passionate about our lives and our company and I think that permeates our brand. Our customers and partners feel it. We are living in a time where the market is oversaturated with products and our customers are looking for not only quality but a great experience and buying from a brand that they have an emotional connection to.

    What does beauty mean to you?

    OH BEAUTY - WE LOVE BEAUTY! It is absolutely everywhere and in the most unexpected places. Mom and I are both very visual and we both take such joy in beauty. Weather I look at the faces of the kids or my stunning view outside my house or the perfection of nature OR in the beautiful exchange of kindness between people, I find beauty a hugely important part of my life!

    How has the beauty industry changed over the years?

    Indescribable! I still marvel at the fact that when I opened FACE Stockholm in New York we had no cell phones and business inquiries come via letters in the mail or via fax on thermal paper on rolls. Who knew we would sell lipstick though the web - in our world trying lipsticks and seeing if it fit you was an imperative part of a beauty purchase. Social Media is unbelievable to us still - the amount of images created daily is mind blowing and who on earth would imagine folks to walk around and take “selfies” all day long. It is a strange and fascinating time!

    You had great success with your collaboration with Reebok. Please tell me more how you became partners and about the process from start to finished product.

    Well, I think we’ve been early with a lot of collaborations but when Reebok classics called us the week before Christmas 2014 and asked us to be their global partner I almost fell off my chair. The collaboration consists of the creative development of the actual shoe especially with focus on the color and upcoming trends both within beauty and fashion. We also develop a concept together around the story of each collection and the message we wish to communicate. We have a shared anniversary as we were founded 1982 and this was also the birthday of the first aerobic shoe specially made for women - the freestyle. We come together in our shared interest and focus on woman, women’s lifestyle and empowering woman overall. Once the shoe is designed the collaboration on the marketing and social aspect has been magnificent. People are really responding to our campaigns and we are unbelievably working on our seventh season now, FW 2018. It’s quite unusual as Reebok typically does not do more than three seasons in a collaboration. It has been an incredible success!

    Are you working on any new and exciting projects that you would like to share?

    We have so many exciting new projects in the pipeline right now! Our challenge has been the logistics of global Ecom and distribution and 2018 is going to be the year when it all comes together finally! We are also focusing more taon creative assets and brand communication than ever before and yes…there are exciting new partnerships in the pipeline!!

  • Hysteria by Happy Socks

    Written by Fashion Tales

    Hysteria by Happy Socks, the first lifestyle sock brand for modern, fashion conscious women, presents a bold collection of expressive design items in fine qualities for Spring/ Summer 2018.

    Hysteria see women embracing their individuality as a mark of strength, and believe in their right to express themselves however they want.
    By resting on the powder red shores of the Mediterranean Sea and dipping our toes in the tranquil teal waters, we found our colors. By glancing at the defiant delicacy of the roaring 1950s, we found the length and fabrics we needed to make sure this collection is a striking addition to a Spring/Summer 2018 wardrobe.


    Written by Fashion Tales

    Converse and JW Anderson exist at opposite ends of the fashion spectrum. The space between JW Anderson’s forward-thinking design pushing high fashion’s boundaries, and the iconic, made-for-everyone sneaker creates the driving force behind this collaboration. Together, the brands celebrate the collaboration through the lens of youth culture pioneer, Larry Clark. The creative effort explores the provocative, daring space of opposing ideas and complementary ideals.

    The first drop from the highly anticipated Converse x JW Anderson collaboration, “Glitter_Gutter,” hits stores on December 14. The unisex collection intentionally dances across the lines of what’s traditionally considered masculine and feminine through bold colors, glam glitter and elevated details across classic Converse styles.

    Glitter_Gutter stemmed from the idea of breaking iconic silhouettes with something unexpected,” says designer Jonathan Anderson. “Taking the glitter out of context and wearing it with a pair of washed chinos, for example.”

    To create this tension, where past and future meet, Anderson brought pop art contrast, vintage-inspired details and unexpected materials – along with his personal love for Converse – to the collection’s three attention-getting silhouettes. Here’s what he had to say about his approach to each icon.

    This is a universal icon item that everybody should have. They’re part of my daily uniform. I will wear them until they fall apart!” – on the Chuck ’70

    As a key piece of Anderson’s personal look, it was only fitting that the Chuck ’70 became the core silhouette in Glitter_Gutter. The deliberate nuance and refined features of the Chuck ’70 allowed for designs that are at once feminine and masculine. “I wanted to make sure the shoe felt modern, but underline its timeless features,” added Anderson. 

    It’s another functionality than the Chuck, and it’s very easy to wear.” – on the Thunderbolt

    Anderson jumped at the chance to remaster this heritage running sneaker for the streets. The blocked body was the perfect place to playfully experiment with unique color combinations and proportions.