• Chanel Haute Couture AW 2018/19

    Written by Meghan Scott

    Paris is synonymous with Haute Couture as is French fashion house Chanel with Paris. This season Karl Lagerfeld paid another homage to the magical city, with a focus on book lovers and the Académie Francaise. The runway was lined with booksellers' “boxes”, as you would see quayside along the Seine, invoking the spirit of the Parisiénne intellect. Models adorned in beautiful dresses and gowns embellished with tweed, flannel, velvet, crêpe, lace, taffetas, radzimir and chiffon, as classic Chanel. The colour palette mimicked the tones of Paris rooftops, street asphalt with black and deep nocturnal navy with gold and silver reflections like the reflection of the moon on the Seine. Jackets were joined by pleated skirts. Chiffon blouses, high band collars, lace tops, and others with plastrons embroidered with sequins, beads, and crystals, further enriched the collection. A feeling of 1940's was present with exaggerated pompadours, knee-length skirts, pan collars, encompassing pre-rockabilly vibe. Karl expresses his recognition that Paris is a very unique fashion capital, a symbiosis of arts and culture makes Chanel unique.

    The guest list at the show included Chanel's new ambassadors Penélope Cruz, and the regular CHANEL ambassadors Lily-Rose Depp, Vanessa Paradis, Pharrell Williams, Marine Vacth, Caroline de Maigret, Soo Joo Park, Ellie Bamber, Ayami Nakajo, Liu Wen and Zhou Xun, American actresses Tracee Ellis Ross and Mackenzie Foy, Thai actress Chutimon Chuengcharoensukuying, Canadian singer Charlotte Cardin, French actresses Diane Rouxel and Carole Bouquet as well as French ballet dancer Marie-Agnès Gillot attended the Fall-Winter 2018/19 Haute Couture runway show this Tuesday, July 3rd at the Grand Palais. 


    Written by Ksenia Rundin

    Art Deco has since its birth embodied luxury, glamour, exuberance and belief in technological progress. So do the VOGT Stockholm handbags by building stringent architectural lines, skilfully married with the generous functionality and laconic pragmatism of Scandinavian design, underpinned by strong feminine identity. Bestowing a powerful association with the iconic geometry seen in Tamara de Lempicka’s paintings, the handbags, designed by the notable alumni of Parsons School of Design and founder of VOGT Stockholm Christina de Mercado, celebrate the modern woman. Every style is uniquely marked with either a year or a number, telling its own personal story referring to such phenomena as the history of women’s suffrage or the Vogt family’s remarkable fashion heritage.

    The thought-provoking interplay of the futuristic transience and sustainable newness creates a genuine feeling of strong identity locked in the idea of a co-creation between a woman and her potential handbag. It is a design that conceives a dialogue between the consumer and the product leaving a significant amount of space for individual creativity born in their unique relationship. Notwithstanding its short existence, the brand has already established its own independent voice and candid style expressed in luxury sustainability of materials, shapes and colours endorsed by Italian craftsmanship. Odalisque Magazine had a chance to meet Christina de Mercado – the woman behind the brand – and talk with her about her family’s fashion business tradition, the company, sustainability and a perfect bag wardrobe.

    Where does the name VOGT come from and what does it mean?
    Vogt is my maiden name, which originally hails from Germany. My grandfather immigrated to Sweden from Germany. Since three generations back the Vogt family has been an actor in the fashion industry. Once, my grandfather started a fur import company, what later was expanded by my father into a ready-to-made clothing retail company, providing around 40 different brands to retailers over Scandinavia. The name of the company was ‘Vogt Agentur’. Hence, it was quite obvious for me to continue using the family name for my own business.

    All the bags in your collections are marked with either a year or a number. Why and what do they mean?
    These are numbers and years which are of great significance for me, such as, for example, the first bag we ever received. We used to call it ‘Lucky number 7’, what became ‘No. 7’ in the collection. Another shoulder bag with a metal chain strap carries the name ‘No. 1921’, what praises the year, when women’s suffrage was granted in Sweden. ‘No. 1928’ celebrates my father’s birthday, honouring his memory and the Vogt family in general. Thus this is how it all is organized instead of applying different names.

    What did you learn during the years at Parsons School of Design?
    I think that the most precious thing I have acquired is the knowledge of exploiting and maintaining your creativity without being confined by it. If you believe that you are able to accomplish something, you will definitely achieve it with the right attitude and method. What I still appreciate most is that during the study process, I never felt limited by any rules. Having a vision and solution for that, I was free to do it in my way.

    What has been a source of inspiration for creating these bags with such an intelligent geometry and stringent architecture?
    I have always been fascinated by Art Deco that is always about geometry, architecture and design. Therefore it became a self-evident source of inspiration for me, when I started working on the products. It turned to be a signature of my design.

    What does the triangle pattern/shape mean?
    Some people see those as triangles, while others interpret it as a sunrise. In other words, it is your imagination that decides whether you see triangles or something else. In general, I think the pattern gives the handbag a distinctive character and form.

    What handbag is your favourite?
    It is ‘No. 1928 HOBO’.

    What do you think is the ideal size of the handbag a woman should have?
    First of all, it is of course very individual. For me personally it is HOBO, because it fits such important life style attributes like extra pair of shoes, sportswear and my laptop. Nevertheless, I also have a sling purse, like ‘No. 7’, which I can use for a cocktail party or while leaving the office for lunch. This combination of two purses is my perfect solution.

    How many handbags do you think a woman should have in her basic bag wardrobe?
    I think, the optimal number is two pieces, as I described in the previous question. Otherwise, it could be nice to have a few purses as a stylish handbag and a pair of nice shoes can lift the whole outfit. Then you could only wear jeans and t-shirt letting the handbag and the shoes do the job. In general, I think it is good to invest in a quality product, also considering the sustainability aspect.

    Great that you are mentioning sustainability, because I have a question about it. How is the sustainability aspect integrated into your products concerning both the design and production stages?
    A handbag is an investment that should hold a few seasons or even years. Therefore it is important that a woman owning a handbag does not get thoroughly bored by the latter. Accordingly, the purse should stick out in some way by having a certain distinctive design features. When it comes to production, we use Italian suppliers, who use certified chemicals on their raw materials and have a high grade of social responsibility and safety at work. It is a fair trade.

    What is the biggest challenge that you are dealing with as a female designer in the fashion industry?
    The biggest challenge is the daily routines of running the business. Besides that I have been accepted by the industry in a quite nice way and especially in Italy. There it is not so easy for young designers to establish a relationship with suppliers and retailers having such big brands as Dolce & Gabbana on their customer list. It is a great confirmation form me, meaning that they take my products seriously and that my products live up to high expectations.

    How do you keep your inspiration alive?
    I do go to the museums a lot and I love architecture. It might be sufficient to just lift up your eyes and look around.


    Written by Ksenia Rundin

    Nicholas Kirkwood is always one step further, in both the boldness and originality of his innovative shoe design and the sustainable choice of materials and practices. Odalisque Magazine met the designer during Fashion Tech Talks in Stockholm, where he was one of the speakers, and had a chat with him about sustainability, co-creation, artificial intelligence, coolness, art and even music.

    You started your brand in 2005, already then uniting craftsmanship with innovative design and sustainable materials. How has the sustainability aspect improved since the start? What is sustainable strategy for your company today?
    Even though it has been a big change, I think, it is still right in the beginning. When I started, there was quite few in the industry, who really thought about reusable materials. My approach to sustainability is like Tesla’s, when they came about and said something like, “Why aren’t any electric cars made to look good? Why cannot an electric car be a sexy sports car?” The strategy should not be dictated by the concept, which is sustainable, it should just be given. During a couple of seasons, we are now looking at all my material lines, going all the way back. For the next season we change all our linings to become degradable and I am also looking at the similar strategy for the soles. Thus, sustainability for me is a kind of natural regression, considering all the material innovations during last three years. My intention is not to use sustainability as a marketing angle, but to apply it as a part of the process.

    You and Farfetch are doing a project together with an element of co-creation integrated. Do you plan to educate your consumers in the matters of sustainability through that co-creation process?
    Partly from the next-next season – Spring/Summer 2020 – and the following season, we are looking at the labelling system, which is similar to one you can see at a supermarket. We are trying to make the consumer understand how the information given to him/her at the point of purchase makes an impact on the latter and the degree of certain impact. Nevertheless, it is a long way to go but we are doing our best. There is an element of transparency in that concept and if we are honest about what we sell, it will strengthen the consumer trust.

    How does artificial intelligence (AI) challenge your creating process?
    To be honest, we are not using that much of AI in our creative process right now. My current roll in the company is a merchandiser and we work with merchandisers, where there is always a kind of love-hate relationship with them. Generally, designers want to think outside the box, while merchandisers look at the data, deciding what price to set, etc. I do not think AI affects design process as such, where you are both following a trend and creating a trend.

    Do you think the notion of luxury will change due to the presence of AI?
    There is the design process and the manufacturing. I am still making my shoes manually today, using the fine craft. However, it is also important for me to combine my products with new technologies such as 3D printing and new materials, using the best of both worlds. It is about a combination, while choosing either the one or the other does not feel right for me.

    It is said that through your studies, you became aware of the ‘excitement of a movement’ as well as artists embracing ‘a coolness in their manufactured edge’. What is coolness for you today, when the subcultures seem to have erased any borders among them?
    I am always blending multiple references, sometimes a reference might be for a silhouette or a fabrication. Sometimes, I mix youth subculture with architecture, with technology with how a certain music piece makes me feel. Thus, it is about multiple references and how you put those into a mix and it comes out something that looks different, looks original and not too direct as a reference. You do not merely use a punk rocker as a reference to make punk rock shoes. But you mix punk rocker with Zaha Hadid and then you get something different. This is my approach to design.

    By providing access to different information, AI makes brands vulnerable for counterfeiting. How do you protect your brand equity in such a case?
    It is a bit of a constant battle. If you put your design out there, it might directly become reinterpreted or directly copied. I try to be faster, one step further with my design in order to keep others one step behind.

    What do you prefer, the Bloomsbury Group before the Bauhaus school or the Bauhaus school before the Bloomsbury Group?
    I like Bauhaus - the movement and Bauhaus – the band. The Bauhaus school was a massive revolution. It was something that all the 20th Century architecture is related to, in one way or another. It is Modernism, Postmodernism. Potentially, it can go slightly further back and forth in little bit of arts and crafts. The Bauhaus school made the most bold and vivid design and the music is kind of colouring into that in such an extraordinary way.