• Esprit + Craig&Karl: An Interview with Teddy Quinlivan

    Written by Meghan Scott

    intro and interview by Meghan Scott, conducted and transcribed by Lisa Bouville  

    A limited edition collection, Esprit + Craig&Karl, between renowned design duo Craig & Karl and iconic brand Esprit launched on May 31st, 2019. The message: love, equality and unity. 50 years ago, the Stonewall riots catapulted the global Pride movement of the LGBTQ+ community. A protest for equal rights and sexual preference and gender quality emerged into a brilliant universal parade to celebrate diversity, freedom and equality.

    This collection celebrates the beauty of a colourful and diverse world. Each piece can be mixed and matched based on individual style. “The artists Craig Redman and Karl Maier create colorful art that is often filled with simple messages executed in a thoughtful and humorous way. For their collaboration with Esprit and in celebration of Pride, they decided to play with one of Esprit’s most recognisable design elements: the stripes.”

    Having grown up with my great grandfather (grandmother’s father on my mother's side) being a force in the LGBQT+ community in Toronto dating back to the ’20s, eachPride Season I am reminded of the struggle and the fight the community has to endure. And I am grateful for the support and acceptance my great grandfather had within his community, albeit small during that time. Without this support, my family I know and love would basically not exist. Growing up as a teenager in the 90’s in a Toronto suburb where bro mentality flourished, I could never understand how people could be so unaccepting and close-minded, and it was hard to navigate during my awkward teenage years. Finally, with my best friend, I found the rave community in Toronto which finally opened up a whole new world of people. They accepted our differences, and even though I am/was a straight woman, I was a total tomboy. We got to immerse ourselves into a culture of understanding and support. There are still too many communities globally who still don’t accept diversity, and collaborations like this help expand acceptance and support the LGBTQ+ community.

    I had the chance to ask Teddy Quinlivan some questions, she was the key model for the Esprit + Craig&Karl campaign. Quinlivan was discovered in 2015 by Nicolas Ghesquière and instantly became a runway favourite, walking shows such as Jeremy Scott, Caroline Herrera, Marc Jacobs and Jason Wu, to name a few. In 2017 she decided to come out as transgender amid the scrutiny of the Trump administration that was proposing bills and legislation that would set the LGBTQ+ community back decades. It’s still happening and in order to make the world a better place we have to support our fellow humans, celebrate our differences and stop get offended or worrying over how people are identifying themselves as and who has what in their pants. 

    Lisa Bouville: What was your first reaction after being approached for the Esprit + Craig&Karl?

    Teddy Quinlivan: It was just exciting for me because I knew that the brand Esprit is just such a well-recognized brand throughout Europe, and it has a powerful seen in the United States as well. It’s kind of funny because my mom has all these old Esprit sweatshirts from the ’80s, so I kind of always knew what it was. Esprit has a great brand name, so anytime a brand with that much recognition approaches me, I found out to be very special, and I especially when I knew it was the Pride collection. They didn’t just contact me because I am a model, they approach me because I had a message and this particular collection was about Pride, being yourself, acceptance of all different types of people, all different kinds of genders and sexualities, racism, backgrounds. In that sense, it was super special to be approached.

    LB: This collaboration and the involvement with the Ali Forney Centre will bring more light to the LGBTQ+ youth and their struggles, have you been involved in similar projects previously?

    TQ: This is the first project that I have ever done with Esprit, but I’ve been an activist since I came out in the fall of 2017. I tried to line myself with as many reputable organizations as possible, and I’m still learning about more because there is so much work that has to be done, Ali Forney Center is jus such an incredible place where they are housing trans and LGBTQ+ youth in New York City. I think, whenever I can do my job in a way that also benefits my community and in the world as an all that it just the most rewarding thing. I always tried to work alongside organizations; for example, two weeks ago I was in Cannes for the film festival, and I did some charity work for amfAR, which is an organization that works on aids research, which is a disease that directly affects the LGBTQ+ community. I try to keep it. There are so many issues I can be passionate about, and I am passionate about climate change and other things, but I feel like where my voice is the strongest and fits in the bath is LGBTQ+ work.

    LB: Have you noticed the shift in fashion regarding unisex and androgen style becoming more mainstream, how do you feel about the impact it will have on the mainstream? Do you think the trend can change the stigmatization ignorant people may have of the LGBTQ+ community?

    TQ: To answer the second part of your question first, I think that fashion place has a super important role and determining what we find beautiful, what we find acceptable, what we find aspirational. Fashion detects what we find aspirational because it is this very high brow thing. It is also an industry of images and sector of marketing. So the images that you see when you’re scrolling through your phone on Instagram, or the images that you see when you’re flipping through a magazine, or the images that you see at the bus stop while you’re waiting, those are powerful images that inform you what is cool, what is beautiful, what is fashionable. I think the power that fashion has is reliable in terms of the way society sees beauty as an all. We’ve got a few periods where fashion is very minimal, very opulent, and then it’s very masculine, and then it’s very feminine. It is just a reflection of the moment because fashion is a form of art, and I think that art is a reflection of the time, a reflection of culture as an all. Because of the LGBTQ+ acceptance movement that’s going on, and because of this third wave of feminism that’s happening right now, and all these things, I think there is this shift to gender non conforming dressing. What was conventional thirty years ago for a woman to wear, what was considered acceptable and fashionable is just so different now. I would never expect to see women in sweatpants on the runway or women wearing baggy clothes or jeans on the runway, perhaps if I was living in the ’80s, but now it’s just so conventional, and comfort is a part of our culture. Women want to be comfortable, women want to look comfortable, women want to feel beautiful while being comfortable, and I think that has been the most significant shift. It is not necessarily unisex. Unisex do an extent, but I think it is more a society of comfort. I think that was always something that granted to man. Men could always wear pants, men could always be comfortable, men could always wear t-shirts. There is such a freedom to express yourself through fashion now. I can wear a glittery, sparkly chain male Swarovski crystal dress, or I could wear cowboy boots, a short and a sweatshirt. I think that the blending of genders is very representative of fashion now. I don’t know if it will stay like that forever, but I think it is of the moment. The social movement of our generation heavily influences it.

    LB: What other cultural facets have you seen help shift the ignorance of the mainstream positively (concerning the LGBQT+ community)?

    TD: I’ll never forget the first kind of like a gay TV show I ever saw which was Glee. When I was growing up, there was nothing like LGBTQ+ related on television, in my mom’s era it would have been Will and Grace, and it was just a gay man on television. To be honest, I hate like musicals and like singing and all stuff like that, and it was never something up I was really into it. But I still remembered the impact of Glee, the idea that young teenagers in high school were gay and lesbian, and they were falling in love, and they were singing. There was about their struggles in their lives and a kind of reality and understanding of society. Then, one thing led to another and because I felt like that TV show broke the glass selling in terms of what was acceptable to portray on television concerning LGBTQ+ people, and it’s just becoming more and more, and now you’re seeing transgender people, transgender characters in movies and TV. That’s something like, even in the days of Glee, you would’ve never expected it. It’s been a quite rapid societal shift, and I think it’s been extremely positive because transgender people have always existed, it is not like we just appeared like that, we’ve always been there, but maybe we didn’t have the resource. We didn’t have the resources to transition a hundred years ago, just like gay people didn’t have the societal structure to feel safe being out and proud, but now we do, and that’s just the most beautiful thing. Society comes to accept this thing as part of humanity and part of life, particularly in western culture. I think it starts in the west and it expands everywhere else, and I feel pretty soon we will see a lot of more conservative cultures and countries following the direction, which typically what happens in terms of social movements. At times, it is the social movement of LGBTQ+ acceptance under threat, yes, but like we’ve pushed the bar so far that I think now as a society we all agree that there is nothing wrong with being gay. You know, twenty years ago, that would have been a very controversial statement, but now it’s not. The world is coming to terms with the idea that gay people are here, that gay people have always been there and they are here to stay. That try to see the same thing with trans people, started with the gay movement and now it’s a trans movement.

    LB: When you think about the future, maybe in 30 years, how do you think people will feel about this era looking back (socially, environmentally, financially, …)?

    TD: It’s hard to say. I feel like we made so much progress, and then Donald Trump happened. Not to bring politics too much in this conversation but, I think it does have a lot to do with the fact that the world changed very rapidly. Most people were very willing to accept that change, the idea that now gay people are going to have some rights or black people are going to be treated equally and all these things. But there is a lot of people who are stuck in the past, and they feel that the change happened too quickly, they feel like their lives are threatened by other people’s freedom which I think it is such an unfortunate ideology and way of thinking. Those people, who are stuck in the past, don’t want change or are afraid of change. They latch on to something, like Donald Trump, who promised them empty change, like we’re going to go back to the way things were, like things move to fast. A lot of people latch on that ideology because unfortunately, Donald Trump has a lot of success in shifting attitudes in the world. The leader of the United States is such a prominent social figure, and the United States always set the bar to what was acceptable, what was admirable, what was the next step for western culture. Now the United States isn’t necessarily the leader anymore. I think that’s more conservatively leadership being elected into office in places like Brazil, in places like Italy, so it does have this change effect. I am hoping that people will learn from their mistakes and see how horrible this presidency has been. We will get a new leader who is more inclusive and does care about making the world a better place and would change things. Looking back in history, we’re really in the middle of the movement right now. It’s going to be difficult, and it’s going to be challenging. I can’t even say; I don’t know how people look back on it because I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. What is happening is so unexpected, I don’t if the Trump administration is going to take away rights from some people. It’s too hard to say, but people will look back on it, and think a lot of things, that’s for sure. We have a lot to say about it.

    LB: Did the political climate in the United States persuade your decision to go public with gender identity?

    TD: Absolutely. For me, when Donald Trump administration started taking away protection for transgender students, and something that happens recently was transgender individuals rebound from serving in the military. I just started to watch my government. This government, that stood for freedom and liberty, dehumanized and delegitimized our humanity. I felt I had to do something, and I had to say something. It was extremely important for me to educate people, so they didn’t feel that way and also latched on the reality that we are all bleeding the same blood, we are all cut in the same clothes, and we are all humans regardless of our gender sexuality, our race, our background, our nationality. So I felt a really strong responsibility to protect my community and to come out to use my voice to be a guiding force.

    Shop the styles and see the whole collection here.


    Written by Philip Warkander by Fashion Tales

    Palazzo Pucci is situated, as one would expect, on Via Pucci in central Florens, just around the corner from the Duomo. Built in the 16th century, it is decorated with frescoes, paintings, and sculptures, often made by renowned painters such as Giovanni da San Giovanni, Jacopo Chiavistelli and Giovanni Domenico Ferretti. During Pitti Uomo in June, the fashion house celebrated the launch of their new book Unexpected Pucci, published by Rizzoli, curated by Laudomia Pucci. The main subject of the book is the collaborations between Pucci and other brands, operating in adjacent creative industries. For example, Kartell has used Pucci prints for their furniture, Rosenthal for chinaware and Illy for cups. Using Pucci prints for objects outside of fashion is in line with how already Emilio Pucci, the brand’s creator, would turn his prints into panels for interiors and even apply them as decoration for swimming pools. In the book, Angelo Flaccavento is quoted as saying that, “beauty, for Pucci, is a way to make daily living better.” This is a philosophy that is easy to sympathize with: we all need garments, chinaware, and chairs in our lives – so why not choose the things that surround us with care, thus ensuring that they are not only useful but also aesthetically pleasing? Choose your belongings well and use them for a long time, rather than buying into temporary trends that you eventually will grow bored with.

    Back to the Pucci Palazzo: in the courtyard, a small bar had been set up, offering drinks and hors-d’oeuvres. Going up the great staircase in the center of the palazzo, I was surrounded by Korean influencers, European fashion journalists and Italian nobility, as one would expect at a Pucci event. On the first floor of the palace, there was an installation dedicated to a selection of the objects discussed in the book. The piece de resistance was without question the Pucci rugs, first launched at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Buenos Aires in 1970. Now, they had been reissued in a small selection – Ovali, Occhi, Giardino, Lamborghini, Menelik, and Hawaii – of the brand’s historic prints.
    Pucci’s strength is that it refuses to give in to trends and instead has developed its own, carefully crafted design language, consistent throughout the decades and easily recognized through its strong prints and bold use of color. It’s a symbol of a carefree lifestyle, where the money is not an issue and good taste is subjective. Flaccavento summarizes the project:

    This book describes the all-encompassing vision of Emilio Pucci, his desire to make not only the clothes special but also the everyday objects – furnishings, carpets, furniture pieces – distributing kinetic, super-colorful, hypnotic prints everywhere. An absolute and engaging Puccification that was not born from the desire to accumulate money thanks to cruel marketing, but rather from the urgency to create. A lesson embraced by Laudomia Pucci, which sounds like a warning today due to its authenticity and a touch of refreshing humanism in a world where the infamous and mercantile branding prevails.”

  • Fashion Exhibition: A short novel on men’s fashion Museo della Moda e del Costume, Palazzo Pitt, Florence

    Written by Philip Warkander by Meghan Scott

    L’art est né des contraints.” With this quote by Stendahl, Olivier Saillard explains his view on menswear: For a man to care too much about his appearance is dangerous, as he then risks being seen as effeminate and thus losing his hegemonic position in society. If he cares too little, he is considered to be dirty, possibly too poor to buy new clothes when his old are worn out, and then he will be treated like an outcast. Most of menswear therefore takes place in a very confined space, constrained by societal norms on how a man should appear. But for Saillard, arguably the most interesting and innovative fashion curator in the world today, this is precisely what makes menswear so interesting: “I have been doing this work, of curating fashion, for more than 25 years now. In that time, I have probably curated about 150 exhibitions on women’s wear, but only three on menswear. It’s easy to do an exhibition on evening dresses and luxurious haute couture, but it says nothing about the wardrobe of the everyday, about how we actually encounter and engage with fashion in our daily lives. This is also why it’s challenging to curate menswear; it’s not so bold and extravagant as women’s wear. With this exhibition, I wanted to find the dream in a grey suit.”

    Anyone interested in fashion knows Saillard’s name. Though soft-spoken and humble, he has for a long time defined our idea not only of what fashion has been in the past, but also what it has potential to become in the future. Through magazine articles, museum exhibitions and books, he has proposed a more poetic and whimsical approach to fashion. He is therefore widely considered to be one of the most influential voices in the industry today. His exhibitions are his way of proposing that we should make fashion more magical and explorative again, and that we should leave behind us the industry’s current obsession with Instagram-culture, athleisure and celebrities in expensive gowns posing on various red carpets.

    It has for a long time been common practice to explore the link between fashion and art, but for this exhibition Saillard has chosen another path; to use fashion as illustrations to literature. In every room, he has placed large “books”, in which quotes from selected classics have been printed. The outfits are then used as illustrations to the quotes.
    Fashion exhibitions at museums have throughout the years been criticized for presenting clothes as dead objects, the opposite of how they are used when hanging in our closets at home. In the museum, behind glass, they become lifeless, like ghosts. Reacting to this critique, Saillard has deliberately chosen to display the outfits on tall, metal valets, enlarged versions of the type of furniture otherwise rarely seen outside of people’s bedrooms.
    The garments have not been selected randomly but represent the brands that have showcased their menswear collections at Pitti Uomo, beginning with Vivienne Westwood in 1990 and by now including names such as Raf Simons, Dries Van Noten, Valentino and Dolce & Gabbana. But, the exhibition is not only a reflection on Pitti Uomo but on what has happened in society at large during these past three decades. Saillard explains: “Interestingly, the pieces that were the most difficult to showcase were the sportswear garments. They have not aged well, and perhaps we need to revisit this look in a few decades from now, to assess it in a more accurate way. Instead, it is the suit, and in particular, the black suit, that intrigues me. This kind of garment looks almost the same from decade to decade. Contemporary menswear is based in an idea of masculinity that was formulated in the 1800s, and in many ways, this remains the same today. It is the same jacket, the same trousers, the same colour palette. For me, the effects are very clear: if we want a fashion industry that is sustainable, we should look to menswear. Here is the idea of a fashion that doesn’t go out of style, almost like a uniform. Of course, today we are less formal and instead more casual and I think perhaps that in the future, we should turn to work-wear for inspiration. Work-wear deserves more recognition. But this should happen in the existing tradition of menswear, finding a few pieces that already are classics.”

    The exhibition ends in a room with only monochromatic, white outfits, spread out on white pages of a book. For Saillard, this symbols his vision of the future, where fashion is still a blank canvas, waiting for us to bring it to life.