Fashion Turmoil for 2018 as Phoebe Philo Exits Céline

Phoebe Philo’s Céline
CreditPhotograph by Karim Sadli. Styled by Joe McKenna.

Just before the holiday, Phoebe Philo, artistic director of Céline, announced that she is leaving the house. A replacement was not named at the time, leaving turmoil heading into 2018 and the New Year. This is significant fashion news; Phoebe Philo’s 10 years as artistic director at Céline redefined what women aspire to wear, with her minimalist aesthetic, clean lines, and tonal color palette gaining traction with critics and consumers. She stripped away the fuss in fashion and what remained were the clothes, powerful in their simplicity. Philo inspired a new kind of power dressing; a quiet way of making a statement, where the clothes do not overpower but reveal how women really want to see themselves – sophisticated and knowledgeable. There is a Céline uniform: large, slouchy trousers; a collarless shirt; flats; a tuxedo jacket — preferably in navy, black or cream. Quite simply, Philo transformed Céline into her own image and gave the brand a new relevance.

The news of Philo’s departure comes at a time when other fashion houses are in transition. We will have to see what 2018 holds for Céline and for the fashion industry.

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“Part of a Hungarian Success Story”

Eszter Aron, left, in the showroom of her Aeron label in Budapest. The five-year-old brand, manufactured in Hungary, now makes more than 60 percent of its sales in Asia.

The Aeron Showroom in Budapest. Credit Akos Stiller for The New York Times

My Grandma Eleanor was born in Budapest, Hungary. Anything Hungarian fascinates me. That’s why reading that Eastern Europe is becoming a new and unexpected growing fashion hub sparked my interest. In 2012, contemporary women’s wear brand Aeron was founded by Eszter Aron, its head designer, and three friends. Vivien Laszloffy joined the business as chief executive in 2015; Ms. Laszloffy says that the label’s philosophy is to be a brand “that people will recognize and know is from Budapest, in the same way people look at Acne and know it’s from Sweden. People say it is against the odds to build a brand from here, rather than move to Paris or Milan, but actually we see it as an advantage. Everyone has a vision in their minds of what a French or Italian brand looks like. But no one can imagine a brand from Budapest yet. And so we can seize that space and make it our own.”  Ms. Laszloffy said the success that Aeron has seen signing on with Itochu, one of Japan’s largest trading companies, has boosted morale at home and put the brand in a new league: “The workers have always worked for foreign companies; now they are part of a Hungarian success story.

Now, when I visit the place where my Grandma Eleanor was born – I can also check out the fashion and the Aeron brand, whose “minimalist aesthetic and techno-fabrics” are helping to bring success home to Hungary.

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Fashion Insider Jo Ellison, Speaks

Jo Ellison

In July, I read a fascinating piece in Financial Times, by fashion editor Jo Ellison. The subject of the feature: Why fashion isn’t always as silly as it seems … Irrelevant? Elitist? The fashion industry makes mistakes, but we should still take it seriously. I loved reading it and was drawn to the writing of Ms. Ellison. And then I thought … what if I could track down Ms.Ellison and ask her to share her thoughts on TFIO? Never mind that Jo lives in London, never mind that she is a true fashion insider, living a fashion insider’s life of interviews and fashion coverage, and getting access to top international fashion shows. I reached out to her. And reached out again. And after several months of not giving up, Jo Ellison answered my questions. What a coup! Now my next goal is to meet Jo in person – London? New York City? Here is a fashion insider’s look at fashion and self esteem …

What is your personal fashion story? Did you always love fashion and think of it as your destiny?

I always loved shopping, and clothes. But I wouldn’t describe myself as one of those people who always saw fashion in their destiny. I was more of an enthusiast. Fashion, to my mind, was always a bit remote and inaccessible. I have always been more interested in the broader societal impact a piece of clothing might have – what it says about us and the world we live in. Whether that’s Theresa May in a leopard print pump, or Julia Roberts winning an Oscar in vintage Valentino.

You worked at Vogue – tell us something about Vogue we don’t know.

Everyone there was far friendlier than people might believe. There seems to be a popular misconception – much mythologized by films like The Devil Wears Prada, or shows like Ugly Betty – that women working in fashion are all horrible to each other. In fact, the office at UK Vogue was one of the most encouraging, team-worky and supportive I’ve known. Continue reading

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Erdem and H&M: “Making Sure Every Detail is Perfect”

Erdem x H&M to launch November 2, 2017 – Photo: H&M

In July it was announced that designer Erdem would team with H&M to launch a capsule collection – this week, that collection is finally here. Set to launch online and in selected stores on Thursday, November 2, 2017, London-based designer Erdem Moralıoğlu says this collection is “very personal,” drawing inspiration from his memories and the English countryside: “I’ve always been fascinated by the language of femininity, whether it’s lace or flowers or the aesthetics of beauty,” says Erdem. Also known for his craftsmanship,  Erdem brings his attention to detail to this H&M collaboration: “It’s all so beautifully finished. It’s the way I approach every collection, turning it inside out and making sure that every detail is perfect.”

You know well that I enjoy shopping these designer collaborations and have found several well-loved pieces. The chance to get designer aesthetics at reasonable prices is just too enticing. This one looks like it won’t disappoint because not only is it filled with romantic detail, which I love, but there are also classic pieces that can be added to my existing wardrobe. Be aware though, that the price point for this collaboration is higher than others I have seen. I do have my eye on one piece: a romantic white lace shirt with black ribbon detail. But news that Princess Victoria of Sweden was just seen wearing it at a forum in Sweden means that it will probably make this particular piece impossible for me to obtain. I will try but we’ll see!

Erdem x H&M will feature a full wardrobe of Erdem’s feminine womenswear, an accessories line and, for the first time, a collection for men.

My piece of choice for this collaboration:: Erdem x H&M Top ($129) Photo: August Eriksson

Crown Princess Victoria in Erdem (blouse and trousers) – Photo: Getty Images

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Inspired by New York Fashion Week

Models walk the runway for the Torrid show during NYFW on Sept. 12. (Photo: Getty Images)

A model sports an embroidered denim jacket and a floral dress at the Torrid show during NYFW. (Photo: Getty Images)

A model wears a sheer black lace dress at the Torrid show during NYFW. (Photo: Getty)

Something important happened a few days ago at New York Fashion Week; it had nothing to do with “it girls” on the runway or strategically-placed in the front row. And it had nothing to do with being a part of the unattainable world of the fashion insider. Torrid, one of the largest clothing brands to cater to women who wear sizes 10-30, made its NYFW debut. Featuring 40 curvy-sized models walking the runway, Torrid came to level the playing field and represent. In an interview with Reuters, Elizabeth Munoz, head of product and design for Torrid, said: “The fashion industry can keep passing and keep saying I‘m not going to acknowledge that but there’s going to be a point where we can’t ignore the fact that most of the available population to sell to is a size that they don’t make.

The Spring 2018 collection featured the models wearing floor-length, Bohemian-inspired maxi-dresses paired with leather jackets and embroidered denim jackets with floral prints. Torrid reworked the corset trend by introducing a black leather version detailed with intricate floral embroidery styled with sheer blouses and long floral gowns. The looks were soft with a hard edge and nicely modern. This was a first step in the direction of inclusivity for New York Fashion Week. Hopefully it will start a movement that continues to change the way people think of fashion for all. But it will be even more of an achievement when this news is no longer the exception and in fact, isn’t even a big deal at all.

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Eileen Fisher’s Powerful New Fall Campaign

Some power is vast — it shapes countries and economies and affects millions of lives. But there’s an arguably equal power that’s quieter. It’s in every one of us, and we can use it in big and small ways, every day. It’s the power of compassion to protect the dignity of those in need. The ability to make someone laugh, and to find opportunity in challenges — the drive to take an idea and turn it into a new business. That’s power, too.” ~ Eileen Fisher

The EILEEN FISHER brand is launching its Fall 2017 campaign, which asks seven female community leaders what power means to them. Eileen Fisher has long been a pioneer of fashion sustainability (all her cotton and linen will be organic by 2020) as well as an advocate for women and girls, whether supporting leadership programs or joining the steering committee of New York State’s first-ever council that recognizes and represents women’s equality. Eileen Fisher wants to affect positive change and messages. Now, she gives us a lift in our dark times.

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Selena Gomez: “To Be You is to Be Strong”

Coach x Selena Gomez. Photo: @coach/Instagram

Yes, I am a Selena Gomez fan. I, like the other 123 million-plus Instagram followers, feel a connection with her.  I like her honesty and her ability to acknowledge her vulnerability and to grow from it, especially as she has picked herself up from the perils of childhood fame. Last week Coach released its new Fall 2017 campaign and Selena Gomez is front and center as its face of the campaign. In addition, Gomez has collaborated with Coach and is about to launch an exclusive limited Coach x Selena Gomez collection, offering leather goods and accessories. Among the coveted items is the Selena Grace bag, co-designed by Gomez and Coach creative director Stuart Vevers, whom Gomez reports, “was just so open at figuring out our collaboration.” The bag features a hangtag with the singer’s signature, as well as a patch fastened inside the bag declaring: “To be you is to be strong.” Also embossed on the bag is another message from Gomez: “Love yourself first. I love it!

The Coach x Selena Gomez collection will be available for pre-order online beginning on August 14th, and will hit stores on September 1st

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Diane von Furstenberg in Her Third Act

Diane von Furstenberg at 70, in her office in the Meatpacking District, NYC (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

I always used to say that life has three moments,” she says, sitting in her downtown office on a recent afternoon. “One is development, until about (age) 30. One is enjoyment, and then the third, the last season of your life, is somehow about fulfillment.” ~ Diane von Furstenberg

Designer Diane von Furstenberg is refocusing her life. Having handed over the creative reins of her fashion label to Jonathan Saunders, one of fashion’s most iconic names is turning her energies to philanthropy.  When von Furstenberg turned 70 on New Year’s Eve, she had already been asking herself,  “What kind of senior citizen do I want to be? How do I stay relevant?” – for a year. What she decided, she says, was to use her voice to focus on women from the inside, rather than the outside. “All my life was about creating a product, fashion, something (women) could use to be the woman they want to be, and now in my third act I want to use my voice to help women be the woman they want to be, but from the inside.

When I read von Furstenbergs’ memoir, The Woman I Wanted to Be, I was touched by her mother’s story and the strength (and life!) that she received from her mother. Her mother was a concentration camp survivor. She survived two concentration camps, and even though she came home weighing only 59 pounds, she gave birth the following year to her daughter, Diane. Throughout her life, her mother would tell her that God saved her so that she could give her life. I think that is why Diane von Furstenberg wants to help women find their voices and their strength. I think it is what motivates her. I want to see how she inspires women going forward, in her third act …


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The Gingham Resurgence!

My Diane von Furstenberg gingham dress

You may have noticed that gingham is making a comeback this Spring. That fresh fabric that was all over J.Crew about a decade ago is now all over Instagram as it enjoys a 2017 resurgence. It is the singular color print and the close-knit checks that make gingham distinctive and full of charm. Not just the preppy standard it was years ago, gingham of today is styled in new and unexpected ways, including shoes and other accessories. Last year, I bought my own gingham dress (Diane von Furstenberg) and what I love is that this dress can be dressed up or down. I have worn it to work, for a family brunch, and plan to wear it to a summer evening party in a few weeks. Give yourself a fresh start to Spring with this ultimate playful fabric.

Dress, Diane von Furstenberg

Photo by Alexandra

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The Queen of Cashmere

Laura Biagiotti, center, with her daughter, Lavinia Biagiotti Cigna, right, after the presentation of her collection in Milan in September 2011: Credit Daniel Dal Zennaro/European Pressphoto Agency

“Being a fashion designer is like taking vows … It becomes your religion for life.” Laura Biagiotti

Italian fashion designer, Laura Biagiotti, died last Friday in Rome at 73 years old. I didn’t know her, I didn’t know about her business, I didn’t know that her elegant fashions made from fluffy goat’s wool defined her as the global queen of cashmere. But I love her story and it touched me to read it.

Biagiotti was born in 1943, and was envisioning an independent life for herself when she enrolled at a university in Rome to study literature and archaeology. But her life changed course when she was drawn to her family’s dressmaking studio where her mother, Delia Biagiotti, designed the uniforms for Alitalia employees. In 1972, she went into business for herself and presented her own collection by introducing a relatively new material at the time: cashmere. According to the New York Times: “Her original collection was so small, Biagiotti recalled, that at her first show, models wore the same white jacket three times, with two skirts and a dress. She developed a passion for linen and also for the color white, which many mourners wore to her funeral last week.” 

A woman in a profession dominated by men, Biagiotti told an interviewer in 1981 that “a woman designer faces the same odds as a woman trying to get a job as a 747 pilot.” But she did it and by the 1980s she was making her mark. In 1988 she became the first Italian designer to put on a fashion show in China presenting dresses and blouses in silk and cashmere, and in 1995 she was the first to have a show inside the Kremlin walls in Moscow. Today, The House of Biagiotti (based on Via dei Condotti in Rome) is listed among the largest fashion houses in Italy. Her daughter, Lavinia Biagiotti Cigna, is the creative director of the business and represents the third generation of Biagiotti clothiers.




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