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April 18, 2016

Fashion Cities Africa gives a snapshot of four cities on a varied, rich continent

Jack Yan/3.51

The second largest continent on the planet is, logically, home to a massive number of fashion designers and movements, although out of Africa, there hasn’t been as much recognition of them till recently. Fashion Cities Africa, the book, inspired by the exhibition of the same name at the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery that opens at the end of April, is one high-profile development which seeks to shine a light on the variety present on the continent, while on a similar note, next month’s Africa Fashion Festival in Wellington will do the same for its designers.
   Hannah Azieb Pool, who edits the new book, is a Eritrean-born, London-based journalist, who, along with Helen Jennings, has co-writing duties, resulting in a cohesive, beautifully presented book that examines contemporary fashion in Nairobi, Casablanca, Lagos and Johannesburg. It doesn’t pretend to be a fully comprehensive guide, stating from the outset it is meant to provide mere glimpses on a continent that is incredibly diverse. The foreword by Binyavanga Wainaina, a flâneur, reminds us that there are clusters scattered throughout the land that have their own tendencies, and that her favourite designer is Nigerian, Chioma Chukwulozie.
   The reader is thrown in to the colour of Nairobi, where sibling bloggers Velma Rossa and Papa Petit (a.k.a. Oliver) take one half of the first spread with their über-stylish and proudly urban Kenyan clothes, and stylists, musicians, designers, bloggers and artists profiled on following pages give slices of their lives that shake occidental sensibilities with their own palettes and ensembles. Nairobi, for the most part, emphasizes comfort, and the clothing shot on these pages by Sarah Marie Waiswa demonstrate that the city’s fashion could easily translate to other places, spanning everything from casual to luxury. Adèle Dejak has shown in Milano, for instance, and appeared in Vogue Italia with her collaboration with Salvatore Ferragamo, while John Kaveke and Nick Ondu show the sort of sartorial elegance that could easily influence menswear in other fashion capitals.
   Profiles of some of the personalities from the city follow, reminding us that Nairobi is a crossroads: Ami Doshi Shah is of Indian descent, her family brought there by the British when both countries were under Crown rule, while Ann McCreath is a Scots émigrée who fell in love with the fashion there. There’s a dose of youthful energy, too, with Anthony Mulli, a jewellery designer who started when he was 16, pointing the way forward.
   The book follows a similar structure for subsequent cities, moving on to Casablanca next.
   Lucire readers will be familiar with Morocco thanks to travel editor Stanley Moss’s writings, and Jennings’ chapter, with photographs by Deborah Benzaquen, takes us on a similar journey through the country’s largest city. It was, of course, a home for Yves Saint Laurent at one point, as well as a drawcard for many western celebrities, when a first wave of Moroccan designers became known outside of the region. A second wave, Jennings explains, emerged in the 1980s and 1990s, with Zineb Joundy a graduate of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. A greater sense of artistic freedom and Casablanca’s position that blends Arabic, European and indigenous cultures has resulted in some looks that may seem familiar—perhaps thanks to the likes of Saint Laurent and his influence. Again the profiles are well selected, a cross-section of the highly varied cultures in the city: Amine Bendriouich, Amina Agueznay, Yassine Morabite, Saïd Mahrouf, and Zhor, Chadia and Aida Raïs each cover a very different parts of the fashion spectrum, from T-shirts to traditional caftans.
   Once the book gets to Lagos, it’s apparent that there’s a sense of “bubbling under”, with Lakin Ogunbanwo’s photographs, paired with Jennings’ words again, showing slightly more subdued looks for men, but prouder, more flamboyant looks for women. Jennings notes that civil war and Nigeria’s military juntas stalled its fashion scene for some years, before a revival when democracy returned in 1999. Foreign labels were seen as cool till recently, with the country discovering its confidence in its own æsthetic, to the point where one of her interviewees, stylist Bolaji Anumashaun, says that fashion can be one of Nigeria’s ‘greatest exports’. Anumashaun founded thestylehq.com with a pan-African fashion focus, and Arise magazine, founded in 2008, also stepped up the promotion for Nigerian designers. With Nigeria’s GDP now greater than South Africa’s, that confidence is bound to increase, and Jennings looks at Nike Davis Okundaye, who owns the biggest gallery in West Africa in Lagos, and happy to promote young talent. Others, such as Yegwa Ukpo and Amaka Osakwe, both were schooled in the UK before returning to Lagos to found their brands, while PR consultant Zara Okpara and luxury concept store owner Reni Folawiyo complete their city’s picture.
   Johannesburg completes Fashion Cities Africa, and it’s perhaps fair that Pool chose to put it last. Many mistakenly think of South African fashion when they refer to ‘African fashion’, spurred in part by the Republic’s sporting ties to many other countries in the Commonwealth. Victor Dlamini has the photographic duties here, and Pool pens the words, and she goes through the various Jo’burg neighbourhoods, noting that its fashion is more established than Nairobi’s but less self-conscious than Lagos’s. There is a western infusion here in some parts, she notes, but on closer examination there are accessories that reference Soweto streets or Zulu culture. The city even has two fashion weeks: South Africa Fashion Week and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Joburg, making the city spoiled for choice when it comes to giving its designers a platform. David Tlale, whom Lucire readers will have heard of, and who has shown at New York Fashion Week, hails from here, and Jo’burg designs have a greater sense of familiarity thanks to western media exposure. It oozes colour and vibrancy, much like the photos chosen for Pool’s first chapter on Nairobi, and in similar fashion (pun unintended) there are profiles from across the spectrum: designer Thula Sindi, creative collective, the Sartists, accessories’ and shoe designer Maria McCloy, and womenswear designers Marianne Fassler and Anisa Mpungwe.
   It’s our hope that we can cease talking about ‘African’ fashion and instead replace the dialogue with specific cities or countries, just as we do for smaller continents such as Europe. Just as there is no such thing to fashion observers as ‘European’ fashion, there is equally no such thing as ‘African’ fashion: it is impossible to generalize at a continental level. Both as an informative volume and a coffee-table flick-through (as it is softcover), Fashion Cities Africa succeeds, and it’s exceptionally good value with full-colour photographs (needed for its story, over 196 pp.) at £20 (available via Amazon UK here, or Book Depository here) or US$28·50, (Amazon link here). It is published this month by Intellect Books, as part of its Street Styles series.—Jack Yan, Publisher

May 19, 2015

News in brief: Taylor Swift’s Tiger ring; Otis College’s 33rd fashion show; Swiss retails limited-edition Partime watch

Lola Cristall/14.03


Jason Merritt

One of our favourite items from Carrera y Carrera, the Tiger ring, appeared on the finger of Taylor Swift at the Billboard Music Awards at the weekend. The Madrid-based jewellery company noted that Swift, presenting her new music video for ‘Bad Blood’, wore the ring in white gold, smoky quartz and diamonds from the Bestiario collection with her white cut-out jumpsuit. Madonna, Jennifer López, and Olivia Palermo have chosen the Tiger ring in the past.
   Otis College of Art and Design’s 33rd annual Scholarship Benefit and Fashion Show at the Beverly Hilton Hotel was a lavish escape, revolving around the theme, A Celebration of Water. This year’s honorees include Carlos Alberini, the chief executive of Lucky Brand, designer Trina Turk, and Gary Schoenfeld, the president and CEO of PacSun. Mentors included: Bob Mackie, Trina Turk, Zaid Affas, Joe McCarty for Lane Bryant, Liliana Casabal for Morgane Le Fay, Mary Jo Bruno, Anne Cole, Isobella & Chloe, Heather Brown for PacSun, Ryan Keenan for Quiksilver, Alan Hardy for DC, Kesha Pomeroy for Roxy, and Urban Outfitters. Year after year, the event reflects the students’ hard work and approach to the fashion industry while being guided by a number of professional designers. Student Jessica Choi was recognized as Designer of the Year. Guests gathered to watch 100 ensembles take centre-stage.
   Finally, Swiss International Airlines is retailing a special Partime watch from June as part of its duty-free range this summer. Available only on board Swiss flights, the Partime watch is a limited edition, joining the 11 other models already offered. The complete collection will also be shown at the China Watch & Clock Fair in Shenzhen from June 25 to 28. (A video of the Partime’s movement can be seen at the bottom of this article.)—Lola Cristall, Paris editor, and Lucire staff





















Kai He; courtesy Otis College of Art and Design

December 11, 2014

Unbridled creativity at Raffles College of Design’s Perspective graduate show

Lucire staff/13.36

The 2014 graduate show from the Raffles College of Design and Commerce, titled Perspective, took place in the big top of the iconic Luna Park in Sydney on December 9.
   The location could not have been more idyllic, and the weather, which has been very stormy of late, held, allowing all guests and designers to make their way to the show.
   It is almost impossible to make comment about all 30 graduates but having an eye for trend, I can say that there was a yearning felt through a sizeable portion of the work presented to embrace all things Mother Nature, in all her textures and colours: escapism, easier living, freedom and expressionism. There were 30 capsule collections consisting of six looks each.
   The show was opened by Queency Yustiawan, inspired by the work of Russian painter Kazimir Malevich. A dramatic black-and-white dress coat was the pièce de résistance and reminded me of a bicolour paper plane. I was impressed with the tailoring of the piece.

Below Queency Yustiawan.


   Good tailoring has been spotted across much of the collections showed, which speaks volumes about the college they are graduating from. What I thought was a dying skill, cherished by very few nowadays, has hope.
   My total stand-out was the capsule by Ashleigh Kwong, which displayed pared-back elegance, fresh and interesting prints and shapes, and wearability. There was a little white trapeze dress with a blue print that I would happily wear any time.

Below The stand-out for Lucire’s Viviana Pannell was the capsule collection by Ashleigh Kwong.


   In the glamour department, Shannon Gambino was a shining star, and so was Tiana Ha Phuong Thao Van, with her royal blue obsession. Her inspiration reminded me slightly of Toni Maticevski and my favourite piece was a little single-shoulder cocktail dress featuring delicate, layered ruffles. Also notable in this department was Lily Purkiss, who presented a capsule of delicate sheers covering shorter layers: utter purity and elegance. Hailing all the way from Italy, Daniela Monica Da Rui presented a capsule inspired by German expressionism, femmes fatales and film noir. She captured her brief very well as one of the pieces, an elegant black dress appliquéd with sculptural black twigs, made me think of a fairy tale with the iconic Marlene Dietrich playing the lead. Christine Milanja, with her elegant and demurely sexy capsule, also deserves a mention.

Below Shannon Gambino.


Below A royal blue obsession from Tiana Ha Phuong Thao Van.
Below Lily Purkiss.
Below Italian designer, Daniela Monica da Rui.
Below Christine Milanja.
   High on wearability were Molly Ya Jung Wu with her pared-down capsule exhibiting very interesting cuts. Rishella Lisha Liang presented a capsule of more wearable menswear and resort-like womenswear featuring appliqués.
   The best menswear, to my mind, was presented by Noal Yam Gurung. Xtra Senquan Ruan presented an interesting combination of interlocking shapes and draping.

Below Molly Ya Jung Wu.


Below Rishella Lisha Liang, featuring wearable menswear.
Below Noal Yam Gurung created the best menswear of the show.
Below Xtra Senquan Ruan.
   It was a beautiful show and I expect to see much more from these graduates. I just love to see unbridled creativity not yet contaminated by commercial realities and the utter need to push prices down in today’s world. Good things are worth paying a nice sum for and are treasured forever. Some of what I saw could be produced and placed into stores tomorrow.

Filed under: fashion, Lucire, tendances, trend
November 26, 2013

Sean Kelly, Lucilla Gray, Soontariya Utto stand out among Massey’s 2013 graduates

Anna Deans/5.16

Through a sea of black-and-white and sheer chiffon came three stand-outs at the 2013 Massey graduate show, Launch. Sean Kelly’s desert-island-themed collection really stood out, as did the closing designers, Lucilla Gray and her crisp neoprene collection, and Soontariya Utto, with her refined, elegant gowns.



Matthew Beveridge/Matthew Beveridge Photography

   Kelly’s collection, inspired by an island, consisted of layered, tailored menswear in linen-looking khaki-greens and whites. This collection combines exceptional new ideas and design lines with impeccable tailoring. Quirky accessories also featured, such as a fishing-net backpack. Thick, brown leather hats, sandals and other leather items were specifically made for the collection to immaculate standards. Emphasizing impact and wearability through clever styling, Kelly has really hit the nail on the head here.




Matthew Beveridge/Matthew Beveridge Photography

   Gray’s collection created similar impact but for completely different reasons. The colour palette of fresh electric blue mixed with fluro-pink and the whitest white stood out from the dull colours of some other collections. Structured elements were innovatively moulded from neoprene to create out-of-this-world curved shapes where printed chiffon overlays bikini-like undergarments. This fresh collection really caught my eye for all the right reasons. We especially loved the curved, structural sleeve shapes and the tactile print in the white neoprene jacket. Lucille’s collection reminds me of a different take on Nicolas Ghesquière’s use of neoprene at Balenciaga and the Australian designers’ obsession. Perhaps this is the New Zealand response to the comeback of neoprene, which is no longer restricted to the un-shapely wetsuit.


Matthew Beveridge/Matthew Beveridge Photography

   From the opening outfit of Utto’s collection, there was something special in the making. The precision cutting and the exceptional tailoring to the couture-like nature of her garments all spoke of a refined elegance, which can so often be lost in ready-to-wear clothes. For someone so young, her taste level far exceeds her years. The moulded hips of her ball gowns matched her jewellery, which was made by hand, bringing a tactile old-world feel. The collection was sewn by hand, bringing it to life. Although crafted all in black, it was still evident that a lot of attention to detail had gone into this collection, from the pin-tucking on the structure corsets and bodices, to the cut of detailing and ostrich feather plumage that appeared on collars and peplums. This was a collection made for the red carpet and was a true show-stopper.—Anna Deans and Sopheak Seng, Fashion Editor

September 9, 2012

New York Fashion Week spring–summer 2013: Nicholas K. kicks off the week

Lucire staff/12.17



Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

It’s the best way to kick off the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and this season did not disappoint with the brother–sister design duo of Nicholas K. delivering their signature style of layered, ready-to-wear to an appreciative, fashion-ready crowd. Backstage, models prepared for the first show of the official calendar with Haven for Essie nails and natural yet striking make-up from Janell Geason for Aveda.
   There was not a spare seat in the house as Bryan Boy and Elle US’s Joe Zee entered to join the loyal crowd of Nicholas K converts ready to kick off another season of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.
   Aside from the khaki and black colour palette—signature shades for Nicholas K—this season the designers showcased stunning burnt orange and lavender to add splashes of spring to the collection. Tailored, wide-leg pants and floating outerwear creating the distinctive Nicholas K look. Styled by Wendy Schecter, it built upon the best of last spring–summer while adding a new dimension to the brand’s æsthetic.
   Unbeknown to many, the brand styled its womenswear with Nicholas K jewellery and footwear, a relatively new addition to the collection, something we are very excited about. When you’re a fan of this brand it’s nice to know you can go head-to-toe.—Angela Gilltrap, Associate Editor

Watch our day one videos here.

July 21, 2012

Heidi Klum talks about the struggle to get Project Runway started as it débuts its 10th season

Lucire staff/7.13


Above Heidi Klum in a publicity shot for the new season of Project Runway.

Heidi Klum has reached a milestone for her TV show Project Runway: its 10th season. To promote it, she was at Times Square on Thursday commenting the struggles starting the series.
   ‘I’m extra proud. It’s like one of my babies being born and being out there for so many years already now. … Figuring something out, trying to sell something, I ran all over town to explain what this show could be all about, that people might love watching talented designers at work,’ said the 39-year-old model and businesswoman.
   ‘A lot of people turned us away and they said, “Why would we want to watch that?” We were really passionate about it and then finally we did find a network that put us on the air and then we got started.
   ‘Then we started filming and I didn’t have a stylist in the beginning, [and I asked,] “How am I going to look really stylish?” This is a show about fashion. So I started calling friends and asking, “Can I borrow this? Can I borrow that?” A lot of designer friends and Michael [Kors], of course, helped me out.
   ‘I couldn’t do a show on jeans and T-shirts and things that I wore a long time ago when I didn’t have that kind of a closet so we made do. So as Tim [Gunn] always says, “I made it work”—we all made it work.’
   The latest season premièred Thursday at 9 p.m. EDT on Lifetime.

June 7, 2012

Missoni and Lindex collaborate on the fight against breast cancer

Samantha O’Reilly/23.26


Above Angela and Margherita Missoni.

Italian house Missoni has teamed up with the European fashion chain Lindex—part of the Finnish Stockmann group—to support breast cancer research.
   The collaboration has resulted in a collection consisting of 70 fashion items, of womenswear, lingerie, accessories and childrenswear. Ten per cent of the sales price goes to the fight against breast cancer, which Lindex has supported for the last 10 years.
   Missoni is famous for its iconic designs and use of colour. Founded in 1953, it has been led by generations of women from the Missoni family.
   ‘The collaboration with Lindex has given us a unique opportunity to bring affordable design to every woman, and at the same time to give something back, through creating worldwide awareness for breast cancer. We are impressed by Lindex’s long–term commitment to breast cancer research, which the company has supported for many years. I believe that all individuals and organizations deserve recognition for the dedication and effort they input into the fight against breast cancer,’ says Angela Missoni.
   The collection will be released on September 25, and will be sold in all Lindex stores in the Nordic countries, Central Europe and online at www.lindex.com.—Samantha O’Reilly

May 3, 2012

H&M announces accessories’ collaboration with Anna Dello Russo

Lucire staff/7.59

H&M by Anna dello Russo
H&M by Anna dello Russo
Magnus Magnusson

Top Designs from the Anna Dello Russo at H&M collection. Above Anna Dello Russo and H&M’s Margareta van den Bosch.

In the spirit of having famous designers collaborate on mass-market fashion, H&M has said that it will now work with fashion director Anna Dello Russo on a new accessories’ collection.
   The new collection will hit 140 H&M retail stores worldwide, and online, on October 4. It will feature jewellery, sunglasses, shoes, bags and even a trolley, says the company.
   Milano-based Dello Russo is perhaps best known as former fashion editor of Vogue Italia, former editor-in-chief of L’Uomo Vogue, and fashion director-at-large for Vogue Japan.
   ‘I am excited by this collaboration: this is the first time H&M involves a fashion director in a special project. This is the sign of an important evolution in fashion, and I am both thrilled and humbled to be the one chosen to lead it. I wanted to create precious accessories that are impossible to find. As a stylist, I know accessorization [sic] is essential: it is the personal touch to any outfit. With these pieces everybody can have fun, turning an ordinary day into a fantastic fashion day,’ says Dello Russo in a release.
   ‘It’s been extremely exciting to involve Anna Dello Russo in this project, something completely different from what we have done before. Anna has a fantastic eye and a strong taste, apart from being a veritable fashion icon. She produced an extravagant range of accessories that will get H&M customers and everyone in love with fashion excited. The collection is a celebration of excess, fantasy and decoration,’ says Margareta van den Bosch, creative adviser at H&M.

H&M by Anna dello Russo
Magnus Magnusson

Filed under: fashion, Lucire, Milano, Sweden, trend
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