Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld has died at the age of 85. He was Chanel’s creative director for decades, and he was a symbol of fashion itself with his signature fingerless gloves and other bold gestures. Lagerfeld balanced the luxury brand’s tradition with the excitement of the future. NPR’s Andrew Limbong has this appreciation.
ANDREW LIMBONG, BYLINE: Karl Lagerfeld always wanted to be a grown-up. He was born in Hamburg, Germany. And he was always very cagey about telling people when, but most reports say 1933. Here’s what he said about being a kid in a 2017 CNBC interview.
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KARL LAGERFELD: I hated to be a child. That’s why I could speak English, German and French when I was 6. I never played with children. I only was sketching and reading.
LIMBONG: He took that drive to Paris, where he began working in the fashion industry as an assistant. And in 1954, he saw something that would stick with him for decades – Coco Chanel’s postwar fashion show, her first in over a decade. Here’s how Lagerfeld described it to NPR in 2005.
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LAGERFELD: I liked it because for me, it was an evocation of something I had missed – life from before World War II and all that.
LIMBONG: It was a moment that inspired him so much that he wrote and directed a short film about it in 2013 called “The Return.” It reveals how Lagerfeld presents Coco Chanel as both ambitious and frustrated, here played by Geraldine Chaplin.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “THE RETURN”)
GERALDINE CHAPLIN: (As Coco Chanel) This collection is not about fun. It’s about giving a new, modern look to fashion.
LIMBONG: Giving fashion new and modern looks is what Karl Lagerfeld was all about, says fashion historian Valerie Steele. She is the director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
VALERIE STEELE: He was like a chameleon. His style changed according to who he was designing for and when.
LIMBONG: Steele says that by the time Karl Lagerfeld became creative director for Chanel in 1983, it was in dire need of its own comeback.
STEELE: He was like an emergency doctor who applied, you know, electric shock to this corpse and suddenly brought it back to life and made it super exciting and fashionable so that instead of, you know, just a handful of leftover – old ladies wearing it, all kinds of young women suddenly thought, whoa. Chanel is cool again.
LIMBONG: Karl Lagerfeld worked relentlessly not just at Chanel, but as the creative director for Fendi, as well as his own label. Benoit Peverelli is a fashion photographer who shot for Lagerfeld for the past 10 years.
BENOIT PEVERELLI: He was very impressive in that sense that he could talk to – and I went to a sitting next to him – and at the same time, with a laser light eye, modify a silhouette by a few inches there or the shoulder or the length of a skirt.
LIMBONG: But Lagerfeld was not without controversy. For example, he recently dismissed models complaining of being groped while at work, telling them to, quote, “join a nunnery.” That said, he’s still remembered fondly by peers and colleagues – competitors, even. It was Bernard Arnault from the luxury conglomerate LVMH, which owns Louis Vuitton, who said, quote, “We loved and admired him deeply. Fashion and culture has lost a great inspiration.” Andrew Limbong, NPR News.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — NBA players once again will be sharing personal stories this weekend during All-Star festivities — and using basketball shoes as a platform to get their message out.
When Kevin Durant takes the floor on Sunday he’ll be wearing pink Nike KD 11 Aunt Pearls shoes bearing the names of 59 cancer survivors with inspiring stories.
Golden State Warriors teammate Stephen Curry decided to poke fun at his own mischievous nature with his shoe selection, unveiling the Under Armour Curry 6 “Coy Fish” colorway depicting the time he and a former college teammate found themselves in a little trouble for pulling a prank at a Japanese steakhouse.
All-Star shoe fashion may not be as big as it once was, but it’s still a real thing.
The shoes players wear are still considered as big of a deal as the All-Star game itself for a loyal niche of fans in the basketball community known as “sneakerheads” — even though the overall market for basketball shoes may not be what it was a decade ago.
Regardless, the stories behind them add meaning to the shoes.
Curry’s “Coy Fish” shoe ($130, available Friday), for instance, resembles the vibrant koi fish — and the story of when Curry and former Davidson Wildcats teammate Steve Rossiter decided to jump into the koi fish pond at a local Japanese restaurant while out celebrating one night. Curry was the decoy in the escapade, distracting the hostess while Rossiter jumped in the water and tried to grab one of the koi fish.
Unfortunately for Curry and Rossiter, the security surveillance tape captured the antics and it got back to Davidson coach Bob McKillop.
“We were in the gym running sprints for a good two hours,” Curry says on the Under Armour website.
McKillop also made the players go back to the steakhouse and stand at the front door and greet customers for four hours.
Durant’s shoe line is named after his favorite aunt, who died of lung cancer in 2000, so any new release has a personal meaning to him. The KD 11 Aunt Pearl ($150, available Thursday).
James Harden, Damian Lilllard and Kyle Lowry will be wearing Adidas All-Star Weekend “raceway inspired” shoes with checkered flags, a nod to Charlotte’s long history of auto racing. Those shoes are player edition only and aren’t available to the public, but other colorways of each sneaker are available to the public.
While the unveiling of new shoes at the NBA All-Star game is a bit like Christmas morning for some shoe collectors, one industry advisor says it isn’t likely to resonate with American consumers.
“Basketball shoes are not in fashion anymore,” said Matt Powell, of the Sports NPD Group who has been doing research in the area of shoes for more than two decades.
Powell said the trend away from basketball shoes began around 2015 and that sales have continued to slide. He said basketball shoe sales in the United States declined in “the low teens” in 2017 and in the “high single digits” last year.
He doesn’t expect the trend to change regardless of how fancy the new line of basketball shoes unveiled this weekend in Charlotte.
Still, players continue to compete off the court in a shoe market where sometimes the flashier the better. So there will be a bevy of multicolored ones on display.
Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook and Boston’s Kyrie Irving might don the most vibrant shoes.
Irving will wear red, blue, black, yellow and white Kyrie 5 X Rokit by Nike ($190, available Saturday), which combines the skate and hoop culture to showcase the crossover between the sports.
Westbrook will celebrate his eighth NBA All-Star selection with a special edition colorway of his Jordan Brand Why Not Zer0.2 shoes ($125, available Sunday) that features a bold combination of black, red, light and dark blue and lime green.
Like most of the players, Westbrook has input into the design of his shoes, saying on the Nike website that “every colorway has a meaning behind it that is special to me. … I wanted to take that storytelling to the next level with an exposed tag that helps illustrate the meaning behind the colors used.'”
In coordination with the All-Star weekend hosted by former NBA star and current Hornets owner Michael Jordan, the Jordan Brand is releasing a series of off-court footwear to honor the six-time NBA champion, who grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina, led the North Carolina Tar Heels to a national championship and became a household name with the Chicago Bulls.
One of the shoes, the Air Jordan Varsity Royal ($200, available now), celebrates Jordan’s legacy at Laney High School with a varsity royal, maize and light charcoal combination shoe.
But the most popular shoe might be the re-release of what Jordan wore in the last All-Start game played in Charlotte in 1991 — the mostly black-and-red Jordan VI Infrared ($200, available Saturday).
“We wanted to pay homage to the most important parts of MJ’s journey and you can see that come to life with new and classic takes of Air Jordans for men and women,” said David Creech, the Jordan Brand vice president of design.
Half of the 26 players selected to the All-Star game will be wearing Nike shoes.
Five will wear Jordan Brand, three will sport Adidas, two Under Armour and one each player each will represent New Balance, Anta and the Chinese apparel company Li-Ning.
Let’s talk about sex, shall we? Fashion and sex, that is. First things first: any conversation about sex needs to be an honest one, so let’s cut straight to the chase. Sex appeal will always be an integral part of fashion, even if sexy has become a less straightforward compliment after MeToo. So please, there’s no point pretending that we are too woke to care about looking hot these days. We still care. Nobody is taking vows of sartorial chastity here. But perhaps we are making some progress in how we think about sex and fashion if we are more conscious of whose rules are being played by, and whose needs are being met. As long as the survival of the human race depends on sex, looking attractive isn’t going out of fashion. But there is room for evolution.
It is Valentine’s weekend, and dressing for date night is the hot spot where the rules of attraction meet the rules of social convention. Which means that some Valentine looks might just be a little different this year, in the MeToo afterglow. The neckline might be altered, or the skirt might be a new length. Or maybe the clothes are the same but you might wear different underwear or decide against the high court shoes with toe cleavage, and look – and feel – different as a result. The way we dress for date night through the years reveals so much about our changing attitudes to sex. Braless under a silk blouse in the midst of the sexual emancipation of the early 70s. Spike-heeled and armoured in sequins in the competitively charged, battle-of-the-boardroom 80s. Unravelled and lipstick-smudged in the fog of 90s grunge when a Saturday night was more about getting high than getting laid.
It is 18 months – three seasons, in fashion terms – since the MeToo movement was born. In that time, fashion’s centre of gravity has shifted away from sex. Hemlines are longer, silhouettes are looser. From London to Milan to Paris to New York, on glitzy spotlit runways polished to a mirror shine and on catwalks marked out with tape on concrete floors, a new course is being set. From Stella McCartney to Erdem, Coach to Loewe, Dior to Max Mara, there are skirts that swish the ankle and sleeves that graze the fingertips. Fashion has shifted the emphasis from skin to fabric. As a sweeping generalisation, there are more sweeping hemlines. Gucci, the runaway fashion success story of this decade, peoples its catwalks and advertising campaigns with women who would appear to be dressed in a way that might work for a portrait sitting with Leonardo da Vinci rather than for one with Helmut Newton.
Roland Mouret, a fashion icon for two decades, has recently gravitated away from the siren curves of his Galaxy dress, revisiting the pleats and cascades he learned while working with Yohji Yamamoto and Issey Miyake in his 20s. At his spring/summer 19 show, models wore badges in support of the MeToo movement and catwalked on the roof of the National Theatre to the sound of Aretha Franklin singing Natural Woman. Mouret said at the time that the new silhouette felt like a redefinition of his relationship with the female body. In the second half of her decade in fashion, Victoria Beckham, too, has pivoted firmly away from fitted dresses and toward loose, fluid separates. Such silhouettes – once the hallmark of alternative, arthouse fashion – have become mainstream. Vanessa Spence, design director at Asos, confirms the shift is happening on the high street. “The midi length has become a staple in our fashion vocabulary. Necklines still vary, but we have recently seen more of a focus on the back as an exposed area.” Sexy, she says, is no longer a concept that takes up more bandwidth in womenswear than men’s. “It’s the same across the sexes – which is surely a good thing.”
There will always be cross-pollination between sex and fashion, but MeToo has prompted a conversation about healthy boundaries around nudity and exposure. Changing facilities backstage at fashion shows are one issue being brought into the spotlight. It was long considered perfectly normal for an assortment of well-wishers, journalists, celebrities, friends of the designer – most, of course, with a camera phone in their pocket – to crowd immediately after a show into the open-plan backstage area where models were scrambling out of their show looks and into their own clothes. A year ago, New York fashion week was the first to address this, pledging “a safe and respectful working environment” with private changing areas. During London fashion week last September, the British model Edie Campbell spoke to Radio 4 about the ongoing lack of privacy at some London shows, describing it as “bizarre, uncomfortable and humiliating”. Awareness is growing that an expectation of endless female nudity is not a healthy baseline for any industry.
The meteoric impact of MeToo on what it means to dress up and look your best became clear a year ago, when the Golden Globes was the first red carpet to turn black. It was a gesture of female solidarity from Hollywood’s women, in an industry reeling in the Weinstein fallout. A black dress for black tie is hardly revolutionary, yet the dresses became the story of the night. The winners’ list is now a distant memory, but the red carpet blackout remains a landmark moment. The world was reminded of the power of an outfit – even one that stays within the guardrails of convention – to send a powerful message. Natalie Portman, Elisabeth Moss, Meryl Streep, Angelina Jolie, Penélope Cruz and Salma Hayek wore long black gowns with long sleeves. In each case, the dress had a decorative element that lightened the mood – a sheer layer, a split in the skirt or a portrait neckline. Many actresses left husbands and boyfriends at home to pair up with female activists for the night, which threw into sharp relief the traditional award show optics that see an actress nominated for an Oscar totter in a tiny, pastel-toned frock on the arm of a man in a suit, as if she were a magician’s assistant about to be put in a box and sawn in half.
But if the first half of 2018 belonged to a swelling tide of demure black-tie dressing, the second half was dominated by an angry backlash against catwalk near-nudity. The exit of Phoebe Philo from Céline after 10 years had been felt as a body blow by women who had held dear her philosophy that catwalk fashion could be an elevated woman-friendly wardrobe rather than date-bait. It was with unfortunate timing that her successor, Hedi Slimane, unveiled a debut dominated by doll-sized party dresses – one that seemed the polar opposite of what the house had stood for under Philo – on the very day of the Brett Kavanaugh sexual misconduct hearings in Washington last September. Emotions were running high, and Slimane’s dolly-drop aesthetic became a lightning rod for female fury.
Male designers mansplaining female sexuality to the women who buy their clothes is not new. But the context has changed, and in fashion, context is all. Engagement with the world is what makes fashion more than simply clothes. It is, quite literally, what makes it fashion. Two months after Slimane’s show, the Victoria’s Secret models came bounding down their runway, with the tried-and-tested formula of bouncy breasts and jutting hipbones, angel wings and skimpy boudoir lace knickers which made this the most popular fashion show in the world just a few years ago. This time the spectacle was met with critical scorn (website Vox ran a feature with the headline The Stubborn Irrelevance Of The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show), falling ratings and – most tellingly – declining sales.
London fashion week has never been afraid of controversy. While other cities have reacted to the new climate by shying away from the idea of sex altogether, designers Christopher Kane and Michael Halpern are among those tackling the new rules of sexy dressing head-on, and reaching for a new body-positive, female-first way to talk about sex on the catwalk.
A frank curiosity about sex has always been part of Kane’s aesthetic – his spring 2014 season featured sweaters embroidered with illustrations of the reproductive organs of flowers – and in February last year, he waded into the MeToo debate with a collection adorned with drawings and quotes from the seminal 70s manual The Joy Of Sex. Six months later, he was back with a spring 2019 collection soundtracked by a David Attenborough narration about sexual behaviour in animals and Marilyn Monroe talking about how society defined her as a sex object and then despised her because of it. “There are no taboos in my studio,” Kane said after that show. “To be bluntly honest,” he told Vogue at the time, “we wear clothes to attract members of the opposite sex and of our own sex. That’s what fashion is.” Meanwhile Halpern, who burst on to the fashion scene in 2017 with sequin dresses so minuscule they might have turned heads at Studio 54, says he relies “super heavily” on the opinions of his mum and sister, “who are both feminists – of course. My focus is on being aware and awake to what women want.”
Penny Martin was almost a decade ahead of this shift when she launched The Gentlewoman magazine back in 2010. “It was the zenith of the weeklies, when the newsstand was crammed with reality TV celebrities with barely any clothes and shouty coverlines,” she recalls. “Our mission was to be the opposite of that – to give both the cover stars and the readers back their dignity.” The Gentlewoman came to be aligned with a particular kind of woman-friendly fashion, epitomised by what Phoebe Philo was doing at Céline. “Women want clothes that give them pleasure, without undermining them,” Martin says. “And I wouldn’t be in this business if I didn’t think providing women with the tools they deserve to get respect in both their working and private lives wasn’t a worthwhile ambition.”
Although certain sections of the media would love to frame this debate as a catfight, there is little appetite in the fashion industry for slut-shaming of women who choose to wear tiny, revealing dresses. (To paraphrase Voltaire: I may not like what you wear, but I will defend to the death your right to wear it.) What we wear for date night is part and parcel of sexual politics, but surely there is room for making the point that a woman’s erotic impact is not all that she is, without policing anyone’s wardrobe. “My take on it, as editor of Elle,” says Anne-Marie Curtis, “is that a modern woman wants the freedom to look sexy when she wants to. But that fashion can’t be about having to wear a pencil skirt to get a promotion, or having to wear a low-cut dress to make your boyfriend happy.
Every single image that goes into Elle goes through our modern, feminist lens. If I am looking at a shoot and there’s a pose that I feel makes the model look vulnerable, I won’t run that picture. We just did an edit of a shoot and there were images that I took out, because I always want the woman to look like she is owning the image.”
But unlike a longer hemline, fashion’s stronger attitude cannot be measured in inches or plotted on a graph. “It comes down to intention,” Halpern says. “What makes my friends and the women in my family feel empowered is self-worth, self-definition. It’s about not letting someone else put you in a box.”
For generations, teenage girls’ teachers have used the does-it-touch-the-floor-when-you-kneel test to establish the minxiness of a skirt. But calibrations of sex appeal are more complex. A pose in which a model is lying on a sofa can project laid-back confidence or exposed vulnerability, and the overall effect depends not only on the clothes but on the lighting, the facial expression. The same minidress can be framed as a celebratory portrait of raw female power, or an exploitative image of a woman underdressed and undefended. The highly visually literate modern fashion consumer is attuned to such subtleties, which is precisely why the dog-whistle crassness of Victoria’s Secret feels so out of step with our times. “The readers of women’s magazines, and of fashion photographs, are so literate,” Martin says. “An infinitesimal degree of ‘wrong’ can be vast in this context, instantly breaking the spell.”
Sex as something unspoken, as a scent caught on the air, is part of fashion’s magic spell. When the zeitgeist is embracing a new era of informed consent, the sheer-black-stocking vibe of fashion’s traditional date-night mode can feel like an uncomfortable hangover from another era. A new dress may not change the world. But it could make date night a triumph. The rules are up to you.
Fact: Defining your personal sense of style is tricky. That’s precisely why it’s so important to have fashion role models to look to for inspiration.
Enter the impossible-to-ignore: Mabel “Madea” Simmons, who we were lucky enough to catch up with after her runway debut. “My style is a mix of vintage and modern chic. Ya girl is always dressed to impress, and wearing something that still allows me to drop it like it’s hot,” shares the star. We’re not saying you have to carbon copy her exact look, but you can (and should) take notes.
So go on, take what you will and make it your own. And when in doubt remember that fashion is supposed to be fun, honey!
Rule 1: Comfort Is Key
Fashion is about looking good, but if you can’t move around your day comfortably, there’s no point. Luckily, Madea agrees. “If Madea loves one thing honey you know it’s a muumuu. Yard work, church, the CLUB—I’m gonna be well-ventilated.”
Rule 2: Invest in a Power Suit
“When Madea walks into a room, you know I’ve arrived.” That’s the kind of vibe you’re going for, and you’re not going to make it happen without a power suit in your wardrobe. “For all my dressy and special occasion needs, I look no further than my fabulousness skirt suit. This baby was made for me and all my curves, y’all.”
Rule 3: Have a Signature Jewelry Piece
“Haven’t ya heard? A lady never leaves home without her pearls! Y’all already know I’m as classy as it gets, but these shiny beads add an effortless elegance to my everyday and special occasion looks—and my family has tons of those, so these ensure Madea always comes prepared.” OK, so it may not be pearls for you, but it’s really to your benefit to nail down a signature jewelry look that’ll elevate your image.
Rule 4: Patterns Are Your Friend
This season, leave your boring neutrals at home. Owning your fashion identity is all about pushing boundaries with fun prints and patterns. “Who is Madea without her floral muumuus? My dresses are loud, they please the crowd and they’ve all got it going on. I dress to please the Lord, y’all.”
Rule 5: Try New Trends
Figuring out your signature style is a wonderful feeling, but it can also become stale if you don’t mix it up and rotate in some new trends here and there. Need a recommendation? “I see all these women turning up the heat and working them puff-sleeve dresses into their wardrobe. It’s about damn time they caught up to Madea Mabel Simmons!”
The East Gippsland home of a late fashion designer whose daring design shocked the White House will be restored to its former glory following its sale.
A Melbourne couple snapped up Victoria Cascajo’s six-bedroom, four-bathroom house at 105 Mathiesons Rd, Eagle Point for an undisclosed price after being wowed by its “magical location”, Elders Real Estate Bairnsdale’s Adam Bloem said.
The 2.5ha property overlooking the Gippsland Lakes, named Riverside, most recently had a $1.4-$1.6 million price guide.
Cascajo designed this daring white dress, worn by Sonia McMahon at a White House dinner hosted by US president Richard Nixon. She accompanied husband William McMahon, then-Australian PM.Source:Supplied
Cascajo ran the popular Balencia Couture in Toorak.Source:News Limited
Mr Bloem said the buyers had started a business in East Gippsland and would be moving to the area over the coming months, with plans to rejuvenate the house and its vast gardens.
“They’re looking forward to enjoying this magic location and the surrounding Gippsland Lakes, rivers, beaches and mountains,” he said.
Cascajo owned the property from 2014. She died in 2017.
105 Mathiesons Rd offered striking lake views over a 25m infinity pool.Source:Supplied
Inside the Mediterranean-inspired house.Source:Supplied
Her most famous creation was a bold white dress prime minister William McMahon’s wife Sonia wore to a White House state dinner hosted by US president Richard Nixon in 1971.
The full-length gown — with side splits on the bodice and arms, held together by rhinestone bands, and to the upper thigh — was dubbed one of the “most talked-about costumes yet to appear in the White House” by The Washington Post.
The Spanish-born designer also dressed socialites, models and Melbourne Cup attendees from her Toorak-based Balencia Couture, becoming a Stonnington Fashion Hall of Fame inductee.
The entertainer’s kitchen.Source:Supplied
The property was most recently priced at $1.4-$1.6 million.Source:Supplied
Her property features a Mediterranean-inspired house with a wraparound veranda, informal and formal living rooms, a large kitchen with a butler’s pantry, a wine cellar and lake views from almost every room.
A 25m infinity pool, self-contained cottage, orchard and vegetable garden were also part of the package.
Edwina Forest and Adrian Norris, the co-founders of Australian fashion label Aje, have undeniably cemented their brand as one to watch. Worn by the likes of Alessandra Ambrosio, Shay Mitchell and Isabel Lucas, Aje has become a go-to for universally flattering and feminine silhouettes that transcend seasonal fads and fleeting trends.
As such, it comes as no surprise that Aje has been selected to open Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia 2019 with the presentation of its resort 2020 collection. Following in the footsteps of fellow ‘Mercedes Benz Presents’ designers Camilla & Marc (2018), Dion Lee (2017) and Toni Maticevski (2016), the label will kick off the week-long festivities on May 12 at a yet-to-be-disclosed location.
Proud to be embarking on the label’s second decade by headlining Australian fashion week, Norris said that the honour is “a statement of recognition for our brand, but also for our loyal clients, many of whom have been with us for 11 years, and who continue to grow along this journey with us.”
“We always seek to offer them something truly unique,” he added. “And we look forward to making this a milestone moment with them in mind.”
Speaking with Vogue, Forest teased the highly-anticipated resort collection, explaining that the label will continue to “further acknowledge and celebrate the duality inside us all and to salute the diversity and contrast within this extraordinary land we call home.”
“With this opportunity we want to really connect with hearts and tell our story in the most powerful way yet,” said Norris, who went on to reveal that the collection was in part inspired by the rawness of the Australian coastline.
When quizzed on where the future of the label lies, the co-founders and creatives shared that they intend for 2019 to be somewhat of a turning point for Aje, with the brand looking to make a concerted effort to “reach out and touch the hearts of like-minded women, at home and around the world.”
Crediting their success to their considered and strategic approach, together with their ability to never look back, it’s easy to see how Aje has managed to reach the milestone that is opening MBFWA in just 11 short years.