January 31, 2009

Best New US Designers: GQ Picks 2009

The verdict is out! At the second annual “Best New Menswear Designers in America, GQ has selected this year's 6 finalists, and no two are alike. The winner of this year's competition went to Robert Geller!

Robert Geller was born 1976 in Hamburg, Germany and trained at the Rhode Island School of Design. Robert drew his inspiration for his winning collection by researching Prague of the 20's and 30's and combining the concepts of masculinity with sensitivity and romance with strength.

André Lauren Benjamin, aka André 3000 in the hip hop duo OutKast, is a 33-year-old Afro-American from Atlanta, Georgia. As a man of many aliases, careers, and talents, André looks to old-time sports uniforms, preppy styles, and hip hop for his inspiration.

When Alex Carleton launched Rogues Gallery in Portland, Maine, he envisioned the pre-colonial times of New England's seafaring past. His collections vividly embody the ruggedness, adventure, and toughness of Maine's historic cod fishermen, lobster trappers, and loggers.

David Mullen of Save Khaki believes that men's clothing should strive to be "comfortable with a modern fit" and, if it happens, stylish. David is a true utilitarian at heart!

Sam Shipley and Jeff Halmos of Shipley & Halmos are two Californian friends that launched their first fashion line in their senior year of college. Now at age 29, they love to dream up fanciful tales to accompany their new collections. Their menswear lines are unique in that they are targeted at guy's who know how to embrace their guy-ness!

Yigal Azrouël, the youngest of eight children, was born and raised in Israel and is of French-Moroccan descent. Yigal is a free-spirited designer who draws his inspiration from everything around him: art, nature, architecture, and culture.

So just how creative and talented are these GQ 2009 winners? Well, you be the judge! Slide show by men.style.com.

Photo Yigal Azrael s/s 2009 collection by Imaxtree Copyright NYmag.com.

January 27, 2009

Happy Chinese New Year!

Most people equate Chinese fashion with the manufacturing and production industry or copies of European design, at best. What often goes unnoticed, however, is China's booming fashion industry. In celebration of the Chinese New Year this week, I would like to feature Chinese fashion.

Styles have definitely changed since the 80's when I lived and worked in rural China. Although many Chinese were experimenting with colors and patterns, the Mao suit was still a common attire among the masses. In the 1990's, unlike other countries, the Chinese government began promoting young designers by organizing various fashion events.

One of the most prominent Chinese designers to have emerged is 46-year-old Ji Wenbo, who is known for his Li Lang menswear brand. Ji Wenbo is a forerunner in Chinese fashion. He was the first Chinese designer to debut in both Tokyo and Milan Fashion Weeks, a milestone in Chinese fashion history.

What makes Ji Wenbo so unique is how he draws his inspiration from the unearthed Terracotta soldiers of Xian and blends them with the Beijing Opera and traditional Chinese folk culture.

Ji Wenbo, congratulations and Happy New Year!

Photo Ji Wenbo s/s 2009 collection, Copyright Japan Fashion Week Organization.

January 24, 2009

Color Quandaries?

Whether we are designers, advertisers, retailers, fashion reps, or shoppers, we are continually faced with the question, "What color do I choose?"

In the fashion and design industry, colors are in constant change. So how do we know which color is in and which one is out?

There are invariably many ways to follow color trends. One of the most convenient resources on the web is Color Trends, which peers several years into the past and future, providing a showcase of color forecasts for the specific season of your choice.

At the moment, I am applying the theatrical colors of Stahl's Fashion Color Forcast for Autumn/Winter 2009/2010 to a company that wanted to change its look. The tones are rich, dramatic, earthy, reflecting the warmth of "evenings spent around the camp fire."

So the next time you are in a quandary about colors, click it away with Color Trends.

Photo from Fashion Trendsetter.

January 23, 2009

From the Ashes of Pompeii

What comes to mind at the mention of Pompeii? Ruins? A city buried by volcanic ash? A movie entitled, "the Last Days of...?" But how about a fashion designer?!

Indeed, the city of Pompeii has become birthplace to one of the youngest emerging designers in the Italian fashion industry, Francesco Scognamiglio. He's 33 years old.

Having collaborated briefly with Versace in the 90's, in 2001 Francesco made his first debut in Milan with a angelically fashioned women's line that accentuated sensuality and the bare back. However, it was not until last year that Francesco rose to fame when he was contacted to outfit the fashion angel, Madonna, for her new video "Give it to Me."

Inspired by the mystique of his hometown, Naples, Italy, Francesco recently presented a 15-piece menswear collection for the fashion house Allegri at Pitti Uomo 75 in Florence.

Francesco Scognamiglio reveals that the secret to elegance in menswear lies in the accessories.

I must have been about 8 years old the first time I went to Pompeii, and a movie was being filmed with actors dressed in full Roman garb and all! Here's what I remember!

Photo from Fashion Times.

January 21, 2009

Obama: America's New Image

As President Obama stood before the world yesterday, not only did his words convey a new era of hope but his outer appearance personified the essence of his message.

Standing over 6 ft tall with broad shoulders and slim waist, President Obama sported a classic suit by day and chic tux by night, portraying a new image of modernity, youthfulness, and sophistication.

The custom-made suit was fashioned by the Chicago-based company, Hart Schaffner Marx (Hartmarx), which was founded in 1872 by German immigrants. In 1936, the company created quite a stir by introducing the first zipped men's pants! (We've come a long way!)

Hartmarx has become a true American legend! It's no coincidence, the company clothed the 44th US president--another American legend! President Obama is definitely America's made-to-measure man!

Since this year should be the year of the tux, check out your legendary president's favorite fashions at Hart Schaffner Marx.

January 20, 2009

Trade Show Wrap Up: Pitti Uomo

While larger fashion shows held in New York, Milano, Paris, and London have gained a high level of notoriety, other exhibitions tend to enjoy a bit less attention. Last week, nearly 25000 buyers flocked to the city of Florence, Italy, to view the collections of over 900 brands at Pitti Uomo n. 75.

What I like about Pitti Uomo (Pitti Men's, pronounced "Pete-tea") is the section called New Beats, which is reserved for emerging designers from all over the world. This edition showcased new brands like Unestablished & Rebel, Earth Lab, Cross+Spot, and many more.

If you are a buyer, retailer, or an avid follower of new trends, Pitti Uomo makes the perfect fashion holiday for you! The next edition will take place June 16-19. Check out the Pitti homepage for details to make plans now: Pitti Immagine Uomo

January 18, 2009

My Favorite Italian Brands (Part 2)

Another one of my all time favorite men's lines goes by the name of Sonny Bono. (Yeah, I chuckle too every time I say that!) I've never uncovered any relation to Cher, but--then again--you never know!

The line offers a total look, from hats right down to matching shoes! Just last September when I was back home in Naples, I picked up a hooded jacket (Prince of Wales Plaid), a black thin tie, a fitted black shirt with a touch of shine, tailored low-cut black jeans, a belt, and a pair of shoes that resemble the jacket--an entire non-conformist business suit--all for about 300 euro.

Sonny Bono modestly defines itself as citywear, sportswear, and basic. If you (or your customers) are looking to be trendy and unique but not too diverse, then this brand is for you!

Take a virtual trip to Bella Napoli and have a look! Sonny Bono "The beat goes on..."

January 17, 2009

My Favorite Italian Brands (Part 1)

Most people equate Italian fashion with big names like Dolce Gabbana, Versace, Gucci, and others. While these designers have established a well-known, reputable name for themselves, there exist dozens of other less-known designers and fashion houses throughout Italy.

One of my favorite brands is Primo Emporio, which was born back home in Naples, Italy, in the 80's. The style is aggressive, what we call "transgressive"; that is, very anti-conformist! It's a great look for young men who want to be unique.

Take a peek and tell me what you think!

Primo Emporio

January 16, 2009

What's in Style for 2009?

So on the runway this year it's a taste of India, with electrifying colors...some bright 60's retro tones...lots of shine...purples and indigo blue...a touch of tuxe...wide, low-cut necks...and some deep flesh tones.

Big name brands may set the stage, but there are innumerable less-known menswear designers and fashion houses around the world that are equally relevant and worthy of attention.
What are you looking to wear this year?

Slideshow from NYMag Giorgio Armani's 2009 S/S collection.