April 30, 2009

See What's Cook-ing at BAFWEEK This Year

Founded by Ramiro Fitá in 1975, John L. Cook was one of the most important apparel companies in Argentina throughout the 1980’s and1990’s. In 1998, the label was sold but repurchased in 2005 by the original owners, who rebranded the company and shortened the name to Cook.

Today Cook offers young men a fun, modern, free, and unstructured look that remains faithful to the original quality of the former company.

At the recent Buenos Aires Fashion Week (BAFWEEK) this year, Cook presented a multifaceted 2009 a/w collection entitled Love Tales, which drew inspiration from assorted love stories, from different periods around the world.

The collection unveiled four separate lines: Beautiful Losers, based on the strict education in Scotland and secret societies of the 1950's; Heroes Like Love, inspired by the Soviet uniforms of the 50's; Riders on the Storm, set in the American Far West; and Origin, the label's signature look.

Cook has adopted the forest as its symbol, which conveys life, peace, and freedom, generating resistance to fight against the former concepts of repression. Cook is an staunch advocate for various social causes and sustainable projects, such as boxed water, which utilizes paper that originates from responsible reforestation.

Photos a/w collection Copyright Cook.

April 29, 2009

Wanama Extends Its Love, from the Moors of Yorkshire to the Catwalk of BAFWEEK

Emily Brontë (1818-1848) was a British writer best remembered for her only novel, Wuthering Heights, which she published under the male pen name, Ellis Bell.

Named after a mansion on the Yorkshire moors where the story unfolds, Wuthering Heights has become an English classic about the passionate, unresolved love between two individuals that extends through life and beyond the grave.

It was against this backdrop that the Argentine label, Wanama, unfolded the passion between two new lines at the recent Buenos Aires Fashion Week (BAFWEEK): Wanama Lifestyle and Wanama Double You.

British-inspired Wanama Lifestyle featured sleek sophisticated silhouettes with tight semi-Oxford pants, tailored shirts, and embroidered accessories.

Wanama Double You fused the look of military guards with the traditional garb of the Navajo Indians, Cheyenne moccasins, and Texan leather handbags.

Photo a/w collection Copyright by Wanama.
Slide show a/w collection Copyright by Wanama.

April 28, 2009

Grupo 134: Only a Heartbeat Away from Europe

Heavily influenced by European culture, Buenos Aires is often called the Paris of South America, partly due to a massive European migration. In fact, it estimated that 60% of all Argentines can claim an Italian forefather. "So how many of us are related to them?" you ask!

As for me, I am the proud nephew of a man named Luigi, who, years ago, emigrated from Italy to Argentina in search of a better life. As a result, I am now the proud heir to a small clan of primos—cousins—living in and around Buenos Aires.

After phoning my primo, Luís, last week to wish him a happy Easter, I decided to contact BAFWEEK to get the scoop on the menswear lines that attended the recent Fashion Week in Buenos Aires.

So, first, let’s meet what some called "the new kid on the block": Grupo 134, which was formed last year by designers María Vázquez and Diana Muia who oversee a talented pool of multidisciplinary artists from the Netherlands, Germany, and France.

Born in an age of consumerism, as well as in a context of social responsibility, the group’s heart at Grupo 134 throbs to bridge the gap between fashion and recycling with a “think before you consume” motto.

Inspired by contemporary music genres like hip hop and punk, Grupo 134 pulsates with timeless, minimalist European styles that target men of all ages, exemplified by the models, who span from very young to the elderly.

Photos 2009 a/w collection Copyright by Grupo 134.

F-Troupe Sets the New International Load Line in Footwear!

Have you ever stepped onto a ferryboat, which sinks lower and lower into the river with the boarding of each vehicle?! You were not alone in your worries; the same feelings of concern are what set international load lines into place to prevent overloading.

With the loss of British ships in the 1860’s, politician Samuel Plimsoll took up the cause to establish marks that indicated the maximum safe zone for loading. These are known as Plimsoll lines. So, did you ever think that you shoes could have Plimsoll lines, which, if surpassed by water, your feet get wet?!

In the 1830’s, the Liverpool Rubber Company (later Dunlop) developed a canvas athletic shoe with rubber soles. Since the upper line around the sole resembled the load line around the hull of a ship, in the 1870’s the shoes were nicknamed Plimsolls! They also have been referred to as sneakers, Chucks, sandshoes, tennis shoes, gutties, and dappers.

Well, regardless of name, now you can have your own pair of Plimsolls, ranging from madras check to bright patchwork suede, all of which are part of the F-Troupe collection!

Mick Hoyle launched F-Troupe in 2003 with a view to bridging the gap between affordability and designer footwear. Based in London, the label has produced 70 styles, which are sold in 24 countries.

Drawing inspiration from flea markets to museums, the in-house design team led by Mick creates eclectic and imaginative footwear that is original, accessible, and well-designed.

Besides Plimsolls, this season you can choose from walking boots with flashes of lego colors to multi-colored suede boots—the perfect sneaker-moccasin hybrid. The loose boot has become an F-Troupe signature item.

Slideshow 2009 spring/summer & autumn winter collections Copyright by F-Troupe.
Photo 2009 spring/summer collection Copyright by

April 27, 2009

Emperial Nation: Making History through Tees

"The history of a people is found in its songs."
George Jellinek
WQXR host, the Vocal Scene

Well now it can be found on its T-shirts, as well!

Although Emperial Nation does not have a long history of its own, from its inception the movement has sought to preserve history through innovative streetwear that encourages customers to “change their world.”

Created in 2007, Emperial Nation is already showcasing six different collections, each inspired by a specific period that features various historical figures, unique artifacts, and memorable events:

The Harlem Renaissance (1920-1940) The Wild West (1865-1890)
The American Civil War (1861-1865) Gangs of New York (1820-1852)
The French Revolution (1789-1799) The Ottoman Empire (1299-1922)

Shopping online at Emperial Nation is like a guided tour at the local museum. Not only do you find the price, name, color, and code of each article but you can also read a short historical background to the image on the T-shirt. One of my favorite examples is the photo to the right:

Wanted: Billy the Kid. Relatively unknown during his own lifetime, he was catapulted into legend the year after his death when his killer, Sheriff Patrick Garrett, published a wildly sensationalistic biography of him called The Authentic Life of Billy, the Kid. Beginning with Garrett's account, Billy the Kid grew into a symbolic figure of the American Old West.

If you are a history buff or just in search of some cool new tees, then Emperial Nation is the right stop for you!

Photo bottom right Copyright by Emperial Nation.
Slide show Copyright by Emperial Nation.

April 26, 2009

Jazzing it up with Transcendent Black by Christian Westphal

It’s not often that a nation’s capital is situated across several islands and islets, but such is the case with Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark.

Once a fishing village named Havn , the "harbor" soon grew into a commercial center and is now reputed the most livable city in the world with the best quality of life, where 1/3 the inhabitants commute on bike!

Copenhagen has seen many great Danes in history like author and poet Hans Christian Anderson, who wrote the Ugly Duckling and the Emperor’s New Clothes.

One of the greatest Danes in the fashion world is undoubtedly emerging designer Christian Westphal. Born in Copenhagen, Christian graduated from the Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne in Paris, launching his high-end menswear brand in 2006.

Inspired by rainy Sundays, Christian Westphal introduces men to tight-fitting furs in his 2009 a/w collection entitled Transcendent Black, which combines images of Shakespearean heroes with the Japanese sword fighters of Kendō.

Westphal has also outfitted the Scottish rock group from Glasgow, Franz Ferdinand, as they presently tour the US and Europe for their new album ”Tonight.” Check to see if the group is playing in your city to get a firsthand view of Christian Westphal’s post-bop jazz!

Slide show Copyright by Christian Westphal.
Photo 2009 a/w collection Copyright by Christian Westphal.

April 25, 2009

Complex Geometries Simplifies Morality

Turn off playlist below before clicking on video.

Many people determine moral issues in life according to absolutes, defining them as black or white, right or wrong, heads or tails, and evil vs. good! There is nothing in between—no grey areas, no maybes, no fuzzy lines! Some even attribute rewards for choosing the one and punishment for the other.

In his 2009 a/w collection entitled “Between Good and Evil,” Canadian designer Clayton Evans challenges us to reexamine the conflict of moral ideals and their possible co-existence, as he leaps outside the box of moral absolutism to explore the world between the two!

Using vigilantes, religious icons, and ghostly apparitions as his points of reference, Clayton contrasts durable and fragile fabrics in bold black and white against garments of grey with hazy hues of pink and purple. With no clear front or back, the pieces feature large collars and capes, which can either portray modesty or conceal shame—you be the judge!

Originally from Alberta, Clayton Evans graduated from the Alberta College of Design and founded Complex Geometries in the fall of 2005. He is now located in Montreal.

So, I ask myself, how do I define reality: Is it all just black and white?

COMPLEX GEOMETRIES aw09 TRAILER Various Artists from JASON LAST on Vimeo.

Video artists: Stacy Lundeen, Tracy Maurice, Arianna, Jason Last & Renata Morales.
Slide Show 2009 a/w collection Copyright by Complex Geometries.

April 24, 2009

Nicholas K—Chic Enough for the Urban Outdoorsman!

High school valedictorian; biochem grad from the University of Arizona (add sum cum laude); tennis player and instructor; Eller MBA graduate; world-traveled model; hunter, fisherman, and hiker; cofounder, corporate director, and stunning look book model at a growing NYC-based apparel company—meet Christopher Kunz!

Former national tennis competitor, student of the Polimoda School of Design in Florence and FIT in New York, designer for DKNY, founding team member of Coach men’s sportswear, consultant for Calvin Klein, design overseer for half a dozen big-name labels, and cofounder and designer of an emerging NYC-based fashion company—meet Nicholas Kunz!

What is the molecular reaction when you combine a naturally talented brother and sister duo like the Kunzes? You got it: Nicholas K!

Born in Tucson of a Chinese-Russian mother and German-Irish father, Christopher and Nicholas were raised in the outdoors of Arizona, which they have consistently interpreted—season after season since 2003—into casual urban apparel at Nicholas K in New York.

Together, the brother and sister team have volleyed the company into the international arena where their line is now carried in over 100 stores across 6 countries.

Watch out for this hard-hitting duo as they continue to fuse urban living with life in the outdoors!

Now, take a stroll with Nicholas as her brother walks you through the chic ruggedness of spring and summer 2009!

Slide show 2009 s/s collection Copyright by Nicholas K.
Photo top left Christopher Kunz Copyright by Nicholas K.

April 22, 2009

A German Quest for a Hip Hop Persia by Boris Bidjan Saberi

When I was a young adolescent, I had a classmate who came from Iran to live with his uncle and cousin. In my free time, I would drop in on Hassan and his relatives, who time after time demonstrated to me the fine arts of Persian cuisine, delicately balancing spices like cinnamon and saffron, dried limes, and exotic herbs. At the table, they taught me their alphabet and assorted phrases from their language—Farsi—some of which I can still recall today.

When I later went away to university, the Shah of Iran was overthrown and, sadly, I lost touch with my little buddy Hassan. I will never lose touch, however, with the richness and antiquity of his people’s culture, which boasts one of the richest artistic traditions in the world.

Recently on Totem Fashion, I spotted a collection by designer Boris Bidjan Saberi, which jogged my childhood memories of my exposure to Iran.

Boris Bidjan Saberi was born of a German mother and a Persian father on September 11, 1978 in Munich, Germany. A precocious young lad, Boris began developing a line of accessories while still in school, which comprised leather bags with refined finishes of wax, oil, sand, and water.

In 2006, Boris launched his line of menswear, which expressively conveys feelings of freedom and innovation, all the while focusing on functionality. Rooted in street culture, Boris mingles post-Gothic trends with shadows of an engaging hip hop style as he gives poetic tastes, rational scents, and a touch of skateboarding to casual urban wear.

Click on the slide show below and journey deep into Boris' heart on a quest for all that is Persian within him!

Slide show 2009 a/w collection Copyright by Boris Bidjan Saberi.

April 20, 2009

C.Neeon Proves "One Cannot Live without Champagne and Gypsies"

What do Swiss architect Max Bill and Ukraine-born artist Sonja Delaunay have in common? At C.Neeon, it’s champagne and Gypsies!

Inspired by the Russian proverb, “One cannot live without champagne and Gypsies,” designers Clara Leskovar and Doreen Schulz bring together the architectural structure of Bauhaus and the colorful geometric sensations of Orphism in their 2009 a/w collection.

Born in Gradizhske, Ukraine, Sarah Ilinitchna Stern (1885 – 1979) moved to St. Petersburg at a young age where she was adopted by her wealthy uncle Henri Terk and assumed the name Sonja Terk. Sonja traveled extensively throughout Europe with her aunt and uncle, visiting art museums and galleries. Eventually, she wound up attending the Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe, Germany, and the Académie de la Palette in France.

Sonja later married Parisian artist Robert Delaunay in 1910 and bore a son. One day she set about making “little Charles" a blanket similar to those of Russian peasants, with pieces of colorful fabric geometrically stitched together. Evoking images of Cubism—an artistic form that communicates through color and form—Orphism was born as Sonja and Robert applied their strong colors and geometric shapes to other artistic media, including textiles, fashion, and stage design.

Meanwhile in 1908, Max Bill was born in Winterthur, a city in the canton of Zurich, Switzerland. Max Bill went on to study at Bauhaus—a school in Germany that combined crafts and fine arts, harmonizing function and design in geometric designs and relationships of planned color. Artist, sculptor, architect, and typographer—Max Bill became an avid proponent of Bauhaus, which exerted a marked influence on art and architecture, as well as on graphic, interior, and industrial design.

So, sit back with some champagne and Gypsies and watch the slide show below to pay tribute to Max Bill, who would have turned 100 this year!

By the way, if you do not have any Gypsy friends, click on Azis in my play list below—he's a Bulgarian Gypsy and my favorite vocalist. C.Neeon proves it right: One cannot live without champagne and Gypsies. I know I can't!

Slide show C.Neeon 2009 a/w collection Copyright by Alex Kohout.
Photo top left painting by Robert Delaunay, 1912-13, Museum of Modern Art (NYC) Public Domain at Wikipedia.

Dark Code: Takin' it to the Streets!

Tucked away amongst the vineyards and olive groves of the Puglia region in southern Italy, what some consider the “heel of the boot,” there exists a notable shoe-making and textile industry in the area of a city called Barletta.

For those of you who are familiar with Italy, Barletta is just north of Bari—a major port on the Adriatic sea where, for years, I used to take the huge ferries to and from my national reps in Albania, Croatia, and Greece.

Now I represent one of these growing apparel companies from Barletta, which will soon make its first debut in the US, just around the corner from America’s birthplace in Philadelphia! Beforehand, I would like to introduce you to Antonio Matera, founder and designer of this trendy menswear line—Dark Code.

Antonio, it’s great working with you and Dark Code...any opening words?
First of all, I would like to thank Men's Fashions by Francesco and those of you who have bestowed upon us the opportunity to bring Dark Code to America!

So, tell us a bit about yourself...
I was born in Barletta on May 25, 1975 and I graduated from the Industrial Institute of Technology. But fashion and all that belongs to it have always fascinated me.

What events led up to your career in the apparel industry?
My journey towards the world of fashion has been a long one, which started at childhood with my cousins who owned a small garment manufacturing studio where I worked as a temporary employee during summers when school let out. Once I completed my education, I began working in the food industry as an office manager. After 6 years, however, when the opportunity was presented to me to—as they commonly say in both America and the game of baseball—“go back to home base,” I returned willingly and full of initiative!

How did Dark Code come about?
The label Dark Code was kind of born out of a game. You won’t believe this, but we owe it all to a 9-year-old child, who, when asked to design a doll, pulled out a little devil, which has been our symbol for 3 years now. Events have been unfolding since then, from the first fashion show where we debuted our label, (which you may also find on our website) to the first publicity campaigns and catalog development, etc.

I always wondered about the origins of the name...
The name Dark Code was conceived out of a combination of various styles; namely scuro, which translates as “dark”—something that represents our aggressive look—and “code” in English, the well-defined ‘manner’ that identifies anyone who wears our garments.

How would you sum up Italian fashion?
Italian fashion, as you well know, is always Italian fashion. Those who say this are not the ones who just arrived on the scene but those who, for years, have brought us fame and prestige in all the world, such as the great fashion icons like Valentino, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, and others whom I could cite.

So would you say that consistency is the reason Italian fashion has become a world leader?
Italian fashion is a world leader because it does not allow itself to be influenced by fleeting trends. Instead, it creates a recognized style in all the world. In this regard, I would like to tell you something that happened to me when I went to Spain on vacation. As soon as people encountered us, they immediately recognized that we were Italians by what we were wearing, because our dress sets us apart.

So, what sets Dark Code apart from other menswear labels in Italy?
Dark Code’s style is a mixture of pursuit, materials that measure up to the product, creativity, and a lot of passion from the owner right down to the last employee in our company, all of whom work long hours each day.

Thank you, Antonio, and good luck to you and Dark Code!

For those of you who live in the Philadephia area, Dark Code will be taking it to the streets on May 3rd between 2nd & 5th on Market, from 11am to 6pm. Come on out and let Dark Code set you apart!

Slide show of previous seasons Copyright by Dark Code.
Photo top right Antonio Matera.

April 19, 2009

Still Sleepless in Seattle! Seattle Fashion Week Ends on a High

Seattle Fashion “Week” may actually be a misnomer. I prefer calling it “Seattle Fashion Quarter,” which began this year with student designer casting on January 19-23 and model casting calls on February 5, followed by a kickoff party on February 28, a networking party on March 19, a student designer competition and industry networking party on March 26, a downtown model takeover on April 3, and finally the official showcase this weekend April 15-18!

Seattle Fashion Week defines itself as "a series of entertaining and high-energy events designed to propel fashion designers to the forefront of the national fashion spotlight. The events attract 1,000 attendees each year."

In March I covered the Student Designer Competition in several articles, in which I interviewed four of the top five finalists. I have provided links to the articles below. Although all five finalists demonstrated vibrant talent, first prize went to Becky Sullivan—an impeccable seamstress and “perfectionist,” in her own words—who featured a cohesive, wearable collection of women's wear at the competition.

I spoke to Becky two weeks ago, who, still overwhelmed by the excitement, was working around the clock, sewing and piecing together a complete collection of 10 dressy, "well-coordinated but miss-matched" outfits to present on the catwalk this weekend.

Undoubtedly Becky had never imagined that she would go to Seattle Fashion Week, but by following her heart and her passion she now knows she “did the right thing.” As for the next step, although she describes the economy as somewhat depressing, Becky is more than confident that she will land something as she continues to “let fate take its course.”

Stay tuned for additional articles this week on the menswear designers that attended Seattle Fashion Week.

Previous articles on Seattle Fashion Week:
Seattle Fashion Week - Student Designers Competition
Seattle Student Designer Competition: Lennura Zhataganova
Seattle Student Designer Competition: Rebecca Lynn Sullivan
Seattle Student Designer Competition: Lauren Hendrie
Seattle Student Designer Competition: Yomary Muñoz

Photos Complimentary of Becky Sullivan.

April 17, 2009

0044 Paris Celebrates 10 Years of Revolutionary Romanticism

Although the fashion line was conceived in 2003, this year 0044 paris is celebrating its 10th anniversary of Revolutionary Romanticism. Director Seiichiro Shimamura has been unveiling this philosophy through interior design, artistic creations, and “made-in-France” fashions, which rise from poetry and short films and spring into shapes of clothing and accessories.

The flagship store of 0044 paris—a museum of sorts—is located in Marais at 16 rue du Bourg-Tibourg. Floral scenes and a Siberian Woolly Mammoth skull juxtapose unexpectedly, welcoming the visitor with intriguingly beautiful originality to reflect upon life, death, extinction, renewal, and how the marriage of opposites can invent a new aesthetic.

Red greets the visitor with passion, rebellion, revolution, and fire—inspiring you with every- and anything that deals with heat. The beauty of archaeology shakes your hand through fossilized skulls of extinct mammals, longstanding symbols of a Punk culture.

History will transport you through time to a large-scale imaginative world of mysterious fascination. The faith of others will hand you back in time through a French heritage of Catholic art, which will instruct you in the beauty of sublime.

Click on the slideshow of this year's current and future seasons to celebrate with 0044 paris a happy 10th anniversary!

Photo Copyright by 0044 paris.
Slideshow 2009 spring/summer & autumn/winter collections Copyright by
0044 paris.

April 16, 2009

Wibke Deertz—ADD-ing a Touch of Class to the "Everyday Kinda Guy"

German designer Wibke Deertz founded the unisex label ADD in 2000 for young style-conscious individuals who did not want to fuss much about fashion. With her autumn/winter collection this year, Wibke shifted from a coed concept to an all-menswear line.

Born and raised in Northern Germany, Wibke went to high school and college in Washington DC, where she studied sculpture at the Corcoran School of Art. Wibke continued her studies at the Utrecht School of Art in the Netherlands. Now she is based in Berlin.

Free-spirited and inquisitive about diverse cultures, Wibke has taken ADD to numerous cities around the world, which have enriched her themes and manufacturing processes. Cities include Buenos Aires in 2004, Hanoi in 2005 and 2007, and Bangkok for the past two collections.

Inspired by the “everyday” male, Wibke designs in such a way that she masterfully gives the laid-back kind of guy a sexy touch of class!

Two weeks ago, ADD opened the doors to its first flagship store named A.D.DEERTZ, which is located at 58 Kastanienallee Street in Berlin.

Slideshow 2009 s/s collection Copyright by ADD.

April 15, 2009

Brazilian Model, Lucas Galdino Marques—Taking the High Road

Goiânia, Brazil, is the capital city of the Goiás state, which, unlike any other Brazilian city, was completely planned from the start and is now occupied by 30% planted trees! Located in central Brazil, Goiânia sits high amongst the chapadões, or ‘plateaus’, roughly 749 m (2,457 ft) above sea level. Goiânia boasts an seemingly endless skyline, the first buildings of which were inspired by Art Deco.

Several months ago, I was introduced to a male model from Goiânia, who currently lives and works in Milan, Italy. His name is Lucas Galdino Marques—a tremendous inspiration not only to aspiring models but anyone who wishes to succeed in the menswear business!

Lucas, your interview has greatly encouraged me!

What can you tell me about your upbringing?
I was born in the city of Goiânia of the Goiás state, which is not so known as San Paulo or Rio, but I like it a lot. Since childhood, it’s not like I had many choices in life. I come from a poor family with 2 brothers. I grew with up these two and their friends, who played soccer with them, along with other local girls. At school, it wasn’t that I was so good, but I liked to go and see the girls. Already at the age of 15, I was working to help out at home, because my parents were always working hard to be able to give my brothers and me the best.

What were you doing at 15?
My first job was that of “office boy” for my godmother, who at that time had a hair salon.

How did you begin modeling?
I began in my hometown, Goiânia, where I was attending a country festival that takes place every year. There, I was handed a closed envelope from a modeling agency, requesting me to appear if I were interested in learning more. Anyway, I returned home at 6 in the morning and went to sleep, forgetting all about the letter. When my mother was putting my clothes in the washer, she discovered the envelope that contained the letter and brought me to the agency. From there I began with a few shots and, a week later, I was already doing my first fashion show—and I haven’t stopped since.

What was it that attracted you to modeling?
First, the lack of opportunity in life, in that I had already been dealt a difficult childhood, along with my two brothers… It’s not like my parents were able to do everything for us… So when I had my first opportunity to make money without too much work...my parents didn’t think twice…

How did you know that you could succeed in this business?
Well, I understood fast because it is a job that operates according to image. So it can happen quickly that you get huge publicity, becoming famous and known… To be sincere, I don’t see myself as an attractive young man; I see myself as a strange guy. Nevertheless, my girlfriend always tells me that I’m handsome and, therefore, I’m satisfied because she is “extra hot” (laughter).

I love it! So tell me more about your first jobs…
My first job was in a fashion show for shoes in my hometown. Then I did some editorial shots and publicity stunts. Afterwards, I was already out of Brazil in Paris at barely 16 years old.

And now?
Now I live in Milan with my girlfriend of nine years, who also lives here with me. I didn’t choose Milan for the city itself but rather for a way to work as a model and use Milan as a base, from which I could travel around the world. I’ve been here now for a year and half.

What assignments are you currently working on?
Well, this year I haven’t worked much as a model out of personal choice, because the market has changed significantly in ways that anger me. When something doesn’t sit well with me, I change. Now I have just started representing a line of jeans called Scarlet Rogue. I have never performed this type of work before, but I expect that it will go well for me… (chuckles) I have plans to become a helicopter pilot too!

People often think that the life of a model is all glitter…
Well, many people may think so, but it’s not a job where you just show up and begin to perform. You must have patience with a lot of luck and strength to win. It starts at an early age when we may be still a baby, dealing with people who at times have been in the business for over 10 years!!! It’s not like it is a bad job, but there are highs and lows—more lows than highs.

So, what are some of the lows?
Difficulties that never have to do with the model himself, even though from the start he basically gets used to the max. Then there is that race of folks who rob you of your money, the agencies that don’t pay, and the lack of trade unions that defend the rights of the model rather than those of the agency. In addition, almost everyone commits illegal acts like giving work to a foreigner who doesn’t have working papers and so on. It’s a dirty world full of infamous people that live to make themselves seen, as opposed to people who live proudly just to be alive. I get a bit angered when I have to speak about these things!!! For the hours, though, it’s an easy work because you can earn a lot of money in little time.

Any words for the young men who are contemplating this type of work?
Yeah, find a serious agent that interviews you rather than you giving them money, because you are the model… You are the one who must begin earning and not paying for the work… Keep far away from drugs and try to change that, which doesn’t sit right with you. Everything is possible; it depends on us to make the world better…

Is there anything that can help these young men prepare for this work?
Yeah, I think that the support of your family is essential for you to succeed at traveling and following what may come in the future. It is a job that works with your image; therefore, it is important that you have total family support.

Slide Show Copyright by Scarlet Rogue.
Photo top & lower right by Andy Ong Copyright by Studio Rom.
Photo of Goiânia by Dasneviano Public Domain at Widipedia.

April 14, 2009

Dimitri Stavrou’s Stylish Ride from Cyprus to London

Cyprus is the 3rd largest island in the Mediterranean, a member of the European Union since 2004, and one of the most prosperous economies in the region. A former colony of England, Cyprus became an independent republic only in 1960. The island, however, is divided into Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. A UN Green Line separates the Turkish-controlled north—recognized only by Turkey—from the south, which is effectively controlled by the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus. Recently, I have had the privilege of interviewing the UK-Cypriot designer, Dimitri Stavrou:

So, Dimitri, where were you born and raised?
I was born in London and I grew up in Larnaca, Cyprus. For me, I got the best of both cultures as I was spending time in both cities: studying in Cyprus, taking my half-term holidays in London.

Are both your parents from Cyprus?
My father is Cypriot and my mum, an English Cypriot born and raised in London.

And how about you, do you consider yourself English or Greek?
I do not consider myself either pure English or pure Greek: you’re more than welcome to do the math regarding my family tree (smile). I have the best of both nationalities, so I use both (chuckle).

How old were you when you started desiging?
It was at a young age. I can’t remember a specific age when I got into it. I think it was meant to happen at one point. I come from a family that is very conscious about making a good first impression.

You’re recent show definitely made a good one! Did any events lead up to this decision?
Well, as I said it wasn’t something that happened from one minute to the next. I think I always knew I was going to do something creative, whether it was art related or fashion related. I think one overtook the other. I think being conscious about what to wear and how to wear clothing always fascinated me; after all, growing up I do remember how I used to mix and match clothes and almost create like a mini trend I would follow.

How did that go over in Cyprus?
Growing up in a small village in Cyprus most certainly made me look out of synch with the rest of the people of my age group. I was the black sheep, the outcast, the person that did not follow the “normal” or acceptable dress code (more chuckles).

When did you take your first real step?
I began designing clothes for myself at the age of 15 and started customizing and making my own clothes. I was bored with things I found in shops, etc., so I gave them a little touch—well, my own personal touch.

What inspires you when you design?
Well, everything and anything inspires me…depends…the time and the place, and also in what state of mind I am. I like to create my own little dark stories when I create a collection. I think something that has a macabre or cynical story behind it always creates an interest. As a person I am very sensitive, and to me a good designer needs to be sensitive and in touch with the surrounding environment. Through my work I channel my emotions, my thoughts, my desires; but also you need to understand yourself as a person in order to visualize the message you want to bring across through your work.

How much does Greek culture play a part?
My last collection was inspired by Greek mythology and folklore. I mean, it’s hard not to be inspired by your own culture. I studied ancient Greek text when I was in high school, and I was always fascinated by the imagination of my ancestors. So you try to interpret and include personal and cultural elements within your work; this gives you your own identity as a visionary and a creative designer within your field.

Do you have a favorite designer?
Yes I do (grinning). Alexander McQueen! To me, he is a genius. He is a technique-based designer that loves the drama and loves to create and offer something new to the world of fashion. I did my apprenticeship there in the menswear studio, in 2007, and I enjoyed and loved every single minute of it.

What is your favorite look for yourself?
I only wear black, so anything black. There is a lack of colour in my wardrobe, but that’s because I like it that way. Black gives me a nice backdrop to display my eccentric and sparkly accessories (smiling).

Is there a period in history that attracts you?
I would go even further back in time towards the late 18th and early 19th century and, to be more precise, I’m talking about Dandyism. These were men that were very particular with their outer appearance and truly enjoyed fashion at the time. To me, they elevated their aesthetic to a living religion.

Do you take a thematic approach to your collections?
I do, although I am not a slave to my own concept. For example, if I’m inspired by medieval body armor, I am not going to sit in an iron workshop to try and replicate that. What people do not understand, sometimes, is where the relationship of a collection to the clothing ties in. What I research for a collection, I try to create the inspiration through my pattern cutting and fabrication. But also the way a catwalk show is staged—the makeup, the music, the venue—is all part of your concept. At the end of the day, the designer is the store teller and, through a collection, you start to see the story. A viewer might sometimes interpret it differently; but there is always a theme behind my design and, as I mentioned before, it’s usually a dark theme (chuckling).

Tell me about your formal training…
I studied my BA and MA at London College of Fashion and, during that time, I worked and collaborated with various companies. McQueen was an 8-month apprenticeship; I did some styling for Ashish and recently collaborated with Dr Martins for my collection amongst other projects, which are ongoing.

What can you tell me about the fashion scene on Cyprus?
Hmmmm… Well, Cyprus is a small island, so basically guys there don’t try to stick out that much. Although every time I go there, I do try to stir things up (laughing). I remember one summer; I arrived on the island in an 80’s vintage Gaultier man skirt. Yep, that did raise a couple of eyebrows. It’s safe to say, it’s not like London or any other major metropolitan city. Guys there try to blend with the rest. Although it’s slightly changing now, I think menswear in Cyprus has a long way to go.

So how do the men dress differently than in Continental Europe or England?
…depends where you live, where you grow up, what religious background you come from. There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration. I take myself as an example when I was living in Cyprus. Although I wanted to experiment with my sense of style, there was only up to a certain point I could push it. People gossip and judge you according to how you look and how you dress. This is why I love London so much, ‘cause it gives young people the platform to express their sense of style and sexuality, and you don’t easily find that in any city, in the world. Men are also very conscious about the way they dress; but as I say, it takes a real man to be daring and pull it off no matter what color or cut an outfit has. I grew up in a village where everyone knew everyone, so you can imagine if your appearance did not go down well: one day it ends up as village gossip. This never bothered me at all, although sometimes I did feel people where looking at me as if I came from the planet mars. But everyone should be comfortable to express their taste and style through their own wardrobes. The other thing I love about doing menswear is there are so many boundaries to brake and experiment with. It’s a young industry and we have only just seen men actually taking into consideration alternative styles and combos.

You have lived in many diverse places… Do you have a favorite city?
As for favorite country, well, put it this way I don’t do countryside, so anything that looks like you can distress—I hate. I’m a city boy. I love the buzz. But if I had to select, it would be Paris or London: London because it’s a vital place where every designer comes to do research for trends/looks and enjoys the cities alternative night life and Paris for its chic café culture and lavish shops.

I love to ask designers their opinions on ethical fashion and sustainability…
I believe in ethical fashion and sustainability within fashion, but to me this is achieved through the beauty and admiration of historical craftsmanship via the product. I practice traditional tailoring and I emphasize high standard of quality within my collections. At the end of the day, a customer gets for what they pay. Many say, “you pay for the name of a designer product,” which is true, but you also pay for quality of finishing and material, which the high street doesn’t offer. A Saville Row blazer will last a lifetime compared to a blazer that is bought from High Street from store X. So, if you have a classic piece in your wardrobe that you can constantly wear season in season out, then—yes--that is ethical or green fashion or whatever you may call it. My work consists of local fabrics sourced within the U.K and Europe, and I do all my production in London, so for me that is sustainability: I am helping local business. The amount of energy it will take to source an ‘organic’, ‘green’ fabric from the other side of the world and ship it back and then call it ethical—to me that is a joke. You only need to go to a museum to see designers’ previous work showcased within exhibitions and admired by everyone. That’s ethical…

Where do you think menswear is heading as an industry?
Menswear is a growing industry that still is causing a stir. Designers are more experimental and playful with their menswear. We like to try out new things, new cuts with regards to where it’s heading.

Are you excited about the direction?
Well, I think everyone should sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride. I know I will …

Slide Show Dimitri Stavrou London College of Fashion MA 2009 Show Copyright by Larapixie.
Photo by Marcobadotti Public Domain at Wikipedia.

April 13, 2009

Theatre de la Mode Presents Elixir of the Hungarian Horseman

For a sneak preview of what may be galloping by you this fall/winter season, turn off the music below and click on Elixir of the Hungarian Horseman by Theatre de la Mode!


Video Copyright by Theatre de la Mode.

Prophetik Jeff Garner's Organic Revival

Several weeks ago I posted an article entitled, London Fashion Week: Doubly Green, in which I presented several eco-brands that debuted this year at estethicaLondon Fashion Week's green initiative.

One of the companies featured was Prophetik—an eco-friendly company based in Tennessee that manifests art, love, poetry, and internal freedom and supports numerous charities around the world.

After requesting an interview several weeks ago, designer and owner Jeff Garner paid me a call. We must have chatted for an hour about Jeff’s sustainable journey, which he depicted with a free-spirited passion that one rarely encounters today.

As a musician and poet, Jeff’s career took off in the creative world of music management at Stiletto Entertainment, as he jet set with pop star icons like Paul McCartney and Barry Manilow who impacted him deeply, firing his own “passion”—an informal training that prepared him for green fashion!

Having led a naturalistic upbringing on a farm in the Deep South, Jeff was fully aware of the detrimental impact of the fashion industry on the environment. At first, however, Jeff was hindered from taking action due to feelings of unworthiness; that is, until he was mentored by Calvin Klein, who encouraged him simply to chart his course according to his heart-felt vision.

With the burning desire to inject a positive philosophy into the fashion world, Jeff began communing with like-minded individuals, whom he consulted about sustainability. Soon, his wheels touched down on an alternative t-shirt company, which, in the course of nine years, Jeff has converted into a full-blown eco-collection!

At the time, garment factories in Tennessee had long been closed, leaving a trail of laid-off sewers that were scattered throughout the “sticks”—impassioned elderly folk who still shared a strong work ethic and the old ways of the Deep South. Down on a farm, Jeff and his team began stitching renaissance pieces of conversational garments that harbor no hidden agenda, no gimmicks, and no grey areas.

Jeff diligently employs GOTS-certified dyed fabrics, organic pigments, vintage or wooden/bamboo buttons, and even baking soda to soften garments. All these processes limit his choices in the materials and colors that he may choose and demand considerably more time. “There are no short cuts,” urges Jeff—and he would have it no other way!

Like a Norman Rockwell of sorts, Jeff draws his inspiration from ordinary life and nature, such as with his s/s 2009 collection, which paints a picture of a horse in the English countryside being set free from its rider.

Jeff launched Sustainable Kids to teach the next generation how to live responsibly in an age of consumerism. When children purchase a new Prophetik garment, they receive a box with a postage stamp so that they may ship an old garment to impoverished children in Haiti. Moreover, with the purchase of every garment, $1.50 is donated to the building fund of a children’s village in Haiti.

Prophetik is retailed in 77 stores across 5 countries.

Photos Copyright by Prophetik.

April 12, 2009

Fashion Blogging vs. the Press

Traditionally designers, models, fashion boutiques, and showrooms have had to reckon with the “press”; but now there is a new force mushrooming around the world: Fashion Bloggers. Nevertheless, do any fundamental differences exist between the two?

Several weeks ago, I was speaking to one of the designers whom I had previously interviewed. As we conversed, he began commenting on how refreshing he found the world of “menswear blogging,” which, in comparison to the press, struck him as less elitist, more tight knit, and congenial—almost making him feel warm and fuzzy allover.

For weeks I pondered over the appraisal of this up-and-coming designer, words of whom cannot be discarded lightly. Well, here are my thoughts on the matter, and I would love to know yours!

Typically, menswear bloggers are not paid but rather write as a hobby; thus, they replace hype and sensationalism with heartfelt excitement about their topic.

Such a zeal for the topic leads menswear bloggers to bond naturally, oftentimes requesting to “share links” to one another’s sites.

Menswear bloggers rarely shield their work from others but rather hope that others will “snag” and repost it somewhere else—as long as you place a link back to the source!

Menswear bloggers commonly focus a specific theme, which impassions them, such as hairstyles, grooming, or simple photos of the latest collection.

Consequently, menswear bloggers attract a certain type of reader according to their theme, communicating more effectively with their niche audience.

Menswear bloggers encourage interaction with their audience, not only welcoming but also weighing the comments of every reader.

While positive and upbeat, menswear bloggers try to stay neutral, attempting to portray their subject as objectively as possible, so that each reader may judge without bias.

Whether or not menswear bloggers ever obtain equal recognition with the press, we will continue blogging, because we are passionate about what we write—menswear.

I thank each and everyone of you for reading! Continue to send in your thoughts and requests!

Free photo from Stock.xchng.

April 11, 2009

Justin Smith Esquire has a Brand New Easter Hat for You!


Main Entry: mil·li·ner
Pronunciation: \ˈmi-lə-nər\
Function: noun
Etymology: irregular from Milan, Italy; from the importation of women's finery from Italy in the 16th century
Date: 1530
: a person who designs, makes, trims, or sells women's hats
Merriam-Webster Online)

The term milliner dates back to 16th-century Italy and referred to a supplier of fine luxury goods, such as hats, gloves, and other accessories for which Milan was renowned. Eventually milliners began producing or importing hats alone.

Thus, the word entered the English language from the Middle English word Milener—an inhabitant of Milan or someone who dealt with items from the city. Obviously hats date back thousands of years; however, in modern times they merely gained popularity in the 1500’s.

Justin Smith Esquire is a contemporary milliner, not only for women but also for men. In addition to millinery, Justin runs a highly successful, exclusive hairdressing salon in central London called “And People Like Us.”

Justin began designing and making hats by hand in 2000 while undertaking part-time millinery training. Since that time, Justin has obtained a MA in Millinery at the Royal College of Art, accumulating numerous awards for his millinery skills, including “Hat Designer of the Year”: first prize in 2006 and second prize in 2007.

Clearly from the photo top right, Justin draws his inspiration from the good ole' dandies from the first half of 20th-century England.

Whatever hat you sport today, I wish you a happy and healthy holiday!

Photo by Guto, Copyright J Smith Esq.

Earthquake in Abruzzo: My Deepest Condolences

I want to express my deepest sympathy to all those who have lost loved ones in the earthquakes that have struck the Abruzzo region in Italy this week.

As a co-national, my heart is filled with sadness for the loss of hundreds of lives, as well as for the hundreds of thousands of individuals who are now left homeless.

I also want to express my gratitude to all those who demonstrated courage and bravery throughout the rescue effort; particularly, Italy's firemen, police, military, carabinieri, and volunteers.

April 9, 2009

The Energetically Charged Bags & Accessories of Maxim Sharov

Maxim Sharov was born and raised in Zheleznodorozhny, a city located 21 km outside of Moscow, where he now resides. Zheleznodorozhny—which translates as ‘railway’—was founded in 1861 as a settlement that served the train station of Obiralovka. The settlement gained its fame by Leo Tolstoy as the place of death for the main character in Anna Karenina.

I had the privilege of interviewing this Russian designer of men's accessories last week. Luckily for me, Russian language and literature was my major in university—even reading Anna Karenina in the original!—so I was able to conduct the interview in Maxim’s native language and feel his passion in designing bags for men.

When growing up in Zheleznodorozhny, what was it that influenced you to become a designer?
What influenced my decision to become a designer was that, for some time in my childhood, I was a punker and, afterwards, a hippy. Then, it came to me to make various accessories that would correspond to the ways of such subcultures.

Where did you go to school?
I completed my studies at the Faculty of Applied Art of the Moscow State Textile University ‘A.N. Kosygin’. Although I entered as a major in shoe wear, in the course of my studies I chose to major as a designer of bags, receiving my degree in the year 2000.

So when did you first start designing bags?
I started designing 18 years ago, when I was only 15 years old.

And what do you find inspires you when you design?
I’m not inspired by the mere purpose of fashion or style but rather by things that are created for practical purposes, such as the elements of workers’ clothes or military ammunition. I like things that can be used for a long time, not looking to the variability of fashion but rather to things that have confirmed their usefulness.

Could you give a percentage for the amount of practicality vs. style?
90% practicality, 10% style.

How do you perceive life, and do you express this perception in your accessories?
I read that things, as well as everything around us, have energy and this energy largely depends on how the things were made and the emotions that were felt in making them. If something is created by one person who conceived the idea, then this thing is energetically more powerful than something that was made in a manufacturing line where one person performs only one operation and then passes it to another.

You’ve made a very strong case for the artisan! So, with what types of materials do you like to work?
Yes, in general, I only work with leather. For this reason, I love to buy leather not only of the best quality but also leather with defects, scratches, holes, and impressions that appear naturally.

I’m always at your disposal to answer more questions with great pleasure. Спасибо!

Slide show Copyright by Maxim Sharov.

April 8, 2009

Rozalb de Mura's Powder Cadillac 1B-2140 & Desert Twilight 6A-3410: How Do These Colors Make You Feel?

At London Fashion Week, Rozalb de Mura presented his a/w 2009 collection, which is entitled “Powder Cadillac 1B-2140 & Desert Twilight 6A-3410.”

At first glance, the name may strike you as a bit odd sounding, but as blogger Bobble Bee points out, they are merely two codes from the Pantone color palette. Good work there, Bobble Bee!

But why these two colors?!

Rozalb de Mura based his collection on “the colors of the future” predicted in the imaginary research of Swiss psychotherapist, Max Lüscher, who in reality developed the Lüscher color test.

The Lüscher-Color-Diagnostic measures an individual's psychological state according to his or her color preferences and, through the use of 5015 definitions, reveals 23 different personality traits. Here are a few examples:

Blue: Contentment
Feeling of belonging, the inner connection, and the relationship to one’s partner.

Green: Self-respect
Inner control of willpower and the capacity to enjoy.

Red: Self-confidence
Activity, drive, and the reaction to challenges.

Yellow: Development
Attitude of anticipation, attitude towards future development, and towards new encounters.

Now, what do Powder Cadillac and Desert Twilight say about your personality? Sit back, click on the slide show, and take the test!

Slide show a/w 2009 collection "Powder Cadillac 1B-2140 & Desert Twilight 6A-3410," Copyright by Rozalb de Mura.
Lüscher Test Color Chart from

April 7, 2009

Rozalb de Mura Sounds the Drums of War!

Wittily naming his label after the fictional baron Rozalb de Mura, designer Oláh Gyárfás craftily laces his s/s 2009 collection with the imaginary world of WoWWorld of Warcraft—a “massively multiplayer online role-playing game” (MMORPG) released by Blizzard Entertainment, which now boasts 11.5 million monthly subscribers and holds the Guinness World Record for the most popular MMORRG!

Oláh Gyárfás has definitely placed himself in the arena of winners!

Entitled “the Drums of War Will Thunder Once Again,” the s/s 2009 Rozalb de Mura collection unfolds a distant planetary saga, of which the baron writes:

“Rain of fire poured down again in the frosty North. The Darkness Knights viciously broke the pact of the Fourth War. The Horde united in ferocious vengeance attacks. Alas, the blessing of our peace sanctuary might soon evaporate. Winds of change blow on our lands. The spirit of Ghost Wolf thus spoke: take sides or otherwise perish in the might of the burning embrace.

But the Great Assembly announced: let us not paint our faces in the colours of their war. Any alliance will throw upon our peaceful people the curse of agony and extinction. The undead shield still protects us for one hundred years. Our tribe must remain free, unbounded by ties of loyalty or dominion. Wise like Amarog, fierce like Ithagai.”

In the remote and turbulent past, nations have ardently craved and fiercely fought for freedom as they embellished their warriors with insignias of bravery.

Oláh Gyárfás draws on his inspiration from the Hungarian word vitezkotes, translated as ‘the string of the brave’, which was an embroidered black string on the traditional Hungarian male garb, now permeating the s/s 2009 collection—the Drums of War Will Thunder Once Again.

Slide show s/s 2009 collection, Copyright Rozalb de Mura.
Photo top right baron Rozalb de Mura & Oláh Gyárfás, Copyrighy by Rozalb de Mura.