Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Oscar de la Renta Unveils Autumn/Winter 2012 Campaign

Womenswear luxury label Oscar de la Renta has unveiled its Autumn/Winter 2012 campaign. Shot by photographer Craig McDean, the campaign was styled by Alex White and it features models Candice Swanepoel and Katryn Kruger.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Brazilian Inspirations: The Defiance of an Emerging Creative Powerhouse

There is little doubt that the current financial recession affecting so many parts of the world has contributed to a major shift in the global creative landscapes and fashion consumption habits. The leading roles played by North-American and European economies has, over the last four years, slowly been replaced by hitherto secondary characters performed by nations such as Brazil, China, India and Russia, where the emergence of relatively stable economies has allowed for the establishment of a new world order. Slowly, countries such as Italy, France or the United States have lost their key positions as leaders in the fashion and textile and footwear production arenas, having witnessed the demise of their reputation as qualitative producers to be seen mostly as quantitative consumers.

Havaianas store in São Paulo
In the context of this sartorial Farewell Symphony (as envisaged by Joseph Haydn in his musical metaphor to illustrate a waning creative cadence
) the world has witnessed the slowly fading of the melodies played by European and North-American nations as France, Italy, and the US perform their last notes and depart from the fashion stage. However, it is unquestionable that the players who have remained on stage have managed to play a louder and more enchanting tune. In such a cluster of performers, Brazil has, over the last decade, garnered an important position as a manufacturing centre for textiles, leathers and other materials essential for the production of garments, shoes and accessories.

Despite the existence of accomplished fashion and footwear labels such as Osklen, Rosa Chá, Pedro Lourenço, and Alexandre Herchcovitch that have successfully muscled their way into international markets, Brazilian fashion has mostly been renowned for producing casual footwear (with brands such as Havaianas, Ipanema and Melissa leading the way), making sexy swimwear for both men and women, and for the outstanding beauty gene that has given models such as Giselle Bündchen or Isabeli Fontana to the world. In spite of this success, on closer inspection, Brazilian fashion and footwear producers have remained behind their counterparts in many countries
when it comes to design innovation, preferring instead to remain avid followers of European and American creativity and trends. However, significant investment in this area over the last decade is now bearing fruits in the form of strong international design platforms created to support manufacturers by stressing the importance of adding a creative dimension to industrial raw potential when exhibiting and selling Brazilian materials and finished products to the world.

One of the creative platforms that Brazil manufacturers have developed to break into international fashion markets is Inspiramais, a dynamic project supported by Assintecal that culminates in two annual fairs that showcase innovative designs and technologies in footwear and leather production. Created in 1984 as an association to bring together Brazilian manufacturers of leather and footwear components, Assintecal decided to invest in the creative dimension of footwear manufacturing by developing Inspiramais. The need to do so was triggered by a massive drop in sales of Brazilian footwear in 1998 and 1999, as a consequence of China having secured powerful contracts with clients that had normally favoured Brazil. 

Walter Rodrigues introducing Inspiramais to international press

Unlike what can be witnessed in Europe or North-America, until recently most Brazilian manufacturers of textiles and footwear components did not seem to understand the need to develop design teams or invest in teaching business skills to their managers
, and this is where consulting platforms such as Inspiramais have started providing a useful formative service. The investment in design and creativity has been a clever one to make Brazil more competitive against countries such as India, Turkey and China, where production of the majority of garments, accessories and footwear for European and American markets takes place.

Led by established fashion designer Walter Rodrigues, the team at Inspiramais has developed tremendous support structures by providing research and development input to Brazilian manufacturers with the intention to generate profitable output. This process is anchored on an appreciation of national sources of inspiration such as indigenous motifs and tropical colours and patterns as Brazil’s unique selling point to the world of design. Today, the decade-old Inspiramais has become a renowned creative platform and forum that celebrates excellence in Brazilian design and innovation. The initiative’s conventions organised biannually in São Paulo now gather over 100 industry participants that adhere to the projects ideas and showcase their practical applications to thousands of visitors.

Despite its very positive dimension, a visit to one of the Inspiramais conventions is not without its surprises for visitors from countries with strong traditions of allying design to production, mostly owing to the pervasive lack of programming and planning across Brazilian industry. However, Inspiramais’s investigative and creative position is not only noble but an essential one that should serve as an inspiration to the world. Anyone who attends one of Inspiramais’s events is able to confirm Brazil’s ambition to develop its role as a contemporary fashion powerhouse when it comes to creative design. In addition to booths where manufacturers show their new products, the exhibition includes workshops by designers and seminars and lectures by influential Brazilian and international speakers on relevant topics such as sustainability or the importance of creative economies.

Without a doubt, the investment in the invaluable knowledge developed and provided by Rodrigues’s team will contribute to the creation of a new generation of educated managers and employees across Brazilian industries responsible for the production of textiles and footwear components. For Europeans and Americans, this is not only an interesting model, but one that should be investigated for its benefits in driving global creative industries towards excellence. In many ways, orchestrating a symphony where diverse creative and manufacturing industries play equally important instruments may ultimately keep the players of the global fashion melody performing in tune for a long time to come.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Matthew Miller Menswear Spring/Summer 2013

We admit that, at The Style Examiner, we have been pleasantly intrigued by the sartorial creations produced by Matthew Miller and have been following the young designer’s career with great interest. As such, when Miller showed his menswear collection for Spring/Summer 2013 on the runway during London Men’s Fashion Week, it was with great delight that we were able to deem it an absolute triumph and consider it, by far, the most accomplished and professional range of menswear that he has ever produced.

A graduate of London’s Royal College of Art and a recipient of the 2010/2011 McArthurGlen Spirit of Fashion Award, Miller was one of the young designers selected by London department store Selfridges for ‘Bright Young Things’ during London Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2011, one of the store’s initiatives to support young talent by inviting designers to decorate a store window with their collections. A month before his display was made public to London shoppers, Miller had presented part of his Autumn/Winter 2011 collection at the British Fashion Council’s London Showrooms in Paris. At this display, he was interviewed (and had his collection photographed) for Italian Vogue. In addition, his designs started featuring in numerous magazines, including Wallpaper*, I-D and Attitude.

At London Collections: Men, Miller introduced his Spring/Summer 2013 collection by stating, with worrying words, that “to create authenticity, beauty has to be destroyed”. He also explained that the prints used throughout the collection came from CCTV imagery of social housing blocks designed during the apogee of Brutalist architecture. However, when the models took to the runway, the audiences sighed with relief at the subtle and highly elegant manner in which the designer was able to convey this message. 

The subtlety of expressed meanings could be seen in garments with the laser-cut names of designers who took part in MAN and NEWGEN initiatives over the years as a fitting tribute to the British fashion industry in the year that it welcomes the inaugural menswear fashion week. In addition, impeccably tailored garments revealed visible extended pleats in the back, suggesting a new vocabulary in the conservative lexicon of men’s sartorial realm. Despite this immense qualitative leap in Miller’s career, it was refreshing to see that the designer did not let go of his trademark features, such as using M33 carabiners (oval-shaped hooks of industrial strength that he has been using over the last few seasons) in jackets and on the back of trousers.

Overall, the collection revealed the influence of a minimalist and monochromatic tradition tinted by functional practicality. Suits were sharply tailored and occasionally deconstructed in the form of sleeveless jackets and fitted shorts, and boxy t-shirts in luxurious fabrics alternated with stylish knitwear and shirting. Adding to this impeccable collection, Miller collaborated with footwear label Oliver Sweeney to develop a range of whole-cut shoes and trainers defined by their unique and unexpected detailing.