Tag: Fashion

05
Jun

Gucci Letter – Words by Cleo Wade

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Words by Cleo Wade

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27
May
25
May

10 Designers From Pratt Institute’s Class of 2020 Share Their Work—And Their Thoughts on Change

Graduation collections from Pratt Institute Class of 2020
Graduation collections from Pratt Institute, Class of 2020 Photos: Courtesy of the designers

None of the usual appointments to review students’ graduation collections could take place this year. Seeing their work is always a highlight of the spring for me; they’re so full of hope, to say nothing of the fact that they’re often exploring issues that are only discussions in the wider industry. These are the creatives who will be leading fashion into the future.

Though the class of 2020 will have to do without the rites of graduation, the 10 members of Pratt Institute’s graduating class I communicated with seemed positive and resilient—that’s not to say that they are wearing rose-colored glasses. They’re committed to sweeping change, and they share a sense of responsibility to make it happen. The issues that are most important to them are sustainability, diversity, gender, and technology. They believe in the importance of personal narrative, community, and craft. And while they might dream big, most are thinking about small-scale endeavors.

Congratulations to Pratt Institute’s class of 2020. Meet 10 of them, here.

pRy Arne Pratt Institutep
Ry Arne, Pratt InstitutePhoto: Courtesy of the designer

pRy Arne Pratt Institutep
Ry Arne, Pratt InstitutePhoto: Courtesy of the designer

Ry Arne, 22, from Springfield, Missouri
What is your mission?
To explore what clothes can be and how they can liberate gender expression. My graduate collection came from a personal exploration of gender identity and childhood fantasy. I wanted to create my own personal dress-up collection inspired by my childhood dreams of playing a princess and my desire and interest in having a flat chest.

How does the industry need to change to move forward?
Fashion needs to look at the groups of people it currently excludes. It’s an art form we all participate in, and the clothes need to reflect that. Now more than ever is a great time to dissolve binary-based clothing and explore what possibilities that opens up for the medium itself and for those who wish to participate and express themselves with it.

pCornelia Borgerhoff Pratt Institutep
Cornelia Borgerhoff, Pratt InstitutePhoto: Courtesy of the designer

Cornelia Borgerhoff, 22, from Philadelphia
What is your mission in fashion?
I am a young black woman who grew up in a predominately white environment. Through my work, I give myself permission to break down some of the more complicated experiences of my past. [My mission is] connecting people through art. I want my audience to view the stories within my work and from there, hopefully, see others, or themselves, in a new light.

How does the industry need to change to move forward?
It needs to showcase more voices. Designers of color need to be seen, and not just because they are fulfilling some diversity quota. Designing clothes for the sake of it is not enough anymore. By giving a bigger platform to diverse voices, I think the industry could reach far more people.

pXinzi Cui Pratt Institutep
Xinzi Cui, Pratt InstitutePhoto: Courtesy of the designer

pXinzi Cui Pratt Institutep
Xinzi Cui, Pratt InstitutePhoto: Courtesy of the designer

Xinzi Cui, 25, from Beijing

What is your mission in fashion?
To learn the essence from the past and apply it to future development. We should focus more on the sustainability of the future fashion industry by cooperating with technology.

How does the industry need to change to move forward?
I believe that small-scale workshops should be one of the major developments in the future of fashion. From the perspective of design, styling and creativity would still be a priority. Meanwhile, we could also focus on function and durability of the product with the help of technology.

pJuliana Gogol Pratt Institutep
Juliana Gogol, Pratt InstitutePhoto: Courtesy of the designer

Juliana Gogol, 22, from Kansas City, Missouri
What is your mission in fashion?
I aim to provide a sense of comfort for the wearer. Much of my work focuses on feelings of nostalgia, familiarity, and finding a home as well as the exploration of domestic material processes like hand-weaving, knitting, dyeing, and embroidery. I believe that the more time is spent creating a garment, the more good feeling and energy is eventually passed on to the wearer.

How does the industry need to change to move forward?
To encourage “slow fashion” via a renaissance of people engaging with fashion in a more hands-on way. Most people see a $200 jacket and don’t see the research, design development, or hours and hours of skilled craftwork that went into it. Perhaps a meaningful way to “slow down” the fashion system would be to raise consumer awareness of the process and people involved in making the clothes they buy, or even to facilitate consumer participation via D.I.Y. modifications or styling choices. In other times of crisis, we’ve seen everyday people making their own clothes, planting their own gardens, and making do with what they have—why not now?

pOlivia Rose Harris Pratt Institutep
Olivia Rose Harris, Pratt InstitutePhoto: Courtesy of the designer

pOlivia Rose Harris Pratt Institutep
Olivia Rose Harris, Pratt InstitutePhoto: Courtesy of the designer

Olivia Rose Harris, 22, from Sanibel Island, Florida
What is your mission in fashion?
To dress the world in head-to-toe, unconventional knitwear. As a “women’s craft” historically, knitting goes hand in hand with the stories I tell.

 

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11
May

Top TC Creatives Capsule S/S 2020 Style/Mode

Photography: Lauren Krysti  –  Styling: Claire Neviaser 

 Model: Dana Johnson  –  Hair/Makeup: Fatima Olive

Minnesota Monthly: 7 Spring Fashion Looks That Embrace Color

Model: Dana Johnson; Hair and Makeup: Fatima Olive

PHOTO BY LAUREN KRYSTI/STYLED BY CLAIRE NEVIASER

Kinds of Blue

Monse blouse, $296, Akris Punto pants, $595, and Rebecca Minkoff purse, $298, Nordstrom – Mall of America

Alevi Milano heels, $752, shopbop.com

Model: Dana Johnson; Hair and Makeup: Fatima Olive

Model: Dana Johnson; Hair and Makeup: Fatima Olive

PHOTO BY LAUREN KRYSTI/STYLED BY CLAIRE NEVIASER

Sweet Green

Diff Eyewear sunglasses $85, Nordstrom – Mall of America

Short pearl earring $5, Urban Outfitters

Long pearl earring $58, Anthropologie

Mara Hoffman “Edmonia” dress $650, shopbop.com

Model: Dana Johnson; Hair and Makeup: Fatima Olive

Model: Dana Johnson; Hair and Makeup: Fatima Olive

PHOTO BY LAUREN KRYSTI/STYLED BY CLAIRE NEVIASER

Witty in Pink

Celina Kane “Amphora No. 3” hat, $650 (and read our profile on the fantastical hats of Celina Kane)

Silver hoop earrings, $10, Urban Outfitters

IORANE bodysuit, $330, shopbop.com

Eliza J pants, $128, Nordstrom – Mall of America

Model: Dana Johnson; Hair and Makeup: Fatima Olive
Model: Dana Johnson; Hair and Makeup: Fatima Olive

PHOTO BY LAUREN KRYSTI/STYLED BY CLAIRE NEVIASER

Lilac View

MSGM dress, $440, and Jeffrey Campbell “Fluxx” sandals, $130, shopbop.com

Sunglasses, $10, Urban Outfitters

Model: Dana Johnson; Hair and Makeup: Fatima Olive
Model: Dana Johnson; Hair and Makeup: Fatima Olive

PHOTO BY LAUREN KRYSTI/STYLED BY CLAIRE NEVIASER

Stay Yellow

Celina Kane “Fusilli” hat, $650

Pearl drop earrings, $10, Target

Rhode “Ella” dress, $375, shopbop.com

Manolo Blahnik ”Maysalebi” mules, $745, Nordstrom – Mall of America

Model: Dana Johnson; Hair and Makeup: Fatima Olive
Model: Dana Johnson; Hair and Makeup: Fatima Olive

PHOTO BY LAUREN KRYSTI/STYLED BY CLAIRE NEVIASER

Big Red

Madewell earrings, $32, Veronica Beard blazer, $645, Rag & Bone mockneck, $195, and Habitual pants, $158, Nordstrom – Mall of America

Model: Dana Johnson; Hair and Makeup: Fatima Olive

Model: Dana Johnson; Hair and Makeup: Fatima Olive

PHOTO BY LAUREN KRYSTI/STYLED BY CLAIRE NEVIASER

Wear White

Tibi blazer, $595, and Rag & Bone pants, $295, Nordstrom – Mall of America

Rhinestone earrings $20, Free People

Tie dye socks $10, Urban Outfitters

MoMA “Color Wheel” umbrella, $50, store.moma.org

 

by Minnesota Monthly

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04
May

Their Instagram feeds might look glossy and curated, but in real life, artists are vulnerable and scrambling for work.

This past February, like so many others in her 25 years as a freelance makeup artist, Rachel Goodwin boarded a plane from LAX to Paris with a 50-pound bag of makeup and a calendar full of Fashion Week gigs. “By the time I got there, it was like the whole world had changed,” she tells Refinery29. “The Louvre was being shut down, my clients were not going to the shows, and I was getting on a plane to come home because of COVID,” she says. “My world has not been the same since.”

Like many in service-based industries — which make up 25% of the U.S. work force and employ more women than men — Hollywood’s leading makeup artists, hairstylists, and nail professionals have become unemployed virtually overnight as a result of the pandemic. Freelance celebrity hair colorist Cassondra Kaeding, who had just started working with Kylie Jenner, says her entire calendar was wiped clean in an instant. “If our clients aren’t working, we’re not working,” Kaeding says. Hairstylist Jenny Cho had just wrapped an in-salon training in London, worked with Lucy Boynton for the Chloé show during Paris Fashion Week, and finished an ad campaign with Ana de Armas before making it out of Spain right as travel advisories were being put into place. “I literally got home in the nick of time,” she says.
PHOTO: COURTESY OF JO BAKER
Makeup artist Jo Baker, hairstylist Jenny Cho, and stylist Leith Clark were in Paris with their celebrity client Lucy Boynton days before the city starting shutting down to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Whether Kylie has fresh highlights or a glittery Fashion Week party gets cancelled might seem trivial in a time of international crisis — especially when it’s easy to confuse the lifestyles of glam squads with those of the celebrities they serve. But outside of the flawless last looks and BTS images they post on Instagram, there’s a lot to the job we don’t see. “What’s shown on social media is definitely curated,” Cho says. What’s not pictured: a schedule that can change on a whim, 4 a.m. call times, jet lag, and long days away from family — all for less compensation than one might imagine. “I love my job,” Cho says. “But it’s not as easy and as glamorous as people may think.”

_______________________________

The Real Cost Of Celebrity Beauty

The truth is, despite its glossy veneer, the job of a Hollywood beauty pro is closer to that of a gig worker: If there’s no one to serve, there’s no work — and no job security, either. “No matter how fabulous the venue, the client, or the event, freelance is freelance and that means you’re unemployed until you’re employed,” says makeup artist Tasha Reiko Brown, whose clients include Logan Browning and Tracee Ellis Ross.
Freelance beauty pros are typically paid between 30 to 90 days after completing a job and in one lump sum from which they draw their own salary after paying out-of-pocket for health, liability, and disability insurance, retirement, 401K contributions, agency fees, assistant fees, taxes, and supplies like foundation, brushes, and hairspray. “When people hear our rates, what they don’t understand is that freelance artists are on our own. So what we make at the end of the day is not what it sounds like,” Goodwin says. “There’s a misnomer that it’s a big glamorous career, and it is, but it’s also feast or famine. We’re very vulnerable because we don’t get a normal paycheck. There are people who won’t be able to pay their rent in this unpredictable climate.”
PHOTO: COURTESY OF RACHEL GOODWIN
Rachel Goodwin, longtime makeup artist to Emma Stone, says freelance celebrity makeup artists are more vulnerable because they’re not part of an organized union like on-set artists who work in film and teleivision.
As both Goodwin and makeup artist Fiona Stiles point out, the COVID-19 outbreak has exposed other cracks in their sector of the industry. “Makeup artists and hairstylists in the film industry are more protected because they have a union,” says Goodwin, who works with actors like Emma Stone and January Jones. “Our part of the business has never had it and I’ve always wanted there to be one, but there’s just never enough momentum, seemingly, forpeople to get behind it.”
Even before COVID-19 put an abrupt end to the movie premieres, photoshoots, press junkets, and galas that kept Hollywood’s glam teams earning a steady income, many artists in the industry had already taken financial hits with a changing landscape. In the 2008 financial crisis, rates were slashed to a quarter of what they once were and have never fully recovered, according to Goodwin. Meanwhile, a surge of young talent who are looking to break into the industry and willing to work for less has congested the field and stymied rates. “There are artists who will fly themselves to LA or to Paris during Fashion Week or to France for Cannes to make themselves available wherever the clients are going,” notes freelance hairstylist Lacy Redway, whose clients include Tessa Thompson and Zazie Beetz.
It’s a precedent that can trickle up to seasoned pros, who are expected to occasionally pay out of pocket to keep a client on their books. “Since the 2008 economic disaster, studios have cut budgets so low that they sometimes ask us to pay for travel ourselves or to crash at a friend’s house like we’re 19 years old, but I try not to do that,” Cho says. Collecting frequent flyer miles can help lift the burden, but that doesn’t always cover it. Sometimes, celebrity clients split the difference.
PHOTO: COURTESY OF RACHEL GOODWIN
Goodwin, seen here with Brie Larson, says she’s banked enough savings to get by for a few months, but worries about emerging freelance artists who don’t have a safety net.

____________________________________

Financial Worry Despite Fiscal Responsibility

In some ways, the fluid and unstable nature of freelance artistry in beauty has better prepared veteran artists and stylists for the type of sudden fallout that many gig economy workers are facing due to the coronavirus. All the pros we talked to for this story have stacked savings to draw from while they’re out of work — in this case, because of a pandemic. “When I first got into this business, I was told to save my money and be able to position myself to where I had a six-month fund because you want to ride out times when your loyal clients aren’t working. Even without COVID, you can have a dry spell, so you have to be the kind of person who thinks ahead and doesn’t live beyond your means,” Goodwin says.
A healthy war chest built to cover a few months of expenses can help ease the pressure of sudden job loss, but the unpredictable nature of the pandemic is worrying even the most prepared of professionals. “It’s an emotional rollercoaster,” says Redway about her concerns brought on by the shutdown. “It leaves artists and creatives in such an uncertain place because we don’t know when we’re going to be able to go back to work. We work in such an intimate way with talent — we’re touching their faces, hair, and nails constantly. After the ban is lifted, when will people be comfortable with having other people touching them in that way?”
PHOTO: COURTESY OF JO BAKER
Right before COVID-19 became a threat, hairstylist Jenny Cho had a calendar of Fashion Week events with actress Lucy Boynton.
In the meantime, there is something of a life raft being thrown to freelance artists and other gig workers, who are now able to apply for unemployment benefits through the CARES Act. Some brands, including SuperGreat, are paying makeup artists their day rate to create online tutorials. Other organizations, like the Professional Beauty Association, are trying to rally grassroots financial relief efforts to support artists.
But it’s not enough, and many are still left waiting and wondering what the future will hold. “I’m definitely worried about what’s going to happen,” notes Cho, who had just closed escrow on a new home when the shutdown hit and has a family to support. “I applied for unemployment and am waiting for it to show up. It’s not a lot, but it’s something.” For her part, makeup artist Emily Cheng is looking into enrolling as well.
It’s not just those with dependents who face additional challenges to making ends meet at a time when work has flatlined. As Goodwin acknowledges, freelance artists still establishing themselves in their careers might not have had the privilege of stacking an emergency fund. “The artists I feel bad for right now are the ones who are just starting because they haven’t been able to build up and establish themselves,” she says. “If I was two or three years in, this could be a roadblock I may not be able to get by.”
________________________________
The Instagram Economy
Queenie Nguyen is an LA-based nail stylist who works with both private and celebrity clients. Last year, after more than 10 years in the salon sector, she made the switch to working with talent. Since then, she has impressively grown her portfolio, not only by gaining agency representation and working with stars like Halsey and Soirse Ronan, but also by building a modest following on Instagram. Though she says she has some savings to draw from, she couldn’t have prepared for the sudden and massive fallout from the coronavirus. The nail stylist is working to drum up brand partnerships on Instagram. But she also recently signed up to be a Postmates delivery driver a few times a week in order to cover the cost of her grocery bills.
PHOTO: COURTESY OF CASSONDRA KAEDING
Hair colorist Cassondra Kaeding mixes up custom color kits for her longtime clients, as well as new customers she’s gained through Instagram.
Because the app allows her to pick her shifts, she’s able to prioritize nail-focused opportunities as they come up. “If I have a collaboration with a brand or a set Instagram Live, then I can make sure to be there for that,” she says. She’s already partnered with a beauty brand on a DIY video since the shutdown and is working to do more. “I don’t really make a lot of money from this. It’s just for the exposure, so that when this is over, I’ll have more work,” she says.
Kaeding, who splits her time between working with celebrity clients and in a salon, has found her own unexpected revenue stream in quarantine. Right when her salon was closing, the colorist made moves to stock up on supplies. “I thought, Maybe I can do something for my clients,” she says. She landed on making at-home hair color kits to help clients keep up their color while self isolating.
The endeavor has earned her a little extra cash, and connected her more closely with her regulars as well as new clients from all over the country. “It broadens my horizons and it’s cool to see people so happy and excited when they’re able to do color themselves,” she says. “Before, I worked so many hours that I was never able to brainstorm and come up with ideas. But this has got my wheels turning. Maybe this is something that I can continue to do later down the road for people who can’t come to me.” In addition to mixing $110 custom-color kits for customers on Instagram, Kaeding is working on creating a website to make ordering more seamless.
PHOTO: COURTESY OF HANG NGUYEN
Nail artist Hang Nguyen, who is nine months pregnant, creates custom nail decals at home — a small source of income for her now that red-carpet work has stopped.
Nguyen and Kaeding aren’t the only artists taking to Instagram to share their skills. Despite increasingly dire circumstances, there’s never been a better time to get beauty advice straight from Hollywood pros who are typically too slammed with their day jobs to engage online. Makeup artist Reiko Brown has partnered with brands like BeautyBlender and Kevyn Aucoin for tutorials and Q+As. “It’s keeping me creative,” she says. “There’s times that I can’t do something like this because we have back-to-back press junkets and I don’t have time to do a how-to or beauty breakdown. Now I have time. I’m going more in depth and sharing a lot of knowledge. That feels good, and the response has been amazing.”
For artists who have no other subject to work on, this unique time is pushing their skills in new directions. “Personally, I’ve never wanted to be in front of the camera, but it’s not like I have anyone else to do makeup on, and I miss it so much that this has encouraged me to think about getting a little more personal and showing my personality off a little bit,” says makeup artist Emily Cheng, who works with Yara Shahidi, Laura Harrier and Julia Garner.
PHOTO: COURTESY OF JENNY CHO
Cho is trying to build an office in her new home for freelance work, while serving as a caretaker for her four-year-old son.
Other artists are using this time to focus on content to deepen connections in the beauty community and inspire their followers. As co-founder of the forthcoming Makeup Museum, Goodwin is working to create online content around its #generationsofbeauty campaign. On her own platform, she’s creating an IGTV series called “State of the Art” for burgeoning industry pros. Redway is also offering her services wherever they’re needed. “At the beginning of this, I started to question whether or not I should post on social media because I was starting to feel like what I did wasn’t as valuable and important as a nurse, a doctor, or other people on the front lines,” Redway says. “People are suffering or losing family members and don’t know how they’re going to pay their next bill. If me showing them how to do an updo or twist-out at home is beneficial to them, then I’m happy to get on that Zoom call and do it for free.”
Instagram and brand sponsorships can help provide some income for artists, but they’re typically reserved for those with an established social media presence, which can take years to build. Let’s not forget that artists are also just doing their best to survive during a traumatic time. Hang Nguyen, a nail stylist who works with Jennifer Garner and Emma Roberts, is expecting her third child any day. Though she does have some income thanks to collaborations with nail companies, she’s most concerned with staying healthy. Cho is thinking about creating her dream product line in between unpacking boxes in her new home and homeschooling her four-year-old kid. Like countless other working women, moms like Goodwin, Redway, and Stiles are suddenly taking on the role of primary educator.
PHOTO: COURTESY OF FIONA STILES
Makeup artist Fiona Stiles says juggling homeschooling and her small business is nearly impossible.
“For parents, you’re suddenly a chef and full-time teacher and parent. I have zero time. I’m trying to figure out how to do second grade math and still run Reed Clarke,” Stiles says of her ecommerce beauty site. “When am I going to have time to do a YouTube video? This is not a creative moment for a lot of us. It’s just a lot of extra doing.”

From Hands-On To Hands-Off

No matter how slammed Stiles is with her quadrupled workload, she can’t help but think about how the process of executing a red-carpet look is going to change moving forward. The veteran artist has been hyper vigilant about sanitation and preventing contamination since day one. She washes her hands, uses sanitizer constantly, and deep cleans her tools after every use.
But like other celebrated makeup artists in the business, Stiles, who works with Zoey Deutch and Gabrielle Union, typically uses her fingers to tap and blend cream blushes, lipsticks, and other makeup products onto her clients’ skin. “My fingers are a big part of my toolkit. I mix colors on the back of my hand to get a custom lipstick shade or to see what the chemical reaction of a product on the skin will be before I put it on someone.What used to be an asset — my hands, my fingers — are slightly weaponized,” she says.
PHOTO: COURTESH OF BASIA BOWENS
Makeup artist Tasha Reiko Brown, who works with Letitia Wright, says doing makeup in Hollywood will change forever after COVID-19.
Adjustments will have to be made, she says. “Moving forward I’ll have to figure out how to mix colors and products in a way that doesn’t include contact with my skin. It’s going to be interesting to pick an intuitive part of doing makeup and adjust it to a more systematic way of touching a product.”
Celebrity nail stylists may already wear protective gloves and masks, but Nguyen thinks pros will have to rethink how certain products, like dip powders, are used. Redway pictures a scenario in which every member of a glam team wears masks while working. She’s also considering whether gloves will need to be worn when touching the scalp while braiding hair. How will they not rip or cause static cling? “Someone may have to create a glove that feels like human touch,” she says.
It’s hard to imagine when Hollywood glam teams will get back to work, much less how. “Some people have clients who only do performances, and we know we’re not going to be in packed amphitheaters anytime soon. With movies, I don’t know what press junkets will look like moving forward,” Reiko Brown says. “I do know the dust will settle and nothing will go back to normal. We’ll have a new normal, but the industry will hold. We’ll adapt to survive.”
PHOTO: COURTESY OF HANG NGYUEN
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25
Apr
 Highsnobiety / Eva Al Desnudo

Highsnobiety Q1 is the first in a series of quarterly insights weeks dedicated to the business behind youth culture and what makes our market tick. For full Q1 coverage, head over to our Q1 hub.

The fashion industry as we knew it no longer exists.

As global financial markets tumble, non-essential services close their doors around the world, and citizens are under government directives to self-isolate, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought humankind to a standstill. In fashion, brands have experienced immediate shocks to their supply chains and sales, luxury goods conglomerates stocks are down, and retailers struggle to keep workers on a payroll. At large, the luxury market is likely to lose between $65 to $75 billion in sales this year, according to a report launched last week by Bain & Company.

Around the world, fashion weeks are canceled, postponed, or going virtual. From London to Milan and Paris to New York, designers and fashion governing bodies are already exploring alternatives to navigate the unprecedented and precarious moment.

In retail, online sales growth is sharply down, while brick-and-mortar stores — still the biggest revenue drivers of most brands — have closed their doors for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, brands are scrambling to circumnavigate shocks to their supply chains, resulting in delivery delays. Then there are the extended quarantines, travel bans, and lower consumer spending that reduce demand, likely creating recessions throughout the remainder of the year and possibly trickling into 2021.

While the industry has managed to mobilize under the guise of working from home, there appears to be no end in sight for the public health emergency, despite early signs of a rebound in Asian markets. So what becomes of fashion in the wake of the coronavirus? We asked industry pioneers across design, buying and merchandising, public relations and communications, and consultancy to forecast the future of fashion – here’s what they had to say.

Fashion Month

 Highsnobiety / Eva Al Desnudo

With men’s fashion week, couture, and cruise shows — intended to take place during the summer months — cancelled, will the ongoing pandemic force the industry to rethink fashion week? Does traveling the globe year-round to watch fashion shows in confined spaces make sense anymore? Tokyo, Shanghai, and Moscow have already explored alternatives with virtual format live-streaming shows. In February, Milan Fashion Week’s organizers offered a similar proposition with an access-all-areas style virtual fashion week that garnered 16 million viewers on Tencent and 9 million on Weibo in China. In September, they plan on taking the vision worldwide. While a virtual fashion week is likely, Copenhagen Fashion Week’s organizers are intent on showcasing in the first August, stating it “can and must take place.” Therein lies the much-debated tension between physical and virtual experiences.

Steven Kolb, President and CEO of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA)

“I am not sure that we know what the future holds but this is a reset moment. It’s too soon to know what the structure of Spring/Summer 2021 will look like. The impact of COVID-19 is changing daily. I imagine there will be shows, but not like we’ve known them to be. They will probably be more local and have smaller scale productions. Will international attendees want to travel? And will production teams have time to build ideas? Our industry was already evaluating the show concept. Before the pandemic hit, we had begun a study with Boston Consulting Group on how to make fashion weeks more sustainable. There’s a connection here that makes the study even more relevant.”

Carlo Capasa, President of Camera Nazionale della Moda

“We took the decision to postpone the men’s shows in June because cancelling them was too tough on that side of the industry — men’s is incredibly important in Italy. In February, when we thought a lot about the Chinese fashion industry not making it to Milan Fashion Week, we offered a virtual fashion week on Tencent (streaming live shows) and Weibo (all other content). We’re going to do the same next season but around the world. However, it only works well if you have a physical fashion week behind it. I don’t think a virtual fashion week will ever replace a real fashion week, but they’re both complementary.”

Lucien Pagès, founder of Lucien Pagès Communication

“It’s too early to be sure how it will change — we’re still under shock. But people will want to survive this first before changing their philosophy. We can take the crisis as a signal there’s too much. There’s too much stuff, we travel too much, we make too many clothes, and we need to slow down. Brands who were struggling might disappear, especially independent and young designers. It could change the map of fashion. Big brands might want to get back to business but it’s a question of how long this goes on for.”

Alexander Werz, Co-CEO of Karla Otto

“This crisis is unprecedented and therefore it’s difficult to foresee how the industry will change exactly and the impact on marketing strategies and approach towards shows and events. The benefits of offline experiences are undoubtedly unchanged. They’ll remain a powerful vehicle for a more personalized interaction with clients, a great way to connect with the media, and an important piece of content that influencer marketing relies upon. Going forward, [fashion weeks] will need to be approached more strategically and also in a more nimble manner.”

Christopher Peters, designer of CDLM

“In all honesty, I’m not sure if there will be a fashion week following coronavirus. I feel like a lot of designers (as well as stores and magazines) are probably going to go under. It will take a bit of time for things to stabilize and I imagine there are going to be far less players coming out of it on the other side; maybe all the respective fashion weeks will be centralized in a single city, such as Paris.”

Bethany Williams, designer

“I don’t think we can go back to business as usual. I had planned a takeover of the courtyard at Somerset House, a participatory project involving the public which would demystify fashion. The public could get involved on some level of the creation of something. For me, I work more on special projects like this that are about bringing people together.”

Nicholas Daley, designer

“For me, it’s about the cross-pollination of ideas from poetry readings to live musicians at shows, friends working on mixes of live recordings. I’m going to continue to explore things with the network and community around me, it’s more diverse than working on your own. These things could be amplified now that the focus might be on digital and there could be no big gatherings, or brands can’t afford to show. It allows us to push creativity through different channels.”

Spencer Phipps, designer of Phipps

“I think it’s time to do a really cool lookbook, a video, maybe even virtual reality, that way everyone can be part of it. It’s opening up the democracy aspect of the industry. I’m weirdly excited: it’s forcing us to have a lot of conversations around needing to travel and the structure of our business. It might be time to test these theories.”

Holli Rogers, CEO of Browns and Chief Brand Officer of Farfetch

“Undeniably [fashion month] will be virtual — this will come in many guises. The buying side of the process had already started moving into this space after what happened in Paris and Milan recently; it has been very ad hoc, though, with a multitude of quick learnings. But as many brands have already cancelled their June shows and showrooms, this virtual experience will most definitely play a significant role in both the presentation side as well as how we operate as buyers. I expect we will witness some quick turnarounds in technology and innovation as the industry bands together with this opportunity to reinvent. The whole process is so sensorial — so this is going to be a major shift that will be felt industry-wide.”

Priya Ahluwalia, designer of Ahluwalia

“I love doing shows, there’s no other feeling for me so it’s gutting fashion week isn’t going ahead. But I miss it in a personal way, and for the greater good, it’s redundant what I feel personally. I’m going to use this time to be creative, to develop in-depth research, because my time before was usually consumed by production. I think this could allow me to produce my best work.”

Giacomo Piazza, co-founder 274 showroom

“The entire timeline of fashion is at stake and needs to be reorganized. People’s lifestyle has radically changed in the past 100 days and we need to adapt to a new way to conduct our social relationships for the months to come. This will have a huge impact on collections designed 6 months ago when the world looked very very different.”

Supply Chain

 Highsnobiety / Stefano Carloni

One of the primary challenges for fashion designers — and in turn their stores — to overcome is the immediate shock to their supply chain. As factories have shut their doors temporarily and the procurement of raw materials and components to produce collections becomes more difficult, a brand’s ability to meet its deadlines and deliver Pre-Fall and Fall/Winter 2020 orders to stores by June and July. Consequently, they’re left scrambling to mitigate the impact not only to production but cashflow and their future. Some smaller brands have nimbly adapted to the situation, revealing the effect isn’t too grave, while others admit production has been ground to a halt.

Holli Rogers, CEO of Browns and Chief Brand Officer of Farfetch

“Browns was founded on up-and-coming brands and new talent, and it’s all the more important that we support them however we can. With that, we have taken the decision not to cancel our Fall/Winter 2020 orders and will work with the brands on managing the flow of goods and messaging around this; which will be critical storytelling for the season ahead. Quite honestly we’re taking a lot of this day by day as the terrain keeps shifting, and are here to talk, listen, and find solutions alongside our partners.”

Stefano Martinetto, CEO and co-founder of Tomorrow London Ltd

“My guess is as good as everyone else’s. It might expire in a few days, like yogurt. I like to think long-term, and by nature I’m optimistic, so I’m trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The main impact on Pre-Fall and Fall/Winter production is the shutdown in Italy, which has stopped the manufacturing process. If production stops for two weeks, there’ll be a month delay. If it stops for more than two weeks, it will be a two-month delay.”

Luca Solca, Senior Research Analyst at Global Luxury Goods, Bernstein

“Depending on the duration of the lockdown, this is likely to cause financial strain to suppliers and subcontractors. We expect this will accelerate the upstream consolidation trend we have seen in recent years. Bigger brands will have deeper pockets to secure their sourcing, and go the way that Hermès, Chanel, and LVMH have gone: higher direct involvement in manufacturing.”

Bethany Williams, designer

“We work with social manufacturing projects on the production of the collection. After Monday, everything closed. We can’t do anything. The recycling plants are only doing bulk deliveries and they can’t sort the waste, which means we can’t get our materials. Our print studio in Peckham closed. Our manufacturer in north London closed. Downview Prison shut their social projects. Our production facility in Italy is still working but it’s under lockdown. Nobody from the outside world can enter.”

Sofia Prantera, founder of Aries

“We have a very tight supply chain with a loyal manufacturing base. I’m moved by the resourcefulness, support, and resilience of our Italian factories. I think the real impact for us will show in the coming months and we’re now looking at strategies to make sure we’re ready to implement changes and alleviate any negative impact on suppliers who rely on our business. However, I don’t believe it will impact our pricing structure at this point, as our volumes are comparatively small.”

Giacomo Piazza, co-founder 274 showroom

“The supply chain right now is in survival mode. We’ll see 30 to 40 percent of the fashion industry go out of business, unless brands, suppliers, retailers and institutions will come together as one. Its a domino effect and there will be a lot of natural selection. But I also hope there will be lots of acts of solidarity. I still have hope for our world.”

Steven Kolb, President and CEO of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA)

“The big shock will be felt with the pre-collections, which are only months away. It is going to be a challenge. Factories are closed. We’re social distancing. Fabrics can’t be shipped. Will buyers be ready? These are questions that we need to answer.”

Nicholas Daley, designer

“Everyone is in the same position, trying to minimize the cost and impact of the current situation and the effect it has on supply chains. But I think working under pressure brings out the best in people. Problem-solving is one of our greatest skills; we’ve been doing it since the dawn of time, and that ingenuity will hopefully get us through.”

Pierre Mahéo, creative director of Officine Générale

“Everything is on hold right now, because we manufacture the collection entirely in Europe, and all our facilities are closed. The mills in Italy have stopped working, 80 percent of our factories in Portugal have stopped working. We just have to make sure everything is ready for when they start again. It’s difficult to know if stores are going to stay in business, and there’s going to be a huge disruption to the calendar, but we can focus on our flagship stores.”

Spencer Phipps, designer of Phipps

“There’s going to be some delays with order deliveries, but it’s understood by everybody. We produce in Italy, which isn’t happening anymore, but we just got our prototypes the day before lockdown. But we’re kind of okay — we’re small and flexible, there’s been minimal cancellations, and no huge dramas on the supply chains, so we’re not scrambling.”

Consumption

 Highsnobiety / Eva Al Desnudo

Consumer behavior is under threat as retailers and e-commerce sites, under government directives, have been forced to close in light of the global pandemic. Shopfronts across the globe are boarded up, while online retailers merely allow customers to add items to their wish lists as distribution outlets cease operations. In the UK, IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers, stated that online retail sales growth was down by 2.2 percent year-on-year, while clothing saw its sales plummet by 26.7 percent year-on-year (by 22 percent week-on-week).

While the Western world grapples with new realities, stores in China have started to slowly reopen their doors. Whether or not consumer behavior will continue to follow the trends of the past or if they’ll shift their thinking with onset recessionary periods in mind remains to reveal itself. Experts forecast with mixed reactions.

Luca Solca, Senior Research Analyst, Global Luxury Goods at Bernstein

“We expect a drop of at least 25 percent in the first half of 2020 — likely more than that if the lockdown in Europe and the USA continues into the second quarter of 2020. The second half of 2020 may see a fast rebound, if a solution to Covid-19 is found, and the support from central banks and governments is effective. Or it could see a further significant decline, if it’s not.”

Christopher Peters, designer of CDLM

“People are going to be really broke. I don’t know a single person that isn’t worried about the possibility of going bankrupt. Fashion isn’t on the top of your mind when you can’t pay rent.”

Bethany Williams, designer

“With small businesses, the customer has massive power: they’re oxygen to that business. Hopefully, when this is all over, people won’t want to support brands that take advantage of people all over the world and think about who they want to give oxygen too.”

Stefano Martinetto, CEO and Co-founder of Tomorrow London Ltd

“The next part is critical as we have a sense of responsibility to protect independent and younger designers. If retailers give them more time, they will be rewarded with a product that is more honest and has more integrity.”

Pierre Mahéo, creative director of Officine Générale

“I hope we will not go back to where we were. I’ve been fighting for buying less but buying better. I think it will allow for better quality products, which are better for the wallet and the world. I hope there’s going to be a shift in how customers are going to buy when we’re back on track, but we are human; maybe we will go back to normal.”

Remington Guest and Heather Haber, founders of Advisory Board Crystals

“Consumer behavior can change, but the question is, will it? One thing is for sure, we have all been taking everything for granted. It will come down to humanity’s ability to follow through. At Abc., we always push and move in the direction of change — a lot of that comes from questioning the systems that are already in place and working to not only change them, but replace them entirely.”

Priya Ahluwalia, designer of Ahluwalia

“It’s not helpful to consider consumers as a big group of one kind of person, because people have different lives and spending power. Some people will go back to normal and others won’t. This pandemic panic buying shows that people are not being thoughtful about their buying, not for the greater good. I hope this changes a few minds, that would be better than nothing.”

Wilson Oryema, writer and multidisciplinary artist

“I think there could be an increase in and support of local production, with global transport systems hugely affected by the situation. For a lot of places, this was already on the cards. There could be more purchasing from smaller retailers and brands, or else people will probably go to large brands. The system is so strongly held in place.”

Nicholas Daley, designer

“There could be a shift in consumer behavior. People might be in a different financial situation and will want to look closer at what they’re buying and think ‘do I need to buy this? Is it necessary?’ and people will find it hard to justify blowing their savings on another $2,000 designer jacket.”

Creative Solutions

 Highsnobiety / Eva Al Desnudo

As we collectively steer towards another week in self-isolation, the world has pressed a veritable pause on most people’s lives, both personally and professionally. Within this, there’s an opportunity. Fashion, an industry so consumed with its pace and what comes next, is at a standstill. Its creatives, for once, have a chance to breathe and think clearly. The prognosis for the future of fashion is as of yet unclear, though signs point to an opportunity to radically rethink an industry whose modes of operation seem increasingly outdated with each passing day. Could the Coronavirus bring forth an entirely new fashion industry?

Christopher Peters, designer of CDLM

“It’s probably a good time for independent designers who can continue to make work through this period and get their work online. There’s greater potential visibility with fewer designers to contend with, as well as an audience that’s living virtually.”

Lucien Pagès, founder of Lucien Pagès Communication

“People are more connected. They have time to call a friend, to discuss things, and a real exchange could emerge, not like before when you could just call people back but not have a real exchange. When the exchange is deeper, people can be more productive. However, this is a worldwide crisis, the solution has to be collective. We cannot be alone, we can only do things together.”

Wilson Oryema, writer and multidisciplinary artist

“We react differently in times of crisis, depending on our environment. In terms of fashion, there could be a slowdown, but for others, it could be like putting rocket fuel into them. This moment is like a spring cleaning of sorts, and hopefully we’re left with being the most productive and efficient we can be. While it’s not going to be good for everyone, it could be of great benefit for the creative industries.”

Sofia Prantera, founder of Aries

“Struggle is often a catalyst for creativity, although creative industries could suffer greatly as a result of it. As an individual, I believe it’s a good time to re-evaluate strategies and apply creative minds to find different solutions to ongoing global issues. This crisis is exposing the dangers our capitalist way of living will face if health services and not-for-profit scientific research are neglected further. We should see this as an opportunity to re-think the way our society values monetary gains over everything else.”

Spencer Phipps, designer of Phipps

“There’s going to be a huge shift in mentality from consumer practices to how brands communicate with them.”

Remington Guest and Heather Haber, founders of Advisory Board Crystals

“We wouldn’t call it an opportunity for the industry, but more of a forced change. This touches on what we said above. Everyone will have to change. This pandemic is really unlike anything the world has faced before, in the sense that it’s one of the few issues that truly unites humanity. Abc. has always operated in such a way that spoke to all of the questions being raised now.”

Alexander Werz, Co-CEO of Karla Otto

“Crisis always provokes creativity. The entire industry is impacted and challenged to adapt to a new situation and needs to rethink its status quo. As a communication agency, we rethink and rewrite strategies, run deeper and precise analytics on market and customer needs, and adapt approaches accordingly, develop engaging social media campaigns, embrace classic non-seasonal products, maximize existing assets — just to name but a few examples. Creativity and collaboration are key in this situation and we hope this isn’t just a short-term crisis trend.”

Holli Rogers, CEO of Browns and Chief Brand Officer of Farfetch

“I always try to be an optimist and see the good in difficult situations. Reshaping the cycle is absolutely a knock-on effect that I feel will be inevitable and much needed. I feel it will be important to get together as an industry and discuss what in the luxury arena would make sense or perhaps not make sense, but we need to do this together. In my wildest dreams, I would never have expected this devastation to hit us all globally and almost simultaneously; we’re having to think in ways no one ever has. Ultimately, this is what will lead us to new opportunities.”

By in 

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10
Apr

How fashion’s post-pandemic future could be digital

Per Götesson SS20 Prototype via Instagram (@kaffymcgee)

With the world on lockdown, a time when clothes are created, displayed and even ‘worn’ virtually may not be as far away as you think.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve all been forced to turn to the virtual world. Fed up of Instagram Live feeds, home workout videos and Houseparty? Tough! Temporary as our quarantine may be, its impact on our lives will last far beyond these next few weeks. For better or worse, self-isolation seems to have been the final push the nation needed to fully embrace life dependent on digital infrastructures. But what does that mean for fashion?

In a week where high street mainstay M&S revealed they cancelled £100m in clothing orders due to coronavirus, and Burberry are said to expect sales in the final weeks of the financial year to fall by 80%, prospects for IRL fashion retail look pretty bleak. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that few people are going to spend their quarantine copping new season Louis Vuitton. (If that’s your flex, though, go off I guess!) But the more distanced we become from our old social and consumer habits, the more likely it seems that our newfound digital dependency could switch up, perhaps even reset how we consume clothing.

Granted, there’s already a notable level of digital integration in our sartorial lives. Instagram statistics show that 95 million images are uploaded everyday, and that fashion dominates the proportion of accounts on the platform used to promote brands. And, as the current pandemic has shown, consumer habits are quickly and easily adaptable during periods of flux, with brands sold on Amazon reporting a 47% increase in sales in the latter half of March.

Per Götteson AW20. Photography Mitchell Sams

PER GÖTTESON AW20. PHOTOGRAPHY MITCHELL SAMS

The shifts triggered by the crisis could also reinforce the viability for digital fashion — clothing rendered in computer-assisted design programmes either for prototyping purposes or to be ‘worn’ virtually (by avatars, or via augmented reality, for example) — in place of tangible garments. “I have seen a need for people to express a deeper sense of identity online since we’ve entered this new phase,” London-based designer Per Götesson says. “I think that after this, they will be more open to the idea of a digital wardrobe because of that.”

Such a shift would, of course, encourage a radical rethink in how designers approach their practice. There would be heavy emphasis on rendering images, as opposed to traditional pattern cutting, which could advance design beyond the capabilities of physical manufacturing. “I find the consumption of images very intriguing, as at this moment, designers can’t be tactile with prototypes. I’m thinking of all possibilities, including and outside of, virtual clothing design,” Per continues, suggesting that not only will this period shift our ways of consuming fashion, but that it will alter how we view clothing on the whole. It will bring about “opportunities to think outside of garment design,” which makes you wonder if, as we move into a society dependent on communicating through a screen, clothing might be made with digital occasions in mind. Could there be a space for both functional real-life clothing, and looks that are specifically designed for consumption through social media and webcam meetups?

 

In a revised digital space, our focus may shift past conventional dress. Per’s collaborator Kathy McGee, founder of 3D and digital-led design project Digitoile, talks of the digital space as an adjunct to physical craft, emphasising how it can facilitate complex design ideas and collaboration in different ways. “During this time of ‘social distancing’, present and post, we have an opportunity to review and reflect on design tools and their possibilities of use,” she proposes. “The impact should be challenging and lead us to ask why we’re making things and who they’re for?” It is key that designers like McGee are asking such questions, actively creating with a purpose in mind, rather than producing sellable products for the sake of it. Digital design makes for more considered choices, forming resolutions before physical manufacture. As Kathy explains, “perhaps in some cases, the product or idea needs only to be virtual, and should it exist physically, that perhaps it is bespoke in a way that’s distinctly different to the digital version.”

Perhaps the most convincing argument in favour of digital fashion is its sustainability credentials: in an age of rampant overconsumption, it allows us to consume fashion without contributing to the absurd number of garments, some 100 billion, produced annually. It’s reasoning like this that drove young designer Aaron Esh to incorporate digital design into his work. By first rendering his pieces digitally, he’s able to “reduce the fabric waste typical of multiple toiles, and finalise pieces in half the time.” It’s a sentiment Kathy echoes, noting that digital “offers another way of communicating ideas and vision,” even if its inability to replicate the tactility of IRL means that it’s unlikely to replace real garments.

 

Between the three designers, there’s a consensus that digital fashion serves as a welcome extension to the real, rather than its replacement. But what of other creatives likely to be affected by a fundamental crossover to pixel-based looks? A model might be worried that they could be replaced by virtual counterparts, like self-styled “digital supermodel” Shudu Gram, a black woman who is both not real and — to complicate things further — the creation of a white, male graphic designer named Cameron-James Wilson. Established designers, too, might be wary of a full digital shift, as it would require a retraining of their methods of design.

 

For digital fashion to take the lion’s share of the market, it could require a wave of young designers working exclusively with digital clothing to drive a shift in consumer habits. Karinna Nobbs, retail and marketing strategist, says that “although adoption of a digital attire is mainly viable in concept as opposed to practice, due to it being a niche and challenging sector, you are likely to see more brands experiment with new forms of dissemination, with many seeing digital fashion as a legitimate revenue stream.” She believes that “there will absolutely be individuals who choose to live entirely immersed in VR, and for them, digital fashion would be at least 80% of their fashion purchasing”. To some, this may seem quite a reach, but it actually isn’t as far fetched as you might think. Some 69% of the 250 million Fortnite players spend an average of $85 each on virtual matter. In 2019, a digitally-rendered bespoke dress by design house The Fabricant sold for $9500. There is an appetite for such products.

The current restrictions on everyday life are unprecedented, but much is likely to revert back to normal post-pandemic. That being said, with no solid end date to look forward to, there’s every chance that our lives might make a semi-permanent pivot to digital in the meantime. Give it a few weeks: the garments we once perused on The Sims and Fortnite might be making a shift into our own wardrobes in the “real world” too.

 

I-D.VICE.COM

 

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20
Mar

Like so many of you, I have been adjusting to reality during the COVID-19 pandemic—by staying up on the news (and taking breaks from the news); joining Zoom meetings with my colleagues; brainstorming ways to help the fashion industry, which will need our support in the months to come; finding escapism in a novel, movie, or TV series; and speaking to my family and loved ones by phone or FaceTime.

But above all else, I have been doing one simple thing, and I urge everyone to do the same: I have been staying at home.

There is no more important rule for all of us to follow. We must, right this moment, pledge to stay in our homes as much as we possibly can. There are, of course, health workers, emergency-response personnel, grocery store employees, and others whose essential jobs we depend on. And they must go out to perform these life-saving tasks. (One of my closest relatives is a doctor, and he is on the front lines of this emergency—which is absolutely where he should be and makes me so proud of him.) For the rest of us all across America, there is no debate or discussion. We must stay in our homes. That is the only way to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and to protect those who are most vulnerable to it.

I was as shocked as anyone by the images of Americans on crowded beaches enjoying their spring break yesterday. Even if you are young and healthy and consider yourself invulnerable, you are not. And the Americans around you certainly are not. Leave the beaches and self-isolate. All of us must unite as a nation to ensure that we slow the spread of this terrible virus.

So join me in a pledge that all of us at Vogue are making today: Stay at home. There is no more valuable action you can take.

Share on social and caption with a 🌹to pledge to #StayHome too.

 

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06
Mar

CHIC REPORT: THE UNTOLD STORY BEHIND THE NEW BILL CUNNINGHAM DOCUMENTARY

 

In 1994, Mark Bozek landed the interview of a lifetime: a three-hour chat with Bill Cunningham. For the first — and only — time, the legendary photographer opened up and got personal on-camera. Now, Bozek is making parts of the interview public, through his documentary, The Times of Bill Cunningham. Last week after a premiere in New York, The Daily called Bozek to discuss the film. From using a network of Cunningham’s friends to piece together parts of his life, to exploring his previously unseen archives, the director fills us in on how the project came together.

When did you first become interested in interviewing Bill Cunningham?
I had a series called Fox Style News. One of the first stories I wanted to do was on Bill. The first time I asked was a very polite “No young fella, I don’t do that kind of thing.” But I asked him [four] more times. I remember later saying, “Let’s try to do this anyways.” For the next year when doing other stories, we’d see Bill on the street or at an event, and the guys would discreetly pick up the cameras and shoot footage of him. When I had enough I interviewed Bill Blass, James Galanos, and Liz Smith, the gossip columnist, and ran the piece in December, 1993. It was a nice three-minute story about Bill. I was happy I did it. There hadn’t been any stories about him like that at all.

So how did you finally land the interview?
About two weeks in [to my new job at QVC], I get a phone call from Bill. He said, “Young fella, I hate to bother you, I didn’t see your story. I don’t have a TV. But I have to accept this award. Would you mind coming over to my studio to interview me to produce this one-minute video to play on stage?” I got a crew together and went to his studio. There was no place to set up the camera, so we went to his best friend’s apartment a couple floors down. I thought, I’ve got 10 minutes. I gotta get a couple of sound bites and that’ll be it. But 30 minutes later he kept talking. I was young and inexperienced, but I realized that I should be quiet and just let him. We really did run out of tapes to use because I [only] brought enough to do a couple of sound bites. Luckily, we had some extra.

Ruben Toledo, who provided illustrations for the film, and Mark Bozek (Paul Bruinooge/PMC)

Do you have any theories as to why he chose to open up?
I only have theories based on other what other people have told me… he liked the fact that I wasn’t a fashion expert. I was certainly not Barbara Walters for 60 Minutes. Although when he started to get upset that first time out of the blue, just talking about how shy he was, I had this moment like, Oh my God, I made Bill Cunningham cry! I just need a couple of sound bites and now he’s crying. But they all say it’s because he just felt comfortable. And I think likely, because of his passion for documentation, that he decided on that day he was going to verbally document his life.

Were you conflicted at all about including the scenes of him being vulnerable?
At the end of the day, you want to make a film that shows your character in all it’s different forms. I can’t say I was totally conflicted, because I wanted to treat it respectfully. But what he was saying was so important, and he never said “turn off the camera” once. We turned it off a couple of times because it was too much. So many people that have seen the movie are emotional because of what he talks about. How the AIDS crisis was throttling the industry and the country at that time. I worked for Willi Smith, who died of AIDS in 1988, for seven years. So I knew the effect of that. It was something that he wanted to talk about.

Cunningham, Steven Gan, and Lady Gaga at The Daily Front Row’s Fashion Media Awards (Clint Spauling/PMC)

So what did you do after shooting that footage?
I put it in my basement and didn’t touch it until the day he died, three and a half years ago. On social media, everybody heard that Bill passed… it was a really sad couple of days in New York. I said to my son, “Let’s go in the basement and find those tapes that I did with Mr. Cunningham 23 years ago.” I found the old beta tapes and had them bumped up to a digital file. That was the first time I’d watched them in 23 years. It was really emotional, because he had just passed and he’s so full of life in this interview — so many different spectrums of emotions. It really touched me.

You held a screening of all three hours of footage for a close group of Bill’s friends. What was that viewing like?
They were stunned that Bill opened up as he did, because they’d never seen him open up like that. Certainly not on camera. Obviously, personally [he did]. Ruben and Isabel Toledo would have dinner with him almost every Saturday night for years at a little cheesy diner by Carnegie Hall. We spent another hour or so just talking about it. It was very emotional for a lot of them because it was just six months [after he passed]. I remember asking them, “What do you think? Do you think I should go forward?” They all said, “You must do this!” And then relentless emails from particularly Ruben and Isabel — “How’s it going? What’s happening?” — it was great.

Did they have anything to add to the process?
They helped me fill in the blanks on a lot of holes of people I didn’t know that Bill talked about. Particularly Chez Ninon [the boutique he was employed by]. They could connect me to this person and that person. It began this process that I had no idea was going to take three and a half years to finish. But, especially now, it’s the greatest feeling in the world. After all that work, having Ruben do the artwork for the film, having Pat Cleveland let me use her song “Tonight Joséphine” during the credits. And of course having [narrator] Sarah Jessica Parker say yes before she even saw one frame of the film.

The film includes decades worth of his photos. How did you get your hands on them?
I didn’t have any access to Bill’s pictures until I met his niece, who owns the archive. That began a whole new process of showing her the footage at this Holiday Inn up in Orangeburg, where the archive is stored. She was she was very emotional, weeping hysterically after seeing it because she had never seen her uncle talk like that. He kept those worlds of his very separate. They just knew he was a photographer. So she gave me access to the archives.

What was that like?
The first day there I was like a kid in a candy store, to say the least. Having lived with this footage for a year and a half and now being able to go in and find the pictures of Diana Vreeland, every time her hand touched a mannequin for 11 years times two weeks; the gay pride parade pictures which he had never published; all the Jackie Kennedy pictures. Those things were just remarkable and they actually let me bring boxes of the archive to my home on Long Island. I turned my dining room into this massive scanning operation.

Bill Cunningham

Cunningham and Karl Lagerfeld in 2012 (Patrick McMullan/PMC)

Wow! That’s amazing.
We immediately bonded because she liked the film and she knew that I wasn’t going to do anything untoward, or dishonest, or take advantage of [his legacy]. She loved it. She was at the premiere. And it was incredible being able to celebrate with her, because she’s been so gracious. I ended up, of the three million images in his archives — and documents, tape recording, you name it — scanning about 25,000 of those images, and then 500 or so ended up in the film.

You could have easily made a film just about him documenting the early years of the Met Gala or the history of the Pride Parade. Why did you edit the film chronologically?
From day one, I wanted to make it into a feature documentary. I had talked to other people about doing it as a series. That may eventually still happen. The picking and choosing of what I thought were going to be the most effective stories was really based on the stories Bill told us. The interview you see in the film is not in sequential order because Bill was jumping from one era to the next. It would be confusing if I did that, so we created a timeline. The part that took the longest by far was editing the pictures. I wanted to do what Bill did: be selective about every single picture in the movie like he was very selective about every picture that would be in the Sunday Times.

Bill Cunningham

Cunningham at Public School’s Spring 2016 show (Clint Spaulding/PMC)

Was there anything you discovered in your research that you didn’t include in the documentary?
Bill was a documentarian and he saved everything. When the women from Chez Ninon passed on, he saved all their stuff. In the Chez Ninon box was a box of receipts of all the clothes they made for Jacqueline Kennedy, Brooke Astor, and Rockefeller. I went to the Jacqueline Kennedy file and there was the receipt for the pink dress that she wore to Dallas. It’s likely one of the most famous dresses in history, certainly in American history, because of all the attachment to it to the president being assassinated. And there was this receipt with a little pink swatch.

What do you think will stand out the most to viewers?
His treasure trove of an archive will go down as one of the most important in the history of New York City. Not just fashion, but society. He took pictures every single day since 1967. The other thing was his unbelievable humility, that somebody could be so revered and treasured by everybody in the fashion industry, and yet live on cheese sandwiches and oatmeal in a tiny space that didn’t have a bathroom (he shared with everybody on the 12th floor). Lastly, his incredible generosity. Buying Antonio Lopez’s painting [for $130,000] when Antonio had AIDS, and then giving the painting back so he could sell it again. He had diamonds in a pillowcase stuffed away in his cave at Carnegie Hall. That surprised a lot of people because he would never, ever share that with anybody. He was too discreet.

Cunningham with Anna Wintour in 2012 (Owen Hoffmann/PMC)

What are you hoping this documentary will add to his public memory?
I never ever set out to make a fashion movie. I was much more intrigued by his character — his sometimes contrarian character… Ruben said, “This should be in the National Archives” because it’s him full of life, telling a story that had to be told. There will be other stories about Bill. There will probably be a feature film about him. I think they’re going to name buildings after Bill Cunningham, build statues of Bill Cunningham. I hope the fashion world sees what an original character he was. There will never ever be another Bill Cunningham again, no matter how many followers a photographer has on Instagram.

What’s missing from how fashion is communicated these days on social media?
A knowledge of history. Understanding how things were cut and how different designers had an effect on [each other]… Nobody will be as wise as he was in terms of fashion history and his ability to remember things back to the ’30s… I don’t want to necessarily give Diet Prada a plug, but those two people know fashion history in ways that blow my mind. They’re the closest to come to at least having the knowledge. But that’s what’s really missing. I want young people to see this guy who, up until a week before he died, was out there working every single day, and so passionate about his work.

The Times of Bill Cunningham is playing in select theaters.

Chic Report

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Mar

Zoey Grossman photographed DKNY’s New Spring 2020 campaign featuring Halsey. The all-female production team also included videographer Nathalie Canguilhem and stylist Zoe Costello. The ads, which also star David Alexander Flinn, pay tribute to New York through stylized versions of the city’s subways.

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