Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Paris Haute Couture: Antonio Grimaldi's American Dream

Backstage in Paris at Antonio Grimaldi's haute couture show, held at the historic Westin Vendôme hotel. Main photograph (above) and cover picture by Elli Ioannou for DAM
Italian couturier Antonio Grimaldi has come a long way from his hometown in southern Italy's Salerno. Today, the designer shows on the official Paris haute couture schedule and has an atelier in an historic palazzo in Rome. We take a look backstage before his latest show for Autumn/Winter 2019-20. Inspired by American 1930s black and white films, the new collection is a contemporary take on Cary Grant and Mae West with a dash of punk, writes Jeanne-Marie Cilento. Reporting and photography by Elli Ioannou

Couturier Antonio Grimaldi
backstage in Paris
 
AMID the fluted gold columns, crystal chandeliers and florid burgundy brocade of the 19th century Westin Paris-Vendome's Salon Imperial, at 3 rue de Castiglione, Italian designer Antonio Grimaldi presented an equally sumptuous new haute couture collection.

Called I'm no Angel, after the 1933 film starring Mae West, the designer was inspired by the voluptuous actress in the black and white film. A quote from the film ~ "When I'm good I'm very good but when I'm bad I'm better" ~ was the starting point for the collection. Mae West was the screenwriter and made her character a circus performer who stars alongside Cary Grant.

Grimaldi says he likes the irreverence of Mae West and her taste for scandal that upset the staid Americana ethos at the time and that also established her as a Hollywood star.

The designer also looked at the Surrealists' fascination with her, such as Salvador Dali's famous 1934 work, Mae West's face which may be used as a Surrealist Apartment. In that spirit, Antonio Grimaldi added a dose of elegantly surreal punk to the collection with gold nose and lip rings and spiky jewellery, worn with sweeping, fluid gowns.

The leitmotifs for the collection are bias cuts that look like giant ribbons of fabric that shape themselves to the body. The colour palette is drawn from the hues of black and white films such as sand grey and anthracite. This is contrasted with vivid hues of bright reds and purples. Grimaldi has created asymmetrical, architectural forms that follow the curves of a woman and balanced gauzy, transparent materials with heavier, silken fabrics.

"When I'm good I'm very good but when I'm bad I'm better" ~ Mae West

Models backstage before the show,
wearing brilliant purple gowns
One of Grimaldi's favourite materials is a crepe fabric alternated and overlapped by velvet, chiffon, and taffeta, finished with special appliques. A chiffon sunray pleated dress has radial folds that burgeon out from slits and overlays cuts in the fabric. A triple organza blouse is both voluminous and light with transparent inserts. The collection also includes trompe l'oeil dresses with capes that flutter out behind.

Adding to the sense of modern richness are embroidered details that include materials such as metal, iron, black lacquered chains and crystals. These create grids and shapes that enhance the transparency of the gowns. Grimaldi also uses champagne-hued peacock feathers to emphasise the lightness of some of his creations. Metal belts with fringes and belt bags are stylishly combined to form part of the dresses. Overall, the look of the models is cool and soigne, with pulled back hair fixed with spiky clips, light brows and a streak of red eyeshadow under the lashes. The custom made jewellery, including combs and bracelets with pointed studs, was created by French jeweller Bernard Deletrrez.

The leitmotifs of the collection are bias cuts that look like giant ribbons of fabric that shape themselves to the body

Black leather turtlenecks
were a highlight of the
men's collection
Shown as part of the collection on the haute couture runway in Paris, were Grimaldi's men's looks with inspiration drawn from a modern day Cary Grant.

The suits were made in collaboration with the Neapolitan company Principe dell'Elganza, well-known for their fine tailoring.

Antonio Grimaldi designed the men's silhouette to have a soft line too, with sinuous shoulders and round curved pockets, all with a subtle colour range of charcoal, grey and black.

The tailored suits are hand-stitched with wool fabrics such as gray flannel, tweed and houndstooth. The collection includes double coats, flannel suits and evening tuxedos worn with black leather turtle necks.

Backstage at the show, Antonio Grimaldi says he always wanted to be a designer, since he was a child. The designer was passionate about art, fashion and in particular about craftsmanship. He learnt the secrets of couture in a small atelier in seaside Salerno, on the mountainous southern coast of Italy.

The men's silhouettes have a soft line, with sinuous shoulders and rounded, curved pockets

Grimaldi started working with his mother and sister when he was 15 years old and later designed his sister’s wedding dress. In the summer, he started to go to the couture atelier in Salerno because he wanted to learn about how to make beautiful clothes. The designer says when he was growing up in Italy, fashion school was only for women, so he went on to study graphics and art but was still determined to be a fashion designer.

A soigne model in diaphanous
black backstage in Paris
Today, he says that working with dressmakers early in his career taught him about textiles and the art of modelling designs to the body. He explains it was also very satisfying to work in an atelier, when he was young, where he was able to turn his sketches from dream to reality. Because the designer studied art rather than fashion, this is still an important aspect of his design philosophy for all of his collections.

One of the highpoints of Grimaldi's career was being invited to show as a couturier during Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week. He says this is important from a business standpoint, as it provides the best fashion platform in the world to reach international buyers.

During the initial phases of creating a haute couture collection, Grimaldi thinks about the mood of the collection and then does the sketches. Next the fabrics and textures are chosen but this changes as the design of a garment develops. Lastly are the modelling and cut of the gown that will eventually be seen in that season's show.

The designer sees the process of creation as the same for both ready-to-wear collections and couture. He is always inspired by art in some form but he believes the magic is designing haute couture, with its virtuoso attention to detail and craftsmanship, where every part is done by hand including the embroidery.

Tap on pictures for full-screen slideshow from Paris

The fluted gold columns, crystal chandeliers and florid burgundy brocade of the 19th century Westin Paris
Vendome where Antonio Grimaldi presented a sumptuous new haute couture collection.

Grimaldi added a dose of elegantly surreal punk to the collection with gold lip rings and spiky jewellery, worn with sweeping, fluid gowns.
The leitmotifs of the collection are bias cuts that look like giant ribbons of fabric that shape themselves to the body.

The colour palette is drawn from the hues of black and white films such as cream, sand grey and anthracite.

Grimaldi has created asymmetrical, architectural forms that follow the curves of a woman and balanced gauzy, transparent materials with heavier, silken fabrics.
 Metal belts with fringes and belt bags are stylishly combined to form part of the gowns. Note the Surrealist 'lips' rings in red and gold.
The AW1920 collection was called 'I'm no Angel,' after the 1933 film starring Mae West. The designer was inspired by the voluptuous actress in the black and white film
Adding to the sense of modern richness are embroidered details that include materials such as metal, iron, black lacquered chains and crystals.
Shown as part of the collection on the haute couture runway in Paris, were Grimaldi's men's looks with inspiration drawn from a modern day Cary Grant.
 One of Grimaldi's favourite materials is a crepe fabric alternated and overlapped by velvet, chiffon, and taffeta, finished with special appliques.
During the initial phases of creating a haute couture collection, Grimaldi thinks about the mood of the collection and then does the sketches.
Fabrics and textures are chosen after the first sketches for the couture collection but they change as the design of a garment develops. Lastly, the modelling and cut of the gown is finished.
The tailored suits and coats in the collection are hand-stitched with wool fabrics such as gray flannel, tweed and houndstooth.
Overall, the look of the models was cool and soigne, with pulled back hair fixed with spiky clips, light brows and a sweep of red eyeshadow under the lower lash.
A quote from the film 'I'm no Angel" ~ "When I'm good I'm very good but when I'm bad I'm better" ~ was the starting point for the collection.
Today, Antonio Grimaldi says that working with dressmakers early in his career taught him about textiles and the art of modelling designs to the body.
Grimaldi believes the magic of fashion is designing haute couture, with its virtuoso attention to detail and craftsmanship, where every part is done by hand.
 

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Paris Haute Couture: Yuima Nakazato's Home Brew

In Paris, an elegantly subversive design by Yuima Nakazato, showing that sustainable fashion doesn't have to be dull. Cover picture and main photograph (above) by Elli Ioannou for DAM
One of the highlights of Paris Haute Couture Week is Yuima Nakazato's experimental collections. The designer brings a new approach to fashion, challenging the way we think of dress and creating revolutionary new fabrics from unusual sources, including this Autumn/Winter 2019-2020 season's brewed protein, writes Jeanne-Marie Cilento. Additional reporting and photographs by Elli Ioannou

Yuima Nakazato's AW1920 couture collection at
Paris' Descartes University.
JAPANESE couturier Yuima Nakazato is one of the rare avant-garde fashion designers who don't just myopically experiment with style but have a radical manifesto and vision for what we will be wearing in the future. His collections are intellectual and full of new ideas that see fashion as central to art and life, not just the quotidian reality of having to dress every day.

The young couturier wants to change the nature of the materials used to create fashion and democratise haute couture so it is still highly individual yet available to everybody. Instead of seeing haute couture as so rarefied it is always under threat of extinction, due to the enormous skill and cost to produce each collection, Nakazato sees it as the future of fashion.

Although some of his ideas may seem outlandish, they stimulate a new way of thinking about the way we dress and how our clothes are made.

Nakazato strives to look at the big picture, he says he wants to realise "a new vision for humanity" through clothes. His designs are made from plant-derived sustainable materials, representing an important step away from current widespread reliance on petroleum-based resources.

Yuima Nakazato is one of the rare avant-garde designers who don't just experiment with style but have a radical manifesto for the future

For the new collection, entitled Birth, Nakazato has experimented with a new textile created from a substance called 'brewed protein', a sustainable fibre made by a fermentation process developed by Japanese biotech start-up Spiber. The fabrics in the collection use this cutting edge technology combined with an unexpected artisanal method ~ hand-knitting.

Backstage the designer adjusts
a model before the show
The textiles are created by digitally fabricating the specially-designed protein. Nakazato is creating a variety of different materials from this substance. He believes innovations in materials and technology are the direction in which haute couture should be moving.

For this Autumn/Winter 2019-20 collection, the designer created long, swinging shift dresses, separates with the riveted design developed in previous seasons, and athletic outerwear. The snap-closing he has created means clothes can be adaptable not only to the wearer's size and form but to their mood.

"Eventually, each and every garment will be unique and different,"  Nakazato explains. He has been exploring this concept through the prism of haute couture since 2016, when he began showing in Paris.

This season, the palette is a subtle mix of creams and browns with dashes of red. This was meant as a metaphor for the range of human skin colours but also with red as the underlying hue representing the blood that runs through us all. Because the brewed protein used to make the materials is made from amino acids it almost feels like the fabric is a natural part of the body, not a separate piece of clothing.

The fibre that makes up the fabric can be used as a thread and was made into crocheted capes and tops for the collection. As a blend with cotton it can make a more traditional textile or be used as a leather substitute for shoes.

His designs are made from plant-derived sustainable materials, representing an important step away from petroleum-based resources


 The colour palette of the show symbolises
the hues of the human body
As its production doesn't rely on petroleum, brewed protein is biodegradable and could offer a sustainable solution for the fashion industry. Ecologically-minded apparel manufacturers are moving away from micro plastics and animal-derived materials. Protein-based polymer materials are energy efficient, environmentally friendly and economic to produce.

Protein biopolymers are part of the building blocks of life, formed from different types of amino acids. Brewed protein refers to structural proteins which have been designed or selected from an almost limitless pool of possible amino acid combinations, and then produced via a microbial fermentation process. This proprietary technology, created by Spiber, allows for the creation of a hugely diverse range of such proteins, each with different features.

Before the show, as guests under the
beautiful windows of the
Descartes University
Nakazato has developed his new clothing production system during earlier collections, one not constrained by using a traditional needle and thread. Instead, Nakazato uses specially-designed clasps to connect fabric pieces. Called Type-1, it allows the wearer to quickly assemble, customise, and repair their own clothes.

The Paris Descartes University was used as the location for Yuima Nakazato's latest collection, with its cool, grey 18th century arcades and classical busts. The designer says he wanted the "gentle natural light that pours into the entrance," providing the backdrop that he had visualised as it was "perfectly suited to discussions regarding the future of mankind and clothing."

A sculpture called "Goldrain" was part of the show, showering down find gold particles, and based on the concept of the regeneration of the Earth. This rain of gold, along with the basin below, have an otherworldly beauty. Contemporary Japanese artist, Eugene Kangawa, has been developing the installation since 2018. The gold fragments are so fine they are affected by small movements of air or light.

Nakazato strives to look at the big picture, he says he wants to realise 'a new vision for humanity' through fashion


The golden basin of the Goldrain art installation
by Eugene Kangawa
Goldrain and Nakazato's new show share a common exploration of rebirth and hope and the new protein material he is using, has a white gold colour like the particles. The installation also symbolises the process for creating this new material, which is born through the mixture of particles and liquid. This is the same production process as making the brewed protein, where a powder is combined with water to generate a material.

The shimmering, miniscule specks of Goldrain combine to veil the surface of water and turn it into a glistening expanse. The falling fragments in this installation are meant to evoke rain and a sense of the birth of land, sea, and life, symbolising Nagazako's 'Birth' collection and its vision of a new type of haute couture for the people.

Tap on photographs for fullscreen slideshow
A sculpture called "Goldrain" was the poetic backdrop to the show, showering down find gold particles, and based on the concept of the regeneration of the Earth.
Yuima Nakazato is one of the rare avant-garde fashion designers who don't just experiment with style but have a radical manifesto and vision for what we will be wearing in the future.



The fabrics in the collection use cutting edge technology combined with an unexpected artisanal method ~ hand-knitting.


Nakazato has developed his new clothing production system during earlier collections, called Type-1, it allows the wearer to quickly assemble, customise, and repair their clothes.

This season, the palette is a subtle mix of creams and browns with dashes of red. This was meant as a metaphor for not only the range of skin colours of the human race but also red as the underlying hue as it represents the blood that runs through us all.

Not constrained by using a traditional needle and thread, Nakazato uses specially-designed clasps to connect fabric pieces.


The young couturier wants to change the nature of the materials used to create fashion and democratise haute couture so it is still highly individual yet available to everybody.

For the new collection, entitled Birth, Nakazato has experimented with a new textile created from a substance called "brewed protein," a sustainable fibre made by a fermentation process.
Rather than seeing haute couture as so rarefied it is always under threat of extinction, due to the enormous skill and cost to produce each collection, Nakazato sees it as the future of fashion.  
 


Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Paris Fashion Week: Issey Miyake's Walk in the Park

Dancers and Zalindé, an all-female Afro-Brazilian percussion troupe, performing at the Issey Miyake show in Paris. Main photograph and cover picture by Elli Ioannou for DAM
 
Issey Miyake's new Spring/Summer 2020 Homme Plissé show opened in Paris with a jubilant band of dancers, gymnasts and musicians and ended in a party with the guests joining in at the historic Place des Vosges, Jeanne-Marie Cilento writes. Additional reporting and photographs by Elli Ioannou

Guests arrive before the Issey Miyake show,
 seated around a statue of Louis XIII
in the Place des Vosges
ON a cool, grey summers day in Paris, under the leafy Linden trees of a beautiful 17th century square, dancers swooped and leaped wearing the pleated, flowing creations of Japanese fashion house, Issey Miyake.

Choreographed by American director and dancer Daniel Ezralow, the show was called 'A Walk in the Park' and was held in the Place des Vosges.

Opened in 1612, it is the oldest planned square in Paris, situated in the fashionable Marais, and was once home to luminaries from Victor Hugo and Theophile Gaultier to Cardinal Richelieu and Marguerite Louise d'Orléans. Cardinal Richelieu had an equestrian bronze statue of Louis XIII erected in the centre of the gardens in 1619. Issey Miyake had always wanted to do a fashion show in the Place des Vosges and had been waiting for the official permissions to do it. When those came through, he decided the Homme Plissé collection was the best to be launched amid the trees and gravel paths of the square.

The designer says Homme Plissé Issey Miyake is "made for people of all ages and origins and for any occasion. It sets out to brighten up everyday life as it inspires people to express their originality in a creative way."
 
Choreographer Daniel Ezralow designed the Homme Plissé show to have four acts: first, the sound of birds calling while the dancers walk about meditatively; then the splashing of rain with the models running and carrying umbrellas in different formations; followed by an Irish jig with footballs being kicked around and then the finale enlivened with the arrival of Zalindé, an all-female Afro-Brazilian percussion troupe.

The dancers gathered around a picturesque maypole with colourful ribbons. The lively music and drumming encouraged everyone to dance including the guests who got up from their seats to join in, before Zalindé lead the show back along the street.

Under the leafy Linden trees, dancers swooped and leaped wearing the pleated, flowing creations of Japanese designer Issey Miyake

Dancers wearing flowing kimono-shaped
jackets and carrying umbrellas

 
The designer's themes of music and dance highlighted the collection's bright colours, vivid check patterns and Issey Miayke's signature pleats. Fluid, kimono-shaped, long coats in yellow, blue and red were covered in dynamic, painterly designs and worn over loose-fitting, buttoned shirts and capacious pants.

Ezralow choreographed the show to express the brilliant colour and ease of movement of the Homme Plissé collection.

The director has worked with Issey Miyake on shows and projects for many years, from helping him launch collections in the Eighties to directing women’s presentations in the Nineties.

The show's themes of music and dance highlighted the collection's vivid, painterly colours, check patterns and signature pleats

Models play soccer during
the show
They also worked on the ‘Flying Bodies, Soaring Souls’ show in 2013, which featured the male rhythmic gymnastics team from Aomori University.

In January this year, Ezralow created the 'Playground' presentation at the Centre Pompidou in Paris to present "L'Homme Plissé.

This new collection uses Issey Miyake’s pleating process, one that he began experimenting with in 1988, after having launched his innovative fashion house more than
a decade earlier.

Over the years, Miyake expanded into other avant-garde diffusion lines using various, in-house designers he has nurtured but with all of the designs still overseen by him. The theme of Homme Plissé is a sporty aesthetic built around new iterations of the designer’s pleating technique, using new textiles that are wrinkle-proof and quick-drying and will not stick to the skin.

The athletic aesthetic of  Homme Plissé is enhanced by a colourful palette, voluminous fluidity and Miyake's architectural sense of form

Zalindé lead the way along the street
after the show
The clothes are designed to be light and easy to move in, low-maintenance and great for travelling. The pleats are added after sewing, giving a three-dimensional structure to the designs that mix whimsical form with functionality.

This high tech approach to fabrication results in a unique folding process that allows the textiles to be breathable and very comfortable. The athletic aesthetic of the collection is enhanced by the colourful palette, voluminous fluidity and Issey Miyake's
architectural sense of form
and texture ~ all exhibited beautifully in this exuberant show in a Parisian park.
 
Tap on photographs for fullscreen slideshow
On a cool, grey summers day in Paris, under the leafy Linden trees of a beautiful 17th century square, dancers swooped and leapt wearing the pleated, flowing creations of Issey Miyake.
Choreographed by American director and dancer Daniel Ezralow, the show was called 'A Walk in the Park' and was held in the Place des Vosges.
Opened in 1612, it is the oldest planned square in Paris, situated in the fashionable Marais, and was once home to luminaries from Victor Hugo to Cardinal Richelieu.
Issey Miyake had always wanted to do a fashion show in the Place des Vosges and had been waiting for the official permissions to do it.

Daniel Ezralow designed the show to have four acts: first, the dancers walking about meditatively; then the splashing of rain with the models running followed by an Irish jig with footballs being kicked around.

The dancers gathered around a picturesque maypole with colourful ribbons.
The collection uses Issey Miyake’s pleating process, one that he began experimenting with in the early 1980s, after having launched his innovative fashion house a decade earlier.
The collection uses Issey Miyake’s pleating process, one that he began experimenting with in the early 1980s, after having launched his innovative fashion house a decade earlier.
The clothes are designed to be light and easy to move in, low-maintenance and great for travelling.


The lively music and drumming encouraged everyone to dance including the guests who got up from their seats to join in, before Zalindé lead the show back along the street.
Issey Miyake's high tech approach to fabrication results in a unique pleating process that allows the textiles to be breathable and very comfortable.


The designer's themes of music and dance highlighted the collection's bright, tie-dyed colours, vivid check patterns and Issey Miayke's signature pleats.

Fluid, kimono-shaped, long coats in yellow, blue and red were covered in dynamic, painterly designs and worn over loose-fitting, buttoned shirts and capacious pants.


The pleats are added after sewing, giving a three-dimensional structure to the designs that mix whimsical form with functionality.
The athletic aesthetic of the collection is enhanced by the colourful palette, voluminous fluidity and Issey Miyake'sarchitectural sense of form and texture.