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Kimono means “Thing you Wear”.

10 Apr


A disaster for kimonos in general happened in 1923 when a terrible earthquake hit Tokyo. Since the vast majority of structures were wooden/bamboo/paper arrangements they collapsed with the result that many of the old kimonos were lost or destroyed.

During the late 1920’s the Japanese government reduced production of silk in order to support their military buildup, leading to simpler designs and conservation of material. Kimono production increased after World War II but by this time Western dress had replaced the kimono in popularity.


kimono story

The actual meaning of the word kimono is pretty plain and straight forward. The ki in kimono is the shortened form of kiru which means to “put on” or “to wear”, and mono means “thing.” So in essence, kimono means “a thing you wear”. Before that it was known as a kosode, which means “small sleeve.”

The kimono looks like it was influenced by the colorful garb of the Chinese court. As with many Japanese arts, a Chinese idea was taken and refined until it became a Japanese symbol all its own.

The style of the kimono has changed frequently over its long history – and yes even men wore kimono. During the Heian period (794-1185) the Japanese court was filled with long flowing kimonos. The Japanese men sporting their sokutai robes with long trailing trains of fabric, and the Japanese women putting on layer after layer of unlined kimono in what was called juni-hitoe, meaning “twelve layers”, which could weigh 40 pounds!  You could imagine the court may have looked like big balls of fabric slowly walking up and down the tatami covered corridors.

12 layered kimonoJuni-hitoe, a 12-layer kimono

As time went on the kimono became less formal and more practical. The sizes of the sleeves were reduced and the overall volume of the fabric was lessened. This didn’t mean however, that the beauty of the kimono was diminished, as plenty of new designs and techniques were perfected during the Kamakura to Meiji period (1185-1912), culminating in the taiko musubi or “drum bow” kimono which is still popular today.

Taiko MusubiTaiko Musubi

Kimono were originally worn by commoners, or as undergarments by the aristocracy. During the 16th century, the kimono became the principal garment for all classes and both sexes. By the end of the 17th century, during the Edo period (1615–1868), differences became more pronounced; patterns on women’s kimonos were more complex and vividly colored. At this time, the kimono became an important indicator of class and wealth. Despite the sumptuary laws put in place by the ruling samurai class (which restricted use of certain fabrics and colors), wives of wealthy merchants would try to outdo each other with lavish displays of kimono design, each one more stunning, vibrant and complex than the next.

By the Meiji period (1868–1912), Japan was opened to the West, and for the first time, kimono were exported to Europe. Also at this time, Japan’s textile industry began to adopt western technology; new techniques and the end of sumptuary laws made silk kimono affordable and thus more available for popular use.

During the prosperity of the Taishō period (1912-1926), western-style clothes gained popularity among women, though the kimono continued to be worn. Motifs inspired by western designs—such as Art Deco and Art Nouveau, began to appear—while chemical dyes allowed for the production of even more vibrant colors. The development of innovative machinery, like power-operated spinning machines and jacquard looms, sped up production and continued to lower costs, making high-fashion kimono more readily available than ever.

kimono story

kimono story

kimono story

There’s a lot more to choosing which kimono to wear than just pulling one out of the closet. Many styles and colors of kimono should only be worn for special occasions, including weddings and funerals. But there are also many considerations in choosing even the day-to-day kimono – there are some 200 rules to govern which colors and combinations go together – it’s all very Japanese. Age, marital status and season are among these rules.

The color of the kimono is often based on the season. November to February is the “shades of the plum blossom” season, so you’ll see kimono with white outsides and red lining. March and April is “shades of wisteria”, which makes for the wearing of lavender kimonos with blue lining. Other seasons and styles include red lined kimonos for summer, and yellow and orange for winter and spring. 

Special patterns will emerge during special seasonal events. For example, light pink and white cherry blossom patterned kimono can be seen during sakura season, plum blossom and snow scenes will go with winter, and red maple leafs will often be seen during the fall season.

Kimono story

Geisha Obi

kimono story

Kimono story


Kimono story

Kimono story

Kimono at the back

These days, silk kimonos, which sell for thousands new, are reserved for special occasions like the Shichigosan Festival (traditional festival day for three- and seven-year-old girls and three- and five-year-old boys, held annually on November 15 to celebrate the growth and well-being of young children) and New Year’s Day, and for older people, Noh and Kabuki performers, geishas, and others involved in the traditional arts of tea service and flower arrangement. Used kimonos can be found for about $300 at Japanese flea markets.

Kimono's at the back






Dapper Dan of Harlem & the Power of Logo’s

3 Apr

Dapper Dan of HarlemDapper Dan of Harlem

Designer Dapper Dan described his way of working as ‘sampling’, a unique interpretation of mixing existing designs and logos with his own interpretation…. 

Dapper is often considered the godfather of hip-hop style, and for good reason. If it wasn’t for him, Eric B. and Rakim’s Gucci jackets on the cover of Paid in Full would not exist. Neither would all the Louis Vuitton, Fendi, and MCM outfits that LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, and KRS-ONE wore. His creations were so next-level—groundbreaking, if you will—that they live on today.

Eric B & RakimErik B. & Rakim on the cover of Paid in FullEric B. & Rakim on the Follow the Leader album cover, released in 1988Eric B. & Rakim on the Follow the Leader album cover, released in 1988

But it’s the “hustlers and street people” Dapper really got to thank for his success. “They were my primary clientele. The look spread outside the hustler culture and was embraced by the whole rap world, and they just took it everywhere”, Dapper explained.

The infamous drug dealer Alberto “Alpo” Martinez, also known as The Mayor of Harlem, was one of the primary customers.Alpo MartinezAlberto “Alpo” MartinezAlpo MartinezAlberto “Alpo” Martinez0a8afcf571c67f1156d8442d3d04d591Alberto “Alpo” Martinez

No one was more aware of the importance of the logo than Dapper Dan. The Harlem entrepreneur, born Daniel Day, developed a proprietary process for screen-printing on leather in the ’80s, just as logomania was cresting. He opened a boutique on 125th Street in 1982, and soon, he was outfitting the leading hip-hop stars in his takes on the popular logos of the time. (Rather than “knockoffs,” he prefers to call them “knockups.”) His logo designs soon spread to custom car interiors, curtains, and furniture, and his store was open 24 hours a day to satisfy his customers’ voracious appetite for all things logo. Less over the moon about Dapper’s work? The luxury brands whose logos he appropriated. A late ’80s raid on his store (led by Sonia Sotomayor, then a lawyer for Fendi) marked the beginning of the end, and he closed down shop in 1992. Jay Z went on to rap “Got a G on my chest/I don’t need Dapper Dan,” signaling hip-hop’s growing preference for real logos over faux ones.

A 1989 New York piece on Dapper Dan described a menacing bodyguard standing outside the store, while inside, the designer kept tabs on the sales of what he called his “macho type of ethnic ghetto clothing.” When asked if he would consider moving to another location, he said, simply, “This is our Fifth Avenue.

Dapper Dan DiddyP.Diddy in a Dapper Dan MCM logo jacketBobby BrownBobby Brown in a Dapper Dan’s Gucci suitLL Cool J in a custom piece with Dapper DanLL Cool J in a custom piece with Dapper Dan(on the left)The Fat BoysThe Fat Boys in Dapper’s  Louis Vuitton


Interview with Dapper Dan

When did you start becoming aware of the power of the logo?

I think the first one that I became aware of was Christian Dior, because the Christian Dior hat was popular. That was the big one; the hat and the umbrella. And after that, I remember Pierre Cardin, his suits.

What do you think is the power of the logo? What about it appeals to people?

It signifies status, and money, which go hand in hand. The thing is, you can have the status but nobody will know you don’t have the money. So that’s what gives it such an impact in your look.

What were the most popular logos in the store’s heyday?

Each had their period, but Louis [Vuitton] stayed with it. Louis never wavered; it always had that impact. But Gucci had a greater impact because there was so much more you could do with it. Louis just had the basic print.

Did you ever imitate Gucci’s bamboo-handle bag or the horse-bit loafer, or anything like that?

Yeah. That’s how Gucci made a heavy impact. Even in my clientele, you had people that didn’t want the letters all over. So they could have the piping — the red and green, and that’s the signal right there. So that was powerful.

Do you feel that the logo versions you did were defensible as your artistry, your creativity, and not copies? Did you feel like you were doing something different?

Oh yeah. I never used or designed anything that [the luxury houses] would think of — I was too cutting-edge for that.

Eventually, you started doing car interiors. Were there other things that you did that were kind of unlikely?

Furniture, curtains, anything I could think of. Guys wanted the heavy stuff, you know? They wanted a car done, a sofa done, the Jeeps had to have the [logo] symbol in the back. Anything that they can imagine.

You did so many designs for rappers, starting with the old-school rappers up until Diddy. Have you ever designed anything for Kanye?

Kanye is probably a little off the medium. He’s somewhere else.

Yeah, there was a period when he was so into logos, he called himself the Louis Vuitton Don. Now he’s obviously doing something totally different.

Louis took him in, so he never would have gone to me, until he realized — I think he spent a lot of money to realize — he was subject to the same thing I was subject to. You can wear it, you can promote it, but you’re not getting a piece of this.

Right, he was never the face of the brand — he was giving the brand a lot of free advertising.

Yeah, I think that was a rude awakening for him.

Are there designers who you think are doing something interesting with their logo now? I think of Jeremy Scott and what he’s doing with Moschino.

The flexibility that they have now is great. They’re going after young clients with young ideas and they’re playing around with it, and the marriage between the young [designers] and the traditional labels is making that possible.

Did you ever hear admiring things from any other people in the fashion industry? Or are there designers now who have said things to you?

Oh, I’ve met a lot now.

You weren’t going to fashion shows or in the industry in that way.

No, I had my own fashion world. I always thought that I was locked out, so you know. I don’t know if you read the [New Yorker] article on me, but [the fashion establishment] didn’t want to have that kind of relationship with me.

By Véronique Hyland for


Custom Gucci & Fendi 1987Custom Gucci & Fendi, 1987Three brothers in customized Louis Vuitton and fur gear in 1988Three brothers in customized Louis Vuitton and fur gear, 1988vintage Dapper Dan x Louis Vuitton Air Force 1Vintage Dapper Dan x Louis Vuitton Air Force 1

NEW collection colaboration with GUCCI    2018




Fresh Dressed

Hip-hop was a music revolution and a fashion movement. In Fresh Dressed, director Sacha Jenkins explores the roots of hip-hop style and its rise as a mainstream trend through interviews with rappers, designers and fashion insiders like Pharrell Williams, Damon Dash, Karl Kani, Kanye West, Nas Jones, and André Leon Talley. Interview at AOL HQ in NYC for AOL BUILD.



Two of the jackets on the left were custom-made for Boogie Down Productions and The Jungle Brothers. 1989Dapper Dan in his shop.cThe two of the jackets on the left were custom-made for Boogie Down Productions and The Jungle Brothers,1989



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Black Power – the New Black Dandyism

27 Mar


I would like to share a wonderful and inspiring post I found on  


Hello World. Today’s post is a longread so may I suggest to take your time.

At the start of February the SA Menswear Fall 2016 Week took place in Cape Town, as in other capitals of the world. After Paris, Milan and London, the African continent sets its mark on international fashion. Fashion is flourishing as never before in Africa, a legion of ambitious young fashion designers are evolving towards national and international recognition and showing their collections to local and foreign buyers and press. The first rows are complemented by an enthusiastic young audience of bloggers and fashionistas eager to see the latest fashion.

But it’s more than just expensive designer clothes or original vintage haute couture. Fashion is hot not only for style-concious hipsters but is regarded as a highly effective way to create an own identity. It is also a firm confirmation that one who dresses well has style. And the young ‘bornfrees’-the generation that was born after 1991-have style, radiate confidence and success. Besides that, African traditions and the heritage of the ancestors are en vogue.And the amazing thing is that this actually sells. A new black middle-class has the money and interest to actually buy the clothes of African designers. Design boutiques and ultra-luxurious shopping centres offer a shopping extravanga never seen before and are popping up around the big South African cities. Should you be looking for a 40’s Christian Dior jacket, a Balenciaga ballgown from the 50’s, or Jordache bellbottoms, then your retro fix will be satisfied at The Flea Market at the Market Theatre in Newtown, the cultural hub of Johannesburg.

But it’s more than just expensive designer clothes or original vintage haute couture. Fashion is hot not only for style-concious hipsters but is regarded as a highly effective way to create an own identity. It is also a firm confirmation that one who dresses well has style. And the young ‘bornfrees’-the generation that was born after 1991-have style, radiate confidence and success. Besides that, African traditions and the heritage of the ancestors are en vogue.



That is reflected in the book The Black Photo Album by Santu Mofokeng

Book cover


Every year The Street Cred Festival brings a buzz to Johannesburg, an excitement in street-culture that unites the hottest and cool young fashionistas and designers. Streetgangs like the Swenkas, Smarties (Soweto), Isokothan (a gang modeled after the Urhobo People of Niger Delta) show that their passion for fashion is not only obsessive by clothes but at the same time their style manifests a passive aggressive form of resistance.

Although financially limited this young generation wants to create their own look, to show the world an interpretation of Africa, a tribute to their ancestors while looking forward to the future. It is hopeful and positive. What is Africa, Who am I as an African, those are the big questions that engage this new generation. Bloggers  like Sartist reflect the search for a new horizon of fashion and dopeness.




Each new movement has obviously predecessors. Les Sapeurs became somewhat of a household name in Congo in the 60’s with their brash dandyism. In New York it was designer Dapper Dan of Harlem who created the flamboyant look and style of rappers like LL Cool J and other heroes of the early hip hop scene in early 80’s.

dapper-dan-interview-magazine-11Dapper Dan of Harlem

Each new movement has obviously predecessors. Les Sapeurs became somewhat of a household name in Congo in the 60’s with their brash dandyism. In New York it was designer Dapper Dan of Harlem who created the flamboyant look and style of rappers like LL Cool J and other heroes of the early hip hop scene in early 80’s.

Right on 125th street in Harlem USA, sat a custom high-end clothing boutique owned by Mr. Dapper Dan. Before Kanye, Juelz, Fabolous and some other well known rappers wore Gucci and Louis Vutton, Dapper Dan in the 80’s and 90’s planted the seed for fashion in the hip hop culture. He created one of a kind customized high-end clothing that incorporated highly recognizable accessory logos like those of Gucci and Louis Vuitton, featuring them in non-traditional ways. His pieces were sold for thousands of dollars, and created a sense of what’s cool, what’s new in the streets and ‘in hip-hop’.

The designer describes his way of working as ‘sampling’, an unique interpretation of mixing existing designs and logos with his own interpretation. Dan Dapper ” I opened my workshop in ’82. First I would take little garment bags by Louis Vuitton and Gucci and cut them up, but that wouldn’t suffice for complete garments. So I said, “I have to figure out how to print this on fabric and leather.” I went through trial and error. I didn’t even know we were messing with dangerous chemicals—the U.S. government eventually outlawed the chemicals I was using. We made these huge silk screens so I could do a whole garment. A Jewish friend of mine helped me science out the secret behind the ink, and that was it.”

FAVORITE CREATIONS: The “Alpo Coat” [for drug dealer Alberto Martinez] and the Diane Dixon coat [for Olympic athlete Diane Dixon]

Diane Dixon coat by Dapper DanDiana Dixon wearing the “Diane Dixon” coat by Dapper Dandapper dan alpo coatThe “Alpo Coat”

His designs specified the look of hip-hop artists, sporters and those incurred by gangsters. “Gangsters. That’s who I grew up with. Middle-class blacks couldn’t accept what I was doing—you had to be of a revolutionary spirit. Who would be more like that than gangsters? And who would have the money? Hip-hop artists didn’t have any money. They used to wait until the gangsters left the store before they could come in and ask what the gangsters wore. Everybody follows the gangsters. The athletes came before the hip-hop artists. Mark Jackson, Walter Berry. I’ve got pictures of NBA players that I can’t even remember their names. The athletes had money earlier that the hip-hop artists.




Ozwald Boateng is a London fashion designer of Ghanaian descent and co-founder of Made in Africa Foundation, which supports and funds studies for large-scale infrastructure projects across Africa.

Boateng is known for his classic British menswear, done in warm colors. He is considered one of the most successful designers of men’s fashion in recent years. His big break came in 2005 when he worked as designer for the French fashion house Givenchy and dressed actor Jamie Foxx for the Oscars.

His first show in Ghana caused a small revolution. Just like in 2013 during NYC Fashion Week where Boateng showed mainly African prints processed in classic men’s suits on black models. Boateng’s explains his vision on style; “Colonialism has done little good for Africa but it brought the typical Western sense of style and elegance to Africa. Mixed with local traditions this sensibility created a truely new African identity.”

ozwald-boateng-2013Ozwald Boatang

During the same week in New York, South African born designer Gavin Rajah brought the fantasy element of fashion back to the runway with creations that were eclectic and high glamour. Again black models ruled the catwalk.



Is the motto of label ACF (Art Comes First/Always Cut First). ACF is an exciting innovative concept that typifies the New Black Dandyism.

In their vision a modern-day gentleman stands for Energy, Style, Power and Pride.


Lambert and Maidoh have worked to vitalize this simple notion in a fresh travel-friendly wardrobe crafted with intelligence, curiosity and good intention.



Dark Models dominate World’s Fashion Weeks catwalks…

Jimi Ogunlaja,Jimi Ogunlajablack-power-sunday-times-7-feb-16Jimi OgunlajaMax_Mara_Spring_2012_Backstage_Rtfe_Chi_Bu_HVxAkuol De Marbior, backstage at Max Maraakuol-de-mabior-sunday-times-7-feb-16Akuol De Marbior

Sanele XabaSanele Xabasizzling-hot-couture-voorpagina-sunday-times-7-feb-16-etail1Sanele Xaba

There are 50 shades of grey, and perhaps even more shades of black. And the blacker the better as South African designers scramble for darker-hued models who are regarded as ‘edgy and classy’. About half the models at the South African Menswear Autumn/Winter 2016 in Cape Town were very dark. They walked for designers including Craig Jacobs, Julia M’Poko of Mo’Ko Elosa and Jenevieve Lyons.

Popular on local runways is Jimi Ogunlaja, a Nigerian-born model and the face of 46664 Apparel, who has been walking ramps in South Africa for brands including Fabiani, Carducci and Craig Port since 2008.

balmain-autumn-2016Tami Williams at Balmainbalmain-autumn-2016-2Maria Borges at Balmain

During the Paris Fashion 2016 Week black models also graced the Balmain Fall 2016 Ready to Wear catwalk, although the look and wide choice of models was based on the now platinum Kim Kardashian West. Her husband Kanye was sitting front row. His fashion-show-slash-record-listening-slash-party in New York last month drew 20,000 New Yorkers into Madison Square Garden on a freezing Thursday afternoon. The premiere of Yeezy Season 3 and stream of his new album, The Life of Pablo, proved to be the event of the New York Fashion 2016 week—with people lining up hours beforehand to enter. Young, old, invited or not, Kanye fans patiently waited for the doors to open. And once they did it was madness. The power of commercial streetstyle!


Kanye WestKanye West’s Yeezy Season 3 Extravaganza

Lupita Nyong’o, one of the hottest black actresses of the moment walked onstage of the Late Night With Seth Meyers-talkshow in a tomato red Balmain power suit. Lupita Nyong’o is a Kenyan actress and film director. She made her American film debut in 2013 in Steve McQueen’s historical drama 12 Years a Slave. She won an Oscar for her supporting role as Patsey. But movie stars, popstars or fashion designers with African roots are not the only forces to dominate fashion in 2016, the biggest influence remains the First Lady of the USA, Michelle Obama.

Lupita Nyong’oLupita Nyong’o wearing Balmainlupita-nyongo-vogue-cover-october-2015-10Lupita Nyong’o on the cover of Voguecouverture-dazed-and-confusedLupita Nyong’o on cover of Dazed &Confused


michelle-obamaUS First Lady Michelle Obama 2016



Special thanks to: / for sharing this post written by eedeecee



Sources:  The Guardian ,  les Sapeurs; battle of the dandiesThe Sunday Times 7th February 2016


Vetements’ Demna Gvasalia, took off where Martin Margiela stopped…..

13 Mar
Demna GvasaliaDemna Gvasalia


Vetements, the design collective led by Demna Gvasalia, has created an earthquake during Paris fashion week over the last few seasons. Mr.Gsavalia is also the newly appointed creative director of Balenciaga, replacing Alexander Wang. His first collection for Balenciaga is as ground breaking as the Vetements collections are. To get to know him a bit better, an interview about how it al started, his experience working with other designers and how the Vetements brand works.

VETEMENTS collectiveVetements design collective 

Interview with Demna Gvasalia

  How did you first get interested in fashion?

Well, I grew up in Soviet times in Georgia, which meant that me and my friends, we all had the same clothes. It was such a unified society that was deprived of information and of many things, which probably pushed me from early on to discover certain excitement in things that I didn’t know.

Then we had the civil war in Georgia, where we had to leave the place where I grew up. We had this gypsy lifestyle for around 7 years, finally moving to Germany. So, I really had to adapt to a lot of situations and people within a short period of time, to be adaptable, to know how to integrate.

I really wanted to study fashion at the time — it was my ideal, but in Georgia people didn’t really believe fashion was a profession, and especially, it was not a profession for a guy to study. It was some weird, capricious thing for rich kids and was not considered a job.

I moved to Düsseldorf because my family moved there, and studied International Economics in Georgia. I was supposed to start working at a bank in Germany but that prospect was so depressing. I realised that I would be the most unhappy person in the world.

So, I went to Antwerp to try and enter the Academy there. I didn’t really know much about it and the whole Belgian avant-garde that had happened. I went literally because it was the only school I could afford. At the time it was 500 or 600 euros a year, I think because it was a state-owned school. That’s how I got to Belgium and studied fashion.

Vetements A/W 2015

Vetements a/w 2015

Vetements a/w 2015

Vetements a/w 2015

Vetements a/w 2015

Vetements a/w 2015

But it sounds like you were interested in fashion from the beginning.

I was interested in fashion, I just didn’t know much. Some people came to Antwerp and knew everything. At the entrance exam, one of the panel asked me who I knew from the Belgian generation of fashion designers and I just said Dries van Noten because that was the only name I actually knew and could pronounce. The person who asked me that was Walter van Beirendonck, who was part of the Antwerp Six. To me, he was just a weird guy with a beard and rings. He ended up being one of my teachers and I actually worked with Walter after I finished at the Academy.

 How did your training at the Academy shape you as a designer?

In many ways, we had to learn things about ourselves to discover our own aesthetic and what we liked. They try to push creativity — it’s not a very technical school. No one really explains how to construct a tailored jacket, you have to find out about that yourself, which is a hard process but it absolutely pays off. By discovering it on your own, you actually learn a lot more about it than if someone explains to you how to do it. So that was a blessing in disguise.

There was a lot of influence from this whole Belgian aesthetic: and the deconstruction, and Margiela and Dries. I mean we studied works and the names and methods of work that we heard about every day. So naturally it had an impact on me. But I cannot say that during these four years that I actually found my aesthetic — I don’t think so. I think I really started to understand what I liked and what I didn’t like afterwards, when I actually started working in fashion.

 What did you work on with Walter van Beirendonck?

When I worked with him, it was on menswear, but at one point I just realised it was a bit limited for me. I decided to do something for womenswear and I applied for jobs etcetera. One of the options I had was Margiela, so they called me and I moved to Paris to do womenswear for the first time.

 What was it like to work in that mythical place?

It was exceptional. That period of my life was probably the most formative in terms of fashion. My real studies, where I learned about clothes, was working at Margiela, especially in this kind of transitional period after Martin left; when the company was trying to modernise its DNA and find ways to continue its history. For me it was like an MA in fashion.

When you’re a student at a fashion academy, it’s all really theoretical. Here it was real, it was something that people made — that people wore. The most amazing thing was actually discovering the archives and looking at how the pieces were made and learning the way that the clothes were designed.

I saw the pieces that were done at the beginning of Margiela at the beginning of the 1990s. It was investigative fashion. They took a shirt, they took it apart, and they made a new one out of it. This whole idea about understanding the core of what you are doing, to make something new. They needed to take a shirt apart to make a new shirt. They didn’t come up with a new garment that didn’t exist.

It became a method of working for me. You really needed to understand the construction of the garment and to kind-of be in love with it in order to make something out of it. That’s something I learned there.

Vetements S/S 2015

Vetement s/s 2015

Vetement s/s 2015

Vetement s/s 2015

Vetement s/s 2015

Vetement s/s 2015

Vetement s/s 2015

Vetement s/s 2015

Vetement s/s 2015

Why is that important to you?

A garment is a product. It’s not made to be in a museum. It’s meant to be in somebody’s wardrobe. But then again, you need to like what you do. You don’t just need to like your job, but you need to like the product. I don’t want to compare it to an artist working on an artwork — but it’s the same. You are kind of subconsciously in love with what you do, and I think as I am working on a hoodie, I love to work on that hoodie. That’s what enhances your ideas and your creativity.

 After three and half years at Margiela, you decided to leave. Why?

It was so intense; this challenge and possibility of actually being there and learning there, but it was too much. At one point I realised, either I am going to stay there for the rest of my life like some people do, or I’m going to discover other parts of fashion that I didn’t know.

Margiela is a very specific company with a very different way of working. It’s not a classical model like the old houses. I wanted to see the other side, the more corporate side and the luxury product, because Margiela, for me, wasn’t really a luxury product, it was more investigative fashion rather than about the product itself.

That’s when I had an opportunity to go to Vuitton, which was a complete contrast. I did two collections with Marc Jacobs, from the moment I arrived, and then I did two collections with Nicolas Ghesquiére. It was good timing because I could work with Marc and see his way of working and then work with Nicolas, which was very different.

 How would you compare their ways of working and what did you learn from those designers?

Vuitton is such a big company and there are so many possibilities — technical possibilities. A huge atelier and everything. The sky is basically the limit of what you could do. Working with Marc was very different and a lot of fun. His way of working is about fun. Making a collection, but not doing it for six months. He would make the collection two or three weeks before the show. It was a very spontaneous way of making fashion.

Nicolas was a perfectionist. It was about working in detail. We could fit the same jacket 20 times before getting the perfect one he wanted to have. That was a very different approach and it was important for me to see and understand, to take elements from all those things and re-appropriate them, and to build up my own methodology.

 That’s a pretty fortunate set of circumstances there, working with those designers, in those houses.

I must say that I was really lucky to work with all the people I worked with. I learned an immense amount and different ways of doing things. I mean Marc, and Nicolas, and Margiela — and before that Walter. There were so many different things to learn. At one point I realised I wanted to be in a position to develop something on my own and to really have my own creative expression somewhere, and that’s when the Vetements idea was born.

 Let’s talk about that moment, when Vetements was first seeded.

It was conceived basically between me and a couple of my friends. We would meet and share our opinions about the industry and what was going on, and what we agreed on and didn’t agree on. The pre-collection, the collection, all the things that we had to do. We thought the same way and shared [something] aesthetically as well, so we thought, why don’t we put something together in our spare time?

I could have continued doing that job for another 20 years. It was quite a fortunate position to be in, but I felt like it wasn’t enough. There was something else I wanted to do. It was not to do something commercial at all. It was really just to not get creatively frustrated and to do something we liked aesthetically. It was not supposed to be a concept or a statement, but really to make clothes, not for ourselves but for girls that we projected on that we liked, and for our friends. We started doing it on the weekends, at night, after work — just as a fun project.

My brother Guram knew that we were working on this. At one point, he thought there was definitely a market for this so we should try to sell it. It was really his initiative to commercialise it, make a showroom, invite buyers, etcetera. This is how it all started in my bedroom.

Vetements A/W 2016

Vetements a/w 2016

Vetements a/w 2016

Vetements a/w 2016

Vetements a/w 2016

Vetements a/w 2016

Vetements a/w 2016

Vetements a/w 2016

Vetements a/w 2016

Vetements a/w 2016

 I have rarely seen a brand gather as much momentum in such a short time. Why do you think that happened?

Well, I think the way we work is very intuitive. We don’t force things. We always work on one garment at a time, and for example, if we spend more than 20 minutes on it, we just cancel it because it doesn’t feel right. On the other hand, I think I am quite fortunate to have Guram working on the business. The way he does market research is very different because its very closely linked to the creative process and what we do. He would never come to me and say, “We need to do that because that’s what the market asks for.” He will do his utmost to sell what we believe in as a brand, what we create. If next season we do a capsule, I know he will be behind it and try to sell it to the client.

 You expressed a shared sense of frustration with the industry among the wider Vetements team. What types of things were you talking about?

Well, basically the frustration was with the cycle. The creative cycle that didn’t really coincide at all with the production side, and the demands and the number of pieces that we had to make. The pieces became kind of soulless, you know, because they had to be made, but didn’t really have a reason to be. That was the most frustrating part for me. You need to have a jersey top because that’s what the market requests — I can’t do a jersey top at that very moment, you know?

Our idea was to make things that we really felt confident about and wanted to see people wear. I wasn’t doing that in any of my previous professional experiences.

 What do you mean?

At Margiela, of course, it was all very conceptual and had to be a very different concept every six months. It was about a certain statement. At Vuitton, it was about the product and clothes that were meant to be worn, but it was not necessarily clothes that I wanted to see people wear. My idea from the beginning in fashion is that it is about the product and it’s about the clothes that people need to be wearing. That’s the biggest compliment for a designer, to see people wearing your clothes, not to be in a fashion book. I didn’t really feel satisfied at that time with what I was doing.

 How much of that, do you think, came from needing to say something of your own?

A lot of it came from that, and because I realised we could do something on our own and it would be saying something different and in a different way. Not necessarily new or avant-garde — not at all — that was not our idea. What we do is nothing new, it’s just things that people want to wear. That was my creative motivation and the motivation of the people that I started with. I knew that it was a risk. It’s always a risk to do something like that, but I felt it was right to do that.

 In the sea of stuff out there, how do you think people pick what they want?

How do you make something that people already know, but they still want to buy because they don’t have one? This is the challenge we have to face every six months, which is an exciting challenge for a designer I think. That’s what motivates me. Every time we are having a fitting and we are trying things on we say, “Ok, what do we do with this one now to make it wantable?” That’s hard. It’s much harder than decorating something with beautiful material and shapes.

Balenciaga A/W 2016

Balenciaga a/w2016

Balenciaga a/w2016

Balenciaga a/w2016

Balenciaga a/w2016

Balenciaga a/w2016

Balenciaga a/w2016

Balenciaga a/w2016

 Balenciaga is one of the most prestigious houses in the world. How are you splitting your time  between the two?

I split my time in half basically. The good thing is both of them are in Paris and my studios are 25 minutes away from each other so practically it’s a reasonable situation. I work two and a half days at Vetements and two and a half days at Balenciaga a week.


Interview by Imran Amed for   


Demna GvsaliaDemna Gvasalia





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Stephen Jones, from Blitz club to Museum

6 Mar

Stephen Jones

Stephen Jones OBE (Order of the British Empire) is a leading British milliner based in London, who is considered one of the world’s most radical and important milliners of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.


Short Biography

Stephen Jones was born in 1957 on the Wirral Peninsula in Cheshire and educated at Liverpool College. From an early age, his mother instilled in him an appreciation of art.

He studied art at foundation level at the High Wycombe College of Art. In 1975 he travelled to London to see the exhibition Fashion from 1900-1939 at the V&A, which inspired him to pursue a career in the fashion industry.

Iconic Hats

union jack hatUnion Jack hatCdG by Stephen Jones 2006Comme Des Garçons crownStephen Jones for Simon Costin's touring Museum of British Folklore exhibitionSimon Costin’s touring Museum of British Folklore exhibitionDior Mohawk hatChristian Dior mohawk hatVivienne Westwood Harris Tweed tweed crownVivienne Westwood Harris tweed crown

He applied to study fashion design under Bobby Hillson, at the Saint Martin’s School of Art, London, where he was the sole male student in his year. Although he enjoyed being taught by Peter Lewis Crown, the designer-owner of the London couture house Lachasse, he had little prior sewing experience, and so in order to develop his skills Crown secured Jones a summer placement in Lachasse’s tailoring workroom. Jones soon requested a transfer to the next-door millinery department presided over by Shirley Hex, but was told he had to make a hat from scratch first. The hat he eventually submitted, his first original millinery creation, was a cardboard pillbox covered in blue crêpe de Chine and trimmed with a plastic iris, sprayed silver that his mother had received as a free gift from a petrol station in the 1960s. In his innocence, Jones had not realised that millinery flowers were traditionally made of silk, but Hex approved the hat, commenting on the flower’s modernity. Between 1976 and 1979 Jones spent his summer breaks working for Hex and learning about millinery methods and techniques. Through hats he developed a keen interest in fashion history, particularly the drama and exaggerated glamour of the 1950s.

Rare footage of Stephen Jones in his first salon


Jones left Saint Martin’s in 1979, the same year that he became a regular attendee of London’s Blitz nightclub in Covent Garden for New Romantics and fans of new wave music. Jones had been a Punk while at St Martins, but keenly embraced the New Romantic movement. As one of the “Blitz Kids”, he hung out with the likes of Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran, Isabella Blow, and Jean Paul Gaultier; and shared a house with Boy George and Grayson Perry, competing with them to wear the most outrageous outfits to Blitz, including a pinstripe suit with stiletto heels. Many of the Blitz Kids became his first clients, with Jones creating outlandish hats for them to wear to the club.

Hats for the Catwalk

Stephen Jones for John Galliano, 1999John Galliano, 1999dior summer 2008Dior, S/S 2008
Siri Tollerod and Stephen Jones at John Galliano Backstage, Spring Summer 2009John Galliano, S/S 2009Giles DeaconGiles DeaconLouis Vuitton fw 2012Louis Vuitton F/W 2012schiaparelli spring 2014Schiaparelli S/S 2014thom browne - fall 2014Thom Browne, F/W 2014

Jones designed a line of hats for Fiorucci in 1979. In 1980, Blitz’s owner Steve Strange provided financial backing for Jones’ first millinery salon, which opened nearby in the basement of the trendy store PX, Endell Street, Covent Garden on 1 October. It was an instant success, with Jones commenting in 2008: “Overnight, I had a business”. On New Year’s Eve 1980, Jones had his head shaved by drunk friends, leading him to discover that without hair, his head was a perfect woman’s stock size, and that he could become his own fit model, developing all his ideas and designs upon himself.

1982 saw Jones’ first Paris fashion show and his first televised show. By this point, he was able to count Diana, Princess of Wales as a regular customer, in addition to his clients from Blitz, and had a hat commissioned by the Victoria & Albert Museum for their newly refurbished Costume Court.

Feathers in the Leading Role

Helena Bonham Carter wears a fabulous swan headpiece by Stephen Jones for Giles DeaconHelena Bonham CarterStephen Jones hat

Stephen Jones hat

Lulu Guinness in a Stephen Jones 2011Lulu Guinness
Jones relocated his studio to Lexington Street in 1984. That year, Jean Paul Gaultier invited him to Paris to make hats for his show, his first designs for a Paris couturier, and he also made hats for Thierry Mugler. After their second show together, Gaultier ensured that Jones received full credit for his hats, therefore ensuring that the Paris fashion world was made aware of his work. In 1984 he also sold his first designs to a department store, Bloomingdale’s in New York.

Waterfall hat

Stephen Jones was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2010 New Year Honours.





Stephen Jones

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