Paris in four years

When I first came across @parisinfourmonths account on Instagram and hit the “follow” button for its envy-inducing photos reflecting a quintessentially Parisian lifestyle (strolls around the city, flowers, fashion and style, of course, included) I had little knowledge of the person behind all of this. Judging from the name, I assumed it was a documentation of somebody’s current venture to Paris for four months. As more and more time passed, I started questioning how long can possibly these four months last until I visited Carin Olsson’s – by then I had already learnt her name – blog and realized that “Paris in four months” wasn’t at all her current state. It was a reference to a very romantic prelude to the seemingly perfect Carin’s life that I was offered a glance at with these meticulously curated square photos.

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photo: Nadia Gric

Step by step, I learnt her story. No matter how reckless and brave her decision to leave a stable job in Sweden and install in Paris may sound, the outcome was (and is) more than rewarding. After more than four years full of difficult beginnings, challenging projects, and new discoveries Carin has earned her respectful name. For now, she has amassed almost one million of following on her Instagram account, to which she explicitly refers as her visual diary which still has the same direction as it had back in the beginning. At the same time, she goes so much further the usual ‘blogger/influencer’ tagline: Carin is also an appreciated photographer and a definite insider in the fashion industry. The names of her clients are not any less impressive: Gucci, Dior, Cartier to cite a few.

However, Carin’s level of modesty and kindness is directly proportional to her achievements. While I was waiting to meet her in the garden of Petit Palais, it was impossible for me not to notice the glances one elderly couple was giving this young Swedish woman when she entered the café and looked around with her big blue eyes and brushed through angelic blond curls. She was dressed in casual clothes: a green bomber, black T-shirt and jeans, the whole ensemble made just a notch edgier by her studded mini Lady Dior bag. Then she found me and greeted with a huge smile, as if we’d been friends for a long time before. Throughout our conversation, she never checked her phone or time, eagerly asked questions about me and willingly answered every question I asked – despite being very sweet, she’s also unashamedly open about the other side of her stellar ascension in social media and doesn’t sugar coat her words while talking about the daily life.

You’ve recently come back from a trip to Sweden to meet your family and friends. Doesn’t it feel strange to come back to your hometown after having spent four years here? Do you consider Paris as your home now?

It does feel very strange! I’d say I have 2 homes. Sweden will always be my home because that’s where I’m from, that’s where I grew up and where my family is, but I’m also very blessed to be able to call Paris my home as well.

So tell me more about that your life-changing decision back in the 2012…

Back in 2012, I was working in ELLE Decoration magazine as an editorial assistant, which was my first real job after finishing high school. I loved that, but I thought that I was missing something in my life, some excitement, perhaps. As I always wanted to live abroad, I told myself ‘let’s try this for a couple of months and see what happens’. To tell the truth, I didn’t think that I’d leave Sweden permanently, it was supposed to be my ‘get-out-of-my-sistem’ and ‘clear-my-head’ move. For beginnings, I decided to leave this job and for that everybody around me thought I was crazy! I moved for 4 months to Paris and when these months had passed, I got back to Sweden. But then I couldn’t forget Paris so in January 2013 I moved back. I don’t like to say ‘permanently’, I came here and I don’t know yet how long I will be staying (laughs).

Tell me, what do you do once this romantic and exciting period of acknowledging the fact that you’ve made such a huge change in your life passes and reality hits you? What kind of steps did you take that led you to the place that you are right now?

I wouldn’t surprise you by saying that it was hard. When I came here, I’d just broken up with my boyfriend after six years of being together, so I was heartbroken and spent much of my time crying. I was really debating whether or not I should stay, if it’s going to be too difficult for me to keep up, all kinds of stuff like this. It wasn’t a very smooth start to my career here, for sure. In the end, I decided to stick with it and try to do my best. I interned here in one showroom during the fashion week, where I sorted clothes, dressed models. It was such kind of job where you don’t earn any money at all, but I just wanted to get inside of the industry and see what it was like. After that, I took a job as an editorial assistant for websites. During all this time I also had my blog and Instagram going but I didn’t look at them as a way to earn money. I did it only for myself and then very slowly people started commenting and more people started getting in contact. I always loved taking photos but I never thought that I could actually do it as my profession; I never really thought, “I want to be a photographer and I want to do social media”, I just sort of did it and everything developed into this… It’s crazy when I think about it!

When did you have your first major career moment here? The one after which you thought ‘Wow, I’m really making it here!’

To be honest, I still don’t feel like that! The first major thing was probably a friendship with Nicole Warne from Gary Pepper Girl. Back in 2013, we started commenting back and forth on each other’s Instagrams and blogs, and when she came to Paris she suggested meeting and hanging out. We did some photo-shoots together, and that was probably the first time that I properly shot a model wearing the clothes instead of photographing only clothes. Later we stayed in contact and she asked me to come to fashion month in September so we did New York, London, Milan and Paris together. That was the best learning experience and it was precisely then that I decided it was something that I wanted to do. I know a lot of girls think that this industry is very glamorous and nice and everybody’s very sweet, which is not the case. It’s actually a very tough industry and you really really really have to love what you do to succeed. I think I got my first very serious project at Gucci and that was the moment when I had to pinch myself. I don’t really remember when exactly it was but later Dior reached out to me and asked me to come to the show and after the show they suggested to collaborate. You see, I never really thought “one day I want to work for Dior or Cartier”, it’s just a result of my love for what I do and I think it shines through. It’s a longer story than that, but it’s basically the most important things (laughs).

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photo: Nadia Gric

What are the most challenging things while working with the globally renowned brands as Dior and others?

The most important thing is to get along with people. I’m very lucky that I’ve had countless opportunities to work with amazing people that now we’re friends with, but, of course, there are always people who aren’t that welcoming. I remember being sad after so many jobs because I really don’t have a thick skin and usually I take things personally. Sometimes it’s just impossible not to pay attention so that can be really tough. Moving on to other challenges, very often people, usually photographers and others working in creative fields, think that they’re going to be able to do whatever they want and express themselves however they want, which is not always true. The main priority is to satisfy the client who has a final say on things. On the other hand, I feel that these are ‘luxurious’ kinds of problem to have at work.

Which project or journey is the most fascinating to date?

In terms of projects, the work I’ve done for Dior is something that I’ll never ever forget. It was so incredible to be a part of that but it was also a huge amount of responsibility and stress – I’d never been so scared of not performing well in my life but that made me push myself so much further. I’m forever grateful for Dior giving me this opportunity. Our collaboration took place a couple of years ago and I think Women’s Wear Daily wrote the first article acknowledging the fact that brands are starting to work with Instagram people to create content and they mentioned me and Dior. When the brand reached out to me it wasn’t so normal to let a person from Instagram take all photos of a world-renowned fashion house and it’s very cool to have been a part of it from the very beginning! Concerning travels, Morocco where I went with Cartier this summer was one of the most – I don’t even know how to describe it – extravagant journey. It was once in a lifetime experience – we were shooting in 46 degrees! (laughs).

You’re one of those people who have risen thanks to a social media. Are you comfortable being placed in the blogger/influencer category that still has negative connotations sometimes?

Absolutely! I think we must stop seeing this as something negative. Let’s be honest, of course there are people who label themselves as influencers and actually do nothing. As in every profession, there are those who do the job very well and also those who do the job very poorly; that doesn’t apply only for bloggers. People have a tendency to look down on us because they think it’s so glamorous to sip coffee and take photos of it. Of course, there are girls who do this this way, everyone does it differently, but for me it’s so much more than just being a blogger. At the end of the day, when you list what you’re doing, you see that you’re doing production, post-editing, retouching, business management, finances, marketing for yourself, branding, if you have an assistant, you’re also managing other people in your business, you’re writing, you’re the creative director of everything…You’re wearing so many hats at the same time. It’s sad that people have so many unjustified prejudices but I feel that they’re starting to change their minds about this – right now, there are many people who are fortunate enough to make a living out of blogging so they must be doing something, I guess (laughs).

Recently I read a very interesting article in Vogue about the influencers and there was this one particular remark that caught my attention: affirmation, shared by this new generation of social-media mavens themselves, that they’re having addiction to their phones, sometimes to such extents they can’t literally live without it. How do you deal with this intensity and obligation to be connected all the time?

I don’t feel this kind of anxiety at all and now I feel so unprofessional for saying this! (Laughs). I’ve always said that I’ll do this job for as long as I find that it gives me pleasure. For me, it’s absolutely essential to be able to disconnect. There are times, for example, fashion weeks when I have to be online all the time because it’s my job, but I also like to spend time with a boyfriend or friends and not look at my phone at all, so I turn off all the notifications and just relax.

Would you agree that it’s highly improbable to maintain relationships while doing a job like this?

Well, I’m not the best person to ask, as I’m not in a relationship anymore (laughs), but I think is that you have to find the right person. I believe that in a relationship you’re supposed to be each other’s biggest cheerleaders. I want to be with someone who supports me 210% and I could do the same to him as well. Not seeing your beloved one for a month or three months can be tough but there are people who support each other so much in their career choices that they learn to navigate it through. I also believe that it’s good to separate your personal and professional life, I don’t know if I’d like to have my boyfriend by my side 24/7, being involved with my blog, taking photos, which is very often the case for other bloggers. I’ve travelled before with boyfriends for work but I like to do my own thing on my own terms. In addition, it’s very hard to find a person who understands your life because it’s a very modern profession, you still need to deal with such questions as ‘so what do you do?’ and it’s hard to explain for those who are not in the industry.

Let’s talk about fashion weeks. Do you love them or do you dread them?

Both, and I think anyone in this industry would understand me. It’s definitely the most exciting time during the year, because there are so many things happening at the same time, but it’s also incredibly stressful. For me, working in fashion weeks means attending shows and presentations, but also meetings with people who are in town. I usually have the shoots scheduled at the same time, often with live delivery, which means that photos have to deliver the same day, which makes things very stressful. Then you want to catch up with friends, also simultaneously organize your projects and schedule things after the fashion week. But then again, it’s a good kind of stress to have. As freelancers, we’re never forced to do anything; we just do it because we love it. Even if I complain to my friends during these busy weeks, they know that deep in my heart I love all of that and wouldn’t be doing it otherwise.

How did you change personally during these four years?

Honestly, I don’t know if it’s because of Paris, my jobs, relationships, friends or it’s just a natural development, but I never felt stronger as a person before as I do today. I mean, bad things and comments still have influence on me, I’m not saying as if I’m made from steel, but there’s so much more. I’ve always had a problem with confidence and not believing in myself, that’s something I’m really working on but it gets better and better.

What do you miss the most about Sweden?

My family, for sure. I’m happy that I have only a few hours on the plane and I can see them. I also love how well organized everything is in Stockholm. Paris can be a little bit tough city with all its bureaucracy, paperwork, and when I go back to my hometown, I’m always shocked to see how smoothly everything goes. But then again, Paris has so many pros… That’s why I’m staying (laughs).

And what do you like the most about Paris?

I love the atmosphere the city has. I love the history, the culture, the fact that people take the time to enjoy their life – what shocked me the most was that people can buy a cake for dessert at Tuesday all for themselves (we don’t spoil ourselves like that in Sweden). That’s kind of mentality I really like. I also find fascinating that people sit and read in parks in the middle of the day. At the same time, I think that this feeling can be created in any place you’re happy in, it’s not only Paris. It’s the new energy this city has given me and the relationships that are the most important. If there was one thing I’d want people to apply for themselves from my story is that anybody can do it as well which doesn’t translate as ‘You can go to Paris’, it means you can change the direction of your life. I just gave up everything what was secure and took a huge leap of faith, and I believe anybody can do that.

So, for anyone who wants to change their life and move to another place – what do you think are the most important things to know before doing that?

It’s not such a big decision as you think it is! It sounds weird, but it really isn’t. There’s something that my mom told me that sort of changed everything: She said ‘Well if you don’t like it, you will just make a new decision’ and that made everything so much simpler. I asked myself why am I here panicking about everything? If I won’t like Paris, I can just change it. It goes with so many things in life; you’re the one making decisions and if you’re in a situation you don’t like, just do something about it. There are so many people who think that if they make a certain decision they’ll never be able to turn around, like THIS IS IT. But it’s not.

Lithuanian readers can find the interview in the newest issue of L’Officiel Mada

H&M Studio S/S 2017: Exclusive interview

Read the first part of the H&M story here.

fotograf Mattias Bardå

 

Pernilla Wohlfahrt:

Love, optimism and positivity – these are the key words of the newest H&M Studio collection for women. Why did you feel it was important to send such a message? Does it have anything to do with some kind of anxiety our world is dealing right now?

For the S/S 2017 Studio collection, we want to send out a global message of love, quite literally. There are a few pieces that carry the word again and again, kind of like a ticker tape or a constant reminder of what is important. It feels like now, more than ever, we all need positive feelings and thoughts in our lives. To not only feel loved, but give love in return, too. And, of course, it’s also a celebration of our love of fashion – it’s at the heart of everything we do.

What references to sport can we find in this collection? Why do you think this trend stays so relevant, season after season?

The H&M Studio collection is planned well in advance and based on extensive research by our dedicated team of in-house designers. We found that sportswear continues to be one of the strongest influences in fashion, probably because it’s ideal to combine with a variety of contrasting trends, such as our story of ballet for this season. It is also a very comfortable and relaxed trend, which we believe appeal to a lot of people. We were very much drawn to the strength, grace and passion of ballet, and the feminine details such as romantic ruffles or pin-tucks are instantly brought up-to-date with sporty touches like drawstrings at the neck, waist and hem or elastic waistbands. There are also pieces such as re-worked anoraks, running shorts and trekking sandals.

Many designers evoke the notion of modernity while describing their works – sometimes it even seems the word has lost its meaning. What does “modern” in fashion mean precisely for you?

I think the word “modern” in fashion means being a reflection of the current times, whether that is socially, culturally or even emotionally. In a funny way, it’s both looking at the past and into the future to come to the present.

There are many discussions about what women of nowadays look like. They’re strong, independent, successful, brave, beautiful… What woman do you have in mind while creating?

Inspirations vary season to season, especially as we always design with our customers in mind and they are very engaged in the fashion world, so it’s often more about a story we want to tell rather than a specific woman. For example, this season’s message of love – with that, we like to think that our woman exudes a combination of strength, gentleness and open-mindedness. She’s self-confident and dedicated, and of course, loves fashion, mainly for its ability to express personal style.

This collection is presented in a see now-buy now format. What do you think this step means for such a fashion giant as H&M?

We have been monitoring this new era for the industry carefully over the past few years. It’s very exciting and the format feels natural to us. It enables us to come even closer to our customer and open up for a broader audience. Closing the gap between the retail calendar and runway calendar by making the H&M Studio collection available straight from the runway will hopefully be appreciated by our customers and we value the direct communication we can have with our customers through a “see now, buy now” runway show. I think anything that brings us closer to our customers and makes fashion even more accessible is very positive and we look forward to testing it out.

PRESS_IMAGE_Andreas-2Andreas Löwenstam:

H&M Studio newest collection for men is all about contrasts. Could you tell more about ideas behind the new designs?

For the S/S 2017 Studio Collection, we were inspired by the contradictions within sports and movement – the strength, precision and elegance, the traditional and the modern. Sheer layers are contrasted with wool or leather, body-hugging knits worn with roomy trousers, graphic black and white punctuated by bright fuchsia. The overall aesthetic is clean and fluid, with classic menswear pieces reborn in lighter wools, nylon and sheer silk, alongside sporty touches such as lacing and drawstrings. The man we had in mind for this collection is, of course, fashion-conscious, but ultimately, he doesn’t want to compromise on comfort or style.

What role, in your opinion, fashion can play in shattering usual gender stereotypes? And more importantly, do you see any really important changes? It seems that you’re also venturing this way, as you evoke the importance of “sensitivity” in this collection, which isn’t the most traditional way to talk about men’s clothes…

I believe fashion can play a big role in shattering traditional gender stereotypes. It’s interesting because in some ways, the basic modern wardrobe has always been genderless – jeans, t-shirts, shirts, blazers, etc. are worn by both men and women – but I welcome all borrowing between what is seen as traditionally “womenswear” and “menswear”. It can only make fashion more interesting and inspiring to the world at large.Today, the male customer has become quite sensitive and brave, but we find that he definitely does not want to compromise on either comfort or style. That is one of the reasons why men are already embarking on a new kind of dress code where they wear suit trousers with trainers and a cashmere jumper, where a long tunic shirt over trousers can look absolutely stunning and stylish. I see this behaviour only getting stronger.

This time collections for men and women are merged and presented together. How do you think this is beneficial for buyers and designers? Do you believe that in future we won’t have distinct fashion weeks for women and men anymore?

In the fashion industry at large – and all around the world on the street – womenswear and menswear already overlap in trends and inspirations, so sharing a runway feels natural. From a design point of view, at H&M we have one large in-house design team that freely shares inspiration with each other so there is even now a lot of cross-pollination of ideas. For the Studio collection, it’s one core dedicated team further divided into womenswear and menswear. And for S/S 2017, they shared the same overall inspiration for the collections. Merging menswear and womenswear in the same fashion show, and indeed the whole “see now, buy now” approach could represent the future. We look forward to testing this approach at our S/S 2017 show.

Where did you look for inspirations?

I travel frequently for work and pleasure, so that’s always a great opportunity to see what people are wearing all around the world. I tend to focus on how different people are putting certain and often the same kind of pieces together – it’s fascinating. Social media, of course, is another great source of inspiration, from the curated accounts that feature only vintage fashion editorials to the latest influencer. But I am also a great lover of music. You can get so much energy from listening to melodies, rhythms and lyrics, so I was also quite happy to collaborate with The Weeknd recently on our “Spring Icons” campaign, for example.

This collection is presented in a see now-buy now format. What do you think this step means for such a fashion giant as H&M?

We view the “see now, buy now” aspect as an opportunity to have direct communication with our customers, which can have a positive impact. The runway show that accompanies “see now, buy now”, previously an industry-only event, is also a great opportunity to engage with customers. Fashion has become truly global now, which is so exciting, but the way it’s also become more inclusive is a positive step forward. As a company, our aim has always been to provide our customers around the world with clothes, shoes and accessories that they will genuinely love and continually wear. Pieces that can effortlessly be mixed with their existing wardrobe and feel like a part of them. Pieces that they feel truly express their personal style and love of fashion.

Lithuanian readers can find this interview in April’s issue of L’Officiel Lithuania

H&M Studio S/S 2017: First look

With so many seismic shifts changing the landscape of fashion for the past several seasons, there aren’t any doubts that we’re entering a new epoch where absolutely all the traditional, rigid rules are being unmercifully shattered: What models do we want to see on the stage? What kind of attitude do we want designers to have regarding the customers? What kind of clothes do we want to wear? How? And, most importantly, when?

H&M Studio S/S17 backstage
H&M Studio S/S17 backstage. Photo courtesy of H&M

Yesterday the fashion giant H&M presented a collection which marked an important milestone for them in many ways: it was the first one including the ensembles both for women and men and it was also the first show following the famous “See Now Buy Now” concept, which means that immediately after the demonstration the guests could shop entire looks from a special pop-up store. Which also means that you can do the same in H&M stores all around the world. It’s exciting to know that you don’t have to wait for  6 months to buy that special thing you loved on the runway, isn’t it? (even though I have to say I’m really interested to see how the rest of the fashion industry is going to adapt to this new strategy…)

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H&M Studio S/S17 backstage. Photo: courtesy of H&M
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Pop up store. Photo courtesy of H&M

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Having joined the H&M family as the representative of H&M Lithuania, I was absolutely fascinated by the show: The collection was sending a really strong and positive message, embodied not only by the written “LOVE” motif which was recurrent in many ensembles, but also by the whole atmosphere, starting from the venue (tennis club turned into a huge light room with bucolic details) finishing with the way models adopted and presented their looks.  People were going crazy seeing models walk the runway in such a nonchalant and cheerful manner! As for the clothes, they celebrated the soft, romantic sides of femininity and masculinity, and the way Pernilla Wohlfart and Andreas Lowenstam chose to incarnate these ideas was simple, but original and unconventional at the same time: Oversized silhouettes, see-through materials, ruffles on the garments which are usually used for making sport clothes, minimalistic four-shade-only color palette (consisting of black, white, fuchsia and moss green) – everything was true to the spirit of the brand and true to the spirit of our times. One of the main concerns of designers is to stay relevant season after season, and H&M does it with such an ease and effortlessness!

Here are some of my favorite runway looks (I have to say I especially loved the fuchsia ensembles, I don’t know what’s happening between pink and me these days!):

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The show was crowned by a surprise performance from The Weeknd (!!!), followed by an exclusive pop-up store, DJ show and… great food (I ate the sweetest eclair of my life –  such pastry filled with caramel at midnight time was a really heavy sin, but soo worth it!) H&M certainly knows how to party, right?

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STUDIO BON

Stephane Feugère

This was also my look for the collection (loved the Photobooth effect the photographers developed):

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This is only a first part on H&M. Exclusive interviews with Parnilla Wohlfart and Andreas Lowenstam as well as more insights into the collection are coming soon in L’Officiel Lithuania magazine and later on my blog!

You look like a Barbie and it’s (not) bad

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Elie Saab spring/summer 2017. Source: vidapress

Picture a scene: you see a woman opening the doors of a café with one assured gesture, transmitting the sense of excessive self-confidence even from the distance. She winks her eye flirtatiously to a waiter and chooses the sunniest table, where the sunrays could fall on her flawless face. Then asks for a cup of tea or coffee and takes out a mini mirror from her bag just to check how her glittery lips are looking (if you had to choose the most attiring detail of her outfit, it would definitely be these lips). Her hair is tied in two whimsical braids and her dress immediately grabs the eye because of its billowing silhouette and soft pink color. The mini bag is accessorized with several fluffy charms. Of course, high heels marked with colorful stripes are not any less impressive. And just in case you thought I was describing a little girl – no, she’s not twelve or thirteen years old. She’s an adult. It’s possible that if you saw a woman dressed from head to toes in tiger prints, you’d be more willing to label her “stylish” than this strange example. However, there’s one subtle nuance. This woman was stylish enough to walk down Fendi runway. Or to be more precise, legendary fashion house created this woman themselves and suggested that we follow her example.

Milan: Fendi RTW Spring Summer 2017
Fendi spring/summer 2017. Source: vidapress

This notion of “Barbie image” has exclusively negative associations. Things that pop into our heads as soon as we hear these two words usually are these: Excess of pink, inappropriately short clothes, glittery fabrics, long nails, peroxide hair, a small puppy in a handbag… In terms of food, it’s an overdose of sugar. All of it sounds so sweet you might even throw up. Not a single woman who considers herself stylish or elegant will ever allow herself look “like a Barbie”, because it’s an obvious sign of a poor taste, sometimes even a symbol of vulgarity. Nonetheless, every season designers more or less play with this theme and challenge themselves in this tight rope walk between sweet cuteness and looking “cheap”. For this spring/summer, however, the creators wrapped this “plastic” Barbie style in subtle, fairytale-worthy layers. It’s quite a new way to approach this image. The afore-mentioned Fendi fashion house presented romantic and light ensembles together with eye-popping accessories, but the result looks probably quite better than you imagined while reading the introduction.

At Moschino, the paper-doll parade reigned supreme: Jeremy Scott created ironic dresses which looked as if taken out from coloring books, where you can just cut the clothes you want and stick on a doll. At Rodarte, the it-dress of the season was definitely the glitzing red one with pompous shoulders. All of these examples characterize the trend that I’ve already evoked for several times in my articles. The so-called maximalism insists that more is more and more is definitely better. And we’re talking about the daily wardrobe here, so when an occassion to dress up comes, the formula “less is more” is practically forgotten. That’s why clothes are ornated with cute, sometimes even infantile motives of butterflies, flower blooms, and especially loads of glitter or other glistening details. They’re everywhere – not only on clothes, but also on handbags, shoes and… lips. This trend is entering the beauty sphere so that it could challenge the usual notions of what is considered to be beautiful and elegant. Recently, the beauty editor of ELLE UK Sophie Beresiner made an experiment and spent an evening with glitzy lips. The results were astonishing: Men and even women ran after her to tell compliments. Beauty specialists encourage us not to be afraid to adorn eyelids, cheeks or even ears with glitters. Everything depends from the effect you want to create.

Rodarte show, Backstage, Spring Summer 2017, New York Fashion Week, USA - 13 Sep 2016
Rodarte spring/summer 2017 backstage. Source: vidapress

This style encompasses all the other smaller trends that have been at the zeitgeist for some seasons, such as glitzy tiaras, pink color, extravagant accessories. It’s not easy to explain this seemingly irrational penchant for princess clothes, but it’s evident that it’s not only a response to a destabilizing current political, social and economical situation, but also to feminist discussions concerning the way a strong modern woman looks. One of the examples is the slogan T-Shirt designed by Maria Grazia Chiuri for her debut at Dior: “We should all be feminists”. Model with this T-Shirt also wore a romantic tulle maxi skirt.

Christian Dior show, Backstage, Spring Summer 2017, Paris Fashion Week, France - 30 Sep 2016
Dior spring/summer 2017 backstage. Source: vidapress

Woman’s strength can’t be defined by clear and rigid rules; She doesn’t need to wear masculine clothes to look powerful. It seems to be the main message that the designers are sending. They also insist that tenderness, delicacy, softness which is sometimes identified as infantile “Barbie style” doesn’t translate weakness, so they suggest that women start following their instincts and inner wishes without contemplating too much about stereotypes associated with certain styles. Even if a childhood dream to dress like a princess arises, you don’t need to wait for your wedding or any other very special occasion to dress like that. Of course, it doesn’t mean that you have to recreate sweet style from head to toes – sometimes all you need are small details to sprinkle on your daily uniform to make it more cheerful. Talking about other characteristics of “plastic Barbie style”, evoked in the beginning of the article… Don’t worry. Being “plastic” still doesn’t have anything in common with good taste, no matter how contradictory this notion can be.

Lithuanian readers can find this article in here.

What beautiful and sustainable fashion looks like

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Source: H&M

Let’s admit that sustainable fashion is still quite an obscure term, shrouded in mystery and stamped with uncertainty. Even though this environment-responsible philosophy of consumption emerged in the late eighties, it’s probably only in the past few years that designers have become widely aware of the pollution fashion industry causes and are challenging themselves to engage in the right ways to produce and present their creations. And by right I mean not only making sure the production process doesn’t have any harmful impact on the environment, but also showing respectful treatment to industry workers and setting an example for other companies and future generations.

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Source: H&M

This week, a meaningful initiative by H&M was presented to its worldwide audience: the new Conscious Exclusive collection made from recycled shoreline waste. It doesn’t sound particularly glamorous, but once you see an ethereal, floor-skimming and awe-inspiring dream plissé gown from BIONIC® (for those not initiated: It’s a recycled polyester born from, yes, the already mentioned shoreline waste) worn by iconic Russian model Natalia Vodianova, one cannot continue thinking ecological materials are an obstacle to produce luxurious and beautiful clothes (who even said that?) The collection, available in the stores from April 20, won’t be limited to womenswear or menswear: Clothes for kids and fragrance are also included so socially responsible habits are promoted in different spheres. This collection is all about shattering existing stereotypes concerning sustainable materials and the difficulties that surround the production.

Bearing in mind that fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters, such collections should actually become a norm. At the time, they’re still garnering attention mainly because of their exclusivity. If more and more companies were to follow, it could seriously revolutionize the way we consume fashion. The role of celebrities and influencers shouldn’t also be neglected: Just remember Emma Watson, wearing a Calvin Klein dress made from recycled plastic bottles in Met Gala 2016. It should be reminded that ecological approach to fashion is not only the designers’ but also customers’ responsibility: we’re used to hearing we shouldn’t buy too much because: a) most of the things bought spontaneously won’t be ever worn, b) we lose our money and it’s not economical to behave this way, c) we don’t really ned a lot of things to create an exceptional style, but… the argument of doing harm for nature by buying irresponsibly is still quite rarely evoked.

Why I used to hate turtlenecks

When I was a little girl, I wore turtlenecks basically everyday and with everything – jeans, skirts, even with dresses, as it’s extremely popular right now. Then came a phase where I started hating them and surprised my mom by a firm statement that from now on, I say goodbye to this “horrible sweater” (it must have sounded very serious coming from a 14 year old): They seemed to be the most boring, faceless item one could have ever invented, a pure embodiment of sartorial ennui. I just couldn’t come up with any interesting ensembles incorporating turtlenecks, so I just abandoned them. This decision also coincided with my first modest efforts to create my own style. 7 years from that, I still don’t have a single turtleneck.

Street Style, Spring Summer 2017, Paris Fashion Week, France - 01 Oct 2016
Paris Fashion Week. Source: vidapress

During recent seasons, I started embracing some things, which I had been constantly rejecting for several years, starting from something as simple as sneakers or clothes with more complex cuts and silhouettes. Experimentation has not only turned my eyes to new things, but also renewed my interest in some completely forgotten items. And yes, turtleneck is one of them. Thanks to absolutely brilliant street style examples, turtleneck can be crowned the coolest item of now.

So, why should you have a turtleneck and how to pull it off?

1.Well, it’s obvious that dressing in winter is quite a sartorial challenge. “Warm” doesn’t usually equal “beautiful” and style gets lost somewhere between all the layers we put on ourselves in order to fight freezing cold. It’s not a surprise most of the people working in fashion are quietly and proudly suffering during fashion weeks in winter, because putting on warm tights with winter boots just doesn’t look very cool; so ephemeral see-through dresses and stilettos are still favored in this case. But lately, warm clothes have come out from the marges of style and turtleneck is definitely one of them. No, it didn’t go through an extreme makeover in order to become more desirable; it’s just that the designers acquired a new perspective on this extremely-boring-sweater. It matches jeans, tailor paints and skirts just equally as well and it is an ultimate feel-warm, feel-good champion. But it still doesn’t change the fact it can look boring, right? The secret lies in matching: choose colorful tones to brighten your mood (one of the best combinations I’ve ever seen was a bright yellow turtleneck with black leather skirt and leather jacket), spice up your ensemble with accessories (colorful bag or brooches), don’t be afraid of oversized versions (think pink with a large fuchsia turtleneck and jeans, for example!), opt for untraditional turtleneck versions (such as glitzy ones, as shown in the picture above).

2. From now on, you can wear your favorite summer dresses all year round. Just match them with a turtleneck. This is an absolutely trending idea right now (take cues from Valentino, for example). The idea sounds quite attractive, doesn’t it? I’d suggest paying attention to materials and colors: a long, thick turtleneck won’t be a great match for a breezy and light summer dress. For the best effect, choose complementing colors and materials that don’t contrast very much.

Street Style, Spring Summer 2016, Paris Fashion Week, France - 02 Oct 2015
Pernille Teisbaek. Source: vidapress

3. A turtleneck is a great option for reinventing your office look, especially for colder days. It just spells business and looks effortlessly cool, styled with a dark blazer and tailored pants. For a less formal look, match it with towering heels and statement earrings (or a pendant). Actually, any type of uniform (in other words, a quite formally looking ensamble) looks instantly more stylish when updated with a modest turtleneck: pay homage to your school years and match a cozy turtleneck with a plissed skirt.

EXCLUSIVE Milan Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2015 - Street styleFeaturing: Giorgia Tordini
Where: Milan, Italy
When: 20 Feb 2014
Credit: The Styleograph/WENN.com
Giorgia Tordini. Source: vidapress

4. Finally, your turtleneck doesn’t have to be a sweater… It can also be a dress! A cozy, body-hugging dress with a turtleneck is a very feminine and romantic solution to the demureness of a traditional turtleneck sweater. Just match it with eye-attiring accessories and let your dress be a comforting background to them. Your thigh-high boots/colorful clutch/other extravagant pieces you bought but don’t know what to match with will thank you.

So, how do you match your turtlenecks? And where do you shop for the most beautiful ones?

 

Japanese diamond in New York

It wasn’t such a long time ago when the online luxury fashion retailer Net-A-Porter decided to include Japanese designer’s Hanako Maeda’s brand Adeam on their website. Without a single doubt, this was quite an impressive omen of a wider recognition, but it certainly wasn’t the first time the fashion world became aware of this name. In fact, Adeam appeared on the radars in 2013, when it presented its first collection during New York Fashion Week. And still, this kind of attention for a particularly young brand, coming from the online giant raised some very important questions: who is this woman, already being compared with such Japanese design legends as Rei Kawakubo?

Hanako hasn’t given many interviews yet, but there are certain things that emerge very quickly, some details that are impossible to ignore. It seems that fashion was her destiny, programmed from the very start: Her parents own fashion brand Foxey that presents ready-to-wear collections. It’s quite uncommon for a child to decide to create his/her own brand rather than develop family business (aren’t we already used to successful stories of different generations, or even dynasties, perpetuating family’s heritage?), but there aren’t many other traditional things in Hanako’s story anyway. Even though this young woman, who was born in Tokyo, grew surrounded by sketches and fabrics, had a possibility to decrypt the subtleties of design from a very young age, it wasn’t family’s influence or fascination for fashion that encouraged her to take her own, independent steps in this sphere. It’s quite the opposite. In New York, Hanako studied art history, anthropology as well as Greek and Roman cultures. It took some time until one of the most obvious realizations came upon her: Fashion is also art, only it has probably the biggest audience at its disposal and gives quite effective tools to express ideas. Just like many other young students, aspiring to be designers, Hanako started searching for internships. But not every young creator gets to be an intern in Vogue – this success acted as a very strong encouragement. After working in a prestigious fashion magazine and helping Phillip Lim with this designs, Hanako returned to Tokyo and established her label Adeam (which is her own name, only in backwards). She created a capsule collection and then presented it to her parents – Hanako doesn’t hide that in order to receive support and investment, the fact that she was their daughter wasn’t enough. She had to show a serious attitude and strong ideas without expecting any concessions.

Adeam New York RTW Spring Summer 2017
Adeam Spring/Summer 2017. Source: vidapress

It’s very difficult not to fall in clichés and stereotypical categories when talking about Japanese designers, not to give misleading conceptions. Adeam collections could be described as a cultural crossroad, something like Tokyo-meets-New York but also where other cultures are more than welcome, even if they’re overshadowed by these two principal urban centers. With almost scientific approach, Hanako dissects and displays what’s essential in this cultural conversation between the East and the West. By looking at Spring/Summer 2017 collection, I can’t help thinking about the French influence. There’s simply something very Dior-esque there (a bit from Bill Gaytten’s years) with those elegant, oversized silhouettes. But Japanese culture is undoubtedly prevalent, incarnated by intricate, origami-worthy cuts, the way clothes are matched together, finally, the subtle prints are also reminiscent of Japanese spirit. In Fall/Winter 2016-2017 collection, sentiment of Japanese arts and crafts is present, but what’s important is that it’s not so easily decoded. Her country’s history lies in a very particular type of braiding and intricate patchwork, used to design clothes that will get you from the morning to the late night. Sophisticated evening dresses are displayed next to tracksuits, untraditionally frilled skirts, asymmetric tops and other finely detailed ensembles.

Japanese designers (like Yohji Yamamoto or Rei Kawakubo) are essentially viewed as partisans of avant-garde movement, but behind these surreal and often shocking decisions, untraditional cuts and attention-grabbing details usually lies a wish to exalt a feminine (or a masculine) body, give original answers to what a 21st century people want to wear in an unconventional way. Adeam clothes are precisely that. Translated in simpler words, they reconcile art with practicality. This formula is constantly repeated and evoked by different designers, especially by those who wish to outline their originality. Isn’t it, after all, a goal of almost every creator, keeping in mind the necessity to make even the most surreal creations adaptable to streets and, on the other hand, to inject some originality and creativity even to the most practical pieces in order to make them more desirable?

Adeam presentation, Fall Winter 2016, New York Fashion Week, America - 11 Feb 2016
Model from Adeam Fall/Winter 2016 collection. Source: vidapress

Hanako is very attentive to her heritage and doesn’t shy away from Japanese folklore details, but marries them with an urbanistic, modern style philosophy. That’s how elegant hoodies, oversized proportions, turtlenecks, shirts and tracksuits find their place in the ensembles. Even though some critics are hesitant about her style, whether it’s distinctive enough, in what sense it is innovative and original, the works are more than promising. When Adeam presented its first collection during New York Fashion Week, the brand received offers to collaborate with Shakira, Alicia Keys and Lady Gaga, and, of course, the before mentioned contract with Net-A-Porter means that a much larger audience has a chance to get familiar with Hanako’s world. It’s a sign for Japanese design icons – they already have a talented successor.

Lithuanian readers can find this article in the newest Lamu Slenis paper issue