Sunday, March 18, 2018

Model Lera Abova: ‘I would rather be risky than be everyone’s cup of tea’

Lera Abova’s big break came in 2016 when she shot with photographer – and 90s grunge legend – David Sims, who became a champion of her career. Abova describes herself as his muse which, she says, “is just amazing”. “He’s an artist. To know that he sees something in me … I’m always really honest with him, crying in front of him, telling him he changed my life, which is very true.” She has also worked with Sølve Sundsbø, Colin Dodgson and Mariano Vivanco.

Abova has shot covers and fashion stories for Vogue Ukraine, Vogue Paris, Vogue Germany, Vogue Russia and Vogue Australia. She has also starred in campaigns for Joseph, Acne and Sportmax.

She grew up in a Siberian village that is “so small they don’t have it on the map”. Now 25, she moved to Germany when she was 13, and divides her time between Berlin, London and New York.

When she first moved, she couldn’t speak a word of German. “I used an electronic translator,” she says. At first, that piqued the other kids’ interest, but not for long. “That first summer was really hard. I had no one, only my skateboard. You should have seen how I looked. The other girls were so fancy … they already had boyfriends. I had a pink Pokémon T-shirt and crazy, long hair.”

She quickly started to find her feet – she learned the language: “Then, I got to meet cool people and [become] cooler and cooler … then I was the coolest!”

I had no one, only my skateboard … I had a pink Pokémon T-shirt and crazy long hair.

Abova dropped out of school, “right before my exams, when I was 18 or 19. They didn’t understand my soul. I never regretted it,” she says. “If I had had a school education, I would never have had the life I have.”

She was discovered for the first time at 17, “by a woman who believed I could be the next Kate Moss”. That didn’t work out. “No one needs a second Kate Moss,” she says. “There is never going to be a second Kate Moss – and I don’t want to be second someone.”

Later, after working in bars, she met her “mother” agent, Peter, who is, she says, “wicked. He has helped me so much, on an emotional level. He never gave up.”

“It’s really important to have good people around you in modelling,” she says. “Every business where it’s about money, beauty and fame is always going to be dirty”.

Abova shaved off her hair in what she describes as “a Britney Spears moment, when I was in a bad relationship”. Her boyfriend at the time also had a shaved head. “We looked as if we had just come out of prison.” It did her career no harm.

She describes herself as “a character model”. Before her career took off, she says, “I was so fixated on not being skinny enough or tall enough, but I thank my booker because he never told me to lose weight. I was brainwashed by some people in the industry, who I met when I was 17 … it stays with you, in your head. But my mother booker told me: ‘No, you are different, you have everything.’ I always call him Dad.”

She has started acting, appearing in a small part with a big name director – a project that is still under wraps – with another, larger role, in the pipeline. “I have always had ambitions to be on stage,” she says. “Some people are scared of other people’s opinions, but I never have been.”

She didn’t grow up wealthy, and now she pays her 11-year-old brother’s private school fees.

Abova is not seeking Insta-fame, despite having 52,000 followers on Instagram. “Instagram is a really hard subject for me,” she says. “I see the whole thing as bullshit. Stop making stupid people famous! I don’t understand it. I want to have followers because I am someone, not because I post a picture of my face 10 times a day.”

Quick to laugh and outspoken, Abova has a theory about fame: “People should love you or hate you,” she says. “I would never be in the middle. I would rather be risky than be everyone’s cup of tea.”

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Ssion’s Jeremy Scott After-Party Look Is “Slick Hillbilly”

You only need to watch a few minutes of the music videos of Ssion (aka Cody Critcheloe) to get a sense of his distinct style. There are the looks Critcheloe sports in his recent video for “Comeback,” the first single from his upcoming album, O, wherein a lookalike dons a zebra-print suit until Critcheloe enters the picture in a sparkling deep blue tank top (which he later swaps out for a sleeveless tuxedo dress and pants combo of the same color). Then there’s the flame-print button-down, red pants, and cowboy hat combo that he dons in his video for “Earthquake.” Clearly, Critcheloe’s not one for subtlety when it comes to his onstage wardrobe.

And considering these bold ensembles, it only makes sense that Critcheloe performed at the Jeremy Scott and MAC Cosmetics after-party last night at New York’s Public House in yet another kitschy look. Ssion wore a Moschino outfit comprised of a light blue denim vest and matching pants with animal-print details, cowboy boots, and colorful temporary tattoos covering his arms, a look that he describes as “slick hillbilly, like maybe Alan Jackson if he got to do a Vegas residency with a bit of Alan Vega thrown in.”

Most performers try to find onstage outfits that allow them to move comfortably and with ease, but that isn’t exactly Critcheloe’s style. “I always like to perform in clothes that are a bit too tight and shoes with a heel,” Critcheloe says. “I’ve been wearing my electric blue snakeskin boots onstage for six years now. They are so uncomfortable. I can barely walk in them, which makes me a better dancer on stage. It gives me the perfect slink . . . and they have good mojo.”

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Ivanka Trump Tweeted in Support of Time’s Up, and the Internet Is Not Having It

It seems like whenever feminism flares up in public discourse, we hear from America’s least effective empowerment spokesperson: Ivanka Trump. Trump tweeted in support of the Time’s Up initiative after watching Oprah Winfrey’s speech from the Golden Globes on Sunday. “Just saw @Oprah’s empowering and inspiring speech at last night’s #GoldenGlobes,” Trump wrote. “Let’s all come together, women and men, and say #TimesUp! #United.”

Unfortunately for Trump, the Internet has a very long memory, and no one was quite ready to let her forget her history of hypocrisy when it comes to women’s issues and her very specific brand of female empowerment (which comes with a huge blind spot). The fact that Trump tweeted at all was shocking to some, as you might think that she would have understood the established pattern by now. Remember when she said that she believed Roy Moore’s accusers, as all victims should be believed? Remember when she gave a speech on women’s empowerment in Tokyo that hardly anyone attended? Each time, people reacted online in the same way: reminding Trump that her father has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than a dozen women and has a history of treating women publicly with contempt and disrespect. If time’s up for other men, it must be for him, too.

Friday, November 17, 2017

How Two Shanghai-Bound Victoria’s Secret Angels Get Dressed to Hit the Airport

The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show isn’t set to shoot until Monday, but the girls have already turned the sidewalk into their own personal runway, even before touching down in Shanghai. Before catching their flight from New York, Angels Martha Hunt and Elsa Hosk took the lead with an impromptu photo shoot just outside of the check-in counter. It was clear where they were headed, too, thanks to super cute coordinating T-shirts that read “Angel” and “Love,” respectively.

Hosk threw on a statement coat from street-style favorite Sandy Liang. The moto jacket was done in patent leather and trimmed with pastel pink shearling—a perfect match for everything VSFS, from the satin robes worn backstage to the bright pink carpet leading into the after-party. Like Hunt, she tucked her tee into supermodel-approved off-duty skinny jeans and flat boots. Her cherry red cat-eye sunglasses tied in nicely with a crocodile bucket bag in the same hue, but it was the proverbial VS puckered lip pose that read the most angelic of all. Hunt kept things decidedly more pared back in a cool blue palette, but added polish with a menswear-inspired tweed blazer and a classic gold watch, which is sure to have come in handy when getting on Shanghai time.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Clothes From the New Y/Project x Honest By Collaboration May Not Be Transparent, But Everything Else Is

If you happen to follow Honest By’s founder Bruno Pieters on Facebook or Instagram, you’ll have seen a tantalizing image on his feeds of late: a headshot of Person Unknown with a box obscuring his/her face, and the date 19.10.17, teasing the label’s latest collaboration. So, perhaps no need for the drum roll for the big reveal, given the headline of this story already gives it away, but Glenn Martens of Y/Project is the latest designer to work with Pieters on his own project. (Yep, you likely already guessed that, given the obscured face’s tufty blonde crop and chin stubble.) Since its inception in 2009, Honest By has challenged industry thinking of where things are made, what they’re made of, and how much (usually way too much) is being charged for them; an impeccably cool and impeccably credentialed prod of the conscience, as it were.

In the case of this latest collaboration, that means a six-strong capsule of re-imagined seasonless and gender-free Y/Project pieces from the Spring and Fall 2017 collections—a trench, a striped shirt, articulated jeans, a sweatshirt/dress, a turtleneck top, and skirt-cum-pants—all of which are produced in France, with every element of their execution, fabrics, finishings, the lot, traceable back to their sources of origin. Everything also carries the GOTS tag, which means the pieces are made to the Global Organic Textile Standard. “There’s a lot of talk about sustainability these days,” Pieters said over the phone from Antwerp, where he’s based, “but it means nothing without transparency.” Everything, in other words, is naked and unafraid—including, it has to be said, the reminder of how sharp and assured Martens is as a designer, after coming off a run of stellar Y/Project shows.

“Bruno has been a mentor to me—we go way back,” says Martens, and indeed they do; Pieters tutored him while he was at Antwerp’s Royal Academy, before hiring him to consult on the European H&M offshoot Weekday, and then asking him to design the first Honest By collection, so things have gone full circle. For Martens, Pieters was a designer whose work exemplified “a level of craftsmanship we don’t find that easily in fashion today.”

Clearly those standards haven’t slackened, for this capsule doesn’t sacrifice any of the inventive detailing and interactivity typical of Y/Project—the double construction of the shirting, the detachable legs on the buccaneer denim, the broad double shoulder line on the trenchcoat. Some of the materials used for the new pieces switched, with that trench now in gabardine, not leather. The experience has also been eye-opening for Martens, fueling him to think more about his own label’s actions and accountability. “We are very much aware of where we produce, and while I wouldn’t say we are totally certified in terms of fabrics, we’re trying,” he says, listing how when he arrived at Y/Project, 80 percent of the collection was leather, while now, he says, “the only leather in the Spring 2018 collection are the shoes.”

As for Pieters, it may only be a collaboration of six pieces, but the impact of it can be far greater. “People who are interested need to be encouraged,” he says. “There aren’t a lot of role models for young designers interested in sustainability, just Stella McCartney, really, and that’s it. Glenn is still maybe more niche than that, but I think he is going to have an impact.”

Thursday, September 21, 2017

We Tag Along With Santoni’s Marco Zanini on His Summer Trip to Japan

Marco Zanini loves to travel. “As much as I long for a lazy holiday at the end of a year of exhausting work, when it’s time to plan, I get restless. I know that if I don’t feed my curiosity—moving around, exploring something new—I’ll be bored stiff after a couple of days and my mood will become intolerable!” says the creative director of Santoni. Zanini presents his second collection for the label in Milan today. After almost a year of careful, patient research, he and his boyfriend, Giuseppe, came up with a summer itinerary far-flung enough to satiate the curiosity that feeds his creative work.

The pair left for Japan at the beginning of August, avoiding the well-trod tourist route and focusing instead on a remote area north of Tokyo. “There were no Westerners, [at least] we didn’t meet any,” says the designer, who is half Italian, half Swedish. Yamagata Prefecture is four hours by bullet train from the hyperbolic urgency of Tokyo, but Zanini and Giuseppe felt worlds away. “It was really as if the time had stopped,” remembers Zanini.

Why this fascination for the Japanese countryside? “I longed for something as far away as possible from our hectic lifestyle, both mentally and physically,” he says. “I adore Japan and love everything about its lifestyle: the calmness; the humble yet hyper-sophisticated aesthetic; the art of careful, impeccable presentation. Also, being the son of a Swedish mother, I find a lot of similarities between these two cultures. They feel to me as if they were like cousins, with the same shared aesthetic values and idiosyncrasies. There’s a love for simplicity, even for severity, both in Japan and in Sweden. So, to me, Japan feels utterly exotic but also very familiar.”

Here, Zanini shares his scrapbook with Vogue.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Britney Spears and John Galliano’s Designs for Dior Inspired This Elevated Denim Label

It’s fair to say that Jerome Dahan and Noam Hanoch have denim in their genes. Dahan is a founder of Citizens of Humanity (and 7 For All Mankind) and Hanoch (who once worked under Alber Elbaz at Geoffrey Beene) was his design partner there for over 10 years. The duo is taking their obsession to the next level with Jean Atelier, a new line that brings together high-end denim and luxury ready-to-wear. The collection of jeans, skirts, blouses, jackets, and trousers starts at $425 and goes far beyond the classic five-pocket true blues, drawing on rarified fabrics from all over the globe, including French lace and selvedge denim from Japan.

“It’s a fully realized collection with its core firmly rooted in denim,” Dahan explains. “It draws inspiration from the history and heritage of blue jeans but it has a feminine aesthetic and a point of view.” There are also some pretty iconic fashion references behind it. “When we started this process, we were looking at images of Britney Spears in the ’90s and Dior pieces from Galliano’s early years at the house,” says Hanoch. “I also looked back through my design archives, all the way back to my days at Guess in the ’80s.” With designers such as Calvin Klein and Vetements riffing on classic denim tropes—overalls, western cowboy shirts, and the Texan tuxedo—on the runway, that elevated approach to the humble fabric couldn’t be better timed. And given their expertise, the cut and fit of their denim is just as exacting as you’d expect.

“We want to reach the denim aficionado who will appreciate the construction and also those who are simply attracted to the look and the feel of our fits,” says Dahan. It doesn’t hurt that he has one very stylish denim aficionado living right under their nose, namely his wife Elsa, Jean Atelier’s brand manager. A quick scroll through her Instagram reveals precisely why she’s the unofficial muse for the collection: She manages to make even the most simple pieces appear polished—skinny black jeans, cool white T-shirts, moto jackets, and yes, the occasional lace blouse and overalls. And with the full collection launching online today, mastering that easy sense of chic just got a lot easier.