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Fashion Television’s Jeanne Beker Turns Curator for ‘Politics of Fashion’ Exhibition

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Backstage at Maison Martin Margiela’s fall 2012 haute couture show. (Photo: Tyrone Lebon)

If you know fashion, you know Fashion Television. Hosted by the indefatigable Jeanne Beker, the Toronto-based fashion news show ceased production in 2012 after 27 seasons of designer interviews and from-the-collections reports. (In many American markets, it aired before or after its Canadian counterpart, Fashion File, prompting viewers to wonder why stateside networks jettisoned the newsy angle on fashion after the CNN run of Elsa Klensch.) Beker is now making her curatorial debut with “Politics of Fashion | Fashion of Politics,” an exhibition that opens September 18 at Design Exchange in Toronto.

The Canadian design museum will showcase more than 200 works that reveal fashion as a powerful tool of expression, including the (relatively) scandalous non-gown worn by Margaret Trudeau to the White House in 1977, a gold leopard print burqa from Jeremy Scott‘s spring 2013 “Arab Spring” collection, and an artisanal leather poncho from the fall 2013 Maison Martin Margiela collection. Fashion designer Jeremy Laing is masterminding the exhibition design, while Design Exchange curator Sara Nickleson worked with Beker on organizing the show. The bold and often subversive pieces, which span from the 1960s (a star-spangled Bobby Kennedy-for-president paper dress) to today (an androgynous Rad Hourani jacket) are organized around five themes: Ethics/Activism, War/Peace, Consumption/Consumerism, Campaign/Power Dressing, and Gender/Sexuality.

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Design Students Compete for World Sneaker Championship Title

pensole beltIt started with 30 carefully selected design students from 16 countries. Divided into eight design teams, with three footwear designers and one color and materials designer in each, they took an original design idea from concept to finished design over the course of four weeks as competitors in the World Sneaker Championship. Part footwear design master class and part sneaker smackdown, the event is organized by Pensole, the footwear design academy founded in 2010 by Nike veteran D’Wayne Edwards, and after Friday’s presentations to industry pros, the finalists (in eight categories and for eight sponsoring brands) have been chosen. Head to the online home of Sports Illustrated by 6 p.m. EST Wednesday to cast your online vote for the overall winning design as the finalists head to Vegas to present their designs at the FN Platform trade show. The big winner, to be announced late Wednesday, will be presented with the coveted (and pencil-studded) Pensole World Sneaker Championship belt (pictured) and the possibility of seeing their design sold at retail.

Hollywood Glamour Coming to MFA Boston

(Edward Steichen)

Sartorially speaking, the summer has belonged to the idiosyncratic, emotionally fraught fashion genius known as Charles James, the subject of exhibitions at both New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Menil Collection in Houston. The glamour continues next month, sans James, in Boston as the Museum of Fine Arts rolls out the red carpet for “Hollywood Glamour: Fashion and Jewelry from the Silver Screen.”

The exhibition will focus on how jewelry—something of an MFA specialty—and clothing contributed to the style of major stars of the 1930s and 1940s, from Gloria Swanson (pictured here in a 1927 photo by Edward Steichen) and Greta Garbo to Joan Crawford and Mae West, who at five feet tall, often got her kicks in nine-and-a-half-inch platform shoes. In addition to fashion (think designs by Adrian, Chanel, and enough satin to make Lanvin’s Alber Elbaz say assez!) and jewelry (including recently donated gems by Trabert & Hoeffer-Mauboussin), a “silver screen” in the gallery will play highlights from famous films. An equally star-studded companion exhibition, “Karsh Goes Hollywood,” will feature photographs by Yousuf Karsh from the 1940s through the 1960s.

“Hollywood Glamour: Fashion and Jewelry from the Silver Screen” is on view at the MFA Boston from September 9 through March 8, 2015.

Mark Your Calendar: Bill Cunningham at 92Y

The METROPOLITAN OPERA Season Opening Night GALA

The indefatigable Bill Cunningham has been prowling the streets for stylish types since World War II, child, when his camera of choice was a Brownie. Come September 3, the 85-year-old aesthete will pedal up to the 92nd Street Y—not to snap photos but to join Fern Mallis on stage for a rare interview. The event, announced today, will kick off the fourth year of Mallis’s “Fashion Icons” series, during which she has interviewed everyone from André Leon Talley and Bruce Weber to Tom Ford and Vera Wang with a surgical, this-is-your-life approach that inevitably reveals all manner of fun facts (did you know that Penelope Tree was a college classmate of Wang’s? Or that she herself had seven wedding dresses, in a nod to Chinese tradition?). Those interested in getting a peek at the man behind the blue French work jacket should grab tickets here, and fast. They’re likely to be gone in a flash.

Wes Gordon, Tanya Taylor Among New Crop of CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Finalists

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From left, looks from the fall 2014 collections of Wes Gordon and Tanya Taylor.

The Council of Fashion Designers of America and Vogue have announced the new crop of finalists for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund initiative. Now in its eleventh year, the program provides financial support and business mentorship for emerging designers. Among the past winners are Joseph Altuzarra, Alexander Wang,and Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler. The 2014 finalists are:
• Edie Parker – Brett Heyman
• Eva Fehren – Eva Zuckerman
• Gigi Burris Millinery – Gigi Burris
• Grey Ant – Natalie Levy and Grant Krajecki
• Orley – Matt Orley, Alex Orley, and Samantha Florence
• Paul Andrew – Paul Andrew
• Ryan Roche – Ryan Roche
• Simon Miller – Daniel Corrigan and Jake Sargent
• Tanya Taylor – Tanya Taylor
• Wes Gordon – Wes Gordon

The finalists were selected by a committee of fashion power players that includes Vogue‘s Anna Wintour, whose tireless championing of the initiative has resulted in similar prizes across the globe, and CFDA President Diane von Furstenberg. Over the next few weeks, the group will meet with each of the finalists to review their current collections and conduct in-depth interviews (with $300,000 up for grabs, there’s no pressure) before embarking on site visits to their design studios (again, no pressure). A design project with Maybelline New York. is in the works, and a Fashion Fund Finalists’ fashion show is planned for October is Los Angeles. The winner(s) will be announced in New York City on November 3.

Put a Balloon Dog on It! H&M ‘Collaborates’ with Jeff Koons

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lisa perry koons“I have a little bit of the heebie-jeebies by ‘art inspired by fashion’—or art printed on fashion,” said designer Zac Posen during a recent on-stage conversation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Look no further than H&M’s new “fashion loves art collaboration” for an example of what Posen meant.

Last night the Swedish fast fashion juggernaut, the lead sponsor of the Whitney’s Jeff Koons-o-rama, inaugurated its new 57,000-square-foot Fifth Avenue flagship by plastering the place with images of the artist’s monumental Balloon Dog (Yellow) (1994-2000). H&M has also printed an image of the celebrated Celebration series sculpture on a black leather handbag that it touts as “the ultimate art-meets-fashion statement from the ultimate post-pop artist.”
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At Chanel, Le Corbusier Inspires Concrete Couture

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At left, a view of the Paris apartment designed by Le Corbusier that inspired Chanel’s latest haute couture collection and runway show. (Photos from right: © FLC/ADAGP, Olivier Saillant)

chanel fw coutureHaving recently tapped into markets high (fine art) and low (the grocery store) to inspire his collections for the megahouse of Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld looked to the work of Le Corbusier to fire up his creativity for the fall couture. With the blessing of the Fondation Le Corbusier, he transformed the Grand Palais to resemble the paradoxical outdoor living room, complete with fireplace, of the long-demolished Champs-Elysées apartment that Corbu designed in 1929 for one Charles de Beistegui. “All white concrete, with some baroque elements,” said Lagerfeld yesterday in a post-show interview, as he described his architectural inspiration.

The modern material found its way into the collection via tiny tiles of gray and white concrete (pink and green are in the works) that Lagerfeld used for elaborate or starkly geometric mosaic-style embroideries that accented bodices, traced hems, and encrusted entire dresses, all shown with flat sandals and hairstyles that evoked plumage—in a nod to the rara avis who is the twenty-first century couture customer. “What I liked about this collection is that it’s really flawless, impeccable shapes,” said Lagerfeld of the 70 looks he sent down the grandly scaled runway. “They’re light, they float, they don’t walk heavily…and I think that makes it more modern.”
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Quote of Note | Thomas Tait

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All in a Delaunay’s work. Looks from the fall 2014 colllection of Thomas Tait, winner of the inaugural LVMH Young Designer Prize.

“It seems fashion may be having a renaissance, where understanding the fragility of creative people in such a high pressure industry is vital to success. Having met some of the strongest designers in the industry through the prize, it’s inspiring and reassuring to see such an impressive assembly of successful creatives. Phoebe Philo who can direct a french fashion house via London whilst raising a young family, or Raf Simons who manages his own brand successfully whilst restoring the house of Christian Dior. To me these are just a couple of the inspiring people who have managed to find a balance at the big breaking point.”

-Fashion designer Thomas Tait in an editorial published this week in the Financial Times

See the World Through Yves Klein-Blue-Colored Lenses

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Having missed their splashy coming-out party at Colette in Paris, we first encountered a pair of Yves Klein Blue sunglasses on the chiseled face of a gentleman at the Munich airport. The stunning ultramarine specs, made by indie eyewear brand Etnia Barcelona, mark the first time that the Yves Klein Archive has authorized a brand to use the exact color patented by the artist as “International Klein Blue.” You can find the aviator-style sunglasses at the New Museum shop and the full collection at Etnia Barcelona. And did we mention the good cause? Royalties from the Klein collection go to OrphanAid, a non-profit organization that develops programs and projects to help vulnerable children and families in Ghana.

Quote of Note | Harold Koda

Charles James ballgown“[A]t the end of his life, if you went down to the street and said, ‘Charles James lives there,’ nobody would care. But think about Anna Piaggi—she had Antonio [Lopez] do all these drawings of his work immediately after he died. The people who were really savvy never forgot him. It’s just that he was never a household name, even when he was at his peak. He was always known as being at the cutting edge of the design world. I think what will happen with this exhibition is that fashionable people will come in, and they’ll be inspired by the colors and the shapes, but they will [translate] them in a more traditional way so that [the clothes] can be easily manufactured. But I think the people who will come away with even more inspiration will be industrial designers, graphic designers, and architects, because you will see such interesting ways of thinking.”

-Curator-in-charge of the Costume Institute Harold Koda, who organized “Charles James: Beyond Fashion” with Jan Glier Reeder. The exhibition is on view through August 10 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Pictured: Clover Leaf Ball Gown designed in 1953 by Charles James

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