MICHELE’S MUSINGS: “I hate the word unisex,” said Alessandro Michele in a talk on Monday night at the Victoria & Albert museum.
His line of work at Gucci has never been about making unisex clothes. Michele revealed that when it comes to starting a collection he always starts with a suit, which has traditionally been a constraining menswear trope that women adopted to signal liberation. For him though, it’s just an item of clothing — with no labels.
The Italian fashion luxury house sponsored the museum’s first major exhibition on menswear fashion titled, “Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear.”
The exhibition is a celebration and dissection of how men’s clothing has evolved from the 17th century to present day, and features designs from Gucci and Thom Browne and spotlights contemporary designers, such as Grace Wales Bonner and Priya Ahluwalia.
“It means a lot for a younger generation,” Michele said of the importance of the exhibition to him.
“Going through the pieces that are not just mine, but seeing how powerful the idea of clothes are. It’s pretty interesting that in 2022, we are looking at the past to find the future, that’s the thing that moved me a lot.”
Michele’s eye for fashion has always been about costume design and displaying it on a stage. The brand has gone onto forging strong relationships with musicians such as Florence Welch, Elton John and Harry Styles, who recently collaborated with Michele on a capsule collection called Gucci Ha Ha Ha, a nod to their initials and the way they sign off their messages to each other.
“Music can represent people,” said Michele, adding, “They [Styles and John] love to experiment with new clothes and they are exactly the way you see them on stage.”
Right now, the designer is taking inspiration from watching fewer things in the world. “I’m inspired by the things that stay,” he said.
London serves as an example of that, as it holds a sentimental place in Michele’s life — it was the first place he visited when he was 16 and witnessed the freedom of the fashion industry. — HIKMAT MOHAMMED
CHARLOTTE FOREVER: The ties between Chanel and Charlotte Casiraghi keep getting tighter.
Having previously shunned the public eye, the Monaco royal has embraced her Chanel brand ambassador role with gusto, hosting literary events, appearing on horseback in a couture show, singing in a video and attending the brand’s cruise show after party in the romantic villa overlooking Monte-Carlo where she previously got married.
Now the French luxury house is taking the relationship to the next level with a collection inspired by Casiraghi’s personal style. She appears in the pre-fall campaign, photographed by French artist Smith, in outfits including the quilted-effect denim jacket and jeans that she wore to attend Chanel’s cruise show in Monaco in May.
“Charlotte embodies the Chanel allure in a very authentic and natural way, all while remaining true to her own world,” creative director Virginie Viard said in a statement.
“Virginie has known me since I was a child. It’s a natural complicity that doesn’t need explanation,” Casiraghi said.
The collection, which arrived in stores on Tuesday, includes items such as suits with baggy trousers, in sober gray tweed or a more exuberant lime green-and-white houndstooth; classic items such as a long navy tweed coat or a lace-trimmed black evening dress, and more casual items like pleat-fronted jeans or a black quilted leather bomber jacket.
“When I discovered the collection, I found the things I like to wear every day and what I really feel comfortable in,” Casiraghi commented. “It’s important to be able to choose, to express something different depending on the moment.”
The campaign, all in sun-bleached hues, is accompanied by a short film set to the song “Phantom” by French singer-songwriter Sir Alice.
Underscoring its links with the musicians in its orbit, Chanel last week launched what it dubbed the Chanel Summer Tour with a two-day event at its seasonal pop-up store in Saint-Tropez, where a customized camper van greeted guests.
Entertainment included games of pétanque, a piano performance by Belgian singer Angèle, and a talk between brand ambassador Caroline de Maigret and model Blesnya Minher. A second two-day event kicked off in the Spanish city of Marbella on Tuesday, and was due to feature a concert by music duo Ibeyi. — JOELLE DIDERICH
PERFUMER’S GARDEN: Niche fragrance house Maison Francis Kurkdjian has become a patron of the Château de Versailles and will support the creation of its Perfumer’s Garden.
That garden will be located in the center of the Trianon estate, in the Châteauneuf Orangerie garden, and include hundreds of plant varieties that are used in fragrance-making. Kurkdjian is working with the Trianon’s gardeners to choose hundreds of fragrant plants that are inspired by the Trianon gardens in the 17th century.
“This exceptional garden will include traditional species, such as roses and jasmine, as well as plants with surprising scents, ranging from chocolate to apple,” parent company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton said in a statement. “There will also be malodorous plants and so-called ‘mute’ plants, such as hyacinth, peony and violet, whose scents must be reproduced synthetically for fragrances.”
The Perfumer’s Garden is set to open next spring.
Perfume history runs deep at the Château de Versailles, where in the 17th century Louis XIV commissioned work on what later became the Grand Trianon. Flowers — and perfumes — were à la mode, and the Trianon gardens became home to odoriferous species. LVMH called “the palace the cradle of the perfume-making craft from the late 17th century onwards.”
Kurkdjian has a longstanding link with Versailles and its palace. He attended the city’s perfumery school, and a few years after graduating from there, he recreated Marie-Antoinette’s Sillage de la Reine scent, concocting the juice from archival documents.
In 2006, Kurkdjian and the cofounder of Maison Francis Kurkdjian, Marc Chaya, created for the Versailles Off festival an olfactory installation, called “Soleil de Minuit.” During the two successive years after that, the perfumer dreamed up an olfactory experience in the château’s garden for the Grandes Eaux Nocturnes night fountain shows.
LVMH acquired Maison Francis Kurkdjian in 2017. — JENNIFER WEIL
NASHVILLE BOUND: Paul Wilmot Communications is branching out.
The New York-based fashion publicity firm has opened a new permanent office — but it isn’t located in Los Angeles, Paris or any of the other big fashion cities. Instead, it’s in Nashville, Tenn.
The bustling Southern city is the hometown of Paul Wilmot’s chief executive officer Hampton Carney, who is seeking to extend the company’s services in the fashion, beauty and hospitality sectors to a new community. The office will focus on VIP relations, earned media, digital services, celebrity dressing and events.
“I grew up in Nashville. It’s a city that I know and love,” Carney said. “It has always been my goal to connect the fashion, beauty and lifestyle clients that we serve in New York City to the vibrant culture, hospitality and entertainment for which the ‘Music City’ is known. Along with notable businesses now calling Nashville home, the city is a top destination for luxury tourism, industry innovators and world-class hospitality. Given the strong economic and population growth the city is experiencing, we felt the time was now to expand our services to this market.”
Over the past decade the city has grown exponentially, attracting businesses in a variety of sectors including automotive, tech, health care, manufacturing and entertainment.
Samantha Kain, president of the PR, marketing and social media firm, added: “We’ve seen more and more talent moving away from traditional hubs to cities like Nashville, Austin and Atlanta while a lot of the brands, hotels and developers we’ve worked with over the years are setting up operations and activations in Nashville. With Hampton’s connection to the city, it is a natural progression for the agency to follow.”
Carney and Kain will manage operations, business development and talent procurement while Jenny Cox of Jennifer Cox Public Relations will oversee celebrity dressing and product placement. Cox spent more than a decade at Paul Wilmot prior to launching her own business and will oversee its VIP arm.
The new office is located at 1499 County Hospital Road.
Carney acquired the majority interest in the 25-year-old agency in 2018 from the Omnicom Group of Cos., along with the minority interest held by cofounders Paul Wilmot, Ridgely Brode and Stormy Stokes. He has worked for the company since 1997. The New York office employs 30 people and the Nashville office has two. — JEAN E. PALMIERI
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