BLKLN EXCLUSIVE: NEIL GROTZINGER

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Neil Grotzinger:

Gender, Menswear, and Couture.

 
Neil Grotzinger

Neil Grotzinger

When someone asks you about men's fashion what usually comes to mind?  Suits, blazers, overly hyped sneakers, mortgage payment priced designer t-shirts?  What if there was more to it than that?  What if there was an elevation filled with hand stitched lace tees and silk boxing shorts with Swarovski crystal embellished waistbands?  Couture level garments created using traditional couture techniques.  Sound like a dream?  Well designer Neil Grotzinger is making it a reality.  The recent Parsons MFA graduate broke all the traditional menswear rules, and some couture rules, to delivered a socially enlightened and refreshing technical Graduate collection during New York Fashion Week in September.  Along side a few other "underground" designers, Neil has opted to elevate menswear and while Dior had the New Look, Grotzinger has given us his New Idea on dressing. 

Jim Duran:  Tell me about your graduation collection.
Neil Grotzinger:  "My Graduate collection was developed around the concept of subverting masculine stereotypes, specifically those I felt I had a difficult time understanding while I was growing up.  A great deal of the initial stages of development for this collection involved a process of getting dressed up in clothes that signified a fictional masculine archetype. I was trying to embody those archetypes in an ephemaralized, exaggerated way, just up until the point when it began to feel feminine. As the process went on, I began to think about how I could use textile to subvert certain recognizable garments into facades of themselves.  A t-shirt within the collection, for example, was made entirely out of lace, and hand sewn together using red beads wherever there would normally be a cover stitch or rib trim. Other garments, like wrestling singlets were also made out of lace, as a way of teeter tottering between athletic sportswear and erotic lingerie."

JD:  What did you want the industry to take away from this collection?
NG:  "I wanted the industry to recognize that there is a vast grey area within Men’s fashion, as it remains relatively unexplored to its fullest potential in our current day and age.  Fashion is becoming very political right now, as people are beginning to address their sentiments towards their social climate in more complex ways.  This collection was my way of addressing how fictional our concept of masculinity really is."

JD:  Did you have a moment when putting together this collection where you thought you had something very special?
NG:  "I think there were little moments throughout the entire process that were very rewarding, but I can’t think of one moment when it all came together. Working on the embroideries for the collection, and finding ways of embedding symbolic garment details into couture bead work felt very exciting because I could really feel the balancing act at play, but the whole process was exciting overall."

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JD:  Tell me what role gender plays in your designs.
NG:  "Gender is the basis of what I do. Understanding the vastness of gender perception and identification, as well as trying to figure out how to contrast that with the narrow-minded framework of gender clarification in America throughout history is my way of building social commentary into my clothing." 

JD:  How do you think the idea of gender is changing in fashion?
NG:  "I think the underground is starting to play a big role in fashion, and gender looks very different in the underground.  I think people are starting to become more stimulated by the idea of social stereotypes being challenged in fashion, which is making them reconsider what it means to be a certain way or seem a certain way."

JD:  How do you perfect the balance of masculinity and femininity in your work?
NG:  "It’s a difficult process, but it usually isn’t always necessarily about balance. For me, it’s about finding the right way to make something contradict itself. If it feels like I’ve challenged masculinity, or infused something with a heightened sense of effeminacy, then I’m usually satisfied."

JD:  How has life changed since fashion week?
NG:  "Since fashion week, I’ve started teaching at Parsons and developing new concepts for my next collection. I want to transform my ethos into a sustainable brand, and build a very tangible market for Couture Menswear."

JD:  You've said that your goal is to create a men's couture market. What do you think will be the biggest obstacle in accomplishing this?
NG:  "I think it can be challenging to get people to recognize this as a social necessity.  Because of the fact that menswear has been on the same plane for so long, it’s difficult to get people to recognize that it has the capacity to be something else."

JD:  Do think it will be difficult to change people's perception of what couture means?
NG:  "I think the process of establishing yourself as a couturier was structured to create a society of custom “dressmakers,” which may have made sense in the late 19th century, but it doesn’t really make sense now.  It’s just a matter of reconsidering the parameters of what it means to be a couturier, because couture is hurting itself every day as it remains so exclusive to one very specific type of person."

JD:  Do think it more difficult now for young designers to find an original voice than ten years ago?
NG:  "No, I actually think it’s easier.  Young designers are finally being listened to in fashion again.  In some sense it can be hard to find a voice today because there is so much out there, but at the same time social consideration for alternative fashion has grown so much in this day and age that I think it’s the perfect time to make a statement as a young designer."

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Photos courtesy of Neil Grotzinger.

MOSCHINO S/S 18

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MOSCHINO

Men's SS18

Last Friday, guests were transported to a neon graveyard in anticipation of Jeremy Scott's presentation of the Moschino Men's Spring/Summer & Women's Resort collections.  This would be Scott's second Moschino presentation stateside, and LA's finest including Kristen Stewart, Vanessa Hudgens and Fergie all sat front row eagerly awaiting the show to begin. 
 

Photo by Joey Arias

Photo by Joey Arias

The lights dimmed and the crowd was surrounded by the swirling sounds of casino arcades and jackpots. In a flash, the neon graveyard was resurrected in all its blazing, electric glory.  Cheers and applause erupted because we all knew we were about to win big.  Flirty dresses and separates appliquéd with sketches of pinup girls played along side patchwork denim and leather pieces.  Waves of slick cowgirls and rhinestone cowboys sauntered by, leaving us begging for another look.  They were emblazoned with rhinestones, race car flames, and you could almost smell the seductive pull of leather and gasoline.  Luxe moto-racing looks added the right amount of danger. 
 

Designer Jeremy Scott, Joey Arias

Designer Jeremy Scott, Joey Arias

Scott summoned SpongeBob SquarePants back onto the playground for a new collaboration between Moschino and Project (RED).  SquarePants' image was throughout the show, placed on swimsuits, t-shirts, bags and backpacks.  Betty Boop also came out to play appearing as both a biker babe and a pinup cowgirl.
 

Our excitement increased as pinup girl inspired looks took center stage and even Moschino's beloved teddy beargot in on the game, featured wearing a pair of bunny ears of his own.  A pair of leather pants studded with the Playboy logo on the back pocket are definitely on my wish list.  Black lace separates and tasseled gowns only increased our already racing pulses. To bring us to an even higher state of revelry, Jeremy gave us not one, but two fully realized Las Vegas showgirls in sexy peekaboo lace detailed jeans and bustiers, complete with cascading plume headdresses.  Joan Smalls closed the show in a gorgeous fiery beaded gown that seared the runway.  Jeremy emerged onto the runway after final looks in a sweater featuring the new Moschino x (RED) SpongeBob Squarepants, and humbly accepted the showering of love and praise that poured onto the stage.  
 

The most engaging aspect of Jeremy's work is all the excitement and emotion evoked from his runway presentations which easily translate to the streets.

Joey Arias

Photos by Joey Arias and courtesy of Vogue

AYE EYE AYE: Eye Ball

Every year during art fair The Joule Hotel hosts the Eye Ball which serves as the unofficial closing event to Dallas Art Fair.  I'm not sure if its the excitement due to the overwhelming creative energy buzzing through the city of Dallas or if its pure exhaustion after a week of non-stop openings and parties, but the Eye Ball is always a great synergy of fashion, art, and alcohol.  With over the top staging and production by Jan Strimple and the exclusive guest list from Forty Five Ten this year's Eye Ball did not disappoint and neither did the fashion.  From Nini Nguyen in Fenty x Puma to Mary Bennett in Jacquemus, this crowd slayed and left me thinking aye eye aye!

Dallas Art Fair

This morning the Dallas Art Fair kicked off its ninth year with a press preview of this years exhibitors at the Fashion Industry Gallery. Guest speaker Mayor Pro Tem, Monica Alonzo welcomed everyone and announced that April 1, 2017 marked the first day of what is now Dallas Art Month. DMA, Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, Gavin Delahunty, announced the winners of the second annual Dallas Art Fair Foundation Acquisition Program including artists: Justin Adian, Katherine Bradford, Derek Fordjour, Andrea Galvani, Summer Wheat and Matthew Wong. This year with over 90 galleries from 16 countries, the Dallas Art Fair's reach is now global setting it on par with Miami's Art Basel and Frieze in New York

With great art comes great style. Art Fair has quickly become one of the most truly stylish events in Dallas with patrons donning their best fashion often straight from the runway.  One fashion rag recently published an article debating who was more fashionable: the art kids or the fashion kids. Not sure who takes the cake, but during Dallas Art Fair it's a no brainer. 

From Top: Ruben Burgess, Christen Wilson and Samantha McCurdy from Dallas Art Fair Preview Gala 2016.

J. Balvin for Ovadia and Sons S/S17

It was announced Tuesday that international superstar, style iconic, and our favorite men's week mate, J. Balvin, is the face of the Ovadia and Sons Spring 2017 ad campaign.  This comes as no surprise as Balvin sat front row this past February at the brand's Fall 2017 runway show alongside hip-hop artists Young Paris and Fabolous.  Shot in Twentnine Palms by photographer Sean Sullivan, the brand took there line off the streets of NYC and to the California desert, and the results were major.

Jim.

Photos by @_seansullivan, courtesy of Sean Sullivan and Ovadia and Sons.

Get Your Hands On Vetements' First Collection...

Photo courtesy of Style.com

Photo courtesy of Style.com

Style.com has partnered with Vetements to bring back the brand's iconic first collection that catapulted them into the mainstream. In 2014 the Gvasalia brothers shook fashion consciousness with their thoroughly modern and radical vision of oversized proportions - either too big or too small - and fresh, often slogan-ed, street wear. You can find the reissued collection here, https://www.style.com/womenswear/vetements/

Monse and de la Renta Shake Up NYFW

Photo courtesy of Monse.com

Photo courtesy of Monse.com

The catwalk is continuously evolving as Monse and Oscar de la Renta combine their shows this coming February. Designers Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia are co-creative directors for both houses, a happy home coming of sorts as the duo previously left de la Renta more than a year ago to launch Monse. This will be their debut for the former. It will be interesting to see how the lines are drawn, with de la Renta known for its Upper East debuntante aesthetic, and Monse with its more rebellious and sensual vibe.
 

Garcia insists having the shows together is easier and cost effective. The separation of ideas will be very apparent, but the two will complement each other. Alex Bowen, de la Renta's Chief Executive, wants to convey that the two are part of the same brand family. A bid to attract a younger audience for the elder brand, perhaps? Garcia and Kim will certainly evolve what we've come to expect from de la Renta, and hopefully they can infuse the new modern embraced by Monse.

 

BLKLN feature:

FULL METAL PRISONER

Photographer: Tracy Morford (@tracy_morford)

Stylist: Trey Short (@treShort_)

Model : Austin Chevier (@dontcometotexas)

Prabal Gurung for Pokémon

Prabal Gurung has partnered with Pokémon for a capsule collection now exclusively soldat Jeffrey's New York. The nine piece collection is fun and whimsical, with the price point ranging from $325 for a t-shirt and $1,795 for a color-block tunic dress.
"With this collection, we engage a younger clientele who still embraces our elevated sense of style," said the designer in a statement. The collection is currently online at www.jeffreynewyork.com.


 

Photos courtesy of Jeffrey New York.

Neiman Marcus to open Rent the Runway Pop-Up

Rent the Runway shop in Georgetown/photo courtesy of Rent the Runway.

Rent the Runway shop in Georgetown/photo courtesy of Rent the Runway.

In a bold move, luxury retailer Neiman Marcus has partnered with e-commerce business Rent The Runway, in a bid to attract new and young customers. The first in-store boutique is set to open today in San Francisco, with more set to open in 2017. The 3,000 square foot space will showcase a rotating selection of clothes shoppers can rent, with complementing accessories for purchase from the retailer.
 

Neiman's has reported a loss in sales in the most recent quarter, and with the current trend of sluggish mall traffic, it is the first among major department stores to partner with an e-commerce rival to help boost sales. The partnership signals a response to changing consumer attitudes and hopefully reels in Rent-The-Runway's 6 million members.
 

Neiman Marcus San Francisco/photo courtesy of Neiman Marcus

Neiman Marcus San Francisco/photo courtesy of Neiman Marcus

Stella McCartney Menswear Hits Online Store

Today Stella McCartney Menswear has been made available for pre-order on the designers website. The collection "interjects energy into timeless classics. Welcoming psychedelic and graphic prints, easy tailoring and fuss free outerwear, combined with everyday, wear-everywhere footwear and accessories."  

For more information please visit www.stellamarcartney.com . Photos courtesy of Stella McCartney.

Brock Collection wins CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund

Selman, Barrett, Vassar and Brock.

Selman, Barrett, Vassar and Brock.

Monday evening the winner of the 2016 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund was announced at a star studded ceremony in New York City hosted by Anna Wintour and Diane Von Furstenberg. Lifetime achievement honoree Michael Kors alongside Zendaya presented winners Laura Vassar and Kristopher Brock of the Brock Collection with the grande prize with Stirling Barrett of Krewe eyewear and Adam Selman as runners up. The winner takes home $400,000 and a year of mentorship from top industry players while the runners up both get $150,000. In what is easily the most grueling process in any young designers life, all 10 finalists faced a series of challenges spanning several months before going in front a panel of judges that include industry heavyweights, Neiman Marcus' Ken Downing and CFDA Chief Executive, Steven Kolb. Other finalists include: Laurence Chandler and Joshua Kyle of Rochambeau, Chris Stamp of STAMPD, Chloé Gosselin, Ji Oh, Morgan Curtis of Morgan Lane, Maryam and Marjan Malakpour of Newbark, and Beckett Fogg and Piotrek Panszcyk of Area. Vassar and Brock join the ranks of past winners and some of today's most celebrated designers including Alexander Wang, Proenza Schouler, Rodarté, Public School and Altuzarra.

Jim Duran.

Vassar and Brock with son and Gigi Hadid, photo by Gregory Harris

Vassar and Brock with son and Gigi Hadid, photo by Gregory Harris

Mary Katrantzou: See Now, Buy Now

Brit powerhouse Mary Katrantzou has launched her own version of "see now, wear now", now available on her website and stockists worldwide. Named "November" and "May" for when the merchandise arrives in-store, the mini-collections are aimed to be seasonless and more in-tune with the end consumer. Retail buyers will be purchasing the merchandise before the look book images are released to the public. Consumers first look will be when the designs are on the sales floor, reflecting what individual retailers handpicked. Katrantzou will still show her runway collections during fashion week, but this month marks the beginning of a new calendar adopted by fellow Brit Christopher Bailey of Burberry, and American contemporaries Michael Kors, Rebecca Minkoff and Tom Ford.

 

November 2016 is a kaleidoscope of primary colors, with a play on necktie motifs and floras in Mary's signature textile manipulation.

For more information please visit www.marykatrantzou.com.

Maria Cornejo talks Sustainable Fashion

Photo by Daniel Kiyoi

Photo by Daniel Kiyoi

New York based designer, Maria Cornejo of Zero + Maria Cornejo is making fashion sustainable. As an original member of the CFDA Sustainability Committee, Cornejo's passion for changing how we make, buy and sell clothing is unmatched. I had a chance to sit down with Cornejo while she was visiting Dallas for a trunk show at Stanley Korshak for her Spring/Summer 2017 collection. We discussed her new collection, eco-conscious initiatives, and recycled fabrics. Here are our words.  

BLKLN: Tell me about the Spring/Summer 2017 collection.

Maria Cornejo: Spring/Summer 17 was inspired by New Orleans. It started in resort wear with a very bright color palette and as we come into Spring it fades. A lot of the fabrics and prints are inspired by ripped wall paper and tapestry and the diverse cultures of New Orleans. The Creole, the French, the Spanish there are so many layers to the culture in New Orleans. So that was inspiration behind it. The show came as a culmination of all these ideas being distilled into showing in our new fabric, which is totally eco now. So for the show, I just wanted to take all the color out and just show the shapes.

BLKLN: Did showing an all white collection open the door creatively and allow you to play with structure?

MC: It was lovely to actually show the cutting of things. The volumes and shapes in white is almost like showing a blank sketch without the coloring. So you just look at the lines.

BLKLN: As a founding member of the CFDA Sustainability Committee I know that ecologically responsible practices are very important to you and your brand. Tell me how this started and how you have implemented this into your company.

MC: We try with everything. To be honest I am not the post child, but we are trying where ever possible.  We started a few season ago, its always been in the company ethos to try to be as sustainable as possible, for fall it was was recycled cashmere, botanical cotton and now the eco-drape. We work with a women's co-op in Bolivia who does all the hand knitting and its alpaca and is naturally dyed. The shoes are vegetable dyed. Where ever possible we are trying to make the right decisions.

BLKLN: Why do you think it has taken the fashion industry so long to get on board with these practices?

MC: It is hard to do a fashionable and interesting collection and be eco. It's very hard. For a lot of companies it s easier to turn a blind eye and pretend its not happening. You have to take responsibility.

BLKLN: What are some steps designers could take to make their companies more sustainable?

MC: We make about 70% of the collection in New York with the least amount of transporting. Goods and fabrics com e in from Europe or Tokyo but once they are there they are manufactured in New York. We try to keep the process to a minimum. Thus avoiding waste. There are special projects we do to recycle fabric. We use as little packing as possible. It's hard in fashion because a lot of fashion is reliant on bells and whistles. For me its never been about that. Its about the way things are cut and the fabric. I think just try to keep things to a minimum.

BLKLN: How does New York differ from Paris or Milan when discussing sustainability?

MC: I think the Kering group is doing a big push. In Milan there are companies doing a push. People are making a conscious effort where ever possible and that's a good start. The more and more people will do it it will become easier for us to buy fabrics that are eco.

BLKLN: What are some things we can all do to live a more eco-conscious and fashionable lifestyle?

MC: Not dry clean so much. Buy more wisely, things that are not disposable. Its better to buy things that you will love and cherish forever, not just because its on sale, and that is what I love about the collection. I always say the pieces will make really great heirlooms. Its better to invest things that you will keep forever then things you will just throw away. 

The Spring/Summer 2017 Zero + Maria Cornejo trunk show will be at Stanley Korshak November 4th & 5th and in Austin at ByGeorge November 9th & 10th.

For more information please visit www.zeromariacornejo.com , www.stanleykorshak.com or www.bygeorgeaustin.com.

Runway images courtesy of Yannis Vlamos for Vogue.

FENG CHEN WANG, GENERAL IDEA and CARLOS CAMPOS: Three brands you need to know.

These days fashion brands come and go like cinnamon Pop-Tarts. With the amount of new brands that pop up each year it's become difficult to determine the real talent from the shooting stars. Here are three brands you need to know. 

FENG CHEN WANG: This London based label founded by designer Fengchen Wang in 2015, after graduating from the Royal College of Arts. Wang made her NYFW debut during the Spring/Summer 16' season via the VFiles runway show. Nominated for a LVMH prize in February 2016 Feng Chen Wang has been worn by Rihanna and M.I.A.

www.fengchenwang.com

GENERAL IDEA: Based in Seoul, South Korea and founded in 2004 by designer Bumsuk Choi, General Idea is a regular during NYFW. Stocked by some of the world's leading online retailers including Farfetch and Lyst, General Idea has caught the attention of celebrities and industry insiders alike.       

www.generalidea.co.kr

CARLOS CAMPOS: Carlos Campos founded his namesake line in 2007. Based in New York Campos was awarded the FGI Rising Star Award in 2009 and was a 2011 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist. Campos has quickly become a must see during New York Fashion Week: Men's.

www.carloscampos.com

Fashion hearts Halloween

Fashionistas love nothing more than playing dress up. So its only natural that fashion's superstars go all out for Halloween. From Giovanna Battaglia recreating one of Cher's most iconic red carpet moments to other worldly creations from Roger Padilha and Shaun Ross here are fashion's best Halloween costumes. 

KAWS at the Fort Worth Modern

Last week the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth opened their newest exhibit featuring the work of the Brooklyn based artist known as KAWS. Curated by Andrea Carnes, WHERE THE END STARTS features a collection of paintings, sculptures, drawings, toys and street art examining KAWS's career over the past 20 years and revealing insight into his many collaborative efforts.  

From graffiti and pop art to fashion, KAWS's dynamic body of work emanates an underlying humor and irreverence with an affection for contemporary society and the human condition. Often drawing inspiration from popular animated series like The Simpsons, Peanuts and The Smurfs KAWS creates a conversation exploring human emotion using familiar and heartfelt characters. This exploration of humanity is also executed through his sculptures and collaborations with brands like CK CALVIN KLEIN and DKNY by blending featured models with his signature animation.

KAWS: WHERE THE END STARTS will be on the display until January, 22, 2017. For more information please visit www.themordern.org

Jim Duran

Zoe Saldana, Ricky Martin, and more at annual TWO x TWO Gala

This past weekend was the annual TWO x TWO gala and art auction. In what has become the most glamorous and fashionable event of the year, TWO x TWO brings together internationally renowned artists, designers and philanthropists to raise millions to benefit amfAR, Dallas Museum of Art and The Foundation for AIDS Research.  This year supporters led by gala chairman Nancy Rogers and event hosts Cindy and Howard Rachofsky raised $7.5 million, bringing their 18 year total to a staggering $67 million raised to assist in HIV/AIDS research and to support the arts. This years guests included actress Zoe Saldana, Tony and Candice Romo, designers, Prabal Gurung and Rosie Assoulin, with a very special performance by Ricky Martin.

"The success of Saturday night's event is due to the unmatched generosity of the artists, gallerists, and TWO X TWO supports from across the United States and overseas. Their commitment is unparalleled and their donations of amazing art has allowed us to raise over $7.5 million, bringing our 18 year total to over $67 million. TWO X TWO for AIDS and Art continues to play a very vital role in fundraising for both amfAR and the Dallas Museum of Art," said Howard Rachofsky.

The annual black tie gala is part of a week long series of events and held at the Richard Meier designed Rachofsky House and is the largest U.S. fundraiser for amfAR and The Dallas Museum of Art. For more information on TWO X TWO please visit twoxtwo.org.

Jim Duran

Photos by Kevin Tachman