Happy Friday/Joyeux Vendredi ma petite famille! It’s been a week or so since my last post. I have been battling a little cold, but this didn’t keep me away from turning to the web to find some much-needed swoon-worthy digital comfort to get me over the hump, like this beautiful crazy cat lady portrait from Santiago De Chile-based artist Holly Jolley. Her work is infused with feel-good inspiration and captures women in various settings. I am also obsessed with herIG page and have become a loyal follower.
All that pink got me lusting for more rose inspiration! there is no doubt left in my mind that Pink is a mood-booster par-excellence. I have always been skeptical of gender-based theme colors. I love earthy tone colors, blacks, and greys, but pink is definitely growing on me. First, let’s dispell one outdated conception once and for all: Pink is longer a cliche color reserved for girls or ballet dancers. It exudes charm and sophistication. If you’re not convinced, check out this whimsical Maison rosein the Montmartre area of Paris. How about a nice dose of pink in a city of light notoriously known for its grisaille? By the way, this lush green foliage gives this house such post-card appeal! Also, Notice the old cobblestones and old street lantern? I’m just overwhelmed by this dream-inducing photo. I wish I could click my heels and wink my eyes and wake-up in this surreal world, preferably wearing this Oversized felted bouclé and eco shearling coat,round glasses, andelegant tassel bag. Ah, la vie en rose. Speaking of la vie, I am in love with Clare V, vivre sa vie tee. Clare V is a Los Angeles-based fashion brand founded by a French expat who created a brand with the goal to make stylish utilitarian apparels that meet the demands of modern women. I’m super excited to see this fashion revival undertaking in Los Angeles, and to know that a fellow french woman is behind this brand, is cherry on the icing!
If you’re like me coming out of a nasty cold and have lost your glow, I guarantee you will fall in love with this blush fromTarte Cosmetic. I love, love, love this blush! It is organic, great for sensitive skin and is made out of Amazonian clay. The real kicker is that it promises to last 12 hours. I can attest to the validity of that claim. First this post is not sponsored by Tarte, second, I have tried it, and third, I am now a supporter of this brand because it truly delivers on its promise to last 12 hours. I not only got that “royal flush,” but managed to get tons of compliments from co-workers about ma bonne mine (healthy glow). Now that I feel so much better, who is headed to Paris with me? xx, Kenza
The world of luxury publishing has always been shrouded in secrecy. I have often wondered who is the fashion editorial elite responsible for shaping and influencing luxury trends. It is fascinating to me, especially as someone who aspires to be at the helm of my own publication one day. However, there is so much involved with launching a publication and the whole process can be emotionally taxing not to mention riddled with obstacles. Fortunately for me, I had the chance to interview Founder and Editor-in-chief Francisco José Pavón Chisbert to help demystify the world of publishing and talk candidly about Pasarela de Asfalto, an influential print and digital Luxury magazine headquartered in Madrid, Spain.
a jurist and political scientist by trade with a sense of wisdom that defies his age, Francisco’s passion for fashion started as a blog and led him to eventually assume the reins of his publishing empire. It could be argued that this pivot move into the world of fashion editing was divinely pre-ordained given Francisco’s innate fashion flair and affable charm.
He is a natural, humble even, but his business savvy, tenacity, and unwilingness to compromise on his editorial vision have been critical in sealing his brand’s legacy over the past 10 years. The results speak for themselves: His publication boasts an impressive roster of personalities, from royalties to celebrities, fashion icons, and politicians, a carnet d’adresses that includes actress/Activist Lindsay Lohan, S.A.R. Princess Tania de Bourbon Parme, charles-henri von lobkowicz, just to name a few.
Despite his busy schedule, Francisco was kind enough to share his insight with Spectacle of Vanities on what it takes to be successful in this industry. He also talks about his favorite designers, his fashion philosophy which accounts for his distinctive aristocratic flair. He not only knows fashion but has a fiduciary relationship with Spanish designers, and strives at all time to highlight the sartorial spirit of Spanish craftsmanship and his reverence for Spanish prêt-à-porter. It is in the veins of legendary fashion icons like Elio Berhanyer and Francis Montesinos that Francisco continues to carry their legacy–that is by upholding the aristocratic spirit that comprises Spanish Haute Couture and promoting Spain’s vibrant cultural patrimony through his award-winning publication Pasarela de Asfalto.
Francisco: First of all, we must bear in mind that my magazine was born almost 10 years ago, by then I was one of the first bloggers in Spain and one of the very few men to talk about fashion. At that time my blog was hosted by a very important Spanish company worldwide (Grupo Prisa), a company for which I worked speaking just about fashion. Returning to the topic, the name of my blog was “Pasarela de Asfalto”, translated into English as “Asphalt Catwalk” a name that later took my magazine in his honor, however, that name is more related to the origins of the media that I lead today, some origins in which fashion for me represented the way in which people lived fashion in the streets. My first interview was with Enrique Loewe, a person linked to the fashion and luxury sector worldwide, known by the brand LOEWE that was once owned by his family. In that first interview, he told me when reading my magazine: “I love the title, Pasarela de Asfalto because the success of fashion is being on the streets”.
SPV: As someone very young who holds the distinctive title of youngest publisher in Europe, what are your bits of advice for anyone wanting to launch their own publications?
Francisco: Thank you very much for your words. My fundamental advice is that they trust in their product, that they are honest, but above all fighters, that they do not surrender to adversities, that they face them with force and always surround themselves with good people that love them, appreciate and support them, like family and real friends.
SPV: Who’s your favorite fashion designer/brand?
Francisco: My favorite creator is Elio Berhanyer, he is the last Spanish designer of Haute Couture who is still alive, after the death of Balenciaga. For me, it is an icon who dressed Ava Gardner and Cyd Charisse among many celebrities worldwide known as the Queen Sofia of Spain. It is a privilege and an honor to know him and call him my friend.
SPV: Speaking of fashion, I am curious to know your thoughts on the highly contemptuous rebranding of the legendary brand CELINE by Hedi Slimane? Do you have a position on this?
Francisco: As I see it, the big fashion houses should always keep their essence, know how to adapt to the new times and adapting to the current needs of the consumer and the market in general. I suppose that the signature that you referenced, will have thought a lot about these elements that I have indicated and will have made the decision that they have considered more accurate. From my point of view, I think there are things that should never change because they distort the essence of the product, transforming it into a completely new one, no longer of interest to the consumer and taking away that aura of mystery that always surrounds the big Maisons.
SPV: You have a distinctive royal presence about you, and I am wondering what are the criteria that drive you in choosing to wear certain designers?
Francisco: Thank you very much for your words Kenza. I usually get carried away by the fantasy of the moment and the absence of rules in relation to fashion. Seen as I feel good, although sometimes you have to have a lot of courage to go out and face prying eyes. Obviously always seen in relation to a specific situation, I will never be dressed in the Supreme Court as I do in the fashion week of Paris, everything has its time and place. I try to be free in every moment, always bringing my touch of distinction. So, to attend a catwalk, I will wear Francis Montesinos, who is not only a great friend but one of the most influential Spanish designers. I like the essence of his designs which are infused with Spanish sensibility. Wearing his clothes allows me to me feel like the ambassador of Spanish fashion for a few moments.
SPV: What is your most memorable interview?
Francisco: I would not be able to mention one without forgetting another just as important, but without a doubt, Elio Berhanyer’s and Enrique Loewe’s were memorable. The one of S.A.R. Princess Tania de Bourbon Parme was amazing, Soledad Lorenzo, Deborah Hung or Bob Sinclar among others, were surprising!
Hedi Slimane‘s highly anticipated debut at the helms of Celine drew widespread criticisms from fashion critics who accused Slimane of pandering to a male gaze and replicating his old work at Saint Laurent FW16. Slimane was shredded apart by unforgiving US and British media outlets. The critics came tumbling down with unrestrained élan, accusations of misogyny, laziness, and lack of creative genius waged against the French designer. It was a ruthless bloodbath, scathing reviews condemning the French designer for tearing down Phoebe Philo’s legacy.
Philo, Celine’s previous head designer was credited for bringing back to life an old Parisian Brand that was on the brink of death. With the retrospect that only time affords us, I personally remember the old Céline era with its outdated style which was pompous and out of touch with the younger generation of women. It was by all account, a sad state of affairs. Then along came, Philo, a cerebral genius who nurtured the brand back to life with her feminine sensitivity undergirded with cerebral minimalism.
Her sensible touch gave women agency by designing collections that did not objectify females. She created clothes for women and empowered them to take helms of their destiny, women no longer viewed as seductresses, but as resilient, confident, goal-driven individuals. Philo focused on comfort, without necessarily sacrificing elegance, but the hallmark of her style could be described as whimsical elegance. It was also undergirded with political messaging. Although subtle, women empowerment lied at the heart of her work.
On the other hand, Slimane’s distinctive style is dark, with an unwavering penchant for androgynous models (mostly whites) with sunken eyes, emaciated bone structures, malnourished bodies, exposed ribs hidden under clothes that leave very little to the imagination.
The difference couldn’t be starker:
Slimane’s patte (personal touch in french) is distinctive, the same way that Phoebe’s singular brush stroke lies on subdued feminism that is neither brash or cringe-inducing. Women asserting their feminity by other means than exposing their flesh. For that Phoebe’s appeals to me. the old Céline mused with my revolutionary streak and need to break free from rigid gender constructs that dictate how I should dress as a woman. The old Céline rose above such cliches, which is why Phoebe’s work resonated with me.
My generous curves also appreciated Phoebe’s sensibility. But with hedi now at the helms of the legendary fashion house, there is no way in hell my ass, thighs, and hips could even fit Slimane’s collection, but let’s face it: Slimane did not really have women like me in mind when designing this collection. I mean was haute couture ever designed for ordinary women? The price point alone is untenable for most of us. Yeah, it sucks that my ass wasn’t meant to fit it the negative 0 sizes of this collection, but the world of haute couture is unforgiving.
But… this is a personal judgment and a line must be drawn when it comes to evaluating someone’s work.For that reason, I believe that the reviews waged against Slimane were harsh.
The collective anger unleased towards Slimane was laced with emotions and lacked objective discernment. I also do not buy the notion that Slimane is misogynistic as some reviewers have implied. Showing skins within the context of going out should not be construed as objectifying women. After all, the theme of this debut collection was partying in Paris. A rock n roll theme with dark allure, but a partying theme nevertheless. This justifies the somber color palette, and it seems that fashion critics have lost track of that important detail unless perhaps they expected Slimane to follow a puritan theme? Let’s be candid for a moment. I cannot begin to imagine having to judge people based on their clothes. Being part of a modern society entails being able to wear what I want without being labeled a slut and if that means wearing sheer clothes that reveal a lot, so be it. I know Amber Rose, Beyoncé, and the league of twerkers around the world would likely agree with me. Yes, Slimane’s style is distinctively different from Phoebe’s, but to spearhead a smearing campaign of this scale is disingenuous. Slimane is highly talented and far from being a misogynist individual, but don’t take my words for it. Did you notice just how gender fluid this collection was? Take a look here:
Now take a look there too.
And here: Yes: GENDER FLUID. So let’s squash the male gaze argument espoused by some critics because it does not hold credibility in this case.
Having said that, Slimane handled critics very poorly– a la Donald Trump (no doubts). How do you mustard to censor opposing voices and not expect a massive backlash? I get that this collection is personal to him but to actually censor fashion critics by uninviting them from his defile comes across as petty and arrogant. It certainly won’t make them shut up and will further fuel their bias while giving them ammunition to wage war with their ink. They are fashion critics after all whose words are meant to restore a balance and keep designers honest. Slimane’s way of handling negative press reflects very poorly on him and shows enormous insecurities on his part. His approach to PR, shrouded in elitist behavior deserves to be called out, but his talent should not be undergirded with a disingenuous agenda. Fashion critics are like tight-fisted mothers unwilling to let go of their babies, in this case, their pen. They rely on unearthing every flaw and exposing vulnerability in the most ruthless of ways. They are unforgiving, relentless, and scathing, entangled in savage wars of words meant to trigger emotions–good or bad. It’s part of the business and one that Hedi Slimane needs to get over with.
As for the press. There is a thing known among research communication scholars called message framing. The use of framing by the media holds an important role in influencing public opinions. Robert Entman, a communication researcher posits in fact that mass media of selected texts and imagery brings salience to heightened perceived social reality in a way that legitimizes and endorses the narrative presented. Having studied first-hand communication theories in graduate school, I understand how behavioral and implicit bias are shaped and I believe that the press, specifically fashion critics should be held accountable and strive to really provide criticism through objective lenses. Slimane was dragged through the mud by a predominantly anglophone press, and I’m left wondering if there is a more sinister agenda directed at Slimane. Hedi is half Tunisian, and there might be some level of buried resentment that a half North African man would be placed at the helms of a venerable couture house. Who knows? But what is tangibly certain is that Slimane is not a misogynist.
Eclectic decor is all the rage right now and African prints particularly African wax prints (known as Ankara or dutch wax) have garnered tremendous success for their vibrant colors. Even though associated with African culture, wax fabrics are increasingly gaining popularity among those who are looking to incorporate ethnic touches to their homes.
Maison Château Rouge, a luxury clothing brand created by three brothers Fofana, Youssouf, and Mamadou has capitalized on that momentum to offer an African-inspired clothing line that is both urban and minimalist. This Parisian-based brand not only exudes Parisian flair but aptly blends African influences for which Paris is known for, particularly the vibrant quartier de Château Rouge, a pan African hub (think Harlem in New York City or Brixton in London) that houses ethnic restaurants shops, hair salons, barber shops, from the entire African diaspora
The use of wax fabric is not solely limited to clothing. I have personally purchased wax fabric by the ward to create my own tote bags, pillows and bed throw. It really spruces up your decor without being overbearing or necessarily too loud.
Or why not add a pop of color to bring out the dark theme of this room? The strong geometrical pattern brings focus on the print itself without being distracting or cringe-inducing. In this example, the bedroom retains its minimalist appeal, but the global character makes it inviting, chic and contemporary.
Those reupholstered stools and pillows are also a good way to make an eclectic statement against that neutral charcoal painted wall. It draws the attention effortlessly.
As I get older I tend to gravitate towards a minimalist aesthetic. I am drawn to clean lines, neutral palette. My philosophy favors high-quality items over quantity. There is also a cultural shift that is pushing for ethical fashion and that is certainly a driving factor for me. For me, it’s all about incorporating timeless minimalist designs that I can wear year after year.
Slouchy tailoring, layered clothing, stripping garments to their rugged function are core principles of minimalism. Through the process of reductivism, clothes are reduced to their bare bone purpose, highlighting the purity of lines, the quality of garments, the objectivity of clothes, all of which are gathered to tell a story.
minimalist aesthetic is utilitarian and guided by a philosophy that empowers women; in this light of thought, clothing is no longer accessorized to cater to the male gaze.
Fashion should be intellectual, ever-lasting and not about the “it trend of the moment.” This is why minimalist aesthetic resonates with me. Of course, there is nothing wrong with dressing sexy, but sex appeal should not be reduced to wearing heels, tight skirts, or anything vulgar.
I am so thrilled about the return of wool skirts, and this elasticated-back wool blend skirt that delicately hugs the body. It is not only breathy but looks very comfortable, and that’s a huge win in my book. This polished look can certainly be worn in the corporate setting. I love the parisian flair of this outfit. It’s so casual yet so elegant. The unobtrusive aesthetic also makes this an enduring staple that can be worn year after year. This is why miminalism works for me.
I’m infatuated with this clear look: the combination of this elasticated-black wool trouser paired with this oversized blazer embody minimalism and make such a powerful statement.
Who said monochrome palettes have to be boring? This professional attire is proof of the contrary. The asymmetric wool-blend sweater draws attention without looking overbearing. It’s challenge to achieve.
Accessories play such an important part of one’s wardrobe. This small faux-leather cross-body bag adds such a lovely level of sophistication. I am of those who firmly believe that a purse reveals so much of one’s personality. A polished attire should always strive to be cohesive and this example shows a fluid extension between the outfit and the purse. It also highlights sophistication and confidence. There is also something very cerebral in the way the continuity is achieved.
This elegant crisp white cotton tunic embodies minimalism. Simplicity is key here, but the piece makes such an unforgettable statement with its clean-lined collar and wristbands. Wouldn’t you agree? The key takeway is that sophistication does not have to be overpowering, it can be delicate all while being bold.
photo Credits: Raey and stella mccartney collections accessed through matchfashion.com