It’s been a minute or two since I’ve posted about Marrakesh. I have stumbled upon Carlay Summer’s Instagram page, and I am completely infatuated with her thread, along with her ability to capture’s Marrakesh’s essence.  Her visual trademark consists of Gorgeous pastels, lovely riads, lush plants, and cacti. It is one my favorite IG handle and I go there for daily inspiration especially before the work week begins.  Her portfolio can be accessed here. Enjoy!

xx, Kenza

 

 

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Photography credit: Carley Page Summers

 

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.

SPV: Can you tell me about the “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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photographie credits: Pasarela de Asfalto 

Boo! Have a ghoulish day, mes amis! The spirit of Halloween is alive, and I am here for it! Halloween gives me the perfect excuse to surround myself with dark themes, dive into the shadow work, summon spirits, binge on horror movies (hello the exorcist!) and yes, decadents sweets! I am amazed by how vested Americans are; it’s serious business, from stores to schools and art galleries!

Vam museum’s IG handle does not lack ghoulish spirit with their frightening display of dark elements, and This porcelain doll is nightmare-inducing:

What about this dress? Such a breathtaking piece de resistance, wouldn’t you agree? This costume, which was featured in Queen of the Fairies in Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera is nothing short of diabolical. Designed by Bruno Santini,  the dress exudes feminine authority and definitely draws inspiration from snow white and the henchmen.

 

 

 

Of course, I’d be remiss if I failed to showcase Alexander McQueen macabre, yet dazzling and truly unforgettable rendering of Black Swan in the “Horn of Plenty” as part of his Fall/Winter 2009 collection

 

On a lighter note, this ghoulish giant vampire bunny strolling over a frozen Thames river preying on innocent souls is weirdly cute but still somewhat spooky!

Enters the wicked witch for Halloween wouldn’t be Halloween without a witch present to torment our souls.

“The Witch” by Andy Warhol can be found at Guy Hepner Gallery

 

But Halloween is not just limited to the gold USA. If you’re lucky enough to be in Paris, rue Chanoinesse (ex rue des Marmousets) near Notre Dame Cathedral is home to a gruesome part of history rarely talked about. It is rumored that during the middle ages, a local barber/butcher would kidnap strangers, slaughter them, cook, grind their limbs and sell their meat to inconspicuous patrons as savory pâtés en croûte! 

Present day rue Chanoinesse still looks hella creepy here if you ask me:

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On that note, mes amis, I wish you a terrifying Halloween!
Happy Halloween!

I can’t believe it’s been almost two years since I have moved into my Hacienda Spanish Duplex in the heart of K-town LA. The sad thing is that my 1650 sf unit (huge by LA standard) is far from being camera ready. I have shared a few pictures of my place in some of my previous blog posts, but there is still plenty of work to do. I still need a lot of essentials as well. The basics really. think bed sheets, comforters, rugs, porcelain, shelves needed to personalize our home. I want everything like yesterday!  I also feel that I need to center myself.  I’m literarily all over when it comes to style and I think the best way to overcome this feeling is to prioritize things one step at a time, smell the sweet aroma of the roses and plan.

I appreciate an aesthetic style, but I also love the texture and bold colors.  My husband, on the other hand, is an unabashed maximalist and loves to collect anything and everything. Reconciling his style with mine can be daunting, so decorating has taken a back seat for now. But, this is not deterring me from scouring the internet for cool pieces, ideas, and inspirations, just to keep my momentum going, starting with this vibrant cranberry sofa:

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and I would love, love, love to get my hands on this breathtaking gold mirror.  Those two pieces alone are everything needed to inject a big dose of Parisian elegance.

 

I also have my eyes on this earthy terracotta rug

 

I have also discovered a lovely set of cups and dishes from smallable:

I love earthy tones and those terracotta cups do not disappoint either!

xx, Kenza

 

Sources in order of appearances:  Cranberry sofa from horchowBoska mirror from Horchow; wool rug from Bloomingville; Dishes from smallable; Terracotta mugs from bloomingville.

 

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.

 

xx, Kenza

 

Phoebe Philo for Celine SS18 collection. Images via vogue

Hedi Slimane SS19 collection. Images via high snob society

Saint Laurent FW16 collection. Images via Vogue.