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Raf Simons at Dior In A Coffee Table Book, Plus More Fashion News

Nov 08, 2023

PAST AND FUTURE: A new coffee-table book chronicles Raf Simons’ three-year tenure at Dior, when his creations fused the French fashion house's heritage with his streamlined cuts and taste for adventurous materials.

The 344-page tome, published by Assouline, is the sixth volume in the series that Dior is releasing chronicling each creative director of the brand. Its cover features a lipstick red coat, inspired by Dior's signature Bar jacket, from Simons‘ fall 2012 haute couture collection, described by WWD as "one of the most highly anticipated designer debuts ever."

Written by fashion journalist Tim Blanks, the tome features photographs by Laziz Hamani alongside images by the likes of Tim Walker, Paolo Roversi, Peter Lindbergh, Willy Vanderperre and Sarah Moon.

The introduction describes the Belgian designer's upbringing in the small town of Neerpelt where he was starved of distractions, except for a record store that proved instrumental in finding kindred spirits. Television provided a gateway to fashion through programs like CNN's "Style With Elsa Klensch."

Simons moved to Genk and obtained a degree in industrial and furniture design in 1991. Drawn to the energy of the Antwerp Six, who put Belgium on the international fashion map, he interned for Walter Van Beirendonck, who took him to Paris, where Simons had his fashion epiphany at a Martin Margiela show.

His eponymous label, launched in 1995 and shuttered last year, turned him into a cult designer in menswear, with creations that melded symbols of counterculture with reinterpretations of uniforms. Pieces from Simons’ early years often fetch high prices on resale sites and during auctions.

From 1997 onward, his shows in Paris caused a sensation with his skinny tailoring, street casting and imposing runway venues such as La Grande Arche de la Défense.

The designer made his womenswear debut at Jil Sander, where he was artistic director from 2005 to 2012. During his tenure, he presented a trilogy of collections inspired by the codes of haute couture.

A darling of critics and editors, prized for his exacting silhouettes and obsession with the here-and-now, Simons succeeded John Galliano at Dior after the British designer's antisemitic comments and subsequent downfall. Simons brought a gust of modernity to the house, sweeping aside the retro-tinged glamour Galliano had plied over a stellar 15-year tenure.

He frequently referenced iconic designs like the Bar jacket, as well as floral motifs — but abstracted them and indulged his predilection for minimalism and futurism. "I’m not romantic about the past, I’m romantic about the future," he once said.

Simons also cultivated references to the passions he shared with founder Christian Dior, including nature and gardens, as well as design and art. His collections for the house referenced artists including Andy Warhol and Sterling Ruby, translating the latter's spray-painted canvases into duchess satin dresses.

His decision to leave the brand sent shockwaves through the industry, suggesting that designers of Simons’ generation were not willing to bend unthinkingly to the demands — and constraints — of mammoth global brands.

"I’m questioning a lot," Simons said just before his last Dior show, referring to the palpable sense that the pace of fashion and the overheated runway system had reached a volatile tipping point. "I feel a lot of people are questioning. We have a lot of conversation about it: Where is it going? It's not only the clothes. It's the clothes, it's everything, the Internet."

Following a three-year tenure at Calvin Klein, Simons was named co-creative director of Prada, where he has worked in partnership with Miuccia Prada since 2020. "Dior Raf Simons 2012-2015," available in English or French, will be released worldwide on May 23. It retails for 195 euros, or $195. — JOELLE DIDERICH

CROCODILE TAILS, AND HEADS: The coin tosses ahead of each of the 900 matches at Roland-Garros will mean a lot to Lacoste, a sponsor of the famous French tennis tournament since 1971.

As part of its 90th anniversary festivities in 2023, Lacoste teamed up with La Monnaie de Paris to mint collector coins, one shaped like a tennis racket and another like the famous crocodile logo on the chest of all its famous polos.

On Monday morning, small groups were ushered into La Monnaie's production rooms to see a workman stamp one of the silver coins, which depict Lacoste founder René Lacoste mid-swing one one side.

La Monnaie chief executive officer Marc Schwartz unveiled the coins, noting that each year the mint collaborates with a brand to celebrate French excellence. He extolled the precision with which Lacoste manufactures its signature cotton piqué polo shirts at its factory in Troyes.

The coins incorporate several textures: crocodile skin, cotton piqué, tennis-racket strings and also the dimpled surface of a golf ball, a tribute to Lacoste's wife, the golf champion Simone Thion de La Chaume.

In an interview, Catherine Spindler, deputy CEO of Lacoste, said know-how is "definitely part of the strategy of what I want to communicate. We have a very specific savoir faire and it's something I wish to claim a little bit more, and let people discover."

The special Lacoste coins have a face value that makes them legal tender in France; however, they are designed to appeal to collectors.

Values for the limited-edition pieces start at 92 euros for a 10-euro racket-shaped coin to 3,090 euros for a 200-euro gold one. The pièce de résistance is a one-kilogram gold crocodile-shaped coin with a face value of 5,000 euros, depicting the reptile with a tennis ball caught in its teeth. Only 12 will be produced, the price disclosed upon request.

To be sure, Lacoste has specialized fan communities all over the world, including in Korea, Brazil, France, Japan and America, where the brand is planning some activities around the U.S. Open this fall, Spindler noted.

Roland-Garros kicks off on May 22 in Paris and runs through June 11. The coin toss is used to decide who serves and who receives, or the side of the court on which the victor of the toss wishes to play.

In recent years, La Monnaie de Paris has minted special coins with the likes of Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Baccarat and Cartier. — MILES SOCHA

SUMMER LOOK: Toteme, the nine-year-old Swedish contemporary fashion brand, is launching a travel-focused capsule collection Tuesday with luxury e-tailer Mytheresa.

The 26-piece capsule in deep navy and optic white includes ready-to-wear sets in crisp cotton poplin and jacquard stripes, graphic skirts and dresses, monogram trousers, and a selection of summer-ready shoes and accessories.

Elin Kling, cofounder of Toteme, said this annual travel collection, exclusive to Mytheresa, represents "a distilled version of our high summer look with pieces that are perfect for easing into vacation, from light summer jerseys, crisp cotton poplin and crochet cover-ups to sartorial swimwear."

Tiffany Hsu, vice president of womenswear and kidswear fashion buying at Mytheresa, said the capsule showcases the brand's aesthetic of "modern minimalism and effortless elegance."

"The collection features versatile pieces that are perfect for travel. Our customers will love the broderie anglaise dress and standout accessories like the travel tote and leather crochet heels that will add finishing touches to any summer look," Hsu added.

Mytheresa is one of the few online luxury players that came out stronger from the pandemic, thanks to its long list of exclusive capsule collection partnerships with brands like Prada, Etro, Nensi Dojaka, Giambattista Valli, and now Toteme, to attract big spenders.

Earlier this year, Mytheresa chief executive officer Michael Kliger had said that growth was slowing overall because "aspirational" shoppers were putting the stops on spending amid the economic turbulence. By contrast, the top 3 percent of customers, which account for nearly 40 percent of Mytheresa's sales, continue to spend.

That elite group of customers grew by 28 percent in the quarter, according to Mytheresa. The site continues to cater to them with "high-impact" events, brand activations, and "money can't buy" experiences in Europe, the Middle East, and the U.S.

Since receiving investment from the Swedish investment fund Altor in 2021, the brand has embarked on a steady global retail rollout, expanding into China, South Korea and the U.S. Last summer, the brand launched its first U.S. store in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood. — TIANWEI ZHANG

SPECIAL SHOP: Guests of The Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel can now purchase rare and in-demand fashion finds on-site — primarily new and vintage luxury handbags curated by personal shopper Gab Waller.

Via a partnership with online consignment shop Fashionphile, a selection of 10 items will be on display and available at all times.

"As items do sell, I will replenish it as the partnership is from mid-May to the end of July," said Waller, who's originally from Australia and is now based in Los Angeles.

"For me, I’m really focusing on pieces that very much represent exactly what my brand is about, which is hard-to-find, sold-out pieces," she said.

Priced between $1,500 and $10,000, brands showcased include Chanel, Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Dior and Valentino. Hotel guests will have direct access to Waller during their stay. And purchases are able to be made directly via QR codes at the hotel and the Fashionphile website.

"We’re always looking at unique ways to partner with either art, fashion, beauty, because it really speaks to our guests," said hotel manager Rebecca Goldberg. "And so, Gab Waller felt like a really good fit. We share a lot of the same audience.…It's sort of an extension of concierge. ‘What else can I get access to just by way of staying here?’"

"People love buying something that they found on an occasion that they didn't expect.…People are coming from, whether it's the U.S., Texas, Santa Barbara, New York, or Europe, Middle East, so many times when I meet women who are staying here, I say ‘What are your plans?’ And they’re like, ‘Well, we came here to shop.’ Our guests are asking for it. So, if we can give them the opportunity to do that within the hotel, I think it just makes it so much more meaningful," Goldberg said.

The Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel is working on offering more curated and unexpected guest experiences.

"Right now, we’re looking at transforming our mini bars into beauty bars," said Goldberg. — RYMA CHIKHOUNE

OUT EAST: La Vie Style House, a Dallas-based company founded by Dallas native Lindsey McClain and L.A. native Jamie Coulter, known for its luxury caftans and wraps, has set up shop in Southampton, New York.

The partners have opened a 600-square-foot store at 42 Jobs Lane, joining its other two stores in Dallas’ Highland Park Village and Palm Beach, Florida. The company has also had pop-up locations in Aspen, Colorado, and Houston.

The shop, which is a permanent location, took over the space formerly occupied by Frances Valentine, across the street from Ralph Lauren. The company is planning additional locations later this year.

In addition to its one-size-fits-all caftans and wraps, the store features shirts, foundations, accessories, coatdresses and shirtdresses. Handmade in the U.S., the collection takes inspiration from vintage clothing. In addition to resortwear, La Vie Style House offers styles suitable for seasonal parties and bridal events.

Retail prices for the caftans and wraps range from $550 for a short cotton caftan to $850 for one with sequins, to full-length wraps in metallic brocade for $950. Foundations, tops, bottoms and dresses retail from $100 to $850.

La Vie Style House wholesales its collection at stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, MatchesFashion, Nordstrom and specialty stores.

"More than just clothing, our line represents a lifestyle that's laid back, yet fashionable," said McClain. "Dress them up for night, wear them casual for day — it's all about your individual style."

"This is the most ideal spot for La Vie. No one does it better than the ladies in the Hamptons," added Coulter.

The shop is designed in tonal shades of white. In addition to the La Vie line, the store features original works by artist Donald Robertson, known to his following on Instagram as @drawbertson, for sale. — LISA LOCKWOOD

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PAST AND FUTURE: CROCODILE TAILS, AND HEADS SUMMER LOOK: SPECIAL SHOP: OUT EAST: