Polish born, American raised, Italian and French trained (she served as studio director for Sonia Rykiel before going out on her own) Mona Kowalska is the founder and designer of sixteen-year-old cult label and store A Détacher. The name means “to detach” in French but it’s a misnomer, Kowalska’s clothes, designed consummately from her own personal affections, are objects of desire and induce a high level of attachment for those who appreciate and wear them. Her collections, a mix of sly engineering, sympathetic notions of womanhood, and a vivid wit are a rare delight in a superfluous sea of fashions. Independent and delicate, nuanced but approachable, the clothes cut through the smoke and mirrors fashion often uses to drum up false appeal and get to the matter at hand: to offer something special yet wholly believable for a woman to wear. Designing with integrity, drafting the patterns herself (no mean feat, Kowalska’s shapes wonder as much as they flatter the female form) and made with the finest fabrics, each garment is considered from the inside out. She is the very ideal of a modern clothing designer, her clothes representing not just a style or a look but an attitude, a world, one that she offers without hesitation and through her collections and in her store she serves in spades.
tickets are available here.
Dynamic duo Starr Hout and Laura Cramer joined forces in 2008 to create APIECE APART. Born during a trip to West Texas for the designers’ 30th birthdays, the label has quickly gained a reputation for its clean lines, chic, simple shapes, impeccable tailoring and beautiful fabrics.
Their aesthetic follows the style of their leading muse artist Georgia O’Keefe whose dress was both ascetic in its sparseness and decadent in its celebration of the self. For Cramer and Hout it is the woman who wears the clothes who is of chief importance, the garments exist only to serve her. It’s a philosophy that has quietly earned them the dedication of many women who have found their modern take on classic sportswear and world dress to work perfectly in their closets and in their lives. Though Cramer and Hout keep a low profile they have found an admirer in French designer Christophe Lemaire who upon his appointment to Hermes cited the designers as one of his favorites alongside Celine’s Phoebe Philo. It’s clear, though their clothes are simple in appearance, Cramer and Hoult are formidable talents to be reckoned with.
Join Hout and Cramer as they take to the stage at MAD with Jeremy Lewis, Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Garmento Zine for an evening discussion delving into the future of womenswear.
The new series of Garmento talks kick of this Thursday with Rachel Comey.
Since launching her label in 2001, Rachel Comey has steadily endeared herself to women the world over who share her sure sense of self and her impeccable taste. Eschewing trends and flavors of the moment, her clothes are best seen not on the runway nor in a fashion editorial, but in the wardrobes and on the backs of real women, where her subtle hand achieves dramatic effect.
Joining Jeremy Lewis, Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Garmento Zine, Comey takes to the stage at MAD for a discussion exploring her unique design process and work. From the inspiration she finds in the intimate realities of those she respects and admires–her girlfriends, her heroines, even the woman she thinks she would like to be–to her punchy, yet matter-of-fact take on dressing, this evening offers a rare insight into Comey’s creation of work that imparts to the wearer both confidence and elegance.
Karl Lagerfeld with Ines de da Fressange wearing a dress by the designer for Chloe. Photograph by Pierre Vauthiey. Image originally published at fashionzizzle.com
A look from from Loewe’s Fall-Winter 2015-2016 collection.
Quilted ensembles from Cashin’s designs for Russel Taylor Weatherwear.
All illustrations from L’Officiel 1924
The 1920’s. Finally, we made it
The 5th season of Downton Abbey which has just begun airing on PBS finds the Crawley family and servants in the year 1924, a time rife with change, a time when modernism ran rampant. It manifested in literature, in art, architecture, in industrial design, graphic design, photography and, of course, in fashion. The waist was dismissed, assigned to hover abstractly over the lower hip like a vestigial limb. The bosom was banished. Although a mere hint remained it was never obligatory. Western culture’s fashionable body, having been engineered to suspend from either the waist or the bust for hundreds of years, relocated to the shoulders. Common to most modes of dress found outside of Europe, this particular fashion innovation hadn’t been seen in Western costume since the Middle Ages, and more distinctly, the fall of Rome. It is why Diana Vreeland once proclaimed the 1920s as her favorite decade citing that it was the first time in history women wore their hair short. The first time their ankles were revealed. It’s the time of the Bauhaus, of Man Ray, of Jazz and Chanel. For women’s dress it was an utter schism.
The beauty of Downton Abbey is that it’s allowed us to follow fashion from the sinking of the Titanic through a World War and into the world of tomorrow — all chronicled through a fantastically written, superbly acted, lavishly produced and exquisitely costumed soap opera. And now with the 5th season beginning the timing couldn’t be better for fabulous 1920s styles to go on display every week for the next two months or so.
The ‘20s is one of the most misunderstood decades. It is consistently butchered and shortchanged, scantily summed up with something vaguely flapper-ish. But the ’20s saw one of the most radical shifts in dress of the last 300 years. While dress reform was already underway by the time Paul Poiret was ruling fashion in 1909 it wasn’t until his success that fashion was challenged directly. Poiret offered revolution in the guise of the exotic. His interest in global dress provided vivid contradiction to the status quo (his innovative though eccentric Harem pantnts were highlighted in Downton Abbey season 2). But World War I brought on many changes and Poiret could not follow up on the modernism he instigated. Credit is given to Chanel for inventing the modern woman’s wardrobe though it is likely her then rival and now virtual unknown Jean Patou who was a more impactful designer. Regardless, both of them made extremely modern, cleverly engineered and flawlessly styled sportswear — obliging the demand for a more active and confident means of dress for even the most fashionable woman.
The effect is not unlike what designers Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen and Phoebe Philo have been getting at in the last couple years or what Armani has been proposing for the last 40. As a sportswear revival goes underway, led by likes of The Olsen twins and Christophe Lemaire, Downtown Abbey offers itself as a compelling series of fashion plates granting a detailed and insightful peek into one of the most exciting and eternally relevant eras of fashion.