Inside Tabor in Charlotte, NC

— Client: Garden & Gun — Journalism - Fashion - Journalism

Laura Vinroot Poole has always done things differently. When she opened her Charlotte, North Carolina, women’s boutique, Capitol, in 1997, she combined hip high fashion—including many labels that had never come near the state before—with a shopping experience so warm and personal, women felt like they were visiting an old friend. But when her customers started asking her to offer clothing for their male companions, Vinroot Poole hesitated. “I was afraid of opening a store for men,” she says, “because I didn’t think I could understand them.” After she tried out the concept with a couple of pop-up shops, however, her fears subsided. “In the South, women tend to shop for their husbands,” she says. “So I was still selling to many of my regular customers. And I understand them very well.”

Having gained the confidence to move forward, Vinroot Poole opened Tabor (so-called after her maiden middle name) in May and set about molding it into a new kind of Southern gentlemen’s shop, where both men and women would feel at home and where guys who were not used to more individualized shopping would start to feel comfortable with it. And she enlisted some knowledgeable male help. Her husband, Perry Poole, an accomplished architect who is also “the best-dressed guy in the room,” according to his wife, took on the project as its creative director.

A view of the shop's curated mix of casual and tailored menswear and accessories.

A view of the shop’s curated mix of casual and tailored menswear and accessories.

Besides her spouse, Vinroot Poole cites North Carolina’s state motto, Esse quam videri (“to be rather than to seem”), as an inspiration for

Leather belts from Virginia's Wiley Brothers.

Leather belts from Virginia’s Wiley Brothers.

Tabor’s selection of sophisticated but casual American sportswear. Updated classics from brands like Thom Browne and Jack Spade share racks with a range of Southern designers: hand-sewn jeans from Raleigh Denim, cutting-edge clothes and shoes by North Carolina native Mark McNairy, and Virginia-made leather belts by Wiley Brothers, to name a few.

Other Southern touches include customized Billykirk leather goods by the Tennessee-born brothers Chris and Kirk Bray, and stationery consultation from Arzberger Stationers, a local stalwart that has engraved personal letterheads for Charlotte’s social circuit for the past ninety-two years. And, in a contemporary update on the traditional tailoring experience, Tabor offers on-the-spot alterations for simple fixes, such as taking an inch off a cuff.

If being in Tabor feels like you’re shopping in someone’s very chic living room, it’s because in a way, you are. Housed in a 1920s bungalow, the space was once home to four bachelors whose lifestyle Perry refers to as “rambunctious.” But this is no glorified man cave. It’s light, clean, and modern—masculine, but not intimidating or clubby. “Most men’s stores are so dark and heavy,” he says. “We wanted a place that felt like a beach shack.”

The multidimensional shop also houses a book café, where customers can sip complimentary coffee from the Raleigh-based roaster Cup a Joe while browsing the assortment of rare publications and records. There’s an art gallery, dubbed SOCO and headed by local collector Chandra Johnson, that features a rotating lineup of national and international photographers.

It’s all part of the plan to make customers feel at home while also introducing them to new and inspiring ideas—whether through clothing or culture—they might not otherwise experience in Charlotte. After all, Vinroot Poole says, “we have to take care of our own.”

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Ralph Lauren Fall 2009 Collection Release

— Client: Ralph Lauren — Journalism - Fashion - Journalism

Ralph Lauren’s Fall 2009 collection is an enchanting mix of romantic luxury and regal elegance. Contrasting elements create depth and complexity — masculine meets feminine, ethereal meets tailored and ornate luxury meets raw simplicity. Feminine silhouettes focus on a slender waist and bodice. Intricately detailed gowns are worn with sharply cut tweed coats while jodhpurs are mixed with glamorous evening tops. From refined black and grey to rich browns, lovat and plum to soft and muted ivory, rose and vintage metallic tones, the collection has a dramatic yet effortless spirit.

Sleek and refined, gowns and chic tailored suiting in jet black and pale grey make an opening statement of pure sophistication. Bold lines, exquisite embroidery and beadwork emphasize sharp feminine shapes. An exquisite silk georgette beaded blouse brings unexpected splendor to a pale grey flirty silk skirt. Blending structure and texture, the striking curves of sculptural gowns worn with structured wraps offer dimension and cool glamour.

The mood evolves into an eclectic illustration that evokes autumn evenings in a chilly castle. Soft shades of antique rose, smooth sand and honey bring to life a textural array of cashmere, silk, velvet and suede. A hand-knit patchwork coat is boldly mixed with a delicate floral printed charmeuse gown and a cozy cardigan is nonchalantly paired with a beaded cocktail dress. Fitted tweed peplum jackets and vests are mixed with heritage fairisle sweaters while eveningwear translates to daytime sophistication when jodhpurs are reinvented in jewel-toned velvet and silk. Continuing the spirit of quality and polished finesse, luggage references and silver hardware update elegant alligator hand bags, crocodile belts are accented with regal crown buckles and high-heeled alligator boots epitomize pure luxury.

A luxurious palette of creams, ivories and winter whites reveals unparalleled sophistication and refinement when realized in a glorious white double breasted jacket with cavalry wool twill jodhpurs. Lavish vanilla shearling coats are adorned with rich embellishment and a slim cream patchwork jacket features hand-embroidery of tulle, glass beads and velvet ribbon detailing. The romance and volume of glamorous Mongolian shearling coats and ruffled jabot scarves is balanced with slender pants and sinuous dresses.

The eveningwear is breathtaking in its innovative beauty. Spectacular gowns in embroidered tulle, lamé and hammered satin strike a perfect balance between fantasy and restraint. A sculpted platinum lamé rose print gown captures the strong feminine shape of a form-fitting column dress. An antique pink silk charmeuse gown skims the body with sensual, plunging draping while a delicate lamé princess dress with layers of tulle and intricate embroidery captures the irreverence of modern romance.

Grey Matters – Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange

— Client: FASHION Magazine — Journalism - Fashion

For the past 30 years or so, Edie Beale Sr. and Jr. have been the world’s most obscure super stars. The 1976 documentary Grey Gardens, created by acclaimed filmmakers and brothers Albert and David Maysles, captured their kooky and co-dependent existence in a derelict East Hampton mansion that they shared with countless cats and raccoons. The movie made the former socialites instant icons in the gay and fashion communities, where their status borders on deity. However, to the rest of the world they have largely remained unknown. Until now that is. A new HBO film, written and directed by Michael Sucsy, and starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange as the infamous mother-and-daughter team is set to do two things: introduce the ladies to a mainstream audience and fill in the blanks in their riches-to-rags story.

“I told Michael that if he would take a chance on me I would give my life over to this thing. And I did.” says Drew Barrymore who fought hard to get cast as  “Little Edie”, as Beale Jr. was known to her family and fans. It’s easy to understand why. The part packs the kind of once-in-a-lifetime juiciness that makes Blanche Du Bois seem boring. Through the course of the movie, Little Edie goes from a celebrated 18-year-old society beauty to a bald, impoverished and isolated 58-year-old town eccentric. But through it all she manages to hold on to her irrepressible creativity, charm and dream of fame and glory.  “It’s a rare opportunity to play someone who is so divinely garish and entertaining but also so damaged and internal,” says Barrymore, “She has the most righteous insecurities. But she will also walk into a room wearing nothing but a bathing suit and a piece of lace and high heels and dance around in front of a camera. She is a walking contradiction.”

The complexities of Little Edie’s character are in mirrored in her odd but strangely appealing appearance. Her heartbreaking determination to make the best of her receding hairline and limited resources by wrapping sweaters and table cloths around her head, have become an enduring fashion inspiration. For example, she has been the subject of several Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar editorials, Marc Jacobs named a handbag after her a few seasons ago and she served as Philip Lim’s muse for his Fall 2007 collection. “ I love the fact that Little Edie was so fearless and unpredictable in her dressing, says Lim, “She was able to imagine ordinary pieces of clothing for extra-ordinary usage in terms of styling and functional purpose.  Also, her sense of proportion and balance was spot-on.”

Little Edie’s mother is an equally fascinating character. The aristocratic and rebellious ”Big Edie” Bouvier Beale hailed from what could be considered “American royalty”, (The Edie’s were Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ aunt and cousin respectively, and, yep, she makes an appearance in the movie), but her love of singing and disdain for appropriate Park Avenue behavior made her the black sheep of the family. “I absolutely adore the woman,” says Jessica Lange, “She was a unique spirit with tremendous courage who turned her back on everything that was expected of her. She had the strength to say: ‘I don’t want any of it, you can withhold your money or whatever you’re going to do, but I’m not going to live that way.’” What Big Edie did want, however, was the constant companionship of her daughter. The two lived alone together in their rapidly decaying house for 25 years, most of them spent in complete isolation.

The original documentary masterfully portrays the hilarious and horrifying nuances of the Edies’ co-dependent life as they banter, quarrel, sing and dance together. But it also raises some extremely nagging questions: “Why do they live in such squalor?” “Where is the family fortune?” “Why didn’t Little Edie get married?” and “How did she lose her hair?” Director Michael Sucsy found these matters so intriguing that they propelled him to create a screenplay. “Watching the documentary I realized there was a bigger story behind it. I kept thinking: “How did this happen?” Starting with Little Edie’s death certificate (she died in 2002, while her mother passed away 25 years earlier) and tracking down the executors of her estate, Sucsy started to meticulously piece together Beales’ mysterious past. “I tracked down Edie’s journals and diaries and poetry,” he says,  “I suppose I became obsessed with uncovering as much as I could.”

The story he found is fascinating, sad, inspiring and very human. In the telling of it, Barrymore and Lange flex their every acting muscle. Besides aging 40 years and plunging the emotional depths of heartbreak and despair, they also had to render pitch perfect recreations of two beloved cult figures, with an army of vigilant fans. “A major concern for me was the people who were very loyal to the documentary and love Edie,” says Barrymore, “I just wanted to do right by her.”  Finding the connection between the aging eccentrics and their glamorous younger selves was another tricky part. “As an actor you really have to find a thread that makes it believable that it’s the same character. It’s a huge challenge,” says Lange. Both actresses, who formed a close bond during the filming, were moved by the Beales’ intense relationship. “It’s a very unique love story,” says Lange, “There are so many layers and I don’t think anybody will fully understand the complexity of this relationship, but these women stayed connected to each over all these years. I think they were fascinated with each other.” Barrymore concurs: “These women kept each other entertained, you can’t even say that about a lot of married couples. Hell, they were laughing together for 40 years. I say bravo to them!”

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Culture Icon – Daria

— Client: FASHION Magazine — Journalism - Fashion

Shocked. Proud. Ambivalent. That’s how Daria Werbowy describes her reaction to learning that she will be the second model, after Linda Evangelista, to be inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame.

“My first reaction was like: Why? What for?” she says, kicking back on the couch in a bright and airy NYC photo studio after FASHION’s cover shoot. “I was really, really surprised.” And how does she feel now? “Part of me feels like I don’t deserve it. But part of me feels really proud that the time and effort I’ve put into modelling is being recognized. I’ve been really touched by that.” The news also stirred up Werbowy’s ambivalence about the nature of her job. “I’ve had a lot of mixed feelings about what I do,” she confesses. “A lot of the time, I feel like I’m part of the problem when it comes to all the superficiality and vanity that impacts the way girls grow up.” But ultimately, the induction has strengthened her desire to use her success to effect positive change. “Being honoured for what I do has given me the confidence to continue to do other things,” she says.

One of those “other things” is the recently launched Brazilian Earth Colours by Daria Werbowy makeup collection that she created for Lancôme. A portion of profits goes to Centro Espacial V ik Muniz in Rio de Janeiro, a non-profit arts centre run by Brazilian artist Muniz, which focuses on at-risk youth. “It helps kids enrol in a regular high school, and when they do, they can enter an arts program and learn how to dance, sing, paint or do the trapeze,” she explains. “It gives them a chance to explore their creative minds.” Werbowy was introduced to the centre when she was working in the city. “I went there to see a show that the kids put on, and afterwards I immediately contacted Lancôme and told them that this is exactly what I want to be involved with,” she recalls. The creative aspect of the program is important to Werbowy. “I didn’t want to put my name on something that I didn’t feel personally attached to,” she says. “I went to an art school for four years in Canada, and I feel like it’s very important for everyone to have a creative outlet.”

Art wasn’t the only thing that shaped her formative years. “Living in Canada really gave me my appreciation for nature,” she says. And it’s still the place where Werbowy feels most at home. “Although I don’t think I feel really at home anywhere. I’m a Ukrainian who was born in Poland and raised in Canada and now lives in New York. I have nostalgia for all those places. But Canada is where I was raised.”

This shoot (which was in early summer) was Werbowy’s last assignment before embarking on a grand adventure. For the next three months, she will sail across the Atlantic and around the Mediterranean with her family. T o some people, being isolated with your next of kin on a little boat in the middle of the ocean may seem like the premise for a horror movie, but Werbowy is excited at the prospect. “This trip has been my dad’s lifelong dream,” she says, beaming. “It’s a beautiful experience and an amazing opportunity for us to be able to do something like this.” Werbowy is scheduled to return a few days before the Walk of Fame ceremony in Toronto on September 6. “Hopefully, I’ll make it on time,” she laughs. “Otherwise, I’ll have to hire a body double!”

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Bodies of Work

— Client: FASHION Magazine — Journalism - Fashion

The first half of 2010 will go down in fashion history as a season of political correctness. The notoriously fantasy-driven and non-inclusive industry experienced an insurgence of reality and diversity. The French and American editions of Marie Claire put out special no-retouching issues, 40+ babe Kristen McMenamy returned to Calvin Klein’s catwalk along with Stella Tennant and Kirsty Hume (both over 30), and there was an influx of up-and-coming black and brown beauties. But the biggest—pun intended—part of this revolution was the sudden expansion in model sizes. American plus-size supermodel Crystal Renn blazed through French Vogue, Elle, and Glamour, while rotund rocker Beth Ditto graced the premier cover of style bible Love magazine. Meanwhile, the busty young Brigitte Bardot look-alike Lara Stone emerged as the model of the moment. When über-stylist Katie Grand helped cast Victoria’s Secret models such as Doutzen Kroes, Alessandra Ambrosio, Miranda Kerr, Rosie Huntington- Whiteley and Bianca Balti for the Prada and Louis Vuitton Fall 2010 shows, she shocked front-row regulars who hadn’t seen hips on a catwalk since the turn of the millennium. At the same time, the once-ubiquitous wave of frail, childlike, almost transparently thin Eastern European models seemed to have washed up on the has-been shores. It was as if the industry wanted to apologize for the past five years. “The prepubescent Russian girls aren’t so popular anymore,” says Christopher Michael, a model agent at One Management in New York. “Now everyone is interested in gorgeous, healthy girls with personality. The beauty ideal is turning more toward what’s considered beautiful by the general public.”

Is this change we can believe in? In the new decade, the fashion industry appears to be inching toward a healthier image than it promoted in the last one. Power photographers like Steven Meisel and the duo Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, who launched the careers of several pubescent starvelings, now reportedly refuse to shoot anyone under 16 and 18, respectively. British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman has criticized designers who send size zero samples that fit only wispy waifs, and has stated that the magazine adds bulk to ultra-skinny models in retouch. Anna Wintour has declared that American Vogue will henceforth include a wider variety of body types.

Will all this have a lasting impact? Maybe. And maybe not. Right now, the industry appears to be in the middle of a shift, but it’s hard to see trends clearly while they’re still emerging. And, of course, add to that the famed fickleness of the fashion pendulum—what you see now could just be a fleeting fad.

Fashion trends usually have some correlation to the world of finance. It seems that the previous flavour of model created a bad aftertaste with consumers at a time when magazines and labels couldn’t afford to lose them. “The super-skinny thing started to create a bad cultural spinoff,” says Michael. “Women are tired of trying to fit into clothes that have been made for 14-year-olds. The economy has forced the fashion industry to listen to what consumers want.”

That’s why Justin Gelband has been very busy lately. He’s a New York celebrity trainer known for his ability to transform tomboyish models like Miranda Kerr into luscious Victoria’s Secret Angels. “For the past year, agencies have been sending me more and more high-fashion girls to help them gain more curves,” he says. (He works with Irina Shayk, Anne Vyalitsyna, Behati Prinsloo and Suvi Koponen, to name a few.) Still, Gelband’s regime doesn’t exactly make a girl zaftig. It’s more about being lean without being frail, and he works on his clients’ nutrition as much as their exercise routine. “The agents see that it’s possible for the girls to be strong and muscular and still fit in the designer samples,” he says. “They also notice that when the girls are healthy, they look beautiful and have more stamina. They work better.”

There’s something obscene in that realization—it implies that an unhealthy lifestyle has been not just acceptable among models, but encouraged. In 2006, I wrote press releases for several high-fashion houses, and often overheard discussions about runway castings and who should wear what. There was one model in particular who created sartorial issues. She was a major star but her struggle with anorexia had left her so skeletal that some designers felt that her legs couldn’t be exposed. Others did not see this as a problem, however, and sent her out in micro minis. It was especially ironic to see her rattling about in clingy, revealing dresses by a designer who claimed the collection was inspired by “womanly curves, hips, breasts and buttocks.”

I wasn’t the only one who had a reaction. In 2007, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) introduced its Health Initiative, which raised awareness of the rampant eating disorders among young models, and included guidelines on how to address the issue. (Previously, other fashion week cities like Milan, London and Madrid had attempted to install catwalk bans on underweight girls, but were thoroughly ignored by designers.) At a panel discussion, Coco Rocha—who at size four is considered too large for many runways—spoke about the demands she faces from agents and clients. “They said, ‘You need to lose more weight—the look this year is anorexia, and although we don’t want you to be anorexic, we want you to look it,’” she said. “My question is, How do you look anorexic unless you actually are?”

Some models, like Rocha, are able to stand up for themselves and their natural body type. Others, like the Dutch model Kim Noorda, succumb to the pressure. Noorda wrote candidly in American Vogue’s April issue about her struggles with weight and body image. It’s hard for an average-sized woman to understand how a lanky and long-limbed girl can feel overweight. But your eyes adjust to what you see around you.

“When you work as a model, your perception of a woman’s body becomes completely skewed,” says Caroline Forsling, a Swedish model who has been working steadily for over 15 years for clients like Sports Illustrated and Michael Kors. “You can’t see that a normal-sized figure is attractive. You completely lose touch with reality.”

Designer, former model and British royalty India Hicks agrees that the fashion industry’s perception of body type is completely surreal. “When they talk about people like Lara Stone being a plus-size model—not even a plus-size model but a voluptuous model—it’s just mental!” she exclaims.

At five-foot-11 and 124 pounds, Forsling is still sometimes turned down for jobs because she is too big. “I have lost runway jobs because I had breasts,” she says. “And an agent once told me to lose weight by dropping the not-so-subtle hint that she wanted to see more of my collarbones.” Forsling’s life is unusually grounded for a model; she’s a happily married mother of two who spends more time at the playground than in the gym. While she still loves the business, she says it hurts to be rejected because of her size. “It makes me so angry when I think about all the young, insecure girls that don’t have a support system,” she says. “Models are so lonely. You’re always on your own in a hotel room with way too much time to obsess on this stuff.”

“Modelling can be very demeaning for a young girl,” agrees Hicks. “And, you know, the saddest part is that you’ve got these incredibly beautiful, beautiful creatures out there and they have no self-esteem whatsoever.”

But agents aren’t telling models to lose weight just because they’re evil. “Our job is to get them jobs—it is the sample sizes produced by the designers that demand such a small fit. It’s not about our taste. We supply a product,” says Michael.

But aren’t agencies supposed to look after their models’ well-being? “Yes, but we’re not always aware when a girl has a problem. It’s very hard to tell sometimes.” And of course it is. People with eating disorders are skilled at hiding their illness.

Ultimately, the girls need to fit into the clothes, right? Agents, stylists and models all point to designer sample sizes as the root of the problem. In the past 10 years or so, samples—used for photo shoots and runway walks—have shrunk from size four to zero. In Kim Noorda’s journal, the five-foot-10 model writes that when she weighed 110 pounds, she fit into the samples easily. When she got treatment for her eating disorder and gained 15 pounds, however, doing runway shows became extremely uncomfortable.

If designers made bigger samples, the models wouldn’t have to be so thin, so the argument goes. So why do designers make such tiny clothes?

“There are certain proportions that make clothes look good on a body. You can be a beautiful woman but if you don’t have those proportions, you will be told that you need to lose weight. There are very few Naomi Campbells out there,” says recent CFDA award winner Sophie Théallet. She says the industry standard sample sizes are not a reflection of her personal taste. “I love a curvy woman who is a woman, but the reality is that you have to work a lot harder to make clothes look good on a voluptuous girl. If my company was bigger, I could afford to have more diverse sample sizes.”

Still, the girls Théallet casts are relatively voluptuous, and her samples—size four—are generous by fashion standards. Coco Rocha opened her Fall 2010 show. “When a girl is too slim, I don’t cast her, even if I like her face. I can see when it’s not natural,” says Théallet. “I can’t take it—I just want to feed her.”

One designer who has gone out on a limb and cast real, live size 10 women is knitwear designer Mark Fast. For his Spring 2010 show, Fast created a sensation when he showed his intricately detailed and revealing knits on both skinny and full-figured models. “I was aware that many of my customers are women that have curves,” he says. “I wanted to express a fantasy world for them on the catwalk—we all need to dream!” However, he admits that it’s easier to dress curvy women in knitwear than clothes made of other fabrics. “My knitwear has the capability to stretch quite a bit, so there is room to fill in.”

Other designers seemed to be on a similar track for Fall 2010. Prada showed demure, retro dresses that would flatter women of all sizes. Phoebe Philo at Celine kept things fluid and covered up. Even Nicolas Ghesquière at Balenciaga dropped his infamously skinny pants in favour of softer, rounder silhouettes. Will all this change the beauty ideals pushed by ads and magazines? Probably. Will it help regular women feel less inadequate? Probably not. But at least a few more models will face less pressure to look emaciated. And maybe that will spare a fashion-obsessed teenager or two from trying to lose those last five pounds. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts.

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Melanie Ward – The Imagist

— Client: Surface Magazine — Journalism - Fashion

Melanie Ward is hard to define in standard fashion terms. Perhaps that’s why she has had so many titles: Helmut Lang’s muse and design partner, Creative Director for Karl Lagerfeld’s namesake line and Senior Fashion Editor of Harper’s Bazaar.

Each description is accurate, but none fully embraces her influence or skill set. For the past two decades, the London-born, New York-based Ward has been a catalyst of change that has steadfastly pushed fashion forward – from deliberately disheveled grunge to rigorous minimalism to the mix-and-match cool now in vogue. “Melanie has had a vast influence in shaping modern fashion and the way women dress,” says her brother Anthony Ward, a photographer and her frequent collaborator on Bazaar editorials.

Unlike other stylists, who often reference the past for inspiration, she always has her eye on the future, creating new ways to outfit. “I’m more interested in the mix of things and a certain attitude than trends that originate too literally from the past,” she says. “I prefer to live in the now; being too nostalgic would limit my creativity.” Although her work keeps evolving, there are certain elements at the core of her aesthetic: strong, graphic shapes, a play with extreme proportions and a fusion of masculine and feminine elements. She never over-embellishes. “You have to know when to stop,” she says. And she always avoids an overly polished look: “It will always be about effortlessness for me. Even if you are wearing an evening gown, it is about the attitude. A certain defiance.”

That sense of sedition is what first made her an industry force. In the early 1990s, Ward was part of a London cadre of photographers, stylists and models who created the so-called grunge movement that would turn fashion on its head. Together, with shooters such as Corinne Day and David Sims, Ward made gritty pictures that were the polar opposite of the glossy flawlessness prevailing in magazines at the time. “We were inspired by imperfection. Our muses were real. We captured a beautiful, 5’7” Kate Moss squinting in the sunlight with no hair or makeup,” she says.

Ward’s styling was just as controversial. For magazines including The Face, i-D and L’Uomo Vogue, she made her own clothes and customized vintage garments to create slightly unraveled looks. (She did study at Saint Martin’s School of Art where she was awarded Best Daywear for her graduate collection.) “There were pants hanging precariously off the hipbones: louche, raw cut at the hems and dragging the floor,” she recalls. “Cashmere sweaters and tank tops peppered with holes. Silk, biascut dresses worn with trainers. At that time nobody made low-rise jeans, so I would buy a bigger size, drop them on the hips and staple the crotch up the back, so they looked like skin-tight leggings. I wanted the clothes to have personality and look specific to the model, as if they were wearing their own, a little undone, a bit off,” she muses. “Ironically, it’s a look that’s still the coolest today.”

Sims thinks Ward’s influence has also made her calling more visible and her craft more respected. “She brought about a whole new cult of the stylist,” he says. But Sims also feels her work had a mainstream impact: “Her taste is very unique, and it registered with a whole generation of people both in and out of fashion,” he says.

Ward was wooed to New York in 1994 by former Harper’s Bazaar editor Liz Tilberis. “She wanted me to bring an edge to the magazine,” says Ward, by collaborating with some of the world’s best imagemakers: Craig McDean, Patrick Demarchelier, Paolo Roversi and Mary Ellen Mark. She also spent the rest of the decade collaborating on design, image and branding for the era’s titans: Calvin Klein, Jil Sander and Helmut Lang. “Things became more minimal, and we ushered in a new cool sense of sophistication. Very played down, urban, street, yet luxury,” she says. Her relationship with Lang, which lasted from 1995 to 2005, when the designer retired, was particularly close, and Prada CEO Patricio Bertelli (who bought Lang’s company in 1999) has called her the “female Helmut Lang.” “Helmut and I had such similar tastes,” she remembers. “We would often have different starting points to our creative process but would end up at the same conclusions.” While Ward worked from instinct, draping herself in fabric, Lang had a more “metaphysical” approach. “He might find a rock on the beach and design a collection around it,” she says.

When her job with Lang ended, Ward was approached by another great – Karl Lagerfeld – to conceive a new clothing line under his name. As Creative Director of the house, she hired and supervised a large design team and in-house atelier, created all concepts and developed all products and branding for the line. When the promising label abruptly shut down in 2006, a casualty of a corporate merger, Ward painstakingly helped everyone in her team find new jobs. “Empathy and ethics are an important part of my life,” she says.

In fact, Ward is known as one of the most sincere people in the business. But coupled with her manners is a steely sense of determination to get things right. “Helmut used to say I was the nicest pitbull he’d ever met,” she confesses. Sims is also struck by this quality. “She’s a gentle soul, but it took me a long time to realize how strongwilled she is,” he marvels. This single-mindedness is what has kept her at the top of the game in a community known for its appetite for the Next Big Thing.

She is, almost 15 years later, still relied upon to add a disheveled sharpness to Bazaar’s pretty and pristine. “[Current editor] Glenda Bailey said to me that sometimes it’s hard for her to understand what I’m doing, but then she’ll see the looks from my editorials on the runways a season later.” And that’s the way it should be, according to Ward: “As a fashion editor, one’s job is to inform and inspire the readers, to challenge their perceptions. To embrace what is modern. To be adventurous.”

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Patrik Ervell – The Analyst

— Client: Surface Magazine — Journalism - Fashion

Studying political science and art history at Berkeley may seem an unorthodox preparation for a fashion ca reer, but in the case of rising menswear designer Patrik Ervell, an academic background makes sense. His mod ern, meticulously crafted sportswear is clearly conceived

by an analytical mind with no tolerance for the trite or trend-driven. While other fledgling talents may launch their own lines because they can’t find the perfect T-shirt or because they dream of dressing ingénues, Ervell’s sartorial calling was prompted by an exasperation with industry clichés.

Upon graduating, he landed a job as an editor for V magazine, where working on fashion shoots quickly taught him what he did and didn’t like about the business. “I would listen to references to the same celebrities, subcultures and fashion periods over and over…It seemed so culturally dead,” he says. So after three years on staff, he left the magazine, took some classes at Parsons and started to construct his own clothes in late 2004. “Approaching design from an editorial background does lead you to think more about the context of the clothes and their meaning, as opposed to just the merchandising of a collection or developing a product,” he says of the shift from styling to designing. “It’s such a rare, hands-on experience to be able to actually make something and then sell it to a store.”

His debut was deliberately low-key, as Ervell wanted to find his feet as a designer before launching a full-fledged line. In early 2005, he placed just a couple of shirts and trousers at the lower Manhattan boutique Opening Ceremony – an easy enough feat since the acclaimed store is located on the first floor of his apartment building and owned by friends Humberto Leon and Carol Kim. It was the kind of break every budding haberdasher needs, and the garments were well received, urging Ervell to build the line in increments each season. “It all happened organically,” he says. “It’s been a very gradual process.”

Despite his careful pacing, just two years later, Ervell won the prestigious Ecco Domani award, a stipend that funds runway presentations for the emergent. The slow-and-steady designer was then obligated to produce a formal show. “Once you start doing shows, you can’t stop,” he admits. This media initiation then drew more rave reviews, attracting a following of art patrons and rock stars.

So why has a designer who strives to keep a low profile made such a splash? Probably because he has pulled off something very tricky: reviving American sportswear. Ervell’s looks are effortless without being simple, structured without being stiff and innovative without losing their inherent masculinity. There’s also a dedication to meticulous hand-finishing – including a metal stud-covered cardigan in the fall collection that took three months to make – and a sense of newness in his choice of high-tech fabrics, such as laminated polyurethane mixed with wool. “It’s modernism, but it isn’t cold,” he says, “It has feeling.”

His aversion to cultural references is coupled with a disdain for disposable fads. “My collection is about continuous development, not massive seasonal shifts,” he says. This means that rather than completely changing his message each season, Ervell sticks to signature looks including his soft, lining-less suitings and his “air jacket,” a sculptural but still wear-with-everything windbreaker. “I have silhouettes that are my silhouettes. I believe in them, and I’m going to keep making them,” he promises.

Ervell credits this commitment to technique and nuance to his Scandinavian roots. He was born in Sweden and lived on a small island outside Gothenburg before moving to California when he was five. His West Coast upbringing shines through in the casual-luxe of the pieces, but, he attests, “The emphasis is on quality, not a display of status or a statement of wealth. That’s my Swedish side.” Apparently, it takes an outsider’s perspective to make American menswear interesting again.

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Edie-Feber: Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange

— Client: PLAZA Magazine — Journalism - Fashion

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— Client: PLAZA Magazine — Journalism - Fashion

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