Jan 14

Cover Image (Arthur Kar of L’ART visiting the Porsche Museum) Via

Miles Franklin

Arthur Kar driving a Rolls Royce Dawn with Kendall Jenner in shotgun and Tyler, The Creator seated directly behind. Image  Via
Arthur Kar driving a Rolls Royce Dawn with Kendall Jenner in shotgun and Tyler, The Creator seated directly behind. Image Via

Every now and again I have the opportunity to pour onto paper an idea that I think is truly new to the fashion industry. I love covering trends, art exhibits, and the ins and outs of high end fashion, but when something that is truly new emerges, my giddy excitement for the world of clothing is ignited anew. Having deep passion for both clothing and rare cars, L’ART DE L’AUTOMOBILE is a particularly exciting addition to the high end streetwear market, the automobile collector’s market, and to car/fashion culture more generally.

A man wears a L’ART logo tee featuring the Volkswagen Golf for Notre. Image  Via
A man wears a L’ART logo tee featuring the Volkswagen Golf for Notre. Image Via

Given my disposition toward couture and high end ready-to-wear collections from established designers, it is surprising even to myself that I would be writing about a streetwear brand that, in addition to selling million dollar vehicles, produces t-shirts, hoodies, and stickers emblazoned with pop-art and brand logos. Yet L’ART is appealing to me and to many other people who would not classify themselves as streetwear lovers at least in part because the company has tapped into a genuine sense of community grounded in their deep roots in Parisian automotive culture, and this community makes itself known both online and in the streets (cars from Paris to Manhattan can be seen brandishing L’ART insignia).

Having crafted for itself an image of carefree yet glamorous youth through an Instagram page boasting more than 125k followers, among them Kendall Jenner, Tyler, The Creator, and automotive royalty Ted Gushue, L’ART DE L’AUTOMOBILE has secured its rightful position in the garment industry and in the car scene.

A model wears a L’ART tee depicting the exact scene she is standing in, featuring a Porsche 911 GT2RS and Ferrari 812 Superfast. Image  Via
A model wears a L’ART tee depicting the exact scene she is standing in, featuring a Porsche 911 GT2RS and Ferrari 812 Superfast. Image Via

The level of success that L’ART has attained as a purveyor of apparel is impressive when one considers that its first collection of clothing became available only in 2016. Certainly, having a pre-existing loyal customer base and a cult following among celebrities, as is the case for the brand’s founder, the legendary Arthur Kar, can help get a project off the ground, but the leader of such an idiosyncratic endeavor would have to offer something that was properly unique to the fashion industry, and Kar found his niche.

Our current moment of fashion is one of ascetic minimalism; from Loewe to Bottega Veneta to Celine, our culture is awash in tones of beige, gold, white and black, and subdued prints and patterns. While there are many things to be gained from minimalism in fashion, especially for older buyers, it is certainly the case that younger people want to lead a more laid back, rebellious and emotional existence, and eye catching, highly contemporary streetwear that appeals to younger and freer sensibilities can offer that. 

A $1 million Ferrari F40 that burnt to the ground in Monaco earlier this year is immortalized on a L’ART tee shirt and sticker. Image  Via
A $1 million Ferrari F40 that burnt to the ground in Monaco earlier this year is immortalized on a L’ART tee shirt and sticker. Image Via

Following from its highly stylized Instagram account, L’ART’s apparel designs are cheeky, outrageous, and profoundly in tune with the mix of grunge and glamour that so appeals to teens and twenty-somethings. A quick browse of their apparel site reveals t-shirts featuring burning cars (an unmistakable reference to a million dollar Ferrari F40 which burned to the ground in Monaco just this year), stickers depicting a Mercedes Benz G-Class on cinder blocks after having its wheels stolen, and even Vans sneakers that the famous footwear company produced in collaboration with L’ART.

The brand has become so popular that it is now regularly available at Dover Street Market, Slam Jam, Notre, and The Broken Arm in Paris. A testament to the brand’s overwhelming success, and my personal frustration, can also be gleaned from the fact that the apparel website is frequently sold out. 

L’ART DE L’AUTOMOBILE collaboration with VANS is laden with delightful details, such as “GAS” and “BRAKE” printed on the bottom of the shoes, and a tag which reads “LA-777-RT”, alluding to a French number plate. Image  Via
L’ART DE L’AUTOMOBILE collaboration with VANS is laden with delightful details, such as “GAS” and “BRAKE” printed on the bottom of the shoes, and a tag which reads “LA-777-RT”, alluding to a French number plate. Image Via

Launching a streetwear brand is a rather precarious endeavor in a time when the market for logo tees and shockingly priced basics is more than saturated, but L’ART DE L’AUTOMOBILE proves that one can still succeed in the space if one’s brand is authentic, savvy, and hyper aware of the condition of young people around the world. In this sense, L’ART is a refreshing take on a recent yet already tired tradition, and it is also a sign of things to come.

The easy breezy aesthetic of L’ART DE L’AUTOMOBILE. Image  Via
The easy breezy aesthetic of L’ART DE L’AUTOMOBILE. Image Via

Cover Image (Arthur Kar of L’ART visiting the Porsche Museum)

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The Holiday Gift Guide for the Stylish Twenty-Something

Dec 10

Miles Franklin

We once again find ourselves in the midst of “holiday season”, that hazy period of making merry and spending money that runs generally from the end of October through mid January, and this means that it’s time to think about what gifts you’re giving to others and to yourself. As a young person, I’d like to think that I have my finger on the pulse of what people my age are looking for in a gift, and as such I’ve here outlined 10 outstanding gifts ranging from $10 -$300 that would be perfect for the twenty-somethings in your life; ranging from functional to ornamental, here are my picks for the best gifts of 2020.

  1. Casio A168WA-1 (Between $10-$20)
The effortlessly stylish Casio A168. Image  Via
The effortlessly stylish Casio A168. Image Via

For a machine that has such a complicated name, this Casio watch is delightfully simple and intuitive. A watch is an absolute necessity for anyone of college age for a variety of self-evident reasons, and one with a simple digital readout, alarm clock and timer functions, some water resistance, and a user-rated battery life of up to ten years is a no-brainer choice. Not only is the watch functional, but it is also attractively packaged, featuring a stainless steel bracelet and rugged but minimalist design.

2. VEJA V-10 Sneakers ($150)

The eminently popular VEJA V-10. Image  Via
The eminently popular VEJA V-10. Image Via

I’ve already covered VEJA for MODA at least twice, but they are such good shoes that I genuinely think they deserve a spot on this list. These shoes are in line with current trends, are genuinely sustainable, and have an easy time fitting into a variety of wardrobes. Because I’ve already said so much about these exceptional shoes in other pieces, I will link to my in-depth VEJA review here.

3. French Press ($15-$100)

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College students consume more coffee than we’d like to admit, and after a while it’s time to move on from the Keurig machine and the dining hall mystery brews. Not only is the French Press a more involved process than is using a regular coffee maker, it is also a more rewarding one that almost acts as a form of hands on meditation in the morning in a way that a coffee machine cannot mimic. I’ve linked one of the prettiest cold presses I could find, but rest assured that there are many more cost effective options on the market.

4. Fitbit health watch (from $69)

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Image Via

College kids and young people, just beginning our careers, overwhelmed by schoolwork, and attempting to maintain flourishing social lives all at once, tend to neglect our physical health at various periods. As such, a simple health-tracking watch can be a surprisingly useful reminder to get outside and breathe a little.

5. Wireless earbuds ($5-$500)

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Image Via

Wireless earbuds are an almost perfect gift for a young and fashionable person, combining utility with style in a compact and appealing package. Though Apple Airpods are the de facto industry standard, they are hardly the only option on the market and in fact have several considerable drawbacks including their price point and lack of personalization. A perfunctory browse on the internet is enough to find a pair of earbuds that fit the style and needs of the person you’re shopping for.

6. Weighted blanket ($70-$300)

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Image Via

It’s no secret that people in their twenties often have trouble sleeping, stemming from our less than stellar habits of high caffeine consumption (see number three on the list) and seemingly endless hours of screen time. As such, uninterrupted sleep can be hard to come by. A weighted blanket will not only help with sleep, the extra heft is surprisingly calming, but it can also further personalize a bedroom or living space.

7. Longchamp Le Pliage tote ($145-$200)

The durable yet stylish Longchamp Le Pliage in black. Image  Via
The durable yet stylish Longchamp Le Pliage in black. Image Via

Though I recommend a Longchamp Le Pliage as a particularly good tote bag for a busy college student, it should be obvious that sturdy and stylish totes exist at virtually every price point. I recommend the Le Pliage specifically because it is my personal school/work bag, and it has weathered my abuse gracefully, whether stuffed to the brim with the latest grocery store finds or all of my textbooks and my laptop.

8. Disposable camera ($15-$40)

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Image Via

In addition to providing photos with a vintage feel, disposable cameras make themselves useful in moments of spontaneous creativity; in an era dominated by smartphone cameras which offer a dizzying array of editing and processing options, the mechanically grounded feel of a disposable camera can offer a healthy and artistic outlet for stressed college students.

9. Patterned/Fuzzy socks ($10-$70)

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Image Via

Nothing says “I love you” like a funky pair of socks or two. Socks are a deceptively genius gift because, in addition to having that goldilocks combination of utility and style,  whenever the receiver looks toward the ground they will think of you!

10. Paravel backpack ($195)

Paravel Scooter backpack and monogrammed duffel. Image  Via
Paravel Scooter backpack and monogrammed duffel. Image Via

If the young person on your list requires a backpack instead of a tote, I think none currently available are as cute as the Paravel Scooter backpack. Available in several color schemes and monogrammable for an additional fee, this adorable leather and canvas piece is cute and easily wearable. Of course, there are a number of other options on the market should this particular backpack prove inadequate in any way. 

Cover Image Via

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Five Male Celebrities Who Rocked Jewelry On The Red Carpet

Nov 1

Miles Franklin

Billy Porter being fitted in Oscar Heyman jewels for the 2019 Golden Globe Awards. Image  Via
Billy Porter being fitted in Oscar Heyman jewels for the 2019 Golden Globe Awards. Image Via

“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” goes the perennial 20th century proclamation of the innately feminine love for precious jewels. At the same time that this phrase was coined, the late 1940s, De Beers, which once controlled over 80% of the world’s diamond supply, launched its enduring “A diamond is forever” campaign, which spawned the modern practice of sealing a marital engagement with a diamond. Though it is true that both of the above turns of phrase continue to drive the purchase of high volumes of diamonds and other precious stones for women, it is also true that male celebrities are stylishly pushing for more inclusive conceptions of the ways in which men can interact with jewels.

One might rightly scoff at the idea that men wearing jewelry is new, and it is at this point that I must refine my focus. Of course men have historically worn jewelry, but it has been men’s jewelry as opposed to women’s jewelry; a frail yet highly enforced dichotomy that is acutely representative of the broader Western proclivity for dividing all facets of life along gender lines. While the 20th century and part of the 21st century narrowly defined men’s jewelry as bulky, relatively dull, and gemless pieces such as cufflinks and timepieces, the last five years have seen some of the most aggressive de-gendering of even the most traditionally feminine jewelry styles, such as the brooch and lapel pin. In an effort to both celebrate and amplify the democratization of high jewelry that has unfolded in fabulous style on red carpets for the past several years, I share with you five times male celebrities have shined in ethereal jewels.

5. Pharrell Williams, 2017 Academy Awards

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Pharrell seems to appear frequently in my writing, and this is no mistake. As one of the only people alive to have collaborated with Chanel as an individual, and as the inspiration for a million dollar Richard Mille timepiece, it is perhaps no surprise that Pharrell comes up frequently when discussing celebrities who push the boundaries in fashion and jewelry. In 2017, Pharrell walked the red carpet in a predominantly black Chanel suit, offset by a dazzling broach of white diamonds which appear to be set in either white gold or platinum with pearls.

4. John Legend, Vanity Fair Oscar Party 2019

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Image Via

In 2019, John Legend wore a Dennis Tsui brooch of diamonds, blue sapphires, and a large yellow sapphire set in white gold. The brooch, named the Galaxy Pin, is notable for three reasons. The first notable facet of the Galaxy Pin is its designer, Dennis Tsui, who is a rising star in the world of high jewelry. Having only recently entered the high jewelry space, it is a testament to Tsui’s creative genius that he would so quickly be tapped to provide John Legend’s red carpet flash. The second noteworthy aspect of this brooch is its movement; rather than simply being a static piece of jewelry pinned to a lapel, there is also a gracefully proportioned chain which is accented with a yellow stone (probably a sapphire, possibly a yellow diamond) which is itself set in a magnificent halo of white diamonds. Finally, the presence of colored jewels in the Galaxy Pin sets it apart from equally beautiful yet less interesting pieces produced purely of monochromatic stones.

3. Timothée Chalamet, 2020 Academy Awards

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Image Via

Though I cannot in good conscience rank Timothée Chalamet’s Academy lapel pin as the best example of men’s brooch/lapel pin wearing on the red carpet, I must admit that it is my personal favorite. Having a deep sweet spot in my heart for Cartier jewels, colored stones, and vintage pieces, this 1955 ruby, diamond, and platinum lapel pin sweeps me off of my feet. As a piece viewed in a vacuum and devoid of context, it is already magnificent; large, clear, and creatively arranged diamonds set off by Burmese rubies (a distinction that is important to draw as rubies from Burma are of the highest clarity, and the deepest blood red) in several different cuts makes this piece exemplary of Cartier’s jewelry design language during the first sixty years of the 20th century. Pairing this sumptuous lapel pin with a characteristically restrained Prada ensemble guaranteed Chalamet’s outfit a spot in the best looks of 2020.

2. Chadwick Boseman, 2019 Screen Actors Guild Awards

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The late and great Chadwick Boseman, in addition to being a guiding light and source of inspiration for countless young people, was also a confident wearer of fine jewels. At the 2019 Screen Actors Guild Awards, Boseman donned three Tiffany & Co. Schlumberger clips of white gold, yellow gold, and diamonds. It is not often that men are seen wearing jewelry inspired by delicate flora, and the simple daring of this choice makes it all the more stunning to see on the red carpet.

1. Billy Porter, 2019 Golden Globes

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The trifecta of Oscar Heyman flower brooches which cascaded down Billy Porter’s lapel at the 2019 Golden Globes were sadly overshadowed by the rest of his exceptional ensemble, itself a piece of art designed by Randi Rahm. The brooches, awash in vivid colors and sprays of vibrant diamonds, partially utilize a setting technique pioneered by the legendary house of Van Cleef & Arpels in the 1930s, known as the invisible setting. This technique is one in which the stones are set such that the mountings are not visible, thus allowing the stones to shine ever more brilliantly in the absence of prongs. The top brooch appears to be of white diamonds and green enamel flower petals, the middle of white diamonds and yellow sapphires (or possibly yellow diamonds), and the bottom brooch of white diamonds and invisibly set rubies.

At a moment in the near future, life will return to normal and we will once again inevitably find ourselves passively taking in the glamour of celebrities on red carpet events. When that moment comes, I hope you will not look only at the garments with awe and wonder, but also the jewels.

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Feeds to Follow: @pimplesandprada

May 20

Miles Franklin

This week I had the pleasure of speaking with @pimplesandprada, arguably the most exciting of the recent wave of archival fashion/pop culture accounts with over 3,000 posts and nearly 50k followers. I use the qualifying terms “archival” and “fashion/pop culture” with the utmost liberty, as the account’s curator, Madison Potter, notes that her page might more aptly be called a moodboard which contains at once pop-culture memes, paparazzi photos from all of the great moments of the last 30 years, film stills, and even photos of the curator herself. Asked about the inspiration for the account, she relates; 

PimplesandPrada curator, Madison Potter. Image  Via
PimplesandPrada curator, Madison Potter. Image Via

“So in high school I was super into tumblr (like I’m talking 2013-2014 tumblr, the peak!) and I grew a large following there. But, as tumblr died and people moved on I didn’t have anywhere else to get content. I hated pinterest (don’t know why I love it now, no hate on Pinterest) but I’ve always needed this sort of expression I get out of creating mood boards. I got really into photography which led me to looking at editorials, fashion photography books, and photographers. Again, I hated Pinterest so I had this envelope on my phone where I kept all my inspiration. I had an iPhone 5 with NO storage (rip) and eventually would have to delete personal pictures to keep my inspiration photos. I decided to just make an instagram account as a place to keep these photos. That’s how it happened, I didn’t even know about other “mood” accounts or anything.”

PimplesandPrada feed at time of interview. Image  Via
PimplesandPrada feed at time of interview. Image Via

Given away in the very name of the account is the fact that the Potter’s favorite designer brand is Prada, and, being based in Chicago and now finishing her senior year at Columbia College with a bachelors in advertising and a concentration in strategy with a minor in fashion, one can understand the attraction to Miuccia Prada’s chic, metropolitan practicality.

Potter crossing the street in an all black outfit, punctuated by a classic Chanel double flap. Image  Via
Potter crossing the street in an all black outfit, punctuated by a classic Chanel double flap. Image Via

For those who just became followers, @pimplesandprada is definitely worth stalking, but the future of the page is just as bright as the past; concerning future content Potter says, “Well, more of me! Before COVID19 I was pushing styled content and more photos of me! I had to take a pause on that, but you’ll definitely be seeing a mix of my current content and photos of me after the stay at home order is lifted!” 

So, unable for the time being to admire fits on the street, @pimplesandprada is a wonderful way to stay inspired.

Put on something comfy and browse @pimplesandprada. Image  Via
Put on something comfy and browse @pimplesandprada. Image Via

Featured Image via

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A Final Plea for the Department Store

May 7

Miles Franklin

Here we are again, only six months after writing my farewell to Barney’s, discussing yet another potential luxury department store bankruptcy. Acknowledging now that the closure of major department stores is less a compilation of random retail flukes and more a trend that will continue well into the future, I feel that it is important to give a very biased argument in favor of luxury department stores. 

Neiman Marcus Chicago, on the famed Magnificent Mile. Image  Via
Neiman Marcus Chicago, on the famed Magnificent Mile. Image Via

Before I launch into my pro-department store attack in a bid to make you sentimental for the era of brick and mortar shopping, I feel it is necessary to touch on Neiman Marcus’ presence in the world of fashion and shopping, as well as the economic conditions which threaten it with bankruptcy. First, it’s important to note that Neiman Marcus represents a sizable piece of the luxury retail space, operating 42 premier locations, 30 Last Call (outlet) locations, and of course the two iconic Bergdorf Goodman stores which have been Manhattan staples for more than a century. Neiman Marcus Group has long been fiscally unsound, and was subject to a leveraged buyout in 2013 which helped the company earn it’s nearly $5 billion debt. Despite this formidable financial burden, Neiman Marcus, and companies like it, operate fairly normally in times of economic growth because they balance their large debt with a consistent cash flow to pay towards the debt. In times of economic stasis or instability, though, companies like Neiman Marcus lose nearly all of their revenue, leaving only the mounting debt and nothing with which to pay it. Unfortunately, the telltale signs of liquidity issues have already started to emerge for the company, which missed a nearly $6 million interest payment on debt in April. The additional and unprecedented burden that the coronavirus has placed on the retail market doesn’t help either, as UBS reports that around 100,000 stores may face closure before the end of the decade, and retail sales fell nearly 9 percent in March according to the Washington Post.

Neiman Marcus Hudson Yards opened March 15th of 2019 and holds 188,000 square feet of retail space.  Image    via
Neiman Marcus Hudson Yards opened March 15th of 2019 and holds 188,000 square feet of retail space. Image via

While the coronavirus outbreak will no doubt have ramifications for the foreseeable future, it is true that we will one day return Michigan Avenue, Wilshire Boulevard, or Hudson Yards, and it is in anticipation of this return that I implore you to explore the magic of the department store. Even as there are many reasons to shop online, stay at home orders being but one, the benefits of browsing in person are so much greater; for us Chicago-based fashion enthusiasts, is there a joy greater than walking down the Magnificent Mile with coffee in hand and a few friends in tow, browsing stores and trying clothes on in real time? If the social experience that physical shopping offers doesn’t excite you, at least think of the practicality and wonder of the prospect. Department stores offer the chance to seek out the brands which you already love, whilst simultaneously discovering new ones. Often one can shop, eat, and relax within the same retail space, Althea at the top of Saks being a particularly tasty example from Chicago. All of this is simply to say that I believe the department store, and brick and mortar shopping more generally, deserves to live on. Many established and formidable fashion houses either started at, or had significant help from, American department stores. To this day, whimsical shrines to garments remain the place to see and be seen. Where would Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and The City, Cher from Clueless, or Blair Waldorf of Gossip Girl be without the department store? 

Bergdorf Goodman, a Neiman Marcus owned Manhattan staple for more than a century. Image  Via
Bergdorf Goodman, a Neiman Marcus owned Manhattan staple for more than a century. Image Via

With potential purchasing interest from Saks Fifth Avenue, the current question is, will Coronavirus finally sound the death knell for luxury department stores, and if not, will they remain after the distant return to normalcy? By now, my position on the matter is painfully obvious. While it’s clear that my affinity for blazing through floors and floors of clothing is not shared by consumers in general, I hope that I’ve at least made a few people curious.

featured image via

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Catwalk: A Revealing Foray Into 90s Fashion Culture

Miles Franklin

Christy Turlington, the subject of  Catwalk  and the eminent supermodel of the 1990s. Image  via
Christy Turlington, the subject of Catwalk and the eminent supermodel of the 1990s. Image via

Nostalgia for 1990s and 2000s fashion, with all its attendant glamour and spectacle, seemed to have reached its pinnacle in the summer of 2019, when Instagram models and reality TV stars posted glossy photos wearing Chanel swimsuits and Dior Saddle Bags aboard yachts in the Mediterranean. Despite all of the frivolity and social media flexing that almost overnight turned a 20 year old, $200 derelict Dior bag into a $6,000 piece of vintage art, it was certainly exciting to see so many people introduced to what was arguably the most ambitious and reckless decade of fashion, the 1990s.

For people interested in diving a bit deeper into the culture of the fashion world during that glorious period, I want to introduce Catwalk, a 1995 documentary direct by Robert Leacock which follows Christy Turlington, Kate Moss, and Naomi Campbell through the three infamously chaotic weeks of fashion shows in Milan, Paris, and New York. In addition to capturing a baffling number of tastemakers in one film, including such legends as Gianni & Donatella Versace, Karl Lagerfeld, Anna Wintour, John Galliano, André Leon Talley, Jean-Paul Gaultier, RuPaul among many others, the documentary also grapples with, and exposes, difficult questions and stereotypes that have long plagued the modeling and fashion industries.

(From left) Carla Bruni, Linda Evangelista, and Naomi Campbell wear Chanel for Vogue in 1994. Image  via
(From left) Carla Bruni, Linda Evangelista, and Naomi Campbell wear Chanel for Vogue in 1994. Image via

Avoiding superfluous descriptions of the content of the documentary, it is worth noting that the production quality is far above what one might expect from a “day-in-the-life” sort of film; with a gorgeous original soundtrack by none other than pop culture’s darling, Malcolm McLaren, scenes that alternate between black & white and color cinematography, surprisingly disarming monologues, and inherently intimate meetings between models and designers, one is left with both sympathy and reverence for the supermodel.

One particularly endearing moment occurs when an exhausted Turlington arrives back to her hotel room and reflects candidly on the difficulty of maintaining relationships and the lack of rest for months at a time that are inherent in her work. It is in vulnerable moments like this one, shot in black & white, where we see the often overlooked consequences of life as a supermodel, consequences which are overshadowed by the glamorous, fast-paced, and overwhelmingly positive conceptions of this line of work. It is part of the genius of this documentary to uplift these moments of fabulous freedom and allure while also throwing them into relief with moments of much more serious contemplation.

Kate Moss walking the runway for John Galliano’s Spring/Summer 1994 show. Image  via
Kate Moss walking the runway for John Galliano’s Spring/Summer 1994 show. Image via

It is yet another part of this documentary’s genius to show the lifelong friendships established between supermodels and the army of people it takes to prepare them for the runway, while simultaneously highlighting the rivalries and dissension within the industry. Turlington is at turns discussing relationship issues and aesthetic affinites with Isaac Mizrahi, and engaging in fruitless career comparisons with other models, making faces at the camera in a manner eerily similar to John Krasinski’s character, Jim, in The Office. Paralleling the polarity of Turlington’s interactions are the scenes showing the models undergoing drastic changes to their appearances for shows which can all too often occur back-to-back and require, for instance, purple hair in the morning and natural hair in the afternoon; it is clear that, in addition taking mental and emotional tolls, modelling at this level takes a physical one as well.

Naomi Campbell walks for Chanel spring 1995. Image  via
Naomi Campbell walks for Chanel spring 1995. Image via

Concerning the topic of appearances, it would be unfair to brush under the rug all of the problematic moments in this documentary, most of which involve issues of appearance and presentation. Two scenes in particular come to mind, the first being a Jean-Paul Gaultier show the premise of which was a very thinly veiled exoticism composed of mock tribal tattoos and facial jewelry on predominantly white models, and the second being a painful scene in which the cinematographer asks André Leon Talley for thoughts concerning John Galliano’s Spring/Summer 1994 show, to which he replies, “a man who respects femininity, and a man who has an appreciation of romance, and a woman who wants to look like a woman.

Of course, he’s not making clothes to go to work, but he’s making clothes for women who want to look like women.” This comment, which flatly states that looking like a women means wearing intricate, heavy couture dresses and also insinuates that acting like a woman entails not working or at the very least dressing like one is not working, was out of place in 1995 and is certainly even more disappointing to hear today, especially from the otherwise brilliant mind of Talley who is himself a champion of diversifying fashion.

Christy Turlington walks for Jean-Paul Gaultier spring 1994, a highly problematic collection. Image  via
Christy Turlington walks for Jean-Paul Gaultier spring 1994, a highly problematic collection. Image via

The documentary ends with a scene in which an artist paints a minimalistic portrait of Christy Turlington, and the viewer cannot help but feel that they, too, have stared her in the face and distilled a more complete, essential, picture of her and her occupation. Because Catwalk so impartially reveals the beauty and vileness of the world of high fashion and supermodels, all the while doing so with stunning cinematography and a superb soundtrack, I am inclined to recommend it to veterans of vintage fashion as well as fashion fledglings.

Cover image via (From left) Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, and Christy Turlington, 3 elite 90s supermodels who often worked together.

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John Hughes Films and 80s Fashion

John Hughes Films and 80s Fashion

Miles Franklin

The last several months have been the most challenging and uncertain time many of us have ever faced. With record numbers of people losing jobs, students being forced to return home from school, and nearly all of us risking our health and that of others simply to make a run to the grocery store, there is much that appears bleak right now. As pertains to those of us who love to dress and are now stuck at home without a reason to carefully consider our garments every day, self-quarantining can feel like a creative block. Wishing to bring some inconsequential drama back into my life in lieu of the gossip my friends and I would regularly exchange in campus coffee shops, I turned to rewatching John Hughes cult classics like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, and Sixteen Candles. While watching Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Pretty in Pink in particular, I was surprised to find so much iconic mid-80s fashion on display, and in the spirit of staying at home while still remaining inspired by how people dress, I present the most fashionable characters in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Pretty in Pink.

1. Sloane Peterson

Sloane (Mia Sara) pictured with Ferris (Matthew Broderick) and Cameron (Alan Ruck). Image  Via
Sloane (Mia Sara) pictured with Ferris (Matthew Broderick) and Cameron (Alan Ruck). Image Via

Sloane Peterson, played by Mia Sara, was Ferris Bueller’s effortlessly gorgeous girlfriend. Throughout the movie, Sloane is seen wearing a white, cropped fringe jacket with gray above-the-knee shorts and beaded white boots to match the jacket. The cowgirl-meets-Los Angeles aesthetic is completed by Sloane’s light brown leather crossbody bag, and the Cartier Must de Cartier watch that sits on her wrist alongside a delicate bracelet. Combining this ensemble with the demeanor of the character that Sara plays ensured Sloane’s status as an 80s teen movie icon.

Sloane’s Cartier Must de Cartier watch. Image  Via
Sloane’s Cartier Must de Cartier watch. Image Via

2. Jeanie Bueller

Jeanie Bueller (Jennifer Grey) wearing her iconic black tote bag. Image  Via
Jeanie Bueller (Jennifer Grey) wearing her iconic black tote bag. Image Via

Jeanie Bueller’s contribution as a fashionable character in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off has less to do with her outfit per se, and more to do with her accessories, chief among them being her quirky, angular 80s car (which Ferris is quite jealous of) and her tote bag that she’s seen angrily lugging around throughout the film. Perhaps intentionally, Jeanie’s bag is featured quite prominently in many of her scenes; it’s a glossy black tote covered in large, distinctive patches which seem to be logos of some kind, and the bag itself sticks out particularly because of how dark it is in contrast to her bright pink sweater. Then, of course, there’s her car; a white, 1985 Pontiac Fiero which Jeanie is seen throwing around the road in several scenes, eventually skidding to a halt in the Bueller’s driveway towards the end of the film. Given Jeanie’s brooding and decidedly perturbed disposition, the bag and the car both seem to be more extensions of her personality rather than simply objects she uses.

Jeanie’s car parked in front of the Bueller’s quintessential suburbian home. Image  Via
Jeanie’s car parked in front of the Bueller’s quintessential suburbian home. Image Via

3. Katie Bueller

Katie Bueller (Cindy Pickett) epitomizing 80’s business casual. Image  Via
Katie Bueller (Cindy Pickett) epitomizing 80’s business casual. Image Via

As one of Ferris’ responsible and doting parents in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Katie Bueller is perhaps the most unexpected character from the film to make it into an article about 80s fashion in teen films, yet a closer look at her outfit reveals some interesting insights into business casual dressing in the 1980s. Pieces of her look that stand out include her shiny one piece necklace, gaudy earrings, and belt with an asymmetrical geometric buckle (sadly not pictured).

Moving on to Pretty in Pink, a movie which follows a few days in the high school experience of a girl who makes many of her own outfits, it is only fair that we first highlight the fashion prowess of the protagonist Andie Walsh, played perhaps unsurprisingly by Molly Ringwald (a staple in many John Hughes films).

4. Andie Walsh

Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald) in one of her well layered ensembles. Image  Via
Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald) in one of her well layered ensembles. Image Via

Perhaps what is so compelling about Andie Walsh in Pretty in Pink is not her outfits themselves, but the fact that they had been handmade. The storyline of the movie prominently features scenes of classism and highlights the financial disparity between the students of Andie’s school in frequently shocking, if not terribly nuanced scenes, so Andie’s intricate handmade outfits not only serve to please aesthetically, but also to mock the de facto uniform of the wealthy students. As such, Andie’s outfits are often wonderfully layered and complementary to her sunny yet serious attitude, and the movie culminates in the unveiling of the pink (shocking!) dress she created to wear to the prom.

Andie’s triumphantly pink prom dress. Image  Via
Andie’s triumphantly pink prom dress. Image Via

5. Iona

Iona (Annie Potts) shortly after assailing Duckie with staples. Image  Via
Iona (Annie Potts) shortly after assailing Duckie with staples. Image Via

Iona, the owner of the record store at which Andie works, so perfectly embodies the stereotypical outlandishness of the 80s club kid that her looks end up being unashamedly kitsch, moving wonderfully from one pole of eccentricity to the other. Throughout the course of the film, Iona presents a 50s version of herself (in a pink dress which is to become part of Andie’s pink dress), a version of herself who wears spiked hair and elbow length gloves, and a version of herself who wears white hair and would have looked perfectly at home in a scene from Beverly Hills Cop. 

6. Duckie Dale

Finally we arrive at Andie Walsh’s best friend and longtime admirer, Duckie Dale, who is so named in large part because of his duckbill-like white shoes. Duckie’s outfits largely play into his trademark goofiness, his shoes being case-in-point, and ensure that taking him seriously is an impossibility. Ultimately, though, there is still something admirable about the confidence he demonstrates through his wardrobe.

Duckie Dale (Jon Cryer) causing a scene. Image  Via
Duckie Dale (Jon Cryer) causing a scene. Image Via

Having made what I believe is far too long a list of fashionable characters from movies by a single director/screenwriter from a time in film that is long past, I hope I have, at the very least, added a few cult classics to your watch list. Now that we’re all stuck at home spending an inordinate amount of time in front of screens, rewatching our favorite films with an eye to how they may have influenced our styles is a whimsical but worthwhile endeavor at any time, but especially today.

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Five Thoughtful Designer Storefronts

Before my interest in fashion and handbags really took off, my main aesthetic concern was architecture. As my interest in fashion began to develop, I found myself making pilgrimages to the various physical locations of the designers whose work I most appreciated, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that many of them take great care to create sophisticated, often playful, facades for their stores. In an effort to exalt the connections between architecture and fashion, I am excited to share with you five thoughtful designer storefronts.

1. Hermès, Amsterdam

Customer leaves Hermès in Amsterdam with the coveted orange bag. Image  Via
Customer leaves Hermès in Amsterdam with the coveted orange bag. Image Via

Hermès made headlines in 2019 when, in Amsterdam, it opened a two-storey boutique in a building with a facade composed of glass bricks. Designed by MVRDV as a townhouse, and once occupied by Chanel, the glass facade of the store immediately fascinates passersby who can look through the wall and make out shapes and colors inside of the store. The structure known as Crystal Houses, which occupies a prominent plot on one of Amsterdam’s most well-known retail streets, seems to challenge both the architectural homogeneity of the street as well as Hermès’ own conservatism.


2. Dior Flagship, Paris

Pedestrians pass under the frosted limbs of Dior’s Christmas installation in Paris. Image  Via
Pedestrians pass under the frosted limbs of Dior’s Christmas installation in Paris. Image Via

Dior’s Paris flagship store, located on the Avenue Montaigne, is known for reinventing its facade with each passing season. Though every iteration of the store’s facade is worth talking about, Dior absolutely shattered expectations with it’s Christmas 2018/2019 installation; an elegantly proportioned, yet all-consuming white Christmas tree which glowed a warm yellow at night and shielded customers as they entered and exited the boutique. Though I’ve attached my favorite photo of the tree, I think it’s well worth your while to Google this one and browse further.

3. Louis Vuitton, New York and London

Three-dimensional Louis Vuitton monogram in London. Image  Via
Three-dimensional Louis Vuitton monogram in London. Image Via

Two storefronts well known for their constant reinvention are Louis Vuitton’s New York and London flagships. As with Dior, it is certainly true that every Louis Vuitton location adopts a universal, seasonally changing design language to keep each location recognizable and current. But while Dior makes its biggest statement in Paris, Louis Vuitton goes all out in Manhattan and London. Under the visual creative direction of Faye Mcleod (@fayedreamsaloton instagram), a new, colorful, three-dimensional explosive look was created for the LV monogram.

This new visual was painted onto the 10+ storey facade of Louis Vuitton’s Midtown Manhattan location, and was rendered in metal and attached to scaffolding at LV’s New Bond Street location in London for a genuinely three-dimensional experience. This 3D rainbow monogram motif was also installed in Louis Vuitton boutique windows across the world, taking the shape of hearts, orbs, and even a full size Christmas tree in LV’s Place Vendôme location in Paris.


4. Goyard, Monte Carlo

The facade of Goyard’s Monte-Carlo flagship, fronted immediately by the Monaco Grand Prix circuit. Image  Via
The facade of Goyard’s Monte-Carlo flagship, fronted immediately by the Monaco Grand Prix circuit. Image Via

Having had an intermittent presence in Monte-Carlo since the end of the 19th century, Maison Goyard has recently returned, opening up at an address along the city’s famed Avenue de Monte-Carlo. While I am appreciative of the storefront itself (a pared down, monochromatic single-storey glass and stone facade with immaculate white awnings printed with “GOYARD,” the whole store topped by a lush pedestrian walkway), the store’s location is much more interesting. As can be seen in the photograph, the store sits right along the famous route of the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix—perhaps the single most important circuit in Formula 1 since its inauguration by Prince Pierre in 1929. The physical situation of the store not only implicates it in the excitement of nearly a century of sporting history, but also ensures that the Goyard banners will be seen anytime filming occurs along the track.


5. Burberry, Chicago

The Burberry storefront situated on Chicago’s famous Magnificent Mile. Image  Via
The Burberry storefront situated on Chicago’s famous Magnificent Mile. Image Via

Finally, as MODA is based in Chicago, I feel that it is only fair to include a storefront from our very own city. It may not come as a surprise to Chicagoans that I have selected Burberry on the Magnificent Mile. Positioned across from The Roastery, the largest Starbucks location in the world, is the glossy, midnight black Burberry boutique. At first glance, it appears to be simply a large and tall volume, cut up the center by windows that display products and ad campaigns. What one finds upon closer inspection, however, is that the building is actually festooned with the historical Burberry check, rendered three-dimensionally to stand out slightly from the building itself. Even more spectacular is the bright white light which emanates from behind the check at night, casting an elegant yet whimsical glow against the polished structure.

The next time you find yourself window shopping or looking for something in a store, take some time to appreciate your physical surroundings, because someone spent a great deal of time designing the visual impact with you in mind.

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PHX Gallery, Where Exception Becomes Convention

PHX Gallery is a must-see for people whose love of Comme des Garçons reaches deeper than PLAY T-shirts and Converse collaborations.

Established in 2014 by Joachim and Carly Lapotre, PHX Gallery undoubtedly stands as one of Chicago’s best kept secrets, and is a must-see for people whose love of Comme des Garçons reaches deeper than PLAY T-shirts and Converse collaborations. Located in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, the gallery sits inside an unpretentious—yet clean and airy—warehouse, which is also home to other small galleries and studios. 

An unassuming set of glass double doors, framed with crown molding and a set of Venetian blinds, diligently protected the gallery from prying eyes. Image: PHX Gallery

A warm, intelligent, and funny Parisian, Joachim led me to an unassuming set of glass double doors, framed with crown molding and a set of venetian blinds that diligently protected the gallery from prying eyes. The moment Joachim opened the door, I was immediately immersed into a world where fringe fashion and furniture are the rule, not the exception. A small, intimate space looking out onto the street and the building across the way, the room is the perfect setting in which to learn about Comme des Garçons and post-modernist furniture. Immediately to the left of the doors, a set of Prorok rattan armchairs by Borek Sipek for Driade from the late 1980s nestled protectively around a glowing and tactile yellow foam lamp by Masayo Ave for Antonangeli Illuminazione from the 1990s, which itself was perched upon a miniature white ionic column. In one of the chairs rested a sophisticated leather Boston bag from Comme des Garçons, and this entire scene was backdropped by mid-century ceramic wall crucifixes from Belgium. 

The feeling and visual gravity of the curious sheer black linen dress by Watanabe for Comme des Garçons from 2014, alternating from mesh to faux leather circles placed seemingly at random, were incredible. Image: PHX Gallery

After I took in this magnificent scene, Joachim walked me through the multiple racks of vintage Comme des Garçons clothing, which encapsulate almost 40 years of Japanese avant-garde design from Rei Kawakubo and perhaps her most famous disciple and collaborator, Junya Watanabe. Describing the myriad of ways in which Kawakubo subtly (and not so subtly) defies conventional ideas of gender, form, and design, Joachim’s passion shone brightly and enveloped me further in the fantastic world of Comme des Garçons. Stopping at one particular piece, a curious sheer black linen dress by Watanabe for Comme des Garçons from 2014, Joachim encouraged me to try it on, an invitation I accepted without hesitation. The feeling and visual gravity of the garment, alternating from mesh to faux leather circles placed seemingly at random, were incredible.  

The feeling and visual gravity of the curious sheer black linen dress by Watanabe for Comme des Garçons from 2014, alternating from mesh to faux leather circles placed seemingly at random, were incredible. Image: PHX Gallery

Another standout that highlighted Kawakubo and Watanabe’s interest in creating seemingly ordinary clothes  was an asymmetric “hooded shirt” from 2011. What seemed from the front to be an ordinary button-down shirt, revealed itself upon closer inspection to be a hoodie, with orange stripes on the front and a red polka dot pattern on the back. Conversation about avant-garde Japanese clothing could have lasted forever, but we eventually began discussing the equally impressive collection of furniture and objets d’art placed throughout the room.

I was immediately immersed into a world where fringe fashion and furniture are the rule, not the exception. Image: PHX Gallery

After being introduced to Memphis Group, Ettore Sottsass, and the postmodernist furniture movement through a 2018 show in New York’s chic SoHo district titled Raquel’s Dream House (curated by Raquel Cayre, who runs the fabulous Instagram account @ettoresottsass), I became a veritable fan of postmodernist furniture and objects. To that end, Joachim and I eagerly discussed Memphis Group legends such as the Super Lamp by Martine Bedin and the Carlton bookcase designed by Sottsass himself, all the while immersed in a constellation of post-modernist creations including the Shiva Vase Prototype from 1973 (which you have to see to believe), several Keith Haring rugs, and a few curious glass and ceramic vases, which were in turn interspersed between a collection of prints by Memphis veteran Nathalie Du Pasquier. A particular highlight of this unparalleled collection was the selection of lighting: a Divan 2 Pendant by Simon Henningsen for Lyfa hung in one corner, casting striking shadows upon the white walls, while a Murano Glass Lamp by Angelo Mangiarotti for Pollux Skipper rested on the floor, creating oblong rings of warm, yellow light across the wooden boards. A designer in his own right, Joachim revealed to me several of his own designs, ranging from delicate, glass blown vases to large, geometric, ceramic sake pitchers.  

From a visitor’s perspective, perhaps the greatest joy of PHX Gallery is that most things are for sale. After scheduling an appointment to browse all that’s on offer, guests can join the list of PHX’s clients in purchasing rare and covetable pieces of design history. In fact, it seems that the only person in the gallery who cannot take pieces home is Joachim himself, who declared with admirable restraint: “Curators cannot be collectors.” 

Seemingly ordinary clothes take on a more astonishing significance upon closer inspections. Image: PHX Gallery
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Three Sustainable Brands Forging Unique Identities

It goes without saying that the fashion industry is undergoing a critical moment of self-evaluation regarding its sustainability practices. Almost daily it seems, new brands are emerging with the goal of creating clothing that is environmentally conscious and ethically sustainable. In fact, a quick google search will reveal hundreds of clothing brands at various price points that occupy this new space of “sustainable fashion”. So why, when there are so many environmentally and ethically conscious brands out there, does it seem that this category of clothing has adopted a single, refined aesthetic consisting mainly of earthy tones, simple cuts, and unexciting silhouettes? Wanting to call attention to this self-imposed creative barrier, I looked at three ethically and environmentally sustainable clothing brands with unique visual identities, proving that sustainable clothing does not require its own proprietary aesthetic that visually separates it from fashion more generally.

With a statement about resisting the aesthetics of sustainability on it’s own website, ECOALF sets out with the intention of creating on-trend clothing from recycled materials. Amongst the wide range of products ECOALF offers, are gorgeous and durable winter coats in a variety of shapes and color ways, and graphic tees with provocative imagery and statements. ECOALF also offers a selection of visually interesting, yet functional, bags and backpacks. Happily, ECOALF’s price range is quite wide which makes it accessible to shoppers of most budgets, though it should be noted that sustainably sourced clothing tends to be more expensive, in part because its producers are paid living wages.

Stylish winter coats are a trademark of ECOALF. Image  Via
Stylish winter coats are a trademark of ECOALF. Image Via

At a decidedly higher price point, Matter Prints is a purveyor of sustainable and ethical clothing and accessories that specializes in creating basic clothing in sophisticated but relaxed prints and patterns. Though it is true that the shapes of the pieces are largely uninteresting, the bold, eye-catching patterns applied to the pieces add visual excitement and prevent Matter from falling into the monotony of the traditional sustainable aesthetic.

Sophisticated yet fun prints define Matter Prints’ aesthetic. Image  Via
Sophisticated yet fun prints define Matter Prints’ aesthetic. Image Via

Having skyrocketed in popularity over the last several months, it is an understatement to say that VEJA Sneakers deserves a spot on this list. Founded 15 years ago after troubling evidence emerged concerning the conditions of shoe production around the world, VEJA has remained committed to producing ethically sourced, environmentally conscious vegan shoes made from rubber and recycled plastic bottles among other materials. Ironically, VEJA is so good at designing and producing fashionable, comfortable shoes, that many people who know of the brand are unaware of its mission of sustainability. In this regard, VEJA is an exemplary sustainable fashion brand that has established its own visual identity without feeling it necessary to make explicit ties to sustainability. Prices for VEJA shoes range between $95 and $200 making them expensive, but not out of the realm of reasonability for sustainable clothing.

Meghan Markle wearing VEJA trainers. Image  Via
Meghan Markle wearing VEJA trainers. Image Via

There must be a reason why sustainable clothing brands have largely tried to assimilate under a set of shared aesthetic principles, but as was the case with electric vehicle designers working too hard to ensure that their designs “looked electric”, the bid to visually distinguish sustainable fashion from the larger sphere of fashion may serve to alienate customers who care for the environment but don’t feel that it is necessary for their clothes to announce that care. For those who care about the survival of humanity but fear being labeled a treehugger, there is ECOALF, Matter Prints, and VEJA.

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