We’re really psyched that we got the chance to Q&A Brice Partouche, designer of French denim brand April77, 1/2 the mastermind behind the April77 x Calla Romantic Rights collaboration (which turned out some seriously dreamy jeans). Brice revealed some admirable denim snobbery and, very interestingly, an interest in creating jeans out of Lady Gaga‘s hair.
Denim Therapy: Lets start from the beginning. How did you know you wanted to be a designer?
Brice Partouche: I never wanted to be a designer. I studied medecine. I wanted to be a cardiac surgeon! But I was into music too, playing in bands. Fashion wasn’t (and still not) important to me. It’s all about attitude.
My dad was a jeans maker and I learnt everything from him, even if he tried to keep me out from this business. I guess he wanted me to have a real job… and now we are working together. April77 is a family company. I started the brand in 2001. The idea was simple : clothes that me and my friends want to wear.
DT: Are there other denim brands you consider your immediate competition? How do you differentiate yourself from the hundreds of popular denim brands afloat right now?
BP: We don’t have competitors and if we have well I don’t know them. I guess we are different from others brand because we have a real story to tell. We’re authentic and passionated and that’s what make our customers special. They are more “fans” than customers.
People who knows me will tell you, I’m a real nerd. I feel only concerned by authentic denim brands and I try to avoid that profusion of storyless denim brands flooding the market.
DT: Do you have any pre-designing rituals?
BP: You mean like doing pagan rituals, turning upside down black jeans and waiting for the inspiration? Well not really, but I try to leave Paris for 2 weeks, going to NY or California. The USA have always been my most inspiring country.
DT: Describe the person who represents your ideal target customer—the customer you have in mind when you’re planning a collection.
BP: I figure a one-step-ahead teenager or a 35-year-old guy still stuck in his skaboarding years. At least, both are music nerds , clever customers and not under the fashion industry influence.
DT: What would be your dream collaboration? Any plans of that in the future?
BP: Jeans made with Lady Gaga’s hair would be awesome. But a collaboration with Henri Rollins would be the absolute dream!
DT: What are the most popular washes/fits in the line? What are your favorites, and how would you style them?
BP: The JOEY Overdrive Raw is our best seller. It’s our basic skinny jeans in natural indigo raw denim. It’s unisex. DICTATOR are a slim/straight jeans, very popular too. Raw jeans with a blank or band tee are the best… I’m not a fan of washings. I ‘ve always prefered raw blue or black denim. It’s a real pleasure to see that our customers prefer raw denim as well.
Of course we make couple of washings. They are always inspired by my personal or my friends jeans after 6 months or one year without washing or cleaning. I know it sounds dirty but that’s how jeans are supposed to be worn.
DT: Do you have any favorite/least favorite denim trends right now?
BP: I like open end denim. They were famous in the 70’s and 80’s , when denim fabric production became massive, suppliers had to make cheaper denim. The quality was good because the fabric was thicker…but the price was cheaper.
DT: Street style and style blogs are huge in the industry right now as a source of inspiration, influencing the high end labels rather than vice versa. How much does street style influence your designing?
BP: Well, street style is of course one of my main inspiration. I’m lucky because my job makes me travelling a lot. I meet very inspiring people, some are my friends, some are just random cool guys and girls.
DT: How many pairs of denim do YOU own?
BP: Guess what, I have two pairs : one blue, one black. I wear them till they die, then I change.
DT: Favorite celeb wearing your brand?
The Kills, Amy Winehouse (when she was around), Julian Casablancas.
Keep an eye on April77 for denim-snob approved releases this spring! Huge thanks to Brice Partouche for doing this Q&A with us.
—Jackie Racer & Michelle Christina Larsen
Tags: April77, Brice Partouche, Exclusive, French denim brand, interview, Lady Gaga, q&a
Yes, jumpsuits are a singular sensation as WWD reports. It is nice to hear that they will continue to be a hot trend for Spring 2010 so I can keep on wearing the ones I have and, of course, add a few more! I absolutely love anything from Zero + Maria Cornejo and what about that Rachel Roy…she has some great affordable pieces out.
Steve Madden continues the madness of the Olsen twins fashion takeover with a licensing deal to do shoes and accessories for the Olsenboye line for J.C. Penney. These girls are on fire with their multiple lines and what a smart move for Steve Madden to jump on the gravy train.
Bergdorf celebrated the 25th birthday of the famous eatery, Indochine, with Narciso Rodriquez co-hosting. Definitely a NYC institution that had iconic artists, fashionistas, celebrities and let’s not forget us common folk, eat, drink and be merry there in the hey days of the 80s and 90s. Happy Birthday Indochine!
Live Strong! Lance Armstrong has proven to do so and then some. On Friday night Lance opened the new Nike-sponsored Stages exhibit at Deitch Projects in SoHo, which supports the cyclist’s foundation. New York based artists who participated were Ed Rusha and Tom Sachs, who I adore. Make a trip down to Deitch Projects to view the show.
Get ready, FrostFrench, a label founded by Sadie Frost and Jemima French, are back in full force! Next week, the label will unveil a boutique on Noel Street in London??™s Soho.
Read today’s highlighted articles below.
–Nikki Cho Russo
Spring 2010 Jumpsuit Trend: Singular Sensations
Jumpsuits have taken a flying leap back into the spotlight, returning in versions that range from utility looks that recall intrepid paratroopers to second-skin glamorous styles.
(Left to Right – Photo By: Kyle Ericksen)
1) Zero + Maria Cornejo??™s linen and viscose version. Frye boots.
2) Sue??™s stretch silk and spandex jumpsuit. Dr. Martens boots; belt from Barbara Flood??™s Closet.
3) San & Soni??™s belted cotton, linen and ramie jumpsuit. Eric Javits hat; vintage boots.
Photo By: Kyle Ericksen
1) Nicole Miller Collection??™s cotton and elastane jumpsuit. Frye boots; belt from Barbara Flood??™s Closet.
2) Halston??™s metallic polyester and viscose jumpsuit. Frye boots; Ranjana Khan necklace; Badgley Mischka cuff.
3) Rachel Roy New York??™s polyester matte crepe jumpsuit. Vintage boots.
Steven Madden Inks Deal for Olsenboye
A shoe by Olsenboye. Photo by Courtesy Photo
Distributed exclusively at J.C. Penney Co. Inc., Olsenboye targets the junior market and offers denim, bottoms, tops, dresses, skirts, shorts, jackets, handbags and shoes retailing from $20 to $50. Olsenboye accessories will be available in select Penney??™s stores and on jcp.com starting for the holiday season, with a full launch set for spring.
???We believe that Olsenboye will be an excellent addition to our growing portfolio of footwear and accessories brands,??? said Edward Rosenfeld, chairman and chief executive officer of Madden.
Shoe styles by Olsenboye include colorful suede flats and casual canvas sneakers. Handbags come in slouched shapes as well as smaller bucket bags and feature acid wash and plaid prints.
In addition to Olsenboye, Steve Madden is the footwear and accessories licensee for such brands as Fabulosity, Elizabeth and James and Betsey Johnson.
Mums the Word at Bergdorfs
Bergdorf Goodman??™s third floor was transformed into Indochine on Thursday night to celebrate a new book chronicling the downtown eatery??™s 25 years in business.
Co-host Narciso Rodriguez, who??™s held several fashion week parties at the restaurant, reminisced about his favorite spot. ???Some of the best times that I??™ve had in New York have been there,??? he said. ???I opened the book and it was such nostalgia. It was so sentimental. My friends and peers, it was fabulous.???
But when asked to elaborate about any wild nights in particular, Rodriguez was unsurprisingly mum. ???They were very fun,??? he said. ???But, like everybody else, I can??™t tell you about them.???
Lance Armstrong in SoHo: Bike Night
Lance Armstrong. Photo by Scott Rudd
On Friday night, Lance Armstrong opened the new Nike-sponsored Stages exhibit at Deitch Projects in SoHo, which benefits the cyclist’s foundation. For the show, several New York-based artists created works inspired by the signature yellow hue associated with Armstrong’s LiveStrong initiative.
Atmosphere at Deitch Projects in Soho. Photo by Scott Rudd
Ed Ruscha contributed a goldenrod painting that read ???Vital to the Core??? and Tom Sachs pimped out a cruiser bike with bottles of Cuervo and called it ???Lance??™s Tequila Bike for Girls.??? It turns out the cyclist is an avid contemporary collector (or so says gallery owner Jeffrey Deitch, since Armstrong declined to talk about the show or his charity). ???He has works by a number of these artists,??? Deitch said. ???There is a parallel between what he does and what artists do, pushing themselves to the limit and surpassing themselves.???
Deitch was pleased with the magnitude of the works on display, some of which were valued at $700,000. ???There is no group more generous than artists,??? he said. ???It??™s the nature of what they do, they share their work with the public. I see this as the start of something important.???
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School Ties… MAC Taps Cyndi Lauper and Lady Gaga… Patti and Robert…
Tags: Badgley Mischka, Cyndi Lauper, Deitch Project, Dr. Marten, Ed Rusha, Edward Mapplethorpe, Eric Javits, FrostFrench, Frye, Lady Gaga, Lance Armstrong, MAC, Nicole Miller, Nike, Olsenboye, Patti Smith, Rachel Roy, Ranjana Khan, San & Soni, Steven Madden, Sue, Tom Sachs, Zero + Maria Cornejo
Stewart + Brown, the label founded by husband and wife team Karen Stewart and Howard Brown, adds organic cotton denim to their brand.
Hot fall trends include leggings, jeggings, leather (get that Alexander Wang Coco Duffel that I posted the other day…a hot hot item ladies!) pants (Helmut Lang rules!), vests, jackets and bags. Great investments that will last season after season.
Read all the WWD articles below.
–Nikki Cho Russo
Stewart + Brown Puts Eco Stamp on Denim
Denim look from Stewart + Brown. Photo by Courtesy Photo
???We felt like we needed to offer denim to round out the collection and offer more woven bottoms,??? said Stewart, who noted the line??™s assortment has traditionally been focused on cut-and-sew knits and tops.
They also believed there was an opportunity in the market for a higher-end take on denim with a socially conscious message.
???We took styling cues from [traditional] denim, but it has a more refined and sophisticated appearance,??? said Stewart. Details such as heavy contrast stitching, zippers and brass have been lifted from the traditional denim world and incorporated into more refined designs. ???We wanted to take it a little more dressed up rather than the casual perspective on denim,??? she said.
One of the keys to achieving that upscale look has been the choice of a lightweight fabric they are referring to as a ???platinum twill.??? The 7-ounce Japanese fabric is made from 100 percent organic cotton the designers had been working with over the years for other items. The fabric??™s manufacturing process allows the fiber used to pick up all the dye, which results in clean water after the dyeing process.
The line??™s denim offerings will consist of trousers, shorts, skirts, dresses and jackets. Wholesale prices will range from $82 to $138.
Stewart + Brown targets high-end women??™s specialty boutiques, and has felt the pangs of the recession as their customers struggled to survive. Many didn??™t. Stewart said that prior to the global financial crisis, the line shipped to 350 stores in the U.S. as well as to stores in Europe and Asia. Today, the line is down to 200 doors in the U.S. However, an online store launched two years ago is growing and customers did not flee entirely from the premium prices generally associated with green products.
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Hot Fall Items Emerge in Contemporary
VinTage leggings at Intermix. Photo by Courtesy Photo
From the East to the West Coast, retailers said contemporary shoppers have been on the prowl for high-quality pieces that also provide great value. While they are pickier than ever about what they choose to spend their money on, they aren??™t exactly price-sensitive: If they have to have it, they will buy it.
At Saks Fifth Avenue, fashion market director Colleen Sherin said overall she is pleased with fall sales so far, with some of the highest-priced items on the floor selling out quickly. Sherin said this season at Saks, buyers were choosier than ever about their buys, which has been good for sales. Sometimes, she said, they only purchased one or two items from a particular brand. It??™s those items she is seeing sell out fast.
???The key categories have really become clear, and it??™s those multiuse items which can be dressed up or down that are really doing well,??? she said. ???Leggings are selling quickly and vests are selling really well, whether they are embellished, are made of fur, leather.??¦They are seen as a layering piece, almost like an accessory.???
Alexander Wang RTW Fall 09. Photo by Courtesy Photo
Leather items, Sherin said, are performing well across the board, which she said has a lot to do with the value and longevity factor.
???Leather is seen as an investment; it only gets better with age,??? she said. ???And at $295 to $1,900 retail for these items, we haven??™t seen much price resistance.???
Sherin said Saks is also noticing a great deal of cross shopping, with more traditional designer customers heading to the contemporary floor to buy some of the higher-end lines there. She noted brands like Elizabeth and James, Helmut Lang and Rag & Bone are top performers, while casual items from Joie have been selling as well.
???Casual shirts, cargo pants??¦it??™s those effortless, easy pieces which have also been amazing,??? she said.
Sari Sloane, fashion merchandiser and director at Intermix, said shoppers have begun gravitating toward easy-to-layer separates ??” denim, knits and leather in particular.
Elizabeth & James Blazer. Photo by Courtesy Photo
???The shopper wants value for her dollar, but she also wants to update her wardrobe,??? she said. ???So [we] offer high-low price points so they will spend more for an investment piece that can carry through seasons, as well as with some pieces that are more trend-oriented.???
Like Saks, Sloane said Intermix is doing well with Helmut Lang leggings and Rag & Bone jackets.
???Leggings and leather pants and leather jackets are doing well because they can be dressed up or down and fall into trend categories but are also transitional pieces,??? she said. ???Almost every collection has offered variations on them. Also, we really edit the collections we buy to ensure that we get a very special assortment and create exclusive collaborations with our designers. This way, the consumer can find items with Intermix that are not available anywhere else.???
At Canadian retailer Holt Renfrew, fashion director Barbara Atkin said the store is seeing strong demand in the advanced contemporary area, with customers buying heavily into brands like Elizabeth and James, Helmut Lang, Alexander Wang and Kimberly Ovitz.
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Fashion’s Night Out to Be Repeated in 2010
Today, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Vogue magazine, the Council of Fashion Designers of America and NYC & Co. will unveil the return of the event on Sept. 9 ??” and the plan is to make the second one bigger and better than the first.
???The numbers are in, and it??™s clear that Fashion??™s Night Out was a tremendous success,??? Bloomberg said. ???Thousands of New Yorkers attended the events in all five boroughs, supporting the city??™s retail and fashion industries, and helping a worthwhile cause. It??™s sure to be an even bigger event in 2010.???
The first event, which took place Sept. 10, was widely considered a success. In New York alone, more than 700 retailers remained open until 11 p.m., and designers planned special personal appearances or events, with various spots around the city turning into major block parties.
???We were absolutely bowled over by the response to Fashion??™s Night Out,??? said Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour. ???It was only 15 minutes after the event began, and we were getting reports about lines around the block at stores throughout the city. It was wonderful to see people embrace this initiative, and we are thrilled that they wish it to return.???
CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg added, ???To have designers in stores to celebrate and start a shopping season is the best idea for everybody. It creates excitement and lots of business.???
According to an independent study by ShopperTrak, foot traffic in stores jumped by 50 percent that night. Meanwhile, NYC & Co., the marketing, tourism and partnerships organization of the city, conducted a survey of 1,300 shoppers and concluded that 75 percent of them bought something that night. The survey also found two-thirds of those consumers visited stores they have never been to before, and 61 percent ventured out of their comfort zones, going to neighborhoods outside of their work and living areas.
???I think that when the partners planned the first one, it was pretty clear that it was going to be successful, but until we hit the streets that night, I don??™t think we knew the extent of the success,??? CFDA executive director Steven Kolb said. ???As it went into the nights and days after, during fashion week, we talked to all the participants, and there wasn??™t one person who didn??™t immediately ask when we were going to do this again.???
In the weeks since Fashion??™s Night Out, top retailers have been meeting with the mayor and city officials, seeking a repeat of the event and trying to devise strategies to spur shopping and tourism in the city year-round. Specifically for Fashion??™s Night Out, some retailers are pressing to make Sept. 9 free of sales tax. There is also a proposal to stage a fashion show for consumers at Lincoln Center, where New York Fashion Week will be held for the spring 2011 designer collections for the first time, instead of at Bryant Park. The show would promote merchandise in the stores, not the next season??™s.
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Men’s Sets the Pace for Prada in Asia
The Prada flagship in Singapore??™s Ion Orchard mall.
???Asia has been fantastic,??? Suhl said. ???It has offset some of the softer markets.???
Asia was Prada??™s largest business in the first half of 2009, representing 25 percent of global sales, and according to a recent study by Bain, the region is set to grow 10 percent this year.
Prada on Wednesday unveiled a new 13,000-square-foot unit in Singapore??™s Ion Orchard mall, its largest flagship in Asia-Pacific to date. The company plans five more stores in the region before the end of the year for a total of 17 new units in 2009.
Suhl explained Prada has seen very strong comps across the region, with men??™s wear, which accounts for 30 percent of global Prada sales and more than 30 percent in Asia, leading the way.
???We have been seeing some very positive trends in men??™s wear, and overall much more positive trends than women??™s globally,??? Suhl said.
China has been ???remarkable,??? while South Korea, which is Prada??™s fastest-growing market in Asia year-to-date, has done ???extremely well??? for men and women, he added.
Prada is also looking at new territories such as Mongolia, although ???it??™s still very nascent,??? Suhl said, adding that second-tier cities in China like Xi??™An would remain the focus for the time being. ???Xi??™An is a city of eight million people, but by Chinese standards, it??™s almost like a village. The sales we are generating there in a relatively small store are comparable to key European cities,??? he said.
Even markets like Australia are starting to show big numbers, according to Suhl.
To further penetrate the market, Prada, which also operates the Miu Miu, Car Shoe and Church??™s brands, plans to open its first Car Shoe retail footwear store next year in Hong Kong??™s Elements Mall and in Singapore??™s Ion Orchard. Meanwhile, Church??™s, which already counts three stores in Hong Kong, will also open a store in Ion Orchard.
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Val’s Pals at VBH Boutique
Valentino & Gwyneth Paltrow. Photo by Steve Eichner
Valentino may have retired two years ago, but one wouldn??™t know it from the press whirlwind he??™s been on the last few months. Case in point: the VBH boutique on Tuesday night, where the designer joined Giancarlo Giammetti and Gwyneth Paltrow for a DVD signing of ???Valentino: The Last Emperor,??? Matt Tyrnauer??™s hit documentary about Valentino??™s last year in the fashion business. Alek Wek, Harley Viera-Newton, Gigi Mortimer and Molly Sims were on hand for the fete, from which proceeds benefitted The Robin Hood Foundation.
Paltrow didn??™t seem ready to brave the cameras for a full-blown feature on her life. ???I don??™t think I would be an interesting enough subject,??? said the actress. ???There would be a lot of school runs, a lot of cooking, a lot of talking on the phone, a lot of e-mailing. Not six dogs and ski chalets, sadly,??? she said, referencing some of the aspects of Valentino??™s life showcased in the film.
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Appreciating Lady Gaga… Prince Charles Visiting Burberry…
Lady Gaga Photo By Dominique Maitre
CHARLES??™ CHECK: Burberry??™s newly minted global headquarters in London will get the royal seal of approval this week. Today, Prince Charles is set to make a visit to Horseferry House, the company??™s 160,000-square-foot base near London??™s River Thames, to officially open the sleek building. Angela Ahrendts, Burberry??™s chief executive officer, and Christopher Bailey, the label??™s creative director, will greet the prince, who will then view Burberry??™s archives and meet members of the company??™s 850 staff ??” who have been based at the building since January ??” during a tour of Burberry??™s design studio and offices. And since Burberry has held one of the Prince of Wales??™ royal warrants since 1990, it??™s likely Charles will be well enough acquainted with the 153-year-old label to happily talk trench coats with Ahrendts and Bailey.
Georgina Chapman, Mischa Barton and Stephen Webster at Garrard. Photo by MAX RAPP/ PatrickMcMullan.com
BAUBLES AND BUBBLY: Fine jewelry design was feted all over Manhattan on Tuesday night. Uptown, Annie Churchill, Kara Ross and Gilles Mendel came to congratulate Ward andNico Landrigan, the father-son owners of Verdura, on the firm??™s 70th anniversary. Meanwhile, it was a family affair for Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman at the Garrard salon in SoHo. Chapman??™s mother, Caroline Wonfor, brother Edward (who is president of Marchesa), mother-in-law Miriam Weinstein and husband Harvey Weinstein were in attendance to celebrate her collaboration with Garrard creative director Stephen Webster on a capsule collection for the English jewelry firm. ???They better be here if they want to stay family,??? said Chapman, outfitted in a royal blue number from her collection, as well as her first fine jewelry designs. Nonrelatives of Chapman??™s included Helena Christensen, Becki Newton, Mischa Barton and Tinsley Mortimer, who had a camera crew in tow filming her new reality show.
OPENING PAIR: The collaborations at Opening Ceremony continue apace: the latest is with shoe designer Robert Clergerie, who has taken his classic espadrille style (which he introduced in 1990) and created four exclusive designs for the retailer to debut in late February. The designs, featuring fabrics including indigo-dyed linen, classic polkadots on linen, and a special hand-painted floral print, will retail for $460 at the store.
MUMMY DEAREST: Tamara Mellon will take the stand in a Channel Islands courtroom next month as part of a 6 million pound, or $9.5 million, lawsuit against her mother, Ann Yeardye. Mellon is suing her mother for breach of contract in the sale of Jimmy Choo to Lion Capital in 2004. A source close to Mellon said Yeardye also planned to give evidence at the civil hearing, which is scheduled for mid-November at the Royal Court of Jersey, Channel Islands. Meanwhile, a similar lawsuit in Los Angeles that Mellon filed in January 2008 has been dropped due to jurisdiction issues. Mellon and Yeardye held stakes in Jimmy Choo through family trusts and, at the time of the sale to Lion Capital, money was paid to the family in cash and stock of the new owner. Mother and daughter reached an agreement partly verbally and partly in writing that Yeardye would receive her share in cash only, and Mellon would take her share solely in stock.
The lawsuit alleges Yeardye mistakenly received some of the stock that was supposed to go to Mellon, and refused to return it when the error was discovered. The 4 million pounds, or $6.3 million, in disputed stock was later liquidated after Jimmy Choo was sold once again in 2007, and is sitting in a frozen bank account. In 2004, Lion Capital acquired a majority stake in Jimmy Choo in a deal that valued the company at 101 million pounds, or $187 million, at the time of sale. In 2007, Lion Capital sold Jimmy Choo to TowerBrook Capital Partners LP in a deal valuing the London-based accessories company at 185 million pounds, or $364.5 million, at the time of sale.
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Tags: Alexander Wang, Burberry, Elizabeth James, Fashion's Night Out, Garrard, Georgina Chapman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jimmy Choo, Lady Gaga, Prada, Stewart + Brown, Tamara Mellon, Valentino, VinTage, WWD