Sunday, December 28, 2008

#262 Food, food and more food

Ahhh Paris. The backdrop of a thousand food lovers' fantasies. I'd never go so far as to call myself a foodie but the lure of the bread, the butter and the cheese has already made an impact on my waistline, and I've only been here five days. So far most of my meals have consisted of ham and cheese sandwiches - I'm easily pleased - but two days ago we made a day-trek to Le Marais to check out the vintage stores. While there we decided to sample the local Jewish fare; felafels, pita and hummus.

After a fifteen minute standing wait we finally got a table at Chez Marianne; rumoured to sell the best felafels in the area. For 26 euros we ordered a selection of 10 elements (hummus, felafels, olives, mushrooms, pastrami, pita etc).

Desert came in the form of baklava and specialty Jewish donuts. Well I assume that's what they were, their shape was donutesque and they were covered in icing sugar.

After lunch we met up with our friend, Zambesi Man designer and fellow New Zealander Dayne Johnston. He's here for an extended holiday but will also be attending the Mode a Paris menswear shows at the end of January. He buys the European imported menswear labels stocked at Zambesi. Dayne took us to a tea house named Le Loir dans la Theiere, said to be Elisabeth Findlay's favourite and regular haunt when she comes to Paris.

Despite receiving abysmal service from the waiter, who bore a striking resemblance to Toby Jones, (he told Jordan she'd have to leave if she didn't want to order anything despite the other three people at the table ordering), the cakes were too much of a temptation to let the bad service spoil our visit. And after all this is Paris; the home of the snobby server.

I ordered a hot chocolate which tasted as if they'd melted a block of the good stuff and added milk; Jordan got green tea served in a quaint silver pot; Dayne ordered a bottle of coke and a slice of the spicy nut cake - the slice turned out to be about the size of a small loaf of bread; but Anouk's order blew us all out of the water. Hers was one serving of the citron tart, topped with a monumental tower of meringue. But towering doesn't do this cake justice. I can't even think of a word to describe how gargantuan that piece of cake was. I've never seen anything like it in my whole life.

Fifteen minutes later and all four of us still hadn't managed to put a dent in it. Our simple request for a doggy bag was met with a stern shake of the head, a 'mais non!' and a sneer of disgust from our waiter. Ah well. Can't say we didn't try.

These cute stuffed toys were hanging by our table.

On the way home this petit boulangerie's colourful marshmallows called our name. We couldn't help but help ourselves.

#261 The meaning of the word awkward

The door.

I'm in Paris right now staying with my girlfriend Jordan and her sister Anouk at their grandparents' house. I've been here three days. The grandparents (Pierre and Jacqueline) don't speak much English and I don't speak much French but we've been getting by with Jordan and Anouk's patient translations. When you don't speak the same language the getting-to-know-you stage lasts a lot longer than normal. Most communication is limited to bonjours and smiles and oui ouis.

Until this afternoon.

The day had started like most others but with one exception. We'd all gotten up and eaten breakfast together but when it came to going out, Anouk decided she wasn't going to be ready in time to come with us to meet our friend Dayne at Etienne Marcel station at 12:30. All she was interested in doing was going to find a new pair of sneakers and according to her there were no sneaker stores near where we were going. Mistake number one.

Jordan and I caught the metro to Etienne Marcel to meet our friend. Walking out of the station, the first store we saw was a sneaker shop. Turns out we'd landed smack bang in the middle of Paris' sneaker-freaker quarter. We called Anouk to tell her to come meet us there but she said that she was going out with the grandparents instead.

Jordan, Dayne and I walked around for an hour and a half checking out the shops in the area. Today was colder than usual and Jordan hadn't worn enough warm clothing so she wanted to go home. Mistake number two.

On the way home in the metro Jordan gasped. She remembered she'd forgotten her house keys. Mistake number three. I reassured her that it would be fine. If only I'd known.

We arrived home to find that Anouk and the grandparents were still out. On the fiftieth or so time we called their cellphone we heard a faint ringing coming from inside the apartment. Oh joy. We laid our bags and our cold bodies on the ground and waited. Half an hour later, a bit bored, we played some games. Half an hour after that we took photos of each other. The waiting grew tiresome. I decided to pick the lock - a special security lock opened only with a special security key with hundreds of little indentations that all have to line up. Mistake number four. Let's call that one the mother of all mistakes.

The offender and the offending penalty ticket, mere moments before the offense was committed.

Jordan had no bobby pins or metallic objects but I had a cardboard metro ticket. And not just any cardboard metro ticket, no, the 25 euro penalty ticket I'd received after losing my normal metro ticket the other day. That'll do the trick, I thought! Mistake number five - the grandfather of all mistakes. I folded the ticket into a thin tube and went to work. After tinkering for a few minutes I gave up and pulled the ticket out. Only two thirds emerged. Whoops.

We quickly ran down to the supermarket to pick up some needles and safety pins to pull out the broken ticket. I didn't manage to get it out of the lock but I did succeed in pushing it in a few millimetres deeper. Mistake number six. We decided not to say anything - the key would probably still work, right?

Ten minutes later Anouk, Jacqueline and Pierre came home. Jacqueline went to the door. "Merde!" Her key didn't work. Pierre went to have a try. "Merde merde!!!" His didn't either. At this point Jordan broke down - and broke our bond. She said something. The bonjours, the smiles, the oui ouis were quickly replaced by merdes, frowns, non nons and garcon stupid!! (Stupid boy.) Anouk piped in with a series of helpful suggestions: "why didn't you wait a little bit longer and we would have come home? You could have gone out again then come back home and we would have been here. Why didn't you just go downstairs and hang out at the cafe?" Don't you just love little sisters?

After trying for an hour to get the cardboard out, Pierre gave up and called a locksmith. Right about now I was feeling about as awesome as a pork enthusiast in a synagogue. The grandparents had been standing in the freezing hallway for far too long, everyone was speaking French and there was nothing I could do to help, so I did what any other red-blooded male would do in the same situation: sulked.

An hour later the locksmith arrived. After a couple of minutes of work he succeeded in opening the door. Pierre and I fought long and hard about who would pay but my youth and determination won out in the end.

New Year's resolution number one: think before I act.

As for the getting-to-know-you process, I'd say Pierre and Jacqueline are probably wishing they didn't have to right now. Good thing I've got another five weeks of staying at their house to prove them otherwise.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

#260 Merry Christmas from sunny (but freezing) gay Paris!

Knock Knock
(Who's there?)
Interrupting Santa Clause
(Interrupting San-)

Merrry Christmas everyone! It's been an eventful (and sometimes turbulent) year, but we've made it through and it's all plain sailing from here. From humble beginnings in April raving about altruistic animals and flat tops, (with the support of a few key people) Isaac Likes has grown into what it is today.

I hope I've managed to capture your interest with some interesting interviews, a few juicy breaking news stories, and a couple of little film reviews thrown in along the way. Isaac Likes has certainly captured my interest - for better or worse it now takes up a large chunk of my everyday life. And when I say large I mean it like Jared's pants BEFORE he got on the Subway diet.

So thank you to all my loyal readers, my one-time readers, my commenters, tippers, critics, advisers and cautioners. Keep reading, keep commenting, keep tipping, critiquing, advising and cautioning. I'm going to keep writing. 

You can't really see from the photograph above but I'm in Paris right now staying with my beautiful girlfriend Jordan (who has put a lot of work into Isaac Likes too), her sister Anouk and her wonderful grandparents Pierre and Jacqueline. It's my first winterous Christmas and I'm dreaming of a white one - we'll see what tomorrow brings.

I'm in Europe for the next 6 weeks so I'll be blogging remotely, if there's anything going on in New Zealand or anywhere else that I should know about don't hesitate to email me at Once again Merry Christmas,  Happy Khanukkah, Happy New Year and don't do anything I wouldn't do.


P.S. Special thanks go to my fellow bloggers Frockwriter and Bryanboy (bloggers of the world unite!); my parents Grant and Jenny and sister Rebeccah; Sheida and Nic Hancock, John Randerson, Murray and Anna, Ross and Dee, Karen and Mikhail, Brent and Pat and of course Jordan.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

#259 I'm leaving on an avion à réaction! (That's a jet plane for you non-French speakers)

It's 12:20am, I'm sitting at Auckland International Airport, my flight's been delayed 2 hours, but who cares!? Not me... I'm on my way to Paris via Shanghai and Frankfurt!

Merry Christmas all you beautiful people, happy summer holidays to all my Southern Hemispherers, I'm goin' to the snow!

Next stop China.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

#258 A few words with Jaeha's boy wonder Alex Kim

2008 has been a stellar year for Jaeha designer Alex Kim. After debuting to rave reviews at last year's New Zealand Fashion Week (and being espoused as having produced "one of the most stellar newcomer collections ever seen on the fashion week runways" by Stacy Gregg), the young designer wowed audiences again with his offsite show this year, making Bryan Boy's, NO. Magazine's and Isaac Likes's top show lists. But Kim went one step further, securing himself a spot in the top ten of the prestigious international Mango Fashion Awards, to be judged in April 09 by Karl Lagerfeld. And now the fun-loving Korean born Kiwi has a string of international houses chasing after him for a piece of the action.

On Friday I sat down with Kim for a chat about how the year has been for him, the pressures of being labelled the 'next big thing' and what he'll do with the money if (and this blogger hopes when) he wins.

Tell me what 2008 has been like for you?
It's been amazing, but every year is different, so it seems like every year I'm growing up and a lot of exciting things are happening. Since I started my own label two years ago, perhaps because I started my label when I just graduated, it was nonstop, you know, keep on going keep on going, and this year finally I think I've grown up enough that I can actually sit down and think about what I'm going to do. It's been good, it's been really good.

At what point did you think to yourself in the last year, hey, from what everyone's saying, I'm the next big thing, I'm becoming the next young It boy designer?
I don't know, because when it comes to It boys and It girls, I thought it was just one of those press titles. Pretty much when I first heard it was after my fashion show last year and the press went out and it was like 'It something', you know, 'It boy', and I was like, okay, maybe that's how they title it. With the publicity there's a lot of pressure, there's more pressure, more to worry about.

So did you feel with the show you did at this year's fashion week that there was a hell of a lot of pressure for you to deliver or go further than what you did last year?
Yeah definitely, just because that was my second time, so pretty much there was a lot of pressure. But actually when I first designed the collection I was aware of the pressure, but then once I got into it I didn't really care, I just did my own thing. Then after I was like, 'ohhh okay let's wait for it [press reaction]', but I'm just happy that what I did was what I did. But always every collection to me is like 'I should have done that', there's always self analysing going on, I'm always not happy with what I did but one day I'll get there.

How difficult is it for you to operate out of New Zealand?
I don't know I haven't done it [left NZ] yet, but I if I do move, New Zealand has to be the anchor, it's where I started, I know the buyers here, I've got good relationships going on, but I guess if I took the business elsewhere it would be quite a challenge but also I want to have a presence here, to keep it going, keep that relationship going, because I'll always be a New Zealand designer. Just like Josh Goot, you know how he works in New York but he's still an Australian designer. I think the relationship I have with New Zealand helps me, it's great.

Do you find it difficult because the New Zealand market is quite conservative?
It's conservative but it's also very niche for what I do as well, there's only so many stores that I can be stocked in and especially in times like this, with the recession, not a lot of people can afford to go into boutiques. It's not like there are a lot of boutiques like that in New Zealand. It's quite hard to survive perhaps, so that's why I think if you're doing this kind of niche you have to go broad, like Australia.

Do you ever feel like you sacrifice making a lot of money - you could be designing more commercial product but you are doing a really high end, really niche product as you say, so do you feel like you sacrifice making money by expanding your creativity in the way you do?
You can think in that way too but it's more like how do you say - designer's stubbornness. Someone told me fashion shows are for ego and product is for survival. And I think it's an ego thing as well, I don't know what it is, but because I started my label so early, I didn't really care about it at the time. Like, this is what I'm gonna do, I may as well do it now while I'm young and keep on doing it. And then I learnt about business and I have to pay people and then we had to alter a few things, if you look at the collection 20% will be out there stuff that no one can wear but it's branding, and half of it will be saleable stuff, just so you can balance it, so you can learn it I guess. But yeah I do feel like if I did two years of designing saleable commercial - but still gritty - clothes, yeah I could have made money, but who knows? I'm just following my heart, I'm just doing what I wanna do. I may as well do it now before I get really serious, or find a part of myself that's like 'yeah let's get money on the table', business orientated!

And by following your heart look at where's it's got you - you were shortlisted in the top ten for the Mango Fashion Awards. So tell me about that.
It happened mid this year, it was pretty much working towards our fashion show for winter 09, and you know every young designer struggles for money, so I was like that's it, I'm going to research, I'm going to Google it, I'm going to do something about it. And then I wanted to enter these international competitions bacause - I'm just saying it - New Zealand doesn't have any. We used to have iD Dunedin, and you know Deutz [Young Designer Awards] have gone too, and so I thought if I was going to do it, I may as well do the biggest, who cares, let's just do it. So I researched it on Google, and in prize money and the scale of the event, the top one, the best one in the world was called the Mango Fashion Awards. And I'd heard about Mango but I hadn't heard about the competition, so I researched last year's one, and I saw who the judge was for last year [John Galliano, Hedi Slimane], and I was like okay I'm going to do it, and I looked at the time, the deadline to send off my portfolio to them, and it was literally next week. And I was like oohh it takes about five days to get there, so I was like okay, let's just do it. So I just drew the collection, but I did the ten outfits in a way that the Mango client can see it and wear it, so it's much more wearable. It was capsule, taken from my Winter 09, cos that's what I was working on, but tighter and more fluid, softer draping but more complex as well. So I sent away my folios, all the work that I did and then I had to wait.

So how did they contact you?
There was a specific time that they said they were going to put the finalists on the website, so I was always waiting for that time, but they never did it, so I was like, oh gay. And then I was having a shower one day and someone knocked on the door and said 'hey, if your name's on the website, does that mean you're in?' And I was like 'oh yeah yeah yeah why?' And they were like 'does that mean you have to go to Barcelona?' And I was like 'yeah I know, crazy isn't it'. And he was like, 'oh'. And I'm looking at him and I'm like 'shit... Am I on it?' And he was like 'mmhmm!'And I'm like 'no you don't even lie,' I was like 'if you're lying about that...' And I was all wet and I jumped out and I was just like 'ahhhhhhhhh!' That was in the morning after the day they said they were going to announce it.

Wow. So you're flying to Barcelona in April?
Yeah, end of April, beginning of May, but we don't have the exact dates yet.

And you'll do a show? Do you have to get all the garments made yourself or do you send off your sketches and they do it over there?
Oh no, we send the sketches but we make them ourselves. We can change it - oh it needs to be changed - so many times, we analyse every one so many times, everyday, drawings are on the wall, and we think let's change that, let's make it more tighter - tighter, tighter, tighter! The sketches we sent were outfits, but we have to make it here.

And the judges are Karl Lagerfeld and...?
Yeah I know the judges are Karl Lagerfeld, and last year's winner as well.

So you've gotten quite a lot international attention then, and there've been a few rumours flying around that you might be getting picked up by a big house in Paris?
Yes, there were a couple [who contacted him] through Mango, they saw the press releases that have been going out in Europe countries about Mango and who the finalists are and they happened to check my website and they liked what they saw, for them it was new, so yeah there are possibilities, but however it's not...

So you can't say who it is yet?
Not yet.

But they want to meet you?
Yes, next year. They left it up to me to come anytime. It's kind of difficult at this time because I've got so many things happening - starting next year from January, production and sampling for my summer/spring then we've got Barcelona stuff as well.

How long would you have to go over to Paris for?
A month.

So you'd be working in the studio with them?
Yeah, so more like sussing it out. I don't speak French, I went to Paris when I was what, 11 or 12? And I didn't even know anything, and now it would be totally different as well. And it would be scary as well because I don't even know anyone there, I have no friends, yeah, it'll be a risk.

But if it paid off it could pay off big time!
Yeah definitely, definitely.

So if you win Mango, it's what NZD$600,000? What will you do with that money if you win? How do you fund your label now?
There used to be a backer when it started, but I've been doing my own thing since March 2008. If I do get it, no doubt that I have to invest into my business, but also see how it goes, maybe I should be wise about it.

Or maybe you could just blow it on one massive show at Paris Fashion Week...
Oh yeah, or just buy Lottos, or just buy 600,000 scratchies... No only kidding, but you know what I mean, no doubt I'd spend the money in my business, and it'd be amazing just because, as a designer you always see amazing fabrics and trims and stuff like that. It's exciting, it'd be good, it'd all about Jaeha label, maybe a few investments perhaps? But seriously I don't worry about that I'm just thinking, just finish it and go there, and I'm so excited about going to Barcelona and meet those designers and get to know them, that would be an amazing connection to have.

Let's say you won...

You got the job at the Paris house...

Could you possibly keep your label? Like John Galliano does Dior and then Galliano as well?
Well, I'd really want to, but also I think reality wise, it would have to be something I'd say in the contract - I'm doing your label but however I'm going to take two days or something off to do my own label. But it's not going to be like bang! I do big Jaeha label, I'd still do small, and I'd probably do a capsule range. Summer/spring 09/10 we're launching is a really small collection, it's about 20 outfits, and the winter collection was 65. With me I design something and even if I give myself guidelines of like, I'm going to do so many tops, when I'm designing it I get into the mode 'oh my God I like that, but I like that too!' And I just make these excuses like 'that's gonna sell, and that will sell but it's branding, therefore we have to have all of them!' So pretty much I know when to stop but I do what I wanna do at the moment.

#257 Keith Matheson's fire - pics and video

As Isaac Likes mentioned on Tuesday, Keith Matheson will shut down their Christchurch store on 10 January 09 and their Wellington store one week later due to a devastating fire that destroyed the company's Parnell based warehouse in October. The photos above were sent to me yesterday by the long running NZ clothing company's media contact Leigh Matheson, and clearly show the damage caused by the fire.

In a letter sent out to the media late last night, Keith Matheson himself states,

"On the 17th of October we suffered a devastating fire at our Head Office in Parnell, Auckland. We are saddened to advise that following this disastrous event, a difficult decision has been made to close our Wellington and Christchurch stores."

An internet search has uncovered the above video, taken by a bystander at the Keith Matheson fire, showing fire fighters battling the blaze.

Keith Matheson's two Auckland stores will continue to operate as normal.

Friday, December 19, 2008

#256 Snapshots from Paris by Jordan Rondel

Today we met up with our lovely friend Clare. She's a fellow New Zealander who has been working and studying in Paris for the past year. She took us to Laduree, a beautiful and decadent old restaurant on the Champs Elysees. After a surprisingly brief wait, we were seated in front of an array of every kind of treat imaginable. I ordered a honey and rose petal flavoured tea called The Marie Antoinette. The other two ordered hot chocolates, but we're talking 70% real melted chocolate and 30% milk. We also got a plate of mini macaroons. Since I'm slightly obsessed I wanted every flavour, but being almost $5 for one, I picked just 4 - chocolate, caramel with fine salt, orange blossom and blackcurrant violet.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

#255 A few words with NZNTM judge Colin Mathura-Jeffree

62 Models

It's all happening. The New Zealand's Next Top Model machine is in full motion rolling from town to town in search of contestants to compete in the reality TV show.

I gave judge Colin Mathura-Jeffree a call to see how the auditions are going so far. A little background on Mathura-Jeffree: the first time I ever met the sometimes model/sometimes Bollywood star was at a charity show held in Auckland four of five years ago. I was working for Little Brother at the time and had the distinct pleasure of dressing him for the show. The brief for the Little Brother models was simple – walk strong, walk tall, walk serious. But this was no ordinary catwalk. Interspersed along the runway were thin support columns. Poles if you will. Walking down the runway the grin never left Mathura-Jeffrees' face, and when he paused at the end to pose, he grabbed the nearest pole and danced. Yes, pole danced. The crowd went wild.

I reminded him of this while on the phone today. His reply? "I remember that, twirling around the pole, and I remember getting the biggest applause!"

What have the girls been like so far?
They've been fantastic I've loved it. Each area has had a different type of girl, whether it's been very fashion forward, good teeth, green eyes today, it's been amazing.

How many areas have you hit so far?
Four towns, they've been fantastic. Turn out's been great, obviously I could always ask for more more more, but I've been really happy with the turn out. Lots of people are really enthusiastic to be there, obviously you get the models sprinkled in, pushed in by other people that have the realisation that their friend or their sister can be a model, then you have the ones who aren't (laughs)!

Are you finding it difficult to let them down gently, the ones who you think are not up to the standard?
No, the best way in this industry is to be straight forward. But we've been offering advice as well. Some people have other directions, like 'I wanna be a singer', or 'I wannna work in advertising', or 'I wanna work in movies', and they're lookng at this as a way in. There've been a few who absolutely live the dream of wanting to be a model and they're a farm girl, a cow milker.

Have you had any incidents like in American Idol, with shocking auditions?
There've been a few comical things that have happened, obviously we highly respect the people who come forward and we value their time, but there have been some hilarious moments. Mispronounced names of designers and models, 'Treelis Cooper', and 'Gazalee is my favourite model'.

So do you have a set of questions you ask them all?
We question them about them. We just chat to them about themselves, it's not about them reflecting on what they'd assume we want, we have to know who they are as a person.

So you're looking for personality as well as looks?
Personality is a very strong aspect of being a model.

Have their been any girls that Andi (Andrea Plowright, head booker at 62 Models) as a booker has looked at and thought 'damn I would sign that girl straight away'?
I think that all of us collectively have looked at that girl that way and thought 'yes yes yes', or 'she has no idea of her potential'. And sometimes we have to really shake them up with that realisation - 'oh my god she doesn't actually realise that she's beautiful'. It's just so interesting, it's quite psychological.

Between the judges, who's the good cop and who's the bad cop?
Well Chris [Sisarich, photographer/model] is very diplomatic, I think Andi and I toss between bad and badder, bad cop and terrorist (laughs)! No, it's good, it's good. And you know it's been such a wonderful experience, and I absolutely love the South Island, I want to bring a bunch of friends down there and invade.

You should settle down there!
Well I wouldn't settle here, but I'd leave bits and pieces (laughs).

What are the prizes for the girl who wins?
Everyone's asking what are the prizes for the girl that wins, but the most important prize that we could ever offer anyone is an established modelling career, not only locally but internationally, and I actually get the idea that we're going to get that. We're going to get a Kiwi girl who's going to kick ass internationally.

Cool, that'd be good to see!
You can quote me on that Isaac.

I'm going to quote you on all of this Colin.
Oh yeaaaah.

Is there a round two of auditions?
Yes there will be a round two. We're going to go over the tapes. There's a procedure in place, TV3 arranged all of that, it's very well put together, we're in good hands...strong hands.

How many are you shortlisting in this process right now?
I'm not sure of the numbers at all at the moment, we're just going through and grabbing the potential diamonds in the rough.

You know that New Zealanders are known to not be the most confident people on earth, do you think that's discouraging some girls who could potentially be next top models to come out and audition?
Oh of course, we know that, it's unfortunate if the right people aren't around them to say 'absolutely you can do this', a lot of great girls came in saying 'my friends forced me to do this'.

Do you find in New Zealand as well that there are people who are hugely confident who shouldn't necessarily be so confident?
No no no. People should be confident. Confidence goes a long way. If you don't ask, you're last. And that's it. If people can't handle that, that's their issue and not yours. We've been reminding a few models that they must stand up and be noticed and put their hands up if they want things. I find that incredibly boring when people are so intimidated by confident people, then there's a whole lot of back biting and you confront them and they wet themselves. Which I kind of like.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

#254 Snaphots from Paris by Jordan Rondel

Another day in Paris, another adventure. Today my sister and I decided to discover our inner Jews in the quirky, intricate little streets of Le Marais. Being Paris' Jewish quarter Le Marais is filled with Stars of David and all around men wear yalmulkas.

Le Marais has always been one of my favourite areas in Paris for its cute boutiques. We found a really great vintage store selling beautiful fur coats for no more than 40 euro and there was an enormous box of every colour, pattern and style of silk scarf, for just 1 euro each.

I love how coming up to Christmas, Parisians make such an effort to embellish the city with lights and other decorations. In Les Marais every building and telegraph line is adorned with little fairy lights. The festive decorations reminded me that Christmas is just around the corner so I need to get onto my shopping!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

#253 NZ designers feel the pinch of the recession

Getty Images

It's been a savage few weeks for New Zealand's design and fashion industries. First, on this blog, Murray Crane announced Little Brother's closure and subsequent distribution deal with Barkers. The very next day, news of Eon Design Centre's receivership was made public. Then last Tuesday, Isaac Likes revealed that ACP will be shutting down Runway Reporter, "New Zealand's online home of Fashion Quarterly".

It didn't end there. On Friday, in a press release sent out by PR agency Mint Condition to the fashion media, Adrian Hailwood (pictured above) announced that after seven years in retail he would be shutting down his eponymous Karangahape Rd store. "It’s not been a hard decision," Hailwood said, "retailing from this location in this market is simply not sustainable. To continue to do what I love doing I need to focus on keeping ahead of the current climate." The store will close in February 2009, and Hailwood will not be delivering his Winter 09 collection to stores. The label will however continue to run and trade online. Purchases can be made here.

But wait, there's more.

Yesterday Isaac Likes heard rumours that Keith Matheson would be shutting down all its stores on 10 January 2009. A phone call this morning to Leigh Matheson, Media Contact for Keith Matheson, proved that rumour to be incorrect. Almost. According to Matheson, the Keith Matheson store in Christchurch will close down on 10 January, with the Wellington store following suit one week later. There are no plans, she said, to close down the Auckland stores.

What prompted Keith Matheson's closures? A fire of all things. According to Leigh Matheson a fire broke out in their Parnell based workroom, destroying all stock. A quick web search found no news stories whatsoever on the fire – which is not to say that it didn't happen – but intriguingly that no news service picked it up. Isaac Likes had heard nothing of it before today.

UPDATE: Since writing the above post I have learnt that the Keith Matheson fire was reported on both TV3's and TVNZ's 6pm news, but simply as a 'warehouse fire' rather than a Keith Matheson fire.

But New Zealand isn't the only country hurting. High end Australian retail chain Herringbone is struggling to stay afloat, according to this article. The company's directors are reportedly "scrambling to raise money" from friends and family in an attempt to get the business back from administrators.

Isaac Likes has a feeling that the worst is yet to come.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

#252 Snapshots from Paris by Jordan Rondel

Today was a day of shopping. We went to Le Bon Marché, a beautiful big department store in 6éme. From Balenciaga and Sergio Rossi to Chloé and Marc Jacobs, this building contains everything a girl could desire. We were in search of shoes, but in the end, feeling a bit overwhelmed, we decided it might be wise to wait for the Christmas sales. On the way back to the metro, however, we came across some cute little boutiques – I bought a pair of leather pants and some boots. We also stopped at Zara and went a bit crazy. After five hours of shopping we were more than happy to arrive home to a delicious dinner of coq au vin. And for dessert, a juicy tarte tatin!

Friday, December 12, 2008

#251 Runway Reporter to be "largely disassembled" says ACP CEO

After refusing to comment and then denying rumours that NZ fashion website Runway Reporter is shutting down, ACP CEO Paul Dykzeul has told the NZ Herald that Runway Reporter will be "largely disassembled". According to the NZ Herald article, ACP has "pulled back from its digital strategy", and will shut down its and websites from next month. No time frame has been given at this stage to Runway Reporter's impending closure. It is believed that eight to ten staff have been made redundant in the proccess, a "transition," according to ACP group publisher Debra Millar.

As for ACP's other websites, and will continue running, but both will be outsourced to ACP's "joint venture online partner" The Herald article did make it clear that all of ACP's "Trader" websites (Auto Trader etc) will continue to run as per usual.

This report comes three days after an ACP insider told Isaac Likes that Runway Reporter would be closed down in the next few weeks and that ACP is planning to cut "all" their websites. It also comes two days after Dykzeul stated that these claims were "defamatory and incorrect".

Thursday, December 11, 2008

#250 Snapshots from Paris by Jordan Rondel

Bacon Crepes anyone?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

#249 It's all fun and games on until someone loses a life screengrab

New York based, one of the fashion industry's largest and most respected model-specific websites appears to find humour in the drinking habits of the underage models it promotes. A video interview entitled The Ash & Eliza Show featuring boyfriend and girlfriend Ash Stymest and Eliza Presly appeared on the website on 8 December. In it, the young models appear to be exhausted and possibly even drugged-up – but this is of no concern to the interviewer, who repeatedly giggles at the pair's stories of going to pubs underage, getting "totally shit-faced" and fighting with bouncers.

The video interview came out just one day before the frockwriter blog announced late model Randy Johnston's cause of death: accidental heroin toxicity. Interesting to note is that both Randy Johnston's and Ash Stymest's first big jobs in the modelling world were booked by Hedi Slimane – a Dior Homme campaign and Vogues Hommes Japan cover respectively. Slimane is credited with having brought in the skinny rock 'n' roll look ubiquitous among male models today. He is also famous for choosing notorious drug addict Pete Doherty as his muse for two Dior Homme collections.

LiveJournal (Randy Johnston, shot by Hedi Slimane) (Ash Stymest, shot by Hedi Slimane)

Drug and alcohol abuse is a widespread problem among young people, and one that is certainly not specific to the fashion industry. The difference in the fashion industry however is that drug and alcohol use among underagers is accepted, even glamourised. In a LiveJournal post, a commenter named Matt who claims to have been a good friend of Randy Johnston writes:

"F*ck the modeling industry for introducing him to the nice little coke parties held up in modeling houses. You f*cking assholes need to keep in check what your EMPLOYEES are doing to keep themselves looking that slender. I really do partially blame Ford for his demise...and countless others."

It is unclear whether Johnston's mother agency Ford Models knew of his drug habit when promoting him to clients such as Dior Homme.

An extraordinary moment occurs in the interview in which Presly complains that the downside of being in New York is not being old enough to drink:

"I'm not old enough to drink over here, well, I'm only 17, but in London I can get in."

Stymest interrupts, saying:

"Yeah in London they don't ID anyone."

Presly then interjects to say:

"You can't really say this on camera."

To which the interviewer laughs and replies:

"Everyone knows in Europe it's much more relaxed."

There have been 46 comments on the interview so far, most leaning towards the negative. One commenter, calling herself katemossusx, says:

"Tell me if two American teens were droning on about how they get smashed, try to get into bars despite being underaged and droned on incessently about sweet FA, peppering every other word with “fuck” would you still laugh? Would you still think it fresh, charming, youthful??? And if those teens weren’t models, would it still be so?? They’re idiots, there’s nothing fresh, fun, charming about it, its’ just boring."

But despite comments like the one above, there are still people (including Betty the interviewer), jumping to's and the model's defense.

What kind of message is sending out to young people by extolling the virtues of a place where it's easier for underagers to get hammered? How many Randy Johnstons need to die before the fashion industry makes a concerted effort to stop exploiting young, impressionable kids? It might all seem very glamorous now, but you can bet it won't be when these same kids are choking to death in a pool of their own vomit.

#248 Runway Reporter update - ACP CEO denies shut down

ACP CEO Paul Dykzeul has refuted claims made yesterday by an ACP insider on Isaac Likes of website shut downs according to this article, calling them "defamatory and incorrect". From his brief statement it is unclear which claims he is refuting, however he has said that ACP will release a statement tomorrow. I have made several attempts to contact ACP for a statement, with no reply – as have three other media outlets:, frockwriter and Computerworld.

And, according to Computerworld, ACP has refused to comment on claims that their websites (including Runway Reporter) will be shutting down, with group publisher Debra Millar stating "It's premature to be making any announcements". Computerworld has also stated that they have spoken with two separate sources who have said that "redundancies are occurring and websites are to be closed".

In the interests of full disclosure, my source is a current ACP Media employee I have known for some time. My source approached me yesterday with the news but requested to remain nameless. I have no reason whatsoever to suspect the validity of their statement.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

#247 ACP's Runway Reporter to be shut down

Runway Reporter

This is not a good time to be in publishing.

A very reliable source has just called me with the news that the plug has been pulled on ACP Media New Zealand's "online home of Fashion Quarterly" Runway Reporter. ACP acquired the site in September 2006, a mere six months after it had been started by New Zealand's venerable fashion-reporter-turned-pony-book-author Stacy Gregg.

UPDATE: This was just emailed to me from a source within ACP Media:

"They (ACP management) told Fiona Hawtin (editor of Fashion Quarterly) yesterday afternoon and told [the rest of the staff] this morning...Runway reporter is closing very soon in the next couple of weeks. It was a financial decision, they are cutting all the acp websites...cleo, metro, taste etc 8 people were made redundant over the company. Chloe De Ridder has been made redundant and it is believed Megan Bedford will be staying on as featured ed of Fashion Quarterly."

An employment lawyer told me this morning that along with ACP, Fairfax and APN were having major problems and it looked like we could expect some more mass redundancies over the next few weeks.

UPDATE: 10/12 12:30pm I contacted ACP Media's Auckland head office at approx 10am this morning for a comment and they're yet to return my call.

#246 Snapshots from Paris by Jordan Rondel

Today I ventured out with my pretty side-kick Anouk into the depths of Paris. It was freeeezing outside (being only 2 degrees), and despite approximately 7 layers of clothing I still felt the cold – but this didn't get in the way of our mission.

We walked the lengthy Rue du Saint-Honore to deliver Isaac's accreditation letter for Fashion Week then did some shopping. Unfortunately the only things I could justify buying were some multi-coloured macaroons from a little patisserie – delicious, but no match for the Fendi shoes at Colette or the bags at Chloe.

Never mind.

Monday, December 8, 2008

#245 Isaac Likes in Pulp Magazine!

Delve into my bag in this month's issue of Pulp Magazine – you might notice that a lot of the products relate to shaving; I've been known to have something of a little obsession with the male grooming art.

And don't forget about that Burt's Bees!

Thanks Josie and Dan at Pulp Magazine!

#244 A snapshot from Paris

Alouette, gentille alouette,
Alouette, je te plumerai...

Jealous much!?

I'm counting down the days... 16 to go till I'm in Paris too!

By the way I had a debate with my best good friend Sheida yesterday, he said Paris is the City of Love, I said it's the City of Lights...

A penny for your thoughts?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

#243 Stolen Girlfriends Club win big at the DHL Export Scholarship Awards

The award winners with a rep from DHL.

The DHL Export Scholarship Awards and show took place tonight at my favourite old gangsta haunt (HOLLA!) 4:20 on K Rd. The three finalists in the competition were Jimmy D, Salasai and Stolen Girlfriends Club. To be in to win, labels had to compile a presentation for a judging panel which included designer Trelise Cooper and NZ Herald journalist (and blogger) Zoe Walker.

The Stolen Girlfriends Club outfits, modelled by Levi Clarke and Olivia O'Driscoll, who seems to be showing up plenty lately.

After a mini show in which all three designers showed a selection of five or six outfits, the ceremony began and Stolen Girlfriends Club were named winners. Speaking before the show, SGC director Dan Gosling joked that if they won, the $10,000 prize would go to paying off their DHL bill. In his acceptance speech, Luke Harwood proclaimed, "Means we can party in Tokyo!" to which Mark Moore replied, "If we can fit ourselves into a DHL box!"

La Beat Debauchery on the decks.

Of the three finalist labels Stolen Girlfriends Club appears to be closest to making it big on an international scale, having already secured representation by sales and PR agents in Australia and Japan, and with a rumoured exhibition taking place in Japan in March. Time will tell whether they'll succeed, or follow a similar path to their Sydney counterparts Ksubi – after all, the current economic climate doesn't seem too conducive to huge business growth.

Finalists and models.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

#242 Au Revoir! From Jordan Rondel

Tomorrow morning my sister and I are leaving for Paris (and Isaac is joining us there on the 22nd). Over the next couple of months the three of us will be making and posting videos of our awesome adventures. These will include partying in Paris, partying in London, having a white christmas, shopping, eating delicious food, enjoying a luxurious few days in Ireland, attending Mode a Paris Men's fashion week and many other crazy escapades.

Watch this space!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

#241 Kanye West's press conference - "I wouldn't suggest driving with the glasses."

Kanye West at the Auckland press conference

I had a rare brush with fame yesterday attending Kanye West's press conference, held at the Westin Hotel. From what I heard over the forty minute question and answer period, Kanye West is an exceptionally intelligent and well thought out man with a lot to say for himself.

And he made me laugh. A lot.

Monday, December 1, 2008

#240 Eon collapses and the little guys lose - David Trubridge speaks out


As I previously mentioned, major New Zealand-designed furniture stockist Eon Design Centre went into receivership last week. Due to many of the designers not having proper knowledge of New Zealand's business laws, when they went to Eon to retrieve their unpaid stock, they were informed that they could not do so, and then removed by security personnel. Further, if they were to overpower security and remove their stock, they could be prosecuted for theft. The reasons are clearly listed in this NBR article.

Now one of New Zealand's most successful furniture designers David Trubridge – though not a New Zealander himself – (pictured above) has spoken out about what's going on. In an email sent out at 12:30pm and addressed to 'Undisclosed Recipients' (who one would assume would include most of the design specific media and wider design community) he details the impact that this receivership will have on the small design businesses, and the injustice he sees existing in the big business world where the rich get richer and the little guys suffer.

I would like to draw your attention to a sad drama happening in Auckland where eon design centre has gone into liquidation. Receivers have been appointed and are holding a sale of stock in order to repay a loan of $400,000 to Blackbird Finance (partly owned by Fay Richwhite).

eon design centre was set up by Angela Roper as the flagship of New Zealand design and has been one of the main outlets for most of the country's design community. It would appear that none of these small businesses (including myself) will receive any of the, often large, debts that eon owe us. This will have a serious knock-on effect throughout the New Zealand design community. We are shocked and horrified that the carefully designed law ensures the big boys always get their pound of flesh, and the small guys end up loosing. We are seeing the same thing all over Wall St and London and it is the rotten heart of capitalism where financial laws are made by the super rich to protect the super rich.

I publicly challenge Blackbird and Fay Richwhite to promote a Kiwi sense of community and to share their pickings with those of us who are suffering in this collapse far more than they possibly could. They only have money to play with because people like us, the creative community are earning it at the coal face. By their standards the amounts are negligible compared to what they could gain in good PR, while the amounts to us are crippling.

It is important to remember just how much the creative community punches way above its weight in contributing towards the worldwide image of New Zealand. Just over the last year my company has been responsible for literally hundreds of articles in design, fashion and lifestyle magazines around the world. This could be over a million dollars of editorial; they all mention New Zealand and give it a sophisticated, creative image which attracts an affluent cultural traveller. I have been included in a French design magazine as one of the 15 'plus grands' designers in the world, and my Coral light is in the current Time magazine style and fashion luxury list. We do this on an extremely small budget and do not have the resources to absorb events such as the eon collapse.

you can find further information here.

if you wish to discuss this with me further please do give me a ring on the number below or 021 ******.
we thank you for your support
best wishes

If you would like to show your support for David Trubridge and the designers losing out over the Eon debacle email him at