Wednesday, July 20, 2011

#1934 A conversation about the menswear collections, filing on-the-go and touch-typing with Tim Blanks of style.com

Tim Blanks – a vision in Prada bananas.

Way back when I was still at university – years before I started coming to the menswear shows – I discovered the (now defunct) site men.style.com. I became a fanatical devotee – it was there that I first read Tim Blanks' reviews and marvelled at the way in which a writer could sum up a collection so succinctly in just a few paragraphs of text. About two years later I found out he was a fellow New Zealander, and I'd pinpoint that as one of the inciting incidents in my decision to pursue this writing hobby of mine as a career. I'd like to say that I didn't get starstruck the first time I met him, but that would be a bold-faced lie (I've gotten only slightly cooler over the past three years). On the final day of Paris Fashion Week, I cornered the man between the Paul Smith and Thom Browne shows to ask him a few questions for Gilt Manual. Here's what they didn't publish.

Isaac Hindin Miller: Did anybody surprise you this season?
Tim Blanks: You know, Prada did I have to say. I just absolutely loved that show. She just does it every single time. She surprised me in Fall because I didn’t like it – after Spring which I really loved – and I think it was interesting to see this collection which was so print heavy because I don’t think they realized that Spring [with its bananas and monkeys] would be so successful, and Spring next year is so print heavy. That surprised me. And I was pleasantly surprised. Massimo Piombo really lifted his offering – it was very, very strong and I just loved the Piombo story. I love a label with a story and his story is so good. You can’t beat it. And Burberry surprised me!

IHM: Did you think that Burberry looked a little bit like Karen Walker womenswear?
TB: That's an interesting thought. Everybody had a reference point for that collection.
IHM: I just kept looking at it and going, 'Wow, that looks so much like Karen Walker.'
TB: Well that is an interesting idea, but no I didn't actually think that.

IHM: What about Lanvin?
TB: I liked that Lanvin was so cinematic and it was such a wide story, I was sitting there and tooling around in my head and thinking about what I’m looking at – it’s the guy who’s maybe been in the army – they say he’s a security guard – either way, it looked like a study in consumer demographics.

IHM: And Raf Simons?
TB: I liked Raf, I thought the interesting thing about Raf was that the show for Jil Sander looked unfinished – he loves youth. Youth is his totem for what he does. The show for Jil Sander looked unfinished – the bare legged boys – they just felt like boys. And then the Raf show felt like young men. I was really pleased.

IHM: Do you write reviews on your Blackberry?
TB: Yes. Do I file on this thing? Yes. Because I was doing men’s reviews, men’s videos and women’s resort, the days were much more packed than usual. So I haven’t had a hell of a lot of time to file reviews. But the mere fact that I’ve mastered the act of filing on a Blackberry, I feel like I’m the caveman who found out how to use opposable thumbs. It could potentially change things but Nick Sullivan [fashion director of Esquire] has been coaching me in the art of the iPad with a keyboard.

IHM: How’s your typing?
TB: Oh it’s the two finger tap but I cannot do touchscreen. I just find it infuriating it just takes me so much longer.

Read my interview with Tim Blanks for Gilt Manual here.

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1 comments:

Ramesh said...

Marketing non-abstract designs on a global basis is an interesting challenge. I've seen a Prada man's shirt with a nuts and bolts design, which is witty enough in English. Most other luxury labels are squarely aiming at the East Asian market as the future main growth driver-- indeed, Prada is seeking a presence on the Hong Kong stock exchange.
Bananas have no special association with Chinese culture, though the banana plant was a staple of classical Chinese gardens for its broad leaves.
I wouldn't be surprised if over the coming years Prada and other companies exploit motifs long used in Chinese porcelain, eg fish [ especially carp ], bats and peaches. These symbols are often homonyms, where similar sounds have different meanings and spellings : eg in English peak and pique, pi and pie. 'Fu' in Chinese is homonymous with 'bat' [ the mammal ] and 'happiness'; 'Yu' means fish and abundance; and peaches symbolise longevity.