Monday, February 28, 2011

#1754 Witnessing a funeral

Photo: Google

The minutiae of a funeral are small mercies that family can get lost in after a death: AV feeds and pall-bearer weight balancing and choosing which direction the casket will enter the room. Inside the Aurora Centre at Burnside High School, Jaime Gilbert's brother Pete stands on stage discussing audio gain with a member of the venue's tech crew.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

#1753 A day in the life of Christchurch

Christchurch Cathedral. Photo: AP

I flew to Christchurch this morning. The first thing I saw when I walked into the departure lounge was a Chinese family being interviewed by a camera crew. As I walked closer, the father had his head down. He was crying. It hit me hard. It's so easy to look at everything on the news and get desensitised to what's happening because we're inundated by atrocities on a near daily basis, but it is so different to see it in the flesh. When I arrived at my family home, my Dad was getting ready to drive over to Jaime Gilbert's parents' house to discuss funeral arrangements. Jaime was one of the first four deceased Cantabrians to have their names released in the media. He was working in a bar in the CBD when the quake hit, and was killed instantly by a wall that came crashing down. Dad is MCing his funeral on Tuesday.

Friday, February 25, 2011

#1752 Emily Baker and the Antipodeans hit the ground walking in Milan

Emily Baker on the catwalk at Prada F/W 2011. Photos: tfs

Emily Baker has just done what no female New Zealand model has done before (besides, perhaps, Kylie Bax in the 90s), walking a Prada ready-to-wear show in Milan. This is a great get for any model, but perhaps even greater if that model happens to be a fashion week freshman from Matamata. The 17 year old Kiwi newcomer has had a blinder of a season thus far, walking (among others) Marc Jacobs and Calvin Klein in New York; Christopher Kane and Giles in London; and D&G, Fendi and Max Mara in Milan. Add Prada, and we've got ourselves a star in the making. Joining Baker on the catwalk at Prada was fellow Antipodean, Perth-born Dempsey Stewart, and at D&G, fellow New Zealander (and current campaign star) Jessica Clarke. AUSTRALASIANS FOR THE WIN!

#1751 WORLD employee's miraculous earthquake survival

WORLD's former Christchurch store.

Like so many other businesses in the city, WORLD's Christchurch store (housed on the ground floor of the ANZ Bank Chambers on the corner of Lichfield and High Streets), was entirely demolished in the 6.3 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday. Looking at photos of the devastated site where WORLD once sat, the possibility of any survivors seems implausible. But implausibility be damned – according to an email sent yeseterday from WORLD director Denise L'Estrange Corbet, the retail assistant working inside the store when the earthquake hit was miraculously unharmed.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

#1750 Help the Christchurch quake victims

Photo: NZ Herald

At 12:51pm this afternoon in my hometown of Christchurch, an earthquake struck measuring 6.3 on the Richter Scale. Whole parts of the city were destroyed. The CBD looks like a war zone: Buildings are demolished, cars crushed by falling debris and the death toll is currently at 65 and rising. My Mum was in Diamond Harbour (across the bay from Lyttelton) when it hit, and she happened to be talking to my sister on the phone. As soon as she felt the quake, she screamed out to my sister, who ran for cover under a table with her baby. I'm thankful to say that my family were all unharmed, but I can't say the same for my friends. Jaime Gilbert, a Baha'i guy I grew up with, was killed in the first shock – he was only 22 years old. Sam Gibbs, who I worked with at the Christchurch Mexican Cafe back in 2005, was lost in the CTV building. I can't imagine how many people will be affected by this. It's a surreal feeling to be watching the footage from so far away. I have no words. Donations can be made by clicking the links below. Every little bit counts.



Donations can be made at ANZ branches or online to 01-1839-0188939-00, and at National Bank branches or online to 06-0869-0548507-00.

#1749 Tyler Thoreson and Josh Peskowitz are out of the closet but back on film

The first time I ever read was back in 2004 at the Auckland University computer labs. I was astonished and rather pleased to learn that every single look from every single fashion show was available to be viewed online. The photos were great, but the reviews really did it for me (expat Kiwi writer Tim Blanks has a way with words). Then there were the two New York based editors: Tyler Thoreson and Josh Peskowitz, who did a monthly video segment named In the Closet, during which they'd espouse the virtues of single malt, show you the best way to fold and pack your suit jackets and discuss the latest trends, collaborations and must-have boots.

Monday, February 21, 2011

#1748 Richard Kavanagh gets a haircut

Photo: Katherine Lowe

Kiwi hairdresser Richard Kavanagh sits in a vintage hydraulic chair at Tommy Guns on the Lower East Side, getting his hair cut by a barber with a comically large moustache. It's the first time he's paid for a trim in 10 years. "The last time was in Egypt," he says. "It only cost three dollars but the guy did a pretty horrible job." This one will set him back about $95, tip included. Kavanagh is taking three days off in the city before heading to Milan and Paris for the next round of womenswear shows, where he will continue his work with Guido, the most highly regarded hair stylist in fashion. During New York Fashion Week, the team styled 11 shows, including Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

#1747 Emily Baker is's number one newcomer


Not that there ever was any doubt, but Kiwi model Emily Baker has officially nabbed the top newcomer spot of Fall/Winter 2011 New York Fashion Week according to Says the industry site:
"From Calvin, to Marc Collection, to Alexander Wang, Altuzarra, Preen and Narcisco Ms Baker made a massive first season statement in New York, the kind that has put this New Zealand native on the watch list of every major casting director, photographer and editor in the trade. And it is very inspiring to know Ms Baker has the personality to justify the buzz."
Here's to more success for all the New Zealanders in London, Milan and Paris. GO THE KIWIS!


Friday, February 18, 2011

#1746 Calvin Klein comes clean

Kiwi model Emily Baker on the catwalk at Calvin Klein. Photos: Katherine Lowe

Seating arrangements are big business at a fashion show, and as you'd expect, the cooler, more famous or VIP you are, the further forward you sit. I generally stand. At Calvin Klein, however, it's third row for me. Sure there are only three rows, but it beats rubbernecking from behind the bleachers. Today, my third row seat was right on the corner that the models had to walk around before going to a different part of the room (it was a multi-runwayed catwalk). This meant that for a brief moment, every 30 seconds or so, I was so close to the models that if I leaned too far forward, I'd get a knee to the face. It was a wonderful feeling.

#1745 The facts of life

Photo: Katherine Lowe

1. I went to Le Bain at The Standard last night with three goals: to talk to Kanye West, to hug Derek Blasberg and to pull the thumbs up in Terry Richardson's general direction. But seeing as I didn't actually encounter any of the aforementioned, the night was an epic failure. To compensate, I hugged the doorman, high fived Leigh Lezark and the rest of the Misshapes and rapped along to American Boy and Monster with Katherine and Jenna Sauers. I guess it wasn't all bad.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

#1744 Jeremy Scott on superbrands and superheroes

Andrej Pejic flipping his hair at Jeremy Scott. Photos: Katherine Lowe

Hats off to Jeremy Scott for putting on an extravagantly hilarious show this afternoon, proving that fashion isn't all about moody models and serious tailoring, but sometimes – just sometimes – it's about having a laugh as well. Besides the spectacle of lurid clashing colours, the pink pig tails and the faux-fur trimmed booties, there did seem to be a message within: a tongue in cheek ode to corporate America – superheroes and super-brands flipped on their heads.

#1743 I got hypothermia while waiting in line for the VMan party – others got cash

Twitpic: Jenna Sauers' "small cash fan."

Against all better judgment, I waited in negative five degree temperatures for two hours last night to get into the VMan party. We arrived at 11:00pm and the venue was already over-capacity, with at least 150 people outside clamouring to get in. I joined the queue. I waited with photographer Inez van Lamsweerde, Calvin Klein menswear designer Italo Zucchelli, scores of male models and Kiwi writer Jenna Sauers – the bouncers were democratic in their refusals. Kanye West walked straight in at about 12:05am, but you can't turn down the cover model (see below). At 1:00am, with chilblains and severe cases of hypothermia, we gave up. Later that night, Jenna Sauers – who had gotten in – tweeted the following: "Um. I take back any criticism, implied or otherwise, of the VMan party. Kanye is here, and they just blew $1 bills through the air." Later, "I made $21. Enough for a small cash fan." And then this morning, "Cannot f***ing believe Kanye West VMan party. Feel it must've been a hallucination, but here I am with real singles and a real hangover." The moral of that story is: FML.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

#1742 Here's to you, Mrs Robinson at Marc by Marc Jacobs

Photos: Katherine Lowe

Held in the New York Armory (literally the building in which artillery is kept in case serious ish goes down), Marc Jacobs is the Fort Knox of fashion shows. Security on the front, security on the back, army jeeps on the sides, AK47s within. Getting in is a feat of jailbreak proportions. Luckily, I knew somebody on the inside.

#1741 Karen Walker's soul club – pulling all-nighters at Wigan Casino

Dempsey Stewart backstage at Karen Walker. Photos: Katherine Lowe

Karen Walker is New Zealand's sole designer to consistently show her collections on a catwalk beyond the Pacific Rim, and her international fan base loves her for it. But there was no pastoral Aotearoa inspiration for Fall 2011: The kids of famed Northern soul disco Wigan Casino formed the basis; manual-labourers who dropped their tools at the whistle and escaped their blue collar realities by dancing all night long.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

#1740 Emily Baker books Marc Jacobs, and the upward trajectory continues

Emily Baker at Marc Jacobs. Photos: tfs

Emily Baker is on a roll. The 17 year old Matamata native has officially taken New York Fashion Week by storm, walking 10 shows already, with another three days left to go. Her list includes: Alexander Wang, Tommy Hilfiger, Max Azria, Preen, Rag and Bone and Derek Lam, plus the most hyped show of the week, Marc Jacobs (above). What a champion. Fellow New Zealander Jessica Clarke has also been doing the rounds, walking Diane Von Furstenberg and Rebecca Taylor, and will most likely appear in the Calvin Klein Collection show on Thursday. GO THE KIWIS! Photos below.

#1739 Thom Browne takes it to the church

Photos: Katherine Lowe

Thom Browne showed his men's collection inside a grand old ballroom at the Westin Hotel in Paris last month: A turn-of-the-century dinner party was in progress, complete with piles of steaming food, taxidermy animals and models who actually ate. His women's collection was presented tonight in New York – also in a grand old ballroom – on the third floor of New York Public Library. This time however, food was not on the menu.

Monday, February 14, 2011

#1738 The Band of Outsiders show was awesome, and here's why

Photos: Katherine Lowe

Band of Outsiders Fall 2011 will forever be remembered as the show at which I met Kanye West. So in my books, it was pretty much the greatest event of all time. But there were also other reasons for it being so awesome.

#1737 Emily Baker is walking plenty more shows this week, including several whose names she can't remember

Photo: Katherine Lowe

When we caught up with Kiwi model-made-good Emily Baker (who is now showing up on every man and their dog's blog as the top new-face girl of New York Fashion Week), she was sitting on the floor post-show at Alexander Wang, surveying the madness before her eyes. Despite this being her first international fashion week, the girl from Matamata is staying surprisingly calm, no doubt due to the support she's receiving from her Dad Greg, who's here in the city to chaperone.

#1736 Calvin Klein unleashes the puff

Photos: Katherine Lowe

My last attempt at gaining entrance to a Calvin Klein show in New York lasted all of 10 seconds – the security guard looked at me, saw my lack of ticket, shook his head, then blanked me out as if I'd simply evaporated off the face of the earth. This time, I was welcomed in with open arms. It's amazing what an invitation can do for your prospects. Inside, the photographers were buzzing. A spectacular trio of male talent was due to arrive (Zac Efron, Joe Jonas and Kellan Lutz), and they weren't going to miss their moneyshot. A flurry of camera flashes later, and the shouting gentlemen were escorted off the catwalk. Show time.

#1735 Timo Weiland's Indian adventure

Photos: Katherine Lowe

"Gloria Vanderbilt and Keith Richards go on a fictional trip to India during the colonial years," cited Timo Weiland as the inspiration behind his Fall 2011 collection shown at the Lincoln Center this afternoon. And what a disparate pair they turned out to be.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

#1734 How I finally met Kanye West

Photo: Katherine Lowe

I'd love to be able to tell you a story of how I approached Kanye West all cool and nonchalant and chatted with him for several minutes about the state of menswear and hip hop and how diamond grills actually affect eating habits, but the reality is nothing of the sort, and I am anything but cool or nonchalant. Here's how it went down. Before the Band of Outsiders show tonight, I walked up to Kanye West and asked if Katherine could take his photo. He said no, not now, because he was eating one of the delicious lemon cookies that had been given out to all attendees, and, judging by his gesticulations, he didn't want to be photographed while chewing. We hovered nearby for a good five minutes, but after he'd finished chewing, he started chatting, and interrupting him would have just been plain rude.

#1733 Alexander Wang is the master showman

Photos: Katherine Lowe

Alexander Wang is the master showman. His catwalk presentations are held in a warehouse miles from any form of public transportation – all-black town cars are de riguer. Past the mob of street style photographers snapping till their fingers stop working, there are two lines: one for seated guests (VIPS), and one for standing guests (plebes). At the end of each line is a giant black wall, blocking the view to the catwalk. Seated guests stroll by, while everybody else waits. They're left to wait a very long time. One by one, the stars arrive: Anna Wintour, Erin Wasson, Alicia Keys and Kanye West, escorted in quickly, with security at their sides.

#1732 Michael Bastian channels the great outdoors for Gant

Photos: Katherine Lowe

Michael Bastian is a hands-on designer. At one point during his Gant presentation this afternoon, he ran over to a female model to rearrange the scarf that was beginning to slip off her shoulder. No interns, no stylists. That's what you call going the extra mile. His was a texturally rich collection, filled with herringbone, tweed, tartan, corduroy and chunky knits. Cross country skiing was supposed to have been the starting point, but the overall feel (and the models) more closely resembled small town American country kids out for a jaunt on the town.

#1731 Rachel Antonoff's homecoming dance

Photos: Katherine Lowe

You know you're in for a good time when the presentation you've just walked into features an all-girl band (The Like), dancing freshmen, mean girls whispering catty nothings into each other's ears and models making out. For Fall 2011 Rachel Antonoff took it back to the homecoming dance, and every classic high schooler was in attendance.

#1730 Emily Baker makes good on the hype, walks Rag and Bone

Photo: Fashion Gone Rogue

Call me biased, but Kiwi Emily Baker seems to be the most talked about new face model here at New York Fashion Week. First there was the Hint Mag mention, then the highly coveted nod. But talk is cheap, the proof is in the pudding. And yesterday she made good on the hype, walking for Rag and Bone (as seen above), alongside some of the top girls in the business: Lindsey Wixson, Jac Jablonski, Julia Nobis, Hanne Gaby Odiele and Edita Vilkeviciute. Not bad work for the Matamata teen's second ever turn on a runway. Here's to many more (rumour has it she might appear in Alexander Wang this afternoon). Baker's fellow Clyne/DNA agency mate Jessica Clarke also showed up yesterday, walking for New Zealand expat Rebecca Taylor. GO THE KIWIS!


Saturday, February 12, 2011

#1729 Brothers (and lovers) in arms

Photo: Katherine Lowe

Garance Dore, Scott Schuman and Tommy Ton outside the Rag and Bone show this afternoon. If you look very closely at Mr Schuman's hand, you might notice that it's pressed down rather tightly on Tommy Ton's neck. That's because he was trying to run away. Not on Scott's watch.


#1728 Rag and Bone channel the good Duke of Windsor

Photos: Katherine Lowe

Plucking the good bits from one's roots and combining them with the best of one's present is as good a place as any to find inspiration for a collection. Rag & Bone's David Neville and Marcus Wainwright started life in England but have long since called New York home. For Fall 2011, they played up their cultural duality, with an offering that merged classic British hunting with collegiate Americana.

Friday, February 11, 2011

#1727 Tim Hamilton designs clothing for a dystopian future

Photos: Katherine Lowe

The Standard Hotel was the venue for Tim Hamilton's presentation tonight, where he imagined uniforms for a future dystopian world. Considering the rigmarole to get through the door, that dystopian world didn't feel all that far off.

#1726 Duckie Brown's funny fashion

Photos: Katherine Lowe

Before a packed house that included Bill Cunningham, Miss Jay and Mark Indelicato of Ugly Betty fame, this afternoon Duckie Brown offered their suggestions for what might come next in American menswear. These included baggy grey suit pants with giant pleats that folded over from one leg to the other, boucle sweatshirts, fisherman's jerseys with seriously restricted arm movement and a curious coat, worn by Bronx local Yuri Pleskin, that featured a crushed fabric print (no amount of ironing will save that one).

#1725 Steven Alan makes clothing you actually want to wear in the cold

Photos: Katherine Lowe

Steven Alan presented his Fall 2011 collection this morning at the Chelsea Piers, an icy 10 minute hike from the nearest subway station. Inside, the room was steaming hot, crowded with guests, and lined with models stretching the length of two walls. It's impossible not to get sidetracked by those models, standing still as statues – they're forbidden from chatting, making any sudden movements or scratching an itch. Call it sadism, but you just want to catch them out. It didn't take long, three in particular were breaking all the rules.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

#1724 Sonny Vandevelde's favourite type of male model is a guy who doesn't want to be a model

Matthew Hitt backstage at John Varvatos. Photos: Sonny Vandevelde

Sonny Vandevelde was climbing on ledges above diners in the restaurant at the Tribeca Grand Hotel last night, checking the alignment of his photographs and arguing with himself over which order worked best. The backstage photographer, friend to models and Australian is in New York City for two reasons: to shoot Fashion Week, and to host Backstage – an exhibition of his work at the hotel – a now highly anticipated seasonal event. Choosing which photographs to hang next to each other is the easy part, he says. "Editing them down from 4000 to 20, however, was a killer."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

#1723 Huffer creative director Dan Buckley has left the building

Dan Buckley. Photo: Katherine Lowe

Kiwi streetwear label Huffer announced today that co-founder Dan Buckley has left the company after 14 years as creative director. In his role, Buckley oversaw a five-strong design team, who, in his words, "Made me almost redundant". He will not be replaced. According to Huffer's now singular director Steve Dunstan, Buckley's departure was on good terms, and presents positive opportunities for the company. "Although Dan will be sadly missed, I am looking forward to a simpler management structure. Dan remains a shareholder and has the company's best interests at heart and wouldn't have made this move unless he was confident that our team could continue the next chapter." That team includes former Lonely Hearts designer Aimee McFarlane, whose first womenswear collection – in my opinion, Huffer's best yet – will arrive in store later this month.

#1722 With patched pants, you can look good and feel smug all at the same time

J Crew Spring 2011. Photo: The Fashionisto

Clothes should be bought to last. As much as I love the democracy of fast fashion, buying something cheaply that you expect to throw away quickly doesn't make much sense to me. What does make sense is wearing something to death, then repairing it once it's broken and holey. That way, not only can you feel self righteously Bono-like in your non-planet-harming consumption of clothing, but you also get the joys of personalised garments – like patched trousers. And patched trousers, like sweaters with elbow patches before them, are my latest obsession.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

#1721 The top 10 ways to get into a fashion show when you're not on the list

The Publicis Relationus Agentus in her natural habitat.

1. Dress in your ordinary, everyday clothes – your favourite jeans and sneakers or at least something you'll feel comfortable wearing. Fashion security guards are like birds of prey: they can sense fear in a single collar re-adjustment.

Monday, February 7, 2011

#1720 What happens to the models once companies start using backstage images for campaigns?

Photo: WSJ

Despite all outward appearances, a model's life isn't necessarily the ridiculously good looking fairytale one might expect. Sure, those at the top of the game probably aren't complaining, but what about their less successful counterparts? They're constantly on the road away from friends and family; forced to stay in shared, often sub-par accommodations with numerous kids to a room; placed in the care of adults whose intentions aren't always so pure as the driven snow; and to top it all off, they lose giant chunks of their income to tax and commission. And that's not even mentioning all the free work they're expected to undertake or the enormous mark-ups charged by their agencies for mundanities like photocopying or website maintenance. So what happens when their bread and butter money makers – campaigns and catalogues – are suddenly taken away?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

#1719 Emily Baker could just be New Zealand's next breakout star

Photo: Clyne

Last season Palmerston North native Jessica Clarke did what no other Kiwi has done before, walking the Calvin Klein exclusive in New York, followed by successful turns at both Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks. She then converted the lot with a whole string of D&G campaigns, making her likelihood of success this season all the greater. This time around she's joined in New York by Clyne/DNA agency mate Emily Baker, whose star – I reckon – is surely on the rise. Hailing from Matamata (a tiny town east of Hamilton), Baker has been modelling six months, and bears a striking resemblance to both Lara Stone and Emma Balfour. Despite her lack of experience, I'm predicting big things. All the best to the New Zealanders in New York – Jessica Clarke, Georgia Fowler, Zippora Seven, Emily Baker and Karen Walker, who's showing on Tuesday February 15 at 10:00am. GO THE KIWIS! See you there – I'm catching the red eye to JFK tonight.

#1718 Five things you might not know about the LAPD

Photo: Katherine Lowe

1. Members of the Los Angeles Police Department drive around on these amazing three-wheel mobility scooters when they're patrolling the big, bad suburban malls of the city. The trikes come complete with a siren, flashing blue and red lights and a maximum speed of 18 miles an hour (28 km/h). That means if they were chasing Usain Bolt, he'd outrun them every single time. Elderly folks however, wouldn't stand a chance.

Friday, February 4, 2011

#1717 The facts of life

Photo: Terry Richardson for Opening Ceremony

1. I am in desperate need of a denim jacket. It's a thought that's been consuming me for a while now, but the time has come – the forbidden fruit must be tasted. This one is from the Opening Ceremony X Levi's Spring collection which just debuted online, shot by Terry Richardson and worn particularly well by PJ Ransome (the girl is Anais Pouliot, my favourite female model). Here's the thing though: At the time of writing, it's negative four degrees in New York. What is up with every single retailer launching their Spring collections in store when it's still freezing outside? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

#1716 Money can't buy you love, but it can buy you some sweet, sweet sweaters

Photos: Katherine Lowe

It's amazing what you can buy with $35 New Zealand dollars when you're not in New Zealand. Back home it would get you (maybe) breakfast for two, half a tank of petrol, a third of a pair of Chuck Taylors or two tee shirts from AS Colour. At Uniqlo in Paris, I bought this white button-down oxford shirt and rusty-orange lambswool sweater combo (twinset?) for a grand total of $70 New Zealand dollars. And they're both great quality and perfect fits! Uniqlo, Uniqlo, where everybody gets a bargain – and a money back guarantee!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

#1715 Eat, drink, shop, be merry and do your laundry – my picks of the top 10 things to do in Paris

Photos: Katherine Lowe

1. When you're halfway around the world from your favourite Kiwi beach and the only sign of heat is the stinky air being spewed up from the subway grates below your feet, nothing will warm the cockles of your heart like a visit to a traditional Turkish Hammam. Step off the street and into an exotic oasis where you'll be welcomed by chain-smoking beauticians, taken to a locker to undress, scrubbed down with savoir noir (black soap) and pumice, then waltzed into a eucalyptus scented steam room to unwind. At €55-odd it's not cheap, but you'll come out a new person - literally. The amount of skin that is removed during the gommage (exfoliation) is frightening.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

#1714 Meet Taro Ray – our new favourite Japanglishman

Taro Ray is a Central Saint Martins menswear student who became our new best friend when we all shared in the collective humiliation of being refused entry onto the Paris Fashion Week bus. Despite his rather doleful expression, he's actually a very happy guy with a penchant for telling hilarious stories about botched medical operations and the joys of dyslexia. He's the product of a Japanese former Comme des Garcons press agent mother and an English hairdresser father. It's a good mix.