- Augustine Hammond: Gorge magazine
Gorge magazine was put in the oven at 180 degrees and left to cook for the best part of seven months. A bi-annual print magazine that celebrates both food and fashion in all their delectable splendour, issue one aims to tantalise the tastebuds and reawaken the senses. Discover more about the cream of the crop who embrace the food/fashion crossover, from designers with cuisine-inspired collections to legendary stylist Simon Foxton’s tales of taste, Gorge brings it all to the table. Including talk of the town Chef de Patron Jackson Boxer, menswear designer Nathan Korn, table-scaping expert Julian Vogel, food photographer Louise Hagger, Feast for the Eyes exhibition curator and writer Susan Bright and food columnist Ajesh Patalay. With last suppers and recipes straight out of fashion’s kitchen, Gorge serves these matters of taste together in harmony on one plate. Cherish it or pass it on like a family recipe. Get it messy or keep it pristine like your favourite cookbook. With a cup of tea or a glass of wine, drink with it and snack with it, but most of all, read it and indulge in it.
2. Bailey Slater: Fag Mag
Hello divas, welcome to Fag Mag, the hottest, funnest and freshest biannual zine you’re ever laid eyes on. Fag Mag: The Gay2K issue is an IV drip of all things aughties, whether you’re a Mc-Bling-loving video vixen or a baggy-jeaned Mall Goth with a sly crush on Will Young. Fag Mag is for the gays and the girls, and anyone who deems themselves ‘all over the place’. Having your cake and eating it too is what we do best. It’s not a lecture about safe sex, or just an explosion of girthy members (alright, maybe a few), but a pop culture nosh-off for teens and young adults told through the analytical and tribute-paying lens of Queer Britain. Inside we’ve covered your favourite tabloid has-beens and litter-picking pop stars, the innovative artists, designers and fags preserving Y2K’s sordid history, and have celebrated all the brash and vulgar delights that ‘hun’ culture has to offer. I promise there’s an air of sophistication there somewhere, trapped under a veneer of glittery lip gloss and a tramp stamp that reads ‘boner garage,’ but unlike Davina McCall, we are not live on Channel 4, so swearing and debauchery will be in surplus. Just try and keep it in your pants while you're reading, yeah?
3. Dayna Tohidi: Plaster magazine
Plaster is a multimedia online magazine born out of a desire to fill the gap in the Western media landscape for critical fashion journalism aimed at curious and ambitious teenagers. Divided into three categories – Deep Dive, Ones to Watch and Careers 101 – Plaster seeks to inform, inspire and educate while offering an authentic insider perspective on the misleadingly glamorised fashion industry. Consider it an antidote to the advertiser-driven listicles and celebrity-inspired content dominating teenagers’ Instagram and Twitter feeds. In issue one, we explore racial inequality within brands, non-profit organisations and educational institutions, ethical and sustainable solutions to clothing manufacturing, and Muslim immigrant attitudes towards the industry through un-tinted glasses.
4. Jana Schibli: Robe magazine
A little bit chic and a little bit strange, Robe is the new Sunday style magazine. Inspired by the format and journalistic integrity of Sunday newspaper supplements, monthly pages mix long-form journalism with actually solvable crosswords, fabulously twisted timelines and a generous pinch of fashion fun. Robe’s first issue is dedicated to opulence. It is an ode to style and decay, an investigation into casino souvenirs, a dive into the mad frenzy of opera costume sales, the story of a historian stuck in a former luxury sanatorium, and interviews with both grandes dames and scrappy students. Plus, build your own not-so-serious press release with our fashion mad libs...
5. Juliette Bastien: Madeleine magazine
Madeleine is a biannual perfumes magazine, named after Proust’s famous pastry: when his narrator in In Search of Lost Time dips a madeleine in his tea, he sees himself in his childhood house in Combray, sharing tea with his beloved aunt, thanks to the smell of the little French pastry. This is the power of smells. They immediately take us back 40 years and trigger lost memories. These reminiscences only happen when our senses are roused. But how to stimulate our sense of smell in a world in crisis, where we have to live in bubbles, hidden behind masks every time we go out? In these troubled times, where melancholia is everywhere, the focus of Madeleine’s first issue is nostalgia. Nostalgia for your mother’s perfume. Nostalgia for your father’s aftershave. Nostalgia for couturiers’ perfumes bottles made of crystal. Nostalgia for someone’s scent after their death. Like the smell of freshly baked madeleines, this magazine brings a whiff of souvenirs to anyone who dives into its pages.
6. Marco Gaffo: Il Bello
Il Bello is a magazine designed to escape into the beauty of fashion during the pandemic. Its first issue explores how Miuccia Prada’s gestures are gorgeous in their own right. Italian fashion critic Angelo Flaccavento discusses the beauty in fashion, his favourite designers and some not-so-beautiful aspects of fashion nowadays. The issue also explores how beautiful it is to immerse oneself in the fashion show experience, even when digital, how Roman designers Pierpaolo Piccioli and Roberto Capucci make their creations speak and how the pleat is a fashion staple that that has stood the test of time.
7. Molly Denton: YiP magazine
Meet YiP, the new biannual teen publication. Short for Youth in Progress, it documents just that. YiP champions positive, young energy. For this issue, themed ‘Inside Outside,’ we decided to focus on our slow but sure transition back into reality; the good, the bad, the beautiful and the messy. YiP is a blend of subculture (retrospective and new) and up-and-coming talent mixed with a little bit of fun. Today, we are inundated with bias, advertisers and influencers instead of valid opinion and strong voices. Modern news is broken, and we realise that. It’s why we are a print publication - no cookies, no algorithms - apart from the odd promo to our Instagram page. YiP is not about ‘fluff pieces’ or ‘click-bait.’ Instead, it is actual and fun-lovingly faithful in documenting a time too many of us already wish to forget, championing new and established talent along the way. YiP is for the makers, the doers, the dreamers and the realists. It’s time for them to lose themselves within our pages - to put their phones away and indulge.
8. Nini Barbakadze: Phreak magazine
The word 'freak' can be defined as 'a young person devoted to the counter-culture or alternative society,' 'an offensively eccentric or crazy person' or 'a monstrosity, often as exhibited in a show.' That said, people on the pages of my magazine are not necessarily freaks. They are 'phreaks,' a term which is a contraction of 'phone freak' and means something along the lines of hacking into communication systems. An alternative fashion, arts and culture publication, Phreak urges its reader to take a phreaking break from all the bullshit happening online and opt for a night-time stroll down subterranean Eastern Europe. Phreak issue one features Amo Bagratuni's captivating take on Armenia's devastating conflict and looks back on Riga's Untamed Fashion Assembly — a riotous celebration of trashion that Andrew Logan frequented in the 90s. It takes a look at George Nebieridze's nauseating visual tales of ordinary madness and re-watches Andrzej Żuławski's mind-bending films. Bárbara Sánchez-Kane tells Phreak why she does not want to paint inside the 'fucking lines,' and Adrien Flores shares the tales that teeth have told him. The magazine has compiled a Decameron of its own; proposing clubs as an ultimate form of togetherness, a social glue (and a numbing agent) that binds these phreaks together.
P.S. Phreak will not be responsible for nightmares, nausea or obsessive thoughts its pages might induce.
9. Olivia Reynolds: Togs magazine
Togs is an informational children’s magazine for children ages 6-10, giving them the chance them to have fun and delve into fashion. It aims to provide children with a fashion resource in which they can build a bridge between fashion and creativity at a young age.
Togs is about nurturing a child’s love of creativity and bringing positivity to the fashion world through the dark times we are facing with COVID-19. I want to ensure that children are inspired to go into a career in fashion, even if the government are not encouraging arts education. Now more than ever is a time when we as a society need fashion, art, music, culture and entertainment to thrive. Togs will be a resource that children can take with them on their journey to individuality, expressiveness, and innovation.
10. Valeria Ghersi Valdivia: Voz magazine
Voz ('voice' in Spanish) is a bi-annual print and online publication that highlights and celebrates Latinx talent and stories, without ignoring the ongoing issues faced by our communities. Voz is by and about Latinxs, those who stayed in their country, those who have travelled far from it and those who are part of its diaspora. Voz does not merge all Latinxs but instead applauds our differences. In the first issue of Voz we reminisce on the life and legacy of Peruvian fashion illustrator Reynaldo Luza, speak to six Angelenos about what it’s like growing up Mexican American in LA, talk to three talented Latinx fashion designers Krystal Paniagua, Diego Gama and Stephanie Uhart about their latest collections, meet the traders from the Latin Village fighting against the demolition of their market and listen to many more important voices. Welcome to Voz, an authentic representation of the Latinx community.
‘You are what you critique.’
The power of the review is perhaps one of the most important, all-defining and sometimes soul-destroying features of both the food and fashion spheres. The response of the writer and coverage from the press is often what makes or breaks aspiring restaurateurs and fashion designers. However, with COVID-19 stripping us of the delight of eating out and physical fashion shows, reviews have had a moment of insignificance. After a year of restaurants delivering to your door and watching fashion shows from the sofa, a re-assessment of the famed review has never felt more needed as we slowly return to normality.
It’s important to bear in mind that individuals aren’t always reading restaurant reviews in search of places to eat out, nor are they reading fashion show reviews to spend their money on over-priced clothes. Instead, those that read reviews of both kinds – in the pages of their Sunday supplements or via the weekly digest in their inboxes – do so because it takes them elsewhere for a few minutes. Therefore, it is a writer’s responsibility to not only inform their reader, but to also entice them – to say something that keeps them coming back for seconds.
When reading a restaurant review – good or bad – one would expect to find out about the taste of the food in question. But often, the writer also intends to guide the reader’s attention to all that contributes to the atmosphere of that very moment, when the food hits their tongue. The paintings on the walls, the vase of flowers on each table, the smell and hiss of the garlic frying from within the kitchen, and the feel of the cold, heavy, stainless steel cutlery. The experience is documented with full acknowledgement of how all the senses are responding to the situation.
Even if going to the restaurant being reviewed never crosses your mind, this attention to detail is what makes food writing so enjoyable to read. It is Jay Rayner’s sharp-tongued criticism, Grace Dent’s meticulous eye and the late A. A. Gill’s witty accounts that remain memorable. You can almost smell the buttery cloves of garlic and hear them fizzling away against the heat of the oiled pan.
Bland in flavour and in need of seasoning, contemporary fashion show reviews (remote or live) often lack this sense of vivacity. Far from indulgent, the focus seems removed from what the writer is actually experiencing and instead draws from whatever concept has been conjured up in the show’s press release. Often, show reviews lack detail on the clothes and – above all – the feelings that those clothes evoke.
Within the realms of both food and fashion, there is an indisputable scope for pleasure and satisfaction. Even though both concern human enjoyment and necessity, there seems to be a lapse as to how each subject is appraised in writing. Over the years, the voice of the fashion journalist has been drowned out by the spiralling commerciality of the industry and the gaping hole between the brilliance of food writing and the banality of fashion writing has only but grown larger.
'With food writing, there is much more scope for me to be playful and bring in my personal point of view,' says Ajesh Palatay, food columnist for How To Spend It. 'I think doing that in fashion writing can be much more difficult. Food is more personal, or people are much more open for the writing about it to be personal,' he says.
Food is something with which all of us connect, whether that connection is good or bad is open to interpretation. However, each one of us has something to say about it. Sweet, sour or salty, our relationships with food are varied and often complex but if anything, innately personal. 'Everyone feels empowered to talk about food in every possible way regardless of how much they know or not,' Palatay says. 'Everyone comes at food from a very particular, personal perspective.'
The role of the food writer is to evoke this sense of identity, ‘joining the dots’ with associations their reader might already have with the dish in question to whet their appetite. 'The reader comes halfway themselves and the writer only needs to do so much to meet them in the middle,' says Palatay. The best writers on food marry human relatability with scrupulous attention to detail, making their work feel somewhat accessible to everyone, whether you have your own connotations or not.
In the same way that deciding what to eat speaks volumes, deciding what to wear holds similar, if not more, social significance in the formation of identity. Clothes speak before you do. So, why is this level of intimacy so rarely woven into fashion writing, when clothes have the same kind of cultural, expressive and tangible qualities that food does?
‘GFOTY Crashed The Wedding’
Joining us in the hot seat, and the pews of her very own chuppah (big fat Jewish wedding), see GFOTY like you’ve never – and we mean never – seen her before…
'You know I’m a food photographer? Actually, no I'm not. That’s a lie.' We’re about an hour into our cover shoot with musical multihyphenate GFOTY, and this is the sixth quotable line she’s dished out so far. I know because I’m trying to write them all down, such wit doesn’t exactly grow on trees.
You might already be familiar with the ballsy PC Music expat as the voice and creative mind behind bouncy club classics such as 'Friday Night' or 'Boy Next Door.' No? Then perhaps for being the face of her own multi-billion dollar coffee chain and club night, GFOTYBUCKS. Still nothing? Ok, what about from her incredible OnlyFans account? Or for being the first visionary to put Love Island’s Eyal Booker in the spotlight – starting to ring a few bells now?
Maybe this will jog your memory: GFOTY (a.k.a. Girlfriend Of The Year, a.k.a. Polly Louisa Salmon) is North London’s resident pop provocateur, a figure as easily influenced by Scooter – the German happy hardcore group – as she is by Gossip Girl’s head bitch Blair Waldorf, or Schitts Creek’s resident starving artist Alexis Rose. The 30-year-old artist loves beer – be it an IPA or bog-standard lager – and has two toilets, one upstairs that she shares with her boyfriend and housemate, and another downstairs which she’s painted black and named the 'Berghain Bathroom'... for her cat.
She collects cuddly toys, expensive ones called Alpacassos, and awarded herself the title ‘Girlfriend Of The Year’ after cheating on an old boyfriend and creating a self-help blog afterwards to feel better about it. She’s also learning how to play piano, but that’s by the by.
One thing you definitely need to know about GFOTY is that after a string of successful and wildly experimental EPs, her debut album is finally in the works. Titled Femmedorm, the project is a mutant breed of Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents; the hyper-sun vibes of the famed Brit-holiday destination Benidorm; Femidom (the female condom); and the word ‘femme,’ an adjective denoting all things womanly. 'It’s sort of like a package holiday,' she says in earnest, 'just with a focus on GFOTY.' Tasking the singer with introducing her wild new album, and indeed new sound, in just five words, she opts for 'hot, sexy, cool, blonde,' and, err, lobster.'
The likes of Count Baldor, Jerskin Fendrix, and 100 Gecs’ Dylan Brady have all had their producing hands in the mix of the project, which is sure to be the best thing since sliced bread, or at least the one of 600 platform Miu Miu pumps the singer has in her closet.
We spend the rest of the day bonding over our joint birthdays (Cancers make some noise!), and talking about the fact that her newly-acquired fake breasts leave sweat marks in their original packaging, as if they were the remnants of a greasy pizza box. 'It must be the condensation,' she says. But you don’t really want to know that, do you? What you’re really after is the answers to the 50 burgeoning questions we posed to everyone’s favourite wedding crasher and tchotchke connoisseur. It would have been 69, but to be honest, we couldn’t be arsed. Here goes nothing!
Plaster speaks to Fashion Revolution USA about the causes of, and solutions to, the lack of ethnic minorities in leadership positions within nonprofit organisations.
The murder of George Floyd and the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes have put brands and companies under the microscope, but the global nonprofit sector needs to be held accountable too. According to Third Sector’s 2020 diversity survey of UK fundraising charities, only 10% of managers come from an ethnic minority background. The racial diversity gap is also prevalent in the US. At the American arm of the global movement, Fashion Revolution, all five directors are white, despite six out of eleven team members identifying as a Black, Indigenous or a Person of Colour.
Racial wage gap
Due to a shortage of funds, every role at Fashion Revolution USA (FR USA) is currently voluntary. 'We don't like that we're asking people to work for free and we don’t want to work for free either, but that is the name of the game at the moment,' says Shannon Welch, the organisation’s director of strategic initiatives and creative partnerships. Even if their intent to volunteer is just as strong as their white counterparts, the racial wage gap means that unpaid work is less feasible for ethnic minorities. In 2020, the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics published that white employees earn an average of $1008.00 a week, $195.00 and $223.00 more than their Black and Latinx (gender-neutral noun) equivalents, respectively. This gives context as to why FR USA’s director of operations and community, Ashleyn Przedwiecki, has noticed that 'white individuals tend to show up first in the onboarding process.'
Both Welch and Przedwiecki acknowledge that if they didn’t have full-time paid jobs, they wouldn’t be able to commit as many hours to volunteer at FR USA. Welch is the sustainability division director at Chapter 2 agency, New York, while Przedwiecki is a freelance event designer and part-time social impact manager at the Social Enterprise Alliance in Minneapolis. On average, they dedicate between 10 and 20 hours a week to volunteer remotely at the organisation.
Last Summer, FR USA created a business plan to apply for 501(c)(3) status. If granted, it will be able to accept public and private donations without paying tax (money paid to the government). Donors benefit too because they can opt-in for a tax deduction, known as gift aid. The funds raised would go towards paying its team a salary and funding community projects. Although, this won’t be easy as FR USA advocates for women’s rights and the environment; two causes that Przedwiecki says are 'usually in the bottom tier of funding from the government and individual donations in the US.'
According to social entrepreneurship consultancy, Community Wealth Partners, 80 percent of nonprofit staff recruit via their professional networks, 75 percent of which don't even have an ethnic minority presence. Welch holds herself accountable here. 'As hard as is to say, the majority of my network is white. Realising and saying that out loud, I got a pain in my chest,' she says, crossing her hands over her heart. This is one of several reasons why FR USA has made it a priority to evaluate and diversify its volunteer onboarding process. When hiring a new board of advisors, regional coordinators, city leads and social media staff, they 'prioritise individuals with diverse backgrounds, sexual orientations, religions and ages among other factors,' explains Przedwiecki.
Unequal power dynamics
Hierarchy is ingrained in the structure of nonprofit organisations; it’s a legal requirement to have a board of directors. Aware that this might make some of its team members feel undervalued, FR USA is seeking to shift towards a decentralised organisation model, where 'directors and the core team provide just enough structure and logistical support so that community leaders feel equipped and empowered to make decisions on their own,' explains Przedwiecki. In addition to this, it’s determined to abolish the white culture that has disseminated through its organisation due to having an all-white board of directors. 'If a person of colour steps into our team but the culture doesn't reflect them, they're not going to want to stay and I don't blame them,' says Przedwiecki. Before hiring a new director, the board wants to build an inclusive foundation for the organisation. 'We cannot claim that we know how to do this, but we recognise that it starts with doing our own internal work and keeping one another in check about our bias’,' she continues.
Usually, these sorts of conversations only surface after a brand or organisation is 'cancelled' on social media. The fact that FR USA has publicly confronted the lack of racial diversity among its board of directors is a positive reflection of the organisation’s values, especially accountability and transparency. As Welch and Przedwiecki acknowledge, it will take a lot of time, education and structural change to achieve an equal and inclusive culture at FR USA, but it’s heading in the right direction.
‘A Touch of the Operatic’
Torn from the frenzied magic of opera house costume sales, some garments take on a second life that is no less dramatic. Robe meets their owners
'I certainly hope we can wear opera coats again,' the designer Erdem Moralioglu said in a February interview about his most recent collection. I smile as I read this. Not because I can afford any of his sumptuous clothes, but because a salmon-coloured opera coat is winking at me from my wardrobe. The coat in question is not the sort of opera coat Moralioglu was referring to – not the coat worn over an evening gown to the opera, often of velvet and with sleeves that widen towards the wrist; nor the grand silhouette beloved by Miuccia Prada and Paul Poiret. It is instead a literal coat from the opera. I found it at a secondhand store in Zürich. The improvised changing room had no mirrors, so I crept to the front of the store, catching glimpses of the too-big coat in the gaudy frames tacked to the walls. 'It’s great, isn’t it,' smiled the store owner as he asked me for 35 Swiss francs. On the train ride home, I studied the label stitched to the inside of the collar. 'Opernhaus Zürich,' it was printed, 'Foscari,' read the slanted handwriting below. And then: 'Stoimenov.'
If you find such a tag – black-and-white and printed with lines for the wearer, the production and the home opera and often scribbled over in words that sound foreign to the uninitiated – it is probably a tell-tale sign of a chapter in the garment’s origin story: an opera house costume sale.
These open-to-the-public events happen every two years or every four or whenever an opera house’s costume store is so bursting at the seams that it simply must purge. They happen in San Francisco and in Sydney, in London and in Amsterdam, on parking lots, in warehouses, or below the glittering chandeliers of a grand opera hall. A hyper-realistic frog suit from The Cunning Little Vixen might hang next to a dress with art deco beading from The Merry Widow. The prices are often so low that costumes are snapped up quicker than you can say Shostakovich – a silk kimono for £5, a corseted gown for £50. 'It’s a totally different event than the opera,' says Verena Giesberg, Zürich Opera House’s costume director, over the phone. 'It really is an unbelievable hustle and bustle.'
In January 2020, the Zürich Opera’s was the last major costume sale before the pandemic. The queue snaked generously across the large square before the Belle Époque building by the lake. Journalists reported on their day amongst costume-crazy people; thousands of garments were sold. 'It’s nice when we can make a small profit for the house,' says Giesberg, 'because we do rely on subsidies and have to be careful with our money.' The pandemic has added an extra layer of importance to the sales: San Francisco Opera’s first ever online costume sale, in October 2020, was held in part to raise funds for struggling opera staff. Over in Sydney, the Opera Australia had just let go 16 orchestra musicians amongst much controversy when it held a sale in November 2020. The company was selling, along with a large chunk of its costumes, the very warehouse which stored them.
'It's an unfortunate thing that this sale happened because of COVID,' says the Sydney-based costume designer Anthony Aitch over the phone. But it’s not long before he jumps into an enthusiastic sampling of his shopping list: a life-sized polar bear suit that he might use for a performance by the climate change activist and Pacific Islander Latai Taumoepeau, a steel knight’s helmet which currently makes a striking centrepiece for his kitchen table, a bunch of white silk kimonos from Madam Butterfly which he will harvest for the fabric, and a couple of harnesses which he hasn’t quite figured out yet. 'I definitely overspent,' he laughs, not a tinge of regret in his voice.
‘Smells of Comfort’: Interviews by Juliette Bastien
It is a little bit weird to think that smells can reassure people in the same way that blankets comfort worried children. But on second thought, we all have personal 'charm scents' that brings us an intense feeling of joy, mixed with a hint of nostalgia. Madeleine asked twelve people for the particular smells that have cheered them up during the pandemic.
Sabrina Conroy-Iglesias, 24 years old, British, fashion journalism student at Central Saint Martins, London:
Where have you lived since the beginning of the pandemic? Did you stay in the same place all the time with the same people?
I haven't left our North-West London flat at all during the pandemic, and I live with my mum, my little sister and my grandparents.
What scents do you like to smell when you feel nostalgic or a bit depressed?
The first perfume I ever used, as most other Spanish babies would understand, is this Agua de Colonia called Nenuco (I was doused in it). It's a very popular product in Spain. My grandmother would never forget to put a good spritz of it on my hair before I went to school. I still use it today and like to spray it all over my house and on my bedding. I feel peaceful when I smell Nenuco, especially during lockdown, it reminds me of more innocent times.
Is there any smell in particular that you miss since you mostly stay at home?
I miss the smell of vintage clothes, and antiques. Oh and bookshops!
Aliénor Massenet, 49 years old, French, perfume creator for Symrise, in Paris:
Where have you lived since the beginning of the pandemic?
I spent the first lockdown in the countryside, 40 kilometres away from Paris. It was a very memorable period of my life, I mean in terms of scents. I saw and smelled the blooming of spring, it was beautiful. Around April 18th, I remember that lilies-of-the-valley bloomed in the fields, and the wind was constantly bringing this smell near our house.
What scents do you like to smell when you need to feel reassured while staying at home?
It really depends… during the second lockdown, I created madeleine-scented candles, because there is a warm, delicious and comforting aspect to this smell. I didn’t want to produce them for Symrise, so I kept them for myself. I also mixed different essential oils like cinnamon, lavender, sage leaves, thyme, and lemon to inhale them before sleeping, it helps to relax. And the last thing that brings me some joy is vanilla. Sometimes when I’m cooking, I split a vanilla bean in half and I rub it on my wrist, so it stays on my skin. It reminds me of the first perfume I ever bought, a very simple vanilla water I found in Monaco.
What smell in particular do you miss since the pandemic has started?
What I miss the most is people walking in the street. When I’m walking in Parisian streets, I like to smell passers-by’s perfumes or natural body smells. Because of masks, it’s not really possible to detect those faint olfactory auras anymore. It’s sad, because it was a good way to know something personal about a complete stranger.
Werner Maïr, 24 years old, French, events and marketing coordinator in Paris:
Where have you lived since the beginning of the pandemic? Did you stay in the same place all the time with the same people?
In Paris, in my father’s house. I stayed there during the first and the second lockdowns in 2020. My dad always sprays himself with a lot with Bleu from Chanel, so I could smell him in every corner of the house every day. It was like a constant presence, it helped me to feel less lonely.
What scents do you like to smell when you feel a bit sad while staying at home?
There is one perfume in particular that I’m obsessed with: Contre Moi from Louis Vuitton. It’s my boyfriend’s perfume. I haven’t seen him since March 2020, he went back to Australia to stay with his family. This perfume smells incredibly good and also reminds me of him. So, I bought a similar one, called Fugue from Fouquet’s perfumes, with kind of the same ingredients, and I spray a bit of it every night on my bed sheets and on my pillow. It felt a bit like if my boyfriend was falling asleep with me…
What smells in particular do you miss since the pandemic has started?
Maybe my mother’s smell. She lives in my hometown, in Nancy. I don’t want to take any risks with the coronavirus so I haven’t seen her in a while. I miss her so much… She always uses Avène’s hands and body cream. I miss the whiff of clean, fresh, and sweet cream every time I hold her in my arms.
‘There should always be an essential component of beauty’
A conversation with Angelo Flaccavento on the beauty in fashion.
You’ve probably read his sharp reviews in Business of Fashion or his colourful column in Vogue Italia; and if you did, you would certainly remember what he wrote because Angelo Flaccavento is one of the most memorable voices in fashion. In the two decades since Flaccavento, 48, started his career at Dutch in Paris, he has built an international reputation for being one of the most eloquent and honest voices in fashion criticism. 'If I don’t like it, I’ll write it,' he tells me in a smooth and warm Sicilian accent over the phone.
At the time of the interview, Flaccavento had just fled Milan, where he lives part time, to return to his country home outside Ragusa, a small town in the southern-most part of Sicily, where he grew up. 'In fashion there should always be an essential component of beauty but, because it’s a canon, it becomes a constraining element. All breakout movements in fashion have emerged from questioning the classic balance of beauty,' believes Flaccavento. It is no surprise then that some of his personal favourites are the great Japanese disruptors of the ‘80s – Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto. 'Their beauty comes from the ability to make the form dialogue with the material from by adapting formal elements derived from their culture of origin,' says Flaccavento. 'In Japanese culture the dress is flat and therefore takes a shape and volume when worn by a body,' he goes on to explain. 'The brutalized and rough beauty of Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garçons, in my opinion, is a beauty given by the ability to express oneself with very few elements in a very gloomy and very direct way with the desire to provoke.'
It is no surprise that another personal favourite of Flaccavento’s is Californian designer Rick Owens, with his alien and post-apocalyptic approach to fashion. 'Rick Owens’ beauty,’ he says, ‘is a classic that went through a silicon storm on an alien planet. I see his ability to take imagery of classic beauty, of Hollywood glamour, to work on the hourglass silhouette, on the train, on elements of drama, gloves and more, and squeeze them like in a juicer.'
After hearing that these designers are among his favourites, it came as a surprise when Flaccavento said the most beautiful thing for him was a Canova statue. 'It is the most classic canon of beauty…There is a lot of agitation behind a Canova statue.' But it is not such a surprise, after all, that the avant-garde Japanese and the apocalyptic Californian designer also have a lot of agitation in their clothes. Not only does he enjoy disruptive designers, sometimes his writing can be. 'Some criticisms that I wrote in a deliberately ironic tongue on Dolce & Gabbana in Il Sole24Ore have created a moment of disagreement and, at the moment, I am still banned from their fashion shows,' he admits. The misunderstanding caused by Flaccavento’s duality in writing, as he writes both in English and his mother tongue, Italian. 'In English I am much more lashing, I go straight to the point…When I tried to use the same tone in my mother tongue, I caused gigantic problems,' says the writer. The beauty in writing in Italian for Flaccavento lies in the fact that it allows him to be more of a juggler with his readers, as he stated: 'it amuses me to take the reader by the and play ring-a-ring-a-roses with them.'
As a fashion writer, another ambivalence Flaccavento faces on the daily is the separation of personal taste and the more unbiased opinion he must express for the magazine he is writing. 'I keep it separate by always being alert to my reactions to what I see. That is, I always ask myself about the things that make me react in a strongly negative way,' he explains. Whether if it’s finding beauty in the sometimes terrifyingly brilliant and dark creations of Comme des Garçons and Yohji Yamamoto, Rick Owen’s alien sirens, or just seeing through the fact that beauty isn’t enough for fashion anymore, as it hides behind intellectualism and political correctness, the beauty in Angelo Flaccavento’s writing is that readers, or as in this case listeners, will always come out with a new perspective and appreciation for fashion – and that’s a very beautiful gift.
‘80s Casual fashion was never relegated. In fact, it’s made a striking comeback’
I won’t lie, when delving into the world of football Casuals, I thought it would be all mouth and no trousers. But boy, I was wrong – it was all about the trousers, and the tops, and the jackets. It’s a compelling story; when working-class lads founded a community, free kicks weren’t just taken on the pitch, and fashion was the key point of interest. Kitted out head-to-toe in their most expensive clothing and heading to the grounds, devotees of terrace fashion, no matter the team, found match-day a perfect excuse to get ‘suited and booted’. But of course, a Casuals’ definition of finery was a far cry from spending the monthly pay packet at a traditional Savile Row tailor. 'Suit' typically meant a grand’s worth of Italian designer outerwear, and 'boot' referred to the rarest of Adidas trainers.
Instead of being influenced by music, film and politics like other subcultures at the time, Casuals looked to the exuberant energy of the football terraces - from Anfield and Goodison to Old Trafford, Maine Road and, eventually, the rest of Britain. It was a lifestyle, not just a hobby. And despite what many Southerners think, it started in the North. Many credit Liverpool as the birthplace, others acknowledge Manchester. Although to pinpoint exactly where would be pointless. It’s a conflict as big as a team and its rivalry, what mattered was how how each football firm individualised their uniform regionally.
'I wouldn’t call it a movement,' says Neil Primmet, owner of leading sports retailer 80s Casual Classics, 'each neighbourhood stylised the looks differently. It was called "casual" in one place, "trendies" somewhere else and "new-wave" in another, it wasn’t the same anywhere.' But what was the same was the notion behind it, something the working-class still harness today, the idea that each person who desires Casual fashion, be it one piece or a wardrobe full, had a visual presentation that surpassed their assumed financial capabilities. It was, and still is, all about sartorial one-upmanship. 'In the late ‘70s, we spent our money on records, by the ‘80s we’d only spend it on clothes.' Though drinking, stealing, claiming and clubbing were all-important, obsessions with clothes trumped. Casuals would buy the ‘proper’ stuff. The alternative was ridiculed. Cheaper counterfeits were laughed at.
And so, both shoplifting and the old smash n’ grab were on the rise. The resulting image was at once aggressive, effeminate and extremely attractive.In the late ‘70s, the European success of English football clubs saw young fans travelling overseas for matches, developing a taste for foreign fashions in the process. They carried them back through baggage control in their Monte Carlo HEAD hold-alls and those left at home revelled at their continental clobber. That’s how the insatiable appetite for ‘80s sportswear began. They emerged slowly and silently. Sayonara Lord Anthony and hello Bjorn Borg. Fish-tail parkas were transformed into Fila tracksuits while Farah trousers, straight-leg Lois jeans, Sergio Tacchini polo tops, Pringle knitwear and Aquascutum shirts came onto the scene. Airwave boots were swapped for Adidas Gazelles and Borg Elite Diadoras, and everyone was clad in Burberry and Stone Island outerwear. All of which were bought or stolen, but nonetheless worn with a deep sense of communal pride. 'It was like a suit of armour when you had on the full issue,' says Phil Garner, a former ‘80s casual from Winchester. 'We weren’t marketed by the brands, we were into it because others were wearing it,' says Scott Moody, a former Southampton FC Casual. 'We loved our clothes and we’d wear the same thing every day because we couldn’t afford anything more,' he continues, standing outside of St Mary’s Stadium, his sacred ground. 'You had to be careful what you hung out on the washing line,' adds friend Sam Jones, recalling a time someone stole his ice-blue Lee cords from his own back-garden. 'The thing is, there never was any open discussion about clothes - or hair. It made it more mysterious and exciting.' Fashion was used as a contest to see who could cause the most surprise. It became all about showing off and everyone was togged up and out to impress.
But, even though the casual scene had a deep investment in designer brands and pricey sportswear, it was the stories carried within them that pushed the scene forward. Moody recalled a time he was arrested in 1985. 'A Pompey copper nicked me in the [Southampton] precinct and ripped off one of my buttons,' he says, ensuring that he was targeted because of the clothes on his back rather than him being up to no good. He could’ve sworn he was wearing a Tacchini polo, but Jones swiftly corrected him. It was a Cerruti 1881 top, because 'you could always see nipples through Cerruti tops,' Jones says, laughing. After Moody was bailed out, he got his dad to drop him back at the precinct to see if he could find it. 'I found it, and my mum sewed it back on that night,' he says, and good thing too - he later sold it for £40, a large profit considering it cost him 'nowt.'
It wasn’t until the mid-‘80s that Casual fashion became the norm. With The Face magazine publishing the first media account about the phenomena in July 1983 - documenting a five-year journey from Underground to Mainstream. In this early era of Ecstasy and raves, some of those nicknamed 'football hooligans' became regulars in the Acid House scene, separating the lovers from the fighters in their new pinged state of mind. Conflict between different factions of youths who followed different trends has been common throughout history. But a conflict between youths who followed a superior version of the same trend was a new and fascinating twist. It began to have an ever-lasting impact on the British high street. By the late ‘90s brands like Hugo Boss, Prada and Armani were producing sportswear and trainers inspired by this cultural revolution. Rather than being the attire for those who only wanted to scrap on derby day, it became much more than that. High fashion took the Casual uniform, one that was inextricably linked with football hooliganism, and turned it into a whole new ball game.
Instead of dying out, like most questionable trends from the late ‘70s, early ‘80s period (i.e. fluorescent leg warmers, perms, and acid wash jeans), Casual fashion has remained at a moderate level since; moving activewear into leisurewear. Most recently, we can thank lockdown for its re-emergence into popular culture with many bored supporters stuck at home left to live vicariously through films instead. 'The fashion came back through movies that served up a nostalgic reminder,' says Primmet. Nick Love’s The Business, The Firm and Goodbye Charlie Bright have been a few favourites mentioned by current football casual fashion stan Callum Sammon. 'I take outfit inspiration from the characters. When watching them you almost instantly get bitten by the bug!' he says.
Although it may owe to the sepia-toned images shot on the SLR cameras but, like most things in the 21st century, the casuals of today have delivered a much sleeker take. Instead of face-concealing wedge haircuts you’ve got pushed-back fades, instead of shopping at Lillywhites you’ve got specified boutiques and instead of robbing the more spenny designer pieces, there’s Depop. Back then, trainers would be hammered, beaten, worn-to-death, so you’d look like you were at the forefront of the craze. But today, in our social media-obsessed world, it’s all about keeping those rarities polished and looking like they’ve come 'phresh out of the box.' They still say, like their predecessors, that their outfits aren’t contrived, but Ethan Jeffries - a Cardiff City supporter and self-proclaimed Casual - is quick to tell me his go-to for each weather forecast. 'For sunny days, I’d grab my Stone Island cargo shorts, my Aquascutum polo shirt and my Broomfields,' he says, showing that the fashion has hardly changed over the years. 'If it’s cooler, I’d put on my Armani jeans, my Pringle sweater with the classic Fila roll neck underneath, and probably a pair of Diadoras.'
'Casual fashion isn’t and never has been driven by celebrity advertising,' says Primmet, but that isn’t the case. Although the scene was hugely navigated by the community back in the day, celebrity endorsements still played a key role. They may not have been as obvious as Kevin Keegan for Kellogs but hello? You’ve got Borg Elites, or you know, Fred Perry - inspired by our favourite ‘80s tennis stars, from which Casual fashion derived from.
Casual culture is unique in that it is entirely a product of football fans, enabling them to create a sole identity for themselves. Its legacy with the working class still remains, although the sport itself seems to have progressed. 'It’s now aimed at the richer people of society,' says Jeffries, hinting at the wealth and glamour that goes with the modern version of the sport. It may not be the same in terms of money and hooliganism but the community sure has stayed intact. The sport turns you into a member of a coterie, all mangled together for an hour and a half. A sensation that has been more than hard to come by this past year. The cheering, the thumping, the jumping on each other’s shoulders, the drums, the clangers. That feeling of escapism as you push through the turnstile into an alternative life. One that is charged with both conflict and pleasure; one that is passionate and unique in its genius.
When Andrew Logan and the Alternative Miss World gatecrashed Riga’s Untamed Fashion Assembly; Phreak looks back on the Eastern bloc’s wildest fashion festival.
When you think about Soviet fashion, what springs to mind? It probably isn’t a gigantic sculptural 'dress' fashioned from plastic shopping bags that make the wearer look like a triple hybrid of Laika the space dog, Saint Basil’s Cathedral and a matryoshka doll. Certainly not a pockmarked scrap-metal body piece adorned with a shopping cart, bullet holes and splattered blood stains. Unfortunately, what comes to mind instead is usually Constructivist-inspired simplicity of form, proletarian austerity, and, of course, babushka scarfs; those asymmetric, hideously printed dresses, ill-fitting denim and overpriced chintzy tracksuits that have infiltrated catwalks both Eastern and Western. Not to mention the whole Cyrillic font ordeal (we are looking at you, Mr. Rubchinskiy).
'It is boring! It is boring every year,' says Latvian fashion designer Bruno Birmanis. He is not easily impressed, and understandably so. After all, this is a man who organised the wildest avant- garde fashion festival in the history of the Eastern bloc. The Untamed Fashion Assembly — the Alternative Miss World of the USSR — was a theatrical, exuberant and disorganised celebration of alternative fashion. This fabulous event took place between 1990 and 1999 in Jurmala, a resort city on the Latvian Gulf of Riga, and was an outlet for fashion designers, artists, accessory designers and architects to present concept-led, explicitly non-commercial garments. Some put their models in armour, made out of old vinyl records. Others designed a rough precursor to Viktor & Rolf’s frame dresses. A closer look at these spectacular garments and one would see that they were fashioned from bedsheets, paper, trashy fabrics from Soviet markets, and — in some cases — literally, rubbish.
Burnel Penhaul (AKA the Transformer) — dressed up as Miss Gale-Force Wind — was chased around Riga’s cobbled streets, and real-life Indian Swami monks performed in their marvellous robes. 'I mean, where else would that happen? Only at the Untamed Fashion Assembly,' says Andrew Logan, who staged 'orgasmic' presentations of handcrafted jewellery at the Assembly. The legendary sculptor, jeweller, performer and the host of Alternative Miss World was invited to Riga shortly after his performance at the Soviet Centre in Moscow. Intrigued, he embarked on a journey to the unknown ('I did not know what was going on, but that’s most of my life, really'). Phyllis Cohen’s ad-hoc make-up masterclasses, Andrey Bartenev’s Botanical Ballet, pillow gowns and duvet coats, garish sculptural garments from students of Vilnius Academy of Art — even Logan, organiser of the world’s most irreverent beauty pageant, was wowed by the designers’ ingenuity and resourcefulness.
'I was brought up on DIY, so the Untamed Fashion Assembly was very much my scene,' says Scarlett Cannon. The notorious Blitz kid, gender-bending style icon, artist, model and all-around muse who hosted Cha Cha Club with Judy Blame and Michael Hardy in the 80s, assisted Logan at the time, overseeing the choreography of the sculptor’s elaborate spectacles for Riga’s fashion extravaganza. 'People didn’t have a lot of stuff at their fingertips, which made it even more impressive,' she adds.
It is fair to say that the Assembly was out of tune with the values of Soviet Latvia, where the fashion industry was limited more or less to the production of necessities. Forget today’s hundred-metre queues for Supreme drops. In empty-shelved department stores, people queued for hours, waiting for the chance to obtain badly made, poorly designed and overpriced basics. Those few who could afford to splurge a months’ salary to meet their sartorial needs had their clothes custom-made at Rigas Modes. In short, ‘90s Latvia — still very much in the shadow of the Iron Curtain — provided no fertile ground for alternative fashion to thrive on. So, how did 20-something-year-old Bruno Birmanis manage to pull this outlandish event oﬀ? Or rather, why?
‘Lights, Camera, Sew!’
Talking to Lis Evans, Head of Costume Design for the New Vic Theatre, I got to find out lots of interesting facts about what it takes to design costumes for characters.
From princess to pirate, superhero to villain, and fairy to troll, a costume is what makes a character come to life. Close your eyes and imagine what your favourite character is wearing. It could be Elsa with her icy blue dress and delicate cape covered in sparkling snow, or Captain America in his red, white and blue, bulletproof uniform with his shield beside him. Now can you imagine what that character would be like if they didn’t have their costume?
The role of a costume designer is so important because it gives your favourite character the ability to do what they do and be who they are!
Lis Evans is the costume designer for the New Vic Theatre, which means that she designs all of the costumes for the actors who get cast in plays. A lot of those actors are children like you! She told me that she has to think about 'the actors body shape, their height, their looks, and how they work with the character they’ve been given.'
I asked Lis Evans what her favourite costume was that she designed, and she said 'I loved The Borrowers. They’re tiny people who lived under the floorboards, so we had tiny little puppets, and then the actors wearing the same costume as the puppet! We made the objects really big too, so we had a giant safety pin and a huge cheese grater.' The costumes made the characters come to life. How do you think The Borrowers would have made their clothes? Lis thought they would take scraps of a handkerchief that had fallen on the ground, or even bits of rubbish, so she went to Birmingham Rag Market, a place that sells lots of different fabrics and materials, to find some patterns! Lis told me that her favourite was from a China plate. 'We made a pure white costume that was very stiff and then we painted all the designs onto it like an old fashioned China plate, which was so fun.'
Lis has worked on lots of plays, turning normal actors into flowers, chess pieces, animals and even birds of paradise through costume design! Wind in the Willows is a play with animal characters, so she used hats and ears and tails to make actors look like hedgehogs, rabbits and frogs. Lis said that 'for the birds of paradise costume, the fabric was printed with a pattern I designed on both sides, so that when the actors’ arms went up and down, they had beautifully bright wings.'
When you are working in a theatre, there are so many different people around and it can be very exciting. Actors work with musicians, directors, designers, costume makers, and other actors making it buzz with joy and adventure! Normally, there’s a huge mirror in the fitting room where the actor can try on their costume and swish the fabric around to walk, talk, and get into character. Lis Evans told me that she shows the actor images and then they have a costume fitting where they try on their costume and she makes sure it fits them really well. She is trying to work out the shapes, lengths and textures of the costume.
When you’re a costume designer it’s important that you do your research. You have to know whether the character would have worn what you’re designing, so Lis Evans’ advice is to 'get drawing! Collect images of things that you like. When I was your age, I got lots of scrapbooks and stuck in pictures of clothes that I loved. Also, make sure you get reading too. There are so many interesting ways of understanding costume through words.' Creating costumes is like making a fashion collection. Every season is different, just like every play so it’s so important to get your creative juices flowing. I’m excited to see what you create!
'The Life and Legacy of Luza’
Through delicate lines and fabulous silhouettes, the Peruvian illustrator captured the elegance and beauty of 1930s fashion. Voz reminisces on the work of the multifaceted artist.
Reynaldo Luza is amongst the select group of Peruvians who have had a huge impact on worldwide fashion. But you probably hadn’t heard of him until now. It was only five years ago that I became aware of his work and immense contribution to fashion publications between the 1920s and 1950s. I was sitting on the floor of the Central Saint Martin’s library going through the Harper’s Bazaar archive, when suddenly in the November 1940 issue I came across a story titled ‘An Artist Collects the Native Fashions of South America.’ That artist was Reynaldo Luza. I was intrigued, to say the least. Having travelled from Lima to London to have this exact issue of Harper’s Bazaar open on page 76 in front of me felt serendipitous. Seeing a fellow Peruvian have such an impact on an industry I was barely dipping my toes in gave me a strange sense of security. He had been there to see it all, he had lived through it all, and he had kept a record of it all in the form of illustrations, photographs, paintings, and writing.
Luza’s nephew, Carlos Garcia Montero Luza, recalls the first memory he has of his uncle was when he visited Peru for the inauguration of the International Airport of Limatambo, which he had been commissioned to decorate. 'He came to my parent’s house and that is when I had a close look at him,' Garcia Montero Luza tells me. 'A 45-year-old man, dressed in a light-coloured linen jacket, a pastel pink shirt [and a] colourful tie. Hair combed with gel, very tall and cheerful… he talked about New York, smoked Lucky Strikes — which he kept in a golden cigarette case and lit with a beautiful lighter — [and] he drank whisky with ice… he looked like a movie star and dominated the scene. [He was] a cosmopolitan cultured man. He was a winner.'
In 1978, a few months after Reynaldo Luza’s death, Carlos Garcia Montero Luza was told by a friend of Luza, Luis Alberto Sanchez, that he had been working on a book where he shared his memories of fashion throughout the 1910s until the late 1940s, a period he had described to his nephew as 'the best years of his life.' In the book, he talked about the most talented designers, illustrators, and artist of the time — most of which he had met and some of which were his close friends. The series of written drafts was recovered and published in 2015 by his nephew and grandnephew Carlos Garcia Montero Protzel —who works as an art consultant and curator— with the help of the editorial group COSAS and the backing of the BCP (Credit Bank of Peru). Two more books were published in 2016 and 2017 as part of the collection, featuring his unseen photography and his paintings.
Luza’s intention when writing the memoirs was to keep a record of some of the greatest years in fashion of which there was little left. 'He decides to write them during his last trip to Europe, where he encountered that the past he knew no longer existed. Many of his renowned friends had died, others were impoverished, or had simply disappeared,' says Garcia Montero Luza, 'in contrast, Reynaldo Luza was at his prime in Peru. He was deeply moved by this. It made him very melancholic.' When flipping through the pages of the trilogy of books Luza’s immense talent is palpable. His attention to detail and ability to capture the elegance transmitted by the garments made his illustrations more than mere records. This is evident when looking at the exquisite silhouettes he portrayed and through his use of thin and carefully placed lines. Luza was able to capture the essence not only of what the designers created but of the women these creations were made for.
'These memories begin in 1911 when I hadn’t yet turned 18,' writes Luza. The artist was leaving Lima to study architectural engineering at the Catholic University of Lovaina in Belgium. Previously, in his native city, he had already worked as an illustrator for select magazines and most importantly he had been the winner of a drawing contest judged by Julio Málaga Grenet. Luza won the chance to exhibit his work alongside fellow Peruvian Málaga Grenet’s, 'Imagine what it does for a 17-year-old artist to exhibit his work alongside one of the century’s most renowned Latin American artist,' comments Garcia Montero Protzel. Luza had not only gained immense notoriety within Peru but also had a glimpse into what life as a successful artist could look like.