An Interview with Ego Soleil’s Founder, Del Addison

Daniel Preston

Getting started in the fashion industry is a daunting experience, one that many fresh graduates fear to pursue. It can be a lucrative business, but making that first step towards establishing your own brand will always prove a formidable threshold needed to be crossed. We recently sat down with the founder of Ego Soleil, Del Addison (MBA ’15), to discuss his recent successes and his troubled road there. Now an internationally regarded fashion label, Ego Soleil has blossomed as a brand with a unique mission, philanthropic passion, and pioneering designs. 

 

 

Daniel Preston: Would you mind telling me a little bit about your brand, Ego Soleil?

Del Addison: We started Ego Soleil back in 2012 and my initial goal was to create a brand that would disrupt the way fashion is approached. Our first collection was relatively small and centered around the core elements of the brand: unique colors, innovative fabrics, and a relatively relaxed fit. Our 2012 Spring/Summer collection didn't take off as well as we were expecting as we were a new brand and we were still learning. Because of that, we decided to take a break for Fall/Winter of that year and launched a much stronger collection for Spring/Summer 2013. That is when we started to get more attention and more traction — but still not enough to propel the brand where we needed it to be. As we began to try new things and explore new designs in the following collections, we needed to find our place — to find our voice so to speak. But, at that point we were focusing on the designs too much and not enough on our marketing strategy which set us back once again. After we took a year off to regroup, we have relaunched the brand completely and are much better positioned then we were several years prior. We are doing much better in terms of marketing while still staying true to what the core of the brand is. 

DP: What is the significance of the name Ego Soleil?

DA: Growing up in New York and being around the big city, I wanted to position the brand as something big and grand. That’s how “ego” was born. It alluded the darker side of the brand — the bolder colors, the deeper hues. This is balanced by a lighter, brighter side — the “soleil" side. Soleil is French for sun, the biggest star in our universe, relating it back to the ego. But the sun is still bright, reflecting our vibrant patterns and invigorating color palettes. 

DP: Your brand is split between New York, Los Angeles, and London—how has each place and culture inspired your collections?

DA: New York is home. LA is a city I frequent. When I want to slow down or have a little bit of Hollywood, I spend some time in LA and when I want to get dapper, I head to London for a little bit more sophistication. Right now, we have a designer in LA, who designs the full range. We also have a designer in London who advises on what trends are being seen in Europe. We try to fuse these inspirations together to create something very unique and very different. The majority of our production is in LA at the moment, however we’ve recently been looking at places in New York. This is not only because real estate has gone down, but because our connections to better fabrics have become more prevalent. Meanwhile, most of the collaborations for our brand will be stemming out of London. We just did a collaboration with Samantha Warren, who is based out of London, and already has a well established brand. 

DP: How did that collaboration with Samantha Warren come together? How did you find her?

DA: Our designer in London used to work with Samantha. When she showed me her portfolio, I was wildly impressed. I liked her style, I liked her aesthetic, and I felt that she could do something great for us. 

DP: On a similar note of collaboration, your recent launch of the Spring/Summer 2017 collection at the New York Soho House partnered with Style Saves. How did you come across this philanthropy and what drove your decision to partner with them?

DA: I’ve known Rachel Russell, who runs Style Saves for a number of years, and I’ve always wanted to do a collaboration with her. I didn’t want to build a brand just to sell it. I wanted to give the brand a mission. I want to position the brand in order to make a difference. 

DP: In an age of fast fast fashion, do you think there is a social responsibility for the fashion industry as a whole to give back to local communities?

DA: I believe that in every business there needs to be some sort of responsibility for a number of things. In the fashion industry, sometimes it is difficult to attribute an entire garment based on what you see on the label. Yes, the garment might be made in the United States but where does the fabric come from? The thread? It is things like that which make identifying a sustainable brand challenging. But the short answer to that is yes, we should be concerned with fair treatment across the spectrum. That is why we believe in our made in New York brand. Yes, prices might be higher but you know the people you're working with and they aren't working in deplorable conditions or they are protected by fair laws. What is really painful is when people are oblivious to working conditions and are solely in pursuit for the lowest priced product. 

DP: Building off of that, how do you, as a brand, successfully manage a hybrid of affordability and quality?

DA: As a brand, we’ve been paying close attention to our product choices and the mills we work with. We believe there’s a number of ways that you can maintain quality and still provide a good product at a reasonable price. It’s about not trying to do too much. Sometimes you don't need to go with 100% silk, but with a better alternative. For us, quality is always at the forefront and something we will not compromise on. 

Second Annual Fashion Speaks Gala

Daniel Preston

They say all roads lead to Rome. For Pietro Beccari, that might be true. For the rest of us, we can say all roads lead to fashion. The degree you pursue at university doesn’t matter, it is a passion for design, dedication, and couture that will propel you forward in the fashion industry. At least, that is the shared sentiment expressed by five Cornell alumni, who are among the industry’s most provocative examples of dedicated and motivated individuals, who spoke at the Fashion Speaks Gala this past Saturday evening.

It was an evening of luxury for the room of attendees as the eponymous organization, Careers in the Fashion Industry (CIFI), hosted their second annual gala to facilitate the engagement between professionals in the fashion industry and students interested in pursuing a similar career. This year, panelist shared their career experiences and responsibilities through their daily routines, always returning to the influence of their roots here at Cornell. “It is necessary to understand that no matter the degree you pursue at university, you can find it in the fashion industry: market research, strategy, social media, design, and customer experience” remarks Monica Johnsrud ’07, designer at Shoshanna, as she expressed her beliefs on the universality of the career.

Johnsrud, wasn’t the only powerful figure at the table. Cori Galpern ‘97 of Tom Ford International, Brittany Lutz ‘12, Senior Analyst of Omnichannel Customer Experience at Bloomingdales, José Chan ‘93, entrepreneur and businessman and Misha Pinkhasov ‘96, notable author and strategist, accompanied her. Together, their lengthy resume and invaluable contributions to the design community is a tribute to the commitment of CIFI to inspire, motivate, and engage with this year’s attendees.

While the morning of the panelists may drag on forever, their afternoons chaotic, and their post coffee, pre dinner break exhausting, they all touch on the common thread that ties them together. Laughing amongst themselves they agree this thread is the evening cocktail, but in reality their dedication to fashion and the luxury industry is what propels them to the forefront of their career. 

Design Development: Decrypted

Alexandra Clement

At his Spring 2015 presentation in September of 2014, Elie Tahari unveiled a dress adorned with 50 functioning iPhones. This look, and other costume-esque pieces of the same genre, kicked off a global discussion about the role of technology in fashion. But as is the case in most works of art, the physical representation of a design is a statement, an interpretation of a much larger phenomenon or idea. Putting technology on display as part of a garment merely symbolizes the function of underlying mechanics and processes and foreshadows the evolution of the role that science will play in the fashion industry.

The darting eyes of the ever-watchful media have settled upon the most relevant influence on the future of fashion—the only other industry that evolves at such a rapid pace: technology. From sketching designs on digital tablets to laser cutting fabric; three dimensional scanning measurements to 3D printing shoes; technology is no longer a stylistic choice for the more daring of designers but a constant that permeates the entirety of the design, production, marketing and consumer process.

Methods such as laser cutting have become common at all tiers of brands. This process draws upon mathematics and computational strategy to eliminate human error in precision cutting and pattern making. Greta Ohaus, senior Fiber Science and Apparel Design major, has used laser cutting in her own work, for two main purposes: functional and decorative. Beyond the basic cutting of pattern pieces, says Ohaus, “You can add extravagant cut-outs to a fabric, you can emboss, you can make thousands of layers of fringe,” all using laser technology. This technique is only one of many in the design process operating upon technological foundations. Two fields distinctly separate—art and science—blur together via the common thread of innovation.

Andrew Bolton, head curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, wanted to emphasize the entire designing process for this year’s Met Gala. The exhibit recognizes the fundamental role of technology in fashion and society in the theme of the first Monday in May’s event: Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology. The exhibit is organized in such a way that focuses on the chronological stages of design. As one walks the material layout of the exhibition, they follow a path through history, into the current era of innovation, and toward the future of fashion.

According to a recent Vogue article, Bolton’s inspiration was actually a realization that fashion has been inseparable from technology since the dawn of the sewing machine. Once that particular piece of machinery was perfected, haute couture was born. Viewed objectively, the common descriptor of couture, “hand-made”, is a misnomer, as technology in the form of a foot pedal and automated needle and thread is always involved.

Just as fashions fade out, are replaced, and come back into style, so will couture and unique pieces come full circle. Fast fashion, the mass production and disposability on the shelves of H&M, ASOS, and the like, will soon make way to “slow fashion,” according to Nancy Tilbury, co-founder and director of Studio XO, a London company operating “at the intersection of science, technology, fashion and music”, in the documentary film The Next Black. Slow fashion is a result of consumers investing in their clothing and keeping it for longer periods of time. Tilbury sees a future in which clothing can be edited post production, like “tumblr for the body,” to quell the desire of generation digital to constantly change their wardrobe, as a remix culture emerges.

Sophie Mather, former head of innovation at Nike Asia, sees possibilities not yet possible: garments that preserve dyes and materials by using light reflection to portray color and pattern, like a butterfly’s intricate wing pattern. This focus on sustainability is not uncommon in today’s pioneers. “We’re not happy with ‘x’ percent less,” says Mather. “We want zero.”

Another field of research combining fashion and science strays from the mechanical and focuses on a topic much more basic: biology. Using only green tea, sugar, vinegar and a starting culture, Suzanne Lee started “brewing” fabric-like material in her bathroom. This material takes on the shape of its container and can be dyed, laser cut and sewed. Lee, fashion designer turned biological experimenter, aims to reduce the waste of “old world practices” and one day grow clothes directly into their final form. The possibilities of this kind of production are limitless--the bacteria can be manipulated to be waterproof or contain certain nutrition that can be absorbed into the skin. Bio materials may one day replace the plastics used in 3D printing, creating fully biodegradable garments. Lee says there is “no time for [research and development] in fashion,” but she and visionaries like her understand that you have to look beyond what’s fashionable, even 50 years so, to prepare for the next big idea.

The consumer themselves also use technology in their fashion pursuits. Surfing the web is now passé, and there is more onus on the producer to market directly to each shopper. This practice is manifested in the use of Instagram. Sponsored posts, a term attempting to dissociate from “advertisement”, are not even the most prominent form of social media influence brands utilize. The real marketing happens in interaction with other Instagram users, tagged posts of popular accounts and reception of customer feedback and ideas.

Business of Fashion writer Vikram Alexei Kansara sums up the importance of social media: “Today, success is less about paying for ad pages in a magazine and more about earning attention by nurturing the dominant media-technology platforms where consumers spend time.” Kansara spoke to Eva Chen, Instagram’s head of fashion partnerships, who identified the new principles of online marketing. “It’s not a number game” anymore, she says. More important factors include engagement, brand identity, authenticity, community, and collaboration with “natives,” or laypersons on Instagram. These guidelines focus on connecting with consumers on a real level, versus using reputations of popular Instagram users to increase fashion brands’ followers.

The success of such strategies is apparent. Following New York Fashion Week and until the Paris events, between February 10th and March 9th, ten percent of Instagram users—42 million people—had almost 300 million interactions related to the last round of women’s fashion shows. “A picture is worth a thousand words,” says Chen, “and now a picture can speak to millions of people.”

As noted in The Future of Fashion, a film by fashion magazine i-D, ten years ago, a model at a go-see waited four minutes for her Polaroid to develop. Today, in that same amount of time, Gigi Hadid can take a photograph, edit it, post to Instagram, and have it shared globally. One day, perhaps not that far off, a garment can be photographed, shared, viewed, and reproduced ten thousand miles away. All in those four minutes.

The fashion industry is not known for following societal trends, but for starting them. As innovators prioritize social responsibility and design for a future of health and environmental initiatives, for once, it’s the tech world that needs to keep up.

The Boyz are Back

AND THEY'RE MAKING NOISE

Elena Jiao

Aidan Shiller, the lifelong fashion addict, David Wild and Mark Colbran, the more recent converts, compose what we know today as the renowned FSAD Boyz. As a male minority in a female majority -- the gender makeup of the Cornell fashion program is representatively the inverse of the international fashion industry -- the squad ‘FSAD Boyz’ came about in a mix of solidarity and humor. This segregation spontaneously brought about many difficulties, including homosexual stereotyping and gender norms, but particularly in properly expressing ideas.

Shiller explains the challenges: "It's difficult for clubs that we're involved with that are related to the department, but also to the course load. Everything has pretty much female fashion in mind.” Shiller explains when the department is working on projects, “it's hard to connect your personal interest in menswear, when you're having to do female clothing." The Boyz found their outlet in this year’s collection.

In SZN 2, the Boyz collaboratively designed over 150 sketches, ultimately narrowing down to the six designs in this collection. Rather than making minor adjustments throughout the creative process, such as changing a color or a stitch, each design is concrete and thoroughly thought-out in advance. The painstaking critiques and meticulous crafting bring us the SZN 2 collection showcased at the Cornell Fashion Collective 32nd Annual Fashion show.

Consisting of four looks in menswear and two in womenswear, this year’s FSAD Boyz collection focuses on exploring the lines between mass-produced apparel and couture. This is manifested in the approach of purchasing apparel items from second hand stores, deconstructing and reconstructing them to create something more. Colbran remarks, “The whole process was just freedom and fun, and not being limited to a garment-shape that should fit in a certain box or category. Using materials we’ve never used, imagining things, and the struggles of figur[ing] out how to make them happen -- this experimentation was what drove the physical creation of the collection.”

The ‘Shoekini’, favored by Colbran and Wild, exemplifies the struggles and adaptation in trial and error. Converting rigid men’s shoe leather to match the form-fitting stretch of conventional swimsuits required the trio to be innovative in their material manipulation. Whether they used a car to run over the shoes to flatten, soaked them in boiling water to soften, or experimented with different machines that could handle thick leather, the Boyz exhausted every idea imaginable.This exploration of eccentric methods brought about the beautifully crafted, well-fitted leather bikini exhibited this year.

SZN 2 comprises the conventional play between material and fashion. Rather than a specific idea for the audience to leave with, the floor is instead left open for thought. The collection focuses on the positive energy of experimentation and enjoyment, as well as grasping the attention of the audience and, as a result, exchanging feedback and ideas.  “Fashion is serious, but there’s time to have fun,” explained Wild. “The point of the collection was to have fun; we didn’t want our models to be stern about everything, we wanted them to have fun too--a fun for everybody.”

Although the Boyz are pursuing their own independent projects and design works, there is no doubt a SZN3 to look forward to. While Colbran and Wild will be designing abroad from Paris and London, respectively, Shiller will be studying in Ithaca, making it work. “While it’s important to be able to take critique from others”, advise the Boyz, “never let anyone stop you until you get arrested -- make as much noise as you can.” We hear them loud and clear.

The Fashion Week Guide to Layering

Hansika Iyer

The Fashion Week Guide to Layering:

3°F. No your weather app is not joking. Winter is upon us and although Ithaca has been forgiving this year, any temperature below 75o calls for weather-related outfit drama. Yes, we are told to bundle up in thermals and multiple sweaters. We slip on our chunky scarves and pom pom hats, topping everything with a puffy black coat only to arrive at class and spend six minutes stripping the various layers off. After sitting in lecture for the remaining 49 minutes, uncomfortably surrounded by our various coats and cardigans, we proceed to throw on the layers in the fastest way possible and scurry out of the lecture hall in our Eskimo garb. Layering is our friend for keeping warm but layering is not always our friend when it comes to style. With frigid temperatures in New York City for Fashion Week, fashion’s best were forced out of their strappy stilettos and decorative blazers and into....into more fashionable clothing? Yes, it is possible to stay warm and cozy while dressing in fashion. From fashion’s best editors and it-girls, here is the official Fashion Week Guide to Layering.

1. But First, Pants (or Tights)
I know that wool skirt in your closet you bought on a whim at J.Crew is calling you. It’s telling you that it needs to be worn today, the 12o plus windchill day where you have class in Stocking Hall, that building so far away that most of us don’t know it exists. While the urge to stay stylish and show off your desirable knees from underneath said wool skirt may be overwhelming, don’t leave the house with exposed ankles or knees. I know, you think that the few inches of exposed skin will survive the bitter cold. No outfit is worth suffering. If you insist, slip on a pair of fleece-lined leggings underneath and be on your way. But please, wear some pants/jeans/leggings/tights/culottes...Just do it.

2. That’s Why It’s Called Sweater Weather
Rapid-fire ways to style sweaters: Slouchy cardigan + button down shirt + flared jeans, sweater tunic + leggings + menswear-inspired vest, cropped crew + maxi skirt + oversized denim jacket, cutout hoodie + contrasting sports bra + track pants, lace full-sleeve tee + short sleeved sweater + high-waisted trousers, sweater leggings + neoprene sweatshirt + your favorite t-shirt

3. Coats: There’s More to Life Than Your One Puffy Parka
The sign of winter is not, as most assume, the falling of snow but more likely the hoards of students outfitted in fur-trimmed hoods and black puffer coats. If you feel that your coat is a little bland, try layering a long vest underneath for a swirl of fabric peeking out at the bottom. If you are in the market for a new coat, try a bold statement coat that will keep you warm and also help you stand out amongst the dreary winter coats of everyone else.

4. How To: Scarves
Infinity. Blanket. Poncho. Fringe. Square. Bandanna. There are a million ways to tie scarves. Count them yourself if you don’t believe me. Winter scarves are meant to keep you warm but they can also add texture and color to an outfit. A giant checked scarf draped across your shoulders makes a statement when walking across the arts quad and also doubles as a blanket for your chilly CS lecture. Scarves are the perfect accessory to experiment with. Not sure yellow is your color? A cashmere scarf in butter yellow might just be the pop of color you need to remind you that summer exists.

5. The Turtleneck Is Your Friend
My lifelong opposition towards turtlenecks has been defeated by the need to 1) keep my neck warm and 2) stay in the fashion loop. Although I claimed that turtlenecks are itchy and suffocating, they successfully keep your jugulars cozy. Turtlenecks are the Swiss-Army-Knives of layering. Wear them under a button-down for a Vogue editor vibe or pair a sleeveless turtleneck crop top with jeans for a night out. A turtleneck dress may just be the perfect business casual outfit you need for your next meeting. The four inches of your neck that are now kept warm will thank you for the fashion statement.

Style of the Day

Elena Jiao

The brutal Ithaca winter is finally clearing up, with the temperature increasing to positive digits. We can thankfully put those puffy down jackets and snowboots to rest.

Having said that, with leftover snow waiting to melt and without nature in bloom,  Spring isn’t exactly here either. It’s still just a bit too early, and too cold, to pull out the pastel floral dresses.

Katie Roscoe (CALS/AAP ‘19) shows us how to dress during this in-between state of Winter and Spring, rocking an effortlessly chic look.

Roscoe pairs a cobalt blue faux leather moto jacket with a cream destroyed turtleneck. The vegan jacket adds the perfect pop of color, eliciting the liveliness of Spring without going over the top: “this color really stood out compared to the classic black”

She keeps the bottom simple with a pair of navy bootcut jeans and suede ankle booties.

To not take away from the eye catching statement jacket, Roscoe kept bracelets to the minimum, with a slim Kappa Delta bangle and an oversized tortoiseshell watch.

Jewelry is also kept simple with a golden stud accompanied by a pair of classic pearl earrings.

Roscoe remarks “my favorite part of my outfit is definitely the jacket! Moto jackets have always been trending, but this color really stood out to me compared to the classic black.”

I absolutely love the entire look! This fashion-forward outfit is perfect for both a brunch with friends and strutting to class. Hope this has helped inspired your wardrobe choices during these winter blues.

Outfit
Jacket: Greenwich Village, NYC
Sweater: Free People
Bottom: 7 For All Mankind
Shoes: House of Harlow 1960

Accessories
Earrings: Kate Spade
Watch: Michael Kors

No Man’s Land: A New Normal in an Age of Androgyny

In April of 2011, following the recent release of his fifth studio album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West took the stage at The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival to deliver what would eventually become known as one of the greatest hip-hop sets of all time. Hovering above the churning crowd on elevated platform overlooking the stage, West seemed at once ethereal and apprehensive; his performance at Coachella marked the end of a very public fall from grace, including a string of uninspiring shows and a debacle involving Taylor Swift at the 2009 VMAs shocking enough to make even the savviest PR maven shudder. West, having been deposited safely back on terra firma, glided through the crowd to the main stage amidst riotous applause wearing a pair of faded blue jeans and a flowing silk top that looked an awfully lot like the one Phoebe Philo sent down the runway for Céline’s spring collection earlier that year. The following morning, the blogosphere confirmed it: yes, Kanye West was wearing a woman’s blouse.

Later that year, West would also release Watch the Throne, a collaborative studio album made alongside his longtime mentor Jay Z. In the subsequent tour for the album, West often appeared on stage in head-to-toe black wearing a leather skirt from Givenchy. West, however, was not the first musician to experiment with the boundaries of gendered dress in his on-stage performances. Mick Jagger famously wore a ruffled white smock with a bow-laced front for the 1969 Rolling Stones’ Hyde Park Concert, and David Bowie, appearing on the cover of The Man Who Sold the World just a year later, was photographed wearing a cream gown with vivid blue detailing in an outfit that would only hint at the later exuberance of his glam rock persona, Ziggy Stardust. West was not so adventurous. Underneath his skirt, he wore a matching pair of black leather pants.

Hip hop has a storied history of forging new fashion frontiers. West, in particular, has a notorious knack for predicting movements in the mores of men’s dress with a prescience that often borders on the prophetic. In March of this past year, Young Thug, the 24-year-old Atlanta-based rapper, was featured in CR Fashion Book, a glossy magazine published by Carine Roitfeld, a former editor of Vogue Paris, wearing a curated collection of women's tops in an editorial entitled “Pretty Young Thug”. Thugger, the noted clothing enthusiast’s cognomen of choice, was recently quoted as saying he wears almost exclusively women’s clothing, because their slim cut better suits his wiry frame. Appearing in the pages of Dazed just a few months ago wearing a sheer tulle dress, Young Thug mean-mugged for the camera and lent the same sense of wild insouciance that has come to define his music to the clothing he wore in the pages of the magazine.

If you told Young Thug his sui-generis sense of style represented a significant shift in the way men dress, years in the making, he would probably cough and then laugh wildly through a dense fog of smoke, dismissing the notion that he represented anything momentous just as ably as he would flick away the burnt end of a blunt. But it’s true; Thugger, along with other like-minded members of his generational cohort, including Jaden Smith, that enigmatic capturer of tweeted zeitgeist, who wore a white skirt and black blazer to prom, are seriously changing the way men relate to the previously rigid boundaries of gendered dress. So much so, in fact, that when Alessandro Michele, the newly appointed creative director of Gucci, sent his debut men’s collection down the runway this past fall, critics raved about what Tim Blanks, writing for Style.com, referred to as the “droopy, androgynous languor of the show and its blurred gender divide”, which, translated into clothes, meant stock-tied blouses in chiffon and slinky lace tops, and even the occasional female model. At Burberry this past summer, models wore delicate shirts made out of fine lace that perfectly offset the implied masculinity of the strong-shouldered suits layered over them. Under Hedi Slimane, the controversial creative director of Saint Laurent Paris, the house that Yves built was transformed into a brand now defined by the grungy androgyny of its rock ‘n’ roll-inspired collections, which are often modelled by waifish, lanky, barely-legal teens of both sexes, typically with long, flowing hair and an affected aura of druggy cool. Slimane, who made a name for himself designing shockingly skinny, hyper-sexualized menswear for Dior, and happened to dress David Bowie for his 2002 Heathen tour, is widely credited with effecting a paradigm shift in menswear, away from the ultra-masculine baggy excesses of the late 90s and towards the slim silhouettes of the early aughts. That artists like Young Thug can today wear women’s clothing and rap just as convincingly about doing “a lot of shit just to live this here lifestyle” without being criticized for being disingenuous, or “not real”, in the more scathing slang of hip hop phraseology, is in no small way a testament to the changing mores of men’s fashion, and, in particular, the acceptance of androgyny not as anomalous but as the norm.

It’s not for nothing that designers like Craig Green and Jonathan Anderson, both considered to be two of menswear’s best and brightest rising stars, are also two of the most experimental when it comes to consistently pushing the boundaries of gendered dress to the very outermost limits of commercial salability, oftentimes adding an air of androgyny to more staid menswear staples, like the oversized shawl collar coat Anderson showed in his latest collection or the funnel-neck crop top Green showed in his. Andreja Pejec, the Australian transgender model, who walked the runway for Anderson and Jean-Paul Gaultier, the OG, if you will, of gender-bending design, initially began her career as Andrej Pejec, a male model whose unusually androgynous look caught the eye of industry insiders across the globe. Pejec, who was dubbed the “Prettiest Boy in the World” by New York magazine in 2011, is described in the article of the same name as having “flawless and poreless” skin with an “English-rose luster”, “mussed blonde locks” and a height of six-foot-one, but “thin as the stroke of a paintbrush”. “If he were not a man”, the article, which was published before Pejec’s transition, states, “he would be the most beautiful woman” ever seen in the flesh.

The term “androgyny”, from the Latin androgynus, (derived from the ancient Greek word-stems andr-, meaning man, and gyne, meaning woman) is not the exclusive domain of fashion industry avant-gardism. The New York Times has reported since as early as 2009 that the gradual breakdown of gender boundaries has resulted in a generation that scoffs at the formerly sacrosanct confines of the gender binary and dresses itself accordingly, mixing and matching men’s tailored clothing with flared women’s trousers, or embracing trends that were typically considered exclusively masculine or feminine like no other generation before. In 2012, The Times again explored the ever-evolving topic of gender fluidity, in a magazine article entitled “What’s So Bad About a Boy Who Wants to Wear a Dress?”, which describes some of the difficulties, as well as some of the delights, of being a young, gender-nonconforming child. As societal values shift to become more aware and accepting of these important gender issues, the fashion industry will surely follow suit, making clothes of the type designed by Green and Anderson less experimental and more de rigueur.

Earlier this year, Kanye West debuted “Yeezy Season One”, a clothing collection made in collaboration with the German apparel giant Adidas. The collection, comprised of grungy, post-apocalyptic active wear in the likes of Helmut Lang and Raf Simons, represented the culmination of West’s decade-long struggle to be treated as a serious figure within the fashion industry. Although reviews for the line were mixed, the collection was notable for its wholehearted embrace of androgyny; West has said that the entire line was designed with the intention for all the clothes to be worn just as easily by members of both sexes. West, though often criticized as a designer for being distractingly derivative, tends to exert an extraordinary influence over the menswear masses. Put more succinctly, the man moves merchandise. That’s not to say that West’s forays into fashion have always been successful -- a particularly disastrous debut designing a short lived women’s collection comes to mind -- but it does mean that when West commits to a certain aesthetic he does so methodically, in a manner more calculating than it may seem. That West would incorporate androgyny so obviously into a collection he worked so hard to realize speaks to the societal shift in the way people perceive gender, and the way designers have responded in kind. Still, society is far from finished shifting. On Hypebeast, an online fashion forum known for its particularly fanatical fan-base, a post recapping the looks from the show received over 150 comments. One guest, posting anonymously, wrote: “Kanye I love you......but this shit is so fucking bad”.

On the night of October 23rd, “Yeezy Season One” went on sale unannounced on the website of the Italian retailer G&B Negozi. Despite the buzz surrounding West’s design debut, many critics had voiced confusion over the genderless nature of the clothing, and expressed concern about the actual commercial appeal of the collection. Would West’s progressiveness translate into profits? Would the androgynous nature of the collection rocket “Yeezy Season One” beyond the realm of attainable avant-gardism and instead end up alienating even West’s most fervent followers? Many of the items listed online were some of the more experimental pieces from the collection, including a slouchy, semi-sheer sweater priced at almost $2,000, and a fur coat with a price tag of equally astronomical proportions. It’s hardly difficult to imagine the success of West’s collection as a sort of litmus test for society’s gradual acceptance of the androgynous, at least on an aesthetic level. Was West once again just a bit too far ahead of the curve?

A search for “Yeezy” on the G&B website now yields no results. By the early morning of October 24th, the entire collection had sold out.

Oscar de la Renta

Hansika Iyer

Taking over a legendary fashion house is risky business. When Oscar de la Renta passed away late last year, he left his brand in the hands of Peter Copping, who left his position as artistic director of Nina Ricci. In his short time as creative director, Copping has maintained the integrity of Oscar de la Renta yet he has provided his own flair to the brand.

Last year’s Spring/Summer collection featured floral, girly ensembles in Spring pastels.

This year, Copping translated de la Renta’s love for Madrid and Hispanic culture into colorful, elegant designs. Carnations, de la Renta’s favorite flower, were featured on the seats of the attendees as well as on the dresses on the runway. Classic beauty looks of thick brows and red lips complimented the rich, floral designs. Copping’s designs were jaw-dropping. Seductive lace tops were paired with ruffled flamenco skirts in red and black. The traditional Spanish colors were accented with emerald, mustard, and turquoise in the more modern looks. Asymmetrical lines and chic accessories kept the line from appearing costumey, while keeping the theme strong.

This collection was especially well-received because Copping not only kept the essential elements that define Oscar de la Renta, but he also included the perfect amount of his own taste. The construction and attention to detail on the outfits were nothing short of the house’s reputation. The level of luxury was maintained, keeping the brand at the top of every celebrity’s wishlist. Copping kept de la Renta’s Spanish inspiration, floral accents, classic beauty, romantic style, and his signature ballgowns. Copping experimented with silhouettes, keeping designs sleek and more modern, as opposed to the typical poufy looks. He included more pencil skirts and blazers, and he expanded the knitwear collection. The collection contained more versatile, wearable sweaters and layers along with the traditional dresses and skirts. Peeks of lace were more lingerie inspired, making the collection a little edgier and a lot sexier.

Copping changed enough to make himself recognizable as an individual, yet he kept the morals of the house intact. He kept the same Oscar de la Renta audience, but he changed their style ever so slightly. Copping has a bright future in this company, and Oscar de la Renta’s name will remain the recognizable mouthful it has been since Jackie Kennedy’s days.