THE IT: Thakoon checks into The Room

Thakoon Panichgul at The Room at the Bay. Story by Mishal Cazmi.

Thakoon Panichgul’s ascent in the fashion industry didn’t occur overnight. The designer, who obtained a degree in business before enrolling in Parsons School of Design, debuted his collection in 2004. His garments have graced the silhouettes of starlets like Marion Cotillard and Carey Mulligan, but his ultimate coup has been to dress First Lady Michelle Obama. One of the most feted designers of New York Fashion Week every season, Thakoon’s Midas touch is his thoughtful—and artful—approach in flattering the female form.

Recently, The Room at the Bay previewed Thakoon’s Spring 2011 collection at a trunk show with the designer in attendance. The trunk show also included pieces from his Fall 2010 and Resort 2011 collections.

Thakoon embarked on a flight of fancy with his Spring collection, keeping his signature romantic and feminine aesthetic while offering a lighter, airier fare.  A sea of white, structured pieces balanced with billowy dresses, and unexpected details like exposed hook-and-eye closures and mesh. “Almost preppy but done in a feminine way,” said Thakoon.

Continue reading

TALK TO ME: Leith Clark, part II

Story by Mishal Cazmi. Illustration by Ayalah Hutchins.

This is the second part of our conversation with Leith Clark, stylist and editor-in-chief of Lula Magazine. You can read the first part here.

How would you compare Canadian fashion with British fashion?

“For me Canada is an environment where I can’t not be outside. So there is an element of practicality brought in. Imagine my shoes lasting a Canadian winter! (Tabitha Simmons pale pink suede wedges.) All four seasons are so strong and vivid here. The people are so real. Fashion needs to to match it. Practicality is an issue more than it is in a city like London. The lifestyle is different. Some of the dresses that I bring here when I visit, I know I’m just going to hang them up. I know I’m not actually going to wear them.

Or maybe I do wear them, just under gigantic coats and with my motorcycle boots from when I was 14! I think you have to think about the environment you’re in. I want to be outside when I’m here, even when it’s snowing. Especially when it’s snowing. Fashion should never inhibit you or limit you.”

If you could give your 16-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be?

“I did this thing in the ninth grade that I thought was a good idea. I probably read it in Sassy. On the first day of high school, I had to be the first person to raise my hand or volunteer, no matter what the question, in every class. It made that whole year so easy. I think that fearlessness and applying it, so that you’re never intimidated by anything and you don’t have long enough to psych yourself out, is a very nice thing and I wish I remembered it more often—especially at 16. I would tell myself to keep doing that.

And—the only person whose opinion reeeally matters, is your own.

Also, everyone, no matter what career they choose, has a point of view…. I think it’s important to encourage it in others and ourselves…. Sometimes we’re discouraged, and everyone’s creative view point is unique and important. We all had universes we created as kids that we would play inside. There’s no reason why that doesn’t have to continue when we grow up. You know, stare at paintings to figure out why certain ones make you feel something… make scrapbooks….  It’s so interesting when you get to dip into someone else’s world. People like to meet other people and have a place they can visit. Nurture yours in yourself and in others…

You’re having a tea party. You can only invite five guests, past or present. Who would they be?

Continue reading

TALK TO ME: Leith Clark, part I

Story by Mishal Cazmi. Illustration by Ayalah Hutchins.

Only the prettiest adjectives—ethereal, whimsical, and dreamlike—can describe Lula magazine. It’s a magazine dipped in sunlight and enchantment, a world inhabited by dreamers.

Published twice a year, Lula has become more than a magazine; it’s evolved into brand and a lifestyle, made in the image of Clark herself. A Lula girl is a special kind of a girl. She’s a bit Sofia Coppola, a bit Enid Blyton. She eats cupcakes and sips champagne. She wears Moschino and Erdem.

Leith Clark, the editor-in-chief of the magazine, also happens to be Canadian. Clark’s journey is a familiar narrative in the magazine world—a small town girl who moved to New York City in pursuit of her dreams. She interned at Interview magazine before moving to London to work at British Vogue as an assistant to Kate Phelan. But Clark also made it in a big way.

She’s styled stars (Keira Knightley), campaigns (Chanel), and shoots (Harper’s BazaarVogue). And of course, she created Lula, a magazine that began as a small labour of love and has since earned an international cult following. In other words, Leith Clark is the best friend you wish you had. Every suburban girl need only look to Clark, a former resident of Oakville, Ontario, to realize that dreams can come true. She’s the living embodiment of the Lula fairy tale.

Clark was recently in Toronto for the opening of her Lula pop-up shop, curated for The Room at the Bay in celebration of its God Save the Queen event. In a Chanel dress and her favourite Tabitha Simmons suede platform wedges, Clark sat down to chat with The Style Notebook.

You curated the LULA pop-up shop for The Room, which you also did earlier this summer for Harvey Nichols. What were you looking for when selecting items for the pop-up shop?

“Sometimes it’s very selfish. The Miu Miu shoes that are in there were actually shoes they did five years ago. I think I called every Miu Miu store in the whole world and they were all sold out. This May, I got engaged and I remembered those shoes again. I wrote a letter to them saying, just so you know, one of the very first thoughts I had about a wedding were those shoes. So they made them and sent them to me to my house with a card, which was amazing. And then Harvey Nichols asked me to do a pop-up shop for them last summer and one of the first things I thought to do was phone Miu Miu again about those shoes.

Everything else in the shop is by people that I love. Charles Anastase made a dress similar to this one three years ago, but it was short with much wider straps and a higher neck. The Sonia Rykiel dress is a variation of one that existed that was longer. It usually starts with something they’ve already done. With Rodarte, I was really annoying and decided I wanted to wear white dresses forever! There’s also a book called Pretty Things by Liz Goldwyn. It’s so wonderful and I think people don’t see it enough.”

Lula has a very particular aesthetic. When you’re preparing an issue, how do you decide who gets to be in the pages—who the photographer is, the writer, who to interview?

Continue reading

THE MOMENT: John Galliano’s Madame Butterfly

For this weekly column, writer Mishal Cazmi highlights an iconic collection, person or collaboration, and explores its influence on style and pop culture. Above, John Galliano’s Spring 2007 couture show for Christian Dior.

Love, pain, desire, and despair. It’s the story of Giacomo Puccini’s 1904 opera, Madame Butterfly. The tale has been retold many times since its inception—Pierre Loti’s 1888 novel, Madame Chrysantheme—but remains most recognized in its operatic form.

Set in Nagasaki, Japan, it tells the story of an American sailor, B.F. Pinkerton, who marries and then abandons a young Japanese geisha named Cio-Cio-San, more famously known as Madame Butterfly.

It must have been the histrionics of classical opera that attracted John Galliano. He was most famously inspired by Madame Butterfly, or in his own words, “by Pinkerton’s affair with Cio-Cio San, Madame Butterfly.” And why not? The designer is no stranger to theatricality.

For his Spring 2007 couture collection for Christian Dior, Galliano’s presentation was all about sumptuous silk and couture kimonos.

Continue reading

THE MOMENT: Françoise Hardy

For this weekly column, writer Mishal Cazmi highlights a fashionable person, iconic item, or collaboration, and explores its influence on style and pop culture. Above, the Parisian chanteuse Françoise Hardy.

Françoise Hardy has fond memories of Paris during the ’60s and ’70s. “I am very passionate about the artistic and literary world of that period. So, obviously, for me Paris is the people who lived here in this period, all the great intellectuals and artists like Picasso, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Marcel Proust,” she told INTERVIEW magazine in October 2001.

France gave the world its share of style icons too—Coco Chanel, Brigitte Bardot, Jane Birkin and of course, Françoise Hardy herself. Born in 1944, the chanteuse began her career quietly and then quickly rose to prominence. She was a part of the yé-yé movement, France’s answer to the Beatles, led by young female singers who sang about love and longing. Hardy’s body of work also included film, modelling, and astrology (a hobby which resulted in published books).

An ethereal beauty with wispy vocals and perfectly pretty bangs, Hardy became an icon during the sixties. She was the opposite of blonde bombshell, Brigitte Bardot. Hers was a quiet beauty, which she wore with subdued confidence. Hardy also had a good relationship with clothes—whatever she wore, she wore it well.

Continue reading

THE MOMENT: Annie Hall

For this weekly column, writer Mishal Cazmi highlights an iconic fashion film, item, or collaboration and explores its influence on style and pop culture. Above, Annie Hall‘s Diane Keaton (in Ralph Lauren tie given to her by Grammy Hall) with Woody Allen.

Ruth Morley was credited with designing the costumes for Woody Allen’s Annie Hall, but the wardrobe’s true essence, right down to many of its key pieces, originated with Diane Keaton. After the 1977 film, Keaton became known for her influential wardrobe almost as much as for her inspired performance. She became Woody Allen’s on-screen muse and a fashion icon for the rest of us.

In the movie, she wears vintage menswear—slacks, loose-fitting jackets, vests, fedoras, neckties—with complete conviction. She’s a master of layering, combining seemingly disparate separates into disheveled, effortless chic. “I love what you’re wearing,” Allen’s character, Alvy Singer, tells Annie Hall during their first meeting.

Allen himself was a fan of Keaton’s sartorial originality. In a 1995 interview, he is quoted as saying that Morley, the costume designer, objected to what Keaton wore to the set: “And I said, ’Leave her. She’s a genius…Let her wear what she wants.’”

Continue reading

THE MOMENT: Madonna’s Gaultier cone bra

For this weekly column, writer Mishal Cazmi highlights an iconic fashion piece, film, or collaboration and explores its influence on style and pop culture. Above, Madonna shows her blonde ambition in the cone bra designed by Jean Paul Gaultier.

Last season, models walked the runway wearing underwear as outerwear. But long before Marc Jacobs and Christian Dior embraced the trend, there was Jean Paul Gaultier, the mastermind behind Madonna’s infamous cone-shaped bra. The over-underthing made its presence known around the world in 1990 when Madonna embarked on her Blonde Ambition tour. And before Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood’s models traipsed down the runway in bras fashioned atop their dresses back in 1981.

When Gaultier made the iconic bra for Madonna, he looked to the popular bullet bra of the fifties for inspiration. The brazen brassiere was as in-your-face as the superstar’s Blonde Ambition tour, which stirred up controversy because it appropriated religious iconography and explored themes of sexuality.

The bra is currently enjoying a revival thanks to a few stratospheric pop stars. Enter Lady Gaga in the mostly monochromatic video for “Alejandro” where she sports two machine guns on her bra (Gaga brandishes the same weapons on the cover of Rolling Stone). Followed by Katy Perry, who in a way the antithesis of Lady Gaga, is in a frothy, but no less racy version of the bra, wearing a whipped cream wielding bikini. In between, there’s Kylie Minogue who wore a Gaultier-designed cone bra in a photoshoot for her album, Aphrodite and Rihanna who’s worn similarly inspired get-ups on stage. A stone’s throw away from these pop acts is Glee, which paid tribute to Madge in an episode in which Jane Lynch sported the iconic bra in all its cheeky glory.

Continue reading

THE MOMENT: Yves Saint Laurent meets Catherine Deneuve

For this weekly column, writer Mishal Cazmi highlights an iconic film, item or collaboration and explore its influence on style and pop culture. Above, Catherine Deneuve and Jean Sorel in Belle de Jour (1967). Deneuve is outfitted by Yves Saint Laurent.

Sometimes, sartorial inspiration is only a muse away. If the muse is extraordinary, she will possess a certain magic, that wondrous ability to inspire a designer’s vision, which might result in something remarkable. For Yves Saint Laurent, that muse was actress Catherine Deneuve.

The two met on the set of Luis Buñuel’s film, Belle de Jour in 1966, marking the beginning of a lifelong friendship. Yves Saint Laurent designed what would become some of the most celebrated outfits in film, referenced time and again in fashion and pop culture.

In the film, Deneuve plays Severine, a doctor’s wife who leads a double life. During the day, she plays the part of a prostitute, turning her reveries into reality, and at night, she settles into the role of the delicate, domestic housewife.

The film bears Saint Laurent’s sartorial stamp: In tailored coats and dresses, Deneuve is perfectly Parisienne. Laurent fashioned a dual wardrobe for Severine,  to represent her double life. Her outfits tell the story of two different women: the feminine wholesome image she feigns in front of her husband, and that of the confident seductress she cultivates in the brothel.

The first time Severine is in a brothel, for example, she is not dressed the part. Her dress, while pretty and pristine, is too impractical, too refined for the part-time occupation she’s about to take up. She’s swiftly told that she’ll wear the zipper out in one afternoon. Her uniform behind the closed doors of the brothel is her skin, occasionally lingerie. These are the details one notices because Saint Laurent converses with the viewer through Deneuve’s clothes.

Continue reading

THE MOMENT: The Hermès scarf

For this weekly column, writer Mishal Cazmi highlights an iconic piece and explore its influence on style and pop culture. Above, a Spring 2010 Hermès scarf.

If fashion is the realm of covetable things, the Hermès scarf is the pinnacle of all fashion desires. It’s synonymous with luxury and refinement. Women who can afford it wear it as easily as its equally famous (pricier) sibling, the Birkin bag. The women who save up for it deem it an investment piece. To an outsider, it’s a square piece of cloth, no more, no less. To the fashion world, it’s a piece of treasure to cherish and to love.

The Hermès scarf made its debut in 1937 in Lyon, France. Since then, the fashion house has created over 2,000 silk scarves in an assortment of patterns and an exhaustive palette of colours. Marked by Hermès’s signature craftsmanship, the scarves are also hand-printed and the hems hand-stitched.

The scarf is nothing if not resourceful. Grace Kelly famously used a Hermès scarf as a sling for her broken arm. Madonna wore one as a wrap-around top in Swept Away. Sharon Stone made naughtier use of it for a bondage scene in Basic Instinct.

Continue reading

THE MOMENT: Schiaparelli’s Skeleton Dress

Introducing The Moment, a new column about fashion iconography. Every week, writer Mishal Cazmi will highlight an iconic piece and explore its influence on style and pop culture.

In 1938, Elsa Schiaparelli unveiled an unusual dress. Not unusual by her standards, of course. By then, the designer was already known for her avant-garde approach to fashion and her friendships with Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp, the A-list Dadaists and Surrealists of her time. The creation, an affront to many and loved by few, was named the Skeleton Dress.

It was a collaboration (the first of many) with surrealist painter Salvador Dalí, and appeared as part of Schiaparelli’s Circus Collection. Most likely inspired by the Surrealist preoccupation with the human body, the aptly named dress was made of black crepe, with trapunto quilting underneath to give it the anatomically appropriate effect of a spine, ribcage and leg bones.

Since then, the skeleton motif has been reincarnated in countless forms on the runway by designers such as Alexander McQueen, Christian Lacroix and the Mulleavy sisters at Rodarte, who featured it in their Spring 2009 collection and again in their diffusion line for Target. And then came Lady Gaga.

Continue reading