VOGUE ITALIA gives us 5 Reasons to Know AFTER MARCH

by Alessandra Signorelli (link to the Italian original here)

SUSTAINABILITY

photo: Dominik von Schulthess

photo: Dominik von Schulthess


May 14, 2019

The Berlin brand AFTER MARCH, created by the curator and journalist April von Stauffenberg, supports a more sustainable fashion, one shirt at a time




Some fabrics, such as lycra and nylon, take hundreds of years to dissolve in the environment. The fashion industry, according to a recent United Nations report, is among the most polluting on the planet: only 1% of the clothing produced is recycled. In Berlin, however, a young new brand is fighting against this phenomenon one shirt at a time. It's called After March.

the masterpiece (with James Bond girl detail) link to shop    here

the masterpiece (with James Bond girl detail) link to shop here

Five reasons to find out more:

– Made by the art curator and journalist April von Stauffenberg, a native of North Carolina, this original brand takes men's shirts – in 100% cotton and made in Europe – from vintage shops, and gives them a new identity, a second life so to speak, with cuts, inserts, knots, and hand-drawn embellishments that make them unique and extremely feminine. The result is a sort of boyfriend shirt deconstructed in a creative and modern way, to be worn with personality, verve, and a sense of humor.


I LOVE DICK (Thank you Chris Kraus for this title). Shop the shirt    here

I LOVE DICK (Thank you Chris Kraus for this title). Shop the shirt here

– The brand was founded as an antithesis to fast fashion. An avid consumer of Zara and H&M, April began to convert to slow fashion – and decided to take action – after seeing a film about the impact of the fashion industry called "The True Cost". April's mission? Making the vintage "stylish and cool" through what she calls "boosted" or “special effects” vintage. With the hope that "instead of being the second cause of pollution in the world, fashion will become a pioneer of practices that change the world."

Early Morning Mini-Vacation. Shop the shirt    here

Early Morning Mini-Vacation. Shop the shirt here

– Sustainability is naturally a strong point: all the alternations made by AFTER MARCH are done either by hand, by the designer herself, or by small local tailors in Berlin. Furthermore, all of the transportation, from one end of the city to the other, is by bicycle.

Dr Spock. Shop the shirt  here

Dr Spock. Shop the shirt here

– Recently the line has been extended to include, blazers, modified and embellished – with vintage knitted sleeve sleeves for example – to become unique pieces. And now the skirts are peeping out too.

– After recent collaborations with the fashion designer Vladimir Karaleev, April has a few creative synergies in the pipeline with different artists (including Douglas Gordon), and with stylists from the Berlin fashion scene.

Peaches and Herbs. Shop the shirt  here

Peaches and Herbs. Shop the shirt here









All photos © Dominik Schulthess

Free Your Mind

My pants open up new vistas. I’m against penis binding. — Eldridge Cleaver

In the wake of #metoo, I imagine there a lot of you out there feeling repressed, bound, all those flirty energies caught up in a web of “Oh shit, can I really give her a compliment?” In honor of all you sensitive souls out there, the good guys, the ones who respect women as 100% equal species on the planet, I give you this:

Eldridge Cleaver put this ad in the International Herald Tribune in 1975

Eldridge Cleaver put this ad in the International Herald Tribune in 1975

 

Penis pants! 

Now how’s that for a coming out party. Feels good, right? I am a man, watch me soar! More on Cleaver and his “virility pants” anon.

Not wanting to lead my fellow women out of this game of politically correct consumption, how about this?

Vivienne Westwood's penis clutch

Vivienne Westwood's penis clutch

 

It’s made by Vivienne Westwood, and the only photos you’ll find of it online are in the hands of Rihanna, who received it from Westwood as a gift. I also found it at a French second-hand store and I won’t tell you until I overcome my inner BUY LESS energies. Vivienne would approve. See this vid and her fantastic website dedicated to climate change.

But really? A penis clutch. Correction: an erect penis clutch in iridescent faux-alligator. What more will you ever need? Every gala dress is now dressed up with a conversation piece par excellence, every trip to the grocery store a bag of laughs. When was the last time you thought of decorating yourself with penis paraphernalia? It’s not the first time for Westwood. Look at these cuff links, this bracelet.

Screen Shot 2018-05-28 at 10.28.01 AM.png
Screen Shot 2018-05-28 at 10.30.49 AM.png

 

 

Eldridge Cleaver, on the other hand, turned from left to right (and I don’t mean how he hangs). He used to be a Black Panther member, became a candidate for President in 1968, a tongue-in-cheek fashion designer, and ended up in more than dubious circles of thought. That happens quite often, this switch from radical left to radical right. On the complicated twisted turns of his life, from believing that North Korea held the answer to equality to a religious group he headed up called the Guardians of the Sperm, it just goes to show that not all leftist thinking is as open-minded as one might like to believe. 

Yesterday at the protest against the AfD gathering at Brandenburg Gate, many fellow protestors were shouting easy soundbites like “Nazis Raus!” or “Ganz Berlin hasst die AfD”: I had come to the gathering to show my stance against the AfD’s growing numbers, to be part of a number bigger than theirs. But being a part of a crowd, one feels castrated in one’s own beliefs. I didn’t want to shout anything with the word “hate” in it. That just further divides us and resolves nothing. It is a castration of thought. “We’ve been castrated in clothing,” Cleaver said in an interview in Jet magazine in 1978. Free your mind, or your bound penis, or so one thinks, and the rest will follow. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. But for now, the idea of a penis clutch feels like a LOL statement of empowerment, a subtle weapon against narrow-minded avenues, making enemies at every turn of the road. 

 

 

 

 

In PURSE-suit of Happiness

(published in DIE DAME, translated into German, April 12, 2018)

Recently I was waiting in the doctor’s office, impatiently watching my daughter build her 8th Lego skyscraper. I began to open emails I’d otherwise delete. These usually begin with a credible subject header such as: “282 items just for you, April!” 

Seriously? For moi? In a turbo capitalist’s wet dream, well, yes…

 

Boredom can help you break out of unhealthy patterns. So I opened this email, eager to see what some algorithm had picked out just for me. Boom. There it was. That thing known as a Kelly. 

 

There was little hesitation. I had to have it. What? A purse that costs more than a 1984 Porsche? Yes. Though I must say, I never wanted one before, but now? A bargain? Let’s do the math: It cost more than a used Porsche but less than a new Hermes. The question is: Is my prefrontal cortex fully awake and wanting to reward the savvy shopper or fully paralyzed by the outright lie that I just don’t want this bag but I NEED THIS BAG. I straddled the dilemma. I’m a big believer in meditation, after all. I observed my desire for handbag salvation, took a deep breath and went back to watching the kid erect model buildings that would have made Bruno Taut drip with envy.

 

I had been intrigued for years that so many were dying to have one of these bags. Some people make pilgrimages to Mecca, others put their  names on waiting lists at Hermes for, what, 3 years? I had read about the phenomenon in one of those paperbacks you’d never admit to reading. It was written by the kind of mom I’d never be, but I was doing research at the time on the kind of mom I needed to know for my own novel. The Pirañas of Park Avenue, or at least that’s the way I am remembering the title now. Flesh-eating fish. Ja. That’s it. Those Upper-Eastside Manhattan moms with whom I share not a wot of likely concerns. Or did I? I’ve always thought of myself as a friendly grass-grazing type, not a carnivorous predator, but maybe I was delusional. (After all, I am a fan of Superfoods.)

 

As for bags, in general, for me, it’s practicality that dictates. I have a bad back, frozen shoulders, a neck like Frankenstein. So when I carry a bag, if at all, it’s going to be one of those recyclable jute bags I can shove in my pocket. For spontaneous shopping sprees, you see, to be filled at any given moment with broccoli and coconut milk on sale. 

 

But that other women make bodily sacrifices to look fashionable intrigued me. Maybe these are bags for ladies with drivers. What are they carrying anyway? Megaphones? The keys to the house, the office, the swimming pool shed? And, what? A few coins for ice cream? (Coins, notoriously, will damage the interior of your bag, beware.)

 

Googling the mentality of this species is hilarious. You’ll find x-number of articles on the top ten things successful women carry, 14 essential things allsuccessful women carry, 50 (!) mysterious things successful women carry in their bags. Fifty? Besides bandaids and valium, and, ok, yes, tampons, I’m having a hard time imagining this.

 

Recently, I had started noticing Instagram stars carrying big bags. Men carrying lady bags! Look it up. Seriously. Italians, of course, you shake your head and wonder at my wonder, and the occasional Asian blogger star. BryanBoy carries a Chanel Boy (and a Hermes Birkin, what else?) and the stylist street-star Graziano di Cintio carries a different oversized clutch every day! When I contacted him over Instagram to ask him when he started doing this, he said he couldn’t remember. Sometime in the 1990s, he thinks, and he had a laugh that I considered his bags “big.”

Graziano di Cintio and his Gucci clutch

Graziano di Cintio and his Gucci clutch

 

Of the big bags and so-called IT bags, never ever in my life have I wanted a Chloe Paddington. Until I began researching this article, didn’t even know what one looked like. The Paddington was one of those must-have bags in the 1990s, largely because of its professed waiting list. Having trouble imagining it? You too are not an IT bagger? Picture the Hermes Kelly put through the washing machine with an oversized lock and enough straps to hold it down to your saddle. Something for the cityslicker who might lasso a large bull on any given street corner — if she could move fast enough, that is. How, tell me, is she going to catch a bull (or the cowboy) with that freaking ball and chain around her shoulder. Imagine actually wanting to carry a bag with a big heavy useless lock on it? 

 

Which leads me to conclude: Are IT bags for masochists? The lock doesn’t lock anything. It’s just for looks. It looks secure. Which leads me further: Are handbags a sign of insecurity? A sign of fear? Carrying bandaids, after all, presumes that you will get hurt. Carrying a hair brush assumes that your hair will get messy. Carrying a toothbrush is of course in case you eat garlic and have a date with a vampire later on. (Vampires, as we all know, are great lookers, they dress well, and they have castles. Believe me, you do not want to fuck up your date with a vampire!) What else fits in your handbag? Your hand gun, of course. You see? Handbags are for people who leave the house in fear!

 

Thinking a little harder, I have repressed the fact that I carried a Marc Jacobs Stam for a while. It was so heavy! It was Jacobs, after all, who famously made it his mission to have girls spend more than a month’s rent on one of his bags. (And he meant rent in Manhattan!) And that’s just it, this thing about IT bags: They are constructed to be unattainable, illusive. In the late 1990s, there was that turn in the fashion industry, when couture houses (exotic fish) began to be swallowed up by conglomerates (whales) and their shareholders.  No one wants to invest in a sinking ship! IT bags to the rescue. . Just look at all the ads in the front of fashion mags today: models holding bags, bags, bags in the most awkward ways. Bags, it turns out, are lifeboats. And they are pitched to us minions as safety nets (investments). Lesson no 1 of the handbook Capitalism for Children: So long as we continue to believe so, it’s true!

As the doctor finally calls out STAUFFENBERG, I’m furiously typing my Amex number into my phone. Done. (After all, I, too, must do my part to save the whales.) Princess Grace Kelly, the namesake of my new (old) bag, by the way, carried only two Kelly bags her whole life long. Classic, hers were dark brown and navy. What a spartan! Victoria Beckham, by contrast, is said to own 100s of Hermes bags. If you life goal is to enter the Imelda Marcos hall of fame, I guess that’s ok. 

 

But the Kelly was first used as a demure  instrument of hiding. The newlywed Princess of Monaco was first pictured in the yellow press carrying her Hermes “sac de ville” — or so it was called back then— in order to hide her emerging pregnancy.

 

I’m not hiding anything now except my shame, the guilt I feel in having made the plunge. I’m begging for redemption. The only designer I know to ever take the piss out of the whole IT bag phenomena was Raf Simon who in 2011 designed a sardonic anti-IT bag for Jil Sander, calling it the Market Bag. It was made out of orange plastic and I am dying to have one. 

Raf Simon's Market Bag for Jil Sander

Raf Simon's Market Bag for Jil Sander

 

We can trace the IT bag craze, though, back to Venice in the 1940s. Roberta di Camerinobags were so beloved that many companies plagiarized them shamelessly. It was Camerino’s trellis logo of interlocking R’s that preceded the GG pattern of Gucci, and even up to today, her signature velvet trompe l’oeil patterns certainly have had a heavy influence on Prada’s most recent line.

Prada 2016, if I remember correctly

Prada 2016, if I remember correctly

Roberta di Camerino bag from the 1960s

Roberta di Camerino bag from the 1960s

 

Sci-fi William Gibson hit it on the head: “We’re moving toward a world where all the consumers under a certain age will probably tend to identify more with their consumer status or with the products they consume then they would with ... any sort of antiquated notion of nationality.”

Right-o.

And I now belong to the HERMES nation.

 

END

WHAT TO WEAR TO ART BASEL (2017 or 2018: wear the same thing 2 years in a row!)

Dress Like You Are Already Famous 

 

Every day, you wake up and search for meaning. From the B12-Omega300-Collagen muesli you shovel down your gullet to the charcoal detox toothpaste. (Detox? Yes, because though we won’t admit it, we still eat marshmallows.) Even the clothes you will put on your back – all of it has meaning. All of it is a reflection of the choices you make. (It’s Descartes! It’s not who you are, but who you think you are.)

On the day that you wake up knowing you will enter the vast stage of meaning in the art fair known as Art Basel, you will be a little overwhelmed. You will be accosted by meaning all day long.  +/- 4000 artists bombarding you with their own personal meaning in life. The greatest meaning you’ll find, however, won’t be on the walls (painting) or on the floor to trip over (sculpture). It’s the walking displays, the walking-talking VIPs and not-so VIPS of Art Basel that are actually what makes Basel Basel. You will spend the greater part of your day with your jaw open, catching flies, aghast at the parade of personal style.


What to wear when in competition with 95,000 other art stalkers? Asymmetric, high-low, mismatching loafers, how much ruffle is too much ruffle?  Ask the hedgehog: he knows many things:

 

As Isaiah Berlin once said, "a fox knows many things, but a hedgehog one important thing."

As Isaiah Berlin once said, "a fox knows many things, but a hedgehog one important thing."

 

This is not advice column (i.e., just wear Balenciaga, basta, boom: a no-brainer), but rather a reflection on the thoughts you will tango with. My only advice is this: Dress like you are already famous.

 

Balenciaga/Vetements combo, the two unruly children of Demna Gvasalia      

Balenciaga/Vetements combo, the two unruly children of Demna Gvasalia

 

 

You could go easy and go monochrome, but you’re hardly be able to compete with the intelligence of a Robert Ryman even if your t-shirt has been ripped by a Japanese-Parisian designer in all the right places, this is going to be a difficult game. 

Try borrowing one big enough to wear off the shoulder and tell people your canvas goes beyond the canvas. Or as a skimpy dress? Necklaces, in the fashun world, have been long relegated to the realm of statements. Wear a white one. Plastic. Trust me. Proclaim your non-objectivity. Your refusal to participate in the game of Suprematism or Color Field painting. And then screw it all: just wear a pair of sporty white tube socks with something really really fancy.

 

Suddenly with the advent of a pussy-grabbing president, feminism has become hot again. How to dress like a feminist without wearing an unseasonably warm pink wool hat? Barbara Bloom gives us a clue. Mirrors and doubling: always keep them guessing.

the work of Barbara Bloom

the work of Barbara Bloom

How does this translate? The partner look, double trouble, of course. Preferably not your lover, just a friend. Get them to wear exactly what you are wearing and instantly you’ll be an instastar. The more nonsensical the outfit the better: Tahiti 08 t-shirt, Off-White jeans that are not off-white, and cheeky Anya Hindmarch “wink” sneakers. Go forth and be identical!

Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 12.34.22 PM.png

 

Another thought altogether: take whatever it is that you want to wear and graffiti it with whatever it is you want to say. Say, you want to say something, like, “Peanut Butter,” or “I am Jungle.” Say it loud, in ALL CAPS, in washaway marker. If anyone asks what it is, tell them you ran into Bethan Huws and her clever sandwich boards in the bathroom.

the work of Bethan Huws

the work of Bethan Huws

Where’s the game changer? This year, it’s Chinese. Both Wang Shang and Guan Xiao have made sculptures that are so weird. In Wang’s case, it’s about rocks. Not just any rocks. And no, not rock studs, you Valentino addicts. Scholars rocks. That sounds like an oxymoron but it’s an actual thing in China, these rocks that are so special they’re declared special. (Sounds very Duchampian and it is!). 

Wang Shang

Wang Shang

Whereas Guan Xiao makes objects that speak of the unspeakable language they speak. It’s all very heady and this is where you’re outfit is simply not going to compete at all. This stinky polyester dollar print pussy blouse over some deconstructed jeans and a baseball cap (freier wahl!) and lots and lots of faux pearls. No matter how hard you try, the Battlestar Galaxia is lost here. You will never look as good as Mick Jagger. Ever. End game.

Balenciaga, I wuv you. But can you please stop using POLYESTER?!

Balenciaga, I wuv you. But can you please stop using POLYESTER?!

 

Alert: the mega-collectors are easy to spot in the VIP crowd. They are always in celebrity disguise. Like an American mom and pop visiting their daughter for the first time in Europe: matching track suits and plastic visors.
 

how to spot a 'real' collector

how to spot a 'real' collector

Now, just imagine this outfit with Kelly's visor, thanks to The Corner, Berlin:
 

 Jacquemus skirt, Saint Laurent jacket, Vetements boots

Hot. Like I said, Dress like you are already famous. And not just Andy’s 15 minutes of fame. But now that track suits are all the rage, and they range from 1000s of dollars upwards, beware: there are mega-collector imposters out there who are quite simply fashion snobs.

ON THE LOSS OF JOHNNY HALLYDAY

 

Famed blogger and neighbor Claire Beermann once asked me to tell a horror story about the loss of a piece of clothing. In honor of France's tragic loss, here it is again:

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It was a pale-blue jeans jacket, small and tight, with a Johnny Hallyday decal on the back. I found it in Paris at a junky, stinky second-hand leather jacket shop close to the Pompidou. Was it love at first sight? Of course. Aren’t all our favorite pieces that way?

It was 1994 and I was just out of college and meeting up with my half-French, half-American boyfriend in Paris for Christmas together with his family. I was living in Prague at the time, and he lived in New York. He laughed his head off when he saw what I brought home one day, saying, “You know who this is, right?” No. Of course, I had no clue about the “most famous rockstar you’ve never heard of” Johnny Hallyday, the French Elvis. You see, in a total rush, I’d misread the name as Johnny Holiday, thinking, well, if there ever was a wishful doppelgaenger of me, her name would be Holiday, for sure.

I wore it for the rest of that month we spent together underneath a fur-lined Siberian Mao coat I’d found secondhand in Prague and with this long black skirt his mother had bought me for Christmas which had a black feather trim at the bottom (like Prada this season!). God, how I loved that jacket. How I miss it today! And losing it was dramatic: it was New Year’s eve and I was excited to be spending it with my beau’s French friends. Since my French was so childish, I decided that the only way for me to make friends was to greet each and every guest at the door with a shot of (still illegal back then) absinth. I blacked out before midnight and when I finally woke up, the party was petering out and heading to a bar for sunrise shots of cafe calva, espresso with cognac, or, as the Italians call it, the “correcting coffee,” caffe corretto. I was still a bit woozy, hardly in the realm of “correcting” the sins I’d inflicted on my liver, and wasn’t paying attention to the coats hanging right behind my head. Stollen! The funny thing was that I loved Serge Gainsbourg at the time, so losing the rocker Hallyday didn’t bother me so much. 

If I could remake it today, I’d put Angie Merkel instead.

(originally published at C'est Clairette, here)