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

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

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:

Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 6-1.07.41 PM.png

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)