Image via Oh Fantastic
In the late summer and early fall of 2008, events for Maison Martin Margiela’s 20th Anniversary were in full swing. Parties. A runway show homage to the company’s past. A traveling exhibit stopping at multiple major museums. In retrospect, the attendees were unknowing participants in a celebratory wake for the career of Martin Margiela: after months of rumors that Martin Margiela was distancing himself from the design process, the Maison officially announced that he had already left the company he founded.
In November 2012, the Maison did it again. The party was ostensibly for the launch of H&M x MMM, but if you took a step back you could see it meant more. It was a coming out party for the new Margiela brand: bold, brash, quietly self-aggrandizing, keeping itself in the public eye any way but advertising. It was a move Renzo Rosso telegraphed not long after he claimed a majority stake of Maison Martin Margiela in 2002; a strategy that looked brilliant with the rise of the 24 hour internet news cycle, and prescient by the rise of social media. Now it appears the company is using social media to bridge the gap between the old, quiet, anonymous brand, and the new brand. But the “new brand,” still visually intact as white, weird, and playfully intellectual, looks to be only an open door allowing us to see inside the Maison. A move that, while popular, effectively destroys the old brand identity based on anonymity, like a magician giving away all of his secrets. Does the company have anything to take the place of the identity it destroyed, or will they just hope the white door is enough? And do they fear that consumers will discover the open door is just an illusion, revealing little more than clever designs in white?
—-Read the entire feature after the jump
A common New Years resolution I hear is “I want to read more”. Lucky for you resident It girl Rachel Hodin is here with five literacy picks that will make your commute on the G-train a little more bearable (and that’s saying alot). Click through the jump for her selections.
IT GIRL TOKYO: Caca Co
Third Looks is going international with our latest IT GIRL feature. I’m proud to introduce Caca Co from Tokyo. It is a dream for many women to work in the fashion industry and one that Caca is pursuing to the fullest in Asia. A special thank you goes out to Rajiv Sawhney for producing this feature and making it look fantastic. He will be contributing content from the Japanese fashion scene and documenting his personal journey in the creation of his own namesake label, Sawhney. -Rocky
Words by Rajiv Sawhney
As a budding menswear designer, I had the opportunity to meet Caca, a half-Japanese/half-Chinese fashion student and model through a personal connection several months ago. We quickly became friends given our mutual interests. What struck me most about Caca, aside from her cute looks, was her maturity at a still relatively young age and her deep knowledge and appreciation for the Tokyo scene. Naturally, when I bounced ideas with Rocky about a potential IT GIRL TOKYO edition, Caca immediately came to mind as the first candidate. With the help of fellow friend and photographer, Daisuke Ito, we took to the streets of Daikanyama to bring you the first IT GIRL TOKYO.
Firstly, can you give a quick introduction about yourself?
My name is Caca. I was born in Xian, China and grew up in Tsingtao. My first time visiting Japan was during my sophomore year of high school. I also spent time in Fukuoka and Kyoto for high school and undergraduate college. Currently I’m a graduate student at Bunka Fashion College (http://www.bunka-fc.ac.jp) studying fashion management. To enrich my life and social experience I’m also a part-time model and love to party, enjoying the energy of fashion through Tokyo’s nightlife.
What made you want to come to Japan to study? Did you always want to study fashion?
I wanted to come to Japan for a very simple reason. Since I was a child, I loved Japanese animation and wanted to become an anime artist. However, after studying animation for two years at Kyoto Seika University (http://www.kyoto-seika.ac.jp), I realized that it would be difficult to transmit my points of view and concepts to audiences unless I became an animation director. Meanwhile, like other young girls, I started to take more interest in my make up and styling and gradually became more interested in fashion. Ultimately fashion became my true calling and I quit animation school to study at Bunka. Even though my friends were surprised by my decision, they continue to support what I’m doing. I also want to thank my father for forgiving my willfulness and for continuing to support me.
Outer: Men’s Number (N)ine black destroyed leather napoleon riders jacket
Top: Loveless (http://www.loveless-shop.jp)
Pants: MNG Collection
Shoes: Christian Louboutin
Hat: Loveless (http://www.loveless-shop.jp)
You are now finishing up your final year at Bunka Fashion College. How has the experience been?
Every day I’m exposed to new things and the curriculum is very meticulous and professional. Students can elect to study from a wide variety of majors including design, styling, etc. I chose management as my major. Unlike other majors, we have the opportunity to hold shows, visit shops to do field surveys, and go on the streets to take photographs. The most interesting aspect of my studies has been the analysis of seasonal trends and the emphasis on the brand creation process. My dream is to start my own brand.
You also recently interned at Mark Styler, a major Japanese women’s wear company. Can you describe the experience?
Mark Styler (http://mark-styler.co.jp) is the parent company of my favorite Japanese fashion brand, EMODA (http://www.emoda-japan.com). Through an introduction from my professor, I was honored to receive a month long internship program at the Mark Styler head office to help with their 2012 Autumn/Winter show. Through this internship, I was able to gain a deeper understanding of the industry, particularly the unglamorous side of the business. In order to execute a perfect fashion show, every department was extremely busy. I worked in the media department and learned it’s not enough to have a good designer or pattern maker, but also an excellent media department to successfully market a brands image. Frankly speaking, very little differentiates fashionable Japanese brands these days. Therefore, how the media/publicity department markets a brand’s image has become increasingly important. After the fashion show was successfully completed, I realized that all the hard work was worth it. It was a very memorable experience and a great learning opportunity.
Outer: Men’s Dries Van Noten camel wool double breasted coat
Top: Men’s Sawhney navy lace and velvet button-down dress shirt
Skirt: The Dayz Tokyo (http://www.thedayztokyo.com)
Shoes: BeLLE (http://www.belle-co.jp)
What are your thoughts on Tokyo fashion culture? What are the differences you see compared with China?
In Tokyo, each area has its own characteristic style. For example, in ladies fashion there is Shibuya 109 style (http://www.shibuya109.jp), Harajuku style, Aoyama/Omotesando luxury style, Ebisu/Daikanyama pretty style, etc. In addition, each style has been shaped by the area’s history and culture. China has witnessed rapid growth recently but for the older generation unique characteristics in Chinese fashion culture did not exist. Rather, fashion was described more broadly as Korean fashion, Japanese fashion, European fashion, etc. Compared to China, Tokyo fashion has much more individuality and originality, which I think is amazing. That said, I think the Japanese are losing to the current generation of Chinese in terms of foreign intelligence gathering and global fashion interest.
What about menswear? What do you find attractive or interesting about modern Tokyo menswear?
I think women are constantly unfaithful in their loyalty with brands. But for men, once they fall in love with a brand, they can be a loyal customer for a very long time. As a result while women’s wear emphasizes design and styling, menswear puts more importance on quality material used and quality of construction. In a private or work setting, women look at a man’s sense of taste rather than his trendiness. A man that wears well made clothing or shoes gives a woman a sense of security which is a plus. I also think there is a sense of charm. I feel that Tokyo men put a lot of emphasis on styling and coordination. Tokyo men take advantage of accessories, hats, etc to show their style.
Outer: Men’s Mihara Yasuhiro rabbit & goat fur down vest
Parka: Design Works
Shoes: Christian Louboutin
You received a job offer to work for Mark Styler after graduation. What are your thoughts about the future?
That’s correct. I received a job offer in Mark Styler’s global operations department, but recently I’ve been considering the business potentials in China and felt that working in Japan would deter me from my dream, so this month I declined the offer. After graduation, I plan to return back to China and I’m thinking of starting my own brand. At any rate, I think it’s necessary for me to understand the local Chinese market and develop the necessary personal connections.
Special thanks to Daisuke Ito of Trival Inc. for taking time out of his busy schedule to help with the shoot and more importantly Caca for modeling the men’s outerwear during this frigid Tokyo winter. Best of luck in your future endeavors!
Styling: Rajiv Sawhney designer of Sawhney (http://www.sawhney.jp)
Model: Caca Co (http://ameblo.jp/cocaca)
Photographer: Daisuke Ito of Trival Inc. (http://www.dai-ito.com)
Believe it or not we have reached our 200th post here at Third Looks. A heartfelt thank you goes out to everyone who has contributed, supported or simply enjoyed this blog since it’s humble beginnings over a year ago. I couldn’t think of a better way to commemorate this milestone than presenting this comprehensive Maison Martin Margiela Reference Guide. A friend of mine is a Margiela devotee and has spent ample time and effort putting together this hefty reference guide on all things Maison Martin Margiela.
The Maison Martin Margiela Reference Guide
Information about Martin Margiela, and Maison Martin Margiela, is everywhere, but a proper reference does not exist. With respect to Martin Margiela’s clear wishes to remain anonymous, and his continued silence after his retirement, I have omitted most personal information about him. This is a long read meant as a reference, not an article. If you are coming in totally blind, feel free to read the following short articles to get oriented:
Click through the jump for the Reference Guide
It goes without saying that one of the biggest trends to develop over the past several seasons has been the omnipresence of the clutch bag as the new “it bag” for Autumn/Winter 2012. Nearly every major fashion house pushed their own interpretations back in Spring 2012 with Céline and Balenciaga’s sleek document holders notable standouts from Paris, as was 3.1 Phillip Lim’s Roy Lichtenstein inspired pop-art numbers from New York, and even young start-ups in Tokyo such as Roggykei building buzz with their youthful punk interpretations and street-wear staple Phenomenon getting in on the action with their Head Porter collaborations for Spring/Summer 2013.
I’ve been meaning to buy a clutch portfolio for my day-to-day fashion work and couldn’t find the right one that has just the right amount of understated sleek design, quality craftsmanship, and ability to hold my Macbook Air and other essentials without screaming “Hey look guys I’m carrying a Macbook Air!”.
The search ended when I found this Céline FW 2012 portfolio. Even though Céline is a women’s collection line, the bags and accessories are thoroughly understated/unisex with a growing legion of male fans. This particular version has three large pockets with the middle pocket closeable with a zipper at the top. It perfectly fits my laptop without any bulkiness but still has enough room and compartments for my other items without ruining the case’s sleek lines. Sadly things of beauty do not come cheap with this white version (black, blue, and brown versions are also available) in Spazzolato calfskin costing me 14,000 HKD (roughly $1800 USD) when I purchased it on a business trip to Hong Kong last month.
For those male readers that may be turned off by the idea of carrying a women’s clutch, another recommendation I have is from Valextra. They are an Italian high-end leather goods maker that does an equally subtle but drop-dead gorgeous Macbook Air portfolio in fine-grained calfskin leather. This particular earlier black model has two sleeves, one for the Macbook Air, and another for various documents, an iPad, etc. Sadly this also was quite expensive, running me over $1600 when I purchased it in Tokyo last summer.
Writing and photography by Rajiv Sawhney