Articles

Nordstrom launches livestream selling, popular in China

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NEW YORK (AP) — Upscale department store chain Nordstrom is getting into livestream selling, the latest U.S. retailer to jump on the trend that has been already popular in China.

The move, announced Wednesday, is part of the Seattle company’s overall strategy to shift more of its business online.

Nordstrom will kick off its livestreaming channel with a Burberry virtual styling event on Thursday. The presentation will focus on how to wear Burberry runway looks and style them by mixing and matching with other pieces from the collection. On Friday, shoppers can tune in to learn the latest skin care and hair care tips for at-home beauty rituals. And on April 8, customers will learn how to style jewelry. During the livestream selling events, shoppers can buy products and participate in a live chat.

Livestream selling is taking off in the U.S., ushering in a new way for Americans to shop online. Instead of searching for what they want, they pick up their phones, sit back, and click to buy if they like what they see.

“Livestream Shopping enables us to stay closer to the customer with interactive and engaging experiences that allow for discovery, personalization and service at scale,” Fanya Chandler, senior vice president at Nordstrom, wrote in a blog post Wednesday.

This mode of shopping was expected to ring up nearly $5 billion in sales last year and reach $25 billion in 2023, according to retail data firm Coresight Research.

The pandemic is helping to feed the craze. Business owners with closed stores had taken to livestreaming to sell all sorts of items. At the same time, tech companies, including Facebook, Instagram and Amazon, have made it easy for businesses to livestream from their smartphones.

Online shopping giant Amazon has been experimenting with livestreaming for five years, but in 2019, it offered a free app allowing businesses that sell goods on the site to livestream from their smartphones.

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AP Retail Writer Joseph Pisani in New York contributed to this report. (Associated Press) 

 

 


KITCHEN SMARTS: Navigating the varied world of olive oils

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If you’ve been in the olive oil section of the grocery store lately, you’ve likely been confronted with a lot of choices. Possibly even a wall of olive oils, with different symbols on the bottles and a whole lot of brands to choose from.

For most of us, the world of olive oil is a bit of a mystery, and you may find yourself with the same kind of uncertainty you feel in a wine store when contemplating the plethora of bottles lined up.

My friend Ted called me up a while back and asked, “Should I buy the extra virgin olive oil, or should I go with something more experienced?” Yes, the jokes about extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) are easy, but the fact remains: There is a lot of confusion about which olives oils to buy and how to use them.

So let’s get into it. What kind of olive oils should you keep on hand, and which should you use when?

First, let’s dive into the meaning of extra virgin, virgin and pure olive oil.

The term extra virgin, which also might be labeled cold-pressed, refers to oil made from the first pressing or milling of fresh, young, green olives.

According to Vincent Ricchiuti, a fourth-generation farmer in Fresno, California, who founded Enzo Olive Oil, “One of the most important things for quality and freshness is how fast you get the olives from the tree to the mill.” His organic olives go from the tree to bottle within 24 hours.

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A variety of olive oils are displayed at a grocery store in Waterbury, Vt. (AP Photo)

The flavor of extra virgin olive oils can range widely. Olives, regions, weather… all affect the taste and quality, just like wine. Good-quality extra virgin olive oils usually have pleasant notes of bitterness, and different oils will have more specific flavor nuances: You may hear yourself using words like peppery, grassy, vegetal, sweet or almondy. The intensity of flavor varies from delicate to assertive, though good extra virgin olive oil should always taste fresh and clean. The color may range from a rich glowing green to golden yellow.

Pure olive oil, which also might be labeled simply olive oil, is a blend of olive oil refined because it doesn’t meet the qualifications of virgin olive oil plus some virgin or extra virgin olive oil, added for flavor and color. This oil is best used for cooking and frying, as its flavor tends to be blander and less nuanced than extra virgin olive oils.

Joseph R. Profaci, executive director of the trade group the North American Olive Oil Association, says, “While extra virgin olive oil is the most prized grade for good reason, we need to keep the door open for consumers to use lower grades of olive oil if that is what fits their taste preferences and budget.

“Home cooks who are accustomed to neutral-flavored, highly refined seed oils but are curious about the potential health benefits of olive oil might want to start with regular olive oil or even light-tasting olive oils. Think of them as a gateway into the category.”

Very good extra virgin olive oil is best used in cold preparations, rather than cooked, to get the most out of its singular flavor. Think about salad dressings, and drizzling over any finished dish, from soups to fish to crostini. If there is a harvest date on the bottle, check that it is from the previous fall’s harvest.

Some cooks hesitate about using good olive oil because of its reputation for having a lower smoke point, the temperature at which it begins to burn. Francesca van Soest, technical sales and marketing manager for Australian-based Cobram Estate, says, “There has been this unsubstantiated rumor that you cannot cook with EVOO because of its smoke point for far too long. If you go to Europe, everyone has been cooking with extra virgin olive oil for millennia, so why do we believe that we can’t here?”

Rolando Beramendi, founder of the California-based Italian food importer Manicaretti, adds, “you just need to be very good friends with your flames” when you cook with olive oil and make sure the temperature doesn’t get too high.

Where to splurge on expensive olive oil and where to economize?

Shop for olive oil at stores with high turnover, so it hasn’t been sitting on the shelf for months. Besides local grocery stores, there are of course online and specialty shops that sell a wide variety of artisanal, small-batch extra virgin olive oils that can be pricy but singular.

“As far as the money you are spending, think about that we are quick to buy a $35 bottle of wine, and drink it in the same meal. But a $35 dollar bottle of olive oil (stored properly), can last for months, so you’re getting more than a good bang for your buck,” says Beramendi.

If you use a lot of olive oil (and dear reader, that would be me), proper storage is less of an issue because you will use it up before its quality really declines. The best way to store olive oil is sealed, in a cool, dark place (if you store your olive oil by the stove, don’t!).

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A variety of olive oils are displayed at a grocery store in Waterbury, Vt. (AP Photo)

Some manufacturers bottle their olive oil in dark or even opaque bottles to prevent light from accelerating oxidation of the oil. Light, heat and air are the enemies of stored olive oil. Stored properly, good extra virgin olive oil will last for months, and a more commercially produced one should last for at least a year, though once opened it will start to decline more quickly. If it smells or tastes rancid, toss it.

Quality olive oils come from all over. Italy is one of the most famous producers, but so are Greece, Spain and, in recent decades, California. Good olive oil is also produced in countries as diverse as Australia, Tunisia, Turkey, Morocco and Croatia. In Italy alone, Sardinia, Sicily, Umbria, Tuscany, Apulia and Liguria are among the regions revered for their distinctive oils.

Most olive oil-producing regions have third-party verification and accreditation, and Van Soest urges buyers to look for those seals on the bottle to avoid any adulteration or mislabeling of the oil.

The world of flavored olive oils is also robust. Enzo makes two lines: Infused ones are made on a larger scale from a combination of extra virgin olive oil mixed with organic essential oils such as garlic, basil and Meyer Lemon. Then there is the pricier “crush” series, where raw ingredients, such as locally grown clementines and Fresno chilies, are crushed with the olives.

Of course, as with wine, cheese or chocolate, to start to learn about olive oil is to scratch the surface of a deep and ancient food tradition. But just by experimenting a bit, and maybe spending a few extra dollars, you’ll see the delicious results right away.

(Apnews.com)

 

 

 


Plans solidify for 93rd Oscars: No Zoom, no Sweatshirts

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With nominations set and just over a month until showtime, details are trickling out about the 93rd Oscars and neither sweatshirts nor Zoom made the cut.

“Our plan is that this year’s Oscars will look like a movie, not a television show,” said show producers Jesse Collins, Stacy Sher and Steven Soderbergh in a statement Friday. They’ve enlisted Emmy and Tony Award winning director Glenn Weiss to direct the live broadcast on April 25.

Although considerably scaled down from a normal year, the producers have said they are committed to holding an in-person event at Los Angeles’ Union Station for nominees, presenters and limited guests. There will also be a live component at the Dolby Theatre, which has been home to the Academy Awards since 2001.

But unlike the Golden Globes, which combined in-person and Zoom elements in its bi-coastal broadcast, the Oscars are not making a virtual element possible for nominees who either can’t or don’t feel comfortable attending. The producers said they plan to treat the event like an active movie set with on-site COVID safety teams and testing protocols.

And, yes, they expect attendees to dress up.

We’re aiming for a fusion of Inspirational and Aspirational, which in actual words means formal is totally cool if you want to go there, but casual is really not,” producers said.

The 93rd Oscars will be broadcast live on ABC on April 25 starting at 8 p.m. ET. (via AP)

 


Regal Cinemas, 2nd largest chain in US, to reopen in April

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NEW YORK (AP) — Regal Cinemas, the second largest movie theater chain in the U.S., will reopen beginning April 2, its parent company, Cineworld Group, announced Tuesday.

Regal had been one of most notable holdouts in the gradual reopening of cinemas nationwide. For nearly half a year, its 7,211 screens and 549 theatres in the U.S. have been dark. Doors will open early next month with attendance limited to 25% to 50% capacity in about 500 locations.

Cineworld also agreed to a new multi-year deal with Warner Bros. Beginning next year, the studio’s releases will have a 45-day exclusive window at Regal cinemas, roughly slicing in half the traditional period. That doesn’t apply to Warner releases this year, which are streaming simultsneously on HBO Max when they open in theaters.

We are very happy for the agreement with Warner Bros.” said Mooky Greidinger, chief executive of Cineworld. “This agreement shows the studio’s commitment to the theatrical business and we see this agreement as an important milestone in our 100-year relationship with Warner Bros.”

Regal’s April 2 reopening coincides with the release of Warner Bros.′ “Godzilla vs. Kong.”

The agreement is the latest in a reordering of the theatrical marketplace —sea change accelerated by the pandemic but viewed as long-in-coming by some analysts given the rise in streaming services.

Universal Pictures last November agreed to deals with AMC and Cinemark — the first- and third-largest chains — to shrink the theatrical window to 17 days, or three weekends. Greidinger at the time said the company didn’t see “any business sense” in that model.

The Walt Disney Co. on Tuesday said it would release several of its largest upcoming films, including the Marvel movie “Black Widow” simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+.

In the United Kingdom, where Cineworld is targeting a May reopening, the Warner agreement shortens the theatrical window to 31 days but can be extended to 45 days if a film reaches a certain box-office threshold.

About half of North American theaters were open as of last week, according to data firm Comscore. In the past few weeks, theaters have been allowed to reopen in New York and Los Angeles — the two largest U.S. markets — for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.

“With capacity restrictions expanding to 50% or more across most U.S. states, we will be able to operate profitably in our biggest markets,” said Greidinger.

 

 

 


Coperni Spring 2020 Ready to Wear

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(photo credit: vogue.com)

Instead of the standard runway show format, Coperni’s Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant hosted a screening of a short film at the Apple store on the Champs Élysées today. The duo made an impression on the fashion community during their three seasons at Courrèges. When their gig at that Paris heritage brand ended, they took some time to themselves before relaunching their original label, Coperni, with the cleverest of ideas: a Choose Your Own Adventure Instagram account and a minimalist collection focused on tailoring and ’60s-ish shift dresses that got the balance just right between savvy branding and smart design.

Their new Spring collection is about “connectivity,” hence the venue for their short film. The concept came across most clearly with their leather Wi-Fi bag, which reproduced the familiar signal arches in black and white leather. There was also a Bluetooth bow on the waistband of miniskirts. A vestigial strap on the left shoulder of a neatly tailored blazer was meant to have some sort of relation to the theme, but it was more tenuous—though a customer can scan the jacket’s QR code to find out the fabric’s origins. Meyer and Vaillant like a close-to-the-body silhouette stripped of all but the most rigorous surface details, but even by their minimalist standards the ideas this season were a little thin. One concept that had legs was the pair of Mary Jane ballerinas that, with the adjustment of a few buckles, morphed into an ankle-strap style. These two have a lot of good ideas; with the necessary ready-to-wear development, we hope to see more of them put into action next season.

 

(printed originally on vogue.com; Coperni Spring Ready to Wear)


Spring 2021 Women’s Trends

Looking ahead to spring 2021, comfort, a sense of feel-good melancholy and the hope of joy emerge through women's fashion as top trends.

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Looking ahead to spring, comfort remains a key element in fashion — as it has been throughout the pandemic. Think large pants, tunic dressing and easy knits, which encapsulate the larger message. Meanwhile, a sense of feel-good nostalgia emerges through ’90s crop tops, transparencies and crochet details. Hope for a more joyful summer is expressed through bright colors and playful prints, all of which round out the season as designers look ahead to fall.

(Spring 2021 Women’s Trends; Looking ahead to spring 2021, comfort, a sense of feel-good melancholy and the hope of joy emerge through women's fashion as top trends.; wwd.com)


Is It Fine Art?: Putting a Price on Fashion Illustration

As movement becomes increasingly important, fashion illustration is expected to become more animated.

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Blassport, Anne Klein and Oscar de la Renta in a 1976 issue of WWD. Illustration by Steven Stipelman. Fairchild Archive

Through the decades, the value and appreciation of fashion illustration has risen and fallen with societal shifts.

While WWD’s roster of fashion illustrators included Kenneth Paul Block, Steven Stipelman, Antonio Lopez, Robert Passantino, Kichisaburo Ogawa, Cathy Clayton Powell, Ruth Reeves and scores more, the monetary value of their work is not as easy to pinpoint. The same might be said about fashion illustration as a whole, a category that is sometimes undervalued in the art world.

Executives at Christie’s and Sotheby’s declined to comment about the current interest in fashion illustration or the lack thereof. A Sotheby’s spokeswoman said she didn’t think the company has the right specialists to discuss the subject.

The is-it-really-art debate is one that fashion illustrators and gallery owners have heard for years. Available in select galleries and to an even lesser degree online via the occasional used poster or book on sites like 1stdibs, eBay and Etsy, the hunt for fashion illustrations from decades past is no easy task.

But Bil Donovan, a fashion illustrator who works for Dior Beauty among other brands, said the genre has only evolved. He said recently, “There are people who say, ‘Fashion illustration is dead,’ like Donald Judd said, ‘Oh, painting is dead.’ People just reiterate this, because they don’t see it in the usual markets where they have seen it in the past.”

A calendar that he designed for South Coast Plaza, for example, was used for signage and “huge walls, but someone in New York is going to see that in Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar,” Donovan said. However, social media is predominantly responsible for the current resurgence in interest in fashion illustration, he said. “People, who in the past would not have entrée into seeing this work, now can go on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook and see tons of illustration,” Donovan said.

David Downton, Tina Berning, Sara Singh, Cecilia Carlstedt, Daniel Egneus, Blair Breitenstein and Gill Button are helping to attract a new generation to fashion illustration, according to Donovan.

Having curated a show earlier this year at the Society of Illustrators that celebrated 100 years of fashion illustration, he said, “It almost blurs the line between fine art and commercial illustration. Fashion illustration, at least [for] high fashion, you’re not only selling a product, you’re selling the essence of the product. Some of the work is so abstract.”

Specializing in fashion illustration and mid-century textiles, Gray M.C.A, a gallery in London, garners a lot more publicity for its fashion illustration, according to fashion curator Connie Gray. “Everyone now seems to be really interested. The word ‘fashion’ is very fashionable right now, if that makes sense. Anything that is associated with the great designers, particularly of the 20th century like Dior, Balenciaga or Chanel in Europe, [is of interest] or in America, anyone from Donna Karan to Bill Blass to Halston,” she said.

Gray continued, “I’m thinking of Women’s Wear Daily particularly. They were such important names in the mid to the latter half of the 20th century. If it’s a draft, drawing or an illustration, people instantly recognize it and see the beauty and the historical interest in the drawings.”

Gray expects American fashion illustrators from the latter half of the 20th century to be the next group to begin to increase their prices. At the moment, the focus continues to be on work from the Forties, Fifties and Sixties, she said, adding that work by René Gruau could garner anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000.

Of the American WWD illustrators, Antonio Lopez is probably the most important and is beginning to command $16,100 to nearly $27,000, she said. “As the market begins to open up, collectors are beginning to recognize the worth of these later illustrators and artists, and how brilliant they were as artists. Forget the commercial tag and look at them genuinely as artists, they are the next group to pick up.”

Gray expects prices for work for the mid-range of American artists, which currently is around $2,690 to $4,000, to change over the next 10 years. “They were so prolific and brilliant, turning out the most wonderful drawings day after day,” she said. “They are also a rarity. They’re not easy to come by.”

Noting how Passantino and Melendez kept some of their work, she noted how that was not the norm. “Most of the work for Women’s Wear was tossed as soon as it was printed, or it went into an archive somewhere never to be accessed again. So when they are available, that adds to the value of them,” she said.

One exception was Block, who asked for all of his work back, as much as he could, Gray added. “With the illustrators like [Carl ‘Eric’] Erickson, [René] Bouche, or [René] Gruau, their work was commissioned, printed and literally thrown in the trash can at the end of the printing line,” Gray said. “Their value was in the published piece and not in the original art work.”

She continued, “To a large extent, you can say that about the Women’s Wear artists. What was important was what was in the paper the next day. Forget about the actual original. Some artists would ask for them back, if they could get them back. More often than not they ended up in the trash can, which is a great, great shame.”

Betty Morgan, who runs the Kenneth Paul Block Foundation with her husband Steven Block, the artist’s nephew, said the value of Block’s work varies. Several pieces have been sold in the $12,000 to $15,000 price range, and others have been sold for less than that, she said.

In 2023, Gray M.C.A hopes to showcase the work of WWD illustrators like Lopez, Glen Tunstull, Block, Melendez, Passantino and more in an exhibition. While there is the book “WWD Illustrated: 1960s – 1990s,” no one has done an exhibition of their work.

As a gallery, Gray M.C.A is constantly trying to research and unearth those long-lost drawings that have not been seen in 40 or 50 years. Gray said, “They have either been hidden away in drawers or cupboards and literally haven’t seen the light of day. When we are lucky enough to find them, and if necessary restore them and have them framed as works of art, they are absolutely stunning when you put them on the wall. They’re important not just for their social history but for their beauty.”

Measuring prices against last year’s prices is difficult, Gray said. Gray M.C.A bills itself as the only gallery in the world that specializes in this genre of art. In the 15 years that Gray has been working in the category, there have been year-on-year increases for the value of the work, she said. “It’s really about exposing the work and opening the collectors’ eyes to this genre of art. In some ways, people are only just beginning to recognize the Seventies and Eighties. It was almost too recent even 10 years ago. Going into 2021, there is a little more distance and people become a little more reminiscent so they see the work with an air of history to it,” Gray said.

In New York, Daniel Cooney, who owns a namesake gallery, said fashion illustration is available, including originals, which he specializes in. During a recent interview, he said, “It’s out there. I just think there is this snobbery that it is commercial art and not fine art. That is kind of absurd to me, but it’s true. Illustration is often made on assignments. They’re paying jobs. It is different than the traditional idea of an artist sitting in a studio, thinking. Most of them are working under deadlines. To me, that makes it more interesting. They’re trained artists — Richard Haines, Antonio Lopez. They have very broad audiences, which most artists don’t.”

Having done three shows with fashion illustrator Richard Haines, Cooney said the first one opened his eyes to a whole new audience. The gallery has also done a show for Mel Odom, and it represents the Antonio Lopez estate. Visitors will find on view original paintings or drawings, and they are often more accustomed to seeing the images printed in magazines, on Instagram or on their computers, Cooney said. “People always come in and say they have never seen the original paintings or drawings,” he said, noting how Haines has 70,000 Instagram followers but hardly any have seen his work.

When Cooney staged the Odom show, 50-year-old and 60-year-old men were coming in saying, “‘When I saw his work in a magazine as a kid, I knew there was a bigger world out there for me. But I’d never seen it in person.’ That was really exciting for me. It was not something that I had really thought about.”

Haines’ 14 x 11.5-inch drawings are priced at $3,000 and Lopez’s work that is 20 x 24 inches has sold for up to $18,000, Cooley said. Comparatively speaking, “Nothing is really worth what it was a year ago. Things are selling. It’s just bigger discounts than normal, which is fine. If I’m selling, I’m just happy to be selling.”

Former Halston model Chris Royer, who has a collection of fashion illustrations from Joe Eula and Block, addressed their talents for catching movements instantaneously. “When a girl was moving down the runway, Joe could pick up on that because they were just moving quick. He could do it with his pen. It was just unbelievable — in a couple of lines, you had it. It was so riveting because you understood the dress, you understood the attitude — you understood everything about the whole concept and what that design was about in an instant. Sometimes in photographs it becomes a little too distracting. You don’t quite get in the same way,” she said.

Eula also worked closely with Halston and Elsa Peretti to conceptualize the designer’s first fragrance, Royer said. His myriad skill set included working with photographer Milton Greene, doing some ballet costumes for Jerome Robbins in “Private Lives,” and creating concert posters and other items for Miles Davis. Eula also created posters for Diana Ross and The Supremes for a 1965 appearance at Lincoln Center. As of Monday, one of those prints was retailing for $444 — a 20 percent discount — at 1stdibs.com.

Royer thinks fashion illustration may come back in different ways, because it tells a different story. Citing Donovan’s illustrations for “About Time: Fashion and Duration,” an exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, she said that “in one line he gets it.” Royer added, “The world needs a little more fantasy and glamour. With illustration on that level, you can do it.”

While Donovan doesn’t expect fashion illustration to come back in the manner that it once was, he said, “It’s resilient. It’s never gone away. It’s always there. It’s visual poetry and it’s always found a place somewhere in the market. Whether that will be sustained, I don’t know. It just touches something in people…there will always be a place in the marketing realm for fashion illustration.”

(Is It Fine Art?: Putting a Price on Fashion Illustration; As movement becomes increasingly important, fashion illustration is expected to become more animated. wwd.com)

 

 


Is It Fine Art?: Putting a Price on Fashion Illustration

As movement becomes increasingly important, fashion illustration is expected to become more animated.

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Blassport, Anne Klein and Oscar de la Renta in a 1976 issue of WWD. Illustration by Steven Stipelman.

Fairchild Archive

Through the decades, the value and appreciation of fashion illustration has risen and fallen with societal shifts.

While WWD’s roster of fashion illustrators included Kenneth Paul Block, Steven Stipelman, Antonio Lopez, Robert Passantino, Kichisaburo Ogawa, Cathy Clayton Powell, Ruth Reeves and scores more, the monetary value of their work is not as easy to pinpoint. The same might be said about fashion illustration as a whole, a category that is sometimes undervalued in the art world.

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Kenneth Paul Block illustrates Jackie O in the newest Valentino longuette look for day for the October 12, 1970 issue of WWD.  Fairchild Archive

Executives at Christie’s and Sotheby’s declined to comment about the current interest in fashion illustration or the lack thereof. A Sotheby’s spokeswoman said she didn’t think the company has the right specialists to discuss the subject.

The is-it-really-art debate is one that fashion illustrators and gallery owners have heard for years. Available in select galleries and to an even lesser degree online via the occasional used poster or book on sites like 1stdibs, eBay and Etsy, the hunt for fashion illustrations from decades past is no easy task.

But Bil Donovan, a fashion illustrator who works for Dior Beauty among other brands, said the genre has only evolved. He said recently, “There are people who say, ‘Fashion illustration is dead,’ like Donald Judd said, ‘Oh, painting is dead.’ People just reiterate this, because they don’t see it in the usual markets where they have seen it in the past.”

A calendar that he designed for South Coast Plaza, for example, was used for signage and “huge walls, but someone in New York is going to see that in Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar,” Donovan said. However, social media is predominantly responsible for the current resurgence in interest in fashion illustration, he said. “People, who in the past would not have entrée into seeing this work, now can go on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook and see tons of illustration,” Donovan said.

David Downton, Tina Berning, Sara Singh, Cecilia Carlstedt, Daniel Egneus, Blair Breitenstein and Gill Button are helping to attract a new generation to fashion illustration, according to Donovan.

Having curated a show earlier this year at the Society of Illustrators that celebrated 100 years of fashion illustration, he said, “It almost blurs the line between fine art and commercial illustration. Fashion illustration, at least [for] high fashion, you’re not only selling a product, you’re selling the essence of the product. Some of the work is so abstract.”

Specializing in fashion illustration and mid-century textiles, Gray M.C.A, a gallery in London, garners a lot more publicity for its fashion illustration, according to fashion curator Connie Gray. “Everyone now seems to be really interested. The word ‘fashion’ is very fashionable right now, if that makes sense. Anything that is associated with the great designers, particularly of the 20th century like Dior, Balenciaga or Chanel in Europe, [is of interest] or in America, anyone from Donna Karan to Bill Blass to Halston,” she said.

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Illustrations by Robert Melendez of the movie “Cabaret” from 1972.  Fairchild Archive

Gray continued, “I’m thinking of Women’s Wear Daily particularly. They were such important names in the mid to the latter half of the 20th century. If it’s a draft, drawing or an illustration, people instantly recognize it and see the beauty and the historical interest in the drawings.”

Gray expects American fashion illustrators from the latter half of the 20th century to be the next group to begin to increase their prices. At the moment, the focus continues to be on work from the Forties, Fifties and Sixties, she said, adding that work by René Gruau could garner anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000.

Of the American WWD illustrators, Antonio Lopez is probably the most important and is beginning to command $16,100 to nearly $27,000, she said. “As the market begins to open up, collectors are beginning to recognize the worth of these later illustrators and artists, and how brilliant they were as artists. Forget the commercial tag and look at them genuinely as artists, they are the next group to pick up.”

Gray expects prices for work for the mid-range of American artists, which currently is around $2,690 to $4,000, to change over the next 10 years. “They were so prolific and brilliant, turning out the most wonderful drawings day after day,” she said. “They are also a rarity. They’re not easy to come by.”

Noting how Passantino and Melendez kept some of their work, she noted how that was not the norm. “Most of the work for Women’s Wear was tossed as soon as it was printed, or it went into an archive somewhere never to be accessed again. So when they are available, that adds to the value of them,” she said.

One exception was Block, who asked for all of his work back, as much as he could, Gray added. “With the illustrators like [Carl ‘Eric’] Erickson, [René] Bouche, or [René] Gruau, their work was commissioned, printed and literally thrown in the trash can at the end of the printing line,” Gray said. “Their value was in the published piece and not in the original art work.”

She continued, “To a large extent, you can say that about the Women’s Wear artists. What was important was what was in the paper the next day. Forget about the actual original. Some artists would ask for them back, if they could get them back. More often than not they ended up in the trash can, which is a great, great shame.”

Betty Morgan, who runs the Kenneth Paul Block Foundation with her husband Steven Block, the artist’s nephew, said the value of Block’s work varies. Several pieces have been sold in the $12,000 to $15,000 price range, and others have been sold for less than that, she said.

In 2023, Gray M.C.A hopes to showcase the work of WWD illustrators like Lopez, Glen Tunstull, Block, Melendez, Passantino and more in an exhibition. While there is the book “WWD Illustrated: 1960s – 1990s,” no one has done an exhibition of their work.

D82E79FE-F776-4AF6-9591-23BF0AE343AD

Blassport, Anne Klein and Oscar de la Renta in a 1976 issue of WWD. Illustration by Steven Stipelman.  Fairchild Archive

As a gallery, Gray M.C.A is constantly trying to research and unearth those long-lost drawings that have not been seen in 40 or 50 years. Gray said, “They have either been hidden away in drawers or cupboards and literally haven’t seen the light of day. When we are lucky enough to find them, and if necessary restore them and have them framed as works of art, they are absolutely stunning when you put them on the wall. They’re important not just for their social history but for their beauty.”

Measuring prices against last year’s prices is difficult, Gray said. Gray M.C.A bills itself as the only gallery in the world that specializes in this genre of art. In the 15 years that Gray has been working in the category, there have been year-on-year increases for the value of the work, she said. “It’s really about exposing the work and opening the collectors’ eyes to this genre of art. In some ways, people are only just beginning to recognize the Seventies and Eighties. It was almost too recent even 10 years ago. Going into 2021, there is a little more distance and people become a little more reminiscent so they see the work with an air of history to it,” Gray said.

In New York, Daniel Cooney, who owns a namesake gallery, said fashion illustration is available, including originals, which he specializes in. During a recent interview, he said, “It’s out there. I just think there is this snobbery that it is commercial art and not fine art. That is kind of absurd to me, but it’s true. Illustration is often made on assignments. They’re paying jobs. It is different than the traditional idea of an artist sitting in a studio, thinking. Most of them are working under deadlines. To me, that makes it more interesting. They’re trained artists — Richard Haines, Antonio Lopez. They have very broad audiences, which most artists don’t.”

Having done three shows with fashion illustrator Richard Haines, Cooney said the first one opened his eyes to a whole new audience. The gallery has also done a show for Mel Odom, and it represents the Antonio Lopez estate. Visitors will find on view original paintings or drawings, and they are often more accustomed to seeing the images printed in magazines, on Instagram or on their computers, Cooney said. “People always come in and say they have never seen the original paintings or drawings,” he said, noting how Haines has 70,000 Instagram followers but hardly any have seen his work.

When Cooney staged the Odom show, 50-year-old and 60-year-old men were coming in saying, “‘When I saw his work in a magazine as a kid, I knew there was a bigger world out there for me. But I’d never seen it in person.’ That was really exciting for me. It was not something that I had really thought about.”

Haines’ 14 x 11.5-inch drawings are priced at $3,000 and Lopez’s work that is 20 x 24 inches has sold for up to $18,000, Cooley said. Comparatively speaking, “Nothing is really worth what it was a year ago. Things are selling. It’s just bigger discounts than normal, which is fine. If I’m selling, I’m just happy to be selling.”

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A Kenneth Paul Block illustration from 1982.  Fairchild Archive

Former Halston model Chris Royer, who has a collection of fashion illustrations from Joe Eula and Block, addressed their talents for catching movements instantaneously. “When a girl was moving down the runway, Joe could pick up on that because they were just moving quick. He could do it with his pen. It was just unbelievable — in a couple of lines, you had it. It was so riveting because you understood the dress, you understood the attitude — you understood everything about the whole concept and what that design was about in an instant. Sometimes in photographs it becomes a little too distracting. You don’t quite get in the same way,” she said.

Eula also worked closely with Halston and Elsa Peretti to conceptualize the designer’s first fragrance, Royer said. His myriad skill set included working with photographer Milton Greene, doing some ballet costumes for Jerome Robbins in “Private Lives,” and creating concert posters and other items for Miles Davis. Eula also created posters for Diana Ross and The Supremes for a 1965 appearance at Lincoln Center. As of Monday, one of those prints was retailing for $444 — a 20 percent discount — at 1stdibs.com.

Royer thinks fashion illustration may come back in different ways, because it tells a different story. Citing Donovan’s illustrations for “About Time: Fashion and Duration,” an exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, she said that “in one line he gets it.” Royer added, “The world needs a little more fantasy and glamour. With illustration on that level, you can do it.”

While Donovan doesn’t expect fashion illustration to come back in the manner that it once was, he said, “It’s resilient. It’s never gone away. It’s always there. It’s visual poetry and it’s always found a place somewhere in the market. Whether that will be sustained, I don’t know. It just touches something in people…there will always be a place in the marketing realm for fashion illustration.”

(Is It Fine Art?: Putting a Price on Fashion Illustration; As movement becomes increasingly important, fashion illustration is expected to become more animated.; wwd.com)


Joe Doucet’s Fashionable Face Shield Launches

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It's stylish. It's a Class 1 medical device. And it's available for orders, starting Friday.

As the world reels from revelations that no place is safe from the coronavirus— whether that’s Amazon, Congress or the White House itself — a new product ventures into the market pledging to help consumers worried about infection.

On Friday, award-winning product designer Joe Doucet revealed that he’s turned his fashionable face shield concept into reality. Doucet made a splash this spring with his own take on a healthy safety product that, he hopes, people will actually want to wear. Now the product is in production and ready to take orders, with availability in November.

He explained his concept to WWD in May: “If I could adopt that common behavior [of wearing glasses] and create a face shield that would be very desirable to wear, something that has a factor about it that you want to put on, perhaps we can achieve more mass adoption of this necessity.”

In keeping with the vision, the $39 Vue Shield sits at the nose bridge and both ears, like eyeglasses and comes in three styles: a sunglasses aesthetic for men and women, plus a clear unisex version. “Additionally we have incorporated anti-fog, full UVA/UVB and SPF-50 coatings,” Doucet told WWD on Friday. “The clear version comes with a blue light-blocking coating as well.”

For now, he’s selling directly to consumers online at Vue Shield’s web site, with shipments worldwide. But the designer anticipates product availability at other retailers before long. He’s already tackled the difficulty of spinning up full-scale production during a global pandemic — which has been “the largest challenge,” he said — and now manufacturing partners can handle up to one million units a month for wholesale orders.

So far, most of the public discourse around personal protection has revolved around face masks, though health experts regularly weigh in on whether they offer better protection than shields. The opinion seems to vary, depending on whom one asks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing “cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.” Other organizations such as University of Iowa Health Care and Ohio Department of Health have also indicated that face masks are preferred, particularly when they’re adequately sealed to the face.

According to a question-and-answer column offered by MIT Medical this summer, masks can capture large respiratory droplets before they hit the air, which can help protect surrounding people. By contrast, a face shield, by virtue of its more open design, could allow the droplets to escape.

Notably, though, a team from MIT produces disposable face shields for use in hospitals, where medical personnel often use both masks and shields.

Face shields appear to have other proponents as well. In The Journal of the American Medical Association, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine professors noted that “face shields appear to significantly reduce the amount of inhalation exposure to influenza virus, another droplet-spread respiratory virus.” In a study with a simulated health-care worker, face shields seemed to reduce immediate viral exposure by 96 percent.

And Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security’s pandemic expert Amesh Adalja, M.D., has publicly acknowledged the possibility that a face shield is better than a homemade face mask, “and maybe [it’s] even better than other types of masks as well.” He pointed out that, in addition to blocking the spread of viruses, a shield also protects the eyes. “It provides more protection to the mucus membranes of your face where you might be getting infected,” he said.

Of course, Doucet’s opinion on the matter is obvious: He believes shields are more effective at preventing infection, and they also keep people from touching their faces — which can be a major vector, he said, as “we do this over 20 times an hour.”

For his product, in particular, “we have designed the shield to mound around one’s face, unlike other face shields which are quite open on the sides and bottom,” he added. The unit sits taller and curves above the head and under the chin, and covers the sides of the face.

Another key aspect that could help ease nervousness: Vue Shield is qualified as a Class 1 medical device. And if that’s not enough, at-risk people can double up by wearing a mask inside the shield, as the design allows for that.

 

 

(Joe Doucet’s Fashionable Face Shield Launches; It's stylish. It's a Class 1 medical device. And it's available for orders, starting Friday; wwd.com)


Elie Saab RTW Spring 2021

The mood is "more fancy-relaxed and cool clothes than high-heels," the designer said.

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In a historically challenging year, Lebanon has seen more than its fair share of hardships.

An explosion at Beirut’s main port on Aug. 4 killed 200 people, injured 6,000 more and ravaged neighborhoods and businesses already reeling from the coronavirus. The country is now bracing for a second wave of infections on top of escalating political and economic crises. But the fashion business continues to persevere.

“We’re managing,” said Elie Saab on a call from Beirut, explaining that damage to his atelier from the explosion was repaired within two weeks, allowing the team to get back to work producing couture, which he showed via look book two months late, and now ready-to-wear, which he presented via a short film during Paris Fashion Week.

Business in his shops is down, “but haute couture is the same,” Saab said. And he has high hopes for his new spring rtw, which harnesses the power of positive thinking to suggest we will be out of seclusion by spring, in time for a romantic, outdoorsy adventure.

“It’s a celebration of life,” he said of the film, shot in the hills of Mount Lebanon near his country home, featuring a group of models, sans masks, coming together to enjoy a day in nature — while wearing some gorgeous clothes.

As peppy as his grass greens, sunshine yellows and fuchsia pinks were, and that stunning short-sleeve floral-embroidered tulle gown with black-and-white waistband that had the ease of a T-shirt, there was something about the all-white looks that struck a chord: a strapless gown framed in feathers for a screen siren, and an easy, short-sleeve, ground-sweeping crochet lace dress for a more earthy glamourpuss. A classically elegant white shirt with cinched puff sleeves, worn over a wide belted black ball skirt, looked timeless, as did a pair of draped, rose-gold sequin goddess gowns.

Saab has a way with jumpsuits, and there were a lot to like, including one in a black translucent tulle with jet crosshatch beading that would seem Hollywood bound. A pants suit in pale blue with rosette embroideries was also charming.

The mood is “more fancy-relaxed and cool clothes than high-heels,” the designer said, acknowledging, “It’s a very critical period now. The atmosphere is very heavy and we have a lot of problems as a country. But Lebanese people always find time to be happy and celebrate life.”

Including the designer, whose son and company chief executive officer, Elie Saab Jr.  and his wife, Christina Mourad, welcomed their first child, baby Sophia Saab, this month.  “I’m so happy about that,” the proud grandpa said. “She’s so beautiful.”

(Elie Saab RTW Spring 2021:The mood is "more fancy-relaxed and cool clothes than high-heels," the designer said; wwd.com)