Saturday, July 20, 2013


It was sometime late February 2012 – the fashion industry was scrabbling to cushion the heartbreak of Raf Simons’ departure from Jil Sander, where the sartorial visionary stamped his mark by astutely reviving the German fashion house with a dose of contemporary minimalism. The ambiguity of Stefano Pilati’s relationship with the higher echelons of Yves Saint Laurent was the subject of speculation of many – it was no surprise when the French house announced his exit and placed Hedi Slimane at the helm as Pilati’s subsequent successor. The final Fall/Winter ’12 showcase was structured with strength; in design and spirit - Anna Wintour stood to raise her acclaim for Pilati as he bowed for the last time as Yves Saint Laurent’s creative director, a rarity in the American editor’s book of gestures. But, it was more than the underlying grief muted by the wave of applause and critical accolades. It was the silence of the skeptics, the weight of succeeding Tom Ford being shed off and the eight years of refined French sophistication that is ultimately central to the house of Yves Saint Laurent.

The introduction of Hedi Slimane as Pilati’s successor – at its embryonic stage – sparked verbal altercations between Slimane’s cult followers and well, everybody else. Riding on the success of the ‘skinny suit’ and championing Dior Homme, ‘edginess’ and rock-and-roll was the linchpin of Slimane’s design principles – but the question brewing on everyone’s lips was, how would he accommodate his trademark grunge, epicene signature into Yves Saint Laurent, a house famed for ‘Le Smoking’ suits and sophisticated glamour? No question, I was inevitably on the bandwagon where the cynics habituated; Stefano Pilati to Yves Saint Laurent, to me, was like Riccardo Tisci to Givenchy – sure, a marriage without its rocky parts is unheard of but at their best, they were empyreal; untouchable (the way Raf is to Dior, currently). Hedi Slimane’s Dior Homme was revolutionary, undoubtedly; but as a womenswear designer, the achingly-hip and ruling monarch of the 21st century rock-and-roll culture paled in comparison on paper.

An excerpt from New York Times:

“Mr. Slimane coveted the job at Saint Laurent, and, according to those familiar with the negotiations, he encouraged rumors that he would eventually replace Mr. Pilati. Those reports haunted Mr. Pilati for years. Mr. Bergé also became more vocal about his displeasure with its direction after the death of Mr. Saint Laurent in 2008. Mr. Bergé said he never actively campaigned for Mr. Slimane, but when Mr. Pinault finally told him he was giving the job to Mr. Slimane, he was, of course, ‘very, very happy.’”

Hedi Slimane did little to comfort the pessimists. The industry is ever familiar with Slimane’s narcissistic, diva-esque (trust me, it pains to resort to such a word) conducts, such as limiting seats to significant guests – design-wise, liberty was a concept Slimane appreciated and, well; liberty he wanted, liberty he was gifted (Pierre Bergé’s a Slimane fan). The apparent deconstruction of Yves Saint Laurent began with Slimane’s executive decision of dropping the ‘Yves’ from the fashion house’s name – to ‘Saint Laurent Paris’ – an uproar ensued, naturally, as rebellion and Hedi Slimane was indivisible. It was a nod to the ‘60s Saint Laurent Rive Gauche and Pierre Bergé’s backing of Slimane meant one thing: there was no turning back. It was only the beginning of a labyrinth of backlash and common vexation. The house of Saint Laurent was to be moved from Paris to downtown Los Angeles, resonating with Slimane’s ceaseless intrigue with the young and the ‘cool’ – it was upsetting to say the least, as to some it seemed as if he was stripping the quintessential Yves Saint Laurent spirit of the brand; an unnecessary overhaul. To some, it marked disrespect – the name and Parisian headquarters are closely tied to the heritage left behind. For the firm believers and fashion optimists, the uprooting of Saint Laurent came with the ‘Hedi Slimane’ package. A conducive environment brews success, and it seemed for a second, the whole shebang was justified on the grounds that it was what it would take to make Saint Laurent completely “Hedi” (and all for a designer, foreign to the womenswear waters.) A lover of disobedience myself, I detested the idea of Hedi Slimane (developing a legitimate headache from rolling my eyes too hard – that’s detest, yes?) but it was diluted by a surge of anticipation – is he setting us up for a spectacle? Could ‘Saint Laurent Paris’ adorn the hip, 20-somethings of the modern day, clutching on to the foolproof mixture of sleekness, sophistication and nonchalance?

Hedi Slimane debuted his Spring/Summer 2013 in the Grand Palais, Paris with Daft Punk echoing through the space in stereotypical ‘Slimane’ manner. A concoction of tuxedo jackets, pussy-bows, fringes decorating languid chiffon dresses and blouses under skinny suits completed with oversized hats rang true to the Yves Saint Laurent epilogue. It was far off transcendent – almost like retrograde Saint Laurent being transported to the 21st century, with looks that could be pulled out of a coffee table book chronicling Yves Saint Laurent’s greatest hits throughout the years. For a first showcase, ‘above mediocre’ would be an unbiased description but for Hedi Slimane, who allegedly cultivated an edgier, youthful style to the masses; many a critic were left unfazed. Cathy Horyn, who was not invited (due to her scathing remark on Hedi Slimane being birthed by Raf Simons) summed it up perfectly: “..nice but frozen vision of a bohemian chick at the Chateau Marmont.” It was more Rachel Zoe (with due respect) than Yves Saint Laurent.

The stance of ‘Saint Laurent Paris’ was reiterated with Slimane’s Fall/Winter 2013 in such an unapologetic manner – it was a youthful rebranding, in what may seem like an abuse of creative liberty. Hanne Gaby opened, and at first glance she seemed like she’s mastered the art of model off-duty dressing (note: her personal style in actuality is charmingly whimsical) – decked in a gleaming skater dress under a disheveled plaid cardigan, perfected with polka-dotted tights and biker boots. The show continuously echoed the modern grunge ideologies; plaid tops, baby-doll dresses and skimpy leather offerings. Sifting through the high-resolution images; it was a regurgitation of the mass-produced grungy model off-duty styles readily available on the shelves and racks of Topshop, Zara and All Saints. No sense of nostalgia could be excavated out of the showcase where the traditional Yves Saint Laurent girl seemed as if she was a regular at London’s Beyond Retro, digging for vintage gems to be styled in the ways would teach you. Granted, the deftly crafted leather jackets and one-off pieces resonate with Slimane’s principles and tailoring abilities – but the wonders were minimal and the clothes were bereft of any sense of ingenuity. In respect of Slimane’s clearly palpable spirit to bring the Saint Laurent girl to the future, the showcase was his interpretation of a 21st century free-spirited youth; but unfortunately, the only pubescent aspect was his delivery.

For one who’s admittedly a Stefano Pilati fan – it was a lump to digest in the sense where I am closely attached to the sentiments of Yves Saint Laurent; the Paris-based fashion house with genuine substance, an unmistakable identity and polished glamour. Hedi Slimane’s opinion of the ‘Saint Laurent’ girl (or, woman – but it seems to be a ‘girl’ under Hedi) deviates from the highbrow atmosphere circulating ‘Yves Saint Laurent’. The faces of ‘Saint Laurent Paris’ print for the season include Courtney Love, Marilyn Manson and more recently, high-fashion darling Cara Delevingne paired with Z. Cole Smith – all in monochromatic, true Slimane style. On the accessories department – the classic Yves Saint Laurent bags are, thankfully, here to stay. The proclaimed ‘it-bag’, the Saint Laurent Paris’ duffel bag to me, is a constant reminder of Slimane’s (current) lack of imagination coupled with its vapid commercialization. With fashion houses like Dior, Givenchy, Prada, Louis Vuitton and Jil Sander (and maybe, Chanel) – where does Hedi Slimane stand against fashion front-runners such as Raf Simons, Riccardo Tisci, Miuccia Prada and Marc Jacobs?

Amira Amirudin

Source: The New York Times, The Guardian,, Women’s Wear Daily, The Fashion Spot, Fashionologie, Huffington Post Style,, Business of Fashion, Fashionising.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A decadent pictorial spread across W Magazine, somewhere along 2004 (for the admittedly-thrifty 12 year old me, innocent perusal of magazines in bookstores meshed well with my schoolgirl budget) had me gazing into the pages -- wondering if I stared hard enough, perhaps time dimensions would shift and I'd be the fortunate inhabitant of Ryan McGinley's ethereal world. The instant admiration was greatly helped by the presence of then-coke-addict, eternal-goddess Kate Moss; perched atop clouds, decked in an ornate fur coat and sans everything else. The marriage of it, the consequential perfection, and how I badly wanted to be in the photo spread had me becoming a Ryan McGinley cult follower until today.

Kate Moss by Ryan McGinley, W Magazine 2004

Directing and creating soft, paradisical series of imagery from behind the lens was one part of McGinley's appeal. The fashion industry raised praises to the skies for his work, spread across various Condé Nast publications (Vogue et al) and launching models' careers in between (the hand-picked Coco Young's career greatly benefited from being McGinley's protege). The young New Yorker's body of work and signature style of photography structured his success solidly. Through my eyes, he offered something much more than snapshots riding on fashion's vicarious glamor -- his exhibits were like a limb, warmly extending its hand inviting you for a temporal escape.

Ryan McGinley's photos. source, Ryan McGinley

Mastering photography wizardry was one thing, McGinley then proceded to work with the Icelandic ambient quartet Sigur Rós -- after being courted by the band, naturally. The byproduct of this holy union was Sigur Rós' poetic music video, "Varúð" (please don't ask me for the phonetics of it); and staying close to McGinley's dream-weaving tendencies, it was a poignant reflection of New York city, where he was born and bred. There's an inevitable romantic quality about his work, from the lighting palette that bears semblance to interplanetary commotions to the way he captures his subjects in various states of soul-bearing vulnerability.

Karlie Kloss by Ryan McGinley, T Travel Winter 2012

Years of mute admiration (lie, I wax lyrical of him across all social media platforms every now and then) never sparked any bone in me to compress my adoration towards (one of) my favorite photographers -- that was before stumbling upon a New York Times' T Magazine's cover of Karlie Kloss (who, is my favorite too), dangling her spindly gams on the edge of a Nicaraguan cliff. Not only did it inflict an acrophobic trepidation, but a circus of emotions -- and this is what Ryan McGinley does to me with his images. I hope he never puts the camera down.

Monday, March 26, 2012



What’s not to love when it comes to fashion’s lovable duo behind Proenza Schouler? Mix in a little bit of handsome, meticulous crafting skills and a sweet story to back it up—you’ve got New York’s fashion darlings under the name Jack McCullough and Lazaro Hernandez. The down-to-earth tricenarians intertwined paths in Parsons School of Design in 1999—the moment what was to be the fusion of creative minds that spearhead the New York fashion house Proenza Schouler today.

Armed with internships from Michael Kors and Marc Jacobs--the duo proceeded to work side by side at United Bamboo as complementing counterparts. Jack and Lazaro discovered subsequently that both of them have a strong affinity towards the play of silhouette, colour and proportion. It wasn’t until their thesis project that the inevitably catchy name “Proenza Schouler” came about—the result of intermixing their mothers’ maiden name into a two-word moniker.

Lithesome models strutted down the runway of Proenza Schouler’s Spring/Summer ’09 collection with the infamous tossed-to-the-side hairdo, inspired by Jerry Hall’s ‘do circa the retro era and revived by the current grunge ambassador Alice Dellal. It was the tougher side than the usual classic Proenza image as Daiane Conterato opened the show with a zip-front jumpsuit in the summer shade of beige as structured duds in lily whites followed suit. The duo also sent out cheeky mint hues paired with leather and sheer dresses in multifaceted silhouettes, with awe-worthy sequined jumpsuits at the end to secure ardent desire from the spectators. Proenza Schouler mapped out their Pre-Fall ’09 with varied textures over the intrinsic sombre mood of Fall’s palette with surprise hues thrown in (think teal, royal blue)—key layering were present in metallic shades of bronze and gunmetal over the classic noir, whilst navy-clad python dresses were reworked with appropriately placed cut-outs and cage-esque lines. Pops of sequined garments in aubergines round up the cool vibe encapsulated in the collection.

Fall/Winter ’09 at Proenza Schouler brought the brand back to its roots: structured jackets ruled over the timeless tweed offerings, deftly-crafted bustier dresses in muted tones, slinky dresses knotted at the décolletage and the crowd’s favourite of Jack and Lazaro’s marriage of violet silk and mesh fabric that Brazilian knock-out Raquel Zimmerman brought absolute justice to. It also helps that the fashion house has branched into the handbag department, launching the coveted-to-the-extremity PS1 series in navy, beige and python. Toted by the nocturnal PYTs and budding fashion icons, it’s enough validation that it’s here to stay.

Written by Amira N. Amirudin
Late 2009, Sieg Magazine

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Givenchy Couture Autumn/Winter 2010. 

Slender build, a mysterious guise -- the 37-year old former Central Saint Martins graduate has spearheaded Givenchy since taking over Julian MacDonald at the helm in 2005. Italian born-and-bred (looks like we have a recurring theme) Riccardo Tisci has been gradually raking my attachment towards the Givenchy house, primarily for his dexterity in developing conceptual realms -- where the Givenchy girl could well be an extension of an extraterrestrial being or a pious Catholic saint, or even a sample of the modern, grunged-up streetstyle powerhouse. Every season his sartorial creations veer from one end of the spectrum to another, and to me the concoction of his unpredictability yet pared down by signature touches that scream Givenchy.. renders me aflutter before every showing.

Givenchy Resort 2011.

The best part of my devotion towards the creative genius is witnessing the ones suspect of his prematurely-judged talent morph into reviewers that end up waxing lyrical on his structured ideas and distinctive style. From the doom and gloom end of the color palette to making bleached-out whites his favorite, Tisci guards his audiences' anticipation with care. I love the softness that has seeped in through his collections throughout the years; alongside the interspersion of romance and piety in between. It feels like a needed growth, albeit unbeknownst to me if it is headed towards the mainstream -- but it's a nice change.

Givenchy Spring/Summer 2012.

Not a month ago Riccardo Tisci was rumored to be shortlisted to replace the infamous John Galliano at Dior (you all know the story) along with Marc Jacobs, Haider Ackermann and the likes. With Suzy Menkes' reiteration that it will indeed be Marc Jacobs, a wave of relief undoubtedly hit me. Tisci, to me, is perfectly in place.

Who is your favorite designer?

Thursday, August 18, 2011


collage, self-made; images via The Fashion Spot

Helmut Newton dubs her a fashion maniac. Tommy Ton worships her existence. Everyone else just unknowingly become ardent spectators of her dedication to become a walking piece of art. Of Italian descent, she currently champions Vogue Nippon and articulates her unyielding passion for sartorial things with monthly editorials that she styles; the undertone of it being prominently avant-garde elegance. Anna was quoted to have said,
"It's true, clothes are like a disease for me. I collect them, maybe I'll wear them just once but I have to own them. I have 4000 pair of shoes. My entire house is a closet, I even invaded part of the kitchen and the basement . When you enter my house is like going into Barneys because everything is tagged and enveloped in a maniacal way. My true weakness is jewelry because I think that it makes a difference in an outfit. And since I come from the south of Italy when I was a little kid I used to look upon Barese women and I wanted to wear jewelry like them."
The Italian has lived vicariously through the fashion industry and she never escaped her series of repercussions. She is not everyone's cup of tea. To me, there is nothing in this world that can stifle her passion in forming visual art through clothing-- she is a fashion catalyst, the epitome of an icon (who else wears 6" vertiginous heels in their 50's and can still walk like a seasoned runway model?) and she probably holds the rightful throne in the Iconic Women in Fashion hall-of-fame (at least, in mine.)

Monday, July 4, 2011


One of my favorite go-to summer collections.
images via

One fine day I was lounging around in my mint-colored bedroom, occupying whatever space that was not conquered by either haphazardly stacked paper, glossy magazines or clothes that doubled as makeshift rugs. It was by accident that I stumbled upon a bunch of stapled articles-- in which I passionately deliberated on how Alexander Wang's model-off-duty chic was destined to be the modern day staple, on how the Proenza Schouler duo of Jack and Lazaro were gifts from God to the world.. amongst other rambles.

In between the lines my heart recollected an arcane kind of joy. The marriage of what I love the most: fashion (insert eye-roll here) and writing. I did not envision to be the next Cathy Horyn, nor a female version of the infamous Derek Blasberg but my words have always flowed endlessly when it comes to sartorial matters. Writing about pailletés, organzas or (God forbid) clogs felt rather natural. I have yet to decide if it was the estrogen or just me. Here I am, in hopes to revive the love affair I had for decrypting sartorial collections into a carefully-worded personal rant. Hello.