WEARING ART: The Academy Award-winning actress Michelle Yeoh is the latest Balenciaga‘s brand ambassador, joining French actress Isabelle Huppert and Thai star PP Krit Amnuaydechkorn.
The Parisian couture house on Thursday unveiled Yeoh’s appointment alongside its spring 2024 campaign, which starred Yeoh, Amnuaydechkorn, Malgosia Bela, Arthur Del Beato, Eva Herzigova, Soo Joo Park and Khadim Sock.
“I am thrilled to join Balenciaga as a brand ambassador,” says the Malaysian-born and London-educated Yeoh, who started her filming career in Hong Kong in the ’80s. She pushed her decades-long career to a new high last year for the A24 movie “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” which scored her a Golden Globe, a SAG Award and an Oscar.
“For me, fashion is a form of art. It’s not just about a dress but about self-expression, how you feel in the dress, and the values you embody wearing it; it is a way to communicate my work and who I am to the world. Wearing Balenciaga makes me value the artistry and craftsmanship behind every piece. The brand embodies a sense of originality and relevance while always remaining true to its heritage as a couture atelier,” she added.
Yeoh has worked closely with Balenciaga on several major red-carpet moments and attended the brand’s fall 2023 couture fashion show.
During this year’s Cannes Film Festival, she exclusively wore Balenciaga Couture for her red-carpet appearances. She also wore the brand to the Kering Women in Motion Dinner, at which she accepted the night’s Women in Motion prize.
During the dinner, she gave an emotional, inspiring talk that encompassed the history of art, her passion for building cross-cultural bridges and unleashing women’s creativity.
“Art moves like water, capable of causing great beauty, great terror and great change. I have watched the currents throughout my entire career and I am watching the tides turn now. For too long, we as women have been left out of rooms and conversations. We have been told the door is closed to us. Well, Virginia Woolf once said, ‘There is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind,’” she said. — Tianwei Zhang
GARDEN OF THE SENSES: A sensory garden at the National Institute for Blind Youths has been officially inaugurated in Paris’ 7th arrondissement.
The sweeping 7,545-square-foot Helen Keller Garden is tucked behind a wall lining the city’s bustling streets. The green space was reworked to resemble the garden that Louis Braille, who founded the universal writing and reading system for the blind, experienced in 1843. He had been a student and teacher at that school.
The idea to recreate a garden that awakens all of the senses stemmed from a meeting of one of the institute’s teachers and a Givaudan perfumer, who set up a workshop together.
Plants sewn here — such as sage, lavender and miscanthus — are meant to be both touched and smelled. The garden is open to the institute’s students, as well as children being treated across the street at the Hospital Necker and the general public, on weekends.
The garden was funded by the Givaudan Foundation, Christian Dior, La Ferthé, and subsidies from the Ile de France region and ARSL Ile de France Regional Health Agency.
The Helen Keller Garden is symbolic of the school’s aim of integrating its students in the outside world, according to Stéphane Gaillard, the institute’s director, at a conference Tuesday night.
“There is a real dialogue between the institute and the world,” he said.
Keller herself began learning words in a garden as a blind and deaf child. It is believed she also walked in the institute’s garden during her visit in 1952 to the Louis Braille Center.
“Helen Keller is a woman symbolic of perseverance, but also determination,” said Rachida Dati, mayor of the 7th arrondissement. She thanked descendants of Braille, who were in attendance, as well.
“He has inspired thousands of students to pursue their dreams and never give up,” she said.
Dati called the garden “a place of appeasement, of retreat, of humanity.” — Jennifer Weil
CHAMPIONING CREATIVES: The Guggenheim Museum and Converse are teaming up to help champion the next generation of creatives through a global partnership.
While athletic companies like Adidas, Reebok, Nike and Puma have tapped into the music industry for years to connect with consumers and influencers on different levels, the art world is relatively fertile ground for many brands. Hugo Boss has long recognized that potential, through the Hugo Boss prize established with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in 1996.
Through the new global partnership, the Guggenheim and Converse will provide educational programming, career development and artistic experiences to participants from a a range of cultural, economical and disciplinary backgrounds. The Nike-owned brand will pony up some funds for the Guggenheim’s paid internship program, as well as and its Innovation Lab Series, which caters to New York City undergraduate and graduate students keen to work in the arts, design and museum fields.
As part of the new union, participants in the Converse All Stars Program, an international initiative that offers mentorship, commissioned work and immersive experiences, will now have access to select programs at the museum during the academic year that are supported through the partnership. A Guggenheim spokesperson declined to pinpoint Converse’s investment in the internship program and the series Thursday. There are not any plans to sell Converse products via the museum’s stores or site, nor will there be any Converse branding affiliated with the museum.
To draw attention to the initiative, “Late Shift x Center for Disability Studies at NYU With Jerron Herman: Rest” will be presented at the Upper East Side museum Thursday. The site-specific work features a performance by the interdisciplinary artist and dancer Jerron Herman.
Also on tap is a screening of “Notes From the Panorama,” a video by the multidisciplinary artist Carolyn Lazard and the MacArthur fellow-winning writer and performer Amber Rose Johnson. The work features archival images of Black rest and leisure with an accompanying performance score. That combination aims to slow down time and to raise awareness for the need for rest in Black and brown communities, which only intensified during the pandemic. — Rosemary Feitelberg
NEWCOMER: Achilles Ion Gabriel, the Finnish-born designer best known as the creative director of Camper and Camper Lab, is set to debut a new namesake brand at the upcoming edition of Pitti Uomo in January, WWD has learned.
Ion Gabriel, who previously worked for the likes of Marni and Sunnei, as well as Marimekko, and ran his own footwear label dubbed Ion debuted in 2012 and discontinued in 2019, is stretching his design muscles toward ready-to-wear.
The collection, the designer said, encompasses apparel, footwear and accessories with a gender-neutral bent and boasting an immersive component.
The new brand is to be featured at the menswear trade fair as “Debut Collection Pitti Uomo.” The designer also plans to stage a presentation during Paris Men’s Fashion Week later that month.
The brand will only be available through the Achilles Ion Gabriel’s website, in addition to a small selection of retailers.
“I am very excited to debut the first ready-to-wear collection of Achilles Ion Gabriel and share my creative vision at Pitti Uomo. It’s an honor for me and my team and we cannot wait for January,” Ion Gabriel said.
Although the “Debut Collection Pitti Uomo” characterization of Ion Gabriel’s attendance does not seem to have a precedent, he follows in the footsteps of other up-and-coming labels that have joined the fair in the past, including Luke Edward Hall’s Chateau Orlando and Chu Suwannapha’s Chulaap.
Ion Gabriel was appointed creative director of CamperLab in 2019 tasked with developing a younger, experimental range of products for Camper. In 2020 his design responsibilities at the footwear company were expanded as he was named creative director of Camper as well, overseeing design for the brand’s whole product portfolio.
Pitti Uomo, running Jan. 9 to 12 at the Fortezza da Basso in Florence, is shaping up as a packed affair.
Earlier this week, Todd Snyder told exclusively to WWD that he is returning to the runway in Florence during Pitti Uomo as the fair’s “designer showcase” with a menswear show on the opening night, Jan. 9, at 5 p.m. local time at the Stazione Leopolda venue.
The trade show also already announced Luca Magliano as guest designer, and British brand S.S. Daley as special guest. The former’s attendance crowns a golden year for the Bologna-native designer, after his namesake brand has gained increasing heat on the Milan scene in the last few seasons and he received the Karl Lagerfeld Special Jury Prize at the LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers.
For his part, Liverpool-native designer Steven Stokey-Daley was the 2022 recipient of the LVMH Prize for Young Designers.
Other recent guests of the men’s fair included ERL’s Eli Russell Linnetz, Martine Rose, Grace Wales Bonner and Thebe Magugu. Former guest brands and designers showing in Florence also included Jil Sander’s creative directors Lucie and Luke Meier; Y/Project’s creative director Glenn Martens; Jonathan Anderson of JW Anderson; Roberto Cavalli, and Craig Green.
A full schedule of events for the January edition of Pitti Uomo is to be released later on Friday. — Martino Carrera
GOOD TASTE: Lauren Santo Domingo, artistic director of the Tiffany & Co. Home Collection, and Martina Mondadori, founder and editor in chief of Cabana Magazine marked issue 20 of the publication with an intimate dinner by Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud.
Guests including Stefon Diggs, Eve Jobs, Ivy Getty and Phoebe Gates were treated to a dining experience curated by renowned Michelin starred chef Daniel Boulud, who was also in attendance.
Santo Domingo — a socialite, longtime Vogue contributor and cofounder and chief brand officer for Moda Operandi — joined Tiffany in fall 2022 working in partnership with the brand’s housewares design and production team in an advisory capacity.
Highly regarded for her taste within fashion circles, her homes, which span the globe from Colombia to Paris to New York City and the Hamptons, have been widely featured in interior design publications, and she has used her platforms to support up-and-coming talents in the interiors and furniture design space.
Cabana Magazine’s Issue 20, a collector’s edition embodying the spirit of the collaboration, is now available on newsstands, inviting enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the convergence of fashion, art, and refined taste. — Thomas Waller
FRIENDLY ADVICE: Kim and Gail Murstein of “Excuse My Grandma” were among the guests making merry Wednesday night at the KnitWell Group’s Holiday House in New York.
While some waited patiently to have permanent jewelry zapped on by Catbird, and others sipped Serendipity hot chocolate, most of the attendees were checking out the festive assortments from Talbots, Ann Taylor, Lane Bryant, Loft and Haven. The setting felt decidedly late December, since the halls were decked and the trees were decorated at the Irish American Historical Society. The Muersteins dressed accordingly, with Gail Murstein wearing a Talbots black knit suit and her grandaughter in a red cashmere cardigan and slim black pants.
Started as a podcast, “Excuse My Grandma” took off after posting videos to Instagram and TikTok.
The duo’s first viral video was sparked by her grandmother telling her, “‘Date someone who wants you,’” Kim Muerstein said. “And I said, ‘Not my type.’”
“Obvioulsy, I was kidding but our generation does think about dating and lifestyle so different from yours,” she said.
Her grandmother added, “I think it’s actually better today. You don’t have to get married at 21 or 22. You can have a little life experience.”
The duo agreed on a few dating tips: finding someone who loves you and sees you for how you are; prioritizing your partner and sharing mutual values. One of Kim Murstein’s favorite one-liners from her grandmother was, “’Don’t think of it as he ghosted you. Think of it that you left him speechless.’”
Fashion-wise, the Mursteins “focus on really classic style,” Kim Murstein said. “People really love Grandma Gail’s chic old classic style. Coastal grandma and ballet flats have been really popular are those things are part of her uniform daily.”
Grandma Gail advised shoppers to look for “simple — classic black pants, white shirt, beautiful sweater and a pocketbook that you can keep for 30 years.”
Kim Murstein offered, “My advice is steal things from your mom’s closet or your grandma’s closet. All of the stuff I have been wearing recently is vintage Grandma Gail and I’ve never gotten more compliments.”
“And enjoy — fashion is to be enjoyed,” her grandmother added.
Another social media influencer and Talbots partner, “Brunch with Babs” Barbara Costello, who has 3 million Instagram followers, was also eager to chat with KnitWell’s executive chair and chief executive officer Lizanne Kindler. With the holidays approaching, Costello suggested, “Plan ahead. Get everything you can get done ahead of time. For Thanksgiving, I’ve got a fabulous turkey gravy in the cookbook [that was released]. You can make that tomorrow.”
She continued, “Just plan ahead. Your freezer is your friend. That way you won’t be getting ready the day of the holiday and missing it all, because you’re trying to catch up and get things going. If you plan ahead, you’re. going to be part of the memory making instead of being stuck in the kitchen. Who wants that?” — R.F.