Plus, Rimowa and Palace skateboards land a collaboration while Van Cleef & Arpels gets lucky
Words by ELIZABETH VARNELL
Creative director Jonathan Anderson’s bold new Studio Ghibli collaboration gathers the characters and spirit of Hayao Miyazaki’s 2004 epic animated film, Howl’s Moving Castle, into an inventive new capsule for Loewe. Headlined by a bag depicting the rickety assemblage of the castle itself collaged from bits and remnants of Puzzle, Flamenco, Amazona and Hammock bags, the Spanish house’s third collection with the Japanese animation studio is as creative as it is evocative. Beloved characters—including the young milliner Sophie, the wizard Howl and the fire demon Calcifer, plus Turnip Head, the Witch of the Waste and the apprentice Markl—all turn up in leather, shearling intarsia and embroidery across ready-to-wear and accessories. Film scenes play out on jackets, sweaters, pants, shirts and shorts, as well as Loewe’s signature bags, card holders and even a smoky new Calcifer-inspired candle. loewe.com.
Oswald and Ortensia are the latest cartoon couple making their mark on pop culture, emblazoned across Givenchy creative director Matthew M. Williams’ latest capsule collection of varsity jackets, T-shirts, totes, tennis shoes, crossbody bags, caps, denim pants and more. In honor of Walt Disney Company’s centenary and the Lunar New Year, the Givenchy pieces incorporate the so-called Lucky Rabbit (a character Disney reportedly deemed saucy) and his gal pal. The collection debuts in tandem with a new short film from Walt Disney Animation Studios—the first to depict the mischievous precursor to Mickey Mouse in nearly 95 years. Williams’ designs play on Oswald’s adventurous spirit. On one jacket Oswald sits astride a horse heading to Los Angeles, while on a shirt he’s sporting an impish grin while revving his motorcycle. Denim patches show the intrepid hare’s softer side as he gallantly offers Ortensia (a cat with voluminous eyelashes) a flower. givenchy.com.
One look inside Ahlem Manai-Platt’s new Hayes Valley boutique, and it’s clear she’s channeled her favorite designers, Isamu Noguchi and Pierre Jeanneret, for the spare interiors of her newest eyeglass outpost. Manai-Platt’s full assortment of small-batch collections produced in France and Japan is on offer here, including her new Spring/Summer 2023 frames inspired by the kindred subcultures of midcentury jazz and the postindependence Congolese style of Les Sapeurs. The designs—which bring to mind improvisational avant-garde artists Pharoah Sanders, Nina Simone, Dizzy Gillespie and Sarah Vaughan, as well as the creativity that follows social and political restrictions—come on the heels of Ahlem’s recent introduction of a titanium collection and a capsule with Los Angeles-based musician Beck. The 8-year-old eyewear house partnered with Bay Area artist Yvonne Mouser on a sculpture exhibition in the new space, and a limited-edition hand-drawn cleaning cloth by artist Alphonse Bardou-Jacquet commemorates Ahlem’s arrival in San Francisco. 416 Hayes St., S.F., 415-400-4442; ahlemeyewear.com.
Multihyphenate creative Anine Bing, who launched her namesake line in Los Angeles over 10 years ago, is celebrating the brand’s first decade with a new 2,300-square-foot flagship on Melrose Avenue housing signature pieces including blazers, moto jackets, denim in a variety of cuts, plus slouchy sweaters and Rooney mules. The minimalist space, dotted with a Platner armchair and marble shelves, is a nod to Bing’s embrace of Scandinavian simplicity, while the only-in-L.A. natural light streaming onto white waxed concrete floors evokes her creative base in California. Prints shot by youth culture photographer Terry O’Neill—including a black-and-white shot of Brigitte Bardot—hang beside antique mirrors reflecting the line’s spring collection. Flowing dresses, tops, hoodies and T-shirts take inspiration from ’90s and early 2000s silhouettes and prints. 8211 Melrose Ave., L.A., 213-651-1444; aninebing.com.
Nonagenarian conceptual artist Yayoi Kusama sees the world as dense fields of infinite dots, which she first spotted in hallucinations she experienced as a child. Kusama has created mirrored rooms evoking the phenomenon—two are at Los Angeles’ Broad Museum—and her lifelong obsession with polka dots, infused throughout her art, is now dancing across Louis Vuitton’s latest launches. The French house, which last collaborated with Kusama in 2012, is releasing two drops this spring encompassing the artist’s painted dot motif made with visible brushstrokes, her space-age mirrored circles, her infinity dots and distinctive psychedelic flower emblems—precisely applied to Capucines and Dauphine bags, Soft Trunks, silk scarves, silk twill pajama suiting, jackets, mini dresses, Squad high-tops and fragrances. The collection extends to menswear with colorful and grayscale dots enveloping everything from zipped overshirts to baseball caps, belts, eyewear and LV Trainers. louisvuitton.com.
Dior is again launching its annual collaboration pairing global artists with the unique architectural canvas and charms of the French house’s Lady Dior bag, and this year two California artists, Alex Gardner and Brian Calvin, are mining their figurative practices for the seventh limited-edition project. Long Beach native Gardner’s designs incorporating black velvet echo his works depicting long-limbed, faceless figures, while Ojai-based Calvin’s sundrenched faces are rendered in bright beads, sequins and embroidery thread. Their concepts join equally enthralling bag transformations by Egyptian painter Ghada Amer, Canadian conceptual photographer and filmmaker Sara Cwynar, Brooklyn-based painter Shara Hughes, South Korean ink-and-paper abstract artist Minjung Kim, Russian tapestry maker Zhenya Machneva, Qatar’s Bouthayna Al Muftah, French sculptor and painter Françoise Pétrovitch, Chinese multidisciplinary artist Wang Yuyang, and the late boundary-pushing artist Dorothy Iannone, who was based in Berlin. dior.com.
South Korean eyewear innovator Gentle Monster, known for oversized frames and cultish collaborations with brands such as Hood By Air and Moncler Genius, has launched its third California flagship, this time at South Coast Plaza. The 4,500-square-foot space is a digital wonderland filled with video art and rotating kinetic installations riffing on the concept of evolution. Launched by Seoul-based founder Hankook Kim in 2011, the brand will showcase its coveted sunglasses and specs from the 2023 line, including bold cat-eye silhouettes, voluminous oval shades (think vibrant blue frames with azure mirrored lenses) and sophisticated black selections. Also on offer is the new Bold collection, emblazoned with star formations, a nod to the universe’s galactic systems. South Coast Plaza, 3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, 213-935-8114 ext. 4; gentlemonster.com..
Claremont-based sculptor and woodworker Vince Skelly, who transforms salvage lumber into masterfully carved art, is collaborating with Birkenstock on its Bold collection. Heritage-focused upscale versions of Arizona sandals and Boston clogs made from natural materials are meant to gain texture, just as Skelly’s sculptures patinate with time. The new men’s shoes, utilizing the line’s signature nubuck leather and contoured cork footbeds, incorporate double-pronged brass buckles and shearling lining for a modern take on the originals. In this iteration, proper alignment, stimulated circulation and stability accompany the age-old design made anew. The collection arrives as the storied German brand opens a boutique in Larkspur near its American headquarters, stocking limited-edition designer collabs and highlighting the Bay Area’s role in bringing the brand stateside. Marin Country Mart, 1019 Larkspur Landing Circle, Ste. C6, Larkspur, 415-925-1134; birkenstock.com.
Rimowa teams up with Palace artists
Palace skaters Rory Milanes and Charlie Birch roll Rimowa’s latest limited-edition suitcase through Tokyo and into their subconscious minds in new video footage created to launch the collaboration between the aluminum luggage maker and the London-based skate brand. The partnership includes a limited run of Cabin suitcases digitally printed with a nomadic desert scene dreamed up by Palace artists using a hand-airbrushed aesthetic, skate decks made of seven-ply Canadian maple wood (part of the country’s tree regrowth program), and a joint sticker set complete with reworked logos and a nod to the brands’ respective origins in Cologne and London. Rimowa, 201 Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-888-8686; Palace Skateboards, 9006 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, 424-343-0063; Dover Street Market, 608 Imperial St., L.A., 310-427-7610.
Bottega Veneta plies its craft in motion
Bottega Veneta creative director Matthieu Blazy’s new structural Andiamo bag is a nod to his foundational ethos for the Italian house, the idea that its designs are made to move. This obsession with motion plays out in the name of the bag, the Italian imperative for “Let’s go.” The carryall, which is made of soft leather using the atelier’s signature intrecciato technique, includes braided top handles and a shoulder strap with an adjustable metal knot to change its length. The angular shape is modified by rounded corners and comes in a variety of sizes and a subtle color palette, including light teal, dark brown, maroon, dark blue, beige green, pale yellow, and white.
Portions of this story originally appeared in the Spring 2023 issue of C Magazine.
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