French Beret return with force to Paris fashion

File photo showing a model wearing a french style classic beret, May 3, 2016.(Reuters)
Updated 28 February 2018
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French Beret return with force to Paris fashion

PARIS: What do Rihanna, Che Guevara nostalgics, and the Kardashian clan all have in common?
They are all bonkers about berets.
The Frenchest of hats is now also the hippest, with makers struggling to keep up with demand from everyone from pop stars to the crowned heads of Europe.
Since Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri sent out every one of her 68 models wearing one in her first autumn winter show last March, the humble Pyrenean shepherd’s hat has become the epitome of cool.
“I love berets because they’re the T-shirt of hats,” said Stephen Jones, the British master milliner who helped create the cult Dior line for Chiuri.
“Young, old, rich, poor, male, female — the beret suits everybody,” he said.
The black leather Dior version Rihanna wore to the show with such badass Black Panther attitude flew off the shelves and now sells for $999 (812 euros) on eBay.
Style icons as diverse as the Hadid sisters, the Jenner-Kardashians, the Duchess of Cambridge — a longtime fan — Meghan Markle and Princess Charlene of Monaco have all been photographed sporting berets.
Fashion critics also rejoiced at the beret’s revival with The Guardian declaring that it “may finally free us from our beanies.”
Gucci and Marc Jacobs have also got in on the act, while Laulhere, the last historic French beret maker, has been at full stretch to keep up with demand.


It has even opened a shop in Paris’ ritzy Rue St. Honore between Hermes and Prada, where sales manager Mark Saunders said some of “our bestsellers, which are covered with pearls or finished in extraordinary leathers and satins, retail at between 450 and 500 euros.”
Its more traditional “heritage” felt berets made to protect Basque and Bearnais peasants from winter snow and the summer sun sell for a much more modest 35 euros.
But retailer Sebastien Reveillard said such is the demand from fashionistas that he can never keep enough of them at his Paris est Toujours Paris (Paris is always Paris) boutique in the French capital.
“Many customers buy two and three at a time. They cannot make them fast enough for us to sell them,” he told AFP as Paris fashion week began in earnest Tuesday.
“We have sold out of some colors and if I could get my hands on more I would sell them too. Everybody — young and old — wants them.
“Not only is the beret always chic, but you can wear them for every occasion. And they last forever, the Laulhere ones are made for life,” he added.
Saunders admitted that the modest Laulhere factory, which nestles in the foothills of the Pyrenees at Oloron-Sainte-Marie, is stretched, but insisted that there were no quick fixes to meet demand.
“It takes two days to make a beret and there is an incredible amount of hand work involved. It is a very complicated process, 80 percent of it by hand.


The felting process alone takes between 11 and 18 hours, Irish-born Saunders said, using the “water from the Gave d’Aspe river right next to the factory.
“It is not easy recruiting people in such a rural area but if we moved the factory somewhere else we would not have the water which is full of minerals from the mountains.
“When you touch a finished beret you can feel them, and we would lose that.”
Saunders said the beret’s renaissance is no passing fad, but has been gathering since its present owners, Cargo, rescued Laulhere from the brink of bankruptcy in 2012.
“We realized we had something quite amazing in our hands, something that was both a fantastic fashion and luxury item which also had an incredible history and cultural importance.”
Having more than doubled the workforce to 55, Laulhere last year sold more than 300,000 berets.
With stores in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and now China clamouring for its hats, Saunders said this year they will sell even more.
“We have calls every day from shops all over the world,” he said.
Reveillard said the beret’s timeless appeal was because they were “so hugely practical. You can wear it as a kind of cap, like the farmers do, backwards like Rihanna to show the label or sideways” at a rakish angle.
A fact that was confirmed when AFP questioned beret wearers on the freezing streets of the French capital.
Florence, a 33-year-old charity worker, said you “will never look like an idiot in a beret, unlike those people who wear woolly hats in cold weather.”
Twenty-one-year-old Zulu Cecile from Bordeaux said the beret was the quintessential symbol of French style. “It is lovely to wear, goes with almost everything, and is very fashionable at the moment. What is not to like?“


No hard feelings: Paris fashion star Abloh reaches out to Kanye West

The relationship between West and Abloh has been tested after the later was named head of menswear at Louis Vuitton in March. (AFP)
Updated 19 June 2018
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No hard feelings: Paris fashion star Abloh reaches out to Kanye West

  • Abloh will show his own Off-White label in Paris Wednesday before making his debut bow with the world’s biggest luxury brand on Thursday
  • Abloh grew up in Illinois where his seamstress mother taught him her trade as he studied engineering and later architecture. He has made it clear his clothes will be much more street

PARIS: Virgil Abloh paid tribute to his friend and longtime collaborator Kanye West as the US designer took star billing as Paris men’s fashion week began Tuesday.
Relations between the pair have been tested since Abloh was named head of menswear at Louis Vuitton in March, with the rapper saying it was “hurtful” to lose his muse and erstwhile artistic director.
West has made no secret of his own ambitions to lead a major luxury brand as a designer, and revealed last month that he had also once been in talks with Louis Vuitton’s owner, French fashion magnate Bernard Arnault.
Abloh — the son of Ghanaian immigrants — will show his own Off-White label in Paris Wednesday before making his debut bow with the world’s biggest luxury brand on Thursday.
As he put the finishing touches to his collections he posted a photo of Kanye West to his 2.3 million Instagram followers with legend, “The architect of it all.”
West’s wife Kim Kardashian responded with emojis of a heart and two fires to signal her approval. The rapper — who has his own Yeezy line for Adidas — remained silent.
But he told US radio star Charlamagne tha God in a wide-ranging interview last month that there were no hard feelings.
“These things are hurtful when you are working with a talent like... Virgil and somebody comes through and says ‘Bam! I am going to take Virgil.’
“There is some validation in that someone that I came up with is now the head (of menswear) of Louis Vuitton,” West added.
Abloh, 38, is only the second black man to rise to the top of a big Paris fashion house, with French designer Olivier Rousteing responsible for both Balmain’s men and women’s lines.
As well as his nod to his former employer, Abloh dropped hints on social media that he was about to give the aristocratic Vuitton label a strong dose of black empowerment and streetwear style.
Vuitton’s previous designer, Briton Kim Jones — who makes his own debut for Dior Homme on Saturday — often referenced British colonial and safari chic in his clothes.
Abloh grew up in Illinois where his seamstress mother taught him her trade as he studied engineering and later architecture. He has made it clear his clothes will be much more street.
He posted films on Instagram of cotton plants and ceramic neck chains, in what could be seen as references to slavery, as well as a Louis Vuitton record box inspired by hip-hop pioneer Grandmaster Flash, “where you can put your coat in while DJing, shielding it from smoky clubs and spilled drinks.”
Abloh had worked hand in glove with West for more than 15 years. They designed clothes together on Photoshop and were $500-a-month interns under Karl Lagerfeld at Fendi in Rome in 2009 even though the rapper already had a string of Grammy awards under his belt.
West said that he only found out about Abloh taking over at Vuitton as the appointment was announced in March. “He (Abloh) made the call two minutes before it hit the Internet... He had told me he was looking at Versace too... but he knew he was going to Louis Vuitton,” he added.
West admitted days later in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter that the news had weighed on him. “It’s not bad or good,” he said.
Abloh has built up a celebrity following at Off-White with high-profile collaborations with Nike, Jimmy Choo and Moncler. Such has been the buzz that fashionistas jostled each other to get into his show in Paris last March.
Not everyone, however, is sold on streetwear’s inexorable rise. New York Times critic Guy Trebay said a “lot of what turns up on the runways lately looks less designed than crowdsourced.”
The young German and Swedish brands CMMN SWDN and Gmbh kicked fashion week off on Tuesday evening after a dance show by choreographer Mathilde Monnier inspired by shoemaker J.M. Weston.
French label Pigalle also tried to rethink the catwalk by presenting its new collection during an hour-long music and dance show at one of the French capital’s most prestigious concert halls.