Coco Game Club makes its way to Paris for a four-day event in Gallerie Lafayette. The pop-up exhibition offered make-up lounges for a free makeover, arcade games in pixelated Chanel products, live bands and day-long DJ sets all overlooking the Haussmanian architecture.
It was a nostalgic experience for those who were born in the 80s and 90s who grew up on arcade games and feast for the eyes of young newcomers who have not seen these technologies in their life.
It seems like cosmetic brands have been using technology to their advantage and creating more experiential environments for their consumers to interact with. The family-owned Chanel keeps its doors quite tight so I am just happy to see my favorite heritage house learning to adapt and becoming more visible to the market.
Let’s talk about Namacheko for a minute. To be honest, this brand flew under my radar in the last year but seeing the show first hand this season and understanding how they were able to bridge their heritage into an appropriate representation through a collection reminded me of why I love fashion in the first place.
Namacheko opened the second day of Paris Men’s Fashion Week at the Palais Galliera. The sun’s rays beamed through the pillars to create shapes and shadows that highlighted the runaway. The collection or what I prefer to call another episode of Dilan and Lezan Surr’s discovery of their personal identity magnified the themes around culture, heritage, and customs. Slightly oversized boxy tops with diamond-geometric shapes as accents, sharp collared polos underneath, monochromatic thigh-high shorts, calf-length socks and brogue shoes reminded me of a prep-school uniform for young men. It was a classic and most definitely a wearable collection that could easily elevate a curated wardrobe. Dilan recalls watching the film “Solaris” by Andrei Tarkovsky and used this as an inspiration for playing with colors. It was unique enough to stand on its own without falling into the trend trap of streetwear luxe seen in other brands for the Spring/Summer 19 collections.
But let’s go past the aesthetic and into the story of the brother-sister duo behind the brand. The Surr siblings were born in Kirkuk, Iraq before moving to Sweden in the late 90s. Despite Sweden being home most of their lives, their deep-seated roots and connection to their homeland became a part of their quest in unraveling their personal identity. The duo wanted to embrace that part of themselves and in doing so initially created a short-film, a photo-book and a collection as part of a passion project where their family who still resides in the autonomous region of Iraq starred in.
The industry immediately took notice of their minimalistic and fashion-forward pieces. The unprecedented rise and acknowledgment put them on-schedule in Paris Fashion Week – unusual, especially for menswear. Though this is solely a brand for men, women graced the runaway dressed in the same outfit.
The designs of each are not just for aesthetic purposes. Everything from the shapes used, the textiles and the color combination are references to their personal story, the tale of two cities. In a previous interview posted on Kodd Magazine, the designers say that the colors used such as red, black and green are representations of the different ethnic communities present in Kirkuk, all of which live in the same city but are not necessarily allies.
Despite leaving a country that has been politically and socially torn, they are far from forgetting the past behind. In a way, they are proclaiming their truth and fighting the war against Islamic State through fashion and art. No guns, no bombs, but a powerful message on identity, community, and freedom of expression. Some would argue but how is this making a change? Through a culture of conversation.
No doubt the fashion industry can be stubborn at times. But it is continuing to be a platform where expression on the catwalk, on the streets, on print and etc is a revolution not just for people in the forefront but those who are struggling with displacement and belonging in their new “homelands”.
A few more photos of the collection below from Vogue:
I never doubted the power of communication. But prior to moving to Paris, my definition of PR was merely event management, artist relations, lavish soirees and free giveaways. There’s nothing wrong with that yet as I immersed my self more as a practitioner focused on the fashion industry, I understood the capacity of PR and what it can do to shape a narrative.
On occasion, I find myself in a conversation where people let off snarky remarks upon learning I work in the fashion industry. Comments such as “oh, isn’t fashion shallow and only for the bourgeoisie?” or “What can fashion really do for the world on a grand scale if its just for show?” I simply give a smile despite a built-up angst within me. Maybe it’s me not wanting to sound defensive or I am just used to all the criticisms.
To those who don’t seem to believe in the industry I am deeply passionate about and its role in today’s world, just proves why PR needs to exist now more than ever. The challenge for us is to continuously educate and use these tools to get our message across. And believe it or not, the fashion has more to say than what it lets off on the surface.
I recently attended Afrobytes, a conference on the African technology Industry held last June 07-08 in MEDEF France. Sissi Johnson, brand strategist and someone I personally look up to was the moderator for the panel “Exploring the intersection of Fashion and Technology and contributing to more representative stories of contemporary Africa”. With her were three speakers namely Amina Belghiti, head of partnerships for Instagram France, Tania Habimana, entrepreneur and public speaker from South Africa and lastly Isabelle Faggianelli, LVMH digital transformation director.
With the African continent burgeoning, no doubt they will be the next fashion and cultural hub. Fashion weeks are taking place in cities such as Lagos and Cape Town; The local luxury market is slowly gaining momentum and recognition from across the globe; emerging designers are making their mark within the industry and so on and so forth.
Sissi opened the conversation by stating “Fashion has the power to tell stories and brand a nation.” This statement led to an interesting and fruitful discussion on why and how fashion can become a catalyst for change. Not only do artists come together and showcase their work with pride but they too become part of a community that shapes the narrative. And in doing so, the availability of technology and numerous platforms provide an avenue for these talented individuals to create a name for themselves and give Africa the voice they deserve. Their stories should not be dictated, white-washed or manipulated by anyone but rather let them speak their truth with their art. We already know the value of technology and the role it played in history, politics, and society now we move the conversation even further.
According to Isabelle, even heritage houses such as LVMH take part in social listening ensuring they grasp the needs and wants of their audience. This allows esteemed labels to adapt and move with culture. Amina adds “The youth will listen more to fashion designers than they do to political figures”. And I believe this to be true to a certain extent because art speaks volumes and with no boundaries.
So if I find myself in another awkward scenario with judgemental stares and rude critics about the role of fashion, I would confidently say that no, fashion is not simply all about luxury or perfection neither is it exclusive to class, race or identity. but fashion is part of a wider dialogue that fosters innovation and creativity beyond imaginable.
And One day, I dream of doing the same for my country. I truly believe that the Philippines has a robust fashion industry deserving to be acknowledged on a global scale. For now, I’ll continue to learn the ropes of the fashion industry and the ever-evolving PR industry.
Down South of France in a small town of Grasse lies the origins of Chanel no.5. But for a weekend, Paris was treated with the same flowers that make up the classic scent. Rows of Jasmine, May rose, Iris Pallida, Tuberose, and Bourbon Geranium delighted our senses, for us to feel, smell and touch. The moment you step foot into the gates of the gardens you get a quick lesson on the variety of flora used and the unique distillation process. This was a treat for the market since the original gardens are not open to the public.
Chanel no.5 continues to be a staple in every French woman’s essentials but with growing competition, the brand faces challenges in keeping their iconic scent relevant to today’s market. Two years prior, Chanel released “Chanel no. 5 L’Eau” with Lily-Rose Depp as the face of the fragrance. This is said to be a more modern take on the classic perfume. She is a second generation Chanel muse taking after her mother Vanessa Paradis. The then 17-year old was a good way to tap into the younger generation that has yet to understand the legacy of Chanel no.5.
Though personally I am not a perfume connoisseur and have a limited lexicon for describing and distinguishing the aroma of every flower, I was curious to learn the dexterity of this artistry. Plus Chanel is still one of my favorite luxury brands to date, so this was something I could not miss.
His face may not be known to the public but his work has spoken volumes. Graffiti Artist Banksy first emerged into the underground scene in the late 90s with his unconventional stencil work painted all over London and Bristol. In 2010, he joined the likes of Barack Obama and Lady Gaga in Time’s 100 most influential people despite his anonymity.
Banksy uses political satire and humor as a basis for his craft. He allowed his work to be the voice rather than having to explain himself to the world. And though we may never know the man behind the canvas, the mystery beneath only draws us closer to his art.
The MoCo Museum, located in the heart of Amsterdam, has a permanent display of Banksy’s work over the years as well as temporary expositions of other contemporary artists.
I’ve encircled the date 21st of March with a red marker on my calendar and added a little flower on the side to mark the first day of Spring. The tropical girl in me was eagerly awaiting for double-digit weather and sunny days. Though we’re probably still weeks away from the spring bloom, I had a taste of it at Agence Le Bon Mot’s Pop-up event “Un Printemps Aux Philippines”.
It felt good to be home. I was surrounded by my fellow kababayans (countrymen), engrossed in deep conversations where the Filipino language could be heard from across the room. The event quickly turned into a mini soiree where they served a splash of Don Papa rum mixed with ginger Beer together with the Filipino spring roll Lumpia and our very own take on the Chinese dumpling Siomai.
The event took place at the small decor and accessories concept store “Storie” situated at the 14eme arrondissement. The curated selection from Aranaz, Beatriz, Buntal, Ethnique, Filip + Inna, Natalya Lagdameo, Otsirave and Zarah Juan will be available for sale until the 2nd of April