Born and raised in Southern California, Eric Jess is a model, blogger, and photojournalist in the Los Angeles area. He enjoys documenting menswear, travel, and lifestyle. You can follow his journey on his blog: Who Is Eric Jess
"I like voids, beginnings, endings, and things in between."
Nancy Stella Soto is a Los Angeles based designer who creates handcrafted pieces that subvert traditional forms and merged dichotomous elements: excess and disappearance, resilience and disorder. In the accumulation and repurposing of found material, Soto incorporates temporality into her object-making by often utilizing the sun to affect textiles and metals through fading and aging, as well as considering the destructive roles of chaos and interference.
We were able to get an exclusive interview with the designer herself:
Where did you grow up?
I was born in East L.A. and grew up in Highland Park and the San Gabriel Valley.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I wake up, make coffee, do some stretches and go for a hike with my beloved dog Belvedere. I stroll into the studio at about 10:30am and aside from lunch and dinner and a snack break I'm in there until about 11:30pm. I am grateful to be able to sustain myself through my practice, but realistically most waking minutes are work related.
Did you always want to be a designer or is it something you discovered over time?
I always knew I wanted to cut shapes and place them in certain areas. Maybe the designer realization happened in high school.
How do you come up with your ideas for each collection?
Each collection is an evolution from the previous one. I suppose it all began with the grid cutout. In a way, I was trying to create an enlarged mesh of sorts and trying to create my own fabric. I like how this lead to a game of conceal and reveal within a garment, so I decided to play with that concept. I like voids, beginnings, endings, and things in between.
How was that influenced the way you work?
Well, because I know and understand most of the steps to producing a basic garment, it's hard for me not to do ALL of those steps. I make all of my patterns, sew all samples, I do all of the grading and marking and QC. Sometimes I think this is limiting since I can foresee difficulties in production and so I will avoid a detail, technique or fabric.
What are your plans for the future?
Well, to me the future is now and so I strive to be present and honest with my designs and to grow my company while supporting manufacturing businesses in Los Angeles. It's important for me to produce my clothing here. I will also be collecting more cacti, more Comme des Garçons, and more shoes.
With an atypical background starting in furniture design, Raf Simons was able to utilize his structural, minimalist experience to flourish into one of the most influential designers in menswear & couture present day. Starting his eponymous label in 1995, Simons had various stints at Jil Sander, Fred Perry, and most recently at Dior from 2012- 2015 where he replaced the controversial John Galliano.
Simons studied industrial and furniture design in Genk, Belgium taking his degree in 1991, then initially going on with his career in furniture design. Immersed in the counterculture of early 90s Antwerp counterculture, particularly Antwerp Six, Simons was able to capture the city's energy through his pioneering vision with the burgeoning underground youth cultures influenced by music, art and the stylings of the underground fashion culture. Minimalism, desconstructivist nature as well as athletic silhouettes join luxe materials, futuristic prints and color schemes in a hyper-modern blend of street wear and tailored menswear allowing for a refined, yet edgy take on normally-pigeonholed menswear. Black and white chic photo collage prints, pop- art inspired graphics, as well as futurist functional sneakers adorn a athleisure collaboration with Adidas, including sophisticated button ups with post apocalyptic- punk themes, parkas, bomber jackets, slim cut denim and classic tees where Simons effortlessly blends the worlds of refined modernism, streetwear with a nostalgic influence. Casual knits,slim trousers and the use of high tech materials in the Adidas collaboration showcase Raf's preeminent synthesis of a futuristic outlook that gives reverence to the past.
Unlike the majority of his contemporaries, Raf Simons has a love-hate relationship with the fashion world. He seeks to evoke emotion--that is authentic, not solely for the glamour and the superficial nature of it all. Raf's process involves a bit of introspection, constant questioning, as with the way many innovators think. How can I make this garment more fluid? How will the color contrast pop with this certain fit? Raf seeks to break out of the normality the majority of menswear world embraces, a constant niche market too focused on the standard sartorial strata of classical archetypes with a small twist.
Through this process, Simons has become the most important menswear designer in the world: dramatically altering the way men dress and want to dress. He is unafraid to explore what lies between the innovative, as well as the classic. He was the first to truly interject and juxtapose menswear with cultish youth affiliations before any other designer was doing it. Raf constantly challenges social norms, the status quo, the notion of self worth as well as value. The clothes evoke a design that express something about the world we live in whether it is economic turmoil, youth disenfranchisement, complex codes of masculinity.
Perhaps such a thoughtful designer such as Raf constantly questioning himself, the way things are and his own process might be too exhausting for some. But while exhausted, constantly pushing to innovate while others simply coast along and merely exist--he is able to create something purposeful. In a world filled with an excess of clutter, Simons creates something that truly matters. He is able to make one look at the universe, and perhaps more importantly oneself with a fresh set of eyes.
Yohji Yamamoto is a legend himself. His ongoing collaboration with the sportswear powerhouse, Adidas, is just an extension of that. Yamamoto’s partnership, known to us as Y-3, has been a prominent force in the fashion-sportswear world for the past 13 years. His mastery of the aesthetic avant-garde manifests itself within his collections, and is no different for his Spring-Summer 2016 collection that incorporates motion.
The Spring-Summer 2016 Y-3 show erupts with a performance by the TAO dance theater that mimics the central theme of motion. As the performers dance, both men and women walk down the runway wearing dramatic garments that are adorned with the symbolic stripe motif, as homage to the collaborator. As the show progresses, the stripes transform into the energetic electric lines as a manifestation of both action and motion. The show demonstrates Yamamoto’s transformation of athleticism into an experimental aesthetic.
Puma and McQ has paired up for another out-of-this-world collaboration.
This season Puma and McQ created another innovative collection that showcases McQueen’s fresh designs with a retro-futuristic vibe. This collection draws inspiration from protective structures and extreme sports, giving birth to a new kind of technical sneaker. Pulling from their 90’s archive, Puma blends their retro designs with the raw, unique attitude that McQueen exudes. With a rachet-style buckle closure and disc-closure technology you cannot help but feel like Marty McFly.
Launched in July of 2006, McQ is a contemporary line from Alexander McQueen. The perfected ready-to-wear line, McQ, is comprised of the designer’s iconic dark, gothic and rebellious design that features grim graphics, sharp silhouettes, and McQueen’s signature swallow. McQueen describes this line as “younger and more renegade, but always signature McQueen”. We could not have said it better ourselves.