Intern Aware will protest by handing out tote bags bearing the message “Pay Your Interns” at Somerset House, headquarters of London Fashion Week. The bags will contain information about minimum wage legislation, advice for interns and information about Intern Aware’s Claim Back Your Pay scheme, as well as a letter written by Libby Page, who has worked as an unpaid fashion intern seven times.
“I started doing internships when I was 16,” said the 20-year-old from Dorset. “I would often be expected to work for six months for free, but I have never done more than a month because I couldn’t afford it. I feel now that if an intern is doing any actual work they should be paid.”
Page’s letter reads: “Mistreatment of fashion interns is something the industry should be ashamed of, and something we should be talking about. I have heard far too many stories from friends, peers and young people around the country working long hours in poor conditions and being subjected to demeaning treatment in the name of fashion. ‘The intern will do that’ is not a phrase I want to hear again.”
The campaign has collated information from students and fashion websites to gain evidence of free work schemes at leading design houses. One design student told Intern Aware of an unpaid placement with a famous label, partly based in London, where the interns slept under the workshop table.
The British Fashion Council said: “We have been working with HMRC to clarify and communicate the legal situation regarding interns and work experience. There is much misunderstanding and it is really important to ensure that we are helping those within the fashion sector, particularly the designer businesses, to be aware of their NMW obligations.
“Our main priority is to help designer businesses manage the financial implications of complying with the NMW regulations, ensuring their business can continue to develop despite potentially increased salary costs.
“It is in everyone’s interest that the broader industry is still able to create jobs, giving experience and opportunity to future employees, training them and encouraging young people to join the sector. We are confident that there is now much greater awareness about this issue across the industry.”
Jason Wu Moves to the Grown-Up Table.
Jason Wu said he never gave the storm much thought. “What could we do?” he asked before his show on Thursday in a Park Avenue church. “We didn’t have a contingency plan.” In fact, looking around at the hairdressers and models backstage, you’d think it was a normal scene.
“Normal?” Mr. Wu said, sounding almost disappointed.
Twice chosen by Michelle Obama for Inaugural clothes, Mr. Wu picked a good moment to present a polished collection of feminine tailoring. There were few surprises in this collection, which opened with a black satin trench coat with fur pockets, stovepipe pants and peplum jackets (a bit prissy) with crisp white shirts. There were some froufrou bits, like feathery cocktail dresses and a well-done finale of pleated gowns in black, white and ink georgette, with belted waists, but tailoring was the main event.
Mr. Wu said he wasn’t interested in doing a theme this season, just giving a grown-up look. “Well, I’m more grown up,” he said. Themes are usually a bore anyway. Coats with a touch of military pomp looked great (especially in bright red), as did separates in wool bonded lace — a Wu specialty. The opening days of Fashion Week tend to attract young designers, so naturally one expects to learn something new about dressing, or at least see some decent troublemaking. Instead, we got socked with a dishwater palette of grays, greens and browns that was identical to the one in department stores last fall. Thanks!
Once you get past the name of Chris Peters and Shane Gabler’s label, Creatures of the Wind, and embrace their awkward sense of femininity, things start to make sense. They’re great with skirts — boxed-pleated, dirndls — and even their more complicated collage effects, done with high-contrast fabrics and colors, manage to retain a sense of proportion. Their patternmaking is O.K.
But the overall result is murky. One of the nicest things they showed on Thursday was a brushed cotton minidress with a wide belt in the same fabric and elbow-length sleeves. You don’t want to tell the designers to narrow down their fabric choices or be more straightforward in their cutting, because that sounds horribly discouraging to a pair of designers who actually like to experiment.
But they ought to put more thought into what they want to achieve from a fabric or a design. You can’t improve on that little brushed cotton dress, or on a windowpane check dress, or a skirt in filmy red polyester. For now, though, too many of their garments feel like charming strays with no home.
If you see a woman walking around on the Upper East Side in a tent dress with ridiculously cheerful dots, the outfit is sure to be a Lisa Perry. You won’t get an innovative take on the ‘60s from Ms. Perry; she’s more interested in updating a style for her customers, who clearly are not down for dishwater green.
Among her new additions are double-face wool coats and suit separates, with a dot pattern on one side and glen plaid on the reverse. She has also put some waist in her tents, so all that exercising and dieting won’t be in vain. A long-sleeve, funnel-neck dress in red wool was a nice departure from her A-line shapes. Indeed, the more freely she interprets the ‘60s aesthetic, the more interesting her stuff becomes.
New York Fashion: Prabal Gurung takes cue from military.
Next-big-thing designer Prabal Gurung is in the army — and the navy — now. The Nepalese designer found inspiration in a surprising source this season: servicewomen.
“I just read the Time magazine article that one of the best inventions of 2012 was this invention of body armor for women in the military,” he explained backstage before trotting out his 36 military-inspired creations. “That kind of set me thinking, then I started reading more about it and I found out that all these women have been wearing men’s uniforms for the longest period of time, so now they’re redesigning them for women, and even the small-statured men are wearing that.”
The structured, but feminine looks featured bold peplums, sexy harnesses, asymmetrical evening gowns ans stick thin stilettos that came in black and shiny metallic gold. Some of the heels were even to-the-thigh sexy boot styles with rows of gold buckles.
Gurung said the word that summed up the collection is “empowerment,” which he defined in his own way.”The whole idea means not just being forceful, but embracing your femininity and being a woman in a man’s world and ruling it. You no longer need to look like a man to compete like a man. That’s the power and tool that women have that men don’t have: femininity.”
Saturday’s show is just the beginning of a busy 72 hours for Gurung that will see him launch his capsule collection at Target stores nationwide tomorrow and put on another show Monday for his lower-priced line ICB.
“I’m grateful that I’m busy,” he said humbly pre-show. “I feel good that I have a platform like Target that I can reach out to all these people. Even if they’re not able to buy (the more expensive designer line), they understand the passion and my story, and hopefully they’ll explore that and be inspired themselves.”
The evening served as a first wide-lens look at the designers’ development since their wins were announced in November—an initial view at how talent can fledge under the guidance of all-star mentorship and monetary support. For top prizewinner Gregory Chait, that meant dipping his Elder Statesman line further into the worlds of womenswear and shirting. “We’ve been developing these fabrics for a very long time,” Chait explained of the twill pashmina whose lightweight allowed him to cut tailored pieces and button-downs with a soft, drapey aplomb.
A classic eggshell suit for women was polished, yet still indicative of Chait’s articulated West Coast sensibility—he even scented the room to make guests feel as if they were by the ocean. But the sensory experience didn’t end there. Looming in the presentation space’s corner was a 12-foot, $100,000 cashmere teddy bear that Chait created because “The Elder Statesman is not just about how it looks but its also about how it feels. We were looking for a way to execute that short of 400 people touching the models.”
‘Bad girl’ Vanja Vasic’s Fashion Art Toronto was created to celebrate alternative design.
“Any time you want to make a change it’s not going to be easy,” says Vanja Vasic, whose take on fashion is outside the box. “It’s going to be a struggle. I think that Canada is very young still and we do have an issue sometimes supporting our own and I think we’ve always been like that.”
Vasic would know. The 30-year-old is the executive director of Fashion Art Toronto and brains behind FAT Arts and Fashion Week. From its humble beginnings in 2005 as a two-day runway event known as Alternative Fashion Week held in a now-defunct bar on King West, FAT Fashion Week has expanded with more than 200 national and international designers, photographers, musicians, and video and fashion installations exhibiting over four days.
As Vasic sips on her latte in the lounge of the Drake Hotel, it’s obvious that she and FAT Arts and Fashion Week have come a long way from their rebel beginnings, managing to survive Toronto’s predictable fashion sensibilities since FAT’s inception into the Toronto fashion scene.
Inspired by London, England’s alternative fashion scene, Vasic saw FAT as the answer to Toronto’s mainstream, commercially oriented fashion weeks. The goal was to bring in designers who embody alternative concepts, from House of Etiquette, which combines latex in places you would never imagine, to the minimalist designs of Pedram Karimi.
“I wanted to explore fashion creatively,” explains Vasic, who began FAT as a 23-year-old second-year Ryerson fashion design student. She sought out help from the Fasion Design Council of Canada when launching Alternative Fashion Week in 2005 but was turned down. The event has been her own DIY project since. “I always kind of saw myself looking at fashion through all these different art forms — going out, exploring and researching, and finding the concept behind the clothing.”
Seven years on, FAT Fashion Week’s annual presentations haven’t lost their lustre for conceptual ideas, eccentric garments or latex, for that matter. Plus, its industrial warehouse space in Bloordale Village screams unsolicited ’90s rave. All of which has made it a mainstay event in the Toronto fashion scene.
“Xtra magazine called us the bad girl and we still like to see ourselves as the bad girl,” says Vasic, who’s retained her commitment to what has seemed at times a fledgling project. “I think the people that are followers of the festival still have that feeling but I think that it’s just, like, gone to a next level.”