STYLISH BOOKS: Adding another bow to its cultural quiver, Saint Laurent has opened a bookstore and record shop on the Left Bank of Paris.
Reflecting a decor similar to its newest and largest flagship in the world, which opened to the public last December at 123 Avenue des Champs-Élysées, the retail unit showcases hulking shelves and storage fixtures in marble and Donald Judd metal seating amid a raw, stripped-to-the-bones architecture.
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Located at 9 Rue de Grenelle, the store was previously dedicated to Saint Laurent fashions and leather goods. It quietly opened earlier this month.
Sparsely merchandised, it resembles a contemporary art gallery blended with a private office, many of the books displayed on picture rails. Rare books are laid out on a vintage Pierre Jeanneret desk, with white gloves required for handling the delicate pages.
The location, dubbed Saint Laurent Babylone, also stocks out-of-print record albums, magazines and rare books, all curated by Anthony Vaccarello, the house’s creative director.
The selection includes an array of new titles under the Saint Laurent Rive Droite Editions imprint, established in 2019 when the French house opened a new retail concept on the Rue Saint-Honoré in the former home of Colette.
New books have been created in collaboration with artists such as Jeanloup Sieff, Cai Guo-Qiang, Bruno Roels and Daidō Moriyama.
In addition, the location stocks books previously published in collaboration with Betty Catroux, Gray Sorrenti, Renato D’Agostin, Nick Turner, Sebastien Zanella, Henrik Purienne, P. Staff and Chronorama Redux.
Sprinkled among the books are Leica cameras, brass skull sculptures, and select YSL merch, including pens, cigarette lighters and a drinking cup.
Among the record albums up for grabs are Sade’s “Promise,” Kate Bush’s “Hounds of Love” and the debut studio album of electronic band Kraftwerk.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day are chocolates made in collaboration with pastry chef François Daubinet, including a minimalist hazelnut bar as black and glossy as tar.
Black-and-white photos by British artist Rose Finn-Kelcey, circa 1977, are for sale, along with ones by Juergen Teller, who is slated to do an in-store book-signing later this month as the store unfurls a program of cultural events, including readings and DJ sets.
Vaccarello keeps stretching Saint Laurent into new cultural realms, last year launching a full-fledged film production company and a slate of movies at the Cannes Film Festival. The Kering-owned brand has been steadily tightening its ties with different creative fields, including photography, art and design.
Saint Laurent noted the name Saint Laurent Babylone refers to the Rue Babylone, where the late founder Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé lived and amassed a massive art collection that netted 373.5 million euros at auction in 2009.
There are two Saint Laurent fashion boutiques within a short walk of the Rue de Grenelle location: at 175 Boulevard Saint-Germain, and No. 6 Place Saint-Sulpice. — MILES SOCHA
WILLY’S CROWD: Willy Chavarria fans gathered inside an event space on the Greenpoint waterfront on Friday evening, kicking off Day One of New York Fashion Week with the designer’s fall 2024 show.
The front row consisted of Sam Smith, who declined interviews while sitting next to designer boyfriend Christian Cowan, as well as Julia Fox, Richie Shazam, Becky G, Gabbriette, Amanda Lepore, Briana Andalore, Aquaria and more.
Lepore was dressed in a bedazzled corset and matching pencil skirt. “I made this during the pandemic,” she said of the ensemble. “I didn’t know what to do with myself.”
Lapore and Chavarria run in the same circles, and she’s known the designer for years.
“I think it’s cool that it’s very Spanish, and I like to see his culture,” she said.
As for how she balances it all during fashion week? “Just being disciplined with your time. Try to multitask.”
She then was joined by friend Susanne Bartsch, who showed off a pair of HotPants with the word “pu—y” emblazoned on them.
“[My look] felt so chic I thought ‘let me f–k it up,’” she said.
Fox made a dramatic arrival in a white billowing dress and hat, carrying a matching small heart-shaped pillow.
“I’m a pillow princess,” she said.
“I’m really into my bridal drama, very feminine, bows, comfy-girly aesthetic. And I thought that if I continue to embody that, my life would then become that,” she added.
For Valentine’s Day, she’ll be with her son Valentino.
“My forever Valentine,” she said. “And that’s the only Valentine I need.” — LEIGH NORDSTROM
MARKING 30: Vivienne Tam, who is celebrating her 30th anniversary in business this year, will present her fall 2024 collection for the first time in Paris with a fashion show to be held during Paris Fashion Week on March 2 at 4:30 p.m. at Palais de Tokyo.
The brand was founded in New York in 1994 by Tam, a Hong Kong native who got her start in fashion in the U.S. following fashion studies in Hong Kong.
The arrival of Tam in Paris coincides with the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and France, two countries that have been central to the house’s story and Tam’s personal journey.
“Fashion is my vehicle to enrich the human spirit through riding the creative heritage between the East and the West and bringing Chinese culture to the world. The celebrations of my house’s 30th anniversary demands a befitting pedestal and there is no better suited location for me to show my next collection than Paris, a city that has always embraced me and continues to inspire me,” said Tam.
In addition to the fashion show, Tam will host yearlong celebratory activities in Paris, New York, Hong Kong and Shanghai, including a mini retrospective exhibition, among others.
Tam’s well-known Mao Suit is featured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute “Women Dressing Women” exhibition. It is also showing at the “Fashion San Francisco” showcase at the De Young Museum in San Francisco.
Over the years Tam’s designs have been worn by such celebrities as Julia Roberts, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Jessica Alba, Serena Williams, First Lady Jill Biden, Michelle Yeo and Gong Li, among others.
For years Tam has been at the forefront of fashion-meets-tech. Last February she served up dual shows in New York’s Spring Studios, alongside a virtual show in the metaverse for her fall 2023 collection and NFTs. — LISA LOCKWOOD
THE CLOSER: Elon Musk was nowhere to be seen at Sunday morning’s Juzui show in New York (though celebrity flight-tracking specialist Jack Sweeney and his social media following could have guessed that), but security was tighter than usual due to a different kind of runway arrival. Musk’s mother Maye was backstage posing for a pack of photographers before closing designer Taoray Wang’s unisex show.
Before hitting the catwalk in the Starrett-Lehigh Building, Musk spoke of how “very special” it was to be closing the show. She also escorted Wang for her final bow, and waved good-bye to the crowd. “They have just been so kind, stylish and creative. And you know I love working with Chinese people. I go to China nearly every month. Last year I went to 12 cities in China for speaking engagements and for modeling, including skin care ones,” Musk said.
Asked if the geopolitical issues between China and the U.S. are prompting some to be more vocal about sharing their views, Musk said, “No, when I go to China, everybody’s happy, friendly and fun. Even with my friends here, they all want to visit China now.”
The Chinese-born Wang graduated from East China Normal University, studied in Japan and worked in London at one point for Junko Koshino. She now lives in England and works in Shanghai. (Sunday’s show was the debut of the designer’s suits and blazers for men.) Musk is equally intercontinental, having been born in Canada and raised in South Africa, she now calls California home. The 75-year-old model, who is also a licensed dietician and nutritionist, will soon be off to Uzbekistan to give a talk at a medical university, followed by photo shoots in Shanghai and Miami.
With a doctorate in dietetics, Musk ran a private practice for 40 years, until she “became a supermodel” and started traveling the world. She recently landed covers for Elle’s Slovenia edition and Harper’s Bazaar Serbia. As for whether she feels concern for some of the ultrathin walking the runways at New York Fashion Week, Musk said through her previous experience in working with models as patients, some of them are just naturally lean. “That’s how they grew up and they come from lean families,” she said. “Some struggle to stay lean. I would help them to eat healthily so they could have energy and stay lean. But when they are emaciated, it’s a concern.”
Asked if the industry needs to do more beyond offering healthy guidelines, Musk said, “There’s been a lot of things going on. In my era, models were always tall and thin. And I was short and fat, considering that I am a size 6 at 5-foot-8. Models then were 5-foot-10 and a size zero. But they were naturally like that and you can’t fight genetics.”
Like Wang, Musk has lived in different countries. Asked if she feels there needs to be greater tolerance of different opinions in life in general, Musk said, “Oh, that would be nicer,” before affirming a publicist’s redirect to more placid topics like fashion.
However, such questions were relevant, given how open Musk’s son Elon is about his commitment to free speech. Asked if that is something that she has instilled in him, Musk said, “I have three children. Tosca, my daughter, has [the streaming service] Passionflix. She produces romance movies. My son Kimbal has restaurants [through the Colorado-based Kitchen Restaurant Group.] He works and does good for people as well. And Elon does goodwill for the world.” — ROSEMARY FEITELBERG
TALKING PASSION: Designer Bach Mai closed out the first official night of New York Fashion Week at Starrett-Lehigh on Friday.
“I love how passionate he is. I love how much thought and what a story he puts into every one of his collections,” said “The Summer I Turned Pretty” actress Minnie Mills, who accompanied Mai to the CFDA Awards in 2022 and was at Mai’s first runway show last season. Mai’s newest collection was titled “La dévoyée,” described in show notes as “an exploration of a respectable woman’s descent into depravity.”
“Each show gets bigger and more unique. He’s so thoughtful about the music, the lighting, the setting; I never feel like it’s just clothes with Bach — not that anything is ever just clothes — but Bach puts in so much heart and intention, and he always impresses me,” said Mills, adding that the show would also be her only front-row appearance this season. “I literally said no to everything but Bach’s show. I’m in school, so I just want to show up to support,” added Mills, who’s studying neuroscience at Columbia.
Other guests in the purple-hued room included “Avatar” star Bailey Bass, drag queen Monét X Change, “The Night Agent” actress Sarah Desjardins, influencers Eva Gutowski and Caitlin Reilly, Misty Copeland, and Blondie legend Debbie Harry, attending with her goddaughter. — L.N.
BY THE LETTER: Vince Gonzales has been in the fashion industry for more than three decades, helping to launch the Project Show and introducing international brands such as Evisu and Blue Blood to the U.S.
Now Gonzales can add retailer to his résumé.
The Los Angeles native is opening The G-Spot, a store in his hometown’s Arts District, that will be a hybrid wholesale and retail concept. The store will carry DIS Shoes, a made-to-order line from Italy that Gonzales has repped for several seasons that can be manufactured in 15 business days. It will also carry the Agnès B Homme collection, Stitch corduroy pants, Steve Sotnick accessories, Artsphere bags, the Serge Blanco lifestyle brand and Fear of Broke T-shirts — lines he described as “more niche than what you find at a department store.”
The G in the store name naturally references Gonzales’ surname and the store will join neighbors such as Apple Studios, Revolve, Dover Street Market, Adidas and Shein, the Chinese fast-fashion brand in the neighborhood.
In addition to the footwear and apparel, G-Spot will offer fashion showroom services, an event space and a gallery for vintage denim, aloha shirts and dresses.
“There are fewer directional boutiques for a fashion town like Los Angeles,” he said. “The G-Spot is giving something Los Angeles is missing. It’s a full platform that offers wholesale, retail and pop-ups for a brand to be introduced to an audience of tastemakers.”
Gonzales said he is self-funding the boutique and has no other investors. “It’s all my own money,” he said. “It’s time for me to take a chance.”
The space is expected to open on March 1. — JEAN E. PALMIERI
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