THE ART OF JEANS: Denim artist Ian Berry has taken over Paris’ Place de la Republique with a massive mural to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Levi’s iconic 501 jeans.
Levi’s is also hosting an ephemeral exhibition to detail the original jeans brand’s history inside the square’s Fluctuât Nec Mergitur café, before the mural moves to Milan and Madrid.
The piece is 13 feet high and 33 feet long, and made out of pre-worn denim. Berry conceived of the work in his North London atelier and assembled it on site in Paris. The mural depicts iconic style through the ages, including hippy, punk, biker and cowboy, with a banner reading “Legends Never Die.”
Berry, a pioneer of denim murals and gardens who has been working in the medium for 15 years, had to change some of his traditional techniques to fulfill the large dimensions. It reads as a painting from a few feet away, before you can see the texture up close.
“People don’t realize it’s made of jeans,” he told WWD, “and I’ll take that as a compliment.”
Berry said it’s always been a dream to create a project of this scale but that while other companies had approached him in the past, he’s declined. He’s never wanted to be associated with just one label and preferred to stay denim agnostic, but decided to take on this project because of the brand’s big birthday and its public exposure.
“This one was exciting because this is a really cool location, and I want people to be able to see my work in real life,” he said as skateboarders performed jumps and turns in front of the piece. Berry notes that his work is usually exhibited in galleries and museums and the most democratic of materials should be seen by the public.
“As I got more into the history and the founding story of 150 years, it is something to celebrate and to get into for art reasons, not just something commercial,” he said.
Inside the exhibit, Levi’s not only showcases its history, but walks through the process of creation, showing cotton plants and and other raw materials that go into textiles.
Normally Berry said he works on project for six months, but this required a tight time frame which resulted in some sleepless nights. “If you saw my studio right now, it’s an absolute mess. I’ve never been through so many jeans,” he said.
He sorts through washes and fades to find the right shades and gradients to bring together a piece. Pressed to number how many pairs went into the mural, he estimated between 90 and 100 contributed to the work, which is then laid on a stretched denim canvas.
Berry, who traded a career in advertising for art, said that he has considered other textiles but finds denim to be the most inspiring and he’s devoted to the fabric. He notes that after a decade and a half of working with denim, the style has been widely copied at fashion events and trade shows. He’s now forming a collective to work together with other textile artists whose style has been replicated.
After taking the Levi’s mural around Europe, Berry will be curating an exhibit at the Catto Gallery in London with his work and that of other textile artists. Mark Evans, who works with leather, is on the roster, as well as works made from packing tape and trainers.
Berry will continue to create new works. “Everyone wants to do it now, but I think I’ve still got a lot of legs in denim,” he joked.
The mural will move to Milan on April 17 and Madrid on May 4. — RHONDA RICHFORD
L.A. DEBUT: Holzweiler has landed in Los Angeles.
The Oslo-based label has made its California debut at Fred Segal, with a pop-up at the retailer’s flagship on Sunset Boulevard. It will be open through April.
“It feels like such a right place for us to launch the brand in this market,” said designer Susanne Holzweiler at a cocktail party held to toast the partnership on Thursday evening. It was her first time in L.A. “We’re on this journey now where we really want to take the brand global.”
Holzweiler launched the endeavor with brother Andreas in 2012 before enlisting Maria Skappel, Andreas’ wife, as creative director two years later. The label can been found at Net-a-porter, Browns Fashion, Ssense, Neiman Marcus and Galeries Lafayette China. It was in October 2022 that they opened a flagship in Copenhagen. That same year, the brand entered a deal with Sequoia Capital China, expanding its direct-to-consumer internationally with a focus on China, the U.S. and U.K. Its first London shop is planned for this spring.
In L.A., the team leaned on lighter fabrications and thin knits. The selection — curated by stylist Mimi Cuttrell — features oversized fits with soft hues and prints. Bestsellers at the Fred Segal pop-up have been two cable-knit tops, a $215 V-neck and $330 sweater, as well as the $380 “Anatol” trousers — cargos with detachable legs that can be worn as pants or shorts. The latter will be added to the brand’s core collection, given the recent sales, said Holzweiler.
“Since the moment it launched, it’s been doing so well,” Fred Segal’s senior vice president of merchandising Ashley Petrie said of the line. “It’s been selling across both genders. There’s that fluidity and versatility to a lot of the garments.…It really connects here in L.A. We have a big Scandinavian brand presence, but this felt a little bit more elevated and special in terms of the ease of the functionality. And it still felt playful.”
The retailer has been leaning on playfulness, she said, because of the consumer demand: “Especially in this post-pandemic era, they’re just looking for something that feels happier, more optimistic. Especially in this season, coming out of holiday, people are looking for color, texture. They’re looking for prints.”
DJ Honey was tapped to spin the sounds as guests enjoyed mezcal cocktails, before the celebration continued with a dinner at Caviar Kaspia. A$AP Nast, Empress Of, Langley Fox Hemingway, Lauren Caruso, Alyssa Coscarelli, Hannah Park, Brittany Byrd, Drumaq, Khalil Ghani, Quincy Brown, Lukita Maxwell, Mandy Madden Kelley, Cylus Sandoval and Tim Vagapov were among those out in support.
Cuttrell, the cohost, has been friends with the brand founders for about eight years, she explained. The stylist’s clients include Gigi Hadid and Madelyn Cline.
“I went to Norway for fashion week,” she said. “I went to as many shows as I could while I was there. It was just really awesome seeing all these emerging designers who I’ve never heard of before. And Holzweiler was one that stuck out to me. There’s just so many cool designs, innovative, really beautiful…After the fashion show I went to their studio, met Susanne, Andreas. I’ve just stayed really close with them since and have really continued to pull and show their clothing to my clients who also fell in love with their clothing.”
“This is a dream coming true standing here as a Norwegian girl having a Norwegian brand and launching it at Fred Segal in L.A.,” Holzweiler told guests around the dinner table.
With glasses up for a toast, she added: “In Norway, we say skål.”
“Skål!” — RYMA CHIKHOUNE
DVF’S SHOE CAPSULE: Diane von Furstenberg has teamed with the Spanish brand Castañer, known for its espadrilles, for a limited capsule collection.
The spring and summer line is filled with a range of styles designed in jute material and signature DVF prints and colors. There’s an espadrille wedge created with a cotton canvas featuring DVF’s Lips print, a flat open-toe sandal in bold DVF multicolor stripes, and more wedges seen in leopard print.
The shoes are available now, and they retail from $235 to $280.
“Castañer is the king of the espadrille. The company is 100 years old. They make espadrilles for everyone,” von Furstenberg said at the launch party in New York on Thursday. “Collaborations, for me, are about teaming up with the expert.”
Third-generation owner Rafael Castañer was also in attendance, adding that the partnership was an easy match. “The key with collaborations is to get the DNA of the two brands. We like things that are temporal and can last forever,” he said of the espadrille silhouettes.
For DVF, the company turns 50 next year and the famed designer will be taking a step back as her granddaughter and current co-chairwoman, Talita von Furstenberg, can take the reins.
“It’s a slow transition. Every day is something new as we are evolving, changing and modernizing,” said Talita. “As far as collaborations go, it’s a way to access an entire new customer base. Especially us, we are virgin in all new categories. We are only doing women’s apparel so it’s a great opportunity to see how our customer reacts to different categories, whether it’s footwear or beauty, without having to bare the responsibility ourselves.” — NIKARA JOHNS
DESERT GEMS: It’s all about minerals in Messika’s latest campaign: diamonds and the Palm Spring desert.
The campaign features Kendall Jenner and Alton Mason on a road trip at the wheel of the classic American cars Jenner loves.
Founder and creative director Valérie Messika chose the pair as an embodiment of “a younger generation [who] has been able to take our jewels and make them true signs of style, a means of self-affirmation,” she said.
Jenner is “an accomplished and confident woman, well in tune with modern times,” Messika said, adding the model’s ability in front of the camera was such that “in one look, she is there.” As for Mason, his dancing and acting schedule that saw him always on the move was a fit for the brand’s energy, as is his “resonating and modern masculinity,” Messika said.
The campaign marks a move in a more cinematic direction for the French jewelry brand. “In this space held between earth and sky, I wanted to awaken the gaze to really build strong visual sequences,” she said.
Revealed on Monday, the first of the campaign’s three chapters is all about red, a color fit for “a breathtaking thriller,” according to the brand.
Dressed in a glossy sleeveless high-collared latex minidress in a fire engine red that matches her Pontiac costar, Jenner is “a heroine who is both mysterious and retro-modern,” said Messika.
Two more chapters will be unveiled later, focusing on blue and purple. Beyond their visual appeal, the symbolism of each color also appealed to Messika, noting purple’s connection to wisdom, calm and creativity; red’s lucky connotations in her culture and flattering side, and blue’s evocation of the depth of the sky and softer edge.
In keeping with Messika’s habit of repeat collaborations, it’s the second time for Jenner and the third for photographer Chris Colls, who shot last year’s South of France escapade and the jeweler’s Kate Moss collaboration. As for Mason, he was among the models who walked in Messika’s second runway show, closed by Naomi Campbell. — LILY TEMPLETON
NEW COUNCIL MEMBERS: Kate Spade has enlisted actress and entertainer Sofia Wylie and founding principal of Showa Women’s University Career College Mika Kumahira to its Social Impact Council.
The Social Impact Council is a collective of women’s empowerment and mental health leaders from around the globe. The two global change-makers join the leadership council, which includes actress Taraji P. Henson, to work with Kate Spade New York in bringing their perspectives to this cohort of female leaders who look to integrate mental health into the empowerment agenda of women and girls globally.
Since it embarked on this goal, the brand has reached 66,000 women and girls with mental health and empowerment resources and services to date.
“My biggest dream is to be a part of making an impact by joining a force that is set out to make a positive difference in lives,” said Wylie, who is also a mental health advocate. “Being in the entertainment industry, there are soaring highs and deep lows, while living in a world where people care more about individual success than the state of their mental health. I am honored to join the Kate Spade Social Impact Council to advocate for putting mental health and emotional well-being at the forefront of our priorities, because what does success mean without happiness?”
Kumahira, a Japanese management consultant, social sector leader and educator, said the Showa Women’s University Career College was founded in 2013 “to empower professional women leaders and strengthen their leadership skills to create a better future for a diverse and compassionate society.”
In addition, in recognition of Women’s History Month, Kate Spade has launched a digital content miniseries this month via the company’s Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn and YouTube that highlights the collective power of women’s voices and the company’s “It All Started With” spring campaign series, in partnership with artist Rebecca Clarke.
In efforts to keep mental health and women’s empowerment at the center of Kate Spade New York’s ongoing social impact work, the brand and its foundation will donate more than $3 million in 2023 to provide access to care and community resources to improve the mental health and empowerment of women in its communities around the world. These partnerships include organizations such as Black Girls Smile, Crisis Text Line, Girls Inc. of New York City, Abahizi Rwanda, National Council for Mental Wellbeing, and The Trevor Project.
Kate Spade New York and its Social Impact Council will introduce first-of-its-kind research at the Women Deliver Conference in Kigali, Rwanda, in July on the role and impact women’s mental health plays in achieving long-term empowerment.
“Social impact efforts to champion women’s empowerment and prioritize the mental health of women and girls has been, and continues to be, at the heart of the Kate Spade New York brand,” said Liz Fraser, chief executive officer and brand president of Kate Spade New York. “Our Social Impact Council is a powerful collective of culture-changing advocates who propel positive change. As the council enters it second year, we’re proud to have Sofia and Mika join us in our mission, and continue our momentum in making a meaningful impact for women and girls around the world.” — LISA LOCKWOOD