Suprême Bon Ton is a Paris-based textile design studio helmed by Ella Perdereau, who founded it last year after traveling around India and Latin America for creative inspiration. Her first collection, Meteorite, is a series of scarves that incorporate patterns and textures from rocks and minerals. Perdereau worked with traditional textile printers in Lyon to produce the scarves, then turned to the up-and-coming photographer Florent Tanet — known for playful pastel still-lives that have been featured in the New Yorker and Wired — to photograph them. Tanet also shot Perdereau's collection of painted rocks and other reference objects, which are featured in the second half of the post.
“It was running joke as a kid, that all I wanted to wear were cut-offs and T-shirts,” says Ilana Kohn. “My mom would buy them by the pack, and I would cut the sleeves and the neck.” Of course, Kohn is now known as the creator of a rabidly collected, Brooklyn-based, cult-favorite clothing line, so was fashion always the master plan? Sure, she was interested in clothes, she says, but her teenage self would be more than a little surprised at this turn. At 18, she says, she did not want to be a “fashion person,” intending rather to study fine art and spend her life of painting. But after high school — in a move that would appease parents who worried about her making a living — Kohn left her native Virginia for New York City to study illustration at Pratt.
When Amanda Ringstad showed a friend recently one of the images she'd styled and shot for us of a cluster of Q+Q SmileSolar watches, all linked together in a random shape, her friend's first reaction was: "That looks like a lawnmower!" Ringstad was thoroughly pleased — having been invited by us to apply her styling genius in the service of our friends at Q+Q, who partnered with us on this year's edition of Sight Unseen OFFSITE, the Seattle photographer's main objective was to present the watches in a simple, abstracted way that left plenty of room for the imagination. "Watches are a simple thing, but difficult to disassociate so that they convey something else," she explains. After initial attempts to weave them together into a kind of "textile," or arrange them on top of summery backgrounds depicting water or sand, in the end Ringstad used spare colored planes and graphic shadows to elevate her subjects above the realm of mere utilitarian objects.
Is there any better canvas than the square silk scarf? Not for Amelie Charroin and Marie Colin-Madan of the French accessories brand Milleneufcentquatrevingtquatre. (That's 1984 for the less Francophilic among you). The two women use the fashion staple to explore hand-drawn, screen-printed themes that take inspiration from video clips, art history, and instances of timeless pop culture.
Each spring when we head to Milan, there are two must-see stops on our agenda that aren’t strictly part of the furniture fair circuit. The first is lunch at the no-frills Latteria, where we gorge ourselves on raw artichokes and lemony pasta with chili peppers. The second is the COS flagship on Corso Venezia, where we’ve been known to spend hours stocking up on the kind of simple, directional wardrobe staples that are the London-based brand’s bread and butter. For years, COS has been the secret weapon of pretty much every design-world tastemaker we know, and it’s become an excellent source as well for keeping up with what’s new in art and design, what with its print magazine from the people behind Fantastic Man and its blog highlighting work by talents like Chen Chen & Kai Williams, Charlie Schuck, and Julian Renault. When we heard COS was finally coming to America — stores in New York and L.A. are forthcoming this fall, and an e-commerce site is already up and running — we were thrilled. To celebrate the launch in its inimitable fashion, COS recently launched a project called “50 Things: A Collection of Things We Love From America,” which includes a mix of Sight Unseen regulars (Bec Brittain, Doug Johnston), amazing new discoveries (we’re obsessing over Utah’s Daniel Everett), and odes to some of the country's most beautiful examples of architecture and natural phenomena.
A lot of creatives these days flaunt some sort of hyphenate job title, but Creatures of Comfort owner Jade Lai might just be the most epic multitasker we know. The Hong Kong–born, New York–based Lai runs Creatures outposts in both New York and Los Angeles; she designs her own in-house line of effortlessly cool women's clothes, shoes, and accessories; she sources the best menswear, womenswear, and housewares from other designers for her shops (everyone from Christian Wijnants to Jessica Hans); and she champions the greater art and design community through a series of pop-ups and exhibitions at both store locations. (Remember our Shape Shop?!) In the final installment of our Creative Women at Work series with Shinola, Lai shares the items and rituals that keep her continually inspired.
Back in December, we embarked on an experimental curatorial collaboration with Print All Over Me, the amazing print-your-own-pattern service, founded by fashion designer Jesse Finkelstein and his sister, Meredith, that allows designers to upload any graphic they please onto fashionable white blanks — sweatshirts, bomber jackets, shift dresses, backpacks, leggings, and more. The project — for which we hand-selected illustrators like Will Bryant, Tim Colmant, and Clay Hickson — was such a rousing success that Jesse approached us for round two a few months ago. We were already 100 percent sold on the idea, thinking we could sell the results at a pop-up at our Sight Unseen OFFSITE event — which opens today at noon! — when Jesse casually emailed this bomb: "Hey! Let's also talk about print all over furniture!"
Stacked chevrons shot with metallic thread, plaids in earthy tones, small textured geometry and fat flat stripes. Ace&jig's fabrics are the starting point for every collection, each textile custom-designed by the label's duo, Cary Vaughan and Jenna Wilson, and then responsibly manufactured in India. This brilliantly styled preview of their Fall 2014 collection includes all of the label's staple shapes: yoked blouses, peasant skirts, slouchy pants. But there's also a notable inclusion of a bomber-style jacket, which sets up a very pleasing juxtaposition with a plaid mid-length skirt and our favorite: a quilted sweater that layers geometry with breathtaking modernity in its combination of woven pattern and over-stitch. Finally, we offer a nod to the complete genius of combining all this patterned wonder with spotted socks and spotted shoes. Hop on over here and check out their video short featuring Hannah Cohen being layered over and over in this clever collection.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned here at Sight Unseen, it’s that a lack of training can sometimes go an awfully long way. Such was the case with Kalen Kaminski and Astrid Chastka of Upstate, who started their popular Brooklyn-based, shibori-inspired womenswear and accessories label back in 2010 with nary a day of fashion training between them. When they first met a few years earlier, Kaminski was an anthropology major turned prop stylist and Chastka was an architecture grad turned unhappy architect. Soon after bonding over an appreciation of handcrafted items, they found themselves trawling New York fabric stores, trying to replicate one of Kaminski’s vintage scarves. “We couldn’t find anything we liked, and we probably had no idea where to go,” Chastka told me when we visited the pair’s Greenpoint studio a few months back. “At the time, Kalen was living with an artist, and he had a shibori tapestry on his wall. We saw that, and we were like, ‘That’s perfect.’”
For years, fans of the New York concept shop Project No. 8 have been begging its founders, Brian Janusiak and Elizabeth Beer, to expand beyond their LES flagship and Ace Hotel annex and open more stores. But the pair have consistently refused, because they knew all along exactly where their next location needed to be: online. Their original website launched in 2006, but they'd recently grown so frustrated with its outdated design that they'd stopped updating it all together; this weekend, they quietly launched projectno8.com 2.0, a brand new site that's truer to their current inventory and that effectively leapfrogs them over eight years of e-commerce evolution. Greeting visitors to the homepage is a slideshow of still-life images by New York photographer Clemens Kois, who met Janusiak when the pair collaborated on Carl Aubock: The Workshop — we asked each of them to tell us a little bit more about the project.
These days, plenty of companies in the United States are touting their status as heritage brands, as is the current fashion, but markedly few who can claim the kind of pride of place that Filson can: Since the outdoor apparel label was founded in Seattle back in 1897, it’s never moved more than two miles away from where it began, in what’s now known as the city’s SoDo neighborhood — nor has it stopped manufacturing most of its wares there, either. Having long occupied a complex in the up-and-coming industrial area that included its factory, headquarters, and flagship store, last year the expansion of its business led it to annex a nearly 60,000 square-foot building just two blocks away from the original. “We’ve been in SoDo for 117 years, so it feels like home,” says Filson CEO Alan Kirk, a Scotland native who moved to the city in 2009. “It’s one of the few areas left in the city that still has manufacturing — in a way it’s the garment district of old Seattle.”
At this point, simplicity can seem like a tired mantra or an admonishment, an extra layer of guilt heaped over our misdirections. Isn’t it enough that our cluttered thoughts keep us up at night? Do we have to feel bad about it, too? So it’s especially heartening that for Seattle-based stylist Ashley Helvey, simplicity is something else entirely: a look so easy that it serves as encouragement. “A lot of the imagery I’m inspired by online is just a piece of fabric or a cinderblock,” says Helvey, who is editorial creative director for Totokaelo, overseeing everything from photo shoots to social media. “They are really simple things that you could actually execute. Having a simple aesthetic is actually pretty tangible.”