Close-ups on the industry’s fresh faces, bold iconoclasts and distinguished créateurs

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June 3, 2014

Beyond the Skin

Jonas Åkerlund Takes Model Shaun Ross on a Hyperkinetic Trip Through LA in the Final #DefineBeauty Film

“Hollywood is so good at only seeing what’s on the outside, and using that first impression instead of going deeper,” says Jonas Åkerlund of the location of the final film in the #DefineBeauty series, in which he follows American model and actor Shaun Ross around the back streets and freeways of Los Angeles. “I think Shaun has spent all his life with those reactions. Look again and you see that this guy is really beautiful.” The Swedish filmmaker is known for music videos that span over 25 years—from Madonna to Beyonce, Iggy Pop to U2—and feature films including the darkly comic 2002 release, Spun. His gothic style is apparent in today’s portrait of the famed albino model, who recently starred in Lana Del Rey’s 30 minute film, Tropico. “When Shaun showed up on Hollywood Boulevard, Darth Vader and Mickey Mouse were affronted,” the filmmaker says of filming Ross, who was styled by his wife B. Åkerlund. “Like, ‘What the fuck is this guy doing here?’” Elements of Beyond the Skin were shot by Ross himself with a camera provided by the director, whose cat was given a supporting role. “She’s also albino so I thought they might have a connection,” says Åkerlund. “They actually did. She wouldn't stop sitting on his head.”

Look one: Top & skirt by Yuima Nakazato.
Look two: Head piece by Maiko Takeda, cape & pants by Yuima Nakazato, shoes by Nereku.
Look three: Leather jacket by Bohemian Society, metal mesh top & bracelets by Michael Schmidt Studios, boots by Gasoline Glamour.
Look four: Jacket by, Hyein Seo, top & shorts by Yuima Nakazato, shoes by Nereku.

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Margiela's Heavenly Scent

Mark Borthwick Discovers the Elysian Fields Within The Maison’s New Perfume

Renaissance man Mark Borthwick presents a fittingly abstract short to herald the arrival of fashion house Maison Martin Margiela’s second perfume, (Untitled) L'Eau. A self-professed admirer of Margiela’s deconstructivist garments, Borthwick took inspiration from the fragrance’s naturalistic notes of Mandarin orange, curly-leaf mint, Amalfi lemon, buchu essential oil and African orange flower, taking the viewer on a journey through an idyllic spring garden, as seen from the inside of the L’Eau bottle. The London-born, Brooklyn-based director, photographer, artist and musician cut his teeth shooting for the likes of AnOther Magazine and The Face before expanding into art and film; he has since brought his trademark saturated color and blown focus aesthetic to collaborations with Mike Mills, Sonic Youth and Chloë Sevigny, among others. NOWNESS talked to Borthwick about the connection he feels with Maison Martin Margiela, and the importance of being a nonconformist.

What was the inspiration behind the film?
I guess there’s an essence, a central sense that inspired me towards the smell. The stepping-stone was trying to immerse myself in the poetry of this collaboration of smells and essences. 

Was there a story you wanted to tell?
If anything it was about trying to let go of any kind specific narrative, of anything that was literal or tangible. It was really just about a sense of freedom. There was the direction from the perfume itself though. It has this delightful summer breeze feeling that transpires the various essences and herbs.  

What interested you about working with Margiela?
The first Margiela show in 1988 completely blew my mind. From a fashion and styling point of view it was breaking ground. It suggested that you could continually push yourself to see things in a different way and not have to conform in order to participate in the industry.

Is there a thread that connects your different creative outlets?
In the end it all comes from you; everything you do is a sense of expression, everything you say, any kind of action you participate in. I would to hate to say that one is more important than the other. I feel like today, especially, I can’t do one without the other because they all thread and weave together.

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Fashion Poweristas

Robb Young and Man Repeller Sound Off On Modern Sartorial Icons

From Anna Wintour’s indestructible bob to Anna Dello Russo’s obsession with feathers, fashion’s inner circle are known as much for their style signatures as their ability to influence others. We invited two authorities with differing perspectives to analyze the distinct looks of the aforementioned tastemakers. Author Robb Young makes a study of the loaded dress codes of female political figures in his new book Power Dressing: First Ladies, Women Politicians and Fashion, unpacking everything from Michelle Obama’s J. Crew-helmed casual revolution to Carla Bruni-Sarkozy’s sophisticated embrace of Dior; Leandra Medine’s witty Man Repeller blog dissects the fashion statements women love and men love to hate—from harem pants to clogs. The conversation that ensued takes on industry power dressers Daphne Guinness, Diane Pernet and Emmanuelle Alt.

Robb Young: I’ve always felt like [Vogue Japan editor-at-large] Anna Dello Russo was tutored in a dress-up school where Isabella Blow was headmistress and Anna Piaggi was teaching physical education. If it’s not flyaway feathers it’s a watermelon hat. There’s something powerful about not taking your look too seriously.

Leandra Medine: Let's also note that RuPaul likely played the role of fine arts teacher. [Dello Russo] wears gilded apples on her head. One highly respected man repeller indeed.

RY: That’s something [American Vogue editor-in-chief] Anna Wintour would never, ever do. With her fur stoles and floral frocks, she’s a walking advertisement for appropriateness. But she still makes a visual impact. I think it’s the helmet hair. No doubt it’s as soft as alpaca, but the way that the impenetrable bob frames her sunglasses always makes me think of NASA-approved headgear with a bulletproof visor.  

LM: I do commend her for making outfit repetition a societal norm. As to her hair, three words: Dora the Explorer. And I mean that with utmost respect!

RY: If anyone beats Anna in the hair department, it’s our lady of perpetually shaded blackness, [editor of influential blog A Shaded View On Fashion] Diane Pernet. There’s such fortitude in that silhouette of hers. She’s magnetic and aloof, austere and decadent. Contradictions like that spell power, if you ask me.

LM: Diane Pernet is my queen of darkness, the substance of which my dark abysmal insides are made. If anyone knows how to garner attention, it’s D. 

RY: And when style eccentricity runs through blue-blooded veins, it's always a traffic-stopping combination: step forward the chaos of [socialite] Daphne Guinness’s canvas. I just saw her at the Charlie Le Mindu show in London looking as refined as ever. When a woman with as delicate a figure as hers can stomp around in those alien McQueen hooves and still look both elegant and ferocious, it says a lot.  

LM: Daphne Guinness? Refined? That's a name and adjective I never thought I'd see in one sentence. Unless the sentence was Daphne Guinness is the antithesis of refined. How a woman could wear heelless Nina Ricci shoes with ensembles that resemble vertebrae and still manage a busy love life and a romp or two is mind-boggling. In a good way.

RY: If you thought my sense of refinement was unique, you might think I've lost the plot when I say I think there’s more than just discipline in [Vogue Paris editor-in-chief] Emmanuelle Alt’s look. There’s a touch of decadence, too. In her world, wearing a cornucopia of the wildest runway looks would be the default, but, instead, she dares to wear “comfy rock-n-stroll” every day. It says, “I'm a natural authority and I don’t need to prove it.”  

LM: I'm on the same page as you on this one. Her monochromatic tendencies—which only include the crème de la crop of designer labels—speak lengths to her personal style. She spares no expense on the flimsiest of cotton tees, which goes back to your point about her touch of unusual decadence. I'm looking forward to watching her rule the new Vogue throne.

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