The finalists for the 2017 Hair Expo awards have been announced and Parlour Unley Creative Director Jason Fassbender has been awarded a finalist spot in the category of Australian Hairdresser Of The Year for his collection Ingènue. Jason is one of eight finalists nationally competing for the title, considered as the top honour in Australian Hairdressing. The awards will be announced June 12th in Sydney. Check out a sample of Jason's work below, to view the full collection hit the link here.

You Can't Sit With Us.

The irony of H&M's 'affordable designer fashion for the masses'.


In 2004 when global retail goliath H&M released it’s first collaboration with design king pin Karl Lagerfeld they unleashed a beast that has grown to be one of the most anticipated fashion events of the year, the designer/fast fashion colab. The collection sold out in most stores within hours and left fashion hungry fans looking for a piece of cut price design begging for more. Due to the great success of the concept the powers that be signed on for another year and a new designer. Next in line was Stella McCartney followed by a growing list of fashion heavy hitters that includes Viktor & Rolf, Roberto Cavalli, Jimmy Choo, Sonia Rykiel, MARNI, Lanvin, Versace, Alexander Wang and most recently Balmain. When questioned on why these designers agreed to work on such a project the answer, almost always, went along the lines of “bringing well designed fashion to the masses at an accessible price point”. A theory all well and good on paper but is the reality a different story?

After the runaway success of the debut Karl Lagerfeld X H&M collection, the outspoken designer was suitable unimpressed with the retail giants management of the project and vowed never to work with them again. His accusation of "snobbery created by anti-snobbery” due to the company’s decision to produce Lagerfeld’s designs in limited numbers was not received well by upper management and demand for an apology was issued. An apology from Karl? Ha! Good luck with that! The subsequent designers seemed to have no beef with H&M and every collection to date has been a smash, selling out as soon as it hits the sales floor.

While the success of these pairings is undeniable for H&M, what’s in it for the designers behind the collections? The idea of a working partnership with an organisation synonymous with cheap clothing seems to go against everything that high ends designers spend their entire careers working toward. The H&M collections heavily reference the silhouettes and aesthetic of the designers main line, thus why they are chosen, but these designers, usually champions of the finest fabrics draped and constructed by the worlds best tailors and dressmakers, are now conceded to their designs being knocked up en mass in bulk production facilities all over the world. The reach of an organisation such as H&M is massive, no doubt about it, but is this branding exercise really worth it for the designers? Could the exercise actually be damaging your labels reputation with your real following? You may reach a whole new market but surely that customer, whom usually pays $50 for a dress, isn’t going to all of a sudden see the value in dropping $5000 on one that looks exactly the same from your labels namesake. On the other hand, is someone who has invested $5000 on said piece likely to be impressed when they see a shoddy replica on the back of every Beccy, Britney and Sally strutting down the high street on a Saturday night? I think not.

Re-selling has been a very lucrative byproduct of these ventures with online auction prices skyrocketing on sold out pieces from the collections. After the recent global clean out of all the Balmain X H&M collection pieces, EBay prices on some items where exceeding the cost of genuine items and Maison Martin Margiela X H&M pieces where listed on the site before they where even available for purchase through the retailer at heavily inflated sums. The concept that someone would shell out $2000 for a dress they know only cost $400 is beyond comprehension for me but the power of celebrity (the dress was worn by Kendall Jenner in the campaign shots) is a phenomenal thing these days, clearly a well played move by those behind the project. That’s not to say this is only happening with H&M colabs, Kanye Wests’ collections for ADIDAS under the YEEZY moniker have had similar effect. His YEEZY Boost 350 trainers retailed for around the $250 mark but sold out in seconds world wide only to resurface on EBay minutes later with prices in excess of $1500. In an interview with Vogue.com after his YEEZY Season One show, Kanye expressed his desire to bring affordable, well designed clothing to those who couldn’t afford the inflated prices designers charge for items all should be able to acquire and thus his collection of street influenced sweats, utilitarian outerwear and trainers was born. He was spotted the next day in a $1500 Haider Ackermann velvet sweater and matching track pants. Likewise, when the YEEZY collection hit stores, the prices ranged from US$210 for a tee shirt through to a staggering US$4000 for a shearling coat. Affordable? Some would argue no.

So while the concept is sold to us as a tasty, well priced treat to fashion savvy customers, the only winners I see here are H&M and the lucky few who managed to snag a couple of collection pieces and turn them into EBay gold! And of corse Kanye ;)

The LOEWE factor.

The LOEWE factor.


The appointment of a young designer to invigorate a somewhat stale label isn’t exactly a ground breaking idea, but LVMH’s decision to hand J.W. Anderson creative control of Spanish luxury leather goods house LOEWE may just be one of the best moves the company has made.


With a history that stretches back to 1846, LOEWE is one of the oldest luxury goods houses in existence. With a firm reputation as one of the worlds leaders in luxury leather goods the 70’s saw the inception of the first women’s ready to wear collection. Before their meteoric rise to designer king pin status, Karl Lagerfeld and Giorgio Armani both freelanced for the brand lending their talents to the womenswear line.


It wasn’t until1996 when Narciso Rodríguez was appointed creative director for womenswear that LOEWE appeared on the Paris runway for the first time. Rodríguez exploited LOEWE’s masterful skill with leather to produce quiet, understated luxury season after season but the collections where never at the forefront of cutting edge innovation. After a lengthy tenure at the helm, Fall 2001 marked Rodríguez’ final outing for the house with a concise showing that juxtaposed masculine and feminine elements in a palate of black, white and silver with plenty of the trademark leather that the house is known for. 


After skipping the Spring 2002 round of shows, Spaniard José Enrique Oña Selfa took the reigns of the Spanish house and Fall 2002 saw him present his freshman show for the label. The showing was not a highlight for the house, Oña Selfa appeared to follow trends but could he create them? An extended leave of absence followed and Spring 2007 saw LOEWE return to the runway under José’s direction. Fall 2007 marked the timely exit of the designer from the house, ironically with his strongest collection to date.  


After packing up shop in London, former Mulberry accessory designer Stuart Vevers moved to Spain and was appointed creative director in July of 2007 and reintroduced us to the world of LOEWE with his Resort 2009 presentation. While at Mulberry, Vevers escalated the company to cult status with a string of must have bags and was awarded Accessory Designer Of The Year in 2006 by the British Fashion Council. This appointment seemed a very smart move by LVMH considering the history of LOEWE and leather but ready to wear was where the house was always lacking the ability to make headway. Style wise, the aforementioned Resort 2009 presentation was a clear departure from the labels former guise but still maintained the impeccable craftsmanship the brand is renowned for. The next few seasons saw solid collections of quality staples for the woman looking to build her wardrobe over time. Groundbreaking? No. Classics? yes. That was until Spring 2010. The LOEWE woman was all of a sudden a forward thinking fashion girl! 


The next three years saw Vevers go from strength to strength and his voice as a ready to wear designer was starting to become apparent. Interesting fabrication technique and the continued experimentation with pelts and hide gave the classic silhouettes the updated tweak they so desperately needed. The use of print was becoming a signature and off set the rigidity of leather beautifully. Fall 2013 marked the final showing for Vevers and also saw the introduction of 5 mens looks on the runway for the first time.


October 2013 saw 29 year old Anderson take his place as creative director for the house of LOEWE. The first glimpse of what he had in store for the brand was delivered via the Spring 2015 Menswear season with J.W choosing to return to the original format of presentation over a fully fledged runway show. 


Linen, silk, denim and of course, leather made up the tools Anderson used to deliver his message. The Meccano motif represents J.W’s ‘naive approach to rebuilding a brand’ and are emblazoned on t-shirts and sweaters. Standout pieces where those sensational Japanese denim jeans with the oversized turn-up, elongated silk tunics in black or khaki and the striped shirt that was fashioned from two silk scarves. The accessories where spot on and had that Anderson quirk that any of his fans have come to love. The lust inducing Anton backpack, chunky polished lace up bluchers and oversized knitted blanket scarves all make a great excuse to start saving!


Fast forward three months as Julia Nobis opens Anderson’s debut womenswear show for the label in a Flintstonesque ‘oro’ suede dress and block heeled black mules. Exit after exit the message was clear, now, thanks to J.W, LOEWE was THE label to watch. On first inspection one could be forgiven for mistaking the collection as the work of Phoebe Philo at Céline, sophisticated, understated luxury clothing that women want to wear. Judo belted pants in a rainbow of colour where the high point when it came to the leather work and, surprisingly, didn’t look out of place amongst the natural tones of linen and the expertly crafted macrame style knits in wheat tones. 


In an outing that was just as much about the accessories as it was the garments an instant classic was born in the form of the Puzzle bag. Weather it be in a bright pop of colour, black edged suede or luxe croc skin, Anderson will no doubt have serious bagaholics lining up round the block to get their hands on one. If something a little less bold is your thing the croc envelope clutch will make a long lasting addition to your collection. Jewellery was non existent apart from a couple of pairs of brass toned sculptural earrings and those mules are sure to satisfy those on the hunt for an escape from the Birkinstock but don’t want to be teetering around an 8inch heel. 


With critical acclaim from fashion insiders under his belt after Spring 2015, Anderson pushed a little harder with his Fall 2015 Menswear presentation. With a starting point of ‘the clothes in your closet that make you wonder why you bought them’, J.W took us on a trip that was like Noel Gallagher circa 1994 dressed in 70’s disco garb wearing Kurt Cobain’s sunglasses. White wide leg pants teamed with an oversized flight bomber jacket, blanket scarf and bug eyed sunglasses or a zip up Harrington all has Anderson’s tounge in cheek appeal but without any of the gimmick. These are clothes designed to be worn.


For ready to wear we where given a healthy dose of the 80’s in the best way possible. The genius that is J.W. Anderson lies within his ability to take something so clearly referential and make it look like something you’ve never seen before. Glossed patent leather, pleated lamé, wide leg herringbone pants and cropped leather bombers all conjure up images of 1984 but when delivered the Anderson way it has a futuristic aesthetic. It may have been the gradient oversized sunglasses that finished off every look but there was most defiantly a fashion cyborg undertone to the show. The puzzle bag was back in a whole new gamut of colours and there where a couple of new offerings in the form of a cute little bucket bag and a flap closure mini with a chain handle. 


I think it’s safe to assume that LOEWE is now well and truly on track to becoming a driving force in both ready to wear and menswear thanks to Anderson’s vision and knack for creating pieces that challenge your perception of what fashion should be and make you dream of what it could be. With an ability to infuse his slightly twisted sensibility into a house with such a strong tradition steeped in history, Anderson is leading LOEWE toward the seldom realised situation where art and commerce reside side by side, and in a future so bright that you’ve gotta wear shades, I know where i’ll be getting mine!  


Brunsdons Boys.



In a MBFWA season where options for gents where slim pickings, there was one house pushing Australian menswear in an exciting new direction. With social media granting us immediate access to all the latest style inspiration from around the globe it was only a matter of time before someone channelled the sartorial whit of the worlds best dressed men and gave it an Aussie twist. 


Celebrated womenswear designer Jayson Brunsdon debuted 10 menswear ensembles in a show totalling 44 exits and set the wheels in motion on redefining the way modern Australian men dress. 


Brunsdons first menswear outing for his eponymous label was all thriller, no filler! Fabrics such as lace and jacquards, traditionally considered the domain of womenswear, where given a masculine twist to great effect. A lace bibbed tuxedo shirt paired with pleated, above the knee shorts was the first glimpse of what Brunsdon had in store for the forward thinking man. Subtle detail on shirting was an interesting detail to the collection. On first glance, a classic black button down teamed with a tailored slim fit pant looked fairly unassuming, upon closer inspection it revealed a beautiful lace collar. Another black button down sported a narrow, slightly ruffled placard that harked back to the oft garish 70’s tuxedo shirt, this time without the cringeworthy connotation of it’s past incarnation.


Wardrobe classics where given a fresh lease on life through the creative use of textile and a colour palate not commonly associated with menswear in this country. Perfectly tailored tuxedo jackets cut in peach and black silk floral jacquard, black and metallic scarlet brocade or a shimmering noir lamè where options for those with a sense of adventure. There was also plenty on offer for the more reserved man with tailored pants cut in black, white or nude and a jersey t or crisp white button down with a singular red rose print. 


My favourite exit of the show was an impeccably cut nude blazer with a black bermuda short that could easily be doing the street style rounds at Pitti Uomo come June but until then, Mr Brunsdon, if you would advance me one of those rose print shirts, I’d happily join your boys brigade!


The impending departure of Frida Giannini as Creative Director at the house of Gucci was no secret. The two questions left unanswered? Who will replace her and what will the new Gucci look like? With Giannini’s abrupt exit from her role, one month ahead of schedule, both of those questions where answered on January 19. In Milan, Head Accessories Designer Alessandro Michele sent the first model down the runway for the Fall 2015 Menswear presentation after fully redesigning the collection in just 5 days! 

Gone was the old same/same Gucci man from years past, in his place stood a languid haired lithe in a diaphanous scarlet pussy bow shirt and generously cut charcoal pant, all held together with the houses’ famous interlocking GG belt. Michele and his team shed fresh light on another Gucci classic, the Horse Bit Loafer, panelling it from croc and lining it with luxe mink. The bags where a stand out, monogrammed double flap suede satchels in burgundy, olive, terracotta and slate with metal serpent hard wear used to great effect. Exit after exit it was clear that the new Gucci man is a free spirited lover, a new romantic. It was as if Muiccia Prada went on holiday to Paris circa 1960, had a fling with a young Yves St Laurent then came back to Milan and designed a menswear collection. The shrunken sweaters, the printed suiting, the colour palate, it all had an air of Ms Prada, in the best possible way. Fabric choices and silhouettes blurred the lines between masculine and feminine, heralding a new beginning for a powerhouse whom have built their empire on traditionally overt sexuality for both men and women. Will the risk pay off? We’ll see when the collection hits the stores mid year. And while I can’t see the pussy bow shirts doing the rounds on your average Joe, I’m sure they will be used to great effect in a billion editorials and a brave few street style favourites. Oh, and put me on the wait list for a pair of those mink lined loafers!

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