Bach Mai and LoveShackFancy stage elaborate presentations
The very different collections held mise-en-scene events to debut their fall 2023 collections designed with special occasions in mind.
Every brand has its take on a branding exercise. Designer Bach Mai, who showed his fourth collection at NYFW, told FashionNetwork.com at his fall presentation that his colorful signature locks are dyed seasonally to match a key color of the collection. This season it was teal blue. He also wore a teal bomber-style shirt made from a fabric in the fall offering.
While that may sound frivolous, Mai is serious about his brand of evening wear and occasion day dressing, which he launched after careers working in Paris ateliers such as John Galliano's namesake brand.
His presentation at The DiMenna Center for Classical Music incorporated several disciplines beyond clothing design; music, dance, and theatrical staging also played a role. Entitled 'Cave of the Sirens', Mai channeled the collection through models in the round moving about the makeshift cave setting, interacting via ethereal and sinuous gestures.
"They are a bit like deadly mermaids. It's an homage to Karl Lagerfeld, in a way, how he used embroidery tulle and chiffon and the little black dress. It's also my nostalgia for my work at Galliano. I don't normally do a lot of black," he explained. The dark shade was paired against the metallic blue-green hue.
Mai also referenced light, exploring fabrics with iridescent embroidery, metallic reflective surfaces, and sequins on the collection, featuring several fishtail hemlines. The music, model staging, and fog machine made for an edgy mood but hampered the viewing of the clothes. Fortunately, thanks to a partnership with Neiman Marcus, a closer in-person view will be possible in-store come September.
Rebecca Hessel-Cohen knows her LoveShackFancy girl is as much at home in a swanky hotel as she is.
So far, she has taken over New York's Plaza Hotel (this season and fall 2022, which also served as the location of her 40th birthday party) and the Paris Ritz Hotel, where she combined market appointments with a champagne-doused cocktail party for press influencers and fans of her saccharine floral-infused feminine collections. The locations lend themselves to the fantasy lifestyle evocative of Bridgerton and palace-centric period pieces of the ilk.
Though according to Hessel-Cohen, fall 2023 is full of reality dressing as the brand—which opened three more stores this past year, making 17 flagship locations total—is expanding the world of the LoveShackFancy gal.
"We have our first pants!" she said in an interview with FashionNetwork.com
While filling in wardrobe gaps was one motivation (the brand also made its first moto jacket for fall 2023), the expansion of the knits and outerwear was a "give the people what they want" response to direct-to-consumer sales both online and at retail.
"Outerwear is outperforming anything else on the website; also, knitwear, especially chunky and alpaca knits," she confirmed.
The frilly floral lace aesthetic is so strong it's hard at first glance to detect a design shift, but an expert eye can see the brand has a slightly different take on the look.
Hessel-Cohen said the London Portobello Road scene inspired her; think Edwardian haberdashery vibes.
"We're expanding the idea of who she can be by pushing her to be a bit edgier. We are calling her 'Rebel Rose'. She is a bit more mature, still a girlie girl but a bit tough with a vintage British eccentricity. More shipwrecked, less perfect," she explained.
Hessel-Cohen revealed a surprising point for the feminine trope brand. Black is still their best-selling color, with cream and pink closely behind. Fun fact: evening is also becoming a strong focus for the brand, especially with various crystal looks.
She is also getting older. "For the more sophisticated customers, we have sourced elevated fabrics from Italian mills, working on the fit paying attention to women's bodies, adding things like elastic waistbands," she continued.
The imperfections, raw edges, and torn tulle allow the brand to highlight its upcycled, bespoke items. "Our younger customers are looking for this. We upcycle vintage fabrics at our stores, such as the one-of-a-kind handmade white wedding dress made from 1930s vintage tablecloths."
Seeing where the LoveShackFancy lady can go with an entire wardrobe at her beckon will be fun to watch. Judging from the bevy of frilly lace floral tulle satin-clad PYTs mugging for social media feeds in the regal halls of the Plaza, they will always enjoy a chance to play dress up.
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