It’s been a breakout year for Chastity Belt, the Seattle band which has grown into its voice in the past few years and was recently written up in the New Yorker on the strength of its album Time To Go Home.
Musically, that voice is droning and jangly. Ideologically, Chastity Belt is feminist, with a viewpoint that is often funny but with songs that can also be serious and direct about everyday existential crises.
We took pictures at Capitol Hill Block Party and later phoned guitarist and sometime singer Lydia Lund (far right in the photo) to talk about “Lydia,” a what-does-it-all-mean song which lands someplace…indistinct.
Other topics of conversation included avoiding seasonal affective disorder by gardening, feeling the ocean’s power while surfing–and we learned about the taste of the Peperomia plant.
Parties crack and moods lift to the sounds of Tuxedo, the west coast duo whose 1980s funk is inspired by the past and crystalized in the present by Mayer Hawthorne (Andrew Cohen) and Jake One (Jake Dutton). If the group’s eponymous album is not in your summer music rotation already, we recommend it.
We spoke to them on tour about how Tuxedo fits into this current retro moment in pop (Mark Ronson, Daft Punk) and which piece from their custom Klein Epstein Parker tuxedos Jake One accidentally left at home with 30 minutes to showtime.
As music lovers we read everything written by Jon Caramanica, pop music critic at The New York Times for the past seven years. He always seems to take our own blurry ideas and focus them to a point we wish we had made. We’ve come to terms with it. He’s the smarter us.
Caramanica has also been writing the bi-monthly Critical Shopper column for the Times for the past five years and we love that, too. It’s different from his music writing. He shops various stores, critically andanonymously, and writes about his experience later using multiple literary techniques. Sometimes he writes on his phone in the dressing room.
We also squeezed out of him insights on menswear and style writers you should be reading now (bookmarks list: updated), the changing influence of music on men’s style–and the aliveness or deadness of offense in fashion.
Meet Tim Coppens (last name rhymes with opens), the talented designer who came up through the ranks at Ralph Lauren and adidas and is about to bring his CFDA award-nominated style to Nordstrom. You could call his look athleisure but you’d be better with athluxury.
Tim Coppens will be shoppable mid-August on our website, and his wares sold in physical form exclusively at our Seattle headquarters and our new Canadian store in Vancouver, B.C.
We caught up with Coppens in his NYC showroom the day after his #NYFWM runway show to get to know him better through his spring/summer 2016 collection, his most personal work to date.
The collection is a memory-dive into his formative years skateboarding around New York City with his European friends in the 1990s, listening to hip-hop, watching Kids and VHS tapes of 411 Video Magazine. That crinkly nylon jacket above comes from Method Man. His red leather pullover is a Patagonia hijack. The magic mushrooms on his varsity jackets come from Tom Penny, the reclusive skater with the psychedelic public image.
Basically, Coppens dream of the ‘90s represents a magic part of his life when he hung with a tribe and followed his instincts, and which changed him forever.
If New York Fashion Week: Men’s were a music festival, John Varvatos would have been the headliner. The American menswear designer went last and went big at #NYFWM, with a rockin’ runway show which people jostled to get into beforehand and fought during to take photos.
We meet Varvatos backstage to talk about the England-meets-SoCal inspiration behind his stripe-y spring/summer 2016 collection–a lot of it had to do with a guitar player whose name rhymes with Beef Pritchards–and why he forewent his regular runway show in Milan in favor of New York.
Billy Reid was one of the designers we looked forward to meeting most at #NYFWM, whose stuff we love (both his excellent every day clothes and subtly radical runway collections) and whose whole perspective is on-point, culturally and socially.
Click here for images of Reid’s spring/summer 2016 collection.
We caught up with the designer backstage before his runway show at David Zwirner Gallery in Chelsea. He told us all about his collection and which music he listened to while designing it–and opened up about his special connection to Charleston, SC, and being moved to take action after the tragic church shooting there.
The bond between music and style is strong in any situation. But with Twin Shadow and Public School, it’s dang near familial.
Backstage before the Public School show at New York Fashion Week: Men’s, rock star Twin Shadow talked with us about scoring every Public School show so far and what specifically was asked of him for this spring/summer 2016 collection. He was also a model in the show.
In a contemplative mood this summer, we’ve been reaching for OK by the New York City band Eskimeaux, an album that makes us believe again in the power of turn-of-the-millennium indie rock. We listen while we read Rookie Magazine and The Le Sigh, and think maybe it’s not a dead genre. Maybe instead it’s a not-broken, doesn’t-need-fixing staple.
We met with bandleader and sometimes solo performer Gabby Smith in an undisclosed greenhouse to talk about the weird ambient music she used to make, her upcoming video session for NPR and the value of tenacity in one’s artistic process.
The best party nobody went to might’ve been 12 years ago in Norfolk, Virginia, when producers who would change the sound of hip-hop and R&B deejayed to basically nobody.
We’ll let our music video director friend Shomi Patwary tell you about that one.
Long story short, Patwary and British star Mark Ronson go way back, and we now have the video for “I Can’t Lose.” It’s more zesty funk from Ronson–whom we shall never fail to mention without hyperlinking to his and Aaliyah’s classic Hilfiger ad–and bigger-budget moves from Patwary, best known for A$AP Rocky’s “Multiply.”
Check out behind-the-scenes images below from “I Can’t Lose” and an edited transcript of our phone call with Patwary.
We talked about Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal,” Dick Tracy, Blade Runner, the cameo from Waris Ahluwalia–and what happens when the zeitgeist moves post- ‘90s retromania.
Fresh Dressed is the first-ever documentary about the history of hip-hop fashion, out now in theaters all over the U.S. We recommend you see it. You will be entertained and educated, and perhaps inspired to decorate your jacket.
Energy and insights in Fresh Dressed come from music and fashion leaders including Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Dapper Dan, André Leon Talley, Riccardo Tisci and the duo of Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osbourne from Public School.
But the overall product is excellent mostly because it was directed by Sacha Jenkins, a 20-years-deep veteran of journalism with Beat Down, ego trip and Mass Appeal magazines. Mainstream America remembers his The (White) Rapper Show on VH1. Some Pratt Institute students call him their professor.
Now you will know him from his interview with the Nordstrom blogs.
Check our interview with Jenkins and the trailer for Fresh Dressed below. And if you’re already feeling TL;DR, check this audio clip from Jenkins about how hip-hop style relates to freedom: