Behind the Seams

Fashion Week Interviews

Nicholas Kirkwood Brings Moroccan Flair to Paris

Nicholas Kirkwood, the 2013 BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund Award winner, held an intimate presentation in the 1st arrondissement of Paris to unveil his spring ’14 line. Using three distinctive motifs, Kirkwood demonstrated his ability to create covetable footwear that appeals to a variety of lifestyles.

“You see several underlining themes in this collection,” says Kirkwood. “The first is sort of a Moroccan feel with the raffia, laser cutting and jacquards. Then, there’s a sporty ’70s vibe that features high-tech low soles. I’ve always played with hidden details, and for spring, it’s a pearl under the heel or a triangle-shaped heel. Buckles introduced for this current fall are back with a vengeance. Lastly, there are transitional day-to-evening options.”

Learn more about the British wunderkind in our exclusive Behind the Seams interview.

Qianna Smith
Photos by Ford Leland

Fashion Week Interviews

Rick Owens Stomps Into Spring 2014

American expat Rick Owens steps into a new future for fashion, where raw energy and motion give new meaning to outerwear.

Instead of holding the traditional model casting, Owens recruited four step dance troupes—Step with Momentum, W Diva, Zeta and Soul Steps—to form a single unifying force he titled “Vicious.”

Futurism and organic expression were combined through electro-synthetic beats and rhythmic communal stomp to create an experience that was perfectly congruent with the progressive mindset of Owens’ universe.

Olive-soaked hues draped the body to form a structured silhouette fused with a tribal, Grecian statement.

A new industrial uniform emerges with a religious undertone.

Angular shapes construct a dramatic—yet minimalistic—aesthetic.

After the electrifying performance, The Thread dashed backstage to learn more about Owens’ vision for spring ’14.

“I have the opportunity to do shows, and so I like to have fun with it,” says the Californian designer (pictured left), who has called Paris home for over a decade. “When I do things that genuinely please me, they come out for the best. This show was really my own celebration, and if people wanted to join in, that’s fine by me!”

So what’s the message behind the movement? “It was about American unity and American teamwork,” Owens says. “I love that spirit and wanted to project that—both in the performance and clothes.”

“The show was amazing. Different. And very appropriate,” says rock star Lenny Kravitz, whom we caught backstage congratulating dancers from the show with his longtime friend, actress Gina Gershon. “I loved seeing the variety of sizes and the diverse looks of the girls. It’s so important to project that.”

Shop our Editors’ Picks from the current season.

Rick Owens Blistered Lambskin Leather Jacket | Rick Owens Twisted Jersey Tank
Rick Owens Calfskin Leather Jacket

Qianna Smith
Photos by Ford Leland

Fashion Week Interviews

Behind the Seams: Milly Spring/Summer 2014

Enter into the world of Milly and watch Michelle Smith, the creative force behind the brand, translate the idea of transparency into a three-dimensional sculpted look for spring/summer 2014.

Michelle invited The Thread to sit in on the model castings and final fittings for her show.

To make the Milly casting cut, you need to exude femininity with a modern edge.

French model Loulou Robert stops by the showroom to finalize the fit on the two looks she’ll wear for the show.

The Parisian glam-girl is also the face of Milly’s fall ’13 ad campaign.

“I’ve got a base palette of black and white. You’ll see a lot of clean, stark silhouettes, but color really comes into play via my prints,” says Michelle, who designs all her own patterns.

Vintage accessories give the ultra-modern collection an added layer of depth. We can’t wait to see how she puts it all together.

It’s almost showtime! We catch up with the designer at The Stage at Lincoln Center, where we find models Anya Kazakova, Emeline Ghesquiere, Vasilisa Pavlova and Steffi Soede donning heels by Manolo Blahnik for Milly spring ’14.

“For me, the collection always begins with the fabric. I love designing fabric and customizing it. Most, if not all, of my fabrics are European,” says Michelle. “I love taking a fabric swatch that may appear sporty or athletic and then transform it into something very feminine and beautiful.”

“I keep eight factories in New York pretty busy year-round, and they are all within a five-mile radius from my studio,” she says of her New York-made brand. “I make 12 ready-to-wear collections a year, so one each month, as well as 5 cabana swimwear collections, Milly Minis childrenswear and handbags.”

Milly’s black and white palette is punctuated with splashes of tropical and floral prints. “I was in Hawaii back in April on the Big Island and the prints were really conceived from that trip. Prior to Hawaii I was in Japan. so you’ll see touches of Japanese floral layered in,” she adds.

There’s nothing like bringing your kids to work when you’re a fashion designer. Michelle’s two children, William and Sophia, join her on the runway to watch the preshow run-through. And it appears William, who is all smiles, sees something he likes.

Models practice moving to the music before it’s time to change into the first looks.

“This collection really emphasizes the classic silhouette: bust, waist and hips. I wanted to draw attention to the hourglass proportions of a woman’s body,” says Michelle. “There’s also a lot of play on structure and shape.”

The key luxurious fabric used in the collection feels almost like a carbon fiber. What makes this material so advanced is that the transparencies give an X-ray effect.

This sportswear-inspired look with its architectural illusions feels so fresh and chic for spring.

Michelle’s attention to detail and continuous fabric innovation truly make her a master among contemporary designers. Bravo!

Qianna Smith
Photos by Fernando Colon

Fashion Week Interviews

Kenneth Cole Spring 2014: Do You See What I See?

Kenneth Cole has been on a mission to reenergize his eponymous label since buying back, in 2012, the company he founded 30 years ago.

Exploring new ways to connect and engage with the digitally charged urbanites of the world, Cole modernizes the traditional static fashion presentation with a never-before-seen social media sensory experience.

Viewpoints, taken from the title of his spring/summer 2014 collection, reveals the details of each design through a compilation of 360-degree rich media taken from Vine to Twitter by the models featured in the presentation.

“Social media allows us to connect in unprecedented ways. Understanding our customer and being able to tailor our product based on the language they speak, from the city they are in, is very important to me,” says Cole, who presented a sporty, streetwise series of looks that included exotic snakeskin printed skirts, neon studded track pants and noir mesh tops.

“We’ve moved away from the static model presentation to a curated dynamic fashion experience. There are all these moving layers and images, which is so cool,” he says. “Your point of view of the collection depends on your points of view. My models are taking pictures with iPhones and we’re taking pictures of them, so you’ll get to see what they see as well as the visual perspective of the audience.”

Do you see what Kenneth Cole sees? #KCViewPoints #behindthefashion

Qianna Smith
Backstage photos by Fernando Colon | Presentation images courtesy of Kenneth Cole

Fashion Week Interviews

Safari Adventures with Rachel Zoe for Spring ’14

Rachel Zoe constructs a new take on exotic sophistication for spring/summer 2014.

We snapped Rachel sharing a laugh with her dapper son, Skyler. The designer’s recently announced pregnancy didn’t stop her from positively glowing as she talked with The Thread about the color palette for the season. “This collection is very safari,” she says. “We start with neutrals, then we go into soft feminine blushes and move into a black-and-white story with touches of leather.”

Model Coco Rocha dons Rachel Zoe Resort as she films a special episode of NYLON TV backstage.

Get ready for style adventure in the form of caftans, tailored jackets, maxi dresses and mod minis.

Qianna Smith
Photos by Fernando Colon

Fashion Week Interviews

Lela Rose Translates Furniture into Fashion for SS14

Day dresses and evening wear take on a modern form at Lela Rose, where curvilinear shapes meet sculpted femininity.

“The collection is all based around mid-century modern furniture, specifically the work of Arne Jacobsen,” says Lela on the inspiration for spring 2014. “There’s a lot of a architectural lines, but it’s still very feminine. The designs really have an ethereal beauty to them.”

Backstage, we found Lela with her sidekick, Bobbin.

“I was just saying, ‘we’re so rich. We’re just throwing gold everywhere,'” gushes Lela with a laugh on the golden flakes dancing about in the air from the models’ hair.

Celebrity stylist Ted Gibson and the team from his 5th Avenue salon created a whimsical up-do with golden leaf that added texture and gave the style a Midsummer Night’s Dream effect.

Oh, yes! We think they like Lela’s gracious sensibility, which took cues from Danish furniture designer Arne Jacobsen’s famed Egg and Swan chair creations.

After the show, we stopped Jennifer Wheeler, our VP of women’s designer apparel, to get hear her thoughts on the collection. “Lela has such beautiful taste,” says Jennifer. “And her clothing is just refined, elegant, ladylike dressing.”

Qianna Smith
Photos by Fernando Colon

Fashion Week Interviews

Donna Karan’s Spring ’14 Lessons in Urban Culture

The preservation of culture is a key issue for Donna Karan’s Urban Zen Foundation. Inspired by the search for a scarf, Karan’s spring 2014 collection looks to the beauty of the East and pays homage to the craft and passion of local artisans from India to New York.

“Donna always does a beautiful collection that is very authentic to her,” says Karlie Kloss, the face of Jean Paul Gaultier’s fall ’13 ad campaign.

Backstage mayhem at the Cedar Lake Theater in Chelsea.

Joan Smalls, the #1 ranked model in the world, perfects her pout with a touch of gloss.

How versatile is a hand-blocked scarf? For Donna Karan, the possibilities are endless. “Short or long, the look is lean and leggy—or voluminous as air,” according to the show notes.

Polish model Jac Jagaciak dons a block-printed silk stretch georgette scarf dress that oozes urban chic.

Josephine Skriver shows off one of the wide-brim hats designed by Stephen Jones Millinery for the spring ’14 collection.

A man’s tunic made for a woman. Fei Fei Sun wears a silk tussah caftan shirt and silk stretch georgette wrap skirt.

Cora Emmanuel moves with ease wrapped in a poplin skirt dress.

Raw leather accents paired with a masculinely cut skirt dress gives Romanian model Andreea Diaconu a modern elegance.

Hilary Rhoda closes the show in a vegetable-dyed and sunbaked terracotta-stenciled silk chiffon dress.

“What makes Donna’s collections so special is that she works with the best designers that are the best at what they do,” says Kloss, who led the show’s finale walk. “I just loved all the silks from India and the hand beading she did for spring. Everything is so beautifully made and it is inspiring how she supports local artisans around the world.”

Fringed, handwoven suede and grommeted, handprinted python add luxe texture to the collection.

In this exotic tale, it’s the journey, not the destination, that leads to personal self discovery.

After the show, The Thread congratulated the designer and learned a little bit more about her “urban culture” titled collection.

“If you remember, I did a Haitian-inspired collection for spring 2012. For me, culture has just an inspirational aspect and it can play so many different roles,” says Donna, whose DKNY line turned 25 during Fashion Week.

“This entire summer, at the Urban Zen store I had only scarves—I didn’t make clothes. I just wrapped and tied scarves for customers. Particularly at my age, I’m so terrified that we are losing our cultures. Having practiced yoga, I’ve always considered myself one that puts the East and the West together. My travels, especially to Bali, India, Africa and Haiti, have greatly influenced my designs and initiatives for the Urban Zen Foundation.”

Qianna Smith
Photos by Fernando Colon

Fashion Week

Behind the Seams: Hervé Léger Spring/Summer ’14

Hervé Léger by Max Azria focuses on the house’s signature couture techniques for spring 2014. The result: a seductive tale starring the urban, power-dressing femme fatale.

Timing is everything! Models rehearse their walk to the show’s arranged playlist.

Lubov Azria and team give their final seal of approval.

Backstage beauty, where the skin was fresh and luminous.

Senior designer Sean Lim created the sketch that defined this tribal-inspired collection.

Vogue Germany & Vogue Greece cover girl Ieva Lagūna has the walking directions down pat.

Pattern designer Carlos Lucero has worked closely with Lubov and Sean to bring their design vision to life. (Photo by Craig Arend.)

Model (and Dancing with the Stars alum) Petra Němcová in Hervé Léger.

Beauty is expressed in the handcrafted details.

 It’s all about the zipper embellishments.

Crochet and beadwork define the form.

Corset seduction meets fringe benefits.

Mark your calendars: the Parisian brand acquired by Max Azria in 1985 turns 30 in 2015. And we’re told it’s going to be an anniversary year to remember!

Qianna Smith
Photos by Fernando Colon

Get the look, and see Backstage Beauty coverage at the Fashion Week shows on our Beauty Blog.


London Calling: Nicholas Kirkwood Fall 2013

Known for the architectonic quality of his designs and his wondrous use of color, Nicholas Kirkwood has wowed the fashion world since launching his namesake label in 2005. Britain’s shoe wunderkind phoned The Thread while en route to London from New York’s JFK airport to discuss paving his own path to success.

And the Winner Is… Kirkwood kicked off the new year by snagging the prestigious BFC/Vogue Fashion Fund Award and presenting his spring 2013 collection on the heads of models

THE THREAD: Since winning the BFC/Vogue Fashion Fund award in January, which mentor has been the most influential in advancing your business?

NICHOLAS KIRKWOOD: We have two mentors. One has a financial background and the other one is Kurt Geiger, who I’ve actually already been working with. The advice we’ve received on brand building and wholesale distribution from a retail stance has been really helpful, particularly because I’m growing my own retail business.

Mad Hatter: Kirkwood worked for the Royal family’s go-to milliner, Philip Treacy, for five years and embraced his architectural aesthetic

THE THREAD: Philip Treacy is constantly challenging the perception of what a hat should be and the role it should play in a woman’s dressing. Do you feel some of his rebellious spirit rubbed off on you in terms of your approach to shoe design?

KIRKWOOD: Philip has certainly served as inspiration. I was surrounded by his creations every day. He gave me my first introduction to the world of accessories, and that was definitely a turning point for me in terms of the direction I wanted to take my career. His studio is like a creative playground. Working with him allowed me to think about shoes in a different way, maybe in a more sculptural way, because at the time I had a limited art background. The sculptural element really came natural to me.


Tulle Jewel: Nicholas Kirkwood Ruffle Trim Pump with dramatic goldtone stiletto heel

THE THREAD: Manolo Blahnik has served as an inspiration for you too. If you ever had a chance to interview him, what one question would you have to ask?

KIRKWOOD: Wow, that’s quite a question. I suppose I’d ask him at what point did he feel he was really at the top of his game, and what did that feel like?

British Besties ♥ NK: Model Cara Delevingne and Rita Ora—English ‘it’ girls—are both known to rock Kirkwood designs for work and play. This past May, Rita wore a custom-made pair of pumps by Kirkwood to the MET gala

THE THREAD: How does the city of London and its fashion influencers inspire your creative point of view?

KIRKWOOD: London is a creatively open city. It’s got great schools like Central Saint Martins that have a longstanding history of producing some of the greatest artists and fashion inventors. Naturally there’s a certain energy to London, which makes it a very inspiring city to live and work in. There’s an independence in London’s culture which really motivates people to try something new, and you can see that in everything from music to art to fashion.

THE THREAD: You created a very edgy yet timeless pump to complement the dress that singer Rita Ora wore to this year’s MET gala, PUNK: Chaos to Couture. Can you tell us a little more about the design?

KIRKWOOD: The design is based on a classic pump shape. Rita had a dress made up by Thakoon, which had chains running through it and gave the fabric a metal element. I wanted the shoe to look as though someone splashed or kicked a load of studs on the front of the shoe and they just randomly degraded out.

Style Mystique: Jennifer Lawrence promotes her upcoming movie X-Men: Days of Future Past at Comic-Con in San Diego, donning a bandage dress from Alexander McQueen Resort 2014 and sleek pointy-toe Lace Pumps by Nicholas Kirkwood

THE THREAD: You’re not short on the number of celebrity fans or fashion design awards: Footwear News Emerging Talent Vivian Infantino award in 2006, AltaRoma/Vogue Italia award for accessories design in 2007, British Fashion Awards Swarovski Emerging Talent in 2008. With so many admirers and accolades, what is the best compliment you’ve ever received about one of your shoe designs?

KIRKWOOD: Funny enough, [the rapper] Rick Ross mentioned me in a his song [“All I Really Want”: “Baby girl, my money good, who turned her on to Nicholas Kirkwood.”] and that was definitely a compliment.

Walk This Way: Kirkwood has designed the runway shoes for New York-based design duo SUNO for the past three seasons. For fall ’13, his clever use of color on these ‘80s inspired Chelsea-print ankle boots feels so right now

THE THREAD: Do you feel shoes are the index of a personal status?

KIRKWOOD: It’s a combination of things. Certainly before the shoe years, it was about the “it” bag. Handbags were so prominent for so long. Maybe just in the last 8 to 10 years, have shoes become increasingly more of a focus, even from a designer’s point of view for their runway shows. Shoes maybe were viewed more of just an accessory to show off the clothing, and now they really have become almost an item within themselves. Almost every year, every season, designers are trying to outdo each other with their show shoes. It was probably about three years ago or so that shoes were getting crazier and higher.

Fall Fabulous: Slip into chic comfort wearing the Nicholas Kirkwood Stretch Suede Bootie

THE THREAD: Your fall/winter 2013 collection runs the gamut of shape, color and material. Would you say you have a hero shoe in this latest offering?

KIRKWOOD: I really wouldn’t say there’s a particular shoe. The hero is perhaps more in the fabrication. Also, I started using a new kind of hardware, right on top of the shoe in a way that resembles a buckle. And for spring 2013, I did a zigzag print in suede to explore how to use an exact pattern without printing it. I’m always trying new things that interest me.

Ready to answer London’s call? Ring in fall with Nicholas Kirkwood.

Qianna Smith

Portrait courtesy of Nicholas Kirkwood

[Photo Credit:,,,,]

ALL POSTS Interviews

L’Agent: Lingerie on Cruz Control

Agent Provocateur (AP), makers of fashion’s fiercest unmentionables for the last 19 years, is launching its first-ever diffusion line, L’Agent, in collaboration with Spanish ingenues Penélope and Mónica Cruz.

L’Agent embodies the seductiveness of AP’s core aesthetic, yet it’s designed with a comfortable, everyday approach to intimate apparel in terms of shapes, cuts and colors.

Leading AP’s legacy in lingerie is the brand’s creative director, Sarah Shotton, whom we phoned in London to get the lacy details on the collection, which is available online and in Nordstrom stores starting today.


Bound for Britain: Last summer, Penélope and Mónica camped out with Sarah at the London-based studio of AP to conceive and design the L’Agent collection

THE THREAD: Tell us how the partnership with the Cruz sisters got started!

SARAH SHOTTON: It began with a conversation on set. Mónica modeled for the AP fall/winter 2012 collection, and while she was getting her hair and makeup done for the shoot, we got to chatting. She mentioned that she and Penélope have been buying and collecting AP for about 15 or 16 years, if not more. Mónica said, “We love what you do. We love the brand. We love all the lingerie.” She just said that she and her sister really wanted to design lingerie and would love to work on a collaboration with us. At the time, Gary Hogarth, AP’s CEO, and I had already been discussing producing a wholesale line. So it was perfect timing and very organic. They adore the brand, and we adore them.

Lovely in Lingerie: Mónica Cruz was hand-picked by Sarah to model for AP’s fall/winter 2012 collection

THE THREAD: How involved were the Cruz sisters in designing the collection?

SARAH: We shot Mónica in April of 2012, and since then, we have been working closely together. This is not a collaboration where somebody else designs it and they just put their name on it. Penélope and Mónica have been actively involved in the creation of this line and have spent a fair share of time with me in London, conceiving ideas and looking through our archives.

We were three girls working together, having a giggle and designing what we want women to wear. It’s been really sweet because I was pregnant at the time, and then Mónica became pregnant, and then Penélope became pregnant. At one point, we were all pregnant. I had my “King George” nine months ago.

Sister, Sister: Penélope and Mónica have previously collaborated with two Spanish brands: Loewe, on a handbag line, and MANGO, on several clothing collections (photo by Mert and Marcus)

THE THREAD: L’Agent features 15 styles that range from bra and brief sets to basques and babydolls. How hard was it to narrow down the selection?

SARAH: It was really hard! We knew from the start that this would be an ongoing partnership [expected to last at least five years], so for some styles, we were like “That’s great for next season or the season after that.” I suppose for this launch collection, we had to design something that would have mass appeal. I think when you watch the campaign video that Penélope directed, you’ll see lots of different types of women, personalities and lifestyles, who are wearing lots of different types of lingerie.

Practical Panties: The Cruz sisters set out to design a range of lingerie that women could wear every day, and they gave each piece a Spanish woman’s name. Clockwise: ‘Isi’ Quarter Cup Bra & Low Rise Thong‘Zanita’ Bra & Thong and ‘Penélope’ Underwire Balcony Bra, Waspie & Brief

THE THREAD: How important is lingerie for the fashion-conscious woman?

SARAH: Lingerie is really important to women worldwide. It’s unbelievable, the trends in lingerie right now. When I started with AP 14 years ago, women were still a bit afraid of edgy, out-there lingerie, but not anymore. It’s almost like in the ’40s and ’50s. Women wore great lingerie because their dresses wouldn’t fit properly if they didn’t. Women who wanted a tiny waist and a pointy chest would wear underwear that created that effect.

I think the modern woman now knows that it’s important to have lingerie for different occasions and for different outfits. We all know it’s really important that, if you’re going to play sports, you wear a sports bra. I think we are more aware of creating a lingerie wardrobe today, especially after the book 50 Shades of Grey (which mentions the brand).

In the Director’s Chair: To celebrate the launch of L’Agent, Penélope makes her directorial debut in a film starring her husband, Javier Bardem (center), model Irina Shayk, and her sister Mónica, who was pregnant at the time

THE THREAD: What inspired Penélope to direct the campaign video?

SARAH: The video is something that Penélope really wanted to do. She was like “I haven’t directed anything before. I really want to direct my first piece for the L’Agent launch.” Penélope had an idea of a party, and I think she’d been dreaming about it for ages. I’ve never seen anyone work so hard. She was literally outlining the direction of the film non-stop—and pregnant at the same time! A lot of her friends and family were involved. It’s a very special piece with a funny little message at the end.

Spanish Style: The Madrid-born design duo wanted the collection to have an alluring Spanish point of view. L to R: ‘Rosalyn’ Quarter Cup Bra & Thong, ‘Mónica’ Bra & Tanga & ‘Penélope’ Underwire Balcony Bra

THE THREAD: Music and film have been cited as outlets for your design inspiration. Were there any films or characters played by Penélope that you felt came alive in the collection?

SARAH: It’s funny, because when we were working on this collection, they wanted the line to have a very Spanish feel, even in the colors they were thinking of—like red flamenco. Obviously, I love Penélope. She’s such a great actress and has played so many different types of characters. I would say there’s a lot of Volver in the line. She’s very sexy and voluptuous in that film, which is very L’Agent. There are also some aspects of her fiery character in the film Blow with Johnny Depp. She had a really strong attitude in that movie, and you can feel that in the bold and sassy pieces of the line.

Enchant. Entice. Empower. Transform in L’Agent.

Qianna Smith