When the brand is all about you: the 3 designers we love
((partnership with Mercedes-Benz #mbcollective) What do you see when you close your eyes and think about a collection you like? The logo of the house? A certain atmosphere, a mix of texture, shapes and sounds? Or, maybe, the figure of the cool designer is popping into your mind? And it’s normal to see that, as well as, in some particular cases, the designers are the brands. With all their unique style, innovative ideas and exceptional design.
Let’s meet powerful voices that inspire all generations. And represent, with all proud and love, their brands: Stella McCartney, Isabel Marant, Miuccia Prada.
The activist: Stella McCartney
No leather. No furs. Sharp tailoring, with a feminine edge. Sports involved. Well, of course, you know that already that we’re talking about Stella McCartney, the designer and owner of the fashion house that carries her name. Following in the footsteps of her mother Linda, Stella McCartney is a supporter of animal rights and a strict vegetarian – she refuses to use leather or fur in any of her designs. Instead, her shoes are made of vinyl or plastic and all belts and bags are made from raffia and fabric. “The animal life has been so cheapened in the world we live in. A piece of organic nylon recycled from plastic bottles found in the middle of the ocean is probably double the price of a dead animal, and that is astonishing”, Stella McCartney said in an interview for W magazine.
But, of course, as Stella admitted, to be the daughter of one of Beatles has helped to stick to her decision to make sustainable fashion, in the world of fast-consuming market. And to have a solid ground to start with (Paul and Linda raised their children to an organic farm in Sussex). “The beliefs I was raised with – to respect animals and to be aware of nature, to understand that we share this planet with other creatures – have had a huge impact on me”, Stella said.
Stella presented her graduation collection at Central Saint Martins (with her friend Kate Moss modelling for her). After that, she was appointed creative director of Parisian fashion house Chloé (for Spring 2001collection she included many garments printed with images of horses, in a tribute to her mother’s love of riding). In 2001, Stella McCartney developed her own luxury brand label and decided to putt her animal-rights beliefs into practice. Therefore, the Stella McCartney brand does not use leather or fur in its clothing or accessories. Citing the statistic that 50 million animals are killed every year for bags and shoes, McCartney instead directs her company to find or develop new eco-friendly materials like faux leathers. The brand also uses as much organic cotton as possible in its collections.
McCartney has filmed anti-fur and anti-leather public service announcements for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals; her business has also extended its reach by supporting charities like World Wildlife Fund, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and AnimalsAsia. In 2009 McCartney was recognized for her support of environmental causes by the Natural Resources Defence Council. She has also been named the first-ever Green Designer of the Year by the Accessories Council.
The inventor of trends: Miuccia Prada
“You have to put more of yourself out there”, Miuccia Prada said, recently, in an interview for prestigious Business of Fashion. And she did it, all her career. Miuccia Prada is a visionary designer, an art curator, film producer, an architect and a feminist. And a designer who’s ideas are rapidly embraced (and copied in a second) but all the brands and all the consumers all over the world. Her collections are, every season, striking, unconventional, a little bit “off the fashion piste right now” and every one of the runways put together old and new, beautiful and ugly (after all, Prada added the “ugly chic” phrase to the fashion lexicon!). And guess what?! The next season, everybody would do the same because, while some designers are seekers of trends, Prada actually is the trend. Just remember: the banana motifs, the fired-up stiletto, the turban, the pyjamas trend, the geometrical crazy pattern on suits, the funky bags, candy suits, the sport socks combined with sandals and dresses…
“When I started, fashion was the worst place to be if you were a leftist feminist. It was horrid. I had a prejudice, yes, I always had a problem with it,” Miuccia Prada said for the New York Times. “I suppose I felt guilty not to be doing something more important, more political. So in a way I am trying to use the company for these other activities.”And Miuccia Prada is restless. She reimagined trends, she put clothes on the runway not even caring what the pieces would say about her or the fashion house, she reinvented ugly items and she supported a lot of artistic projects, from movies to art (Fondazione Prada, established in 1995, or documentaries).
Unless other designers, Miuccia has a degree in Politics (and she trained as a mime, and she performed at La Scala) but, when her grandfather has established one of the most reicognoscible brands in Italian fashion history… she couldn’t stay away. In 1978, she designed a black nylon rucksack that would later take the world by storm. In 1988, Prada introduced womenswear for the first time, before launching the Miu Miu label in 1993. In 1994, Prada expanded into menswear. With her husband, Patrizio Bertelli (initially a competitor for her, with his company), Miuccia Prada transformed Prada from being a much-admired, eccentric retailer of luxury goods into a contemporary design powerhouse with sales of billions.
And that’s not all. The latest project of the Italian house is a continuous visual data stream,” Prada365, a multi-platform endeavour that embraces everything from print media to the entire warp and woof of the internet, from magazine ad to Instagram post. Guess what’s going to be in trend next year?
The French icon: Isabel Marant
She is tall, slim and smiling: Isabel Marant is the synonym of the cool Parisienne je ne sais quoi mood. And a proud representative of her own brand, an icon of the French fashion contemporary style. And that is happening even she says… ”I hate the idea of having an icon – I find it too restrictive, that’s the beauty of a woman, it’s more about character”. But what make Isabel Marant so cool, what does women everywhere want to be like her? To dress like her, in the herringbone-wool oversize blazer, grey cotton, embroidered denim and street-ready wedge-heel sneakers?
Isabel Marant said she never intended to become a designer. She was born in Paris in 1967 to a French father who worked in advertising and a German mother who was a model and later a director of the Elite model agency. Her parents divorced when she was six and Marant went “very rebellious”. She started restyling her parents’ clothes – dressing gowns, check slippers, old sweaters – and discovered her friends liked what she was making. At 17, she began to sell her designs to a local shop. Then she did a degree at the Studio Bercot fashion school. In 1995, she showed her first collection at Paris fashion week, using friends as models. And her style become instantly reicognoscible: a skinny, leggy silhouette, feminine but grounded by the masculine, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll, a little bit global traveller, simple but not very minimalist.
From this moment on, her brand went all the way up. Her clothes, a combination of androgynous chic and bohemian nonchalance, have been worn for years by in-the-know magazine editors and celebrities including Sienna Miller, Victoria Beckham and Alexa Chung. Since the establishment of her label in 1994, her sales have increased 30% each year – quite a achievement in the world of fashion. “It’s true that I am my own muse. I don’t like this word but when I studied fashion at Studio Berçot [the Paris fashion college] the director said, “You shouldn’t want others to wear things that you won’t wear yourself,” and that’s something that never left me”, Isabel Marant said.
“I’m very boyish and I can be very feminine at the same time. I like contrasting things. I don’t like it when things are perfect; I like imperfection. I like sexiness, but I don’t like the first degree of it—the overly sexy, which, for me, is very vulgar”, she used to say. “I’m inspired by the beauty of what human beings are able to achieve.”
Mercedes-Benz Fashion engagement
Mercedes-Benz stands for a unique style, innovative ideas and exceptional design. For the last 20 years, Mercedes-Benz become an active partner of the fashion industry, from organising Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week to projects developed together with designers and initiatives that support this global fashion engagement of Mercedes-Benz – “Just a perfect combination”.
The demands on fashion and cars are very similar – making a decision to buy a particular type of car or a specific outfit defines the way in which we present ourselves. A trend-setting design therefore plays a central role both in fashion and the world of automobiles. Perfection, the impassioned power of innovation and distinctive style – that’s the link between Mercedes-Benz design and top-class fashion design.
#mbcollective is a group of creative people, influencers, celebrities and designers, that support Mercedes-Benz global engagement for fashion industry.
In 2018, #mbcollective becomes a global community. In the campaign #WeWonder, six personalities imagines the future in the elecrtic mode, starting from EQ of Mercedes-Benz.
Photography: Facebook pages of the brands