LOOK, UP IN THE SKY: For the designer Peyman Umay, a touristy trip to the Empire State Building with his father led to a new peak in his career: designing the uniforms for staffers there. Those who trek to the top of the Art Deco building will see his four-piece creations on its Observatory hosts. The redesign is part of a $165 million overhaul of the Observatory Experience.
To mark the occasion, the Turkish-born designer, who is also an American citizen, attended a kickoff event Tuesday atop the 1,454-foot skyscraper. The celebration included hitting the switch atop the Empire State Building to “Empire steel Gray” and “City View Blue” (think royal blue). In total, he has suited up 140 employees including those who photograph tourists and gift shop workers.
Three years ago when his father was visiting New York City from his home in Turkey, they took a tour of the iconic building with a friend who worked there. The New York-based menswear designer felt the uniforms worn by staffers did not reflect the building’s “unalterable identity.” After voicing that opinion, he suggested alternatives, creating sketches and swatches for potential replacements. That plan was shelved during the pandemic. But when a new vice president of operations was installed at the Empire State Building, Umay’s design concept was refreshed.
The designer reached out to the building’s president to relay what he had in mind: an of-the-moment interpretation of the “true soul of the building” versus rehashing the past. All of the functional designs are handmade, the buttons are lasered and collars are detachable to simplify cleaning them. “Every single detail reflects the building inside and out [as in the uniforms’ red lining is reflective of the interior of the walls],” Umay said. Motifs of gold cogs and wheels in the jackets and vests are a wink at the Fifth Avenue lobby’s restored 23-carat gold ceiling,
Having run his signature business for 11 years, Umay also offers women’s designs from his penthouse showroom in the landmark Bryant Park Studios at 80 West 40th Street. He will appear as a judge on an upcoming makeover show on TV that he was not at liberty to discuss. Umay is also in the running to design uniforms for an international airline. For now, he is reveling in the Empire State Building feat. “This was a dreamy journey. It just feels right. It was a most organic alignment between two brands. It was like this was destined to happen,” Umay said. “After 15 years, they changed the uniforms. I don’t believe in coincidences. I moved to the United States 15 years ago.”
Flicking through photos of the 30 objects competing for the next Loewe Foundation Craft Prize, it’s often difficult to decipher the end use, the material employed — and in some cases, if one might be looking at living, organic compounds.
Unexpected forms and a “sense of playfulness and surprise” characterize many of the entries for the 2023 edition, which encompass ceramics, woodworking, textiles, furniture, paper, basket-making, glass, metal, jewelry lacquer, leather and bookbinding.
A panel of experts whittled down the finalists from 2,700 entries from 117 different countries.
Anatxu Zabalbeascoa, a design journalist and executive secretary of the experts panel, said, “We are happy to have been able to further expose the notion of craft with artistic ambition by analyzing non-western canon aesthetics as well as by approaching figurative craft.”
The winner, who receives 50,000 euros, is to be revealed on May 16 at The Noguchi Museum in New York. All 30 shortlisted works will go on display in Isamu Noguchi’s studio from May 17 until June 18.
Among the 13 jury members who will select the prize are Abraham Thomas, curator of modern architecture, design and decorative arts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; architects Benedetta Tagliabue, Patricia Urquiola and Wang Shu; ceramicist Magdalene Odundo, and Olivier Gabet, director of the art department at the Louvre Museum.
Established in 2016, the annual craft prize is the brainchild of Loewe creative director Jonathan Anderson and is a tribute to the Spanish house’s roots as a collective craft workshop in 1846.
Anderson has long been a fan of craft, and the prize exalts “excellence, artistic merit and innovation in modern craftsmanship,” according to Loewe.
In previous years, the prize ceremony has been held at the Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos de Madrid, The Design Museum in London and the Sogetsu Kaikan in Tokyo. During the pandemic, one edition was held digitally in a joint presentation with Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and at the Seoul Museum of Craft Art.
This sixth edition offers examples of time-intensive techniques, skillful manipulation of materials and the surprise of trompe l’oeil.
“Many of the works presented in this year’s shortlist also examine the relationship between light, material and surface, with an expert handling of materials and form used to transform the reflective properties of the works and to create a sense of movement,” Loewe noted.
LIM’S NEW YORK TRIBUTE: To celebrate New York Fashion Week, Phillip Lim is opening the doors of an immersive gallery experience, “A New York City Vibration,” to the public at the Lower East Side’s 199 Chrystie Street this weekend. The pop-up gallery serves as Lim’s second chapter of the brand’s overarching ode to New York City titled “Someday, Somehow, Somewhere,” which began within his pre-fall collection and is expanding into fall 2023.
“The last several collections have been an ode to New York. The goal is to show potentially in September, but until then, I want to do a stream of events that really are rooted in what is quintessential New York — thinking about what is New York, what’s special about it,” Lim told WWD about his decision to create a community-driven gallery boasting creative partnerships and collaborations.
“Let’s take what we do, but not have the clothes front and center and instead invite an artist that’s not from the fashion world to take the liberties and lens it in a way that they would see through their eyes as context to New York City, hence the name of the activation. For me, I’m always trying to look for new angles — selfishly to inspire myself, because it’s dangerous right now as we get back into doing the same old things of putting out collections — so I wanted to do an event that felt experimental.”
To lens the fall collection (which will be featured within the space through a collaged series of printed photographs and an immersive video projection anchored by large-scale prints), Lim tapped Japanese New York-based photographer Jiro Konami, whose works span from portrait studies to cityscapes with bright light flares and hues. “Konami’s collaboration with 3.1 Phillip Lim will showcase humanity, atmospheric elements and a distillation of the essence of the New York spirit — an immersive, emotional visual display,” a statement from the brand said.
“Jiro is an amazing photographer who I have wanted to work with forever. He captures really ephemeral moments of the city he calls home, which is perfect, because what we’re trying to do, too, is search for that vibration or new ideas and tension to bring out new conversations. I’m handing the collection over to him, he’s going to lens it and has 100 percent liberty,” Lim explained, adding the projection will feature a custom soundtrack of New York City-centric sounds “digitized into contemporary ambience” by Brooklyn-based producer Jon Jung of IT-XPO.
The activation will begin Friday evening with a private viewing for the brand’s community, VIP and media, followed by a public opening Saturday through Sunday (with exhibition details slated to launch on the brand’s website Thursday). The weekend event is presented in partnership with Farfetch Group’s Farfetch Platform Solutions, which has been Lim’s technology partner to power his brand’s e-commerce, digital marketing and global operations since 2019, as well as Seedlip, Johnnie Walker and Tanqueray.
“When most people think of Farfetch.com, it’s for the Marketplace, but we also have this b-to-b business unit, which is Farfetch Platform Solutions, where we take our platform we’ve built for the marketplace and white label it out for brands and retailers. Phillip Lim has always been a great partner of ours — it was about taking what they had built for the U.S. market and growing that international presence with our global logistics and looking at us as thought partners for how we expand that relationship,” Kelly Kowal, chief platform officer of Farfetch, told WWD.
“For us, this event was a way to express the partnership of how we work together. We’ve been long-standing partners and it really is bringing experience to real life. The way they think about their customer base — how they give a global experience in-store and online — so it made sense for us to do something together in this event space of bringing that technical and digital together in real life.”
Lim said the event certainly is not “a soulless marketing activation,” but rather a way to bring his community, as well as new demographics of people and partnerships, together while “cementing and confirming why we love to live here and are proud to be a NYC brand.” — EMILY MERCER
STAPLE HITS THE ICE: Staple and the New York Rangers are teaming up again for a capsule collection.
The streetwear brand and NHL team have joined forces for their second collaboration to highlight New York City bodegas and the team’s mantra of “No Quit in New York.” The capsule collection includes apparel like T-shirts, hoodies, polos, crewnecks, bomber jackets and accessories.
“New York City is world-renowned for its ‘no quit’ mindset,” said Staple founder Jeff Staple. “This has influenced its sports teams, my own Staple brand and even icons like your local bodegas. We all hustle 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We wanted to bring that same boundless energy to our second collaboration with the legendary New York Rangers and celebrate two of New York City’s classic institutions. It’s an honor to work with my hometown team to create this special collection.”
The collection looked to New York City bodegas by taking inspiration from “bodega essentials” like ATMs, neon signs, flower bouquets and bags of ice. The pieces also incorporate the Rangers’ team colors of red, white and blue.
New York Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller served as a creative consultant for the collection, working with Staple to design a custom T-shirt and jacket.
“Feeding off the success of last year’s collaboration, we are excited to partner with Staple on an even bigger and better collection this season,” said David Hopkinson, president and chief operating officer at Madison Square Garden Sports Corp. “We are consistently looking for ways to elevate our merchandise beyond traditional sports apparel, and Staple’s unique designs and strong history within the streetwear industry make this partnership a perfect fit.”
The Staple x The New York Rangers collection, which is presented by Chase, will be available starting Friday at Madison Square Garden and its website. Prices range from $45 to $150. — LAYLA ILCHI
NEW ROLE: Suzanne Anderson has been named president of Kerri Rosenthal, a luxury lifestyle brand that spans art, home decor, fashion apparel and accessories all derived from Rosenthal’s colorful and original art.
She succeeds Amanda Elias, who left the company.
In this role, Anderson will be charged with expanding the Kerri Rosenthal brand nationally and internationally through existing and new distribution channels and introducing the brand to a larger, wider community.
Anderson will be based at the company’s new corporate office in Westport, Connecticut.
Most recently, Anderson was vice president of design at Macy’s for ready-to-wear, men’s and kids’ private bands. Earlier, she was creative director at Peerless Clothing, where she spent 13 years driving the creative strategy across licensed and house brands.
“As the Kerri Rosenthal brand continues to grow, we believe that Suzanne will build upon our well-established DNA and prepare us for extensive growth,” said Kerri Rosenthal, founder and chief creative officer.
Anderson, who reports to Rosenthal, added: “I am excited to join a luxury brand that translates Kerri’s vivid art into fashion apparel and products for the home. The collection has a very elevated, sophisticated and unique beauty which I believe is missing in the market. The opportunities for growth are endless and I am excited to start this journey.”
Rosenthal’s brand has experienced rapid growth over the last six years, which included the opening of its flagship in Westport, featuring original paintings and home and apparel products as well as a selection of third-party items.
Rosenthal’s products are now available in more than 200 doors across the U.S. and Canada. Last November, the brand launched Kerri Rosenthal x Aqua, available in all Bloomingdale’s doors and online. Other collaborations in 2022 included Kerri Rosenthal x Roller Rabbit, Kerri Rosenthal x Spiritual Gangster and Kerri Rosenthal x Stripe & Stare.
The brand recently introduced a new tabletop collection, plans to open additional U.S. retail locations and is focused on adding categories within its art space. — LISA LOCKWOOD
AG may be based in California, but it’s New York that informs the fall collection.
The premium denim and lifestyle brand offered classic Americana staples with an East Coast sensibility for the men’s and women’s offering this season. Collegiate references were evident in striped long-sleeve polos, plaid flight jackets and slightly oversize wide-wale corduroy pants and shackets — all updated through modern fits and a classic fall color palette.
John Rossell, head of marketing and creative direction for the Los Angeles-based brand, pointed to the “utilitarian vibe” that ran through the collection: a men’s jacket with zippers on the chest, dark denim jeans that looked “well worn,” a canvas jacket with a zip-out vest for men, a patch pocket denim safari jacket, and a long coat with deep pockets and a line of buttons down the front that could double as a dress for women.
There was a lot of dressing up and dressing down in the collection, including leggings with a slit on the ankle so they could be worn with heels, as well as a wool-blend blazer for women. There was also a new women’s denim jacket silhouette with a drop shoulder that offered up a ‘70s sportswear feel.
For the holiday drop, AG showed a tailored collection that still spoke to its roots — but in a dressier way. Dark denim miniskirts and vests over a silk button-down shirt or a flowy wraparound silk dress would work well at any party, while a five-pocket pant in suiting fabric or a new suit silhouette with a three-button blazer and pleated trouser with a shorter inseam would be appropriate for men.
All told, AG hit the mark on elevating its wardrobe staples reimagined with a city sensibility.