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Spring 2023 Trend: Textures

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Rich textures, including feathers, fringes, tassels, ruching and even tinsel brought tactile delight to the spring 2023 fashion collections.

Once just a playful hemline favorite, fringes were elongated and used in allover styles.

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Designer Kei Ninomiya for his “mystic force” Noir spring collection took tactile fabrics to whole new level with the use of ethereal feathers, mesh plastic tubes and a variety of ruched fabrics. “There were flurries of mesh tubes sprouting from under a cropped jacket; black flowers sprouting up and down from articulated stems attached to a corset that cinched a slimline coat; all manners of materials ruched, teased and curled into shapes not quite of our reality,” said WWD’s Lily Templeton in her review of the show.

For her debut on the Paris runway, Victoria Beckham presented a collection full of tactile embellishments, such as fringes and tassels, including clutches that made “models look as if they were carrying mop dogs,” wrote WWD west coast executive editor Booth Moore in her review. “The fringe fest continued on a black pointelle knit bodysuit and stirrup pants with a shimmying miniskirt, and on knit dresses with asymmetrical draped rows of the stuff.”

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Jason Wu played with tinsel embellishments for his high-glam spring collection. “I’m a fancy girl and I love a gown,” the designer told WWD’s fashion market editor Emily Mercer. “There were gathered tulle versions, ultrafun swishy tinsel frocks, a standout assortment of sequin-emblazoned netted numbers and a handful of signature red carpet moire fare,” Mercer wrote in her review.

New York-based brand Bronx & Banco presented perfectly executed silk long fringe dresses and tops, while flat plastic fringes gave the Sportmax collection retro-futuristic vibes.

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Undercover’s finale looks, four bulbous minidresses, presented yet another modern take on texture. “If you blurred your eyes, you might say they resembled a scarred tomato; a crumple of colored tin foil; a dandelion pappus dyed blue, and a rotting pumpkin,” wrote WWD’s international editor Miles Socha wrote in his review of the brand’s return to the Paris runways.

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Alivia Celebrates World Down Syndrome Day With GiGi’s Playhouse NYC

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Instead of a one-and-done approach to fostering inclusivity, as some brands have been known to do, the contemporary sportswear company Alivia relies on creatives with disabilities for artistic inspiration on an ongoing basis.

For its latest initiative, the New York-based company has partnered with the nonprofit GiGi’s Playhouse NYC for its spring collection. The organization strives for acceptance for all and offers programming for families with children with Down syndrome. In honor of World Down Syndrome Day on Tuesday, Alivia is debuting printed and embroidered designs that were inspired by the artwork of 27-year-old Stephanie Portoviejo, who has honed her skills through GiGi Playhouse.

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By raising awareness about Down’s syndrome, Alivia founder Jovana Mullins aims to create greater acceptance. Approximately one in every 772 babies in the U.S. is born with Down syndrome, making it the most common chromosomal condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 5,100 babies are born with Down syndrome in the U.S. annually. A condition, not a disease, Down syndrome is named for the English physician John Langdon Down, who characterized the condition in 1866.

Recent advancements in clinical treatment, namely corrective heart surgeries, is helping to extend the lives of adults with Down syndrome. With as many as 80 percent reaching the age of 60, the need for greater acceptance and professional opportunities continues to exist.

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RELATED: VS Collective Taps Sofía Jirau, the First Model With Down Syndrome to Represent the Brand

Introduced in 2006 and observed by the United Nations since 2013, World Down Syndrome Day is held annually on March 21. The date was chosen to signify the uniqueness of the triplication of the 21st chromosome, which leads to Down syndrome. This year’s theme is “With Us Not For Us.”

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That message of inclusivity is one that Mullins is on board with. While volunteering for an art therapy program for people with disabilities six years ago, Mullins said she recognized how art therapy empowered people and gave them a greater sense of purpose. She has worked as a designer specializing in prints at such firms as Matthew Williamson, Alice + Olivia, Coach, Sam Edelman and other contemporary sportswear brands. In 2020, she launched Alivia based on the practice of partnering with a different nonprofit and designer with disabilities each season. The alliance with GiGi’s Playhouse marks the first time that the company is working with artists who have Down syndrome.

“I always felt that fashion was so much more than the glamour and the materialistic side. Fashion has such a power to enable confidence and it is a form of expression,” she said.

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Although more companies increasingly focused on inclusivity and diversity, Mullins said, “There is still a huge lack of representation especially within fashion of people with disabilities.”

For the rest of this year, Alivia plans to work with five more artists with Down syndrome who are affiliated with GiGi’s Playhouse. As is the case with Portoviejo’s designs, and any future products incorporating her work, Alivia plans to donate 10 percent of all product sales that use the talents of artists from GiGi’s Playhouse to the organization. Each of their designs feature a scannable tag that highlights the person behind the design and the impact that the purchase makes. Each garment has a hangtag with an image of the artwork that was used as a starting point. Just as a contracted print designer would be reimbursed, each artist is paid upfront.

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Having expanded beyond direct-to-consumer to wholesale in 2021 with small boutiques, Alivia has built upon that and will be offered in about 50 specialty stores nationwide including Neiman Marcus this year. Given that, the brand’s six-digit annual sales are expected to increase substantially, according to Mullins.

Shaking the stereotypes that some mistakenly label people with Down syndrome is one objective of the spring initiative. “I see them as I would see anyone else. A lot of times people may [mistakenly] assume that if you look different or talk different, that means you’re not as smart or capable. But just like any neuro-typical person, people with Down syndrome have so many capabilities, incredible skills and creativity,” Mullins said.

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Her hope is that more people will look at people with Down syndrome as they would anyone else. “If you have ever met anyone with Down syndrome, you know how much joy and love they have. They are so unique and full of life. We have so much to learn from them,” said Mullins, who raved about the models at the recent runway show hosted by GiGi’s Playhouse before an audience of a couple hundred people.

Last year, the Puerto Rican-born Sofia Jirau became the first model with Down syndrome to front a Victoria’s Secret campaign for its Love Cloud Collection. Another model with Down syndrome Madeline Stuart has also helped to break barriers by modeling in runway shows in New York, Paris and other countries.

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Another fashion-related program that is designed to raise awareness about World Down Syndrome Day is the “Lots of Socks” campaign. The idea is for people to wear colorful, attention-getting or mismatched socks to prompt conversations about why they are being worn. That is meant to be a springboard into a discussion about Down syndrome.

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Prada Group Debuts Forestami Academy

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GREEN CULTURE: The Prada Group’s commitment to building a sustainable future are trickling down to socially charged projects as the company strengthens its ties with the Milan-based tree plantation initiative Forestami to debut the “Forestami Academy.”

Last year, the luxury group had revealed a partnership with the program spearheaded by Milan’s municipality, the Lombardy region, and other territorial entities to plant 3 million trees in the city by 2030 and help safeguard its natural environment.

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Now Prada is adding an educational component to the project, pledging the organization of workshops, panels and outdoor activities over three years geared at educating citizens on urban forestation.

“Urban reforestation is at the center of international debate and is particularly relevant for Milan, a city that wants and has to offer more and more greenery. In addition to supporting the Forestami project as a whole, the Prada Group has decided to launch the Forestami Academy, a series of workshops dedicated to all citizens offering educational opportunities on these topics,” said Lorenzo Bertelli, Prada Group’s head of corporate social responsibility and an advocate of the project.

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“As a group, we have always valued education and promoting culture and we are sure that the deep knowledge of the Italian and international speakers will be a great source of inspiration for attending audiences,” he said.

Lectures and workshops in the first year will focus on “Knowing Forests and Where They Grow,” held by British Columbia University professor Cecil Konijnendijk, FAO member and professor Simone Borelli and representatives from the Netherlands-based Delft University of Technology. The outdoor portion of the program is to be spearheaded by Giorgio Vacchiano, associate professor of the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at Milan’s Università Statale.

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Interested citizens can apply starting Tuesday and until April 21 on a dedicated website.

In 2024, the courses will center on “Urban Forestry: Well-being and Health,” while in 2025 they will focus on the subject “Plants and Their Presence in Cities.”

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Forestami Academy is not the first educational program jumpstarted by the Prada Group.

Last year, it wrapped the second edition of its Sea Beyond project, a partnership between the group and UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission composed of three main initiatives: an educational module for students all over the world, the launch of the Kindergarten of the Lagoon — a program of outdoor lessons for children in preschool — and an educational path specifically designed for the more than 13,000 employees of the company.

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EXCLUSIVE: Dior Promotes Olivier Bialobos to Deputy Managing Director

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Underscoring the crucial role of creative events and unique storytelling in the luxury sector, Dior has promoted its longtime communications executive Olivier Bialobos to deputy managing director in charge of global communication and image, WWD has learned.

It’s a new role reporting to Delphine Arnault, who in February moved over from Louis Vuitton to become chairman and chief executive officer of Christian Dior Couture.

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“I am delighted to be able to rely on Olivier’s great talent, expertise and commitment to accompany the house of Dior and its development in the coming years,” Arnault said in an internal announcement shared exclusively with WWD.

A 17-year veteran of the French fashion firm, Bialobos most recently served as One Dior chief communication and image officer, with oversight of the French house’s fashion and beauty activities.

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Before that, his title was chief communication and image officer of Christian Dior Couture.

“For many years, Olivier has made an essential contribution to the image of Dior, notably through exceptional fashion shows, exhibitions and global events,” added Charles Delapalme, managing director of Christian Dior Couture.

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Delapalme went on to call Bialobos “one of the strong pillars of the house.”

It is understood Bialobos will continue to have purview over all categories, from fashion and jewelry to beauty, to cultivate coherence across all brand expressions. For beauty matters, he reports to Véronique Courtois, who recently took the helm of Parfums Christian Dior.

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Bialobos joined Dior in 2006 to head up the brand’s global communications effort, and nimbly shaped and shepherded the house image amid a succession of creative directors and CEOs. Early in his tenure he established Dior Héritage, the archive that allowed the brand to mount multiple exhibitions worldwide, and helped create its permanent Galerie Dior, a museum attached to the revamped 30 Avenue Montaigne flagship.

According to sources, the museum attracted more than 400,000 visitors in its first year of operation.

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Meanwhile, the “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams” showcase has logged successful runs in Paris, New York, London, Dallas, Shanghai and Chengdu, China, and is now on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo.

Bialobos also lent his creative touch to innumerable Dior events, from its gingerbread-themed takeover of Harrods late last year to the pre-fall men’s show last December against a backdrop of the pyramids of Giza near Cairo.

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He also launched the in-house Dior Magazine, which just published its 41st issue. It includes a feature and photo shoot with its jewelry ambassador Elizabeth Debicki.

Over the past five years, Bialobos quietly headed up the Dior Maison business unit, dreaming up table displays to outshine state or royal dinners, and unfurling high-profile collaborations with the likes of Philippe Starck, who last year put his inimitable spin on the maison’s signature medallion chair. He will continue in that capacity as well.

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A popular and dapper figure on the French fashion scene, Bialobos started his career in communications at Escada, going on to become director of the KCD agency in Paris and spearheading the fashion and beauty communications strategy for Yves Saint Laurent alongside Tom Ford.

He went on to become director of press and international public relations at YSL, his last job before joining Dior.

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