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Monthly Archives: April 2017

The Zany Sport Blazers

Jack Carlson,Age :30 Belmont, Mass.A one-bedroom apartment in Battery Park City with Keziah Beall, his girlfriend and business partner.

Claim to Fame:

Mr. Carlson is a former member of the United States national rowing team and the entrepreneur behind a budding rowing brand — first with a coffee-table book, “Rowing Blazers,” which chronicles the esoteric history of the colorful blazers worn by elite rowing clubs, and now with an upscale fashion label of the same name.

Big Break:

In 2010, as a doctoral student in archaeology at Oxford University, Mr. Carlson set out to publish an illustrated volume on the zany jackets worn for centuries by rowers. He didn’t know any publishers or agents, but he did have a network of rowing friends who were willing to model, including Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, who rowed for Harvard University

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He pitched the book to three publishers. Every one of them was interested, including Vendome, the publisher of art and illustrated books, which released the book in 2014. Another rowing friend introduced him to an executive at Ralph Lauren, which hosted parties for the book in London and New York.

Latest Project:

 In May, with the knowledge he accumulated for the book, Mr. Carlson started a clothing line called Rowing Blazers. The blazers, which sell for $550 to $1,095, were designed with academic rigor and inspired by his vintage collection. In a nod to a Dutch tradition, for example, some of the blazers have Latin phrases, like “forsan et haec,” stitched under the lapel.

If the manufacturer says that’s really not possible, those are the kind of moments I love the most, because it means probably no one else is doing it this way,” he said.

Interesting Than Gucci

By that point, Gucci fetishism had become parodic and comical. Alessandro Michele’s rebrand had infused the company with flamboyance, joie de vivre, whimsy and sass, but looking at some outfits suggested Ed Hardy’s sophisticated older cousin, Édouard.

Bally, by contrast, is buttoned-up, quiet, peacockish only in its deep inner core. It has been that way for years. Thanks to hip-hop, Bally was one of the first brands I coveted in the 1980s. There’s a guy I follow on Instagram who sells vintage sneakers and last year posted several gorgeous dead-stock pairs but, agonizingly, none in my size.

The 2000s have not been kind to the company, but I’ve sensed a quiet resuscitation in the last two years. Emphasis on quiet: I had to Google the name of its designer. (Beginning in 2014, it was Pablo Coppola, but he left in January; now there are three.) And it is still something of a global luxury footnote: Bally has 146,000 Instagram followers, less than 1 percent of Gucci’s 17.4 million.

Whether Bally is indeed >>> Gucci, of course, is up for debate. It’s also the sort of proclamation that makes a certain stripe of the social media ecosystem furrow its brow. Twitter encourages petty rumbles and deadens genuine dissent. Principled disagreement is so easily mistaken for provocation that it becomes easier, if you’re not inclined to howl, to not even bother whispering.

A new Bally flagship store opened at the beginning of the summer, however, providing an opportunity to assess the company anew by applying the rigorous science of shopping

Both were lovely to the touch and on the body. Neither was practical. More reasonable was a purple polo shirt with black and white trim ($310), with the B logo slanted at an angle so that if you squinted, you might see the tilted P of Palace Skateboards. (It was regal. I bought it.)

The women’s side wasn’t much different. The emphasis on scarves and purses and shoes was overwhelming, but also logical. I saw a sharp pair of soft-backed striped patent leather loafers ($675) that I recognized because Eva Chen had worn them on Instagram a few days earlier. (I’m not ashamed.)

It’s important to remember that Bally is Swiss, not Italian, or French, or British: Restraint is its métier, and any place in the store where it veered from that is where it suffered. I’ve long admired the company’s sneakers. One of my rare shopping regrets is not buying a pair of 1980s too-snug-but-what-the-hell navy low-top sneakers from the old Flight Club on Greene Street — and its basic high-top, with a crimson and beige stripe pattern, was smartly elegant ($495).

But when it strayed too far from purpose — I saw second- or thirdhand ideas from Valentino, Prada, Nike and, grotesquely, Giuseppe Zanotti — the charm faded.

In general, less is more here. Even when embellishment is the raison d’être of a certain piece, it’s done minimally. A few wallets were printed with illustrations from old company posters of a dapper half-man, half-shoe hybrid ($395 to $725). A set of leather goods was embroidered with a low-key space desert theme. By the women’s wallets were a set of luxe stickers ($50) designed to be applied to purses and wallets. I liked the pink heart shot through with a lightning bolt.

Overall, though, the energy of the store was in its refusal. Unlike other Madison Avenue flagships, it is modest, quietly certain of itself. The nods to flash in the clothing are slight, like the perma-popped collar on the windbreakers ($750). In places, Bally is still determining how far to let the pendulum swing: The in-store journal had an article about the intersection of casinos and style (sure) and one on the Guardian Angels (ummmmm).

Fahion Marc Jacobs

Speculation around Marc Jacobs and his brand has been at a fever pitch. The onetime crown prince of New York Fashion Week, creator of the most anticipated, most controversial show of each season, the one guaranteed to electrify the city and shore up its creative cred, beloved child of downtown, channeler of the moment, seemed to be teetering on a precipice.

In 2013, when Mr. Jacobs, then also artistic director of Louis Vuitton, left the French brand to focus on his own house — and Bernard Arnault, the LVMH chairman, spoke of an initial public offering, the one that would take Marc Jacobs-the-company out of the realm of niche and into the world of mega — he was still a hometown hero.

But the I.P.O. never materialized, rumors began to fester about problems in the business, and his retail kingdom on Bleecker Street shrank, and shrank again. A year ago at this time, he came under fire for cultural appropriation on the runway (remember the dreadlocks controversy?), and earlier this year Sebastian Suhl, his chief executive, left. Mr. Jacobs seemed, increasingly, peripheral to the conversation.

All of which is to say that his show, which was also the last of New York Fashion Week, was a lot more than just a show. It was a litmus test: of his continued relevance, which is deeply intertwined with New York’s relevance, and of his intentions.

So what color did the strip turn?

Every color of the rainbow. In a silent show held in the cavernous environs of the Park Avenue Armory, with the audience arrayed at the far edges of the space, the empty wood floor so vast that the people sitting across the way looked like little ants on their folding chairs, out came a stream of ideas and images, churned up and recombined, vivid and oversize.

It was not a breakthrough; many of the pieces referred to collections Mr. Jacobs had done before, which he acknowledged in his program notes, writing that the show was “the reimagining of seasons past somewhere beyond the urban landscape of New York City.” But it was a convincing staking of territory, a pointed reminder of exactly why this designer matters.

There were giant pantsuits in primary shades or 1960s tablecloth prints with exaggerated buttons; darling-are-you-here? sequined hostess gowns situated somewhere on the continuum between Gloria Swanson and “Grey Gardens”; and overblown cartoon-floral parkas with matching clown pants, bags and shoes. There were coats bristling collars and cuffs of sparkling luau fringe and ruffled cellophane boleros. There were tiny psychedelic-print silk minis worn with black tights and synthetic satin harem sweats paired with beaded macramé shells over bandeaus.

Everything was accessorized with a head scarf (a nod to Kate Moss’s 2009 Met Ball turban, designed by Mr. Jacobs), elbow-length gloves, a big duffel or flight bag and sometimes also a fanny pack, jeweled Birkenstocks or sport slides, and a light wash of irony.

The Designer Showing in Milan

Maya Rei Live In a minimalist apartment in the center of Tel Aviv that she designed and shares with her boyfriend.

Claim to Fame

Ms. Reik is the self-taught designer behind Marei 1998, an ultra-luxe fashion line based in Tel Aviv that includes Carolyn Bessette-esque silk sheath dresses and fur-trimmed robes that nod to the romantic Art Deco period of the 1930s. Started less than two years ago, the brand’s timeless design has been praised by Vogue magazine and will soon be carried by the upscale online boutique Moda Operandi. “We have customers that are 17, and we have customers that are 70 plus,” she said. “It is for every woman.”

At 14, she dropped out of high school (and dodged military service) to enlist in fashion history courses at Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art in Ramat Gan, Israel. (Notable alumni include the designer Alber Elbaz.) Between classes, she apprenticed at a handful of textile boutiques along Tel Aviv’s trendy Nahalat Binyamin Street. Three years later, at just 17, she had gained enough confidence to fly solo. “It seems funny to say, but I was mature enough to start a fashion house,” she said.

Latest Project

 Next week Marei 1998 will open its own online store. Ms. Reik said she wants her new site to feel like an open book. “It will be a fun online diary type of thing,” she said a few weeks before the e-commerce site went live. “ I am going to show how you can wear outfits to the office or an event. If the customer relates to a look I put on me, they can buy it.”

Next Thing: Ms. Reik will present her latest collection at Milan Fashion Week this month in the 154-year-old Grand Hotel et De Milan. “The windows and the floors of that hotel really inspire me,” she said. In October, she will showcase her historically minded pieces in New York.