March 27, 2013

The Ford Formula

When did Australian men become so stylish that the country is now home to two Tom Ford stores? Well, shop-in-shops to be official, but nonetheless, suiting wasn't big business five years ago, while at the turn of the millennium men were still stuck in the sartorial nonchalance of the nineties. Harrolds, Australia's bastion of good taste in menswear for a quarter of a century, has had a large hand in revolutionising the local industry, providing retail access to international brands otherwise unattainable and thus educating local men on the vast differences in quality. But far beyond this, the retailer - which boasts Sydney and Melbourne stores, both at over 1000sq metres - has elevated the shopping experience by making it a calm, gentlemanly pursuit, free of the chaos and disorder that so often beleaguers the larger department stores. In turn, men have quickly adapted to shopping being a leisure activity, rather than a necessity, and so it is that a year after opening within the Sydney store, Harrolds opens the door to a second Tom Ford shop-in-shop within its Melbourne store. 

Tom Ford, of course, needs no introduction. As one of the world's most respected fashion designers with a CV that spans stints at Saint Laurent and Gucci, the latter which he revolutionised from staid Italian leathergoods house to the high fashion world's sexiest brand, Mr Ford launched his namesake label, beginning with menswear, in 2006. As he told this journalist in a prior interview: "I was having my suits made on Savile Row but it was challenging to get them to do anything different - cut a lapel extra wide or give my jacket shoulder a bit of a roll. I realised that there was a big gap in the men's market and decided to start my own menswear business." Attention to detail, indeed. 

That same standard of quality is met by Mr Ford's local retail partner, Harrolds, alongside Harrods in London, Isetan in Tokyo and Bergdorf Gooman in New York, with the shop-in-shops designed by Mr Ford and his longtime architectural collaborator Bill Sofield. With this personal attention to detail, all shop fittings - cabinetry, carpentry and stone masonry - have been hand-crafted in Europe, with the company dispatching craftsmen to Australia to complete the installation. As they should. It's not every store that is finished with ebony and marble. And like Mr Ford's standalone stores int he northern hemisphere, Harrolds offers the full range of the designer's seasonal menswear collections: made-to-measure tailoring, ready-to-wear, leathergoods, shoes, accessories, eyewear and fragrance. Mr Ford's in-house master tailor, Antonio Blazevic, visits annually to personally fit Harrolds' clients. 

Story Mitchell Oakley Smith | Photography Paul Barbera

March 20, 2013

Grooming: Up/Down

Photography Bowen Arico | Grooming Kimberley Forbes

As winter draws near, it is important to maintain your skin's health as the cooler air can dry its natural oils. Mr Pestalozzi cleansed his skin with Giorgio Armani Cleanser Skin Minerals Men, a mineral-enriched cream foam, and followed it with an oil-free Dermalogica Active Moist moisturiser. Occasional use of an SK-II Treatment Mask soaks skin with Pitera's fusion of vitamins, amino acids, minerals and organic acids, providing intense hydration. The application of Ren Active 7 Radiant eye gel, available at Mecca Cosmetica, cools and refreshes the delicate eye area, reducing the appearance of puffiness and dark circles. 

Mr Pestalozzi used O&M Conquer Blonde Silver Shampoo to prevent his naturally blonde hair yellowing or dulling. Given the length of his hair, a Power Base Protein masque helps to restore broken strands with wheat protein. A Know Knott Detangling Spray, with its combination of Australian natives and argan and macademia oils, reconditions hair to leave it glossy and knot-free without adding heaviness to its texture. Using heat protectant Kevin Murphy Heated Defence, Mr Pestalozzi's hair was blow-dried and then straightened using a Cloud Nine straightening iron. A Mason Pearson brush gives hair extra sheen by evenly distributing natural oils, while regular haircuts stop hair from splitting. 

Nicolas Pestalozzi/EMG Models | Post Production Cara O'Dowd

New Direction

Aquila isn't typically associated with clothing, for since 1958 the Melbourne-based brand has designed, manufactured and sold footwear as its main business. Despite selling clothing throughout its network of 27 national stores, for the first time the brand has made a serious statement about its fashion offering with the release of its autumn/winter campaign and, with it, a broadsheet paper. Created in collaboration with creative agency The Vanguard, the Live Free campaign aims to communicate a spirit of freedom, tying in with the broadening of the brand's fashion offering in terms of colour palette and styles. "I wanted to put together interesting combinations to suggest to the Aquila man to be a bit more daring with his wardrobe choices," explains Manuscript fashion director Jolyon Mason, who styled the campaign. Aquila suiting is created from Australian Merino wool, with shirting produced with Egyptian long-staple cotton. Shoes, of course, remain at the forefront of the brand's offering, with the collection comprising Chelsea boots, classic brogues and desert boots. 

March 19, 2013

Jordan Luck for Crane Brothers

The winter 2013 campaign of New Zealand tailoring outfit Crane Brothers eschews the ordinary. Rather then employing a young male model - a man likely not to own a suit - the brand has photographed New Zealand rock musician Jordan Luck of Jordan Luck Band (and the first inductee to the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame), who carries off the collection effortlessly. "We chose Jordan because like so many of our clients he chooses to wear a suit rather than having to," explains founder Murray Crane. "Jordan is interesting, unconventional, dynamic, exciting and dangerous, qualities most men aspire to, even if they won't admit it." Wider lapels and strong lines define this collection, made from fine English cloths with the local climate in mind. 

March 18, 2013

Preview: Pageant

This Sunday evening, Melbourne-based designers Amanda Cumming and Kate Reynolds of Pageant will present their spring/summer 2014 collection at the L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival 'Independent Runway'. While the festival is typically employed as a platform to showcase autumn/winter collections - clothes currently in stores - Pageant is bucking the trend and showing ahead of its Sydney counterparts, who will show in a few weeks as part of Australian Fashion Week. Like previous collections, Pageant explores various iterations of male youth in this collection, but there's something even more quintessentially masculine about the garments here: terrycloth fabrics, block colours, bucket hats and black trimmings. The quirk that made Pageant so interesting to begin with is still evident - the Memphis-inspired colour palette is one indication - but the defining of the range is perhaps a result of the introduction of womenswear, which will debut alongside the men's collection on the weekend. For more information and tickets, click here

Introducing: Tony Ellwood

Photography Jo Duck | Story Mitchell Oakley Smith

In his role as director of the Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane, Tony Ellwood all but erased the perceived low cultural worth of the city with his programming of the gallery that saw it become a benchmark for Australian state institutions and, in 2010, outnumber the National Gallery of Victoria, the country’s largest and most historic gallery, with visitors. Surely then he is qualified to return to and run the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, where he previously served as deputy director until he took the top job in Brisbane. 

When we spoke in early November, Mr Ellwood had been in the director’s chair exactly 100 days, but his enthusiasm to have returned to Melbourne and for the gallery was palpable, even via phone. And while the sunshine state can’t rival the NGV in terms of its collection – 15,000, largely contemporary items in contrast to 75,000 items, the bulk of which are historic – his experience is amplified by ties to the Asia Pacific region and core strength in contemporary programming. As he says: “I’m transposing that learnt experience and applying it to this role.” 

Although his original position at the gallery – overseeing international art, education and public programs – came with significant responsibility, it was with thirst for the director’s chair that Mr Ellwood ventured north, having served as director of the Bendigo Art Gallery prior to this from 1996 to 1999. To have returned to his hometown and in such a position – arguably the highest of its kind in Australia – “is a blessing,” says Mr Ellwood. “I have missed it a lot. It feels like I’m back in a place I know very well, with a collection I love and in a city I love.” 

Despite his previous role proving a challenge, Mr Ellwood’s new role can be seen as his most ambitious yet, given its prominence. “I don’t think you can ever keep the entire arts community happy, though I’d like to try,” he concedes. “It’s much bigger down here, which makes it a much bigger job. It’s about being even-handed, but pushing weaknesses – contemporary art in this case – and being comfortable in taking informed risks.” Mr Ellwood acknowledges the continued development of the gallery’s historic collections as an outstanding strength and its embrace of family markets as an important development, but he wants to offer a broad interpretation of visual art “and not just traditional practices. We have oversimplified that at times, and we need to listen to the community.” 

In response, Mr Ellwood has simply had to look around him in the city he has returned to. “There is a lot more collaboration with contemporary art,” he says. “More diversity is apparent: performance, music, fashion, there are great synergies with visual art that I didn’t feel were so apparent five years ago.” So too does he notice the continued rise of street art in Melbourne, commenting on its gentrification. “There is nothing wrong with that,” he says, “it’s simply that it as an art form has been accepted by a broader public.” 

Mr Ellwood recently commissioned local street artist Miso to reimagine walls in the gallery’s cafĂ©, “which we probably wouldn’t have done a few years ago,” he adds. He is also inviting curators across departments to have a dialogue, promoting the cross-disciplinary practice he sees in the broader artistic community today. In the 19th century wing, for example, period shoes sit alongside great master portraits. “People can read that connection and it provides a greater context. I think it is a fresh way of showing our collection.”

Mr Ellwood photographed on 07 September 2012 at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

March 17, 2013

Man in the Mirror

The power of two proves beneficial for these aspiring fashion icons,

Photography Paul Scala | Styling Jolyon Mason | Grooming Sophie Roberts

In ancient mythology, twins were said to be particularly auspicious. When you consider the success of identical twin models Jordan and Zac Stenmark, such a myth seems to ring true. But successful as they may be, fate has little to do with it. 

Having grown up in Clifton Gardens on Sydney's north shore, Jordan and Zac were aware of fashion – indeed, their aunt, Susie Stenmark, was until recently the head of communications for Chanel’s Australian office – but it wasn’t on their radar as far as a career. Graduates from St Ignatius' College in 2010, the twins both enrolled to study a Bachelor of Agricultural Economics at Sydney University – a course that, it should be noted, typically requires a NSW score of around 80 – and, having only attended classes for a few months before beginning modeling fulltime, are both keen to complete the degree when time permits.

But despite their obvious zeal for and success modeling today, Messrs Stenmark were initially skeptical of making it. “We didn’t have a clue what would happen,” says Jordan of signing to Viviens Model Management’s Sydney division in early 2010 at the suggestion of a friend. “We went in wanting to do it part time for a bit of fun, to learn a bit about another industry. I don’t think either of us thought we would have done some of the things we have since then. It just wasn’t on our radar.”

Messrs Stenmark have, by and large, impressed the photographers they have since worked with, which today includes Bruce Weber and Terry Richardson. As Australian-born, London-based photographer Paul Scala, who shot the twins for this feature, says: “The unique thing about the Stenmark twins is the extra element they bring to the camera when they interact with one another.” It was Mr Scala’s first time shooting Messrs Stenmark, “but I now see what all the fuss is about. It goes beyond their big smiles and towering frames.”

“They’re twins, yes, but the fact that they are also so well-educated, disciplined and easy-going, [and thus] represent my clothes very well, is what makes them special,” says Italo Zucchelli, the creative director of menswear for Calvin Klein Collection, the upper-tier, runway line of the American fashion giant. For the brand’s fall 2012 and spring 2013 presentations at Milan Fashion Week, Mr Zucchelli booked Messrs Stenmark exclusively for his show – that is, they are forbidden to walk for any other designers, exponentially increasing the brands’ industry credibility for the market power that such arrangements wield – and since, has forged a strong relationship with the models that has seen them invited as guests to its special events, including one atop the Duomo in Milan, Italy, in 2012.

“We have always been open-minded to the situation we're in and approached [modeling] with the mindset that we had nothing to lose,” says Jordan. “Obviously we get nervous, but working [with one another] makes it easier.” That they are identical twins is, of course, part of the Stenmarks’ broad appeal to photographers and clients, for the rarity of having not one, but two genetically gifted men is certainly attractive. But aesthetics aside, the twins’ familial chemistry is evident in the ease with which they work together and positively impacts the images they create. “We grew up playing so much sport together and just know what the other is thinking, so there’s great chemistry before you even get on set,” explains Zac. “It’s great because you’re able to work with your brother and your best mate and have some really funny times while you’re at work.”

The average age and length of career of a high-end fashion model is not exactly an enticing prospect for those aspiring to enter the industry, and with the arduous hours and constant physical requirements, there is little wonder that many fizzle out after a few seasons on the runway circuit, whether out of physical or mental exhaustion. Messrs Stenmark concede that the challenges are many. “You come straight of school and thrown into the deep end, travelling and working around the clock,” says Jordan.

As a dual force, Messrs Stenmark have their sights set far beyond next season’s campaign, though if anyone’s asking, they’re keen to bag one with the likes of Tom Ford, Hermes or a skincare label. “We want to make this experience as beneficial as possible,” explains Zac of their plans in the industry. “At the same time, it’s about taking each thing as it comes and having fun with it, because it’s such a dynamic and ever-changing industry.” In terms of their longevity, however, there are whispers of moving beyond the photographic studio and into a role that allows them to show a little more of their own personalities. A talk show? Maybe not just yet, but with an extensive social media following – the pair took to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram early on, amassing a continually-growing following – it’s certainly not out of the question.

Explaining the use of social media, Zac says it was about delineating their private lives from their public profile. “So many people tried to contact us on Facebook after we started [modeling] and were interested in who we are and what we’re doing, so we thought if they’re interested, let’s give it to them, and it’s only gotten bigger and bigger.” Adds Jordan: “As much as people can see you in print, there are things that we’re personally passionate about and interested in, and I think this gives insight into who we are as people.”

As a result of their recent contract with modeling powerhouse IMG – both locally and in New York – Messrs Stenmark have been playing the social circuit, appearing at launch events, movie premieres and as ambassadors for various organisations. While in Sydney for the summer break, they attended the Australians in New York Fashion Foundation finalist event, having met its founder Malcolm Carfrae through their business relationship with Calvin Klein, where he serves as Vice President of Global Communications. This, they tell, is something they’re interested in helping promote. “We have been part of the industry a short time,” says Zac, “but if we can help anyone, like by supporting this program, then that’s great. We’re honoured to do so.”

Does modeling still give them the same thrill as it did on those first few test shoots? “Every day is different and as we do more and more it becomes easier and in some ways more fun,” says Jordan. “I’ve learnt so much about all of these cities and cultures at such a young age,” adds Zac, “and that’s really an incredible privilege. You have to be organised and focused and prepared 100% of the time, but I think we have both matured in a really good way and have a much stronger sense of the world today.”

Photography Assistance Matteo Macri | Post Production Postmen

March 14, 2013

On With The Show, Part III

Another interesting addition to this year's MBFWA schedule is Han, the menswear label of 20-year old, Brisbane-based designer Khim Hang, Han. Mr Hang is young to have his own label, and younger still to be producing a standalone show on the official program, but at a preview of his previous collection, he is definitely one to watch. "The debut show is a combination and refinement of fabrications and cuts," explains Mr Hang of the collection, which is being styled by Manuscript's fashion director. "I have been inpired by the late 1980s and early '90s Wu-Tang Clan and sportswear, so the collection is about taking these ideas and adding the Han trademark too it -  a really refined balance between oversized and tailored." 

March 13, 2013

On With The Show, Part II

As we noted yesterday, IMG has released the preliminary schedule for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, which kicks off in just over three weeks. An interesting addition this year is Sydney-based men's and women's label Vanishing Elephant. Known more for casual wardrobe classics than runway-ready collections, the question is how the label will translate its wares for such a context. As Arran Russell, one third of the label, explains: "That question is one of the main reason we never showed in the past. [This] show marks a coming of age for us, [with] menswear approaching five years old." What then can we expect? "It's a really grounded selection of what we love as well as a mix of new silhouettes, interesting fabrics and some finishes we've wanted to try for a while," says Felix Chan. "[Expect] a great space and some pretty neat looking clothes." 

A British Homecoming

In interesting news from the northern hemisphere overnight, British super-brand Burberry has announced that, after ten years showing its men's collections as part of Milan Fashion Week, it will move the seasonal event to London Collections: Men. Scheduled to make its home-turf menswear debut (the brand regularly shows its women's collections as part of London Fashion Week) with the spring/summer '14 collection on June 18, the move is a serious show of support for the three-season-old men's event, which has quickly come to be as powerful as its Milan and Paris counterparts. As the brand's chief creative officer Christopher Bailey explained: "London is the creative heart of Burberry and our global headquarters, so we are incredibly excited to be showing our next men's collection here. The country's proud menswear heritage and oustanding contemporary talent give it a unique and powerful energy." 

March 12, 2013

On With The Show, Part 1

IMG, the organisational body behind Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, released this year's preliminary schedule earlier today ahead of the event's new timing, now in early April. While light on menswear, the three labels confirmed to show so far are, interestingly, emerging (Brisbane-based label Han), new to showing at fashion week (Vanishing Elephant) and from across the Tasman (Zambesi, pictured above). As we welcome the latter back to our shores after three years, we had a quick chat with Dayne Johnston, the label's menswear designer, who explained that we can "expect to see a continuing flow of our work." Why the return? According to Johnston, the show is intended to enhance local brand awareness and develop relationships with menswear buyers in the Australasian region. As for the collection itself, the designer is remaining silent beyond noting that the initial starting point was a vintage leather motorcycle suit. 

Manuscript will be on the ground at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia with behind-the-scenes coverage, daily street style photography and regular reviews. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for up-to-the-minute information. 

March 7, 2013

A Dictionary of Denim

Online retailer ASOS has released a rather extensive denim collection for the new season, and with it an interactive size guide employing slow-motion videos to give you a greater sense of the garment's style, cut and fit. Our pick? The bleached-out shirt below. 

March 6, 2013

Issue VI - From the Editor

I am honoured that Rohan Furnell, a dancer in the Australian Ballet, graces our autumn 2013 cover. While not an obvious choice for a cover, Mr Furnell is a creative artist whose dedication to and passion for his craft is plainly evident in our extensive photographic series, captured by Australian-born, Paris-based photographer Justin Cooper. 

For this shoot, we invited some of the country's leading tailors to deconstruct their suiting - or rather, stop mid-way through creating it - so that we might visually document the craftsmanship behind these complex garments. With Mr Furnell's skill, we're able to see suiting - that timeless cornerstone of a man's wardrobe - in an entirely new light. And after all, isn't that what a fashion magazine is supposed to do? 

Dance, as any punter that has witnessed a ballet company in action knows, is a highly rigorous activity, requiring absolute physical and mental dedication. Modeling, on the hand, often gets a bad rap, deemed a frivolous activity and its subjects vague. But in exploring what goes into certain crafts, we profile leading Australian models Jordan and Zac Stenmark who, as a dual force, are evidence to the contrary. 

Having worked solidly for close to two years with a schedule that requires them near seven days a week year-round and to be on planes for a serious portion of their waking hours, Messrs Stenmark challenge the theory that modeling is an air-headed business. The Sydney-born twin brothers are keenly aware of fashion's big-business potential, and in cleverly employing social media platforms to raise their profiles, have every chance of carving themselves a big piece of that piece. 

In a special feature, writer Jonathan Seidler pens a personal account of the famed Rose Seidler House, the Wahroonga residence that Australia's most famous architect, Harry Seidler, built for his parents over 1949 and 1950, and in which Jonathan's father lived as a child. Photographer Saskia Wilson's similarly personal documentation of the building, which remains a tourist attraction and design benchmark, makes this feature one for the archives. 

Until next time-

Issue VI is available nationally on Friday 08 March 2013.
Portrait (above) Bowen Arico

March 5, 2013

Silver Linings

Another day, another campaign at the beginning of the autumn/winter season in the southern hemisphere, and like the preview we showed late last year, New Zealand label Zambesi hasn't failed to impress. Undoubtedly one of the greatest men's fashion labels in the region as a result of its consistency exploration and reinvention of traditional tailoring, Zambesi - under the direction of Dayne Johnston - this season offers a largely black and white palette with elements of silver, with many of the fabrics developed in-house. 

The Daily Hit: Gear3 by Saen

Given that Manuscript's office is based in Woollahra, in Sydney's eastern suburbs, we couldn't help but notice this bag in the window of Napoleon Perdis Life.Style store. By Korean label Gear3 by Saen, the bag is intended for optimum use and as such can be formed into a tote, a backpack or a briefcase care of the nuts, bolts and chains that comprise it. 

March 4, 2013

Add to Cart

Online retail in Australia shows no signs of abating. But, asks 
Mitchell Oakley Smith, can a country so small sustain such growth? 

Nick Robertson, the CEO of online retailer ASOS, carries with him a heat map of the world, the hot spots, so to speak, indicating sales traffic. Naturally, given the company is London-based, the UK appears brightest, but beyond a twinkling throughout Europe and in the US, the world remains in relative darkness, similar to the maps indicating night time on long-haul flights. That is, of course, if you don’t cast your eyes south to Australia, and until a few years ago, what international retailer did? There, beneath the equator and nearly falling off the map, the country lives up to its sunburnt reputation, burning brightly in the middle of the ocean.