Spotlight On: Mila Schön

Mila Schön wearing her signature black and white pearl earrings

A re-run of the Mila Schön Spring/Summer 2012 collection was on TVModa yesterday.  The colors, techniques used, and overall bookish-prettiness of the line was fantastic.  I paused.  I thought.  I confirmed that I had never seen a collection by Mila Schön.

Mila Schön S/S 2012

So I did a little research.  I found a Wiki page with all the requisite information of which I will dispense in a moment.  What surprised me was that neither the American nor the British Vogue websites covered the collection.  When I located it on Vogue Italia , I got a ‘pagina non trovata’: page not found.

Take my word that the collection was awesome.  What I wanted to research and share was Ms. Schön herself.  So, the Wiki stats:

Marella Agnelli wearing a Mila Schön gown at the NY Black and White Ball. She won ‘Best Dressed’.

Schön, née Nutrizio, was a Croatian born into a wealthy Italian family in 1915.  She eventually married a well-off, precious metals dealer, Aurelio Schön, and shopped with the 1940′s postwar privileged clientele at Balenciaga and Dior.  When her marriage ended and she was left broke with a young son, she decided to make those dresses that she could no longer afford.  With the hands of skilled Milanese seamstresses, Schön opened her first shop in 1958.  Schön’s most famous clients included Marella Agnelli, Jackie Kennedy Onassis and her younger sister Lee Radziwill, Farah Diba, and Imelda Marcos.

From the ‘Mila Schön: Lines Colors Surfaces’ tribute exhibition

The Mila Schön brand is modern.  It is elegant and timeless.  Its inspiration came from contemporary art which Schön collected.  The company eventually had its own textile factory, and Schön brought an original textile called double-faced fabric to the fashion world.  The company has been owned by Japanese group Itochu since 1992 and at the beginning of this year New Antica Group s.r.l. has been assigned the relaunching of the brand. Bianca Gervasio is the current design director, a position she’s held since 2008.

One of the designs from Ms. Schön’s last collection

Schön died in 2008, but her ideals are still very present in the house’s style.  How ironically refreshing to see designer heritage being carried into today’s world of anything-goes fashion.  Have you heard of Mila?  What do you think of the Mila Schön brand?

Spotlight On: Jil Sander

Jil Sander

The fashion world has been shouting ‘Raf Simons!‘ from editorial rooftops over the past week after the designer was officially announced as Dior’s newest creative director.  His story is interesting, but it is his previous appointment holding the reins at Jil Sander that caught my attention.  He was dismissed from the position in late February.  In his place is to be the founder, Ms. Jil Sander whom, I realized, I know very little about.

Raf Simons at his final show at Jil Sander

Jil Sander SS 2011… LOVED this collection by Simons

Stripes! It was SO good.

The 68-year old German designer is famous for her fabric quality (she started off as a textile engineer in her 20s).  Luxurious and minimalistic, her label did not fly off the shelves in the 1980s but in the 1990′s, Sander received great success by both surviving the financial crisis in Asia and by launching a popular men’s line.

Jil Sander FW 1987/88

FW 1987/88

Gisele in light, crisp white Jil Sander SS 2000… Sander’s last line before she left for the first time

After a six month venture with Prada Group (who bought a 75% share) in 2000, Sander unexpectedly quit her post as creative director and chairwoman.  It’s said that she was unwilling to use cheaper fabrics (good girl), conform to fashion’s standard sizes (great girl), and to move Jil Sander workshops from her native Germany to Italy (my, God!), all insisted by Patrizio Bertelli, Prada CEO.

Patrizio Bertelli and Miuccia Prada

After departing, Milan Vukmirovic was hired as creative diector. Unfortunately, the company lost millions in sales.  Sander returned to her label in 2003, trucing with Mr. Bertelli, but differences between the two would contribute to another exit in 2004.

FW 2002.

FW 2003

Sander began working with Japanese company Fast Retailing in 2009, creating a collection (J+) for its label Uniqlo.  And that brings us to 2012, where just days after Mr. Raf Simons was dismissed, Sander jumped back once again into her eponymous throne.  Can hardly wait to see how she brings her line up-to-date!

+J by Jil Sander for Uniqlo Spring 2011

Spotlight On: Florence and the Original Machine

God, she is SO cool.

Florence Broadhurst is one of those ‘God, she’s so cool!’  girls.  This bold Australian lady was a dabbler in everything from music to comedy to diesel fuel engineering.  Well, maybe the engineering was more her husband, but she helped with the business-side of his career.  It seems as though Broadhurst made herself a chameleon-sort-of life.

Her most well-known venture came in the form of design. She began as a designer and consultant for Pellier Ltd, Robes & Modes in the 1930s.  What is interesting and admirable is the fact that she didn’t start her career as a wallpaper designer (the job that would lance her as a household name) until she was in her 60s.  In 1959, Broadhurst started Australian Wallpapers Pty Ltd (later Florence Broadhurst Wallpapers Pty Ltd).

Her luxurious designs were handcrafted locally in Australia.  Daring are her surviving products with bright color schemes and oversized patterns.  Ms. Broadhurst invested her knowledge into interior innovations like printing onto metallic surfaces and a vinyl finish that could be washed.

Broadhurst’s designs lay dormant for several decades as the Eighties brought on a new, minimalistic wave in design.  Turning the Millennium, her original screens were found and dusted off.  Signature Prints in Australia has made Broadhurst’s designs available once again.  Clubs and hotels can’t get enough of the fun, ephemeral designs.  Fashion designers have played a big part in the revival, too (hello, Kate Spade campaign 2012).

Kate Spade ad campaign

Florence Broadhurst was brutally murdered in 1977.  Her killer is still unknown, but two cups of tea at the crime scene suggests the murder was meeting Broadhurst for a friendly meeting.  I can’t wait to read this book on her by Hellen O’Neil.

Okay, macabre ending… quick, look at Emma Hack’s funny Florence Broadhurst wallpaper camo !!

William Morris

The man himself (via william-morris.co.uk)

The man himself (via william-morris.co.uk)

It’s been said that this guy was the most influential designer of the 19th century.  I believe it- check out these patterns! William Morris started the English Arts and Crafts movement, an anti-industrial revival of traditional craftsmanship.  Morris wore many hats.  Aside from being an accomplished textile designer, he was a scholar, writer, poet, socialist, and environmental campaigner.  The company that the designer created along with his buddies Peter Paul Marshall and Charles James Faulkner is still going strong today.  Morris & Co. offers those same patterns of the artist as well as new interpretations of the originals.  Lovely, intricate prints that are so fresh and timeless.  Brava, Morris.  Brava.

P.S. If you find yourself in London, you can visit Morris’ home.  Though I might be tempted to stuff one of his pillows into the extra-large bag I would just happen to be carrying.

Fruit Wallpaper (1864) (via william-morris.co.uk)

Fruit Wallpaper (1864) (via william-morris.co.uk)

Marigold curtains (1875) (via morris-william.co.uk)

Marigold curtains (1875) (via morris-william.co.uk)

Pimpernel.  Morris had this design as wallpaper in his dining room (via morris-william.co.uk)

Pimpernel. Morris had this design as wallpaper in his dining room (via morris-william.co.uk)

Artichoke.  Yum.  (via morris-william.co.uk)

Artichoke. Yum. (via morris-william.co.uk)

Tulip and Willow design wood-block fabric (via wikipedia.org)

Tulip and Willow design wood-block fabric (via wikipedia.org)