When I started in this business summer shoe options consisted of cheap flimsy flip-flops or jelly-sandals for those pebbled British beaches. There was little or no choice and there certainly wasn’t any style - even though jelly sandals are kind of bad cool ATM FYI!
Anyway, let me introduce ‘CASABLANCA 1942’ who are making some of the nicest and most beautifully crafted hot weather shoes I’ve seen. Started in May 2014 by Gabriela Ligenza, and inspired by the classic film and the year it was released, the shtick is raffia.
Left - Cesare
The uppers are made from breathable natural raffia woven in Mogador, Morocco, and then construction takes place in Italy using the finest sustainable leather from French and Italian tanneries.
Right - The raffia comes from the raffia palm tree in Madagascar
The raffia fiber is obtained from the raffia palm tree, commonly found in Madagascar. The leaves of this little tree are cut into parallel lines resulting in the long fibers used in the weaving of the shoes. Unlike straw, raffia is stronger, hard-wearing and will mould to the feet when worn.
Polish-born Gabriela trained as an architect and interior designer at Fine Art Academy in Warsaw. She also designed hats before this venture. Based between London and her design studio south of Florence, Italy, she travels extensively for her inspirations and research. Gabriela has collaborated for the last 20 years with leading accessories and shoe designers for global brands like Salvatore Ferragamo, Bottega Veneta, Prada, Martin Margiela, Missoni, Paul Smith and Stella McCartney to develop hand woven raffia shoes produced using entirely traditional hand weaving techniques, but combining the craft with Italian know how and quality materials.
The idea for Casablanca 1942 was conceived whilst sitting on a beach under the stars watching the film, Casablanca, with the background sound of the Atlantic and thinking “what would Rick wear in this intense and sweltering city?”
Each pair takes at least a day to make so the shoes are made in limited editions. After all, "true luxury should be not about the price, but in the uniqueness of the product," she says.
Left - Lace Up Trainers £260
Gabriela believes that helping local cooperatives to incorporate external developments and training improves the marketability of the local skills and products, respecting its identity, distinctiveness and preserving sustainability on a grass roots level.
Gabriela says the shoe styles are inspired by “trying to design the perfect summer shoe for my husband so he can get inspired to go on holidays more!”
There are a few thing to know to get the best out of your pair. You may find that the shoes are a bit tight when you wear them the first time, but they will soon give as they moulds to your feet. You might want to wear them with socks for the first time for your own comfort, but they are designed to be worn bare foot in very hot weather.
Right - Woven Loafers - £228
If you feel that it rubs a bit too much on a certain area, it is recommended that you apply a wet cloth on this part of the shoe while it is on your foot, in order for the raffia to mould to your foot more quickly.
Raffia, being a natural fiber, will feel very comfortable without socks as the fiber will keep your feet fresh and naturally ventilated. As they become yours, “they are even more special even when they start wearing in and fraying a bit,” says Gabriela.
These are really elegant and artisanal summer shoes and I don't think the photographs do them enough justice after seeing them in person at the recent Pitti Uomo show in Florence.
Available at Harrods in the UK
Paris men's is the home of the big fashion hitters and it didn't disappoint for AW18:
Thought leather trousers were just for the Hoff?! Think again. Leather shakes off its stereotypical rockstar image and gets smart enough for business attire.
From Far - Dunhill, Paul Smith, Hermès, Berluti, Ami, Wooyoungmi, Cerruti, Louis Vuitton
Once the sole preserve of Moncler wearing European language students, the ultra shiny puffer is the future of cold weather jackets.
Left - Dunhill
Why have one boring layer when you can have three colourful layers all showing at the same time? Rollneck, polo shirt and tank. Tick, tick, tick!
Both - Kenzo
Male Floral Twinsets
If you're going to wear a twinset, it may as well be covered with flowers.
Below - Both Kenzo
This is the season for reflection with silver accessorises. From bags to boots, choose something you can see yourself in, literally.
From Far Left - Dunhill, Kenzo, Lanvin, Louis Vuitton
No animals were harmed in the making of these. It’s not supposed to real or fake, but fun.
From Far Left - Kenzo, Pigalle, Sacai, Kenzo
Big shoulders and longer jackets continues to push the tailoring boundaries.
From Left - Kenzo, Wooyoungmi
Look like walking Matchesfashion.com packaging!
From Left - Louis Vuitton, Dries van Noten
Yves Klein blue is the bold, primary accent colour of the season.
Below - Officine Generale, Hermes, Acne, Facetasm
The AW18 colour of the season.
From Left - Paul Smith, Facetasm, Paul Smith
Boxer Waisted Short
A true boxer worn high over the hips.
Left - SSS World Corp
PVC, trust me, is the material and finish of the season. Black bin bag? Yes, please!
From Far Left - Balmain, Acne, Wooyoungmi, Louis Vuitton, CMMN SWDN, Haider Ackermann, Walter van Beirendonck, GMBH
The worst wash, in the worst cut. Hello, new jean.
From Far Left - Dior Homme, Vetements, Vetements, Wooyoungmi, Cerruti, Louis Vuitton, Facetasm, GMBH
Landscape Poster Knits
JW Anderson may have done this first, but I still like it.
Both - Hermes
Game of Thrones Coats
Jon Snow way?! Look like a warrior
Left - Alexander McQueen
This is granny mac territory, and I love it!
Below both - Maison Margeila
Don't over think this. Just turn your coat inside out.
From Left - Vetements, Maison Margiela
Weak calves?! This could be your winter leg solution.
Below - All Thom Browne
Lara Djandji, Men’s International Designers and Accessories Buyer, Harvey Nichols
“Utility remains a key trend for this season with style cues taken from the uniforms of US correctional facilities. This staple khaki shirt by Marni is an essential buy to update your spring wardrobe, featuring a drawstring hem that adds a sportsluxe twist on the classic shirt”.
Left - Marni – Olive Poplin Shirt - £375
“A new brand at Harvey Nichols this season and one to watch, is Qasimi. These textured shorts in a muted blush, tap perfectly into one of our key trends that sees a softer, more relaxed and effortless way of dressing. Pair with a simple white Tee and tailored jacket to embody the brands uniformity and military influences”.
Left - Qasimi - Blush Textured Shell Shorts - £310
‘“Channel Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet this spring with this playful pillar box red Hawaiian shirt from Saint Laurent. Perfect for brightening up your wardrobe and encouraging good vibes”.
Below - Saint Laurent - Red Hawaiian-print Challis Shirt - £530
“These pressed slacks by Wooyoungmi offer a contemporary take on trousers this season, with a wide leg and cropped silhouette that will give you a modern workwear look. In a black wool blend fabrication these slacks can be dressed up or down, with a smart brogue or sleek trainer”.
Left - Wooyoungmi – Black Wide Leg Wool Blend Trousers - £340
“The fashion trainer trend shows no sign of disappearing, so this is the season to invest in Maison Margeila’s Replica model trainers, an iconic style within the sneaker industry. My pick this season is the all-white, brush painted style, for a subversively cool retro street look”.
Left - Maison Margiela - New Replica White Paint-Effect Leather Trainers - £455
Christopher Fisher, Head Buyer, oki-ni
"Oversized floral prints on short-sleeve lightweight shirts are a staple forsummer – relaxed beachwear from the catwalks was heavily influenced by the 90s, with references including Baz Luhrmann’s iconic Romeo and Juliet. Junya Watanabe is one of the new brands joining oki-ni this season and his pieces carry much kudos for their wearer!"
Left - Junya Watanabe - Black Flower-Print Short-Sleeved Shirt - £320
"Every guy should own a pair of crisp white low-top sneakers – the term versatile is an understatement. Common Projects has been the go-to luxury brand for many a season now. The ‘Achilles’ Low has a clean, minimal silhouette and is crafted in Italy from the finest leather".
Left - Common Projects - White Premium Achilles Low Sneakers - £248
"Wide-legged, loose fit trousers are not going anywhere soon. This pair from Maison Margiela are a prefect starter pair – not too oversized, they have a neat turn-up that will rest nicely on a pair of sneakers".
Left - Maison Margiela - Natural Wide-Leg Cotton Trousers - £410
"Let’s face it – it’s still freezing outside. Layering is the key to getting through this cold snap. This panelled sweatshirt from kolor is perfect for now, but will also take you nicely into spring when paired with some wide-leg navy shorts (see Marni)".
Left - Kolor - Grey Panelled Sweatshirt - £389
"I am a keen runner, so I was really excited to bring Satisfy to oki-ni, this season. Satisfy is a brand for both serious and not-so-serious runners –their products are designed, prototyped and tested in their studio in Paris. The technical fabrications used are insane and not one detail is overlooked (The product looks super-slick too)".
Below - Satsify - Black Packable Windbreaker - £305
Does menswear really need yet another luxury label? It does if it can offer something different that caters to wealthy men by making their lives easier, increasing comfort and looking smart while not being too difficult or ‘fashiony’ to wear. So, no challenge there then?!
Left - Helbers AW16 Luxury menswear staples with sports detailing and modern fabric mixes
Many traditional luxury menswear brands have fallen into that trap of trying to draw attention to themselves, the brand and the product and it risks alienating its core group and those who can really afford it. Just look at the new Brioni or Zegna’s, now, defunct Couture line. They are all chasing the same customers and these men are picky and know exactly what they want.
Well, I’m introducing, Helbers, a new label of luxury menswear staples from Dutch designer, Paul Helbers. When I first saw this, in the Spring, it was the attention to detail and quality which you could instantly see, and that was just the branded hangers!
You may have heard of Helbers before from his time in charge of Louis Vuitton’s men’s under Marc Jacobs from 2006 to 2011. A graduate of the Royal College of Art, he has also worked at Maison Margiela.
AW16 is his first collection and I would describe it as Jil Sander meets Neil Barrett. Made in Italy, mostly near Venice, it is a small selection of classic and pure menswear pieces with athletic elements and fabric mixes. It is pricey, but I think this is a brand designed to complement the wearer rather than dominate.
Christopher Fisher - Head Buyer at oki-ni
“This suede trucker jacket from Maison Margiela has a beautiful rich texture to it. Demonstrating a workwear-inspired aesthetic whilst nodding to the easy chic of the 70s, it works perfectly with jeans, a classic white T-shirt and a fresh pair of sneakers in the summer and can also be dressed up with one of the season’s printed shirts and tailored trousers for an effortless evening look”.
“Marni's irreverent floral print buzzes with energy and after so many seasons of black and muted tones, this statement style adds a welcome injection of colour to any wardrobe”.
Left - Maison Margiela - Suede Jacket - £1750
Below - Marni - Floral Printed Cotton Shirt - £309
“OAMC draw inspiration from a wide spectrum of sources each season – for SS16, the brand looks to Africa and safari adventuring following a stand-out visit Luke Meier paid to Tanzania in recent years. Technical suiting with breathable perforations and taping is not only practical for temperature regulation but also understatedly stylish”.
Left - OAMC - Jacket - £742
“Souvenir Jackets are a statement piece for SS16 and this one from Valentino is a perfect example. This particular piece has intricate detailed eagle embroidery to the back that can also be seen across other pieces in the collection”.
Left - Valentino - Souvenir Jacket - £1635
“These Stone Island tech swim shorts are woven with a red weft in the fabric which creates an iridescence when caught in the light. Perfect for the beach, home or away”.
Left - Stone Island - Shorts - £95