Arguably the greatest fashion designer of the 20th century, Yves Saint Laurent, is synonymous with Marrakech and North Africa. I’d wanted to visit Marrakech for a while, now, and when the new YSL Museum opened in October, it was definitely the thing that cemented my reason for going.
Left - Take your ChicGeek selfies before you go in because the exit is on the side
Located on the same street as the famous Jardin Marjorelle – it was acquired by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé in 1980 to stop it being developed into a hotel. The new owners decided to live in the Villa Bou Saf Saf, which they renamed Villa Oasis, and undertook the restoration of the garden in order to “make the Jardin Majorelle become the most beautiful garden – by respecting the vision of Jacques Majorelle,” - the new museum is testament to Saint Laurent’s talent, his 40 years career and his connection with the city. Built by the Fondation Pierre Bergé, Saint Laurent’s life and business partner, the two museums bearing his name - there’s another new one in Paris BTW - are preserving his archive and legacy.
The 4,000 m² building includes a 400m² permanent exhibition space devoted to the work of Yves Saint Laurent and designed by Christophe Martin. The museum also includes a hall for temporary exhibitions, a research library with over 5,000 volumes, a 140-seat auditorium, bookshop and terrace café.
Right - The iconic Mondrian dress welcomes you into the main exhibition space
The new building has something of the Frank Lloyd Wrights about it. The low-rise, concrete and brick finish, designed by French architectural, Studio KO, has a 20th century modern feel and is beautiful in its simplicity.
As you enter the circular entrance you’re greeted by the timeless and elegant YSL logo - take all your pictures and selfies now, as you won’t be coming back this way - once inside there is a green tiled fountain in a glazed courtyard.
There is a small, temporary exhibition space, painted Marjorelle blue, currently showing the paintings and illustrations of Jacques Majorelle, the creator of the garden. This space will change up to three times a year with different exhibitions and it was interesting to see what a talent Majorelle was. Think Art Deco Arabia.
In the main exhibition space, everything is dark and meticulously lit. The first thing you see is Yves Saint Laurent’s iconic Mondrian dress, an item of clothing so simple, yet original, and part of the explosion of pop we saw in the mid-sixties. This is, rightly, one of the greatest items of women’s fashion from the 20th century.
Left - There was a strict no pictures policy, I never quite understand why, so here's one of the museum's images of the beautifully lit main exhibition space
There’s a small sketch of the classic logo, designed by Adolphe Mouron Cassandre in 1961, and, then, the room opens out into a timeline charting the life and career of the designer.
At the end of the room is a collection of classic, black ‘Le Smoking’ suits. Saint Laurent revolutionised womenswear by making it acceptable for women to wear black tailored dinner suits.
As you turn, a double height portrait of Yves surveys a collection of looks from his career. There is no chronology here, and even the worst type of 80s gypsy or Russian dresses look great due to the lighting. Towards the end there is a large display cabinet with lots of accessorises and fashion jewellery. The pieces with lots of embroidery and Braque-like birds really sparkle in the black space with the shiny floor adding to the sumptuous feel of the exhibition.
As you leave, you enter into the gift shop with its red lacquered walls. There’s a café across from the auditorium showing catwalk shows from Yves Saint Laurent’s career. The exit is here, with Prickly Pears lining the walk back to the street, letting the small museum flow with visitors.
There isn’t any menswear in the museum, but, if you like fashion, there’s plenty to enjoy. Small touches reinforce the power of this brand. I’m not sure if Kering, the parent company of YSL, had any input here, but they must be very pleased with the result. The brand definitely goes up in your estimation and puts itself in the enviable position of having lots of recognisable brand signatures and designs.
Even the subtle touch of two separate fuchsia pink and tangerine coloured glass windows reflects the small coloured squares on YSL’s ready-to-wear ‘Rive Gauche’ label and no doubt a colour combination taken and inspired by Marrakech.
Left - Born in Algeria, Yves Saint Laurent is synonymous with North Africa
A pioneer, Yves Saint Laurent was the only fashion designer of his generation to systematically archive his work, beginning with the founding of the couture house.
Beginning in 1964, Yves Saint Laurent decided to set aside for safekeeping certain pieces from every collection. The Fondation Pierre Bergé’s holdings include every entire haute couture collection made by Yves Saint Laurent between 1962 and 2002. The Fondation also safeguards 65 Dior garments designed between 1955 and 1960 while Yves Saint Laurent was Christian Dior’s assistant, before becoming the couture house’s creative director.
Right - TheChicGeek outside the recently opened museum
Unfortunately, Pierre Bergé died a few weeks before the museum officially opened. But, with his ashes now in the Jardin Marjorelle, along with Yves, they are both now part of an exciting and stylish cultural quarter in Marrakech which charts the career and development of one of the biggest 20th century brands in fashion. The museum is a definite must if you're visiting Marrakech and the Jardin Marjorelle.
Below - Designed by French architectural firm Studio KO, the museum has a feeling of a Frank Lloyd Wright meets Marrakech aesthetic
TheChicGeek was a guest at Le Palais Paysan around 25 minutes from central Marrakech by car with stunning views of the Atlas Mountains and surrounding countryside. See more here
The silk pyjama shirt has become a fixture in our wardrobes - it was one of the most popular men’s items in the recent Erdem X H&M collaboration - and it was inevitable, in all its louche, open-shirtedness, that we needed something extra to decorate our chests with. Enter the medallion.
Left - Fashion week street style
This look hasn’t been cool since the seventies with the combined stench of Brut aftershave and porn-star taches. But we're peacocking again and this overt masculinity is the reason why it is back. It’s very Burt Reynolds, very Magnum PI and has a musky, hirsute sexiness to it.
Right - Alex Orso - Disc - Gold - £125
I’m loving a silk shirt ATM, see one of my favourites of the season here and you wear it open with confidence. It could be the “Call Me By Your Name” effect, where the medallion necklace is an important signifier within the film - see more Call Me By Your Name style here or it's the effect of guys being more flamboyant and wearing printed silk shirts.
Team with silk trousers and a smile. Have you got the swagger for a medallion?
Left - Black Dakini - Disk Pendant Sterling Silver Necklace - £355 from Matchesfashion.com
Below - Vintage Bruce Weber Versace
Below Right - Steve McQueen
Far Left -Ryan Gosling
Middle - The medallion draws attention to your chest
Left - More McQueen
Left - Tom Selleck being Tom Selleck
Below Left - Call Me By Your Name - the older character shows his influence on the younger one when he starts to copy him and wear the same necklace
Left - Chained & Able - St. Christopher - £22 from ASOS
Walking into Topman’s Oxford Circus flagship, a couple of weeks ago, there was a collection of bought-in brands such as Nicce, Le Coq Sportif and Champion, in an area on the first floor. All familiar, all offering the current taste for branded clothing.
Left - Vision Streetwear - Scarf £30
There was a large section for a brand I hadn’t heard of called “Vision”. All Balenciaga-type logo tops and branded football scarves, the product was good and definitely where we are right now and what guys want to buy.
I always like retailers to surprise me and give me things I hadn’t heard of before. I just thought it was a street/sportswear brand that was yet to jump onto my radar.
I went to the Topman SS18 press day, the following week, and there was a special area for “Vision” and, then, the penny dropped: this must be an in-house brand.
It’s clever. It allows brands to do something different, have a clean creative sheet and for it to be detached from the parent brand. It can also, unlike the main brand, be disposed of the minute it starts to wobble. Easy come, easy go.
People are much more open to fresh brands and this is the future for high-street retail. Secretive in-house brands, that look like they’ve been created by a young, dynamic group of creatives rather than be tainted by the connotations of the parent brand. TK Maxx have been doing it for years.
And this takes me to HIIT. A new sportswear focussed brand under Burton’s umbrella. I’m much more likely to get excited about HIIT - it looks really good BTW - than “Burton Sportswear” for example. It also allows the people who work there to push it and be very current without a buyer in the background wailing “It’s not very Burton, is it?”.
Right - HIIT Available at Burton in January 2018
It also allows it to be stocked by third parties such as Zalando and ASOS. It stands on its own right and when its life cycle is over it can be shelved and a replacement or alternative waiting in the wings.
I’m calling these “Russian Doll Brands”: brands within brands offering a new niche and more fashion forward or specialised clothing.
What these do is represent the shortening lives of brand and how they can easily come and go and also, it’s a step away from “collaborations” which many consumers and brands have grown tired of.
Correction - Vision is owned by Authentic Brands Group, a brand development, marketing and entertainment company, which owns a global portfolio of lifestyle, sports, and celebrity and entertainment brands. It is exclusive to Topman in the UK and US, but not in Japan.
Guest Post - When we think of the examples set by Hollywood stars, things are fairly different for men and for women. Both men and women look up to general standards of beauty, of course, to the extent that many have suggested it’s a problem. Hollywood stars are often extraordinarily attractive, and it probably isn’t healthy for us to hold them up as realistic standards. Nevertheless, it’s going to happen. And it’s interesting to consider how it happens differently for men and women.
For women, beyond traditional beauty standards, there is a lot of consideration for fashion. Costuming for famous actresses gets a lot of attention, and throughout award season red carpet looks are devoured and analyzed by everything from small blogs to high-end lifestyle magazines. Women look to actresses for fashion inspiration, perhaps as much as for general beauty. For men, however, it often stops with physique. This is not to say that men don’t notice well-dressed actors; typically, however, it’s a given actor’s physical prowess that gets the most attention in a movie.
This begs the question: are there modern fashion icons for men in film? Or are actors simply inspiration for us to hit the floor and do some crunches until we look like members of the Spartan 300? Personally, I’m not sure that there are many actors or characters men traditionally look to for style – but there probably should be. Consider these men and characters, for instance.
If there is a current movie star who’s considered to be fashion example for men the way that, say, Frank Sinatra was several decades ago, or even George Clooney was a decade ago, it’s probably Ryan Gosling. Yes, Gosling has also made waves with his physique and general good looks, but for about 10 years now he’s made a point of taking roles that see him dressing stylishly. Much of the film Crazy, Stupid, Love even concerns his teaching Steve Carell how to dress and present himself. It’s reached the point at which Esquire even did a write-up of Gosling’s best-dressed roles. Suffice it to say Gosling is typically a fashion-forward example.
It would be easy to think of Cavill as little more than a muscle man. This is the case for any man who takes on the role of Superman, and particularly these days the image of a muscled hero in tights appears in more than just film. A likeness of Cavill (more or less) can be found in the “Injustice” video games, and a Man Of Steel-themed slot online stars Henry Cavill as well. In a way, his muscled physique is the character. But give the modern Superman films another watch and you’ll see that Cavill also puts on a clinic in how to dress – both as a casual, humble young man before her learns of his powers, and as the sharply dressed Clark Kent when he’s in disguise.
This is the rare instance in which it’s quite clear that a male actor is a fashion icon. Daniel Craig has fully embodied the persona of James Bond for several years now, and as is characteristic for actors playing 007, he’s looked extraordinarily sharp doing it. Craig rivals Gosling as the actor who most clearly advocates for stylish tailored suits – which look great on any man, famous, fit, or otherwise.
Hiddleston is still best known (in all likelihood) as Loki in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thus, many of us hear his name and picture him in a sort of green cape holding a scepter, or something of the like. But in other films, Hiddleston has exemplified various states of male stylishness. In Midnight In Paris he gave a somewhat low-key performance as F. Scott Fitzgerald in which he looked like a terrific example of a Gatsby era dapper gentleman; in High-Rise and The Night Manager he appears like a modern GQ model. Indeed, this may be why Hiddleston is the only actor on this list that GQ saw fit to include in the top five of the 50 best-dressed men in the world. (He also comes up frequently as a candidate to succeed Craig as Bond.)
Bradley Cooper’s style is more difficult to describe, and a single character example doesn’t really do him justice. But when you think about his career, he’s made a lot of different styles look good, which makes him a sort of model for all guys. In The Hangover he shows how fairly casual attire can look great with confidence. In Limitless he dresses sharp (at least for part of the film). In Wedding Crashers he goes fully preppy, and in Silver Linings Playbook he looks good in everything from jeans and a football jersey to a dancing uniform. Cooper’s not a study in clothing, but rather, in confidence.
The velour tracksuit has taken some serious shit in the past. The images of Guy Ritchie, during his “Madge” days, being press ganged into one still resonates strongly and not in the right way. Juicy Couture was built on this tracksuit and look what happened to that.
That’s enough of the negativity. It takes a certain confidence to pull off a velour tracksuit. It’s one part Ugg boots and fake tan with a Michael Kors bag, another part tongue-in-cheek casual. It’s gone full circle and, now, it’s kinda cool.
M&S has this handsome navy number in its David Gandy range. All you’ll be left to do is surgically detach yourself from the sofa this Christmas.
Left - Marks & Spencer - David Gandy For Autograph - Velour Hooded Top - £39.50, Velour Joggers - £29.50
Below - Essex boy, David Gandy, going back to his velour roots
While the traditional tailored suit is in the doldrums it gives us an opportunity to try something different. With corduroy being the fabric du jour and doubling denim looking a bit, well, dated, it’s time to toy with the idea of doubling your corduroy.
I saw these jackets and trousers by Spanish brand, Lois Jeans, at the beginning of the year at various trade shows and it felt like the time was right for the return of these hippie favourites.
A brand from the 1970s, they are a combination of jumbo cord jean jackets with matching trousers in lots of those 70s sludgy colours like rust and olive green.
This should be your new winter uniform: casual enough for the weekend yet put together enough for something dressier. Add a nice grey flannel shirt for a sunday lunch or a ringer T-shirt and trainers for drinks with mates.
Got an appetite for corduroy? See TheChicGeek’s picks of the AW17 season here
Left & Below - Lois Jeans Jumbo Corduroy Jacket - £76, Trousers - £52 both from Idle Man
In a post-Brexit world we’re going to have to make more than leather shoes and Scottish cashmere sweaters. UK Plc needs to turn our world class creativity into a German style industry: manufacturing in volume and of the highest quality.
From small acorns mighty English oaks grow, so, when I heard The Shackleton Company was manufacturing their parkas in the UK, I wanted to find out more and see what we are paying for. The majority of the world's down parkas are made in Italy, France, Canada or China, so a UK-made is rather special. I’ve dissected their new “Discovery Jacket” to show you all the different components and design details, so when the temperature drops we can keep the Union Flag flying high!
Entirely handmade in Cheshire. The majority of the materials are made in Britain with the odd exception, i.e. zips and zip pullers. The outer shell is Ventile, designed in the UK. The densely woven, 100% cotton uses the world's finest, long staple fibre. Ventile is not coated or laminated and the combination of the dense weave and swelling properties of the fibres, when wet, provides excellent weatherproofing. It's an entirely natural product - windproof, breathable, durable and quiet.
Filled with 100% of the finest, pure European goose down, it provides an unsurpassed warmth to weight ratio. It is a by-product of the food industry, in fact, a waste product, if not used for insulation. The highest quality of down, which The Shackleton Company uses, comes from the oldest, free-range birds. Each individual pocket of down is hand filled & stitched. No machinery is used.
The adjustable hood design enables the wearer to create a wrap-around tunnel to protect against extreme cold. The coyote fur hood trim is removable. Tested in Antarctica to minus 20 Degrees centigrade, the coyote is shot as part of a cull program to control popuations in Alaska. The Shackleton Company do not use any farmed or trapped coyote.
Large rubber zip pullers are designed with pimples on the reverse for ease of use with cold hands or whilst wearing gloves.
Four outer pockets - two chest (zipped) and two fleece-lined, hand-warmer pockets have press stud fastenings for quick access. Four large internal, zipped pockets - two close to body core for extra warmth for storing phone & batteries in extreme cold environments. Internal waist draw cord for a tighter fit - minimising cold air flow, providing extra insulation. Lower draw cord for a tighter fit and extra protection in stormy conditions.
Extendable storm wrist cuffs.
Internal patch - “I hold that a man should strive to the uttermost for his life’s set prize”. Poet, Robert Browning, quote, engraved on Shackleton’s gravestone in South Georgia.
Left & Above - The Shackleton Company - Discovery Jacket - £1575