This Week In Fashion: Prada Campaign Becomes Meme, Bottega Veneta Go Offline, Alexander Wang Abuse Allegations & More

Digital Editor Madeline Reid reports and responds to the latest from the fashion industry this week.

As the New Year is now in full-swing, so too are the new traditions we’ll attempt to keep up for a few months, forget about by the summer, and guiltily return to by next winter. With that in mind, we’re reviving our ‘This Week In Fashion’ series to keep you up-to-date with the latest appointments, releases and gossip from the fashion industry each week. The start of the year has already summoned a number of campaign releases: Gucci x The North Face has filled much of my feed this week, as has the curious Ugg and Andre Leon Tally collaboration. Elsewhere, the Loewe’s kitchy ode to My Neighbour Totoro raffled customers for exclusive pieces, and Bridgerton’s escapist appeal continues to influence its 63 million viewers as Lyst reports ‘regencycore’ searches (think: corsets, satin gloves and feather headbands) have increased up to 123%. I say!

Read on for fashion’s top stories this week.

Alber Elbaz Announces Return To Couture

When the ex-Lavin creative director was dismissed from role back in 2015 due to “conflicts with management”, many wondered if he’d ever make a return to the Couture runway again. That was until November, when it was announced his new venture AZFactory would be making its formal debut in Paris this month, but not as we’ve seen before. Elbaz is premiering his all-inclusive label via fashion film on 26th January at 8 p.m CET according to the provisional schedule. He’s remained tight-lipped about what the film will include on his social media, telling WWD that, “it’s a surprise.” My guess? If we’re to take anything from the label’s latest Instagram posts, I wager Elbaz is ditching his romantic reputation for something post-pandemic practical, but with a much-needed injection of fun.

Bottega Veneta Leave The Internet, For Now

I have to admit, when I first heard the news break that Bottega Veneta had deleted all of their social media accounts, I wasn’t as surprised as the Twitter-outrage that ensued shortly following the realisation. As recently as December, creative director Daniel Lee told Vogue that he “doesn’t believe” in fashion’s swing away from analogue fashion shows and into the digital world. He’s never had an Instagram account himself, he trained under the famously understated and Instagram-latecomer Phoebe Philo at Celine and banned all attendees from filming or posting about his latest salon show for Resort 2021. And yet, while it may seem baffling to think any major luxury brand would choose to log off online in our increasingly digital fashion landscape, it also feels like a smart move for the Italian luxury house.

As we all continue racking up increased screen times while staying at home, choosing to remain offline keeps brands playing to the ultra-rich, ultra-exclusive. Anyway, Bottega Veneta has fast become a luxury front runner for 2020 thanks to the proliferation of its kiwi green Puddle boots which became instantaneous ‘it’ items thanks to celebrity endorsements on, you guessed it, Instagram. I’m 50/50 on whether this is a permanent break-up or just a social-hiatus, but I’m hoping Lee sticks to his analogue vision and intimate shows, for variety if nothing else.

Alexander Wang Responds To Sexual Abuse Allegations

Following a now-viral Tik Tok expose, coverage from @shitmodelmgmt and support from industry Robin Hood @dietprada, a number of sexual abuse allegations have been made public against fashion designer and New York’s favourite party boy, Alexander Wang. The esteemed creative has been accused of a number of accusations, from sexual misconduct on set and at after-parties, to drugging and raping unknowing victims at after-parties since 2015. Wang released a statement on Monday via Instagram, saying that his team was doing “everything in its power to investigate these claims.” It’s unlikely these allegations will fade quickly for the 37-year-old San Fransisco native, as the Independent reveals his accusors have hired Lisa Bloom, best known for handling the sexual abuse case against Bill O’Reilly and precipitating his firing from Fox News.

The fashion industry, however, has a much muddier past when it comes to protecting sexual predators including the 2019 scandal against Mario Testino, Bruce Weber and Patrick Demarchelier. Fashion seems especially forgiving when it comes to the abuse of male victims, as is the case with Wang. However, I’m hoping after a year of such strong social justice advocation, colleagues and celebrities alike will know the only acceptable response is to denounce his actions and separate all professional and personal ties from the brand, period.

Tavi Gevinson Calls Out Karlie Kloss

In another online call out this week, teen-blogging sensation turned author Tavi Gevinson did not hold back in sharing her outrage at supermodel Karlie Kloss. Following the horrific acts of terrorism committed by pro-Trump mob at the US Capitol building on Thursday 7th January, Kloss denounced the actions of the MAGA and Proud Boys groups. Not blind to the hypocrisy of her statement – Karlie Kloss is married to Joshua Kushner, brother of Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Kloss has come under fire for sharing ‘woke’ views publically despite deeply conservative family ties, most notably in a now-legendary takedown on the most recent season of Project Runway by a contestant. In all fairness, Kloss has previously stated her support for Democratic candidates, telling Andy Cohen in an interview that “I’m sure I’m not the only person in this country that does not necessarily agree with their family on politics.” And yet, not the killing of Black protestors on the street, the separating of immigrant children from their parents at the US border, or the incitement of violence following his loss of the US Election last December, has been enough for Kloss to publicly condemn and distance herself from her in-laws or their politics.

Brits Say Their Goodbyes To ‘Big Topshop’

Once a tourist destination in its own right on Oxford Street, high-street retailer Topshop’s flagship store was quietly put up for sale on Monday. Sprawling some 90,000 square feet, the store pioneered ‘destination experience‘ shopping in the UK, featuring a hair salon, tattoo and piercing studio and cafe on it’s lower levels, not to mention the DJ booth plonked on the right-hand side of the entrance. There’s no logic behind the sensory overload as ‘Set You Free’ by N-Trance rings through your ears at 11am on a Tuesday.

It was also the crown jewel of Philip Green’s now-crumbling fashion empire Arcadia, which collapsed into administration in December. While I won’t miss the problematic panderings of the UK high-street’s villain, I think a moment of silence is needed to mourn the support the brand gave to the emerging fashion designers in the UK, stocking BFC NEWGEN designers including Christopher Kane, JW Anderson and Mary Katrantzou. The first fashion show I ever watched live-streamed from my bedroom in Scotland was the Topshop UNIQUE collection and the NEWGEN designers they spotlighted, and the store itself felt like some bizarre right of passage as a young teen desperate to be a part of the fashion industry. So long, Big Topshop, you will be missed.

Prada’s Latest Campaign Becomes Our New Favourite Meme

In recent years, fashion’s pseudo-self awareness has led many designers to try meme-style advertising campaigns including Gucci’s #TFW watch campaign and Balenciaga’s meme-bait IKEA collaboration. That’s why it’s all the more amusing when it happens by mistake, as appears to be the case with Prada’s latest campaign release for SS21. For Muccia Prada and Raf Simon’s sophomore collaboration, the campaign images are scattered with text asking a series of faux-profound and seemingly banal questions around the digitisation of the fashion industry. I’m surprised to see this from Simons as he’s usually above this kind of cringey misstep, and yet if he hoped for it to be some kind of deliberately meta-joke, it didn’t land. It doesn’t appear so anyway, as the questions were inspired by a virtual Q&A the two hosted after their SS21 show. Enjoy this one and the memes that have appeared on Twitter – trust me, it’s worth a scroll.

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