AMI: A Man’s Best Friend

Alexandre Mattiusi's hyper-cool menswear collection is redefining the modern man.

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With a scruffy beard and an infectious, seductive charisma, AMI’s designer, Alexandre Mattiusi, exudes an unmistakable je nais sais quoi…one we’re more than happy to import into the Saks Fifth Avenue men’s department. Flipping through the AMI fall lookbook is to peer into the state of men’s fashion: artfully disheveled, perfectly slouchy, teeming with requisite Parisian cool. And what of that Française à la mode? Mattiusi boyishly shrugs. “We are not perfect. We are not always shaven. We smoke. Basically, we are romantic and nonchalant – like a lover, like life.”

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With a scruffy beard and an infectious, seductive charisma, AMI’s designer, Alexandre Mattiusi, exudes an unmistakable je nais sais quoi…one we’re more than happy to import into the Saks Fifth Avenue men’s department. Flipping through the AMI fall lookbook is to peer into the state of men’s fashion: artfully disheveled, perfectly slouchy, teeming with requisite Parisian cool. And what of that Française à la mode? Mattiusi boyishly shrugs. “We are not perfect. We are not always shaven. We smoke. Basically, we are romantic and nonchalant – like a lover, like life.”

Who exactly is the AMI man?
AM: Ami means “friend” in French, so my muses are my friends, cool people on the street…I wanted to mix high-street with simple luxury.

One of those friends and muses is the fabulous model and icon, Caroline de Maigret.
AM: Caroline is like, my neighbor. I love her…she is amazing. And my clothes, my shoes: they fit her like perfectly – no tailoring needed!

Historically, fashion has looked to the British and Italians for menswear inspiration. How does the French man differentiate from the standard?
AM: The French have a certain je ne sais quoi: we are definitely nonchalant, sexy, romantic and confident. My collection reflects a man with a life. Someone who may have an important job, but who still enjoys a drink on a terrace, friendship…the things we all enjoy. The man I design for is multidimensional.

How are you reinventing the menswear wheel? How is AMI different?
AM: I know men, I know boys…many cannot afford a $2,000 sweater – I, myself, cannot! I want to reach people. I want to create something approachable. Something for real-life. I make clothes that I, myself, love to wear, that I want to see on people. My clothes have to be worn. I want to say as natural, normal as possible. I don’t want to be a ‘big brand’ where I am out of touch…

What are the must-haves for every modern man’s closet?
AM: A proportionate camel coat – it must be timeless! A navy jacket, a denim shirt, a great pair of jeans, a beautiful pair of white sneakers, a white oxford shirt, a grey sweatshirt…and of course, some tattoos!

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Viktor&Rolf’s Sweet Surprise

The Dutch duo unveil their BONBON fragrance at Saks New York.

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Viktor&Rolf
, masters of intellectually-provocative couture clothing, create a different kind of provocation with their fragrances: a more subversive and sensual allure. All of those dynamics were on display Thursday evening when Saks New York welcomed Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren for their unveiling of BONBON—their long-awaited fragrance followup to Flowerbomb—now available exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue.

BONBON is exactly as it sounds: a sweet, confectionery treat for the senses, though it dries into something far more sensual and risqué. Its bottle, a sculptural bow tie, perfectly camouflages this Lady Danger aspect hidden within the scent. This was the Dutch provocateurs’ intention, they told us, as they took a moment away from their legion of fans and fashion insiders to discuss that intriguing play of “tension between things that don’t match.”

Your apparel collections are intellectually provocative, while your fragrances play to the edge of sensual provocation. Can you elaborate on the specific points of inspiration for your fragrances?
V&R: Perfume starts with language – we take an intellectual approach, first: playing on the tension between things than don’t match…perfume tells a story, and we enjoy being storytellers.

We understand that esteemed perfumiers, Serge Majoullier and Cécile Matton, helped develop BONBON. How involved were you in its creation?
V&R: We were very involved. We started with the name, which we settled on right away, and knew that we wanted something sweet…it was a pleasurable process for us. There was a precise direction around caramel, but then of course, we had to make a fragrance, and refine the scent to a perfect vision. Our scents may be successful because we feel as strongly about our scents as our customers do.

What are some key notes in BONBON for our Saks perfume connoisseurs?
V&R: There is an addictive and buttery caramel note with sexy undertones.

What are your most poignant fragrance memories, good, bad or ugly?
V&R: The old Shiseido and Dior perfume ads that we saw as kids were so impressive, and are the reason we went into fashion! They were poetic…they were stylized imagery.

Your couture collection was somewhat inspired by the new BONBON bottle. How do your fragrance and clothing businesses overlap aesthetically?
V&R: Fragrance is the border between skin and clothing. And like clothing, fragrance is conceptual and glamorous.

What’s on the horizon for a Viktor&Rolf Spring Break?
V&R: Surfing in L.A.!

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Lights, Camera, Fashion

The New York Fashion Film Festival unspools in Chelsea.

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Irreverence, fantasy, and an electrifying bass reverberated at the 5th annual New York Fashion Film Festival last week in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood. Filmmakers, photographers and the fashion crowd packed the SVA Theater, and our own Saks Fifth Avenue editors sat front and center.

Co-founded by photographer Bon Duke, he says the festival began “out of pure will to expose what was out there and show them on a big screen compared to a small device.” This year’s edition screened 16 films, followed by fashion stalwart and iconic editor/writer Glenn O’Brien’s panel discussion about whether the showcased works were, in his words, “really films or merely screen-savers”.

On the eve of New York Fashion Week, veteran fashion consultant Julie Gilhart deliberated on the intense and fast impressions the films make: “We all see so many runway shows, and when it’s over, it’s over. [Fashion Week] is a grueling schedule. I’d rather watch a film.”

So what were the panelists’ favorites? Steven Meisel’s Show Girl, featuring an anti-fashion burlesque dancer, proved to be O’Brien’s, while Gilhart’s pick was Pierre Debusschere’s abstract Holy Flowers – Fade Into You. Photographer Cass Bird endorsed Habib Yazdi’s Somewhere in America and Matt Lambert’s The London Collections for their documentary-like portrayals of fashion in “real life”, and Sylvain Labs founder Alain Sylvain, sheepishly smiled and professed to “enjoy the hip hop.”

Four panelists, each with their own favorites. Go figure: in fashion, film, and fashion films, everyone has a feeling, but no one has a magic formula.


Exclusively Jason Wu

The designer introduces his Saks-exclusive capsule collection at Saks New York.

It was a banner night at Saks New York on Thursday, when Jason Wu and Hal Rubenstein of InStyle magazine introduced the designer’s Saks-exclusive Resort 2014 capsule collection to a lucky few Wu obsessives. And what can Saks shoppers expect? An array of scooped-back/demure-front day-to-evening dresses, for starters. “We used the print from the main resort collection,” Wu told us. “And we always kept the Saks customer in mind.”

As always, the wunderkind designer furthers his classic-with-a-twist: Wu clearly believes in refinement and craftsmanship in a fashion world dominated by downtown-cool. “I strive for utter sophistication,” he told the crowd. “It’s something you always want to be.”Rubenstein agrees: “Fashion as of late has either been cerebral or street, so I got excited about Jason because he’s polished. He is an old soul in a very young body.”

Jason Wu’s Resort 2014 Capsule Collection is available exclusively at select Saks stores and Saks.com.

It was a banner night at Saks New York on Thursday, when Jason Wu and Hal Rubenstein of InStyle magazine introduced the designer’s Saks-exclusive Resort 2014 capsule collection to a lucky few Wu obsessives. And what can Saks shoppers expect? An array of scooped-back/demure-front day-to-evening dresses, for starters. “We used the print from the main resort collection,” Wu told us. “And we always kept the Saks customer in mind.”

As always, the wunderkind designer furthers his classic-with-a-twist: Wu clearly believes in refinement and craftsmanship in a fashion world dominated by downtown-cool. “I strive for utter sophistication,” he told the crowd. “It’s something you always want to be.”Rubenstein agrees: “Fashion as of late has either been cerebral or street, so I got excited about Jason because he’s polished. He is an old soul in a very young body.”

Jason Wu’s Resort 2014 Capsule Collection is available exclusively at select Saks stores and Saks.com.


Roger Vivier, Ahead of the Curve

Designer Bruno Frisoni introduces the comma-shaped Virgule heel at Saks New York

Within the world of chic French shoes, there’s a new girl in town. She’s cool and irreverent, looks good in metallics and mink, and is at home on Rue St. Honore and Madison Avenue. Her name is Virgule, and she’s the latest design from Roger Vivier. Literally meaning “comma”, the Virgule gives pause with a curvy, comma-shaped heel modeled after Monsieur Vivier’s original 1963 design. Luckily, the new look has enough je ne sais quoi to turn even the most seasoned style doyenne’s head, as designer Bruno Frisoni found when he introduced it at a benefit luncheon at Saks New York this week. How did the original Virgule heel come into play when you created this latest design? Frisoni: The Virgule is iconic. It’s a…

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Within the world of chic French shoes, there’s a new girl in town. She’s cool and irreverent, looks good in metallics and mink, and is at home on Rue St. Honore and Madison Avenue. Her name is Virgule, and she’s the latest design from Roger Vivier.

Literally meaning “comma”, the Virgule gives pause with a curvy, comma-shaped heel modeled after Monsieur Vivier’s original 1963 design. Luckily, the new look has enough je ne sais quoi to turn even the most seasoned style doyenne’s head, as designer Bruno Frisoni found when he introduced it at a benefit luncheon at Saks New York this week.

How did the original Virgule heel come into play when you created this latest design?
Frisoni: The Virgule is iconic. It’s a design from Roger Vivier himself that we reimagined with a newer, elongated silhouette. I was interpreting and reinventing a favorite from our archives.

Vivier shoes have always been linked to fashion icons like Catherine Deneuve, Brigitte Bardot & Tilda Swinton. Does anyone come to mind when you think of the Virgule?
Frisoni: I don’t want to exclude anyone, so really, anyone with a sense of fun and cool can wear this shoe. It’s designed for anyone with the attitude to wear it!

Is there a fantasy Vivier shoe not yet designed?
Frisoni: Well, there are so many points of inspiration. Obviously, new and fresh is the ideal, so my style is always evolving…

Roger Vivier shoes & handbags are available at select Saks Fifth Avenue stores.

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JINsoon: A Fine Polish

Jin Soon Choi is nailing it at Saks New York’s 10-day pop-up nail bar

Earning the moniker “Bicycle Jin” in her early days as an emerging, biking-to-clients manicurist, Jin Soon Choi is now known to nail polish addicts and fashion insiders as the manicurist to the stars. But it wasn’t always this glamorous: upon arriving in the US from Korea with few resources, Jin admits “I was faced with three options to make a living: dry cleaning, delis, or nails. I chose nails.” With a vision to revolutionize the in-and-out NYC nail salon, Jin established herself with a loyal following among the fashion and celebrity set. In 2012, she launched a line of JINsoon polishes, all of which—plus an exclusive holiday collection—are available at Saks New York’s ten-day pop-up nail bar. But rest assured, Jin isn’t going anywhere: with…

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Earning the moniker “Bicycle Jin” in her early days as an emerging, biking-to-clients manicurist, Jin Soon Choi is now known to nail polish addicts and fashion insiders as the manicurist to the stars. But it wasn’t always this glamorous: upon arriving in the US from Korea with few resources, Jin admits “I was faced with three options to make a living: dry cleaning, delis, or nails. I chose nails.”

With a vision to revolutionize the in-and-out NYC nail salon, Jin established herself with a loyal following among the fashion and celebrity set. In 2012, she launched a line of JINsoon polishes, all of which—plus an exclusive holiday collection—are available at Saks New York’s ten-day pop-up nail bar. But rest assured, Jin isn’t going anywhere: with three NYC salons and a roster of celebrity clients, her nail revolution is moving faster than a New York Minute.

Any advice for the nail-painting challenged?
Choi: Shape your nails, take your time, and use slow and steady brushstrokes.

What’s chic for nails this fall?
Choi: Finishes are either shiny or matte. Nail art isn’t going anywhere, but stay away from childish designs…I like to keep my nail art simple, elegant and sophisticated.

Please name-drop: fave celebrity clients?
Choi: Julianne Moore is down-to-earth; Kerry Washington is a really fantastic person; Anne Hathaway and Michelle Williams are great…basically all the really nice people. That’s the most important thing.

The JINsoon Nail Bar, featuring complimentary polish changes, is open at Saks New York through October 16. The Holiday Toppings 2013 Collection is available exclusively at Saks New York.

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Home Swede Home

Stockholm-based J.Lindeberg settles in at Saks Fifth Avenue

Picture a room peppered with chiseled Nordic men donning skinny suits and sipping ”neat” Mackyra whiskey, and you’ve envisioned the J. Lindeberg man. Luckily, all were accounted last week as our New York store celebrated the Swedish label’s debut at Saks. Founded in 1996 as a stylish answer to stodgy golfwear, J. Lindeberg has undergone something of an overhaul at the hands of head designer Jessy Heuvelink. Saks Men’s Fashion Director Eric Jennings is totally on-board. “We had five J. Lindeberg windows along Fifth Avenue and received a great response – that says something. We feel strongly about the brand and its future, and they should be proud.” So what exactly is that future? When prompted, Heuvelink makes a sweeping gesture toward his own ensemble:…

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Picture a room peppered with chiseled Nordic men donning skinny suits and sipping ”neat” Mackyra whiskey, and you’ve envisioned the J. Lindeberg man. Luckily, all were accounted last week as our New York store celebrated the Swedish label’s debut at Saks.

Founded in 1996 as a stylish answer to stodgy golfwear, J. Lindeberg has undergone something of an overhaul at the hands of head designer Jessy Heuvelink. Saks Men’s Fashion Director Eric Jennings is totally on-board. “We had five J. Lindeberg windows along Fifth Avenue and received a great response – that says something. We feel strongly about the brand and its future, and they should be proud.”

So what exactly is that future? When prompted, Heuvelink makes a sweeping gesture toward his own ensemble: a rock-n-roll-meets-tailored look, complete with a fitted J. Lindeberg jacket, skinny jeans, spiked smoking slippers and wrist cuffs. In other words, rockstar charisma, with or without a golf club.

Head designer Jessy Heuvelink on…

The future: “I want men to have fashion options, and I want our brand to reflect that; I see us evolving into more chic, streetwear-based designs – like what I am wearing (smiles).”

The difference: “Swedish style is very minimal and clean, but J. Lindeberg is different. We use technical fabrics, which represent our sportswear history, and I feel that our label can be worn by everyone and anyone.”

The style: “Swedish style has always had a very simple and chic philosophy, but recently, we’ve been well-received in the U.S. We’re very excited about that!”