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The Lake & Stars for H&M
Posted by richard | March 25, 2013
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The early report card for The Lake and Stars this season should read: “Plays well with others.”

Still flushed from all the praise that greeted their Valentine’s lingerie collection for Kate Spade, the New York indie label last week unveiled a big new collabo with Swedish mega-brand H&M.

The Lake and Stars was the first lingerie label chosen to be showcased by H&M’s newest retail brand, called & Other Stories. Launched in Europe last month, & Other Stories aims to bring H&M’s price-driven, fast-fashion strategy to the world of progressive (and higher priced) fashion by partnering with trendsetting designers on collaborative sets (which they call Co-Labs) as well as its own private label merchandise.

So far, H&M has opened & Other Stories locations in London, Copenhagen and Stockholm. More European stores are in the works, but it is unclear when the concept stores will reach North America or begin selling online here.

What is certain, though, is that this is a gigantic leap forward for The Lake and Stars, taking its inimitable mélange of art, politics, sexiness and fun to the streets of European capitals, where style is everything.

A year in development, the TL&S collection for H&M is a substantial one that is meant to introduce the European consumer to some of the label’s signatures (such as the hook-and-eye bra closures, below), its fondness for textured fabrics and its playful use off-kilter, asymmetrical lines.

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Some of the pieces in this lingerie-loungewear set will seem familiar to longtime TL&S fans in North America, but there are many new goodies that reveal the kind of out-of-the-box thinking the label is renowned for. Our favorite is the baby blue jumpsuit (main photo above), which seems purpose-built for some summertime lingerie-as-outerwear experimenting.

(Warning: This piece might be sold out; it has already disappeared from the H&M webshop. At the same time, TL&S is promising that more styles — including swimwear — will be posted as product reaches the stores.)

One of the advantages to the consumer from this sort of collaboration is the impact on prices: H&M is a world leader in the price-driven fast-fashion industry, and the & Other Stories spinoff aims to bring the same strategy to cutting-edge designer goods. The Lake and Stars pieces start around $15 (USD) for briefs and $30 for a soft bra — much, much lower than comparable goods in a U.S. boutique, though still above the bargain-basement prices you’re used to seeing at H&M.

The new collection was apparently influenced by “1960s revolutionary women” (that could be quite a crowd), and expresses themes of freedom and liberation with the interplay of bold straps and bits of hardware against soft pastel shades like coral and powder blue.

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In its promotional material for this set, H&M cites The Lake and Stars for its vision of a “fresh new femininity” based on “audacity and humor”.

The company also makes a point of drawing attention to designers Maayan Zilbermann and Nikki Dekker with glamorous in-store photos (above) and behind-the-scenes shots on their website. And why not? The gorgeous design duo project a kind of sexy-tough confidence that makes them ideal billboards for their own label.

“We like working with people who we like,” Anna Teurmell, the design head for & Other Stories, told Women’s Wear Daily to explain how the company selected its new indie collaborators. Which, if you recall, is almost exactly what Kate Spade said about why she chose The Lake and Stars for this spring’s diffusion line.

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If there’s any downside to this development, it’s that European girls will get their hands on these pieces long before North Americans do. The new H&M collabo appears to be the conspicuously ‘missing’ Spring 2013 collection from The Lake and Stars, which hasn’t delivered a full new set for the North American market in almost a year.

But this label is worth waiting for: with each new success, Maayan and Nikki seem to emerge creatively charged and brimming with new ideas that push their brand in previously unimagined directions. The future is so bright, in fact, that we strongly encourage them to include a line of TL&S branded sunnies with their next collection.

Here’s a gallery of some of the product range from the TL&S collaboration for & Other Stories — look for sleek bodysuits, chemises, a sweet satin robe and the fluttery, feminine blue crop top and briefs combo.

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The Lake and Stars’ Girly Show
Posted by richard | February 21, 2013
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Well, we didn’t see THIS one coming.

The Lake and Stars, the iconoclastic U.S. indie label, served up a Valentine’s Day surprise to fans of its edgy undies last week — a super-pretty five-piece capsule collection for Kate Spade New York.

And a very girly one at that: pale blush silk trimmed with bright neon pink and decorated with little pink bows.

Very romantic, very traditionally feminine and very unexpected from a trailblazing independent that is renowned for its statement-making, conceptual lingerie-as-streetwear collections.

The TL&S for Kate Spade collection includes a chemise, a sleep shirt, tap pants and bikini briefs, and a “signature” soft bra whose sheer nubbly mesh is the only thing reminiscent of past TL&S creations.

The obvious question about this collection is, what does The Lake and Stars have in common with the bright, tailored, primary-color world of Kate Spade? The answer is, more than you’d think.

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To mark her 20th anniversary in fashion and home design, Kate Spade sought out collaborations with designers she admires for a “Things We Love” series of limited-edition products. The idea was to create “special items inspired by some of our favorite things and made by our favorite people,” she says in her store blog.

At the very least, being asked to contribute was a huge compliment to TL&S design duo Maayan Zilbermann and Nikki Dekker and an acknowledgment of their substantial impact on New York fashion in general.

And they’ve followed this sort of path before, working with established brands as a way of expanding their own capabilities and, let’s be honest, getting their own name out there. Past TL&S collaborations have included a limited edition sneaker (!) with Nike, a menswear-influenced nightshirt with Seize Sur Vingt, and a diffusion lingerie collection for Urban Outfitters.

An interview with the TL&S team on Kate’s blog doesn’t give much insight into why they pursued this new style direction, although Nikki says she likes to use pink “to show a different side of what femininity can mean.”

It’s tempting to believe that comment is meant ironically; after all, proto-feminist fashion designers tend to avoid pink colorways for fear of reinforcing gender stereotypes and offending the sisterhood.

But Nikki and Maayan have always taken a broad, open-minded and exploratory approach to the role of lingerie in culture and society. They’ve played with off-pink statements in the past, but this time it’s as though they’re reminding themselves that there’s room for traditional expressions of femininity as well, regardless of how politically incorrect they might be.

I suspect this collection might alienate some TL&S true believers. But there is typically so much buzz about The Lake and Stars‘ unconventional, fashion-forward looks that people tend to forget there has always been a powerful emotional undercurrent in their work; The Lake and Stars have always been romantic warriors as much as feminist fashion standard-bearers or sexual adventurers. And, apparently, there’s room in their arsenal for little pink bows.

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So, back to our question: why Kate Spade, and why now?

Like anyone else working in fashion in New York City over the past 20 years, Nikki and Maayan couldn’t help but be drawn to Kate Spade’s enormously appealing aesthetic, even while pursuing their own radically different visions. And getting an opportunity to align themselves with a much-loved womenswear brand helps the pair bolster their cred as fashion designers first and foremost, not just subversive style renegades.

What they offer here is a small collection stripped of the complex hardware, interwining straps, arty references and geeky appeal that have defined The Lake and Stars thus far. Instead, this collabo gives them the opportunity to focus on exceptional tailoring and the challenge of creating something that is classically beautiful by anyone’s definition.

Longtime fans of the label might scratch their heads — the last TL&S collection referenced horror movies, video games and action figures — but by now they should have learned to expect the unexpected from a label that never does the same thing twice.

If the next collection from The Lake and Stars is made from burlap sacks or recycled tires, just remember we told you so.

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You don’t need a PhD in Japanese cultural studies to appreciate the new lingerie collection from The Lake & Stars, but it wouldn’t hurt.

The trend-allergic New York label borrows style cues from campy Japanese cult movies, anime and video-game avatars for its Fall 2012 collection. But you won’t find any Sailor Moon outifts here: these inner-outerwear pieces look like costumes for a new generation of battle-ready woman-warriors. Cute ones.

Designers Nikki Dekker and Maayan Zilberman are unrivaled when it comes to creating hip fashion uniforms for the culturally hyper-literate. But you can also skip right past all the allusions, footnotes and subtext that accompany each Lake & Stars collection and appreciate these pieces for what they are: strikingly original, fashion-forward, multi-functional underwear styles for private or public display, your choice.

And for devotees of this label (and there are many), here’s some huge news: the new collection includes several dresses, skirts and tailored tops that are meant to complement TL&S undies. It’s not quite the full ready-to-wear collection that so many people keep hoping for, but it’s a great start — and maybe a hint of what’s to come?

Despite its rather obscure origins, the new collection fits The Lake & Stars‘ well-established pattern of creating assertive, statement-making looks that manage to be both sexy and ever-so-slightly intimidating at the same time.

This time, that look was inspired by a kind of female role model that shows up repeatedly in Japanese cinema: the innocent, kawaii young heroine who transforms into a ferocious fighting machine and ends up leading a girl-fight against her oppressors.

North American audiences will recognize that stereotype from the character of Go-Go in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill (Vol. 1) — the sweetheart schoolgirl who turns into an almost unstoppable warrior. We don’t really have an equivalent stereotype in Western culture (although Sucker Punch tried) but it’s ubiquitous in Japan, where sex appeal and fighting prowess are two sides of the same blade.

Specifically, The Lake & Stars found their inspiration in the 1970 haunted house thriller Hausu (top photo above), and the 2000 fightfest Battle Royale (second photo), which also inspired the schoolgirl-army fight scene in Kill Bill and whose plot is an obvious antecedent to The Hunger Games.

In addition, the designers cite the more masculine heroines in combat-centric video games like Metal Gear Solid and Battlefield 3 among their sources.

“We … found strength this season in our Japanese avatars leading a youth revolution,” the designers wrote on their blog today. “The collection offers a relaxed take on a harder, more combative approach to femininity.”

What does that mean when it comes to lingerie styles? It means perforated microfiber and powermesh bodies and bra tops embroidered with contrasting Chantilly lace and floral jacquard; dramatic cutouts and surprisingly soft silhouettes; and colors ranging from bold blacks and crimson to a gentle caramel. Put all that together and you’ll see the interplay between the conventionally feminine and the righteously badass that The Lake & Stars is aiming for.

If it all sounds too geeky to be appealing, don’t worry. The Lake & Stars is still a fashion label first and foremost; you won’t find any titanium breastplates or marine fatigues among these nouveau superhero styles.

On the other hand, any one of these pieces could make you the best-dressed fangirl at Comic-Con.

Here are some shots from the new TL&S lookbook. You’ll have lots of fun figuring out what’s going on in the backgrounds! The RTW pieces are at the bottom, so prepare yourself for some serious gushing

What do the subjects in the much-discussed mother-daughter lingerie photoshoot have to say about the still-swirling controversy that has made them instantly recognizable?

We reached out to Johanna Methusalemsdottir, the Brooklyn jewelry designer who posed with her 19-year-old daughter India Menuez for the stark, three-image series promoting the fall lingerie collection from The Lake and Stars. Here’s what she told us:

“As much as I am tempted to respond to all the slandering me and my first born have endured this week, I have chosen to rise above it. It is very easy to bully people from behind a keyboard where you don’t have to answer for yourself … but people should just keep in mind that words can hurt very much and as a mother that is probably what upsets me the most.

“As for the campaign itself, it is a very well art-directed and conceptual campaign and every pose was very well thought out. I feel that the images are beautiful and don’t feel the need to defend them.”

Her daughter, she adds, “honestly does not care what these people think.”

Johanna and India are next-door neighbours of Maayan Zilberman, one of the founders of The Lake and Stars, which frequently uses (and supports) people from its broad network of creative friends in its projects. They’re not professional models, but when their mom-child relationship was revealed last week on style site Refinery29.com and then Huffington Post, it triggered an outpouring of hostility from readers and bloggers who found the images offensive.

We published a sample of comments earlier this week, and The Lake and Stars have kept their followers up to date by posting more outrageous clips from The Today Show and Fox News, which reported one expert’s ridiculous Freudian spin on the whole thing — including the “phallic” cactus in one of the photos.

Not all the feedback has been so venomous, though. Dutch impressionist painter Nop Briex turned one of the photos into a painting, which you can see here.

This episode has sparked quite a backlash against The Lake & Stars by the kind of people who probably wouldn’t be interested in their fun, thoughtful fashions in the first place. And, sadly, it could also have a chilling effect on other creative fashion types who might otherwise be inclined to try bolder marketing strategies — but don’t want to incur a backlash from Tea Party fashionistas.

But if anyone’s been genuinely hurt by this controversy, it’s probably India, the pretty redhead in the photos who is an aspiring film actress and art school student and not the sort of person you’d expect to see getting trashed by Kathy Lee Gifford. India has already starred in the indie short film Crocker and has modeled for her mother’s beautiful jewelry label KRIA — even in her undies. Strangely, no one complained.

Here are some more images from Kria’s 2011 collection Crustacean, for no other reason than both Johanna and India deserved to be noticed for the right reasons.

NOTES: The candid photo in the middle of this article is of Johanna and India, at the opening last week of The Lake and Stars new pop-up shop on Walker Street just south of Canal in New York. The shop is open for one more week.

Kria‘s unique, elemental designs can be found at a number of NYC boutiques or through their webshop.

The Lake and Stars are hosting a party tomorrow (Nov. 19, 4-6 p.m.) at their store to showcase the work of another NYC indie undies label, TEN. That’s what friends do.

Say what you will about The Lake and Stars, they sure know how to get people talking.

As we reported yesterday, the New York lingerie label’s most recent photoshoot, featuring a mother-daughter model duo, has sparked a growing controversy discussion about the appropriateness of the images, and the brand’s motives in using them.

Bloggers, journalists and hundreds of anonymous website commenters have weighed in on the subject, often with a visceral, deeply hostile response to both the models and The Lake and Stars. More thoughtful observers attempt to understand the photos and their context, but the widespread consensus seems to be that the images make people very uncomfortable. The word “creepy” is used a lot.

I’m not sure this is what they intended when they set out to “start a conversation” about family politics and intergenerational relationships, but then, to re-coin a phrase, no one ever went broke underestimating the tastes of internet lurkers.

For the record, we thought these polarizing photos were haunting, curious, and very, very smart. Now here’s a selection of viewpoints from other people, both editorial writers and website commenters.

Adrants.com (Editorial)
“Is there really a need to start a dialog about mothers and daughters hanging out together while wearing lingerie? This is yet another attempt by a fashion brand to “shock” and “surprise.””

UK Daily Mail (Public Comments)
“I certainly wouldn’t pose with my mother like that, no matter how good we look.”

“Next up, dads and sons in their undies. Gross.”

“They are both very beautiful, especially the daughter.”

“Extremely beautiful photographs of two extremely attractive women. Just why would anybody find these objectionable? There is nothing suggestive about them unless you wish to see perversion and evil in every situation.”

“I fail to see anything provocative in these pictures. I think they both look very beautiful and have gorgeous bodies.”

“Agreed the poses look a bit wooden and stilted, but apart from that I can’t see a reason for all the negative comments. If this mother and daughter were wearing bikinis on a beach no one would turn a hair. Except for the admiring looks of course!”

“It disgusts me to the very core of my being. What a terrible thing to do!!”

“Nothing wrong with this. What is more natural than photos of a mother and her daughter? No different if than if they were wearing swimsuits. A complete non-story.”

“Wrong on just about every level. Mothers should be setting standards for their children, and those should include modesty.”

Babble.com (Editorial)
“There are a lot of unanswered questions out there. And that’s just because they’re too trivial, stupid or inane to be asked in the first place. This is among them.”

Babble.com (Public Comments)
“They actually looked drugged or half dead over seductive, loving or tender to me. That vacant glazed look is rather creepy.”

“I certainly cannot imagine dressing like that and posing with my mom, and I love her with all my heart. Just wouldn’t be comfortable like that with her. But that is just me.”

BusinessInsider.com (Editorial)
Headline: “The Lingerie Ad That’s Making Everyone Barf”

“The brand needs to do something to draw attention to itself, otherwise no one would know it existed. Mission accomplished!”

Mommyish.com (Editorial)
“I just want to turn my head away and pretend I never saw them in the first place.”

Scallywagandvagabond.com (Editorial)
“What’s controversial isn’t that these two women appear half naked in the ad together but how they actually appear together. Or to be succinct, how they relate to each other, which in this case borders on incense.”

Scallywagandvagabond.com (Public Comment)
“I think this is beautiful. People who are afraid of it or make it into something is is not are living in fear of their own deep buried unlocked fantasies – just like homophobes usually have some deep gay fantasy and/or hate gays because they’re scared they might get turned on or like it. Any sexually healthy person will see this as beautiful, captivating, and not sexually intended – but a nurturing mother who obviously has a healthy attitude toward art and comfort and security in her relationship with her daughter.”

BlissTree.com (Editorial)
“Yep, advertising has reached a new low. … There’s a reason we don’t see a lot of that: It’s demeaning to women and our bodies. And it’s just plain gross.”

Mizozo.com (Public Comment)
“Sorry, but I fail to see the controversy. If the daughter was 13, I would understand, but she is 19 …. More power to the ladies … great job.”

FellowshipofMinds.wordpress.com (Public Comment)
“Truly, there’s no end to human perversity.”

Huffington Post (Public Comments)
“I’m sorry, both women seem more like mannequins than people. There’s no life in these pictures.”

“Very creepy. Tuesday Addams meets Stepford wife.”

“This is not new. Just add them to the pile of pedophilia­ds we have seen over the years.”

“The daughter looks ghoulish and the whole concept is creepy.”

“Good lord. This is the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen. Neither is especially sexy, but together — lolling all over each other — they are just skin crawlingly creepy.”

“Just kind of dumb. A smart publicity move, though. Lots of people love dumb.”

“I love the photo shoot, they possess a dense energy, darkly beautiful.”

“If a man and a boy did the same shoot what would the reaction be?”

“The pictures are reminiscen­t of early 90s heroin chic. Not attractive­, beautiful, or original in any way. And they both seem to be unnaturall­y thin.”

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