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A NEW DAY The designer Lars Nilsson with pieces from his collection.
“The Nine Lives of Designer Lars Nilsson”,”description”:”Mr. Nilsson, a designer known for leaving jobs almost as spectacularly as he enters them, is making a comeback with a new men\u2019s wear collection.
YOU might be surprised by the number of globetrotting fashion-industry professionals who, almost paradoxically, suffer from profound phobias of airplanes — among them Hedi Slimane, the former men’s-wear designer for Dior, and Alexandra Shulman, who once said she had not flown for a decade before she was the editor of British Vogue. Another one, the designer Lars Nilsson, has a theory about a fear of flying, which is true in his case.
Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times
“People who are control freaks cannot stand flying on airplanes,” he said. “It is the one place where you have no control.”
In 1998, shortly before he would take a trip that would change his life, Mr. Nilsson was a young Swedish designer living in Paris and working behind the scenes in the couture studio of Christian Dior. He had known there were higher-profile jobs to be had in New York, but he was too anxious to get on a plane. So his friends insisted he take a self-help course to overcome his fears, which at least steeled his nerves for the flight to New York and into the offices of Ralph Lauren.
He got the job, and a year later, it led to an offer from Bill Blass (the design house), where he became the head designer in 2001. Despite this success, Mr. Nilsson had not exactly conquered his phobia or control issues.
Which perhaps helps to explain why he is on his fourth job in the last 10 years. As anyone who has followed his career will recognize, he is a designer known for leaving his jobs almost as spectacularly as he enters them.
At Blass, he was fired the day after his fall 2003 runway show. (The reviews had been middle of the road. Women’s Wear Daily said, “He did not announce any one point of view distinctly enough.”)
At Nina Ricci in Paris, which he joined that fall, he was unceremoniously replaced by Olivier Theyskens three years later. At Gianfranco Ferré in Milan in 2008, he was let go days before he was to present his first women’s collection — an event that rivals the Lindsay Lohan fiasco last fall at Emanuel Ungaro for the shortest designer tenure in fashion history.
In each case, Mr. Nilsson was criticized by management for demanding too much control. Michael Groveman, the former chief executive of Blass, said then that Mr. Nilsson’s designs “reflected a radical departure from the spirit of the house.”
Now, almost improbably for those unfamiliar with the nine lives of fashion designers, he is back — this time with a new men’s-wear collection, Mr. Nils, which is being produced by the Italian manufacturer Mabro. It will be in stores in July.
Last year, after lying low for several months, Mr. Nilsson said he was approached by an owner of the Mabro factory with the idea to start its own label. In January, his first collection was shown to mostly strong reviews at the Pitti Uomo trade show in Florence, Italy. (“A classic, tailored collection of easy, well-made men’s wear,” Fashionista.com said.)
“It was really, for me, an ideal situation,” Mr. Nilsson, 43, said in a recent interview in the lobby of the Ace Hotel in New York, during a layover on his way to Savannah, Ga. — by way of a 14-hour train ride. For one thing, he explained, since there was a real factory with more than 300 employees in Grosseto, Italy, the clothes he designed could actually be produced, which has not always been the case in his career. For another, the men’s collection was a relatively small project with a few chefs, compared with his prior work for Blass, Ricci and Ferré, where he said he was constantly answering to the demands of his bosses.
“Two decades ago, if you took over a house as the designer, everyone followed you,” Mr. Nilsson said. “Today, it is more complex. Management is always worried — is the designer doing the right thing? And so they bring in a stylist, and then they bring in consultants, and all of them have ideas. I’m not saying these people are wrong, but it can be too many people.
“I know at the end of the day it’s only numbers,” he said. “But you have got to have a strategy.”
The new collection, focused on men’s wear, has made for a more manageable comeback opportunity. And it has given him time to pursue interests like a furniture line he has been developing in Sweden, which he left at 18 to study fashion in Paris.
It was not lost on Mr. Nilsson that his reputation had been damaged, in particular, by the Ferré incident. He is well liked among fashion’s top echelon of editors and retailers, and certainly he is a designer with talent. He is an exceptional tailor. But his dismissal, less than six months after he was hired to take over the Italian label, led to whispers that he was out of his league. A report in Women’s Wear at the time cited friction over the collection, ad campaigns and the hiring of blue-chip stylists and image makers.
Mr. Nilsson doesn’t see it that way. He said the company tasked him with designing its diffusion denim collection, which has a bit of a glitzy Euro-edge, when he should have been working on the high-end runway designs. He wanted to live up to the architectural elegance set by Mr. Ferré. But the company said its retail clients responded poorly to his first precollection and men’s-wear designs.
“There was certainly no lack of direction from management,” Michela Piva, the chief executive of Ferré, said in a written response. “We can elegantly declare that Mr. Nilsson’s vision of the direction of the brand should have undertaken was not shared by the clients and subsequently by the management, reason for which we were forced to part ways.”
Mr. Nilsson said that there was too much confusion. “Why did they hire me to be a designer, and then want me working on acid-washed jeans and things with rhinestones?” he said.
In the last two decades, it was a standard path for designers to build enough buzz and support from influential editors in order to become creative directors at houses where the founder was out of the picture, with the goal of creating a revival like at Chanel or Dior. Among this new crop were Alber Elbaz at Lanvin, Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton and Tom Ford at Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent.
However, that model came into question after designers began to move around so quickly and often that very few of the revivals could be called successful. And yet for designers, there was always another house or backer, which led to situations like Mr. Nilsson’s; take Peter Dundas (formerly of Ungaro and Revillon, now of Pucci) or Mr. Theyskens (late of Ricci and Rochas, now looking). Mr. Nilsson faces reminders of his past when he returns to Italy, where he felt as if he had been run out of the country after Ferré, or in New York, where he shows his collection in the Chelsea offices of MD70, which is on the same floor of the Starrett-Lehigh Building as the offices of Nina Ricci. And yet buyers have been open to his new venture in a way that surprised even the designer. He has sold the collection to Project No. 8b, the men’s store on Orchard Street in New York, as well as to Colette in Paris, the Dover Street Market in London and United Arrows in Tokyo.
There was never any question about his support of the Mr. Nils collection, he said. Elizabeth Beer, Mr. Janusiak’s partner, added that they were attracted by the fabric quality and the modern twist on classic men’s wear. “How developed it was as a first collection was super encouraging,” she said.
Over time, even some of his critics have softened on whatever it was that caused such friction when Mr. Nilsson was in the design room. Haresh T. Tharani, an owner of Blass with Mr. Groveman at the time, said that he had come to see Mr. Nilsson as a wonderful designer and that his rough experiences may have given him a better sense of the business.
“After Nina Ricci, we spent a lot of time talking about the environment — what is the new designer business, who is the new designer customer,” Mr. Tharani said. “He clearly has a very good grip on that.”
In the MD70 offices, Mr. Nilsson shows roughly 150 pieces, including tailored suits and casual sportswear. Part of the collection’s appeal is the price, with suits from $900 to $1,500 — about half of what many other new men’s designers charge. His shirts cost $300 and sweaters up to $900, depending on the material.
But there are two things about Mr. Nilsson’s new designs that really stand out. Every item has interesting detail, like pockets set upside down on a coat, a tuxedo jacket that is half lined with white cotton or a tie that is knitted and finished like a sock. And they look like clothes made by a designer who is in control.
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I think everyone should invest in a vintage watch like a Patek Philippe Ref. 1518 in steel – $1,000,000 I know it’s pricey, but what a classic watch.
As I was out and about today talking to people like I usually do I get this question, “How’s the real estate market?” Well this question all depends on which market you’re interested in. Are you buying, selling or investing? That conversation turned into a potential client and new friend.
After my last post another question came up about how to maintain your wardrobe. Well…I like to refer you to the AskMen.com Style Bible for this question. They do a great job of explaining how to care for your wardrobe, and just like anything else you care about, it just needs a little TLC.
Rotate your clothing
The natural fibers of finely made clothes need to rest and breath in between outings. Sweaters, shirts and trousers need a break, but men’s suits always need a vacation. AskMen.com’s Style Bible strongly suggests that suits get a day off before being worn again. This will prolong the life of any suit no matter the thread count. Wool suits, in particular, stretch and move with you, but continuously wearing a suit causes tension in the weave. Rotating suits and blazers also helps the stitching remain strong. A single day on a cedar hanger lets the fibers relax and regain their shape — this also lets your clothing breathe and expel odors picked up along the way. If at all possible, you should try to hang your suit outside for an hour. The fresh air and circulation will do it wonders, and this won’t cost you a dime.
Hang your clothes
It’s far too easy to slip into the boyhood habit of tossing your clothes into a corner of your bedroom at the end of the day, but this will do far more harm over the long haul than anything else to your clothes. Even if you haven’t been out in the rain, your clothes pick up moisture from you and they need to be hung up immediately to hold their shape and dry without becoming musty and disfigured.
Wash your clothes properly
Our next fashion tip on how to maintain your wardrobe involves learning how to wash your clothes the right way by separating colors and materials into groups. Water temperature is another factor. Yes, you should read the labels, but more importantly you also need to close zippers and turn the clothes inside out. This little step protects the outside from being bruised and scuffed by the machine. Next, fill the machine with water and a liquid detergent and allow it to mix thoroughly before dropping in your clothes (while this might not always be possible with front-loading washers, a top-loader works perfectly for this technique). These are quick little steps that, over time, pay off in a big way.
Two more AM rule refresher tips you need to learn to maintain your wardrobe.
Dry cleaning and clothing care symbols
One of the most comprehensive sections of AskMen.com’s Style Bible is the collection of clothing care symbols and their true meanings, along with suggestions about when to dry clean shirts and trousers, when to just do it yourself at home, and when to take your suits in. All of these are important things to know and provide you with a lifetime of great tips and advice. However, you must remember that all dry cleaners are not the same, and this section of AskMen.com’s Style Bible also guides you on finding a reputable cleaner, and the signs of a cleaner who needs to be avoided at all costs.
Ironing dos & don’ts
Before you put iron to cloth get ready first. Have a clean ironing board and cover it with starch, and read the clothing labels and symbols. If you’re like most readers of AskMen.com, you purchase your clothes from international vendors that use universal care symbols. Once your iron is ready, turn your clothes inside out if you haven’t washed them this way. Always begin with the collar and cuffs on a shirt, and the waistband on trousers. Never leave an ironed garment on the board or across a piece of furniture even if you are about to wear it. Hang it up until you absolutely need it; this preserves all of your ironing hard work.
don’t let your clothes wear you
As you’ll discover in the pages of AskMen.com’s Style Bible, there is much more to looking your best than buying the right clothes. You have to maintain your investment for both financial and sartorial reasons. You will spend money on a variety of items throughout your life, but none will have a greater daily impact than your wardrobe. Like it or not, we are often hired, hit on, seduced, and judged by our appearance. Having the resources to buy the best clothing means nothing without the knowledge of how to preserve your wardrobe. And a less expensive closet full of clothes carefully maintained will always trump the expensive but rumpled ensemble.
After a conversation between a friend of mine I decided to write about “At What Age Should You Start Dressing With More Class?”
He started off by asking me about brands like “Supreme”, “The Hundreds” and “Crooks & Castles” which are all fresh lines with a creative vision, but those are companies that manufacture urban wear marketed towards younger crowds and people in certain industries like the skate and hip hop industry.
Why Dress With More Class:
If you are in an industry that deals with meeting people face-to-face like the sales, marketing, real estate, architectural, law or any of the other related fields then how you dress, act and carry yourself is extremely important. You may wear a suit on the job, but it’s how you look off the job that may land you that big account. If you are out networking or even out with the kids or with friends you always want to look your best.
Now that doesn’t mean you have to wear a suit 24/7, but a nice pair of straight leg jeans, a dress shirt, loafers, and a blazer with a pocket square to add a touch of jazz will reassure your clients and colleagues that you a true professional around the clock.
Remember people judge you based on looks first. Which means looking your best is the first step.
Second is your presence and how well you carry yourself, Third is how well you communicate (I.e. Inviting body language, making eye contact, listening and remaining observant), Fourth is impact, leave a lasting impression in the minds of your clients by dressing with purpose, exude positive energy, command attention and be a specialist in your field. People want to know that you are the complete package if they are going to invest in you and your company.
True professionals master these steps and true professionals look their best all the time.
1. Image – look sharp all the time.
2. Presence – stand with confidence and command presence.
3. Communication – great leaders are great communicators.
4. Impact – Be the specialist in your field.