NEW YORK — “This is a turning point for us,” said Monika Chiang.
With almost a year of business under her black-studded belt, Chiang has a better understanding of what consumers want. The brand, which is backed by Christopher Burch’s J. Christopher Capital LLC, is still very much a reflection of Chiang’s lifestyle and sensibility, which is sexy and feminine crossed with the elements of a hard-edged rocker.
“The brand is very authentic to how I dress,” she said.
“It helps that Monika has a strong voice,” added Terence Bogan, general merchandise manager. “She’s not indecisive at all. Monika is about the unexpected juxtaposition of things.”
“I know what I personally want. I’m always in heels,” said the 5-foot-9 designer, “but it’s inevitable that you have to wear flats sometimes.”
Leave it to Chiang to come up with a way to put some of the sex appeal of heels into sneakers and ballerina flats with a hidden wedge. “The hidden wedge gives you a certain posture,” she said. “It’s not overtly sexy, but you look a little better. For me, a heel is a mood booster.”
Chiang’s mood is already up. She said the company is entering “the next phase in our business development.” Some of the brand’s initiatives include its first ad campaign, consisting of a 30-second mini-film airing on Taxi TV during New York Fashion Week. Two freestanding stores will open in 2013, and Chiang continues to seek “the perfect space” on Madison Avenue. Bogan said 15 Monika Chiang units will be operating in the U.S. by 2015. Burch has said he plans to invest $15 million to $20 million in Monika Chiang over the next four to five years and that the brand will ultimately have 150 stores.
The company has a goal of increasing e-commerce’s share of total business from 8 percent to 15 percent. The site on Sept. 4 unveiled a facelift, with a major redesign and relaunch in early 2013. Chiang is also building a wholesale business. The brand is being represented by Showroom Seven. Intermix, its first wholesale account, is launching Chiang’s shoes this month.
Surprised by the positive response to apparel and jewelry — Chiang thought shoes and handbags would be the most popular — new categories are planned for spring, including lingerie, swimwear and performance athleticwear. “I’m very active myself,” Chiang said. “I don’t see anything cool that you can throw on to go to the gym. We’re also looking to expand dresses and ramp up with more tops.”
For spring, there’s a watersnake clutch with silver bullet closure, at $290, and a raja hobo in reptile-embossed matte leather, $550. True to her belief that “jewelry is about being bold,” Chiang designed a sapphire bejeweled body necklace, $395, gold spike necklace, $495, and gunmetal chain vest, $295. “We’ve been doing well with denim,” Chiang said. “We have an over-the-top embellished jean for $2,500. A sales associate in our L.A. office called and told me that a 13-year-old came in and bought a pair.”
As for the ad campaign, “I’ve wanted to do a mini film since the brand launched, but we hadn’t established the Monika Chiang woman yet,” Chiang said. It starts with a beautiful blonde holding a crocodile handbag and walking into an apartment to the strains of “Ave Maria.” Ignoring the handsome man sitting on the couch, she slips out of her dress and silver-capped high heels and puts on a long-sleeve black leather bodysuit, black leather gloves and silver spiked sneakers. While she works up a sweat with a medicine ball, the man, who’s been working up a lather on the couch, approaches, and she kicks a soccer ball toward him.
“It’s about power,” Chiang said. “I imagine people will think it’s provocative. I like to push the envelope.”
The campaign includes a billboard on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles and a full-page ad in Du Jour magazine.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast