No Such Agency

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Last week, I ventured into Chinatown to visit the ready-to-wear showroom of No Such Agency, a boutique PR firm. They, along with a handbag brand and a lingerie brand, occupy the Triple A Loft, a cool, airy space filled with natural light. A zebra greeted me when I stepped out of the elevator, and I wandered past the mod yellow sofa and issues of WWD and Electrify in the lobby to the No Such Agency space, a charming area with a minimalist desk and table, an old-fashioned window, a floor-to-ceiling mirror, and six racks of samples. An intern greeted me and showed me around, telling me all about the collections.

I was immediately drawn to the Daniel.Silverstain rack. “I want to focus on this brand because I would wear every item here,” I stammered. I don’t always say this. Liking every item from a clothing brand is rare, in the way that it’s rare to enjoy every song in a music artist’s repertoire. What was it about these few items, hanging on a single steel rod, spaced a few inches apart? There was the recurrent pairing of black and white. There was the dramatic asymmetry, the kind that makes you feel perpetually a step ahead of the here and now.  There was the formality of each piece – being in my early twenties, I often like to dress older so I will be taken more seriously. And even though common prints and materials were used across items, as is typical for a seasonal collection, no two pieces blended together. There was nothing redundant, nothing forgettable. I could envision every item on myself, each one standing out on a crowded block, each one making a distinct impression.

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This is the Fall 2016 collection, shown last September as a see-now, buy-now presentation. Titled WHITE.CITY, it was inspired by the effects of the Bauhaus movement on Tel Aviv in the 1950s.

Me in the layered blouse, black pants, and crocodile-embossed shearling coat with separating panel in orchid. Though I prefer warm weather, I have always gravitated toward the grandeur of a long winter coat. All runway photos by Robert Mitra/WWD.  

Daniel Silverstain founded his luxury apparel brand in 2013. He takes inspiration from industrialism, modernism, and futurism. “I design to inspire women to be bold, to be courageous, to stand out, and to create a story of their own,” he says. Originally from Israel, Silverstain started his fashion career at the Israeli division of KEDS Kids in 2006, advancing quickly to Design Director. In 2009, he moved to New York to pursue a BFA in Fashion/Apparel Design at FIT. While in school, he interned at Marie Claire for a semester (see, even acclaimed designers pay their dues) and worked as an assistant designer at 3.1 Phillip Lim and a designer at Muuse and Elie Tahari.

He launched Daniel.Silverstain soon after graduating. Last year, he co-founded Flying Solo, a designer-owned retail incubator in Little Italy. Flying Solo provides a platform for startup brands to enter the brick-and-mortar market without selling to a retailer, which requires accommodating a retail markup and often supplying high minimum orders, or maintaining their own boutique, especially in New York where rents are high. Flying Solo is owned and operated by twenty-eight fashion brands.

     Daniel Silverstain Janelle Monae

Janelle Monáe, my favorite actress now that she’s an actress, in a Daniel.Silverstain coat for Cosmopolitan. Photo by Max Abadian.

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I recognized KUT from the Kloth from Nordstrom, where I sold their jeans in the Point of View department alongside brands like Caslon and NYDJ. I really enjoyed seeing the brand on its own, in its complete form. I always knew they had great-fitting jeans, but I didn’t know that they also had dresses, tops, jackets, and pants! I loved the profusion of florals, the pinstripes, the sweeping bell sleeves, and the whimsical paper bag waist on a pair of dress pants.

Me in the Luz blouse and Regina pants. Life Stride shoes.

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The effervescent bell sleeve of a pink blouse. 

KUT from the Kloth is based in Los Angeles. Their core focus is “to offer women of all shapes and sizes the perfect-fitting jean”. They started with the denim concept in 1977, but expanded to add sportswear in 2006. The company has a strong commitment to workers’ rights, requiring that all of their suppliers and vendors adhere to their Code of Ethics policy. They make sure to work only with factories that do not employ workers younger than 15, pay a fair wage, properly dispose of all hazardous materials, and have an environmental management system in place that includes disaster and emergency preparedness. After the Rana Plaza collapse, this is welcome to hear.

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The Ruthy dress and Rosie skirt. 

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The off-shoulder flutter sleeve dress and Adyson dress. 

You can find KUT from the Kloth on their website, Nordstrom, Dillard’s, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Century 21, Zappos, Bluefly, and many boutiques nationwide. As a resident of Bushwick who likes to shop at little shops, my source of choice is Néda in Park Slope.

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No Such Agency’s fashion showroom makes appointments for editors, stylists, celebrities, bloggers, and “micro-influencers” to select samples to borrow for photo shoots and events. The biggest appointment witnessed by the girl I talked to was from Vogue, to select pieces for a Karlie Kloss spread shot in Australia. Karlie Kloss has been my favorite model since this article in 2007, so I was pretty excited. No Such Agency keeps six brands at a time. The founders, “This British power couple”, consistently choose independent ready-to-wear brands “with a cool vibe”. They also have a showroom in Los Angeles.

Besides fashion, No Such Agency represents clients in the media, music, art, and lifestyle industries; in other words, everything creative and glamorous. The founders, Dan and Helena Barton, came from marketing at Diesel. Dan has worked at Maison Margiela and DSquared2. Helena has worked at Rag & Bone and All Saints. On the music side, she has worked for James Brown, The Strokes, Kings of Leon, and Franz Ferdinand.

Seen on the Runway — Purple

Purple Painting

You might think it’s winter (or summer, depending on where you live), but in the fashion world it’s Pre-Fall. Gone are the days when the majority of designers created only two collections per year, and this week the Pre-Fall shows are here to present the new products that will come to stores in May, June, and July. There were many trends to be seen across the runways, but perhaps the most striking was the explosion of purple. From lilac to fuchsia to plum to wine, this vivid color was everywhere.

I love purple. However, I don’t have that many purple clothing items. It’s not because I avoid the color, but because it is generally underrepresented in the fashion world. If you set out to find purple, you’ll find it. But if you just wander into a store or browse a website, it’s likely that you will not end up buying anything purple because the landscape is dominated by other colors. I had always sensed this, but I also confirmed it systematically. After looking through the first 300 clothing items listed on the brand-diverse polyvore.com, I found that only 3 percent of the items were purple. 79 percent of the new clothes listed were either black, blue, white, or grey.

There is a theory that people tend to form opinions about color based on the objects of that color that they see. Because we see so many different things every day, this process feels subconscious. Purple is a beautiful color, but we don’t really see much of it while out and about. Because of this, the color has developed connotations of fantasy, playfulness, and dream states. Unfortunately, it can also be associated with artificiality.

But come on, a purple coat isn’t like a purple Christmas tree. Fashion appeals to the emotions more than to practicality, and the task of a good designer is to create a wearable fantasy for the customer. After all, a fantasy is a fantasy before it happens, and as it happens.

Fendi Pre-Fall 2016

Fendi Pre-Fall 2016

Neutral brown accents make this purple coat even more vibrant.

Tory Burch Pre-Fall 2016

Tory Burch Pre-Fall 2016

Blue, orange, and wine go well together when unified by lace.

Escada Pre-Fall 2016

Escada Pre-Fall 2016

A short coat and sweeping skirt stand out in magenta.

Monique Lhuillier Pre-Fall 2016

Monique Lhuillier Pre-Fall 2016

As the backdrop of myriad tiny flowers, the magenta of this skirt is quite delicate.

Zac Posen Pre-Fall 2016

Zac Posen Pre-Fall 2016

Lilac panels look sophisticated on this sleek column dress.

Prabal Gurung Pre-Fall 2016

Prabal Gurung Pre-Fall 2016

The brightness of fuchsia brings attention to every pleat of this sweeping gown.

Temperley London 4

Temperley London

This dramatic fuchsia dress looks lit from within.

Red Valentino Pre-Fall 2016

Red Valentino Pre-Fall 2016

Plum goes folk with dainty ruffles and bird motifs.

Rebecca Taylor Floral Silk and Lace Camisole Dress

Rebecca Taylor Floral Silk and Lace Camisole Dress

An eggplant floral is subdued and romantic.

Zac Zac Posen Pre-Fall 2016

Zac Zac Posen Pre-Fall 2016

Three gorgeous purple hues give a conservative look new life.

Credits:

Fendi photo — Giovanna Pavesi;       Painting — fineartamerica.com;      All other photos — Courtesy Photo 

Detached, the Collection