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Welcome to Fashion Originators, a podcast hosted by me, Stephanie Irwin. Every other week, I interview game-changing fashion entrepreneurs. Each episode, THEY share their wins, losses and wisdom – all to inspire your career and personal goals.

#FashionOGNews: Alexa Chung Netflix Show, Gucci Sikh controversy, Fenty Maison CEO named?

#FashionOGNews: Alexa Chung Netflix Show, Gucci Sikh controversy, Fenty Maison CEO named?

Photo: a still from Alexa Chung’s video series with British Vogue

I know, I know -- it has been a while! On the latest edition of #fashionognews, I’m sharing my thoughts on topics from the Gucci Sikh headpiece controversy to Alexa Chung’s new fashion Netflix show.

As always, I hope you guys enjoy the news update and all the stories I hand-picked this week (with a sprinkle of sassy commentary -- naturally).

Audio companion to this blog post can be found at the bottom of the page *

Alexa Chung netflix show

Alexa Chung and Tan France from Queer Eye are going to debut a Netflix show together! Called Next in Fashion, the show features 18 designers who complete challenges each episode, each one focusing on a trend. Now this isn’t project runway -- the contestants are already established (supposedly) and work for celebrities and big brands alike. If they win, they could receive $250,000 and the opportunity to debut their collection on Net-a-Porter.

I LOVE Tan, I think he’s hilarious and has a genuine personality. As for Alexa, I’m not a huge fan. I loved all the fashion career videos that she did for British Vogue, and I did find her quite quirky and unique, but a recent in-person experience with her made me like her less. While I didn’t talk to her one-on-one, I went to a talk she did at Harvey Nichols a couple of months ago -- specifically relating to her namesake brand, which isn’t exactly doing well right now -- word on the street. Let’s just say this talk was a total waste of £12. I literally took Alexa Chung off my pinboard of fabulous female mentors in fashion afterwards. She had nothing worthwhile to say, and she seemed like she would’ve rather been somewhere else. Nonetheless, if the show is heavily scripted, as the British Vogue videos must’ve been, I think it will do well -- and hopefully help her brand survive financially.

Kering stops hiring models under 18

Kering has announced that they will no longer hire models under the age of 18. Coming into effect in 2020-2021 (probably because of existing contracts / projects with models under 18) this will impact brands such as Gucci and Saint Laurent.

To further explain this change, Francois Pinault says he wants Kering to set an example, and to ‘start a movement’ within the luxury sector. For Kering’s Chief Sustainability Officer, "The physiological and psychological maturity of models aged over 18 seems more appropriate to the rhythm and demands that are involved in this profession."

I think this is long, long overdue. This issue hits quite close to home because my sister used to be a model from the age of 13 to 17. I have witnessed, firsthand, how toxic the modelling industry is not only onset and diet-wise, but how this mindset can impact a young girl for the rest of her life. This is something I still grapple with -- working in and loving an industry that messed with my sister’s self-esteem and well being so much at a young age.

Gucci Sikh headpiece controversy

While Kering are setting an example with their new model policy, they are under fire thanks to a certain headpiece from Gucci. Retailing at a cool £790 on Nordstrom.com (yikes!), the ‘Indy Full Turban’ is part of the same collection that featured the polo neck that many deemed as resembling black face.

Those amongst the Sikh community are (understandably) annoyed, the Sikh Coalition stating that turbans are is a ‘sacred article of faith’ rather than ‘just a fashion accessory.’ Once the controversy was brought to light, the name of the product was changed to a ‘full head wrap’, then subsequently removed from the Nordstrom site.

What surprises me most about this story ( and the blackface polo neck story) is that this collection debuted in 2018, and nobody said anything. It’s amazing how on the internet, controversies can arise so instantly through one person realizing something that happens to be click-bait-y; whether it’s a collection that has been out for ages, or a controversial tweet an actor made ten years ago. The real problem here is that the fashion industry itself, not just Gucci, is still incredibly homogenous. If it wasn’t, issues like this would’ve come up far closer to the debut of the collection itself.

Maison Fenty names key executive

After a ton of hype, the secret Rihanna x LVMH ‘Project Loud France’ has finally been revealed -- the Fenty Maison (a luxury fashion house with Rihanna at the helm -- first backed by a black woman, and first house backed by LVMH since Christian Lacroix in the 80s).

As of two days ago (I’m writing this on Sunday May 19th), Veronique Gébel has been appointed to lead Fenty. With a CV featuring the likes of Louis Vuitton and Fendi, Veronique has a long history with LVMH, and it underlines how seriously LVMH are investing in this project.

In regards to the Fenty Maison on the whole, this will be an incredibly fascinating experiment — can a celebrity really launch a luxury house? Even Kanye West, who has his expensive Yeezy line, I wouldn’t exactly deem Yeezy amongst the likes of Fendi and Saint Laurent quality-wise. Celebrity brands are usually more contemporary / commercial, so this will be a fascinating one to watch. For me, I think Rihanna is putting too much on her plate (singing career, Savage x Fenty, Fenty Beauty) etc. That being said, if she has the right team, maybe anything could be possible?

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