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It's our second year here at Aspen Fashion Week—this time round, a four-day long showcase of winter 2011-2012 outerwear and skiwear featuring designers such as Jean Charles de Castelbajac for Rossignol, Number:Lab, Kjus, and Obermeyer.
The week kicked off last night with a pretty serious (for fashion week) panel discussion hosted by The Aspen Institute, an organization dedicated to fostering conscientious, values-based leadership, and featuring Lauren Bush, whose FEED Foundation is fashion week's official charitable partner, designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, and former SVP of IMG Europe Massimo Redaelli.
De Castelbajac led the panel with anecdotes about his work with celebrities and the Pope—and his aha-moment, when he realized the far-reaching democratizing powers of fashion.
"We're in a new age in fashion," de Castelbajac says. "In the 90s, fashion was more Machiavellian—more arrogant. Now, fashion is generous. What fashion brings to the world today is a real revolution."
From his background in the deep ecology movement of the 1970s, when de Castelbajac invented the quilted coat (1971), to his work with Iceberg in the 80s and the creation of the cartoon sweaters, to his work with Rossignol today, JCdC (as he asked the moderator to call him—to no avail) says: "A designer has to being something different to the world. He has to have a messianic mission. He is reflecting what society is going to be."
Bush talked about her work with FEED and how, at the project's inception, she was inspired by the idea of creating a consumer product that would have a "clear impact" on the issues of hunger and poverty in the world.
"A child dies every five seconds of hunger," Bush says. "A lot of young people want to give back and make a tangible difference, but just don't know how to get involved. We're offering people a way to give back—a measurable, meaningful donation—through consumer product."
The JCdC finale
The first show of Aspen Fashion Week belonged to Jean Charles de Castelbajac and his collaboration with Rossignol—a brilliant display of nouveau-ski prints and patterns in classic Castelbajac flair. Particular standouts include the men's red tartan—not a print, but an actual treated waterproof tartan fabrication that can withstand and protect against exposure to the elements—and the women's animal-motif knits and parkas. For his show, de Castelbajac flew in The Misshapes—direct from Paris, where they'd just wrapped up a series of shows and events for Karl Lagerfeld and Chanel—to provide the music for both the show and the afterparty at exclusive new lounge Casa Tua (yup, same Casa Tua as Miami).
(One of the things we really love about Aspen is how small and tight-knit this community is. For example, we love that one of the male models in the JCdC show turned out to be a waiter at Casa Tua.)
Today we're going to be checking out the Dannenman-Pure, Authier, and Kjus shows and meeting up with Bush at her new FEED bag launch. If you're a skiier, snowboarder, or winter sports enthusiast, stay tuned for more updates on what'll be in stores next winter! It's not just neons and black pants anymore, that's for sure.
For anyone who's heading out to Aspen soon (or is an Aspen enthusiast), there have been a few pretty significant retail movements out here over the past year. The Aspen Sojourner points out that 212 Gallery has relocated to 525 E. Cooper Avenue; B'Jewel fashion store has moved to 613 E. Cooper Avenue; Bandana Kids has moved into B'Jewel's old place at 103 S. Mill Street; homewares store Amen Wardy is now at 520 E. Durant Avenue; Ute Mountaineer took over the Amen Wardy space at 210 S. Galena Street. We also noticed at the standalone Under Armour store shuttered and the brand now has a shop-in-shop at Boogie's.
As for new boutiques, we're excited to check out the first US flagships of two European brands: Jet Set and Yves Salomon, both of which opened in the last year Stateside exclusively in Aspen. Jet Set is a Swiss brand of colorful, fashion-forward street-and-skiwear that seems to cater to a younger, edgier customer. Yves Salomon is the luxury French furrier that's previously collaborated with designers including Sonia Rykiel and Karl Lagerfeld. Aspen seems to be a popular testing ground for high-end retail concepts—Moncler had its only American store here for years before opening in San Francisco and New York in 2010—so we're keen to see these stores in person before they roll out across other major American cities.
Disclosure: Transportation and housing in Aspen provided by Aspen Fashion Week.
· Jean-Charles de Castelbajac [Official Site]
· Rossignol [Official Site]
· The FEED Foundation [Official Site]
· All Aspen coverage [Racked]