Eden Dersso Is the Changing Face of Tel Aviv’s Hip-Hop Scene

April 4, 2019 in Fashion

I’m sitting inside Edmund Café, one of the few vegan coffee shops in Tel Aviv, as Eden Dersso raps at me in Hebrew. The 21-year-old Israeli-Ethiopian artist is seated on a bench in a huge, highlighter-yellow puffer coat and a spandex crop top, her braids knotted up with a black bandana as she grooves to the verse. Her flow is captivating—rapid and light, like the ticking hand of a clock or a boxer working away at the bag, slugging it with a knockout hook every few beats. In the quick stream of Hebrew, I can make out only one English term: hand job. Dersso uses it figuratively to describe the way she can handle a mic, which admittedly is pretty amazing. At the end of the verse, our group—which includes her manager, photographer Orit Pnini, and me—erupts in cheers.

Over the past year, Dersso has become a sensation in the city’s small but growing rap scene, yet she has spent her whole life preparing for this meteoric rise. She hails from the town of Rehevot, about 30 minutes south of Tel Aviv, and grew up with five brothers, who were fans of Tupac and Lil Wayne. “I didn’t know Beyoncé,” she explains. “We had posters of Tupac in the house.” Dersso began rapping in the 7th grade, using it as an emotional outlet. “[I’d rap about] if someone hurt me, [about] wanting to get out of my house and the hood,” she says. “Or if my life was too boring, I would just use my imagination.” She began writing lyrics in English and uploading her rap videos to Facebook. At 16, after she heard local artists rapping in Hebrew, she switched over. “The Israeli rappers were really good, and I thought maybe I could do the same in Hebrew,” she says. Eventually, Dersso was noticed by Tel Aviv–based musician DJ Mesh, who invited her to join his label, Shigola Records, and produced one of her biggest music videos to date: “Busses,” in which she uses buses as a metaphor for people’s opinions, weighing down and moving heavily around in her head. Another track, called “Amen,” is a mix of Dersso rapping and singing about a guy who’s stoned and who tricks her into saying “amen” to everything he wants. Most of her YouTube videos hover around 70,000 to 100,000 views—quite a feat for a rising Israeli artist—and she performs gigs several times a month.

Dersso’s captivating and provocative work is largely defined by two subjects. The first is her status as one of the country’s few female rappers. “I am the youngest rapper, so I always talk about it. I always rap that I am better than a man because they need to know. They need to know that a girl can do it better than them, and they don’t,” she says. “They expect me to come out sounding like Beyoncé, but I’m more like Tupac. And then I spit, I spit my heart out.” The second is her life as a black woman in Israel. Ethiopian culture is fundamental to Dersso’s music. Her family immigrated to Israel in 1992, among the wave of 125,000 Ethiopian Jews who settled in the country during the ’70, ’80s, and ’90s. Ethiopian Jews are considered to be one of the 12 lost tribes of Israel, as they had practiced Judaism in Ethiopia for centuries. After the country’s 1974 coup, Ethiopia’s leadership prompted violence against Ethiopian Jews, and they were granted full citizenship by the Israeli government; over the next three decades, Israel took covert actions to airlift Ethiopian Jews to safety.

Dersso’s background, like those of many immigrants and Israelis of color, has deeply affected her sense of identity. She tells me that she feels Ethiopian when she is in her community and very Israeli outside of it. “It was super-frustrating, because

Away’s Jet-Setting Cofounder Packs Like a Pro, Shops on the Go

March 18, 2019 in Fashion

says she’s not a fashion person, but her closet—filled with elegant pieces from The Row, Dior, and Proenza Schouler—tells a different story. The Away cofounder doesn’t dress to make a statement on the street, however; she is an aesthete with a love of architecture and Carl Auböck who appreciates the artistry behind the clothes. “I’ve talked to a lot of friends about trying to use fashion as self-expression. They’re really into trends and what’s going on, and that’s just never resonated with me,” she said on the phone from Away’s New York offices. “I’m interested in how good design makes me feel.”

This focus on craft is reflected in Away’s core philosophy. The brand’s ubiquitous suitcases are now found in airports around the globe, thanks to their thoughtful construction and affordable price point. Additionally, the minimal design and wide range of color options echo Rubio’s personal taste and affinity for investment pieces. She carefully considers each purchase and gravitates toward styles that will last for decades. “Even when I first moved to New York and I had no money, I would find myself saving up for things,” says Rubio. “When we were first starting the company and I was eating ramen and sleeping on [Away cofounder] Steph [Korey]’s couch, I still wore quality pieces that I loved. It was just that I had two outfits and I alternated them!”

These days, Rubio has a lot more options but remains averse to the clutter that comes with holding onto excess. “I’m quick to get rid of things,” she admits. “My little sister has an amazing closet [filled with] everything I’ve ever loved before!” As an online entrepreneur with a love of brick-and-mortar shopping, Rubio also makes sure to bring home something special from each new destination. “I love for every piece to have a story,” she adds.

Here, the jet-setting founder shares five tips to packing like a pro and shopping everywhere from Madrid to Marrakech.

Plan to shop around each unique destination.
I basically only shop when I travel. On every PR trip, I come back with bags. One reason is that I travel a lot to Europe for work, and a lot of the investment pieces I have my eye on are cheaper in Europe. I’m the tax-free queen! When I’m home, I’m a total homebody, and I’m either stuck working or with friends, so I don’t really shop when I’m in New York.

One of the big things that I love about shopping is the experience. In Madrid, it’s so architecturally interesting, and I feel like all the things that I’m excited about, like design and architecture and art, are all present in those stores and fully integrated into my travel.

The Future of Smart Fabric Is in This Fashion Historian’s Hands

March 7, 2019 in Runway

“After working for 25 years looking at the past, I can actually finally create the future,” said Pamela Golbin, upon announcing that she would be collaborating with Jacquard by Google as artistic director.

Until a few months ago, Golbin had been the longtime chief curator of fashion and textiles at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, where she mounted historical and contemporary exhibitions with inspired focus and widespread appeal. To kick off this next chapter, she will be overseeing a residency program that invites three artists to imagine new applications for Google’s innovative, connected fabric.

“It’s an incredible opportunity to get close to an infrastructure that is rarely accessible to most people and specifically to artists,” she said, adding that they will have “an accompaniment in that exploration that is second to none.”

Unsurprisingly, the specifics of this futuristic fabric remain confidential. What is known is that Jacquard by Google dates back to 2014 when Ivan Poupyrev invented the Jacquard yarn in the Google ATAP research lab with the assistance of artisans in Japan using the same machines that produce Japanese kimonos. Consisting of a conductive core, it can be blended with synthetic or natural fibers and then constructed into a “smart” garment—one early example being the Levi’s Commuter jacket that arrived on the market last year, two years after a prototype debuted.

Which begs the question, how come the residency is seeking out artists and not designers? The latter, Golbin explained, are limited by the body versus artists who can “start looking at larger areas or fields where [the fabric] could be applied.”

But the approach is synergistic, she said. Because the selected artists aren’t expected to be tech wizards as well, each will be paired with one of Google’s expert coders, with further guidance provided by Memo Akten, whose own art and research draws heavily on algorithms and computational systems.

As a neat multi-entendre bridging fashion, history, and technology, jacquard is known in fashion-speak as a type of woven fabric with an integrated, often textured, pattern design. But the name comes from its inventor, Joseph M. Jacquard, whose programmable, punch-card loom was the antecedent to digital compiling machines that were referenced by IBM when building the first computers. “It’s a beautiful story within the story because it comes back to France and the French luxury market,” said Golbin, eyes bright. “I think that’s how, once again, history best plays its role—as a trampoline to the future which literally it does within this project many times over.”

Golbin, whose father was an engineer, seems particularly excited about the pioneering aspect of this project. While Google Glass never really took off, she is convinced that intelligent fabric will prove far more universal in interest. “The technology, which is woven into the fabric, needs to be integrated in something else, so it’s not the finished design. It’s a proposal so that something else can be made of it, and I think that that’s the strength.”

For now, the Levi’s jacket features touch inputs and a tag that blinks and vibrates in sync with your phone. With Golbin’s curatorial eye, chances are we might soon be seeing something less gadget-y à la Minority Report/James Bond, and more unexpected and installation-based. “What can you do with all this technology?” she says with the wonder of someone who can’t wait to find out.

The open call runs through April 1, which allows roughly six months for the artists to visit Japan and realize their ideas in time for the next Paris Fashion Week.

Amber Valletta Celebrates a Major Milestone in Paris With Saint Laurent

March 2, 2019 in Fashion

Amber Valletta is frozen in time. No one would ever guess that the supermodel has been storming the catwalks for the last three decades, especially since she’s more in demand than ever. In December, Valletta closed Versace’s Pre-Fall 2019 show in New York wearing a version of the famous, dangerously low-cut dress she wore for the label’s Spring 2000 show. She walked for Prada and Proenza Schouler earlier in 2018 and continues to front campaigns for Saint Laurent. And last night, it was that particular French fashion house that threw Valletta a soiree in celebration of her thirty years in the business. She shared an image from the event on her Instagram in which she is captured in black and white standing in front of two giant macaron towers covered in sparklers. In her caption, she wrote: “Thank you to the entire Saint Laurent family for the amazing celebration of my 30 years in fashion! It was magical…”

To the party in her honor, Valletta wore a strapless micro mini dress designed by Anthony Vaccarello. The 45-year-old model looked as flawless as ever — cheers to her for working as hard in this business as she did when she first started out in the ’90s. Valletta is a supermodel who is not slowing down anytime soon and still taking the runway by storm after thirty fashionable years.

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March 2, 2019 in Uncategorized

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