Every experience has a visual and experiential representation through photography, illustration, product, video, digital, and physical environments. THE FIRST PROOF is another look at the formation of these experiences, focusing equally on creation and creator. It serves as an analysis of the creative inputs and outputs, and its influence.

Observations on fashion, art, design, and creativity. 

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Walter Van Beirendonck at the Dallas Contemporary

The Dallas Contemporary presents Lust Never Sleeps - Silent Secrets, a presentation of Walter Van Beirendonck creations.

Walter Van Beirendonck is a Belgian fashion designer. He graduated in 1980 from the Royal Arts Academy in Antwerp. Together with Dirk Van Saene, Dries van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester, Marina Yee (graduated in 1981) and Dirk Bikkembergs (graduated in 1982) they became known as the Antwerp Six.

Since 1983, he issues his own collections. They are inspired by the visual arts, literature, nature and ethnic influences. His unusual color combinations and a strong graphic influence are characteristic for his collections. In 1997, he designed the costumes for the U2 "PopMart Tour". In 1999, he was awarded the honorary title of "Cultural Ambassador of Flanders".



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Francesco Russo and Sergio Rossi part ways


Sergio Rossi, the Gucci owned shoe label, loses it's designer. It would seem that Mr. Rossi would likely start his own label as it was reported that Mr. Rossi would like to ‘pursue other professional interests’.

As with every change at the design helm, it is a pivotal time for a brand. Sergio Rossi has been eclipsed by the Blahniks, Choos, and Louboutins. What will it take to bring the brand back to the glory the name holds? It could take cue from larger labels and sign on a buzzy designer - Nicholas Kirkwood, Paul Andrew, Aquazurra, Sophia Webster come to mind. That would be a start. An interim solution be rotating guest designers, at the very least it would provide seasonal news. Reinvigorating designer partnerships would also create a lift - it had at one point in time collaborated with Versace and Dolce Gabbanna.

More importantly, what does the Sergio Rossi brand stand for? It needs to reestablish its essence with an new audience. According to the website ‘Advertising campaigns introduced the woman according to Sergio Rossi, an icon, showing the full measure of seduction. His philosophy was simple: to create beautiful shapes. To think of a shoe not as superimposed ornament but as the continuation of the body: well adjusted, comfortable, cosmetic, and designed for the movement of a contemporary woman.” But do the current styles follow that mantra or fall prey to the idea of an ornament. The site goes on to name Helmut Newton as a visionary counterpart.  Looking at the styles presented today, does this all stand true?

Maybe beginning at it’s core – beauty, movement, and the focus on the shape – is a start. The brand needs to put a stake in something distinct.

Photo courtesy of Sergio


Balenciaga F'13: Alexander Wang's Debut

Today the world sees Balenciaga through someone else's eyes for the first time in 15 years. Alexander Wang debuted his first collection for the brand. Mr. Wang was appointed Creative Director in December, and an unimaginable task was in front of him to acquaint with the storied brand, review the successes of his predecessor, and formulate and opinion that is uniquely his. On top of this, editing and adjustments throughout the creative process.

The result was a very edited presentation with a tight concept. The show itself was quieter than expected from Mr. Wang, smaller and more intimate in the venue putting all the focus on the detail of his vision. There were traces of Mr. Wang that were apparent - a limited color palette with black being predominant. The styling and lean silhouettes provided a very urban feel. Fabrics specifically crackled leather or knits, created an edginess to the collection. These are the few similarities to Mr. Wang's collections.

What was interesting to see is how the Balenciaga tenants shifted his eye. Coats were given softer shoulders with added volume. Architectural forms, folding and shapes connected to Mr. Balenciaga and Nicolas Ghesquière's modernism. Draping and tailoring is a new idea for a designer known for t-shirts and knits. It isn't that he hasn't accomplished this in his collections but in this situation he is challenging himself with different techniques. The formality and evening wear and precious little details take this to a place where Mr. Wang has not been. The results had a broad appeal, grown up without feeling mature, and complimentary many women.

Overall, the approach shows promise. He understands the codes of the house. The next step is for Mr. Wang (as Mr. Ghesquière did) to evolve this past those tenants and create a vision that is uniquely his.

Related: Alexander Wang Appointed Balenciaga Creative Director

Photos courtesy of Balenciaga


Fei Fei by Steven Meisel

Vogue Italia famously sold out of their only black model edition. And that creative mindset is the reason the publication's images are a constant visual inspiration.

Asian models on covers tend to happen with editions of magazines in Korea, Japan, and China. Vogue Italia decided to give a solo cover to Fei Fei Sun, and it is a rarity that must be applauded. With the heavy eye, tightly coiffed hair, and self-aware posture, she is reminiscent of China Machado. Steven Meisel can catapult a girl to stardom, and he does so with the editorial that can only be called Fei Fei. 

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Images courtesy of Vogue Italia.


Alexander Wang Appointed Balenciaga Creative Director

Alexander Wang has been appointment as Balenciaga's Creative Director, overseeing Women’s and Men’s ready-to-wear and accessories lines. He follows Nicolas Ghesquière, who held the position for 15 years and was responsible for putting the label at the top of the luxury category.                        
It is a significant role for Mr. Wang as he follows a legacy of innovation set by his predecessor. There are similarities between Mr. Ghesquière and Mr. Wang - both drive trend, innovate in shape and fabrication, and have an urban feel. The differences? Mr. Ghesquière shifts the eye from season to season giving the brand a new silhouette, pattern or color story that may not be related to the previous collections; Mr. Wang, on the other hand, stays very close to athletic-inspired, "model-off-duty," street-inspired looks, predominantly in black.                                                                                                                                                         
But Mr. Wang is an unusual choice as a successor. One reason for the selection is most likely to avoid comparison in creative direction by selecting the opposite of what existed. Another is Kering's hope to attract a younger newer consumer in Asia and America, and with a lower price point. His appointment marks a new direction given the image that the brand conjures - architecture, innovative tailoring details, volume, and formality. Interesting here is what will be his aesthetic, what he takes from the legacy, and what is entirely new. Balenciaga is uncharted territory for Mr. Wang.                                                                                                                                                    
Mr. Wang has displayed business smarts. In six short years, his collections are "selling to over 700 stores worldwide, and the brand has 16 stores in 7 countries" with and estimated worth of $60 million. The creative stretch is where the waters are untested - creative that is outside Mr. Wang's brand. Only time will tell whether he extends beyond himself and discover a different visual language that is unique to Balenciaga and distinct from that of Mr. Ghesquière. There are archives to study, and with his current methods, the outcome may be unique. A list of some of his achievements:
  • 2008 Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA)/Vogue Fashion Fund Award Winner
  • 2009 Swarovski Womenswear Designer of the Year
  • 2009 Swiss Textiles Award
  • 2010 Swarovski Accessory Designer of the Year Award
  • 2011 GQ Best Menswear Designer of the Year
  • 2011 CFDA Best Accessory Designer Award
  • 2013 Fashion Group International 'Fashion Star'
One additional honor, Mr. Wang is the youngest American selected to lead a European label (Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, and Narciso Rodriguez have previously held similar positions).
As a refresher on Alexander Wang, see key looks from his label below.



Hedi Slimane's Saint Laurent


At this point, everyone has now seen most components of Hedi Slimane's vision for Saint Laurent - advertising imagery, branding, web presence, and the initial collection. The remaining item that is to come is store design.

The controversy around the first collection doesn’t need revisiting. Reviews mixed; journalists miffed; and Hollywood stylists supposedly referenced.

It can be assumed that Mr. Slimane is still finding his way in creating a complete image. His only connection to fashion in the last few years has been through his photography; he has spent most of his time in Los Angeles removed from the industry. This is his return and hopefully, things are just warming up. One thing that is apparent when looking at all the elements - this is Hedi but not necessarily Saint Laurent. The photography and clothing silhouettes are his, and so was the setting for the show. Collection elements (smoking, gypsy reference, flowy evening looks) directly connected to Saint Laurent (or LA) but feel a little forced in the cohesion. Saint Laurent was a vibrant brand with many stories to tell, a world that Mr. Slimane will need to dig a little deeper. To quote WWD’s review, 'Perhaps upcoming on his to-do list will be finding a seamless fusion of fashion, comfort and risk.'

Complete collection:

See the advertising images:

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