The new Adidas designer army
Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to a dinner to celebrate the latest Adidas collaboration, this time with Pharrell Williams. I was so excited not just to see the collection but to meet Pharrell in person – for me, he exemplifies contemporary mens style. He’s forged a really strong signature look that cuts effortlessly through the sea of safe neutrals that tend to dominate mens’ fashion. The unique brand of ‘elegant casualwear’, from his Westwood hat down to his rarefied sneakers, that he’s developed as his signature since emerging with NERD back in the day is one that many try to emulate but never really nail.
LA restaurant Hinoki & The Bird played host to leading figures from the worlds of music, fashion and art with guests including long-time Pharrell collaborator Gwen Stefani and A$AP Ferg. I was also really excited to see artist Maurizio Cattelan in attendance. Maurizio – along with partner Pierpaolo Ferrari – has produced some of the most memorably bizarre images of late in their publication Toilet Paper (one of my favourites) and have been working a lot with the Opening Ceremony-directed brand Kenzo on their visuals.
After dinner, we were encouraged to doodle on the display that housed pieces from the collection through astro-turf lined circular holes (Gwen didn’t need asking twice and got stuck in with her candy pink sharpie – it would have been rude of me not to join in too.)
It wasn’t difficult to ‘spot’ the theme in the collection (pun intended). Spots were apparent in all incarnations from Minnie Mouse cartoonish polka dots to subtle micro spots over colourful track jackets and iconic Stan Smith sneakers that rested on shelves of tennis balls. My favourites had to be the neon felt ‘tennis ball’ sneakers created from the same slightly fluffy fabric that they use to cover tennis balls. I loved the little details too. Some of the sneaker insoles were printed with pop-art style reflexology references – so subtle but so cool.
The Pharrell collection arrives in stores early next year but the launch reminded me of another collaboration that Adidas have done with London-based designer Mary Katrantzou (Adidas are doing such amazing things at the moment). Mary is currently top of her game. Seeing her work up close is like looking at an oil painting. Layers and layers of texture are built up – fabric is printed, embroidered, embossed, each piece is so labour-intensive and exquisite. As Mary once told a friend of mine ‘if it’s easy, we’re not doing it right!’ Her Spring/Summer 14 mainline collection was all about shoes – cute little tulip shaped looks were printed with blown-up illustrations of shoe details, from sneakers to brogues. As with all of Mary’s work, the reference only becomes apparent when you really examine the garments.
This point of reference seems to have been the backbone for her collaboration with Adidas. Sports-inspired apparel and sneakers (the focus being on aesthetic rather than performance) carried Mary’s trademarks perfectly – macro prints, sculptural shapes and an entire rainbow of colours. The thing about Mary’s work is that there’s method in her madness. In the wrong hands, this massive mish-mash of visual information could go so wrong, but with Mary there’s a clear control, a steely precision that underpins the excess which is why she’s currently riding high. The guys at Adidas kindly sent me some pieces from the collection recently including this cool bomber with contrasting arms that I’ll definitely be sporting on my next hike through Griffith Park with my dog Lovern. I also love these sneakers which I’m looking forward to rocking at some point.
The great thing about this collaboration – as with most collaborations – is that Mary’s work is being brought to a much broader audience and fans who would ordinarily not be able to afford her luxury mainline can now purchase a piece of her work within their budget. Mary’s collection is already in stores and Pharrell’s will be out early next year. Can’t wait to see who Adidas team up with next.
Photo Credit: Christopher Polk/Getty Images (for Pharrell/Adidas Originals)