#1934 A conversation about the menswear collections, filing on-the-go and touch-typing with Tim Blanks of style.com

Tim Blanks – a vision in Prada bananas.

Way back when I was still at university – years before I started coming to the menswear shows – I discovered the (now defunct) site men.style.com. I became a fanatical devotee – it was there that I first read Tim Blanks’ reviews and marvelled at the way in which a writer could sum up a collection so succinctly in just a few paragraphs of text. About two years later I found out he was a fellow New Zealander, and I’d pinpoint that as one of the inciting incidents in my decision to pursue this writing hobby of mine as a career. I’d like to say that I didn’t get starstruck the first time I met him, but that would be a bold-faced lie (I’ve gotten only slightly cooler over the past three years). On the final day of Paris Fashion Week, I cornered the man between the Paul Smith and Thom Browne shows to ask him a few questions for Gilt Manual. Here’s what they didn’t publish.

Isaac Hindin Miller: Did anybody surprise you this season?
Tim Blanks: You know, Prada did I have to say. I just absolutely loved that show. She just does it every single time. She surprised me in Fall because I didn’t like it – after Spring which I really loved – and I think it was interesting to see this collection which was so print heavy because I don’t think they realized that Spring [with its bananas and monkeys] would be so successful, and Spring next year is so print heavy. That surprised me. And I was pleasantly surprised. Massimo Piombo really lifted his offering – it was very, very strong and I just loved the Piombo story. I love a label with a story and his story is so good. You can’t beat it. And Burberry surprised me!

IHM: Did you think that Burberry looked a little bit like Karen Walker womenswear?
TB: That’s an interesting thought. Everybody had a reference point for that collection.
IHM: I just kept looking at it and going, ‘Wow, that looks so much like Karen Walker.’
TB: Well that is an interesting idea, but no I didn’t actually think that.

IHM: What about Lanvin?
TB: I liked that Lanvin was so cinematic and it was such a wide story, I was sitting there and tooling around in my head and thinking about what I’m looking at – it’s the guy who’s maybe been in the army – they say he’s a security guard – either way, it looked like a study in consumer demographics.

IHM: And Raf Simons?
TB: I liked Raf, I thought the interesting thing about Raf was that the show for Jil Sander looked unfinished – he loves youth. Youth is his totem for what he does. The show for Jil Sander looked unfinished – the bare legged boys – they just felt like boys. And then the Raf show felt like young men. I was really pleased.

IHM: Do you write reviews on your Blackberry?
TB: Yes. Do I file on this thing? Yes. Because I was doing men’s reviews, men’s videos and women’s resort, the days were much more packed than usual. So I haven’t had a hell of a lot of time to file reviews. But the mere fact that I’ve mastered the act of filing on a Blackberry, I feel like I’m the caveman who found out how to use opposable thumbs. It could potentially change things but Nick Sullivan [fashion director of Esquire] has been coaching me in the art of the iPad with a keyboard.

IHM: How’s your typing?
TB: Oh it’s the two finger tap but I cannot do touchscreen. I just find it infuriating it just takes me so much longer.

Read my interview with Tim Blanks for Gilt Manual here.


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  1. Ramesh says

    Marketing non-abstract designs on a global basis is an interesting challenge. I’ve seen a Prada man’s shirt with a nuts and bolts design, which is witty enough in English. Most other luxury labels are squarely aiming at the East Asian market as the future main growth driver– indeed, Prada is seeking a presence on the Hong Kong stock exchange.
    Bananas have no special association with Chinese culture, though the banana plant was a staple of classical Chinese gardens for its broad leaves.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if over the coming years Prada and other companies exploit motifs long used in Chinese porcelain, eg fish [ especially carp ], bats and peaches. These symbols are often homonyms, where similar sounds have different meanings and spellings : eg in English peak and pique, pi and pie. ‘Fu’ in Chinese is homonymous with ‘bat’ [ the mammal ] and ‘happiness’; ‘Yu’ means fish and abundance; and peaches symbolise longevity.

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