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Concorde 002: Pattern DJs have more fun
Plus: House-slipper excellence, vintage Kenzo, needle-beaded jewelry, and 2 great magazines
Welcome to Concorde, a new 2x monthly creation from Blackbird Spyplane where Erin takes the lead. You could call it a women’s vertical, but the insights, intel and “cute swag information” transcend gender. Issue 001 is here…
Hiii & YES, this is it — issue 002 of Concorde!
We decided to make issue 002 public, but this is it, friends: future installments will be exclusives for our Cla$$ified Subscribers, so upgrade if you haven’t and let us undercharge you wildly for the amazing things we will do to improve your quality of life 😉.
Let’s get into it …
— Erin & Jonah
I (Erin) used to fight with my mom as a teenager about what I wanted to wear. Specifically, we argued about whether my outfits needed to “match,” and I was squarely in the h*ll no camp. I thought my thrifted plaid golf pants looked cool paired with a striped button-up dress shirt, layered under a graphic baby-tee. My mom’s philosophy was 1 outfit, 1 pattern. But because I’m strong willed — and because she is capable of Mach 3+ style herself — mom finally accepted the truth: her daughter was a Pattern DJ.
I still am, even if sometimes I feel a certain pressure not to be. Little kids do wonderful Pattern DJ-ing all the time, and for that reason I think there’s a temptation to regard bold pattern-mixing as something you’re “supposed to grow out of.” But tell that to the swagged-out old ladies you see in any major city rocking wild pattern collisions while out doing their grocery shopping. What unites the kids and the grandmas is their aura of rule-breaking IDGAF joie de vivre — something that those of us in the middle could learn a thing or two from.
When we put together our guide for how to wear colors well, I devoted a section to color-coordinating multicolored patterns, where the combo might risk cacophony but, if done right, goes very hard. And I’ve always been drawn to other high-level Pattern DJs — like designer and Spyfriend Ellen Van Dusen, who once gave us some fantastic advice for mixing and matching throw-pillow patterns at home.
I recently discovered another fantastic Pattern DJ: NYC-based Kassandra M. Lao Pietri, who designs a small line called Kasmaria. Her collections consist heavily of mixed-print Japanese-cotton separates, like a dress containing two differently colored plaids (below left), or cotton-linen elastic-waist pants with one skinny-indigo-striped leg and one wide-indigo-striped leg (below right). Excellent.
Intrigued, I hit her up to find out more …
“I like taking chances on mixing colors and prints,” Kassandra told me, “like, there’s something pretty going on, but also something slightly off. I often think that’s what makes it cooler.” Me too! Nailing “something slightly off” can feel so tricky, but if there are any pattern-mixing “rules” to extrapolate from Kassandra’s designs, it’s that you can A. play with a pattern’s scale while keeping the colors harmonious (as with the pants above right), or B. play with color but keep the patterns harmonious (like the full fit above left).
Each season, Kassandra — who rolled out her line in 2018, after working with a bunch of other small labels — incorporates mixed-color and -print floral fabrics from the classic British textile house Liberty of London, too … Which reminds me of Marc Jacobs’s spring 2007 collection for Louis Vuitton, where he also combined different Liberty of London florals…
Kassandra just dropped her fall collection, where she took inspiration from a true Pattern D.J. GOAT: Kenzo, whose Fall 1983 designs paired large- and small-scale florals on red backgrounds, as photographed spectacularly by Hans Feuer, below top left. Peep the alpine hiking boots and knit balaclava! It feels insanely prescient (and extremely Spyplaney).
Kassandra also drew from ‘70s-era Issey Miyake, particularly his 1976 winter collection, which had a lot of plaids in yellow and red (bottom right below). And one of my favorite new Kasmaria pieces — the oversize colorblock button-up top right below, was inspired by Ettore Sottsass’ pepper grinders for Alessi, bottom left below… It looks like a very vibey throwback McDonald’s uniform, which was apparently explicitly what Kassandra was going for ?? Pattern DJ turbo mode achieved.
BTW — much like Kassandra, I’ve been digging around for cool vintage Kenzo clothes lately. I put a couple pieces in the Blackbird SpyMall not long ago (this paisley PJ set is still available), and just found these ‘80s gems:
Stripes-n-plaid wool Kenzo blazer from L.A. store Scout, $228 here.
Floral-trimmed plaid Kenzo wrap jacket, $197 here.
Paisley / floral corduroy Kenzo wrap dress, $250 here.
MEANWHILE — Spyplane HQ is a shoes-off household, so we try to keep our slippers game on point. Mostly I wear some amazing PVC kiltie-detailed indoor sandals by the Japanese onsen-ready brand Bensan, which we wrote about a while back. They’re tremendous with socks, and when I want to get on my “COOL OLD GUY AT THE LAUNDROMAT” s**t I wear them with vintage Umbro track-pants from eBay.
As the temperature drops, though, I’ve been thinking about these beautiful upcycled slippers I saw at the excellent Williamsburg store Tangerine, below top left and bottom right. They’re made from strips of old kimonos, twisted into straps and woven together to create a sole. I slept on them I.R.L., and now Tangerine’s sold out of adult sizes online (take a look at the measurements for the kids slippers they sell if you’re more-petite-footed than me)…
Poking around for alternatives, though, I came across some different upcycled elastic-knit slippers, top right and bottom left above. They’re one-of-a-kind and made in Japan from knitting-factory scraps. They remind me of those woven potholders children make at camp, and they look very fun to flop around the house in. I found them on an extremely uncool-looking site, but I get a kick out of finding gems in unlikely places — especially when they’ve got the Big Auntwave Energy these do. $45 here.
(You can find more house shoe and slipper intel in our Master Jawn Index.)
REAL QUICK — The last time I bought a beaded necklace was maybe 5 years ago at a craft fair — it was a quadruple-strand of glass beads whose colors I loved, by Colorado’s Salihah Moore. Since then, Moore has started making glass-bead bags and clothes. Advanced!
The other day, though, I commissioned a necklace from Yona Kohen, a young artist based between NYC and Istanbul. Yona creates needle-beaded jewelry I’ve been admiring for a minute: Necklaces, belts and earrings that she decorates with floppy beaded bows and flowers, strung with seashells, pearls and carved-stone charms.
Her pieces feel like they were written in appealingly loopy, multicolored cursive… I love the idea of a necklace that doesn’t just droop down my shirt but moves unexpectedly, climbing along my neckline like a beautiful, unruly vine. (Dudes feel Yona’s stuff, too: Spyfriend James Harris, from Throwing Fits, has been wearing a bracelet of hers recently.)
HEADS UP — Cristaseya is a super luxe, super dope French brand that cuts unisex, oversize clothes, mostly from Japanese and Italian fabrics. They sell through some shops, but don’t have their own (permanent) webshop. As of a couple days ago, they’ve launched a temporary online shop, HERE, which will be open for the next month, until December 18.
FINALLY — 2 MAGAZINES YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT:
First: Worms, a biannual publication that marries two things I love — fashion and literature. Worms (as in bookworm) was founded in 2019 by Clem MacLeod (who looks equally swaggy on her IG in basketball shorts and Ann Demeulemeester) as part of her final project in a fashion journalism course at Central Saint Martins.
The magazine features interviews with, and essays by, smart writers who also get fits off: Eileen Myles, Natasha Stagg (whose “Sleeveless” we recommend), and Stephanie LaCava, to name a few. Plus? The logo’s great, and when I ordered some issues they sent me a sticker that I promptly SMACKETHED onto a Nalgene.
You can find Worms here.
Second: Display Copy, a fashion-editorial magazine started by creative director Brynn Heminway that only features vintage, thrifted and upcycled clothing. Vintage is of course a crucial part of the Blackbird Spyplane cosmos — I’ve personally always loved wearing it because it helps ensure that you won’t “meet yourself coming and going,” as Flannery O’Connor put it.
There are only two issues of Display Copy so far. I have both and, as an obsessive-credits-reader, I’ve found so many great leads on vintage sources. But the main attraction is the styling and photography throughout — check the scanned Margiela Tabi boots by cool artist Katrina Jebb (above, middle right) and the 1980s Soviet Air Force antigravity suit (looking like Rick f***ing Owens!) above bottom left.
You can find Display Copy here.
See you next time !! - e
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