Illustrator transatlantic duo Craig & Karl have a way with eyes. Their eyes have graced the portraits of the likes of Kanye West and Miuccia Prada and immediately hold your gaze with their bold outlines, striking use of pattern and colour and direct stare. Now theirs eyes grace a fantastic collaboration with German luxury brand MCM. In fact the collection is called "Eyes on the Horizon", with multiple references as I found out when I chatted with artists Craig Redman and Karl Maier and Mrs Sung-Joo Kim, chairwoman and CEO of MCM at the launch lunch last week in London, following a street party outside the MCM Sloane Street store. Despite an impressive portfolio of work that now includes commissions for British Vogue, New York Magazine and the Bavarian State Opera, it turns out Redman and Maier work quite separately, in their New York and London studios respectively. They log in and out of Dropzone files to work around their time differences and rarely have face-to-face time together when collaborating and so the concept of the collection revolves around Craig and Karl's "eyes" looking across the Atlantic at each other. They're also "eyes" that yearn for that feeling of summery relaxation, something I'm currently trying to get to grips with, having spent a few days now in LA, driving around in a Toyota Corolla. Sun-kissed vacaying and teenage longing for summer holidays fuels the collection from the palm tree prints to the optmistic colour combos. It's all in the eyes though as even without looking at the credits, it's quite easy to spot the signature style of Craig & Karl as their lazy heavy-lidded eyes peer out from sunglasses and are sometimes abstracted with water reflections.
What I really should have done was hauled the bags over to LA for sun-drenched, poolside and palm-shadowed fun. However London is getting its own dose of tropical as we speak with its prolonged heat wave and so I played around with the palm-printed backpack, the document holder and briefcase, GIF-ing it up to doubly amp up the pop psychedelica of this cheeky collection. I also trialled the clutch last week at the couture shows as photographed by Koo below. The full range comprises more backpacks, glasses cases, wallets and pouches all featuring the signature MCM Visetos logo pattern in the background. Luisa Viaroma and Saks Fifth Avenue currently have a few of the styles online to buy but naturally the collection is limited in numbers and are selling like hot cakes out of MCM's flagship stores.
This may be my first post on MCM – an intriguing brand that whilst rooted in Germany has undergone a revival under the discerning Korean ownership of Asia's luxury power player Sung-Joo Kim – it probably won't be my last after hearing Kim's remarkable story. Speaking to her and listening to how she started her company in Seoul and how she grew Gucci's franchising from nothing to millions in Korea and how she bought MCM was enough to make me feel like an underachieving useless lemon. She calls MCM a "new type of luxury" and indeed, with its huge popularity in Asia and gradual wading in to the European/American markets, it is becoming known for a sort of youthful street savvy rather than heavy-handed heritage. When Kim talked about the title of the collection "Eyes on the Horizon", she was definitely hinting at a prize bigger than relaxing summer holidays as she steers MCM towards a new generation of luxury customer. The Craig & Karl collaboration is jsut one stellar example of the brand doing just that, judging by the Instagram likes, Twitter buzz and all-round lovin' for what is one of my favourite art-meets-fashion hook-ups in a long time.
MCM x Craig & Karl briefcase with J.W. Anderson grid jacket, Versus dress, Marc Jacobs loafers