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084: Dione "Mary Poppins" Davis
Plus Gucci Vault x Sea NY, Proenza on sale, and Glossier throws something new into the mix.
I start this week’s interview with Dione Davis with the accusation: “You were saying you're entering this new chapter of your life.” A non-sequitur from nothingness that no thanks to me spills into an eloquent and articulate sketch of the near future. It’s a tension that I think many of us can find relatable this month, in the 7 a.m. of the year, when we find ourselves still a little bleary-eyed but awake to the tasks and possibilities of the day.
My January has pressed into igniting the potential energy around Magasin (even if it feels a little vulnerable admitting to hard work). It’s like 7 a.m. for the newsletter, too, even if it’s actually 4 p.m. after a nap and errands have to get done before everything closes at 8. We have some things brewing that I’m excited to share soon. I’m not a morning person, and certainly not usually a January one either, but I’ll allow myself to break character again by being earnest! and giddy! and a little cringe!
Wonderful things are coming, both in the next few weeks and right here in this send. So I’ll let you get on with it. Read on for all the news of the week and the far-more insightful things Dione has to say, below.
Gucci Vault’s latest exploration—Vault Altitude—taps New York-based Sea for a capsule considering quilting, frills, and the brand’s signature tea-towel textiles. Some hard-working glasses styling flips the prairie-girl narrative on its head. Given that this is Gucci we’re talking about, the prices predictably follow. While a Sea NY coat might typically retail around the $700 mark (or $200 on sale), the Gucci-fied versions call for north of $1,300. What you get in return is an exclusive silhouette in house-approved 100% cotton.
Millennials who believe they have graduated from Glossier are being challenged this week by the brand’s latest release: a deodorant. It feels innocuous enough, but the launch of a new, non-decorative product category is tempting even years after the brand made us acquiesce to the fact that, yes, we could feel so strongly about a mascara/brow product/cleanser.
The religious and sacrilegious among us can unite in appreciation of Veneda Carter’s latest jewelry drop, its pieces hewn in gold vermeil and sterling silver. Christian iconography abounds, from Jesus with arms outstretched, sans cross, to a pendant featuring Saint Michael prevailing over an anonymous, lamentable sinner. The brand’s signature craggy, molten metals are just as well-suited to secular forms, as with this hammered golden ring that boasts a juicy, square-cut amethyst.
Mansur Gavriel is riding an overachieving January wave, putting out two new bags just this week: the Notte Shoulder Bag and the Soft M Hobo. The former is a huge win for minimalists tempted by the squishy pillow-bag appeal, while the Soft M, a 2010s easter egg, will easily be seen on someone like Reese Witherspoon soon.
Quasi-event dressing New Zealand brand Paris Georgia’s Pre-Fall ‘23 collection has landed on Moda Operandi, where it’ll remain for only two more days. A ripe plot for wedding-guest wares and vacation thirst traps, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get your hands on these pieces come August if you miss this pre-order window.
Shrimps’ new bridal capsule is as approachable and easygoing as wedding wear can get. All in shades of white, the collection includes two no-fuss dresses, a satin blouse-and-trouser set just a touch more elevated than glam pajamas, and knits with a textured “JUST MARRIED” subtle enough to stay wearable past a honeymoon. This is a one-stop shop for courthouse brides, devious upstagers on the guest list, or anyone craving creamy whites for their wardrobe.
In a new duet with Levi’s, Collina Strada uses vintage 501s as canvases on which to feature the flowing, floral designs of artist Laurel Ashleigh, either painted in natural dyes or encrusted in rhinestones. A sparkly, silver rendition of the previous collaboration’s prolific star jeans rounds out the tiny capsule.
Stüssy and Our Legacy Work Shop renew their nexus, the two menswear giants once again linking their Scandi and Cali visual traditions in elegantly masc patchworked outerwear, over-dyed tees, and a dynamic winter vest.
In a bid to ingratiate Tommy Hilfiger to the younger demographic it never seemed able to sink its claws into, the brand opened a Depop storefront for pre-owned pieces from its main line and Tommy Jeans. With sizes ranging from XXS to 3XL and prices that average well below the $100 mark, pieces like a color-blocked jacket or denim collared dress are accessible ways to inject a healthy dose of classic prep into your wardrobe.
There’s also: Sockmaker Comme Si expands its line of accessory building blocks with a silk-lined baseball cap (I’ve spoken enough on the Tár universe to forego comment); Altuzarra’s weeklong trunk show, exclusive to Moda Operandi, awaits the spring with its cinched, Shibori-dyed, and pearl-studded sets and dresses; cashmere brand Guest in Residence’s capsule for The Snow Lodge endow the humble hoodie and crewneck with the lifeblood of founder Gigi Hadid (and are priced accordingly); Hunter’s rugged new Rebel Explorer boots expertly toe the notoriously iffy line between adequate water-resistance and maintaining a modestly stylish profile; and all proceeds from the stripey, limited-edition pieces emblazoned with the words “My Body” in the Madewell x Kule collaboration will be donated to the National Network of Abortion Funds.
What’s on sale
The Proenza Schouler Winter Sale is ostensibly about to throw in the towel, with “final” reductions up to 65% off. We might not have to acquiesce to impulse buys just yet—who knows when the curtain will truly close? If you’d rather play it “safe,” plenty of PS1 bags like this tiny suede number in a lush, purpley indigo, twisty bouclé sweaters, and feather-trimmed knee-length shorts number among the earnest but sophisticated pieces on offer.
The LCD Warehouse Sale is up to 80% off, and the site’s extending an additional 20% discount on top of that with EXTRA20. Pieces like a neon Collina Strada bikini with a butterfly alighted on its whale tale and a pleated skirt with details from a recycled bomber jacket by Andersson Bell are at their best prices yet, and there is plenty of add-to-cart bait under $30 like these strappy Baserange briefs.
While Tiina the Store (a favorite of past guest Rachel Tashjian) eschews seasonal sales and would abhor the phrase “moving merch,” it’s luckily hosting a fairly generous sale right now in an effort to home some of its last pieces and one-off styles. Toogood chore jackets, Jil Sander coats, and Sofie D’Hoore culottes are among the cool, grown-up clothes down to half off.
With tees for as little as $17 and plenty of its famously unhinged, sculptural, and often paradigm-shifting pieces up to 70% off, Foo and Foo’s Warehouse Sale is a grotto of garments that make freaky sexy, and vice versa. From the scrunchable wires in the Boner Singlet to the psychedelic Psycho Fly Boxers that discerning members of the Magasin reader base endorse wholeheartedly, this sale is Willy Wonka-level wild, with deals just as mind-blowing.
Like an art-school freshman class in the wild, Stine Goya’s up-to-50%-off sale is a study in color, contrast, and composition. After a slurry of dizzy, delightful florals like this 60-buck beanie, you’ll find knotted hobo bags in ebullient cerulean, translucent rubber coats with colors that blossom like a wildfire, and a hazy pink wool trench that seems like a harbinger of an early arrival for springtime.
Gabriel For Sach’s seasonal sale is full of furry miniskirts in Valentine shades of red and pink, scratch-finished leather waist packs the blue of a Hockney swimming pool, and slinky mesh turtlenecks with fabric circles placed strategically to accommodate the braless among us.
Percival’s up-to-70%-off sale deserves our revelry. There’s a cognac leather aviator jacket lined with shearling, jacquard track pants that rival Wales Bonner’s (and cost a far more forgiving $115), and the precise turtleneck sweater Ethan Hawke’s character in Before Sunrise would’ve worn to woo a French woman if he’d been born at the right time to catch this sale.
Cafe Forgot’s downtown NYC location is closed this week, but happily that means everything in its online store is 15% off with WINTERBREAK15 until the reopening. Now may be our moment to pounce on an Emily Dawn Long hair pin, a chrome charm bracelet from Marland Backus, or some tights from Zepherina that look straight out of a fairytale.
The prolific Collina Strada x Melissa Puff or Possession sandals in colors ranging from a cool lilac to the galactic “Bordeaux Glitter” can be yours for 30% off thanks to a flash sale bringing the prices down to $130 or $60 a pair.
As we circle the Ganni sale like ever-hungrier vultures, new prey continues to appear at ever-better prices. First up on this fly-by, a 100% recycled drop-waist midi dress with a suggestive neckline, then a leopard-print mesh turtleneck, and finally a bucket bag with a chunky, marbled detachable handle, also recycled, that looks like a chain of creamy hard candy.
There’s also: The Shopbop sale bears fresh pickings, with some especially good finds in the shoes section (think Ulla Johnson shearling slides or chunky JW Anderson loafers); now up to 70% off, the Bergdorf Goodman sale is chugging along with over 6,000 items to choose from, including tons of still-seasonal stuff like striped sweaters from ERL and wool-cashmere trousers via Vince; Saks’ sale is getting freaky, with discounts up to 80% meaning this Versace piggy bank rings up at under $100 (how’s THAT for an investment piece?), and there is a piece labeled “Toilet Paper Tongue Mirror,” if you care to investigate; and all bets are off at the J.Crew sale, where SALETIME gets you an extra 60% off all the button downs, tissue turtlenecks, and flannel pajamas you could possibly want in a single lifetime.
Even Dione Davis’ sleep paralysis demon is well-dressed
The stylist on grace, gore, and not having to wear the pants anymore.
Too many trends currently effervescing across the New York fashion landscape to count can be traced back to Dione Davis, a stylist who recently left her in-house post at Tibi to be a hired gun and is already making her impact felt on the open market. You have her to thank for the wave of visible tights’ bands and red stockings, witty turns of garment evident to be just the tip of the iceberg when surveying Davis’ deft and daring personal style. We caught up on a recent morning in Brooklyn and she dropped some hints about what the future looks like and shared some of the recent things that have made her click “Buy.”
L: You were saying you're entering this new chapter of your life. D: I’m offering a new service that’s a bit consulting and a bit styling. I want to approach it from a holistic angle. I really think my strongest suit is taking a brand that is trying to make a change or has an objective in mind. It seems like every brand wants the same thing, especially if they're under a young designer. If, say, a brand wants their collection on SSENSE, I will show them how they can take all the necessary steps to get there, and how to level up and elevate.
People are often very honest with themselves and know that they're not where they need to be, but then you also have clients who are extremely delusional and think that they are at this level and you have to tell them “You’re close, but this is how you get there.” Sometimes it's one thing, sometimes it's 10 things. So I come in and tell them all the steps they need to take and show them what we can do aesthetically. Then, I’ll style everything from the wholesale database and shoot e-comm and the campaign for a season. I would advise on the market as well, because I used to do that! I want to combine all of my experiences. L: You’re able to see things through from one step to the next.
D: I want to be like Mary Poppins! Clean it up and then just fly away. And if they need to do it again in two, three years, I can help them. It’s a collaborative effort. Brands need a lot of help standing out these days. Coming off the heels of everyone trying to do this high-contemporary, watered-down Phoebe Philo resurgence, there's so much of the same coming out. Differentiating yourself is really dependent on your partners. L: Who do you think is doing it really well right now? Or maybe a better question is: Who do you think you could help in that market? A dream client that you're like, “I have a vision that they're not realizing”? D: I think they're doing a great job but I think they can do more: Saks Potts.
They could really, really excel in a smart and sustainable way. I love the point of view that they have, it’s really clean but still sexy. Compared to their competitors, when people try to water down Phoebe Philo, they just eliminate the sex appeal. They totally don’t get it. With Phoebe, 80% of the body is covered and that's fine, because she fetishized the clavicle, and she’s got a foot thing, creating attractive lines with both. It’s this level of eroticism that’s strategic. Saks retains some of that—it's not obvious. It’s in those very subtle pockets. L: Secondary erogenous zones. D: So successful. So completely devoid of the male gaze. L: I feel like another thing that really links her back to Saks Potts is that they both kind of have this silliness to them, you know? D: Yeah, it's playful, with a sportier and more youthful lens. I like the idea of some of the concepts they come up with, like when they were trying to do Carolyn Bessette paparazzi stuff.
She’s another icon, but it takes a lot of good tailoring. you can’t just buy something off the rack and expect it to look like her. L: Hopefully everyone’s learning this lesson with Tár. D: Carolyn’s makeup was also so perfect. So fresh-faced. L: I never thought about her makeup because she's such a minimalist. She would just do a bare face and a bold lip. L: She’s on the mood board. D: Always and forever.
L: When you shop personally, what do you have in mind? Do you have specific people like Carolyn that you look to, are you looking to past collections… D: It’s a combination. I go through phases. I think of my wardrobe the way that designers think of their collections. I also feel like it’s kind of an artistic period, I go through periods of color. Like, in 2016, I wore a lot of blush. Then, I went through a mustard yellow and then a green period. I did a lot of navy and gray, and now I’m in my brown and black era and my blue period. A lot of blue. I’d never worn blue, since I was told it doesn’t “work” for my skin tone, but then I was like “What’s actually wrong with that?” I have red undertones, so I can do that. L: Yeah, I see you in a Klein blue. What's a blue piece that you've acquired in this phase? D: I got the Agmes Zanni necklace in blue. It's sold out. I think they should make it again because it’s beautiful.
I also got this hand-painted blue silk dress from Dana Foley. My blue phase is kind of aligned with my health. It’s a return to dressing more hyper femme after years of wearing menswear and suits. In 2021, I had one ovary removed, and I was going through this wave of emotions and spirals around my appearance because I didn’t feel like myself anymore. My identity was so associated with chronic pain after years of battling endometriosis. Also, I was going through gender dysphoria simultaneously, which is common for women who have had reproductive organs removed. While womanhood isn’t determined by sex organs, I felt this disconnection from myself. All of my suiting felt severe when it was what made me the most comfortable. I was like, “I can’t wear this right now.” I started dressing more ladylike, in ballet flats and things I’d never, ever worn. But now I'm in this weird hyper-femme mode. And once people started going the ballet route, I was like, “It's time for me to reclaim this shit.” My ballet friends are always sending me editorials. I'm like, “What is this shit?” I don't know that stylist, I’m not gonna drag them. But people are mad.
L: I love that there's this group chat happening in the background with the dance community just dragging the fashion interpretation of dancewear. We have no idea.
D: Especially because of the scarcity of legwarmers right now. But I will say honestly, I think that people who do want to go for those trends should not be buying another designer leotard. That's dumb. You can go to Capezio, it’s better quality, it's meant to last, it's meant to be worn. Except shoes obviously, don’t wear ballet shoes outside, there's rats and glass. But yeah, give these dance companies money. Go buy a Capezio bodysuit. L: Let's give them their COVID boomtime dues. D: I do think if designers want to kind of go that route, they should collaborate with some of these dance houses because they have the technology. They have Nike-level technology in some of these leotards.
L: That's a really interesting idea. Would you ever work with a dance company to bring them into a fashion space? I would love to see that from you. D: Absolutely. I also think that more dancers should be doing the movement direction. I know there are some former dancers that do movement direction out there, but I would love to see what would happen if you got a choreographer like Justin Peck in for a campaign to pose models and dancers. I also really like Leo Walk. He's been doing kind of an intersection between modern dance and breakdancing in fashion. L: What brand would you pair him with? D: He's already done some stuff for Maryam [Nassir Zadeh] but not anything dance related. I’m trying to think of something that has enough movement, because you can’t really do much with structured garments, unless they’re fine with it looking crazy.
We saw City Ballet struggling to dance in those Palomo Spain outfits. L: Did you go to the show? D: Yeah, on opening night! The costumes were gorgeous, but limiting. The choreographer was really, really good, I just wish the dancers could have had a little bit more movement. I think that there’s going to be an interesting intersection coming. There are so many former dancers in fashion. Like Lily [Miesmer] from Interior, she used to dance, and she had ballet shoes that she put a sturdier sole in for the runway, it looked great. L: They’re doing amazing stuff lately. Which are your most-worn pieces from them? D: I wear this sweater that has a seam down the front a lot, and I have this blazer with sheer white sleeves—it kind of reminds me of Cher from Clueless when she had that sheer blazer on. It actually has a waistcoat built in, and it’s double-breasted. It’s beautiful.
L: Do you feel like you resonate with them because of a shared dance history? D: I do, but also they have a very dark sense of humor. I follow Lily, we go to dinner sometimes, and her memes and sense of humor are hilarious. She’s really into horror films, she’s got this whole thing where she’s obsessed with the “final girl” trope. I don’t know how that will resonate in fashion without being too gory, but I like the idea and I like how she touched on it in the Spring ‘23 show. Like with Phenomena, featuring Jennifer Connelly, it’s about bugs, so it freaks me out, but she has all these beautiful, white fits. The clothes are incredible. She was probably like 14 or 15 years old. The costume design is so delicate and feminine, meanwhile there’s someone shredding on a guitar, and this girl running through the forest with all these bugs…very strange.
L: They’re not making movies like this anymore! It’s a shame. Do you watch a lot of movies? D: Oh, yeah. I was kind of an overprotected child, so I wasn’t allowed to do that much, I wasn’t let outside that much. My mom would be like “Didn’t you just see your friends last week?” So, I watched a lot of old movies. Westerns, ‘70s and ‘80s horror, a lot of ‘40s and ‘50s jazz films. I think I get most of my inspiration from music, art, and film. I try to go outside of fashion for inspiration. L: I think that’s necessary at the end of the day, or else it becomes an echo chamber. D: I feel like [with trend revivals] we just keep going back to decades that are close to ours, hardly anyone is going further back. L: Or acknowledging that those were also referential decades.
D: I did like when there was a slight ‘40s influence in the ‘80s, that was interesting. Looking at when was the prime of each decade, it's always the beginning. And then it goes off the rails. I think people were sitting with trends for a longer period of time, and then they kind of got tired. Now, no one sits with anything. L: What do you think is going to be remembered from the 2020s? D: Nothing yet. L: Really, do you think? Wow, that's so tragic. D: There are very few people investing in taking extreme risks and directional changes post-pandemic. The risks are in moments like in Coperni’s Spring 2023. It’s a marketable moment that was shared everywhere, but for some reason it took away from the collection a bit. The moment is important for brands to stand out now that social media dictates sales, so I get it. But I think design gets affected by this so much. Even the casting is affected by it. The number of followers is on the board along with the comp card during runway castings. But then again, I do think there are a handful of brands that are making an impact on how people actually dress. I love Christopher John Rogers, Jordan Dalah, Nicklas Scovgaard, Interior, Vaquera, Loewe. I think there are people that are making interesting things. I appreciate people that imagine a new world, because we need that.
I will say, as resistant as I was to the 2000s and that kind of resurgence, I have found it very freeing in body positivity, in an interesting way. Before, in 2000 it was like, you look at every celebrity, and they are rail thin. Now, you’re seeing these trends on a range of body types in editorials and campaigns. There are articles out there talking about heroin chic being back, but we don’t want it. I’ve seen the girlies in whale tails at every size, which is a much-needed do-over from the anxiety-ridden first go-round when I was in high school. L: And they look great! I think it’s fun. D: I take back what I said. I do think that there's some fashion from this era that will be memorable. I will remember so many things from Loewe under Jonathan Anderson and Daniel Roseberry at Schiaparelli.
I think what I need to feel fulfilled by clothes is made difficult for the designers because of the production calendar, especially in New York. I was thinking about shows, the difference between New York and Paris is that New York is so unreasonable because production is more expensive, locations are more expensive, most people can’t even build a set anymore because it’s too expensive here. In Paris, production is cheaper. Locations are elegant. It feels more like a moment. Part of me wondered if Christopher John Rogers was going to show in Paris next season, which would have made sense.
L: Do you have any CJR pieces? D: I do! I have the bullet bra. It only fits like once every three months. I have this white linen suit that has rainbow details on it, and I have this beautiful striped coat that I need to get altered. This collection that just came out deserves a lot of my coin. L: Yeah, it's so beautiful. What are you going to get? D: There’s a striped cardigan sweater that's got a second cardigan attached in the back where you can tie up the sleeves in multiple ways. I also like all the neutrals that are happening, because I don’t wear tons of color, but the way he does color is really cool. But I don't think that that's his shtick. I think people are like, “Oh, he's known for color.” I'm like, “No, he's just in that mood.” But the second he doesn't want it anymore. It's still gonna feel like this. It's really the shapes, the tailoring. It's just so beautiful.
L: When you think about your capsule or your archive for this period of time, what are the main pieces in there? D: I’m wearing two pieces from my capsule at all times. I’m wearing my tabi ballerinas and my brown leather coat that I got from Club Vintage. I just got this black shrunken cardigan that's cashmere, and I basically turn it into 100 different things. I wore it as a shrug last weekend, I wore it as a crop top the other week, I like to customize my stuff. So, my capsule pretty much stays the same because I can wear it forever. I think the cardigan was an old Tibi piece that I got the last year I worked there.
L: And what are the last three things that you bought? The shoes, the coat. I feel like I buy two pieces a season. L: It's interesting that you just bought them and they're a part of your capsule right now. It speaks to a very focused buying pattern. D: Yeah, ‘cause I really, really needed them. They're helping build out this more professional version of myself. There’s something else I bought recently that just dotted every I and crossed every T…Oh yeah, I bought an off-the-shoulder top from Paloma Wool, and it’s basically my everyday top. L: I'm wearing the pants that it’s styled with on SSENSE. D: I love it. And then I also got another sweater, it's like a heart-shaped decolletage alpaca turtleneck. I rounded out my wardrobe because I was like, “I need more day clothes.” I've been wearing suits for like 10 years. I have more men's suits than I have dresses—I used to have 35 suits. And then I've condensed it down to like 10 because I was like, that's crazy. I don't need that.
The vintage stays, though. I have a lot of my mom’s jumpsuits from the ‘80s that I need to fit into again. L: Do you think the jumpsuit is gonna have a resurgence? D: It usually does. I feel like what happened, though, was that every crunchy minimalist brand in the 2010s made a boiler suit, and I can’t look at them right now. I want a shoulder pad. I have like three vintage Karen Alexander ones; an early-‘80s one that has stripes, and one that has dots. I want to get a taffeta one. It’s one of my favorite fabrics. L: What do you have in taffeta right now? D: A pair of pants, three—no, four pairs of taffeta pants! I had to think about that. It has been really helping me when I go to the ballet. I’m like, “Ok, I’m in an outfit now.” People don’t really dress up for the ballet anymore, but it’s nice to have something shiny on your body.
L: What else is on your “To Buy” list right now? D: My problem in life is that everything I want costs more money than I can afford. I want a nice Jil [Sander] bag. The things that I really need to invest in are never gonna get marked down. I need a new cashmere turtleneck, a thick one, because some moths attacked mine, and it was my favorite. But, you know, things like that I need to replace, because I’ve kept a lot of stuff for a long time.
I think I need a trouser skirt—straight, low-rise, I don’t know if I want mid-calf or ankle-length, I have not decided yet. I feel like that will round out my wardrobe and make me feel like I have a little bit more to wear. I also really need a lace catsuit. In multiple colors. L: Don’t we all. I saw an amazing one from Los Feliz Shop a while ago, and I can’t rest until I get it, but I can never find it. The lace catsuit is very elusive. D: I also need a Prada laptop bag. L: It’s a need. D: Because it’s waterproof and great for travel. I usually bring my laptop to every shoot, because someone will be like “Let’s print out this brief,” and they never do. It’s just better for me to have my own device.
L: Do you have a ton of closet space? D: Just a rack that's bleeding into the living room…so far, my roommate has said nothing… L: Whenever I do a pop-up rack for fashion week, I'm like “I don't want to put it away!” D: What I'm gonna do is get a rack installed, exposed, but then have a curtain, because I just don't want to look at my clothes when I go to sleep. I feel like my sleep paralysis demon is gonna turn into like this rack of vintage that I have in my room. L: You’re like “Let’s keep this relationship amicable.” D: Yeah. I need to have a serene space. I just feel like I can’t hold on to a lot, but everything that I do keep, it’s because it’s really important to me.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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With contributions from Em Seely Katz