Monday, 14 April 2014

style takes the floor

Bolon, the international design company supplying flooring
to the contract market, was founded 65 years ago in
Stockholm when Nils-Erik Eklund had an idea ahead of
his time turning textile waste into rag rugs. Run nowadays
by Eklund's third generation Marie and Annica, the Swedish
flooring brand became under their direction, a design-led
company able to combine ”the conservative, traditional
flooring branch with the boundless creativity of the 
world of fashion” as they proudly declare.

With every new collection, our passion and commitment to
break down the traditional barriers in our industry remains
unweavering. For us, floors are much more than something to 

walk on. They're a palette of unlimited possibilities, a gorgeous 
blend of rock 'n' roll, design, fashion and architecture...” Bolon's 
statement reads. The journey from customary flooring to design
house began in 2003 when Annica and Marie took over the
family business soon discovering that Giorgio Armani 
was using Bolon's products!

> images Altewai.Saome 1 > 5, photo © by Viktor Flumé <
Bolon reached a significant goal in product evolution three
years later introducing the elliptic yarn and started developing
its own platiciser which is entirely based on renewable raw
plant sources but Bolon is becoming to be hailed as a milestone
in experimental fashion by collaborating with designers like
Missoni and Paul Smith. Recently, Bolon teamed up with
Alteway.Saome, the Malmö-based design duo made by
Natalia Altewai and Randa Saome (actually one of my fave
Nordic labels - check this and previous posts) who created
four handmade garments out of the bold flooring patterns.

It's getting me floored how versatile these woven vinyl textiles
are, Alteway Saome came to cut and sew them by hand and
were capable of creating volumes and shapes for stunning
showpieces in their signature style. The design collaboration
between Bolon and Alteway Saome will be developed further
in the upcoming months through a numbered edition of a
special carpet based on the Malmö duo's looks but Bolon
is currently on display in Milan in the exhibition called 'Bolon
Variations - From Material To Product' where the all-purpose
products of the Swedish brand have been used by the students
of the Istituto Marangoni to create gorgeous prototypes and
accessories such as bags, raincoats and shoes.
Resourcefully inspirational!

> images  Istituto Marangoni 6, 7, 8 via <

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Gabriel Lee's private performance

Focused on the silhouette ”in simple lines and bold
details” as he introduces himself, South Korean emerging
designer Gabriel Lee left his homeland for Sydney to study
fashion at Raffles College of Design and Commerce (he
received the Design excellence Award in 2009 for the most
outstanding major studio project) to make his debut on the
runway of Mercedes-Benz fashion week Australia in 2012.

Lee, who's carefully working to launch his eponymous label
in South Korea, Australia and other international locations, 
showcased his latest collection for s/s 2014-15 in Sydney a
few days ago: called 'Private Performance', the collection
has been inspired by representation of 'true beauty' in the
modern materialistic society. ”There are various types of
beauty, but at the tip of each type, there is always a pureness:
the pure beauty” he declares ”that pure beauty cannot be 
shaken or stirred, and it cannot forget its true colour. 
New and crazy things should not be praised as the 
new beauty instead of the true pureness.”

Lee's vivid collection takes its colors from the circus, ”especially
the neon yellow which is the main colour and green is the sub
colour. A faint grey colour was lightly mixed with overly light
appearing neon colours to gently suppress down the overall
colour palette. Several colours were mix-matched to blend
well with the main colour of the collection, neon yellow...” 
he states introducing his generous shapes with emphasized
sleeves and bold floral prints often adorned with pearls and
flower appliqués that highlight his own sporty-chic style.

> all images © by Shin-Hyerim <

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

FOMI's enlightening lesson

Ms. Afomia Tesfaye is the former PR executive (without
formal design training though with experience at top
fashion publications)
who showed beyond doubt how
fashion houses can ethically produce high-end goods
in Africa without compromising on quality and expertise:
three years ago she decided to leave L.A. to fly back
to her native country, Ethiopia, to develop a collection
of contemporary leather handbags, footwear and
accessories which are totally fair trade made 
in her mother country.

Ethiopia is not only the oldest independent country
in Africa yet one of the world's producers of fine
leather, so she started sourcing local materials
and craftsmen, exploiting her fashion taste and
the design skills she cultivated since girlhood when
she widely traveled as a diplomat's daughter.
Afomia brought into being 'FOMI', a colorful, elegant
collection of finest quality leather purses, clutches
and shoulder bags, gorgeous footwear and fancy
laptop cases with a contemporary appeal, 
trendy shades and sporty hints.

Let me voice my admiration for the UCLA literature
graduate turned into a designer of upscale fashion
accessories, I dare say a designer with a cause and
I really appreciate both her sophisticated style and
her life lesson: that means seeing fashion not 
as it is but as it should be.

> all images © by 'FOMI', from the designer's tumblr <

Friday, 4 April 2014

the artsy house of Artsi

More than twenty years later, I can still recall the
unique atmosphere of Marrakech's Mellah - the
Jewish neighborhood in the southern part of the
medina -
and the relentless activities going on
around place des Ferblantiers and the nearby
alleyways: the Jewish quarter has always been
a place of exchanges and its vocation is aptly
epitomized in 'the house', the latest collection 
by 'Artsi'  or better ART/C.

ART/C is the nickname of Artsi Ifrach, the Israeli
designer raised in the Mellah who dedicated his
youth to ballet to retire at 22 becoming at first a
boutique director in Tel Aviv, then a self-taught
couturier launching the ART/C label in Paris to
create bespoke pieces in a distinct showy style with
French overtones. Artsi is constantly inspired by art
and has a strong penchant for photography, so it's
small wonder that he conceived for 'the house' a
stunning photo shoot together with Casablanca born,
Paris educated freelance photographer Laila Haida
(the creator with Hicham Bouzid of 'Riad 18',  
Marrakech's new 'cultural temple').

”'The house' is a glimpse into my private memory, the
happiness that I experienced as a child in a different
place. To preserve the memory and bring it alive.
For the art of the emotion that captures an image”

Artsi wrote introducing his s/s 2014 collection.
 ”I create my pieces with a total freedom, from a state of 
mind I have at the moment. The point is to be respectful
of the past, of the culture and bring something warmer.
In my pieces I want to create a memory that moves
emotionally. Vintage fabrics can match past and present
together, colors and prints are my landscape...”
he declares
adding that ”Napoleon said 'there is a line between the
ridiculous and the sublime', I'm searching this 
line every time in every piece”.

”I imagine a look to create an attitude, it belongs to every
woman to find out her own path of self confidence”
states and his words are skillfully translated into the
gorgeous images taken in the Mellah by Laila Haida:
vivid portraits of women/characters in a beautiful old
house that seems to be revived by their presence,
wearing a range of unisex, often checked outfits exploring
fabrics and materials, prints and color combinations on his
own while a white rectangular frame creating a stunning
picture-in-picture effect. Haida's storytelling images are
currently on display at the 'Les Insolites' bookshop/gallery
in Tangier, one more spot of the Moroccan 
artistic convergence.

> all images © by Laila Haida <

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Sorronda's 'guardian alien'

Australian designer Gail Reid, the mastermind behind
'Gail Sorronda' womenswear label, seems to have
a guardian angel by her side: with a background as a
model and stylist, the Brisbane-born and educated
designer (a QUT, Queensland University of Technology,
graduate) established her label back in 2005 after
winning the Mercedes-Benz Start-Up Award with her
debut collection briskly making a name for herself thanks
to a boldly romantic, goth-inspired aesthetic expressed
through diaphanous black & white dresses.

Gail carefully built up her label's reputation on a deft
interplay between feminine and masculine, black and
white, somber and bright. Her talent and her dogged
determination led her to old Europe where she took
Milan and Paris by surprise being suddenly praised as 
a designer to watch (Dolce & Gabbana cherry 
picked her label to be stocked in their flagship store 
in Milan and it soon turned to be a top selling one).

She started posting sneak peeks of her latest AW 2014-15
'Guardian Alien' collection at the beginning of the year
showing a purple orchid hiding the face of a model
wearing a sheer rose pink dress eventually revealing all
the trans-seasonal collection dainty looks. Gail teamed
up once again with fellow photographer Megan Cullen to
realize a pink-toned lookbook that to my eyes evokes the
glossy feel of lifestyle magazines of the 70s with classic
statuettes acting as alien protectors of the fine garments
in stores yesterday, including Gail Sorronda's James
street concept store in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley.

> all images © by Megan Cullen <

Monday, 31 March 2014

tender monstrology

”Don't be afraid to fall down into the water, to sink
slowly into the seabed. Perhaps, there you will see
a light and find the entryway to a new world. Perhaps
your skin will turn into the bark of a tree, and you will
become invisible, one with the woodlands, so evil
spirits pass you by unnoticed...”

Don't get fooled by the incipit, this story has nothing
to do with Alice in Wonderland or Where the Wild
Things Are, it's the opening to 'Monstrology', the fairy
tale-inspired story/collection by Les', the label created
by Moscow-based young illustrator and designer 
Lesia Paramonova who caught my eyes ever since her 
debut collection (here) with its 'nature to wear' 
inception and its own peculiar mood.

”...You run through the mossy field like a black-eyed
roe deer. You run so rapidly that your legs are caught
by the wind. It lifts you into the air, and all the sounds
become a single hum. Six faithful keepers accompany
you. They are the guardians of this forest, the guides
of your soul” the narrative goes on suddenly getting 
us acquainted with its fabulous mentors.

Les' (which stands both as a diminutive of Lesia and
the Russian word for forest)
has been conceived like
a parallel world, as an invitation to look at ordinary
things from a different point of view deftly exploring
our interaction with nature through stylish garments
representing the access key to its mystical world.
'Monstrology' is about the transformation of six monster 
birds whose unusual features such as their furry spots
 became embroideries that are skillfully juxtaposed with
her signature delicate yet powerful floral prints. 
The collection looks like a compendium of 
Les' otherworldly, unique aesthetic.

> all images © by Alina Valitova <

Saturday, 29 March 2014

art Caturday

On Mona Lisa's lap
It was love at first sight with Zarathustra, the chubby
red cat that appears in countless masterpieces
throughout the history of art  ”to pep 'em up!” as
Russian visual artist Svetlana Petrova declares
introducing her fave model. ”Our name is Zarathustra.
We are a cat. According to our assistant (named by
ignoramuses as our 'owner') we are the best cat in
the world...” Zarathustra's fb fan page reads ”...and
we are also very very fond of Art. Our passion is to sit 

for the great artists. Only great artists can 
appreciate our generous body and sublime soul”
The St. Petersburg-based photographer made the
decision to Photoshop™ Zarathustra into a painting,
Rembrandt's Danae, just to see how it would look:
needless to say the result was astounding so she
started her ”Great Artists' Mews” online project
that obviously became a sensation.

above: posing as Rembrandt's Danae
below: reclined like Manet's Olympia
The artist's muse is a natural born plus model who
loves to eat shrimps, to evaluate the right size of
lobsters as well as to take on different listless poses
like all cats do (without looking so coquettishly
feminine, though). Svetlana started taking pictures
of her tubby cat with several paintings in mind yet
her double work - first behind the camera, then in
digital retouching - it's not easy at all and as she
points out ”sometimes it takes months to take the
right photo” for her gorgeous series of cat-enhanced
paintings. You may think this is art for 'mewseums'
only, but I really like it. Besides, finally I know 
why Leonardo's Mona Lisa is smiling!

measuring a lobster in Willem Claesz's Heda (part.)
all artworks © by Svetlana Petrova/Fat Cat Art