Saturday, 26 July 2014

Ohkojima's tapestry of delights

'Mother', photo © by Kenji Mimura
I went into a speechless rapture when I cast my eyes
on the jaw-dropping artworks by young Japanese artist,
painter and muralist Maki Ohkojima; not only with her
fine paintings but chiefly with her murals. Born in
Higashikurume city, western Tokyo Metropolis, Maki is
a School of Fine Arts graduate who's been constantly
inspired by Mother Nature developing through the years
a sumptuous narrative style through her own 'off the wall'
technique, a style she calls ”the mural beyond the frame.”

The Big Monkey that ate the sun' on its wall
 'The Big Monkey that ate the sun' framed painting
details from 'The Big Monkey that ate the sun'
Making 'Monkeys shout and sing', photo © by Serge Koutchinsky
colorful details from 'Monkeys shout and sing',
      photos © by Serge Koutchinsky
Ohkojima is widely known for her paintings that sprawl
out of their canvases and frames to decorate the walls
around them in intricate hand painted tapestries of lush
foliage, birds and animals: an abundance of wildlife,
exquisitely detailed and sheer as an openwork. 
When drawing her pictures, Maki always thinks that she's 
merely drawing ”one part of a larger world and narrative” 
as she declares, and that's why she goes beyond the canvas,
making ”the land and the picture further connected, 
and one piece of scenery, which I could not see 
before, starts to emerge.”

The Time Flying' Unknown Black Road with details,
      photo © by Kenta Yoshizawa
'Starsong' detail
Making 'In the Forest', photo © by Kenji Mimura
'In the Forest' series on display, photo © by Kenji Mimura
detail from 'In the Forest', photo © by Kenji Mimura
Mother figures, tangled trees growing out of skulls housing
wide-eyed and screaming monkeys and fairy-tale creatures
that make me think both to Dante's Divine Comedy and
the highly detailed works of Hieronymous Bosch, look true
to life within the luxuriant setting yet her vibrant hues
become darker in 'more Mexican' works like 'The Time
Flying' Unknown Black Road (when it comes to murals
Mexico's tradition can't never be ignored)
with inky tones,
spider webs, bones and applied solid birds. Ohkojima
has traveled the world painting murals for the Wall Art
Festival in Ganjad village (Dahanu Tehsil), Maharashtra,
India where Japanese and Indian artists gathered in
February 2013 to show the power of art and to make
learning more fun. She came back a year later and
found her murals alive and well: a proof that
 her art is far from being transient!

A Tree Narrates the World', WAF, Ganjad
        photos © by Toshinobu Takashima
'Let's Talk About the Story of Big Sky', WAF, Ganjad
      photos © by Toshinobu Takashima
'Let's Talk About the Story of Big Sky', WAF, Ganjad
   photo © by Toshinobu Takashima
'Big Sky' one year later, photos © by Toshinobu Takashima

Thursday, 24 July 2014

don't worry, be happy!

I met the YÒUYÒU label thanks to a friend's advice:
gifted Singaporean designer Max Tan (click his tag
to look at his works) dropped hints that I would appreciate
the brand's work which is marked by ”a quiet differentation,
an understated sophistication” as their motto goes.
YÒUYÒU is a ready-to-wear label aiming at bringing
forward ”a fresh perspective to the day-to-day wardrobe
of contemporary women, with foremost focus on design,
quality and aesthetics, offering classic pieces styled with
a modern twist” the designer duo behind it reveals.

YÒUYÒU is the brainchild of designers Jac and Zhiying:
”Jac has a background in fashion design while Zhiying
used to work in the Central Business District. They met
when both of them landed themselves in the fashion
industry and through conversations, found a lack of
options for young working professionals to dress up
for work, while retaining a youthful vibe and energy.
Thus, YÒUYÒU was born...”

YÒUYÒU's fall-winter 2014-15 collection, called
'Don't Worry, Be Happy!” shows spry outfits in a basic
palette made of black & white and bright blue with a
touch of cool gray for few woollen pieces: tight comfy
clothes ”designed with 'You' in mind” as they declare,
”for youthful or those who are young at heart, who seek
a breath of fresh air in their day-to-day wardrobe.”

A lively take on everyday fashion (you're 
absolutely free to whistle Bobby Mc Ferrin's 
eternal tune on the way).

> all images  by Gavin Yeoh Photography <

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

one more wizard coming from Kiev

Thankfully, lots of new fashion talents keep on growing
up in war-torn Ukraine and their work is more and more
part and parcel of the global fashion biz. Kiev-based
young fashion designer, stylist and visual artist
Yana Chervinska studied at the local National University
of Technologies and Design graduating last year 
soon after the creation of her own label lately 

Chervinska's latest collection is a skilled exercise in
shapes and colors, a compendium of her understanding
of clothing through the glass of art and design history,
namely the paintings by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood 
(even if the beautiful model, Evgenia Migovich, to my
eyes looks like a pop Alice in Wonderland coming
back from afternoon tea wearing a hat as a souvenir),
that emphasizes her innovative approach making visible
the aesthetic research behind it: supple pale-toned outfits
with sinuous lines, sculpted volumes, embroideries and
pleats worn with gorgeous soft wizard-like hats and
chunky coordinated platforms. A true statement 
of simplicity and straightforwardness.

> all images © by Yulia Zhdan, styled by Yana Chervinska <

Saturday, 19 July 2014

a flip through the ethnic craze

'Special Moment' © by Bubi Canal, NYC
As you know, fashion has felt the fascination of exotic and
faraway folklore ever since Sergei Diaghilev's 'Ballet Russes'
debuted in Paris in 1909 becoming a prime source of design
inspiration. Countless ethnic influences can be easily traced
throughout the 20th century with different periods, from the
Orientalist fad of 100 years ago to the 1970s and the latest
African influences, in which ethnic style became 
in effect a mainstream look.

from 'Far' editorial © by Addminimal creative studio
    photo © by Dobrin Kashavelov

from ”Multiethnic Gallery” editorial, Vogue Italia,
    January 2013 © by Paolo Roversi

both images from 'Cocktail' © by Namsa Leuba
        for WAD magazine n° 53 
The ethnic touch - provided by African multicolored patterns,
block-printed fabrics, Ghanian kente cloth or by Asian silk
clothing, indigo dip dyeing, mythical dragons, lush florals
and fierce tigers - can actually spice up a look as in 
jewelry as in fashion. Indian, Chinese, Japanese and African
cultures widely shape the Western world's fashion industry
(Mexican and Native American styles included) repeatedly
setting enduring trends that know neither gender nor age
strongly influencing designers, stylists and visual artists
as well as editorials and photo shoots.

© by Namsa Leuba from 'The African Queens' series,
       New York magazine, August 2012 
Jean Paul Gaultier's couture s/s 2013, photo © by
Manon Kündig's 'Bowerbird', © by Michaël Smits
    see 'finders keepers'
Maison Martin Margiela's haute couture s/s 2013,
     photo © by NowFashion
from 'Ancient Songs of Praise'
      © by Giampaolo Sgura for Vogue Japan, May 2014 issue
Let's celebrate this weekend the never-ending charm of the
ethnic mood through a selection (obviously personal hence
incomplete) of
beautiful pictures as a matter of preservation
of indigenous cultures, traditions and techniques worldwide
as well as the right key to blur even more the intercultural
barriers we still have to deal with in our 
multiculturally growing societies.

from 'Ancient Songs of Praise'
      © by Giampaolo Sgura for Vogue Japan, May 2014 issue

Thursday, 17 July 2014

mad as a hatter

My beloved readers' eyes must miss nothing while
scrupulously patrolling the narrow boundary between
art and fashion design and I bet the spooky creations
of a young 'mad hatter', Romanian-born fashion and
accessories designer Dinu Bodiciu, will make 
them squeal with delight.

The London-based designer, a graduate of London
College of Fashion who previously completed a BA
in graphic design in Bucharest and worked as a
costume and stage setting designer for independent
theater companies, focuses his search on the
interaction between body and garments and made
a name for himself with his mask-like hats. Dinu
always plays with shapes and materials: his latest
couture headwear collection, called 'There is no
name', is perfectly balanced between experimentation
and play with gripping visual illusions made working
with a range of materials from synthetic 
resin to human hair.

”I hope people can find my designs uncanny rather  
than futuristic” Dinu declared stressing the nature of
his unearthly head/mouth/eyepieces with translucent
squared or octopus-shaped forms which all at once
reinterpret the whole concept of head covering and
couture millinery or whatever else you like to call it.
What will Dinu pick out of his own hat next time?

> all images © by Alexandra Boanta <

Monday, 14 July 2014

rookie designer's charming power

Ashley Miella's graduate collection took my breath
away at first glance: I saw in my mind's eye three
hooded Wiccan witches who don't fly on broomsticks
but walk at leisure pace through the woods on posh
high-heeled shoes sprucing up their charming powers
through long flowing silk layered gowns, stunning
jackets with leather inserts and gorgeous neck pieces.
Yet Miella's 'Crusade collection' has nothing to do with
witchery; it's all about movement and energy.

Ashley graduated last year from AUT University, in
Auckland, New Zealand, with a BDes in fashion
showcasing her 'Crusade collection' at the AUT
Rookie, the University's end-of-year graduate show,
a display of future talents from New Zealand, an
event able to fire up the career of the most gifted
ones: Miella has been actually selected for a
scholarship for a master course in fashion design
at IED, Istituto Europeo di Design, in Milano through
the 'Design for a Better World' contest and her work
can be voted or reviewed in the Creative Diary
website. Let me introduce her collection 
literally using her own words.

”From the beginning my goal was to have a theatrical
collection, so performance, momentum and drama
were important for me. Inspiration for 'Crusade' draws
from other-worldly warriors on a quest which focuses
more on the role of protector than on the violence of
battle, and the resulting victory or defeat. (...) The
collection responds to an idealistic interpretation of
the journey to individuality, freedom and liberation.
The energy and momentum associated with Crusade
is brought to life through the silks used in the wrap
skirts and pants. I also explored ways of adding
volume using pleats to create these pieces” 
she declared.

”I experimented with laser-cutting leather which
I have used in Crusade's intricate neck pieces.
I used a lot of leather in my collection, including
a hair on hide for one of the jackets. I looked at
creating organic, sculptural shapes for the jackets
and the use of leather helped me achieve this.
The hats in my collection reference warrior-like
headwear, and again the use of leather helps
reinforce the structured silhouette”
Ashley states
but because of its theatricality and dynamism,
Crusade ”needs to be seen in motion with the
flowing silhouettes of the silks contrasting with
the structured leather pieces (...) Crusade
conveys a sense of purpose and explores an
idealistic internal journey of self-discovery.”

> all images © by Frances Carter <