Monday, 30 April 2012

the cruellest month

”April is the cruellest month, breeding lilacs out
of the dead land, mixing memory and desire,
stirring dull roots with spring rain...”  British poet
and dramatist born in the U.S. Thomas Stearns
Eliot eternally wrote in 'The Waste Land'.
I bet you noticed the scarcity of posts in the last
weeks but I spent this April drenched in harsh
conditions and I eventually lost my mother Marisa:
that's the reason why today I just want to post
a picture of her taken when she was in her
twenties, when her lightheartedness and
beauty were in full swing. Ciao mamma.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

festival-goers' lookbook

The season of music and arts festival is about to begin
and fans are eager to gather to hear music and dance
(in truth the Coachella music & arts festival already took
place in Indio, California, over the past two weekends)

and that's why American clothing retailer 'Free People'
suggests some festival styling inspiration through 
its April 'Festival Lookbook'.

Free People was originally founded in West Philadelphia
back in the 1970s by Dick Hayne and through the years
the first store evolved into a wholesale line which is part
of the Urban Outfitters family of companies and lately
a super-duper online shop providing different lines of
clothing and countless options for creative and confident
twenty-something women always keeping with
 good quality and affordability.

Every single piece is conceived for a creative girl who
wants to be ”...comfortable in all aspects of her being,
free and adventurous, sweet to tough to tomboy to
romantic. A girl (...) who loves Donovan as much as
she loves The Dears, and can't resist petting any
dog that passes by on the street.” reads the 
brand's statement.

The wistful lookbook shows suggestions in denim, 
bell-bottom trousers, boho prints and fringes with white 
peekaboo frocks strongly evoking a 1970s folkish mood 
through the gripping images taken by New York-based 
photographer Anna Palma with star model Linda Vojtova.

> all images © by Anna Palma/Free People <

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

wrapped in web

You probably know I much I adore the way new talented
designers-to-be experiment unusual methods, tools and
techniques in order to create surprising conceptual apparel
beyond the conventional limitations of fabric, needle and
thread and that's why I have a liking for 'Nuue', 
Jungeun Lee's 2011 graduate collection.

The word Nuue, originally from Korea, stands for cocoon
and was aptly chosen by the gifted mixed media textiles
graduate from London's Royal College of Art to tag her
innovative sculptural garment-like creations made by
spinning synthetic fibres around a desired shape such
as a wooden mannequin that later on, through heating
and pressure, become riveting latticework garments
and even shoes without a single stitch in them.

Sort of wearable sculptures made through a technique
(even though her materials are petroleum-based) similar
to the liquid-molding one developed by Samantha Clare
Murray whose work I recently featured that fully display
the potential of new techniques strongly reducing 
both wastage and leftover of fabrics while pushing 
the boundaries of dressmaking.

Jungeun Lee teamed up with fellow RCA's alumna,
product designer Shota Aoyagi in establishing Studio Koya,
the avant-garde studio devising zero-waste projects in
fashion and industrial design through eye-catching prototypal
gears that will play a pivotal role in shaping the future.

> all images © by studio koya <

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

ode to super mothers

”...Mom played the roles of wife, mother, daughter, 
income-earner, independent-thinker, hostess, dinner-maker, 
family accountant, homework tutor and household organizer 
without a bat of her mascara'd eyelashes. 
Preoccupied with growing up, I was oblivious to this 
amazing juggling act but from my adult woman perspective, 
it seems a heroic and near-impossible feat, not to mention a 
struggle. And, yet, mom did it in style...” wrote
fashion photographer Heidi Lender introducing her 
waggish ode to mothers, or better, to super mothers.

Covering the fashion bash for national magazines, writing
reports about lifestyle, food and travel as well as styling
photo shoots around the world, Heidi started her soulful
quest embracing yoga in India and opening later on her
own studio in San Francisco but eventually came to 
find herself behind the lens of a camera creating 
gripping storytelling images.

Her 15-image series called ”She can leap tall buildings”
making reference to the limitless fortitude of her and all
the mothers of the world whose multidisciplinary skills
are tasked since the beginning of time, plays with the
traditional household chores that almost every woman
takes on every single day through a faceless character
wearing a Winehouse-inspired beehive wig as black
as a raven upon hand-drawn props.

”I humbly nod to all the superwomen of the world,  
especially my mother, who amazingly do it all” she
says about her witty tribute to mothers and I nod in
agreement recalling my dear mother's zest for life.

> all images © by Heidi Lender, 2011 via Jennifer Schwartz gallery <

Monday, 23 April 2012

smarter than fiction

The first thing I noticed when I came face to face with
British designer Hermione de Paula's work was obviously
her name because I couldn't stop myself from thinking
to the world-famous HP's namesake character whose
author J.K. Rowling stated resembling her at a younger
age, with all her insecurity and fear of failure.

'Our' Hermione clearly didn't study at Hogwarts, she's
a graduate from eminent London's Central Saint Martins
whose inspiration however comes from unconventional
female characters, like in her AW 12-13 collection called
'Marguerite's Menagerie' that ”tells the story of a twisted
English flower, Hermione's dark lolita, Marguerite,
is an unconventional collector of sorts whose passion

 lies with her extraordinary menagerie”... 
she wrote introducing it.

”Unconventional florals are re-imagined with an animalistic
twist. Here nothing is quite as it seems, a flower is not 

 just a flower....” she adds and actually at a closer look
her rose petals reveal to be made of fish tails while 
flowers come out from metal and ice textures.
I suddenly went into raptures about the specimen in
Hermione's latest menagerie in which her signature
dark-twisted, collaged or hand-painted floral prints 
embark tropical birds, flying fishes and bees on dainty 
layered chiffons with feather adornments and 
bead embroideries here and there.

Originally from Devon, Hermione gained a significant
experience with high-class labels and brands such as
Christian Dior Couture, John Galliano and Alexander
McQueen and working for Jennifer Nicholson in L.A.
before establishing her eponymous RTW label in 2008
in London, where she keeps on consulting for companies
such as Nicholas Kirkwood (needless to say the shoes
in the collection are by the Germany-born top-notch
footwear designer with whom she collaborated as a
print consultant on pre-collections and special lines
such as the Keith Haring array).

Hermione's melodramatic collection shows once again
her penchant for kooky design and asymmetrical hemlines
skillfully mixing traditional English craftsmanship with her
own definition of femininity and she wittily describes her
brand's philosophy as ”I probably shouldn't, but I will
anyway.” Hermione seems to be therefore the name of
an overachiever, while the know-it-all fictitious character 
excels academically the real one stands out in advancing
her graceful style with playfulness and originality.

> all photos © by Kristin Vicari, style by Kate Ruth <

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

little mermaid's younger sibling

image credit: Elmgreen & Dragset/Rex Features
I was quite surprised to hear that Copenhagen's iconic
landmark, the world famous statue of 'The Little Mermaid',
will soon have a fellow model, a 99 years younger
brother posing identically to her on a smooth rock in
Elsinore harbor, you got it, the site of Shakespeare's
Hamlet. Called 'Han', the glinting young merman
comes from the cheeky minds of 'Elmgreen & Dragset',
the artistic duo known for the subversive humor of
their work, such as the Trafalgar Square's Fourth
Plinth bronze statue of a boy on a rocking horse or
the remote 'Prada Marfa' boutique in the Texan
desert, will be inaugurated on June and I have to
admit I like the idea of gender equality in art.
Welcome dear boy.

Monday, 16 April 2012

mechanically romantic

Nhu Duong is a young gifted Swedish designer and
dressmaker, actually a kung fu master's daughter born
in Saigon, Vietnam, who moved to Sweden at the age of
seven, studied fashion in Florence and graduated in 2008
from Stockholm's Beckmans college of design marking
a significant impression as a new talent to watch.

Nhu showcased her different approach to fashion since
the beginning exploring the limits of commercial and
high-end fashion experimenting with everyday objects,
fine fabrics and unconventional materials while 
carefully setting up her own tailored style.
She was awarded the Young Fashion Industry prize 
and debuted at Stockholm fashion week in 2009, 
receiving a year later an H&M scholarship 
as the 'emerging talent of the year'.

Her spring-summer 12 'Coding' collection whose witty
catchphrase reads: ”embrace the rule, follow it, become
code”, bears a fancy sporty look focused on neutral
hues and oversized silhouettes with wide cargo pants
inspired by her father's kung fu outfit suddenly bursting
with color in tip-top cut evening dresses (among which
a gorgeous gleaming metallic dress) in a subtle 
game of low&high fashion hints.
Through coded weaving and prints the 15-piece
collection the designer described to Dazed as
”mechanical but still very romantic”  could be
hailed as the harbinger of a new fresh touch
in the Scandinavian take on fashion design.

> all images from the designer's website <

Friday, 13 April 2012

for love & lemons

FL&L's collection opening portrait © by John Chan
The eclectic sense of style of legendary Mexican
painter Frida Kahlo with her unique mixing of apparently
clashing patterns and textures in bold colors and her
love for accessories such as ornate jewelry and brightly
colored flowered headpieces lingers on inspiring 
the world of fashion from decades.

Frida's attire lately came to inspire ”Viva la Vida”, the
spring collection of  ”For Love & Lemons”, the southern
California womenswear brand specialized in blended
fabrics known for its free-spirited, casual take on fashion.
Like Frida did, the FL&L girl has a passion for life and
freedom, she's a rebel with a cause who stands out on
her own ”...she's the new tomboy, she knows 
what she wants and exactly how to get it” 
the designer duo wrote.

The name of the downtown L.A. based lifestyle brand
founded by Wyoming-born lifelong friends Gillian Mahin
and Laura Hall dates back to the lemonade stall they
developed together in their salad days that briskly
became the talk of the town (Jackson Hole, WY) with
their energized attitude and obviously the unique style
of lemonade.  ”But it was less about the lemons,
and more about the love.”

”For Love & Lemons” shows once more its breezy
style through an eye-catching lookbook by photographer
Zoey Grossman featuring IMG model Valeria Efanova
in the colorful settings of an old villa with styling 
by Ashley Glorioso and some graphic overlays 
by Gillian Mahin that powerfully evokes 
Frida's timeless elegance.

”They thought I was a surrealist, but I wasn't.
I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.”

Frida Khalo

> all lookbook images © by Zoey Grossman, styling by Ashley Glorioso <

Thursday, 12 April 2012

summer solid juice

”Any shape with the right surface can become a wearable 
 object” is the motto adopted by young gifted graduate
designer Samantha Clare Murray who came to 
develop through countless tryouts her own tricky
technique to mold garments by binding 
fibers to a liquid base.

Samantha recently graduated in fashion from Massey
University in Wellington, ”the engine of new New Zealand”
as the campus website reads, with a five-piece collection
called ”Sweet Suspension” in which she amazingly 
turned fruit-scented liquids into gripping couture 
shapes for a ”full sensory experience”.
Each single shape is hand carved, vacuum formed 
and poured using her own zero-waste method, 
aptly called 'Fiberform'.

Samantha's graduate capsule summer range aims to
explore the potential of clothing construction and
manipulation through vivid 3-D wearable forms, half
the way between a classical statue and a candy
lollipop, pushing the boundaries of textile 
innovation and garment manufacturing.
I strongly hope her application for London's Central
Saint Martins' postgraduate Textile Futures course
will soon be accepted to boost her smart ideas.

> all images from the Down Under talent's website <

Monday, 9 April 2012

shadow play

Rashad Alakbarov has a genius for 'shadow art' using
everyday or found objects to reflect their shadows creating
as if by magic convincing cityscapes as well unique portraits.
Rashad's able enough to generate a painting illuminating
translucent colored airplanes suspended from the 
ceiling or a credibile portrait hanging empty bottles 
of water at different heights and angles.

The Azerbaijan artist who graduated in decorative arts
from Baku's national state Academy of Fine Arts in 2001
actually dabbled in art as a young dude and came to
make a name for himself with his shadow installations
playing with clever lighting and perspective craftiness
but he's basically a painter and a sculptor with 
experience in theatre decoration and video making.

His works have been recently displayed in ”Fly to Baku”
group show at Phillips de Pury Gallery in London, the
exhibition curated by Hervé Mikaeloff featuring 21
contemporary artists from Azerbaijan that gave
detailed rundown on the country's vibrant art scene 
while proving that the Western mainstream audience 
is finally ready to recognize the full worth of 
contemporary art from faraway countries and 
the often neglected achievements of visual and 
conceptual artists from the broader Middle East region.

There' something magic in Rashad's simple yet
inventive take on shadow play.

> all images from the artist's fb page <