Saturday, 29 June 2013

to the stars above

image credit:
Today is a truly sad day for Italy because one of its finest
minds, astrophysicist Margherita Hack, passed away in the
early morning. Born in Florence in 1922, she made lasting
contributions not only in radio astronomy and stellar spectrometry
but mostly as a true icon of free thinking and nonconformism.
Scientist, psychologist, astronomy professor, observatory
admin, author of several books, tv commentator and science
popularizer, Margherita was a keen sportswoman (long and
high jump champion in her youth) a passionate cyclist
forevermore and a thorny woman who always fought for
freedom. Margherita was widely known for her rational atheistic
viewpoint, for being a lifelong vegetarian and an antiring
advocate of animal and civil rights who promoted euthanasia
as the most merciful procedure. After being hospitalized last
week, she declined to undergo heart surgery and serenely
died in Trieste at the age of 91 leaving alone her husband Aldo
to whom she had been married for 70 years, a dog, eight
cats and all of us here, lost in time and meaning.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

perfection is boring

I bet you remember I'm hog-wild about the irreverent approach
of young Singaporean designer Max Tan and his signature
”maximizing on minimalistic ideas”. Max conjures up silhouettes
concealing the wearer's body experimenting with playful and
innovative cuts, working on proportions and sometimes blowing
out of them. I happily met his talent when his winter 2010 collection
Against” was showcased in Amsterdam and I've been tracing his
career in constantly redefining the relationship between masculine
and feminine by breaking the rules of drafting and tailoring.
Plain to see, Max designs for a worldly-wise woman with an artistic
and intellectual bent who understands fashion,
confident enough to stand out from the crowd. 

His latest RTW fall-winter 2013-14 collection, aptly called
”Against II”, moves forward his much lauded AW 2010 collection
soldiering on the notion of what is right and wrong by going against
proper tailoring techniques. Previously unseen details are now
intentionally exposed; garments are split up into bi-polar color
block combos; bold slashes and graphic hues blend in harmony
while maintaining their minimalistic disposition.
Max's celebration of mistakes gives birth to gorgeous outfits
in which de-construction meets construction, androgyny
meets soft geometric forms and garish color shades.
Can't wait to see the label's upcoming s/s 2014 collection
that is set to be unveiled in Copenhagen on August
during the official fashion week.

> all images courtesy of Max Tan <

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

having fun with the sitter

'The Sitter' is the quirky name of the s/s 2013 collection
by Taiwanese born, London-based designer Shao Yen
who moved to London in 2003 to study at celebrated
Central Saint Martins while apprenticing with Alexander
McQueen and Hussein Chalayan before launching his
namesake womenswear label right after graduation in
2010. He briskly made a name for himself experimenting
with unconventional materials in traditional forms combining
wearability and eccentricity. 'The Sitter' is the designer's
sixth collection, a lighthearted, wearable collection with
an accurate mixture of textures and fabrics in a sunny
color palette made of canary and creamy yellows, gold
and electric blue. Humorous, sophisticated and commercial
at the same time: there's even more fun with the sitter!

> all images © by Ash Lin (set design by Ting Wang) <

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

knitted Salvation Mountain

Meeting the unconventional knitwear creations by
London-based designer Katie Jones was a joyous
surprise: although still studying at Central Saint
Martins, she was already pushing the boundaries
of traditional crocheting by skillfully playing with
proportions and stitching techniques while moving
out knitted handicrafts into high-end fashion
(see previous post here).

Katie graduated in March this year with an MA
in fashion, unveiling her latest 'Slab City' s/s 2014
collection a couple of weeks ago at the Zeitgeist
show in the imposing settings of St. Bartholomew's
Anglican church in Brighton during the latest 
fashion week, the BFW13.

”Born by serendipitous necessity, the need to give
voice to the creative individuals that are taking
control of their work, their output and their vision...”,
BFW nurtures and supports emerging fashion talents
showcasing a range of key designs, ideas, skills,
concepts and innovative artistry. 

Katie's creations are inspired by traditional art and
crafts, different landscapes and cultures as well as
by the colorful works of compatriot artist Grayson
Perry and mostly by 'Salvation Mountain', the unique
folk art site made of adobe, straw and paint that covers
an entire hill in Niland, near Slab City, California
(ten to one you've seen it in 'Into the Wild' movie).

Undeniably, Perry's wit found a way into the collection
while Salvation Mountain provides both the color palette
and a gorgeously vivid background to the fully hand
crocheted looks. Katie combines her cultural references
with superb workmanship creating modern tribal dresses
in a stunning parade of patterns, knitted facemasks and
fancy openworks, all spiced up with her zany humor.
original catwalk photos © by Gareth Gregg/SunshineLens Photography;
collage by Katie Jones, background photos by Kathy Mcgee

Monday, 24 June 2013

looking at the shadow self

Atlanta-based ceramist Kirsten Stingle has been involved
in storytelling throughout most of her life: she started out
working with the Gorilla Theatre, the ”living theatre for
thinking minds”
, founded 20 years ago by husband and
wife, Aubrey Hampton and Susan Hassey, both accom-
plished playwrights and former circus performers, 
before taking a 90 degree turn.

Kirsten wanted to make a difference in the world, so she
went back to school earning a public policy degree from
Columbia University to work as a social welfare policy
researcher and as teaching assistant, yet 9-11 changed
the course of her life out of the blue. ”... I saw the
disconnection we all have with one another and the
destruction that can evolve from that disconnection...”

she declared to 'Combustus', the online arts and literary
magazine where ”artists and free thinkers ignite” created
by Deanna Laine, a professional writer who's a passionate
believer in the healing and even redemptive power of art. 
”I knew I wanted to reenter the arts (...) I started classes
and fell head-over-heels in love with sculpture, 
which feeds that need I have to tell stories.”

Kirsten's hand-built figures are an attempt at cutting through
the isolation by presenting common threads of the human
experience creating powerfully expressive artworks with
a stunning theatrical sense that comes from her background.
”I feel like we're all actors in our own dramas, but the sort of
dramas I'm doing are not Shakespearian dramas, but rather,
more gritty burlesquey, common man dramas,
 absurd and comical” she states.

Her latest collection of ceramic pieces, called 'Shadow
Circus', follows ”the tradition of southern storytelling and
looking at the shadow self. There's a lot that's going on
subconsciously, and I'm trying to push it into my work.
We all have a polite veneer yet we also all contain 
tragedy and brutality and absurdity. 
Most of the time we try to hide that.”

Using gestures as powerful expressive tools, Kirsten's
ceramic figures are actually mixed-media artworks: she
combines her tiny storytelling creatures (handmade without
the use of molds)
with objets trouvés and fancy discarded
elements from the past in an accurate balance of light and
shadow. ”The ultimate goal of my work is to create honest
depictions of the human quest toward a personal vision of
the future, (...) the mixed media not only creates an intriguing
dialogue of materials but also informs the viewer of the
scope of the figure's journey within each narrative”
Stingle's artistic statement reads. Staring at them 
is like being perched along the edge of a 
deep well overlooking our dark side. 

> all artworks & images © by Kirsten Stingle Studio <

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Hallo, it's me!

image © by Yulia Zhdan, styled by Anna Litkovska
It was Halloween night when I met Dina Lynnyk's
'Creepy Kids', a spooky photo shoot she made for
the trick-or-treating nite (here) and her own label
'It's me' which is characterized by collages and
prints exclusively designed by herself.

The Kiev-based young designer unveiled the
latest 'It's me' capsule collection called ”Splitting”
that explores the all-embracing 3-D technologies
and their influence on us through clean shapes
and gorgeous digital prints in which black & white
graphic textures are blended with red, natural and
golden shades providing liquid effects.

lookbook images © by Roma Pashkovskiy, style by Olga Yanul
By splitting and stretching her collage designs,
Dina creates textures susceptible to dissolution
and disgregation producing melting effects subtly
alluding to someone who's constantly changing
in the quest for new modern forms.

Dina Lynnyk's ”Splitting” smartly suggests that patterns 
and ideas, just like people do, adopt a new sense only
after being melted away. I have a liking for the
sketches and the technical specs she made
while putting together the collection: 
they're worth a thousand words.

sketches and technical designs via the label's fb page

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Frida in H's swan song

Here she comes again: a gripping fashion editorial
has been inspired once more by Mexican legendary
painter and proto-feminist Frida Kahlo. Titled ”Frida
reloaded”, the fashion story is featured in this month's
issue of 'Hache', which is better known as H Magazine,
the Spanish monthly magazine about lifestyle 
trends run by Motorpress Ibérica.

The Barcelona-based printed and online magazine
has been providing for over 13 years key insights into
the fields of culture, fashion, music and technology
through high-profile articles and visuals. ”Frida reloaded”
is actually a fascinating eye-opener on Mexican style
combining iconic features such as its apparently clashing
colors with traditional motifs like skulls or images of the
Virgin Mary through dramatic colorful outfits and pictures.

Shot and directed by Miralla y Calf, a duo of young visual
artists (both born in 1990) devoted to pefection: they're
responsible for developing the concept, locate or create
entirely scenarios, design costumes as well as to shoot
and post-produce each single picture in order to suggest
a whole story behind it. Miralla and Calf joined forces
with stylist Arturo Argüelles Molinete and make up artist
Raquel Àlvarez Diaz (for Art Lab Aveda) to transform
model Alessandra Ching Vargas of Uno Barcelona into
a contemporary Frida walking through the narrow 
streets of the medieval village of Albarracìn, one of the 
quaintest corners of the Teruel province, in Aragona.

Sadly, the gorgeous editorial stands as the magazine's
swan song: the official fb page unhappily reports how
the ongoing credit crunch is to blame for its closure
while the editorial staff thanks all Hache's fellow readers
hoping they enjoyed the magazine as much as they
did making it. ”Frida reloaded” is too good to make us
feel downcast yet it's always sad to see an independent
magazine close down. Hoping against hope that H
would find a new way out, let me voice my 
¡Gracias! for what they did so far.

> all images © by Miralla y Calf, style by Arturo Argüelles Molinete <

Monday, 17 June 2013

un dimanche particulier

Yesterday I was delighted to join a gathering of
particular importance, LVMH's ”Journées Particulières”,
the weekend event in which over 40 sites throughout
Europe open their doors to showcase the savoir-faire
and métiers of the group's 100,000 gifted men and
women. A unique chance for a backstage look at
”where dreams are made” with tours, conferences
and interactive visits to share the passion for
excellence of expert artisans.

I chose to visit 'Villa Pucci Granaiolo', the Tuscany
country mansion of revered designer Emilio Pucci.
Emilio Pucci, Marquess of Barsento (1914-1992),
was a magnetic Florentine aristocrat whose lineage
dates back to the Renaissance as well as an
enthusiastic sportsman who excelled in ski,
swimming, tennis and fencing whose emergence
as a fashion designer happened almost by chance.

Pucci studied in Milan and at the University of
Georgia in Athens, USA, where he won a skiing
scolarship to Oregon's Reed College designing
his first clothes for the skiing team. After WWII,
while he was having a leave in Zermatt, Switzerland,
the ski garb made of stretch fabrics he designed
for a female friend caught the eye of Harper's
Bazaar's photographer Toni Frisell whose editor
soon asked Pucci to design skiwear outfits for a
story on European winter fashion. His sleek designs
caused a sensation and he came to receive several
offers from American manufacturers 
eager to produce them.

By the early 1950s, Emilio Pucci achieved international
recognition for his brightly colored, boldly patterned
designs creating new codes for elegance with his
flowing fabrics and crease-resistant silk jerseys:
the press dubbed him the ”Prince of Prints” and
eventually his brilliantly colored prints became 
an icon of the Swinging Sixties.

Pucci has been a true bellwether for innovation: he
introduced free-moving, lightweight fabrics and
pop art prints but he was also one of the first
designers to grasp that his company needed to
become a brand bearing a single logo but branching
out in interior design, athletic apparels and accessories.
After the founder's death in 1992, the emblematic
label remained as vibrant and relevant as before
under the direction of his daughter Laudomia and
thirteen years ago LMVH group acquired the
majority of it strengthening both 
international expansion and growth.

Villa Pucci Granaiolo was bathed in the sun but as
I stepped in a breath of fresh air from the wide open
exhibit rooms and a crew of good-looking white-shirted
young male attendants with a welcoming smile on
the face made me wow! 'Black loves White' was the
theme of the first room highlighting key moments in
the past and present history of Maison Pucci through
gorgeous black & white dresses while silk jersey
printed evening gowns of the 1970s were displayed
in a dim room where Pucci's textured designs
were projected on netted panels hanging from the
ceiling. The adjacent Talent Center and Print Room
displayed the expert hands of the artisans creating
models inspired by the Maison's signature prints
and the full range of printing techniques.

Such a beautiful, unusual Sunday.