Thursday, 31 July 2014

Miriam Ponsa's hard-working women

Barcelona-based designer Miriam Ponsa takes us
to an Arabian journey with her latest collection: the
graduate of Southampton University, UK, whose
collections are born and bred products of Catalunya
- each garment is produced in local workshops
strengthening ”values like endeavor, teamwork and
authenticity are important to her as well as the recovery
of traditional handicraft techniques”
- emphasizes
once again her distinctive approach as well as 
her social commitment.

Miriam Ponsa's s/s 2015 ”Dones Mulas” (mule-women)
collection is also an outcry of dissent being inspired
by the women porters of Melilla - the Spanish enclave
in northern Morocco - who smuggle heavy loads of goods
across the border in conditions of semi-slavery (some of
them make 3 or 4 trips a day carrying up to 80 kg. tightly 
wrapped around the body) and that's why hand woven
slings, i.e., ribbons and laces play the leading role: ”the
pieces are created using the arts of basketry, macramé,
rug weaving, braiding and knotting. The knotted strings 
symbolize the porters and the condition of slavery 
they are subjected to” she explains.

Clothes and backpacks of her mule-women are made
from cotton 'Cotó Roig', 'Red Cotton', the project devised
by two women, Rosa and Ángela, soon after the
murderous accident in a textile factory in Bangladesh,
to prevent cotton grown in Spain to go to Asian countries
prior to come back exported in cheap quality garments.
Cotó Roig provides sustainable homemade threads to
Catalan tailors and designers controlling the whole
process from farming to manufacturing without the
exploitation of natural resources and vulnerable workers.

Miriam's 'Dones Mulas' was recently awarded the
'080 Award' at the14th edition of 080 Barcelona Fashion
week, the annual event that highlights Catalonia's
creativity showcasing the work of renowned 
designers and budding talents.

Miriam Ponsa posing with the 2014's '080BFW' Award
all images © 080 Barcelona Fashion

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

nevertheless, time waits for no one

A picture is worth a hundred words, nevertheless
you've got to read the story behind it to grasp what
you're staring at: here comes the hopeful story of
young earthlings living in a dreary epoch but dressed
to the nines by London-educated Korean designers
Steve J and Yoni P who graduated from Central Saint
Martins and London College of Fashion respectively
to establish in due course the eponymous upscale
label which is mostly focused on character printing
expressing ”its unique wit and characteristic through
high casual and contemporary taste embedded in
fashionable outers, denims and silky 
and feminine dresses.”

'Steve J and Yoni P' provides a sophisticated take on
streetwear through collections inspired by social and
even political issues stressing the need for freedom
in everyday fashion through gripping design ideas and
a good sense fo humor. The label's fall/winter 2014-15
collection, called 'Nevertheless Time Goes', has been
conceived by the clueful duo as ”the story of a hopeful
journey of young people living in a depressing era.”

'Nevertheless' combines prints and patterns with florals,
pinstripes and camouflage in appealing outfits: comfy
patterned overcoats and biker jackets are worn over
knee-length polka-dot dresses while faux fur is used
for fleecy jackets, mittens and clutches in a palette of
black and ivory, green and navy with touches of khaki
and glitter. All images from Steve J and Yoni P's
collection campaign from Seoul fashion week's
website, uncredited photographer, alas.

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