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Friday, November 30, 2007

We couldn't make it to The Spell of Information, Deryck Walker's installation based on his trademark windmill symbol at SWG3 gallery in Glasgow, so we asked the Scottish-born, London-showing designer to fill us in...

"There were a few raised eyebrows on the opening night of the exhibition. As the crowd of friends, family and visitors arrived, I had the feeling that they were expecting some kind of Zoolander fashion show extravaganza, but were faced with a suspended installation made up of over 1000 windmills in the vast disused car showroom and gallery space of SWG3. It all started after I created a sculpture [left] last year for the Reindeer pop-up restaurant, where I interpreted the traditional Christmas tree, using over a hundred windmills of varying sizes suspended in motion. This time I needed to fill the large gallery space with my windmills and wanted to show visually how the movement of an idea might look. A slightly daunting task!

I started by stringing the smallest windmills from the ceiling and interlocking them with increasingly larger sizes. Slowly, the sculpture took shape. I enlisted the help of London filmmaker Ian Woodridge to document the process, as well as volunteers from local schools and colleges to help with the construction. We’ve also been inviting local students into the gallery for talks on creativity and multimedia. I feel in Scotland right now there’s an artistic freedom, an optimistic feeling where anything seems possible, and artists and designers are able to cross genres. Mutley, SWG3's curator, is also instrumental in this movement and has worked closely with Scottish talent such as Jim Lambie and Douglas Gordon.

Gaining recognition as a fashion designer over the past few years has been a great experience, but I feel that creativity doesn’t have to sit neatly within the boundaries of one's area of expertise, be it fashion, design, art or film. There are so many different ways of expressing yourself and they can all feed off and enrich each other. The installation so far has been a runaway success, but now it's time for my next project: London Fashion Week. Already!"


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cesar Padilla ponders a desperate situation...

Recently, the best-selling novelist Ira Levin (Rosemary's Baby, The Boys from Brazil) passed away. As I read his obituary, I fondly recalled what is, in my opinion, his greatest work, The Stepford Wives—so prophetic in recognizing the decline of the post-feminist woman. I now realize that everywhere I go, the Desperate Housewife is the new Stepford Wife. Across the country, women en masse seem fascinated with losing their identities in an effort to consume that most boring, uninspired look seen on TV. At best, the look is Donna Karan; at worst, TJ Maxx—the same nasty blonde highlights, the same damaged and fried look, same eyebrows. Ad nauseam. Housewives, newscasters, lawyers, politicians, socialites, debutantes, strippers, single women, moms and so on. Should they show crack or not? Valley or no valley? These are the new degrees of separation.

And as American women do their best to channel their inner Desperate Housewife, fashion companies across the board have done a tremendous job in the homogenization of these women. As I venture into retail establishments, I realize how uniform women's fashion has become. The urban woman is now the suburban woman and vice versa. What was once relegated to Stepford is now everywhere. What is the difference between Urban Outfitters, Ann Taylor, Gap, Old Navy, Bebe, Forever 21, Calypso and the rest when they all have the same color palettes, fabrics, styles and cuts, give or take a few inches? C'mon ladies, rise above.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Berlinnocence Lost, Part II

The second installment of Cyril Duval's German adventure...

Two days later ended up being totally different from the Bang Bang bar. Beating the cold snap with my Abominable Snowman fur coat, I went with Hanayo to HAU 2 theater for Bruce LaBruce's premiere of his first play, Cheap Blacky. The place was packed and it became obvious that it was already a success. Here's what Bruce told me about his experimental concept: "The idea for Cheap Blacky originated from the moment it dawned on me that there is a black servant named Whity in Fassbinder’s film “Whity” and a white servant named Blacky in Joseph Losey’s film Boom! As for this production, after one day rehearsing in the space, I realized we would have to have major lighting, so we requested and got the best lighting guy in the house, a Marxist intellectual lighting technician! So we lit it like a rock show!”

The lights went down, then up, followed by ninety minutes of flamboyance. I knew right away that I was watching a reinterpretation of the film Theorema by Pier Paolo Pasolini. (Quickly, for those who haven't seen it, it's about the beautiful and young Terence Stamp as a mysterious guest in the house of a bourgeois Milanese family. His velvet eyes and magnetic sex appeal seduce all members of the family, including the teenage kids, both parents and the maid, who is the other central character). Thrilled that I was watching a recreation of one of the most influential movies I've ever seen, I was all eyes and forgot to breath at times. The best moment for me was when the maid, played by Vaginal Davis, first entered, descending into the crowd and singing the blues, à la Billie Holiday, in a distorted but vocally perfect way.

Later, at the afterparty, where Peaches and others were DJing, I learned that Bruce and Vag have known each other for more than fifteen years, since Vag lived in California (she just relocated to Berlin), and that Bruce introduced her work to the Butt guys, who awarded her with their latest cover. Such family stories! As the play is going on tour, starting with Zurich, I urge everyone to see it.

I then had to leave for Miami, where my mongolian lamb fur coat would not be necessary, though I was sure it would still fit in. But I can't wait to be back in Berlin, if for nothing more than the mystical toe worship that Vaginal Davis promised me. My French feet will never be cold again. Oh, I almost forgot! Terence Koh would like to tell Hintsters that asianpunkboy is back.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Berlinnocence Lost, Part I

We asked Cyril Duval—aka item idem—to tell us all about his first trip to Berlin...

On my way to the Netherlands to accept a Great Indoors Award for my design of Bernhard Willhelm's Tokyo flagship [see Hint's store report, April '06], I decided to stop over in Berlin to take in two art shows by friends Terence Koh and Bruce LaBruce. I wasn't prepared, however, to be welcomed by snow and a 20-degree temperature drop from what I'm used to in my home of Tokyo. Shame on me for bringing nothing heavier than a simple jacket. So I borrowed an Abominable Snowman coat to weather the weather.

Having missed the September opening of "Blame Canada," a gallery show by Terence and Bruce inspired by Twin Peaks, I wouldn't miss the closing party at Bang Bang, a well-named bar and large-scale installation at Peres Projects Berlin, in the Kreutzberg area. As neither Terence (out of town) nor Bruce (in town, but uber-busy on something else—see below) could make it, I went with Hanayo, the ultimate German goddess-guide. Hanayo and I became very good friends in Tokyo a while back and we have many friends in common, such as Michel Gaubert, who discovered her when she famously covered "Joe le Taxi." Hanayo and I even have our own invisible band. She knows all about Berlin and who's in town at any given moment. And she has that little extra je ne sais quoi that makes everyone go totally crazy for her.

Hanayo [left] and I arrived to a dark space with black-latex-covered walls (a Terence trademark? It did remind me of "God," his antichrist installation at de Pury & Luxembourg in Zurich) and I was struck by how insane the place was, anchored by a giant metal dance floor recalling Michael Jackson's sidewalk-tapping Billie Jean video. But here the tiles were all black, conveying pure darkness—no lights or smoke, just a ladder leading up to the second floor on the ceiling. For a long time I've known about Bruce and Terence's idea of a backroom with glory holes placed horizontally—imagine manhoods in stalagmite/stalactite formation—and here it was right in front of me, but without the flesh of opening night.

With people dancing maniacally around me, I managed to make it to the bar, where I got a Twin Peaks flash. Suddenly I was in Laura Palmer's worst nightmare, except there was no red-velvet curtain from which Bob, her killer, might pop out, just a bar heavily decorated with trophy animal heads, upside-down oil paintings, weapons and other fetish hunting curiosities. To me, the bar became the core piece, or at least the one directing the overall concept. And then, someone whispered to me, "Terence Koh—he is Armageddon!"

To Be Continued...

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Monday, November 26, 2007

We sent Glenn Belverio to Belo Horizonte for a peek at what the Brazilians are up to...

Belo Horizonte, located in Brazil’s state of Minas Gerais, does not have spectacular beaches, a Godzilla-sized Christ statue, or an über-hedonistic Carnival celebration. But while few cities in the world can compete with Rio, what Belo Horizonte does have is 12,000 bars (including an outdoor pub in the middle of the woods called Freud), an important church designed by Oscar Niemeyer, and a lively art and thrash-metal scene.

Brazil's third largest city is also host to the Minas Trend Preview, a 3-day event where 80 fashion and accessories brands recently showcased their designs. Sponsored by ABIT, the Brazilian Textile and Apparel Industry Association, the mini-Fashion Week was a chance for international buyers and press to see what Brazil and beyond will be wearing for fall/winter 2008. (For those readers who have never ventured out of the Northern Hemisphere, South America’s winter occurs during the North’s summer, and vice versa. Because of the temperate winter season, “snowflakes in Brazil” is usually along the lines of a Holly Golightly/Sally Tomato “weather” forecast, if you catch my drift. My fashion fantasy for a Brazilian winter involves donning a mink bolero and a pair of Rosa Chá sungas, and heading for the nearest chaise longue with a pitcher of caipirinhas.)

MTV Brazil's Daniella Cicarelli walking for Bárbara Bela
Myriam Leon Troconiz of Ocean Drive Venezuela and Elle Argentina fashion editor Simona Martinez.

And just WHO is Brazil wearing these days? On the first day of Minas Trend, MTV Brazil siren Daniella Cicarelli vamped down the runway in a satin dress by Bárbara Bela and shoes by Sylvia Brandão. Lesser deities marched around a wall bisecting the runway in new looks from Di Bela, Vivaz, and Fabiana Milazzo. 1920’s-style hats from Pedro Motta complemented flapper-like dresses, some of which were adorned with ostrich-feather-trimmed hems. One standout brand was Coven. “Like Missoni, only better!” one retail site chirps about the line’s striped and patterned knitted pieces. Bright and peppy, Coven’s designs brought a punch of frivolity to the parade of more serious social dresses. Designed by Liliane Rebehy Queiroz, the name of this Belo Horizonte-based company is inspired by “the good luck that witches bring.”

The weather witches brought bad luck on the second evening of Minas Trend when Brazil’s rainy season reached typhoon proportions. Three of the exhibition tents collapsed from the storm’s force, while Biblical plague-sized hailstones pelted hapless trend spotters. “People were praying, screaming, and crying,” one eyewitness told me. Fortunately, our small group of journos and editors were safely back at the hotel watching Philip Seymour Hoffman’s overrated portrayal of Truman Capote on TV. (Somehow the Portuguese subtitles made it more bearable.)

Sunshine accompanied us on the following day when we ventured away from the shows. After a delicious lunch of chicken cooked in its own blood, polenta, and sugar-saturated green figs, we stopped by the shop of Ronaldo Fraga in the São Pedro district. We loved the store’s mannequins and the designer’s clever use of stripes and patterns.

Ronaldo Fraga shop
cute car shoes from Fraga

A Portuguese feast, chicken cooked in its own blood—yummy!
The fabulous Lalá Guimarães at Dona Lucinha

During a break from the Minas Trend Preview, we visited the fantastic Church of St. Francis of Assisi in Pampulha. Designed by Communist architect Oscar Niemeyer (the mastermind who designed the capital city of Brasilia) in 1943, the controversial church was not consecrated by the Catholic powers-that-be until 1959. This was partly due to the over-sensual representations of Christ inside the church. The bas relief of Adam in the Garden of Eden looks like a scene from a gay porn film! And then there's the rumor that the church resembles a hammer and sickle when viewed from above. What's not to love? Niemeyer, by the way, will turn 100 years old this December 15th.

Church of St. Francis of Assisi
Simona ascends the ramp at the Niemeyer-designed Museum of Modern Art

Belo Horizonte means "beautiful horizon" in Portuguese
Our wonderful host, Gabriel Rajão of ABIT

Debonaire Elle Argentina photographer Gustavo DiMario
Yours truly relaxing after a long day of Brazilian fashion and architecture


Saturday, November 24, 2007

You may know London-based Husam El Odeh from the conceptual jewelry and accessories he's designed for Marios Schwab, Siv Stodal and Mihara Yasuhiras—i.e. sunglasses made from a plastic comb, a necklace made from magnifying lenses. Now the graduate of Berlin's Hochschule der Kuenste has returned to the art of illustration. "I've been obsessed with bodies," he tells us, "since I was a child, when I made drawings of different types of breasts—hanging, big, small, perky—that I saw in the changing room when my mum took me swimming. These images are two really cute Hoxton kids who I asked to come over to my studio." More images can be found at his new agency's website.


Friday, November 23, 2007

Animated accessories by Yoshiko Creation are the current obsession of Tokyo-based Polish illustrator and Hint contributor Przemek Sobocki...

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Brits (and non-Brits who show in London) at Noovo: Gareth Pugh, Patrik Söderstam, Boudicca, Peter Pilotto and new Cacharel designers Eley Kishimoto. Guess which one got borracho off his ass one night, threatened a couple of burly Spanish bouncers and was subsequently pummeled on the street?

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Txell Miras, another fave from Noovo...

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José Castro, who I've been a super-huge fan of since seeing his shows in Paris and Barcelona, is another Galician designer and one of the high points of Noovo...

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I've long known of Spanish designers' uncanny ability to conjure a dark, rich and gothic grandeur. Surely this has everything to do with the influence of Catholicism and its preoccupation with pageantry, death and black lace. And yet every time I see a fashion show in Spain, I'm surprised all over again. This happened earlier this month on a trip to Santiago de Compostela for the avant-garde fashion festival Noovo—a kind of Iberian Hyères. Santiago is in the far northwest corner of the country, in an autonomous region called Galicia. Its 1000-year-old cathedral is not only a World Heritage Site, but the final destination of the largest pilgrimage in the Catholic church, to this day, attracting swarms of pilgrims each year, some of whom travel on foot (can you imagine?). The cathedral is truly a marvel, even by this devout atheist's standards. In its baroque shadow, Noovo presented some 30 collections by Galician fashion students (competing for the cash and glory of the Loida Prize), Spanish designers and international designers, who included Gareth Pugh, Boudicca, Romain Kremer, Petar Petrov and Threeasfour. I'll post more from Noovo, which is only in its first year, but for now, these are the first- and second-place winners of the award: Paz Villar (top row) and Manuel Bolaño....

Oh, and scroll down a bit to Nov. 13 for a video of Henrik Vibskov's recreation of his musical spring collection.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

We had to show you what our friend and men's jewelry designer Hannah Martin is up to. This is her new H line, which, she says, is "meant to conjure an underworld of vice with its brutal beauty and darkly enigmatic glamour—a place full of gangsters, hellraisers and fallen rock stars." No wonder Vivienne Westwood and Christopher Bailey are fans of the St Martins grad who formerly worked at Givenchy and Cartier. Did we mention she's collaborated with London taxidermists McKinley & Son? The world could use more risk-takers like her.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Electric Palace, Laurent Grasso's video exhibition at Studio 814 (through November 22 only), is both magnetic and mesmerizing. Each 10 minutes long, his films of electrically charged pollen slowly swirling around the tallest tower in Berlin, the Fernsehturm, and a digitally designed Aurora Borealis glowing in the night sky beautifully emphasize these mysterious natural occurrences—and provide more evidence of the Paris-based artist's rising-star status.

Electric Palace, Studio 814, 814 Broadway (b/w 11th and 12th St.), 4th fl, 212-460-8114. In Paris, Laurent Grasso is represented by Chez Valentin gallery.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Dean Mayo Davies joins in some luxury lampooning...

"Luxury" is the cliché of our times, a word that's become so overused in industry spiel that whatever it flogs is often anything but. With all the impact of a photocopier running low on toner, the word should be used sparingly.

German menswear talent Carola Euler understands this and went all conceptual to make an excitingly mundane point about überbranding, product extension and status symbols. With sexy, tongue-in-cheek images of her spring 2008 campaign filling the windows of London's B Store—itself on Savile Row, a street that finds its raison d'etre more and more marginalized, thanks to a hideous leisurewear behemoth where Jil Sander used to be—she held a cocktail reception to showcase her men's line, as well as beautifully barbed accessories and grooming products that don't actually exist but prove tidy objects with which to criticize notions of luxury. These include the Carolex watch, pristinely-packaged fragrances and skincare, cheeky socks, luggage and trickle-down cigarette lighters, which proved such a talking point they may actually become available to order. So, ironically, art and commerce may meet again.

“I was inspired by the idea of what a 16-year-old boy would buy if he suddenly came into lots of money,” Carola has said, “that kind of naïve approach to luxury dressing.”

Packed inside and out (the smokers' strip outside any building is the place to be these days) were Wonderland's fashion editor Lauren Blane, artist/designer Simon Thorogood and WGSN’s Ellie Hay (in a Marc Jacobs coat so major it almost had an impromptu cocktail reception itself), not to mention everyone's favorite publicist Mandi Lennard, who shouted "Gatecrasher!" to me across the crowded room upon my arrival, before coming over for a hug and to show me her latest damn-fine Yves Saint Laurent splurge. Also spotted in the heaving throng were British GQ’s Charlie Porter, Victoria Young and Anders Soelvsten Thomsen of Pop magazine, Tank’s Isaac Lock and Sam editor Jason Hughes, who's also a close creative consultant to Euler.

Strangely, and yet not, I didn't meet Carola herself. She was, I’m assured, present somewhere on site, but then how would one recognize the notoriously camera-shy designer? There's as much chance of clocking her visage in print as there is of Martin Margiela doing MTV Cribs. Wherever you were Carola, thank you.

And then, another luxurious concept popped into my mind: skip the pub, have an early night and sleep. Bag it up—I'll take it.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

yourboyhood meets Hint

Street style from Seoul and beyond...

Paris, France
thu, October 04, 2007
Carri Mundane (26), Cassette Playa

place: Rendez-Vous Paris, 111, Boulevard Beaumarchais, Paris 3

t-shirt _ Cassette Playa
shoes _ Cassette Playa x S***R

homepage: http://www.cassetteplaya.com

Seoul, S.Korea
sat, October 20, 2007
Kim In sook (23), student of Esmod Seoul / Kim YoungBin (27), tattooist

place: 08 s/s Seoul Collection show at SETEC, Daechi-dong, Gangnam-gu

jacket _ no brand / vintage
parka _ c.neeon /
t-shirt _ / D:arl
pants _ c.neeon / vintage
shoes _ vintage / vintage
hat _ / vintage
necklace _ / pushBUTTON
bag _ Bernhard Willhelm / punk shop

homepage: unknown / http://www.cyworld.com/punkjunk

Seoul, S.Korea
wed, October 24, 2007
Lee In woo (25) sleep walker director, Drifterz crew

place: DAILY PROJECTS, 1-24, Chungdam-dong, Kangnam-gu

cape _ sleep walker

homepage: http://brokenseven.com/blog/inwoos

Seoul, S.Korea
thu, October 25, 2007
Son Jae hyun (20), student

place: DAILY PROJECTS, 1-24, Chungdam-dong, Kangnam-gu

jacket _ Nine Six
shirt _ Ann Demeulemeester
pants _ April 77
shoes _ George Cox
necklace _ Ann Demeulemeester

homepage: http://www.cyworld.com/bannister

Seoul, S.Korea
fri, November 02, 2007
Kim Kieun (21), DAILY PROJECTS Staff

place: DAILY PROJECTS, 1-24, Chungdam-dong, Kangnam-gu

parka _ swd skyward
t-shirt _ swd skyward
pants _ swd skyward
shoes _ Raf Simons

homepage: http://www.cyworld.com/kieun_

photographs by Hong Sukwoo a.k.a. yourboyhood.com

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Zune (you know, Microsoft's answer to iPod) commissioned 18 graphic artists from around the world to collaborate on a limited-edition range of what they're calling Zune Originals, with each device engraved on the back with the artist's most signature work. These are pics from the New York launch party last night. On the left is Pierre Marie, the most fashion-y of the bunch, who hails from L'Eclaireur store in Paris and has worked with designers Melodie Wolf, Romain Kremer, Yazbukey and our current obsession, jewellerist (if that's not a word, it is now) Yoshiko. Stunners International, the DJs, are on the right...

Photos by David Prutting for Patrick McMullan

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A Salute to Louise Bourgeois

Artist, warrior and nonagenarian Louise Bourgeois is the subject of her first retrospective in the UK, at Tate Modern. Go. See it. Now. You’ll leave in awe of the formidable woman, her deep-rooted rage and how, even at 95, she refuses to be boxed in. She’d destroy anyone who tried.

The rebellious pioneer of confessional art, Bourgeois utilized, and continues to utilize, art as a vehicle to examine her anxiety over not only the human condition—womanhood, motherhood, sex, memory—but also her tumultuous childhood living with her affair-driven father and mother whom she felt had abandoned her emotionally.

Perhaps the most poignant aspect of her installations, sculptures, needleworks and paintings is that everything is a relic, simply because she’s lived through so much history. Just by visiting the exhibition, you're connecting with nearly a century past, nevermind the personal shit she’s been through (make sure you also see the fascinating, statue-smashing, glass-breaking, life-affirming video documentary while you’re there).

It's a celebration of a lifetime of work from a profound and challenging artist, plus she’s still working from her base in New York and counts our much-missed Helmut Lang as a friend and colleague. Hint-approved on every level. Fight on, Louise!

Louise Bourgeois, Tate Modern, Bankside SE1, London, +44 20 7887 8888, through January 20, 2008

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

On November 4, Danish designer Henrik Vibskov repeated his spring 08 collection at Noovo Fashion Festival in Spain. You remember, the collection with musical instruments that play when models get on stationary bikes and pedal. It's cute and conceptual at the same time. And the message is clear, that a group must act together to create peace and harmony. As I took this video, though, I had the feeling that it must have been a real pain in the arse to get all the heavy pieces of the large installation from Copenhagen to the little town of Santiago. And, as Henrik confirmed later, it was...

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Just Call Him Mario$

Alexandra Marshall from Zurich...

This weekend was the Swiss Textile Federation’s annual Stella Awards in Zurich. Set up for designers who have achieved a track record, but need a firm push on the small of the back, Stella’s purse is a cool €100k. (Euros, people. That’s $150k, but please don’t remind me.)

This year, Greek-Austrian Londoner Marios Schwab (Central St. Martins ’03), took home the prize, to the surprise of few. In but a handful of short seasons, Schwab has managed to build himself an actual fashion identity, sort of like a higher-concept Narciso. Last year he was named Best New Designer at the British Fashion Awards, and for the textile people, it probably didn’t hurt that his spring 08 collection—the same one he brought to Zurich—opened with a cool minidress fronted in heat-sensitive fabric.

Technically adept, and structure-happy but not ridiculously so, Schwab beat out crowd-pleasing Gareth Pugh, the brilliant absurdists of Bless and Felipe Oliveira Baptista, among others. Schwab's wares are provocative, but sensible and professional enough that he may not even need the most grounded aspect of the prize, that the €100k booty goes for services, rather than coming as a lump of cash. Apparently this is so young upstarts aren’t tempted to develop a new designer drug addiction or whip up a capsule lingerie collection in fuschia astrakhan.

Last year’s winner, Bruno Pieters, just started a menswear line and was hired to do Hugo, Boss’s bridge line. So depending on the savvy of the recipient, the prize money can show fast results. But based on Mario’s very interesting collection—and I mean that in a good way!—we’re hoping that he holds out if Body Glove calls. It’d be nice to see what he does of his own accord first.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Hint congratulates the duo of Klavers van Engelen for winning the first annual Dutch Fashion Awards on November 1. You might remember Niels Klavers from winning the grand prize at Hyères Fashion Festival way back in 1998 (what a trophy hog!) or from the multiple-sleeved jacket he displayed in a Colette window the same year. He's now joined by Astrid van Engelen...

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Giggles with Michel Gaubert

Giggles with Michel Gaubert at a dinner to launch his bag range for Longchamp. The music guru discusses getting naughty in Berlin, the Fendi show on the Great Wall of China and his new masturbation ring...

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Thanks, Fiji!

The Hint office loves you.

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Friday, November 9, 2007

Haidee Findlay-Levin sees it like it is...

Blindspot is a photo magazine with a mission to publish new work by the established and undiscovered, a source book for curators and art directors. As a counterpoint to its visual nature, Blindspot got together with the New York Public Library to stage conversations between photographers, as a kind of forum to shed light on the often contradictory issues surrounding photography, the media, art and commerce. When I saw the line-up, I committed myself to all three sessions.

The first conversation took place between artist Jack Pierson and photographer/filmmaker Jerry Schatzberg. I hoped Pierson would bring his more personal experiences to the discussion, but I soon realized he was as much in awe of Schatzberg and his body of iconic work as I was. Jack took us through some of the visual material and highlights of Schatzberg’s 4-decade-long career, which included assignments for Vogue, Life and Esquire. There are the gorgeous portraits of a 16-year old Catherine Deneuve, Nico (pre-Velvet Underground), Sharon Tate and one of his favorite models, Peggy Moffitt. The funniest, of all these iconic images, were those of the Rolling Stones in drag! Then there's his former relationship with Faye Dunaway and his ongoing collaboration with the elusive Bob Dylan.

Schatzberg, meanwhile, in his constant search for "the improbable but not the impossible,” relayed anecdotes from his ensuing film career, stories from the set of Puzzle of a Downfall Child (Faye Dunaway plays the fallen model), The Panic in Needle Park (with Al Pacino) and Scarecrow (hitw Al Pacino and Gene Hackman), for which he won the Cannes Palme d'Or.

The highlight for me was the telling of his experiences while shooting a particular photo assignment for Esquire in Paris of 1962. These photos are an insider’s view of the couture salons of Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior—including Saint Laurent's first outing as a solo designer—that go beyond the runway: the early morning preparation, models having a quick breakfast and doing their own make-up (as all models did in those days). There is the audience of fashion editors and socialites eagerly waiting for the show to begin, followed by the show itself. Back then, fashion shows could feature several hundred outfits and could last two hours. There's one shot of Yves himself nervously watching as his first solo collection as it is presented.

All these images finally appear in a new limited-edition, autographed book called “Paris, 1962” (Empire Editions) and includes a signed print in an embossed clambshell box. I was so intrigued with these pictures, that I went along to the launch and book-signing Wednesday night at The National Arts Club. Up close, each image had such depth and narrative, taking you not only behind the scenes but to moments of sheer anxiety for the designer, the utter exhaustion of the models—house model Victoire with her head in her hands, the posturing of the photographers and, finally, to the closing image of the concierge cleaning up, once all is done. Schatzberg's favorite image is also telling: a dwarf standing in front of the window display at the Christian Dior store, her pose not dissimilar to those of the models upstairs.

The second conversation was titled Money Money Money, which in itself is what probably drew the full house. Mind you, the list of panelists was pretty impressive. Moderated by my all-time favorite Glenn O'Brien, the panel included photographers, art directors and advertisers: Vince Aletti, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, W's Dennis Freedman, Doug Lloyd, Glen Luchford, Collier Schorr and Andy Spade.

The topic was art and commerce, but it seemed more like art against commerce. When O'Brien posed the question “What is art and what is commerce?” to this pretty grumpy bunch of artists, the distinction seemed contradictory at first. Shooting commercial work is, to them, an uninspiring pain in the arse, where the viewpoint of the photographer and even the art director is ignored, and everything is controlled not only by the client, but—with digital photography's instant results right on the set—by committee. All profit, no creativity. So tell me something new!

Art director Dennis Freedman saw it more directly. The moment an art director/client/third person was present, it ceased to be art. This did not mean it couldn’t be good or inspiring work, but commerce nonetheless. As the notion of an artist working within a commercial world, particularly fashion, seemed to sit so uncomfortably with the panelists, I wondered why they did it at all. There was one exception: Glen Luchford. Coming from a British working-class background, he saw commercial fashion photography as a way out. Compared to shooting for i-D or The Face, being a factory worker had little appeal. Yet ironically, Luchford’s images for Prada are some of the most creative and inspiring ad campaigns of the last several years, and were subsequently exhibited, in the company of Cindy Sherman (who unfortunately was not present) and other renowned artists, at MOMA.

The client, as represented by Andy Spade, had his own take. Beginning as a copywriter who wrote ads recruiting soldiers for the army, he worked his way up the ranks of advertising, recognizing at each stage that the person above him had all the say and power. When he finally became an art director, he realized that, in fact, the final decision was still not his—it was the client's. He then chose to become the client, and a very successful one at that.

To me it seems painfully obvious. If the artist doesn’t want to do commercial work, don’t take the commission! There are 18,000 photographers in New York alone delighted to do the job. Lets be honest, doing a commercial job may take the artist away from valuable time spent on his/her art, but the money earned buys the time to spend on it. It’s that simple.

Back to Cindy Sherman. I don’t think her work ever felt compromised by her ads for Comme des Garçons, perhaps the ideal client/artist collaboration. Nor did the work of Louise Bourgeois diminish when it was exhibited as a Helmut Lang ad, with just the company name appearing below the original art. My question to all those disgruntled artists is: would you prefer to shoot something commercially that had something to do with your creative style or nothing to do with it at all? And if it’s the latter, as I think Philip-Lorca diCorcia suggested, would you not prefer to plagiarize your own work than allow someone else, like a full-time commercial photographer, to plagiarize your work and be paid handsomely for it?

There indeed seems to be a blindspot when it comes to seeing the art world as just art, when today it is most certainly commerce. A diamond skull by Damien Hirst fetches ridiculous sums of money. So comfortable is Hirst with this notion of art-meets-commerce that he recently collaborated with Levi's to embellish their jeans with...a skull. Are companies such as Prada and LVMH not the Medicis of our time, sponsoring individual artists, as well as large art events and shows? Or think about Claude Monet when he was commissioned to paint his water lily series (Les Nymheas) specifically for the dimensions of the Musee de l'Orangerie in Paris. Now please tell me, is this art or is this commerce?

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Celebrating its 5th birthday, Y-3 launches its first store in Miami (by invitation only)...


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

If you'll be in Berlin on November 10, stop by this way-gay closing party for Terence Koh and Bruce LaBruce's Twin Peaks-inspired "Blame Canada" exhibit at Peres Projects. It's by invitation only, so don't get your panties in a knot if the guest list is full and you don't know anyone at the door.

And now, a quick shout-out to Lou Doillon. The French actress, muse, rebel and daughter of film director Jacques Doillon and icon Jane Birkin (by the way, check out a fantastic story on Serge Gainsbourg in the latest issue of Vanity Fair) has inked a 3-year deal with Lee Cooper to design and be the fabulous face of her own jeans line for the 100-year-old British denim brand. Considering she's been the face of Givenchy, Chanel, Miu Miu and Jovovich-Hawk for Mango, it's quite the coup for Lee Cooper. The oh-so-Gauloise capsule range—which is a little Saint Laurent, a little Gaultier—launches in the spring with a campaign, previewed here, shot by Inez Van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin.

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Saturday, November 3, 2007

Haidee Findlay-Levin catches up with Hussein Chalayan...

The last time I met Hussein for breakfast in London, breakfast turned into lunch and then into tea. In fact, it was a glorious and sentimental Sunday affair, one that still left me feeling nostalgic for London and for some of the special and lasting friendships I had while living there. Hussein was and is one such friend. We developed an immediate bond when I first wrote a feature on him as a St Martins graduate student. I subsequently worked on his earlier shows and collaborated on some of his first exhibitions. I was one of his earliest supporters and remain loyal to my belief in his talent. To describe him as conceptual or intellectual is to miss something. To me, he is someone who will take a day out of his insanely stressful schedule to hear about the details of my personal melodrama, usually firing off rapid questions before any of my answers come to mind.
Meeting him for breakfast in New York this week, the day after he received an award from the Fashion Group International, was not that different. This time I was determined to get my questions in first, to find out how this most respected of designers was feeling. It always amazes me just how humble and modest Hussein is, how unaware he is of his notoriety and position within the international fashion world. He was truly flattered to have won this award, surprised even that his reputation had reached these shores. Believe me this is no act! 

What evolved in our discussion was just how difficult it is to realize most of his innovative ideas, not for the ideas themselves but for the expense involved. Aside from his costs in silks and linens, we're talking the finest rosewood, advanced laser technology, LEDs and film production, not to mention research and development. Why an investor, institute, patron of the arts or technology tycoon hasn't jumped at the opportunity to support this genius is beyond me. We have witnessed what he has created on next to no money; can you imagine what he could create with some money?

What seems harder for most to recognize is his talent for making modern, real, beautiful and, yes, wearable clothing. His process may be complicated and/or difficult to follow, but strip that way and you have a beautiful and elegant cocktail dress, which most retailers and department stores (even in his own city, London) fail to see.

It is only once his designs (or those of other forward-thinking designers like Martin Margiela or Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garcons) are appropriated by other more popular or mainstream designers that they become "wearable." This brings  to mind a jacket I have been wearing all week and have received many a compliment for, including one such compliment from Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz. The jacket is by Margiela, from the first of his four over-sized collections, the proportions of which are scaled up by 72%. Many years ago the show brought laughter and smiles to the faces of the fashion pack as they pronounced his clothes good for pictures, a great concept, but unflattering and absolutely not wearable. And now they pronounce Mary-Kate Olsen as the under-sized trendsetter of  "the over-sized" herself.

This kind of situation often forces the originators of good ideas (as in the case with Hussein) to even plagiarize themselves. By creating a second or "more wearable" diffusion line, they water down their own ideas, hopefully, before others do. Sometimes it's these diffusion collections that are the success and driving force of their businesses.

As we left, I said goodbye to designer Thom Browne, a Pastis breakfast regular. I thought about how many men were wearing their suits shorter these days. Could they all be wearing Thom Browne originals, or at the very least his more accessible Black Fleece line for Brookes Brothers? Unfortunately not. They were probably wearing some further watered down version by some lesser-known designer or brand, shortened ever so slightly above their sockless shoes. They were probably walking with their girlfriends wearing a cotton shirt dress by Doo.Ri for the Gap or a similar incarnation reminiscent of that "impossibly unwearable" collection of Hussein's several summers ago.

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Friday, November 2, 2007

The Real "It" Bag

Forget the Kelly, Hobo and Spy. The most important and influential bag of the 20th-century and beyond—whether you agree or not, partake or not—is the Ziploc plastic baggie. Often seen in clusters, the Bag, as it's known in certain fashion circles, travels anywhere: your freezer, your pocket, your glasstop table. Available in all shapes and sizes, the Bag can carry anything from sandwiches and dog treats to green buds, white powder and baby laxative. It's also the most versatile of accessories, going from day to night and back to day again. Of course, people can get really greedy around the Bag and it can cause all kinds of shit. Still, in fashion, it seems everyone wants to know who has the Bag—and who did it.