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Monday, March 16, 2009

Mad for Madrid

By Anh Tuan Pham...

In recent years, the international jet-set has begun to appreciate Madrid for more than nightly rioja-fueled escapades in tapas bars, after-hour dance clubs and early morning crawls through the side streets of Chueca. With the help of a world-class art fair (ARCO), a slew of contemporary art spaces and an explosion of building projects by all-star architects, Madrid has blown up into a no-joke arts and culture destination.

Spanish fashion, too, has quietly cultivated its own growing number of unique voices looking to break onto the international scene. Here, I bring you highlights from the fall collections of Cibeles Madrid Fashion Week, with backgrounds made up from detail shots of the CaixaForum cultural center, which Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron masterfully converted from an old electrical plant...


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1. Hungrier than a werewolf under a full moon, Jose Castro's opening night show was a dark and macabre line-up of 80s' power silhouettes decked with fur, feathers, satin and reptilian patterning and other animalia. To pre-empt a possible PETA protest, Castro's closing looks came pre-splattered with blood—red paint, we hope.

2. For gals of the nightcrawler kind, Jose Miro kept things above the knee yet texturally down to earth. Loose, bunched, natural wools in blue-brown hues were draped over that urban staple: shiny black leggings.


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3. For global nomads walking through today's cold, dark, hostile world, Jan iu Mes' menswear provides warmth, comfort... and more darkness. The Barcelona design duo paired bulging, super-chunky knits with sharply tailored charcoal tweeds and wools.

4. Carlos Diez is Spain's bad-boy designer—and a lovable one, with his ear-to-ear smile and lumberjack beard. Diez started his show with an amphibious attack of pleated camo dresses and round-shouldered neoprene wetsuits. A later salvo of loose, web-like knits contrasted against shiny and sequined black textures. With models shrouded, mummy-like, in strands of
mustard yellow hair, men's and women's looks confusingly and deliberately blended into one another.


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5. Two design labels shined at the El Ego shows, Madrid Fashion Week's showcase for new talent. Karlotalaspalas delivered a modern, rustic take on menswear, incorporating loose, oversized silhouettes in myriad shades of brown and beige. I imagined chic alpine yodelers on their way to a fondue bar.

6. Meanwhile, Marta Montono re-interpreted early-80s' b-boy style into a collection of adorably plush, boy-stuffed animals. Sporting a pair of teddy-bear Air Jordan bedslippers and a squeeze-ably soft ghetto-blaster, these outfits are perfect for busting a few headspins and windmills before bed.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Brasilia Nuts

Anh Tuan Pham...

I've always had my suspicions about Brasilia. Does the Brazilian capital actually exist or is it just a point on the map of the modernist imagination? According to legend, Brasilia is a meticulously planned city with a monolithic skyline of odd orbs and sensuous curves envisioned by the great architect Oscar Niemeyer. (By the way, in a testament to the longevity of modernism, Oscar is 101 years old this year!). But could such an idealistic place really exist? Short answer: yes. And I know this because I recently visited Brasilia for Capital Fashion Week, now in its fifth season, showcasing local talent with, not surprisingly, an emphasis on social and environmental responsibility. And naturally, architecture was an inspiration for many of the designers. Here, a collage of my favorite looks, along with photos of the city taken by yours truly...



1. Juliana Aragão e Giovana Maia's androgynous pieces seemed destined for android aliens disembarking their temporarily parked UFOs.

2. Although known mostly for jewelry,
Sandra Lima caught my eye with her complex, highly-constructed black mini-dresses with quirky architectural undulations.

3. A self-taught designer now in his third year,
Romildo Nascimento presented a number of deconstructed looks for men and women, including this vest repurposed as men's shorts.

4.
João e Maria's loose houndstooth suits were reminiscent of David Byrne à la Psycho Killer. The young duo's light-hearted presentation was part of a group show organized by IESB, Brasilia's fashion school.



5. Girls from Brasilia, though landlocked, can still dream of the sea, as Camila Prado attested with her nautical-themed collection inspired by WWII sailor tattoos.

6.
Mara Mac, who also presents at São Paulo Fashion Week, is already a fashion institution for the smart, sophisticated Brasileira set. His bubble dresses with colorful soap-bubble prints made me happy.

7.
Lei Basica's casual creations are inspired by far-off, exotic places like...Brooklyn. Though images of the L train weren't conjured, the dreamy pieces and feather headdresses stole the show.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Anh Tuan Pham reports from Barcelona...

The fall collections of 080 Barcelona Fashion opened with Txell Miras. Inspired by the concept of déjà vu, the Catalan designer presented slim silhouettes wrapped and layered in a mix of highly constructed jackets, vests, bell skirts and the current fashion staple: low-crotched MC Hammer pants. Most of the looks incorporated some manner of strap or loop that trailed behind—in a sense, déjà vu...




The next day’s most compelling collection came from Il Galantuomo, a men's label by Korean-born Gunhyo Kim, a graduate of Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Arts and a design assistant of Dries Van Noten. Inspired by Antwerp's Hasidic Jews community, Gunhyo sent out chic, tailored ensembles of suit jackets, v-neck T-shirts, long tunics and loose pants—something of a continuation of Jean Paul Gaultier’s Hasidic take a couple decades ago, yet Gunhyo’s riff was all his own...




The third and last day saw the club-kid stylings of EBP, body-rocking to New Rave—which, as I learned, is experiencing new life on the continent in a dance craze called “Tektonic.” The looks flaunted fluorescent colors, loud graphic prints and slogans to live by: “Glow in the Dark” and my personal favorite, “Don’t be so European"...


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