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Friday, August 8, 2008

When Fashion Met Music Videos: PJ Harvey

Dean Mayo Davies pays tribute...

Polly Jean Harvey—aka PJ Harvey—is, simply, one of the greatest female recording artists of our generation, and one of the best live acts you'll ever witness. Aesthetically, she keeps fans on their toes (and ears), but she's by no means a pop-chameleon who feels the need to reinvent herself every six months. That philosophy all too often implies a lack of authenticity, a resistance to commit to something wholeheartedly. Whatever PJ’s custom-made style, her essence remains the same—and that’s the difference. Here, in celebration of the diminutive diva (in stature, not stage presence), three YouTube moments...

1. This Is Love

In head-to-toe bespoke Todd Lynn—complete with ultra-long fringe—PJ keeps it simple in this video (from her "Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea" album of 2000). Pretty much all you see, besides her killer look, is a white room, a Fender Telecaster guitar and a confrontational declaration of euphoria from the lady herself. Come to think of it, maybe it's not so simple after all. Can you imagine anyone else making this work? As described on YouTube: "The best video ever."

2. The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore

Even in a bra and PVC miniskirt, Polly Jean owns the stage. While an outfit like this is charged with provocative connotation, she remains aloof to such unseemly thoughts throughout, adding even more intensity to the live performance at Reading Festival in 2004.

3. White Chalk (performed live on BBC’s Later with Jools Holland, 11/16/2007)

After having worn everything from pink Lycra catsuits in the mid '90s to two bootleg Spice Girls T-shirts sewn together as a mini-dress, PJ played her most recent shows in austere Edwardian monochrome gowns by Annie Mochnacz (in collaboration with director/photographer Maria Mochnacz and PJ herself). It's a look that goes hand-in-hand with the purist, almost folkloric nature of her new album, White Chalk.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Viktor & Rolf Play with Dolls

Dean Mayo Davies gets an early peek...

Their fall 2008 catwalk show protested "No!" but we say “Yes!” to Viktor & Rolf. And so does London’s Barbican, where a retrospective of the Dutch duo's work opens tomorrow. The House of Viktor & Rolf—curated by Jane Alison and designed by Dutch architect and art historian Siebe Tettero, who also designed the infamous upside-down Viktor & Rolf shop in Milan—charts fifteen years of the fashion world's Gilbert & George, the first time an exhibition has been devoted to the pair in the UK.

Instead of the standard gallery show with clothes positioned vacuously on lifeless mannequins, V&R have remade everything in miniature, showcasing their greatest hits on two-foot-tall dolls—part pageant, part Bride of Chucky. Highlights include pieces from their Atomic Bomb collection (1998-1999), in all its mushroom-cloud provocation, and Russian Doll (1999–2000), in which they dressed Maggie Rizer layer by layer until she was left gasping underneath 70 kilos of couture—a work of performance art as much as it was a spectacular fashion show. Yet the holy grail for hardcore fans are pieces from 1996’s infamous Launch collection, as well as the notorious fake perfume and a mock ad campaign.

Having worked together since their graduation from Arnhem Academy in 1992, Viktor & Rolf's journey has been a beguiling, bewitching one. Their haute couture collection in January 1998, when they hijacked the Paris fashion calendar, evolved over the next four seasons into a ready-to-wear collection based entirely on cornea-popping cut-ups of the American flag. For those who feared production would strip away their sheen, the answer was immediate: success need not mean selling out.

With the benefit of hindsight, their oblique yet charming concepts seem to come naturally to them, even in recent shows, most notably fall 2007, in which each model wore her own personal lighting rig with speakers. This is how Viktor & Rolf roll. Their idiosyncratic vision goes a long way in explaining an H&M collection, two fragrances and that upside-down boutique in Milan’s golden quadrangle. No ticking of boxes here. Now, Horsting (Viktor) and Snoeren (Rolf) have warped the exhibition template.

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Monday, June 9, 2008

Chanel and Dover, Together at Last

Chanel has dropped in at Dover Street Market, complete with a hut-like boutique, a cardboard Eiffel Tower and life-sized Karl cutouts—ironic, considering the flesh version is possibly the most animated man in fashion. Spread across five of DSM’s six floors is a wide array of ready-to-wear, accessories and shoes from the Paris-Londres Metiers d'Arts collection, as well as edits of iconic Chanel pieces and a few limited-editions, too. Coco herself once said, “Fashion is not simply a matter of clothes. Fashion is in the air, born upon the wind. One intuits it.” Those words will ring true again on June 25, when the Parisian powerhouse packs up and only the memory of the temporary takeover will remain...

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Beach Boys

Girls, you're not the only ones sweating the swimsuit. With the arrival of summer, a men's conundrum also emerges: where to find well-cut beach shorts that leave a little (or not) something to the imagination. Enter Orlebar Brown, the fashion insider's choice for the past year. Established in 2007 by photographer Adam Brown and ex-lawyer Julia Simpson, Orlebar provides simple trunks in solid colors—the everyman's choice. Because why experiment with perfection? Styles include the Setter (short shorts), Bulldog (classic mid-length), Dane (long drawstring) and Mastiff (long, loose fit). You can find Orlebar at the reliably bang-on Colette in Paris and Selfridges in London, as well as Eden Rock in St. Barths, Carlisle Bay in Antigua and the Cotton House in Mustique, which means you can handily pick up a pair on the island when you arrive. And perhaps it's a good idea to do so since Selfridges sold out in five days. Now, burn your bad old boardies, please.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

When Fashion Met Music Videos

Dean Mayo Davies on the perfect harmony...

Fashion and music have had a powerful, symbiotic relationship ever since the advent of the rebel in the 50s, when wannabe James Deans could throw on a white tee, leather jacket and immerse themselves in the newly created rock & roll lifestyle. Every subculture since—Teds, Mods—has forged itself from the meld of a unifying philosophy and a fabricated identity. After all, every army needs a uniform. In the 70s, Westwood, McLaren and the Sex Pistols collided in the ultimate blow-up of youth culture, and introduced (anti-)branding to the equation. Of course, today's tribes—bubblers, moshers, indie kids, ravers et al—have the music video, where their creations can remain as untouchable, intangible, beguiling, provocative and sexy as ever. And fashion labels haven't been slow to see the potential...

1. The Kills: Last Day Of Magic

This is the forthcoming release from the London-based, chain-smoking vegans VV (aka Alison Mosshart) and Hotel (aka Jamie Hince—yes, Mr. Kate Moss, in yet another link to fashion). Jamie has explained that the vengeful lyrics are about "being in a place and wanting someone who has abandoned you to be there." Thus, the setting, naturally, is Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. Obsessives will note that Alison rocks her well-worn gold Dior Homme boots from fall/winter 05, which may or may not be the reason Jamie is fighting with her (who wouldn’t commit a little bodily harm for to get their hands on those?). In a brainy blur of leopard print, literature, black, scarves, art, tailoring and drainpipe jeans, the duo's myth is built with this video. The most alluring band in the world today, surely.

2. Róisín Murphy: Let Me Know

Róisín continues her persona as post-Saturday Night Fever street diva in this track from last year's Overpowered LP, strutting into a greasy-spoon cafe in a Margiela square-shouldered cape, Corto Moteldo bag and flying-saucer hat. The genius of Róisín's creative direction is the juxtaposition of a cartoonish surrealism with a more mundane daily existence, creating a tension that doesn't take itself too seriously. You'll remember her previous video featured her on the night bus wearing a Gareth Pugh foil coat with inflatable collar, while her latest video, Movie Star, is set to feature Richard Mortimer, of BoomBox fame, and performance artist Scottee.

3. Sonic Youth: Sugar Kane

Sonic Youth played at Marc Jacobs' fall 08 show, a true fashion moment for those who were there. They banged out Jams Run Free and Kool Thing, but it's not the first time these old friends have collaborated, not even close. Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore posed in 2003 for a Juergen Teller-shot Marc Jacobs campaign, but way back in 1993 they set their Sugar Kane video in Marc's showroom, featuring his notorious Grunge collection for Perry Ellis, the stuff of fashion folklore. The clip also marks Chloë Sevigny's first appearance on film.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Comme and Get It

Comme des Garçons' temple of creative chaos, Dover Street Market, announces the opening of a one-off shopping experience at hot auctioneers Phillips de Pury (Howick Place, Victoria, London SW1). Named DOVER STREET MARKET Market, Comme pieces from fall 2004 to spring 2007 will be offered at what they're calling "stupendous prices," plus there'll be archive picks from Pierre Hardy, Raf Simons, Dior Homme, Maison Martin Margiela, Undercover, Number (N)ine, Nina Ricci, John Galliano and more.

In true democratic mode, the event is more a marathon than a race, with stock regularly replenished throughout the two-day period of Sunday, May 25 - Monday, May 26 (10 am - 7 pm). So, ahem, if you did have a heavy Saturday night at a Eurovision song contest party, you can get up late on Sunday, talk about how you're never drinking again and still make it down in time to bag some threads. Or, failing that, loiter around on your lunch break on Monday, whatever suits.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

This just in from Hedi Slimane. Hot on the (Converse) heels of his Musac exhibit—see Hint Blog from April 11—comes a new tome, Rock Diary. The book features contributions from legendary music scribe Vince Aletti (the first person to write about a 70's subculture called Disco), Alex Needham (the writing partner in Hedi's Rock Diary submissions to V) and Jon Savage, author of England's Dreaming, the seminal history of Punk and the Sex Pistols in a broader, socio-political context. Much like Hedi's documentation of music and youth today...

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Londoners missing the fun, frolic and jazz hands of cool-Britannia fashion label House of Jazz should throw on their "Donatella Says More" T-shirts once again and pop down to The George and Dragon tonight. The duo is reuniting and rocking out for one night only, instigated by Richard Mortimer, who programs every Monday night at the East End boozerie under the moniker Mortimer Loves Mondays. None other than designers Pablo Flack and Hazel Robinson of the Katie Grand-styled label will lead the fun ce soir, with Julie Jazz serving, yes, Jazzy cocktails. Party like it's 2000... Hic!

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Friday, April 11, 2008

May 17. Save the date. That's when Hedi Slimane's new photo exhibit at Musac Museum of Contemporary Art in Leon, Spain, will open. Expect his trademark mix of aesthetic purism and rock-and-roll euphoria, while documenting today's sweaty youth. (In the meantime, check out our exclusive Q&A with Hedi, from the opening of his Perfect Stranger show in Paris last November.)

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

For those who like their sunglasses to match their $20,000 necklace, or their head-to-toe African batik prints, the fine folks at Cartier have come up with the ultimate in eyewear: the Panthère de Cartier. Talk about cat eyes! Safari-inspired, the haute jeweler suped up the exotic shades with gold-mirrored lenses, gilded frames, green stones (check out the cat's eyes) and black lacquer spots. Only 1500 pieces were made, so should you have $2,200 in the kitty, you'd better pounce fast...

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Friday, April 4, 2008

The newest it-fair on the scene is the Basel Watch and Jewelry Fair, or Baselworld, which has recently clocked up plenty of column inches in luxury rags. Essentially, the cream of the timekeeping world shows off in a kind of watch version of Art Basel or the upcoming Milan Furniture Fair. At this year's show (through April 10), Donatella herself checked in, and rocking a serious slab of horology in the form of the Gianni Versace Couture watch. Handmade in Geneva with a white matte alligator strap and studded with more diamonds than a Place Vendôme window, time has never been more precious...

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

London Fashion Week: The Block

Racing to House of Holland, it became clear that the day was going to be an intense one. Why? Two words: The Block, a track of the East End where each of the designers in publicist Mandi Lennard's stable would show within trotting distance of each other. Even more convenient, a bar-equipped contraption called the Moet Tour Bus would be available to zip people from venue to venue should their stiletto-shod feet give out. It was going to be a bubbly ride.

With last season's Axl & Stephanie leather à gogo collection, Henry Holland deftly moved from slogan tees to tailored clothing, but without forsaking the unique irreverence that has made the House of Holland a home for many of his bright young fans. Literally. For fall, Henry took the tartan kilt, stuck a pin through its nose and put a tab on its tongue in a retina-burning show that, as one onlooker observed, launched Henry as Britain's Jeremy Scott.

I then hotfooted it from Great Eastern Street to Brick Lane’s Old Truman Brewery for Lulu Kennedy's Fashion East show, featuring Noki, David David (staging his first catwalk show) and my favorite young Londoner, Louise Gray. Noki punched us in the face with a serious bass soundtrack and heaps of fuck-off attitude in another warrior take on recycling (his line, NHS, is short for Noki House of Sustainability). But here, the ethical on parade wasn't Bono's wife "designing" organic yet boring, overpriced day dresses; it was a slow swagger, killer stares and menacing fashion-art hybrids. It was “f-i-e-r-c-e,” as Wonderland magazine's Kit kept telling me, especially when Skin walked out in a crochet and leather pouffy white floor-length wonder. Erin O’Connor, beaming from the front row, looked like she was having as great a time as we were.

Turning sportswear on its head, artist-turned-designer David Saunders of David David distilled his familiar op-art patterns into a collection revolving around outerwear. Highlights included a three-piece look (T-shirt, padded jacket and pants) in his signature triangular dark-cherry print, an Yves Klein-reminiscent blue rubber mackintosh and hiking bags with a sports bottle and coordinated David David blanket.

Lancôme Colour and Texture Award winner Louise Gray continued her soulful journey, in this, her second consecutive Fashion East season. Clever though naïve appliquéd shift dresses, suspenders and her brilliant eye for color were here, as was, for the first time, a selection of all-black looks and tailoring in the form of ankle-length pants. A black coat with colored pockets will surely get her on the backs of new clients. Needless to say I loved it all, yet again.

After a quick chat in the lobby of ANdAZ hotel with Caryn Franklin (i-D alumna and a legend from the BBC's The Clothes Show), it was time for Roksanda Ilincic. Known for her clean, crisp femininity and precious dresses, Roksanda said she was inspired this season by a recent trip to Brazil. Thus her colors were richer and even tastier, and their application was acute in a collection with a breadth of sculptural, sometimes voluminous shapes. Like so many designers this season, she also included fantastic fur.

A quick swig of water and it was back to Brick Lane for Gareth Pugh, where the queue was already building. I bumped into Seven’s Joseph Quartana and his glamorous wife Sophie Na. To say I was slightly jealous of Joe's Raf Simons coat would be an understatement, not only for its gorgeously lacquered black sheen, but because in my oh-the-weather-will-be-great-today haste, I had on only a T-shirt and a neon green hoodie from Hedi Slimane's "Luster" Dior Homme collection.

Oh right, Gareth Pugh. Like Noki, the vibe was fierce and warrior-like, but that's where the similarity ended. This was a different world, a world where The Wizard of Oz meets Predator. Coco Rocha opened, robotic in white facepaint and blue lipstick, wearing a highly structured silver dress that was actually made from zippers. Yes, zippers. It was stunningly executed, as was the second zipper look, this time cut as a jacket with a kick-away waist and the same huge, capped shoulders. The later looks managed to wow as much as the first, with hundreds of black leather triangles sewn into squares and contorted into cubist-like volumes. The Block, indeed!

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London Fashion Week: Richard Nicoll

Showing in a church in London's Spitalfields, Richard Nicoll expanded on the neo-Puritan tailored aesthetic he started last season with architectural dresses in contrasting fabrics and a color palette of black, cream, aubergine, navy and royal blue. Eccentric professionalism and the decadence of disco were talked about, and the romance was noticeably heightened, yet it was only at the final walk-through the sheer diversity became clear. There were even black Swarovski crystal-embellished pants—that would be the decadent disco part.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

London Fashion Week: Todd Lynn

Todd Lynn is London’s most underrated designer. Fact. His tailoring is kick-ass, the quality is sublime, the detailing is exquisite and it's all so androgynously sexalicious (apart from the Louboutins: flat lace-ups for boys and sky-high heels for girls). What's not to love?

Todd started off making clothes for rock stars and is now kindly giving everyone else a chance to live a well-cut dream. Previous customers include PJ Harvey, the Rolling Stones and Courtney Love (whom I sat opposite last season, in a little dream of my own—I seriously love the Love). For fall 08, his fourth season, Todd injected a little glam darkness into his modern classicism. Picture goatskin, shearlings (which looked divine as the models stomped down the runway), pony skin and alpaca layering over razor-sharp tailoring (I know razor-sharp is an overused cliché, but he's as talented a tailor as Lang, Simons and Slimane, thus deserving of the adjective). And the shoes were intense. I'm still thinking about a five-inch Louboutin in lizard skin with human hair sticking out at the heel.

"I started off by thinking of hybrids and mixing things together and it lead to the idea of the Chimera, a mythical beast of contrasts,” Todd told me after the show. “It's about a mix of elements—structured and unstructured, shine and matte and textures and such. Plus, of course, there's the masculine-feminine thing." Playing with androgyny has always been Todd's trademark. In fact, some pieces in the show are identical, just scaled bigger or smaller for guys or girls. The whole collection rocked; Courtney won't have it easy when she makes her selection.

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London Fashion Week: Marios Schwab

Anticipation was thick for Marios Schwab's fall collection at Topshop’s University of Westminster show space, where I was squeezed into a banquette with the Daily Rubbish’s Piers Atkinson and ex-BoomBox don Richard Mortimer (whose Ponystep.com project is under construction).

And Marios didn’t disappoint, inspired by The Yellow Wallpaper, a feminist short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman in which a woman goes mad after being confined to a small room by her husband. (Marios also had a little help from the Swiss Textile Federation, whose prize of 100,000 euros he won last November). Out came models in double-layer stretch dresses (which were cut out at the hipbone to reveal fleshy patterns or skinny stonewashed jeans underneath), cropped deep-blue furs (with dramatically high funnel necklines), Swarovski beads, and even giant circular bags and variations on the peacoat (yes, Marios does bags and peacoats). Designed by Tom Gallant, the busy wallpaper-like prints were stunning, particularly on a black shredded dress.

This was Marios' strongest, most complete, most cohesive collection to date, one where his graphic leanings met soul (if tortured). London Fashion Week might have been up and running for two days, but now it feels like it's started.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

For Dogtown and Z-Boys, Thrasher freaks and deck collectors, Skate Study House debuts today at Colette. A project by 80's freestyle pro Pierre André Senizergues and Gil Le Bon de Lapointe, the exhibition recreates iconic pieces of furniture by the likes of Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier using skateboard ephemera. It's high design for post-grungers. Radical.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

“I had found an organic architecture created by our pursuit of raw materials," says artist Edward Burtynsky of Quarries, his new large-scale show of photographs at Flowers Central in London. "Open-pit mines are to me like inverted pyramids. Photographing dimensional stone quarries was a deliberate act of going out in the world to find something that would match the kinds of forms I held in my imagination. It's the idea of inverted skyscrapers.”

Evocative of Matthew Barney for its exploration of industrial/ritualistic processes, Burtynsky's five-year documentation led him to China, India, Spain, Portugal, Italy and the U.S. in search of the grandiose geometry of these secret landscapes. A same-named book has also been published by the reliably brilliant Steidl.

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Monday, January 7, 2008

Following Hint's footage of its making, Ben Charles Edwards' "Eat Your Chiffon"—a dinner party hosted by Natt Weller and Zandra Rhodes, with a host of fashion names—finally goes live. Part I is the anticipation, Part II is Zandra multitasking in the kitchen while reminiscing about dressing Princess Di, the genius of Poiret and how “London still has a cutting edge, but the rest of the world doesn’t want to admit it.” Part III, the finale, sees Zandra and co. settling down to dinner and chewing the linguistic fat—Andrew Logan on how Divine was like a brother to him, Piers Atkinson on Zandra's brush-sweeping technique, Marios Schwab and much more. It's a fashion feast.

Part I

Part II

Part III

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Friday, January 4, 2008

Author Oonagh O'Hagan dishes with Dean Mayo Davies about Post-It abuse...

“I was living in South London in a flat with a load of random people. All were very nice apart from one, who was a prolific Post-It writer. She wrote about everything and had a one or two note a day habit," explains Oonagh O’Hagan, author of “I Lick My Cheese...and Other Notes From The Frontline of Flatsharing” (Sphere), a book of Post-It perversion that provides a snapshot of house-sharing turned ugly. "Only when I told friends and colleagues did I realise I wasn’t alone in this literary domestic torture!”

Up and down England, and certainly everywhere, a silent war is being waged with notes—hostile missives scribbled not only on Post-Its, but also bills, cigarette packets, back of envelopes, even in margarine. Chances are you're either a scribbler or receiver of these paper daggers. “We’ve all had a flatmate from hell," continues Oonagh, formerly of Tank magazine and Rem Koolhaas' AMO agency. "I've spent years as an undemocratically appointed flat cleaner, or a cash cow, like when a flatmate used my bill money to fund his upcoming art exhibition!”

With four million people sharing flats in the UK alone, Oonagh has opened the door on a vast yet largely unknown phenomenon with her new tome. Proof can be found on an accompanying website, where sufferers are encouraged to post their own notes for all to see. International contributions are especially welcome. Plus, if your own domestic situation is more dramatic than a Dynasty marathon, you can even shop for a new housemate.

Art director, lecturer, ideas merchant and Central Saint Martins fashion graduate, Oonagh is currently putting the finishing touches on her "very conceptual" line of jewellery, which will be sold in the best stockists in Paris and London. "The line questions what contemporary jewelry actually is,” she explains. Today I think the boundaries between art, design, fashion, exhibition, retail space, etc. are becoming so blurred.” Look for another, more serious, book from Oonagh on that very subject.


Friday, December 7, 2007

Dean Mayo Davies ducks into a dinner happening chez Zandra Rhodes. Video footage by Michele Mei...

On Nov. 30, the great and the fabulous braved wintry London weather to gather at designer and color queen Zandra Rhodes' penthouse in Bermondsey. The occasion? A dinner party organized by Natt Weller (host of Dangerous To Know club and son of the legendary Paul Weller, founder of The Jam and The Style Council) and filmed by Ben Charles Edwards (best known for shooting drag diva Jodie Harsh), whose vision for the art film was a twisted mix of John Waters' Eat Your Makeup and the seventh chapter from Alice in Wonderland. Hence the title: "Chapter 7: Eat Your Chiffon."

As Zandra whipped up a storm in the kitchen (pea soup garnished with sesame salt to start), her illustrious guests began filtering in. First to arrive was Andrew Logan, iconic artist and jeweler extraordinaire who took the red dress code to extremes with a crimson suit, red velvet and bejeweled slippers, ruby-glass neckpiece and doorknob-sized ring. Elsewhere in the eclectic mix were new music sensation Bishi; ceramicist Kate Malone; Barbara Grispini, creative consultant to London Fashion Week; prop stylist and accessory whiz Fred Butler; hot women's designer Marios Schwab; and Piers Atkinson of Fashion Week tabloid The Daily Rubbish (which isn’t rubbish at all). When asked by Andrew about his conversation-steering strategy, Natt replied that he was "influenced by The Fern Cotton [teeny-bopper TV host] approach. A lot of listening is involved.” After all, you can’t plan chemistry.

Keep an eye out for the short when the first of three parts launches online in January. It's one of many future projects from Glass Loves, a fashion/art/communications company that previously worked with Zandra's Fashion and Textile Museum.

While you wait for the premiere, enjoy Hint’s cryptic, fly-on-the-wall video footage of the events and remember the off-camera wisdom of our pink-haired hostess: “When dyeing my hair, I put the coloring on my head as usual, but the secret is to wrap it up tightly in a turban and leave it on overnight, sleeping in it. If you don't, your hair will come out as only a pale pink. And who wants pale?!”

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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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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

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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