Superheroes and supervillains, and several strong personalities in between, are reimagined by photographer Sacha Goldberger as Flemish Baroque portraits from the 1600s, complete with handmade costumes, props, and nobly introspective gazes. The photos demonstrate the use of centuries-old painting techniques to convey nobility while at the same time evoking a sense of fragility within us all.
Characters from Marvel and DC comic books, as well as Disney, Star Wars and other 20th-century classics, are represented. But Goldberger was hardly alone in the massive effort. An entire crew chipped in, from costume designers to casting directors. Which may explain why so many portraits resemble the actors who most memorably brought them to life on a screen, from Adam West’s Batman and Christopher Reeve's Superman to Hugh Jackman's Wolverine and Lou Ferrigno’s Incredible Hulk.
The last model departed the runway and the theme from Schindler’s List filled the room — melancholic and menacing. A small hologram of Kate Moss, rendered through an ancient technique known as Pepper’s Ghost, gathered in an organza-like cloud inside a glass pyramid. An apparition, she remained suspended and fluttering in midair for mere moments. The audience gasped and the press called The Widows of Culloden (fall 2006) one of Alexander McQueen’s most emotionally charged, autobiographical collections to date. Not since 1995’s Highland Rape had he revisited his family's native Scotland with such artistic urgency. And Moss — along with Isabella Blow, who'd commit suicide the next year by ingesting weed killer — was carved into popular memory as one of his most salient muses.
Muses are, in fact, borne out of memory, if one subscribes to ancient Greek mythology. They say that Zeus fathered nine Muses with Mnemosyne, who was memory personified. Today our muses operate in stealth, their voices filling writers’ heads with curling prose, artists’ minds with sensational and swimming colors, and, for fashion designers, finer focus on who their customer is (or could be). Particularly for men who dress women, the muse is an illusory ideal, obscured in fanciful abstraction and roaming the endless corridors of time. “Maria Lani, a formidable lady, had the charm to seduce fifty of the most incredible artists in the 1920s in Paris into portraying her. And she stole all the canvases, fled to Hollywood and no one ever saw her again,” John Galliano said of his muse for his spring 2011 collection. “And when I read that story, I just thought, ‘She’s a Galliano girl.’”
Rick Owens, on the other hand, rejects the idea of a muse entirely. “The entire vision was created for Michèle (Lamy, his wife), the volume of everything is created for her,” he told Style.com's Tim Blanks. “[But] muse sounds so gay, like projecting something onto an icon instead of a wonderful, attractive, fuckable woman. I’m not dressing a doll.”
In her new book, Champagne Supernovas (Amazon, iTunes), Maureen Callahan writes that Kate Moss “wanted to be more than a face, a model, a hologram.” In little over 200 pages, Callahan unfolds the remarkable stories of three movers and shakers (and survivors) of the 1990s: Moss, Alexander McQueen, and Marc Jacobs. Their lives were real and raw. They did lots of drugs, had lots of sex (not with each other, though Callahan doesn't bother disguising fashion’s incestuous undertones), and helped create some of the most incredible imagery of our age. But Callahan’s most interesting critique concerns the value and legitimacy of a muse, both as a concept and a creation. Before McQueen, it was Moss and Corinne Day; and, before Isabella Blow’s relationship with Alexander McQueen turned into a game of spite and strategy, they seemed set to rule the world.
By themselves, the miniature nature scenes painstakingly realized by Australian artist Kendal Murray aren't particularly compelling or provocative — other than an obsessive attention to detail that went into them. But when arranged on found objects, such as old purses and compacts, they take on a hyper-real poignancy, a smaller and more private private Idaho. These dioramas, with their rhyming yet nonsensical titles, appear to have sprung out of the object itself, like little big bangs, for a repurposed raison d'être.
Declare Scare Swear
Discreet Sweet Deceit
Sometimes the sentimental sappiness of the holidays proves too much to resist and you have no choice but to embrace it in all its mawkish absurdity. For those moments, why not don Viktor & Rolf's limited-edition Christmas sweater, from the Dutch label's Monsieur line? In the time-honored tradition of gaudy seasonal knits, the colorful wool sweater depicts the designers' coddled dachshund, Little Swan, with reindeer antlers. Yes, a dog with antlers, because Christmas. Be thankful it doesn't come with jangly tree ornaments.
€480, exclusively at Viktor & Rolf, 370 rue Saint-Honoré, Paris
The short video feels a little like being trapped in a snow globe, which is probably the point...
It doesn't get much more opulent than Christian Dior gowns, past and present, photographed in atmospheric locations by Patrick Demarchelier. The second in a two-book series, Dior New Couture (Rizzoli, $115) visually translates the Dior story, from Monsieur's first creations 47 years ago through Raf Simons' latest designs. Demarchelier's chosen settings range from deserted suburbs of Paris to the Palace of Versailles, while Cathy Horyn provides the introduction.
In February of this year, we reported Giorgio Armani's blistering tirade about Anna Wintour when she skipped his Milan show to get to the Paris collections early. (She's all about punctuality.) "She said she was sending her people," he derided. "But if you go to see your dentist and he puts you in the hands of his assistant, what’s your reaction?" And that was one of the nicer parts of his polemic. Clearly, turning 80 hasn't mellowed the maestro one bit.
For his next outing, in September, Armani moved the show up in the calendar. Wintour attended, graciously, thus no one resorted to ranting or name-calling. It seemed all was right in the world. But now, for fashion week in March, he's returning to the last day, in another attempt to help smaller labels whose shows might otherwise be skipped by a majority of editors, following Wintour's earlier example. (To be fair, it isn't known yet if she'll attend or not.)
What's Armani's obsession with that last day? Not only is it to help fledgling designers, but it's also part of a larger effort to revive Milan Fashion Week, which has suffered from a serious lack of new blood. Holding on to that last day also lends credibility to the week's larger governing body, Camera della Moda. “When we decided to show on the last day, other big brands were involved," Armani said at that fiery press conference in February. "But currently this is an empty day. Is this protecting Italian fashion? Where is the Camera? I rejoined it, but I can always exit again. I can just put in a phone call.”
German photographer Julia Christe’s freestyle series catches dogs playfully jumping in the air, fur flying and ears flapping. Appearing to float in space, the pooches are safely dropped a short distance from above for a soft landing. Their expressions are priceless, a mix of glee and befuddlement, from a pint-sized pomeranian eager to show off his acrobatic skills to a komondor whose levitating fur cords reveal a nonplussed face. But the most unamused award goes to one very bored-looked cat...
Last night, Pierre Cardin — who's 92! — launched his museum in Paris. Or rather, he relocated his private exhibition space, Espace Cardin, from the outskirts of the city, where it was rarely visited over four decades, to a former tie factory in the Marais neighborhood. So technically, It marks the first time that a Cardin exhibit has been staged in central Paris. Decades of space-age designs, roughly 200 pieces in all, dot the sprawling space.
Cardin began his 60-year career at the age of 14, moving to postwar Paris to apprentice at Paquin and Schiaparelli before joining Christian Dior. In 1950, after failing to land a job with Balenciaga, he set up on his own house and, in 1959, debuted a ready-to-wear collection, the first couturier to do so, arguably. He later signed nearly 300 licenses that, when he sold them in 2011, made him one of the wealthiest men in France.
Here are some of his more iconic designs from the 1960s...
As the fashion crowd ponders the meaning of John Galliano, an unapologetic attention-seeker, landing at the anonymous house of Maison Martin Margiela (the latest gobsmacker: he's been spotted actually wearing the required white lab coat), it's back to business for the label's parent company. Only the Brave, along with its president Renzo Rosso, have a host of other priorities in need of attention. Charitable priorities, to be precise.
While juggling the demands of Diesel, Marni, Viktor & Rolf, and other labels in its stable, OTB also maintains a foundation. And that foundation has steadily been increasing its humanitarian load of late, funding socially responsible initiatives throughout the world. The latest and perhaps most peculiar of these is APOPO, a Belgian NGO that researches and develops detection-rat technology in the location of landmines in pertinent parts of Africa and Asia. In Mozambique alone, APOPO's mine action team has helped return over 10 million square meters of land to the local population, for living and farming purposes. APOPO also trains and deploys 'hero rats,' as they're affectionately known, to detect tuberculosis.
In its mission to rebalance social inequality and contribute to the sustainable development of less-advantaged areas, the Only the Brave Foundation will invest in the training of 22 new hero rats — a process that takes nine months — for a demining mission in Angola. This is in addition to the 300 rats APOPO has already trained. To date, the OTB Foundation says it has supported over 150 projects, providing concrete solutions to over 130,000 people.