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.
Today saw the release of a major monograph on Yohji Yamamoto (Yamamoto & Yohji, Rizzoli, $115). It's a road well-traveled, as there are already a number of books on the Japanese fashion designer, from the collectible Talking to Myself to rather forgettable greatest-hits fluff from other publishers.
The new volume contains 600 photographs and contributions from friends, including the French actress Charlotte Rampling and the German filmmaker Wim Wenders. It is a hefty, cloth-bound tome totaling 448 pages printed on thick matte paper, as it should be since anything glossy (read vulgar) does not belong in Yamamoto's world.
The book provides a comprehensive view of Yamamoto’s work, organized into four chapters: Philosophy, which gives insight into the designer’s ethos; Biography & Brands, showcasing Yamamoto’s prolific career; A Different Way of Communication, a history of Yamamoto’s runway shows; and Crossing Fields, about Yamamoto’s work off the catwalk, including his collaborations with Dr. Martens and Hermès.
Yamamoto & Yohji was created by two longtime Yamamoto collaborators. Coralie Gauthier (who for years served as Yamamoto’s PR, a term that does nothing to describe her importance) built most of the content while Paul Boudens, the Belgian graphic designer and mastermind behind A Magazine, designed it. The pair, given carte blanche by Yamamoto himself, worked closely for a year on the project. “I felt that it was time to create an anthology of his creative collaborations in theater, dance, music, graphic design, architecture, and so on," Gauthier explained. "[Other] books are mainly about the man and his philosophy, less about his collaborations and productions.”
Boudens, who has previously worked with Yamamoto on show invitations, itself a form of art, and an issue of A Magazine entirely guest-edited by Yamamoto, was a fitting candidate. “We studied the previous books thoroughly and saw what worked or didn’t." he said. "I like to think we respected Yohji’s oeuvre, while still bringing our own style. We share the same aesthetic anyway, a search for timelessness, attention to detail, and tactility." Boudens surely took special interest in a section devoted to Yamamoto’s invitations, for instance the fall 2013 women’s collection, which arrived in the form of black yarn that had to be unspooled in order to see the show’s address engraved on the wooden base beneath.
The book begins with images that should be familiar to anyone who's followed Yamamoto’s career, as well as visual material rarely seen before. These are interspersed with quotes from Yamamoto, which at times sound more like proverbs. “I always sing the same song, only with new arrangements” is one example, meant to describe his philosophy of subtle changes to a collection season after season, not grand reinventions.
And, of course, there are thoughts on black, his signature color. “Black is the most profound and under-appreciated color. It’s a second skin for me. When I was very young, I made black T-shirts. At the time, Japan was having an economic boom. Social success had become an obsession, and the whole country was vibrating under a shower of colors. My black was a sign of protest, the opportunity to be a shadow in a boring system that I was rejecting.”
The question of clothing as a marker of identity permeates Yamamoto’s work. You are what you wear. “My message was very simple: let’s be outside of this," the designer explained, regarding the ethos of his menswear. "Let’s be far from our suits and ties. Let’s be far from businessmen. Let’s be vagabonds.”
A veritable parade of photographers, art directors, graphic designers constitute Yamamoto’s collaborators. Devotees will know most of them: Paolo Roversi, Nick Knight, Max Vadukul, Craig McDean, M/M Paris, and Marc Ascoli, among many others. This is followed by the last section, which goes through the extracurricular parts of Yamamoto’s venerable career, including several museum exhibits, most notably in Florence and at the Design Museum of Holon in Tel-Aviv.
Finally, the book gives a tour of Yamamoto’s boutiques around the world. This is important because it was the Japanese who revolutionized retail in the 1980s and 90s. The way many boutiques look today, with their gallery-like white spaces, owe a debt to Yamamoto and other Japanese designers. Sadly, some of these boutiques, especially the one on Grand Street in New York (strangely, there is no mention of it in the book) and the one in Antwerp, have been shuttered.
The day the Yamamoto boutique in SoHo closed was a day of mourning for many. It was also a sign of the times — the rise of streetwear, the de-emphasis on quality, and the disregard for process in favor of branding. Hopefully, this book will serve as a reminder of the rich history that one of the most talented fashion designers has bequeathed to us.
Eugene Rabkin is the editor of StyleZeitgeist magazine
Like so many great works of art through the ages, the creator of these faux magazine covers — glamorizing princesses and princes from Disney's most celebrated and adored films — is unknown. Which of course adds to the magic. Diehard DIsney fans will assert they could only have come from the studio, given the cleverness of the headlines: Jasmine's Favorite Bikini Bazaars, From the Cinders to the Balls, Everything's Hotter Under the Water, Grumpy Speaks Out. So good! In a way, we almost don't want to know who the artist is, preferring instead to believe the covers are real, because Once Upon a Time...
Cinderella on Elle
Princess Tiana on Vanity Fair
Scar on Vanity Fair
Mulan on Harper's Bazaar
Prince Charming on GQ
Chinese artist and outspoken dissident Ai Weiwei didn't tell Dover Street Market NYC that he was going to pour buckets of paint all over its clothes — presumably worn by visitors to his studio in Beijing, where he's still sequestered by the Chinese government — for a V magazine shoot. Not that it mattered because, he said, "Rei Kawakubo is a person who has always supported and fostered unique ideas.”
Besides, when creative inspiration strikes, it can't be unstruck. “Pouring a color on an outfit creates a new condition for the design," he added. "It create a midpoint between two conflicting ideas. Gravity and the shape of the clothes combine to create a unique moment. Using these cultural products as ready-mades celebrates and reinterprets the intention of creativity. I think this act shows my respect toward their creativity.”
When the guys at the cult men's accessories label KILLSPENCER handcrafted a black mini-basketball, leather net, and maple backboard to goof around in their Silverlake workshop, all they did from then on was exactly that. And they realized they had a hit on their hands. Thus, the Indoor Mini-Basketball Collection was born, available for the holidays in classic black or a special-edition 24-karat gold option, featuring a gold-plated breakaway rim and gold-foil skirt — all conflict-free, of course.
$795 (classic) - $995 (gold) at KILLSPENCER
Sometime in the 1920s, Paul Poiret had a chance encounter with Coco Chanel. Dressed in black, she was svelte and sobering, even as the rest of Parisian high society was recovering from the war that ended the Belle Époque. “For whom, Mademoiselle, do you mourn?” he asked, eyes dropping to the floor. She deflected his gaze and said, with brutal brevity, “For you, Monsieur.”
Poiret had returned from military service to find his company teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, while his customers and business partners had gravitated elsewhere, probably joining the fast-spinning furor of Chanel’s and Jean Patou’s inner orbit. The thundering excess and exuberance that roared through his palatial home, which played host to his infamous parties, had suddenly surrendered to the cold hard truth: his time was over. Poiret spent the rest of his life taking up odd jobs, once bartending to make ends meet, and died in German-occupied Paris in 1944. In an eerie symmetry, one could argue that Paris is still seized by an unrelenting German force. Karl Lagerfeld has been leading Chanel since 1983 as its artistic autocrat, creative commander-in-chief.
There are, however, plans to bring Poiret back from oblivion — even if it is almost a decade since Poiret was the theme of the Costume Institute's fashion exhibit. (Read about it in our interview with curator Harold Koda.) It was announced last week that Luvanis, an investment company based in Luxembourg that specializes in the trade of dormant luxury brands, will initiate an online auction to sell Poiret trademarks and archives across a globe. “Interested parties are invited to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement,” the Poiret website instructs, and to “provide details of your organization, or, if you are a private buyer, a brief background of your business interests, notably in luxury.” Arnaud de Lummen, director of Luvanis, has impressive experience with the trade of heritage brands. He helped revive Moynat, one of France’s oldest trunk-makers, as well as Vionnet, whose founder, Madeleine Vionnet, studied under Jacques Doucet after Paul Poiret departed his employ in 1900. Poiret established his own company in 1903.
Arnaud de Lummen calls himself an “entrepreneur, a sleeping beauties reviver.” He’s right on trend. The Elsa Schiaparelli label, whose founder launched a career in fashion after seeing Poiret’s clothes for the first time in Paris, was revived in late 2012. Marco Zanini — who departed from Rochas, another French heritage label — was announced its creative director about a year later (although there are recent reports of discontent). In America, movie mogul and occasional fashion-monger Harvey Weinstein attempted to revive Halston with the help of Marios Schwab, Rachel Zoe, Tamara Mellon, and, at one point, Sarah Jessica Parker. With nearly all of them abandoning their role within two years, the revival has been an indelible failure. “I only own vintage Halston," lamented Rachel Zoe, "because I want what he touched." Earlier this year, though, Weinstein once again announced plans to resuscitate a dormant fashion brand. The object of his new desire? Charles James, he of this year’s Met Ball theme. “This label deserves to be a household name in the same ranks as Chanel, Dior, and Oscar de la Renta,” Weinstein stated. “We are beyond thrilled to be spearheading the revival of this brand and bringing it back to the world’s finest retailers.”
A tad ambitious. Chanel and Dior didn’t become the brands they are today by accident — it took an enormous amount of time, trust, and talent, as well as luck and money. Their names managed to stay afloat when the rest of couture’s founding club died off, but none of this growth happened easily. It’s not enough for pre-war couture houses to rely solely on their illustrious history and reputation, nor does it make sense to continue dragging nostalgia from its comfortable darkness when we live in an entirely new time and context. Chanel and Dior adapted, as did Lanvin, Nina Ricci, and Saint Laurent (sort of). If Poiret, or Charles James, are to return to fashion and demand premium real estate in the world’s finest retailers, then the rejuvenation has to find a niche and serve a point. The new Schiaparelli, which currently only produces couture, is still warming up and easing into itself — a curious mix of silliness and surrealism, artistic pastiche and parody — and deserves more time.
Poiret is comfortable in its place, sitting proudly in the footnotes of fashion history. Returning to Paris Fashion Week, however, could prove inhospitable. Poiret’s fashion is rich and textured and florid, but now we have a new range of designers to weave that dream. Dries Van Noten, for example, presents clothes heavy with surface details and colors that melt into each other. His girls travel far in every direction, touching down in locales like Morocco and India, or Woodstock circa 1969, as in his spring collection. There’s a nomadic spirit in these clothes, the kind of self-assured, self-occupied confidence that Poiret is said to have bestowed upon his women. For the excessive romantic, there’s John Galliano, who was recently announced the new creative director of Maison Martin Margiela. “Personally, my dream would have been for John Galliano to be the designer [of Paul Poiret],” Arnaud de Lummen said. It's hard not to ponder the what-if of this revelation. Where will Poiret find itself? And, more importantly, how will it compete?
Then, of course, there’s the question of potential buyers. Vanessa Friedman, chief fashion critic of the New York Times, dismissed LVMH, Kering and Richemont as potential investors, turning her attention instead toward Asian bidders. Bernard Arnault, chairman of LVMH, acquired Christian Dior and Céline surreptitiously, therefore Poiret may be too available to arouse deep interest. And why bother acquiring new brands when the tycoon’s current stable of brands has plenty of room to grow? Poiret, according to reports, will likely fall into ownership by the end of the year. The new designer, whoever it is, will be responsible for leading an archeological dig of Poiret’s archive, creating something reverent but contemporary, without reducing his theatrical spirit to cheap costume trickery. We’ll be watching closely.
Luisa Casati in Paul Poiret, circa 1910
Peggy Guggenheim in Paul Poiret, photo by Man Ray, 1923
Denise and Paul Poiret in costume as Juno and Jupiter for Les Fêtes de Bacchus, 1912
Denise Poiret in Poiret's 'Faune' ensemble
Silent-film star Jacqueline Logan in Paul Poiret, circa 1925
Portrait of Paul Poiret by André Derain
Dress by Paul Poiret, 1920
Dress by Paul Poiret, 1920
Lampshade dress by Paul Poiret
Dress and jacket by Paul Poiret
Denise Poiret in a double lampshade dress by Paul Poiret
Poiret's La Perse cape (made from printed Dufy velvet), 1911
Chinese artist Liu Bolin makes enthralling hybrid art, deploying slick subliminal signals and inventive arrangements replete with smart commentary on contemporary China. His walloping canvases and photos are often peopled by youthful ruffians, pretty pedestrians, or the artist himself — all of whom take on a cunning, clandestine, camouflaged complexion. Liu’s images depict the disenfranchised, displaced, and invisible strivers ('the ant tribe,' as they're known in China), who struggle in a society laden with systemic risks, paradoxes, ideological schisms, and false dawns. His cool compositions display complex painterliness, vibrant viscosities, and optical oomph.
Amid a yawning spiritual-ideological vacuum, Bolin's art is powerful commentary on the Middle Kingdom’s frenetic social fabric. In the end, his works are multi-layered studies of the ways we take in imagery and express identity. Over the years he has captured major motifs in China’s turbulent socio-economic transition, among them industrialization, expropriation, nefarious apparatchiks, the nouveau riche. With series like Hiding in the City, The Invisible Man, and his latest eye-popping exhibit at Klein Sun Gallery in New York, A Colorful World, Liu Bolin creeps into ontological crevices, decoding and recoding art and life.
Hint popped by the gallery to speak with the maverick artist...
Tell us about your current work, A Colorful World. What are some of your key references?
A Colorful World takes cues from the sinister dimensions of contemporary culture, from our consumption of toxic junk food, intense consumerism, conspicuous consumption, and a world awash in rampant materialism and alternating identities. Despite the works' mischievous and kitschy character, the underlying meaning is quite serious and addresses issues such as privacy, statism, faulty advertising, false hope, brittle institutions, bursting economic bubbles, and Orwellian themes.
What does invisible mean to you?
At first, my work was all about resistance and undermining institutional authority — the government actually demolished my studio because it deemed my work too subversive. So I made transgressive, subliminal pieces to express my dissatisfaction with politics and China’s perverse social structures. This got me tons of press, of course, so I continued along a provocative path producing politically sensitive themes, symbolism, and a polemic around invisibility. As an art motif, invisibility is basically a response to the myriad injustices and paradoxes in today’s China and elsewhere in the world. Ordinary people are being eclipsed by oppressive party politics and the result is stifling, repressive, and alienating.
You’re often lurking (invisibly) in your own paintings and photos. How do you fit into your own work?
I embed myself in locations that confer a deeper level of social meaning and culture. Ranging from graffiti and art to politics and economics, there is rich nuance in every piece and image I make. Frequently I'm the figure in my photos, but actually it could be anyone. I try to convey the interplay between private and public, anonymity and identity, and the invisible and visible.
What have you been doing in New York during your visit?
Besides setting up the installations and exhibits, I’ve been doing performance work in public areas like Grand Central Station and over at the piers on the West Side. I’ve also been exploring the city and taking in all the rich references and inspirations.
What advice would you offer the next generation of Chinese artists and avant-gardists?
Hmmm, try not to conform to the older generational ethos and don’t listen to your parents! Make every attempt to be passionate and reach deep into your heart to locate and define your artistic integrity.
Watch Liu Bolin at TED Talks 2013:
While you’re dressing up like your favorite villain of horror this Halloween (in gross plastic costumes), they could be dressing up like you (in luxury labels). That's the idea behind this meticulously drawn series from London-based illustrator David Murray, clearly a man possessed. Nightmare stalker Freddy Kreuger looks dreamy in Junya Watanabe; Leatherface broods in a sumptuous leather jacket by Rick Owens; Michael Myers keeps cozy in a Dries Van Noten parka; and that misunderstood monster of Frankenstein appears altogether dapper in Juun J.