Inspiring us right now: Spanish photographer Cristina De Middel's The Afronauts series, to go on view at Foam museum in Amsterdam. Not just a clever word mash-up, afronauts were a real thing — sort of. With grand delusions of jumping into the 1960s space race between the US and the Soviet Union, the little African nation of Zambia began a program — that never got off the ground — to explore the realm of the stars, starting with colorful spacesuits and fish bowls for helmets. Or at least that's how De Middel re-imagines it in square Polaroid form, based on vintage photographs.
Inspiring us right now: the now-cheesy 80s photographs of Mario Casilli, master of the soft-focus lens and TV Guide cover. In the 1980s, Casilli shot the highest-profile TV and music stars in America, capturing the excess and glamour of the greed-is-good decade, the era of Dynasty and Dallas, shoulder pads and big perms.
Stars including Dolly Parton, David Hasselhoff, Lionel Richie, Don Johnson, Joan Rivers, Oprah Winfrey, and Bea Arthur couldn't get enough of the smooth-talker (he famously convinced Sally Field to pose for Playboy), who likewise gave them that halcyon 80s glow that these days we'd call camp.
Before cavorting with TV royalty, Casilli was one of a prolific Playboy photographer for 20 years, shooting numerous covers and no fewer than 57 Playmate centerfolds. It's rumored he had the second key card to Playboy’s chain of clubs, the first being reserved for Hugh Hefner.
Mario Casilli died in 2002 at the age of 71, but his work lives on in a self-titled book (October, 2013, Reel Art Press), the first of its kind dedicated to Casilli's photographic contributions to 80s pop portraiture. Says Joan Collins, who wrote the foreword, “I don’t think any photographer today has managed to capture a decade in the way that Mario captured the absolute glamour and decadence in his 1980s photographs."
Larry Hagman and Linda Gray of Dallas
Perfect Strangers, TV Guide
Inspiring us right now: Antonio Lopez's illustrated portrait of designer Norma Kamali that appeared in American Vogue in 1984. It's but one of many jaunty watercolors in the exhibition "Antonio Lopez and the World of Fashion Art," opening July 4 at the French campus of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Lacoste.
Curated by André Leon Talley — SCAD trustee, Numéro Russia editor-at-large, Vogue contributing editor — the exhibition surveys three decades of output from the the Puerto Rican party boy, who was on the verge of a major fine-art career before he was struck down by AIDS in 1987. Lopez has had a prolonged posthumous moment since last year, when he was the subject of a solo retrospective at the Suzanne Weiss Company and a lush monograph from Rizzoli.
Inspiring us right now: this image of Peggy Guggenheim in Venice in 1950, possibly during the Venice Biennale that year. The American heiress and preeminent art collector sits atop the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni a year after resettling in the City of Masks from New York.
A bohemian through and through, Guggenheim was friends with the likes of Pablo Picasso and Man Ray, and could often be found cavorting with surrealists and abstract artists who bummed around the Montparnasse district of Paris before their acceptance into the canon of Western art.
A true eccentric who didn't take her wealth as seriously as her relatives did, Peggy Guggenheim also had unusual taste in eyewear; she's said to have owned over 100 sunglasses. This prickly pair was custom-made for her by the sculptor Edward Malcarth and later reproduced by Safilo for the Guggenheim store.
Thanks to Eye Respect for the image.
Inspiring us right now: Michael & Gerlinde's World, a book of collaged photos by Michael Costiff, who, with his late wife Gerlinde, was the epitome of London cool in the 70s and 80s. Costiff could and did do anything, from designing album covers for Siouxsie and The Banshees and The Cure to running the nightspot Kinky Gerlinky and the West End boutique World. He stocked the shop in part with his fashion line, World Archive, which found fans in the likes of a young John Galliano and Zaha Hadid. In the course of showing his collections in Japan in the wee 80s, Costiff became lifelong friends with Rei Kawakubo and for years modeled in Comme des Garçons shows, as well as Martin Margiela collections. Which is why the book, independently published by Louis Vuitton men's designer Kim Jones, is only carried in Dover Street Market in London and Tokyo.
Inspiring us right now: this unabashed image of Vivienne Westwood taken three years ago by Juergen Teller, who may be the only sideburn-less photographer alive capable of convincing her to disrobe. It's like clothes just fall off people wherever he goes. See Dame Viv—Titian-haired and Raphael-posed—in Woo, a survey of Teller's fashion, commercial, and personal work at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London, opening today. Believe it or not, this isn't the nakedest of portraits from the series. Let's just say, the carpet and drapes, they match.
Typically, those who don't pay much attention to Paris men's week are keenly interested in what immediately follows: haute couture! This season, it begins the very next day. So we thought, with both of them coming up, now would be a good time to tell you about a little exhibition at MoMu in Antwerp—even if it doesn't open until March.
During the 1950s and 60s, the most elite of elite couturiers—Christian Dior, Hubert de Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Cristóbal Balenciaga—got their finest fabrics from Abraham, a Swiss company whose particular métier was printing silk. MoMu's exhibition, Silks & Prints from the Abraham Archives: Couture in Colour, tells the vibrant story of the not-so-neutrals Swiss firm, as well as European couture as a whole, through some of the most exquisite fabrics of the 20th Century. Complementing the old guard is an array of pieces by contemporary designers, including print masters Dries Van Noten and Diane von Furstenberg.
Silks & Prints from the Abraham Archives: Couture in Colour, March 13 - August 11, 2013, MoMu, Nationalestraat 28, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium
Inspiring us right now: Mastaba, a proposed sculpture in the United Arab Emirates by the artist Christo. A pyramid made from 410,000 oil barrels and standing 150 meters high, it may be the largest work of art in the world. Christo—famous for wrapping the Berlin Reichstag in fabric 17 years ago and more recently erecting 7,500 saffron-colored gates in Central Park—says he started planning Mastaba in the late 70s with his wife, Jeanne-Claude, but could only begin work on it with the recent approval of Abu Dhabi's royal family and their donation of land.
Inspiring us right now: these incredible posters—made between 1962 and 1985, aka Cold War years—showing very happy and cherubic Chinese children in space. Propaganda was never so cute. (Hats off to Retronaut for finding them.) Please, someone make a collection based on this. We're looking at you, Sarah Burton.