French photographer Charles Fréger is in search of adventure — adventures in costumery. For his ongoing Wilder Mann portrait series, he visits all corners of Europe — 19 countries and counting — seeking the mythical 'wild man,' specifically what he might have worn as a glimpse into what he might have thought.
Fréger researches and cosplays various European masquerade traditions and popular imagery with the ultimate aim of dismantling the notion of the prehistoric caveman as savage and unintelligent. "We now know," he points out, "that our Homo Sapiens DNA contains 5% of Neanderthal genes." In the meantime, he's clearly having fun dressing up — pagan-style.
Like all in Björk's creative coterie, mask-maker James Merry (what a name!) works with the hand of a craftsman and the soul of an artist. For the British native — who splits his time between bustling New York and a remote cabin in Iceland, surrounded only by mossy outcroppings and fields of lavender — it's all about quiet contemplation and profound transformation.
The latest fruit of their six-year collaboration, which began in the early stages of Björk's Biophilia album, is among the most memorable: a hand-embroidered headpiece — in which she performed at the Governor's Ball in New York — that covered large swaths of her face and head with splotchy lace and meandering Miró-like lines. Worn with an enormous winged dress by the Danish designer Nikoline Liv Andersen, green and black with flashes of yellow, she resembled an exotic butterfly, the kind that flits about her barren island paradise. And therein lies the common ground between the two: a respect for one's roots and a passion for personal expression.
Marco Battaglini pastiches together bits of Renaissance art with graffiti and other elements of modern pop — not unlike the divine versus the vulgar — in his digital paintings. By mashing together opposing visual traditions, the Italian artist (living in Costa Rica) challenges the viewer to contemplate a variety of topics: cultural democratization, the evolution of knowledge and information, and what he calls our 'patchwork culture.'
But just because he applies tattoos and brand logos to famously porcelain skin, don't go thinking these are schlocky items of throwaway kitsch. A single piece from the artist, among the elite stable at Saatchi, costs upwards of $20k.
It's the age of selfies and Steven Meisel knows it, even if, it's safe to assume, the highly reclusive photographer isn't particularly fond of them. While other houses are unveiling their spring campaigns with much fanfare, Loewe has eked out a preview of its fall men's campaign, which includes an undated and previously unseen image of a younger Meisel leaning in for a kiss with an unidentified man. The artist as muse in a candid moment — how very Instagram.
The unconventional concept comes courtesy of the house's new creative director, Jonathan Anderson, who, over the course of several seasons has been staking an epicene, androgynous vision for the Spanish house. In addition to the tender self-portrait pulled straight from Meisel's own archives, a more typical fashion image of the fall collection has been released, also lensed by Meisel, as well as a product shot of the new X-Cross bag, shot by Damien Ropero. This follows the brand's MO last season, when it plastered a single spring image of Julia Nobis across Paris kiosks just prior to the corresponding runway show.
Mired in customer apathy and a tanking stock price, American Apparel got at least one thing right when it hired 15-year-old Brendan Jordan as its next alterna-model. You'll remember Brendon from that random local news clip that flooded your Facebook feed for several days. It's the one in which he did what any devoted little monster would do in the presence of a camera, ignoring everything around him while gyrating and faux-pouting like Lady Gaga in her Applause video. A YouTube sensation was born.
A bit of text on the ad informs us that “Brendan is from Las Vegas, Nevada. He's half Peruvan (his dad was born and raised in Peru) and he learned Spanish from his extended family that helped care for him. He enjoys taking photos, shopping and collecting Disney memorabilia." Of course he does. "In the future Brendan hopes to have his own TV show and design a clothing line.” Maybe Anna Wintour can get him an internship with Marc Jacobs or Michael Kors.
Last year, a Brussels-based fashion multitasker named Aymeric Watine was wondering how he could soup up his store for the holiday season. Then he remembered the Sapins de Noël des Créateurs, an event created 19 years ago by French TV legend Marie Christiane Marek (her US equivalent would be Elsa Klensch). The concept was to have fashion designers use their imagination and recreate Christmas trees, which were then auctioned off for charity. With Marek's blessing, Watine took the idea to the Belgian capital. The first edition attracted 14 designers and 60,000 euros.
This year, 38 designers are on board, including high-profile names like Raf Simons, Stella McCartney, and Diane Von Furstenberg. To be auctioned December 1 for BIG, a breast-cancer awareness group, the creations range from the predictably phallic (such as Natan's spare wood structure) to the pious (Kryst's beautifully pixelated Madonna and child, made of tiny plastic tubes). Among the more unexpected are Jean-Paul Lespagnard's scarf — showing a popular Christmas meal of sushi, waffles, and a roast — draped over a man's head, as well as Wouters and Hendrix's downright campy tree admiring itself in a mirror. Simons' much-anticipated contribution is an large plush sofa in the shape of a tree — baby not included.
Wouters & Hendrix
It's not often that the 18th-century Queen of France and one of the greatest voluptuaries the world has ever known is invoked to describe a contemporary accessory. Nonetheless, Marie Antoinette and her exacting standards are cited by photographer and poet Christopher-Calvin Pollard when detailing his elaborate new shoe for his Iconoduly line, co-founded with the French-American artist Virginie Hauss. So lofty is its concept (and, at $15,000, its price tag) that it transcends footwear altogether. Indeed it's part of the duo's mission to revive, using centuries-old artisanal techniques, what they see as the lost art of adornment.
Let's break it down. Limited to 51, each pair of the Thyrsus shoe (named after a pinecone wand that, in Greek mythology, is associated with prosperity and hedonism) is handmade from beginning to end. The heel itself is carved by a master sculptor from solid cocobolo wood and finished with 24-karat gold leaf; the pinecone scales in the back are individually cut and stitched from fine ostrich-leg leather; the insole is wrapped in Lelievre embroidery; and the outsole is fire-branded with the edition number. Which is to say, nary a synthetic molecule goes into the production.
Incredibly, there is already a wait list, says Pollard. But unlike Birkins, buying into Iconoduly requires rules of ownership. "I am very picky about who I let purchase a pair. All women must first complete a Proust Questionnaire and then the selection process begins." Even when clients are allowed in, there is a shroud of secrecy that must be met at all times — it's a rule.
Pollard says he plans to make exactly one style of shoe per year, and he has the next 20 years already designed and sketched. Even the perks are planned out. For 2015, the Thyrsus will come with a skirt and earrings and, for 2016, the as-yet-unveiled object of adornment will ship with a 22-karat gold headpiece and a bench. Not just any bench, surely, but the most exquisite divan ever made.