Style Suggestions: Street Chic

Street wear doesn’t just have to be just T-shirts and sweat pants – put in a little more effort and you can still look casual and chic. Match a denim shirt with a nice trouser, trench and sneakers and it makes a perfect outfit from day to evening.

Trench coat: Maison Margiela, Shirt: A.P.C., Trousers: Burberry Prorsum, Sneakers: Common Projects, Sunglasses: Saint Laurent

Styling by Vanessa Cocchiaro 


Vis-à-Vis by Moroso: the Power Between Art and Design

Recently, design got us used to frequent intrusions in the domain of art. Party because of consumers’ growing desire of bespoke objects, partly because of the encouraging economic results of the limited-edition market, designers have become more willing to give birth to projects that flirt with an artistic approach and soon become too narcissist and redundant. To this end, the recent debate aroused by Hella Jongerius and Louise Schouwenberg’s manifesto “Beyond the New. A Search for Ideals in Design” is a necessary warning about the excesses of what is commonly defined as art-design. This is the reason why Moroso’s latest project – “Vis-à-Vis: design meets art” – presented during latest Salone del Mobile, is a curios yet significant U-turn between the disciplines balance of power. In fact, the preconception of a déjà-vu, a seductive yet reverential gesture that sees design bowing in the presence of art, is subverted as soon as we encounter Jörg Schellmann’s new collection of furniture in the ground floor of via Pontaccio showroom.

Jörg Schellmann’s profile is peculiar. Well-known internationally for his editions of contemporary art (his company Edition Schellmann, now Schellmann Art, was founded in New York in 1969), Schellmann converted to furniture design in 2008, putting in production furniture by artists, as well as his own designs. Despite an artistic background, his sensitivity doesn’t move away from the requirements of serial production: all his pieces are industrially reproducible, respectful of ergonomic principles, and share an orthogonal aesthetics that, at a first sight, seems to be inclined to the ideal of “good form”. However, his artistic sensitivity appears here and there, through a series of loans and quotes, such as the archetypical plastic boxes used in the “Storage” containers, or in the clear reference to the minimalistic aesthetics of Sol LeWitt and Donald Judd.

“Vis-à-Vis” artistic influence, indeed, is not relegated to Schellmann’s background. Around his collection and other Moroso’s pieces, the works of acclaimed contemporary artists are displayed on the walls, such as, among others, Daniel Buren, Gilbert&George, Cindy Sherman, Rosemarie Trockel. These works seem to restore a boundary that, after too many abuses, we were missing and suggest, by the way, that it is possible to promote a dialogue without recurring to an inevitable contamination of genres.

Giulia Zappa 

House of Dagmar Celebrates Ten Years

House of Dagmar celebrates ten years within the fashion industry by launching an exclusive dress collection with ten favourites chosen from the past decade. The brand’s success story started in the 2005, when three sisters – Karin Söderlind, Kristina Tjäder and Sofia Wallenstam – decided to start their own brand after having studied and worked within the fields of fashion design, marketing, and economics. The Swedish fashion industry had, during this period, started to expand and thanks to their optimistic outlook and entrepreneurship, the three sisters only saw opportunities for their innovative brand House of Dagmar. The brand is named after their grandma, Dagmar, who played an important role in the three sisters lives, as she inspired them to go their own way and encouraged their fashion interest at an early age, by showing them international fashion magazines, through her work as a seamstress and her personal, chic style.

Ten years later, the brand has grown to become a central part of the Swedish fashion industry, winning awards like this year’s designer at the Swedish Elle Style Awards 2015. Their signature trademark, such as sophisticated materials, focus on details and feminine, wearable pieces, are all a crucial part of their success. Through building their brand on traditional Scandinavian sewing techniques and uniting their technical knowledge with modern elegance, they have achieved to create their own aesthetic. House of Dagmar’s classic and yet modern approach to fashion, has resulted in pieces and collections that feel as relevant today as they did when they first were launched – an important aspect of their idea of creating pieces that are long-lasting both in terms of quality and design. Among the dresses relaunched for their ten year anniversary, you can find exquisite examples like their signature crochet lace dress. By the time the brand celebrates 20 years, there will be even more House of Dagmar dresses to cherish and wear over and over.

Hanna Cronsjö 

In short: “Fashion”

The fashion film is a relatively new phenomenon. However, the relationship between fashion and film is certainly not new. Several times in the past, we could witness key moments when fashion has influenced film and vice versa. Just look at Woody Allen’s Annie Hall or Tom Ford’s A Single Man. Nevertheless, the latest mode of interaction between cinema and fashion has taken the route of short films produced by great directors, artists and actors for fashion brands. But has the short film been incorporated into fashion labels simply for marketing? Rodarte has, through a collaboration with Todd Cole, delivered several fashion short films, including This Must Be the Only Fantasy in 2013, starring Elijah Wood with a surreal and magical tribute to fantasy. Karl Lagerfeld presented Reincarnation starring Cara Delevingne and Pharrell Williams to accompany the Paris-Salzburg collection for Chanel. More often than not the short films seem to be a company to the collection or product itself.

Different fashion houses have, within the framework of their names, different possibilities to create original systems of expression. Nevertheless, short films that create the feel for the label’s season, still have to abide by certain rules in order for the viewers and consumers to be drawn in. It’s about creating something unexpected, yet in tone with the brand. Short films can be used merely for marketing purpose, a fun way to introduce a new collection or product. However, they can also help to build on the label’s heritage. Presenting a story in a nice bow adds layers to fashion houses, placing them within a different context. With the mainstream becoming wider within the fashion world and the internet speeding up the processes of each season, short films are a demonstration of the nature of fashion that says something more than just: “purchase”.

Fashion will always be that je ne sais quoi, that little something that is the reason why some trends fail and other conquer. It is not as simple as survival of the fittest; instead it is finding a balance between staying new and staying relevant. By using the visual media of film, labels can promote, create and exist within the luxurious surreal fantasy bubble, under controlled circumstances, without losing an established identity.

Victoria Edman 

Through the Lens of Farah Al Qasimi

Farah Al Qasimi is a young photographer based between Dubai, UAE and New York. Set between two cultures, two modes of living and ways of understanding the world, Al Qasimi’s photographs are focussed on uncovering a sense of displacement – what are its material traces and how it shifts our perception of the reality. With her project “The World is Sinking”, centered around ‘back alleys’ of Dubai, Al Qasimi takes a look at hidden aspects of the ordinary, of her own past and relationship to the city itself. Capturing the overlooked aspects of the mundane in Dubai – forgotten halls, abandoned commercial sights, debris – Al Qasimi reveals less glamourous, unknown aspects of the city with a subtle and careful poetics, that reveals as much about the metropolis’ secret life as much as it speaks about the author herself.

The Blogazine – Images courtesy of Farah Al Qasimi 

Daily Tips: Kartell Produces Sottsass’ Vases

There are certain individuals in the history of design, that always prove to be ahead of their time. One of them is the great Italian master, Ettore Sottsass. During this year’s Salone del Mobile, the Kartell company has presented a series of nine pieces designed by Sottsass in 2004. At the time, though, the pieces did not go into production due to limits in technology. Ten years later, Kartell has produced the six vases, two stools and a lamp, characterized by Sottsass’ peculiar visual language, evocative of his unique design process. Exuberant colours and rounded forms translate Sottsass’ timeless references into shiny, three-dimensional pieces.

“Technology enables us to realise Sottsass‘ designs with a quality and sophistication that would have been impossible ten years ago,” said the president of Kartell, Claudio Luti. “I am convinced that the maestro would have been enthusiastic as to how we have given life to his objects, that are one of a kind, unmistakeable, some of which will be projected towards a totally industrial and international future.”

The Blogazine 

Glass From Finland in Venice at Le Stanze del Vetro

In the early Twenties, after becoming independent from what was about to become the Soviet Union, Finland used design as its manifesto, in an attempt to establish its autonomy and thus its cultural sovereignty. Some of the country’s greatest designers, who had connections with the international artistic movements, began to use glass to create works of art that blended tradition, experimentation and technique. The year 1932 is a chronological starting point for the Bishcofberger Collection of Finnish glass, currently on display in Venice, for it was then that the five leading Finnish names of the 1930s, spouses Aino and Alvar Aalto, Arttu Brummer, Göran Hongell, Gunnel Nyman designed glass objects for the first time and Finnish glass started to be exhibited all over the world, spreading the skills and creativeness of those who would be considered as the visionary masters of Scandinavian design. In the early Fifties, after the hiatus due to World War II and the three wars in which Finland was involved between 1939 and 1945 (the Winter War, the Continuation War and the Lapland War), the Finnish design laid the foundations of what would become “the golden age” of Finnish glass. This was also made possible by the impressive industrial growth of the country, resulting in the manufacturing and distribution of everyday life objects. As the curators of the exhibition point out – “Finnish glass started to be appreciated during the 1950s for the quality of its manufacturing process, which on the one hand ensured its high artistic value, and on the other fostered its industrial production and ensuing commercial success.”

Along with internationally acclaimed designers such as Alvar Aalto, other artists became the new stars of Scandinavian design, such as Kaj Franck, Gunnel Nyman, Timo Sarpaneva and Tapio Wirkkala, who is considered to be the symbol of the international success of post-war Finnish design. The attention that the international press gave to Scandinavian design played an important role in determining its worldwide success: Italian architect Giò Ponti, founder of the magazine Domus, became strongly committed to the promotion of Finnish glass. Italian and Finnish design were linked by a common ideal of functionality and aesthetics, which led to several collaborations between designers and companies from both countries, as in the fruitful case of Venini with the Finnish artists Tapio Wirkkala and Timo Sarpaneva.

During the Sixties and Seventies, color and energy became the main focus of Finnish design; the glass works became colorful and were given elaborate shapes. Oiva Toikka designed glass birds, which became Iittala’s iconic brand. Through his irreverent approach to the glass medium and tradition, Toikka represents the connection between the golden era of the fabulous Fifties and a more contemporary design.

The richness of Finnish glass design is now displayed in Venice, at Le Stanze del Vetro museum. Thanks to a thorough documentation of the various historical periods, the works on display at the exhibition “Glass from Finland in the Bischofberger Collection” take the visitors from the crystal-clear and first colored glass works of the early Thirties to the more flamboyant and at times “psychedelic” production of the Seventies. Whether the objects are fun, practical or simply decorative, all the works on display are the result of a creative force and a technical know-how that have their origins in ancient times but that have shown that the glass medium can be used in dynamic and original ways, producing shapes and objects that have rewritten the history of the Scandinavian as well as of international design.

The Blogazine 

Modern Technology Meets Traditional Techniques

For this Spring, traditional handcraft has a redefined position within the fashion industry. The renewed appreciation and interest for old, traditional techniques are a tendency that is influencing collections from dominating fashion houses like Prada and Raf Simons and Dries Van Noten to smaller brands such as Hope and Faustine Steinmetz.

The inspiration for the Swedish brand Hope’s Spring collection is partly drawn from the work by the Swedish textile designer Märta Måås-Fjetterström. The creative process of designing the collection started with a photo of a rug made by Fjetterström, side by side with a photo of computer graphic. Together, the two photos represent the brand’s influences for this season, but also express the combination of old handcraft and modern technology, a mix which is central to this season’s handcraft trend. Besides the rug, an old sketch found in Märta Måås-Fjetterström’s archive has inspired a pattern in the collection. The result are pieces that have the archive sketch-inspired pattern printed on everything from backpacks to sporty velvet 70s pants, and it might not be a coincidence that we are seeing a renewed interest in handcraft at the same time as the wide pants have seen a bold renewal. Patchwork, embroidery and hand woven fabrics were central parts of the 70s style, which might explain their comeback in the this season’s fashion picture.

Another explanation could be found in the growing quest for genuine, individual products, as a reaction to all the mass produced items. The most significant difference between the 70s handcraft trend and the tendency we are seeing this Spring, is the modern technology and the new possibilities it has created. It is now possible to achieve a similar traditional handcraft look by using machines instead of creating them by hand. High tech and handcraft is, therefore, a combination which gives designers new opportunities to incorporate nostalgic handcraft in their collections, in order to develop more unique pieces. The new technological production methods, though, will never be able to take the place of a handmade piece and the time and knowledge that lays behind it. It is possible to imitate and mass-produce the look of handcraft but not the feeling of it, which brands such as Faustine Steinmetz and Altewai Saome have realized. Faustine Steinmetz is spinning, dying and weaving all her fabrics in the studio in London, while Altewai Saome have made handcraft one of their trademarks by both incorporating it into their high exclusive show pieces and their collections. The new approach to craft is a great way of spreading the appreciation for hand-made clothes to more people, as long as we don’t forget the original knowledge and tradition that lays behind it.

Hanna Cronsjö 

Salone del Mobile 2015: Nilufar Depot

Milan’s hectic Salone del Mobile week is slowly coming to a close. While the events in the city are surely much more than one can ostensibly see in a week, some exhibitions are undoubtedly more worthy than others. Therefore, rather than talk about a new sofa by a fresh design brand or a new chair by a contemporary designer, we thought it was better to choose a truly Milanese destination as our final suggestion: Nilufar Depot. For those who may not know it, Nilufar is the ultimate design destination in Milan. The gallery founded by Nina Yashar has, through the years, developed collaborations with some of the most exciting contemporary designers, as well as displaying modern masters. For this year’s Salone, Mrs. Yashar has decided to give a glimpse ‘behind the scenes’ of her incredible gallery. Nilufar Depot is, in fact, an ex-industrial warehouse where Mrs. Yashar stocks her incredible pieces, open for the first time for the public who can browse more than 3,000 pieces of modern and contemporary design.

The Blogazine 

The Method, The Man: Karl Lagerfeld. Modemethode

One of the most appreciated features of fashion is that it has to do with the idea of spectacle. Each of the ways in which fashion can be shown is to be considered a sort of spectacle, be it a photograph, a catwalk, a performance. Since Diana Vreeland first brought her idea of fashion – which is ours as well – into the museum institution, even the fashion exhibition has been considered a spectacle. There are, indeed, some cases in which objects, rather than being just wonderful objects to be visually appreciated – are put together and displayed to reflect about a path, a practise, a method. This is the case of the exhibition the Bundeskunsthalle has dedicated to Karl Lagerfeld, called ‘Karl Lagerfeld. Modemethode’. The exhibition traces a circle, ‘from paper to paper’, as stated by Rein Wolfs, co-curator together with Lady Amanda Harlech, friend and consultant of Lagerfeld himself; it holds everything that is in-between the blank paper at the beginning and the blank paper at the end of each project Herr Karl embarks on.

The method is shown for what it is, and the process seems quite regular: from the sketch to the garment, and from there to the communication of the design to the public with ADV campaigns and photographs, all curated and made by Lagerfeld himself. The whole architecture of the exhibition is strongly fictitious, and seems to recreate in each if its parts a sort of scene that comes out precisely from Lagerfeld busy mind. It opens with the re-creation of one of his desks, with all the objects it has around: crayons, many sheets of paper, piles of books. The desk is true-to life and indeed so fictional it is a manifesto of the theatrical idea of building up a story, a character: something Lagerfeld has worked on his whole life, creating a mythology around his persona and adapting his way of life to the ‘idea’ he wanted to become. Lagerfeld is himself a fictitious character, halfway between an ancient regime man and a black & white ideal silhouette, with a well-recognisable image that has made him an incontrovertible contemporary icon. He has decided who to be and how to be, and has followed a method in order to reach this symbiosis, which is the same method he seems to apply to design.

Lagerfeld is not shy in showing not only what he does, but above all how he is – or rather how he has decided to be. Everything is on set – from the sketches to the ADV campaigns and photographs, from the accessories to the garments, coming from the principal collections he has been in charge of: Chloé, Fendi, his eponymous label Karl Lagerfeld and the label he is mostly identified with, Chanel, ça va sans dire; everything seems simple, immediate and fresh, and denotes the impelling need to renovate, to change; emblematic, in this sense, is the selection called ‘the evolution of tweed’, a small path inside the experimentation with a fabric with a personality – and a story – so strong.

A sort of sprezzatura, a conscious and elegant nonchalance, characterises all of his designs – from the strikingly simple yellow coat with which he won the Woolmark Prize in 1954 to the Fun Furs he has been creating for Fendi for about 40 years – and sets the atmosphere of the whole exhibition. It is not a retrospective in the very sense of the world. It does not look back, but it rather depicts a way of working that has evolved in the years, shaping not only objects, but also a way of being which is timeless. The way Lagerfeld has merged his personality with his practice is the real core of the exhibition, and the actual message it wants to put through. The process is clear and linear, and has to do with the consideration of fashion as a spectacle, in a unity of practice and being, in which effort is dissimulated and the method becomes the man, the man the method.

Marta Franceschini – Images courtesy of Bundeskunsthalle