18/09/2014

Meadham Kirchhoff’s Fashion Revolution

Can fashion still be rebellious, subversive, revolutionary and independent? Can it still contribute to a broader political discourse on society and our time? The latest Meadham Kirchhoff collection for Spring/Summer 2015, presented during London Fashion Week, aimed at proving that fashion design can still construct a narrative that goes beyond traditional issues of style, tailoring and beauty, touching issues of gender equality and representation, fight against misogyny, commercialisation and discrimination.

Meadham Kirchhoff was founded in 2006, by designers Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff who studied womenswear and menswear respectively at London’s Central Saint Martins. Initially launched as womenswear brand, Meadham Kirchhoff has developed its first menswear collection in 2013, mixing in their latest show the two productions with the deliberate aim of subverting the traditional division of the two fields. Everything in their last presentation was carefully planned with the aim of delivering a precise political message: from the choice of location (the basement of a classic Soho record store), to their choice of models (an open casting call brought together a mix of ‘local kids’), from the set-up of the show (made of what appeared to be kitschy garbage) to the rebellious fanzine that was handed out to each participant.

The collection itself, made of cheap fabrics, over-exaggerated accessories (those bloody tampons were possibly a little bit unnecessary) and opulent cuts, called to action by referencing the most iconic anti-establishment scenes of the past decades – punk heroines, queer club kids, grunge and ‘angry feminists’. A commercially difficult yet unbearably of-the-moment collection, Meadham Kirchhoff’s latest creative endeavour instructed its public to “reject everything” precisely by embracing what is, ever so often, rejected.

Rujana Rebernjak 
17/09/2014

Munthe – Expected Glamour with Unexpected Twists

It’s Wednesday morning and the summer air is breezing through the fashionable crowd enjoying the Munthe brunch before entering the show. To everyone’s surprise the runway has been replaced by an installation. In a small room there were seven girls sitting and reading while showcasing the newest collection from Munthe. Behind them was the remainder of the collection. Having adapted to the importance of street style Naja Munthe showed her authenticity, but also made it clear that fashion doesn’t exist just for the “glamazon”. It is even more important for the plain Jane, where it’s all about creating an image of who or what you want to be.

The art of perception is something Munthe brand has taken to heart. Established in 1994, the brand quickly rose to fashion stardom within Denmark and soon enough became a household name. Naja Munthe studied design at the design school Kolding and is known for gaining inspiration from her travels, the Scandinavian seasons as well as art and literature, creating an eclectic nature for her fashion house to grow in. Through the years, the fashion brand has been awarded in several categories and countries, including Italy (Trade Leaders Club, Corporate image) and France (Veuve Clicquot, Business Award of the Year).

In 2010 Naja Munthe created an interior collection named Casa de Luxe by Naja Munthe adding to the brands wondrous world. After 20 years in the spotlight the brand has become synonymous with a laid back glamourous design with a raw edge, as well as being a reliant pillar of Danish fashion scene. Following her own voice, the clear DNA of Munthe is always present and offers the expected, undeniably bohemian rocker vibe. Normally a death sentence in fashion, sticking to a precise set of references has in this case been turned on its head, generating surprise twists and exploring different sides of one style. For SS15 season, we could see the expected laid-back elegance, but by adding pieces such as a striped fur bolero Naja built on that essential elegance making it something more, making it unmistakeably Munthe.

Victoria Edman 
17/09/2014

Through the Lens of Carissa Gallo

Images courtesy of Carissa Gallo 
16/09/2014

London Design Festival 2014

Have you ever considered design to be overwhelming? Touching realities, objects, disciplines and crafts as different as glassmaking, automobile industry, packaging or motion graphics, design gives shape to nearly any sphere of human activity. It can be simple and straightforward or conceptual and inquisitive; it forms such a complex and articulated ecosystem of activities and artefacts that it is sometimes unbearably difficult to grasp. And yet, when all those spheres of activity collide, the result is often an exuberance of intelligence, wit and insight or, on the contrary, of uselessness, waste and superficiality.

As any other grand design fair, this year’s London Design Festival presents a healthy mix of both. It is insightful and innovative, as well as somewhat repetitive and futile. As such, it is, in fact, an accurate representation of the many faces that form the design sphere. Founded in 2003, London Design Festival has opened its 12th edition with a program of around 300 projects scattered between various design districts, small independent spaces and established design institutions. Lacking a well-defined core such as Milan’s ‘fiera’, the Festival shifts its focus between talks, exhibitions, presentations, events and specially commissioned projects, such as two Landmark Projects – one at the V&A developed by Barber and Osgerby and one in Trafalgar Square by Morrison, Patternity, Raw Edges and Studioilse –, a series of installations at the V&A Museum, Global Design Forum panel, six design districts – Brompton, Chelsea, Clerkenwell, Islington, Queens Park, Shoreditch, rather than designjunction, 100% Design, Focus/14 or Tent London creative hubs.

Lasting a little more than a week – the festival opened on the 13th of September and lasts until the 21st – London Design Festival explores design’s diversity and apparently endless limits. It shows its relationship with the past and monumentality with Barber and Osgerby’s installation in V&A’s Raphael Gallery; it shows design’s reflection on design itself with Formafantasma’s “From Then On” project for Established & Sons; it demonstrates its relationship with subtle gestures and peculiarities of everyday life with Fabrica’s “Extra-Ordinary Gallery” at the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch; it explores its storytelling abilities through “Crafting Narrative” exhibition at Crafts Council; and, most of all, it explores its inevitable, fundamental relationship with the industry with projects that range from new furniture designs for Vitra to a conceptual mini market set-up by Hay, eloquently showing the dense, seamless and perpetuate transformation of contemporary design practice.

Rujana Rebernjak 
16/09/2014

Mod Are Back on Track for Fall

The influence music takes on fashion is an old story. And the specific case of Mod is nothing but an ordinary relation between the two fields. The term Mod refers to a British youth subculture born in mid-1960s and the name comes from Modernists, a small group of stylish men from England, who used to listen to modern jazz. And if you mix a little bit of that trend – often characterized by tailor-made suits, loafers and tight ties – with the colorful vibe of swinging London, you will obtain the 60s style we saw pretty much on FW 2014 catwalks.

At Saint Laurent show, for instance, the mood is a dark one, the never-ending story of Mr. Slimane and rock music does not seem ready to end quite soon. The result? Patent leather shoes, mini pleated skirts, capes, and dark nuances. A different approach was the one of Carven, where the color palette is diversified, touching pink, cream and burgundy. Eventually, the mood reached even Nicholas Ghesquière, who changed all the Louis Vuitton bourgeois women we where used to knowing and even started to expect. The final result here is a late 60s confident girl who loves to show her skinny legs and to cover her even skinniest breast, as a physical reminder of the silhouette typical of the time.

Francesca Crippa 
15/09/2014

Style Suggestions: Autumn Leather

Leather is quickly becoming a fashion staple and for this Autumn, designers have had some fun with the silhouettes. From polished A line skirts to biker jackets and boots, invest in pieces that will last you a lifetime.

Top: Fendi, Skirt: Drome, Shoes: Agnona, Earrings: Osanna e Madina Cisconti di Modrone, Bag: Marni

Styling by Vanessa Cocchiaro 

15/09/2014

Olafur Eliasson: Riverbed

Louisiana Museum in Denmark hosts the first solo exhibition of Olafur Eliasson (b. 1967, Copenhagen) with the evocative title Riverbed. The striking art venue placed on the cost in the north of Copenhagen offers its unique spaces – a perfect synthesis among works, architecture and landscapes – to the Danish/Icelandic artist who created a site-specific project that looks into the relation between art and nature. According to Eliasson’s inclination to conceive complex, large-scale immersive works, the three-section exhibition presents Riverbed (2014), a central installation made of wet stones, which cover the floors of the entire South Wing turning it into a rocky slippery scenery with a stream of water that totally changes the perception of the galleries, inviting visitors to walk and enjoy the museum in a different way.

Another reflection on the body’s movement in space is present in the three videos of the second section: Movement microscope (2011), where we see dancers in Eliasson’s studio blurring with the everyday working activities; Your embodied garden (2013), the artist’s exploration of a Chinese garden though the minimal movements of choreographer Steen Koerner; Innen Stadt Aussen (2010), a double portrait of Berlin in motion; while the third section presents Model Room (2003) – an essential work of the artist – repeatedly adapted to match the situation, consisting of around 400 prismatic models employed by the artist to develop his projects.

Olafur Eliasson’s poetics is strictly influenced by the peculiarities of the surroundings and plays with natural elements and lights with unpredictable effects, creating myriads of refractions that transform the perception of art spaces and the viewers’ fruition of artworks. Stripped from superstructures, Eliasson’s works aim at generating an intimate relation with people, who are allowed to discover all the devices behind them, making the experience more authentic and open. Riverbed will run until 4th January 2015.

Monica Lombardi 
12/09/2014

The Silent Art of Tomaso Buzzi

Between 1932 and 1933 the Milanese architect Tomaso Buzzi began a fruitful collaboration with the Venini glassware company, which would continue, albeit episodically, in later years. The architect’s creative contribution was evident both in the glass forms and in their innovative manufacturing technique. When Buzzi arrived at the Venini company in Murano, in 1932, he brought with him a remarkable cultural baggage and a thorough knowledge of ancient art, in particular of the Etruscan period, where he looked for inspiration with the aim of creating new and original artefacts. This was achieved through the experimentation with a new glass material, the “vetro incamiciato”, with several layers of colour and gold leaf.

This technique radically changed the appearance of the glass produced at Venini, contributing to the drive for innovation of the Murano-based glassware company, and re-asserting its vocation for producing elegant and refined glass. The exhibition Tomaso Buzzi at Venini, curated by Marino Barovier for Le Stanze del Vetro at San Giorgio Island in Venice, retraces this brief but fruitful collaboration, documented through the selected works (approximately 200), the original drawings preserved in the Venini’s archive, and a previously undisplayed collection of drawings preserved at the Scarzuola in Montegabbione (near Terni).

Furthermore, for this third exhibition dedicated to the Venini glassware company at Le Stanze del Vetro, film director Gian Luigi Calderone has made a documentary film entitled “Tomaso Buzzi. Memories of my Guardian Angel”, which tells the story of the Milanese architect through the unpublished notes for his autobiography, narrated from the point of view of his “Guardian Angel”. The exhibition Tomaso Buzzi at Venini at Le Stanze del Vetro in Venice will open on the 14th of September 2014 and will run until 11th of November 2014.

Rujana Rebernjak 
12/09/2014

Carin Rodebjer: from Sweden to New York

With one foot in Sweden and the other in the US, Carin Rodebjer continues to be one of Sweden’s most celebrated designers; a supposition reinforced by her Spring 2015 collection, Raw Power, shown last week in New York. The collection was made of pink, yellow, dark blue, orange, black and the essential colour of spring – white. Add patterns, interesting details and a nice craft and you get a sense of Rodebjer Spring 2015. The collection is diversified to such a level that, as some critics noted, it nearly misses a clear message. We are, however, more positive, loving many pieces of her collection, among which the silky, pink, pajama-look which opened the Rodebjer show.

While it can be said that that Carin Rodebjer has not shown the conceptually clearest collection, the overall impression is of a show perfectly in tune with her design mission – to create effortless elegance for all occasions. The award winning brand has stayed true to these values since its very inception and the story behind its success lays in knowing intimately the type of woman they are designing for. This is the fourth season Rodebjer is showing in New York, confirming the brand’s value and success even outside of Scandinavia. Seeing how far she has come, one must wonder whether Carin Rodebjer, who founded the brand in 2001 after dropping out of her studies at Fashion Institute of Technology, would have ever imagined it would turn out like this. And we are really glad it did.

Hanna Cronsjö 
11/09/2014

100% Lost Cotton: an Opening Ceremony play

In the hustle and bustle of fashion weeks, especially in New York, with more than 200 shows and presentations taking place over the course of 10 days, it is fairly difficult for fashion brands to stand out. That is, it has become increasingly difficult to stand out only for the quality of a collection. Rather, fashion brands are ever more often using spectacle and innovative ways of presenting their products in order to catch a moment under the spotlight. This is one of the main reasons why fashion shows have become such a complex and elaborate productions, where emotions, performance and scenographic extravaganza take over, leaving fashion and style in the backdrop.

To charm and amaze the fashion crowd is not an easy job. Yet, through the years, Opening Ceremony, and its founders Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, have shown to be one step ahead. For this season’s runway, the two creative minds have decided to work with Spike Jonze and Jonah Hill on creating a memorable show. Their fusion of fashion and storytelling has brought about “100% Lost Cotton”, a one-act play written by Jonze and Hill, starring actors Catherine Keener, Bobby Cannavale, John Cameron Mitchell, Elle Fanning, Rashida Jones and Karlie Kloss, that served as the brand’s runway show. In typical Jonze and Hill style, the play was a satire of the fashion system itself: a backstage dramedy that takes place during New York Fashion Week – featuring characters named Carol and Humberto, it was a lighthearted, meta take on the fashion circuit with its tangential relationships, insecurities and struggles.

But 100% Lost Cotton was also a fashion show, where Opening Ceremony’s Spring/Summer 2015 collection took center stage. Karlie Kloss, who made her theatrical debut as herself, wore a neoprene pullover and twill mini skirt with small circular laser cut-outs. Elle, an earnest newbie model from Oklahoma, sported a swimming-pool-inspired cut-out grommet dress. Dree, who played an insecure model who dabbles in “musing” wore a powder-pink romper and an Athena bag in a mini lunch bag shape. The clothes were vibrant, in punched-up colours like tangier pink, coral, palladium green, and cerulean. Like the production, the collection was inspired by simpler times and the pure fun of collaborating with friends. “It was supposed to be about the summer of ’91 when Carol and I used to go pool hopping together in high school,” Humberto explained in a scene. “All we wanted to do was find another new pool to sneak into—that’s all that mattered.”

Rujana Rebernjak