London Collections Men: Digital colours and kimonos

The most varied of major international fashion weeks, London Collections: Men is a very creative market where you can really breathe fashion innovation and extravaganza. In London, typical tailoring suits come together with yeti fur and feminine details, in a unique and totally British way. During the last three days of shows, we saw several micro trends, but the ones that caught our eye the most were basically two: kimono shape and digital colorful inserts.

The kimono shape appeared on many runways: Topman Design went for a Seventies flower power mood and surprised with pastel coloured bathrobes worn as cardigans. King of the third sex, J.W. Anderson, played a little bit with the waistline too, by giving an unexpected twist to very simple bottomed tunics. Finally, we cannot but mention Astrid Andersen’s sportive-aggressive approach, presented through a series of martial-arts inspired looks, with a mix of black and vivid warm colours.

Alexander McQueen SS 2015 runway showcased an attempt to recreate a sort of a higher midriff, with Sara Burton declaring a willingness to break up with the brand’s history and past collections. Her newly proposed path introduced spots of vivid colors in contrast with black and white, recalling a traditional Kabuki mask. A richer colorway and a more digital approach was spotted at Christopher Kane, where a classic black sweater was turned contemporary by adding bright tones in geometric shapes.

Opening Ceremony, on the other hand, went for softer and bigger shapes and a richer colour palette. Paired with psychedelic prints, Opening Ceremony’s vision underlined an innovative way to see men and their wardrobe. All in all, this season’s runways gave digital coloring a foothold in the field, becoming, together with a soft and refined silhouette, a true season staple.

Francesca Crippa 
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The Talented: Yulia Yefimtchuk

Fashion designer and founder of her eponymous brand, Yulia Yefimtchuk is reluctant to speak about the future. It might be that her Slavic origins and the tumultuous past and present of her home country – Ukraine – have instilled an innate sense of suspicion and doubt and taught her to not take anything for granted. And yet, Yefimtchuk’s recent rampant success – following her special Opening Ceremony victory at Hyères Fashion Festival – might well persuade her to think otherwise.

Yulia Yefimtchuk started her career as a fashion designer fresh out of Kiev’s Institute Of Decorative And Applied Art And Design, where she graduated in 2010. Since 2011, Yulia Yefimtchuk+, the official name of her brand, has been producing limited edition womenswear collections entirely in Ukraine. You can easily see the influence of Yefimtchuk’s favourite designers – Yohji Yamamoto, Rei Kawakubo and Raf Simons – on her carefully drawn, discreet and almost humble collections. Inspired by everyday life, Yefimtchuk’s creations are particularly harmonious, clear and linear, with minimalistic cuts, straightforward classical silhouettes and constructive details, such as cut-outs or bows, usually placed on the back.

While her previous collections drew from the designer’s inspirational themes in a more subtle and veiled way, the series that won her the recognition of Hyères committee, was much more bold and outspoken towards its rich set of references. Drawn from the Russian Constructivist Movement of the 1920s, the collection sports geometric cuts, pure forms and a stripped down aesthetics – deriving both from the iconic graphic and visual arts imagery of the time, as well as the Soviet-era restrained lifestyle. Conceived both as an ode and as a playful critique to her country’s past, this collection might be the fashion world’s best reminder that beauty can often be found through difficulty and constraint.

Rujana Rebernjak 
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Through the Lens of Giasco Bertoli

How, when and why did you decide to work in photography?
I started taking photos when I was 12 years old, I had a small Instamatic camera that my parents gave me. Ten years later I went to a photography school in Milan.

What are your influences, do you feel particularly related to any photographer?
I don’t know. My early influences include Robert Mapplethorpe, Diane Arbus, Walker Evans, Helmut Newton, while later I became interested in the photographic work of Ed Ruscha, Richard Prince, Cy Twombly, Andreï Tarkovsky.

How do you approach your work and how and why do you choose your subjects?
The final work goes through observation, really looking at things, which can simply take a few moments. Only the mind can transform something into a photograph. If photography was only a mechanical process, all photos would be the same. But, in fact, the different psychological charges come with our different psychological comprehension, and if there is no comprehension, we only have an excess of images. If you think about Instagram, for instance, you can see how people don’t know how to look. The subject I choose could comes simply from the everyday life experience, even though I’m particularly interested in the trilogy of life, sex and death.

What do you aim to communicate through your work?
Nothing. The viewer can make his own decision on the meaning of my work.

Tell us more about your Tennis Courts project, how did you start it and why is it so important for you?
I started the project years ago by taking a photo of an abandoned tennis court in the south of Switzerland, close to the place where I grew-up. I’m always drawn back to places where I have lived, the houses and their neighborhoods, ect. I would like to quote the French writer Marguerite Duras: les tennis on les regarde beaucoup, même quand ils sont déserts, quand il pleut…Il y aurait à dire sur les tennis qui sont regardés. There’s something about an abandoned-looking place that makes it look like it has a life of its own. I really like it.

What would be your dream project to work on?
Filming relieves my conscience. I just finished my first short film based on a Bukowski novel I read last year. I would like to work on a feature film soon.

Interview by Agota Lukyte – Images courtesy of Giasco Bertoli 
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Building Tiny Houses with Lester Walker

For as long as I can remember, I have always dreamed about the perfect house. I imagined the colour of its walls, the light coming through its windows, the size and shape of its furniture. My dream of a perfect house never included a single thought about the structure of its walls, the efficiency of its heating system or the finishing of its floors. It was all about a subtle feeling of calm, happiness and blissful peace, usually coming from months spent daydreaming about its carefully arranged, yet crooked details, and tons of shabby plants. Even though the thoughts on my perfect house never really entertained its construction, I can easily relate to Lester Walker saying that “one of the great thrills in life is to inhabit a building that one has built oneself.”

In the introduction to his book, Tiny Houses, Walker speaks about the veiled concept of a perfect house, saying: “The first tiny house I remember seeing and categorizing as a tiny, tiny house was a complete surprise. In the summer of 1963, I discovered one while hiking along what seemed to me to be a very treacherous untraveled animal trail on a remote part of Maine’s coastline. […] There it was, a tiny little gabble-roofed cabin built entirely of tarpaper and driftwood, complete with an Adirondack style built-in twig bed, a perfect little kitchen that used water from a nearby spring, and a writing desk under a window facing the sea. This home will remain in my mind as one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen.” This particular tiny house tipped of Walker’s adventure in compiling this book, while it also started what might be one of the most insightful, lightly profound and fortunate studies on the meaning of houses and building in our everyday life.

With Tiny Houses, Walker has compiled a sourcebook of different types of simple yet intimate homes: from Thoreau’s cabin to Martha’s Vineyard Campground cottages, from houses on wheels to tiny writer’s huts in which Hollywood movie scriptwriters were forced to stay until they completed their jobs. It is a practical book about building, as much as it is an ode to the pleasure of creating one’s home; a discovery of our intimate need to build a shelter and feel at ease within four walls, whatever form these may take. If a perfect house is, in fact, a dream, Lester Walker’s Tiny Houses is the most perfect tool to “inspire people of all ages and degrees of carpentry skill to take hammer in hand a build themselves” just that – “a little dream”.

Rujana Rebernjak 
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Ever Changing Stripes

Stripes are considered both a fashion classic and a fickle trend. Right now light blue and white stripes are the stripe to strive for. In the resort collections of 2015, stripes were seen on the runways of Mulberry, 3.1. Philip Lim and Gucci who updated the famous Breton sweater by introducing embroideries and different colors. However the novelty and classical aspect of the stripe does not change its tragic past: a history of décor that originates in politics and death.

During the Middle Ages – when the striped pattern first appeared – a discontent for the chaos the stripes mimicked grew, thus leading to a restriction in their use. Stripes became known as the pattern of evil, even causing people to be killed simply for wearing stripes, with the only people allowed to wear them being criminals and prostitutes. Then, during the late 1800s a fashion shift occurred and the nautical stripes became widely popular after Queen Victoria dressed her four year old son in a sailor suit with stripes. The Queen’s popularity brought the stripe out of the shadow.

However, we had to wait for the fashion genius Coco Chanel to bring the stripe into the 20th century. Referencing the French marine uniforms, Chanel created a collection which made the stripe a pattern of elegance and sophistication during the 1920s. Artists such as Picasso and Warhol helped immortalize the pattern further, reviving it in the male wardrobe. During the 1960s the stripe became the pattern of choice for hippies and movie stars alike and would become a symbol of the Beatnik Generation. In the 1990s the stripe made a statement of professionalism as it made its way into the business world. However, even though the sophisticated, slender version of stripes could even be seen on suits, its iconic flair remained a symbol of subculture groups, especially when paired with plaid shirts for the grunge-obsessed.

Based on its rich history and stratified evolution, the versatility of stripes makes it interesting even today. From catwalk to street style, the stripe has become timeless, minimalistic and elegant while still representing subtle rebellion, creating unity across genres and styles. The appeal resides in the simplicity and adaptability of this everlasting pattern, undoubtedly keeping it around for many more seasons to come.

Victoria Edman 
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Style Suggestions: Sports

Summer has arrived and its time to get in shape. Here are some key pieces that we suggest to help you on your way.

Top: Adidas by Stella McCartney, Shoes: Nike, Shorts: T by Alexander Wang

Styling by Vanessa Cocchiaro 

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Gregory Crewdson And His Perfect, Magic Moments

Unanimously recognized as one of the most brilliant photographers of our time, Gregory Crewdson (b.1962, New York) is often compared to other renowned American artists working in different fields (among which Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch and Edward Hopper) for his obsessive control of the composition – every single element of the frame is accurately selected – and the ability to portrait American suburban every day life through an unnerving, visionary hyperrealism.

The juxtaposition between a certain kind of cinema and Crewdson’s photographs is not a mere coincidence; indeed, the creation of his images is a long process, which involves a solitary and slow location scouting – the most important part of the entire process – and a regular cinematographic troupe that painstakingly builds the wanted set and light to get the perfect shot. Each picture is a frozen and mute slice of life, mid-way between reality and fiction, beauty and decadence. They are fixed but incomplete moments, without before and after, that allow viewers to get drawn into the scene, projecting their experiences and free interpretation to generate personal narratives.

The stages offer rarefied atmospheres where everything is perfectly contextualized – nothing has been left to chance – and seems to be definitely real, but filtered through artificial, dreamlike and surreal lights, which give a pictorial aspect to the works. Crewdson depicts deserted streets, supermarkets with neon signs during twilight and dawn, parked or overturned cars in the boulevards, motel beds and private living rooms inhabited by puzzling characters, lost in thought and leading a very solitary existence. They are stills from the world of unconscious ghosts that remind us of Short Cuts by Altman rather than the incomparable Raymond Carver’s Cathedral novels.

But beyond this type of work, which is undoubtedly Crewdson’s most widely known, we cannot avoid mentioning a special series of photographs made by the artist during the summer of 1996 in rural Massachusetts, entitled Fireflies: 61 black and white introspective photographs showing the magic fleeting light of the nocturnal creatures in a simple, poetic and direct way. Wave Hill in New York is now giving the wider audience a rare opportunity to see, for the first time ever, the complete collection of amazing images in a special exhibition which will run until 24th of August 2014. Do not miss it if you are around!

Monica Lombardi 
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Upcoming Artists: Frankie Cosmos

Hi Greta! Could you explain your background a bit? When did you start playing and how come you became a musician?
I started playing piano when I was around six years old. My family supported my brother and I in our music studies, which started at a very early age.

With what kind of music did you grow up with? Your sounds reminds me of The Moldy Peaches or Daniel Johnston.
I grew up hearing James Taylor, The Police or The Beatles, which is the music my parents always used to listen to at home. Later, when we were a bit bigger, my brother started showing me some music and I first heard about The Moldy Peaches or Daniel Johnston when I was around 12, so this sound has been with me for a very long time.

You’re very young but you’ve already recorded many songs, something like 50 EPs in only years. Where does this desire to record come from?
It might come from a compulsive place. It’s just an urge to keep track of my life and have a sort of an archive through music. I started playing music as a game, and it still kind of is a game for me, that is why I make so many songs, because, for me, it is just fun. If it weren’t fun and something I enjoyed, I wouldn’t be making music in the first place.

The choice of the name Frankie Cosmos is not accidental; your real name is Greta Kline (that would still be a nice name for a band)…
The name comes from an nickname that my boyfriend made up after I showed him the poet Frank O’Hara, by whom I was very fascinated at the time. Then the band name grew from that.

What role does art play in your life? It looks as it were extremely important to you…
This is a tough question! It plays a huge role, both in what I personally make as well as for the people I surround myself with. All the people I know are in some way artists or care deeply about art. I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t care about it, so it is sort of my basic environment in which I live and work every day.

You play a lot of instruments…During your concerts do you play all of them or just one? And when you record, what kind of equipment do you use?
We have a full band when we play live, I play guitar and sing, Aaron plays drums and sings, David plays bass, and Gabby plays keyboard and sings. When I record at home I use mostly an acoustic guitar and a keyboard, on garageband. We had access to a lot more equipment for the making of Zentropy.

In the last years Manhattan has been overwhelmed by young bands. Do you consider it a good or a bad thing?
I don’t really know any other young bands in Manhattan, so I guess this question is not applicable. But in general I say the more bands the better! It’s always good to have an environment where everyone feels safe making and sharing art no matter what their resources or backgrounds are.

Enrico Chinellato 
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Bare – the Quest for Truth in Fashion

Fashion can, as most subjects, be seen through different perspectives. Some people categorize fashion as a commercial matter, others believe it to be so much more. Bare, a new magazine about the culture of fashion, takes on the second stance. The goal of the magazine is to offer an alternative to the traditional view of fashion as a highly polished, guided and mediated environment, by proposing a publication that explicitly seeks the raw storytelling, liberty of expression, imperfection and, most of all, reality.

The willingness to distance itself from the superficiality of traditional fashion magazines, permeate the publication: from Bare’s layout to its selection of articles, photographic essays and interviews, the magazine as a whole is dedicated to “the unadorned moment of truth”. For this reason, the magazine has no brief, leaves their contributors – photographers, architects, designers, filmmakers – tell their own stories, where the process becomes as fascinating as the product and the readers are free to draw their own conclusions, participate in the story or even re-tell it in their own words. From a technical point of view, Bare does not use retouching or the artificial manipulation of photography typical of the traditional fashion media – an admirable and ambitious goal in a world full of mediated imagery and false representations.

The quest for rawness and reality might feel almost as a political stance in the competitive world of fashion media, where authenticity, imperfection, realism and verity are often concealed. In a difficult world of publishing, where so many quality publications are destined to die even before they are born, what might be the future of Bare? Hopefully, its readers will recognize its honesty and genuine touch as not only a fresh alternative, but a necessary shift for a brighter future of the fashion industry.

Hanna Cronsjö 
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When Hiroshi Sugimoto Does Good Architecture

The Japanese artist and photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto made his first architectural work for Le Stanze del Vetro on San Giorgio Maggiore island in Venice that opened on June 6. Known throughout the world for his photographic works in black and white, Sugimoto for the first time in Venice designing a structure after opening his architectural firm just few years ago.

“Glass Tea House Mondrian” is inspired by the tradition of the Japanese tea ceremony, as it was reformed by the master Sen no Rikyu. The pavilion consists of two main components, one outdoor and one indoor. The uncovered structure (about 40 meters long and 12.5 meters wide) winds through a path that includes a long pool of water, which leads the visitor into a glass cube (2.5 x 2, 5 meters), where on a regular basis, there a Japanese tea ceremony will be held. The glass cube welcomes, together with the master of ceremony, two visitors at a time, while the public may attend and take part in the ceremony gathering at the sides of the glass cube. The tools that will be used for the tea ceremony were all designed by Hiroshi Sugimoto and produced by artisans in Murano.

The flexible structure of the pavilion and its temporary nature, will also transform the garden where it was built, so far unused, in a versatile space, able to accommodate meetings and debates, and encourage visitors to freely determine their own experience with the pavilion. The innovation of “Glass Tea House Mondrian” lies in its ability to suggest a space for exhibiting and experiencing architecture, where the pavilion itself becomes exposure – innovation to which is added the autonomy of the artist to propose a theme and a project free from restrictions, but rather open to the possibility of experimenting with shapes, place, building technologies and materials.

The external structure is built entirely of cedar wood from Japan, and realized by Sumitomo Forestry Co. Ltd. Chosen by Hiroshi Sugimoto for their efforts in contributing to the reconstruction of the areas devastated by the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami of 2011 and instrumental in the construction of “Glass Tea House Mondrian” and the external enclosure, which is inspired by the Shrine of Ise. In the frame of the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, the “Glass Tea House Mondrian” also acquires a symbolic value by encouraging the visitor to interact freely with the place, and also requiring you to find the right balance between personal and artifice architectural and the natural environment that surrounds it.

“Glass Tea House Mondrian” builds a strong dialogue between interior and exterior, nature and artifice, closed and open, light and heavy, water and land, a relationship that results in the use of timber from Japan – for the external path – , mosaic – for the hot water – and glass – for the deputy to the experience of Japanese tradition.

Images and words Giulio Ghirardi 
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