The Ford Model

Twiggy, Grace Jones, Ali MacGraw, Lauren Hutton, Kim Basinger and Beverly Johnson all have one thing in common: they were all discovered by the genious Eileen Ford, co-founder of the Ford Modeling Agency.As the only daughter of Loretta and Nathaniel Otte, Eileen Ford had an idyllic childhood. In her own words her family believed she could do no wrong, often citing it as a reason for her high confidence. Early in her life Ford would become fascinated with fashion, clothes and etiquette, but at the time could not see her passion as a stepping stone to her future career. Instead, she attended Bernard College from which she attained a degree in psychology. In college, she met her future husband and business partner Jerry Ford and started to model a bit herself.

During WWII Eileen Ford returned to New York and started working as a stylist for Sears catalogs, gaining a key sense of style. In 1946, with a baby on the way, she thought her and her husband could use some extra money so she started to work as a secretary for some of her model friends, thus, unexpectedly, giving birth to Ford modeling agency. The agency quickly became popular, offering services that no other agency before Ford had, including clothing advice and career planning. Eileen Ford is remembered as being very firm, yet at the same time, nurturing and encouraging, always taking a stand for her models’ best interest. Many remember her inviting her protégées to live with her at her New York apartment, where she would give lessons in etiquette and advice on how to adjust to the city’s fast pace. Last week Eileen Ford passed away at the age of 92. She leaves behind a legacy of modernizing the modeling industry into what it is today. Empowering models and elevating their status from just a pretty face into something more. For this and so much more including guts and perseverance Eileen Ford will be remembered and admired.

Victoria Edman 
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DESTE Fashion Collection: 1 to 8

As it happens, museums, galleries and exhibiting spaces in general dedicate ever more often part of their annual program to the history, industry and culture of fashion. Not by chance, institutions like the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London have recently dedicated much of their time and energy in developing major fashion shows – met with equally great acclaim both by the critics and the public. Fashion has, indeed, become the very last form of cultural business.

Fashion curation is an emerging and flourishing field, an area of rapid growth in museums worldwide, which sees in viewers’ emotional engagement the key of its peaking popularity. But, when fashion crosses the boundaries of the art world, one main ontological question must arise: how should fashion be displayed within an art museum? An intelligent answer comes from DESTE Foundation, with its recent exhibition titled “DESTE FASHION COLLECTION: 1 TO 8” occupying the Benaki Museum in downtown Athens (on view through October 12, 2014).

Since 2007, DESTE Foundation has been conducting research on the meaning of fashion today, seeking the contribution of contemporary artists, architects and creative minds on the critical discourse around this fast-paced discipline. It is an incremental, evolving and potentially open-ended project whose main goal is to test and stretch the boundaries between art and fashion in an innovative and experimental way. Each year an artist is offered the opportunity to build a capsule collection for the Foundation’s archive and to freely re-interpret it through the means of art, graphic design, cinema, architecture, publishing or fashion itself. The project’s first edition was curated by the Paris-based graphic design duo M/M Paris, followed by photographer Juergen Teller (2008), fashion designer Helmut Lang (2009), writer Patrizia Cavalli (2010), artist Charles Ray (2011), film director Athina Rachel Tsangari (2012), architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro (2013) and photographer Maria Papadimitriou (2014). Next year will be the turn of Sonic Youth’s front-woman Kim Gordon.

This year’s exhibition assembled the first eight years of fashion experiments conducted by the DESTE Foundation in an original display designed by architects Mark Wasiuta and Adam M. Bandler, both professors at Columbia University in New York, and respectively director and curator of the school’s gallery. Through a visually catchy, but at the same time very rigorous system of moving chain walls, the installation itself reflected on the idea of fluid boundaries between disciplines, with fashion and art constantly penetrating each other’s territories.

The curatorial apparatus highlights unexpected relationships: on one hand, it revealed the differences and tensions between two disciplines by examining them separately; on the other it inscribed them within the same cultural domain. In fact, navigating through the exhibition display and its dissolving rooms – rather than limiting themselves to passive admiration of displayed objects – the viewers were asked to force themselves to reveal the cultural interpretations hidden behind each single fashion piece, rediscovering it as an original artist’s work.

Tommaso Speretta – Images courtesy of Matthew Monteith 
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Don’t Stop Now: Fashion Photography Next

Fashion and art, art and fashion: that’s an ever more common binomial, which keeps on offering challenging starting points for the synthesis of new visions and important contexts where different artistic experiences can coexist and dialogue. We are all used to hearing about fashion designers and brands that choose to get involved in the art world as collectors or founders and supporters of international art projects and venues; and it’s not unusual to learn of artists who put their creativity to use in collaborations for capsule collections and special edition products. The mutual and magnetic attraction between these two cosmos has existed for years, but what makes the contemporary cultural sharing really fruitful is the increasing recognition of fashion photographers, who are able to go beyond the boundaries of their fields, interpreting the urgencies of a market while maintaining a distinguishable artistic language.

Don’t Stop Now: Fashion Photography Next exhibition, arranged and co-curated by Foam and guest curator Magdalene Keaney, seems to take to stock of this situation, starting from a simple, but not always taken for grant fact: “fashion photographers are first and foremost photographers”. Fashion is always there, but it is showed in its different aspects, revealing different sceneries and subcultures, which have less to do with superficial slicks. As stated by the promoters of the show, there is a new generation of young photographers, which grew up absorbing the work of Mario Testino, Steven Meisel, Jürgen Teller or Wolfgang Tillmans, becoming, by now, undisputed talents, present in many exhibitions, fairs and art publications all over the world.

This new wave of artists follows a singular stylistic path and is, at the same time, able to stress the individual peculiarities of their work, wisely combining tradition and new technological tools. Analogue and digital confront each other, representing diverse devices to develop ideas and keep moments alive. Framed photographs, collages, polaroids, photo installations, videos and books featuring still lifes, landscapes and portraits are made to last more than a single magazine issue. The romantic and dark shots of Julia Hetta, young urban style depicted by Tyrone Lebon, formal neatness of Hanna Putz and genuine and ironic, somehow punk, always cool images by Tung Walsh and Ruvan Wijesooriya (among the others) will be on view at Foam museum in Amsterdam until September 7th. If you are around, even if you are not a fashion addict, don’t miss it.

Monica Lombardi – Images courtesy of Foam 
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Style Suggestions: Backpacks

Stylish and convenient: the backpack has gone through an extreme makeover, and we can’t get enough of it! You can find a variety of leather, exotic skins and colours that are fashionable enough for work or a night out. These are not the same nylon bags you once knew.

Orange backpack: 3.1 Phillip Lim, Red backpack: Proenza Schouler, Bracelet: ACNE, Cleanser: A.P.C.

Styling by Vanessa Cocchiaro 

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Makers Biennial at MAD in New York

What was the last time you made something from scratch? The art of making has, to some extent, become the art of contemporary living and chances are, you might be making or planning to make something – a loaf of bread, a new scarf, pottery or even furniture – at this very moment. Craft or, rather, crafting is the focus of “NYC Makers: The MAD Biennial” at the Museum of Art and Design in New York. The first exhibition to open under the new director, Glenn Adamson, needs to be read as a statement of purpose for museum’s future developments. Founded as Museum of Contemporary Crafts in 1956, since changing its title in 2002 the institution has lost some of its former focus, which Adamson, a craft specialist and former director of research at the V&A in London, is intent to bring back.

“NYC Makers: The MAD Biennial” surveys New York’s creative community through a selection of 100 makers, unlimited by disciplinary boundaries. Nominated by a committee of 300 cultural leaders and subsequently selected by a jury led by Adamson and the exhibition’s curator Jake Yuzna, the artefacts displayed vary from more ‘traditional’ crafting practices like fashion and pottery making, to food and avant-garde technology. Through the idea of craft and making, Adamson presents a new approach to creative discipline, where art and design are brought together by “making, skill, knowhow and expertise”. This exhibition, in fact, celebrates a diverse field of creativity, “trying to espouse an egalitarian understanding of art, design and craft, and presenting many different types of people on an even playing field.” Therefore, “NYC Makers: The MAD Biennial” presents a sweeping cross-section of the cultural production of these inventive individuals, living and working within a single city: from deliberately important names like Yoko Ono, Laurie Anderson and Gaetano Pesce, to small and relatively unknown businesses like the tattoo artists Amanda Wachob or Flavor Paper wallpaper company. “NYC Makers: The MAD Biennial” runs for 100 days, until October 12, 2014.

Rujana Rebernjak 
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100% Theatre: Rimini Protokoll

Theatre is artifice, scenes abstracted from everyday life and superimposed to achieve some kind of narrative effect in a blank or symbolic space. In this way performance is never an approximation, but a kind of distortion, an interpretation of some aspect of social or cultural life. Frustrated with these limitations, other performative genres have developed which attempt to overcome them. Documentary theatre is defined as the attempt to relive the truth of an event, whether by sticking to a factual narrative or using non-actors. In this sense it may have more in common with forms of performance found outside the traditional theatre, as radio travelogue or television documentary.

Berlin based theatrical group Rimini Protokoll have devised new and ever more ingenious ways to dramatise this emerging genre of documentary theatre. One work called Lagos Business Angels bought them to Lagos, capital of Nigeria, and one of the fastest growing urban economies in the world. Here they recruited more than a dozen individual small business people to tell their unique stories, which they laid out in a stage setting for the Brussels festival Kunstenfestivaldesarts in 2012. The audience was invited to tour around an listen to an extraordinary array of stories from Austrian textile merchants who sell their handmade fabrics exclusively to Nigerian clients for their weddings, to shoe salesmen, people working in technology and shipping, used car salespeople, and even a German pencil manufacturer who had had unfortunate dealings with shady traders and was eventually invited by the Nigerian government to work for one of their anti-corruption watchdogs.

Just knowing that all of these people genuinely would return to these jobs after the festival intensified the audience’s interest in their lives, in the same was perhaps as reality TV but with a more sophisticated format and approach. Another project, variously called 100% Stockholm, 100% Zurich, 100% Melbourne, and the upcoming 100% Darwin, on 9th August this year, find a proportionally representative combination of the population of a city in 100 random people. What is compelling about this project is not only that the individuals are chosen for how their characteristics match the general statistics of the city, but how the group manage to bring these unlikely individuals together to tell a compelling story – giving the audience a sense of connection both with the characters on stage and with one another.

Rimini Proktoll maintain an active schedule. Upcoming performances include: Situation Rooms – A multiplayer video piece in Hamburg, Lausanne and Berlin, Remote X in Lausanne and Vilnius, and 100% Darwin in Darwin.

Philippa Nicole Barr 
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The Future of Swedish Fashion

Looking back at 2000, when Swedish fashion shyly took its first steps towards what it is today, no one would have imagined it would come this far, with such strength, boldness and flair. Contemporary Swedish design aesthetics is far from being simple and basic – an attribute often used to describe it in the past – rather, it has become the synonym of courage and audacious research. Even though the local fashion industry was shaken by the bankruptcy of celebrated brands The Local Firm and V Ave Shoe Repair, new talents are now showing innovative collections and predict a successful and bright future. Ida Klamborn, Caroline Kummelstedt and Isabell Yalda Hellysaz are three young fashion talents who are steadily becoming Sweden’s most interesting upcoming designers. They are undoubtedly the future of Swedish fashion.

The award winning designer Ida Klamborn, based in Stockholm, is already used to receiving accolades both at home and abroad. A graduate of the Swedish School of Textiles, she describes her design philosophy as “a balanced union between colors, shapes and materials where the momentum is reached by exploring and developing simple ideas into intriguing collections”. Her first official runway show, held during AW 2014 Mercedes Benz Fashion week in Stockholm, remained true to these ideas: graphic and colorful, her collection was in great contrast with dominating natural color palettes usually shown on Stockholm’s catwalks.

Caroline Kummelstedt is the founder and the designer behind the eponymous brand, currently based in Milan. Nominated for the 2012 Swedish Design Rookie of the Year Award, Caroline Kummelstedt’s design aesthetic is classic and timeless, with a feminine touch. Her aim is to create garments of long lasting quality, with carefully selected details, materials and making. With a background in entrepreneurship and experience in designing both womenswear and menswear design, Caroline Kummelstedt’s brand is bound to last.

Isabell Yalda Hellysaz – born in Iran and raised in Sweden – is a Central Saint Martins graduate who has already worked with several London-based designers as well as represented the prestigious college at British Fashion Council 2012. She has showed her collections both at the London College of Fashion annual runway show and Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Stockholm. Her ambition is to slow down the process of manufacturing and her brand is working as a small scale producer, concentrating her projects on the essence of fashion, craftsmanship, details and materials.

Hanna Cronsjö 
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Upcoming Artists: Relics

Tell us how Relics were born…
Individually: probably the same way as you, though it’s possible that one of us might have been delivered via caesarean. I’m not sure. Collectively: Alex and I used to hang out looking moody at clubs in east London when we were 17. Then we formed Relics when we were 18. Then we played around, went on hiatus, went to university, got back together, recruited Theo and Barney and started playing shows.

Relics has post-punk and shoegaze influences from the early 90s. Did you grow up listening these genres?
No, we didn’t. I didn’t like music until I was 15, which is when I started listening to loads of old progressive rock. Alex and Theo used to listen to Metallica and still crack out some pretty gnarly riffs when they’re bored in rehearsal. We all started listening to the kind of stuff that actually influences us now in our mid-teens, I think.

Are you working on an EP or LP?
An EP. Gradually. Probably a single first, though.

What about your summer ‘holidays’? Are you going to play somewhere special?
We’re mostly in London for the summer, actually. We have quite a few gigs booked. None of them are anywhere particularly special, but they should all be pretty fun.

How does it feel to live in London? Has this city influenced your music?
It feels different at different times. I might as well ask you how it feels to live in Milan. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad. I quite like the weather but I’m not such a big fan of the enormous disparity in wealth and standards of living. But that’s what cities have always been about, right? However, I think it has probably influenced our music that we all grew up in London. It makes you quite aggressive, quite spiky, quite impatient, which can be both a good and a bad thing and I think is reflected in our music. We’re actually trying to tone down that maximalist, everything-all-the-time feel slightly on some of our newer songs.

What is the coolest place you’ve played at?
Offset Festival was pretty good. We played there in 2010 and it was great to be in a field with loads of great bands and people we knew. That was with the original Relics line-up. Since we started playing shows again, the coolest place we’ve played is The Lock Tavern in north London – it’s so much fun every time we do a gig there. The load-out is a nightmare, though.

How did Straight To The Heart come about? I know that you’ve been to the Total Refreshment Centre…
The song or the video? The song was born in a shitty little basement off Kingsland Road, from the unholy union of a guitar riff by Theo and a chorus by me. (That’s how I remember it, anyway.) The video was born in a warehouse attic a bit further up Kingsland Road called (as you correctly say) the Total Refreshment Centre. There was a lot of coloured ink involved, some of which escaped into the shop underneath the warehouse. The owner was a bit mad about it, understandably, but I think he appreciated it was all in the name of art.

Enrico Chinellato 
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The Talented: Each x Other

If you are even remotely familiar with fashion and should come across a brand describing itself as a ‘fusion between fashion and art’ the least you could do is to frown upon that vague and over-used catchphrase. Unless you had stumbled upon Each x Other, a “unisex and collaborative” Parisian brand whose modus operandi is based on inviting artists, designers and craftsmen to design models for their collections.

Founded by fashion designer Ilan Delouis and artistic director Jenny Mannerheim, Each x Other is characterized by simple, linear, androgynous clothes – designed to be worn by both men and women – decorated by artworks created by artists, musicians, videomakers or designers. Conceived as a ‘publishing house’, Each x Other sees itself as a platform for promoting and ‘democratizing’ art, making it accessible to a wider audience by exploiting fashion world’s broader reach. While this concept may seem naïve if read strictly from an art world perspective, Each x Other’s approach to production and distribution of art multiples “for a price comparable to an item of clothing [...] beyond the classical cultural circuits of galleries and museums” suggests a deeper awareness of both discipline’s dynamics.

Each x Other’s clothes could be described as timeless classics – elegantly cut suits and trousers, delicate shirts, jackets, T-shirts and jeans – covered in eclectic prints, bold detailing and artsy finishings. Perfectly wearable with a pinch of eccentricity, their designs are utterly appealing and fresh, even though the concept of transforming art to clothes gets slightly lost in the process. Each x Other wishes to act as a magnetic point, “drawing artists from the four corners of the world into an ever-growing creative community, suggesting that for a new generation of collectors buying art may become as regular an activity as buying shoes.”

Rujana Rebernjak 
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Through the Lens of Aaron Rose

A first glance at these photographs shot by Aaron Rose in his early 20s, might suggest a satirical collage operation – a sort of a mise-en-scene of slightly repulsive and unbearably raw parts of humanity. Yet, these are documentary, rather than staged, photographs, taken by Rose in the 1960s in an attempt to capture Coney Island’s anatomy. Seizing upon technological development, Rose used chromogenic colour film and increased the grain and speed of the film to secretly capture his subjects. An anthropological inquiry into Coney Island’s melting pot, these images are more striking and unusual than any freak show imagery could have been. Fifty years after they were realized, Rose’s Coney Island photographs are shown to the public for the very first time at the Museum of the City of New York. Running until August 3rd 2014, “In a World of Their Own: Coney Island Photographs by Aaron Rose, 1961-1963” captures the essence of universally painful summer life in the city.

Aaron Rose – Images courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York 
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