New York Fashion Week: Five of the Finest

As the frosty air lingers over the city that never sleeps, the fashion elite is running between fashion shows organized by New York’s finest brands. The metropolis for both streetwear and sportswear, the expectations set for New York’s runways were high. To follow are a couple of notable highlights.

The Coat: During the autumn/winter shows, coats are, naturally, a recurring highlight down the runway. This season, Victoria Beckham made a minimally chic yet innocently sweet interpretation of the oversized coat. A light and dark version with fastening in the same colour and in the form of a small bow on the side worked perfectly within the piece.

The Icon: Tory Burch seemed to be presenting a modern version of Joni Mitchell. With round sunglasses, bohemian patterns and many layers, it was a definite 1970s vixen who stomped to her own beat adorned with the Tory Burch stamp. It brought bohemian chic from summer into the fall season.

The Evening Dress: Who doesn’t want to be a urban princess? The desire was well understood by Zac Posen who presented glamorous two piece dresses with unexpected flair. A long flowy silk skirt paired with an unexpected top such as a faux fur long-sleeve shirt, in the same mustard colour, of course.

The Accessory: Oversized faux fur collar as seen at Altuzarra is the perfect winter accessory. This piece added another dimension to otherwise flat coats and jackets and can also be adapted to work in-between seasons for leather jackets. Another fur accessory making a splash was the fur scarf worn diagonally to supply an asymmetrical feel to otherwise symmetrical looks, showcased at both Jason Wu and 3.1 Phillip Lim.

The Surprise: In the financial district, the brand Hood by Air presented a collection with a fresh take on street-wear. Both menswear and womenswear were presented, with cutouts, black colour, fur and oversized pants as the main ingredients used in unexpected ways, ultimately generating a powerful collection.

Victoria Edman 
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Wolfgang Tillmans: Book for Architects

Wolfgang Tillmans’s installation Book for Architects (2014) is currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum for the first time since its debut at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. Over a period of ten years, Tillmans photographed buildings in thirty-seven countries on five continents to produce Book for Architects. The 450 photographs are presented in a site-specific, two-channel video installation projected onto perpendicular walls.

Book for Architects shows architecture through the eyes of the artist. Tillmans seeks to express the complexity, irrationality, madness, and beauty found in quotidian buildings, street patterns, and fragments of spaces. He achieves this from a technical standpoint by using standard lenses, which most closely approximate the perspective of the naked eye. Additionally, Tillmans designs the experience of the exhibition in the installation space itself—from the proximity and arrangement of the projected images to the seating, which is designed in a bleacher-like arrangement to enable a range of perspectives and views of the work. Through this cyclic series of photographs of largely anonymous building exteriors, interiors, city shots, and street views, Tillmans presents a personal portrait of contemporary architecture that will be familiar to everyone.

Images courtesy of Wolfgang Tillmans and the MET 
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Daily Tips: Art on the Runway

New York fashion week is well under its way, with dozens of presentations, shows and events happening each hour. Yet, as fashion takes over the Big Apple, it is already quite evident that only a few runway shows will leave a trace, for better or worse, after the spotlights have been turned off. Among those that will surely be remembered, is certainly Kanye West’s collaboration with adidas, not so much because of the clothes – a set of pieces that mix classic sportswear, all-spandex attire with rebellious teenage feel – but for its particular presentation, co-signed with Vanessa Beecroft. The runway was replaced by a performance space with models standing in neat rows, acting seemingly annoyed and rather unimpressed, while wearing West’s mix of flesh coloured leggings and tights, layered with underwear over the top, ripped up jumpers and utilitarian outerwear. The peculiarity of the presentation, though, was its impeccable casting – racially diverse and showing different body types – which subverted the usual rules of the fashion week. So, does fashion change only when art is thrown in the mix?

The Blogazine 
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Style Suggestions: Nine to Five Chic

Sway away from your repetitive work looks and spice up your 9-5 wardrobe with some chic essentials this season. Here are our picks!

Trench coat: A.P.C., Dress: Givenchy, Boots: Dries van Noten, Purse: Marni, Sunglasses: Stella McCartney

Styling by Vanessa Cocchiaro 

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Frederick Kiesler: Visions at Work

“Frederick Kiesler: Visions at Work Annotated by Céline Condorelli and Six Student Groups”, which opened on February 11th 2015 at Tensta konsthall, is the first exhibition in Sweden of Frederick Kiesler’s genuinely transdisciplinary work. Frederick Kiesler (1890–1965) was an architect, artist, scenographer, pedagogue, theorist and – not least – a groundbreaking exhibition designer. From the 1920′s constructivist-inspired theater exhibitions in Vienna and Paris and the early 1930′s acclaimed shop window presentations in New York City to the legendary scenography for Peggy Guggenheim’s Manhattan gallery Art of This Century (1942) and the collaboration with Marcel Duchamp, Kiesler paved the way for a dynamic view of the art experience.

Working with the monumental ‘The Shrine of the Book’ (1965) in Jerusalem, he extracted ideas and forms from his often reproduced ‘Endless House’, a visionary bio-morphic building where, to quote Kiesler himself, ‘all the ends meet’. Underlying much of Kiesler’s work were his thoughts on the continual interaction between man and his natural and technological environments, as defined in the theory of correalism. Although Kiesler was a member of de Stijl, a close friend and collaborator of Duchamp, André Breton, Alfred H. Barr and several other key figures in the art of the 1900′s, as well as an influential teacher at Columbia University in New York, he is something of an unknown.

The exhibition features models and documentations of Kiesler’s designs for exhibitions, buildings, interiors, shop-windows, etc. from various periods, while it also showcases prototypes, including those of his Mobile Home Library and the mass-produced so-called correalist furniture, among others. The focus will be on Kiesler’s interest in the intersection between art and life and how this manifests in his works.

Rujana Rebernjak – Images courtesy of Frederick Kiesler Foundation 
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Museum of Islamic Art in Doha: a Design Perspective

The Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) in Doha represents an accomplished balance between content and container. Inaugurated in 2008 and soon transformed into the most celebrated landmark of the Qatari capital, this ziggurat-like building of staggered cubes, designed by archistar I.M.Pei, ignores the megalomaniac ambitions of the overlooking skyscrapers and evokes, instead, a gentle, human-scaled dimension. Even its permanent collection shares the same values of prestige and accessibility, offering an instructive yet intriguing introduction to Islamic art for the numerous, unaware, Western visitors who see the museum for the first time.

Collected from Afghanistan to Spain, with a prevalence of pieces from Iran, Turkey, and Morocco, MIA gathers Islamic artworks dating from 7th to 19th century. The different artefact typologies correspond to the museum’s sections, which are divided between ceramics, metal works, textiles, patterns, astrolabes, and calligraphy, thus representing the major themes of this specific art tradition.

The museum experience, however, is not limited to the time spent admiring objects of extraordinary craftsmanship, incredibly elegant in their decorative synthesis. Instead, the shift toward a different cultural perspective soon becomes a subtle but significant invitation that involves design as a potential interlocutor. In the Islamic vision is there a line of demarcation between minor and major arts? Is function accepted as a legitimate prerogative of a piece of art? How can horror vacui and hyper decorativism coexist with a dry, sophisticated object?

From a Western point of view, thus, MIA’s collection soon becomes a matter of design. Not only it shares the same typological partition of similar institutions – is there a significant difference with, for example, Victoria and Albert Museum apart from the geographical origin of their pieces? –, but the graphic essence of its recurring patterns and types are a clear symptom of a project-oriented attitude. Thus, this legacy could be a significant inspiration for worldwide contemporary design. At a first hint, it could suggest us to re-dimension the primacy of “less is more”, highlighting on the contrary a historical perspective that has always given space, not only in the Middle East and bordering countries, to “the better and the more” as a compelling approach.

Giulia Zappa – Images courtesy of MIA – Museum of Islamic Art Doha 
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‏The Fine Line Between Fashion and Art

Elsa Schiaparelli‪,‬ the grand dame of fashion‪,‬ remains a significant fashion reference‪,‬ several years after her death‪.‬ She thought of fashion as an art form, and the paradox of combining her artistry with one of the strongest mechanisms of fashion, the never ending desire for something new, had a great impact on her design‪. ‏She was inspired by the impulses of surrealist fine art which dominated Paris during the inter-war years, and embraced those ideas in her pieces as a productive tool. She drew clear parallels between fashion and art, and questioned the fashion’s needed to be beautiful and, more importantly, what was considered as beauty.

Schiaparelli would once have said that: “In difficult times fashion is always outrageous”, a quote that the curator of the upcoming Schiaparelli exhibition in Stockholm seems to agree with. In a time when the world is very complex, it might be a logic consequence for fashion to becoming equally as complex, although it is never that easy or simple to explain why we are seeing certain influences in fashion, at a certain time. The reasons or influences behind a new trend or tendency are mostly a complex development in themselves, and that includes the comeback of surrealism. The newly returned interest for Schiaparelli’s work might therefore partly also grow from a reaction to the growing commercial impact on contemporary fashion, and therefore become a way of rebalancing the relationship between the creative process and economic profit. Through surrealism Schiaparelli explored fashion as a place of freedom and creativity. In the same time she had to consider another concrete difference between fashion and art, the fact that fashion for most part is made with the purpose of being worn. Even though a lot has happened since she was an active designer, the premisses which she explored in her design are mostly the same. The reason behind the huge recent interest for Schiaparelli is not just grounded in her iconic pieces, but in her unique approach to fashion and not at least in her own creativity.

‏Hanna Cronsjö 
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Daily Tips: The Gin Library

Have you ever wondered what were the evenings of jolly drinks and good friends like in Dickens’ era? How did that classic gin really taste those days? Well, the Charles Dickens Museum in London offers the fabulous opportunity to step back in time and behold the home Dickens once occupied as dusk settles on the city and dazzle our taste buds with expert gin tastings in the original Victorian kitchens. In fact, tucked away at n.48 Doughty Street, the museum’s original basement kitchens provide a unique setting for a truly Dickensian gin experience, with experts in artisan and small batch gin the London Gin Club offering the opportunity to taste a library of hand-picked gins they are passionate about. Maybe a past-fuelled hangover, might be a bit less tedious than your usual weekend sufferings.

The Blogazine 
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When Fashion Shows the Danger Then Fashion is The Danger

Bernhard Willhelm 3000 – When Fashion Shows the Danger Then Fashion is The Danger is an exhibition currently on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) in Los Angeles. It is artistic designer Bernhard Willhelm’s first time showing in an American museum. German born Bernhard Willhelm graduated from the Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts and presented his first collection in Paris in 1999. During the same year, he also founded his own fashion label with his partner Jutta Kraus after which his career has continued moving forward.

Willhelm has a talent for combining fashion design, visual art and social reflection all in one. As a designer, he is known to be conscious of what is happening around him and to critically reflect on this. The concept of fashion and art has long been debated. Fashion is often trivialized into a mere surface but exhibitions like Bernhard Willhelm 3000 showcase the complexity behind the surface by introducing a conversation between art and fashion in both a critical and intriguing way. In such displays art becomes more than just backdrop a frame, it becomes part of a wider context. In fact, a closer look at the title of this particular exhibition indicates an ambiguity of both talking about the general concept of “fashion”, but also the notion of fashion show as in runway shows, expresses the fact that fashion always needs a second glance.

The exhibition features sculptural installations, photography, video and other objects all selected and curated personally by Bernhard Willhelm, generating his unique point of view. His newest collection, referencing and discussing ecological disaster and climate change, is also to be presented as a part of the exhibition. In fact, Bernhard Willhelm sees this exhibition as : “a response to the uniformity of fashion in the 21st century and a forecast of the fashion experience in the 22nd century.”

Bernhard Willhelm 3000 – When Fashion Shows the Danger Then Fashion is The Danger is on display at MoCA in Los Angeles until the 17th of May 2015.

Victoria Edman – Images courtesy of MoCA 
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Timeless Histories: Turtlenecks

As usual, The Blogazine is glad to offer a public service announcement for anyone even remotely interested in fashion: turtlenecks are definitely back. Of course, this is not the first time we deal with the return of this classy item, but the 70s influence seems to be quite strong in 2015, hence the booming turtleneck upheaval.

While the very first prototype of a turtleneck has been used by soldiers during war, it has later been transformed by Queen Elizabeth I with starched ruffles, only later to be rediscovered under the name of Polo Necks. It was around 1860 when polo players from England started using them, soon followed by navy sailors, officers and menial workers, who adopted the garment as part of their everyday look.

During the last century, though, the high collar jumper turned into the symbol of intellectuals and artists, smoothing the way to early feminists, who, unassumingly, turned it into a real fashion trend. One of the most fashionable moment of the item, before Phoebe Philo brought it back with her 2012 campaign at Céline, is to be found in Funny Face, the cult movie about Richard Avedon, where a young and bright Audrey Hepburn matches a turtleneck with skinny black pants and ballerinas. That is surely one of those eternal moments in fashion: in fact, whether we should still see turtleneck in the future, or it will prove to be just a passing flare, it will remain an evergreen piece in that silly story that is fashion history.

Francesca Crippa 
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