Kym Ellery: The Source of Creativity is Hard to Find

Some people have it, others don’t. Creativity in general and fashion designing in particular is often considered a gift that you, if lucky enough, posses. On the other hand, it would be foolish to say that designing is not a skill that needs to be honed. It takes a lot more than pure talent to succeed in design, and creativity is a term hard to definethat comes in many different shapes and forms. Growing up in a home surrounded by art and with a mother who worked in textiles, printmaking and ceramic, the Australian designer Kym Ellery found creativity to be almost a natural talent. After completing a certificate of Fashion Design in Perth, Ellery took another step towards becoming who she is today when she moved to London to study Fashion Illustration and Sketchbook Building. Before founding her own brand, she worked at the Australian magazine Russh for over 4 years as a part of their creative team. Her avant-garde influences were translated to the pages of Russh magazine, as well as becoming an important source of inspiration when creating her collections for her own brand, Ellery.

For the brand’s Resort 2016 collection, Ellery is taking avant-garde to the everyday life by combining interesting and dramatic cuts with clean lines and a color scheme based on black, white, grey and beige, resulting in a collection that succeeds with the task of making avant-garde feel both wearable and comfortable. Ellery describes her brand and its journey so far by stating that it “used to be the one to watch but now is the one to want”, and it is hard not to agree with her when it continues to win new fans, including everyone from Madonna’s stylist to the global fashion press. Speculating about the reasons behind her great success is therefore tempting. We can settle with the fact that she has found and created her own design expression – a creative voice that also happens to be a universal language.

Hanna Cronsjö 
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Style Suggestions: At the Seaside

Knowing what to pack for the seaside is not always easy so here are some essentials that will get you started.

Shorts: Orlebar Brown, Flip Flops: Havaianas, Dive Mask: Liquid Image, Rackets: Frescobol Carioca, Body Balm: Aesop

Styling by Vanessa Cocchiaro 

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Art that Redeems Fashion (From Being Fashion)

The relationship between fashion and art is old and accounted for, and notwithstanding this, it always seems to be in need of further explanation. The ways in which this relationship has developed in history are diverse and well documented: the links between the designs ‘à l’oriental’ of Paul Poiret and the work of Leon Bakst for the Ballets Russes; Mademoiselle Coco Chanel and Jean Cocteau working together for his play Le Train Bleu; Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dali bringing surrealist symbols on clothes and accessories; Yves Saint Laurent paying an homage to De Stijl with his Mondrian Dress; Gianni Versace turning Warhol’s portrait of Marilyn Monroe into embroidery; Marc Jacobs teaming up with Stephen Sprouse to customize Louis Vuitton iconic bags and luggage sets, and so forth. This incomplete excursus is enough to prove that fashion has been influenced by art since almost forever, and all these examples are useful anytime we need to impress and confute someone who thinks fashion is superficial and futile, just a matter of rags.

By saying so, it seems clear that the relationship puts fashion in a conceptually subordinate position. This sort of dependence changes its form in the dimension of the art foundation. More and more big fashion houses, mostly European ones, are investing their capitals in art foundations: a tendency quite recent, but surely already a trend. To name a few, Fondation Cartier and Fondation Louis Vuitton in France are the majors – and surely not the only ones – while in Italy Prada, Trussardi, Ferragamo and Zegna are the most renown brands promoting art under their own name. The most interesting thing about foundations is that they have little to no links with the fashion brand they bear the name of. Fashion has always had problems dealing with the theme of identity – primarily, with its own hybrid identity, that of being a ‘creative industry’. Postmodernism fragmented culture, putting each of the ‘minor’ arts under its spotlight and giving dignity to each form of expression. Foundations refuse this postmodern precept by sharply dividing their ‘name’ – which is the name of the brand actually paying the bills – from the art they collect and showcase: they substitute the patrons of XVI century, but most of the time without even daring to ask to put their portrait inside the work they commission.

“The Fondation has given Cartier a positive image in the eyes of people who are not interested in jewellery or who would never in a thousand years wear a Cartier bijou. But now they look at Cartier more positively, with respect, and that’s exactly what I wanted.” The most resounding of the words used by Monsieur Perrin, founder of the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporaine which opened in 1984, is one and only: respect. Fashion needs art to be respected not only by the art world – notoriously a caste – but by people in general, whose education makes them distinguish the value of different forms of expression. The patronage fashion actuates seems to be just a way to redeem fashion from its status, and this opinion is motivated by the permanent collection of the foundations, which Jonathan Jones defined as ‘boring’, saying that ‘fashion houses merely follow art world’s tastes and add to corporate tedium’ in one of his articles published in The Guardian.

The support fashion gives to art and to artists – both well-known and newcomers – is mostly financial. It is not a matter of commissions, not at all a matter of collaboration. It seems another way to ennoble a name – to promote, aka to sell – hiding the practice producing the money which actually pays for the masterpieces. Rather than fulfilling its scope, this move does nothing but confirm the status of fashion as a money-making industry not conscious of its theoretical value; but above all, by just collecting and opening without links to the history and practice of the brand itself, they are not complicating the discourse between the two disciplines. Thus, they are losing the possibility to generate new and compelling ways to further their antique relationships.

Marta Franceschini 
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Chris Gelinas – The Art of Dress

The mastery of creating something that is both out of its time as well as being able to give material shape to quality and never-ending research for the new has always been a challenge for designers who plan to dominate the art of dress. New York based designer Chris Gelinas is on his way to achieve that.

n the hometown of designer Chris Gelinas – a small city outside of Windsor, Ontario – the fashionable aspect was meek. Gelinas spent his childhood in other countries, admiring different cultures and gaining a fascination with clothing and construction. Although he would go on to study business at the University of Windsor, he conducted an internship at
Marc Jacobs during his studies, nurturing his fashion interest. Gelinas spent several years at Marc Jacobs in both the PR and sales department, soon realizing he wanted to design. In 2009 Chris Gelinas left Marc Jacobs to acquire his associate degree from Parsons, which he received after three semesters, while simultaneously interning at Proenza Schouler.

Before starting his own label, Gelinas continued to work for prominent fashion houses such as Balenciaga and Theory under Olivier Theyskens, before founding his label CG Chris Gelinas. CG has an essence of American sportswear although focusing more on the construction and innovative textiles and has been entirely self-funded. The designer’s first collection included separates in techno fabrics, winning the MADE for Peroni Young Designer Award as the starting point in his rise to prominence in contemporary fashion world.

Gelinas’s aesthetic can be described as modern minimalistic vintage. Although these concepts might contradict each other, there is an essence of them in every collection. The innovation of creating new fabrics and letting them be the focal, point but at the same time remembering that it’s the woman wearing the pieces that is to be the real centre of each look point, are notion that runs through every Gelinas’ collection. He not only possesses ingenuity, but has also created pieces echoing something genuine that encompasses his fashion, alluding to the true art of dress.

Victoria Edman 
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“Shin Myeong”, Design at its Essence

To investigate the very essence of design is the ambitious objective that the Gwangju Design Biennale, taking place in Korea from October 8th to November 15th, has decided to pursue for its sixth edition. All but predictable, the answer is the kind of semantic trap that, due to its inconsistency, often leads to another round of open questions: what is design? How big is its area of applicability? Does design have a common background when cultural traditions are so different, which is the case of West and East identities?

Thus, it might be reassuring to discover that Kyung Ran Choi, general director of Gwangju Design 2015, refused to take responsibility for such an unequivocal answer and preferred to inflect this elusive meaning in nine different exhibitions that will explore the vitality of Korean design and its multiple relationships with global attitudes and voices from the design world.

In the meanwhile, the Triennale of Milano offers us a sneak peek with “Design ‘Shin Myeong – Korea’s Phantasma”, a showcase of fifty artists and designers, 25 Korean and 25 Italian, who have been called to reinterpret the decoration of the Celadon vases, a great classic of Korean traditional craftsmanship. These green, iconic artefacts, originally created in China but soon becoming very popular in Korea and Japan in the XII century, have been conceived for this occasion by Kajn Lee, a Korean design talent with a strong passion for ceramic. The work of the other fifty designers, then, has been limited to a thin yet subtle intervention: impress into the surface a decorative theme that should not alter the overall perception of the vase, confining self-expression into the boundary of a given form and colour. An effort, once again, which seems to question the nature of design – is this design or art? How are western designers influenced by the fact that the exhibition is a tribute to the Korean monumental park of Soswaewon, which dates back to the XVII century? – and leaves to visitors the chance to go beyond surface, enquiring the value of tradition and how it is constantly updated.

Giulia Zappa 
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Moholy Nagy: The Shape of Things to Come

As one of the most influential members of the legendary Bauhaus, László Moholy-Nagy (1895–1946) believed that the language of abstraction could affect a transcendence of the dystopic reality embodied by the two World Wars, in favour of a futuristic vision of the world made anew as “the shape of things to come.” The Santa Barbara Museum of Art traces the work of the late visionary precisely starting from his desire to shape a new, utopian world in an exhibition that focuses on little known paintings – “The Paintings of Moholy Nagy: The Shape of Things to Come”.

Painting, and not just the newer reproductive technologies of photography or film to which he is mostly linked, remained an important medium for the artist, as is explored in this exhibition of 33 works of art ranging in date from the 1920s to 1940s, including paintings, works on paper, photograms, video projections, and a facsimile replica of Moholy’s prescient Light Prop, one of the first kinetic sculptures of its kind. The captivating installation highlights the seamlessness with which Moholy moved between painting, photography, three-dimensional sculpture, and so-called light sculptures.

From a modern facsimile of Light Prop for an Electrical Stage, a project Moholy worked on obsessively, that is now recognized as a pioneering example of kinetic sculpture to painting-sculpture hybrids made of newly developed thermoplastics, made to activate the viewer and reveal new capacities of colour photographic reproduction, “The Paintings of Moholy Nagy: The Shape of Things to Come” offers a glimpse of Moholy’s prescient anticipation of a dystopic, technologically redefined world unmoored from nature that we, perhaps, live in today. The exhibition will remain on show until 27th September 2015 at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

The Blogazine – Images courtesy of Santa Barbara Museum of Art 
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Co: A True Los Angeles Success Story

New York is not the only fashion capital in the US any longer. Los Angeles has developed a fashion scene of its own and it is the one to count on. One example of a brand that has contributed to this development by creating their own reinterpretation of the effortless, yet chic Los Angles-style is the brand Co.

The two designers Stephanie Danan and Justin Kern, founded the label in 2011 and Co has since then grown rapidly and is currently being sold in stores all over the world. The name of the brand is a reflection of their creative partnership and aims to combine the worlds of fashion and film. Co also stands for the definition of their design philosophy, which is based on the idea of creating a line of luxury pieces characterized by strong silhouettes and qualitative fabrics. Every item is designed with the goal of redefining what’s considered as classic and, at the same time, push the limits to create wearable, long lived pieces.

Their clean approach can be seen as a combination between two strong design aesthetic references, the LA-signature style with its effortless look and the Scandinavian minimalism with its natural colour scheme and clean style, resulting in pieces that might not be the most innovative, but still exciting thanks to their unique detailing and strong cuts.

Hanna Cronsjö 
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With Elio Fiorucci, a Fashion Era Comes to a Close

This Monday in Milan, a particular epoch in the history of fashion, has come to a close with the death of Elio Fiorucci. As many sublime fashion personalities, Fiorucci was difficult to frame in a single box. Entrepreneur, retailer, innovator, social agitator, an overall flamboyant personality, Fiorucci has dedicated his life to a particular idea of how rules in fashion should be broken. More than with his designs – among which is of note his introduction of stretch jeans and over-the-top style – he set new boundaries for how fashion should be experienced and embraced in everyday life.

Elio Fiorucci was born in Milan in 1935 and took his first steps in the fashion world at his father’s store at the age of 17. Understanding, early on, that the main media of transforming the vision of designers into everyday life is retail space, Fiorucci opened his first store in Milan in the 1960s, translating the “swinging London” spirit to the capital of restrained fashion. Together with clothes – bold and audacious produced by labels that other Milanese stores probably wouldn’t have carried – his store sold equally appealing accessories, tea cups, key chains, or design pieces, while the interiors themselves were often designed by icons of design, such as Ettore Sottsass. Elio Fiorucci, who famously defined himself “a merchant, not a man of fashion” at the eve of the opening of his first New York store, invented a way of life, both in tune and well ahead of his time.

Speaking to the New York Times back in 2001, Marc Jacobs recalled Fiorucci’s influence: “When I was 15, instead of going to sleepaway camp I spent the whole summer hanging out in the store. I had this wide-eyed glamour about these beautiful young people that globetrotted from club to club dressing in these fabulous clothes. It was like a living, breathing fashion show that I wanted so much to be a part of.” Fiorucci’s particular ability to create an aura of desirable and appealing lifestyle came from his firm grasp of the power of communication, displayed through his uncompromising advertising, visual iconography and ingenious re-appropriation of cultural icons. As some of the greatest personalities of the world of art, design and popular culture – Andy Warhol, Antonio Lopez or Madonna – embraced the Fiorucci way of life, we were all transformed by his open and honest embrace of fashion as simply one of the pieces that serves to create a possible, imaginary world.

The Blogazine 
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New York Menswear Fashion Week SS/2016

Until this year, menswear fashion was forced to take the back seat during New York Fashion Week. From this season, though, it is back with a vengeance. Many different labels showcased a lot of creativity and pushed the boundaries for established menswear, while echoing the question: what can menswear bring to the table today in terms of colour, style and silhouettes?

Colour: Many colours – primary tones such as brown, army green and beige – were incorporated in many runways, remaining true to the notion that menswear is not thesite of consuming bright colours. Blue was, however, the most popular tone, mostly seen in a subdued navy, often layered in different shades too create depth in an otherwise monotone look. Perry Ellis and Tim Coppens have shown that this could be done by styling denim on denim or matching different blue stripes with each other or simply by layering different materials, as seen at Duckie Brown.

Style: At J. Lindeberg and Greg Lauren the stylistic influences of the old West were clear: wide brim hats, ponchos, denim and fringe jackets showed that the trick isn’t to look like an extra from a Clint Eastwood film, but to add an element of “western” to a modern more simplistic look, a twist on a classic, so to speak.

Silhouette: A nice suit never goes out of style, was Thom Browne’s boldest statement. The trend that seemed to be favored by New York designers was, nevertheless, a retro take on urban wear. High waisted pants with a tucked in T-shirt and short sleeved dress-shirt at Billy Reid reminded us of a 1940s look. At Todd Snyder, the old Hollywood glam of trench coats and minimalistic silhouettes was given a summer spin by pairing them both with open toe sandals.

Menswear is evolving and gaining momentum to incorporate ideas, concepts and inspirations outside of the traditional values, highlighting an eclectic view of men’s fashion as much as a minimalistic one. New York Menswear Fashion Week showcases precisely this approach by blurring the lines of what is considered classic menswear design.

Victoria Edman 
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Through the Lens of Thomas Prior

Thomas Prior’s photography could easily be described as effortless. In a series of images captured during his travels, Prior presents snapshots of landscapes, sceneries, events and people that seem as if we had seen them hundreds of times before. And yet, his attentive eye manages to transform what appears to be ordinary, normal or unremarkable in extraordinary narratives about our world. Here, a selection of photographs that range from blurry skies to human gestures, from urban landscapes to geometric grids, bring about his incredible capacity to tell stories through what most of us would often overlook.

Images courtesy of Thomas Prior 
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