serpentine gallery brings contemporary to ‘downtown beirut’
Through innovative art projects, the culturally rich and diverse history of Edgware Road will be told using a range of techniques such as recorded interviews, photos, performances and film.
Text MARIAM EL-BANNA Photography pg. 06 Left to right: FREE CINEMA SCHOOL 2009 NO.W.HERE WITH PEOPLE ON EDGWARE ROAD pg. 07 SERPENTINE GALLERY EDWARE ROAD PROJECT
The Centre for Possible Studies on Porchester Place is the project’s base. It will be where local residents and artists alike will collaborate in creating the various events that are taking place all year, following through to the summer of 2010. Local and international artists, residents, shopowners and visitors are working together in the London neighbourhood of Edgware Road as part of this Serpentine Gallery Project. The aim of the project is to use all four strands of the Serpentine Gallery – exhibition, architecture, education and public programmes – to bring about a broader scope of art to a community otherwise unaware. Sally Tallant, the project organiser says, “The Edgware Road Project is extremely important to us as it takes the best of contemporary art and offers it to people who may not normally come to the Serpentine Gallery.” So a little about Edgware Road itself. The facts, as well as Sally Tallant, state that the road is one of the oldest roads in Britain, dating as far back as the Roman times; like half of London. French Huguenots settled in the 18th
century and Arabic communities in the 19th. It even boasts London’s first Indian restaurant opening on the street in 1810 and Middle Eastern immigrants started putting down their roots in the 1970s, which brings us to a more modern overview of where Edgware Road actually sits. “Layers of immigration over the last 600 years means that it is one of the most ethnically varied areas of the capital”, and whilst most Londoners probably don’t see it as ‘varied’, the Edgware Road Project aims to pull apart those pre-conceived notions and open our eyes to the multi-cultural diversity. One of the main events of the project took place in early September, in the form of a series of short films put together through a culmination of workshops over the summer month of August. Entitled ‘Free Cinema’ the workshops were held with local and international artists and film-makers who mentored the local youth, and produced various short films that they felt artistically expressed how they saw Edgware Road.
The ‘Free Cinema’ was only one of the many events that plan to take placein 2009 and 2010, but is probably the best so far that expresses the true nature of the project. Getting local community involved rather than just thrusting ‘contemporary art’ in their faces is often a rather steady and wise approach. Altogether, the project will run for a mighty 18 months, which seems excessively long for any art event but claims to be building a long-term relationship between the Serpentine Gallery and community organisations, “in order to continue to deliver activities both at the Gallery and in the community after the project draws to a close.” However, there may be an air of scepticism to some. It is all well and good to churn out a project like this for one area, but does that inherently ignore other places? London is steeped in history with no doubt equally diverse roads and streets throughout the city, many places that would benefit from a project such as this. But at present the Serpentine Gallery has ‘no plans to roll out a similar project anywhere else’. It seems to be a project of geographical convenience.
The Edgware Road Project 14 Porchester Place, W2 2BS www.edgwareroad.org
house of blueeyes
‘Bringing Democracy to Fashion’ may be a big claim to some, but to Johnny, is only the start to a movement. Fashion Editor Kristin Knox sits with the brains behind this, stylist and Creative Director of the House of BlueEyes.
Text KRISTIN KNOX Photography NEDIM NAZERALI
How would you describe the House of BlueEyes, the energy and philosophy behind it? The House of BlueEyes brings together under one loving but fierce roof the worlds of fashion, art and music. It’s very much about these worlds colliding to create fantastical garments and jewellery, film, art pieces and performances. It’s very much about embracing life and creating our own little heaven of gorgeousness here on earth... and everyone is invited to our house! You said you nurtured the concept for the House of BlueEyes over the last ten years before launching in 2008, where did the concept initially originate? Can you tell us a little bit about this period of creative incubation and how things developed? It was actually over 15 years ago that the seed for the House of BlueEyes first burst its first teeny tiny green shoot in New York in 1993. I travelled to America to Vogue and was free... and spent the summer between New York and Provincetown (one of the oldest art communities in America). The House of BlueEyes is inspired by the fantastic and inspirational gay houses of New York, the House of LaBeija, Xtravaganza and Ninja mixed with the inspiration of Warhol and his silver factory aligned with the energy of 70s punk. It took me 15 years to bring together the incredible designers, artists and performers who are part of our family.
The House of BlueEyes, this idea of an artistic cooperative, flies in the face of both the art and fashion industries are all about: expression of a certain individual’s point of view. Obviously the House of BlueEyes is about creative and personal expression, but in a manner, which is more like a dialogue than a soliloquy, and you believe this to be the future of fashion. Why? Collaborating and working with others is not only incredibly fruitful and productive for the art that we make, but its also great fun. We are here to connect with others in this world. Every fashion house has a creative director and extremely talented people who work with them to produce the collection. The difference with the House of BlueEyes is that I want the full sun shining on all the designers that I work with... and that it is clearly known that they have made these beautiful pieces for the collections. You say high fashion as we know it, the ethos and energy behind it is a thing of the past. Why is that? When do you think the rest of the world will come to see it that way? Do you think they ever will? Why is this important to you? Let me make myself clear; high fashion is not a thing of the past– it is, and should be a reflection of our current time and of the future. What I do feel is of the past, is the idea of fashion being a
small, rarefied, impenetrable world that a huge part of the population cannot be a part of. This is so important to me because there are millions and millions of perfectly imperfect people in our world and the House of BlueEyes is about celebrating all of these people regardless of colour, size, sexuality and social status. We want everyone to enjoy the collections we produce and know that they are beautiful, fierce and inspiring. Your Autumn/Winter collection, with its vampires and ghouls, took the House to a place of darkness, while your Spring/ Summer “I Feel Love” collection was, with its bursts of gold sequin and disco-love sentiment, was the complete opposite. Was this a response to what’s transpired in the world in the last six months or part of a larger story the House of BlueEyes would like to tell? Where are we going for Autumn/Winter 2010? The first points of reference for the inspirations of all my collections are music and film. For AW09 (“Don’t Be Afraid of the Darkness Within”), this was inspired by the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” and also classic Hammer House films from
the 60s and 70s. Whilst our SS10 (“I Feel Love”) was inspired by Donna Summers “I Feel Love” meets Moloko’s “Sing it Back.” Thinking about this question I’m conscious of our world being in a place of despair, we are at war, there’s a worldwide recession and all of us have to deal with many irritations on a day-to-day basis of just existing. What we’re bringing with “I Feel love” is just the pure and utter joy of living and celebrating this beautiful world that we live in, rocking the most beautiful, gold gorgeousness and dancing all night long to the most uplifting and fiercest disco.... isn’t that just what the world needs right now? You were one of the first to put models of varying sizes on the runway, what was the response like? Do you think the fact that others, such as Giles Deacon, have followed in your footsteps means that the fashion world is really evolving and breaking away from being the prerogative of, as you say, “skinny, white, girls,” or is this merely a trend which will too pass in time? As I said before, we’re all perfectly imperfect. I reject the idea of being forced to receive images
of young, thin, mostly pale-skinned people as an “ideal form” from not only fashion shows but also from the internet, TV magazines etc. We all come in different colours, sizes and sexualities. We all want and need different things, what we have done with the House of BlueEyes fashion shows is celebrate this difference by the models we use on the runway. I think it’s wonderful that Giles Deacon and Mark Fast have used models of different size for his show and I hope this is a move towards celebrating our differences. Is there anyone in particular you would really like to bring into the House of BlueEyes to work with? Or another dimension you see coming into the mix in the near future? The House of BlueEyes is always excited about forging new relationships. For our last show (“I Feel Love”), we collaborated with S.O.S Mark on the iconic “golden shoe,” this is the first time there have been special shoes made for a collection. There is always a free peg on our Pegasus coat rack for a new designer to be part of our world. I also write and direct a short film to accompany each collection (working with Shoreditch-based production company Upset TV)
to show the energy of what the collection is about. I’m currently finishing the edit on ‘I Feel Love’. I definitely see the House of BlueEyes moving into more film based work and also more live performance to accompany the fashion collection. Since Sketchbook is a magazine celebrating the relationship between art and fashion, can you give me your thoughts on this dynamic? Why are the two so intricately bound up with one another and how does this facilitate the enrichment of our understanding of the world? Of beauty? All creative worlds collide and inspire each other, so, Sketchbook, let’s carry on inspiring and being inspired! If there was one thing you could say to all those who don’t feel the love, who don’t quite get you or the House of BlueEyes and its message, what would it be? I’m going to say 2 things if you dont mind... 1. Fall in love with yourself. In falling in love with yourself you are able to fall in love with others and understand and appreciate the magical differences in ourselves. 2. Love+art+freedom=heaven on earth
The House of BlueEyes Creative Director/ Print JOHNNY BLUE EYES Womenswear GILES PEARSON Knitwear MR. WEBSTER Bodywear/swimwear SIAN THOMAS Illustration/print BERT GILBERT Fine Jewellery CAROL WISEMAN Leather accessories/Jewellery FIONA DEFFENBAUGH Accessories/millinery LOREN WOOD Accessories SUZANNE BIERNE House of BlueEyes will be presenting its A/W 2010 collection during London Fashion Week as part of Vauxhall Fashion Scout on Saturday 20th February 2010
Photography OLIVIA MORRISON
Photography LINDA SAGUM
falling up Photography ELIAS WESSEL Digital Technician SARIA ATIYE Stylist PRISCILLA POLLEY Photo Assistant CARLOS GUZMAN Hair YOICHI TOMIZAWA Make Up ASAMI MATSUDA Manicure RICA ROMAIN Production, Art Direction, Retouching ELIAS WESSEL STUDIO Model ZENIA SEVASTYANOVA @MAJOR MODEL MANAGEMENT
abu dhabi arts fair
I’m staring down at a pair of wide-legged washed out distressed denim jeans lying against the corner of a wall, set in - I must add - a very compromising position. But what captures my curiosity isn’t so much the position it’s in as what’s in it. Not a 5 ft 10 rail-thin Anja Rubik look-alike or mannequin, but actual grey silvery cement. Text LUMA BASHMI SIOBHAN LEDDY Photography LUMA BASHMI Captions Left to right STEEL AND MESH FLOWER INSTALLATION BY KEITH HARRING AT LIO MALCO GALLERY (NEW YORK) ALEXANDER CALDER’S ‘PORTRAIT OF EDOUARD PENKALA’ FROM RICHARD GRAY GALLERY
The subject in question is not part of a Matches boutique window display but in all actuality, one of the art pieces going for sale in one of the gallery spaces at the 2009 Frieze Art Fair in Regent’s Park. Fast forward 5,467 kilometres and 32 days later and you find me staring at the same pair of jeans, albeit it being on a mannequin, but nonetheless. This time, at the Abu Dhabi Arts Fair – and the real life wax figures, popularised in the contemporary art scene across Europe, has now made its way to Cuadro, one of Dubai’s more prominent galleries. When asked to pinpoint the arts centre of the Middle East, most people would opt for the United Arab Emirates, and more specifically, Dubai. As the commercial and economic nucleus of the region, the city has seen a massive influx of galleries and has played host to a vast art fair. Art Dubai has been present for the previous four years but has yet to steal the limelight against other fairs in the country, such as the more internationally esteemed Sharjah Biennial. But as the art world begins to tire of Dubai’s all-too-fastpaced development, is this now set to change? Abu Dhabi is aspiring to place itself at the forefront of art in the Middle East, like a quirkier offshoot from its more commercial neighbour. The city has already been making strides in the past few years towards its ambitious plans for cultural development; with its own version of the Louvre and Guggenheim galleries scheduled for 2012, and the recent opening of New York University Abu Dhabi and Paris-Sorbonne University, this fledgling cultural centre is set for growth. It’s with this cultural backdrop that saw the hosting of November’s Abu Dhabi Art, the city’s international art fair and as some art
critics called it the region’s real answer to the Frieze Art Fair. In many ways the show acts as a demonstration of the region’s cultural aspirations, and seems to follow the same blueprint as other international and commercial art fairs like Frieze and Basel, although is undoubtedly less well known. Another key difference, and one that sets it aside from its cousin in Dubai, is that it’s entirely government-run and funded. This is the first year that the fair has been up and running without assistance from Paris, and the move to keep the fair public is likely to be a further attempt to assert Abu Dhabi’s cultural identity. Abu Dhabi Art saw appearances from some galleries of incredible calibre. London-based Iranian & Middle Eastern specialist Xerxes had its own stall, as did White Cube, Paradise Row and the Berlin gallery Galerie Caprice Horn. From the other side of the Atlantic, the fair hosted L&M Arts, Richard Gray Gallery, PaceWildenstein and of course, Gagosian Gallery, whose collections include giants Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollock and Willem De Kooning. Zurich-based galleries also seemed to pull in some brilliant stuff. Galerie Gmurzynska specialises in Russian avant-garde work, but chose to bring a varied selection of works to the fair: among them an excellent architectural car courtesy of Zaha Hadid. We also loved Hauser & Wirth, whose mixed bag of treats included Louise Bourgeois, Roni Horn, Indian contemporary artist Subodh Gupta and Gerhard Richter. Not to be outshone, the presence and support of Middle Eastern galleries was three-fold. In the front line were Dubai-based galleries The Third Line and Caudro, Syrian-based Atassi Gallery and non-profit organisations Darat Al-Funun,
Townhouse Gallery and Al-Ma’amal Foundation. The event was truly international in spirit, and attracted the usual celebrities from the art & fashion circuit. Jeff Koons, Chairman & CEO of PPR Francois Pinault and the critic/broadcaster Tim Marlow were both spotted throughout the weekend, and Jay Jopling was seen offering support to his very own White Cube stall. Despite the recent economic gloom and doom, as with other fairs, pieces are once again fetching big sums: Thaddeus Ropec sold a mixed-media work by Farhard Moshiri for $180,000 and Leila Taghina-Milani Heller sold a sculpture by Iranian artist Parvis Tanavoli for an astronomical sum, cited at over $100,000. By far one of the highest sellers though, was a Roni Horn sculpture for over $1 million. The art business still has life in her yet, in Abu Dhabi at least.
Captions pg. 26 Top to bottom ‘THE MACHINERY’ BY MOUNIR FATMI AT PARADISE ROW GALLERY (LONDON/ISTANBUL) FARHAD MOSHIRI’S ‘NEVER’ AT GALERIE THDDEUS ROPAC MAARTEN BAAS’ LIVE ANALOG DIGITAL CLOCK AT THE DESIGN STUDIO pg. 27 ALI ADJALLI’S ‘LOVE IS MANY COLOURED’ AT XERXES ART (LONDON)
Here we give an overview of the different elements that were showcased: DESIGN STUDIO The fair ran in parallel to a series of design workshops at the design studio, which served to add a sense of involvement in the creative process. Participation is often lacking in other art fairs, and it was refreshing to see. Designers involved included Czech designer Sevil Peach. MIDDLE EASTERN PLATFORM The Middle Eastern Platform was one of the most unique features of the fair, contributed to by four non-profit organisations: Al Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art in Jerusalem, Darat al Funun in Amman, the Townhouse Gallery in Cairo and the Abu Dhabi-based Bidoun Library and Project Space. Each of these has established themselves as a strong creative force in the region, and aim to promote their cities as centres for contemporary art practice. LIVE INSTALLATIONS The work from the design studio also spilled over into two live design performances. The first, an analogue/digital clock by Dutch designer Maarten Baas, also voted Designer of the Year at Design Miami 2009, took its inspiration from new technologies that make it possible to record films of up to 24 hours in length. Baas recorded the passing of time on film whilst painting by hand giant LED-style numbers, using black paint to either reveal or hide the ‘light’ shining through from behind. The second installation was by British designer Max Lamb. The natural world is Lamb’s muse, and
this occasion was no different. After sculpting a mould directly into the sand on nearby beaches, Lamb pours molten pewter in. The sand is later dug away, revealing a pewter stool that displays the texture and character of the sand. This ensures no two stools are the same, acting as a remedy to the ubiquity of mass-produced commodities today. PANEL DISCUSSIONS For those wishing to rest their weary feet, a series of panel discussions provided some food for thought. A special New York University lecture saw appearances from American art dealer and owner of the Gagosian galleries Larry Gagosian, Iranian industrialist and collector Farhad Farjam and director of the Qatar Museums Authority §Also of interest was a debate discussing the role of art in the Middle East, including Jack Persekian, Suha Shoman, William Wells and super-curator Hans Ulrich Obrist. The discussion ‘Big and Little’, moderated by The Design Museum London Director Deyan Sudjic, saw Maarten Baas and Max Lamb go head-tohead about their cultural influences with emerging Middle Eastern designers Ahmad Angawi, Younes Duret, Neda Al Asmar and Reem Al Ghaith. ‘THE MAKING OF THE GUGGENHEIM’ The opening of the new Guggenheim is big news for Abu Dhabi, and like its New York predecessor, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will no doubt house an incredible collection in a distinctive and offbeat building designed by Frank O. Gehry. In celebration of this, a new exhibition titled ‘The Making of the Guggenheim’ looks at the foundations of the museum. Running until
February 2010, the exhibition includes fifty works from the collection, tracing a history of both the Guggenheim and Western artists that rebelled against the idea of traditional representation. It views as an art chronology, and features works by Cezanne and Kandinsky, right the way through to the painterly explosions of Jackson Pollock.
Illustration ROGER DANIEL
pelayo diaz: a fashion prodigy
It may be a dreary winter’s day but as you walk into Pelayo Diaz Zapico’s flat in the heart of London’s trendy Shoreditch, which he shares with fellow style-setter Gala Gonzalez, it’s hard to worry about the outside. As soon as you walk into his flat the first thing you see is the quirky vintage looking wallpaper; surely a reflection of the occupant’s own quirky personalities, which Pelayo said was what made him want to take the flat in the first place.
Text RUSSELL ARKINSTALL Photography CJ CLARKE
Diaz arrives after having run out quickly to go pick up some more t-shirts after being overwhelmed with more orders for his customised safety pin DIY tees. He says how he has a t-shirt to make for Rihanna by the end of the night and it is easy to forget that he is still a student at Central Saint Martin’s with his eventful lifestyle. A t-shirt Diaz is already halfway through making is laid out on his bed and it’s clear Pelayo might have a late night ahead. Pelayo manages to remain effortlessly cool in his non statement attire yet it is hard not to be struck by his Dominic Jones ring and the initial P displayed on his t-shirt which he matches with some failsafe black slim jeans, and his numerous tattoos on show. The key for success can be seen on his arm and from meeting the great Pelayo Diaz, his tattoo needs no further explaining as Pelayo
Diaz has already gained worldwide recognition for his blog Kate Loves Me and unique sense of style. Blogging may be his forte and Diaz may be most established in the fashion world for it but surprisingly he notes, “I don’t really follow blogs. I don’t even have internet access in my house and so that’s like a safety net as I don’t want to fall into this internet and blogging”. Instead his inspiration comes from the sum total of the things that have happened in his life so far and his experiences, including the influential people that he has met that have provided a stimulus for his own fashion and style. It’s a testament to Diaz’s own unique mien, which he has previously described as a bit of a goth 50’s pimp with L.A touches, that his love for people allows them to influence his love for fashion. “New people really fascinate me. Whenever I
‘New people really fascinate me. Whenever I meet someone and they are exciting, I really get into their lives and what they do’
meet someone and they are exciting I really get into their lives and what they do. Finding new people for me is really the most exciting thing you can do”. Pelayo’s honesty about his inspirations is refreshing. He says, “having a real style is about being comfortable with yourself and not necessarily making a statement everyday as you are making it to yourself not to other people”, and he manages to come across as honest and sincere without sounding stale with the common use of the saying that it is important to be true to yourself. “Sometimes I flick through a men’s magazine and think ‘Is that styling? It’s all about wearing things that inspire you. Because at the end of the day it’s a piece of cloth with a label on it, it doesn’t really matter if it’s Dior or Gucci”. Then, of course, when talking about Diaz’s own style, it would be impossible for Pelayo’s muse and BFF, Gala Gonzalez to not pop into conversation. A chance second encounter sealed the friendship of these two chic citizens and Diaz brought back thoughts of when the two first met. “We met when we were both living in Spain. We were in a party and she was working with some friends of hers in MTV and she was interviewing people and came to interview me. And then like a year and a half later we meet in St Martin’s and we didn’t recognise each other but we started hanging out. One night we went out she was showing me pictures on her phone and I was like ‘I was at that party’ and she was like ‘I was interviewing people there’ and I was like ‘I was interviewed by a girl’ and she was like ‘It was me!’”. Diaz puts fate down to the two bloggers finding their way back to each other and describes how when it comes to Gala he cannot help but let his maternal instincts emerge. “Every time she’s in a magazine I run like a mother to buy it”, and it is clear they both have a huge amount of support for each others’ success which is sure to only grow.
However the glare of the media spotlight seems a million miles removed from Diaz’s time spent growing up in Oviedo in the North of Spain which, even at 16, was too small for the adventurous teenager. “It is really classic and beautiful but boring as hell. There is so much negativity around and it is really not a great place to grow up. So I always knew that I wanted to leave and that I wanted to go to either Barcelona or Madrid or the further the better”. He says that even at a very young age London was calling. First impressions do seem to apply; he recalls his first visit to London and reveals that is when he fell in love with the city and its contrasting culture to Oviedo. You have to love Pelayo for his liberal London attitude to life in comparison to growing up in a very insular city in Spain. “Here you have people from all over the world and that makes you realise how important it is to be in touch with other people and you realise that some people are really trapped in their cultures.” Diaz may have adopted London as his new country but as he had only just recently returned from a visit to Spain, I ask him what he misses from back home. “Obviously it is really good to eat food that your grandma cooks and hang out with your sister and it’s natural and you need to do that if you can. I live so close and it is only a two hour flight so I really don’t have an excuse to not go. But when I go I see everything’s the same and nothing’s changed so it’s a bit sad as well.” Pelayo’s first experience of London was on a day not so different to this oppressively typical day in November. Both his parents came with him to London to try and help Pelayo get a flat, but as non-English speakers Pelayo recalls the experience as ‘hopeless’. He went on to explain how he stayed in a hostel while trying to find
his first place in London. “Looking back it was quite adventurous”, he says, “it was November and it was so cold and so dark and I was not used to that. At the beginning I didn’t like it”. But he was quick to add “When Spring started I was like ‘Yeah I have my place, I love London, everyone’s so different and there are no rules’”. I asked Pelayo what his tattoos say about him. “My first one was the star in Barcelona. Then I had a diamond. Then I had my sister’s name put above the star. And then I had ‘young’ when I turned 22”. He says that was to remind him to always be young; he has come to realise that people grow up too fast in London. As for the others, he continues, “I have ‘fuerza’ and ‘valor’, which means strength and courage on my knees”. It is clear that the physicality of his tattoos is not as important to Pelayo as the meaning behind them. “Tattoos were always supposed to mean something painful and sad, like when people got it done in the army or the navy it was always to remember something painful. I also hate it when people are like ‘Did it hurt?’ and I’m like ‘Yeah, it’s a fucking needle in your arm, of course it’s painful’ but you know it’s part of it, you have to suffer a little bit and that’s the beauty of it”. Diaz does not try to conceal the fact that he has lots of ideas for future tattoos and said how he would like to get his parents names in saints at some point. “I think it’s really funny to play with religion”, he jokes and went on to say how crosses have always been present in his life and how he is happy to be recognised for his distinctive tattoos. “I think people need to believe in something. I believe in myself and I know I’m going to do well and I think some people need to think something is watching over them and I respect that.” When I asked Pelayo why he decided to start a blog he went on to describe how originally he used it as a method to show his friends back in Spain what he was doing in London. “I started a thing called Fotolog where you are able to upload a picture a day. After that I started with a blog three years ago as I like writing a lot and putting my point across”. He said it wasn’t long before he began to notice the hits to his blog and how it was no longer under the radar, “There were 4000 a day, I was like ‘Those are not my friends!’. So sadly you know you have to start changing the content and being careful about what you write as some people might get hurt or you might be messing with the wrong person. But before, I mean you couldn’t read it as it was in Spanish, but it was very full on and I don’t give a fuck about anyone.” But don’t expect Diaz to be known merely as a fashion blogger. “Fashion is one of my passions and that’s why I reflect that on the blog but it’s not 100 per cent what I want to show. I just want to show that I’m really excited about the life that I have. I think it’s amazing to explore new countries and explore new cultures. I think that’s what everyone should do; I don’t think people should be born and die in the same place.”
Pelayo’s love for London is a side of himself he is not afraid to reveal, “I don’t want to go to Paris or anywhere, I want to work in London as I want my style to be very London and I don’t care about Paris or any of those places you’re supposed to go when you’re an intern”. He goes on to name Christopher Kane as one of his favourite London based IT designers and says, “I want to be part of London. Now my ambitions are growing and I want to get out there and have my name”. Diaz names Givenchy and Alexander McQueen as just two of the brands he would love to collaborate with, but still puts Kane on the top of his list. Diaz does not try to hide his happiness on living in London and his hopes to influence it, particularly its style. London and Central Saint Martin’s should feel happy to have him here as after spending only an afternoon with the young,
friendly and multi-talented Diaz it is clear to see that it is not only Kate who loves him but we do too. This is one fashion blogger/designer/innovator/ IT-boy (if there ever were such a thing) who not only has his head screwed on right, but soon Prince Pelayo could become known as King Pelayo for his adept knowledge of fashion and opinionated outlook on the industry; with an eye for the unique and simple yet innovative in a saturated, competitive market that is the fashion world. www.katelovesme.net
Illustration SUSAN KEYS
prince pelayo & gala gonzalez
no longer the new girl in town
Author of blog Style Rookie, Tavi Gevinson, talks to writer Russell Arkinstall, about life as a student getting detention, pinning clothes and Mary Poppins. Oh, and a little bit of conversation about blogging too.
Text RUSSELL ARKINSTALL Illustration SERENE KHAN
To some, she’s already been labelled as the next in line to follow Anna Wintour, and a sort of digital media child star who has transformed into a print sensation after gracing the cover of POP’s comeback issue and being buddies with the Mulleavy sisters, designers of Rodarte. Calling her fashion’s latest prodigy wouldn’t be a far cry, except that Tavi does not like the word ‘prodigy’. In fact, skyping with the teenager after a typical day at school, cut out at the use of the word ‘prodigy’ which Tavi blamed on the use of the word, “I don’t love that word. It’s not like I have reporters at my door but with fashion week it was weird how demanding people were about answering questions. Why would you ask someone if they think they’re a child star, like what am I going to say, ‘Yep, I’m a prodigy!” One thing Tavi seems more than happy to clear up are some of the rumours surrounding herself and her hugely hyped and speculatedabout blog, Style Rookie, where she said, “I’m not very good at checking my email, I mean I’m good at checking it, but I’m not actually good at responding! I check it compulsively but I also avoid it like the plague! I think maybe some people think there is some sort of big operation here and I’ll have all these agents who will reply straight away or an assistant or something”. Tavi, who lives in one of Chicago’s many suburbs, added that it is nothing like living in a house picked straight out from Stepford. “A lot of people for some reason think that I live in Manhattan but I think if I lived in New York I would probably be more of a snob. And I’m already enough of a snob. Just saying that you’re interested in fashion to anyone that sort of does not care, sounds sort of snobbish as people think of The Devil Wears Prada and Project Runway and of clothes that cost way too much and that’s not what interests me.”
She may be best known for her loud and unique style, like wearing odd socks with a vintage dress and belt, Comme des Garcons shirt and DIY’d headpiece constructed from amongst other things, an old H&M bag she already had and a lace doily from Norway. However, Tavi Gevinson is not afraid to admit that she is actually the quiet girl at school. Well, perhaps not that quiet as she did get detention at school today, “Yesterday my friend and I asked to work in the hall and one of the other classes had to perform these songs, so we snuck in and hid under the teacher’s desk to watch our friends. I don’t think it’s a contradiction to have a really loud style but to be shy and quiet,” she told me, “I’m quiet at school and don’t really bother anyone so I don’t see why some people like to bother me”. Tavi was quick to shrug off whether many people bother her at school as she knows that she will not remember much of school once she’s older. With a t-shirt line and freelance work for POP already behind her, a school education seems to be only a side priority, but this is one thing that Tavi is certain she does want to achieve in her life. “I’m excited for high school because ours is so big and the building makes me feel like I’m in a Wes Anderson movie”, the movie maker of classics like Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums. Tavi also admits to not having as many friends who are as immersed in the fashion scene as she is, “Once I get to high school, I will probably”. But she also knows that her fellow fashionistas are not too far away, “When I go to our local bookstore and all the new issues of Lula and other magazines are out and then I go a few weeks later and there is like one issue left’ I’m like ‘Who here is buying this!’ I love Lula; it’s one of those few magazines that when I look through it, my heart starts beating so fast and I just want my own magazine.”
Tavi is quick to establish that she is just a girl with an eye for fashion and a quirky personality. However, whether Tavi likes being called a prodigy or not and whether you agree with her outlandish outfits and unique style, there is no denying the fact that Tavi’s drive and passion for fashion is fascinating and made me question my own ‘love’ for fashion. Ms. Gevinson’s interest in fashion can even be seen in her schoolwork where she even manages to work in a replica of a Jeff Koons dog and pieces from the Alexander McQueen S/S 09 collection into an art project when requested to make a section of a dollhouse. Minimalism is not the Tavi way as can be seen from her many outfits which is where it all began for Tavi; the beginnings of uploading pictures of her dressing up sessions onto her blog are a testament to this. Tavi is already an inspiration but it is the time and effort put into what she decides to wear on a daily basis that should really be an inspiration to most. “An outfit I actually like and does make me feel good takes such a long time because I like layers and a lot of accessories and maximalism. If I want to like it down to every detail it does not take 10 minutes”. It is certainly nice to hear that this sort of thing does not come naturally to anyone, not even Tavi. “I don’t get why people think it is so cool that they can put something on in five minutes. I don’t get what the shame is. I mean you can have a natural eye for something but to take a long time, to care about the details and to be really excited about what you’re wearing, it just shows that you care more and that you love fashion”. Tavi is certainly no stranger to pinning clothes and joked, “My Luella jacket is pretty huge on me and it’s supposed to be cropped - kind of a fail!” Perhaps more surprisingly was the revelation that she had not actually been shopping in a while. The teenager shares the same problem most girls her age have: a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear. Although perhaps in Tavi’s case, a floor of clothes and nothing to wear: “Honestly I have baskets all over the house full of my clothes and I have a closet. I have not been able to feel my floor for months because my bed is an island
in a sea of clothes. So I don’t need any more but I still feel like I do”. Tavi’s love for vintage and thrifted finds is certainly not news to her many blog followers, “I want new clothes so I have something new to mess around with and it would be stupid to spend so much money on something like that. I know I will always love fashion so any clothes I buy I’ll like my whole life, even if I don’t always love fashion I’ll always love clothes”. Tavi also pays tribute to reclusive author/ American literary giant as her point of inspiration. “Even if one day I decide to go all J. D. Salinger on everyone and just hide away somewhere I’ll still love clothes and still love getting dressed”. Comme Des Garcon has a particularly special place in Tavi’s fashion heart where she said, “There’s this video from I think S/S 95; it is so so beautiful and after I watched it, I was like I want to just live in a hole and I’m not going to buy anything except thrift and Comme Des Garcon.” But it’s not all about fashion for Tavi. She still loves hanging out with her friends, reading, watching Freaks and Geeks and her addiction to films is almost as strong as her constant need to find her fix for clothes. She says of her love for films, “If I don’t watch some of my movies somewhat frequently it’s like whenever I do watch them it’s overwhelming as I guess you get used to them. I’m nostalgic for pretty much everything”. She names Mary Poppins as one of her all time favourites among other musical classics, and says she would love to play Mary Poppins if she could play any character in a film. As fascinating as it is to hear about Tavi’s life, it is hard for the conversation not to eventually swing around to the subject of blogging. However, maybe it is important to take a step back and look at some of the other reasons for Tavi’s rise to online and international fame. The economic downturn has seen an increase in designers taking a few tips from the regular fashion folk with more shows full of altered garments and tweaked old clothes and Tavi is just one of thousands who have jumped on the DIY band wagon. Tavi also grew up where the digital age and social networking sites were already at their peak and fashion blogs were the new fashion bibles. Tavi has said before that she often gets emails from people saying she reminds them a lot of people at her age, except for the fact that she grew up in the Internet age. The possibilities that come with the Internet, a digital camera and a blog are endless and no better explored than by Tavi on Style Rookie.
“I don’t get why people think it is so cool that they can put something on in five minutes. I don’t get what the shame is. I mean you can have a natural eye for something but to take a long time, to care about the details and to be really excited about what you’re wearing, it just shows that you care more and that you love fashion”.
“It’s weird but it’s not like I wake up and look in the mirror and go ‘Hello stylie rookie, you look good today!’ At some point I thought it would be fun to create some sort of character but I’m still kind of a different person from the person on the blog - but I don’t think I could create a whole other character because it wouldn’t really be organic. So I try to be as much myself as I can without going crazy and eventually hating myself,” she says, while still not denying that her rise to internet stardom has still taken some getting used to, “It is still weird but I’m not going to get used to it because it will be done at some point. Eventually I won’t be news and that’s fine because really from the beginning it was just about clothes and fun and never about ‘Let’s start a blog and be internet famous’. No one can take away the fun that I have with clothing. It’s not about attention but I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t want any readers as otherwise I would have made it a private blog. Someone has to have nothing better to do than to read it and I like being part of the blogging community. I like it when I write something that gets posts that’s not just about an outfit and hearing what people have to say about it. I was not the first young blogger and I am fully aware that my blog would not have blown up if I was older.” Tavi may or may not be aware that she has definitely made more than a scratch to the surface of fashion blogging for bloggers and lovers of fashion, opening up the doors for all regardless of age or background. The future for Tavi is certainly bright and while the fashion bigwig’s sitting front row at fashion week, we’ll be waiting to see what Tavi does next, she instead claimed not to write her off as a future designer just yet. “I’d like to study maybe art history or maybe journalism. I’m not sure. I don’t want to be a designer. I feel like if you want to be a designer you know it; I mean there are a billion things I want to do. To be a designer it takes so much time and so much devotion and I think if I don’t want to make that sort of commitment then I guess I’m not passionate enough about designing specifically, plus I’d like to write more. Writing a book would put me under that child star category and I’m already bothered whenever that comes up. Miley Cyrus wrote an auto-biography called ‘Many miles to go’ and I was like, if you have many miles to go why are you writing a book! And I mean it’s the same with me, I don’t think I’m interesting or special enough to write a book about my life, plus I think what I do like to write about is perfect for a blog”. As an avid follower of her blog, it was nice to see that she certainly did live up to the clever, witty and funny online persona I had come to know. Oh and by the way, Tavi’s only thirteen. But you didn’t need to know that. www.tavi-thenewgirlintown.blogspot.com
luella tea party Illustration SARAH USHURHE
rankin the stylist
Thursday night saw a mass migration of the fashion flock to Brick Lane so as to pay homage (and many a toast to) to lord of the nude and Dazed and Confused co-founder, Rankin, at the bash kicking off his retrospective at the Truman Brewery. Amongst those in attendance included Erin O’Connor and Jaime Winstone.
Text KRISTEN KNOX Photography DONYA TODD
True to Rankin form, the evening was less about the art, and more about the oodles of fabulous flesh on display. Despite the fact that the cavernous labyrinth of a space (whose lofty enormity rivals that of a downtown NYC Apple Store) boasted an army of perfect naked bodies, some high res close ups of NC17 organs and entire rooms dedicated to Courtney Love, Kate Moss and Heidi Klum, after guests had had their fill of gazing at boobs in designer heels and snapping photos of themselves in the “Rankomatik” photo booth, the real party quickly congealed round the bar, lounge area and outdoor smoking space. The night truly smacked of Rank.
Speaking of smacking and Rankin, I myself had a close (albeit drunken) encounter with the legend himself. My camera and I had spent the better part of the night in search of a “quick Rank,” as giant words printed on a fall facing the entrance offered. But every time I almost had him, I would lose him behind a bright red lipsticked bird sucking banana print or to the double-kiss of some model with her clothes actually on. When I had my best chance as yet to actually swoop, I was intercepted by an event snapper wanting to take my lowly picture and he disappeared behind the velvet ropes of the upstairs VIP section, where, I presumed, he was welcomed into the waiting ranks of his nude model minions...forever lost to me.
Resigning myself, my companion and I pushed our way outside to join the rest of the gallery-goers who had forsaken the photography in order to further advance the onset of lung cancer. We climbed to the top of this rickety little fire-escape staircase, sipping on red wine and surveying the progressively more and more randy crowd below when, suddenly, the door against which I was leaning flew violently open, sending a fountain of red wine down my white dress.
Just as I turned to unleash my Ranky-cranky fury, whose disheveled, blurry-eyed face should I find slurring an apology of sorts as he fumbled to join mouth to cigarette and cigarette to lighter? I of course immediately accepted his apology (as the crowd below began to chant “Rannn-kin, Rannn-kin!” upon spotting him) in exchange for a photo op. Master obliged apprentice and I ended up getting my quick Rank after all.
showstudio: participation not observation
Without a doubt fashion attracts its fair share of criticism whilst the unique characteristics of the industry are rarely applauded. The focus instead is trained on perceived negatives: accusations of encouraging eating disorders, advocating the use of fur, and a myriad of other issues in-between, and all too often failing to recognise the positives. The constantly changing yet self-referencing nature of fashion leaves it well equipped to react to a rapidly changing society - and react immediately. Lack of funds for a catwalk show? Film it, a la Gareth Pugh. Can’t find a magazine that features the kind of content you want to read? Create your own. Unable to afford the studded brogues you so desperately covet? Get on to eBay, buy some studs, and DIY a pair.
Text VICKI LOOMES Illustration NATSUKI OTANI
Nick Knight’s SHOWstudio is perhaps one of the most pertinent examples of this easy adaptability. Recognising that methods of communication were undergoing one of the most major and significant changes ‘since the invention of writing’, SHOWstudio has harnessed the power of the Internet, and the almost limitless possibilities it offers both an artist or designer and viewer. Born out of a concept discussed with the artist Peter Saville way back in 1998- when YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, online shopping and live video streaming (in fact, everything we now take for granted) were nothing more than stars in an enormous cyber-space. SHOWstudio launched on 27 November 2000, with a film of the inimitable Kate Moss warbling along with one Bobby Gillespie. Rather an inauspicious beginningbut now it’s almost impossible to imagine a time before SHOWstudio. SHOWstudio B.C, if you will. At the peak of the dot.com boom Knight’s initial idea to create a site that wasn’t reserved for commercial gain, but an experimental portal created simply for the love and passion of a craft must have seemed almost absurd. A place of complete creative freedom - imagining projects that were quick, cheap and easy to produce. It’s almost equally as impossible to fathom how Knight had the foresight to envisage how quickly, and the extent to which, such rapidly advancing technology would impact on the dissemination of imagery and information within the fashion industry. Following Knight’s original idea the concept took almost two years to perfect. Aided by a dedicated in-house team, which included Paul
Hetherington (who remains as Creative Director today), Derek Michael, Adam Mufti and Alice Rawsthorn (consulting as Editor) the project was a collaborative effort from its very inception. The current team comprises of eleven staff members, eight of which are based at a studio in Clerkenwell (now having moved to a new space in Bruton Place, Mayfair for the SHOWstudio shop). Interestingly Knight refused advertising for the first seven years, and backed the project through the large commercial shoots he was in high demand for. At its most simple, SHOWstudio offers designers, both new and established, the opportunity to interact with a global audience. But that definition is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. It’s difficult to define the site thanks to the fluidity with which the concept adopts and embraces new ideas, pushing them to the limits of their full potential. The ‘Phonecarte’ series is a case in point. Not content with regular updates from the various fashion weeks, Knight invited modern supers, including Karen Elson, Lily Cole, and Irina Lazareanu, to leave voicemail messages, which site users could listen to, offering an insight into lives that at first appear to be significantly removed from reality. It is this interactivity that comes closest to representing the very essence of SHOWstudio. As Knight himself says, the site is ‘showing the studio’- presenting the creative process in its frantic entirety - from conception to completion, via late night panics and moments of sheer inspiration. Knight believes that demystifying such processes is beneficial not just for the
artist and the audience, but for the art itself. ‘The ‘Fashion Revolution’ exhibition, currently showing at Somerset House, showcases the incredible scope and variety of projects that SHOWstudio has initiated. However the site does not take the sole credit for the projects, instead firmly advocating and promoting the need for collaboration within all creative practice. Citing three key factors– process, performance, participation– SHOWstudio’s work with visionary designers, photographers and stylists (including, but by no means limited to, Rei Kawakubo, Alexander McQueen, Simon Foxton and chef Heston Blumenthal) has pushed the boundaries of conventional fashion shoots and traditional magazine formats. Nothing is considered off limits from a filmed 23-course banquet, where the cameras were placed looking down on each dinner plate, thus concealing the identities of the designer; to ‘Sleep’, the earliest example of the sites live image broadcasting, which saw images of nine top models fully dressed and made-up, naturally– sleeping in hotel rooms. This exploration of performance continuously pushes the seemingly limitless potential of the Internet. The audience is actively encouraged to participate in projects– by inviting shoppers to pose in front of Liberty’s windows, to downloading patterns designed by Margiela et al, or emailing in interview questions during a live interview, including the notoriously reticent Miss Moss– consequently changing the way non-fashion insiders consume fashion forever. No longer created by an elite few, behind
closed doors, it is possible for the public to be involved every painstaking step of the way. The LIVE studio events are perhaps the ultimate embodiment of this principle. Separated from renowned photographers, models and make-up artists by nothing more than a twoway mirror, exhibition the audience is able to watch real shoots in the Live studio space. Taking place regularly during the course of the exhibition the action is also streamed live online, meaning you don’t have to be in physical attendance to experience the event. Finally the role SHOWstudio has played in the development of fashion film should not be underestimated or overlooked. The benefits of
filming clothes, without scripts or narratives seems too simple, too obvious - it’s almost astonishing that it has taken this long for the concept to translate to the mainstream. Recently the everinventive Gareth Pugh’s collaborations with Ruth Hogben have received considerable acclaim, thanks to his innovative strikingly individual design aesthetic and her eye for drama. However the site has been actively promoting the medium since ‘Shoot’ in 2003, which featured enormous couture pieces from the S/S 03 haute couture collections in suitably surreal performances, and the increasing experience and knowledge of the team only suggests that the best is still to come. The most recent addition to the SHOWstudio mantle is the shop, which offers collectors the opportunity to purchase one-off props designed by internationally acclaimed artists, set-designers and craftsmen, whose efforts often go unnoticed, dwarfed by fabulous clothing and couture pieces. Stocking everything from bunny ears, courtesy of Shona Heath, to a painted John Galliano Union Jack, the shop presents an eclectic collection of fashion ephemera. Bringing this new fashion democracy full circle it is now possible to own a piece of a shoot. Whatever next, Mr. Knight– world domination? SHOWstudio 1-9 Bruton Place London W1J 6LT www.showstudio.com
Photography REBECCA JANE CALLABY
Photography JOE PATTERSON
piers atkinson: milliner and illustrator
London milliner du jour, Piers Atkinson, is, literally, a man who wears many hats. In addition to being the editorial brainpower responsible for setting up the Daily Rubbish, the newspaper distributed at London Fashion Week that inevitably works its way into the canvas totes of every single person who sets foot inside Somerset House, Piers is also a photographer and, most importantly an acclaimed illustrator. Originally from Norfolk, Piers studied graphic design at the University of West England. He ended up moving to London and working in some of the city’s most darling PR firms (Blow, Mandi Lennard) where his knack for the original was so undeniable that he soon found himself amongst the represented rather than the representers. Piers debuted his first collection of “extreme millinery” in Autumn/Winter 2008 to critical acclaim. Now Piers’ whimsical creations can be found at Topshop and was spotted atop mannequins in Selfridges’ prestigious Christmas windows. Piers was gracious enough, not only to sit down to answer some of our burning questions about what it’s like to sit poised on the forefront of both London’s fashion and art scenes, but to also create a series of illustrations especially for Sketchbook. Whimsical in a manner which slightly converges on the surreal (elongated oblong shapes, playing with proportions, etc), there is no question that, for Piers, it’s all about what’s going on upstairs. That is to say, the focal points of his delightful drawings are the delicious details around his figures’ cerebral regions: conical swirls of blue tinted hair, delicate veils and other manners of fantastical headgear. So to the man who has many talents, Sketchbook says: hat’s off and pencils up!
Tell me a little bit about your artistic background, your story, not as a fashion designer, but as an illustrator, as it were, although I’m sure the two are very closely bound up with one another. I was brought up by a very inspiring family of three women. My grandmother was an illustrator and artist, a sculptor and a writer, all at a professional level, and I loved her very much. Her mother was a fashion designer, in the Edwardian period actually....and a psychic. My mum is the milliner and my sister, a beautiful, haughty and shy woman with the driest sense of humour—my muse. There is a lot of love between us all. So with this as a background, at home it was always pots of paint and scissors and glue on the kitchen table rather than MTV and microwave pizza, so I’ve always been happy to create. The illustrations really started, though, when I was trying to work out my photography portraits I did at art school. I drew them and my tutors loved it. They encouraged me and I realised how much I loved drawing. In addition to being an illustrator and milliner, you are also a costume designer, party organizer and fashion editor—with your fingers in so many pots, how do you define yourself? Do you like to think of yourself as an artist first and then a designer, or vice versa, or are the two one and the same? It’s funny that we have to create all these labels (no pun intended). I think I just like ‘doing stuff,’ and, at the moment it’s hats! I suppose I would say I’m an artist as the collections come from somewhere inside - it’s not inspired by the dollars, but I am also enjoying selling and having my hats begin to bring a bit of money back in so I can reinvest and do more.
Can you tell me about the 2002 exhibit you did with Andrew Logan of your sketches? What were they like? What story did they tell? I love Andrew; he is another incredibly inspirational man - no rules! He has also always been very encouraging. I had done a lot of drawings inspired by 18th century ladies of Versailles with their absurd court dress. They were drawings that looked half like etchings and half children’s fairy tale book. Lots of details…and he encouraged me to show them. When’s your next exhibition? Well I have some erotic collages on show at Digitaria in Berwick Street, Soho and then I’m doing a exhibition/sale with the great potter Kate Malone and Andrew Logan on 4th - 6th December just off Balls Pond Road in the East Culford Mews. Who inspires you, in fashion and in art? It can be anything. I’m very inspired by quality at the moment, and by integrity. I am rather put off by the cheap throw-away elements of our culture, and by trashy TV. I mean the real garbage filling up miles of newsprint and GHz of airwaves droning on about celebrities. What exactly are we celebrating about them? I just don’t give a fig about them and can’t fathom out why anyone would. Is it their money? Someone please explain… Vivienne Westwood, in her Manifesto, says that art is only art if people think it is and that the same, arguably, applies to fashion. As someone who toes the line between the artistic and fashion worlds, what are your thoughts on this? Do you think fashion is art? Yes - but not always. I think some fashion designers are artists, some are craftsmen/ women. More are businessmen/women.
Text KRISTEN KNOX Illustration PIERS ATKINSON
What makes it art? The place it comes from. If the collection has something to say, a story to tell - I think then it may be art. What makes your illustration yours? Do you have an artistic signature or trademark style or technique? Yes - impatience. My drawings take about 3.5 seconds and that’s the key to it! You once lived with Zandra Rhodes. What was it like? How did that arrangement come about? Wow!! She’s amazing! What a woman. My landlord sold his house and I had to move – quick. So Zandra suggested I became a lodger and helped out. That’s when I veered into fashion. She is so inspiring. A tough boss but a very kind and loving woman. She treated me, and still does, as part of her extended family - and it’s quite an extended family! So many famous people stayed - it was mind boggling. And her address book always amazed me: Shirley Bassey, Joan Collins— everyone in fashion…Larry Hagman!! (laughs) Could you share one great anecdote with us? An anecdote? There are literally hundreds (it was an eccentric household), but I think it was always me trying to sneak in from clubs (either busy or empty handed) at 5 AM hoping to God she was still asleep and not yet starting her day. No such luck - so there were often quite funny conversations; me addled and just getting in, and her in early morning mega-mode. She would always hope I’d got up early to help her at work.....hmmm. What do you think are the biggest challenges facing young designers or artists looking to get their voice out in London today? What advice would you give to designers itching to take a turn on the catwalks of Vauxhall or On/Off? The greatest challenges are a flooded market, a capitalist and emotionally crippled ‘culture’ and social conservatism. My advice would be to tread the line between outrageous, arty, press-worthy and well made, well placed, buyer-friendly pieces. www.piersatkinson.com
stephen jones Illustration LUCIA EMANUELA CURZI
music & fashion collaborations Music and fashion has always had a very special relationship. A choice ensemble and an innate or carefully manufactured image have the ability to elevate a musician to iconic status or aid the evolution of a persona that ignites the stage. Clothing is also a tool for fans to feel part of a movement, showing their alliance and dedication to the music or for what it stands for, whether it is through merchandise or via flattering imitation. When British fashion matriarch Vivienne Westwood and music mogul Malcolm McLaren opened ‘Sex’ on the Kings Road, the punks went anarchic for their bondage and safety pinned creations, and today sees youngsters create sculptures with hair, and rock an oversized shoulder to emulate the eccentric styles of Lady Gaga and La Roux.
One person who instantly springs to mind when tackling the subject of fashion and music is Madonna. When we heard news of the material girl collaboration with H&M we were expecting to see an array of outlandish or risque creations hit our favourite Swedish high street store. As predicted crowds of a seismic scale swarmed the shops on opening day, using a fair amount of argy bargy and scrabbling necessary to nab a piece of the sought-after collection. Whilst a small percentage was satisfied, largely those who managed to snatch a cream trench (featured in the advertising campaign), many slammed the range as disappointingly lackluster. For someone famed for her daring trendsetting and Chameleon-esque style it seemed rather tame, you couldn’t help but feel it a missed opportunity. Some recent collaborations have seen King of Leon join forces with Paris collective Surface to Air and at the opposite end of the spectrum the surprisingly statuesque Pixie Lott with evening wear favourite Lipsy. Perhaps receiving the baton from risque dresser Madonna and undeniably at the helm of music/fashion collaboration has to be the polarising Lada Gaga, who’s so adamant about image and star quality she has stated that said she’d ‘rather die’ than be seen without her heels. Her new video ‘Telephone’ sees her at her outrageous best wearing custom made creations by the likes of Fred Butler, Atsuko Kudo, and Brian Lichtenberg and designs by Viktor and Rolf, Chanel and more. It’s the design house, ‘Haus of Gaga’, that she often relies on to realize the inconceivable, but refreshingly
Text SOPHIE EGGLETON she is quick to make us aware that it is not a commodity, “It’s a real bond and relationship, and that’s what I think music and art is about. Even before that infamous NME cover the Gossip front woman had become a poster girl for the larger lady, whether she wanted to or not. Refreshing and rare to see women so unapologetic for her less that typical popstar frame, boldly covering every curvaceous inch in the brightest sequins or brashest logos, she was also more than happy to shed her clothes in front of revelling audiences. Having been labelled as untrendy or for the middle aged, Evans saw the vivacious, and most importantly, ‘cool’ Beth Ditto as an ideal candidate to transport the brand to modern day. Although Girls Aloud’s Kimberley Walsh is their current face, in 2007 the now 40-year old New Look looked to new cheeky ‘LDN’ wordsmith Lily Allen for inspiration, creating a range featuring her then trademark: full skirted dresses, chunky trainers and garish gold jewelry combinations. A few years on she has upped the glamour, a Karl Lagerfeld muse and choice model for the latest Chanel campaign, stealing the fashion crown at this years’ festivals, donning various wigs, skimpy playsuits and sparkly war paint. Fellow Brit songstress and relative new kid on the block VV Brown has frequented many a red carpet in the last year, although her music is yet to gain the chart recognition it deserves, she is certainly riding high in the style stakes. Known for her impossibly perfect quiff and quirky retro style, aware of the constancy of questions regarding the origins of her outfits she decided to launch
VV Vintage. Specializing in special customized pieces, the sites concise collection saves you trawling through cluttered rails and piles. Most of the stock showcases VV’s love of vivid colours and prints, so it’s not for faint hearted fashionistas, but they all tap into 80’s resurgence perfectly. Style and image has always been a very important part of Hip Hop culture. Connoting excess wealth and flaunting their ability to attract the opposite sex became the blueprint for Hip Hop videos, often with the use of sportswear and necks, hands, and goblets, smothered in ‘ice’ so OTT that the word ‘bling’ was coined. But there were also innovators like Busta Rhymes, and those who wanted to show success through high end sophisticated designer clothing like Sean Combs (or P Diddy) who went on to create an extensive line under the name Sean John, whose suiting sells particularly well. Although he’s currently made it all to easy to direct negative aspersions his way, before his thoughtless, nay cringeworthy, outburst at the MTV awards Kanye West was not only a hip-hop/ pop superstar but a fashion icon. Alongside huge critical and chart success, he was deemed one of the worlds most stylish men - unafraid of wearing pink and mixing up style inspiration, hence the Louis Vuitton collaboration resulting in various ‘kicks’ retailing around the $900 mark, including the Mr.Hudson deck shoes and Velcro high-tops. The collection was so popular it sold out before the official release date. Queen of hip-hop, Missy Elliot, rarely seen without trainers, pristine and fresh out of the box naturally, was
Illustration JADE CUMMINGS
also an obvious collaborator for sports legends Adidas and created a similarly successful range. Music fans and the fashion followers were united in surprise when news broke of the king of Britpop (and swagger), Liam Gallagher’s fashion venture. Its name Pretty Green only added to the intrigue - not exactly in-keeping with the faux hard-man attitude we have become accustomed. Then we saw Liam’s video press release, featuring the frontman describing the concept in his imitable manner, using various expletives to vent frustration about the lack of stuff he likes in shops, detesting the overriding skinny jeans look of the moment. His line wouldn’t feature any ‘mad gear’, nothing ‘pony’ and definitely none of those pointy shoes ‘that come at you like f*****g snooker cues!!’. Kasabian’s frontman Tom Meighan, who has said his is the band to take the crown from Oasis as Britain’s biggest rock band, has already been pictured wearing one of the logo’d cravats. Not exactly fashion forward, comprising predominantly of straightforward looks, but the collection does deliver a method for Oasis fans to copy the trademark look, most successfully via the green parka jacket. Of course Liam’s not fussed if people like it, he doesn’t need the money and he’s getting a new tailor made wardrobe out of it either way. With an alternative approach and stepping away from the idea of merchandise, a concept synonymous with rock bands is Lostprophets’ front man Ian Watkins, who launched his line Made in Hell as an experiment of sorts. An outlet away from music and his role as multi-tasking front man/website/artwork designer, using his extensive background in Graphic design, he releases apparels displaying designs that are separate to the bands aesthetic. What started with a simple tongue in cheek worded tee, which became an unexpected craze particularly among LP fans, a selection of t-shirts featuring sexy or horror-inspired imagery from his latest collection are being added to virtual shopping baskets with haste, since recent revelations (via Twitter) of their release. As well as the aforementioned t-shirts, the current range also features the obligatory, but ultra wearable polo shirts and hoodies, but it’s the realization that customers are getting a custom made piece of artwork with every purchase (all pieces are numbered individually) which is the real allure, with the screens being destroyed as soon as the limited amount of units are sold (keep your eyes peeled for Dead Heroes, LP guitarist Mike Lewis’ venture). With similar intentions is Cheer up Clothing. Made up of two friends, ‘You Me at Six’ bassist Matt Barnes and Ed Thomas of ‘Me and the Moon’, the duo saw their mutual interests in music and fashion as an ideal opportunity to fulfill their long term goal of going into business together. They have just released a few pieces from their new
Smartwear range, which adds to their extremely popular casual wear- their cheeky cartoonish styles and more ‘street’ word motif tees- which have proven to appeal to wide age range of both males of females. Their bold designs have also garnered attention from others in the music industry, adorned in various videos and live performances. It is undeniable that the associations and resulting exposure has aided their sales and popularity, but this is truly a venture independent of their musical pursuits. Drop Dead Clothing, founded by Bring Me The Horizons Oli Sykes also proves a popular choice within the alternative scene. Avril Lavigne’s USP was being the antedate to the saccharine blonde clones that were all too prevalent in the charts. Acting like ‘one of the lads’ in her videos and sporting grungy attire, she became the poster girl for many an angst teenage girl. After marrying Sum 41’s Deryk Whibley (they are now reportedly separating) she started to grace fashion shows, attempting high octane glamour - to mixed reviews. Her new, rather extensive line, Abbey Dawn, harks back to her early days, and apart from a few nice graphic tees which would appeal to her claimed target demographic of twenty-somethings, it seems to be a brazen venture to tap into her impressionable young fans who will undoubtedly beg their mums for one of the Avril-style tartan minis, pink and black skull hoodies or tutus, all of which look uncannily similar to the clothes that litter Camdens ‘alternative’ shops and stalls. Of course, the diminutive Canadian will argue that with a purchase from her collection you are guaranteed a good fit and quality fabrics. Like Abbey Dawn, Gwen Stefani’s L.A.M.B has been given the opportunity to show at New York fashion week, the latter to much greater success. Crowned as a style icon of our generation, pushing style boundaries, pulling off old Hollywood glamour one moment, urban styles the next, with everything from the orient, pirates, tartan, and sexed up cheerleaders informing her look. Innately cool with a style sensibility envied by every girl who is forced to subscribe to magazine opinions and celebrity looks for guidance, L.A.M.B was always going to be a hit in the eyes of both the fashion elite and us normal folk if used to showcase her personal style formulations thankfully she does with confidence and aplomb. Also targeting the high end market is the immaculately groomed Ms Beckham. I know some of you may have feel you have a valid argument against referencing Victoria Beckham in an article about ‘musicians’, but in fairness she was part of one of the biggest pop bands of all time, who were responsible for many a worldwide, albeit tacky, trend. Although in the last year her denim line dVb has been dropped by Hendri Bendel and Kitson due to bad sales, and now Saks
Fifth Avenue after a disagreement, Victoria has defied the credit crunch and silenced skeptics with a flattering, elegant yet sexy, dress collection which sold out entirely in one day, in both London and Manchester Selfridges! Unfortunately, her triumph has been tainted slightly by accusations that she sought more than a little help from friend, and master of dressmaking Roland Mouret. And this is the obvious question to arise from the cynical, or simple aware, regarding these ventures. Does the ubiquitous money making machine Miley Cyrus sit down with WallMart bosses to discuss designs? Does Justin Timberlake really have the knowledge to design women’s dresses for his brand William Rast? Similarly when we consider ‘celebrity’ autobiographies and perfumes, we have to ponder how much they actually contribute to the final outcome? It’s not hard to deduce from the above ventures those who truly dedicate their minimal spare time and celebrated creativity to their fashion endeavours. Whilst the success stories tend to be those who use their flair for art/fashion, or
their applauded style to influence their designs, there will also be those stars, the phenomena’s and global sensations, whose products will sell in spades however genuine and whatever the quality. The key point consumers should consider, if you take away the branding or endorsement, does the garment meet your requirements? Are you happy to spend your hard earned (or borrowed) money on it? If it’s a yes then great, and more the better if you are able to proudly don something spawned from the mind of a musician you respect or admire. www.hm.com www.newlook.co.uk www.evans.co.uk www.vvvintage.com www.seanjohn.com www.prettygreen.com www.madeinhell.bigcartel.com www.cheerupclothing.com www.avril-l.org/abbeydawn www.victoriabeckham.com www.iheartdropdead.com
matthew williamson: all grown up - day 3 at london fashion week
Tales from the Show Circuit Ok, there I was with just over a week until the start of London Fashion Week and I was sending out my email requests for show tickets. A bit late but I hoped for the best.
As the responses from the press offices rolled in, things were starting to look up though and I started to plan my show dairy. Fingers crossed, I hoped for good news from Matthew Williamson. I have used his clothes on shoots before so I knew a few there who could help me out. The anticipation was brewing for this season’s 25th anniversary of London Fashion Week, with iconic British brands returning to the London stage. Thus demand for tickets to Burberry and Matthew Williamson reached fever pitch. Finally, there it was in my inbox; ”Thanks Sharmon, don’t worry, I’ll look after your show ticket”. Woohoo! I was delighted as I really wanted to see Matthew’s return to London as he has been showing in New York since 2002. Alas with tickets out of the way, my next issue was WHAT TO WEAR?? So with a nail biting stress out, I had to start planning my outfits. OMG…what are the trends, what’s cool, what’s comfortable??? Eeekk! It’s always so difficult to decide and as a stylist you are supposed to look great or at least interesting. Now I probably have good stuff but after you’ve seen it everyday it becomes normal. Anyway, I pulled out several items from my wardrobe and managed to cobble together a few cool looks. Or so I hoped would be! Let the countdown begin! Day 1, day 2, day 3 of Fashion Week; here we are, it’s Sunday and I’m already exhausted. How do fashion editors do it? Probably the PPQ party from the previous night helped to tip me over the edge. Oh well, just get out of bed and have a cup of tea, I thought, and everything will be ok. Ah yes, good plan, feeling much better. I throw my Day 3 outfit on, pop my Fendi high heels into my handbag and dash out the door.
Text SHARMON LUCHUCK Illustration ANNIE DRISCOLL
The finale of long chiffon printed gowns was stunning, to say the least with only a nod to Ibiza. The show was a polished mix of textures and colours that bring a subtle focus of sophistication and confidence without being too serious. Welcome to the new ‘grown up’ - Matthew Williamson. After the show we rush out, change our shoes around the corner, pop into TopShop to check out the prominently displayed Christopher Kane collection and then it’s off to the next show. Matthew Williamson will be showing his A/W 2010/2011 Collection as part of London Fashion Week on Sunday 21st February 2010. www.matthewwilliamson.com
Just before I get on the tube, the press office from Matthew Williamson text me with my seat allocation; this is good news as I haven’t received my ticket yet. The postal strikes have really played havoc with show tickets arriving on time, so many press offices have sent out e-tickets to ensure everyone comes. It’s too late to make it to Betty Jackson so I go straight to the Mulberry presentation, as I don’t think I’ll be able to fit it in later. Then it’s off to Nicole Farhi where I run into a couple of friends. After the show, I arrange to meet my friend Megan at Victoria Station and go with her to Matthew Williamson. As we trek our way along Victoria Station, we sneak in our ritualistic shoe change. Tah dah!! We are fashion ready as we rock up to the venue. As usual, the queue or rather the crowd, is spilling over into the street. I spot a couple stylists I know and say ‘Hi’. Then we make our way to the door and with a confirmation of my text, we are in. Press people usher us into the lift which will take us to the reception and which we happily share with Suzie Menkes. The reception room is a large light filled space with a terrace. Everyone seems a bit tired or hung over, so the Martini and fruit juice drinks are a hit, as is the fresh air on the terrace. Soon the crowd makes their way down to the catwalk space. A mix of supermodels, buyers, editors and bloggers fill the room. Stark white walls, white chairs and light spilling in from high windows create the perfect blank canvas on which to present the perfect collection. And to this, Matthew does not disappoint. The show is slick and glamorous. Metallic dresses encrusted with geometric jewels and mirrors, a mirrored bathing suit, exaggerated shoulders, pleated waists, skinny tailored trousers, encrusted black shorts (which I love but know they won’t love me) and splashes of green, pink, blue and neon yellow – love the shoes.
there’s something about norway
Victoria Loomes catches up with the colourful Fam Irvoll, and discovers just what is happening in Norway.
After five minutes in the company of Fam Irvoll her witty and irreverent designs make perfect sense. She is the personification of her designs, and certainly knocks any pre-conceived notions about shy and retiring Norwegians I may have had, firmly on the head. Describing herself as a ‘womenswear designer that does knit design’, her SS10 collection is a tribute to all her Londonbased (mostly gay) friends that she left behind in London on her return to Norway last year. Suitably kitsch for even the most daring Harajuka girl Fam’s designs are bold, bright, playful and fun, but perhaps most importantly of all, made to be worn with the tongue very firmly in cheek. SS10’s ‘I Love Gays’ is a poptastic mish-mash of inspirations and flirty details. Initial inspiration stemmed from an old photograph of Brick Lane, which featured two sailors, caught in an uncompromising position. The collection features cherry print skirts, bow details and ruffles, reminiscent of a 50’s rockabilly style. Traditional sailor motifs also make an appearance, but everything comes with a twist. A look that, as Fam so rightly observes, ‘so many people have done before’; so her interpretation features 3D knitwear pieces (a signature motif) alongside exaggerated headpieces and surreal references to flamingos, a personal favourite, alongside a skirt featuring 3D fruits that took four weeks to make. Following the completion of a BA Womenswear in Norway, she moved to London to ‘try something new’ and Fam graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2008, following a short-lived fling with marketing. During her time at CSM she worked with both Vivienne Westwood and Gareth Pugh - an experience she describes as just lovely, ‘You become friends with everyone!’. Elements of Dame Viv can certainly be seen in Fam’s outlandish creations
and, having watched several of Fam’s shows on You Tube, the mix of defiant playfulness that, for me at least, has always characterised much of Vivienne Westwood’s designs is certainly echoed within the Norwegian’s collections. Her decision to set up her own label following her graduation was certainly a brave one, especially when the current economic situation is taken into consideration. But for Fam it was the most natural decision in the world, having shown at Oslo Fashion Week since 2006, and created something of a cult following in Norway it was the logical step to take once she completed her degree. She herself admits the challenge is now to create a commercial business that will appeal to a broader market, and plans seem to be well underway. An online shop has recently been launched and a range of accessories (shoes and sunglasses) is imminent, and she is hoping to present at London Fashion Week. I don’t want to give too much away, but the words Tea and Party were mentioned… and I can’t mention Tea without drawing attention to Fam’s pastel coloured creations that are almost good enough to eat, if you didn’t want to wear them so much. Had Alice found them in Wonderland she wouldn’t have been alarmed. And if they’re good enough for one Lady Gaga, they’re good enough for me. Possibly the most unusual story about Fam is the story behind her route into the fashion industry. Her first design was ‘just hor-rendous’, a tweed skirt that was ‘really badly made’. It was, in fact Fam’s mum, who sent off her application after Fam took an extended backpacking trip with her boyfriend. ‘My mum was so sick of it she actually applied for school and got in with my name. I didn’t enjoy the first year, but I carried on to show her I could do it!’
Text VICKI LOOMES Photography FAM PR
Her honesty is admirable and it’s certainly refreshing to know that fashion design doesn’t come easily to everyone - her first forays were certainly unpromising to say the least. ‘I’m not one of those who designed for their Barbie. I remember in my first year of school I really could not sew, and I was just standing on the table asking ‘Please, someone help me!’ ’ Describing London as her second home, she tries to visit a least once a month, as she (rather disappointingly) explains, Oslo is ‘boring’. But should you happen to find yourself in Oslo, take some time to go skiing, and then seek out Fam and she will take you to ‘Neverland’- no not the place that Peter Pan goes to play, but a fantastical wonderland where Fam and her friends delight in dressing-up madness. Think (the now sadly defunct) Boombox, but for Norwegians. Exciting times indeed and this young designer’s collections look set to go from strength to strength, and as she herself observes, ‘Everything is happening just right now!’ Alice is clearly having a ball in Wonderland. www.famirvoll.com
Published on Mar 22, 2010
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