Archive for the ‘Art Galleries’ Category

Disobedient Bodies!

May 29, 2017

TODAY we caught JW Anderson’s exhibition, ‘Disobedient Bodies,’ at the Barbara Hepworth, Wakefield. Very soon I shall be sending off for one of his jumpers but I need to tell you a little story first!!

Anderson has curated an eclectic show making exciting links between styles we currently wear close to our hearts and body shapes from works by Hepworth and Henry Moore, his favourites I’m told.

Then something happened. A two year old girl in tasteful pink, walking confidently between exhibits, suddenly caught sight of my top! She cried out twice, making a slight terrified sound! I said to her father, a step behind her, “My Vivienne Westwood’s frightened her!” We both laughed. It’s good to know the old girl can still hack it!

Hepworth

Below Anderson’s international Loewe collection next to Barbara Hepworth plasters. Children are encouraged to play with giant knitwear hanging 20feet in the air and students are invited to design their own ranges, shown next to Issey Miyake models. And everywhere happy  babies, toddlers and absorbed teenagers, mostly unaware of frightening punk clowns displayed on avid art lovers!

Loewe_Hanro

A Suitable Case for Treatment

August 7, 2016
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Jordan Belfort in THE WOLF OF WALL STREET, from Paramount Pictures and Red Granite Pictures.

I’m not a cougar but Christopher Breward’s latest book celebrating the glorious and everyday charms of ‘The Suit,’ makes me see how a predatory woman might feel!

On many of the pages I fall in love again and again!

Breward sets the suit in its commanding history as an important marker inspiring new ways of looking at the power-hungry, the lover, the elegant, through their lives at home, in trade, on travel and in the movies.

The suit has survived hardly modified over generations, worn by men and women, ‘politicians, estate agents, bankers, rabbis, courtroom defendants, wedding grooms’.

The author’s own wedding outfit, now in the V&A, was worn for a civil partnership ceremony  with James Brook on 18 August 2006.  Christopher’s from Kilgour on Saville Row with Jasper Conran shirt, while James’ tailored wool-blend pinstripe by Timothy Everest, for Marks and Spencer are included in the museum’s collections, reflecting the suit’s enduring appeal.

Taking his lead from Adolf Loos, the Modernist ‘suitophile’ who compared the garment to a classical temple, Breward considers its form, function and style across the decades. Thinking ‘the smart flashiness of the soldier’s get-up takes us only so far in understanding the evolution of the modern suit,’ he encourages us to consider the dinginess of English cities when ‘darkness inevitably rubbed off on the man’s suit and its status in everyday life.’

Romping through the centuries he notes how working men’s solid woollen jackets and trousers stood for stronger values than a nineteenth century clerk’s off-the-peg garb, although it it did represent technological advances.

Turning to advice given for successful dressing, he shows how pundits had often suggested conservative, appropriate, two pieces to make a statement, as  novel alternative modes of dress were appearing. In the midst of the flowery Hippies in the 70s and Punk-Goths in the 80s, the monochrome model survived in the service of industry and commerce.

When nepotism and old school ties were superseded by strategic and technological brilliance, as open routes to  lucrative City jobs, the suit became more valuable than ever as a leveller in the market place. Men’s retailers know that the price of a suit is geared to match exactly a week’s wage. So from the 80s on, from the high street to Savile Row, customers would be spending between £2,000 and £10,000 to be kitted out.

When the global crash came in 2008, it had been heralded by informal dress into the worlds of banking and high finance in the 90s and 2000s; seeming to reflect immorality and the rise of greed. Disgraced workers were seen leaving their offices uniformly wearing pastel sportswear on television news channels!

City slickers and bar bound lawyers insist the suit is a sign of distinction and power in the professions despite calls to dress down or man-up for our digital age.  Breward, now a tweeds and jeans-wearing academic, hopes the suit will persist for hundreds more years; for as long as the civilised values it represents are around.

Glass coaches, diamond tiaras and blue jeans

December 25, 2015

The new black magic

Fashion’s power probably reached its zenith when Kate Middleton married the heir to the British dynastic throne of the United Kingdom in April 2011.  Prince William had fallen in love with her, it is said, as she paraded down the catwalk at a charity Fashion show in their shared university town of St. Andrew’s, near Edinburgh, in Scotland.  The signs of the harem had transmitted themselves to the virile young royal.

There is a Cinderella quality to this story and clothes played their part towards this happy ending.  Not that Kate Middleton had set many fires, or brushed many hearths, but she now  rides in glass coaches and wears diamond tiaras.

Her days at boarding school mixing with the Home Counties crowd, and Sloane Rangers set, put her on the right track. She’s an interesting mix of American preppy and English Burberry.  Her love of the outdoors means she is…

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Gathering Moss…

July 5, 2015
A match made in Britain...

A match made in Britain…

A debate on Kate Moss stirs strange passions.  Young women either love or, a few conservative detractors, hate her.  British ‘Vogue’ in May is ecstatic over the continuing success of our British Fashion models, whether from the landed gentry or the street.

Moss, featured on the cover, is placed with other contemporary model successes and the long-running story of the Brits as a ‘punk nation!’

For Harrods and House of Fraser in 'Grazia'

For Harrods and House of Fraser in ‘Grazia’

Writer Chloe Fox says, “we’re constantly challenging notions of beauty. Kate Phelan, the stylist and ‘Vogue’ contributing editor believes, “Our cultural heritage is hugely influential. We constantly challenge the norm and the fashion industry wants to harness that spirit.”

Kate Moss has hit the zeitgeist over decades, a heroin waif in the eighties, the face of London in the 1990s, high street sensation Topshop, and currently for Kering’s wild boy, Alexander McQueen.

A Business of Fashion story which is really a best kept secret is how the international Fashion industry has come to rely on her neat body, outsider ID and perpendicular cheek bones.

She has been modelling for the rising Italian star Liu.Jo since 2011, from when its already stratospheric success has continued, doubling its number of employees worldwide each year.  With La Moss as their ‘face’ they sell across the classes, from city department stores and on-line, to Europe, the far and near East and Russia.

Celebrating the Italian Fashion show opening at the V&A, this week, Colin McDowell, making the important point that it’s really all about the fabrics and the clothes, puts Italian Fashion’s centuries long success down to its heritage and pride-in-making.

A curious anomaly could be that it’s a British teenage rebel performer who is now at the heart of its continuing fascino.

First published in ‘What Would Roland Barthes say?”

Belgium’s famous painter and other anomalies

July 22, 2014
Raf Simons Mens SS 2015

Ceci ne pas Raf Simons Men’s SS 2015!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They Might be Giants showed the world how much fun there is in Belgium.

Now I’ve been to Brussels I can confirm it’s true!

Lunching in the Hotel Metropole, I was surprised by door codes being the same for Hommes ou Femmes!  Mentioning this to a French speaking sharply dressed woman, I was told that this is the sort of thing the French are always saying is typically Belgian!

Was I seeing the springs of Surrealism at its roots?

Next day in the Magritte museum we heard that modern painters, including one or two James Ensors, would be found in the “Old Masters” rooms! I recounted the Metropole story to the British ex-pat on the desk and she agreed that there was something bizarre, rather Belgique, and similar to the door code oddness, in this curating arrangement.

The French can make as much comedy hay out of Belgian culture as they like! In the comic book museum, ‘Centre de Bande Dessine, each caption is written in the most exquisite version of four languages. My mobile phone was handed in within moments of losing it  and we learned that, instead of backwards-looking educational methods, graphic texts are used to teach reading across the age ranges.

In recent times this small country has produced the two most spell-binding, innovative, Fashion designers since Mori, Yamamoto, Miyake and Kawakubo.

Martin Margiela, who is about to put out a uni-sex cologne, uses the Art and influences of his country to help us wear our intellectual hearts on our sleeves.

Raf Simons has moved the worlds of music and apparel so subtly together we are already in the night club when we view his collections.

So three cheers for They Might Be Giants for putting my delight to music.

 

Artisanal 2011 by Maison Martin Margiela.

Artisanal 2011 by Maison Martin Margiela.

 

 

The Nursery Slopes

March 9, 2014

MythologiesFairy TalesLucky children in a school near Hebden Bridge will be having their imaginations stirred when their Year One teacher shows them beans, painted with poster colours, which have been dropped by Jack after escaping from the giant.

I suppose my equivalent is having ordered Barthes ‘Mythologies,’ in French.  All my First Year students are going to read it,  I hope, in English.  A French student and I will try to find some ever more subtle nuances, in the words, by comparing notes.

As Barthes said, “We must not forget that an object is the best messenger of a world above that of nature: one can easily see in an object at once a perfection and an absence of origin, a closure and a brilliance, a transformation of life into matter (matter is much more magical than life), and in a word a silence which belongs to the realm of fairy-tales.”

The cover for the French version has the 1960s Dessus on it and so I can direct you to this page:

SUCH FUN!

December 8, 2013

Do any of us have enough ‘fun’?

The last time we can be sure we were glimpsing the idea of fun’s potential seems to have been the 1960s.  So now the word is the super signifier for that decade.

Used by Barbara Hulanicki on her ‘Desert Island Discs,’ by Miranda Hart’s fictional mother, often in interviews with Mary Quant; it expresses the possibility of freedom  and pleasure.

Fizzing with the excitements left over from the take-up of Modernism, in the 1950s, by the 60s for the first time in history the young had money to spend.  Quant, Hulanicki, et al were there waiting for their Art School educations to liberalise the rest and so we began to spend every night, ‘out’!

The moment when it was possible to be having the most fun is surely when Modernism morphed into to its ironic younger sister, the multifaceted, ducking, dodging, diving, diva, post-Modernism.

The revolutionary, tone-setting, Biba brought in well-designed clothes and accessories for a new object-of-desire-hungry demographic.

Brighton Art college graduate Fashion illustrator Barbara Hulanicki opened a mail order clothing company with her husband, Stephen Fitz-Simon.  Their Postal Boutique was overwhelmed with orders for a sleeveless gingham shift dress featured in the ‘Daily Mirror.’

Image

Shopping and partly shopping!

September 24, 2013
Petite Robe Noire Guerlain Party in Paris

Petite Robe Noire Guerlain Party in Paris

‘Cuddle Up’

I’m just about in control!  But last week the urge to own sensational things overwhelmed me.  Not because my senses or my emotions were running away, but because successful creative people were selling me dreams. I always review Burberry. Christopher Bailey is a friend of our university and a truly caring, creative designer.  His use of music is sensitive,  of the moment;  making Burberry Prorsum the most ‘must-hear!’

So I want to know what everyone else is saying about him. Reading Cathy Horyn’s review of the Burberry S/S 2014 show in the New York Times – ‘separates, the new super-soft double-faced cashmere coats in pastels and neutrals, the cardigans and the proposal of a semi-transparent lace skirt’ nyti.ms/15y4AJU

Then I found myself being irresistibly directed to ‘Upon Reflection, Anne Fontaine’s Feminine Touch’ nyti.ms/15uJY54 

As the director of ‘Coco Avant Chanel’ her work is essential viewing for me.  There she is in the New York Times demonstrating how she would not be without her mirrored compact lipstick in ‘Grenade’ by Guerlain!  It’s key to her success, she seems to be saying!

It was meant to be an interview about her latest movie ‘Adore!’  I had to have the lipstick!   pinterest.com/pin/4130652155  How many other ‘Coco Avant Chanel’ fans rushed out or to Paypal to join the party?

Through Fashion, perfume and jewels, rather than anything more practical,  we believe we can lead lives of love, romance and glamour.  And of course, we can!?

Every time I open up the intriguing little compact and apply the enchantingly scented stick to my lips I’m transported to the idyllic worlds of blue trains, Shalimar, Paris and the chicest little black dress on the catwalk.

CHUCK OUT THE DIRNDL, THE WALTZ AND THE WIGS

July 14, 2013
Dusseldorf airport travellers

Dusseldorf airport travellers

If everyone wore a dirndl there'd be no ugliness!

If everyone wore a dirndl there’d be no ugliness!

IN Vienna’s streets there are no musicians.  Just attractive girl students in brocade breeches and 18thC wigs, handing out leaflets on Mozart and the Strausses. Not even Richard, at that!

Playing lead roles in the creation of a city, Fashion shops draw on the identity of designers and promote emerging talent. It hasn’t happened in Vienna. The sharply dressed Viennese couple, photographed here, at Dusseldorf airport, were shopping for clothes in Italy.

Observing the conservative internationalism of Vienna’s shopping quarters it seems it’s the dirndl and the waltz which stops Vienna becoming a Fashion city.  It’s trapped by its history.

In the plush red restaurant at Hotel Sacher there appears a couture dirndl in soft red wool, with broderie anglaise blouse, sported by slim, elegant, still blonde matron. ‘Wanderlust and Lipstick’ sells the whole kit, the Alpine coats, the edelweis motifs to absolutely everyone; worn for parties, weddings, national celebrations by all the young dudes!

Although Fashion is about status, money, and pleasure, in Austria’s capital, with its history of political upheaval and revolution, home of psychiatry and modern erotic art,  there’s a more measured, less frenetic, approach to our seduction to shop.

With the ‘glittering’ German designer Phillip Plein, Mondial, COS, Musette, Girbaud and True Religion on view and on sale,  script-writers hope that avant garde Fashion, represented by Dries van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester, will be setting the scene alongside a ‘steady stream of young designers’.

Yet  set up to please middle-aged, middle-brow tourists from home or abroad, not even Westwood’s post-modern ‘if only everyone wore the dirndl there’d be no ugliness!’ influence,  on her protegee Lena Hoschek can halt the old world, ‘Austrian-ness’ celebrated everywhere.  Hoschek’s clothes are probably not ironic enough.

Klimt does wonderful business in ties, scarves, trays and books outside the Imperial Palace in Belvedere but Austria’s lasting legacy for the Fashion world might be Sacha Baron Cohen’s camp, lederhosen-wearing travesty Bruno –  the world’s most foolish Fashion critic.

 

Glass coaches, diamond tiaras and blue jeans

March 26, 2012

Fashion’s power probably reached its zenith when Kate Middleton married the heir to the British dynastic throne of the United Kingdom in April 2011.  Prince William had fallen in love with her, it is said, as she paraded down the catwalk at a charity Fashion show in their shared university town of St. Andrew’s, near Edinburgh, in Scotland.  The signs of the harem had transmitted themselves to the virile young royal.

There is a Cinderella quality to this story and clothes played their part towards this happy ending.  Not that Kate Middleton had set many fires, or brushed many hearths, but she now  rides in glass coaches and wears diamond tiaras.

Her days at boarding school mixing with the Home Counties crowd, and Sloane Rangers set, put her on the right track. She’s an interesting mix of American preppy and English Burberry.  Her love of the outdoors means she is not tempted to wear frilly fussy looks.

Her parents are friends with the people who run Jigsaw and Kate did a short stint as an accessories buyer with them.  There’s  an image of William  and Kate, in jeans, to make the point  that Fashion is for everyone in ‘the new black magic’*.

Some of the changes leading to the daughter of airline officers marrying an heir to a European throne have come through Fashion’s revolutions. They began when everyone wore versions of Christian Dior’s haute couture looks in the 40s and 50s.  Then, Audrey Hepburn’s transformations in  films  Roman Holiday and  Sabrina, from princess to pauper and back again, blurred edges.  The films made European and American women see the power of clothes to alter status.

In the 1960s Mary Quant made fun clothes for dukes’, doctors’ or dockers’ daughters.  Miuccui Prada dresses new generations  of  upwardly mobile professional women just as Coco Chanel did in the 40s and  50s.

Kate Middleton  may live to regret showing off her underwear in a daring see-through creation during the  2002 charity Fashion show at St Andrews university.  This was said to be the moment Prince William, paying £200 for the ticket, became besotted with her.  But the sparkly Audrey Hepburn little black dress she chose when she and the prince were on a break will be recalled with much more affection.

I don’t think she could  have got it more right with the classic silk jersey wrap dress by the London based ‘go-to’ designer Issa she wore for the engagement announcement nor when she appeared in Sarah Burton’s angelic, composed, First Communion lace outside Westminster Abbey.  Will she ever wear jeans in public, again, I wonder?