We need to talk about beauty! A tribute to a man I didn’t meet.

THERE is no slick sign for genius or beauty so Peter Chang is described as a 21st century Fabergé.  His output is far away from the Russian craftsmen’s creations as is possible to imagine.  They did both make objects which could be worn on the body.  Fabergés,’ from gems and precious metals for the Russian Imperial family; Chang’s, out of found materials for Fashion models!

I might have met Peter Chang.  My friend Anita Clarke, part of the Art scene in Liverpool from his days in the city, knew him and told me of his death, this month, at the age of 72. He was one of the Liverpool artists involved in Pop Art and Music in the 60s and 70s.

Chang’s fabrics were modern, his creations avant garde;  his skills ancient, painstaking.  Transforming tiny fragments of brightly coloured acrylic into intricate, immaculate curved brooches or bangles; spiralling, organic shapes with the odd fin, horn or pompom, is long, hard, and, it transpired, dangerous work.

He never used much in the way of machinery, believing he had more control with the hand, using planes, rasps, needle files, sandpaper and polish. However, his technique of building up layers of resin and, over years before masks were common, breathing in the fumes, damaged his lungs, a tragic price for his fabulous work.


Chang trained as both sculptor and printmaker. After a first degree in art and graphic design at Liverpool from 1963-66, he left for Paris to study printmaking at the famous Hayter Printmaking Atelier, followed by a postgraduate degree in sculpture and printmaking at The Slade, London.  After years working on sculptural projects, interiors and furniture design, he turned to jewellery in the late 1970s, first making earrings for his wife, Barbara Santos-Shaw, head of printed textiles at Glasgow School of Art.

Outlandish, outrageous, extravagant, witty and bizarre; his influences from Pop Art visible but with the sense of opulence from Art in China and Japan. He was the shy genius whose smaller works might take 400 hours to make.


A Chang bracelet on display, from 1987, the decade which saw Rifat Ozbek including the artist’s glorious pieces in his spectacular catwalk shows.

As a top rank international artist, Chang’s work is in the collection of museums in Germany, Australia, the Netherlands, China, Hawaii, Finland, Switzerland, Italy, in New York’s Metropolitan, the Smithsonian, Musee des Arts Decoratifs Montreal, Graves Art Gallery Sheffield, British Council, National Museum of Scotland. Widely collected in America, he was awarded the 1995 Jerwood Prize for “lasting significance and daring brilliance”


Peter Chang has said, “Object-making is a non-verbal attempt at balancing the intellect with the intuitive,” leaving the rest of us to conjure with ideas of beauty and genius.  This may go someway towards explaining his mysterious gift for magical transformations through art and technique.   “Like all fine art, Peter Chang’s work provokes an intense physical response: a compulsion to touch, a need to smile and wonder. His unique objects also project an unusual wit and humour”, says Alyson Pollard, curator of Metalwork and Glass at the National Museums Liverpool.  He once told her, “I like to incorporate a bit of fun: spice it up. People take things too seriously.”

The day after his death, art transporters collected work to ship to Rome where his show opened on November 14 at the Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XX1 Secolo.


Music for China’s ‘Emerging Affluents?’

COULD ‘new solutions’, worldwide Politics needs, come from within the Fashion industry itself?

Chinese-born media magnate and  journalist, Madame Shaw-Lan Wang, has taken over the reins of the major French Fashion house ‘Lanvin.’  Will China’s, America’s and Europe’s ‘new affluents’ be ready to buy into the dreams of creative internationalism, this inspired move represents?

Madame Wang, a Taiwanese businesswoman and publisher of United Daily News, owns 75 percent of Lanvin and will put more money in; to back future projects and help reposition the company.

“Madame Shaw-Lan Wang has always believed in Lanvin and sees a future in its talented teams,” Lanvin explains. The label, which dates back to 1889, named after couturier Jeanne Lanvin, has long been synonymous with Parisian chic. It enjoyed a revival in the noughties, under former star designer Alber Elbaz, famed for his 2001 collaboration with H&M.


Nicolas Druz, a close advisor of Madame Wang’s, who has been appointed deputy managing director, says Lanvin was looking at branching into new avenues such as “art of living” concepts. Hotel projects might be launched under the Lanvin name.

Lanvin is on its second designer since Elbaz.  Olivier Lapidus, a one-time menswear designer for Balmain,  known for experimenting with technology and clothes took on the role in July.  A renowned Modernist,  Lapidus, son of Ted, is transforming the oldest Fashion house in the world, under the influence of sophisticated, timeless, classical civilisation from the East.

In the mid-1920’s, the design house had recruited expert “nose,” André Fraysse, and launched an impressive spate of Lanvin perfumes and scents: Arpège, Niv Nal, Irise, Kara – Djenoun, Le Sillon, Chypre, Comme-Ci Comme-Ca, Lajea, J’En Raffole, La Dogaresse, Ou Fleurit L’oranger, and  among others, Mon Peche/My Sin.  Recently scents d’Eclat d’Arpege, Lanvin Man and Lanvin Vetyver have been trialed.


21st century scents of success!

Madame Wang  and her team should have fun testing out the markets for their innovative creations from among  Mexican Luxurians, Gen Viz, New Indian Tastemakers, FABs, Amortals and Hajibistas, Athena Women and Lagonistas!



Vain hopes, vague waves – August is a wicked month

We love the glossies. They exist to distract us with their glamour.  It’s as if  Benetton’s, revolutionary 80s, advertising never happened for August 2012’s, UK editions, Vanity Fair and Vogue.

Subtle, conventional, uncontroversial, Louis Vuitton promotions feature liveried guard, luxury coach interior,  stern faced models in sculptural hats, vertiginous platforms, fine denier hosiery, polished leather gloves, and bejewelled, cupcake buttons, in Vogue.  The luggage company’s aspirational offering, for Vanity Fair, shows Muhammad Ali with boxing gloved, be-jeaned, glorious tiny grandson and unzipped LV holdall in luxuriant,  pooled garden.

Editorial in VF involves itself in matters of the moment.  Annie Leibovitz’s photos of Nobel Peace Prize winners create startling juxtapositions of Mikhail Gorbachev with the 14th Dalai Lama, Professors Jody Williams and Mohammad Yunus, Dr. Shirin Ebadi,  Lech Walesa, F.W. de Klerk with Jimmy Carter, 39th president of the United States.

Described as a ‘wayward teenager,’ the Yale alumna and the much missed, Marie Colvin, famously quoted as saying, ‘I never drink when I’m covering a war,’ is celebrated in  over 14 gripping pages, by Marie Brenner, as the world of Rachel Weisz’s scary fiction is contrasted with this real life drama of love and war.

In the revelatory economics of ‘Microsoft’s lost decade’ we discover that Google has ‘almost the same amount of cash on its books as Microsoft’ and that Steve Jobs blames Bill Gates for not putting enough emphasis on brilliant products, tending to ignore the humanities and liberal arts.  Well duh!

Latest trends in marketing are emerging through the rich West’s involvement with fabulous food provenance, sensed through the actual taste bit from the aesthetic list.  Stunning Art makes my mouth water and never more so than when devouring Fashion ads.   Gucci’s deep, dark oils across Vogue‘s double pages with spotlit glitter, glamour, glitz on belts, bags, rings and statement jewels are beguiling as Belgian chocolates.

Wondrous evocations of the Chanel legend drift across pages, one of pure white space. In a shade, dreamed from the sky at midnight, textured fine wool, with deeper contrast trim and sleeves appear on a porcelain and spun-ebony model. More genius styling from teams behind Bottega Veneta, Dolce & Gabbana, DKNY, Prada, Armani, Burberry Prosum make up selling-copy as divine post-modern theatre.

Although it hardly matters, with all this other scrumptiousness, editorial remains a delightful, image-rich feast, too.  In this August Vogue there’s nothing more serious than the sobering thought, from editrice, Alexandra Shulman, ‘everyone loves a good diktat!’  So let’s just say, ‘Keep taking the tablets.’