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Thursday, 26 August 2010

west african masquerade

I came across some of these fantastic images whilst browsing jewellery designer Natalia Milosz-Pierkarska's blog The 'Ah Ha'. The photographs - portraits of masqueraders taken in Nigeria - were taken by Phyllis Galembo who has travelled to Nigeria, Cuba, Brazil, Jamaica and Haiti, documenting the costumes worn by traditional priests and priestesses, carnival masqueraders, dancers, and Haitian voodoo practitioners. Forming the body of work for an past exhibition at the Tang Museum in Saratoga Springs, the press release explains that:
The outfits run a gamut of dramatic designs and shapes, from striped-knit bodysuits to appliqu├ęd fabric costumes as voluminous as tents. They might represent male or female entities, animals like elk and jaguar, or various spirits. As art writer Anne Doran pointed out, “Galembo's primary interest is the wearer's belief in the power of ritual costume to alter their everyday reality.”

What I found most exciting about these images was not simply the costumes themselves, but the beautiful manner in which they were photographed. Their square format and considered choice of background - whether in contrast to or in compliment of the garment - render them stunning works that I would love to have framed on my wall at home. 

I could with ease study these images time and again, and if I was still at uni I am sure that I would be tempted to base a project inspired by the colour, form, material and meaning of the costumes that the West African masqueraders wear. For more pictures and information, visit the Tang Museum website.  

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

travel bite: Formentera, Spain

IT may seem a little late in the season to be dishing out holiday destination advice - especially considering my trip here was in July last year - but since I have found myself recommending this gorgeous island to all who cross my path this summer I feel it is necessary for me to put my tips into words (and pictures).

platja illetes

Formentera is a gem of an island situated half an hours ferry ride from Ibiza, a world apart from its hectic neighbour. No big nightclubs as such occupy this spot of land that is circled by some of the most beautiful coastline to be found in Europe. Spoilt for choice, you can have your pick from rugged beaches, secluded coves, golden sands peppered with Italian glitterati and long stretches of ice white sand laced with crystal clear waters. 

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

tres chic

A COUPLE of weekends ago I helped a friend look after what you could call 'designer' chickens. I never thought that it was possible for a chicken to resemble a llama...

Thursday, 12 August 2010

When I grow up up... I want to buy (Antenne) Books

FOR me, buying beautiful books and magazines is a luxury. I imagine myself one day in a home dotted with tomes of wondrous imagery; of nature, of art; of fashion and design; of the ordinary and the extraordinary. Dotted amongst these, will be golden nuggets of prose, ranging from the classic to the contemporary.

However my lack of funds has somewhat stunted my efforts to emphatically begin on my journey of collecting such books. Though Antenne Books may just be a small step forward in the right direction. An online retailer of books and publications from independent publishers, it offers you items ranging from £5 to £70. But what makes this site truly special is the way in which you make your purchase.

I have never enjoyed buying books online, finding it frustrating that I can't physically explore what's inside, the tactile quality of a book being so important. What paper is it made of? Are all the pages the same size, of the same material? What does the back cover look like? And most significantly, how does it look inside, the graphics, artwork, images themselves?? 

Antenne Books tries its best to answer these queries. Instead of offering the odd static picture from a 'key part' within the book, you are given the chance to view a short video for each item, demonstrating the cover (front and back), the spine and a flick through the inside. Brilliant. Immediately you get a feel for each product. This should signify the way forward for buying books online. They've definitely got me as a customer.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

profile: Christian Wijnants

THIS designer's use of block colour and creation of interesting silhouettes in his latest collection caught my eye on the Sien website. A graduate from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp in 2000, Christian Wijnants launched his own label in 2003. Over the years he has been praised for his knitwear research and has gone back to teach at the Royal Academy.

Although not all of his designs are consistently something to shout about, at times Wijnant's experimentation with form manages to result in unique items which are thoroughly wearable. But what I found most appealing about his designs were the playfully styled images through which he presents them, as can be seen in the 'catalogues' for more recent collections on his website

unwanted: Milkybar Raisin & Biscuit

REGRETFULLY I succumbed to the ad campaign and bought a Milkybar Raisin & Biscuit the other day. Big mistake, don't do it. Stick to the classic Yorkie Biscuit and Raisin instead.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

joie de vivre

WHEN I was searching SHOWstudio for 'Make Up Your Mind' I came across Ruth Hogben's latest collaboration with Gareth Pugh for his Autumn/Winter 2010 collection. 'Joie de Vivre' features Raquel Zimmermann in a stunning display of dark and glamorous, 1920's inspired clothing.  

I always love Hogben's films, but what surprised me was the glaringly obvious similarities between Zimmermann and Lady Gaga. Not literally - though at times I did do a double take, leading me to double check that it was definitely Zimmermann not Gaga that I was watching on screen - but more so in the styling of the jerky, robotic movements that accompanied the achingly cool soundtrack (provided by Lukid). This simply reinforces my suspicion that, despite initial (strong) reservations about Lady Gaga, she is fast becoming an icon of our time, influencing not just music, but style too.

Monday, 2 August 2010

maison martin margiela at somerset house

VISITED the Maison Martin Margiela exhibition this week at Somerset House. I think it has to be one of my favourite gallery spaces in London, always presenting shows in such a manner that gently guides you through the ideas and logical ordering of what is being exhibited. This was unlike 'Skin' at the Welcome Collection, where I found myself floundering in the middle of the room, uncertain of which way to view things and unable to make out which bits of text went with what. Not to mention the inexplicable decision to place descriptions next to some pieces so low that it was rendered unreadable unless you were a child, midget or crouching on the ground.

But back to the good stuff. The Margiela exhibition was a wonderful amalgamation of key themes, pieces and surrounding material that cohesively explained the aesthetic and drive of the brand. And it was perhaps even enough simply to look at the collection of past fashion show invites to be able to grasp an understanding of the label's ethos. I would do anything to a) be a proud owner of this collection, and/or b) have personally received one of those invitations. 

From a presentation point of view what struck me most at the time, and has lasted in my mind since, was the exhibit depicting the evolution of Margiela's tailored shoulders. Hovering upon the horizon as you entered the exhibition was what appeared to be plaster casts of this ever changing silhouette. Yet as you came closer it became apparent that they were in fact plain fabric reproductions of past garments, supported from within and made to look uniform in order to allow the viewer to focus on the form, nothing else. Their positioning on plinths elevated the status of this simple exhibit into one that demanded attention. For me it was an excellent example of effective exhibition design, keeping it simple and void of technological gimmicks.