You cannot deconstruct unless you know how to construct. - Alexander McQueen

archive for the 'Craftsmanship' department

“It’s better to burn out than to fade away”

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Takahiro Ueno was in a grunge mood while designing his A/W 2012-2013 collection, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away”. These are some of Kurt Cobain’s parting words and, incidentally, a creative spirit I am sympathetic to. Ueno’s repurposed flea market t-shirts are combined with other, totally unrelated cues from the past to create something entirely unique. “When I worked on my collection, I thought about using book construction as garment construction. Then I came up with the idea of using Japanese bookbinding techniques and I used it as a main detail for my collection. I wanted to make something beautiful, strong and savage, so I researched 15th century Italian menswear and grunge.”

takahiro ueno by maria ziegelbock 2.jpg
From Takahiro Ueno’s A/W 2012-2013 collection, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away”. Photo by Maria Ziegelböck.


Donna Rhae Marder’s Lace and Wire Teapots

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

For folks near Cambridge, MA, the Mobilia Gallery is showing “The Teapot Redefined 2010″ now until at least November 6th. Donna Rhae Marder’s sewn lace and wire teapots are included in this exhibit, which “explores the possibilities of the teapot form” using a variety of techniques and materials.

lace teapot cover 1.jpg
“Oval Geometric Lace Teapot”

lace teapot cover detail.jpg
“Oval Geometric Lace Teapot”, detail

Marder’s teapots are an homage to her mother, who passed away earlier this year. They are brilliantly crafted from her lace garments.

Steaming Lace Tea Pot.jpg
“Steaming Lace Teapot”

Beige Lace Tea Pot.jpg
“Beige Lace Teapot”

Beige Lace Tea Pot detail.jpg
“Beige Lace Teapot”, detail

Fernanda Yamamoto

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

Fernanda Yamamoto’s Summer 2011 collection is sweet to both mind and eye. Her debut at São Paulo Fashion Week earlier this month is an interpretation of aerial photos of the city. “I was inspired by the city of São Paulo but looked at it from a different point of view. The clouds played an important role in the inspiration, specifically because I looked at some images of clouds reflected in buildings.”

fernanda yamamoto cover.jpg
Fernanda Yamamoto Summer 2011


Thomas Mahon Fights It Out In England

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

Our unrestrained consumption of disposable goods reflects a disposable society. The amount of pride we take in our community can be measured by the energy devoted to securing its future. Handicrafts are a large part of our heritage and by nature aren’t disposable – they are made to last a lifetime. Thomas Mahon, a bespoke Savile Row tailor, spoke to me about his plan to build a vibrant community at Warwick Hall in Cumbria to, “…ensure [his] craft’s long-term survival and the happiness of the people working in it.”

mr sheppards shears.jpg
Mr. Sheppard’s shears


Sandra Backlund’s Perfect Combination of Tradition and Renewal

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

The intrinsic value of fashion as a function of art is diminished when we define it in terms of this season’s lines, shapes and the next must have accessory. Being a sucker for strict categorization, I am as guilty of this as anyone. Speaking with designers in an artistic capacity has reaffirmed for me the value of abstractions that set the mind wandering. Sandra Backlund’s design process with knits is often an exercise in discovering a garment’s shape, which may be lurking just beyond awareness. Improvising from ideas rather than sketches is what makes Backlund’s designs, such as those from “Diamond Cut Diamond”, so unique and progressive. “I think I work with design as a form of therapy. When others write poems to deal with themselves, I do fashion. Because I work like that I cannot tell you so much about how a specific collection develops. The only thing I know for sure about Diamond Cut Diamond is that I suddenly got obsessed by the story of diamonds. The typical symbol of wealth, power and success, they hold the interesting double nature as both a glamorous messenger of vanity and a natural everyday working tool. It is the ultimate combination of beauty and purpose.”

sandra backlund dcd cover.jpg
from Backlund’s “Diamond Cut Diamond” collection


Donna Rhae Marder’s Nonillusionist Drive

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

Perhaps it makes sense that Donna Rhae Marder has never made wearable garments aside from Halloween costumes. Pieces from her “Paper, Scissors, Thread” collection seem to be tailored to fit phantoms, the shapes molded by all of the small disappointments of girlhood. “In 2001 I began working on a series of little girls’ dresses. These works are material manifestations of lost girlhood. They are physical expressions of small disappointments, like unfulfilled parental fantasies, and large tragedies, like lost and missing children. The poetic foundation for this work is poignant but not hopeless. Despite heartache and loss, we can recall the bright hope and promise of every child and retire our fantasies. Finally, I named the pieces for specific girls, though I could have probably named them all for my own little self.”

snapshot dress (for catherine) 2004 sewn photographs papers and buttons suze 4 dress.jpg
Marder’s “Snapshot Dress” (for Catherine), sewn photographs, papers and buttons size 4 dress


Harris Tweed’s Mark of the Orb

Monday, October 9th, 2006

Recalling memories of raising sheep in southern Idaho is a life far removed from the constant city-hopping I’ve done over the past several years. The sheep operation was physically and financially demanding with little free time, but what I miss is my connection with natural surroundings, being part of a greater organic whole. Catherine Campbell, a Harris Tweed cloth producer from the Isle of Harris, relates to me this connection I’ve lost over the years: “Harris Tweed is well known for the colours of the cloth representing the landscape. I think the most beautiful colours are those we see around us, wool blends that have a touch of brown from the hills, yellow and red flecks of flowers, together with hints of purple heather or the different shades of blue, green and turquoise in the sea.”

harris tweed sheep tea cozie cover.jpg
Harris Tweed teacosy from Harris Tweed and Knitwear


Everlasting Sprout

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006

When I asked Noriko Seki and Keiichi Muramatsu of Everlasting Sprout what defines their aesthetic, they politely guided me back to the poetic concept for the label: “Sometimes we encounter something lovely and charming, Sometimes something cruel, even grotesque. ‘Something’ can easily leap across the boundaries of picture books, fairy tales, yet, music or paintings. We can feel ‘something’ in the texture, odor or even taste. ‘Something’ is hidden here and there…”. Something in the creations of Everlasting Sprout strikes a chord that refuses to be classified.

everlasting sprout ss 2007 5.JPG
Everlasting Sprout s/s 2007


Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts: Final Year Collections - Koji Arai

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

Koji Arai’s highly conceptual final year collection, “Last Supper”, highlights the intellectual possibilities of transitioning from a background in architecture to garment construction. Perhaps the most well-known example of this type is Miuccia Prada. A lesser-known but equally engaging example is Vincenzo de Cotiis, designer and founder of the “powerfully disciplined” label, Haute. The transition from architecture to fashion unifies these artistic disciplines, resulting in collections that provoke much thought.

koji 7.jpg
Koji Arai’s “Last Supper”


Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts: Final Year Collections - Mikio Sakabe

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

The Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts fashion show turned out brilliant collections this last June 15 – 17. It is near impossible to select favored collections over others - outside of technical considerations - because in the end it is a matter of taste. The following selections from the final year collections are favorites of mine. The first is Mikio Sakabe.

mikio 1.jpg
Mikio Sakabe