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

archive for the 'Fashion' department

Stella Jean’s Migratory Patterns

Friday, October 16th, 2015

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been in the Southwest, hiding out among the saguaros and pretending that the Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS) blimp suspended over the Huachuca Mountains isn’t the Homeland Security’s Eye of Sauron trained on those with nothing but hope trying to find their way to a better life, but a giant fish giving me a coy, silvery wink from his sky aquarium. This has apparently fine-tuned my tastes such that Stella Jean’s Spring 2016 show left me with more than just a passing impression, as opposed to most other Fashion Month collections.

It turns out that Jean’s show is doing double-duty as both a fiesta for my eyeballs and a political statement (I’d like to think that the safety glasses are a political, rather than fashion statement). Jean herself being of Italian-Haitian descent, the collection - as worn by a multiracial cast - comments on Italy’s migrant identity with a multicultural mix of prints and variations on South American traditional dress. As national identity and immigration are very hot topics both here and abroad, the collection is timely. And the fifties pin-up hair is a nice touch. Some favorite looks:

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Vanessa Emirian’s Circulate

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Always a sucker for the sculptural, I was enchanted by Vanessa Emirian’s Circulate collection shown as part of the National Graduate Showcase at VAMFF 2015 in Melbourne last week.

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A look from Vanessa Emirian’s Circulate collection. The wonderful photos above and below are by Ramen Spoonz.


Emirian tells Hope Street Magazine that she was influenced by polka-dotted legend Yayoi Kusama. I remember clearly that it was the Kusama issue of So-En that got me hooked on the magazine.

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Yayoi Kusama demonstrating to the breathless crowd how she subdues a wild polka dot.

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Yayoi Kusama in So-En Magazine, May 2004.

Lady in Concrete

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

I had just read about the newly restored Hollyhock House when I did my afternoon gambol to and read Tim Blanks mention it in his write-up on Rick Owens’ Fall 2015 collection. Am I reading the Internet’s mind, or is it reading mine? Or are we ONE???

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Rick Owens Fall 2015

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Mayan Revival Hollyhock House in L.A.

On to other Fall 2015 memory game matches. So as soon as I saw Gareth Pugh’s show-closing Britannia…

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…my mind went here:

Kevin O’Neill’s Britannia in latex from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Century: 2009

I would not have questioned it if this look from Marko Mitanovski’s latest was buried deep within Charles Fréger’s Wilder Mann photo stream:

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Marko Mitanovski Fall 2015, detail.

Wilder Mann, photos by Charles Fréger:

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Visions in Nude and Corsages Close to the Heart

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Last week during São Paulo Fashion Week, “something magical happened” in designer Paula Raia’s new house. Paola de Orleans e Bragança of says that Raia’s S/S 2015 collection

nailed something that Brazil, and anyone interested in Brazil, has been craving for years: a precise, elegant, non-clichéd representation of the Brazilian essence translated into fashion. Using sisal, string, traditional embroideries, and tones that evoke wood, dirt, and the origin of Brazil’s name: the red tones of the earth that led to the association with embers (“brass” in Portuguese).

In his summing up of SPFW, Jorge Grimberg, also of, similarly praises Raia’s presentation as, “…unquestionably one of the strongest of the season, with a vision on nude and natural hues mixed in different textures. The show provided a new, authentic, long-awaited Brazilian aesthetic, a mix of nature, architecture, and culture that just felt right.”

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Paula Raia S/S 2015

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Paula Raia S/S 2015

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Paula Raia S/S 2015

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Paula Raia S/S 2015

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Paula Raia S/S 2015, detail

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Paula Raia S/S 2015, detail

Again, I generally don’t give menswear collections a second glance, but then there’s Mai-Gidah by Alec Ali Abdulrahim. The creative and emotional stamp on his latest collection, “In loving memories”, refuses to be ignored. According to his conversation with Branko Popović, the collection was, ‘…a means of processing the past’.

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Mai-Gidah A/W 14/15

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Mai-Gidah A/W 14/15

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Mai-Gidah A/W 14/15

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Mai-Gidah A/W 14/15

What a talented fellow.

Monstrology by LES’

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

Meant to post these images from the new collection by LES’ a couple of days ago. What an enchanting start to Spring:

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LES’ is by Moscow-based designer Lesia Paramonova and the beautiful photos are by Alina Valitova, many more of which are over at Thisispaper.

Sebastian Masuda’s Colorful Rebellion

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Not much of a heads-up, but kawaii evangelist Sebastian Masuda’s exhibit, “Colorful Rebellion” opens tonight at Kianga Ellis Projects in NYC and runs until March 29th. According to the gallery, “From March 6 - 9, 2014, Masuda-san’s alter ego and female self will inhabit the gallery during open hours”.

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Sebastian Masuda and his “kawaii anarchy”.

Masuda designed the set for my guilty pleasure. Oops, couldn’t resist a period there. By guilty pleasure I mean NHK’s Kawaii International (yay for Tokyo Photo Book!), co-hosted by extraordinary local gal, Misha Janette.

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Still from Kawaii International’s intro. Set by the show’s art director, Sebastian Masuda.

And while we’re on the subject of kawaii, these Manish Arora high tops are awesome:

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Manish Arora, Fall 2014.

“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.”

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


Fabrice Monteiro’s Signares

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

On show at Seattle’s M.I.A Gallery through August 30th is Signares and Hereros, portraits shot by Fabrice Monteiro and Jim Naughten. While Naughten’s photos might be more recognizable, Monteiro’s are no less enchanting. The subjects of the model-turned-photographer’s first exhibit in the U.S. are descendants of the signares of Senegal’s Petite Côte, south of Dakar (where he lives and works). On what a signare is, exactly, the gallery’s site says, “These women of power from Senegal were the official wives of European colonizers…Celebrated for their beauty and business mind, they played an important role in the socio-economic development of Senegal.” And so this heritage is communicated through dress:

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Unrelated work from Monteiro below. I can’t resist, they’re so good:

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Chess, Vilmava, Tenuous Connections and Jung

Friday, May 31st, 2013

Came across a couple of things in short order, sparking a connection in spite of myself. (Reason gives a watery roll of the eyes over its book and bifocals. It tries to look casual leaning on the granite mantel, which pulls uncomfortably at the inseam of its jacket. A sad sight, so I go on spiting.) The connection? Chess. Too impatient to be good at it. When pressed for tactics my brain becomes a slip-n-slide. Thoughts can’t gain traction and race off the edge, getting a friction burn on the grass.

Yesterday The Cut reported on an upcoming fashion exhibit that makes a tenuous connection - they prefer to call it a collision - between fashion and chess (ok, so there is Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2005 show):

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A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes, Fashion and Chess will be held at the World Chess Hall of Fame in Saint Louis, Missouri. It opens on October 19th and runs through April 18th, 2014. “…Jungian archetypes and archetypal patterns in literature, film, fashion photography and folktales will be used to examine the relationships between power, risk-taking, as well as feminine roles in queen archetypes and the representations of those roles in the designers’ works.” Included in the lineup is Koji Arai, one of the most talented and intelligent designers I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing. The unusual setting alone makes the exhibit worth going to, but it will also be a treat to see how they make the connection between Jungian archetypes and the works featured.

A little later, in a completely unrelated search, I came across these wonderful looks from Vilmava’s “Mitosis” collection by Finnish designer Vilma Riikijoki. In the image below they appear to be playing chess:

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From Vilmava’s “Mitosis” collection. Photo by Aleksia Perä-Rouhu.

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Model Meri during the making of. Photo by Eetu Heinonen.

Vilmava’s Mitosis collection was inspired by, “…cellular biology and fluorescent photography. Riitijoki aims to honor and praise the invisible authors, who build breathtaking worlds all around us. Mitosis is purely an art collection, not based on industrial or commercial principles. Leather is recycled. The process was experimental and the last of it’s kind.”

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Riikijoki at work.

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An impressive sketch.

It is interesting to note that instead of Paris or London, Riikijoki has opted to spend six months studying in Vilnius, Lithuania. For those in the area, Vilmava will make a showing in Berlin this July.

Finding meaning where there is none. It’s what I do. Maybe coming across the fashion exhibit and Vilmava within an hour of each other isn’t a coincidence after all. Maybe there’s a little synchronicity at play.

The Girl With A Galleon In Her Hair

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Not really, but it sounds good. Reminds me of something out of So-En:

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Styled by Kaarina Bykonen, a student at the Toni & Guy Academy in Bellingham, WA for the Reign of Style Hair Show and Competition last Sunday at the Seattle Center. Original photo by Bettina Hansen for the Seattle Times.

More Toni & Guy magic. This is what happens when you partner hair stylist Efi Davies and costume designer Kate Forbes:

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Photo by Stuart Weston, 2006.

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Photo by Danilo Giuliani (?), 2010.