For many members of the Supremium tribe - the fashion tribe that is part of the elite ultra-wealthy class and understands that while money can't buy you taste and style...it certainly helps - when you have money for anything you could desire to do, be or experience in life, what's on the holiday agenda? Probably a jaunt to London to stay for a spell in Mayfair at Claridge's, taking traditional afternoon tea in the foyer, quaffing vintage champagnes
and rare spirits at the bar and enjoying after-dinner drinks in the Fumoir (below).
Claridge's is an atmospheric, art deco of a hotel jewel in London and their grand Christmas tree has long added some additional sparkle to the city's holiday shine, attracting locals, visitors and guests alike. And special guests have, for the fourth year now, been invited to create and decorate the tree in a manner that celebrates the generous spirit of the season both glamorously and with signature style. This year, the lucky tree decorators are long-time fans of the hotel, fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana who are drawing on their southern Italian heritage with a bespoke frame made of multi-colored "luminarie" housing hand-painted glass baubles and hand-crafted Sicilian puppets known as "pupi". "Our Christmas tree isn’t only a celebration of Christmas as we celebrate
it in Italy, but it’s at the same time a tribute to the artisanal
Italian tradition, the same that we love to export worldwide with
everything we do," note signors Dolce & Gabbana. “When we think of London we always think of Claridge’s and of its
typically English atmosphere that fascinates us and makes us fall in
love with the city every time as if it were the first." (pupi image)
The new tree will be unveiled in Claridge’s on November 26th 2013.
There's more to Halloween costume'ness than seXXXY undead chicks, naughty nurses and kurvacious kittens. Instead, here are some fun, creative (and dare I say it...wholesome) ideas for costumes inspired by Halloween-happy celebs including Elle Fanning, Kelly Osbourne, Scott Disick, Sandra Bullock and of course the undisputed Queen of Halloween: Heidi Klum!
So much of what we think we know about what one wears for a fun night out at jetsetting casino was probably made at the movies...but unlike the Hollywood fantasy, showing up in real life dripping in jewels, festooned in furs and clad in a formal red carpet gown will generally prove a tad much. (Which is why one should never turn down the chance to attend a casino party if the invite states "James Bond Casino Royale them" or even "Retro Gangster". Either are a great excuse to get your tresses done, shimmy into a full-length gown, get blinged out and slip on as many furs as possible.) A happy medium can mean wearing your go-to LBD in places like London or Paris (and do make sure your male arm candy is in a snazzy suit and tie); alternatively, an on-trend maxi dress looks terrific out and about in the evening and is a comfortably chic alternative to a regular cocktail dress plus maxis look great with flats. Bonus! For stag nights or a little something different than just being up at the club (yawn), jeans in a dark wash look snazzy, especially with a stylish blouse and big heels. The trick to wearing something casual (but smart!) on the bottom half is balancing it with a more formal piece on top, like a blazer or cashmere knit such as cardi, which can be removed if things start to heat up. However, if you really have a jones on to casino but insist on doing so in your comfy jeans and oldest tee, you can always just play roulette from the homey comfort of your couch.
What if, instead of dispatching ourselves into oblivion, we were able to fix things enough to change the course of events, replacing our wasteful and earth-trashing ways with a world where...
...90% of our power is from renewable sources.
....cities like Detroit are now models of eco-chic living.
....one of the world's largest construction projects has become the site of so much tree-planting as to have been renamed the Great Green Wall of China.
Author Jonathon Porritt decided we probably have enough bleak Apocalyptic scenarios already and penned a fictional breath of fresh air: a novel about how we averted much gloom and certain doom. "Some people have always been more drawn to dystopian visions of the future," explains the author of The World We Made: Alex McKay's Story from 2050. "The reality is that there are good reasons to be quite gloomy about our future prospects—climate change is quite simply the biggest threat that mankind has ever faced. But rubbing people’s noses in the apocalypse isn’t likely to get them more involved—it just leaves them feeling crushed and disempowered."
This vein of optimism is encouraging to find in a topic-area normally associated with a prepare-for-the-worst outlook, be it Doomsday prepping or wearing Mad Max'ish attire complete with at least one gas mask.
Fortunately, there are a group of designers who aren't content to just throw up their hands and become fashion fatalists in graphic tees emblazoned with hazard symbols or Bansky gas masks, but are instead devoting their efforts toward sartorial solutions, such as:
The “Walking Shelter” (top & below) is a one-person shelter & "mobile habitat" designed by Australian design collective Sibling, that uses the human body in place of poles or a frame and when not in use, can be tucked into a pair of sneakers. (via)
To dress for egress, shimmy into this “Portable Home” (below) designed by three students at Middlesex University in London. The skirt can be morphed into a tent that not only has a shelf for stashing books & mementos, but a "window" with a view as well. (via)
And this clever padded parka by Tom Dixon for Adidas can turn into a sleeping bag:
Although these designs may not come off initially as "futuristic" or "apocalyptic", they are. Why? Because they venture to quietly solve a problem and in the process create something novel. (Much like the fog of the Carl Sandburg poem which slips in on "little cat feet".) However, designs that ostentatiously deem themselves "futuristic" are generally rehashed and unoriginal. After all, how often has the body-con Star Trek uniform been dragged out & retooled (usually superficially) to convey "Future!" Alternatively, the other go-to stock
phrase from the Playbook of Futuristic Fashion is to style something to look like it was dredged up from the Black Lagoon and then blinged out. (Like this wonderful Mugler "Chimere" creation from the late 90s that I'm insanely in love with.)
However, when we come across the actual future - those events or discoveries that determine the road ahead - they are usually generic-looking enough to be unrecognizable as anything too paradigm-shifting.
Take the bikini (below) made from nylon beads. So 60s, no? Not really - when
you consider the fact it was actually printed out in 3-D using small nylon beads as the "ink" and then fitted using a CAD-scan of the wearer's body. "However
spooky in terms of the technology that produced it," observes author William Gibson about the difference between "futuristic" and the actual future,"it doesn't strike us, on sight, as particularly futuristic."
Essentially, what separates the "futuristic" from the actual future is function. The former tends to focus on the outlandish for its own sake - which does have a certain artistic merit, more along the lines of telling us about how we see ourselves right now - while the latter
reflects breakthroughs in fabric technology. One of the last big breakthroughs in fabric was spandex; B.S. (Before Spandex), the only way for flat fabric to accommodate our non-flat curves was with darts, seams, bias cuts and other construction techniques. However, A.S., designers weren't required to always dart
and seam for shape, giving rise to new possibilities in silhouette, cut, performance.
NOTE: For you trendspotting types, the place to really apply your future-feelers is in the area of new fabrics and fabric technologies.
Fabric technology and expanding the performance of fabric characterized the massively influential but oddly under-the-radar Italian designer Massimo Osti. The graphic designer turned sportswear innovator, who also amassed a collosal collection of around 35,000 different unusual fabrics, invented techniques for rubberizing satin, flax & wool; creating novel ways to dye fabrics; and even engineered a fabric which changed color as the outside temperature changed. Not surprisingly, he still has a cult following for vintage pieces he designed under his various labels, including Stone Island, C.P. Company and Left Hand. Probably the reason Osti's stuff resists looking dated & vintage-kitschy is that his design aesthetic was driven by functionality, giving it that streamlined timelessness that characterizes truly forward-looking fashion in which to sail stylishly into the Apocalytical future.
Why not check out the podcast I recorded about this?
He populated an exhibition landscape with a smattering of shimmery reflective pools filled with molten wax. Then he strapped models into robotic harnesses and plunged them into the liquid until the wax crystallized around their curves in layer upon waxy layer. These body-encasing, architectural forms seemed to resemble 3D printer-drawings done directly on the models as they emerged, dripping wet and encased in a
ready-made prosthetic. Suspended from hooks, the wax body molds resembled floating sartorial spirits and formed quite the collection of "strange beasts and frozen avatars...creating an analogy between the corruption of the body and the corruption of software," explains Hess, predicting "a future of cyborg couture, where glitches play across our skin and transform our bodies."
These digital artefacts were a highlight of the recent Lisbon Architecture Triennale 2013 and featured in a fictional metropolis designed and developed by scientists, designers, artists, sci fi authors and technologists. Curated by architect Liam Young, Future Perfect, this imaginary place provided a very real venue for pondering possible scenarios to come, including the large-scale districts that our future mega-cities may very well contain. "It is a speculative urbanism, an exaggerated present, where we can explore the wonders and possibilities of emerging biological and technological research and envision the possible worlds we may want to build for ourselves," explain the organizers of Future Perfect. "Some of us will be swept up in what the city could be, others will be reserved and look on with caution." While we may not yet have walked these specific streets, lined as they are with what may come, speculating intelligently about them is something we can and indeed should do. "The future is not something that washes over us like water, it is a
place we must actively shape and define. Through fictions we share ideas
and we chronicle our hopes and fears, our deepest anxieties and our
Practicality matters as well, obviously, in particularly considerations about:
Landscapes can include both the space surrounding cities as well as what we surround our bodies with: textiles. Textiles, as envisioned by Hess, will honor our unique bumps and lumps in a way that celebrates the human present in the cyborg and provides a platform for the youth culture of Future Perfect to use their bodies to experiment, adapt and augment. (Not unlike today in many ways, just way more extreme.) "By moulding within their costumery all the imperfections of a decaying scan file," adds Hess, "they [will] celebrate the corruption of the body data."
Here's the PODCAST which accompanies this post about Bart Hess, his Future Perfect wax garments & the FUTURENETICS fashion tribe:
After gliding onto the the highly-anticipated, parazzi-lined red carpet and ascending the steps of the venerable Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York en route to the Costume Institute Ball to celebrate the opening of the latest fashion exhibition, for 2014 it will be Charles James: Beyond Fashion - you pause. Before air-kissing everyone-who's-anyone in Fashionland, why not take a moment to survey the masses of Little People behind the cameras who have to work this event in order to bring glamorous pix of you to the even Littler People. Yes, the masses in line like cattle at the grocery store...during which time they grab a celeb rag and escape - thanks to you, Ms. Supremium! - into a world where everyone is gorgeously-attired, fabulous, rarified. (image)
"Do you want me to be honest? It sucked," Gwyneth Paltrow confessed on Australian radio after last year's after last year's "Punk: Chaos to Couture" shindig which paid homage to a very non 1% faction in society. "It seems like the best thing in the world," she continued. "You think, ‘Oh my God, it’s going to be so glamorous and amazing, and you’re going to see all these famous people.’ And then you get there, and it’s so hot, and so crowded, and everyone’s pushing you. This year it was really intense. It wasn’t fun! And . . . I feel that we’re all a bit old to be dressed punk."
Age-appropriate attire issues aside, the event's organizers which include Vogue editrix Anna Wintour are certainly undertaking heroic measures to rectify the riff-raff problem by eliminating the two price tiers. Last year, there were tickets available for both $15,000 and $25,000, while for 2014, all tickets will go for a single price: $25K. “Increasing the ticket price will make the Met Gala even more high-fashion," opines one source, and "even more exclusive and even more aspirational.”
By "aspirational" I'm assuming this source means exclusive. Making the event more exclusive should eliminate some of the crowding and pushing that Gwyneth found so annoying, paving the way for a much more genteel experience. Experience, after all, is what the people who can afford $25,000 a ticket are after these days. The Supremium fashion tribe, aka the super-rich, - now I'm not talking merely "rich" here, I'm talkin' *wealthy* (Chris Rock, "Never Scared") - are spending far more on memory-making vacations, for instance, than on possessions such as cars, jewelry or fashion. Pricewise, for whatever reason, they seem to gravitate toward the magic $25K pricetag as that's the minimum amount the majority are spending on vacationing and leisure pursuits.
Home renovations are the other big category the rich love to throw money at - what IS it about people with money & constant home makeovers?? I guess without shady contactors, spendy delays and other home-reno horror-stories, what would you have to commiserate about with the other members of Richistan?
(gorgeous fashion illustration of the rarified & monied atmosphere of Haute Couture by David Downton)
Be sure to check out the Podcast I recorded about this Supremium-priced event which includes clips from that Gwyneth interview & one from Chris Rock!
The original Golden Age of taxidermy may have occurred during the Victorian era, but of late, interest has been growing in dead things artfully preserved for our delight and delectation. This revival, with its fresh spin on an old craft - is one of the specialities of the FOLKSPUN fashion tribe.
Like this amazing turquoise parakeet-festooned shoe by bespoke shoemaker Caroline Groves, who learned from a John Lobb-trained master craftsman in the Cotswolds. The claw is solid silver and the heel carved by hand, while the wings of the avian accessory are the ultimate in handmade...made by Mother Nature. However, this one-of-a-kind'ness isn't the only reason taxidermy appeals to the Folkspun tribe. There is also the memento-mori'ish element of death as well, as taxidermy artist Polly Morgan has observed. "I first thought of taxidermy when I was looking for art for my flat. The problem was, I didn't find anyone creating what I was looking for," she notes. "Rather than the traditional way of rendering them to look exactly as they had in life...I wanted animals to look dead."
So she quit shopping and began creating.
Morgan (right) recently teamed up with UK fashion brand Mother of Pearl which based the Fall/Winter 2013/14 collection of some of Morgan's pieces, including 2009's Dead Ringer, Still Birth (2010) & Bad Breath (2011). "Polly Morgan’s artwork dismantles taxidermy traditions and places her subjects in less expected surroundings," explain the brand's design team. "Her intention has never been to mimic the natural habitats of animals, as they are traditionally displayed, but to place them in less expected scenery. The scale and settings are often unnatural, but the animals are never anthropomorphised. Seeing them out of place encourages us to look at them as if for the first time: a rat sheds its association with horror and disease and can be rightly viewed as a beautiful animal."
As are we, both outside - and in. "Once you peel back the skin and see the body beneath, there lies a whole new world," continues Morgan. "By knowing animals, I now know myself, how I am put together, and understand the lumps and bumps under my own skin. It's frightening to realize how fragile we are. Now that I know where to aim," she adds, "it'd be so easy to chop off a hand."
Be sure to check out the PODCAST I recorded about taxidermy, the Folkspun tribe & even Innerspace, an awesome cheesy movie from the 80s starring Dennis Quaid:
The End Times have been grandly predicted hundreds of times in the past, beginning - on record, at least - with the ancient Romans of 634BC who feared the end was nigh when Rome turned 120. Sextus Julius Africanus revised his Doomsday date to the year 800, while in 1186, John of Toledo confirmed that the planetary alignment was primed for our destruction in 1186. Martin Luther placed his bets on "no later than 1600 and Cotton Mather was forced to revise his prediction of 1697 to 1716 when the former failed to materialize. Harriet Livermore (1847), Seventh Day Adventist Margaret Rowen (1925), astrologer Jeane Dixon (1962), Pat Robertson (2007) and fundamentalist Mormon Warren Jeffs (2012) have all been famously wrong. Going forward, Dixon decided to have another crack at it and gives us until 2020, while Sir Isaac Newton's read of the Bible places the date in 2060.
Suffice it to say, Armageddon Prediction is probably not the most rewarding of career choices.
The fact that these various (false) prophets of doom & gloom accurately hone in on people's fears and yet are so consistently W-R-O-N-G makes it unsurprising to me that the Apocalytic fashion tribe - which is prepping for the Apocalypse, but with an eye on style - has two distinct flavors. The first is the most obvious: the very head-to-toe tough leather, Mad Max-channeling fashion badass which takes the predictions (somewhat) seriously. They rock Matrix-style kung-fu leather made for badassery - meaning that when you wear it, you can actually engage in activities like moving, eating & breathing.
The second group, while concerned about the looming threat of total annihilation, is also of the mind that all the predictions have turned out to be bunk. So while the predictions worry them...a bit...they only take them half seriously. And the other half? It's out partying like there's no tomorrow since there probably won't be one. Any blow-out party worth its festive salt requires one hell of a getup. Besides, the monied classes have a long history of dressing up and pretending the good times will never end...right up until the end.
That's why I'm not surprised to see the party-mad Apocalytics attempting to follow in the fashionista-extraordinaire footsteps of Effie Trinket (The Hunger Games) and dressing in a kind of hyper-whimsical way that reminds me of those awesome 80s glam Hair Bands. Just like the 80s hair dudes, Apocalytical tresses are ever higher (and closer to god) while their shared love of makeup would make a clown convention look demure. There is similarly much wearing of leopard by both groups, the silhouettes are sexy and body-con (but not in any way particularly pragmatic) and while the accessories reference "tough", the context makes them silly - fingerless leather driving gloves, anyone?
This *thumb your nose at the forces that be* sartorial vibe is strong in the upcoming "Capital Couture" collection by movie costumer Trish Summerville - cue the laser-cut leathers, over-the-top evening finery and streamlined silhouette, all conveniently timed to drop on Net-a-Porter along with the November release of her work in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. “This is also brilliant fashion in its own right," adds Holli Rogers, the Fashion Director of Net-a-Porter, "and we’re delighted to provide our customers with the chance to purchase limited-edition pieces designed by one of the most original costume designers in the industry today.”
"At some point in the not-too-distant future, biotechnology is going to give the designers the biggest set of complex new materials and tools they have ever had the opportunity to work with," observes Amy Congdon, a graduate from Central Saint Martins with an MA in Textile Futures who is now pursuing a PhD at Textile Futures Research Centre; the Centre is part of the University Of The Arts London (UAL), a community of practice-based, design-led researchers all tackling the same issue: how can materials and textiles enable a more sustainable future? Congdon's "Biological Atelier" project explored some of the implications of new materials that are "living" and how areas like tissue-engineering will impact textile skills such as embroidery.
In a world where materials and fabrics are not longer manufactured but grown, will we...
...manipulate our bodies to grow jewelry for the season?
...forgo cosmetic surgery in favor of tissue that is engineered and designed to be disposable?
...embellish the temporary graft-tissue with gemstones?
...drape ourselves in cross-species fur and adorn ourselves with ethically-grown ivory?
As the role of the fashion and accessories designer change, blurring with that of artist with craftsman with scientist, what will fashion look like in the biotechnological future of, say, 2080?
These images are from Congdon's "Bio Nouveau" collection for Fall/Winter 2082, an era when couture pieces are tissue-engineered until the next fad or trend emerges, at which time they are disposed of.
The Futurenetics fashion tribe seeks to temper the cutting edge of high-tech with some good ole-fashioned, low tech humanity. Using fashion as a vehicle to explore how research will impact our daily lives does a great service to the rest of us by helping to make it more understandable and therefore less frightening. And pretty fabulous, judging by Amy Congdon's capsule collection.
Here's the PODCAST I recorded about this FUTURENETICS fashion collection for 2082:
It's of the tiny, bony apparatus in the inner ear, the cochlea, which has three arching & semicircular canals to control our balance and a seashell-like part for hearing. The really cool thing about this anatomically-correct and actual-size piece is that it's 3D printed - in either sterling silver or gold-plated stainless steel.
When money is no object, it's fun to see what people buy - which is why I enjoy observing & commentating on the doings of this fashion tribe which I've dubbed the Supremiums. Being really rich means being able to afford to underwrite some pretty pricey performance art - like wantonly destroying a $100,000 red-croc Birkin handbag.
But any performance art worth being called art should provoke - annoyance, anger, outrage...the darker the emotions, the better (IMO). And this lil' stunt by celeb photog Tyler Shields and his GF Francesca Eastwood, the 19 year old daughter of Clint, cleverly spans the lot, not to mention generating an Hermes bag's worth of PR. The duo bought a lipstick red croc Birkin, a $200 chainsaw and $4 worth of gasoline. First, they chainsawed the bag & then set it alight, followed by another once-over with the chainsaw. "Destruction," notes Shields, "is a beautiful version of freedom."
He has a point.
We're a lot like the image at top, watching our Frankenlife go up in flames while we stand by - lips laquered the same ruby red as the bag, perfectly made up, elegantly coiffed. What to make of a society that waitlists a six-figure purse but lets nations starve, genocides occur, kills the oceans with disposable plastic and looks the other way when impoverished countries force legions of small children to work as sweatshop slaves? Why is destroying a frivolous status bag - which, I should mention, is made from crocodiles raised by Hermes specifically to be killed, dyed & turned into accessories - any more egregious than what we've collectively inflicted on ourselves, our society, our planet?
Actually, there is something satisfyingly "occupy Wallstreet" about it. It's also a genius way to up your profile, drive website traffic & create insta-buzz....so much so, I kinda wish I had thought of something similar.
"Do you want this bag?" Shield asks. "Are you sad to see me destroy it?"
No. Yes & no, both.
Check out my PODCAST about this SUPREMIUM TRIBE stunt: