Saving the land doesn't necessarily mean a return to it. Especially if that means no more fashion...um, no thanks. Happily, there are innovative thinkers approaching the problem by working with Mother Nature, in particular with plant systems and their programming at the level of the cells. By tinkering in this area, they are able to biologically manufacture plants that produce nutritionally-supplemented foods and...fashionable accouterments.
The hybrid plant above produces strawberries in a Vitamin C-rich shade of black from the top end, while the root-end grows matching Haute Couture'ish lace. And like the Fragraria Fusca Tenebris (Strawberry Noir), Ocimum Basilicum Rosa would produce culinary and medicinal Basil No. 5 and a perfumed lace trim, while Solamum Lycopene Fabricae would yield both lace and a crop of tomatoes rich in Mother Nature's UV protective factor: lycopene.
Who knows how the Spinacia Aurea Electrica would taste but the fact your spinach came from a plant that grew micro-biological transistors for the electronics sector is nothing short of extremely cool. "This post 2050 scenario considers a radical mean to combine food production together with textile production, thus designing plants that could replace textile macherinery but also provide nutrients," explains Carole Collet of the Textile Futures Research Centre at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design about her project. "BioLace is a speculative design-led research project that investigates the intersection of synthetic biology and textile design to propose future fabrication processes for textiles. The motivation behind this research lies in the hypothesis that living technology can foster a new approach to address some of the key sustainable challenges of the 21st century." (via)
Here's the podcast I recorded about this eco-topian scenario and the FUTURENETICS fashion tribe:
If you've ever wished you could hide in plain sight but not blend into the background too boringly, then you probably intuitively understand the appeal of encasing yourself from toe to top of your head, face included, in a skintight nylon/spandex bodysuit. Zentai, it won't surprise you to know, originated - where else - in Japan during the 1980s. As it spread west, various companies began designing their own flashy versions, the flashiest of which is without a doubt the Morphsuits one festooned in 20,000 diamonds and priced accordingly. "If you like bling, shiny things and have £1million lying around," note the Morphsuiters (so named because "everyone who wore them morphed into a more fun version of themselves"), "the one and only Million Pound Morph is the morphsuit for you." (via)
The question for me is this: why would any morphsuit, diamond encrusted or otherwise, be for anyone?
"It’s like a portable safety blanket," explains one enthusiast, "like you’re pulling the sheets up over your head." While another compares it to "an all-over hug." What most everyone who enjoys zentai'ing as a normal part of daily life - grocery shopping; cooking dinner; playing video games with (non-morphsuited) pals - all seem to agree on is that they love the way the suits render them anonymous, invisible almost, and yet manage to turn them into a spectacle at the same time. (image)
And a touch cyborg'ish too, I think. The facelessness, in particular, makes the point of interest what's going on inside the suit. Which is what most of the Rich & Famous want to be loved for. Not their money, nor their flashily fabulous taste in morphsuits, but themselves. Which is a large part of what this trend speaks to, IMO. (image)
Here is the podcast I recorded about this morphsuit and how I think it fits into the vibe of the Supremium fashion tribe:
Resources are growing too scarce and our population too large for the fashion system to continue indefinitely along its current wasteful path. So what is to be done? The solution definitely includes less globalization and a lot more local wisdom. Which is also the name of an ongoing project at the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, part of the London College of Fashion.
Through a series of photoshoots in different countries involving volunteer locals, Local Wisdom collects stories, habits and practices of how we use clothing. After all, most of us have to wear clothes every day, making us kind of experts in the art of getting dressed. Our collective experience, ingenuity and freethinking is being tapped by the project as a way to switch some of the focus away from the buy-buy-buy product side of fashion and explore instead the final destiny of garments and the ways they are lived. An area many design schools simply don't address. To say nothing of the way resources are wasted in the process, including crops like cotton and what goes into growing, harvesting & processing them.
Local Wisdom has proved so successful that in order to communicate the knowledge, skills, themes, strategies and practices identified and developed, a project dubbed the Craft of Use was launched. The goal of both projects isn't to grow or maximize consumption, but to pace it - all while keeping fashion fabulous, relevant and interesting.
Heres' the podcast I recorded about this. Enjoy! :)
When our distant ancestors moved up the food chain past mere survival and protection to enhancing their physical surroundings - scratching lines onto sticks, chipping stone into tools and adorning the cave walls creatively - they were engaging in what French anthropologist Andre Leroi Gourhan has deemed a significant turning point in the history of humanity: taking our mental thoughts and exteriorizing and amplifying them into physical form. The result? Our lives improved and our powers expanded. "Our most basic instincts have been driving us to climb higher and higher ever since," observed Stefano Marzano when he was CEO & Chief Creative Director of Phillips Design (he's currently Chief Design Officer at Electrolux) in a really interesting essay "The Culture of Ambient Intelligence".
"Simply surviving is not enough," he continues. "We want to become invincible, immortal and essentially demi-gods - at all costs and as our top priority. This deep-seated human longing is widely reflected in myths and legends, and popular culture: in the Faust story, for instance, and in Superman, and Bionic Woman. It is also reflected in many religions, where gods or goddesses are often seen as all-powerful and in essentially human form." Our drive to be everywhere, do and know everything, enjoy more power - and all accomplished with a minimum of effort and maximum of comfort - lies at the heart of our collective wanderlust. While airplanes are considered passable because they can take us most places, Marzano notes that if flying was less like cattle transport and more like what a bird experiences, it would be far closer to the ideal. And being beamed around Star Trek style, would, of course, be the ultimate.
And this trio of wishing to be superhuman, desiring omniscience and craving comfort is what drove once-giant clocks to became slim wristwatches, phones & audio systems to be crammed into smart gadgets and room-filling computers to be slipped into a stylish sleeve - all manifestations of this extremely long-legged trend of Miniaturization. "Many of the devices that we have created to exteriorize and expand our powers will make the journey back inside us - and become effectively re-interiorized," he adds. "But why are we driven in this way? Simplifying, I believe, exists because we want to survive, to attain the highest possible levels of comfort and freedom, and to make sense of the world. Today, the means may be different, but the goal of our activities is the same: Empowerment through comfort, freedom and simplicity."
- Lesley Scott
(images via Phillips; Lascaux cave painting via Wikipedia)
This extremely offbeat finalist in the Project Greenway competition organized by the Columbia University School of Architecture is made using pulp containing fungal spores. When you inhale, airborn bacteria is filtered out; on the exhale, the seeds in the mask are encouraged to sprout thanks to the breath's moisture and carbon dioxide. And a surprising amount of C02 gets sequestered. "An average adult weighing 154 pounds exhausts 456 liters of carbon dioxide a day," notes designer Robert Ortega. "Encapsulating this from the breath can have a significant effect on the total greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."
Even cooler, once the mask takes root, it can be planted into soil. Small wonder this nifty "Green Screen" placed in the final five.
Savoring a luscious peach, ripened to absolute perfection. Lounging on an exotic island, bevvy in hand. Sitting behind the wheel of the Flying Spur from Bentley, relishing the feel of the hand-stitched leather seating (right), hand-carved woodwork and awesomeness of the 6-liter, 616-horsepower engine that goes 0-60 miles per hour in 4.3 seconds and can hit 200 mph.
Luxury may mean something different to everyone, but what everyone can agree on is the fact that time is involved. And lots of it.
Only after a decade's worth of study of up to 5,000 fragrance molecules will a perfumer be considered qualified to become a junior associate at a top fragrance house - add another 15 years before said perfumer is considered credible. At Hermès, the apprenticeship often starts early - as in, at home - where fathers and uncles toil away for years in leather shops before being permitted to stitch the lusted-after bags and shirts made from alligator skins retailing for just around $100,000.
Where this degree of time-intensive craftsmanship meets the finest raw materials and products - it's at this intersection that experts like Bentley's head, Christophe Georges and the US director for Krug, Carl Heline, agree defines and distinguishes luxury. "Luxury," adds Georges, "is something you cannot have easily."
But back to this $100K shirt. Whaaaaaa????!!!
It was designed by Veronique Nichanian, who has helmed menswear at Hermès'for more than 20 years and actually has the intent with designs like this tee to make them "wearable and not excessive" - a fact which kinda got overshadowed in the kerfluffle over the pricepoint. "We work a lot on the precious skins," she continues. "I love crocodile, I hate ostrich. I wanted to make a crocodile so soft and so I asked to do a special treatment. If you feel the garments we've done it feels like chiffon. We call it "crocodile chiffon" because it's really lightweight." Part of the charm of this"chiffon" croc tee, is, I think, the fact that despite the steep pricetag & endless hours of craftsmanship that went into making it, it's meant to be worn casually - sans pomp and circumstance. Which, I have to admit, is kind of cool. Fashion is often treated too defentially, too preciously - and this isn't that. Which I like. Spending on ultra-luxe items that either look a lot like their less spendy counterparts - except to someone in the know - or worn with a casual throwaway attitude is a growing trend amongst the members of the SUPREMIUM fashion tribe, the target market for items like:
- a backpack from The Row, the Olsen's higher-end line, made from Nile croc skins in collaboration with artist Damien Hirst & retailing for $55,000 (image)
- ripped-knee jeans from Balmain priced at $1,600
Here's the podcast I recorded about this - I hope you enjoy it!
Writing about the media is one way to examine the relationship between clothes and it. Another way? Wear clothing made from it. "Since 2004, I have been making "magazine clothes" which are made of old magazines," explains artist Movana Chen who shreds old magazines and then knits them into garments. "My idea is to play with deconstructing and reconstructing the shredded magazine papers, so that a certain meaning and content is given to these 'magazine clothes'." By creating "wearable art" for walking sculptures known as bodies, she dissects the way clothes and the media are related, shedding insight into our consumption of disposable commodities.
"The reconstructed paper pieces represent wishes, and are transformed into meanings about daily life. Even though the viewers might not understand those words printed on the shredded papers, the action they take in viewing implies communication, which then breaks the limitation of verbal language exchange. Through the knitting of these multi-languages hidden with the magazine papers, we learn about communication. It creates an alternative way of reading and exploring art as a
dialogue between visual language and the viewers. I beliver it is also a new approach to appreciate different cultures. My attempt is to explore the various methods to "wear" one's identity, to experiment and play with it, to create new opportunities for different cultures and identities and to begin the communication between one another."
For her ongoing “Travelling into your Bookshelf” project, she creates knitted dialogues around memories of books that have been donated to her by people from all over the world. "By exploring different cultures and the notion of chance through my knitting process, I attempt to establish relationships with the people I meet and to learn about their cultures by exploring their memories and maintaining a two-way communication. Through my knitting process with the participants, I hope to create a new way of reading that will let the viewers re-examine what human communication can be in a digitized society." (via)
For women fighting cancer, feeling good about the way they look goes beyond just vanity. The American Cancer Society found that almost 9 of every 10 women cancer patients reported feeling more confident about coping with their disease - when they felt they looked good. Of which hair plays a huge part. "It was very hard when my hair started falling out," observes one breast cancer survivor. "It really takes away who you are when you look in the mirror."
So Pantene teamed up with the American Cancer Society - the largest non-profit health organization committed to saving lives and improving the quality of life for people facing the disease - on Pantene Beautiful Lengths to help women (and men) grow strong, long beautiful locks. Once they're ready to "pony" up, the next step is to cut and donate their tresses to be made into real-hair wigs for women who have lost their hair due to cancer treatments.
Be sure to check out the videos above - there are two of them, just refresh your browser to watch the second one - to see Queen Latifah and other celeb royalty who proudly support this initiative.
To date, Pantene has donated 24,000 free real-hair wigs to the American
Cancer Society’s wig banks, which then distribute wigs to cancer
patients across the country. "We created Beautiful Lengths because healthy hair means a lot to us, and the appearance of healthy hair means so much to women battling cancer," explains Pantene. "We want to be there for women when looking and feeling healthy is so important to them."
- Lesley Scott
[Note: This was written in partnership with Pantene Beautiful Lengths. The words are mine.]
...and smart enough to have more than just a single Santa? (Try 13.)
Iceland is the latest groovy destination for the French brand's playful take on its sporty tradition which jetsets to cool places to unearth inspiring people. Like Gudmundur Ingi Ulfarsson and Hulda Vigdisadottir, the talented locals starring in the Lacoste L!VE campaign for Fall/Winter 2013-14.
Hulda is a model who lives to take photographs, especially of her native land which is so rich in geysers, glaciers, mountains, volcanos, sandy stretches, caves, waterfall and other enchanted settings. "I always want to tell stories with my pictures, whether it is a photo of a person in real-life or in a world that I made-up. I love the thought of huldufólk (the elves living in the hills, mounts and rocks) and how they make the nature magical."
Gudmundur is a graphic designer who makes music and has a "minimal but chaotic" approach to life, with "a touch of quirkiness."
Now if this fab video doesn't make you wanna drop everything, wear something cool from Lacoste (I'm all about that amaze snake print!) and book a ticket to Reykjavik - where, Gudmundur adds, you can expect "unpredictable weather, creative people & expensive beer" - you might think about rethinking your approach to life, sartorial or otherwise.
- Lesley Scott
[Note: This was written in collaboration with Lacoste L!VE. The words are 100% mine.]
"According to film and television, vampires, werewolves, and zombies are storming across our landscape, and alien invaders, asteroids, and airborne toxic events threaten us from the skies," observes Paul Cantor, a professor of literature at the University of Virginia and author of "The Invisible Hand in Popular Culture: Liberty vs. Authority in American Film and TV". The silver screen & small screen alike seem obsessed with an "ever-more-frenzied Dance of Death," he continues, "our entire civilization reduced to rubble and the few survivors forced to live a primitive existence in terror of monstrous forces unleashed throughout the land." (images: top; right)
Interestingly, in pondering why the Apocalypse remains such a fixture in pop culture, Cantor is of the mind that filmic apocalyptic musings have less to do with some kind of collective death wish and probably more to do looking at what life would be like in the absence of institutions we no longer trust, including:
- the medical establishment: from the debaucle of pay-for-play health-care insurance (in the US) to vaccination scandals to the way pharmaceuticals are prescribed like candy - and seemingly marketed that way by Big Pharma - the trust is largely gone. Instead, many turn to alternative medicine or turn the clock back to those grandma-worthy home remedies. Doctors are not held in the esteem they once were and few of us trust the overall structure anymore.
- education: schools can resemble holding pens until kids turn 18, turning out young people who, if determined enough, can graduate high school literally illiterate. Small wonder home-schooling has proved so popular.
- government: this is the biggie. Scandals, draconian cost cutting, corruption, collapses...governments seem to have grown to big & powerful for their own - and our - good.
So what would happen if these institutions that were thought were here to provide us with economic and social stability were to vanish? "Popular culture has stepped forward to offer Americans a chance to explore these possibilities imaginatively and to rethink the American dream," says Cantor. "Films and television shows have allowed Americans to imagine what life would be like without all the institutions they had been told they need, but which they now suspect may be thwarting their self-fulfillment. We are dealing with a wide variety of fantasies here, mainly in the horror or science fiction genres, but the pattern is quite consistent and striking, cutting across generic distinctions."
...the TV show "Revolution" - when all the world's electrical devices stop functioning, people once again rely on their personal survival skills given that one of the first things to go was the government.
..."Falling Skies" - aliens destroy civilization followed by, yes, governments. (Just Like Lisa Marie's martian on an assassination mission in Tim Burton's Mars Attacks! However, any aliens with full-on bouffants and drag-queen makeup are good by me...even if they do have murder in mind.)
..."The Walking Dead" - not only are government agencies not helpful, but it was one - the CDC - that weaponized smallpox and caused the zombie plague. Gee thanks, Big Government. "Zombification is a powerful image of what governments try to do to their citizens—to create a uniform, homogenous population, incapable of acting independently," adds Cantor. "Among their many meanings, zombies have come to symbolize the force of globalization. National borders cannot stop the zombie plague from spreading, and it evidently dissolves all cultural distinctions. The zombies lose their individuality, freedom of will, and everything that makes them human beings. With their herd mentality, they are precisely the kind of mass-men that impersonal institutions seek to produce, and in a curious way they represent the docile subjects that governments secretly—or not so secretly—desire."
And without institutions like government to protect us, who do we turn to?
Us. Ourselves, Our ingenuity. Our families, tribes and communities. In The Walking Dead, characters like Andrea may start off as the weak women of stereotype, but learning to shoot and kill zombies transforms her into a powerful character not longer expecting men - or the government - to save her. Instead, now saves herself and others through her skill and reliance on herself. Which is the antithesis of the government-loving zombie that, collectively, keep governments large and in charge. (image)
"The aim [of these shows] seems to be to reduce the size of government radically and thereby to bring it closer to the people," continues Cantor. "Cut back to regional or local units, government becomes manageable again and ordinary people get to participate in it actively, recovering a say in the decisions that affect their lives. In cases where the apocalyptic event dissolves all government, these shows in effect return people to what political theorists call the state of nature...No longer locked into institutions already in place, the public gets to assess their value and see if it really needs them or might be better off under other arrangements or perhaps no government at all." (reclaimed Coca Cola aluminium apocalypse glasses by Vivienne Westwood)
And what filmed genre tends to become popular when normal life feels like a prison? A home on the range. Yes, Westerns. "Dramas set in the Wild West provided an imaginative escape from the safe and boring world of modern institutions—an image of a rugged, frontier existence, in which earlier Americans, especially men, were on their own and could act heroically in their struggle with hostile and dangerous environments." Just substitute the role than Indians were assigned in Wild West movies - that of lurking hordes threatening to rampage through civilization and wipe it out - and in their place put zombies. Or aliens. Or alien-zombies. "Like the Indians in many Westerns, the zombies are nameless and virtually faceless, they never speak, and they may be killed off indiscriminately, with their genocide being the apparent goal."
Which is good news. Because beneath the bloody, brain-spattered mayhem lies an imaginative "re-opening" of the frontier. A place where the besieged characters can shake off the shackles of The Man and return to a state closer to their real nature. Sure, the cost is prosperity and security - which are just things - and in their place, "rugged individualism, the spirit of freedom, independence, and self-reliance."