Dutch Design Week 2013 explored the cutting edge of fashion, synthetic biology and 3D printing, with enough of the manmade in the mix to keep the looks from feeling too alien. "We tried to make it about technology and innovation, as well as handcraft," explains curator Ellen Albers of the Eindhoven shop You Are Here. They collaborated with the local Glamcult Studio on the Modebelofte 2013 Future Fashions exhibition highlighting young design talent that has worked with technologists, created experimental new materials or recycled old ones in surprising ways.
Like the piece above from the architecture-inspired "Object 12-1" collection by Majita Cop, a graduate student of Fashion Design at the Faculty of Textile Design of the University in Zagreb. The main theme of his work is "the question of identity." Question identity as it might, it immediately made me think of fashion history during the Renaissance, from the shoulder "wings" to the hip-enhancing tunic to the soft beret. Not surprisingly, the chiseled stone of the Šibenik cathedral which inspired this collection is quite old, dating from the year 153.
When designers look to the past, it always brings the chopine to mind for me. While the inspiration isn't as old as Cop's stone church, it's arguably far more colorful! In fact, chopines got so stilt-like by the 17th century that traveler John Evelyn noted in his diary of 1666 the shoes left women "half flesh, half wood." Even Shakespeare weighed in via Hamlet: "By'r lady, your ladyship is nearer to heaven than when I saw you last, by the altitude of a chopine."
Now mind you, Santa, I'm not asking for an entire new wardrobe - more just some stylish stuff from my fave London store to spice up my sartorial side a bit. What's that? Oh, a coat - definitely...by Barbour, preferably. Some fabulous perfume from Dolce & Gabbana (plus a tube or 10 of their amaze lipstick would be lovely). And one of their bags, of course. Pardon? Yes, exactly, the snakeskin tote. A Paul Smith cardi...plus if there's any room left in your sack, some glovescarfkeychain. Huh? No, that should do nicely!
Thanks Santababy (and Harrods) - you're the best!
xo Lesley Scott
GET THE LOOK: coat - Barbour "Outlaw"; cardi - Paul by Paul Smith; ankle boots - Carvela Kurt Geiger "Spin"; fragrance - Dolce & Gabbana "Velvet Desire"; scarf, gloves & keychain - Paul Smith; degrade python tote - Dolce & Gabbana "Miss Lily" - all Harrods.com
[Note: This was written in partnership with Harrods. The words & opinions are mine.]
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!
Along with rich, famous & fabulous, Nicklas Bendtner can now add designer to his resume. While footballing for Arsenal is the official day job, when he's off the clock, he dabbles in making cool jewels for fashionistos. "It has always been my dream to create a jewellery collection for men," explains the handsome Dane about his stingray, silver and black-diamond pieces. "And it must - of course - be jewellery that does not look like anything else on the market."
The "Classic" collection of rings and bracelets are available in seasonal hues and are striking enough to wear out, but sufficiently sturdy to play sports in. The "Wildlife" collection (my fave), also contains necklaces and includes:
- an eagle, considered a ruler of the sky which symbolizes courage and perspective;
- a bear (power & strength);
- a cobra (craftiness & mystery);
- a whale - above (it rests in itself);
- & a lion (being a born leader).
"The jewelry has edge and attitude," continues Bendtner. "It is exclusive and unique." And is cool enough for ladies who like to borrow from the boys. "To my surprise, lots of women have shown a huge interest in our Collections." Enough so that he designed special pieces just for his feminine fans.
NOBLE by Bendtner is available in Denmark and internationally in Pacific Palisades, California.
- Lesley Scott
[Note: This was written in collaboration with NOBLE by Bendtner. The words are mine.]
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)
Pantene Volume has a plumping effect inspired by collagen that turns flat hair into thick, full, 24-hour volume hair. You get high-volume hair that lasts all night...the problem being that it might just outlast you!
- Lesley Scott
[Note: This was written in partnership with Pantene.]
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."
You could blame it on Isaac Asimov. His mother probably does. After dad gave him the author's Robot and Foundation series at age twelve, the following year Dominic Elvin proceeded to deconstruct a stereo-cassette player, turning it into a robot. To the dismay of mom.
However, she's no doubt proud these days at the LED-festooned cool cybernetic couture, jewelry and installations her son has created for British Airways, Absolut Vodka, Robot Wars, High Life & premiere party for Terminator 3 - as well as countless music videos and performance art shows. Inspired by the world of frontier sciences, Elvin takes apart old hardware from PCs, appliances, industrial machinery and other discarded electronics and reconfigures them into sculptures for the future. His vision of which is inspired by how people react to the changes happening around us. Going forward, Elvin plans to work more with sound and sensors in his sculptures, making them more interactive and alive.
Elvin accepts commissions & will make pieces (like the one at right) to order on Cyberdog.com.
The Futurenetics tribe is so interesting in the way they take lo-fi (discarded electronics) and turn it into the cybernetic body-couture. For me, I find it makes "The Future" seem less daunting and a whole lot more fashion-friendly.