the Nothingness

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Recently I feel like I’m finally tired of everything ‘designers’, I mean, in quite a broad sense of word. For work, I have to look at a lot of ‘new’ stuff that comes every few month from  different fashion brands as well as countless examples of ‘new’ furniture of interior designs, but I found very few of it to be really exciting. It’s not like I pretend to be a spoiled critic of everything, I’m rather an overwhelmed observer as I’m tired of things that supposed to ‘wow’ or ‘attract’, catch my attention or whatever.

Now I choose everything that is blank and purely functional. It’s not minimalism or classic, but rather ‘blank-ness’, ‘basic-ness’ of appearance. It’s this point of no reference which were once so perfectly described by Gibson in his ‘Pattern recognition’ novel. For example today many fashion brands that considered to be minimalistic, like Celine or Calvin Klein, produce rather simple, ‘clean’ designs but always with a twist, be it a futuristic fabric or some ‘sharp’ detailing. After all this kind of design is very 2010s while the things that I’m talking about couldn’t be clearly identified with the specific period of time – as much as it’s not about past it’s neither about ‘present’ or ‘future’ but rather about timelessness. And honestly, with most brands producing about a minimum of 4 collections a year the concept of anything ‘new’ or ‘designer’ has clearly devaluated. There’s such a mess of gazillion collections per season, special editions, artist/designer collaborations, exhibitions, special videos that you just want to stay away from all this. I noticed that recently all my Jils and Balenciagas are sitting in my closet, while I’m wearing blue jeans and GAP tshirts.

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Also, today, thanks to the Internet , much more people are aware about the fashion trends, brands and its collections etc. That’s why it seems to me that today people more and more are identified and judged by what they wear. Of course it’s been there long before the digital era etc. but it became worse than ever these days. There could be no logo but still most of the pieces are very recognizable. I mean that whatever you wear people will always try to put a label on you – no matter wether you’re sporting a must have from the recent major runway or some second-hand stuff – it will be a certain reference which will inform the way in which you’ll be perceived by others. It’s like there’s too much context to everything. Probably that’s why I feel urge to wear the most neutral things, the ones that won’t give any information about you so you’ll be perceived for what you are. Maybe this way the shift will be on a person, not clothes.

Talking about this those ‘basic’ things, probably the best way to describe what I’m talking about would be to say that it’s extremely neutral-looking things. The only quality by which they could be defined is that they couldn’t be defined. You couldn’t tell the brand or year it’s been produced, nor the price range. It’s just ‘things’ – a skirt, a chair, a bottle. Each thing being a sort of an arithmetical mean of it’s category. This kind of design requires an immense attention to details in order to keep this ‘anonymity’ – all the stitching, detailing, textures should be mere and rigorous.

On  a side note – same feelings go for the interior&product design. For example recently I’ve been visiting a few restaurants and cafes all of which made a very good impression on me, but when I started to analyze what exactly did I like about them except the good food, one of the first things that came to mind was that all of them had very basic, neutral decor – white walls, simple wooden furniture, etc. There was no single ‘designer’ item in it or at least nothing that looked like it was ‘designer’, nothing to distract you from your meal and from your company.

p/s in this context it’s also interesting to remember a sort of a trend for tear off the labels from designer clothes which considered to be ‘cool’ in mid-00s though I always thought it to be a way to show-off.

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Back to future

64279_598679466825787_809488968_nThe set for the new Dior couture show made by Bureau Betak – ‘mirror box’ pavilion with the grey sky and bare trees reflecting in it as if there’s no actual building. The interior for me looks like some relaxation garden at the 70s-designed spaceship. Spring in cyber-garden.

All pics by Bureau Betak.

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Marina x Givenchy

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Marina Abramovic in the Givenchy ss13 ad

surely it was meant that Marina here is exploring elements of ritual and gesture while representing physical and mental purification at the same time addressing the political traditions of her past while testing the limits of the relationships between the performer and the audience – assigning the passive role to herself, with the public being the force which would act on her. let’s hope that this performance will raise the sales.

Painterly vs. linear

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Somehow while uploading the pictures for my post with the CdG photographs I started to think about Wolfflin’s principles of analyzing of art described in his ‘Principles of Art History’. I mean this contradiction of painterly vs. linear, because for me the clothes on those photos look quite painterly (actually reminding me of Francis Bacon’s works). I tried to apply this concept to works of other designers as well. Thinking about it I found Dries van Noten, Lanvin, Rodarte, Vivien Westwood to be the painterly ones, while Givenchy, Jil Sander and Prada seems to be the examples of the ‘linear’ ones. Though sometimes it’s quite difficult to decide, for instance among Hussein Chalayan’s work there are some which are more graphical and ‘clean’ and the others where there are a beautifully chaotic mash up of textures, colors and volumes.

I remember that while reading Wolfflin the most interesting parts for me were the ones where the concept of ‘painterly vs. linear’ was described with examples from sculpture and architecture which for me speaks about the versatility of the concept.

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In case of fashion I think that the ‘painterly’ designers in general are the ones who work more with volume, cut and  textures, while the ‘linear’ are obviously so-called minimalists, designers whose works might be described as ‘structural’ and brands specializing in prints and patterns. Though sometimes ‘painterly’ and ‘linear’ elements could be combined in one outfit or in one collection.  All in all I think it’s interesting to try to apply this concept to fashion and see the results. I also think that it could be interesting to put in this context the work of different stylists.

Also I’d say that for me painterly vs. linear concept is in some sense one of many incarnations of the chaos vs. order juxtaposition and it might be case of why it’s so universal.

Screen of the week

heil to the early 00s – sexuality and digitality – I feel that it’s been just enough time now and soon we’ll see lots of stuff inspired by it.

Exploding eyepieces

Boudicca aw 2005-06 – Animate – ‘exploding’ eyepieces.

Right on the border of make-up and accessory there are these amazing cyber-eyelids with aggressively exploding crystallized eyelashes. A perfect example of what I might call a punk luxury. A flower of frozen needles. There’s something harsh and violent about it but at the same time it looks so elegant and high-class. Thanks to this feature models look like heroines of some sci-fi blockbuster. As it is always with Boudicca I wonder from where the idea came, because with this designer duo there’s always some reference hidden in every detail.

Power of couture

Stunning late 90s editorial from Vogue Italia’s couture supplement, shot by Steven Meisel and styled by Nicoletta Santoro. Looking at these photos I think again about appearance and power – how we could add power to our image through body language, glance, clothes, make-up and accessories and how often we use our wardrobe/style in order to look more powerful than we are.

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Portraits of style

I continue to observe and admire 90s fashion editorials such as this one from Vogue Italia shot by Peter Lindbergh and styled by Nicoletta Santoro. I like that it’s so minimalist – nothing distracts you from the beauty of the clothes and models. It features looks from Yohji Yamamoto (that famous spring/summer’99 collection), Helmut Lang, Comme des Garçons, and many others.

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The Group

The Group – shot by Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia, July 1999

Now working closely with professional retouchers I realize just how much photoshop-polishing goes into production of every image we see. I mean of course I knew it before but to know and to see with your own eyes is a different thing. Knowing to what extent images are edited there is no wonder that in the magazines now everybody is slim and sexy, with glowing skin, pretty faces and shiny hair. All beautiful and all boring. For me it feels like there is something wrong with the way what models are now being picked for the shoots and how they are being depicted in the editorials. It’s not a matter of size or prevailing of the exact type of beauty – anorexic or plus-size, eastern european or asian, there’s something missing from all these girls and boys.

Despite of the the triumph of prettiness it has nothing to do with over the top glamour of the mid 00s which had in itself a sort of joie de vivre quality. What I’m talking about is just depersonalisation of some kind. When all the little things that make one unique are wiped out in order to create an ideal face/body. Thinking of it I could probably link it to, for example, ancient Greek’s sculptures. There were very strict rules according to which every statue had to be made. The ancient Greek’s pantheon consisted of ideal beings – ageless and flawless, with perfect bodies and faces. Often you couldn’t tell apart one god or goddess from another judging only by their looks unless there are their ‘key accessories’ like Heracle’s lion pelt, Athena’s helmet or Hermes’s sandals. Ancient sculptors used real people as their models and turned them into gods because of the demands of their religion. Today photographers and retouchers turn models into otherworldly ideal creatures because of the demands of fashion. Also adds to the similarity recent popularity of the androgynous look which is also a quite familiar concept for the ancient Greek’s culture.

All in all I find such images to be quite dull, they fail to make an impression on me and even in those ‘provocative’ editorials there are all these languid poses and blank expressions. Speaking about the faces. Maybe that’s the point – ‘standard’ faces don’t distract from the clothes which is good for advertising.

Blame it on magazines, casting agencies, advertisers or ourselves (because maybe we want fashion to be projection of our dreams, not the reflection of reality) but I feel the lack of ‘realness’ in modern editorials.

Truth be told all I wanted to say is how refreshing for me was to see this photos made more than ten years ago by Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia. Amazing colour palette and texture combinations – styling was done by Brana Wolf, and notice the furniture used, it’s also a perfect match for this ed. And what a faces – I can’t stop watching them. I certainly miss photoshoots like this – in fashion there should be a place for imperfect, diverse, real and random)

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