ISABELLA BLOW: FASHION GALORE !

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Isabella Blow, 1997 © Mario Testino

Nurturing, inspirational and full of personality. Those are some of the words that Isabella Blow’s friends repeat the most when talking about her, so it is no surprise that they can also be used to describe the exhibition “Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!” that has just opened at Somerset House.

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Isabella Blow at the American Embassy in Paris 1998 © Roxanne Lowit

The space, curated by Alistair O’Neill and Shonagh Marshall, is a celebration of her life and her vision put together by some of the people who loved her the most. It goes beyond fashion. It is a way of gathering, celebrating and giving back to her, of proving that she still matters and influences the fashion world, six years after she took her own life.

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Isabella Blow, Gloucestershire 1996 © Juergen Teller

Daphne Guinness bought Isabella Blow’s wardrobe in its entirety in 2010 just after finding out that it was going to be sold at a Christie’s auction. She was refusing to let her confidant’s identity be divided and spread, because she felt that her clothes were her DNA, her life and her art. Later on, together with help from Central Saint Martins and the Isabella Blow Foundation, the project started to take shape.
The collection features over a hundred pieces, mostly of talent she had discovered and helped to launch. Because Issy, as her dear ones called her, liked to wear clothes from the people she loved. There are over 90 Alexander McQueen dresses and 50 Philip Treacy hats, surrounded by pieces from Hussein Chalayan, Julien McDonald, Manolo Blahnik and Jun Takahashi, as well as videos and portraits by Mario Testino, Sean Ellis and Karl Lagerfeld.

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Alexander McQueen and Isabella Blow: Burning Down The House, 1996, London © David LaChapelle Studio, Inc.

Everything is styled the way she would have put it together. There are even worn out and damaged pieces,  shoes missing heels and burnt hats, which help to create a story. They make the clothes seem real, demonstrate how she lived in them, how they were part of her everyday life. In summary, they capture her essence. There is a sense of eccentricity, humour and wit that is intrinsic Isabella. Because, after all, the exhibition is nothing but a celebration of her persona and life.

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Isabella Blow, 2002 © Diego Uchitel

Accompanying the showing there is a catalogue shot by Nick Knight which tries to place Isabella and her clothes in the present. We can see her, albeit through models that she never worked with, but that she would have booked if she was still alive.

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Hat — Philip Treacy, S/S 2003. Cut out mouths pop art hat, paper, silk and wire. Dress — Chalayan, S/S 1999. Cream folded pleat dress, silk. Model:Xiao Wen Ju at IMG. © Nick Knight

The exhibition runs until the 2nd of March 2104 in Somerset House, London.

Exhibition images by Peter MacDiarmid/Getty for Somerset House

SOUP/ Paloma M. Pérez Feijoo

Posted on Sunday, December 1st 2013

IS TECHNOLOGY REDEFINING CREATIVITY ?

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WeTransfer recently announced that it has broken through the 1.5 million transfers a day milestone and is still growing. Since its formation in October 2010 now have 15 million monthly active users worldwide

WeTransfer was originally set up in 2009 by Bas Beerens and Nalden as a means to save courier costs and to speedily distribute photography, video and other documents. WeTransfer enables anyone to easily send large files, via email or URL, without any complications, lengthy sign-up forms or banner advertising.
Bucking the trend of intrusive banner adverts, the company continues to prides itself on the quality, imagery and experience of the service, highlighted though WeTransfer’s long-standing support and involvement with creative communities across the globe.
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This technology – the internet and the cloud, particularly - has not only altered what we believe creativity to be but redefined creativity’s barrier to entry. Creativity was once exclusive to people with art school educations and creative agencies but now any kid can learn to code. They have creative production at their fingertips. Technology gives anybody the opportunity to take their creativity from mere ideas to execution.

WeTransfer is a file transfer service first and foremost. It was built to get files from A to B with no hassle, no stress and no charge. But it is much more than that. At its heart is a global exhibition of creative talent.
Since the beginning Wetransfer have offered half of their annual advertising itinerary, free of charge, to the creative industries. It is this creativity which underpins the entire business. It is this exciting creative talent which attracts global brands to our advertising platform and makes it such a success.
The structure of the site means wetransfer are able to offer this exhibition space to artists and photographers, start-ups and illustrators all over the world. If they were operating in the world of static print this would  be impossible. As Nalden explains ‘We simply couldn’t afford it. It is this technology which makes our network and community truly global.’
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WeTransfer uses digital ‘wallpaper’ ads to bring the beauty of billboard advertising online. For young creatives as far afield as as Asia and the USA to be exhibited alongside creative leaders such as Nike and Google is a truly exciting thing to see. I doubt the industry could argue with that.
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www.wetransfer.com

Posted on Thursday, September 5th 2013

CLUB TO CATWALK: London Fashion in the 1980s

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The Face magazine (Hell’s Angels Cover) - no. 77, September 1986

It doesn’t feel a  coincidence that the David Bowie exhibition at the Victoria & Albert is being followed by “Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980s”, a tribute to the underground club scene of the decade which demonstrates the influence it had –and still has– in fashion.
Club to Catwalk is all about freedom, expressing yourself through theatricality and, above all, reinvention.

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Installation image of From Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980s

The so-called Blitz kids, who would party in the legendary Blitz club in London after it opened in 1979, would spend most of their week making their outfits and preparing themselves to wow their friends. Steve Strange, the prominent and nightclub host  (prior to his success as the lead singer of the band Visage) had the power to let them into the venue. Getting in proved that they looked like somebody –rather than being somebody, which was completely irrelevant back then. Even Mick Jagger got the boot.

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At Subway - 1986

Rusty Egan, who was also part of Visage, was DJing inside while the array of art students surrounding him helped to define the New Romantic movement. The elitist crowd that could get in came mainly from St. Martin’s and Central School, due to proximity, and iconic names paraded their extreme, unique and androgynous looks around the club, such as Isabella Blow, Stephen Jones, Boy George, Marilyn  and, of course, David Bowie. He even recruited some club regulars, including Strange, to appear in the music video of his number one hit “Ashes to Ashes” (1980).

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Trojan and Mark at Taboo - 1986

The truth is that it was as much a catwalk as a dance floor, you were there to be seen and stand out, to tell a story through your looks.
As the New Romantic movement expanded, more clubs opened (such as Heaven, Cha-Cha, Taboo, Club for Heroes and Camden Palace), more subcultures emerged (Goth, Fetish and High Camp) and more people joined the party (like Leigh Bowery, Scarlett Cannon and John Galliano, to name a few). London was buzzing with creativity and in 1984 British fashion earned its rightful place on the map with the opening of the first official London Fashion Week.

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Sketch for Levi Strauss & Co. denim jacket, ‘BLITZ’ by John Galliano - 1986

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Denim jacket, ‘BLITZ’, by Levi Strauss & Co., customised by Vivienne Westwood - 1986

The decade is being celebrated in an exhibition curated by Claire Wilcox, the V&A’s Head of Fashion, which showcases over 85 outfits, including pieces by Betty Jackson, Katharine Hamnett, Wendy Dagworthy, Vivienne Westwood and John Galliano. The vibrancy of London’s club scene is explored through bodysuits, slogans, experimental suits and customised garments that prove that the 80s were more than shoulder pads and leg warmers.
It is a homage to the individuality and free spirit of those that reinvented themselves every night and planted the seed to the innovation and revolution of the decades that followed.Not everyone stayed alive in 85, as Hamnett’s emblematic t-shirt said, but there is no doubt that the 80s are still alive.

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Silk T-shirt, designed by Katherine Hamnett - 1984

SOUP/ Paloma M. Pérez Feijoo

Posted on Wednesday, August 28th 2013

HAUTE COUTURE

Yet unattainable for most, Haute Couture might be more relevant than ever. And not only because the Autumn-Winter 2013-2014 collections have just been presented. With industrialisation rapidly decreasing in favour of craftsmanship, Parisian ateliers remain a beacon of the French savoir-faire, luxury and attention to detail. This was also one of the key points of the recent exhibition “Paris Haute Couture”.

Balenciaga 1967

It all started in 1858, when Charles Frederick Worth, who is considered the Father of Haute Couture, opened Worth and Boberghs, a studio in the Parisian Rue de la Paix. He would create sample dresses and clients had to either attend a fitting or discuss the ideas with him, so that afterwards a team of seamstresses could make up the final piece. By 1873 over 1,200 people worked for Worth and Boberghs and over the next decades many designers copied this concept, such as Poiret in 1903, Chanel in 1915 and Schiaparelli in 1935.

Chanel 1923

In 1911, the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture was established, a body that regulates the guidelines of couture and accepts requests from designers and fashion houses to join this elitist and meticulous world. To be part of it, the designs must be made-to-order after at least one fitting, following Worth’s procedure, and the team must be composed of at least 15 full-time artisans. Their magic is presented to the world twice a year in Paris in no less than 35 runs of both daytime and evening wear that still represent today the epitome of luxury, design and craftsmanship.

Schiaparelli 1936


Last week, the 10 permanent houses that still stand showed their collections in the French capital. This exclusive group is comprised of Christophe Josse, Christian Dior, Alexis Mabille, Giambattista Valli, Chanel, Stéphane Rolland, Atelier Gustavolins, Maison Martin Margiela, Frank Sorbier and Jean Paul Gaultier. They were joined by 5 correspondent members (Versace, Armani Privé, Elie Saab, Valentino and Viktor&Rolf) and 8 guest members (On Aura Tout Vu by Yassen Samouilov and Livia Stoianova, Iris Van Herpen, Julien Fournié, Alexandre Vauthier, Bouchra Jarrar, Yiqing Yin, Rad Hourani and Zuhair Murad).

Maison Martin Margiela 2013


Although the number of houses has dramatically decreased (in 1946 there were 106), the excitement and creativity surrounding haute couture week does not seem to have deflated. Romanticism is always present, especially in shows like Giambattista Valli, who sculpted blooming gardens over transparencies hugging the female body. However, there is a new sense of change and modernity, as reflected in the main topic of the Chanel show: a transition from an Old World into a New World with added touches of science-fiction. The Raf Simons for Dior show was surrounded by an aura of freedom that allowed him to decontextualise couture from Paris. His designs were not only European, but also American, Asian and African, all sharing the same diverse and global catwalk. Margiela continued playing with anonymity and the whole show was a transformation -reutilising fabrics, remaking pieces, restoring garments- explaining how something new and artisan can be created out of vintage.

Gianbattista Valli 2013


Chanel 2013


More varied, transgressor and probably more difficult to delimit than ever, there is no doubt that couture is the quintessential of fashion.


Christian Dior 2013


SOUP/ Paloma M. Pérez Feijoo

Posted on Tuesday, July 9th 2013