Tuesday 31 May 2011

A Point Of Design: Bold Chair by Sanserif Creatius

Image courtesy of Sanserif Creatius
Once again Valencia-based design studio Sanserif Creatius have created a new innovative product that pushes the boundaries in furniture design, presenting a bench style chair that is made from 100% biodegradable corrugated cardboard. Environmentally sound, the functional, economically viable and serialised production based ‘Bold Chair’ is created in one single die. Made of 5mm thick sheets the standard model measures 50x63x72 cm, weighs 16 kg and has an estimated resistance of 1,000kg in compression tests.
With no screws or wedges, there is reduced machine and staff related costs along the assembly line, helping to reduce the collateral energy consumption in production. With both assembly and handling carried out exclusively in special employment centres; to reinforce values of integration and respect, Sanserif Creatius continue to amaze me.

Friday 27 May 2011

Garment of the Week: Moon Life United Nude Flat Pack Shoe

This week there was no contest what-so-ever as to which brand would get my Garment Of The Week accolade. über cool company United Nude have produced a sleek, eye-catching and sexy flat-pack shoe. Initiated by Spanish performance-artist Alicia Framis, the ‘Moon Life’ project is about space travel and the speculation of future living in space. Framis invited a select group of artists, architects and designers to create futuristic, radical and even political but humane concepts for the lunar environment. United Nude was invited to design a shoe, suitable for life in outer space.
Images courtesy of Surgery PR.
By choosing to create a piece for indoor use, United Nude, were able to craft a high-heeled shoe both elegant and sexy while not be limited by the extreme conditions of space such as temperature and pressure. Additionally, United Nude’s goal was to create a shoe that can also function in a gravity rich environment. The outcome is the United Nude Flat Pack shoe: A shoe that customers can assemble themselves, while the uppers of the shoes are interchangeable and suitable for customizing.
The base of the shoe is built from flat carbon fibre pieces, moulded foot-bed pieces and 3-dimensional sole pieces that simply slot into each other. These parts are all adjoined by a thin wire span on the sides. The upper of the shoe is a lace with 2 leather pieces. The assembly takes no longer than 10 minutes for each shoe. United Nude is developing a final version of this product that will be available for purchase in very limited numbers at http://www.moon-life.org/, as well as at selected museum gift-shops around the world and at the brand’s website http://www.unitednude.com/. Now that is what I call fashion-forward-thinking!

Thursday 26 May 2011

Happy 5th Birthday Estethica

Image courtesy of the BFC, depicting Livia Firth wearing From Somewhere and Laura Bailey wearing Henrietta Ludgate.
An initiative very close to my heart is the BFC's Estethica, which on Tuesday night celebrated its fifth birthday. Whilst I couldn’t attend the event in the end I’d still like to show my appreciation of this great platform.

Estethica was founded in 2006 showcasing 13 brands, and has since gone on to support a total of 108 international designers. All Estethica designers have been selected as they adhere to at least one of the three Estethica principles of fair-trade, ethical practices, organic and recycled materials and are selected for both their ethical credentials and design excellence.

Among those celebrating the landmark were chair of the BFC Harold Tillman, Livia Firth, Laura Bailey and Lucy Siegle.

Harold Tillman CBE commented:“This anniversary of Estethica marks an important milestone for the initiative and also for the fashion industry. Each season we see Estethica grow to support designers in new and exciting ways, thereby placing sustainable values at the forefront of fashion design. This is a chance to celebrate Estethica’s achievements and look forward to future ventures in promoting sustainable fashion”.

Livia Firth said: “Estethica is where it all began for me – it taught me to look at the politics and the production of fashion in a different way. With such talented designers I can only see Estethica getting bigger and better”.

Fresh From The Production Line: Le Coq Sportif

Image courtesy of Tea + Cake PR
Not really a sneaker freaker and as a fan of keeping things simple, I’ve spent my life in either Converse or shoes. However as I’m getting older, I’m starting to discover that there are several other great footwear brands out there, creating equally iconic and versatile styles, with one such brand being French sportswear brand Le Coq Sportif. Having recently launched the patriotically named Provencale style to the UK market, the chic and slim-line design features minimal branding and a cute metal button logo detail on the side of the shoe – inspired by the metal balls used in Pétanque, the popular game of boules which originated in Southern France back in the early 1900s.

Available in a variety of styles, the hi-top versions comes in black or grey leather, whilst low-rise versions come in navy leather and white canvas – perfect if you’re looking to rock an authentic nautical look this summer. Prices of the Provencale range from £54.99-74.99 and are available from selected Size? stores and Size? online.

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Art-iculate: Pedro Paricio: Master Painters

Images throughout courtesy of the artist and the Halcyon Gallery. 'Pedro (naked at stairs)'.
A couple of weeks back I had the good fortune of being invited along to Mayfair’s Halcyon Gallery for a private tour of their newest exhibition, Pedro Paricio: Master Painters. Upon arrival I was thrilled to learn that I would in fact be meeting the artist himself, however I was equally filled with trepidation on not having done my homework – which turned out to not be a problem at all as Pedro was incredibly charming and extremely forthcoming about his work, inspirations and practices that I instantly felt at ease and was truly honoured to be able to meet such a committed, passionate and playful artist. Comprised of 18 works created earlier this year, Pedro Paricio: Master Painters cleverly adapts and borrows the iconic imagery of his favourite artists and fuses it with his own visual language of masks and harlequin colours, introducing layers of meaning, and playing with the identity of subject and artist.

Born in 1982 Tenerife, Canary Islands, Pedro Paricio: Master Painters marks the artist’s first ever exhibition in London, having previously shown throughout Europe and in America. Currently living and working in the vibrant city of Barcelona, where he has had a studio since 2004, for Paricio, painting is the most important thing in life. A true artist’s artist, of his dedication to his craft Pedro told me, “art is my religion”; going on to discuss how he prefers to paint in private in his studio, and much like prayer, for him painting is a private and intimate experience, believing that: “an artist is a shaman - a human being who can expand the world”.
'The Big Painter'
“When I am happy, I go to see art. When I am sad, I go to see art. When I see a good painting, I am in a hurry to create a good painting too. Art gives sense to my life. I want to mix street art with traditional art to show the power of abstract art. I want to combine the ideas of Clement Greenberg with the style of Keith Haring. ... We are caught in a system and live together in a comfortable world where we want easy culture. But I want to think and develop my mind, to free it from its confines. I want to open the secret door.”

Described by the Halcyon Gallery as ‘a tour de force of kaleidoscopic colour’, in the Master Painters series, Paricio makes reference to particular paintings and characteristics of the work of several great artists he admires including Rothko, Basquiat, Miró, Velasquez, Caravaggio, Modigliani, Bacon and Hopper. With a clear passion for art history and theory, when asked why he loves these artists so much, I saw a wide smile break and a glint light up his face as many reasons were offered: they have for a long time been firm favourites, they are so inspiring and changed the way that art was perceived in their respective generations, pushing the boundaries and developing the market.
'The Incredulous'
Paricio himself refers to his work in terms of organic and synthetic abstraction, in which there is currently a strong, renewed interest. There is something uniquely Spanish in the raw quality and sense of mystery in his paintings, with his most recent preoccupation being with the issue of identity. The artist‘s love of paint and fascination with colour is evident in this exhibition, where bright primary colours dominate and sharp geometric shapes form a narrative to the series. Currently working exclusively with acrylics, only such a skilled painter could make the materials appear different using a combination of different numbers of layers and canvas thicknesses to experiment with the finishes, tirelessly exploring different techniques, whilst dismissing the thought of using other media or technology in response to current fashions in art, stating that painting provides him with endless possibilities.

Slightly eccentric in the best possible way, as every lover of art would like the creator to be of his reasons for being an artist, Paricio says: “...to be honest, the thing that attracts me [to art] is the freedom that society gives to the artist. When you are an artist, society lets you do things that, if it weren’t for the art, you would be considered crazy. I chose art because I wanted a different life.”
In many ways Pedro Paricio: Master Painters is an auto-biographical body of work as not only does it reference some of the artist’s favourite works with personal significance, but interestingly his own trademark fashion aesthetic is very apparent in several of the paintings (such as Primary Colours, The Big Painter, Times Change But Painters Don’t, and all of his inspired self-portraits) with his figures wearing white shirts, skinny black ties and a black felt bowler hat, a vision that – after meeting the artist in the same signature attire – is not only a testament but an embodiment of his love of tradition and the enthusiasm of his dedication.

Juan Manuel Bonet, art critic and former director of Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid, has described Paricio’s work as “…the freshest thing I’ve seen in the emerging contemporary art world in 30 years”. Tomas Paredes, President of the Madrid Association of Art Critics, foresees a bright future for Paricio: “Be sure that here we have a true phenomenon – a tornado – you can feel it, you can smell it, you can see it – if you miss it, you’ll regret it”.
Pedro Paricio: Master Painters is showing at the Halcyon Gallery until 17th June.

Thursday 19 May 2011

Fresh From The Production Line: Kipling Monkey Mash-Up

Design by Susie Lau. Images throughout courtesy of Surgery PR/ Kipling
Mid-range leather accessories specialists Kipling have recently launched an initiative to invite their customers to create their own design for the brand’s iconic monkey mascot which adorns each product. Updating the monkey charm each season, this is your chance to give it an iconic make-over.
Design by Jessica Penfold
To ensure the project goes off with a bang, Kipling have teamed up with renowned style publication Dazed and Confused and have recruited three, young talented London ‘trendies’, challenging them to turn their creative hands to giving the brands iconic monkey an image overhaul. Susie Lau of international renowned blog Style Bubble, Alex Brownsell of colour salon Bleach and comic book artist and illustrator Jessica Penfold were all sent their own monkey to design however they wished, resulting in three highly unique and innovative monkeys, reflecting their individuals creative flair and talent.
Design by Alex Brownsell
To join the monkey madness and get creative visit http://www.kiplingmonkeymashup.co.uk/, where you can download the monkey template, create your own unique design and submit it to the sites’ gallery, where the designs with the most ‘likes’ will be put forward to the judging panel, resulting in one design being proclaimed the winner. The lucky designer will have their vision brought to life on one of Kipling’s 85cm monkeys and showcased on Dazed Digital as well as being displayed in Kipling’s Regent Street store window. If that wasn’t enough the overall winner will receive £500 worth of Kipling product, while four runners up will also receive a Kipling bag of their choice and their own mini Kipling monkey.
Design by Margot Bowman
Kipling will also be auctioning the three unique creations from Susie Lau, Alex Brownsell and Jessica Penfold along with mashed up monkeys from illustrator/ artist Margot Bowman, the Silver Spoon Attire designers, Paula Goldstein and Valentine Fillol - Cordier of Purple Magazine online from 14th June with all proceeds going to The Teenage Cancer Trust, a charity devoted to improving the lives of young people with cancer. Get creative and get behind this great cause.

Friday 13 May 2011

Garment Of The Week: Melissa Diamantidi

A new designer on my radar is Melissa Diamantidi whose AW11 collection is to die for. Whilst its way too early – and I really should be making this blog post under ‘Sneak Peak’ on a Monday – the collection is so stunning it had to make the cut for this week’s GOTW.
Images throughout courtesy of The Clear Agency
Taking inspiration from architectural design the inspired collection effortlessly fuses contemporary and fashion-forward silhouettes with sophistication and a beautiful line that creates a playful air of spontaneity. Brimming with leather, lace and power shoulders, this is a collection to invest in to tick all the trend boxes for next season.
Stocked at super-boutiques such as Beyond The Valley and herviabazaar.com, I’m afraid you’re going to have a little wait to get your hands on this collection. On the plus side, its ample time to start saving those pennies!

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Art-iculate: Alexander McQueen - Savage Beauty

An exhibition on the other side of the pond that I’ve long been looking forward to both hearing and writing about finally opened on Wednesday; Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, which comprises the spring 2011 Costume Institute exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Alexander McQueen (British, 1969-2010). Dress, autumn/winter 2010. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph © Sølve Sundsbø / Art + Commerce
Celebrating McQueen’s career and design highlights, this retrospective of sorts spans from his Central Saint Martins postgraduate collection of 1992 - infamously snapped up by Isabella Blow - to his final catwalk presentation, which took place in Paris shortly after his death in February 2010. Paying particular attention to McQueen’s superior understanding of fashion beyond utility, this exhibition seeks to highlight his conceptual expression of culture, politics, and identity – which earned him international acclaim and reverence.
Alexander McQueen (British, 1969-2010). Ensemble, Plato’s Atlantis, spring/summer 2010. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph © Sølve Sundsbø / Art + Commerce
Located in the Metropolitan Museum’s second-floor Cantor Galleries, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty features approximately 100 ensembles and 70 accessories from McQueen’s prolific 19-year career. Borrowed primarily from the Alexander McQueen Archive here in London - a few select pieces from the Givenchy Archive in Paris are also included as well as covetable pieces held in private collections – stand-out pieces include the bumster trousers, the kimono jacket, and the three-point “origami” frock coat.
Gallery View – Romantic Nationalism, Highland Rape. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Much loved for his referencing of late 19th Century silhouettes and the odd 1950’s-inspired piece, McQueen’s technical ingenuity was his currency, earning him four awards as the British Fashion Council’s ‘Designer of the Year’ in 1996, 1997, 2001 and lastly in 2003. With no current plans to send this eagerly anticipated exhibition on tour, I defy anyone visiting New York before 31st July not to visit.

Tuesday 10 May 2011

A Point Of Design: Vogue Light Up Bond Street

To much excitement and anticipation, today sees the launch of Vogue magazine’s Street Lights initiative: a new artistic endeavour taking over London’s second most-iconic shopping street, Bond Street. The brainchild of Vogue’s Jewellery Editor, Carol Woolton - in collaboration with Bond Street Association - Street Lights is an artistic collaboration between the street’s renowned fine jewellers, The Royal College of Art and Central Saint Martins.

Collaborating with 50 2nd and 3rd year students from The Royal College of Art  and Central Saint Martins(studying a mixture of Goldsmith, Silversmith, Metalwork and jewellery courses), the brief was to create conceptual and innovative approaches for the display of jewellery within the windows of the fine jewellers of Bond Street. Iconic brands such as: Asprey, Cartier, Chanel, Mappin + Webb, Van Cleef + Arpels and Tiffany +Co are all taking part, in addition to many more.

From simply removing the usual constraints of traditional jewellery displays such as boring busts and generally black Perspex plinths, the results are both intriguing and unexpected, showing exquisite luxury items in a whole new light.

“It’s a fantastic artistic collaboration of some of the world’s most beautiful jewels being showcased in extraordinary, fresh and innovative ways, provoking us to think about the role of jewellery in our cultural life. The students are bringing wit, originality and imagination to the street in a way that London does better than anywhere else in the world. The idea was born out of my time as a judge at the Royal College of Art each year, by the displays the students created for their work and the manner in which they dealt with scale and environment.” comments Carol Woolton.

Street Lights runs from 10-15 May inclusive and is a celebration of the excellence of the capitals jewellery courses, drawing attention to the fact that more creative jewellery design comes out of London than anywhere else.

Friday 6 May 2011

Garment Of The Week: From Somewhere

Imagery throughout courtesy of From Somewhere
Each season at LFW I make a point of spending several hours doing the rounds at the Estethica exhibition looking to find the newest and most innovative designers working with sustainable practices at the forefront of their brand identity. One such brand who never fail to catch my eye are From Somewhere, whose recent collaboration with the world’s leading swimwear brand, Speedo has produced an array of surprisingly chic 50’s style garments.
Created using unsold swimwear and surplus stocks of the revolutionary Speedo LZR Racer suit (interestingly launched in 2008 by myself and the PR company I used to work for), the mainline collection can be found at yoox.com. In addition to the wider range, two styles will be available exclusively at Selfridges and two styles will be exclusive to yoox.com, with all proceeds from the iconic Barbie dress being donated to Green Cross International, YOOXYGEN’s partner.
Orsola de Castro, co-owner of From Somewhere, says of the collaboration:
“After unveiling the first of our Speedo LZR Racer collaborations at London Fashion Week in September 2010, we have had an enormous amount of fun in designing and producing these latest pieces, and we feel that we’ve learned a lot about how far we can go, building our confidence, introducing lots of colour and creating designs we’re extremely proud of. The range comprises a wide variety of products, taking in eveningwear made from over 60 swimsuits, to the super wearable Swimdress – a new concept in swimwear as daywear.”

Thursday 5 May 2011

Fresh From The Production Line: LCF teams up with New Look

A few weeks back I was invited to view a very exciting collaboration between London College of Fashion students and high street retailer New Look. Aptly called the Master’s Collection, this unique and highly creative capsule range of footwear is set to launch in stores both nationwide and online from the middle of May, making it accessible to all.
Whilst providing a highly covetable platform for four students studying MA Fashion Footwear, Master’s Collection is also a competition which has seen the overall winner, Chang (Ralf) Seok Ko gain the opportunity to travel overseas to see his designs produced by one of New Look’s suppliers.
Over a year ago in March 2010, New Look set London College of Fashion students on the internationally renowned Cordwainers MA Fashion Footwear course the task of designing a range of shoes with a view to one or more of the styles being selected to comprise the highly exclusive six style Master’s Collection.
Judged by a select panel - which reads like a who’s who of British fashion - New Look’s Barbara Horspool (Group Design Director), Malcolm Collins, (Director for Footwear and Accessories) Fiona McGuire, (Senior Footwear Designer)and Helen Bleazard (Head of Buying – Footwear and Accessories) were joined by LCF Professor Roy Peach (Dean of the School of Graduate Studies). Also sitting on the panel and providing a critical designer eye were famed British footwear designer Jonathan Kelsey and everyone’s favourite womenswear designer Giles Deacon, who has direct experience in working with New Look himself designing the Gold by Giles capsule collection for the past three years.
Overall winner Chang (Ralf) Seok Ko surpassed himself producing three of the winning designs (a flat sandal, a high open toe mule and a mid heel strappy sandal), with runners up Ruth Jones, Adriana Iurascu and Kim Kwang producing one exquisite design each.

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Art-iculate: Hoppé Portraits - Society, Studio and Street

The ‘Pearlies’, Master William Dennis Simmons, London, 1922 © 2011 Curatorial Assistance, Inc. / E.O. Hoppé Estate Collection
Showcasing the work of yet another great photographer, the National Portrait Gallery have some excellent exhibitions taking place this year. Now in its final month, Hoppé Portraits: Society, Studio and Street sees the first major exhibition of E.O. Hoppé’s work in over 30 years. One of the most important photographers of the early twentieth century, Hoppé Portraits: Society, Studio and Street unites Hoppé’s trademark strikingly modernist portraits juxtaposed with his fascinating documentary studies capturing the realities of day-to-day life in Britain between the wars.
Margot Fonteyn, 1935 © 2011 Curatorial Assistance, Inc. / E.O. Hoppé Estate Collection
E.O. Hoppé was the prototypical celebrity photographer, and his success in the 1910s and 1920s can be compared to that of Richard Avedon or Irving Penn in the late twentieth century. Hoppé wrote of his career as a portraitist: "The personality of living people, dual and often multi-fold, is always more absorbing than that portrayed on canvas, and I have been lucky in that my calling as a portraitist has enabled me to peek behind the facades, as it were, of so many great and interesting men and women."
Ezra Pound, 1918 © 2011 Curatorial Assistance, Inc. / E.O. Hoppé Estate Collection
Fascinated by questions of race and social mobility, Hoppé was no stranger to controversy having raised philosophical questions about human aesthetics in his 1922 work, Book of Fair Women. It was Hoppé’s latter works in the late 1920-30s that would leave a lasting impression, capturing British street life, studying individuals at the other end of the social spectrum to his celebrity sitters. Among these photograph’s subjects are the homeless, bell ringers, Sandhurst Military Academy, a dog hospital, night watchmen, a girl’s borstal institute, a skeleton shop, portraits of ‘pearlies’, street musicians and the tattoo artist George Burchett.
If you haven’t seen Hoppé Portraits: Society, Studio and Street yet, pop down to the NPG before it ends on 30th May.

Scrapbook: Mad Men's Kiernan Shipka for Interview magazine

Images throughout photographed by Mikael Jansson; property of Interview Magazine
Probably my favourite character in Mad Men, I recently learned that Kiernan Shipka (who plays little Sally Draper), has been making waves in the world of fashion, having been shot for Interview Magazine last year wearing no less than couture – not an everyday occurrence for your average 11-year-old. Having just unwrapped a birthday present of season four of Mad Men, I suppose this is a rather self-indulgent scrapbook post... but doesn't she look AMAZING!?