If you find yourself in Tokyo in the next few months be sure to visit the 25-year retrospective of Undercover, called Labyrinth of Undercover, which opened last weekend. We were privileged to get a preview of the exhibit last Friday. The show is divided into several spaces. The first part lets the viewer immerse himself into the videos of Undercover shows. The videos are decidedly low-fi and unedited, so you can spend a lot of time in those rooms getting lost (in the best sense of the word) in the footage.
I first met the singer Chelsea Wolfe at an understatedly swank, dimly lit bar in downtown Los Angeles a year ago. The place looked newly minted and was completely empty. Over drinks and small bites Wolfe and her collaborator Ben Chisholm, talked about their work and life in the desert (they recently moved outside of LA). Wolfe’s forth studio album, “Pain Is Beauty,” came out the year before. It was well received by critics and has found her a new audience. Unrelenting, Wolfe was already working on a new album, “Abyss.”
One of the defining qualities of photography is that it can cast the familiar in a different light, to make you look again. The photos in Alexey Titarenko’s new book The City Is a Novel (Damiani, $60) do just that. Titarenko’s signature style is a washed out grayscale that recalls early platinotypes. If you lived in the Soviet Union, as did Titarenko (and I), you would understand where the grayness comes from. Everything in the Soviet Union seemed gray, reflecting the drabness in the water supply, from the country’s soul to its streets.
Last week marked the fourteenth anniversary of 9/11, a tragedy that radically changed the political landscape of the world. There were memorial services held in New York and across the United States. The Givenchy Spring/Summer 2016 show was another unlikely place where 9/11 was invoked. The show was held at pier with a view of the new Freedom Tower, and was art-directed by Marina Abramovic. The presentation was supposed to pay respects to 9/11 and celebrate the spirit of human unity. The entire thing – from having an Italian designer who works for a Parisian house preaching to New Yorkers to Givenchy offering special guests tours of the 9/11 memorial – was tone-deaf, if not insulting. There was not a shred of the political in the clothes he presented, making the show’s art direction even more jarring as mere trappings.
Several days after his Spring/Summer 2016 men’s show Haider Ackermann was in his showroom, which was buzzing with buyers. Ackermann came down from the top floor of the building where he was already shooting the looks for his e-commerce platform, to be launched soon.
GUIDI – NEW YORK
Yesterday, Thom Browne presented a capsule menswear collection for the inaugural men’s fashion week in New York. The presentation, titled The Officeman, was held at nine in the morning, but Browne is one of the very few designers whose work demands such commitment from the fashion crowd.
The presentation was held in what was essentially a concrete cube. The line was long as only twenty people at a time were allowed in (the complimentary coffee and croissants helped). But it was well worth it. Once you stepped inside you found yourself in a completely mirrored room. In it was an office desk with a typewriter and some stationary items, all polished like heirloom silver on a wedding day.
Proliferation of books on the designer Alexander McQueen since his suicide in 2010 has been a boon to his fans. Or an unabashed attempt by publishers to exploit his death for monetary gain – you decide. On my recent visit to the “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” exhibit in London there was literally a wall of books devoted to him. Before his death the number of books I remember seeing devoted to McQueen, probably the most talented designer who has ever lived, was zero. The best attempted at analysis was done by Caroline Evans in her important book, “Fashion at the Edge.”
We figured the more photos from this past men’s fashion week the better, so here are some I have taken. While I possess neither the skill nor the equipment of the three photographers that shoot for StyleZeitgeist in Paris – A.P., Julien Boudet, and Matthew Reeves (thank you all!) – I hope you will still enjoy them, as they are shot from different angles and often at close range. The images are arranged in chronological order – Haider Ackermann, Rick Owens, Boris Bidjan Saberi, Julius, and Ann Demeulemeester.
“Nothing,” answered a prominent New York buyer when I asked her what she liked during this past men’s fashion week. While I wouldn’t go this far, the Spring/Summer 2016 season was decidedly mixed. The overarching question, which began forming in my head during the first day of shows in Paris was, “What makes a good collection?” Is it the theme or its execution? Do we look for a designer to tell an interesting story, to interpret a theme worth exploring through clothes, or to produce beautiful, interestingly constructed garments? Ideally, both.