Some time ago I visited the GUIDI tannery in Italy, nestled among the hills of Tuscany. GUIDI is one of the best tanneries that still employ traditional tanning methods, such as vegetable tanning. I witnessed the processing of the hides and the finishing applied to GUIDI’s footwear and bags. Below is my photo reportage.
Recently I visited the workspace of the German jewelery maker Werkstatt:Munchen. Their studio is located in the center of Munich in the former foundry. Keeping with his label’s ethos of craftsmanship, Klaus Lohmeyer left the raw space intact. Hidden in a courtyard behind closed doors, this hidden gem of industrial space contrasts greatly with its clean-cut surroundings.
Let me get something out of the way – though my writing is critical more often than not, I don’t particularly enjoy blasting fashion. So, it is with a certain elation I would like to report that this past men’s fashion week in Paris was one of the strongest I’ve seen in a while.
For me it began last Wednesday night when Haider Ackermann presented his most convincing collection yet. Everything seemed to coalesce – from the muted but rich color palette to lush fabrics to nonchalant styling. It was presented at the Galleria museum, and the presentation and the clothes were just the right shade of decadence, a fantasy world of the rich and idle whose saving grace is impeccable education and impeccable manners.
As the singer P.J. Harvey prepares to record her new album, we decided to publish this slightly abridged version of the article about Harvey’s last album, Let England Shake, and about her friendship with Ann Demeulemeester and Patrick Robyn.
Last week Betony Vernon, the Paris-based jewelry designer, relaunched her collection of jewelry that double as instruments of sexual pleasure, at Dover Street Market in New York.
Though Vernon makes fine jewelry as well, her reputation comes from those of her products that are the stuff of sexual fantasy. Or, in the world according to Vernon, sexual reality.
In 1992 when Vernon launched a jewelry collection called Sado-Chic, she knew she hit a nerve. The sexually charged collection was based on pieces that connect to each other. The emotional and physical connection of lovers was now manifested in silver rings and chains.
“The Medium is the Message” – Marshall McLuhan
The iconic quote above epitomizes David Bowie Is, the new exhibit currently on show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago about the English singer who gave birth to glam rock in the early 70s and has become an indispensable fixture of pop culture.
The exhibit’s official text bills Bowie as “one of the most pioneering and influential performers,” either a tacit or an unwitting acknowledgment that he was neither a particularly gifted musician or lyricist. But, he was an unrivaled image-maker and storyteller who very early on in his career realized that appearance is an indispensable part of being a pop musician. Hence, his frequent metamorphosis and meticulous attention to the finest details of imagery.
Today, Rizzoli is releasing a new monograph on the Japanese fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto (YAMAMOTO & YOHJI, Rizzoli, $115). It is a road well-travelled, as there is already a slew of books on Yamamoto – from the collectable Talking to Myself to the forgettable “best hits” pamphlets by the publishers Taschen and Assouline.
The new volume contains 600 photographs and contributions by long-time Yamamoto’s famous friends, including the French actress Charlotte Rampling and the German filmmaker Wim Wenders. It is a hefty, cloth-bound tome, its 448 pages printed on thick matte paper, as it should be, since once cannot imagine anything glossy (read, vulgar) in the Yamamoto world. The cover is red and black, the two signature Yamamoto colors.
When Ann Demeulemeester departed her label late last year, some of her devotees spoke about the end of an era. They wondered out loud whether they would purchase another garment with the tag that bears the designer’s name. This summer in Paris the label showed an undeniably strong men’s collection, but when Demeulemeester’s former menswear assistant, Sebastian Meunier, came out to take the final bow I could not shake off the lightning bolt of cognitive dissonance, even though I knew that Demeulemeester has been quietly preparing her departure for a while now and that her assistants were being given more creative control.
The Man Who Played with Color: One January evening, before the men’s show of the Belgian designer Dries Van Noten, a crowd bustled outside the Musee Bourdelle, tucked away in a side street near the Montparnasse train station in Paris. Outside, the desperate hangers-on were held back by the implacable PR watchdogs, while inside the buyers and the press were trying to squeeze into the tiny Great Hall, where the most prominent statues of Antoine Bourdelle, one of the most prolific student’s of Rodin, stood.
This weekend The New York Times published an Op-Ed article by Vanessa Freedman, the paper’s fashion director, in which she bemoaned the contemporary culture phenomenon called the “new mediocre.” She gave instance after instance, beginning with fashion and extending it to other areas, of mediocrity as the new normal. This, she said, is the marker of the zeitgeist. As far as fashion goes, she wrote, “The reason for that feeling of déjà vu I had as I sat through fashion show after fashion show during the last ready-to-wear season and saw yet more ‘reinventions’ and ‘homages’ to 1960s rock chick dresses and 1970s flared trousers, 1980s power jackets and 1920s flapper frocks, and wondered, ‘How do I explain this lack of new ideas among so many extremely talented designers?’ The new mediocre.”