When Helmut Lang came out with a perfume duo in 2000 and followed up by a third one in 2002, it was one of those rare fashion moments that occurs when an independent designer with a cult following translates his vision to another medium, thereby expanding his world. Who can forget (and by who, I mean those over 35 and really interested in fashion) the iconic ad campaigns on New York’s taxis or the long narrow SoHo store opposite Lang’s flagship where you could only by those three products, the very definition of minimalism?
The work of the German artist Joseph Beuys, its politics, earthliness and primacy, has captivated me for a long time. His performance piece I Like America and America Likes Me was the one that hit me both at the gut level and the cerebral one.
Today, the publisher Rizzoli released a long-awaited monograph on the Belgian fashion designer Ann Demeulemeester (Rizzoli, $100). The book is an exclamation point in the last sentence of Demeulemeester’s career, which is a long novel in itself. When we met in Antwerp this April, Demeulemeester just sent off the final draft to the publisher, and she spoke of it as if it was the perfect closure to her body of work in fashion.
I first met the singer Zola Jesus, whose real name is Nika Roza Danilova, this September in New York. She was wearing a black dress with a high collar that formed a dome at the back of her head. It resembled something from another era and a place that has little in common with our modern society.
Some time ago in Paris at a men’s show of the cult Japanese label Julius I found myself sitting next to the singer Usher. As I was chatting with his companion, Grace, I could not help but wonder what Usher was doing in a dark, cavernous space, looking at the goth aesthetic of black leathers and drapey wools that Tatsuro Horikawa, Julius’s designer, sent down the runway. And, I also wondered, where are the rockers?
In the age of Instagram, where minutiae of life is incessantly documented, Josef Sudek’s new book, Labyrinths (Torst, $60), seems oddly prescient. Here is the minutiae documented so artfully that the subject matter is seen at a remove. Meaning, you are first mesmerized by the masterful sepia of the photos before you realize that you are essentially looking at little piles of trash, scraps of paper, leftover food, unspooled string, and so on.
“Fuck You Heros” – now there is a title for a book. A title for a photo book, to be precise, by Glen E. Friedman, a photographer who first got into a cop’s face to protest his arrest as unconstitutional at the age of 12, had his first photo published in SkateBoarder magazine at the age of 14, immortalized the skating scene around Dogtown in Los Angeles, discovered and produced the punk band Suicidal Tendencies, and photographed the Los Angeles hardcore and punk scene and the New York hip-hop scene, among other subjects, with equal zest. A title of a book that Friedman, in a meta-fuck-you gesture to the world, produced and printed himself because no major publisher would touch it in the 90s.
One early evening this January I was walking to a Thom Browne show in New York’s West Chelsea neighborhood, chatting with the Italian fashion journalist Angelo Flaccavento, when a commotion broke out right in front of us. We were forced to slow down as Michelle Harper, a street style bait known for nothing in particular except wearing outré outfits at fashion shows, sprung seemingly out of nowhere, decked out in the latest Browne couture-like outfit, street style photographers pouncing on her like wildcats on prey. Harper’s outfit, with carefully constructed white cotton spikes, did not allow for a jacket and even though I was freezing in my down parka she braved the cold so she could be photographed. As she teetered on her high heels on a narrow and icy sidewalk the photographers fought for space. One slipped and almost fell. Another risked getting hit by a car
Last winter I found myself wearing the same thing over and over again, literally. Every time I had to run out of the house in the blistering New York cold and a mixture of slush and snow, I reached for my Rick Owens down parka and side-zip boots with a creeper sole, into which I tucked the pant legs of a pair of black jeans. When the New York fashion week came in February, I could not care less for being seen in the same clothes day after day. It was an outfit I felt at ease with, knowing that it looked good and felt comfortable. I saw no reason to change it up.
This season the Russian-born designer Alexandre Plokhov is releasing a limited edition t-shirt with the band Cold Cave as part of his Fall/Winter 2014 collection. We like the idea of a band t-shirt without it being a band t-shirt, something abstract and elegant. Both creators, Wesley Eisold of Cold Cave and Alexandre Plokhov, admired each other’s work before they met, and this collaboration almost seems like it was meant to be.