It is with incredible sense of sadness that I write about the departure of Yohan Serfaty, who succumbed to cancer earlier today. Yohan was a talented menswear designer, but, more importantly, a sweet and gentle human being. He worked quietly and showed his menswear in Paris without fanfare. He designed from the heart and the world is now just a little more impoverished because that heart is no longer beating. R.I.P.
When in 2006 the German art book publisher Steidl first released the book by one of the most famously provocative photographers, Guy Bourdin – A Message for You, it quickly sold out. The gorgeous two-volume series documented a period of Bourdin’s work from 1977 to 1980 with the dancer-turned-model Nicolle Meyer as his muse. Seven years later comes the second edition.
Bourdin was a notorious photographer; a precursor of in-your-face sexuality that now seems quite banal because of countless imitation and image overload. But not back then. Bourdin’s loud colors and unbridled sexuality of his subject matter were positively scandalous in the 70s. There is no denying that the women in his photographs look objectified. But it seems that Bourdin’s intent seemed to be reflecting and magnifying what he saw around him.
The work of the Swiss photographer Rene Burri is well known, especially the iconic photos from his Magnum Agency days. Just search Google Images for Che Guevara and his famous shot of Guevara smoking a cigar is one of the first that pops up.
Though most of Burri’s famous images are black and white, he has done a substantial amount of work in color. The new book Rene Burri: Impossible Reminiscences (Phaidon, $100) explores this underexposed side of the photographer’s oeuvre.
Fashion can be many things, likeable or not. Among these, fashion as theater is one aspect that gives it a certain kind of excitement. And by theater I don’t mean a mere parade of lavish outfits, but a convergence of the immaterial, in the form of designer’s ideas, with the material, in the form of a show that makes your heart jump even if for a second. Anyone familiar with the runway presentations of Alexander McQueen of Hussein Chalayan will know what I’m talking about. The fact that there is an incredible amount of painstaking work that leads up to the spectacle that lasts a mere fifteen minutes makes it all the more exciting because of how irrational the whole thing is.
Pattern, the new volume aiming to survey contemporary fashion from Phaidon ($79.95) is quite a tome to behold, with over 400 gorgeously laid out pages, printed on high-quality paper and with a beautiful cover, embossed and gold-foiled. It also comes in a paper Tyvek tote (no, you cannot rip Tyvek, ask me how I know). The book follows the same format as the previous survey, Sample (Phaidon, 2005), in which ten influential fashion figures served as curators, each picking ten designers to feature in the book. Each of the one hundred designers got a two-spread overview with a blurb and some photos.
That graphic design can unite fashion, art, and music is an unusual proposition, certainly one I haven’t thought about, but going through the new book M to M of M/M (Paris) (Rizolli, $85) was an eye-opening experience. It makes sense on a basic creative level. All three disciplines demand visual representation and M/M, the design firm that has worked with the likes of Bjork, Yohji Yamamoto, and Hans Ulrich Olbrist since 1992 does it by putting the three disciplines through their own stylistic prism.
Yesterday I stopped by the installation/trunk show of the New York label InAisce held in West SoHo at the menswear boutique Atelier. It is a first event of this kind for InAisce, where you can view the entire Fall/Winter 2013 men’s and women’s collections, pre-order the garments that you like, and chat with the entire InAisce team. You can also check out the remarkable wool felt pieces by the Dutch artist Claudy Yongstra. The trunk show will go on through today.
“Romanticism is a grace, celestial or infernal, that bestows us eternal stigmata.”
In recent years museums have paid quite a bit of attention to the dark side of human emotion, from the brilliant 2006 Czech exhibit “In Morbid Colors,” to the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Met in New York, where McQueen’s own darkness was cloaked in an aura of romanticism by the curator Andrew Bolton, to this year’s “Death: A Self-Portrait” at the Welcomme Collection in London.
As part of the ongoing exhibition series called “Romantic Impulse,” the Stadel Museum in Frankfurt au Main, Germany recently held an exhibit called “Dark Romanticism: From Goya to Max Ernst,” which finished last month. But don’t worry if you missed it – the exhibit was accompanied by a three hundred-page catalog, published by Hatje-Cantz, that is hitting the shelves on this side of the pond (the exhibit itself will travel to Musee d’Orsay in Paris this spring).
Yesterday I visited Alexandre Plokhov’s studio in New York’s Flatiron district to check out his Fall/Winter 2013 collection. Plokhov was in a pretty serene mood despite his mind-boggling schedule (he was hopping on the plane the same afternoon to go to Premiere Vision in Paris.).
The collection reflected Plokhov’s continuous refinement of his style. In a way Plokhov presented a full wardrobe, from the most casual to the most sophisticated looks – there was even his version of a tuxedo (perhaps for our fist black tie party?).
Two days ago, Daniel and I were sitting in a cafe in Paris and he said, “We should’ve tracked down Tobias Wistisen since we are here; he makes great jewelry.” That’s why I was pleasantly surprised to find Wistisen a few hours later at the Tranoi fair. The Danish designer cut his teeth assisting John Galliano, but he was inevitably drawn to jewelry design. “Paris has a deep tradition of jewelry making,” he told me. Wistisen works with artisans many of whom are well into their 60s and 70s, and he is taking full advantage of their skills. “They get so excited when you ask them to experiment,” said Wistisen, “because they are tired of making wedding bands.” That’s where Wistisen comes in with his unconventional designs and unusual metal treatments.