Each season the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture (CSHC) meets to decide which guest designers get to show during the haute couture calendar in Paris. These designers, while not being formally accepted into the rarefied couture club, are considered as worthy of showing alongside the likes of Chanel and Dior. Its selection process is supposed to be rigorous and extremely selective, in order to reflect that haute couture is the pinnacle of fashion design and craftsmanship.
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.
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 hard-hitting, ruptured, scarred, molten, carnal sculptures of the Belgian sculptor Berlinde De Bruyckere await those of you who will be in London and/or Ghent this winter.
De Bruyckere’s show, “Met tere huid/Of tender skin,” comprised of gorgeous (and intestinal) wax, leather, cloth, rope, iron and epoxy resin hanging wall sculptures, drawings, and hulking encaustic and wood sculptures are up at Hauser & Wirth in London for a couple of more weeks, while a 100-plus piece mid-career retrospective is on at S.M.A.K., Ghent through the middle of February.
If by mixing works from different periods and media the curators of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts exhibit Goya: Order and Disorder strived for their viewers to appreciate the artist’s versatility, their efforts have surpassed their mark.
With 170 paintings, prints, and drawings occupying eight thematically categorized rooms, the display is diverse and comprehensive. In fact, the exhibit showcases Francisco Goya’s range of traditional court portraiture, whimsical prints, and etchings depicting the devastating effects of war so expertly that it makes you wonder how such multifacetedness can stem from one artist.
An exhibition of work by the sculptor Barry X Ball opens today in Stockholm at McCabe Fine Art, serendipitously for us as we are currently preparing a lengthy profile of the artist based on a recent studio visit to be published soon. The last time Ball showed in Sweden was in 1993, so the McCabe Fine Art exhibition is an opportunity for Ball’s fans to access his work in person and for the minting of new fans among those new to Ball’s work. And access in person you should if you can.
“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.
“I wanted to drape a piece of fabric into a pair of trousers, because molding on a human body was something we weren’t taught in fashion school” – says Leon Emanuel Blanck, the young German designer whose concise and conceptual collections, after only 4 seasons, are stocked by meccas of all things black and deconstructed such as Antonioli in Milan, Ink in Hong Kong, and SV Moscow. “I couldn’t find anyone to do it on, so I ended up doing it on myself. I had to move and turn a lot while I was at it, so I got a very distorted pair of trousers”.
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.