Sunday, June 24, 2018

BEAUTY: Clothing--Wales Bonner

Fashion journalist Sarah Mower at Vogue wrote a concise-but-packed-with-information review of Grace Wales Bonner's Spring Summer '19 collection at Paris Fashion Week. Here is an excerpt:

It’s almost beginning to feel as if the history of ’60s and early ’70s counterculture is replaying itself before our eyes. Since the election of Trump in 2016, the radical impulses of angry “wokeness” have started to metabolize, among some, into a search for inner peace and spiritual enlightenment. The evidence is all there with young fashion designers, the fast-response creative vocalizers of zeitgeist-y collective think. In the past week, Craig Green, Cottweiler, and Charles Jeffrey all spoke, variously, about the search for states of transcendence, and now comes the conversation with Grace Wales Bonner. She has called her collection Ecstatic Recital, and has gone yet deeper, right back to sources that any hippie who lived through the events of ’67–’71 might find incredibly familiar.

“It’s about entering this kind of eastern mysticism through sound,” she said, quietly placing a book, published in 1971, Be Here Now, on the desk in front of her. “It’s by Ram Dass, one of the first people who brought ideas of yoga and meditation to a Western audience. It’s one of the first books which introduced the idea of finding a spiritual path.” Ram Dass had an early association with Timothy Leary (which he subsequently repudiated). It was the tune in, turn on, drop out era. Now the Hanuman Foundation holds the rights to Ram Dass’s works. “And they very kindly gave me permission to work with some of their archive.” Inspirational texts from the book appear printed on polo shirts and cotton pieces. One reads: “The stillness. The calmness. The fulfillment. When you make love and experience the ecstasy of unity.” Wales Bonner says some of the proceeds will go back to the foundation.

Indian-influenced mystical practices might seem a surprising departure for a young woman who has spent her career thus far leading the awareness around black identity, but Wales Bonner found her way into this new phase through the same portal. “I accessed India through African-American artists,” she said, explaining how prayer chimes came to be suspended on the button hole of a cream tailored jacket, and why she’s used patch-worked brocades from India (recycled from scraps) as apron wraps. She started on this path while listening to the “devotional music” of Alice Coltrane, the African-American jazz musician who went on to set up her own ashram in California in the ’80s, and by studying the late African-American sculptor Terry Adkins, whose body of work involved creating fantastical musical instruments. “He was kind of a shaman, I’d say.” There are prints of Adkins’s images on cotton patches that appear on a blue-and-white-striped shirt. She likes the idea of “someone who wears their history.”

Wales Bonner is a practitioner of that which she preaches—she spent time on a retreat in India recently—although she’d certainly disagree with the preachy turn of phrase. “I’m transparent about the meaning of what I do, but it’s not prescriptive,” she considers. In the end, it’s a more relaxed collection, mixing in nylon yoga pants with cargo pockets, and jersey pieces with her more familiar signature tailoring and some of the elaborate embroideries she’s known for.

I read BE HERE NOW many, many years ago and it was a favorite book of a dear friend of mine who passed away 2 weeks ago now, so this is especially poignant. She was an avid reader of this blog and she would have seen this Wales Bonner collection and just loved cher Odette, si vous pouvez le voir, faites le moi savoir. Je t'ai aimé, je t'aime, je t'aimerai toujours.

BEAUTY: Clothing--Alexander McQueen

McQueen for men has always been about tailoring, no matter the concept, presentation, or additional elements. And Sarah Burton has kept that alive at the house, thankfully. For this SS '19 collection at Paris Fashion Week, she took the idea of tailoring, playing with and musing on traditional menswear (the restrictive nature of it, the uniformity of it not only in a business setting but in a military setting where the uniform is literal), and then returned to a past concept for inspiration: that of British photographer John Deakin who photographed the painter Francis Bacon and his inner circle throughout the 1950s and 60s. Both men were gay at a time when it was not only frowned upon but also illegal. So, in a form of stream of consciousness type of fabrication, these garments in the collection speak to a kind of restrictive menswear that has been altered and slightly fetishized (see elongated shapes, nipped waists, and trench coats that have been slashed and re-scaled), the idea of the underground gay "leather man" with leather trenches and motorcycle wear, and finally, not only the sketches (on black and white suits but also on the black leather motorcycle outfit) but the color and paint daubs and washes of artist Francis Bacon. Please notice the paint washes across the blazer and overcoat near the end are not paint but embroidery, with the end threads trailing like wet dripping paint. That is simple but amazing...

And for these last two suits covered in sketches and graffiti, the designs are actually beaded-on-tulle-on-silk. BREATHTAKING.

BEAUTY: Clothing--Ann Demeulemeester

Since Ann Demeulemeester left her own company in 2013, creative director Sébastien Meunier has kept the DNA of the house pretty much intact. No surprise there since he had designed the men's collection under Demeulemeester since 2010. So he knows what he is doing.

And for this SS '19 outing at Paris Fashion Week, the house's lyrical, dreamy silhouettes from the 18th and 19th centuries continued (see previous posts of such collections here, here, and here). Such Romantic, historical clothing is my weal spot and takes me back to my own New Romantic days in the 80s. This particular collection full of tulle, lace, and floppy hats seems to be infused with a dreamy, hazy sense of warm afternoons...spent lying wheat fields at the edge of a little village of thatched cottages. The structured jackets and coats which reference another era pair well with looser coats that drape like silky bathrobes (I used to have a beautiful blue silk bathrobe I would like a lightweight overcoat). The generously cut and gathered pirate shirts are always fun. Soutache details, trailing straps, and sandals that lace up with leather or jute add texture. And of course the pink and gold jacquard pieces add a sense of Bouguereau to the proceedings.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

BEAUTY: Clothing--Yohji Yamamoto

Yohji Yamamoto (previously here), Spring Summer '19 at Paris Fashion Week. Black (as usual), layered (as usual), "homeless chic"(as usual), flowing trousers (as usual), asymmetrical cuts (as usual), silky, streaks of bright color, Japanese imagery and kanji.

BEAUTY: Clothing--Dries Van Noten

Dries Van Noten loves patterns, the more intricate the better. And for his Spring Summer '19 collection at Paris Fashion Week, he looked to one of the masters of 1960s/70s patterns, Verner Panton (1926 - 1998).

For those who may not be familiar, Panton was a Danish furniture and interior designer who created some extraordinary work in his lifetime. Many of his furniture pieces are iconic and still in production such as the molded plastic Panton Chair.

His interiors were curved, organically inspired, and biophilic even before that concept was fully formed...and highly futuristic. Think "2001: A Space Odyssey."

"I wanted a collection which was really fresh, and about color. So we looked to [the Verner Panton] estate, and asked for permission to use the prints digitally, rescale them and blow them up," Van Noten said. Each garment with a direct use of Panton’s work will be co-labelled. But why Panton to begin with? "Because sitting in those interiors, you got a different vibe and look to the world."

Fresh? Check. Colorful? Check. Different look to the world? Check. This collection certainly references a time when a sense of optimism about the future reigned...when we would be driving flying cars, living in domes on our moon, exploring Mars, and generally having a groovy time...not worrying about whether we are all going to kill each other over skin color or religion or just because someone can buy an automatic weapon...

Oh, I'm just gonna go watch some old episodes of "Space: 1999"...

BEAUTY: Clothing--Boris Bidjan Saberi

I quite like Boris Bidjan Saberi (previously here). I like his minimal, post-apocalyptic, architectural approach to building garments. In this way he is a bit like the divine Rick Owens.

Inspirations for this Spring Summer '19 collection at Paris Fashion Week, according to the designer, were achromatopsia (the condition of only being able to see in black, white, or shades of gray), Brutalist architecture, and mineworkers’ outfits (!). Interesting that we just saw Rick Owens' collection (here) in which Russian Constructivism played a role...

I love the tunics and the grimy overcoats and the general otherworldly-ness of it all...