Sunday, February 28, 2021

In the dream world...

As a lifelong dreamer, who has kept a dream journal since I was thirteen and studied Jungian dream analysis, this is particularly poignant...

Saturday, February 27, 2021

"I Dream (For You)" by Com Truise

"I Dream (For You)" appears on the most recent Com Truise (the nom de musique of Seth Haley) compilation release "In Decay, Too."

Friday, February 26, 2021

BEAUTY: Clothing--Danshan

Well, London Fashion Week has wrapped up and while there were some things that were interesting, COVID and shifts in the industry unrelated to the virus have taken the life out of it. The retreating of menswear is quite disappointing as most of the collections shown during this week (which was supposed to be BOTH menswear and womenswear) turned out to be solely womenswear. Oh sure, some brands and houses showed menswear and womenswear together, and a few are gender neutral, but I do mourn the loss of a dedicated, specific week of clothing for men...

Anyhow, here is the last of what I found to be of note:

Danshan, headed by Central Saint Martins graduates Danxia (Dan) Liu and Shan Peng Wong, showed a sturdy but flowing FW '21-'22 collection for London Fashion Week that consisted of some quite lyrical embellishments. Called "Sentience," the brand claims the collection looks at the idea that man is a sentient being capable of compassion and kindness needed for our survival within an increasingly polarized world. All I see are some beautiful patterns that resemble circular patterns one finds in nature (the circles of clouds pushed by wind, the ripples of water), and amorphous designs reminiscent of murmurating flocks of birds...

The brand was founded in 2016. Born during the "Single Child policy" in China, a period when sons were favored, Dan was brought up as a boy until the age of 12 by her family due to traditional societal pressures. Dan’s unconventional upbringing has shaped her values and this informs much of their work and feeds into the clothes they create which are often made of 'softer' fabrics and those that are traditionally considered to be feminine. The design duo strive to disregard gender archetypes and instead explore what is beneath the façade of machoism and strength.

Their mission statement says:
"Danshan explore the undervalued nuances of modern male life, examining how male body language develops and look at ways to make a masculine silhouette become effeminate, without breaking the austere boundaries that define menswear. Emotional, sensitive, vulnerable and dressed to reflect those qualities, their collections present a spirit of culture that creates a space for a progressive masculinity to develop, celebrating the freedom that sensitivity can give men to reclaim their masculinity, in the hope of creating a more accepting world."

BEAUTY: Clothing--Dunhill

Dunhill showed a very modern--for the brand at least--FW '21-'22 collection for London Fashion Week. In the show notes, creative director Mark Weston (who took over the venerable but creaking English brand four years ago to breathe new life) said the collection was "a playful gathering of objects featuring both provenance and purpose... at once homespun and urbane...I wanted to focus on clothes rather than themes, on individual garments and accessories and what they stand for in their own right. This is something that seems more appropriate when a collection is looked at in detail rather than shown and seen at a distance."

These playful objects included a classic Tom Baker-era Dr. Who-inspired scarf (to evoke Weston's mother who gave him and his brother such scarves to wear in winter!) and fanny packs that are disguised as cummerbunds (a brilliant idea and I don't know why we have not seen such a thing before!). The provenance is present in a coat called the Compendium, a riff on a past Dunhill object of the same name which was a little accessory that included a cigarette compartment, penknife, lighter holder, and pen tray. The coat version (fifth image here) offers plenty of pockets and storage along with a detachable, zippered bottom. Indeed, volume is present in most of the collection in roomy overcoats, a puffy version of a classic tan trench coat, and quilted leather scarf!

Thursday, February 25, 2021

BEAUTY: Clothing--Mithridate

The fairly new label Mithridate, headed by founder and creative director Demon Zhang showed an intriguing Fall-Winter 2021-2022 collection at London Fashion Week. At once simple and ornate (somehow, yes), the collection's lookbook and video were shot and filmed at an English country house but there is something--and this is just me--vaguely Russian about the silhouettes and decorative choices of the garments. I can't put my finger on it, but it feels beautifully Romantic and wintery while still being fashion forward: look at the voluminous bells on the men's trousers, the A-line coats, and the absolutely gorgeous embroidery of thorny branches and what looks like bejeweled bloody slashes (do take a look at the video!). I also love the botanical prints for men.

The official website offers scant little about the sense of the collection:

AW21: Automatiste

Mithridate’s Autumn Winter 2021 collection, ‘Automatiste’, is a profoundly personal response from founder and creative director Demon Zhang to her experience of the restrictive conditions of 2020. Throughout the months of isolation and uncertainty in Guangzhou, Zhang plumbed her subconscious for inspiration, embarking on a journey to discover her inner-self at a time when travel and external exploration were out of the question.

BEAUTY: Clothing--Burberry

For London Fashion Week, Burberry presented a curious FW '21-'22 menswear collection which included kilts/skirts and some head-tilting, subtle symbology that looks like it comes from initiation rits of secret order traditions like the Masons. Indeed, the film of the collection felt a bit like watching one of Matthew Barney's CREMASTER films (and that is a compliment--I am a huge Matthew Barney fan and saw the entire CREMASTER cycle at the Guggenheim years ago).

But Burberry creative director Riccardo Tisci has a more "innocent" statement which seems totally incomplete. Maybe he is playing like Mrs. Prada and being deliberately coy about the true inspiration for the collection.

"The collection gently challenges and subtly reinvents traditions, inviting freedom of expression. Tailoring has a sense of twisted classicism, whilst quintessential house codes – the trench coat and Burberry beige – are evolved. Details and decoration evoke the notion of ceremony through badges and adornments – symbolising community and friendship, codes of belonging. 'For my first Burberry menswear-focused collection, I wanted to celebrate the freedom of expression. Enclosed indoors, I dreamt of the outdoors and its beauty, fuelled by the thought of the creativity that comes when we are together.'"

Sunday, February 21, 2021

BEAUTY: Clothing--Bethany Williams

Hello regular readers, London Fashion Week is underway and not only has COVID seemingly destroyed any semblance of what a Fashion Week is, but the seismic shifts in how brands and houses present and do business have also contributed to this loss. And finally, the thing that has been slowly moving toward all Men's Fashion Weeks like a glacier, the blending of menswear and womenswear, has also arrived to put another nail in the coffin. Indeed, at least half of the shows at London Fashion Week are exclusively womenswear collections. Many years ago when all the major Fashion Weeks introduced stand-alone, specific Weeks for brands to only show menswear, I was very excited. For so long, an interest in clothing had been something solely for women. Men were banished to bland business suits and weekendwear, with the world assuming that was all men did: go to work at an office and then come home on the weekend to mow the lawn. It was refreshing to have the industry turn toward us men who have a genuine interest in clothing as art. And I miss that. Oh, I do applaud the collections that are genederless and the scant few that present menswear and womenswear together, but for the most part, it feels like a huge step backward. And honestly, it feels a bit sexist.

Anyhow, there were only a handful of things at London Fashion Week that stood out to me so far...with only 2 days left to go.

Bethany Williams, the British Fashion Award-winning designer has been working with the idea of sustainability and philanthropy for a while now, and to create this genderless capsule collection of only nine coats and jackets for fabled London department store Selfridges, she sourced recycled blankets from Kempton market, Bermondsey car boot sales, and a trove of online vintage dealers. Each she found tells a story from the textile and weaving techniques, to the county, town or village it was made in. “A blanket is so much more than a piece of fabric,” says Williams. “It is a feeling of comfort and shelter and I wanted that feeling to be at the heart of this capsule collection.” The idea of comfort and shelter is quite apt as 20% of the profits will be donated to The Magpie Project, a Newnham-based charity that works with homeless children and mothers living in temporary or unstable accommodations. And that is a beautiful thing.

Each piece, cut for nearly one-size-fits-all, comes with a 100% organic cotton lining, sourced from Wales and handmade wooden buttons made by craftsman Spencer Martin from London Green Wood, a not for profit cooperative, using Hackney grown wood or waste wood from local tree surgeons. And as of this writing, there are only 3 pieces left at the on-line site for Selfridges...

BEAUTY: Clothing--Olubiyi Thomas

Olubiyi Thomas's Fall Winter 2021-2022 collection is entitled "Future Highlander" and consists of fascinating pieces that seem to be a mash-up of contemporary silhouettes and Celtic tribal garments! Lagos born, Glasgow raised, London based Thomas attended Central Saint Martins from 2009-2013, and graduated from the feted menswear BA program. After stints at Alexander McQueen in London, and cult underground label Siki Im in New York, he established his own brand in 2015. His website says, "Inspired by his dual heritage Olubiyi Thomas takes an artisanal approach in his vivid reimagining of the linkages between traditional British men's tailoring heritage and African cultural history. With carefully sourced sustainable textiles, an expert focus on craftsmanship, cut, and technique, it is all handmade in London."


A little Craig Green, a little Rick Owens, MAXXIJ's FW '21-'22 collection "Future Blood" features tape straps, ruched sleeves and legs, asymmetry, and various iterations of puffy outerwear. It definitely references a future in a climate catastrophe-ravaged world where one might be a nomad, carrying everything along in pockets and pouches that attach. High concept survivalist clothing.


Released for London Fashion Week, the relatively new shoe brand ROKER shows a tiny bit of what goes into a pair of their shoes in this revealing video. It is awe-inspiring to see actual artisans at work creating a pair of shoes, working with soles, cutting leather, trimming and fitting by hand. I want everyone to see just what kind of a thrilling, beautiful thing it is...

ROKER is a designer contemporary footwear brand with a bold vision--non-binary shoes subverting traditional styles and made using the hand crafted techniques seen here in this video. Since its beginning in 2016, ROKER has been combining modernity with timeless craftsmanship. ROKER sources fine leathers from Italy and manufactures all its products in London.

Most of their options are genderless...just take a look at these glorious heels for men. They can come in different leathers and colors as well. I would love a pair...

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Yes, It's That Time Again, 2021

Regular readers know that twice a year, I blog about all the fascinating, beautiful, mesmerizing, strange, puzzling, outrageous, outstanding, unusual, artistic, inspiring sartorial creations coming out of the exquisite imaginations of designers, and down the runway. Regular readers may have also gleaned that I follow fashion the way some people delve into the art world. I think of "fashion" as "costume"--as a way to convey an idea or a concept. I appreciate what some designers do the same way one appreciates what an avant garde sculptor or painter or performance artist does. And in a way, these designers are performance artists. For me, it is not about what is hanging on racks in stores, but what these artists are creating and the ideas and concepts they are working with as an influence on their marvelous creativity. It is moving sculpture. It is theater. Fashion and clothing at this level serve as a kind of visual shorthand. A piece of clothing in the hands of a designer can evoke a place, a region, a country, a specific time or an entire era, a work of art such as a novel or film or painting, a class of people, even a social, financial, or spiritual element... and the combination of such pieces of clothing, as well as their harmony or contrast, can tell a fascinating story.

But the COVID-19 pandemic has brought tremendous suffering and change to the world. And the fashion industry has seen major seismic shifts not only in presentation but also in philosophy, due not only to COVID but also due to a perfect storm of issues of sustainability and waste and over-consumption. Many houses have decided to cut the number of shows they present per year. Most have decided to gang men's and women's shows into one. And most major brands are taking hard looks at how they do business in terms of these issues of waste and sustainability. These changes seem like they are not just put in place during the virus...they seem to be permanent.

So the usual compact show schedule is a little wonky this year. In the past, the season always started in London, then went to Florence for the Pitti Uomo trade show, picked up in Milan, then finished in Paris. Not so this year:

We've already had Milano and Paris last month so e are on to London and Florence:

London Fashion Week (Men's and Women's)
February 19 - 23, 2021

Pitti Uomo, Florence
February 21 - 23, 2021

As you can see, London is a genderless week, featuring shows for both sexes. And I am sure we can expect many innovative on-line films and lookbooks from designers. It is an exciting new medium to explore, one with the capacity to reach so many more people.

Stay tuned...we will all be exploring this newly transformed world together.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Pigeon Departures and Arrivals by Miguel Marquez Outside

The latest site specific public art installation from the amazingly clever and always poignant Michael Pederson a.k.a. Miguel Marquez Outside (previously here).

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

"She Was" by Yotto mixed by James Grant and Jody Wisternoff

There I was, minding my own business, listening to an Anjunadeep collection when this gem came on in the mix..."She Was" by Yotto mixed by James Grant and Jody Wisternoff. Percolating with a grand, sweeping sense, it features a sample of a man saying, simply, "..and there she was."

Monday, February 15, 2021

BEAUTY: Collage--Léo Litha

The collage work of French artist Léo Litha is powerful in its simplicity. Bold areas of color, graphic compositions, and enigmatic figures create an intriguing narrative.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

BEAUTY: Painting--Ben Reeves

I love the shimmering work of painter Ben Reeves. He creates magical images of city lights seen from above. There are some spots in the Berkeley Hills that overlook Berkeley/Oakland and across the Bay to San Francisco that look just like this...

Top to bottom: All Nighter; City Below; Evening Sun; Glimmer; Mid-1980s; Midnight; Port City; Summer