The fabrics of our clothing define the identity of the wearer. According to the artistShawnHuckins, covering oneself means showing oneself to the world and at the same time hiding, in some cases protecting oneself, from the heat, cold and rain, but above all from the gaze of those around us. The textures, as well as the patterns that we choose to wear, whether houndstooth, Paisley or Prince of Wales, define our mood and our identity, and that is why the artist based in South Hampshire has chosen to reinterpret the American painting tradition starting from the link between fabric and identity.
“Dirty Laundry” is a series of works inspired by 18th and 19th century American portraiture, with the faces of the subjects portrayed in oil being covered by piles of fabrics, rolled or lowered over the heads of the subjects. The choice to represent cottons and silks in a disorderly way is not only a way to enhance the plasticity of the folds but rather a means to make the theme of the private dimension even more central. The hidden subjects, of whom we only see some details of the face or the gestures of the hands, appear mysterious, somehow protected in their interiority, even though they appear to the world as full of colors, which in some way do not represent them but protect them from our gaze. Shawn Huckins is questioning himself on the meaning of tradition, on the identity of the American people and not only, on that still undefined bond we have with material objects.
Yesterday, Balenciaga presented its Spring 2024 collection with a 5-minute short video in which, in the pouring rain, the eye of the (motionless) camera captures “passersby”, who are obviously wearing garments from the upcoming Spring from the Kering Group-owned fashion house.
It all took place on the sidewalk in front of 10 Avenue George V in the heart of Paris, which is the address of Balenciaga’s first couture store, which (re)opened its doors in July 2022. In reality, however, its history starts much further back. For it was right there that back in 1937, 53 years before its reopening, the Spanish master of Haute Couture and founder of the maison Cristóbal Balenciaga, started it all by opening his first store, later closed in 1968.
The Balenciaga Couture Store is located inside the most famous triangle in Paris, the one between the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and Place de la Concorde, a historic place in the French capital, where the fashion house directed by Demna wanted to give continuity to the legacy of its founder by reopening and giving a new life to that store full of meaning.
Two floors, one dedicated to women and the other to men, where the very essence of Balenciaga is enhanced by bringing together traditions, made up of classic craftsmanship and workmanship, with the most innovative techniques.
“The Couture Store concept is a gateway to Couture fashion, which remains to obscure universe, especially for the younger generation. In this new store, products, bespoke services and retail excellence are a reinvention of the experience for our customers. It is exciting to be able to present this level of craftsmanship, creativity and savoir-faire made in France at our historic address”, these were the words of Balenciaga CEO Cédric Charbit at the presentation of the project.
Today, Demna makes his Balenciaga Couture Store a symbol of the fashion house’s philosophy as well as the focal point of his narrative where past, present and future meet and history takes shape as it is made.
Jean Paul Gaultier is without question one of the most brilliant and eccentric designers ever. His dazzling and incredible career as a couturier is studded with unparalleled and unique peaks that have made history in contemporary fashion. In reality, however, the spark that started it all and gave us the wonderful work of the enfant prodige of French fashion must be sought in the seventh art, cinema.
The jailbird film was Falbalas, by French director Jacques Becker, released in 1945. The film tells the story of a womanizing fashion designer who begins courting the girlfriend of a close friend, but things do not go as planned.
“I was literally seduced by the atmosphere of the film and particularly that of a maison during World War II”, this is how Jean Paul Gaultier expressed himself about the very film and why it was the enlightenment that then led him on the path that led him to be what he was and still is today.
Growing up in the Parisian suburbs, JPG never studied to become a designer; he was for all intents and purposes a self-taught designer who began sending his sketches to the most fashionable French designers of the time. It was Pierre Cardin who first glimpsed the potential and enormous talent of that very young designer, so much so that he hired him as his assistant in 1970. It was in 1976, however, that Gaultier launched his eponymous brand, and from there on we know the story: the French designer would establish himself as one of the most eclectic and brilliant personalities in the history of contemporary fashion.
It was, however, with Peter Greenaway’s 1989 film, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, that JPG could finally give vent to his desire to be reunited with his first love. Gaultier will be the costume designer of that film, where Helen Mirren will wear the very famous black bodysuit cut with the unmistakable bondage aesthetic, a garment that will represent from that moment on, the perfect synthesis between the French designer’s work as a pure designer and his work as a costume designer. She would work again in this role in The Lost City or The Lost City of Children, a 1995 French science fiction film directed, by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, set in the near future and winking at the steampunk style.
But it was in 1997 that his flair in the film world manifested itself in all its grandeur. French filmmaker Luc Besson chose him as costume designer for the most expensive European-produced film ever for the time, the iconic The Fifth Element.
Here Gaultier can really play and have fun like never before. In fact, more than $90 million will be allocated for the film – for a global gross of more than $264 – and more than 1,000 costumes will be made. The film’s aesthetic will remain in the collective imagination by defining an era and a style, receiving a César Awards nomination for best costumes as well.
Forever indelible in the memory of all who saw the film are the white headbands worn by Leeloo, a being with humanoid features and played by the beautiful Milla Jovovich, or the leopard catsuit worn by Chris Tucker – DJ Ruby Rhod in the film – to give another example. It was not only the costumes that were stellar, the cast was no less: In addition to the actors already mentioned we find Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Tricky, Mathieu Kassovitz and many others.
His being a visionary, a forerunner of the times and trends-just think of his overcoming already at the time the concept of genre in order to immerse the film’s characters in the future in which they live (the film is in fact set mainly in 2263)-makes Jean Paul Gaultier a creative genius unrepeatable even in the world of cinema. In 2004 he will also work on the costumes for Pedro Almodóvar’s La mala educación together with Paco Delgado.
His artistic stature as a costume designer and all-around movie man would later be made definitive in 2012, when the couturier was chosen as a juror for the 65th Cannes Film Festival.
If Valentino announced last week that it will present its next Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2023/24 collection within the striking location of the Château de Chantilly, Saint Laurent will not be outdone.
According to reports from WWD, the brand headed by Anthony Vaccarello will present its next men’s collection on June 12, with a show in the beautiful setting of Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie, in the area known as the Kulturforum.
After a long 5-year closure due to a major renovation by the international firm David Chipperfield Architects, founded by the British architect of the same name in 1985, the Neue Nationalgalerie reopened its doors to the public in 2021.
The marvelous structure, opened in 1968 and designed by German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe -entirely made of steel and glass – is undoubtedly one of the most dazzling and successful examples of German modernism with an entrance hall completely surrounded by glass walls and a truly imposing appearance despite being developed on a single floor. The ceiling, on the other hand, is a huge metal grid. The whole building tells the philosophy of its creator very well, where the overwhelming gives way to the essential.
The collection housed within the Neue Nationalgalerie is dedicated to 20th-century art, with works also from the late 19th century up to and including precisely the entire 20th century. In fact, masterpieces by Pablo Picasso, Giorgio De Chirico, Salvador Dali and Paul Klee, just to name a few, are on display.
As for the show of Saint Laurent’s upcoming Spring/Summer men’s collection, the only thing certain is that the date is set for June 12 at the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin.
Bottega Veneta‘s project entitled “The Square”, a journey to discover the world’s cultures through art, which inspires dialogue and instills curiosity, celebrating local artists and artisans, continues. After stops in Dubai in 2022 and Tokyo, the Italian fashion house this time lands in Brazil, specifically in São Paulo, paying homage to the naturalized Italian-born Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi, and her Casa de Vidro.
The Casa de Vidro was Lina Bo Bardi’s first ever building project, nestled in the lush vegetation of the Morumbi neighborhood in São Paulo, it was the architect’s residence until her death in 1992.
Achillina Bo aka Lina Bo Bardi, was born in Rome in 1914 and, after graduation began her career in Gio Ponti’s studio. She moved to Brazil in 1946 along with her husband Pietro Maria Bardi, where she became a Brazilian citizen in 1951, the same year in which she finished the construction of her first building as an architect, precisely the Casa de Vidro.
She would become one of the most influential personalities of Brazilian modernism, and would also be a prolific artisan making jewelry, costumes, furniture and stage sets throughout her life.
“It is truly inspiring to meet here with artists of different generations, different disciplines, and from all over Brazil to celebrate the legacy of Lina Bo Bardi and the richness of Brazilian culture. Bottega Veneta is synonymous with timeless style. With The Square São Paulo, we recognize how Lina’s ideas and aesthetics remain relevant today, a testament to the capacity for change inherent in design and culture”, these are the words of Bottega Veneta Creative Director Matthieu Blazy.
The initiative, personally supervised by Blazy and curated by Mari Stockler, will be structured in four thematic paths that will then be further explored in as many four volumes, brought together in a limited edition box set. Within the structure, other works created by other contemporary Brazilian artists will be placed alongside the architect’s creations in a dialogue between the past, present and future of the South American country’s creativity and culture.
The Casa de Vidro opens its doors to the public today, May 26, and will be open to visitors until June 3.