Thursday, September 22, 2011

My article on Papercut Magazine (part 2)

No, I'm not dead, nor this blog. I've taken long vacations devoted to my many projects and now they are nearly finished, including a Victorian thriller, scenarii, articles for magazines and more. Phew !
And the better way for this come back is to start with the release of the second part of my article "My Generation" published in the gorgeous September edition of Papercut.
Here's the link, take a look, it's page 22 :

Do you like it ? Or not convinced yet ? Stay stunned ! Coming soon, a feature on the modern praise of the past (your opinion is warmly welcome, please visit my Facebook page for a quick poll), and more articles on contemporary culture.
Be prepared for 2012 ...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Spotlight : Karin Dreijer Andersson, The Black Riding Mood

 You might think that I'm neglecting this blog. You're partly right, but it is because I live by a rule that is "when you have nothing to say, saying nothing is better than saying stupidities or to repeat yourself". When I read magazines and other blogs, I have the impression to suffer from enormous deja-vus, they're all with stripes, and Gucci and summer ... To be honest, this is the season that bores me the more and these days, fashion is the least of my worries. I've prefered to devote myself to the writing of my fifth novel. It's generally what I do when I am particularly deceived by the cultural releases, that is to say novels, movies and music. When I see a world, with the wonderful cultural inheritance we know, which, prefering easiness, releases movies such as The Red Riding Hood, that really motivates me to produce something better. But I have choosed this example because this turkey had a least an advantage : its soundtrack features an artist I really admire and who inspires me a lot.
 This lady's name is Karin Dreijer Andersson. The 36 years old Swede is the voice and the spirit of two amazing bands : Fever Ray, which signs the song The Wolf on the Red Riding Hood's soundtrack, and iconic electronic duo The Knife, with her brother Olof. Both might be unfamiliar to you if you're not into electronic music, but even if Karin and her projects are still very discreet, they have a huge impact in the contemporary world of music.
I ran into The Knife by chance, some years ago. At the time, my electronical universe was limited to male voices, either trip hop (Massive Attack, Sneaker Pimps) or industrial, such as Hocico, Das Ich and other brutal lyricism. My only female experiences were Goldfrapp and Björk, who I regarded as the strangest of my tastes. So, the first time I heard a song of The Knife, it was quite a revolution.
 It looked like an alien encounter; you can't help but have the strong feeling that you have met something superior, something more intense. Let's start with Neverland, from their second album, Silent Shout (2006), it is an easy introduction. If you're caught, then you could dare to enter deeper in their unusual vibrancy and their universe, an odd mix of darkness, bitterness, childhood and fairyland. They quote David Lynch, Donnie Darko, Kate Bush and Siouxsie and the Banshees, but you can expect to find more from your unconscious than in any psychotherapy. But don't expect a classical relationship, because The Knife is not here to satisfy masses, and they're not afraid to shock your ears and your expectations. Silent shout is quite disturbing, and you will tend to prefer Deep Cuts (2003) and The Knife (2001), perhaps more academic. Their latest creation, Tomorrow, in a Year (2010) in association with Mt. Sims is even harder to reach (don't say creepy !), even for I who appreciate the sound of Matthew Sims
 But, what makes the band so unique is the voice and personality of Karin. At the same time very pure, but fragile, she is constantly at the limits of shrill and sweetish in her singing, which makes a huge contrast with her play on her appearance, very dark and tribal. While with The Knife, she liked to hide herself behind a plague doctor mask : but don't see any Gaga attempt here. The lady doesn't like mainstream attention. Nominated thrice at the Grammis (the Swedish equivalent of the Grammy Awards), she never came, even when she had won several prizes. Her taste for costumes and her contribution to movies' soundtracks could remind of band Daft Punk, but Karin Dreijer Andersson is much more than a marketing mystery. She stands for women in the music industry, for the minorities, and succeeds in offering a rare mysticism to a world where music is devoted to money and fame.
 Her solo project, Fever Ray, founded in 2009, led her to throw the masks, and she adopted tribal paintings and somptuous costumes. Death and shamanism are the main visual themes, but loneliness is what stands out from the album. Many critics have qualified her work of "claustrophobic", but I quite disagree with the term, or we are putting a different meaning here. The music of The Knife recalled the countryside, dense forests of dark pine trees, large desert plain, and was more organic, even if cold, as those of Ladytron. With Fever Ray, Andersson migrates inside the cities by night, the gloomy interiors, the Platonician grottos with their lack of realism and their nightmares, finding Neverland again. With this new and outstanding aesthetism, she has decided to explore darker sides of her music, even if, for the moment, it is still close to those of The Knife, a fact that critics can't help but underline. But Karin is from those creatures who develop herselves without the look and opinion of the others, and her work is still the most sensible and remarkable innovation I've seen in music industry so far.
Katie Stelmanis from Austra - Nika Roza Danilova from Zola Jesus
 Moreover, she has opened the way for girls in electronic music, far from the clichés of the sexy djs of trendy parties (Miss Kittin and other IT girls suddenly turned musically inspired; that doesn't prevent them from having talent, don't make me say what I didn't). Now, the blondes with distorded voices are a new trend, and if they're not all of great quality, they still offer some good tunes. We can quote Canadian singer Katie Stelmanis, who acts both in solo and with band Austra, and Russian American Nika Roza Danilova, better known under the name of Zola Jesus. In the brunettes' side, Björk has found a spiritual daughter in Grimes, another Canadian singer. The common point of those youngsters is the dark mood, and they are often dubbed witches by narrow-minded journalists. Put some Rick Owens on them and they will consider them as the new IT girls ...
As for Karin Dreijer Andersson, no risk to find her inside the pages of a fashion magazine, even if her style is more interesting and intense than those of an Alexa Chung (seriously, she's cute, but who's that girl ?). Just listen to her music, like it or hate it. But find out that there is life outside of the filmography of Catherine Hardwicke ...
Claire Boucher aka Grimes - copyright David J. Romero
(If you know or own the copyright of one of this photos, please contact me.)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Trend : Shanghai Ladies

Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles in The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
 The charms of the past would never stop seducing the Fashion world. Thanks to Joan Harris, the 60s silhouettes are back, with their curves and their vitally kitsch dresses, hairdos and stilettos. Since then, the image fashion guru's want for the 21st century's women is quite arguable. While some are thinking that androginity is the future for human being, many people are trying to reassert the right to an assumed feminity. For these women, the post WWII's wardrobe is what suits them the best. Actually, it is genuinely elegant, cute and feminine. But Past has got its negative points too, and we did a long way since then, especially in term of social and sexual progress. Living in our modern world with pencil skirts and corsets is only appealing in the paper ... So, we need to search another model for our thrist of classic feminity.
Gene Tierney in The Shanghai Gesture (1941)
 I don't know what Marc Jacob had in mind when he launched the Summer collection of Louis Vuitton, but he certainly has felt that the fashion's wind was now blowing from the east. But, fortunately, the trend avoided the trap of the geishas' aestheticism and rather chose a vision of the woman which was more free. On the bounce of the American designer, the fashion world is heading to a city which is, in our westerner's mind, a synonymous with exoticism, sensuality and luxury : Shanghai. But the Shanghai which inspires Industry this Fall is the Shanghai of the classic black and white movies of the 40s. Indeed, the aestheticism chosen is very old-world, nearly cliché, with a lot of red silk, dark floral patterns and jazzy influences.
Gene Tierney
 The muses I suggest are American actresses Rita Hayworth and Gene Tierney. They have both played in movies with Shanghai in the title, the first one in The Lady from Shanghai (the presence of the Chinese city here was just a way to add mystery to her character) and the second one in The Chinese Gesture. If you are familiar with this one, you would agree that, first, Gene should certainly have deserved more recognition, and secondly, that her costumes, created by her husband and famous American designer Oleg Cassini, were not particularly chinese ... So, why emphasizing them in an article on Shanghai's fashion ? Because they embody the spirit of this Fall Chinese's influence. It's totally out of the question to bring back the traditional Chinese dresses. Mainly because Industry is looking for Chinese buyers, who want novelty, but at the same time, something that would reassure them  ... So, what they want is to instill the preciosity and the discreet eroticism of Asia's biggest country into contemporary and western garments.
Saffron Knight AW2011 collection
 This way, they offer us exoticism within our reach and to Chinese buyers, a taste of classic Hollywood which would fit their own codes. Clever, isn't it ?
The new Shanghai ladies are Amazons, they are lounge's warriors, with an independence and an intelligence similar (if not superior) to men, with seduction as their secret weapon. They are both sensible, like Elsa in The Lady from Shanghai and Poppy in The Shanghai Gesture, but terribly unreachable and almost living godesses. Many designers and brands have already played with those codes in their Fall collection. The one of Jamaican-British designer Saffron Knight is particularly accomplished. Very far from her usual style, this collection marry tradition and a cheeky modernity with success. The Dragon-lady is not dead ...
Topshop header for its collection 'Shanghai'
 The Shanghai collection from Topshop is less convincing. It's more difficult to recognize the Chinese influences in the offered garments, which are sometimes more Japanese than Chinese ... Looks like geography and fashion are still not studied in the same schools ... But some pieces remain in the spirit we've talked about. And I guess that we will see more interesting stuff in the next months ...
My personal pick would be a dress from the Fall catalogue of French online retailer 3Suisses, which offers a sexy silk dress (avaible in Chinese-like print or trendy colours) for only 29,90 euros (which is £25,90 and almost $42). This dress is genuinely in the mood of those classic 40s movies, full of exoticism and of strong heroines. The perfect answer to the desperate housewives of last year. Plus, there is travel with your past ...
3Suisses dress 29,90 euros, avaible in many European and foreign countries

Monday, May 16, 2011

My article on Papercut Magazine (part 1)

"My favorite has to be Samantha Tyler's article My Generation, so loved that we split it across this issue and the next -read the first half, you'll love it too." Hayley Maybury, editor of Papercut. (click on "Expand" to read it ; or, see the screencaptures in the Who's Sam section at the top of the blog. )
Go to page 62 to discover the said first part of my article on the new generation of designers, artists and fashion leaders of today and tomorrow. I hope you would enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it ...   
In order of appearance, you will meet : 
Thor actress  Jaimie Alexander is also gracing the cover, and there are great photoshots and articles you will certainly like to see ! Happy Birthday Papercut, you're the cutest one-year old baby I've ever seen ! ;-D

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Decoding : Cute Overdose

A facebook group found out freaky similarities between a Disney wedding and those of William and Kate
 Most of the people I met think that I am no fun. They say that I didn't kept my children's soul because I don't know by heart the song of the opening credits of the Japanese cartoon I've watched when I was a child. They say that I am a cold heart because I ask them to stop sending me YouTube videos of kittens while at work. And they call me an alien because I have main interests and joys different from them. As you can see, in our modern society, grown-ups still behave like kids in the freaking sandbox ... In France, the phenomenon is clearly visible with people in their thirties, and I've observed some similarities while in the USA too. They seem to suffer from the Peter Pan's syndrome : they refuse to enjoy themselves like adults, so they keep doing kids activities, using kids references and most importantly, dressing with kids accessories, this, past twenty. Is this one of the symptoms of the 11th September's trauma ? I think it is rather a new response to the punk "No Future". But while punks were sinking into sex, drugs and good music, this new generation prefers sweets, teddy bears and facebook groups. Harmless ? I'm not sure. But irritating, definitely.
T-shirt Uniqlo £7,99 - Necklace Vivienne Westwood 220euros - Shoes Jeremy Scott for Adidas $250
The day Kate told "yes" to William, I was quite happy. Everyone was behind its TV, and I could enjoy my city, being the only one outside and not obsessed by a wedding that didn't touch me at all. But the avalanche catched me up the following days with intensive press coverage and, above all, web invasion. Oh yes, they were cute, love is great, the princesses had ridiculous hats ... People around the world were acting as if this event was personal to them, calling the bride "Kate" as if she was a close friend. It was an earth-scale version of  movie Muriel, without the good tunes of ABBA. Yes, see, I like joyful music. But I must miss the namby pamby allele on my female chromosome, perhaps the same one which prevents me to like heels ( see my article I'm not Cinderella ), because I don't do idiot little cries when I see a baby or an animal. Something you're now told to do in every fashion magazine that respects itself. Really.
As everything mainstream, the "Cute" quickly became a good tank of inspiration for fashion, and some designers have started to suffer from the syndrom, or mostly, to think that idiots would be delighted to buy their regressive creations. It is certainly the case of Jeremy Scott, who even admits that creating his teddy bears sneakers was the dumbest ideas he had. But thanks to the trend of wearing kids' toys as fashion accessories, he will make a fortune without any regret. Many others were precursors, Moschino and Sonia Rikyel, for example, which quickly assumed a change for exhilarating fluo colours and  models acting like little girls.
Paul&Joe : jacket 295euros, lipstick 21,65euros
But the Golden Palm at Cannes Festival would certainly go this year to the childish prints. Mickey is struting about in both Uniqlo and Topshop, with many of his closest relatives. But now that everyone has got the new book of Jonathan Safran Foer on the bedside, the supreme IT is to show love for animals. Forget about the fuddy-duddy of wearing sweaters with horses designs ! But you will be even trendier with lobsters and penguins in your tees and scarves, signé Charlotte Taylor. The cat is a sure value : it always will be cute. So, brand Paul&Joe was certain to make a hit with their lipstick in shape of the pet. Adorable, admittedly, but how stupid when you have to use it and the cat disappears ? As usual, consumerism didn't stop to strike ... But you don't only wear animals as prints, you also have to wear them as accessories themselves ! The trend has been launched in the catwalks, where models started walking their dogs. Then Natalia Vodianova carried a lamb for lingerie brand Etam. And then again, the escalation couldn't be stopped. On the cover of the magazines, you cannot see the girl without the beast, not dangerous anymore. Even Robert Pattinson showed that gators were cute, and Bulgari offered a big cuddly toy to its new muse Kirsten Dunst ... If Givenchy and Wildfox are still trying to sell drooling fangs, they are totally out of the time. The wild animal inside us has been tamed and it is now as peaceful and sweet as a lamb.
Moschino 683euros
It is not great anymore to be rock : the skulls start to become fun, as for jeweller Aurélie Bidermann, and we'd rather take the sweet necklaces of our childhood out again, because they're the new studs !
Smileys, peace signs, cheerful messages are blooming everywhere, and even the Queen of protest, Vivienne Westwood, have teddy bears in her Summer 2011 collection ! Suddenly, we are all told to dress like Katy Perry and to live on Sesame Street  ! I know that the world is scary, my dears. But I don't think that spending your evenings and nights watching series could help when you're desperately single. Same, I don't think that losing your time watching YouTube videos of pandas could solve your problems of unemployment, neither a t-shirt could fight your angst of nuclear disaster, even made by the interesting label Mother of Pearls. And don't kid yourself : if the richest prescribers of the world are showing you cats with bags, it is not a way for them to bring you something cute and relieving : it is because they are taking advantage of your need for reassurance. Did you see the price of the items shown in this article ? Except for the t-shirt, everything is so indecently expensive. Stella McCartney has taken her last collection directly from your childhood wardrobe and she tries to sell it for a fortune. Blog The Fashion Police ( ) has found a very appropriate expression for that : Daylight Armed Robbery.
V Magazine
Yes, my children, while you are dreaming that you could live forever in your wonderland of childhood references and dreams, the nasty capitalists out there are still planning to eat you in the wood when you will take honey to your grandmother ... And if no t-shirt could repels the troubles of the adulthood, they are also good things about growing up. Believe Aunt Sammy ...
So, put away your Barbies and start looking for them ...
Mother of Pearls

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Interview : DimePiece, Welcome to Paradime

 There's still a fortnight before the release of my article on young designers, and I thought that another teaser would please you. This interview  was supposed to be included in the article, but unfortunately arrived too late. I thought it was unfair for the two adorable girls who have taken the time to answer, with a lot of humour and freshness, so I've decided to make it as a 'bonus'.
DimePiece is one of those brands, like American Apparel, which are very proud to sell products entirely manufactured locally. At its head, two "chicks on pills" (one of their recurring pattern), Laura Fama, 24 and Ashley Jones, 26, both graduates in Fashion and "dwelling in the colourful and adventurous garment district of  in downtown Los Angeles", who want to fight the reign of the foreign-made clothes and its quality and human damages. "We design and manufacture all our garments and accessories here in Los Angeles. We favour this decision in working domestically with our contractors so we can watch exactly how our garments are assembled day to day. It feels good knowing that our sewers, graders, patternmakers, etc are all getting paid fairly without a middleman. Plus it helps create more jobs domestically and stimulates our economy. Win-win." The label is their baby, and they handle everything from scratch. Their products are incredibly trendy and desirable, a mix of rock aesthetic and Californian bohemian lifestyle.
Each season’s line is expressed by modern pop art-themed prints and t-shirts with the cheekiest and most feminist of phrases, along with hoodies, sweatshirts, leggins and tanks. Now in its tenth season, the young designers add another solid installment to Dimepiece, and go from strength to strength as trendsetting Fergie, Nicki Minaj, The Kardashians, Amber Rose, Juliette Lewis, Pink, M.I.A., Katy Perry and Estelle have emerged as fans.”
Indeed, L.A.'s A-list has quickly integrated their list of clients. Their prices, though, are still affordable, but I strongly regret that their delivery prices for Europe are mostly equals to the price of their garments ... Of course, it is a detail in front of the quality the girls offer and their philosophy. Their soap box ? Women empowerment. "That’s always been what we’ve stood for, and always had a positive response from, and so we’ve never felt forced to translate it through our designs. Women, power, and how the two interconnect was originally the motive that our brand was based on and so it works its way into each season naturally. We use most of our graphic tees as a way of communication to state our opinion on various things. This is a passion of ours and so it’s important to us that we keep creating statement tees with each collection."
The picture of a spitting cat, with this catchy statement on, "One Pussy you can't fuck with" : the message is clear enough ... But you can't reduce the label to provocation and feminism.
 The girls are quoting Alexander McQueen, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac and Vivienne Westwood as fashion models, designers who also tried to convey social messages through art and insolence. They took risks, and the girls praise them for that : "People nowadays are weary what others may think or judge them if they step outside of acceptable guidelines.[They] took risks in their designs in the infancy of their careers… The industry finally embraced it and favoured [them] for their unique style and vision." Three appealing destinies which won't stop making imitators, but Laura and Ashley are now wishing to follow their own path, with the risks induced. Ashley told me : "There is a quote [which] has always stayed with me, “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” [we are owing this gorgeous sentence to actress Judy Garland] Innovation is key, as a brand we take pride in doing what we feel, we try to do only what we like and what we think is ‘us’. In turn it keeps the brand innovative and fresh, it preserves our own ideas that make us independent from older legacies."
The influences of the two ladies can be found in our modern society : model Agyness Deyn, for example, is one of their muse and T-shirt's pattern, and more generally, we can feel a true respect for contemporary artists, especially streets ones.
 But Art, like Love, doesn't pay the bill (another of their slogans) : "Aesthetic is important, but sometimes we just want to say how we feel and put it on a tee." These girls are level-headed and you would not loose them into the game of Art for Art. They describe themselves as businesswomen, but that doesn't mean that they've lost their sense of humour ... "Finding a balance between art and trade would be incredible but we have to work hard towards that perfect symmetry. In general though, fashion should be closer to art, of course. Fashion is in itself art. It’s creative and fun. Trade is money, consumerism, business! commerce! AH GET ME OUT OF HERE!"
This sense of reality also allow DimePiece to stand independant and unique, while other young labels have already lapsed into exorbitant pricing and mainstreaming. The girls are really proud of their freedom : "we lean more towards a democratic point of view but overall we are a liberated brand that is self-governing." But they are still prudents. Crisis have affected the young label, and many of their shops were forced to close. Luck has nothing to do with it : indeed, talent has been stronger than difficulty, and now, they can breathe easier. Not surprising with such a motto : "Always making a way when there was no way" ...
Internet is also a strong weapon for Laura and Ashley, who own a very attractive website. It allows them to go deeper in their thirst of experience. "It’s interesting to watch designers and artists release work into the internet world and see how quick and easy it is to receive an emotional response from someone, good or bad…via Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc. I think it’s encouraging for designers like us to share our new collections and art projects with the masses to view, especially on a worldwide/global scale. Blogs and web-zines have opened a new chapter when trying to reach new consumers and shoppers from around the globe. Click, click, scroll and you can watch someone’s art or project unfold right in front of your eyes, it’s so instant, so much information at your fingertips and a lot (to say the least) to keep you encouraged."
If they are aware that their American aura is what makes them so attractive worldwide, they also confess an attraction for Europe and Japan. "We’ve spent time in both [countries] and think there is a dynamism there that the U.S. doesn’t understand. There’s a unique sense of vigor for art, fashion and creation. Tons of personal style, people who take risks, and innovators that are more open to being unique. I can’t get enough of that." says Ashley. It is maybe the dream of the ladies of DimePiece, but it is definitely ours : more DimePiece stores on the other side of the Atlantic and the Pacific ... That would resolve my delivery's issues ...  Meanwhile, you can shop their sexy dresses, terrific collars, graphic bags and cheeky tees on ...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A girl, a style : Tank Girl

 These days, I'm a bit tired of the girls I see in the magazines and in the streets. They are all replicas of each others, with stripes, colours and vintage clothes. Conversely, some prefers a rock attitude, implying the addiction to some very trendy brands which have little to do with rock but with a clever marketing, such as The Kooples or Zadig&Voltaire. I didn't want to focus on one of those grunge trainee, and suddenly, I've thought about the comic's heroine, Tank Girl. This odd creature was created by Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin at the end of the 80's. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the comic focus on a nonconformist (it's the very least you can say...) tank pilot (hence her name, Tank Girl) whose adventures are mostly absurd, but hilarious. Now, Hewlett takes care of music band Gorillaz, and his punk heroine has quite fallen to oblivion. But her unique style still influence many indie girls, and could seriously kick the ass of all the punk-wanabees out there, starting with Taylor Momsen : Girl, dressing with black underwear is not original and cool as you suppose, so at least, put a mischievous smile on your drunkard head ...
Boots Nicolas Andreas Taralis £705 - Jean Eleven Paris 89euros - Sweater AllSaints £63
As a resident of an Australian desert, Tank Girl is not really keen on covering clothes, but she sometimes slips on tees and sweaters. If she would make some shopping, I'm sure she would fall for British designer Eudon Choi, whose designs seem to fit a post-apocalyptic world a la Luis Royo, another artist who could have a fresh influences on all those neo-punks. I also imagine that Tank Girl would not resist to the clothes of brands Obesity&Speed (they have an hilarious t-shirt with 70s former punk goddess Poly Styrene, and many other destroy garments), DimePiece (I'm in love with their collars, slightly less with their shipping costs) or French brand Eleven Paris, whose ambassadors are Lizzy Jagger, daughter of Mike, and Zoe Krawitz, daughter of Lenny, two potential Tank girls.
Charm Helen Ficalora $35 - Bra Urban Outfitter 24euros - Belt Boy London $8 on Ebay - Short Bitching&Junkfood 72euros - Boots AllSaints £185 - Watch La Mer Collections $198
But, most of the times, Tank Girl is hanging out with crosses taped on her boobs, or if she wants to be a bit classier, in some dark bras. She howled with laughter when she saw Katy Perry's video California Gurls, because, obviously, rockets bras are outweighing chantilly cream bottles ones ... For the bottom, she would certainly fancy a legging by Aguri Sagimori, but her preference would mostly head for a destroyed jean short, such as those of Evil Twin. Also, she is a bit fetishistic when it comes to crosses, and jewels in general. She has got a lot of them, badges, bangles, rosaries, and she would certainly love the cuffes and belts of Givenchy by Riccardo Tischi and the bullets pendants of Akillis. And if she wanted to be a bit sexy for her boyfriend Booga, she could puts fake suspenders panty hoses by Henry Holland.
Ellery Fall 2011
A tank is definitely classier than a motorbike, but if you would like to channel your inner Rebecca Buck (her real name) in a colder country, you would adopt the brand Ellery, which made a very appealing campaign for its Fall collection. A bit too aristocratic for Tank Girl though, but she would steal the  belts for sure. She would also kidnap Britney Spears and forces her to give her the Burberry Prorsum jacket she's wearing in her latest video, Liv Tyler, for her Givenchy dog sweater and obviously Kate Lanphear, for her integral wardrobe. I guess she would also appreciate the editor's do. Singer Cassie and Brit It girl Alice Dellal have also tried the Tank Girl's hairdo, in a more feminine version. Alice, incidentally, would be a recommended cast for the role of Tank Girl in a movie (one which doesn't suck, as the previous attempts did), much more than Ellen Page, as some geeks have suggested.
Alice Dellal
Courtney Love and Kate Moss have their adepts, so why not Tank Girl ? At least, her attitude is much more real and funky than all those IT girls who think that wearing a dark tee at the last MTV Push Party with CK One would make you a rock star. Neither does a Schott jacket, even a great red one. First, it is in the head. In the freedom of your thought. That's why a look at the Tank Girl's comic could not kill you (remastered edition from £6,48 at Alcohol and drugs could, however, so remember that you're not a comic heroine.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Shopping : Zen Garden

Ring Gaia Repossi for Zadig&Voltaire 320euros - Gareth Pugh Fall 2011 - Pendant Kenneth Jay Lane $132 - Blayde £488 (click to enlarge)
To fight the stress of our modern world with all the angsts related to modernity (nuclear power stations, airwaves, planes, traffic jams, Suri Cruise and other children ...) and the frenzy of the fashion Industry which drives many people to burnouts (Galliano, Decarnin, Lohan...), some people have found a solution. We all saw Diane Von Furstenberg doing her yoga in Le Jour d'Avant of Loic Pringent. Likewise, Karl Lagerfeld never seems so zen now he is almost ubiquitous, the Beckhams, Kate Bosworth, Miranda Kerr and Naomi Watts have all turned to Buddhism and many celebrities are lauding the return to nature and to a more spiritual life. Don't kid ourselves, most of them are doing that to give themselves a most mysterious, intellectual side. But the idea is there and it never sounds that good. 
Bangles Chan Luu 175euros - Bangle All Saints £45 - Kimono jacket Zara 79,90euros - Skirt Topshop £35 - Top Topshop £38
Minimalism carries on fascinating designers, even if they prefer luxury and colours this season. But some of them are thinking in another direction : it is the case of New Yorkers Donna Karan who have launched an intermediate collection called "Urban Zen" and Michael Kors who created minimalistic zen shoes. Both Gareth Pugh and Haider Ackermann have been inspired by Asian soft kimonos and we can find many loose-fitting items in shops. So, if you wish to bring some Zen in your life and in your wardrobe, here are some tips ...  
Dress Mango 129euros - Donna Karan Urban Zen collection
One of the most famous exercise of Chinese gymnastics, Qi Gong, is called Baduanjin, which can be translated by the Eight Pieces of Brocarde. Brocade is incidentally a luxurious fabric, so the connection between Zen and fashion is not only a fancy of the mind ... If you think that kimonos are too clichés, or too much related to geishas, choose large and soft garments, preferably of soft colours related to stone and sand, the two key elements of a zen garden. Orange is trendy, but for meditation, leave it to Buddhist monks, because you will have more chance to look like a convict at Pelican Bay ... You can also find many stone washed blouses, t-shirts and dresses, to continue the metaphor. Topshop has got a lot of great nude items that fit both bohos (it's the 70s revival) and our purpose.   
Brook&Lyn $352 - Maison Michel for Opening Ceremony $975
On the side of the accessories, flats have definitely their place in the fashionista's wardrobe and stones are still very present. The star of the season is turquoise, but I've chosen more natural examples. Californian brand Chan Luu, the darling of celebrities, drew its inspiration from Buddhist prayers' bangles, while online retailer Shopbop offers a range of stone jewels and accessories of great originality, such as the body roped necklaces of Brook&Lyn. More zen, you die and the price is also a small death. If you think that stones and ropes are not worth so much money, you would prefer the collection of Monaco jeweller Gaia Repossi, which reminds of Native American dreamcatchers. Nature is international, and the more important is the interior peace those items bring you.   
Just Female 75euros - Paolo Errico 450euros
Now, you are ready. You've got an ethereal silhouette, gracious gesture, a free mind. You can do what you want, draw lines in the sand, cut a bonsai, do tai chi, sunbath at Coachella, ... Talking of music, I could have chosen something from Chinese or Japanese music, but I will take something more rock from my stock. No, not the Rolling Stones, but the idea is here ...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Interview : Yiqing Yin, the Perfect Harmony

No, I didn't disappear since the beginning of April. My apology for the absence of articles. I was concentrating all my energy on my work of freelance editor and I had the opportunity to get many interesting articles. One of them was a report on the young generation of designers. For it, I have interviewed many of those young talents, but one has particularly striken me : fashion designer Yiqing Yin. So, I really wanted to introduce her to you. 
"To me Fashion is not only about a garment but also striving to create an emotion, to tell a story and to relate to others."She states.
Yiqing is a twenty-six years old young woman from China who grew up in Paris, France. Of her two cultures, she had formed a very personal universe, made of natural elegance, grace and harmony, in one side, and of prestige, magnificence and details in the other. This mix is also present in the work of Madeleine Vionnet and Madame Grès, two French classic designers she quotes as her inspiration. Madame Grès is, incidentally, honoured by an exhibition at the Musée Bourdelle, in Paris. We can find this legacy in Yiqing's work.

Yiqing decided to launch her own label after the International Festival of Couture of Hyeres, in France, where she was a finalist. Since then, the success was always here and she won the Great Prize of the city of Paris and has been exhibited in a gallery. She will soon show her first collection in public, in July.
"I have a very sculptural approach to garment and couture, which i try to modernise by reinterpreting various techniques based on pleating draping, cording, smocks ... It s a sensitive and instinctive approach. My main focus and starting point in creation is the encounter with the fabric, its texture and its movement." She says.
Her catchwords are quality, emotions and moderation, and thus, she rejects trends, fast fashion and consumerism. She is proud to make products of quality, of an extreme luxury, even if it means that she would only sell to an elit.

Already spotted by famous magazines (Vogue, for example), the young woman is yet easy to access and she has answered my questions with politeness and concern, which is always very remarkable in the Industry. It is also very rare to see someone that young being that wise, able to think about big issues and to have a very philosophical and sensible view on the present and the future. A pearl in that world of celebrities-obsessed designers. Yiqing never quotes an actress, she dresses real women, like you and I ( if we can afford her creations of course !). Sure, he is not famous herself yet, but her vision of her work should prevents her to get a big-head :
"I love my job so much because of the reality behind it, the notion of intimacy to a person and the absolute necessity that is intrinsic to the very idea of clothing."

"The stylistic directions of my design are very personal, but I never had the feeling that I had to compromise creatively, quite on the contrary people from the industry and the public have always encouraged me to dig deeper into what I instinctively desire. I m not interested in proposing a vision that everyone likes, it wouldn’t be “honest”, and again it’s all about emotions and I much rather have people hate it or love it."

Let's hope that she will get the attention she deserves, without losing this integrity which is so refreshing in that world of attention-seekers. For the moment, her website is a bit empty, but if you want to take a look, click here :

For the rest of Yiqing's interview and those of the other designers, you will have to wait for the publication of the article. I will keep you updated.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Trend : Fieldtrip

 Spring is finally here, if not in your country, at least, it is in the shops. Flowers are invading all the departments, and not only in the garden center. Flower prints everywhere, the worst nightmare of persons who hate them, persons like me. I like flowers, but in their natural environment, nature. And very a propos, what makes me smile the most is the main theme of Spring/Summer 2011. The beach is out, exotic countries too. No, from upscale magazines to the most posh brands, the trendy place to be seems to be ... countryside. No cows, no haystack, but it is nearly here. The Chanel's campaign picnics in an orchard, in those of John Lewis, it's teatime in a gazebo and many others choosed a vegetal background. This Spring, we will all move from cities to the pastures ...
Dress Rodarte Fall 2011 ( - shoes Alexander McQueen Spring 2011 ( ) - cuff Aurélie Biedermann 375 euros - earrings Honorine Jewels 780 euros
Other brands and designers went further in the "Back to the Garden"'s theme. The D&G woman looks like a real countrygirl and even the very elegant Valentino launched a limited collection called "Garden Party". The clothes of that line have got a very romantic print which reminds watercolours. For the accessories, straw is the key material ( real or imitation ) : bags and especially hats, such as Stetson's. The fields are an unlimited source of inspiration, as wheat is honoured by many designers : Alexander McQueen by Sarah Burton of course, but also in jewellery and in the Fall collection of Rodarte, the brand which turns up.
T-shirt Lila Hudson at Pixie Market $137 - eye shadow Shu Uemura £16 - bag Valentino 980 euros - necklace Marion Godart 45 euros - headband Topshop £4
Why this sudden attraction for the countryside ? Is it a reference to the Original Garden, the garden of Eden ? Is it a wish of fertility after crisis times ? Or, modeled after those celebrities, actresses, designers and models such as Natalie Portman, Cameron Diaz, Gisele Bundchen and Stella McCartney, who proclaim their "green attitude" ? At all events, green is the new black. In many catwalks, models were wearing grass-green eye shadow ( Dior, Loewe, Alberta Ferretti ). Flowers are the It accessories, as headbands or necklaces, but also fruits and various plants such as clover.
Red dress Carolina Herrera Spring 2011 ( - dress Simeon Farrar £210 - ring Topshop £12,50
Last year, Miu Miu was the first to use the swallow as a print. Now, the iconic bird of Spring is everywhere, even in my garden ( those 5 cute little fellows in the picture above were photographed by me )and soon, all the animals of the contryside would be well reprensented too. But I will raise objections against cows. I HATE cows, so please, don't put them everywhere.
All those clothes, accessories and pictures are tempting us, and at Vogue ParisEmmanuelle Alt and her team have realized our dreams of liberty and nature with their photoshot with Gisele, in pure white on a country road ... So, like Joni Mitchell, let's go down to Yasgur's Farm, join a rock'n'roll band, camp out on the land and set our soul free ...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spotlight : Jan Welters and the Pop Motion

Stiletto Magazine
 It's been a while since I've last posted about fashion photography. The reason was simple : I didn't find something catchy enough to be noticed here. The pictures I saw of the Spring season were all the same, with odd postures, tousled models and a remarkable lack of originality, even of beauty. I was quite deceived until I saw the cover of French magazine Stiletto. At least something vivid, something simple yet effective with a great work on the trendy colours of the season and an elegant posture. The serie of pictures inside is of the same quality. The model is emphasized, the clothes too, which is clearly the main goal of fashion photography, but also, the result is beautiful. The artist behind this is Dutch photographer Jan Welters.
 Jan Welters is not very famous yet, but he already worked with many great names, including Vogue, Elle, Jil Sander, Eres, Mango and many trendy French brands, such as IKKS and Zadig&Voltaire. His recipe is quite simple : a fusion between delicate contrasting colours and a mastered rotation of the chest and limbs. Nothing agressive, nor fiendish, but the magic works.
 Now based in Paris, the photographer seems to favour colour, something I appreciate, even if I like his black and white pictures too. These remind me of the work of photographer Marc Philbert and director Ruth Hogben.
Cheryl Cole - Marion Cotillard
Already impressive, the portfolio of Jan prides itself on the presence of many international celebrities, from singer Cheryl Cole to actresses Marion Cotillard ( when she was still decent ), Tilda Swinton and many models, such as Natalia Vodianova.
Admittedly, this is not as exciting as the provocations of a David Lachapelle or the power of a Nick Knight, but we need to encourage this type of photography, first to see what these young talents have in their guts, and secondly because fashion needs quality, and not just fair or even dirty illustrations. Yes, I like boldness, punk and wildness. But I also think that cleanliness and simplicity are still the best tools to promote clothes.
all images copyright Jan Welters, all rights reserved.

A quick article, because I'm working for mags. You have to be a bit patient, but I am still on the fashion front for you, faithful readers ! :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fashion : Haider Ackermann, the Man with the Gift

Fall 2011 (©
When the magazines started to talk about Haider Ackermann, I was quite divided. At the same time, I was touched by his Arthur Rimbaud's attitude, the traveller who collected silhouettes and who refused to be captured in a box, but as I am perfectly stubborn, I refused to be mainstream and like what I was told to. So, I carried on observing Haider's work without making up my mind. One day, while I was leafing through an issue of magazine Numero, I saw a picture with various objects put on a box. Among them were small reproductions of one of my favourite painting, Noblemen with his Hand on his Chest, by painter El Greco. The box was Haider's. And there, the penny dropped. 

 All those fluid drapes, those vivid colours, all the soft clothes with their exquisite motion on the catwalk, during his Spring Summer 2011 collection ... I saw the likeness with the long white silhouettes of El Greco, dressed with free tunics of colours. It touches me more than the notes of the magazines, talking of women witnessed during his childhood in Africa. I mean, every designer can tell a story to the Press. Now, I was really appreciating Haider Ackermann as the poet he really was. Yes, he was one of the first to jump on the wagon of bright colours, I even quoted him in my article "Vitamin Your Style". But there is something more delicate in the way he treated it : his blue, for example, used with black, is shrewd. He is the only one, with Gareth Pugh ( in his Fall collection ), to have celebrate my favourite colour that well.
 Now, I understand perfectly the fusional relationship, even couple relationship, he keeps going with the Queen of Elves, the Sorceress of Fashion, Tilda Swinton. She perfectly embodies his style, much more than Janet Jackson who is clearly only swearing by his designs because he is now trendy. I am not saying that you need to be thin and androgynous to wear his clothes, but I feel they are more spiritual than most of the clothes selling nowadays. Perhaps because Ackermann's collections remind us of Asia, this mysterious ancient Japan with samurais and geishas and this magic India with old gurus.
 The Industry and Press also seem to be careful with this rising star, but not for the same reason as I was. They acclaim him; Karl Lagerfeld for example give him his special blessing and you know how the German designer is calling the shots. But when Haider's name is murmured for covering John Galliano at Dior, they say that he is too "young", too "inexperienced". Really ? Did they see his Fall 2011 collection ? If it's not mastering, I don't know what it is. It is even too "Diorian" for a Ackermann's show, as if he was sending the French House of Couture a visual résumé ... The silhouettes of the Ackermann's woman, indeed, assert themselves, perhaps gentrified a little too much. But just a little. There is still wildness here.
Fall 2011 (©
 Only time will allow us to appreciate the numerous facets of this intriguing designer, but what is certain is that he is in control. No faux-pas until now, but a solid personality. Could he take on the responsability of Dior or any other famous line, besides his ? Is he too independant, or able to play with the messages ? These are now the questions concerning Haider Ackermann. The question of his legitimacy is already forgotten : it is now obvious that the Colombian designer, based in Belgium, is part of the Grands, and a name which is intimately bind with the future.
(©Scott Schuman)