Category Archives: Designers

Vivienne Westwood’s manifesto reading

Last night, I went to a reading of Vivienne Westwood’s Active Resistance Against Propaganda, organised by The Last Tuesday Society, at  The Tabernacle in Notting Hill.  The manifesto was read by Viv herself and children’s theatre group, The YoungStars Academy, in front of an audience of fashionistas, activists, artists, students and proud parents.

Vivienne Westwood was as flamboyant as ever in a glorious printed jumpsuit, white statement specs and a headband with BRANDED emblazoned on the front.  She introduced the manifesto to a rapturous applause and the children read their parts aloud.

Two of the older kids played the main characters, Alice and Pinocchio exceptionally well and everyone in the audience squealed when the tiny girl playing the White Rabbit bunny hopped across the stage, wearing tufty white rabbit ears – so sweet!

 vivienne

Vivienne Westwood wrote her manifesto 2 years ago and it has since been performed twice – the second time I peered through the glass of the Design Museum while out and about on the South Bank to see Vivienne reciting it with the help of Peaches Geldof and what looked like Jaime Winstone from a distance. 

Vivienne believes that by immersing ourselves in art and culture, we can find happiness in a soulless age, and that as judges of culture, we should strive to get the art that we deserve.  She had a few stories to tell about modern art ‘bullshitters’ who questioned her sense of appreciation because she didn’t deem their works as relevant or true art.

viv

Another part of her ideology is that art should be universal and if the meaning is obscured or inexplicable for the majority , then it is not really art. I agree that the artist should be able to explain his state of mind and motivation, but art based on complex theories shouldn’t be dumbed down for a quick overview, and sometimes a bit of mystery and open-endedness can be enjoyable.

Vivienne references Aldous Huxley in her manifesto and agreed with his peceived three evils in the world –  nationalistic idolatry, non-stop distraction and organised lying. By taking influence from art and to some degree history, Viv believes that you can make yourself completely immune from propaganda and their detriments.

The reading was really entertaining as well as educational, as Vivienne’s humour, warmth and passion really brought the words to life.  She digressed, dismissed things as quickly as stating them and told amusing stories to stress her points.  Vivienne had the disarmed nature of a family member rather than one of Britain’s biggest fashion icons, although what she was saying was not to be taken lightly.

vivienne 3

There was a bit of time left to answer just three questions and as usual in Q and A sessions, an audience member perplexed both Vivienne and the audience with her overblown terminology and pedantic questioning regarding spiritualism and the ‘earth keepers’ in the Amazon. Saving the rainforest was meant as a post-script to the reading, and I’m still not sure if she was suggesting that Vivienne should go and live with a rainforest tribe or something. The confrontation did make Vivienne more impassioned and urgent though, and she came off-stage to discussed it with her while everyone went downstairs for a complementary Hendricks gin and tonic and some tropical beats from Todd Hart of Dalston Oxfam Shop.

Like the majority of the audience, I left the reading feeling inspired and while there were some aspects that I didn’t necessarily agree with, Vivienne reminded me to pursue knowledge and to try and find what it is that at this point in life will make me truly happy. So, remember what Vivienne says: books are cool, culture is vital and pretentious ‘art’ is bullshit.

To find out more about the AR Against Propaganda Manifesto, visit:  http://www.activeresstance.co.uk

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Anthropologie arrives in London

So, I finally got to see the new Anthropologie store on Regent Street and in just a short visit, I managed to compile a pretty extensive Christmas wish list.

I first came across Anthropologie on a trip to New York about six years ago and I remember being in awe of their Snow Queen-style silk dresses and embellished homeware. 

blankets

This is Anthropologie’s first European store out of America, which will be followed by another store on the King’s Road, housed in a former gentlemen’s club.  All of the Anthropologie stores are unique and the three-floor Regent Street branch is pretty spectacular, with a wall tapestry of over 200 sq. metres of living plants, sustained by the rain-water collected on the roof.

green stairs

Inside, it is a wonderland of bobo, Amélie-style patterned dresses, rustic Americana bed linen and velvet embroidered cushions and good, old-fashioned crockery with a modern twist.

Some of the clothes can be a bit on the twee side, but the collections have clearly been picked because of their excellent quality and fine details, like felt patchwork hearts sewn on the inside. 

clothes

It’s great to finally have access to Anthropologie’s designer labels like Leifsdottir and Moulinette Soeurs, as well as New York-based Mise en Scene by Ruffian and Eva Franco and high-end pieces from Sara Berman.  I am currently lusting after a Mise en Scene by Ruffian black velvet cocktail dress with a white silk collar – think Eva Green wearing YSL and smoking a cigarette in The Dreamers, that’s how fabulous it is!

spot dress

Anthropologie’s buyers have scoured the world to source some of the most beautiful things for your home. I recognised some of the stationary that is stocked in Selfridges, but they also have an enormous collection of jewelled, wooden and ceramic drawer handles, hand-painted china cups and saucers and exquisite bold striped and patchwork quilts.

cushions

I had serious envy on their amazingly-styled in-store bedroom and had the store assistant not being restocking the drawers, I would have been tempted to curl up among the cushions.  While I already have a gorgeous handmade patchwork quilt in my room at home, I can’t help feeling that this bedroom would make me into the organised, serene and breezy person I’ve always wanted to be (must make storage notes).

bedroom

The greatest addition to Anthropologie’s Regent Street store would be a cafe (see Avoca, Belfast’s adorable lifestyle store) where you could have afternoon tea, as judging by Style Bubble and disneyrollergirl’s mouthwatering pics from the press day, they have some real cakemaking talents.  If you’re reading, Anthropologie, grab some of those tea pots and cake stands and get a pop-up shop going, we’ll be in there all day!

Anthropologie, 158 Regent Street, London, W1B 5SW

Foale and Tuffin: Made in England retrospective

After showing minimal Swedish style and the evolution of underwear this year, the Fashion and Textile Museum has gone back to its favourite era to honour the influential but somewhat overlooked, Foale and Tuffin.

Sixties design legends Mary Quant, Ossie Clark and Biba are considered the leaders of the swinging London style movement, but those that were lucky enough to be there will remember that Foale and Tuffin was ‘what cool girls wore’.

checked suit

 

Marion Foale and Sally Tuffin played a major part in London’s ‘Youthquake’ and were the label to be seen in by the Mod girls of Carnaby Street and posh bohemians on the King’s Road.  Replicating couture by Paris-based designers like Dior and Balenciaga was the most likely career route for RCA graduates, but Foale and Tuffin wanted to break out and create their own functional but stylish clothes for Britain’s new independent and free-spirited girls.

lace-and-red

 

Foale and Tuffin’s designs have an apparent femininity and innocence, but there is no key formula to their style.  They have gone from creating pop and sports-inspired shift dresses to moody, Bloomsbury-style smocks with wallpaper prints in dark ochre and bottle green.

Wandering round the exhibition, I felt a bit nostalgic for all my handmade childhood clothes, which were obviously inspired by Foale and Tuffin. There were look-a-likes of my beloved purple wool coat with grey corduroy lapels from when I was four years-old and my dark floral smock dresses.  Even the sixties soundtrack being played reminded me of Sunday afternoons spent having fittings and playing with the mannequin in my grandma’s sewing room.

clothes and rails

For the exhibition, they have recreated the Foale and Tuffin boutique, workroom and design studio. You can see their exquisite sketches and illustrations, their sewing table and patterns and images of models like Twiggy wearing their clothes on the covers of Vogue, ELLE and Harper and Queen.

sketch

 Foale and Tuffin’s influence on fashion is still evident today – the resurgence of velvet and lace, Liberty prints, floral dresses and boyfriend jackets can be pinpointed back to their collections.  Psych girl band Ipso Facto, VV Brown and even, dare I say, Peaches Geldof owe their style to Foale and Tuffin.

I love it that Fashion and Textile Museum hasn’t relied on drawing the big name designers to get fashion lovers through the door but has once again offered an alternative education on fashion history beyond the mainstream.  The range of garments and the fine attention to detail make it the must-see exhibition of the season – I can’t recommend it enough!

Foale and Tuffin: Made in England runs from 23 October until February 2010.  Ticket prices are £6.50 for adults, £3.50 for students and concessions, free entry for under 12s.

Fashion and Textile Museum, 83 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF

Frieze Week: Pavilion of Art & Design London

Last night, I headed down to the VIP Opening of the Pavilion of Art & Design in Mayfair’s Berkeley Square, which will be the home of the hot pink palace until Sunday.

Pavilion is a reinvention of last year’s DesignArtLondon fair, with the new addition of contemporary art pieces.

Among the guests inside were the cream of the internation art community – the world’s wealthiest art dealers and collectors, distinguished art critics and mini Dasha Zhukovas clad in Hervé Leger and Louboutins (black, of course).

Pavilion art fair

This is a place where the buyer is treated like one of the family, sales are negociated over glasses of Ruinart champagne (I wangled a thimble full of fizz perfection) and the press are treated to an earlier lunch and preview, which I unfortunately missed.  

Pavilion features 45 of the world’s most prominent and influential dealers of contemporary art, design and decorative arts.  Galleries from Paris, London, Brussels, Milan, New York, Barcelona and Geneva are showing a covetable selection of fine art, antique jewellery, statement furniture and design pieces.

Skulls

As a self-confessed magpie, I spent a great deal of time pawing over exquisite jewellery created by some of Britain’s greatest contemporary artists presented by Louisa Guinness Gallery.

Jewellery has been a relatively unexplored medium in art and Louisa Guinness sought to change that by working with high-profile sculpters and painters to create ‘jewels of art’.

On display was a giant gold orb necklaces by Anish Kapoor, a ruby necklace spelling out ‘cunt’ by Sam Taylor-Wood, colourful geometric necklace by Meret Oppenheim and Louise Bourgeois’ silver Araña brooch.

jewellery

On the design front, Todd Merrill’s Studio Contemporary (New York) features some subversive, hand crafted pieces such as a feather-light molecular chair and Galerie Downtown François Laffanour mixes the functionality of iconic designers like Le Corbusier with more avant-garde pieces by George Nakashima and Takis.

velvet chair

 A highlight for me was seeing two mixed media pieces by Gottfried Helnwein – The Red Gun and a lucid, blue-tinted portrait  – represented by Friedman Benda.

Toshio Shibata’s Japanese bondage photographs at Michael Hoppen Gallery were intriguing and enigmatic and I marvelled at the two Francis Bacon paintings at Faggionato Fine Art.

Art

A great start to the art world’s version of London Fashion Week, but if you’re actually in the market for an artwork, you better get there quick, as some sales were reportedly made before the fair even opened!

Pavilion of Art & Design London is on from 14 – 18 October in Berkeley Square, Mayfair, W1J 6ES. 

Tickets are £15, FREE for students and children under 15.

Romeo Pires Spring/Summer 10 @ LFW

Romeo Pires’ Spring/Summer 10 show kicked off with cosmos and mojitos, which is always better than queuing in the rain.  This is design duo Nicholas Humphrey and Sergio Pires’ second collection at LFW and they picked up where they left off last season with their signature art-inspired graphic prints.

Romeo Pires

The collection featured diaphanous silk collared shirt dresses and jumpsuits, beginning with monochrome and graduating into colour-bursting prints. featuring checker flags, apples

The monochrome pieces showed a more feminine, dreamy take on a tuxedo and skeleton prints were also featured. 

Romeo Pires

 The second part of the collection saw graphic colour prints emblazoned with checkerboards, apples, Roy Lichtenstein-inspired tableaux, mystical swirls and geometric blocks.

Romeo Pires 

 The majority of the collection was created using silk and includes sheer blouses, tailored shorts and beautifully draped jumpsuits.  A perfectly wearable and cohesive Spring/Summer collection if ever there was!

 

Steve J and Yoni P Presentation @LFW

Everyone at London Fashion Week seemed to be clutching an invitation to Steve J and Yoni P’s ‘Puppet Theatre’ presentation and even the great Diane Pernet popped in to check out the duo’s new collection. 

Their innovative presentation, held in the Korean Cultural Centre, was inspired by the Eastern European marionette culture (I’ve witnessed it in Prague and it’s terrifying).  The atmospheric ‘puppet theatre’ was full of lifeless but cheekily well-endowed puppets sporting strategically place fruits and solitary pieces hung on rails,  illuminated by light and shadows.

Steve J and Yoni P

As for the new collection, there were ‘let’s go boating’ soft tailored jackets, structured dresses with two-tone lapels and detailing, pretty 50s-inspired underwear as outerwear, screen printed tees and khaki shorts for guys. 

Steve J and Yoni P

The show was set up as a ‘still life’ with models staring ahead and draped over chairs, serenaded by harpist Serafina Steer.  Many of the models had branch markings ‘tattooed’ on their arms and faces and some had their fluffy angel hair and hands tainted with red dye.

You really need to see it to understand, so check out a clip of the Puppet Theatre presentation…

Video by brightonART

Their Autumn/Winter 09 collection is also worth a look – it’s full of cosy tartan smocks, Aztec print cardies and purple day dresses.   Stockists: My Sugarland and supersweet.

Fred Butler’s new head candy at LFW

My first hint that London Fashion Week was just a few hundred metres away as I left Charing Cross station was spotting a pretty girl with an even prettier (and NEW collection) Fred Butler kaleidoscopic head piece complete with a shiny present bow. 

Our paths separated at Waterloo Bridge, as I crossed over the river to Blow Presents… at Royal Festival Hall, but I was excied to know that there was more Fred Butler goodness to be found at the exhibition.

Fred Butler

Fred has single handedly revived the stale old craft of origami and fabric yoyos and each season creates vibrant, avant-garde and sculptural accessories that are surprisingly wearable.    The origami hat and cape in irridescent white remind me of a kind of East End snow queen and the colour-bursting kaleidoscopic neck ruff is so spectacular, it feels like something out of a dream.

Fred Butler

The bright origami ‘scarf’ (for want of a better word) snakes itself around the body and also incorporates the snow queen material. It makes me think of my crazy patchwork quilt by designer Kaffe Fassett (which Fred will undoubted know), handmade by my very talented mum.  I’ll post a pic soon, so you can see how important the craft element is in Fred’s work.

Featured here are the larger collection leaders, but there are also a range of exquisite head pieces and no doubt some necklaces for you to add on your Christmas list – I know I will be!

Fred Butler accessories are stocked at Kabiri and the Autumn/Winter 09 collection can be viewed on her website.

Kabiri – 37 Marylebone High St / 18 The Market, The Piazza, Covent Garden / Selfridges concession store