Sunday, 17 February 2019

Can Fashion Be Sustainable?

Amy Powney, Dame Anna Wintor, Caroline Rush CBE and Liz Bonnin. Photograph by Darren Gerrish.
In London, the British Fashion Council celebrated their Positive Fashion collaboration with BBC Earth and Mother of Pearl with a cocktail reception and film preview at Spencer House, writes Antonio Visconti.

Liz Bonnin, science and natural history presenter welcomed guests and introduced Caroline Rush, British Fashion Council CEO and Jackie Lee-Joe, Chief Marketing Officer for BBC Studios followed by the premier of a short film commissioned by BBC Earth from BBC Studios award-winning Natural History Unit on the tangible opportunity for sustainable fashion choices and mindful consumer behaviour.

Amy Powney, Creative Director of Mother of Pearl closed proceedings with a heartfelt speech on the importance of collaboration.



Caroline Rush, CEO, British Fashion Council said “At the British Fashion Council we recognise that now more than ever is a time to highlight the importance of pursuing Positive Fashion in the industry and keep it at the top of everyone’s agenda to drive change."

Jackie Lee-Joe, CMO BBC studios added: “Through BBC Earth we’re able to reach a global audience who care deeply about our planet and want to understand how the choices they make can impact the natural world. Fashion plays a big part in all of our lives and our film celebrates this creativity whilst demonstrating how informed fashion choices can help create a more sustainable future.”

Amy Powney, Creative Director, Mother of Pearl said “I’m thrilled to be working alongside two iconic British institutions to help inspire positive change. Sustainability is so close to my heart and it is so encouraging to see so many people who share this passion.”

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Jean Paul Gaultier's Sea Change: Stage, Screen and Runway

 Jean Paul Gaultier's SS19 couture creations inspired by the sea with "shark fin" shoulders and here a bodice and flowing skirt like coral and seaweed. Cover picture and main photograph by Elli Ioannou for DAM
French couturier Jean Paul Gaultier presented one of his best new collections in Paris, with inspirations from sea creatures to Japanese kimonos. This lively Spring/Summer 2019 haute couture show is also the culmination of his work outside fashion including his successful cabaret at the Folies Bergere and a new documentary about the theatrical show, writes Jeanne-Marie Cilento. Additional reporting and photographs by Elli Ioannou

 Dita Von Teese walks the
runway for Jean Paul Gaultier
in Paris
JEAN Paul Gaultier's ebullient and joyous new spring couture show reflects the success of his Fashion Freak Show cabaret at the Folies Bergere in Paris, now extended until April, and a new documentary coming out called Jean Paul Gaultier Freak And Chic. The new haute couture collection, shown at his headquarters in the Marais, began with glasses of champagne, adding to the frothy and celebratory atmosphere. French actress Catherine Deneuve was seated in the front row and burlesque artist Dita Von Teese was on the runway in a sheer gown cinched at the waist (see at left).

The designer said this collection was inspired by all things related to the deep sea and Japan. Many of the gowns' colour, texture and swirling movement reflect the hue and watery swirl of seaweed, coral and jellyfish. There was also a distinctly Japanese aesthetic mixed with high, pointy shoulders that Gaultier describes as "shark fins".

"There are some Japanese influences that are quite fascinating," the designer said backstage. "There are also lots of pleats ~ the whole collection is pleated ~ I even made pleated thigh boots." The key themes of the collection are transparency, pleats, 3D details and Japanese paniers. Gaultier also took the underwired corset and twisted it into new forms. "Normally the structure of crinolines is well behaved but I turned them around and spread them out," he explains. "We worked with three dimensions, especially with the embroidery. Inspired by Japan, the Japanese obi becomes a piece of clothing with reliefs that are in three dimensions with layers of bubbles. We play with transparency while using really light fabrics."

"There are some Japanese influences that are quite fascinating. It’s also full of pleats ~ the whole collection is pleated and I even made pleated thigh boots"
Deep sea blue gown with diaphanous
pleating from shoulder to ankle

Mr. Gaultier is well known for his signature French sailor look, the Breton top, and he created a new iteration of this for the opening look of the couture show with a diaphanous, striped blouse and a long, filmy gown in deep blue, pleated from the peaked shoulders down to the swirling skirt (see at right). Other motifs included beautiful pinstriped suits and shell-like dresses with the corset structure seen beneath transparent fabrics.

The clever mix of fan pleats, high shoulders and stripes gave depth and three dimensionality to the whole collection. A black-and-white dress had stripes running up from the ankle to curving around one shoulder, that was deceptively simple but showed Gaultier's superb skill as a couturier (see below in the gallery). 

The designer's muse Anna Cleveland, who is also featured in the cabaret show, wore an organza, pleated gown with full sleeves and long, dark lapels (see below). Like the other models, she had vividly coloured, crimped hair that added to the sense of magical, sea creatures covered in sparkling jewels.

Overall the collection ranged from sailor shirts to corsets with hand-made details created in Mr. Gaultier's ateliers. Most of the suit jackets had the pointed "shark fin" shoulders and pleats were fanned across belts and ruffled along the top of tall boots. The sculptural corset dresses were overlaid with floating, opalescent fabrics and the brightly coloured striped pantsuits were mixed with long, draped gowns. The punk geisha girls wore gleaming, bright fabrics with high waists and big bow ties.

Anna Cleveland wears the
signature quirky Gaultier
wedding dress
Coco Rocha wore a pale, sea blue hooped turquoise organza dress that seemed to move like a sea creature in water (see in gallery below). Dita Von Teese, who also made a cameo in Gaultier’s Fashion Freak Show, was one of the highlights of the runway show with her seductive swaying walk. Anna Cleveland closed the show in a jaunty white wedding dress shaped like an upturned Japanese lantern (see at left).

Mr. Gaultier has found that his iconoclastic aesthetic, that shocked audiences as a young designer, is now part of the zeitgeist. His early collections worn by men and women featured models of different shapes, ages and ethnicity.
He broke down stereotypes ~ but it has taken decades for the rest of the fashion world to catch up.

The designer originally trained with Pierre Cardin and later at the Jean Patou fashion house. By the time he started out on his own in 1976, he already had a taste for runway shows that showed a wide range of different models who exuberantly wore his avant-garde designs. By the early 1980s, Mr. Gaultier had become well known for playing with traditional gender roles and his work inspired by streetwear and popular culture plus his use of models who were androgynous and tattooed and often didn't fit the rake thin frame considered the ideal in fashion.

Jean Paul Gaultier's iconoclastic androgynous aesthetic as a young designer is now part of the zeitgeist

Japanese inspired creations were one of
 the designer's key motifs for the
new SS19 collection
The new documentary Jean Paul Gaultier Freak And Chic, tells the story of Gaultier’s cabaret show at the Folies Bergères. Directed by Yann L’Hénoret, the film follows Mr. Gaultier for six months as he creates the Fashion Freak Show cabaret showing his life and career with clips from Madonna, Rossy de Palma and Catherine Deneuve.

The cabaret show is produced by music producer Thierry Suc for the Folies Bergères and has had a full house every night since it opened to the public last October, now to be extended until late April 2019. Mr. Suc, who has worked with some of France’s best known musicians and artists, has said the show will be taken around the world, and depending on the country, will be adapted to appeal to local audiences.

Mr. Gaultier approached Thierry Suc with the idea of the show and the pair worked together to create a cinematic experience combining cabaret with fashion shows and film.

Cesar-winning Tonie Marshall co-directed the show and worked with Marion Motin, a dancer and choreographer who’s previously worked on Madonna concerts. Nile Rodgers, who has worked with Diana Ross, David Bowie, Madonna and Daft Punk, created the soundtrack for the Fashion Freak Show. The designer says the music from disco to funk and from pop to rock and new wave is a playlist that has inspired him throughout his life.

By the early Eighties, he was playing with traditional gender roles and drawing inspiration from streetwear and popular culture

Black and white elegance is
is given an avant-garde edge with
leather and fine pleating 
Mr. Gaultier had always been enthralled by the Folies Bergere and the dramatic, glimmering costumes of sparkling sequins and feathers. The cabaret is Gaultier's own revue about his life seen through music and dance. Where the show is held is suitably historic, an Art Deco theatre that was remodelled in 1926, but founded even earlier in 1869. It is the right background for Mr. Gaultier's show and costumes, that includes the conical bra design that was created for Madonna’s 1990 Blond Ambition tour.

Some of the cabaret's scenes show the designer's early fashion shows that were more like theatrical events, given even more of an edge by his punk aesthetic and use of recycled materials. Mr. Gaultier believes it is a new form of theatre that combines both a revue and a fashion show and includes actors, dancers and circus performers with dozens of specially designed new outfits.

He wants to take the audience on a journey from his childhood and early career to his most flamboyant fashion shows and nights spent at Le Palace and London.Video is part of the show and includes Catherine Deneuve plus Anna Cleveland, one of the show's ensemble cast, who makes striking, styled poses.

Like Mr. Gaultier's haute couture show in Paris, the cabaret at the Folies Bergere is suffused with the couturier's joie de vivre and creative energy that seems to reach out and embrace everyone both on stage and the runway and also those in the audience standing up in the aisles dancing and clapping to the pop anthems.

Tap on the gallery of photographs to see more highlights from the collection
A classic pinstripe suit completely reimagined into a charming folly with a pleated belt, curving poplin jacket lined in bright pink with matching tights
 
Turning Japanese, Jean Paul Gaultier's inspirations from Japan with the obi and strongly patterned, bright fabrics

Pleated, high boots in sea greens and a crinkled, colourful hair were standouts in the collection 

Fine pleats were even used to create 3D belts, here on leather trousers worn with a short white jacket and filmy, striped blouse

"Shark fin" shoulders were a leitmotif of the entire collection adding zest and drama to jackets and dresses


Sea creatures were the inspiration for many of the gowns including these fluid concoctions in Coral Pink and swirling
Seaweed Green

 A tuxedo jacket is given a quirky edge with it's pointy, one shouldered design and its mix with a pleated short skirt and long boots

Coral hues and the colours of the deep sea gave the collection both depth and cohesion

Anna Cleveland wears a white, finely pleated gown with long lapels like a haute couture martial arts outfit

The brilliant simplicity of stripes from the ankle curving up over the shoulder, a tour de force of couture skill

The use of superbly fine pleating on this blouse's shoulders and cuffs creates an elegant yet striking look 

Coco Rocha wears a pale, sea blue hooped turquoise organza dress that seemed to move like a sea creature in water


Who knew sharply pointed shoulders and finely pleated, high boots would make such an engaging combination?  

Jean Paul Gaultier took is signature run down the catwalk before stopping to smile at this guests
 

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Interview: Couturier Guo Pei's Art of Fashion

One of Guo Pei's highly structured creations inspired by Gothic architecture for her Fall 2018 haute collection collection held at Paris'  Cité de l’Architecture. This photograph and cover picture, from the Spring 2018 show, by Elli Ioannou.

Couturier Guo Pei's rise and rise continues with a new documentary film about her life, Yellow is Forbidden, that premiered at New York's Tribeca Film Festival, and a major new exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery. We take a look back at her most recent dramatic couture shows, before the new collection is launched in Paris this week. Jeanne-Marie Cilento talks to the designer about her life and work. Additional reporting and photography by Elli Ioannou. Interview translated from the Mandarin by Ella Palermo Patera

Designer Guo Pei at her Fall 2018
 couture show in Paris
ELFIN and charming, Guo Pei exudes a light, effusive energy and speaks in a soft, lilting voice that belies the grit that has taken her from Beijing's Second Light Industry School in Maoist China to the top of the Paris world of haute couture today. She started her career when fashion was at its very infancy in China but worked her way to the heart of  European couture as the first Chinese designer to be invited to become a guest member of Paris' Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.

The dramatic, yellow caped concoction that Rihanna wore to New York's Met ball three years ago brought her to the attention of the world, beyond the rarefied circle of high fashion. Guo Pei's work stands out each season in Paris as her collections are all imbued with a poetic vision that may be inspired by Gothic architecture or the sheen on a ball of antique golden thread.

There is a superlative intricacy to her designs and a virtuosity that even exceeds the expectations of Parisian haute couture. While big brands are making their couture collections more wearable, Gup Pei's are all about creating mystery and magic with teetering headdresses and heels and dresses with wide panniers. Her collections are about art and ideas not selling clothes.

There is a superlative intricacy to Guo Pei's designs and a virtuosity that even exceeds the expectations of Parisian haute couture

 Like a domed cupola, an evocative
 and complex dress from Fall 2018
"Haute couture is my favourite," Guo Pei says. "It is not made for commercial gain, but more for a kind of inner quest, a satisfaction of our spiritual being. It is not like building a brand and making commercial designs.

"I think the pursuit of humankind gradually evolves from the practical to the spiritual realm. When people talk about haute couture, it’s not about the form but a kind of inner spirit. This passion comes from being able to manifest yourself, to express yourself. "

Guo Pei began as the only designer making high fashion clothes in China when it was against Communist ideology and yet now she has a large atelier in Beijing with teams of artisans who do the extraordinary hand work her gowns demand, some taking years to finish.

Her creations are brought to life directly from her imagination and she can allow her collections to take flights of fancy knowing that the skills of her team can bring them to life. She sees her couture designs in terms of art works rather than utilitarian pieces to wear.

"Haute couture is not made for commercial gain, but more for a kind of inner quest, a satisfaction of our spiritual being"

"I think when creating art, in order to put your love and emotion into your work, you really need to have a devoted attitude," the designer says. "Art is not a means or method of pursuing self-interests, it is more about sharing, about disseminating a kind of influence amongst human beings. So I really hope my work can influence people, can influence this world. The recognition I have today, I think it is more importantly due to my work.

Reflections of a gilded
gown from Spring 2018
"In society now, a lot of designers and artists work on their personal branding and deliberately market themselves, but I think all of this must be founded on your work. To be honest, I myself am not very good at networking, and personally I feel that I’m not very good at facing society in those terms.

"A designer or an artist can maintain their influence for a long time based on their work, not based on their personal branding. I enjoy focusing on my creations and they carry with them genuine emotion, love and something that is very real, and I believe people are attracted to these qualities."

Gothic architecture, the opulence of ancient China, Nature's growing plants, roots and flowers and the beauty of rare materials are just some of the inspirations for Guo Pei's haute couture shows in Paris. The artisanal work and skill that goes into the gowns are unusual even in the world of couture, some of the sequining can take several years to complete in her Beijing atelier. Guo Pei's palette of brilliant, glistening colours often includes Royal blues, electric reds and shimmering silver and gold ~ the colour she believes represents the soul.

 "I think when creating art, in order to put your love and emotion into your work, you really need to have a devoted attitude"

She designs couture that is all made to order and is completed by hand as well. Each piece has an unusual attention to detail and her atelier uses traditional talismans of good luck and longevity in her embroidery, such as the symbol of the dragon, butterfly and phoenix. The designers draws from her own cultural heritage combined with influences from 1920s and 1950s Western haute couture. Contemporary yet luxurious gowns are Pei's signature.

Flowers and growing plants were the inspiration
for the Spring 2018 collection
"I am the first designer in China to start making evening gowns, high fashion and haute couture," she comments. " I think I have been very fortunate, because the Chinese often have a saying that goes, 'the times create heroes'. Sometimes, you might not be able to build your whole life based on talent alone. It has been my fortune to have been born into a very good era."

Although now based in Paris, Pei was born in Beijing and studied fashion there, graduating in 1986. Three years later, she had become a senior designer at one of city's independently owned clothing companies, leaving in 1997 to set up her own fashion brand with her husband, textile magnate Jack Tsao. Pei's fashion style is still influenced by designs from the traditional Chinese imperial court and many luxurious pieces in her collection are made using silk, fur and embroidery.

Before she came to Paris, Guo Pei's work included fashion collections in Beijing and designs for the closing ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics where she designed the dress worn by Song Zuying during her duet with Plácido Domingo. The dress had 200,000 Swarovski crystals hand-sewn into the white gown. Pei has also done costume design for the film The Monkey King which was nominated for a Hong Kong Film Award. Pei’s works have exhibited around the world including at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.
 
 "In today’s society, a lot of designers and artists work on their personal branding and deliberately market themselves, but all of this must be founded on your work"

Made entirely of bamboo, a creation from Spring 2018
made by artisans from Huangshan in Anhui, China,  
"I have been working in the Chinese fashion design industry for almost 30 years, which has only really matured during that time,'' says Guo Pei. "Entering into the fashion industry in China felt like a natural thing to me, because my early experience was also at the birth of Chinese fashion. I’ve seen a lot, from when I first started studying fashion design when nobody really knew what fashion design was, to after I graduated when so-called “brands” first started to emerge in China, which was very vague as a concept. When the masses started to follow fashion and follow trends, a lot of people on the street at that time were wearing the same clothes, because they thought that being fashionable meant being the same as everybody else."
One of Guo Pei's outstanding collections was Legend that went on to be exhibited around the world including at the National Gallery in Melbourne. The designer chose the stony glory of Paris' Conciergerie as the backdrop to the Spring/Summer 2017 show because of its medieval history and connection to mythical kings and queens. If haute couture is about imagination, fantasy and exploring the realms between fashion, art and theatre, this ebullient show in Paris embodied it all. Her opulent collection made a strong contrast to Paris Couture Week's other pragmatic presentations that were more like ready-to-wear.

The brilliant woven gold fabric that Guo Pei used in
her extraordinary Spring 2017 Legend show
The enthralling collection was held in a French Gothic palace imbued with a richness and magic that only two years work and 500 artisans can bring to fruition. The Legend collection was originally inspired by a trip that Guo Pei took when she visited the Swiss town of St. Gallen, well know for its embroidery and specialist fabric workshops. She was there to meet textile manufacturer Jakob Schlaepfer's art director Martin Leuthold.

He took her to visit the town's cathedral where she became so engrossed with the paintings of the frescoed dome and the brilliant gold of the interior, she missed her plane. This turned out to be the inspiration for the Paris collection including using the cathedral's archive of medieval architectural drawings to create the printed silks. Afterwards she worked closely with Leuthold to create gleaming woven gold fabric from metal fibre and silk thread.

"For this collection that was later shown at the NGV in Melbourne, a lot of people thought that the pieces in the collection are no longer clothes that are wearable but they invoke thought and emotion in people," the designer says. "So for this collection I’m not so much a designer as an artist, which makes me very happy, because I believe art is humankind’s language that has no borders.

"For this collection I’m not so much a designer as an artist, which makes me very happy, because I believe art is humankind’s language that has no borders"

A bejewelled and embroidery encrusted
creation from the Paris Spring 2017
Legend show
"Art can really make everyone think and make everyone feel something, and through art everyone can find a sense of belonging for the soul. Art is everlasting and never dies. So, when we are designing clothes, if we can turn the clothes into a representation of the times, of abundant emotions and of love, so that they become a spiritual sustenance, I think that is really the ultimate pursuit."

Guo Pei created a show imbued with a richness and opulence, especially the extraordinarily elaborate embroidery and bead work. She wanted to return to her design roots, making fashion more about art and ideas. She wanted the Legend collection to be a metaphor for the spirit of devotion and power of faith embodied in ancient architecture and hand-crafted design through the forms of medieval warriors, saints and goddesses.

Models wearing gold-encrusted gowns like monarchs and silvery ecclesiastical creations slowly made their way along the runway in Paris. There were tightly-laced, patterned bodices, billowing sleeves and bejewelled crosses. Crowns and crystal orbs above long, windswept hair completed the image of magnificent medieval queens.

"If we can turn designing clothes into a representation of our times, of abundant emotions and of love, so that they become a spiritual sustenance, I think that is really the ultimate pursuit"

"It was more than a year ago, when the director of the NGV contacted me about showing Legend at the Triennial exhibition, a comprehensive art exhibition bringing together the works of almost 100 artists from dozens of different countries around the world," explains Guo Pei. "I was really overjoyed, because I felt like I was no longer a designer but had become an artist. The reason I selected pieces from this collection is because it has a special significance for me. It is a summary of the 30 years of my career, and the 20 years that I have been working on this brand. "

"That collection was more complete; it is like a peak or a summary after I have grown to a certain stage," she comments today. "You can say that it is a complete reflection of my life, my ideological realm and my values over these 30 years. I called it “Legend” because I wanted it to invoke thought in a lot of people. From borrowing inspiration from the churches, to my decision to showcase the entire collection at an ancient Parisian prison, to Marie Antoinette, and even to my choice of featuring Carmen Dell'Orefice, an 87-year-old model, all of this is trying to convey a sense of devotion."

Three dimensional flowers and
crystalline platform shoes
Spring 2018
For her next and fifth Parisian show, Guo Pei's presented the collection at the Cirque d’Hiver Bouglione. Called Elysium, the show featured a poetic tree root on stage, made by paper artist Charles Macaire. This symbolized Guo Pei's belief in Nature as the source of life and the importance of roots both literally and metaphorically. Flowers and growing plants were the inspiration from the silhouette and forms to the embroidery and accessories.

"Haute couture sits at the tip of the pyramid and faces a very limited audience ~it is more about leaving behind certain memories for the world, whereas ready-to-wear will ultimately enter into our lives," says the designer.

"But I don’t really want to make the kind of very industrialised fashion that people see these days. I hope that every single item I create, regardless of whether it is haute couture or ready-to-wear, will accompany you for a long time in your life, instead of being discarded along with the passage of time."

For Guo Pei, time is always pressing as her position in Paris means she must create two haute couture shows a year. She says the greatest satisfaction is when she can make new developments in design and technique. The designer says most of her designs are ultimately meant for people to wear and it is this work that sustains the more elaborate, artistic creations which call for enormous skill and time.

"Haute couture sits at the tip of the pyramid and is for a very limited audience ~ it is more about leaving behind certain memories for the world, whereas ready-to-wear ultimately enters our lives"

Guo Pei's remarkable sculptural
skill that combines whimsy
and technical mastery
Spring 2018
"I would really like to find a new path for ready-to-wear fashion in contrast to couture. The kind that I would like to create is the kind that will awaken your love, so I hope that my ready-to-wear clothing will also convey that same sense of devotion. As to how to make it more universal and acceptable to more people ~ this is actually something I am currently thinking very hard about. I think in the not-so-distant future, soon, people will be able to see my ready-to-wear collection."

The Spring 2018 couture Elysium show had a twilight colour palette with dark blue floral embroideries that evoked the mystery of that hour and its sfumatura colours. The models all wore towering crystalline platform shoes that extended the line, like the stem of a flower. Guo pei wanted to represent the life force as roots and flowers, as the sources of vitality.

While Guo Pei's fabrics are made in Switzerland, the atelier located in the Chaoyang District of Beijing makes the intricate embroideries. From the Gothic theme of Legend to the exploration of nature in the Elysium collection, the search for the divine is a key motif in the Guo Pei's work.  She believes gold embodies both knowledge and wealth.

"Perhaps many people would consider everything I have done so far as having reached a certain level of success, but to me it is only just a beginning," she explains. "What’s important is that the future is built on your foundations. I think my last 30 years have helped me build a very solid foundation, but I am only just standing on the starting line today. So I believe there will still be another 30 years for me going forward, and I hope my work will really become accepted by more and more people. If one day, my work could be remembered like that of Dior or Chanel, I think it would be a life very well lived. "

"Perhaps many people would consider everything I have done so far as having reached a certain level of success, but to me it is only just a beginning"

Severe and yet magical, an
architectural skyline
in black tracery
Fall 2018
For her most recent collection for Fall 2018,  Guo Pei’s show was held amid the ancient sculptures of the Romanesque gallery of the Cité de l’Architecture. This collection was overtly architectural with wide, structured panniered skirts, embroideries like Gothic stone tracery and patterns and designs like the silhouette of a cityscape or a ball gown shaped like a cupola. Guo Pei described her inspiration as wanting to evoke architecture’s “beauty of strength” with designs that demonstrated “a dialogue between the human body and spatial dimension.”

The technical mastery was evinced by creating architectural details into dresses, such as flying buttresses twisted into bodices or platforms with heels like columns, dresses like gilded spires and necklines in black tracery. Many of the designs were in black, giving the collection a modern, Goth look and gave a contemporary edge to her spiritual whims.

"If you ask me about the future of fashion, I believe it will experience more change," she says. "In fact everyone is thinking about it now ~ there is just too much ready-made clothing and no one is really in need of “that dress” anymore. Often when we go looking for new clothes, we can’t feel that sense of being drawn to something. Perhaps too many choices are making people feel more disorientated.

"I hope a fashion will emerge that is more universal than haute couture, but higher and more lasting than ready-to-wear, that no longer pursues temporary popularity. I think 'popularity' can sometimes make people feel very lost: something might have just come out onto the market ~ a new creation, a new design ~ but after less than two or three months it has already become outdated. I hope for a kind of stability that will allow a lot of designs to assimilate into everyone’s daily life and to accompany you for a long time to come ~ that would be my ideal."

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Japanese Luxury Label Issey Miyake's New Directions

Issey Miyake's Creative Director Yoshiyuki Miyamae's innovative Sping/Summer 2019 collection in Paris. Main picture and Cover shot for DAM by Elli Ioannou
 
Ise Takahiko has been appointed the new president of Japanese luxury label Issey Miyake. The fashion brand's latest collection was one of the highlights of the SS19 Paris Fashion Week. The artistic and experimental show by creative director Yoshiyuki Miyamae demonstrated he is taking the fashion house in new directions but keeping the eponymous designer's innovative ethos, writes Grania Connors. Additional reporting from Paris and photographs by Elli Ioannou

New malleable textiles
 at Issey Miyake
SIGNALLING a shift in focus for Issey Miyake, Takahiko Ise’s promotion to president of the company comes at the same time as the appointment of new managing directors Koji Usui and Keisuke Harukiya. Mr Ise replaces Masakatsu Nagatani and was formerly the fashion brand’s head of production.

Based in Tokyo, the Issey Miyake label is well known for experimentation with fabrics and different materials and techniques.  The company is still focused on technology today and the new president is keen to promote even more innovation. The technical virtuosity behind Issey Miyake’s designs and the avant-garde pleating and cutting techniques are the signature of the label.

Mr. Ise began to work with Issey Miyake at the beginning of the 1980s, overseeing planning and production at the company. During that time, he has also worked across different iterations of the Issey Miyake label such as Pleats Please Issey Miyake, Me Issey Miyake, Homme Plissé Issey Miyake and Bao Bao Issey Miyake. Today, Issey Miyake has stores around the world including Paris, London, New York, Milan and Zurich. In Japan, there are three in Tokyo ~ Shibuya, Chuo and Minato ~ plus emporiums in Osaka and Hyogo.

There is a technical virtuosity behind Issey Miyake’s designs and the label is renowned for its avant-garde pleating and cutting techniques

While the label was originally founded by Issey Miyake in 1971,the company’s overall creative direction has been led by designer Yoshiyuki Miyamae and his team since 2012. At Paris fashion week, Japanese style is unusual enough to always stand out from current global clothing trends. The Japanese aesthetic is made singular by its fluidity and draping and the constant experimentation with creating new textiles and ways of colouring materials.

The Dough Dough fabric
that can be shaped
by hand
Yoshiyuki Miyamae’s new collection for Spring/Summer 2019 was inspired by the human hand. The designer says that the "history of mankind is all made by hand". He goes back to an earthy, artisanal view of living life, examining the importance of gathering food, making tools and growing crops and how this relates to our clothes.

"Hands have been weaving sewing, and giving new shape to cloth. Yet what if we could play with the shape more freely as if kneading dough or moulding clay?" asks Mr. Miyamae. This exploration of ideas lead to the development of this season's new malleable fabric for the Issey Miyake collection. "A free and flexible cloth that invites the hands to play," explains the designer. "You can twist, roll, crumple, fold and stretch it. A fabric that you can freely play with and enjoy, changing it into any shape like dough."

Called “Dough Dough”, the new material is woven with a urethane mesh that allows it to be moulded into any shape. The designer wants to celebrate the handmade in our digital world and the clothes to have a greater sense of freedom of movement. It is an engaging concept to have clothes that you can shape yourself and wear in a new way every day. It gives fashion a sense of play where the wearer can use the clothes to create their own individual, unique look.

What if we could play with the shape of fabrics more freely as if kneading dough or moulding clay?

Brilliant splashes of colour added to
 the painterly ethos of the show
On the runway in Paris during the SS19 Issey Miyake show, models unfolded the materials to create hats as they walked along and shaped the Dough Dough fabric of their clothes with their hands. Each dress and hat can be transformed in a myriad of ways. The pieces also showed a great attention to cut as well as to the form, with the dresses and skirts seemingly both pliable and supple but with a ripple of stiff underpinning.

The voluminous shapes of the collection were also enhanced by pieces that looked like a painter's canvas, covered in an impasto of vivid splashes of blue, green, turquoise and pink. These were painted with traditional Japanese brooms and the patterns became prints while others were woven into Jacquards. The collection featured fluid and draped silhouettes combined with capacious coats, commodious tunics and vests and architecturally draped blouses.

Hats were also formed into twisted headpieces or made of straw. The rural-looking straw hats at the start, plus the Dough Dough versions moulded by models on the runway, once more suggested the artisan nature of Yoshiyuki Miyamae’s concept for the new collection. It will be interesting to see what the new team at the top of the fashion label will develop for the next season at Issey Miyake.

Highlights from the new Issey Miyake collection in Paris for Sping/Summer 2019
Covered in a thick impasto of colour, the dresses worn with and-made straw hats in quirky shapes added to the sense of artisanal creativity in the SS19 collection.
Tall, malleable hats were part of the concept of being able to create your own shapes and forms with the clothes. 

The voluminous shapes of the collection were also enhanced by pieces that looked like a painter's canvas, covered in vivid splashes of blue, green, turquoise and pink.

Called “Dough Dough”, the new material is woven with a urethane mesh that allows it to be moulded into any shape.
The designer wants to celebrate the handmade in our digital world and the clothes to have a greater sense of freedom of movement.

Based in Tokyo, the Issey Miyake label is well known for experimentation with fabrics and different materials and techniques.
The technical virtuosity behind Issey Miyake’s designs and the avant-garde pleating and cutting techniques are the signature of the label.
While the label was originally founded by Issey Miyake in 1971,the company’s overall creative direction has been led by designer Yoshiyuki Miyamae and his team since 2012.
At Paris fashion week, Japanese style is unusual enough to always stand out from current global clothing trends.
The Japanese aesthetic is made singular by its fluidity and draping and the constant experimentation with creating new textiles and ways of colouring materials. 
Yoshiyuki Miyamae’s new collection for Spring/Summer 2019 was inspired by the human hand.
The designer says that the "history of mankind is all made by hand".
 "Hands have been weaving sewing, and giving new shape to cloth. Yet what if we could play with the shape more freely as if kneading dough or moulding clay?" asks Mr. Miyamae.
 

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Groundbreaking Exhibition in New York: 18th Century Roman Designer Luigi Valadier

Luigi Valadier, Herm of Bacchus (detail), 1773. Bronze, alabastro a rosa, bianco e nero antico, and africano verde; lacquered and golden patina. Galleria Borghese, Rome. Photograph: Mauro Magliani. Cover picture: Luigi Valadier, Madrid (Second Breteuil) Deser (detail) ca.1778. Pictured at the Frick Collection exhibition.
Now on at the Frick Collection in New York is a groundbreaking exhibition of the work of Roman designer Luigi Valadier, one of the greatest gold and silversmiths in 18th Century Italy. The show exhibits works made for Popes, royalty and aristocrats, from Rome to Russia. Never before has an American museum shown so many of Valadier's creations, with loans coming from public institutions and private collections across Europe and the United States, Antonio Visconti reports

Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator of The Frick Collection,
Xavier F. Salomon, with the Luigi Valadier exhibition
curator and author Alvaz Gonzalez-Palacios 
THIS beautifully mounted show is the first monographic exhibition devoted to Luigi Valadier, one of the most important artists in eighteenth-century Italy working in the decorative arts. The exhibition is curated by Alvar González-Palacios, who has dedicated his life to scholarship on the artist. Called Luigi Valadier: Splendour in Eighteenth-Century Rome, the exhibition highlights Valadier’s oeuvre, presenting more than fifty objects as well as drawings that represent the breadth of his work.

Valadier’s career spans most of the second half of the eighteenth century, the period when Rome was one of the main cities visited by foreigners on the Grand Tour and many were clients of the artist. Archaeological finds were bringing antiquity back to the fore, inspiring a stylistic shift to Neoclassicism. The book about Luigi Valadier accompanying the show, is the first substantial monograph published on him, and with the exhibition, provides a vivid and unprecedented account of the artist's work.

Luigi and his eighty assistants produced a staggering number of objects for the pope and noble families of Rome, among them the Borghese, Colonna, Chigi, Odescalchi, Sforza Cesarini, and Giustiniani

Lugi Valaldier and his family
Valadier’s father, André, moved from Avignon, in the south of France, to Rome in 1720, where he established a silversmith workshop that became one of the best known in the city. While both of Luigi’s parents were French, he was born in Rome and lived in the city all of his life. It is mot known if he ever visited France, and even though his background was French, he remained firmly established within the social circles of Rome. Luigi inherited his father’s business in 1759, and his unsurpassed technical expertise combined with his aesthetic taste led to designs and creations that are outstanding for their complexity and use of early Roman Classical motifs and combination of precious stones, jewels and metals.

Luigi Valadier, Bacchus and Ariadne,1780–85.
Alabastro d’Orta, bronze and gilt bronze,
ancient intaglios and cameos, crystal, ancient
glass paste, sculpted fragments
Musée du Louvre, Paris
Luigi had a lively shop and home, visited for more than twenty years by popes, aristocrats, and foreign sovereigns. A key document recently purchased by the Frick Art Reference Library, has provided help in understanding his production methods. Leafing through the almost four hundred pages of the Registro Generale, compiled in 1810 by his son Giuseppe, we can begin to visualize the large list of tools that Luigi and his eighty assistants and collaborators used to produce the staggering number of objects for the pope and major noble families of Rome, among them the Borghese, Colonna, Chigi, Odescalchi, Sforza Cesarini, and Giustiniani.

The Valadier studio also worked for foreign clients who took the creations back to France, England, Spain, Portugal and Russia as tokens of their visits to the Eternal City. Despite this documentation, very little survives about Valadier the man, his character, his personal taste or interests. Even though he was such an in-demand artist, he was financially burdened as a result of commissions for which he was never paid and running his large workshop, which employed nearly one hundred people all together was very costly. We do know that Valadier was a discerning observer; he had an great eye for detail, focusing on the architecture surrounding him, especially the vestiges of Roman antiquity.

Even though Valadier was much in demand, he was financially burdened by the many commissions left unpaid and running his large workshop which was very costly

Luigi Valadier, The Triumph of Bacchus, 1780.
Agate, alabaster, ancient hardstones, ancient glass
paste, gold, gilt metal and gilt bronze
Musée du Louvre, Paris
© RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY.
Photo: Les frères Chuzeville
He managed to translate these ancient Roman details into vivid designs, bringing miniature ruins to the courts of Europe. Interested in archaeology, Luigi would take artifacts from the past as inspiration, playing with forms and materials to produce innovative and imaginative works.
In 1780, Valadier mounted for Pope Pius VI a series of precious cameos that had belonged to the late Cardinal Carpegna. These had been acquired by the papacy for the Vatican Museums, and Valadier was asked to set them in precious frames. The Triumph of Bacchus (see image at left) and its companion Bacchus and Ariadne (see image above) are now at the Louvre and are both on show in the exhibition.

Valadier set the large rectangular cameo in a frame decorated with other precious objects - cameos and engraved gems - and set them on two gilt-bronze Egyptian-style lions.

Below them he created a what looks like a pool of water, carved in stone, which includes small cameo representations of fish. This is one of the artist’s most whimsical objects and one that uses ancient objects in a particularly imaginative manner.

While Valadier’s early designs were inspired by French Rococo, later he became interested in antiquity and his work became more severe and classical

Luigi Valadier, Vase, ca. 1775–80
Rosso Appennino marble and gilt silver
The Frick Collection
Photo: Michael Bodycomb
Although many of Valadier’s early designs were created under the influence of his father’s work and are close in style to contemporary French examples that are loosely described as rococo, Valadier became interested in antiquity. His work became more severe and classical over time. Among the objects featured in the exhibition that show his embrace of this aesthetic is a vase recently purchased by the Frick (see image at right). Valadier’s only known marble object with gilt-silver decorations, it was possibly made for the Chigi family of Rome in the second half of the 1770s.

More than 230 years after Valadier lived in Rome, it can still be very difficult for both Italians and foreigners to be paid for their work, no matter what field it is. And this is particularly true for artists in Italy, from Ancient Rome through the Renaissance to the present, that were regularly bankrupted by clients that refused to pay for commissions.
Unfortunately for Valadier who was also working with precious metals and stones and had to maintain a large studio, he could not sustain his business when his aristocratic clients would not pay for his creations. In 1785, the designer committed suicide by drowning himself in the Tiber. Valadier’s career spanned just twenty-five years from his father’s death in 1759, until his own. However, in this time he worked with an extraordinary number of architects, sculptors, stone cutters, and furniture designers.

Luigi Valadier, Madrid (Second Breteuil) Deser (detail) ca.1778.
Pictured at the Frick Collection exhibition.
Lapis lazuli, amethyst, porphyry, red garnets, gilt silver.
Royal Palace and the Archaeological Museum in Madrid
Works of art for the dining table
Valadier and his workshop were particularly well known for the creation of substantial centrepieces for dining tables, known in Rome as desers. These ensembles were decorated with miniature temples, obelisks, and triumphal arches. Valadier would scale down monuments from antiquity and reproduce them in precious materials: marbles, stones, and metal.

Three desers by Valadier survive at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, in two institutions in Madrid, and at the Louvre. The first two were for Jacques-Laure Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, the ambassador of the Knights of Malta to the Holy See from 1758, and to the royal court in Paris (after 1778). They were subsequently acquired by Catherine the Great and the prince who would later become Charles IV of Spain.

Known in Rome as desers, table centrepieces were decorated with miniature temples, obelisks and triumphal arches. Valadier scaled down monuments from antiquity, recreating them in precious marbles, stones and metals

Luigi Valadier, Madrid (Second Breteuil) Deser (detail) ca.1778
Pictured at the Frick Collection exhibition.
Lapis lazuli, amethyst, porphyry, red garnets, gilt silver.
Royal Palace & the Archaeological Museum in Madrid 
The third deser was created for Duke Luigi Braschi Onesti, the nephew of Pope Pius VI. Each is composed of a flat base, on which the various architectural objects rest. In the case of the first deser for Breteuil, the various elements survive, but the base is lost. The Braschi deser which was looted by Napoleon survives in an incomplete state.

The most complete of Valadier’s three desers was the second one he made for Breteuil, around 1778 (see at left and above). It is now divided between the Royal Palace and the Archaeological Museum in Madrid but is reunited at this exhibition, providing a unique opportunity to see this masterpiece in its entirety. The small temples that complement it are executed in materials including lapis lazuli, amethyst, porphyry, and red garnets. Eight preparatory drawings for the Breteuil deser will be shown along with these objects.

Designs for Italian aristocratic families
In the field of secular silverwork, most of Valadier’s production is lost. For the aristocratic families of Italy and for foreign patrons, he made large numbers of plates and soup tureens, coffee pots and cutlery and lamps. Valadier created very detailed drawings of objects he designed, such as, an elegant trembleuse of the early 1760s (see image below).

Luigi Valadier. Drawing of a Trembleuse,
signed, 1763. Pen, brown ink, ochre
wash on paper. Private Collection
Photo: Michael Bodycomb
These small metal trays, often in silver or gilt silver, were created to hold two cups: one usually in porcelain for coffee or chocolate, and another in glass for water. The accompanying tray would have held biscuits and sweets. In this specific case, the entire object is designed in a highly decorative style with vegetal motifs. The tray is shaped as a large leaf; the water cup is surrounded by reeds, and the coffee or chocolate cup evokes small beans, which may have been meant to describe both drinks.

The drawing deonstrates the sophistication of domestic objects designed and produced by Valadier for his Roman audience. Inventories and payments of aristocratic families list many objects like these, most of which, unfortunately, do not survive. The exhibition shows some of these rare survivals, including two soup tureens, one of which was made for the Chigi family, and a spoon that was originally part of a large service for the Borghese.

A monumental coffee pot engraved with the Chigi family’s coat of arms is another rare extant example of Valadier’s secular silver. The central body is covered in leaves and geometrical patterns, while the beak of it is supported by a dazzling mask of a woman and develops into the neck and head of a fantastic bird.

For the aristocratic families of Italy and for foreign patrons, Valadier made large numbers of plates and soup tureens, coffee pots and cutlery and lamps, using very detailed drawings

Luigi Valadier, Cruets for Wine & Water
from the Orsini Mass Service, ca. 1768
Gilt silver. Cathedral of San Nicola, Muro Lucano
Photo: Mauro Magliani
Ecclesiastical Commissions
A large number of Valadier's commissions came from ecclesiastical institutions, and one of the galleries at the Frick exhibition is devoted to a selection of these objects mostly in silver and gold. Highlights include two groups of objects from the south of Italy.
One is a splendid gilt silver service, made in 1768 for Cardinal Domenico Orsini d’Aragona for his palace’s private chapel (see two pieces at left) in Rome, and now in the Cathedral of Muro Lucano, in Basilicata.

Between the late 1760s and the early 1770s, Valadier designed the silver high altar for the Cathedral of Monreale in Sicily, which was commissioned by Archbishop Francesco Testa.

The altar, still in situ, is decorated with a number of reliefs showing scenes from the life of the Virgin, to whom the church was dedicated.

The altar is placed directly in front of the celebrated Norman mosaics from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, which decorate the apse of the Cathedral. On top of the altar, Valadier placed six large statues of saints connected to the Cathedral: Louis, Castrense, Peter, Paul, Benedict, and Rosalia. All six sculptures have been lent for the first time, providing an extraordinary opportunity to study them closely, (see image below).  Each statue is executed in silver, highlighted with gold.

A large number of Valadier's commissions came from ecclesiastical institutions, mostly in silver and gold, including a splendid gilt service

Luigi Valadier, Saints in gilt bronze and silver, ca.1760s
Pictured at the Frick Collection exhibition.
From the Cathedral of Santa Maria la Nuova,
Monreale, Sicily, Italy
At the Frick, they are displayed on an altar-like pedestal, in the order in which they are shown in the Cathedral. Many objects like these statues were melted down during times of necessity, some quite soon after Valadier’s death and most particularly during the Napoleonic invasion. Works such as the Orsini service and the Monreale altar survived because they were located in more provincial areas, away from the main cities.

Both represent rare artefacts in the field of precious metalwork in Italy. Many more objects like this were created by Valadier than survive today and are documented because of invoices, records of payments, and inventories. Only occasionally are we able to know what they would have looked like when drawings exist.

Luigi Valadier, Table with Dodecagonal Porphyry Top, 1773
Giallo antico, portasanta, bianco e nero antico, gilt wood,
gilt bronze, and porphyry
Galleria Borghese, Rome
Pictured at the Frick Collection exhibition.
New Monograph on Luigi Valadier
The only comprehensive monograph on Valadier is published in conjunction with the exhibition, an important resource for understanding the artist and his work. Luigi Valadier is writted by Alvar González-Palacios, curator of the exhibition and considered the foremost expert on the artist. The book is produced by The Frick Collection in association with D Giles Limited. González-Palacios’s lively account, including a trove of archival documents he has unearthed, shows his long and dedicated research on Valadier and his family.

The artist and designer's surviving works are to be found in churches, palaces, public museums, and private collections, often still in situ. While some pieces have already been photographed, many of the objects designed by Valadier have been newly photographed for this new publication that includes more than 368 illustrations. The book Luigi Valadier is available at the Frick's Museum Shop or can be ordered through the Frick’s website.

Luigi Valadier: Splendour in Eighteenth Century Rome runs until January 20th 2019 at The Frick Collection, 1 East 70th Street, near Fifth Avenue, New York, USA.
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