Monday, 15 November 2021

Travel: The Deep Mountains and Mysterious Valleys of Tokyo’s Nezu Museum

Mountain Stream in Autumn by Suzuki Kiitsu, Edo Period, 19th century. Cover picture: Kemari, Japanese Football Game under Cherry Blossom, Moyoyama Period, 17th century. Both at the Nezu Museum, Tokyo.
A nimble row of bamboo grows between the street and the grounds of the Nezu Museum in Minami-Aoyama, Tokyo. The softly murmuring greenery gently ushers you along the side of the museum, beneath its overarching eaves, to the entrance, writes Olivia Meehan 

Bamboo lines the entrance to the museum in Tokyo,
designed by renowned architect Kengo Kuma
IN the winter months, when there is snowfall in the capital, masses of snow slide off the roof to line the ground at the bottom of this bamboo, creating the illusion of a white-peaked mountain range on the path. 

There are many such transporting and transient scenes to be found at the Nezu Museum and Garden, located on the private estate of the Nezu family and housing the extraordinary collection of pre-modern East Asian treasures amassed by businessman and philanthropist Nezu Kaichirō (1860-1940). 

The original house, built in 1906, was destroyed in an air raid in 1945. Following successive reconstructions over the decades, the decision was made to undertake a large scale renovation to restore Nezu’s vision. The renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma redesigned the museum building with elements found in traditional Japanese residential architecture and a contemporary finish. It reopened in 2009. 

On the private estate of the Nezu family, the museum houses an extraordinary collection of pre-modern East Asian treasures 

Light floods into the foyer of the museum 
created by Kengo Kuma
The foyer opens to full length windows overlooking the garden, a modern take on the traditional Japanese idea of creating an invisible threshold from the inside to outside world. 

Buddhist sculptural pieces are displayed facing inwards: they cast a friendly eye on visitors whose gaze naturally drifts from the garden inside. 

Though not specifically a house museum, the atmosphere here has the intimate characteristics of a private home. 

I have a deep interest in museums that were once someone’s home, especially those with gardens; however small. From Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge, England to the Alvar Aalto House/Studio in Helsinki, to the Musée Nissim de Camondo, Paris, I seek them out for the intimacy and personality sometimes missing from large, formal museum spaces.  

Though not specifically a house museum, the atmosphere here has the intimate characteristics of a private home

Autumn foliage at Tetsuta, ink and colour on gold-foil
paper, one of a pair of screens. 
Japan, Edo Period,17th century. 
Nezu Museum
There are over 7,400 objects in the Nezu collection, many of which are classified as Important Cultural Property or national treasure. In some galleries, the LED light fittings are programmed and adjusted to resemble sunrise; in others, to imitate the diffused light from a paper lantern. 

These carefully considered aspects of display serve to protect the objects from harsh, possibly damaging light, and generate a gentle, calm atmosphere. Each object is also afforded a luxurious amount of room, making it easier to become absorbed in the ritual of close observation. We might be invited to contemplate a small but robust 16th century, jewel-shaped ceramic incense container. 

Or to behold the pair of 19th century, six-fold screens created by Suzuki Kiitsu: Mountain Streams in Summer and Autumn  ~ so modern and bright the water appears to flow across and off the panels. At each turn, I feel as if I am activating Kuma’s architectural vision of designing a space at one with the landscape, not imposed upon it. This is a building that works in harmony with its surroundings. 

There are over 7,400 objects in the Nezu collection, many classified as national treasures

Buddhist statue engulfed by the greenery
of the Nezu Museum's gardens in Tokyo
Stepping into the garden offers a seamless continuum of this experience. As I think about living with objects and nature, I recall the brilliant short film made by husband and wife design team Charles and Ray Eames in 1955: House: After Five Years of Living.
Composed entirely of 35mm slides, the film details their modernist family home in the Californian neighbourhood of Pacific Palisades. Intersecting with the building itself are objects and artefacts; table settings and images of nature such as pine needles or the silhouette of a eucalyptus tree. Just like Kuma’s approach, emphasis is placed on texture and warmth coupled with steel, and cool stone.

The garden of the Nezu Museum comprises a series of panoramic views and four types of tea-houses framed by the delicate architecture of maple trees and other foliage. The variant greens are pleasantly overwhelming, an irresistible and gentle embrace as you wander the winding pathways of this vast and multifaceted estate occupying 17,000 square metres of metropolitan Tokyo. 

The initial layout reflected the shinzan-yūkoku garden style, translated as “deep mountains and mysterious valleys”, and over the years it has been carefully restored to reflect the tastes of Nezu. 

The garden of the Nezu Museum has panoramic views and tea-houses framed by maple trees and other foliage

Mountain Stream in Summer by Suzuki Kiitsu
Japan, Edio Period, 19th century
Ink and colour on gold-foil paper
Nezu Museum
The variation and life of a mountainside appears in small and delicate ways: pruned hedges, rocks covered in moss. Glimpses of the pond through a veil of evergreen trees might reveal a momentary sparkle of sun glitter or the reflection of clouds. 

In the spirit of the ritual of tea drinking, the museum’s cafe, also designed by Kuma, sits at the end of a stone path lined with a low, snaking hedge of pink azalea. 

I have a long list of favourite museum cafés. This one is in the top tier. A glass tea-house nestled amongst the trees, it serves a deliciously refreshing matcha. 

Drinking fragrant 
new tea from Uji 
I can scoop up the essence 
and understand 
how the ancients came to adore it. 

~ Ōtagaki Rengetsu (1791-1875) 

The Nezu Museum is a cultural retreat offering restorative experiences through art, objects and its captivating garden. 

 The Nezu Museum is located at Chome-5-1 Minamiaoyama, Minato City, Tokyo 107-0062, Japan and is open from 10am~5pm from Tuesday ~ Sunday.

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Thursday, 14 October 2021

New Label Laruicci Mixes the Soigné and the Singular in its Fourth Ready-to-Wear Paris Collection

Backstage at the Laruicci SS22 show in Paris. A model puts on earrings designed by Lauren Ruicci

A dash of zest and eclecticism were brought to Paris with Laruicci's Spring/Summer 2022 collection. Although many designers presented their collections digitally during fashion week, the label had an ebullient physical runway show held at a handsome 19th-century industrial building, writes Jeanne-Marie Cilento. Photography by Elli Ioannou  

Models wearing the new SS22 
collection backstage in Paris
LAUREN Ruicci's jewellery, and the clothing label she recently founded, mix her American chutzpah with the sleek, well-made lines of her training in Italy. When she launched the first collection in 2019 in Paris, she appointed the talented and accomplished Cem Cinar as creative director of the ready-to-wear collections. 

The Turkish designer trained in Paris at ESMOD before an internship at Rick Owens and then a long stint working at Y/project. He has a true multicultural background. While he grew up in the Netherlands, he has also lived in Japan and has made Paris his home. 

Cem Cinar brings a rigorous eye to designing Laruicci  but still maintains a playful edge. The new Spring/Summer 2022 collection was inspired by Noughties dance clubs and the Nineties rave scene. 

Originally, Lauren Ruicci launched her own jewellery brand in 2009 which is handmade in her New York City studio. Meanwhile the ready-to-wear clothing collections have headquarters in Paris. 

For both the clothing and jewellery lines, Ruicci says she likes to add an outré punk aesthetic inspired by places like Tokyo Bars, Berlin nightclubs, and LA house parties. 

The new Spring/Summer 2022 collection was inspired by Noughties dance clubs and the Nineties rave scene

A fluid and glimmering gold gown
was a highlight of the 
runway show
Ruicci grew up in Michigan, in Farmington Hills, near Detroit. But she went on to study in Italy at the Academia Italiana and later at Polimoda in Florence. Then she worked as an assistant at Italian Vogue for editor and stylist Patti Wilson, before she started her own brand. 

The SS22 show was held at the Bastille Design Centre (its open staircase forming part of the runway) located in a triangle formed by the Place de la Bastille, the Place de la République and the Place des Vosges.

The collection had a mix of pieces inspired by glam club culture along with well-tailored more classic looks with an avant-garde edge. Highlights included a padded, gleaming dress with wings at the back, a long gown with a creamy, draped Grecian top and full A-line skirt and a shimmering, fluid gold evening dress with the neckline slashed to the waist.

Standouts for daywear were a caped sage-green dress buttoned at the front and a gray pants suit worn with imposing, square buckles of pearls. The striking  and singular designs of both the jewellery and clothes design give the young clothing label a cohesive direction for the future.

Scroll down or tap pictures for a full-screen slideshow of the Laruicci SS22 highlights

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Tuesday, 5 October 2021

Schiaparelli's Surrealist Summer in Paris

Inspired by a portrait of Elsa Schiaparelli with a cloche hat, Daniel Roseberry's new Spring/Summer 2022 collection is inspired by the Italian founder.
After just two years at the helm of Schiaparelli, Daniel Roseberry has made the storied French fashion house sought-after once again, with celebrities from Beyonce to Bella Hadid keen to wear his avant-garde creations. His gilded Surrealist bijoux including blue enamelled eyes, full golden lips and rippling resin torsos have also captured the popular imagination wearied by big-brand commercial luxury, writes Jeanne-Marie Cilento

Surrealist blue denim with built in 
conical bustier after Gaultier's corsets
for Madonna
THE American designer Daniel Roseberry took the helm of Schiaparelli as creative director in April 2019, leaving New York to head the historic atelier at 21 Place Vendôme in Paris. 

Yet just two years later, his whimsy and belief in Elsa Schiaparelli's original avant-garde ethos, has not only captured the imagination of the fashion beau monde but also red-carpet stalwarts from Lady Gaga and Adele to Beyonce and Bella Hadid. 

Even rapper Cardi B wore a Schiaparelli gilded breastplate, a tweed coat and gold headpiece to stroll the streets of Paris during fashion week. 

This season, the prêt-à-porter collection includes jackets with golden nipples, inflatable coats with air valves and Dali's rib-cage gown reimagined as a knitted, white body-hugging dress. Beyond the beautiful tailoring, are the gilded, rippling breastplates worn like a vest underneath jackets and tops.

Schiaparelli has also just launched a shop in New York's Bergdorf Goodman department store which will allow the label's novel aesthetic to be more widely diffused. Roseberry believes the success of his Schiaparelli collections are due to the desire for more unique, personable designs that are quite different from the commercialized and conservative luxury of big-brand fashion houses. 

Daniel Roseberry's belief in Schiaparelli's avant-garde ethos has captured not only the imagination of the fashion beau monde but also red-carpet stalwarts

Go big or go home, Daniel
Roseberry's gilded bijoux with
eyes, lips and ears
 The designer has kept Elsa Schiaparelli's spirit of experimentalism alive. She began her career in an era bubbling with artistic revolution in the 1920s and 30s. She collaborated with groundbreaking artists including Salvador Dali, Jean Cocteau, Rene Magritte and Alberto Giacometti.

Roseberry's new Schiaparelli collection brings the Surrealist motifs from his haute couture designs to ready-to-wear. The golden ears, enamelled blue eyes, gilded lips and noses embellish jewellery, leather bags as well as jackets and jeans. Even denim shirts have twirled cone-shaped bodices finished with a tassle. 

Called the Surrealist’s Holiday, Roseberry began designing this collection by imagining what Elsa Schiaparelli would wear as a Parisian working in the city and also what her holiday garb would entail. 

"I was thinking of the woman behind this Maison: Elsa Schiaparelli, who gave this house not only its name, but its identity," he explains. "The term 'psycho chic' may not have existed in Elsa's time ~ nor, admittedly, now  ~ and yet it’s how I always explain her and her vision to myself: this was a woman fascinated by the dawning of the technological age, of advances in fabric and engineering, of the avant-garde in film and art. 

"She was a patron of the arts, and an artist herself, but she was also a scientist of a kind, someone who celebrated innovation and progress: creative, social, cultural. And yet who was she at home, or on holiday? Who was she when she stepped off the stage, when she was alone, away from the glittering Parisian demi-monde?"

Elsa Schiaparelli was a patron of the arts, and an artist herself, but she was also like a scientist and she celebrated innovation of all kinds

A beautifully draped
Shocking Pink with swirls 
of fabric breasts
Daniel Roseberry envisioned dressing the urban Schiaparelli in Surrealist jewellery and beautifully-cut fabric bodices mixed with Seventies style French motifs using classic horse-bit closures for the hardware. He even includes a miniskirt and jacket in white denim finished with patent leather while floral prints are transformed into glimmering sequined pantsuits. Heavily embroidered with Schiap Hotel are long, luxuriously-thick bathrobes to loll about in at home.

The Texan's designs for what Elsa would would wear on her days off come with a dash of David Lynch: "These are not just holiday clothes for a physical destination, but for a state of mind as well," the designer says. "They’re pieces for a literal escape, but also an escape from reality, a wardrobe for a Lynchian landscape, where the imagination can roam without boundaries." 

He has also injected a note of fantasy into the new swimwear collection (a first for the label), with striped-knit bathing suits in hand-made cotton, fluid, black silk dresses, belted caftans made of tropical silk viscose and red-and-white stripes that evoke summer beach umbrellas on the Mediterranean coast. 

All the looks have updated accessories, including large matte-gold earrings and necklaces, snakeskin shoulder bags with umbrella stripes and another iteration of the 'Secret" bag with its signature padlock. 

"So who is City Elsa and Seaside Elsa?" asks Roseberry. "She’s refined but barbaric. Chic but a little vulgar. Conservative but uninhibited. Tailored but also relaxed. Private but also performative. These dualities were what made Elsa who she was. She’s irreducible, and because of that, inimitable." 

And one could say that of Daniel Roseberry himself as he remakes Schiaparelli, keeping Elsa's exuberant innovation while adapting her ideals to our own time.

Tap play to watch Daniel Roseberry shooting the new Schiaparelli collection in Paris

Scroll down to see highlights from the show or tap for a full-screen slideshow

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Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Photo Essay: Street Style at Paris Fashion Week

Italian fashion star Chiara Ferragni greets fans at the Dior SS22 pret-a-porter show in Paris, Cover picture and image above by Elli Ioannou for DAM Magazine

STREET style at Paris Fashion Week offers a panoply of people dressed in the elegant and the outrageous. After the limited seasons due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a great sense of celebration and excitement during this last pitstop on the fashion month calendar. Dior was one of the most anticipated Spring/Summer 2022 shows, if not for the Sixties and Seventies inspired mini dresses, for the guests.

Hundreds of photographers, journalists and fashionistas ran squealing like teenagers at a rock concert, across the the vast gravel forecourt of the Dior marquee in the Jardin des Tuileries, to catch a glimpse of their favourite fashion stars.

Our special Paris correspondent and fashion features editor, Elli Ioannou, captured the sartorial delights worn by Italian entrepreneur Chiara Ferragni, British actor Rosamund Pike and American actors Rachel Zegler and Rachel Brosnahan, star of the The Marvellous Mrs Maisel, amid the street style oficiandos. ~ Jeanne-Marie Cilento

Scroll down to see the highlights or tap pictures for slideshow

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