Wednesday, 1 January 2020

New York: Explore the New MoMA with Architect Charles Renfro

Watch the new DAM documentary that takes you on a fascinating and insightful journey through the latest expansion of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York with architect Charles Renfro, a partner at the award-winning studio Diller Scofidio + Renfro.  Director: Franco Di Chiera. Creative Director and Editor: Paul James McDonnell. Executive Producer: Jeanne-Marie Cilento. Music: Benjamin Tissot.  Cover portrait by Steven Choo

Interior view of MoMA's ethereal
Blade Stair. Photograph: Iwan Baan
Courtesy of MoMA
THE highlight of the effulgent new expansion of the Museum of Modern Art is the buoyant, cantilevered Blade Stair that links different levels like a backbone through the building. The architects designed the stair as an urban sculpture, marking the threshold to the augmented galleries and combining a lightweight structure with a sense of monumentality.

This latest iteration of the museum includes new street-level galleries for special projects and contemporary design, that are free of charge, bringing artworks to people in midtown Manhattan and connecting the museum to New York City.

The redevelopment also added an innovative studio, at the heart of the museum, featuring a new fully customized space for media, performance, and film (a first for a major public museum), a creativity laboratory for education and elegantly spartan, vertically-interlocking art galleries. These spaces enable the museum to present more of its collection in a fluid, interconnected way with evocative exhibitions of painting, sculpture, architecture, design, photography and film that evoke the complex relationships between works of art in different mediums.

The new MoMA was developed by architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler. Based in New York, the DS+R studio has more than 100 architects, designers, artists and researchers, led by four partners: Elizabeth Diller, Ricardo Scofidio, Charles Renfro and Benjamin Gilmartin. The studio's main focus is on cultural and civic projects, addressing the changing role of institutions and the future of cities.

The distinctive MoMA sign recalls
the vertical dynamism of New York
skyscrapers on West 53rd Street.
Photograph: Steven Choo 
The original MoMA, founded in 1929 as an educational institution, is today considered the foremost museum of modern art in the world. During the 1920s, three art patrons, Miss Lillie P. Bliss, Mrs. Cornelius J. Sullivan, and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., decided to challenge the conservative ethos of museums and create an institution devoted to modern art, along with the first trustees. Founding director, Alfred H. Barr, Jr., wanted to help people understand and enjoy contemporary visual arts.

“Inspired by Alfred Barr’s original vision to be an experimental museum in New York, the real value of this expansion is not just more space, but space that allows us to rethink the experience of art in the Museum,” said Glenn D. Lowry, the current, long-standing director of the Museum of Modern Art. “We have an opportunity to re-energise and expand upon our founding mission ~ to welcome everyone to experience MoMA as a laboratory for the study and presentation of the art of our time, across all visual arts.”

The latest of iteration of the museum has free, street-level galleries, bringing art to people in midtown Manhattan and connecting MoMA to New York City.

An exhibition gallery showing works from MoMA's
permanent collection including 
Ferdinand Leger & Constantin Brancusi.  
Photograph: Jonathan Muzikar
Courtesy of MoMA
The expansion allows the museum to exhibit more of its collection in an interdisciplinary way while linking the museum to the urban fabric of Manhattan. The extra gallery space added to the western part of the site has enabled more of the collection to be exhibited showing modern and contemporary art across all mediums. The new galleries reimagine the display of the museum's collection and showcase its depth, and breadth. There are also spaces devoted to rotating shows of  photography, architecture and design.

The expansion to the west features the engaging new street-level galleries with a dedicated projects room, a gallery for contemporary design, the studio for media, performance and film, and a new lounge space. The Flagship Museum Store has been lowered one level and made visible to the street through a dramatic glass wall. The new double-height space, allows the reconfigured lobby to be visually connected to the street and directly woven into the fabric of midtown Manhattan. Museum visitors can look down into the store from the different parts of the building and the Blade Stair.

Josée and Henry Kravis Studio, a performance space
that is the first of its kind in a major museum.
Photograph: Steven Choo
“This project has called on us to work across MoMA’s rich architectural history, incorporating the museum’s existing building blocks into a comprehensible whole through careful and deliberate interventions," said Elizabeth Diller, founding partner of Diller Scofidio + Renfro. "It has required the curiosity of an archaeologist and the skill of a surgeon. The improvements make the visitor experience more intuitive and relieve congestion, while a new circulation network knits together the expansion spaces with the lobbies, the theatres, and the Sculpture Garden to create a contiguous, free public realm that bridges street to street and art to city.

“The design integrates the various facets of the Museum’s architectural history, creating a distinct clear-glass façade on 53rd Street that complements the existing Goodwin and Stone, Johnson, and Taniguchi buildings and invites a more open dialogue between interior and exterior spaces.”

"This project has required the curiosity of an archaeologist and the skill of a surgeon" ~ Elizabeth Diller

 A view across the airy Blade Stair's
glass balustrades and down to the new
Flagship Museum Store.
Photograph:Iwan Baan.
Courtesy of MoMA
Both design and colour choices throughout the renovation and expansion project are related to the history of the museum. The main entrance of the original Goodwin and Stone building was located in what was known as the Bauhaus Lobby, the ground-floor space that has undergone many changes over the decades.

Diller Scofidio +Renfro reinstated the connection between the ground floor and the galleries with the dynamic Blade Stair that uses the original materials of terrazzo, glass, and steel while employing the latest engineering technologies. The Grand Antique marble, sourced from the Ariège region in France, also recalls the marble surround of the historic stair in the Museum’s original lobby.

The stair’s sleek, lightweight design was created by a thin vertical spine that hangs from the roof structure to support the stairs and landings, without lateral bracing. Glass balustrades on the broad risers are cantilevered and held in place with pins that show the intersection of the two materials, a detail that recalls the renovated Bauhaus stair embedded into the terrazzo.

Looking down into the stair and out through
the luminous windows that give the new MoMA
a sense of connection to the city.
Photograph: Steven Choo
While the rich and varied collection of the Museum of Modern Art has one of the most comprehensive collections in the world today, it all began from an initial gift of eight prints and one drawing. The museum's collection has expanded to include 200,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs and performance art works, architectural models and drawings, design objects, and films. The museum also owns two million film stills and its archives contain the most extensive research material on modern art with each of the curatorial departments having a study centre available to students, scholars, and researchers. MoMA’s library has more than 320,000 items, including art books, periodicals, and files on more than 90,000 artists.

The museum has a roster of new installations and exhibitions, artist commissions, and programs that keep it in touch with the rest of the art world. The fifth, fourth, and second-floor galleries, including the new David Geffen Wing with over 30,000 square feet of new gallery space, offer a deeper experience of art through all mediums and by artists from diverse backgrounds and countries. A 'chronological spine' unites the three floors and orientates visitors in their exploration of the museum while the design of the new MoMA encourages using different routes through the galleries.

The experience of the museum is continually changed by new installations and exhibitions, artist commissions and programs

A view from top on to the Josée and Henry Kravis Studio
and out to New York City..
Photograph: Iwan Baan,
Courtesy of MoMA
Apart from the expansion of the new MoMA, Diller Scofidio +Renfro have completed two of the largest architecture and planning initiatives in New York City’s recent history: the High Line, a 1.5 mile-long public park, created from a former industrial railway and the transformation of Lincoln Centre for the Performing Arts’ campus. In 2019, the studio completed The Shed in New York, the first multi-arts centre designed for commissioning, producing, and presenting all types of performing and visual arts, and popular culture. Most recently, the studio was chosen to design the Centre for Music, a permanent home for the London Symphony Orchestra and a new collection and research centre for the V&A in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Other large architectural projects include The Broad, a contemporary art museum in Los Angeles; the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive at the University of California, Berkeley; the Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center at Columbia University in New York; the 35-acre Zaryadye Park adjacent to the Kremlin in Moscow; the Museum of Image & Sound on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro and The Juilliard School in Tianjin, China.

A major retrospective of DS+R’s work was held at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the firm was distinguished with the first MacArthur Foundation fellowship awarded in the field of architecture, included in Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential" list and won the Smithsonian Institution's 2005 National Design Award, the Medal of Honor and the President's Award from AIA New York, and Wall Street Journal Magazine's 2017 Architecture Innovator of the Year Award.

The Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53 Street, New York. Hours: 10:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Saturday through Thursday. 10:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. Fridays. Admission $25 for adults, $18 for seniors, $14 for students, free for children 16 and under.

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Sunday, 1 December 2019

Satoshi Kondo Takes Issey Miyake in a New Direction

 A performer spins at the spectacular Spring/Summer 2020 show by Issey Miyake's Satoshi Kondo in Paris. Cover picture and all photographs for DAM by Elli Ioannou.
The debut presentation by Satoshi Kondo, the new artistic director of Issey Miyake's womenswear, was the most engaging and talked about show at Paris Fashion Week in September. The designer took on his new position just a few weeks before the Spring/Summer 2020 season opened in the French capital. We take a closer look at this innovative designer's burgeoning career. Story by Jeanne-Marie Cilento. Photography by Elli Ioannou

Models dance and skateboard wearing, light and fluid
nylon creations on the Issey Miyake
Paris SS20 runway.
ISSEY Miyake's Satoshi Kondo, took over from Yoshiyuki Miyamae, the label's former head designer of  women's collections, in September this year. Kondo's first ready-to-wear show in Paris, during fashion week, immediately injected the Japanese fashion house with a new direction, full of youthful energy and new ideas.

Yoshiyuki Miyamae had been artistic director since 2011, creating a range of innovative textiles including the malleable “Dough Dough” fabric. He will stay on at Issey Miyake, working on other research and development projects.

Kondo's debut show was celebrated for its exuberant atmosphere and mix of dance, theatre, song and acrobatic performance. The designer said he wanted the presentation to demonstrate the adaptability and versatility of his designs. He has said that bringing happiness to those who wear his clothes is the ethos that drives him: “The joy that can be found in the ritual of getting dressed every day, of finding an outfit that can make you happy for the whole day ~ that’s what inspires me.”

For this first collection he wanted to return to fundamentals and bare his design soul, "be naked" as he described it. The designer talks about tracing back the origins of clothing to simply being wrapped with a piece a of cloth and how primitive and instinctive dressing is.

Kondo's Spring/Summer 2020 collection focused on freedom of movement and it was worn by dancers with choreography created by Daniel Ezralow. Presented in a vast warehouse space, under the high glass roof of a cultural centre called Centquatre in Paris' 19th arrondissement, to a live soundscape created by French artist DeLaurentis.

Satoshi Kondo's debut show was celebrated for its exuberant atmosphere and mix of dance, theatre, song and acrobatic performance

Electric skateboards allowed the models to glide around
the vast space of the Centquatre in
Paris' 19th arrondissement
The show was made up of different chapters or scenes, each displaying various parts of the collection. These ranged from "draw - connect" at the start; to "dance - turn" at the end. There were acrobatic ballerinas, skateboarding models, dancers, and gowns that descended from the ceiling directly onto the body of the models.

Girls on electric skateboards wore cagoules with fine nylon wings that looked like sails as they scudded across the runway. Made from parachute material they billowed out as models glided around the space on the smooth concrete floor.

Kondo wanted the presentation to embody the ideas behind the collection. He worked closely with Ezralow, also the show director, to create a new approach to putting on a presentation which was designed to have a sense of growth. "It all started from a simple idea of bringing people from different regions and generations together, forming circles and holding hands, as we all share this joy intrinsic to who we are that is not bound by space and time," said Kondo, describing his original vision for the show.

There were ballerinas, skateboarding models, and gowns that descended from the ceiling directly onto the body of the models.

Satoshi Kondo's love of fashion began with drawing, since he was a child growing up in the historic Japanese city of Kyoto. As his mother was a sewing teacher, he was always surrounded by patterns, textiles and new designs. He went on to study at the Ueda College of Fashion in Osaka and graduated from its Fashion Creator Industry Masters course before winning a prize at the SOEN Awards.

Dancing models added to the show's sense of
Kondo had always been fascinated by the work of Issey Miyake and he started his career under the guidance of the great designer in 2007, becoming a member of the fashion house's design studio. He worked on the Pleats Please and Homme Plissé lines until being appointed director of womenswear.

While Satoshi Kondo oversees the collection as a whole he still speaks to Issey Miyake every day and shows him collections during their creation. The Miyake philosophy is to work with traditional techniques but also to experiment and create innovative fabrics and explore what the designer calls the "dialogue" between cloth and the body. Although Miyake has some input, he also wants Kondo to express his own ideas.

It was Issey Miyake's A-POC system using long tubes of knitted cloth ~ which can be cut without any loss of fabric ~ that inspired Kondo's original interest in the storied fashion house. Part of his latest collection includes pieces using the A-POC system. The designer believes it is the most efficient and sustainable way to create clothes because there is no need for a sewing machine and it has very little waste.

Kondo also works with the Japanese concept of "monotsukuri" or the process of creation. He says he tries to really use a piece of fabric to its full potential. This goes back to the way Issey Miyake always starts his designs with a square piece of cloth, with very little sewing or cutting. This minimal method of designing has been very influential to Satoshi Kondo's formation. But he is also exploring his own aesthetic and philosophy and this burst fully formed on to the Paris fashion stage to great applause this season.

While Kondo oversees the collection as a whole he still speaks to Issey Miyake every day
Dusky pink jersey jumpsuits and dresses
draped beautifully from the dancers' bodies
Kondo opened the show with muted, flesh toned colours before adding primary colours and an increasingly vivid palette. The opening looks were designed to show different skin tones. He then used a dusky pink jersey fabric that stretches and drapes easily on the body.

After the neutral hues, the designer brought out the more colourful designs with abstract patterns in bright hues like electric blue on white.

The motifs were designed by the Issey Miyake team. Some of the designs show embracing couples, suggesting emotional warmth. Kondo says he also wanted to maintain the Issey Miyake ethos of combining tradition and innovation in the collection. Embroidery is used on trouser and skirt suits, spelling out Issey Miyake in small letters. This "sashiko" type of stitch dates all the way back to the Edo period, the Japanese Baroque.

The designer wanted to keep the Issey Miyake ethos of combining tradition and innovation alive in the collection

After the neutral hues, colourful designs with abstract patterns
 in bright hues appeared
on the runway
Other patterns were created using a dyeing technique called "itajime" where fabric is pleated by hand to create neat folds, and then lodged between boards before being dyed.

"We find things that are intrinsic in both tradition and innovation: in the culture of weaving and dyeing practiced in Japan since the old days, and in the latest manufacturing technologies and materials developed by advanced science," explained the designer. "It is in our interest to look at them with a new perspective, and by connecting and integrating them we can begin to create clothes that bring us a sense of joy."

Kondo believes the exuberance of the collection is due to the movement of the clothes. He even gave some creations "bounce" that was shown off when the gowns descended from the glass roof. The spring in the fabric was created using a technique from the Pleats Please line: the fabric was machine-pleated horizontally then hand-pleated in concentric circles.

The dresses descending from the ceiling onto the models uplifted arms went viral on social media

Dancers wearing the pleated gowns that came down
 from the ceiling, bounce around
in a circle to the music
Transparent hoops holding outstretched colourful striped dresses, silently descended from the spaceframof the roof, as models stood below with uplifted arms.

The pleated dresses fitted perfectly over the girls and were topped off by hats. Dancers wearing the same striped gowns filled the warehouse space as other performers, suspended on cables from the ceiling, twirling in circles.

Rising to a colourful crescendo for the finale, all the models came out wearing a bright array of brilliant hues, holding hands and laughing, running and dancing down the runway. Eric Muller and Maurin Zahnd's African Nights played and the girls bobbed up and down to the music with their bouncy, knitted skirts and rubber sandals, dancing in a circle. It was one of the many feelgood moments in the show.The scene was perfectly suited to the Instagram era where the dresses coming down from the ceiling to land on the models went viral on social media. The show was both a popular and critical success, with even jaded fashion critics unable to refrain from feeling the euphoria.

Tap on photographs for a full-screen slideshow of the Paris SS20 show

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Sunday, 27 October 2019

Surrealism Exhibition: Salvador Dali & Rene Magritte

A highlight of the new show is René Magritte's "Black Magic," from 1945. (Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium) Cover picture: Detail of Salvador Dali's, "The First Days of Spring," 1929 (Collection of The Dali Museum, St. Petersburg FL).

A new exhibition about Salvador Dalí and René Magritte has opened at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. Works from forty different museum and private collections around the world have been brought together for the show. The relationship between these two great artists of the Surrealist movement are explored through painting, drawing, sculpture, film and photography, writes Grania Connors

 Salvador Dali, "The Weaning of Furniture-Nutrition," 1934.
(Collection of The Dali Museum, St. Petersburg FL)
A NEW exhibition explores the connection between painters Salvador Dalí and René Magritte. Called 'Dali & Magritte: Two Surrealist Icons in Dialogue,' the show in Brussels features more than a hundred works by the artists, ranging across sixty years and from forty different public and private collections.
After the first world war, both artists questioned early 20th century mores and traditions. They wanted to explore the imagination, experiment with new ways of seeing and deconstruct reality. It was in the spring of 1929, that Salvador Dalí and René Magritte met in Paris, surrounded by other artists who became leaders of the avant-garde. Dalí invited Magritte to come to Cadaqués in the summer, the Spanish painter's home, where he would meet Paul Éluard, Joan Miró and Luis Buñuel.
"Beyond their meeting in 1929, the relationship between Magritte and Dali undoubtedly is one of the most fruitful of the surrealist movement," said Michel Draguet, the director of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium and curator of the show. "After this encounter, Magritte progressively rids himself of the psychoanalytical charge that probably stemmed from his mother’s suicide, to focus on representation. Increasingly, he starts questioning objects in their everydayness, thereby meeting some of Dalí’s aspirations."

"Beyond their meeting in 1929, the relationship between Magritte and Dali undoubtedly is one of the most fruitful of the surrealist movement."

René Magritte, "Forbidden literature," 1936.
(Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels)
The paintings by Dalí and Magritte both challenge the way we look at the world and although they initially had similar aims, the Catalan and the Belgian had different personalities and ways of working.

This exhibition at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, shows the personal, philosophical and aesthetic links between the artists as well as their differences. The cross-pollination of ideas between Dali and Magritte is explored through a wide range of different media from paintings, drawings and sculptures to photographs and films.

The works in the show are lit dramatically against grey and dark-charcoal walls and this enhances the atmospheric paintings that draw the viewer into the surrealist universe. Both artists demonstrate how important the role of surrealism was in the inter-war period, showing the subconscious dealing with the aftermath of conflict. Though their thinking had a common foundation, Dali and Magritte had different ways of painting and their works evoke contrasting emotions. Dali pursued his cohesive vision of metamorphosis with a masterly painterly style and technique. Magritte was highly-skilled but painted forms more as disembodied objects linked by a mysterious juxtaposition that challenges our sense of reality.

"Both artists firmly established their surrealism through research based on the exploration of mimetic representation," said Michel Draguet. "From the mid-twenties, Dalí 'logically' attaches himself to the budding surrealist movement. Between fantasy and the romantic fantastic, his work explore thought open to the revelations of the unconscious."

This exhibition shows the personal, philosophical and aesthetic links between the artists and their  differences through a wide range of works.

Salvador Dali, "Accommodations of Desire,"1929
(The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)
Dali based himself in Paris as Joan Miró had advised him to do. Here the young painter questioned figurative art and the representation of reality in his new works. Michael Draguet says that inside Dali's mental landscapes, the figures and objects unravel and then "recompose" in what would become his signature hallucinatory way.

Salvador Dali was born in Figueras in 1904 and was already painting by the age of six. He went on to study at Madrid’s Fine Arts Academy and began to experiment with his work. By 1927, when he was only 23 years old he had already developed a personal style. Two years later, Joan Miró introduced him to the Surrealist group in Paris which is where he met René Magritte for the first time.

One of the outstanding aspects of Dalí's work is his virtuoso skill in painting his surrealist visions from his lifelong study of the great Renaissance artists. He abhorred the slackness and lack of direction he observed in some of the Modern art being created around him. By the time of his introduction to Magritte in 1929, he had developed a method which he believed gave him access to the unconscious by analysing the way we project images into shapes when we look at them. Salvador Dali moved to the United States in 1940, when he was already rich and famous (unlike Magritte), and he continued to have a long and successful career.

Joan Miró introduced Salvador Dali to the Surrealist group in Paris which is where he met René Magritte for the first time.

René Magritte, "The key to the fields," 1936.
(Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid)
Meanwhile, René Magritte, six years older than Dali, spent much of his life in his native Belgium. He was seventeen years old when he moved to Brussels to study at the Fine-Arts Academy. Magritte went on to experiment with both Futurism and Cubism before becoming interested in the Dada movement. But it is in 1926 that Magritte is drawn to the Surrealist ethos.

When he saw a reproduction of Giorgio De Chirico’s The Song of Love, it apparently had such a strong effect on him that he changed the direction of his work. He gave up doing extensive research and just painted and explored the subjects most interesting to him.

Magritte turned to creating the illusion of reality with an effective painterly style that still gives a surprising sense of normality but with images that are startlingly surreal. Like Dali, he moved away from the 'automatism' instigated by André Breton who was against the depiction of the real in surrealist painting.

Magritte lived and worked in Brussels and this let him freely experiment without being caught up directly in the flurry of different art movements in Paris. He had a quiet and methodical way of working and being away from the French capital was more suited to him. Although it was a long time before he had a solo exhibition in Paris, at the age of fifty, collectors in the United States embraced his work, as they had already done with Dali, and his role in the Surrealist pantheon was assured.

'Dali & Magritte: Two Surrealist Icons in Dialogue,' runs until February 9th 2020, at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels.

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Monday, 21 October 2019

A New MoMA: Museum of Modern Art Reopens in New York

Opening in New York, the luminous new expansion of the Museum of Modern Art. Glenn D. Lowry, the director of MoMA, talks to us about the ideas and philosophy behind the creation of the new galleries and art installations and why connecting the museum back to Midtown Manhattan was so important.

Filmed and directed by Franco Di Chiera. Creative Producer & Editor: Paul James McDonnell. Stills Photographer: Steven Choo.
Executive Producer: Jeanne-Marie Cilento.

Next episode we interview the architect Charles Renfro, partner in the award-winning American firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, who designed the new extension.

Please tap the icon on the video to watch fullscreen. Cover picture of the performance studio, the first to be integrated into a major museum, photographed by Steven Choo for DAM. 

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Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Jarel Zhang: Reboot and Rebirth in the Digital World

Jarel Zhang's SS20 urban uniform for surviving the busy streets of a metropolitan city with zippered pockets big enough to carry a hard drive. Main picture and cover for DAM by Yvonne Aeberhard Stutz/
One of the highlights of Paris Fashion Week was the futuristic streetwear designed for a post-apocalyptic world by Jarel Zhang for Spring/Summer 2020. The collection was inspired by the notion of rebooting your life, like restarting a computer in the digital universe. Story by Jeanne-Marie Cilento. Photographs for DAM by Yvonne Aeberhard Stutz

Although filmy and sheer, Jarel Zhang
 still manages to create a sense
of urban streetwear. Photo:
Yvonne Aeberhard Stutz/
UNDER a long swathe of lights hung like an aeroplane runway, Jarel Zhang presented his new collection in the atmospheric tunnel at the Faust nightclub, on the Rive Gauche Pont Alexander III, between the Grand Palais and Invalides in Paris.

This season, the designer's futuristic urban streetwear was inspired by a computer aesthetic, even the invitations were designed like a printout and the collection was called [CTRL_ALT_HOME]. Random computer-speak phrases were included like: "ignore non-existent files, never_prompt" or "rectify issue immediately to prevent data loss."

Zhang says the Spring/Summer 2020 collection began with the simple idea that rebooting a computer could symbolise a new start in life. When all else fails dealing with a piece of electronic equipment, he thought of the ubiquitous response: "have you tried turning it off and on again?"

The designer decided to take this "restarting" idea as his main theme, a metaphor for how human beings can reboot their lives from scratch after suffering pain and failure, and find a way to overcome seemingly insurmountable problems. "Could it be possible to 'restart' life without any memory to hold us back?" he asked. He saw the collection as a series of stages through digital life such as 'starting', 'functioning', 'virus attack' and finally 'programming' and 'restarting'.

"Using the digital world as a background we're going to contemplate the extreme actions human beings are capable of and attempt to convey the message that people can put an end to the suffering that destroys them and yearn for a new a life," the designer said. "Through this collection we want them to know that they can dare to click the reboot button and start all over again.''

Jarel Zhang says the SS2020 collection began with the idea that rebooting a computer could symbolise a new start in life

Pastel pink and asymmetric camouflage
to survive metropolitan madness.
Photo: Yvonne Aeberhard Stutz/
How does all of this translate to the clothes? Well the unisex designs looked created to do battle in the urban jungle with voluminous jackets and coats, designed with pockets for digital paraphernalia, aerodynamic sneakers and slick, geometric sunglasses. Comfortable yet protective streetwear that would see you through a demanding day in the digital metropolis.

All of Zhang's collections have a sporty look with designs that allow the wearer to move easily and quickly through an urban environment, shedding layers as the weather or air conditioning dictates.

Materials were lighter in texture and colour this season compared to the autumn collection, with a palette of pastels mixed with dashes of bright yellow and blue. The only pattern in the collection was a camouflage design. There were a wide range of billowing, roomy silhouettes with interesting structural details and tailoring techniques.

Jackets and tops were given a futuristic look with asymmetrical panels and combination of lacing, buttoning and zips with oversized pockets as built-in handbags. There were matching trousers and shirts (see image above) in pale pink with drawstring waists and contrasting panels in the camouflage design in light and dark blues, khaki and white.

The designs have a sporty ethos that allow easy movement through a teeming metropolis, shedding layers as the weather or air conditioning dictates

Shirt as jacket with a modern satchel
 for digital accoutrements. Photo:
Yvonne Aeberhard Stutz/
The long, loose shirt (see at left) in electric blue is worn like a jacket with a big collar, fitted around the neck, and long, almost batwing sleeves. Two, small bags are slung over the shoulder and worn like a contemporary satchel in Cerulean blue and black.

Long, black shorts are made of neoprene and have a big pocket at the front, that looks the right size to carry a hard drive. Zhang mixes generous proportions with contrasting accessories that add an edgy urbanism.

The designer originally founded his label in 2015 after completing his fashion studies in the United Kingdom. First he graduated with a degree from Northumbria University before going on to complete a post-graduate Masters degree in textile design at the Chelsea College of Art and Design.

Zhang showed his work during London Fashion Week and was later invited to show at New York Fashion Week before doing a presentation in Paris. Today, his collection is shown on the last day of fashion week, between Chanel and Louis Vuitton. Born near Shanghai, in China's Zhejiang province, his studio is still based there and his collections are produced in the same region.

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