Tuesday, 11 February 2020

The Sardinian Dream of Georges Hobeika

An opalescent jumpsuit covered in tropical flowers and worn with a wide, fringed hat was one of the highlights of the new Maison Georges Hobeika haute couture collection shown in Paris. Cover picture and all photographs by Elli Ioannou
The shimmering gowns and sequined pantsuits at Maison Georges Hobeika's Spring/Summer 2020 couture show in Paris were inspired by the lush flowers, glimmering seas and sandy beaches of Italy's most glamorous summer destination, the island of Sardinia, writes Grania Connors. Photography by Elli Ioannou

 Sequins and glistening fabrics created
a glamourous SS20 collection
SARDINIA was the inspiration for Georges Hobeika's latest haute couture collection shown in Paris. The designer said the Italian island represents the beauty of nature and a sense of freedom and fun.

One of Italy's favourite summer holiday destinations, Sardinia's coast has a turquoise Mediterranean sea and golden sand. Georges Hobeika used these hues as the basis for the palette of the collection. Although the sweeping gowns and feathered hats are more suited to a ball or a contemporary take on an Edwardian garden party rather than the beach.

The couturier described the collection as an "ode to joy and liberty," designed with ruffled fabrics, embroidered flower petals and a voluptuous sense of scale. The multi-coloured stripes and fringes on the broad hats are designed to evoke the umbrellas that line the beaches in summer in Italy. Hobeika mixed sequins and laser-cut patterns to add to the sense of summery evenings spent sipping an aperitivo in an Italian piazza.

The couture show was presented at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris on top of the hill in the Trocadéro district of the city. Highlights of the collection included a black dress embellished with a twilight-coloured range of flowers, like the sky under a setting sun. There were form-fitting crocheted dresses in oranges and yellows and long, sequinned gowns with pleated skirts depicting tropical flowers in pinks and blues.

Lustrous beading and laser-cutting made the gowns
both romantic yet contemporary
The elaborate beading, fringing, and feathers, all in a brilliant range of colours, only added to the evening glamour.

In contrast to the rich fabrics and decorative detail of the clothes, the hair and make-up were more minimal with a single dark, upswept line of black eyeliner and smooth, high ponytails. The standout accessories were the wide hats with fringes and long, dangling earrings in the shape of sparkling bows.

Georges Hobeika started life a long way from the urban confines of Paris and was born in Baskinta, a village in the mountains of Lebanon, one of eight children. It was his mother Marie who worked as a seamstress, along with looking after her large family, who encouraged Georges to work with her at her boutique atelier.

The future couturier fell in love with fashion but saw it initially as a hobby rather than a career. He went on to study civil engineering at university and architectural design. But the Lebanese Civil War forced him to leave the country and find a better future for his family. The young designer first travelled to Paris, working as an intern for Parisian fashion houses, including Chanel.

The broad, fringed hats were inspired by the striped
umbrellas on Italian beaches in summer
He eventually returned to Lebanon and opened his first atelier in Beirut in 1995. His mother decided to close her own boutique and work with her son to create a new fashion label. Six years later, Hobeika had his first show in Paris and has shown his couture collections in every Paris Couture Fashion Week since.

The designer also opened a showroom in Paris on the Rue Royale in Paris maintaining the atelier headquarters in Beirut. Hobeika has established several different lines of his fashion label, from ready-to-wear to bridal and evening gowns. Maison Georges Hobeika is officially recognized by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture and the couturier owns and manages the fashion house. Today, he has an international clientele from high-profile American and European actors to members of royal families in the Middle East.
Highlights from the Maison Georges Hobeika SS20 Haute Couture Show in Paris
The blooming hibiscus flowers and lush leaves embellishing this formal evening gown gave it a contrasting buoyant, tropical look.

The long cape falling from the shoulders shimmered with brilliant colours under the lights of the catwalk at Paris' Palais de Chaillot.
Turquoise blue captured the shimmering seas surrounding Sardinian coasts. 

Giant flowers and laser-cutting added a sophisticated yet fun take on evening beachwear, perfect for sipping an Aperol Spritz in an Italian piazza on a summer evening.

The shimmering tropical designs were also used on a men's suit with silver, beaded lapels.
Smooth ponytails and minimal make-up made an effective contrast to the exuberant gowns. 

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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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