>> In London there hasn’t been enough of those days when the sun is really bright but the air is bitterly cold and every surface you touch to the ground that you walk on feel “crispy”.  My favourite kind of days.  This seasonal rarity somehow coincided with my going to Hampstead Heath to play around with Simone Rocha’s stupendously good collaboration with J Brand, photographed by the talented young photographer Natasha Mann.  Bear with me if I’m repeating myself but because of its proximity to my school, Hampstead Heath was my go to teen spot for pensive thinking.  It’s where every “Woe is me!” thought was exaggerated and where every book (from Bronte to Mills & Boons borrowed from the library) came to life, because I was somewhere “wild” and “rural”.  It seemed like the perfect setting to take Simone Rocha’s ruffled denim pieces that collectively mark another collaborative hit for J Brand.

It was all too easy to pair the familiar wildness of the Heath with the collection and Mann’s photographic eye that shoots with youthful longing in mind.  Teenage rebellion and ruminative thoughts have underpinned so much about what Rocha’s work is about.  It’s why her collections convey so much more depth than just the pretty fabrication that you see.  Approaching the collaboration as someone who isn’t a “denim” person is precisely why Rocha’s signature palette black/red/sherbet treatment of J Brand staples is so evocative.  The ruffles transferred from her mainline to denim creates a continuity that works.  It means they’re pieces that are for non-denim people too.  No wonder that on the day of launch of the collection, back in November at Dover Street Market, pieces were literally flying off the rails (for real – I’ve never seen anything approximating chaos inside the zen of DSM).  The pieces are now available in-store at Selfridges and on J Brand’s webstore to fulfil the ruffled demand that Rocha has undoubtedly unleashed.

IslBG

IslBG

IslBG

IslBG

IslBG

IslBG

IslBG

IslBG

IslBG

IslBG

IslBG

IslBGAll photography by Natasha Mann

First day of Paris Fashion Week down and it can no longer be called the “sleepy” day.  Jacquemus’ shiny happy people on the beach antics, Anthony Vaccarello saying “Hey it’s A to the V” with to-the-point typographic dresses and a view of fetishised women straddling spinning office chairs up on Tour Montparnasse for Hood by Air’s part deux show.  And that’s just day one.  Making a Parisian debut though was Japanese label Anrealage designed by Kunihiko Morinaga.  Anrealage is no newbie in Japan and having seen three of his brilliant shows in Tokyo, each dealing with different propositions of aesthetic-based tech – be it UV glow in the dark materials, injection moulded plastics to form silhouettes or mechanical hem lines – it was difficult to know what to expect for his first show in Paris.

Entitled ‘Shadow”, the press notes were unsurprisingly cryptic.  “Where there is the light, the shadow appears, where there is the shadow, the light exists.  It lights the clothes white.  It shadows the clothes black.  Shadow the light.  Light the shadow.  Even if the light disappears, let the shadow remain.  Even if the shadow disappears, let the light remain.”  Not to generalise or anything but you’d be hard pressed to find a more typically Japanese set of press notes.

0E5A9921

20140923_175410

20140923_175425

20140923_175440

20140923_175422

20140923_175452

This shadow/light poem though did explain the first half of the show well enough.  Garments from the side view and from most angles were cast in harsh chiaroscuro light – a midday shadow contrast between black and white rendered in different fabrics and silhouettes.  A lace trench coat, a crochet dress, a cotton biker jacket, a studded coat and laser-cut ensemble all had light and shadow spelt out in literal black and white fashion and accessorised with the amazing sculpted and corseted headpieces by Katsuya Kamo (a long time collaborator of Anrealage).   This part was to be the commercially minded but no less interesting entree to the main plat.

0E5A9794

0E5A9814

0E5A9801

0E5A9798

0E5A9810

0E5A9822

0E5A9832

0E5A9829

0E5A9836

0E5A9837

0E5A9838

0E5A9839

Two models emerged in a plain white dress and a trench coat.  They stood in the centre of the catwalk surrounded by light lamps.  They had placed their arms over the dress and the coat, in a reverse fashion to how you’d stand when you get scanned by security in an airport.  The light started to beam strong.  For a few moments you were wondering what was happening to these white garments.  Was there going to be some sort of projection or light show on the dress?  No that’s just silly theatrics that is used purely for showing off (*ahem* Phillip Plein…).  Morinaga is going for something far more radical and permanent.  When the lights dimmed, the models emerged and where their hands had been, you could see a shadowy outline around it.  The light had basically turned whatever area of the dress that wasn’t covered by their hands and limbs into a hazy grey area.  The science?  Well, I’m not sure if I’m saying it all right as there was no detailed explanation in the press notes (guess Morinaga is keeping the secret locked away…) but it’s basically light sensitive ink that had been applied on to the dress strategically and as soon as it comes into contact with light (and possibly heat too), the fabric’s colour state changes.

0E5A9844

0E5A9847

0E5A9851

0E5A9859

0E5A9867

And so and so forth the show went.  Models then came out with black cut-out pieces to illustrate how a stencil can be used to create the light-derived colour change.  It was a demonstration of “Here’s one I made earlier” as I suspect you have to actually stand in the light for a long period of time to get a very intense dark colour.   In the catwalk setting, sometimes it was hard to discern what had actually happened because the colours were so faint, especially with the dresses at the end where beams of laser traversed up and down the body drawing out what looked like a dot matrix pattern in blue on a white dress.

0E5A9872

0E5A9875

0E5A9877

0E5A9886

0E5A9892

0E5A9898

0E5A9895

Still we applauded because the process was so fascinating to see and because of the effort that the Anrealage team had put in to make their mark in Paris.  We were seeing not a theatrical stunt but an experiement straight from Anrealage’s investigative laboratory where Morinaga is striving hard to push things foward.  You could make comparisons to Alexander McQueen’s S/S 99 collection where Shalom Harlow was sprayed with paint by two robotic arms, which in turn was inspired by a performance piece by the artist Rebecca Horn.  In that instance though, the transformation process was savage and intended to shock.  Here, Anrealage was quietly demonstrating a technique that whilst not new in a scientific sense, nonetheless opened our eyes to possibilities in clothing that changes its state as it reacts to the environment. It’s a mighty great leap from Global Hypercolour, that’s for sure.

0E5A9906

0E5A9912

092314-FWN-ANR1-superJumboImages from Firstview via New York Times

>> I’m not one for cheer leading digital hoo-ha that has been created purely for the sake of saying “Oh look, we so modern!  We are DIGITAL” (whatever being “digital” means…).  So present me with a the concept of a digital magazine cover and there might be some eye-rolling.  But as it turns out, AnOther’s “digital cover” is the one that is the most arresting out of the lot.  For their A/W 14 issue, they can’t get enough of Kate Moss and to celebrate her return to the cover of AnOther after ten years, they’ve created four very different print covers and one, what I think is a pretty ace digital cover.  On print, Moss’ iconoclastic persona is interpreted as a Warholian muse by Willy Vanderperre, as a film star by Collier Schorr, a sensual girl lolling about the countryside by Alasdair McLellan and as a provocateur by Craig McDean.

For AnOther’s digital cover, in collaboration with Burberry, Moss is rendered in grainy black and white and moves like “liquid lightening” as described by Jefferson Hack.  Renowned fashion film maker Ruth Hogben captures Moss beautifully, wearing a Burberry black patent trench coat, with dappled light and rain adding unexpected texture to these moving GIFs.  “Kate has such a brilliant, uplifting energy and her movements in the various shiny silhouettes dance across the screen to hypnotic effect,” explains Katie Shillingford, AnOther’s fashion director who styled the cover.  “You see something that is very real but at the same time you’re transported to a magical world… and that’s what fashion is about, isn’t it!”   Both Hogben and Shillingford intuitively know how to ensure that film is completely distinct from still photography, as opposed to eking one out of the other.  Sure, the cover lives in a digital sphere but it brings Moss alive with mesmerising effect and more impressively, showcases a different facet about present day Moss outside of her current portfolio of campaigns and editorials.

On a less ethereal note, the cover is of course another publishing milestone for Hack and Dazed Group in general.  “We are digital first publishers… our audience love print and collecting the physical editions of the magazines but they voraciously consume culture through digital media,” says Hack.  “We are fulfilling the demand for premium storytelling online and it’s working very well.”

The proof is in the pudding.  Or in this case, the resulting imagery.  You might not be able to physically hold the cover in your hand.  But the image stays with you inside your head.  And that’s what counts.

AnOther_katemoss_Burberry_Master12

Whilst I’ve largely been in Tokyo and Hong Kong purely as a tourist with my rambunctious and demanding family (there’s been more than a few cultural faux pas in Japan and cringe attacks), my sisters and I did manage to escape to go and see the excellent Image Makers exhibition at 21_21 Design Sight Museum.  Jean Paul Goude is the major billing here as a whole exhibition floor is dedicated to both retrospective and new work, with the rare chance to see the infamous Grace Jones Constructivist Maternity Dress installation, created in 1979 in collaboration with the illustrator Antonio Lopez.  Its presence dominates your peripheral vision as it moves mechanically from one end of the room to the other.  It’s eerie, childlike and powerful all at the same time.

IMG_8872-2

The total sum of Goude’s creative output is hard to sum up in one room but curator Hélène Kelmachter does it admirably and with one stellar example illustrates how multi-displinarian image making creatives don’t have to be defined by one field or skill.  The likes of Goude is a photographer, illustrator, film maker, set designer, art director and graphic designer all at once.  It’s why he has done everything from creating impactful stills of muses like Grace Jones and Farida to designing the Bicentennial Parade in Paris in 1989.  And his latest work, which a highlight of this exhibition, sees three figures, inspired by the wise monkeys (“see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”) of the Nikko Toshogu Shrine moving in circular motion, accompanied by interpretative waltz by Jun Miyake.  It’s a spell binding installation, intriguing and inspirational for people interested in any spectrum of design.

IMG_8861

IMG_8890-2

IMG_8884-2

IMG_8881-2

IMG_8886-2

IMG_8854

IMG_8849

IMG_8848

IMG_8847

 

Dotted around the exhibition are examples of other multi-talented image makers.  David Lynch is represented not by his film work but by a series of lithographs, created  with the studio Idem in Paris, which gives Lynch and opportunity to explore a hands-on and tactile technique.

IMG_8816

IMG_8815

 

Theatre and visual artist Robert Wilson‘s video portraits appear out of nowhere, moving with subtle motion.  Subjects like the actor Steve Buscemi, the writer Gao Xingjian and a porcupine named Boris root you to the spot because of their HD (literally) definition and surreal set-ups.

IMG_8894-2

IMG_8895-2

IMG_8896-2

IMG_8899-2

I discovered the work of Photographer Hal as the exhibition included his series entitled “Flesh Love” and “Zatsuran” – photographs of couples shrink wrapped with all kinds of themed paraphernalia.  There was something quite grotesque and hilarious about them that dazzled the eye.

 

IMG_8840

IMG_8842

IMG_8843

IMG_8844

IMG_8845

It was great to see shoe visionist Noritaka Tatehana have nearly a floor to himself as his infamous heel-less shoes are displayed alongside several sculptural works that take his obsession with manipulating the way a woman’s walk to new levels.  The crystal boots which would encase the legs as if in frozen ice were particularly arresting as was the series of stacked platform geta heels, a reminder of Tatehana’s upbringing in Tokyo’s old theatre district Kabukicho.

IMG_8819

IMG_8823

IMG_8827

IMG_8825

IMG_8829

IMG_8830

IMG_8832

IMG_8836

IMG_8838

With three creatively minded siblings all working in set design, illustration and art direction, we all got to take away something different from Image Makers. The exhibition is on until October 5th if you’re a Tokyite or in town for a trip.