Kenzo Film Finds Color & Life in Nigerian Youth

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Kenzo has featured numerous big names in their short films. From Natasha Lyonne to Tracee Ellis Ross, the brand knows how to tell a fashionable story with some of our favorite stars. Their latest short film takes a different approach, focusing on the vibrant youth of Nigeria.

The visual is an offshoot of Kenzo’s folio project, the brand’s new publication focusing on their collections, and is titled Gidi Gidi Bụ Ugwu Eze, which translates to “unity is strength.” A celebration of Nigeria’s youth in the Igbo community of Nsukka, the film displays the culture’s traditional activities.

Directed by Akinola Davies Jr, Gidi Gidi Bụ Ugwu Eze is accompanied by a portfolio from photographer Ruth Ossai, who’s of dual Igbo/Yorkshire heritage. The town holds special significance for Ossai, who cast the film from churches, schools and markets in Nsukka.

Watch the video featuring Kenzo’s spring ’17 collection below:

In Search of the Perfect Nude: Les Francaises. Interview: Sonia Sieff

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As a voyeur, a straight man, a lover of women, I am and have always been, and likely always will be, eternally, in search of the perfect nude. I have had a few lovers and I have been an aesthete from early on. Perhaps it is what drove me to be an editor of arts & culture publications like BlackBook. As a writer for BlackBook I have lived between the cities of New York, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Paris, London, and Milan. Beyond a cultured life, this is relevant because my existence has been mostly in apartment dwellings. From rear windows I have observed, unbeknownst to them, naked beauties in their most natural states going about simple daily chores. And in my eternal quest to find the perfect nude I have riffed through the pages of the masters’ books – Helmut Newton, Avedon, Irving Penn, Lucien Clergue, Andre De Dienes, Araki, Jeanloup Sieff, others.

Eight years past, while in Milan during fashion week I met Sonia Sieff. There for the shows, to write a few fashion stories for BlackBook, I was staying in a quaint offbeat boutique hotel. An artist friend called to invite me to supper at a local trattoria, which I politely declined out of exhaustion from the day’s events.

My friend would not take no for an answer and I was persuaded to join. At dinner I met a young neophyte fashion photographer and her beautiful accomplice, an actress whom she traveled with that day from Paris to Italy, to shoot nudes using the resplendent architectural landscape of Milan as environmental fodder. The two ladies were a piece of literature telling their story as they lived it. From the second we sat across from one another and dined on that warm Milanese evening, Sonia and I would become lifelong friends.

Like her father, the late transcendent Jeanloup Sieff, Sonia Sieff has her own unique ideology, style, fascination with life and beauty, and would follow in her father’s footsteps; but only on her very individual and strong willed terms. Les Francaises is Sonia’s stunning collection of exquisite nude photographs, of equally intriguing women subjects. The vulnerable women in the book are all friends of Sonia, which makes it personal. This creation, for Sonia, is her opportunity to be real and not cast nor produced like the fashion shoots she does for clients. Les Francaises is Sonia’s first book that captures the warmth, love, friendship, a genuineness, which extends into the images and on to the pages. It is that same feeling of creating a real life story, sans pretense, that drives Sonia in her personal and professional life. I know first-hand.

The photographs capture the sensuality of The French and the author. They tell stories using the sweeping landscapes of Europe, Paris and Normandy; the austerity vs the romantic intimacy of architectural theaters and cathedrals. And, the subtlety of nothing more than a sublime naked body in a chair, a drape, a stairwell, a turquoise blue sea, a blue frilled pillow tickling a woman’s bottom. The dramatic juxtaposition of these intriguing and resplendent bare-skinned women against the broad and intimate landscapes, is what creates the dynamism and elevated individuality of Sonia’s first book.

Just before the book was published by Rizzoli this past February 2017, Sonia and I met in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for a few days of laughs, food and wine, during an uncharacteristically warm New York winter. We pretended it was spring.

 

 

Why and when did you start shooting pictures? Tell us the story.  

I started shooting pictures when I was 17. My father Jeanloup Sieff had offered me my first camera, a Nikon FM2, for my birthday while we were in Death Valley in the US. The film I had put in the camera didn’t work properly and I was so upset that my father left me one hour to re-do the pictures I had lost: photography had become a passion! 

Is there a story to your work, a philosophical idea, something that ties life, art, creativity, work, etc, all together? 

I had the chance to be raised in an inspiring world. My parents were part of the amazing years, friends with Avedon, Newton, Yves Saint Laurent and many great artists. My home was a great ballet of talented people. And at the same time we were very strong as a family, loving to exchange ideas and our works. I knew that doing books was the only thing that will stay. Photography is instantaneous, a clic clac in the silence, a second in a life. Books are timeless. Nudes as well.

Is there an idea behind the book, why have you made it? 

I have always loved working on bodies, skin and portraits. I had also the chance to have amazing and wonderful friends who inspired me. The 30s is a magical age, mature but still wonderful. I wanted to picture the women I admire in their world. It is a book of real women not retouched who all are my friends and who could be my sisters.

Your father was famous for his nudes and your first book are nudes. Tell us more. 

Yes, I believe it is running in my blood! However, our approach is different, he was working in black and white shooting mainly in vertical whereas my nudes are in color in horizontal. I started working on movie sets and my references are mainly cinematic. 

You started shooting for the print world only. Now, how does photography connect to the digital world for you? 

We were the generation who had the chance to start working in films before the 2000s and then we were still young when digital arrived. We had to adapt ourselves to this new technology. Digital has brought a lot, democratized photography as well as social media. But more than before we desperately need pictures that stay, books to look at. We need a balance to this “swipe” world.

You live in Paris and Normandy, does the political landscape of the world, the move toward conservatism and the right, impact your work? 

Now in France we are preparing ourselves for the elections. More than before we have to fight against conservatism and the extremes. We are following what Trump has started destroying, and Brexit in the U.K. My personal story has a terrible echo to what is now happening in the world. My father was Ashkenazi (Jew) who came from Poland and escaped by miracle from the camps and the Gestapo by crossing France as he was ten years old, on a bicycle under a fake name. My mother is German and emigrated to France at 20. We strongly need to react and create a voice against the dangerous leaders who are creating struggles in our world. I have started by giving my voice to feminism, by participating in debates, podcasts, preparing documentaries to show another way.

 

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New Gucci Watch Campaign Riffs on Meme Culture

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Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele proves his knack once again for being in tune with today’s youth culture. Indeed, the new watch campaign for the collection Les Marché Des Marveilles plays on the idea of memes, using the hashtag #TFWGucci (That Feeling When Gucci).

The designer enlisted meme creators to market the watches around relatable situations, often times employing humor. However, the past few days have shown that perhaps this time Gucci might have tried a little too hard.

The Internet world has been split on their judgment of the memes, some finding them cringe-worthy and unoriginal, with others finding them funny and relatable. All of the artwork can be viewed on Gucci’s microsite specific to this campaign. Browse on and judge on!

 

 

 

 

 

MILAN DESIGN WEEK: The Stunning Belvedere Garden is Unveiled

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With Milan Design Week underway in Italy’s most industrious city, there was bound to be a few fantastical aesthetic surprises. To wit, last night Belvedere Vodka launched the ethereally beautiful Belvedere Garden, with a fabulous fete at the glorious Palazzo Borromeo D’Adda.

Designed by Thierry Boutemy, the monsieur responsible for those gorgeously extravagant arrangements in the Sofia Coppola film Marie Antoinette, a series of dramatic arches allowed guests to veritably walk under nature, and figuratively pass into somewhere more serene and safe. And who in these hair-trigger-tense times wouldn’t appreciate that? The installation is actually made from rye, fresh herbs and citrus – which cleverly corresponded to the ingredients in the vodka (rye), and the spritz cocktails served at the event (fresh herbs and citrus.)

The garden will remain open to visitors throughout the duration of MDW, which runs until April 9.

 

FIRST LOOK: Delta and Alessi Team up for Stylish In-Air Dining

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Airport security won’t be getting cheerier anytime soon. But once boarded, things are looking decidedly up for the perpetual traveler.

To wit, the fabulously groovy new Delta partnership with Italian design house Alessi – which we were privileged to have a peek at before its official launch on April 1. The airline, long America’s “cool” carrier, has been ratcheting up the comfort and luxury of late, with plush new seats, wifi access on most flights, bigger overhead bins, notable-chef-created meals and seasonal wine offerings. But this new program brings a welcome dose of style at 30,000 feet.

The Alessi for Delta collection includes signature mod flatware, stylishly patterned trays, stark bone china, curvy crystal glassware…even the tabletop accessories – napkin rings, salt & pepper shakers – get a clever reinvention. It all makes reference to popular items created and inspired by some of Alessi’s most renowned designers; but smartly, feedback was also solicited from both passengers and flight attendants during the design process.

“Alessi was a natural choice for Delta,” says the company’s President Alberto Alessi. “We have worked with some of the most exciting designers in our international network to create the most innovative and advanced in-flight collection in the contemporary design scene.”

Here’s what it looks like.

FIRST LOOK: CJ Hendry + Louboutin Exhibition at Art Basel Hong Kong

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Art and commerce seamlessly merge in the work of New York-based Australian artist CJ Hendry; indeed her latest work was created in collaboration with legendary French shoe designer Christian Louboutin.

The fittingly titled Complimentary Colors debuts March 21st at the Anita Chan Lai-ling Gallery at the Fringe Club in Hong Kong, Hendry’s first time showing in Asia. The artist’s fascination with material and pop culture has previously translated into her signature large scale, photorealistic black-and-white drawings of consumer goods. But this time around she’s turned her focus to an unmitigated celebration of color.

Specifically highlighting the color red as an homage to the iconic Louboutin soles, Hendry’s meticulously rendered, mesmerizing wax pencil drawings of thick oil paint dazzle in their vividness.

“I find drawing very intimate, as opposed to other mediums,” Hendry explains. “Drawing allows you to get very close to your craft; and I can reach that new level of detail in each piece. Pencils are very different from my usual medium: ink.” The artist by her own admission has OCD, so messy oil paints were actually never really a reasonable option.

 

  • Christian Louboutin by Paolo Ferrarini
  • Cj Henry by Matthew Kelly

 

This isn’t the first time she’s been inspired by Louboutin’s designs. Her series The Trophy Room in 2016 (her debut New York show) featured a So Kate heel dipped in bronze, before becoming the focus of one of her ink sketches; it was that work that caught the attention of Louboutin. Noting the obvious synergy between the two, he gushes, “There is something I love in her work that is very playful; and you can feel the artisanship.”

Since 2013 Louboutin has chosen the week of Art Basel Hong Kong to showcase emerging artistic talent. Hendry enthuses, “[Louboutin] is a force whose work I’ve admired for many years. For me, the brand represents what it is to be a strong female – they started with and maintain such a strong product: a high heel. I also love how colorful and playful they are, something I find really engaging. And I appreciate that they are willing to support a young artist like myself.”

Thoughtfully, she stops to reflect and shed light on her apparent obsession with brands: “I don’t think it was intentional to start. It was something that came from a very true place of where I was at the time. I’m interested to see where this new direction will take me.” And so are we.

 

INTERVIEW: Angela Missoni on Her New ‘Salotto’ Art Project

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Enter Angela Missoni’s salotto, or living room, above the Missoni boutique on Madison Avenue, and it’s like being transported to nonna’s house in Italy – except with a whole lot of creativity thrown into the mix. The space is meant to make Missoni’s friends and customers feel like they are a guest in one of her homes; and indeed such was the case as right away when an Italian assistant insisted we have an espresso and some lasagna. With a quick stroll through the intimate space, that image is fortified by personal pictures and memorabilia from Missoni’s family. In the corner sits a stunning mosaic round table, where guests can interact while making crafts and bond through the beloved Italian arts of conversation and food.

The space is also meant to be an immersive experience of contemporary art. Dispersed around the salotto are art pieces from Missoni’s personal collection, some of which are available for purchase. It’s all part of the brand’s ongoing Surface Conversion project, dubbed as such from the concept of Missoni lending the space to artists to convert as they will.

 

© 2017 Scott Rudd @scottruddevents www.scottruddevents.com scott.rudd@gmail.com

 

This particular exhibition, the second in the series, is dramatically titled Surface Conversion Presents Kreëmart “Salotto Angela Missoni,” and was dreamed up by Missoni’s longtime friend Raphael Castoriano, the founder of Kreëmart – which brings the worlds of art and sugar together. As Missoni mentions, the two share a similar aesthetic; hence was born the idea of the performance art piece on display, “La Veglia,” by artist Romina de Novellis – who unravels 20,000 meters of custom-made red Missoni yarn in a contained area. In order for the intimacy of the piece to be achievable, Castoriano suggested the space also be intimate…thus, the birth of the salotto.

“La Veglia” the performance was by private invitation only – the result, an intricate sculpture of yarn, will be on display afterward for the general public.

We caught up with Missoni to discuss the project more extensively.

 

 

 How did the idea of this project come about?

It started a few years ago, thinking that maybe this location, this shop, this area is full of interesting art centers – and I thought of an art space. I have a lot of friends and parties so I thought let’s make an interesting space, a project that I called Surface Conversion, which means I give out the space to an artist to reinterpret it. The artist this past November used the windows. For this project with Romina I made her a special yarn for her performance. Since it is a “home” performance, it needed to be done in an intimate space. So basically this became an installation like my house, like a salotto, so she could perform. In fact this area could be my house, because any artist that you see around, those are all artists that I have.

Tell us about the process of choosing the artists for the salotto?

I am not a professional collector and I don’t call myself a collector. I am an assembler. There is no regular process. I might bump into an artist at a fair, but fairs are becoming too much, too much stress…it’s not anymore what I like to do. One of my bigger passions is flea markets. I also love second-hand shops, so my house is a mix up of values – even though the pieces are all precious to me. I often reassemble as well, bringing a second life to abandoned pieces.

In fashion, you seem to be drawn to ethnic elements. Does that also attract you in art?

I am very much attracted to arts and crafts, so I do have a fascination for artists who work with texture or artifacts. But at the same time, I also have a big fascination for conceptual artists, which is exactly the opposite. I am a very curious person, attracted to many, many things, those that surprise me.

What are your favorite museums and galleries here in New York? And worldwide?

Definitely the Guggenheim. I love the Smithsonian museum [in D.C.]. I try to see them all. I love the MET. I try to go to Naples once a year, and I make a point that I try to see all of the city. So this year it was the Museum of Capodimonte, at which I saw Barroco Napolitano. Last year I went to see Pompeii. I stop at Museo Provinciale della Ceramica di Vietri, and I get so inspired by the tiles there, every time! I just am very, very curious. Yesterday a Mexican artist stopped by and showed me her work through her book. And I said, but I know your work, I saw an exhibition of yours ten years ago in Puebla. And she was amazed! So it’s how I am, sort of random and curious.

This conversion space for artists – could it one day be a host space for aspiring designers?

No, not at the moment. But actually one thing I would really like to do is a museum for Missoni…and to make the history available for young designers to study – because I have amazing archives not yet organized. It’s sixty-five years of fashion history, so it would be great if I could do it.

What is your ultimate goal for the surface conversion project?

My goal for this project is to really give another vision to the store, to give the customer a different experience. And for me to find a reason to come to New York! But really to have a space to see people, since I don’t have a house in New York. I think we will go with this project until the summer, and then I have a new one in September.
 

NYFW Wrap: Fashion Got Political

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New York Fashion Week is a wrap – and, motivated by divisive Trump policies, political statements were a major trend. From newcomers to the well-established designers, the shows provided a platform for designers to express their opinions on hot-button topics such as women’s rights and the immigration ban.

Slogans on shirts were all the rage! Christian Siriano strutted his models in T-shirts reading People are People, while Jade Lai of Creatures of Comfort’s message was We are all Human Beings. But it was Prabal Gurung who made the most noise,  declaring The Future is Female, I am an Immigrant, Revolution has no Borders, and Stronger than Fear.

Other designers, such as Michael Kors and The Row, opted for more subliminal messages; the former sent out models in oversized sweaters with the word Love across the chest, while one of the latter’s looks was a white shirt with the word Hope sewn at the cuff.

 

 

Statement-making accessories also proved quite popular. Rio Uribe of Gypsy Sport opened his show with a speech about the plight of refugees living on the streets. Soon after, models came out sporting hats that read Make America New York, We Need Leaders and This Land is Your Land. Meanwhile, things at LRS Studio got cheeky, literally. Models walked out wearing undies that read Fuck Your Wall and No Ban No Wall.

Amongst all this antagonistic spirit, Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein reminded us to unite as one. Hilfiger started the ‘white bandana’ movement at his LA show by having models tie them on their wrists, a message in support of humankind. Calvin Klein extended the uniting spirit by handing them out to his attendees before his NYFW show.

 

New York fashion week #LRSstudio#fuckyourwall

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Nordstrom + Olivia Kim Launch ‘The Lab’

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Though the official line was that Nordstrom dropped Ivanka Trump simply because the clothes weren’t selling – the retailer has been elevated to the role of “hero” by those forming the opposition to our new President’s early core policy decisions. So there is a particular satisfaction in helping them to support young, up-and-coming talent.

And indeed, this week Nordstrom launched ‘The Lab,’ which will showcase the next generation of designers, featuring selected items from carefully chosen fashion unknowns. A project of SPACE, a boutique-within-a-store overseen by VP of Creative Projects Olivia Kim, the program’s inaugural five are NYC’s Eckhaus Latta (pictured above), young Canadian Vejas (Kruszewski), Turkish-but-London-based Dilara Findikoglu (we love her provocative rocker chic), Natalia Alaverdian’s A.W.A.K.E., and punky Eric Schlösberg.

“We wanted to find a way to show the truly new brands just starting out,” enthuses Kim, “and to recognize the great, raw talent out there. The Lab is for the designers who have just launched their collections, did their first show, maybe used their friends as models and showed in a basketball court in the Lower East Side. It’s true, authentic and they’re creating beautiful collections that we want to share with our customers.”

‘The Lab’ will be available at select Nordstrom locations: LA, Chicago, Vancouver, Toronto, flagship Seattle and Nordstrom.com/SPACELab. It will be refreshed with each new season.

 

  • Vejas
  • Dilara Findikoglu
  • A.W.A.K.E.
  • Eric Schlösberg