Nicolas Jaar: Underground Intellectual And Transcendental Creator

College does not always look good on everyone. The ever so present pressure to create something special, to transform oneself, and to be above average brilliant can often times shatter one’s dreams. However, Nicolas Jaar somehow managed to do all of the above with effortless style and genius poise while studying Comparative Literature at Brown University. He started his own record label and art house, remixed an array of intriguing electronic tracks, defied musical genres, and performed at major festivals all over the world before graduating. He’s now the catalyst for a new wave of slow beats, pushing for emotional resonance over speed and exploring the club scene on a conceptual level. Yes, the guy is an intellectual inside and out.

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Patti Smith Celebrates Art And Friendship At MoMA PS1

MoMA PS1 is one of the most unique exhibition spaces. For those who hate school, it brings back memories of classroom tediousness and for those who love it, it’s reminiscent of the days when children sat on the front steps waiting to be picked up. Going there is always a good adventure, especially when Patti Smith is performing in a stage the size of your living room, reading excerpts from her book “Just Kids” and being the class act she’s always been.

As one of the most important artistic provocateurs of our time, Christoph Schlingensief combined political outrage and satire in his work to depict German modern history in a rather shocking way. Using multimedia tools he was able to convey themes of immigration, authenticity, and religion, causing controversy and upsetting German complacency most of his life. In a never-ending attempt to challenge the status quo, Schlingensief and Patti Smith have collaborated in the past, developing a great friendship that ended too soon due to Schlingensief’s death. His retrospective series at MoMA PS1does not fail to get the audience to think critically about many of today’s socio-political issues, and there is no one better than Patti Smith to open its doors to the public.

Emphasizing the importance of cherishing life and creativity, Patti Smith celebrated Schlingensief’s art and friendship with a private concert at the MoMA PS1 Dome.  Although the opening coincided with the date of Robert Mapplethorpe’s death, Smith was in good spirits, contributing to the celebrative yet nostalgic tone of the show. An attentive, reverent crowd listened carefully to Smith’s reading of her goodbye letter to Mapplethorpe, followed by an account of what life was like when both of these legends were part of her life.

For those who missed the opening, no need to fret; Smith is performing again at Carnegie Hall on Tuesday, and the exhibit will be showing at PS1 through May 25th.

Pharrell Williams: Modern Day Universalist and Style Mastermind

There is a good chance you’ve been humming Pharrell’s Happy since his recent Oscar performance, or that you’ve been listening to his new album G I R L since it came out last week. Maybe you’re still stuck with Get LuckyBlurred Lines, or one of his other inescapable hits. Pharrell Williams is one of those people we’ve been watching in awe for the last ten years, if you can believe. Have you been wondering why he doesn’t seem to age? Are you intrigued by his unwavering influence in music and fashion? So is everyone else. Pharrell is just an extremely well rounded person, with a clear vision of what he wants and an incredibly unique ability to get it.

Pharrell’s been pushing music and fashion boundaries since 2003, breaking stereotypes left and right, but now more than ever seems to be his time. He produced two of the biggest songs of 2013, got nominated for an Oscar, took a Grammy home, and got hitched.  His clothing lines Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream turned 10. To those tuned in over the years, Pharrell’s evolving style is reflective of his multi layered personality and talents. Every time he steps out in public he opens a box of surprises, unleashing elements of playfulness in skate culture, hip-hop bling, and high fashion – he looks especially spectacular wearing Lanvin. Pharrell’s style is so self-specific, and that in itself offers encouragement to others just to wear what they feel like.

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See It Now: Peter Arnell’s Frank Gehry-Curated Retrospective At Milk Gallery

After years of harnessing a hobby and developing thousands of negatives and digital images, Peter Arnell decided to let the world take a peek inside his mind with his first exhibit of black and white photographs at Milk Gallery.

“This is a historical moment for the gallery, it’s definitely the exhibition of the year,” said Mazdack Rassi, the mastermind of Milk Studios. Considering Arnell’s history and creative trajectory, this retrospective series curated by Frank Gehry is an inspiring and mind expanding collection of his best work. Arnell’s spontaneous technique of shooting with whatever he has handy to capture the currency of street life and street style sets him apart from other artists.

“I took some of these with my iPhone,” says Arnell proudly, proceeding to give guests a look through his cell. “I know everyone has a phone, but not everyone has the eye. It’s an eye-phone moment I have,” he says.  Technicality certainly contributes to his masterful creations, as the ability to turn phone images into large-scale works of art most definitely comes with experience.

“I’ve been shooting for over 30 years, I have millions of images but I never thought of having a show. A friend encouraged me to do it,” says Arnell. The eclectic combination of architecture, street culture, sensuality, and the abstract make for an exciting and diverse show.  Some images are blurry, others detailed to perfection– the point is to understand and appreciate the beauty in everything.

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PHOTOGRAPHS 1984 – 2014 PETER ARNELL will run in the Milk Gallery from March 5 through April 1.

‘What Difference Does It Make?’ A Film About Music and Madness

The Red Bull Music Academy got creative people from all over the world thinking deep thoughts last night with the global premiere of What Difference Does It Make?— a film about the drive, desire, and the highs and the lows of making music.  Shot at the 2013 Red Bull Music Academy in New York and produced by Ralf Schmerberg’s Berlin-based artist collective Mindpirates, the film sheds light on the creative process of those who live a life devoted to music—featuring appearances and personal insights from Brian Eno, Lee Scratch Perry, Seth Troxler, James Murphy, Giorgio Moroder and many more.

Taking a peek inside the mind of all these music legends turns out to be an insightful way to think about one’s own contribution to the world. The film is intentionally about making music, but after an hour and a half of close ups and testimonials it becomes a film about life. “What difference does it make?” is a question that we must ask ourselves often, whenever we dedicate time, effort, and creative energy towards anything. We are here to matter, to love what we do, to create. Luckily, as an artist one is allowed make mistakes and start again. The film explores that idea by showing the constant changes and challenges of life in the music world, as people search for the path to creative freedom and lose themselves in their madness.

Since the RBMA is celebrating its 15th anniversary, the film is free and is now available online. Watch it! Moroder is a legend in it, Murphy is miserable as usual, and Brian Eno probably made the most money out of everyone.

Pharrell Joins G-Star To Save the Planet

The degrading situation of our oceans is no longer news for anyone. Neither are the ever changing climate and other environmental disasters we have witnessed in the last few years. Neither is Pharrell’s Westwood hat. Our planet is in bad shape; however, seeing one of today’s most pressing issues at the forefront of fashion week is a sign of improvement.

As the creative director of Bionic Yarn, Pharrell Williams is using fashion as a platform for social change, collaborating with G-Star to create a denim collection made out of recycled fibers extracted from the ocean. The collaboration was announced this past Saturday at the Museum of Natural History, where an eclectic crowd listened carefully to environmentalists and scientists such as John Davis of the Vortex Project emphasize the importance of saving the oceans before marine animal life no longer exists.

According to the speakers, we have a responsibility to maintain the stability of our planet and most of us are completely ignorant of how our actions are affecting the future. Extracting and recycling plastic is not such a simple task; it requires a collective effort to stop using and producing plastic once and for all. Pharrell claims to also be learning about the environment and fashion as he goes. “Since I’m a novice in fashion and I waste everybody’s time on my own trying to figure out what they’re doing and how they’re doing it, I figured this was an interesting thing that popped up, the first thing that made sense because I got to add my little design to it. So if anything, I’m learning just as much as you guys.” He then continued, “I applaud the folks at G-Star because they’re a big force in fashion and they don’t have to care about these things.  And I know it (the presentation) got a little heavy at times, but you know what? Sometimes the truth is heavy.” It sure is. While most people listened attentively to the presentation, some seemed uneasy as images of dead animals with plastic bags in their stomachs surfaced on the big screen. Pharrell ended his speech on a positive note, reminding the audience that as long as everyone collaborates and does what they’re supposed to do we can all be happy. “I like to make people happy” he said.

“RAW for the Oceans” will be available in stores this summer. Be happy about it.

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VISVIM’s Hiroki Nakamura Talks Vintage

VISVIM’s Hiroki Nakamura brings passionate dedication to NYFW, showcasing new pieces from his aesthetically relaxed men’s collection and introducing his women’s line WMV to the US for the first time. Walking into his presentation the other morning felt like going back to the future, as his intention to create a more modern vintage style comes through in each and every carefully tailored piece.  The room is dressed with old quilts, vintage motorcycles that he restored himself and a diverse array of to die for clothing. After 14 years in the business, Nakamura still longs for a personal connection with each piece he creates, going to unimaginable distances to craft a product that represents the concept of “Patina” and can age beautifully and naturally. The women’s collection designed alongside his wife Kelsi is no different and will be available at the Dover Street Market in New York in February.

Traveling is obviously important to you, as your collection is manufactured all over the world and your designs transcend many cultural barriers. What are some inspiring places that you like to go to?

I’ve been traveling since I was really young, like 10 or 12, and then on my own since I was 17. I think traveling is very important for us all. In old days we didn’t have such easy access to places, which made it harder to create. Nowadays, we have the advantage to be able to travel from one place to another, making it easy to mix inspirations or even manufacturers, materials. We can mix around by traveling and by visiting places. It’s difficult for me to choose one place because I always find inspiration anywhere I go.

This collection has a definite Old American vibe. Why America?

I always liked American culture, the men’s culture, the building culture. The theme for this collection is Patina. I wanted to design something that will age nicely, beautifully, naturally. People use the word to refer to antique cars, antique motorcycles, and furniture. It means that it ages in a balanced way. That motorcycle over there I restored (points to vintage 1920’s bicycle on display). When we found that motorcycle from 1928 it was very sad. It hadn’t been loved for a long time, or taken care of. So what we did, we cleaned everything. Unscrewed and cleaned everything by hand and gave so much love to the motorcycle. I didn’t paint anything, I just gave it so much love and I think it looks really beautiful. It’s nicely aged and that’s what patina means. Appreciating the natural beauty of things. I would like to design a product that can age nicely. I want to make something that can be loved.

Are you talking about the love for this culture or the love for collecting and restoring things?

I like all kinds of beautiful old stuff that being cultural or material. By collecting antiques and vintage stuff I get a lot of inspiration. Also by traveling. It’s my drive; I like to make something vintage for the future.

Can you talk a little about your vintage ideology? You seem to have a strong relationship with old things.

You can find vintage everywhere. Just a piece of textile has a lot of beauty to be discovered, or Patina. That’s something we want to communicate to our clients. Anything that you put love and effort into has a lot of beauty in it. And to design things to age nicely we have to use natural ingredients, natural dyes, natural tanning process for leather. We have to build from the inside, it’s very important for us and I learned it from vintage. I’m learning something from old people, what they did to old things, how they treated it, approaching it in a way that I can understand why we are drawn to it. Every season we approach it from a different angle to find out what makes us “wow”.

The most exciting technique we developed last season is the natural dye. We’re using a lot of natural dyes, like indigo, mud, cochineal blood. We do it by hand over the textile, we rub it to create evenness and I that’s something that excites me right now. It will age nicely.

How do you bridge the gap between old world applications and traditions and more modern manufacturing techniques? As much as we wish to keep it raw and organic, sometimes we have to mix, do you agree?

It’s all about timing. Everything we see here in this showroom is probably grandma made. Some old lady probably did that quilt by hand in the 1900’s. All made by hand, and it takes forever to do that, it’s not commercial and time makes things different now. That’s why traveling is the advantage we have, they couldn’t do it in the 1900’s. We travel all the time and we can intentionally mix whatever is left in this culture in terms of techniques and make something very unique that can compete with a vintage piece. My goal is to put my stuff next to strong pieces from 1900’s which are more powerful because they’re made by hand, and compare and be on the save level. I mix modern techniques to achieve the old look; it’s our privilege of today. I take advantage of modern techniques as well, like being able to fly everywhere.  I need to put my character into the product, it’s something I really spend energy to translate it to the modern product.

How did you become interested in fashion and design?

I just knew what was cool and what was not cool. When I was a teenager I could see a pair a boots and know if it was cool, or a denim and I could tell if it was cool vintage or not.  I started to question. What’s the difference if it looks the same, why is one better, why does it speak to me? I started to become curious about what the composition was, and the reason behind it. When I started my own brand I wanted it to speak to me and I wanted it to have meaning.  I’m s till trying to achieve that.

Do you have any restrictions in terms or what to create next?

We are so lucky we don’t have that kind of restriction. I want to do cars and motorcycles sometimes but I just don’t have that type of business. But if it’s something we like to design, then we do.  It’s important to set myself to be free, so things can come from the heart.

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Lynn Yaeger: Unmistakable Fixture, Live Canvas, and Voice of Reason

Anyone afraid to take risks in life and in fashion needs to learn about Lynn Yaeger. A self made journalist and style icon, Yaeger is more down to earth than it may appear, using her personal style and sense of humor to empower those less confident to experiment.  Don’t like wearing pants? No problem. Wear tutus.  However, she makes an important statement for those who tend to get carried away by the luxurious nature of the fashion industry.  “Don’t lose sight of how most people live and become seduced by this dream world of money and fashion so that you lose all sense of reality.” Keep it real.

Yaeger confronts social issues such as the exclusivity of fashion and its aesthetic preconceptions with little effort and much humor. Her groundbreaking pieces for VogueWSJ, and New York Magazine touch upon concepts often disregarded in the world of fashion.  Her conversational pieces about discount shopping and individuality make her an institution within an industry that often times disregards people like her. She can be found in the front row of the most exclusive fashion shows, but unlike other fashion journalists, she is on the lookout for the odd and the mismatched.  Lynn is famous for picking up on examples of cultural insensitivity in fashion, such as runway references to countries in recession (Ralph Lauren’s Spain-inspired collection when half of the country was unemployed in 2012) and the lack of proper reading material outside shows – “Because you shouldn’t be reading just The Daily before a shows starts.”

Even in the beginning of her journalistic career, Yaeger stood out for noticing the absurdities and the humor in the world of fashion. As a customer service assistant for the Village Voice, she wrote her first submission on a piece of paper in an effort to let others know what she could see as a fashion outsider. Since then, her distinct look and informal writing style have contributed to a positive shift in fashion journalism. Yaeger is fashion’s voice of reason.

READ + and shop Lynn Yaeger’s look

Indochine’s Michael Callahan Joins Brooklyn’s Culinary Movement with Coco

The amusement over Brooklyn’s cultural explosion is no longer a subject for headlines, as most people in NYC and around the world are well acquainted with the borough’s emancipation. Brooklyn’s experimental nature has always attracted artists, musicians, and creative types of all sorts, but most recently its culinary movement is making Brooklyn a top destination for restaurateurs as well.

Michael Callahan has been part of the New York restaurant scene since the opening of Indochine in 1984. Through multiple partnerships and connections in the arts and literature worlds he was able to build a mini empire in Manhattan. Now, 30 years and 18 restaurants later, he came across the opportunity to open a place in his native Brooklyn, where his only partner is the landlord.

“I found this place through a friend” said Callahan, admitting to like the “word of mouth” way of Greenpoint.

“This used to be a chocolate factory, and is right next to the music venue Coco 66, so we spent a year renovating it and decided to keep the name Coco, it made sense.” Callahan’s Indochine, Bond St, Republic, and Kitichai all have a lot in common, from the cultural inspiration to their architectonic nature, but Coco is different.

“It’s my baby,” says the restaurateur. Callahan plans to sound proof and insulate the venue next door to create a place for local bands to perform, with the intention to bring in a more music-oriented crowd.

As you walk through the dimly lit hallway past the 12-seat steel bar, an open kitchen with glass windows invites diners to witness the process of what chefs Julie Farias and Joseph Capozzi call “elevated home cooking.” The restaurant’s layout and setup is in perfect harmony with this philosophy – simple, clean, and with a Brooklyn charm. You will feel at home as soon as you see the vinyl collection, tufted white booths, and tall wooden tables. The chefs periodically come out to talk about the dishes and are happy to share stories about the process of finding the best ingredients. According to Capozzi, what attracts him to the Brooklyn Culinary Movement is the emphasis on utilizing only local and seasonal produce, from the wine, to the bread and cheese. “The secret is to use simple recipes with extra loving,” says the chef as he comes over with a platter of grilled oysters with bourbon butter and seaweed beans. The flavors are exquisitely combined and of course, you feel the extra loving.  The $5 bacon cheeseburger is already a favorite, revealing the importance of having something for everyone.

Capozzi is also a veteran in this industry with 11 Madison Park, Ruschmeyer’s, and The Fat Radish under his belt.  One can’t help but wonder: what is it about them that makes it work? Looking at these restaurant veterans, it’s clearly not only about the food; it’s the atmosphere, the consistency, the location, and most importantly, how you treat people.

Coco had its first soft opening this weekend, serving only specials and a bar menu to those lucky enough to pass by and venture inside. A complete menu with items such as a grilled pork chop with cherry peppers and escarole and a root vegetable casserole with be available this week, along with a full bar.

Coco is located at 66 Greenpoint Ave (between Franklin & West), Brooklyn, NY 11222. Open Tuesday-Sunday from 6 p.m. until late. 

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