BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: Kristina Bazan’s Seductive, Thought-Provoking Video for ‘VR’

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Safe to say, Kristina Bazan is a veritable phenomenon. She rose to prominence as the very young force behind fashion/travel site Kayture, and she’s a model who has turned singer – without any of the skepticism sometimes attached to such modern media hyphenates.

To wit, this seductive, thought-provoking new single and video “VR,” which BlackBook premieres here. Part Luc Besson sci-fi enigma, part David Lynch noir mystery, it shows Bazan lasciviously glammed up, and getting particularly friendly with a dancer’s pole. Her come hither croon is, to say the least, irresistible.

“I had the idea of this night club,” she reveals, “where men and women can go to have a drink and relax while meeting people in VR. The whole song talks about this, the contrast of illusion and reality, what feels real and what in fact is not. And especially our need for ‘instant turn-on'”



The track itself has a slinky, new wavey aesthetic, perfectly underpinning the sensuality of her vocal delivery.

“It’s influenced by ’80s rock music, with a psychedelic disco vibe,” she says. “I wanted something sexy and fun, yet with an underlying melancholy and mystery. Bands like Blondie and Siouxsie & the Banshees inspired the creation of the song.”

The single is taken from her debut EP, EPHV1, which will be released October 26 – followed by a full album in January 2019. She promises it will be very much about how technology lords over our lives.

“It’s going to be very eclectic,” she explains, “with many different influences and directions, and a predominant electronic, futuristic, technologic feel.”


BlackBook Interview: Nigerian Artist Laolu On His Striking New Belvedere Bottle Design

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Brooklyn born Nigerian artist/musician Laolu Senbanjo is known for using skin as a medium – amongst other things. But his latest surface was a Belvedere vodka bottle, for which he delved deep into his own heritage and personal mysticism to conceive.

Known for his work on Beyonce’s Lemonade, as well as collaborations with Alicia Keys, Swizz Beatz and Tony Allen, he applied his “Everything is my canvas” credo in creating an aesthetic representation of the Belvedere ethos. And the result is an image that seems intriguingly abstract, yet is steeped in mythology and folklore – something both wild and sacred.

We caught up with Laolu to chat about the process and the final design itself.


How did the partnership with Belvedere come about?

They wanted to partner with an artist who shares the same values to design this year’s limited edition bottle. When I paint a subject, each design is unique to what I believe depicts their inner beauty. This message is seamlessly in line with Belvedere Vodka’s mission to reveal the unexpected beauty in life.

There’s also a human rights element?

As a social advocate and former human rights attorney, my philosophies align with Belvedere Vodka’s commitment to community and creating positive action in the world. In this case, the program supports the (RED) organization and the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa. As an artist, I get to share my soul with people around me, my environment and the world, and I’m able to channel my experiences – like my journey as a human rights attorney and as a Nigerian.



What was the artistic mission? Were you given freedom to conceive the work as per your inspiration?

Belvedere cleared off their iconic silver birch trees and let me work with a blank canvas. My inspiration came from my interpretation of the vodka as well as doing a lot of research about what Belvedere is at its core, like the rye and the pristine water.

Your medium is generally skin, you paint on people? Can you tell us a bit about why?

I have coined the performance art ritual called “Sacred Art of the Ori.” It is an intimate spiritual experience between me and my muses. The foundation of the Sacred Art of the Ori ritual is the Yoruba religious practice of becoming one with yourself or awakening the God in you (Ori). I not only work on skin, but work on murals, fashion garments, shoes, everything, hence my mantra: “Everything is my canvas”.

You call your style Afromysterics. Can you elaborate on that?

I was born and raised in Nigeria and I am of Yoruba ethnicity – so I take symbols from Yoruba mythology. If you tell me a story about something, I’m going to interpret it through that lens and the elements of Yoruba. The spirals on the bottle mean inner beauty. The heart means passion. You can see the flow of the water all throughout, and there’s balance with symbols of rye.

What is your take on the finished Belvedere project?

The bottle is an amazing blend of my art and bringing to life what Belvedere stands for – and I get to be a part of giving back to society, which means a lot to me. This is the first Belvedere bottle with the high-quality, full-wrap sleeve technology that features a flowing design with sharp edges that represent the water and rye working together to produce dimension and taste. Its subtle skin-sense texture, which reacts to UV lights, and is used to bring another sensory component to the bottle. The charcoal coloring and distinct shapes create complex, story-rich designs, which draw heavily from my Yoruba heritage.


Fashion Détente: ‘Pop-In@Nordstrom’ Brings Mexico Across the Border

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Impossible though it may seem, the United States currently finds itself at political and ideological “war” with both of its neighbors, Canada and Mexico – obviously the result of the ongoing follies of the current administration.

Thankfully, fashion exists far above such absurdities – wanting only to help us spend our days feeling a little more fabulous via our stylistic choices. Nordstrom’s venerable VP of Creative Projects Olivia Kim, specifically, has made a mission of exactly that; and her latest undertaking, Pop-In@Nordstrom ¡Viva México!, crosses our unnecessarily controversial southern border to bring a bit of Latin heat and chic to select Nordstrom locations.

Launching this Friday, August 31, it will feature some of the hottest and most authentic Mexican apparel, accessories and home decor brands – Binge Knitting, Olmos Y Flores, Siempre Viva, Carla Fernandez – exhibited in a fittingly elegant and artistic manner.



“Cultural exploration is a guiding theme for Pop-In@Nordstrom,” enthuses Kim. “We have had partnerships inspired by different countries including France, Italy and Korea; and I’m so excited to bring the vibrant culture of Mexico to our customers through a unique curation of our favorite finds that have been created by Mexican designers and artisans.”

And putting the project decisively above the political fray, a partnership with the Mexican Consulate will celebrate Mexican Independence Day on September 16, featuring traditional chefs and street food vendors.


Rihanna’s ‘Savage x Fenty’ NYFW Show Was an Inclusive Spectacle

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If there’s one thing that characterizes every New York Fashion Week, it’s a battle for the most attention-grabbing spectacle. But Rihanna’s very much buzzed-about lingerie line Savage x Fenty accomplished not only that, but also managed to stir up the ever important conversation about female inclusivity.

The line itself was launched earlier this year (May 11, to be exact) to much chattering amongst the fashion classes. The 90+ piece collection of sleepwear and accessories was divided into four distinct lines: On the Reg, U Cute, Damn and Black Widow. At the time she told Vogue, “Women should be wearing lingerie for their damn selves. I can only hope to encourage confidence and strength by showing lingerie in another light.”



The NYFW show was actually live streamed on YouTube. And while the considerable likes of Bella Hadid and Joan Smalls were present, the model casting keenly represented women of all body types, including a pregnant Slick Woods.

The setting, a Brooklyn Navy Yard warehouse, was given a sort of tropical-futuristic atmosphere, with an emphasis on nature (chirping birds), and featuring almost tribalistic dancing – a celebration of primal sisterhood, in a sense. And, of course, a no-holds-barred expression of sexuality; the line, after all, features whips, crops, pasties and – no kidding – furry handcuffs.



BlackBook Interview: Interior Designer Greg Natale on His New Book ‘The Patterned Interior’

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The venerable design icon Jonathan Adler said of Greg Natale, “His rooms are designed with such sureness that they look as if they were always meant to be.”

This is high praise, to be sure – but one look at the Australian interior designer’s new book The Patterned Interior (Rizzoli), and you get an idea of exactly what he means. Despite Natale’s signature ability to, as the title suggests, bring together patterns in an inimitable, thought-provoking way, the rooms featured on the book’s pages (from Sydney to Oklahoma to New York City) convey an insouciant naturalness – a sense that nothing is meant as a “show off” statement…despite the compelling final effect.

As the book was about to hit the shelves this week, we caught up with him to chat about inspiration, not following trends and the role of nature in contemporary interior design.



What were some of your earliest influences, and how have they changed over the years? 

My sister studied fashion and some of my earliest memories are of her putting colored pencils in my hand and making me draw. It really unlocked my imagination and got the creative juices flowing.
As well, I grew up in a family home in Sydney that was built by Italian migrant parents, and was awash with pattern. In the book I talk about how this immersion, from the tiles in every room to the upholstery and so on, instilled in me a real love of pattern and the place for decoration in our living environments. I think there’s always a clue to where we came from in our work, whether it’s deliberate or subconscious.

Do you feel as if we’ve moved beyond overarching trends in interior design, to focus more on an individual sense of style?

I’m always a little wary about trend-talk. I avoid what I call “cookie cutter” design, but I do also believe in the zeitgeist and the commonalities that can come through in the work people produce. I would definitely say that I enjoy seeing what’s going on around me, but there is so much inspiration in looking at what’s been, and I love pushing new boundaries by referencing the past, looking at other creative spaces like fashion, art and seeing how that can all be brought together to put a new twist on something.

Was there a particular impetus for doing The Patterned Interior?

I often joke that there is a pattern molecule hidden away somewhere in my DNA makeup. I love it and I wouldn’t be able to create a space without it. The new book is an exploration of how pattern doesn’t have to be one note, it’s about how it contributes to a space, visually and on an experiential level. It also addresses the breadth and versatility of pattern, by showcasing twelve vastly different homes that we have designed, from Australia to the US.



What are you trying to convey with the title?

My first book, The Tailored Interior, was a bit of a manifesto. I wanted to demystify the interior design process for those who wanted to understand how and why things worked – not just to look at the book and see beautiful spaces. When it came time to start this book with Rizzoli, I felt like pattern was something that I had touched on but really felt that it offered so much more to explore. For The Patterned Interior we really pick up on the pattern story, but we do it in a different way this time around. It’s a monograph that explores twelve of my projects and draws out the place and function of pattern. The title for me was a neat way to pick up where we left off, but it gives clue to the new focus.

You talk in the book about nature as a muse. Do you think environmental worries are inspiring us to reconnect with nature in design?

In Australia, I think to a certain extent we are always aware of how nature impacts on our lifestyle. We are lucky enough to live in a very beautiful part of the world and the outdoors plays a huge part in how we design our homes and how we interact with them. Our climate means that a lot of the time we design for seamless indoor/outdoor living. The chapter in my book that explores nature as muse is the one that takes us to an incredible private villa on The Great Barrier Reef – to a magical, tropical place called Hamilton Island. I think that here more than any other place you are aware of your environment; the raw beauty of the place was something that couldn’t be ignored in this design.

Do you particularly enjoy updating historic styles, as you did with Victoriana in Geelong, Australia?

The process of restoration is an important one. As well as interior design, I also studied architecture, so I have a great appreciation for a home as a whole. The idea of context, site and designing sympathetically to the era of that place but investing a place with a new character or giving it a new lease on life is thrilling.



What were some of your most challenging assignments?

Some of our most challenging works have been delivering some pretty huge projects in very-very tight time frames. While it’s not my preference, it is always remarkable to look back and see what can be achieved when the pressure is on and the constraints are really imposed. Beyond that, I think designing for yourself will always be challenging. In the past three years I’ve redesigned my own home as well as built and fitted out my company’s headquarters in Sydney. To the annoyance of my partner and my staff the places are never done – I can’t help but keep tweaking and adding to them.

How would you ultimately describe your style?

I consider my style to be layered, and I strive to create tailored, tightly edited spaces that meet at the intersection of design and decoration.

What do you hope people will take away from The Patterned Interior?

I talk in the book about how powerful pattern can be in eliciting a reaction in people – it can actually be very polarizing. It has the capacity to really draw a range of emotions, and in this book, by demonstrating the diversity of uses and the range of styles, I hope to start a conversation about its place in not only performing a decorative function, but also the impact it has on how we feel and how we relate to our interiors.



© The Patterned Interior by Greg Natale, Rizzoli New York, 2018.  All images © Anson Smart.

‘ON CANAL’ Will Bring Installations, High-Tech Immersion + Cultural Enlightenment to NYFW

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As if New York Fashion Week (September 6 -14) wasn’t enough of a spectacle unto itself…the fascinating new project ON CANAL (launching September 6) will transform its legendary namesake NYC street into a cultural extravaganza of epic proportions. Founded by Wallplay CEO Laura O’Reilly and Vibes Studios‘ Sonny Gindi, it has taken 20+ vacant Canal Street storefronts and filled them with thrilling, edifying and perception-altering programming.

To wit, they’ll set up temporary showrooms for fashion zeitgeisters Telfar and CFDA / Vogue Fashion Fund finalist Luar (a fave of Kendrick Lamar and Solange Knowles), as well as up-and-comers the likes of Kim Shui, Sektor, Vaquera and Gauntlett Cheng. But there will also be tech fascinations like the Beheld 3D scanner – creating a three-dimensional model of each guest – a VR installation from DiMoDa, futuristic, responsive garments from Wearable Media, as well as a mixed-reality installation by FELT Zine – and let’s face it, who doesn’t need a bit of altered reality right now?




Some of it will be heady. For instance, you can firsthand witness the recycling of your unused threads, as Colm Dillane of KidSuper has set up sewing machines for instantaneous repurposing, a thoughtful commentary on waste in the fashion biz. And Osmunda, an organization devoted to the re-greening of NYC, will host forums and discussions on sustainable practices in the industry.

So, when the shows and schmoozing get to be all too much, there will now be a place to escape for a bit of fascination, enlightenment, and, most importantly, a lot of dazzle. Could this be the future of fashion weeks?


Wearable Media

Olivier Rousteing Cast a Group of CGI Models in his Latest Balmain Campaign

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CGI’s not a completely new tool in the fashion industry – after all, cyber It-Girl Lil Miquela has collaborated with brands like Prada and NYC-based AREA. But Olivier Rousteing took the trend to a whole new level when he decided to cast three CGI models for his latest Balmain campaign. That’s right – as if women didn’t have enough to stress over in looking at real life models, we now have to compare ourselves to digital perfection.


For the brand’s Pre-Fall 2018 campaign, Rousteing reached out to digital artist Cameron-James Wilson to “construct a new, alternative and virtual Balmain Army.” Wilson became popular earlier this year with his virtual model Shudu, who has almost 150K Instagram followers, and has graced the pages of The Cut and The New Yorker.


For the Balmain campaign, however, Wilson created two more models, Margot and Zhi, so the trio could model digital versions of the brand’s Pre-Fall collection created by CLO, a company that creates “true to life 3D garment simulation” to help designers throughout their development process.


The campaign definitely looks cool, but also, kind of like a Sims version of a fashion ad. Yet is Balmain just the first brand to reject IRL models to dive head first into CGI? We’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, I guess we should all follow Shudu on Instagram. I mean, she’s already stealing our jobs. So, best to keep an eye on our man’s DMs.


Kim Petras Is The Star of Opening Ceremony’s F/W 18 Campaign

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Photography by Oscar Ouk for Opening Ceremony


Kim Petras is starring in Opening Ceremony‘s Fall / Winter 2018 campaign, her debut as the face of a fashion brand.

With images by Oscar Ouk – Petras plays both shopaholic and shopkeep, swiping her plastic, and strutting around with bags laden on her arms in certain shots, then steaming clothes as a stylist in others. She looks amazing in each shot, retaining her signature playful, casual high fashion vibe throughout.

“It was like we were all hanging out,” said the shoot’s stylist, Matthew Mazur to PAPER about photographing the rising pop star. “Just because it’s work doesn’t mean you have to be bored, anxious, or stressed.”


Photography by Oscar Ouk for Opening Ceremony


Photography by Oscar Ouk for Opening Ceremony


Photography by Oscar Ouk for Opening Ceremony


Photography by Oscar Ouk for Opening Ceremony



Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty Will Make Its Runway Debut At NYFW

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Fashion Month is almost here!

And you know what that means? All of our favorite brands will be hitting the runway, with everything kicking off in New York in just a few short weeks. This season, Rihanna will be joining the NYFW lineup, with her new lingerie brand, Savage x Fenty making its runway debut.



Of course, Rih is no stranger to the fashion fanfare. Before launching Fenty x Puma, which she presented during NYFW and PFW ahead of the brand’s current hiatus, she sat front row at shows for everyone from Yeezy to Alexander Wang. But the inclusive lingerie label she announced last spring hit stores earlier this summer, following a series of viral Instagram ads featuring influencers of all sizes and colors. Hopefully Rihanna will maintain the brand’s focus on diversity and ethos of empowerment for their first runway show.



As of now, not much is known about the presentation, other than that it will take place on September 12 in New York City, and that it won’t be just like any other fashion show. Rih described the event as an “immersive experience.”


#UCUTE in that Lace Teddy! | Tap to shop that! ✨Cc: @mollyconstable

A post shared by SAVAGE X FENTY BY RIHANNA (@savagexfenty) on


There’s one thing we do know, though: Rihanna definitely doesn’t like to follow convention. When she released the Savage x Fenty line in May, she even included a set of handcuffs as part of the collection. So, whatever she does on the runway this Fall, we know it’ll be lit AF.


Image courtesy of Savage x Fenty