alexa BlackBook: Designs on Acting: ‘Hard Sun’ Star Agyness Deyn Talks Drama with Writer-Director Alex Ross Perry

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IF you found the bleak dystopia of The Handmaid’s Tale terrifying, you’d better buckle up for Hard Sun. The sensational Hulu/BBC drama concerns a pair of British detectives who discover that the apocalypse is coming in five years — and that the government wants them dead for finding out.

Aside from providing cryptic conspiratorial thrills, the show boasts a riveting performance from lead Agyness Deyn as the intense Elaine Renko. The emotionally wounded deputy inspector is trying to save the world, resolve family trauma, and process a growing suspicion that her partner (Jim Sturgess) is corrupt.

A former model raised in Manchester, England, Deyn, 35, has proved to be a formidable actress with an excellent taste in film and television projects. The New Yorker named her one of the best actresses of 2016 for Sunset Song, the story of a young woman persevering through a brutal rural existence in World War I-era Scotland. It’s a long way from shooting ads for Dior, Burberry, Uniqlo and Vivienne Westwood and hanging out with creative collective the Misshapes (she’s been based in NYC since the early ’00s). Next, Deyn will co-star alongside “Handmaid’s Tale” actress Elisabeth Moss in “Her Smell,” an indie film about feuding female punk rockers by writer-director Alex Ross Perry.

Perry has made a name for himself as a sensitive and curious teller of women’s stories, via a quick succession of acclaimed, fantastically cast micro-indies: 2014’s nervous-novelist tale “Listen Up Philip” (with Moss and Jason Schwartzman), 2015’s deep dive into female friendship, “Queen of Earth” (Moss again), and 2017’s “Golden Exits” (with Chloë Sevigny, Schwartzman and former Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz).

Deyn and Perry convened a meeting of their mutual admiration society on an April Saturday in New York.

 

Khaite sweater, $1,150 at Saks Fifth Avenue, 611 Fifth Ave.; Pants, $690 at BodeNewYork.com; Earrings, $496 at SimonMillerUSA.com

Alex Ross Perry: Do you remember how we met?

Agyness Deyn: We met at — what’s that place called on St. Marks? It was Cafe Orlin! Wow, this might have been, like, four years ago. We ended up sitting down for about two hours chatting — drinking loads of tea. I thought it was just so fun. I remember when you spilled the tea — about the project you were working on, about stuff we were both working on, about life. The two hours went by and we were like, “S – – t, we’ve been sitting here for a long time.”

ARP: I remember feeling exceptionally encouraged and excited by it. The meeting was for a big movie that I was trying to make that never got made. But because I ended up having a lot of meetings, now I’ve essentially been able to cast anything I’ve made since then with people I [originally] wanted to put in that movie. The following spring, I saw Terence Davies’ “Sunset Song” and was completely blown away by your performance. What path did that character set you on?

AD: I think about Terence [Davies] regularly, probably weekly. I finished that film and thought, “Oh, I suppose that I am an actor now.” I said that to Terence, and he said, “Well, of course, you are.” I remember thinking someone believed in me a million times more than I believed in myself as an actor and as a woman. He gave me a huge responsibility to carry a film he’s been trying to make for 15 years. Making that film, I went from being a girl to a woman. His projection of what a woman is helped me embody what I had in myself.

 

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ARP: How did that change the bar you’ve now set for yourself?

AD: I knew that I wanted to play strong women with a point of view who have something to say. “Sunset Song” and “Hard Sun” are so different, but it was kind of a continuation. Elaine [in “Hard Sun”] is this damaged but strong and enigmatic woman who seems kind of genderless and walks to the beat of her own drum. I have a very English way of being apologetic. I didn’t have that kind of “F you” attitude, and [the director] drilled that out of me very quickly. It was fast-paced, the story matter was intense. It almost killed me, but it was exhilarating to play her.

ARP: I don’t know how long the shoot for “Sunset Song” was, but with [“Hard Sun”], suddenly you’re a sprinter who has to run a marathon without training for it. 

AD: Definitely. It was such a shock. I remember saying to Jim [co-star Sturgess] after we’d done the first two episodes, “We’ve got to do this again, haven’t we?” And he was like, “Yeah.” Like a marathon, you’re not sure how you’re going to save your energy and your feelings because you don’t know how much you’ll need at the end.

ARP: Now, you can’t just say yes to some TV show that won’t be satisfying.

AD: Exactly. I have the same sensation about the movie [“Her Smell”] you and I are doing together.

 

“Making that film, I went from being a girl to a woman … It almost killed me, but it was exhilarating to play her. ”

 

ARP: We’re not asking you to come in and be this mysterious, elfin, British model-type woman. There’s music lessons involved, there’s a certain theatricality involved. We’re setting up a series of extreme challenges. 

AD: I can’t wait. It’s funny because I know I’m so excited and so terrified before a job when I start dreaming about it. I woke up this morning after having a nightmare about actually being in the band: “Oh my God, oh s–t. I don’t know the song.”

ARP: The sort of all-encompassing logistical panic of this movie is something I’ve never really experienced. 

 

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AD: Where did you get the idea of making this film?

ARP: I wondered, what could I be doing that no one else would be doing right now? A lot of people can make something inspired by an era 50 years removed. Maybe I do a music movie about a disreputable genre no one’s really romanticizing in the same way yet. But it’s so much more about [the] identity of all these women in this movie — motherhood and sisterhood within these bands, and addictions and addictions to people. 

AD: I always say ’79 was such a great year for music in England, with the Clash and all these brilliant bands. It was amazing to be a young person and introduced to them by different friends. It shapes you as a person. So, it’s a fun way to explore it all again and also hear everyone else’s stories.

ARP: I’ve jokingly said this is a role you’ve been preparing to inhabit for your entire life, via modeling or acting. Maybe “mysterious, ethereal rock goddess” was a career path that may [have] eluded you, but now you get to use your lifetime’s worth of knowledge to be in this character.

AD: I remember seeing images early on of the Slits and the Raincoats — these young women just doing what they wanted. It was just so exhilarating to think like, “Oh, I can be that.”

 

 

ABOUT THE SPACE

We photographed Agyness Deyn at a lower-Manhattan pied-à-terre tucked inside the 1879-built Robbins & Appleton Building, with interiors designed by Mark Zeff. Commissioned by a Miami-based couple, the Bond Street residence showcases the duo’s diverse collection of special artworks by renowned creators such as Andy Warhol. The designer was charged with maintaining the raw loft’s distinct character while also creating intimacy for the couple and their teen children. Using ribbed glass and blackened steel, Zeff partitioned the 4,500 sqaure-foot space into wonderfully dramatic tableaus, including a glass-box study and an airy kitchen designed for entertaining.

 

 

On the cover: Blazer, $1,695, and pants, $1,295, both at RosieAssoulin.com; “Elsa” earrings, $740 at AgmesNYC.com

Photos by Martien Mulder; Styling by Danielle Nachimani, Hair by Seiji using Oribe Hair Care for The Wall Group; Beauty by Gianpaolo Ceciliato using Chanel Plaette Essentielle for Tracey Mattingly Agency; Bond Street Photo by Eric Laignel

 

alexa BlackBook: IKEA Fever

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IKEA has long been a staple for both bargain hunters and streamline-design lovers. Now, fashion kings like Virgil Abloh (just named Louis Vuitton’s new menswear designer) are repurposing the store’s iconic blue-and-yellow logo on inventive streetwear. 
 In honor of the Swedish fever, we asked three creatives for their takes on Ikea’s iconic “Frakta” bag.

 

Brooklyn garden whiz Brook Klausing recycled his “Frakta” bag as a pretty planter.

 

Brook Klausing, a garden designer and owner of Brooklyn’s Brook Landscape, elected to use his “Frakta” bag as a flower planter, putting his own spin on eco-upscaling. “We drew inspiration from fast fashion and fast furniture to create our own version: fast foliage,” he tells Alexa.

 

LA artist Neil Raitt adorned the trusty tote with his own palm print.

 

Los Angeles-based artist Neil Raitt (who points to Bob Ross’ kitschy 1980s TV program “The Joy of Painting” as an inspiration for his repetitive landscapes — on exhibit at LA’s Anat Ebgi gallery and this year’s NYC Armory Show) also took a crack at the big blue bag. He inlaid a palm-tree print, which he originally created in 2016 for an exhibition at Mon Chéri gallery in Brussels, to create a portable piece of art.

“When you look at an Ikea bag, with its blue plastic and yellow lettering, it’s immediately recognizable,” he says. “So, I wanted to bring in something equally accessible, like a palm tree.”

 

Interior designer Ryan Korban stitched a kitschy pillow — complete with Ikea trim.

 

And finally, New York-based interior designer Ryan Korban (who’s created eye-catching spaces for all manner of high-end fashion labels, including Alexander Wang’s NYC flagship and Balenciaga stores across the globe) dreamed up a DIY Ikea throw pillow. It’s the perfect spot to rest your head after putting together all that furniture.

 

Photos by Lizzy Snaps Sullivan; Tamara Beckwith; Courtesy of Neil Raitt and Anat Ebgi.

 

The Creators: Jean Lauer

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Jean Lauer photographed by Skye Parrott for BlackBook Magazine

Of the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on home renovations in the United States last year, a respectable portion came from the startup Sweeten, which listed projects totaling over $150 million. Jean Lauer, the site’s founder and chief executive officer, expects to see that number grow, and the trend lines point in
the right direction. Last year the National Association of Home Builders’ chief economist, David Crowe, said in a statement that the only roadblock to a “slow, steady recovery of the housing industry” was a “shortage of qualified labor and subcontractors.” Sweeten aims to correct this market inefficiency by making it easier to find a contractor.

The platform operates like this: Homeowners list their project and all of its details, while contractors, architects, and designers bid. Once a contract is awarded, Sweeten checks in at the beginning, middle, and end of construction to make sure all is well. Centralizing the process introduces a wealth of safeguards against fraud and shoddy work. Sweeten’s projects range from $15,000 renovations to a $15 million residential development in Queens. “Whatever price point they are working at, the contractors just have to be great at what they do,” Lauer says. Installing new kitchens or ripping out bathrooms might not seem like an area rife for digital disruption, but just as Uber flipped the old hand-in-the-air method of taxi-hailing on its head, Sweeten may turn out to be revolutionary in its own right.

This article appears in the spring 2015 issue of BlackBook on stands now.

Shop Enviable Hostess Gifts for Happier Holidays

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Tis the season of houseguests, of seeing people you don’t normally see in their pajamas dressed in bedclothes reaching for coffee cups in host kitchens, of coming together to celebrate, and of wearing out one’s welcome. That last part can be delayed, though, if the guest in question brings a thoughtful, useful, beautiful hostess gift.

It’s for this reason that we’re delighted about Homenature, a home design staple on Long Island brought city-side in November by founder John Heilman and Tim DiSalvo.

The Flatiron store seems to have some sort of magical draw to it, with the noses of passers by glued to the windows as evidence. Once inside, there’s a clean, white oasis in the middle of Manhattan begging to be lived in. Or at least begging for a beautiful piece of tableware or a luxurious throw blanket to come home with you.

It is, as John puts it, very “American,” something close friend (and one of the store’s first customers) fashion designer Michael Kors would echo in sentiment and his own design. The mix of vintage and new, all beautifully crafted, clean, and restrained, are inviting, and boughs of pine and other stems and branches that grace the tops of tables and counters in the store add to the relaxed, fresh feel inside. These arrangements, too, are available to take home.

The 6,000 square foot space was designed by architect Peter Weed, and is filled with furniture, coffee table books, candles, cutlery, serve ware, glasses, and any other accessory it takes to make a home a home.

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We think your host will enjoy an Argentinian alpaca blanket — doubly, you’ll surely get some use wrapping it around yourself and loved ones by the fireplace wherever the season takes you.

Homenature is located at 7 West 18th Street in New York, NY. Homenature is also open in Southampton at 6 Main Street, and in Amagansett by appointment.

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Images courtesy of Homenature

Take a Lesson in Design from Rapper/Architecture Afficianado Ice Cube

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It might be two years old, but that doesn’t make this video of Ice Cube driving through Los Angeles, pointing out the important architectural and design elements, and noting the fine attributes of the Eames house any less enjoyable.

Without further ado, Ice Cube on Eames:

Drink Champagne Directly from Kate Moss’s Breasts

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Once upon a time Marie Antoinette’s left breast served as a template for the first champagne coupe. Today, we have Kate Moss.

In celebration of 25 years of the most defining model of our era, London restaurant 34 commissioned artist Jane McAdam Freud (daughter of Lucien) to create a mold of Moss’s breast for a new and quite intimate collaboration with Ms. Moss.

Moss was delighted to lend her boob to the project. Said the reigning waif: “I was excited to participate in this project — what an honour to be alongside Marie Antoinette — she was a very intriguing and mischievous character… champagne is always associated with celebration and happy occasions and I had fun creating this beautiful coupe.”

Moss will be in attendance when the glasses are introduced at 34 and its sibling restaurants, The Ivy, Daphne’s, and Scott’s in early October.

Photo courtesy of 34 Restaurant

Check out Kate’s fellow model Cara Delevingne baring her bum for Tom Ford.

Read an interview with Kelly Osbourne on her new clothing line.

 

Skate Culture Hits the New Museum

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Photo by Jerstin Crosby

Wherever you go, there the New Museum is — if you’re cruising the streets with a limited edition Chapman Skateboards skate deck designed in the shape of the Pritzker Architecture Prize winning New Museum building.

Handcrafted from Canadian maple and finished in silver with a high-gloss paint, the decks pay tribute to artists like Harmony Korine, Larry Clark, Ed Templeton, and Ari Marcopoulos, who’ve all found inspiration in the convention-breaking world of skate culture.

Only 150 were made, and they are available online and in the museum shop for $125.

Watch the limited edition deck in action below:

CHAPMAN SKATEBOARDS X NEW MUSEUM from Chapman Skateboards on Vimeo.

Emerging Designers: Abigail Daphne Lewis

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Considering that she’s only just graduated from the Parson’s MFA program, Abigail Daphne Lewis displays an impressive depth – a talent one would consider to be a sign of experience and time. But maybe it’s the simple headspace that a school program offers that has allowed Lewis to delve into the complexities she has with her graduate collection.

The thickest-ply cashmeres and couture-level glass medical tubing-cum bead work are beautiful as they catch the light and envelope the body. How the clothes interact with their environment and the context in which the pieces are worn is something Lewis considered. The feel of the clothes was important as well. But beneath the beautiful tailoring, sculptural layering, and painstaking beading lie troves of thoughts on gender conventions and domesticity (a reclaimed smock or apron), Jungian concepts (Jung’s enantidromia is clear in the delicate glasswork that acquires strength in its repetition), and the importance of intellect. Her clothes, as her website says, are “for women who think.”

 In an earlier interview Abigail tells me:

“The woman I design for is deeply complex and embodies an array of contradictions. I am interested in her life and opinions apart from fashion. She uses style to draw people inward, but her mind quickly overpowers physical beauty. She is at peace with the strength required of fragility.”

In other words: the clothes offer protection, comfort, and vestments in which to live your life, but she’ll let you speak for yourself.

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Photography courtesy of Abigail Daphne Lewis, in collaboration with Paul Jung.

Watch Emerging Designer Karolyn Pho. 

Photon Showers: A Cure For Your Jet Lag

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Wandering into the Wired Store at the beginning of every holiday season often brings on a strong feeling of oh my god, it’s the future, and no product showcased has made me feel that more intensely than the Photon Shower made by Nexus Interactive Arts. (The what? I know. But anyway…)

Intrigued by a warning on the door – something or other about seizures and light sensitivity – I found myself sizing up the stall. At first hesitant to step inside, a rep mentioned the Photon Shower’s jet lag fighting abilities, and considering my sleep deficit I figured it was worth a whirl.

Supposedly mimicking sunlight, all those LEDs offer a certain… kick start. Round one didn’t do much, but after a second time watching 90 seconds of pulsing lights (and listening to ambient noises and narration by a strangely soothing and slightly robotic female voice,) I felt more up. The kick actually lasted a couple hours… maybe the Delano and The Standard should consider installing one in the spa for weary Art Basel travelers. Or the hotels in London, Milan, and Paris come fashion month… Hoteliers, are you listening?