Legos Still Make Me Smile

My childhood was built on a Lego foundation. I spent hours playing with Legos, not assembling the proscribed object instructed by the manufacturers, but creating my own vehicles and fortresses. I love creating new things with simple tools. I was naturally very amused by Jean-Charles de Castelbejac's recent use of Legos as accessories. That kind of playful gesture might be criticized as novelty or disposable fashion but there's no arguing with comedy and good-spirited humor.

My friend David and I were discussing David Bowie's Diamond Dogs and we both agreed that its a great album but David had originally gotten the impression that it wasn't worth checking out because of some reviews he had read years ago. The critic had accused Bowie of recapitulating his Ziggy Stardust character. When David told me this I replied simplistically: ok...so are the songs good are not? And we both agreed that they were. Criticism generally has this effect. Once you see that something is in fact good (makes you laugh, makes you smile) abstract judgements become completely useless. As David Bordwell pointed out there are too many stubborn stylists out there perpetrating reviews as serious criticism.

Coming to these pieces by Nathan Sawaya (via Brandy Shaloo) I was reminded of how self-serious some people are about art and I've become very attracted to the less lofty language of the Bahaus and Russian avant-garde of the WW2 era. There seems to be an absolute absence of self-seriousness in creating these gothic and surrealist forms out of vibrant colorful children's blocks.

Saway's work is currently touring N. American museums.


Survival of the Fittest?

Everything ends. Even things that seem invincible or unimpeachable. The ubiquitous Crocs bit the dust, and so did the obnoxious domestic Hummer. The New York Times is reporting that the death of the Wall Street look is upon us. Coincidentally menswear is doing really really good right now
In a reversal of every recession in the last 100 years, figures show that men have not cut back on buying clothes as much as women have. They’re not buying power suits — they’re replacing them.

And the Old Grey Lady suggests a more expressive tact. Meanwhile Anna Wintour is teaming up with Mayor Bloomberg to excite shoppers back into stores across the city but the only thing that seems to be consistently grabbing shoppers' pursestrings is the persistent reduction of retail prices. Thus far the incentives aren't working well and shops are closing left and right. Some names are sure to bite the dust.

"Sewing is a contact sport.": Sruli Recht

I'm barely getting to know this designer Sruli Recht but his influences (former employer Alexander McQueen, cyberpunk author William Gibson) and his unique approach to a number of design fields have my attention. While Recht has caught flack for his use of controversial unsustainable materials, and his style is very unconventional it can't be denied his work speaks for itself. And he's so far been prolific putting his hands on a wide variety of disciplines from typography, illustration, to accessory design.

The bottom line, however, is that I just want all of these boots, even (especially ?) the sci-fi swashbuckling ones. Check out the Sruli Recht Fashion Spot interview here if you missed it.

Images via Sruli Recht


WTF? 8 1/2 Part Deux: With A Vengence

So something horrible came to my attention yesterday. Something truly despicable that made me aware of how low perhaps we've come as a civilization. I can only classify it as a form of audio-visual rape.

***EDIT: I have been informed that the movie "Nine" is not actually a sequel to 8 1/2, but actually based on a play of the same name which was heavily inspired by Fellini's film. I apologize to Will Smith, Daniel-Day Lewis, and Myley Cyrus for the indulgent rant but stand by my conclusion which still probably applies ...

In conclusion: fuck you Hollywood for your soulless disrespect for art.


In Love With April

April 77 is charming the hell out of me with its latest collection. But I have a special weakness for embellishments on the classic motorcycle jacket. This particular jacket makes me want to drive out to the wilderness far away from the city lights where you can see the stars, bright and crystal clear.

Image from Archetype Showroom


Sample Sale at Archetype Showroom

Spend those pennies!

Hernan Bas at The Brooklyn Museum

Hernan Bas' body of work displays a bridge between the staged journalism of consciously stylish pop art developed by artists like Elizabeth Peyton and the hyperrealism of Peter Doig and Neo Rauch. The works are both transportive and illusory. His hand is sometimes graphic yet painterly. The romantic atmosphere surrounds artifacts of the dandified sexuality and kitsch juvenile adolescence of The Hardy Boys. He describes his work in an abstract for Saatchi Gallery:
Heavily influenced by The Decadence period of literature, Hernan Bas’s paintings are inspired by well-worn pages of Wilde and Huysmans. “Why does homosexuality seem to make you pre-disposed to liking these things?” Bas questions. “As a result this work is tainted with Saint Sebastian martyr types, dying dandies and peacock feathers, all the materials that dictate a certain queer vocabulary."
The current exhibition at The Brooklyn Museum contains works from several series including The Great Barrier Wreath drawing from the spirit of Hieronymus Bosch and Picasso's blue period. It's a recapitulation of pre-Modernist painting from a very postmodern perspective. The artist succeeds in portraying a world filled with danger, young lust, and cultic mystery.

The exhibition at The Brooklyn Museum is up currently and ends May 24th.

Fashion Boldy Goes Where It Has Always Gone Before: Blondes

I will never understand why the fashion industry takes such a backwards approach to diversity, with a few token exceptions designers and casting agents pretend that a small portion of the world's ethnic makeup represent the most beautiful and aspirational of personalities. Very few exceptions have broken this iron wall of sameness. Every excuse in the book has been heard. "I asked the agencies to send me ethnic models but there really isn't any" It's a broken record at this point.

Times Online reports that now designers are using the recession as an excuse to cut back on "quirky" models. The explanations are contradictory:
Dr Abigael San, a chartered clinical psychologist, says: “Blonde hair and blue eyes are known for appealing to a lot of tastes, it’s a classically beautiful look. The association with blonde hair goes back to childhood: we associate these characteristics with forces of good, honesty and trust. We’ve recently been deceived by bankers and politicians, so the need to trust is even greater”.
Blonde hair and blue eyes = good, honest, truthful. As opposed to the blonde haired blue eyed wall-street guys who look like Ken? Here, from the same article, is another curiously antithetical reasoning from Dr. Gail Brewer:
We also live in a predominantly brunette society — so we are naturally drawn to this look, which is seemingly exotic.
So blondes are both exotic and the most safe. These are two conflicting concepts. I think designers should wrap their head around building a client base that is broad, and has some depth instead of appealing to dull conservative ethnocentrism. Recently some fashion journalists have stepped up to the plate to decry the obvious discrimination against ethnic diversity on runways. This is a problem with a long history. We all remember Italian Vogue's "All Black" Issue from last year. Imagine a world where an issue like that wouldn't be cause for any conversation, where it was unremarkable.

NYmag spoke with model Lisa Kebede in April who sees some positive change for runway diversity. She thinks that first lady Michelle Obama has been making a dent.
"I think there’s a lot more black models working and I think that’s because of having Michelle and Barack out there. I mean there’s been this issue, raised last year — how there wasn’t enough black models on the runways — but I think Barack and Michelle have really helped us, hopefully forever, to get over this hurdle for black models."
I hope she's right.


Somewhere in Griffith Park

Sometimes a collection grows on you as Givenchy AW 09 is doing with me. I'm actually looking at leather leggings as plausible for Fall. Call me bonkers. More than that though I'm completely sold on the capes and much of the footwear coming this fall.

The following is an editorial from the last Arena Homme+ mag by Alasdair McLellan and frequent collaborator Panos Yiapanis. Alasdair's work can often be seen in the pages of Pop and V Magazine. His work exhibits a natural personality that brings to life daring high fashion looks. He can make a space suit look natural and down-to-earth.

Somewhere In Griffith Park
Photographer : Alasdair McLellan
Fashion Editor : Panos Yiapanis
Models : Simon Nessman, Joey Kirchner & Ryan Bertroche

Photos via The Fashion Spot

All in the Family: Coppola's Tetro

Francis Ford Coppola may have a brilliant new picture here. Based on the trailers and other info skipping around the intertubes, my interest is piqued. Tetro is the story of a family at odds with each other because of rivalry, and Vincent Gallo plays a tortured artist for whom the film is titled. I've known too many characters like his in real life. Forgotten skillfully penned manuscripts and wonderful songs decades old, yet to see the light, hide in attics and filing cabinets everywhere you go.


Introducing MYKROMAG: the thrilling adventures of a young impressionable fashion magazine

In a world where big name glossies are stuffed with bland ad campaigns, boring retreads of the same withered perspectives. In a world where celebrity covers rule with an iron fist, one little magazine will rise up to turn back the tide of banality. One magazine will break the rules.

Mykromag is that magazine. Coming this summer to a newstand near you.

Actually no, its web-based apparently. Which is a bit more convenient.

Its free. And...they have some really nice features with some fresh faces from around the fashion industry. They interview Bronx born model Shaun Ross and designer rising stars like James Long whose androgynous urban warriors are pictured below

Follow the link children.


The Seventies: sequins, ultra-wide lapels, and grotesque color schemes.


The Seventies: Bowie, Motley Crue, Big Star, and Iggy Pop?

The era was one of excess. Diane Vreeland's Vogue was drenched with now-poorly aged editorials, and fashion took a strange turn. The shameful sartorial choices of the era are so awkwardly linked however with some of the best of rock and roll. David Bowie through the years was no consistent style maven. His stage persona was draped in camp gesture. Still, even a broken clock is right twice a day. Pictured below is Bowie back in the glam days with guitarist Mick Ronson wearing an unfortunate windsor knot. Bowie looks fucking rad in the photo. Check out that jacket. Its pretty badass, though the wingspan of his lapels is ridiculous he's definitely ready for a proper space quest in that get up.

Image courtesy of The Contributing Editor photograph by Mick Rock

Seeing it immediately revived the memory of this SS09 Tim Hamilton blazer that I've been lusting after. I love the Op-art quality of the converging panels on the back. Somehow it looks better without the broad lapels and embellished piping. It's like an Ellsworth Kelly. Very sharp.

Crisis and Fountainheads

By now you have all heard the troubling news from WWD that Thom Browne's CFO and CEO are exiting leaving the rumors to swirl about the company's ultimate future. Will it close? Will Thom Browne as we know it be no more after the well-received Pitti Uomo presentation?

I was watching The Fountainhead (starring Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal). It's not very good but I did enjoy a few things about it. There is a very Randyian unintentionally comedic erotic sequence involving Cooper (as Harry Roark) cutting rock in a quarry, the camera fetishizes his work, progressing to a violent makeout session, and it ends with Neal striking him in the face with a riding crop. The costume design is superb especially for Cooper and Neal (any woman with sense will want the robe she wears in her first scene). Most integral to the film however is the protagonist, Howard Roark, a symbol of Rand's masculine ideal, of defending one's aesthetic ideals in the face of shifting market trends.

Fashion has seen design houses rise and fall with the tumult of caprice. If Thom Browne does close his doors he will be in the company of many designers, some of them very great indeed. However his struggles come at a time when Menswear is the safer arena of fashion. Men's fashion is consistent for retail and actually expanding in both sales and market breadth.

Rand's Howard Roark defies the trend by being a futurist but most artists are not so lucky. Public opinion shifts so irrationally at times and shuns even legitimate work. Its the cliche of the starving artist to be rewarded in death, not by St. Peter at the pearly gate but by St. Sotheby's posthumous auctions and Sotheby's cherubs, the establishment art critics. The best thing about The Fountainhead though is not original at all but classic Aristotle. The good pursued by the artisan, by any virtuous character, is gained in the process of mastering and sustaining his own craft and the discourse of his craft. Roark's ultimate goal is satisfaction in creating dynamic architecture and defies committees and housing boards who insist he alter his designs to make them safer, more conventional. He eschews easy success and material gain for purity of his craft. Whatever end Thom Browne faces as a design house I do wish the designer luck for having a peculiar vision and sticking to it.