Design Museum presents the rebel couturier Azzedine Alaïa

‘I make clothes, women make fashion,’ said Azzedine Alaïa famously. He was the fashion world’s outsider, the rebel couturier, some would argue the last real couturier for he made everything himself and to perfection. Alaïa oversaw the construction of each and every one of his commissioned garments. He was highly skilled as a designer and technician, and he would almost always allow the material, often advanced technical fabrics, to speak... Read More

Writers, their styles and what their clothes say

I have fully immersed myself in the brilliant world of the original punk poet Patti Smith. Having devoured Smith’s biographical M Train, I immediately moved onto her first novel Just Kids, consumed to the soundtrack of the 1975 debut album Horses. In both, Patti references her beatnik look, a look she has maintained with just a few modifications. Smith took to writing after reading Little Women and, like many of us, Louisa May Alcott’s tomboy... Read More

‘Waste less, reuse more’, says new company Sonoma-USA

An exciting new company has launched on Kickstarter. Sonoma-USA’s mission is to turn waste into usable products, and it has captured the zeitgeist. The Californian apparel manufacturer will divert used materials from the landfill, transforming them into unique, individual and exciting products – accessories such as bags and totes. Sonoma-USA is about reuse, it is about upcycling and using the imagination to give life back to otherwise... Read More

Guy Bourdin: Image maker

French fashion photographer and artist Guy Bourdin rose to fame in the 1970s for his provocative work. His first major retrospective in the UK, Guy Bourdin: Image-Maker at Somerset House, sets out to capture the 40-year career of this enigmatic creative from Man Ray’s protégé to famed photographer. In Bourdin’s fashion photography the product is secondary to the image. He almost decorates the space around his models – his images... Read More

Horst: a magician with light

‘Electric Beauty’ are four black and white photographs taken by Horst P Horst in 1939. They are a satirical comment on the futility of extreme modern beauty treatment, fashionable in the 1930s, at a time when the world was on the brink of war. We see the model undergo various bizarre procedures, yet she seems blissfully unaware – in one she is even wearing a creepy mask – of the danger of electrocution. The sinister atmosphere... Read More

Exhibition: Glamour of Italian Fashion

Italy seduces the senses through its art and architecture, design, fashion, food and language. Everything is so voluptuous, so desirable and so utterly Italian. The style is understated yet glamorous, summed up by the wonderful Italian word, Sprezzatura, which roughly translates to a question of attitude, a mood, a certain nonchalance and ‘a sense of easy elegance in action’, notes Sonnet Standfill, curator of The Glamour of Italian Fashion... Read More

Book review: Speculative Everything

Should design purely concern itself with problem solving, or the aesthetics, making objects more beautiful, more usable… or should it also act as critique, agitate even? This is the premise behind an interesting book recently published by MIT Press, Speculative Everything. Authors Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby, both professors at London’s Royal College of Art, have been proponents of ‘critical design’ – a term they coined in the mid 1990s... Read More

Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing

The FRAC Centre in Orleans, France plans to exhibit a slightly unusual piece of architecture next month. The 20 square-meter modern interpretation of a grotto was created from millions of grains of sand bound with a resin for a new type of sandstone. The difference is that this is a full-scale 3D printed room. It is the work of the German computational architect, Michael Hansmeyer, and his colleague Benjamin Dillenburger who are based at the Computer-aided... Read More

Richard James, fashion and BMW

BMW Park Lane transformed last week. This bright and airy car showroom, with its clean architecture and uncluttered interior, and vistas of Hyde Park, turned into a catwalk – a busy runway, models parading pastel-coloured summer suits along the long and narrow interior space. BMW Park Lane was the unusual venue for designer Richard James’ 2014 Spring/Summer collection, unveiled as part of London Collection: Men (LC:M). Only in its second year,... Read More

Festival des Métiers: Hermès at Saatchi

Context matters – even in the world of luxury scarves, bags and belts – and there is arguably nothing quite as powerful as a brand with a strong narrative. You cannot invent this – well you can, but the impact isn’t quite as evocative as having inherited an intriguing story. Hermès clearly knows this. Founded in Paris in 1837 by Thierry Hermès as a house of master harness-making and later saddle-making, the company remains family-owned,... Read More

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