Vilsbøl de Arce

In my head, clothing- or anything wearable- has two functions: to contain and protect the body, and to express the personality of the human being inside the body. Vilsbøl de Arce has always been a label whose collections seem to call most strongly to these two objectives- which is inevitable, given that Prisca de Vilsbøl and Pia de Arce, the designers behind the label, state that fashion is art that revolves around the human form.
I'm not sure whether I agree with that statement completely- IMO fashion can be art, but not always. But in the case of Vilsbøl de Arce, it's easy to see that the human form does indeed take centre stage in their designs. In a way, it's almost like having a different take on the concept of body-consciousness- Vilsbøl de Arce's designs simultaneously echo and defy the lines of the human body and its interiors, which is interesting to see.
images from http://news.vilsboldearce.com and Dazed and Confused (image#3).


Cakes, 1963

I've always been more of a cake person than a pie one, even without this Wayne Thiebaud painting- it didn't convert me, just reaffirmed by love for all things edible (speaking of which, even this blog's daft url).
I've never been a fan of that many pastel shades in a clothing palette, but something about the texture of the painting (the detail shots show paint laid on the cakes almost like icing, which is mildly reminiscent of what a certain Vincent Van Gogh used to do)- the presentation of the colours in the context of such simple shapes, perhaps? just calls out to me to recreate it one day, with actual food. When that day comes, I'll photograph them, I think.
image from artinthepicture.com


Colour Me Obsessed

As a kid (around age 7-8), the two things I wanted most were
a) a tiger cub to raise at home (apropos of the fact that this man was my childhood hero)
b) a set of Colleen double-ended colour pencils, round ones if possible (i.e. not faceted hexagonal).
The latter are a much more achievable and likely object of schoolkid desire than a carnivore cub, it's not hard to see why. The quality of the lead was superb, which meant prettier pictures during art class- and it helped that the entire thing was packaged so beautifully. The real draw, though, was the fact that there were so many colours- and the double-endedness meant each pencil carried a minor colour juxtaposition that informs the way I mix colours in my clothes, all the way into my twenties. I mean, just look at the pictures:
It also helped that the colours were meticulously named on each coloured half of each pencil (see below). There are colour combinations in there that are incredibly happy-making to look at, even today (lilac and leaf green, carmine and magenta, yellow and green, red and purple, and blue and brown are just a few).
The pencils, which are a Japanese brand, got a relaunch about two years ago, which makes me very happy- I hadn't known they were out of production in the first place, but I'm glad I won't have to miss them any more, even if I am no kid and colour pencils have no justifiable place in the life of my drawing-challeged self except to help me pick out the right shades of lilac and leaf green to wear together.
images from penciltalk.org and hois.evilsmile.net


Paul Harnden: This Sweep Is As Lucky As Lucky Can Be

It's more or less a given that fashion thrives in equal measure on throwbacks and futurism (however one might choose to understand the latter term- it doesn't only refer to the angular shapes that Courreges et al made so popular in the 1960s), and is positively vampiric for change. Which is why it's hard not to find it gratifying to come across a designer like Paul Harnden, whose commitment to his aesthetic seems to be consistent to the point of unyielding- I've heard it described as 'Victorian chimney sweep', and find myself compelled to agree- the wrinkled, lived-in quality of the clothes and shoes (induced by burying the latter for a year at a time) and the look are certainly old-fashioned on first glance, but appear completely modern in their styling. As is obvious, they're a far cry from anything that might be considered traditionally 'sexy' for a woman, but to be honest, I find that refreshing more than anything else.
It's also rumoured that he works somewhat in the tradition of an old-style artisan, with a production team of just three people and a large part of the handwork done by the designer himself.
pictures from the Paul Harnden thread on The Fashion Spot.


Telephone, a.k.a. Lady Gaga and Beyonce Go Bonkers

Quite apart from the fact that the song is refusing to vacate even the smallest inch of space in my head, I love the video for the number of random associations it seems to be setting off (also for the fact that it features a little homage to Kill Bill: Volume 1, which is one of my favourite movies of all time), and for the copious use of major cat-eye-inducing eyeliner.

However, off the top of my head, I can't help thinking that the makeup is a massive factor in why Gaga looks so much like a peroxided Amy Winehouse.
Not that that is a bad thing, but it's fairly unmistakable:

My favourite part of the video- it involves mass murder in a diner, and Beyoncé + Gaga proceeding to dance it off in stars-and-stripey costumeThe killer detail here is the flag manicure on Beyoncé.
Which reminds me in a big way of Chanel's SS08 collection (pic below)- which was equally OTT Americana and featured an abundance of stars and stripes and blue denim- even Gaga's bikini above looks like it could have come from there- though I do realise that the inspiration wasn't necessarily Chanel, just the patterns we associate with Americana.
My other favourite bit: A Kill Bill homage! To the Bride's post-coma getaway car, no less.
screenshots taken by me


Blooming X-Rays

Floral radiographs are among my favourite things to look at in the world- it's hard not to love the eerie starkness of floral and leafy shapes when their internal structures are laid bare by x-rays. There's a purity and beauty to the resulting pictures that I probably wouldn't have felt in pictures of live flowers, and the manner of their presentation leaves me feeling a bit like these are a floral post-mortem of sorts.
I knew they reminded me of photographs I'd seen before, and spent a while racking my brain before I remembered: the late Irving Penn's photographs (see Dandelion, below) did feel a bit like this when they were in black and white)
Steven Meyers photographs from http://www.xray-art.com, Judith McMillan photographs from www.art.com


Issey Miyake AW2010/11

Loops and lines and chaotic colour that graduates to grey angularity and structure- there's something about the geometrically-inspired (by William Thurston's geometrization conjecture, no less) collection and its play on volume, texture, colour and shapes that I think is going to make it my favourite of Paris Fashion Week so far- and maybe that something is the fact that the inspiration isn't literal, or even overtly used.
Also, it never, ever ceases to be refreshing to see a show that truly is all about an idea, and not about its Statement Shoes (or before them, It-Bags).
pictures from style.com and style.it

Peachoo+Krejberg AW2010/11

Given that their clothes seem to be known for a brand of dark romance which isn't that far away from the œuvre of Owens/Demeulemeester/Yamamoto, I guess it's not much of a surprise that I rather love Peachoo+Krejberg's AW 1010/11 collection. It's impossible not to appreciate the simultaneous ease, toughness and even seeming fragility to some of the looks, or the fact that the subdued colour palette isn't allowed to turn boring (one clever texturing device: fabric cut into leaf/feather shapes). And it doesn't hurt that it appears beautifully styled, with the exception of the necklace overload- which, to me, looks silly, distracting and rather out of place on the clothes.

pictures from TFS


Michael Sowa

Diving Pig
I've loved Michael Sowa's work ever since my first introduction to it almost a decade ago. The Amazon description of his book compares his work to Vermeer and Magritte, which seems about right given the combination of humour and what looks like a painstaking attention to detail (the animal elements, however, do draw my thoughts toward a third artist-Donald Roller Wilson). What draws me in is not only the frequently anthropomorphic quality of his animals, but also the restraint in the way he paints them- which of course makes it even easier to invest them with human qualities- occasionally silly, yes, but also capable of great dignity.
Also, it's fun to play Spot The Resemblance. Like School of Fish, belowTo Golconde, by Magritte(below)

Animal figures, as mentioned before, do tend to populate his work: whether in Sharks of Suburbia (below), Diving Pig/Kohlers Schwein (top picture), or the December 2002 cover of the New Yorker (2nd picture below).
Or, of course, in what are, in pop culture terms, the most famous of his paintings, by virtue of the fact that they decorated the bedroom of Amélie Poulain and talked over her head as she slept at night.
(L-R) Filmhound, Fowl With Pearls

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Fondest of upbeat music and brightly coloured sweets.