Last Stand by FAILE

The day has finally come for the Brooklyn Artists Ball and the third and final group of artists that I was lucky enough to speak with who are designing a table for this evening’s festivities is Brooklyn-based duo, FAILE. I am a huge fan of street art and when it comes to the contemporary movement, FAILE are world-wide leaders. Though their work is often exhibited in non-traditional art contexts, their creative process begins much like that of any other artist, with image making; “Whether we’re working on a theme or series or just individual pieces, it all begins with images, pattern and language. Once, we’ve created this visual vocabulary to pull from, these works become the basis for the paintings, printmaking and sculpture.” In the end, their collection of pieced-together images is, “Akin to an urban tapestry where you’re left with fragments of the city – pieces of image and typography that create new narrative meaning through abstraction and juxtaposition.”

Winter Stories by FAILE

FAILE’s art is able to build a heightened connection with the observer oftentimes because of its placement in atypical settings; “Much of that originally comes from working on the street and directly connecting to people in public spaces, that parlays into exposure through social media and hopefully popular culture as a whole.” Their success in doing so is, in part, because of their ability to force onlookers to see somewhat familiar images in an entirely new light, “Also I think the combination of many recognizable elements in a work that all come together to create a greater whole is something that resonates with people in today’s world.”

Tired Artificial Flowers by FAILE

Although their original creation for the Brooklyn Artists Ball may not be displayed on the streets of New York, they are using familiar design techniques, nonetheless; “Our table at the Brooklyn Museum is based of a style of wood paintings we’ve been doing for a few years now. It really is this combination of many individual painted wood works that create this larger assemblage.” Their inclusion of their trademark quilt-like patterning and, Prayer Wheels – that they started creating in 2008 – “That stem from the question: “What do we pray for in a modern society?” are sure to speak to their artistic aesthetic.

Super Sonic Surprise 2 by FAILE

Ultimately, the project for the museum not only makes sense for the pair as artists, but also as individuals, “The Brooklyn Museum represents the part of New York that we call home. It’s basically in our backyard and really feels like it promotes the part of the city that we connect with most. It’s the museum we bring our kids to, and the museum that has inspired us with many amazing shows over the years.” This special bond is one that I can’t wait to see play out this evening at the party and after-party. I hope to see you all there!

Les Ballets de Faile by FAILE

When it comes to fashion it feels like the past three runway seasons designers have been emphasizing the art of layering and mixing of patterns. For Fall/Winter 2013 Jeremy Scott and J.W.Anderson, in particular, took the FAILE route through their use of colorful, segmented patters and visual patchwork/overlays. FAILE-like graphics command as much attention walking down the runway as they do hanging buildings or sculptures. Hopefully some street art-lovers will sport similar trends once these looks hit stores in the fall.

Fall/Winter Runway Looks by Jeremy Scott and J.W.Anderson

From Left: Red Morning, Sebastian and Trailhead all work by Alison Elizabeth Taylor

The second artist in my three-part lead up to Wednesday’s Brooklyn Artist Ball is Alison Elizabeth Taylor. Alison, like Njideka Akunyilli, is designing a table for the evening inspired by the “encyclopedic collection of the Brooklyn Museum.” She will be, “Riffing on various artworks, by abstracting details and fragments into minimal contours and forms.” Then, incorporating her trademark style, she will, “recreate them in marquetry, a medium that usually appears in a museum as a decorative flourish on a princely piece of furniture, in this installation it will be used to interpret a variety of works from many different cultures and eras into a common visual language.” Her admiration for the diversity of the museum’s collection is evident in her well thought-out design and inclusion of others’ works as part of her own.

Oftentimes the most refreshing, forward thinking designs have classical elements – take the fashion world’s revisiting of the single-sole pump, longer hemlines and a more tailored take on feminism; i.e. The New Look-esque construction as shown by Raf Simons at Dior. Just as Ms.Taylor’s use of a classic technique like marquetry helps in creating a unified vision across each of her projects, there are designers who utilize classics season after season to produce a collection that ultimately looks modern and fresh. For fall 2013 Belstaff, The Row and Hermès all utilized classic construction and shapes to produce collections that felt remarkable modern.

First, Belstaff has resurrected their four-pocket jacket in a big way, showing that the classic design has universal appeal for both men and women. Their fall 2013 show was all about elevating staples through texture, color and minute modifications.

Belstaff Fall/Winter 2013

Although The Row hasn’t yet amassed an archive similar in scale Belstaff, Mary-Kate and Ashley utilized the same classic tailoring techniques that their clothes will undoubtedly inspire a few years down the line. They challenged themselves in construction of common shapes like the blazer as well as Asian-inspired cuts that have found their way into their collections the past few seasons.

The Row Fall/Winter 2013

Lastly, Hèrmes – one of my favorite Fall/Winter 2013 shows – a house that specializes leather goods, utilized their trademark skin in every possible way on the runway. Hèrmes designer Christophe Lemaire looked to the brand’s history as masters of cut and craftsmanship to put out one of the most modern looking collections of the Fall/Winter 2013 season.

Hermès Fall/Winter 2013

Work by Njideka Akunyili

The first participating artist in my three-part table series leading up to the Brooklyn Artist Ball is Njideka Akunyili.

I was initially attracted to Njideka’s work because of its collage-like imagery. Her ability to mix patterns and images all while putting a strong focus on a single color-way gives her work an added dimension. Her creative process is an extensive one, often, “Beginning each piece from one of such varied points of inspiration, [she] approaches different facets of themes [she] has been investigating for several years. Next, [she] does multiple initial sketches to plan the overall compositional shapes, rhythm, value and colors of the piece.”

The most defining characteristic of her work is, “The synergy between its form and content. [She] transfers photographic images of Nigeria into larger painted compositions in order to create a space that fluctuates between traditional Western perspectival illusion and a flat picture plane. This flux recapitulates the phenomenon of syncretism and the people who live in this third space of constant negotiation and fluidity.”

Her tremendous support of the Brooklyn Museum is evident through her involvement in the event and the high praises she gives the art institution. In her words, “It is a museum that has something for everyone and speaks to the diversity of Brooklyn, as evidenced by its exhibition Connecting Cultures: A World in Brooklyn. The museum does a laudable job of engaging and celebrating Brooklyn artists through the Raw/Cooked program, the recent Go Brooklyn open studios and the Artist Ball.” The constant mix of iconic pieces by both young and established artists is the perfect compliment to Njideka’s continuous efforts to incorporate elements that are both old and new into her work.

Like the very museum she is honoring next Wednesday, Njideka’s table design for the evening blurs the line between the past and present while breaking down cultural boundaries. Her table, Compound Transplant, “Was inspired by a striking display of plastic containers for sale along the side of a highway in Eastern Nigeria [… and] evokes themes of cultural fluidity and globalization by restaging features characteristic of Nigerian houses and roadside retail stalls.”

Immediately upon seeing Njideka’s work, two fall 2013 collections came to mind – Junya Watanabe and Givenchy. First, Junya Watanabe’s on account of his always effortless mix of contrasting patterns and textures. Both Akunyili and Watanabe play with layering – Junya on the body and Njideka on a canvas – and often counterbalance extensive use of patterns with bold, bright, solid colors.

Junya Watanabe Fall/Winter 2013

Work by Njideka Akunyili

Junya Watanabe Fall/Winter 2013

Of Njideka’s work featured, I am most drawn to those that bare monochromatic qualities. Her two paintings below – one primarily red and one yellow – resemble two of the color stories Ricardo Tisci played with for fall. Both sets of looks and Njideka’s paintings get a majority of their depth through the mixing of complex patterns and a strong focus on a single color way. Can’t wait to see which runway looks are perfect compliments to her table design come Wednesday!

Work by Njideka Akunyili

Givenchy Fall/Winter 2013

Work by Njideka Akunyili

Givenchy Fall/Winter 2013

Brooklyn Artists Ball from GuyManly on Vimeo.

I am so excited to announce that I am on the host committee for this year’s Brooklyn Artists Ball After-Party. The event is only one week away – on April 24th – and the New York art community is buzzing with excitement.

Not only has the Brooklyn Museum exhibited some of today’s most established artists, their position as a driving force in the Brooklyn art world keeps them constantly searching for the new and the next. This mentality attracts an exceptionally creative group of artists and art lovers alike, all of whom will be together next Wednesday evening for a night of celebration.

This year, the party will pay homage to both the established and the new, recognizing three acclaimed contemporary artists – Vik Muniz, Wangechi Mutu and Roxy Paine – as well as countless others who are producing original work for the evening.

In addition to an installation by the amazing Luis Gispert (whose work I previously featured here) artists are also contributing to the evening’s ambiance through custom table designs. I was lucky enough to speak with a few of the participating artists – more to come this week – about their work, why the Brooklyn Museum is important to them and the inspiration behind the look of their tables.

Tickets for both the dinner and after-party are selling fast so if you haven’t purchased tickets yet be sure to click here.

There are so many interesting, talented people involved and attending the event that it is sure to be an amazing night. Hope to see everyone there!

A Bigger Splash, 1967 by David Hockney

Just as the weather is warming up leave it to Daphne Guinness to bring the water that one typically finds at the beach or pool into a studio. Last week as the city was getting progressively hotter instgram was on fire with the latest collaboration between Ms. Guinness and photographer Nick Knight.

Splash! by Daphne Guinness, Nick Knight and Iris Van Herpen

The two played with the concept of water, transforming the liquid into a solid with the help of designer Iris Van Herpen. For this project, Knight began by photographing the fashion icon as she was being splashed with black and clear water. The resulting images were then passed on to Van Herpen to reference and bring the liquid to life in dress form.

Splash! by Daphne Guinness, Nick Knight and Iris Van Herpen

In an effort to make sense to one of the world’s most unpredictable elements, the three joined forces in a project they are calling Splash! Following the initial studio session and the completion of the garment, Knight will shoot Guinness wearing the water-dress, which will then be on display at SHOWcabinet starting in June, and the project will come to a final culmination this fall at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. For more information regarding Splash! click here.

Splash! by Daphne Guinness, Nick Knight and Iris Van Herpen

Bergdorf Goodman is the epitome of luxury, located on one of the busiest blocks in New York City and most iconic corners of any city in the world. When I was a young girl the first thing I would make my mom do each visit to New York was take me over to Bergdorf’s to see what the fantastical window displays had in store. Like the always-ornate windows sprawling the 5th Avenue storefront, Bergdorf’s is more than just about fashion. From a shopper’s perspective, no other retailer in New York, let alone the world, provides the same experience as one gets at Bergdorf Goodman. As a retailer, BG transports shoppers to a fashion wonderland that doesn’t feel like a store; take the homey-vibe of the second floor shoe salon or the BG restaurant on 7 that seems like a mere extension of your own dining room. Luckily, the retail powerhouse is now moving from its trademark location of the past 111 years and onto the big screen.

Iris Apfel in Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s

Karl Lagerfeld in Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s

Filmmaker Matthew Miele has been working on the documentary – appropriately entitled, Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s – for over two years. Over the course of several months Miele interviewed everyone from fashion legends such as Iris Apfel to actors, socialites and countless of Bergdorf’s top vendors – from established, international fashion gods like Karl Lagerfeld and Giorgio Armani to members of New York’s new guard such as Thakoon, the Proenza boys and the Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. I saw a rough cut of the film in September but after six additional months of editing the completed piece is finally coming to New York theatres on May 3rd.

Thakoon in Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s

Jack and Lazaro of Proenza Schouler in Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s

My favorite storyline of the film has to be the piece centered around one of Bergdorf’s unstoppable forces who is fairly unknown by the public – senior director of visual presentation, David Hoey. Matthew was lucky enough to get full access to Hoey and his creative team as they spent months designing and prepping the install of Bergdorf’s 2011 Holiday Windows – dubbed Carnival of Animals. There is nothing like the day right around Thanksgiving when the purple curtains come down and the windows are revealed. Crowds of people gather all day in the freezing cold to get a glimpse of each window’s opulence. The excitement transports me back to my childhood when I would make visits to store and not even go inside. There is no doubt a similarly enthusiastic crowed will be gathered around theatres come the film’s release in less than one month!

Bergdorf Goodman 2011 Holiday Windows

Bergdorf Goodman 2011 Holiday Windows

My Bed by Tracey Emin

Does anyone even wear pajamas to sleep anymore? It seems the lightweight nightwear has moved up in the clothing hierarchy and earned top honors in recent seasons as acceptable street-wear. While the trend has been in existence for a few years now, fall ’13 showed little backing down. In New York, PJs exploded over the runway at Marc Jacobs from shirts and shorts, to pants and dresses.

Marc Jacobs Fall/Winter 2013

In Paris, Marc showed an equally bedroom-wear-inspired collection at Louis Vuitton. Looking back at the past four years of Vuitton runways, Jacobs showed PJ-pants for spring/summer 2009, an entire oriental-inspired look for spring/summer 2011 and a blue two-piece ensemble in LV’s trademark cheetah print for resort 2012.

Louis Vuitton Spring/Summer 2009, Spring/Summer 2011, 2012 Resort and Fall/Winter 2013

Jacobs seems to be such a fan of the casual everyday-wear that he himself spent fashion month in the comfy separates – gone are the days of his trademark kilt, 2013 is the year of Pajamas.

Marc Jacobs at Marc Jacobs, Marc by Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton, all Fall/Winter 2013

Rochas Fall/Winter 2013

Marc Jacobs – as the designer and the man – isn’t the only one embracing casual. Marco Zanini included four PJ looks in his fall 2013 collection for Rochas while last fall Pucci’s Peter Dundas also showed pajamas under more formal outerwear.

Emilio Pucci Fall/Winter 2012

Looking back at 2012, the queens of cool, Pheobe Philio and Stella McCartney, showed nightwear turned daywear for Céline resort and Stella spring/summer, respectively.

From left: Céline 2012 Resort and Stella McCartney Spring/Summer 2012

Lastly, on the topic of pajamas, who could forget spring/summer 2009 Dolce & Gabbana where ever model seemed to be wearing something silk and patterned with contrast piping.

Dolce & Gabbana Spring/Summer 2009

If Jacobs’ decision to sport nightwear for all three of his fall/winter 2013 bows has any connection to his personal Mickey Mouse T at his spring/summer 2007 show and subsequent Mickey shirt for Marc Jacobs spring/summer 2013 (pictured below), prepare to see plenty of more pajama dressing on the Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton runways in the years to come.

From Left: Marc Jacobs Spring/Summer 2007 and Spring/Summer 2013

Spring/Summer 2013 runway looks by Tom Ford, Gucci and Stella McCartney

The color that many recognize as cobalt is known formally in the art community as IKB (International Klein Blue) developed by French painter, Yves Klein. Klein first mixed the color, made up primarily of the blue pigment Ultramarine, at the start of his career and registered the unique shade as IKB in 1960. The color covered everything from sculptures and furniture to women’s bodies – Klein would often paint a female’s torso and lay them directly on his canvases (pictured below). Unfortunately, his time as a working artist was cut feverishly short due to a string of heart attacks in 1962, but nevertheless, his work made enough of a cultural impact in a few short years that the term IKB is still used today.

Yves Klein at work

Painting by Yves Klein

This season, the spring 2013 runways from New York to Paris saw pops of Klein’s iconic color. Beginning in New York, Joseph Altuzarra showed pieces accented with rich blue fabric while in London, Tom Ford used the same hue for two looks in his women’s presentation as did Antonio Berardi. In Milan, Gucci sent a collection of monochromatic looks down the runway, two of which were head-to-toe IKB. Finally in Paris, designers from Stella McCartney to Hermes and Elie Saab featured the iconic shade in their collections for spring.

Altuzarra – Spring/Summer 2013

Antonio Berardi – Spring/Summer 2013

Hermes – Spring/Summer 2013

Elie Saab – Spring/Summer 2013

The color made such a statement on the runway that Gucci even shot the two monochromatic IKB looks for their spring 2013 ad campaign. No woman can resist Klein.

Gucci Spring/Summer 2013 Campaign

Gucci Spring/Summer 2013 Campaign

From Left: Vogue cover by Salvador Dali, photograph by Louise Dahl-Wolfe and Elle Fanning photographed by Will Cotton

Collectively, both the fashion and art worlds are about the new and the next. When artists and designers show work that is considered groundbreaking by modern day standards, the question is, is it truly something that either industry hasn’t seen before? Looking at the most recent Paris collections from a beauty standpoint, the hair at Givenchy (pictured below) immediately caught my eye. The helmet-like ringlets compressed to the models’ heads and then spray-painted was a fresh take on beauty that could only be the product of an innovative mind like Ricardo Tisci. As I took a closer look at the backstage shots, the hair began looking more and more like dried, shriveled up flowers. Seeing, instead, a bouquet atop each head took me back to the golden age of magazine covers.

Right around the time of the Second World War and during the heyday of Surrealism, Salavdor Dali was accepted as a great talent not only in the art community but the fashion world. In addition to his close relationship with designer Elsa Schiaparelli and his collection of surrealist jewels (previously featured here), he guest edited a few, select issues of Vogue. His art appeared on covers, including the June 1939 issue (above, left), which depicts a woman jumping rope in the background and a girl sitting with a flower bouquet for a head in the foreground.

Fast-forward to the iconic Louise Dahl Wolfe photograph of Ivy Nicholson on the April 1958 cover of Harper’s Bazaar (above, center) featuring Nicholson with a flower-like helmet. This image was clearly inspired by Dali’s cover and subsequently influenced countless fashion photographs in the later years; most recently, Elle Fanning’s cover of New York Magazine’s Spring 2013 fashion issue, photographed by Will Cotton (above, right).

Givenchy Fall/Winter 2013

In addition to the photograph’s influence on Givenchy’s fall show, these same flower-like ringlets also made their way onto the McQueen runway, under Sarah Burton’s ornate crowns (pictured below).

Alexander McQueen FW 2013

This wasn’t, however, the first time the celebrated Dahl-Wolfe photo has been referenced, who could forget John Galliano’s floral-inspired penultimate couture collection for Christian Dior. For fall/winter 2010 Galliano sent floral looks down the runway, accompanied by petal-inspired hairpieces (pictured below), a subtle ode to Dahl-Wolfe.

Christian Dior Fall/Winter 2010 Couture

Similarly, in Karl Lagerfeld’s spring/summer 2009 Chanel couture show (previously referenced here, pictured below), models wore paper flowers atop their heads, morphing from delicate tiaras into floral hats and a flower helmet – worn by Feja, Karl’s bride for the season, in place of a veil.

Chanel Fall/Winter 2009

Lastly, milliner Philip Treacy took a cue from Dahl-Wolfe and created a floral helmet (pictured below), which was most recently worn by Lady Gaga (for a bit of pop culture).

Lady Gaga in Philip Treacy

Marc Jacobs Fall/Winter 2013

Before I attempt to address some of the fall/winter 2013 fashions shown over the past month, there was one exciting trend that literally shined brighter – in Marc Jacob’s case – than the clothing on the runway. From Rodarte and Marc in New York, to Christian Dior and Chanel in Paris, fashion designers turned to art as the backdrop for their latest collections.

Kate and Laura’s Fall/Winter 2013 collection for Rodarte was my favorite of their’s to date. In addition to the perfectly layered looks and barbed wire accessories, their runway was scattered with Dan Flavin-esque light sculptures, the ideal compliments to a clean yet edgy show.

Rodarte Fall/Winter 2013

Dan Flavin

Marc Jacobs closed New York fashion week this season at the Lexington Avenue Armory with a groundbreaking collection, per usual, and an even more unbelievable backdrop. Marc took a cue from Danish artist Olafur Eliasson’s 2003 installation, The Weather Project, at London’s Tate Modern. Eliasson took over Turbine Hall at the Tate and installed a radiating yellow sun-like disk. In turn, Marc showed on a round runway amidst a yellow, glowing circular backdrop. The perfect sunset to the New York shows.

Marc Jacobs Fall/Winter 2013

Olafur Eliasson

For Raf Simons’ second ready-to-wear collection for Christian Dior he drew inspiration from Andy Warhol’s fashion illustrations and devised a setting to compliment the delicately painted runway looks. Simons transformed the show’s backdrop with large shiny spheres similar to the legendary silver clouds that filled Warhol’s ever-famous factory.

Christian Dior Fall/Winter 2013

Andy Warhol’s Factory

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Coco Chanel’s first boutique and Karl’s 30th year designing for the house, Mr.Lagerfeld went global. The spinning sphere amidst the Grand Palais was covered in Chanel flags, each signifying a modern-day Chanel boutique or retailer. While the globe may not have been directly linked to the work of photographer Andres Gursky, it brought me back to the ocean images in Gursky’s Satellite Series that were shown at Gagosian New York in the fall of 2011.

Chanel Fall/Winter 2013

Andres Gursky

Andres Gursky