Miu Miu Spring/Summer 2011 and Roy Lichtenstein’s Wall Explosion II, 1965

While the spring/summer 2014 fashion season is well underway, nothing shown thus far is sure to stick in consumers’ minds for the next six months until the collections are available for purchase.

For fall 2013, top honors went to Tom Ford’s explosive appliqués that, regardless of their commercial appeal, made quite the impact. The buzz surrounding Mr.Ford’s fall collection could have been in part due to it being his first full-scale runway show since his return to womenswear, however his designs impressed nonetheless. The evening looks, complete with Lichtenstein-eque explosions, are featured in the Tom Ford fall ad campaign and have graced the pages of countless high fashion editorials since their runway debut. Looking back, it was Miuccia Prada who used a similar in-your-face approach to ready-to-wear for spring/summer 2011 with her firecracker leather skirts and jackets at Miu Miu (pictured above).

Tom Ford Fall/Winter 2013 Advertisement

Soon after, Phillip Lim made an even more obvious ode to Lichtenstein for pre-fall 2012, mimicking the pop artist’s famous style similar to how Spanish pop art team, Equipo Cronica, has done in the past.

3.1 Phillip Lim Pre-Fall 2012 and Equipo Cronica’s Guernica, 1971

Chanel Fall/Winter 2009 Couture

For fall/winter 2009 couture, Karl Lagerfeld took a more abstract approach to fireworks and explosions at Chanel. Two standout looks from the collection bared striking similarities to the works by artists Wassily Kandinsky and Robert Delaunay; entitled Squares with Concentric Circles, 1913, and Le Premier Disque, 134 cm, 52.7 inches, 1912-13, respectively.

Left: Squares with Concentric Circles, 1913 by Wassily Kandinsky and Right: Le Premier Disque, 134 cm, 52.7 inches, 1912-13 by Robert Delaunay

Lastly, no reference to explosive fashion would be complete without mentioning Christopher Kane’s 2010 resort collection. The atomic bomb dresses and separates were unforgettable and almost identical to images in Robert Longo’s series of charcoal, bomb drawings, The Sickness of Reason.

No matter what the season – fall, resort, spring or pre-fall – ready-to-wear or couture, designers are more than capable of making an impact. Now it is your turn spring/summer 2014, wow us.

Christopher Kane Resort 2010 and Atomic Bomb charcoal drawing by Robert Longo

Alexander McQueen FW 2012 ready-to-wear and Giambattista Valli FW 2013 Couture

Is imitation truly the highest form of flattery? Or is it merely a lack of originality? Another couture season has come and gone, this time, with countless designers referencing their contemporaries in a big way. It wasn’t a pattern here or appliqué there, however many houses took direct inspiration from the past, similar to how Joseph Altuzarra famously paid homage to Tom Ford’s fall/winter 2003 ready-to-wear Gucci show for fall/winter 2010. Looking at this most recent couture season, Raf Simons’ global collection for Dior showed a few undeniable similarities to Pheobe Philo’s FW 2012 collection for Céline while Giambattista Valli also looked to FW ’12 and mimicked much of what Sarah Burton showed that season at Alexander McQueen. The first show of the week, Versace, relied on classic underpinnings to serve as the basis on a majority of the looks much like Jason Wu did for spring/summer 2013 and this season, Jean Paul Gaultier sent his bride down in the runway in a gown almost identical to the final few looks in Viktor & Rolf’s spring/summer 2011 show. Similarly, the Dutch duo made subtle references to past collections by the equally avant-garde Rei Kawakubo for their premier couture presentation. Seeing as how this season marked the return of the house of Schiaparelli, maybe designers took that as their cue to make this couture season all about taking something old and making it new again.

Céline FW 2012 ready-to-wear and Christian Dior FW 2013 Couture

Céline FW 2012 ready-to-wear and Christian Dior FW 2013 Couture

Alexander McQueen FW 2012 ready-to-wear and Giambattista Valli FW 2013 Couture

Alexander McQueen FW 2012 ready-to-wear and Giambattista Valli FW 2013 Couture

Viktor & Rolf SS 2011 ready-to-wear and Jean Paul Gaultier FW 2013 Couture

Jason Wu SS 2013 ready-to-wear and Versace FW 2013 Couture

Comme des Garçons FW 2010 ready-to-wear and Viktor & Rolf FW 2013 Couture

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

I Spy Mike Kelley
Memory Ware Flats by Mike Kelley

I was recently introduced to the series, Memory Ware Flats by the late artist Mike Kelley. Kelley’s installations – which were frequently compromised of stuffed animals and other toys – often, feel very whimsical in nature. This particular body of work, which he began in 2000, reminds me so much of one of my favorite books as a child, I Spy. The series is about re-examination and re-use of everyday objects that people otherwise cast aside. Each ‘paining’ is comprised of tiny household trinkets that come together to make a larger overall statement. From a far the canvas may not look like much, but as you get closer more intricacies begin to appear, much like the tiny dots that make up Seurat’s masterpiece, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.

This idea is very similar in nature to the art of couture. If I learned anything from attending last week’s shows it is that pictures do little justice. Just when a dress appears to be a print, up close you find that rather than fabric the entire look is made up of individual sequins. Or, as was the case at Valentino, there could be tiny butterflies stitched beneath layers upon layers of tulle. In both art and fashion work comes along that is so intricate where just when you think you have seen everything in a piece, you find something new and exciting to explore.

I Spy Mike Kelley
Memory Ware Flats by Mike Kelley

I Spy Mike Kelley
Memory Ware Flats by Mike Kelley

I Spy Mike Kelley
Memory Ware Flats by Mike Kelley

The Women - Valérie Belin
Têtes Couronnées 2009, Black Eyed Susan 2010, Untitled 2007 – all work by Valéie Belin

Lately, I have been on an old Hollywood kick and most intrigued and inspired by the film The Women. Not only was an all female cast madly innovative for its time – 1939 – however the fashion was some of costume designer Adrian’s best work while at MGM.

The Women - Adrian Sketches
Adrian Sketches

The Technicolor fashion show sequence in the film highlights his designs better than any other motion picture. His clothing stood alone, not only giving new life to the characters, however propelling the story forward in a way that fashion is no longer used for in films; proving why to this day Adrian’s role in the history of cinema is unmatched. While his legacy merely lives on through his films, his designs have both stood the test of time and serve as a constant source of inspiration for modern day influencers; in fact, a friend once told me that Azzedine Alaia has the largest privately owned collection of Adrian gowns.

The Women - The Cast
From Left: Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer and Rosalind Russell

The storyline of The Women was incredibly provocative for the time with three very empowered female leads – Mary, played by Norma Shearer; Sylvia, played by Rosalind Russell; and Crystal, played by Joan Crawford. Each character’s persona reminds me of a different body of work by female photographer, Valérie Belin.

The Women - Valérie Belin, Têtes Couronnées 2009
Têtes Couronnées 2009, Copyright © Valérie Belin

Belin’s soft, somewhat blurry images in Têtes Couronnées 2009 (pictured above) represent Mary. Mary is a member of the wealthy, aristocratic class who looses her husband in an affair.

The Women - Valérie Belin, Black Eyed Susan 2010
Black Eyed Susan 2010 Copyright © Valérie Belin

Sylvia, Mary’s cousin, is an unrelenting gossip and always the instigator. She is a member of the upper class but has two sides to her, just like the double exposure of Belin’s images in Black Eyed Susan 2010 (pictured above). She hides behind a flowery exterior while causing havoc.

The Women - Valérie Belin, Untitled 2007
Untitled 2007 – Copyright © Valérie Belin

Lastly, Crystal is responsible for destruction. She is out of place amidst high society, while her passive, seductive attitude gets her noticed by men and loathed by women. She is the provocative women who every husband wants, like those photographed in Belin’s series Untitled 2007 (pictured above)

Hat Hair - Jean Paul Gaultier Fall/Winter 2006 Couture
Jean Paul Gaultier Fall/Winter 2006

I am always awestruck looking back at the hair and makeup in Jean Paul Gaultier runway shows. Between the hair top hats from Fall/Winter 2006 couture or the hair crowns that adorned a few lucky models’ heads walking in Gaultier’s Fall/Winter 2007 couture show, nothing screams couture quite like a custom hat or crown of hair.

Hat Hair - Jean Paul Gaultier Fall/Winter 2007 Couture
Jean Paul Gaultier Fall/Winter 2007

Similarly, late Japanese pop artist Nagi Noda was made famous by her hair sculpture hats. The unisex headpieces were most notably featured in her AMAZING Poodle Workout Video and then in multiple collaborations thereafter. Noda’s animal hair hats is her most famous series, including a lion, bear, birds and a dog among many others.

Hat Hair - Nagi Noda
Hair by Nagi Noda

Hat Hair - Nagi Noda
Hair by Nagi Noda

Whether you wear a crown atop your head or are eating a bowl of hair spaghetti Nagi Noda-style, no one likes frizz. Luckily, Paul Mitchell’s Ultimate Wave Gel Cream (pictured below) is here for your hair’s every need. Beachy waves are no longer solely for the summer months but can now be achieved during the driest winter days thanks to a great product. There is nothing better than a head of texture-filled frizz-free hair all year round. Once you use Paul Mitchell’s Ultimate Wave Cream-Gel to achieve summer-like waves sans the beach it is time to go social. Submit a pic of your Curl Confession on facebook HERE or to twitter using the hashtag #curlconfession.

Hat Hair - Ultimate Wave

The Art of... Paper - Gucci Cut and Craft
Gucci Cut & Craft Project – The Jackie, The New Bamboo and The Stirrup

This past summer Gucci decided to ‘go-green’ in the windows of their New York City Flagship store on 5th avenue. On display were three of their most iconic handbags – The Jackie, The New Bamboo and The Stirrup – in massive form made entirely out of recycled paper (pictured below). This window display garnered so much attention that Gucci launched a Cut & Craft contest on their Facebook Page. I was so intrigued by this project that I had to have a go at it. Gucci provides the stencils for these three iconic styles leaving it up to the individuals to color and construct. I, however, couldn’t find my crayons so I decided to dedicate each bag to a different artist and use their work as the foundation for each mini purse (pictured above). The Jackie (far left) is constructed using Andy Warhol’s camouflage prints, The New Bamboo (middle), is made of patterns by Ellsworth Kelly and The Stirrup (far right) is the work of Chicago-based artist, Dzine. Click HERE to fashion your own minis and a chance to win a spot on the cover of the Gucci Facebook page.

The Art of... Paper - Gucci Flagship
Gucci Flagship Store, New York City

Gucci isn’t the only fashion house exploring the art of paper, however. One of John Galliano’s most celebrated collections while at the House of Dior was for spring/summer 2007 couture, in which he was inspired by origami, the art of paper folding. Just a few seasons later, Karl Lagerfeld constructed an oasis of paper flowers as the backdrop for his spring/summer 2009 Chanel couture show. Each look in the entirely black and white collection was paired with a paper headpiece, ranging from delicate tiaras to a helmet of paper flower petals (pictured below).

The Art of... Paper - SS09 Chanel Couture
Spring/summer 2009 Chanel Couture

Marc Jacobs is known for providing an ever-present bridge between art and fashion. In this instance, that bridge happens to be made of paper and was part of the fantastical set artist Rachel Feinstein dreamed up for Jacobs’ fall/winter 2012 show. Feinstein collaborated with the designer on the dreary, Tim Burton-esque set (pictured below) made entirely out of construction paper as the backdrop for his fall, Anna Piaggi-inspired collection.

The Art of... Paper - Marc Jacobs FW12
Fall/winter 2012 Marc Jacobs

Photographer and sculptor Thomas Demand is a pioneer in exposing the art of paper. Demand’s photographs (pictured below) are merely the byproducts of weeks spent constructing full-scale sets out of paper and cardboard. His work is extraordinary; especially considering the life-size environments he erects are immediately destroyed after a photo is captured. In the right hands, paper has the power to transform. Now that I’ve completed the Gucci bags it’s time to start work on my dream setting…

The Art of... Paper - Thomas Demand, Studio, 1997
Studio, 1997 © Thomas Demand

The Art of... Paper - Thomas Demand, Control Room, 2011
Control Room, 2011 © Thomas Demand

The Art of... Paper - Thomas Demand, Junior Suite, 2012
Junior Suite, 2012 © Thomas Demand

The Struth Effect
Givenchy SS11 Couture

I love how Riccardo Tisci shows Givenchy Couture because Couture is an art that should be an intimate experience. Tisci first made the changeover from a traditional runway show to showing presentation-style for his fall 2010 collection. Each subsequent Couture collection has been shown in the same format and as the clothes get more exquisite each season so does how the collection is photographed. Nothing gets my heart racing quite like clicking through the front and back views of the tenth look of the presentation in anticipation of the concluding ‘family portrait’. Each season I find further similarities between this final portrait and the work of German photographer Thomas Struth.

Struth’s work is vast. He is best known for his museum photographs, in addition to his jungle series, cityscapes and family portraits. Each Givenchy Couture collection since fall 2010 has had a different hint of Struth; most notably, for fall 2012 Tisci staged the shoot with a Struth-like jungle backdrop. Now, after shooting portraits for the Queen of England and artist Gerhard Richter, it is about time for Struth to photograph a family all outfitted in straight-off-the-‘runway’ Givenchy Couture.

The Hirose Family, Hiroshima 1987 © Thomas Struth
The Hirose Family, Hiroshima 1987 © Thomas Struth

The Struth Effect
Givenchy FW10 Couture

Milan Cathedral, Milan 1998 © Thomas Struth
Milan Cathedral, Milan 1998 by © Thomas Struth

The Struth Effect
Givenchy FW11 Couture

Pergamon Museum 3, Berlin 2001 © Thomas Struth
Pergamon Museum 3, Berlin 2001 by © Thomas Struth

The Struth Effect
Givenchy FW12 Couture

Paradise 27, Rio Madre de Dios, Peru 2005 © Thomas Struth
Paradise 27, Rio Madre de Dios, Peru 2005 by © Thomas Struth