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

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

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

Thomas Struth at Golan Heights, Israel 2011, © Dan Hirsch
Thomas Struth at Golan Heights, Israel 2011, © Dan Hirsch

Two weeks ago I had the unbelievably exciting opportunity to interview world famous photographer, Thomas Struth. Ever since developing a curiosity spanning outside of the fashion industry and into art, I can remember admiring Mr.Struth’s work. He has amassed quite the portfolio since the start of his career over thirty years ago. After dabbling in the arts and studying painting under artist Gerhard Richter, Mr.Struth turned to photography. In the late 70s he began photographing cityscapes around the world, but his interests soon expanded, leading to the start of his Family Portrait series. As mentioned below, his portraits are an ever-growing body of work, in contrast to his Museum Photographs, his most celebrated series, and one of his latest projects, Nature and Politics.

You may remember, HERE, when I compared Mr.Struth’s family portraits to the portraits shot at the end of Givenchy Couture each season. Although he is a photographer at heart, I was eager to discuss the role that fashion plays in his existing bodies of work. Our conversation, transcribed below, was an exciting opportunity for me to learn more about his career and philosophy behind photography. Since speaking, I have grown an even greater admiration towards both Thomas Struth as an artist and his work as its own entity.

Minnie Muse: How does your background in painting effect how you photograph?
Thomas Struth: Studying the history of painting taught me that pictures are constructed. Every element in the picture lets us reach an overall balance and an overall dynamic of information. You know when you take away an element all the other elements change, as well; I think that just made me very aware of how pictures are constructed.

MM: How do you choose the families photographed in your portraits?
TS: Family Portraits is a very small, still developing body of work. I never reach out so much to find families, I live my life and occasionally there is a new family or new people who I find interesting. The number of family portraits grows exponentially much slower than, for example, when I was working on streets, or the museum pictures, that was much more proactive. Sometimes, on occasion, I will make a photograph of a family who asks me, but that is very rare. I will only do that when I think there is something interesting or I see in that family something that somewhat touches me.

MM: What if you could photograph any family in history?
TS: I’ve never thought about things like that, I am not so good with famous people. Normally, photographing very well known people, it is very problematic, and when I got this request to take a photo of the queen, I thought I just could not say no, I might have been a coward in a way.

MM: You have photographed countless urban spaces, what made you want to explore a rural environment, like the jungle?
TS: Well, when you make pictures one thing is the dynamic and the reasoning of what leads you to make the picture, but once the picture is made, then the question is, what do you do with it? You study and observe what the reaction is with the picture. With the paradise photographs, the idea was that I wanted to make the pictorial structure very complex and detailed, where the observer could not ever completely see every detail and so the observer would be forced to lose himself or herself in the observation. I thought the most obvious object to do that would be forest, and then I thought that to do the forest would maybe be too easy because you have the sort of vertical stance. Then I thought maybe the jungle would be the best because of the very dense complexity of structure. I think in the end the effect that these pictures have is so evident and yet the structure is so complex that usually they make the observer very calm.

MM: How do you choose which paintings to photograph people observing in your museum series?
TS: This is all limited, or mostly limited to the figurative work, because that is the only kind of painting with the doubling effect, the situation of figures in the painting and the situation of figures in front of the painting. I select quite intuitively the pictures, the paintings that I like a lot. When I started at the Louvre I looked at Delacroix because I love Delacroix’s work, but then I found it too evident or too obvious. For example, Death of Sardanapalus (1927) is a vertical painting with a big bed and two naked women and a kind of a pale looking man, it is a fantastic painting but it would have been too obvious in a photograph, so I picked Théodore Géricault’s Raft of the Medusa (1819) because it makes for a more interesting combination.

MM: Does anyone style your portraits?
TS: I almost never interfere with what people wear in the family portraits, except when there is a certain pattern in a t-shirt or dress that I know will be visually too magnetic to an unjustified degree. For example, if someone were to wear a Burberry-style pattern, something that would be visually attractive for the eye but had nothing to do with the dynamic of the family, eventually I would say, maybe you can change into something else. But I would say 95% of the time I did not do that, I just left everything how it was.

MM: What role does fashion play in your photographs?
TS: For fashion I am interested in messages, in subject matter that is timeless. For example, in my street photographs, in my early ones, you see that all these cars are from the late 70s, so they don’t exist anymore, but in clothing, it is a bit less dramatic, even though in fifty years when you look at the family portraits people might dress differently, one day you will see it.

Windowed

After spending the weekend in Chicago for Lollapalooza it was nice to return home from a hiatus to find my feature up on Barney’s blog The Window. It was such fun being able to contribute to one of my favorite blogs. Click here to access the full feature, and here to shop all my fall favorites and more on Barneys.com!

Sexposed

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Film by Nicolas Guevara

The short film above was the product of a very spontaneous idea my friend Nico and I had one night when discussing how we would contribute to NYU’s Gallatin School’s fashion show. The event took place on February 1, 2012, and this year’s theme was gender in the fashion industry. Rather than designing looks for the evening’s runway show, which unfortunately is neither of our talents, we chose to make a short film interviewing industry professionals discussing the role of gender in the art world and fashion industry. We were so lucky to have gotten the chance to speak with such amazing leaders in their respective fields. A big thank you to Eddie Borgo, Chadwick Bell, Keegan Singh, Roxanne Lowit, Eric Fischl, Andrew Bolton, and Julius Poole for their participation. Check out the piece above.

The finale of my Kérastase trilogy has finally arrived. Thakoon was the third show I covered backstage for Kérastse at New York Fashion Week. The inspiration behind the collection was Audrey Hepburn, and to compliment the clothes Thakoon worked with hair guru Odile Gilbert to create a look that was both polished and elegant, with a bit of an edge. Odile crafted very sculptural hair made up of a small chignon with a sharp, asymmetrical part. To achieve this look, the Kérastase experts used Volumactive Mousse and, everyones favorite, Double Force Hair Spray. All you need are a few Kérastase products and you can look like a FW12 Thakoon girl even before the collection hits stores.

Dubbel Duffel x Opening Ceremony

The story of the Dubbel Duffel’s revival is truly a modern day fashion fairy tale; but instead, the lucky young girl happens to be a man, China Young, and the fairy godmother is the über chic Huberto Leon, co-founder of Opening Ceremony and creative director of Kenzo. The saga goes as follows… On one fine summer day in 2011 China was doing some innocent thrift store shopping in the magical land of Brooklyn, New York, when he stumbled upon gold in the form of a 1976 nylon duffel bag (another detail that I can’t recall being in any Disney classics).

“What is this?” he thought, “I must investigate”.

To China’s surprise this sturdy nylon satchel was not just one bag, but two! Eager about his find, China purchased the mysterious piece of luggage and took it over the bridge and through the woods, but instead of heading to grandmothers house, he ended up at Opening Ceremony, where young New Yorkers go to find salvation.

As a man trained in the craft of luggage, China used to work for LeSportSac, he knew his new investment was a special one. Huberto, a longtime friend of China’s and nurturer of everything retro, was enthusiastic about reviving an old classic. With some research, China found that just a few years after its inception, Dubbel Duffel had been cast away by its evil stepsisters and left abandoned to fend for itself. Lucky, help was on the way for the lifeless product. China and Huberto worked together to restore the brand and make it practical by today’s standards.

The magical men worked with factories and pattern makers alike to reengineer the forgotten bag. The resulting fabric is an indestructible twill nylon blend that comes in four colors: purple, red, navy and black. The bag’s multipurpose make allows for it to expand to double its capacity. The two sizes available in the premier collection are medium and large, serving as the solution to unisex travel. The medium style converts from a duffel into both a backpack and a messenger bag, while the large morphs effortlessly from a standard duffel to a large messenger.

The Dubbel Duffel is the epitome of a modern classic. Since its resurrection that bag’s first season was picked up exclusively by Opening Ceremony and a full line is set to launch next fall… And they all lived happily ever after in their new homes.

Dubbel Duffel x Opening Ceremony

Dubbel Duffel’s are sold exclusively at Opening Ceremony stores and online.
Click here to buy one, NOW, and show all your friends. They’ll think its magic or something!

Dubbel Duffel tutorial by China Young…

Small Dubbel Duffel to backpack…

Dubbel Duffel x Opening Ceremony

Dubbel Duffel x Opening Ceremony

Dubbel Duffel x Opening Ceremony

Large Duffel

Dubbel Duffel x Opening Ceremony

I am so excited to announce that I will be walking alongside fellow bloggers in the first ever Polyvore Live fashion show on February 13th. Polyvore Live is the product of Polyvore and COVERGIRL’s initiative to help emerging designers be seen and heard. The runway show is invite only but will be streaming live on Polyvore the evening of the 13th. I had my first fitting this past weekend and was blown away by what the four participating FIT alumni have designed for the show. The line that I will be walking in, Gavaskar, is a play on classic and sexy with a color pallet of primarily red. Designer Ven, who graduated form FIT in 2006 with top honors as Designer of the Year, says his collection speaks to his idea of beauty. Take a look at my two Polyvore-inspired collages below for a sneak peak at what is to come next Monday. Can’t wait to share if my look will be more old hollywood and have Mark Tansy red with envy, or if I will be stealing Jeff Koons’ heart and bathing in roses.

Gavascar Classic Red

Gavaskar Sexy Red

On August 10th Banana Republic held a launch party at their Rockefeller Center store in honor of their newest capsule collection. Simon Kneen, Creative Director of Banana Republic, and famed Mad Men Costume Designer Janie Bryant, partnered up to offer customers the Mad Men look for Banana Republic prices. The collection, which officially launched online and in stores on August 11th, features apparel and accessories for both men and women. Whether you’re into dressing ’60s or not there are some great separates that any closet could use. Everyone should go in stores and online now to check out the line!

Below is a short piece with Simon Kneen discussing his vision for the collection as well as a few shots from the launch party… Enjoy!

Mad Men-inspired hair and makeup at the launch

Get Mad

Get Mad

Favorite piece of the collection? This printed trench…

Get Mad

Some full looks…

Get Mad

Get Mad

Get Mad