I must admit, most of the days I have a love-hate relationship with London. But every now and then, little gems of experiences such as this one remind me why I am still here. Imagine queuing around the block in a residential area, waiting to see a world-renowned artist exhibit his latest work for free.
Tucked away behind a petrol station off City Road, and nestled between fancy new apartment developments, is the Victoria Miro gallery. Yes, it resembles a warehouse and has floor to ceiling windows, like most modern converted galleries do, but it also has a man-made lake at the back. I bet you did not expect that! What a great place to host Do Ho Suh’s new exhibition “Passage/s”.
The exhibition’s main attraction is a structure made of translucent fabric replicating the different places the artist has lived and worked in. He references his childhood home in South Korea, and his various flats and studios in places such as New York and London. As the notes of the exhibition explain: “Do Ho Suh has long ruminated on the idea of home as both a physical structure and a lived experience, the boundaries of identity and the connection between the individual and the group across global cultures”…“Suh’s structures give form to ideas about migration, transience and shifting identities”. Can’t think of a more relevant topic right now.
Passing through the multi-coloured corridor of different rooms seamlessly put together, the visitor experiences Suh’s life in transit. A life that crossed cultural and geographical boundaries. As you walk through you wonder; am I invested too much in the destination and ignore the journey? Is it that bad to allow cultural and geographical exchange and movement? The people from all over the world who are queuing with me inside the fabric structure surely don’t appear to think so.
His work is not only challenging your preconceptions and asking you to re-think the idea of your life’s journey. It also offers a colourful attack on the senses. The colours he chooses and the way he combines them are indeed inspirational.
We need to talk about being unabashed. It is a word, and a concept, that has been in my mind for some time now. As per Oxford Dictionary’s definition, it describes a person who is not embarrassed, disconcerted, or ashamed. And as I have noticed recently, this is a growing attitude. This post does not try to intellectualise the term or discuss whether it is a good thing or a bad thing. Actually, it is more about recognising it, and seeing how it is changing our world and more specifically the fashion world.
It is a standpoint that is currently shaping everything; from world politics to fashion. It is about saying and doing what you think, and acting on your opinion; expressing yourself! It does not matter if you are wrong or if your opinion is fact-less; simply having an opinion is enough and invaluable. This is possibly the result of years of people saying exactly what they wanted online. We have always had opinions, which we learned to share online through following, posting comments, shares, and likes. But what is happening now is major. It feels like the private has merged with the public; that the online has slipped into the offline, and started to define it. Result: the boundaries between the perceived privacy offered online, and the brutal reality of offline blur even further. People stop hiding behind their online persona. If their opinion is valued online it is only legitimate to voice it offline, however challenging or shameless it is. Non-facts become alt-facts. Sounds like a revolution…
Here we go again, yet another season upon us. It was 2°C last night but we must talk summer because the new SS17 deliveries are in! I was discussing this the other day with a design manager friend of mine. She explained how scared she is every year around this time. Always fearful of transitional collections. Their performance is always a hit and miss she said. And “a bitch to design” apparently. “Throw a few Bretton stripes” she explained, “together with a couple of florals, and a lot of red and navy, bish bash bosh, collection done, and the design director happy”… Words accompanied by rolling of the eyes and a shoulder shrug. My heart sunk right there, and the fighter in me accepted the challenge: to “come up with outfits that are transitional but not bloody boring”.
So, I am taking on the all transitional stable; the stripe! Below you can find 5 different outfits built around stripes. Vertical of course; forget horizontal stripes. When putting together your transitional outfit follow these 5 rules and you will be fine: wear denim, layer, keep it tonal, and accessorise! Oh and don’t be scared to clash; when you think there is way too much going on, add more!
Clockwise: ACNE STUDIOS wool and cashmere-mix double-breasted overcoat and oversized wool cardigan; J.W. ANDERSON stripe-play cotton top; CHRISTOPHER KANE pansy leather cross-body bag; ROSANTICA gold-tone, straw and quartz bracelet; J.CREW sequined silk crepe de chine midi skirt; GUCCI silk and cotton-blend oversized brooch (to be pinned on the overcoat); NIKE stingray and snake-effect leather sneakers.
Clockwise: VETEMENTS in collaboration with SCHOTT oversized leather biker jacket; LANVIN viscose cardigan; MCQ ALEXANDER MCQUEEN crocheted wool and cotton-blend jumper; MARQUES’ALMEIDA oversized chain leather shoulder bag; SELIM MOUZANNAR diamond Pink Gold ring; MARQUES’ ALMEIDA frayed denim knot mini skirt; ALEXANDER MCQUEEN wool-mix socks with ruffle detail; ACNE STUDIOS ankle leather boots.
We expect the fashion coming out of London to push boundaries, and it does. But interestingly enough, men’s shows this season while still challenging, felt incredibly wearable. They were more mature, more thought through, concentrating on how the clothes translate to the street without losing sight of the message. And God did AW17 shows have strong messages…
We had the norm gender-bending, gender-defying message, a stable for British brands, but this time it was less gimmicky. It felt less of a concept for the fashion crowd’s internal consumption, and more of a discussion on how modern men view their masculinity. For example, why is it ok to wear lycra trousers when doing sports and not when walking down the street? Why does playing with proportions, and distorting the balance of the body, is a womenswear only preoccupation? It was less of a drag show, and more of a sincere question on gender defining attributes.
But what raised a few eyebrows in the post-Brexit referendum era, were the political messages communicated by many designers. In a few shows the message was very subtle; with clothes that looked battle-ready, or with clothes that felt as if they have been bruised by a battle. However, Christopher Shannon, not shying away from a clearer stand on Brexit, sent models down the runway with melted flags obscuring their faces. And to make things even more straight-forward his play on Hugo Boss’s logo, spelling ‘Loss international’, summarised the feeling many young people have in the UK.
But to the point, there were a few distinctive trends emerging from the AW17 runways. Menswear brands overcame the division between performance-wear and daywear; the merging of the two was complete and did feel sincere; a fresh approach to “athleisure”. What also excited me was how ‘utility’ was brought to the next level; proving that juxtaposing utilitarian and a design-focused approach can be irrelevant. Designers showed us that a happy co-existence is possible. But there was a micro-trend, related to these utilitarian-performance-daywear hybrids, I cannot wrap my head around. What is it with all the ski-wear down-filled jackets, trousers, and separates? Even my ski-crazy friends will struggle to stand behind this…