Sunday, 22 February 2009

John Rocha sexes it up in the city

On Friday, I was lucky enough to attend John Rocha’s show at London Fashion Week, courtesy of my lovely friend Holly. She’s small but cool.
On my way in I eyeballed many a strange outfit. I just couldn’t help BUT look. One of my faves was a woman in her fifties wearing a LBD, wait for it, teamed with a baby pink fluffy hat the size of a small planet. I’d be surprised if she didn’t have to have a separate invite for the thing.

Headgear dramas aside, I had a fashion show to attend.

If you say John Rocha to someone, the response will often be ‘Debenhams.’ Which conjures up horrendous slip dresses and cardies fit for the forties and above.

The catwalk show, however, displayed classic black feminine tailoring with splashes of scarlet and nudes. Faux fur and chiffon were key fabrics, creating texture and movement. The collection oozed relaxed luxury with defined shapes being created effortlessly. Silhouettes ranged from billowing shapeless coats to hourglass inducing jackets. Shiny nickel coloured dresses became futuristic with sculpted oversized shoulders.

The headpieces were chunky and fantastic. They reminded me immediately of a particular episode of Sex and The City.

Carrie leads the way

Rodchenko & Popova at the Tate Modern

12 rooms of the Tate Modern have been taken over by the experimental Constructivists, Aleksandr Rodchenko and Liubov Popova. Each one expressing different fundamental properties of art and its place in new society. From 1917 to the 1920's, the Constructivists not only contributed to everyday life, but propelled Popova, one of the first females to be viewed as equal to her male counterparts, in to the spotlight.

The first room houses the artist's paintings that explore textures and the surface’s interaction with light. Rodchenko explores this most successfully with his ‘Black on Black’ series. Glossy and matt finishes of the paint subtly depict crescent shapes, which only become visible when the light reflects off the stippled surface. Popova took the idea further in to the realm of geometric shapes in her collection named ‘Painterly Architectonics’. The overlapping shapes are seemingly haphazard, but build up a painting that almost feels 3D.

Room two reveals new roles for the Constructivist’s art. Proving wrong the popular assumption that widespread design and architecture did not take place until the 1920’s, we see Rodchenko’s designs for an aircraft storehouse and lamp designs that could easily be mistaken for something out of the IKEA catalogue. The pair’s graphic works between 1917 and 1919 show Popova taking a softer approach with embroidery designs. However, the innovative artists still kept up with their painting, exploring more linear pieces with plenty of crosshatching to create a layered look. The muted primary colours are easy on the eye in comparison to the complex patterns chosen.

As you enter the third and fourth rooms, it is hard not to notice the almost mathematical appearance of Rodchenko’s work. By this I mean the stark geometric shapes in mild yellows and reds have been placed on the black page with delicate precision, rather than with a free flowing hand. He began to use rules and compasses, further blurring the line between artist and constructor. The result leaves your mind reminiscing of Spirograph. The artists favoured an impersonal approach to composition; they didn’t feel the need to express personality or feeling through their work. Popova's response to this was Space Force Constructions. Sharply cut shapes were brushed on to plywood using thick oil paint. The solidarity of the chosen surface contrasted with the scattering of sawdust over the top, creating a slightly softer appearance than Rodchenko's pieces.

As soon as I entered the first room of the exhibition, the works immediately seemed similar to that of Wassily Kandinsky. So, it was no surprise when room five was dedicated to Rodchenko and Popova’s response to his work.

It took until room six to witness what the Constructivists actually constructed in real three-dimensional sculptures, but fear not, it was wholly worth the wait. Several aluminium oval shaped frames have been interwoven with another and hung from the ceiling. The spectacle scrambles the brain as you attempt to work out just how it had all been pieced together, and so delicately. The other hanging structure in the Spatial Construction series is similar but uses square wooden frames, giving the sculpture a more severe appearance.

Room seven and eight displays the transition from graphic painting and designs to making art play a role in reality. The artists wave goodbye to abstract paintings and put their designs to good use. Sketches from Rodchenko reveal detailed chandeliers as Popova designs a series of banners.
I struggled to hold my attention in rooms nine and 10 as the artistic duo delved in to the world of advertising. Dominated by blues and reds, the posters were simple yet bland, with a lack of imagination seen previously in their graphic paintings. However, the small textiles corner caught my attention with fabric designs that could easily be seen on the high street now. The monochrome patterns reminiscent of Tetris are modern before their time.

In the mid to late 1920’s, both artists experimented with theatre and film. One of Rodchenko’s film projects, ‘The Female Journalist’ is displayed in room 11. The story makes fun of the bourgeois culture that sprung up from the New Economic Policy in Russia at the time. Popova also contributed to theatre but both artists considered the mediums as collaborative art, helping to reshape society.

Tired after the previous 11 rooms? Then take a seat in room 12: the workers club. But I warn you; it won’t be a comfortable one. The Tate have recreated Rodchenko’s design for the leisurely space, but have replaced leather loungers for, yes you’ve guessed it, geometric functionalism.

If there is one thing for certain, the Constructivists sure do give value for money. Rodchenko and Popova’s work spreads over such a wide range of mediums in such a short space of time. The message was clear with the added bonus of sexual equality.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Hussein Chalayan review for Arts London News

Chris Moore: Inertia

Technology isn’t the first thought that springs to mind when considering the world of fashion. But it is this, mixed with philosophy, anthropology and science that are at the forefront of former Central Saint Martin student Hussein Chalayan’s designs. The twice named British designer of the year, MBE and creative director of Puma graduated from CSM in 1993 but this exhibition, now showing at the Design Museum, is the first comprehensive presentation of Chalayan’s work in the UK. His work spans fifteen years of experimental projects, right up until his most recent collections.

Each garment on show has a fantastical quality, leaving the viewer in awe and wonder at how such a piece could have been created. Chalayan is known for merging his meticulous pattern cutting skills with futuristic qualities. This can be most obviously seen in Readings, his Spring/Summer collection 2008. Two dresses, a jacket and a hat are brought to life with 200 moving scarlet lasers, attached by custom hinges, each with their own motor. The lasers start by reflecting off the Swarovski crystal adorned garment, moving gradually away from the body. The effect is like something out of the Matrix.

His most recent collection, named Inertia is created from the combination of speed and technology and its implications on our lives. The dresses are solid, yet molded in a way to suggest fast movement. It is also clear that Chalayan has put a considerable amount of thought in to how his exhibition would look. Inertia is displayed on mannequins that have their eyes closed due to the constant stream of blowing air from a hidden fan as well as creating movement in their hair.

In contrast to the futuristic inspirations, the exhibition delves in the world of nature and weather cycles. Chalayan used a huge bale of netted fabric and cut in to it to create the classic shape of a prom dress. This is inspired by the way that mountains have been shaped by nature, mainly weather-induced erosion. When this creation was shown on the runway, a carbon fibre Remote Control Dress covered it. Panels of this remotely controlled shell were then opened to reveal the soft-netted prom dress underneath. The idea of this was to cross over 2 main ideas; the fact that nature and weather is so uncontrollable, next to the human tendency to want to control all parts of life. But don’t be put off by the deep-rooted meanings; it’s still an incredible dress to look at.

Another section for all the fashionista’s out there is Ambimorphous Autumn/ Winter 2002. This collection combines many concepts, such as space, time, mechanical and ethical but sewn together to create what is called the ‘morph process’. We see a series of photographs documenting the morph from embroidered traditional Turkish costume to a long black ‘Western’ coat. The concept of mechanics was shown in the restriction of movement due to leather straps across the Westernised coat. But, concepts aside, marvel at the ornate embroidered stitching, as well at the intricate beading across the traditional dress.
Chalayan’s fascination of technology continues through to his art installations with his interest in the concept of flight and movement. Airports have always been considered a border between his life in London and his Turkish Cypriot heritage. Repose Autumn/Winter 2006 shows a bright white, aircraft wing protruding from the wall with a Swarovski encrusted flap moving slowly up and down. The crystals are again illuminated with Chalayan’s favourite, LED lights. Passenger seats have been placed outside the aircraft, relating to the absurdity of the idea of flight and it’s out of body experience.

To complete all aspects of Chalayan’s artistic nature, there are screens showing short films that he has directed, including ‘Anaesthetics’, a 22 minute long film which is both compelling but uncomfortable to watch. With scenes such as the gutting of a live fish and a blind folded young girl, waving a revolver directly at you, it’s not for the faint hearted but is open to interpretation.
Each year and season has its own specific meaning yet the 15-year collection somehow manages to fold in to one. The exhibition is full of hidden delights so make sure you go exploring; go from fashion and back.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Leathery love

So if there is one thing you need to know about me, it's that I LOVE clothes. I LOVE fashion. Which quite a lot of girls do, lets be honest, but hey! Which is why I was spankingly elated when a good friend alerted me to a special Topshop night in association with Vogue. It was a private event; you shell out a tenner for the invite, which is redeemable when making a purchase. Whoopee. Not only this but there is 20% off and a free gift. FREE GIFT you say? It was a heavy clunky gaudy bracelet with Kermit coloured stones, and lots of them. I wouldn't expect anyone to pay money for it anyway. But, to make up for it, there was a rosy pink Mac lipstick that I love. Even if it does make me look a bit cheap. I'll tell people that's the idea. I'll just show people the bracelet, and then they'll definitely believe that that's the look I'm going for.

When I initially received my invite in the post, the spotty packaging sent me in to a daydream frenzy, as well as a 3 hour perving session at the Topshop website. Not to mention the ludicrous calculations I was doing to work out the most I could get for the best price with the discount. I eventually came to the conclusion. I'll buy loads of cheap things. It’s all about quantity. Then I smacked my head and realised it was a TOPSHOP event. There is no such thing as loads of cheap things.

Then, as I stood halfway back in the changing room queue, unsightly indents in my arms from all the hangers, a love story began. As soon as our eyes met across the room, I knew it had to be. My heart started racing. The only thought going through my mind was, ‘Please have my size.’ All rationality was stripped from me, along with my coat and cardy I was wearing. I threw them to floor and flung the sweet smelling leather over me. It could have been the three glasses of complimentary champagne talking, but I was in love.


The peek at the price tag………

Maybe a little less in love now?

My rationality came pouring back. I get 20% off. I marched straight to the till. Smiles all round.

I think we’re going to live happily ever after.

Careless whispers lead to careless work

When lots of people who don’t know each other all together that well but are then placed in one room, Monday to Friday, and asked to make a paper, what would you expect to happen? You would think they would just get on with it. Purely for one reason: their grades. But, as we should all know, nothing is ever that simple. If only. At my university, this is exactly what has happened. Problems are created for no reason. People are put down, knocking the wind out of their previously filled, full of confidence, sails. But whose fault is this? Certainly not their own. They were perfectly happy before this project.

Now this may all sound very harmless and all the rest of it but there are secrets. One small hiccup leads to a hands on bitch fest in front of 50 odd people. Chinese whispers are often the recipe to this. One thing leads to another, another thing leads to the next. Then, all of a sudden, we have the meeting and little quips are thrown about. We’re not getting paid. We are here out of our own free will, so why should we have to sit and listen to sentences such as, “ Well, why didn’t you do this better?” and “ I don’t really see your point”. And my all time favourite, “if you want a fucking shit paper than go ahead and do it.”

When really, aren’t we all on the same level? Shouldn’t we actually respect one another? The fact is, yes. The other fact is, some people have their enlarged heads screwed on backwards.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Oh DEAR....

The gloves do add a sense of romanticism about the gown but if this is romance at its best then hand me a box of man size Kleenex because this is tragic. It’s as if someone has raided Thornton’s gift wrapping cupboard, found some PVA glue and just went for it, but not before taking some acid.

Does anyone else think........

......that Goldie Hawn looks like that slaggy dog from 'Lady and the Tramp'.......

Just a thought.

Courtesy of Steph

The Perils of Facebook

I wonder how many of you have been - what we notoriously call – facebook raped? To those of you who aren’t familiar with this term, here is a brief explanation. It is when an unsuspecting social networking account owner leaves their facebook logged in to any computer. Then someone comes along and, usually in a friendly manner, alters their profile. This can result in having their profile picture changed, usually to an image that relates to some sort of in-joke. Commonly, an animal or cartoon of some kind. Resulting in hilarity. For example, if someone was to facebook rape Peaches Geldof they could change her picture to that of many things, such as Verruca Salt, an Alsatian or a pile of vomit. You get the idea.

It seems this kind of past time is sweeping the nation. But unfortunately, taken a sinister turn. No longer is the inbox a safe haven for those specific messages that just can’t be public knowledge. Instead, facebook raping is fast becoming facebook hijack. So what’s different I hear you cry. The inbox is the primary target. The goal is to search and destroy. No funny pictures or indecent statuses are left as a trail. Just a pure, unadulterated quickie. Get to the inbox. Download messages and BOOM, out they go. No muss, no fuss.

Granted, it could be considered the user’s fault for leaving their account exposed to such attacks but lets be honest. Who’s really that interesting? Clearly only a select few.

So if this has happened to you, count yourself lucky. You are probably hot to trot. If it hasn’t, bad luck. Try stepping up the topics a notch or two.

the blog according to Monica...

a blog is for revenge

a blog is for attention

a blog is to pad out your facebook status

a blog is an online portfolio for a job

a blog is for life not just for dissertation

which category do you fall in to ?

Testing the waters

So I’m totally meant to be doing dissertation work but the draw of creating a blog where I can free flow type is much more appealing than forcing out researched sentences that have no real meaning. It’s not as if my diss is on anything particularly difficult either. Unless you find analyzing celebrity magazines and their treatment by the public and the media in today’s culture difficult, then I think we’re in agreement that I took the easy route.

Still no motivation.

I blame facebook.

Although, lets be honest, facebook is often the failure of most things. Namely privacy.