Friday, 15 June 2012

A RANT & RON ARAD EYEWEAR





Earlier today I was speaking to a publicist who is in charge of the guest list for a party during the upcoming London Collections: Men (London’s first attempt at a menswear fashion week), and you would not believe some of the blagging which fashion industry ‘professionals’ (to use the term lightly) indulge in when they’re trying to score an invite. It’s toe curling, wince-inducing stuff. You get editorial assistants claiming that their editors said they could have their tickets (when, of course, the editors hadn’t said that); a million variations on the old “my invite must have got lost in the post” story; people who really have no right or reason to attend (other publicists who work at rival PR firms, for example) making thinly-veiled ‘threats’ of ‘consequences’ if they aren’t put on the guest list because of their tenuous connections to the advertisers who work with the company behind the event (talk about clutching at straws); and, of course, the classic “but don’t you know who I am?”

Someone actually used the line “but I’m the SENIOR showroom executive (whatever that means) at XXXX,” where XXXX is what you might call a B to C-list brand. Someone else (a total non-entity, I might add) without an invite actually complained that they were "better qualified" to attend the party than other people who they knew had been invited (!) before telling the publicist that she did not know how to do her job properly. This self-serving, egotistical attitude, which comes to the fore among certain fashion professionals whenever there is promise of anything ‘exclusive,’ is shameful. Unfortunately this industry is full of braindeads who care about nothing except blagging free things and living ‘the lifestyle’ on someone else’s buck. Then there's the whole political aspect too: "I won't come if X is also invited" "Why did X publication get 10 invites and we only got 7" etc. I avoid 90% of fashion events because I can't bear the whole circus that surrounds them. The sucking-up, the rubber-necking, the fake smiles… it poisons what I love about fashion, so I stay away from it all.

Last night, though, I made an exception to my no-events policy and attended the press launch of PQ Eyewear, the latest project from the legendary architect and product designer Ron Arad. The chance to meet Mr Arad himself, and have a look inside his North London studio, was too much to resist. And the pleasant surprise was that the glasses (opticals and sunglasses) were genuinely amazing too.

As a long-time glasses wearer, I fully agreed with the project’s conceit that there is not enough innovation or newness in the eyewear industry, something which is particularly evident when you consider that about 80% of the ‘high end’ glasses out there are yawn-worthy, logo-adorned frames made under license by a handful of big companies.

Arad aims to change all this with two new concepts: the ‘A’ frame which has an adjustable bridge for superior comfort and fit (it’s amazing nobody has thought of this before), and the incredible goggle-like sunglasses in the CORBS range, which have articulated sides rather than hinges. One pair was made from a single piece of high-tech material which had been created in a 3-D printer. And the cases, transparent lozenges with a silicone rubber brush which holds the frame in place, are something else.

Seriously innovative and stylish stuff, as you would expect from Ron Arad, whose work I greatly admire. He came out with some cracking one-liners too: “my glasses are like my chairs, you can sit on them and they will not break” and “glasses without adjustable bridges make about as much sense as a belt with only one hole.” There are about four models I want, the only downside being the retail prices which hover around the £500 per pair mark. Still, they are in themselves beautiful design objects, and the quality seemed to be outstanding.























pq-eyewear.com

I'm not sure if these slightly flat pictures really do the glasses justice. I might see if I can borrow some pairs from the PR and shoot them myself, so stay tuned.

Related post: Ron Arad at the Barbican Centre.

Monday, 11 June 2012

THE GIVENCHY NOSE RING



Browsing the new season collections on Luisa via Roma, the Florence-based retailer which is known for being among the first to put next season’s clothes online to pre-order, I was particularly struck by a Givenchy nose ring, which had featured in the label’s fall/winter 2012 runway show – as well as in numerous fashion editorials since then.

I’m generally not a fan of Givenchy menswear, and I’m definitely not a fan of men’s jewellery – even more so when it is adorned with Swarovski crystals, as said nose ring is – but something about it gripped me. I even entertained thoughts of buying it, until reason prevailed (a fake nose piercing? £200? Really?) – as well as the reality that only three occasions readily present themselves for wearing such an item: attending the fashion shows this season, taking edgy self-portraits for the internet, and clubbing in Dalston.



I suppose what I like so much about it is how it is something ‘fashion’ (absurdly ‘fashion’, in fact) which is actually influenced by the unsophisticated, sub-culture world of extreme piercing. The only cop out here is that you don’t need a septum piercing to wear it: rather, it is magnetic. Nonetheless, it’s definitely an object of desire. It has a bit of tribal-by-way-of-punk influence too, for that wonderful sense of ultimately meaningless post-modern mash-up. As do Givenchy’s other ‘fake’ piercings this season:



And here's the unsavoury depths-of-the-internet version:



Subculture vs. Vogue:



One of the things I like about fashion is the way it can take some odd idea or aspect of life and twist it into something luxurious and aspirational, hopefully with added design integrity and pleasing aesthetics. (It doesn’t always work: see Givenchy’s somewhat gaudy print T-shirts with sharks and rottweilers, presumably the high-fashion take on the sort of dreadful shirt beloved of nerds that you find in discount basements). If you look at it in a detached way, this low-to-high approach is quite funny – even if designers don’t intend it to be that way. I couldn’t help seeing more parallels between what you might call “extreme body modification” and fashion. For starters, fashion is infamous for its tenacious embrace of the ultra-skinny body, itself attainable only by fairly extreme dieting and exercise, a form of body modification. You see it a lot in fashion editorials too, whether it's subversive surgery themed shoots, or the provocative use of bodybuilders or the morbidly obese as 'props'. Speaking of the extreme overweight body, remember the fashion world obsession with Beth Ditto a few years ago? And then there’s ‘zombie boy’ (Rick Genest) a real, living example of extreme body modification – and current fashion darling, and sometime muse to Nicola Formichetti:



Off the top of my head..

(not literally - voluntary amputation of body parts is apparently a thing - you couldn't make this stuff up. It's SOO fashion. No quicker way to drop a dress size than some cheeky amputation)..

Givenchy (by Alexander McQueen) SS97 haute couture vs. extreme bod mod:



Balenciaga SS07 metal leggings vs. the pinnacle of piercing:



Christopher Kane SS11 vs. terminal tats:



Lady Gaga’s ‘wacky’ prosthetic horns? They’re based on real 3D under-skin implants which people, who may or may not be suffering from body dysmorphia, have done:



Oh look, it’s Givenchy’s signature stars:



Extremes and fashion go hand in hand (extremely skinny models, extremely expensive bags, extremely high heels... you name it), so the link between body freakishness and high fashion perhaps isn’t surprising. I think unattainability is a key concept. The question is where the lines of ‘good taste’ are drawn. During my “research” of extreme body modification, I discovered that you can (and people do) get eyeball tattoos (W.T.F!) and – even less suitable for the squeamish – temporary suspension from hooks placed in the skin has an underground cult following. Concepts for Givenchy fall/winter 2013, perhaps? Or beyond even the remedial touch of Parisian couture? Should designers visit 'ModCon' conventions for inspiration? Apparently "bagel heads" are big in Japan.

Steven Klein are you reading? This could be a darling editorial:



Maybe replace the weird guy with Karlie Kloss, and the household objects with the season’s IT bags? I’ll send you my invoicing details if Vogue Italia runs with it.

Edit: he actually has a toaster hanging from his nipple. A TOASTER. I like the effort with the sheet backdrop. It adds an almost celestial edge.

Fashion's fixation with bondage and sexual perversion is no doubt a similar phenomenon.

PS. The thing I really want next season (excluding the entire Raf Simons collection) is the Yves Saint Laurent runway sweater. It has SO much Tumblr appeal. What’s that design motif? Razor blades, you say? All the better for carving a Chanel logo into your arm during a fit of angst, and subsequently getting 12,000 re-blogs.



£880 for a sweater, though. That’s a tough sell (to the logical part of my brain from the impulsive side).

Does the fact that I would even contemplate spending that on a one-season-only runway knit make me as mad as the people who get 75% skin-coverage tattoos and piercings in body parts the existence of which eludes the innocent mind?

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

NOT DEAD YET

This blog is still alive. Hell, it has more life than a Beverly Hills morgue with Lindsay Lohan doing community service. I'm going to TRY to update more frequently from now onwards.

Here is a list of things I bought at the Raf Simons archive sale in April:

FW01 jacket:


FW03 sweater with Peter Saville graphics:

SS02 shirt:

FW04 shirt with removable back panel, and José Ortega y Gasset quote:

SS05 T-shirt with Giordano Bruno references:

SS05 T-shirt with Brian Eno references:

FW98 mesh top:

FW97 T-shirt:

So I spent *all* my money in the sale, but I lost track of time in there, and when I came out I realised my flight was leaving in less than an hour. TAAAAAXI! But the driver was like, you know we're in Antwerp and your flight is going from Brussels.. that's another city, I don't go that far, you'll never make it, you have to take a train etc. I had flown in from Chicago to Belgium that morning just for the sale, so I was jet-lagged as hell, had about 50 huge heavy bags and it was pouring with rain, non-changeable flight tickets, phone battery had died, had to be at work the next day in London, so I totally flipped and was like I SERIOUSLY I DON'T GIVE A ----, NOW STEP ON THE GAS..

Luckily he turned out to be a loony driver who went at 90mph with no hands on the wheel most of the way in rain which was by now coming down horizontally with about 2m of visibility ahead. After a cheeky €130 taxi fare, made the flight by about 30 seconds. Had to manhandle old women, children, you name it, out of the way in the security line. MOVE, MOVE, ME AND MY RAF ARE COMING THROUGH, GET OUT OF THE WAY.

The lengths I go to for old clothes.

Here are some non-Raf things I have recently purchased:

Junya Watanabe FW07 boiled wool zip shirt:


With Prada shoes.

+ DRKSHDW Rick Owens parka:


Helmut Lang year ? down-filled vest:

Wearing over COS varsity jacket with Prada shoes. Jeans & trousers always from Topman - not exactly a top brand choice, but the ONLY place I can get a 31" waist and 30" inner leg (fuck being short. seriously). Life is too short to buy "designer" trousers and have them altered out of recognition, because they are all cut for 6 FOOT BLOODY 4 models. A 30" waist on, say, Prada trousers would have roughly a 36" leg. Fuck that shit. Sunglasses are Oliver Peoples Altman frame. Now I have found *my* pair, I have dispensed with all other sunglasses.

Been wearing this a lot recently.. Raf SS03 shirt, Gap black long-sleeve T-shirt, B-Store desert boots:


These are basically the only three pairs of shoes I'm wearing regularly at the moment:

New Balance M373 and Prada's.

And these are the only glasses I'm wearing.. old Starck x Alain Mikli. It's nice to keep things simple. I used to rotate about 4 different pairs of glasses. No longer bovvered.


Oh also,,,

<3