23 October 2012

Naked Men Exhibition Causes a Reaction

If you've always suspected that the nude male form is a work of art, you're more unique than you think. Vast swathes of the world are still afraid of the nude male body - which seems rather strange given social media and fashion mags which proliferate with such images.
Elmgreen & Dragset, Shepherd Boy (Tank Top), (2009)

The prestigious Leopold Museum in Vienna has sparked controversy with Naked Men, an exhibition on the theme of... naked men. Posters advertising the show around Vienna have been covered up with red gaffer tape and some have been removed altogether.
The show includes works spanning the period from the Enlightenment until the present, supplemented by important reference works from ancient Egypt, Greek vase paintings and works from the Renaissance. In other words, nothing that you won't immediately see once you log onto the internet. Beginning with Ancient Greece, the exhibition addresses the depiction of men through the ages. Another focus is on the nude self-portraits of the Expressionists Egon Schiele and Richard Gerstl as well as the change in the perception of naked men after 1945. On display are works by Albrecht Dürer, Peter Paul Rubens, Paul Cézanne, Auguste Rodin, Gustav Klimt, Edvard Munch, Giovanni Giacometti, Egon Schiele, Maria Lassnig, Andy Warhol, Alfred Hrdlicka, Günter Brus, Robert Mapplethorpe, Keith Haring, Heimo Zobernig and others.At the turn of the century, Klimt believed that nakedness and truth coincided and Egon Schiele began to make his own body the object of his paintings. Expressionism brought with it a radical examination of the self, which saw the artists exposing themselves both physically and existentially and exploring the use of their own nudity.

The exhibition unites examples of many different genres and is on until January 2013.

19 October 2012

Brad Pitt in Chanel No 5 advert

Those who are determined to be kind, or merely politically correct, will focus on the millions of dollars that Mrs Jolie has earned to make and market this commercial. I'm not one of those. I'm a fan of Chanel perfumes and their iconic commercials, of which there have been some fine ones over the years - but this one I find a right howler. Whatever Mrs Jolie's making is too, too much for something so crushingly dull and inane. It's no mean feat to be so boring in the short 30 second film (and I suppose that is a talent in itself). But unless you're an orphan waiting to join the Jolie household, you will be quite bored, click on the the video and yawn for yourself? Wasn't Mrs Jolie once the hottest cameo alive circa Thelma and Louise? At which point did he degenerate into this leaden, crusty number in the Jolie entourage? Did Jennifer Aniston have something to do with it? Not only does this commercial not add to, or explain Mrs Jolie's appeal, it hardly adds anything to the mystique of the planet's best-selling perfume. 
How I miss the signature jazz tunes of the classic Chanel ads and the iconic beauties. My all-time favourite has to be the Ridley Scott one starring Carole Bouquet.  Now that's a commercial! 

15 October 2012


Adam Tan: 
He was initially thought to be around 35, but I think as I wrote him, he became a bit older in my mind. I had in mind the owner of a fashion retail and distributing company, but really, the image is of a 'suit' figure. I think in my mind's eye, he really is made up of all the suits I have known, the money men, the bankers and etc.
It is assumed that Adam Tan got to know Dana Lee through fashion events and parties through the years, definitely on a professional level a few years back before the story started. 
Eventually I got a sense that Adam probably was in love with Dana from the very beginning of their relationship. In fact, the first drafts of the story had Adam as Dana's college friend, so the relationship certainly isn't new and seemed likely to work. 
Later Adam, became a bit more of a prosperous banker type, a lady's man, confident with a practiced charm. There's always something slightly negative about his wealth, something a bit vulgar. I think I got that from the global financial crisis and the feeling that it is caused by the money men of the world with their rapacious greed and amorality. That he eventually, and quickly switched from Dana to Bella shows just what he is made of. 
I think Dana Lee does get rather seduced by the ease and luxury of his world, coming as she does from fashion and all its materialistic concerns; But I think Dana rather romanticises this aspect of Adam, and doesn't truly know very much about him.

Eli Kee: 
Eli is the younger man, I never thought how much younger, but perhaps Eli is about 30? 
He's very talented, a musician, and of course he's very beautiful, which is what sparked Dana's interest in him. She first comes across him at a photoshoot and he's lit like a vision. I always thought of Eli more as a cellist; the piano playing thing came from Jay Chou! 
Dana doesn't know, doesn't even think that Eli is from a wealthy family, so her passion and emotion for him is 'true'; she yearns of course for the real (talent, beauty, etc) because her world is of the surface, the superficial. Her longing for nature comes from the same place. 
I couldn't let Dana end up with a pauper, so I gave him a lovely old rich family and a vast garden where hopefully they will be married.

10 October 2012

Of Saint Laurent Paris

“Hedi Slimane did a remarkable job. I liked last Monday’s fashion show very much: the Saint Laurent collection exceeded my expectations. The house needed both a renovation and a return to its roots and, with Hedi, we have started down that road. I totally stand by the house of Yves Saint Laurent and the decisions made by its teams or its artistic director, and I didn’t appreciate that some people tried to use me by linking my name to chatter about invitations or the seating of this or that person,” - Francois-Henri Pinault, chairman and chief executive officer of PPR, parent of Yves Saint Laurent

One of the purportedly stolen Yves Saint Laurent erotic drawings
In further Saint Laurent related news, WWD reports that Saint Laurent's business partner and long-time lover Pierre Bergé, who seems unwilling to let the late couturier lie in peace, is alleging that a portfolio full of personal items (including a journal, a portrait of his mother he did as a teenager and several "erotic drawings") was stolen from the Saint Laurent apartment several years ago. They are now in the possession of an anonymous German businessman who claims to have received it from one of Saint Laurent's former lovers, Fabrice Thomas, his chauffeur of that time.

09 October 2012

Spring 2013: Surprise, Surprise!

After thinking about the Spring 2013 season for a bit, I must say that a few collections really surprised me with their strong showing. These are labels that I don't habitually like (ie, not my sacred cows!) but this season, there seems to be new energy, cohesiveness and creativity in their designs - which leads me to think that maybe they hired new assistants?

Riccardo Tisci has always been too 'trendy' for me, with a too-cool-it-hurts hype that doesn't seem to have any connection to his actual designs. Besides I never liked the gothic aesthetic (usually marketed as "Italian Catholicism" - whatever). But this season seems refreshingly different, and I liked it on first sight, the clarity, lightness and reduction. Also Mr Tisci's take on this season's key trends looked the most relevant, attractive and light, including the smoking, ruffles and minimalism in tunics and shifts. The baby blue is so pretty!

Alexander Wang
Gone were the "downtown hipster" cliches of his reputation and instead what seemed to be an army of ideas came pouring down and yet the vision was cohesive and the execution accomplished. There was nothing of the amateurish in this collection, no awkward or ungainly gestures, just inspiring and technically polished. The overall vibe actually made me recall the American great Geoffrey Beene.

Marc Jacobs
Shockingly coherent and all of a piece, the stripped down 'clean-slate' aesthetic is bold, lean and elegant and packs a more powerful punch than the usual excess. 

07 October 2012

Movies To Watch Out For

Out in November (not that type of 'Out'): Ang Lee's Life of Pi is adapted from Yann Martel's 2001 bestseller, looks like an Aesopian fable with cutting-edge 3D technology. I never got down to reading the book (the premise seemed worryingly sanctimonious), and now I don't have to.

 Baz Luhrmann's 3D adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel The Great Gatsby is now scheduled to open next May (2013) for a summer season. Starring the always interesting Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire and Carey Mulligan (I'm not sure about the fit),the movie was originally scheduled to open this Christmas 2012 but was pushed back to allow more time for postproduction. I've been looking forward to Ms Luhrmann's version of the story, not only because of the Prada (women) and Brooks Brothers (men) costumes but because this is one of my most loved books, and I liked the Mia Farrow in the 1974 movie. 

Not properly a movie, but still of immense interest to me is HBO’s upcoming TV movie The Girl which stars Sienna Miller as Tippi Hedren. This will purportedly chronicle the making of The Birds, director Alfred Hitchcock's iconic birds gone wild movie that made Ms Hedren, now 82, a star in 1963. Of course I hope that the opening scene where Ms Hedren is in a boat wearing a mink coat when a seagull attacks her, as well as the scene when she is trapped in a phonebooth as angry birds lay siege to a small town, as well as the climax where she is locked in a room full of birds of prey tearing her to shreds as she screams and struggles will be recreated, because one does so want to see Ms Miller shrieking with terror. Of course this spectacle can also be very enjoyable with either Gwyneth Paltrow or Nicole Kidman. Why don't they do it with all three and make it a mini series?

05 October 2012


"Instead of just doing 'Jason Wu-for-less,' the idea is to explore the other side of myself. I always see Jason Wu as my aesthetic, my design sensibility. Miss Wu is my personality. It was really fun to explore that facet of who I am - slightly more downtown, and with a more relaxed attitude." - Jason Wu
First Lady Mobama is actually the first person to be photographed wearing a dress from Miss Wu, the Jason Wu diffusion line slated to hit Nordstrom stores January 2013. It's a big endorsement for something very dubious. I like the name Miss Wu, but I'm actually not sure if there's a need for another line from this designer when his eponymous first line still seems so immature. Has Wu a "design sensibility" or "aesthetic" yet? 
One rather wonders what it is. 
A USD 680 satin clutch from the Miss Wu line: The owl logo is cute, as cute as Mr Wu is, but is it as cute as USD 680?

04 October 2012

Spring 2013: My Sacred Cows

One of the few collections this season that probably deserves to be studied up close, and seen worn on a moving model because the bounce and energy isn't evident in the still images. This aristocratic collection by Karl Lagerfeld actually throws up a vast array of ideas and propositions for all hours of the day - something that can't be said for many of the collections. There were brisk day dresses, easy suits, cute knits, elegant tea dresses, regal cocktail numbers and dignified formal gowns.
The tweeds were truly standouts, and beautifully coloured.

You just need to look pass the hula hoop bag, the Elizabethan pearl studs, and those plastic sombreros (which  even I don't understand!).

Bottega Veneta

A lovely, reduced collection from Tomas Maier. The burnt palette of batik colours is sensual and sultry and coupled with the romantic styling, brings to mind a story set in the tropics in the 1940s. Although these dresses glanced back at the past, they don't look dusty or cliched, just rich and intelligent.Of course the workmanship and fabrics are special, but every look bears Mr Maier's imprint and that is a true auteur's work.

Pure romance and so perfectly balanced: This is the textbook case for the combination of soft and hard, tailored with flou, masculine with feminine, rich and poor, western and eastern. And easy to wear too!

Christopher Bailey is tirelessly genius and this collection is wonderfully accomplished as usual, and on top of that deliciously, energetically coloured and very shapely!

Comme des Garçons
Rei Kawakubo is a true original and this collection could be a comment on the no-meaning place that fashion is at now, just a jumble of everything thrown together. A very romantic vision and what would you rather wear?

In a season when all you year is YSL (or any one of the handful of names we must now refer to the label), Alber Elbaz put out the definitive modern YSL collection. This reminds me that I've always thought that he was the best man for YSL. Beautiful. 

SPRING 2013: Louis Vuitton

Oh, it's nice! The discipline of it, the "Speedy-ness" of it seems relevant and quick to the times with Marc Jacobs's signature 'girliness' kept to a minimum. Also the clarity imposed by the checkerboard graphic added to the sharpness of the palette, which was tart, clear and fresh as a lemon.

I have to say that I see an Armani tribute in the way that the twin models came out in matching outfits and some of the looks have a classic Armani look to it, I'm sure you see what I mean. This in no way detracts from the strength of this collection.