Yves Saint Laurent : today’s style cues by one man’s dare to dream.

When Yves Saint Laurent needed it the most, he found what he was looking for.  A Muse.

After a long-day’s work at his renowned Atelier, a much needed break and a few glasses of Glenfiddich later, Yves found himself entranced by a woman he sees dancing at a regular night club he visited in bustling downtown Paris.  A woman who innately mastered the art of commanding attention, but yet very timidly and mysteriously exudes this wondrous energy. It was really a time when powerful women were seen. They were stand-outs, slightly cast-offish in their attitude. They presented themselves as if always in this bubble - safe from ridicule, yet elegantly powerful in their demeanor. They were different and it wasn’t put on. Women’s ideals were changing. It was actually safe to say that there were lesser ideals to follow. The modern woman was seen as liberated, different, daring, brave and perhaps vulgar at times. Vulgarity was subject to a myriad of perceptions. It was an easy deem for those who broke any sort of mold. The world was just getting way to comfortable - visually at least.

It was 1965 and the fashion world was just about to witness the slam-dunk of trend-forecasting - something Yves Saint Laurent was mastering at the time. The classic collections of YSL were to take a turn. They were to be reimagined. The late sixties called for statements - a time where freedom reigned. Designers were not falling short of this happening. They saw the magnitude of personal expression and began following this revolution. I would say that YSL was the first to make heads turn when he introduced his swinging fashion of the Mondrian Collection and the introduction of the revolutionary and ever-so-androgynous, the woman’s Tuxedo.

The Mondrian collection was first presented in Paris and later in London as an initial showcase of six cocktail dresses all inspired by the paintings of Dutch painter, Mondrian. The vibrant and loud color combinations really set the YSL name apart and became synonymous with irregular uses of color palates - the most interesting range of colors that would be presented together for the first time. We are not talking powdery shades, but the loudest form of block colors that would at times seem as if a person was wearing a Twister mat  (as a basic later explained). The rave over these pieces didn’t really start in Paris, but during the launch of the collection in London later that year. If people were to associate the word swinging with the sixties, it would have had to be in London. Everything about it was swinging! The music, the fashion, the food, the vibes, the movements, the eras that were blossoming, the dawn of glam rock, the shocks of the androgynous, the need to take everything a step further. London is where the YSL Mondrian Collection sang! Every IT girl was to wear one, every woman who deemed herself different loved the freedom it gave her. Self expression was everywhere. The collection was a complete sell-out..GLOBALLY.

In comes the Androgynous. London was on fire! They embraced the new and they were not fearful of making heads turn. The age of Glam Rock was just beginning and the styles that this dawn brought were nothing less than shocking. Feminine and masculine styles woven together to create a new found fitting that was neither, but both - juxtaposing yet fluid in its style of soft masculinity with uber femininity. The boundaries (and I use this heavily) the gender and societal boundaries were so fluidly deteriorating. YSL, even for then, was seen as beyond his time, and yes I’ll say it, avant garde. His years as an understudy had bundled his own notions and beliefs for a later time - a time when he can create for the kind of woman he has yet to see.

What two words would you say, explains this?

You’re Welcome.

The pinnacle of masculinity, the treasure of gentleman’s attire, The Tuxedo - was given to a woman. BOOM! Style was made eternal!

Originally published by Adel El-Assaad on www.kingdome.co.

Images courtesy of Made to Measure. 

Kia Utzon-Frank- Designing Across Disciplines

From marbled cakes to super smart blinds, jewellery designer-turned-product mastermind Kia Utzon-Frank is the definition of a multi-disciplinarian. 

Kia Utzon-Frank’s practice covers a lot of ground, in terms of scale, and physical and thematic context. A graduate from the Royal College of Art’s MA Goldsmithing, Silversmithing, Metalworks & Jewellery program, she has since been busy inventing, baking and experimenting. Her recent works include KUFcakes, delicious sponge cakes with marzipan icing, printed with images of marble to resemble obelisks; sculptures made with paper that is 80% stone; and the Louver Twisting Comb, a control mechanism for blinds or room dividers which rotates strips of flexible material to reveal hints of light and controlled shadow.

As part of this year’s London Design Week, Utzon-Frank showed her work in Design Undefined . The exhibition hosted her first products as KUFStudios, the multidisciplinary design brand she founded to contain her practice. She says: “The idea of starting a company came when I was asked to do this show, and I asked which discipline they would like to exhibit and they said ‘No no no, we want the whole thing! That’s what’s so exciting’… and that was the first time anyone had wanted that.” So she founded KUFStudios, which is built to expand and contract according to where Utzon-Frank’s multifarious experiments take her.

Originally published by Adel El-Assaad on www.kingdome.co 

Photo courtesy of Utzon-Frank Studios. 

What Frida Wore

The legend’s wardrobe showcased after 50 years behind lock and key.

After Frida Kahlo died in 1954, her husband Diego Rivera shut her belongings in a bathroom at their Mexico City home, the Blue House – then demanded it be locked until 15 years after his death. In fact, the room wasn’t opened until 2004. Ishiuchi Miyako was invited to photograph its intimate contents when they went on show at the Frida Kahlo museum in Mexico City in an exhibition curated by Circe Henestrosa. .

Frida by Ishiuchi Miyako is at Michael Hoppen Gallery, London SW3, from 14 May to 12 July.

Originally published by Adel El-Assaad on www.kingdome.co

Meet Janina Pedan – the pioneering set designer taking the fashion industry by storm.

Janina Pedan: Setting the Stage for Fashion’s New Guard

We speak to the set designer whose work for the likes of Simone Rocha, Ben Toms and Grace Wales Bonner has established her as one of London’s luminaries

February 3, 2016 — Text by: Olivia Singer

Article Source and Credits to: AnOther Magazine A/W15, Photography by Charlie Engman, Styling by Agata Belcen, Set design by Janina Pedan

When Grace Wales Bonner opened her A/W16 show, it was with a young man perched atop a stool delicately playing a kora. The stool sat upon a miniature wooden stage, to which each of the models bowed before making their runway procession. Little crucifixes were placed next to the musician’s bare feet, and a wooden contraption inspired by Congolese sculptor Bodys Isek Kingelez supporting his stringed instrument. He was, in the words of the accompanying show notes, “a griot”: a man who “acts as ancient master of ceremonies calling upon West African ancestral traditions and black musical ritual to impart timeless wisdom, cleanse the mind, elevate consciousness.” His presence set the tone for the collection itself, and the scenography he sat among was constructed by Janina Pedan, a woman whose creations have, over the past few years, been setting the stage for many a beautifully-considered performance or fashion story. While, as a set designer, Pedan decidedly works behind the scenes, her impact in the industry is very much at the fore of the avant-garde, occupying a pivotal role in the new era of collaboration that is making waves in London.

If there was anything to be learned from the MAN presentation space that Wales Bonner’s show occupied – a succession of three young designers’ shows, each supported by the Topshop initiative – it was that fashion is returning to the sense of collectivity that it was once rooted in. There is no sense of competition about it; Rory Parnell-Mooney even laughed backstage that, late the night before, Charles Jeffreys had nipped round to print out his show notes (his own printer had broken at the final hour). Each of the designers that Pedan works with – whether Simone Rocha, Claire Barrow or Wales Bonner – has a similar approach to creativity: that it is borne from reflection and mutual appreciation rather than cut-throat competition. “When I do my more commercial shoots and I realise how the rest of the industry works, I’ve been shocked,” explains Pedan, “because I’ve been in, I suppose, quite a protective bubble made up of people who are really nice; interesting, normal people who don’t have anything to prove.” It was one of these “normal people” who gave Pedan her break into fashion: Ben Toms, a photographer who afforded her the support and creativity to move from her career as an artist into one of set design by incorporating her skills into his shoots for the likes of AnOther Magazine and Dazed. “I’m so grateful for the amount of trust that he put in me at the beginning,” she says. “And the patience – because I didn’t know how to make things, so I had to YouTube a lot of tutorials. It was very much touch and go, but he believed in me.”

Meeting Pedan, you can sort of understand why he did. She is softly spoken, each of her sentences thoroughly considered; she is magnetic in her unassuming charm. The body of her work shows parity to her physical presence: it is thoughtful and precise, never overwrought, always respectful of the creations it supports. Whether she is creating a Japanese-inspired set for AnOther Magazine’s Lea Seydoux cover story, or the window displays and assortment of furnishings for Simone Rocha’s Mount Street store, her work is simultaneously quiet yet powerful: through its economy, it speaks volumes. In an industry that can often be seen to celebrate a brash loudness, it is utterly refreshing. “In fashion, you meet so many people with attitude,” she reflects. “They’re so unnecessarily horrible and have this really strong hierarchical approach about where you belong. That’s so discouraging; if you have creative intentions – especially if you’re new – then you want to try things out, and see if it works. You need to have someone open-minded to pick up on that; someone like Ben, or Grace, or Simone. They are a great antidote to that side of the industry, and I feel like they’re doing something meaningful, somehow, not just putting out a ton of collections or pictures.”

At a time when the acceleration of fashion, and a heavy focus on profit margins and conglomerate takeovers, is making headlines, Pedan and her new guard of collaborators are offering a different way of working. Wales Bonner takes two months of the year to travel for inspiration; Toms travels similarly; Rocha is yet to show a pre-collection and each of her shows exhibits a development on her signature – “I feel like she approaches fashion more like an artist developing a theme, rather than just showing random collection after random collection,” Pedan reflects. During a period that seems make-or-break for an industry losing its creative directors at an unprecedented level, the people that Pedan affiliates herself with are challenging the pace and aggression of the mainstream. “I think the fashion industry – and society in general – has become more extreme recently,” she says. “Post-recession, we don’t have a cushion protecting us anymore, and that makes people question their value systems and look at what it is that actually matters to them.”

While Pedan might once have questioned these systems through art installations and critical theory (she studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths before being afforded a grant from the Swedish Art Council permitting her free creative reign), she now executes her set design with a similarly thoughtful approach. Born in Ukraine before moving to Sweden, London relieves Pedan from the “social claustrophobia” of Stockholm: “in London, you just move from one area to the next and no one knows who you are. There’s a pleasurable type of freedom that comes with that.” It is this cosmopolitan eclecticism and openness that marks her work, and that of her collaborators, each challenging hegemony in their own unique way. “We were born into the world that we’re in,” she summates, “but it doesn’t mean we can’t try to change the situation, because it’s not working for the majority of the world. Some people might have something to lose if things change, but I don’t think creativity is one of them.” And, if we look at the new movement emerging – whether that’s the success of Grace Wales Bonner’s sabbaticals, or the resounding acclaim bestowed upon Rocha’s bi-annual signature (which translates not only into media coverage but equally sales) – it seems as though they have the right idea.

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