Student pieces shine in a rather stark environment at Atelier

Having been a fan of the student gallery that used to occupy the space, I wasn’t sure what to expect of Atelier. The space hasn’t changed much, it has the same industrial ceiling, whitewashed walls and pseudo-hip jazzy music for ambiance. Also the same is the traditional AAU product, emblazoned with an enormous school logo, but it has been interspersed with a number of impressive pieces from very talented student designers.

The j’adorable children’s line towards the back of the store is uniquely charming, including perfectly whimsical dresses and smart tiny peacoat that live up their label. The painted silk dresses were delightful and can be found right in the middle of the floor where they can be properly admired and the Lan Jeanicke cashmere coats are classically lovely. The price point is a little high, especially on some of the more simple blouses, when you consider that they’re rayon and will last about a month.

The accessories are perfectly placed in a glass case right next to the entrance, and are extremely tempting, though I certainly can’t afford them. The olive green crocodile clutch and the chain mace ring in particular had my hand reaching for my wallet of its own volition.

The artwork displayed is also student made, it’s all lovely and adds some much needed color to the sterile space. Particularly notable are the Geoff Hayes cubist pieces in the back. The interactive game, situated between two dismembered mannequin arms by the back door, is surprisingly innovative and fun.

The design and flow of the store is nice overall, though it needs a bit of polish. The cardboard boxes and packing peanuts lying around detract a bit from the atmosphere. Although perhaps that’s a purposeful contrast to the work that is displayed, which is clean, professional and beyond reproach.

Hussein Chalayan evokes unrelenting stress with uncompromising beauty.

If you’ve ever been in a car crash, you know what the moment before impact feels like. It’s stressful, you feel helpless and totally out of control. You think to yourself, “What did I do? What could I have done to avoid this?” Hussein chalayan captures that emotion on the runways in Paris, using that pivotal moment to symbolize the crash that occurs when we have too much on our plates.

To capture that dizzying effect, Chalayan shows us images of car crashes in the prints on his mini-dress, a license plate here, a dented fender there, images that Chalayan claims come from “pictures of car graves.” Due to masterful theatricality on the designer’s part, the collection does not veer off into the realm of the depressing. Instead, the overt symbolism takes a backseat to the clothes themselves. Floating chiffon, soft jersey and feminine silhouettes smoothed over the jagged metal of the prints, creating a sophisticated tension, evident of Chalayan’s maturity.

The show ended with incredible drama, the models paused dynamically in latex dresses molded to perfection into aerodynamic shapes, and stood stalwart as the din of dozens of wineglasses being shattered filled the air. A powerful cap to Chalayan’s potent metaphor.

Pierre Cardin is a fashion industry icon, a visionary activist and designer, who has positively impacted the apparel industry and the world. His breakout influential collections of the 1950’s and 60’s showcased the unique, minimalist, futuristic styles that he became known for. Cardin has been now been designing for 60 years and his products are used by 150 million people worldwide.

Cardin was born in San Andrea de Barbara near Venice, Italy on July 7th 1922, to parents who were French by birth. While his father hoped he would take up the family trade, winemaking, Pierre was fascinated by the arts, taking an interest in ballet and the theatre. He had aspirations to be an actor, but also was interested in the dramatic costumes he saw onstage. At 14, he moved to Vichy and became apprenticed to a tailor, and at 17 became a tailor in his own right. During World War II he served in the Red Cross.

In 1945, Cardin moved to Paris to study Architecture at Saint Etienne , where he made many contacts that would further his career. During this period, he worked in the houses of Madame Paquin and Elsa Schiaparelli, before becoming the head of workroom for Christian Dior in 1946, helping to design the ‘New Look’. He also did costume design for films, including Beauty and the Beast (1946), inspiring him to open his own fashion house and sparking the beginning of his own style.

Cardin’s style comes from an interest in what is next. The way he describes it being: “The clothes I like best are the ones I invent for a life that doesn’t yet exist: tomorrow’s world.” Even from his beginnings at Dior, Cardin’s interest in architecture comes though very clearly in his garments. His style is always very structured and contrived, working against the natural curves of a woman’s body and creating unusual shapes that do not occur naturally on the human form. The idea can be seen in his design philosophy, “What comes first is the shape. Then the material, which expresses the volumes, fluidity, softness. The colour is the last thing. To bring a shape to life, the proportions must be right.”

In the 1950’s, just after establishing his own fashion house, you can see that Cardin is still strongly influenced by the work of others, Dior especially. However, he slowly begins to add elements that are of more interest to him. In the associated image, you can see that the dress is tight at the natural waist, with what could be considered a pencil skirt, but the extra folds of fabric add something to the silhouette that was completely unheard of for that time. As the decade went on, Cardin rejected the accepted silhouette of that time entirely, opting instead for loose tent shaped dresses and boxy suits that would be seen more often in the next decade. Cardin’s move from avant-garde to space-age was imminent.

By the 1960’s, Cardin’s inspiration came not only from architecture, but even more basic geometric shapes, Op Art and above all, space travel. In the image from 1962, you can see the beginnings of this idea taking shape in the unusual choice of headgear on the model. The coatdress is simple, unadorned and loose in relation to the body, a piece that would probably be seen as classic today, whereas the headpiece makes the model look prepped for space travel. In the Bubble cape, one can clearly see how Cardin’s interest in simple geometric shapes was translated into high fashion. This garment could be considered a signature piece of Cardin’s, it has an unusual shape that does not conform to a woman’s curves, it has geometric patterns as a detail and it incorporates only a few colors. The Space Age body stockings were a favorite of Cardin during this period. These striped versions were paired with miniskirts and visors, completing a look chic enough to be worthy of the father of Space Age Fashion.

Cardin also started doing menswear during this period, not out of the question due to his strong tailoring background. He sought to make the traditional men’s suit highly fashionable, and attempted to do so by creating a high buttoned collarless jacket that could be dressed down with the addition of a turtleneck sweater.

Cardin’s interest in simple shapes evolved in the 1970’s to encompass spirals. The associated Spiral dress image is one example of his expression of this shape. While it is simple on the top, each spiraled portion stands on its own and is able to hold up the bottom ring. The way each piece is curved ensures that the white portion of the dress is the same, no matter what angle it is seen from. The dress with the rounded hem shows that Cardin was still very in touch with his aesthetic during this period, it still has unusual shapes, minimal adornment and the geometric interest that Cardin’s garments all include.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s Cardin became focused on building a brand name, taking a backseat in his fashion empire. He has sought to put his name on everything; furniture, jewelry, perfume, household accessories, even food products. In 1996, he claimed, “I may design everything from chairs to chocolate, but fashion is still my first love.” He has proved this recently by coming back to the fashion world. His most recent collection was met with critical confusion for the most part, but for someone who has followed Cardin’s signature styles through more than 50 years it is easy to see his influences and references. In the first image, the spaghetti strap mint and lavender tent dress looks simple today, but has an almost shocking amount of detail in comparison to past works. The elements still remain, basic patterns and few colors with a silhouette that is looser, but there is a more modern feeling to it. The second image from this collection, the Op Art dress, references Cardin’s interest in the movement’s ability to deceive the eye. The circular patterns on the dress and hat are reminiscent not only of the simple geometry that remains his signature, but also of the Op Art craze of the 1960’s.

Today, Cardin is looking to sell his fashion empire, and focus more on his political and humanitarian ventures. He is waiting for someone who will maintain the brand and its integrity, and wants to ensure that his 200,000 employees remain in good standing. Though he built the brand from the ground up, Cardin insists that the people are more importan

Jewelry designer Robin Stelling has a passion for color, which is clearly visible when you look at her work. She takes pride in recycling the antique and vintage textiles she has been collecting over a span of many years into a new line of eco-friendly jewelry. Her company, Creative Beadz, is based out of her studio in Marin County where she designs and creates each piece by hand. Her aesthetic combines unique fabrics with gemstones, beads and other vintage found items.

After earning her fine art degree from UC Berkeley, Stelling enjoyed worked for a few years in graphic design, computer graphics and packaging design, a resume of which she seems quite proud. Stelling produced hours of computer animation projected onstage during the Grateful Dead’s last two years on tour.

For the past 10 years Stelling has been successful selling jewelry supplies and fine gems online. “I now love creating this new line of jewelry and am inspired by the skill and talent of traditional craftspeople around the world.” Stelling says about her current line of work. Being green is incredibly important to her, which is why all her materials are recycled and repurposed, and why all her work is done by hand.

Stelling’s collection is currently available for purchase in the Textile Center Shop National Center for Fiber Art in Minneapolis, MN, as well as from her website online. She frequently attends craft fairs and shows her work in and around the Bay area.

Tokyo

Ginza is essentially the Beverly Hills of Tokyo, so you might not expect that the hottest new restaurant in the area to be a Danish Café. Their cuisine is sushi inspired fare with traditional Danish ingredients, charmingly named Smushi. It’s the first eatery in the area to offer outdoor seating, a novelty that has been well received by locals and tourists alike.

Paris

Every July, a small suburb of Paris, hosts the La Villette Jazz Festival comprised of over 50 venues, including churches and auditoriums, in addition to traditional concert halls. Last year Sonic Youth drew an enormous crowd; this year’s huge draw will be French superstars L’Amerique.

Miami

En Avance, a boutique in the Design Distict of Miami, a high end retailer carrying mostly European labels, speaks well of veteran owner Karen Quinones. She travels widely and always seeks to bring back a fresh designer’s perspective. This year it’s P. Art from Ibiza, whos style fits the Miami aesthetic to a ‘T’.

Next up is a short essay, my first assignment for the class. It’s just like urgh, maudlin. Most of what is going to be up here is embarrassing.

The population at large does not care about the fashion industry and by extension; they do not care about fashion journalism. That said, I know very few women who do not read fashion magazines on a regular basis. There is clearly a market out there that is hungry for information about new trends, people in the industry, and art and culture in general, all of which falls under the larger umbrella of fashion journalism.

These publications will never change the change the world or be front page news, but that doesn’t make the information irrelevant. Readers will make day to day decisions based on what they read in fashion publications, therefore what journalists in this industry write impacts the lives of their readers significantly. Fashion provides an avenue through which everyone can be creative and original. Not everyone is an artist, born with a frenetic, pathological need to create, but everyone does want to express themselves, to one way or another show the world what makes them great, and fashion provides that opportunity for them.

I, personally, do not plan to go into fashion journalism. My path through the fashion industry will be a little more tangential; but in costume design I will need to express a character and a mood visually through fashion. In order to be able to express different perspectives in costume, I will certainly have to read many fashion publications and glean information about modern style, which is what makes it important to me.

So, it’s clear that I have not been posting on this blog in recent, well, we can say years and that’s technically true. It happens that I am now taking a journalism class, giving me reason to post once again! So here we stand.

I will begin by posting my Fashion Log, a small list of things I don’t know about fashion from my readings in recent months.

New Vocabulary

Sartorial – Of or relating to clothing, style, type of dress

Panache – A flamboyant manner and reckless courage. Literally translated to plume from French

Presages – A sign or warning that something, typically something bad, will happen; an omen or portent.

Interminable – Endless

Pogrom – An organized murder of a particular ethnic group

Gestalt –  A structure, configuration, or pattern of physical, biological, or psychological phenomena so integrated as to constitute a functional unit with properties not derivable by summation of its parts

Dissipation – The act of dispertion

Credenza – A sideboard, buffet, or bookcase patterned after a Renaissance credence; especially : one without legs

Superlative – Something that surpasses all others of its kind

Designer Information

Ralph Rucci – An American fashion designer and artist, of the Chado Ralph Rucci line.

Einar Holilokk – The designer for Geoffrey Beene

Behnaz Sarafpour – Behnaz Sarafpour is a New York City-based designer who introduced a line of women’s apparel bearing her name in 2001.

Editors and Publishers

Industry People

Seth Weisser – Owner of What Goes Around Comes Around, a vintage store in New York

Diana Vreeland – A notable fashion journalist who wrote for Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue

That’s all for now, toodle pip!

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