Thursday, October 28, 2010

Water Work

We humans come from aqueous beginnings. Both as tiny pre-babies in the contained sea of the womb and as a submerged primordial life force that grew gills and then fins and then feet after the big bang (that is if you believe in that crazy evolution stuff). Some designers and artists want to get you a little closer to all that wetness. My friend Rahul ("in the know") Sharma tipped me off to the new Robyn video today and it makes a star of liquid fashion. Visual artist Lucy McRae designed the tubular water wear, which is a nice accent to the hot and heavy couple.

Robyn 'Indestructible' Official Video

Robyn | Myspace Music Videos

Lucy McRae's work is fantastic, but she's not the only one looking to make your wardrobe all wet. The designer/artist Charlie Bucket won a Vimeo award earlier this year for the musical video he made of his woven tube textile prototype draining and filling with colored water. Totally deserving of the praise, in my humble opinion.

Fluid Sculpture from Charlie Bucket on Vimeo.

Hypnotic, no?

Hard Work, Paid in Squeals.

I recently began an internship with the Special Collections division of the Library at FIT. This means I pinch myself repeatedly sitting among the stacks of old, rare, unique and oversized works on paper as I do "work" like organizing stacks of storyboards from Esquire in the 1960s, or taking stock of the collection of Vogue magazines--making sure to flip through every page to note any damage. I literally pinch myself, smile, and squeal with glee for 6 hours at a time on this "job". The Vogue assignment has been particularly delightful. So far I've paged through every twice monthly issue of the magazine from January 1, 1936 to May 15, 1938. The only hazard of the job is that my brain is swimming with 1930s dress desire. The clothing, the faces, the makeup and hair! It was all so gorgeous and remains remarkably covetous. How gorgeous? Take a look for yourself. Below is an absolute relic of fashion film. A 1938 fashion show shot at the studio of London-based designer Norman Hartnell in rich Dufaycolor. The film shows you great examples of just what I feel so lucky to swoon over.

I know, I know. Swoon, right? You too can flip through the pages of Vogue (or anythings else fashion-related you might enjoy). If you are a student in need of research, a scholar of any kind, or just a respectful fashion fan with careful hands, you can contact the library to make an appointment to spend some time with the incredible treasures of FIT's collection.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sketch on the Subways

Usually the sketchiness I see on the NYC subways has more to do with undiagnosed mental disorders than it does art. But, part time radio producer and part time techy doodler Eric Molinsky draws stealth portraits of the MTA's less sketchy riders using only his index finger and an app on his iPhone.

The results are a very charming cross section of the train riders straphangers and hopstoppers see everyday. Molinsky captures the mood of the morning commute and the amazing education in humanity (culture, fashion, emotion, oddity, etc.) that is the New York City Subway System. Beyond the great idea to document the daily crowd, Molinsky's sketching skills on the quick are quite impressive.

To see more about his technique, check out the video piece the New York Times ran on Molinsky earlier this week.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Yeezy Does It.

Kanye's crazy. We know this. The mad man whose ego could unfurl down the winding path of The Great Wall of China and still be in reserve, is kind of an asshole kind of often. You could cite a thousand examples of this, or just one that we all remember as an award-winning moment. The thing is though that in addition to his immature petulance being remarkable, West is good, damn good. His word work is arguably second to none. He drops lines that baffle in their cleverness. His music reverbs with intelligence and swift wit, as well as brain wrapping beats that bust through radio speakers and headphones clear across any societal divide. He's a star, and has been since his first wire-jawed crash onto the scene, but now he's a tastemaker and a filmmaker.

My first notice of the 35 minute time clock running down at the bottom bar of West's long-form music video fro Runaway elicited a reflexive mouse over to the fast forward button, but I never made use of it. Besides for featuring West's awesome new crop of songs, the video is expertly art directed. The colors and scenery are hypnotic, sturated and frenetic. Although the director's credit goes to West, (maybe an ego feed?) the video's lifeblood is contemporary artist and credited Art Director Vanessa Beecroft's. Beecroft made a name for herself in the 90s and aughts by gathering groups of similarly styled women into gallery spaces for fashion heavy art sit-ins. Her work was beloved and accepted by the fashion world, which also trades mightily in the gathering of static, aesthetically similar females.

Stills from Vanessa Beecroft performance pieces, 1993 to 2010.

Ms. Beecroft's hand in the Runaway piece mends a puzzle for me: I watched Kanye's VMA performance with its cavalry of same-same stylized dancers thinking that Ms. Beecroft would be proud. Now I see that she's more than inspired the work, she's been involved! West's sonic cinema also gathers other top talents. Philip Lim is responsible for the sartorial aspects, and the legendary, ubiquitous costume magicians at Izquierdo Studio turned model-made-actress Selita Ebanks into a Victoria's Secret version of a phoenix hell bent on setting their fine feathered work ablaze. The always hip Hype Williams is given a writer's credit, which smells funky to me in light of his phenomenal director's reel. Perhaps Hype did more "writing" by directing this top notch video with Kanye. No matter the semantics of titles, the video is obviously the result of some dream team work and obviously an instant classic. Keep it comin' Yeezy (and team) because it's raising the bar so damn high and us fans like it very much.

Friday, October 22, 2010

That's a Warp (and a Weft).

Warp and weft are the two directions that threads lay in a woven piece of cloth. The warp runs vertical to the finished edge of the cloth while the weft runs horizontal.

The idea of integrating two directions of thread so that they become swaths of fabric, for dress or home, is ancient. There are garments fully constructed of harvested materials spun into thin threads and woven into cloth older (millennia older) than the mere idea of Jesus himself. The practice of weaving cloth is a godly one. Not to sound all ecclesiastical or nothin', but look at the fabric of your shirt. Take it in your hand and examine it close. See the interlocked threads? See them looping in and out, over and under each other. See that intricate pattern? Your shirt is probably made by machine, but imagine the incredible skill of a worker constructing that same cloth with their own hands. It's almost impossible to picture how it's done. I can tell you that there is a frame of wood, a couple of crossbars, lots of yarns of identical length strung in careful order over one of the crossbars. I can tell you that a wooden piece known as a shuttle goes between two layers of threads to create a weave, but can you picture that? I couldn't either. But, thanks to the combined efforts of Ms. Desiree Koslin, textile structure extraordinaire and her assemblage of Youtube weaving clips, I don't have to try and imagine it, I can watch it happen. Here are clips of all types of weaving going on all over the world.

A warp weighted loom experiment in America:

Two sisters weaving in Guatemala:

Weaving around a common pillar in Indonesia:

Rhythmic cloth making in Ghana:

A rare draw loom in Fez:

Maybe this is too much unwanted technical information for your fashion loving brain, but each and every one of your most favorite garments and coveted items of clothing come off of a loom (either mechanical or hand done). I for one love seeing the macro and micro of fashion.

I want a loom. Who's with me? We can get one here. Eh?

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Movie Garb

Clark Kent's glasses, those Dumb and Dumber suits, Top Gun's patched leather bombers--they nearly defined the movies they were in. These scraps of costume clothing are iconic and instantly recognizable. Illustrators James Alexander Mathers and Andrew Lau of ad team Moxie Creative reimagined movie posters for classic films starring their sartorial breakouts. The project was completed for men's style site Every Guyed, which is very stylin' indeed.

You can purchase your own prints of the posters for a very chic $30 including shipping. Visit Moxie Creative's site to do so.

Just for good measure, I present to you one of the best scenes of cinema history--the business card scene in American Psycho, the ultimate style pissing match:

American Psycho -- Business Card Scene from Vimeo.

Posters spotted on the ever-wonderful/funny/brilliant The Daily What, which you should all follow immediately.

Go See: Hipsters, Hustlers, and Handball Players: Leon Levinstein's New York Photographs, 1950–1980

Street photography wasn't invented on a blog. Net snappers like Scott Schulman, Garance Dore, and Tommy Ton may be greatly talented, but they aren't original to the degree you might think. While the wireless technology of quick shots and even quicker sharing has made the global street scene an international public venue for fashion and character shows, the real pioneers of the genre were out working in the field at a time when their unsuspecting subjects didn't even know what a camera lens was. Leon Levinstein's work is a black and white time capsule of a mythic New York that was but will never be again: the gritty city of the 1970s.

The small rooms lined with his photos at The Met until the 17th of this month are your windows on that world. The public, in all of its beautifully rough glory stars in the snaps that are cool, grimy, sweet, and stunning.

The thing I admire most about any public photographer is their ability to capture an unwitting subject without altering a moment. Levinstein comments in the show's online material that he's lucky he never lost a tooth or a lens. "Most people don't particularly care to be photographed," he said, "and if you ask them--the picture's ruined." There's a risk in that. I'm glad Leon took that risk again and again, and I'm hoping you'll catch this tribute to his brave legacy before it's taken down.

All photos Leon Levinstein via a google image search.