A Mexican Fiesta in Paris

Jean Paul Gaultier went down Mexico way. All the way. He had a mariachi band. He had gauchos, sombreros, striped peasant blankets, Spanish shawls, enough hand-tooled leather, cowboy boots to outfit an army of gauchos, and cigars. He had a conquistador moment—and then he was into the jungle, weaving leaves with indigenous peoples. Gaultier turned his spring/summer 2010 haute couture collection into a Mexican fiesta in Paris.

The “enfant terrible” of Paris fashion even managed to rope in the Aztecs, via Moctezuma-style turquoise, restyled as extreme corsetry, and paid homage to James Cameron‘s sci-fi, box office blockbuster, Avatar with multi-plaited hairstyles, in the manner of the Narvi, Amazonian tattoos, and tropical, jungle motifs.

Apparently, Jean Paul Gaultier had been to an exhibition about Moctezuma, the Aztec emperor, in London last year, and that—with the side influence of Avatar’s tribal-eco message—is what set him off in this direction.

 
 

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Transformed into a Goddess

Cover art for Kylie Minogue’s Aphrodite (2010). Photograph by William Baker (British fashion designer, stylist, and author and theatre director).

 
 

Outtake for the cover art. The ultimate artwork of the album captures Minogue “transformed into a goddess”

 
 

 
 

The dark blue, metal-adorned, silk muslin gown Minogue wears on the cover of the album was designed by French fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier. It was taken from his Spring-Summer 2010 Haute Couture collection. Gaultier had previously designed the costumes for Minogue’s KylieX2008 and For You, For Me tours

 
 

To promote Aphrodite, Minogue embarked on the Aphrodite: Les Folies Tour, beginning in early 2011. The tour was staged by the creative team behind Disneyland Resort’s World of Color show, and the budget of the tour was reported to be around $25 million. Concert shows were held at Europe, North America, Asia, Australia and Africa. Minogue’s costumes and wardrobe was designed by her frequent collaborators Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, owners of the Italian luxury industry fashion house Dolce and Gabbana. The concert shows were spectacles “loosely based around Greek mythology”

Aphrodite and All the Lovers

“No form of love is wrong, so long as it is love, and you yourself honour what you are doing. Love has an extraordinary variety of forms! And that is all there is in life, it seems to me. But I grant you, if you deny the variety of love you deny love altogether. If you try to specialize love into one set of accepted feelings, you wound the very soul of love. Love must be multi-form, else it is just tyranny, just death”

D.H. Lawrence

 
 

Still from the music video showing Kylie Minogue standing atop a pyramid of underwear-clad couples, which was inspired by the installations of American photographer Spencer Tunick.

 
 

All the Lovers is a song recorded by Australian recording artist Kylie Minogue for her eleventh studio album Aphrodite (2010). One of the last songs to be recorded for the album, All the Lovers was written by Jim Eliot and Mima Stilwell and produced by the former. Stuart Price, the executive producer of Aphrodite, was responsible for additional production and mixing of the song. Minogue felt  All the Lovers summarized the “euphoria” of the album perfectly and chose it to be the lead single from Aphrodite.

 
 

 
 

An accompanying music video for “All the Lovers” was filmed in Downtown Los Angeles by Joseph Kahn, and features Minogue singing the song from atop a pyramid of underwear-clad couples. As the singer wanted to pay homage to her large gay audience, scenes of homosexual couples kissing were included in the video. Critical reception towards the video was favourable, with many critics enjoying its concept and imagery.

 
 

A QR code, said to produce the word “LOVE” when scanned, can be seen printed on various items in the beginning of the music video.

 
 

Writing for New York Press, film and music critic Armond White deeply analysed the music video and found the flash mob, which consists of a few homosexual couples, a representation of the historic 1969 Stonewall riots, a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay community against a police raid that took place at the Stonewall Inn, in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. He also compared the video to two documentaries based on the riots. White commented that through the video, Kahn had corrected directors Kate Davis and David Heilbroner‘s “blundering” in their 2010 documentary of the riots. The critic said that Davis and Heilbroner had misinterpreted the riots and that Kahn and Minogue had offered a more accurate version which was similar to the concept of the 1995 historical comedy-drama film based on the uprising. He commented that the flash mob Minogue organises is “not a riot, not an orgy” and instead “an uprising as the swaying lovers amass and their joy takes them literally higher and higher.” He then concluded of the video:

Kahn’s gleaming fantasy of paradisical urban cleanliness is a creative act that idealizes an historical fact. Like Spencer Tunick, who photographs mass public undressings, Kahn and Kylie emcee a multiracial party; as critic John Demetry points out, restricting participants to the young, pretty, physically fit is part of their idealization. Importantly, Kahn and Kylie serenade their partiers by the Stonewall-era term “lovers” (out-moded by today’s “partner”). Stonewall Uprising is a whitewash; this is a resurrection of affection. Rainbow Pride expressed as Kylie’s bliss” [sic]

On 22 June 2010, American pop group Scissor Sisters performed a country-inspired version of  All the Lovers on the Live Lounge segment of the British radio station BBC Radio 1.  The group performed this version of the song for the second time at the annual Australian music festival Splendour in the Grass in Melbourne, which is Minogue’s birthplace. She joined the group during the performance.

From a Beauty Point of View

Venus as a Boy was released as the second single from her 1993 album Debut (1993). The song was written by Björk and was produced by Nellee Hooper, who produced the majority of her debut album. The single was released in August 1993, a month after the release of the album. The song was inspired by a boy who saw everything from a “beauty point of view”.

It was one of the last tracks to be recorded for the album. The song was inspired by a “specific person” but Björk never revealed who it was. Although, it is supposed that this specific person is Dominic Thrupp (also known as Dom T.) with whom Björk had a relationship at the time of writing. Moreover, the song talks about a boy who saw everything from a “beauty point of view, and not superficial beauty but the beauty of brushing your teeth and the beauty of waking up in the morning in the right beat and the beauty of having a conversation with a person.” as revealed by the singer.

 
 

 
 

The accompanying music video was directed by the British music video director Sophie Muller. The clip shows Björk in a kitchen while she’s cooking some eggs and was inspired by the singer’s favorite book Story of the Eye, a 1928 novella by Georges Bataille that details the increasingly bizarre sexual perversions of a pair of teenage lovers. It is narrated by the young man looking back on his exploits. In one point of the book, a girl, Simone, uses boiled eggs for sexual stimulation.

 
 

 
 

The story of the egg comes as Björk explains:

“ She [Sophie Muller] kept going on about it being fried. I was saying, ‘No way is that book about a fried egg! I’m sorry. Poached? Okay. Boiled? Okay. Raw? Okay. But not fried.’ [And a fried egg is unsuitable because……?] Because it’s too hard. It’s rough and it’s greasy. It should be about being sort of liquidy and wet and soft and open… ”
She gave Muller a copy of Story of the Eye a couple of days before they filmed but didn’t insist that she read it. Muller didn’t have the time. After recording the video and then reading the book, Muller admitted to Björk that “Fried was the wrong egg!”

Much of the cutlery featured in the music video came from Björk’s house.

Björk described the composition of the song in an interview with David Hemingway:

“I think I wrote it in my living room in Iceland and sang it into my dictaphone. Later, by accident, we were going through sounds and I found this broken bottle sound. It wasn’t intentional but it sounded great. It was one of the last songs recorded for Debut – the album was ready to go. Sometimes the more unpredictable side of me does several headstands and flicks-flacks once the album has been delivered and the best song come out.”

The movie Léon (Luc Besson, 1994) features the song in a wordless series of scenes between the two main characters.

 
 

Photos by Jean-Baptiste Mondino on Genealogy of Style’s Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.617458368342940.1073741832.597542157001228&type=1&l=e7c3558a86