What Do We See

What we do see depends mainly on what we look for. … In the same field the farmer will notice the crop, the geologists the fossils, botanists the flowers, artists the colouring, sportsmen the cover for the game. Though we may all look at the same things, it does not all follow that we should see them.”

John Lubbock
The Beauties of Nature and the Wonders of the World We Live in

 
 

Editorial To Me You Are a Work of Art. Photography by Dirk Alexander. Styling and illustration by Nicola Formichetti for Dazed Digital. Model: John Kharalian. All clothes by Mugler SS 2013 Collection.

“The shoot is a Nicopanda and Mugler mash-up,” Formichetti explains. “I do these illustrations for my brand Nicopanda and come up with new characters everyday. This one’s called “Chetti” and it’s an amoeba-panda! It’s a virus affecting the Mugler world, I wanted to do a shoot where Mugler and Nicopanda got mixed up, two completely different worlds living in the same dimension.”

 

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Giving Birth to a New Race

“The nexus of Born This Way and the soul of the record reside in this idea that you were not necessarily born in one moment. You have your entire life to birth yourself into becoming the ultimate potential vision that you see for you. Who you are when you come out of your mother’s womb is not necessarily who you will become. Born This Way says your birth is not finite, your birth is infinite.”

Lady Gaga
(talking about the meaning of Born This Way)

 
 

 
 

The first song written and recorded for the album was the title track itself which she wrote in Liverpool and Manchester, England, described by Lady Gaga as a “magical message” song. She wrote it in ten minutes and compared the process to an Immaculate Conception.

“I want to write my this-is-who-the-fuck-I-am anthem, but I don’t want it to be hidden in poetic wizardry and metaphors. I want it to be an attack, an assault on the issue because I think, especially in today’s music, everything gets kind of washy sometimes and the message gets hidden in the lyrical play. Hankering back to the early ’90s, when Madonna, En Vogue, Whitney Houston and TLC were making very empowering music for women and the gay community and all kind of disenfranchised communities, the lyrics and the melodies were very poignant and very gospel and very spiritual and I said, ‘That’s the kind of record I need to make. That’s the record that’s going to shake up the industry.’ It’s not about the track. It’s not about the production. It’s about the song. Anyone could sing Born This Way. It could’ve been anyone.”

Nick Knight directed the accompanying music video, which was inspired by painters like Salvador Dalí and Francis Bacon and their surrealistic images. Gaga is depicted as giving birth to a new race during a prologue. A series of dance sequences later, the video concludes with the view of a city populated by this race. Critics noted cultural references to the work of Madonna, Michael Jackson, Björk, late fashion designer Alexander McQueen, as well as to Greek mythology, magical realism and surrealism.

Laurieann Gibson explained the inspiration behind the video to MTV News:
“When she played it for me, it took me a while to find out the visual interpretation that I could give back to her. And so I woke up one night and I got it, and I said, ‘I got it: We have to birth a new race.’ From the gate, Gaga was like, ‘I want Nick Knight for this video. I want a visual.’ She was always birthing something visual in her head, and Nick Knight is just, well, he’s prolific but he’s so genius. It was about pushing the bar of what a music video should be and can be. […] It’s a different time; it’s a different era; there are no limits. It is a viral message. I think that there’s something in there for everyone, and that’s what’s so amazing about the video and so specific about the message.”

Released on Monday, February 28, 2011, the video begins with a brief shot of a unicorn’s silhouette in a steam-filled alley, inside a pink triangle frame. The triangle transitions to a shot of Gaga, with two opposite facing heads, inspired by Janus, the Roman god of transition and beginnings, sitting in an ornate glass throne amidst a star-filled space. As Bernard Herrmann‘s prelude to the movie Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958) plays, Gaga tells the story of the creation of an extraterrestrial race that “bears no prejudice, no judgment, but boundless freedom.” Gaga sits in the throne, giving birth to a “new race within the race of humanity.” She explains that this was followed by the birth of evil, due to which Gaga splits into two opposing forces of good and evil. Her new half gives birth to a machine gun and fires it. The prologue concludes with Gaga questioning, “How can I protect something so perfect, without evil?”

 
 

 
 

The video featured full-bodied tattooed model Rick Genest (Rico), better known by his stage name Zombie Boy. Gaga painted her face in a similar way to Genest, in one of the main series of sequences. She said that the sequences displayed the fact that she would not allow society or critics to dictate her sense of beauty. “I tell you what I think is beauty, and hence the scene was of me and Rico defining ourselves in artistic way and not relying on society to dictate it,” she added. The costumes for the video were designed by Nicola Formichetti, who blogged about the various designer pieces shown in it. In the opening sequence of the video, Gaga wore a head accessory by Alexis Bittar, a diamond neckpiece by Erickson Beamon with earrings by Pamela Love, and a stained-glass dress by Petra Storrs. Finger rings were provided by Erickson Beamon and chiffon clothes by Thierry Mugler. For the skeletons sequences, both she and Rico wore tuxedos by Mugler while the slime during the orgy scenes were courtesy of Bart Hess. For her Michael Jackson impression in the alley at the video’s end, Gaga wore shirt and pants by Haus of Gaga, shoes by Natacha Marro, a Billykirk belt and LaCrasia gloves.

The Reverent Tastemaker

Stefano Pilati. Photograph by David Bailey. Published in Vogue, September 2004

 
 

Stefano Pilati’s 2004 debut at Yves Saint Laurent (Brand)—hot on the heels of Tom Ford’s sensational departure from the exalted French house—was one of the most anticipated in fashion history. The debonair Italian, then a relative unknown, was the third in a string of designers-cum-dauphins charged with the seemingly impossible task of maintaining a covenant with Saint Laurent’s epic legacy while creating new codes that would give the label contemporary relevance.

“There is nothing that Saint Laurent didn’t think of first,” Pilati said, upping the ante even further.

So how did the Prada– and Ford-trained designer tackle the challenge? With stubborn individuality. In seasons of hypersexed fashion, he showed polka dots and body-enhancing, ruffled dresses that, he said, “came from a memory of Saint Laurent in the late seventies.” Many critics balked, but time proved that Pilati was simply ahead of the curve. Notable case in point: the much-copied tulip skirt, which exerted a major influence on subsequent seasons’ silhouettes. “I think what maybe people objected to was that it was quite extreme,” said Anna Wintour of Vogue. “But you need the extremes to move people’s eye.” That first collection, she said, “didn’t look like anyone else’s.”

Pilati continued to stand apart, a latter-day Don Quixote pursuing a vision of grown-up, very French elegance. The fall 2007 and 2008 collections, particularly, were considered breakthroughs for their clarity of conception and purity of form. Critics occasionally remarked, however, that his work was too reverential to the past, that it relied too heavily on Yves-isms. “To me,” he countered in 2005, “it’s simply newer to be classic than transgressive.”

Shortly before the fall collections were mounted in 2012—and after months of rumors—the Saint Laurent company announced that Pilati was stepping down. Although his tenure was broadly respected and considered a success, he had failed to reach the starry brilliance of his predecessors.

Within a few months, however, the press was abuzz again (if perhaps at a slightly lower decibel level) with the news that he would pilot the Italian menswear label Ermenegildo Zegna and its sister brand, Agnona. Those truly in the know were probably not terribly surprised that Pilati would make this Lazarus-like return: A onetime heroin addict—who got his start as a teenage usher at fashion shows in Milan—the tattooed designer is clearly a man of considerable grit. “Work is my salvation,” he once said.

 
 

Source: Voguepedia

In the Land of Gods and Monsters

Lana Del Rey‘s new short film Tropico is a 30-minute visual directed by Anthony Mandler (National Anthem, Ride) and starring model Shaun Ross. Featuring her tracks Body Electric, Gods and Monsters and Bel Air, it’s a lurid tangle of Americana and an extension of her aesthetic, with themes of innocence lost, good vs. evil, and trading your body for money. As she puts it in the iconic words of Allen Ginsberg‘s Howl: “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness.”

Dum Vivimus Vivamus

Dum vivimus vivamus is a Latin phrase that means “While we live, let us live”. It is often taken to be an epicurean declaration.

Emily Dickinson once used it in a letter written to William Howland:

“Sic transit gloria mundi*
How doth the busy bee,
Dum vivimus vivamus,
I stay my enemy!”

 
 

Portrait of Salvador Dalí, Philippe Halsman

 
 

Brion Gysin

 
 

Alfred Hitchcock

 
 

One of the members of Jefferson Airplane by Jim Marshall

 
 

Andy Warhol and Mick Jagger

 
 

Still from Tommy (Ken Russell, 1975)

 
 

David Bowie

 
 

Tim Burton

 
 

Beck Hansen

 
 

Michael Stipe, Mario Sorrenti for Interview Magazine, March 2011

 
 

Lady Gaga and model Rick Genest, still from Born This Way music video (Nick Night, 2011)

 
 

*Sic transit gloria mundi is a Latin phrase that means “Thus passes the glory of the world.” It has been interpreted as “Worldly things are fleeting.” It is possibly an adaptation of a phrase in Thomas à Kempis‘s 1418 work The Imitation of Christ: “O quam cito transit gloria mundi” (“How quickly the glory of the world passes away”).

Tattooed on the Body and Mind

“I think it is all a matter of love: the more you love a memory, the stronger and stranger it is”
Vladimir Nabokov

 
 

“…Comrades mine, and I in the midst, and their memory ever I keep—for the dead I loved so well; For the sweetest, wisest soul of all my days and lands…and this for his dear sake…”
Walt Whitman
When Lilacs Last in the Door-yard Bloom’d
(Fragment)

 
 

Lana Del Rey’s right forearm tattoo in honour of Vladimir Nabokov and Walt Whitman