‘The overwhelming sensuality of the natural world, whose life force is one of pure desire”
Alexander McQueen by Sarah Burton, Spring/Summer 2015 collection
Etymology Of Desire and Prehistory Of Desire (2010) were the centerpiece of the Alexander McQueen women’s ready-to-wear Spring/Summer 2015 show in Paris Fashion Week. Cast from real flowers and parading, the orchids meditate on the human obsession of ideal beauty, achieved through the manipulation, modification and control of nature.
They were gargantuan, even dwarfing the typically attenuated McQueen models, hiked up on platform boots with a curving calligraphic heel. And they got the point across concisely – exotic, oriental, feminine. All pointers Sarah Burton wanted you to pick up in the clothes.
Maybe Burton was juxtaposing her fashion with art to assert the difference between the two. McQueen is one label that’s often lumped into that “art” category, and her last collection provoked criticism from some quarters for a degree of preciousness that pushed it beyond the realm of ready-to-wear.
The Diary of a Dress: Alexander McQueen Shares the Saga of How One of His Inspirations – A Peter Arnold’s Orchid Photograph – Evolved from Simple Sketch to Production Nightmare to a Stunning Gown Fit for Supermodel Naomi Campbell. Writer: Lisa Armstrong, Harper’s Bazaar, 2004
Kate Moss wearing an orchid printed Cheongsan by unidentified brand. Vogue USA, January 1997
‘Photography has replaced the artist’s eye in the depiction of reality. For most people Kate exists as a photograph. It is harder to draw somebody than to take their photograph. Painting Kate was a challenge in my world, but first I wanted to prove myself in her world — the world of professional photography.’
Porcelain Kate on white background, Nick Knight, 2013.
Moss and Knight have collaborated often – but this is the photographer turning his muse into something 3D, a sculpture. Still, Moss is an angel here so reality is still a long way off
Kate Jacquard Tapestry by Chuck Close, 2007.
Close, a famously meticulous artist, turns Kate into a tapestry. All about a stripped back and natural Moss, this is a reprise – in thread – of Close’s 2003 daguerreotype portrait of her
One of the world’s best-known faces, Kate Moss has long been a favorite of Mario Testino, Bruce Weber, Juergen Teller and a legion of top fashion photographers. But her latest incarnation as a gleaming goddess provides new confirmation that she’s equally as popular with artists.
In fact, the world’s most enduring super-model has probably been portrayed more often than anyone in recent history, and an ever-growing body of art testifies to the true cultural icon she’s become.
The emergence of BritArt, which started to make its presence felt when Kate was already an international star, was certainly a major factor. Moss hung out with Damien Hirst, became pals with Tracey Emin, and at one point was said to be romantically involved with Jake Chapman. Painter Gary Hume famously portrayed Kate in 1996, and it wasn’t long before others followed suit.
In September 2003, W Magazine commissioned leading American art stars to produce their own take on Kate.
“Tous les jours de la semaine
En hiver en automne
Dans le ciel de Paris
Les cheminées d’usines ne fument que du gris
Mais le printemps qui s’amène, une fleur sur l’oreille
Au bras une jolie fille
C’est le nom de la fleur
Le surnom de la fille
Elle n’a pas de grand nom
Pas de nom de famille
Et danse aux coins des rues
Valse des coins des rues
Et les beaux jours sont venus
La belle vie avec eux
Le génie de la Bastille
Fume une gitane bleue
Dans le ciel amoureux
Dans le ciel de Séville
Dans le ciel de Belleville
Et même de n’importe où
C’est le nom de la fleur
Le surnom de la fille”
“Every day of the week
In winter and autumn
In Paris skies by day
The factory chimneys smoke only gray
But springtime arrives, a flower over his ear
On his arm a pretty girl
That’s the name of the flower
The nickname of the girl
She has no first name, no last name either
Dances on the street corners
At Belleville and Seville
Waltz of the street corners
And the sunny days come in
The sweet life with them
The genii of the Bastille smokes a blue cigarette
In the amorous air
Of the sky of Seville of the sky of Belleville
And even anywhere
Sunflower Sunflower Sunflower
It’s the name of the flower
The nickname of the girl”
Intimate, personal, and without pretense is probably the best way to describe Linda McCartney’s style of photography. Having been a photographic enthusiast for years before that fateful Beatles album launch in 1967, she used her talent to capture images others could only dream of. An all-access pass to the world of rock ‘n’ roll over three decades allowed her to shoot the likes of Jim Morrison onstage, Allen Ginsberg over a drink and conversation, pre-Thriller Michael Jackson on a farm and Johnny Depp with Kate Moss hanging out on a porch in the midst of young love.
“Rémonin. —… Il disparaîtra au moment
nécessaire; les dieux interviendront.
Mme. de Rumières. — Comme dans les
Acte ii, sc i.
“Mme. de Rumières. — Qu’y a-t-il?
Rémonin. — Les dieux sont arrivés.”
Acte v, sc x.
A. Dumas fils : L’Etrangère
Now this, then that, may happen, and in such wise;
and later — two years hence, as I surmise —
the actions may be these, and these the ways.
We will not meditate on far-off days.
We for the best will strive. And always more
defective, more perplexing than before,
shall all things fare; until, as in a mist,
we stray bewildered. Then we shall desist.
For in that helpless hour the gods attend.
They always come, the gods. They will descend
from their machines, and straightway liberate
some and as suddenly exterminate
others; and having reformed us, they will go. —
And afterward, one will act so; and so
another; and in time the rest will do
as they needs must. And we shall start anew.
Constantine P. Cavafy
Hung Up is a song by American singer-songwriter Madonna. It was written and produced in collaboration with Stuart Price, and released as the first single from her tenth studio album, Confessions on a Dance Floor (2005). Songwriters Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus generally do not allow anyone to sample any of their tracks, an exception being Fugees, who sampled their song The Name of the Game for their single Rumble in the Jungle.
Originally the video for Hung Up was scheduled to be directed by photographer David LaChapelle. He wanted the video to have a “documentary”-style look, much like that of his 2005 film, Rize, in which five of the dancers from the Hung Up video appeared. LaChapelle and Madonna disagreed on the concept, prompting the project to be reassigned to Johan Renck, who worked with Madonna in her video for Nothing Really Matters. According to an interview with MTV, Renck was directing Kate Moss for a H&M commercial when he received a phone call from Madonna who desperately wanted to work with him. The next day he went to Los Angeles to meet the stylist and the choreographer hired by Madonna, who mailed him with her ideas for the video.The director explained that he “kind of liked that we didn’t have time to over-think this and be too clever, I like being out on a limb and not know what we’re doing and why. Just deal with it, the mayhem, you know?”
Madonna clarified that the video was a tribute to Giorgio Morode, John Travolta and to dance in general. Her dance moves for the video, which were inspired by Travolta’s movies like Saturday Night Fever (John Badham, 1977), Grease (Randal Kleiser, 1978) and Perfect (James Bridges, 1985) took three hours to shoot. Madonna had broken eight bones in a horseback-riding accident a few weeks before shooting the video. Hence she faced difficulty doing the steps as devised by choreographer Jamie King. Renck said,
“She was such a trooper, […] She just fell off a horse! [Madonna said] ‘If you were a real dance choreographer, you could tell I can’t lift my left arm higher than this’ — and it was like, what, a 20-centimeter difference? […] But when she said it ‘hurts like f—,’ she’d take a break and sit down for two minutes. [Madonna]’I have broken ribs, remember that!’ I just can’t imagine dancing like that. Talk about priorities.”
Gucci creative director Frida Giannini designed this particular bomber model exclusively for Madonna in conjunction with her 2006 Confessions tour and television appearances supporting Confessions on a Dance Floor
To watch the music video, please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style‘s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228?ref=hl
Isaac Mizrahi can make things out of tulle or nubuck, but his most fabulous creation is the one he has made of flesh and blood. It is Mr. Mizrahi’s hilarious, happily Napoleonic personality that makes such a treat of Unzipped, Douglas Keeve‘s crafty valentine to the fashion world in general and this irrepressible designer in particular.
And intimacy with his subject — as both a fashion photographer and Mr. Mizrahi’s former lover — only heightens Mr. Keeve’s acuity rather than compromising his perspective. Of course in terms of objectivity, it helps that Unzipped has nothing to do with state secrets and everything to do with fake fur.
A smart, spiky documentary with just the right running time (76 minutes), Unzipped appreciates not only the loony excess that makes fashion such a high-stakes adventure, but also the monomania of Mr. Mizrahi’s creative process. Who else watches The Call of the Wild (William A. Wellman, 1935) and obsesses about the lip-liner on Loretta Young? As Mr. Mizrahi explains to the camera, if you’re going to freeze on the tundra, you might as well do it with your makeup un smudged.
A little while later, he is skillfully trying out the same anecdote on Polly Allen Mellen, a fashion arbiter who is enough to out-doyenne any and all of the characters in Robert Altman‘s Ready-to-Wear. (Comparisons between the two films are invidious but unavoidable. For electricity and fun, not to mention fashion sense, this one comes out miles ahead.) Ms. Mellen listens to Mr. Mizrahi in ways that make it clear his charm is working, and that charm counts for everything in this universe. For her part, Ms. Mellen advises him to “Be careful of makeup; be careful!” She sounds solemn enough to be warning Caesar about the ides of March.
Unzipped is filled with such telling moments and lively walk-ons, not only by power-brokers and Mr. Mizrahi’s business associates, but also by the celebrities who give the designer’s world its spark. It’s no small measure of Mr. Mizrahi’s talents as a born entertainer that he can chitchat easily with gorgeous, scene-stealing supermodels (Cindy Crawford talks about her pores, Naomi Campbell about her navel ring, Kate Moss about appearing in her underwear, etc.) and leave no doubt about who is the star of this show.
Unzipped is neatly structured to follow Mr. Mizrahi through the creation of a single collection, which begins in disaster. When first seen, he is crushed by reviews of his last designs (“Certainly his sense of how a modern woman dresses after 8 P.M. failed him”) and is about to start again at square one. The film understands that this process can look silly while being deadly serious. And it enjoys watching while a man who loves his work and lives vividly in his imagination — a fun place to be — tries out ideas. He’s not even really kidding when he daydreams about a fake-fur jumpsuit, perfect for dog-walking, that could work in one of two environments: Alaska or the Upper East Side.
Mr. Mizrahi is seen auditioning models, talking fabrics, working on sketches and gossiping madly about everyone he meets. (He does a dandy impersonation of Eartha Kitt, whose real presence is smoothly intercut with the Mizrahi version.) Throughout all of this, it’s also clear that he is driven rather than frivolous, controlling his employees and the camera crew with equal precision. When one scene finds him ambushed by upsetting news — Jean-Paul Gaultier has done a Nanook look before the completion of the Mizrahi version — he simply puts his face in his hands and refuses to move. That’s not as good as yelling “Cut!,” but it’s the next best thing.
The candor of Unzipped may be as contrived as the pouf skirts, but that doesn’t lessen its appeal. After all, in what other culture can you overhear people saying “punk and Hasidic” and have the slightest idea what they mean? (They mean a fashion gaffe by Jean-Paul Gaultier.) Even the film’s carefully controlled scenes can be revealing, as in its glimpses of Sarah Mizrahi, who beams at her boy and says “My Isaac made this” with motherly pride. She is all maternal encouragement until, when teased by Isaac, she insists: “That’s not funny at all. I have a very good eye.”
(Only Mary Tyler Moore in her Mary Richards days seems to rival Isaac’s mother as a feminine influence on him. Whatever that means, this film knows enough to leave it unexplained.)
Edited to capture the mounting drama of staging a collection, and filmed by Ellen Kuras in a fluent variety of camera styles (grainy black and white to accentuate the workaday fashion world, exuberant color for the finished clothes), Unzipped builds its tension until it reaches the big day. It looks on as Mr. Mizrahi changes from life of the party into drill sergeant, frantically finishing the clothes and insisting on a see-through ballet scrim to partly shield the models who are backstage. That idea itself becomes a theatrical triumph.
Then the crowd gathers and the show begins. It is alluringly “insane with color” (as Women’s Wear Daily will later gush), and yes, it is exciting enough to make sense of this whole enterprise. You may recall that Ready-to-Wear tried to lend thrills and meaning to this crowning moment by sending models down the runway stark naked. But Unzipped doesn’t have to be that unzipped. It knows why clothes work better.
From left: Stella Tennant in Stella McCartney, Cecilia Chancellor in Luella Bartley, Erin O’Connor in John Galliano, Jacquetta Wheeler in Nicole Farhi, Naomi Campbell in Julien Macdonald, Liberty Ross in Clements Ribeiro, Kate Moss in Hussein Chalayan, Elizabeth Jagger in Russell Sage and Philip Treacy, Jade Parfitt in Paul Smith, Rosemary Ferguson in Markus Lupfer, Jasmine Guinness in Boyd, Lisa Ratcliffe in Sophia Kokosalaki, Karen Elson in Betty Jackson, Georgina Cooper in Antonio Berardi, Alek Wek in Belville Sassoon by Lorcan Mullany, Sophie Dahl in Matthew Williamson, Vivien Solari in Robert Cary-Williams and Jodie Kidd in Vivienne Westwood. Photo by Mario Testino for Vogue, January 2002
Images of Kate Moss by Mario Testino, Vogue, October 2008
In 2003 Vogue UK did a photo-shoot by Nick Knight with Kate Moss styled in David Bowie’s old stage clothes. Red platform boots from the 1973 ‘Aladdin Sane’ tour. The kimono top and shorts were done by Kansai Yamamoto, also in 1973
Fashion: Vera Wang’s silk lace dress. Erdem habit; Early Halloween vintage lace. Beauty: Dolce & Gabbana Perfect Finish Powder Foundation in Warm; Smooth Eye Colour Duo in Cinnamon; Secret Eyes Mascara in Coffee; Classic Cream Lipstick in Petal; Fekkai Advanced Salon Technician Highlight Care Illuminating Cream
Fashion: Gucci’s silk georgette dress. Freire flower.Beauty: SK-II Skin Signature Cream; Dolce & Gabbana Makeup Perfect Finish Creamy Foundation in Ivory; Smooth Eye Color Quad in Femme Fatale; Secret Eyes Mascara in Coffee; Classic Cream Lipstick in Ultra
Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquière’s black and tan silk and cotton dress; I.D. Sarrieri’s black silk bra and briefs. Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquière hat; Shaneen Huxham gloves; Wolford hosiery; Céline shoes
Photography by Steven Klein
Styled by Edward Enninful
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