Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Coming to Verse Chicago

Amazing necklaces made of recycled materials by Ka Pow Wow.
Verse Chicago 773.486.4434

Monday, March 23, 2009

New High (M)art

Since 2007, New High (M)art has pitted itself against the limited scope of Angeleno fashion, which pretty much comes down to East Side Hipsters versus Rachel Zoe. The store's founders, Miho Ikeda and Richard James Brewer, have bravely intervened in this epic struggle, injecting it with a healthy dose of conceptual fashion, along with some spaced-out weirdness for good measure. Nestled in a cozy Chinatown storefront, the operation has nurtured a new generation of undiscovered talent with a series of “store moments,” or pop-up installations with stoner titles like “Cosmic Collision” and “World Fringe: an ethno, boho, afro pow wow.” In their vision quest, Ikeda and Brewer have introduced Alex and Chloe jewelry, Brian Lichtenberg, Telfar and Society for Rational Dress to the fashion-famished masses. Now, with the launch of their new e-shop, you’re just a puff and an interface away from the full experience. It’s transcendent design for the new millennium, man!

Pretty young things.

Andrea Crews. The name itself gives almost nothing away. First, Andrea "can be either a boy in Italy or a girl in Germany," says Maroussia Rebecq, founder of the Paris-based collective. Then there's Crews, which, for her, conjures up images of Tom, Penelope and a crew, or collective, engaged in activism, art and fashion happenings.
Without being nostalgic for hippiedom, how long has it been since the Merry Pranksters piled onto a bus and set out across the United States? Probably close to fifty years. Today, the art/fashion mix is best summed up by Louis Vuitton and Takashi Murakami churning out an endless stream of pricey status collectibles for handbag addicts—more commerce than art.
Artists having their way with fashion is nothing new, but the results are always provocative and, sometimes, startlingly good. Maroussia Rebecq, who comes from France's Bordeaux region, although her name sounds like she popped out of a bottle, began using fashion in her performance art before she moved into her own atelier d'artiste in 2005, thanks to a grant. "After the performances, people started asking me to do clothes and Andrea Crews grew out of that," she says. Now Rebecq is becoming part of the fashion system. "I want to become stronger and understand fashion so I can subvert it," she says matter-of-factly.
Rebecq and her crew work with a ready-made stock of T-shirts, sweatshirts and other casual garments, which they appliqué, screen print and artfully tear apart before reconstructing into completely new garments. While the concept isn't new, the result is anything but predictable. This season's fried-egg dress and the They Say Summer, I Say Sorrow tunic—with the words spilling out like tears from a pair of cartoon eyes over the boobs—look more Marcel Duchamp than Christian Dior.
Andrea Crews’ recent dance performance in Transylvania

And that's where activism comes in. Originally, Rebecq wanted to make fashion as art while saving the planet. That meant having French charities deliver bails of secondhand clothes to her atelier, with the idea of making new, cool clothes out of discards, rather than polluting the environment by starting from scratch. Unfortunately the boutiques she showed the one-offs to didn't get it. "They all wanted to order ten pieces of the one-offs. So we had to go back to the drawing board," says Rebecq.
The Brooklyn-based punk-reggae chanteuse Santogold wears Crews and Yayoi Kusama, the Japanese artist who covers everything with polka dots and lives self-interned in an asylum, has collaborated with Rebecq. There's a YouTube video of this collaboration, in which Crews staged a children's workshop in the middle of a Kusama performance. "It was like her show became my playground," says Rebecq.
Andrea Crews, spring/summer 2009, photos by Rachel de Joode
When one strains to speculate the future of fashion in the post-meltdown economy, Andrea Crews seems like a breath of fresh air. The collective's clothes, which bear a striking resemblance to homemade Halloween costumes, are a pure exercise in style. While the New York Times spins crisis fashion scenarios—basically, men should dress in carpenter's pants from the hardware store and women should turn themselves into a "recessionista" and head to H&M—Crews shows that there is another way. Meltdown mode, if you will.
So don't worry about looking good this winter, next spring or beyond. Just get out the scissors and pull a Scarlett O'Hara à la Andrea Crews.

Fresh Retro: Phonofone II Black Edition

Spotted at Geek and Hype, made by Science&Sons.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Size Matters

01, 22, 16. Nope, it’s not bingo night; it's the filing system at Maison Martin Margiela, where each line has its very own numerical value. Adding to the mathematical fun this fall is a new line of fine jewelry, produced with Italy’s Damiani Group. But don’t expect dangly chandeliers from the bastion of la mode intellectuelle (well, unless they're actual chandeliers). Following previous mind-fricks, the twelve new pieces come in absurdist proportions and Wonderland-esque scale. Bracelets look like super-sized rings, rings look like enormous necklaces, earrings look like…well, you get the idea. We half expect to find a manifesto with a title like On the Deconstruction of Metallic Adornment in the Age of Capitalist Gigantism. But who cares? They’re pretty and shiny, and as covetable as anything else the house has conjured up in the last twenty years. Prices range from $925 to $83,000 (how's that for size?), at Margiela boutiques worldwide, Maxfield in Los Angeles and 10 Corso Como in Milan.