Post on April 5th, 2012 in Art and Industry: The business of fashion
I spent Monday afternoon at the Neue Gallery. The exhibition of Ronald Lauder’s personal collection had been on for five months and I had never gone for one reason or another. Monday happened to be the last day of the exhibition, so it was now or never. For those unfamiliar with the Neue Gallery, it is a magnificent turn of the century mansion on Fifth Avenue and 86th that was founded by Ronald Lauder as a museum dedicated to Austrian and German Art.
The building is a fantastic location to look at art and the exhibition is staged in a wonderful eclectic manner. The intricate and ornate details of the building and the variety of the selection, work perfectly, and give you a sense that the creation of art is one long continuous narrative that should not be divided into easy to relate categories for ease of understanding. Mr. Lauder’s collecting tastes are wonderfully varied from incredible early European armaments, to ceramics, and contemporary art. The exhibition has been somewhat divided into a few categories, but the museum is relatively small and I came away feeling that it was one continuous exhibition with one narrative.
My favorite part of the exhibition was in the first room where there are five tremendous Cezanne oils placed closely together and displayed above a group of the most intricate armored helmets I have ever seen. Each one of these paintings is a masterpiece and in other museum they would have been hung in a lonely manner on a large white wall with a large text next to it. Seen together closely packed and displayed with other pieces from a completely different period in history allowed a different perspective. I appreciated them more as individual works, rather than viewing them from the historical retrospective context where Cezanne is rightly heralded as the foundation of 20th century modernism.
To my surprise on the third floor in the last room of the exhibition was one of the maquettes that Matisse made for his screen-printed Ascher Square, Escharpe B. One of four seaweed elements of the 90cm silk screen-prints, this cutout was positioned in the upper right corner of the final square composition. Of the eight original maquettes that were created this is the only one with the whereabouts known, and I was glad to finally see it in person and very proud to see it displayed in such a prominent exhibition.
The quality of the work exhibited throughout the Lauder collection is on a similar standard to the best museums in the world. It is almost absurd when you consider that it is a private collection and it was all collected in the last 40 or so years. The exhibition was really a treat and I hope it instigates other large collectors to share their treasures with the public in a fashion that truly shows their passion for collecting.
Post on May 17th, 2011 in 70 years of Fashion, Art, and Fabric.
I have always had an interest in seeing how advertising and perception of products has changed over the years. I find it very interesting to look through old design and fashion magazines to get inspired by the photography, illustration, and design. I also like to see how editors and advertisers were trying to direct their readers during a given period. The scarf editorial in fashion magazines is of particular interest to me and it has changed very little over the years. The colors of the season and the invention of a variety of different methods to style the scarf have been the primary focuses throughout the years. Looking back through press clipping files from our archive, I have selected some wonderful bits and pieces from the 1940s, 50s, 60s, and 70s. Within our archive we also happen to have a very special collection of the first French fashion magazine from the late 1700s. The last image is a hand colored plate from that collection and is the first "scarf" press/advertising that I am aware of.
A 1960s Vanity Fair Cover
Magasin de Modes Nouvelles, 1786
Post on April 27th, 2011 in 70 years of Fashion, Art, and Fabric.
There is currently an exhibition on at the Philadelphia Museum of Art about Roberto Capucci, the Italian Alta Moda designer. I have not seen it yet, but it looks to be a wonderful exhibition for a designer that is (regrettably) little known in the US and the UK. Ascher worked extensively with Capucci in from the Mid 1950s until the Mid 1960s. He was particularly fond of our mohair fabrics. I have included seven pictures from his 1959 collection, that were created with Ascher silks and some specially woven degrade mohairs. I hope you enjoy them.
Post on April 13th, 2011 in 70 years of Fashion, Art, and Fabric.
I have been meaning to write about Yohji Yamamoto’s book, My Dear Bomb for several weeks, as I picked it up at his retrospective and thoroughly enjoyed it. I have struggled with finding the right way to approach discussing it. The book is blunt, highly opinionated, and endearing as I think all good autobiographies are. I heartily recommend reading it and think it is best to form your own opinions, rather than dilute the work with my personal analysis. Here is a small selection of my favorite passages to tickle your interest.
“Museums are even worse. No designer really wants his clothes displayed in one. They are where fashion goes to die. It is the same with retrospective-I will have no part of them, either”. P.85
“To assume that the future awaits youth would be a fearful mistake. On the contrary, I have far more of a future than most youth. They speak of the ceiling hanging low, pressing down on them from above. I know nothing of that sentiment. Rather than prattle on endlessly about art and concept, one is better served by living.” p.69
“These days the avant-garde has fallen to the status of simply another genre of fashion. In its original sense, the term simply meant being a little ahead of the pack and it did not necessarily indicate iconoclasm or rebelliousness. It is rather easy to imagine and create wildly fantastic clothing with no regard for the realities of the world. The true avant-garde sensibility though is one that acknowledges reality while simultaneously providing a glimpse of the solutions and surprises that tomorrow will surely bring”. P.85
“If one struggles with the basics and plods steadily, painfully, forward, at some point one will discover a mode of judgment and a battle strategy that is entirely one’s own. Endless repetition and the study of the classics. After that one may topple the establishment. It is the same as waging war.” P.63
“I do not believe in anything like enlightenment. Existing in this world are individuals who dedicate their sleazy energies to the creation of something without flaw. Far grander than these, however, are those humans who grapple each day with the realities presented them. They realize that humans cannot possibly produce perfection, and based on that fearless acknowledgment they forge an aesthetic of humility.” P. 119
Post on March 31st, 2011 in Art and Industry: The business of fashion
One of the great gems of London is Hyde Park. As a New Yorker I have an almost blind devotion to Central Park, but I will readily admit that Hyde Park rivals it as one of the great urban parks in the world. Hyde Park lacks the segmentation and privacy of Central Park, but it is nonetheless wonderful. On the way home from work in what was surprisingly spring like weather I decided to alter my usual route and instead take the long way home through the park. I was not the only one with this idea as the many others seemed to be enjoying an evening stroll as well. If you have been to London in the last year, you have probably noticed the blue Barclays bike stations throughout the city. These are a trial project by Mayor Boris Johnson to include rental bikes within the public transport scheme (they are affectionately known as “Boris Bikes”). It is a brilliant idea and the execution, price, ease of use are all fantastic as well. I decided rather than walking to hire a bike and ride through the park. Either the bikes are heavier and more stoutly built that most consumer bikes or I was a little out of practice, but as I rode I seemed to be being passed by children and grannies alike. Regardless of my deficiencies, I enjoyed a beautiful sunset as I rode past several of Anish Kapoors sculpture installations. Kapoors work is currently on display throughout the park and the serpentine. Under the glow of a spring sunset they looked truly magnificent. It is an exhibition that is definitely worth seeing; however I did not stop for a closer inspection as I would think a passing glance in perfect lighting is the ideal way to view these pieces. I have always loved seeing sculpture in an outdoor setting rather than in a gallery or a museum. The exhibition of Moore’s work at NY botanical gardens several years ago was a wonderful example of this, Dale Chihuly's exhibition at the same location was also wonderful. Taking time to explore the park was a great way to end a day and I would heartily recommend that next time you find yourself overwhelmed in one of the worlds large cities, find the nearest park and take a stroll, or a very slow ride.
Post on March 22nd, 2011 in 70 years of Fashion, Art, and Fabric.
The pop up shop came to end and it was a tremendous success. It was great to be able to reintroduce our company, our products, and our family’s story to London once again. Over the course of the month that we ran the shop we met all types of wonderful people from long lost admirers of the artist squares to people intrigued by history of our company and the direction we will take it in the future. All in all it was a wonderful experience, and we can’t wait to get back to London in a more permanent fashion in the future.
With the pop up finally wrapped up I had a much needed day off and was able to finally go across the street and see the V&A exhibition of Yohji Yamamota. The exhibition was certainly interesting. Yamamoto’s designs are absolutely intriguing. I find his design to be incredibly modern, yet the fabrics he uses are intimately linked to the history of Japanese clothing. His clothing reminds me of abstract, organic, sculpture. The exhibition is laid out in wide open room with mannequins dispersed throughout. The layout allows you to see the clothing from 360 degrees and really appreciate the attention to detail that goes into each piece. You are also allowed to touch and inspect the pieces allowing you to appreciate Yammamots mastery of cutting. The pieces are lit in the all too trendy fashion of exposed fluorescent bulbs emitting a harsh white light. The lighting does not do the work justice and the sculptural nature of the bulbs distracts from the focus of the exhibition. This is a display trend that needs to end as it seemingly has invaded most window displays and exhibitions in London. There are several pieces in the exhibition that absolutely wowed me in terms of their form, and in addition to the fact that they actually looked to be wearable. I won’t waste anyone’s time recounting any individual pieces, but I would wholeheartedly recommend that you go see it yourself, and take the time to really inspect your favorite piece as it is not an opportunity often afforded at museums.
Seeing the pieces in person was the highlight for me. The cutting and draping of his work is really unbelievable. Cutting is a craft that I find is often underappreciated. It is a fine balance between mathematical precision and art and seems to only be able to be mastered with a lifetime of practice.
I am always a little disappointed to see clothing like this on mannequins as to truly see the designers original intentions, it needs to be worn and flowing. On the way out of the exhibition I picked up a copy of My Dear Bomb, by Yohji Yamamoto. It is an autobiography and book of poems that focuses largely on Mr. Yamamoto’s personal principles, thoughts on design, and a general discussion of his craft. After having read it over the weekend I became quite conflicted about the intent of the exhibition, as it would seem to me at complete odds to Yamamoto’s well defined and uncompromising personal principles. The book was rather wonderful and honest, and I will have to take the time to write about it in a subsequent post. My suggestion would be to read the book and than go see the exhibtion.
(The Cover - Find it)
Post on March 8th, 2011 in Art and Industry: The business of fashion
For those of you that havent had a chance to make it to our Pop up exhibition on Brompton Rd in London, here is a little video.
Post on March 7th, 2011 in Art and Industry: The business of fashion
This question is posed to us quite often about our scarves. We usually proclaim that a scarf by its definition should be worn and appreciated. In conceiving scarf designs much thought is given to how the pattern will appear draped and how colors will work when layered together. When framed this aspect of design is left somewhat underutilized. In the case of many of the limited edition artists’ scarves done in the 1940s, people are somewhat incredulous that we would suggest wearing them. In response to this I thought it would be wise to give a step by step account of how from our experience a scarf is to be properly framed.
Framing a silk scarf is no easy task. Silk by its very nature is difficult to keep flat and placing it within a frame and under glass only complicates matters. All fine scarves without a fringe have a hand rolled edge, and this can also complicate further as it means that they are not perfectly square.
Find a beautiful scarf that you think would look lovely on your wall. For a 90cm x 90cm traditional headscarf figure on the frame being about 110cm square.
Make sure the scarf is clean and if necessary, take it to a trusted dry cleaner. Make sure any creases are lightly steamed or ironed out on a very light setting. (It would be a shame to realize once framed that there is make up on it)
Step 3 – Stretching
This is probably the most often overlooked step and is the most complicated. In order to enjoy the whole composition on the scarf it must be mounted and stretched on another larger piece of fabric. Never stretch the silk directly around a wood stretcher as you will limit what you can see of the design and also ruin the scarf!
The additional piece of fabric serves as the matte and the colour must be carefully considered with both the colors in the design and the framing that will accompany.
The fabric selected for the backing should be a strong cotton or linen, colour fast and acid free if possible. The backing should be stretched just like a canvas around a wood stretcher.
Step 4 - Sewing
The scarf must be hand sewn onto the backing fabric. Using a clear thread just underneath the hand rolled hem is the least visible. Pin the corners to make sure the scarf is level and straight while you sew is also very helpful.
Step 5 – Framing
Now that the scarf is mounted and stretched framing is very straightforward and can be framed just like any other canvas. Whether or not to include glass in the frame is up to you, but understand that uncovered fabrics can gather dust over time.
We like to use black backing fabric and a relatively narrow black frame as it really allows the design and bright colors to speak for themselves, however like with any other framed thing there are thousands of options to fit the décor or style of your home.
We don’t at this time have step by step pictures of this process, but we may add them in due course. I have included some pictures of some of the limited edition pieces that are currently on display in our London Pop up exhibition. I apologize for the reflections in the photos.
Post on March 1st, 2011 in Art and Industry: The business of fashion
About a week ago we launched our first ever pop up shop and exhibition in London at 221 Brompton Rd, located between the V&A and Harrods. The shop will be open until March 15th and features a display of some of our new designs from this season, in addition to an exhibition of thirty-three of the Ascher Artist Squares from the 1940s. The Artist Squares have been framed and displayed beautifully in a gallery format. The last time that this exhibition was shown in London was twenty four years ago, when we had a V&A retrospective about our company. I have had the privilege of keeping shop for the first week and have got to chat with all types of people about our company, our current products, and our heritage.
I have never had the experience of working in a shop before and it has really been a lot of fun, and I have found it very useful to get direct feedback from customers. The logistics of setting up a pop up shop are quite intimidating, in our case we had to take a raw space and make it functional and interesting in about three days time, in addition to having a small party the night before we opened. I think the end result turned out very well and I am glad for all the help and effort that went into making the shop a success. If you are in London and have a chance to stop by, please do.
Post on January 11th, 2011 in 70 years of Fashion, Art, and Fabric.
I have always loved the preface to Oscar Wilde’s work The Picture of Dorian Grey. It gets me thinking about the importance of art and design. It also makes one think about the role of fashion as a creative endeavor, as art and utilitarianism are according to Wilde, mutually exclusive. It is a very complicated bit of writing, and could be discussed at length, but I will leave that for others to do, and simply attach it to provoke what thoughts it may.
Preface to The Picture of Dorian Grey
The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim.
The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.
The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography. Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.
Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty.
There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.
The nineteenth century dislike of realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass. The nineteenth century dislike of romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass.
The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium.
No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved.
No artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style.
No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything. Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art. Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art.
From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician. From the point of view of feeling, the actor's craft is the type. All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.
Those who read the symbol do so at their peril. It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.
Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital. When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself.
We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.
All art is quite useless.
- Oscar Wilde