PUNK: Chaos to Couture

Punk is forever, at least from as far back as I can remember, punk has been part of my life.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not wearing Creepers and ripped jeans right now but I did grow up to music by Ramones, Sex Pistols, and The Clash.  My brother was a fan and let’s just say he saw it as his duty to educate me.  This is therefore, the most important item on my 2013 calendar right now; the PUNK: Chaos to Couture exhibition at The Met.

Organized by The Costume Institute, the exhibition will be on view from 9 May through 11 August 2013.  PUNK: Chaos to Couture will examine punk’s impact from its birth in the 1970s through its continuing influence on high fashion today.

To celebrate the opening of the exhibition, the Met Ball will take place on 6 May 2013.  As we have seen over recent years, many high-flyers will be there in their full evening glory, including Riccardo Tisci, Creative Director of Givenchy; and Anna Wintour, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue.

Left: Sid Vicious, 1977. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph © Dennis Morris

Right: Karl Lagerfeld for House of Chanel, 2011.  Vogue, March 2011. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by David Sims.

The exhibition will feature approximately 100 designs by established designers such as  Haider Ackermann, Azzedine Alaïa, Hussein Chalayan, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Christophe Decarnin (Balmain), Ann Demeulemeester, John Galliano, Jean Paul Gaultier, Nicolas Ghesquière (Balenciaga), Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren (Viktor & Rolf), Martin Margiela, Thierry Mugler, Rick Owens, Gareth Pugh, Jun Takahashi (Undercover), Alexander Wang, Junya Watanabe, Yohji Yamamoto, Vivienne Westwood and many many more.

Original punk garments from the mid-1970s will be displayed alongside recent haute couture and ready-to-wear pieces to illustrate how today’s fashion styles have borrowed elements from punk culture.  Expect safety pins, razor blades, spikes, chains, zippers, padlocks and lots of studs.  With the punk concept of DIY and the couture concept of made-to-measure, the exhibition focuses on the materials, techniques, and embellishments associated with the anti-establishment style.

Exhibition themes include Rebel Heroes (mid-1970s New York and London music scenes), Couturiers Situationists (Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s legacy), Pavilions of Anarchy and Elegance (punk designs with haute couture creations), Punk Couture (high fashion and punk hardware), D.I.Y. Style (punk’s bricolage ethos, recycled materials, trash culture) and finally, La Mode Destroy (punk’s rip-it-to-shreds attitude via torn and shredded garments associated with deconstructionist fashions).

This is an exhibition not to be missed.  Andrew Bolton is the curator and Nick Knight is the exhibition’s creative consultant.  Need I say more?

X Sybil

(Image from The Met)


Parsons The New School for Design is celebrating their second annual Parsons Festival from now till 20th May 2012.  Featuring exhibitions, symposia, panel discussions, critiques and special projects that celebrate the next generation of artists and designers working in a range of disciplines, the event has become a highlight in our fashion calendar.

“During the festival, we open our doors to the public to experience the breadth and depth of contemporary art and design practice, and to preview critically engaged and transformative work,” said Parsons Executive Dean Joel Towers.  Through this series of art and design events, Parsons is able to showcase creative and cutting-edge works by their students and hence, allow the community to preview works by the next generation of leaders in art and design.

As part of the festival, the School of Fashion at Parsons presents an exhibition of thesis work from across the fashion disciplines including menswear, women’s wear, children’s wear, accessories, and multimedia installations.  Titled Five Sixty 7th Ave: School of Fashion Exhibition, the exhibition is on show till 20th May 2012 at the David M. Schwartz Fashion Education Center, 560 7th Avenue, Second floor.

Parsons also held its annual Fashion Benefit on 1st May 2012, will honouring Donna Karan and Sheila C. Johnson for their contributions to Parsons, business, and philanthropy.  On the same day, a fashion show, hosted by Parsons alumnae Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs of Cushnie et Ochs, provided a preview of the evening benefit runway and static presentations.  You can see the videos of the Fashion Benefit and runway show here.

x Sybil

(Image from Parsons facebook)

More than just a dress…

The current exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (one of my favourite museums!) features artist Atsuko Tanaka.  A joint project with the Japan Foundation, the U.K.’s IKON Gallery and Spain’s Espai d’Art Contemporani de Castelló, Atsuko Tanaka: The Art of Connecting showcases approximately 100 works, including recreations of Tanaka’s representative works, Work (Bell) and Electric Dress.

Atsuko Tanaka (1932-2005) was a pioneering Japanese avant-garde artist.  In 1955, she joined the Gutai group, an avant-garde artists’ movement in Japan at that time.  Her works gained international recognition after participation in Documenta 12.  Tanaka’s artworks can be seen as abstract works that rejected conventional notions of how works of art should be.  They include different media such as abstract paintings, sculptures, performances and installations featuring the use of everyday objects.

Tanaka’s best-known work is Electric Dress.  First created in 1956, the work consists of approximately one hundred fluorescent tubes and eighty light bulbs, painted in nine colours of enamel paint and worn like a garment.  In fact, the artist wore the dress to exhibitions openings.

On the exhibition, the museum explained, “Her work utilized non-physical materials, such as sound, blinking lights or time, abstracting them in a way that highlighted their existence without adhering to traditional artistic expressions. She also ventured to express her experiments through painting, substituting the light bulbs and wires of her Electric Dress with circles and lines, producing a huge number of variations on this theme over the course of her life. It appears that sometimes the path she took led to extremely radical developments and at others, simple repetitions, but in actual fact, all her works were connected and all were new experiments.”

On show from now till 6 May 2012, visit MOT if you are in Tokyo.


4-1-1 Miyoshi, Koto-ku, Tokyo 135-0022 Japan

X Sybil

(Images from MOT)

Hiroshi Watanabe’s Real Venice

Fearing the intimacy of cinema spaces, I had only recently watched Black Swan on DVD.  Immediately, I am reminded of Hiroshi Watanabe’s works for the recent Real Venice exhibition at the 54th Venice Biennale.  It was on view from 4 June to 30 September 2011 at the Abbey of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice but it is now on show at Somerset House in London.

In Real Venice, 14 internationally renowned artists created a series of original photographic images which are reflective of Venice’s beauty and mystery.  The artists are Lynne Cohen, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Antonio Girbés, Nan Goldin, Pierre Gonnord, Dionisio Gonzalez, Candida Höfer, Tiina Itkonen, Mimmo Jodice, Tim Parchikov, Matthias Schaller, Jules Spinatsch, Robert Walker and Hiroshi Watanabe.

Hiroshi Watanabe has been working on various series of portraits with Japanese themes such as Kabuki actors, Bunraku dolls, Noh masks, and love dolls.  With intent to focus on the rich tradition of masks and costumes in Venice, Watanabe collaborated with the Pantakin Theatre Company for a series of portraits incorporating masks found in Venice.

Selected works by Watanabe by the Real Venice exhibition

Marta Marchi as Strega (Silhouette)

Marco Andreatta as Pulcinella

Marta Marchi as Strega

Alvise D’Ambrosi as Capitano (Silhouette)

© 2011 Hiroshi Watanabe. All Rights Reserved

All artworks in Real Venice have been donated by the artists to be sold in aid of Venice in Peril.

Masks are mysterious, peculiar and enigmatic accessories, as with Venice and her enchantment.  I feel lightheaded and intoxicated by Black Swan the movie, Venice the floating island, Watanabe and his amazing interpretation of disconnection and most importantly, the power and beauty of art.  Today, in my mundane and dreary schedule, something exciting and extraordinary happened and I didn’t even leave my desk.  I believe in the power and beauty of art and hopefully, you do too.

X Sybil

(All images from Hiroshi Watanabe’s website)

Blurring the lines: Pablo Bronstein’s Sketches for Regency Living

I find works by designers for theatre and/or art projects fascinating as they tend to be more melodramatic and at times, overtly-emotional.  I like the intensity and fervour.  Coupled with performance art, it makes a great piece of work.  Case in point: Pablo Bronstein’s Sketches for Regency Living, a groundbreaking exhibition presented in London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA).

Using a wide range of media to explore his interest in architecture, performance, drawing, installation and sculpture, Bronstein draws upon London’s Regency history and that of the ICA building.  Fusing past and present, visitors are transported back in time, surrounded by motifs that reference the Regency period.  However, these architectural designs look strangely modern, blurring the lines between history and present, simulation and reality. See video below.

The exhibition includes a retrospective programme of Bronstein’s dance works; newly choreographed performances; and an original ballet devised by Bronstein and co-commissioned by the ICA and Tramway. Bronstein commissioned fashion designer Mary Katrantzou to create the performers’ costumes.

Pablo Bronstein: Sketches for Regency Living is on show from now till 25 September 2011.  Institute of Contemporary Arts is located at The Mall, London, SW1Y 5AH.

X Sybil

(Image from ICA and style )

It is Hussein Chalayan’s turn!

Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris has organised an exhibition on Hussein Chalayan.  Showcasing his works from the past 16 years of his career, it’s evident that Chalayan’s experimentation with technology and innovation is extraordinary.  One of the highlights includes his iconic dress-turned-wooden skirt-turned-coffee table creation.  Known for his use of unconventional materials,  Chalayan’s graduate collection was entitled Tangent Flows and consisted of garments that has been oxidised after being buried for three months in his garden.  On show are also films and installations commissioned as art pieces by various art organisations.

Collection Readings, printemps/été 2008, © Christopher Moore

On his fascination with unconventional methods of construction, he explained, “It wasn’t a decision. As I am a curious person and an ideas person, everything I do is imbued with my curiosity and my love of exploring ideas.”  Read his interview with AnOther here.

Collection Airborne, automne/hiver 2007, © Christopher Moore

Hussein Chalayan: récits de mode is on show from 5 July to 21 November 2011 at Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris, located at 107, rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France.

X Sybil

(Images from Les Arts Décoratifs‘ website)

Calligraphy and fashion: Hiroko Koshino

Renowned fashion designer, Hiroko Koshino, has combined her calligraphy and painting talents with her innovative interpretation of the traditional Japanese dress for her latest exhibition.  Koshino will exhibit her Fall Winter 2011-2012 collection alongside her sketches and calligraphy at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris, from 7th to 10th July 2011.

Koshino’s roots in design and fashion arun deep. Her grandfather was a dealer of antique kimono fabrics, her father was a tailor, and her mother managed a western clothes store. It made great sense then, that Koshino’s trademark is an updated version of the kimono, with exquisite textiles and prints of her own designs.

While taking over her mother’s store after graduating from Bunka Fashion College, Koshino served as the in-house designer of the Ginza Komatsu Store (currently Ginza Komatsu), and eventually opened her haute couture store in Shinsaibashi, a prime location in Osaka.

In her own words, Koshino said, “Art has always been my grand passion throughout my life. It is therefore my pleasure to welcome you to the heart of my universe; a unique union of art work, and fashion. Focusing on the most artistic elements of my work, this annual exhibition introduces to you my paintings, calligraphy, as well as textile designs which are born from my art, and selected pieces from my 2011-12 Autumn/Winter collection. I invite you to share this special moment, and to discover and explore the world of my creativity.”

X Sybil

(Images from Koshino’s website and Luxuryculture)

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