Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Ordinary icons? Stories of modern design

What started as a Boiler House Project in the basement of the V and A, organized by Design Museum founders Stephen Bayley and Terence Conran in the mid 1980s, was originally conceived as a pioneering ‘pop up’ museum.  But London’s Design Museum has ended up storing several thousand items, which will become a permanent display when the Design Museum’s new Kensington premises open in 2015. The entire top floor will be dedicated to icons of 20th century design in a free-entry exhibition.  Meantime, from tomorrow, a snapshot of the permanent collection that will be on show can be seen at the current Shad Thames location. 150 items from the Design Museum’s collection feature in the exhibition: Extraordinary Stories About Ordinary Things.

We mentioned the trend towards ‘immortalization through fashion’ in a previous Curious Trends post - and, for lovers of fashion, this show includes a sample of some of the 400 pieces donated by Design Museum trustee, Jill Ritblat. Her generous gift contains items by many of the world’s leading designers, including Karl Lagerfeld, Issey Miyake, Ungaro, Belville Sassoon and Vivienne Westwood, spanning a period from the 1970s to the end of the 1990s.

The exhibiton showcases an eclectic mix of artefacts, but the fashion pieces on loan for this show - including a Victor Edelstein satin brocade dress and a Jet Set of St Moritz ski suit - are fairly middle of the road in terms of style.

These aren’t necessarily the sort of designs that would have inspired or transformed the habits of a generation, unlike the original iMac, the red telephone box and the Bic biro, which are also featured.

At a press briefing, Design Museum Director, Deyan Sudjic, was at pains to point out that fashion isn’t just frivolous – it’s functional, and a contributing part of the economy too.  “Design is not the same as art,” he also said. So where does art stop and design begin… or vice versa. And what exactly is ‘design art’? I’m curious to know.

PS  Why not add to your own fashion collection with this curiously classic designer vintage Belville Sassoon dress from ShopCurious...

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Tsunami of style

Life size weeping cherry blossom trees were the magical backdrop for Nicholas Oakwell’s fourth collection.  Branches dripped down over the catwalk, causing towering models to wave petals out of their way.
Couture is all about attention to detail – and this show was no exception. Opulent shagreen, (shark or ray skin) used to trim the accessories and clothing even adorned the reverse side of the sumptuous invitation to the show at Claridge's. 
And Roja Dove created a deliciate lilac based perfume ”with an unexpected kick” especially for the occasion.
The ‘kick’ was due to the inspiration for Oakwell’s Spring/Summer 2013 show  - Hokusai’s 19th century woodblock illustration, The Great Wave Off Kanagawa. Japanese art and culture generally portrays a harmonious and balanced image of the nation’s society, showing calm and serene landscapes of flat water and iconic mountains, tranquility gardens and the fragility of nature in the form of cranes and wisteria. But there is the constant reminder of the destructive forces of nature.
The show began with ruffled, fringed and beaded designs, reflecting the foaming waves of a tsunami. The ensuing serenity was embodied in outfits of neutral tones, with the lean silhouettes of 1970s inspired kimono sleeved trouser and catsuits. The regrowth of flora and fauna following the wave were represented by handbeaded and embroidered wisteria, honeysuckle, weeping willow and birds – not forgetting Oakwell’s trademark feather and seqin embellishment. Traditional Japanese hexagon woodblock prints were also intricately woven into the handcrafted designs.

Like ShopCurious, Nicholas Oakwell Couture prides itself on supporting British craftsmanship and “working with the finest artisans around the British Isles.”

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

New dandy style - fashion for gentlemen

London Collections: Men should have its name changed to Gentlemen's Fashion Week, if yesterday’s Savile Row showcase at Spencer House is anything to go by. The event was an elegant display of all things uniquely British and beautifully made – interiors, furniture, art and afternoon tea, as well as men’s tailoring, hats, shoes and accessories.

The presentation, sponsored by The Woolmark Company, was a reminder of the fact that London is still the world capital of masculine style – as it has been for over two centuries – certainly way before Downton Abbey (the television series at least).

A mix of models and ‘London men’ were dressed by Savile Row Tailors, from Ede and Ravenscroft (established in 1689) to Richard Anderson (opened in 2001). The outfits were styled by Jo Levin of GQ Magazine, with accessories from the likes of James Lock and Co, John Lobb Ltd and Holland and Holland.

A delicious tea of sandwiches, mini-cakes and cocktail curiosities was served, washed down with Nyetimber English champagne and King’s Ginger from Berry Bros and Rudd – or a nice strong cuppa.

Spencer House, described as London’s “most magnificent 18th century private Palace,” belongs to the Trustees of the Spencer family and is open to the public on Sundays. You can also hire the venue for private events. I can confirm that it is even more spectacular when lit up by candelabra for a dinner, plus you get a private tour of the house and a box of Spencer House chocolates when you leave. Even the loos are curiously splendid!

Anyway, getting back to fashion… Shopcurious noticed that some of the male guests, like Masahiro Murase (below), wearing Celine, had their own arty and original interpretations of gentlemanly dress.

But British dandy style doesn't have to be traditional...

Monday, 7 January 2013

Funk, fashion and pheasant for groovy guys

A belated Happy New Year!

Christmas has flown by and the past week has been a blur of catching up. On a Sunday night in early January, I fully intended to be sitting quietly at home in front of the television. In fact, I would have been watching the first episode of Mr Selfridge, if I hadn’t been invited to Harvey Nichols for an event to celebrate the launch of LondonCollections: MenThe party was held in the 5th floor café, where curiously creative canapés courtesy of Salon in Brixton Market included crispy fried pheasant and Welsh Rarebit with pickled walnut (yum!)

Guests at the event exuded a cool, offbeat vibe and dressed with a smart-casual quirkiness, like Boy Meets Fashion blogger, Jai’me Jan.

Harvey Nick’s new Fashion Director, Paula Reed, buzzed around, overseeing the proceedings. Amongst the international fashion glitterati, was male supermodel, David Gandy. I squeezed my arm around his waist, and can confirm that his body is just as taut as it looks in the photos.

I later saw him chatting to Men’s Health Style Editor, Dan Rookwood… With so many fit men under one roof, I’m already enjoying this week of men’s fashion.

The highlight of the evening was a special performance by Kindness to preview 1205’s Autumn/Winter 2013 collection. The band members modelled 1205’s forthcoming clothing range, as they wowed the audience with an impromptu jam (see below) in their distinctive contemporary funk style.

Adam Bainbridge showed off his fabulous mane of tousled locks (see top and below), 

whilst the band’s talented drummer rocked an enormous afro. Seems like big hair is getting bigger.

ShopCurious looks forward to more uniquely British men’s fashion and style over the coming week.