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fashion

Quote of Note | Nicolas Ghesquière

(Giovanni Giannoni)

“The process and production speeds [of H&M and Zara] are incredible, and I think they have the big bosses of luxury drooling, because everyone fantasizes about achieving that level of efficiency. Yet, for some of these brands the creative aspect gets completely short-circuited; they are clearly waiting for the runway shows to snatch and sell silhouettes as quickly as possible. It can’t be great for the designers there, who probably spend their time adapting what someone else has invented. There have been some very successful collaborations between designers and multinational retailers, especially by H&M, but it questions everyone’s future. These companies will all need strong talent at some point. They are all hedging against this investment and the fact that without an original idea you might make tons of money but you still need a creative source to survive, either to sustain your visibility or, in a more basic sense, to create clothes.”

-Nicolas Ghesquière, newly appointed artistic director of women’s collections at Louis Vuitton, in an interview with Pierre-Alexandre de Looz for 032c

Bill Cunningham Plays Textile Detective in Paris

billAs if you needed further reason to procure a sturdy blue French workman’s coat, throw a couple of old-school cameras around your neck, and call everyone “child” this Halloween, check out Bill Cunningham‘s latest video report. The original street style photographer cast his sharp eye on the idea-laden Paris Fashion Week scene, and while the headline is netting (recall that Cunningham is himself a lapsed milliner), we think he buried the lead in spotting a flowery fabric on the Dries Van Noten runway that originated in the atelier of Charles Frederick Worth. Amusez-vous bien:
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The Art and Design of Deception: Documentary Tells Story of Secret WWII ‘Ghost Army’

Bill Blass Jeep
Friendly Ghost. Bill Blass somewhere in Europe, in a photo taken by his friend Bob Tompkins.

Inflatable tanks, sound effects, elaborately painted faux convoys, carefully crafted illusions. It was all in a day’s work for the American G.I.s—including Bill Blass, Ellsworth Kelly, and Art Kane—who artfully mislead the Axis forces on the battlefields of Europe during World War II. “They conducted 21 different deceptions, often operating within a few hundred yards of enemy lines,” filmmaker and author Rick Beyer tells us. “Their story was hushed up for more than 40 years.” Beyer brings it to light in The Ghost Army, a new documentary that will be screened on Thursday, October 17 at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (register here to attend). Beyer made time to tell us some ghost (army) stories in advance of next week’s screening.

How did you become interested/first learn about the story of this secret WWII unit?
I first learned about it eight years ago when a mutual friend introduced me to Martha Gavin, whose uncle, John Jarvie, served in the unit. Her enthusiasm was the spark that started the whole project. I have always loved quirky history stories, the strange, “can you believe it?” stuff. In fact, I’ve written an entire book series, The Greatest Stories Never Told, that focuses on just that. The idea that American soldiers in World War II went into battle with inflatable tanks and sound effects records was so bizarre, so contrary to every image from every war movie I’ve ever seen, that it immediately attracted my attention.

On top of that was the fact that many of the soldiers in the unit were artists, who used their spare time to paint and sketch what they saw on the battlefield. In fact, the first time I met Martha at a Boston area coffee shop, she was carrying an armload of three-ring binders filled with uncle’s wartime artworks. I was captivated with the way they presented such a unique and intimate perspective of the war. And that’s how I got hooked.

How were GIs selected to serve in this unit?
The Army threw the 23rd together in a hurry, in January 1944, so they assembled it from four pre-existing units. One was the 603rd Camouflage Engineers, which had been formed more than 18 months earlier. The Army had loaded the 603rd with artists, because their initial mission was camouflage. Some were recruited from art schools such as Pratt and Cooper Union. Word quickly spread to other artists interested in finding a way to put their art skills to use in war effort. (Or interested in finding a way to avoid ending up in the infantry!)

Similarly, the Army took a pre-existing radio unit and assigned it to The Ghost Army to handle radio deception. But because they wanted only the very best radio operators to carry out convincing deceptions, they pruned about 100 soldiers from the radio unit, and then plucked skilled men from other units around the country. In general, once it was formed, The Ghost Army had a very high priority status, and could whatever soldiers it wanted.
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Rodarte Teams Up with ‘Magazine Junkie’ John Baldessari for Garage Cover

garage russiaOn these shores, the fall/winter issue of Garage comes in two varieties: one features urban cowgirl Andriana Lima photographed by Inez & Vinoodh (and styled to the gold-and-denim hilt by Carolyne Cerf de Dudzeele), while another features that same image as interpreted by John Baldessari, the subject of a solo exhibition that opened last week at Garage editor-in-chief Dasha Zhukova‘s Garage Center for Contemporary Culture in Moscow. Baldessari’s work also makes the cover of the Russian edition of Garage, for which the artist collaborated with Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte. The cover image (pictured) is reproduced from a collage featuring a trippy blue, black, and pink tie-dye pattern developed for Rodarte’s fall 2013 collection. “We were really honored to collaborate with John Baldessari, as he is our favorite artist and we admire his work greatly,” said the Mulleavy sisters, who have previously collaborated with the likes of Catherine Opie, Alec Soth, Stephen Shore, and Frank Gehry.

Meanwhile, back in the American edition, Baldessari chats with Zhukova in an extended Q&A that weaves among images of his work. The artist reveals that one of his goals “is to be to known for something besides [putting dots over people's faces]. It’s going to be hard.” And did you know he loves magazines? “I’m a junkie,” he tells Zhukova of his predilection for periodicals. Art magazines? Fashion magazines? “Sure,” he answers. As for his relationship to the fashion world, Baldessari takes a more personal approach. “When I get up in the morning, I have a mirror. I think about whether this color might look good with that color. I’m not obsessed with it, but that’s certainly about fashion,” he says. “On the other hand, a former studio manager said that she doesn’t even look in the mirror in the morning.”

Explore 3D Printed Fashion, Food Next Week in California

3D-printed guitars, food, and fashion will be displayed and discussed at Mediabistro’s Inside 3D Printing Conference & Expo next week, September 17-18 in San Jose, California. Join us there and network with leaders in the Silicon Valley tech community.

Design-oriented sessions include “Tools of Creation” and “The Future of Retail and Materials for 3D Printing,” which will be led by Isaac Katz of Electronic Art Boutique and David L. Bourell of Laboratory for Freeform Fabrication.
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Quote of Note | Narciso Rodriguez


Looks from the Narciso Rodriguez resort 2014 collection.

“I was raised in a very rococo, gold-leaf, crushed-velvet, red environment….And my bedroom was the bone of contention in this Mediterranean, French-villa dream. It was white. It had a very brilliant royal-blue rug and black-and-white furniture. One wall had a very graphic black-and-white op-art thing going on. And it was strange for a kid to live in an environment like that….I was always fascinated by graphic art and typography and architecture. And so I was constantly cutting things and making blocks and making buildings out of shoeboxes.

I came from a lower-middle-class situation in Newark. It was humble. But I think from those humble beginnings, I was able to create my own world. And I really loved things that were black and white. It wasn’t until recently that I made a connection through the early years, through different points in my career, where everything is about blocking a sihouette or an environment or a situation….I realize that I live in the same environment I did as a kid, but with less junk and better art.”

-Narciso Rodriguez interviewed by artist Rachel Feinstein for Interview. He’ll show his spring 2014 collection this evening at SIR Stage37 in New York.

I Spy: New Museum Opens ‘Privacy Gift Shop’


An Anti-Drone Scarf, part of a collection of “stealth wear” by Adam Harvey in collaboration with Johanna Bloomfield.

A temporary store for stuff designed to help users evade detection? Such is the lowdown pop-up now operating at New York’s New Museum, which has given over its ground-level selling space to the Privacy Gift Shop. Stop in through September 22 to stock up on clothing and accessories that protect against various methods of surveillance.

Designed by artist Adam Harvey and fashion designer Johanna Bloomfield, the “stealth wear” on offer includes a metallized silk scarf (inspired by Muslim dress) that protects against thermal imaging surveillance, a dollar bill-sized wallet insert made of copper fabric to thwart would-be RFID skimmers, and an optical character recognition-resistant version of the iconic “I ♥ NY” t-shirt.
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Quote of Note | Carine Roitfeld

“I’m very worried about how the movie is received. Of course I want it to do well. I hope that people won’t be disappointed watching me in my daily life, taking dancing lessons. They might feel that I’ve fallen off my pedestal. I don’t know. People think I’m some kind of fashion icon, always perfect; but that’s not always the case. What I would like is for the audience to say ‘Fashion is cool!’ at the end of the movie. Because how I live my life—with lightness and without pretension.”

-Carine Roitfeld on Mademoiselle C, the documentary by Fabien Constant that opens Wednesday in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, and Dallas

Met’s Costume Institute Plans Charles James Restrospective

From the graffiti-encrusted bathroom stalls of CBGB to…the gleaming mid-century showroom of French & Company, as captured (at right) by Cecil Beaton. Prepare to part ways with the punk paraphernalia, because the Met is going glam. As New York Fashion Week puts the focus on spring 2014, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has seized the opportunity to do the same: announcing this week that the Costume Institute’s 2014 exhibition will be “Charles James: Beyond Fashion.”

On view from May 8 through August 10 of next year, the show will explore the legendary Anglo-American couturier’s design process and his use of sculptural, scientific, and mathematical approaches to construct revolutionary ball gowns and innovative tailoring that have served as touchstones for the likes of Oscar de la Renta, who will co-chair the May 5 Costume Institute benefit along with Bradley Cooper, Sarah Jessica Parker, Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch, and of course, Vogue‘s Anna Wintour. Aerin Lauder will act as chair of chairs, as her burgeoning lifestyle brand is underwriting the exhibition.
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Quote of Note | Bradon McDonald

bradon“You have to have nerves of steel in both industries [dance and fashion]. The drive, the focus as a dancer, the fact that your foot is split halfway open and bleeding halfway through a dance that’s two hours long makes no difference—you have to perform. Curtain up. And that is the same thing, every day, in the fashion industry. You have to produce. You can’t wait for the muse to fly out of the sky, and suddenly you design.

The time frame [on Project Runway] is so real. I thought, Okay, they say 30 minutes at Mood, but maybe you get a little extra time? No. It’s down to the second. You have 30 minutes to sketch, and then your sketchbooks go away. A one-day challenge is really a one-day challenge. I thought there was a little extra wiggle room here and there, but there really isn’t, and to make garments in a day that you are proud of is so difficult. You have no patterns, no textbooks, nothing. It was so frightening and thrilling and so exciting and completely exhausting.”

-Fashion designer and Project Runway season 12 contestant Bradon McDonald, a former member of the Mark Morris Dance Group, interviewed by Gia Kourlas in Time Out New York

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