Saturday, 12 July 2014

Rudie Boys and Girls at Somerset House

If you think that fashion is an attitude and you haven't been yet you can't miss "Return of the Rudeboy". Somerset House's latest exhibition exploring the style, swagger and significance of the 21st century Rudeboy. Created by Photographer and Film maker Dean Chalkley and Creative Director Harris Elliott, the depiction reveals a collective of sharply dressed individuals whom embody the essence of this important and rarely documented subculture. This is a journey through it's aesthetic codes, music, sartorial strut and history from it's early days to the 21st Century.

"Originating from the streets of Kingston, Jamaica in the late 1950s, Rudeboy or Rudie came to represent the young rebels who wore distinctively sharp sartorial styles such as Mohair suits, thin ties and round or squared-out sunglasses.  The style was closely connected to the music movements of the time; their initial inspiration derived from American Jazz and R&B musicians as well as some notorious gangsters.  As is prevalent in the Rudeboy culture, the origins were appropriated and then twisted. The Rudeboy has travelled through time since then and evolved; in the 1980s, Two-Tone brought it right back into the frame.  Today’s young men and women have adopted the swagger and adapted the essence of the original Rudeboy, but for a 21st century generation."

You will find portraits of top travelling tailors Sam Lambert and Shaka Maidoh, from creative collective Art Comes First, DJ Don Letts and even Bob Marley, pretty much unrecognisable as a Rudie (see if you can spot him ;-)

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Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Late, Modern and Censored

Maria Vittoria Backhaus - Fotoromanzootto - Roma 1963

I just got an email about LateAndModern Gallery about their latest project. The body of work focuses on a number of "unexpected" photographs, from the 60s to the 90s, by some of Italy's major fashion photographers; Maria Vittoria Backhaus, Alfa Castaldi (husband of the late Anna Piaggi), Gian Paolo Barbieri, Giovanni Gastel and others.
The images represent the authors personal feelings, his cultural roots and sensitivity, focusing on photography rather than fashion or style. Furthermore these selected works have, for some reason, been censored or refused by publishers.

My favourite works are Alfa Castaldi's Cubism portfolio; his research on a possible photo-cubist technique.

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Monday, 30 June 2014

Peackocks in a digital jungle

What makes London unique is the space given to young talent's experimentation in a city famed for its history and tradition of mens fashion. The push and pull between young and heritage is what gives this city it's energy.

As always fashion shows are a platform for street-styling and this year's Collection:Men showed how comfortable men are in being fashionable. Suits where more a choice than a necessity and there was definitively a sense of belonging to a tribe of very elegant people.

Men turned their finely tailored back to sensible and practical dressing and migrated back to the suit, but what strikes me was the individuality, I was expecting a regiment of East London hipsters in utility jackets and lavish facial hair instead there where Rudeboys, 21st century zen minimalists and men in (shiny red!) finely cut suits. A far cry from the type of man I see on the morning commute at Clapham Junction station but I hope men across London will start following fashion a bit more and add a touch of individuality to their office look, the easiest way is through accessories, maybe a slightly off centre pair of socks (my friends at Oybo do a fine job at that), a pair of well designed and crafted eyewear or even jewelery.

One of Collection:Men's shiny stars is A Sauvage and a couple of weeks ago Eyerespect, who you may remember from my recent post on their collaboration with Top Man, invited me to the latest London Collection:Men exhibition and to see the sunglasses they made for the A Sauvage show.

Adrien Sauvage showed a mix of photorealistic digital jungle prints. African-inspired collage and vintage postage stamps prints by Matthew Craven, bomber jackets, T-shirts and skinny suits. All with a strong pair of acetate sunglasses to complete the look.

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Thursday, 26 June 2014

Hapter at Mint's contemporary cabinet of curiosities

The original plan was to write a post on alternative environments in which to retail eyewear, outside of the usual, uninspiring optician stores. Although there aren't many examples, a recent one did stand out; Hapter's collection at Mint's South Ken store/gallery.

Mint, who sell exquisitely handcrafted one off pieces, sometimes by emerging talents chose Haper for their innovative approach to eyewear and materials, I like the way the sunglasses are displayed, inside a modern cabinet of curiosity.

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Monday, 2 June 2014

Slow Craft vs Fast Fashion

Last week I found a good reason to brave the Oxford Street crowd of shoppers, on a Sunday afternoon. I wanted to see for myself what the Eye Respect collaboration with Topman was all about, also my friend Steven (the proud owner of the work bench photographed below and a craft enthusiast!) promised he was going to explain the whole process, so I headed to their flagship store.

Steven offered each customers  a choice of shapes; a preppy, a panto and a wayfarer-inspired front, in three colours and two finishes to choose from, each frame came with five barrel hinges and CR-39 lens. Once you you picked what you liked, he skilfully assembled each component for you (temples, lens and front) as well as polish the frame if you preferred a shiny finish, all done there and then, on the spot!

I think the success of this project was down to growing nostalgia for a quality and long-lost craftsmanship. Some call it craft fetishism, but I like to think that we are reevaluating quality after so many years of buying cheap products, that we have no connection with because we don't know how and where they where made.

When I was at design college I believed nothing had higher value in design than industrial design, everyone was fascinated with it and saw the natural imperfections intrinsic to craft as something unappealing. Today the mass-produced globalised product is no longer the idol that it once was to designers and people like to have something unique, that they saw in the making.

Here Is a short video on Eye Respect's hand assembled frames in workshop here in London

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