Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Eastern Perversion

    I spent nearly a half hour staring at nude photos. I clicked through image after image, unable to tear myself away: a man getting a blow job whilst climbing a tree, an alabaster nude stretched amongst the rushes, a nether region portrait in a pocket mirror frame.

    Bare-skinned & barren of apologies are the disrobed youth of Beijing-based photographer/poet Ren Hang’s snapshots of a Chinese subculture not often portrayed. Poetic, funny, playful, & sometimes just downright shocking, Ren’s photographs are small unfettered moments that toe the line between the candid and the staged. Using his friends as subjects, fetishistic moments are softened by an intimacy of impulse, somehow coming off as both hauntingly sincere, & completely obscene. His subjects are unconcealed, exposed to flat light, captured in their most privy of moments, and yet they face the lens with a quiet nonchalance that proves all the more provocative given the world they grew up in. 
    There has been no proverbial ‘walk in the park’ or ‘slice of cake’ for Ren Hang in his artistic endeavours within his native country; none of the Chinese press will publish his books, most galleries refuse to show his work, and the few with enough daring were repaid in heisted pieces, spit-slicked canvas, and official overtakings. Thankfully, (and not surprisingly given the surging interest in Eastern dissident art as China emerges in the commercial/political/economic spotlight) Ren's work has been lauded in critical acclaim across borders. Which is not to say that he hasn't drawn interest within his own country; his photography has caught the eye of Ai WeiWei, who invited him to show alongside 37 Chinese new wave art scene consorts at the FUCK OFF 2. exhibit this year in the Netherlands. Perversion of the state, and a healthy perversion of the mind- two things that I'm feeling for my mid-week mull-over. Enough with the words- on with the nudity!

More Ren Hang here
FUCK OFF 2. at the Groninger Museum here

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Sketch Sense: Cecilia Carlstedt

    I will not, as most others on this day of "the beginning of spring", be filling this post with the pastel-hued visual equivalents to equinoctial frolicking. If you are one amongst the Vancouver inhabitants currently hiding out behind mugs of tea, or bravely (and ineffectually) duelling the gusts of frigid wind with your umbrella, you might understand the acerbity of this dissent. 

    So if you're looking for a re-post op of downy lambs or the freckled mosaic of sunlight on tulips, you might try the blogs of those residing in L.A.

    What you will find however, is an additional 'YEA' in the generational debate over whether fashion illustration still maintains relevance and weight... 

    ...which, as evidenced by Cecilia Carlstedt's work for the likes of W Mag, Swarovski, The Wild, and J. Lindeberg, has proven to be less of verbal tete-a-tete, and more of a "shut up and just LOOK at what these folks are doing" kind of scenario. 

    It was therefore with joy and the slight alleviation of my seasonal impatience that I discovered that Tony Glenville (Creative Director of the School of Media and Communications at the London College of Fashion), will be releasing a tome dedicated to the plight of the New School for old-school illustrators. The book, which will feature the work of the lovely Cecilia C., identifies and profiles the renderings of 28 of today's contemporary illustration icons. Perhaps something to take our minds off of our drenched disappointment whilst we wait for this 'Spring' to arrive?

New Icons of Fashion Illustration is set to be released in April, and may be found here

For more C.C. delights, check out her website

Sunday, 24 February 2013

A Decent Proposal

    Relinquish your offspring wardrobe vigil, and hang up your As Seen On Tv Cleavage Covers (or better yet burn them...your girls deserve better than a cheap polyester loincloth in 3 'easy-to-match' colors). For the upcoming Fall season, it looks as though bosoms be bridled across the board. Abstemiously buttoned collared shirts, collar-bone covering boat-necks, and shallow scoops prevailed on the runways, and on many, conquest of neck territory was driven even further north with collars of the banded variety.

    Whether they were the chunky knit contrasts of Simone Rocha,  the clean moulded neck-huggers of J.W. Anderson, the silky swathings of Rodarte, or the tops of peek-a-boo onesie thermals at The Row, band collars seemed to be top contenders for the upper regions in this season's showings. At Genny, they were so paramount as to have actually negated the rest of the shirt in a couple of the looks...

Jaimee Mckenna (CSM)
Simone Rocha
The Row
J.W. Anderson
Helmut Lang
Christopher Kane

Rachel Comey


    ...Granny and Fathers of tweeny-boppers across the globe rejoice. As for me, I'll have to start working on my neck-lengthening exercises. As a short-haired human, one welcomes the notion of a cozy collar. As a short-necked human, one worries about asphyxiation...

On with Fall! 

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

On Diversion and Vanity

   Alas! That limbo of the new year's early months is upon us. Cold, wet, and still nursing our financial holiday hangovers, we are confronted with the last dregs of tired Resort stock, in wait of better days whence we might be found basking in the crisp sun of spring, the lastest Sp/Su issues of our favorite magazines scintillating at our laps...

    Pine as we may, "It goes on", and it goes at its own pace, so best console our weary consumer minds with what's at hand. And let's face it, we don't have it so bad after all.

Designers Remix

Minju Kim - H&M Design Award


    The Fa/Wi '13 shows already having begun overseas, and set to launch tomorrow in New York, inquisitors of The Bold and New will be at a surplus of fantastic fodder on which to visually chew. Already, Copenhagen's Designer Remix has given us some lovely softly hued and sculpted pieces to nibble, and H&M Design Award's Minju Kim has given us an impressive hunk of boldly architectural  designs on which to gnaw (although I would advise the tri-colored furry onesie number for external use only).

    And yes, although the short wait for preferred bi-annual glossies' Sp/Su issues shall be met with rankled impatience (magazine department clerks, I am coming for you- once a day every day after overseas release dates...), a sort of middle course may be reached by grasping at the sneak previews of what is to come...

 ...Such as Garage's pre-launch leak of their latest issue which is to mull over the theme of 'Vanity', a topic of acceptable relevance given its origins. Most rousing though is the cover featured editorial, which lensed my Patrick Demarchelier, is inspired by the self-portraiture works of Cindy Sherman. Deriving a base from her recent MOMA exhibited work 'Untitled #461', and working with (where one may also take upon themselves to manufacture a minute action figure version of self), models were snapped in the season's finest clad in eerily identical masks.

"There was no better likeness to illustrate issues of identity and facelessness in the fashion industry.", editor Dasha Zhukova opined.

    I guess we'll just have to wait to see what other vain reflections Garage has to make, with issues hitting the shelves this Saturday. In the meantime...on with Fall/Winter on the runway, and cheers to an early spring!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013


    I knew it was time for a change-up in my curated circuit of vintage shopping when the girl at the counter of Community saluted my leave-taking with, "I'm sure we'll be seeing you again soon". Yet another indication was a third encounter (of a depreciatingly amusing kind) with the same lumpy yellow kitten sweater at USED. 

    Fortune comes, my friends, to those with no drivers license and time to kill. A casual stray from a habitual path may bring many a delight, and today it came in the form of Duchesse Vintage & Such...

    Taking an alternative A to B route found me on Columbia, where I was drawn in by a crinoline costumed window mannequin in a fencing mask. My curiosity piqued, I made my approach, only to have my intrigue further roused by the proclamation of merchandise sold: "canteens...dinosaurs...vintage playboy magazines..." I had to know. I tried the door- locked. "Back in a Flash!", it read. Steadfast in my curiosity I waited.

    Moments later I noticed, through the steamed windows of the coffee house next door, the shaggy black mass of a fur aviator cap turned my way. Emerging sniffly and tea in hand was the owner, who all whilst apologizing for her sick mien, promptly opened shop.

    What I was met with was a space to contend any fabulously dotty Aunt's dusty attic. Each wall, nook, and surface was pervaded by wistful treasures; shelves of googly-eyed toys straight out of the department store windows of "A Christmas Story", tin magazine racks replete with threadbare copies of Rupert the Bear, a case containing some daunting multi-nubbed Miracle Housewife device...


     Made warm with the soft shades of sun-faded and threadbare throw rugs, the crumbling of brick walls, and the false glow of the television set in the the installation den (complete with a stash of pop's coveted gents mags), Duchesse was a sight for nostalgic eyes. Tearing myself away from a cracked leather briefcase filled with trinkets, I inspected the interspersed racks of habillements, packed pleasantly close and overflowing with thick wools and scratchy tulle. I picked out a pair of sheer Eaton's boudoir culottes in a tropical print and made my way to the fitting room. Fingering the wispy pleats of the barely-there silk of the shorts, I pondered how to justify my purchase, the cold damp of Vancouver's indomitable winter drizzle pressing in on the front windows. I finally left the warm clutter of the shop without them, ruing the sensibility of my budget, but vowing to make Duchesse a welcome addition to my future thrifting repertoire.