Hummel’s Japanese makeover

Some matches really are made in heaven. Danish sportswear label Hummel is bringing out a special edition of 24 pieces designed by Japanese designers, an exclusive collaboration that makes for some of the coolest men’s wear available for Autumn 2012.
High tech materials, playful prints and functional but by no means boring garments make the limited edition collection, called hummel j, that will hit the stores in September. Make sure to get your hands on one of these!

House of Style Returns!

Cindy Crawford in Episode 1 of 'House of Style' wearing Azzedine Alaia in 1989. Photo: MTV

MTV announced the return of iconic Nineties show House of Style. Due in October, the new host is yet to be named, but whoever she may be, she will have big stilettos to fill. After all, who was more emblematic of the Supermodel era than Cindy Crawford, who would get her BFF’s Linda, Naomi and Yasmin to do cameo appearances on her show? Another big question mark surrounding the show’s new crew is filiing the style advice spot, so perfectly manned by Todd Oldham back then (would it be Marc Jacobs? Zac Posen?)

Until the show airs in the fall, and for those of you who aren’t familiar with MTV shows prior to reality TV, we strongly recommend spending the rest of your day watching any episode you could find on the internet, starting here.

Bike to the Future

In Berlin and beyond, fixed-gear bikes are seen as “fashion bikes”, often to the extent that riding one attracts a dose of hipster hatred (and admittedly, one does see some newbie cyclists trying rather to hard to be cool on them.) However, a new exhibition at the Urban Spree Gallery makes the point that fixed gear bikes were the original racer’s choice – in fact a necessity, since gears and the dérailleur technology were only invented many years after the inaugural Tour De France, and even then were seen by some as a decadant, bourgeois and perhaps even unsporting luxury.

Christoph Reichert, the organiser of the “Grand Boucle” exhibition (whose name is the vernacular term for the Tour De France), has put together a rather lovely collection of anachronistic-to-modern machines, which hang from the ceiling of the space, along with some superb screen prints of the badges of notable (and defunct) bicycles manufacturers: there’s Raleigh of Nottingham in England, Paris’s Peugeot, Flying Goose and other less well-known marques. There’s also a beautiful magazine on display with photographs tracking the evolution of the road bike, and some powerful photos by Leopold Fiala of the kind of snaking, vertiginous mountain switchbacks that really sort the men from the boys in the sport of professional bike racing. The exhibition is only on until July 27 2012, so it’s worth getting on your bike and spinning down there as soon as possible.

Text by Kevin Braddock

Mother Drucker & Chipsnchampagne present The Grand Boucle Project @Urban Spree Gallery, RAW Tempel.

Revaler Str. 99,  10245 Berlin
Until  27th July, 11am – 19pm

Katinka Theis

Katinka Theis. Photo © Maxime Ballesteros

An artist with a relentlessly “constructionalistic impulse”, Katinka Theis works in the space between sculpture and architecture. Transforming structures from the world around her with the help of photo collage, objects and installations, she recontextualises them in what she terms a “new scenery”. Ranging from small-scale sculptures such as the geometric wall piece “Pyrite Architecture” to larger interventions in public space, she analyses the “relationship between the political system and the individual human being”. Her desire for a “free spirit to live” led her to Berlin and says she now feels at home working from her former hairdresser’s shop studio in Prenzlauer Berg.

Fittingly for an artist based in the architectural palimpsest that is Berlin, her interest in the postwar modernist structures of East and West guide her sensibility, and draw her to the aesthetics of minimalism and Russian constructivism. Holding a mirror to the political context in which a building was once imagined and then refracting it through her own contemporary perspective, she creates collages that act as a “topography” combining “spatial pattern, atmosphere and personal experience… all the images show situations with new correlations that have been changed by utopian imagination.”

Text by Susanna Davies-Crook

Colonial Eye

A.W.A. Platé & Co, "Shakuntala actor ", ca. 1900. Albumen Print. © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Ethnological Museum

An exhibition of early portrait photography in India opened in Berlin today, showing a collection of historic photography from parts of colonised India that was considered lost in the Second World War and retrieved from oblivion in the early 1990s. With some 250 exponents, the collection offers fascinating and revealing insights on portraiture in India in the second half of the 19th Century.

The exhibition is organised by Berlin’s Kunstbibliothek, the Ethnologic Museum and the Museum for Asian Arts, and its curation in fact shows an interdisciplinary approach involving different specialists. “The biggest challenge was in asking ourselves ‘what are we really looking at here?’” says Katrin Specht, assistant curator at the Ethnologic Museum. “Not only colonial history but also media history is being told in these photographs, as well as art history, apparent in the very European approach to portraiture, and other ways of showing that relate to early modernism. And there’s an ethnological aspect, of course, especially in the photos of indigenous Indian peoples”, she adds.

The collection is divided into sections starting with Indian aristocracy, a class which was instrumental for the colonisers. Maharajas, Begums and other nobility are portrayed with their suites, as are British huntsmen with their trophies. Interestingly, hunting was perceived as an act of benevolence by indigenous groups who lived in the jungle.

Another section is dedicated to the ethnic and religious diversity of the Indian subcontinent, showing Parsees, Hindus, Muslims, Jews and Christians, photographed in studios within elaborate settings of European taste. The caste system was a favourite motif for the British photographers who set up studios across India, and so another section is centred on the different vocations practiced according to caste, with a large focus on theatre, musicians, dancers and courtesans, whose position within the caste system was completely distorted by the colonisers.

Westfield & Co, "Fakirs", 1870-80. Carte de Visite. © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Ethnological Museum

Sadhus are a heterogeneous and ambiguous group within Indian society. To escape the cycle of reincarnation, Sadhus are men who chose renunciation and so embody the highest religious ideal of Hinduism. The exhibition includes some striking photographs of self-mortification, like a man bearing a metal grid around his neck after taking an oath to never sleep lying down, or two young yogis with padlocks on their crotches.

The last section, devoted to Adivasi, or aboriginal Indians, is a room full of discovery. 84 million Indians are regarded today as Adivasi, and while the Bhil people of northern India number around 2 million, there are only 1000 members of the Toda people of the south. These photographs in particular conjure a romanticised (European) ideal of man and nature. A supposedly savage character is highlighted in the photographs, while clearly discernible indicators of culture are neglected. A series of anthropological photography, pseudo-scientific methods of comparative studies, show bodies and heads shot rigidly from different directions, measuring tape in view.

The Colonial Eye
Museum for Photography, Berlin
20.7 – 21.10.2012 


Application Period runs out – Hurry up and apply until July 31!

The clock is ticking – but there is still a chance to take part in the BLOOOM Award. BLOOOM Award by Warsteiner 2012 is searching for works from all artistic genres. The winners will be awarded with great prizes such as individual exhibitions or mentoring programmes. In addition, the ten finalists will be exhibited at BLOOOM, the converging art show in Cologne, November 1-4, 2012.

If you’re not artists yourself but would still like to view the exhibition, we’re giving away 5 daily tickets for two. All you have to do is drop us a line at


Bomber Boys

Lenny wears denim jacket ACNE, wifebeater zimmerli, denim acne and sneakers adidas. Norman wears Bomberjacket adidas by David Beckham, denim ACNE and sneakers adidas by David Beckham. Photo ©Thuy Pham

Menswear and class tourism in Berlin

Upwards and onwards: that’s the trajectory of fashion. What starts in the subcultures ends up in the salons, and nowhere is that more true than with the bomber jacket. An emblem of defiant working-class cool, equal parts functional and confrontational, the bomber jacket has recently gone up a notch on the fashion register. It’s chic and designery, as Bottega Veneta, APC, Richard James, Calvin Klein and many others have offered versions. But like the rudeboys pictured here, out of place and in the mood on Ku’Damm, the bomber jacket remains rooted in its history of competition, conflict and heroism. It’s very now, but it’ll never be posh.

Photography: Thuy Pham
Styling: Lorena Maza
Hair & Make up: Philipp Koch Verheyen using MAC @ Nude Agency
Models: Norman & Lenny @ Izaio Models

Lenny wears Bomberjacket Neil Barrett, denim ACNE; Norman wears leather Bomberjacket Alexander Wang. Photo ©Thuy Pham


Ayzit Bostan replicates Venice in Munich

Ten years ago designer Ayzit Bostan tried living in Berlin. At that time there was no fashion week and no hype pushing (or distorting) the image of the local fashion scene. But Bostan didn’t need any of that anyway. “I’m a designer”, she says. “What I depend on is not my nationality or where I’m based, but my creativity.” She left Berlin after a year, and has been happily based in Munich ever since. Still, she graces the capital with regular visits that leave lasting impressions. “I consider myself pretty lucky. My clientele seems to be composed of interesting, attractive and intelligent people.”

Bostan’s image as designer for those in the know is certainly helped by dipping her toes into the art world every now and then. On July 21, a new installation at the Munich Kunstverein, done in collaboration with photographer and industrial designer Gerhardt Kellermann will be inaugurated. Entitles REPLICA, the work touched upon the phenomenon apparent in the architecture of the Bavarian capital, of replicating classic Italian sites in Munich.

Bostan and Kellermann’s installation will adorn the Hofgarten with curtains, or Venetian drapes if you may, to replicate the arcades of Venice’s Piazza San Marco while at the same time reinterpret the Hofgarten’s appearance.

July 21 until  october 21, 2012
Kunstverein München

Hito Steyerl on Art and Occupation

When I showed up to Hito Steyerl’s presenation “Art As Occupation 3.00” at Import Projects in Schöneberg, I expected (this year’s Berlin Biennale in mind) to hear about the Occupy! movement and its ties to contemporary art. Instead, Steyerl began her presentation – a rolling mix of linguistic links, sociological observations, and politics – with a disclaimer that the talk was not inspired by those occupiers of Zuccotti Park. The talk, she said, came out of her ongoing interest in the so-called militarization of everyday life (she published an essay on this theme in the e-flux journal last year), combined with popular risings in 2011 that predated Occupy! Steyerl had in mind the sense of ‘occupation’ in its two everyday senses: a job and a military takeover of a space. I recalled, once she began her slideshow, how the theme of aesthetics and military occupation goes back a long way: think of Louis Althusser’s example for how individuals become ‘subjects’ (a policeman shouting, ‘hey, you there!’ to a passer by), or Friedrich Kittler’s thesis that major advances in media and technology arose from the military.

Steyerl’s main point was the following: in today’s economic climate, the category of labour is increasingly replaced by that of ‘occupation.’ She glosses the term (in both senses) as a space for “endless mediation, indeterminate negotiation, with no real outcome.” She means that terms of contractual labour (I hire you to paint my fence) have been increasingly replaced, colonised, or occupied by forms of work-life, where what constitutes one’s job is uncertain or malleable. A military occupation is politically decisive, yet it often has a lot to do with armed individuals simply standing there. And, to follow this link, what do gallery assistants or museum attendees really get paid for, if not a kind of spatial occupation of the aesthetic sphere? What is the product of their labour?

Hito Steyerl, Security Officer Ron Hicks, 2012. Single channel video, in progress.

The discrepancies in the way salaried employees and blue-collar labourers think of work has been theorized, for one, by Siegfried Kracauer in The Salaried Masses. But Steyerl’s question makes intuitive sense when you look at the differences in the way young people in art-related jobs get paid. When I was beginning to work in New York as a freelance writer and researcher, my gigs were project-based and bounded by a specific and final product. But a salaried registrar at a gallery may be able to have a longer tether to his occupation – take a sick day here and there, have a long lunch, read Gawker at his computer – without immediately jeopardizing his status as ‘on the job.’ This isn’t meant to belie the amount of work put in by people at the workplace; crucially, the terms of a workplace contract frequently operate on an intangible, symbolic level. It’s an extended form of Marx’s alienated labour. Often, office work means simply being there in case anything comes up. Labour becomes symbolic potential. Hence the usefulness of the term ‘occupation.’

To illustrate these links, Steyerl looked at two art-world examples: the intern and the museum attendant. She flashed an image of an intern, eager yet skittish, behind a cage-like glass interior, holding up a sign showing that it’s her first day. The unpaid intern is, for Steyerl, an example of the “transition from labour to occupation.” The intern, because he or she doesn’t receive payment, is a symbolic marker for the nebulousness of occupational roles; the intern is both inside the space of labour and forced out of it (in a symbolic glass cage). After all, ‘intern’ also means (in my dictionary) to ‘confine, especially for political or military reason.’ (Incidentally, Steyerl noted, a freelancer is one who ‘sells his lance,’ a mercenary.)

Hito Steyerl, Security Officer Ron Hicks, 2012. Single channel video, in progress.

One of Steyer’s best examples was that of the museum guard. She pointed out that many museum attendees, standing around venerated works of art, are indeed military veterans, since the private security industry caters to (among others) veterans who can apply their combat training to more docile institutional roles. If we’ve entered an age of privatization, where intelligence, surveillance, prisons and security forces are mostly conducted by private contractors, then it’s important to keep in mind how militarization and privatization directly affect the art world’s own spheres of uncertain symbolic exchange.

 Text by Pablo Larios

Hito Steyerl’s “Art As Occupation 3.0” took place June 30th at Import Projects as part of the EMJD Conference.

At V&A, a collusion of art & fashion

Jonathan Saunders + Jess Flood-Paddock, 'Life', 2012. © Matthew Hollow

Britain Creates 2012: Fashion + Art Collusion is the first cultural event to contribute to the London 2012 festival – the 12 week nationwide celebration running alongside the capital’s Olympics. The exhibition is a collaboration with five bodies including the V&A, the Mayor of London and the British Fashion Council joining forces with top fashion designers and contemporary artists: Giles Deacon, Sir Paul Smith and Mat Collishaw are just some of the many individuals to take part. Sleek caught up with curator Susanna Greeves and artist Jess Flood-Paddock, whose collaboration with Jonathan Saunders materialised into 200 colourful screen prints on polypropylene screens.   

Sleek: Why is the V&A better positioned than other institutions to hold such an exhibition?
Greeves: It’s really the perfect setting. Not only have the collections here provided inspiration for both artists and designers but it’s a place where fashion has a home and so does design, craft and art. At the V&A all of these things are shown together in a non-hierarchical way. 

What have you found unique about these artist-designer collaborations?
I think what’s different about this project is the way that people have worked together. Of course the fashion and art world have come together in a variety of ways for a long time and on many occasions but what’s different here is the concept of co-authorship. Right from the original idea through to execution we’ve asked two people to make one work rather than a fashion designer commissioning an artist to contribute a design to a bag or dress, or a fashion designer crossing over into the art world. Here, we were inviting them into a new space beyond the boundaries of their own sectors. 

How did you get involved with Britain Creates?
Flood-Paddock: I was invited by the Fashion Council and asked if I would be interested to work with a fashion designer. The beginning was very open. They asked me if I had any interest in fashion to start with and which designers I’d be interested in working with. I knew Jonathan’s work and so I was hoping to work with him from the beginning. 

What was the biggest challenge working with Jonathan Saunders?
It was really the practical side. Just finding enough time to meet. We didn’t have any arguments or any drama it was just about getting our studios to be free at the same time. 

How did you come up with the name Life?
It’s a tongue-in-cheek title. We’d been talking about not wanting to add any levels of meaning to the work that weren’t there and we wanted it to be down to earth. Every time we said it to each other we got the giggles and so we couldn’t get rid of it. 

The nine collaborations are on display in the V&A’s main entrance. The pairs are Hussein Chalayan and Gavin Turk, Giles Deacon and Jeremy Deller, Stephen Jones and Cerith Wyn Evans, Stephen Jones and Cerith Wyn Evans, Nicholas Kirkwood and Simon Periton, Peter Pilotto, Christopher de Vos and Francis Upritchard, Jonathan Saunders and Jess Flood-Paddock, Paul Smith and Charming Baker, Matthew Williamson and Mat Collishaw

BritainCreates 2012: Fashion + Art Collusion
V&A, London, until July 29 2012

Generation Pop


POP! DESIGN • CULTURE • FASHION is the latest exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London. It’s a display spanning several decades, which documents the influence of popular culture on fashion and design. Everything from 50s Rock ‘n’ Roll to 70s post-mod and punk is expressed through a variety of mediums; record sleeves, fashion ensembles, underground posters and memorabilia provide an informative yet visually stimulating exhibition. Sleek spoke to Geoffrey Rayner, guest curator and co-author of ‘POP! Design, Culture. Fashion. 1955-1976’, to find out more.

Sleek: When you were researching for your book which time period interested you most?

Rayner: Well years I can give you…1958 and 1965 because I had a very good time in those years. (Laughs).  In 56, I was fourteen and Bill Haley and Elvis suddenly zoomed onto the charts out of nowhere and life suddenly changed. It was like a curtain went up. Everything was a different colour, it was bright, everybody at school was singing ‘See You Later Alligator’. It was the year when the war was finally over and from then on it was brilliant. Through the early 60s it was more subdued, it was an elegant period this modernist period but then suddenly with the Beatles in 64-6 it was wondrous again. This energy in London, it was wonderful just to go into the streets, you could breathe it in as you walked out.  

What was the biggest challenge when you were compiling the book?
To find a way to define the early 70s. It was so diffused with glam-rock with the hangover from rock music and the emergence of Punk and people such as Bowie and Bryan Ferry who weren’t really glam-rock. Then we discovered ‘Them’, the group surrounding Zandra Rhodes, and suddenly there was a very important group of people at the cutting edge and the forerunners of the new romantic style of the late 1970s.

The exhibition is based around the impact of music, art and celebrity on fashion. Which do you feel has had the greatest impact and why?

One doesn’t impact the other, they are simultaneous because when you’re a teenager, how you look is as important as how you dance, the music you listen to and the environment you move in. They are all so intermingled it’s very hard to extract them. You think of Punk and the music, the clothes and the style is inextricable from one another.

Where do you think today’s fashion takes its major influence from?
It’s very celebrity led. I mean cutting edge fashion probably not because that’s a creative process but popular fashion is very influenced but celebrity. You only have to open the newspaper and most of the page is ‘What is she wearing’? Celebrities are celebrities now for being celebrities. Back then they were people that did something, they weren’t just known because they dressed like that and hung out with somebody. 

Rayner’s book, in collaboration with Richard Chamberlain and Annamarie Stapleton, accompanies the exhibition. With little text and lots of images, it nicely demonstrates the extent to which Pop culture affected everyday lives. No doubt the museum’s latest endeavour will lead to moments of  memorable nostalgia. 

‘POP! Design, Culture, Fashion’
Until October 27



Thanks for Coming

Melinda Szepesi. Photo by Mark Pillai

On a rainy July 5th, in the midst of a manic Berlin Fashion Week, photography and fashion admirers came together to see the opening of fashion photographer Mark Pillai’s Casting Diary project, “Thanks for Coming” at Galerie Pavlov’s Dog.

This is the first solo exhibition for the German fashion photographer who, based in Paris, has worked for international publications such as Vogue, Dazed&Confused, and Harpers Bazaar. 

Pillai projected an extensive slideshow, displaying around 240 models photographed at castings in his Parisian apartment and studio over the past seven years. Even though the photos are fashion by nature, the black and white projections ooze an intimate, documentary feel, luring the viewer to feel they’ve been permitted a glimpse into the private, “behind the scenes”, side of a model’s life, rather than simply being a hurried shot from a casting.

The images often adopt a playful tone and, while they may not necessarily depict a private moment, Pillai manages to capture what feels like a personal aspect of each of the models, whether it’s their looks or individual character. Completely un-photoshopped, the information-rich projections certainly demand your attention – just as much as the model in them demanded the attention of Pillai for those full 15 minutes.

Open from 6th-28th July 2012.
Pavlov’s Dog 

A Bigger Splash at MALAIKARAISS

Malaika Raiss showed her MALAIKARAISS colelction at Villa Elisabeth. Photo © Amy Binding

Young designer Malaika Raiss presented a Spring/Summer collection that captures the hot summer daydream of beach, palm trees and light flowing dresses. Just think of the bright, vivid colours that go along with that picture – the rich lush green of palm tree leaves, and a fresh swimming-pool blue – it was all there. David Hockney’s paintings of 1960s and 70s L.A., and especially the iconic swimming pool scene of „A bigger Splash“ (which also lends the collection its name) were Raiss’ main references.

Raiss used silk, viscose and a light jacquard fabric with palm tree motifs woven especially fort he collection. One of the highlights included a blue leather jacket with round shoulders and baseball inspired details. „That’s a new thing we’re doing,“ says Raiss of her eponymous label. „I’ve been experimenting with leather a lot, and I was finally happy enough with the results to incorporate it into the collection.“ With many designs in a fresh summery white, the printed silk and leather made for an attractive contrast. As a whole, the collection marks a step in a different direction for the label, introducing a casual feel for the otherwise elegant line.

It is always pleasant to see young Berlin labels grow and develop, and MALAIKARAISS has sure come a long way with her fourth collection. “I’m not making clothes for so-called ‘fashionistas’”, she says of her vision to make unique and innovative design a commercial success. “The target audience is any woman, aged 15 to 65. Our sizes go from 34 to 44.” What’s her insider tip on wearable designer fashion? “Try the white dress with the knife pleats in the front and on the back, it suits every body-type.”

Text by Finja Rosenbaum