In this day and age religion has lost much of its value among the majority of us, especially when the church is mostly mentioned in conjunction with scandals. And yet, Paola Pivi’s new exhibition at the Witte de With in Rotterdam manages to examine the power of believing, while at the same time serve as an extraordinary documentation of a Buddhist practice. Her work “Tulkus 1880 to 2018” is a mammoth work in progress, based on extensive international research and aimed at creating a complete collection of portraits and basic information on all the tulkus of the world who, in Tibetan Buddhism, are the recognized reincarnations of previous Buddhist masters. Her collection begins with exponents from the beginning of photography until today, from all the schools of Tibetan Buddhism and Bon, and from all the areas of the world where these religions are practiced. Her ever-growing survey has until now collected over 1100 photographic portraits. These images are commonly treasured in monasteries, hung in private households or shops, or collected by the faithful. Considered holy by the Buddhists, the photographs of the tulku are believed to have the same power as the tulku themselves.?? The notion of staging these images in an institution dedicated to contemporary art raises several questions about the connection between image and meaning, experience and representation, and the not-so-different practice across religions of imbuing images with the spiritual essence of saints and holy men.
Who would have thought that Pigeon feathers and beetle shells were Haute Couture-worthy materials? With only three collection made on his own, the young, Antwerp-trained fashion designer Serkan Cura reanimated the art of fashionable plumage. Sleek met the designer in his Parisian showroom in order to talk about a forgotten handicraft that flirts with feathers.
Feather-craft seems to be a dying savoir-faire. What sparked your passion for feathery Couture? I think it all started when I was 13 years old. I used to live in Brussels, next to a flea market and hats with feather applications fascinated me. This is where I discovered my first hats, all made out of bird-of-paradise feathers. Then, I studied fashion design in Antwerp, at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, where I pushed my passion a bit further: I worked on a cage for my collection, made out of 500 pheasant feathers, which got me good reviews in local newspapers and magazines. Finally, before starting my own brand, I worked at Jean-Paul Gaultier’s couture and prêt-à-porter ateliers in Paris for four years, where I specialised in fur and feathers. Then, the last artisanal house in Paris that worked with feathers had to shut down recently – they gave me the opportunity to save a part of their feather stocks and archives before they sold everything. I think that I am the only person left in Paris who works with feathers in an artisanal way. Chanel still does too for some Haute Couture pieces, but that’s all. I currently teach this special craft in Paris at the “Lycée Octave Feuillet” that is focused on artisanal metiers. I think it is important to preserve this type of know-how, before everybody forgets all about it.
Where do you actually source your feathers? I won’t reveal all my contacts and sources of course… but most of my feathers came from the old stocks I acquired from artisans that were closing their business. Sometimes, I also have to travel far away – I usually go to South Africa twice a year to get ostrich feathers. Then, I also have a few contacts to farmers and raisers who give me feathers after their birds moulted. I have to adapt to nature – I solely adapt to moulting periods, I would never harm a bird – so sometimes it takes ages to finish a dress. Once, I wanted to make an outfit solely from parrot feathers, and it took me about 2 years to collect them all! But I don’t use feathers only, even if they are my main passion. This tuxedo for example and a matching apple-shaped evening bag (Serkan points on a emerald green and orange coloured, edgy tuxedo and purse) are entirely made out of beetle shells.
Ugh…beetle shells!? Yes burned out beetle shells! They look fashionable, don’t they? The strange thing is that beetle shells used to come along only in shiny emerald green or violet hues. Now, with the ongoing metamorphoses due to climate change, and certainly also because nature tries to protect its creations from us human predators, most of the beetle shells come with orange hued highlights.
You made 10 silhouettes for your latest Spring-Summer 2013 collection…how long does it actually take to finish off a piece? You’ve got to know that I work on my own, in my apartment. I have every feather that you can image: bird-of-paradise, pink flamingo, pheasants, ostrich, heron, pigeon feathers…my place is a true mess! The funny thing is, when you look at one of my outfits, you sometimes have the impression that I use different types of coloured feathers – but it’s not true, Every outfit is made of one single type of feather that is adjusted in different ways, in order to create an optical effect that makes you think that there are different colours – but in the end, your eye makes you think it is different, because of various light impacts. I work on every single feather, one by one. Each feather is completely edged, glued on its ends and plucked. Most of them are glued on the garments, but I also embroider them on the linings or corsets of my silhouettes. In this way, the feather outfit becomes truly resistant – you can pull them – they won’t break – and even wash them with your laundry if you want! I had a few kind assistants that helped me towards the end of my work on the new couture collection, but usually I am on my own and it can take up to three months to finish an outfit.
So far, you focused on costume-like Haute-Couture… would you dare to use feathers for ready-to-wear? (Serkan smiles) I actually have plans for ready-to-wear, but it’s too early to tell! Anyway, until then, you’re more than welcome to wear one of my creations if you want!
Fashion Week in Berlin is over and the snow on our streets may be slowly disappearing, but that does not mean that we should neglect the warmth of our pretty little heads.
Made exclusively for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin, local fashion label MALAIKARAISS teamed up with Belvedere Vodka to create a special edition winter warmer. Made entirely out of cashmere and it the coolest ice blue, the limited edition beanie is normally only available at KaDeWe Berlin. Until today. We have two of these hats to give away, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for your chance to win.
This young Chinese-born and Paris-based designer has caused for much ink to flow on the pages of glossy fashion magazines. At the tender age of26, Yiqing Yin already has her very own time-slot on Paris’ Haute Couture calendar. Yin’s dreamlike creations have won her the prestigious ANDAM prize in 2011, shortly after her graduation from the likewise reputed “Arts Décoratifs” school for applied arts in Paris. Last year, Yin was even given a residence at Paris’ new fashion Mecca, “Les Docks en Seine”, where she set up her atelier and showroom space, next to other design and fashion stores and Les Dock’s regular fashion exhibitions.
It looks like Yin has continuously been on a fast track to success. Especially, if you consider that no one other than Didier Grumbach himself – the renowned director of the French Federation of Couture and Ready to Wear – invited her to make her first steps in the fashion business in January 2012, as a guest member of Paris Haute Couture. “It is an honour to have the Federation’s full support and at the same time a real challenge”, Yin confirmed earlier this year, well aware that the prestigious “Haute Couture” label can prove to be a tricky thing to maintain – the label comes with binding rules of traditional know-how and strict production regulations defined by a Parisian based atelier. The use of high-quality fabrics and of course the uniqueness of hand-made, bespoke pieces are a given. “I refer to Couture’s quality standard through a renewed form of craftsmanship”, the designer added.
But what makes Yiqing Yin’s designs stick out so much in the world of Couture aesthetics? Handicraft and audacious cuts may be two vital elements of Yin’s designs, but are by no means new in the world of Haute Couture. It’s rather her forward-thinking technical experimentation, which still makes for wearable fashion designs that captivated the attention of fashion professionals and amateurs alike. And Yiqing Yin of course can’t resist showing the world her ingeniousness in all things texture and shape. Innovative fabrics and treatments such as liquid organza, resinated embroidery, random tie-dye techniques and laser cut alcantara are just a few examples of the many fashionable tools that shape her very feminine yet organic silhouettes. In this context, nature is also a major inspiration for her: “The creative power of nature fascinates me! Its fragility, its organic forms, but also the reflections of natural light, the mineral surfaces…I try to fuse all these elements in my work, by playing with motion and blurriness”. In other words, Yin excels at fluid tailoring.
This was also the main emphasis of her latest Spring-Summer 2013 collection. Yin told Sleek she had been influenced by Naum Gabo’s “almost immaterial sculptures with parabolic, large volumes that occupy space without filling it”. In this context, Yiqing Yin paired softness and structure: fine threads ended up woven, knotted and braided, and were fixed with metallic iron bandages created by artist Nora Renaud. Further long threads flew along the body, while rhinestones created eye-popping detailing. A burgundy corded evening gown and asymmetric neck-holder and turtleneck dresses in midnight blue dévoré optic were particularly eye-catching and emphasised the organic-inspired side of her designs.
One might think that Yin’s designs look randomly beautiful but in fact the designer pays great attention to meticulous detailing and controls a silhouette’s structure like nobody else. “When I work on a silhouette, I design it according to the movement of the body, like some kind of fluid armour”, Yin confirmed when asked about her style, and it’s a duality that definitely keeps her innovating.
Damir Doma and Berlin’s most collaborative specs makers, Mykita, will launch their first joint line DD01 next week. DD02 and 03 are sure to follow, as Damir Doma’s recent runway show in Paris revealed. Sleek met up with Doma and Mykita’s CEO and Creative Director Moritz Krüger, to find out more about the origins of the ultimate circular horn specs.
Sleek: How did the collaboration come about? Damir Doma: I really wanted to design sunglasses and was looking for a partner. I didn’t have to look very far though as it quickly became clear that Mykita would be the best partner for me. I think they’re one of the only truly innovative brands out there that really offer high quality products. Moritz Krüger: We both had to learn something from the other person. Damir flew over from Paris to see our production place in Berlin, the technology we’re using and how we work. Then he showed us his look-books so we would get an idea of his vision and way of working. It was a long process – we started three years ago! That’s how long it took us to be able to present our first sunglasses and specs collection now.
Sleek: What’s special about the frames, why did it take three years to finalize the product? Damir: It’s a totally innovative product; we really created something that wasn’t there before. That’s what we were shooting for from the start. That’s how I work when I create my collections, too. Moritz: Another fundamental aspect was that we wanted to work with our own resources and stay independent. That’s the only way to develop further as a brand. Over 90 per cent of frames available today are replicas of existing models. If you make a conventional model that’s also good and popular, you’ll end up with countless copies in no time – faster than you can produce yourself, in fact. I think we’re one of the only spectacles and sunglasses brands that have never been copied.
Sleek: You decided to make a round frame – what does the shape express for you? Damir: It’s a wonderfully timeless shape.At the same time it’s also reminiscent of Fifties and Sixties intellectuals and existentialists. But above all it’s a perfect shape. We also wanted a very precise roundness for our very first collaboration, which had to be a statement piece. Moritz: Damir made it clear he wanted a round frame, so the shape was never an issue. The materials however were a different story. It’s very difficult to mix steel and horn. We always try to find a technical solution in our production that would also bring aesthetically pleasing results. The challenge here was to use horn, not as an application but as an integral, functional part of the design. We’re never worked with horn before, so quite a lot of research and development went into making this product. Damir: I think this actually gives the product its identity.
Sleek: Why did you choose horn? Were you looking for a challenge? Damir: First I had to identify the material that fit me. It was clear that it had to be a natural material. Luckily, Moritz was open to working with a material that Mykita has had no experience with. That’s quite a risk to take… So we decided on horn. Moritz: Historically speaking, horn has been used in specs because it’s natural, meaning, more suitable for contact with the skin than other materials. Damir: That was the argument that sealed the deal for me. Moritz: Usually, natural materials are only used in frames as an application on to the contact points with the skin. And then it’s usually done in an all but subtle manner. That’s the opposite of everything we wanted. Damir: I love well-designed products. Quality is also extremely important nowadays, because the customer wants to know what they’re spending money on, why an item costs a certain amount. The products we make are quite expensive, these frames too, but I think it’s conveyable, as long as the customer understand why. A lot of stuff today is just expensive, and the quality is shit.
Sleek: Moritz, you’ve collaborated with many designers by now. What are your criteria for selecting people to collaborate with? Moritz: The personal level is the most important thing. You have to like each other and enjoy working together. And then both sides have to want to create something completely new that expresses the visions of both. So you go on a journey together, and sometimes it works out and you end up with a great product, but there are also times where it doesn’t. Damir: Well, it took us three years; I must admit there were moments I thought it wasn’t going to happen.
Sleek: Is this considered an unusually long time? Moritz: Considering that we’ve had to develop an entirely new technology to make them, it’s actually a fairly normal amount of time. I wonder if we would have come up with the same quality of product had it not taken so long. Each side learned a lot from the other, and the most interesting thing is to approach a product that we’ve been making for year – frames and sunglasses – from a whole new perspective.
Sleek: Are there any other Mykita + Damir Doma collections in the pipeline? Moritz: We’re very traditional. We like to create something that continues to develop over time. Damir: That’s the idea. And that’s why it was actually ok to take all this time – this first collaboration opened up a lot of further possibilities for more.
Today saw the release of the fifth instalment of an exclusive video series by & Other Stories. The luxury brand by H&M, soon to be lanuched with stores all across Europe, follows a holistic concept: from beauty products to accessories, leather goods, lingerie and clothing, & Other Stories enables the wearer to create her own unique version of the story of her style.
Today’s video offers a glimpse to the lingerie shoot, with a mood that celebrates the magic of lingerie.
& Other Stories will be launched online and in stores during spring 2013.
When Obama, in his inaugural address, pledges to act on global warming in his second term, it might be a little too late as Mark Dion’s recent exhibition at Het Domein, in the Netherlands, seeks to emphasise. “Increasingly, my work has become macabre and laced with dusky pessimism,” Dion wrote in manuscript from back in 2001. “Early on I believed that ecological calamity could be averted by awareness. If people knew about issues like the loss of biodiversity or global warming, they would act so as to halt the problem. (…) Now, I just don’t believe that it will all work out. Not that there will be a single great catastrophe, but rather the world will slowly become less biological diverse, more impoverished, an uglier, less remarkable place to live.”
The American artist is playing a pioneering role with his work, which focuses on ecological issues and our perception of nature. Dion’s work examines the ways in which dominant ideologies and public institutions like museums shape our understanding of history, the ways we accumulate knowledge, and how we regard the natural world. Appropriating archaeological and other scientific methods of collecting, ordering, and exhibiting objects, Dion creates works that question the distinctions between “objective” (“rational”) scientific methods and “subjective” (“irrational”) influences.
The artist’s spectacular and often fantastical curiosity cabinets, modelled on Wunderkabinetts of the sixteenth century, are notable for their atypical orderings of objects and specimens. By locating the roots of environmental politics and public policy in the construction of knowledge about nature, Mark Dion questions the authoritative role of the scientific voice in contemporary society.
The Macabre Treasury is Mark Dion’s first solo museum exhibition in the Netherlands in fifteen years. Partly for this reason, the exhibition at Het Domein has the character of a concise retrospective with an emphasis on works created in the last ten years. For The Macabre Treasury, Dion transformed Museum Het Domein’s contemporary art wing into a giant Wunderkabinett. Dion’s macabre treasure chamber will thus include amongst others Departments of Zoology and Archaeology, a Bureau of Museums and the Culture of Collections, a Hunting Salon, a Cinematheque and a Cabinet of Mystery. As part of the exhibition of his own work, the artist will present a selection of objects from Museum Het Domein’s historical collection and from other local museums and archives. The objects vary from local archaeological finds to an eleventh-century tree-trunk coffin with a female skeleton. As is the case with all of Dion’s presentations, the exhibition in Het Domein can be considered an attempt to restore something of our earlier notion of the universal museum with its hybrid combinations of different disciplines and fields of knowledge. Newly inciting the curiosity of the museumgoer is just as essential. The artist once proclaimed that museums should be restored to their roles as “powder kegs of the imagination.”
Amidst the hustle and bustle of Berlin’s very own Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, something a little bit special was happening on the evening of Wednesday 16th January. Located just a stone’s throw from the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week tent itself, the luxurious Adlon Hotel was hosting an exclusive party thrown by Belvedere Vodka and Berlin’s very own Sleek Magazine.
In what could only be described as a “not your average setting”, the Sleek/Belvedere partnership party took place in a specially designed Belvedere Igloo, that was constructed especially for the duration of the Fashion Week event. Made from entirely transparent materials, the Igloo performed as a sanctuary from the sub zero Berlin temperatures lurking outside, with the Brandenburg Gate and Fashion Week tent glowing in the background, making it the perfect back drop to sip the premium vodka too in the warmth of good company.
The drinks flowed and the temperatures rose once inside the Igloo, as party goers experienced hot drinks and five new tangy cocktails created exclusively by Belvedere for the one off event. The taste bud tantalization did not end there however, with guests also being offered fine cuisine catered by Hotel Adlon and served by Barracuda Barcatering. The cocktail shakers and makers also sported the baby blue exclusive partnership hats between Belvedere Vodka and Berlin Designer, MALAIKARAISS, to keep warm whilst serving up vodka delights.
To top it all off, guests of the Sleek party were also offered the exclusive shuttle service of five S-Class Mercedes-Benz’s, for any of the guests wanting to sit back, put their feet up and enjoy the ride after a couple of cocktails. The atmosphere of the evening was fun, chilled (in more ways than one!), and hosted a variety of VIP’s and Berlin’s elite, who all helped keep the party warmed up well into the Berlin night.
All images by Dragana Gavrilovic and Getty Images for Belvedere.
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin is a wrap, next stop Paris. But before the fashion caravan moves on, it’s time to recap some of the week’s highlights and trace certain trends in the development of the local design scene. (Yes, we actually paid attention, albeit the constant flow of pink bubbly).
Lala Berlin First off, Lala Berlin – a Berlin fashion veteran and staple – presented a wonderfully well-rounded collection that had many members of the press lauding as their best ever. Designer Leyla Piedayesh used a vivacious colour palette of pink, coral red and blue, though the season’s must-have combinations of black and white didn’t fail to appear on the runway either (pictured above). The strongest items were the full length wool coats and bomber jackets in calm pink, or with Lala’s signature prints that were a hybrid of ethno-patterns from Indio to Palestinian this time.
Blaenk Every season has its positive surprise presentation – one that you go to because it’s right between two other shows and you might as well have a look , but that you then find yourself admiring for its creativity and excellent execution. This season it was Berlin newcomer Blaenk, founded by Silke Geib and Nadine Möllenkampn, who, after stints with Margiela, Demeulemeester or Viktor & Rolf, are certainly no newbies when it comes to professionalism and creative design. The studio presentation was set up as a stroll through imaginary forest, with birds chirping in the background, and the garments looking like mystic forest creatures and shrubbery. Transparency and delicate hand-made details showed Blaenk’s faculty for carrying out deviceful ideas, while the masculine oversized jackets and tailored pieces, their expertise.
Augustin Teboul We published a more thorough review of Augustin Teboul’s collection here, but it seems justified to mention them again because the duo was a positive surprise like the one described above only three years ago when they first appeared on the fashion week schedule. The new collection included more individually wearable pieces that can be combined for a more subdued look, or worn as a total look if you’re opting for statement pieces. The ingenuity, and ability to keep innovating within the constraints of their very unique signature make Augustin Teboul a cut above the rest.
Shotview And last but not least, the parties. There was no shortage of after-hours entertainment during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin, but one of the best parties – one of the artiest too – was the 12th anniversary of the Shotview Photographic agency at the St. Johannes-Evangelist Kirche on Auguststrasse, where the fashion and art crowds mingled between huge blow-up photo by luminaries represented by the agency: Horst Diekerdes, Erwin Wurm, Markus Pritzi, Peter Rigaud, Ronald Dick and others. Many of those were also in attendance (Mr Pritzi, for instance, is also a Sleek regular), and enjoyed some music from DJs Niki Pauls and Sebastian Schlachter, quaffing champagne into the small hours.
What’s next? We also loved the strong collections by Vladimir Karaleev and Michael Sontag, who both maintain their very own clear visions that they keep pushing forward convincingly. Slowly but surely, it’s becoming undeniable that Berlin does in fact boast a local lineage of fashion designers that justify setting the focus on the German capital twice a year. It still remains to see whether these designers will get the support they need in develop from an established scene into a thriving industry.
Berlin’s favourite green designers, Schmidttakahashi, are the fifth and final local label to be a part of our Fashion Week goodie giveaway. Using only recycled materials, Schmidttakahashi have a love of fair-trade products and an sharp eye for ethical design.
We have this Piet Mondrian inspired modernist clutch to give away to one lucky reader. All you have to do is, you guessed it, email email@example.com. Good luck.
Held as the symbol of Romanian fashion, Irina Schrotter is no stranger to the Berlin Fashion Week scene, with the brand being launched 21 years ago. Now, with Romanian avant-garde designer Lucian Broscatean taking the reins and designing for the main line, the aesthetic has shifted from delicate evening attire to an edgier, modern womenswear collection.
The collection, titled “Immersed Self”, took its inspiration from Ingmar Berman’s 1966 film, “Persona”, which investigates into the game of psychological play. Using the tension between strength and vulnerability and mixing it with an emotional charge, Broscatean delivered a collection that was as moody as it was serene.
The styling could be seen as perhaps leaning towards the stereotypical, with dark shades of lipstick and somber moods gliding down the runway, reminding us that the attention to styling of a collection is equally as important as the garments themselves. A neutral take on the make up would have been a lighter, cleaner, look, allowing our gaze to fall solely on the clothing rather than the models who were showcasing them.
Sheer, wool, and black & white were the name of the game for this collection, with the show stopper taking the silhouette of the exceptionally well executed cut-out dress that mixed hard angles and lines with a modern hourglass femininity. The fluffy platform heels acted as a playful edition, somehow avoiding the mountain goat look but instead (thankfully) taking the avant-garde route.
Overall it was a coherent collection that maybe could have seen more elements of surprise, but undoubtedly will become a must-have for any of the neo-goths this season.
The celebrities flown in for the presentation of “Reflection”, HUGO’s Autumn Winter 2013 collections – Edward Norton, Renee Zellweger and Pixie Geldof among them – may have been stellar, but they didn’t eclipse a show that was true to the brand’s eternal values of restraint and simplicity. For both men and women the palette was sober: mauve, grey, cream and black were dominant, through a bright red suit for him and her also provided a certain poppy fizz. The standouts for guys were a blazer with leather patches at the elbow, pocket and across the top of the back, donkey-jacket style, plus a series of trenches and v-neck tanks, while some pretty print dresses for women lifted the mood. The press blurb for the collection talked about a counterpoint between the past and future, nostalgia and novelty, which is perhaps a ways of saying that with this show, HUGO offered an aesthetic that’s perfectly in keeping with what has always been the label’s strongest cards.
Sasha Kanevski hails from Ukraine, but with his latest mini collection at Fier Showroom for Berlin Fashion Week, he’s heading cross continental. Find out why, despite his plans for everyone to be wearing his clothes, he doesn’t want to be an international designer (yet).
What was your starting point for this collection? When I’m thinking about the clothes for a new collection, I tend to think about the classical men’s pieces like trousers, shirts and jackets and then some of the more futuristic stuff, like the half-skirt on the trousers, the digital printed carpet pattern and the quilted jackets. The installation here forms the background to make it feel like an old house’s interior. We took the carpets with us from Kiev and the furniture we brought from a Berlin film studio, to complement the pattern. But this presentation isn’t a full collection, only a part of it. We’ll show the full collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Kiev, and after that, we’ll take it to Amsterdam.
Do you feel international as a designer or very based in Kiev? No, I don’t feel international yet. I think it’s very important for designers to sell clothes in the place they’re produced, in their hometown. So, for me, as I work in Ukraine, I’ll sell my clothes there and after that become more of an international designer. If I try to go to sell my clothes in the USA or Europe, I always need to know that I have a background in my own place.
Masks are something you’ve experimented with in previous collections too. Do you feel like this is a darker side to the collection? I don’t feel that it’s very dark – the masks are just like mad professors. We do them with Bob Bassett studio, a design studio in Ukraine – their most famous work is their masks for Givenchy.
You design for both men and women. What are the differences in how you design for each? For men, you have to put functionality first, and sexuality afterwards – I like to be functional, particularly in the details and cutting. In men’s clothes that’s always the most important thing, whereas girls like beautiful stuff – “These shoes aren’t comfortable but they’re pretty so I’ll take them!”. So, sexuality comes first for women. I do think these two positions are the most important to consider in clothes. It’s the balance of these where you see the really interesting stuff. Design is so popular now, but I just like it when clothes are clothes.
What was the idea behind the digital carpet print you’ve used? It reminds me of my childhood – when stuff is larger than life, and you haven’t seen much of the world. In general though, it’s more about clothes as classical items with just these futuristic details. My ideas are always evolving. Sometimes I’ll get halfway through something, the idea mutates in my brain, and then when I get the whole thing finished, the idea will have changed a lot. I don’t see anything wrong with changing your mind.
This is your second time in Berlin. Are you happy to be back? Yes, I’m excited! I hope next time it will be a big show, or a big presentation in some incredible location. I’m not ambitious as such, but I do always want more. I love walking down the street and seeing my clothes on people. In an ideal world everyone would be wearing my designs!