BLOWING IN THE WIND: ISABELLA BLOW





This week promises to be full of exciting projects, events and invitations
for A-Gent of Style who will be revealing the various subjects that are enthralling him in the course of the next two weeks.




Last weekend, whilst flicking through a magazine, A-Gent of Style came across a photo of Lady Gaga, circa 2010, arriving at a party with a diamond-encrusted lobster headpiece. A-Gent couldn’t help thinking that, whilst the popstar did turn heads wearing said crustacean on her head, there was nothing new, surprising or original about this statement. It had been done before. To be precise, it was in 1998 at a Julien Macdonald’s London Fashion Week show that the Surrealist and Dali-esque ornament had made a first apparition on the head of the incomparable Isabella Blow.




The late fashion editor and stylist Isabella Blow, who started her career as
Anna Wintour’s assistant at US Vogue then worked for Tatler, British Vogue and the Sunday Times Style as editor before returning to Tatler as fashion director, is being honoured in a new exhibition at Somerset House 
aptly named Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! in partnership with
the Isabella Blow Foundation and Central Saint Martins.

Curated by Shonagh Marshall and Alistair O’Neil, and styled by Amanda Harlech, this retrospective of her life and career, starting this Wednesday until March 2, 2014, will provide an intimate portrait of a formidable woman throughout 500 odd pieces from her wardrobe, and reinstate her legacy and its significance after her untimely death in 2007 (she drank a bottle of weedkiller after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer and suffering from long-term depression; her seventh suicide attempt in fourteen months proved to be fatal).



Due to her extravagant taste and insatiable, passionate approach to life, Issie, as she was known to her close friends, had accumulated an impressive and expensive collection of clothes – which left her impoverished most of her life – which was bought in its entirety in 2010 by her long-standing friend Daphne Guinness, another iconic muse of the fashion world and art-director of the exhibition.

This intimate portrait of the eccentric Blow will represent many models and designers whose career Blow helped launch: Sophie Dahl, Stella Tennant, Hussein Chalayan, Julian Macdonald, Viktor & Rolf, John Galliano and of course her protégés Philip Treacy and Alexander McQueen.




Blow was presumably misunderstood by many and unfairly represented by the media as a flighty, provocative enfant terrible of fashion living in a fickle, airy-fairy world, which would probably explain why Blow used her outfits as a protective armour to protect herself from the outside world. 

It is not only the sensational collection of clothes, arguably one of the most important private ones of the last twenty years, nor the legendary figure’s timeless and inimitable style that are the focus of Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! but it is also aimed as an appreciation and re-evaluation of her wonderful spirit, her fearless and original character and also her bigger-than-life and somewhat tragic life, away from the limelight, the smeared red lipstick and the ostentatious headgear that became her trademark. 




As she turned up one morning at the Standard Hotel in Los Angeles adorning unselfconsciously another outlandish outfit of hers with an equally ostentatious headpiece, Isabella is quoted to have said “I don’t understand, everyone keeps saying, ‘Where’s the party?'”.




Unfortunately, most of us will not have had the privilege to go to a party
with ‘La Dame Bleue’ (as McQueen’s S/S 2008 collection dedicated to the memory of his dear friend was called) but at least Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! will provide us with a profusion of theatricality, style and ingenuity from a bona fide maverick.








Jeremy Langmead talked about employing Isabella Blow
at The Sunday Times Style Magazine and her incredible work as a fashion editor.


http://vimeo.com/78807054




LEARNING HIS STRIPES: PAUL SMITH & THE DESIGN MUSEUM






Today’s recipient needs little introduction. Most of you will have instantly recognised the image above and will have, at one point or another, held a bag or a gift box adorned by this iconic pinstriped barcode with its trademark rainbow of multifarious colours that is universally associated with the signature logo of …




Paul Smith‘s illustrious career and exceptional impact on the world of fashion and retail is the subject of a much-anticipated exhibition this winter
at the brilliant Design Museum in London.

“Hello, my name is Paul Smith” is a major retrospective opening on Friday until March 9, 2014 that will give a comprehensive insight into the five decades of the British designer and retailer’s world, influences, achievements and working methods.


Due to the huge popularity and influence of the designer (his empire is represented in 72 countries), the exhibition is likely to appeal to a broad audience and break visitor figure records – and even the Design Museum’s own records as it already celebrated the designer in 2001 with its ‘True Brit” exhibition.




The rich visual experience curated by Donna Loveday (she of the museum’s hugely successful Christian Louboutin show last year) will take the shape of a long corridor and will chart the designer, retailer and businessman’s career throughout various media (music, photographs, artifacts, projections, films, soundbites) and approaches such as these:




a display of Sir Paul’ Smith’s daring sartorial creations from collections selected by the designer himself dating back to his first show in Paris in 1976 up to today
(the company shows an impressive fourteen different collections every year), personal archives, hand-drawn sketches and other inspirational elements that make Paul Smith’s mind tick and creativity flow, a reconstruction of Smith’s first humble 1970 shop in Nottingham famously measuring three metres square, a makeshift version of his current studio and a room dedicated to the paraphernalia he’s received from his adoring fans throughout the years, most probably from Japan where his fan base is huge.








Another area will also be devoted to his architect wife Pauline whom has had a huge influence on his work, another one will showcase the unique design behind each of his stores accompanied by selection of jewellery, books, artworks, antiques, objets and curiosités that typically complement the clothes, and of course his great, whimsical collaborations ranging from cars (Rover’s Mini), cameras (Leica) and rugs (The Rug Company) to water bottles (Evian) and bicycles (Rapha) – Smith aspired to a be a professional cyclist until a road accident crushed his dreams when he was fifteen – and a special feature giving the visitors a glimpse into the brand’s future projects.






From his impeccably smart and tailored menswear and womenswear, his inventive approach to fabric, colour and pattern to his principles of traditional craftsmanship of tailoring and techniques with a contemporary edge, and his ‘English eccentric’ twist and Brit-wit style,  A-Gent of Style has been a huge admirer of Sir Paul Smith and looks forward to entering this world of “creation, inspiration, collaboration, wit and beauty” that epitomises the man behind one of the most quintessential British labels and leading fashion brands in the world.



Paul Smith stores – interiors and exteriors

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Paul Smith Spring/Summer 2014 collection

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Paul Smith objets and collaborations

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A Channel 4 interview





A BBC interview






During the run of the exhibition, the Design Museum will be hosting a series of exciting events such as Paul Smith Instagram Takeover, Live Twitter Q&A with Paul Smith and Sophie Hicks on Designing for Paul Smith.








A book “Hello, My Name is Paul Smith” published by Rizzoli will be published to coincide with the exhibition



 

 

APPARENTLY IMPERFECT: APPARATUS





“It’s about trying to find the perfect imperfect”



Three. This time, three degrees of separation stood between
A-Gent of Style and today’s topic. A fortnight ago at Decorex 2013, his friend
 Tim Walters from George Spencer Designs introduced him, sadly too briefly, to Zak Profera of the design brand ZAK+FOX they now represent in London.




woof woof

ZAK+FOX, #woofwoof



A-Gent of Style had seen ZAK+FOX fabric collection recently in publications but it is only when he did his homework online a few days later that he came across this photograph. 

Shinji aka Fox with Strada Study fabric and Triad 3 ceiling light from ZAK+FOX and Apparatus


A-Gent of Style immediately recognised the brilliant photograph he had seen circulating on the blogosphere of a ‘fox’ sitting on a Beni Ourain rug in front of a striking greyish background that resembles a cross-section between a piece of marble or wood. What was very catchy and memorable about this photo was not only the dramatic foil but also the posture of the cute ‘FOX’ (Profera’s dog called Shinji) sitting attentively upright on his hindquarters and staring upwards, transfixed not by a juicy bone but by a…lighting fixture. Genius.



Which finally brings us to Apparatus, the brilliant New York lighting fixtures company for whom A-Gent of Style fell head over heels.



Gabriel Hendifar
and Jeremy Anderson are the two founders and designers of this studio based in New York who create beautifully handcrafted lighting pieces. Apparatus was born after the couple realised they couldn’t find the utilitarian yet elegant lights they were looking for. “We were looking for something that spoke to the dichotomy between complexity and utility. There is something oddly complex about our fixtures, but ultimately I think the pieces achieve their function in quite a utilitarian way”.




The creative duo – Hendifar’s background is in fashion and Anderson’s is in public relations – create unique pieces that are either made of vintage and salvaged components as well as pieces from contemporary materials. They work with artisans to develop metal, glass, wood and even porcelain components but ultimately assemble every piece individually by hand. Finishes come in aged, silvered or blackened brass or oil rubbed bronze and give the objects an incredible patina that look time-worn  and definitely not like a machine-made product from a production line. Some of their fixtures like the Highwire and Arrow make use of calfskin or even python-patterned leather. 


Their creations are undeniably influenced by 20th C design (they credit the kinetic sculptures of Arthur Ganson as one of their inspiration as well as the aerialist Philippe Petit’s high wire exploits) but look thoroughly modern (especially with the Edison exposed filament clear bulbs). They have a distinct industrial, masculine look that contradictorily is not devoid of charm, character and charisma. Far from it. Despite being static, the mechanical and architectural aspects of the lights allow them to follow a trajectory or float in the case of the Clouds. The various permutations of the designs can be geometric and balanced but also irregular and asymmetrical depending on the segments and pivots of the armatures. The end result is arresting, playful and beautiful. They certainly tick all of A-Gent of Style‘s boxes when it comes to lighting fixtures just like Gareth Devonald Smith‘s pieces or Bert Frank‘s.




Their first collection displayed modern and geometric shapes with aged materials like the reclaimed wood from derelict water tanks of the Column Lamps or the Cloud chandelier with its frosted glass orbs and two-toned chains.
Pieces from their second collection include chandeliers, sconces and an inaugural fabric collaboration with ZAK+FOX, such as the grey Strada Study linen on the photograph with FOX, now also available as a wallpaper.


Apparatus
‘s creations are show-stoppers and the perfect strucural element to decorate and enhance any neutral room. Some of their pieces, like the Cloud or the Synapse inspired by the mechanics of neural synapses and composed of two hand-moulded glass domes, already look like vintage, sought-after pieces.

Buddies

Lariat

Lariat



 

Cloud

 

Some of the finishes

 

Arrow

Arrow

 

Gabriel Hendifar

 

Highwire

 

Twig 5








Twig 1

Twig 1

 

Twig 5

Twig 5

 

Column Lamps

Column Lamps

 





Jeremy Anderson

 

Synapse

Synapse

















 

Triad 15

Triad & Dyad 15

 

Triad 9

Triad 9

 

Triad 3

 

Dyad sconce

 

Compass









The talented pair has another string to their creative bow and offers interior design services. Here are some examples of their elegant, urbanite projects that you might recognise from recent publications.


















And in case you haven’t been illuminated enough by Apparatus, there’s of course Instagram (apparatusstudio) and for now a short video of one of their projects, Buddies :




http://vimeo.com/66180994



– Photos by Apparatus, ZAK+FOX and A-Gent of Style

 

 

 

 

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