David LaChapelle solo exhibition in Holland

Good news for modern man: the future is bright. If you need any convincing to pop over to the pretty city of Groningen in Holland, the David LaChapelle solo exhibition should sway you in the right direction. Not the most obvious place to showcase the photographer’s raunchy images (after all, he has a history photographing Beyonce, Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga), but this latest anthology returns to his artistic roots, and complement Groningen’s old town juxtaposed with modern buildings, which nestle on the canal in the north of the Netherlands.

David LaChapelle The Rape of Africa

Known for producing experimental fashion editorials, commercials and music videos for high profile clients, LaChapelle has worked with every big name in the industry, and is one of the most respected and in demand photographers around the world; So it is interesting to find that the Gronginger Museum, already owns one of his controversial, hyper stylised works, and is the place he chose for his first solo exhibition in the Netherlands.

To the broad minded Dutch nation- naked bodies, interracial relationships and liberal religious views are widely acceptable, and a show that comments on sexuality, birth, death and nature in an idyllic, utopian world would appear to be the perfect partnership. Taking over the modernistic Museum (which was redesigned by Philippe Starck and Alessandro Mendini) adds a unique, modern focus to the university town. Situated in a central location on the canal, and directly opposite the ancient architecture of the train station it offers a juxtaposition of eras, but this is something that works so well in Holland.

A bit of a rebel himself, LaChapelle ran away to New York aged 15, and worked as a busboy in Studio 54. Immersing himself in glamorous New York disco scene, he got to know the “It” crowd and partied with the movers and shakers of the eighties pop art scene including Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. It is also where he was introduced to Andy Warhol and his infamous “Factory”. Already photographing people, LaChapelle soon gained recognition for his uniquely raw images. Snapped up by Warhol, he became the photographer for ‘Interview’ magazine and exhibited alongside other 80s pioneers Doug Aitken and Karen Kilimnik.

His style emphasising lewd, larger than life subjects became him trademark, and he embraced the flamboyant characters of the nineties and noughties. Celebrities, high fashion magazines and advertising clients were queuing up to get immersed in La Chapelle’s irreverent gaze- where anti-perfection was approved and surrealism encouraged.  However, the celebrity bubble seems to have peaked for LaChapelle, as his more recent work is a much more personal representation of transfiguration, regaining paradise, and the notion of life after death.

David LaChapelle The Rape of Africa

Breaking boundaries, La Chapelle uses fine art as a basis for his work and is the first to admit he explores the darker side of reality. Often using props, he is the master of creating make believe worlds where anything is possible. The hyper-real landscapes blend urban and suburban environments to create a make believe setting which is also super real and accessible. This form of art is contrary to what other commercial photographers were presenting, and opened up a niche market for emotions.

In fact, after shooting every celebrity (and their dog) in 2006, he stepped away from commercial work, retreating to an isolated former nudist colony in Maui, Hawaii to focus on fine-art photography and farming. Whether this break was a rejection of the fast moving lifestyle where celebrity photography comes with its own celebrity or it was a time to reflect as he openly talks about his friends who died of AIDS, his consequential work has a more personal influence.

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‘Good News for Modern Man’ is filled with sins and redemption is a deeply personal insight into LaChapelle’s life. With over 70 pieces, the narrative is as jerky as it is unanticipated, yet it seems to flow. Clearly inspired by fine artists Edward Hopper, William Blake and the Old Masters, LaChapelle has a knack of combining the two disciplines -fusing photography with art; Resulting in large scale representations of joy, lust, and paradise which are symbolic and timeless.

Mostly, these works reject the material world and are deeply spiritual or religious, with obvious reference to the greats. In particular, you can recognise Michelangelo’s ‘Renaissance’ in ‘The Deluge’ series. An immersive piece of art which engulfs the viewer in the ginormous seven metres wide span. On closer inspection you can see the sitters are big names from celebritydom, with Kanye West as Jesus, Lil’ Kim as the Virgin Mary and Naomi Campbell as Venus, which might be highly irreverent for some.

Part of LaChapelle’s work is tongue in cheek. Courting exploitation, he chooses religion to express popularity; Nothing is sacred or forbidden and his modern day representation of religious icons brings a new dimension to opinions of life after death and questions the metaphysical side of life.

With a clear shift in focus from commercial commissions, this exhibition displays LaChapelle’s personal and intuitive concepts. Split into categories. ‘New World’ shares his personal search for Eden using thinly disguised biblical references which have the background of his sanctuary in Hawaii. However these pieces are seen more as art than photography as the two disciplines are fused to produce hyper-surreal images which burst into thousands of colours in front of you.

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The exhibition will no doubt question the viewer’s spiritual beliefs, and LaChapelle even questions himself on how long modern art actually lasts. It is a must-see for anyone with an inquisitive nature as the show is not just about the artworks, but is an important slice of history which makes a profound commentary on the contemporary world.

The exhibition LaChapelle: Good News For Modern Man can be seen from 21 April to 28 October 2018.

Head to Groningen for the exhibition and stay the weekend. This up and coming city is well worth a visit and only two hours from Amsterdam, you can have the perfect weekend away!

Jesus is my homeboy

FACTBOX

Gronginger Museum

*Hotel*

A pretty, listed 4star hotel,  dating back to the 15th century.

NH Groningen Hotel de Ville

Oude Boteringestraat 43-45, 9712 GD Groningen

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*Canal Trip*

The perfect way to see the city without walking across the cobbles.

Rondvaartbedrijf Kool

Stationsweg 1012, 9726 AZ Groningen

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*Restaurant*

Delicious, healthy modern cuisine. Open late, but must book.

Brasserie  Midi

Folkingestraat 42, Groningen

Alexander McQueen fever is officially in the air.

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‘Inferno: Alexander McQueen’ by Kent Baker and Melanie Rickey

Five years after his untimely death, London is celebrating this genius London talent with two major exhibitions (‘Savage Beauty’ at the V & A and Nick Waplington’s ‘Woking Progress’ at the Tate Britain), alongside the stunning picture book ‘Inferno’ by Kent Baker and words by Melanie Rickey.

Focussing on one show- the breakout AW 1996 ‘Dante’, described as groundbreaking couture meets club culture, which took place at a Crypt in the midst of Jack the Ripper’s killing ground on a freezing March evening, in East London.

The venue in itself set the scene for mystery and intrigue, and the off the beaten track show was bound to be controversial with the fashpack who were keen to see what was next from the inventive young designer.

Coffee table book ‘Inferno’ is an insider’s view of that night. It showcases exclusive, intimate behind the scenes photographs, as viewed from the lens of fashion photographer Kent Baker; After meeting Lee through mutual friends, he casually asked if he could take document the evening, not imagining he would say yes!

The infamous show, set in the apparently haunted venue of Christ Church in Spitalfields, complete with skeleton on the front row, has never been re-created, but you can now see for yourself the buzz and excitement of the show preparation, unseen portraits, model shots, hissy fits and the master at work.

With words by fashion journalist Melanie Rickey, Lee’s peers, his ex, the creative teams, and models that walked for him, all tell their version of what it was like to know and work with the legend on the show. High energy, raw, dramatic, are all phrases that crop up time and time again, alongside tales of the freaky vibe, dark spirits and electricity, which make the anecdotes worth their weight in gold.

Known for always pushing the boundaries in fashion and production, this show was bound to be remembered- as a performance as well as the designs. With Lee once stating “You’ve got to know the rules to break them. That’s what I’m here for”

This is a book for everyone that agrees with that, and can appreciate couture, and a dark, thoughtful visionary. Long live that sentiment. Even now you’re gone.

By Sara Darling

Inferno: Alexander McQueen by Kent Baker and Melanie Rickey is published by Laurence King Publishing in March, available from www.laurenceking.com

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Stylish Rotterdam- Exhibitions for Autumn

Rotterdam never fails to disappoint in the style stakes. With modern architecture and its canal setting, it’s a great place for a weekend break. My second visit to the city felt like visiting a favourite cousin- the lush green parks, clean streets and hospitable locals making it more of a pleasure than a work chore!

 

My home for the weekend was the newest pad in town, and I was excited to sample a room on the penthouse floor of the latest addition to the city’s five star offerings, The Mainport Hotel. Aptly situated near the port, it commands spectacular views of the city and sunset. Viewed all the better in the luxury spa complete with swimming pool, Turkish bath, sauna, treatment rooms and gym on the 9th floor. Perfectly situated for a stunning view and opening hours from 6.30am – 11pm, there is no excuse not to wind down here!

 

With great sights promised on my weekend agenda, it is only right to mention that this hotel is a preferred partner of the current James Bond exhibition at the Kunsthal Museum. “Designing 007: 50 years of Bond Style” is the definitive showcase for Bond fans. Celebrating the iconic world of the world’s best-loved action man (in all his guises). The style and sex appeal of 50 years worth of films is fully explored in a blockbuster of a show. With more than 500 gadgets, costumes, classic vehicles, props and film clips, carefully curated by London’s Barbican Centre, and presented in an out of this world multimedia experience of the world’s favourite secret agent. (Whichever actor is your preference!) Back at the hotel, a speedboat ride, Bollinger (Bond’s preferred champagne) and his shaken not stirred Martini are on offer. But I would recommend the boat ride pre martini- it really is quite speedy!

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With two major style exhibitions on offer this autumn, I was very much looking forward to the `The Future of Fashion is Now´ which opened last week until 18th January 2015, at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. This promised to be a completely different experience – fusing art, design, photography, technology and fashion. Not specifically targeted to fashion fans, or art historians, this is a must see exhibition about the future of what we wear and how we wear it.

 

Showcasing more than fifty contemporary international designers, artists and creators including renowned names like Viktor&Rolf, Hussein Chalayan and Nick Knight to emerging talents such as Ana Rajacevic and Rejina Py; the gallery has been transformed into a present-day playground for the next generation of designers, who showcased their innovation interpretation of the concept of ‘fashion’.fof2

 

The exhibition has been in the making for quite some time and six cutting edge designers were carefully chosen by an international judging panel and awarded the coveted title of The Future of Fashion. These included Iris van Herpen (Netherlands), Lucîa Cuba (Peru), Craig Green (UK), and OLEK (Poland/USA) who showcased their exclusive site-specific work at the exhibition; It is worth checking the online platform at www.futureoffashion.nl for an insight into the creative process.

 

With fashion being such a commercial enterprise in the 21st century, it is interesting to see how the next generation of designers is given a free range to develop their exciting visions and take on the notion of fashion of the future. The show takes us on a journey where they re-define the concept of the traditional fashion calendar. Six monthly seasons and trends have been boycotted and the focus is on well and truly on fashion being fun, exciting, innovative and perhaps not even wearable- fusing fashion with wearable art. The technically advanced designs offer an insight of what fashion might look in the future.

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Pushing boundaries is what the Netherlands is good at, and it seems only right that this exhibition was launched in Rotterdam, a very forward thinking city in more ways than one.

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Once you have had your fill of fashion, it is definitely worth a visit to another Rotterdam highlight- the recently opened Markthal Rotterdam. The much talked about food walhalla, is one of the cities most welcome and tasty additions, offering a wide range of fresh, modern delicacies in beautiful surroundings in a glass horse-shoe shaped arch in the heart of the city. Open every day of the week until 8pm, you can be sure to want a second visit- before or after hitting the local shops- including the newly launched and biggest H & M store in Europe!

 

So if it’s art, fashion, culture, food or shopping, you are after, you can soak it all up in a weekend in Rotterdam, and with flights from City Airport, London, taking just 40 minutes, I know I will be back.

 

For more information check out the extremely helpful tourist board

www.holland.com

 

Accommodation

Mainport Hotel

www.mainporthotel.com

 

Museums

Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style, until 8th February 2015.

www.kunsthal.nl

 

The Future of Fashion is Now, until 18th January 2015.

www.boijmans.nl

 

By Sara Darling

FASHION MONTH IS FINALLY OVER: Here’s the trends you will need to know

By Sara Darling

Fashion is going raving with a nod to neon.

Pack your glow sticks for SS15, as this summer’s neon trend is not going anywhere! If you missed the boat this summer (or indeed the eighties!) several designers were re-living their youth with flashes on neon suitable for Goa-n beach parties or hot long nights in the city. Fyodor Golan provided highlighter-marker stripes and ostrich feathers, whilst Christopher Raeburn and Ashish worked up multi-coloured frenzy; Lucas Nascimento proved that doubling up is not such a bad thing, with a double dose of orange- having the same mind set is Emilia Wickstead! For accessories, Sophia Webster mashed up clashing prints and rainbow textures, while Markus Lupfer journeyed to California for his super brights ‘surf dudes’ collection. Let’s hope next summer is a hot one! Neon goes so well with a suntan!

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The 70s glamour puss

The 70s have dominated the men’s catwalks for the past two seasons, but now the womenswear designers are claiming the decade with my fave picks showcasing flattering flares, bold prints and glam rock platforms. Check out designers including Tom Ford who’s rock chick collection is perfect for Kate Moss or Mossy wannabes! House of Holland featured 70s loud prints on shirts, dresses and skirts in a mixture of that classic vintage curtain palette of yellow, green, red and orange. Matthew Williamson’s catwalk show at the BFC show space was stacked with 70s references: halter necks, jumpsuits and maxi dresses- perfect to embrace your inner hippy.

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Denim like you’ve never seen it before

Burberry Prorsum is always a popular London show. It sets trends that become instant classics, and SS15 is no different. Creative Director Christopher Bailey wowed us all with his new denim trench coat, alongside cropped denim jackets and denim with feathers- some more practical than others!

Marques’ Almeida took inspiration from the 90s and the drama of songstress PJ Harvey by incorporating black metallic denim in part of the collection, for a grungy feel for summer. Perfect for sitting under a tree and writing poetry! Joseph on the other hand did oversized double denim. In the disused industrial show space, the loose shirts, frayed edges chunky jumpers and leather were layered up to accentuate the moody mood.

Meanwhile in Paris, Kenzo did supersize denim, with wide legged pants, midi length skirts and ¾ sleeve jackets. Perfect as separates as it becomes a little last season pyjama-party as a full look. Even Milan, the capital of sophistication, mixed denim with drummer-boy jackets and silk kimono jackets at Gucci.Post-Burberry-Prorsum-Womenswear-Spring-Summer-2015-Collection-Look-17JOSEPH_ss15

 

Flower Power

With flowers never going out of fashion, somewhere across the globe designers nodded to the 60s, 70s and nineties at the shows this year, but the floral print was definitely given a 21st century makeover.

It is never a surprise when the humble flower is on trend for the spring/summer season. After all what summarises the spring more than a blooming bulb? However, this time the floral trend is a little different, with 3D floral embellishments leading the way for SS15. Erdem featured 3D floral patterns, and House of Holland featured tops and dresses with 3D floral embellishment designs.

Paul & Joe gave us pretty florals AND stripes (two trends in one!) and Sarah Burton at McQueen showed us a collection inspired by traditional kimonos, complete with leather, buckles and graphic floral motifs. One can only hope the very enviable lace up gladiator sandals will go into production too.

On the other end of the spectrum, Viktor and Rolf showed very wearable loose floral separates, and in Milan, Marni went bold with daffodils, daisies, lilies and chrysanthemums playing a big part in the the garden party collection. Achew!! Now where did I put my hayfever tabs?

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Technology Students

With designers out smarting themselves in the field of fabric development, it is great to see how engineering is fused with fashion to make some anti- sports, sportswear designs. Richard Nicoll used mesh and fibres and H by Hakaan Yildrim worked cylindrical shapes and hexagonal motif on skirts and outerwear. Marios Schwab’s collection was an architectural adventure into fitness and travel, and Preen by Thornton Bregazzi led the body con trend in scuba style fabrics and made dresses look sporty and sexy! The Whistles collection was inspired by grown up street wear, as was the new kid on the block, Nasir Mazhar who knows how to make a crop top. Alexander Wang re-interpreted sportswear with bodycon dresses, high-heeled pumps and sporty accessories- which you don’t need to wear at the gym.

Even the humble parka was brought back to life at the New York shows, with a makeover by J. Crew and Marc by Marc Jacobs, and Hugo Boss offered us a safe and completely wearable take on the polo shirt.

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Gingham girls

Stripes and checks make for a Little House on the Prairie trend with New York leading the way. Diane von Furstenberg showcased flirty dresses perfect for the French Riviera, and bound to put a spring in your pedicured step! Oscar de la Renta is as glam as you can expect, and his checks took a large, pastel turn. Shorts suits coupled with loose oversized jackets are perfect for layering and pretty enough to see you through any weather and Lela Rose showed us that checks don’t have to look like your granny’s tablecloth in her version of the spring summer two piece! And if you need any extra assurance, check out Altuzarra- perfect for the sexy girl. The gingham silhouettes unbuttoned just enough to tantalize and a silhouette designed to flatter. Whilst the Italian powerhouse Mui Mui took us on a trip to a John Walters film with 50s inspired pencil skirts and housecoats.

In London, we did it slightly differently and Ryan Lo presented a knitted version in a sugarcoated pastel palette and Lulu Lui gave us vertical stripes – if you have the legs for it! Or spend the next five months getting those legs into check!

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By Sara Darling

 

 

 

HORST: Photographer of Style

For fashionistas in the know, Horst P Horst will not be an alien name to them. A German photographer with a classic background, he set the rules of fashion photography across his sixty years in the business and is a huge influence on fashion photography today.

With a retrospective to celebrate his decadent career, “HORST: Photographer of Style”, is a must see for fashion lovers- and is on now until 4th January in London’s  V & A.

Showcasing a vast catalogue of over 250 images from his six decades of style, his love for beautiful women and encapsulating them in print is evident. With his models dripping in pre-war haute couture, and post war ready to wear, it is not only an insight into one of the photography greats, but a lesson in fashion history, as all pieces used are credited and dated from the designer’s collections. Opulent and cinematic, high-society models and celebrities are captured in timeless, classic settings and are a true inspiration for fashion shoots of today.

Totally passionate about the shoot process, this ‘magician of light’ racked up 94 Vogue covers (including French, British and American) which are on loan from the Conde Nast archive, alongside iconic images of some of the most talked about Hollywood stars- including Marlene Dietrich, Rita Hayworth, Vivien Leigh, Ginger Rogers and Bette Davis, to name a few. He also launched the careers of Lisa Fonssagrives (who went on to marry Irvine Penn) and was the first to shoot designer Elsa Schiaparelli.

Taking inspiration from his post war travels, his later work consists of portraits, nudes, nature and still life, which can be viewed alongside a collection of lavish interiors shots- which became his passion until his death in 1999.

With so much to see, it might make your normal life seem boring, but don’t let that put you off!

HORST: Photographer of Style is at the V & A.

By Sara Darling

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Vogue cover

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The Glamour of Italian Fashion

The next must-see fashion retrospective to hit the V & A is ‘The Glamour of Italian Fashion”, which is showing as the spring exhibition in April.

 

Capturing the exciting, influential period post world war two, it is the first major show to dissect Italy’s rich and varied design and cultural history from the past 75 years, with a carefully edited selection of original mens and womenswear garments on display.

 

When you think of old school glamour, I bet Elizabeth Taylor is pretty high up on your list; And as you would expect, she is a big influence for the Italian fashion industry, and much is referenced at the show. Everything from her fabulous ball gowns to her vast collection of bling- including the Bulgari diamond and emerald jewellery, which Richard Burton gave her as a wedding present (after all, it is a Bulgari sponsored show!)

 

The infamous “Sala Bianca” is also celebrated, as the first of it’s kind fashion shows staged in the Sala Bianca in Palazzo Pitti, Florence. Originating in the 50s, the innovative runway show were a way for real models to showcase designers and tailoring to a wider audience, and marked the beginning of Italian designers international success.

 

With original designs from some of Italy’s most well known and loved names such as Dolce & Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Missoni, Prada, Pucci, Valentino and Versace, the show also exhibits current designers, popular on the Milan fashion week circuit, alongside the next generation of talent including couture by Giambattista Valli, ready-to-wear from Fausto Puglisi and work from Valentino’s new designer duo Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli.

 

With Italy to this day, leading the way as an aspirational, luxurious and quality led design hub, the exhibition breaks down 75 years of history into bite-size segments, 100 original garments and snippets of information, including the fact that when Marilyn Monroe died in 1962, she was buried in a her favourite Pucci dress. And if that’s not pure glam, I don’t know what is!

 

Dig out your best frock, and get inspired…

 

The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014, sponsored by Bulgari, runs from 5 April – 27 July 2014 at the V&A.

 

By Sara Darling

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ABSOLUT Vodka x KITTY JOSEPH

ABSOLUT Vodka is celebrating all things autumn with a launch of limited run of four million designer bottles to get us in the mood for the party season!

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With previous collaborations with Tom Ford, Versace, Stella McCartney, Gaulthier and Gareth Pugh, this season they have produced a capsule collection of womenswear and accessories, designed by recent graduate Kitty Joseph. Entitled “ORIGINALITY”, it celebrates emerging talent and is modeled by breakthrough US artist Njena Redd Foxx in the accompanying fashion film, (directed by Rohan Wadham).

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Kitty Joseph’s collection takes inspiration from the ASOLUT traditional cobalt blue and the unique printing process mirrors the flow of vodka to create a fluid and flattering print on a dress, skirt, vest jacket and trousers. She has also created a limited edition jewellery range including sunglasses, rings, earrings and bangles, which will go on sale alongside the bottle.

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Since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2011, Kitty has forged a career in trend prediction and colour consultancy. She has already collaborated with Zandra Rhodes and Piers Atkinson, and has created bespoke pieces for Lady Gaga and Carine Roitfeld, and now you can wear her wares.

Check out the collection here and Add Your Drop!

www.addyourdrop.com

 

By Sara Darling

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Burberry does Paris

If you, like me, are in love with Paris, and all the shopping that comes with it, you might not need any persuasion to pop over for a weekend!

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And with autumn drawing closer, Brit label Burberry has joined forces with iconic department store Printemps, to share the love of it’s much loved trench, as part of the ‘London Mania’ celebration. Burberry has joined forces with the store and will be transforming the windows into a series of London scenes to bring a piece of edgy and downright eclectic London to gay Paree.

Using Burberry’s iconic trench coat as the inspiration, the window displays fuse British heritage with 21st century innovation, and allow passers by to be transported into a truly unique London landscape.

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If you are lucky enough to already own a Burberry mac, you might want to participate in the ‘Art of the Trench’, which is a unique notion where the real people who wear the classic trench coat are used as models- whether known or unknown! The victims are being snapped at various locations throughout Paris and the images are being displayed in the atrium and store windows.

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To coincide with the Printemps initiative, a limited edition collection has also launched, featuring bold new denim and soft leather jackets. Each piece is inspired by the energy and excitement of the London live music scene, so if that’s not a good excuse to go to Paris, I don’t know what is!!

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‘Burberry loves Printemps’ runs from 22 August – 20 October 2013.

By Sara Darling

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