Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Inspiration - Carolin Holzhuber & Surrealism.

When I first saw the work of designer Carolin Holzhuber, I had to know more. A pair of shoes fused with another pair of shoes? Wait, what?!  Can those actually be worn either way? I'm still not sure of the answer, but my guess is "yes."

photography, Thuy Pham
photography, Thuy Pham

I did some "research" (read: google) Carolin Holzhuber and found that that the Vienna and London-based designer "takes something that normally creates aversions and transforms it into aesthetical objects" according to notjustalabel.com, a website that supports "pioneers in contemporary fashion."  If you haven't ever explored this site, I strongly suggest you check it out.  It's a wealth of information and a great gateway to discover emerging talent.

photography, Thuy Pham

These pieces remind me of another favorite Surrealist/Dadaist artist and sculptor, Meret Oppenheim.  The artist presents with un-usable, impossible objects full of internal contradictions.  Many of her works incorporate found objects wrapped, bound, or fused with conflicting materials.





The concept of blurring the line between style and art is very dear to my heart. I love when things are out of balance, exaggerated, and cause you to look twice.  Carolin Holzhuber takes her inspiration from "mirroring, reflection, and conjoined twins."  It is quietly in-your-face, subtle yet powerful, and can't be ignored.

http://carolin.holzhuber.at/carolin_holzhuber.html

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Jewelry Lust, and Happy Spring!

Happy Spring! (and Happy Easter, if you celebrate it :). The flowers are just starting to come up, I did some yard work today clearing away dead leaves.  I was motivated to get out and shoot some photos, despite the air still having a distinct chill.


Spring/summer is a perfect time for showcasing your favorite pieces of jewelry.  The bulkiness of gloves, scarves, piles of fabric, coats isn't there to impede your multi-chain necklace or cause your rings and bracelets to fall off when removing a glove.  Spring/summer clothes are more basic, with thinner fabrics and simpler cuts...what better way to add interest to a look?

I thought I'd share some of my recent favorites with you...

UK based Tessa Metcalfe's post-apocalypitic-inspired pigeon claw rings were just something that when I saw them, I knew I had to have one.  She also does necklaces, earrings, and bespoke engagement pieces with a variety of stones.  My only complaint is that every time she creates something new, I want it.  Everything she makes is so well-crafted.  Also, she has an amazing Instagram account which I highly recommend everyone follow!  Snap up a piece by this designer asap, as her work is growing in popularity!




Gabriel Urist has a showroom in a neighborhood where I used to to live, and that is near and dear to my heart, Fort Greene, Brooklyn.  If you've ever been there, it is a really cool mix of artists, designers, musicians, teachers, dog-lovers, and creative people of all types.  I like that his style is a mix of pop and classic designs, there is almost something baroque about some of the lettering styles and pieces...(all images below, http://gabrieluristjewelry.com)  Also there's an emphasis on the handcrafted, personal touch.  I really like the bold calligraphy and the positive yet in-your-face feeling the pieces have.


Wendy Brandes is another NYC designer who just makes everything cool.  She creates pieces at a variety of price points.  Loving her funny emoticon earrings and rings, as well as her "single" earrings in sterling silver that can be mixed and matched.  Also the statement initial pieces are stunning, and very funny.  If you've read my blog you know I love style that has a sense of humor and whimsy, which a lot of her pieces tend to have. (all photos below, http://wendybrandes.com)  They are also not for the faint at heart, bold, statement pieces that speak for themselves!





One of my most recent purchases was from Portugese designer Carolina Curado.  I absolutely fell for her worn-under-the-finger "fingernail" midi ring, I've never seen anything like it.  I'm also totally in love with her ear cuffs....so unique and beautifully crafted.




I also have a collection of plain bands that I wear as "midi" or "above the knuckle" rings.  I picked them up there and there, but mostly at arts fairs, flea markets, and craft fairs.  I just buy the smallest sizes they have and wear them on whatever finger they fit.  They're great compliments with the larger pieces or just on their own.  All photos are by me unless otherwise noted.

Thanks for reading! x

Friday, April 18, 2014

Inspiration - 5 Unconventional Style Icons.

Cass Elliot, or "Mama Cass", a folk singer from the 1960s, portrays a kind of easy, natural beauty.  Her effortless, elegant way of dressing should be an inspiration to us all.  An original "flower child" or "bohemian", Cass's life met a tragic end due to a heart attack at age 32, but I always loved listening  to her sing on The Mamas and the Papas records with my parents when I was little.  She's proof that you don't have to be a size 0 to experience the joy of dressing up, or to look amazing in clothes.





Yayoi Kusama,  a Japanese installation artist who creates large scale, environmental works is known as much for her art as she is for her eccentric and colorful fashion choices.  She continues to live, by choice, in an asylum in Japan as she has since 1977, making her a very unlikely style icon. Her style, it would seem, is an extension of her artwork, which is often characterized by  bold color and repetitive, obsessive patterns.





image, whitney.org

Edith Bouvier Beale, a former model and socialite, was the first cousin to a very well-known style icon, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.  However, unlike Jackie, Edith, or "Little Edie" as she came to be known, lived largely in obscurity, isolation, and poverty with her mother in an aging home in East Hampton, New York, as depicted in the Maysels' 1975 documentary, "Grey Gardens." Despite having next to nothing, she was also plagued with alopecia. Yet her creative, inventive and unusual way of dressing have made her somewhat of a cult style icon.  She always manages to look elegant, refined, and poised.





Frida Kahlo was a self-taught Mexican painter who led a tumultuous life.  A horrific bus accident as a teenager left her almost paralyzed and with health complications that spanned her entire life.  Despite being confined to a hospital bed for long periods of time, she managed to paint a stunning body of work, keep a beautiful house filled with artifacts and artwork, and to meticulously costume and dress herself with the utmost care.  Her regal headdresses, scarves, wraps, and beautiful long, bold jewelry, traditional dresses and trademark "bold brows", have come to be associated with her persona as much as her stunning self-portraits.   Also, Kahlo interestingly dressed androgynously long before it was considered "cool" (this was the 1900-20s!).

Frida Kahlo (far left) wearing a man's suit for a family photograph.




Grace Jones is a Jamaican-born singer, fashion model and actress who rose to stardom in the 1970s-80s with her gender-bending, cross-dressing style.  Jones is a true original, mixing minimalism, androgyny, and high-end, editorial glamour, but always with her own twist.  It's a bold, daring and original look that seems to have influenced and inspired a lot of the pop stars and celebs of today (Lady Gaga, Amber Rose, and Santigold come to mind...)






I find all of these women inspiring because of their unconventional lives and their style choices.  They overcame great personal barriers and challenges.  They defied conventions and notions of traditional beauty while looking fabulous and strong.  They elevated their personal style to an art form.  I often wonder if these two ideas go hand-in-hand, that personal struggle or not fitting in, while difficult, creates a space for unbridled self-expression when one overcomes life's obstacles?  Staying true to yourself and embracing what may be different about the way you look is a way to have an edge in life, to stand out from the crowd...

It's often these people we remember: the ones who were truly creative and dared to experiment with what they wore, rather than those safe cover models who were stylish by society's standards as well as "conventionally" beautiful.

Thanks for reading...who inspires you? x

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Interview with ThreadWritten Textiles.

In an age of consumption, throw-away garments meant to last only a season, and thousands of products mass-produced on an immense scale, it's always a treat to find someone who acknowledges artistic heritage, and helps us to reconnect with the hands-on feeling of making something special.  If you don't know what it's about, I'd like to introduce you to the "Slow Fashion" movement, and along with that, to ThreadWritten Textiles, an accessories and home-decor company based in Oakland, California.



Owner, Designer and Creative Director Sarah Pedlow is putting emphasis not only on the handmade product, but the faces of the women artisans behind it. I caught up with Sarah in this interview, where we opened up a dialogue about fashion, heritage, and preservation in a discussion about her company's process and projects.

Q: I read on your blog that you were inspired to start ThreadWritten during your travels in eastern Europe.  What drew you to that area specifically?

A: When I studied abroad in college, Budapest, "the Paris of Central Europe", was on my list of travel destinations.  Unfortunately, I didn't make it there.  Years later, while thinking about applying for another artist residency, I stumbled upon the Hungarian Multicultural Center residency.  Through the residency, I was able to spend a month exploring and falling in love with the city.  I started photographing a series of street scenes with hand-stitched patterns.  My visit to the Ethnographic Museum changed the way I felt about textiles.  I couldn't stop thinking about the ornate costumes and the embroidery work.  I also love the mix of aesthetics in cities with a Communist history.

Q: Can you explain a little more about "slow fashion"?

A:  The Slow Fashion movement developed in 2007, based on the principles of the Slow Food movement. Its basic tenets are quality over quantity, preferring sustainable, eco-friendly materials and ethical practices, a high level of craftsmanship and experienced labor, with an emphasis on educating consumers.  Making a purchase is an investment in the product and the people making it.  Slow Fashion is about the hand-made piece that, while fashionable, is timeless.

Q: I think it's great that you put faces and names to the women behind the work.  How did they feel about that? 

A: Meeting the women and getting to know them is one of the best parts of what I do.  Many were happy to share their names and photos while a few preferred to remain anonymous.  I'm so glad the anonymous women agreed to be photographed, without being identified, and share a little about their lives and their sewing.  I love carrying my bag, remembering the woman who spent hours embroidering it with care.



Q: I was so impressed with the lace and embroidery work I saw on your blog.  About how long does it take to make one of these pieces?

A: Most pieces take several hours up to a few days broken up with time spent preparing meals, tending to family and home, and for some, their animals and gardens.



Q: Is there still a strong emphasis on teaching this craft today?

A: Fewer and fewer women practice the Kalotaszeg írásos style of embroidery.  Orsolya, a woman in her 30s, who translates for me, learned to embroider in grade school, but sewing is no longer part of the curriculum.  Women who used to teach their daughters and granddaughters no longer do.  I was surprised at how difficult it was to find this style of embroidery when I first traveled to Transylvania in 2012.  The churches hold beautiful tapestries that commemorate events or were made as gifts to the pastors, but otherwise it is hard to find them outside of museum collections.  Most women I met practice less labor-intensive forms of embroidery if they are doing any handiwork at all.

Q: You seem to join art, fashion, and travel seamlessly! (pun intended).  Do you have any tips or advice for a young, creative enterpreneur?

A: It's all about making connections and finding a thread between ideas, visual elements, patterns and places.  Don't be afraid to start putting out feelers.  Do your research, and take a leap (ideally in that order)!




Q: What's the most inspiring part of ThreadWritten?

A: As Sara Meaker, who has been coordinating work in the Kalotaszeg region, said to me last October, "Everything, all one's experience and knowledge, build upon each other, enriching each other." I've created a business where I combine my art, design, and travel experience, along with service.  Learning about culture and connecting with people to make something together is a joy and a blessing.  Getting to know the women and their traditions, and sharing that with others, is the heart of what I do.

Q: Where we can purchase your pieces?

A: A few of my first bags and phone cases are available here. For those in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'll have a booth at the Hungarian Heritage Festival in Belmont, CA, on May 10.

Q: What can we look forward to in the future?

A: With the help of Pastor Csilla in Damos, Sara Meaker in Huedin, and Reka Fogarasi, a filmmaker and the owner of Ide and Oda, I made a short documentary of two women demonstrating how to stitch írásos. They will keep the video as a record of the style, and are already using it as a teaching tool to help others learn the different stitches.  I hope that ThreadWritten will motivate more women to learn or re-learn the technique.

Two small, limited edition pillows will soon be available on my site.  I'm currently designing a more formal structured tote and clutch.  You can follow me here: facebook.com/ThreadWritten, for details.  I'm also @ThreadWritten on Instagram, and at pinterest.com/sarahpedlow.

(All images featured in this post, courtesy of Sarah Pedlow.  Also, check out this video!)

This post is the first part of a new series of interviews and commentaries on emerging artists, designers, and stylists.  If you would like to take part, or know someone who would, please leave me a comment below, and as always, thanks for reading.  Let's continue to grow this community and exchange our experiences and ideas :) x

Sunday, April 13, 2014

virtual closet - April 2014 wish list.

So I've decided to do a monthly (maybe bi-monthly?, if I get ambitious?) post highlighting some coveted designer pieces, wardrobe investments, things that I'd buy without a second glance if my budget could allow it.

First up:

This shirt by R13.  You can get it at sites like Net-A-Porter and LaGarconne.  I pretty much love everything R13 makes, but this one reminds me of zines and drawings my friends and I used to make on the backs of our notebooks in high school. It's a cashmere and cotton blend, and it costs $195.

image, net-a-porter.com
I'm thinking I'd style this with some baggy plaid trousers, and a fitted leather jacket, maybe tuck the pants into the tops of some chunky heeled platform boots.

Next up, a classic.  I've wanted one of these Moschino logo belts for a long time and this may be the year to finally save up and get one.  They've been around since the 80s-90s, and have recently been seen on "celebrities" yet again.  Just a simple way to really give any outfit that always-needed touch of badass.  Moschino has a lot of different styles, sayings and colors on their website, but I prefer this classic black one with gold letters. ($295)

image, moschino.com

Since were on the logo kick, I'm living for this incredible necklace, with "mantra" motto, from I STILL LOVE YOU NYC, and available at internationalplayground.com.  I found out about this site a while back, forgot about it, then rediscovered it (love it when that happens) ;) also, this piece is handmade in New York, which I think is awesome.  There's also a smaller "candy" colored version, and different sayings.  This XL one is $75.

image, internationalplayground.com

This post could probably have something from Swedish designer ACNE on it every time, like R13 they can do no wrong in my eyes.  Amazing balance of a rock / grunge, humor and high fashion.  I'm including 3 of my fave pieces here...

image, acnestudios.com

image, acnestudios.com

image, acnestudios.com

I mean, how awesome is that hard case clutch($1000)? ._.  I'm kind of a whore for accessories, I suppose, but the slashed jacket ($3000) and bondage sandal ($670) ? Works of art. What I like about all these pieces is that they are bold, but still very wearable and add instant sass and irony to an outfit (if both those things are possible at once.) Also, I seem to be leaning toward a very neutral palette for s/s '14.  I have to say I'm not feeling pastels or the crazy florals that I'm seeing on a lot of the interwebz.  How will I translate these ideas to my everyday look? I'll be posting about that in the next upcoming months...stay tuned and as always thanks for reading x