Premiere installment of new work, april 2013

Posted: April 19th, 2013 | No Comments »


Aesthetic Attraction and Repulsion: Malnourishment in the world of high fashion

Posted: March 1st, 2013 | No Comments »

SOOOOOOO………..it’s finally Women’s Fashion Week here in Paris!

The Fall/Winter 2013 Season is off to a great start, with some incredible collections hitting runways all over the city. I’ve been travelling outside of Paris for the last two fashion weeks, so I haven’t had an opportunity to experience the buzz myself until right now – what’s ironically 14 months after my arrival in Paris! 

Although the clothing is aesthetically remarkable, I find myself evaluating it as the materialization of artwork by a fine artist, not as a functional garment made to flatter the female form.

Personally, the first thing that I look for in a garment is fit, and I ask myself the question if the clothing accentuates and flatters my physique and face. The models who walk down these runways are not an accurate representation of my body, or the bodies of the people women know, even living here in notoriously body-conscious city Paris, where women smoke cigarettes and drink café alongées as meal replacements! The models have BMI’s significantly lower than what’s considered healthy by western medicine, yet they’re the embodiments of fantasy that wealthy female customers around the work pay thousands of dollars a year to emulate. 

These fashion shows are a tool to build consensus and generate market demand for high fashion. Acting in concert, the brand, the designer, the company’s investors, the front rows occupied by powerful magazine editors which head publications like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Grazia, collude to generate demand among the American populace for clothing and beauty trends, as well to reinforce body image fads. 

It’s hard to imagine the model Catherine McNeil, (who has been featured on my blog several times for her striking beauty and beautifully proportioned body) whose photographs can be seen above, wearing the black Nina Ricci gown, shown below, to a charity gala in her own life. The garment is held up by shiny transparent bra straps, as the model no longer has the curves necessary to take advantage of the corseted design of the dress’ bodice. It no longer makes sense to invest in the seamstress hours necessary to make the garment fit McNeil, as the dress will later be delivered to aa PR showroom where it will be handled by buyers, editors, and PR showrooms, where it will be tried on by other models who likely will be larger than McNeil is – - 85% of this garment’s lifetime will take place after the runway show, so why make it tinier than a size zero for McNeil?

Catherine McNeil no longer looks like the gorgeous young woman seen above – check out some of her runway and street style pics from Paris Fashion Week (February 2013) below:

McNeil has made a tremendous change in her physique in the last year, which was likely the product of photographers, her agent, modeling agency, and other financial stakeholders encouraging her to lose weight in order to win projects and notoriety. She no longer looks like the vision of femininity seen above – in contrast, she looks sallow and aged beyond her young 23 years.

More reporting from Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2013 to come soon!

Julia


Elin Kling, Miroslava Duma, and Hanneli Mustaparta for Louis Vuitton in Paris

Posted: December 6th, 2012 | No Comments »

Check out this video starring Swedish style-maven and blogger Elin Kling, Russian style-leader and head of Buro 24/7′ Miroslava Duma, and blogger Hanneli Mustaparta LV’s new line of mini bags, to be launched Jan. 2011

The music is so breathy, funky and upbeat, and I love to recognize the lesser-known non-touristy nooks and crannies of Paris that have become part of my daily routine here. I especially love the shot of the galleries around Place des Vosges at sunset, Elin riding her bike through the narrow alleys of le Marais, and the scenic bench at the very tip of Isle Saint-Louis.

Enjoy!


Brad Pitt stars in “There you are, part 1″ in support of iconic fragrance Chanel No. 5

Posted: December 5th, 2012 | No Comments »

Chances are that you’ve seen both the television commercials as well as the wildly successful Saturday Night Live parodies of Chanel’s promotional film for their flagship fragrance, Chanel No. 5.  

Earlier this year, Chanel recruited the internationally-renowned actor Brad Pitt to star in a highly-publicized film in promotion of their iconic 91-year-old fragrance, Chanel No. 5.  The 30-second piece, entitled “There You Are, part 1″ can be viewed below:

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“There you are…” has succeeded in producing controversy and spurring impassioned conversation among bloggers, publicists, and creatives in the international luxury market. The age-old adage states that any publicity is good publicity, but is this campaign moving consumer perception in the right direction for the luxury brand?

“To keep a legend fresh, you always have to change its point of view,” said Andrea d’Avack, president, Chanel Fragrance & Beauty. “It is the first time we’ve had a man speaking about a women’s fragrance. We think very much that the perfume is a seduction between a man, a woman and the perfume. No.5 is our leading fragrance, and we are willing to make the investment to keep it on that level.”

Many of my friends are Chanel enthusiasts, myself included, who are thoroughly taken aback by the creativity and wonder of the twice-annual theatrical spectacles (more frequently called fashion shows) put on by the brand’s Creative Director, Karl Lagerfeld. Lagerfeld is extremely talented and his persona is an entity that we all enjoy following. Lagerfeld is the brand’s figurehead and he fulfills his role with great tact, effortlessly giving thought-provoking interviews in flawless English, French, and German on the historical, cultural and psychological roots of contemporary fashion, as well as his collections for Chanel.

For those that know Chanel also know the strong foundation the brand has projected throughout the last 20 years. For these reasons, the press release set the stage for something great, and in response, the public anticipated something interesting. Something nuanced. Something worthy of and complementary to the global powerhouse that Chanel brand-managers have painstakingly constructed and protected over the decades. And although Chanel is a household name, any brand manager will tell you that a brand’s persona is a vulnerable house of cards, only as strong as it’s latest messaging campaign. In fact, Lagerfeld himself has been widely quoted as saying “You have what you see. That’s all.” 

The 30-second film “There you are…” is a wacky and almost slapstick meta-commentary on the world of advertising and media culture today. We first see Brad Pitt appear on camera in what seems to be a strange grey room. Brad stands arms in his pockets as he stares off into the distance. When Brad begins talking, his irises paint circles around the room, as if he is tracking a fruit fly in his periphery. It seems that he tries to bring the lifeless copy to light by intermittently staring in the lens, as if he’s giving an inspirational poetry reading to an AA meeting.

The portion of the film between 25 and 28 seconds resembles a nuclear-winter-catalyzing explosion of an atom bomb, spurred by the ominous appearance of the No. 5 bottle. The fluctuating and moving spotlight behind Pitt causes the viewer to assume that the production takes place on a cost-strapped film amateur film set up in someone’s kitchen, vulnerable to the interference of sunlight blowing through an open window nearby.

Most strikingly, just reading or hearing the actor’s incomprehensible script makes further criticism unnecessary. The first two sentences are the most ridiculously embarrassing, and then it gets more symbolic. Are Brad and Chanel two infinite spirits traveling in a parallel fashion through the depths of space, caring not for the relatively unimportant role of the physical world. But then if we go on, can we take our No.  5 bottles with us? Are there retail locations where I can refill my bottle after a few months of non-stop travel at the speed of light? Judge for yourself:

It’s not a journey. Every journey ends but we go on.

The world turns and we turn with it. Plans disappear, dreams take over.

But wherever I go, there you are. My luck, my fate, my fortune. 

Chanel No. 5.

Inevitable. 

The result of “There you are…” is a botched attempted at an art film that crashes and burns so unmistakably that it’s heinously campy production has started a vicious cycle. The micro-film has hit such an intensely negative chord within viewers that it’s done something few advertisements have ever had the staying power to do – it’s execution so botched that it consistently reignites fervent and heated parlays of negative criticism on the blogosphere and is, unfortunately for the brand, widely-accepted to be a humorous point of cultural reference many months after it’s launch. Accolades for the film are few and far between, and are drowned out in a deluge of not only negative, but incisive, condescending, and outright humorous characterizations of a production who’s aim of nuanced and understated sophistication has collapsed into a pool of sallow, globally-ridiculed bile.

Fashionabdecaire has written that:

“By hiring a name with brand power equal, if not above its own, Chanel has not only generated interest and earned media beyond the fashion sphere, it has taken an insurance that its most lucrative and best known product would be left unscathed.”

Yet I would argue the opposite. While it’s true that the public’s criticism of the piece focuses chiefly on the film, rarely mentioning the quality of the perfume itself, many articles go on to question the decision-making ability behind the brand’s marketing body, thereby questioning the qualifications of a marketing team who’ve made grave errors in all facets of the production.

And I tend to agree – why was there no auditory body to qualify and challenge the philosophical and aesthetic rationale behind the photography, the lighting, the meaningless pseudo-philosophical script, the special effects, and even the hair, makeup and wardrobe choices of the production team? At what point do we stop trusting the judgement of a director, in this case Joe Wright, who is celebrated for his direction of recent films including Atonement and Anna Karenina, and ask probing questions, followed by comprehensive focus group testing across demographics before justifying an out-of-this-world international media budget? I can’t help but ask myself what Lagerfeld’s role was in the development and auditing of this production. Of course any production of this level of investment is a group effort comprising the contribution of many, but who at the Chanel’s marketing helm green-lighted this disaster? And what creative and empirical testing did they undertake before doing so?

Much of the film’s negative critics posit that the fundamental film’s fundamental shortcoming is that men have not and can not effectively sell women’s perfume. Yet I would argue otherwise and ask the question  ’Why not?!” Just as images of men and women’s bodies entangled in nude embraces sell millions of bottles of men’s cologne, women’s attraction to and fascination with the male body and mind are as good of a vehicle as any to make a lasting impression on and attract women to a product that is as visceral and sensual as a scent.

While d’Avack declined to comment on the advertising spend for the Pitt campaign, industry sources estimated that the brand was spending at least $10 million on U.S. advertising, as well as an estimated $7 million for Pitt’s services.

With over $10 million spent on the US media budget alone, Chanel is undertaking a huge investment to propel the product back to consumer’s top-of-mind during the pivotal Q3 and Q4 holiday shopping period, but has the investment been realized? At the time of writing, the Youtube version of the original film has been viewed over 6.6 million times, excluding tens of millions more earned impressions on the dozens of parody videos that have been produced and virally-disseminated over the period since the campaign’s launch.

Sales numbers are not yet in for the previous quarter, but it will be interesting to track the quantifiable effect on the product and larger brand’s sales in the coming month of the pivotal holiday shopping period, but also the larger impact this misstep will have on brand perception and popularity for years to come.

 


New Paintings by Yago Hortal

Posted: November 10th, 2012 | No Comments »

Spanish-born artist Yago Hortal, currently living and working out of Berlin, rejects 2-dimensional elements of formalism in his contemporary abstract painting.

” I am not only referring to oils, industrial acrylics or other combinations in the mixes and the tinctures originating from chemical advances, but also to the possibilities derived from resins, conglomerates and the expansive catalysts which is posited in the rupture of the already surpassed two-dimensionality, that concept required by Clement Greenberg under the term flatness for the painting to be considered as art. The expansion of colour, the protagonist as I have said, in Yago Hortal’s work, across the space, beyond the surface of the canvas, is a logical consequence of the roots of his compositional approach (the psychological portrait of colour) and its physical materialisation has been facilitated by the latest generation of specific industrial products. In the last series the colour has grown upwards as much as beyond the limits of the canvas in a movement which is not only justified in the incorporation of the volume in the work but also, in my view, in the consequently clear omnipresence of its leading character – colour. The form is pure colour, the space is pure colour. If “the form is never anything more than an extension of the content” as Charles Olson states and the space is nothing more than the realised form, in Yago Hortal the colour contains all the answers because it is also the origin of all the questions. For the eye, with its recondite bond of nerves and its terminals of neurons in the brain, there is nothing more than colour. All the rest is a fictitious composition which the mind creates. Colour is the true face of the universe. The source of our understanding. Its analysis, therefore, is the way in which it is possible to decipher the mysteries of a reality which cannot otherwise be distinguished from mere entelechy.

- Curator Carlos Jover, on the work of Yago Hortal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Фольк or «Fölke», new work by Julia Kuznetsov, Fall 2012, Paris

Posted: November 8th, 2012 | No Comments »

JuliaKuznetsov_Fall2012_folleke_series_girlwithheadscarf1

 

Speaking French every day, spending afternoons with romans in the park, sipping café allongées in the sunshine. And working working working chez moi. C’est la vie française


Model Karlie Kloss, shot by Greg Kadel for October 2012′s issue of Numero magazine

Posted: October 11th, 2012 | No Comments »

 

Young, Midwestern former ballerina turned international supermodel Karlie Kloss is becoming more impressive with every photo shoot she completes. She’s truly a contemporary classic, with as much gravity in the modeling world as Christy Turlington during the 90′s.

 Карли Kлосс становится все лучше и лучше с каждой фото сессии. Она шедевр современной классикu.

Karlie Kloss devient plus habile à chaque prise de vue. Un classique contemporain, avec gravité autant que Christy Turlington dans les années 90.










She just gets better and better. A contemporary classic.

Карли Kлосс становится все лучше и лучше с каждой фото сессии. Она шедевр современной классикu.

Karlie Kloss devient plus habile à chaque prise de vue. Un classique contemporain, avec gravité autant que Christy Turlington dans les années 90.


Paz de la Huerta in Matt Black’s short film “Nothing Personal’

Posted: October 9th, 2012 | No Comments »

The makeup and hair styling are initially off-putting but ultimately add interesting dimensions to her character.


A Balmy, Soft Summer in Angora.

Posted: September 14th, 2012 | No Comments »

Living vicariously through images these days as it continues to be cloudy, overcast, humid and rainy in Paris this summer. Glad to have gotten away to Spain for two weeks and then Germany for one to get some sun, but after a long July and August spent under the clouds, I’m ready for another vacation.

Some exciting new design projects in the works, can’t wait to share them all with you!

 



Daria Werbowy in Céline Fall/Winter 2012 Editorial

Posted: August 14th, 2012 | No Comments »

French RTW brand Céline really missed the mark on their FW 2012 Editorial Campaign.

Daria Werbowy is a stunning, lanky Polish model with delicate features, dewy skin, and one of the best figures in the industry.

This print ad for Céline’s FW 2012 collection manages to butcher her, as well as the brand’s own unpretentiously chic aesthetic.

Not only is the clothing designed and assembled in a haphazard, piecemeal way, but the design team’s beauty and hairstyling choices, as well as Daria’s body language, come together to portray a desperate, disheveled woman, down on her luck, unshowered, and forgotten to pack her jewelry or comb on whatever sad trip on which she’s embarked.

The beauty execution is not only minimal, but it looks as if Daria isn’t wearing any makeup at all, as dark circles are seen under her eyes in several images. Her new tousled, Parisienne hairsyle is abrasively short but if washed and styled correctly, could work to complement the nonchalant and unfussy aesthetic, but instead looks greasy and unkept.

Shot on Poloriod film by Jueurgen Teller, this ad series adds nothing and detracts a great deal from the multi-million dollar chic minimalist brand Céline’s Creative Director Pheobe Philo has worked so hard build over these 4 years.


Flashback: Marchesa Spring/Summer 2012

Posted: August 14th, 2012 | No Comments »

Why not take an enjoyable walk down memory lane with some gorgeous gowns from Marchesa’s Spring/Summer 2012 RTW Collection? LOVE. 


Art as Idea.

Posted: May 22nd, 2012 | No Comments »

Art as commerce. Can we have a non-barter-based system of capitalism without Intellectual Property Law?

Enjoy some new work. I am finishing my French finals at the Sorbonne this Saturday, after which I will have plenty of time for blogging, new art, and travel. Stay tuned.


Recent Work

Posted: February 12th, 2012 | No Comments »


Soviet Pop: Experimental Analog Synth Performance

Posted: January 26th, 2012 | No Comments »

Interesting video showcasing a contemporary experimental musical group out of Beijing – enjoy the analog synth sounds of Soviet Pop.

Like Kraftwerk and other groups of the 60′s and 70′s, Soviet Pop use mechanical or analogue synthesizers for their performances, the technological predecessor to the electronic synthesizers and digital studio production equipment used today.

In my observation, our generation is so quick to call pieces “experimental electronic music” — it’s a phrase that’s nailed to our communal easy-reach vocabulary board. Yet employing analog, non-digital, synth, adds a layer of musicianship and individualism to every performance, as the inherent variation in the way the tool processes signals prohibits the musicians from ever repeating the performance the exact same way. In a way it this tool refers back to traditional, kinesthetic instruments that vibrate air and generate sound waves rather than electronic patterns – imprinting it’s unique fingerprint into every performance.


Naturalistic Beauty

Posted: January 10th, 2012 | No Comments »

Rag and Bone’s latest marketing campaign recently invited some high-profile models and cultural figures to take photos of themselves living their lives in Rag and Bone jeans.

Many models require a creative team of makeup artists, hair artists, professional lighting technicians and skilled photographers to achieve good photos.

Take for example one of my favorite high-fashion models, Abbey Lee Kershaw, who I’ve mentioned several times before in this blog, who also participated in this self-portraiture campaign. Unfortunately her photos reveal an overly thin woman who is no longer beautiful without a deliberately composed context of luxury and glamour. Here are some photos of her in what I presume to be her home, without styling of high-fashion clothing stylists and hair and makeup artists.






See her entire photoset here. 

In stark contrast, fashion blogger and ex-model Hanneli Mustaparta, whose blog can be viewed here, created a lovely set of self-portraits that not only showcase her skill as a photographer (not that Paris is a challenging backdrop) but also display her natural beauty as seen in her sensual figure, faultless skin and bold smile.





It’s important for young women to remember that the visions of beauty and elegance they see between editorial pages are just that, artistic visions created by teams of skilled artists. It’s easy to lose touch with reality when one is surrounded by the world of fine art, fashion, and beauty.


Bienvenue à Paris, Mesdames et Messieurs

Posted: January 10th, 2012 | No Comments »

“Pina” a film for Pina Bausch by Wim Wenders

Posted: January 9th, 2012 | No Comments » YouTube Preview Image

Entranced by this dance film in honor of  the legendary choreographer Philippina “Pina” Bausch and sleuthing as to it’s next showing in Paris.

Did I mention that I’ve moved to Paris as of the new year? So far living here is just as romantic as visiting!


Discipline breeds Elegance

Posted: January 8th, 2012 | No Comments » YouTube Preview Image

An excerpt from the ballet “Amelia”, performed by dancers from the company La La La Human Steps.
Performed by ​​Mistaya Hemingway and Jason Shipley-Holmes.
Choreographer – Edouard Lock and Composer – David Lang.

Отрывок из балета “Амелия” в исполнении танцоров студии La La La Human Steps.
Исполняют Mistaya Hemingway и Jason Shipley-Holmes.
Хореограф – Edouard Lock, композитор – David Lang.

Un extrait du ballet “Amelia”, interprétée par les danseurs du Studio de La La La Human Steps.
Réalisée par Mistaya Hemingway et Jason Shipley-Holmes.
Chorégraphe - Edouard Lock, Compositeur - David Lang.


Sorrowful Beauty – Gemma Ward

Posted: November 29th, 2011 | No Comments »

 


Gilted Neoprene Love Story

Posted: November 29th, 2011 | No Comments »

Evocative of 1980′s Versace, this Elle USA October 2011 editorial features Miranda Kerr as a lavish, sexually vibrant and playful persona.