As fashion month comes to a close, the art world is ready to saddle up for a season of frantic activity, beginning with last week’s Frieze Art Fair in London and running all the way until Art Basel Miami in December. For the next two months, the world’s prime gallerists, artists, and collectors will roam across the Earth in the search for the best showcases and sales – and this week, it’s all about Paris, who hosts its annual FIAC art fair. While FIAC is one of the older fairs of the European continent, it’s only in recent years it’s really re-established itself as a leader in the industry, attracting a great variety of blue chip and emerging names from around the world. Its international importance has made the FIAC week the most important of the year for the city’s museums and galleries, as proven by the wealth of exhibitions that can be experienced in the city. Should you be an uninitiated outsider – or frankly, just more concerned with the latest droppings on Vogue Runway, but still down for some painting-watching – despair not; here are four shows not to miss this week in the French Capital.
As summer turns to fall, Netflix offers a wide selection range of interesting, watch worthy fashion documentaries. Dries, Manolo and Jeremy Scott; The Peoples Designer (watch it! You will never again think Moschino without also thinking Scott’s adorable parents). In the series The Social Fabric, streetwear designer Kyle Ng travels the world to discover the origins and meanings of iconic accessories and garment pieces. The t-shirt, the cowboy boot, the leather jacket, even the fedora is up for examination on the show that provides its viewers with a wider knowledge on some of fashions recurring items. But, as we have learned the later years, there are other – and less fun – sides of the industry, on which we have to keep educating ourselves. A new documentary produced by BBC Three picks up the thread from Andrew Morgans The True Cost (2015), by bringing focus to some of fashions dirtiest secrets.
The center of the 19th century universe was undoubtedly Paris – the city of lights, the pioneer of couture, and the historical cradle of what we today know as art. From the founding of the public museum Louvre in the wake of the French Revolution, to the rise of the art salons and annual exhibitions that promoted the newest avant-garde frontier, it’s in Paris that art finds its modern rendition. Since, the city’s art world has taken a few tumbles, overwhelmed by a dominating fashion industry, expensive real estate, and a cultural localism due to language barriers. However, in recent years a momentum has been building once more for the city’s cultural frontier, aided by the success of art fair FIAC (opening 18th of October) and a recent expansion beyond the notorious highway periphery by several galleries and artists. One of the strongest voices in this new generation of art intermediaries is Nordic Contemporary, devoted to showcasing the best of Scandinavian art in the French capital. Co-founded by fellow Scandis Jacob Valdemar and Andreas Emenius in 2014, Nordic Contemporary has moved across the city in nomadic fashion until they in 2018 finally moved into their permanent gallery space near Republique. The aim of the space is to create long-term visibility for Nordic art and showcase internationally the Nordic region’s increasing importance on the global art scene. Opening the group show DARKEST BEFORE DAWN next week – responding to dystopian and dualist modes of critical thinking, and featuring Norwegian, Finnish and Danish artists –we sat down with Emanius to learn more about the project.
It’s no coincidence that in the current moment of social and political crisis in America, where bigots and abuse of power prevails over democracy and transparency, fashion sees a retreat to an older, more romanticized idea of the USA – open pastures, college towns, road trips, deserts, and so forth. Leading the way is Raf Simons – a European – at Calvin Klein, but also Acne Studios, Luar and Telfar can be seen to reference the iconography of Americana, riffing Western movies while lovingly mocking it, critiquing it, and making it queer (don’t forget, idealized images of “old” America is also the political rhetoric of fascist Trump!). Our current favorite, however, is Wrangler, an apparel brand that doesn’t have to be “inspired” by America of yesteryear because they actually helped establish it (or, at least, dress it): since 1947, the company has been crafting the sharpest jeans for utilitarian workers as much as fashionistas, gaining them popularity across the world. Their F/W collection sees a group of kids running around in the woods of Idaho, while the collection features aesthetic cues from 1970s and 80s silhuettes. What’s more American than that? While Wrangler might not be able to single-highhandedly solve the political crisis in Washington DC, we’re feeling inspired by their reclaiming of an American identity.
The world is built on opposites, and controversies make the world go around, but the ditch between renewal and originality has grown too wide for me to overlook. While the industries strive for revolutionary techniques and innovative products, they also want history, authenticity and originality. The ditch makes the long contradictory and difficult to satisfy, and I wonder if it too wide for the industries to overcome. In search for an answer to this, Swedish fashion brand, Acne Studio’s autumn/winter campaign, is worth noticing.
Secrets do not last very long in fashion. Among lost secrets are bare ankles, calves and cleavages. Once they were hidden, tucked away in all sorts of materials, but through history they have been exposed – and today, they are known to every man and woman walking the streets. A shame? Perhaps. Secrets aren’t all bad, and nothing triggers curiosity and fantasy as much as a secret that you know is within your reach, but still escapes you. Fashion is, in that way, very much like a game of hide and seek, and what makes us play is our own curiosity. Whenever our curiosity is satisfied, the game is over. It is in other words, it is the balance of cleavage and not cleavage itself that gives pleasure. Going through the SS19 collections, it seems that secrets are making their way back. Silk wrapped around cores and necks, calves put into stockings and faces hidden away behind knitted balaclavas; skin is creeping back under the fabrics – and better yet, it’s doing it right in front of our noses.
In the current age of conglomerate fashion, the consumer landscape is hypersaturated with corporate collaborations with young designers. It’s a win-win situation – the designers get exposure, a paycheck, and access to production systems well beyond their reach, while corporations enjoy street cred among fashion insiders which translates into economic revenue. The outcome are of varying quality – and like all other trends, we tend to grow tired from this model, with most projects being quick one-offs that teach us nothing knew about either collaborator. But Moncler’s love affair with British designer Craig Green is the ultimate exception. And the story is only getting better day by day.
In large part, fashion history tends to cast its focus on the privileged echelons of couture, as well as its mythologized cast of designers, stylists, models and business owners. Sure, Coco/Yves/Karl were/are interesting, alluring, fascinating makers of fashion – but it’s delusional to think that style only trickles down from above. Particularly in the last 50 years, street culture has invented, transformed, and revitalized the way we think of fashionability – far beyond the gilded runways of Paris. Fashion historians are better to begin to take note of Harlem, Berlin, and the outskirts of Paris as places of style-making – god knows that the industry already is! A nice recent contribution is the documentary Fresh Dress by African-American filmmaker and musician Sacha Jenkins. The film unfolds as a magical chronicle of hip hop’s relationship to dress, starting at the Southern plantations of pre-Civil Rights America to the black church and Little Richard. Through an incredible line-up that includes Kanye West, Pharell Williams, Nas Jones and Andre Leon Talley, Fresh Dress traces the development of hip hop dress up to today, where its influence is felt more than ever. The best part is, the whole thing is already up on Netflix for you to binge on this fashion month. Who needs the runway when you have the streets!
Watch Fresh Dress here.
Happy news. Model, collage creator and creative mind, Hanni Gohr, and jewellery and accessory brand HVISK are joining forces in a new collaboration launching this august. The result is a collection of three different sweatshirts inspired by Gohr’s creative universe and her year-long tradition #FridayFactsFromHan. The hashtag is used on Gohr’s Instagram post each Friday, and offers her followers just one little fact about any given theme – from whale’s farts to coastlines’ lengths. The sweatshirts come in three different colours; pink, blue and red, and each has its own fun fact written unedited on the back. On the front is a word linking to the back printed in block letters. ‘Cheeky’ doesn’t appear on any of the sweatshirts, but it doesn’t have to; it’s written all over the campaign, shot by Petra Kleis, a photographer with the same easy-goingness about her as both Gohr and Hvisk (what makes all three of them damn cute too). Washed denim, puffed sweatshirts and socks in sandals are what the models (Gohr’s best girl gang and step daughter) are wearing, and they look exquisite. Oozing well-being and surplus, I doubt they would do better in a cocktail dress. The collection launches the 30th of August with a celebration courtesy of Hanni and HVISK. The launch is held in the HVISK flagship store at 4 pm – 6pm, Pilestræde 36, 1112 CPH K.
Words by Mathilde Nielsen
For more information, see Hvisk