Fashion for Future

 

Last week, while a bunch of people went to the Fridays for Future Climate Strike in their nearest city, a friend and I took part in a Future Fashion tour in Stuttgart.

A complaint I often hear, especially living out in the countryside, is that people would support fair and sustainable designers or clothing lines, but they have absolutely no clue where to get it. It’s hard to find. It’s loads easier to grab that fast fashion, because it’s right there. It’s everywhere. Plus it takes a bit of work to find organic, sustainable, or fair clothing and accessory makers unless someone tells you where to look.

And that’s what this tour did. While thrift and vintage was also a part of the tour, we also learned which new recycle bins (see “Fair-Wertung” pic above) we should use. I was also pleasantly surprised by how many new young designers are sustainable, organic, vegan, and fair (or a combination of these – there still isn’t one perfect solution yet). Each consumer has to invest the time to think about which values are most important and worthy of support.

There’s a whole new world out there, of people making good things: so if you happen to be passing through Germany, check out the Fair Fashion Network for interesting small boutiques and makers near you.

It’s all part of each person’s developing a personal future fashion strategy:

  • making
  • upcycling
  • mending
  • thrifting/vintage
  • leasing
  • new purchases

 

I even learned a new tip on airing clothes between wears in order to cut down on water usage and microplastics in the water. I’m no expert, and it’ll take a while to add to the routine, but it’s worth a shot.

More tips on how to remove odors from Brooklyn Fashion Accelerator.

 

In other news: Pierre Cardin exhibition at the Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf until January 5, 2020. Exhibition trailer here.

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Back to School: Bauhaus

Anker’s Summer Shirt
Anker‘s Summer Shirt

Fiber season is upon us again, as September has started and temperatures cool down. What a summer! I’m pretty sure it’s the hottest summer on record in Germany. Even hotter than last year. Not so good for the forests – the forester has been into the woods near us to remove some of the sun-damaged

At the moment, I have Petite Knit‘s Anker‘s Summer Shirt on the needles. I love the clear lines on this pullover, but I‘ve taken a break to ask the Internet what the pattern means with Marker stitches. I‘ll add an update when I figure it out.

I originally thought of pairing this fairly easy knit with easy-on-the-eye binge-watching, but as the German saying goes: things always go a little differently as planned. I cannot tear my eyes away from the screen to keep track of my needles. I‘ll have to work on that.

I‘m watching „Die Neue Zeit,“ (Bauhaus: A New Era) about the start of the Bauhaus movement. Yes, Bauhaus-Autumn has started, with a six part series. It’s got more content than the film „Lotte am Bauhaus“ (English: Bauhaus), which was ‚inspired‘ by the experiences of Bauhaus designer Alma Siedhof-Buscher.

I am absolutely thrilled that these stories are being told from the perspective of female characters. That’s one way in which the #MeToo movement has affected Germany.

Already, I‘m one episode in (5 to go), and they get straight to the point: how could a movement so committed to overturning the old order, continued repressing women.

Speaking of old order, it‘s amazing to see the fashions on the different characters, 1890s, 1910s and pre-1920s, which position the female characters exactly.

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The old guard /source: screenshot arte.tv

The Weimar old guard, in the form of old school artist Hans Gros painting the Baroness von Freytag-Loringhofen’s portrait painted on her lawn. There are gardners in the background clipping shrubs. Her guest and political co-conspirator is drinking lemonade (I hope!) from a gold-rimmed glass, while she poses in a sunhat on a striking rattan chair). Interesting the power she yields because of her wealth and engagement in Weimar art circles.

In terms of art, they want to defend the old way of doing things. They believe they know everything they need to know, and resist any new ways of seeing or doing art. In terms of fashion, it absolutely fits that she’s ten years out of fashion, holding on to the past. Reminds me of the Dowager Countess, Lady Violet Crawley from Downton Abbey.

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The new / source: screenshots arte.tv

Then we have these two young students who at the start couldn’t be more different: Dörte Helm, who is still wearing corsets and 1900s skirt-suits, trying to please her father and all the professors. Gunta Stölzl, who is wearing a knit jacket over free flowing clothes sans corset and who isn’t afraid to answer back to a professor.

We get a fairly good idea of what Weimar student life looked like, but also the little details of what it meant to be a woman in this time of transition. On the one hand, Dörte is escorted to school by her father, and seems to dread getting married. On the other, Gunta comes into the train compartment and proceeds to cut off her (wartime Red Cross nurse uniform) dress sleeves because she‘s hot. In front of several strangers. She’s not afraid to shock folks.

There‘s a scene where Gunta is doing some light evening weaving, and although they start talking about guys, the conversation shifts to crafts. Gunta asks Dörte if she knows how to do any handcrafts (knitting or weaving). Dörte shows her scarred hands and replies that she learned in her girls‘ school, where mistakes were punished. And I thought it was amazing how much was packed in there about class, wealth, women‘s education, handcrafts and even our ideas of creativity (pattern vs intuitive process).

So yes, passes the Bechdel test. I‘m looking forward to bingeing this at some point this month.

 

Why Beauty Matters

 

In a Nutshell- Why Beauty matters
Screenshot from “Why Beauty Matters” by In a Nutshell 

I was remiss in not including this exhibition at the MAK Frankfurt on my recent list for Summer ‘museuming’ here. Sagmeister and Walsh, a New York-based graphic design team have curated a very beautiful and yet convincing statement on why we have less Beauty in our everyday lives, and why it’s worth seeking it out.

The curators have basically shown that although Beauty as a value is crucial for or health and well-being, we as a global society seem to place the least attractive forms (brown buildings) in our landscapes. I had to laugh out loud at the installation piece comparing the Moscow and Munich subway systems. The former is beautiful while the latter is dreadfully functional.

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Neon definition of Beauty  /MAK Frankfurt 

It explains why we are drawn to Beauty, and why there’s such a disconnect between modern art, architecture and even fashion and regular people these days. It turns out our sense of Beauty evolved with us as a species. So when someone says “I don’t know about art, but I know what I like,” she’s got it right. We do know, on a profound level.”

Sagmeister & Walsh are showing that we can improve our lives by adding beauty on a community, design or even a personal  level.

The interactive exhibition also encouraged visitors to take pictures of objects from the MAK Frankfurt’s permanent collection, that they personally found beautiful. Here are my top three:

 

 

There were however so many beautiful objects there. So here’s some more.

 

 

Which of course got me to thinking about knitting and crochet and crafting, and wondering if this explains the resurgence of interest in crafting even though we can buy a machine-knit garment, the Beauty of the handcrafted cannot be denied. I’ll post on that once I’ve thought it through a little more.

The only thing I didn’t like were the loud speakers piping down audio explanations at several points in the room got to be quite a cacophony.

The exhibition will run until the end of September (2019).

 

Finally summer

We’ve had a wet summer here, and I’ve been grinding away on my Prayer Shawl.

I’ve been wondering, how to keep my knitting Momentum going during the warmer months. And coincidentally, I came across an older article in the Oprah Magazine Archives about Tiffany Haddish, the American comedian and actress.

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Tiffany Haddish Sept 2018 Glamour

She’s a knitter – even going into adventurous territory of knitted Lingerie. So here I am, with my interest piqued…

My first question was why?

Well, firstly, you might want to see if it were at all possible. Or, you might want to try out vintage patterns, when hand-knit Lingerie – perhaps of the stocking, sock, or Camisole Variety. You might like the look and feel of handmade Lingerie, or perhaps you have that one skein of luscious yarn that you can’t bear to knit into socks, but isn’t quite enough for a Sweater.

lingerie_mcgowanmichael1Joan McGowan-Michael, says that “… hand-knitted Lingerie is hardly a revolutionary idea; it is simply one that is being revived.”

In her book ‘Knitting Lingerie Style’, she answers my second question: surely not wool?! She suggests “luxurious silks, linen blends, or easy care cottons… [chosen for] stretch and recovery, their shine, crispness, or simply their indulgent softness against the skin.”

This book is 12 years old, but some of the pieces are really timeless. The bra set, the slip and this Teddy on the cover are my favourites. I was pleasantly surpised that most of these pieces call for a 4.5mm/US 7 needles and DK yarn Held double with something sillky or soft.

A Lingerie knitter could go finer, with fingering or light fingering yarns as with

 

 

Images: Ravelry.com

Anne Hanssen’s She must be dreaming set, Amanda William’s Hush Chemise,  and Charlotte Kirkholt’s Louise set , which is at once modern, while harking back to sets like the vintage 2 piece Tailored Hand-Knitted Lingerie from Evelyn C. Palmer. Funfact: The neckline variation shown in the background, is called the ‘opera top,’ to be worn under slinky evening gowns.

 

 

I don’t always like her humour, but I respect the knitter in her, who went hardcore knitting that lingerie in wool, and I’m looking forward to when her film The Kitchen hits cinemas over here.

100 Years Bauhaus

 

Leiden by  Natalie Selles in the summer stripes issue of PomPom Quarterly and the crochet Coco Boxy Sweater by Cecilia Losada bring the Bauhaus to mind, with their clear lines, use of bright colour, contrast and graphic shapes.

 

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Bauhaus Sweater by Irina Poludnenko / source: ravelry.com

Irina Poludnenko’s Bauhaus Sweater brings to mind the work of Anni Albers and Gunda Stölzl, two talented artists who basically got shunted over to the weaving department. Although this move was motivated by the Bauhaus director‘s desire to reserve the ‚hard‘ disciplines for men, this restriction inspired a blossoming of creativity in both production and philosophy as evidenced in Albers‘ seminal works On Designing and On Weaving. Both works are highly recommended not just for weavers, but textile artists in general.

If you happen to be in Germany later this year (2019), I hope you won’t  miss the Bauhaus centennial celebrations. The  design school founded in Weimar in 1919, shortly after the first World War, has had an amazing and far-reaching influence on design worldwide from architecture to fashion, product design and graphic design.

I will be revisiting Bauhaus but here are a few links to whet your appetite::

The Art Newspaper article on Anni Albers

Tours through Southwest Germany to look at Bauhaus architecture

UHF video on the German Weimar Republic, the era 1918-1933 when the Bauhaus was founded.

The permanent collection of the new Bauhaus Museum in Weimar is definitely worth a look-see. I hope they put up an English website soon. But not to worry, 100 Years of Bauhaus as an extensive English website of everything Bauhaus and -related for this year.

 

Camp:When “too much” is just right

(All photos: huffingtonpost/Getty images)

Lady Gaga at the 2019 Met Gala in Brandon Maxwell

 

Of course Lady Gaga won the Met Gala. She had to. She could do no less, because she’s been serving camp as industry leader since 2008. But now she has some steep competition from Billy Porter.

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Billy Porter at Met Gala 2019 in The Blonds

And that’s fine, because we love the spectacle. Still, I have to give credit, where it’s due. The men brought it this year. And that pleasantly surprised me. Menswear on the red carpet hasn’t always been known for glamour. But they impressed. Maybe because the bar is so low for them, and so high for women.

This was more than drag (the divine Mr Porter nonwithstanding) or a coloured tuxedo jacket. It’s always interesting to see who tries to hit the theme (a try is better than a fail in my book), just as much as who hits it out of the park. Although it is performance, it says a lot about the celebrity, how they want to be seen, and how seriously they take it all.

 

It seemed that quite a few men (and not just the younguns like Ezra Miller) decided to get in on the fun.

I’m not quite sure what carrying a spare head is about, but it does answer the question “Is this too much?” in the affirmative. And Hamish Bowles’ purple tux and fabulous feather fringed coat checks every box on the list.

Ezra Miller’s extra set of eyes behind his face flips the script and makes the observed the observer, but Jordan Roth’s custom couture cloak from Iris van Herpen deserves a second look.

Closed, it looks like a classic red stage curtain, but when he raises his arms, you see that it opens to reveal not the stage, but the audience seats. So who’s performing and who’s observing. A nice bit of table turning there.

Well done, lads!

What is camp?

Susan Sonntag wrote an essay in 1964 called Notes on Camp. Trying to circle in and corner a definition of camp, and what it is, or is not. Some people say her essay is legendary, perhaps it is because she made a solid attempt to define something not quite defineable. Still,  I’m not sure she succeeded.

La Lupe, Flash Gordon Comics… just over the top.

Lady Gaga, Harry Styles, Serena Williams, Alessandro Michele the creative director of Gucci (the sponsor)… even the number of cohosts is slightly over the top.

Harry Styles and Lady Gaga were easy to understand as cohosts for this theme. I was wondering about Serena Williams, until I dipped back into the glorious Internet archives and found this photo of the tennis superstar ‚going to work‘ in her tennis blazer at the Australian Open back in 2014. and she is certainly no stranger to playing with fashion both on and off the court.

So, I got to thinking about camp in knitting and crochet. Can yarncraft be camp or just campy? And then I found this sadly discontinued YouKnitWhat?! blog… that I had to laugh out loud and share it here.

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Isn’t this knit camp perfection? Have a great weekend full of crafting goodness! 

Less, but Better: Fashion Sustainability

spool of purple thread near needle thimble and measuring tape
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Well, it’s that time of year again: Futurelearn’s got a new fashion course out. It’s called Fashion & Sustainability. They‘ve had fashion related courses in the past. This time, the courseis being run by the London College of Fashion’s Centre for Sustainable Fashion in collaboration with luxury fashion group Kering (parent company of Gucci, Puma and Stella McCartney to name a few).

I‘ve only just completed Week 1 of the 6-week course, but I can tell right off, that it’s a bit more academic and philosophical than Fashion Revolution‘s course, but it’s in the same niche.

From a maker point of view, I think Hannah Thiessen‘s Slow Knitting was a great pulling together of sustainability thought in the yarn-crafting community.

Trendstop Founder Jaana Jätyri talks about Less but Better as a means of getting companies to shift their focus and reduce production that ends up on the sale rack.

I‘m looking forward to keeping you updated.

 

What’s on my needles: I‘ve finally cast on again – Alix‘s Lace Prayer Shawl by Myrna Stahman for a dear cousin of mine who’s not so well at the moment. More on the shawl later.

 

RIP: Karl Lagerfeld

Karl Lagerfeld, creative director of Chanel and Fendi, passed away at the age of 85.

Deutsche Welle documentary/tribute to the controversial German designer, writer, painter, illustrator, cat-lover and director here.

Illustrations from Lagerfeld’s Fendi by Karl Lagerfeld published in English by Steidel Publishing.

And a lovely retrospective of his work in Vogue here.

Winter reading: just finished

I just finished reading a book that‘s been on my list for a while now, The Lost Art of Dress by Linda Przybyszewski.

A fascinating work by Professor Przybyszewski, a historian of law, fashion and culture describes the past and the development of fashion, fads (which used to mean For A Day!) and dress codes.

What fascinated me was the decline of Home Economics as women‘s options in academia opened up, and how Pop Art, the feminist movement and the Youth Quake of the 60s and 70s shifted the focus of fashion designers and of society to youth as the ideal of Beauty.

I wonder what she’d think of the Kardashians’ influence on the modern body beauty ideal and athleisure…

Kudos as well to Prof Pski, for integrating African American Dress Doctors into her book. This led me to research African American Dress Doctors Charleszine Spears and Ella Mae Washington, who also penned a teaching text in 1949 called Color in Dress: for Dark-Skinned People. Luckily, I have come across a digital copy archived by the American National Museum of African American History and Culture.

My Pinterest board to accompany the book.

Art in Everyday Life by Harriet and Vetta Goldstein