Private Collection: summer shoes

 

 

from the exhibition flyer, Pfinzgaumuseum

 

I went to a local Heimatmuseum (most districts and cities in Germany have some form of Heimatmuseum or association,which has permanent exhibits about the history of the specific area), the Pfinzgaumuseum to take a look at a private collection of summer shoes, called ‘Bambus, Binsen, Birkenrinde’ (Bamboo, Birchbark) .

The private collector, Hildegund Brandenburg, an architect made these shoes while away with her family on holiday. According to the exhibition information, it all started more than 20 years ago during a holiday in Norway. She described how her children were bored out of their skulls. So, the idea was to get the kids out to gather natural materials to make a house. She ran into some tree bark and decided to make sandals for the kids.

“I imagine myself to be a woman from prehistoric times, who has to make shoes for every family member every day.”

She often uses glue, needle and thread, but mostly restricts herself to using her swiss army knife. Her ideal shoe is one that is made of only one material, and quick to make.

She further describes how, compared to architecture, where the timeframes can be very long (from idea to completion), making a shoe is almost like instant gratification. After a while, it seems, she would make only one shoe ( I guess as a souvenir, once her kids were grown), as she wasn’t interested in repeating the process.

 

 

One shoe, highlights the real challenge for her: getting to know the materials intimately (characteristics, life period and stability, static and dynamic limits, and compatibility with other materials), and solving the thorny problem of how to connect the various parts. Each shoe tells the story of the holiday – from the Mediterranean palms, cork from Corsica, tree bark from Northern Europe.

I had expected twenty shoes, quaintly displayed, and was pleasantly surprised to see over a hundred sandals spread out on shelves. The museum did attempt to provide some extra information about the various regional plants used. This exhibition belongs in a museum of applied arts or the shoe museum in Hauenstein, with more space and resources to show the shoes and their materials properly.  What would interest me, was how prehistoric people solved that summer shoe problem…

 

 

 

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Who is Daniela Gregis?

It has taken me a while to milk the Internet to find Information about this unusually (by today’s standards) reserved designer. 

Daniela Gregis AW2018
Daniela Gregis A/W 2017-2018

Daniela Gregis was born in 1959 in Bergamo, Italy. She was a doctor’s daughter, who later trained as a herbalist. She started working in Fashion when she launched her first label Ok’am in 1987. She collaborated with Naj Oleari on various Projects, and since the 1990s has been working on textile research. She currently lives and works in the Bergamo region of Northern Italy.

She, too is a maker. In interviews, she has said that she had an aunt who crocheted, and taught her. She recalls that her first shawl was out of orange synthetic yarn. Her use of knits and crochet in her collections underline the connection with the artisanal, slow means of production.

At the end of her catwalk presentations, all her workers and tailors come out and take a bow with her. She honours and celebrates not just craftsmanship, and the handcrafts (she includes embroidery, handwoven baskets, knitting and crochet in her work), but also of materials (wool, linen, silks). At the same time, she doesn’t shun modern Technology, so she will show handpainted- beside laser printed silks.

Her passion is Japanese culture. These influences can be seen in her designs, which are often sold alongside Comme des Garcons, at IvoMilan and Dover Street Market.

 

Vertical: left column Looks from A/W2017-18; middle and right: Looks from S/S 2016

Her current collection, Triciclo, (italian for tricycle, but also has that idea of three cycles) starts with a model in head to toe black and evolves (in roughly three cycles) to a colourful bright red silk evening gown.

“In Fashion, avant garde … presumed forward thinking, artistry, unconventional designs, new forms, structures and an extraordinary touch that separates the ideas from the Mainstream.”
– Barbara I Gongini

We might be tempted to think ‘old woman clothes.’ They are actually quietly avant garde, in the sense that they are experimental, and still pushing the boundaries of form, construction, and how people think of or wear  clothes.

For makers, each collection provides a master class in how to incorporate handknits and crochets into a wardrobe: her hats, handbags, collars, mittens, muffs, scarves, Pullovers, necklaces, wraps and shawls are a shout out to makers everywhere.

 

Links:

Daniela Gregis’ website

Ivo Milan’s Radical Fashion blog

Tiinathestore’s interview

Selvedge Magazine profile

Profile on D-art.it

Agnautacouture’s 2016 blog post correcting another fashion Blogger

Designer Barbara I Gongini on avante garde

 

 

Making & Anti-fashion

Captain Fantastic

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I watched this film with my in-laws and kids recently. I was struck by how differently we viewed the content matter of the film. My kids loved that the children didn’t have to go to school, and hated that the mom had died. My in-laws loved how free-thinking and independent the kids became. I  was struck by the colourful knits and the idea of self-sufficiency woven through the film.

 

 

 

It wasn’t until I was explaining to my father-in-law that Viggo Mortenson’s T-shirt was from African American politician Jesse Jackson’s (and not the cowboy outlaw Jesse James’) failed presidential run, that it hit me: Almost all the clothes the family wore was thrifted.

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Whereas some of it might have been adjusted or embellished, the clothes were reduced to their original function: to cover and provide warmth. Seen that way, it’s absolutely irrelevant that the T-shirt was from 1988.

These days clothes mean so much to many, shaping and projecting their identities. Or the identities they would prefer to project. Never have we been freer to wear what we want, how we want it. So free, in fact, that a refusal to follow any types of  norms of society is also a clear message. Although it may be a message that the intended audience doesn’t, cannot or will not read correctly. This theme is played out constantly through the film: two value systems constantly clashing. Thesis and antithesis.

So what is this anti-fashion message? My guess is that clothes should be about us, and how they make us feel, rather than about labels. The mom wanted everyone to come to her funeral dressed in their brightest party clothes, to celebrate her life rather than mourn her death. How can anyone be sad in a bright red disco suit? Or Missoni lookalike hotpants? Or a killer whale onesie?

Do your clothes make you happy?

 

Link: The New York Times review and interview with the costume designer.

London: Fashion Crescendo

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It’s taken me a while to connect all the dots from my visit to London.

Busy city. Fashion metropole. Jam-packed city centre streets even on a drizzly sunday afternoon. The bustle. Of tourists on a monday. Constant.

 

Rising in crescendo in the Top Shop. Latest styles hot off the runways. Teen girls trying piles of clothes for the right thing. Twens popping in for a new blouse after work. Shoes piled high in the discount bin. Costume jewelry, handbags, all the things. But made where? And by whom?

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via Daily Prompt: Crescendo

Holiday impressions 2

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Evening Dress / Balenciaga 1963/ V&A museum

 

Still thinking about structure and control, which brings me to the Victoria &Albert Museum’s  Exhibition Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion. It refers rather cleverly to the fact that Balenciaga was a designer who has had a lot of influence on other fashion designers (a designer’s designer, especially to those who are trying to be innovative within the field). It also refers to the fact that if you want to create 3-d shapes (ie garments) out of 2-d material, you jolly well need something to hold it up.

  1. You need structure. And Balenciaga was a master tailor and couturier, who knew how to manipulate the fabric toaccomplish the most remarkable things with fabric.

“This evening dress – displayed inside out – shows the attention to detail in constructing a couture gown. The net bodice, structured with steel boning… Fabric edges are bound with silk tulle and hard fastenings covered in velvet for comfort…”

-Victoria & Albert Museum

 

In short, a fascinating exhibition with garments not just by Cristóbal Balenciaga, but also from several designers who came after him, and cited him as mentor or Inspiration.

It’s amusing to see that the flared sleeves and pleats that are among this year’s hottest trends, look as if they’re borrowed straight from his sketchbook.

 

Top row: Tulip dress, Wool tweed Skirt suit by Balenciaga

Bottom row: Evening dress by Balenciaga, Ballons Dress by Sybilla (Spain), Cocktail dress by Roksanda Ilincic

Summer Road trip: Textile Museum

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“Hausweber” means  “Houseweaver”. The Textile Museum, Nettetal, Germany.

The Textile museum in Nettetal is called “Die Scheune (the barn)” in a lovely old building close to what was previously the toll close to the Dutch border. This area along the Rhine is still a prosperous agricultural area (flat fields and wooded area stretch for miles and miles inviting you to get out a bike, and get rolling!).

 

 

 

Images from The Textile Museum; Spinning wheel from De Pannekookehuus (The Pancakehouse).

Earlier, among other things, a lot of flax was grown in the region. Linen was a commonly used fabric. If you wanted it white, then you had to send it off to Antwerp to have it bleached. Of course the Antwerper craftsmen kept their trade process a secret, and built up a thriving trade, in part making the city the bustling trade centre it was and still is.

 

How to wear tricky colours: Greenery

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I was standing* in front of this larger than life print of Ruth Bernhard’s Young Gingko Tree, when I realized this was the solution to a colour challenge posed by Justine Leconte on her popular youtube channel.

Let me catch you up a bit. Justine Leconte is a young independent french designer, based in Berlin. She has a wildly popular vlog about fashion and design on youtube. Her episode on coming to terms with Greenery (Pantone’s 2017 Colour of the Year) was sadly unsuccessful, although fascinating to see her brainstorming process.  And so, it got me thinking about Greenery and incorporating trendy colours into one’s handknit wardrobe.

My first instinct, was to slap some green onto a capsule outfit, like so

 

 

 

Top: Alice+Olivia Jazmine cropped stretch knit top (The Outnet.com); Trousers: Zeus+Dione Pleiades pleated Linen-chambray culottes (Net-a-porter.com); Shoes: Rag&Bone Margot Suede Ankle Boots (stylebop.com); Sweater: Opening Ceremony UMD X crew jumper (farfetch.com); Preowned Carved Green Jade earrings (1stdibs.com)

It isn’t a satisfying solution, because I wouldn’t actually wear this.  You see, this green has a lot of yellow in it,  and so it can be a difficult colour to wear close to the face. I would rather keep the green away from my face. In the form of accessories. So, I would look to handknits like belts, bracelets, fingerless gloves, socks to add that quick pop of green.

And so, this little Gingko tree inspired me to think of this combination:

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Sweaters: Ready to fish Tilia concrete knitted T-shirt (shoplaluce.com) / Molly Ripped strik sweater (youheshe.com) / Tom Ford Asymmetrical Cashmere Sweater (mytheresa.com) ; Top: Striped T-shirt (Mango.com); Trousers: Marni cropped gabardine wide leg pants (net-a-porter.com); Sneakers: Sequin Full Kelly Green Canvas Converse Canvas Lowtop sneaker (Etsy.com) /Adidas Originals superstar boost silver metallic (Jade24.com); Ring: Pre-owned Antique Imperial Jade Platinum Ring (1stdibs.com); Pendant: Maori Jade Pendant (billythetree.com); Watch: Vernier Gold and Green Bangle Watch (Zulily.com); Bag:Michael Kors Jet Set Medium Saffiano Leather Tote (designerscentralstore.com)  

Yup, when in doubt, Nature almost always has an answer. Or even more than one answer:

 

 

Photo: Northern Light over the Taiga by Olivier Grunewald; Rose Prickle by Thomas Wolf and Bernd Seydel

Would I wear either of these combinations? Red and green, or Purple and green? Maybe, maybe not, but I would definitely use these combinations for colourwork. Or other types of knitting. A green bracelet with red or even purple beads. An i-cord ring with a felted flower in green with a purple centre.

 

*The exhibition is called The Wonder of Nature and is running at the Gasometer in Oberhausen until November30, 2017. Quite spectacular photographs and video installations of plants and animals from all over the world.

Stash & our Consumer Society

 

Just got through an interesting magazine interview in Der Spiegel with Frank Trentmann (his book “The Empire of Things” has just been translated and released in German). Trentmann is a history professor at Birkbeck College (University of London), says that we’ve been living in a mass-consumption society since around the 17th and 18th centuries.

He talks about consumption in the Renaissance, and late chinese Ming dynasty, about anti-luxury laws in the 15th century, how colonialism and the industrial revolution changed people’s ideas about consumption, to where we are today. Although he’s a bit cautious and sceptical about any bandaid fixes, he does mention several things that we’ve mentioned: repairing, mindful consumption, and political action.

On the other hand, it’s a bit of a consolation and pespective, that we as people didn’t suddenly become frenzied consumers. We’ve been this way since the 15th century.

“We express ourselves through what we buy [and acquire]…” – Frank Trentmann

So, what are we expressing through Stash? A connection to cozy cuddly knits, a tradition of artisanal handcrafting?  To the origins of the things we consume? Perhaps all of this, and more.

Weekly Remix: New & Knit

Just a few things I’ve come across this week:

Kinshasa Collection: a new webseries about a film team that delves into the world of international fashion. The Collection was launched on Friday evening in Berlin. The  6-episode series (of which 3 have aired), reveals another side-effect of fast fashion: piracy on one hand, and the pressure of local developing country textile industries. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, because of all the cross-cultural misunderstandings. It’s a gorgeous peek behind the fashion curtain of a country that is mostly on the radar because of the famously elegant Sapeurs.

Comeback of the Cardigan: The Guardian is already starting to think about autumn, and what next. In my humble opinion, the cardigan never went away.

 

Just out:

Interweave Fall 2017: my favourites are

 

 

 

The Gold Rush shawl by Meghan Jones (left) and the Goldsmobile Top by Danielle Chalson (right). I’m usually nitpicky about designs named after the colour of the yarn, because what if someone doesn’t feel like using that colour? These are very pretty and autumnal all the same. The varying colour palettes of both photos are also quite interesting for wardrobe planning.

Throwback Friday

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Next week, Kara Gott Warner’s the PowerPurls Patron StashTherapy Challenge. To mark the occasion, I got this down from the bookshelf. Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying has been around for a while now. (Not quite a classic, yet) It’s sparked quite a lot of discussion in maker circles (among knitters and other stash-keepers) and given rise to a new verb: to kondoize (thanks badassquilterssociety!)

Is stash clutter? I think it depends on where you put it, rather than the yarn itself. If it gets in the way, then it might be clutter. If it is stored thoughtfully, mindfully, aesthetically, then it could never be a bother.