Met Gala: Heavenly Bodies

I look at the Met Gala fashions first and foremost because it’s fun. Tom and Lorenzo always has a great look-through at the Met Exhibition: “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” and the Gala guests. And because as Amanda Heath (née Hallay) of Ultimate Fashion History says, “Fashion is not an Island, it’s a Response.” So I was really curious to see what Fashion was responding to Society.

 

(photo source: Tomandlorenzo.com)

Now while the catholic church has given way to an amazing outpouring of creative Imagination in the arts, it cannot be ignored that the church was a suppressive force in the sciences at one Point: Galileo Galilei, anyone? I thought for sure that the Italian astronomer would get a sartorial clapback on the red carpet. A sequined ‘Eppur si muove‘ to send sharp-eyed watchers to search out the meaning (Galileo challenged the geocentric world view of the time, and proved that the sun is the actual centre of the solar System). Almost 360 years later, he was vindicated in 1992.

So honourable mention to Kim Kardashian on left, for coming as the sun (although she may not have been aware of the Galileo Affair)!

I thought the connections or controversies between Religion and science (in particular astronomy)  would have been right there, because there are so many  hot topics in Society these days. Further honourable mention to Zendaya Coleman for channelling Joan of Arc, a teen girl who was hearing voices (and possibly also hallucinating). Because in the age of #metoo, who doesn’t need to find their inner warrior maiden?

 

joanofarc_julian_bastien_page_met
Joan of Arc, 1879, Jules Bastien-Lepage (French, 1848–1884)
Oil on canvas; 100 x 110 in. (254 x 279.4 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Funnily enough, my favourite depiction of Joan hangs at the Metropolitan in New York, it actually portrays her as a real person, getting on with her life as a country girl when her visions hit – you can see her discarded spinning wheel on the ground there as she gets overwhelmed by her visions. Carol at watchmepaint goes into the fascinating detail about the painter, the painting and his subject.

At this year’s Met Gala, most of what I saw was opulence as distraction from all the Things we as a Society are going through. That’s why I have to give props to Solange Knowles for bring that weirdly fabulous sci-fi creation that at first glance calls out to space travel, androids, and the like. Yet it’s not as farfetched as one might think…

irisvanherpen-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-Solange-Knowles
Solange Knowles in Iris van Herpen

This dress, by Dutch designer Iris van Herpen is actually called ‘Cathedral Dress’ and was constructed using 3-D printing techniques. It’s from a van Herpen Collection called Hybrid Holism and was inspired by:

“…Hylozoism, the ancient belief that all matter is in some sense alive. van Herpen is intrigued by … possibilities for a future of fashion that might take on quite unimaginable shapes.
Fashion that might be partly alive and growing, and, therefore, existing partly independent from us, which in turn allows for a new treatment by humans: instead of discarding the fashion after use, we cherish, value, and maintain it in its abilities to change constantly.”

-source: www.irisvanherpen.com

This look is therefore talking about the future of imagination and fashion. I sure hope we get there…

 

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Finished up: MoMA’s Fashion as Design

knit vest alternate materials
Moma – is Fashion modern?

 

It’s been a while since I finished the MoMA’s online course collaboration with Coursera, “Fashion as Design” which run more or less parallel to their Exhibition “Items: Is Fashion Modern.”

We looked at various items, we looked at production, inspirational heroes, silhouettes, lifecycles, modesty and expression. There were some tricky quizzes at the end of each week, but all in all, I managed to pull myself together to get it done.

I learned some new things about fashion in the late 19th and 20th centuries. But I won’t lie, it got a bit tedious at times, because I was constantly looking at the course material through the eyes of a knitter.

And there is no easy answer to the question, ‘Is fashion modern?’ because people are doing so many different things with the clothes that they put on their/our backs. Recycling, upcycling or even restyling garments of a bygone decade may feel less than modern, but the actual idea that this should be important to us is a fairly new one.

Or that making (and in particular knitting and crochet) is not old-fashioned or quaint, but a growing niche of forward-thinking activism (where supporting shepherds producing wool locally can help with anti-desertification around the world)…

 

Of note: Coursera blog’s conversation with Curator Paola Antonelli.

 

 

Woolfest haul

 

There were about 26 vendors at Wollandia, but it seemed like more.

Even though sock yarn (ie fingering weight) is extremely popular here in Germany, I now get the feeling that the new trend (on top of Hand dyed and naturally dyed yarns) is socks with glitter?

I told Sandra from Farbenpracht, that you just can’t have enough glitter in your life. There is no way I would want to hide that in shoes! She even suggested the lovely Moonrise shawl pattern from Olga Buraya-Kefelian.

I found my Ultraviolet (every time I look at these skeins, I feel it in my Ajna!): The skeins from Filzlinge were by far and away the most Vibrant colours on Show. I realized that the yarns are single handspun, but the colours are so gorgeous, I figured that the Internet would teach me how to make it work: Charles at Knitmuch’s tips for knitting with fuzzy yarn.

 

Honourable Mention:

Lütt Wollhus on Facebook

How to visit a woolfest

 

So, I went to my first fibre Festival this Weekend: Wollandia. And it was awesome. It was an intimate (less than 100 exhibitors) gathering of independent dyers, Spinners and purveyors of other sheep-related goodness.  It was Wollandia’s first time too, so we had that in common! The organizer Erica Carnevale did an amazing job.

 

If this is going to be a yearly event, then I can definitely recommend stopping by if you’re in the Pforzheim area (any good sat-nav will get you there). There were independent dyers (whose names I only know from Ravelry and browsing Etsy or its German pendant Dawanda). And of course it’s great to be able to take the yarn into your hands before buying.

Tips for visiting yarn festivals:

  • Wear layers
  • Wear walking shoes
  • Take a friend – or make friends there -complimenting dyers’ work, collecting cards and having a chat always goes down a treat.
  • Beforehand – look at the exhibitor list and develop a strategy.
    • Do a full circle and have a good look at everything before starting to buy. Unless you plan to visit a specific vendor.
    • plan for emergencies: Enough cash on hand? the location of the next closest cash machine may be good to know.
    • have a plan for how to actually use those speckled or otherwise multicoloured skeins of yarn. (Skeinyarn’s tips on knitting with variegated yarns; Dana at Yards of Happiness is my inspiration to get more colour in my knitting life)
    • What’s the minimum amount of yarn that I should purchase? if I don’t have a project in mind?
  • Have a budget – look up what things cost in real life, so that you can recognize a deal on equipment if you see one.
  • Plan some breaks: At German events like this, there is ALWAYS food – cakes, waffles, sandwiches, even Flammkuchen.

Interweave’s Tips on how to shop at Yarn and Wool festivals.

Black Panther: A study of Xenophobia

 

Black Panther Double Knit Square / lattesandllamas.com

 

It’s taken me a while to gather my thoughts on this film, because I had to continue with real life, while reflecting on what I had seen.

To be honest, I learned one thing and was reminded of another. I learned that filmmaker Ryan Coogler is not to be messed with. His newest film, Black Panther proves that he’s a talented director able to work on several conceptual levels, who is able to take what should be a ‘simple superhero film’ and turn it into something else altogether. Is there a category called ‘Superhero-Politthriller’?

Yes, it works as a superhero film that kids will have a blast watching. It even works as a faithful comic book adaptation. As a gorgeous love letter from the African Diaspora to the Motherland, it hits the ball out of the park (Well done Ruth E. Carter and the production team! Amazing job!)

 

It also works as a double-whammy political thriller. On one level, this afrofuturistic piece deep-dives onto the political intrigue following a change in government (head of state). On the other hand, it  is a thought-provoking piece, which very subtly compares the US (and parts of the Western world in the throes of wrestling with issues of identity and ultra-conservative xenophobia) to the proud nation of Wakanda. High tech force-shields do the same thing that Mexican Walls are supposed to do.

I will admit that I was lulled into the haze of I-have-to-accompany-my-child-to-the-cinema mixed with admiring the costumes and production design, until one phrase jerked me wide awake: “The Sun will never set on the Kingdom of Wakanda.” I won’t lie, even as a naturalized German, the chills ran down my spine (because 1933-1945). These folks are such an advanced nation, and they are xenophobic. For me, it is therefore disconcerting to see folks running around post-cinema experience beaming “Wakanda Forever!” (And the Daily Beast’s Ira Madison III thinks so too).
That the society within the film manages to tackle such a thorny problem that propels them to the brink of civil war is makes it no less compelling for theater-goers to ask themselves what type of society do we want to be. And to keep talking about it.
That was the reminder, that comic books are often not  just about fighting or solving problems with violence, there is a message, if you care to look.
And now, the handcrafts:
Basotho blankets on the big screen in 'Black Panther'.
Letitia Wright, Lupita N’yongo, Angela Bassett and Martin Freeman on set.                      Fotosource: Times of South Africa/ Marvel Studios 2018

 

 

The fabulous blankets, seen above, are made in Southern Africa, and are called Basotho Heritage Blankets. Notably, worn by the royal family and their guest (for the sake of accuracy, the border guards/tribe do wear a similar blanket which appears to be part of a uniform). Regular people like Nakia (played by Lupita N’yongo) seem or choose to make do with knits and crochets. 
This shawl-wrap was the only knit I spotted. It seems to be long, rectangular piece, done in stocking stitch with an occasional row of eyelets interspersed. While this knit is done in fairly sombre tones (at a fairly sombre point in the story) of her signature greens and blues of the River tribe, by the end of the film, she is in a lovely sparkly green crocheted pullover with a single cut out shoulder.
Honourable Mention: Latte&Llamas 2017 Geek-along

 

Portraits and Pictures

Doreen St. Felix of the New Yorker breaks down why Amy Sherald’s Portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama is so haunting.

 

There’s a funny thing about inspiration: While the Designer, Michelle Smith of Milly mentions to Vogue that her Inspiration was Mondrian,  Amy Sherald made the connection to the quilts of the women of Gee’s Bend.

Michelle Obama, Amy Sherald (r) unveil portrait at National Portrait Gallery
Michelle Obama and Amy Sherald unveil Portrait/ fotosource: Olivier Douliery INSTARimages.com

So although Folks are getting all upset because the portrait isn’t photo-realistic, it is clear that Obama and Sherald had a great working relationship, and she loved Sherald’s work. She likes how Sherald portrayed her for perpetuity. This is Art. It makes you stop and take a long hard look. And gets you thinking (why grey?), why this artist, why this dress, filling in the blanks, and what not.

It shook me how much Mrs. Obama looks like her younger daughter. But also how the negative space on the skirt suggests a heart (until it doesn’t). Sherald only paints 10 – 12 portraits a year, seeking out subjects who project a timeless quality. She hit it out of the ballpark.

Amy Sherald in Studio 2017
Amy Sherald in her Studio 2017 fotosource: baltimoresun.com

 

What say you?

Permit yourself a knitting break

I can’t read everything on the Internet the instant it comes out. And sometimes it takes me months to get back around to casting a glance on well-loved knitting-related sites and magazines. What with kids, work, keeping up with the news, politics, and life, things get hectic.

And I thought this New Year totally needs to also be about not stressing oneself about the knitting. Hobby-stress is not cool.

Lee Ann Dalton wrote about how to get your knitting mojo back in Twist Collective a while back. She suggests starting with something small, or moving on to another needlecraft til that loving feeling comes back.

I say why not just relabel it a pause. A break. A chance to regroup.

That’s the tack I’m taking. I plan to finish certain Things; but I also want to start new challenges: I want to knit a friend of mine a set of hats for when she starts chemotherapy.

Fotosource: Ravelry.com

I’m particularly taken with these hat Patterns (ClockWise): Gudrun Johnston’s Isthmus, Sari Norlund’s Femte, and Fiona Ellis’ Rebe. Honourable mention to Margaret Miller’s Svartifoss, which is so beautiful, but I’m not ready for laceweight hats just yet.

Femte and Isthmus make me see, that I need to brush up on my provisional cast on.

Links:
2-Step Provisional Cast-On by Purl Soho
TECHknitting’s instructions with detailed illustration.

via Daily Prompt: Permit

Christmas knitting procrastination

cozy_lalaberlin_lanagrossaI have a natural proclivity to think things over and over, which looks a lot like procrastination. And I honestly cannot say that it isn’t.

Every year, I knit a hat for my extremely knitworthy sister-in-law. Every year, I follow a pattern. This year, I decided to design one myself. It took me ages to decide how I wanted the hat to look: I even went to a Christmas Market, hung around sipping Mulled Wine (= Glühwein) and had a look at people’s heads, to get inspiration.

By the time I got it cast on and knit the band, I realized that I had cast on too many stitches. I had to rip it out and start again. And then I realized that I had to keep it simple because I had so little time to get to it, in-between shopping, menu-planning, and prepping to have the house full of relatives for the Holidays.

The Yarn: Lana Grossa Cosy by Lala Berlin. A soft fuzzy alpaca-wool blend. With just a smidgen of Nylon.

Very cozy and cuddly bulky yarn with a nice hand. And a gorgeous halo, which means that this yarn does not love too much frogging, but on the positive side, the easiest yarn splice ( I prefer not to splice with spit. I use water) I’ve ever done.

I’ll get into my new design once I’ve got it all written down. Suffice it to say, I finished it on Boxing Day while we were all watching Paddington. And it’s now winging ist way to Japan where my sister-in-law is on Holiday.

 

Link: How to spit splice (also called a felted join)

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Proclivity

Fashion as Design: heroes

What does my hero wear?

nnedi okorafor binti oomza uni
What does my hero wear? Image source: Polyvore.com

In the second week of the course, we have been looking at society’s heroes: Military, pop and cultural heroes. And of course, how these have influenced Fashion, from Bruce Lee’s tracksuit, to the trenchcoat, hoodies and MoonBoots. We were also asked to reflect on our own heroes. And what they would wear.

My hero of the Moment is Binti, from nigerian-american sci-fi and fantasy author Nnedi Okorafor. Binti is a young math prodigy from a future Earth, who leaves her home and Family to be the first to go to University off-world. She’s a member of the southern African Himba People, who cover their Skin and hair with a red clay mix called Ojitze.

In the novel, even though they are skilled craftsmen of futuristic Technologies, they maintain a crucial link through their clothes to their roots.  Okorafor describes Binti as being the only one from her ethnic group going to University, so she pretty much stands out (as she does in the general science-fiction/ fantasy landscape) with dark skin, different clothes and hair braided with her family codes and coated with ojitze.

Her clothes and the accessories she takes from home with her basically help her become heroic, and broker a peace between warring civilizations. The collage above, is my visualization of Binti’s ‘running away’ outfit, which is at once a mix of traditional and futuristic: A silky red skirt, a functional orange softshell jacket, anklets to protect against snakes in the grass, her high-tech astrolabe on a chain and mysterious edan (reimagined as a box clutch). 

What would your hero wear?

 

 

 

 

 

MOMA is doing a MOOC

moma fashion as design breton pullover prototype
Breton Pullover Prototype made by Unmade for “Items: Is Fashion Modern?” Photo by Luke Bennett

I vaguely remember the opening of the MoMA Exhibition Items: Is Fashion Modern? At the time, I thought, ‘What a pity that I’m not planning on being in New York to see this anytime soon.’

Well, now they’re offering a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), based on the Exhibition over at Coursera.org. Enrollment is open until December 25.

The Course is run by the exhibition’s curator Paola Antonelli along with her team from the Department of Architecture and Design at the musem.

Among all objects of design, our clothes are the most universal and intimate. Like other kinds of design, fashion thrives on productive tensions between form and function, automation and craftsmanship, standardization and customization, universality and self-expression, and pragmatism and utopian vision. It exists in the service of others, and it can have profound consequences—social, political, cultural, economic, and environmental.

Fashion as Design focuses on a selection of more than 70 garments and accessories from around the world, ranging from kente cloth to jeans to 3D-printed dresses. Through these garments, we’re going to look closely at what we wear, why we wear it, how it’s made, and what it means. You’ll hear directly from a range of designers, makers, historians, and others working with clothing every day—and, in some cases, reinventing it for the future. Studio visits, interviews, and other resources introduce the history and development of each garment and their changing uses, meanings, and impact over time.

-from the Course Description on Coursera