The work of British illustrator Zara Picken instantly transports the viewer to a time when housewives wore pearl necklaces while baking cakes, jazz music was played on ornate gramophones and social relationships were conducted with a sense of reserved grace. Certainly, Picken’s nostalgia-tinged, mid-20th century-inspired illustrations would be perfect for a campaign pitched by the advertising team from Mad Men.
The clever combination of digital and handmade elements provides Picken’s imagery with a delicious retro feel that is simultaneously modern. The humour that is present in all of her illustrations also adds to the appeal of her work – who wouldn’t want a “genie-us” wish machine? I also thought it most appropriate that one of her illustrations features none other than a black fox.
I am currently in Brisbane, Queensland attending an architecture conference and was intrigued when Linda Carroli, one of the opening plenary speakers, alluded to the I Knit Brisbane project. Walking around the inner city on the weekend, it was interesting to note that there was not much in the way of street art or graffiti, but had I arrived a month earlier the urban spaces of Brisbane would have looked quite warm and fuzzy.
The brief for the project suggests that the central aim of I Knit Brisbane was to ceremoniously prepare the city for its rather mild winter; however, Carroli also emphasised that this style of folk craft renovation is also integral to altering and beautifying ugly aspects of urban architecture. Based on the comments left on the I Knit Brisbane site, the public’s reactions to the wool installations have been mixed. While some see the magic in the concept, others have claimed that it wastes time and resources that could be better used to clothe the homeless. Personally, I think it is a really exciting way to transform the city’s architectural facades and would like to see some guerilla knitters stitching wool on urban structures in other cities. Is this a call to arms…uh…needles? Why, yes it is!
I’m not usually a big fan of fashion videos, but I have been turned around with this video for online vintage clothing boutique Gary Pepper Vintage. Featuring the boutique’s owner, Nicole Warne, the video showcases the superb vintage finds from Gary Pepper Vintage and an assortment of Jeffrey Campbell shoes courtesy of SoleStruck. Filmed and edited by Chad Waldron, the video is a behind-the-scene’s peek at a photo shoot of the collaboration between the two online boutiques.
As there is no specific narrative, the video successfully works to frame the beautiful clothes and shoes. Warne’s styling, in particular, is impeccable, and carefully blends her vintage threads with the new season footwear. I really love the carefree mood and the small fashion journey that the viewer is taken on.
There is a scene in the first season of The Mighty Boosh in which Vince Noir, who for this episode has become the self-proclaimed “king of the mods”, meets Tommy, a die-hard rocker. They have a brief – albeit rather pathetic – confrontation that made me think about one’s allegiances to fashion subcultures. Vince is always “buffeting about on the wings of fashion” and, throughout the show’s three series, also inhabits the uniform of a goth, a punk and an androgynous electro boy. In the same vein, fashion is an extraordinarily fickle beast and will never commit to just one look.
So where am I going with all of this reflection on mods and rockers and what not? As I’ve always felt a bit mod at heart, I have never been much of a fan of the hippie movement that heralded the death of mod culture. However, anyone who pays the slightest attention to the contemporary fashion climate will be aware that the tie-dye of the hippie era has once again made a comeback. It all began with the spring and summer collections in the Northern Hemisphere and has now even made its way to Australia. The frightening thing is that, after initally ignoring it, I have grown rather fond of the look.
Subtler colour combinations and intricate tie patterns have replaced the psychedelic, acid trip-inducing colour explosions of 1960s tie-dye. The majority of designs look soft and dreamy without venturing into “Groooovy, man” territory. Even a mod wannabe like me might just be able to pull it off. Will you?
I can usually spot a gentleman a mile away, but I’m not entirely sure what a “gentlewoman” looks like. If the contents of the first issue of biannual magazine The Gentlewoman can be accepted as the exemplar, a gentlewoman is extremely well dressed, a master at old-fashioned etiquette and a doyenne of culture and the arts. Basically, eveything I aspire to be!
I have actually been keeping an eye open for a copy of The Gentlewoman since its recent release overseas, but only managed to snap up a copy in Australia over the weekend – and boy, am I impressed! From the layout to the writing, there is something very polished and intelligent about this magazine. The contributing writers are seemingly uninterested in fly-by-night trends and celebrity culture; instead, they concentrate on fascinating people working within the wider arts community.
A frank conversation with model Daisy Lowe about housekeeping, a feature on 2010 Architecture Biennale director Kazuyo Sjima and an exquisitely photographed spread on hair knots are just some of the pieces artfully arranged on the magazine’s glossy pages. A bible for the modern lady and the enlightened contemporary gentleman, The Gentlewoman is definitely worth seeking out.