Few designers have blurred the lines between fashion and art as seamlessly as Comme des Garçons' Rei Kawakubo. So it's hardly a surprise that the designer's retail wonderland Dover Street Market — which has outposts in London, Tokyo, and New York — is as filled with artistic inspiration as it is covetable clothing.
This summer, the New York shop has two exhibitions that highlight DSM's holistic approach to style with a bit of merchandising magic. On the megastore's first floor, architects Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham have created a homage to Stool 60 by Finnish furniture brand Artek. To celebrate the 80th anniversary of this icon of modern design, Klein and Dytham have reimagined the stackable stool in a variety of sizes with stretched-out legs in grassy shades of green, forming a miniature indoor jungle. Two versions of the stool's original size — medium green and yellow — are available at DSM for $390 each.
"The stool looks great in any color and manages to rise above any graphic design applied to the seat or legs. It simply takes anything that is thrown at it," the designers told Hint about Stool 60's enduring appeal. "It's also amazing that the stool was shipped flat-packed from day one and really shows how advanced [architect] Alvar Aalto and Artek were in their thinking, predating by 50 years that other Nordic country that flat-packs its entire furniture collection!"
Upstairs, meanwhile, British artist and set designer Gary Card has an even more colorful contribution to the store this season. In the shop's emerging designer showroom on the fourth floor, Card has installed forty of the his Talking Heads to show off sunglasses from the likes of Mykita and Cutler & Gross. Made for masking tape and covered in splashes of neon paint, these madcap clowns paradoxically provide the perfect canvas for showing off the store's chic sunnies.
How's this for brain-frying, eyes-crossing craftsmanship? The house of Lanvin has designed the official uniform for Alain-Charles Perrot, the newest academician at the French Académie des Beaux-Arts and the architect-in-chief of French historical monuments. The jacket's olive-branch embroidery alone (drawn by Perrot) took 600 hours.
Clearly, neither expense nor detail was spared for France's top dog for all things architectural. Handmade in Lanvin's Paris workshops at 15 Faubourg Saint Honoré (above the boutique), the jacket and pants required 80 hours, while the shirt took only 12 hours. That's on top of the 600 hours to hand-stitch those olive branches. For a bit of perspective, Lanvin says a bespoke suit typically requires 80 hours to complete. All told, this particularly laborious project consumed the house for six months.
But really, it's par for the course for Lanvin, which this year has revived its 113-year-old bespoke tradition. In 1901, founder Jeanne Lanvin designed the outfit for her first academician client, Cyrano de Bergerac author Edmond Rostand. Other esteemed dignitaries soon followed, including Paul Valéry, Georges Duhamel, André Maurois, and the great Jean Cocteau, author of Les Enfants Terribles.
Juun J and Josh Luke have (for the third, possibly fourth, time) teamed up on a bold collaboration — correctly called the Global Pop-Up Stores Project — that fuses the Korean designer's darkly minimal high-fashion sensibilities with the American signmaker's vibrant retro-street aesthetics. The collab follows Luke's turn at co-designing the finale looks of Juun J's fall 14 show.
Composed of T-shirts, sweatshirts, bombers, backpacks and caps (with New Era), the new capsule collection will be available for three weeks in pop-up stores in eight countries — including L’Eclaireur in Paris, 10 Corso Como in Milan, Opening Ceremony in New York and Los Angeles, Club 21 in Singapore — after which it will be available on Juun J's website.
Strange animal rings are becoming a thing, none stranger than Strange Wilderness. Based in San Francisco, the new jewelry line is the brainchild of designer and artist Josh Dorey, who digitally sculpts and 3D-prints his animal heads — ram, falcon, wolf, rhino — before casting them in sterling silver. More animal heads are in the works, for those who like to wear their spirit animal on their finger.
$395 at Strange Wilderness
The Fondazione Prada investigates the history of peculiar musical instruments and the relationship between the visual and the aural in its latest exhibition in Venice, Art or Sound, curated by the art historian and inventor of Arte Povera, Germano Celant.
Organized chronologically, Art or Sound begins with musical instruments made from unusual and precious materials in the 17th century. It continues with 19th-century examples of automated instruments and avant-garde experiments, such as 1913's Intonarumori by Luigi Russolo, the Futurist artist, composer, and author of The Art of Noises manifesto.
Also exhibited are works by composers Alvin Lucier and John Cage, sound boxes of 60s artists Robert Morris and Nam June Paik, kinetic sculptures by Takis and Stephan von Huene, and sound installations including Robert Rauschenberg’s Oracle (1962-65) and Laurie Anderson’s Handphone Table (1978). There are also Arman's motorcycle pianos and other hybrid instruments by the likes of Richard Artschwager and Joseph Beuys.
Art or Sound, June 7 - November 3, 2014, Fondazione Prada, Santa Croce 2215, Venice
Only two days left to visit Kenzo's digital pop-up in Paris devoted to its No Fish No Nothing endeavor, in partnership with Blue Marine Foundation. Blue's mission is the protection of 10% of the world’s oceans by 2020 in an effort to turn the tide of overfishing. To assist financially, Kenzo has launched a spring line of unisex sweaters and T-shirts with the slogan No Fish No Nothing, in reference to the plain fact that without living seas and oceans, we are nothing.
Cleverly, the jumbo screen inside shows a school of fish swimming around, some of which disappear every so often to represent the marine loss already experienced around the world. But every purchase or post to Instagram with the hashtag #NOFISHNONOTHING, the virtual aquarium is restocked.
March 21-27, 2014, 11 Rue Debelleyme, 75003, Paris
If it's de rigueur this spring clash prints and textures, look no further than Acne's latest capsule collection with Liberty of London. For spring, the Swedish house has collaborated with the 140-year-old makers of busily sweet prints, applying them to its own leather items — biker jackets, jumpsuits, skirts, shoes, sunglasses — to delightfully jarring effect.
"When we started exploring Liberty’s extensive heritage for this project, it almost felt like an overwhelming voyage," says Acne's creative director Jonny Johansson. "We realized we had to come up with a strong contrast in order to make sense of it, so the team and I picked one favorite print each and integrated them with some of our classic leather pieces.”
Coincidentally, one of those favorite prints is the Jonny, a paisley pattern made at Liberty’s Merton printworks between the 1890s and the 1910s. Another, Eva, is a Japanese-inspired art fabric originally used for furnishings in the 1880s. Alma, meanwhile, is another art fabric from around 1890, a mix of Japanese design and early art nouveau.
At Liberty of London, Acne Studios stores and soon at acnestudios.com
If you're going to go to all the trouble of making jewelry, you might as well go over the top. That seems to be the thinking behind a new jewelry collaboration between London jewelry designer Dominic Jones and Lady Amanda Harlech, who's known mostly as Karl Lagerfeld's number-one muse after she was John Galliano's number-one muse.
Harlot & Bones, apparently a play on their names, takes its cues from Edwardian mourning jewelry and vintage heirlooms. Its 13 pieces include a "Poison" signet ring in onyx, a black rhodium locket pendant, beetle wing-motif pendants, and gold-plated locket cuffs. The signature piece — as shown in a campaign image shot by Nick Knight and featuring Amanda Harlech's daughter, Tallulah, as a kind of art-nouveau nymphet — is a perfume-bottle necklace inlaid with turquoise stones.
€236 – €1,424 at Colette, Liberty, Net-a-Porter.com, Corso Como, Showstudio. Additionally, a student of the writings of Henry James, Harlech has written a poem accompanying each piece.
While James Murphy, he of LCD Soundsystem fame, has always made crowd-pleasing alterna-pop tracks, he has higher aspirations. Specifically, arranging sounds that transcend music altogether and become a more integral part of people's lives. Now that LCD Soundsystem is but a fond memory, it seems he'll have plenty of time to devote to his latest aural pursuit, the Subway Symphony.
He explains thusly: "The sound of the subway is kind of a drag. Every time you swipe your MetroCard, the turnstile emits a flat, unpleasant 'beep.' Each turnstile emits its own beep, all of which are slightly out of tune with one another, creating a dissonant rubbing-styrofoam-on-glass squeak in stations all around New York City."
"What I propose to do is to create a series of 3 to 5 note sequences, all unique, one for each station in the subway system. These sequences will be part of an intersecting larger piece of music, which would run from station to station, and cross one another as, say, the 4, 5, 6 line (one musical piece) intersects with the L, N, R, Q and W (another musical piece) at Union Square. At each turnstile in Union Square, as you tap your new tap and ride card, a pleasant bell tone will sound, in one of a set of possible notes, all related to that station's note sequence. The effect would be that at the busiest times, like rush hour, what was once cacophony would now be music."
"I think people who do what it takes to live here and work here — the commutes and the crowds — deserve a small sonic gift." So while bedraggled users of the city's archaic subways, particularly those in shamefully neglected outer boroughs, might wish for more pressing updates to the system, at least they'll feel slightly less miserable while stranded on a lonely platform, fading to grey.