You Say You Want a Revolution…

…Well, you know, we all want to change the world.
(The Beatles, Revolution, 1968)

Records and Rebels 1966 – 1970 exhibition at V&A looks at different aspects of the time that affected the counterculture of the 60s in the UK and the USA.

Armed with a set of headphones, that change the tune automatically as you move through the rooms, one would enter the exhibition maze, running through the spaces analysing different aspects of the era. The time was highly innovative for the rise of the cultural revolution that embraced various topics, from music to design, politics and lifestyle. Inspired by Thomas Moore´s Utopia, written in 1516, people were looking for alternative ways.

The first section of the exhibition is looking at youth identity and “Singing London” as the centre for fashion, music, photography and art. Twiggy sporting Mary Quant miniskirt, famous works by photographer David Bailey, invitations to art “happenings”, the importance of the mainstream pop music of the time are featured.

The second part looks closer at the counterculture and alternative lifestyles, through psychedelia, underground literature and pirate radio. Psychedelic art is featured on the walls accompanied by some trippy tunes coming from the headphones. The music is the king in this section. It was sweet to see an older lady with a distinctively cool style flipping through the album covers of the time – music she probably grew up with and experienced first hand when it was launched. The exhibition must have taken her down the memory lane…

The third section explores revolution on the street, exploring the anti-politics with peaceful protests and anti-war statements in regards to the war in Vietnam. The revolutionary figures of Martin Luther-King and Che Guevara are on display. Among others are displayed the ideas calling for equality including gay rights´ activists and women´s liberation groups.

Next part of the exhibition concentrates on the design innovations of the time, exploring consumerism, fed by the rapid increase in personal wealth and the introduction of the credit card. The 1967 Montreal and 1970 Osaka World Expos look into the consumer innovations, such as home TV-s, futuristic furniture and fashion, featuring innovative Pierre Cardin dress. The television opened the window to the real-time news coverage of the Vietnam War and moon landings, shocking and enthusing the viewers.

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The fifth space is dedicated entirely to the Woodstock festival, being designed with a large stage and dramatic backdrop of large screens surrounding the room. One can absorb the atmosphere of the music festival by sinking into one of the bean bag chairs in the middle of the hall. The event that brought together 400 000 people to enjoy music and each others company peacefully despite the rain, was rather unprecedented at the time. Instruments, costumes and ephemera are on display.

Revolution exhibition photography 06-09-2016

The sixth and final exhibition environment looks at alternative communities living on the USA’s West Coast during the period as the birthplace of a revolution in communications. These alternative living communes explored sexual liberation, rejection of institutions and a ‘back to the land’ philosophy to the tunes of psychedelic rock music. They lived in parallel with a different sort of alternative community: the pioneers of modern computing. Both believing in the possibility of achieving a better world through sharing human knowledge more equitably. The Whole Earth Catalog, the American counterculture magazine published by Stewart Brand, served the purpose of ‘Google in paperback form’, according to Steve Jobs.

Revolution exhibition photography 06-09-2016

From global civil rights, multiculturalism, environmentalism, consumerism, computing, communality to neoliberalist politics, the world we live in has been vitally influenced by five revolutionary years: 1966 – 1970. The whole exhibition reveals and explores the origin of tendencies prevailing today and encourages a rediscovery of an imaginative optimism to envisage a new and better tomorrow.

You Say You Want a Revolution on until 26th February 2017.

 

English Medieval Embroidery at V&A

As embroidery is currently back in fashion, it is very interesting to see what were the tendencies some centuries ago. The Medieval embroidery exhibition at V&A looks closely at the old masterpieces, skillfully crafted to tiny details, hundreds of years ago.

It is rather remarkable how intricate handwork this is – so much that one may suspect it being painted instead. The smallest stitches are created by hand in varieties of colour, over the presumably long period of time. The exquisite attention to details is rather outstanding, giving glimpses of both Medieval reality and imagination of the time. From the grim torture of martyred saints to the scenes with baby Jesus and other saints, scenes are depicted with a meticulous precision that the sophisticated embroidery techniques made possible.

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Latin for ‘English work’, the phrase ‘opus anglicanum’ was first coined in the 13th century to describe the highly-prized and luxurious embroideries made in England of silk and gold and silver thread, picturing complex imagery.

From the 12th to the 15th centuries, England enjoyed an international reputation for the quality of its luxury embroideries, which were sought after by kings, queens, popes and cardinals. The exhibition will present an outstanding range of rare, surviving examples – both ecclesiastical and secular. Although documents show that many embroideries were made for secular use at the time, very few survive today as they were either worn out or became unfashionable and were discarded.

This is the largest embroidery exhibition of this kind in half a century, depicting over 100 pieces of work Medieval period of time. Sponsored by the Royal Embroidery specialists of Hand and Lock who carry the traditional craft into the modern day.

Opus Anglicanum: Masterpieces of English Medieval Embroidery at V&A till 7th Feb 2017.

1920s Jazz Age and fashion

Sparkle, fun and excess – this is what ´20s people were craving for, what they longed after the war and what the economy of the day allowed.

The exhibition at London Fashion and Textile Museum looks back nearly 100 years ago at the glamorous time when women´s rights expanded for the first time after the WWI and the ankles started flashing in the decade-long celebration of life. Women´s style of dressing changed unprecedentedly. Jazz music also played an important role in the decade, as well as fashion – allowing more comfortable dresses for dancing, as well as the whole idea of movement, energy and self expression. The clothes were designed to move and shift and allow the movement while wearing them.

The display looks back at the glittering haute couture, as well as everyday ready-to-wear, alongside large display of accessories, ranging from fans to cigarette holders, gloves and headbands.

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The photographs by James Abbe: Photographer of the Jazz Age, depict portraits of the well known ladies of the time reflect the realistic look of that time. Although on illustrations depicted always so slender, the real life women of that time looked rather healthy and far from the anorectic models.

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Of course, the bitter economic crash followed at the end of the decade, due to the overspending, but it was a decade to remember. The ´20s of this century are just a few years away, lets wait and see how this decade will turn out!

1920s JAZZ AGE Fashion and Photographs exhibition at London Fashion and Textile Museum open till 15th January 2017.

The Vulgar

Vulgarity is a word usually associated with negative connotations. Hence I was very curious to see what “The Vulgar” fashion exhibition at Barbican Art Gallery is all about. It was much more than the common meaning of this word – the curator was pushing boundaries and exploring the wider concept and background of what has been considered vulgar in fashion through times and how that changes along with the general view and progress.

In a nutshell, almost anything can be vulgar. And who is to define what is vulgar and what not, as it depends on the point of view – while punk can be considered vulgar for someone, for Johnny Rotten high fashion or the smart suit would have been considered as vulgar.

Good taste changes with time, but vulgar is not exactly the same as bad taste. It is bold and shameless. Vulgarity always exaggerates, it never retreats. It is committed to enjoyment. It is the theater of ambition and kitsch is its celebration. Here the pleasure is viewed as vulgar and restraint as a virtue.

The exhibition presents over 120 exhibits of well known fashion designers, including Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Iris van Herpen, Pam Hogg, Stephen Jones, Manolo Blahnik, Hussein Chalayan, and many more.

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To be frank – fashion without vulgarity would be boring! Vulgarity is intriguing, experimental and boundary-pushing.

Stephen Jones has said: “Vulgarity is the salt and pepper of fashion”.

“We must never forget that vulgarity is tremendous fun!”

Even high fashion is in constant play with vulgarity. For example Chanel´s show staged at the supermarket. By the way, note all the products in the Chanel “supermarket” are especially crafted for this purpose, bearing Chanel labels – some of them were presented at the exhibition and the rest probably sold out as collector items.
In this show you can spot ripped and holed tweed sweatpants and tops, crafted purposefully by the couturiers.

Another definition for vulgarity is someone or something pretending to be what it is not. For example commoners trying to belong to so called “elite”, but failing at some crucial details or a dress trying to be labor-intensive couture, while instead being a print-on of that, or a print-on of a naked body instead.
Moschino is known for its pretend-playfulness and games with kitsch. This can also be seen in their latest collection show.

Vulgarity as the unrestricted joie de vivre. Better vulgar than boring!

The Vulgar – Fashion Redefined at Barbican Art Gallery in London is open till 5th February 2017.

Oksana Tandit show collaboration

Meanwhile in Estonia…

While the nights are slowly getting darker and longer, Estonian designer Oksana Tandit has been thinking about the midsummer “White Nights”, presenting her gorgeous new same-titled resort collection.
The créme de la créme of Tallinn fashion crew was transported nearly 100km out of town to the historical Vihula Manor. The show was accompanied by a gourmet dinner along orchestral music from internationally well known musician Andres Mustonen and his orchestra.

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For her latest show Oksana was inspired by symbiosis between nature, fashion and music. The collection paints a picture of a weekend escape from the busy everyday life to relax and rejuvenate in the countryside. Soft feminine silhouettes, luxurious materials from cashmere to silk come in pastel shades inspired by nature. Inherent to her signature style, a lot of attention is paid to the details and femininity is skillfully joined with masculine elements.

Riina O has collaborated with Oksana Tandit over a few recent years and it has been a true pleasure to do so. Our collections seem to telepathically speak the same language, without having to coordinate the creation process before it is finalised. Riina O latest collection happened to similarly wander out of town in search for the inspiration, heading for the desert instead.

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Roberta Einer´s Tropical Greenhouse

Roberta Einer´s  LFW presentation went on a stroll around a wild grown greenhouse with very well dressed models roaming about.

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Each of Roberta´s collections is like an experience of its own, with the presentation set to benefit to the overall impression. It has definitely grown from last season.

This time she took us on a trip to South Beach, Miami. Mixing inspiration from botanical gardens,  Miami art scene from 1970´s Pop Art together with Dirty South hip hop – pairing silk dresses with hooded tops and oversized bombers. Her trademark embellishments are in place in form of rich embroidery made in different styles, this season also dazzled up with Swarovski crystals and pearls. Neon lights still play an important role as inspiration in storytelling (occasionally quite literally as embroidered words).

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Photos by: Dexter Lander

Getting better with every season, Roberta does not fail to surprise!