Riina O Autumn/Winter “Tempus Loquendi”

It´s been just a few days into September and already you can feel the Autumny chill crawling under the skin, at least in London.

What better time to look at the inspiration behind our Autumn/Winter collection and perhaps stock up on some gloves!

Tempus Loquendi inspiration board

Time for peace
One of the first ideas for the collection came from a very rare find of Kenzo limited edition perfume from 1999, that I was lucky enough to come across at my local parfumerie.  I remember this perfume from my early teenagehood when it was first released. What a nostalgic memory, while the message its bearing suits perfectly to this day as well as 16 years ago.

The concept of this collection derives from a terrifying source, softening the impact by exploring duality and contrasts, making them work together – harsh vs soft, safe vs dangerous.

Soft hairy ponyskin gloves embody cosiness, safety and protection, while bearing encrypted laser cut messages.

The final touch is added by furry and leathery buttons. Our classic long gloves got the additional detailing of buttons on the wrist turning them into the Mousquetaire gloves.

Other sources of  inspiration lie in military uniforms of the 19th century, as well as my ethnic roots with hints to Leo Tolstoi literary works.
Colour palette referrals are rather gourmet: burgundy wine with black and green olives.
The collection ranges from casual styles to dressy gloves that add the final touch to the outfit. Women´s styles feature strongly on elegant elbow-length gloves, while men´s styles experiment with a bit of laser cutting and layers, introducing colour for the first time.

Have a look at the full collection and place your order via e-mail.

All gloves are hand stitched and made in London. Available made to measure upon request.


Karl Lagerfeld´s Fashion Method

Karl Lagerfeld is one of the world’s most renowned fashion designers and widely celebrated as an icon of the zeitgeist. Karl Lagerfeld. Modemethode”  at the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany in Bonn, is the first comprehensive exhibition to explore the fashion cosmos of this exceptional designer and, with it, to present an important chapter of the fashion history of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Karl Lagerfeld, Modemethode, 2015 Farbstift auf Canson-Papier © 2015 Karl Lagerfeld
Karl Lagerfeld is a multi-talented designer, known for injecting classic shapes with new life and for taking fashion into new directions. For the past 60 years(!) – from 1955 to today – Lagerfeld’s creations have consistently demonstrated his extraordinary feel for the ‘now’. Right from the start of his career, the designer has worked for luxury houses such as Balmain, Patou, Fendi, Chloé, Karl Lagerfeld and Chanel.
The exhibition Karl Lagerfeld. Modemethode shines a light on his most important fields of work, starting with the coat for which he received the International Woolmark Prize in 1954 and which led to his first employment with Balmain. From that moment on, the fashion world never let him go: in 1958 he moved on to become the art director at Jean Patou.

In 1965 Karl Lagerfeld was employed by the five Fendi sisters as head designer of  the prêt-à-porter collection of the Roman fashion house Fendi, which is famous for its furs. Thanks to Karl Lagerfeld’s interest in the texture of the raw material, furs that up until the 60s had still been heavy and stiff became light and flexible. Moreover, he took the same playful approach to fur as to fabric: he dyed it, cut it apart, and sewed it back together again. Under his touch the former status symbol became modern and wearable, and not only stylish but also enjoyable. Karl Lagerfeld called his fur models ‘fun furs’.

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Karl Lagerfeld worked for the Paris fashion house Chloé for two periods, from 1964 to 1984, and from 1992 to 1997. The models he designed gave shape to both Chloé’s identity and to Lagerfeld’s infallible feel for the zeitgeist: fleeting, flowing, light as a feather, an expression of the freedom and imagination of a generation. In the late 1960s and 1970s that were defined by student protests, sexual liberation, and feminism, Karl Lagerfeld’s collections reflected the changing awareness of the times. Sometimes dreamlike and escapist, sometimes sensuous and frilly, his designs express a lot of empathy for the mood of a generation. The flamboyant patterns, which he consciously contrasted with the simple crêpe de chine forms, were often inspired by art.

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In 1984 Karl Lagerfeld founded his own label: Karl Lagerfeld. To this day, he designs the collections himself. The style of the fashion house is defined by the clear contours that are also reflected in his personal dress style. Simple elegance and androgynous cuts govern his designs, striking patterns are a rarity, and the materials of choice are mostly either entirely black or white. Often both the waistline and the shoulders are sharply accentuated. These designs show Karl Lagerfeld’s passion for interacting contrasts: men’s blazers are combined with miniskirts, thus opposing both feminine and masculine stereotypes.

Karl Lagerfeld’s first haut couture collection as the new head designer at the Chanel fashion house was presented in January 1983. To this day, he has been able to successfully maintain the famous Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel’s legacy by linking the spirit of Chanel to the present and the future. He re-contextualised characteristic Chanel elements such as the camellia or the pearl jewellery and brought the classic Chanel suit up to date without depriving it of its exemplary elegance. His feel for materiality is exemplified in his handling of traditional tweed: interwoven with ribbons, imprinted, embroidered and sometimes frayed it loses its heaviness and gains playful lightness.

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As far as the processing and production of his fashion is concerned, Karl Lagerfeld can be described as both a perfectionist and a traditionalist. He sets great store by craftsmanship and has very high quality standards regarding the manufacturing process. Every detail reflected in the materiality and production of a dress is the result of meticulous consideration. Coincidences are sought in vain as his production sites of choice are highly specialised. Some of these traditional handicraft businesses such as hatters, shoemakers, goldsmiths, specialists for embroidery or feather and flower ornaments work exclusively for Karl Lagerfeld.

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‘Modemethode’, Karl Lagerfeld’s ‘fashion method’, is his ambitious, allencompassing approach: from the initial sketch to the finished garment, from the accessories, the architectural setting and music of the fashion shows, to the photographs and graphic design of press material, advertising, catalogues and window displays – every last little detail is devised by the designer himself.
The exhibition has: 62 looks by Chanel, 30 looks by Fendi, 20 looks by Chloé, 13 looks by Karl Lagerfeld, plus accessories.

My only hope is that this exhibition will go travelling to London and other capitals to reach more people in person.

The exhibition in Bonn runs till 13th September 2015.

Behind the Scenes – Creation of a Masterpiece

Parallelly with Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition at V&A, there is a behind the scenes photography show running at Tate Britain. The exhibition of Nick Waplington´s photos takes a sneaky peek behind the glamorous polished face of Alexander McQueen´s collections, to give an idea of his inspirations and working process, which is far from fancy – instead being raw, bold and thought-provoking, including a lot of hard work. In 2009 Nick Waplington was invited to the House of McQueen to document the creation process of the final Autumn/Winter collection created by Lee himself, a year before his death – “Horn of Plenty”. McQueen was generally very secretive about his working process, so having such an access is something not many photographers have been allowed to witness. Nick captured an intense and theatrical working process, from sketching to production to the Paris catwalk show.

Nick Waplington/Alexander McQueen: Working Process, Untitled from the series 'Alexander McQueen Working Process' 2008-09

The critically acclaimed collection had recycling as the heart of it. As a retrospective season, Lee McQueen reused his ideas of the past decade –  updating silhouettes and cuts, copying fabrics from his earlier collections. The idea of recycling as such was central, provoked by post-credit crunch attitude in the UK. The catwalk was set out of discarded elements from the sets of his past shows and broken mirrors, with a kitchen sink crowning the pile of “junk” in the middle of the showroom. Even though there are dresses that look as if they have been created of black bin bags, best Italian silks were used as the material.

Nick Waplington/Alexander McQueen: Working Process, Untitled from the series 'Alexander McQueen Working Process' 2008-09

At the exhibition space images of working at the studio alternate with shots taken at the landfills and wastegrounds full of broken bottles, compressed trash and a huge bulldozer, that is supposed to symbolise Lee McQueen himself. The designer liked this idea. This radical theme provided inspiration for Waplington, best known for his photographic work centered on issues of class, identity and conflict.

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To be honest, if you expect the same grandiose impression from this exhibition, as from the V&A showcase, you´ll be greatly disappointed. However, if you are a fan of Lee´s work and want to have a peek into his everyday life, this will be just an exhibition to visit.

Open till 17th of May 2015

Alexander McQueen “Savage Beauty”

“I want to be the purveyor of a certain silhouette or a way of cutting, so that when i´m dead and gone people will know that the 21st century was started by Alexander McQueen.”

The retrospective exhibition of Alexander McQueen´s works called “Savage Beauty” finally came home to London. When “Savage Beauty” first showed at New York Metropolitan Museum in 2011 it became one of the most successful exhibitions in the Museum´s history. I think of the same fate for this exhibition at V&A.

You can feel tension in the air as you walk in through the doors into the exhibition room. Muzzled mannequins at one wall, with Lee McQueen himself talking on tape about making his first collections off his dole money. Creating gorgeous clothing pieces off absolutely no budget.
Shows were his playground to do whatever he wanted, go wild and stage a performance – never dull.
As you walk through the rooms of perfectly tailored jackets – a skill he learned while apprenticing at Savile Row even before starting his career as a fashion designer – you enter another room titled “Romantic Gothic” followed by the sound of classical music with mannequins wearing gimp masks and couture. The keywords here are: Victorian Gothic inspirations, Edgar-Allan Poe, dealing with dark side of his personality through fashion.
“There is blood beneath every layer of skin.”
McQueen´s women are never naive and innocent, they are dominating, aggressive, tough, someone who won´t go down without a fight and often come out as a winners.

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Then you continue to  the darkened corridor into the room with walls covered in bones, like Parisian catacombs. It is a fully engaging exhibition space with aquarium-looking screen in the ceiling, inspired by his “Irere” collection. “Romantic Primitivism” room explores tribalism in McQueen´s collections. Primitivism of noble savage, Yoruba mythology is used as inspiration for mannequins with horns in the middle of their face. Exotic pieces include beaded pony skin evening dress, a coat made out of hair, crocodile heads on the shoulders of a garment, etc.

4. Romantic Primitivism Installation view of London gallery Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty. Victoria and Albert Museum London

And you proceed to another room accompanied by the sound of classical music again that leads you to experience his “Romantic Nationalism” of his last, post mortem collection. Utterly royal. McQueen tartan mixed with lace and crystals.
“It was time to come out of the dark and into the light”.

5. Romantic Nationalism Installation view of London gallery Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty. Victoria and Albert Museum London

“I want to create pieces that can be handed down, like a heirloom”.
“The Cabinet of Curiosities” filled with a selection of his most creatively outrageous pieces and collaborations with other craftsmen and designers. Wooden dresses, leather molded body pieces, tops made of sea shells, metal pipes or crystals, unbelievable 3D-printed shoes.
“I find beauty in grotesque, like most artists. I have to force people to look at things.”

6. The Cabinet of Curiosities Installation view of London gallery Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty. Victoria and Albert Museum London

The maze of the exhibition continues into the dark room with a glass pyramid in the middle with a hologram of Kate Moss “dancing”. This was created not digitally, as one can assume, but using a “Pepper´s Ghost” technique from the 19th century, involving projectors and mirrors that at a time was believed that real ghosts were being called back from beyond the grave.

Kate Moss hologram

Just when you expect it to be the end you step out into the mirrored room of pastels inspired by the Far East, Japan in particular. It is easy to spend hours there looking at every stitch and guessing the source of inspiration for every pattern or detail.
This is followed by a room of “Romantic Naturalism” with real(or probably artificial) flower dresses from “Sarabande” collection, sea shell dress and feather dresses. McQueen´s love for ornitology and savagery of animal world and nature. You can only wonder which unusual materials did McQueen not use in his collections…
The final room displays his arguably best collection of “Plato´s Atlantis” early era of digital print, and 3D-printed footwear, perfectly captured and evolved within itself.
“There is no way back for me now. I´m going to take you on journeys you never dreamed possible”.

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5 years since his death McQueen´s star shines brightly. During his short life he gave so much to the world of fashion. He was without a doubt one of the most talented, creative and masterous designers of our times.

Utterly inspiring exhibition! I would recommend going there alone to fully experience it, breathe in all the details of his craftsmanship and absorb dark and savage concept.

This story was also published in Estonian web magazine Femme.

Unbuttoning inspiration

Last week in Paris I had a chance to visit an exhibition devoted to buttons. “Deboutonner la Mode” exhibition at Musée Les Arts Decoratifs presents a collection of more than 3000 buttons, following their evolvement through history. Although small in size, buttons can sometimes tell a whole story. Buttons not only decorate a piece of clothing or accessories, but also play a crucial role in creating balance in a silhouette, pinching in at just a right place. Over times buttons have been made from gold and jewels, bones, stones, glass, plastic and other materials. They have been used for social or political identification, bearing humorous or intimate messages, depicting a story or affiliation, reflecting the zeitgeist of an era and expressing artistic movements of the period.
“Buttons are the make-up of dresses” as famously said by the magazine Modes et Travaux in 1941.
The exhibition stays open till 19th of July.

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Developing Riina O´s latest collection “Tempus Loquendi” we also looked at buttons for inspiration. Historically buttons have been used on gloves for practical and decorative purposes. With Carmela model we followed the example of ladies´ long evening Mousquetaire gloves to improve slim fit around wrist and add an elegant detail with leather coated buttons. Adelgunda gloves looked more closely at military uniforms of 19th century for inspiration, while Victoria gloves´ buttons got embraced by soft hairy pony skin turning into little “furry creatures”.

Riina O gloves
Riina O “Tempus Loquendi”