Blackest of Blacks

by United Blogs of Benetton on: July 1st, 2010

Mattel has had a bit of a rough time producing Barbies from different ethnicities from the Colored Francie doll in 1967 to the current So In Style range which is supposed to create a more realistic depiction of black people. I therefore wonder what would Mattel think about this particular interpretation of a Black Barbie. Quite literally, these dolls have been plunged in noir, totally immersed in order to create amazing silhouettes.

These are the work of four 13 year old girls; Jana, Jozefien, Marie and Astrid.

The MOMU Fashion Museum in Antwerp has currently dedicated an exhibition to the colour black entitled Masters of Black in Fashion and Costume. It tracks the history and symbolism of the colour black in fashion from the 16th century to present day, with designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Comme des Garcons, Ann Demeulemeester and Givenchy on display.
To coincide with the exhibition, MOMU organised a young persons workshop which gave way to inspiring the four girls to creating these Black Barbie dolls. They focused on silhouettes, the outline of the silhouette, where the volumes are concentrated as well as the different tones of black which are achieved with different materials; feathers, velvet and wool etc. It’s quite a fairly young age to be thinking about fashion at a conceptual level but then again, we are in an age where 12 year old are memorising fashion shows off by heart so I guess I’m feeling the generation gap a little.

You can definitely see hints of Viktor & Rolf, Gareth Pugh, Givenchy etc in the silhouettes but I’m definitely suitably impressed when in comparison, I was having trouble tie dying a tshirt when I was their age…

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 Breathe In This

by United Blogs of Benetton on: June 22nd, 2010

I’m urging all people in London to go check out Antony Gormley‘s exhibition at White Cube Mason’s Yard and specifically to experience his work Breathing Room III and there’s no excuse about time or money as the exhibition is free and if you’re succinct with your experience, it will only really take ten minutes of your time.

Breathing Room III is a spacial awareness installation that artist Gormley has constructed within a gallery space, specific to that space. It is the largest in the series yet as within the interconnecting photo luminescent space frames, the volume is equal to that of the internal gallery space at White Cube.

The work encourages viewers to interact with it, moving around within the frames, observing how depth of field and perspective is completely altered because the frames resemble lines of laser light in the dark. Add to that, there are unexpected jolts of light as well as a dimming and lighting up of the frames to shake up the experience even more.

Gormley admits to wanting to scare people and whilst I wasn’t frightened per se, I was disturbed. There was something very claustrophobic about being trapped inside those frames even though you knew it was just a gallery space with powers to free you. At the same time, you feel an eerie sense of peace when you’re looking at the lines, following them as they seem to go beyond the room, into a dark hole.

It’s trapping and freeing you at the same time. I’m definitely checking it out a few more times before it ends in July.

All photography by David Levene for The Guardian

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by United Blogs of Benetton on: May 25th, 2010

COLLECT is the international art fair for contemporary objects, it’s housed at the Saatchi Gallery on Kings Road in London for a week every year. I popped in for a quick look but ended up staying a whole afternoon. Don’t you love it when that happens?

The building is huge and totally beautiful. When it is the Saatchi Gallery it is completely free to get in (I urge you to go). But as Collect it was about £15 to get in, and of course, totally worth it. Now, don’t take this the wrong way but when someone mentions the word craft to me I recoil slightly. Craft? What as in knitting and tea and cake (I know, I know, I’m a terrible person) but look at craft these days! Emma Woffenden’s ‘I call her Mother’ – hardly soft is it. And ‘Ghost’ by Kim Simonsson – I actually sat on the floor and stared into her spooky little eyes for about ten minutes (no, I can’t believe I wasn’t asked to leave either). I could seriously get into ‘contemporary objects’ these days.

Floor after floor of wonders to look at: jewellery, pots, funny little figures and lots lots more.

Love that Collect! I hear there is a jewellery fair on next month, I wouldn’t ordinarily go but I think I just might….

Jackie Dixon


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 The Larger Scale

by United Blogs of Benetton on: April 12th, 2010

It’s interesting how spikes, studs and all things hard in fashion are fleeting moments where one season everything you see is studded and spiked and the next, they are completely banished. It was therefore intriguing to see artist Susie MacMurray‘s latest garment installation, currently dispelled at Manchester’s newly reopened Gallery of Costume; a piece entitled Widow, made out of black nappa leather and adorned with over 100,000 adamantine dressmaker pins.

These are not of course fashion friendly spikes, the supposed bits of hardware that make you conform to cliches such as tough biker chick. These are pins that could do serious damage if you ever felt the urge to touch the piece.

Neither is Widow meant to be on any level wearable either. In my mind, the piece seemed to speak of traditional notions of a widow, pining after her deceased spouse, and busying herself with cottage industry scale dressmaking. That’s just my interpretation though.

Murray has also used the recognisable medium of dresses to make other large scale garment installations such as dresses made out of turned out rubber gloves and coloured balloons.

In other large scale, track stopping and thought provoking pieces, one of the more recent ones to hit London is Alice Anderson’s Time Reversal piece that is quite literally spilling out onto the streets on Beak Street’s Riflemaker Gallery.

The French Algerian artist has revisited the story of Rapunzel to create an installation where thousands of metres of hair come cascading down from a window on the first floor into the gallery, entangled in amongst mementos of film, sculptures and photographs of a fictional childhood.

Susie MacMurray’s Widow on display at Manchester Gallery of Costume, Platt Hall, Rusholme, Manchester, M14 5LL until September.

Alice Anderson’s Time Reversal at Riflemaker, 79 Beak Street, London W1F 9SU until 24th April.

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 Seeing patterns everywhere

by United Blogs of Benetton on: April 10th, 2010

I’m one of those hyper-observant people in a way where it becomes almost like a nervous tick because in everything i see, I might spy something that makes it aesthetically interesting.

This could be cracks in pavements, broken glass, typography in old signs. Sadly, I’ve never put my eye to any good use given that I stupidly don’t document these occurrences where I see some form of beauty.

Thankfully, there are diligent people out there that have enough patience to go around for all of us. Which is why sites such as Patternity exist. Founded by art director Anna Murray and textiles designer Grace Winteringham, they have put together an online resource which is a scrapbook of everything and anything where a discoverable ‘pattern’ can be seen.

In buildings, interiors, cult/couture fashion, vintage materials as well as daily discoveries, patterns are all around us. I’m thinking more than a handful of creatives would get a thorough kick out of Patternity’s wonderful free-for-all resource.

It goes without saying that a lot of the things that Patternity unearth also seem to run in tandem with a lot that is going on within fashion which is why I’m most excited that they will be opening an e-store selling carefully selected vintage pieces that are of course patterned. A taster of these vintage pieces can currently be seen on Supermarket Sarah‘s paternity wall.

Patternity will also be presenting an exhibition as part of the Land of Kings festival in Dalston in East London celebrating the vibrant and creative scene of this cool pocket of the city. ‘The Tapestry of Dalston’ brings together Hackney-based creatives such as illustrator Colin Henderson (has worked for brands like Nike and Urban Outfitters) as well as Daniel Brereton who has worked for bands like Late of the Piere and These New Purtians. Weighing in from a fashion perspective, Audrey Roger will also be exhibiting having worked for Chloe in Paris.

Patternity presents A Tapestry Of Dalston at The Print House Gallery, 18 Ashwin Street, London E8 3DL from the 24th April until the 4th May.

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