Amelia’s Magazine | Grace Kelly: Style Icon

As a movie star-turned-princess, approved Grace Kelly’s fashion choices were always well-documented by the media in her lifetime, and it’s no surprise that the new exhibition of her wardrobe at the Victoria and Albert Museum has been eagerly anticipated by fashion-lovers.

The show – which is actually fairly small and tightly-edited – includes pieces from Kelly’s Hollywood career, as well as her later role as Princess of Monaco. Alongside the film posters are the costumes she wore in films like High Society, To Catch a Thief and Rear Window. The most interesting thing is the insight the show gives into Kelly’s ‘real’ style. She popularised a seemingly effortless, elegant, immaculate look, but the stories behind some of her wardrobe choices show a surprisingly low-maintenance, pragmatic attitude: a floral dress she wore to visit her future husband, Prince Rainier of Monaco, turns out to be the only uncrumpled thing she had in her suitcase, and it came from an easy-to-sew patternbook. As well as the many, many gorgeous red-carpet dresses, the exhibition shows how she assembled a stylish wardrobe. “I just buy clothes when they catch my eye and I wear them for years,” Kelly said. She wore her favourites until they wore out: displayed on its own, her famous leather Hermes bag – renamed in her honour after she was photographed holding it to conceal her pregnancy in 1956 – is scuffed from years of use. Similarly, she took the same embroidered evening bag to multiple red-carpet events, and the dress she wore to collect her Oscar was originally created by costume guru Edith Head for a movie she was in the previous year.

Later, when she became Princess Grace, she wore Givenchy, Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent. Another thing that comes as a surprise is how modern some of the pieces are. Imagining Grace Kelly conjures her trademark white gloves or the full-skirted dresses she wore in many of her movies, but as some of the displays of outfits from the 1960s and 1970s show, she adapted her style over the years without giving up on fashion. She wore a YSL Mondrian dress to a children’s party, and accessorised to maximise on every occasion, as the collections of jewels, sunglasses, handbags and shoes show.

The clothes in the exhibition are teamed throughout with memorabilia, quotes and film clips. The photographs of Princess Grace wearing fabulous outfit after outfit are a valuable part of the displays, but it’s almost a shame they’re so small. In those pictures, Kelly always looks poised, and glamorous in a subtle, regal way (even before she was a princess). Some of the magic is lost in viewing her wardrobe – as fabulous as it is – on stiff, headless mannequins, in the museum’s dimly-lit glass cabinets. It just goes to show that the secret of why Grace Kelly was such a style icon is about more than the clothes. And it’s pleasing to know that even a woman with such an impossibly glamorous lifestyle would never chuck out her favourite handbag.

Grace Kelly: Style Icon, open until 26 September 2010 at the V&A Museum, London
Admission £6 (£4 concessions)

Categories ,Balenciaga, ,Grace Kelly, ,Hermés, ,High Society, ,Hollywood, ,Monaco, ,Princess, ,Rear Window, ,To Catch A Thief, ,va, ,victoria and albert museum, ,YSL, ,Yves Saint Laurent

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Amelia’s Magazine | Curating Yamamoto: An interview with Ligaya Salazar, the V&A’s Yohji Yamamoto exhibition curator

Illustration by Jo Cheung

So after a rollercoaster six days, website online Menswear Day and London Fashion Week drew to a close with hip-store Kokon To Zai’s label, this web dosage KTZ, viagra and what would be my final show of this season. I absolutely loved what they did last season, and I couldn’t wait to see what they’d come up with next.

All photography by Matt Bramford

A heavily policed front row meant me and illustrator Gareth took seats on the second, but I managed to get on the end so that my pictures would make it look like I was Frowing all along. I was bloody exhausted and feeling very sorry for myself, and I couldn’t help but wish that they’d just get on with it and stop papping people wearing pig masks. My legs wobbled and I struggled to keep my eyes open, but when the music started and the first look appeared, I quickly forgot my woes.

Illustration by June Chanpoomidole

Illustration by Thomas Leadbetter

Memphis-inspired fashion? I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. A pumpin’ soundtrack blasted from the PA system as gorgeous models (more women than men, but who cares?) sashayed up and down the length of the BFC tent. Stripes were a plenty on figure-hugging dresses with sweetheart necklines that feature extra flaps in that Pop Art/Memphis splatter pattern. Vibrant primary colours made black dresses playful: such a sophisticated, considered collection expertly styled by wonder-styilst Anna Trevelyan.

A whole load of other influences filtered into this power collection – the womenswear referenced power dressing from the 1980s (think Dynasty) and Mondrian’s prints; the menswear also digging up the eighties with (faux!) fur lapels and broad shoulders.

Illustration by Abby Wright

I have to admit, I did prefer the womenswear – it was far more wearable for fashion-forward ladies and it oozed sex appeal with dresses cut above the knee and details in all the right places to emphasise the curves. The menswear featured striped balaclavas topped with pom-poms, acrylic brooches which referenced the womenswear, over-sized imposing puffa jackets and graphic-print trousers. But it’ll be the womenswear that cements Kokontozai’s place as one of London’s hottest design duos.

Illustration by Lesley Barnes

Huge orb-like creations were worn on wrists, picking out patterns from lapels. And, oh, the cuts! Dynamic pieces of fabric were layered onto classic tailored pieces to give them a seriously sexy aesthetic. This was a collection that was playful but sophisticated at the same – a really difficult challenge to pull off.

Illustration by Valerie Pezeron

I loved EVERYTHING about it. I can’t put it into words, so just have a look at the pictures. Oh, and read Amelia’s more comprehensive and articulate review here!

You can see more from Jo Cheung, June Chanpoomidole, Abby Wright and Lesley Barnes in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration!

Illustration by Gareth A Hopkins

This spring, visit this the V&A presents a unique exhibition dedicated to the Grand Master Japanese couturier, Yohji Yamamoto. The exhibition will celebrate his life and work, and is the first of its kind in the UK. 30 years after Yamamoto debuted in Paris, the V&A has brought together rare examples of his visionary designs.

Watch the video for an exclusive interview with the exhibition’s curator, Ligaya Salazar. You can also read some of Salazar’s thoughts below, too.

On process
With this project I started roughly two and a half years ago to work on the idea and the concept behind the exhibition, it’s also a very particular project because you are working with a living designer who you are doing a single retrospective with, working with their team very closely, so in terms of curating, there is much more of a dialogue there than you would probably normally have with a slightly more thematic show.

The focus was more on to find a concept that would work for him, as a designer, because Yohji Yamamoto is very special in the deign world in terms of the way he approaches designing, so the way you want to show his work should be quite different as well… I spent more time looking at ways of displaying his work, ways of showing his work…

On garment selection
I had the incredible honour to be able to go into both his Paris and his Tokyo archives; the Tokyo archives no curator had ever been to and I had all of his archive to look at and to choose from, which made the editing process incredibly hard. It is something you spend a long time doing, talking to Yohji’s team, talking to the designer, making sure you have covered the iconic parts of his career, but also choosing pieces that are most emblematic of the themes that you want to bring out. I stated with an object list that was about six hundred pieces, and that was already a selection of the pieces I saw in the archive and then I had to bring it down to ninety; it was a long and arduous process.

On themes
Because it is an installation based exhibition, there isn’t a prescriptive story to tell, or a chronology, it was much more about how people would encounter the garments. For the first time what we are doing is to show everything on open display, on the same height as the viewer, so you are meeting your other, rather than looking up and behind glass. It’s a very different experience of the clothes.

Yohi Yamamoto is at the V&A and at The Wapping Project until 10th July 2011. Look out for a full review coming soon!

See more from Natascha Nanji here.

Categories ,couture, ,Cromwell Road, ,Curator, ,exhibition, ,fashion, ,Gareth A Hopkins, ,japan, ,japanese, ,Ligaya Salazar, ,london, ,Natascha Nanji, ,paris, ,Retrospective, ,tokyo, ,va, ,video, ,Yohji Yamamoto

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Amelia’s Magazine | The 2009 Freedom To Create Prize Awards at the V&A

Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa Front cover - The 99Illustration by Naif Al-Mutawa courtesy of PagetBaker Associates

What do you do when your freedom of expression has been seriously hampered? What happens when an artist has to muster all the courage and strength in the world to plough on amidst censorship, viagra buy opposition, intimidation and threats? The Freedom to Create Prize aims to encourage and support artists all over the world who operate in a stifling climate where they are isolated. Created as “a celebration of the courage and creativity of artists around the world who use their talent to build the foundation of open societies, promote social justice and inspire the human spirit”1., this prize is unique in that it celebrates the power of art to fight oppression, break down stereotypes and build trust in societies broken by conflict, violence and misunderstanding.

image009Photograph of Moshen Makhmalbaf courtesy of PagetBaker Associates

There are more than 1,000 entrants from Africa, Asia, Latin America, eastern Europe and the Middle East and Human Rights advocate Bianca Jagger presented the main prize yesterday night to Moshen Makhmalbaf, the Iranian filmmaker dedicated to the Green Movement. “People of my country (Iran) are killed, imprisoned, tortured and raped just for their votes. Every award I receive means an opportunity for me to echo their voices to the world, asking for democracy for Iran and peace for the world.” Guests from the worlds of art and the human rights attended the reception in the grand surroundings of the Victoria and Albert museum. The prize is worth $50,000, but they give half to an organization that will advance the cause their work highlights. Representatives from Burmese refugee women’s group The Kumjing Storytellers who use giant paper maché dolls to represent their stories of ethnic persecution in Burma and the plight of migrants and refugees from around the world received the second place prize winner, The director from The Zugdidi Shalva Dadiani State Drama Theatre, David Alan Harris from Poimboi Veeyah Koindu and Sheenkai Alam Stanikzai were all there along with last year’s inaugural winner, the Zimbabwean dramatist Cont Mhlanga.

image002Logo courtesy of PagetBaker Associates

Set up by Richard Chandler, a billionaire New Zealand-born philanthropist based in Singapore, the arts prize shines a light into those parts of the world where creative freedom is not a given. This year alone, we have had the Obama cartoon in The New Yorker and Osama Bin Laden as a cameo on family Guy; there are societies in greatest need but these awards is a reminder that we must always remember not to take for granted the civil liberties we enjoy in this country. In 2006, a Kuwaiti doctor, Naif Al-Mutawa, launched a comic called The 99, featuring 99 superheroes, each based on a virtue expounded in the Koran. “Some of the more conservative places in the world weren’t so happy to let The 99 in,” he says.

Graham CrouchArtist Sheenkai Alam Stanikzai. Photograph courtesy of PagetBaker Associates

Women artists are showing strong pieces this year; Third- prize winner Sheenkai Alam Stanikzai has created an installation piece about the traditional suicide method of abused Afghan women: “I recognized the similarity between these ancient events and contemporary world events, so I decided to show my feelings about what is happening: more than 40 women are dying every day.” Pakistan’s Sheema Kermani entered a series of dance and theatre pieces about the veil, polygamy, sexual abuse and honor killings: For long periods, it has been almost like a life underground,” she says.

View-of-Installation-work-bInstallation by  Sheenkai Alam Stanikzai. Photograph courtesy of PagetBaker Associates

Judges in attendance included leading international human rights lawyer and jurist on the UN’s Internal Justice Council Geoffrey Robertson QC, BBC arts correspondent Razia Iqbal, Time Out founder and chair of Human Rights Watch Tony Elliot, and award-winning Anglo-Indian artist Sacha Jafri. Nick Broomfield presented the Imprisoned Artist Prize; Geoffrey Robertson QC presented the Youth Prize. And there was an enjoyable performance by Emmanuel Jal.

It is suitably symbolic that the awards ceremony took place in the UK, home of the Magna Charta as it shows that engaged artists are not alone in this fight. Prosperous societies are founded upon creativity. Britain has a history of encouraging artistic expression and is a leader in showing other countries how to build strong foundations for economic, political and cultural development in order to lead tomorrow’s world. Political cartooning is a great British institution that prides itself in rocking the boat and rightfully getting away with it! Freedom to Create is a worthy initiative; their desire to seek to improve lives by addressing society’s ability to support and sustain creativity is to be commended. In the end, everyone was a winner!

Categories ,activism, ,art, ,Awards, ,bianca jagger, ,exhibition, ,film, ,freedom to create, ,green movement, ,installation, ,Kumjing Storytellers, ,london, ,Magna charta, ,Moshen Makhmalbaf, ,Naif Al-Mutawa, ,nick broomfield, ,protest, ,richard chandler, ,Sheenkai Alam Stanikza, ,victoria and albert museum, ,women, ,women’s rights

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