Commissioned to redesign the façade of the Louis Vuitton’s flagship store in Tokyo’s Matsuya Ginza, architect Aoki Jun & Associates transformed what previously was a concrete block tower into a luminous pearl shimmering in the urban landscape. Inspired by the luxury retailer’s monogram and the city’s art deco architectural history, Jun turned Vuitton’s monogram into a repetitive geometric motif. The pattern was then pressed and perforated onto sheets of aluminum and coated with an exceptionally durable pearlized fluropolymer paint. The opal hue and three-dimensional pattern give the façade a plush quilted appearance that subtly changes with the light throughout the day. At night, LED lights placed behind the perforated reliefs of the façade make Vuitton’s monogram visible in the dark. Very classy, very cool.
A monogram perhaps may best be described as a logo with attitude, a certain snob appeal. It’s more than just graphic shorthand for a brand name. In the fashion world, the right monogram says luxury, refinement, and discerning taste. Consumers like being associated with these qualities and usually don’t mind if the monogram is prominently visible on their shirt or purse for all to see. How many of these monograms can you name? Answers on the next page.
You won’t catch any of the Super Bowl XLIII players butting heads with these helmuts on this weekend, but you can still bid on one and help the NFL Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to the health and safety of sports and youth football.
Bloomingdale’s in New York collaborated with the Council of Fashion Designers of America to invite some of the world’s leading fashion designers to bring their own personal flair to football helmuts. The collection of 48 fanciful and impractical headgear has been on display in the window of Bloomingdale’s 59th Street store in Manhattan and can be viewed online as well. The helmuts are being auctioned off to support the NFL Foundation, and the public has been invited to submit their own design with a chance to win a Bloomie’s gift card and a mini 3-D printed version of their submitted design. Even football helmut design is a participatory sport.
The other day we were lamenting that good art-directed, concept-driving original photography has become a rarity when we happened upon this Washington Life Magazine piece on the Washington Ballet’s production of “Alice in Wonderland.” Photographed by Dean Alexander with creative and art direction by Design Army’s Jake and Pum Lefebure, the photo essay presents a consistent and cohesive story line, communicated through thoughtful choice of lighting, scale, pacing, mood, poses, typography and layouts. Everything hangs together as a piece. The photos have a subtle narrative flow, beginning with the lost look of Alice in an innocent baby-blue dress, all the way through to the playful mid-air leaps of Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum and the White Rabbit, to the darkly surreal portraits of the Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts staring provocatively at the camera. Although Lewis Carroll’s tale of Alice in Wonderland is well-known, this photo shoot reveals strong art direction by Design Army to ensure that the make-up, hair and costume stylists, the photographer, and models are all working toward the same vision on how the story should be told.
Herself Magazine is a bi-annual, all-illustrated fashion publication produced in the UK. Virtually every image shows celebrity “models” (living, dead and animated) wearing high fashion apparel and jewelry by the likes of Valentino, Yves Saint Laurent, Prada, Gucci, Chanel, Boucheron and Faberge. The models’ poses and background settings all look like they were copied from high-end fashion photographs – and maybe they were. Every illustration is drawn by a person named Lula, who identifies herself as editor in chief and creative director, with art direction by Annual. No other staff credits are given.
A very text-light publication, Herself includes fictitious Q-A interviews between Herself and stars including Marilyn Monroe, Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo, and Susan Sontag. Another article in Issue 2 features Disney fairy tale princesses, including Pocahontas, Cinderella, Belle, and Snow White, modeling contemporary fashions. As concepts go, Herself is intriguing, unique, and surreal.
One of the most famous fashion photographers of the 20th century, Berlin-born American Erwin Blumenfeld took more photographs for Vogue Magazine than anyone else before or since. His style was classic yet innovative and experimental. Among his most memorable photographs is the January 1950 cover for Vogue, which captures the essence of model Jean Patchett’s beauty through just her eyes, lips and beauty mark. Blumenfeld’s photograph served as the inspiration for Norwegian fashion photographer Solve Sundsbo’s new video for Chanel’s Rouge Allure lipstick line. Sundsbo removed everything except model Barbara Palvin’s luscious lips, green eyes,eyebrows and fingernails. The effect is flirtatious and alluring. Although the voiceover is hard to hear, it’s advice from Coco Chanel: “If you are sad, if you are heartbroken, make yourself up, dress up, add more lipstick and attack. Men hate women who weep.”
The opening of a new location in Osaka, Japan, was occasion for luxury retailer Louis Vuitton to ask Italian design studio Happycentro to produce an appropriately elegant invitation card.The result was a printing and folding tour de force involving offset printing, transparent, silver mat, pearl and rainbow foils, dry embossing, silkscreen and die-cuts. As if that wasn’t complicated enough, the square sheet was precisely folded by hand origami-style 34 ways. One has to believe that the designer Federico Galvani has a fiendishly clever mind to devise something that tested the skills of printers and origami artists alike, but the team pulled it off and the result is lovely and unique.
Whether pushing soft drinks, electronic games, clothes or jewelry, all the TV ads during the Christmas season seem alike. They are packed with every Christmas cliché — a rosy-cheeked Santa, cute kids in pajamas, elves, reindeer, snow, families gathered around the Christmas tree basking in the warm glow of a fireplace. If you’ve seen one Christmas commercial, you’ve seen them all – and can’t remember any of them, much less the product they’re promoting. So, it is refreshing to see some retailers strive for originality. Here, Brooks Brothers and Walmart chose animals to celebrate the season by singing “Jingle Bells.” There the similarity ends, and the fun begins.
Looking for a Christmas present that a designer will appreciate? Try “PANTONE®: The 20th Century in Full Color” (Chronicle Books) by color experts Leatrice Eiseman and Keith Recker. The book takes readers on a color-palette tour of the last century presenting a decade-by-decade account of fads, fashions, films, social and art movements, objects, and events and the colors associated with them. Each subject is presented with color chips of the palette, complete with exact Pantone numbers — e.g., Buttercup Yellow (PANTONE 12-0752), Nile Green (PANTONE14-0121), Lipstick Red (PANTONE 19-1764). Perusing this book, it becomes apparent that color is very much a part of our collective memory, evoking a sense of time and place and the emotional climate of the era. It’s a unique way of seeing the 20th century.
Here authors Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, and Keith Recker, Pantone color and trend consultant, join us for a brief interview.
Chanel let its Le Vernis line of fingernail polish take centerstage with this choreographed dance number by Grammy-nominated director Patrick Daughters and French set designer Aline Bonetto. Sassy fingers strut down a mini-runway to the doo-wop tune of “Little Bitty Pretty One” by Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers and break into chorus-line steps. The set incorporates several of the couture house’s symbols including the double “C” logo, pearl necklaces, and Coco Chanel’s famous mirrored spiral staircase. The closing credit cites the starring roles of the nail polish shades.
When Dr. Martens celebrated its 50th anniversary, its agency, Exposure Communications, decided to launch a website featuring 10 contemporary artists interpreting 10 alternative music tracks from the past 50 years. Vanessa Marzaroli from the Los Angeles -based multimedia design studio, Blind, was asked to create the music video for “Lilac Wine” by the Cinematic Orchestra. Marzaroli captured the “sweet and heady” lyrics in the delicate, fluid lines of Spencerian calligraphy – a perfect melding of music and images.
This Japanese television commercial for Wacoal LaLan bras is a fascinating departure from the usual approach to selling intimate apparel in Western cultures. No sultry bedroom eyes, no come-hither looks, no languorous poses. Victoria’s Secret models they are not. The contrast is stark between the lingerie ads in the U.S. that imply that the right underwear will make you sexy and desirable, and this Japanese ad featuring young women doing a surreal and zany dance. What’s even more interesting is that Wacoal, a company headquartered in Kyoto, Japan, employs the sexy underwear strategy in ads that it runs in many other countries.
Of course, every brand wants to suggest that its product is the rage among trend-setting consumers. But Coca-Cola is doing more than just suggesting that it is fashionable to drink its product; it is linking its brand to the world’s top fashion designers and putting its name on beauty products too.
Last fall Coca-Cola Light and eight renowned Italian fashion designers — Donatella Versace, Alberta Ferretti, Anna Molinari for Blumarine, Veronic Etro, Silvia Venturini for Fendi, Consuelo Castiglioni for Marni, Angela Missoni and Rossella Jardini for Moschino — teamed up to present specially decorated contoured bottles for the opening of Milan Fashion Week. Showcased at a Coca-Cola Light “Tribute to Fashion” runway event, the original bottles were later auctioned by Sotheby’s with proceeds going to aid the victims of the devastating 2009 earthquake in Abruzzo, Italy. Collectible bottles were also produced in limited edition and sold in Europe. Some are even finding their way onto eBay.
Tokujin Yoshioka, who created shop designs and installations for fashion designer Issey Miyake for 20 years before starting his own studio in 2000, communicated the essence of the Hermes brand with utmost simplicity in this window display for Maison Hermes in Tokyo. Only two props filled the display area – a black-and-white image of a beautiful woman projected onto a monitor and a hanging Hermes scarf. Each time the woman appeared to blow gently on the colorful scarf, it swayed in response. Ethereal, poetic and uncontrived, the scene is devoid of anything that would detract from appreciating the ultra-silky elegance of the scarf.
Want to set an elegant table for the holidays? Don’t just put any old bottled water out for guests. Make it French. Make it designer. Make it from the Evian Paul Smith Limited Edition collection. In a tradition started in 2008 with a limited edition bottle designed by Christian Lacroix, followed in 2009 with Jean Paul Gaultier, Evian has just released the Paul Smith Limited Edition 2010 bottle.
The renowned British fashion icon designed the bottle in vibrant colors with a festive theme, featuring his signature stripes and five different multi-colored caps to collect. These days selling bottled water has become harder with countless brands vying for market share and sustainability proponents urging people to drink water filtered from the tap, even adding the bubbly themselves. With its designer bottles, Evian, owned by Danone Waters of America, isn’t touting how its product tastes, but how its bottles look. At $13.95 (USD) for a single 750ml bottle and $118 (USD) for a 12-bottle case, what consumers are buying is imaginative packaging that happens to have water inside.