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Iris Van Herpen, a young designer originally from the Netherlands, recently showed her eagerly anticipated SS11 Haute Couture Collection in Paris. This particular collection was presented as a collaboration with the much celebrated milliner Stephen Jones and embodied everything both artists stand for – innovation and eccentricity. Every piece projected creative individuality but a high level of consistency still ran throughout.
The garments were both intricate and delicate in their designs but still remained structurally rigid as they worked their way along the catwalk. The collection, named ‘Escapism’, ironically lacked a certain level of flexibility, displayed by the models inability to navigate smoothly down the runway at a regular walking pace (probably something to do with the remarkable 6inch ‘broken glass slippers’ being worn).
However, this staggered progression, aided by the intense beating music, only added to the overall drama and certainly ensured the amount of attention it deserved. Here are our photos from the show.
It was time again for the Autumn Winter collections and kicking things off with Menswear, here are our favourite looks from some of the shows we attended this season in Paris. They included Graphic Sportwear from BERNARD WILLHELM, Flashes of Red from PETAR PETROV, Innovative Tailoring from JUUN J, Monochromatic Shapes from JULIUS and Vibrant/Subtle Colour Combination from WALTER VAN BEIRENDONCK.
It’s Gotan Project without the tango and Télépopmusik should the main singer’s voice have hit puberty.
French electronic duo Rouge Rouge’s album Ce soir, après dîner is not of latest trend (dating “back to” 2002) but is still completely relevant when you’re looking for a retro abreast music score to Lamorisse’s Ballon Rouge.
Just over one week ago Halfslant closed the Commercial Center Sans Commerce at CHIC Art Fair, after being open for five wonderful, busy days. The opening and closing parties were huge successes, and Halfslant feels so honored to have collaborated with the CHIC directors, Cécile Greismar and Sandrine Bonsignon, their wonderful staff, and the fifteen CHIC artists and their enthusiastic Galleries to welcome Paris to the Cité de la Mode et du Design for the first time.
For those of you who could not visit the Commercial Center for yourselves, we’ve put together this blog of photos and descriptions to show you some of the more interactive aspects of the show.
Opening and closing night the public was greeted by a red carpet leading to the Galerie E.G.P’s beautifully designed box containing artist Igor Josifov. This performance invited attendees to walk over Mr. Josifov- separated from them by a thick sheet of plexi-glass.
Some people jumped off horrified, others flirtatiously kneeled down to give him a big kiss, while children stomped up and down in furious disbelief. Stepping over Mr. Josifov’s face may have been extremely uncomfortable, yet this somewhat morbid performance also managed to be playful and fun.
Perhaps one of the most dynamic aspects of the Commercial Center was the “Dream Object Boutique” featuring paintings that were composed by Patrick Lebret’s (Galerie Ma Collection) daughter and then meticulously copied and enlarged by the artist. The Princesses, they matched perfectly with the Boutiques main product: dreams. Visitors were greeted by a single representative of the troupe of actors at a stark white counter, but then were surprised to find five more popping out offering to recreate childhood dreams and current desires. We watched children ride elephants on a safari, a grown man fulfill his dream of being a baseball star, as well as a certain curator who once dreamt of being a veterninarian magically heal a sick dog. All you needed in this boutique was a bit of imagination to play along.
We also caught many people interacting with Ana-Lee Karkar’s “Video Club 2010+”. The poetic DVD cases described films that could be watched by snapping a photo of the enclosed bar-code with your smartphone, which could then be used to instantaneously accessed the video via the internet. Even for the non-tech-savvy the titles themselves were evocative and thoughtful.
On quieter days, the Music provided by the M. Chinworth ensemble would echo through the space unhindered by the masses or the sounds from the river or the street. A jazzy slow version of the Pixies “Where is my mind?”, Beethoven’s 5th sung acapella in a doo-wop style, or a sound-art noise mashup of modern pop hits and screeching sounds were all part of the one hour loop which provided sound during the entirety of the Commercial Center show.
Over at the “Make Your Own Furniture” Boutique , design troupe Breaded Escalope (Outdoorz Gallery) from Vienna led workshops where they created their “Original Product” stools with the visitor participation.
Season in and season out, we’ve now moved on from checked shirts back around to Doc Martens (or lookalikes anyway), florals, denim, and curtain haircuts. Yet Fashion’s clichés forget the timbre of 90s culture, which may not be able to be defined as looks but more as places.
Teetering between pop and trip-hop, French singer, Carolyn Evan, and composer Jean-Baptiste Ayoub play with all kinds of grains against electronic froth in their recently released, self-titled album which reads as “melodies inviting you to fly away”.
We guarantee this hotel is surprisingly pop-trippy, like having gotten high in the halls of 90s nostalgia. The entire album is an experience of wanderlust. One moment you’ve caught a familiar metric recalling the Sneaker Pimps, only to be cradled by some Air, and wait, perhaps some Sade ?
Try to count the directions of your enthusiasm within the span of the Magic Pop Hotel’s 10 tracks.
Between the long absences and disparate article publications you may have asked yourself, where have Les Flâneurs gone? Here is a list of several hypothetical, metaphorical, metaphysical theories to answer your question.
We may have been:
. Performing the act of spinning thread into gold
. Bathing under waterfalls and surfing in South America
. Searching for new ways to keep reality in check
. Studying the notion of compensatory decorative exhilaration
. Waiting on a pair of Panasonic – RP-HTX7E that still have not arrived through the post.
Other possible factors:
. L’Officiel photo shoots
. London, Milan, and Paris Fashion weeks (and coordination of required attire)
. The release of Arcade Fire’s new album The Suburbs
. Existential crisis #1032
. Chance encounters
. Bad weather
. Samosas at La Chapelle
. The combination of whisky and wine
. Installation conceptualization with Halfslant for CHIC ART FAIR
Any biopic on a singer whose most famous works include a song in which lyrics about going and coming between loins meld with recordings of orgasms, and a track with his 13-year-old daughter entitled ‘Lemon Incest’ is going to have a fair share of sex and music. And Gainsbourg (vie héroïque) is full of it. But to say that was the total scope of this film would be to sell it short. Very short. And to think that this film simply details the most well known events the career of Serge Gainsbourg would be wrong. Very wrong.
First-time filmmaker Joann Sfar has used his background as a graphic novelist and illustrator to create an inventive, fantastical representation of French chanson’s black sheep, partly from fact, partly from his own ideas of who and what the man born Lucien Ginsburg symbolises. For the jewish born director, Gainsbourg is a lover of some of 20th century French culture’s greatest female icons, a smoker of coronary baiting proportions, and a naturally gifted artist able to turn his hand to anything. Yet he is constantly battling insecurities about his Jewish appearance and feelings of being an outsider.
Sfar’s comic book mind has imagined Serge’s self-persecution complex about his jewishness and the more reckless side of his personality as being manifest in a seven-foot puppet-like caricature that appears during his weaker moments. This character brings to mind Pan from Pan’s Labyrinth not only because the same special effects created both creatures but because they are also both played by actor Doug Jones.
Sfar’s imaginative approach compares favourably to the two biggest films about french icons of recent years. Coco Avant Chanel was criticised in France for being a straightforward telling of the story of a woman who wasn’t the slightest bit straightforward. While La Vie en Rose although not following a linear structure seemed only to be made as such to set up the rather unimaginative final scene. Sfar has given Gainsbourg a linear structure but rather than forming it around the events that shaped the musician’s life, the film focuses on how the personality of the agent provocateur evolves (or not) to present the director’s subjective portrait of what Serge Gainsbourg is. As such, the spectator is thrown straight into the heart of the various phases of the singer’s life when his passions are burning on full flame, or about to become dying embers, rather than being shown how the these different periods began and finished. This means the film flows at a thrilling pace and never lets up, just like Serge himself. From the very start to the very end he remains the same. The man is shown as being formed from the boy: his love of the female form exists right from the very first scene of the film when, as a youngster, he asks a little girl to kiss him; but as a Jewish boy growing up in Nazi-occupied Paris he also first becomes aware of French anti-Semitism. Sfar has said that this is a film about a French hero, and unlike American heroes, French ones never learn. So Serge never grows up, and on a couple of emotive occasions in his adult life, the young Ginsburg is cut into the place of the elder Gainsbourg. The man forever remains the boy.
Most of all, Vie héroïque makes 60′s Paris look not just chic, but damn cool, mightily sexily, full of beautiful women, and a hell of a lot of fun to be Serge Gainsbourg at his height. The style is most definitely there. The film is oozing with it. But it is intelligently used as the foundations with which to present the substance of a character that is deserving of such a creative depiction.
There are all manner of people pandering for money on the trains of Paris. They work the rails as desperate and street bound as pigeons who hustle the parks for food. If you live in a place long enough, you know the recurring characters.
In Brooklyn, each train carries a different repertoire of many varieties. There’s the kid saving up for a basketball jersey, the candy man just trying to stay out of trouble, the break dancing brothers, the Mariachi singers, the man with the Asian harp, the unwanted sermon from the Jesus freak, the hunchback crack-head bent over a shopping cart singing Otis Retting, the slurring homeless man willing to settle for a sandwich, or the toothless junkie with the same unbelievable sad story month after month “ I’m pregnant, I lost my job, my house burned down, I was robbed, I’m hungry.”
Some people are for real, some aren’t. Some are fine musicians; some just have microphones and amps on wheels, and mumble through bad Karaoke. Whatever the case, if they’re not trust fund kids posing as hippie road people with starving dogs, or aspiring musicians doing it for the experience and the thrill, they are more often than not, people in trouble who have no other choice.
The reasoning of why we decide to give money to one person and not another often seems random, having less to do with how talented or destitute the person is, but more with the inner psychology of the particular moment we’re in as we sit there.
Most of us can’t afford to give to everyone, but once in a while, no matter how down on our luck, we can certainly give to someone. Only time will tell if one day we might not be beggars ourselves. Should we feel guilty then when we don’t give? Should we be outraged when someone is obviously just hustling? If we are listening at all, these are thoughts that may occur each time the paper cup or tattered hat is passed.
Until the one armed man playing the flute walks by, holding his money pouch with the same hand, and having to stop playing every time somebody gives him a coin—BECAUSE HE ONLY HAS ONE HAND— and then you think, “okay I’m broke, but Jesus, I’m going to Hell if I don’t give this poor guy something.”
Like the beauty and colors of the buildings, Paris breeds a striking but less than boundless variety. The musicians in the Metros here are almost exclusively accordion players, joined by the occasional saxophone, hammer harp, or brass horn, all playing the same few songs. In the square below my apartment, an accordion player does the same continuous rendition of “Strangers in the Night.” “They’re not strangers anymore!” my roommate and I desperately joke, as he strikes up the tune again—the same man playing the same song all day, every day and every night.
In the connecting tunnels between trains, it is most often a familiar repertoire of French classics that echo through the passageways and stairwells, but there is also a bizarre homage to American music, an America from the 80’s that is, or years further ago still. Rushing with the stream to the next platform, some man can undoubtedly be heard playing a song like, “Lady in Red,” “Autumn Leaves,” Sinatra’s “My Way,” or George Michael’s “I don’t Ever Wanna Dance Again.”
In the way that Venice does its best to keep every shop front overflowing with pasta, every bridge peopled with busty opera singers and gondoliers in striped shirts, street musicians in Paris uphold the same dream of being here. They provide the seemingly spontaneous soundtrack of what tourists have come here for.
People go to New York for all the noise and excitement and perhaps the possibility of becoming someone; they go to Paris to be entrenched in beauty and taste the romantic life. The façade of the fantasy is real, but like anywhere else, the strings behind it are much more illusive. The hills of Monmartre are indeed resounding with violins, accordions, and harmonicas, all cranking out familiar tunes of Edith Piaf and songs from Amelie.
So the question is, do we owe them something for completing the dream? Do we pay them only when they’re good musicians or play music that we like? Do we do it for compassion, or for the sake of the romantic life? Is it shame or nobility that belongs to the maddening hustle of being toothless, smiling, and broke, knowing that one in a crowd might give you a centime, as you caricaturize yourself or give a true performance, playing the same songs day in and day out. As kitschy or played out as it may be, the music does often augment the moments as we wander through town.
There are a million reasons why people play and beg in the streets or on the train, there are a million reasons we may or may not give them money. But occasionally there is someone who does it for their own sake, to sing a song, no matter who is listening…. whether they are given something for it or not…
The African man began singing on the last train. He sat ceremoniously, in a long colored dress and bare sandaled feet, a man out of time with the winter of the old world. Clusters of black coats and pale skin huddled around him, a person dislocated from a place we must imagine, calling out with the shrill windpipes of secret creatures lost inside, like a tropical bird suddenly released from the forest.
He balanced himself on the edge of the bench and turned towards the others in the back, feet spread apart and hands in motion, playing a drum that wasn’t there, smiling with the creases of words in another language.
His hat was just a small unbrimmed shape attached to his head like a bottle cap, his long tunic and loose pants patterned with colors that could light the way through the dark. On this late night train full of grey fading people, the African man was a vibrant sight, one we see copies of in our travels through town.
The singer’s companion was dressed in the same exotic uniform, but carried an alligator briefcase and wore snakeskin boots and a leather jacket. Clearly this was the man’s protector, sheathing himself in the language of the West. The Africans of Paris come in pure form, having strayed only so far from the lands of their origins. They speak a collage of red velvet patois, skin impenetrable black, eyes deep and yellow at the edges.
As he continued to sing, the other passengers looked on or turned away. The woman across from him buried herself in a newspaper, the drole look of French disdain stamped on her face for eternity. The man in the trench coat coughed and straightened his collar.
It was only the young couple by the door who chimed in with his singing, drunk and in love—the sorts that continue dancing long after everyone else has left, ridiculously so, to music only they can hear. They clapped and stomped their feet with him. They fell upon each other trying to keep up. And when the song was over they gave the man a few coins.
It was then that it occurred to the quiet stranger sitting in the corner, that perhaps the man hadn’t suddenly burst into spontaneous song. He wasn’t singing because the night was over, or to pass the time. It wasn’t because he was happy, or hungry, or alone.
Or perhaps the white lovers had only misunderstood. Theirs’ was a world where it wasn’t enough to be strangers that suddenly turn friendly for a train ride…to bridge a long gap between two very different kinds. The coins broke that alliance, but left everyone happy.
The train shuttled on into the night, picking up passengers from every direction. Some stood in the shadows leaning against poles, others sat in the light, dazed by the sudden glimpse of their own reflections in the dark windows.
As the doors opened and closed to empty platforms, and late-night riders nodded off with fatigue, the last train car lit up with music, bright and incomprehensible, the final throbbing part of a blind glowworm’s tail.
Les Flâneurs met up with the founders of the Chez Jack art collective based on a chimerical, unconventional world that is Jack’s. Chez Jack’s compelling installations and photography will be exhibited this month at the Centre Culturel Auguste Dobel.
Vernissage and Happening this Friday, June 4th make for an awesome event.
Les Flâneurs: First of all, who is Jack?
Anthony: To be honest, I don’t really know. I just know that he doesn’t have the life of an ice-skater and that he doesn’t work at Météo France…
Jonathan: Jack is no one in particular. It startedoff as the name of a place we used to live in 3 years ago. Instead of saying “tonight there’s a party at Anthony’s, Jonathan’s, and Phillipe’s Place,” we would just say “Party Chez Jack tonight”. Then we moved to another apartment with different people but we still called the new place “Chez Jack”. Chez Jack wasn’t associated with just one place anymore, or identified by specific people. Chez Jack became an “état d’esprit…” / a state of mind.
LF: When Chez Jack speaks of having certain “sensibilités’”? What does that mean? What is Chez Jack sensitive towards?
Anthony: You could say that Chez Jack is sensitive towards a lot of things: the absurd, the mysterious, estafettes*, romance, Alain Turban…What counts is that this sensitivity ties us together. It’s like a language that we have in common that allows us to share, create, and move forward.
Jonathan: We each have our own mindsets, but we have the common desire to live together in a poetic world – in a world that’s a bit more mysterious, more incoherent, more colorful. Chez Jack tends to transform the commonplace into a work of art.
LF: Who can take part of Chez Jack?
Jonathan: Anyone. Chez Jack is based on chance encounters. The key is to have an open mind.
Anthony: We know that specific characteristics make certain people get along and others not. These characteristics are probably subconscious or in any case difficult to pinpoint. We don’t deny their existence but we don’t really want to think much on them either. When really asking ourselves this question, we use a system we’ve developed, which involvesmeasuring one’s skull and height. According to our calculations, Benjamin, our black toy baby is much more capable of being part of Chez Jack than a Batman figurine…
LF: On your site it says that Chez Jack’s network is made of permanent ties. What are the factors that make these ties?
Jonathan: We mean that, even if you just stayed in our apartment for 3 days, and we had a good time together, you’re a part of Chez Jack…even if you live 8000 km away. People traveling from all over the world have taken part in Chez Jack. We don’t hear from them so often anymore for the most part.
Anthony: Certain people seem to live in a permanent Chez Jack, when others return, leave, pass through, fly over, disembark…
Aude: Who says that?
LF: Chez Jack has a certain 60s / new wave / nostalgic / retro feel. Where do you think that comes from?
Jonathan: I think it’s justa general trend. It’s in ‘l’air du temps’. We didn’t particularly think of this aspect, but the retro feel has been everywhere for a while now. Like a lot of people, outdated things fascinate us. Eventually, we all end up being overtaken; maybe this fascination is a way to anticipate [what's coming next], to reassure ourselves.
Anthony: It might come from the fact that we’re constantly looking for ways of living that aren’t merely imposed upon us and that correspond to us [as individuals]. So we go back and look for images from past eras that appeal to us and have been on our minds – eras in which people lived differently.
LF: Hats seem to be an important type of Chez Jack object. What do they mean? Are they signs of some kind of ranking or positioning between Chez Jack members?
Jonathan: Hats are a way to change your mood. If you’re feeling blasé and angry, just put on your “I love jesus” cap and you’ll look way better.
Anthony: At Chez Jack, wearing a hat can be a way to let go of everyday life. It’s like a mask or a costume, an object that helps each person decide who he or she really wants to be at that precise moment.
Aude: The fear that our ideas will escape.
LF: What is the difference between a regular object and a Chez Jack object?
Jonathan: Chez Jack objects are just everyday life objects that have a special meaning to us because of the different experiences we’ve had with them. We share a collective memory around these objects, because at one point or another, these objects werepart of a story linked to our imagination – a place we go from time to time.
Anthony: They’re loaded with shared recollections, which make them of inestimable worth. They speak to us, remind us of things, and inspire us…
Come discover the universe of Chez Jack, at its moment of exposure.
Special opening and installation Friday June 4th, 2010, from 6-10pm.
Chez Jack at Centre Culturel Auguste Dobel
9 rue Philidor