56 posts tagged "Olivier Zahm"
“I like being obsessed,” said Olympia Le-Tan on Thursday night as she welcomed visitors to the special project she had created for Pitti in Florence. And with an opening line like that, it was almost impossible to resist the web that Le-Tan had woven in the Museo Bellini, yet another of the jaw-droppingly beautiful Renaissance venues that seem to be ten-a-penny in Florence. When the Pitti organizers invited her to participate in this year’s event, it took Le-Tan mere minutes to decide that she would celebrate her favorite Italian films and books and, by extension, their directors and authors in the idiosyncratic medium that she has made her own—immaculately embroidered “books” that are actually handbags. The museum was draped in red silk curtains with the OLT logo, pink roses trailed over banisters, candles flared in the dusty air…atmosphere for days. Every shadowy room had vitrines displaying Le-Tan’s chosen 36 titles, precisely duplicated in thread as they would have appeared on the original book cover or movie poster. They covered a very comfortable waterfront from Visconti, Fellini, and Antonioni (her favorite of favorites) to Moravia, Machiavelli, and Pirandello.
But Le-Tan’s stroke of genius—as far as the Pitti exhibition went—was to persuade a game handful of friends to be photographed by Max Farago as a character from each of the 36. Olympia herself was the apogee of lush sensuality, posed as Silvana Mangano from a 1949 movie called Riso Amaro. Jennifer Eymere, editor of Jalouse magazine, made a very convincing Giulietta Masina from Fellini’s La Strada. Nightclub impresario André Saraiva was a plausibly penitent Jean-Louis Trintignant from The Conformist. As for Victoire de Castellane as Anita Ekberg in full clerical garb from La Dolce Vita? The success of that image was in inverse proportion to its unlikeliness. Poles apart were Hamish Bowles as Martin von Essenbeck, the cross-dressing Nazi from Visconti’s La Caduta Degli Dei (more familiar to English-speaking aficionados of early-seventies cinematic decadence as The Damned) and the ubiquitous Olivier Zahm, posed stark raving naked as a misbegotten extra from Pasolini’s terrifyingly transgressive Salò.
Later that same night, a handful of Le-Tan’s cast of characters regrouped on the Borgo San Jacopo to reflect on their re-conceptualisation of Italian culture. Most of them were French. You can imagine what they talked about.
Rick Owens has a well-documented taste for the monumental. Rather than swerve from inspiration to inspiration season after season, he contents himself with refining the dark, seductive ideas of his collections—laying, in effect, another brick in the wall with each outing. His furniture, which he shows at galleries in New York and, coming soon, London, embraces monumentalism, too: He recently debuted (and better still, sold) a ton-and-a-half alabaster bed.
No surprise, then, to find that Rizzoli’s new monograph on his work, Rick Owens, designed by Owens himself and featuring contributions from Olivier Zahm, Maria Luisa Frisa, and Francesco Bonami, is such an imposing object. (If any book ever demanded coffee-table space rather than bookshelf seclusion, this is it—try finding a bookcase to fit it.) “It does seem a bit shameless, doesn’t it?” Owens laughed. “I’ve always enjoyed the grand gesture. It’s a simple device but usually effective. I like resoluteness.” Style.com checked in with the Paris-based designer just before his Spring ’12 show to talk frivolity, fashion, and the restorative power of a good nap.
Your aesthetic has been very consistent over the course of your career, and you’ve talked about returning to and tweaking your favorite shapes and themes. Does that consistency make it harder or easier to select what should be in a retrospective book like this one?
Maybe the highlights are more visible when the movement is slow. I didn’t have any problem choosing favorite moments, and having the excuse to deliberate over them was pure pleasure. Being able to select your strong moments and quietly sweep the weak ones under the rug is a very validating exercise that I highly recommend to anyone—the delusion of control!
The word “frivolous” crops up several times in the book: “The word [fashion] seems to imply a frivolous whim”; designers changing their aesthetics season in and season out are frivolous. What’s the opposite, to you, of this frivolity? And is this opposite what you’re striving for?
Oh dear, did I sound disapproving? Because frivolous is kind of my middle name. But I do like to propose something a bit more sedate and steady to balance out all the stimulation out there. When people stick to something, it makes me feel that they know who they are. And I hate throwing out something valid for the sake of grasping for the new. I’m not saying that I’ve got the only answer, but I feel honest about it.
There’s a great quote from you in the book about your process: “I love routine.” But the fashion world seems to have changed so much since you began designing. Has that impacted your process and your routine? Or do you do, basically, what you’ve always done?
It would probably be impossible to calculate how much I absorb of the world. I trust that I do and my gut response usually works better than overthinking things. So far. So yeah, I think I do what I’ve always done. My strategy has always been to just shut up and do a lot of work, all the time, and for better or worse, something will emerge. But I do try to stay alert. Continue Reading “Rick Owens: A Man And His Monument” »
For her latest collection, Olympia Le-Tan checked herself into Paris’ Museum of the History of Medicine, a nineteenth-century gem tucked upstairs at the Descartes Medical School in Saint-Germain, the site of her presentation Thursday night. It was a telling venue. “People around me were taking strange medications and I sensed a disease vibe in the air,” Le-Tan said. So she and her team set to work assembling first-aid-kit carrying cases, and copying classic-edition covers of psychology tomes and the great novels of madness, drugs, and disease, including Wuthering Heights, Mrs. Dalloway, Valley of the Dolls, and Erich Segal’s tearjerker, Love Story. She called the collection Still Ill, after a song by her beloved Smiths. But if she lamented the persistence of sickness, she offered a few palliatives, too. There were pillbox clutches of “Brozac” (“Which will help your friends put up with you,” she wrote in a collection statement) and “Wiagra” (you can imagine), as well as for Olympia-brand petroleum jelly. And she couldn’t resist styling a few syringe hair clips and nurse uniforms her first foray into clothing. (Her sister, Cleo Le-Tan, modeled one.) These were tucked in between the antique scalpels and other strange tools of medicine’s past in the museum’s display cases as André Saraiva, Olivier Zahm, Garance Doré, and Catherine Baba nibbled Red Cross cupcakes and took each other’s temperatures.