August 20 2014

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6 posts tagged "Zaha Hadid"

EXCLUSIVE: Hussein Chalayan Transforms Infidelity into Costumes for Così Fan Tutte


Hussein Chalayan Cosi Fan Tuttu

In 2012, it was Rodarte and Frank Gehry. Last year, Azzedine Alaïa and Jean Nouvel had their turn. On Friday, Hussein Chalayan and Zaha Hadid will be the last mega-talents to impose their visions on L.A. Philharmonic’s Mozart/Da Ponte Project. The opera trilogy–Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro and Così Fan Tutte, respectively, all conducted by Gustavo Dudamel – has been nothing short of ambitious in partnering architect with fashion designer (or designers, in the case of Rodarte’s Laura and Kate Mulleavy). Even for Chalayan, whose runway shows have often bordered on performances and who is no stranger to conceiving costumes (for Michael Clark’s current/SEE in 1998 and the Saddler’s Wells Theatre in London in 2010), this production challenged his thinking. When the designer spoke to from London, he was preparing to visit L.A. for the final rehearsals. And unsurprisingly, he remained somewhat elusive on details, only to emphasize that his interpretation of Così Fan Tutte will be contemporary. Certainly his sketches – alternately diaphanous and sculptural – suggest an outright dismissal of late-18th century fashion. They, along with Hadid’s vision for the set, debut exclusively here. With only four performances, it’s a short run for so much effort. But there’s no doubt that the reward will last long past closing night.

There is a long history of fashion designers trying their hand at ballet or opera costumes. How do you explain the appeal?
You put yourself into a different realm. You think of your clothes in a broader context. It’s something different from what you normally do. It helps to also be thinking within a team. You’re thinking not only about your part but all the other parts. Normally with fashion, you can feel quite isolated. I find these experiences kind of nice; you learn and, hopefully, you become culturally richer for it. Simple as that.

When you came on board, the Rodarte/Frank Gehry production had already taken place. Did it guide you at all?
I had not seen it other than in pictures. And remember, I have done collaborations like this, just never with an architect. So I had some ideas; but this was another situation entirely because what I am doing still has to work with what Zaha is doing and [our work] evolved as islands that met and separated and met again, let’s say.

How do the design considerations change when making costumes for performers?
It is very satisfying because your clothes are on realer looking people. And those people have to be in them for a long while. And they have to feel comfortable in them. And look good in them. It wasn’t like I just plunked onto them whatever I wanted; I needed to consider what I felt was right for their neck height, their shoulders, etcetera… It’s the same kind of effort that I would make for my showpieces plus more. Everything had to be done individually for each person. And they were all different sizes and shapes. It was quite a challenge in that sense – but also very enjoyable because these people animate your clothes in a way that you’re not used to. And that adds another dimension to what I’m doing.

Hussein Chalayan Cosi Fan Tutti

Were you familiar Così Fan Tutte already and how did you go about distancing the costumes from typical period pieces?
Well, of course, I had heard of Così Fan Tutte before, but I had never sat down and watched it. So the first thing was obviously to get familiar with the plot. And the whole story is based on infidelity. I interpreted that as clothes that would change function a little bit or have a deceptive element that would appear to be one thing and then become another thing. I think those ideas as represented through clothes is a lot more abstract. But there’s no point in approaching a designer like me to do period costumes. Zaha as well.

Do you think the audience will pick up on these ideas?
To be honest, I think they’re not so in your face. I mean, there’s a lot of texture and color and stuff. But there is a minimalism to them as well. So I’m hoping they won’t become cliché or anything like that. I’m hoping that they will be unexpected.

Indeed, there is always some element of surprise and whimsy with your collections—a dress covered in artificial nails or a hat that doubles as an umbrella. Can we expect any of that in the production?
There’s some of that, yes, but there are no accessories; it’s all within the clothes. A lot of work went into them. Every single piece is quite monumental. With my collections, you have clothes for different occasions; I am always thinking of the wardrobe. But here, if you can imagine, every single piece behaves like occasion wear.

Zaha Hadid

Costumes can shape how characters perceive themselves in addition to how the audience perceives them. Were you keeping both sides in mind?
The idea is not that the costumes take over the characters. The idea is that the costumes create an ingredient to help enhance the characters. It is about the storyline and the feelings that [director Christopher Alden] wanted to portray. I felt I had to honor what he wanted. And we got on harmoniously from the start.

What kind of synergy is there between your costumes and Zaha’s sets?
I knew right from the beginning what Zaha was doing and I went to meetings at her office so I had an idea. But the main way they connect is that there is a sense of change—an element in transformation—in both my clothes and in the sets. Apart from that, it wasn’t like I wanted the clothes to look like an extension of the set or they wanted the set to look like an extension of the clothes.

Photo: Courtesy of Hussein Chalayan and Zaha Hadid 

Fendi’s Power Women Take on the Peekaboo


Fendi Peekaboo

If you had any doubts that Fendi was one of the coolest brands on the block, they should be laid to rest. The house behind some of the most whimsical, luxuriously irreverent takes on fur around (coats dripping 24-karat gold and fur-embellished buggie bag charms, anyone?) is now collaborating with one very formidable group of power women on a series of DIY-styled, ultra-customized bags. The Peekaboo project—launching with an online auction this Thursday beginning at 6 p.m. GMT and the opening of a new London Fendi store on Friday—enlists the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Tracey Emin, Cara Delevingne, Adele, Jerry Hall, Georgia May Jagger, Zaha Hadid, and more to add their takes to the house’s Peekaboo purse, with the guiding design of Silvia Venturini Fendi.

“The Peekaboo has always been associated with strong iconic women since its creation,” Venturini Fendi told of the bag, which was introduced for Spring ’09. “We loved the idea to involve women, each of them an icon in her own field of competence. Iconic women working on an iconic bag.” Each of the custom bags—which range from a simple white crocodile version by Paltrow to actress Naomie Harris’ leather satchel imprinted with a butterfly-covered map of Africa (a “message of love and freedom,” said Venturini Fendi)—will be auctioned off to benefit Kids Company, a charity providing support to more than 36,000 inner-city kids in London and Bristol. “We wanted to do something special and unique on the occasion of Fendi’s new boutique opening in New Bond Street,” explained Venturini Fendi. “On one side, we wanted to give back to the British community, and on the other, to celebrate the iconic Peekaboo bag, a bag that since its creation in 2008 was conceived for a total customization, and even more so now with the new MTO service available in the New Bond Street boutique.”

Fendi Peekaboo

“The main reason I was attracted to the project was because it was raising money for Kids Company, which I think is a fantastic charity,” related Adele, who created a rather cheeky take on this season’s Bag Bug Peekaboo. “The fact that I got to design a handbag was just an added bonus—I got quite carried away and could easily enjoy designing handbags forever.”

Architect Zaha Hadid saw the project as lending wings to her broader creative practice. “Designing these smaller pieces is of great importance to us, as they inspire our creativity, giving us an opportunity to express our ideas on a different scale and through a different media, while helping to raise awareness and funding for a wonderful cause that supports so many children in the U.K.,” she said.

“I really hope this joining forces between women—Fendi itself is also a company created by women for women, from my grandmother to my mother and aunts, now me and also my daughter—will bring amazing results and proceeds for the online auction to benefit Kids Company,” concluded Venturini Fendi. “We left [our collaborators] to express their own creativity without limits, and thanks to our amazing artisans, we were able to make their dreams become reality. Because at Fendi our motto is ‘Nothing is impossible.’”

Photos: Courtesy of Fendi 

The Brooklyn Museum’s Going Head Over Heels


LouboutinWe’re the first to admit that heels are a powerful thing. Each season we manage to add a few (or a dozen) must-have pairs to our overstuffed wardrobes. And why? Is it because heels are sexy? Flattering? Outfit-making? Or just fun to wear? The Brooklyn Museum will explore these questions (and many more) with its upcoming exhibition Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe. On view from September 10, the exhibit will feature 160 heels from as early as the 17th century to today. A main focus will be the sculptural, architectural, and artistic qualities of high heels, which range from the wearable to the avant-garde. On one end of the spectrum will be designs by household names like Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, Chanel, and Roger Vivier, on the other, conceptual styles by Iris van Herpen, Elsa Schiaparelli, Zaha Hadid, and many more.

Highlights from the exhibit include Marilyn Monroe’s Ferragamo stilettos from 1959; silk, metal, and glass mules by Vivier for House of Dior from 1960; Céline’s mink-covered pumps from Spring ’13; eight-inch platforms designed by Rem D. Koolhaas for Lady Gaga; and mind-bending 3-D-printed heels by Van Herpen.

In addition to the show, there will be a fully illustrated catalog with essays by Stefano Tonchi, Lisa Small, and Caroline Weber, as well as six short films inspired by high heels. The films were commissioned from artists including Steven Klein, Nick Knight, and Marilyn Minter. The full exhibition will also be traveling to other venues, which have yet to be announced.

Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe will run from September 10, 2014 through February 15, 2015 at the Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11238. For more information, visit

Photo: Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum 

Zaha Hadid Breaks The Mold Again


Chanel may have grounded Zaha Hadid’s Mobile Art Pod late last year, but one of the Pritzker Prize-winning architect’s most recent fashion collaborations, a jelly shoe for the Brazilian brand Melissa, has just landed in Brooklyn. “We’re the main destination for Melissa shoes in New York City, so our customers have been making the trek out to see the Zaha,” says Adele Berne, who co-owns the Carroll Gardens shop Epaulet with her fiancé, Michael Kuhle. “We’ve had a few customers, including several guys, buy them just to display in their home.” Berne assures us that despite some shoppers’ proclivities to collect them like art, Hadid’s curvy rubber shoes are actually quite comfortable. They’re waterproof and washable to boot, and we prefer them to her design for Lacoste. Epaulet is the only store in the U.S. currently selling the shoes, and they’re going fast.

Photo: Courtesy of Melissa

Orange County Gets A New Hermès


Beginning on Sunday, Hermès’ state-of-the-art transportable screening room, H BOX, touches down at the Orange County Museum of Art as part of the spring exhibition Moving Image: Scan to Screen, Pixel to Projection. With Chanel’s Zaha Hadid-designed Mobile Art Pod indefinitely grounded and Prada’s Rem Koolhaas-created Transformer still undergoing construction in Seoul, where it will remain, Didier Fiuza Faustino’s H BOX is your only chance to experience the gallery-as-art-phenomenon on American soil. As for the work inside of it, H BOX artistic director Benjamin Weil has selected videos by ten international artists, Matthew Buckingham and Cliff Evans included. First unveiled in Paris in 2007, the collapsible H BOX traveled through Europe and Japan before landing in California. It will make its home in the OC through September 6.

Photo: Marc Domage