From the very beginning, Olivier Theyskens has been acknowledged as one of the most idiosyncratic voices of contemporary fashion design. He started his own line at the age of 20, then creating costumes for the leading opera house in his native Belgium, the Théâtre de la Monnaie. In 2002, he became creative director of Rochas and, in 2006, of Nina Ricci. At Rochas, he was recognised as one of the most theatrical designers working in fashion. Since 2011, his career has taken a new direction, as he now serves as designer of Theyskens’ Theory and artistic director of Theory, and adapts his vision to the stream of contemporary life.
Theyskens’ designs often explored the juxtaposition between frailty and strength - his S/S 1999 collection was based mainly around a monochrome colour palette, and materials used included black leather, sheer latex and delicate organza. Whilst some looks were more traditional in their aesthetic, Theyskens’ preferred to shock, sending out masked models in rubber bodysuits and aggressive black gowns. The imagery for the collection was extremely distinctive and is said to have inspired later collections by icons such as Alexander McQueen - there are several similarities between the two designers, such as their penchant for gothic imagery and dramatic silhouettes. There is also an element of the grotesque to some of the looks - one of the most striking examples is of a model whose face is almost entirely obscured by black bird feathers attached to her black bodice, giving the impression that she is being devoured by crows.
Theysken’s next collection (A/W 1999) maintained the designer’s creepy aesthetic - once again, darkness was the overarching theme of the collection, but this time the garments themselves were more androgynous, contrasting strong black fabrics with glimpses of exposed flesh. As the show progressed, the headwear also became more dramatic - for the first few looks, headwear started as a few wisps of black fabric cascading down one side of the face, whereas later on in the collection models saw their skulls enveloped by heavy black veils. The clothes themselves continued to increase in proportion until the final two looks saw models literally draped in exaggerated folds of fabric which completely drowned the models’ body, providing a memorable end to a memorable show.
Although Theyskens’ has forged a successful career in his own right (he has worked for Rochas, Nina Ricci and was recently appointed head of fashion label Theory), it is interesting to think how huge he could have been had there been continued support for his eponymous label. In just a few collections Theyskens managed to incorporate drama, symbolism, a strong aesthetic and incredible clothes, not to mention iconic editorials for art magazines such as Visionnaire. Although he has maintained a cult following and a level of professional success, it remains one of fashion’s greatest tragedies that Theyskens is not a household name.
Universal fact: Any black and white photo is bound to be 100% creepier than any color photo. Something about the lackluster and retrospect makes it haunting. That is was real and eerier things occurred. Here’s an archive of past do-it-yourself Halloween costumes between the 1930s-1960s. Let’s agree that Halloween in the baby boom age was a lot mortifying than today.
Not only is the film stock inherently spine-chilling, the costumes are scarier than anything a horror director could dream of.
According to Bloomberg, “The Fashion Industry employees 180K people of the work force in NYC”. But let’s be real, about 15% of the Lynn Yaegers and the Alexander Wangs actually make a salary. 45% of writers, merchandizers, interns, photographers, models, makeup artists, hair stylists, wardrobe stylists, creative directors, and PR agents are unpaid or are scratching the bottom of the barrel. And 40% are also unpaid Kent State University drop out bratty bloggers that hang out at Canoe Studios scrapping last night’s left over coke out of their nostrils that take daily instagram #OOTD selfies of their $50,000 outfits. Do you get it now? So those who contributed in fashion and struggled to make ends meet like I had, we know very well, fashion today doesn’t bring a dime to New York, because someone is paying Kanye West to sit front row at Oscar de la Renta when we could have paid mom and pop fabric shops that’s been providing the textiles to New York based companies for 40 years.
For the hoards of Wes Anderson fans out there (this includes myself) who were anticipating the trailer for his upcoming “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” you can now watch it! We want to spend the weekend reading the new Wes Anderson Collection book and marathoning all his films, but we already did that last weekend…
The picturesque canals of Venice, California, are one of the seaside community’s hidden charms, secreted away from the hustle and bustle of the famous boardwalk. But in Venice’s early years, the canals that survive today — restored in the 1990s after decades of neglect — were only a sideshow. The main attraction — the original canals of Abbot Kinney’s Venice of America — are lost to history, long ago filled in and now disguised as residential streets.
In planning Venice of America, cigarette baron Abbot Kinney incorporated several references to the community’s Mediterranean namesake, from the Italianate architecture to his fanciful notion of launching a cultural renaissance there. But Venice of America would not have lived up to its name were it not for its canals.
When it opened on July 4, 1905, Venice of America boasted seven distinct canals arranged in an irregular grid pattern, as seen below in Kinney’s master plan for the community, preserved today in the Los Angeles Public Library Map Collection. Totaling nearly two miles and dredged out of former saltwater marshlands, the canals encircled four islands, including the tiny triangular United States Island. The widest of them, the appropriately named Grand Canal, terminated at a large saltwater bathing lake. Three of the smaller canals referred to heavenly bodies: Aldebaran, Venus, and Altair.
Though their primary role was to evoke the old world charm of Venice, Italy, the canals also functioned as part of Kinney’s transportation plan for the development. In 1905, the automobile was not yet ascendant, and so Kinney laid out Venice of America at the pedestrian’s scale. Visitors would arrive by interurban streetcar or steam railroad and once there could reach the entire community and its various amusements by footpath. The canals — as well as a miniature railroad that circled the development — provided an alternative to walking. Gondoliers rowed tourists through the canals for a fee, serenading their passengers in Italian, while homeowners navigated the system of waterways by canoe or boat.
Meanwhile, a second set of canals soon appeared just south of Kinney’s. Linking up with the existing network through the Grand Canal, these Short Line canals (named after the interurban Venice Short Line) were apparently built to capitalize on the success of Kinney’s development. Their origins are uncertain, but work started soon after Venice of America’s 1905 grand opening, and by 1910 real estate promoters Strong & Dickinson and Robert Marsh were selling lots in what they named the Venice Canal Subdivision. Built almost as an afterthought, these six watercourses are the only Venice canals that survive today.
The original Venice of America canals helped make Kinney’s real estate development a success. Lots fronting the canals became a favorite choice for owners of the local amusement concerns or out-of-town tourists looking for a place to pitch a summer cottage. But by the 1920s, the canals had become seen as an obstacle to progress. Many visitors were now arriving by automobile, but Venice offered scarce parking, and its streets were designed for pedestrians, not motorcars. In the eyes of business owners and city leaders, the canals looked like an opportunity to open up their community to the automobile.
In 1924, the city of Venice — then still an independent municipality — resolved to adapt its transportation infrastructure for the automobile age. The two Pacific Electric trolleyways running through the city would be widened and paved — today they’re appropriately named Pacific and Electric avenues — and the canals would be filled in and converted into public roads.
Residents resisted the move. Those who lived along the canals worried that their homes would lose their waterfront appeal, and many in the community questioned the logic of a city with the name of Venice but no canals. Most importantly, property owners rebelled against a special assessment that would be levied on their holdings to finance the conversion.
Litigation lasted four years. By the time the court battles were finally resolved in the city’s favor, Venice had consolidated with Los Angeles. On July 1, 1929, as dump trucks deposited their first loads of dirt into Coral Canal, public officials held a special ceremony. Governor C. C. Young, the Venice Vanguard reported, “congratulated Venice on her foresight in sacrificing sentiment to progress.”
By the end of the year, Venice’s original canals had been filled in and paved over. (The six canals built to the south of Venice of America were spared, as the area was insufficiently populated to levy the necessary property assessment.) The former swimming lake became a traffic circle, and little evidence remains today of the roads’ former lives as saltwater canals. Even the names were changed. Aldebaran Canal became Market Street; Coral Canal, Main Street; Venus Canal, San Juan Avenue; Lion Canal, Windward Avenue. Only Grand Canal retained its former name, becoming Grand Avenue.
Jean Paul Gaultier Fall/Winter 1999