France unveiled a spectacular near half-billion-euro (613-million-US-dollar) overhaul of one of its beloved buildings Monday, driving a new pedestrian boulevard through the Grand Palais in Paris to link the Champs Elysees with the River Seine.

Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen said the huge project will completely open up the enormous complex of galleries and exhibition spaces which also houses the city's Palace of Discoveries science museum. First built for the Exposition Universelle world fair in 1900, which helped cement the rise of the Art Nouveau movement, the giant glass vault of its main building has become a landmark of the city.

The new light-filled pedestrian street driven through the complex will allow visitors to enter it through a central concourse uniting the museum, the Grand Palais galleries which host blockbuster exhibitions and the main exhibition building, Nyssen said. She said the French state will fork out 288 million euros of the 466-million-euro budget.

The French fashion label Chanel, whose designer Karl Lagerfeld uses the Palais for his hugely theatrical shows, is donating 30 million euros towards the costs. In return, the original grand ornamental entrance to the Palais will be named after its founder Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel. The building will close completely for more than two years from the end of 2020 so that the work can be completed in time for the Paris Olympics in 2024, when it will host the fencing and Taekwondo events.

Nyssen said the complex is unwieldy, under-equipped and in need of serious renovation and in a "state which compromises its capacity to welcome the public and its long-term future." But that will all change thanks to the masterplan by Franco-Italian architects LAN (Local Architecture Network), which also envisages a new roof terrace with panoramic views over the French capital.

The new "street" through the complex -- baptised the "Rue des Palais" -- will be open to pedestrians and house ticket offices, cloakrooms and restaurants and end in a garden overlooking the Seine. The first parts of the remodelled complex will open in the early months of 2023, the architects said. (AFP)

A wardrobe staple, the t-shirt is being celebrated in a London exhibition as a master communication tool used to carry subversive and campaigning messages to the world.

"T-Shirt: Cult - Culture - Subversion" opens on Friday and runs to May 6 at London's Fashion and Textile Museum, where more than 100 t-shirts trace the impact it has had on popular culture and society in recent decades. "Since its earliest incarnation at the start of the 20th century, the t-shirt has served as a means to broadcast social, musical and political passions," the museum declared.

The humble t-shirt was introduced to the US Navy kit list in 1913, as a short-sleave white cotton undervest, but the term "t-shirt" didn't make it to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary until 1920. Gaining popularity through the decades, it hit the Hollywood big time in 1951 by clinging to the chest of actor Marlon Brandon in "A Streetcar Named Desire". But the t-shirt has also been harnessed for political and social campaigns, on everything from the environment to gay rights, as a simple tool able to be reproduced on a mass scale. "It's the kind of most democratic form of clothing, but also with the use of silkscreen you can reproduce messages over and over," said Dennis Nothdruft, head of exhibitions at the museum.

'God Save The Queen'

Punk fashion priestess Vivenne Westwood harnessed the t-shirt in 1977, printing an image created by artist Jamie Reid with "God Save The Queen" scrawled across a portrait of the British monarch. "The Queen is a sacred object in England, so just to do that was such a shock to the system," Nothdruft said. Westwood has continued to use t-shirts in her collections and catwalk shows, in 2012 printing her own portrait with "I am Julian Assange" written on it in reference to the WikiLeaks founder.

An image of cartoon Mickey Mouse in front of the cloud of an atom bomb was used in 1976 as a critique of US policies by artists John Dove and Molly White. The t-shirt was deemed "anti-American" by Disney, which according to the exhibition forced the designers to stop selling it. Other artists who have printed their views onto t-shirts include Keith Haring, the celebrated American street artist, who created the "Ignorance Fear, Silence = Death" image in 1990. It was designed for the organisation Act Up, as part of a campaign against homophobia and a lack of knowledge about AIDS.


The t-shirt shows no sign of falling out of fashion, with politically-charged messages such as artist Jeremy Deller's 2017 approach to Britain's departure from the European Union. He wrote "Don't worry, fuck Brexit," around a smiley face in matching yellow, combining with the blue background to match the colours of the EU flag. The exhibition also explores how the clothing is used by luxury brands such as Dior, which last year created a "We Should All Be Feminists" t-shirt using the title of a book by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Another exhibit -- "No More Page Three" -- brought the protest against topless models in The Sun tabloid to the heart of Britain's political establishment. MP Caroline Lucas wore the t-shirt to parliament in 2013, only to be told her clothing was not in line with regulations, according to the exhibition. She held up an image of one of the page three models, and replied: "It strikes me as an irony that this t-shirt is seen as offensive." (AFP)

Cos teams up with Phillip K. Smith III for Salone Del Mobile 2018

London - London-based design label Cos has teamed up with American artist Phillip K. Smith III for its seventh consecutive installation at the Salone del Mobile during Milan Design Week. The move marks Cos first collaboration with Smith, who is set to present a large-scale sculptural installation.

“My work is created in direct response to the surrounding environment, becoming a canvas that interacts with both the urban and natural landscape,” said Phillip K. Smith III on the installation. “I’m thrilled to partner with Cos to create this unique sculptural experience which will reframe the historic space.”

The installation is said to have been inspired by Italian Renaissance architecture, the Milanese sky and the simplicity of Cos design aesthetic. Smith III will create the site-specific outdoor sculpture in the 16th-century courtyard and garden of Palazzo Isimbardi, which has been designed to offer an individual experience to each visitor, through its interaction with light and time.

“At Cos, we have been inspired by the way Phillip K. Smith III’s installations interact with their natural surroundings allowing us to experience spaces in new ways, whether in deserts or on beaches, and are eager to see how his work responds to the environment of Milan,” said Karin Gustafsson, Creative Director of Cos in a statement. “It is from these experiences of art, which reshape the way we see the world around us, that we derive so much of our inspiration at Cos.”

The installation will be open to the public from April 17 to 22 at the Palazzo Isimbardi, Corso Monforte 35 in Milan. Cos has presented unique and innovative collaborations with artists, designers and architects in Milan during Salone del Mobile since 2012. Past collaborators include Gary Card, Bonsoir Paris, Nendo, Snarkitecture, and Sou Fujimoto.

Photo: Courtesy of Cos

Haider Ackermann named new jury president of Hyères festival

Haider Ackermann has been named the new jury president of the Hyères International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Fashion Accessories. Other members of the prize juries and their respective presidents, as well as the finalists competing in the different categories have also been announced. The Fashion Prize jury will be presided over by Haider Ackermann, the Creative Director of LVMH-owned maison Berluti.

LVMH is a sponsor of the event, underscoring the Group’s engagement with the values of creativity and excellence, two essential criteria in selecting the talents and finalists for the festival, which is set for April 26-30.

About the Hyères festival

Every spring in the South of France, the Festival spotlights young promising artists in the fields of fashion, accessories and photography.

The festival proposes diverse exhibitions, professional panel discussions and three competitions. The competitions showcase 10 fashion designers, 10 accessories designers and 10 photographers selected by a jury of professionals in each field. The work of the chosen candidates is presented to the jury and the public in either fashion shows (designers) or group exhibitions (accessories designers, photographers).

Photo credit:Hyènes official website

Li Edelkoort on the opening of her art gallery in Paris

INTERVIEW Lidewij Edelkoort presented her new art gallery to the industry on Thursday 18 January at 30 Boulevard de Saint Jacques in Paris. The inaugurating exhibition in the new gallery, named "The Gift To Be Simple”, highlighted five young designers developing in the area between the vintage and the modern. Although the concept is new, the address itself has become unavoidable for several years - it is in fact the venue which houses the fashion agency that Lidewij Edelkoort founded in 1975.

Over the years, Edelkoort has established herself as a fashion and trend forecaster. She is one of the most influential people in fashion, according to Time Magazine. In honour of the inauguration of her design and art gallery, FashionUnited asked her a number of questions concerning the state of fashion and current trends.

Li Edelkoort on the opening of her art gallery in Paris

How did the idea for this art gallery come about?

I already had a painting studio in the 1980s situated very close to the premises of Colette, which did not yet exist. Rue Saint Honoré was undeveloped at the time. I set up this painting gallery in my apartment over several years. It was very popular and very successful; a lot of people came to it. The previews were real parties. After I was forced to move, I dedicated my life to many other things. For a long time I told myself that this place (30 Boulevard de Saint Jacques,) would be fantastic for design and, since there are lots of design exhibitions elsewhere, why not do that here also and why not do something entertaining in Paris and bring something back into the cultural life of Paris.

Li Edelkoort on the opening of her art gallery in Paris

How do you choose the exhibitors?

By impulse, my knowledge, the trends. Clearly my eye is honed by trends, and I always come across things in the search for new ideas. There will be a little of everything, textiles, design, fashion, there are even toys and vintage things. But it will still be different, there are no rules. We are not going to push you in just one direction; we will be open in our choices. Clearly I will prmote young talent as that is part of my work. When my eye discovers a young talent, it always works and is therefore a good springboard for their careers. There will not be only exhibitions; we want to have meetings and discussions, and this place will allow us to progress together.

You live and work in Paris. What does the city mean to you?

I have lived in Paris since I was 25 years old, and have therefore spent the greater part of my life here. I feel Parisian, not of old lineage, but still Parisian. Paris is my town. I love the beauty of the city, I love the fact that there is a lot of art; I love the size of Paris; you can be anonymous here. I come from a small country, the Netherlands, where it is easy to know everyone. Here, things are more discreet. I particularly like the fact that France does not take rapid strides into novelty; there is a sense of traditions here which rescues us from the folly of modernity.

Li Edelkoort on the opening of her art gallery in Paris

What is your opinion about current fashion?

It’s a long argument. It is still about clothing; there has still not been any change and I don’t think there will be any for the time being. I think that we are in the status quo; people are looking for something. There are lots of signs that indicate that a new way will be found. Here in Paris, there are loads of new initiatives that are very promising. But more time is needed before that can become an actual reality. That is why we are organising the “Anti-Fashion” meetings in Marseille over three days at the beginning of June. People can come free of charge; we will listen to the views of these people who are working to change things.

As an influential woman, what are your thoughts about the rise of feminism and the hashtags #metoo, #balancetonporc that are currently making the news?

I predicted all that two or three years ago. When I saw thousands of women in the street, I was once again surprised by the force of trends and the intuition that allowed me to predict it. It is a necessary movement. It is the start of a reassessment. I think that women’s very way of seeing things needs to be examined; they need to be freed from the inside, from their paternalistic links, of all the models that no longer function in today’s society. I think that there are other ways to live together as a society, and we really need to move the debate along.

You dedicate the trends, you are an influencer, but what inspires you?

It can come from everything and anything. There is no specific area of research or key moments. It could be a word, a feeling, a person… But it is true that inspiration very often comes to me through words. One word has an effect on me and I feel a suggestion for the way forward, so I begin to carry out research in that area. I am guided by intuition, and I simply follow it. I think that in a way I was chosen for this profession.

This article was previously published on fashionunited.fr

Photo : Edelkoort.com, FashionUnited

Paris show pays homage to 'eternal style' of late designer Alaia

Two months after legendary designer Azzedine Alaia's sudden death plunged the fashion world into mourning, an exhibition in homage to the "King of Cling" opens Monday in his studios in Paris. The Tunisian-born designer, renowned for the way his clothes hugged the body, died suddenly in November aged 82, reportedly of heart failure after falling down the stairs at his home. The diminutive maverick, who ignored fashion week convention by showing when and where he wanted, in July produced his first couture collection in six years to rapturous reviews.

Now some of his most iconic dresses are going on display in the glass-roofed gallery next to his studio and home in the Marais district where he used to show his creations. It includes the dress worn by supermodel Naomi Campbell, his longtime friend and muse, when she led his last collection down the catwalk. The pair were so close Campbell called the designer "Papa", and she was inconsolable at his funeral in Tunis.

Alaia studied to be a sculptor and used his fine art training to sculpt with needle and thread. Fashion historian Olivier Saillard, who has curated the show which runs until June, said Alaia's famously flattering cut was timeless. To hammer the point home, none of the dresses in "Azzedine Alaia: I am a Couturier" have a panel explaining when they were made. "I defy anyone to distinguish between a dress made in 1981, 1995 or 2017," he told AFP. Instead curious visitors must consult a catalogue at the door.

'Last of the couturiers'

Saillard described Alaia as the "last of the couturiers", capable of doing everything himself and making his mastery invisible. "Like Balenciaga and all those who knew how to cut and sew, he moved further and further away from making an obvious show of his brilliant technique." He said his clothes "didn't shout, there was nothing bling about them", instead he went for an eternal style that never went out of fashion. Almost all the dresses in the show -- including ones he made for pop star and actress Grace Jones -- are in black or white. "Alaia used to say that you can make an idea more precise in black and not dilute it," Saillard said.

The famous hooded dress he made for Jones and the fire brigade-red zip one he created for pop superstar Rihanna are among the 41 classic dresses on display. Although his private life was always a mystery, the designer kept an open house in Paris during fashion weeks as celebrities rubbed shoulders with students and waifs and strays at his large kitchen table where he cooked for all comers.

Alaia moved to Paris at the height of the Algerian war of independence, where he soon got a job with Christian Dior, only to be let go because he did not have the right immigration papers. Despite the setback, he moved on to work with Guy Laroche and Thierry Mugler before going out on his own with his own wealthy clientele. A foundation has now been created to safeguard his work, and will also hold regular exhibitions from his vast personal collection of couture. A retrospective of his work, "Azzedine Alaia, The Couturier", will open at the Design Museum in London in May, when his brand will also open its first British boutique. (AFP)

Photo credit: 1 - Azzedine Alaia, Alaia.fr
Contested Versace murder drama hits US television

Dismissed as "fiction" by the Versace family and met with mixed reviews, a controversial new drama depicting the 1997 murder of Gianni Versace makes its US television debut Wednesday.

"The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story" is the second edition of a crime story franchise whose first iteration won rave reviews and a bevy of awards for revisiting the 1995 O.J. Simpson murder trial.

The latest nine-episode series begins airing on television network FX late Wednesday, before being released on demand in Europe later this week. Like "The People vs. O.J. Simpson," which won two Golden Globes and nine Emmy Awards, "The Assassination of Gianni Versace" is a 1990s celebrity crime story, uniting fame and wealth with the darker underbelly of human nature.

Like "The People," which spun a larger narrative of racial tension between black and white Americans, "The Assassination" paints a wider portrait of gay life in America in the 1990s, prejudice, hostility and bigotry.

Versace is played by Venezuelan heartthrob Edgar Ramirez, Oscar-winner Penelope Cruz is Donatella -- the hard-headed sister who took over the label after her brother's death -- and singer Ricky Martin is Versace's long-term boyfriend, Antonio D'Amico.

But publicity in the run-up to its release has been dominated by the Versace family, who released an angry statement from their global fashion emporium in Milan on January 10.

They slammed the series as a "work of fiction," saying they had "neither authorized nor had any involvement whatsoever in the forthcoming TV series" and reacted with particular fury to claims that Versace was HIV-positive. "After so many years we still lack respect for the dead, we want to create a scandal around someone who can no longer defend themselves," said Donatella.

D'Amico, who found Versace on the steps of his beachfront Miami mansion just moments after the July 15, 1997 killing, has complained that images he had seen online of his reaction in the series are incorrect.

"The picture of Ricky Martin holding the body in his arms is ridiculous," he told the Observer newspaper last July. "Maybe it's the director's poetic license, but that is not how I reacted."

'Love and respect'

"Its responsibility may be to just be true enough. But there's something tragic and unfair about becoming a spectacle in death, especially in a spectacle that's more about a murderer than any of his victims," griped a New York Times review.

The series is based on the book "Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace and the Largest Failed Manhunt in US History," by Maureen Orth, which was published two years after the killing and retraces Cunanan's three-month murder spree.

As such, the drama is centered less on the Italian fashion genius and more on spree killer, social climber and compulsive liar Andrew Cunanan, who murdered four other gay men before killing Versace. His motives remain shrouded in mystery.

Murdering men from San Diego to Miami, Cunanan was on America's list of top 10 most wanted criminals for more than a month before the Versace murder. Cunanan -- portrayed by actor Darren Criss -- comes across as an enigma, at times brilliant and charming but also narcissistic and violent. He committed suicide, aged 27, a few days after assassinating 50-year-old Versace.

The 1990s were a time when living openly as a gay man was still met with prejudice and bigotry in the United States, 18 years before the US Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is a legal right.

Orth suggests in her book that the lackluster investigation into Cunanan's murders stemmed at least in part from the fact that the victims were gay. At least some filming took place in Versace's Miami home, which is today a boutique hotel where rooms can cost in excess of 1,000 dollars a night.

Cruz, whose performance has excited critics -- and who has worn Versace on the red carpet -- said she won Donatella's tacit blessing before accepting the role. "If somebody was going to do it, she was really happy that it was me, because I think she knows what I feel for her," she told US chat show host Ellen DeGeneres.

"They're the most generous, kind people. It's important for me that when she sees what I've done, she can feel the love and respect that I have put there," she said. (AFP)

Photo: FX Promotional poster The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story

In Pictures: ‘Mary, Queen of Prints’, solo exhibition of Mary Katrantzou

London - A new exhibition exploring the innovative designs and use of print by London-based designer Mary Katrantzou has opened in the Dallas Contemporary. Entitled Mary, Queen of Prints the solo exhibition marks the first time the designer's previous collections are displayed under one roof and coincides with the 10 year anniversary of Katrantzou’s namesake brand.

In Pictures: ‘Mary, Queen of Prints’, solo exhibition of Mary Katrantzou

The exhibition, curated by Museum Director Peter Doroshenko and Director of Exhibitions Justine Ludwig, consists of 200 designs from Katrantzou, as well as accessories, textiles, and sketches from the designer. The items on display showcase Katrantzou’s numerous sources of inspiration, ranging from the pages of Architectural Digest to Fantasia. The garments shown also offer visitors a closer look at the designer’s inventive tailoring and techniques, while celebrating her unique take on fashion.

In Pictures: ‘Mary, Queen of Prints’, solo exhibition of Mary Katrantzou

Dallas Contemporary hosts debut solo exhibition on Mary Katrantzou

“Print can be as definitive as a cut or a drape and allows a woman to filter beauty found in design, in a subversive way,” said Mart Katrantzou on her work. “All my prints are constructed through digital technology. Digital print allows me to experiment with print in a way that fine art and other methods could not. It opens up a huge spectrum for possibility; I can create possibility out of impossibility, surrealism out of realism and both vice versa.”

In Pictures: ‘Mary, Queen of Prints’, solo exhibition of Mary Katrantzou

The solo exhibition is organised through colour groupings instead of chronologically, as the designer’s use of colour has remained central to her aesthetic since the launch of her brand. Together, the garments shown in Mary, Queen of Prints create a prismatic field of colour within the Dallas Contemporary space. The exhibition runs from January 14 to March 4, 2018.

In Pictures: ‘Mary, Queen of Prints’, solo exhibition of Mary Katrantzou

Born in Athens, Greece, Katrantzou studied architecture at Rhode Island School of Design and graduated with a BA in Textile design and an MA in Fashion from Central Saint Martins. Her famous graduation show in 2008, which featured trompe l’oeil prints of oversized jewellery on jersey-bonded dresses, took the industry by storm. Following her graduation show, Katrantzou established her namesake brand, which was immediately secured by a number of stockists such as Browns, Colette and Joyce.

In Pictures: ‘Mary, Queen of Prints’, solo exhibition of Mary KatrantzouIn Pictures: ‘Mary, Queen of Prints’, solo exhibition of Mary KatrantzouIn Pictures: ‘Mary, Queen of Prints’, solo exhibition of Mary KatrantzouIn Pictures: ‘Mary, Queen of Prints’, solo exhibition of Mary KatrantzouIn Pictures: ‘Mary, Queen of Prints’, solo exhibition of Mary KatrantzouIn Pictures: ‘Mary, Queen of Prints’, solo exhibition of Mary Katrantzou

She now boasts more than 100 premium stockists, ranging from Selfridges, Matchesfashion.com, Saks and Harrods.

Photos: Courtesy of Dallas Contemporary

Viktor & Rolf co-curate retrospective: 'Viktor & Rolf: Fashion Artists 25 Years'

The Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, is set to open a new fashion exhibition this summer in honor of the 25th anniversary of Dutch designer duo Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren, also known as Viktor & Rolf. Entitled 'Viktor & Rolf: Fashion Artists 25 Years' the new exhibition, put together by the Amsterdam-based designers themselves and Canadian curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot, aims to explore the different areas of inspiration in the designers' world.

The exhibition will present the luxury fashion house's radical conception of 'wearable art' while looking at the numerous areas that make their designs unique in the contemporary fashion world. "With exquisite craftsmanship and dreamy silhouettes, sometimes made from tinkling bells or red carpet, the fashion artists Viktor & Rolf – a real Dutch national treasure – have been creating wearable art for the past twenty-five years in the most unique and singular style," said Thierry-Maxime Loriot, curator of the exhibition.

Set to run from May 27 to September 30, 2018, the exhibition will display a number of the most spectacular and avant-garde creations from the designers haute couture work. Over 45 pieces from the designers' collections, ranging from stage costumes created for ballet and opera to designs from Viktor & Rolf's archive and international museum collections will be shown.

"After the success of our retrospective exhibition in Melbourne, we are proud that it will now be traveling to the Kunsthal Rotterdam," said Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren in a joint statement. "Apart from showing our work on the catwalk, we also enjoy presenting it as an exhibition. In this way, everyone can see it, not just that handful of people attending the shows in Paris."

In addition, the 'Viktor & Rolf: Fashion Artists 25 Years' exhibition will include a selection of Viktor & Rolf's work-in-progress "Dolls": replicas of antique dolls dressed in the designers' most iconic looks as well as special pieces from their newest collections ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ and ‘Action Dolls’, which have never been displayed before.

"The Kunsthal and Viktor & Rolf are exactly the same age. It is therefore not surprising that the two coinciding 25th anniversaries have led to this unique collaboration that perfectly matches our programming," said Emily Ansenk, Director Kunsthal. "This retrospective of the first 25 years of Viktor&Rolf stems from a great admiration for their experimental designs that are continuously exploring the boundaries between art and fashion. It offers us an extraordinary opportunity to experience the unconventional creativity of this innovative fashion duo."

The 'Viktor & Rolf: Fashion Artists 25 Years' exhibition is based on the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne exhibition.

Photo credit: Viktor& Rolf by Inez & Vinoodh, 2015 ​

Trend forecaster Edelkoort to open design space to showcase talents

Trend forecaster Lidewij Edelkoort will open a public design gallery from Jan. 18 at her headquarters in Paris.

The space at 30 Boulevard Saint-Jacques will show design as well as arts and crafts: “everything that in my eyes deserves to be shown, collected and cherished at this moment in time, illustrating and reflecting our culture,” said a statement on the website of the trend forecaster. Brands and organizations close to Edelkoort's philosophy will be promoted at the gallery and creators of sustainable products.

The gallery will host events such as public debates, fashion shows and a pop-up shop of Heartwear, a nonprofit brand created by Lidewij and fashion designers to help artisans produce on a larger scale without comprising their culture and environment they live in.

Portrait Lidewij Edelkoort: Thirza Schaap via Appletizer