Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Isabella Blow

From Autumn 2013, Somerset House in London will hold Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!, a major fashion exhibition celebrating the extraordinary life and wardrobe of the late British patron of fashion and art. More details here. We can't wait to see it!

Friday, 21 June 2013

My Fair Lady (1964) Royal Ascot costumes

As the Royal Ascot season has begun, the hats are back again for a moment as a centrepiece of attention. Sadly enough, a grand format of the attire that set a golden age of the Royal Ascot had been narrowed down to the mere necessity, required by the dress code of this famous venue. As a reminder of the bygone glamour, a hallmark of this racecourse, we present you the set of caps of Royal Ascot costumes from "My Fair Lady" (starring Audrey Hepburn), brilliantly designed by Cecil Beaton, as a tribute to the times when fashion was larger than life.

The Royal Ascot is one of Europe's most famous race meetings, and dates back to 1711 when it was founded by Queen Anne. Every year Royal Ascot is attended by members of the British Royal Family, arriving each day in a horse-drawn carriage with the Royal procession taking place at the start of each race day and the raising of the Queen's Royal Standard. It is a major event in the British social calendar, and press coverage of the attendees and what they are wearing often exceeds coverage of the actual racing. The dress code is strictly enforced. For women, only a day dress with a hat is acceptable, with rules applying to the length and style of the dress. In addition, women must not show bare midriffs or shoulders. For men, black or grey morning dress with top hat is required.


"How do you do?"

An original concept art of the set design and costumes from the movie.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)

"Snow White and the Huntsman" is a true feast for the eyes. We all love the way it tackles the preconception of clarified distinction between beauty and evil. As the story itself is known to every human being, the only true display of creativity in regards to the production could be (and was indeed) shown throughout the brilliance of the art direction. 

Yet again, a three times Oscar-winner Colleen Atwood proved her position as one of the most remarkable couturiers-on-set. Her designs represent the psyche of each character scrupulously conveyed into every detail. For instance, in Queen Ravenna's case, this symbolism was achieved by the use of the materials like beetle wings, branches that resemble porcupine spikes, dragon scale alike sequins and rooster feathers. One of the most difficult costumes to make was the feather cloak, as it took four weeks to hand-cut and mount each of the feather to the garment. But beside the haute quality of every design, there's also the matter of quantity:

We made 250 of the Warrior Costume. That one [Snow White] was 20. The Huntsman was about 15. The Wedding dress was a one off. There were three of the gold dress. There were two of the cape, one of which got totally oil slicked out. It looks cool but it’s kind of destroyed. It’s a one off because she wears it for a very short time in the movie. And there’s three of the Reptilian costume because it’s an action costume as well. All the pieces of that come off so you can shoot without the heavy skirt if you want it to be less weight. The shoulder pieces come off so that in between takes Charlize (Theron) can be comfortable in it but it’s also got stretch in it. That dress has huge stretch arm pits in it. There are all kinds of things like that incorporated into it if you know you’re going to [use it that way].

The fairest design of them all, however, might be Charlize Theron’s wedding gown, worn during Ravenna’s royal union to Snow White’s father, the ill-fated king. “The inspiration was more architectural” Atwood says of the severely corseted dress. “The sleeves were made out of parchment that was cut and manipulated into a caged skeleton. It was our way of telegraphing [the queen’s] evil edge. All of the fine embroidered details are actually leather. I really wanted it to not be a fluffy wedding dress. I wanted it to have an edge to it, and that’s why I decided to go with pleats.” Although Sanders offered input about Atwood’s designs, the Oscar winner reveals that this particular costume rendered the director speechless. “He didn’t have a lot to say when he saw this one,” laughed Atwood. “It had the ‘wow’ factor for him. We could tell in early stages that this design would just work.”

In terms of set design and direction, the strong emphasis on the aesthetically driven scenery makes the movie visually compelling, conveying every scene into little independent art piece. While watching it we couldn't stop thinking of the immerse and extensive research behind it all, executed during the creative process; these loads of perfectly calibrated mood boards, visually describing the exact feeling behind every character, costume, set and scene. 

Also, there's a treat for the connoisseurs of the post production. The most marvelous end credits sequence you've ever seen, directed by Henry Hobson. The overall feeling of the movie conveyed into dimly lit trace of the costumes' details accompanied by The Florence and the Machine song "Breath of Life". Who knew the end credits sequence had that much of an artistic potential!

Snow White & the Huntsman - End Titles Sequence - Henry Hobson from bootsmith on Vimeo.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Nicola Samori's Paintings

La Storia, 2009

Italian artist, Nicola Samori, depicts the subject of deconstruction of beauty, framed in dark, post-modern grotesque. Her haunting baroque style paintings are situated in a somewhat surreal past tense. The subjects are like echos of their former selves, any distinguishing features are blurred or melting away as if they are torn between two worlds. The feeling of combined daunt and mystery makes them particularly interesting. We would love to see these on the walls of some creepy chateau!

My works are planes of temporal accumulation and push the image towards its dissolution. My attention is focused on the last moments of a work when a form of exhausted, at-the-limit beauty is impressed in it. I like taking the image to a breaking point, putting its form into danger.

We find it comforting to see there are still some interesting painters out there; in times overruled by photography, works like these makes us hope for the better future of paintings in whole, as an art form.

L’oro galleggia, 2011

Ogni Estasi è Indecente, 2011

Hans Holbein – écorché (estasi), 2010

J.R.S.G. (del nascondimento), 2010

Simonia (Gambassi), 2008

J.V., 2009

Simonia (S.G.M.), 2008

Lucrezia, 2010

Rapture, 2010

Manto minimo, 2011