Wednesday, February 17, 2010

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Alice in Wonderland (and everywhere else!)


One of my favorite stories of all times is Alice in Wonderland. While the original story was published by Lewis Carroll in 1865 and the animated film, which I watched over and over as a child, was produced by Walt Disney and released almost 90 years after the book’s publication in 1951. It still fascinates me to see how Alice has influenced fashion, art and even décor. I was elated when I learned almost a year ago that Tim Burton was directing a new version of Alice with the most amazing dream cast! I can’t wait to see Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter or the unbelievably-talented Helena Bonham Carter as the Queen of Hearts.

Some of the artwork used by Disney to promote Tim Burton's Alice

I could go on forever about Alice’s magic and influence, but I can’t get the idea of checkerboard floors out of my mind. It is a recurring theme in my design dreams—an appealing palette of contrasting colors, the dark-magic gothic vibe of the Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel, some of the amazing works of German photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten, not to mention a fashion editorial shot by Annie Leibovitz in Vogue circa 2003, starring Natalia Vodianova as Alice and some of the best designers of our time as the characters surrounding her, including Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs, Donatella Versace and John Galliano as one of the best Queen of Hearts I ever saw.

The lobby at the Gramercy Park Hotel (designed by Julian Schnabel)

The Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel

Images from British designer's Abigail Ahern's home (she says she's also been influenced by Alice)

Vodianova as Alice and Galliano as the Queen of Hearts, pure genius!

With Marc Jacobs

To celebrate the release of the new Alice, lots of designers are getting in on the act. Stella McCartney, Tom Binns and Swarovski have come up with cool costume jewelry and dazzling baubles for the spring. Opi has launched a line of new nail polish colors with names such as Thanks So Muchness! And Off with Her Red! and even Urban Decay has created a shadow palette all inspired in Alice. In Paris, the windows of Printemps are dedicated to and inspired by all things Alice and Bloomingdale’s flagship store on 59th street will be featuring Alice in Wonderland exhibits and window displays in March. But, this would all be nonsense without the images that I’ve put together for you, and, no, we are not all mad here!


Julia Fullerton-Batten's Milk Bottle (2005)
Tom Binn for Walt Disney Signature: hematite chains, ruby pearls, light amethyst, swarovski crystals, and gold safety pins

Stella McCartney's bracelet and necklace. Hand made in Italy: brass and aluminium light gold anthracite chain and plexi Alice charms.

One of the fabulous windows at Printemps (clothes by Manish Arora)

The shoes that Nicholas Kirkwood designed for the window display at Printemps


Monday, February 8, 2010

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THE GENIUS OF VIK MUNIZ

Vik's self portrait created with circular paper remnants

Art critics, curators, gallerists and just plain fans can spend hours writing about this brilliant Brazilian artist who lives in Brooklyn and whose name is Vik Muniz. I love Vik, collect him, and truly believe that he is one of the greatest contemporary artists of the 21st century.

"Mass" -Created with chocolate syrup

Upon seeing his work for the first time, I realized I had to own one of his pieces. I was captivated by his originality, uniqueness, the beauty and the passion in his work, and immediately became a fan, a follower and a collector.

 Orphan Girl at the Cemetery, after Delacroix, from the Gordian Puzzles series

Each series of photographs usually consists of six images and an artist’s proof, and they are usually produced in two different sizes. The subject matter of Muniz’s work is compelling. The story and rationale behind the photographs is as interesting as the images themselves. For example, Vik takes a photo of a child from the island of St. Kitts and with the amazing technique that he has developed throughout the years, he copies –in a magnificent way- the same image but with sugar sprinkled over the paper. Take for instance, a kid roaming the streets of Sao Paulo whose picture Vik has copied employing the urban waste that’s been left on the floor after the festivities of the Brazilian carnival take place. Or, he can be inspired by an old master’s work (say the Van Gogh Sunflowers or the Medusa by Caravaggio) and create a whole different setting (and series) with pigments, diamonds, caviar, toys (my favorite series and which he calls “Rebus”) or tiny pieces of paper, or junk-- even chocolate syrup. Vik can put it all together in one of his studios (he has one in Brooklyn and one in Rio) and photograph the composition with a special camera and a special lens, sometimes even from a considerable height for yet another perspective.

Diana and Endymion (Detail), after Francesco Mola.  This one is made of junk!

Vik Muniz’s technique is flawless; his images are beautiful, colorful and crystal clear. His studio people work really hard at making sure that the end product delivered to collectors, galleries and museums is impeccable. Let me delight my eyes and yours with images of his work. Enjoy!

Mona Lisa - Created with chocolate syrup and peanut butter

The Shoeshine Boy (after Lewis Hine) from the "Rebus" series, made with toys

Ava Gardner, made with diamonds

Jacqueline (inspired by Picasso) made with pigments

Socrates (this is the kid who roamed the streets of Sao Paulo) made with the waste left on the floor after the Brazilian carnival.  Pure genius.