Cowardly counts, devious debutantes, and gangrenous greed!

YESTERDAY’s Daily Mail nonsense about Princess Margaret, rubbish so last century it is surely designed to draw attention from the real villains now appearing on Netflix in The Crown: pernicious politicians, cowardly counts, precious princes, quivering queen-mothers, philandering presidents and the rest.

Linley

Margaret, the Queen’s younger sister who died in 2002, was a delightful approachable person. When I met her it was around the time this photograph was taken.

 

I’ve chosen this image because the story she told me included both her children, David Viscount Linley  and Lady Sarah Chatto. Princess Margaret was visiting a Haberberdashers Aske school in Bunbury, Cheshire and I was reporting it for the Liverpool Daily Post.

 

Unless she had been an accomplished diplomat and unpretentiously egalitarian the visit would have been an embarrassment on more than one front.  As she arrived a teaching member of staff, lined up to greet her, decided to make public a grudge against her employers. The princess listened, in slight astonishment, to what the disgruntled woman had to say. Without a pause she calmly came up with the perfectly reasonable question, sure to take the sting out of the tale,”Have you talked to anyone about it?”

 

We moved on into a science lesson with students experimenting with static electricity. Everyone was wired up and over anxious. HRH, working outside her regal brief, included us in a detail from precious moments in her own life. She explained how her own children enjoyed racing up and down the carpets at home  to create enough energy to give her a “rather electrifying kiss.”

 

While we were helping Northern Ballet Theatre move from Manchester to Spring Hall, Halifax, our paths crossed again. HRH came north to lunch in NBT’s new headquarters. This time, with just adults around, there she was, an even more relaxed, sophisticated, person, entertaining fellow guests and dancers.

 

As far as I can judge, from first hand evidence, no-one was as much fun, nor as supporting to the Arts than the Queen’s baby sister. Here she is with the much loved  and missed,NBT principal and director Christopher Gable.

 

Gable

Watch that scene, digging the Dancing Queen…

WHO will win ‘Strictly?’ ‘What will Alexandra, Debbie, Gemma, Molly,  and Joe be wearing this week? Or are you still wondering if middle class morality means a thing after watching Howard’s End?

‘Bread and circuses,’  the ancient Roman technique to keep its citizens in order, is a long way from today’s Cappucinos and box-sets. Yet we’re entranced and distracted by the range and quality of our broadcasters and filmmakers spectacular output.

The Media Industry has so stepped up to the plate with its totally impressive range of information platforms and entertainment channels that now all we have to do is to  check on  how we can pay for the bread!

AledGorka

 

 

 

Broadway Babes and Harlem Hellraisers!

CAUGHT a preview of the Runyon based musical sensation, Guys and Dolls at the Royal Exchange, Manchester, last night.

guys-and-dolls-at-royal-exchange-manchester-785x486‘Never Been in Love Before,’ as if sung for the first time, pure and smooth, by Abiona Omonua, a first half sensation and ensemble number,’Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat,’ brought the house down as finale.

A co-production with Talawa Theatre Company, with their director Michael Buffong and choreography from Kenrick “H20” Sandy, relocates the fabulous show to up-town New York with all the creative excitement of the “Harlem Renaissance”.

Running from 2 Dec – 27 Jan 2018, the companies have a hit on their jazz hands!

 

We need to talk about beauty! A tribute to a man I didn’t meet.

THERE is no slick sign for genius or beauty so Peter Chang is described as a 21st century Fabergé.  His output is far away from the Russian craftsmen’s creations as is possible to imagine.  They did both make objects which could be worn on the body.  Fabergés,’ from gems and precious metals for the Russian Imperial family; Chang’s, out of found materials for Fashion models!

I might have met Peter Chang.  My friend Anita Clarke, part of the Art scene in Liverpool from his days in the city, knew him and told me of his death, this month, at the age of 72. He was one of the Liverpool artists involved in Pop Art and Music in the 60s and 70s.

Chang’s fabrics were modern, his creations avant garde;  his skills ancient, painstaking.  Transforming tiny fragments of brightly coloured acrylic into intricate, immaculate curved brooches or bangles; spiralling, organic shapes with the odd fin, horn or pompom, is long, hard, and, it transpired, dangerous work.

He never used much in the way of machinery, believing he had more control with the hand, using planes, rasps, needle files, sandpaper and polish. However, his technique of building up layers of resin and, over years before masks were common, breathing in the fumes, damaged his lungs, a tragic price for his fabulous work.

PeterChang

Chang trained as both sculptor and printmaker. After a first degree in art and graphic design at Liverpool from 1963-66, he left for Paris to study printmaking at the famous Hayter Printmaking Atelier, followed by a postgraduate degree in sculpture and printmaking at The Slade, London.  After years working on sculptural projects, interiors and furniture design, he turned to jewellery in the late 1970s, first making earrings for his wife, Barbara Santos-Shaw, head of printed textiles at Glasgow School of Art.

Outlandish, outrageous, extravagant, witty and bizarre; his influences from Pop Art visible but with the sense of opulence from Art in China and Japan. He was the shy genius whose smaller works might take 400 hours to make.

1987Braacelet

A Chang bracelet on display, from 1987, the decade which saw Rifat Ozbek including the artist’s glorious pieces in his spectacular catwalk shows.

As a top rank international artist, Chang’s work is in the collection of museums in Germany, Australia, the Netherlands, China, Hawaii, Finland, Switzerland, Italy, in New York’s Metropolitan, the Smithsonian, Musee des Arts Decoratifs Montreal, Graves Art Gallery Sheffield, British Council, National Museum of Scotland. Widely collected in America, he was awarded the 1995 Jerwood Prize for “lasting significance and daring brilliance”

 

Peter Chang has said, “Object-making is a non-verbal attempt at balancing the intellect with the intuitive,” leaving the rest of us to conjure with ideas of beauty and genius.  This may go someway towards explaining his mysterious gift for magical transformations through art and technique.   “Like all fine art, Peter Chang’s work provokes an intense physical response: a compulsion to touch, a need to smile and wonder. His unique objects also project an unusual wit and humour”, says Alyson Pollard, curator of Metalwork and Glass at the National Museums Liverpool.  He once told her, “I like to incorporate a bit of fun: spice it up. People take things too seriously.”

The day after his death, art transporters collected work to ship to Rome where his show opened on November 14 at the Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XX1 Secolo.

 

Like Helen of Troy, it’s ‘the face to launch a thousand ships!’

 

PAOLO Riversi believes that ‘photography is the revelation of another dimension’. His skills at devising a myriad of shots over decades is celebrated during an exhibition in Milan today.

“I am not interested in the everyday or the commonplace. They carry no emotions for me,” Roversi ‘master of the dreamy, the fantastic and the ethereal,’ tells The Business of Fashion.

“Paolo Roversi, Stories” is the main exhibition in the stunning Appartamenti del Principe on the top floor of Milan’s Palazzo Reale for the Vogue Photo Festival, curated by Alessia Glaviano, current photo editor of Italian Vogue

Among the intricate tapestries, gilded stuccoes and marble floors, are photographic selections, including a full series of unpublished portraits of Rihanna, outtakes from an album cover shoot.

RihannaFace

Whether the styling is eclectic, decadent, or divine the focus is always the face.

If for Fashion or the Music industry Roversi wants each carefully crafted image to tell a story.

“It is about fantasy, fabric, invention. In order to work, however, a fashion photograph must function in two ways: it has to be the portrait of a woman wearing a dress, but also the portrait of a dress worn by a woman.”

Vivienne Westwood interpreting her own creations, discussing her own work, explains, “The  silhouette looks like an ant on stilts, the head comes out looking more important, and with the shoes, forming a pedestal to give particular power and expression to the most erotic part of the person, the face.”

The Fashion geniuses  Roversi and Westwood are artists who pay homage to the Renaissance painters whose portraits make up the stories of  earlier lives, loves and eternal emotions.

 

The death of maestro Azzedine Alaïa

¨ Fashion will last forever. It will exist always. It will exist in its own way in each era. I live in the moment. It’s interesting to know the old methods. But you have to live in the present moment. ¨Azzedine Alaia

Alaïa, the French Tunisian artist has died at his home in Paris. He is thought of as a sculptor rather than a designer, although his muse and inspiration came from a lasting love of Fashion.

He was enchanted by the way clothes looked, reading ‘Vogue’ as a boy. By pretending to be older than he was, he attended the École des Beaux-Arts in Tunis, where he studied sculpture, and began working as a dressmaker before moving to Paris in 1957, at first as a tailleur for Dior, then with Guy Laroche and later Thierry Mugler.

Writing of his death, at the age of 77, the French weekly, Le Point, tells of his ‘prodigious talent,’ and Fashion’s ‘insatiable appetite for his designs;’ making him popular for decades. And how his skills at cutting allowed ‘idiosyncratic takes on classic silhouettes,’ for his designs to become the ‘aspirational zenith for many’.

He opened his first atelier in his Rue de Bellechasse apartment in the late 1970s, from which he dressed his private clientele, which included Marie-Hélène de Rothschild, Louise Lévêque de Vilmorin and Greta Garbo.

In 1980 he produced his first ready-to-wear collection, which was championed by the then doyennes of fashion, Melka Tréanton of Depeche Mode and Nicole Crassat of French Elle, who both regularly featured his work in their respective magazines.

By 1988 there were Alaïa boutiques in Beverly Hills and New York. He was dubbed the “King of Cling” by Suzy Menkes! During the mid-’90s Alaïa partially retired from the fashion scene  after the death of his twin sister. He continued to cater for a private clientele and enjoyed success with his ready-to-wear lines.

Alaia

Seen holding his two Yorkshire terriers, Patapouf and Wabo, Alaia  is pictured walking in a Paris street with model Frederique van der Wal, wearing his creation, a black leather zippered dress.  (Don’t you adore her see-through pumps?)

Alaïa was the subject of a major retrospective at Rome’s illustrious Villa Borghese, Couture/Sculpture in 2015.  Three decades of his gowns were shown with masterpieces by respected artists, Raphael, Caravaggio, and Titian. He is celebrated as the inventor of ‘body-con,’ and his work does not suffer from being compared to these earlier Italian masters.

Strictly Chicago!

IT’s tricky not letting addictive ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ become the thrill of the week. But yesterday I found the antidote! I watched the full length dance movie, Chicago (2001). It’s  still sensational with the genius dance moves of director and choreographer Rob Marshall.

With music by Kander and Ebb, the team behind ‘Cabaret,’ Chicago won six academy awards in 2003 and was the first musical to win Best Picture, since ‘Oliver’ in 1968.

Nightclub sensation Velma (Catherine Zeta-Jones) murders her philandering husband, and Chicago’s slickest lawyer, Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), is set to defend her. But when aspiring star Roxie (Renée Zellweger) also winds up in prison, Billy also takes on her case. They turn the 1920s ‘Windy City’ into a media circus. Neither will be outdone in her fight for fame and celebrity.

richard-gere-and-ren-e-zellweger-in-chicago-2002

Here Collen Atwood’s costume designs appear in court as Roxie, performs as the innocent victim; killing in self-defence, begging for the life of her (fictional) unborn child, for Billy Flynn, the blindingly corrupt, ‘razzle dazzle,’ lawyer.

Influences around the time of Miccuia Prada’s S/S 2001 collection seem to have inspired both the svelte stage outfits and clothes for prison and street scenes in the movie, don’t  you think?

Prada