Post Perception

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Remi Paringaux, co-founder of creative agency Meri Media and Post, the first iPad only fashion magazine, discusses photography, issues with advertisers and the future of fashion and print media in an increasingly digital world.

Materialist: What kind of imagery inspires your art direction?

Paringaux: The images that I love are those of Nick Knight or Solve Sundsbo. My ultimate hero is Erwin Blumenfeld, a photographer from the 1930s or 1940s who did stuff with his camera, way before photoshop, that just blows your mind. I like images that stage a whole scene and make you dream by tricking the lights.

Materialist: Are you thinking of an art photographer like Jeff Wall?

Paringaux: I love Jeff Wall and Gregory Crewdson. But even in Nick Knight’s images there’s this fantasy world all around them. You can look at them for hours and just imagine all the different things going on within.

Materialist: Your first job as art director was at Dazed & Confused. What is it about the first cover you created there that’s emblematic for you?

Paringaux: It is my first cover but it’s also my favorite. Mariano Vivanco shot it. We had to sit down and have this guy painted completely in white and then completely in black; it’s good to have that level of art direction. The idea comes from Batman’s Two-Face. The team gave me the framed print when I left. They knew it was my favorite.

Materialist: Do you think all creative people are inherently collectors like yourself?

Paringaux: I guess it helps people feel a bit nostalgic every now and again. It’s good to have a flashback. I don’t collect things in the way people collect stamps or old coins because that’s much more like archiving. Everything I collect has sentimental value: it’s a journey through my past. And they just look cool.

Materialist: Do you collect anything that doesn’t look cool?

Paringaux: I collect a bunch of magazines, for instance, this independent publication called, Ocean Paddler: it is an open water kayak magazine. And it’s the geekiest thing but I love it because it’s such a focused publication.

Materialist: It’s interesting that you created Post, the first iPad only fashion magazine, but that you also collect print media.

Paringaux: I’m completely a print media person. That’s where I started my career and I still do print occasionally. You can’t really collect digital media. It just doesn’t have the same physicality.

Materialist: What do you think of the future of print media for fashion? Do you think people are going to follow suit with what you’ve done with Post? Is print going to die out or it just going to have to become really special?

Paringaux: Print is always going to exist but it’s going to have to fight harder for its existence. Bi-annuals will still be printed because bi-annuals are like books. What I think will disappear are the throwaway things like weekly magazines. And for them, doing a transition into digital media would open so many more doors and revenue streams from new affiliates to a wider distribution network. Everyone who has created iPad magazines so far that are just a slightly enhanced version of the print have failed miserably. It’s about embracing new technology and not doing so halfheartedly. Yet there are things that will remain in print because the physicality of a print magazine gives it its purpose. Think of an in flight magazine. That could never be digitalized.

Materialist: Did you hear that Quantas is implementing iPads on the backs of all their airplane seats?

Paringaux: The designer for Quantas is Marc Newsom. He’s a huge Apple fan and his best friend is Jonathan Ive, the head designer of Apple. They must have been plotting something.

Materialist: With this rapid proliferation of the iPad, do you think magazines will still be around in a few years?

Paringaux: It’s such a big topic and it’s obviously not like I have the answer. I hope they’ll still be around. I really do. I’m a big magazine freak. I collect so many print magazines. In my office I have ten times what I have here at home.

Materialist: Do you actually go back and refer back to the physical object of the magazine?

Paringaux: Weirdly enough, not really. It’s almost like a bulimia and I just want all the magazines. But I do occasionally. I started out collecting magazines of my time. A lot of Dazed & Confused and a lot of AnOther magazine. But recently I started collecting magazines from the past. I bought all the old, original Interview magazines. And I discovered this magazine while I was in LA last summer – It’s called West and it’s the weekend supplement of the Los Angeles Times. I’ve never seen such incredible covers. They’re all illustrated with a The New Yorker vibe: really good stuff. The problem is that once you start collecting those, it’s a weekly magazine, so there are thousands of them.

Materialist: What are your thoughts on the publication as a piece of art, like Six by Rei Kawakubo from Comme des Garcons?

Paringaux: In a way it was always intended to be a piece of art. It was so outside the box and there is no text. It was not trying to sell anything or include any celebrities. When Kawakubo worked on Six it was the early 1990s. That started the whole biannual thing. It’s all about that full page of fashion photography. And you can disassemble the publication so they’re almost like posters.

Materialist: What kind of media criticism inspires you?

Paringaux: There’s this one magazine that I would love to collect because it was so attached to a critical movement and a revolution, not only in media but in society. The guys who started May 68 in France had this magazine called The International Situationist Movement. It’s a movement that changed society forever. They basically perverted media by transforming it and flipping it on its head by doing things called, ‘detournements’ where they took a cover of a magazine and painted over it or cut it up and reshaped it to create an alternative meaning to what it was actually supposed to say. So with these existing political images they were essentially creating the opposite. There was a beautiful exhibition at The Centre Pompidou in Paris about ten years ago and I saw the International Situationist Movement magazines there under glass. There were only a couple of hundred copies printed and they had every single issue – I think it was only eight – just the dream. But already that sense of aesthetic and that sense of continuity was a great thing. Media in general is such a massive topic. It’s everywhere.

Materialist: In terms of fashion media specifically, is there a position for fashion criticism in print media?

Paringaux: We celebrate independent publications and self funded magazines because they don’t have advertisers. I’ve always thought it was really important to try and self-publish and be as free as possible of commercial obligations. If you look at mainstream magazines they have a very strict agenda. They can’t talk about anything other than the advertisers who actually buy serious advertising in the title. If not, advertisers complain. Not only in fashion but in every single print and television media industry. It’s absolutely the way things function now. You cannot have an objective opinion. If you hated the Prada collection then you’re not allowed to say so. There are only a few journalists in the world that can get away with dissing a collection.

Materialist: Who do you think they are?

Paringaux: Suzy Menkes doesn’t censor herself. But her newspaper, The International Herald Tribune, doesn’t run on fashion advertising so she’s much freer. Magazine journalists cannot say anything because they live off of advertising. When Tom Ford was on the cover of French Vogue’s December/January issue no 913 with him curating it, there were no Louis Vuitton, Gucci or Yves Saint Laurent products featured. Tom Ford is a rogue guy. He’s my hero because he doesn’t play by the rules. He was at Gucci Group and then went out on his own to build his namesake brand that’s worth a fortune by now. But these big advertisers want to see their product on the editorial pages. In public relations they go through magazines and count the number of times their product appears throughout an issue. And if it doesn’t appear more than 10, 15, 20 times… They’ll cut advertisements the next month. They’ll punish you for not including their products.

Materialist: Why did you choose to create a fashion publication in particular?

Paringjaux: It’s what I know how to do. But Post is more than a fashion publication. It’s an art magazine. It’s not about showing the clothes because I’ve never been a garment person. What I’ve always been interested in is the image of things and the story behind them. A lot of people look at what we do and they’re confused. It touches upon many media outlets and disciplines. But the people who look at it and get it really respect it. For us it’s a front of shop thing. At the end of the day we’re a creative agency, we’re not publishers. I use fashion as a vehicle to show my ideas, concepts and aesthetics. But I could be shooting still lives of flowers. I could be shooting architecture.

Materialist: Do you find that fashion is sexier than those other fields?

Paringaux: Arguably architecture is very sexy. If I knew how to make a building express my aesthetic I would love to do that. But right now the media that I know how to maneuver is fashion imagery so I use that to express myself. The stuff we do in Post is not sexy in any way. It’s actually pretty cold and experimental. It doesn’t put the model or the clothes for that matter on a pedestal. If anything I cut them up, distort them and change the colors. I allow myself a lot of freedom.

Materialist: How do the developments in new media function in terms of retaining an audience?

Paringaux: Each media has its own way of retaining people’s attention. When MTV came out in 1981 they used to ‘cut, cut, cut’ much more like a film. A film used to cut an average of every seven seconds. MTV brought it down to cutting every two or three seconds and then cut to something else. This stroboscopic editing threw your retina and challenged your brain to keep you excited. Now with touch screen media the way to retain people’s attention is to have a finger on the screen. Where it becomes even more powerful is when you allow the user, through the medium of touch, to modify the content so they’re not just swiping pages, they’re actually affecting the shape of something. Post Gravity was so successful because you could change the state of the girl on the cover. And that’s where most magazines fail because touching the screen to swipe the page is not good enough. The new issue is called Post Performance because on every page, in every advertisement and in every editorial, we try to involve the user on a proactive journey of affecting the content.

Materialist: Is reading on a touch screen also more interactive because you don’t have the extra element of separation in the form of the mouse?

Paringaux: For me, what it boils down to is the addition of another sense. When you look at a print magazine, you’re only stimulated visually. If you watch TV you’re stimulated visually and through your hearing. When you’re interacting on an iPhone or an iPad, you’re touching something and modifying the content. It’s audio, visual and tactile. If you have three of your five senses involved in an experience, you’re going to be pretty captivated. Touch was never involved previously and is now involved in the whole reading experience so you’re completely consumed. If three of your five senses are involved, that media owns you. It’s short of the iPad putting something in your mouth. You can’t really get more immersive than that.

Materialist: How does this new technological medium work with existing codes to create a fully immersive experience?

Paringaux: Television derived from the medium of cinema and it had to reinvent it’s own code. Now shooting something for TV and shooting something for cinema is completely distinct. In the beginning TV just reused a list of codes from the cinema until it managed to stand on its own two feet and create tailored content for that media. Today with touch screen media we’re using a lot of codes and queues from other media. Print is obviously a huge influence. Online is obviously a huge influence. And the way people edit their videos for iPads is very close to what MTV would do or what television would do. It’s about evolving things in a very empirical way with one layer on top of another. When enough devices are out there, it will become its own language with its own sets of codes, it’s own way of editing, and its own way of writing for it.

Materialist: How do you apply these codes to Post?

Paringaux: With Post we explore and breakdown the codes. It’s basically a ‘tableau au hazard’ where we try not to copy other existing medias but rather create something tailored for the device. (Theorist) Marshall McLuhan said ‘We shape our tools and in turn our tools shape us.’ The best analogy is that humans created the car and the car created the suburb. So in a way humans, or Apple, created the iPad and it’s going to become its own category. It’s just going to take a while.

Materialist: Is touch screen media going to become increasingly about audio with the invention of Siri?

Paringaux: I’ve got big theories about Siri. For me Siri is the way for Apple to absolutely penetrate your lifestyle. With Siri you don’t even need your iPhone in your hand. You can just walk around your house empty handed and talk to Siri. People always criticize the mouse because the mouse is such an alien thing to access information with. The iPhone is pretty alien as but talking to an iPhone is the most intuitive thing. The most primary way of interacting is through your voice. Siri doesn’t work very well at the moment but I think if they manage to nail it it’s going to be nuts. There are speculations that Apple is going to do a television this year. It’s huge because that’s about penetrating your home, not only through your home office, but your living room and your bedroom. That’s a pretty big deal.

Materialist: What are your plans for the upcoming issue?

Paringaux: It’s going to be a really dark issue like Blade Runner, which for me in terms of aesthetic, is everything that I love. It’s going to be dark, dystopian and full of doom and gloom.

The Colbert Report

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Photography by Simon Archer Hurlstone

Words by Jocelyn Jeffery

Philip Colbert created fashion label The Rodnik Band, which plays with pop art to create dresses that replicate artwork like Marcel Duchamp’s Urinal. He talks about the tendency of fashion to take itself too seriously and describes discussions of collaborating on a philosophical fashion line with Swiss philosopher Alain de Botton.

Materialist: How did you decide to incorporate pop art into your designs?

Colbert: It stemmed from the fact that pop art contains bold, bright colors and ideas; it’s about communicating to people in a very direct way. I like that approach to clothing because the meaning of fashion can be hard to ascertain. Fashion can take itself very seriously so to make something that has a more humorous impact can result in a wearable item that has intellectual value. A satire with a Claus Oldenburg sculpture as a dress makes it accessible for anyone outside of the fashion clique. There is a fun art history reference there, whereas when it’s playing on the trends of fashion it is hard to put your finger on what the actual value is. Satisfying trends for trends’ sake is not particularly meaningful.

Materialist: One of the main problems with fashion and fashion criticism is the fact that it can be too self-referential so it’s refreshing to take fashion outside of the box. Do you view pop art as an easily identifiable branch of art for people without a depth of knowledge in the field?

Colbert: I love pop art in general but I do get slightly sickened by an Andy Warhol screen print. It is heavily repeatable so there is a lack of contact from the artist. But what I do love about pop art is the fact that it engages with the pop culture that we live in, which is without question the biggest influence in modern day life. I very much like things that have a sense of language and communicate directly. There are so many amazing pop artists like Claus Oldenburg whose work has complete intellectual value but also brings an element of surrealism and fantasy into everyday life. Simple things like his oversized cherry in the center of a city or a giant ice cream cone on top of a building, melting, play on perspective. This handling and translating of ideas allows for cartoonlike sets. It’s a nice mix of reality and animation and I like the sense of escapism that pop art can have.

Materialist: Do you find it important to merge art and fashion because they are both extremely reflective of the society that we live in?

Colbert: I was always more interested in art than in fashion and by getting into fashion in a random way I used the platform of clothing to express artistic ideas. It was my way of making it interesting for myself and also for the sort of woman whom I want to dress. I very much like the idea that my clothes are wearable art in a tongue in cheek way. Fashion obviously has a value and an allure but I’d rather it have a more artistic identity than a fashion identity.

Materialist: How did you get into fashion?

Colbert: I did philosophy at university and one thing lead to another and I found myself doing clothing. I was very much out of my depth to begin with because I had never trained in it. The more I got involved in creating a brand and selling clothes, the more I started developing my own thoughts on what I wanted the brand to be. If I can run a fashion label, anyone can do it. And I like that spirit because fashion can take itself very seriously. It’s a cliquey world so to come at it with a hyper whacky attitude, when things actually go well, is a powerful combination.

Materialist: Can you describe the collaboration you were in talks of working on with Swiss philosopher Alain de Botton?

Colbert: We did a series of interviews together for Vogue and we talked about the idea of doing a philosophical fashion line. It was a fun idea but it didn’t get beyond the conceptual stages.

Materialist: What does a philosophical fashion line entail?

Colbert: That was the challenge. The idea was to create a language of union in clothing. Clothing does already have a meaning, socially and historically. In a social context it represents several important ideas and movements. But I always assume that clothing is very psychological in the sense that people wear things to express certain ideas about themselves. Let’s say you did a lecture series of clothes and you created a building block, millions of different outfits. Say you had some template outfits in black and they were cut with a certain silhouette to represent seriousness and you’d wear those on a serious day. Then you could potentially accept certain additional ideas that would help you refine your mood that day. The challenge with the project was to map out a meaning, a language of clothing. Once it has been mapped out then one could have more fun with building a narrative.

Materialist: It’s challenging to translate that idea into the literal sense.

Colbert: Yeah for sure. In art, people do it all the time, create their own language. But clothing always has that challenge of having a practical use. Obviously fashion is an art but the reality of fashion is that it’s a cynical, hardcore business. To exist it has to operate in a very crude world of selling things in numbers and appealing to generic markets, which don’t necessarily always understand a sophisticated idea. People can definitely do very sophisticated things and be successful but not always can such things find a commercial audience. Whereas with art, you come up with an idea, and if people buy it once, the buyers buy it, and it doesn’t have to be resold 1,000 times. But with clothing there is always the need to be ultimately commercial. It makes it slightly more of a business challenge.

Materialist: From where does the British vibe of the brand originate?

Colbert: Even though I was born in Scotland, I still feel British in a way. I love Scotland as a country but I’m not a hardcore Scottish nationalist. London is an adopted home and what I love about England is that abstract cartoon-like language of the buses and The Queen. It’s a fun brand world – it has a strong identity internationally. When I was selling in America being from London was definitely the brand identity. So I thought well I might as well embrace that. Britain is easy to feel even when you’re abroad. There is a history of satire and humor in things so it’s nice to play on that. I like to playfully reference things like The Sex Pistols because they’re a fun example of a fashion/music cross over. It’s quite a progressive concept of creating a band and a brand together. So the joke band that I have alongside my fashion label plays on representing fashion in a more lighthearted way and breaking the mold slightly from the conventional approach.

Materialist: Can you explain the concept of the joke band further?

Colbert: The band concept came after I was selling at the store Barneys and I was like, ‘how do I make the label compete when it’s not known in America? How do I bring it to peoples attention in a guerilla fashion?’ I’d been thinking about the band as this amazing vehicle of travelling, touring and taking the dream and the lifestyle on the road. Fashion can be quite cynical in the sense that it’s often fake and contrived. So I did a world tour in 2009 of all the stores. I played in Barney’s, stores in Japan and in Comme Des Garcons. It was quite funny taking this spinal tap-like fashion band on tour and playing in dry environments like department stores. It’s definitely comical. There was genuine laughter at this gig (at Scotch in London) last night because I made a big step by getting a Japanese pop group to become my band. Previously my band was always just fill-ins: people helping out as the backing instruments. But because of that it never felt like a real band, it was more of a joke. So last night, even though it was still a joke, it was actually fluid and real. Also these guys brought a lot to the table because they were very funny. They’re kooky Japanese girls and they had pink wigs on and were wearing crazy sequin crab and beer dresses. One of them even did a back flip on stage. It was like a comedy show. They were coming up with all sorts of funny stories and their songs themselves were quite amusing. They’re about banal things like toothpaste and scotch tape and they sing in Japanese accents. It was definitely a funny marriage between the Rodnick world and these guys. What I liked about last night is that it wasn’t just dressing a conventionally pretty pop group through their record label for X Factor, which is all very contrived and boring like Blackberry communication. These were genuine girls with personality and spirit. They’re not conventional but they’re definitely cool, quirky and inspiring in fashion because they’re real characters.

http://www.therodnikband.com

Original Femininity

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Photography by Christopher Gabello

Words by Jocelyn Jeffery

Brooklyn based fashion designer Suzanne Rae’s Spring/Summer 2015 collection is encapsulated by head to toe monochrome black or white with the occasional pop of a head to toe painterly print. The collection captures a women’s ability to embody both the delicate and the strong in one simple look.

From what does the designer draw her inspiration? for Rae it’s all about vintage, a refreshing scent and a good read.

“I can’t live without a vintage dress that I found for $10.00. I wear it all different ways in all different seasons. To me it’s Poiret meets Denise Huxtable. A copy of The Prophet by Khalil Gibran is always the best go to read when lacking inspiration. I like to stay minimalist when it comes to products but Santa Maria Novella’s Aqua di Rose face toner can also be used as a linen rinse. The scent is refreshing and calming in the loveliest way.”

In Transit

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Industry insider Adam Fields seeks to facilitate the world of art shipping through his new business, Arta.

You left the online auction house Artspace to create Arta, a business addressing the inefficiencies in art shipping. Can you tell us more about that?

Definitely. While developing the operation and logistics for Artspace.com, it became obvious that the process of getting quotes and connecting with art shippers was problematic for both online and offline purveyors or art along with collectors, museums, auction houses, etc. My new business Arta aims to address these inefficiencies. Arta is a city in Greece that in ancient times was the centre for mercantile shipping.

What inspired you to make this career move?

I’ve been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and enjoy solving problems. I think the art world is a bit antiquated and there are many problems that can be solved via technology and innovative thinking. It’s fun to take it on and think I’m positioned well to do so.

How important is shipping to the art market?

It’s super important but at the same time it’s a part of the art world that isn’t really sexy and doesn’t get that much attention, unless something bad happens. Pieces are shipped for a variety of reasons, not just because of sales and transactions, and always need to get to the destination safe and sound. This creates major headaches for registrars, collectors, museums, etc. who have a lot going on and really just want the trade to be complete.

Is there a niche in the industry that you are trying to fill?

The shipping industry is already a robust and profitable industry, but one that is quite fragmented. I’m trying to help bring it online and consolidate everything.

Are there certain companies that are easier to work with than others?

Each entity in the artworld presents a new set of challenges, but it’s more about what is being shipped that who is shipping. We welcome the opportunity to work with every company.

Do you still have to follow the art market itself?

I’m still involved in the art world on a personal level and enjoy collecting, attending openings, etc. It’s a little harder now that my day-to-day is less on the market and more on the logistics but I still have a decent handle on what’s going on. With that said, things happen so quickly that it can be difficult to stay plugged in.

What artists inspire you the most?

All artists inspire me. I’m continually amazed by their distinct visions, creativity and attention to detail. There’s nothing better than visiting an artists studio and hearing them describe their work and process.

Do you collect art?

I do. I started collecting a few years ago and am focused on Chicago artists, which is where I am from, particularly those that are exploring their medium and process. My collection features Chicago artists Rashid Johnson, Tony Lewis, Paul Cowan and Angel Otero. They are all young as every artist I collect is under 40.

Is there anything you collect other than art?

Not really, but I still have time. At least I graduated from collecting Absolute Vodka ads in my younger years to collecting contemporary art.

How do you perceive the art shipping market evolving over time?

I compare it to the air travel industry but it’s about 20 years behind. It will eventually evolve to a point where it is all online with more transparency and efficiency along with better pricing and service for everyone involved.

Inherent Vice

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Photographed by Nick Walker

Jocelyn Jeffery talks to Danny Gabai, Executive Creative Director of Vice LA about his penchant for objects, lists and theorists.

What’s an average day at Vice like?

There’s lots of meetings. And conference calls — it’s an incredibly collaborative place so everyone’s always bouncing ideas off each other. Periodically I get to lock myself in an editing room for hours and give notes on videos. I just started producing a feature documentary so at the moment I’m looking over a lot of cash-flow schedules.

How would you describe your role in the company?

I help oversee our film and tv business. That includes everything from creative development, making deals, producing, overseeing edits and working on marketing. Sometimes I do other stuff. Sometimes things get interesting…

I see you collect Moleskines… What kind of notes do you keep in there?

It’s not just Moleskines — it’s whatever notebooks I can get my grubby paws on. I write everything down, but I seem to have a special penchant for lists and charts which I save and shove in a box and have absolutely no practical use for later. It’s a sort of embalmed archive of my brain that exists (to paraphrase the Kinks) to prove I’ve really existed.

Here’s some lists I wrote down that begin with the letter ‘F':

FILMS I’D CATEGORIZE AS BODY HORROR

FURNITURE STORES IN JAPAN

FAVORITE ALBUMS 2005

FAMOUS JEWS

FINNEGANS WAKE: RECURRING MOTIFS

FREQUENT FLYER ACCOUNTS

FAULKNER’S SOUTH

FAVORITE BRITISH COMEDY SERIALS

As a creative, which objects bring you the most inspiration and why?

Blank pages and pens — that’s where I get my best work done. And books — they’re full of other people’s good ideas. I like old-timey stuff like telescopes and ragtime cartoon characters that sing and dance and play the ukulele. Mickey Mouse has been a recurring motif in my life. He was originally a bastion of metaphysical chaos. For all intents-and-purposes he ceased to exist after 1940 when they gave him pupils and cut off his tail. As Kenneth Anger eloquently put it: “they castrated the poor fellow.” Some other old stuff I like: Marcel Proust, Walker Evans, Hoagy Carmichael, oscillators, Bringing up Baby, Robert Frank, Robert Crumb, hand-drawn maps, Lenny Bruce, Campari, The Night of the Hunter, Wally Berman, steak-au-poivre, Krazy Kat, Anna Karinina, Exile On Mainstreet-era Rolling Stones, the former Yugoslavia, George Plimpton, Georges Perec, the twist, The Marx Bros, Paris in the 20’s, New York in the 70’s (the late 70’s), Prince.

Who are your favorite theorists and what is it about them that you admire?

Roland Barthes, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Richard Feynman, Susan Sontag, Brian Eno, W.G. Sebald, Geoff Dyer, Tom McCarthy. I like them for their elasticity of thought. I used to be really into Heidegger but he turned out to be an asshole.

Do you think semiotics is relevant in this day and age?

Yes — the more we immerse ourselves in a virtual representation of reality, the more important signifiers become.

Vice is such a rapidly expanding media outlet, what do you forsee the company doing next?

Becoming ubiquitous.

The Art of Beauty

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Julie Dickson photographed by Jocelyn Jeffery

Words by Jocelyn Jeffery

Julie Dickson, owner of Fox & Boy salon in New York City, shares her style inspiration and beauty secrets with us.

What inspired you to open Fox & Boy?

In New York there is a great divide between uptown and downtown salons. Typically uptown salons provide great service but tend to be a bit uptight. Smaller downtown salons tend to be more relaxed but the quality of the work can be questionable. I wanted to create a place that not only did great work but provided a cozy, comfortable, inviting environment. A salon has to have sinks, chairs and mirrors but the rest can be more exciting. We have a mid-century modern cocktail cart that we use as a magazine stand and antique music cabinets that we use as stylist stations.

How did you come up with the name?

Names are so difficult. I wanted something simple and personal but I didn’t want to put my name on the door. Fox & Boy is a game that my kids played. The little one would pretend she was a Fox and the older one (boy) would chase her around.

How would you describe the Fox & Boy concept?

It’s my goal to provide people with what they want. I concentrate on giving cuts and promoting hairstyles that work with people’s face shapes in addition to working with their natural hair texture. A perfectly cut accent piece can beautifully give the illusion of opening someone’s eye or lifting a cheekbone. For color, I always look at the eyes, skin tone, etc. For example, if someone has cool blue eyes and a warm pink skin tone, it’s an indication that they need both warm and cool tones in their hair color.

How would you describe your personal style?

I like discord. Classic and elegant mixed with a bit of counterculture. I’m tall so I have a lot of my dresses made, which I think can come off as a little stuffy so I always keep something amiss; a homemade up-do, a bra strap showing, or scuffed flats. My favorite flats are 5-year-old Pradas that are scuffed up beyond belief. I also love tomboy style but I’m curvy so I have to be careful. There’s nothing better than a good pair of trousers with a perfect crew neck or button up. When I wear labels I don’t like them to be immediately identifiable. For example, one of my favorite day bags is Celine but most people wouldn’t know it because it’s not one of their classic bucket bags.

How, in your opinion, do art, design, fashion and beauty play off of each other?

I think that design follows fine art, fashion follows design, and hair follows fashion with some obvious political and musical variables factored in. For example, the minimalist art movement in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the era of Frank Stella, co-existed with minimalist furniture and design. When post-minimalism came onto the scene, fashion really started to follow suit with the high fashion public embracing Halston and Calvin Klein in the early 1970’s. With wash and go fabrics so popular in high fashion, hair was soon to follow. Women no longer wanted to get a weekly wash and set, they wanted to be able to shampoo and style their hair at home, therefore more natural hairstyles became popular. The same thing happened in the 1980’s. Artists like Basquiat were using bright colors and textures, which inspired a mish mash of over the top furniture design, then crazy cartoony clothes followed with over accessorizing, which were finally followed with the big 1980’s hair. Especially in New York city, I feel like I’d really have to have my head in the sand not to know what was going to happen next.

Are there any artists that you particularly admire?

I love Cecily Brown because she’s a smart and complex woman. She’s not afraid of sex, darkness, light, or showing the sweetness of being a mother in her work. I have a wonderful signed lithograph of hers and every time I look at it I see something new. I’m also into David Shrigley. We have a lot of examples of his art in the salon in addition to a few of his books lying around. He’s simultaneously dark and hilarious. I could picture us being friends. He’d be the kind of friend I’d lie around with eating cereal all day.

Tell us about a few of your favourite things.

Mason Pearson brushes, brussels sprouts, Bill Beauford’s book – Among The Thugs, Pellegrino by the case, my daughter’s face drawings, my BLK DNM motorcycle jacket, eyeglasses, Cartier, discord, scuffed shoes, beautiful coats, Ike and Tina, good umbrellas and people who are unapologetically honest.

Do you consider yourself a collector? If so, what do you collect?

I collect glasses and sunglasses. I love that everyday I can convey a completely different look.

Where do you find your beauty inspiration?

I look at the classics. Patti Boyd, Brit Eckland, Catherine Deneuve and Lauren Bacall. I also love wonderful rock and roll girls like Joan Jett, anything Grace Coddington, girls from the folk music era with their simple skirts and loafers, red headed children, city parks, old ladies hanging out on the stoops on Mulberry Street in their housecoats, and those wonderful foggy greenish mornings in brownstone Brooklyn after the rain.

Fragments of Femininity

An Illustration of the Artist Kiki Smith by Miriam Ivanoff for Materialist Magazine Issue 01

A comparative analysis of the work of Tracey Emin and Kiki Smith

Illustration by Miriam Ivanoff

Words by Jocelyn Jeffery

Tracey Emin and Kiki Smith have starkly different visual approaches in their art yet thematically their work is inextricably intertwined. Both women eschew the expected and express different aspects of both the feminine psyche and life itself in unpredictable ways. Emin is radical about love; Smith about life and death. Their work is often both precious and difficult to stomach (think Emin’s blankets and Smith’s statues excreting beads). They are provocative, evocative and not afraid to expose themselves – a raw honesty radiates throughout their work that is rare to find.

This honesty manifests itself as Emin cries out for intimacy by exposing details of her private life that others wouldn’t dream of revealing. In a letter that accompanies My Abortion 1990 she recounts the moment when, in a London taxicab, her body expelled a second fetus, overlooked during the initial procedure, “I had killed the thing which I could love the most. Forgive me, tiny little thing… Forgive me – leave me.”

Smith is honest in her portrayal of the female form in unconventional ways – often from the inside out, neutralizing it so that it stands for mankind as a whole, challenging the tradition of male artists to paint the female in an erotic light. In How I Know I’m Here, a massive linocut, Smith depicts several internal organs, including a heart, brain, lungs, and reproductive systems splayed out around etched lines that represent her own feet, face and hands. Although Smith’s work can be seen as rather feminist, honing in on this as a political statement can be a mistake, or at least a dangerously narrow view. Her approach is far more personal – she explores the significance of how the body functions systemically in order to gain a stronger grasp on reality.

Smith’s probing stops at no bounds and delves into the human body’s most intimate inner functions – urination, menstruation, reproduction, and so on. She creates statues excreting bodily fluid in the form of beads. By making urine or menstrual blood beautiful, Smith probes at our societal reaction to such things. She also emphasizes the lack of importance we normally attribute to these fluids by placing them on an altar in jars with gothic lettering, each fluid in equal standing.

Emin does not shy away from the exploration of the significance of bodily fluids either, confidently displaying used tampons alongside her sketches giving the two equal importance. In My Bed, Emin displays her bed after a depressive episode, covered in suspicious stains and leaked menstrual blood in all its glory.

For Smith and Emin, the body is in perpetual motion. Neither artist has any shame in laying the ghastliest aspects of femininity stripped bare. This introspection strips their work of pretense down to an almost primeval level. The exposure of the self creates a vulnerability that leaves the work open to interpretation.

This vulnerability is also reflected in the use of humble craft materials. Smith uses papier-mâché for many of her sculptures and Emin uses appliqué techniques and household fabrics to create her patchwork quilts. The lack of durability of these materials as compared to that of objects like bronze sculptures creates a sense of urgency that reflects their need to create their art – to express something physically that has been building up inside. Emin’s tapestries show fragmented sentences; often just words, names or phrases. Smith’s works consist of fragmented body parts, with no logical context in the body from a biological standpoint, with the spleen and bladder displayed next to the more socially glorified heart and brain. These fragments add to this sense of urgency, as both artists emphatically express that nothing lasts forever.

The exploration of the ephemeral is so honest and pure in Smith’s work that her art can be difficult to write about. She is not trying to make a statement. Instead she follows whatever is preoccupying her at the moment without necessarily knowing why. “I don’t want to be trying to do anything,” Smith says. “When I was younger, people’s work was so expressionistic that to me it felt indulgent or self involved.” Based on this view Smith may not be a fan of Emin’s work, which is often self-indulgent. Emin is this big, booming voice that is deliberately loud because she desperately wants to be heard. Yet the honesty still permeates through Emin’s willingness to be open about a past as she sees it, inspiring the viewer to look back to the events that brought them into their present state of existence. Smith may be better at playing the innocent, but she also questions the nature of our existence through her exploration of life, death and the existential.

The autobiographical component in both artists’ work allows them to question our existence from a personal level, where they each recognize their own struggle. Emin uses her confessional art to deliberately bare her soul on canvas so that the spectator feels that they immediately know her on an intimate level. Her honesty supersedes the unfamiliar and this is what makes her art beautiful. Smith often features her self in her work, literally and physically. She is the first to admit this: “My work was very autobiographical. In the pieces about birth I was trying to reconcile an ambivalent relationship to being here on earth because earth is a difficult place to be sometimes.” Emin and Smith both create art through this therapeutic method of working out on canvas whatever is preoccupying their minds at the moment. Smith has said, “I’m just trying to make my life okay. I’m just trying to have a good life; that is my ambition: to be better at being here.” Emin speaks of art as her raison d’être, as something that has saved her life many times. To this, Smith would agree, “You know, we’re not doing research; our lives are at stake.”

Collapsing Boundaries

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Isabella Huffington, artist, Yale graduate and daughter of Arianna, takes us through her visionary creative process.

What inspired you to get into art? Was it something you’ve always wanted to do?

I always did art when I was young, but it was more as a hobby. I did more classical things like figure drawing, and I was never that into it. Then I remember in a figure drawing class I started working this modern background and I thought, this is actually enjoyable. So I started focusing on that more and it instantly captured me. After that I started working with Sharpies. I just had them around. I don’t think I would have gone and chosen Sharpies, but the medium works.

I love the Sharpie pieces that look like jellyfish. What are they meant to be?

They’re flowers, but they could be umbrellas or anything. I like the different interpretations. I just started doing three-dimensional flowers, which has been a lot of fun.

Other than nature, what objects inspire you to create your art?

I really like the idea of collapsing the boundary between fine art and everyday objects. Even Orbit gum wrappers – I just think they have the coolest pattern, and so do tissue boxes. We put so much effort in making these beautiful pieces to go in museums, but people generally don’t put in the same amount of effort for the things we see day-to-day. In Japan there is no boundary between the two. Even the wrapping paper there is special. So I’m interested in breaking down the boundaries between art and the everyday. One of the artists who does this, and who really inspires me, is Keith Haring. I created a piece that I based on his designs and his objects. Another artist that does this well is Yayoi Kusama. Those are the two artists I absolutely love.

What was it like studying art history at Yale and how did you find the time to work on your own art simultaneously?

It was good the first three years, but the fourth year was hard because I wasn’t an art major but an art history major, so there was a real divide between what I was studying, which I find incredibly interesting, and what I actually do and want to do. I just want to stay home and work on my art. I work in six-hour blocks, which was really hard when I had class. So I went to class, obviously, but getting myself to go was very difficult because I just wanted to work on my art. And at Yale they want people to stay on a certain track. The other side is always telling you to go into consulting or banking, which I think is unfortunate because when you don’t 100% know what you want to do, then you end up going on one of those tracks, which may or may not be right for you.

Do you know with certainty that you want to be an artist for the rest of your life?

I do, and I also want to do more decorative arts through working with companies and putting my art on objects because, again, I am really interested in collapsing that divide and making art accessible to a greater audience. I don’t think you should have to go to the museum to see beautiful things.

You helped collapse the divide between fashion and fine art with your collaboration with the fashion brand Ports. Can you tell us more about that?

That was fantastic. It was a lot of fun. My art was up in the New York store for two weeks. I had an opening show and then we had a big party, which was funny because I’m a big introvert, so at first I didn’t want to do it. But once you get there, it’s fun and it’s exciting. It’s always fun to hear other people talking about your art because they give it such better meaning than you ever could.

Bendigo babe

Zinzi Edmunson reports on young Hollywood’s essential retro accessory.

When a costume designer, especially an in demand and talented one, tells us about a single item that will elevate any outfit from the depths of dullness, we tend to perk up and take note. Between film and TV jobs over the past two years on the sets of Bridesmaids and 90210, costume designer Mirren Gordon-Crozier created a line of sunglasses inspired by the tree-lined streets where she spends her summers in the serenity of Eastern Long Island. “Clothes are so everyday,” she says, “I wanted to create something fun and cool; that an L.A. girl can throw on with no makeup or a simple outfit and still feel glamorous.” The result: a line of wood grain acetate sunglasses that hit all the marks in two styles and five color ways. As intended, Bendigo Frames are a surefire antidote to even the worst case of sartorial doldrums.

www.bendigoframes.com

X-ray vision

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Photography by Nathan Perkel for Jalouse

In the six years since Nathan Perkel left Northern California for New York, he has produced a vast and successful body of personal and commercial photography imbued with a playfulness and energy that affirms the rapid success he has achieved in his field. His commissions have taken him into the bedrooms and closets of fashion kids such as Dylan Kawahara, associate designer at Opening Ceremony and blogger Leandra Medine, otherwise known as The Man Repeller. Perkel’s lens has animated and elevated their everyday objects, proving them worthy of their illustrious owners: bracelets, bongs and tiny toy dinosaurs radiate the eccentricity of their collectors and elbow for Perkel’s focus, angling to be brought to the attention of a larger public. Perkel is interested in photographing people above all else and his interest is so intense that these still lifes become convincing mirrors and extensions of their collectors, like a bionic part of the whole. Materialist commissioned Perkel to shoot his own most inspiring objects. Our writer Arianna Jacobs sat down with him over drinks near his East Village apartment to discuss the possessions that compel him to create.

Do you have a certain object – the camera would be an obvious one – that epitomizes your personality?

I can think of a bunch of them, for example this old blanket I pulled out two days ago to watch a movie in McCarren Park. It’s pretty awesome. It’s a felt blanket with images of Snoopy all over it. And I have all these trinkets because my father passed away when I was young. Every year my Mom pulls out this big box and it’s full of little things of his and she lets my sister and I take one of the things. It’s really cool. Also, skateboards are important. I collect all the boards I’ve ridden since I moved here. I have a stack. I’m thinking I will take them to a spot where people skate and give them away and photograph the kids I give them to.

Are there any skate photographers you admire?

There’s a bunch of people like Atiba Jefferson at the forefront of skate photography. When I grew up looking at skate magazines I always looked at Daniel Harold Sturt who would print his own photos. I was also inspired by Brian Gaberman, he would take this unconventional approach – doing platinum prints – this old method of photography and incorporating it into skate photos where it wasn’t used. Nowadays I don’t look at skate magazines much, but I definitely watch all the videos. Oliver Barton is another really good photographer. He’s from England, used a Hassleblad and brought European skate photos into America. With traditional photography, I also have so many influences and things I look at. Every week there’s another thing that I think might be some of the best stuff I’ve ever seen.

What have you seen recently in terms of non-skate photography?

There’s a book that’s been on my coffee table for the last month that I look at all the time, Atlanta by Michael Schmelling. He’s inspiring in the print aspect because he’s been so adamant about making books. He had access to southern rap culture, which at the time hadn’t been photographed as much. It’s this beautiful book of portraits of rappers and really niche things.

Why did you decide to move to New York when you did?

I graduated from school and was assisting a bunch of photographers in San Francisco and I set a date for myself. I always do this – set long-term goals. If I say to myself ’I want to move to this place in four years’, then you’re putting it together and if you have your eyes open to an idea – and that goes with anything – if you’re thinking about it, the opportunity will present itself. It’s when you’re not aware of what you’re trying for that it goes right by you.

For the full interview, order your own copy of Materialist here.

For more of Perkel’s images please visit: www.nathanperkel.com