Tag Archives: Fashion

Sakamoto Ryuichi x Luis Vuitton x Switch Magazine

Ryuichi Sakamoto Luis Vuitton Switch

Switch magazine recently featured a photo spread of Ryuichi Sakamoto for Luis Vuitton.

The photos show Sakamoto, looking particularly grim and serious, wearing pristine Vuitton gear, amdist a darkly saturated forest environment. Sakamoto as solitary wanderer, as “sticking out” from the environment to such an extent that he manages to blend back in. Notice how the color of his suit so adequately matches the water behind him as he looks out, looks away from us, transfixed in thought. Also, the color of his hair seems to blend well with the silver sheen of the water.

Sakamoto’s stance, as well, shows us a stern confidence, a calm seriousness. The suit, perfectly fitted to his stance and posture, shows the buyer a person in the midst of becoming. Moreover, a fitting outfit for the engagement of thinking.

An Interview with Japanese Eyewear Brand: Less Than Human

The Less Than Human glasses that I bought last year in Tokyo, Japan, are sitting now in a clean metal case on my bookshelf. I am saving them for those moments when I want to transform my appearance – a thick, black rimmed metamorphosis.

I save them now, in that clean metal case, as they are part of a new face, an “accessorized face,” a face-for-others, a less than human face, only to be brought out on the most important of moments.

I was recently able to ask the Less Than Human team some questions about their brand. Also, they graciously sent me two beautiful promotional pictures of their Autumn/Winter 2008 collection. The pictures are posted above and below are for your viewing pleasure.

LESS THAN HUMAN: 3 Questions

1. Why should people wear Less Than Human glasses? That is what makes your glasses special?

We regard an eyewear not only as an instrument to remedy person’s eyesight (at least in western sense of value) but also as an important element which makes vivid impression at a central part of each one’s face.
In other words wearing an eyewear can be said to be an expression of mind which tells the personality.
Our originality spontaneously appears from our insight, or sometime is inspired by various cultures. LTH set each collection theme affected or organized by complex aggregation every collection show. Our eyewear design, function or coloring reflects our theme or own world view. Not to mention we are happy to be received highly, that is, our collection is just received to be “excellent as an eyewear”, “beautiful as a color” or “unique as a form” but also for the reason we are unaware of, ‘Wearing LTH eyewear’ can make people have fun or cheer up through our unique communication as well as international performance.

2. What influences your design team?

What influences us specifically fluctuates from time to time. We are always looking for some interesting designs, gadgets or details like ‘Never seen it before’, ‘Must be interesting if there is’ or ‘It can be surprising if・・・・’. Of course, we do stick to product’s original role as an eyewear. However we can say that our position or attitude as LTH is affected by so called ‘PUNK’.
We would be happy if you can sense our spirit and paradoxical sincerity through our activity.
We hope you can sense LTH originality from our collection, drawing a line from a temporary fashion. Please do insist ‘My fashion and idea shall be beautiful in my own way even if it is different from others’. You should let yourself be what you are.

3. What is the future of Less Than Human?

When we look back to eyewear history in the future, we can be a significant standard as it is ‘before LTH’ or ‘after LTH’. We mean that we are the strongest brand in the world in an ironical way.
Here is a hidden theme on our next collection.

I AM RECOGNIZED AS THE STRONGEST BRAND IN JAPAN
I AM COMMONLY RECOGNIZED AS THE MOST POPULAR BRAND
I AM FURTHERMORE RECOGNIZED AS THE CHARISMATIC BRAND
I AM THEREFORE PRAISED AS GENIUS,
AND RECOGNIZED AS THE STRONGEST BRAND IN THE WORLD
BUT, I AM EXTREMELY AND ABNORMALLY IN DOUBT OF MY BRAND NAME

Please don’t understand this sentence literally. It’s just a morbid humor.

We hope that we will be able to produce the most featured and the most popular eyewear that makes people happy (in good meaning as well as in bad meaning).

—-

Thank you, Less Than Human for taking the time to answer my questions and provide stunning promotional pictures.

URL: Less Than Human

COMME Des GARCONS

comme des garcons

I found this Comme Des Garcons box discarded on the sidewalk on yesterday’s late-night stroll through the streets of a city in Chiba. Sadly, no clothes inside. Comme Des Garcon’s founder and leader is Rei Kawakubo, who, instead of studying fashion, studied philosophy and literature.

More about Rei Kawakubo and CDG:

Rei Kawakubo

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The Cobrasnake: Creating Culture

The Cobrasnake (Mark Hunter) takes photographs and makes T-shirts. His brand has expanded; he has infiltrated the clubs and the streets of the world. A casual glance at his website shows only the latest T-shirts available for purchase and a dense archive of Cobrasnake’s photographs. Said simply: the man is busy. The people caught in the lens of his camera are not models, posing professionally, but seemingly random people, musicians(or people who happen to be wearing Cobrasnake T-shirts). Through the photographs, a new culture is created and takes form. Cobrasnake is not simply taking pictures, he’s creating cultural identity. Take note.

In this developing age of openness to personal branding, the Cobrasnake’s idea of selling limited runs of handmade T-shirts and hitting the clubs to snap the young and the restless works well. Everyone, it seems, these days is using some kind of social media as an extension of their daily life. What Cobrasnake goes is gives people a base from which to view the blossoming of club culture, the fashion of a certain party or event and so on. As he says in an interview with MediaTemple, “When i started shooting nightlife it was funny because people were not used to having their photo taken by someone that wasn’t their friend. Now most people want as many people as possible to take their photo.”

Gazing at the pictures on his website, we can see a myriad of “beautiful” people, enjoying themselves or at least being out, being seen. They do not possess the lifeless “looking past the camera” gaze that many professional advertisements rely on, but offer a more personal view of the scene. Some of them are almost inviting, comforting. After spending enough time clicking through the photo albums, you, too, may be enticed by the idea of joining the social enterprise that Cobrasnake offers. Or…

One Twitter user, wrote, “Not sure if he hates the Cobrasnake due to hatred or jealousy.” as his tweet. Perhaps this is the feeling that many viewers of the brand experience. The Cobrasnake, by showing you what is fashionable, what is happening in the “hot spots,” may make you realize how actually detached you are from those scenes. Wanting to leap into the scene, but unable to press beyond the computer screen. Meanwhile, somewhere, maybe right now, The Cobrasnake is plotting, working, selling, and enchanting folks with an invitation to transform themselves into a new person.

Links for more information on this enterprise:

The Cobrasnake (Official)
Cobrasnake Interview
Cobrasnake on Wunderbuzz
Cobrasnake Interview on The Brilliance

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Neither: Samuel Beckett

patched

Yesterday I made a viral video reading of Samuel Beckett’s poem “Neither.”
It is silent. I had originally recorded myself reading the poem and layered it over the top of the video, but decided against inserting it into the video. Watching it silently after reading the poem left an interesting resonance, which hopefully you will appreciate.

To put you in the context, I will provide the poem for you:

Samuel Beckett: Neither

to and fro in shadow from inner to outer shadow

from impenetrable self to impenetrable unself
by way of neither

as between two lit refuges whose doors once
neared gently close, once away turned from
gently part again

beckoned back and forth and turned away

heedless of the way, intent on the one gleam
or the other

unheard footfalls only sound

till at last halt for good, absent for good
from self and other

then no sound

then gently light unfading on that unheeded
neither

unspeakable home

————-

The content of the video is a men’s large size dress shirt that I hand painted.

The link provided will take you to my Vimeo page. Thank you for watching.

Samuel Beckett: Neither

Voids of Concealed Exposure: Evening Sartoriology

Issey Niwa

Mutants

Our bodies blend in and at the same time seem to stick out. We cover our bodies in layers of buttons, zippers, belts, beads, metals and cloths of all sorts. This strikes me as slightly odd. I can see the function of covering the body for social reasons and to protect the body from the woes of weather, but we have gone further than this. We have really entered into new territory by attaching words, brands and coordinated colors to the surface of our body. For whom? Us humans like to dress-up and down, we are on some level mutable. In fact, transformability is expected. How dare I go to work for one week wearing the exact same clothes? After around day three, especially with the blossoming of spring and its tendency to carry scents, things may start to get a little icky.

Cleaning and Revealing

We clean ourselves with soap, apply lotions, creams, gel for our hair and what not. Most of the time we seem to be hiding the human side of us that we truly are. We want to play the games of social life, it is these games that we are almost compelled to take part in, and let’s face it, they are quite enjoyable. Sometimes, the human side of person is exposed. From a distance the person across the way pulls something out of their nose, looks at it and rolls it up in a tissue. This act of revealing is humbling while, at times, terrifying. It seems hard for us to see other people as they truly are and most of the time, I think we would prefer to keep that distance. Any way of speaking about a person changes the image of that person and shuffle the thoughts around a bit, let them go where they may and see how they might change. We all stir the waters.

Tactile and Phantom Emulation

The clothing that the other wears is not only apprehended visually, but sensually as well. The other comes to us in patterns and angles, voids of concealed exposure or well-crafted made-up faces. We seem to be hovering in some in-between plane of existence, caught up in the images seen and crafted through the tongue, carrying around the words of others and the unspoken bodies of others as well. What I mean is that even the movements of our bodies do not seem to be wholly our own. How easy it is to fall into perfect stride with others while walking in the city. Or, we may study the way a person’s hand is poised at their side only to find some time later that we, without our knowing it, have begun to poise our hand in the same way. How easy it is to rest one’s hand on the table in the same way as the person sitting across from us.

Vortexuality

We are like walking vortexes of pulsating…something…Again, drifting in this in-betweenness, this gray space of crystal clear sociality. There are habits and routines, schedules and things that we do. There is casual conversation and posturing. It is morning and the rain has cleared, although the sky is still wet and the puddles still patch the ground. The birds are perched in perfect formation on top of the building. They don’t move. “Are they crows?” he asks. “I’m not sure.” I reply and this time I look with more intensity craning my head just a bit, just the right amount. “Swallllloooowwwsss.” He slowly states, confident and sincere. We turn around and take a few steps away as others approach.

The Secretive Gaze of Chloe Sevigny and Tadanobu Asano

The image above is of Tadanobu Asano and Chloe Sevigny for Uniqlo’s Spring 2008 UT collection. “UT” is, as stated on Uniqlo’s website, “a limited edition collection of t-shirts designed by renowned artists, designers, photographers, etc.” What interests me today is this UT publicity photograph and what it might reveal to us. That is, what emerges in an attempted reading of this image?

Voyeuristic Realization of Irrelevancy

The perspective of the photograph is voyeuristic. One look at where their eyes are pointing tells us that they do not notice us, but it is we who notice them. In short, they are noticeable, more noticeable than the viewer. Meanwhile, the averted gaze complements the body language (their hands are perfectly positioned) in an almost filmic moment – the witnessing of a happening. While Sevigny obviously is gearing up or is in the process of telling Asano a secret, his eyes ambiguously look the other direction. Is he looking at the source of the secret or pretending to look somewhere else while secretly wanting to view the secret? From our perspective, this is hard to determine. The viewer is catching this scene from the angle of an as-of-yet irrelevant yet fascinated (by this couple) bystander. The capturing of this moment is the moment of, as John Berger may say, envy. That is, we are on the periphery of a secret yet visually obvious verbal exchange, wanting to enter the space of the secret, wanting to emulate the pose and poise of the couple. The models exude the kind of situation that one could be in only if one enters into the UT mode. However, whatever the lifestyle tropes for that mode are, they too, are ambiguous.

Pose

Asano, as man, in this photograph receives the information from Sevigny with a calm yet interested demeanor. He is also well aware of social-etiquette and visibility as is obvious by his meticulously set hair and formal almost reverent stance (the grizzled facial hair as well, perhaps). Sevingy, on the other hand, as woman, seems to be the Serpent, the instigator or the gossiper – the seductive counterpart to Asano’s expressionless gaze (loosely flowing hair, sleeveless shirt). I am not sure as to the symbolic relevancy of Sevigny’s tied t-shirt, but, if anything the pattern of the rippled fabric creates a spectrum branching out from the knot pointing the eye to Asano’s t-shirt. However, at the same time, the knot acts as a fashion point which draws the eyes down, suggesting the ability to freely transform the t-shirt as one wishes and still retain a stylish presence.

Ambiguous Lifestyles and Reproducibility

At this point, we realize that we have not really even noticed (or, if we have noticed it has not pushed our buttons) the actual design printed on the t-shirt. Probably, we have taken account of the colors and how they contrast with the skin of the models and the soothing background color, but the printed design doesn’t seem to be of much importance in the overall structure of this photograph. I am tempted to say that we are not supposed to necessarily care about the content of the t-shirts in this photograph. What should be most striking is the image of the people represented, the societal tropes and lifestyle image, which they display and how the viewer interacts with them in relation to his or her own life. The viewer as irrelevant but through the sartorial transformation, able to gain relevancy…

I tend to shop at Uniqlo once every two or three months out of convenience of location and reasonably priced dress shirts, but must admit to not being familiar with most of the artists that participated in the UT design project. I can see this kind of collaboration working in two ways. The first, would be the exposure of relatively unknown artists into a more socially visible medium. That is, transforming their obscurity into consumability. Second, I can see the degradation of the value of that art as it becomes a reproducible consumable item. Again, I’m drawing from Berger (and Walter Benjamin): The transformation of the original into a printable commodity changes something (aura) in the magic of the original piece of art by virtue of its immediate accessibility and reproducibility.

Two Questions

What are your thoughts as to the structure and semiotics of this photograph? How do you read this particular publicity image?