Fashion

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Abstract Expressionism and the Cold War

On March 1, 1951 Vogue magazine published four pages of photographs by Cecil Beaton, in which two models showed the latest fashion creations in front of Jackson Pollock’s Lavender Mist, Number 28, Number 27, and Autumn Rhythm. The Vogue photographs exemplify the dichotomy of American culture in the 1950s: the contrast between Pollock’s paintings and the dresses emphasized the split between conformity within Cold War culture and the avant-garde modernism of post-war America. When Christian Dior introduced his New Look shortly after WWII, bringing back the corseted hour-glass-figure look, as well as lavish skirts and excessive fabrics, he undid the Chanel revolution of the comfort of jerseys and slacks. The fashion industry seemed to return to pre-WWI bourgeois values and tastes. Beaton’s photographs of the Spring-ball gowns portray a type of the post-war woman: an apolitical upper-middle-class consumer socially integrated in post-war conformity.
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Claus Jahnke CollectionClaus Jahnke’s Fashion Collection

I first met Claus Jahnke, the Vancouver-based fashion collector of German and Austrian fashion and fashion artefacts, in 2010, a few month before my first book on Berlin fashion, Berliner Chic, came out. He invited me to his house and showed me his incredibly rich collection of Berlin- and Vienna-made clothes from the 19th and 20th centuries that have migrated across the Atlantic ocean during the multiple immigration waves from Europe to North America.

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Vancouver Fashion Week (photo by K.Sark)Vancouver Fashion Week 2015

The SS16 edition of the Vancouver Fashion Week opened with local Vancouver designers, who showed a wide range of styles from casual to haute couture.  For 25 seasons, Vancouver Fashion Week has produced a runway that celebrates multiculturalism and emerging talent. Here are a few of the local Vancouver designers to look out for.
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Horst (photo by McCord)Horst: Photographer of Style

Between May 14 and August 23, 2015, the McCord Museum is hosting the Horst: Photographer of Style exhibition, the first major retrospective of Vogue fashion photographer Horst P. Horst (1906-1999). This touring exhibition is produced by London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
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Helmer Joseph (photo by K.Sark)Helmer

Helmer Joseph is a haute couture designer in Montréal whose creations blend the boundaries between art and fashion, and have been featured in various exhibitions and museums around the world, including the McCord Museum in Montréal and Musée de la civilisation in Québec City.
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HexoskinMontreal Fashion Innovation and Technology – Hexoskin

Pierre-Alexandre Fournier and Jean-François Roy co-founded Hexoskin in 2006, initially conceptualized for the production of personalized medical devices for biometric data. After experimenting with several devices and conducting study designs, they realized that in order to monitor, gather, upload, and store health data of vital signs (such as heart-rate, blood pressure, temperature, blood oxygen, breathing rate and volume, and breathing patterns) to track health patterns and eventually develop online health services, they needed an object that covers the upper body, and designed their first biometric shirt in 2010.
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Rad HouraniRad Hourani – Montreal’s Innovator in Paris

Rad Hourani is a Canadian designer, filmmaker, and artist, who launched his first unisex high-end brand in Paris in October 2007 at age 25. In his youth and creativity, he is the fashion world’s equivalent of Quebec-born filmmaker Xavier Dolan. In January 2013, Hourani became the first designer invited by La Chambre Syndicale de La Haute Couturein Paris to design a unisex haute couture collection. In the fall of 2013, Hourani presented his Seamless – 5 Years of Unisex exhibition in Montréal, which elevated him into the pantheon of Canadian and Montréal celebrities. He was kind enough to take some time to answer a my questions about fashion and Montréal:
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From Rationing to Ravishing, photo by Museum of VancouverFrom Rationing to Ravishing – Vancouver’s International Fashion Treasures

From Rationing to RavishingThe Transformation of Women’s Fashion in the 1940s and 1950s is the latest fashion exhibit at the Museum of Vancouver guest-curated by fashion collectors and historians Claus Jahnke and Ivan Sayers, on display until March 8, 2015.
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White Touchpad Dress, Barbara Layne Textile TechnologyMontreal Fashion Innovation and Technology – Barbara Layne

Montréal has been widely recognized as a fashion hub, a former fashion-manufacturing centre, and the home of many Canadian fashion retailers. But what is still relatively unknown is its emerging concentration on fashion and technology. Barbara Layne is the director of Studio subTela, part of the Hexagram – Centre for Research-Creation in Media Arts and Technologies at Concordia University, where she leads a creative team of engineers and textile artists who design interactive textile arts that combine traditional materials and digital technologies.

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Denis Gagnon, photo by Sebastien RoyDenis Gagnon

After the discontinuation of Montreal Fashion Week, one of Montreal’s leading designers, Denis Gagnon, presented his new collection in early October 2014, around the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. No longer restricted by the bi-annual production schedule, Gagnon reflects in this interview on the role the city plays in his work, the challenges of being a designer in Montreal, and the advantages of not having a Fashion Week.
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Women in Clothes posterWomen in Clothes and The WORN Archive – New Ways of Writing About Fashion

When smart and creative feminist women take the business of writing about fashion into their own hands – unrestricted by magazine advertisers who, as Gloria Steinem revealed, dictate the contents of women’s fashion magazines to sell products; not influenced by mainstream fashion media that perpetuates impossible and unreal standards of beauty; and unaffected by the patriarchal gaze and objectification of women’s bodies – we get not only a very different kind of literary style and genre, but also a new cultural perspective on fashion.

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Marilyn Monroe's at the Bata Shoe Museum (photo by K.Sark)Bata Shoe Museum

Toronto’s Bata Shoe Museum houses over 12,500 shoes and artefacts from around the world, including many shoes of notable people, including Marilyn Monroe, Margot Fonteyn, Margaret Atwood, the Dalai Lama, John Lenon, Madonna, and Shaquille O’Neal, whose legendary sneakers size 22 are on display in the permanent collection of the museum. 
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Street Style Series (Intellect Press)Street Style Series by Intellect Press

Intellect Press has expanded its fashion division to include, among other fashion publications, the new Street Style Series. The first two volumes are on Shanghai, conceptualized by Toni Jonson-Woods and Vicki Karaminas, with photographs by Fung Chan, and on Honolulu, conceptualized by Malie Moran, Attila Pohlmann, and Andy Reilly, who while teaching a summer course in Berlin on the history of fashion kindly invited me to do a guest lecture on Berliner Chic in 2011. Other forthcoming volumes include Havana and Sydney Street Style, and future volumes will also include Moscow Street Style.
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Dior at the ROM (photo by K.Sark)BIG Fashion at ROM

Since November 3, 2012, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) presents BIG, a fashion installation in the Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles & Costume on Level 4 in the
Museum’s Michael Lee-Chin Crystal. This exhibition is exclusively drawn from the ROM’s collection of nearly 50,000 textiles and costumes. Showcasing 40 artifacts from around the world, this unique exhibition includes objects assuming their BIG status in a myriad of ways. With some objects publicly displayed for the first time, the installation offers a fresh, new way of exploring the ROM’s renowned collections. BIG continues until Fall 2013.

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Fashion Pop (photo by K.Sark)Fashion Pop Montréal 2013

The 7th edition of Fashion Pop, an annual design competition of Montréal’s up-and-coming fashion designers was hosted at the Théâtre Rialto this year, which was a much better suited venue than last year’s Église Little Burgundy. Six young designers presented their first collection to a panel of industry judges. This year’s show featured models from Dulcedo Model Management. Here are the six designers competing this year:
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Musée du Costume et du Textile du Québec (photo by K.Sark)Musée du Costume et du Textile du Québec

As of April 2013, Montréal’s Old Port gained a new fashion museum that exhibits dress, costume, and textile artefacts from a vast collection of over 8000 clothes, from the mid-19th century to today, that have been worn, collected, and donated by Québecers. TheMusée du Costume et du Textile du Québec (MCTQ) was originally established in 1979 in the greater Montréal area as Musée Marcil in Saint Lambert, and relocated into the Marché Bonsecours, which until recently used to host Montréal Fashion Week.
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Montreal Fashion Week (photo by K.Sark)Montréal Fashion Week 2013 – Part 1

Montréal Fashion Week 2013 – Part 2

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Montréal Fashion Week. To celebrate this event in gratitude for the talent and contribution of designers to the fashion industry, Groupe Sensation Mode has invited designers to present their runway shows without participation or production fees. From September 3 to 6, over 20 designers will unveil their Spring/Summer 2014 collections. Here are some of the highlights:
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Grace Kelly Exhibition PosterGrace Kelly – From Philadelphia to Monaco – Exhibition at Musée McCord

From June to October 2013, Musée McCord in Montréal will house the personal clothes, accessories, letters, and photographs of Grace Kelly. The exhibition, entitled, From Philadelphia to Monaco: Grace Kelly – Beyond the Icon is produced by the Grimaldi Forum Monaco in collaboration with the McCord Museum and based on an exhibition by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
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Who is Who in the Montréal Fashion Scene

Montréal prides itself on its vibrant and diverse fashion scene and fashion production industry. Montréal designers usually get all the spotlight and coverage, but what about the other people who contribute to the creation and vibrancy of this scene? Here are some of the people who have a lot to do with making this city fashionable:
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Denis Gagnon – Pushing the Gender Boundaries

This season’s Fashion Week was your most radical, most playful, and perhaps the most spectacular runway show to date. You put male models in high heels, used theatrical make-up and synthetic wigs, you had trans-gendered models, and your show managed to push the gender and race boundaries in a way that was both stunning and entertaining. What were your ideas and motivations for this kind of spectacle?
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Marie Saint Pierre – 25 Years of Montreal Fashion

A native Montrealer (born 1961) and a graduate of LaSalle College (1986), Marie Saint Pierre received two grants from the Montreal Fashion Group upon graduation, and started her label in 1987. She was the first Québec designer invited to show her work at the Fashion Coterie in New York in 1989, and the first Canadian designer to present her collection in Paris in 1995. That year she was also awarded the Designer of the Year Award by Elle Québec.
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Montreal Fashion Week – Fall 2012, Day 1

Montreal Fashion Week – Fall 2012, Day 2

Montréal Fashion Week – Fall 2012, Day 3

Montréal Fashion Week – Fall 2012, Day 4

Montreal Fashion Week kicked off with an exhibition and slide show commemorating Marie Saint Pierre’s 25 years of designs.  The designer was present in the audience, along with fellow designers such as Denis Gagnon and Tavan & Mitto.
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Anastasia Lomonova

Anastasia Lomonova will be presenting her third collection at the Montréal Fashion Weekon Tuesday, September 4th, 2012. Born in Odessa, Ukraine in 1984, she moved to Cyprus with her family for several years before coming to Canada. After training as a visual artist at Ryerson University in Toronto, she moved to Montreal in 2007 began working in the fashion industry, and established her own fashion label in 2011. She has won several awards and been named one of Canada’s most promising young designers. Her designs are sold at Denis Gagnon’s boutique in the Old Port and online. The majority of her customers come from both Canada and the US.
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Ruins of Modernity

Maria Steiner is the designer behind the Viennese fashion label Ruins of Modernity. I first came across her designs last summer at the w?atf – What About the Future pop-up store at Pressgasse 28, near Naschmarkt, in Vienna. Organized by Sonja Weinstabel, w?atf showcases young and up-and-coming local designers’ work in Vienna. Maria Steiner’s work stayed with me for a long time and her intriguing label begged to be examined.
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Tom Wesselmann and the Art of Colour

In collaboration with the Festival du Mode & Design, the museum hosted a Colour Block Party on Wednesday, August 1, 2012, inviting guests to visit the exhibition and attend a reception. Dress code: colour block! The sea of colours in the rooms complemented Wesselmann’s colour celebrations on the walls.
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Berlin Fashion Week 2012

AUGUSTIN TEBOUL first made a splash with their mystique and creativity last summer during the Berlin Fashion Week 2011, winning the SYFB award. This year, the two female designers are back on Berlin’s catwalk (July 4 – 7, 2012) with their signature aesthetic that arises from the conception of two contrasting personalities: German-born Annelie Augustin with subtle, minimal shapes and her sophisticated mind and French-born Odély Teboul, the rather chaotic, nostalgic crafts-woman.
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Monsieur Hubert de Givenchy – by Karim Zeriahen

The upcoming FIFA (International Festival of Films on Art) in Montréal (March 15-25) will  be presenting a great selection of art films, including Karim Zeriahen’s fashion documentary Monsieur Hubert de Givenchy (2011). The film tells the story of one of France’s leading couturiers who continually epitomized elegance and grace since the 1960s.
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Montréal Fashion Week 2012 – Part 2

Since being crowned “Canada’s Breakthrough Designer” at the 2011 Telio competition of Montreal Fashion Week, Earl Luigi has gone on to design, among others, a capsule collection in collaboration with the Japan Love Project – an art show to raise money and help rebuild Japanese communities affected by last year’s tsunami. He has also ranked among the top 20 finalists in the London-based international Hand and Lock embroidery competition. Now in his final year at Kwantlen Polytechnic University where he is completing a Bachelor of Design, Fashion and Technology.
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Montréal Fashion Week 2012

Payam Tavan and Mike Mitto have been designing together since 1995. It was in Montreal that each established a solid technical base, before going on to perfect their knowledge in Europe. Earning a Master’s Degree from the Domus Academy in Milan, Payam Tavan also worked with the head stylist at Gianfranco Ferré, while Mike Mitto chose to pursue his studies at the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in Paris, where he went on to work at Chanel for a number of seasons.
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Tracing the Locations of Berliner Chic

Berliner Chic is a phrase associated with more than just the local fashion industry and its ready-to-wear clothing. Berliner Chic is a cultural concept that evokes history: the turbulent story of the efforts and strives of creative designers and manufacturers in Berlin, whose attempts to establish Berlin as a fashion capital have been continuously interrupted by politics, ideology, and war. It evokes the notion of quality (the tradition of handmade clothes) and a certain urban flare that persists to this day in the contemporary fashion scene.

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Jean Paul Gaultier à Montréal

Since the late 1980s, Jean Paul Gaultier enchanted the fashion world’s imagination with his witty and provocative attitude and humour towards fashion and sexuality, earning himself the notorious nickname l’enfant terrible of the fashion world. His visions of women (and men) in exaggerated cone bras and his reinterpretations of traditional corsets, epitomized by the costumes of Madonna’s 1990 Blond Ambition Would Tour, captured theZeitgeist of the 1990s, with its changing attitudes towards gender roles, fashion, sexuality, and society in general.
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Berliner Chic – One Year Later

Berlin is the city for new and non-traditional media. It is becoming increasingly apparent that just as for city-guide publishers, it may be a futile project to put anything about Berlin in print. The city changes daily, renaming its streets and metro stops, replacing old buildings and establishments with new ones, and generally moving the sand from one “beach-bar event” to another.

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Helmut Lang – Deconstruction of Fashion

The Viennese fashion designer Helmut Lang stopped his fashion career in 2005 to concentrate on his artistic pursuits. His third solo exhibition, entitled “Make it hard” was shown at The Fireplace Project gallery in East Hampton  July 22 – August 8, 2011.
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Anna Aichinger

Anna Aichinger is a Viennese designer, who studied at Vienna’s University of Applied Arts, and established her label in 2003. Her designs stand for elegance, quality, femininity, and empowerment. Her clothes are sold at different boutiques in Vienna and presented at Paris Fashion Week twice a year. She believes that “fashion has to highlight the woman” (not vice versa), and that “one should look a woman in the face first, then notice her dress.”

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Fröhlich – Happy Fashion

Gabriele Rigby created her fashion label Fröhlich in 2009, and opened her store in Zieglergasse 68, in Vienna’s trendy 7th district in 2010. “Fröhlich” means “happy” in German, and stands for hand-made, original, individual, comfortable, and multi-functional clothes for women. The name also conveys positive, good feeling, and symbolizes “clothes made with love and dedication,” spreading good energy and thoughts.

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MILCH Eco Fashion from Vienna

Cloed Priscilla Baumgartner is the clever and stylish designer behind the eco-friendly label MILCH, and the owner of YPPIG Eco Fashion Showroom at Yppenmarkt, a trendy marketplace in Vienna’s 16th district. MILCH was established in 2000, and symbolizes the recycling cycle of nature (transformation from grass to cow to milk).

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Berlin Fashion Week 2011

The 9th Fashion Week in Berlin (July 5-10, 2011) revealed the new Spring/Summer 2012 collections at a new location on Strasse des 17. Juni, with the main entrance across from the Brandenburg Gate (also known as the Fan-Mile during the World Cup public viewings). The key players of the Berlin fashion scene who were invited to present in the main tentthis year included: Michael Michalsky, Michael Sontag, Vladimir Karaleev, Katja Will (C’est Tout), Iris van Herpens, Lala Berlin, Marcel Ostertag, Kaviar Gauche, and others.
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Kaviar Gauche Berlin

Designers Johanna Kühl und Alexandra Fischer-Röhler studied together at Berlin’s ESMOD fashion school and established their label Kaviar Gauche Berlin in 2003. They opened their flagship store in Berlin, at Linienstr. 44, in May 2010.
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Visions & Fashion – Exhibition at the Kulturforum

Just in time for the Berlin Fashion Week starting next week, the Lipperheide Costume Library at the Kultuforum at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin opened its new exhibition, entitled “Visions & Fashion: Images of Fashion 1980-2010” on display from June 30 until October 9, 2011.
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Denis Gagnon Interprets Alice in Toronto 2011

Every age has to reinterpret its own myths anew, to re-infuse the classics with a contemporary flare and life, and to re-imagine its own heroes and heroines as contemporary. Baz Luhrmann did it with Romeo and Juliet (1996), Tim Burton with Alice in Wonderland (2010). Now Montréal’s most celebrated fashion designer Denis Gagnon is back with a tribute to the girl who takes on Wonderland and its classic absurdities, a girl who stands up to the Red Queen, tames Bandersnatch, rescues the Mad Hatter, and slays the Jabberwocky.

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Berlin-Avantgarde – Art, Fashion & Interior Design

Berlin-Avantgarde, located in Nollendorferstr. 11/12 in Schöneberg, is an art gallery, lounge, fashion and design store, as well as a platform for contemporary artists and exhibition space for charity auctions and art shows. Established in September 2010, it was conceptualized to be avant-garde, creative, and open-minded, and to present contemporary ways of combining arts with pleasure (as the website states).
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S.Wert Design – Urban Stories

S.Wert Design began with a research project of Fernsehturm graphics in 2001, which turned into the book publication Von der Partei zur Party 1969-2003 – Der Berliner Fernsehturm als grafisches Symbol (2003), by Dirk Berger, Ingo Müller, and Sandra Siewert. I met with the Swiss graphic designer and architect by training, Sandra Siewert, who came to Berlin in 1992 from Basel, and has been translating Berlin’s surfaces and façades into her graphic designs.

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c.neeon

c.neeon are Berlin-based designers Doreen Schulz and Clara Leskovar. Doreen comes from Thüringen (in the former East) and Clara is from West-Berlin. They met at fashion school, Kunsthochschule Berlin Weißensee, where Clara studied textile design and Doreen fashion design. They began to collaborate in their third year, and found their label in 2004. Already in 2005 they received their first fashion award at the Hyères Festival International de Mode et Photographie in southern France. In 2006, the Berlin Kunstgewerbemuseum organized an exhibition of their collection.
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Hypnosis Berlin

HYPNOSIS-berlin are the Berlin-based designers Niklas Kauffeld and Matthias Jahn. Originally from Kassel, they reunited in Berlin in the early 1990s and found their label in 2006, and have been presenting their collections at international fashion shows since 2008. I visited them in their atelier and show room in Friedrichshain.
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Natascha Loch – Berlin fashion designer at work

Natascha Loch is a Berlin fashion designer who specializes in knit-design. Born and raised in Eckenhaid, near Nürnberg, she moved to Berlin in 2001 to study fashion design.  She established her own label in 2006. Since then, she has created more than six collections and has been participating at major fashion shows. Her designs can be purchased at several stores in Berlin and Vienna.
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F.C. Gundlach and the Modern Woman on the Street

As Perry Anderson pointed out, “German culture in the past third of a century has been distinguished less as a matrix of ideas than of images” (Anderson, “A NEW GERMANY?” April 2009). With the explosion of visual culture and new media over the past century, his claim is almost self-evident, yet the question becomes then, how is this matrix of images constructed, and what kinds of narratives do those images create? Capturing images of fashion and film for popular magazines of post-war Germany, F.C. Gundlach’s photographs have no doubt become part of this visual matrix.
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Why Marc?

In today’s brand-saturated media world, brand loyalty is perhaps an outdated concept, and as in the case of technology brands, a futile and expensive project. But for those of us raised to appreciate quality over quantity, research the best of the best on the market, and to stick with our choice in a code of honour and loyalty that perhaps seem somewhat old-fashioned, there is a certain satisfaction in identifying with the things we like. So here are some of the things I found in my fashion research, and the reasons why Marc Jacobs is the man.

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Denis Gagnon at Montréal Fashion Week / Semaine de la Mode 2011

The 2oth anniversary of the Montréal Fashion Week (Feb. 7-10, 2011) brought great shows and organizational improvements. The shows were spaced out in one hour blocks, which allowed more time for setting up the show and less delays, the press access and registration was done more efficiently, and the spaces of the Marché Bonsecours building were utilized even better, by staging some of the shows and events in the cocktail room.  Many of the great designers from last year’s show returned, and many more got to present this time, including Montréal’s star, Denis Gagnon.

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Denis Gagnon – Fashion in Museum and on the Street

Quebec designer Denis Gagnon managed to take Montréal by storm, not only presenting at the Montréal Fashion Week and designing two lines for the fashion chain stores BEDO and ALDO, but also exhibiting his exquisite works at the Musée des Beaux-Arts. This type of cultural saturation and blurring of fashion boundaries points to a new age in fashion exhibition and consumption.

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When in Berlin… Fashion Highlights

Berlin fashion and design is booming. Here is a collection of links, images, and addresses of local shops and boutiques, organized by areas into “fashion walks.”

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Berlin Fashion Treasures in Vancouver

Berlin is chic. And as it turns out, traces of its style, culture, and history can be found all over the globe. Along with the pieces of the Berlin Wall that have been sold to amusement parks and museums around the world (Montréal has a piece at the Centre de Commerce Mondial), Berlin culture and fashion is beginning to transcend borders. Having established various “locationalities” of Berlin fashion in cultural establishments such as film, photography, music, museums, and fashion shows, I could not help but notice how far Berliner Chic stretches.

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Mademoiselle Coco

One is not born a woman, one becomes one. Simone de Beauvoir was right. And Coco Chanel showed us how it’s done. With style. Simone de Beauvoir was the first feminist to offer a sustained critique of fashion and femininity, commenting on the “woman of elegance” that “What she treasures is herself adorned, and not the objects that adorn her” (Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex,  1949, p.545).

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