TAIPEI FASHION WEEK SS2021 – RE:CONNEXT

In the hopes to reconnect people during these uncertain times through the art of fashion, as well as present the industry with digital experience concepts to inspire the future of fashion show events, this year’s Taipei Fashion Week SS 2021 RE:CONNEXT brought together the classic aspects of a conventional fashion show with a number of virtual, interactive elements.

Taiwan is a country mix of cultures and talented designers who have often studied abroad in New York, Paris, and Italy. As 2020 had an unusual beginning: the energy crisis, global warming, and a worldwide pandemic that has not only created social distances between humans but also redefined how we communicate. Designers remain true to our heritage, returning here to showcase their dazzling and original contributions to a global fashion language.”
Many of designers are taking humanity as its concept, exploring nature, sustainable textile, and the post pandemic complex matters.

 

#Damur works with textile manufacturers and chemical plants to create water-proof, light and foldable clothes made by grade P2-rated protective medical materials. “We add houndstooth prints, denim flash prints, animal prints on to the non-woven fabrics with 3D printing technology to broaden the use of medical fabrics. These garments will have diversified uses, including travel and in-flight wear.”

“With the advancement of digital technology and materials, we can produce excellent products everywhere. Designing a piece of garment is actually about designing the language of a society. The important key is to find a community that recognizes and resonates with your language or perspectives,” stated Damur Huang as he prepares for his #kiosk project that aims to “up-cycle” clothes.

 

Stephane Dou and Changlee Yugin, a rare designer duo, is a brand known for many firsts in Taiwan, including a large concept store in the alley of Taipei’s Chung Shan North Road in 2003 and being the first to initiate gender fluidity in Taiwan’s fashion scene. This year marks the brand’s 25th anniversary. For them, the brand is one that comes into maturity, becoming a brand that knows what it wants, what it does not want, and what responsibilities it has. DOUCHANGLEE’s 2021 Spring-Summer collection takes the palette of black, white, hemp, denim and neutral colors such as tones of stone, moss, and cement. “We like natural fibers and we mix them with high-tech materials to make our garments more comfortable and structured.” The play of sporty and luxurious elements symbolizes a mixture of values.

 

Founded by Jill Shen in 2017, the name Seivson is derived from two French words – Nos and Vies that mean we and inspiration. Seivson’s logo is adorned by a small screw bolt, signifying the pursuit of perfection in details. The designer contemplates deeply on the functionality of her designs. For the 2021 Spring-Summer collection, Jill Shen plays with Hermes carre and the Burberry trench to portray a story from the end of century. Her inspirations came from her dreams and her observations about society: In a theatrical style, she uses multiple looks for daily wear, illogical and oversized clothes. For the fashion show, Seivson collaborated with floral artists to create a stage with withered plants to portray the imagery of apocalypse. Seivson uses the environmental friendly elements and materials, plays with the eco- friendly fabric and naturally-dyed techniques in our new 2021 series. Expressing through Seivson’s signature print developments and the pattern cutting constructions, fusing the design and art energies, Seivson considers the practicability and uniqueness of how a garment can be. Speaking out the reflection of environmental sustainability through the designs.

 

“The more you stay true to your roots, the more globalized you become.” This is one of the values Justin Chou believes deeply in his creative process. He is very skillful in mixing and deconstructing elements of East and West. Luxxury Godbage, a sub label from JUST IN XX, offers products from reusing and upcycling materials, second-hand garments, used accessories and vintage pieces. To Kuo, it’s sort of like molecular cuisines. Kuo feels the idea of luxury is time – how to express craftsmanship in fast fashion. We may not need massive clothes. We need clothes with meaning, stories, and crafts. He says: “During this time, I had time to think. Being a part of fashion, what can we do to minimize waste and pollution? This is an issue that we all have to think about, not just the fashion industry but everyone on this planet.”

 

Founded in 2011, Dleet started as a designer for menswear. Upon demands by female consumers after its initial success, Dleet launched its womenswear which rapidly became the main business for the brand. In the beginning, Dleet was a small label showcased in a friend’s boutique.
By chance, Dleet participated in a joint event for local rising designers at Eslite Tun-nan. In the 2-week event, the brand received overwhelming responses. Until this day, Dleet has a strong client base in the Eslite stores with loyal followers. The 2021 Spring-Summer collection takes the theme of dual personalities, interpreted by layering and mixing two individual styles, such as uneven sleeves and collars. His garments are known for sleek lines and high wearability, Dleet has very high aspiration for Taipei Fashion Week. He says: “I hope it would be very energetic and free from boundaries – an event that is not limited to local fashion and culture, but more global in its outlook.”

Just like an epic poem, after the setting from earlier chapters, the story of Shiatzy Chen evolves with richness, broadness, and imageries. As a pioneer for Taiwan’s fashion brand. Shiatzy Chen was one of the first brands that has successfully established itself in the Paris fashion scene. Founder Wang Chen Tsai-Hsia speaks of the brand’s future plans for the international market with lights in her eyes. Starting with pattern-making, selection of materials to making of embroideries, all the processes have become globalized: patterns made in Paris, fabrics from Milan, and embroideries that combine aesthetics of the East and the West. The embroideries are developed by Wang Chen Tsai-Hsia, utilizing techniques and advantages of European court garments, Suzhou embroideries, Miao embroideries, and more to make the ultimate creations. “The key to luxury products is the commitment. When we are committed, we can embark on a road less traveled.” The theme for 2021 Spring-Summer collection is “Circular Journey”. It’s a part of the brand’s mission to expand on the richness of Chinese culture. Although fashion is an industry based on constant changes, Wang Chen Tsai-Hsia has a longer vision. “When we have a global vision, we realize how small we are. That realization allows us to see a different world.”

 

Inspiring ourselves through sustainability, ecosystems, and ancient crafts to evoke a primitive wisdom of ancient times where humanity suffered but also persevered against the heavens. Land should not be forgotten and each article of this planet has nourished our cultures. We must seek within ourselves for an innate instinct and create value through recycling.

In the “PRIMITIVE SENSE” themed exhibition, we showcase two design teams : SABRA ANDRE and Paru Cunuq as representatives of the aboriginal viewpoints.

The student team of the Taiwan contemporary aboriginal experimental clothing course at Shih Chien University also woven out with their own design language. The beautiful vitality dedicated to this land. Paru Cunuq is committed to the research of traditional fabric crafts, and has long invested in the teaching of native tribal crafts and industrial development, sorted out the development context of aboriginal clothing culture, promoted the development that emphasizes differentiation, and conveyed more precise lichen decoration culture to the indigenous The balanced development of fabric culture in various regions is regarded as the ambition to invest in the industry, and the pattern record and fabric experiment are regarded as the brand purpose.

SABRA ANDRE presents us the first part of the Taitung trilogy this time. Designer ANDRE transformed the childhood memories of Taitung into bright prints and decorations on clothing. The strong colors are impressionist canvases spread out under the sun in Taitung. All the packages displayed are hand-made with the elderly , contributing to the inheritance of Taitung culture. Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines is matched with the second-year clothing design course of the Fashion Design Department of the Shih Chien University, aiming at the in-depth field adjustment and reorganization of the aboriginal culture, integrating the logic of clothing fashion and the use of different materials to produce experimental clothing.

 

 

TAIPEI FASHION WEEK SS21

 

This is an era of rebirth and innovation, and Taipei Fashion Week returns this year with a whole new look. The Digital Terminal, which many will transit, uses an immersive theatrical experience to communicate the designers’ creative thinking. The Fashion Mart provides Taiwanese designers with a window to the consumer market. And for international buyers stuck elsewhere, an interactive matchmaking service in a novel digital format helps with business opportunities, marking a new approach for international fashion.
We cordially invite you to join us for this annual fashion extravaganza, and to be warmed by Taiwan’s glow as it sparkles on the international fashion stage.
– Lee Yung-te Minister of Culture

 

 

The pinnacle of the 2020 Taipei Fashion Week SS21 was the SS Launch Party hosted by the Ministry of Culture at the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park on October 6th. A total of sixteen fashion shows by Taiwanese designers, two themed shows (Themed Exhibition for Materials & Themed Exhibition for Indigenous Peoples’ Culture), and over forty designer exhibits took place over the course of five days.

The theme of “Re” will connect all the inspirations and creative concepts found throughout the Taipei Fashion Week. The Chinese title of Re:connext leaves a blank space that is open to individual interpretation so the audience may express their own attitudes toward fashion. The English title Re:connext is the combination of “connect” and “next,” a hope for the fashion industry to reconnect on a personal and industrial level following the pandemic and a broken supply chain. The fashion show hosted by the Taipei City Government is titled Re:PLAY to redefine the possibilities of design through sustainability, respect, technology, innovation, urban vitality, and interdisciplinary integration

 

Fashion by Primitive Sense

 

Renown designer Yen Po Chun and his team will be responsible for the key visuals. The fundamental element of fiber will be combined with situational backgrounds of a digital era to create an image of culture and technology intertwined. Chun uses vibrant colors as metaphors with blue signifying elegance and personality while red represents passion and sensibility; the two colors connect sensibility with reason. The shifting landscape poses a challenge and we must adapt accordingly. As the primary platform for Taiwan’s apparel industry, how can the Taipei Fashion Week incite new discourse? How will fashion be redefined and how will the industry be reborn?

 

Virtual Escape

 

The year 2020 had an unusual beginning: the energy crisis, global warming, and a worldwide pandemic that has not only created social distances between humans but also redefined how we communicate. Quarantine, telecommuting, face masks, and temperature checks are fictional measures that have now become a part of our daily lives. The whole of humanity is at the crossroads as the unusual has now become the usual while existing norms are rendered obsolete. A shared belief system woven into the fabrics of society throughout the passing of time is now disintegrating and crushing the old world order. This is a sign and a revelation: nature is fickle and this time, the human race has been caught off guard. Now, more than ever, we will be exploring our relationship with the planet Earth, with others, with nature, with organic matters, and inorganic matters; the complex web of interrelationships have never been so provoking.

 

Fashion by Weavism

 

For the Taipei Fashion Week only, the Multi-Showcase Exhibition Hall at the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park will be transformed into the Digital Terminal, a large floating island. Each and every visitor will become sky walkers that will be led on board by dedicated navigators after their identity is confirmed. The visitors will embark on a journey into a highly-developed dystopian society where conflicting elements of body and mind, the human and the mechanical, and reality and the virtual interweave. The world is filled with modified humans, fantastical creatures, supernatural devices, and extravagant apparel. Visitors will be able to experience the dystopian world for themselves, rewriting their stories and encountering surprises throughout.

Fashion by Allenko3

Digital Terminal is inherently a large imaginative space and each space can be further divided into multiple scenarios. Fashion houses can convey a message or display their artwork which could be outfits, textiles, images or sketches. We encourage brands to think outside of the box and showcase their own unique and untamed creativity.
Digital Terminal is a show for the Taipei Fashion Week that blends the virtual and the reality. The Digital Brands Exhibit will deliver an experimental immersive experience constructed by six outstanding designers and creators. The exhibit will take place in a dark venue and will be complemented with audio, projections, interactive technologies, and other forms of digital art. Available to the public throughout the entire day, the exhibit will combine the dynamic with the static. In this giant space, the lines between apparel and apparel, apparel and audience, and audience and others will be intentionally blurred, allowing the audience to roam freely within the flowing space as they get a closer look at the works and become a part of the Digital Terminal. Unlike conventional fashion shows and generic exhibits, each designer has been given a space where they can unleash their creativity and where their models can walk freely among the audience. The audience can interact with the designer and get an up-close look at the collection which will be complimented with installation art, audio, and visuals. The exhibits are open to the public for the entire day to help make fashion an accessible and tangible construct rather than a distant concept.

 

Fashion by C Jean

DEATHBYROMY BY JOSEF JASSO

Dress by House of Mua Mua, Head-piece and crucifix by Mariana Harutunian

DeathByRomy

Photographer + Creative Direction Josef Jasso

Styling + Creative Direction Adrian Joseph

Style Assistant Carlos Posadas

Makeup director Nicky Andrea

Hair Stylist Ana Estela

Interview by Izabel Rose

Weird Brain Creation pvc plaid look, Boots by Dolls Kill

Singer, songwriter, and dark-pop provocateur DeathbyRomy pays attention to every last detail. She pours both pain and euphoria into her catchy but heavy music, pitting electronic melodies and propulsive beats against hypnotic vocals and deeply personal lyrics. Now 20 years old, the Los Angeles-born Romy Flores wrote her first song at age 5 and began releasing her music at 15, mining inspiration from the iconoclastic artists she was raised on (The Beatles, Björk, Kanye West, to name a few). With her 2018 debut album Monsters, she soon drew an avid following and found countless fans turning up to her shows adorned in her signature eye makeup. Her Capitol Records debut, 2019’s Love u — to Death EP, was short but sickly sweet, emphasizing her unique interweaving of rap boldness, electronic innovation, and raw rock ‘n’ roll passion. As Romy’s sound has taken shape, so has her DeathbyRomy persona: the Harajuku punk fashion, the corpse-like makeup, and her hard-earned, utterly badass confidence. Stay tuned for more new music coming soon.

How did you find out that you wanted to be an artist? 

I was raised in a home covered in art, by two people who were not only artists themselves but who honored and valued art in all mediums. My mom would sing all the time to me when I was little, and museums were a regular outings during my childhood. I started writing at five, but it wasn’t until I had experienced what I knew was real pain, did I know that I wanted to console and touch others who had felt the same. My best means to do so was through my art.

Where do you pull your musical inspirations from? 

My biggest inspirations are Bjork, Kanye West, Bring Me The Horizon, and Lady Gaga. But I pull my own inspirations to write from everything around me. From the void, to mania, to pain and love.

Describe the creative process behind your music? 

It constantly varies and is not limited to one set formula. I write everywhere. My favorite place to write is on the plane.

How would you describe your fashion aesthetic? 

hmmmm…bi-polar? Just kidding, Japanese Lolita meets goth hype beast and a sprinkle of Renaissance witch.

From the editorial shoot, which are your favorite designs?

I loved the Weird Brain Creations outfit best. I love her work.

Black Dress by Michael Costello, Glove by Mariana Harutunian, Earrings & Necklace by Coutorture

What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

To never take anything personally. To not let compliments and high regards to be the only reason I am happy with myself or the only thing that makes me feel good about myself. And in hand, to not let negative energy or comments about me be the reason that changes how I see myself.

What song(s) would you most likely sing in the shower?

Anything that allows me to belt because you sound better with the bathroom acoustics. Maybe “Cry” By ashnikko.

What’s to come from DeathbyRomy?

More music, and infinitely more life.

Queen of hearts dress by Helen Anthony, Jewelry by Couturtore

Kinga Trojan by Karl Simone

Hat & Pants by Gaucho, Shirt by Litkovskaya, Jacket by Guvanch

Photographer: Karl Simone, Stylist: Kevin Breen, Model: Kinga @ New York Models, Hair: Linh Nguyen @ See Management, Makeup: Mariko Arai @ The Wall Group using Nars, Casting: Jym Benzing, Studio: Blonde + Co

Bodysuit by Moncler, Shirt by AMI Paris, Shoes by Onlymaker, Hat stylists’ own, Pants by Laerke Valum

Bodysuit by Moncler, Shirt by AMI Paris, Pants by Laerke Valum, Hat stylists’ own

Suit and Shirt by Boss, Corset by Yaqkuoa

Suit by Emporio Armani, Sweater by Missoni

Hoodie by Balenciaga, Dress and Shoes by Tom Ford

Top and Tights by MSGM, Dress by Drome, Tie by Tom Ford, Pants by Todd Snyder

Jacket and Scarf by Joseph Abboud, Shirt by Brunello Cucinelli, Hat stylists’ own

Dress by Victoria Hayes, Shoes by Pierre Hardy

Scarf by Hermes

COVER STORY: ORVILLE PECK

Photographer: Emma Craft @emmacraft
Stylist: Angel Emmanuel @angelemmanuel
Photo Assistant: Michael Decristofaro @m.decristo
Editor in Chief: Marc Sifuentes @marc.sifuentes
Creative Director: Louis Liu @herecomeslouis
Interview by: Dustin Mansyur @dmansyur

With his fringed masks, rhinestone suits, and shoegazing lyricism, Orville Peck is every bit the part of “lonesome outlaw”. Reimagining tropes of tradition, Peck’s take on country music reinvents the genre as a decorated landscape ready for queer expression.

Orville Peck is a nomad. Like a cowboy on a cattle drive, home is an elusive feeling; the masked musician who’s been described as every imaginable synonym for “enigma” feels happiest hanging his hat just off the highway in a roadside motel. The open road is a part of his DNA, having traversed and inhabited several continents, countries, and cities as a boy. His incessancy for wanderlust belies a romantic narrative spun in the stories of his songs, lulling his listeners on a quixotic journey through a memoryscape evocative of another time and place.

Releasing Pony in March earlier this year, Peck’s sincere approach to his storytelling and lyricism is reminiscent of Lucinda Williams or Patsy Cline, intimate and unadulterated. His vocals are as hypnotic and coaxing as a desert oasis on Route 190 through Death Valley. Somewhere between the inexplicable pain of loss resides the unparalleled elation of love and lust. It is the proverbial longhorn skull and rose motif. As a queer artist who croons about gay hustlers or doomed love affairs, his sincerity is the foundation for his music’s transcendency, appealing to longtime country music fans while attracting a younger, more diverse audience to the genre. In an era demanding the commodity of content, Peck deciphers himself apart from the formulaic clout of music industry contemporaries through his visceral ability to be truthful. It is this vulnerability that cannot be faked nor bought, and an even rarer quality for a performer as sensitive as Peck, fearlessly weaving the stories of his experiences and muses into the embroidery of his album; Pony is forthcoming and unapologetic. While the illusion of his shrouded pageantry may have him pegged as the “musical outlaw”, coupled with the intimacy of his music, it creates a contrasting dichotomy that is equal parts mystifying and infatuating.

Ready to saddle up and lead a cavalry of change in the country music industry, IRIS Covet Book shares a conversation with the artist just before he embarked on the European leg of his tour.

Jacket from Screaming Mimi’s Vintage, Hat: Stetson, Gloves: Maison Fabre, Necklace: His own

Listening to your album, really took me back to my experience as a gay person of color who grew up in the rural Midwest on country music, struggling to find acceptance in the 500-person town I was raised in. Because of your music’s authenticity, one might easily assume you had a similar experience. Where are you from and what was your experience like growing up?

I mean I grew up in a bunch of different places, by the time I was in my early twenties I reckon 5 different countries and many many cities. I’ve lived in Africa, in Canada, in the States, and in Europe—so I moved around a lot. My parents were both from kind of humble beginnings and whenever they did kind of have any money they would put the emphasis on traveling and getting to go and experience new places and cultures. So I think I grew up with a pretty diverse view of the world, in general, but especially in music and art. And I think country music always connected with me because, not only did I love the instrumentation and the themes, but I also related to the environment that it’s set in. I was born and grew up in a desert area, so there were obvious connections to it. As a young gay weirdo, I was really drawn towards the campness of it, the bold storytelling, the theatrical nature of it, which also ran kind of congruent with a lot of sincerity, heartbreak and loneliness which are all kinds of things that I felt and I still carry around with me now.

It’s funny because country music has this stigma surrounding it that it’s supposed to be for well-adjusted conservative, aggressive, white men. It’s sad because like you said yourself, a lot of queer people of color or marginalized people that grow up in small towns feel outside of country music. But the stories within country music—even going back to artists like Patsy Cline—I think those stories speak clearly to people like us. I think also that’s why it’s so obvious that someone like Dolly Parton is such an icon for gay people because she’s someone that had to blaze her own trail and really really convince people to listen to her by dressing provocatively and wearing crazy wigs and essentially being, you know, like a drag queen. But, she could also write some of the most heartbreaking gut wrenching songs of our whole civilization. I think country music has always been written by outsiders and it’s always been for outsiders. I hope to help to break that stigma down because it’s not supposed to be only for white men in trucks or whatever.

How did you break into the music industry; was it something you always imagined you’d be doing?

I was a performer since I was about 10 years old. I started with acting and I was a dancer for a long time and I’ve always been a singer. There were always instruments around my house, I never had formal lessons but I taught myself how to play guitar and piano. I think I just always knew that I was going to be a performer in some way. I’ve been in a bunch of different types of bands all through my twenties, but I knew that I always wanted to make country music and I always wanted to really sing and I never had the confidence to do it for a long time. Then I took a break from music for about 6 years at one point and then when I came back to it I knew I wanted to do country music because it had always been in the back of my mind.

You’ve toured extensively with punk rock bands. Do you find a correlation between the genres and your approach?

Definitely, there’s a similar rebellion, of course. I think there’s a similar aesthetic in some ways. The punk that I grew up loving was early seventies kind of punk. Those people all had pseudonyms; they all had costumes that they wore. You know they spent more time on hair and makeup than most musicians probably do now. So I think that there’s a lot of correlations between country music which is essentially pageantry and drama mixed with vulturous sincerity and heartbreak and I think that that’s kind of what punk is too.

Shirt and Jeans: R13, Vest and Chaps from Screaming Mimi’s Vintage, Hat: Stetson, Boots: Star Boots

Returning to country music, did it feel like you were returning to your roots in a way?

What I do now feels so easy in a way because as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that it’s the easiest thing to just be yourself. The best qualities about you are the most sincere ones. Of course, I still struggle with insecurities about it and I have self-doubts, but the older I’ve gotten, it’s become easier for me. Even though I’ve been a performer for so long and been doing it as a job for a long time, I think this time I can really sit back and enjoy it for the first time because it’s become fun and easy to be myself.

You’re about to embark on your European Tour for “Pony”. You’ve described yourself as a “born drifter”, which kind of furthers the romanticism of your musical canon and persona. What is it about the open road or a nomadic lifestyle that calls you?

I’ve just always felt anxious. As I’ve said, I moved around a lot when I was younger, so I think the idea of moving to new places and kind of making your home wherever you are—that’s always just been part of me I suppose. I find it very hard to put roots down. Oftentimes I’ve tried to stay in cities for long periods of time and I’ve always kind of gotten anxious and not really known where my place is. Part of what appeals to me now is that I’ve learned to really find the adventure in it and not look at it as a downside. When people ask me where I’m from and I say lots of places, it’s not to be obtuse or enigmatic, it’s just because I genuinely feel like I have left little pieces of myself in all these different places that I’ve lived. That to me is so special because I can go back to those cities and feel like I’m right back at home in a way that I’ve gotten to meet incredible friends and family all over the world. So I think those are things that appeal to me about it. I’m just someone that’s never been able to sit still.

Do you feel most at home when you’re on tour?

Yes, I do. I definitely feel most comfortable. When I’m stuck in one city and I have a lot to do like I am right now— I’m about to leave in two days again for tour—but I tend to have the most anxiety and stress when I’m stuck in one place. I do feel at home on tour; I just feel at home when I’m traveling.

Pants: Gucci, Hat: Stetson, Gloves: Wing + Weft Gloves, Belt: Diesel, Belt Buckle: Stylists Own, Boots: Frye, Necklace: His own

What is your song-writing process? How often do you write? Is it an ongoing discipline or something you do only when you apportion studio time for it?

I’m kind of writing all the time. It’s all different. Sometimes it’s an idea just based around a concept for a song. Sometimes it’s based around a melody that I have in my head. Other times it’s based around one lyric or a line that I want to try to incorporate. Oftentimes I start from more of a visual or kind of an emotive place where I know what kind of vibe I want the song to be or what emotion I want to evoke for the person listening to it. Then I go from there by making it personal to me and hopefully telling a good story at the same time.

Pony was released in March earlier this year and received with splashy critical praise as well as excitement from your fans who’ve been waiting for it since your single release of “Dead of Night” in 2017. What are you most proud of about the album, and can you share any personal anecdotes from the recording process?

What I’m most proud about and just generally about the past year is that I’ve been able to express myself as an artist. That includes collaborating with people, which is something I never used to be very good at doing. I’ve learned in the past year to really embrace that. And I find it really fun and exciting now being able to work with people on videos, visuals, aesthetics, stylists… as an artist I think it’s really important. Then in addition to that, getting to do what I’ve wanted to do since I was little, which is to be a singer and really sing, and sing about heartache and things that are important to me and things that are sometimes difficult for me to sing about. I think the bonus of that is everyone enjoying it; it’s more than you could ask for and I find it very fulfilling.

I’m curious if you ever struggled with proclaiming yourself as a gay artist right from the start or did you ever feel that you would embark on your career and let it come out naturally? How important is it to your brand?

I’ve never struggled with it. I think it’s important to me and it’s also not important at all in a way. As an artist, if I’m going to write songs with any kind of authenticity they’re going to have to be from my perspective and my experiences. And my perspective and my experiences happen to be of someone who has been with men. To me it’s kind of a non topic in a sense, but not because I’m dismissive of it, but because to me I’m just following in the footsteps of every other singer and songwriter who sang about the people they were with and sang about their problems. I just feel like I’m being genuine to myself so of course it’s going to be about men if that’s who I’ve been with. So I think on one hand it’s a huge part of who I am, what I do, and what I sing about. I’m completely proud and open about being gay and being part of that community, but I also think it could hold just as much weight if it wasn’t my background either.

What has been your greatest internal or professional challenge that you’ve had to overcome as an artist thus far?

My biggest challenge I guess has been trusting and really believing in myself I guess, which is something I learned through the help of other people a lot more in the past couple of years. I always was a creative child. I knew what I always wanted to do; I knew that I could write songs and I knew I could perform and make people smile and clap. But I think I still had a lot of barriers and defenses up,and in some ways I still do. I just never had much opportunity to really collaborate with people growing up, so that’s been a big learning curve for me. It’s interesting because I used to think that opening myself up to working with other people or even really opening myself up to sharing personal things about myself through my art would in some weird way dilute me as an artist. But it’s only just really enriched me as an artist and made it far more exciting. That’s been a struggle for me but it’s been a nice struggle in a way — It’s important to be far more open than I used to be.

Vintage Jean Paul Gaultier top from Screaming Mimi’s Vintage, Hat: Silverado Hats, Gloves: Perrin Paris

Was there a defining moment in your career that proved to be a turning point or breakout moment that propelled you to the next level?

I think a lot of artists and creative people struggle with the fact of embracing that they’re going to do this for real or whatever. Like of course you have to supplement art with an income and usually that means working some job you’re not really interested in and that’s kind of soul sucking. But it’s also about a state of mind, just fully deciding one day that you know you are going to do it for real and you are going to own it. Even though I was a performer since I was very young, I still had those fears. It wasn’t until maybe my mid-twenties that I decided that I’m only going to be an artist and everything else is purely to facilitate that. It’s just that mine is a change of mindframe and a “jumping-out-the-airplane” thing. You just have to do it.

Queer people working in media and entertainment have enriched the sector, and provided more representation for fans who identify with and relate to what you’re creating as an artist. When you were growing up, did you have any queer icons you looked up to?

Definitely, I was a fan of the obvious ones like David Bowie and Freddie Mercury. I grew up loving dance and theater so there was no shortage of queer icons in that world. But I also grew up with a lot of icons who weren’t queer, I never felt outside of those people being references or inspiration for what I do. I never let the fact that I was gay define anything about me as an artist. Of course it’s enriched me in lots of ways, but I never let it be a barrier.

Now that you have this platform and visibility, how do you hope you can influence a younger generation of LGBTQ fans through your music?

It’s really lovely when I hear from young queer or trans people that tell me I represent something for them in country music that they never thought was there, or that they never felt a part of. If I can be that for someone, then I feel completely honored and thrilled by that. I hope that people feel welcome to express themselves and be a part of anything that they feel they want to be a part of, and not feel like the color of their skin or their gender, sexual orientation, or anything else should limit them. I think as marginalized people we tend to have to stand on the sidelines and be a fan from a distance or feel like maybe we don’t belong. I hope it inspires people to take up more room and get on and be a part of it because it is part of them, it’s already part of them, and there’s no invitation needed.

You’ve mentioned in previous interviews the landscape of country music is diversifying to include many new types of sounds and voices. How important is it to you to expand the genre and/or to receive acceptance from the mainstream country music industry?

I think it’s important to me in the sense that country music has always been diverse and there’s always been people of color making country music, there’s always been gay people making country music. Unfortunately, those things haven’t been able to be very visible. So I think it’s been a long time coming now that those different perspectives in country music are visible. I think it’s happening quite quickly now, and those walls put up by industry people in mainstream country music are starting to crumble. We’re getting a lot of weird new voices in country music, some have always been there, but they’re starting to creep through the cracks now. I think that’s great because it’ll just start ending the stigma about who country music is for.

Shirt, Coat, Pants, Boxer Briefs: Versace, Hat: Stetson, Gloves: Lincoln, Boots: Star Boots

You’ve talked about your mask as having dual-purpose: an element of showmanship and a tool that allows you to be more raw / exposed as an artist. How did you arrive at the mask? Did you create the first one or did you work with a stylist or designer to engineer the look?

It’s all me and I make them. I think it was just my version of following in the footsteps of many country performers who had bold, camp, flamboyant visual imagery to their performance. There’s a huge lineage of that and a lot of them are very straight, conservative people in country music that would wear bedazzled rhinestone suits. Dolly Parton would wear 3-foot high wigs. It’s all in that sphere, so I’m definitely not the first person to do it. Maybe for newer country musicians it’s not as common, but that’s basically where I’m coming from.

Do you connect more with your audience because of the mask?

I think so. I think it eliminates a certain amount of pretense. I think it destroys the mask that people walk around wearing everyday, which you know, isn’t a real necessarily mask. I think it eliminates a lot of bullshit especially. It’s the same as when people feel so comfortable around a drag queen or someone like that. Something about it just puts people at ease and makes them feel like they can be comfortable and be themselves. That’s what I experience in my shows with people and they all look like they’re really connected to the performance because of it I think.

Jacket from Screaming Mimi’s Vintage, Pants: Gucci, Hat: Stetson, Gloves: Maison Fabre, Boots:Off-White, Necklace: His own

You’ve been described as a musical “outlaw” and the mask reinforces this idea. In a way it’s reminiscent of a bandana-wearing bandit hero, like Zorro or the Lone Ranger. Do you think your audience responds or relates to it because of this idea of a hero-like figure?

I think so. I think people project a lot of different interpretations of it. That’s what I love about it and that’s also why I hate to talk too much about it because I don’t want to put too much narrative on top of it. I actually like that people can have their own interpretation of it. Some people look at it and think of the Lone Ranger and then some people look at it and see an S&M mask and it’s like, well that tells me a lot about that person. That’s what I like about it—that it is open for interpretation. And it allows people to be involved in what I do. For a fan to feel involved in it and that they can get a piece of that too, then that is what you could only hope for as an artist. People not only enjoy what you do but they’re invested and they feel a part of it. Some of the musicians, visual artists, actors, filmmakers, and authors that I still respect to this day are people that made me feel like I had some ownership of what they did as well.

The dichotomy of being an openly queer artist while hiding your physical features is a striking juxtaposition. Do you think you’ll ever “out” yourself physically from under the mask?

I don’t know. To me I don’t feel like I’m hiding at all. I feel like I wear my heart on my sleeve in a lot of ways. We’ll see what that evolution is. At the moment I’m really happy just doing my thing as I’m doing it.

Your music explores the nostalgia of Americana and its sound. It’s a staple source of inspiration for many iconic popular country and folk-rock ballads. Having such a diverse international background, what inspires you most about Americana?

I think it’s the seemingly normality. I think Americana as we’ve been told to believe is apple pie. It’s very clean and neat with a picket fence. The reality of American culture is far weirder and darker than that at times. It involves a lot of trauma and craziness. I think that’s the part of Americana that I find far more fascinating. I think that is the real Americana. I always talk about how I love motels because the idea of this like chic version of a hotel that is on a highway and it’s very cheap, there’s no questions asked and sometimes people live in them for months at a time. That doesn’t even exist anywhere else in the world and that’s like a whole culture of America that is of its own. I find that really fascinating and I think the people and characters that inhabit those kind of worlds are really interesting.

Shirt from Screaming Mimi’s Vintage, Vest: Gucci, Jeans: R13, Hat: Stetson, Gloves: Agnelle, Belt: Kippys, Boots: Fyre

So many artists reinvent themselves over the course of their career. With your musical training, background, and musical influences being so diverse – Do you think you’ll stay exclusively a country music artist or begin to incorporate other sounds into your work?

I think I’ve always been kind of incorporating different sounds into it, but at heart I’m a country boy and I’ll continue to be a country musician. I think I’ll always try and push that to not leave it strictly in what other people’s idea of what country music is.

That darkness has, in recent times, become much more visible. Concentration camps have quickly become a new norm in America under the current administration. Trans rights have been challenged through rollbacks on protection for military service and healthcare provisions under the Affordable Care Act. Do you foresee this escalating its target on more LGBTQ+ people?

Unfortunately, I think I do. I think across the board not just with LGBTQ people, but also people of color, women, and marginalized people. In America we’ve been allowed to believe that things are changing but at the root of it nothing has been changing. Now that’s become more obvious to us and I think, strangely, not to sound flippant about it, but I believe that’s where this resurgence of cowboy aesthetic has actually come into play in our culture. To me being a cowboy has nothing to do with wearing a cowboy hat or being a rancher and roping cows or charging steers. I think being a cowboy is being someone who is intrinsically, innately on the outside of things and given a bad rap, maybe getting the short end of the straw, and forced to live on the outskirts of town. But instead of letting that be a negative, it’s about finding the power within that and the adventure and the freedom. The idea of getting on a horse and riding into the sunset, I think that sounds really beautiful for people like us right now where we can find our posse of rebels and cowboys, make our own rules and essentially live as outlaws. Those all sound like motifs and pastiche kind of ideas, but they do hold bearing. I think that is what being marginalized is about. It’s about not assimilating to the status quo, finding our community, our power, and charging ahead in the face of whatever. I think it’s a powerful thing, and I actually do believe that is why we’re seeing so much cowboy imagery in fashion and sub-culture and because there is something adventurous and powerful about that.

You alluded to this earlier in our conversation and in previous interviews drawn upon similarities between the Old West and the present state of affairs today saying, “We lived in a recent time when we hoped everything was going to be okay, that the powers that be were going to sort it out. But now everyone’s fending for themselves because they’re disappointed. Everyone’s on their own horse, doing their own thing.” So, if we’re all on our own horses, do you think we are equipped to become a calvary for change?

I think so. I do like to believe that. Listen, I have lived in countries other than America where I have seen, witnessed, had to live through massive social change on a really huge scale. I think it comes through perseverance and I think it comes to sticking to your guns and not swaying from who you are and what you believe in. I do believe that is powerful enough to make change because I’ve seen it happen. I think it’s time for all our posse, to find our community, and do exactly that—form a calvary and stick to who we are in the face of no matter what for change.

STUDIO 54 ON TOP OF THE WORLD!

STUDIO 54 ON TOP OF THE WORLD!

On Saturday, December 7th the New York glitterati from the worlds of Art, Fashion, and Nightlife mingled with the society set from Zurich in a Studio 54 themed gala atop One World Trade.

The event, to celebrate the Swiss beauty innovators Haleh and Goli Abivardi, culminated with a private concert by Boy George.  Transforming the entire floor of the event space ASPIRE, MAO PR outfitted the cavernous space with 15 foot high disco ball inspired islands, a 25 foot LED wall projecting pulsating lights which synced with the retro disco music played and even recreated Studio 54 famous Moon with the coke spoon (replacing the spoon with a toothbrush with a nod to the Abivardi sister’s dental care brand).

Guests, who took the 70s dress code to heart, included Lynn Ban, Michael Musto, Peter Davis, James Aguiar, Gabriella Forte, Grazia D’Annunzio, Edmundo Castillo, Stephen Knoll, Shannon Hoey, Christopher Makos, Mathew Yokobosky, Miss Jay Alexander, Susanne Bartsch, model Dara Allen, Dianne Brill, Romero Jennings, Victoria Hayes, Joey Arias, Freddie Leiba, Amanda Lepore and the original Studio 54’s very own Carmen D’Alessio.

All photos courtesy Andrew Werner

Dara Allen

Robert Christy as Divine

Amanda Lepore

Lynn Ban

Corey Grant Tippin

Miss Jay Alexander

Agent Wednesday

Jonte Moaning

Kyle Farmery

Cheng

Michael White

Nadja Giramata

Dianne Brill

Susanne Bartsch

Kenny Kenny

Connie Fleming

Yana Dobroliubova,Valou Weemering, Luisa Laemmel, Grace Valentine

Goli Abivardi, Boy George, Haleh Abivardi

All photos courtesy Andrew Werner

AINA

Earrings: Iris Trends @eyeofiris | Dress: One Trieu Yeu @onetrieuyeu

Photographer/Director: Benjo Arwas @ Seen Artists | Styling: Maison Privee | | Model: Aina Faro @ MP Model Management | Hair and Makeup: Nicole Chew @ Art Department | Cinematography: Josh Hammaren

Earrings: Iris Trends @eyeofiris | Dress: One Trieu Yeu @onetrieuyeu

Jewelry: Iris Trends @eyeofiris

Left side: Jewelry: Iris Trends @eyeofiris | Dress: One Trieu Yeu @onetrieuyeu

Right side: Dress: Masaki Matsuka @masakimatsuka

Dress: One Trieu Yeu @onetrieuyeu | Earrings and Necklace: Iris Trends

Dress: Masaki Matsuka @masakimatsuka

Dress: One Trieu Yeu @onetrieuyeu | Earrings and Necklace: Iris Trends

Dress: Masaki Matsuka @masakimatsuka

 

MAC PRESENTS: POWDER KISS CABARET WITH SUSANNE BARTSCH AND ALAN CUMMING

M·A·C POWDER KISS CABARET

A party that united the Fashion industry and New York’s Nightlife Scene in a night not soon to be forgotten!

On April 9th, the spring event season kicked into high gear with the celebration of M·A·C COSMETICS Powder Kiss Lipstick collection. Sony Hall, the former site of the decadent WWII era nightclub Diamond Horseshoe was transported to it’s hedonistic roots with the one night only M·A·C POWDER KISS CABARET MC’d by actor Alan Cumming and New York Nightlife Icon Susanne Bartsch with a dozen decadent performances including Amanda Lepore, Dirty Martini, Joey Arias and Julie Atlas Muz. Over 400 attendees consisting of artists, fashion editors, models, celebrity stylists, and top makeup artists mixed with the crème de la crème of New York nightlife, mirroring M·A·C’s ongoing commitment to celebrating diversity and inclusivity.

As part of the various Pro to Pro Events held internationally throughout the year, last night’s event celebrated M·A·C COSMETICS’ origins as a company that produced product specifically for the professional make up community.

ABOUT POWDER KISS:
Matte, totally reinvented. Delivering a romantic blur of soft-focus color, this weightless moisture-matte lipstick was developed to replicate a backstage technique: blending out edges of matte lipstick for a hazy effect. Its groundbreaking formula contains moisture-coated powder pigments that condition and hydrate lips. The result is the zero-shine look of a matte lipstick with the cushiony, lightweight feel of a balm.

Shop the new line of Powder Kiss lipsticks here!

Performance at MAC Powder Kiss Cabaret Hosted By Susanne Bartsch at Sony Hall on April 9, 2019 in New York. (Photo by Jared Siskin/PMC)

Amanda Lepore attends MAC Powder Kiss Cabaret Hosted By Susanne Bartsch at Sony Hall on April 9, 2019 in New York. (Photo by Jared Siskin/PMC)

Alan Cumming attends MAC Powder Kiss Cabaret Hosted By Susanne Bartsch at Sony Hall on April 9, 2019 in New York. (Photo by Jared Siskin/PMC)

Performance at MAC Powder Kiss Cabaret Hosted By Susanne Bartsch at Sony Hall on April 9, 2019 in New York. (Photo by Jared Siskin/PMC)

Susanne Bartsch and Performers attend MAC Powder Kiss Cabaret Hosted By Susanne Bartsch at Sony Hall on April 9, 2019 in New York. (Photo by Jared Siskin/PMC)

HIROKO KOSHINO: A TOUCH OF BAUHAUS

Please join us on Thursday, November 1st from 6 to 8 PM at WhiteBox in NYC and meet Hiroko Koshino at the opening of her exhibit,  Hiroko Koshino: A Touch of BAUHAUS.

A Touch of BAUHAUS, curated by Kyoko Sato, is part of the WhiteBox Prime SAS (Seminal Artists Series), which honors artists of great repute. Past participants of the WhiteBox Prime SAS include Carolee Schneemann: More Wrong Things, Michael Snow: Snow Alert, Naoto Nagakawa: XXX-1960’s, Vienna Actionists Hermann Nitsch and Günther Brus, Hyman Bloom, Braco Dimitrijevic and Aldo Tambellini to name a few.

Post-World War II Japan found itself in the midst of rapid economic and cultural transformation – one in which growing industries such as technology and fashion shot to the forefront. It was amidst this landscape that a group of young people began rebelling by sporting a preppy, Ivy League look that broke stride with propriety-and time-honored traditions, and celebrated individualism. Known as the “Miyuki Tribe”, with Hiroko Koshino at the helm, talented young fashionistas began reinterpreting traditional Japanese artistic elements through a personalized and radical lens.

Visual artists began to be influenced by various new incoming art notions culled from Abstract Expressionism and Land Art, paralleled by the indigenous and subversive Gutai movement. This fresh shift in artistic perspectives made way for a wave of artistic leaders that included Hiroko Koshino. Building on her belief in the unity of all forms of art-a Bauhaus tenet- the classically trained Koshino used key elements to inform her paintings and sumi-ink masterworks as the basis for her stunning fashion designs, resulting in her recognition as one of the foremost couturiers in Japan.

HIROKO KOSHINO: A Touch of BAUHAUS will, for the first time in New York, reveal how Koshino’s visual artworks inform her high fashion designs. Curated by Kyoko Sato at WhiteBox, the exhibition will include Koshino’s most inventive runway pieces, side-by-side with her signature abstract paintings and sumi-ink works, including-in WhiteBox’s project space-a site-specific eighty-foot-long ink scroll that epitomizes her brilliant combination of art and design as Gesamtkunstwerk, the Bauhaus approach towards a total artwork.

After years of creating riveting artworks inspired by key painters ranging from Jackson Pollock to Gustav Klimt, as well as the Lyrical Abstraction and Tachism movements, Koshino began experimenting with the connection between art and fashion in the serene studio created for her by her colleague, genius architect Tadao Ando, in Ashiya. There she was able to deeply connect with her love for Mother Nature, free from the hustle and bustle demands of Tokyo, while infusing her paintings with a deeply Japanese attitude.

Koshino’s innovative design techniques, based on painting with sumi-ink directly onto the fabric, were the essence of many of her innovative fashion creations. In an essay on Koshino and her works, critic Anthony Haden-Guest writes, “Hiroko’s Sumi-Ink works are wholly beautiful, but not so much so as to overwhelm. They do not exclude, they embrace.”

Early in the history of Japanese art, Nihonga, tradition-based Japanese paintings, used to be exhibited in separate spaces from yōga, or artwork with Western influences. A push for change and a reconciliation of the two energies was beginning to happen. Thus Haden-Guest points out that while Hiroko’s work is “delicate, forceful and remarkably various … it embodies this accommodation, in her fashion, as in her art,” fusing the two styles.

In 1977, Hiroko joined the cutting-edge group “TD6” (Top Designers 6), presenting her fashion collection in Tokyo for the first time. Since, she has been showcasing twice a year. In 1978, she became the first Japanese designer to join Alta Moda in Rome, a sensational show earning her a thirty-page article in the Italian edition of Harper’s Bazaar.

In 1982 Hiroko Koshino created International Inc., leading the “Designer’s Character Brand” boom that turned fashion into a top industry in Japan. Subsequently, she debuted her brand and her signature prêt-à-porter collection at the Paris Fashion Week, to great acclaim.

Koshino considers herself an artist since childhood. She got started drawing characters from Manga and Anime, attending Kabuki plays regularly, influenced as well by the Bunraku national puppet theater of Japan. Six decades later, Koshino unabashedly continues her painting career, having created, by now, well over 1,900 paintings using a wide variety of techniques and inventive, unorthodox paint applications.

Her artwork continues as a wellspring of inspiration flowing right into her fashion design. “I can continue designing because I paint,” Koshino explains. Indeed, her paintings frequently function as brainstorm-drafts for what will later become one of the extraordinary design creations that she refers to as “the architecture of the body”, all along carrying as part of her signature, the elemental Japanese sense of sculptural ‘high volume’ in her couture.

Although her artwork and design are deeply intertwined, Koshino explains there is a definite separation between the two camps. “The process of production in fashion and art is very different,” she says. “When I make art, I can express my spirit directly. It is very personal. When I create fashion, I need to think about what people want, and I need to design what people will buy, so it unequivocally contains a business aspect.”

Kyoko Sato 

Koshino’s works will be showcased at WhiteBox with an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. on November 1st. The exhibition runs through December 1st.

“I can continue designing because I paint,” Koshino says. “Both design and art are my creation, and I cannot divide them.” This thought reminds people of Bauhaus-style “total work of art” (Gesamtkunstwerk), which became the title of her New York debut exhibition at the WhiteBox [HIROKO KOSHINO: A TOUCH OF BAUHAUS (329 Broome Street); Curator Kyoko Sato (Nov. 1-Dec. 1, 2018)]

FASHION INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY LECTURE BY HIROKO KOSHINO

Thursday, November 1, 2018 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Fashion Institute of Technology
227 W 27th St, New York, NY 10001
Feldman C501

About WhiteBox:
WhiteBox, on its 20th anniversary remains a non-profit art space aiming for total invention catalyzing the tenor of the times. It serves as a platform for contemporary artists to develop and showcase new sitespecific work, and is a laboratory for unique commissions, exhibitions, special events, roundtables, and arts education programs, providing an opportunity to experience an artist’s practice in a meaningful way, socially inspired free from market constraints. WhiteBox artistic vision provides hard to pigeon-hole artists with sustained exposure, creating an ideal environment for more in-depth interaction between sophisticated as well as community-bound New York audiences and artists’ practices. It achieves this by inviting local and international emerging and established artists to respond to its exhibition space with leading-edge interventions, performances, and developing long-term inspired programming that allows them to develop projects and engage with audiences. The artists who exhibited at WhiteBox tend to defy easy categorization.

Special thanks to The Costume Institute, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and Nao Takekoshi.

LOS ANGELES FEMALE FILMMAKERS FESTIVAL

This weekend Passerbuys and Women & Film will present the first annual Female Filmmakers Festival (FFFEST), a 3-day screening and talk series dedicated to celebrating accomplished female filmmakers and empowering women who want to break into the industry.

FFFEST will take place from October 12th through October 14th at the Downtown Independent theater in Los Angeles, California and will foster a community for female filmmakers to share resources, guidance and inspiration.

FFFEST’s diverse program includes feature-length such as the critically-acclaimed SKATE KITCHEN directed by Crystal Moselle, the award-winning MOSSANE directed by the first Sub-Saharan African woman director, Safi Faye  and short films such as the premiere of MAVERICK by Cara Stricker. Between screenings, FFFEST will host exclusive talks featuring some of the top women working in the contemporary film industry such as Sarah Finn (Casting Director, Black Panther), Lake Bell (Director, In A World), Jameela Jamil (Actress, The Good Place) and Natalie Farrey (Head of Vice Film) as they provide answers to the most pertinent questions facing women working in film today.

The primary mission of the Female Filmmakers Festival is to inspire more women to make films by celebrating the women leading the way, and by creating a space where women can share information amongst each other.

FFFEST has also teamed up with women-owned and women-led fashion brand VEDA to create custom merch for the festival where a portion of proceeds from every sale will go to Camp Reel Stories.

“I founded Passerbuys out of a desire to have women share resources and information amongst one another. As a lifelong fan of cinema, it felt natural to transfer such ethos to a film festival. There are a number of great organizations supporting women in film, and I see FFFEST’s role as a space to bring them together and hopefully become a tradition to celebrate and support female filmmakers.” – Clémence Polès, Founder of Passerbuys and Co-Founder of FFFEST “Women & Film was created to celebrate the women directors that have paved the way as well as the trailblazers and contemporary women of cinema. Our goal is to act as both a learning tool and source of inspiration among filmmakers, both accomplished and budding. We want FFFEST to create a sense of community for women in film in the hopes that more stories by and about women get made.” – Natalie Fält, Founder of Women & Film and Co-Founder of FFFEST

“Women are responsible for creating some of the greatest works of film in the history of cinema, yet the mass media has rarely depicted or celebrated women behind the camera. In response to that, we saw FFFEST as an opportunity for our audience to celebrate the women who’ve made strides in film and continue to today, and to inspire budding women filmmakers to join the industry and share their stories.” – Mimi Packer, Co-Founder of FFFEST

“We have stories to tell and we have a different perspective. Women in general tend to be more emotionally connected and in-tune with their surroundings but the demands of life can cause creative complacency. fffest was created to reawaken these hidden narratives and provide a platform to inspire more women to bring their stories to life.” – Dasha Faires, Co-Founder of FFFEST

For more information, please visit https://fffest.org/