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Illustration Photography

Playful Doodles by Shira Barzilay Add Stylized Dimension to Classic Portraits

August 13, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

Tel Aviv-based illustrator Shira Barzilay creates expressive line drawings on top of editorial style portraits to provide a more exaggerated expression for the subject, or produce an entirely new face on the back of their head. The digital illustrations are created via iPad, and range from simple lines to filled in multi-color shapes that give the pieces an almost cubist appearance. You can see more of her photographic illustrations, in addition to recent clothing and handbag collaborations, on her Instagram. If you enjoy Barzilay’s itinerant illustrations, also take a look at Shantell Martin’s work.

 

 



Art

Intricate Beadwork Adorns Handmade Mardi Gras Suits by Demond Melancon

August 11, 2019

Andrew LaSane

For the past three decades, Louisiana-based artist Demond Melancon has created highly detailed Mardi Gras Indian suits using millions of hand-sewn small glass beads. Each suit takes several months to create and features custom patches that tell stories about African and American history.

Images of Nyabinghi warriors, Haile Selassie, African nature scenes, and slavery are strung together bead by bead to form decorative costumes that weigh up to 150 pounds and are worn from 9am to 6pm on Mardi Gras. Frills and feathers frame the complex beadwork and sequins to complete the one-of-a-kind single purpose suits.

Melancon tells Colossal that in junior high school his friends “masked Indian” and that he followed them into the craft. He was chosen by the elders to learn sewing techniques as well as the history of Black Masking Culture in New Orleans when he was 14 years old. After masking as a Spy Boy for 15 years with the Seminole Hunters, Melancon earned the distinction of becoming Big Chief to his own tribe. In addition to leading his community and passing on traditions to the next generation, the honor is expressed through the size and intricacy of his suits, which can take over 4,000 hours to complete and are only worn once.

“I study our history and historical narratives to create my pieces [with] many different references,” Big Chief Demond Melancon of the Young Seminole Hunters explained. He added that as a “bead master,” his style involves using the smallest beads available to pack in as much detail as possible.

Melancon’s work has been exhibited in galleries around the world. A new documentary short about his life and art titled “All on a Mardi Gras Day” (dir. Michal Pietrzyk) was the Documentary: Grand Jury Prize Winner at Seattle International Film Festival and has been shown at other festivals across America, Germany, and Denmark. For a list of upcoming screenings and to see more of the Big Chief’s suits, visit his website and Instagram.

 

 



Art Photography

AfroArt Photo Series Challenges Beauty Standards with Young Black Models

August 10, 2019

Andrew LaSane

All Images: Kahran and Regis Bethencourt. Styling by LaChanda Gatson, Shanna Thomasson and Angela Plummer

Husband and wife photography duo Regis and Kahran Bethencourt of CreativeSoul Photography capture images of children that celebrate the beauty, culture, and heritage of afro hairstyles. Often dressed in ornate African-inspired garb, Black girl and boy models are crowned with afros, twists, and braids as symbols of strength and grace.

The Bethencourts, based in Atlanta, have been working together for 10 years and began photographing children with natural hair in 2013. The “AfroArt” series began when they noticed a lack of diversity in the industry. The way the children in the series are styled and posed against warm backgrounds recalls the regal oil portraits painted of upper class men and women during the Renaissance movement. “We decided to showcase kids with natural hair to empower them (and others in the industry) to embrace it and for the kids to be proud of their culture and natural curls,” the photographers tell Colossal.

“When we first started out we were primarily working with child models, but now more than half of the kids have never modeled before,” they added. “Many parents hire us so that their child can get the experience of feeling empowered for the day. We will typically guide them on set to make them feel comfortable. Most of them just see it as a fun experience, but they usually leave the studio feeling a little more proud and self-confident.”

CreativeSoul Photography has an online shop where images from the AfroArt series can be purchased as prints, calendars, and other products. They also recently signed a book deal, so keep an eye out for that at your local bookstore. In the meantime, follow CreativeSoul Photography on Instagram for more striking images and future updates.

 

 



Photography

Flower-Filled Portraits by Diaja Celebrate Natural Beauty in the African Diaspora

August 6, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Photographer and designer Ceres Henry embellishes her portrait subjects with floral body paint and fresh blossoms in her Adam & Eve series. The New York-based artist hand-painted each person before the shoot, inspired in the moment by the flowers she had pre-selected, and then worked the three-dimensional blooms into the composition. Henry, who goes by Diaja, explains that she seeks to counter negative narratives and stereotypes with Adam & Eve. “The significance of this series is to highlight the Black and African diaspora as works of art to be admired and celebrated,” she says.

In addition to Diaja’s work as a photographer, she also founded and runs a nonprofit, Artists of Today, which offers pop-up gallery and grant opportunities to emerging artists. The next gallery event is on August 17, 2019, and tickets are available here. See more from Diaja’s multi-faceted creative practice on Instagram.

 

 



Design

Three Cats in Japan Have a Closet Full of Custom-Made Hats Felted From Their Shedded Fur

August 2, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Japanese couple Ryo and Hiromo Yamazaki combine their affinity for fashion design, felines, and photography by building hats for their three cats out of the animals’ own shedded fur. The Yamazakis have created a wide range of designs that have become increasingly intricate over the years. Simple acorn-like shapes have evolved to elaborate samurai helmets, sailor caps, and duck likenesses, and the different shades of the cats’ orange, tabby, and white fur allow for nuance within each hat.

For readers concerned about the alarmed looks on Nya, Maru, and Mugi’s faces, the cats are all Scottish Folds, a specific cat type that has been bred for unique features including rounded faces and wide eyes, and they appear just as nonplussed when relaxing sans-hats. It’s worth noting that some veterinary professionals in the U.K. and governments in Australia have warned against or effectively banned the breed due to its adverse health effects on the cats.

You can follow along with the human and feline Yamazaki family on Instagram. (via designboom)

 

 

 



Design

Hypnotic New Garments by Iris van Herpen Blur the Boundaries of Art, Science, and Fashion

July 9, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Like many of her haute couture peers, fashion designer Iris van Herpen (previously) selects a theme that inspires and unites the designs in each of her collections. Van Herpen, who has interdisciplinary interests in fine art and science, is particularly known for her wide-reaching collaborations. For her latest body of work, titled ‘Hypnosis,’ the Dutch designer partnered with Anthony Howe (previously), an American sculptor who specializes in large-scale kinetic works.

The resulting collection is centered around Howe’s Omniverse sculpture. With rotating circles of varying sizes spiraling out from a central arc, Omniverse “explores our relationship with nature and intertwines with infinite expansion and contraction, expressing a universal life cycle,” according to a statement on van Herpen’s website. The designer used feathers, silk, aluminum, stainless steel, organza, ball bearings, and satin in labor-intensive processes to form the ethereal dresses worn by runway models who passed through and around Howe’e sculpture.

“The ‘Hypnosis’ collection is a hypnotic visualization of nature’s tapestry, the symbiotic cycles of our biosphere that interweave the air, land, and oceans. It also reflects the ongoing dissection of the rhythms of life and resonates with the fragility within these interwoven worlds” van Herpen explains.

You can read more about the intricate techniques used to create the garments—including one developed in collaboration with Canada-based Professor of Architecture Philip Beesley—on the designer’s website. Van Herpen also released a behind-the-scenes short documentary that takes viewers inside her atelier, which is embedded below. Explore more of van Herpen’s mesmerizing creations on Instagram. (via Hi-Fructose)

 

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Art Design

Vintage Clothing and Found Objects Compose Decorative Masks Designed by Magnhild Kennedy

June 21, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

Magnhild Kennedy, who makes work under the name Damselfrau, creates intricate headpieces and masks that are comprised of both high and lowbrow elements. The London and Oslo-based artist mixes together sequins, vintage clothing scraps, and random materials she finds on the street to compose works that expose minimal elements of the wearer’s face.

The pieces are intended to operate as both art objects and wearable sculptures, and were initially inspired by the elegant clothing seen during her days working at a London vintage shop. As a completely self-taught artist, Kennedy learns techniques as she forms new masks, trouble-shooting new methods alongside her more elaborate designs. You can see more of her wearable works on her website and Instagram.