Anne Rice’s Prince Lestat: Midnight Book Launch Wed 29 Oct 2014, 22:00 The Queen of the Undead is back, with her first Vampire Chronicle in over a decade – marking the return of one of the most popular vampires of all time. This is a very rare event: you’ll get to explore our Gothic exhibition after dark, meet author Anne Rice and as the clock strikes midnight, receive your copy of her new book, Prince Lestat.
Late at the Library: The Sorting Fri 31 Oct 2014, 19:30 A funeral-inspired experience with macabre performances, music, DJs, bar and a late night opening of the exhibition. You are invited to be the guest of honour at an extraordinary funeral: your own! You’ll have an appointment at the funeral parlour with our local undertaker. Run in partnership with award-wining theatre company, Les Enfants Terribles.
The art of the 'Gothic' album sleeve Sun 9 Nov 2014, 11:45 Hear from two of the world's most talented and prolific graphic artists, Dave McKean and Vaughan Oliver, sharing a platform for the first time to discuss their work on album covers. Dave also created our exhibition artwork. Read his interview here.
The New Black: from subculture to high culture Sun 9 Nov 2014, 13:45 Fashion historian, DJ and writer Amber Jane Butchart chairs a panel of innovative designers who are inspired by everything gothic, including Nange Magro, an Italian-Japanese fashion designer and founder of DeadLotusCouture, who has a passion for electronic fashion (and latex).
An increasing number of designers are redefining masculinity with creative and radical talent. Discarding traditional gender distinctions, this year menswear rids itself of preconceived representations and appropriates female fashion codes, paving the way for a contemporary man that confidently embraces his softer side as a sign of strength, not weakness. A seamless relationship between menswear and womenswear sees trend cycles, aesthetics and silhouettes blending into one. Not to be mistaken for notions of androgyny, this is seen as men confidently in touch with their feminine side and vice-versa.
Top: JW Andersen Spring Summer 2015 – Left: Loewe Spring Summer 15 campaign – Right: Iselin Steiro shot by David Sims for Vogue Paris October 2010
This fluid state of affairs fits perfectly with the pervading sense that it has become a challenging sport to define clearly what a single look is inspired by. This point of view resonates with Angelo Vaccarelo’s article for the Business of Fashion, stating “In today’s hyper-saturated, ultra-fragmented landscape, talking about trends is, frankly, pointless […] everything is happening at once”. Indeed we are experiencing a hybrid fashion cycle where tailoring and evening wear are imbued with athletic sports references, classic casuals are redefined with technical fabrications and sneakers have become an Haute-Couture staple. And in due form, gender distinctions are being put into question with silhouettes working perfectly for both men’s and women’s bodies.
Call it the “Cut & Paste” era of dragging and dropping images and re-curating fashion messages. As a direct result of the globalisation of fashion via the internet, we have reached a level of sameness, particularly in womenswear, whether it be on the streets, in fashion editorials and shop floors from New York to Bangkok, Paris and London. Suzi Menkes pointed this out regarding street fashion and individual style stating “there is no longer a time gap between when a small segment of fashion-conscious people pick up a trend and when it is all over the sidewalks” . Bloggers and street photographers can be credited for expanding the audience and the debate around style in a way that has changed the face of fashion, and that has been truly wonderful to witness. But has this been at the cost of untamed self-expression?
This is where menswear is playing a crucial role in injecting innovation, surprise and awe on the streets, in editorials and on the catwalks. From sophisticated sartorial looks at Pitti Uomo photographed by Tommy Ton for GQ, to traditionally testosterone filled markets such as extreme sports and urban streetwear, masculine silhouettes are updated with feminine codes: floral embellishments, handbags and off the shoulder silhouettes to name a few. Celebrities such as Kanye West and Taeyang from Korea proudly sport leather skirts and jeweled masks, coloured hair and must I dare, makeup.
Left: Taeyang for 1st Look Magazine - Right: Astrid Andersen Spring Summer 2015 – Bottom: Kanye West wearing Givenchy Getty Images
Looking back, the idea that men could embrace their feminine side is not new. In the late 18th century we saw the emergence of the “Dandy” - defining a man particularly concerned with his physical appearance. Fast-forward to the seventies and David Bowie brought to us the perfect embodiment of androgynous beauty. In the eighties, Jean Paul Gaultier adorned men with skirts. Then in 1994 the term “metrosexual” was created by Mark Simpson. This is a perfect example of why fashion can be so confusing and why I am often asked “How do you forecast trends and what do you define as new?” Nothing is new, everything is a part of a cycle. The key is in the timing of your forecast and analysis.
So in terms of timing, the blurring of gender codes in Men’s fashion has reached its tipping point. What was once considered eccentric is now a mainstream reality and above all commercial success endorsed by the high street and the luxury markets. Two decades after the birth of the ‘metrosexual’, it is the norm for men to care about and spend money on their personal appearance. So much so I think women could take notes. In the UK alone, men are now outspending women on items such as shoes. So although historically fashion was the domain of women, its culture has moved over into menswear in a big way. As a result, fashion labels have expanded their menswear assortments, with giants such as Hermès, Lanvin, Gucci and Prada introducing men’s-only flagships. Other Luxury labels focus on impactful Menswear campaigns targeting a highly sophisticated clientele as seen with Balenciaga’s recent ads.
Top: Balenciaga campaign Autumn winter 2014 – Left: Givenchy Spring Summer 2015 Etienne Laurent/European Press photo Agency - Right: Neil Patrick Harris for Glamour
Womenswear is still a driver for innovation in terms of details and surface treatments, but menswear has become a pool for new ideas and fashion paradigms, twisting dogmas and preconceived notions of virility, body image, tailoring and casuals. These codes are being morphed into a 2014 vocabulary by a range of designers from the high-end to promising fashion graduates. The key being the contrast between virility and traditionally perceived female preferences perfectly illustrated by the hot pink military jumpsuit from Louis Vuitton Spring Summer 2015 collection. With pinks and purples being massively on display in the Spring Summer 2015 catwalks, may this be a warning to the faint of heart, there is a lot coming your way.
Top: Lous Vuitton Spring Summer 2015 – Left: LCF MA graduate Xiaomeng Yang- Right: Alexandre Herchcovitch Spring Summer 2015
On Monday 22 September 14, we'll be hosting another Inspiring Entrepreneurs event in our Conference Centre, run by our lovely Business & IP Centre team. It's also available as a free webcast. The theme this time is 'Movers and Shakers': companies that have disrupted the status quo in their sector. We've got founder and CEO of Moshi Monsters, Michael Acton-Smith OBE (expect a games-themed blog soon) and Sam Bompas, the co-founder of Bompas & Parr.
When I looked at their website, I was absolutely blown away by their creativity and ingenuity. Their brand is so playful. I'm driving everyone in the office mad by raving about how much I want to eat their glow-in-the-dark ice-cream. I love how they can move between fashion, products and experiences so freely, responding beautifully to any creative brief they're given. Here are some of the projects they've been working on, in their own words. Fancy coming to hear them speak? You can book your tickets here.
Glow-in-the-dark Cornetto, Leicester Square, July 2013 The world’s first glow in the dark Cornetto, created for a film premiere of The End of the World.
Jellies for any event Bompas & Parr supply a customised jelly service – they even have a jelly technician! They offer innovative and bespoke moulds, created in their in-house workshop.
Cooking with lava – Syracuse, USA, June 2014 Go into the kitchen of a top steak restaurant and you’re likely to find a £18,000 Josper oven, favoured by chefs for its searing 300°C cooking temperature. At Bompas & Parr they didn’t think that was anywhere near hot enough, so last month they headed to Syracuse University in upstate New York, where Professor Robert Wysocki has over-clocked an industrial bronze furnace and is busy working up an expertise in creating artificial volcanos and streams of man-made lava. Prof Wysocki and his team have done 100 lava pours so far, for artistic and scientific purposes, but have never actually used the lava’s 2,100°F heat to do something as ubiquitous as cooking. See what happens when super-heated liquid rock meets an icy crevasse and a 10oz ribeye.
Scent of darkness - It's Nice That Magazine, March 2012 London’s smells represent an invisible architecture, shaping and enhancing our experience of the city’s urban environment. Certain odours created intentionally or not act as sensory landmarks, hardwired into your brains. Bompas & Parr traversed London between sunset and sunrise to chart the scents of the city at night. London’s aromas were composed as perfumes and shipped to Thomas Brown who photographed them with stylist Lyndsay Milne for Its Nice That.
Tutti Frutti Garments by Kit Neale – Sold by Opening Ceremony, A/W 2013 Earlier this year Bompas & Parr worked with printmaster Kit Neale on the staff uniforms for the Tutti Frutti installation at Kew Gardens. Kit Neale’s prints intermingle obscure and forbidden fruits like the durian with more familiar fruits like bananas and pears, with the images sourced from Kew’s archive. The collection garnered so much interest it was put into production for Opening Ceremony launching in time for a fruity Christmas.
September 2014: You can read write-ups of this event here and here.
Wow, it doesn’t seem like a year since we wrote our last joint blog and I said goodbye to the Library for a while to go off and have my lovely daughter Holly. I'm going to be taking over our creative industries programme and, of course, this blog. The good news is that Kissley isn’t going to be leaving the Library: she will be promoting our exhibition and events programme: Gothic literature, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, anyone? The autumn events programme is shaping up fantastically – look out for a very creepy, spooky LATE. Where better to get scared at night than in a huge library?
Image: Fran (on left) and Kissley posing with our Comics Unmasked cut-out
Goodbye from Kissley Leonor…
It’s been a pleasure sharing with you all the cool stuff happening at the British Library. Here are my highlights. One million Flickr images of our collections made free for anyone to use, remix and repurpose. Here are some of the gems I found:
Image: Gems and Precious Stones of North America, KUNZ, George Frederick, shelfmark: "British Library HMNTS 7105.ee.14.", "British Library HMNTS 7106.i.12." Page 85
Image: My Little Chinese Book, POST, Mary Audubon, shelfmark: "British Library HMNTS 11645.e.57.", page 12
Image: The tapir sent from Bengkulu to Calcutta in 1816.Shelfmark: Add.Or.4973
Image: 1890 Songs of a Savoyard, Gilbert, W. S. (William Schwenck), shelfmark: "British Library HMNTS 11651.k.42.", page 102
Spring Festival. It was great to see so many new people working in film and fashion come to the Library and discover our collections. We welcomed some great speakers including screenwriter Tony Grisoni and fashion historian Amber Jane Butchart. And we danced. Dancing is always a good thing.
Our front entrance hall never looked so cool when British label YMC (You Must Create) showed their Spring/Summer 2015 line for London Collections: Men last Sunday. I sure do love men in pink. Here are my favourites:
A playful finale: bucket hats with built-in goggles.
YMC designer Fraser Moss is exploring our vinyl record collection and vintage magazines to create a new design. Follow me at @BL_Creative for updates.
Our collections are an amazing source of inspiration for fashion designers. Henry Holland was spotted in our Reading Room researching old Tatler issues for his debauched debutante line and E. Tautz designer Patrick Grant gave a talk on how historical resources inspire his designs as part of our Georgians Revealed exhibition.
We also host events on topics such as trend forecasting, intellectual property and how to generate PR for fashion designers who are looking to start, run or grow their business. Plus we have over £5million worth of market research and business information that's free to use. FREE. Sign up for a Reader Pass and get in here!
For the first time the British Library is playing host to major fashion event London Collections: Men with British label YMC (You Must Create).
Our sweeping front entrance hall with its marble staircase makes the perfect fashion show venue. When I met founders Fraser Moss and Jimmy Collins last year, I floated the idea past them and now it's happening!
"As a British brand, YMC feel particularly proud and privileged to show our Spring/Summer 2015 collection at the British Library. This iconic building has a such a unique ambiance and is like entering a cathedral of knowledge and literature representing the history of the United Kingdom and beyond," says Moss.
For nearly 20 years YMC has been developing modern, functional and understated clothing. Menswear is their main business but they also have a small line for women (I love this dress). They are a major player in the three-day LC:M programme which showcases over 60 emerging and established brands - from Fashion East's Craig Green to Paul Smith.
LC:M also aims to emphasise the rich cultural landscape that contributes to the inspiration and success of menswear so it's very fitting that the opening show is taking place at the British Library, where the creative industries are constantly finding inspiration in our collections. YMC's designer Fraser Moss is exploring our vinyl record collection and underground magazines for a new design. We've welcomed E. Tautz designer Patrick Grant to our stage for a talk on Georgian menswear and Henry Holland was spotted in our Reading Room researching old Tatler issues for his 'debauched debutante' A/W2014 line.
Is London the capital for men's clothing? I think so. Follow #LCM and you'll see just why.
YMC invitation inspired by British Library stamp for manuscripts. Related articles
When I first collaborated with the British Library Business & IP Centre for a trend forecasting event in September 2013, I presented the key fashion trends for 2014 in womenswear, menswear, textiles, graphics and accessories. One of the trends was “Cartoon Reality” and showcased the resurgence of comics and superheroes influencing designers and makers. The trend fit within a larger concept called Pop!, a whimsical and edgy design direction filled with bold colour juxtapositions and graphic statements.
Fashion and comic book art share an exciting relationship. Comic book illustrations have fueled the imagination of many fashion labels, from high-end designers such as 3.1 Philip Lim and Tom Ford, to high street brands Topshop and ASOS. I call this the “Pow Wow!” effect. In the 1960s, Pop artists who delved into comic art and illustrative drama such as Roy Lichtenstein came to influence Donna Karan, Moschino, Viktor and Rolf and Yves Saint Laurent.
Whilst researching the trend, I came across such a large amount of visual content, stylized editorials, and quirky garments created in the last few decades that it’s clear the relationship between comic book graphics and fashion has reached a tipping point. Comics and superheroes have become a perennial source of print and pattern inspiration in fashion, revisited season after season and acting as a complement to core items such as whimsical polka dots, logos and graffiti art.
It’s only natural comic art would influence fashion designers as they are always on the hunt for captivating imagery. With bright colour palettes often used against black and white lettering, this makes for impactful visuals, which designers use on garments as their canvas. The layout of comic book pages with their exaggerated fonts and messages also inspire stylists and fashion editorials in publications such as Vogue.
The designers who are currently building our fashion landscape also grew up with comics and superheroes. They instinctively reference their teenage years, children’s books and favorite superhero movies, all embedded in their visual consciousness. This is clearly seen in collections by designers like Jeremy Scott who often uses comic book imagery such as monsters seen in his Autumn/Winter 2014 collection.
The sexually seductive nature of female superheroes also inspires designers of the likes of Tom Ford to create alluring silhouettes with references to comic book splashes of colour and text bubbles as seen in his Fall/Winter 2013 collection.
On a deeper level, the relationship between comics and fashion goes beyond the idea of using the style as a purely graphic source of inspiration. Comics can be subversive vehicles for sexual and political statements, which is precisely the focus of Comics Unmasked. As it stands, subversion is fashion’s second name.
Throughout history, the designs that stand the test of time are the ones that challenged our perceptions of gender and body image as well as channeled designers’ sense of humour and whimsy. Fashion if anything else, is about making a statement, in between shocking the audience and creating awe. Designers use clothing as a powerful tool of expression to surprise, seduce and turn the shocking into the beautiful.
Name the punk era and Vivienne Westwood in the 1970s, Balenciaga and his cocoon shaped jackets in the 1950s, or Yves Saint Laurent’s popularization of trousers for women, and you will find in each one of these examples a deeply subversive spirit aimed to provoke change.
More recently, we see alternative music groups collaborate with high fashion brands to create thought-provoking street wear. The best example being South Africa’s Die Antwoord and co- founder/rapper/illustrator Watkin Tudor Jones (also known as Ninja) whose subversive futuristic rap is paired with Basquiat-inspired characters and street punk styling. The group and its impactful graphic streetwear fronted Alexander Wang’s T campaign in 2012.
Cartoon comic artists and fashion designers have created a great dialogue and creative exchange. We classically saw cartoon heroes on jersey t-shirts and the growing influence of street style on high fashion in the last 50 years has made it possible for cartoon graphics to gradually make their way onto silks and organzas. The subject matter moves effortlessly from paper and celluloid to fabric as its canvas.
As street style and bold graphics continue to influence the high fashion, this trend is set to grow from strength to strength - so stay tuned. For a full view of the cartoon research and sources used for this article visit my Pinterest Cartoon Reality Board.
Geraldine Wharry and Trend Atelier are hosting Fashion Forecasting: Trend hunting and gathering on 24 June 2014 in our Business & IP Centre. Get the tools you need to identify the fashion trends for 2015/2016 - find out the more here.
Enjoy these videos highlighting our Spring Festival celebration of fashion, film and design.
For those who weren't able to join us for the popular Puttin' on the Glitz - Fashion and Film in the Jazz Age talk - you can watch the entire talk in three parts below!
Spring Festival highlights: Inspiring stories, vinyl & film
Using The British Newspaper Archive to tell stories on Twitter; exploring our vinyl record collection plus award-winning screenwriter Tony Grisoni and Bafta-nominated director Jamie Stone on film.
Spring Festival highlights: Fashion, film and glitz
Fashion historian Amber Jane Butchart and editor of Clothes on Film Christopher Laverty on vintage fashion, film and Boardwalk Empire. Plus The Vintage Mafia take over the Library for a night of Jazz Age glamour with Alex Mendham & His Orchestra.
Part 1 - Puttin on the Glitz - Fashion and Film in the Jazz Age - Fashion historian Amber Jane Butchart
Fashion extraordinaire Amber Jane Butchart transports us to the glitz and glamour of Jazz Age Hollywood and the costumes that took London by storm. She draws on the Library's collection of vintage magazines.
Part 2 - Puttin' on the Glitz - Fashion and Film in the Jazz Age - Clothes on Film creator Christopher Laverty
The ever dapper Christopher Laverty examines the flamboyantly dressed 'Dandy Gangster' as portrayed in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire.
Part 3 - Puttin' on the Glitz - Fashion and Film in the Jazz Age - Q&A