Tuesday, September 29, 2009

IN THE RED: Annie Leibovitz Gets to Work

Renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz, who just recently staved off near financial ruin by postponing the collection of her outstanding $24 million loan, is still seeing red.

But this time, the color has a more positive association – that is, contributions to the Red Cross in the form of bespoke leather goods.

Leibovitz, along with five other artistic icons, is
guest designing leatherwear to be assembled by Louis Vuitton's master craftsmen at its Asnieres workshop near Paris, which will then be sold at a Sotheby’s auction in London on November 17th, with proceeds benefiting the scarlet charity as it commemorates 150 years of global goodwill.

Having shot the likes of Sofia and Francis Ford Coppola for Vuitton's “core values” campaign, Leibovitz is familiar with spreading goodwill on an international scale – remember the
Demi Moore-nearly nude-pregancy shot? That was groundbreaking. How could we as a society have possibly functioned without the decades of unclothed celebrity mommies-to-be that followed? (I’m only being half sarcastic here.)

The slightly androgynous photographer stayed true to her utilitarian roots when designing for LV. She requested a spacious backpack – no handbags here, ladies – to accommodate personal effects and photo equipment, while leaving her hands free. The monogram canvas sack is trimmed in black leather and lined with red, cushioned microfiber compartments, and it doesn’t stand alone. With her own extensive photographic paraphernalia in mind, Lebovitz’s design includes a matching rectangular shoulder camera bag, with external zippered compartments for accessories.

other contributing designers are just as varied and unique as Leibovitz herself: There’s animal installation artist Damien Hurst, Oscar-winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla, Spanish chef Ferran Adrià, LV’s head of special orders Patrick-Louis Vuitton (also a fifth-generation family member), plus LV creative director Marc Jacobs.

While I’m happy to encourage the charitable spirit, I do wish Ms. Leibovitz would do some income-generating work so we don’t soon find her hustling chop-shop photos for
NYC tourists in Central Park…

Photo credit: Louis Vuitton advertisement, July 2008.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Each morning, in preparation for daily life, we get dressed. Well, hopefully, anyway. For some, there is no philosophy behind the day-to-day ensemble; it is merely a reflection of practicality, affordability and climate. For others, however, dressing is an expression of their inner self. Clothing can be used to evoke feelings, inspire sensations and garner reactions.

In considering the possibility that there is a large population identifiable with the former (and surely not reading this blog post), questions abound: What is fashion, and what should it be? A practical warping of fabric for function? A pretentious, self-indulgent industry swimming in false importance? Or, as I prefer to think, is it merely an aesthetic representation of the time in which we live? And, for that matter, can fashion be all of these things at once?

Whether you’re of the mind that Rei Kawakubo is a genius or a quack – or you think that’s some sort of Japanese noodle dish – there is one element that can surely bridge this distinct divide. That is, the element of history. Fashion, like art, can often form a basis for historical reference. The clothing of a given era reveals many things about its wearers. Who wore what where? How much money did they have? What do they do for a living? What did they do for fun? What were their political leanings? What music did they listen to? The list goes on.

One of the most validating trips I’ve taken of late was to the Fashion & Politics exhibit at the FIT Museum, which completely justified my regular psychoanalytical fashion babble. The showcase, “a chronological exploration of over 200 years of politics as expressed through fashion…not only refers to the maneuverings of government, but also encompasses cultural change, sexual codes, and social progress.”

Despite the museum’s no-photo policy, my gorgeous friend Tom brought a bit of the exhibit back for you, via his stunning fashion illustration skills. Check-out his handiwork above – proof at the very least that to create fashion, one must appreciate art.