Quicktake: Rodarte at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum

By David Pedroza

On Thursday, February 19, 2010, The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum hosted a party for the opening of Quicktake: Rodarte, a new exhibition revealing the unique design process and inspiration behind cult brand Rodarte. Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the brains behind this highly conceptual brand have opened their books, and share with the public the genius behind their work. Using couture techniques and out of the ordinary materials to create dresses that have a life of their own. Creating mosaics of skins, tulle, glass stones, and paint, the Mulleavy’s have earned a large following of best dressed women, such as actress Cate Blanchett , American Couture collector Christine Suppes, and V-Magazine’s Cecilia Dean. Celebrities galore and fashion mavens attended this important design event on Thursday, with guests including Anna Wintour, Kim Gordon, and Christine Suppes, in full support, wearing Rodarte. Cooper-Hewitt hosts their first major exhibition in an American Museum, which will be on view until through March 14.

Photo by Carmel Wilson, 2010

New York Fashion Week: J. Mendel Fall 2010

The cold, winter weather on February 18, in New York, set the mood for J. Mendel's Fall 2010 collection. The program read photographer Ryan McGinley's cave series, was the inspiration for the somber color palette of rust, mossy green, and stone blue. Although the pretty chiffon dresses where executed beautifully, the main focal point of his collection was in fact the furs. Mendel did not disappoint when it came to fur, which was about 50% of the collection. Working with a lighter hand and new techniques, and with ultra feminine details, Mendel mastered to reinvent his signature furs in fox, mink, and persian. Thought they were light on the body, these fur pieces are still hardy and warm for the next winter season. -David Pedroza

Photos By Marcio Madeira for FirstView.com, 2010

Resurrections's Retrospective: 20 Years of Maison Martin Margiela

Martin Margiela Artisanal Semi Couture Top, Circa 1997, $12,000, 1stdibs.com
Marcia Berger, a native of New Mexico, was the purveyor of avant garde fashion who acquired a collection over 20 years of some of the best pieces from Maison Martin Margiela. Now, online antiquities seller 1stdibs.com and vintage specialist Resurrections is selling the collection of the late Berger. 1stdibs now opened its Maison Martin Margiela sale of 300 curated pieces from Marcia Berger, featuring rare, and unique, memorable Margiela designs. When Resurrections archived Berger’s Margiela collection, it offered a retrospect of Margiela’s most important creations from 1989 to 2008. Marcia Berger is one of the few people in the world to have acquired Margiela’s work, some of the most highly conceptual and sophisticated artisanal collections. Most of Berger’s pieces where artisanal pieces, which were from Margiela’s couture line of one-of-a-kind reworked vintage garments. 1stdibs.com is now selling this rare collection online, with must have pieces from one of the most celebrated avant garde designers.-David Pedroza

Martin Margiela Artisanal Black Vintage Glove Composite Halter Circa 2001, $8,500, 1stdibs.com

Buy Art to Cover Up That Hole in the Wall

Did you ever wonder why art is so valued in our society? And it's been that way all through the ages of mankind. Yes, each age and each tribe has it's own style, but every age and every tribe we know of, has valued art.

After all, unlike food, gas, clothes, and water - art is not something that we need. For most of us, art is something that we buy with our dwindling disposable income. But why? Well there are many reasons:

One of the most common reasons people buy art is to enhance their home decorating. A beautiful painting can make a world of difference to a stark, empty, white wall. A unique piece of sculpture can make a remarkable and transformative addition to a dull corner. The right art can beautify any environment.

Some people buy art as a sign of status. Imagine showing off to your friends a recently acquired Picasso original. Imagine the gossip and admiration that would surround you and how many of your peers will now see you as a person of stature, a person of class.

The purists among us will simply buy art for its beauty. These people when they look at a beautiful work of art are simply taken into another world. They can literally stare at the same art piece over a period of days and each time come away with new insight as to its meaning.

Museums buy art to attract visitors and tourists. Their concern is not with beauty so much. They want to make sure that any piece of art they buy will be a good return on investment. As long as people will pay to see it, they are satisfied.

Of course, one of the most popular reasons for purchasing art, especially paintings, is to cover up that blank space on the wall. In some neighborhoods I've lived in, it is the number one reason.

Many hobbyist art collectors will buy an artist's original pieces as a potential investment opportunity. In a sense this is a little like playing the lottery, especially when sourcing works from new and unknown artists. While enjoyable, as one learns more and more about art, this sort of collecting can be quite addictive. The good thing is that your investment potential improves as your knowledge improves with your extensive research.

Have you ever bought a piece of art simply because something in it uniquely captures your own personality. Somehow it's as if the artist, in that one art piece, is speaking to or for you. And it simply connects to you. Even if you've never been attracted to a piece of art in your life.

And lastly, there's the "I wish I had said that" form of art collecting. This is where the artist has expressed something in such a unique or outrageous manner that you really wish you had thought of it first. But owning it is the next best thing. I would suspect that a large percentage of those that are drawn to political works of art fall into this category.

As we've seen, people buy art for many and varied reasons. And that is why art and artists will be around as long as there are humans on this earth.
Wendy Hermann is a writer and blogger for Native Art, Eskimo Art - Eliot Waldman at NativeArtTraders.com, a site specializing in Inuit sculptures and paintings
Source: www.articledepot.co.uk

BP oil sands resolution

Mellerio dits Meller Haute Joaillerie spring 2010

Mellerio dits Meller presented a haute jewelry collection during couture week for Spring 2010, taking a cue from nature, with a floral theme. Beautifully cut stones, where inlaid in white gold, with diamonds, expressing a light an airy aura. This house is uber-haute with heritage and history, being one of the eldest jewelry houses in Paris ( Marie-Antoinette wore Mellerio dits Meller). A violet sapphire and diamond necklace played the notes of spring, one of they prettiest pieces in the collection. -David Pedroza
Photo Courtesy of Mellerio dits Meller 2010

Boucheron Haute Joaillerie Spring 2010

Violet Sapphire, Diamond and Gold Necklace, Price Upon Request, Boucheron Paris
On January 28, 2010, the house of Boucheron presented a dazzling array of jewelry, being one of the haute jewelers to present during haute couture week. A bevy of baubles, rings, earrings, and other treasures, inspired by Paris’s Belle Époque, glimmered making it hard not to stare. A feast of rubies, emeralds, diamonds, and sapphires where nestled on tables, like a colorful selection of French pastries. The jewelry had whimsical, yet elegant feel, keeping up with the houses extreme luxury and haute couture spirit. The intricate casting of gold and inlays of diamonds was a sure sign that hundreds of hours and manual labor was put into these jewels. One piece in particular, a necklace, bowed a rare 25 carat sapphire, in a swirl of floral motifs. –David Pedroza

Photo By WWD, 2010

Fancy Sexy Me Bijoux: Vintage Sexy Me Artisanal Re-worked Jewelry

by David Pedroza

Since their beginning, I have been a fan of Fancy Sexy Me, a New York based jewelry company, that creates contemporary pieces for both men and women. The jewelry is modern, and made with exceptional quality, with both ready-to-wear and Couture lines. Ronen Aminov (RA) and Cynthia Cattera (CC) are the founders of FSM, and are establishing them selves in a market that is highly competitive ; But when you are looking for the best, it is an obvious choice to select pieces from Fancy Sexy Me’s Diamond District show room, where you can pick edgy, gold, knuckle dusters, or make an appointment for a one of a kind, custom designed and made, couture necklace. I recently interviewed the duo on there latest line of reworked vintage jewelry, Vintage Sexy Me. This collection is composed of beautifully reworked vintage pieces, to create modern and one-of-a-kind jewelry, entirely by hand. Ronen and Cynthia share their experiences and vision with Master the Art of Style….

DP- Ronnie and Cynthia, please Tell me about your background, birth place, schooling, trade.

RA - I was born and raised in Queens, NY. My parents came here from the USSR so my perspective has not been always "American" growing up. I was too ethnic for the American kids and too American for the Russian kids. With this, I became culturally diversified understanding a vast variety of what people desire. I learned almost everything from my brother Gabriel who is a master goldsmith & setter in his company D'Elegance Fine Jewelry,(www.delegancejewelry.com) a high-end jewelry company that designs and makes every piece from A to Z, working with such companies as Graff, Winston, & Fred Leighton. I learned from the best. I also went to FIT for Jewelry Design, learning technical design skills, but more importantly I learned to open my mind and express myself through my jewelry.

CC- A city girl at heart, I was born & raised in Ohio, which allowed me to develop my creativity at a young age. I've always been designing accessories & clothing, while styling head-to-toe looks. However, my heart has always been for accessories, since they are the finishing piece to every outfit, and have the ability to transform one look to another. I finished my schooling in Fashion Design, and currently work in the fashion industry during the week.

Vintage Tassel Necklace, Price upon request, by special order, Vintage Sexy Me Arisanal

DP: What inspired the both of you to start Fancy Sexy Me? What year was it found?

RA- FancySexyMe was founded in December 2008. For me, though it was great working for my brother day to day, I felt I needed to find my own road and artistic expression. Every artist- be it music, literature, sculpture, etc had to feel scorch of the real world. I wanted FancySexyMe to be a work of art, not just jewelry. So I left D’Elegance and the safety net of my brother to find myself. Initially to make a living, I worked as an accountant to support myself and the business. In the beginning there was very little success, until Cynthia with her vision of what FSM could be, came in and helped mold the company to what it is today. Being a fashion designer and in-the-know with the fashion world, we created a synergy that customers right away fell in love with.

CC: FSM was a successful result to a struggling economy and Ronen's entrepreneur instincts. With Ronen leaving the luxury jewelry business, which a year ago was on unsteady ground, and relocating into the accounting, we both felt the urge to create something of our own. Like many designers, we wanted to design through our own label, and this was the perfect opportunity to take the dive. We both realize there was a huge gap in the jewelry business, where the customer was left far & in between. It was either high end luxury, or disposable costume pieces. With Ronen's high end training, and my fashion forward sensibility, we knew we could bring a desirable product to the table. We wanted to create innovate designs on a luxury level, with each piece having an artistic expression while also having a desired price

DP: What is FSM about… are you selling an image or a certain lifestyle?

CC/RA: Our image is wearable art but also luxury with an attitude. We can’t say if we are selling an image or lifestyle – we are presenting designs and pieces to customers with our edge and interpretation of the what piece is and hopefully the customer sees what we are trying to convey. If not, maybe they like the piece and it fits into their lifestyle or image. In the end, we are all individuals and that one piece means something to that one person in their own way… I guess we are selling our artistic expression to simplify the answer.

DP: Tell me the inspiration for the re-worked jewelry… is there a story behind each piece?
CC: On a recent trip back home for the holidays, I stopped at the local antique and vintage markets and boutiques in search of some original designs I could re-work into our FSM image. I have always been attracted to vintage jewelry and clothing ever since I opened up my grandmother's jewelry box. My grandfather worked as a furrier back in the 40's and 50's and seeing his hand-made fur coats inspired me of the craftsmanship of handmade pieces which were so prominent of that era. Now, almost everything we buy has a mass appeal, dumbed-down atheistic to it; and I was in search for those one-of kind pieces. For example, our bird-cage pendant is a hand-made wire cage, with functional door, complete with a bird inside. I refurbished the piece with required cleaning, placing the bird back on its pedestal and re-working the chain detail, adding in Swarovski crystal, vintage chandelier crystals and adding in various vintage chains for the completed look.

One-of-a-kind Vintage keys on gold chain and crystals, price upon request, by special order, Vintage Sexy Me Artisanal

DP: What is your approach to design? Is it by instinct or more thought out?

CC: It usually depends on the piece. We are currently working on an actual line, which we can present to stores, however many of my custom pieces are all instinct. Although I religiously peruse through fashion magazines, It doesn't feel natural to knock-off a design. I have my table at home, which I have all my materials, and pull from one thing to another, mixing textures, finishes, and techniques, until I feel as though a piece is complete. For example, last night while draping on my mannequin, my end result became a necklace I’m entitling “ Metal Lungs”, resembling a rib-cage and vertebrae.

RA- I try to create something no else has seen before , to get that “Wow” reaction . We think of something the customer might like and it make extra-ordinary. For example, we sell at Artists & Fleas our “Tuff Love” ring, a simple idea like heart ring but with our edge . We made it into a two and three finger knuckle duster with the hearts resting in between the crevasses of their fingers.

DP: Each piece is one-of-a-kind and handmade; couture if you will… was it important to stand out when it comes to quality and not solely on design?

CC: As a designer, I'm naturally a dreamer, but as an entrepreneur I want my designs to be desirable by the consumer. Occasionally I will do a piece made for that conversation or to catch a viewer's eye such as our body jewelry or the necklace shirt I made with chain mail shoulders. I’ve always enjoyed the idea of wearable art. Throughout my schooling, I was obsessed with McQueen and Hussein Chalayan with his table skirt and electronic clothing which moves. For my finale senior show I presented my illuminated evening wear, using sheer fabrics and LED lighting inside the garments to make the glow. So yes, that’s what fashion is for, to make dreams a reality!

RA: I come from the thinking of you can have your cake and eat it – every piece is made with the highest quality, and at the same time our designs are not compromised.

DP: Does the history of a piece of jewelry hold any meaning or inspiration to the two of you?

RA: Every piece has a story or inspiration – I’m sure not everyone wants to hear the story behind every piece but the key is to a create piece with the story on it and let the customer interpret it.

Vintage Opal and gold Pendant on Flat chain, price upon request, by special order, Vintage Sexy Me Artisanal

DP: Which pieces would the both of you consider the highlights of the collection?

CC: Definitely our Body (chains) Jewelry and our Knuckle Dusters

Gold and Silver Skull Crusher Knuckle Duster, price upon request, by special order, Fancy Sexy Me NYC.
DP: What metals and stones do you work with? Are there any favorite?

CC: For our knuckle dusters and pendants, we generally use sterling silver or 18K Gold over brass. We also take any custom order for platinum and 18kt gold for our statement necklaces, I tend to use Swarovski crystals in my pieces.

DP: Where is the re-worked vintage jewelry available? Is each piece bespoke (made-to-order) or readily available?

CC: Our re-worked pieces can be found at several of our current locations such as EXHALE SPA at the Central Park South Location and ETHEREAL in Long Island City. For any special requests, customers are more than welcome to contact us directly

DP: Who is your customer? Define who she or he is?

CC: One of my favorite aspects of this brand is that our customer is so diverse. Everyone and Anyone is our customer. It's someone who wants to feel beautiful, or make a statement, someone who has the personality behind the piece. Every weekend, we sell at Artists & Fleas (129 north 6th st) in Williamsburg Brooklyn. Many times it's mother/daughter shopping day and both will find something FSM that's needed in their wardrobe. For the mother it may be the Onyx Swarovski chain mail bracelet, and for the daughter our "Though Love" Knuckle Duster. Many of our pieces especially our pendants and rings are unisex and made for everyone.

DP: Is it important to have a strong connection with each customer?

CC: Absolutely. The fact that Ronen and I spend our weekends selling at the market is one of our strongest building points. It allows us to interact with our customers on a 1:1 basis, getting instant feedback on our designs, and catching up with our regulars we see every week. I live in the neighbor we sell in, so it's great to hear the newest restaurant opening and
hottest bar to grab drinks

RA : I think one of coolest experience I had in the market with a customer was meeting and interacting with Kylie Minogue. When she came to my table I had no idea it was her till the end of the transaction and I was just going back and forth joking and getting her feedback on our jewelry. She ended up buying the classic two and three finger knuckle dusters for herself and her sister, but she also requested something extra for them – she wanted the top of the pieces engraved with something special…

DP: Does the FSM studio ever produce pieces that are designer-client creations?

CC/RA: Our shop is in the same location as our showroom, which gives us the opportunity to meet with our clients directly, and present their piece immediately. Many of our stores, such as SHAG BROOKLYN wanted a knuckle duster with the company name on it. We will also be collaborating with them on special Valentine Day "Love Dusters" At the markets we do on-the-spot custom pieces upon customer request. We love the challenge of a custom piece, since it brings the eyes of on client into a reality from our designs. It definitely widens our horizons with our design aesthetics.

"Tuff Love" gold and silver Knuckle Dusters, price upon request, by special order at Fancy Sexy Me NYC.

DP: Are the two of you the craftsmen (craftswoman in the case of Cynthia) of all the jewelry that is made at the FSM Atelier?

CC: Ronen and I both hand-make all the pieces. While Ronen's specialty is in the metalwork with the rings and pendants, my specialty is the statement necklaces. We do, both bring new ideas to the table and challenge each other to push our designs to the next level.

DP: Do you have any upcoming trunk shows or events?

RA: We are have a special with Shag Brooklyn for Valentine’s Day featuring our Tuff Love heart rings with engravings check our website and www.weloveshag.com for more details.

Note: Vintage Sexy Me is available by special order at www.FancySexyMe.com or by appointment only at Fancy Sexy Me Atelier, 10W 47th street,Suite 508,New York, NY, 917.407.7026. Fancy Sexy Me ready-to-wear Jewelry is available at www.FancySexyMe.com, with prices ranging from $70 - $250, or visit them in Williamsburg, Brooklyn from 12-8pm at a young designer market, Artists & Fleas, 129 north 6th.street

All photos from Fancy Sexy Me NYC, 2010