Phantom Thread

Last night, I started to read The Glass of Fashion, a book by Cecil Beaton which was published in 1954. And the book conveyed me to a bygone time in which high fashion was art, not industry.

Why did I have a strong urge to pick up this book was because I wanted to linger in a particular era which was portrayed in a film, Phantom Tread. The life portrayed in the film was a small slice of the 50’s post-war Britain. And it was indeed, a very privileged one. …

 

The film, which Hubbie and I saw at the Barbican Cinema, was simply exquisite. It was beautifully shot, the storyline was original and the acting was superb. I loved everything, absolutely everything in it. And of course, Daniel Day-Lewis, he was divine. The fact that he has left his acting career behind after the film makes my heart bleed! Does it mean I will never see his inimitable smile, which is elegant yet impish, ever again? I am still heartbroken.

Another thing I pined for throughout the film was how I desired to time-travel to the era in which the film was set. Even though my mum, who experienced the reality of the post-WWll, may not agree with me, I did find the time very desirable.

The reason why I liked it so much was because everything appeared to be real and tactile. The life then was conducted more elaborately and properly. General things, even trivial things such as drinking tea or putting on clothing, appearred to be done with more care and joy. And respect and appreciation towards labour and service seemed to be more just and courteous.

What is luxury? I wonder. Nowadays, we are surrounded by objects which claim themselves to be “deluxe”. From fast food to fast cars, the notion is widespread and abundant. Despite it, I just can’t help feeling that we are decidedly poorer. I ponder why.

If I could, I would love to bring back Cecil Beaton and hear what he would comment about the state of luxury in the present time. He may have a fit or worse a heart attack but also he would give damn accurate (& savaging) digs at it too…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

The Last Jedi @ Barbican

Ahhhh, I enjoyed every minute of the 152 minutes film! The plot was great, the cast was fantastic and the special effect was superb. I was totally gripped by the spectacle in front of me from the beginning to the end. It was just marvellous!! In my personal opinion, this episode was better than The Force Awakens because the tempo of the story developing was faster and it added more excitements. Anyway, I am not gonna babble on about it any more because it will spoil your fun. Just go and watch it. You won’t regret it!

Watching the trailer of Journey’s End before the main event…

Long live, Star Wars! I can hardly wait for the future episodes!!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Magnum Photos Now @ Barbican

A week ago, Hubbie asked if I were interested in going to a lecture by Christopher Anderson at Barbican. ‘Yeah, I am.’ I answered as I sipped my cappuccino.

The lecture Hubbie was talking about was one of the lecture series, Magnum Photos Now, hosted by the Barbican.

Magnum Photos is a world famous photographic agency which is owned and run by its photographer-members. The agency was founded by Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and David Seymour on 6th February 1947, shortly after the Second World War. They opened a magnum of champagne to celebrate the occasion and as a result, this new co-operative was named as “Magnum”. One of the co-founders, Henri Cartier-Bresson, eloquently put the esprit de corps of the artist collective as “Magnum is a community of thought, a shared human quality, a curiosity about what is going on in the world, a respect for what is going on and a desire to transcribe it visually.”

This year, the organisation had become 70 years old and as a part of the celebration, Magnum Photos and the Barbican were hosting a series of lectures.

We arrived at Barbican Centre around 6pm and had a quick bite at a cafeteria within the compound. The sold-out lecture appeared to be very popular and all the people who were milling around the lift hall – the event was to be held in Frobisher Auditorium on the fourth floor – talked excitedly about it.

After queuing for 20 minutes or so, we were finally allowed to proceed to the venue…

Our lecturer was Christopher Anderson. And the subject was about portraiture.

Similar to some of the best known photographers, such as Robert Capa and Don McCullin, Christopher Anderson established his career as a photographer in the early 2000s by covering conflict zones – Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Israel/Palestine and the resulting works earned him international acclaim and awards.

Since then, he and his subjects have moved closer to home. In his recent project, Stump, which was assigned by Le Monde, he documented the backstage of the 2008 presidential campaign. The result was brutally honest exposure of the American political system, epitomised by the unflattering close-ups of the Washington elites.

Around 7:30pm, Mr.Anderson emerged on the stage and started his talk by saying apologetically, ‘Bear with me until I can wing it.’ And that was exactly what he did.

Unfortunately, the lecture was a flop.

The main problem was how little he was prepared for the talk. He hardly talked anything unique other than jazzing up the sentences with phrases like “Cutting through the noise”, “Emotional quality”, etc. I got increasingly frustrated while he literally “winged it”.

And the lack of chemistry between him and his interviewer, a curator from the National Portrait Gallery also compounded the problem. Can you picture it? While this curator person, rambling away her long abstract questions with her hands flapping like butterfly wings, him, curling up in his chair cross-armed and muttering cagey answers time to time. The way they were made the occasion somehow very awkward for the audience to sit through.

As we left the Barbican, I had to confessed to Hubbie that I was not impressed with the lecture and he agreed. We both agreed that we learnt nothing.

A picture speaks a thousand words. May be Mr.Anderson should have left his photos to do the talking, not himself…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Rain On Whitecross Street…

After feasting our eyes on Jean Paul Gaultier’s opulent creations, we realised how peckish we were and headed to the Foodhall again for a latte & cake break.
I normally avoided consuming caffeine after 3pm due to my occasional insomnia. However, walking around the exhibition sapped a significant amount of energy out of me and therefore I broke my cardinal rule and ordered a slice of coffee & walnut sponge as well as non-decaf skinny latte…

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The sky didn’t appear too threatening then. Just mottled clouds spread blanketing above us like an unmade bed…

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The inside of the Barbican always reminded me the 70’s in a good way…

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Shortly after I took this pic on Whitecross Street, the heavens opened and we ended up having to take shelter under the trees by the roadside…

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Mr.B was shielded from the elements safely inside his new doggie rucksack. How lucky him! Hubbie & I stood under the shade, praying for the rain to stop so we could head home…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Jean Paul Gaultier @ Barbican Gallery

Apart from having lunch at their Foodhall, the purpose of our visit to the Barbican was to see the exhibition “The Fashion World Of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk”…

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The show was conceived by the Montreal Museum of Fine Art which also owned most of the frocks on the display. The first exhibition was premiered in 2011 at Montreal…

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I was very much intrigued by the show because my dear friend, Letizia, who saw the same exhibition at San Francisco last year, was raving how amazing the whole experience was.

As I approached a row of mannequins on the pedestal which were clad with iconic garments by Monsieur Gaultier, their faces lit up and started to greet me by winking or smiling or even chatting! How remarkable!! This bewitching experience was created by the overhead projectors, which incorporated motion sensors, shone moving images on the mannequins’ faces.

Jean Paul Gaultier greets each visitor with his personal welcome…

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The experience was rather unsettling at first because the effect was so convincing and made the mannequins so lifelike…

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The exhibition showcased Mr.Gaultier’s creations from the early 70s to the present day…

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There were so many collections I admired but the one I loved the most was his punk themed collections…

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I was especially besotted with the detailing of this artificial fur skirt. The monsieur cleverly utilised the texture of the fleece to mimic air-brush like effect…

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There was also a “camouflage” dress…

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and a cape made with the same detailing of a MA1 flight jacket…

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Another of Mr.Gaultier’s take on the punk was an haute couture dress with “Whirl of legs” lining…

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The couturier has dressed many celebrities during his long career but the most famous one has to be Madonna. The corset with the infamous cone bra she wormed during her Blonde Ambition tour earned its wearer as well as dresser a significant amount of media exposure in the early 90s. The actual article was on the display together with the costumes of his another pop star client, Kylie Minogue…

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Nowadays, there seems to be blurred definition between what is underwear and what is not. However, it was sensational in the late 80s when Madonna debuted a Gaultier’s pink satin bodysuit. Now, the original garment appeared a little tired and even humble amongst the more opulent frocks. Yet, the item carried certain cultural significance on its slight shoulder straps.

The images below are what caught my eyes at the exhibition.

A black dress with an angel bodice…

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A dress with graphic insets…

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Digital printed insets made the frock strangely alluring…

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Complicated details around the hip of a Japanese kimono fabric inspired dress…

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A crocheted dress with structured shoulders…

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A cage like construction holds up the garment…

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A feather dress with the subtle nuance of the 30’s…

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A fur headdress inspired by the Eskimo…

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The Mongolian nomad?…

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Oversize hair accessory…

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A spectacular “Parrot” dress…

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A knitted dress with a giant face…

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The dress which is there but “barely” there…

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A man with a feathered bodice…

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A fez hat with eyelash…

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Hubbie & I both heartily agreed that we enjoyed the show enormously.
Gaultier’s intricate and sensual yet lighthearted and witty creations were entertaining and inspirational…

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This highly recommendable exhibition will be on until the 25th of August. Don’t miss out if you are around, or you will regret it forever…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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