Portrait of An Artist

The title of the recently released book ‘Portrait of an Artist’ by Hugo Huerta Marin, published by Prestel, sounds quite humble. It’s the subtitle: ‘Conversations with Trailblazing Creative Women’ that gives us a glimpse of what lays underneath the covers.

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Hugo Huerta Marin is a multi-disciplinary artist and graphic designer whose work focuses on gender and cultural identity.

‘Over the course of seven years and countless journeys’ the author met some of the most inspiring creative women in their homes, studios, galleries, theatres to take their portraits and have insightful conversations.

The selection of portraits is extraordinary: Miuccia Prada, Angelica Houston, Marina Abramovic, Rei Kawakubo, Julianne Moore, Annie Lennox, Shirin Neshat, FKA Twigs, Agnes Varda, Orlan, Uma Thurman among others – basically the book brings together all the incredible, inspiring, influential women you’d really like to meet.

Choosing instant photography such as Polaroid was brilliant too – the portraits look simple, intimate, yet very powerful and relevant.

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charlotte by hugo huerta marin

miuccia by Hugo huerta marin

The book is available at Prestel, Amazon, Penguin

Vogue Arabia March Highlights

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The 2021 March issue of Vogue Arabia comes with a statement cover page marking the 4th anniversary of the magazine as it was first published back in 2017. As an issue dedicated to creativity from MENA region (Middle East and North Africa), it features various ‘creative visionaries’  such as Mous Lanrabat, Alia Bin Omair, Mahira Abdelazizm, Mohamed Abdelhamid, Safeya Binzagr, Monir Shahroudyand more. Well done.

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Photo: Mous Lanrabat / Styling: Katie Trotter / Model: Athiec Geng / Editor-in-chief: Manuel Arnaut


Pirelli Calendar 2016 – Shifting The Perspective


Pirelli Calendar 2016 foreword – Chinese actress Yao Chen / Photographer: Annie Leibovitz

Featuring real people in recent fashion imagery is not entirely new. While the new direction has already been drawn (Joan Didion posed for Celine, Marc Jacobs or Lanvin featured real people and role models in their ad-campaigns), the Pirelli calendar 2016 highlights once again an important shift of perspective. The Italian tire company, worldwide renowned for its annual photo series of top models and celebrities, shot by the best fashion photographers, breaks conventions for 2016 and becomes conceptual.

Showcasing ‘women of achievement’ instead of usual semi-naked models, the 2016 Pirelli calendar presents a special gallery of 13 charismatic women of different ages, picked from various fields (actors, bloggers, business women, artists etc.).

In the pages of new Pirelli calendar, Tavi Gevinson and Serena Williams sit next to Patti Smith, Shirin Nehat, Fran Lebowitz or Yoko Ono. Shot by Annie Leibovitz, everything looks quite natural yet incredibly powerful. Fascinating! Focusing on the consistency of persons rather than ideal/desirable/commercial feminine looks, the Pirelli approach succeeds to make a statement on relevant movements in contemporary culture.

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The 12 ladies of Pirelli Calendar 2016: Natalia Vodianova, Kathleen Kennedy, Agnes Gund & Sadie Rain Hope-Gund, Serena Williams, Fran Lebowitz, Mellody Hobson, Ava Duvernay, Tavi Gevinson, Shirin Nehat, Yoko Ono, Patti Smith, Amy Schumer / Photographer: Annie Leibovitz

Joseph Kosuth – Agnosia

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Joseph Kosuth is one of the pioneers of conceptual and installation art. The creator of language-based works connected with broader fields as philosophy, psychology and literature, Kosuth constantly investigates the role of language and meaning within art. Neon installation, a kind of a ‘democratic’ medium used by Kosuth in many art projects,  takes new dimensions at Sean Kelly Gallery New York which currently hosts a Joseph Kosuth major retrospective.

Agnosia, an Illuminated Ontology‘ reunites over 40 of Joseph Kosuth works dating from 1960s to the present. The neon words and pictograms covering walls, ceiling and columns in a total architectural effect, propose the experience of an exquisite space opened to visitors till December 19.

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images via designboom.com

Cool Sporty Embroideries

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Lately, the possible connections that could be traced between fashion and art became the subject of quite interesting discussions. Whether fashion could be linked to the world of arts or whether art could play a fashion role – these questions remain opened for further explorations. On the other hand, we have to admit that we are dealing with two different things that don’t need to be forced to work together. At least not literally, like we saw in Viktor & Rolf demonstration for their last couture show.

In my opinion, the topic deserves a lighter treatment. That is why I picked James Merry’s work for example. His cute embroideries on vintage sweaters and his very personal way to adorn all those iconic sportswear logos with flowers, moss or mushrooms, seems to be a more adequate formula – smart, sincere, clean, honest… and wearable after all! The concept definitely deserves to be developed further while it could be extended at various levels.

James Merry, a very particular artist who spends his life between New York and Iceland, is already known as the creator of exquisite embroidered masks for Bjork’s stage shows or videos. James Merry is also a former collaborator of Damien Hirst and the author of an illustration book. His recent sportswear logo project (see the pictures) shows that he still has plenty to say, whether it would be in the field of art, fashion or something in between.

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Gala UAD 2015 – Closeup of the Show


The Fashion Design Gala of University of Art and Design Cluj-Napoca, a fashion event that has grown beautiful over the years, reaching its 21st edition in 2015, became a major reference of Romanian fashion design scene. Evolving in a professional context (both in terms of setup, organization and audience involved) the Gala show brings out a flow of creative energy, bursting with ideas and visual information – an almost hallucinatory gear that is uneasy to depict in a few words. Luckily, the pictures speak better than words.

Fortunately, an event of this scale enjoys a well deserved media coverage. Lots of reviews are written about UAD Fashion Gala every year. The same goes with this year’s edition. While I was wondering what else should I add to this chapter, I found appropriate to contribute with a few personal notes, highlighting some (technical) details  that caught my attention and probably were not so visible during the parade.

The show itself was impressive – the atmosphere at Sala Polivalenta Cluj-Napoca, the music, the long catwalk, the amazing audience. 26 collections of 35 were carefully selected for the show. Everyone could value the silhouettes outline, the simple and relaxed tailoring details, the shapes and fabrics developed by young graduates, along with accessories and styling. In addition, there was a welcomed difference between the BA and MA collections, in terms of concerns and creative approach, in the complexity of fashion discourse, in the way they developed and solved technical aspects. Graduation collections this year were coordinated by Prof.PhD Elena Basso Stanescu and Lect.PhD.Lucian Broscatean at BA level and by Prof.PhD Elena Basso-Stanescu and Prof.PhD Anca Pia Rusan at MA.

At first glance the collection displayed had a rather homogenous and unified look. At a closer examination the outfits become even more attractive. While most of the silhouettes and minimalist constructions presented on the runway  are perfectly synchronized to international trends in the field and have the great advantage of being extremely wearable. some particular fabrics, surface interventions or experimental approaches bring something extra, defining the identity of the Fashion Design Department of UAD. The official photos of the Gala, shot by Emil Costrut, allowed me to magnify some interesting details.


BACHELOR collections:


Bianca Negrea‘s Fuse – a well mastered collection, casual and distinguished at the same time, was inspired by Romanian traditional elements interpreted in a modern key. Starting from the Bear custom (an ancient New Year ritual, where individuals cover their bodies with straw), Bianca has developed a range of materials using beads and fringes of different thicknesses. Soft and ubercool robes, fringed accessories paired with huge bags have enjoyed great success, Bianca Negrea being one of the multi-awarded graduates of the 2015 Gala.


Aliz Simon‘s Nouvelle Ere collection talks about the meaning of femininity and sophistication nowadays. Her series of neoprene coats, with carefully designed volumes and proportions, subtle layering in shades of white and powder pink, make an intelligent dialogue between old and new, symmetrical and asymmetrical, elegant and normcore.


At Linda Szabo (Parallels) the outfits were inspired by New Look. Hence the 40s focus on shoulders and waist, it is worth noting the way those details were reinvented here in contemporary spirit. Keeping the story in neutral tones, Linda dealt mainly with volumetric exercises and surface treatment by subtle means – quilted details obtained by handmade embroidery and dashed lines prints. The shapes of the skirts look very modern and new, while the harnesses and padded bags complement the outfits.


The materials used for Isabela Teodor‘s collection La Vita e Bella deserve a special mention. Long leather coats and pants were hand painted through repeated interventions achieving a special patina effect. The combination of these artsy pieces with white blouses bring out a luxurious look.


With White Reflection, Sim Arabela managed one of the most popular white collections on the catwalk of the Gala. If simplicity and elegance are desirable but can just as easily slip into banality, Arabela Sim has to be valued for the way she handled the silhouettes and proportions of this collection, adding large embroideries with shiny beads, and a couple of nice clutches.


Asphalt collection by Sorana Barb delivers a series of leather pieces, where the rhythms of black / white, matt / gloss are supported by round tailoring, asymmetrical parts and bold accessories made out of car mats.


The Untitled collection by Diana Ilea uses minimal means – simple lines, a few basic materials, black and white stripes and graphic prints inspired by Tapies, yet manages to get some fresh outfits, highly wearable and up to date. I appreciated the proportions and styling elements that complete the look: Birkenstocks, red socks, plastic bags. I think the strength of this collection is in the way it succeeds to combine the artsy elements with the so called normcore streetstyle.


Ana-Maria Leordean invites us to a Journey to the center of the heart, conveying an energetic message, innocent and visceral at the same time. The playful costumes decorated with funny badges or the huge heart printed on pleated fabric simply cannot go unnoticed.


Diana Chis with her Artificial Creatures, stands out through well-studied patterns, nice combinations of fabrics (wool mixed with Lurex and nude tulle), interesting closure systems. Note the double clutches that complement the clean-cut outfits.


Nadejda Iacubina with her collection titled “Marry me, mother!” conveys a genuine message picked from Romanian folklore. She recalls “the girl fair from Gaina”, an ethno-cultural manifestation that once made possible the meeting and the marriage of  youth in Transylvania. The theme provides a great opportunity for the designer to process leather and wooden details, to pleat, stitch or fray raw canvases into remarkable unisex outfits. Following the main features of Romanian traditional costumes, this type of clothes can cope equally well on a fashion catwalk, in an art exhibition or in a modern wardrobe.


Sugar Rush, a signature statement of Diana Dobrescu, literally shone on the catwalk of the Gala. Outfits composed as collages of tinfoil that make you think at sweets packaging from supermarket shelves were paired with toy necklaces and transparent bags containing all sorts of candies, sweets and other surprises.


MASTER collections:



Ancuta Sarca, fascinated by color and creative effervescence specific to urban subcultures, defines her concept of Eleganza in vibrant details, obtained by unconventional means. The pieces, modeled by real people, and cut from alternative materials such as plastic foil, lacy oilcloth accessorized with vintage jewelry, exude an air of aristocratic and irresistible energy. Inspired by all things related to excess, decadence, luxury, eclecticism, this collection stands out as one of the most colorful appearances on the catwalk of Gala 2015. The paintings adorning the outfits are signed by artist Andreea Tivadar.


Innumerable collection, belonging to Alina Morar, takes inspiration from Romanian subcultures. Exploring a niche aesthetics and pushing good taste to the limit, Alina transforms “maneliada”(a journey through the world of manele music) in a very exciting fashion experience. This generates a series of cool outfits inspired by male tailoring, using classic fabrics redesigned (striped fabrics or  Jaquards), equipped with opulent details and kitch touches.


Cycle in Style collection (by Andrea Szanto) deserves a special mention for the way the designer choses to rework sportswear fabrics specific to cycling and make some creative combinations with mesh, sequins or rigid bands. The lightweight jackets, the apron-skirts, the pants with bright accents on the pockets or sequins attached to the inside seams definitely have to be considered for a fashionable wardrobes.


Anca Zaharia‘s NORMA/DEADAL collection is concerned about issues such as innovation, functionality, ergonomics, technology, future materials. She combines extremely elaborate masculine outfits (oversized jackets with details processed by laser cut techniques and digital print) with elastic therapeutic tapes – a styling idea that I liked a lot.


Loredana Ghetie talks about metrosexual narcissism making explicit references to urban society, contemporary glamor and its inherent superficiality. She used the concept of “Multiglitter Man“. The outfits, worn by female models for the show, are borderline kitsch, yet highly qualitative, wearable and cool.


For her Nouveau Riche collection, Inga Bragaru introduces expensive fabrics – leather, fur, velvet and sequins, in order to delineate a fabulous, snobbish and arrogant character. The final look brings a touch of theatricality, which is ultimately very attractive. The option for color blocks – from poison green, indigo and cobalt blue to orange, black and gold, with all those styling elements (long gloves and head bows), fill the picture perfectly.


Magdalena Butnariu has a longtime fascination for natural elements (if we remember the hairpieces. teeth and branches that she formerly used to accessorize her BA collection). For her MA collection entitled SPIRIT AMARA – “AN YE HARM NONE, DO WHAT YE WILL” she inserted plants into the structure of materials or placed them into glass bags that become portable terrariums.

ANDREEA-CASTRASE-3 ANDREEA-CASTRASE-4 Rites of passage, Andreea Castrase‘s collection, drew everyone’s attention through the maturity of creative approach, the consistency of final look, sophisticated details, exceptional finishes. Beyond the elegant shapes, the intellectual and poetic undertones (which already enshrined Andreea as a young designer with many national and international awards under the belt), we have to note the remarkable details: laser cut laces, bands and buckles that accessorize dresses subtly remodeling their shapes.

Images sources: Francis Sandor (catwalk atmosphere Gala 2015) / Emil Costrut (catwalk images used for the cropped the details).



Now, when there’s no Margiela around (in terms of really experimental, subversive, avant garde fashion) hopefully we have Vetements

Vetements is a young Paris based fashion label run by an international collective of seven designers trained at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Die Angewandte in Vienna and Studio Berçot in Paris. Their Fall 2015 collection was recently showed at Paris Fashion Week. The show, held in the basement of Paris’ famous gay club Le Depot displayed oversized jackets, asymmetric dresses, sporty harnesses and skin-tight snakeskin platforms. With a casting of real people everything looked bold, subtle, odd and really creative in terms of  product design.

In French, “Vetements” literally means “clothes” – it’s simple. The design approach goes into the same spirit: it’s about producing beautiful clothes that are made to be worn. However, there’s a particular energy embedded in these deceptively simple outfits. Of course, the styling adds a particular flavour to the overall look, but even so we can feel there was a great concern in the making of the garment. Working on a piece of clothing, exploring its hidden details, subtly reconfiguring shapes and lines, taking risks – these preoccupations are extremely rare these days.

Vetements’ fashion esthetic, the way they play with proportions and volumes, the mix of raw with sophisticated details may seem margielesque, like their choice to remain invisible as creative individuals. Anyhow, there’s a new breath and many possibilities that can start from here, while being anonymous is an act of courage today more than ever. Focusing on well-done basic pieces above anything else, Vetements it’s not just a label but a genuine project by itself.

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Vetements Fall 2015, catwalk images via style.com