Boulevard Chanel

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It comes that time of year once again, paparazzi flock, models strut, and Lagerfeld bows.

The Chanel parade, the most sought after seat in the annual fashion event calendar, brings together fashion royalty, A-list celebrities, and a worldwide audience waiting to see what Karl can make possible, year in and year out. His vision is assembled once a year, with the Grand Palais his canvas, and each season’s garments his paints- from the mundane antics of a (Chanel) supermarket, to the icebergs from the Arctic, and a hay-ridden ranch filled with Lily Allen’s voice- it’s the show that stops an industry. Blogger’s Instagram posts can’t do it justice, nor can Wintour resist a smirk, while Lagerfeld gets up out of his seat, almost too dazed to care, walking next to his Chanel-girl pack of protesters as if it happens every day.

It’s hard not to envy those blessed with an invitation, this year in it’s simplest form, inviting each guest to view the Spring-Summer 2015 Ready-to-Wear collection down the  ‘Boulevard Chanel’, a street erected in the heart of the Grand Palais’s famous glass dome, where models walked casually down the footpaths, over pedestrian crossing and beneath apartment balcony’s on their way to, well…a protest. It wasn’t until the calm had passed, when Delevingne led all fifty Chanel-draped models down the Boulevard for the final time. Posters in arm, tweed in stride, and Lagerfeld by their side.

While the show was obvious in it’s purpose, (and cemented later by Lagerfeld himself) the Chanel girls took a stroll down the Boulevard, epitomising the free-spirited, active and modern young women that Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel herself, envisioned wearing her suits nearly seven decades before. With feminist hype in the air well before the show went on, the flared suit pants and padded jackets embody the masculinity that the world wants to see, yet embellished with jewels, sequins and silk neckties, reminding us that yes, they are still women. While there were classic Chanel A-lines, black-and-white tweed, and enough flat boots to put in goodies bags, the vibrance of colour and flamboyant prints were a reminder of freedom, equality and from what I saw, a 1960’s cluster of hippies on their way to Woodstock (wearing Chanel).

As i’m half way across the other side of the world, and a million miles both in time and space from the show itself, I sit replaying the video, reading every article and admittedly, envying each guest. Despite the fashion F.O.M.O and a frustration of viewing the chaos from behind a computer screen, when my time comes, i’ll be the most prepared guest Lagerfeld has ever invited- with Chanel boy bag in arm, my invitation framed and most probably the iphone10S ready to snap the next tweed ensemble- hopefully the Palais remains packed and at the edge of their seat to see what this fashion house genius still has in stall for them, ten (plus) years down the track.

Watch the full video here

Spring-Summer 2015 Ready-to-Wear

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Paris Fashion Week Fall 2014


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Paris Fashion Week 2008 Winter/Fall

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Paris Fashion Week Spring 2011

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Paris Fashion Week Winter 2010/2011

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Paris-Bombay 2011/2012

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Paris Fashion Week Winter 2012

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Models present creations by German desig

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Pool side with Slim Aarons

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I have a crush on Slim Aarons.

The man who gained access into exclusive precincts of the beau monde, essentially achieving the status as ‘court side photographer’. Where the glittering class and all their grandeur are captured and framed within each 35mm print, from starlets to princesses, moguls and mavens, aristocrats and arrivistes. He joined them on yearly Verbier ski getaways, and too quickly juxtaposed to their bougainvillea-festooned villas, speckled across the Riviera, the smells of the summers long ago still seeping through each photo.

 It wasn’t until three days until an artwork was due, that I found myself staring at a blank drawing pad, my Tumblr archive open for inspiration, and pencil in hand. This artwork I thought would be snatched out of thin air, was proving more difficult, and as a fully-trained perfectionist I wasn’t settling with the bare minimum.

When it comes to originality, my younger sister knows what’s up- and once realising my creative juices were not flowing for this particular project I went to her for back up. Known as ‘Nasteh’ in the cyber world, her loyal followers watch as she chooses to post on a not-so-regular basis, claiming (what I think) is the most humble curation of Purienne-inspired posts to grace social media. While our creative style is often at odds with one another, she never fails to give me the tips and tricks to spark my own ideas- this time it was Sammy Slabbinck. An artist working with mixed media collages, superimposing mundane objects or landscapes, each in careful placement to suggest something almost surreal.

With her unique style in mind, I created my own by appropriating the infamous Slim Aarons photographs epitomising the LA pool-side culture of the 60s. The scale of architecture and the human energy within his photos have always informed Aarons’s works, noted for his socialites, jet-setters and celebrity subjects. He claimed his career was made by “photographing attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places” but somehow ridding each frame of the naff and over-indulgent, only revealing the subtle beauty of fame and fortune. Clipping photos from his book Slim Aarons: A Place in the Sun (2005), a new meaning was given to each photo as I deconstructed, rearranged and added in my own adaptations. While replacing the perfect pool water with overflowing popcorn didn’t do the photograph justice, there is something grotesquely beautiful about a fast-food symbol finding its way into the poolside serenity.

The ‘Rockpools’ were born from the idea of diamond clippings from glossy magazines, where every second page sported yet another big-name brand and their jewelry products, whether Cartier, Tiffany’s or the ‘perfect gift’ from Bvulgari- why does it matter? Once carefully removed from their context and stuck down amongst the rocks of the photo, even Aarons’s celebrity subjects couldn’t tell the difference. In another, the mundane European beach scene embedded within the pool, and a milkyway encrusted with beads painting the sky, the two ladies sit unaware of any change, subtlety depicting the reality of what Aaron’s captured almost 50 years ago.

In my eyes, Aaron’s works epitomise photographic perfection, being an artist in his own right, and in doing so, he constantly defined the image of the ‘Beautiful People’, the Hollywood jet setters and those who strode the world’s stage in the postwar decades like young gods.

Despite deconstructing Aaron’s best, or creating my own from scratch, an original print from this photography god has most definitely cemented itself at the top of my art lust list, dreaming about the day I can sit poolside with Slim Aaron’s himself in company.

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“Poolside with Slim Aarons” series, 2014 1/3

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“Poolside with Slim Aarons” series, 2014 2/3

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“Poolside with Slim Aarons” series, 2014 3/3

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The Face that Stops a Nation

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It’s easy to forget about Sydney’s galleries when you’re constantly flooded with eye candy via Instagram, blogs and even Facebook groups promoting the new art curations. It isn’t until you’re back in the flesh of it all that you truly appreciate the talent that seeps through our own sandstone walls, rather than the ones we travel so far to visit. While it’s definitely no MOMA, and (only just) slightly less impressive than the Guggenheim herself, NSW Art Gallery puts on the annual Archibald Prize, showcasing the iconic Australian faces which are identified even without a plaque. I slipped in last minute today to see the finalists hung proudly, with eyes staring from every direction and the hushed murmurs of young and old alike- all putting on their best critic voices from the other side of the canvas. I’ve always thought judging art is too hard a job, almost defeating the point of it being so subjective and contextual; and when viewing the winner for this year, Fiona Lowry’s Penelope Seidler, I almost get frustrated at not agreeing with the choice. Poised, centre-frame and created with one colour, the subject stares out of her canvas, almost through the audience- like something out of a modern horror movie. Being a fond drawer myself, while I can appreciate the impeccable talent, it just wasn’t sitting right- so off I was into the next room, slightly moved by the haunting figure staring at me while I made my exit.

This year, portraits hung in all shapes and sizes- sporting Missy Higgins and her lesbian lover, Bollywood scenes and a reflection from a Spongebob Squarepants helium balloon, proving, that when a brilliant hand meets their perfect subject, magic happens. It’s as much about the subject as it is the artist, where the average viewer recognises those familiar faces- titled Cate, Take 1/ Cate, Take 2, synonymous even without the Blanchett to accompany it- urging the question, who would I use as my subject?

Art is a funny thing- should you like it based purely on what it looks like on first glance? Or is it so embedded with the artist’s meaning and emotion that it will take two visits to feel that connection? My Grandma showed me a whole new side to a gallery safari today, where the exhibition booklet was snatched up first thing through the doors, pen out, and notes written- by the end of the tour not a blank space left. My little brother however, took a sketch pad and pencil- almost invisible amongst the swarm of people as he sat drawing on the classic gallery bench, developing his own masterpieces every inch at a time…hopefully the first steps to his own portrait piece. My sister, looking through her third eye, the i-phone camera lens, moved from one to the other, documenting every step of the way- I suppose (and I hope) the 21st century, hipster-eqsue way of appreciating the talent on show.

Though often marked with controversies and the lack of wall space to hang them all, it puts the best Australian talent on view like no other arts prize can. For that I am proud, and the next time I find myself marvelling at Picasso in Musee D’Orsay, i’ll have hope that maybe one day in the future, an Archibald will grace those same walls, so that they too, can be appreciated for generations to come.

Below are my favourite portraits from what I saw today.

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