Edita reads | Alexander McQueen – Genius of a Generation By Kristin Knox

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I’m gonna tell you something you don’t want to hear
I’m gonna show you where it’s dark, but have no fear.

– Kavinsky – Nightcall

I really wanted to write about the Savage Beauty exhibit at the V&A for a while now. It was equally important for me to honour the museum’s requirement for no photography. Considering the amount of people watching the Alexander McQueen exhibition, I don’t actually think it would be possible to make any good-angled photos in any case. Still, all the thoughts and feelings started to hoard in my head – a release was vitally necessary.

A few years ago, a good friend of mine gave me a fantastic book on the late designer – Alexander McQueen: Genius of the Generation by Kristin Knox. Coincidentally the book carries the same sentiment as the Savage Beauty exhibit, so combining the two was in the stars. I call it emotional fashion. McQueen’s designs provoke you to feel. It’s you and Lee against the world, the rest does not matter. The fact that the rest doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter either.

McQueen’s designs emphasised an art-or-die aesthetic and that’s what I’ve always loved about his work. Theatre, fine arts, literature as well as historic, traditional craft and metalwork – all of it has a home in McQueen’s creations. It’s art that touches the soul and fashion that makes one honoured to be the owner of a piece by Alexander McQueen. It’s an emotional whirlwind and you are no bystander, not even a mere participant. You are at the epicentre of it all, the culmination point, the reason. You, the viewer, not even the wearer, play the hugest role in McQueen’s fashion.

Some designers design clothes to wear, McQueen created clothes to watch. With our mouths open and without uttering a word. The fear of beauty. Savage, captivating, all-conquering, mind-enslaving beauty.

Edita reads | The Art of Bedouin Jewellery By Heather Colyer Ross

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This book is an amazing profile of Saudi Arabia and the jewellery pieces specific to each region of the Kingdom. What I personally enjoyed looking at was the map of how semi-precious and precious stones, glasswork and design influences have travelled to the gardens of Allah from all over the world.

From medieval times, jewellery has been the sole luxury for the people of the dessert. Generally, the Bedouin people are very practical in the sense that all they really required are the bare necessities such as shelter, food, water, farming work and trade. The good life, the simple life. And yet there is nothing simple in the art of Bedouin jewellery. Local artisans are known for their scrupulous work when it comes to detailing and unique use of metal alloys.

Over the years what we now call Bedouin silver has earned a reputation of being a low grade, readily tarnished metal. Indeed, as it is tradition to melt down pieces belonging to past generations and create new artworks for the young, it is close to impossible to find historical pieces. By melting the silver and mixing in other metals, the purity of silver has gone down steadily, paradoxically adding charm and uniqueness to the craft.

There are now larger sales of Bedouin pieces around the world – but this does not derive from the fact that life’s good and demand is on the rise. On the contrary, the people of the dessert opt for selling their creations rather than keeping them. Some days are tougher than others.

But weddings are immune to tougher times. Any Bedouin bride, regardless of her status within the tribe, will wear the most epic of creations on the day of her wedding. Head, nose, neck, ears, waist – everything will be covered in artisan pieces, even if they are just borrowed for the day. Of course this makes me admire the devotion to tradition of the Bedouin people. I learn from them everyday.

While Bedouin jewellery can be bought almost anywhere these days, for the most unique pieces head over to the female-only souq in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I know one day I will.

Edita reads | Couture Wedding Gowns By Marie Bariller

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We place so much expectation on a wedding dress. It has to be the “one”, “the” dress, the “most important dress a woman will wear in her life”. Sounds very stressful, if you ask me. Since we’re on the topic of questioning the system, here’s another thing I can’t figure out: Most important, eh… Says who?

Who said that one’s wedding dress has to be all of the above? With a tank full of questions, I opened the tome on wedding attire – Couture Wedding Gowns by Marie Bariller. This book is no laughing matter and I can afford no sarcasm, in fact I can’t afford anything at all – this is a catalogue of the most expensive dresses in the world. It doesn’t go above the prices of the creations listed here.

From Alberta Ferretti, Chanel through Jean Paul Gaultier to Zuhair Murad, this book has the biggest wedding dress masterminds profiled, quoted and their brilliant creations exhibited. There were a few names I expected to see but didn’t. One was Bruce Oldfield, the other Catherine Walker. I felt at least one traditional British couture house had to be in – but not on this occasion.

That doesn’t take away from the wedding lalaland that this book easily makes any bride (or not yet bride) escape to. If you didn’t know what dress was for you, after opening this book you will. You just will. Even if it’s not published in this bridal bible.

What made it interesting for me is that this book reveals what it feels for the designer him or herself to sketch, conceptualise and make a wedding gown. For these types of commissions fashion and trends take the backseat while personality and emotions are the Anna Wintours on the front row. Designing a wedding dress is an intimate affair for everyone involved.

I still find it mind-blowing that the couturier’s task is to summarise a woman as a dress, a white one. Sounds like an extraordinarily strict brief, but this is what separates the boys from the men of wedding couture: one white dress, not any two alike. That well may be the reason why it is “the” dress – it is an extension of the woman. Without her it is nothing and on her, everything.

Thank you Abrams and Chronicle for my copy. You can buy yours directly from the publisher too.

Edita reads | Piaget

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When I was a teen, I remember hating watches. I thought they were just plain ugly pieces that one was supposed to wear when he was older. I now know why I felt this way – I had no good examples to look at. Piaget was not a word in my vocabulary. Thank goodness for growing older and growing wiser. Thank goodness for this book.

The truth is this tome (and it is certainly a tome as it is heavier than my monthly grocery shop) is not necessarily for jewellery lovers. If you consider yourself one, you will delight in looking at the pretty pictures and the vintage Piaget ads here and there. You will be limited to this though.

To truly soak in the glory of this book, you must be willing to immerse yourself in the world of jewellery, from the meticulous process of making it, marketing the goods, through to understanding a brand with historical significance. All of these aspects are covered in Piaget, so to really enjoy this book in a maximalist sense, being a jewellery lover is simply not enough – you must have a healthy obsession with fine jewellery and watchmaking.

Lest we forget that Piaget is the brand that invented jewellery that tells time. That is a radically different way of looking at traditional watchmaking, that is known to be rather rigid and almost exclusively masculine. This is the moment when you picture a man (à la David Gandy) in a a sharp suit looking to his right, a golden Rolex around his wrist nonchalantly shining in the morning sun. Piaget thought, yes, let’s have that. But let’s also make watches sexy and exaggerated. So add a particularly feminine lady in front of our David Gandy lookalike wearing stacks of fine jewels and no watches. After all it’s her timeless jewellery that tells time. Genius.

From 1874 to this day Piaget has stayed within the confines of its own motto: Always do better than necessary. Because of that as time goes by, Piaget’s jewellery keeps on ticking as the brand’s diamonds and emeralds continue shining on. Get this book to find out just how brightly.

This book is written by Florence Müller. Photographs are by Philippe Garcia and Steve Hiett. Get a copy via Abrams and Chronicle. Thank you for my copy!

Edita reads | Paris Street Style: Shoes by Isabelle Thomas And Frederique Veysset

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There was that one time when I was a bit feverish and I told my boyfriend: “Could you please find a zero brain work movie for us to watch? I need some mind numbness.” He then found a really bad Steven Seagal movie. It was epic, it was just what the doctor ordered: an ageing Seagal fighting zombies with some mind blowing special effects including sounds like ha-tschhhhh and d-schhhhh as punches.

Of course, had I been in the mood for some serious cinema I would probably be moaning to you right now about how I wish I could get that one hour of my life back.

That’s how I feel about this book, Paris Street Style: Shoes by Isabelle Thomas and Frederique Veysset. It’s harmless, entertaining and will inspire you to buy a pair of shoes. I was pleasantly surprised to see a few pairs that I already own photographed and serenaded to; including creepers by Underground, Louboutins, Nikes and Walter Steiger heels.

Shoe fans will not put this book down until they read it cover to cover. At least three times. It’s a compelling nonchalant read – that’s how French it is.

The authors don’t shy away from crude phrases and some will make you cringe. The translation from French to English doesn’t always work. I am multilingual, so I could feel the awkward grammar crawl in here and there which I found wildly entertaining.

But enlightenment and education are not the primary reasons one picks this book up. You pick it up because it’s on your coffee table as a bookssessory. Because it is a true relief hearing chic French people voice their disgust at nylon knee high socks that cut into your knees, about feet in dire need of a pedicure and marvel at the fact that the word hooker is used in a fashion book.

I can’t find any faults with this read because I take it for what it is: a subject of envy when seen on my coffee table and a book that solidifies my status as a “fashionista” in front of everyone. It’s a piece of fantastic entertainment. Enjoy the cringes, enjoy the bluntness and enjoy the fashion.

Just like you wouldn’t look for Cubrick’s directorial brilliance in a Seagal movie, don’t look for academic conceptualistic fashion in this book. You will however learn to speak French using shoes only. And that’s a skill worth having.

Thank you to Abrams & Chronicle Books for sending me a copy.