Inside The Conceptual Gears of Machine-A

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It was something less than a year ago when Dazed & Confused popped the question: “Is East London Dead?. The time for the Olympics was almost there and the once talent-blooming district was weathering. Dazed, made a great attempt to keep this memory alive, and that stuck in my head for the next nine months. 

The magical thing I experience every time in London is that, without really knowing, the streets lead me where I need to be; so my walk on Brewer street led me to Machine-A. I got in. It was conceptual. It even smelled conceptual. I wandered around a bit. I saw Mugler, MCM, Simons. And then I saw the neoprene whisperer Peiran Gong & Tigran Avetisyan, Central Saint Martins’ wunderkind among others. Machine-A was not just another urban shop; it was a boutique of a high-leveled sartorial curation.

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Fun(ny) fact: While I was blabbing with my friends about how very, absolutely much I wanted to reside forever in Machine-A in greek, the owner & Creative Director Stavros Karelis joined the conversation: it turned out he was a compatriot. 

We had a small chat about the general fashion scene in Greece and the fact that he knew what was missing from it, made me understand a bit more deeply & instantly his passion for innovation that shares with his team: co-director & awesome stylist Anna Trevelyan, Ashley Smith & Ella Dror from Ella Dror PR.

What I also found out was that Machine-A counted only two days on Brewer street, since it relocated. So, relocation brought reinvention, along with fashion’s most promising East talents.

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What Karelis accomplished with Machine-A lies in the fact that it’s a non-restricting platform that creates -not only gives- the stance to go against the flow. Innovation just for the sake of innovation is one of our generation’s plague with no actual contribution. Agi & Sam, Sibling, Alex Mattson, Ashley Williams speak with their promising talent & their desire to make a statement, not just be fashion.

But not only the boutique’s designers stimulate this conceptual interaction, but the boutique itself since it will be a host to other forms of art, so that the current perceptions of artistic expression will be expanded. 

I can’t say that the Dazed review is stuck in my head anymore. East London’s creative pulse has not stopped beating - in fact, it’s more alive than ever. 

Take a walk to Machine-A to see for yourself.

13 Brewer Street
London W1F ORH

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Image collage: Eau de Style

Interview with a sartorial storyteller: Naomi Maaravi

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One thing that people are constantly looking for -subconsciouly, most of the times- is something to relate to. A triggering of memory & senses every once in a while, when they know they need it and when they don’t. Serendipity of emotional attachment, if you prefer. 

While my visit in Tel Aviv, one autumnal evening, designer Naomi Maaravi & I met. Her boutique was a warm little place where it was evident that she’d personally put pieces of her life into it. I wanted to get to know the story behind. Little did I know that Naomi was a storyteller herself. Of the sartorial kind.

She has the rare talent of redesigning old clothes that bare a story with them, into shiny & new ones. So, their story goes on & gets enriched by new adventures.

After a couple of months & some more later, Naomi & I had a chat -some may call it an interview too-  about memory, style & stories so you can see into how many shades inspiration can be unfolded. 
(Spoiler: Much more than Grey.)

Take a look!


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On the beginning & identity

I am a Dutch designer studied in the Netherlands fashion textile and theater costumes. I have an extensive experience in the world of clothes without boarders: in theater, dance (Bianca van Dillen), music (Candy Dulfer) and fashion from underwear (Delta for ck, Hugo Boss, Polo Ralph Lauren etc.) to outerwear (NafNaf, Mexx etc.), from baby (Shilav) to wedding, from Holland to Israel through Milan & Paris with love and passion through work and through life.


The story began 12 years ago when I made my first piece for my daughter. It was a dress I created from a pair of jeans my husband had worn out. My father did that. He never threw anything away, never ever. He created a new world out of items the were considered having no value anymore. Milk bottles became lamps. Strings and ropes were made into carpets or seats. Combinations of old bikes, appliances and garments became interesting, new, useful or just lovable objects. My father taught me that every item has value, no matter how old or broken up, everything has a soul, an identity. Behind every object there is a story.

As a result of my father’s teaching, I considered that every garment has a personality, something that makes it unique, individual and precious. Like the person to whom it belonged. I give the stories their continuation. I re-use my own collected high-end materials or the emotional & valuable personal materials given to me by my clients to create new stories, new garments, different & unique. I put my heart in every piece I create like a writer puts something of himself into the story he tells.

My memories, events, happiness, sadness are all parts of the material I use, blended to create unique garments with stories of their own. I worked in several companies but it was my husband who gave me my life present, to realize and fulfil my dream in all its facets, emotionally, technically & by belief. [The fact] that I have a store (laboratory) today is because of my husband who wanted so much to fulfill my dream - he was the one who said “quit your job”; he was the one who came home one day and said “I found you a place”; he is the one who made my dream tangible.

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On the favourite story

The one from  Yael, now 67 but when she was (I believe) 10 years old her mother made a dress for her for a party Yael was afraid the dress will not finish on time, her mother calmed her down, but …her mother died.Yael kept all the unfinished garments (sweaters yarns etc.) in a bag who her brother used in child hood for his marbles. On her 67 she came to me to make something out of it .. I used a blanket of the grand father of my kids, knitted sleeves from her left over yarns and started to tell her story by sewing .. it became a wonderful coat where mainly inside  the story is told. 


On memory

Memory is something you capture or suddenly remind you by some of your senses… It brings you back or it can capture something you don’t want to loose.. For me, an essence and safety feeling.


On her photography wall

When i lived in Milan just when i finished fashion school i was 22; poor, hardworking and bit lonely .. So i started to hang pictures of my loved ones; I could see them, talk to them share  etc it was the time without Internet mobiles, faxes and a phone abroad was extremely expensive. From then on  photo wall moved with me it wherever I was wherever I am, also at home! I believe it started as a kind of Facebook page for that time and still is a memory communication platform (also my books are like that and my clothes too - collecting and communicating).

 

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On each story’s creation

I do not come up with a story, i listen to the people who have stories and i try to tell them further, or i get inspired from things like a camera and then try to see what are the possibilities to tell also another story then the purpose of the camera (they became jewelries).

On personal style & the plethora of fashion bloggers

To me personal style means personality  means, you express yourself via clothes; lots of people need clothes to belong to something .. Personal style is more expression of yourself. I personally like fashion bloggers - they use the new media and that is OK truly, I am personally more connected to the bloggers who have something to say than the ones who like to show themselves. But if I do not like to look at it there is a button. I like the Internet because “I can be everywhere in the world” if  I want to.


On future stories

Not really [longing for any particular one]. I get excited when suddenly someone comes in with stuff, tells the story and I feel like I need to do it. I wish for more time and more understanding of the value of the process and outcome in money. Maybe when I get wedding dresses from the mothers and I make a new one for the new wedding or I make a piece for my kids out of the story of me my husband and even generations before.


On sentiment & fashion and the danger of ending in the “trend pile”

[I find] the word “fashion” a difficult word . I am personally not connected to fashion as a look only. I find it unpleasant that fashion can manipulate people to feel that they are not beautiful as they are they have to look thin young and perfect. I like people and I like the in perfection because that makes us special. Further I like fusions, I  like morals, I like intelligence, I like emotions, I like feelings, I like that we care about what we have. Fashion is so often running; I like the part of slow fashion and awareness. Trends are moments, moments that are at time interested us. So if at the moment we are more attached to sentiment good for us! I do what I like, what I love with love, surrounded by a team that have the same values and I hope that people are connected to it and want to be part of it.

 

To be a part of it, follow Naomi Maaravi’s world here

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Images by Naomi Maaravi

Edit by Eau de Style

It’s a printless world / Or, is it?

One of the things that bug me the most, is how my short stay in the geology department has accomplished the unthinkable: me, detecting elements of mother Earth every-fuckin’-where. Fresh example: my latest article for Twelv magazine. And even though I enjoyed writing it to the fullest, I knew I’d opened the Pandora’s box.

Yes, horizons ‘n all are broadened but you see, this post was originally intended to touch on the critical issue of“Prints, taking over the streets & runways –have we had enough?”

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Then one day while having  a break from studying, my dear friend Alex dropped by, saw some (pretty cool I must admit) images of microscopic ore deposits and he uttered something that stuck in my head: “If I were you, I’d use them on the blog somehow”.

After I’ve killed off my intentions for a printless article; after the RTW F/W 2013-14 presentations are over and the break of the designers’ majority from massive prints was evident, here I am puzzled about  what’s next.

One of the collections that will be unlikely for me to forget is Pedro Lourenco’s  Pre-Fall 12;  a wonderful feeling of icy minimalism came through. Don’t know if it was the general icy white set or his prints, inspired by the spectacular landscapes of Patagonia. 

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My memory of Alex & Lourenco (and a bit of Mary Katrantzou F/W 13) gave a possible answer to my above question:  since designers never get tired of infusing hints of nature into their creations, why not take full advantage of it & search beyond the obvious and beyond the images our eyes can meet anytime.

(That way, maybe geology will come in handy after all. You know, besides playing a critical part to our evolution, duh).

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Collages edited by Eau de Style

Fashion, Interrupted // A signature thing you wouldn’t understand

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. The overexposure to purely scientific knowledge has rapidly grown a need inside me for purely philosophical questions - from myself, answered by my schizophrenic self. You see, there’s an exquisite confusion in trying to find answers in a non-practical way, that I can’t help but allow myself to give into.

The first stimulus for this brainstorm was Eau de Style’s new look & more precise perspective. The affair of fashion & art has always been triggering me, but things have got to start from somewhere to get in line. And I just didn’t know where the hell this starting point was.

The answer came the oher night while I was scrolling down the I Love You magazine site & Ride of the Valkyries was on. Literally, it was a Holy-Dove-shits-on-my-head kinda moment when I finished an interview of the magazine with artist Ayse Erkmen, titled: 

"How deep should the artist penetrate the work with their identity — How important is the artist?"

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Ayse Erkmen talked about the many egos that are required for an art piece to be perfect, about the importance of curators, about the art-fashion interweaving & of course her own works.

It was a real surprise to know that she, as a creator, is always open to suggestions & instructions from others in order for her work to be a perfect one, and therefore pleasing to the eyes of its viewers. Then creative directors popped in my mind. Artists, apparently are not afraid of losing their identity to the ego of a technician or the curator,and the final result ending as a hodgepodge of numerous contributions. But in fashion things work a little bit differently.

You see, designers have to have a signature to put out there for all the world to see. And preserve this signature that made them stand out in this ocean of designers we seem to be floating , for two or three collections per year, every year. That’s a pretty damn hard task you know. But as the restless human beings that we are, we tend to answer this calling of re-defining ourselves every now & then, and if we’re privilleged enough, we can have the luxury of doing so through our work. That’s the point where, I conjecture, there is a notable turn in designers’ signature and when the fashion world is torn. There have been reviews that even question  the designer’s right to do so, therefore creating this dillema in my -and your- mind if it’s a matter of a good thing or a bad thing to shake things up when it comes to branding oneself through their collections. The flexibility of re-building the image might actually be one of the dividing lines between designers & artists.

One thought that crossed my mind at this point was the lack of a collection’s curator. The designer has a dual nature of both the creator and the curator at the same time. No outter egos are welcomed, the spotlight is always on one & only person. The dominant ego here covers all the others & the final result is affected by no one else. So Erkmen’s point that “the curator is someone that can make the work perfect” is invalid in this world. Now if it would be a better outcome with a curator’s help, is a question that, at least for now, will remain unanswered.


However the depth if identity penetration can be bargained? In the art world, there is time for this debate, since the frequency requirements for a project delivery might not be as demanding as those for collections’ delivery. Thing that makes sense since the "Who you’re wearing" became more important than "What are you wearing".
Classic case of collection, interrupted.

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Ayse Erkmen was also asked about the distance art should keep from the other creative fields, such as fashion. Martin Magiela’s name came up saying:

I think Martin Margiela is a very important name in conceptual art. Perhaps, because he is a fashion designer, he may not think this but he uses the basis elements of conceptual art very well. He does not strive to make beautiful clothes — rather he uses elements of tailoring itself. Although the result may be fashion, in the end the important thing for him is to get to the center of things with questions such as

“What is fashion? What is art?”

So, for the relief of my soul, we are free to put the art sticker on creations as practical as clothes, and as long  as we’re aesthetically stimulated, everything will be just fine.

Read the full interview here


Images of Ayse Erkmen as found on I Love You magazine
Image collage by Eau de Style

Modern Alchemist: Kostas Murkudis

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It has been quite some time since the first time I felt the need to talk to you about  a man by the name Kostas Murkudis. Every time something would come up, more urgent in fashion time & this great designer was postponed among my drafts.

You see, Kostas Murkudis is timeless & his work is not in a hurry. So now it fell in the right time.

I’m not going to tire you over his bio details except that he started out as a scientist. A chemistry student whose artistic side took over & he followed. Ever since, his work is a constant inquiry of the new & of the unexpected. Without second thoughts, or even first thoughts & this kind of instinct has lead his to be a quite creative force. Qualities that I have the tendency to strongly admire.

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The other fact that makes me appreciate Murkudis’s long-lasting contribution to fashion is that the designs’ & lookbooks’ philosophy meet my favourite word of all times: aesthetics. When the idea behind the brand is to create for strong & fragile at the same time individuals, the outcome could be nothing but innovatively functional; that is making room for the personality to get unfolded around the garment.

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The difference lies in the details - it’s all about the fabric, which Murkudis hinds in the least expected places, such as the Italian police. Thick materials that disappear the actual body shape juxtaposed with tulle inserts that barely hide the skin that hosts us.

[At times, it even seems like small fractures of color are actually floating on the body] - and it’s then when I’m convinced that modern poetry exists & it takes many forms, it hides in many places & is always discovered by the people who seek it.

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“Medieval alchemists and mystics believed they were justified in their search for the mythical elixir of life, a universal medicine supposedly containing a recipe for the renewal of youth. The search for this elixir and a quest to make gold became the grand goals of alchemy.”


-From Kostas Murkudis’s intro passage for "This Long Century"  another great place that gathers the insights of creative minds of our times


Kostas Murkudis

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