Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Free Range London

Nathaniel Thompson

The UK’s largest art and design graduate talent exhibition Free Range returns to East London’s Old Truman Brewery, East London, for an eight-week free showcase of new British art and design talent. Now in its eleventh year, Free Range has established itself as the authoritative identifier and supporter of tomorrow’s best young creative talent. This year will be the exhibition’s biggest year yet with over 150 UK arts courses participating. Free Range 2011 will see the return of the highly successful ‘Fashion’ category that launched last year and the introduction of a further new ‘Motion Arts’ exhibition. These disciplines will join photography, art, graphic design and interior design on the schedule for the largest showcase of visually creative work to date.

Rasha Swaiss

Under the guidance of creative director Tamsin O’Hanlon, Free Range continues to develop year on year and has become a crucial part of London’s cultural calendar. With more than 100,000 visitors attending the free exhibitions in 2010, the show attracts over forty-five participating UK universities and art colleges including Middlesex University, Nottingham Trent University and Ravensbourne College. In addition to providing exhibiting talent with a prominent platform for their work, Free Range collaborates with leading industry figures, opinion formers and institutes to facilitate introductions with new creative talent.

Stuart Chapman

For the second year Free Range will also collaborate with D&AD to present their annual ‘New Blood’ showcase, selecting the best graduates in graphic design, visual communication, advertising, and other commercial creative arts. Free Range will commence on 3rd June with the exhibitions open weekly from Friday – Monday. The 2011 schedule will be as follows:

•Week One: Fashion and Design
•Week Two: Design
•Week Three: Photography
•Weeks Four: Photography
•Week Five: ‘New Blood’ (in collaboration with D&AD)
•Week Six: Art
•Week Seven: Interior Architecture
•Week Eight: Motion Arts

Free Range Art & Design 2011, 2 June – 25 July 2011 The Old Truman Brewery, 91-95 Brick Lane, London, E1 6QL. Click here for more info. 

McQ AW11 Menswear and Footwear

On my travels last week, I dropped into the Alexander McQueen press office to check out the autumn winter McQ collection which has seen a real push of late. I blogged a while back about their awesome tumblr account which featured some shots from a series shot by Niall O'Brian and has, too, been a real treat this season. 

The collection has taken, I think, a commercial direction that mixes in some contemporary details to produce a strong collection. This knitwear piece really caught my eye as I think the military green is on trend for autumn winter - as well as the classic cable design - but I liked the ribbed necked collar that comes high on the body, as well as the black fabric contrast. 

The collection has a graffiti feel, particularly with these prints which I honed on in immediately. There is a street culture rise in brands for autumn winter 2011 which has rose from the American West coast and a return to the grass roots of creative culture. I really, really like the jersey and denim hooded jacket below which would look great with jeans and a simple white t-shirt on top, with Converse on the foot. 

The crown t-shirt in black is commercial with a twist and I find the scratched graffiti printed tee irreverent yet has an aesthetic which speaks from its street roots. It is great though, for a good few minutes, seeing how many different inscriptions you can find. 

These pieces, above and below, show that the brand not only references the avent garde, with this subtle shredded tee, but the classic with a simple striped green jumper with shoulder button detail. 

The McQ footwear is some of the strongest I have seen and incorporates a number of key profiles for autumn winter 2011. The classic brogue in chocolate is simple and understated, whilst the military boot with two-tone leather upper is a great update on a classic. The Spectator is not a profile which I would necessarily choose for myself, but is, here, incredible well done as is the sheer white Derby shoe. Just the smoothness of the leather is an asset to the pieces and the quality in their construction. 

The tan walking boot is a sporty addition and nod to the hiker trend which continues to Autumn Winter 2011 but the piece I will looking to own is the dark tan, burnished grained high utility boot with white stacked sole. Stunning. 


Friday, 27 May 2011

YSL menswear and sneakers

Last week I took a trip down to Sloane Street where I dropped into the Knightsbridge branch of Yves Saint Laurent. The store is the biggest in London, more so than the boutique on Bond Street which, shamefully, I have never visited yet I remember when it was the old Gucci store. A few weeks ago I blogged about the new Stefano Pilati sneakers but here I discovered a few more styles to the range, which made me smile the a kid in a candy shop. The stunning collection launched only a few weeks ago in smooth nubucks, grained calf leather and exotic skins. The high-tops were displayed like hanging fruits from a golden tree which made them even more appealing and of course, desirable. 

I spotted these two pieces which made me laugh as they show the brand is not afraid to jovially play on its heritage and famed design past. The French Bulldog above is a portrait silhouette of Moujik (pronounced magic) or at least one of the many he owned and named the same.  I like stories like this because they are for those 'in the know' rather than just representing a random illustration of a dog, which although sweet looses any message. 

The print below is a play on their famed over-sized YSL logo which has adorned many a satirical torso. I think the men are former designers or people of note, but forgot to ask if there was, like the Moujik t-shirt, a story behind it. 

J'Adore. The pattern perforated design as well as the laceless profile is a key trend for autumn winter 2011 and will continue into 2012, as will the stacked profile - this time here in clear rubber.  Also something that caught my eye was the 1980s styled original YSL high-tops with the high-shine fabric - the signature and red, white and blue logo is quintessentially French. Oh, la la...

I couldn't resist giving my favorite YSL sneakers in nubuck a try, which fitted amazingly and were just incredible to the touch with the soft suede combined with the smooth leather saddling. I thought the famed studded 'Y' holdall would go well in the image because like these sneakers, has become a classic investment and beacon of style for the label. 

Thursday, 26 May 2011

LA Diary: Guns, Germs and Steal

Wallets are, for a man, something that is carefully chosen according to size, specification, detail and often, with a subtle sense of luxury. Gun, Germs and Steal is an incredible Los Angeles based label who is ran by two, 22 year old girls Smiley Stevens and Philippa Price. Together they make wallets, made from brass and lined with all reclaimed leather or found fabric so no two wallets are the same. The fabric and leather will vary based on what they have at the time, but they tend to stay within three categories - Brown Leather, Pendleton/Native American, and Plaid. 

But what makes them ultimately great is their freshness and the embossing of the rap lyrics into the brass outer face. This is something I have never seen before and with 'Green For Da Money, Gold For Da Honey' which really makes me smile - and want one. 

They have shot this amusing photo shoot, for which there is more, which captures a great LA spirit and a tongue-in-cheek attitude. The palm trees in the background whilst the couple hang out in a black coupe is a typically romantic image which has a great edge, made true with the soft line yet quintessential Californian styling. 

Presented fantastically, scroll down to see some of the range, their interior linings and then check out the shop here.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Links of London jewelry and watches

Well, its been a busy week - hence very few posts this week - and last week was even busier as I was out an about in London. One visit I made was to Links of London, iconic Brit brand (and official jeweler of the London 2012 Olympics) to see their newest pieces which I am continually excited about. 

I caught them in the middle of a press event plus they were shooting pieces for some promotional material, but I got some of the best pieces from the new collection. 
The watches, although not new, are really strong pieces I think and have a pure masculine edge to it, particularly with the chronograph. The Chicane is the brands first men's sports watch which takes inspiration from the aesthetics of vintage motor racing and the interior of sports cars. They are really adventurous and dynamic pieces and encased in stainless steel with Racing Green and vibrant red colour ways. 

The pieces below are ideal for Dad's come June 19th in the UK, being Father's Day, as well as treats for yourself. The Infinity collection (the woven bangle) and the Venture (the bangle and the ring), are key pieces in the Links leading collections which are ultimately masculine. Infinity plays on the figure of eight and I think, are incredibly bold whilst Venture recalls the enterprise and exploration whilst the bold groove detail references city architecture. 

I didn't know Links did leatherwear and this laptop bag is really great. Take a look at the detailing below in closer focus. Yes, that's me above wearing an Urban Outfitters chambre shirt, Acne jeans and Clarks Mead shoes with brick red sole. 

 Of course, Links is well known for its Friendship Bracelets which have been highly copied over the past couple of years. I wrote an explorative post on the history of the bracelet here, and the newest are these below - Woven Sweetie bracelet; top, and the Woven Venture bracelet, bottom. The bracelets have a timeless appeal, and whilst there are many looky-likes about there is no other like a Links of London friendship bracelet. 

Friday, 20 May 2011

ESPA Men's Grooming 2011

ESPA, the internationally renowned skincare and spa brand founded by Susan Harmsworth MBE is delighted to unveil a bold new look for 2011. ESPA will be launching with beautiful new packaging and some exciting new additions to the award-winning product range. ESPA’s formulations now average over 99% natural ingredients and are both luxurious and efficacious ensuring that consumers enjoy the ultimate skincare experience. Every day life is tough on a man’s skin which can result in a dull, dry and fatigued appearance. The new ESPA men’s collection is packed with powerful natural ingredients in highly efficacious levels that work hard and fast to keep men’s skin in optimum condition; perfectly moisturised, supple, smooth and healthy-looking every day.

The Duel Action Shavemud is a first in men's grooming. It is quite addictive, purely due to it's silky consistency, shave-mud doubles as a deep cleansing mask to nourish the skin and replace lost nutrients. I rarely shave (I trim with a clipper for a close stubble) but trying it out for the last fortnight, it really does give a comfortable shave and banished razor burn. Due to the Kaoline and Bentonite clays, this draws out the impurities whilst the Shea Butter and Sweet Almond oil soften, which left my skin very, very clean and smooth. Like I say I do not shave much so I will be using it as a face mask which is something ESPA recommend. 

The second product was Clarifying Skin Scrub which sort of left my skin with a hot sensation, a bit like those heat face masks which open the pores. Again, this is predominantly a shaving product which helps clean and exfoliate prior to shaving. It contains a cooling Eucalyptus which accounts for the fresh sensation as well as Mornica seed extract which hydrates but together make for a warming sensation which was a little unnerving. Lastly the lavender is antibacterial which sooths and guards against blemishes and made my skin looking incredibly fresh. Like I say, I will be using this as a washing product, not a shaving one - once I get used to the heat! 

They have a new 2011 collection out which I was meant to review but they sent the wrong pieces. But here it goes anyway with some info. 

Age Rebel Eye Hydrator (£35, 25ml) is a powerful hydration for the eye area to prevent the signs of ageing, reduce puffiness and protect against environmental pollution. A super-hydrator to deeply nourish the delicate tissue around the eye area and replenish dehydrated skin. Reduces the appearance of fine lines whilst combating puffiness and protecting the skin from external pollutants. Key Ingredients include Ginko Bilboa which stimulates micro-circulation to reduce puffiness and dark circles. Borage hydrates the dry skin around the eyes and Neroli offers environmental protection through antioxidant properties. 

Age Rebel Moisturiser (£37, 35ml) is an intensive age-defying formula to boost vitality whilst firming and quenching dull, dry skin. A powerful moisturiser to firm and restructure the skin the actives-rich formula hydrates and revitalises to leave skin smooth and supple whilst protecting it against the environment sweeps away dead cells to reveal fresher looking skin. The key ingredients Micro Algae firms and restructure, Sea Fennel’s antioxidant properties help protect against environmental damage and Velvet Horn, Golden Seaweed and Black Oat lock in moisture to retain skin hydration. Chitin aids the removal of dead skin cells and finnaly, Acai is a powerful antioxidant to boost skin vitality. 

Energising Shower Gel (£18, 200ml) is an intensely enlivening shower gel to stimulate the body and awaken the mind. A refreshing, rich SLS & SLES free foaming cleanser that gently yet effectively cleanses the body. Zesty aromas awaken the mind, enhancing clarity and aiding concentration, and revitalise the body. Key ingredients include Peppermint which enhances mental clarity and focus Eucalyptus revitalises the body. 

NEW Invigorating Body Reviver (£22.50, 200ml) is an instantly invigorating and intensely cooling exfoliating cleanser to revive, cleanse and smooth the skin. A rich SLS & SLES free foaming cleanser that gently yet effectively removes dead skin cells to leave the skin feeling soft and smooth and uplifting and zesty aromas awaken the mind and the body. Antioxidant properties enhance skin protection and key ingredients include Lemongrass, Lime and Thyme revitalise and awaken the mind, Bora Bora Sand clears and exfoliates the skin, Coconut extract and Moringa Seed Oil deeply cleanses, Malachite gives the skin antioxidant protection. Treating the skin, you massage into the skin in vigorous circular movements to create a creamy lather and rinse thoroughly. 

By law or something that mean's this post is on Her Majesty's Service, I have to say that OK, yes, I was paid a little to write about these products. However, in no way did it sway me into positivity. Not even The Queen can't sway my integrity.