14 April, 2014

Mark Magazine No.49 April / May 2014

Mark magazine No.49 April / May 2014
Jorge Ayala Paris 8 full page-spread and feature
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06 April, 2014

В ПОИСКАХ НОВОЙ КРОВИ by Basia Szkutnicka for WTF What the Fashion?

Warm Thanks to Basia Szkutnicka for her feature В ПОИСКАХ НОВОЙ КРОВИ in Russian Magazine WTF?, on Jorge Ayala and Maiko Takeda.

On the day civil war raged in Ukraine, on the eve of violence and disharmony in Venezuela - I am commissioned to write a piece about fashion, focussing on Paris fashion week. One questions something as frivolous as ‘fashion’ when the world is in turmoil, surely there are more important things to be preoccupied with? We must not forget however, that a substantial proportion of the worlds economy, from the farmer to the consumer is driven by the fashion industry, therefore I will continue.

Let me put my writing in context. I am not a trained writer, I’m an educator, a creative – someone with a lot of opinions.
My mother confirms I was an irritating child, always asking ‘why?’ I wouldn’t give up until I was given a satisfactory explanation. I am the same now and I will persist in my quest for the truth, forever.
I was obviously placed on this earth to question.
A naughty child who liked to dress as a cat…fascinated by the Hans Christian Anderson story of the Emperors New Clothes. A story of two mischievous tailors who create a new suit for the Emperor, which is invisible to fools and the ‘stupid’. The Emperor cannot see it, but in fear of looking stupid praises and admires the tailor’s talent. Finally, he steps out in his new clothes in public, but of course he is naked. From the cheering crowd, a small child cries ‘but the Emperor is naked!’ The Emperor is shamed and truth prevails.
Snobbery, vanity and downright stupidity plague the fashion world as we know and this simple tale illustrates these weaknesses so well.
That innocent little child is I. This desire to reveal the truth and say things ‘as they are’ is my gift.
I have no fear.
In a business where we aspire for fame and celebrity and often don’t dare to question, in case we look foolish or stupid - honesty is not always well received, therefore with honesty we will proceed.

For me, fashion week always seems to awaken a desire to question. The industry I am entrenched in is on public display and much about it annoys me.
Once upon a time there was an element of delicious danger in fashion, where is that danger now? Fashion is no longer about innovation, but about the cultivation of the bland. Fashion no longer exists in the clouds, it lives on an accountants spreadsheet.

If you are looking for a traditional fashion report, please go to
style.com and all the reviews are there for you to browse through at your leisure, there are reports written by writers who are far more articulate than I in describing ruffles and pleats and that blue is the new black.
These details do not interest me as much as looking THROUGH the bi annual fashion circus and seeking ‘the new’.
There’s a need and desire to be thrilled, surprised, to see things we haven’t seen before. We look for a glimpse of the future from our foothold in the present.
So, you want to get into a fashion show? If you think it’s even possible for bona fida press to get tickets, think again.
You mail 50 fashion houses and you receive 15 replies all politely declining an invitation, even if you are a genuine member of the press. You need a ‘friend’ on the inside, who might facilitate entry. That’s the only way.
Without a ticket, and if you really want to get in, you can suffer the indignity of the ‘wait of shame’ outside the show. You stand with painfully over styled bloggers, fashion students and others, hoping for a last minute opportunity to enter.
The fashion ‘somebody nobody’s’ who mysteriously occupy and share the front rows with Anna and Grace have no shame and have no doubt sold their souls to the devil to be there. Who are they? Only they know, because no one else does. We play a game of ‘spotting the nobody in the front row and try to figure out how they got in there’ with colleagues on a regular basis. We have no idea.
The show lasts 10 minutes and then it’s all over. I don’t need to be there.
This is looking AT fashion, I prefer to look FOR it.
I went to one show, found it boring and found what I was looking for not on the catwalk, but by accident. I am by nature a very curious, inquisitive person, hungry for the new, for things I have never seen before, I have another gift - to see things that others just don’t.

As with any other industry and in order to maintain a level of respect, fashion continually needs to prove its integrity. Things that we design should have a purpose and meaning, they need to be desirable and ‘speak to us’.

By chance, in my quest for the new, I discovered two extraordinary designers.
The first, Maiko Takeda, a milliner and jewellery designer trained at Central St Martins, then at the Royal College of Art in London, originally from Tokyo.
I first came across her work at the Royal College of Art graduate show in London last Spring. It’s so rare when a collection takes your breath away and makes you smile. You smile because you know you’re looking at something really special, your heart beats that little bit faster. It happened when I saw Margiela for the first time, in 1989. You know when something is really, really special.
Takeda is a breath of fresh air, a designer with a vision, who is readdressing the idea of adornment and deconstructing the traditional aspects of millinery to create fashion ‘objects’.
To my delight, I discovered she was presenting a small static show at the Joyce showroom in Paris, having always wanted to experience her creations first hand, this was the perfect opportunity to meet with her. Her PR was helpful, polite and very understanding. I was allocated a precious 10 minutes with her, she gave me time, even though she was busy preparing the choreography for her presentation.
I was struck by what I can only describe as strength and composure, as much as I was struck by the beauty and originality of her work.
This ground breaking collection was inspired by Einstein on the Beach, an opera by Philip Glass, originally premiered in 1976. We discussed her process and she revealed that she started with the simple question of how it might feel to wear a cloud. She talked about rawness, the ethereal, the surreal, about blurring the boundaries of surrounding space and her desire to experiment with unconventional materials. Many of the current pieces are constructed from feather like, individually laser cut acrylic shards and panels and are truly incredible.
She is objective about her work, often placing herself in the position of the viewer, desiring her pieces to be ‘viewer friendly’ but at the same time challenging. She likes a reaction and seeks to transcend the expectations of the wearer and create an experience of wonder.
Her wish was granted and her work had a reaction from Bjork, who’s people contacted her immediately. The singer was wearing her globe head piece on tour within months, which gave Takeda the right kind of exposure for her work. With the undisputable queen of the avant-garde, Bjork as a fan, supporter and collaborator, Takeda is on the threshold of a wonderful future.

The second rising star, Jorge Ayala trained in architecture at the Architectural Association School, in London. He is originally from Mexico and is now based in Paris.
I have a lot of very interesting friends on Facebook and I’m always checking the feed. I discovered Ayala though an image of a woman wearing an incredible garment in Paris, a designer I had never heard of was credited. I tracked him down and simply needed to know more. It transpires that Lily Gatins had discovered Ayala on Instagram, she was coming to Paris fashion week on business and the two of them decided to collaborate. She would have cool stuff to wear to the shows and he would gain exposure.
It worked.
Gatins wore Ayala couture and Hadid footwear over the week, I watched and tracked how this was creating interest.
Suddenly Ayala was being talked about, he was not showing on a catwalk, he was showing on a real life person. A human catwalk.
He calls it ‘having fashion fun’, which is damned well what fashion should be, no?

Ayala has an interesting story.
Originally trained as an architect, he is interested in the 3D, rather than the 2D aspect of clothing and material.
He explores what he describes as ‘a new architectural paradigm’, which aims to create a new field or genre within fashion.

His migration from architecture to fashion began in 2003.

Whilst studying and searching for inspiration for a landscape project at the Arts Decoratifs museum in Paris, he came across L’Atelier Lognon, who for over four generations have developed and produced hand pleated and uniquely constructed fabrics to the haute couture industry, with Dior, Hermès and Chanel amongst clients.
He was encouraged to make contact with Monsieur Gérard Lognon, pleat maker and textile architect, it was this chance encounter that fundamentaly changed Ayala’s direction.
Since that meeting they have become great friends and have a mutual respect for one another’s expertise.

On seeing the activities of the Atelier Lognon, he realized that Architecture and Fashion are very connected in today's society. He became excited about the possibility of working with new technologies, forms and silhouettes and also with the body. The collaboration of enthusiastic young architect and textile ‘master’ resulted in an experimentation with textile manipulation techniques, 3d digital design, 3D Printing, laser cutting and the creation of new latex and natural fibre constructions. He feels that the study of Architecture helps to open ones mind to the outside world and his architecture training assists with an understanding of the human form.

[Ay]A Studio has been founded. This is a design laboratory of sorts, where he and a team of experts experiment, committed to cutting edge research, working with architectural digital tools to develop elaborate and exceptional pieces.
His business produces clothing, scarves and haute couture. There is also a line of ready to wear, which is manufactured 100% in France and will shortly be available online at

He has a sharp business mind to match his creative one, which means that this guy is already making an important footprint in the fashion industry. He dares to be different, is a very strong character and is clearly determined to succeed.

To date, he has been approached by a couple of prestigious brands, with a view for collaboration. He is also in demand by magazines and stylists, duo to the visual impact of his work.
The future is looking extremely bright for this young designer, he has respect for tradition and understands that the past informs the future.

The first concept store has recently opened in Paris in St Germain des Pres at 20 Passage Dauphine.
To his credit, a selection of his work is currently being exhibited at ArchiLab, FRAC Centre,
a contemporary Art museum in Orleans, France.

In line with Takeda, Ayala sees in fashion a medium to disturb the human condition and it’s existing reality. He insists that fashion is an art through which we can raise questions about humanity.
I have to say I agree with him whole heartedly.

These two young creators step outside the norm, they stand out from the crowd . Their work is astounding in it’s originality and offers an alternative. Their work, astounds us and I hope makes us reconsider the idea of fashion.
They create ‘pieces’, which are wearable and create a reaction.
They break established boundaries, break rules, therefore push design forward
We need this, so much now.
They transcend established boundaries within a tired industry, which spins in repetitive circles, spewing out copies of copies, inspired by nothing or worse, inspired purely by commerce.

This is intelligent design, and they are intelligent, confident individuals. Obsessed, stubborn, driven, with an attractively arrogant air of ‘I’m special and I know it’.

They have a desire for change, a need and an ability to push boundaries and stimulate progress, which I firmly believe is ‘what we need.

With big established brands and names (I will spare you the details) forever pillaging colleagues and even their own past collections and claiming to understand the 'little people who shop at the supermarket', it proves more than ever that we need new blood.
We love Pugh for his vision, Westwood for her political agenda, Van Herpen for her obsessions, Owens for his current self discovery, Kawakubo for just being Rei.
Step down Kaiser Karl. Go play with Choupette, she misses you. Give someone else a chance to play with Chanel’s name. It’s time.

If you’re thinking about entering the fashion industry
- have fire in your soul and wings on your heels. Learn how to fly, always aim for the stars, be happy if you just reach the moon.
Have no fear, but make sure you have taste. To have taste, you need to know who you are.
Challenge mediocrity and the status quo, only then will we have progress.