Born in Tokyo in 1983, the Japanese artist Aki Inomata studied at MFA Inter Media Art, Tokyo University of Art. Her artistic project explore different concepts : adaptation, change, protection and architecture; all of them are inspired by natural resources.
She is fascinated by the capacity of animals to use the environment to produce wonderful creations in order to protect themselves. The “Girls Girls Girls” project was a long process as it is based on the interaction between living things – female bagworms- and pieces of cloth. Aki Inomata cut in little pieces a series of women’s clothes, she gave them to the female bagworms and let them built with that fabrics their protective case.
As Aki Inomata explains “Male bagworms leave their protective cases when they become adults, and become moths. However female bagworms remain in their protective cases for their whole lives and wait for the male bagworms. This reminded me of my own experience of being approached by hundreds of men, whilst the few men that I was interested in often didn’t even glance at me.Though the gender issue is meant to have changed in our generation, why is it that women still make much more effort than men concerning their appearances, and always wait for the men to approach them? I spent two years raising the bagworms and making this piece.
I made it to be premiered in an exhibit at a department store, which sells lots of women’s fashion goods, as a kind of commentary on clothes and women’s fashion.”
This piece tells us a lot about the relation between human and nature and explores the connections between biology, human technic and craft.
photos (c) AKI INOMATA
Using editorial images from other photographers as well as his own, Pablo Thecuadro puts images together by hand with a cutter.
In a statement about his work, Thecuadro says: “The collages I make express the duality in the human being, who we want to be versus who we really are and what part of us we show to others. ‘Collage Art’ is a never ending process, you can put as many images you want together over and over again.”
“The collages I make express the duality in the human being, who we want to be versus who we really are and what part of us we show to others.”
The new Netflix series The Get Down is a mythic retelling of the origins of hip-hop, folded into the stories of young Bronx natives Zeke, Shaolin, Marcus, Boo-Boo, and Ra-Ra in 1977. The series revolves around the influence of the legendary artist Grandmaster Flash, who served as a consultant on the series, but if Flash’s contributions to the art form move the story of the show forward, The Get Down’s style is all thanks to its executive producer and ringleader Baz Luhrmann.
As with any Luhrmann project, the visual style of The Get Down is of utmost importance to making the story become the kind of spectacular fantasy he prefers. Once his longtime costume designer Catherine Martin stepped into the role of executive producer, Luhrmann turned to Jeriana San Juan to fill this crucial role in the show’s development.
San Juan has worked as a buyer and costume designer for series like The Americans and Sex and Drugs and Rock ‘n Roll, and she designed many of the costumes for the The Get Down herself. Her work is one of the most distinct elements of the show’s appeal, with much of its eclecticism coming from her picks of items like Bruce Lee belt buckles, fur-lined vests, and tube socks. She called in to MTV to talk about short shorts, polyester, and working with both Grandmaster Flash and the grandmaster of flash, Baz Luhrmann.
MTV News: Was there anything you tried to do to differentiate the young characters in the show from the adult world around them?
Jeriana San Juan: In many ways, it separated itself on its own because what youth culture was wearing at that time was so specific. It really was a t-shirt and jeans and sneakers kind of look. The thing that presented a challenge originally was really finding the specific identity of each of the characters and figuring out how they were really going to look different from one another. I really wanted to create an iconography behind each of the characters, so that when you saw Boo-Boo as opposed to Ra-Ra, you really saw their look as distinct from one another.
How did collaborating with younger actors influence the characters’ looks?
San Juan: I think the greatest thing was actually working with Grandmaster Flash and Kurtis Blow, since they were able to say exactly what was cool during that time. We were doing the archeology of what was the most expensive sneaker and what was the most affordable that most of the kids were wearing to really find exactly the landscape of fashion at the time. Our show’s kids weren’t alive in 1977! So it was actually more of a process of collaborating with the OG originals, getting all that information and then translating it to this young group of actors who really had no social context for what was happening at the time period and what their character would be wearing. So once I had helped identify and created the look and identity of each character, it really was a close process with the actors to adjust to the difference in how things fit back then and how things looked back then. They very quickly grew into the look of the characters, and they helped embody the characters.
Putting shorts on Ra-Ra for example, because of his long legs — that look is his signature and it’s iconic to the late 1970s. He’s wearing jean shorts, tube socks, sneakers. And I looked at him and just thought, This is going to look so sensational on you, because it almost made him look like a cartoon character, it helped exaggerate his body and it helped create a more mythological character. Skylan, at first he kind of went, “Oh my god! I’ve never seen my legs so much wearing shorts!” And then only a week later he was going, “I love these shorts, I wanna buy them, I wanna wear them!” Boo-Boo, played by TJ, I put a bucket cap on him with a short-sleeved striped shirt and some plaid pants in his preliminary fitting, and then his eyes adjusted and he saw in the look what was so cool about it. And I said to him, “You’re gonna wear this bucket cap, and you’re gonna be one of the first people in 1977 who starts wearing this kind of look.” And of course, very quickly, this becomes a signature thing to wear Kangol bucket caps with a track suit. It becomes what we think of as a classic hip-hop style. So all of those elements start to be introduced on each of the characters, whether it’s the tube socks, the bucket cap, the leather jacket that Shaolin wears, and all of those elements start to gain momentum and you start to see them as early-’80s style and old-school hip-hop style. All those elements get introduced separately and then start to get styled together.
What was your approach to stylizing the larger-than-life mythology in the show’s design?
San Juan: It was part of my original conversations with Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin that we would try to create an icon in each of the characters and try to push the look of the show to really exaggerate it, but also to remain authentic in contributing to all of the things that were happening in fashion at the time. In order to create that mythology, it really was a process of stepping into the child’s eyes in a lot of ways. I had a conversation with Baz where I had described to him that when we look back at our memories, we sort of amplify things — like colors, you remember brighter than what they were. You remember bell bottoms as being bigger than what they were. So it was about seeing it through the kids’ eyes and portraying that style as a slightly heightened version of what the reality was, and I think that helps to give it a newness and a crispness. It gives it a vibrancy that modern audiences would identify with.
What was Luhrmann and Martin’s involvement like with the costumes?
San Juan: Originally I got involved with the project by way of Kerry Orent, who is one of the executive producers of the show. I was doing another series called Sex and Drugs and Rock ’n Roll with Kerry and he had mentioned that he met with Baz and he was discussing producing this project with Baz for Netflix. I was skeptical, I never thought I would have the opportunity to work with him because I knew that traditionally Catherine Martin was always his production designer and costume designer. So I had a meeting with Catherine and discussed exactly how it would work and exactly in what capacity I would work, and she explained to me that she was stepping into an executive producer position on this project and would be working alongside Baz to produce the show and I would be the costume designer of the series. She explained how we would all collaborate on the first episode together and then I would take the reins and design the rest of the series. And we moved past that plan very quickly, once I understood the realm of what I would be doing, and we just got to talking about Baz’s general creative approach. I got on Facetime with Baz — his assistant was holding up my cell phone and Baz was directing from the other side. And we talked about how everything that you see within the frame is part of the visual canvas, it’s part of the canvas that we see. He explained to me how important composing all of that was for him. It’s not only where that person was in the shot but what clothes were they wearing and what color were those clothes in front of the color of the background, down to what were the colors in the makeup and the hair and how important all of that was to compose together.
To me, it’s how I’ve always approached design for film and television and for stage, so in a lot of ways it was like meeting a creative partner that spoke the same language. We were very much in tune with one another in how we saw the art of costume design. So it was really exciting to me and it sort of went from being a possibility to then me actually being selected to design the project, and I basically passed out because I was so excited. It was an amazing opportunity and not a task that I took very lightly. Baz’s projects are so visually spectacular, and I wanted to honor that and I wanted to honor the time period and telling this story, because it’s really one of the first times this story has been told on this platform. So it’s just so exciting to be a part of this on many different levels.
How coordinated was everything on this show between the different design teams?
San Juan: We were all very much able to collaborate with one another in the early phases of the process, which is something that Baz does very, very well. He brought together all the creatives from the show and the actors from the show and we were all really able to workshop the characters together. By sitting around in a room and discussing the character of Zeke with Justice Smith, we were able to define the kind of books he would be reading, the kind of famous figures he would be looking to as role models and inspirations, and from that stemmed what kind of books were going to be next to his bed, and what his color palette would be that he would be attracted to. Being able to work together as a group on that process really helped to find the characters, to find all the nuances that create a special touch onscreen.
When it comes to fashion, so often what is old is new again—trends and design techniques from yesteryear reworked for today’s style-consciousness. And in the case of Tigra Tigra, the saying has never felt truer. The altruistic brand has been adapting centuries-old Indian textiles and African beadwork traditions into sinuous designs that have garnered a cult following among forward-thinking, global-minded dressers like Solange Knowles. Since 2012, designer Bailey Hunter has been working closely with an Ahmedabad, India–based women’s empowerment NGO cooperative to create silken and hand-embroidered mashroo textiles, which are then transformed into languid pajama sets, wrap dresses, and patterned coats in her Los Angeles studio. Recently Tigra Tigra has expanded its partnerships to cooperatives in Namibia and South Africa. In ethos and aesthetic, the brand is a collision of progressive economic politicis, worldly traditions, and vibrant street culture. And, keeping right in step with the rest of the industry, the line is broadening its reach to include menswear.
Here, Hunter takes us through Tigra Tigra’s collaborative process, from the way artisanal traditions and modern Western culture come together in the brand’s designs to how monsoons influence the final product.
East Meets West
We work between East Los Angeles; Gujarat, India; and Cape Town, South Africa. The majority of my influence comes from these communities. The fabrics are almost all made by hand in Gujarat using traditional techniques like aari and kutch hand-embroidery, leheriya tie-dyeing, and luxurious mashroo silks and khadis. We combine old techniques that the women have learned over generations with a futuristic perspective. I’m very inspired by the way Western corporate branding is taken out of context and interpreted by people around the world. Logos become purely aesthetic motifs and often lose their brand identity—the way I’ve seen Apple logos printed on West African wax-print dresses, or hand-painted Mickey Mouse faces on tuk-tuks.
How to Wear Ancient Fabric for Modern Times? With Sneakers!
Mashroo is actually one of the oldest Indian textile craft forms. The wordmashroo is derived from Persian and its literal meaning is “permitted.” In Islam, it is forbidden to wear silk on the skin. Weavers developed a loophole with mashroo, which has silk on the outer warp of the fabric, but a cotton inner weft—allowing the luxurious look of silk without breaking religious law. Wealthy Hindu merchants took notice of this fabric in the 18th and 19th centuries and Gujarat became the center of mashroo weaving in India and introduced brighter colors and tie-dyed patterns. Today, we are still weaving in Gujarat with one of the last remaining mashroo-weaving families in Patan. The oversize shirt and boxing pant set worn with trainers is one of my favorite outfits and also the way my favorite, Solange, wore her mashroo dress—very simple and elegant.
Say It With Hand Embroidery
The hand-embroidered fabrics are some of my favorite because of the strong presence of the human hand. One of our signature embroideries is the hand-embroidered warli, which was traditionally done as tribal paintings by the indigenous Adivasis of Gujarat. Warli uses a basic graphic vocabulary—a circle, a triangle, and a square—and tells a story of domestic and social life, wishes, and desires. We do a mix of embroideries referencing traditional life with more graphic embroideries referencing current urban life such as “New & Improved,” “Say It With Flowers!” or “Sweet’n Low.”
Monsoon Season Can Dictate the Product
We design all the textiles and develop them closely together. Often times, one of the embroiderers has an idea for an embroidery—it’s all very collaborative. Every piece we produce is unique. Monsoon season even affects the patterns and colors—our upcoming collection has much more washed-out tones and less saturation due to it being developed during India’s monsoon season. The humidity causes longer drying times and more sun-bleaching. The same fabric produced a month before monsoon looks entirely different.
Slow Fashion Straight From Namibia
I met anthropologist Megan Laws through a mutual friend. She was doing her field study in the township of Tsumkwe in eastern Namibia and had been living with the San community for around a year. The Ju|’hoansi San are living in such a remote location—there is not much trade or outside opportunity that passes through, and they have been marginalized quite severely by their own government. Megan was interested in putting together a coop to generate an income as many of the women are highly skilled bead-weavers. We held a workshop together in Tsumkwe to create a line of jewelry from crushed ostrich eggshells and glass beaded bags—which take about a month each to complete.
Author: Marjon Carlos for Vogue.com
TIGRA TIGRA explores the merger between old traditional craft and modern street culture.
TIGRA TIGRA is a partner in a women’s empowerment NGO in Ahmedabad, India. The organization employs over 500 women in the local community. The majority of the women work daily from their homes in order to manage their family lives while maintaining dignity, financial security and self-reliance.
They also work closely with a non-profit organization based in Cape Town, South Africa and are in the process of setting up a women’s empowerment craft cooperative in Tsumkwe, Namibia.