GRAYSON’S TAKE: On the day of the U.K.’s general election, the Serpentine Gallery opened the doors to “The Most Popular Exhibition Ever!” a politically charged show by British artist Grayson Perry.
“How fitting, as we decide what country we want to be, we are opening this exhibition which underscores our overall mission,” said Yana Peel, chief executive officer of the Serpentine Galleries. “We want to discuss topics such as populism and popularity in art and politics through the show and to remind audiences of the power of the artist to elicit debate. We would never imagine we would be opening the exhibition at such a time, but in the words of our mayor, who we fully support, we remain resilient and open.”
As part of the show, Perry uses a variety of media to comment on British society and topical issues such as Brexit. Using imagery and phrases that people of opposing political views submitted through social media, Perry created two versions of his signature ceramic vases. Even though one vase represents the views of voters who support Brexit and the other the views of the “Remain” campaign, the artist highlighted that the message of the artworks is one of unity: “I was surprised by how similar the submissions were. It’s a sign that we have a stronger collective identity than individual identity.” Perry also experimented with sculpture, creating an iron piece of a mother figure as a form of “anchor,” as well as tapestries.
Among the highlights is a tapestry where he created “a fantasy version” of himself in the nude in his studio, as well as a map of England highlighting the stereotypes associated with each geographical location.
Luxury and fashion are also part of the discussion in Perry’s exhibition. The artist created a glazed ceramic vase called “Luxury Brands for Social Justice” which features phrases such as “Super expensive knickknacks against facism” or “White people against racism.” “It’s one of the most recent pieces and it was just me having fun. Good luck interpreting it,” said the artist, who also teamed with Mulberry, one of the exhibition’s sponsors, to create two bespoke versions of the brand’s Amberley bag.
“Grayson’s work is intrinsically British and his fusion of traditional craftsmanship and techniques with a modern point of view is a juxtaposition that resonates strongly with Mulberry,” said the brand’s creative director Johnny Coca.
The exhibition will run until Sept. 10.
The Most Popular Exhibition Ever!
Address: Kensington Gardens, London W2 3XA
STREETWEAR STORE: Dukes Cupboard, a dealer of vintage designer apparel, has opened a store in London’s Soho.
This is the first permanent store for founders Ned Membery and Milo Harley. In the past, the duo — having been collecting vintage sportswear for nearly four years — mounted pop-ups across the British capital. They have managed stalls at Berwick Street and Portobello Market and run an online shop. Membery and Harley met five years ago when they swapped outerwear. Harley eyed Membery’s Ralph Lauren jacket from 1998, while the other was interested in a Stone Island coat. After discussions over the jackets, the two decided to trade. Harley formerly worked in a fabric shop in Soho while Membery took on various jobs in shops before both left their jobs to focus on the business.
Known for amassing a collection of vintage pieces from the Eighties and Nineties such as outerwear, sweaters, trousers, shirts, accessories and footwear, the duo has scoured the globe to offer pieces from the likes of Supreme, Palace, Stone Island, Burberry, Prada and Ralph Lauren.
“There’s a lot of old Palace, and old Stone Island including a Nineties camouflage jacket, which is quite an iconic piece for Stone Island,” said Harley. “Everyone loves Stone Island right now. They sell really quickly. And obviously, Palace and Supreme [are popular] because there is such a hype around them. So are some of the more British-style [brands such as] Moschino, Versace, Prada — they are Italian but they’ve always been quite popular with young people in London.”
Located at 7 Green’s Court, the 450-square-foot one-level store is just steps away from Palace and Supreme. The shop offers a minimal aesthetic with scaffolding structures that extend from ceiling to floor while rails and shelving units were installed in the shop to showcase merchandise. Prices range from 20 pounds or $26 for a cap or a T-shirt, to 500 pounds or $650 for outerwear. Shoppers also have the option of trading in or selling their own vintage pieces. — Lorelei Marfil
Address: 7 Green’s Court, Soho, W1F 0HQ
BALENCIAGA HOMAGE: The V&A’s latest show, “Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion” takes an intimate look at different aspects of Balenciaga’s work, ranging from his signature shapes to his intricate process of constructing garments and his client relationships.
It’s the first major U.K. show dedicated to the Spanish designer who, despite his great talent, was one of fashion’s quietest stars.
“What’s so frustrating about Balenciaga is that his voice is nowhere. He only ever did one interview, so you don’t get him talking about his clothes. Because of that, there’s a lot of mythology around him,” said the show’s curator Cassie Davies-Strodder. She said the designer’s private personality prevented him from promoting himself. It was his work that did the talking. “When you see it closely, you can understand he was a real perfectionist.”
The exhibition is staged in a small, intimate space within the museum. “With someone like [Alexander] McQueen, we needed a big stage to explore his showmanship. Balenciaga was a far more considered designer. His work is much more about the details and looking into it closer. We felt a smaller space would be more appropriate for that,” said Davies-Strodder.
She said the show is focused on the Fifties and Sixties, which she believes were Balenciaga’s “most creative” years, and the most prominent period in the V&A’s private collection of his garments. Top displays include the baby-doll dress that simultaneously reveals and conceals the body; the sack dress that stirred controversy for being unsexy — and radically different from the popular hourglass silhouette pioneered by Balenciaga’s rival Christian Dior — and the envelope dress he designed shortly before he retired in 1967, confirming his impact on the decade.
Davies-Strodder wanted to add a contemporary element to the show, which is why the upstairs section is dedicated to exploring Balenciaga’s legacy through a selection of pieces from designers influenced by the couturier. That part of the show is introduced with an excerpt from Women’s Wear Daily in 1972, following Balenciaga’s death: “Cristóbal Balenciaga, the father of contemporary fashion is dead, but his influence remains.” — Natalie Theodosi
Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion
May 27 – February 18
Address: Cromwell Road, Knightsbridge, London SW7 2RL
SUI RETROSPECTIVE: “I never consciously thought about it, but I do see a pattern throughout my whole career,” said Anna Sui during a walk-through of the retrospective mounted by London’s Fashion and Textile Museum.
Sui staged her first runway show in 1991, and is known for her exuberant looks made from rich fabrics, prints and colors, and for tapping into subcultures. The showcase features 125 ensembles complete with accessories, shoes and hats, and highlights the designer’s collaborations, collections, interior work and process. Looks on display span from schoolgirlish silhouettes worn by Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell at her first show to the cowboy and cheerleader outfits modeled by Gigi and Bella Hadid during the designer’s spring show.
One room has been divided to showcase Sui’s 12 archetypes, ranging from the rock star and the schoolgirl to punks, nomads and surfers. The room has been designed as a mock-up of Sui’s New York store and is decorated with the designer’s thrift-shop motif. Black mirrors and framed pictures hang on purple walls while the flooring has been done in bright red.
Sui pointed to a black-and-white Empire-waist dress with lace sleeves, a rose-print trim and a long red sash. “It is probably my favorite and that appears on the cover of the book,” she said. “I think that it is the quintessential Anna Sui dress.” She said her Japanese customers voted it as their favorite dress as well. “We actually reproduced it for special customers in Japan.”
The designer, who lived through the grunge and punk days, said music has always been a strong influence and it plays a big part in the show.
“One of my favorite bands ever is the New York Dolls,” she said. “I had pictures of them on the wall — as well as of Marie Antoinette. The dress code back in those days was black and white or red. You could wear roses or stripes and fish nets evoking the punk movement — all of that was in that one outfit. I think that’s kind of the way my brain works when I’m working on a collection.”
She also motioned to a delicate white cap-sleeve baby-doll dress, worn by Campbell, Evangelista and Christy Turlington in a 1994 show. “I think this moment really captured what was going on then,” Sui said. “The most famous moment of that show was the baby dolls.” Somehow, Evangelista signaled to Campbell and to Turlington to stop and wait. “So the three most powerful supermodels stopped on the runway and became a moment of supermodel history.”
Another room is dedicated to the designer’s inspirations while she was growing up in Detroit. It is filled with magazine editorials and colorful sketches, various achievements and looks from Ossie Clark and Biba. Another focuses on her life in the Big Apple. Sui moved to New York, studied fashion at The New School’s Parsons School of Design and opened her first store there in 1991.
There’s an area dedicated to her creative partnerships with industry names such as Pat McGrath, Erickson Beamon and James Coviello. Sui’s mood boards, photographs, runway photographs and sketches are also on display.
The exhibition, in association with Albion Cosmetics and Inter Parfums Inc., will run until Oct. 1. — Lorelei Marfil
The World of Anna Sui
Fashion and Textile Museum
Address: 83 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF
REDISCOVERING CARTIER: When Emperor Napoleon III asked Baron Haussmann to clean up the stinking, narrow streets of 19th-century Paris and recast the French capital as a modern, airy and elegant city, little did he know he would usher in a gilded age of invention.
Haussmann’s new Paris rapidly became an epicenter of elegance and fine geometry, of machines, mechanisms and structures that no one had seen before. Gustave Eiffel built his bridges and his famous tower, while Alberto Santos-Dumont made fantastical flying machines for racing and for zooming around Paris to all of his favorite restaurants.
Around the same time, Louis Cartier moved his workshop to central Paris and, inspired by Haussmann’s strict geometric shapes, began designing his watches and clocks with angles and fine lines to reflect the new, spare and industrial aesthetic.
“Cartier in Motion,” which is cocurated by the Design Museum’s director Deyan Sudjic, takes a look at the design revolution that happened in those years, and how Cartier’s watches and jewels were shaped and influenced by the inventors of the day.
The star of the entertaining show is Santos who, with his passion for nutty flying machines and great heights, pushed Cartier to come up with the wristwatch at a time when everyone was wearing a pocket watch on a chain.
The newfangled Cartier invention was an efficient device that allowed Santos to tell time without having to lift his hand from the steering wheel of the airplane.
Fittingly, the centerpiece of the show is one of Santos’ Demoiselle airplanes, a spindly, one-seater creation made from bamboo tubes. It sits in the middle of an upstairs room at the museum, surrounded by cases full of more than 170 objects and artifacts. There are Cartier watches and jewelry, a vintage workbench with tools, backlit black-and-white images of Cartier and his fellow innovators, and a timeline that aims to contextualize all that was happening during the golden years of Parisian invention. — Samantha Conti
Cartier in Motion
Address: 224-238 Kensington High Street, Kensington, London W8 6AG
NEW DUCK IN TOWN: The popular East London eatery Duck and Waffle has opened a new sister branch to fulfill ongoing demand from customers. Duck and Waffle Local — located in the heart of Piccadilly Circus — has been designed as a more accessible version to the original Liverpool Street branch. It boasts speedy, hassle-free service with customers able to order direct from the counter and new takeaway options. Famous for its namesake dish — duck and waffle — the restaurant serves traditional British cuisine fused with European influences. New additions to the menu include a unique duck jam doughnut and a duck burger. — Natalie Chui
Duck and Waffle Local
Address: 52 Haymarket, St. James’s, London SW1Y 4RP
PLACE TO BE: Soho House’s Nick Jones teamed with hotelier Andrew Zobler to transform the City of London’s former Midland Bank into The Ned, a hotel and member’s club that aims to draw both the creative and business communities in the area.
Unlike Soho House venues, which have a no-suits policy and go after the city’s creative class, the Ned will offer a more inclusive atmosphere.
The expansive property also offers a wide range of services to ensure that once inside, guests never want to leave. There are 250 guest rooms, women’s and men’s spas, a private member’s club, a gym, rooftop pool — as well as a pool located in an old vault — and nine restaurants throughout the expansive property.
“We took pains to make sure the project had a lot of intimate moments and was really broken down into a lot of spaces that were discreet, and no one space is all that vast,” Zobler said. “Although there are a lot of different things you can do, it’s not at the exclusion of being able to feel like you’re in a place that is comfortable, and similar to the experience you would have at a smaller, more intimate property. We didn’t want it to feel like you were in this giant place.” — Natalie Theoodsi
Address: 27 Poultry, London EC2R 8AJ
MAYFAIR GEM: The Chilean restaurateur behind Casa Cruz, Juan Santa Cruz, opened his second restaurant-cum-lounge bar, Isabel, on Albemarle Street in March. The restaurant is located next to the likes of Casadei, Aquazzura and Amanda Wakeley on the central Mayfair street. Taking the name from Santa Cruz’s grandmother, the restaurant offers a feminine, intimate ambience with burnished copper lamps, padded, silk-brocade walls and Art Deco-inspired geometric carpets, while the staff serves customers in custom ruffled jumpsuits by popular Colombian designer Johanna Ortiz.
The restaurant serves Mediterranean-inspired dishes, including grilled courgette, red prawn and lemon crudo, and Santa Cruz’s legendary blackened chicken. An exclusive ‘after hours’ bar is also open in the restaurant, which has already been drawing the fashion crowd. Last month, Kate Moss celebrated the launch of her jewelry collection with Ara Vartanian at the new venue. — Carolyn Kang
Address: 26 Albemarle Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 4HY
SECRET GARDEN: Emilia Wickstead is bringing her feminine aesthetic to Scott’s rooftop terrace in Mayfair. The London-based women’s wear designer has collaborated with Flowerbx to create a summer-scented space for a light lunch break. The decor embraces all things pink, with boronia and bougainvillea plants and patterned tablecloths.
Scott’s seasonal menu created by head chef David McCartney offers a variety of shellfish dishes, meat and seasonal game. The pop-up space will close on the last day of London Fashion Week Men’s on June 12. — Shannan Sterne
Address: 20 Mount Street, London, W1k K2HE
INDIAN DELIGHT: Jamavar, the newly opened Indian restaurant on Mount Street, is hoping to replicate the success of its sister restaurant Gymkhana, known for its month-long wait lists and upscale take on Indian cuisine. Jamavar’s menu aims to blend North and South Indian cuisines and draws inspiration from the secret recipes of the owner, Dinesh Nair’s mother.
Spanning two floors, the space’s decor references the Viceroy’s house in New Delhi. Among the highlights are traditional Old Delhi butter chicken and grilled Adraki lamb chops served with royal cumin. — Natalie Chui
Address: 8 Mount Street, Mayfair, London W1K 3NF
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