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Monthly Archives: December 2009

For centuries, the religion of Islam and Persian culture have influenced Western Civilization.  From Afghanistan the stone Lapis Lazuli has been traded to make the pigment, ultramarine since the late middle ages.  One of the most expensive pigments ever made.  As shown in my previous post by Vermeer.  Once it was able to be reproduced synthetically, it became a fashion stable.  Below is an photo from Victor & Rolf’s Fall 2002 (RTW).  It is an amazing representation of cultural diversity.  A proud, confident western woman, in the color, ultramarine- originated from Afghanistan- with the paisley pattern of Persia.  She is stunning, and she knows it.

A wonderful example of how beautiful we can be we we take our parts to make a new whole.  The reality is, of course, is that we do not do this often enough.  We now enter into our ninth year of war in the Middle East.  Both sides have lost more than is fathomable to someone like me.  The war is over terror, oil, or water?  Precious stones, such as Lapis Lazuli are being pilfered and ripped from the earth under all of our noses.  We stand not only to loose our dependence on oil, but our ability to share beauty as well.

A most delicate subject that I simply can not continue to look away from is the war that is not just about oil, but other valuable natural resources.  Much of the world’s Lapis Lazui is in Afghanistan.  However these natural resources have been almost completely pilfered in recent times.

I found these two photos recentaly and like them together.  The muslum woman on the left is a splendor in black, surrounded by blue in her surrondings, we can not see her expression, however shee seems at ease in her place in the world.  Next to the woman at the right, whose entire enemble is inspired, knowingly or not from Persian influence.  Paisly patterns originated from Persia, as did the ultramarine pigment, Lapis Lazuli, which is the color of her dress.  Both woman are open and honest about who they are accented in blue or fully clothed in blue.

Which came first The Milkmade by Vermeer or Marc Jacobs?  A silly question, really.  However it is never silly to discount the importance of art and how it influences are timeless.  The Milkmade has been painted with one of the most expensive pigments of all time, ultramarine- which comes from the stone Lapis Lazuli- found primarily in Afghanistan.  Vermeer developed the luminous quality of the skirt with layers of less expensive pigments and only used the ultramarine in the highlights.  What is quite astonishing is that he achieved this standard of painting in only 36 paintings total.  That is something to think about in our consumerist society of today.  Quality vs. Quantity.

In Spring 2009, Marc Jacobs presented this look with a skirt of the high shine fabric that created excitement and movement, however he did not create a skirt of equal value to Vermeer’s.  I wonder if Marc Jacobs thought about The Milkmade when he made this look.  I will likely never know.  It is interesting to me to make the ties from the art world to the world that we live in today and see how much we still reference on a daily basis, obvious or not.  Marc Jacobs got the The Milkmade out of the house, yet she still possesses the poetry of timeless- a powerful woman with love on her mind.  Please listen to this inspiring and insightful talk about Vermeer’s piece by Walter Liedtke.

Feedback and comments are welcome!

Color Maven hero #2.  Thank you Paul Smith for your contributions to the world of color and design.  There is an on going discuisson that if we as designers design with great intention, timelessness, high quality and value that the environmental impacts of the products we make will transcend time and become sustainable because they will always hold their value (and not end up in a landfill).  I’m not sure if this is true for fashion items- but if anyone can do it, Paul Smith is well on his way.

I couldn’t help but see a direct correlation between the photo below and the gray scales of my prior post.  Here is the harsh reality of a large scale man-made texture study.  It is important to to be aware of the work we do in the context of our global environment.  It can be inspiration and a reality check.  As much as I want to contribute to the world of design- I then put myself in the position of a designer of stuff, and therefor a threat to the environment from which we have taken for granted for too long.  Allan Chochinov often states, we are not in the design business, but the consequence business.

This is the first of a series of posts on the beauty of gray.

In a recent informal study, I asked a series of people in Prospect Park, Brooklyn what their favorite color was and why.  I was looking for stories, and memories tied to a favorite color.  The responses were stunning.  The first gentle man that I interviewed, said gray.  He preferred to live his life here because it’s neutral- not black or white- but that area in between.  Thank you anonymous man who willingly gave up your time for my study and gave such a thoughtful comment.

Here is one of my attempts at painting a gray scale, I used Guerra acrylic paints.  One the left side is the color in it’s ‘pure’ form, to the right is the color with glass beads added (also from Guerra).  Color can be transformed with the application of a texture here is a small application to a big world of gray and texture application.

p.s. I prefer to spell gray with an ‘e’- but I also prefer to misspell in general, so I will attempt to have a consistency with gray for U.S. readers.

Crayon Rings by Timothy Liles oh, my.  What I might wish for this holiday season, if I were wishing for anything other than a little bit of r & r.  The nostalgic use of a childhood favorite cast into a modern form, yes, yes.  Don’t get too attached, they will melt at high temperatures, and color much of what they come into to contact with- but they sure do seem like a good time (and no worries- ’cause they’re washable!)  The development on the swirl rings are amazing!

Li Edelkoort truly an inspiration to all.

While scrolling through ffffound, I was struck by the humor in these cool social commentaries.  They are a great example of the power of color (well, typeface & layout too).  Take anything, change the color and appropriate a new meaning, or change the time period from which it stems from-  the power of color.

These handbags are displayed in a myriad of colors, and yet are only a fraction of what is offered.  I had to continue to look at this image to see what it was about it that was so compelling.  It seemingly offers us all the colors of the rainbow, yet it does not.  The greens are all lovely and create interest in subtle vibrancy alongside more saturated colors as the collection shifts into blues.  Blue, the most popular color in Western Culture here is not only the center of the image, but also in the greatest amount.  Yellow is missing, but I don’t miss it here and I’m quite sure that Nancy Gonzalez would offer one- should I ever have $1400 to spend on a leather clutch.

I found these color studies while searching for Josef Albers transparency studies.  They are by a talented artist, Narangkar Glover.  In general I am not a huge fan of using the entire rainbow- I feel it lacks focus, however this one is quite nice.  The texture and neutral backing add dimension which results in a lovely tactile quality.   I was also won over as the second study, which uses my favorite color combination ever- aqua and a coral.