Last month, while the city was awash with runway walks during New York Fashion Week, perhaps no show received as much media frenzy as Savage x Fenty, Rihanna’s eponymous lingerie brand. With set design by Willo Perron in Brooklyn's Barclays Center, the show was more Super Bowl half-time show than fashion show. It featured everything from performances by Migos, DJ Khaled, 21 Savage, and celebrity-models Bella Hadid and Laverne Cox, to big choreographed dance numbers. Among the lingerie-clad, star-studded runway was an instantly recognizable architectural reference: Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, a monumental relic of Italian Fascist architecture. Swaying models appeared in the grid of classical arched windows, almost identical to the original building’s, posing in Savage x Fenty lingerie. The iconic travertine building, a modernist take on the Colosseum, was built under Mussolini in 1943 in Rome’s EUR district for the ill-fated 1942 world fair. According to WWD, the Moroccan setting of Savage's campaign shoot was supposedly the main driver of Perron’s set design, which doesn’t explain much about the unexpected Italian references. The connection, however, isn’t necessarily an arbitrary one; Philippa Price, creative director of the Savage x Fenty show and longtime Rihanna collaborator, has cited Bob Fosse as a major inspiration in designing past Rihanna performances. Fosse was well known for using Greco-Roman imagery, such as classical statues and antiquated fluted pillars, Sweet Charity (it's also no coincidence that the musical was based on a Fellini film). This isn't the first time the Palazzo has captured the imagination of the fashion world. The building is currently occupied by the luxury fashion house Fendi, whose move there was not met without criticism. "The architecture his regime commissioned propounds a notion of ‘good taste’ that is deeply similar to that of the fashion industry," wrote Owen Hatherley in The Architectural Review, "shamelessly elitist, wilfully sinister, hierarchical, Classical, its apparent minimalism belied by an obsession with the finest possible material and the severest cut." In contrast, Rihanna has largely built Savage x Fenty on its vision of inclusivity and diversity, which has landed it much praise and branded it as the self-described antithesis of the Victoria's Secret Show.
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Mirrored acrylic and strategic lighting transform a temporary space at 50 Walker Street in New YorkA collaboration between Nicola Formichetti, fashion director for Lady Gaga and creative director for Mugler, and Gage/Clemenceau Architects, launched Boffo Building Fashion’s second annual installation series on September 8. A reflection, literally, of Formichetti’s work, the two-week installation is a kaleidoscope of nearly 600 mirrored facets that create a 360-degree reflective environment in which to showcase limited edition Mugler fashions and other merchandise from emerging designers. With help from the series’ sponsors and the fabrication lab at Yale, where Mark Foster Gage is an assistant dean, the design team created a new way to see the store’s stock by “dematerializing the fashion into a pattern on the walls,” said Gage. Building Fashion material sponsor Architectural Systems Inc., consulted with the architects once their concept of a faceted stage—one on which perhaps even Lady Gaga would perform—had taken shape in Autodesk (the series software sponsor). The company was able to supply 200 sheets of 39-by-104-inch mirrored acrylic with three separate performance characteristics: one set, for the floor, with high abrasion resistance, and two surfaces with slightly different reflective qualities for the walls and ceiling. The company’s vice president of project development, Bob Koenigsberg, consulted on CNC cutting speeds before the sheets were milled. Additionally, the fabrication team, which included a handful of Yale students and the architects, specified the sheets with a pressure-sensitive, self-adhesive backing that allowed them to be mounted onto lightweight composite structural backing. “The way we composited it together gave it a high level of rigidity so the mirrors didn’t distort and turn the space into a funhouse,” said Gage. His new book, a collaboration with Greg Lynn, is entitled “Composites, Software and Surfaces: Towards a High Performance Architecture,” and this project was a way to further explore the premise that composite surfaces can be superior to monolithic ones in architecture. Ranging in length from 12 inches to 144 inches, each mirrored facet meets the other facets at a specific angle. The team specified nearly 1,800 custom aluminum clips from a hotrod manufacturer, who pre-bent each fastener to a specific angle and numbered them for installation. “It popped into shape like a 3-D puzzle,” said Gage. “There was no extra bending.” The walls and ceiling of the store were pre-assembled into 4 large pieces each weighing nearly 200 pounds and hoisted into place with pulleys, then tied to hidden steel scaffolding with wires. Lighting added the final layer of theatricality to the space. Lighting designer Focus Lighting worked with donated equipment from High End Systems and Philips to program a lighting sequence with an effect much like that of a rock concert. “Because we are shooting light onto mirrored wall, it bounces until it hits a surface that is light-able—a person’s face, one of Nicola’s fashions,” said Focus principal Brett Andersen. High End Systems FQ-100 Fog Generators send a fine haze into the air, adding more movement to the prismatic room. Before he began architectural lighting, Andersen worked in theater, and the project’s tight timeframe—his team was brought on board just before Labor Day—reminded him of the old days, and of the fun of creating something temporary. “Shows you designed in a weekend were always more exiting.”
Water Names. Is it a creek, a stream, or a cañada? Looking for patterns behind different names for American waterways, graphic designer Derek Watkins created an infographic that plots more terms for water than we've heard of revealing the cultural geography of language. More at Co.Design. Pop-Up Religion. In February, an earthquake destroyed Christchurch, New Zealand and now Shigero Ban has been invited to design a temporary church for the city. His design takes cues from his popular Paper Dome Church that once stood in Kobe, Japan, incorporating recyclable materials such as "cardboard tube buttresses" and shipping crates in the foundation. Gizmodo has details. Architecture + fashion. Fashion Week in New York is quickly approaching, and we're excited about the second annual Building Fashion event, taking place this year in our headquarter neighborhood of TriBeCA. Five architecture teams are collaborating with fashion designers to create original temporary installations for couture design.
There has been so much talk in recent years over the confluence of fashion and architecture, we won't attempt to add to the "discourse" accept to note that Fashion Week is ending today and with it a number of cool and interesting installations around town. One of particular note was created by our friends at Bureau V—two Asymptote alums and a former DSRer—who have now made their third installation for designer Mary Ping and her Slow and Steady Wins the Race brand. We're not exactly sure what's going on here, as one of the principals sent over this nice photo in reference to a separate email, but Style.com puts it thusly: "[It] uses the idea of the still life to, as Ping puts it, 'react to the temporality of the pop-up, and go back to an older tradition of talking about objects.'" If you hurry, you can still catch the installation and the objects thereon—some designed by Ping—some merely selected by her, through tomorrow at Saatchi & Saatchi's ground floor events space at 275 Hudson Street.
The AP first reported last night, and the mayor confirmed it earlier today: Fashion Week is departing Bryant Park for Lincoln Center. But not just any Lincoln Center. The new-and-improved, Diller Scofidio + Renfro-approved Lincoln Center. According to Bloomberg--in this case, we mean both the mayor and his eponymous news service, via the latter link above--the festivities will take place at the center's Damrosch Park. We emailed the ever-fashionable "R" in DS+R, Charles Renfro, to get his take on the news:
In general, Fashion Week is one of the most vibrant events that New York has to offer. We are pleased that they have chosen Lincoln Center as their venue. It suggests that Lincoln Center’s efforts to shift perceptions of the facility from elitist acropolis to popular forum have been effective. Those efforts include the redesign of course, but also include more youthful and affordable programming. For heaven’s sake, I saw Sufjan Stevens perform there. And my tickets were free!Now while we agree with that sentiment, Fashion Week seems to run counter, more exclusive elitism than than inviting populism. Still, our dear Renfro persists:
Like most events at Lincoln Center, one can purchase tickets to Fashion Week tent shows, though I will admit that price points are higher than the current $20 Met cheap seats. And they sell out fast. Fashion Week is not that different than a Giants game: If you have any desire to go, you can buy a ticket. If you can get one, a seat on the 50 yards line will set you back $700 while a fashion week tent ticket will set you back $150, and all the tent seats are essentially 50 yard line seats.If you say so. As for the park itself, "We haven’t moved into that phase of the redesign yet," Renfor wrote, and it remains to be seen if, whether, or how Fashion Week might impact the redesign--a rather controversial one at that, because it will remake one of Dan Kiley's more famous landscapes. Best known for free summer concerts--we especially enjoyed Mahmoud Ahmed last year--the new digs will almost certainly be fancier than the former ones, at least after DS+R is through with them. The trade offs: far less subway access--the Times points out that Chelsea Piers posed a similar challenge in 1997--and a departure from the industry's psychic home, the Garment District. Still, the move was inevitable, as Times fashion writer Eric Wilson makes clear:
Although the fashion shows, now operating as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week to reflect a corporate sponsorship, were welcomed in Bryant Park in 1993, there were frequent clashes with the management company that controls its maintenance and security. The dispute intensified in 2006, when the Bryant Park Corporation announced it would no longer allow the shows to happen in the park, because they were interfering with plans to operate a skating rink in the winter and public use of the main lawn in the late summer.And so, greener pastures have now been traded for chicer ones.