• “Hostess”, 2018 by Rebecca Ackroyd


    Written by Ksenia Rundin

    For the sixth year in a row, the Frieze art fair has created a showcase of contemporary art in the middle of Regent’s Park. However, this autumn Frieze London has had a female-centric agenda, emphasising female artists in the contemporary context. The visitors could both discover new artists and rediscover those who had fallen off the radar, explore something more in-depth and experiential.

    Nevertheless, the main course of the fair has still been aimed at the dealer booths and the wide array of art for sale, the theme of female visibility has acquired a new highlighted ideological perspective. In 1971 the American art historian Linda Nochlin wrote in her legendary essay “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” that “the question of women’s equality—in art as in any other realm—devolves not upon the relative benevolence or ill-will of individual men, nor the self-confidence or abjectness of individual women, but rather on the very nature of our institutional structures themselves and the view of reality which they impose on the human beings who are part of them.” Celebrating the centenary of women´s suffrage this year, Britain has also celebrated the female artistic achievements and their concomitants, which have challenged the established stereotypes in the social structures of the art world.

    While entering Peres Projects’ exhibition space, the visitors could observe a woman sitting on the floor with the face turned away. Soon one would discover that the face is nothing more than an empty black hole, causing an ambivalent combination of the personal and the alien somewhere inside oneself, followed by a laughter and a fear. There is, according to artist herself, a reflection of a layered identity, where the personal and the abstract seem to be in a constant emotional battle with each other.

    The Cuban artist Glenda León, represented by the Galería Juana de Aizpuru (Madrid, Spain), offered the audience a slice of C International Photo Magazine as her work “Fragmented readings II”, formed in a cake served on a classic pedestal with a glass lock over it.

    The London gallery Pilar Corrias, run by Pilar Corrias, who offers 65 percent of the art space to female artists, featured works by such female artists as Sophie von Hellermann, Cui Jie, Helen Johnson, Koo Jeong A, Tala Madani, Sabine Moritz, Christina Quarles, Mary Ramsden and Tschabalala Self.

    In parallel with the Frieze London art festivity, Swedish artists have tempted the public by a cogent installation group called Fashion Speaks “Sisterhood”, designed and produced by the Belarussian-born Sweden-based artist L Christeseva, consisting of discarded toiles — prototype garments, collected from the prominent Swedish designers. The installations would make the audience wonder what sisterhood means for each of us coming from different cultures and families in particular, as well as for us –- women –- today in general? Based on a personal story of her own, the artist could illustrate how a fashion garment becomes an emotional symbol that provides a way to learn how to unite and support each other. When being a little girl during the World War II, her mother had to wait for one of her sisters to come home from school to be able to wear the only dress all the sisters shared in order to go to school herself, while the other sisters would wait for her to return.

    The exhibition Fashion Speaks Sisterhood was brought to London in order to support the international project Artdom, upheld by the Embassy of Sweden in London and curated by the Goodwill ambassador of Swedish National Committee for UN Women Arghavan Agida, who by means of art seeks to build bridges between Iranian and Swedish female artists.

    Revealing an intellectual deepness, framed by the institutional weakness of recognizing the full creative potential and conspicuous importance of the female art, the women at the art fair have sincerely displayed their outstanding artistic talent, grinded by hard work, surrounded by cultural-ideological biases and inadequacies. Frieze London might have bestowed them an opportunity to face up to the reality of their history in order to re-construct their future in the art world.

                   “Fragmented readings II” by Glenda León
                             “Feel'd”, 2018 by Christina Quarles

    Installation view “Fashion Speaks Sisterhood” by L. Christeseva

    Photography by Erica Bergmeds


    Installation view “Fashion Speaks Sisterhood” by L. Christeseva

    Photography by Erica Bergmeds


    Written by Ksenia Rundin

    Maxjenny Forslund is the name of an incredibly innovative, resourceful and ingenious fashion and print designer.  After having started her brand maxjenny in 2016, the designer has already conquered the hearts of both the Swedish royalty and international celebrity elite with her sanguine colour palette and vivid self-speaking printed images. Inspired by the entirely unique and remarkable style character of Vesterbro in Copenhagen, where Maxjenny has her studio, she also brings up her roots from picturesque and poetic Österlen in Skåne by integrating images of the province into the textiles. It grants her garments an exquisitely expressive and folkloric chic, letting the silhouette and the prints complete each other in a harmonic interplay. Nevertheless, the colours are rather exaggerated and accomplished by a theme, sometimes with a slight Catholic echoing, reminding of Dolce & Gabbana’s authentic Sicilian context.

    Creating vibrant and time-consuming collages of different mages, Maxjenny conceives a complex architectonic storytelling, where a printed image becomes a part of the silhouette, granting a certain 3D individuality to the garment. She always works in parallel with a print and a shape, what sometimes requires to break up the image into smaller parts to make it work within a garment. Maxjenny’s aesthetic feeling is build upon the spirituality of the Memphis Group that surrounded her during the childhood and the Scandinavian beauty context with its clean and straight lines. Since 1997 she has been settled in Copenhagen, what also completed her aesthetic map, creating an elusive but tenacious cultural balance.

    The brand has a deep sustainability agenda integrated into its business model and the textiles are produced and printed in Europe, in Ikast, Denmark, which is a Danish version of Borås, and in Estonia. The colours used in the production are merely water-based and the number of the garments produced corresponds to the existed orders, what also gives a rigid control over waste. 

    Life is the biggest inspiration source for Maxjenny, what she skilfully completes with travelling and art. “The art life in Copenhagen reminds a lot of a big community, what is very inspirational and stimulating”, claims the artist. Her great success amid women, Maxjenny addresses to her individuality, where she does not follow any trends, and the uniqueness of the way she integrates her print images into the garments. To dare is one of the brand’s strongest features, even though the discretion is a good thing to lean toward while working with colours. Seemingly, Maxjenny has an elegant gut-feeling concerning colours and shapes. During Stockholm Fashion Week we were given a great opportunity to witness it through the optical eye of an unique collaboration project SPECS x maxjenny.


    Written by Ksenia Rundin

    New York fashion has never stopped surprising the world with its revolutionary phenomena as the “flapper” of the 1920s, Bell-bottoms and Halston designs in the 1970s and Norma Kamali with her Sweat Collection in the 1980s. Today, in the era of hypermodernity, the New York based women’s luxury wear brand La Doyenne is a true reformer of the established fashion system, conceiving its own hybrid of luxurious haute couture and high end fashion.

    Co-Founders, Laura Day Webb and Rachel Hearn searched for a name that would embody the woman who wears the brand finding it in The French connotation of La Doyenne which denotes a woman who is a leader in her field. Odalisque Magazine had a pleasant telephone conversation with the co-founder Laura and enjoyed her captivating story about how La Doyenne is making accessible luxury for the modern woman.

    Created by women, for women and being about women, La Doyenne bestows a joyful aesthetic experience mixed with a contrasting feeling of integrity and eagerness, spiced with a slight pinch of the Italian celebration. According to Laura, the fashion house is primarily using e-commerce as a retail channel, accentuating personal-service strategy, hand-made garments, and custom designed art prints on their fabrics and linings. Their goal is, by means of small collections, a defined number of designs and a wide array of sizing options, to create unique and elegant garments with an intimate touch for a specific person, who “fully embraces life, much as she does her own aesthetics”. It takes about a week to produce an order and later ship it to a consumer or a retail customer, who La Doyenne also work with.

    The Spring Collection 2018 was La Doyenne’s first collection, inspired by Laura’s wedding dress, which Rachel and Laura crafted together, and built on their shared passion for the arts. The flowing aristocratic silhouettes and vivid colours are galvanized by, as Marlene Dietrich once expressed, “the most beautiful woman who ever set foot in Hollywood”, a Mexican actress and great muse of many artists and poets, Dolores del Rio. The collection was launched with the participation of the Brooklyn Ballet dancers, who served as models and performed throughout the evening for the attendees in La Doyenne's coats. Such partnership, as Laura acknowledges, “Created a beautiful marriage of fashion and art, across multiple disciplines.”

    Creating a playful diversity, the brand’s latest collection, The Transitional Collection with its loose constructions and architectonic beauty brings the postmodern woman out in a new chic and multi-faceted context, where silhouettes can easily transition seamlessly from a ball gown to a pair of jeans. With such a myriad of ways to wear the garments in the collection, the woman becomes the CEO of her own style. Furthermore, the zeitgeist of the collection is constituted by Rachel’s intriguing oil painting of a still life, which has been skilfully integrated into the textiles that the collection is made of.

    Seemingly, the luxury of the brand is hidden in the laconic completeness of the details and the masterful quality of the craftsmanship. Moreover, there is also an element of charity integrated into their business model, with La Doyenne taking into consideration voluntary giving as part of their strategy and a means of positively impacting their community and beyond. Particularly, Laura and Rachel are aiming through their business model to empower women by working on multiple partnerships with well-established charities around the world, along with fundraising initiatives with various museums.

    By working with a made-to-order business model, the company also make an important investment in the sustainability issue. They can plan their production resources and costs in detail, allowing them to have less inventory, minimise and recycle leftovers, and thereby reduce the impact of the production process on the environment. When I ask Laura what La Doyenne’s next collection will be inspired by, I hear her smiling on the other side of the phone and she answers, “We have already started brainstorming. It will have a few new silhouettes in play and certainly no detail will be left wanting. So, wait and see!”

    Nevertheless, the young luxury brand has to struggle with a number of challenges in the industry. One of the main issues is visibility. It is not easy to establish a unique voice on social media and stay true to your vision, but by focusing on sustainable quality and genuine transferrable elegance, La Doyenne is truly optimistic about their future. “Luxury fashion should be accessible!” claims Laura. There is a special relationship established between a beautifully made garment and the woman who owns it, allowing the piece to evolve with the woman’s sense of style and be worn across a lifetime. Therefore La Doyenne focuses on that feeling instead of trends. Having international customers in Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates, Laura and Rachel want to engage a global audience, affording women the opportunity to feel passionate about their own wardrobe, not the ephemeral trends outside.