• One Year Later

    Written by Jörgen Axelvall

    After 15 years in NYC I made my move to Tokyo
    On March 11 2011, at 2.46 pm I was landing at Narita Airport
    Or trying to land that is
    The now infamous Tohoku Earthquake struck at the exact same time
    The landing turned into what they call a “touch and go”
    And without a word from the crew we set course for Nagoya
    I knew this from looking at the flight map on the display in front of me
    After 20 minutes the captain announced that there had been an earthquake
    All major Tokyo area airports were closed
    And Nagoya Airport was already getting congested
    from diverted traffic
    Maybe Osaka, with Japan’s second largest airport, the captain said
    I had some selfish little thoughts,
    not aware of the devastation on the ground
    I worried about having to move around
    with my filled-to-the-brim bags
    Another 20 minutes and the captain told us we were going to Yokosuka Military Base
    This is close to Tokyo and close to where we where at the moment
    The captain explained honestly and sincerely
    Coming from NYC we simple don’t have enough fuel to keep circling
    Or to make it all the way to Osaka for that matter
    Then, a flawless landing with calm and relieved passengers
    Military Bases don’t want to deal with civilians so we all had to remain in the plane
    And wait for refueling and some airport that could accommodate us
    During our four hour wait the single landing strip started to fill up
    Big planes from all over the world
    We got reports of the magnitude and the tsunami that followed
    And we started to worry about our loved ones on the outside
    Mobile phones were shared and passed around
    The network was unfortunately not working very well
    After what felt like a very long wait,
    the neighboring big planes started to depart
    One by one, all heading to Osaka
    Being first one in, meant being last one out, since we where cornered
    Shortly before our turn came, Haneda,
    Tokyo’s second largest airport reopened
    We made the 25-minute flight there
    Got off the plane, through immigration and claimed our bags
    I started smoking again
    Tokyo’s infrastructure was closed down
    No trains no subways no highways
    Camped out on the floor watching the news
    It was a long night
    Got fed delicious fresh rice balls when daylight came around
    Got hold of my boyfriend who had been in a train when the earthquake struck
    He had walked the tracks to nearest station and spent the night there
    Been reading magazines in a convenience store
    He was on his way to meet me
    About 30 hours after scheduled landing time we finally embraced
    And then things started to move little by little
    Together we got on the bus and made it to our place of rest
    To the Nakameguro neighborhood where we have been living since

    This is my personal story with a happy ending
    For many more there was no happy ending
    I didn’t lose anything, just gained an experience
    My thoughts and love go to those who had real losses
    As we all know there was, and is, a serious aftermath
    The Fukushima nuclear power plant
    I will talk about that some other time


    Trend and Style

    Written by Justine Lévy by Michaela Widergren

    I remember when I went to my first meeting in a famous Trend Lab in Paris. I was asked to imagine a photo shoot that would define a new trend. I think it was for 2010 and we were in 2008, something like that.

    So there I was at that meeting, we were maybe 4 stylists and 4 photographers. And, there was this woman whose job it was to put some words on the new trends. That is to say, throw some words on a piece of paper, words that would translate a new life style, a whole new atmosphere, a new base for the designers to work on, a new inspiration for fashion world.

    I was really impressed by what a mission she had, and excited to read it all ! Here are new and fresh ideas, a new lecture of aestheticism that I would have to tell a story about in a photo shoot !

    So she gives me my paper, the one and only, on which was written all our stylistic future. I’m surprised by something that concise, but all the more intrigued !

    Luxurious sand
    Beige bourgeois
    natural ivory
    bright shell
    wooded light

    That was it. More or less, because there were tons of shells on the floor, mixed with pictures from magazines (furniture, fashion shoots, piece of art)…

    That’s a trend. That’s how trends are “created”.

    A few weeks after, I worked on that trend with a friend of mine, one of my favorite artists/photographer/funniest guy ever, Philippe Jarrigeon. And one of the pictures was a rabbit with a banana on his head and wooden glasses on his tiny nose.

    They loved it, and so did we.

    The trend book of the season was sold out. I think it costs around 1500€. And all the professionals in fashion buy it. Designers, artistic directors, stylist, investors etc…

    I worked for this trend lab for another season after that, then we stopped.

    The reason why I tell that story is that it brings the discussion about Trend and Style.

    In the dictionary you can read that the definition of trend is « a general inclination. A direction in which something tends to move. »

    The definition of style is « The way in which something is said, done, expressed, or performed. ».

    Style is a speech, that each season you treat differently. Style is a position. It is strong. It’s the end of a long intellectual and creative process that the designer had in himself before he started his brand, and that he goes through again every season. It’s a point of view on beauty. You agree or you don’t. You wear it or you walk naked. Each collection is a new argument that joins the speech, a new expression that enrich the definition of your style.

    Trend is the opposite of it. To me, it has nothing to do with creation. It’s a proof of sensitivity. You have to be sensitive to digest and interpret a new trend every 6 months. And I can understand for sure that when you have a brand, and you want to fit to the market, because you want to sell, because you want your clothes to live on the girls in the street, you follow the trend, obviously.

    Look at last summer collections, 2011. Colour block. Everywhere. And for fall 2011, color forms, And we do we need talk about that military look that comes and goes every 4 seasons ?

    So now, you, the designer that followed the right path of fashion glory, have the right trend.

    When you’ll describe your collection, you’ll be able to tell a story, about a woman, gorgeous and happy in flashy colours that contrast with the greys of the sad notes. Your style is set, you don’t have any. But you’ll never be has been. At least for a moment. A trend moment.

    I’m consultant in Paris for fashion houses, and I also have a brand. I never worked with a fashion house that followed a trend. And of course, I never buy the trend lab book for my brand.

    I tend to feel that big fashion houses will definitely stop following trends, and we’re gonna feel a come back to the essence of the style of each of them. Some of them already did it, because their creative director wanted to rethink the roots of the brand’s style. Guillaume Henry at Carven is the perfect example. As well as Pheobe Philo at Celine and Christophe Lemaire at Hermes who are doing a fantastic work on Style.

    If there were more styles, and fewer trends, the shops would look like museums, full of creativity. There would exist fewer brands, and Asian factories would become real playgrounds.

    Fashionistas would stop being angry and have real taste. And Zara would have to find a creative director. Because even if you can copy trends, you cannot copy an entire style.

    « Fashion passes, only style remains. » Coco Chanel.

  • Illustration by MICHAELA MYHRBERG

    The Ideal Female Form

    Written by Sally Kennedy by Michaela Widergren

    The female body means many things to many people. It’s the focus of an enormous amount of attention, a source of unlimited power and money, an essential aspect of life and the production of it, and for far too many women, a cause of much suffering and angst. A historical review of the ideal female form, however, does nothing less than prove that there is no ideal female form. Whatever women are striving for at any given moment is directly linked to their place in history, geography, culture, and in many respects, the limitations of human development. Like fashion, the one consistent element about the ideal female form is that it constantly changes.

    We’ve all run into cultural differences as far as the ideal female body is concerned. Jamaican women apparently clamor for chicken pills in order to develop bigger bottoms. Carolyn Cooper, professor of literary and cultural studies at the University of the West Indies, claims that “big bottoms” equal power. “If you have no meat on your bones, the society can’t see your wealth, your progress, your being.” In Tanzania, thighs are considered the ultimate sexual part of a woman. And it’s hard to miss the breast fixation in the United States, where bigger always seems to be better.

    But even when we restrict ourselves to the examination of the ideal female body in a particular region, there is a consistent level of inconsistency. Take, for example, western European culture. Up until the late 1800’s, the rubenesque woman dominated the ideal. A very curvaceous, distinctly plump body screaming with inactivity was equated with ultimate femininity and beauty. As the 1900’s approached, the ideal became thinner. The wasp-waisted figure of the Edwardian Gibson Girl cinched in the wider girth of the previous era. Then, women’s liberation took hold in the 1920’s and the ideal female shape de-emphasized reproductive characteristics. Fashion toned down curves, and a more boyish figure was sought. This clearly happened again in the 1960’s when “the Pill’’ became available and Twiggy became a household name. But jump back just one decade to the 1950’s and think Marilyn Monroe. Size 14. In today’s standard, a frequent cause for both diet and the gym.

    Sadly, the underweight woman has had a stronghold on the ideal female form since the 1960’s. There have been occasional periods of athletic relief, during the fitness craze of the 1980’s and perhaps today, when exercise is considered an essential part of any healthy lifestyle. But the waif, with her distinctly unhealthy overtones, has made an appearance more than once and she doesn’t seem to be disappearing anytime soon. She’s walking around right now on the catwalks.

    How in the world you might ask, do I find all is all this comforting? Quite simply, because history and cultural differentiation prove that the obsession with the ideal female form has very few lasting truths. The ideal is dictated to us, and it changes like the wind. Virtually every woman fits perfectly into one ideal or another, be it from this decade or from another century. And for those of us whose genetics happen to match a current ideal, beware: the ideal will change again. Seems like a very good reason for women of all ages and sizes to focus to health and happiness, and start enjoying the fact that they have what everyone can’t stop talking about—an imperfect, fabulous female body.