• photography by JÖRGEN AXELVALL



    Written by Jörgen Axelvall

    Always do shoot (or whatever you do)

    I recently went to NYC as a finalist in Vogue x Bottega Veneta New Exposure Award 2013. Now I am back in Tokyo as the international winner.

    As a contributor for Odalisque Magazine I was asked to show the work that was exhibited in NYC and also to write something about it myself.

    The competition was introduced to me by a friend who coaxed me into sending my portfolio. I had never done anything like that before and didn’t take it very seriously. However, I managed to submit a small portfolio on time. After submitting my portfolio the competition was no longer on my mind. Shooting was.

    I always shoot. If not actually pressing the shutter button I constantly take mental pictures. I had a very clear idea of something I wanted to do. Not for money. Not for any competition. I just had the urge to shoot.

    I don’t paint or draw or make sculptures or music- at least not yet.
    For now I express myself by taking pictures. One night, my friend Alexander, my model and I set out to do a series of images that I had already exposed to my mind more than once. It was perfect; just what I wanted. It was a happy night-and easy.

    After some sleep I started editing and soon I had a series of 20 images that all had what I was looking for.
    Just as I felt finished editing and color correcting I got an email from the people at Vogue. They liked my portfolio very much and where happy to announce that I was selected as a finalist.

    For the next step they wanted to see 4-6 images in a series that were telling a story-
    Much the way most editorials do in fashion magazines.

    As I was reading the email, my newly finished project was also on the computer screen. I saw Vogue and Bottega Veneta, both names that say fashion in a pretty big way, but there was no mention that the next submission must be fashion related. I figured I will show them what I just had done.

    With some more editing, and I had the required 6 images. Easy.

    Along with the pictures they also wanted a paragraph describing my concept.
    I had known for a very long time what my concept was. Putting it into words was just a matter of minutes. Easy.

    Only a short time later the next email from Vogue invited me to come to NYC, where my images would be exhibited together with all the images of the other finalists.
    I am never too busy to travel and I was certainly not going to pass on a free trip to my old home town, and the chance to see some of my dearest friends.

    Off I went and the rest is, as they say, history.

    Oh, and the concept of my story.
    Well this is what I wrote:

    I live in a big city
    the biggest in the world by some measure
    I am a foreigner here
    very much so
    at times I feel trapped, alienated and lonely
    amongst the millions of people calling this their home

    These images were all photographed in central Tokyo
    not far from my home in Shibuya
    at my sanctuaries
    where I find peace


  • photography by MARC LITVYAKOFF

    An Interview with Katya Shehurina

    Written by Marianne Lindgren by Sandra Myhrberg

    Katya Shehurinas dresses are made of materials that touch the skin like a gentle evening breeze in the summer. Floating silk, fur and lace. The design is sleek, yet Bohemian. Pretty far from the anti-fashion Katya grew up with in Latvia, then  still occupied by the Soviet union.

    I was born in 1983, and remember the Perestroika times. During the Soviet era it was difficult to find something different or unusual- because everyone was supposed to be equal. I believe that is the main reason why people of my generation are so eager to create something beautiful and different, full of personal identity and strong spirit. 

    When did your interest in fashion and fabric begin? As a small child. I couldn't sew but desperately wanted some clothes for my dolls. So I cut arm holes in fabric tissues and draped and belted the dolls. Actually this is how it worked during the Soviet era; everything we couldn't buy we had to creat ourselves!  I am grateful to have been born then; it gave me a huge creative force!

    You mostly work with exclusive materials. Have you ever thought about designing casuals? I have tried it. Immediately after I finished my degree in haute couture in Paris, I started my brand and focused on everyday clothes. This was despite my love to exclusive clothes made with love and long hours of handwork- because  I thought it was easier to start this way, with casual clothes.

    But after some years of experience I concluded that it was impossible to compete with monsters like Zara, H&M and other companies who can create stylish clothes with fairly good quality at a very reasonable price. That is how I returented to my roots. Today I believe that in near future there will be only two types of clothes- the cheap, stylish massmarket clothes and the very luxurious type made with devotion. Everything in between will disappear.

    Since 2011, you have your own boutique in London. That seems quite bold, the comptetion in London must be severe? I was too young and naive to be afraid when I started, and that helped me a lot. I still believe that everything is possible. I am surrounded by great people who are helping me a lot which is very important. You can’t do everything by yourself.

    How was it to be an aspiring fashion student in Paris? How did you experience Esmod and the Parisian fashion atmosphere, isn't it quite an harsh environment? It was from a really harsh environment at one hand but on the other hand: where can learn better if not in the cradle of fashion itself? I was really lucky to have such great teachers! 

    Where do you find inspiration? I try to find inspiration everywhere, this can be people, art, emotions, strong historical figures. The most difficult and important thing in my work is to find something new each season, whitout betraying my brand’s essence.
    Favorite  material right now? For the last seasons-the combination of lace and microfibre.

    How and where do you live now? I live in Riga but  travel a lot to London and Paris.

    Which person, dead or alive, would you like to see waring your design? I would like every person to wear our clothes.  It is one of the greatest feelings in my life to see someone wearing and appreciating something I've created.

  • illustration by MICHAELA MYHRBERG

    The Magic of Reality

    Written by Philip Warkander by Michaela Widergren

    On the afternoon that Alice fell down the rabbit hole, she was restless and bored, longing for a distraction. The stressed White Rabbit running past her was just the sort of extraordinary escape she was looking for, a fantastic figure in stark contrast to the ordinariness of her usual life. In the underground Wonderland she enters, none of the regular laws she knows seem to apply, logic and reason appearing in warped and distorted versions, as if seen through a broken mirror.

    There is a great distinction between the reality of Alice’s everyday life above ground and the magical adventures offered her in Wonderland. This separation of worlds is significant not only in the story’s narrative but functions also as a commentary on a greater cultural level. Modern Western society is marked by a strong and dichotomous distinction between fiction and fact, a constantly enforced separation of fantasy and reality. Even though fantasies are cherished, the “authentic” is often considered to be of higher value, even though they, in many ways, are inextricably interlinked.
    Think for example of an actor’s performance, judged on how believable it is in the eyes of the audience. Or consider how an author’s craftsmanship is valued by the plausibility of his/her plots and ability to trick the reader into momentarily believing that the fiction is true.

    There is however one expression which unites the two worlds; fashion. Within fashion there are people whose appearances have magical qualities, making them transcend the supposed divide between fantasy and reality. Since fashion is not only an abstract value but also an embodied experience, it also surpasses the division between abstract and concrete by being both, at the same time.
    The title of Elizabeth Wilson’s classic book on fashion theory hints at this stance, suggesting that we are, when wearing fashion, adorned in dreams. Dreams are usually considered abstract and fragmentary, a product of our sleeping minds, while clothes on the other hand are defined as concrete parts of our exteriors. By claiming that we can be adorned in dreams, Wilson has proposed that the dichotomy between abstract and concrete is false, and that fashion can be a form of materialized fantasies, dreams and hopes. In one stroke, fashion dissolves the distinction between inside and outside, private and public, magical and reality.

    One of the most striking examples of Wilson’s claim is Italy-born Anna Piaggi. For decades, she was not only one of the most influential people within the fashion industry, but also one of its most noticeable. Never appearing in the same outfit in public twice, she owned an abundance of shoes, dresses and hats, being the source of inspiration to several leading designers while regularly communicating her own personal vision through spreads in Vogue Italia. She was passionate about color and accessories, and would appear throughout her life in blue bangs, pink fur and large veiled hats. Her appearance was the result of a continuous flow of new ideas on ways to style herself, and in this way she was more concerned with matters of personal style than with simply being fashionable. Rather than follow the lead of others, Piaggi was the inventor of trends.

    In this respect she resembled fashion editor Isabella Blow who also had a love of excessive hats. With her black bob and red lips, Blow made a more classical figure than Piaggi, even if she never feared going out in public with lobster-shaped necklaces or with hats covering her face, or spelling out B-L-O-W in white feathers placed on her head. She helped discoverer many of the biggest names of her time, including models Stella Tennant and Sophie Dahl, as well as designer Alexander McQueen.
    However, there was an air of sadness around Blow, who suffered from depression and attempted suicide seven times until succeeding after her eighth. After her death, her magnificent wardrobe was purchased by heiress Daphne Guinness, herself one of the most sartorially interesting people of our time.
    Guinness, slim and sensitive, often dresses in armor-inspired outfits, as if using clothes as a form of protection against the outside world. This way, her body is encapsulated in a harsh and metallic silhouette, while her hair, dyed black and white, is styled as a baroque ornament on top of her head. Combining her incredible wealth with a deep interest for aesthetics, fashion and art, Guinness has been able to create a magical world, a kind of Wonderland of her own design.

    Piaggi, Blow and Guinness are examples of some of the most powerful, intriguing and eccentric people in fashion. Their appearances demonstrate that fashion can be magical, whimsical and personal, not merely a capitalist commodity but also an embodied form of dreaming. Wearing their extravagant outfits, they took charge of how they wanted their realities to look like, their life adventures in part defined by garments, jewelry, hats and makeup. Fashion, I would claim, is their version of Alice’s rabbit hole, their way of transforming reality into magic. This way, fantasy and fact are merged, demonstrating that through fashion, life can become more beautiful, and dreams take the shape of reality.

    illustration by MICHAELA MYHRBERG



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