Marc Jacobs – A Fashion Force

Controversial out-of-the-box creativity – bold speaking – and a WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) personality is the winning combination that has made 45 year old Marc Jacobs a force to be reckoned with in the fashion world. At the age of 21, fresh out of college, he and partner Robert Duffy founded the label that started it all.

With Jacobs as the creative genius and Duffy as the financial whiz their successful 24 year journey has gained worldwide fame with yearly sales of almost 2 billion. “I really don’t know what’s opening where,” states Jacobs. And with regards to the launch of Marc by Marc Jacobs in 2001 “I’m so glad we diversified,” says Duffy. “It means we can go where the money is, and right now that’s Marc by Marc Jacobs.”

From Daisy his bestseller spin-off perfume to the astronomical 45 stores opening this year that will carry the Marc Jacobs line – one of which is in Moscow – Jacobs and Duffy make a phenomenal fashion statement in their own right to be watched and learned from. Defining the fashion trends for almost a quarter of a century with no sign of waning in the near future.

As the creative director since 1997 for Louis Vuitton he was responsible for the Stephen Sprouse Louis Vuitton graffiti bags in 2001 and the more recent Sprouse animal-print scarf craze, Takashi Murakami’s smiley-cherry Louis Vuitton designer bag in 2003, and the artistry of Richard Prince for the spring/summer 2008 Louis Vuitton bag collection. You will consider adding these new exquisite contemporary bags to your art collection.

Last March Jacobs received media attention in a different fashion when he was admitted, by his friend and partner Robert Duffy, for the second time to a drug rehab facility. He gained tabloid attention when he was released and pronounced clean. The publicity put him in the same playing field so to speak as his clients, and his transformation physically is remarkable.

Jacobs speaks about his choice of Victoria Beckham as the face of his signature line. “Just like I’m interested in contemporary art, music, all sorts of things, I’m fascinated by pop culture, and people’s fascination with her and other contemporary icons, as I call them. As soon as I saw her after the Louis Vuitton show for spring/summer 2008, when she came backstage, I got the idea and went to see her at the Ritz. We spoke about the irony and perversity of it, and she totally got it.” With his usual muses being that of Sofia Coppola, Charlotte Rampling and Rachel Feinstein, Beckham is a definitive change for Jacobs.

Marc is a definite team player and has stated that he has never done anything by himself. He will credit everyone from the pattern-cutters to the stylists for their input and ideas. Though he admits that he is the final filter in the design team, he states that the customer is the ultimate final filter – for “What survives the whole process is what people wear.”

Art Equals Peace

It is actually very sad, and at the same time funny to be presenting papers, or conducting workshops on Peacebuilding through the Arts because Arts is really about peace-it has one and the same meaning, only the spelling is different. Yet, time and again, we have to convince other people, especially funding bodies that what we do is essentially peacemaking.

An example of how Art equals Peace is this experience I had when I attended the Flying Circus Project 2000 in Singapore. The 21-day workshop-interaction organized by Theatreworks, Ltd. based in Singapore gathered 75 dance, theatre, music, traditional, visual, and film artists all over Asia, many of who did not speak English. Of course there were translators. All the time, we were sitting on the floor in circles or semi-circles. There were sessions where we would listen to an artist resource person who would share his/her work. We would watch live performances, video shows, and slideshow presentations of these artists’ works, after which, we would talk endlessly about the presentation, where we argued a lot. Some discussions became heated or boring enough for some of us to leave these sessions. The only time that we laughed together and felt our kinship and solidarity was when we performed together. These were the moments of pure peace and contentment. In the end, some of us who have become real friends agreed in one of our over-lunch teté-a-tetés that whenever we opened our mouths to talk about an idea and try to convince the others about this idea, an argument ensues. But all philosophical and pedagogical differences are wiped out when we break into song or dance.

ART AS A RELATIONSHIP

Art is about reflecting your life, another person’s life, or another creature’s life on stage, on canvass, and in verses, the difference being an entire life is captured in a few moments of performance (theatre) and exposure (film), a few strokes (painting), or a few words (poetry).

But art as a mirror requires: 1) knowledge and understanding of the subject, and 2) communication. When you try to paint a stone, you are actually trying to understand what a stone feels like, where its curves lie, why it’s chipped on one side. When a performer portrays the role of a devil or a dictator, s/he tries to put him/herself on that creature’s shoes and tries to feel what that creature is feeling.

Art is about communication. When you paint a picture and hang it on the wall, people are bound to look at it and even try to analyze it. They may or may not get what you’re trying to say, but the fact that people actually stop and look and try, if desperately, to understand that piece of work, is the beginning of real communication.

A lot of conflicts are the result of the lack of communication.

Artists project onto the canvas, or paper, or onstage their feelings and thoughts and philosophies about certain subject matters. When a child draws on paper what seems to be senseless, vigorous strokes of scratches and lines and endless circles, the child may be trying to say I am disturbed, I am angry, I am hopeless. An ordinary person seeing this piece of confused work is actually seeing a piece of art drawn by a child trying to say that his/her life is, indeed, confused.

ART AS A BLIND PERSON’S JOURNEY

Art is about magnifying or detailing certain things about life. Artists notice lots of things around us that “non-artists” don’t. A blind person carries with him/her sensibilities and sensitivities akin to that of an artist. Because a blind person does not have visual references which to hang on to, all his/her other senses compensate for a visual disability by working double time, and twice over. So do artists. They are very keen at observing little things, mostly things that we take for granted, like cracks on walls, and a blade of grass bent in another direction.

As a non-blind person doing a blind person’s journey, you are actually afraid to take a step forward because you are thrown in a different perspective, presented with a different point of view. A lot of biases and conflicts arise from very set beliefs, opinions, cultural patterns, and political frameworks borne out of years of social conditioning in the homes, in schools, on TV, in movies, etc. So when another point of view is presented to you-one that you have not experienced, the immediate reaction is resistance, a refusal to take that crucial first step forward and embrace that new space, that new dimension, in order to understand more comprehensively the world and how it works.

It is common to think of artists as free spirits, good-only-for-entertainment human beings. I was once invited to sing in a women’s conference and I was introduced as an artist with no political stand or affiliations but they invited me because I was a woman and I knew a few women’s songs. We have common mis-perceptions of artists as having no political backbone, when in fact many of our artistic creations-whether they are paintings of a fish or stars or flowers-are political. The images that we show are our political statements. “Nature is beautiful” is as much political as the statement “stop the war.”

And with art, everything is beautiful. Even your anger, when expressed on a piece of paper, is a beautiful thing. In this sense, artists are, indeed, blind.

ART AS A TOOL FOR HEALING AND PEACEMAKING

In the olden days in some indigenous communities, two people expressed their anger for each other by chanting or playing the flute or some other instrument. Imagine a world where arguments are settled through song.

When we’re really stressed out, angry, or depressed, we go out and watch a movie (film arts), we gormandize on food (culinary arts), we splurge on new clothes (fashion arts), we listen to classical or rock music (music arts).

Art is everywhere-it is as basic as food, without which we’d all be killing each other, which is what is happening now, because there isn’t enough art to serve 70 million Filipinos, for example. To calm ourselves and make this world a “peaceful” place to live in, we kill those who make us angry. We kill over parking space. We kill over an uncooked dinner.

Because art has become inaccessible. You need money to watch a movie. You need money to buy food. You need money to buy clothes. You need money to buy a cd playern or an ipod. You need money to buy costumes and make-up and paint and canvasses and stage props. Poverty and inequity has reduced art into an activity available only to a select few. And those who have so much produce entertainment shows and other pseudo-art that reinforces poverty and inequity. And the cycle goes on.

PEOPLE AS PRODUCERS, RATHER THAN CONSUMERS OF ART

Herein lies the difference, the gap, and the greatest challenge for us all as peacemakers and peacebuilders. More often than not, we are consumers, rather than producers of art. But do you notice how children-especially poor children-are the best examples of art producers, yet little do we recognize their natural artistic talents? In the absence of money to buy toys, poor children create toys out of tin cans, stones, leaves, found objects-in adult terms, appropriate technology. This is their way of handling poverty. But this is not enough.

How we translate or elevate these natural talents into a conscious, institutionalized and programmatic art-making is the challenge for development workers and especially for government-so that art, which was once upon a time a language spoken by every member of the community, is reclaimed by every single human being as his/her own.

Imagine a world where every human being is an artist.

Why Vogue’s September Issues Dictate the Fashion Year

Beginning fashionistas often don’t understand what the big deal is over Vogue’s September issues. They see women waiting for the issue to come out each year, and don’t understand the excitement over a magazine that gets bigger and heavier as the years pass. After all, it’s just like any other fashion magazine, right?

Wrong.

As well documented in the film, September issues are masterpieces in the fashion world. A lot of work and thought goes into this issue, maybe more work and thought than any other issue. This is because it’s the issue that starts off the fashion year. It prequels all the fashion weeks, runways shows, and major events in the world of caviar and couture.

It actually dictates the fashion year. Each year, the magazine cleverly highlights what’s happening in the fall and winter in terms of both events and trends. They also discuss what designers have in mind for the coming spring and summer. They are able to do this because most designers already give them a preview of their collection. Plus fashion designers always design the fall and winter fashion of the year along with their idea for spring and summer fashion for next year. The fashion year actually runs from September to August, which is what makes the magazine issue the kick-off party of the entire year.

Second, the magazine discusses everything. It isn’t all about shoes and clothes. It also discusses nail polish, make-up, jewelry, cuisine, environmental problems, political problems, movies, art, music, and everything else you need to be savvy. This is because Vogue understands that being fashionable isn’t just about what you wear, but it’s also who you are and what you do. So when going through the issue, keep your eye open for trends, but also read the articles and learn about what’s up and coming in pop culture.

Finally, the very best thing about Vogue’s September issues is that it’s really the only Vogue magazine you need to buy. If you read the issue well, you will be well equipped to make it through the fashion year. You can think of it as a survival guide till next September. Of course, checking for fashion updates online won’t hurt!

Fashion Stylist

Do you have a flair for style? Then think Fashion Styling. Styling is all about making people feel and look good, both inside and out. It is an art to combine things together to form a beautiful piece. People love you because you make them feel wonderful.

Stylist are generally of three categories – celebrity stylists, image stylists and image consultants. A fashion stylist’s career provides thrilling opportunities. Fashion shoots, fashion shows, music videos, movies, advertisements and TV shows are few areas where a stylist can work.

Fashion stylists require more than a good taste. He/she must also have an understanding of the different body types and create looks that brings out the best in them. The ability to combine usual pieces and use them in unusual ways is a must. It’s not it, a stylist must have the ability to work within the client’s budget, and yet bring out the best in him/her. In addition, he/she must be able to influence a client without overriding them.

Having a formal education in fashion and styling is an added advantage. To start with, you can even experiment with your family and friends to put your creative skills to practice. As a stylist, you need to keep yourself updated with the latest trends and the happenings in the world of fashion. Browse through the fashion magazines and watch fashion related programs regularly. Have a portfolio of your work . To make it more effective, make a column that indicates ‘before makeover’ and ‘after makeover,’ as this gives the client an idea of your style of creation. In addition, create a website that indicates your nature of work, the offers you provide, and include in as many as quality information possible.

The best part of the job is that you don’t need big investments. You can practice on your own and slowly build a full -fledged career. You get to be in touch with the world’s most stylish people. From working with celebrities, to styling a house wife, there are numerous areas in which fashion stylists can use their talent. The future is just bright !

Jazz Music and Its Significance in US History

Jazz music which is thought to be an art creation of the American blacks during the early decades of the twentieth century has been an important subject of the social history of US. It gained popularity not only as an art form but it also helped the hapless blacks, who were the offspring of the enslaved African origin blacks brought into America by the white settlers to exploit them for their labor needs, to gain a social standing through the power of music. They, with the help of influential jazz music, brought to limelight the miseries that they are suffering because of the racial hatred.

Initially the jazz music flourished in the South American region. New Orleans was especially very dear to this art. From there it traveled to all parts of America. In the beginning years there was strong resistance seen on the part of whites who could not see the blacks progressing in some field. But despite all their malicious efforts to suppress the jazz music being spread into society, they themselves were vanquished by its influence. It made itself as a hallmark of the US culture. Whites and immigrants from other regions of world were seen getting into this music.

The music when adopted by people from different ethnic backgrounds living in the multicultural society of US groomed further and many other variations were developed of it. All these happenings with the jazz were signifying the growing influence of the Negroes. The lyrics of their songs, especially the improvisation technique used in the Jazz which allows the singer to sing without even the tune, were expressive of their true emotions and their social sufferings on being the isolated and neglected portion of the society. It, in a sense, played a considerable role in reducing the racial differences. Other people of different ethnicities also used it to raise their voice.

Jazz was setting its roots in the music landscape and became popular in all people. Because of its rapid development people started calling it the rise of ‘Jazz Culture’ in America.

It was just after the end of slavery in US the Jazz music started to grow. The slave trade, though it was ended by the American law, had profound effects for the US society. It generated a milieu of hatred for blacks toward whites and vice versa. This legacy had to last for generations and according to the recent studies there is still a huge tendency of racism that exist in American people. In addition to this there were immigrants from other regions of the world that further amplified the diversity and nationalistic feelings among people who were now living together in the multi-ethnic society of US. In such an atmosphere the empowerment of blacks through the help of their arts movements was a historic marvel. It was not just music that was their sole part of the black arts movement. Other genres of art like poetry, fiction, fashion were also distinctively used by them

In the city of New Orleans where the Jazz music was born there was a peculiar tradition among people. During the funerals the people were consoled by these jazz singers who used to play funeral songs that soothed the family and friends of the dead person. This practice was becoming more and more prominent and was taking a shape of a must element of funeral processions. Moreover the people of New Orleans were very fond of holding music parties, concerts, balls,etc. that further paved the way for jazz to get fame among people. In this way the city of New Orleans mushroomed jazz culture and is therefore called the mother city of jazz music. One of the most famous and much cherished jazz singer Louis Armstrong also belonged to that place.

From New Orleans Jazz was entering into the boundaries of New York and Chicago. These cities also proved to be welcoming for it. So large was becoming its influence that many recording companies, who initially were not providing equal opportunity to black artists to record their albums, started to give access to these jazz singers to prepare their albums in the recording houses. That rapidly boosted the growth of jazz music. Firstly the recording companies which were mainly owned by whites were skeptic that the jazz would be liked by the greater masses.

The things got contrary to their expectations. The jazz music was even adopted by whites who fell in love with it and made their own variations of the jazz. It was becoming the voice of the people. After its commercialization and likeness by the people more black singers were encouraged to release their albums. In this way they were assimilating their identities with other segments of the society. They were listened, played and copied. Their message that began to come in front of mounting audience helped to eliminate the prejudiced thoughts directed toward them.

Jazz music was a quintessential part of the famous Black Arts movement and its efficacy to bring the voice of blacks to the limelight proved more good than other arts. There were singers like Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, etc. who played a superb role in utilizing Jazz as a platform to express the miseries, fears, dangers, hatred and negligence the blacks face on the hands of whites. Initially, when the jazz was being adopted by white singers, the runners of Black Arts movement considered it as a threat and protested the involvement of non-blacks in it.

After the 1950s the Asian-Americans were also seen getting into Jazz. They too uses jazz to raise their voice which helped them to raise their social status. They were able to cast a political influence on the higher powers as well.

Jazz was a wonderful addition in the field of music and had been a healthy form of entertainment. A music that grew at a place where the subjugated class–blacks–had little opportunity to compete with the self-supposed superiors–whites–who could have set obstacles for the Jazz music to start its drive to nadir before making any rise. And in fact initially the intentions of the whites were not different than this but as the outburst of emotions can not be stopped they realized that the Jazz had to cross limits.

As the people of America have had love for music, the jazz not only became an entertaining music for them but it was to become the very part of the US culture and the way of American Life. Magazines, Newspapers, and the Television provided considerable space to the stuff related to jazz. Why the jazz made such a glorious fame was because of the characteristic of jazz which allows the intensity of emotions to be interpreted in the music. Now many other form of jazz are developed which testifies it has a potential to win more hearts and last forever.