Fashion's name IS AMBER

the installation by Wendy & Jim, photographed by Team Peter Stigter

... art has got its all important biennial exhibition, or rather, there's several of them, Venice, São Paulo, the Whitney Bienial. Well, and since many designers won't disagree if you call what they're doing art, it was about time for fashion to get its own biennial attracting and international audience. Arnhem is the place to be since Arnhem Mode Biennale is on until July 3 (it opened almost at the same time as La Biennale di Venezia on June 1st). The creative director of this year's edition (the fourth one, if I'm not mistaken), JOFF, wanted the participating labels/designers to create installations that would reflect their vision of what MAKES fashion, of what is so FASCINATING about it - beyond the mere display of clothes, obviously. "Amber" was the name given to fashion in this exhibition, you can find all the concepts and explanations and press texts online, I'm probably just to dumb to really understand what it is all meant to be about, or, alternatively, the concept is so conceptual that it does end up being meaningless. Anyhow, Amber (please note that the first three letters may well refer to Arnhem Mode Biennale itself...) makes for an obviously rather beautiful exhibition, and if the images of Prada's installation didn't really make me go crazy (looked just like the Prada showroom in Milan, I mean, SUPER, right? - which is why I didn't even download them), there are quite obviously some nice works to marvel at. Wendy & Jim, the Austrian fashion label that has, after an absence of several seasons from the international fashion stage, resurfaced with an appearance in London earlier this year, was invited and showed a fashion tipi (reminiscent of one of their first installations at Palais de Tokyo in Paris, I think), then there is another half-Austrian fashion duo, BLESS, with some of the works they also showed in the exhibition they had in Graz last year (where I was lucky enough to interview them, the interview was a bit chaotic with so many children and friends and family of theirs around, but it sure was interesting...), then there's some Keith Haring-ish work by Nicholas Kirkwood (I'm actually rather fond of Kirkwood's work, even though the Haring reference is totally unnecessary, even Puma and Hilfiger already had his motifs on their shoes...), yes, well, and that's that, and of course, since I haven't even been there - SHAME ON ME - I can't tell you anything about what is going on in other places in Arnhem and what the whole lecture-programme is all about ...

hammocking with Bless, photo: Team Peter Stigter

... une biennale dédiée à la mode, voilà ce qu'il faut à l'univers obsédé par la beauté, le style et l'esthétique du corps pour affronter le monde de l'art. Je veux dire, la biennale d'Arnhem, aux Pays Bas, a ouvert ses portes presque en même temps que La Biennale di Venezia, elle restera ouverte jusqu'au trois juillet - et elle s'engage pour sonder les profondeurs de la mode. Le personnage fictif auquel s'intéressent tous les participants, c'est la fille AMBER qui a été présentée comme figure de proue de la quatrième édition de cette biennale par son directeur artistique JOFF, car Amber, c'est l'essence même de la mode, c'est elle qui incarne tout ce qui fait la différence entre la mode (en tant que phénomène socio-culturel) et les vêtements tout court. Sont accourus pour participer à la biennale beaucoup de maisons, parmi elles de grands noms comme Prada ou Jil Sander, et de moins grandes, par exemple Nicholas Kirkwood de Londres (le prochain Manolo Blahnik, si vous me demandez, à moi), le duo austro-allemand Bless - et le duo fatal Wendy & Jim de Vienne, qui revoient et représentent leur interprétation du tipi de mode, je pense qu'à Paris on l'a déjà vu au palais de Tokyo au début de leur carrière. Je n'ai pas été à Arnhem, mais je pense que l'exposition principale de la biennale vaut peut-être le coup ...

things get Keith-Haringy with Nicholas Kirkwood - Puma and Hilfiger had done
the artsy shoe trick before, and countless coffee mugs, too
photo: Team Peter Stigter

... mentre tutti i tifosi dell'arte si sono resi a Venezia per l'inaugurazione della Biennale d'Arte, i fashion people che volevano rimaner fedeli al loro mondo (sebbene una parte non trascurabile ha preferito di sorbire lo spumante lungo il Canale Grande) potevano tuffarsi in una biennale di moda, a Arnhem, nei Paesi Bassi. La biennale di Moda a Arnhem rimane aperta fino al 3 luglio. La mostra è organizzata intorno a un personaggio fittizio creato dal direttore artistico JOFF: è una ragazza e si chiama Amber, ed è lo spirito della moda, oppure la sua essenza, è tutto ciò che fa che la moda sia più che solo qualche vestito. Be'... Delle interpretazioni del tema sono state presentate da grandi maisons come Prada o Jil Sander, ma sono anche presenti nella mostra delle griffes più piccoli, giovani, ad esempio il marchio berlinese Bless, il designer di Londra Nicholas Kirkwood, e, appunto, di Vienna, il duo Wendy & Jim. Loro presentano una nuova interpretazione d'una installazione che hanno già mostrato a Parigi qualche anno fa, il loro tipi di moda ...

a little Jil Sander minimalism alongside what looks like some video projections,
photo: Team Peter Stigter

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