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1 YEAR AFTER THE DEATH OF THE GREAT ZAC POSEN 2011 & YVES SAINT LAURENT MAR/11 ALEXANDER MCQUEEN
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Behance Magazine

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  • 1 YEAR AFTER THE DEATH OF THEGREAT

    ZAC POSEN 2011

    &YVES SAINT

    LAURENT

    MAR/11

    ALEXANDER MCQUEEN

  • R E M E B E R I N G

    A L E X A N D E RM C Q U E E N

  • Its been year since Lee Alexander McQueens passing. Inhonor of his legacy, heres a brief biography of the man who

    changed Modern fashion as we know it.

  • the interest of fairness, I should let you know that some people think Madonnas new album, MDNA, is pretty good. Even if you exclude the obvious outliers (those who get worked up and claim its her best since Like a Prayer) and partisans (wholl ride and die for anything with her name on it) even if you take into account the low standards set by the albums singles even after all that, theres a definite streak of appreciation for this release. People crave and root for the all-caps version of Madonna whos meant to be appearing here, confident and cutting loose, eyes and ears focused on the dance floor, ready to be bad. This should be a per-fect moment for the regal reemergence of that person. Not only is the pop world near-obsessively fixated on dance music (and the intersection of dance music and sexual/religious theater where Madonna once set up shop), but it seems to be shot through with a sudden wide-eyed reverence for the icons of the pre Internet world, the stars who were titans back when titans were well and truly titanic.

    Also, the album is called MDNA, a three-way pun whose every arm seems promising: The album should (a) be very Madonna, (b) reengage with her stunning musical history, her (so to speak) DNA, and (c) sound like its on ecstasy. This should be exactly the Madonna the world wants, the one who controls the universe.

    Im glad there are listeners savvy, sensitive, and invest-ed enough to actually locate that version of Madonna on MDNA, because the record Im hearing spends most of its time pinballing from decent to wan to okay. Dispiritingly enough, the one element that doesnt fit into it is Madonnas own voice, which has never been the most robust or expressive in the world it can feel flat and flimsy but shes made decades worth of fabulous music thats perfectly tailored to it. Matched with luxurious nineties house beats, it could be a steamy moan, or sound flinty and tough. On ballads it seems small, brave, and lonesome. For a while she had producer William Orbit who returns to the fold on MDNA, joining a fleet of others to make whooshing, propulsive tracks she could skip her high voice over like a stone on water. Shes found countless sounds that welcome her, but the dance-pop of 2012 is not one of them. Its hard-edged, dense, shiny, and mecha-nistic, a harsh and unforgiving environment for an instru-ment thats always fared better in sonic hothouses. Put

    MDNAs production and her vocals together and every-things flat, colorless, and blocky as if made out of Legos and photographed in black and white and no number of chirpy hooks can combat that.

    Okay, a few can: the gleamy rush on Turn Up the Radio; Madonna and Orbit both echoing their own Beautiful Stranger on Im a Sinner; a solid shot of electro machinery on Im Addicted. Those all work well enough; theyre likable, especially if you have rea-son to want to like them. But a lot of the music here feels hollow and strained, and all the lyrical and sonic references to Madonnas history lines about lucky stars and getting into grooves, a winking reuse of the Abba sample from Hung Up only underline that fact. There is much expensive workmanship and machine-tooling around here, but not much Madonna.

    Its frustrating, because there are things toward the end of MDNA that suggest the project could have been more interesting. The last few tracks like Love Spent and Masterpiece (from Madonnas film project, W.E.) circle back toward that brave-and-lonely ballad voice: Its the sound of Madonna singing songs, as opposed to the sound of Madonna making awkward small talk with machines. And the bonus tracks, naturally, include ideas many times better than anything on the album. (B-Day Song sees Madonna and M.I.A. doing a gleeful duet that evokes Sonny and Cher, and Best Friend has an ominous, fluttering beat I dearly wish I could hear on the radio sometime.) Its odd: If theres one thing MDNA is extraordinarily good at, its reminding you of all the less businesslike and perfunctory music you could be listening to instead.

    - Nitsuh Abebe

    IN

    THE APATHY AND ECSTASY OF MADONNAS MDNA

    This should be a perfect moment for the regal reemergence.

    4

  • the interest of fairness, I should let you know that some people think Madonnas new album, MDNA, is pretty good. Even if you exclude the obvious outliers (those who get worked up and claim its her best since Like a Prayer) and partisans (wholl ride and die for anything with her name on it) even if you take into account the low standards set by the albums singles even after all that, theres a definite streak of appreciation for this release. People crave and root for the all-caps version of Madonna whos meant to be appearing here, confident and cutting loose, eyes and ears focused on the dance floor, ready to be bad. This should be a per-fect moment for the regal reemergence of that person. Not only is the pop world near-obsessively fixated on dance music (and the intersection of dance music and sexual/religious theater where Madonna once set up shop), but it seems to be shot through with a sudden wide-eyed reverence for the icons of the pre Internet world, the stars who were titans back when titans were well and truly titanic.

    Also, the album is called MDNA, a three-way pun whose every arm seems promising: The album should (a) be very Madonna, (b) reengage with her stunning musical history, her (so to speak) DNA, and (c) sound like its on ecstasy. This should be exactly the Madonna the world wants, the one who controls the universe.

    Im glad there are listeners savvy, sensitive, and invest-ed enough to actually locate that version of Madonna on MDNA, because the record Im hearing spends most of its time pinballing from decent to wan to okay. Dispiritingly enough, the one element that doesnt fit into it is Madonnas own voice, which has never been the most robust or expressive in the world it can feel flat and flimsy but shes made decades worth of fabulous music thats perfectly tailored to it. Matched with luxurious nineties house beats, it could be a steamy moan, or sound flinty and tough. On ballads it seems small, brave, and lonesome. For a while she had producer William Orbit who returns to the fold on MDNA, joining a fleet of others to make whooshing, propulsive tracks she could skip her high voice over like a stone on water. Shes found countless sounds that welcome her, but the dance-pop of 2012 is not one of them. Its hard-edged, dense, shiny, and mecha-nistic, a harsh and unforgiving environment for an instru-ment thats always fared better in sonic hothouses. Put

    MDNAs production and her vocals together and every-things flat, colorless, and blocky as if made out of Legos and photographed in black and white and no number of chirpy hooks can combat that.

    Okay, a few can: the gleamy rush on Turn Up the Radio; Madonna and Orbit both echoing their own Beautiful Stranger on Im a Sinner; a solid shot of electro machinery on Im Addicted. Those all work well enough; theyre likable, especially if you have rea-son to want to like them. But a lot of the music here feels hollow and strained, and all the lyrical and sonic references to Madonnas history lines about lucky stars and getting into grooves, a winking reuse of the Abba sample from Hung Up only underline that fact. There is much expensive workmanship and machine-tooling around here, but not much Madonna.

    Its frustrating, because there are things toward the end of MDNA that suggest the project could have been more interesting. The last few tracks like Love Spent and Masterpiece (from Madonnas film project, W.E.) circle back toward that brave-and-lonely ballad voice: Its the sound of Madonna singing songs, as opposed to the sound of Madonna making awkward small talk with machines. And the bonus tracks, naturally, include ideas many times better than anything on the album. (B-Day Song sees Madonna and M.I.A. doing a gleeful duet that evokes Sonny and Cher, and Best Friend has an ominous, fluttering beat I dearly wish I could hear on the radio sometime.) Its odd: If theres one thing MDNA is extraordinarily good at, its reminding you of all the less businesslike and perfunctory music you could be listening to instead.

    - Nitsuh Abebe

    IN

    THE APATHY AND ECSTASY OF MADONNAS MDNA

    This should be a perfect moment for the regal reemergence.

    5

  • 6

  • ves Saint Laurent, who exploded on the fashion scene in 1958 as the boy-wonder successor to Chris-tian Dior and endured as one of

    the best-known and most influential coutu-riers of the second half of the 20th century, died on June 1, 2008, in Paris. He was 71.

    The designer who arguably did more to advance fashion than any other of his gen-eration pointed the way to the future by consistently reviving the past. His endur-ing fascination with more gracious or, per-haps, more vital times, informed his re-fined, theatrical aesthetic and made him the most influential designer of his day. His celebrated fashions of the 60s and the 70s continue to inspire younger generations.

    Saint Laurent achieved his greatest triumphs in the midst of a notoriously turbulent emo-tional life, giving him mythical stature in his own time. Born Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint-Laurent in Oran, Algeria, he seemed intent on burnishing that myth from an early age. Precociously, he entered a design contest while still in his teens and won the attention of Christian Dior, who eventu-ally tapped him to take over his legendary fashion house. In 1958, shortly after Diors death, Saint Laurent, then 21, was credited with saving the moribund house of Dior with his Trapeze line, displaying a daring that would flourish through much of his career. The beat-inspired biker jackets and turtleneck sweaters of his next, and last, col-lection for Dior were widely disparaged yet sealed his reputation as a designer who el-evated the look of the streets to haute couture.

    In 1962, he opened his own fashion house, and during the next decades de-signed androgynous looks like his sa-fari jacket with tight pants and thigh-high boots and, most memorably, Le Smoking, the classic tuxedo suit for women.

    Throughout his career, Saint Laurent was visibly indebted to the work of mid-20th-century painters including Braque, Picasso and Mondrian and the flamboyant fashions of earlier eras. He reinterpreted the belle poque, the 30s and 40s, incensing crit-ics in 1971 by unveiling his 40s-inflected square-shouldered silhouette, which became a dominant look of the decade. His inter-pretation of the pantsuit has been credited with revolutionizing the way women dress.

    Chanel gave liberation of the body to wom-en, said Pierre Berg, and Saint Laurent gave power to women with the mens clothes.

    In 1966, Saint Laurent introduced Rive Gauche,

    a ready-to-wear collection, and a boutique of the same name. He was the first designer to use black models in his runway shows.

    He was embraced by the haute monde; his clients and muses included aristocratic young women like Loulou de la Falaise and Parisian social pillars like Marie-Hlne de Roths-child, and the iconic French actress Cath-erine Deneuve. In 1983 he became the first living fashion designer to be honored with a show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

    Saint Laurents career was famously marred by repeated episodes of substance abuse that in-jured his health. By the 90s, his designs were often little more than reprises of his greatest hits. In 1998, he sold his ready-to-wear house to Gucci Group, leaving him and Mr. Berg with only the couture. With Mr. Berg, he created a foundation in Paris to commemo-rate the history of the house of YSL, an ar-chive of 15,000 objects and 5,000 pieces of clothing. He retired in 2002 and had become increasingly reclusive, spending much of his time at his house in Marrakech, in Morocco.

    Y...And Saint Laurent gave power to women with the mens clothes.

    The Mondrian DressVery inspired by Pop-Art, Yves Saint Laurent

    lead the Mod movement in fashion throughout the 60s

    7

  • DUP

    ZAC POSEN

    8

  • ZAC POSENac Posen has had a meteoric ca-reer since founding his company in 2001, around the time of his 21st birthday. His brashness was

    a refreshing change in New York fashion, which had been dominated by a handful of aging mega-brands until Mr. Posen planted his flag in the biggest, most expensive tent in Bryant Park.

    But his extravagant success came so quickly, perhaps faster than his limited experience should have allowed, that his setbacks echo all the more loudly. He became unpredict-able, lashing out at the news media as his company struggled with layoffs, a revolving door of executives and an investor pulling back the reins.

    Sales declined last year by a double-digit percentage, and the companys fast growth prior to the recession made it look to luxury experts like the kind of business most vulnerable in a downturn.

    Mr. Posen, like many of his young peers, began designing under his own label directly out of college (Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, in his case), rather than working for an established fashion house. He also aggressively pursued financial deals at an early age, securing licenses for jeans and hosiery, and the backing of the rap mogul Sean Combs, to give his brand a high profile.

    Z If Karl Lagerfeld can sell a dress at H&M and still make Chanel couture -- well, Im fascinated and Im not worried about it, Mr. Posen said in an interview in Vogue in 2005. I dont believe in the

    conservatism of fashion. Fashion is a thrill.

    Mr. Posen grew up in New York, the son of a lawyer, Susan Posen, who manages his

    business, and the painter Stephen Posen. Through family friends, he was introduced to the fashion world and in his teens began

    internships with Nicole Miller and the Cos-tume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum

    of Art. At college, he gained early fame when the model Naomi Campbell asked for one of

    his dresses.

    Mr. Posens signature collections have evolved from vampish, old-Hollywood-style bias-cut silk dresses and flirty butterfly chif-fons into intricately themed gowns that take their inspiration from something simple in

    nature -- seashells, raffia or tumbleweed, for example.

    9