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MATTEmatters: The BIG reveal - all good things come in threes

By Marcela Filomena

design – In a concentrated effort to showcase lesser known, independent and student designers, here at MATTERS I troll the web constantly, and the Royal College of Art’s fashion department is a never fail resource, consistently producing some of the most interesting and innovative designers in the world.  This year’s class was no exception, and I’d like to give special mention to three: from the MA program, Maiko Takeda and Xiao Li, and from the BA degree, Nikita & Tina Sutradhar.

•Let’s start with Takeda, whose plastic spiked millinery with tinted gradients at the tips moves, tremblingly, with each step.  Inspired by the Philip Glass/Robert Wilson opera Einstein on the Beach, Takeda wanted to create headgear that gave the wearer both an ethereal and futuristic experience.  Her bristling, dynamic, sculptural pieces certainly achieve that and more Favorite piece: Orange and burnt sienna half suns.

•Moving along to Xiao Li's rounded and exaggerated silhouettes that followed the general trend for the graduate collections, but in zaftig self-dyed pastel silicone molded from knitwear.  With a definite nod to 60’s Balenciaga Li took the traditional shapelessness of knitwear and transformed it into a modern vocabulary by her use of spacer fabric, which holds its shape in beautifully structured puffs and clouds, while maintaining a sense of lightness.  Favorite piece: the oversized yellow jumper

•And finally, Miuniku, by the sisters Nikita & Tina Sutradhar.  Their sporty, color-blocked BA collection augurs good things for the duo, as it’s already being taken notice of by top fashion rags and blogs (ourselves included).  Eminently wearable and yet interestingly architectural, the collection fuses a Scandinavian color palette with 80’s silhouettes and the graphic chutzpah of the best Moschino, in an understated way.  Favorite piece: the Arm Illusion Dress, reminiscent of an obi.

film – Willem Dafoe is just plain awesome, trite as it sounds.  He’s amassed an enormous body of work in independent films, blockbusters and world cinema; from playing the most humanized Christ until Saramago took in into his head to write a gospel, to the Green Goblin to He in Antichrist.  His mask-like face is mesmerizing to watch, and never more so than in the latest trio of shorts courtesy of Jameson’s First Shot Competition.  The project on its own is a great idea; giving filmmakers not only the funding to make their first short film, but also providing big-name stars (the first series featured Kevin Spacey, another name that should be household-familiar and just doesn’t quite get there).  Short films are discredited for some reason as less important or easier than features, but I disagree. There is a tremendous value and difficulty in telling a fully fleshed story in ten minutes, and it requires a very special sort of skill both from the director and the actors involved.  I’m hard put to choose which one of this year’s contest winners is my favorite, as each has its own particular reveal that makes it special (wait'll you watch and you’ll know what I mean).  

art – Well, this is an oldie but goodie.  Though I'd seen some of these in art books, I had no idea that Francis Bacon was such a prolific triptych painter, having painted 28 known ones between 1944 and 1986, (go figure, that BA in Art History didn’t do much for me outside of teaching me the difference between a Corinthian column and a Doric one).  For those of you who’ve been living under a rock and have no idea who I’m talking about, rather than go through an extensive bio about one of the giants of twentieth century art (shame on you for not knowing, btw), I’ll redirect you to this rather good overview.   In any case, in keeping with the thematic trilogy of this post, it turns out Bacon's career basically began with Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion; whose highly mannered and distorted figures were harbingers of his later work.  Bacon kept to the triptych format during the rest of his life, claiming to see figures and themes in serial form.  Aside from the religious connotations of the triptych, he enjoyed the fact that it broke down forced narratives and favored a more psychological, instinctive approach.  Bacon's art is full of paradox, simultaneously repelling and seducing his audience with his characteristic grotesque and sensual figuresDisturbing and dark, go! See for yourselves!

musicCampo-formio.  The power held in that one word is evidenced by the legions of fans that flock to their shows, whether it be across the country to Aguadilla or right here at La Respuesta.  It’s time more people outside the island find out what we in Puerto Rico have known for years: their unique brand of gritty, slightly jazzy punk with its signature explosive sound is hands down our best-kept secret. From 2009’s self-titled album to Crackman, their latest release; Campo, as they’re best known to their loyal followers, have been providing adrenaline-fueled, in your face ‘tude for years.  Well, people, they’re coming out with a new record (finally!), and lucky girl that I am, I’ve heard it- one of the many benefits of being married to StoneTape-.  This I promise you- the wait will have been worth the while: it’s powerful, playful and melodic in a completely new way; yet stays true to the trio’s abrasive roots.  Sit tight though, as it launches sometime between January and February of next year.  For those of you that just can’t wait, remember they have a show coming up September 28th at El Local, and quite possibly a music video before their album release, fingers crossed.

item - I know, I know, this item is not a trilogy in any way, shape or form.  However, in my defense, I will say that I just couldn't help myself.  I simply love Olympia Le Tan's accessory line.  She'd been making literary-themed purses for years now, and her latest collection went a step further into cuteness: milk cartons! and toy houses! and embroidered landmark albums!  If only they weren't prohibitively expensive...