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Emerald isle CHRISTINA KIM’S ALOHA COLLECTION
Fair weather friend JANET ECHELMAN’S SOARING STRUCTURES
Cultural desert SANTA FE OFFERS A WEALTH OF TEXTILES
It is a thread Embroidery has been prominent in British fashion since its last renaissance in around 1997. After the first tentative steps by designers such as Clements Ribeiro, the high street followed in a frenzy. Access to cheaper
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AlohaHAWAIIANSHIRTS BLEND GLOBAL INFLUENCES AND LAID BACK ISLAND CHARM
Think of Hawaii and an image of Elvis sporting the required aloha shirt and lei on the beach may spring to mind – but it was not always so. The development of the textile industry in the South Pacific was a fruitful combination of indigenous techniques and patterns, and imports from other countries.
Cotton fibres were not native to the South Pacific: before they were introduced, islanders manufactured the minimal clothing they required from the bark of the paper mulberry tree (Broussonetia papyrifera), or 'wauke'. This versatile plant, native to Asia, has fibrous bark and glue-like sap, and was cultivated specifically for its textile making properties.
The art of 'tapa' or ‘kapa’ making is an important part of the islands' history. The fibres are stripped from the inner bark of the tree, soaked to soften them, and then beaten with a blunt wooden tool until they are fine enough for their final purpose. Kapa samples extant today vary in thickness and quality. The strongest was probably used for work or outdoor clothing, while the finest kapa was saved for ceremonial wear and bedclothes. The misnamed grass skirts, or 'pa'u hula' worn for dancing, were made from kapa cloth, not dried grass as the name suggests. Patterns included leaves and flowers marked out with natural dyes, over the rough geometric texture of the fabric itself.
In January 1778 Captain Cook 'discovered' these scattered isles and called them the Sandwich Islands. On his second voyage to the islands, Cook presented the king with a cutlass and a linen shirt. During the 1800s English and American seamen wore a rough working shirt of twill or duck weave, often in a blue gingham check. This blue and white fabric called 'pakala' was widely adopted by the Islanders, particularly in Honolulu, and worn for everything from plantation work to school.
By the 1820s newly-arrived missionaries encouraged modest dress. Bolts of imported fabric were sewn in western styles by locals. Paul Gauguin’s Tahitian paintings are some of the most memorable images of this period. The figures he depicted often wore colourful pareus – printed rectangles of cloth about 2 metres long. These were imported from Europe, but printed with the patterns of the original tapa they replaced.
Sewing machines were brought to Honolulu from New York in 1853 to speed up the manufacturing process. At the same time Chinese and Japanese immigrants came to work in the plantations. Some set up tailoring businesses, making shirts from the colourful printed silks and cottons often used for kimonos in their homelands. Eventually tapa-influenced pareu fabrics were used for shirts, and the 'aloha' shirt was born.
The tourist industry of the 1920s saw the white linenclad Americans coming to the South Pacific and leaving with their bright 'holiday shirts'. Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Hawaii with his family in 1934, by which time it had become a fashionable holiday destination, and by 1935 the first passenger flights landed in Honolulu, making the resort even more accessible.
The 1932 Olympics in Japan made the brightlycoloured fabrics of that nation fashionable but coincided with a shortage in silk from China and Japan.
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This glorious three-tiered interior court is where Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand welcomed home Christopher Columbus from his voyage to the New World. Here the old world met the new: history and future, conjoined dramatically. Now this space houses the headquarters of Caja de Burgos, a Spanish bank. Here royalty, formerly a power source, meets finance, a current measure of the same. New York and Boston based artist Janet Echleman created for this space, in 2001, a work that embodies its complexity, that knits together past with future, that reflects the polarities that define the dialogue of history. Suspended from the coffered ceiling Swooping II, is a network of nylon threads, knotted by hand into a lace form, suspended and soaring, doubles back on itself, self-enveloped and reaching, rising up and settling down, a maze of tracery against the finely carved stone walls. This cocoon-umbrellajellyfish-blossom speaks as much of the lace makers of Spain and Portugal – fine fingers balancing and bouncing many bobbins – as of its weathered and brawny fishermen, their livelihood gleaned from the sea.
It was a mishap recast from tragedy to trajectory, that brought Echelman to this way of working. When her painting supplies failed to reach her in India, where she had arrived for a sojourn of teaching on a Fulbright, she looked to her surroundings to shape her next steps. It was her evening walks on the beach, passing fishermen mending their nets, and seeing these mounds of fibers that pointed the way. Here was a method for creating mass that could easily be moved; nomadic mass, she calls it. She learned the living crafts of the region from her neighbours – a family of Muslim tailors, the Hindi fishermen. Using the language of the place has become a hallmark of Echleman’s artistic practice.
In 2001 she was invited to Porto Portugal to create her first monumental permanent piece, She Change. Here, the requirements
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In New Mexico’s Rocky Mountain foothills, nature has borne a desert landscape at once majestically open and intimately secretive. Giant, totem-like seguaro rise from land swathed in shades of ochre, periwinkle, russet and sage. Here, colour, light, shadow and texture modulate so wildly each day it’s as though nature were still in the process of making a decision. The vibrancy of nature in the Rio Grand Valley around the city of Santa Fe attracted the likes of Georgia O’Keefe and D. H. Lawrence in the early 20th century, but over the past 800 years the area has been home to a succession of peoples including Pueblo Indians, the Spanish and the Mexicans, all for whom textiles were an integral part of their culture and economy. In more recent years, man has created in and around Santa Fe another kind of nirvana, this one for art lovers – especially those that enjoy fine dining, skiing and horseriding. The city is almost too good to be true, which is why with only 70,000 year-round residents, over 200 art galleries, and 12 museums, Unesco last year named Santa Fe the first American “City of Folk Art”.
The Spanish established Santa Fe as a trading centre around 1700, and although the textile barter economy died with the Second World War, anyone who appreciates textiles, both ancient and contemporary, should make Santa Fe a travel destination. Galleries are conveniently clustered on or near historic Santa Fe Plaza and along Canyon Road, but visitors are nevertheless advised to bring comfortable shoes and plenty of money because the variety and quality of offerings are non pareil. Gallery owners often have curatorial knowledge of their specialty and show a charming affability to educate, making Santa Fe perfect for neophytes as well as experienced collectors. And if buying isn’t in the budget, the International Museum of Folk Art and the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture both house outstanding collections; the former’s Palestinian costume and amulet collection pre-dates the British Museum’s, while the latter’s 5,000 pieces include pre-historic fragments, Navajo rugs, and Pueblo beaded animal-skin dresses. The Museum of Fine Arts promotes contemporary New Mexican fiber artists.
Three major market fairs showcase hand-woven contemporary textiles, and bring international artists, all of whom undergo strict vetting, directly to more than 100,000 visitors annually. These are not your typical tourist markets, and the breadth and quality of the work is dangerously tempting. Santa Fe Indian Market presents 1200 artists from some 100 Native-American tribes; the Spanish Market, now in its 55th year, is the oldest sale of Spanish colonial art forms while the Santa Fe International Folk Market is the largest in the U.S. So whether you prize pre-Columbian Peruvian ponchos, contemporary wearables, 19th century Rio Grand blankets, or European folk dress, they’re all here for the taking.
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Room service MORE FASHION HEAVEN THAN HOME FROM HOME
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What makes a great hotel? In a world of mid-market Schragers, mock-minimal Hempels and overblown boutiques, it’s a big question, and one that goes round more often than a Lazy Susan. We’ve done fly-and-flop resorts, escape-from-it-all eco lodges and ritzy pamper parlours, so what’s new? Why, the signature hotel created by a big name designer, of course: think John Rocha at The Morrison in Dublin, Todd Oldham at The Tiffany Hotel in Miami and Donatella at Palazzo Versace on Australia's Gold Coast. Think also Philip Treacy, Christian Lacroix, Rosita Missoni and Nadja Swarovski, all of whom have recently got in on the act, and you get an idea of what the new breed of boutique hotels is all about. Got a favourite designer whose clothes and style you love? Then pitch up at one of his hotels and be a part of his world for a night or two.
When it comes to creating hotels, affiliations with big name designers are a winning formula on two counts: they generate instant, high-profile publicity, and where a brand is involved they provide retail opportunities. Charlton House is a Mulberry-furnished British country house style hotel in Somerset. It’s partly owned by Mulberry's former managing director
Roger Saul and is decorated from top to bottom in the label’s signature tweeds, tartans and checks, and there’s a discount Mulberry outlet in a disused school five minutes’ walk away. Stay at the Palazzo Versace, and you get to live to excess the Donatella way, while buying clothes, fragrance, make-up, china and the bed you sleep in from the hotel’s boutiques.
These fashion-facing hotels are conjuring interiors with their own idiosyncratic style, which are a refreshing antidote to tired chains bashing out formulaic ‘looks’. The Zetter in London specializes in hi-tech gadgetry and low-tech luxury, and makes a point of pulling in British designers such as Eley Kishimoto and Precious McBane to do wallpapers, graphics and soft furnishings. It affiliates itself with art and design events and hosts exhibitions of new talent in its lobby areas, all of which have led to it earning the label of ‘art hotel’. Others, such as the Puerta America in Madrid and the Hotel Fox in Copenhagen, have called on design stars from Jean Nouvel and Zaha Hadid to Norman Foster and Marc Newson to create individual rooms and statement locations for discerning guests at sky-high prices. Originality may cost. But it also pays. Emma O’Kelly
G Hotel, Galway When Irish milliner Philip Treacy set about designing the G Hotel in Galway, it was no holds barred. Revisiting his childhood fantasies, he applied seashells, 50s glamour and Hollywood themes throughout the 98-room five star hotel, which, with its rich purples, fuchsias, neons and gold, is the ultimate boudoir-meets-bordello playpad Treacy claims he saw the space as a catwalk, a place which could be a showcase, and it doesn’t fail to exude all the necessary fabulousness. For the lobby, Tom Dixon was commissioned to install 400 of his silver mirror ball lights and tables are filled with Swarovski crystals. Swirly carpets create optical illusions and allusions to his hat designs are everywhere, from the feathered chair backs to the swirly ‘Camilla’ mirrors. In keeping with the idea of old school decadence, corridors are dark and moody, while public areas ooze glamour; and from the gentleman’s salon and ladies’ champagne room to Gerry’s late night bar, there are plenty of places in which to let rip. www.theghotel.ie
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INDULGE textiles to buy, collect or simply admire. 15 Running wild Dense foliage, fabulous flowers and exotic birds: no pruning required. 24 Comfort of beauty The stunning suzani collection of heiress Doris Duke. 83 Circle line Ruth Adler’s graphic prints show an excellent sense of direction.
INDUSTRY from craft to commerce. 43 Design for life The gorgeous John Bates gave sixties style to the masses. 60 Moving on Advice and sympathy for students taking their next step. 64 Saturation point Textile designers that wish they all could be Californian.
ANECDOTE textiles that touch our lives. 54 Full steam ahead Looking back at a stylish era of travel on ocean liners. 58 Beauty and the Boeing In their heyday the stewardesses would go to any length. 78 Passport stamp The life, legacy and philosophy of Peggy Angus.
CONCEPT textiles in fine art. 56 Fair weather friend Janet Echelman’s soaring, life affirming textile structures.
ATTIRE critical reporting of fashion trends. 18 Emerald isle Hawaii provides the perfect backdrop for Dosa’s Aloha collection. 78 Eye Check Julian Tomchin, the long neglected creator of optical fashion.
COHABIT stunning Interiors beautifully photographed. 32 Room service These designer hotels are more fashion heaven than home from home. 74 Better nature Swedish textile designer Maria Åström’s inspiring summer retreat.
GLOBAL travel destinations and ethnographic textiles. 28 Aloha Hawaiian shirts blend global influences and laid-back island charm. 36 Cultural desert Santa Fe offers a wealth of great textiles and galleries.
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INFORM the latest news, reviews and exhibition listings.
04 bias / contributors 07 news Trends and essential ideas Full marks: Top students 13 miscellany Repeating ourselves 82 read Fashion and Fiction Reading List
84 international listings Exhibitions, fairs and events 88 view Well Fashioned Textiles from the Garden of Eden White on White Wessie Ling Mapping Motifs The Measure of Every Pause
Dance of Pattern 95 coming next The Costume issue: dressing up from the everyday to the extraordinary. 93 stockists 80 subscription offers A Clare Nicholson lavender bird for new subscribers!
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