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The lure of light is hard to resist. From the subtle shimmer of marcasite to the almost obscene glare of a 5 carat diamond we are fascinated by objects that sparkle. The use of crystal to create dazzling displays has a long and distinguished history, a history that is almost indistinguishable from the development of one company, Swarovski. For over a century the company has been an integral part of high fashion. Working with famous designers from Coco Chanel to Christian Dior and Giorgio Armani, the company’s reputation for producing the highest quality cut crystal is unchallenged and growing.
Not a season passes by without a ‘must have’ product that is sprinkled or encrusted with these twinkling trimmings and they can be found everywhere from museums to football terraces. Swarovski recently sponsored ‘When Philip Met Isabella’, an exhibition of crystal adorned hats made by Philip Treacy for his friend and muse, Isabella Blow at the Design Museum in London’s Tower Bridge. And designer Katie Walker is attempting to alter football fans’ decades long dedication to nylon replica strips. Katie has launched a football fashion range including ‘I love Chelsea’ mini skirts and cashmere jumpers with club logos handstitched in crystals. (www.widemedia.com/fashionuk)
Swarovski have also ventured into the home with a range of wall crystals but it is on the catwalk where they really shine. Couture or catwalk jewels are one-off pieces commissioned by a fashion designer and created by specialist artisans, jewellers or avant-garde artists. Intended for pure adornment and theatrical high drama, catwalk jewels underline the message and intensify the mood of a particular couture or ready to wear collection.
In 2003 and 2004 Swarovski commissioned designers from around the world to create their ultimate vision for catwalk jewellery. The designers, including Boudicca, Slim Barrett, Elizabeth Galton and Hamish Morrow, were asked to find new expressions for crystal in jewels, to experiment with forms and to merge fashion, body ornament and jewellery.
As part of its ‘Fashion in Motion’ series the V&A will host four couture catwalk jewellery shows on Friday 26 November featuring stunning pieces from Swarovski’s ‘Runway Rocks’ collections.
Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington, London. T: 020 7942 22211 www.vam.ac.uk www.swarovskisparkles.com id Ferrua.
.Runway Rocks 2003
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While many of us consider the ground beneath our feet to be solid and unchanging, “Taproots” by the Californian artist Anne Mudge offers a reminder of the communication and transport systems that tunnel beneath us. Currently under construction at the San Diego State University campus, the trolley station and its sculptures evoke an ethereal underworld of growth.
Suspended from the trolley station ceiling, thirty feet above the ground, the forms are of thick steel cable and reminiscent of plant stems and roots. When the installation is complete each sculpture will rotate in the breeze caused by the arrival and departure of the trains, to create a dynamic atmosphere of animated line and projected shadow.
Public transport in many American cities, especially sprawling cities such as San Diego, is a virtually nonexistent option for commuters. The new trolly station and the engaging art to ponder while waiting is a unique and welcome addition to the area.
The trolley station will to open to the public in the summer of 2005.
Winter warmer For several years Cath Kidston’s cheerful fabrics have been the epitome of the English spring and summer. Her designs provide a tempting mix of the whimsical, the classic and the nostalgic a look that has given her company its huge global appeal.
Now with the launch of its first seasonal collection for Autumn/Winter 2004/5, the company intends to keep us cosy and warm through the cold, dark months ahead.
The new range has a distinctly modern feel with large, graphic floral designs complimenting and contrasting with the background colours of deep petrol blue, cherry and stone. Corduroy has been introduced as a key fabric and the popular ticking print has also been given a modern twist, with vivid stripes in striking colours. To compliment the new colours and fabrics Cath Kidston are also introducing bags, umbrellas, clothing and nightwear.
T: 020 7221 4248 www.cathkidston.co.uk
Launched in 1985, Bennison is an English company specialising in hand printed fabrics based on the designs of the original 18th and 19th century English and French textiles discovered by the late, renowned antique dealer and decorator, Geoffrey Bennison.
The Bennison tradition of excellence has continued with original designs that are hand drawn and printed. The latest addition to a range that now numbers over 140 designs is a damask with a difference. Lorenzo is a deconstructed 18th century design that draws on the Italian tradition but has a distinctly modern edge, to accompany the celebration next year of the company’s 20th anniversary.
Lorenzo, £110 per metre. Showrooms in London, New York and Los Angeles. T: 020 7730 8076 www.bennisonfabrics.com s e l v e d g e . o r g