Category: This and That

Healthy Food Code

I have always dreamt of having the looks and body that people would sell their souls for and I know that’s normally down to your gene pool and the sort of food you eat and lifestyle that you have. I moderately exercise three times a week, eat relatively healthily, don’t drink too much booze, don’t smoke and so far I have resisted the temptation to touch-up with Botox, under my eyes or anywhere else for that matter. I am not sure that my body suits me but its the only body that I have and I just have to try and make the most of it. Some of my many New Year Resolutions were to exercise more (time and life’s commitments permitting), eat lots more leafy, colorful fruit and vegetables and to try and keep my weight in a healthful range. Easier said than done I know. I know there are so many loose-weight, fat-loss plan books out there with healthy recipes and how to balance exercise with food that will help me rejuvenate me. Although I am not giving up on eating processed foods entirely but just eat less of them. I have always thought that to be healthy you had to go green but now the new craze is blue and it’s an algae named Spirulina, also known as Blue Majik, which sounds like something Walter White might have invented in Breaking Bad. Spirulina is normally blue-green in color but for Blue Majik, a yellow pigment is left out which leaves the final product a bright eye-opening blue. It also boasts a powerful deck of nutrients including protein, enzymes, minerals, and vitamins A, K, B12, iron and manganese.

Superfood Blue Majik
A Blue Majik concoction.

A healthy body and a healthy mind are both important and I am glad that eating chocolate or a regular cocoa consumption can improve your cognitive function or it can make you smarter and boost brain power. This came from research conducted by medical schools such as the Harvard Medical school and they must know what they are talking about. However most of what we choose to eat or not to eat is down to willpower and that willpower is something with strengthens over time but willpower can be very challenging because sometimes you might choose to skip eating pizza but later don’t have the strength to avoid an unhealthy snack. It’s still very hard to make healthy living an easy choice.

Pizza Vs Willpower.

I wish there was a healthy food code that would work for me. Perhaps it’s to eat less processed foods, exercise more, eat more superfoods and work harder on strengthening my willpower. Mind over food and matter and rather than Super Size Me just Superfood Me.

Future World

When thinking about the future of fashion there are two things that spring to mind. 3D – printing and BioCouture. Both might not look exactly like clothes but more like a glimpse of the future.

Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen is one of the most adventurous designers around today who combines 3D – printing and hand stitching to create garments, creating her own style of Hi-Tech Couture. She draws her inspiration from the natural sciences to create unique garments, many of which employ unforeseen materials and 3-D printing which make her clothes look more like modern sculpture. Her creations using 3D – printing and laser cutting technology are more about a prefect union of form and function or a mash-up of fashion and technology. As the architect Louis Sullivan once said

It is the pervading law of all things … that form ever follows function.

Suzanne Lee is a fashion designer bringing the burgeoning field of BioCouture to the forefront. BioCouture brings the skills of couturiers and tailors with cutting edge biotechnology. The aim is a future of environmentally-friendly biological materials that reduce or replace a reliance on animals, chemicals, and land for our clothing but more importantly the possibility of a sustainable fashion industry. This technology could certainly influence the fashion industry but she believes that it’s more about how can the fashion industry influence, inform and collaborate with new technologies.

Skeleton Dress
Iris van Herpen’s 3-D Printed skeleton dress.

Iris van Herpen using digital technology

Suzanne Lee's BioCouture prokaryote-grown garment on pennzer blog
Suzanne Lee’s BioCouture prokaryote-grown garment.

3D – printing and BioCouture could well be the future of fashion but each fashion season transforms itself, sometimes into something new. The future of fashion might rest with designers who lead rather than follow or make bold moves and ignore the what is right and what is wrong code of fashion that designers are supposed to follow. It’s the freedom from the traditional rules that will create the future of fashion and create innovators in fashion, those determined to push beyond the fashion boundaries. Those designers that dare to rip apart fashion’s etiquette book and demand serious change.

Besides 3D – printing and BioCouture, there are innovators in fashion that are skillfully concealing smartphones and GPS systems in garments and sleekly designed, sculptural accessories in wearable tech, helping to shape today’s fashion world. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the next generation of designers won’t be influenced by technology as they would have been brought up in the digital age.

Fashion and technology are not strange bedfellows, as there is a whole spectrum of wearable technologies on offer right now – mainly watches such as the Apple Watch, FitBit, Garmin and they are more associated with fitness activities or Fitness tech. It is also predominately about the wrist rather than incorporating tech into clothing which looks to have a much smaller impact in terms of predicted wearables in the short term.

Growth of Wearable Devices

Growth of Wearable Devices.

Jacquard by Google is a conductive fabric or smart fabric embedded into a Levi’s smart jacket – as mentioned in a previous article  Fashion for the Digital Age this jacket enables you to “connect to your digital life instantly and effortlessly. With a literal brush of your cuff, you can navigate your life while living it.” A jacket that is a perfect fit for the wearer and for the technology that you can interact with. The idea of embedding technology in clothes is mixing it with current technologies with future-forward updates in mind. Then there is still the idea of Fashion and AI or Artificial Intelligence and what impact that might have on the fashion industry. Just like there is no area of life or business that hasn’t been touched by the Internet, the same is going to happen with AI where our lives won’t be insulated from it. AI is already used within the fashion industry not just to get information on what’s selling but to forecast fashion trends. It’s not clear how much technology or what kind of technologies will shape the future of fashion but fashion and technology have already collided.

If Fashion be the Food of Love

It’s not unusual for designers to get inspiration from food and other unexpected sources. British designer Mary Quant’s miniskirts were named after her favorite car the Mini – Mary Quant and Parisian courtier André Courrèges have both been accredited with the miniskirt’s invention. Gianni Versace’s major influence was Greek mythology and the Versace logo is the head of Medusa which is thought to symbolize the empowerment of women. As for food influences, the designer Franc Fernandez, the man behind Lady Gaga’s controversial Meat Dress (made from 40 pounds of flank steak ) from the 2010 MTV VMAs, used food as an inspiration for his craft.

Lady Gaga and the Meat Dress, at the 2010 MTV VMAs.
1921 Gucci Cafe
1921 Gucci Cafe, the world’s first Gucci restaurant in Shanghai.

Now it seems that well-known fashion houses are getting into fine dining and hoping to bridge the gap between food and fashion, boost their branding and diversify their revenue. Luxury fashion houses like Burberry, Armani, Ralph Lauren, Dolce & Gabbana, and Gucci have already opened cafés, restaurants and food outlets providing a fashionable dining experience for clothes and food aficionados alike. Burberry launched their first cafe in 2016 – named Thomas’s, after the brand’s founder Thomas Burberry. It is located at their London flagship store at 121 Regent Street. The Gucci Garden due to open on January 10, 2018 inside the historic Palazzo della Mercanzia is a collaboration between Chef Massimo Bottura and Gucci. The 1921 Gucci (named after the year of the label’s foundation) in Shanghai which opened in 2015, is a full-service branded restaurant which can be reached by an elevator in the Gucci store, serves Italian food in a stylish setting.

Ralph Lauren Polo Bar
Ralph Lauren’s The Polo Bar, Midtown New York.
Dolce & Gabbana’s Gold Restaurant in Milan.

Then there is Ralph Lauren’s Polo bar in midtown New York which normally draws celebrities to it’s subterranean space like moths drawn to a light. Dolce & Gabbana proves that all that glitters is gold with their fashionable Milanese restaurant named Gold, where the surfaces are embellished with glitter and sparkle. There is a formal upstairs restaurant that is only open for dinner and a downstairs bar and a bistro area which is open all day. Armani have restaurants, bars and cafés throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia, offering the perfect combination of fashion and food, such as the Armani Nobu in Milan.

The transition from haute couture to haute cuisine is not without its risks and the restaurants of luxury fashion houses and the food that they serve should only be as good as their products, otherwise they risk diminishing their brand image and reputation. Now if only they could figure out what makes a place the place where everyone wants to go.

Janet’s Bar

At This South Kensington Bar, It’s Just You, Your Friends, Some Quirky Decorations and the Barman (plus his brother).

To some, public drinking around Christmas time can be a chore and some bars and pubs can be as intimate as the rush hour tube. Others appear to serve as stalking grounds for happy hour predators and when you finally find a place to drink, it can be hard to find a chair and get your glass refilled. Janet’s Bar, is located in South Kensington, London and attached to the Brompton Hotel. About as wide as the human arm span (with very long arms) – it was a perfect find on Christmas Eve.

Bartender plus his brother at Janet's Bar
Bartender plus his brother at Janet’s Bar, South Kensington, London.

The real feat is that this spot somehow manages to feel both decades old and totally fresh all at once. We were made feel very welcome and had a pleasant chat with one of the easygoing bartenders from Romania, who is also a very talented self-taught artist. We enjoyed our drinks and tortilla chips on the house and the bartenders were knowledgable about beers and wines so be sure to ask them for recommendations. As long as you’re not obnoxious or already too intoxicated, they’ll treat you just fine. It’s a quiet place to get a simple, affordable beer, cocktail or glass of wine and in this neighbourhood, that’s increasingly rare. The seating is somewhat limited, though it’s all in the very friendly service and this local gem of a bar in South Kensington is far from dead.

Janet’s Bar, 30 Old Brompton Road, London SW7 3DL, UK.

Architects and their Fashion

uch of what we see in the world of architecture and fashion is not entirely dissimilar and both present clean lines, dynamic curves, structure and shape. But what of architects and their fashion choices and are they as style-savvy as fashion designers?

Zaha Hadid

“Architecture is how the person places herself in the space. Fashion is how you place the object on the person.”

If you were to ask anyone to name a famous female architect, then Zaha Hadid would most likely come to mind for most people. Zaha became known for building the unbuildable and in 2004, she became the first woman to win the coveted Pritzker Architecture Prize. She won the Stirling Prize twice, in 2010 for her design of the iconic contemporary art museum the Maxxi Museum in Rome, which she gladly accepted wearing an exquisite yellow Prada coat. Then again in 2011, for her design of the Evelyn Grace Academy in London.

Zaha Hadid
Zaha Hadid (cc 2015)

Zaha Hadid was a woman of expansive style and was well known for her flamboyant and personal fashion sense and not unlike fashion, her buildings were known for their dynamic curves and swooping silhouettes. She had a passion for coats, sometimes rocking up her lectures at the Architectural Association wearing flamboyant pink coats by Chantel Thomass. It should come as no surprise that she appreciated designers who dared to reinterpret both fabrics and proportions in their pieces and she followed Belgian and Japanese designers amongst others. She believed that once you stood up wearing certain pieces, they become something else as opposed to the piece laying still – they become animated. She once wore a padded silk jacket by Japanese designer Issey Miyake upside down declaring that ‘I always wear his pieces that way round. They just look better.’ I am sure Issey Miyake would not have minded Zaha reinventing his designs. At the opening of a bar she designed, she wore lilac metallic leggings and at a dinner in her honor, wore a black satin Prada jacket encrusted with sequins.

Since her twenties, she dressed to be noticed and that carried on into the later part of her life – where she dressed in a way that forced you to notice her. That makes you think about how some people only become individuals only later in life and that when you are much younger, you are sill unmolded – but there are some people that are individuals very early on in life. Zaha decided she wanted to be an architect at the age of 12 (she even designed her own bed by the age of 10). It wasn’t unusual for Zaha to wear clothes that would make her body appear to be made of twisted-together black balloons or dramatic capes, the sort of ones that Frank Lloyd Wright wore, like him – she favored capes.

Zaha Hadid was involved in collaborations with Melissa and Lacoste, where she designed shoes for them. These architectural designed shoes ranged from the practical and wearable to sculptural objects. For the Brazilian brand Melissa – she designed shoes of moulded plastic which made it easier to create shapes that can’t be achieved with the more traditional methods associated with shoe making. Shoes that look like they were designed with the fluid organic contours of the body in mind.

Shoes designed by Zaha Hadid for Melissa
Zaha Hadid for Melissa

With her collaboration – Zaha Hadid for Lacoste, she designed a series of limited edition shoes. These shoes were designed utilizing dynamic fluid grids, which wrapped around the foot, that were designed to expand and contract to negotiate the body ergonomically.

Shoes designed by Zaha Hadid for Lacoste
Zaha Hadid for Lacoste

In 2014 Zaha Hadid was chosen to design an exhibition at London’s Design Museum which looked at how women in positions of power use fashion and she more-or-less chose herself.  She was just one of the 26 women that provided at least one of their outfits to the exhibition and they had to provide and explanation about their selections to be shown alongside their contributed outfits. Other women that provided outfits were: Vivienne Westwood and Diane von Furstenburg, Natalie Massenet and first female mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo. Some of the outfits Zaha provided were a cream colored cape by Prada.

Zaha Hadid
Zaha Hadid wearing one-of-a-kind design by Elke Walter. Photograph by Tung Walsh

In 2013 Zaha Hadid hosted a show in her gallery space in London of works by Elke Walter who was one of her favorite fashion designers. At that time Elke Walter was creating one-of-a-kind garments that draped into profligate shapes rather than garments that are cut and fitted for the body and they become a favorite of Zaha and for most of the photoshoots that Zaha did for opening events for her building projects, she wore Elke Walter’s designs. Her designs were mainly oversized (the rise of oversize is currently in trend again) and used a lot of material, which created flexibility and allowed them to fit any body type or near free-form fit. Instead of using patterns, Elke cut straight into the fabric or would hold it up like a sculpture so that she could give the outfit a shape from all sides. It would seem that Zaha chose fashion designers that she felt shared a link with in terms of how they thought and designed.

Zaha Hadid’s work extended beyond architecture with her collaborations with Lacoste, Zaha Hadid for Melissa, Adidas – the original Superstar Supershell in collaboration with Pharrell Williams, a bag she designed for Luis Vuitton and a necklace for Swarovski. Many of these designs showed the same originality as many of the buildings that she designed in her own inimitable fashion and with the emphasis on the structure of the piece – so there is definitely a strong interplay between the design elements that are involved in both architecture and fashion. Zaha Hadid was certainly style-savvy and the clothes the she chose to wear were somewhat more like structures than garments.