Sunday, March 29, 2009

Visions of the bourgeoisie

I recently had a look at the video for the Fall 2009/2010 collection for Balenciaga. The presentation took place inside the Hotel de Crillon, which for some is far more chic and discreet than The Ritz, but I have no opinion on this subject. The pale walls with touches of gilt were a perfect backdrop for a collection, luxurious, yet restrained, sexy, but very sophisticated. There were shades of Yves Saint Laurent, which is a good thing right now. What I mean by that is, Saint-Laurent created sexy, but never vulgar. His sexiness was more sensual and suggestive. His sexiness happened at the table of a chic restaurant with glances and discreet talk and not in the unisex toilets in the back of a club. There was something hypnotic about seeing those clothes of satin, lace and velvet, all in dark smoky colors in this impossibly bright space that spoke of past indescretions. Some fashion critics have pointed out the Parisien-ness of it, the bourgeoisness of it and the controled quality of this collection. The woman in these clothes is in control. She smokes and has a drink. She does not obsess about her looks, but she knows what works for her. She finds celebrity culture boring and can easy reference classical literature at any given situation. She is civilized. She does go out now and then, but you will never hear or see photos of her drunk and out of control. It all made me think of what I imagined adults were like when I was a child and why I was so desperate to be one. Lately I have been thinking about art and beauty, music and beliefs. I was mixing classical architecture with modern design with an M83 soundtrack. Take a Haussmann apartment, fill it with furniture from Andrée Putman, Hervé Van Der Straeten,Jean-Marie Massaud, and Ettore Sottsass, give it the combined scent of whisky soaked tobacco, powdery white musk and iris, paintings by Pierre Soulages, Joan Mitchell, Franz Klein and Christopher Wool, or even late Warhol and play music, like the forementioned M83, early Pink Floyd or Can. This combination seems like the height of decadence to me and yet, there is something which feels civilized, ordered and rich. Over the past few years the dictates of what is beautiful have truly eluded me. Complexity and individuality has gone and obvious and vulgar have entered the equation to create a celebration of trash culture. I saw this happening in the US begining in the 90's and I feared it would spread and it did spread. I blame all the gold. In early Rap-Culture, gold was an act of rebellion. It was a precious metal and it was expensive. When you saw someone who looked like you, in the same status as you, but had a ton of gold on, you either wanted it or were repulsed by it. It showed an act of something happened, legal or illegal but this person made something happen and was now showing the world what he had accomplished. I was never one of those guys, but I quietly respected this act of defiance. Then it just became the norm, but in that sense, it became too much. It went from gold jewelry to a mouth full of gold, to big gold belts, gold boots and handbags, even gold hair (brassy bleach jobs). The rebellion was lost. With the current financial situation, many people and thinking about how we as a people will change. I am not so sure it will be for the better, but I hope there is a noticable change in the way we conduct ourselves and the priorities we set. It would be nice to see independant thought return, searches for non-dictated beauty, an appreciation for the past and how to incorporate it into the future. It would be nice to hear challenging music at the attention instead of the same things I heard in 1984 being reconstituted (shake it up a bit at least). Of course I am only talking culturally. Everyone else is rightfully extolling the virtures of environmental protection, financial responsibility and respect for all kind. What I am doing is thinking small and individual. I am thinking about what it is to wake up in the morning and really think about what you are going to do, how you are going to do it and when you will do it. I am talking about a consideration of the senses and the difference it makes. Seeing this Balenciaga show made me feel there is a possiblity of civility and restraint existing in a time of real uncertainty. It feels good to believe this.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


I took these photos just out my apartment window. I was upstairs and noticed the sun was back. This is the sure sign of Spring's arrival because I get the sun shining directly into the apartment after it's absence in Winter. The sun was setting brilliantly and I had never taken such a photo before. The intensity was unreal. With the milder temperatures and longer days, of course my mind has turned more to Spring and springtime activities. This year I have no plans other than to continue working on my photos. Where ever I happen to be, for sure my camera will follow. After a long dark Winter, it is nice to have some bright sunshine for a change.

Napoleon and what he brought back from Egypt.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Versailles in Winter II

Versailles in Winter

I recently revisited the gardens at Versailles. The clouds in the sky were incredible and fully dramatic. I managed to get a few interesting shots. Where there is occurred to me that spring will be arriving soon and everything will change again. There were not too many people there, which is rare, so it was easier to take my time with taking the photos. Now, I only wish I had the same opportunities inside the chateau.