Friday, June 12, 2009

"It's very subtle, but it just looks right."*

Celine Resort 2010 [click to enlarge]

Phoebe Philo presented her debut collection for Celine yesterday (Resort 2010, which will begin appearing in stores in November), and I thought it was a brilliant beginning. The pressure on Philo was tremendous. She'd been on hiatus from the fashion biz since the beginning of 2006, and after the magic she worked in her nearly 10 years at Chloé, the last five under the title of creative director, she had nowhere to go but down. But Philo rose beautifully to the occasion with a first collection full of clean lines and quietly luxurious details that should please Celine's mainstay clients, while injecting ultra-modern twists and a fresh mood that the cool girls can love. If that sounds like a vision that's trying to do too much, it wasn't; instead, it came across as coherent, cohesive, and timeless.

Celine Resort 2010 [click to enlarge]

Celine, which began in Paris in 1945 as a boutique selling made-to-measure children's shoes, and expanded into women's ready-to-wear, footwear, and handbags in the 1960s, has been essentially rudderless since 2004, when Michael Kors left after 7 years at the helm. I was often a fan of Kors's work for the label (one of my all-time favorite coats is his below, second from the left), but at the end of his tenure there didn't seem to be a lot of difference between his own line and the collections he was turning out for Celine (a distinction that I suppose can't always be easy to maintain when you're an established designer with a strong sensibility).

From left: Celine F/W 2004; F/W 2003; F/W 2004; F/W 2004
[click to enlarge]

Philo looks to be subtly taking the label in a new direction, and updating it enough so that it looks really right for now. She obviously has a talent for tapping into the moment, but this is not Chloé part deux – Philo just as clearly has an impressive ability to allow a label's own identity to breathe.

More images from the collection are below. I could easily have included the whole thing, as I thought there was hardly a miss and little redundancy in spite of the simplicity of the pieces and the strong themes that carried throughout.

Celine Resort 2010 [click to enlarge]

I can't wait to see what Philo does for Spring 2010. No pressure at all.

See the whole collection at, here (and read Cathy Horyn's take – Philo "makes one of the strongest sportswear statements we’ve seen in some time. . . . [The clothes'] value is to a large and almost novel degree in their practicality" – here).

*Phoebe Philo speaking to Nicole Phelps about a detail in her Resort 2010 collection for Celine

The ill Na Na

Last week I got some unsolicited CDs in the mail from our friend at Una in Portland. In the mix was a disk from Fredrik, a not quite pop, not quite folk release out of Sweden from late last year entitled Na Na Ni. Perfect for driving foggy mountain roads or listening under the covers late at night.

Released by The Kora Records, Oct. 2008.

Grin and Bear It : )

Tonight as part of the Seattle International Film Festival, Los Angeles band No Age is performing an original live score to L'Ours (The Bear), a 1989 film by Jean-Jacques Annaud. Take that, Grizzly Bear.
When a rockslide kills a mother bear, her cub Douce becomes an orphan in the threatening Canadian Rockies. Luckily, she encounters Bart, a full-grown male bear on the run from hunters after mauling their pack animals. Though the ill-tempered Bart initially rejects Douce’s companionship, the cub wins his affection by licking Bart’s gunshot wounds. Psychedelic mushroom trips and a rendezvous with Doc (the effeminate male bear who plays Bart’s love interest) are woodland fun at its finest, but the invasive fear of being hunted drives The Bear forward. Staged with trained bears and filmed in the Italian Dolomites, Jean-Jacques Annaud’s film seems like realism in drag as documentary. Yet it’s this feeling that makes The Bear a magical discovery and a welcome departure from the ordinary wildlife exposé.
As Douce and Bart sift through the maladies and joys of their precarious existence, so too does No Age’s music filter raw sensation through art-punk chaos.

I like bears, I like the Canadian Rockies, I like mushrooms, I like art. I like punk, I tell you what. I like that stuff. I'm not sure about the chaos, it's complicated.

No Age Every Artist Needs a Tragedy mp3



Triumph of Lethargy also playing tonight, at The Mix in Georgetown (info here)


Loud good times

Today is my brother's birthday.

Daniela and Sky in Italy

Happy birthday Sky!

One in a Million

Robert Henri, Jesseca Penn in Black Dress with White Plumes, 1908
[on view at SAM]

I've been volunteering at the Seattle Art Museum since this past winter – twice a month at the Information Desk and every other week up in the galleries, fielding questions that range from "where are the bathrooms?" to "what's a chromogenic print?" My shift in the galleries falls on a day and time that is often pretty slow, which isn't good for feeling extremely useful but is great for wandering around and enjoying the art, and SAM is constantly making enough little changes to what's hanging in the permanent collection spaces to keep things interesting.

One of my favorite paintings up right now is pictured above: Jesseca Penn in Black Dress with White Plumes, by American artist Robert Henri (1865-1929). Penn was a chorus girl in the Ziegfeld Follies and was a favorite model of Henri's; Christie's presided over the sale of this work in the spring of 2005 for $3.6 million, an auction record for the artist.

I have a weakness for large-scale painting and this is a big one, almost life-size. I love the color palette: the beautiful light blue and creamy white against the dark background, and the shock of red hair. The dress, which actually appears more navy than black in person, reminds me of something that Olivier Theyskens could have sent down the runway at Rochas a few years ago. And Penn's expression – with her heavy-lidded eyes and the tilt of her chin – seems fearless, both introspective and direct. Click to enlarge the image above to get a closer look at the details (though this is also one well worth seeing in the flesh).

Your Weekly Mr. Littlejeans

Brothers start to shake when Jeans digs in the crates

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dig It

Due to building regulations, the owners of this 1960s house in Switzerland could not expand outward or upward, so they went underground.

I love the way it looks – I think maybe it appeals to me for similar reasons that building forts did when I was a kid.

More info and images here.

Via Apartment Therapy

The Cappy


oowwww my head hurts

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

True Master

Local architecture firm Build has a great piece on its blog right now profiling the residential work of Arthur Erickson, a master of Northwest modernism who died last month at the age of 84. Seems like he might have been a big influence on one of my favorite current architects, Tom Kundig.

Above and top: Graham House, 1962. Photos by Ezra Stoller

Smith House, 1964. Photo by Ezra Stoller

Catton House, 1967. Photo by John Fulker

Click here for more pics and info.
See also:

One To Grow On

At one of my favorite stops elsewhere on The Internets I saw that comedian Eugene Mirman recently delivered a stellar commencement address at his old high school:

While we're on the topic of commencement addresses that don't suck – and just for old times' sake – here is my own personal favorite, which I like to review every now and then: Conan O'Brien's blockbuster speech to the graduating class of 2000 at Harvard, his alma mater. (If you prefer, watch the video in two parts here.)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009



I'm way into this new Hussein Chalayan campaign.

I'm not sure who did the design but it reminds me of the early 1970s do-it-yourself-utopia home construction books I used to check out from the library as a kid – the Native Funk & Flash of architecture.

Books courtesy Public Collectors, thank you Chad.

Hussein Chalayan images courtesy photographer Amy Troost – visit her website for more, including past editorials for i-D and The Last Magazine, and work with designers such as Balenciaga, Ohne Titel, Rick Owens, Jens Laugesen, and Rodarte.

When I get down, I sure get down/
but when I'm up I know how to fly

When I was growing up, there were a few albums that my parents played so often that they eventually wore out the vinyl. The 1975 Country Joe McDonald record pictured here, Paradise with an Ocean View, is one of them.

I remember liking to look at the gatefold cover when I was very little because of the McDonald's sign you can make out amidst the destruction on the left-hand side. (I had a romantic attachment to this restaurant thanks to the fact that my parents permitted us to frequent it about as often as I was allowed to have sweetened cereal or soda, which is to say, never. Obviously, I was not equipped back then to appreciate the irony of the message being conveyed by the cover artwork, which to me symbolized nothing more weighty than the forbidden pleasure of the Happy Meal.)

But artwork aside, the second side of this record is one that I came to love, and after I moved away to college and didn't have access to my parents' record collection anymore, I picked up my own used copy. It still sounds good – like childhood, only better, because now I can buy my own Big Macs. Here's my favorite cut, the final one on the record:

Country Joe McDonald Breakfast for Two mp3

Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts

one (1) long semi-fit warp t in white, $106, complex geometries
Jak & Jil; see more photos here]


one (1) pair classic white Jack Purcells
(newish but slightly worn in), $50,


one (1) Jacinda gold-plated ring, Dannijo,
$85 at

a bit of sun, $20, Sephora

one (1) perfect summer outfit.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Spartan Life

K Karl Lagerfeld Fall/Winter 2009-2010, with details (t-shirts, buttons, ties, belt buckles, denim labels and rivets) incorporating the "K" logo I designed. See more of the collection at View On Fashion and shop for K Karl Lagerfeld at NET-A-PORTER.


[ click images to enlarge / more here ]

Some Days

I find I often have mixed feelings about our new place in Seattle. We (both human and feline residents) really loved our apartment in Brooklyn with all of its crazy old details and ramshackle backyard, and sometimes I think it's strange that we came back West in large part so that we could enjoy the outdoors more, and then proceeded to move into a place that has no outdoor space whatsoever – not a yard, or even a balcony. But there are also days, like last Friday, when I walk into the living room at sunset and catch the view.

On these days I explain to Mr. Littlejeans and Inez that it's okay if we have to put off that backyard vegetable garden and chicken coop for just a little while longer.

“A good design will never pretend to
be more than one thing at a time.” *

Brass and steel plumb bob, designed by O.J. Kuker, Seattle, c.1948, featured in What Was Good Design? MoMA's Message 1944–56 at the at Museum of Modern Art through November 30th. More info

*Edward Kaufmann, Jr., curator of MoMA's original Good Design shows.

Read a full review by Roberta Smith at the New York Times