STUDIO OOOZE

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Perfection can be disturbing. It leaves nowhere for the eyes to linger. A major aspect of contemporary photography is that instead of taking photos as a representation of reality, many photographers take photos which are entirely staged to perfection. Such is the nature of food photography, oftentimes unapologetically beautiful, yet so hard to achieve in reality. An old master reinterpretation runs through the the personal and commercial work of the creative duo from Oooze Studio, Dionna Lee and Sean Ashley. An aesthetic taste that is minimalist, innovative and unconventional gives their work a quality akin to still life paintings from Caravaggio or Van Dyck.

Of particular intrigue is their take on authentic local products like Kong Bah Pau (Pork Belly steamed buns) or Five-spiced Mushroom Tofu buns. Chiaroscuro and artful styling are employed as devices to heighten our awareness of ordinary ingredients and food products. Their images remind us that, given due effort, beauty can be found in the ordinary.

Photography by Studio Oooze

THE CULT OF HEDI

Going against the grain and causing a furore along the way, Hedi Slimane is carving out his own legacy. At the root of it all, the one thing that typifies a cult is enigma. Be it a person, or an idea, it is this sense of mystery that first draws us to something, and then catches our attention, again and again. We don’t often understand these cults, and in part, that is what unceasingly ensnares our imagination. As a person, and in his ideas, Hedi Slimane embodies such a cult, and in doing so, has created—most undoubtedly and knowingly—his own troop of diehard followers. Below, we present a selection of images curated by Slimane for Vulture Magazine.

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Text by Lesley C. | Photography by Hedi Slimane

OBJECTS OF DISCRETION

Anyone who has interacted with Kei Ninomiya will know that he is a man of few words, curt and to the point. Paradoxically, he is strangely expressive through fashion. Hailed as one of the most evocative and unique designers of our generation, he speaks volumes through his designs. It is definitely no coincidence that his most important aim is to constantly seek out ‘new forms of expression’, ones that are ‘new, surprising, and free’.

A rising star, the 32-year-old designer joined the Comme des Garçons group and launched his debut collection in October 2012, after meeting and working for designer and founder of Comme des Garçons, Rei Kawakubo in 2008. Under his belt is a degree in French Literature in Tokyo from the Aoyama Gakuin University—a curious choice, though this background and training has never been cited as an influence in his current practice.

Ninomiya’s line ‘noir kei ninomiya’ delivers through the poetic nature of black. The depth of  colour serves as a canvas for him to communicate a world of emotion, unearthing a trove of creative possibilities. One might assume that inspiration and ideas come to him easily. But Ninomiya clarifies that ‘there [has not been] inspiration from anywhere,’ that his work is ‘the result of formulas and repetitive studies’ and ‘manual labour’. The full story can be found in the March 2016 Edition of Vulture Magazine.

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Text by Jekjin W. | Photography by Kaz Arahama | Styling by Takumi Iwata

THE HOSTEM EXPERIENCE

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For 21-year old James Brown, opening a fashion concept store was never foremost in his ambitions. By a turn of luck one day as professional footballer, he sustained an injury that would shape the course of his life to become one of fashion’s most visionary entrepreneurs. Now, at 26, his revolutionary concept store on Redchurch Street, Hostem, carries coveted brands such as Rick Owens and Thom Browne. Brown maintains the edge of his concept store through a robust retail philosophy that lauds store experience as the ultimate novelty. Along with his ambitious creative team, he challenges what it means to experience retail, viewing the destination store as an evolving enclave for the local creative community.

NA: First thing that I noticed when I walked in, like I said, was the sense of honesty, which is quite important to Vulture as well. ‘Honesty’ can obviously mean many things. When it comes to product design or an environment, there is always that purer source. It is not like a secondary one that you reference. So, that is what I really want to get a sense of; what that source is, what is at the heart of Hostem?

JB: I think for me, I am quite fascinated by the word ‘luxury’, and what people’s perceptions of it are. I think luxury can mean so many different things. A material like the floorboards that we have upstairs, they were from an old re-claim yard and are cheap pine boards, but we spent time restoring them, bringing them back to life. All of the boards were laid by hand. Same with the wall coverings, that’s just hessian sacking that you get from potato or old money sacks. Myself and Hannah and James (the designers,) hand-painted every panel you see up there and we hand-sanded and later tacked the by hand to the walls. For us, we didn’t have a huge budget to do the interior. It was done in a very small way. We just wanted to treat things very preciously; give them attention to detail. I think that translates to the brands we work with. They are not mainstream brands; they are designers who may only sell to 12 stores in the world and they might construct each garment by hand. It might not be the most amazing or expensive fabric, it might only be basic cotton, but it’s been hand-stitched, hand-finished, hand-dyed and then treated again. So again it’s that attention to detail and time that goes into the production.

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NA: Yeah, it’s like an interesting take on heritage. It’s not like a caricature of the term, for instance, like ‘British heritage’, that entails suiting, checks and what not. Even from the way you described how this building was acquired, there was a lot of respect for what came before, and I think that translates into the way you curate your products as well.

JB: Yeah, I mean definitely. I think with the ground floor especially, five years on, now looking back, there have been a lot of people taking references from it. But I think for us at that point, we wanted to reference the past and elements of old London, and we are very aware of being in this area especially. It has great heritage and history. Like Old Nichol Street, the estate behind there was the first public housing after the war—it’s now Grade (II) listed, you know, it’s got an amazing [story]. When you research into the area and [find] they were all factories around here. They were garment factories like those you have in Brick Lane with the old Hugenot houses where they used to dye the silk and where Hugenots used to live in the weaver’s loft on the top floor. It was a very honest area, and we just wanted to reflect that. I think for us if we had done something that was very glitzy and sort of shiny and new, it would have felt very incongruous to its setting. We just wanted to use materials that would have been here in the past and treat it kind of the same way while putting a contemporary spin on it.

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The store is temporarily relocated to 28 Old Nichol Street, E2 7HR, London while renovations take place at Hostem’s Redchurch location, which is set to re-open for F/W16.

Text by Nabil A.

BEST ESSENTIALS

Vulture Mag x Mr Porter

It is decadent, some may argue, to fork out the same amount for a basic garment as an evening gown. But it is precisely this investment in luxurious day-to-day pieces that appeals to its proponents. The ability to pull off a tailored look necessitates quality tailoring: that of Saint Laurent pants, for example, or a Thom Browne Oxford shirt from Mr Porter. Such pieces last—and some, like an exquisitely made leather jacket, mature with age and wear. While brighter colours transition in and out of season ad infinitum (and some may argue, ad nauseum), basics, by their very definition, continue to enjoy understated flair. It too confers versatility—replacing the cotton collared shirt with a nylon one grants immediate carry-on ease A uniform of sorts, such a wardrobe guarantees the ease of choice by reduction, allowing the wearer to concentrate on real work, a la Mark Zuckerberg—only more chic. Also featured: Bracelet from Acne Studios, Perfume Creed by Aventus, Sneakers from Puma, Jacket from A.P.C.

Photography by Kevin F.