Creative alliance and enterprise for egalitarian fashion in terms of wearability and quality. The result of the meeting of designer Didier Vervaeren, screen print artist Hervé Yureogeau, and graphic designer Thierry Rondenet at the Hyères Festival for young talent in 1994, where they all found success. All three come from Brussels and have studied the work of Soviet Constructivists in fashion.
A brand belonging to Gemmindustria, a company founded in Milan in 1943 that operates in the production and distribution of precious stones and pearls in the jewelry business. The brand found immediate success in the market at the beginning of 1996 thanks to a well-planned marketing operation and an effective international advertising campaign. The jewelry stands out for the very high quality of its South Sea pearls, which are presented in many different compositions, often playing on the contrast between colors: white, gold, silver blue, etc. Among the various types of pearls used, Keshi pearls hold a special position: they are seedless pearls that form spontaneously inside the Pinctada maxima pearl oyster and are characterized by unique semi-baroque drop or button shapes. The Batik collection is typical of the technical skill and precious materials of the brand, with natural stones, diamonds and South Sea pearls combined in intricate settings. Utopia’s products are available in Europe and the USA in jewelry shops equipped with instruments capable of certifying the quality of the pearls.
Gérard (1962). French photographer born in Paris (where he lives and works). He has worked closely with the newspaper Libération as a photo-journalist since 1984, as well as Time, L’Express, The Independent Magazine, The New York Times and Le Monde. Alongside this he has also developed fashion and advertising work that has been published in Beaux-Arts, Jardin des Modes, Das Magazin, the Italian and French Marie Claire, the women’s supplement of La Repubblica, Madame Figaro, Io Donna, and The Fashion. He has received numerous awards and held several exhibitions of his work.
(von) Ellen (1954). German photographer. Born in Frankfurt, she left home at an early age to go and live with a group of friends. She completed high school and worked first in Munich at the Roncalli Circus, and then as a model in Paris from 1975. Ten years later she moved over to the other side of the camera and started working mainly for various national editions of Vogue, as well as Interview, George, and Vanity Fair. She is greatly admired for her expressionist inspired images which are both captivating and aggressive. She has conceived numerous advertising campaigns for Chanel, Adidas, and Diesel and has worked with the designers Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, Moschino, and Gucci. Recently she has turned her hand to cinema, with several shorts and a feature called Inferno. There have been many exhibitions of her work and four books: Snaps, Couples, Wicked, and the most recent, Revenge, which was published in 2003 with a print run of 5000 copies, 200 of which were signed by the author. She divides her time between New York and Paris.
Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, Czech Republic. It has been collecting textiles and clothing since it was opened in 1885. It has 20,000 pieces, including Coptic fragments, embroideries, tapestries, silks, and textiles from every period, including some contemporary Czech pieces. The clothes date from 1750 to the present day, and are mostly locally made.
A skirt realised in stiff and reinforced material, usually in tulle, to wear under a skirt in order to give it form and volume. It was fashionable in the 1950s and 1960s as a modern development of the crinoline.
The umbrella’s original purpose was to protect us from the sun (parasol); in French there is still a semantic difference between ombrelle (provider of shade) and parapluie (shield against the rain). Invented by the Egyptians to protect pharaohs and high priests during religious ceremonies, the umbrella first appeared in its modern form at the end of the 1500s with Caterina de’ Medici. At the beginning of the 1800s the parasol, which until then had been an accessory used only by the aristocracy, became a universal, practical, and essential object in many shapes and forms, including such extravagant designs as the umbrella-fan or the umbrella-hat, which left the hands free. In the 1920s it was always co-ordinated with a dress or suit, handkerchief, or bag. Usually made from 8 segments, there was a Japanese style that had 12 to18 segments made from waxed paper or floral cretonne which then disappeared from the fashion scene, except for the odd appearance in runway shows of designers like Jean Paul Gaultier. It is still used for special occasions or in certain Asian countries where it is part of the local costume. The umbrella, on the other hand, was only used to shield the rich against rain by servants between coaches and door entrances. In 1700 an English aristocrat called Jones Hanway was mocked for using an umbrella himself. In the 1800s the umbrella became much lighter (350 grams, as opposed to the 1.5 kilograms of the older styles) thanks to metal fixtures invented by Fox and Deschamps. There was greater use of handles made from precious materials such as silver, ivory, and tortoiseshell that were often carved or engraved. In the 1960s umbrellas made of colored and transparent plastic and synthetic materials began appearing, including famous designs by Courrèges and Emmanuelle Khanh. The golfing umbrella has multicolored segments, and Jean Paul Gaultier produced a style with a luminous handle. The folding umbrella, designed to fit in bags and sometimes even pockets, was invented in 1928 by a German engineer, and at only 22 centimetres it was marketed with the brand-name Knirps (meaning pygmy). The most historic umbrella shops are Swayne Brigg which has been in business since 1750 in Piccadilly, London, and Madeleine Gèly in Paris, which has an important collection of vintage umbrellas.