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    Fashion Blog by WEXO

    TOMAX and WEXO proved a formidable team in bringing together a generation-spanning audience, dressed painfully current to impossibly chic. The event brought together a furtive mix of some of fashion's most influential figures in retail, media and creative design in the moody setting of Testbed1 (think East London warehouse dressed to meet the parents).

    Inventor of the original record bag, Jas Sehmbi walked the audience through his journey from India to 1970s England, explaining the decisions which made him a worldwide design pioneer. Jas’ story of rocketing sales figures and mass market success seemed far from what drives so many to enter an infamously prohibitive and difficult industry. He described how his simple, practical design became iconic across youth cultures on a global scale, thereby illustrating the impact of fashion on culture and the way we live.

    Young, fun crowd at the event


    The evening moved from romantic success tale to the unique critical overview of Alexandra Shulman - holder of the coveted throne of UK Vogue Editorship for twenty fast-paced years. Speaking frankly and openly, she comfortably navigated tricky questions about fashion's inherent contradictions - from the inspirational and destructive nature of fantasy to the valuable aesthetic of elitism.

    There was time to grab a drink at the suitably stylish ‘Doodle Bar’ before up-and-coming designer Tessa Edwards' video was projected onto Testbed1's concrete walls. The audience was mesmerised, if somewhat confused. Speaking from a position within the fashion establishment - already having worked for the likes of Dior in her young career, Edwards spoke sincerely about fashion as the tool she uses to subvert consumerist notions of manufactured identity. 

    Alexandra Shulman, editor of Vogue in conversation

    The juxtaposition of the three speakers contrived for a perfectly-rounded evening. As one man politely heckled, ‘to want people to wear your designs is for them to consume an identity you’ve created’. With all of its purist ideals, high-end designer fashion remains a product, and one available to a few. It is not produced for mass consumption – a personalised record bag, on the other hand, is a democratic thing.

    Huge thanks to ToMax Talks and WEXO, who continue to provide young people with the opportunity to navigate and find their place within industries which they will surely influence in the future.


    To Bau or not to B?

    I have spent a lifetime banging on about Bauhaus to my long suffering children: its practice and philosophy, design ethics such as ‘Less is More’ (Mies van de Rohe) and the merits of Functionalism over Frivolity, etc, etc, and I am proud to say that they have rewarded me with stalwart creative thinking and  a flotilla of unsound projects, most  of which have proved amusing one way or another.  

    So I cant believe that I’m saying this, especially since I waxed so lyrical last week about the merits of membering my way round the country in search of culturetainment:  but unfortunately it’

    ’BOO’ to Bauhaus at the Barbican!

    Not only did it cost too much (even with Artfund membership the indigestible £12 entry was only reduced to a semi-realistic £8), but also I found it sparse and surprisingly hard going...and I am an Art addict! 

    Granted:   it is still pioneer stuff - nigh on a 100yrs after its heyday, it is the philosophical basis for all Art School education, and even today the biggest influence on our design thinking since Arts and Crafts. Why? Because good design, as we learnt from a TomaxTalk last summer, is a pleasure. It is a mode of thinking and a way of life. Bauhaus came out of an era of architectural overload and excess, offering a conceptual solution and rational that was so refreshing that it became our modus operandi for the C20 – and beyond. 

    The Barbican is a design icon itself of course, and so the right place to show Bauhaus reliquary, particularly because much of what survives   is small by nature, being either photographic or works on paper.  This is always my dilemma – would a good book be just as enlightening as going to see the exhibition?  As is my wont I dislike museum hush, and came away wanting more atmosphere and antics. Music? Film? Voices?  That is the sprit of Bauhaus. This show felt a bit reverent. Sadly, at £32, the catalogue was un-affordable. Instead I suggest you buy a book (Bauhaus/Frank Whitford Thames and Hudson classic is available on Amazon for £8.95) or go to Berlin to experience the real thing - better! 

    So... What do I recommend this week?  Both of the following are FREE, on until `May 27th, and worth the Oysterage (or Shanks Pony).

    SONG DONG – in the Curve at the Barbican: (a grief stricken elderly Chinese widow lays out  her lifetimes possessions  with cathartic  precision – a lesson in hoarding and history through objects)

    LEATHER FOREVER – Hermes, at Burlington Gdns (behind the RA): This is an absolute delight:  fancy leather goods in a fantastical setting