Tag Archives: London

(International) Online Shopping

Who says you have to go to Firenze to look like a Florentine? If you have some extra dough to spend, check out some of these cult favorites of the high-fashion elite, all of which let you order online and ship internationally but don’t have locations in the U.S.

Kokon To Zai, London

Call it ’90s tribal, call it futuristic. By any name, it’s quickly becoming a favorite of celebs like Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Bjork. The online store just launched in 2009 and features (what I would call unisex) collections of denim overalls, oversize t-shirts, tribal-patterned hoodies and neon striped trousers. Three physical stores exist, two in London and one in Paris, so you’ll rarely see another person in your look. Another perk? Shipping is a flat 15 pounds for overseas purchases. Look for blowout sales, where you’ll find merch for up to 70 percent off.

Luisa Via Roma, Florence

Yes, Luisa Via Roma carries the same selection of designer labels as most high-end boutiques. But what makes it unique are the exclusive special collections that result from it’s collaboration with many top designers, like Lacoste and Levi, which are available online. In addition, Luisa Via Roma makes all the seasonal collections available online months earlier than most stores, so if you’re desperate for a FW/10 runway look (that hasn’t appeared at department stores yet), you’ll find it here now!

Colette, Paris

This boutique is well known all over the world for its super edgy, trend-setting clothing selection, priced for those who can afford Chanel. But don’t overlook Colette’s more playful side. While you can buy all that clothing online, you can also find great gifts like Yves Saint Laurent coloring books for 5 euro, a set of Colette lighters designed by Andre for 8 euro and a pack of 20 Stéphanie Daoud postcards for 13 euro. The site plays great music, too, in a bar at the top that lists the artists’ names and song titles and lets you skip songs you don’t like. If you’re looking for inspiration, the blogs section of the site is a compilation of photos and text (some French, some English) from anyone NYC hair/makeup artists to Japanese street fashion bloggers. Go crazy!

Tara for TKGO

Akram Khan and Cross-Cultural Dance

Akram Khan’s bahok came to Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art Stage this past weekend, and it was a show we were eager to attend. Karina had been hearing all of the (well-deserved) hype at her internship at the MCA, and Tara is taking a Cultural Studies of Dance class at Northwestern and learning, among other things, about the problematics of authenticity in cultural representation and how a message is communicated to an audience. But even if we had just wandered into the show, we’re certain we would have been just as riveted throughout the entire entertaining and thought-provoking 75-minute show.

bahok, which means “carrier” in Bengali, premiered in Beijing in January 2008 and was voted “Best new vision of global interchange” by Dance Magazine before it embarked on a world tour in 2009. Akram Khan has been called one of the greatest young choreographers by the Dance Critics’ Circle, dance critics and fellow choreographers (including Tara’s flamenco instructor and Northwestern professor Joel Valentín-Martínez). With all the hype, you’d expect an overly abstract piece from the kind of choreographer who works on the too-buried-in-metaphors-to-understand kind of dances. Instead, the Londoner (his family is Bangladeshi) offers a simple but profound message set to an international score from composer and longtime collaborator Nitin Sawhney and, at times, humor in bahok.

(Below is a clip from one of our favorite numbers in the show.)

Set in an unidentified airport (though it really could be any transportation station), bahok explores what happens when people of different origins — China, Spain, Slovakia, India, South Korea, Taiwan and South Africa — are forced to interact and communicate with one another despite language barriers and cultural differences. The dancers in Khan’s company are from all the aforementioned countries, which brings another level of nuance to the work.

Total unison is rare in bahok. Instead, Khan plays with levels and shadows in his choreography. Dancers fly across the floor and lift each other in the air, showing their differences even when all move at the same time. Stage lighting gives the work even more dimension, leaving some dancers in the dark while others are featured in “monologues.”

While language is used in the show (a big electronic departures sign serves at times as the subtitle screen, other times to display cryptic messages), it does not aid in communication. Characters retreat into their own memories, describing their childhoods in a way no one else can understand, or they unsuccessfully attempt to answer simple questions for a customs official. Movement is the only way characters can explain their feelings and communicate who they are to one another. In portions of the show where only one or a few are dancing in the spotlight, each expresses an individual personality on stage, whether it be obsessive paper collecting or a private dance with a father’s shoe.

(Learn a few bahok moves in the MCA’s informative promotional video, below.)

The work, ultimately, is honest. Khan understands that a transportation station is both a void and transient space, and though his characters overlap and spend a long time waiting together in the same space, they never completely accept or understand one another. They exclude each other, they ignore each other, they bicker with one another (but without a cliché dance fight scene). Even when all embrace in one scene toward the end, the most eccentric character is left out and must force her way into the huddle. All are from different places and going different places, but inevitably they end up getting to know each other, whether or not that’s their intention.

Moreover, they are all from somewhere and going somewhere, all the while carrying (hence, “bahok”) memories, aspirations and experiences. It’s a theme that resonates with us especially now, as we (and our friends) conclude our final months at college, which perhaps is an equally adequate representation of transient space, and figure out where we’re going. The final image on the train schedule board is a play on words that sums up the piece: Replace the ‘M’ in “HOME” with a ‘P’ and you see “HOPE.”

How’s that for a representation of the world as it is today? Bravo, Akram Khan, for not only revealing a new perspective on human nature that’s highly relevant in today’s ever-transient society, but also for teaching the world another — better — way to communicate: dance.

Check Akram Khan’s calendar to see if the tour’s headed your way; we both agree you don’t want to miss this. And lastly, check out Nitin Sawhnye’s music, because the score was sublime. (We want the soundtrack!)

Tara and Karina for TKGO

The Bloomsbury Group

One of Northwestern University’s hidden treasures is the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art. It’s located conveniently right on campus and best yet, it’s free for anyone who ambles in. Still, few students take advantage of the opportunity to see art from Mapplethorpe, Michelangelo and Motherwell on display, all of which happened in the past year.

We recently stopped in to see the current exhibit, A Room of Their Own: The Bloomsbury Artists in American Collections, which runs through March 15. The British modernist group included artists and writers (plus an economist) Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell, E. M. Forster, Roger FryDuncan Grant and John Maynard Keynes.

 

"Dancers" (1910-1911) by Duncan Grant, from the Tate Museum (tate.org.uk).

 

The Bloomsbury group was, in essence, a group of friends that became a self-proclaimed “family.” Lacking a common ideology or artistic style, friendship was the only glue that held them together. Bloomsbury was a terribly unchic part of London in the early 1900s, and they spent their time there experimenting with styles and surfaces that defied Impressionist and Post-Impressionist tradition. At the Charleston Farmhouse (their vacation home in East Sussex) and the Omega Workshops (in Bloomsbury), they learned from each other; Vanessa Bell was called a hopeless painter by critics before she met Roger Fry. Walking through the five rooms of the exhibit, you not only see each artist’s experiments with different artistic styles, but the works of those around them, whose influence is obvious.

What stuck with us the most was not the art, but the camaraderie. And as corny as it sounds, when reading about their collaborations, we couldn’t help but see some of ourselves and TKGO in the Bloomsbury artists and their movement. Good friends are all you need to start a project that changes the way the world is perceived.

(Unfortunately, museum rules prevented us from taking photos, but check out some images at the Block Museum official site. For more information on the Bloomsbury Group and images, take a look at this site.)

Tara and Karina for TKGO