Issue 2 - Georgina Chapman - Image 3

Georgina Chapman

Tell me a bit about your English childhood.
I was brought up in Richmond, just outside London, and went to boarding school in Wiltshire. We had a country house we went to at weekends. I used to ride ponies and go to gymkhanas, though I was never very successful. Then I studied at the Wimbledon School of Art and we [she and co-designer Keren Craig] launched Marchesa there. I never imagined I’d end up in America.
So how did it happen?
It was a gradual move. Nieman Marcus became our biggest client, and we were selling really well to Americans so we decided to set up an office in New York. When we first arrived, we were lent some studio space in the garment district in Midtown, but we couldn’t start working until 7pm when everyone else had left, and we had to do all our dyeing in the men’s bathroom. It wasn’t the most glamorous start for an eveningwear company. Eventually we got our own offices in the Meatpacking District, but we didn’t go out much because we were working so hard. Meeting my husband [the film producer Harvey Weinstein] sealed the deal, of course. Now my family is here, and my daughter India is about to start school.
Where are your favourite New York hangouts?
I’ve always lived in the West Village, which reminds me a bit of London.
Having children has given me a new perspective on the city: we’ve got a playground right on our street, which is very lucky. I like to walk to my offices in Chelsea along the High Line, a former elevated railway that’s been turned into a park. It has amazing views of the city and is beautifully planted, with cafés all along it. Both India and Dash [her second child with Weinstein, Dashiell] come into work with me a lot. My favourite shop in New York is Bergdorf’s; it’s beautiful, and I love the layout. And I love Showplace Antique + Design Center (, which is an indoor antiques emporium of old Louis Vuitton luggage and vintage clothing. I often go there and sift through everything for little treasures, looking for inspiration.


What are the hotels you love in New York?
I go to The St. Regis quite often for tea, and for fittings with very glamorous people who are staying there. The atmosphere is lovely because the service is fantastic yet it’s relaxed, which is a rare combination. I also love eating at the Waverly Inn, and if Harvey and I are going out, we like Per Se in the Time Warner building and the Monkey Bar uptown. But Harvey works so hard that if we do spend time together, it’s usually in Connecticut.
So how do you spend your weekends?
Our home in Westport is where I can really relax. When I was looking for somewhere for us to get married, I looked everywhere and eventually I said, “Why don’t we just do it here?” That’s not to say it all went smoothly. I made my own dress and the embroidered panels I’d ordered from India arrived stained brown, which was a bit of a heart-attack moment. And then I got the flu, so I was lying in bed pinning the dress together. But it all got done in the end. On a normal weekend, because we’re both so busy, we like to eat in and watch movies in our screening room. There is a restaurant in Westport that we love, the Dressing Room. It was started by Paul Newman, and it serves home-grown, organic food. Everything there is so fresh and delicious.


What other parts of the States are special to you?
I had my bachelorette party at Price Canyon Ranch, a really small place in Tucson, Arizona. I took my girlfriends, and we all shared rooms and went out day and night on horseback wearing pink cowboy hats and, I seem to remember, pink leotards. It was really fun and definitely anti-style. And I sometimes go with Harvey to Sundance. It’s a serious film festival, but because it’s in a ski resort lots of people bring their kids, and there’s a lovely relaxed atmosphere. So I go skiing during the day while Harvey works, and in the evening we all meet up.


What do you love about LA?
My favourite thing is the change of climate when you arrive. I’m always so happy to escape from New York in the winter. I head for The Way We Wore, which sells beautiful vintage clothes. I found a pair of matador trousers in there which inspired my last collection. I like to eat out at Cecconi’s and Soho House, which has fabulous views, but my favourite restaurant of all is Giorgio Baldi in Santa Monica. I always have the sweetcorn ravioli with truffles. It’s making me feel hungry just talking about it.
What’s it like dressing people for the red carpet?
Really nerve-racking. You feel an incredible responsibility. They’re walking out in front of the cameras and about to be critiqued by the world, so you want them to feel their best. Your heart’s in your mouth, thinking – don’t let anything happen to the dress! Harvey and I are often at the same event, both feeling nervous. Still, we’re very lucky that our industries overlap so much that we need to be in the same place.


How do your worlds converge professionally in other ways?
Harvey is incredibly supportive of what I do, and I love what he does. In fact, I’ve just directed a short film for Canon’s Project Imaginat10n film festival, and I’ve been using every bit of help from him that I can get. I’ve told him if he ever feels like designing a dress, I’ll be there for him.



Has the rise of red-carpet dressing influenced the way ordinary women dress?

I think so. When we first started Marchesa, people told us nobody did evening dress any more. These days, people don’t reject it as old-fashioned. It would be very boring if there wasn’t a spectrum of things to wear, and we only had cocktail dresses. Wearing an evening dress is fun; you feel gorgeous, and it’s romantic. There’s nothing more magical than walking into a room where everyone looks incredible.


Where do you get your inspiration for Marchesa?

From movies, from museums, at night on the internet looking at artists…sometimes I’m zoning out on the treadmill when I have an idea. Our new contemporary line, Marchesa Voyage, came about when Keren and I were on vacation, and we realised it would be great to design some clothes we could take with us that had the Marchesa attitude and the prints, but not the corsets and heavy beading. I’m really excited by it.

Do you design differently for American and British women?

I don’t like to generalize. I’m not designing for a particular British or American woman. You might find you have more success with hotter colour palettes in warmer parts of the world, but the same would apply in the States. My own look hasn’t really changed since moving here. It’s hard to be groomed if you’re working with your hands, and I’ve never been a weekly mani/pedi girl at all. I just can’t sit still for an hour. That’s why I love the new stick-on nail art we’ve brought out with Revlon. The nails are designed to match our embroidery, and they take about two seconds to put on.


What would you miss if you had to leave the States?

The service and the can-do attitude. New York is a 24-hour city, and I do find it frustrating when I leave it. What do you mean I can’t get what I want at 2am?

What advice would you have for visitors to America?

Explore as much of it as possible, because it’s such a diverse place. Beaches, skiing, beautiful landscapes and city life. It’s all here.


Images by M.Sharkey/Contour by Getty Images, Camera Press

Issue 1 - Tobias2 - Image 1


Gert and Uwe Tobias are no ordinary artists. Identical twins born in Romania 40 years ago, they work together to create vivid, large-scale woodcuts that are as haunting as they are alluring. Twisted faces, dismembered pieces of furniture, hearts, flowers, lizards, human eyes and staring owl heads are intermingled with old-fashioned typewriter lettering to create imagery that, while drawing from European Romanticism, Transylvanian folklore and even the geometry of the Bauhaus, invents a world all of its own – dense, dreamlike and undeniably beautiful.

These days the twins – tall, athletic and with the sort of looks that wouldn’t be out of place on a Milanese catwalk – are based in a studio complex in Cologne. There, in a suite of Rationalist buildings, they have their studio, their homes, their parent’s home and a gym – they work out for at least an hour a day. They started collaborating in 2001, after years of trying hard not to. “We wouldn’t work together if there wasn’t a point,” says Uwe, the elder by five minutes. “But the trust we have as brothers to give and take criticism really enables our work to progress.” Gert concurs: “Creativity requires friction and antagonism, and we both have loud voices,” he laughs, “but the building is still standing.”


In recent years, the international art world has been increasingly taken by their work – a dramatic large-scale collage had pride of place in the booth of their New York gallery, Team, at Art Basel Miami Beach last December – and collectors are queuing up to buy pieces, among them Hilary Weston, the wife of Canadian billionaire Galen. (The Westons own the upmarket department stores Holt Renfrew in Canada and Selfridges in London, among other assets.) Nice work, chaps.


Your address: The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort


Image of Gert and Uwe Tobias by Corbis



Untitled 2012


“The starting point for this piece is chinoiserie, and the composition is like that of a tapestry,” says Gert, who with his brother was inspired by exquisite 18th-century chinoiserie prints they discovered in Dresden’s Kupferstich-Kabinett – a museum specializing in prints and drawings. But while the imagery of tapestry is traditionally that of hearts, flowers and delightful woodland animals, in the artists’ hands darker elements, such as skulls and strange creatures, appear in their place. “The colour invites you into the picture,” Gert says. “Then we try to unsettle the decorative appeal by introducing the spikes and thorns.”



Untitled 2012


The Tobiases say that it’s simply a lucky coincidence, allied with their immense curiosity, that led them to work with print and woodcuts. “We have redefined woodblocks,” Uwe says. “In a traditional German woodcut you can see the artist’s hand, how he has carved the piece, as well as the grain of the wood. We use a cut-out form that then takes the ink.” In their carefully calibrated collages, the twins don’t aim to tell a story but to present a range of images that, they say, “the imagination of the beholder can work into their own narrative.” Images, such as the spindle on the right (above) are reminiscent of fairytales. The owl – all seeing and all knowing – is a favoured creature in their world.



Untitled 2012


There is a dark humor in the artists’ dislocated collages. Heads are often shaved into cone-shaped forms; legless chairs float across the canvas. “Humor is a means of analysis, rather than a joke,” Gert says. “It moves the work away from its origins in folklore and Romanticism, and breaks with tradition.” The twins work on pieces individually, but begin each new project with drawings that form the basis for discussion. “All decisions are shared,” Uwe says. “And the exciting thing is that the sum of our working together is so much bigger than the two parts. We’re not a cliché of symbiotic twins, though in terms of taste and interest, we have a lot of common ground.”



Untitled 2012


You won’t find many primary colors in the Tobias brothers’ work. Their palette is one of cloudy pastels and worn-away blacks. These color choices, as well as their love of collage, connects them art-historically with the Surrealists, as do the strangely composed creatures, floating faces and dismembered pieces of furniture that dance across their canvases. “There should be a moment of familiarity on initial contact, in that first moment when you look at a piece of work,” they say. The next stage, of course, is when the beholder realises that all is not as it seems. Photography, for example, brings a sense of reality, that’s quickly cancelled out by a bewildering array of disparate details.



Untitled 2012


The pair use the dainty letters of the traditional mechanical typewriter, like so many tiny cross-stitches, to punctuate their canvases and create silhouettes of animals or skulls, for example. “The typewriter letters present a set of limitations, but they come with a very particular atmosphere of their own,” Uwe says. “They’re visually pretty,” Gert continues, “and they have a historic quality. We are aware of our historicity.” Embroidery and needlework are recurring themes in their work: for the twins, they are a symbol of historic tradition as well as an evocation of the humble, emotional human quality of handicraft, and a reminder of their old life in Transylvania.

Angelica Cheung - First Editor

Angelica Cheung

How did you come to be editor of Vogue China?
Before I came to Vogue I was thinking seriously about quitting fashion journalism. I had been editor-in-chief at Marie Claire Hong Kong and Elle China, but although I studied law at university, I’d never practised it. I wanted to do something other than fashion journalism, because I thought I’d done it all. Then Condé Nast came calling. I mean, it’s Vogue. How could I say no?
Vogue China has a print and online readership of more than 1 million. Are you surprised by how successful it’s been?
Yes and no. China was tipped to be the next emerging market in fashion when we launched in 2005, and our launch issue sold out immediately, which was an encouraging sign! At the time, I said that if people are riding a horse, and you ask them what they need, they would say a very fast horse, until you show them the car. I think the time was right to show them the car.
Has the way Chinese women approach fashion changed since 2005?
Definitely. Their approach has matured at such a rapid rate. Obviously there are people who love the big brands and logos. But within the first- and second-tier cities, there is an incredibly sophisticated consumer base. These women travel extensively, they go to the shows in Paris, they buy couture. Women here like to look polished. They like beautiful handbags, lovely high heels, dresses and having their hair perfectly done. People don’t admire “casual chic” here so much. Having said that, vintage is really taking off lately. In Beijing and Shanghai, there are some very niche spenders: money is not an object, but they want to buy the right things. Some of them might buy only runway collections, for instance. Others are moving away from logo products; they feel that the newcomers from second- and third-tier cities are wearing those, so they want to show they have moved on.
Are Vogue editors friends or rivals?
There is a certain identity that is shared by being an editor-in-chief of Vogue, because it is the pinnacle of a career in fashion magazines. However, we work within very different markets, with very different readers, so at the end of the day we are very independent of each other.
The speed of change in China looks incredibly fast. Does it feel that way?
Yes. Even the architectural landscape around you changes at a rapid speed; buildings seem to come and go. However, when you live here for so long, you get used to change. People are accustomed to a very fast pace of life. Sometimes, when I go to Europe or to America, I’m like, “Oh, this is still the same as it was two years ago.”

Do you have a good work/life balance?
I used to work all the time, then a few years ago I had my daughter, Hayley. I really felt the impact of these choices that you make between work and family. It’s so important to give it your all in both aspects, and it’s something that I really try to do. Even though I travel so much, I often end up taking day trips to different continents so I don’t miss out on too much.
What are the best and worst things about living in Beijing?
Beijing is a difficult city to live in, with its infamous traffic and pollution, but it is the center of China, and that has its appeal. Parts of the old city, around the Imperial Palace, are very beautiful. It doesn’t have the cosmopolitan charm of Shanghai, but at the end of the day, the majority of the movers and shakers are here, so Vogue is, too.
How different is your daughter’s world to the one you grew up in?
I can’t even begin to tell you. My daughter has been travelling with me since she was a baby – she’s such a little jetsetter. We grew up with nothing by comparison: there was no fashion to speak of, no diverse cuisines or restaurants, nobody traveled anywhere. Now, new shopping malls are opening up everywhere, people are exposed to so much via the internet, and everybody is on their phones all the time. Hayley knows her way around an iPad, and she’s only six. That would have been unimaginable when I was growing up. I still have a picture of when I was a kid, holding Mao’s Little Red Book. My grandma was a tailor, and she made me some really tight black-and-white check trousers to wear to school. Everyone else was in a blue uniform. I loved my trousers, but when I went to school they whispered, “Bourgeoisie.” That was a very bad label. After that, I didn’t dare wear them ever again.
Would you ever consider giving up work to be a full-time mother?
I don’t think so. Much as I love my daughter, I would miss my hectic life. One benefit we have from Chairman Mao is his slogan, “Women hold up half the sky.” That era basically 
lifted women to the same status as men. As a result, women of my generation feel that we have to work. It never occurred to us to stay at home. If I told my mom I wanted to stay at home, she would think my life a total failure. Maybe it’s nice sometimes to go to the spa and have your nails done, but I don’t think that’s me, and I don’t think it’s the majority of Chinese women.

Vogue China

Is there any job you would like to do after Vogue China?
I never thought I would be in this job this long: nine years now. Friends still tease me about it, because when I joined Condé Nast, I said I would probably stay for two years 
and move on to something else once Vogue was successfully launched. But we just kept having new ideas. I always believe there is life after Vogue. Life is short. If one day I stop feeling inspired, I will move on to something else. But I don’t think I will go back to law now.
Where in America have you traveled? What do you like about the country?
I travel to America quite a lot, but I always go on business trips with packed schedules. I love New York – I like the energy, and I love how everybody there is very direct. They know what they want, and they’re not afraid to go after it.
How would you describe your personal style?
In this industry you’re forced to make choices about fashion every single day, and with a young child, and the school run in the morning, I really try to keep things simple. I love one-piece dresses, and Jason Wu always makes ones that are chic but comfortable for running around in all day. Accessories are great for making an outfit stand out, and Lanvin does such fun pieces. I have a particular weakness for coats, and I find the shapes from Marni work really well for me.
What was the inspiration behind your trademark asymmetric haircut?
It was really the notion of my hairdresser at the time. He said he had an idea for a cut and couldn’t think of anybody who could carry it off, apart from me. I said, “Go for it,” and it’s been this way ever since.
Are we going to hear more from Chinese fashion designers in the future?
We’ve always been very conscious about promoting Chinese designers since our first issue, but I must admit that, back then, it was a bit of a struggle to find anybody. Now, we have people like Masha Ma and Uma Wang who show at Paris and Milan. Huishan Zhang, who we’ve supported from the beginning, has a presentation during London Fashion Week and has just won the Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize. They’ve come so far over the past few years, and I think they’ll go even further.
Your address: The St. Regis Beijing

Angelica Cheung in her office in Beijing

The Art of The Rug

The Art of the Rug

The grand British art historian Kenneth Clark, once the director of the National Gallery in London, owned a lot of art. But among Lord Clark’s favorite works was a piece made by Duncan Grant – a precious and much-loved artwork that he stepped on almost every day. Sacrilege? Not at all, because the artwork in question was a rug: designed especially for his eminence by the Bloomsbury Group artist, and frankly, far from the average humble floor covering.
Which goes to show that a rug can be a work of art and usable. There’s certainly a lot to love about a great rug. Like “slow food”, rugs are perhaps the ultimate “slow” art form. They take months and even years to complete, are usually made of natural fibers, last for centuries if kept properly and can be rolled up and transported. They are also warm and tactile.
Which is probably why the artist-designed rug is having a renewed moment in the art and fashion worlds. Pioneering the revival is the Rug Company, which has showrooms across Europe and North America, as well as Taiwan, Hong Kong and the Middle East. It has placed itself firmly in the vanguard of artist and designer-made rugs by commissioning and selling rugs created by such fashion figureheads as Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood and Diane von Furstenberg, as well as a series of one-off tapestries from contemporary artists including Kara Walker, Fred Tomaselli (whom we feature on p.74) and Sir Peter Blake.
“Artists and designers’ contemporary rugs have become really collectable in recent years,” says Christopher Sharp, CEO and co-founder of the Rug Company together with his wife Suzanne. “The nature of their production – they’re knotted and woven entirely by hand by a small group of skilled craftspeople – means that their production is limited, and that demand outstrips what we’re able to produce.” So they’re also an investment, one reason why artists’ rugs are flying off the floors of the Rug Company’s stores, everywhere from San Francisco to Mexico City.
The swell of interest is not limited to New York. Earlier this year the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris hosted Decorum, an exhibition featuring more than 100 rugs and tapestries created by artists ranging from Francis Bacon and Pablo Picasso to Le Corbusier and Louise Bourgeois. This summer in London there’s been an exhibition called Form through Colour, both showing and selling rugs produced by Bauhaus designers Josef and Anni Albers, as well as contemporary British artist Gary Hume.
The organizer of that exhibition, textile and rug-designer Christopher Farr, whose eponymous company has offices in London and Los Angeles, was a frontrunner in the current rug boom. “When we started making artist-designed rugs [in the early 1990s] people laughed at us,” says Matthew Bourne, Farr’s business partner. “Nobody else did it at the time. But we’ve always asked, ‘Why can a sculpture be a work of art and not a rug?’ ” Christopher Farr now sells rugs by a roster of big-name artists and designers that includes Andrée Putman, Jorge Pardo and Sarah Morris.


Poppy Night by Alexander McQueen,
handwoven wool aubusson, for the Rug Company

As Bourne notes, artistic rugs have seen previous high-water marks: “In the 1920s the groundbreaking Myrbor gallery in Paris, led by Marie Cuttoli, sold rugs by Picasso and other artists.” Then, into the 1950s and 1960s, rugs came on to the market bearing designs by artists including Ellsworth Kelly and Alexander Calder. But it took until the 1990s to feel the real heat of revival, which Bourne attributes to “a search for new and durable art forms that are useful as well as beautiful”.
Cast around, and you’ll find plenty more manifestations of the new art rug. Notable in the genre are Michelle Evans’s wool and silk rugs, which have just been exhibited at the J+A Gallery in Dubai; ChiChi Cavalcanti’s graphic, Brazil-influenced rugs, which are prized by architects and interior designers; and Tania Johnson’s meditative rugs based on photographs of natural phenomena such as water. “They take months of painstaking work,” says Johnson, whose clients have included Calvin Klein Home.
There’s even an avant-garde strand in artistic rug-making. In May, at Barneys in New York, an exhibition called Volume #1 showed the results of a limited-edition art-rug project from luxury rug-makers Henzel Studio, which included a Juergen Teller portrait of a nude Vivienne Westwood in rug form, a rug by Helmut Lang, and an astonishing floor-piece by Marilyn Minter called Cracked Glass.
Several of these rugs broke out of the classic rectangular format, and used differing weave heights to create complex images. “This collection was a way to show the rug in a broader context,” says Joakim Andreasson, curator of the project. “The idea was to bring the art rug to a new audience that doesn’t make such a distinction between applied and fine art.” It’s also worth noting that compared to much contemporary art, the rugs were relatively affordable: with prices ranging from $16,000 to $20,000, they are cheap enough, almost, to induce a serious rug habit.
We still have some way to go, however, before precious rugs and tapestries are as appreciated as they were in their heydey, during the Middle Ages. “Tapestry was then judged as a higher art than painting and was more expensive,” says Matthew Bourne. So prestigious was it, adds Christopher Sharp, that “aristocrats would roll up their tapestries and take them to other people’s castles to show them off. Henry VIII had a lot of his wealth wrapped up in them.”

Untitled rug by German artist Anselm Reyle
in Himalayan and New Zealand wool and silk,
in collaboration with Henzel Studio

It was probably industrialization that led to rugs, wall-hangings and tapestries being downgraded. “In the 20th century, makers’ skills started to disappear in the West,” says David Weir, director of Edinburgh weavers Dovecot, which itself was revived ten years ago after a period in the doldrums. “Previously we’ve commissioned artists such as David Hockney, Graham Sutherland and Frank Stella, and we’re now returning to the artist-designed rug idea – we’ve recently brought out a series of hand-tufted rugs in collaboration with artist Than Hussein Clark. Weaving translates well to contemporary art.”
Rug-making remains a slow and labor-intensive endeavor, but producers have found plenty of artisans happy to take on the challenge of making art rugs in the developing world. Christopher Sharp uses weavers in Nepal, for example, while Christopher Farr employs Indian craftsmen, and is even making rugs in Afghanistan as part of the US-led AfghanMade initiative.
The one question Matthew Bourne is always asked by buyers is whether they should, like the aforementioned Lord Clark, actually walk on their beautifully designed rugs.
“Well, rugs are made for use, and assuming they’re made well, they are very robust,” he says. “But if people want to put them on the wall, that’s also fine.” It probably depends, as much as anything, from which perspective you like to encounter your art: head on, or from on high.
The Rug Company,; Christopher Farr,; Michelle Evans,; Tania Johnson,; Henzel Studio,; Dovecot Studios,; AfghanMade,; Top Floor,
Your address: The St. Regis San Francisco; The St. Regis Mexico City

The Eclat 2 rug, handknotted in silk,
designed by Turkish-born Esti Barnes for Top Floor

The Wild One

The Wild One

The New York-based Fred Tomaselli is acutely aware that as an artist – particularly one who makes a very comfortable living as such – he is privileged to enter his own little world every time he steps foot inside his Brooklyn studio, even as the world outside seems to be spinning out of control. “The studio is almost like paradise,” the 58-year-old California native says. But he is also a self-described news junkie, reading The New York Times, checking the web and listening to the radio. “The news is constantly penetrating the environment I live in.”
That tension – utopia versus cold, hard reality – pervades Tomaselli’s oeuvre. In his intricately patterned, obsessively assembled – or, as he says, “relentlessly handmade” – “hybrids” of collage and painting, he seems alternately to be inviting the world in and shutting it out. There are elegant, unabashedly beautiful images of birds, but look closer and see that they comprise tiny pictures snipped from magazines; there are fish, trees and flowers fashioned not only from paint but from pills and organic matter like insects and leaves, encased in layers of resin. The New York Times art critic Ken Johnson has compared his hybrids to “windows into the mind of someone in a state of visionary rapture”.
At first glance, his subjects might look placid. On careful inspection, they can veer to the violent: is the bird with its beak thrust into the snake’s mouth in Penetrators (Large), overleaf, feeding the serpent or fighting it? Has the eagle in Avian Flower Serpent just killed the snake wrapped around the tree branch?
Although he lives in Williamsburg, an urban hub of creative types, Tomaselli is actively connected to nature. He is an avid bird-watcher, fly fisherman, surfer and gardener. But his art historical influences also run deep and are as disparate as Japanese Edo prints and Joan Miró’s Constellations series of cosmic-themed paintings, executed at the outbreak of World War II. “I felt like Miró was saying the world is going to hell, but this need for culture continues,” says Tomaselli. “Art needs to be made.”
Tomaselli’s ongoing series, The Times, in which he alters the lead photo on the The New York Times front page, is in the same political vein. He has tweaked images of Ponzi-villain Bernie Madoff, bombed rubble in Syria and children sledding in Central Park. “I decided to become another editor and impose my subjective decisions,” he says. Lawrence Weschler, a well-known cultural critic, has described the series as an “act of witness, a Book of Days across an age of tumultuous transition.”
The series, which has heavily influenced his recent hybrids, will be featured in a solo exhibition at the University of Michigan Museum of Art in October, and in California in February 2015. A selection of his bird paintings will also be on view from October to February as part of The Singing and the Silence: Birds in Contemporary Art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.
His dealers, he says, are adept at insulating him from business affairs. At one time, a while back, uncomfortable with the growing commodification of visual art, Tomaselli tried to stop making it. “But I was really unhappy,” he admits. Now, “I’ve made an uneasy peace with it. Few jobs have no dark night of the soul. I do feel I can do anything I want in the studio. That’s incredible.”
Fred Tomaselli: The Times is at Orange County Museum of Art until May 24, 2015. Fred Tomaselli: The Times, by Lawrence Weschler, is published by Prestel
Your address: The St. Regis Washington, D.C.

Nov. 11, 2010, 2010
In this instalment of his series The Times, Tomaselli
took the original photograph of students protesting
tuition hikes in the UK, or, as the artist says,
“anarchists smashing stuff”, and made an abstraction of brightly
colored shards, like an explosion of stained glass


After Oct. 16, 2010, 2014
Tomaselli’s Times pieces sometimes serve as studies for larger
compositions, such as this one, inspired by a photo
of a machine drilling a tunnel for a Swiss rail system.
“There’s this zooming in and zooming out happening,”
he says of the painting, which pairs Earth’s
flaming core with a kaleidoscope of humdrum man-made products

The Empire Strikes Back

Artisans have always been the heart and soul of Italy. Although “haute couture” began in Paris in the early part of the 20th century, the great Italian ateliers emerged on the international stage in the 1950s thanks to the fashion pioneer Giovanni Battista Giorgoni. The entrepreneur cleverly persuaded US buyers to stop in Florence the day after the Paris collections, before flying back to America. Both buyers and press returned home inspired by what they saw, and Italian “alta moda” (or couture) was born. Three talented sisters, the celebrated Sorelle Fontana, led the way, the glamour of cinema immortalizing their designs in the public imagination when they unforgettably dressed Ava Gardner in The Barefoot Contessa and Anita Eckberg in La Dolce Vita. Giorgini cemented Italy’s fashion reputation internationally, and when he stopped hosting shows in Florence, Rome gradually took over. Galitzine, Lancetti, Fausto Sarli, Renato Balestra and Raffaella Curiel were among the many prestigious houses – the greatest though, were Valentino Garavani and Roberto Capucci. Both equal in genius in the pursuit of beauty, Valentino was more commercial and international, while Capucci, who never ventured into prêt-à-porter, was more known at home than abroad, memorably dressing Italian socialites in fantastical sculptural creations. With the rise of Italian prêt-à-porter, led by designers such as Walter Albini and Giorgio Armani in the 1970s and 1980s, Milan gradually eroded Rome’s position and turned the spotlight on itself. But today, there is a renewed focus on AltaRoma, as the assembly of Italian couture houses is known, showing twice a year in January and July, immediately after the haute couture shows in Paris. Currently under the stewardship of Silvia Fendi, the doyenne of celebrated Fendi accessories such as the Baguette bag, and granddaughter of the legendary house’s founders, its aim is to promote and sustain the extraordinary wealth of Italian artisanship passed down through the centuries. “AltaRoma has a specific vocation – that of treasurer of our artisanal heritage,” Fendi says, “as well as being a launch pad for innovative, creative people seeking to develop their international profile. Rome is now a scouting centre for global talent.” With the support of Vogue Italia editor Franca Sozzani, the best young designers are being discovered through the competition Who’s Up Next? Today, former winner Sergio Gambon is the creative director of Galitzine, and is one such talent continuing the tradition of haute couture in Rome. Most of the “hands” – as the top-level seamstresses are known – learned the craft at their grandmothers’ knee, sewing dresses for their dolls. Witnessing these unsung artisans at work in ateliers across Rome is enlightening and humbling, like observing the weavers of 15th-century tapestries. The care, precision and expertise given to each stitch recalls a true artist at work, and to know that this craft is being kept alive in a world of accelerated change, is a vital connection to the past that safeguards the integrity of haute couture.

Where to stay: The St. Regis Rome. A private visit to the Fendi atelier, design studio and boutique can be arranged for guests