When The Hunger Games was released in 2012, as design critics we found its Francophile fashion, its Frank Gehry-inspired architecture, and its streamlined technology difficult to ignore—or admire. If this was the future, why did the Capitol look like the 1980s? Do we overlook evil if it’s not dressed up like Fascism? Where did Katniss get that perfectly faded housedress? Naturally, when Catching Fire came out last month, we had to go back for more.
Warning: spoilers from both books and both films ahead.
Read more. [Image: Lionsgate/Murray Close]
When Apple launched the iPhone 4 in 2010, the company’s website featured large images of the device with the text “This changes everything. Again.”
Change has been a constant refrain in Apple’s marketing over the years. The famous 1984 Macintosh ads framed the computer as an agent of revolution. And the “Think Different” ads of the 1990s implied that purchasing one of these underdog machines put you in the same company as other misunderstood genius underdogs. But it goes back further than that, too. Ads for the Apple II and the business-oriented Apple III in the early 1980s compared their power to that of famous inventors of ages past, including Henry Ford, Thomas Jefferson, and Ben Franklin, among others.
On a hot summer day during Berlin’s biannual fashion week, models stood on podiums in a decommissioned 1960s concrete modernist church remade into an exhibition space. Bobby Kolade’s collection was the first one visible upon entering. At center stood his show piece — a long, maple brown jacket made of Ugandan bark cloth, the oldest textile known to mankind according to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
The 26-year-old Nigerian-German designer grew up in Uganda, and moved to Berlin in 2005 to study fashion. He recently won Germany’s highest fashion prize for young designers for his first collection. But perhaps most interestingly, Kolade, a vegetarian, has hit upon the idea that bark cloth might be a viable alternative to leather.
On the sidelines of the fashion show, Kolade told me that he had seen the fabric as a child, but only recently came upon the idea of using it in clothing.
"Growing up in Kampala, I obviously saw this material. But it just wasn’t cool," he said, explaining that most Ugandans associate bark cloth with burial rituals.
Read more. [Image: Michael Scaturro]
Hundreds of thousands attended the public swearing in of President Barack Obama for his second term, and more attended the Inaugural Parade and dozens of related parties, balls, and concerts around the area. Photos [above] cover the entire event, from the long preparation, through the ceremony, to the Inaugural Balls.
See more. [Images: Getty, AP, Reuters]
No, really, this garment might fool the infrared cameras mounted on drones.
[Image: Adam Harvey]
If a bra feels like a medieval torture device* to you, you are correct about one thing: They are, in fact, medieval (whether they are also torture really depends upon the fit).
[Image: Institute for Archaeologies, University of Innsbruck]
The company claims that the mannequins are better able to watch shoppers than wall-mounted security cameras because of their eye-level perspective and the fact that many consumer will stand and linger close to the mannequins as they examine the display. Notwithstanding whether this supposed advantage is real or just hype from a company looking to sell some souped-up mannequins, it must be said that the two modes of surveillance *feel* somehow different: We may not love wall-mounted camera surveillance, but in comparison it seems quotidian, a concession we make to store-owners looking to both protect and promote their wares.
Zara stores cozy up to the most famous brands in the world to sing their luxury ambitions even as they profit off a brilliant, cheap, short supply chain that delivers similar fashion at a much lower price.
Supply chains sounds boring. But they’re the secret to Zara’s success. Rather than ship skirts and dresses from Chinese plants where they arrive in-store after the style has peaked, Inditex (the parent company) makes the bulk of its clothes in Spain and Morocco. A hemline suggestion goes from a customer’s lips to a sales rack at record speed. The company, now the largest fashion retailer on earth, has grown overall sales by about 50% in five years to $17.5 billion. Its employees have gone from 80,000 to 110,000 in that time, despite being headquartered in a depressed Spanish economy, and selling predominantly to a very sick European continent.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]