“Fashion doesn’t have to be superficial” Interview with Julia Napoleon Ka

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“I think it did have a reputation of a rough place, but I feel like creativity has always lived in Glasgow.” These are the words Flint, one of the Glasgow School of Art students used to describe his school in the 2017 iD Magazine documentary. Known all over the world for incredibly high standards, attention to detail and eco-friendly approach, Glasgow School of Art is definitely a place filled with ideas, inspiration, and creativity. I think most people would definitely agree with Flint’s statement. In Glasgow, you can walk into a bar on Sauchiehall Street and see the upcoming band playing a gig, hear buskers around every corner, or pop into the CCA to see an independent film with your friends, rather than yet another LEGO movie in a mainstream cinema chain. Despite the big appreciation for music and cinema in Glasgow, its captivating fashion scene remains a bit of a niche. I caught up with Julia Knie, the second-year fashion student at the GSA to ask her more about that. After being introduced to her fellow students and the studio in which she spends long hours working on different projects, I was impressed by the hectic atmosphere and the amount of effort they put into their course. Click below to listen to the interview.

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Lana Del Rey appreciation post

If we met at least once then you know how much I love Lana Del Rey. She’s my number one artist and I can’t imagine my relationship with music without her. Ironically, New-York-born queen of disaster and hopeless romanticism was first introduced to me at the age of fifteen by a middle school friend, a boy so straight, drowning in his own masculinity so much he could easily play the character in one of her songs. That was, in fact, Video Games. Few days later, another straight friend posted the DIY video for Blue Jeans on my Facebook wall. (Straight guys had Lana before gays appropriated her [laugh])

Even since then I’ve been a massive fan. Everything about her just spoke to me straight away. The world made of horrible cheese(sorry Lana), hidden behind a facade of romantic symbolism was something I have always wanted to incorporate into my own life. Strings, roses, mascara, tattoos, guns, tears and white gowns – all the dramatic glamour of a real attention seeking, barely functioning bitch.

At Born to die stage we were all confused. Pop instrumentals blended with orchestral elements and monumental bridges were enough to make the album successful, despite bad reviews from critics. Some of Lana’s most basic work sonically(despite the monumental orchestral theme) includes some of her most iconic lyricism: “I will love you til the end of time”, “money is the anthem of success, so put on mascara and your party dress”,”let me put on a show for you daddy”,”heaven is a place on Earth with you”, “kiss me hard before you go” – just to name a few. Those became industry standards very quickly, inspiring other(younger) barely functioning bitches who later on released their own stuff, in one record label or another. With those simple, captivating lyrics Lana created her own genre, a brand new trend in pop music space. We’re all born to die and we’ve made fuckloads of bad decisions in life. That’s the tea. She then followed the success of the bittersweet whore-candybar with the EP Paradise, one of my personal favourites. I’m proud to say I’ve got that word tattooed on my chest. As Lana would say: I’m fucking crazy, but I’m free. Cliché much, huh.

Her second album Ultraviolence is the fan favourite. She kicked off her darkest, most sadcore work to date with words: I shared my body and my mind with you, that’s all over now. The black and white cover perfectly matched the contents of the record. On Ultraviolence, Lana abandons her hip-hop fuck me after school vibes and decides to switch into heavy, rock instrumentals, electric guitars and nostalgic melodies. Ultraviolence reminds me of leaving your boyfriend at night in bed, sneaking out in your pants, smoking fags on the bench outside the train station together with Courtney Love, shitfaced. Oh, and she also played Glastonbury that year, blessing massive audiences with her sadcore. Who cares if it was kind of a fail.

The motif of summer has always been extremely important in Lana’s work. In Lana’s universe, life is either summer or waiting for summer to start. That’s when we fall in love, make friends, push the boundaries. That’s when the world comes alive. We can hear the nature outside more, we can see more, the days last longer – there’s more to be missed, more mistakes to be made. There’s “summer love”, a term that wouldn’t apply to any other season. “He’s my winter love”, said no one, ever.

It seems like Lana’s third studio album Honeymoon is the perfect example of that. The strings make their come back on this one, but in a slightly different way. This time we can hear them together with slower melodies and bare pianos. On Honeymoon, most tracks sound like taken straight out of Italian mafia films. If Honeymoon was a place, it would be a Mediterranean country, where the temperature is always thirty five degrees and people eat only grapes, plums and oranges. And smoke cigarettes. Adele herself described Salvatore, one of the tracks, as heavenly, saying she feels like she’s flying when she listens to it. If that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what the fuck would.

On her last record Lust for life, Lana started making some significant changes in her approach to creating and performing. Critically acclaimed(at last) album included Lana’s first ever officially released collaborations. Her friends from the hip-hop side of Lanaverse, The Weeknd and A$AP Rocky both appeared on the album. She also recorded tracks with Stevie Nicks and Sean Ono Lennon. She invited back up dancers to perform with her on stage. Not in a traditional, Britney Spears way, no. Sometimes they pretend they’re backup singers, sometimes they just jump around or act sexy. And let’s not forget the cover, which included Lana smiling(!).

Lana had been teasing Norman Fucking Rockwell for over a year before she released it. Now that’s it’s finally here, people can see how long and eventful Del Rey’s journey has been.

It always feels amazing to see your favourite artist doing well. Currently, the same music publications that used to make fun of her in the past praise her music giving it the highest of ratings. In 2012, music website Pitchfork called Born to Die a “fake orgasm”, giving it a 5/10. The same website gave NFR! a 9/10 rating, stating Lana is one of the most talented songwriters of our generation.

Lana’s new album features a summery, surfing vibe, which isn’t anything particularly surprising. But let’s make it clear, you need to have massive balls to start off your album by singing: “God damn, man child… you fucked me so good that I almost said I love you…”

Madonna “Madame X” – Review

Madame X is a dog’s dinner, but delicious! Annoyingly, Madonna somehow managed to become a joke, at least within my circle of friends. That is not because of her age as many would assume, but her rather desperate efforts to follow the trends and appear “on top of the music world”.

The last few albums from Madge could be described as good pop, but nothing groundbreaking. As mentioned before, Madonna started following the trends (often poorly) instead of setting them. That is not the case with Madame X, her best album in over a decade. To be honest, I felt Madonna would start making deeper material as soon as I heard she relocated to Portugal. She’s a very influence-sensitive artist, with the effective ability to absorb the unknown into the zeitgeist. The album includes elements of Latino, African instruments, acoustic sounds, bits of disco, singing in Portuguese and intentional overuse of vocoder (often annoying).

Medellin is a great lead single and album opener. I’m a fan of the composition, the combination of dreamy verses with catchy Latino Pop hooks.

Bohemian Rhapsody-structured Dark Ballet is a real mess. What starts as a piano ballad later turns into a Daft Punky, vocodery, psychedelic bedtime story. Lyrically starts strong, ends a bit cringeworthy (“Can’t you see outside of your Supreme hoodie?”)

God Control isn’t much different in terms of the structure. Gun control-related lyrics sang monotonously with a choir of monks in the background later transform into a strange Daft Punk extravaganza.

Then we have Future, in my personal opinion the worst track on the album, but it might be the matter of me highly disliking both Quavo and reggae music.

Batuka offers crazy percussion and ends beautifully with a violin outro.

Killers who are partying is yet another story. From my observation, fans love this kind of Madonna – an indie-acoustic pretentious witch. Most critics do hate it though. I will be gay if the gay are burnt, I will be Africa if Africa is shot down – Madge lists everyone she feels sorry for with very interesting instrumentation. A bit of an eyebrow-raising moment but I don’t care, it’s Madonna, after all. She lost the plot ages ago.

Crave could have been great without Swae Lee and his moany vocal efforts. The song itself is an interesting combination of acoustic guitar and a trippy beat, so it’s nothing more but a wasted chance.

Crazy isn’t very interesting either but it’s a good introduction to Come Alive. Acoustic percussion, some sick, melted strings in the background and subtle vocals make a good combination yet again.

If you’ve been blessed with a deluxe edition, you can listen to Extreme Occident which includes a lovely melody with vulnerable vocals and oriental instruments. It’s one of my personal favourites.

Faz Gostoso is a true bop with one of the catchiest hooks on the album. Rapper Anitta is featured on this godly bop and together with Madonna, they created one of the best up-tempo songs in Madonna’s discography.

Bitch, I’m Loca is a second collaboration with Maluma. Must be a nice listen for fans of this type of music, however, its location on the tracklist confuses me as the song doesn’t hold as strong artistic value as the ones behind and after it.

I don’t search I find could easily be played in Studio 54. With an addictive beat, disco era-inspired dance track reminds me a bit of I Feel Love by Donna Summer and something you could hear in London’s Vauxhall at 6 am, high on ****, drinking Stella in the smoking area. And this kind of Madonna I want to listen to.

A few words about Eurovision 2019

We all know what Eurovision is like – sparkly, camp, colourful, over the top competition in which (mostly) European countries compete with each other to win a trophy that gives the winner nothing but fame (by which I understand being remembered in competition’s history).

The extravagant contest is responsible for introducing some really good recording artists to the general public (us!), whether it’s the A class ABBA in the 1970s or artists-phenomenons such as Conchita Wurst, Salvador Sobral or Netta.

I’m not here to tell the history of the contest or any funny anecdotes(15 things you didn’t know about Eurovision Song Contest!) but to mention few things that caught my attention while watching this year’s circuses (with bread).

Netta from Israel won the contest last year. Her success, surrounded by an aura of controversy, resulted in dozens of news publications around the world. She was accused of cultural appropriation, banal composition and lyrics and (that’s actually ridiculous in this day and age) criticised for her weight. The artist herself stated her song “Toy” was inspired by the #MeToo movement. I personally enjoyed it to the fullest and felt incredibly happy when she won. Toy is definitely one of the best songs in Eurovision history, in my opinion.

Israel’s conflict with Palestine is one of the reasons why a lot of (important) people decided to boycott this year’s Eurovision.

Hatari, who represented Iceland this year, held a Palestinian flag in front of the cameras. They got booed by the people in the arena.

Surprise, surprise! It didn’t stop Israel from creating an amazing show, filled with self-promotion, guest performances and… scandals, of course!

This year’s contestants couldn’t get close to last year’s artists in terms of performance and compositions, but the competition was still very interesting and some songs are, without a doubt, worth listening to on streaming platforms.

Young gentleman Mahmood was definitely my favourite performance of the night. Introduced by Graham Norton as an internet sensation, with over 83 million views of his video, the young artist didn’t disappoint. He delivered a magnetic performance of a great, modern, smartly produced song called “Soldi”. He brought sexy back just like Justin Timberlake did in 2006. Australian entry sounded like Kate Bush impersonation and looked like college student’s experiments with green screen, but still managed to sound weirdly interesting.

UK’s Michael Rice came last, which is harsh, but I think anyone who wins a singing competition (Rice won a show called All Together Now) and spends the money on opening a waffle and crepe place in their home town deserves the worst in the music industry after that. And, of course, there is Brexit.

The Spanish Guy was really cute and staging was amazing. He came last, together with Michael Rice, but definitely deserved better.

And of course – there’s Iceland. Holding a Palestinian flag wasn’t the only thing they did that caused controversy that night. There was also their Rammstein inspired, BDSM performance. Thank God no one ended up being penetrated by a dildo. On a serious note, I do think it takes massive balls to do what they did…. (Palestinian flag in Israel, not the performance).

Oh, and there was Madonna. Pop music’s legendary superstar appeared as a special guest to promote her new album Madame X. Wearing her signature (for this era) eyepatch and accompanied by Quavo she performed, in my opinion, the worst single in her career so far, with ridiculous staging and disappointing vocals during “Like a prayer”.

Perhaps, we should just stick to Duncan Laurence from the Netherlands who won this year. I’ve listened to his song at least five times while writing this and I still don’t remember any of it. It sounds a bit like Heal by Tom Odell.

For now – good morning Europe and good night Australia!

Lizzo: “Cuz I love you”

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This Detroit-born flute-handling singer-songwriter and her major-label debut “Cuz I love you” cuzed a little stir in the music industry due to the loud, body-positive image and often genreless (technically confusing?) tunes. Her newest album is full of musical influences, energetic beats and obviously confident phrases – sung, rapped, yelled…

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The record opens with a title track. Cuz I love you, according to Lizzo herself is a big, brassy, orchestral moment. Indeed, it does sound like some show-opening, Beyoncé-inspired, monumental high school drama audition. Soulful, powerful vocals appear now and again, in between of rappy verses. As the record ends with its powerful and dramatic title verse, another song starts. Like a girl is a pleasant, entertaining and sweetly naive anthem, with lyrics referencing Serena Williams and personal independence. That could have been one of the modern feminist anthems. Well, I think Kesha did it better a couple years ago on her “Rainbow” album.

Juice, the lead single off the album, which to me sounds Motown inspired(in a very lovely way!) is the quintessence of Lizzo’s style(both musically and lyrically) and the best song on the record. “Mirror, mirror on the wall, don’t say it cuz I know I’m cute!” – even the first few seconds of this bop prove the banger-ability this girl has and the reason why she got signed to Atlantic Records. Such a shame that the next track, Soulmate, is a totally predictable, tired to death bore full of industry tricks. Jerome shows the amazing vocal ability of the singer, and despite sounding a bit like Rihanna’s Love on the brain and using the “open letter to the guy who hurt me” formula is still one of my favourites. Cry Baby and Tempo are also worth listening to. The first one has a great instrumental and first-class, heartfelt, vocal performance. The second one, with an instrumentally confusing intro, is a duet with Missy Elliot and proper ping pong, mind fuck piece. Exactly how I feel is a squeaky collab with Gucci Mane, Better in color shows off her true ones, with production again being a mix of vocal-showing retro and “these today’s rappers” style. After brilliantly written Heaven Help Me, the album ends with a stripped-down Lingerie.

Lizzo is definitely a desperately needed figure in today’s music, and a great inspiration for artists who don’t want to be locked inside a one genre drawer, despite the suggestions of their record label. Hopefully, for Lizzo it’s the beginning of something big. Is the album worth listening to? Yes. Is it going to be iconic one day? No.

The Glasgow School of Art fashion show

The Glasgow School of Art is without a doubt one of the most renowned and respected university-level institutions for future creatives in the country. It seems to be impossible to even read an article or watch a video about the city that wouldn’t include some information about the school. The students usually describe the place as a free, creative space, that despite being hard to get into, motivates the students to express their ideas and provides them with all the required skills. In the 2017 documentary created by i-D Magazine, one of the Fashion and Textile students said:“I think it did have a reputation of, maybe perhaps, a rough area, but I feel like creativity has always lived in Glasgow”.

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Recently I was provided with a chance to attend their annual fashion show. As a person deeply interested in fashion, not only from the perspective of business and media but also from its often forgotten niche and artistic side, I felt excited to finally see the real outcome of students’ work. I arrived at the venue quite early, had a quick look at the posters and leaflets laying everywhere around me, then had a nice quick chat with two students in the gender-neutral toilets.“My friend worked so hard for this”, one of them told me.

The show, which seemed like it was almost sold-out, started with a quick presentation of the second year students and the theme of White Shirt/Black Silhouette. In total, twelve students presented their work which for me concentrated on deconstruction and playing with shapes. It’s a very popular approach to fashion design in art schools. After a short presentation of second-year students, over thirty designers of third-year Fashion and Textiles presented three outfits each. The work of each of them was categorized as either Embroidery, Fashion, Print, Knit or Weave. It wasn’t hard to notice the source of inspiration in some of the work presented that day. Print students impressed me the most, with some of the designs including a true WOW-factor. Colorful and vibrant outfits, simple in their form, like a set of total-printed shorts and a shirt put together with a pair of plain white trainers reminded me of designers like Jeremy Scott from the brand Moschino or current things we can see at Prada.

After the show, I caught up with one of the students – Kelly Sloan, whose work concentrated on Embroidery at its very best. After Kelly told me she came to Glasgow School of Art straight from college, I finally realised the phenomenon of the famous school. A goal-focused, hard-working environment of people who are being taught how to embrace their creative visions by staying true to themselves.“For me, I definitely think it’s colour and texture that inspires me the most” Kelly told me after the show.“Whether it being on a building or within a random object, I always seem to be drawn to these elements. These elements also help me develop my further as I begin to look closely and focus on these different qualities”.

As I have mentioned before, different influences and designers of inspiration could be noticed within Kelly’s work. It’s important to know your path and direction at the beginning of any creative career. I asked Kelly to tell me a bit about artists and designers that inspired her designs.“I am inspired by different designers for each project I’m presented with. But if we’re talking fashion show, then avant-garde was a huge inspiration as my goal was to showcase large and intense fashion pieces. Viktor & Rolf were also a prominent inspiration for my fashion show garments as I’m a huge fan of the scale and silhouette of their collections.”

In the i-D Magazine documentary about Glasgow which I mentioned above, we can hear about the hard-working environment and the amount of effort students of the school need to put in to finish all the required tasks. I decided to ask Kelly about this as well.“[The Glasgow School of Art is] Extremely hard working!” she told me without hesitation.“As I went straight into the third year at GSA with a direct entry from college, I wasn’t aware of the workload at The School of Art and the thing that’s struck me the most was the work ethic. Most days you’re in from 10 AM until 10 PM and that’s just the complete norm for everyone to be working those hours in order to get stuff done.”

There is no doubt that for many people, fashion is still seen as wearing crazy outfits on a catwalk and selling underdesigned garments for way too much money. I finished my conversation with Kelly by asking her: What would you like the readers to know about creating a collection and putting on a fashion show? Just so they can understand your position better…”.After a short while, Kelly replied: “Fashion industry is so huge that I think it can be difficult for designers to get their name out there and be known [by a larger audience]. I think my biggest goal is for my work to be noticed and recognized for its style, really just to be successful with selling my creations to a large crowd and be able to make a living from something I love to do so much.”

Follow Kelly Sloan on Instagram – @sloankel and her portfolio account @ksloantextiles

What’s going to happen to Karl Lagerfeld’s cat?

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Source: Getty Images/ P. Kovarik

The passing of Karl Lagerfeld has left everyone interested in high fashion shocked. “What’s gonna happen to Chanel and Fendi?” – people are asking on social media. There is no doubt that Lagerfeld changed the world of fashion, introducing some of the most controversial ideas at the same time staying loyal to Gabrielle Chanel’s legacy. Millions of people are still sharing their tributes on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, even though there’s plenty of people for whom paying tributes to Lagerfeld is an example of bad taste.

Not many people know that Karl Lagerfeldt, born in Hamburg, Germany in 1933, had dropped the “t” from his last name to make it sound more commercial. He taught himself English and French(which must have been hard in the era with no iPhones and internet), left home as a teenager and shortly after started working for Balmain and Chloe. Two brands that the legendary designer has always been most associated with are fashion giants Fendi and Chanel. In the high fashion world, we can often see big brands dropping their creative directors and replacing them(Alexander Wang only lasted, like, 2 years at Balenciaga and Raf Simons despite good reception about the same in Calvin Klein, just to give an example).*  That’s why I think it’s impressive that Karl had stayed at Fendi for almost 55 years. His career at Chanel lasted almost 37 years.

I woke up in the morning and got a notification from the BBC News app. I went on Instagram and saw the black and white portrait of Karl posted by Vogue. Shortly after my friends started posting as well. It seemed like everyone was heartbroken. That’s the cheap, superficial aura of respect that dominates social media after the passing of any famous person. I have to admit, it made me feel a bit sad too. I care about the fashion industry and I’m aware of the level of sympathy a lot of stars shared for him, despite the controversy and criticism surrounding his persona(accusations of racism, Islamophobia, misogyny, popularising eating disorders and much more).

Usually, after someone’s passing our thoughts are with their loved ones. Karl Lagerfeld who died at the age of 85 wasn’t married or even in a publicly confirmed relationship with another… human person.

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Choupette – Lagerfeld’s biggest love – was a gift from Baptiste Giabiconi, Lagerfeld’s favourite model(Karl made him the male face of all three brands he designed for – Chanel, Fendi and Karl Lagerfeld). Believe it or not, the charismatic kitten quickly became a celebrity – starting with a photoshoot for V Magazine, followed by the one for Brazilian Vogue. She has her own Twitter and Instagram accounts (over 262 000 followers on Instagram), modeled for car and make-up companies and according to Lagerfeld – earned over 3 million euros. 

Sources describe Choupette as a “spoiled, cheeky but loving madam”. She likes using her iPad, eating at the table with Karl(sadly, not anymore), Collette handbags and her maid Francoise.

Choupette was one of the first to officially post on Instagram after Karl Lagerfeld’s death.

“Thank you everyone for your words of condolence. 😿 With a once cold but now simply broken heart, I am going into mourning. I pray that your kind words and well-wishes will help me to put my best paw forward in my future without Daddy @KarlLagerfeld & as my own woman.” said the famous cat.

After his death, Lagerfeld left Choupette, the cat he wanted to marry, the £150 billion fortune. It’s not yet clear how is it going to work…

Love is love (?)

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*of course not all directors are fired, but let’s make it clear, most of them leave huge fashion houses and end up doing their own mediocre lines that don’t sell well. I don’t believe every single one of them is a fasting artist who just wanted to do their own niche thing!