Frocks, flowers and graffiti

Style must be one of the most over-used words in the dictionary. There are more famous quotes on the subject that I care to count. On the basis that ‘style is a way of saying who you are without having to speak’* here’s five stylish stories I like this week.

“The truly fashionable are beyond fashion”. Cecile Beaton, British photographer and designer.

Tate Reframed

A new series of one-off, live performances by three UK acts have been filmed on sets inspired by iconic artworks from Tate’s collection. Tate Reframed features Celeste, Bree Runway and Steam Down who have each selected an artwork that resonates with their own creative practice. Each video features costumes and set design created exclusively for these performances in collaboration with emerging UK-based creatives.

The first this week, Not Your Muse, features Celeste in a surreal landscape referencing Salvador Dali’s Metamorphosis of Narcissus (1937).

Award-winning singer and songwriter, Celeste, choose Dali’s work because of its ‘abundance of visual stimulis…’. The singer was also intrigued by the flower in the painting ‘Poets Narcissus’, a type of Daffodil that, for instance, ‘Sylvia Plath has written about in her work.’

Celeste on the set: designed by Jabez Bartlett; stylist Ella Lucia; dress by Sarah McCormack. Photos courtesy Tate.

“The dress I wore was designed and hand made by Sarah McCormack, I chose her as I thought the textures and layers in her garments would work very well alongside the smouldering and eternal landscapes by Dalí…” Celeste, American-British singer and songwriter. @hashtagtravelling

Bree Runway performs single Hot Hot on a set inspired by Utitled, the radical feminist photomontage of punk icon, Linder, (16 June). The final video, Empower by Steam Down, is framed by Samuel Fosso’s African Spirits (30 June). Tate Reframed by Tate Collective.

Art in the City

For more culture news and reviews in the capital city follow the new monthly culture column at London Begins At 40.

Cecil Beaton and the Theatre, Blenheim Palace

L to R from top: Blenheim Palace state rooms; Portrait of Sir Cecil Beaton, 1952 by Augustus John O.M., R.A.; Barbra Streisand; photograph on the piano at Blenheim of Audrey Hepburn from My Fair Lady by Cecil Beaton; and John Neville’s Costume for Berowne, ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’, 1954.

Beaton is known primarily for his stylish portraits of actors and film stars in the Golden Age of Hollywood in the fifties. There’s no disputing the greatness of his stylish work for My Fair Lady, starring Audrey Hepburn, for which Beaton won Oscars for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design.

The 1950s saw some his most memorable designs for the stage, including a significant body of work for great figures in the world of ballet, such as Frederick Ashton and George Balanchine.

The exhibition includes one of Beaton’s earliest set designs from the Duchess of Malfi created in 1924, and also examines the extraordinary influence of Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes following their arrival in Britain around 1920. Cecil Beaton and the Theatre will run concurrently with the Cecil Beaton,Celebrating Celebrity exhibition. (12 June until 31 August). Tickets, £29.50 Adult Palace, Park and Gardens Day Ticket. Concessons available.

London Voices…

Coming soon… following time within Pulbrook and Gould, the revered Sloane Street florist, Simon Lycett started his own company specialising in creating flowers for films and TV. In 2020 he became one of the judges on new HBOMAX TV series, Full Bloom. This week Simon shares what he loves most about London.

JR Chronicles at the Saatchi Gallery

Migrants Mayra Picnic Across the Border, Tecate Mexico, USA. Photo JR.

JR: Chronicles traces the career of French artist, JR. Born in Paris in 1983 to Eastern European and Tunisian immigrant parents, JR began his career as a graffiti artist. He began documenting friends in the act of graffitiing after finding a camera in the Paris Metro, and pasting the photographs on building facades. JR was awarded the TED Prize in 2011, which inspired Inside Out: The People’s Art Project, encouraging people worldwide to paste their own pictures in public spaces as a way of sharing stories, experiences and beliefs. In 2013, JR’s film based on Inside Out premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. The project also inspired JR’s installation covering the dome, cupola, and floor of the Pantheon in Paris in 2014. Presented in collaboration with the Brooklyn Museum JR: Chronicles is the artist’s first major UK show. Saatchi Gallery until 3 October. Tickets, Standard £9. Concessions available.

Smart (clean) Screen®

Smart Screen® Gold Edition cloth.

Before leaving the house, every time I run through my checklist. Keys and wallet, tick. Sunnies, tick. Mask, tick, Antibacterial wipes (in tacky plastic pouch)… tick. Smart Screen® have launched a luxury collection of stylish antibacterial, microfibre cloths designed to appeal to the ‘fashion-focussed’. The Blue Shield antibacterial properties within the fabric claim to kill 99.9% of bacteria on your phone, glasses and other devices. Sustainability-wise they are machine-washable at 30°C for 15 washes. I was sent one of the new ‘Gold Edition’ cloths which features gold foil detailingand tried it out on my iPhone, tablet and glasses, with good results shine-wise. The storage pouch is tiny at 7.8cm square so easy to pop into a handbag or a pocket. The Smart Screen®cloth by Sant London Limited was launched during the lockdown period by David Sant, entrepreneur and businessman, and interiors and lifestyle designer who studied design at Chelsea Art College. An elegant solution, and much less messy than the normal wipes. Smart Screen®Gold Edition, £12.95. Original cloth in a range of four colours, £9.95.

* “Style is a way of saying who you are without having to speak”. Rachel Zoe, American fashion designer.

Please note openings dates for museums and galleries may be subject to change in line with government guidance so please check the relevant web site for updates before visiting.

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