through the looking glass

As I return to the art world of Paris, with so many must-see exhibitions going on, I reflect on an expo my mom and I recently saw at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. China : Through the Looking Glass was the most impressive show I had seen in a while.

IMG_3315What is it exactly? As stated by the MET, This exhibition explores the impact of Chinese aesthetics on Western fashion and how China has fueled the fashionable imagination for centuries. In this collaboration between The Costume Institute and the Department of Asian Art, high fashion is juxtaposed with Chinese costumes, paintings, porcelains, and other art, including films, to reveal enchanting reflections of Chinese imagery. Perhaps better if I explain visually what I saw through the looking glass…

IMG_3292Following are a few favorites, both the traditional costumes and their modern counterparts.

IMG_3281Semiformal Robe for Qianlong Emperor, 1736-95 + Yves Saint Laurent / Tom Ford 2004-5

IMG_3282Yves Saint Laurent / Tom Ford 2004-5 + Woman’s Semiformal Robe, 19th Century

IMG_3286Formal Robe for Guangxu Emperor 1875-1908

IMG_3289The three floors of the exhibition, including artifacts & films, transported us to another era.

IMG_3293Portobello Wallpaper / Alexander McQueen 2006-7

IMG_3299With more than 140 pieces of haute couture, including this gown by Guo Pei (2010) and avant-garde ready-to-wear alongside Chinese art, there was much to be inspired by. We left with eyes filled with visions hard to recount. Best to experience the richness of Chinese history for yourself, before it ends on August 16th.

galerie des galeries

Few people know that within Galeries Lafayette, one of Paris’ most prestigious department stores, lies an art gallery, aptly named Galerie des Galeries. I discovered this on a recent private tour of this fashion haven with Rendezvous en France. Can’t fashion be art?

IMG_8520Painter Karina Bisch has taken over the space with expo Arlequine, the walls covered in a 70 meter long canvas. Window-like openings within the canvas reveal colorful paintings.

IMG_8528IMG_8530_2IMG_8524IMG_8529_2Six characters stand within the open space, dressed in outfits created by Karina, named for select artists including Sonia, Varvara, Giacomo, Pablo, Ellsworth and Gustav.

IMG_8527The space is transformed into a theatre in which the mannequins are the spectators.

IMG_8522_2IMG_8531Thank you Galeries Lafayette, for inspiring the shopper. What’s next? Expo ends May 9th.

Andalucia inspired

Last week I finished my latest handbag collection inspired by recent travels to Andalucia, Spain. Who better to shoot these new bags with than one of my favorite Paris photographers, the uber talented Catherine O’Hara. We set the date for a clear and calm Sunday, and headed for one of my favorite settings, Île Saint-Louis. To avoid the crowds we descended the stairs and the heart of the city became ours, at least for a moment.

Catherine O-Hara Photography-Kasia Dietz Handbagskasia-bags-27 kasia-bags-31kasia-bags-37To celebrate the coming of spring, I’m giving away one of my new Andalucia handbags. {From left to right: Cordoba, Seville, Granada.} To enter, leave a comment with your favorite bag and where you would like to travel. Winner chosen at random on March 10th. You can also enter via instagram at: instagram.com/kasia_dietz

kasia-bags-56Here’s an outtake with Catherine’s adorable pooch Percy. I couldn’t resist a shot with him!

kasia-bags-78Thank you Catherine for such gorgeous photos! Had a wonderful time with you and Percy!

You can find all my handbags online at www.kasiadietz.com

art into fashion

Artist Sonia Delaunay is one of the inspirations behind my handbags. Arriving to Paris in 1905, Sonia believed “modernity could be expressed through the primacy of color in art and the dynamic interplay of its dissonances and harmonies”. Due in large part to her beliefs and the quality of her work, Delaunay is responsible for bringing art into daily life.

IMG_2309I was overjoyed to spend an afternoon with my muse at her Musée d’Art Moderne retrospective in Paris, what was once her home. ( I often visit her paintings at Pompidou’s permanent collection.) Over 400 works were on display, including paintings, wall decorations, gouaches, prints, fashion items and textiles. A designer’s paradise!

IMG_2318Bringing together the fine and applied arts, Sonia Delaunay desired to liberate color, without restricting it to surface. Her art was brought into life, and into fashion.

IMG_2325Art and life became one. “It was my life and I worked the whole time, but I wasn’t working – I was living – and that is the difference.”

IMG_2336Delaunay’s textiles varied greatly from the naturalistic designs popular in the early 1920s. Her fabrics incorporated geometric shapes, often with strong, bold colors.

IMG_2347I often look at paintings and see them as fabric. That is after all, how I came up with my wearable art designs. For me, there is no better example of this than the work of Delaunay.

IMG_2348“For me there is no gap between my painting and my so-called ‘decorative’ work. I never considered the ‘minor arts’ to be artistically frustrating; on the contrary, it was an extension of my art.”
IMG_2349            Sonia’s vision was uniquely vibrant. For her “color is the skin of the world”.

Sonia Delaunay retrospective ends February 22

 

curating inspiration

As anyone in Paris is well aware, given the amount of fashion forward (and fashion faux pas) walking the streets of Paris these days, it’s Fashion Week. Rather than attending crowded shows to catch a glimpse of new trends that are often only seen on the catwalk, I chose a more inspired path. Friday night was the opening of the Dries Van Noten exhibition at Musée des Arts Décoratifs. I was lucky enough to join Anne of Ritournelle Blog, along with the who’s who of fashion, including Dries himself! This is the Belgian fashion icon’s first solo exhibition, aptly titled Inspirations. Not merely a fashion exhibition, but a look into the mind of a designer through art, imagination and creativity.

IMG_7217The starting point of a collection can be either very literal or abstract, a painting, a certain colour, a thought, a gesture, a smell, a flower, anything really. What matters to me is the journey from that first flash of inspiration to the final destination, the individual garments, the collection.

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I was impressed and inspired by this in-depth look into the mind of an artist. Here’s what Suzy Menkes of the International New York Times had to say, along with a video tour with Dries himself. This exhibition, which took 2 years to mount, will be on display until August 31st. Well worth a visit for anyone with creative sensibilities and a love for fashion, art & travel. Worth even a trip to Paris!

supporting the small

Today is Small Business Saturday, the day following the largest shopping day in America. Even prior to starting my own handbag business I always tried to support small enterprises, those with the courage, passion and drive to start a venture of their own. One such Paris-based, chic, eco-conscious scarf company I recently learned about is Krama Heritage. Here’s a little background.

The Krama, which has been traditionally worn in Cambodia for centuries, is the Khmers’ belonging sign and a very useful scarf in their everyday life. For us, it’s the best way to develop a social project in Cambodia: all our Kramas are woven by a cooperative of weavers in fair trade conditions and, for each Krama purchased, we hand out €3 to the Non Governmental Organization Pour un Sourire d’Enfant (For a Child’s Smile).

Krama Heritage

Launched 11 months ago, these unisex scarves are making a statement around the world. I share one with my Italian, and each time he or I wear it I think of Cambodia and it’s people. Having been to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh during my travels, and meeting the locals, I know how greatly such a business can benefit it’s people. Bravo to Krama Heritage for thinking globally and acting locally!

Krama scarf

On our recent trip to Bruges, a little piece of Cambodia proudly accompanied us.

Find out more about Krama Heritage on their website and Facebook page.

And thank you for supporting small business!

indie elegance

When it comes to French fashion, Paris tends to overwhelm with endless designer boutiques lining the streets, particularly in the Marais. The question is, how NOT to look like all the mannequins peering out the windows, enticing you to fall in love with the latest trend. Not to mention the women parading around the city, an ever changing fashion show. Thus, when I discover an independent designer that suits my (classic with a twist) fashion sensibility, I become a loyal follower.

One such designer I met by chance, as she happens to be my manufacturer’s wife. On first glance of her ‘elegant yet casually chic with just a touch of masculine’ ready-to-wear collections, I was smitten.

Suppan is unique not only in it’s Indo-Austrian roots but in it’s philosophy.

Our approach is to reconsider production standards. We build our collections through a humanistic point of view, starting from the conception up to the manufacturing process and propose a selection of timeless and handmade items in a limited edition, entirely crafted in Paris. We try to distance ourselves and our creative process from cultural and social conditioning and conformity and propose a bare aesthetic, contrasting with fine materials, refined treatments and handcrafted finishing details.

Yes, it’s all about quality and details.

This weekend join us in Paris for a VENTE PRIVÉE, as we showcase our limited edition pieces, womenswear by Suppan and handbags by Kasia Dietz. Many of my new handbags will be featured!

VENDREDI 30 + SAMEDI 31 MARS : 11 H À 20 H

DIMANCHE 1 AVRIL : 10 H À 17 H

9, RUE TAYLOR 10ÈME

95 years young

Since I was a little girl I always appreciated (and often preferred) the company of elders. If given the choice whether to play with kids my own age or accompany my mom to a friend’s, I usually chose the latter. Perhaps I knew early on how much more you can learn from those older and wiser.

During my colorful New York chapter there was one particular uniquely wise and eccentric woman I often encountered, also perhaps the oldest fashionista to grace the New York nightlife. I first met Zelda Kaplan during my film debut. Aren’t we all entitled to 15 minutes of fame? Along with many other young women we starred in a film directed by Elise Bennett, Beyond the Ladies Room Door. Incidentally, the screening took place close to home at the Hamptons Film Festival. It was a bonding experience, spending time getting to know so many woman, filming for days in a bathroom… Zelda being the wise sage we all sought advice from. A role well suited her.

I write this now in tribute to Zelda Kaplan who passed away last Wednesday, very fittingly in the front row of a fashion show, 95 years young, and filled with life. An example of how aging does not mean living any less vibrantly. Zelda always made a statement in remaining an individual. After all, she designed all her own clothes, very beautiful fabrics might I add, and lived by her own rules. And her advice was always worth listening to. “One must be interested in the world, not in one’s self.” Rest in peace, Zelda.

 

travel meets fashion

I love to travel as much as I love designing. Thus, I decided to design a custom travel bag, revealing the three cities closest to my heart. A seemingly easy task, at least for the first two. Paris, since this is now my home and ever since that first visit so many years ago, love at first encounter. New York since it’s where I spent some of the most memorable (and formative) years of my life.

As for the third, that was a challenge. There are many cities I became enamored with, mostly during my journey around the world. Buenos Aires, Hanoi, Ubud (more a town than a city), Sydney, Mumbai, Kyoto, Luang Prabang, Krakow, London, Mexico City… the list goes on. But where was it that stood out in my mind unlike any other? Tokyo. Perhaps because I was there with dear friends on both my first visit and my second. Or perhaps it was due to the freshest sushi I’ve even eaten at 7am after a night of darts and karaoke… or simply, the unique energy and electricity in the air.

Whatever it was, Tokyo won a place on my bag. Along with Paris and New York.

What are your top three?

To make this equally exciting for all fashion savvy travelers out there, I’m giving away one custom hand-painted reversible travel bag to a lucky traveler and fan. With your initials printed on the inside pocket. To enter, leave a comment stating your three favorite cities and join my facebook fan page where I will announce the winner on December 15th. Bonne chance and many a bon voyage!

To order a custom bag or join a bag painting workshop and create your own: info@kasiadietz.com

fashion forward

Every Paris Fashion Week I have the glamorous good fortune of going to at least one of the fashion shows, défilés de mode as they are called in this part of the world. Always an interesting and often inspiring experience, both for the fashion as well as for the setting. Last year found me at the Galerie de Minéralogie for Amaya Arzuaga with Melissa of Prête Moi Paris. This year the lovely Melissa invited me on another fashion adventure, this one taking place in a boat on the Seine. And for none other than one of my favorite French fashion designers agnès b. The setting alone was magical!

What fashion trends were revealed upon this grand bateau? That the little black dress I often associated with agnès b. is no longer a dress, nor is it black. 

This was only the beginning of what turned out to be a show of colors… and fairytale peasantry?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After what felt like a theatrical performance, the elegance of agnès b. resumed. With a modern twist.

Following one more surprise… Who says the fashion world has no sense of humour?

Agnès herself took a humble strut to a cacophony of applause from a well entertained crowd.

Black is still black.

For more on Paris Fashion Week Spring 2012, take a look at Moon Young Hee and Agonovich!