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AN AFTERNOON IN ANTWERP WITH DRIES VAN NOTEN


            A trip to Antwerp wasn’t originally on the roster for my time in Belgium, but when I found out that it was only a short journey from our hotel in Brussels I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to see Dries Van Noten: Inspirations.

The exhibit, which first ran at Paris’ Musee des Arts Decoratifs, is currently on display at Antwerp’s MoMu in Van Noten’s hometown. In past seasons the illusive designer has been known to give single word-explanations to sum up the inspirations behind his collections (such as ‘orientalism’ or ‘gold’). This exhibition represents the first time he is allowing the public behind the proverbial curtain. Rather than follow the typically curated layout of a designer retrospective, the museum chose to displays his work as an exploration into Van Noten’s creative process.

The show highlights a number of collection pieces from the past 30 years juxtaposed with the artistic mediums that inspired the designer. Inspirations run the gamut from cinematic to ethnic to the more traditionally artistic. The wide reaching spectrum of his ideas is astonishingly vast- where else could you find works from Ryan McGinley, Mark Rothko and Pablo Picasso in the same exhibit? The massive show space makes for a fascinating study of how the designer works.

A quick recap of Dries himself: The designer grew up in Belgium and was a member of the Antwerp Six, a group of acclaimed designers who graduated from Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts between ’80-’81 and went on to become hugely influential in the fashion industry. Achieving both critical and commercial acclaim for the eponymous line he founded in ’85, Van Noten continues to produce collections that stand alone in what is often described as an over-saturated industry.



Of course I couldn’t miss spending the rest of the day exploring that little gem of a town. Dries Van Noten’s flagship is just across the street from The MoMu and definitely worth a visit (note that it only houses the womens collection). It’s one thing to study a designer from behind a glass wall, but another thing completely to get to feel the clothes in person.

Later in the day we had lunch at a lovely little organic cafĂ© called Lunchbox behind the Theaterplein followed by a slightly less healthy fro-yo at Moochie, which ended up being the best frozen yogurt I’ve had in Europe. And last but not least you cannot come to Antwerp without paying a visit to the city’s crown jewel: Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal (The Cathedral of Our Lady).

 (perched on my throne at Dries)



#TBT Editorialized: Paris Pursuit, Harper's Bazaar 1959



            Audrey Hepburn may never have lived in Paris but she is practically synonymous with the Parisian attitude. She encapsulated that joie de vivre and mastered the regal air of sophistication with which French women are known to carry themselves.

 All of this considered I was surprised to come across a breathtaking editorial that I had not seen before featuring Audrey (shot by Richard Avedon) taking her haute couture for a stroll through the streets of Paris. I discovered the images, featuring Ms. Hepburn and her husband Mel Ferrer, while rummaging through the Bazaarchives recently. Alas, since the story was originally published in the September 1959 issue even Bazaar’s copy was fragmented. However, fifty (+) years later it’s certainly still worth taking at a look at. I can practically picture Audrey stepping into her role as the reluctant model Jo in Funny Face (1957) or the scheming daughter of a wealthy art forger in How to Steal a Million (1963).

While Harper’s Bazaar may not occupy the same standing as it once did, the magazine tries their best to reclaim that former status. For September 2014 they attempted to recreate this story using descendants of both Hepburn and Avedon. The cover story seemed a bit random when it first arrived at my door, but when compared to this editorial it becomes a wonderful study in the contrast of fashions over the years.



September 2014: Emma Ferrer shot by Michael Avedon



#TBT THE MAKING OF MIRRORS WITH JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE




#TBT – This is an article that I wrote about two years ago, but never shared. After hearing Justin Timberlake’s ‘Mirrors’ on the radio for the first time in what feels like years, I started to reminisce about the good time I had on set while making this video.

Last weekend Justin Timberlake thanked me in his acceptance speech at the MTV VMAs. Ok… so that’s stretching the truth a lot bit. JT didn’t exactly get on stage and sing my praises to the world- but I’ll take it, because back in March I had the opportunity to be a part of making the ‘Mirrors’ music video with him.

Originally I was going to pass on the job in favor of spending more time visiting a friend at “real college” at Colgate in upstate New York. But the reaction I got from a bunch of intoxicated frat boys at the thought of my helping Justin put on him “Suit & Tie” made me realized that if I didn’t take it, I might one day regret it.


The majority of it was shot inside a beautifully ornate townhouse a block and a half from where I grew up on the Upper East Side. Arriving to set at 6:45am (ouch) we were met not only by the biting cold of winter in NYC, but the sight of what I (as a dorming student surviving off of shitty meal plan eggs), thought was one of the most beautiful views in the world: an all you can eat/anything you want breakfast truck. Thank you JT.

I should point out the fact that this was my first music video and I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. It turned out that for the most part my job was the same as it normally is when assisting on set at any run of the mill photoshoot. Only, much faster. If any of you have seen the video (watch it here) you will notice that there are tons of dancers/extras in the video. Now think about each one of these dancers having to be styled, fitted, and then actually dressed multiple times by a team of only four people.

Not only does this give each member of the team a great deal of responsibility, but it can also create a very stressful situation at times. Everything has got to be done fast and more importantly, it’s got to be done right.


The concept of this video was how two people who have spent their entire lives together – encompassing both the ups and the downs –become ‘a mirror’ of the other. Then exploring the emotions that incur when half passes away. The older woman (representing Justin’s grandmother, Sadie Bomar) has lost her husband (the older man representing his grandfather, Willaim, who sadly passed away not long before the video was made) and is being flooded with memories of their life together as she prepares to move on.

            The three categories of looks we pulled for were the ‘20s, the circus, and the ‘70s. The video’s main stylist, the beautiful and talented Laura Morgan, worked closely with the video’s director, Floria Sigismondi (who, by the way possesses a kick ass style of her own). Obviously there had been a lot of previous discussion about what they were going for, but there was also a lot of on-the-spot decisions being made. I’m sure it can be challenging at times, but that spontaneous creativity is something I find to be incredibly exciting. I am someone who loves research and planning, but sometimes an idea can just come to you in the moment and end up being better than something that was agonized over for hours.



At some point, all of my memories of those days got a bit jumbled up in a caffeine-induced haze of polyester, clown shoes, and Swarovski. It’s fun to re-watch the video and have certain moments come back to me. Like spending the better part of an Sunday morning calling everyone I knew who might have an extra dance-belt Justin could use because none of the supply stores were open at that hour. Or, one of the more forward extras making me feel incredibly uncomfortable by attempting to hit on me while I dressed him.

            Being thrown into it, the process of working on the video was like a compilation of many individual shots. A range of quasi-interconnected sequences set the repetitive track of a new Justin Timberlake single. It was undeniably fun, but it was still work. Moving on and getting caught up in other jobs and finals at school I nearly forgot about it until one Saturday morning I came across the final product by accident while watching the Top 20 Countdown (a part of my Saturday ritual since high school). At 8:21 long, the video had the feel of a short film rather than a music video. It’s romantic, but it’s real. It’s a nice testament to a time back when people actually stayed married.


LONDON'S MAGIC HOUR



One of my favorite ways to explore a new city is to get up really early, grab a cup of coffee and my iPod and watch it wake up for the day. Even during tourist season I’ve found that most streets are practically empty of the fanny-pack wielding types around 7/8 in the morning – particularly on a weekend.

            Though I arrived in London a while ago, it was hard to stomach the idea of waking up earlier than necessary in the middle of winter. But now that the sun has finally decided to hang out with us again, I’ve been making a conscious effort to get up at least one hour earlier than planned for a chance to experience London’s magic hour (ops, sorry I’m so cheesy…).


            While I am all about the natural soundtrack of the city, I do love to listen to music while I stroll. Whether this is for a pure love of the music or my inability to function in normal society before I’ve had at least one or two cups of coffee, I don’t know. Either way this is one of my favorite playlists to listen to and a few taken on a recent early morning.



Pay No Mind – Madeon & Passion Pit

West End Girls – Pet Shop Boys

Step by Step – Whitney Houston

Finale – Madeon

Lifesaver – Cherub



Rollercoaster – Bleachers

Queenie Eye – Paul McCartney

I’ll Be Back – Kindness


Can’t Rely On You – Paloma Faith

It Was London - The Kooks


Silhouettes – Colony House

Luv, Hold Me Down - Drowners




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Caroline Mason: 21. Native New Yorker (and one time North Carolinian). Assistant to Derek Blasberg. Just a girl who is OCD about all things fashion, drinks way too much coffee, and has an affinity for late night talk shows and travel books. FIT class of 2016. Previously with Karla Otto PR, Lori Goldstein and Lester Garcia.

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