Home - T Singapore

T Suggests: A Glimpse Inside Chanel, the Art of Instant Gratification and Nipple Brooches

By Bianca Husodo

 
Benoit Peverelli
 

The Netflix Documentary Offering a Behind-the-Scenes Glimpse Into the Chanel World

“The party is backstage,” exclaims Lady Amanda Harlech, creative consultant and muse to Chanel, over the hubbub of pre-fashion show excitement in the opening scene of Andrew Rossi’s 7 Days Out episode on the feted French fashion house. Rossi’s Netflix series offers an intimate look inside the most notable cultural events the world over. For its fashion instalment, released on 21 December, the filmmaker offers unprecedented access to the workings of Karl Lagerfeld and his team as they poise the pinnacle event of the season: Chanel’s Spring/Summer ’18 haute couture show, held in January this year.

Over the span of 45 minutes, Rossi unveils what goes into the frenetic week of preparation behind the show. Viewers are taken through the closed doors of its four couture ateliers in Paris and the making of the majestic indoor garden set in the Grand Palais. Along the way, the film reveals the influences deemed instrumental for the show’s success — introducing names of the unsung heroes of the Chanel world: Lagerfeld’s right-hand woman, seamstresses in the atelier, construction workers of the show’s mise en scène among others.

Rossi has been critically lauded for his well-rounded intuition and revering sensitivity in capturing the intricacies of fashion, having trailed the likes of Anna Wintour and André Leon Talley for The First Monday in May and The Gospel According to André respectively. And 7 Days Out, much alike his two previous fashion documentaries, deftly toes the line between fly-on-the-wall sensationalism and studious investigation on Lagerfeld and team’s knack for showbiz.

Andrew Rossi’s 7 Days Out Chanel episode streams on Netflix.

The Printing Gun’s Case for Instant Gratification

 

When Michael Cherman first saw an EBS Handjet Portable Printer, or what he now matter-of-factly dubs a “printing gun”, it was used for industrial purposes. Shipping company workers would wield it to mark plates and boxes on the spot with adjustable typefaces or logos. It’s straightforward hand-held printing done in the swiftness of seconds. Cherman, who had posed himself a question — “how can consumers walk away with something immediately?” — knew the S$8,000 printing gun held the key to what he was searching for.

“I saw the future of all this,” he says. At the word “this”, the 28-year-old streetwear wunderkind gestured towards the manifestation of instant gratification that was right before us. His upstart label Chinatown Market soared into whopping heights with pop graphics and logo bootlegs (“Pratt” in Prada’s iconic condensed font, “Born Again Christian Dior” ), but it was the witty incorporation of the printing gun which had his millennial audience sit up and pay attention. In Singapore for a gun-printing workshop at Seek, Cherman’s boys were helming a busy customisation counter, emblazoning pixels of requested designs on t-shirts, totes, sneakers or whatever it was a giddy customer brought.

Exactly a day before Cherman and I met, Kim Jones’ Dior Homme debut collection hit Japan stores to much buzzy fanfare. The artistic director himself flew to Tokyo for a customisation pop-up which utilised printing gun to personalise t-shirts. Bringing up the full-circled reality of the occurrence — Cherman on Dior’s logo and Jones on Cherman’s gun-printing application — he smilingly says, “It’s not about who had it first. That’s the beauty of it all.”

“We need to make you one,” he perked up and led me to the counter before a 20-something male fan rolled over a steel Rimowa suitcase for Cherman to customise. Within 10 minutes, Cherman had the steel case covered in an influx of logos, while its owner and spectators held their phones high, recording the process in full awe. Bootleg personalisation done in an instant; the very zeitgeist of our times.

Chinatown Market.

The Nipple Brooch Label Boldly Looking Male Gaze in the Eyes

Lula Hyers
 

“The female nipple is at the center of a censorship war,” notes artist Carina Hardy, referring to the normative ban on the female body part and the opposition against it through the widespread #freethenipple movement. “Yet the nipple is universal. Everyone has them.”

Spell the word “nipple” backwards and you get Elppin, the Bali-made jewellery label that has been Hardy’s passion project the past year. The label carries a range of accessories, from brooches to earrings, hand-hammered to the shape of nipples erected at the centre of what could be easily mistaken as eyes. The nipple brooch is, without a doubt, its conversation-starting star product. Harnessing the evil eye’s symbolism for deflective protection and designed to be magnet-clasped on a thin-layer garment while strategically placed over the nipple, the nipple brooch is intended to attract attention and then “turn the gaze back to the onlooker, putting them in a position of questioning.” 

The nipple is precariously perched on the fence between being taboo or overtly sexualised. And Elppin, Hardy says, is hung on a question that aims to challenge the status quo: Why the stigma against the nipple?

The artist, who spent her adolescence growing up in Bali, has long had a fixation with the female form and the restrictions that come with living in one. It could be traced back to the confusion she felt when encountering a temple tradition of which allowed men to undress and bathe in holy waters, while the women were not. Her interest led to her volunteering as a doula at a natural birth clinic in her teenage years, before masterminding an eco-inflatable sculpture of giant breasts that has travelled from Bali to London. It was only natural for Hardy to start Elppin.

With Elppin as her medium, the artist hopes what she self-coins as “the holistic boob” to one day be a universal understanding. Hardy explains of the term, “It’s the sensual breast, the breasts that are tender and ache during our cycles, the breast that chafes when you first start to breastfeed; the breast that you once had and removed because of cancer; the breast without a nipple; the breasts that you bind because of gender dysphoria; the breasts you construct or enhance or reduce.”

Crafted by the hands of a Balinese master jeweller in gold, silver or brass, Hardy highlights of each piece’s one-off design, “Each one is different, just like the breast.” At the moment, Ketut, the master jeweller, works by himself, but up next on Hardy’s agenda is building a small open-air bamboo workshop and training a group of young women to make Elppins.

“I want to create a space that affirms positive relationships with our bodies; where dialogues can unpack our conditioned ideas about breasts and bodies,” she says. “I dream of watching a woman like Michelle Obama take the podium with a nipple brooch on — just like a dignitary would wear a flag pin or a decorated military jacket, but instead, wearing Elppin as an acknowledgement of women’s power, making the breast a site of reverence and respect.”

Elppin.