Saturday, March 24, 2012

Fringe Dweller

Diane Arbus (1923 - 1976) was one of America's preeminent photographers of the 20th Century. Her work  fascinates me as it examined people who traditionally inhabited the 'grey' zones of society. From a position of great wealth she chose chose to portray people who would have made for uncomfortable viewing for the vast majority of the population. Her attraction to physical deformity, or self-inflicted physical changes, was accompanied by a focus on difference rather than homogeneity. 

In my past career as a postgraduate student at ANU my thesis was on 'Masculinity and Marginality in Ancient Rome'. An examination of attitudes to male prostitution in the 1st and 2nd Centuries opened the door to many prejudices which we could translate to the contemporary world. It also, somewhat surprisingly, illustrated the changes in our perception of what society viewed as 'normal'. What emerged for me was that people living on the boundaries of society formed the template for what was 'decent'. I think Arbus captured this in her choice of images and subjects. Possibly our discomfort stems from the fact that we need to be jolted by difference to make ourselves feel more acceptable?

Transvestite. Diane Arbus
Wrestlers. Diane Arbus
The Dan Twins. Diane Arbus

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Breaking the Habit

Sister Bertrille (Sally Field) with her aeronautical wimple
As a child I had a strange, but not pathological, nervousness around nuns. I think it stemmed from my somewhat unholy music teacher, Sister Bernard. I guess things can only go from bad to worse when your playing scales is accompanied by the question " Why did God name you after a dog?" Needless to say my flirtation with the catholic faith was tempered by the rabid rantings of the aforesaid sister. Unlike the charitable Sally Field (a.k.a Sister Bertrille) my teacher inhabited a dark, red brick convent, which backed on to the tennis club. Her favourite pastime was to beat my brother over his knuckles with a ruler when he missed a note. My question at this point would be if all convents were like that of The Flying Nun in Puerto Rico then surely they'd be in a better mood with their vulnerable charges!

Actually, on a serious note (yes... really!) I have often admired the work of these women but my designers eye has been fascinated by their headgear. As an ancient history student we were taught that the Vestal Virgins in  Rome later  became nuns with the rise of Christianity. I think it's the organic form of their wimples which transforms them into something quite beautiful. En masse they could be a bunch of orchids or alternatively an architectural framework. Good works aside, it's easy to see why they make such good subject material for photography!

David Moore's seminal image of the Sister's of Charity in Washington DC, 1956.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bison Paddington End of Lease Sale


Just a quick post today as we have started our End of Lease Sale in our Bison Sydney Store. I can't believe nearly 3 years have gone by but that's the power of being busy I guess. I'm sad we'll be leaving this space but am really excited about the new direction we are taking. Change is cathartic on a number of levels, none more so than when you are creating a collection. From July onwards you'll start noticing changes in our stores and online. I'm busy working on some new forms and accessories which will both refresh the current range and introduce a new audience to our work.

Thanks to all of you who have dropped by the Sydney store over the past few years and rest assured we'll be back... In the interim we'll have our online store (Being launched mid-April) and our Canberra and Melbourne stores. We'll also have a good selection of stockists throughout Australia and several internationally as well. Just watch this space!

If you are in Sydney and would like to drop by the store our sale starts today and finishes on Saturday March 31st. We'll have a great selection of firsts, seconds and samples with generous reductions across the collection. Simply mention the blog/Facebook or copy this voucher to obtain an extra 5% off the already marked-down prices on Bison firsts.*

*Offer excludes plates. One voucher per purchase and only valid at the Bison Paddington store. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Artist

Some days just work like a charm. By that I mean all the goals and plans you have work to perfection and it just flows. Friday in Melbourne was such a day. I spent several hours with the talented Melinda Ashton-Turner replacing our previous window display with a new theme. As colour has always been my weakness (as opposed to alcohol and fast women!) I really enjoyed pulling the elements for this concept together. One of the refreshing aspects to my role is having the time to think through a 'story' for the stores.

Photo: Brian Tunks
One of the highlights was watching the staff in Eckersley's Art Supplies in Canberra as I was clearing them out of brushes and mini still-life figures. I have to give Melinda a lot of credit also for getting our quote by Picasso in a straight line. You should try doing this on an old building with irregular corners. Please drop by and have a look. We'll be doing the same theme in our Canberra store next week.

Photo: Brian Tunks.

Bison would like to thanks Dulux Paints for kindly colour matching their finished paints to our glazes for the windows in both Melbourne and Canberra. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thar She Blows!

Balenciaga Hats. 2012. Photo: Emma Summerton. Vogue Australia
During the average day we are bombarded by countless images of products which are touted as the 'next big thing', or my personal stomach-churner, 'on trend!' As a designer I often find it incredibly amusing as taste is such a personal thing. How the themes of fashion seasons are selected is up there with the Oracle of Delphi. If I could determine how these seemingly communal patterns or appliqué mysteriously arrive en masse, I'd have a consultancy to rival that of Cherry Ripe in New York.
Model wearing Balenciaga Hat S/S 2012
Don't get me wrong... I personally love the hats in the above shot. They'd be equally at home fighting a sou'wester on a trawler off Maine as trolling the Place Vendome on your way to Boucheron. That sums up one of the beautiful aspects of design and interpretation, that of applying one's own meaning to the form and function of objects. Whereas beauty is purportedly viewed through the eye of the beholder one would hope their vision is not myopic.

Vogue Editor (Japan) Anna Della Russo at Paris fashion Week 2012
This post would not be complete without a couple of images which illustrate how an image from Vogue filters through the layers of the cognoscenti and trickles down to the mere mortals (henceforth known as 'consumers') who are convinced of the transformative power of fashion. At least these hats would have been practical at least during the past rain-sodden week!
Jennifer Connolly for Balenciaga S/S 2008
Illustrates how even designers recycle!

Monday, March 5, 2012

All Aboard!

I don't know if you travel for work or leisure but there are several things which make it pleasurable. The first would be a surprise upgrade to first class from Sydney to London... the second is some seriously sexy luggage. Taking ceramics as samples generally requires a good deal of ingenuity and a Samsonite shell case. When I don't have to lug 25 kilos of stoneware for meetings I like to imagine I have a matching set of steamline luggage. This latest discovery of mine can be yours for a relatively modest sum and purchased from their online store: .

Yes, I know the corners will get knocked and scuffed on conveyor belts. Who cares... this feels like you are en route to the Orient Express as opposed to the City Flyer between Albury and Canberra!  I know they ship from the EU, UK and the States, so let your mind wander to distant climes and visualise the Lear jet with matching crew waiting to take you away. I know just the person to help you. Patti Stanger, author, fashionista,  and Bravo host for The Millionaire Matchmaker. I do think a more natural pose would work better for her when meeting clients. Possibly the luggage would distract your eyes long enough for that not to matter.