Word Play

100 Contemporary Fashion Designers
Edited by i-D mastermind Terry Jones, this two-volume behemoth is a compendium of 100 contemporary fashion designers. Unlike Taschen’s multi-tome Fashion Now, which aims to represent the forefront of garment and textile design in the years it was published, this book is intended to be a more superficial catalogue of early 21st century fashion. Jones’ alphabetically ordered selection of designers ranges from Ackermann to Zucchelli, placing venerable titans such as Lagerfeld, Lauren, Karan and Versace alongside relative newcomers or fashion outsiders like Richard Nicoll, Jean Touitou of A.P.C. or Adam Kimmel. Each designer’s profile is introduced in a brief paragraph giving an overview of their career, and by an interview consisting of the same series of sometimes trite questions, such as “what is the most important lesson you’ve learned?” But it’s the photos that redeem this sometimes clumsy book. Representing the work of visionary photographers and stylists, and ranging from heavily manipulated formal studio images to edgy editorial work and candid behind-the-scenes snapshots, each image is powerful in its own right and offers an excellent distillation of a defining moment in fashion.

Mika Ninagawa
Prolific fashion and art photographer Mika Ninagawa may well be the Japanese Andy Warhol. Her super-saturated photographs depicting flowers, fish and celebrities seem colorful, fun, and simply pretty—but upon closer inspection, a malaise grasps the viewer, imparting a feeling of feverish baroque decadence. “Generally, my photos turn out excellent when I take them in extreme heat, so hot that my head is spinning and I want to take shelter in my own shadow,” says Ninagawa in an interview included in the foreword. That sensation comes through vividly in many of the images. Rose petals floating in azure pool water reference dripping blood, cemetery blooms become incandescent against a blindingly blue sky, and even seemingly glamorous fashion shots are plasticized and fetishized, rendered through the kaleidoscope of both traditional Japanese and manga iconography. This first monograph of the artist published in the West includes a probing foreword by Daido Moriyama and contributions by Takashi Murakami, Antonio Marras and Anna Sui. With its highly sexualized images and constant oscillation between vibrancy and darkness, this book, though endlessly inspiring, is best taken in small doses.

– Karena Akhavein