This Season’s Coolest Collab: a Rem Koolhaas Museum Exhibit

This Season’s Coolest Collab: a Rem Koolhaas Museum Exhibit

There’s a special class of New York women of a certain age that dress almost exclusively in gift shop bibelots, from their kinetic, Alexander Calder-inspired necklaces to their Old Master-print umbrellas. With its dégradé scarves and a map-print blanket, a capsule collection from Sies Marjan—created around Countryside, the future, a new exhibition at the Guggenheim in New York staged by OMA principal Rem Koolhaas, with the firm’s research arm AMO—might make a few young menswear fanatics into Gift Shop Grand Dames.

“It’s a really nice way of introducing what we do to a completely different group of people,” said Sies Marjan designer Sander Lak, who has a springy, wedge-like mop of hair that might be at home on the head of a classical composer, in an interview at his Garment District atelier last week. “Because the people that walk into a gift shop are not necessarily the ones who walk into a store.” The brand, which the Dries Van Noten alum launched in 2016, is also a sponsor of the exhibition.

“I was looking at products that I would never really look at for Sies Marjan,” says Lak of the pieces, which go on sale today on the brand’s website and SSENSE.com, as well as in the Guggenheim gift shop. “It’s like, sweatshirts, T-shirts, scarves, socks. Most gift shops don’t even have a fitting room, so it needs to be very accessible, which is pretty interesting, because that’s not necessarily the product that we’ve normally worked with.” There are silks scarves ($225), made in Italy and printed with motifs from the exhibition’s floor motif and its map imagery. “What is nice is that most of the time, these maps are meant to illustrate a negative point”—the red and blue of global warming, for example—but this version is “happy and colorful,” with Lak’s signature pink, somehow hot and natural at once, and green and blue. That pattern also appears on a blanket and socks (the ultimate “thanks for letting me sleep on your couch!” gifts) plus a hoodie and T-shirt.

Sies Marjan

The collection is the latest entry in what has become a very good year for Sies Marjan: in 2020, the New York-based men’s and womenswear label has shared a terrific new collection of menswear in its Paris showroom and staged a hit runway show in New York. Now, the brand enters a new league with its sponsorship of the Guggenheim show, which presents Koolhaas’s research exploring “the beauty and the urgency of certain potentials” outside of the city, as the architect told Architectural Digest. That means Lak has spent the last year collaborating and exchanging ideas with Koolhaas, the kind of partnership—far beyond a collaboration—that a designer dreams of. He not only had access to Koolhaas’s research, but sat with him frequently to exchange ideas about the environment and clothes as well as the systems of fashion and architecture.

Koolhaas himself is a fashion fanatic: he’s a longtime collaborator with and close friend of Miuccia Prada, and designed her Soho flagship. “He’s not necessarily talking about the experience of wearing the garments,” said Lak. Instead, Koolhaas talks about fashion “in a pure, theoretical, very deep, analytical way, which is really interesting because it rarely really happens that you do that, with the kind of speed that we have to produce and make things…. A lot of the time, it’s just about finishing something, making the deadline, selling those pants.” Their conversations heavily influenced Lak’s Fall 2020 collection, which used the countryside as both a motif and starting point for textile innovation, like a sleeveless coat created with artist Claudy Jongstra, who makes an otherworldly felt from sheep she raises in the Netherlands. Jongstra also worked with Lak for the capsule collection, creating a series of pillows covered with the felt, priced at $875.

Sies Marjan

“I was lucky that he was somehow charmed by me or liked what we did,” Lak added. “He really opened up.” Perhaps it helped that both are Dutch, Lak added, and that fashion and architecture are often grouped together as artistic mediums governed by a utilitarian purpose. But the pair also found a number of fascinating divergences in the ways they approach their work, particularly when it comes to color. Lak always starts with how a color will look against various skin tones, seeking to find tones that are universally flattering, whereas for Koolhaas, “the body never even comes near. For him, it’s the experience of walking into a room: is it the color you want to walk on? The color you want to have on a wall? Bright pink pants can give you sort of like an uplift, but the bright pink room can be quite intimidating.”


Source : Rachel Tashjian Link

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