Sunday, 22 December 2013

Baileys Christmas Nutcraker 2013

This year Christmas adverts have taken over - thirty second videos are no longer enough, and many companies are paying millions for actual short films to promote their Christmas spirit. Advertising is becoming a real art form in itself!

My favourite advert of the 2013 Christmas season (actually, my favourite advert ever!) has to be the Baileys Nutcracker - it is just so beautiful!!! Graceful ballerinas, beautiful dresses, fairies, princes, pirates, ice queens, what could be prettier?!

The two-minute piece directed by Ringan Ledwidge features choreography by Benjamin Millepied and stars dancers from the Royal Ballet, in a romantic reworking of Tchaikovsky's traditional festive ballet. The stunning visuals were created by amazing designers and craftspeople with celebrated histories in film: set by Sarah Greenwood (Pride and Prejudice, Atonement), costumes by Rosa Dias (who has worked on many beautiful commercials!)

Luckily for us behind-the-scenes people, there's a 'making-of' feature!

This advert reminds me of the collaboration between Vivienne Westwood and the English National Ballet to rebrand the ballet company. It is great to see ballet coming into the glamorous and artistic spotlight of fashion, film and editorial photography. The beautiful, fantasy quality of all these art forms combined is magical!
“What I like about the chance of making these short films is you have a very short period of time, a very focused period of time, to be able to tell a story and make everything work, which is an incredible challenge” - Benjamin Millepied
It is in short films and adverts that visuals are so important - they must convey character and narrative swiftly, to ensure that the audience grasps the concept as quickly as possible. For this Nutcracker piece, this meant using iconic costumes, for example the Nutcracker's red and white suit, but with a modern twist to bring it all together and into the 21st century.

Behind the scenes photography by Will Morgan, see more at 'Creative Review'.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Initial Inspiration and Themes - "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" Ballet Design

A few weeks ago I posted photos of my finished 18th Century man's costume, that I made as part of this term's project at London College of Fashion. On the BA Costume for Performance course, we do not only make but design as well, and I chose to design the text of "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" as a ballet.

For our final hand-in we had to condense our research, drawing and investigation from the ten week term into a mazimum of ten A2 pages. Here are the first three pages of my portfolio, illustrating my influences and the images that I found most inspiring.

PAGE 1 - Initial inspiration 
*"The Kiss" - Georges Barbier
*"The Swing" - Jean-Honoré Fragonard = pleasure gardens, dressing/undressing
*"The Orgies" - William Hogarth = moral decline, 18th century underwear

PAGE 2 - Ballet
*"Jane Eyre" - Shanghai Ballet
*"Sleeping Beauty"  - Birmingham Royal Ballet 
*Sparkling fabrics, layering to create depth and lavish look under stage lighting

PAGE 3 - Set Design
*The pleasure gardens - secretive and mysterious places of 18th century entertainment and socialising, day and night, with a reputation for immorality
*"Sleeping Beauty" - Matthew Bourne, Lez Brotherston
*18th Century architectural and interior design, Rococo style
*The boudoir/dressing room
My concept for the set wood be a woodland clearing pleasure garden, with the lanterns, chandeliers and mirrors of a lady's dressing room

More of my research and design work soon!

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Masterpieces of Chinese Painting 700-1900 @ V&A

I am officially on Christmas break! Finally! The last couple of weeks have been strange, because although i didn't have any classes, or costume work, I still had an essay to write. But after handing that in yesterday morning, my first term of second year at LCF was completely finished. And that meant I was free to get started on my super long list of exhibitions that I need to see this month! So many fantastic things are on in London this December!

First off, the V&A. I've been neglecting my membership recently so yesterday was the perfect opportunity to have a look at the wonderful exhibitions they are running - 'Chinese Painting' and 'Pearls'. In this post, i'll share my favourite pieces from 'Chinese Painting', and i'll write about 'Pearls' at a later date...

V&A hosts a wonderfully varied programme of large-scale exhibitions, which is great. I had never encountered Chinese painting before and since working with Meg Andrews, an antique textile dealer with an interest in Chinese textiles, I have been keen to discover the world of art outside Western culture. I've realised recently how close-minded we often are in the Western world when it comes to costume history - there is so much more out there to be discovered! It is not all about corsets and petticoats!!!

'Masterpieces of Chinese Painting' opens with an introduction to the technique, with a video demonstration. Two brushes are used at the same time, to create colour washes over a black ink outline. The colour is built up layer by layer until the right tone is achieved. Then everything is outlined again and any details added.

'Court Ladies Preparing Newly Woven Silk' 1101-25, attributed to Emperor Huizong (MFA, Boston):

I really like the really thin ink outline that is used here - and all the detail put into recreating the dazzlingly beautiful silk textile patterns. Interestingly, many aspects of Chinese painting point to silk painting originating from embroidery. The frame used to stretch silk closely resembles an embroidery frame, and both crafts are called 'hui' in Chinese.

"High-minded artists painted only when inspired, therefore their works are treasured during the succeeding generations."  - Tu Long, 1592

The vibrant colours of the costumes against a brown background is stunning. Incredible attention to detail was paid to depicting the valued costumes of court ladies and men, and in many examples in the exhibition, a landscape may be painted in greys and blacks, but the costumes will still be vibrantly coloured.

The delicate and crisp draping of the robes is also captured in detail by each artist. The highlighting of dress in a scene serves to tell the viewer about the characters, but also show off the skill of the painter!

Detail of 'Court Ladies in the Inner Palace' by Du Jin (1465-1509):

The delicate and crisp draping of the robes is captured in detail by each artist. Dress is often given prominence in a scene, telling the viewer about the characters and also about the skill of the painter.

I would really recommend this exhibition to anyone looking for an introduction to Chinese painting, and a very particular style of illustration. It has definitely inspired me to do more drawing, especially observational drawings of new types of costume.

'Masterpieces of Chinese Painting 700–1900' runs until 19 January 2014 at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. For more information, click here.