Archive for June, 2014

Louis Vuitton Spring/Summer 2015 Menswear Collection

Rajasthan, the land of kings in the northwestern corner of India, inspires Louis Vuitton in an exploration of the origins of menswear, offering a timeless look of true sophistication.

“While last season’s collection was about looking down at the earth from above, this time we’ve looking up at the stars,” says Kim Jones, Men’s Style Director. While travelling in Rajasthan Jones discovered Sawai Jai Singh, the king who built Jaipur, India’s pink city, and constructed its fantastic Jantar Mantar astronomical observatory gardens in the early 18th century, that inspired the set design this season.

From Jaipur and the palaces of the lake cities of Udaipur to Ranthambore, the former hunting grounds of the maharajas of Jaipur, and the Taj Mahal at Agra, a vision of contemporary and eternal India, which predates European traditions and spans over five to six hundred years, has been remixed by Louis Vuitton into a glamorous blend of sophisticated embellished fabrics, smart military tailoring and inventive sport style.

In a spectacular modernization of classic Indian embellishment, Shisha mirrored embroidery with LV engraved mirrors, appears constellation-style across flight jackets with blue tone-on-tone high textured embroidery in ceramic-coated and Mako yarns; a glamorous sport hybrid that can be worn with high-waist military shorts, or zipped into an all-in-one military flight suit.

Pattern is omnipresent. The Louis Vuitton Karakoram motif is translated into a range of subtle zigzag herringbone variations in fine suit wools for peaked lapel jackets and pants with a more defined, slightly higher waist and long, straight leg. Modern India with a 70s accent shows in the tailoring colorations from warm, natural military khakis and browns to indigo denim blue for crisp cotton suits with embossed leather buttons, and the subtle sheen of silks in a range of formal darks and princely white for evening.

Patterns continue in a more pronounced way for shirts inspired by Indian turban fabrics and embroidery motifs. Large scale multicolor Karakoram, shot with the season’s blue, shocking pink and orange colors, appear on a dotted ground taken from India’s Mothra tie dye technique, which places the dots very tightly as a traditional mark of social rank. White cotton/silk shirts are a shadowy Chikan style sampler of traditional Indian patterns interspersed with the Gaston V in patchwork jacquard. And filmy silk organza short sleeve shirts, some with Karakoram display strikingly airy Indian exoticism. Polo shirts in a V patchwork of bright orange and pink on khaki,
evoke India’s chic maharaja sportsmen.

Outerwear associates refined leathers, military tailoring, silks and sophisticated technical fabrics in pieces that are chic and performing. The trench in twill textured Louis Vuitton signature natural cowhide leather is both sumptuous and rugged, and the overcoat in dark silk with Indian military gold sundial buttons has a technical Aertex silk and cashmere bicolor lining for elegant performance. Twill leather reappears in a military flight suit and wool twill trench coats sport suede epaulettes, while blousons show in traditional and tunic versions in suede with suede ribbing at the waist. Knits combine Louis Vuitton Karakoram stripes and symbolic Indian patterns. The tee-shirt is treated with the collection’s caravansary elephant in ornate jacquard instead of print on Indian style super-mercerized cotton. Super fine 21 gauge cashmere sweaters are narrow striped at the neck and hem with silk, while silk sweaters are given the same treatment with cashmere stripes. Spring’s cardigan looks like a bomber jacket with matte jersey body and satin sleeves, and silk chenille knit in bicolor appears as a warm-up vest under a jacket.

Four special edition trunks, a desktop case, guitar case, record case and composer’s case designed to hold music paper, ink and notebooks, have been included in this collection in aged natural cowhide with fine calf interior. The Maison’s classic Monogram signature has been reversed in three new bags featuring LV Monogram trim on solid tanned deer leather in the season’s doctor bag, soft weekend suitcase and vertical tote with Monogram straps and tags.

This season also marks the launch of the new V bag collection. Made of an exclusive light, supple and water-repellent leather, it is especially designed for modern urban nomads: multi-purpose bags fitting all daily activities, from gym to the office. Signed with a Gaston V, the collection provides a contemporary vision of travel, matching the pace of 21st century.

Singh’s 19th century descendant, Sawai Ram Singh II’s crossed bridge glasses also inspired this season’s eyewear, while Indian sundials appear on belt buckles, cuff links, rings and bag charms along with a guitar flectrum pendant in malachite on a necklace.

Footwear for this modern Indian vision is both contemporary and precious featuring aligator leather sneakers in simple black or white.

This show is dedicated to Professor Louise Wilson OBE.

Images via Louis Vuitton

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Early Theme Adopters: Bushwick

Bushwick has become the theme of choice for tens of thousands of bloggers since we launched it a few months ago. It’s easy to see why: its typography and layout make posts highly readable, while the vertical custom header image adds a distinct, easy-to-customize design touch.

Bushwick also allows you to create custom excerpts, and to tuck non-essential elements into a neat slide-out widgets area. All these features make it a perfect theme for bloggers of all stripes. Take a look at the sites below for some inspiration.

Call of the Wild Geese

call of the wild geese bushwick
Blogger Anne created Call of the Wild Geese to document her thoughts and adventures during a six-month period of self-imposed unemployment.

The airy feel of her site perfectly echoes the blog’s evocative title. Anne’s uncluttered design focuses the visitor’s attention on her writing, which is complemented by beautiful custom drawings in the header area and in each individual post.

Fashion Backwards

fashion backwards bushwick
In Fashion Backwards, Liz, a history-minded fashion blogger, takes a look at the origins of some of today’s most popular styles, showing how the past lives on through our clothes. She’s created a witty logo for her site, which is prominently displayed in the vertical header area.

One of the greatest elements in Bushwick‘s design is the splashy display of featured images. Liz is making the most of the theme by giving each post a smart, customized look with well-chosen featured images.

Jeff Schneider

Jeff Schneider Bushwick

On his personal site, avid traveler and marketing professional Jeff Schneider showcases his writing and photography from his journey across Southeast Asia. Bushwick‘s crisp design and generous layout make his images really shine.

Jeff has turned his site into more than a travel blog, though: drawing on the theme’s versatility, he’s made it easy for colleagues and potential employers to view his résumé and portfolio, both an easy click away in his streamlined custom menu.

If you’d like to learn more about Bushwick or give it a try, visit the theme’s Showcase page.

Filed under: Customization, Design, Themes
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UX for Good: Can We Harness Emotions to End Genocide?

Automatticians, the people who build, participate in events and projects around the world every day. Periodically, they report back on the exciting things they do when not in front of a computer.

London-based Davide Casali is a speaker and mentor, but above all he designs experiences for our users. This year, for the second time, he returned as a team lead at UX for Good, a project that calls on designers to tackle complex social challenges. Here’s a brief journey through the events of these six days.

One hundred days to kill a million people. This is the magnitude of the genocide that began on April 7, 1994, in Rwanda. A genocide that the Western world tried to ignore, but that today has a valuable lesson to teach us.

This terrible event has been the central topic of the 2014 challenge of UX for Good, a project founded in 2011 by Jason Ulaszek and Jeff Leitner. This year the project brought together ten designers to support Aegis Trust, the nonprofit organization that manages the Kigali Genocide Memorial, as well as educational activities across Rwanda, the UK, and the US.

The challenge? How to bridge “the gap between the way we remember the genocides of the past and how we act to prevent the genocides of the future.” Surely an ambitious goal.

Harnessing the power of design

This was the second year for me, but the experience I had didn’t make me feel any less irrelevant facing such an enormous challenge. How can ten designers begin to make a step forward in such a huge undertaking? This question kept appearing not just in my mind, but also in the mind of all my fellow designers.

But this is exactly the kind of bet that UX for Good makes year after year, and it repeatedly manages to give back value to the charities involved in the project. UX for Good was founded with designers’ core skills in mind: their ability to connect human needs with solutions that have lots of moving parts across different disciplines. Extracting simplicity from complexity. This is where design can — and does — give back to society as a whole, even if in more normal scenarios the benefits are hidden inside commercial products or services.

On the ground in Rwanda

I flew to Kigali on the 30th of May, and the following evening I met all the other designers for the first time. This started three full days of field research, dawn to dusk. The intensity of this part was breathtaking, not just for the amount of activities conducted in a completely foreign place, but also for the emotional investment of this challenge.

The first day we went through the Kigali Genocide Memorial itself. It was an incredibly draining morning, emotionally. In the words of Matt Franks, one of the designers:

As hard as it is to summarize the feelings you have while standing there — it’s even harder to capture them in a manner that can be conveyed to others. You feel sick — yet emotionally detached. You know what you are hearing is awful… Yet you are unable truly to understand it.

We barely had time to recover before proceeding to other activities. During these three days of field research we visited different places and interviewed experts, officials, and survivors. Their stories, like the testimony of Grace and Vanessa, were terrible to hear (you can watch their interview here):

As we walked along a path, I heard a woman agonizing. She has been hacked and her baby is still breastfeeding. She had been cut with a machete on the forehead, at the back of the head, and on one arm and leg. Once I reached the woman, she said ‘please do me a favor and take my baby, with God’s help you both might survive’. So I took her. If I have to die for this baby I will.

Over and over, we began to notice how these tragedies all showed another side, one of of rebirth and reconciliation. Heroes emerged. Hope appeared. From another woman we heard a testimony so terrible I’m unable to repeat it here, and it made us wonder how it was even possible to still trust and talk to other people after so much madness. She greeted us thanking us for taking the time to hear her memories, and she went away thanking us again for sharing a moment with her.

These two aspects, pain and hope, emerged as key elements in Rwanda’s healing.

Finding inspiration in tragedy

When we moved to London for the synthesis and design phase, the energy of the team was vibrant. We were eager to start making sense of all the insights collected in the field and do something ourselves.
Roberta Tassi, designer and UX for Good participant

In the following three days we worked at the Red Bull offices in London and distilled our findings. We wanted to provide Aegis Trust with a model they could reuse to build activities and educational programs, as well as with a set of different ideas mapping and showing the power of that model.

Inzovu Curve Model

All of this is a consolidation of the successful activities Aegis and Rwandans are already engaged in to support healing and drive action. The model defines a sequence of painful memories, reflective moments, stories of hope, and inspiration to act — and shows how people can convert individual experiences to understanding and action.

This model echoes the one suggested by the mindfulness studies conducted by neuroscientist Tania Singer, where people train and learn to switch from empathy to compassion. It’s a necessary shift to avoid burnout and promote a healthier confrontation with difficult topics.

These two dimensions — the experiential and the personal — are intertwined in the model we called the Inzovu Curve. “Inzovu” means “elephant” in Kinyarwanda; we chose that name because the curve resembles the shape of a rising elephant trunk.

Inzovu Curve Logo

We finally consolidated all our findings in a presentation that we gave at the Aegis Trust the following week, with an excellent reception from their side.

A challenge to remember

For me, this has been for the second time a transformative experience. Understanding different cultures is something that surely makes me a richer person, but it also informs my everyday design with a better perception of different people and behaviors. It gives me an incredible sense of hope to see how, in just a few years, a country managed to heal and build a renewed unity, and how countless everyday heroes worked and are still working toward that goal.

It’s also incredibly empowering to see us, designers, starting as ten strangers, able to put our egos on the side and work effortlessly together on a common cause.

We concluded UX for Good 2014, but these efforts are ongoing and require additional resources. Aegis is already doing a great job, but more people need to get involved. Maybe you could consider a visit to Rwanda to see more than just the gorillas, or at least take a peek at Aegis’ work.

Either way, I hope this story gave you something to think about.

Filed under: Automattic, Community, Events
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Louis Vuitton Epi Marly

Louis Vuitton Marly MM Dune Louis Vuitton Epi Marly

Have you ever tried looking for a handbag that looks professional yet elegant at the same time? Louis Vuitton’s newest bag is dedicated to active women looking for a real day-to-business bag. Introducing the Marly MM in the refined grained Epi cowhide leather. This bag has perfected that delicate balance between professional substance and modern elegance. As sophisticated as it is practical, Marly offers plenty of room for both work loads and for play things. It’s side gussets can be unbottoned and opened east-west, providing a generous space for one’s possessions. Marly also makes life easier when it comes to organization. The bag has three compartments, including a central zipped compartment.

Marly MM is very functional. It can be carried in multiple ways, be it by hand or elbow using its Toron handles or shoulder carry thanks to its removable leather shoulder strap. The bag features chic Palladium finished brass hardware, a great contrast to the colors of the Epi leather. Inside, the bag is lined with microfiber textile lining, and comes with an interior pocket and a double smartphone pocket.

Marly MM measures 16.1” x 14.2” x 6.7” and comes in two captivating colors: Dune and Fuchsia. Marly is available exclusively at Louis Vuitton stores for US$2810.

Marly BB

Louis Vuitton Marly BB Louis Vuitton Epi Marly

A BB version of the Marly is also available. Designed to perfectly complement a busy lifestyle, this compact but surprisingly functional bag is classic without being stuffy. With its fabulously feminine silhouette, sturdy leather and long removable shoulder strap, the Marly BB is set to become a great go-anywhere bag.

Marly BB measures 13.4” x 10.6” x 5.1” and comes in three vibrant colors: Coquelicot, Figue, and Pistache. Available exclusively at Louis Vuitton stores for US$2350.

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Around the World (Cup) in Eight Photos

Whether your country is playing in Brazil this year or not, joining in the fun of this monthlong global festivity is hard to resist. Thanks to bloggers and photographers on the ground in Brazil and around the world, we all get to have the best views.

Just before their team dispatched the outgoing champion, Spain, these Chilean fans found time to hit the beach in Copacabana, where they were captured by Rio-based photoblogger Cristina.

Across town, in a favela called Acari, Dutch student Steef Fleur watched the Brazil-Mexico match with some new friends. This photo is part of Steef’s ongoing project to document the World Cup across local communities in Brazil.

Fans on the other side of the equator watched the same game between the Mexican and Brazilian teams. Blogger Vonn Scott Bair joined the action in San Francisco’s Civic Center, where football fanatics and lunch breakers alike can watch the games together.

Of course, not only humans enjoy a good game of soccer; Zeke, David Kanigan‘s four-legged friend, was just as ready for the fun to start on June 12, when the first match took place.

All this excitement invites intensive, nonstop coverage. British photographer Simon Stacpoole is flying around Brazil this month, trying to capture the perfect shot of players in action. In this photo, taken in Manaus’ Arena Amazonia, he turns his attention to his fellow photographers in the moments before the England-Italy match.

The popularity of soccer has long transformed it into much more than a mere sport — it’s a global cultural, political, and economic phenomenon. The bloggers at Amsterdam Cycle Chic are documenting Orange Fever in Amsterdam, for example — here showing proud fans sporting their team’s jersey after their successful opening game against Spain.

As the lead photographer of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour, Joel Robison has witnessed the power of the game to make a change in communities worldwide. He’s visited more than 80 countries in the run-up to the World Cup, taking photographs of players along the way — like these young members of the Palestinian Football Association.

Photographer Tony Burns is currently in Brazil documenting scenes in and around the games, but few shots channel the game’s beauty and visceral appeal as the ones in this photo essay from January, showing how it’s played in a Buddhist monastery in Myanmar.

Are you currently in Brazil or viewing the games from home? Share your World Cup stories with us!

Filed under: Community, Wrapup
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{Quote and GIF from Gregg Araki’s 1993 film Totally F***ed Up}

{FUN FACT: James Duval (in the t-shirt) also played Frank the Bunny in Donnie Darko}

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