Monica Ainley is a creative consultant, fashion writer and co-host of podcast “Fashion: no filter”. Based in Paris. Find her here.
I have a soft spot for the Obamas and it’s not just political. Their sense of humour, way of life, and marriage have inspired me since Obama’s glorious speech at the 2004 DNC convention. Boy do those two know how to speak meaningfully, and without airs, too.
I love this photo of a little stolen moment between the couple, captured by Pete Souza at the Inaugural Ball in 2009, at the height of the careers they’d built together. If this is cheese, it’s a fine one in season.
Obama family by Pete Souza at the Inaugural Ball, 2009. Found here.
Cass Bird is probably my favourite fashion photographer working today. Her photos are so clean, unfussy, and don’t take themselves too seriously. I also love her treatment of the female body. Sensual without the vaguest hint of objectification. Her subjects have strength, contageous playfulness and generally brim with personality. I’m a particular fan of this series of Bird’s friend, the model and activist Andreea Diaconu, inexplicably playing around in a lobster bib, clearly having a hilarious time with Bird and looking not dissimilar to a feisty crustacean herself.
I may be biased but there are few places as beautiful as my homeland in the fall. This painting by one of Canada’s greatest artists captures the blustery, moody feel on the lakes and bright colours exactly the way I remember them from childhood.
Red maple, Canoe Lake by Tom Thomson, 1916. Found here.
Alicja Podgórska Birkner is an artist and designer based in Munich. Find her here.
“In 1987, I traveled to italy as part of an italian course. Here are two of my most memorable moments that have changed the way I look at art. In Venice I visited a Matisse show. Every painting opened a new world of shapes, colours, compositions. Now this really was painting! His paper cut outs resulted from an illness, from which time on he was bound to bed and later a wheelchair, unable to paint. For me, this picture, showing Matisse in his 70s, symbolizes a vital, almost compulsive urge to create, that I, too am familiar with.”
Henri Matisse at the Hôtel Régina, Nice, 1952. Found here.
“1987, same trip. In Rome I had my first encounter with Bernini’s sculptures. Back in Poland, I had seen his work, but only in a slide show in an art history class. Arrogantly, I thought to myself “well, another baroque sculptor..“. But this time, I saw his work in the flesh, and what a revelation this has been! The angel, playfully interacting with Habakkuk’s hair, carved in heavy marble, incredibly skillfull yet somehow humorous and light. This moment convinced me that sculptures must be seen, touched and experienced. Pictures almost never do them justice.”
Habakkuk and the Angel, Bernini, 1656-61 Chigi Chapel, Rome. Found here.
“There are two very similar sculptures by Brancusi and Jean Arp, a shape that I too had made in 1984, completely ignorant of these two artists, while studying art in a socialist Poland. Since then, I am wondering about inspiration and kinship. Why is it that someone decides on a shape, a certain gesture? Why are there sometimes such profound similiarities? It is as if something immaterial is trying to become material, but through the mind and hands of an artist. This picture shows the studio of Brancusi in Paris, that represents a place of perfect harmony for me.”
IDA PETERSSON IS A BUYING DIRECTOR BASED IN LONDON. FIND HER HERE.
“I am a massive fan of Pure Evil’s work and Twin Peaks heavily influenced my teenage years, so this painting is everything to me. Pure Evil is the tag name for Charles Uzzel Edwards, a street artist and gallery owner in East London. The painting is a one of a kind, having been part of Charles’s first ‘Nightmare series’; a collection of artwork inspired by an email Charles received from China offering to re-produce Warhol paintings. The idea of Warhol’s entire artistic output distilled down to thumb nails inspired him to paint these doomed and dripping celebrity portraits which have become one of his most successful and recognised works alongside the ‘Bad Bunny’. The Laura Palmer painting is the only one not depicting a real person (living or dead), and for some reason, unlike the Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe versions it never took off. Lucky for me, Charles very kindly did me the best deal ever as a wedding present and I am now the owner of the original canvas – one of the few that never got made into a screen print. It hangs over the fireplace in our dining room.”
David Lynch’s Nightmare, Pure Evil, 1968. Found here.
“I love everything about this; the film, the graphics, the colors and more than anything, the feeling of freedom it evokes in me every time I look at it. A framed full size copy of this movie poster hangs in my home and just looking at it brings back memories of my past, particularly of evening surf sessions across the globe. I first saw the film in Hawaii, the place where I discovered surfing and it has continued to be one of my favorite films ever since.”
“The Endless Summer” by Bruce Brown, 1966. Found here.
“This picture makes me very nostalgic as it brings back memories of my wedding and how I came to wear what I did on the day. When I got engaged I immediately knew who was going to make my wedding shoes but I couldn’t make up my mind about what outfit I should wear. I tried on so many dresses and nothing felt quite right. Wearing a gown just wasn’t my thing and although pretty, I felt uncomfortable. During a dinner in Paris (less than three months before the wedding) I was in a panic and a friend said ‘I always pictured you more in shorts or a suit, you know’. That was my eureka moment. I remembered flicking through one of my many books on 70’s clothing and coming across this image of Mick and Bianca Jagger on their wedding day. I’ve always loved this image – it is just so effortless and simple, yet striking. Three months later I got married in a white short suit by Pucci wearing a massive big white floppy hat with a veil and I felt like me, just better.”
Mick and Bianca Jagger on their wedding day, Saint Tropez, 1971. Found here.
JAJA HARGREAVES IS A WRITER, PHOTOGRAPHER AND VISUAL RESEARCHER BASED IN LONDON. FIND HER HERE.
“Ivekovic’s earliest pieces used fashion magazines, ads and personal photographs to dissect the particular role the media and consumerism play in subjugating and manipulating women. This was in the seventies and she was responding to life under a dictatorship in Yugoslavia. She is a crucial figure in post-war Eastern art, yet remains still relatively unknown. I find her fascinating…”
Art by Sanja Ivekovic from the “Sweet Violence” series, 1970s.
“I’ve been completely obsessed with the artist for many years and just adore this painting. With closed eyes, Balthus’s pubescent and provocative model is lost in thought and seems completely at home in her youth. Thérèse Blanchard, was about twelve or thirteen at the time this picture was made. I love the mysterious suspense and secretive dimension that permeate the work.”
“Thérèse Dreaming” by artist Balthus, 1938. Found here.
“It is entitled “Self Portrait” and was taken in 1977. I love the duality of the work with the bad boy implication contrasting with the simple elegance of the image. I like that the hand is writing the word “pictures”, a contradictory composition if we look at it in the age of the selfie!”
“Self Potrait” by Robert Mapplethorpe, 1977. Found here.
GIORGIA BASCHIROTTO IS A WRITER AND DIGITAL COORDINATOR BASED IN MILAN. FIND HER HERE.
“I like this photograph by Peter Lindbergh shot for Ruffo in 1997 so much. It makes me think of cool autumn days spent wandering around the city with the person you love, sipping coffee in bars, smoking and cuddling. Even though the photo was shot in the 90s it has a timeless quality. Also, I have a thing for black leather jackets!”
Picture taken by Peter Lindbergh, 1997. Found here.
“Mark Borthwick is one of my favorite contemporary photographers. I love the way he captures the most ordinary things in life and makes them beautifully poetic. Be it a naturally imperfect body or a landscape, he manages to go beyond the surface and craft a haunting, delicate dream. This polaroid picture by him reminds me of hot summer days spent by the sea with friends, looking at the horizon with a melting drink in your hand.”
“I love the raw energy of this picture and how Debbie Harry oozes sexiness on stage. She and Kim Gordon inspire me a lot – their dark sensuality and their nonchalant, kick-ass attitude is something that I have always admired and identified with. Yet, when they perform they allow themselves to be vulnerable, and fearless. As Gordon puts it in “Girl in a Band”, “I like being in a weak position, and making it strong.” That is female empowerment to me.”
MOON KYU LEE IS AN ART DIRECTOR BASED IN PARIS. FIND HER HERE.
“Since I am financially independent, I mostly spend my money on traveling. This picture has been taken on my roadtrip to Iceland. It’s the second time I have been there. Discovering new places, cultures and traditions is always impressive to me. For instance, I was shocked when I visited Turkey. You can feel the mix of history, religions, origins that coexist since the byzantine period. Nowadays, people don’t go too far to experience something new. Most parisian people content themselves with “There is a bar which just opened in the cool neighborhood, so new!” and watching a documentary on “discovery channel” before going to bed.”
From Moon’s roadtrip to Iceland, picture by Moon Kyu Lee. Found here.
“This picture is a screenshot from a Japanese horror movie called Hausu, directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi and which came out in 1977. It is the story of 4,5 girl friends who go to one of the girls grandmother’s house and then will be killed. I love this movie because the story is quite dumb, the images are very kitsch and visually strong at the same time, quite comical too. I am quite fascinated by old-school special effects and animation. I like this cheap aesthetics, rough, with grain. I like movies from this period, like Karel Zeman’s Baron Prasil or Vera Chytilova’s movies.”
Screenshot from Japanese horror movie Hausu 1977, directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi. Found here.
“This painting is called The Rebirth: the Widower wears a yellow jacket. One of my favorite paintings from the emerging artist Mathieu Bernard Martin. He mostly paints with acrylic on paper and also writes poetry in French. His work is close to expressionism with vivid colors and rough lines. You can see the influence of Bacon, Matisse and Dubuffet. Today, I find it quite rare to find “traditional” painters amongst contemporary artists. Everything is based on the ideology, the analysis, the concept, blablabla. Some installations with just a piece of paper are exhibited in art galleries. Why don’t we go back to pure paintings like they used to be? Paintings have nothing to prove: they move you.”
Picture of painting “Rebirth: The Widower wears a yellow jacket” by Mathieu Bernard Martin. Found here.