Creative Thinking : Driving with an iPad

Updated 28 December 2012

Creative Thinking : Driving with an iPad

I saw a man holding (and looking at) an iPad while driving his car. Was I dreaming? I wish I were but, unfortunately, I was not. At this point, I fervently hope that automatically driven automobiles will become available as soon as possible for everybody to use. I read that prototypes have already been tested. They are also said to be safer than the cars driven by human beings. I do not doubt it a bit, seeing what I witness every day, stuff that makes me wonder about some people’s capacity to think in a proper, logical, sensible way. Too many types of “wrong” behavior have become commonplace, bad things happen that almost no one even notices any more. It appears that mankind is starting to accept them as normal, even as “acceptable”. Sorry, this is not right!
Author Anthony de Mello, SJ wrote that wolves keep remaining wolves even if they gather in a pack of a thousand, and therefore they will always behave in the wild and dangerous way proper to wolves’ nature. Similarly, if one thousand or even one million individuals commit acts that are materially or morally reproachable, such acts cannot be condoned or endured. What is wrong is wrong and it does not matter how many preach “freedom” of…practically everything. Let us imagine a possible scenario, in case such idea is left “free” to proceed on the same path, to grow and transform itself, as most ideas do.
Today you accept that A speaks evil of B. Tomorrow you accept that A hits B. After tomorrow you just raise your brows when you hear that A shot B. When finally A actually kills B, you might shrug your shoulders and think, “Well, many do the same.” Impossible, you say? Improbable, maybe. Impossible, absolutely not. So many ugly things are accepted today as permissible while — up to a few years ago — they would have never been allowed to be publicly displayed for everybody to see and hear.
Those who enjoy “ugly” or immoral stuff have always existed and have always found a way to feed their appetites. Good for them. Aren’t they “free”? Yes, they are, provided they don’t impose their tastes on others. For these “others”, in the past it was enough to avoid putting themselves in particular situations (watching certain movies, videos, reading a particular type of publications etc.) to be spared. Is this still possible nowadays? Absolutely not.
Now the stories that you don’t want to hear, the images that you don’t want to see are continuously shoved under your nose any time you go to the movies, you switch the TV on, you flip through the pages of a magazine. What to do, then? Stop going to the movies, watching TV, looking at commercials, reading magazines, even listening to the news? Yes, we could do that, and many are already doing it. But… can you honestly say that this is fair? Is this “freedom” for the “others”?
Excessive tolerance has caused an excessive decadence in customs and behavior. Corruption has always existed but, as keeping talking about your aches increases the pain you feel, exalting extreme freedom of behavior only heightens the curiosity and the desire to try the forbidden or the simply “wrong” stuff. Florence Renaissance preacher and reformer Gerolamo Savonarola (1452-1498) was burned at the stakes because of his strong statements against the depravity of his times. Therefore, may I possibly be ostracized for some things I write, such as this? But all the “ugly junk” I keep seeing and hearing about – far too often – pushes me to suggest to you the idea that, maybe, such topics are really worthy of serious consideration, in case you have the future of your world, and of your children’s world, at heart.

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Azzedine Alaia exhibition at London’s Design Museum captures the essence of his creative spirit

Updated 21 June 2018

Azzedine Alaia exhibition at London’s Design Museum captures the essence of his creative spirit

LONDON: For lovers of fashion, a visit to the Azzedine Alaia exhibition, showing at London’s Design Museum until 7 October, is a must. Looking at the wonderful displays there is a sense of loss at his passing in November last year, but this is a great retrospective of the Tunisian designer’s life and work, which allows you to go right up to the garments on display and take in the breathtaking quality and detail of Alaia’s designs.

Alaia, born in 1935, trained as a sculptor at the School of Fine Art in Tunis. That background is evident in many of his figure-hugging designs — particularly the stunning, pared-down evening gowns.

When you look at the super slim-line garments on display it can be a bit disheartening when you see the tiny hips and waists. It makes you think of the remark attributed to Wallis Simpson: “You can never be too rich or too thin.”

But Alaia’s world was not for ordinary mortals — it was an extraordinary place for beautiful people living a dream. In the film made by Ellen von Unwerth during the preparation, staging and aftermath of an Alaia show in 1990, you see Naomi Campbell, Helena Christensen  and Christy Turlington at the height of their beauty and fame reminding us of the ‘supermodel’ era, when these women dominated the international tabloid press.

Alaia himself said, “I make clothes, women make fashion.” And you only have to think of stars such as Rihanna and Penelope Cruz wearing his designs on the red carpet to understand what he means.

The film of models walking in his designs is mesmerising – each model is filmed in sequence with close up shots of what she is wearing — an excellent way of showing the fabrics, cut, patterns and innovation and how they are all brought alive through movement. Alaia’s designs flatter the female form and seem enhance women’s beauty.

The influence of Arab architecture is evident in some of his designs. His use of lace and perforated fabrics, especially broderie anglaise and punched or laser-cut leather, recalls the mashrabiya.

His ability to transform leather into such a soft, wearable, high-fashion fabric was stunning to see up close.

Also notable was his avoidance of surface embellishment such as embroidery or applied decoration. Instead, Alaia keyed pattern into the very fabric of his garments, making it an integral part of their structure, altering both their weight and form.

His fascination with African influences is also evident in his use of unusual materials including flax rope, raffia, shells or Nile crocodile skin and animal patterns.

Alaia was also deeply inspired by Spanish culture — his earliest fashion memories were reportedly of the girls in Diego Velazquez’s 1656 paining, “Las Meninas” and his voluminous ball gowns evoke the formality of the hooped gowns of the Spanish royal court during that time. He also took inspiration from Spain’s vibrant folk costumes, as seen in the effusive flamenco-inspired ruffles of some of his designs.

Through the photographs mapping his life you get a sense of the creative process and hard work that went into his couture. You also realize that this was a man who was at the top of his profession for several decades.

The exhibition does a fine job of conveying Alaia’s creative energy, and reminds visitors that his legacy lives on in the inspiration his work provides for young designers today.