Bye, The Hideout. Bye, Interstate. London menswear just got a little less interesting

Yesterday afternoon,  I was in Soho.

I thought, let’s pop into The Hideout.

One of London’s most influential, most radical, most forward-thinking independent stores.

Oh.

hideout

It’s gone.

Shows how little I shop in Soho (or read Hypebeast) – there was a story on Hypebeast about it closing in January.

It’s so, so sad.

The Hideout was where I’d buy Porter.

Not just the bags that everyone carries (Liberty are starting stocking them next season, though just the cautious ones – obviously nothing with any flare or character – The Hideout used to have those in abundance), but the amazing clothes under the label Head Porter Plus.

Over in Covent Garden, another of my favourite stores closed earlier this year.

Interstate.

A long-time obsession.

It’s there I’d by my Hanes underwear, imported from the US.

It was at Interstate that I discovered one of my favourite denim styles – the Gorilla Cut by Ben Davis.

I went there the other month, before my trip to Mexico, to buy a new batch of Hanes briefs for spring.

Because, you know, obviously you need to wear briefs when it gets to shorts season.

Interstate was closed.

I went into American Classics over the road.

The guy in there said the owner of Interstate had decided to close rather than sign a new lease at a higher rate.

I went to the store again yesterday.

It’s currently housing some pop up exhibition or something.

interstate

And so, in 2014, London menswear just got less interesting.

I’m not a great one for nostalgia.

I know that cities evolve and change.

I know that, say, Kensington Market couldn’t exist today.

I was lucky to have been around when it did.

But it does seem a marker of something when the West End can’t accommodate independence and radicalism.

It sure throws down the gauntlet for stores out in the East End – the men that kept those two stores thriving still want somewhere to shop.

Still want somewhere to buy something different.

Bye, The Hideout.

Bye, Interstate.

And thank you.

Right now I am listening to…

OMG can you imagine if someone played this at a men’s show in June?

PLEASE SOMEONE PLAY THIS AT A MEN’S SHOW IN JUNE…

The ICA’s David Robilliard show is extraordinary and moving. Here’s a preview of the works

The ICA’s David Robilliard is previewing today.

It’s extraordinary, spare and deeply moving.

The first time his paintings have been seen in London for 22 years.

Paintings like this.

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Robilliard was diagnosed HIV positive in 1987, and died a year later, aged 36.

Curator Gregor Muir took the decision to just show work, rather than archive ephemera.

It was the right decision.

It is like being at a show of his work in 1988, as if he were still alive.

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It fascinates me when Robilliard’s work got so large, and so spare.

You can see his smaller works from up to ’84 in a story I wrote last year.

I was asking Alan Macdonald if he knew.

(A polaroid of David by Alan was on today’s invite).

He said he thought that in the mid 80s David and his partner Andrew Heard moved to Gardens Walk in Shoreditch, and suddenly had the space to be able to create bigger work.

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They’d previously lived in Earls Court.

In Shoreditch they had no heating.

Apparently when they got sick, Gilbert & George installed heating for them.

It’s interesting that most of the works at the ICA feel cocky.

In both non- and innuendo sense.

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There is little elegiacal work – “Memories of a friend/A burst of tears from all your friends/The end” isn’t here.

Apparently it was difficult enough just getting these works together, so submerged has his work become.

More from the show.

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David’s sisters were at the preview.

As were Gilbert & George, David’s friends and supporters.

Here they are in the crowd.

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It was apparently the first time they’ve been in the ICA building since 1969.

More work.

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And more.

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Please do go and see the show.

It’s both of historical importance, and of exceptional quality.

You can read more about it by clicking here – it’s the transcription of a chat I had with Gregor that I posted last week.

And click here for more information on the show, including for tickets to the talk I’m taking part in on May 2.

Bound By Night, a new book by Elegance Bratton on today’s Vogue Ball scene, is AMAZING

Before I headed out to the Matisse preview this morning, a parcel arrived from Portland.

In it was a copy of Bound By Night, a new book about today’s vogueing scene by Elegance Bratton.

It’s published by Steve Terry of Wild Life Press, who recently moved out to the north east of the US.

The book is so amazing.

Here it is.

Those lines across it are sunlight.

photo 2

A slender tome that contains much joy inside.

Here’s a spread.

photo 1

Elegance begins at Vogue Knights, the Monday night vogue party that takes place at 301 West 39th St in NYC.

It’s the same venue where Princess Julia, Susanne from No Bra and I attended a Gorgeous Teen Sundays vogueing party a couple of years back.

With the same DJ, Mike Q.

Elegance then travelled to other parties, other balls.

In her introduction, she writes eloquently about the realities of life for those in the present day Houses of Mizrahi, Ebony, Revlon, Evisu, Blanhik or Balenciaga – disowned, poor, possibly sex workers.

“Some studies assert,” she says, “that at any Ball, 30-70% of individuals are infected with the [HIV] virus.”

It makes the images that follow even more poignant, and emotional.

Each is without a caption, its own story in itself.

Here’s a selection.

Blue lips.

Bound 50

Shimmer.

Bound 49

Some are born ready.

Photos taken during the Coldest Winter Ever Ball. Winter 2013

And dip.

Bound 59

The below image looks very familiar to me – fairly sure this is at 301 W39th, in the opening hours, rehearsal time before the judging has begun.

Bound 95

Catwalk.

Bound 57

Outside.

Bound 101

AMAZING.

You can order Elegance’s book by clicking here etcetc.

If you’re in East London, it’s in stock at Donlon Books on Broadway Market.

Limited to 500 copies.

So worth it.

I’m at the Matisse Cut-Outs at Tate Modern. It’s extraordinary. A preview of some of the works

I’m at the Matisse Cut-Outs at Tate Modern.

It’s extraordinary.

Some of the works.

From his book Jazz, shown here in full.

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Another from Jazz, this one called The Codomas.

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Matisse felt the colours of the printed version were a let-down.

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I love this one – The Horse, The Rider and The Clown.

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Zig zags at the end of the book.

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Works clustered together from the wall of his studio.

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And another.

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And another.

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His cover cut-out for his 1951 show at MoMA.

Those eyes are very Prada.

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His cover for Apollinaire.

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From here the works begin to get monumental.

I’m not going to try and show them.

The images suck on iPhone.

As they should.

Smaller works among them – I love this one called Chinese Fish.

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A Blue Nude – this one’s Blue Nude I.

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Another – Blue Nude II.

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I love this one called The Bell.

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It’s amazing to see the roughness of some of the edges – this is the corner of The Sheaf.

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A heart from the centre of Acanthuses.

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Process is part of the display.

Tracings for a stained glass window titled Christmas Eve.

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Pieces of glass.

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The window itself.

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Minor quibbles.

The hang shows the limitations of Tate Modern’s current exhibition space, something that’ll hopefully be solved by the new wing.

A couple of times, there’s empty space, as if they didn’t know how to fill the sometimes awkward rooms.

The spaces aren’t contemplative empty, they’re just, um, empty.

Here’s a wall in the room featuring Oceania.

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Next door, the corner of a room highlighting his studio in Vence.

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Elsewhere is a room titled Three Large Compositions.

It should actually by Three Large Compositions Split Over Two Rooms.

Together for the first time since 1953 are three works Matisse imagined shown together: Large Decoration with Masks, The Snail and Memory Of Oceania.

We have to imagine them together too, since they’re split over two separate rooms.

For all of Tate Modern’s scale, the rooms themselves are actually of restrictive size.

It can barely cope with the scale of this work.

As I walked in to Tate Modern this morning, I saw that the Turbine Hall was empty.

What if that true scale had been used to show these works.

Minor quibbles, about hang, not work.

The show is so extraordinary.

It opens 17 April, on until 7 September, click here etcetc.

The late artist and my absolute hero David Robilliard: A conversation with the ICA’s Gregor Muir

On 16 April, a show is opening at the ICA that is very important to me.

It is of paintings by David Robilliard.

The first Robilliard show in London for over 20 years.

It is titled “The Yes No Quality Of Dreams” after one of David’s works.

The last Robilliard show was in 1992, was in the Foyer Galleries of the Royal Festival Hall.

I still have the leaflet for it.

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It’s one of my most treasured pieces, even though it’s just a handout.

The show had a big effect on me.

David Robilliard came to prominence in the 1980s, an artist and poet who both published books and created works.

He developed a spare style of great resonance.

By the mid 80s, he was showing in London.

In 1987, his work was reaching a sense of full accomplishment.

In the same year, he was diagnosed as HIV positive.

In 1988, he died at the age of 36.

For a few years, his work was shown, with exhibitions in New York, Belgium, Germany and in 1993 at the Stedelijk in Amsterdam.

And then, barely anything.

A solo show at the Cornerhouse in Manchester in 1998, of which no record exists online.

A show at ScheiblerMitte in Berlin in 2009, reviewed here in 032c.

But in his home country, in the 21st century, nothing.

I first became aware of the ICA’s interest in Robilliard during a conversation with its executive director, Gregor Muir, about the Trojan show he staged there in October 2012.

Last November, Rob Tuffnell held a show of early works on paper, which I wrote about here.

And now, after a long process of finding the works, and gathering them together, the ICA’s show is about to open.

The show will focus on paintings from the last years of his life.

Like this one, from a private collection.

4_David Robillliard_You Know

The show is curated by Muir, very much a labour of love, like the Trojan show . I met up with Gregor the other week to talk through the show. We are in his office on the top floor of the ICA, Robilliard’s poetry books, catalogues of his work, and print-outs of photos of him are on the table in front of us. To begin with, Gregor talks about Robilliard’s connections with Gilbert & George, who were big supporters of Robilliard [here's an image of Gilbert and George flanking Andrew Heard and David Robilliard, at the Guggenheim in New York, 1985].

1. David Robilliard with Gilbert and George

They paid for the publication of his poetry books, and described David in 1984 as “the new master of the modern person. Looking, thinking, feeling, seeing, bitching – he brilliantly encapsulates the “Existers” spirit of our time.” David also did much for Gilbert & George – he was responsible for finding many of the young men who would appear in their work.

Gregor and I soon got to the nitty gritty – piecing together what is known of Robilliard’s life, why his reputation vanished, and why his work still resonates. As always, I’m printing these words pretty much verbatim, because I believe that spoken language should be typed out in full.

ME: And so he arrived in London in what year?

GREGOR MUIR: He arrived in I think it was the end of the 70s.  [Gregor finds an accurate biography] Born 1952, Guernsey,  he moved to London 1976, and he started to share a studio with Andrew Heard at that time [Andrew was an artist who outlived Robilliard and championed him after his death. Heard himself would die from AIDS related illnesses in 1993]. We then hear that he was the original Shoreditch artist, that he was living in Garden Walk which is right by Rivington Bar and Grill, he sort of becomes part of the Shoreditch triangle. And actually for some reason this is referred to as pioneering, but I don’t think he would have seen himself as at the forefront of something. It was just a cheap place to live.

I think there’s something of that in everything he did, like, I’m just going to do this…

That’s also interesting because you can sense that he’s slightly a different man I think in the early 80s. I’m only used to seeing images of him in his mid 30s

Where he’s got a confidence about himself…

[Here's an image of David at the launch of his poetry collection Swallowing Helmets, which I took at Rob Tufnell's show last year]IMG_4569

Yes, and in a way you kind of get the sense that he’s going from club kid, perhaps, [Gregor shows me an image of David looking very young, shot at the Blitz club] he looks to me in his leather jacket and drawn face someone who’s very much a sort of club kid, by the mid 80s, he’s kind of got an art career, and he’s showing first with James Birch [a London gallery, where David showed in 1985] and then Birch and Conran [with whom he sent out monthly poetry cards in 1987], he’s now through Gilbert & George becoming known to these bigwig European curators like Rudi Fuchs, who has had curated Documenta [in 1982], and is beginning to see David as potentially an artist he’d like to work with more, which he does. But it’s also an interesting thing – the European art world at the time would have dictated that Rudi Fuchs was pretty much holding court at this time, and with the budget to boot, working in Holland as he did. I mean ’87 was a big year for David, because he’s showing in Eindhoven [in Holland], and then he’s releasing his book Swallowing Helmets, so this is David being more confident. A box of poems comes out as well and you’re sensing a kind of feeling that things really are on a role, but then of course we speculate and I can find out, that he would have been diagnosed as HIV positive in 87.

I was about to say, it’s a big year, but then also it’s a year when

It’s a catastrophe.

It’s interesting because in some of these images from  he doesn’t seem to know. I presumed in 87, all the works would be elegiacal, whereas these are still flirtatious and got fun about them.

’87 you’ve got responses too the campaigns on TV [Gregor reads from a work in a catalogue that won't be in the ICA show]. ”I had safe sex last night. I went home alone”. That’s not the end of that poem, which is that he says, “I had safe sex last night” and someone asks him how, and he says, ” I just spat it out”. There’s a sense of those big HIV/AIDS ads creeping in. You already sense that it’s around, it’s there, and there’s this sense of unfortunately David beginning to become the most eloquent person to respond to this period. It’s as though he’s trundling along, and then suddenly he sails into this area, and it gets stormier and stormier. “The thing that thrilled them is the thing that killed them” is one of the lines. He probably didn’t wish to be, but as we know poetry becomes a form of testament. It can document periods in such an incredibly precise way, and in a way that’s what he found himself doing. And that’s the oddness because he then becomes a kind of the Samuel Pepys of the AIDS generation.

What about “Life Isn’t Good, It’s Excellent”?

I’m puzzled myself because first of all I find the line way too optimistic…

You see I’ve always found it really sad. The interesting thing is this Gilbert and George text from the 90s [in front of me is their only statement about Robilliard after his death, in which they describe him in choice and poignant words]. They call him the ”sweetest, kindest,” and then it says “handsome, thoughtful, unhappy, loving, friendly…” They celebrated his sadness. I find “Life Isn’t Good…” an unhappy line.

“Life Isn’t Good” I get, but “It’s Excellent” I don’t know if it’s almost over the top bravado.

For me because the “excellent” sits on the man who’s not drawn in, so there’s an emptiness to the excellent. It’s not excellent with an exclamation mark. It doesn’t have any guide how to say it.

I felt very strange about that line and I’ve been trying to put it into context. I think as far as I know, it becomes a great title for the book [it was the title of a posthumous book of poems], it’s a publishers kind of title, but virtually everything else in his work has a lilt of being utterly let down in love.

It is also the image that’s on the leaflet of the show I saw in the Royal Festival Hall, the last London show before yours…

It’s unreal. That show was so shockingly at the foyer galleries in 1992. 1992! This is the shock horror of it, because again for me it’s been a conversation initially with Aurel Scheibler in Cologne, who has works by David Robilliard, and in talking to him couldn’t believe this was the case. This is why this show has come about, from that shock realisation that it was  that long ago. I think Robilliard is all in that cheek and despair. It’s not Morrissey, it isn’t a more catholic doomsday, it is more a kind of the language of a young old queen. I think it’s really odd because I thought there might be more Polari in the writing but there’s none [Polari is the old slang language of London's gay subculture].

But it seems like he lives a very frank and truthful life, there’s not the need for a screen of a secret language like Polari, his language is very open and honest.

I was thinking, this work [Gregor points to a work not in the exhibition] ”That Beat It Quickly Smile” which I get it’s kind of cheeky, and “beat it”, I wondered if that hadn’t been playing around, because he was really in love with Michael Jackson, and certainly I think that he was probably looking more to lyrics and music rather than always making a direct connection to poetry. And some of them are so pithy, they are like lyrics. 

It’s interesting that, although you’ve got that photo of him at Blitz, he’s not really identified with any London scenes. 

That’s because I think he really does embrace the radical position of the poet, and unlike the other post punk poets he’s somehow true to poetry without having to sensationalise poetry to make his point, William Burroughs is practically producing rap records of his poems in the 80s. What you have with Robilliard is a niche poetry, he doesn’t want to put bells and whistles on it. His way of taking it into culture more widely is through painting whereas others want to take it into the punk scene, I think he isn’t feeling he needs to run with the set at this point.

When he’s sharing the studio with Andrew Heard in the late 70s, is he defining himself as poet or artist or is the difference irrelevant? To have a studio implies some sense of practice.

It’s difficult to know. This period is somewhat beyond my reach, other than I get the feeling that to be an artist in that period is really dominated by the world of Acme Studios [a charity founded in 1972 to provide artists with affordable studio space] and projects like Matts Gallery. The orthodoxy of that time was Cork Street as the centre of the known universe for art. At the time there isn’t Frieze magazine, there’s no attempt to join the international world, it’s very locked down event. The key thing for the radical artists of the day was probably getting to show at the Whitechapel or maybe the ICA. Then being an artist was a way of eeking out an existence, it’s a way of spending your life. I think so many artists have been have come through the East End, and in the 70s and 80s when they were there in vast numbers you were talking thousands of artists occupying Beck Road for instance [a tiny street near London Fields where Throbbing Gristle lived and worked], you had the more successful ones breaking out, Helen Chadwick might be a good example, but I think for David it’s a world of having Gilbert & George round the corner, and going back and forth.

It might also have been then that as he wrote on paper, the worlds then looked beautiful and that then evolved into work with the words being seen as pieces in themselves.

I think so, and also I think it’s said isn’t it that he had scribbled notes scrunched up in his pocket, and I think at some point there must have been a comment, possibly from Andrew to David, possibly of, why don’t you paint those? And it would have been that simple. And what he arrives at is incredibly, these paintings are incredibly fresh. They’re so fresh now, and it’s not just the blankness of the canvas, there’s some quality that they have. Anyone could chuck little paint at a white canvas. It doesn’t mean that it’s fresh. And I think there’s some situation, if you look at the technicality of them, there are coloured lines that are changing in colour.

[It's something you see in the work Disposable Boyfriends, coming to the ICA from a private collection in Frankfurt]

5_David Robilliard_Disposable_Boyfriends There’s a very clear sense of those changes in colour not being blended in or in any way smudged. It’s a clean colour line where he starts with blue, then he stops, then it goes to yellow, it stops and it goes to green, and so on. I think in a sense what he’s doing is saying. This sense of these very beautiful pure colours on a white canvas are just rather glorious.

There’s something about the clean graphic quality that the underground desired, immensely. Because they were living with that with ad hoc ism, they were living in rundown East End, the whole world around them was crumbling, and had crumbled, and it was about raw plaster walls and so on, it was the walls that you hung these on that became an important part of this, in other words hanging one of these up in a studio in the East End in that period in Garden Walk in Shoreditch, it would have looked radically fresh and new.

That’s something I’m very pleased with the ICA show that we’re doing, we’re going for total purity. It’s so purist. It’s paintings. We’re not doing an archive. We’re not putting it into a historical context. We obviously have no interest to disconnect the poems from the paintings, but for instance I was thinking the other day we should put labels next to these, then I thought, well actually, they are already their own labels. They are very very fresh. I cannot wait to get them on the wall. I now know they are down in Vauxhall in storage. We’ve got crates that are building up there, I think we’re one short. It’s been an incredible journey just to pull these paintings together.

What was the decision making process? Was it a conversation with Aurel Scheibler in Cologne?

It triggered it in my mind. And also the shock of realising that there hadn’t been a show in this country for so long. I suspect that art world deaths are the worst, because they play into people’s egos and fantasies, and often I’ve noticed that an understanding and an appreciation of a certain artist can disintegrate after death so quickly, through a lot of falsehoods and ownership issues. I think there is here an opportunity to bring the paintings together so that we really celebrate the work without any problems or hang-ups or need to address anything other than let’s get this work up on the walls again.

So thereafter, having spoken to Aurel Scheibler, I started to try and find out where the paintings are, and it’s taken a little while. But recently two of them entered the Tate collection, which is amazingly good news, and they were donated by a wonderful lady called Judy Adam who was hugely helpful. Judy Adam used to work at Anthony D’Offay gallery, and had a really great understanding of David’s network, and through her we were able to contact his sisters, and others, and she’s been a huge help. Many of the works in Europe and few in London, I think that it really maps if you put Rudi Fuchs network on a piece of tracing paper and the whereabouts of the works it very closely matches that. It’s more of a kind of a dutch Rhineland type of collector base, which was of course the most active at that time because the Cologne Art Fair was the key art fair for contemporary work. Have you ever seen David speak?

No.

[Gregor goes over to the computer on his desk. Previously we'd been talking about a film called The World Of Gilbert & George, in which Robilliard briefly appears. He tries to find the place on the DVD]. Of course you always hear that Robilliard was in The World Of Gilbert And George as the “angry man”, so you’re thinking, oh right he must have been that man chucking bottles at the wall, and it’s not that at all. He actually seems perfectly calm. It’s a very odd thing because you realise that in trying to get a single still [Gregor means for the catalogue, which the ICA will publish during the show], his face is changing all the time. I think I understand a bit more now when people talk about his presence. People I know who did meet him say he was quite noticeable in a crowd. It’s a kind of thing where [suddenly Robilliard appears, and starts talking. “I am angry”, he says.]

robi1

["I am angry"]

robi2

GREGOR: See the eyes?

["I am angry"]

robi3

GREGOR: His expression is changing constantly

["I am angry"]

robi4

[And he's gone]

GREGOR: That’s it. But imagine if you take stills, it’s funny how much his face changes. We had to take about eight stills because every millisecond his face is different. And it’s this slightly funny eye, and his teeth are…

Really british teeth

And this eye because it’s dark on this side.

He’s very similar to Lee McQueen in his face.

[Gregor has been brought a list of the titles that are in the show]. This is what we have. “A Roomful of Hungry Looks”. “Instant husbands”. We have got “Life Isn’t Good”. ”Yes No quality of Dreams”we just got, which is really helpful.

Since it’s the title of your show. Did it look like you weren’t going to get it?

Yup. We were told we weren’t going to get it. I won’t say much more than that. But we do now believe we’re getting it. And I love that. I think it’s one of his more illusive lines, “The Yes No Quality of Dreams”. It keeps you going. It never finishes somehow.

What I would like to do, from this show, is find out where the rest are. This is as much as is humanly possible. We know the Stedelijk has some very beautiful ones. But honestly, do they exist some of these paintings anymore? I don’t know. I have a slight fear that quite a lot are no longer with us. Again unfortunately with no-one there to protect his market in the true international art world sense of things, there’s an absolute falling away. And I daresay some of these works are lost.

I read somewhere that the show at the Stedelijk was the biggest solo show of its kind by a contemporary artist. It was huge. And then it all falls apart. That sort of small collection  of bits, a few group shows. There is a solo show at the Cornerhouse in Manchester in 1998, the rest is not even noise. It’s a kind of, you get this incredible sense of the whole thing being pushed out to sea and never coming back.

The drawings is another project and another show. It’s just going to take a long while to do the big picture. It’s all still, it’s one of my typical projects where it all still feels like mid-research. Because we’ve pulled together not just the works but people who may not necessarily have been in the same space for a long time. So the opening is going to be this incredible coming together of people. And this is the time, it’s timely. This thing of looking at the 80s isn’t just retrospective, this is the only time you can realistically approach these subjects, because there was real pain in there for a long time. And it’s only now that we can pull it all in. And I hope that this just gets the ball rolling. This isn’t the definitive show. It’s not. It’s based largely on what we can pull together. It is an incredible project, we won’t see this show happen again for a long time, but the feeling is it just might, the main aim is to get it in the DNA of the younger generation of artists, who I feel this work could be very pertinent. What I don’t want is for it to come and go and for it to have not latched on. It’s got to, and I think there’s the sense that when we see them all in the same space, it’s going to be pretty emotional stuff.

[Gregor's next appointment has arrived. It turns out we've been talking about Robilliard for 70 minutes. I'm sure we could have carried on].

The exhibition opens on 16 April until 15 June, click here etcetc.

On May 2, I’m joining Louisa Buck, Toby Mott and Gregor Muir for a panel discussion of David Robilliard’s life and work – it’s part of their Culture Now series, and you can get tickets for it by clicking here etcetc.

Working women. Sweatpatches. Filled-out jeans. Ella Kruglyanskaya’s new show at Studio Voltaire is so fierce!

Ella Kruglyanskaya’s new show at Studio Voltaire opens tonight.

The work is so fierce, all painted on site.

A work over the entrance.

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The paintings are all of women at work.

A mural she’s painted on the inside wall.

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Maids, with my attitude to cleaning.

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A dressmaker.

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I always forget, until I see it, that I’m obsessed with clothing in art.

The clothes are so crucial to Ella’s work.

Look at this one.

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Oooph those jeans.

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A denim dream.

And then that top.

With those sweatpatches.

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Love how the dresses in this one totally tell the story.

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And those wedges…

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Ella’s sketches for the work, in the room out the back.

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Another.

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And another.

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SO AMAZING!

It’s the first show of the three year collaborative programme How To Work Together, linking up Studio Voltaire with Chisenhale and The Showroom.

It’s opening tonight, open to the public from tomorrow, click here etcetcetc.

Young designers. Tight trousers. Muscle poses. Behind the scenes of the NewGen Men shoot!

Last Tuesday morning, not long after 9am, in Hackney.

Gathering around some steps and a wall on a housing estate are the fresh new recipients of NewGen Men support for Spring/Summer 2015 from the British Fashion Council, sponsored by Topman.

This season, Craig Green and Alex Mullins join Agi & Sam, Astrid Andersen, Nasir Mazhar, Lee Roach, Matthew Miller, Common, Diego Vanassibara and Kit Neale on the funding line-up.

It’s all very exciting.

And they are here for their photocall, all in their own clothes.

The photographer, Marius Hansen, has brought a wooden stepladder, and a crate.

He begins to arrange the designers.

Matthew Miller, Lee Roach and Agi Mdumulla are asked to climb up and sit on the wall.

It’s quite high, but they put a brave face on it.

“Where’s your partner in crime?” Lee asks Agi, about Sam.

“No-one sent a car,” says Agi.

In fact, Sam is ill.

The others are arranged on the steps below.

Craig Green is asked to sit on a basketball, which someone has brought as a prop.

“Not very elegant,” he says, but sits on the ball.

Marius is looking at how Agi, Lee and Matthew are sitting on the wall.

“There’s too many feet,” he says.

“Shall I go cowboy?” says Matthew. He straddles the wall.

“I can’t do that,” says Lee. “My trousers are too tight.”

Lee compromises by crossing his feet.

Marius asks to see what it looks like with Craig sitting on the crate.

Craig swaps over.

“It’s better on the ball,” says Marius.

“Where’s hair and make-up?” says Lee.

“Where’s onset catering?” says Matthew.

“That’s why Sam hasn’t turned up,” says Lee.

Marius starts to take pictures.

“You can smile a little bit but not too supersmiley,” he says.

Alex had been stood on the ladder. He tries swapping him with Kit. Astrid is stood behind the ladder, and holds up her hands to protect against Kit falling.

He doesn’t.

Nasir is stood behind Craig, and has started to stroke Craig’s head.

“It looks nice if you do that,” says Marius.

Nasir has started to make Craig laugh.

Marius asks them to start making poses.

Up goes Agi’s arms, like he’s a muscle man.

“Sam’s going to go mental,” says Matthew.

And the picture is taken.

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(Photo by Marius Hansen)

It’s over so quick.

They start to climb down.

The ones below quick, the ones on the wall shuffling along.

Waiting for them are the drinks they’ve ordered – Nasir particularly keen for his Ribena.

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Along they shuffle.

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Agi emerges.

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Then Lee.

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Matthew’s not far behind.

And then they’re all gone.

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67 days until London Collections: Men.

Can’t wait.

It’s ten years since I started focusing solely on menswear. What has changed? Everything

I was at my parents the other week.

My mum told me she’d found something.

A copy of Guardian Weekend.

With a piece in it I wrote about menswear.

This is the magazine.

That’s my mum’s handwriting, by the way.

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Note the story on the cover.

David’s padded jacket much nicer than whatever Ed was wearing.

The issue date is 28 Feb 2004.

Just over ten years ago.

Here’s the feature that was inside.

Apologies for the blur.

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That’s me along the bottom, wearing various questionable looks, all chosen by myself.

The feature was a farewell to my full-time job at The Guardian, and an introduction to the menswear column I was about to start writing for the magazine.

You can read it by clicking here etcetc.

Ten years since I quit womenswear to work solely on men’s.

What’s changed?

Everything.

I remember I’d written the feature, but had pretty much forgotten what was in it.

I’d assumed it was a hurrah for all that was exciting in menswear.

Not at all.

Because back then, there was pretty much nothing exciting in menswear.

The first line is “I have only ever once tried to be a transvestite”.

The kind of thing you write when you’re thirty.

It then goes on to talk about why womenswear is dominated by men, and the limitations of writing about clothes that I can’t actually experience.

Something I still believe today.

When I get to writing about menswear, the main cause of excitement is the work of Hedi Slimane at Dior Homme.

That’s how long ago it is.

I had few other bright points.

Alexander McQueen’s return to menswear after a couple of years hiatus.

The menswear debut of John Galliano.

And – I must have been desperate – that “Givenchy is the next label to follow the Dior Homme model, with Oswald Boateng designing its first men’s ready-to-wear collection in July”.

A different world.

Before Thom Browne came to worldwide attention with his shrunken down suit, a style eventually aped by a television programme titled Mad Men in 2007.

Just before Hedi Slimane published his book London Birth Of A Cult, with photographs of Pete Doherty.

It was two weeks after a student Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook, who went on to prove that a CEO of a billion dollar global company can have T-shirt, jeans and sneakers as his working uniform.

Before Fantastic Man was first published in 2005, and introduced subversion and civility into menswear (and before everyone started copying the civility, without realising it was meaningless without the subversion).

It was just after Kanye West debuted his first album The College Dropout, but long before he attended the menswear shows (remember when he attended it menswear shows?), and long before digital print sent menswear haywire.

Tom Ford hadn’t even quit Gucci and YSL yet, let alone set up his own menswear label.

And in London, Lulu Kennedy of Fashion East had yet to meet with Gordon Richardson of Topman.

They had yet to found MAN, the collective show launched in 2005 that would establish a new idea of young menswear in London.

I am most interested in the last few lines of my final paragraph.

“I hope there are fashion students who are watching all this activity and realising this could be their place: their design spark and drive could move menswear in directions as yet unforeseen. They will be following the lead of successful young designers such as Kim Jones, whose single-minded dedication to menswear is a glimpse of how viable this side of the business can be. Maybe in our time menswear will become an equivalent force to womenswear, though in its own valid context. It could happen. Or maybe I’m just deluding myself, once again.”

Turns out I wasn’t deluding myself.

It’s pretty much what has happened.

Isn’t that nice?

Anyway, enough indulgence.

Onwards.

Obsessed with Alastair Frost’s nail bar show in Glasgow. It’s a show. In a nail bar. Literally

Alastair Frost has the most amazing show here at Glasgow International.

It’s a show.

In a nail bar.

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My friend Joe Scotland getting his nail did by the artist.

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Some of the works, which Alastair painted here in Glasgow in the last few weeks.

This one’s called “And then I met some tech people who could make it look like I was talking”.

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The mural behind is backwards so it comes out the right way if anyone takes a selfie.

This one’s called “Well I got degrees in both Animal Science and Psychology so it was really either this or National Geographic”.

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LOVE.

Another, titled “You suck at chiaroscuro”.

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If you book an appointment, you can get all your nails did by a professional, using motifs from the works.

Here’s Laura Aldridge getting hers done.

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But if you ask nicely, alright barge in, Alastair might do you one nail.

When in Rome.

I wanted an eye, obviously.

Alastair stuck it on, hairdryed it firm, then filed it off.

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He said he wanted to learn how to be less ginger with the edges.

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How jolly!

Nails being did with art at 32 St Andrews Street, an off-site space from the people of Mary Mary, until 21 April, click here etcetc for an appointment.
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