Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Rapper Heems on Sticking to His Roots, Eschewing Stylists and His Signature Hermès Scarf

The rapper Himanshu Kumar Suri, who records as Heems, in his parents' home.Credit Jesse Dittmar/Redux
Heems, né Himanshu Kumar Suri, looks equal parts regal and comfortable holding court in the back of Brooklyn’s Cafe El Beit. Dressed in tailored black separates, his shiny hair slicked up into a high bun, he could be dressed for any one of his many roles: art curator, clothing designer, loving uncle, political activist and, of course, rapper. His first solo album, “Eat Pray Thug,” was released last month to critical accolades. (His former project, the hip-hop group Das Racist, was likewise beloved for its incisive and playful lyrics.) But Suri barely allowed himself time to celebrate, instead diving right back into community politics — specifically, the desperate call for a taxi stand near Manhattan’s beloved Punjabi Deli.
Credit Jesse Dittmar/Redux
Suri’s political ideology is the force that drives his music as well as his visual aesthetic. “Eat Pray Thug” is, by his own admission, a rap record about Islamophobia, made by an Indian and Middle Eastern New Yorker who defines his personal style as “Taliban chic.” He’s fully aware that he contains multitudes — so thankfully, his end goal isn’t for people to get him. “I like my fashion to be expressive of who I am, but also to confuse and play with your understanding of the world around you,” he says. “Not necessarily antagonizing, just playing with people’s expectations.”
Honor your background.
“I like to combine street wear and high fashion with Indian clothing. It might be just one article, like a hat or a scarf, but I can include something that looks like my grandfather would have worn it, almost like a uniform. Yesterday I had my Pashtun cap on. And I love my kurtas. They’re super comfortable, super mundane. Indian people wear them every day, whether you’re the common man going to the grocery store or you’re a politician with millions of Euros in a Swiss account, you still wear a kurta — a long white tunic shirt — with pajama pants. I love that it’s a uniform, but it’s extremely chic and elegant.”
Early impressions stick.
“In one of our earlier Das Racist press photos, I was wearing one of Victor’s really colorful sweaters, so I’ve always been associated with this colorful, hipstery, thrift-shop aesthetic, though that was not my aesthetic. I was much more comfortable wearing $500 T-shirts than I was wearing used, smelly ones. I like it in theory — I like the idea of not paying so much for clothes — but I think maybe because of the immigrant thing, the idea of wearing someone’s used clothing is just not okay in my household. Like, ‘Why are you wearing someone else’s used clothing? We didn’t come here and work our asses off so you could wear some white dude’s old Bulls T-shirt from ’92 that he threw away.'”
Look to friends with similar backgrounds for inspiration.
“I was hanging out with Waris Ahluwalia. He’s another South Asian in New York. He’s amazing, and a sweetheart. If you want to talk about who else is stylish, well, Waris is one of the most stylish — not just South Asians, but New Yorkers.”
Respect the means of production.
“My mother came here with a master’s degree in economics, and in the daytime she would bag groceries at the Pathmark for four dollars an hour, and at night she worked in an Indian guy’s sweatshop making elastic belts with my friend Sunil’s mom. Thank God she had that job, which was really helpful to get us through a tough time financially. It’s not the most glamorous career; she did what she had to. Textiles are a huge part of the conversation on women in India and labor.”
Have your clothes custom-made.
“Coming into this album, I wanted to have a defined aesthetic, not just with my videos and album art, but with my clothing and look as well. I’ve been trying to wear as much custom stuff as I can, designing my own stuff or having it made, and wearing more Indian clothes that are harder to find. I’m still expressing myself and having fun and playing with colors and shapes and textures, but I’m not buying $500 Acne Studios shirts anymore. I got a bunch of fabric from India and had it tailored in Thailand; they got it done in three days.”
Listen to your parents.
“The reason I wear a bright orange Hermès scarf often is because it looks like a Hindu priest’s scarf. When I brought that home, my dad was like, ‘That was three dollars, right? You’re wearing a sadhu scarf.’ A sadhu is a wandering ascetic who is a devotee of Shiva. I was like, ‘Yeah … three dollars.’ It’s a little joke with myself that the H for ‘Hermès’ actually stands for ‘Hindu.’ Coming from this immigrant background helps me keep my money and fashion in check.”
Credit Jesse Dittmar/Redux
Don’t let capitalism control your desires, but be gentle with those who do.
“My feelings about materialism are quite complicated. I’m guilty of materialism. I understand the context of materialism, especially in the American working class. I get why, when we don’t have anything, then when we get stuff, we get excited. When other people tell me, ‘Oh, I don’t like most rap, but your rap I love,’ I take offense at that, because I come from that culture. I don’t agree with materialism or misogyny, but I look at context before I point fingers.”
Do things that make you feel beautiful, even when people stare.
“Sometimes when I’m out, if I’m feeling a certain way, I’ll put kajal in my eyes,” Heems says, using the South Asian term for kohl, or eyeliner. “When I was in India I’d see these gorgeous little babies with kajal in their eyes. As you get older it’s mostly the women that wear it — the men are forbidden — but little babies, little kids, boys, can put kajal in their eyes. I didn’t like that distinction. Why can you do it when you’re 5 and not when you’re 15?”
Stay away from stylists.
“I’ve always been averse to working with stylists. A lot of times they’d have preconceived notions of what rappers were supposed to dress like, so they’d bring silver chains with dollar signs on them. Like, are you joking me? First off, this is just racist, and you’re an idiot. Second of all, this doesn’t look good.”

Hot Hermès Handbags


Paris Thieves Steal Over $1M Worth Of Hermès Handbags

Thieves made off with 500 Hermes bags (valued collectively at $1.07 million) after robbing a packaging and logistics facility northwest of Paris on Thursday evening. According to WWD, a group of six individuals forced the lone manager at the supply space to load the bags onto a truck before they fled in two vehicles.
The products, which included canvas and leather handbags ranging from $500 to $5,000, still were missing as of Friday afternoon.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Monday, April 13, 2015

Art is a luxury brand you probably can’t afford

If you subscribe to the view that contemporary art has been swallowed by big money, big galleries, big collectors and big brands then the merging of  visual art and expensive retail visual merchandising is perfectly complete in a show that opened in London at the weekend.Whereas the retrospective of Japanese pop artist Takashi Murakami at Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art in 2007 which included his own “line’ ‘of Louis Vuitton products for sale could be interpreted as playfully ironic  –  the French leather goods brand Hermes at the Saatchi Gallery (natch) is displaying its wares in ways not too dissimilar to how it does the Christmas windows at its flagship store on Rue St Honore in Paris.


The Hermes- organised exhibition’s theme is “flanerie” — the elegant French term for strolling or wandering without purpose. ”“Flânerie, that wonderfully liberating art of urban wandering, is second nature to Hermès, one could even say our most profound nature”, says Pierre-Alexis Dumas, the Hermes artistic director on the Saatchi Gallery website.
It continues: “Quintessentially Parisian, flânerie is about revelling in the unexpected. ‘The journey through Wanderland draws its coherence from two intrinsic elements of la flânerie: dreaming and freedom of spirit, explains Bruno Gaudichon, curator of La Piscine-Musée d’Art et d’Industrie in Roubaix, who was commissioned to create the exhibition.”


Eleven rooms at the Saatchi Gallery in Sloane Square have been sequestered by the Parisian set designer and high-end furniture designer Hubert le Gall enticing visitors into a highfalutin window shopping without having to board the Eurostar for the two and half hour train trip to Paris to experience the real thing.
The website gushes: (It) plunge visitors, the flâneurs themselves, into a dream world of joy and fantasy, with a Paris-inspired landscape as its backdrop. The eleven rooms present a series of installations in various media, created by a diverse selection of artists. From the Parisian square, to the covered passage, or a cafe of forgotten objects this veritable extended cabinet of curiosities will delight and intrigue visitors, inviting each of them to open their eyes, free their minds and be enveloped by the colour, sounds and images that surround them”.


A number of artists working in various media including video artists Romain Laurent, Nicolas Tourte, Magali Desbazeille and Siegfried Canto have created highly theatrical rooms for the exhibition. Among the exhibits are a 19th century Parisian shopping arcade while one room is filled with “special edition” handbags including the famous Hermes Birkin Bag which normally sells for about $30,000 — but at Saatchi is just for admiring.
But Dumas argues that this is a show for everyone. He told The Telegraph: ”It’s not about marketing the brand, it’s more about conveying who we are, something that even children can enjoy, you just need a fresh eye to look at it”.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Hermès Opens Wanderland Exhibition

A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE: Hermès is taking a trip — to nowhere in particular — with an exhibition that opens today dedicated to flânerie, or the act of wandering the city streets and drinking in the details of everyday life. Wanderland will run until May 2 at the Saatchi Gallery in London, and move to Paris in September, Turin, Italy, in December and China next year.
Hermès has dedicated 2015 to the theme of flânerie and transformed an upper floor of the gallery into a series of whimsical and surreal settings across 11 rooms. One features vintage walking sticks — including one for the dandy, with a built-in bit of chalk for cleaning the collar and a brush for dusting down the suit — while another is filled with graffiti created by the artist known as Cept, and another with floor panels that “talk” when a visitor walks on them. A café dedicated to lost objects features little tables inset with pocket watches or tiny paint boxes that, on closer inspection, feature film screens the size of postage stamps. A pillbox and glass bottle on one table glow with psychedelic colors while the image of a lady dances at the bottom of a coffee cup.
Objects have been taken from the Hermès archive, the museum collection of Emile Hermès at 24 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris and Hermès’ contemporary collections and displays have been created from a variety of media.
Pierre-Alexis Dumas, artistic director of Hermès, loves the buzz and beauty of London, and could not resist opening the show there. “Paris would have been the obvious choice, but London is the ideal city for the 21st century flâneur. There is something happening here,” he said.
Dumas said his aim was to create an exhibition that would embody “what wandering is about. My hope is that people come to the show, maybe forget reality, and then look at their own city with new eyes. We must never lose our ability to dream, to wander, to go with the flow and let ourselves be surprised.”
The exhibition was created by Bruno Gaudichon, curator of La Piscine-Musée d’Art et d’Industrie in Roubaix, while the set designer was Hubert le Gall. The brand has also created a book of kooky collages with Actes Sud that reflect the rooms and objects on show. Dumas said the show is also a meditation on the act of creation, and hopes it will awaken visitors’ empathy, so they can “think about the world we live in, and feel the presence of those who made the objects.”


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