Sunday, October 7, 2018

meet Ben Fronckowiak.. a triple threat of creativity

And yet again I must thank the internet gods for the ability to seek and find individuals such as Ben Fronckowiak. I don’t circulate within the worlds of art or modelling on any sort of consistent basis but I do watch out for those who create beauty in some way shape or form … possibly via multiple conveyances of self-expression, including their own innate beauty.
click image to enlarge.. ph. Mike Ruiz
Enter Ben Fronckowiak who juggles his painting, his modeling and his burgeoning film career all at the same time. Once again, the internet has allowed me to find people who know people who know me, one of which is quoted within this interview. The world has gotten much smaller but my network of creatives has grown exponentially and I want to make others aware of these creatives who might not yet be marquee names but who are well on their way.
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As you will read, Ben is fluent in the telling of his story and as I came to find to find out, he is somewhat of a prodigy being accepted to UCLA film school at age 19 from which he graduated cum laude. It is always of great interest to me to “hear” from these people, in their own words, how their lives have evolved; some on a singular path and some on multiple paths. Ben is of the latter variety;  his art is arresting and reminds me and I’m sure many others of street/ graffiti art but to me his work  also prompted a correlation to a sort of 21st century Rouault and Bosch. His modeling career is one that might be more challenging as these days, men and women who are considered to be “conventionally beautiful or handsome” are passed over since the current trend is for barely pubescent and less than attractive millennials; the fashion world is in flux.  As for film, I cannot assess that since I have little to no experience in that field, other than by schooling.  but what gives me great confidence in a man like this is that he possesses persistence and passion for what he does and that is what artists of all kinds must own.
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So now you get to hear from my latest triple threat of talent ….. Ben Fronckowiak,  in his own words.

Jeffrey Felner: Can you tell us a little bit of how you arrived at this moment in your life story?

Ben Fronckowiak: I’ve arrived here through a lot of hard work and serendipity—I’m definitely happy to be where I am … getting recognition for what I am passionate about, but there is still a lot more work that I have to do. I graduated from UCLA Film School and that was my immersion and introduction into the world of visual arts. While there, I filmed a documentary backstage in a transsexual venue. Hearing their stories had a strong influence on my art which continues to my paintings to this day. Traveling has also played a large part at this moment in my life. I’ve lived and worked in Miami, Los Angeles, and New York while modeling, and painting. With social media, I’ve been able to share

My work in ways that would never have been possible before … combining painting, filming and modeling. I can paint a painting, take a photo with it, and film the process to create something that I think is unique. I’ve arrived here by putting myself out there and taking hold of every opportunity that comes my way—even painting murals in the street.

Ben employs a passion for color and combinations in a way that evokes at once both tension and intrigue and  brings excitement and energy to any environment”   Michael Dawkins Interior designer, Jewelry designer and client of the artist

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JF: since you juggle multiple professions/ talents, can you tell us who your mentors or icons that have influenced you in each or just one of your endeavors and why?
BF: Film directors are huge influences for me, especially the ones who started as painters. My goal is to direct films. I’m particularly influenced by David Lynch, Tim Burton, and Guillermo Del Toro because they can take their characters and give them life not only on canvas, but in the moving image.

JF: If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would they be and why?

BF: Picasso, Pedro Almodovar, Frida Kahlo,  Einstein and Nelson Mandella.

I’d invite them because they are major influences for me. Picasso as he’s completely mastered his craft of painting, Almodovar because I think he’s a genius director, Kahlo as she too creates work that is raw and vulnerable, Einstein as I’d like to hear him talk about theories of the universe, and Mandella because he’s been through so much hardship to be where he is today.

JF: If you could choose any project or collaboration what or who would it be with and why?

BF: I would like to pair up with another director and create a film with my characters—i.e. a Guillermo Del Toro inspired film with my art. This and pairing up with a major fashion label to have my designs appear on clothing … Louis Vuitton, Gucci (these are big dreams).

JF: Since all of your talents seem to focus on the visual, can you speak to the changing “eye” of the beholders or even your own mindset when it comes to what you are looking to achieve?

BF: I’m always looking to achieve something which has been extracted from my life experiences. When I first started painting, themes were based heavily on relationships and trying to understand them … the mysteries of attraction and love. Right now, I’m sponsored by a resort in Pennsylvania to create new work while being their resident artist. My work is more influenced by life and death, and struggles to understand our position in this world … how fragile our minds can be and how malleable we are. I’m always listening to what is happening in my life, what it’s trying to tell me, and then aim to convey that through my work.

**********FOLLOW HIM @*******************************

Thursday, October 4, 2018

meet Momo Attaoui.. food stylist/chef

Those of us who spend a fair amount of time on social media have come to understand that anyone who holds a camera or stands in front of it thinks themselves a model or photographer especially if they have 1000s of “followers.”
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Then of course we have fashion critics and stylists who believe that they have a clue about fashion merely because they wear or buy clothes or own a keyboard of some sort. One of the the more ubiquitous oddities that has grown in popularity is food. There is hardly a day that goes by that one doesn’t see a plate that is being devoured at home or restaurant or even after it’s been eaten. Frankly, I like to keep my “food” private.
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As I have said multiple times before, the internet is an amazing invention that offers endless possibilities and that is exactly how I came upon one Momo Attaoui… yes that’s his real name. What makes this man of special interest to me is that he calls himself a food stylist as well as a chef. The more I let that sink in, the more I found to compare it to fashion. We are so visually stimulated on a daily basis that this concept is so astoundingly and surprisingly logical. 
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So since my area of expertise, as it were, is about fashion in its many aspects, today I thought I’d introduce you to Momo and let him explain to you his modus operandi and open another way to see fashion as it is portrayed and designed on a plate!
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So here he is in his own words and I think you’ll find him to be quite credible as a creative or designer but instead of cloth or interiors or jewels, he designs food! So in his own words….

Jeffrey Felner: Can you sort of give us a brief resumé as to how you arrived at your present profession?

Momo Attaoui: My father enrolled me in military boarding school since he believed it would be good training and would help me to become a great leader.  I started at age of 6 and graduated 11 years later having earned a bachelor’s degree. Upon graduation I entered the military in Algeria, serving as an officer until I was 28 but while I liked it, I felt that the environment didn’t really encourage creativity.

While still living in North Africa, I read a book by Chef Michel Guérard titled Cuisine et Minceur. Chef Guérard had also started a school in the Landes region, l’institut Guerard à Eugénie Les Bains, which was dedicated to natural cooking.  It was the first natural cooking school in France and he was my inspiration. During my travels throughout France, the idea of food and celebration attracted me.  I began to cook meals and invite people to my home and everybody seemed to love it.  I began developing a reputation for my cooking and entertaining.

My interest has always been in healthy cooking, not just a Mediterranean diet, but a diet that includes beans and soya; it also intertwines with both vegetarian and vegan cuisines. 

After living and working in Europe, I came to America and found jobs with a variety of chefs.  I also did catering and served as a private chef, working with people to encourage a healthy weight and health. In 2015, I appeared on “Chopped” (Food Network).  Although I wasn’t the last one standing, that appearance really boosted my reputation and recognition in New York. 

Recently I relocated to Toronto for two reasons—for love and because I felt it would be an interesting environment in which to introduce my cuisine.  
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JF: Do you have any mentors or those you model yourself upon and why have you chosen them?

MA: Chef Guérard was definitely my role model.  He was the first internationally-recognized chef who specialized in really healthy cooking.  It wasn’t just healthy cooking… his dishes were incomparable when it came to taste and appearance as well.  Now, more than 30 years after he wrote his first cook book and opened his school, healthy cooking is trending upwards. Actually it is more than a trend; it is a way of life today for so many. Chef Guérard was ahead of his time and has been a great influence on many chefs, me included. He won a Michelin star for the Grande Cuisine Gourmande served at Les Prés d’Eugénie in 1974 and again in 1975. The Les Prés d’Eugénie , Michel Guérard’s restaurant, was awarded a third Michelin star in 1977 and simultaneously Chef Guérard joined the Chaîne Thermale du Soleil, France’s leading spa group.
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JF: If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would they be and why and in your instance what would you serve and why?

MA: My guest list would be: My father who had such a great influence on me in so many ways, my friend, Nat Sutton, who has given me so much support, not just professionally, but as a true friend for over 27 years. Yves Saint Laurent, who is from my hometown Oran and whose work and style I have always admired, Pablo Picasso whose use of color and composition, is an inspiration to me and Chef Guérard because It would be an honor to serve him and demonstrate how I have interpreted the cuisine that he inspired so many years ago.
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JF: I think we all understand what a chef does but can you offer further explanation as to the “duties” of a food stylist?
MA: I am a food stylist.  It is a part of my upbringing and culture which have influenced not only my choice of ingredients, their combination, the seasonings and spices I use, but how I present the finished product. I believe that for a dish to be truly memorable, it must look as good as it tastes.  Appearance and presentation make the food more interesting and inviting.  Food styling involves not only how the food looks, but everything surrounding it—the plate on which it is served, the table setting and table linen, how the food is arranged and garnished, all the textures in the setting, the lighting; everything that influences the appearance of food ultimately influences its enjoyment.

As a chef and a food stylist, I bring all those elements together to create a truly memorable experience—whether the food is being served or being viewed in a magazine or a cookbook. Food styling is very detail oriented and it requires a very artistic eye.  A successful food styling should ignite your senses and make you want to smell it, touch it and taste it.
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JF: If you could choose any collaborator who would that be and why and what would that collaboration entail?

MA: I would definitely choose Pablo Picasso.  When you think of Picasso, you think of color and composition—but color and composition used in very modern and very creative way.  His paintings abound with everyday people and objects presented in unconventional and sometimes startling ways. His painting style is the perfect complement to my cooking and food styling.  It is clean, colorful with interesting lines with always a dash of the unexpected.

Follow  Momo on Instagram  @ momohealthycooking
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Wednesday, October 3, 2018


When writing a review the mindset is to be as objective as possible and not make it personal but of course every review involves some personal likes or dislikes unless of course you write for and then you just regurgitate designer’s press releases or ooze about ugly clothes because the brands keep you on their payroll.
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 Reviews are meant to evoke, provoke, evaluate and explain the visuals. The most prevalent reaction and observation is that most people DON’T READ…. They look at pictures like they are in the third grade and then they make comments strictly based on their personal likes or dislikes. Yes of course that personal part enters the conversation but that should not be the sole reason a collection is deemed ugly or beautiful. The clothes need to be put into context such as what do you think they might look like hanging in a store or who is going to wear it, no matter the price, and then lastly you must take into account that these clothes are not the under $100 category.. More like in the $1000s category.
art by Marc Antoine Coulon  click image to enlarge
 Another aspect of or mindset of writing reviews or evaluations of a collection involves what the brand might stand for … what is there signature look, who is their customer and lastly if a designer is holding the reins for a heritage brand do they even know what that brand stood for. Anyone who “reads me”, and I know there are many who read my beads so to speak, knows that I am stickler for a brand’s DNA, Houses such as Saint Laurent, Ungaro, Balenciaga, Dior, Versace, Givenchy, Balmain, Chloe, just to name a few have long legendary past with vast archives of what made them fashion icons and yet new designers are allowed to come in and absolutely obliterate what these names once represented; let’s call them the brand assassins. I cannot solely blame them since they have accomplices which would be upper management who are only interested in chasing the dollar via hype and in many cases far more interested in selling shoes and nail polish rather than selling clothes and perpetuating a brand’s DNA. This mentality has cast a pall over the industry and reflects in a lot of wildly expensive unattractive and unwearable clothes for an unknown audience.
art by Marc Antoine Coulon  click image to enlarge
 Lastly, you might consider the source of the comments or the commentary; in my 40 plus years in the business of fashion and I stress BUSINESS, I have been buyer, seller, retail, wholesale, clothing designer, jewelry designer, home accessories designer, clock designer, textile designer fashion book reviewer and more than I care to mention so my perspective is broader than most and my opinions while seeming old fashion always come back to the same common thread…. Women buy clothes to look beautiful and to impress other women and lastly they dress for men … the last aspect was once blatantly explained to me by a mentor like this …. Women who spend $1000s on clothes want to get laid! And that said by a woman who was a pioneer and genius in the business of fashion.
Lastly we no longer have critics like Bernadine Morris or Hebe Dorsey or editors like Diana Vreeland and John Fairchild all of which told you what they saw in the context of the business of fashion. The advertising dollar was always an issue but truth, or at least as they perceived it, was more important as was actually talking about the clothes not the venue, not the audience and certainly not the regurgitation of press releases. Some of us have seen the demise of fashion reportage via every means possible from newspapers to magazines to even online... it is sad to see something that you love slowly wither away due to popular demand or the whim of the times and the almighty dollar.
I don’t pretend to be the smartest one in the room but I have issues with those who think they know what they are just because they have a keyboard of some kind to express themselves, wear clothes or own a phone camera to show they went to a show and need to prove it. I just wish people would think before they comment and realize that your keyboard is not a license to offer pronouncements on what you believe to be the last word on fashion … read more .. Learn more... ask more... be knowledgeable... Don’t be a sheep and speak intelligently or at least try!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Chanel spring 2019.

Well this was reminiscent of a trip to the Lido in Venice but in my mind only the location rings a bell. I never equated tweed and sand not to mention heavy handed boxy unflattering tweed but then again who can crawl into the mind of Karl.
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All the ingredients were there: the tweeds, the trends, the pastels, the accessories, the bags, the swimsuits, the sundresses and so much more but then when put together let’s just say that the chef’s “soufflé fell flat!”

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The moving carton like jackets hold no appeal to these eyes but then again as it Karl’s wont, he gives you so many choices that there are bound to be pieces that hit the mark and then some. I found the bike shorts amusing paired with the body con jackets even though I’m pretty sure he pulled that out of his past bag of tricks. The criss cross quilted bags and straw Chanel box bag will no doubt cause a stampede, but what really stuck me was this is the first time  he has done denim that it looked right, it wasn’t forced, it looked young and it looked Chanel especially the dyed to match lace jeans and jacket.
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In total, looser shapes were in the majority and if there is one eyesore that is detrimental to the collection it is that length… that hideous below the knee length that rarely looks good on a runway let alone barefoot in the sand. Once again, Karl laughs at them all, he just does what he does and Chanel laughs all the way to the bank season after season because no matter what the clothes may look like Karl is savvy enough to always draw in his clientele with a must have of some sort and there was plenty of stuff here to choose from.
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The fact is that I found it disappointing and was truly hoping for a grand finale to a week of mostly lackluster shows and a lot of silly unwearable clothes to which Karl has now made his contribution. THAT, in itself saddens me.