Stromae + Mosaert = Maestro

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The stylish singer-songwriter Stromae often looks like a dandy from the future.

This Belgian pop star whose real name is Paul van Haver sold 1.5 million copies in France and 2.75 million worldwide, plus his videos have attracted hundreds of millions of views on YouTube. He creates the most striking music videos and is called the new Jacques Brel.

He describes his music style as a mix of hip-hop, dance music, salsa and French folk music and his lyrics often deal with social issues like absent dads or gender inequality. His songs are sad with contemplative lyrics, but you can’t help dancing to it.

He is an artist who makes his music and his performance a comprehensive image and has been able to set up a clear brand. In all his outings, he makes it look like he has made no concessions on his creativity.

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Stromae has been able to create such a consistent and recognizable image for his music, album covers, outfits and performances thanks to his creative label called Mosaert.

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The Mosaert crew consists of creative director Stromae, stylist Carolie Barbier and graphic design agency Boldatwork.

This creative team has developed several visuals to promote Stromae’s second album. They came up with a different pattern for each song, which could also be used as an all-over pattern on fabric. Each pattern reflects the lyrics as well as the specific musical influences of each song.

These patterns create specific looks for each specific song, which are reinforced by Stromae’s performance in the video and in television appearances. These looks are very strong and do not overlap.

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For the song ‘Tous les mêmes’ (‘All the same’), which picks apart gender stereotypes, the androgynous artist created a half-man, half-woman character.

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The print which was made for the song ‘Papaoutai’ (‘Dad, where are you?’) shows a little boy sitting on his father’s shoulders.

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The song ‘Formidable’ was supported by a wonderful drunk act in Stromae’s video and in live performances and is accompanied by a pattern of carboard moving boxes. He sings about breaking up with his girlfriend, the pattern of moving boxes with ‘ fragile’  marks on it adds to the story.


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Fashion

The label Mosaert entered the fashion business last April and their first collection of polo’s and socks sold out in a matter of days. The clothing is manufactured in Europe (France, Belgium and Portugal) and only available in limited stocks.

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The second collection isn’t big either; it only consists of polo’s, shirts, cardigans and socks. The style is English, mixed with the geometric patterns and the warm colours of African wax patterns. The Escher-like prints are mainly built up from clear grids and isometric perspectives in jacquards. It’s all in the details and it seems like they have made no concessions, like Stromae’s music.

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All of the products are unisex, again referring to the recurrent theme of gender differences

Prices range from €17 for socks to €148 for a cardigan or a pull. The collection is available at Hunting and Collecting in Brussels (Kartuizerstraat 17), Colette in Paris (213 Rue Saint-Honoré) and in the Mosaert webshop.

 

Images from Italian Vogue Italia, mosaert.com, Boldatwork.

Parque Lage and the School of Visual Arts

Famous for its vibrant culture and music, people come to Rio de Janeiro from all over the world to get a taste of the magic. Just a short walk past the beautiful botanic gardens of Rio – Jardim Botanico – there is a hidden gem which is easily overlooked. I bit down Rue Jardim Botanico you will find the cobbled driveway of the public park Parque Lage. Walking through rows of palm trees and breathing in the sweet scents of the jungle, you will find a colonial mansion at the foot of the Corcovado Mountain with on its top Christo Redentor.

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Parque Lage was established in 1660 and spreads over 128 acres. It’s part of the much larger Tijuca National Park. The park is has been influenced by its owners throughout the years, like the stables from colonial times, when the property was a sugar mill belonging to Rodrigo de Freitas de Mello Castro, and the garden designs of the English landscaping artist John Tyndale, commissioned by the English owner in 1940.

The beautiful mansion was given its current shape in the early 1920s. Thanks to his family’s shipping company, entrepreneur Henrique Lage (1881-1941) had become one of the country’s richest men. He fell in love with Italian mezzo soprano Gabriella Besanzoni  (1888-1962) when she was performing in Rio de Janeiro. He asked Italian architect Mario Vodrel to remodel the existing house to a Roman palace, so that Gabrielle would feel at home. A beautiful facade and arcades were added, along with an atrium and a pool. In its interior, Salvador Sabaté installed his frescoes. This obviously swept her off her feet and they both lived happily ever after in the mansion.

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After the couple had passed, the mansion became the Visual Arts School of Parque Lage in 1975. The park’s gardens and architecture are now protected heritage. When you step into the courtyard, there is activity everywhere. On the left side of the courtyard you will find a café where people sit around drinking coffee and discussing their work. With its tranquil pool as centerpiece, students are scattered around the corridors, working on canvasses and sheets of paper tacked on to their easels and the walls.

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 Images by Eefje Sandmann

Olivia Bee

Like many of generation Y, she too has captured her life through photographs and online posts. A big difference with her peers is that Olivia Bee does it quite well. The twenty year old now photographs and directs campaigns for Hermès and Cacharel.

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Olivia Bee was born in 1994 as Olivia Bolles in a suburb of Portland, Oregon. Yes, for those who remember, this was the year when the Lion King came out and Friends started their first season, she is thát young. She was surrounded by a creative family who gave her the freedom to follow her passion. As an eleven-year-old she follows a photography course in school, as a fourteen-year-old she is asked by Converse to shoot their ad campaign. Things can happen fast.


Lifelong summer

After taking the photography course, she got out her mother’s old Pentax camera from the attic, photographs the world around her and puts her pictures on her blog, Tumblr and Flickr. Here she shares parties, boredom, first kisses and the zest for life of her generation. The pictures are her diary and give a recognizable image of the everyday teenage life.

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Her blog consists mainly of pictures, she doesn’t write many texts. The only thing she wrote about her rejection of the college of her choice was “Lifelong summer”, which is quite badass if you ask me.

One tough cookie

With her blond curls and her round, childlike face, it seems like she has jumped straight out of a Lewis Carroll story, but looks are deceptive, because Oliva Bee is one tough cookie. She works hard at her photography knowledge and eventually develops a recognizable style.

Floating on a lake looking at the stars, waking up in the rose garden or encountering a deer on a beautiful spring day. In the Portland neighbourhood, nature is apparently never far away, what results in beautiful, dreamy images which define her style.

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Even after her international success she still holds on to her blog, where she posts almost all of her pictures. Why, you ask?  “In a museum, how many people actually look at my pictures? Fifty, a hundred, a thousand? On the Internet, there are millions, maybe more.”

Forever young

Older photographers try very hard to stage youth in their pictures. Olivia Bee is able to capture youthfulness in its purest form, because she is right in the middle of it. She tries to capture the everyday life in an exceptional way.  ” Life is beautiful, perfect, and cinematic, if you look at the right moments. It’s not always an accurate summary of life in general, but it is those specific moments that make it worth living anyway.”

Her pictures and videos always have a touch of nostalgia and heaviness. She often uses her friends as models, making her pictures sometimes look like a documentary. It is therefore in every respect the opposite of established photographers and Russian supermodels. Her images are dreamy, smooth and have an ocher-colored or pink tinge. The people in her pictures often have an innocent and seductive look at the same time. Despite what her photography teachers have taught her about composition, she places the subject almost always in the middle of the image.

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International success

Meanwhile, armed with a new camera, she storms the international fashion scene. After being discovered by Converse, she hasn’t sat still for a day and flies around the world. She has created beautiful shoots and videos for  L’Oréal, Vogue, Nike, Levi’s and Adidas. Especially for fashion designer Roger Vivier she made beautiful images. She also made editorials for the New York Times, Seventeen Magazine, Le Figaro, Der Spiegel, Zeit Magazin and has a recurring column in the French newspaper Le Monde.

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Images from oliviabee.com