It’s been almost twenty-five years since their last studio album, but the memory of the Clash is alive and well at Lost City. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked The Clash number 30 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. According to The Times, The Clash’s debut, alongside Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, is “punk’s definitive statement” and London Calling “remains one of the most influential rock albums”. In Rolling Stone’s 2003 list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, London Calling ranked number 8, the highest entry by a punk band.
In John Robb’s description, The Clash’s debut established the “blueprint for the sound and the soul of what punk rock would be about…. The Clash were utterly inspirational, utterly positive, and they offered a million possibilities.” Jake Burns of Stiff Little Fingers, the first major punk band from Northern Ireland, explained the record’s impact:
The big watershed was The Clash album—that was go out, cut your hair, stop mucking about time, y’know. Up to that point we’d still been singing about bowling down California highways. I mean, it meant nothing to me. Although The Damned and the Pistols were great, they were only exciting musically; lyrically, I couldn’t really make out a lot if it…. To realise that [The Clash] were actually singing about their own lives in West London was like a bolt out of the blue.
For a limited time, Lost City is offering their collection of clutch bags inspired by the Clash at 25% off.
David Bowie’s Alladin Sane inspired many of our new scarves and bags.
Our scintillating new collection of scarves and clutch bags takes us back to our Rock N Roll and Mughal roots and taps into the very rich cultural history of Lucknow, the original lost city our company is modeled after. The history of Lucknow is steeped in the arts, decadence and eccentric rulers. The city was the Kingdom of Awadh, one of the last bastions of the Mughal Empire, and was once known as “Paris of the East”. It’s most colorful Wajid Ali Shah, the last Nawab, (1847-1856) who under different circumstances might have been a considered a great ruler. He was a magnanimous patron ruler who introduced several reforms and keenly pursued the administration of justice. But Wajid Ali Shah is most famous for his passionate support of the arts and his descent into a hedonistic lifestyle towards the end of his reign, when he lived a life dedicated solely to pleasure, surrounded by courtesans, singers, dancers and eunuchs. He was a composer, dancer and poet himself and several of his compositions are sung to this day. “He established a famous Parikhaana (abode of fairies) in which hundreds of beautiful and talented girls were taught music and dancing by expert-teachers engaged by the royal patron. These girls were known as Paris (fairies) with names such as Sultan pari, Mahrukh pari and so on. On each birthday, the Nawab would dress up as a Yogi with saffron robes, ash pearls smeared on his face and body, necklaces of pearls around his neck, and a rosary in his hand, and walk pompously into the court with two of his ‘paris dressed up as Jogans.” (Wikipedia)
Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, the last Mughal ruler of Lucknow in the 18th century had a rock n roll spirit.
The lasting image of Wajid Ali Shah is the painting above, in which the Nawab is dressed in a magnificent jewels and a beautifully hand embroidered “sherwani” which artfully exposes his left breast and delicate nipple. It is rumored (perhaps because of his love of dance, poetry and pageantry) that the Nawab was gay, or at least bi-sexual. What is certain is that he exploited the Shia law of “Muta” (temporary legal marriage) to wed dozens of beautiful girls he fancied. Hedonism aside, Wajid Ali Shah left a lasting legacy and some of the best known arts of India such as the classical dance form of “Kathak”, the light classical style of music known as “Thumri”, as well as several schools of theatre, poetry and architecture are directly attributable to his support. The sophisticated “aari”, “zardozi” “kamdani”, “chikan” and other styles of hand embroidery are also a result of his patronage.
Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry are Lost City staples.
The Lucknow of the 1970’s and 80’s we grew up in did not have Wajid Ali Shah as a ruler but the sweetness of Awadhi culture lingered. We grew up on thumris and ghazals and Bollywood, but David Bowie, T-Rex, Gary Glitter and The Clash splintered our minds, and dozens of other rock n roll idols and Pied Pipers of the West. It was the age of vinyl, and the iconic albums of the time are burned deep into our psyche and subliminally influence Lost City philosophy. Music in general is a major inspiration for our work whether it is the masterpieces of classic rock or the new sounds of today like The XX or Arcade Fire. Bowie’s “Pin Ups”, “Station to Station”, “Ziggy Stardust” and “Aladdin Sane” cut deep, as did records like The Clash’s “London Calling”, various Roxy Music releases, and the ever-present Pink Floyd.
We love The Clash.
It is not surprising that our new collection of scarves and bags synthesizes the past and present, and the sexiness and edginess of these pieces draw from our Mughal roots as well as the rock n roll excursions of our teenage years. Music is still one of our major sources of creativity. We had a blast creating these. We hope you will enjoy owning them!
Above shows just a smattering of Anish Kapoors work. The Indian born artist, architect, designer, writer, has been a powerhouse of innovation and inspiration for decades. Internationally acclaimed, his work has been housed at venues such as the Tate Gallery in London, Kunsthalle Basel, Haus der Kunst Munich, Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin, Reina Sofia in Madrid, MAK Vienna, and the ICA Boston. Notable public sculptures include Cloud Gate, Millennium Park, Chicago, and Sky Mirror at the Rockefeller Center, New York.
Kapoors characteristic design involves large-scale, simple, curved forms, usually monochromatic and brightly colored. Most often, the intention is to engage the viewer, producing awe through their size and simple beauty, evoking mystery through the works’ dark cavities, tactility through their inviting surfaces, and fascination through their reflective facades.
In his early pieces, Kapoor used powder pigment to cover the works and the floor around them; a practice inspired by the mounds of brightly colored pigment in the markets and temples of India. Recently, the idea of mirrors, reflecting or distorting the viewer and surroundings, inspires his works. Red wax is also part of his current repertoire, evocative of flesh, blood and transfiguration.
As per usual, LCP is fueled by progressive individuals plowing their way through the world with their creativity and passion. Kapoor is one such person. For those familiar with our design, it’s easy to see the synergy between Kapoor and LCP, most obviously in the “Forensic” and “Mirrors” groups of our hand-embroidered pillows.
Additionally, his themes hint at what’s to come from LCP next month…Stay tuned!
While nowhere does the Koran outlaw nude art, the prevailing opinion of religious leaders is that Islam forbids it. Moreover, nude paintings have appeared throughout Islamic history, according to Columbia University art historian Zainab Bahrani, especially in manuscript illumination. The fact is that what is perceived as a religious ban is really a cultural taboo imposed by a conservative society, much as it was in the West. For ages, even here, much of the social unease around the nudity stemmed from strict Christian discomfort with bodily pleasures. At different points in time, all cultures have experienced a waxing and waning of anxiety around the concept.
Lately, a handful of Muslim artists have become intrepid explorers of the taboo, daring to sustain the social stigma for using provocative art as a voice to explore and defend their stance on contemporary social issues. Through death threats, surrendered citizenship, protest and exhibition closings (believe it or not one even in Chicago, Illinois due to protest from Muslim students at Harper College), these inspirational artists are fighting people to stop fixating on the subject of the painting and focus on its message.
The motivating force behind LCP is much the same: a a desire to go deeper, beneath the surface of things, using hand embroidery as an artistic language to communicate our discoveries. For us, this manifests in our products through the juxtaposition of ancient craft and unorthodox design, and in our design, by finding a way to extract beauty in objects or ideas that most would consider otherwise. For these artists, using nudity in their work is a way of criticizing the subjugation of women, ridiculing the objectification of women in the West and their repression in the East, or merely encapsulating nudity as a metaphor for purity in Hinduism.
Click here to read the article that inspired today’s post.
Here’s a glimpse into the design process and inspirations for the next collection. Though nothing’s set in stone just yet, hardware, sequins and pop colors will be the vehicles for manifesting our latest inspirations from biology to rock and roll.
In order of appearance…
1. Anthrax bacteria by way of rock and roll…red sequins on black cotton scarf
2. Chemistry of steel snap buttons and silver sequins= funky, nipple like embroidery for clutch bag
3.Alison Goldfrapp: metallic sequins in electric colors locked inside rubber washers remniscent of disco strobe light
4. Fierce sounds of ADF infused with experimental trips of the clash= steel safety pins blanketed in tonal metallic sequins
A happy belated International Obscura Day to all!
We didn’t realize there was such a thing either. But come to find out, March 20th has been designated an international celebration of wondrous, curious, and esoteric places. We’re geeks about the obscure, arcane, abstruse and our design is inspired it. For example, a fascination with the objects, shapes, patterns, and colors considered trace evidence at a crime scene turned into a study of how to translate these somewhat macabre but intriguing objects into hand-embroidered works of beautiful, functional art. Thus, our Forensic pillow collection was born. Behind each of our products is a unique and rare story often evokative of things forgotten or overlooked, seeded with history, tradition, and sometimes superstition. Essentially , we value seeing beauty in the unconventional, without having to put on rose-colored glasses.
The Atlas Obscura, who took the liberty of dedicating an entire day to obscura, is a collaborative project with the goal of cataloging all of the singular, eccentric, bizarre, fantastical, and strange out-of-the-way places that get left out of traditional travel guidebooks and are ignored by the average tourist. But it’s not just about oddity for oddities sake. The Atlas Obscura celebrates a different way of traveling, and more importantly, a different lens through which to view the world. We dig it.
To celebrate, they organized 80 curious events in various cities for people to learn about. Two happened to be just down the street from our offices in Brooklyn. Click the links below the photos to read the stories…
The “Grandmother of Punk,” Patti Smith is the singer, songwriter, and visual artist known for integrating beat poetry and performance style with rock music. But moreover, she is a heroine, spiritual muse and constant source of inspiration in life and art.
On the surface one could take her for the “I don’t give a fuck,” brackish, grungy, rocker type, but that’d be a shame. Take a minute to read her poetry, or listen to an interview and you’ll get a glimpse of the sensitive, kindred spirit with a discerning eye beneath. Ultimately, it’s a fiery commitment to her sense of self and truth that sets her apart. Of her philosophy she says, “It’s about being conscious of who you are and using all the strength you have to communicate that.” Inspired by her own capacity to evolve, Smith communicates through her music, writing, and style in an effort to “slough off layers of inauthenticity.”
A recent article in the NYT pays specific homage to Smiths eye for fashion calling her, ”a rare spirit, with a rarer eye…She has a rarefied feel for that kind of evocative detail — no stray seam escaping her scrutiny.” Smith approaches fashion the same way she approaches anything else she does, with this sort of consciousness bathed in confidence. An artfully composed balance of grit and glamour, at once coarse and polished. “I didn’t understand why we had to present a different picture of ourselves to the outside world,” she says of why she dresses the way she wants.
We have been Patti Smith fans through the years motivated and inspired by the refined provocateur that she is. Our designs whisper to her grit meets glamour style and passion for communicating. The written word is a constant source of ideas and creative energy for us. Our Poetry pillows are a play on the complexity, simpilicity and power of text. Hand-embroidered in an ancient technique yet contemporary and minimal, they pay homage to those who have dared to be different and sparked others to do the same.
Phulkari, an embroidery technique from the Punjab in India, literally means, “flower working.” Through time, the term has become related to simple and sparsely embroidered headscarves and shawls made for everyday use. Whereas garments using the same technique but that cover the entire body and are made for special and ceremonial occasions, are now known as Baghs (“garden”).
Women all over Punjab have worn Phulkaris and Baghs during marriage festivals and other celebratory occasions. They were embroidered by the women for themselves and other family members and were not for sale in the market. The techniques passed down from one generation of women to another. Thus, it was purely a domestic art allowing women an outlet for creation and while bringing color into daily life. In a way, it was true folk art.
Traditionally the most favored color is red, because Bagh and Phulkari are used during marriage and other festivals. Hindus and Sikhs consider this an auspicious color. Other colors are brown, blue, black, white and metallic gold or silver for extra special occasions.
The motifs, colors and patterns used in Phulkari have religious and magical significance, and there is folklore associated with various kinds of Phulkari designs. Lost City took the intricate diamond motif and hand-embroidered it on muslin in variations of metallic wire and silk yarn. The Lost City Phulkari pillow collection, hand-crafted by our artisans who have inherited the practice, is truly special as it imbues the magical, auspicious and celebratory qualities of this timeless technique.
1. One who practices phlebotomy.
2. One who draws blood for analysis or transfusion.
Laura Splan draws her own blood for a different type of analysis: as a means of exploring how we perceive beauty and horror, comfort and discomfort. In her work, she aims to evoke a dichotomous experience by using formal imagery that, upon closer inspection, triggers a disquieting truth. In her own words,
“I am interested in an exploration into the historical and contemporary meaning that a culture projects onto an object, material, or image as well as in an investigation into its physical attributes. It is important that the work be reflexive and self-contained — how not only the form of an object can reveal meaning but also the materials and process by which it was made.”
Laura’s personal credo closely reflects the motivation behind the Lost City “Forensic” collection. Fascinated by the shapes, angles, and hues of blood spatter patterns, and the scientific, gothic allure of strands of hair, we sought a way to translate and transform these macabre objects into something at once beautiful and arousing. The hand-embroidered “Forensic” pillow collection resulted.
Splan uses her southern roots as a tangible bridge we can connect to. Meeting us with a familiar image or pattern in the blind space where we most often reside, she leads us to examine, see and feel through her unorthodox work. Traditional wallpaper motifs printed with her own blood, for example.
Upon first glance of Doilies, or Handkerchief (Anatomy of Tears), we recognize the dainty, antiquarian objects. A second look reveals, as a Discover Magazine review puts it, “the scholarly rigor behind the pretty surface…embroidery begotten by blood-borne disease…” The embroidered lace design mounted on velvet of Doilies is based on the structure of a virus and intended to challenge our constructed responses not to rest your mint julep upon. Splan’s Handkerchief is not the traditional one your grandfather kept in his shirt pocket, either. Rather, delicate cosmetic facial peel embroidered with a design based on the human tear duct.
We’re definitely fans.
Startling? beautiful? disturbing? Mauricio Anzeri’s work is at least provocative. And inspiring. Using threads of synthetic hair and discarded vintage portraits, Anzeri transforms a forgotten image into a three-dimensional object with an intense psychological dimension. The faded faces of someone’s ancestors are brought back to life through layers of bright and intricate embroidery.
The unique and unexpected visual language Anzeri has created is suggestive of alternative stores and identities. Often he emphasizes specific facial features, letting the raw image peek through the complex geometric patterns, suggesting their social relevance.
Anzeri says: “The intimate human action of embroidery is a ritual of making and reshaping stories and history of these people. I am interested in the relation between intimacy and the outer world.”
Lost City was founded on these same basic principals that continue to inspire us. Our products are hand-made by people who have inherited the craft over generations and refined it to the level of poetry. Like Anzeri, each Lost City Product begins with a simple, unassuming canvas and is enlivened by the hands of our artisans. Each stitch interweaves the past, present and future, blurring the dimension of time. The end product? A miracle of eyes and hands and thread and light.
More of Anzeri’s work…