Down the (digital) rabbit hole

It was now 150 years ago that Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland made its first appearance into the book shelves. Lewis Carroll’s bizarre and nonsensical novel has gained such a popularity over the decades, that it has never once stopped being a source of inspiration across all arts. Its whimsical stories, wonderful characters and witty wordplays have effectively transcended the context of literature and made their way into our collective imagination, and it feels as if this bond can never be severed: you say white rabbit, you think of Alice; you say hatter, you think of the Mad one; you say Cheshire, you think of the Cat’s mischievous grin; you say Queen of Hearts, you think “Off with their heads!”.

Down the (digital) rabbit hole: Book illustrations @Thorns Have Roses

It therefore comes without saying that this year’s anniversary will spark lots of new, creative ways to pay homage to such a big part of popular culture. One of these is undoubtedly a new production opening at the London’s National Theatre. (pronounced “wonder-dot-land”) is a new musical inspired by Lewis Carroll’s iconic story and it’s about a young girl, Aly, who, trapped in a life from which she feels alienated and surrounded by people who constantly disappoint her, disappears into another wonderful (online) world through the “rabbit hole” of her smartphone.

Combining live theatre and digital technology, Rufus Norris stages what they call an “immersive digital installation”, venturing into an exploration of the potential of theatre and video. The wide range of technologies used by their creative team (from motion picture and facial motion capture to the creation of a full 3d character) marries perfectly with the uber-modern online-age reinterpretation of Alice’s adventures, which touches on topics such as virtual realities, idealised avatars and Internet gambling addiction.

Down the (digital) rabbit hole: Musical National Theatre London @Thorns Have RosesDown the (digital) rabbit hole: Musical National Theatre London @Thorns Have RosesDown the (digital) rabbit hole: Musical National Theatre London @Thorns Have RosesDown the (digital) rabbit hole: Musical National Theatre London @Thorns Have Roses

The contrast between the dullness of the real world and the fantastical glitz of, the fictional online game, is in large part achieved through technology. ‘The video is really important to create that contrast’, says Betsy Dadd, assistant designer. ‘The real world is made into a very analog, black and white, handmade way. And then we transition into this technicolour, computer-generated landscape’.

Vogue didn’t miss the chance to join the celebrations, and their December issue features Kendall Jenner posing alongside the cast from in a uniquely quirky and wacky photoshoot by Mert and Marcus.

Rocking bleached hair and dark eye make-up, Jenner is wrapped in bold and bright outfits, surrounded by fantastical characters and weird sets that are out of this world.

Down the (digital) rabbit hole: Kendall Jenner for Vogue @Thorns Have RosesDown the (digital) rabbit hole: Kendall Jenner for Vogue @Thorns Have RosesDown the (digital) rabbit hole: Kendall Jenner for Vogue @Thorns Have RosesDown the (digital) rabbit hole: Kendall Jenner for Vogue @Thorns Have RosesDown the (digital) rabbit hole: Kendall Jenner for Vogue @Thorns Have Roses

This isn’t the first time Vogue takes inspiration from Carroll’s tales. In fact, how to forget the whimsical and magical shoot by photographer Annie Leibovitz, famous for her fantasy shots full of awe, surprise and intimacy. Similarly to Mert and Marcus’ work, here Natalia Vodianova, dressed up as little Alice, stars alongside famous faces the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs, Donatella Versace and Jean Paul Gaultier.

Down the (digital) rabbit hole: "Wonderland" photoshoot by Annie Leibovitz @Thorns Have RosesDown the (digital) rabbit hole: "Wonderland" photoshoot by Annie Leibovitz @Thorns Have RosesDown the (digital) rabbit hole: "Wonderland" photoshoot by Annie Leibovitz @Thorns Have RosesDown the (digital) rabbit hole: "Wonderland" photoshoot by Annie Leibovitz @Thorns Have RosesDown the (digital) rabbit hole: "Wonderland" photoshoot by Annie Leibovitz @Thorns Have RosesAlice2Down the (digital) rabbit hole: "Wonderland" photoshoot by Annie Leibovitz @Thorns Have RosesDown the (digital) rabbit hole: "Wonderland" photoshoot by Annie Leibovitz @Thorns Have RosesDown the (digital) rabbit hole: "Wonderland" photoshoot by Annie Leibovitz @Thorns Have Roses

Some stories are meant to last forever, and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is one of those. These images have the power to stir profound memories in us, summon up fairy-tale worlds of merry unbirthdays and late-running rabbits, and draw us irresistibly into fantastical realms of dream.

sources / photo credits:
Daily Mail
The Guardian
Child Mode

Villoid: like Polyvore, but with a Chung

Apps are like mushrooms: they just seem to keep popping up everywhere and all the time, in all sizes and shapes – but not all are good. Okay, perhaps not my finest metaphor, but you get the point. We live in an information-saturated side of the world, and in the ocean of apps that we are drowning in, there is always something that will cater to your needs – sometimes it will even create a need you never thought you had.

One particular app has been recently making an appearance more and more often in my circle of social media and technological gadgets, an app that claims “will change the way we get dressed forever”: Villoid. Alexa Chung has been raving about it on her Instagram and various socials for a while, with her distinctively bubbly and quirky voice, so my naturally curious and nosy had to find how what the deal what.

Elle UK Magazine, who reveleaded the launch of the new app, described it as “like Instagram for fashion, but with a buy button”, and similarities to Pinterest, one of my all-time favourite platforms, have also been pointed out. From my point of view, however, the main competitor (and predecessor) of this new app would no doubt be Polyvore.


Villoid is essentially a social fashion app that allows you to create “boards” (thus the link to Pinterest, which in my opinion ends here) to, essentially, put an outfit together, with a principle not so different than your classic Polyvore sets, only more squared and Instagram-inspired. Board can be used to experiment with different styles or perhaps try and recreate a celebrity’s outfit or a street style you snapped.


My attempt at creating a board.

You can pick your items from a huge database and each piece of clothing in a board can be clicked on and purchased directly from the app. But the app isn’t limited to the shopping experience, as it is grounded on a social media-like setting in which you can follow other users to see the boards they create on your feed, and even brands such as Miu Miu, ASOS and Acne have created their own profiles so that you can keep up to date with their latest styles.


“I suppose that scene in Clueless where the computer puts an outfit together from Cher’s wardrobe really stayed with me,” said Chung to Glamour Magazine. “Clothes are fun, making mistakes is fun, being inspired is fun. Villoid celebrates the process of getting dressed and showing your mates.”

It turns out this app isn’t as new as they make it sound. It was originally released under the name SoBazaar by Norwegian e-commerce interpreneur Jeanette Dyhre Kvisvik. After settling the app in Norway, Kvisvik contacted Chung to help her launch globally. By her own admission, Chung didn’t know anything about making apps and the technical mechanisms behind social media: “I found the social platforms I was on limiting in terms of expressing my involvement with and insatiable appetite for fashion by way of street style,” she said. “I had started thinking about how to blend all of these elements in an app format but didn’t have the foggiest about how to proceed with making it a reality.” However that didn’t necessarily stifle the success of the app as her major contribution was her huge following on Instagram and, really, her face.


“So many downloaded the app the minute Alexa announced her ‘secret project’ last week that the app was crashing,” said Kvisvik. “Social media stars are more important to young people than movie stars. Community trumps the elite. It is in this reality Villoid comes in, merging social media and community thinking with e-commerce. The world is changing, and the market places are changing with it, and we try to be at the very forefront of that development.”

Villoid is currently available in the App store for iOS and an Android version should be released by early 2016.

Apple Store
Harper’s Bazaar
Glamour Magazine

“Not Another” trend overload

Do we really need to see more pineapples, palm leaves and coloured foam? Have social media helped fire up creativity, or have they contributed to an incoming drought of genuinely new ideas? These and more are the questions that Sara Sturges and Daniella Treija address in their graduation project, Not Another magazine.

The repetition of themes in art and design is something I’ve found myself thinking about a lot lately, since I was assigned the task by my uni lecturers to identify, collate and categorise any recurring trends I was able to spot, using Pinterest as my chosen platform. In my case, these trends refer specifically to fashion image: anything related to art direction, locations, props, styling, casting and even post production can be affected by dominant trends, and my Pinterest account has been busier than ever because as it turns out, this activity can quickly become quite addictive.

However, trends have a sneaky tendency to seep through to a range of other sectors, and don’t limit themselves to just what we wear on a daily basis, like some might assume. If we look back to micro and macrotrends over the past century, it’s easy to see how every decade had a dominant character, a certain flow, a raison d’être of sorts, which encompassed not only clothes and accessories, but a much broader creative culture: architecture, interiors, product design, graphics and illustrations, advertisements, foods and, sometimes, the matrix of a whole new generation’s set of ideals.

“A trend can be emotional, intellectual and even spiritual. At its most basic, a trend can be defined as the direction in which something (and that something can be anything) tends to move and which has consequential impact on the culture, society or business sector through which it moves.”
—Martin Raymond, “The Trend forecaster’s handbook” (2010)

Sturges and Treija point out how the advent of image-sharing platforms such as Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram are responsible for shaping a ‘creative hive-mind mentality’ which has led to replication rather than innovation. This phenomenon of convergence of tastes and aesthethics has gotten creatives and designers stuck in a loop of regurgitation of trends, where the same motif or inspiration is reimagined, repackaged, recreated in a myriad of ways but so fast that it becomes difficult to stand out and not to drown in an ocean of design look-alike’s. “It’s absurd how repetitive design trends have become. […] Where did all the pineapples come from all of a sudden? Every photographer seems to use one for an exotic hint in pictures, but product design has also been infested with this tropical fruit. And what about all the products made from coloured foam or marble?”

These young designers’ project shines the spotlight to this phenomenon by dedicating each monthly edition to one ubiquitous design cliché, as voted by internet users on their social media. I find it a brilliant way to poke fun at these trends while at the same time remind us of the importance of finding truly original solutions and thinking outside the box (or, in this case, the black and white grid?) instead of keeping safely within the designer’s comfort zone of tried-and-tested trends.

photo credits:
WGSN blogs
Do Shop