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Studio Visit: Atelier de Geste

Dancer-turned-designer Beau Rhee creates limited edition products inspired by movement and performance

by Nara Shin in Style on 31 July 2014

Choreography, Concept Shops, Dance, Fragrances, NYC, Studio Visits

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Beau Rhee has worked as a professional dancer in NYC for years (apprenticing with Bill T Jones and Arnie Zane), but in a superhuman feat, also found time to work for art galleries and fashion showrooms. Forever attracted to the visual, Rhee—a double major in dance and art history—found herself wanting to do more than just integrate sets and costumes into her choreography. Developing her design skills while pursuing a MFA in Geneva, Switzerland, Rhee soon after launched Atelier de Geste, a "performance-inspired" studio and brand, following the historical example of women artists (like Sonia Delaunay) who owned businesses on the side. A prop or costume used in an AdG performance or installation, for example, could be further developed into a design object or ready-to-wear tunic that remains long after the show has ended.

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Heavily influenced by Oskar Schlemmer and Ballet Russes, Rhee adds a tangible dimension to the ephemeral nature of dance and movement through limited edition goods that undergo a lengthy creative exploratory process. Her concept scents and leggings have been picked up by The Cools, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitter's Space Ninety 8 and more; you can also spot the latter in Pharell's dance-themed music video "Marilyn Monroe." We stopped by the Atelier de Geste studio in Manhattan to discuss her new tunics for fall, telling stories through objects and her current obsession with blue.

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What attracted you to this hybrid studio-brand idea?

One of the reasons why I want to focus on product—or things that people can use alongside the "pure artistic" choreographed fixed stuff—is because I learned about so many artists in Europe, especially women artists, who were involved with textile and product, etc., such as Sonia Delaunay, who's this famous abstract painter who [also] worked directly doing textile design. She was like a fashion girl: she made clothes, she made bathing suits. There's another designer, Eileen Gray, who's very famous—she was an architect and furniture designer. She had a storefront in Paris in the 1920s and she was doing her own carpets, etc. I found that in my research, I thought that was enriching in some ways: not only what artists made but how they practiced a lot of the time. I thought that it might have made their art more interesting—because they understand how to communicate with people in a way that's not like super esoteric.

And everything is still pretty new and sort of in a continual experimental state.

The commercial launch [for Atelier de Geste] only happened last year and my plan is to show new editions once a year, generally in fall—so I'm really not on the fashion calendar at all. [laughs] Last year started with the scents. The fragrances were the first thing that I showed.

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How did you come to develop these fragrances?

The premise of these was originally just, how to translate movement into fragrance: because both of these are ephemeral ideas. "Blood, Sweat and Tears" was about circles and blue—like repetition, water, etc. I would brainstorm addictive essences, something that goes over and over. Teas, tobacco, hints of coffee, woods that are very deep and kind of blues-y in some way. And then "The Good Earth" was all about upward, jumping and optimism. There's this speech in Charlie Chaplin's "The Great Dictator," that's very famous, that goes, "The good earth is rich and can provide for [everyone].."

Chaplin speaks in a movie?

Yeah, he's so prescient! It's the first time Chaplin looks into the camera as, I think, himself. It's called "The Barber's Speech." It's not dance-dance, but I think of Chaplin as a dancer—so expressive. That performance was the inspiration for "The Good Earth;" it's about the power of imagining utopia or abundance, almost.

It does smell really optimistic.

It's like a pop of neon green; it has all kinds of really precious resins like opoponax and galbanum, resins which were perceived as holy or precious throughout time. They were used a lot in religious ceremonies but it's mostly sap from trees, which is the earth. This one is very joyful, isn't it?

And then "Wild is the Wind" is from a Nina Simone song and that one was kind of fiery, with tuberose and musk. I'm brainstorming [new scents] now and I'm inspired by two different things of 'stone' and 'metal' right now. I found myself getting into more and more elemental, earth things and so I think it would beautiful to have two contrapposto scents that are more sturdy. I think next year, 2015, hopefully there will be two more then.

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What was the concept behind the leggings?

There was a really specific reference—these really cool Renaissance tights. Look at this man! I became really interested in how tights had taken on this sexed [meaning]; now women wear tights. The tights thing was very personal because growing up dancing, I'd always worn tights.

So if you look at photographs of the [AdG] tights, the inside is more sheer. The interior and the exterior are like this old school, Simone de Beauvoir "the private is political" kind of thing. For the lookbook, we have guys wearing the tights; it's this whole circle of trying to break down the gender barrier of the idea of tights.

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And this fall, Atelier de Geste be producing ready-to-wear for the first time. Can you walk us through the creation process?

The silk movement wear / tunics came naturally as an extension of creating a visual language for performance. I looked at a lot of atelier and workshop outfits of dancers and artists, the kind of boxy and free design that allows uninhibited movement and comfort. Ballets Russes costumes, free and simple with a lot of color, were also an inspiration. On a stage, color use and color blocking is a really effective way to communicate themes and ideas.

The basic shapes of the T-shirt and Tunics are for active people and open to endless interpretation. The length of the T shirt could make it a dress for ladies or a slightly long T for men. The tricolor aspect makes it a statement, a flag-esque piece, something to layer with a blazer or moto jacket, something special.

The Tunics all have high side slits that are measured to provide total range of motion for the leg—arabesques, plies, half moon pose, you name it—and also make them quite sexy, with or without tights. A lot of old Nijinsky photos picture him with a lot of deep Vs, as well as many other dancers... I personally think the neck line and the upper back are some of the most beautiful parts of the body, so the deep V of the neck and back harken to that idea. I also always need pockets, so there are hidden pockets nestled in the inner layer of the tunics. The single-layer design is all lined raw tussah silk on the bottom half (kind of looks like tweed). The material reminds me of Bauhaus uniforms or canvas painter aprons.

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What are some of the creative projects you are working on for AdG that aren't tied to a product?

I'm doing a "blue" project. It's purely artistic, there's no product involved—I think. (I might make tunics in a blue shade.) I've been obsessed with blue for a year and a half. In language, blue blood, blue collar, blue ruin (like the drink). Kind of how mystic and spiritual and beautiful it is, and also, there's a profanity of it too: "I've got the blues," and blues music. I've been writing notes about blue and collaborating with a few other artists to do sets, etc.

I've just choreographed three minutes of water spirit movement. Thinking about how algae moves in the water, a lot of hands, you know how when you're moving in the water, there's this kind of floaty-ness to your body? It's so much fun, that's my release—it's just pure creativity, I don't have to be bound by minimums and quantities and selling stuff. It's a non-commercial Atelier de Geste project, in the works officially: rehearsal has started. I feel like I need to do stuff like that, and then it feeds back to the creative process.

Atelier de Geste movement tunics (produced in editions of 10 per style/size) will be available in their online store on 9 September 2014.

Images by Nara Shin

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Mirabeau en Provence's Vibrant Rosé

Two crisp, refreshing options from the French winery

by David Graver in Food + Drink on 30 July 2014

Mirabeau, Provence, Rose, Winemaking, Wines, France

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Rosé consumption has reached a fever pitch—and rightfully so, as there's a beautiful ease to its modern elegance and a gentleness in the way it complements many meals. But with the surge in demand, there's now a market flooded with options, and selecting the right one can become a bewildering process. Thankfully there is Mirabeau Wine—now debuting in the US—and its two stunning rosé options: the Classic (2013) and the Pure, neither of which will break the bank. The former is a heartier, more gastronomic delight in the blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault grapes—delivering a deep salmon hue and a robust red fruit flavor. The latter, a Grenache, Syrah and Vermentino blend, gracefully incorporates florals, citrus and even white peach. It's an ideal aperitif that holds up long into the night.

Mirabeau's founder, Stephen Cronk, moved his family from London to Cotignac, France in 2009, with a view in mind to craft a rosé that truly reflected the sensations of the region. Cronk pulled together an expert team of winemakers and partnered with the finest vineyards, and Mirabeau turned out to be the ideal result. It was an actualization of a dream and that magnificence is evident. As rosé continues to win over fans, it will remain difficult to find one better at this price point.

Those in the UK and Germany can purchase Mirabeau's rosé online, with same day delivery available in select locations. For residents of the US, Mirabeau sells online, with delivery in 39 states—where the Classic sells for $15 and the Pure for $22.

Images by Hans Aschim

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Word of Mouth: The Sands of Ko Samui

A quick guide to the major beaches comprising this idyllic Thai island

by CH Contributor in Travel on 30 July 2014

Asia, Beaches, Holidays, Sand, Thailand, Travel, Word of Mouth, Ko Samui

by Jennifer Miller

Any trip to Thailand should include some time spent at one of the country's incredible beaches, which are known for their magazine-worthy shorelines packing fine white sand, cerulean water and luscious palm trees. Thailand's beaches are an ideal escape from the heat and bustle of Bangkok, offering quiet havens and cafes cooking fresh Pad Thai just an hour outside of the capital city.

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But many people end up gravitating toward the popular island of Phuket, which is not only overly crowded, but also has the potential for heavy spring and summer rains. Instead of following the masses, head to the sandy shores of Ko Samui in the Gulf of Thailand, which offers a variety of relaxing beaches for any budget. To help navigate the small island's major beaches, below is an in-depth look at the sands comprising this picturesque holiday destination.

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Chaweng Beach

Marvelous white sand, stunning blue water and $8 massages are at the heart of Chaweng Beach on the northeastern part of the island. But as Samui's busiest town, Chaweng is also home to a pulsating nightlife and seemingly non-stop dance music, which may be bothersome if you're not there for the party.

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Chaweng's northern tip is the quietest area to stay in (although the bass never entirely disappears), and is less commercial than the main part of town. The Chaweng Regent Beach Resort is decidedly one of the more relaxing locales, and a seawall prevents waves from reaching the shore adding to the mellow atmosphere.

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Choeng Mon Beach

A small crescent-shaped beach at the island’s northwestern tip, Choeng Mon’s cove-like geography makes it feel a little like a lakeside retreat. The sand is second to Chaweng’s; much of it is fine, white and dotted with marine plants that have washed ashore. Hotels span the upscale to the budget-minded, and many of them offer on-the-beach dining options for visitors as well as guests.

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The adjacent small town has a distinctly non-touristy feel, with locally owned restaurants and small shops. This is the best bet for peace and quiet and generally terrific sand, but not for waves and open ocean. And with many of the beach restaurants offering two-for-one happy hour cocktails, unwinding is the ultimate activity at Choeng Mon Beach.

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Bophut Beach

Located west of Choeng Mon, the sand at Bophut Beach can be a little rocky, requiring a few more (million) years of wave-wear to suit human feet. The ocean view is full of boats—sail and speed—that ferry visitors to snorkeling and diving trips in nearby Ang Thong Marine Park and Koh Tao island. The dive culture means small guesthouses rather than large resorts, and has helped preserve the charming fisherman’s village bordering the sand.

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The village features preserved 19th century wooden shop houses, water-view bars and small boutiques. Friday nights feature a “Walking Street” in which merchants line up outside to sell delicious—and scrumptiously cheap—street food. The neighboring town of Mae Nam is less crowded and has a locals-oriented walking street while the sand there is considerably softer, though less fine than at Chaweng.

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Lamai Beach

Located to the south of Chaweng, Lamai Beach is the second largest beach on Ko Samui, featuring a large selection of big resorts and smaller hotels. Both the beach and the adjacent town are less frantic than Chaweng and the blue ocean rolls into the shore in unimpeded glory. The sand is less smooth, however. Whiter than Bophut and less pebbly, it’s still sometimes difficult to walk on for long stretches.

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At the tippy-tail end of Lamai, there are two well-known landmarks; "grandfather" and "grandmother" rocks, which bear a striking resemblance to male and female genitalia. (If you’re brave, you can send a post card of the formations home to your grandparents.) After the requisite photo opportunity, head down the road past the end of the beach to Sabeinglae, a terrific seafood restaurant that cooks up fresh-caught fish for tourists and locals alike.

Images by Jennifer Miller for Cool Hunting

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