Balenciaga Drops a Fortnite Collection, and Other News

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Image courtesy Fortnite

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Balenciaga teams with Fortnite to launch a selection of physical and digital garments. 

The meteoric crossover between fashion and virtual gaming has afforded both entities a large buyer market through in-app purchases. With 2.7 billion gamers worldwide, Balenciaga has tapped the developer Epic Games to launch a virtual collection of clothes and accessories within Fortnite that offers limited-edition skins for fan-favorite characters. Following its online debut, Balenciaga will offer physical renditions of the lineup spurred by marketing campaigns through real-world billboards and metaverse branding schemes. “The whole business of Fortnite is surrounded in this business of cosmetics, which are players’ choice of how they want to express themselves within the community,” says Epic Games president Adam Sussman. “These ideas of agency, fantasy and self-expression are very similar consumer themes around why fashion connects with people around the world.”

An archaeological study reveals garment making practices dating back 120,000 years. 

Researchers claim that the sourced bone tools and skinned animal remains in Moroccan caves are indicative of early civilizations sporting an archaic version of a wardrobe. Ranging from whale teeth to wildcat bones, the team noted how animal parts were fashioned into worker tools, thereby resonating the resourcefulness and hallmark human behaviours present in early African settlements. Ultimately, the study dispels the myth of prehistoric fashion as simply animal hides, rather it constructs a narrative about the utilitarian properties of garments serving a symbolic purpose or a form of elemental protection despite its visual appearance. 

The Violin church in Foshan, Guangdong province. Image courtesy Handout

In China, an annual vote for the country’s “Top 10 Ugliest Buildings” has kicked off.

Conducted since 2010 by “,” the platform hosts an annual forum to pick a group of “ugly” buildings in China to “spark discussion about the beauty and ugliness of architecture and promote architects’ social responsibility.” Although China’s dramatic urbanization has proven fruitful, it has yielded a myriad of questionable structures that cross-pollinate across various cultures. The resulting mishmash of buildings, ranging from a violin-shaped church to an Aladdin-inspired arts center, have sparked a public and governmental outcry for buildings that are “suitable, economical, green and pleasing to the eye,” as recorded by The National Development and Reform Commission, China’s chief economic planning body. The final results will be announced in December as the Chinese government plans to constrain the numerous eyesore structures dotted around the nation. 

Rhude launches a new vintage-revival collection that mimics the spirit of BODE. 

BODE, the namesake label of Emily Bode known for its upcycle practices and distinctive vintage aesthetic, has taken the fashion industry by storm with a range of collections that follow an Americana-inspired theme. A popular streetwear label, Rhude, is hoping to hop on a similar bandwagon. The brand’s latest collection eschews a steady rotation of athletic wear and ventures into a style that imitates Bode’s hallmark looks. Although it’s not uncommon for fashion brands to abstract design cues from well-stationed names, the question of success in Rhude’s BODE-inspired collection remains ambiguous.  

Tech “unicorn” Pacaso is turning homes into timeshares—and pissing off neighbors.

San Francisco–based real estate “unicorn” Pacaso, whose stated mission is to democratize second-home ownership, is already ruffling some feathers in California. Named after the famous Spanish artist Pablo Picasso with big-name investors such as Zillow co-founder Spencer Rascoff and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, the startup has been swooping up expensive properties in tony neighborhoods and packaging them to groups of eight people as quasi-timeshares. “If this business model succeeds,” one Sonoma resident said, “our town starts to become more and more like an adult Disneyland.” Launched this past October, the company is reportedly the fastest ever to reach a $1 billion valuation. 

Central Park Theatre by Manuel Herz. Photography by Nathan Keay

The Chicago Architecture Biennial opens with site-specific interventions in the city. 

As part of this year’s theme, The Available City, the fourth edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial moved from an exhibition format to a city-wide showcase featuring 15 site-specific interventions at locations in neighborhoods such as North Lawndale, Bronzeville, Woodlawn, Englewood, Pilsen, and the South Loop. Led by artistic director David Brown, this year’s event will explore ideas such as “who gets to participate in the design of the city” by pairing community organizations with architects to breathe new life into vacant urban spaces. Projects include a massive Outpost Office–designed pavement painting enacted by GPS-equipped robots, an architectural installation inspired by a children’s bounce house by  Studio Barnes, in collaboration with Shawhin Roudbari and MAS Context, and parking lot mural by Manuel Herz, and more.  

Studio Libeskind unveils Amsterdam’s first memorial to those lost in the Holocaust.

Spanning 18,300 square feet within the Jewish Cultural Quarter, beside the city’s Jewish community and respective landmarks, the National Holocaust Memorial of Names designed by Daniel Libeskind honors the 102,000 victims of Dutch Jews, Sinti, and Roma involved in the Holocaust. The theme of memory is fortified by the memorial’s reflective geometries, which envelop the engraved brick volumes that reference the Hebrew alphabet—put together, the mirrored shapes create a word that translates to “in memory of.” “My personal connection as a child of Holocaust survivors has made it increasingly important to be a part of this significant project,” says Libeskind. “I hope it will become a place for contemplation, hope, and an important reminder to fight hate in all its forms for the people of the Netherlands and beyond.”

Miniature vegetable gardens planted on the roofs of unused taxis in Bangkok. Photography by Sakchai Lalit/AP

Today’s attractive distractions:

In Thailand, fleets of unused taxis are being converted into small vegetable plots.

A giant violin built by local artisans hosted a live concert in Venice’s Grand Canal. 

Google and Facebook lay thousands of miles of undersea cables to ferry the internet.

Do the ubiquitous “Immersive Van Gogh” exhibitions actually live up to the hype?

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