It isn’t easy to remain original if you are paying homage to another era. But the Shoreditch Book Club defies expectations with its launch event for the 1920s inspired “Visible 13” and “One Of Us” exhibitions. Surrounded by the bare brick walls of the Book Club, the crowd smoothly moves between fashion and art, between photography and model, 2013 and 1923 – with a slight twist: at the centre of attention are hats.

Beginning with the high street pieces by designer Dasmarca to the abstract constructions by origami artist Francesca Lombardi, I become fully consumed by my own and everybody else’s heads. Seldom do I focus my attention on the part of my body that is covered with a bunch of hair to the extent that “Visible 13” and “One Of Us” ask me to.

Perhaps it is because I am used to the hat being on a rack in Accessorize that the pieces by Giacomo Favilla, an established fashion photographer, make them so strikingly foreign. Plants, including pinecones and mushrooms, replace the models’ faces, as nature assimilates the human figure. Simultaneously, the technically intricate folds of the origami artist remind me that the complete retreat into our natural environment has become impossible – we seem to be trapped in our own constructions.

…navigate between red lips and – if not a Dasmarca hat – sparkling headpieces…

Despite the abstract concepts that penetrate Lombardi’s creations and Favilla’s photographs, the launch event as a whole is surprisingly grounded in an informal atmosphere and the popular 1920s glam. I see dresses that are remarkably similar to Zara’s autumn collection as they navigate between red lips and – if not a Dasmarca hat – sparkling headpieces.

Aligning with these elements of pop culture are photographs by the Book Club’s curator Liat Chen, who has taken models to the streets of Tel Aviv to explore the relationship between architecture and fashion. In her black and white creations, elegance is key. Acting almost as a middle ground between natural growth and pure constructions, the figures of her pictures are neither fully alive nor fully hidden.

…where lavishness was required and madness was welcomed…

The greatest surprise of the evening, was Jeroen Fransen’s rendition of 20s music. Dressed up as he is when he models for Chen he serenades us with tunes that take me back in time to a place where lavishness was required and madness was welcomed. It is an evening that leaves me enthralled by the possibilities of a new golden age, one that does not limit itself to Hollywood’s revived Gatsby or high street beads. 

Arts_4 Stars4 Stars

Visible 13 and One Of Us run until 8th February 2014

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