Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Culture Kings & Queens

Watch The Throne album cover, in molded cardboard, by Riccardo Tisci

I was paging through Gwyneth Paltrow's delightful new cookbook, My Father's Daughter, at my mother's recently, and couldn't help but laugh at the dedication, in which she thanks her closest friends for being the reason for a good dinner party.  Among the not-so-subtly dropped names are Bulgarian royalty, Stella McCartney, and "the Carters" - aka Beyoncé Knowles Carter and her husband Shawn.

These are the kings and queens of high mass culture, a notion made ever the more clear by the release of Jay-Z's much-anticipated joint album with Kanye West, Watch The Throne, and the various promotion of Beyoncé's 4.  Watch The Throne's physical album is a piece of commercial fashion, a gold nugget, created by Givenchy's Riccardo Tisci, who designed all the album's artwork and is listed as its Creative Director.

Riccardo is the king of the cool kids these days, as well as a hugely influential arbiter and salesman of popular high culture himself.  Beyoncé wore a brand new Givenchy Haute Couture gown while yanking the chains of attack dogs in her very fashion video for "Run the World (Girls)," and rocked the hell out of some fall'11 feline Givenchy in the pages of W's Music + Style Issue. Kanye has been attending Riccardo's shows and wearing his menswear for a few years now.  Givenchy's last two men's collections permeate the various artwork for Watch The Throne, from the Rottweiler bandana motif (fall'11) on the "H.A.M." single to the bird of paradise print (spring'12) in the full album's insert.

Kanye and Jay-Z celebrated the release of their album amidst a tornado of ultra-cool marketing, from the chic listening party at NYC's American Museum of Natural History to the hip-hop hipster NoLIta "pop-up shop" selling the CD, complete with the tricked out Maybach from the Spike Jonze-helmed "Otis" video (now on auction to benefit the East African famine) and a Friday night party attended by Jay, 'Ye, and Beyoncé.  For her part, Beyoncé's 4 debuted at #1, and she's currently in the middle of a 4-night run at New York's Roseland Ballroom that sold out in 22 seconds online.

The Watch The Throne pop-up at 201 Mulberry Street in New York City

Givenchy Haute Couture by Riccardo Tisci in "Run the World (Girls)" video 

Album insert artwork by Riccardo Tisci

Watch The Throne album artwork

"H.A.M." single cover by Riccardo Tisci

Kanye West in a Rottweiler T from Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci, with the designer

Beyoncé Knowles Carter in Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci in W Magazine

Beyoncé in Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci in W

Is your head spinning?  Welcome to New York.

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