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The Last Look: Wu Tsang's Wildness

With a migratory practice that includes party promoting, activism, community organizing, performance art, installation and filmmaking, Wu Tsang's itinerant creativity is at once multifaceted, adaptable to circumstance, singularly cohesive and spot on. This spring the L .A.-based Wu Tsang will conquer New York with a rare trifecta: a premiere of his feature film Wildness, which documents Los Angeles' legendary LGBT party of the same name, at the Museum of Modern Art as part of their Documentary Fortnight festival; and installations in both the New Museum Triennial and the Whitney Biennial. All this couldn't be happening to a more wonderful person. Wu Tsang's vision can help us all in extending the slippery issues of gender and sexuality into the even more complex zone where race and class further complicate the social dynamic.

Curated by Carlo McCormick

Wildness movie poster collaboration between Wu Tsang and Familiar, 2012.

Booty Call: Love it, Want it


MARNI Poncho by Marni at H&M. $149 at select H&M stores nationwide.
 TB Raffia Backpack in Natural Fronte.jpg
FRINGE Raffia backpack by Tory Burch. $550 at toryburch.com

 GL DAMN GOOD ADVICE flat cover.jpg
LISTEN! Damn Good Advice by George Lois. $9.95 at Phaidon.com
 Landscape Necklace.jpg
AFRO Landscape necklace by Lizzie Fortunato Jewels. $372 at vodboutique.com

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BLACK & WHITES Pierre Hardy platforms. $675 at Pierre Hardy, 30 Jane St., New York.


OXFORDS by Anna Sui for Hush Puppies. $130 at hushpuppies.com

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COOL Handmade flower and kilt pins by Rene Holguin. $45-70 at rthshop.com

 tomford.jpg JEWELS Tom Ford nail lacquer. $30 each at neimanmarcus.com

Fringe 'Small Victoria' in Yellow.jpeg
COLOR Yellow bag by Marc Jacobs. $2,995 at Marc Jacobs, 9700 Collins Ave., Bal Harbour.


Orange bag by Kenzo. $950 at kenzo.com

Pigalle shoe by Christian Louboutin. $625 at christianlouboutin.com


SNAP Limited-edition brass crocodile by Jonathan Adler for Lacoste. $2,500 at jonathanadler.com.

Playing the Game with Ai Weiwei

Alison Klayman's journey to Sundance -- where she received a thunderous standing ovation this past January for the premiere of her documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry -- was a circuitous one. Unlike most documentaries, labors of love that are often born from years of obsession and devotion, Klayman's was the byproduct of a casual encounter that quickly grew into something much bigger -- the dramatic story of a heroic artist at war with the mighty Chinese government.

After graduating from Brown in 2006, where she had dabbled in film (she made a documentary about the history of student activism at the university) and majored in history, Klayman, at loose ends, decided to take up a friend's invitation to stay with her family in Shanghai. After five months, the friend was ready to return to the States, but Klayman was hooked. "I was having such a good time," says the 27-year-old filmmaker, "and knew there was just so much more to learn. I decided to stay." She moved to Beijing, and determined to learn Mandarin, cobbled together an existence from a rag-tag assortment of jobs that included teaching Hebrew to the children of Jewish expats, working on a Jackie Chan-Jet Li movie and waitressing at a members-only wine bar. As her expertise grew, she began writing for various news outlets -- a Jewish news wire, NPR, CBC -- which qualified her for a journalists' visa and more freedom to maneuver through the Chinese bureaucracy.

Her life would take an important turn when a friend, working on an exhibit of Ai Weiwei's photographs taken when he lived in New York in the '80s, asked Klayman to make a video to help put the story in context.


"I first met Ai Weiwei in December of 2008 with the cameras already rolling," Klayman recalls. "I remember the footage of him walking into his office. I was there filming people from the gallery, so there wasn't much introduction. It was like, 'oh, that's Alison and she's going to make a video.' We got along really well and it was a cool headspace to meet him in because he was reminiscing about his days in New York."

While working on the short video, Klayman realized there was more to the story, especially now that her subject was about to break out onto the world's political arena. "I had so much footage that didn't make it into the cut, because it didn't pertain to the New York years, and I wanted to do something more with it and his story. I continued to check in with Weiwei, and it was over the summer and in the fall of 2009 that the idea of a feature film gained momentum."

At the start of 2008, Ai Weiwei, the son of a revered poet Ai Qing (who was denounced during Mao's reign and sent to a labor camp), was a known quantity with little more than a growing art world reputation. In May, a terrible earthquake killed thousands of children in Sichuan while Beijing was getting ready to host the summer Olympics. With Ai Weiwei on board as artistic consultant to work with architects Herzog and de Meuron on the Beijing National Stadium, the now famous "Bird's Nest," the world's attention turned to a re-branded China with a happy face. Until Ai Weiwei created an international incident by refusing to attend the opening ceremonies and publicly denouncing it all as scary propaganda.

Ai Weiwei blamed the collapse of the schools and the children's deaths on the government's shoddy "tofu" construction practices. Hoping to cover up the story, China went dumb, refusing to release the names or numbers of the children who had been crushed. Outraged, Ai Weiwei turned to social media, mainly using Twitter to keep the pressure on, and organizing an "investigation" that used the children's mothers to recover the names of the dead.

Established as a folk hero with growing political power, he now had everyone's attention. (Never forgetting his art work, Ai Weiwei made a heartbreaking piece composed of children's backpacks like the ones he had seen at the sites where the schools once stood.)

Subsequently, he was put under government surveillance and suffered a beating by the police, which landed him in the hospital.


Not to be quieted, Ai Weiwei continued to press his grievances through the official Chinese channels as well as his blogs, Twitter and the procession of media arriving at his doorstep. "I felt like I had to pick an artificial point to end my film," Klayman recalls. "But then his studio got torn down [by the Chinese government as punishment for his actions], so I went back and said, of course, this is important." She resumed shooting until his detention and subsequent release.

All this and more, Klayman captures in her charismatic subject, encompassing the political turmoil; his art projects in London, Munich and New York; his family life; and his status as "teacher" among his staff and followers. Scheduled to arrive in Hong Kong, he was detained at the Beijing airport in April of 2011 and arrested for "economic crimes." The international media was outraged, and Hillary Clinton helped pressure the Chinese government to release him, which they did some two months later.

A real life thriller with a not-so-happy ending, a gaunt Ai Weiwei has since retreated and refuses to speak to reporters for fear of being sent back to prison.

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry gives us a compelling portrait of a time in the life and mind of an artist caught up in the politics of his times. What will happen now is hard to predict. "I'm not sure that Ai Weiwei has it figured out yet," Klayman says. "But the way he sees it, you always have to find a new way to play the game."

Above: Stills from Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

Grimes' "Oblivion" Is Our Music Video of the Day


Check out Montreal native Claire Boucher's new Grimes video, "Oblivion," featuring loads of shirtless dudes (shouting, flexing, moshing), the backside of a streaker and motorcross sports.  The combination of watching Boucher bop around in these odd settings and listening to her elfin voice is strangely hypnotic...or at least we think it is.

Grimes plays Glasslands on March 24.

Married with Children

Jennifer Westfeldt has written and starred in films exploring same-sex relationships (her 2001 breakout hit Kissing Jessica Stein) and couples therapy (Ira & Abby). Now, she tackles children in Friends with Kids, her sincere, deeply funny directorial debut. Here, we chat with the actress-director-screenwriter (who's been dating her film's co-star Jon Hamm since before Don Draper was even a glimmer in Matthew Weiner's eye) about her real-life views on the subject.

Do you and Jon think about having kids?

We do. It's hard to know if  we will, or won't, or if it's too late, but, it hasn't been pressing for us. I kept thinking I'd wake up with some clarity about it and I haven't yet.

Is that why you made the movie?

It was born out of just watching the different ways in which our friends handled the transition, and being such a big part of their lives, but also being somewhat removed because we are out of sync with our peer group.

Do you worry about how kids would affect your relationship?

Sure. We've been in such a long relationship and it's been such a successful one and such a romantic one and we have the luxury of going wherever we want. There aren't a lot of limitations on what we're able to do and what we're able to do as a couple. Obviously that shifts and changes if you have kids. You have to kind of give up the old life and reign in the new, and that's a big decision.

Sound Familiar?

Michael B. Jordan
If it weren't for his middle initial (short for Bakari), the Chronicle star's acting accolades would be buried within the dark crevices of Google, thanks to his slam-dunking name-mate. But even so, we're pretty sure the actor--who got his start on TV shows like The Wire, Friday Night Lights and Parenthood-won't fall so easily into obscurity.

Thomas Mann
It's hard to say whether late German author Thomas Mann (who penned Death in Venice), would approve of his namesake's new film, Project X. The movie's about a high-school bash that makes the party in Superbad look like a low-key kegger. But who knows, things could get pretty wild in pre-War Munich.

Jayson Blair
Could the fallen New York Times reporter claim he's been plagiarized now that The Hard Times of RJ Berger star (strange spelling and all) is making headlines? Luckily for JB junior, in Hollywood, imitation is the highest form of flattery.

Illustrations by Scott Lifshutz

The Ladies of Slumberland Records

Since 1989, Oakland-based Slumberland Records has cornered the market on hazy fuzz-pop. In the past decade alone, the label has released albums from the likes of the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Weekend and the Crystal Stilts. Now, Slumberland is putting out full-lengths featuring three of indie rock's most talented female musicians. Get to know them below.


Shake-a-Baby, out now
Neverever lead singer Jihae Meek radiates pouty, vintage style and possesses the gold-plated vocals to match. On the album's standout track "Wedding Day," Meek croons like Ronnie Spector fronting Cheap Trick.


Frankie Rose
Interstellar, out now
Between stints in the Vivian Girls and the Crystal Stilts, and leading her own band the Outs, Frankie Rose knows her way around scuzzed-out pop. Her solo debut boasts a cleaner sheen, showcasing her instinct for innocent melodies and earworm hooks.


Allo Darlin'
Europe, out Apr. 17
Australian chanteuse Elizabeth Morris turned Allo Darlin' into a full band after playing solo for several years, and now the group's second album Europe is ready to drop stateside. On "Capricornia," Morris recalls the ethereal, insouciant guitar pop of the Vaselines.

SSION and Friends at Highline Ballroom

SSION in town is always a reason to rally the troops. Friday night, a crowd with umbrellas (and plenty of cute guys in high heels) lined W. 16th Street, waiting until nearly midnight for the doors of the Highline Ballrooms to open. SSION's Cody Critcheloe arranged for a stacked bill of openers (House of Ladosha, K-Holes, Alexis PenneyMykki Blanco), presented without interruption, who paved the long path to SSSION's grand finale around 2:45am. It was worth the wait. Critcheloe is is a consummate talent, equal parts creator and performer, and he does it all with original, fascinating style. Between the visual elements, the music, and the couple grinding against us from behind, it was a true feast for the senses.

IMG_7431.jpgAlexis Penney
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IMG_7471.jpgAlexis Penney
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IMG_7504.jpgMykki Blanco
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IMG_7512.jpgMykki Blanco
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Will Oldham Between The Covers

For a media-shy chameleon like Will Oldham, who performs as his alter ego Bonnie "Prince" Billy one minute, acts in movies like Old Joy the next and occasionally pops up in an R. Kelly music video, the last thing you'd expect him to do is sit still for a week-long interview. But that's what he did for Will Oldham on Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, a 400-page tome out in March. The idea came about when Oldham's label asked if he had any ideas for a book. "I wanted to compile some of my more readable interviews," he says. " They preferred new interviews, which bummed me out to some extent." So Oldham called old friend Alan Licht. "We sat in front of my fireplace for five days, and he went through a timeline and grilled me about things that happened, in sequence," he says. " It felt like I was at Gitmo." That miserable? "Being interviewed is like money and sex: It's something no one ever taught me anything about," Oldham says, adding, "if you can avoid it, do."

Kenzo's Paris Fashion Week After-Party with Diddy and Robyn

Ke$ha Wants to Save Baby Seals + Animal House Heads to Broadway = Eight Items Or Less

1.  Next week is Bodega Week in New York City. [Eater]

Screen shot 2012-03-05 at 5.46.59 PM.png2. Truman Capote's one-time Brooklyn Heights home is on the market for a cool $12 million. [The Observer]

3.  Ke$ha, of all people, has taken up the cause to stop the clubbing of baby seals in Canada.  Check out her new video with the Humane Society that asks for a boycott of Canadian seafood. [Buzzfeed]

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4.  Check out a poster for Movie: The Movie. [Vulture/Todd Spence] 

Screen shot 2012-03-05 at 6.12.09 PM.png5. The Tate Modern has purchased Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds, announcing it has bought 8 million of the 100 million seeds comprising the massive work. [ArtForum]

6.  Oprah will have the first interview with Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown's daughter, Bobbi Kristina.  The piece will air on March 11. [The Daily Beast]

Screen shot 2012-03-05 at 6.19.19 PM.png7.  Animal House looks like it's en route to becoming a Broadway musical with an original score produced by the Barenaked Ladies. [Hollywood Reporter]

Screen shot 2012-03-05 at 6.28.02 PM.png8.  Seems like the critics might be wrong about the viability of Kanye West's fashion line.  The rapper is showing his second collection at Paris Fashion Week tomorrow and Taylor Swift ("Ima let you finish") was photographed on the cover of Harper's Bazaar Australia wearing one of 'Ye's designs.  Interesting. [Fashionista]

Tips for Today: Dinowalrus Record Release + "Singles Going Steady" + Colin Snapp Opens at Journal Gallery

dinowalrusNEW.jpgThe Dinowalrus Record Release Show with The So So Glos + La Big Vic + Erika Spring (DJ Set) at Mercury Lounge

Brooklyn's dreamy dance trio Dinowalrus celebrate the release of their wonderful new record Best Behavior with a show at Mercury Lounge with garage rockers So So Glos, avant-poppers La Big Vic and a DJ set by Au Revoir Simone's Erika Spring.

Mercury Lounge, 217 E. Houston St. 8:30 p.m. $10.

n+1 presents "Singles Going Steady: Why More People Are Going Solo than Ever Before."

At this point, you've most likely read (and emailed it to every single person you know) Kate Bolick's super-popular essay, "All the Single Ladies," published last year the Atlantic, in which she takes apart the concept of marriage as the ultimate ideal. Tonight, she leads an n+1 panel with Eric Klinenberg (Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone) and Daniel Smith (Muses, Madmen, and Prophets), wherein they'll discuss the benefits and non-benefits of marriage in this day and age.

powerHouse Arena, 37 Main St., DUMBO, Brooklyn. 7 p.m. Free.

Colin Snapp, "Continental Drift," Opens at Journal Gallery

Photographer Colin Snapp's new exhibit features photos and video stills shot entirely through the windows of trains, buses, taxis and rental cars throughout his travels in southern Morocco. The Brooklyn-based artist explores the concept of tourism, and its relationship to the natural environment.

Journal Gallery, 168 N. 1st St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Opening from 6-9 p.m. 

The Morning Funnies: Britney Spears Through the Years + A Human Nest


Watch Britney Spears's face morph from a baby to the present day. Why is that background music so creepy!? [via Vulture]


"Super Morrisey Bros," a cover of The Smiths' "This Charming Man" done in the style of Super Mario Brothers. [via Flavorwire]

Nick Cave looks like he just swallowed a gerbil at the University of Brighton, where he was given an honorary degree at a ceremony held there last month. [via Dangerous Minds]

Spotted at the 23rd St. A/C station. [via Animal NY]

Jon Hamm photobombed Brian Williams and his wife at last night's Friends With Kids premiere. [via Jezebel]

This panda cub think it's a person! More animals pretending they're people here. [via HuffPo]


The Oreo turns 100 today! Here's what an Oreo package looked like in 1912. [via MSNBC]

MyBlockNYC's Video of the Week: Playground Fun From a 5-Year-Old's POV

TITLE: "An Afternoon at the Playground"
LOCATION: Greenpoint Avenue, Queens
DESCRIPTION FROM FILMMAKER: I strapped an iPod Touch to my five-year-old at the playground. Here's what we got. (Warning: Video is very jumpy. Don't watch if you're susceptible to seizures. Music by: Opus Orange "Nothing But Time.")

Watch Chanel's Paris Fashion Week Show Featuring Giant Crystals

Andrew Bird on His Barn-Recorded New Album, Break It Yourself

andrewbirdmarch2012.jpgOver the past decade, Andrew Bird has remained one of music's most unique voices; combining densely composed baroque pop with the soaring melodies of indie rock grandeur. Bird's best work is marked by hyper-literate lyricism and beautifully intricate, rubbery compositions that showcase his classically trained background as well as his prolific talents in both the violin and guitar. For his twelfth album Break It Yourself (out March 6th on Mom + Pop), Bird decided to loosen the reins and record the album with his backing band almost entirely live to tape at his personal studio (located in an old barn on the banks of the Mississippi River in Western Illinois). The result is a warm collection of  lushly arranged songs that move away from the forced-solitude feel of Bird's last record Noble Beast, playing with the idea that, in his own words, "autonomy is overrated." The man himself took a moment to speak to us about the Break It Yourself recording experience, the unusually scientific subject matter in his lyrics, and the preparations that go into translating this robust album into an immersive live experience.

The recording of Break It Yourself emerged out what was supposed to be a week-long rehearsal with your band in your personal studio, and you ended up recording the majority of the album live to tape. Have you ever had a recording session like this before?

I haven't done it quite like this before, because [the band and I] were thinking we should get together for a week, lock down in the barn, and just jam together, which we never really give ourselves much chance to do until we're on stage. And I thought, while I'm at it, we're going to record it. I secretly hoped we'd get something good, but I didn't put that pressure on myself. But there was something about the band learning those songs and feeling their way through it, kind of instinctively, and going with their first ideas. You can feel that we're groping our way through to the end of these songs.

In terms of previous recording experiences, have you always put together songs first and brought it to the band to work through afterward or is that something specific to this recording session?

I've never really given the band this much influence on the sound. I let my original visions of the songs slide, because what was happening in the studio was just as cool, if not cooler.

Do you think that because the songs you write have fairly intricate compositions, working through the album like this with your band will aid in translating these songs live better than a normal rehearsal would?

Even when there are records that are more produced than this or put together one piece at a time with overdubs, we have to think, "who's going to play this part, or who's going to play that part." I never liked that process, thinking about how we were going to translate [the album] to the stage. I would usually just take the song and boil it down to its most basic elements. There was always a little bit of problem solving when you're dealing with live loops. Translating Break It Yourself live is a no-brainer, because we recorded it live. There is really only one song, "Orpheo Looks Back," that's going to be a little tricky because I did that one at the top by myself. It has weird time signatures, and there's no drum set on it, so it's like, "what does the drummer play?"

You can hear this warmer analog vibe on the album that you got from recording on the 8-track. Do you think those residual effects of the recording process, which can be more atmospheric and intangible, enhance a song in ways you couldn't know when you were writing it?

There are so many things that go into a recording, so you can't really give the tape all the credit. "Polynation" was actually recorded on my iPhone. But it got mixed to tape. But analog is kind of a religion that is questionable in regards to how much it really affects a sound when you do a blind taste test. But it's good to have a little bit of religion; something ceremonial about the process that helps you. The real thing that helped influence this record was the room, a big open barn with a wood ceiling, and the fact that we only had seven tracks, and no more. But the tape has something as well. We were using an old stock, and there is a bleed through, and there are all these other anomalies and imperfections on the tape you can hear through recordings...it's basically a straight up failure of technology, little things that people don't notice. But there are also times when the tempos kind of fluctuate a little bit [on the record due to the band playing these songs live], when we're listening to each other and trying to signal to each other what should happen next.  There are so many records these days that are made on a grid, and this record is leaning left and right.

Looking back at Noble Beast, critics characterized that album as a record painted by the idea of solitude. Do you think you're trying to get out of your head a little more in an attempt to move away from that idea of solitude on Break It Yourself?

For sure, you can almost say that the theme of the record is realizing that your pursuit of autonomy may be overrated. And its kind of a realization that happens half way through a lot of these songs. A switch gets flipped on in lot of these songs where in the first half I'm going down the dark path, and the second half there is some illumination, or re-ionization.

In terms of subject matter for your song writing, there are these scientific, and more specifically, biological motifs that keep reappearing in your songwriting, and they show up on this record in songs like "Desperation Breeds" and "Eyeoneye." Why do you find these machinations in nature compelling to explore in your writing?

Because I'm curious, I don't always like to get the answer but I like the question. I'm just curious about these things, like "Eyeoneye" started off with a conversation with a friend about this thing called a teratoma, which is a cancerous tumor where the cells start replicating other cells in the body, so you open up the tumor and there's teeth, and hair, and your body just starts going haywire. And there's something going on in this phenomenon, although rare, that's telling us what we're made of. And I like those kinds of ideas, the ones that aren't discussed very often in polite company, and they tell us something greater than just being a weird scientific phenomenon. It's something that can translate to the personal.

It also affords you to use this strange scientific language for song lyrics, with words that sound very interesting sonically, and it seems like you're even using them correctly.

Yeah I don't know if I use them correctly, but that's part of the fun. I haven't gotten any angry letters from scientists. I tend to get a lot of letters from scientists asking questions like "Did you mean this?" They're friendlier than you would expect. You'd expect the curmudgeons, the purists, who want all your data to be accurate, to come after me. But they haven't done that yet.

Photo by Cameron Wittig

Join Peter Gabriel, Critical Feminist Corgi In the Fight Against Rush Limbaugh

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Upon learning that his song "Sledgehammer" was played in the background during Rush Limbaugh's insane rant against Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke last Wednesday, singer Peter Gabriel has demaned his music be pulled from the talk show. Gabriel's joined by several advertisers who have pulled spots from the radio host's program, including AOL, Quicken Loans, Citrix Systems, Legal Zoom, Sleep Number, Sleep Train, Pro Flowers and Carbonite. Additionally, after Reddit users organized a boycott, it appears that the movement has become more formalized as MoveOn.org is currently circulating an online petition asking Clear Channel (the company that produces Limbaugh's show as well as many radio stations and music events across the country) to discontinue the program.

Limbaugh has an extensive history of making calculated misogynistic and racist comments and he loves to gorge himself on all the media outrage over his comments. Whether you think we should let him keep eating and eating until he explodes, or that we should try starving him of our outrage, as this piece by Gawker's John Cook urges, is up to you. All we know is that we have a new enemy in the mom from Everybody Loves Raymond and we're looking forward to seeing who else will be added to the fray. Also, this Corgi.


Listen to Rye Rye's New Track "Boom Boom"

The "Voice of Baltimore," Rye Rye, has a new single out today. "Boom Boom" is a bouncy jam that will sound familiar to any late '90s pre-teen with its sampling of "Boom Boom Boom Boom" by the Vengaboys.  (We also like the intro, which combines a Missy Elliott circa "Pass that Dutch"-style "Hootie Hoo!" with a pinch of Ke$ha's "Tik Tok.")

The hip-hop artist has remained a steady fixture on the indie rap scene since signing with M.I.A.'s label, N.E.E.T. Records a few years back.  Though she's had modest success with songs like "Shake It to the Ground" and collabs with M.I.A., Blaqstarr, Diplo and Robyn, fans have had to wait a few years for Rye Rye's debut album, GO! POP! BANG!, which finally comes out on May 15th.

Scenes from The Virgins at Le Baron

New York City rockers The Virgins are always a good time live and, surprise!, we had a good time seeing them play last night at Le Baron's Absolut Encore sessions. The band has a new album coming out as well, so that's fun, too! Check out Zac Sebastian's shots from the evening above.

Theophilus London Plays Le Baron

Watch a Mesmerizing Video of Viktor & Rolf's Fall/Winter '12 Show


Viktor & Rolf presented their Fall/Winter '12 collection in Paris on Saturday and the Dutch duo did not hold back. While there were many pieces from the collection we liked--flowy jumpsuits and sheer blouses with sequined pockets and collars--and others not so much--fur cut-out dresses, for starters--it was the staging that really stood out. With a resplendent moon looking out over the windy runway, models casting distorted shadows behind a screen before emerging onto the catwalk, and wolf noises accompanying the music, the whole effect was a very haute-Grimm's fairytale.  And keep your ears out for the ornery photogs yelling "boo" in the background when the models don't come close enough to the photo pit.