Archive for ‘History’

June 1, 2016

Evolution of Carrera Sunglasses

Carrera is one of the oldest fashion sunglasses brands in the world and many will argue that Carrera is the very first real sunglasses brand. Of course Dior came before, but Dior was always a clothing brand adding sunglasses as accessories. Carrera made sunglasses only, thus it was the first real sunglasses brand. In 1970s Carrera also was best selling sunglasses brand in the world.

Since inception in 1956 sunglasses styles have evolved and just by looking at certain models we can generally pinpoint the era, whether its 60’s, 70’s, 80’s or 2010’s. What’s interesting is that Carrera even today sells some of the best selling models back in the days keeping the trend geared towards the brand itself, not letting the trend push the brand.

 1956  Carrera1956  Carrera brand was founded by Wilhelm Anger. Brand was called after Carrera Panamericana car racing event.

Current sunglasses that resemble that style is Carrera Topcar 1

carrera-topcar-1-s-carrera-topcar-1-s-47803-38453-3

 1960’s  Carrera1960  In 1960 Carrera brand experimented with new styles and materials. Optyl acetate was invented to make glasses more adjustable, hypo-allergenic and lighter.

Today’s style from 1960’s is Carreara 6015 S

carrera-6015-s-carrera-6015-s-70103-58566-3 Entire Carrera 60… line resembles those times

 1970’s  Carrera1970

Carrera1975

 1970’s were the prime years for Carrera brand. We can see how many everyday designs were introduced geared toward sporty men. Famous Porsche Design collection was launched in 1979.

Today’s styles from 1970’s are

Carrera 5025 S

carrera-5025-s-carrera-5025-s-70093-58557-3

Carrera 105 S

carrera-105-s-carrera-105-s-85062-71408-3

Carrera 5003 ST S

carrera-5003-st-s-carrera-5003-st-s-74846-62665-3

  1980’s  Carrera1981Yoko

Carrera1984BeverlyHillsCop

 1980’s had a whole history of style as its the era of many major fashion style changes. In 1986 famous Carrera Boeing collection  was launched.

Today’s 1980’s styles are:

Carrera New Safari S

carrera-new-safari-s-new-safari-s-74836-62656-3

Carrera 5530 S

carrera-5530-s-carrera-5530-s-74797-62622-3

and Carrera Carrerino 11S

carrera-carrerino-11-s-carrerino-11-s-74828-62651-3

 

 1990’s  Carrera1990  1990’s was a turbulent era not for Bruce Willis who famously divorced Demi Moore, but also for Carrera brand. Carrera brand sponsored two Olympic games in Calgary and Lillehammer. Financially company struggled which eventually ended in a sale out to Safilo group – an Italian company.

Today’s Carrera styles that resemble those times is

Carrera Carrerino 12 S

carrera-carrerino-12-s-carrerino-12-s-70143-58603-3

 2000’s  Carrera2000

Carrera2013

 In 2000’s and on Carrera was steadily redesigning the iconic brand to suit the modern trends. On a major scale there were nothing dramatic in new styles. Why change something when it sells well as is? In 2013 Carrera had first collaboration with Jimmy Choo – a fashion designer and added more styles for woman:

Carrera Carrerino 10 S

carrera-carrerino-10-s-carrerino-10-s-74822-62645-3

Carrera 6000JCM S

carrera6000jcm-s-carrera6000jcm-s-70138-58599-3

August 29, 2013

Christian Dior Loved Flowers and Number 8

00/00/1957. Christian Dior Portraits by Lord SnowdonDior online magazine gave us new information about label founder Christian Dior. Apparently Christian Dior loved flowers and knew a lot about growing florals. He had extensive knowledge of various types of flowers and his favorite one was lily-of-the-valley. This does not come as a surprise since we see flowers in many of his original dress designers. In fact, he was a master of silhouette and often said that woman should look like a flower.

Dior was also interested in numerology. His favorite number was 8. He used it in his designs as well, but more importantly incorporated it in his business. His atelier included 8 floor and 8 workshops. Number 8 is the luckiest number in Chinese culture because by the sound it means wealth. It is also a significant number in Japanese numerology and general Astrology. With enough digging one can find a lot of resemblance in number 8. So, we learn that Christian Dior was superstitious.

He didn’t have an easy life, especially during the war. During the WW2 Christian Dior was dressing up Nazi’s wives when his own sister was arrested by Gestapo and sent to a labor camp. He tried to help her via his Nazi connections, but in vain. She was released eventually and lived until 2008 outliving him by some 40 years. So, war and tough times certainly impacted Christian’s outlooks and to shield himself from troubles he used to work on his garden and grow flowers.
diorFlowers2Flowers are very easy to incorporate into women fashion designs. Raf Simons, current Dior designers put a special emphasis on using flowers in almost each and every run way model. The enamel rings with flowers put into production under past designer John Galliano are still extremely popular buy for women. Flowers are used on Dior purses and Dior sunglasses extensively.

diorFlowers

 

Christian Dior was openly gay, but his romantic connections were kept out of public view. It was not common to talk about private life with public and was not even considered a good tone to ask. Unlike today, famous people had a lot of power to shield their lives from publicity and press was respectful of that. Love of flowers can explain his sexual orientation as he tried to enjoy what women do and flowers at that time were among the greatest objects of admiration.

August 8, 2012

Tiffany History and Interesting Facts

May 17, 2012

Signature Elements of Persol Sunglasses. Origin, History, Current Use

History of Persol sunglasses began during the First World War in the Italian city of Turin. At that time, local photographer, Giuseppe Ratti, was spending a lot of time at the airport talking to the pilots. He noted that they often complained about sun glare. Since Ratti was a photographer and had some idea of the optics, I decided to take up the development of protective eyewear, which would be comfortable to wear and good enough to protect their pilots by the bright sun and wind.

He developed in 1917 Points Protector, consisting of two brown lenses, mounted in rubber with the strap around the head. This sunglasses model soon became widely used in the Italian air force. This model was even tested on an Italian aviator Francesco De Pinedo, during his trip across the Atlantic, which lasted 193 hours.

1957 marks a release of Persol 0649, made initially to Turin streetcar drivers to protect them from dust and wind. Streetcars at the time had fully ventilated doors on both sides and streets were much dustier than today. This and later version Persol 2978 brought the brand cult status and became an instant classic Persol.

Persol PO0649 Persol PO2978
Persol PO0649 Persol PO2978

Since the beginning Persol sunglasses are made out of acetate – material produced from the flowers of cotton. This plastic material is hyper-allergenic and warm on touch. Much attention was given to polish edges on the bridge and temple points to make sunglasses fit mostly ergonomically.

The temple contains a signature element Meflecto, consisting of nylon and metal cylinder inserted into acetate to make a flex effect. This innovative system provided a very comfortable feel on the head side as temple flexed around a head. Today, no other brand name uses this technology.

The temple and the frame is locked with a silver arrow Supreme, another signature Persol element that by shape reminds a sword. The very first design of the arrow was made by the founder of the company Giuseppe Ratti, but since undergone dozens of variations.

While brand changed commercial ownership many times in the past 100 years, the manufacturing process remains heavily labour intensive and hand made. The classic models are still best sellers and reputation has sustained a century of economical cycles that did not affect the brand. Quality is beyond profit – is a famous motto of the company.

February 1, 2012

Today’s Style is Style of Individuality

There has been many blog articles recently discussing the fact that over the past decade fashion has not stepped forward and offered anything new. Remember 60’s, 70’s, 80’s? We can look at the photos of people taken during these times and accurately pinpoint the decade just based on what people were wearing. But since 90’s things started to generalize a bit and 20 years later there was little change in mega fashion from today’s style prospective.

Why fashion is not moving?

Or at least creates impression that it’s not. I can name few reasons and hope you will agree or disagree with me via comments.

Popularity of Internet

I remember when I first got introduced to Internet in late 80’s first term I and my girlfriends searched on Netscape Navigator was “fashion”. Suddenly, all fashion magazines, new designers, trends, things to buy were at my fingertips. With this huge variety me and my friends were able lo search for things each of us likes. And believe me, it was not necessarily current styles. Even though wide boot jeans were in new designer collections, does not mean people liked them. Somebody did narrow leg jeans, and someone was buying them. Amount of information on Internet related to fashion increased several million times each year. Press and independent press discussing what we should wear for our body types and age, access to styles trending in other countries like Japan and smaller countries of Europe became easier. We started to form our own sense of style.

Rapid Manufacturing in China

Before to make clothing was a challenge. Each of the big designer biographies (read about Guccio Gucci, Christian Dior, Roberto Cavalli in our older blog posts) talks about how emerging designers were struggling in a little basement studios doing custom clothing for a small number of customers for years before fashion shows became popular. When fashion shows became national events and later, international, these guys were able to showcase their creations and drive enough demand to build factories. They were able to attract investors, some like Dior, get a major buyout and create major productions and international distribution chains. They, big guys, were driving fashion trends up until 90’s.

Once China opened their doors, more guys got access to affordable manufacturing and spin new brand names much faster. Walk into today’s mall and see companies like Banana Republic, Mango, H&M, Club Monaco – they are everywhere and masses shop at malls. Want it or not, they took a major market share driving big guys into level of minority, oops, sorry … level of luxury. But guess what, they design what sells, hence what masses like. Therefore designs became more blended across past 40 years, a little bit of everything as long as it sells.

Rise of Paparazzi

Paparazzi is relatively new term. While they existed ever since hand held camera was invented in 1879, paparazzi didn’t emerge until early 1960’s. As fashion magazines looked for more stories, they hired photographers, such as Bill Cunningham, for interesting photos. Of course, celebrities became a major target, but creative photographers like Bill took many photos of regular people walking the streets. Regular people got more exposure in press, thus main stream stuff they were wearing.

 Press Becoming More Open Minded

With paparazzi making more material about regular people, magazines, against their own nature, started to show us main stream fashion, driven by malls and mass production retailers. Let’s admit it, today popular fashion magazines like Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan became much more open minded on what they cover in their issues. While quarter of the magazine is paid advertising by big guys, text articles talk about emerging brands and nowadays concentrate less on searching for a big new trend.

Big Brands Becoming More Commercial

Of course big brands who are at large today owned by huge corporations such as LVMH, Ralf Lauren etc, see dollar signs in front of their eyes when coming to work every day. They also want their high fashion stuff to sell to masses. They also open stores in malls beside Banana Republic and H&M. So, as of recently they have two major creative positions in the company: Lead Designer and Creative Director. Creative Director probes the market and decides on what styles will sell better when Lead Designer simply executes Creative Director’s vision with his/her own spin. Such tandems worked really well at Valentino (Valentino Garavani as Designer, Giancarlo Giammetti as Creative Director), Roberto Cavalli (Roberto as Designer, his wife Eva Duringer as Creative Director), Gucci and others. Big labels are no longer trend setters, they are simply trend followers. They follow what we, masses like and buy. So in the past 10 years, big labels are more synonyms of classic than fashionable. They try to produce high quality with their big label on it pushing the notion of timeless that will last for decades and be passed from mother to daughter. Otherwise, masses that they are attracting wouldn’t be paying 10 times more than at their neighbor stores.

 

So, I draw the conclusion that there is fashion. It’s just left to us, consumers, to decide what it is every time we make a purchase and create our own outfits to wear. We buy what we like, each of us, individually. We read Internet, see what people are wearing around the world, shop at malls and do lot’s of combining. There is fashion today, but it’s just individual.

November 22, 2011

Guccio Gucci, a Man Behind Famous GG. Biography and Label History

Guccio GucciGuccio Gucci is a truly self made millionaire with very interesting life history. When the first Gucci leather suitcase was sold, Gucci was over 40 years old. He, a son of a leather maker, sailed off warm Florence in his late teens to avoid a fate of his father who worked all his life making leather suitcases, belts and other accessories. Who would have known that, 20 years later, Guccio himself would revolutionize the luxury leather bags industry and solidify name Gucci in fashion history forever.

When energetic Guccio left Florence, he was looking for adventure. Best city for excitement was London. In London he got his first job at the Savoy Hotel. During his 20 year career there he kept many titles. Dish washer, waiter, bellhop, concierge were among the few. The pinnacle of his career was an elevator attendant. You may not think of this position as much, but just to give you an idea, Savoy was the first hotel in the world to operate electric elevator. This very same hotel was also the first to install electric lights and telephone prototypes. It was the most central and luxury hotel in Europe in early 20th century. It was the preferred overnight spot for all the celebrities and politicians who visited London. So ambitions Guccio had an honour to give an elevator ride to such famous people as Claude Monet, Merlin Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Winston Churchill and countless others. Of course, Guccio, given the frequency of celebrity encounters, was a true Italian networker. He made connections. He observed and learned their styles, their clothing, accessories, jewellery, manners and habits. And then, in 1921, when Gucci was 40 years old, he was let go due to age that was considered unfit for such an important role as elevator attendant.

All savings from the years of hotel service Gucci decided to put towards his own business. He came back to Florence and surprisingly, his father’s business didn’t seem as boring as before any more. With highest quality in mind Guccio Gucci starts production of luxury suitcases bearing the brand name Gucci and symbol GG. Targeting the richest population of Florence Gucci factory quickly turned into producing horse harnessing. Horse sports at that time were considered elite, thus only richest people quickly recognized Gucci brand and with little competition Gucci factory lifted to the new level.

Gucci's sonsGucci factory was inherited by Guccio’s 4 sons who in tight collaboration ran a business to expansion worldwide. During the World War II an iconic bamboo purse handle was born. Since war was a tough time Gucci wanted to create something that resembled humbleness while remaining in high class. Grace Kelly loved the invention so much that she was literally paired with the bamboo purse for years.

Gucci was the first Italian company to open a store in Manhattan in 1953. Guccio suddenly passed away the same year and his sons continued the family trait and eventually opened a fashion house under Gucci brand. The last 20 years of the corporation were rather shaky. Gucci family lost control over the company, one of heirs was brutally murdered and up until recently company almost lost its glory. And then was Tom Ford and now Frida Giannini and what we know of Gucci today.

One last fact is worth mentioning. Gucci was among the first, and today is the oldest Italian fashion company to produce its own Gucci glasses and sunglasses collections. Gucci sunglasses are over 30 years old! No wonder they are so classy and stunning.

July 4, 2011

Dolce & Gabbana. Their Story

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana

This Italian “sweet couple” – fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, managed to do almost the impossible. In less than ten years they turned their small Milanese atelier into an international fashion empire. When Armani, Valentino and Yves Saint Laurent were already cashing out on their corporations, Dolce & Gabbana were sitting in a small coffee shop sharing their dreams.
Today Dolce & Gabbana partnership has made a mark in a fashion history introducing decorated ripped jeans, a bra as outerwear and an overall “lingerie style” that turns women into real life sex bombs.

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana partnership is a living illustration of the law of unity and struggle of opposites. They even look very, very different. Domenico, a chubby Sicilian, is a reserved introvert, loves black and prefers to spend evenings at home. His father owned a small tailor shop. From 6 years of age boy worked as his father’s assistant. Almost with his eyes closed he could sew the sleeve to the jacket for which he was nicknamed “Mozart”. In his spare time as a hobby he created miniature suits and dresses from fabric leftovers.

Handsome, Stefano, 4 years younger than Domenico, confessed that at teenage years he was already a frantic fashionista. At the beginning of each season, he went shopping scouting for the most fashionable thing at the moment. Stefano – in contrast to Dolce, was born in northern Italy, is tall, lean and communicable, loves travelling and clubbing.

Before forming a business partnership they first became lovers. After 20 years together they broke up as a couple, but continue to do everything together – create new collections, travel, argue and support each other.

Their vision on fashion is what sets them apart from other clothing makers. They believe that the essence of fashion comprises of a few basic shapes: pants, skirts, blouses, jackets and everything is revolving around these concepts. They are not trying to invent anything new, but simply to offer their own practical and aesthetic version of what is already there. This does not mean that nothing fundamentally new can’t come out of the process. For example, the Italian sweet couple were first to put men’s suits on a naked woman’s body. They turned underwear into an outerwear.

They think of a future wearer of their garments and imagine the person receiving compliments on how they look. Compliments boost confidence and confident people feel sexy. In general, a woman can’t be sexy just because she wears a particular dress. Sexuality – it is something more: her attitude to life, her individual style or behaviour. But clothes can only enhance this trait. Sometimes a woman has no idea how sexy she is. And then, standing before a mirror in the dressing room, she suddenly understands – I have a beautiful body!

Another interesting fact about D&G creations is that they prefer the pure colors: black, white, deep red as oppose to mixed or artificial colors.

Inspiration is taken from real life characters – Madonna, Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida. Their amazing body, covered in tight corsets, their grace, their belts, lacy tops, and their large breasts and shapely legs drive men mad. Dolce & Gabbana propelled this high voltage erotic into their collections: thin waist, tops, bras peeping from under the jacket, lace stockings and transparent dresses. But D&G sexiness has tact, you never see in their collections bare breast or butt. Designers agreed that female body should look tempting, but it should not look indecent.

Madonna in Dolce & Gabbana famous bra

One of their dreams once came true. Their icon Madonna walked into their atelier to make a deal to design costumes for her tour. At the end of negotiations, they formed an agreement under which designers had to make costumes for “The Girlie” tour. Costumes were to be not only for Madonna but for all musicians and dancers. In less than two months Dolce and Gabbana had to produce 1500 costumes, most of which were sewn and decorated by hand. This collaboration left Madonna happy and designers in stake of a shock. At the time of signing the agreement one important detail was not clarified – the amount they would receive for their work. As a result, simple Italian guys worked as volunteers and Madonna has proven herself as a real “material girl”. Although designers did get something out of this collaboration – fame, experience in entering such agreements and an ability to scale the business to what it is now.

Currently the Dolce & Gabbana business produces a turnover of over $1 billion a year. Between two lines Dolce & Gabbana and a youth D&G company produces clothing, purses, shoes and accessories. D&G glasses and D&G sunglasses, made in Italy, are offered in Eyeinform online store since this year. Dolce & Gabbana boutiques are now opened all over the world, some in own label stores and some as kiosks in luxury malls such as Neiman Marcus, Sacks Fifth Avenue, Holt Renfrew. Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are still young and are set to create new collections years to come.

May 17, 2011

Eyewear – A Dive in History

Eyeglasses – lenses embedded into a frame to correct vision have a very long and interesting history.What started as an object to fill very important health function has evolved to the object of fashion. Since glasses were put onto a face from their inception lots of consideration was given to their look, lightweight and comfort.

It is beleived that first documented evidence of spectacles appears in Santa Maria Novella dating back to 1306 written by the Dominican friar. According to the documented fact invention is contributed to Allesandro Spina, a Dominican monk. Italy at the time was a glass making country of the world. Before 1300 magnifying glass was already widely used and it was made out of crystal. Traditional glasses lenses made out of glass, but because first models were made out of beryl or rock  they were known as beryls. Term “brillen” is still used in German to refer to glasses.

First surviving picture of glasses circa 1352 is currently displayed in the church of San Niccolo at Treviso.

It didn’t take long before spectacles reached mass use and by early fifteenth century were associated with literacy. This “image” item is common on painitings, frescas and engravings often depicting monks, cardinals and bible preachers of 1400-1900 era.

first glasses glasses history

The earliest spectacles were made with two lenses mounted in rims made out of metal, horn or leather. They were held by hand and worn only when needed. Later a bridge appeared that connected the lenses and pressed them onto the nose.

first glasses glasses history

As technology of lens production improved, so the desire to wear them continuously. Spectacles were prone to fall of the face or hurt the nose. This problem was solved by the arm that was added to the design of glasses at around 1723. Eighteenth century was also an era of widely developing fashion. Glasses were considered an important part of accessory and therefore many designs spurred. Handles were decorated with precious stones, various shapes were made and materials used for the frame. A lot of attention was given to the cases to hold glasses. Cases were engraved, incrustated, often made out or gold, silver and decorated with mother or pearl, colored stones and even diamonds.

An arm that curved under the wig holding spectacles firmly fixed on the head

Of course simplier materials were also widely used. Among them wood – the easiest to finish, industrialized steel, aluminium, and later optyl. Optyl is a light flexible plastic invented in Austria in 1967. Christian Dior was first to use this material in his collection of fashion eyeglasses and sunglasses. Other forms of plastic were used in combination with metal on glasses frames.

Today metal glasses and plastic glasses fragment the market. Silicone nosepads are part of all metal frames today. Glasses frames are further segmeted into full rim, semi-rimless and rimless that is possible to a very advanced technology of lens manufacturing and etching. Lenses technology development has its own chapter in parallel to sunglasses. We will be covering this in the future posts.

April 1, 2011

Valentino Garavani – A Beauty That Prevails

 

I know what women want. They want to be beautiful.

Valentino Garavani is an avid collector. Perhaps that is the reason why his fashion creations are often eclectic. His models can be recognized by a few distinctive features: the perfect silhouette, thin fabrics, embroidery and, of course, frequently used the color of red.

 
Valentino Clemente Ludovico Garavani was born on May 11, 1932 in Voghera (a town in northern suburb of Milan, Italy). Not much said about his childhood, other than about his parents who were loving and supporting of his art interests. They supported him going to School of Fine Arts and in The House of Haute Couture in Paris, the most prestigious specialized training institutions at that time. After graduating he earned apprenticeship at known designer Guy Laroche.

 

Upon returning to Rome, Valentino opened his first atelier on the loan obtained from his father. If not for the accidental meeting with Giancarlo Giammetti, we might never have known grand Valentino he is today. At that time, only after a year in independent business Valentino’s shop was on the verge of bankruptcy. Giancarlo dropped from architecture school to join Valentino as a manager. Valentino has never had an unprofitable year since. And in only 5 years Valentino welcomed his most notable customer, Jacqueline Kennedy.

 

To save the company from financial fiasco Giancarlo moved the shop to less prestige location in Rome and put more concentration on marketing. Success picked up with press recognising Valentino’s talent and despite his already fairly mature age pronounced him “the golden boy of Italian fashion.” Valentino earned an international reputation after the show in Florence. A historic “White Collection” was presented in Florence earning the designer a prestigious Neiman Marcus prize. The collection was named this way because of the use of pastel colors and light fabrics. Also, notably in this collection Valentino’s now trademark “V” symbol was used for the first time.

In 1969, Valentino opened its first boutique, which sold “Prêt-a-Porte” models in Milan and then in Rome.

Throughout the years Valentino earned a reputation of a flamboyant party-man, spending tens of thousands of dollars, and sometimes even millions on entertaining guests. He leads a very lavish lifestyle and owns dozens of château across Europe, yachts in many ports and artwork by Picasso and famous modern artists. He contributes the choice of this living standard to desire to experience lifestyle of his customers to help them look and feel beautiful through his clothing creations. This image was portrayed in detail in recent documentary “Valentino. The Last Emperor”. In the film one can see the most expensive collection celebration to date held in historical Coliseum.

 
Valentino often decorated his collection premieres and product unveilings by inviting famous artists and singers. Even in early years, in 1978 Mikhail Baryshnikov was invited to dance on Valentino’s fist perfume presentation in Paris.

 
Over the years, Valentino constantly expanded the boundaries of his designer talent and business drive. 1983 saw the launch of youth line “Oliver”. Gradually, the logo of the Fashion House “Valentino” appeared on the collector’s wallpaper, tiles, furniture and accessories such as purses, jewellery, Valentino glasses and sunglasses. In 1989 the designer opened cultural center “Academia Valentino”.

 

Valentino’s admiration of history and arts made him an avid antique collector. Many times elements of other cultures were used in his models. For example, his extensive collection contains a large number of Russian antiques. Inspired by the Russian cultural values the designer has created, for example, a dress with hologram of Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral.

 
In 1998, despite the relatively rapid and successful development of its business, Valentino Garavani sold its Italian holding company to Partecipazioni Industriali, while remaining as Creative Director. After four years the fashion house has been resold to the Marzotto corporation. In early 2007 the fashion house has once again changed hands, this time taken over by the British company Permira. In 2008 after marking a 45 anniversary of his fashion house in Rome and presenting the “Haute couture” Autumn / Winter 2008-2009 collection, Valentino resigned from his position as a Creative Director.

 
Valentino throughout his career has created a unique style that was embraced by countless famous women: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis , Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn, Madonna and many others. His style is largely built on his own rich persona with his own ideas and interests kept largely unquestioned and not criticized, skilfully shielded by Giancarlo. In the Last Emperor he is quoted saying “After me is flood” referring to a saying of Louis XIV that means concentration on self importance. This perhaps is the secret of a true Valentino style.

 

 

March 12, 2011

Real Heroes of Japan – Architects and Construction Scientists

Japan is one of the most susceptible country to earthquakes.

Yesterdays 8.9 magnitude earthquake is sixth strongest in recorded history of the world. Most recent disaster struck just 16 years ago in 1995 in Kobe taking over 6,400 people. 8.3 by Richter scale 1923 earthquake in Great Kanto took 140,000 people. Earlier 1896 8.5 Sanriku earthquake and tsunami killed 22,000. Another 8.1 quake, and resulting tsunami, hit the same region in 1933, killing 3,064.

While currently in the epicentre of the disaster, Japan is coping with sheltering from aftershocks, tsunami, nuclear station explosion and hundreds of collapsed houses and wracked roads. Today, a day after the disaster hit, world is watching speechless.

While watching raw footages of the catastrophe I can’t hide admiration to how well prepared the nation is to withstand the earthquake of this magnitude. With four major earthquakes occurring in the last 100 years according to predictions, one like this is expected to occur once per 2,000 years. The building code in Japan accounts for this happening in any year.

Multiple storey buildings are designed absorb the trembling of the earth. Base Isolation is architectural technique where the building at the ground level is mounted on large rubber blocks or sliding bearings. This allows the building to swing. The technique is now also used for sky scraper type buildings in the United States, Canada and countries where high winds are common. Steel carcass makes an underlying skeleton of such structures to provide necessary flexibility in case of natural disaster.

Sea walls in certain areas of Japan are over 40 feet high to shield from tsunamis. It has been reported that yesterday, tsunamis went over 10 meters on the north eastern shore triggering the flood that carried away close to 1000 people, cars, boats and landed airplanes. Should the seawalls be lower this number would have been many times larger.

The $20 million a year warning system consists of regional centers that send signals from 180 seismic stations across Japan. State of the art water-borne sensors are monitored 24 hours a day by a computerized Earthquake and Tsunami Observation System (ETOS).

The reaction to warning is well rehearsed in every single office and public building. By watching the video footages one can observe little chaos and immediate actions from people who silently hide under the desks, step away from the book cases in offices and food shelves in supermarket. In some footages we can see people wearing helmets as buildings still shake. No one can be fully prepared to an earthquake of this scale, but Japanese nation has demonstrated the world that each life is priceless and even statistically highly improbable earthquake is taken seriously by the government that creates building laws with single purpose to save lives.

This article is dedicated to Japanese architects, builders, construction workers and government officials who dedicated their lives to save lives of their peer citizens. Japan, fashion world folds the hearts for you today with respect and sorrow.